Human being are cramping inside large cities in millions making any given urban society into extremely consumption driven. Our minds are systematically coordinated to conform to this greed-race, however, some have understood the venom of this system and seeking out options to get free of it. Saqueb Sartaz Khan talks about Mindfulness, an alternative discourse of mind fullness which can work as a tool to deconstruct our stressful urban life.
IN THE name of evolution, we have come a far, far way from sticks and stones to wireless apparatus. German philosopher and economist Karl Marx, whose theoretical framework was grounded in the perspective that changes in technology and specifically productive technology, has an important influence on human social relations and organisational structure. Moreover, according to his theories, social relations and cultural practices ultimately revolve around the technological and economic base of any given society. This theory was called ‘technological determinism’. Marx's position has become embedded in contemporary society. The idea that fast-changing technologies alter human lives is ever existent and stronger than ever.
We are a generation hooked to our portable ‘black mirrors’ (screen) while a computer or television like empirical ‘black mirror’ bustles away in the background scroll of our lives. Now what this does to our consciousness is that it adds an ‘attention deficit and impulsive tendencies’ to our innate serene nature.
Instead of living under forest cover and lush green vegetation carpets, we live in concrete shoe-boxes that we find so befitting rather. Unlike the single/duo layered ambient sound of the villages that comprises of nature solely, we live in a land where ‘auditory dissonances’ are a norm; likewise, the visuals. We have comparatively complicated life, living and the blessings bestowed upon us. As a result, we have managed to attain ‘a commonly perceived state of bewilderment’. What I mean to infer is that the ‘city-life’ is killing us rapidly yet softly.
According to a report published by The Telegraph in March 2016, the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds, that in contrast to the Gold Fish’s nine seconds. A group of researchers surveyed 2000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms. This idea is further supported by the scientist’s findings regarding ‘improvements in multi-tasking’ capabilities amongst humans of 21st century. We have become shameless ‘dopamine addicts’ and not feeling shameless enough because of the desire for ‘dopamine’ but rather our crude and unnatural ways of attaining them. I have a four year old nephew who has been hooked to flash games and android games, alongside Youtube videos since the early ages of one and a half years. He has become nearly inseparable with his ‘tech gadgets’. This consumption act is better explained through the ‘uses and gratification’ model of active audiences. The theory denotes that individuals are unique in taste, culture, values and ideologies and thus dynamic in their ‘consumption choices’. Given our advanced technology, we decide what ‘content’ we would partake through ‘which’ medium and ‘what’ to make of the data. However, what we’re missing out on is the fact that no matter what ‘content’ we choose on whatever ‘mediums’, we are essentially still trapped in a predetermined ‘construction’.
Human have designed technology to become extensions of the human body and mind, while on the same note selling our liberty a wee bit more to none other than the ‘technology’. However, do not get me wrong, technology isn’t the problem, it is rather our ‘lack of mindfulness’.
‘Mindfulness’, ironically as it is, does not imply a ‘mind full of things’, but rather implies a state where the mind is functional at its epitome. Here the mind is full in ‘content’. The idea is that happiness, truth and reality all lies ‘here and now’. Meditation has been known to guide generations before us into a ‘mindful headspace’. Through acts of ‘meditation’ such as Zen meditation, Yoga, Praanayama, Salat, Zikr et cetera, we get a glimpse into the esoteric ‘realm’ where we tread inwards to venture the journey to tranquility. In almost all of the aforementioned practices, physical movements and breathing ordinance led on by spirituality restores in one the innate ‘calm and collected, rather enlightened characters’ that is devoid of ego, anger, jealousy and such ignoble ‘touch’.
Briefly however, let me get into an example or two of how profound ascetics from different race, religion and origins ended up in the same ‘track’ regardless of the dynamics at play. Buddha over his journey discovered that a balance between the physical and the meta-physical would allow you grasp of ‘mindfulness’. On a more literary sense, when the bold, mind (and soul) aligns, that individual is experiencing ‘nirvana’ or ‘enlightenment’. He said we only slip into ‘sadness or suffering’ when either of them aren’t in the ‘here and now’. For example, imagine you are embarking on a trip, a few hundred miles away from home with friends. However, you are not at peace, because you had fought with our parents just a while earlier, before having headed here. The only way to be happy would be to forget other concerns and lose ‘mark’ of any other timelines.
Monks, saints and other meditation experts consider the state of ‘zero thoughts’ to most closely signify the state of illumination. According to Thich Nhat Hanh, the present moment is filled with joy and happiness and you will be able to see it if you are attentive enough. Charlotte Eriksson, another contemporary mindfulness and meditation expert proclaimed, ‘Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others’.
Given that today’s youth tries to find that headspace through ‘substance abuse’ and the use of ‘psychedelics’, they would much rather benefit from adhering to mindfulness practices. It is healthier in almost all retrospectives in contrast, as well as permanent.
Unlike Lalon or Buddha, however, in this age and time, we are no longer obliged to seek out mindfulness without guidance of a pre-historic world, without internet or accessibility of books. Harder as it is to achieve in the chaotic society that we live in, the knowledge has been made easier for us to reach out to. One may find an array of books on mindfulness stretching from the Eastern philosophy to the West.
I have personally practiced mindfulness from many such perspectives (i.e. Zen meditation, Salat, Budhdhist perspective) and I would have to say all these paths lead down to the same highway, which then leads you to the truth. And truth is only this moment, all that resides here as you remain, simply breathing. Let it be.
Saqueb Sartaz Khan is an intern with New Age Youth.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Mindspeak