How Mindfulness Transformed My Life

Autumn Leaves - Alaska

by Anshul Kamath

A little over 4 years ago, I decided to take one of the
biggest decisions of my life. I quit my job in London working in Finance for
one of the world’s largest energy companies and moved back to India where I
grew up. After years in the rat race and a completely hectic and unhealthy
schedule, I decided it was time to pause and evaluate what I really wanted from
life.

Within a few weeks of moving back, through a pure moment of
serendipity, I ended up attending a 2 day workshop on mindfulness and
neuroscience. Those 2 days were magical – for the first time I learnt about how
I function as an individual, how my mind works and, perhaps most importantly, I
learnt about mindfulness as a tool to use on a daily basis. We covered some
simple techniques of becoming aware of the moment through breathing and
practices such as mindful walking.

My life was extremely fast-paced and that was mirrored by the
pace of thoughts in my mind. Mindfulness became the antidote to that for me.
While I wanted to pause in my career and reevaluate things, mindfulness became
a mini version of that for me everyday. A chance to pause for a few moments and
enjoy the moment, a chance to become aware of my thoughts, body and what I was
sensing.

Deepening my practice

Over the next few months, some of my regular mindfulness
practices on a daily basis were as below:

  • Mindful walking: I started taking short breaks from my desk at work and would head out for a short walk. I would leave my phone behind at my desk to charge while I just enjoyed some fresh air and paid attention to my feet as I walked.
  • Mindful chai: In India, we all love our chai! And I
    found practicing mindfulness with my tea particularly de-stressing. I would
    engage all my senses while having sipping my tea
  • Touching the cup and feeling the heat in my fingertips
  • Smelling the aromas of the tea and inhaling the
    flavours
  • Paying special attention to the tastes and hints of
    spices such as ginger or cardamom
  • Listening to any sounds in my mouth or throat as I
    drank the tea
  • Sensory mindfulness: This is something I would do for a
    few minutes at my desk to recharge myself. Taking a few minutes to look around the
    room becoming aware of the space around me as well as any sounds and smells in
    the room. I would follow this with 3 deep breaths.

Starting to see the
benefits!

cold outlook

All of these exercises above were less than 5 minutes of my
time but really effective ways for me to practice some mindfulness everyday and
give my mind a short break! I also noticed a big difference in my own outlook
towards life. I started becoming more relaxed on a daily basis and able to see
greater clarity in my own thought process. By nature, I tend to be very edgy
and often appear nervous and anxious when facing situations. The last few years
have seen a big change in my demeanor and this has also been pointed out to me
by close friends. I’ve slowly made it a habit when taking decisions or
confronting situations to look at the larger picture and embrace a decision
whole heartedly. This is not a change that’s come easily but simple things like
taking 3 deep breaths when I’m feeling edgy or trying to see the worst case
scenario and embrace it have helped me.

Another big revelation for me through mindfulness was slowly
becoming more aware of my body. For the first time in my life, I was able to
identify moments when I had overeaten or times when my upper back started
showing signs of stress because I was sitting in a poor posture. Taking a few
moments to become aware of my body and my state played a big role in this and
after a few months, it became more of a subconscious habit. At the end of each
day before sleeping, I usually take 12 deep breaths following a ‘pranayama’
technique I learnt at a mindfulness retreat. Along with focusing on the breath,
you also pay attention to the entire body when breathing – when you breathe in
– you scan your body from your toes moving upwards to your head. And when you
breathe out, you reverse the scan starting with your head downwards. With slow,
deep breathing, this entire process lasts for at least 5-6 minutes which is a
great way to become aware of the body and breath.

Mindfulness and
physical health

Mindfulness has also helped me more recently through an
extremely challenging period in my life with my health. Two years ago, I was
diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and an underlying leaky gut. For those
of you familiar with autoimmune conditions and diseases, you will be aware that
these conditions generally have no cure, they can be maintained through factors
such as your diet, sleep and mental wellbeing.

The first year was really tough for me. My immune system
started attacking my inner cheeks and gums and the inflammation resulted in
several ulcers in my mouth that would often last over a month. While it’s
painful physically, it was even more challenging mentally. Not being able to
control the situation and being subject to random flare ups in my body used to
cause me a lot of anxiety which further compounded the situation.

This is where meditation and mindfulness has really helped me.
Constantly being able to stay in the moment and remind myself that these kinds
of flare ups are temporary and will also pass. It isn’t easy at all to change
the narrative in your mind from being a victim of a medical condition to
accepting and embracing it. It took me months of daily meditation and trying to
rewire the thoughts in my head to get there.

Hands

My condition is chronic and I still have periods of severe
inflammation and flare ups. However, I have first hand seen a correlation
between the times when I meditate regularly and my physical health and
inflammation. Research has also backed this by showing how mindfulness helps reduce
cortisol and stress in the body, which is a big contribution to inflammation in
the body.

These practices really helped me move towards my goal of
leading a healthier and more balanced life.

Moving from practicing
myself to helping others

In 2018, as I deepened my practice of mindfulness, I also
started connecting with meditation teachers and wellness experts; and together
we started facilitating mindfulness and personal growth workshops for working
professionals. Over the course of 2 years, I facilitated workshops for over 600
individuals and right from college students to CEOs, mindfulness seemed like a
practice with a universal appeal. We all know that practices like mindfulness
are the need of the hour in today’s lightning fast world. But actually seeing
it helping people was extremely satisfying for me.

About a year ago, I finally decided that this is something
that gave me immense satisfaction and I committed the next 5 years of my life
towards helping people with mental wellbeing and personal growth. I launched a
startup called Evolve and our mission is to make mental wellbeing simple and
joyful! And mindfulness is a big part of it!


Anshul Kamath is the founder of Evolve.

You can visit their
website at
https://www.evolveinc.in/ or download the app at:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.evolve.android or

https://apps.apple.com/in/app/evolve-joyful-personal-growth/id1515433542

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Our aim is to promote mindfulness.


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