A simple exercise to experience tranquility in daily life.
The mind has its foundation in the five senses, which act as pillars supporting and sustaining the mind. During waking hours, the experience of the world through the five senses is uneven. We tend to focus more on one or two of the senses. Typically it is the sense of sight and hearing. Consequently, we place a greater amount of stress on them. This stress eventually reflects on to the mind. When they are overused, we seek to find a quiet place where we can close our eyes and regain equilibrium. Every day we gather stress, which diffuses out during sleep. However, it is possible to remain actively tranquil during the day by calibrating awareness and distributing it evenly over all five senses.
The mind has its foundation in the five senses, which act as pillars supporting and sustaining the mind. During waking hours, the experience of the world through the five senses is uneven.
When we are asleep, all five senses are dormant. Laying down on the bed, the entire back portion of the body is in contact with the bed. The touch sensation is more active than the rest of the senses as we go to sleep. During the day, only our feet are in contact with the ground, the contact, however, is minimized with comfortable footwear. To fall asleep, we will have to disconnect ourselves from the touch sensation besides the other senses. If there is a loud noise or the bed is uncomfortable, bright lights, a strong odor, we will not be able to sleep. The senses remain stimulated, and the mind remains open and active. Eventually, we fall asleep when fatigue overwhelms us, but this sleep may not be deep and restful. Again the next day, the imbalance continues through heavy usage of one or two of the senses.
If we can evenly distribute the load on the five senses, even for a short while, it relieves the nervous system of uneven workload. This translates to the experience of tranquility while we go about our daily lives.
When we encounter a predominantly visual experience, such as a beautiful sunset, our attention is on the visual aspect with minimal emphasis on the other senses. During such experiences, taking our focus from being localized to one or two of the senses to a more generalized awareness will help even out the workload on the nervous system.
Taking our focus from being localized to one or two of the senses to a more generalized awareness will help even out the workload on the nervous system.
The mind recreates a composite of any experience. When we add in sounds, smells, and other sensory input during a predominantly visual experience, it will keep the mind busy in the present. This won’t allow the mind to wander into the past or project into the future, keeping us grounded in the present. Tranquility is not a past or a future experience. It can only happen in the present.
Tranquility is not a past or a future experience. It can only happen in the present.
Experiencing the presence of air is a simple but profound way of training our awareness to remain equal and neutral between the various sensory feeds. It also links us to the present. Air is the medium through which we see, hear, and smell. When we sit, there is a thin cushion of air between our body and the chair. Unless air touches the inner surface of our lungs, we cannot live.
Air is unique in that it is not visible. We cannot hear, smell, taste, or feel it when it is perfectly still. However, we can try to become aware of its presence. How do we do it?
When we see, it is a habit to lock our awareness on the objects around us, forgetting the medium through which we see. Similarly, when we hear, we focus on the meaning and context of the sound, not the medium through which it travels.
To become aware of air, which is the medium of much of our sensory experiences, we must move from localized attention to any experience to a more generalized awareness. When we pull our attention back from the senses and keep our awareness in a more neutral “central” location, we ease up on the pressure we place on the sense organs.
When we pull our attention back from the senses and keep our awareness in a more neutral “central” location, we ease up on the pressure we place on the sense organs.
No matter where we are, the senses remain active. Practicing generalized awareness involves allowing all the sensory streams to continue functioning unhindered, but our attention isn’t on their inputs to the mind. Instead, our focus is on the medium through which they operate, which is air.
It may seem strange to become aware of the air all around us. As this awareness filters through the mind, it keeps the mind occupied on something it cannot easily interpret. A lot of the mind’s energy goes towards interpreting, cataloging, and storing sensory experience. With air, the mind cannot interpret, store, or catalog the experience.
When we maintain generalized awareness of air all around us, attention will naturally gravitate towards the breath. This happens because the only tangible experience of air is through the sense of touch. When air passes through our breathing passages into the lungs, we feel its presence. When our attention is on the breath, the rhythmic nature of breathing calms the mind. With this calmness, becoming more aware of the surroundings without a focus on any one particular sensation is easier.
Through this exercise, the mind conserves energy becoming sharper and more attuned, while we experience tranquility.