Mind your mind!

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I’m talking to all of us smart phone holders. Our minds have been taken over by forwards, quotes, jokes, pics, and what not. Just like our phone starts ‘crashing’ due to so much useless stuff being stuffed into it – our minds do too! Then there are Whats App groups with their barrage of forwards. I agree some are rather nice. But ninety percent are useless and pointless! Groups have been made where no one says anything, except help crash your phone with forwards.

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Combine this with our over populated country, with people barging into your space to tell you this that or the other. As some would say “dimagh ki lassi ban jati hai!” (one’s brain is turned into churned buttermilk….)

So, naturally, when you picked the phone to make a call, you end up never making it, because you got diverted.

It happens with me all the time.

So, it is vital to find ways to keep our minds in focus. Use the same phones’ ‘notes’ or ‘calendar’ to jot down all that you need to do for the day. Yes, the ‘to do’ list is more important now than ever before.

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In order to accomplish anything we need a ‘flow of thoughts’.  So, there are two things we are talking about :

1: How to maintain a flow of thoughts?

  • By removing distractions. This is why people like Jimmy Engineer and many others I know have an aversion to the smart phone and Facebook, Whats App etc. “These are nothing but distractions!” They say. You can see by their achievements how focused they keep themselves. Yet, there are others who can keep a balance, in spite of using them.
  • Keep things restricted, and within limits. That is another way to survive with it all. (Only ten minutes a day? Keep time slots and stick to them.)
  • Timing: I managed to write over 700 articles for Dawn and other dailies by working during nights. (Thankfully, there was no internet then, or only limited one, so one could concentrate on work then!) Now, it is difficult, even at night.

2: How to remain focused on your present life. Tell yourself to ‘stop’ when your mind goes off track. Like we say to the dog, “Stay!” or “Stop”, so we do the same with ourselves – “Stop”. This is a point given by one of the leading psychiatrists of Pakistan, Dr. Muwadat Rana. But I believe he was talking about maudlin thoughts…. I mean depressing thoughts.

  1. Stay away from your past. Get out of the habit of reminiscing so much. You and I both know, most of what we ‘remember’ seldom even happened! Don’t believe it? Let me tell you something funny:

At twelve years, and my close friend Shib (aged 9), we were standing on top of a huge wall. There was this branch from the nearby large tree hanging nearby, so I had the ‘brilliant’ idea of holding it and swinging by it, like Tarzan. So, I held on to the branch and jumped, making those Tarzan noises. The branch snapped, and I landed on my bum! …. I couldn’t walk properly for days afterwards. A few years later, Shib said, “it was me who fell!” I said “No, it was me!” – So much for our memories!

I’ve seen this often happening among siblings. When something dramatic happened, several siblings claim it happened to them.

So let us take our past with a pinch of salt. Even our ‘now’ is distorted. Each one of us has different memories of the same situation, as we look at it from our own point of view.

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Like Islam. Sometimes, when I look at some Muslims, I wonder if I belong to the same religion? We all have our own ways of dealing with a religion or situation. So, each to his own.

Mumtaz Mufti a great Pakistani writer once mentioned in his book ‘Talash’ that Islam appears different to each person. It is like when two people are looking at a board, they are standing on each side of it. One says it is blue, the other says it is red. Both are right, because from one side the board is painted blue, and the other side is painted red.  It is believed that there are 72 different sects to Islam.

Yet, I know one thing, that in Holy Quran it is that if you try to divide into sects, then that isn’t Islam!

“Touche’ ! ”

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Silky a friend of Nadiya who is a Sikh once said to her in London:

“Each one of us adheres religiously to certain parts of their religion, ignoring other parts.” However the parts that we do follow are done so with great diligence. In that way, we remain ‘loyal’ to our religion, or way of life. For example Muslims won’t eat pork, yet many of them are corrupt. How interesting and true!

So, as I was saying “… a pinch of salt.” Just carry on doing what your conscience says is right. “Rab dillan wich rainda”. (God lives in one’s heart.) Said the great Sufi poet Bulle Shah.

I love what he said in another poem “Ilmon bus karein O Yar!” Bulle Shah says “stop giving me all that (crap?) knowledge. For me just one alphabet is enough which means Allah. “hik alif menoon darkaar.”

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It even applies to the current situation of losing jobs. With the downsizing going on these days, losing jobs is common. We have to have faith in the fact that our sustenance is in the Hands of someone Great. He will provide for us, as He did when we were young and helpless. Look back at your life so far, how much sustenance in your life was totally provided by you? So, actually, it was Him all the way, even when you thought it was your parents, your spouse or your boss, or whoever. In the same way, He provides for the birds and animals. Have you seen migratory birds flying with their suitcases? Or any birds or animals for that matter?

It doesn’t mean that we should stop trying, it just means that we should have faith, there is Someone up that who knows it all and has it all planned. All we have to do is remember him, have faith and be good to others.

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So, yesterday I met my friend Aisha she is into philosophy. She said, “I’ve seen you, busy and so active, I was like that once, now I’ve learnt to slow down. Just wait, what is meant for you will come to you, and what wasn’t; Won’t!”

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Is it called ‘the power of attraction?” I thought.

“If you keep rushing around too much, it won’t reach you, as you were too busy buzzing around!” So, just wait, and be patient.“

Simple!

Easier said than done!

She is calm, and comfortable and in command of her life. She has made her choices and is willing to take the ‘consequences’. – Finding peace from within.

I’m different. For me twenty four hours in the day are not enough. I’d love to do so much more! I love cramming as much as I can into my day. I’m trying to slow down too, but it is difficult.

One does have to mind one’s mind.

“When you do all that, your relationships suffer.” She said.

“Well, since I put all my relationships too in my ‘to do’ list, they seldom suffer.” (- I mean usually!) I told her. That’s how I do it. My loved one’s know that I include them in my tight schedule. That includes my Maker.

Excuse me. Prayer break now….

You’d be surprised how much a prayer break puts things into the right perspective. (Specially about minding one’s mind. How, the ablutions refresh one’s mind. How the actions of prayers always end up solving the very issues that you couldn’t solve a while back. Some people call them ‘diversions.’ I call them Allah’s way of saying “It was great having you here, take this solution back with you!”

For me, a prayer is my way of saying “I love You, to Him.” To thank Him and to humbly say “Please forgive me for my mistakes and this quick prayer session, and I want to thank You so much, for all your blessings. Even those I’ve not realized, yet.”

One last thing, Fairy, my dear friend said that her mentor once mentioned, “it is important for us to remain within our ‘istataat.’ An Urdu word meaning to remain within one’s capabilities, limits or requirements. Pretty often in life, we go above and beyond what is the requirement. In this process we tend to stretch our own limits (physically, emotionally and financially) and hurt ourselves and others. No one has asked you to do more, why are you doing it? So, stay within your own limits, and do not do more than required.

After all, we will only be finally questioned about what we were supposed to do, why bother about others’ and what they should have done?

So, lets not let a simple smart phone take our mind away from what is truly important in our lives.

Yes, mind your own mind!

Stay blessed – by keeping  your mind your own! 🙂

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Photographs by author and Nataliya Najib Khan.

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