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3 habits to be more thoughtful and vigilant

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Habits are powerful markers of a successful life. What we choose to do consistently defines not only our immediate present but also the contours of our future success and achievement. Habits that engender

thoughtfulness

, focus, concentration, clarity of purpose are pivotal for us to move forward and achieve our goals. But this is where most of us falter; in that we often choose habits that are detrimental for us.

We often adopt habits which encourage procrastination, recklessness and instant gratification. Let me acquaint you with three habits, which when included in your daily routine, can heighten your thoughtfulness, focus and vigilance. These are the habits of meditation, Tratak, and

mindful speech

.
Meditation:
As we sit on the meditation mat, we create space and time for our innermost feelings and thoughts. We create a judgement free safe-zone where we accept all the thoughts that come to our mind. As you meditate, learn to look at these thoughts like clouds, which come and go. Just as the clouds come and go; accept that your thoughts and emotions too simply come and go. You don’t need to hold on to them or carry their burden.
This teaches us to detach from difficult thoughts and emotions creating space for lightness, joy and all that is nourishing for our mind. You became a spectator of your thoughts and this makes you more mindful or thoughtful about them. You learn that these are just thoughts and you don’t necessarily need to identify with them.

Benefits of including meditation in your daily routine:
1. Stress reduction
2. Improved concentration.
3. Enhanced emotional regulation
4. Structural changes in the brain: Neuroscientific studies have demonstrated that meditation can induce structural changes in the brain, particularly in regions associated with attention, memory, and emotional processing.
Trataka
Trataka is the next habit that we should include in our daily routines for thoughtfulness and vigilance. Trataka, derived from the Sanskrit word “trataka,” meaning “to gaze” or “to look steadily”.

How to practise Trataka:
1. Light a candle and keep it 16 to 20 inches away; the tip of the flame must be just below your eye-level.
2. Steadily gaze at either the tip of the flame or the tip of the wick.
3. It’s ok to blink your eyes if they feel over-strained.
4. Now close the eyes and visualize the object or try to see its image within.
5. When this image begins to fade cup or palm the eyes and then slowly open them.
Benefits:
1. Improves concentration which is essential for thoughtfulness.
2. Cures symptomatic issues such as headaches, insomnia, nightmares. This promotes general well-being and induces a sense of thoughtfulness, vigour and vitality.
3. By fixing our gaze on a still point, the restless mind to comes to a halt.
4. Enhances self-confidence, patience and willpower which are some aspects of thoughtfulness.
Mindful speech
The third habit you can include in your routine to be more thoughtful and vigilant is mindful speech. When we speak from a place of emotional reactivity, our words are often driven by impulsive reactions to external factors, such as anger, fear, or frustration. In these moments, we may lash out in haste, without considering the impact of our words on others or the situation at hand. Mindful speech, on the other hand, encourages us to pause and reflect before speaking. Rather than reacting impulsively, mindful speakers respond with intentionality and awareness, choosing their words carefully to convey their message.
Mindful speech tips:
1. Pause before you speak.
2. Reflect if your words will improve or worsen the situation
3. Be clear but try to be gentle.
4. Remove words that convey anger, accusation or other negative emotions
5. Listen more.
Include these habits in your daily routine to be more thoughtful and vigilant and to live life from a space of joy and contentment.
Authored by: Dr. Hansaji Yogendera, Director of The Yoga Institute.

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