THE MIND THAT NEVER SLEEPS

1. A couple of days ago, I was sitting in the balcony of my house sipping the morning cup of tea, reading the newspaper, conversing with my wife amidst an extraordinary pleasant and bright morning. The sky was cloudy with the possibility of impending rain, there was a clear view of the park that overlooks our balcony, with the first group of morning walkers going around in varied speeds and with pleasant countenances savouring the extraordinarily blissful atmosphere. There was a pleasant canopy of greenery all around with the trees and shrubs lining the park freshly awash from what seemed to have been an overnight spell of rain and the grass, freshly moved at that, looking prescient with the atmosphere exuding calmness and solemnity not disturbed by the screeching of tyres, incessant blowing of horns or people guffawing, conversing and even gesticulating in their unrefined glory — something which has become the hallmark of urban living — there was only the occasional sound of birds chirping — their reverie only lending a sense of completeness to what was turning out to be a perfect morning.

2. Of course, in the company of nature (paradoxically in a decidedly urban setting) with the company of your loved ones to boot, the luxury of a hot cup of steaming tea and reading the pleasant news of India’s unexpected victory at the Thomas Cup what else could one hope, aspire and wish for. All in all, an experience to savour, appreciate and be grateful for-not just for this but for all what life had given me.

3. Well, strange are the ways in which the mind thinks, programmes itself and operates. Instead of this feeling of gratitude, which should have manifested itself and in fact did, albeit fleetingly what soon took birth were the disturbing, nee depressing, feelings of frustration, anger and even despondency — a vivid manifestation of the phrase — “the mind that never sleeps”

4. Just to take an analogy of the mind were to operate akin to a “GIGO” (“Garbage in Garbage out”) system in which computing systems function — the overall package that was being fed into my system on that pleasing morning should only have facilitated a somewhat balanced mindset based on equanimity with thankfulness and gratitude as the core elements. But the complex maze that the human brain is, it neither functions in a linear fashion nor albeit sometimes, logically where, rather foolishly at that, negativities abound and demonic feelings incubate and even over-power its functioning and processes.

4. To take a bit of a detour, a couple of weeks earlier I watched Indian female cricketing legend Mithali Raj’s biopic — “Shabaash Mithu”. While the movie, as a package, is average being overtly steeped in stereotypes, what stood out for me was a scene in which she lists out what she has and does not have. In the early days of her career she lists out what she has — the list is a simple appreciation for all that life invariably provides all of us and which we invariably take as given with the other side, at the beginning of her career being blank. It was only at a later stage of her career, justifiedly at that, she wrote of what she did not have the “World Cup” mirroring her extreme disappointment at what was missing from her trophy cupboard and the one thing that she really regretted not having in her stellar career. Mind you what was reflected and pertinent is her deepest appreciation and gratitude for what all the simplest of things in life — loving parents, a great coach, opportunity to make a career out of what was her passion and ultimately to attain unprecedented success therein and the like — which are to be savoured and cherished

5. Extrapolating it to my own self, I could and should appreciate life’s treasures and offerings — loving, most affectionate, saintly Godlike parents; doting siblings; a loving wife; caring children; an absolutely supportive extended family; the most trustworthy and dependable bunch of friends; almost the most privileged education; a more than decent level of comforts, if not luxuries; a most understanding and appreciative work place with among the most congenial colleagues; a reasonable kind of recognition in my chosen field of work — what else one could hope, live and aspire for.

6. The calmness of the mind stays only fleetingly with the feelings of negativity and despondency almost instantly building, rapidly multiplying soon leaving their indelible mark in the innermost receptables of the brain — with the column dealing with the emptiness of the larder beginning to fill up and in fact overflow with a perceived list of what one does not have. While most of the items on that list are trivial and in fact stupid and foolish, the demons of the mind take birth and multiply alarmingly to manifest the perceived difference between expectations and reality, the invariably, and in fact inevitable, yet unfair, comparison with other segments of society, and the ostensible lack of appreciation for what you do and your capabilities/strengths. Of course, the feeling that your efforts are neither adequately rewarded nor duly appreciated is something that, to my mind stands imprinted in the most durable recesses of the mind with almost instant recall value

