This article is authored by Dr. L. Gandhi Bhaskar Patrudu, MBBS, MD (Physiology), MA (Psychology), M.Sc (Biotechnology), Dip in Yoga. He is an Assistant professor of Physiology.
Recently I got some insights about the use of mindfulness and concentrative meditation in our daily lives. In this article I want to share these insights. In mindfulness there is some duality. You are centered on your true state (consciousness) and witness everything which is not you (emotions, thoughts etc). But in deep concentration or Samadhi there is no duality. You lose awareness of you being separate from the thing you are concentrating upon. Everything vanishes and you experience unity. When we become very mindful of a task, for example when we are playing or doing an important task, the process of mindfulness prevents us from getting fully involved in the task and the efficiency of the task will be greatly reduced.
Mindfulness has to be employed only when we need to detach. Suffering is caused due to false identification of oneself with what we actually are not. We are one universal consciousness, but we often identify ourselves habitually with body, mind or emotions. When we want to get rid of bad emotions or racing thoughts, mindfulness is very useful. For example, when one is very much identified with feelings of sadness or other negative emotions, it produces suffering because of the false identification .Then center yourself on the fact that you are not the body or the mind or the emotions and that you are consciousness and that consciousness cannot be affected / injured by any adverse circumstances. By centering yourselves on the fact that you are pure consciousness and just witnessing the negative emotions, you become detached from getting identified with the negative emotions and they don’t affect you adversely.
Deep concentration/Samadhi involves losing the consciousness of self or sense of “I” ness in the task. When we work, we have to find the pace of work at which we become completely unaware of ourselves, becoming completely immersed in the task at hand. Then we will be experiencing the bliss of Samadhi even while doing ordinary work; even the most boring work suddenly becomes enjoyable. At the point of losing oneself in the task, great insights can occur. Some of the greatest discoveries or forms of art were made when the scientist or the artist has immersed himself so deeply in the task that he has become unaware of himself. This is the principle of karma yoga. Even through work one can attain higher states of consciousness when one knows how to work.
But this process of becoming oneself immersed to the extent of becoming unaware of himself in the task can be disadvantageous if it becomes a one-sided habit without the simultaneous culture of the habit of detachment through mindfulness or other techniques. Because of the habit of deep concentration, one will often find himself becoming deeply immersed in things which are irrelevant to him. When something is interesting, for example a movie that we like, we become so deeply immersed that many times we become unaware of ourselves or surroundings and this state of immersion brought about by the movie is what that produces the blissful state or enjoyment . This is the reason why we become so completely involved in something interesting that it becomes very difficult to even stop the time killing task and switch to the fruitful task which we actually want to do. To enjoy the fruitful task like studying or writing or research or whatever, we have to find a pace of work at which we become completely immersed to the extent of losing self awareness. Too fast pace of work can cause awareness of yourself doing the work. Too slow pace can cause intrusion of thoughts irrelevant to the work at hand. Hence finding the right pace at which one can become completely absorbed is important.
While doing activities that you are likely to get absorbed into, but don’t want to get absorbed into, intermittently become your selves mindful that you are doing the task. For example when you watch a movie and don’t want to get involved so deep that hours and hours pass by without notice, during watching the movie, intermittently become mindful for a minute or two. This breaks down the deepness of concentration. And you can prevent being a victim of unavoidable attachment.
You become or get what you deeply concentrate upon. This is what Patanjali says, that samyama (deep concentration) on anything produces the corresponding qualities. Samyama on lightness produces lightness in the practioner. Use this principle to your advantage. Whenever you are caught in negative habits, feeling guilty about the bad habit is like doing Samyama on the bad habit. Instead, focus on the good qualities or habits and you get that good qualities or habits very easily.