Having grown up in the city of Mumbai, the book launch on Dec 1, 2019, created an opportunity to catch up with friends and family. However, we didn’t anticipate a full house. Padmaja Parulkar Kesnur did an excellent job as an anchor. Padmaja is a writer and photographer focusing on ecology, wildlife, travel and much more (check out her blog: Earth Letters). She had identified 20 different attributes of mindfulness that the book highlights and helped us explore many of them through her questions. In this article, I have given the link to the audio of the conversation between Padmaja, I and the audience. The questions we explored along with the time-stamp are given below.
00:00 Introduction by Padmaja
02:00 What is mindfulness?
02:30 Can you explain mindfulness through bookkeeping vs berry-picking metaphor?
09:30 You emphasize mindfulness on the go. Can you talk about that?
12:30 You have used the phrase “leaning forward”. Any tips on that?
16:00 Tell us through the movie “Hindi Medium” how overthinking takes us far
22:00 I like your example of watching the sky. There you talk about spaciousness. Can you talk about that?
25:23 Reading of a paragraph from the book on “watching the sky”
26:12 Is mindfulness like enlightenment as if once you are there, you are there.
30:30 Then you move on to self-image and self-deception. Especially in the age of social media where self-propaganda is so rampant and people are projecting what they are not. Can you explain what you mean by self-image and self-deception?
38:30 From here the book makes a big leap by bringing in studies from neuroscience and quantum mechanics to get into deeper realms of what is self and what is real. Do you think the reader might find it difficult?
41:15 I found that “Brain by David Eagleman” where you talk of perception & reality extremely fascinating. That turns the concept of self and reality upside down. Do you want to talk about that?
44:35 Normally we say that crisis drives you to self-inquiry, or to a spiritual quest. But you say that you have had a smooth life. So how did you turn to this field of study? How was your spiritual journey?
06:31 I have read Osho, Ramana Maharshi and they say that consciousness is the only reality and all of this is an illusion. Most of the Eastern philosophy is telling us to let go of the illusion and achieve some sort of spiritual transcendence. But what if I want to stay in this world of Maya and enjoy my illusions. How will mindfulness help me do that?
09:45 You said when you see reality, most of it is in our mind. You said 80% comes from the mind, can you please explain it?
13:45 To the extent that you talk of wasteful thoughts or being rooted in the present, I have you. Where I lose sometimes is where in some ways you discourage thinking itself. At a utilitarian level are you discouraging thinking and therefore mocking at innovation, ambition? You seem to have a diet for the mind, but exercise for the mind, you seem to be iffy about.
Secondly, at the cognitive level, the train comes and goes but the platform is never empty. So is it possible to stay on the platform throughout without getting on some other train?
20:14 Mindfulness is a lifelong practice of being in the present moment. And practice makes oneself perfect. Is this understanding correct?
23:35 An observation and appreciation from a friend.
25:00 Finally the whole intention of everything is to be joyful. That’s the basic purpose of all this. But to be joyful, don’t you think further intentional efforts are required to feel the joy?
29:25 They say – Ummid pe duniya kayam hai – Hope keeps the world going. I want to be with reality but I need to have some hope alive to take me further. How do I do that?
31:39 I believe whatever happens in life happens for a reason. And 99% time it happens for the right reasons. I don’t give so much importance to I. We should convert this I into we because there is always someone behind the individual effort. If we remain grounded then whatever I am achieving in life is not because of me. Then all the wasteful thoughts will not come into mind. Are we on the same bus?
34:30 Pasaayadaan song by Saint Dnyaneshwar by Gauri Dabholkar and Aditi More (sisters)38:54 Shanti mantra from Ishavasya Upanishad
photo credit: Madhav Dabholkar