7. It was at this time and with a view to reclaim and restore some kind of an equilibrium in the mind-space that my mind recalled the following verse (also referred to in Mithali Raj’s Biopic) from “Natya Shastra”, an ancient Sanskrit treatise on the performing arts by Bharatha Muni which emphasises that the primary purpose of performing arts is not entertainment but to transport the audience into another parallel reality, full of wonder, enabling them to experience the essence of their own consequences and reflect on spiritual and moral questions:-

“Yatho Hasta thatho Drishti;
Yatho Drishti thatho Manah;
Yatho Manah thatho Bhaava;
Yatho Bhaava thatho Rasa.”

8. Translated into English it reads as follows:-

“Where the hands (“hasta”) are, go the eyes (“drishti”);

Where the eyes are, goes the mind (“manah”);

Where the mind goes, there is an expression of inner feeling (“bhaava”); and

Where there is feeling, mood or sentiment — experience (“rasa”) is evoked.”

9. The above verse at a glance seems to only relate to the performing arts but on a somewhat deeper analysis is relevant also for modern life and to arrive at a mental equilibrium. The shloka focusses on the two-way communication and symbiotic relationship between the body and mind, the interconnection between the physical elements and actions (“hasta”, and “drishti”) to the mind (“manah”) and the resultant sentiment or state of the mind (“bhaava”).

10. The relationship between the mind and the body and the power and potential of the mind on the body has always been discussed and focussed upon though it has been gaining traction in recent times (the focus on ‘mindfulness’ being an example). However, it is the reverse relationship of the body influencing the mind which has been, so it seems, less talked about with the fact being that the mind-body highway is not a one-way street but two-way with both capable of and exercising influence on each other in unimaginable and myriad ways.

11. The above shloka when extrapolated to and made applicable to our daily life emphasizes on some kind of a simple correlation of the physical elements with the mind which will cement the body- mind equation resulting in a vastly improved mental state. The control over our thought processes as they traverse the journey from the hand to the mind via the eyes resulting in the ultimate manifestation of moods, sentiments, feelings and expressions just to emphasize the obvious, is the pivot for mental balance and physical longevity resulting in the most sought after equilibrium.

12. In terms of dealing with life’s difficulties, challenges, anxieties and failures my mind went to an episode of the timeless series “Rendezvous with Simi Garewal” wherein she talks to the evergreen hero of Bollywood Late Dev Anand, endearingly, referred to as “Dev Saab”. When Simi Garewal at her charming and gracious best asks Dev Saab what has it been like to be Dev Anand for eighty years, he immediately starts humming the evergreen solo song by Mohmmad Rafi from the movie “Hum Dono” (which also starred Dev Anand):-

“maiñ zindagī kā saath nibhātā chalā gayā

har fikr ko dhueñ meñ udātā chalā gayā

barbādiyoñ kā shok manānā fuzūl thā

barbādiyoñ kā jashn manātā chalā gayā

jo mil gayā usī ko muqaddar samajh liyā

jo kho gayā maiñ us ko bhulātā chalā gayā

ġham aur ḳhushī meñ farq na mahsūs ho jahāñ

maiñ dil ko us maqām pe laatā chalā gayā”

13. A faithful English translation of the above verses comes out as follows:-

“I faithfully followed wherever life took me;

I blew every worry into a mist of smoke.

It was pointless to grieve about my destruction;

So I kept making a celebration of my destruction.

Whatever came my way I considered to be my destiny;

Whatever was lost to me, I kept putting out of my mind.

That state where happiness and sorrow are indistinguishable;

That realm is where I kept pushing my heart.”

14. The above song delicately composed by the legendary Sahir Ludhianvi and sung in the melodious voice of Mohd. Rafi conveys a profound message in the most amazing manner and in the process provides some direction to “minds that never sleep” — by injecting some kind of equilibrium to a mental space constantly at loggerheads with itself.

15. We all need to nurture the symbiotic relationship between the mind and the body to be able to nonchalantly smoke away our failure and ruins and effortlessly deal with despondency, anxiety and above all tragedy. It is only then the mind that never sleeps will reach a semblance of balance and get rest.

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