Random Forays: Raising the levels of our consciousness
Where exactly are our thoughts focused the whole day long? While the answer obviously differs for each individual, scientists believe that each of us thinks about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. Which means that we virtually think up a distinct thought each second that we are awake.
Of course most of these thoughts are repetitive in nature: about work or mundane things or to-do lists. Thoughts about material acquisitions, shopping, fashion, entertainment and leisure are in reality not as manifold as one might have thought. Relationships do occupy a large portion of our thought space, as do sundry other people. But a larger number of thoughts centre around worries and fears. Most of these are needless, worthless, tensions, as we all know.
Much of our time is spent in thinking about scenarios which never actually occur. We either fantasise and dream about desirable states of being, or we tend to stress over what could go wrong. Unfortunately, as life passes by, the latter tendency begins to dominate over the former. Thus, we tend to fret and fume about aspects of life which really do not deserve so much fretting and fuming.
Very few people are able to concentrate on the present moment. Mind wandering has become quite an ailment these days. Our consciousness does usually not focus on the present. It wanders off into the future or starts dwelling on the past. Even when we are occupied with a pressing task such as studying for an exam or working on a project, our consciousness becomes a philanderer. It gallivants all over the place and beyond all imaginable realms.
Not being able to focus on one thing is also the result of our falling prey to the tentacles of social media. There is something rather automatic about the act of picking up one’s phone after every two minutes, to check upon this and that, almost, though not quite, akin to the act of blinking or breathing. We hardly have to think twice about doing so. It has become an involuntary, compulsive, global habit.
But the really damaging trend is for human beings to habitually direct their attention towards the muck and filth which the mass media and its social cousins keep raking up. As mentioned in this column a fortnight ago, a section of the media has made it its avowed business to vitiate our minds, and we the gullible of the world have willingly allowed it do go ahead and penetrate our relative purity with its vitriol.
Why is our consciousness often permeated with thoughts of scoffing, berating, belittling and destroying others? It is not only the media which disturbs our peace. It could be our own doing, aided and abetted by a family member or friend who constantly criticizes everybody under the sun. The company we keep is stronger than will power, said a saint. But even the company of our own selves, being despondent or negative can be extremely unsettling.
Lao Tsu said: “The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness”. It is indeed a fact that our lives and our whole beings tend to catapult themselves into zones beyond the usual and hackneyed when we start thinking of the bigger picture of life. Compassion for others, empathy for the underprivileged, caring for the elderly, being of generally cheerful mien and adding to the happiness quotient of the world, are definitely ways of raising the levels of our existence.
Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, in his uplifting poem, The Noble New, puts it beautifully:
Sing songs that none have sung,
Think thoughts that ne’er in brain have rung,
Walk in paths that none have trod,
Weep tears as none have shed for God,
Give peace to all to whom none other gave,
Claim him your own who’s everywhere disclaimed.
Love all with love that none have felt, and brave
The battle of life with strength unchained.
Should we able to enhance the consciousness paradigms that we have been maintaining all our lives to a different league as the years roll by? Perhaps, yes. But we have to give it our best shot!