Date Archives September 2020

What research says about why mindfulness matters

It can be easy to rush through our days (and nights) without stopping to observe much.

Being more mindful of (and attentive to) our here and now (the present moment) – to our own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around us – can improve our mental wellbeing.

1. Here is what the Harvard guys say.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/less-stress-clearer-thoughts-with-mindfulness-meditation/

https://wellness.huhs.harvard.edu/Mindfulness

2. Here is what the NHS guys say.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/mindfulness

3. “Why is it that some people are more vulnerable to life’s slings and arrows and others more resilient?” In this TED talk, Richard Davidson discusses how mindfulness can improve well-being and outlines strategies to boost four components of a healthy mind: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. Davidson is William James and Vilas professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CBfCW67xT8

4. In this TED talk, Dr. Shauna Shapiro draws on modern neuroscience and ancient wisdom to demonstrate how mindfulness can help us make positive changes in our brains and our lives. Shapiro is a professor at Santa Clara University, a clinical psychologist, and an internationally recognized expert in mindfulness.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/theory-knowledge/201502/what-is-mindfulness-and-how-does-it-work

5. Can you go from feeling stressed to calm in under 30 seconds? Phil Boissiere shares his simple technique to bring mindfulness to your busy life, any time, anywhere. Phil Boissiere is an adult ADHD and couples counseling specialist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad7HqXEc2Sc

6. Is the practice of mindfulness just for zen masters and yoga afficionados? 35 years of scientific research proves this practice of non-judgemental present moment awareness effectively boosts not only creativity, performance and productivity, but also cultivates kindness, compassion, generosity and empathy. It is no surprise that hundreds of major corporations are offering mindfulness-based interventions to their employees. Charity Bryant is a trained Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher by The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, UMASS Medical School.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m-uc6CRB6k

Dear 24-year-old Basant

Dear 24-year-old Basant,

You’re less than a month away from your UPSC prelims exam and this is your first attempt and you’re excited like a headless chicken. I’m slightly busy today. So I’ll take the easiest route and write to to you in a list form.

1. Don’t read newspaper after D minus 20th day, D day being your exam day.

2. You’ve a tendency to bite more than what you can chew. Try to stick to the bare minimum these days. Don’t read new study materials. Keep revising your notes till you’re bored. And try solving previous years’ question papers in exam-like conditions.

3. Hang “Don’t disturb” sign on the door of your hostel room. Don’t let your friends create emergency for you. Friendships can wait. For the time being.

4. When it comes to UPSC CSE prelims, there are four subject areas in terms of what to do and what to expect.

      1. High investment – low return
      2. Low investment – low return
      3. High investment – high return
      4. Low investment – high return

Category A subject areas need a lot of hard work (you don’t like these subjects or they’re too vast or study materials are difficult to find in the market) and you don’t get too many questions from these subjects in the exam. Category B subject areas need very little work (these are your favourite subjects or you don’t have to read too many pages or study materials are easy to find in the market) and you don’t get too many questions from these subjects in the exam. Category C subject areas need a lot of hard work (you don’t like these subjects or they’re too vast or study materials are difficult to find in the market) and you get a lot of questions from these subjects in the exam. Category D subject areas need very little work (these are your favourite subjects or you don’t have to read too many pages or study materials are easy to find in the market) and you get lots of questions from these subjects in the exam.

Try to plan your preparation and orient your execution according to this classification.

5. You’re good at attracting traffic jams since you were a kid. So make time to visit your exam centre in advance and get a fair idea about its location and its distance from your Brahmaputra Hostel. Please try to reach there 90 minutes before the exam starts. Delhi’s traffic can be tricky. Please don’t take things lightly.

6. Don’t wear new shoes (or clothes) on the D day. You tend to feel uncomfortable in them. Typical of you. And take off your wrist watch once you find your seat and sit down on your chair in the exam hall. You hate wearing a watch. That’s why.

I know you hate faaltu ka gyaan. I’ll still take my chance.

Sincerely yours,

Basant

How did I improve my English while preparing for the UPSC CSE?

I owe my writing skills to Anant, my elder brother. When I came to JNU in 1994, I had a fair idea about how to write and what to write. But, despite my clearing the JNU MPhil. entrance and UGC JRF exam, I realised that I need to work on my answer writing skills and reading spelling in order to prepare well for the UPSC civil services exam.

These are are the books I read to strengthen my fundamentals.

I practised a lot with previous years’ questions in exam-like conditions. I never believed in attending coaching classes. So, while writing tons of answers and essays, I had to keep practising till I found the answers and essays good enough to make them ‘stickable’.

Why systems are better than gaols

Be a good traveller, the Buddha said. Here are a few free, brilliant pieces on how to translate that gem of an advice into a tool to work on your innings on this planet.

https://jamesclear.com/goals-systems

https://www.scottadamssays.com/2013/11/18/goals-vs-systems/

https://www.process.st/systems-vs-goals/

https://medium.com/@flaviorump/systems-vs-goals-a67fcd937370

https://www.nateliason.com/blog/systems-without-goals

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/07/systems-better-than–goals-oliver-burkeman