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My endeavor is to delve into certain issues to give you some perspective, help you understand the world better, attempt to understand why we do what we do, and maybe in all of this, make the world teeny-weeny better! 

Disclaimer: It may be a tad bit opinionated!

So, let's get to it...

What I think about when I go for a jog?

As we get ‘unlocked’ and things come out of cocoon-ic hibernation or even some parts of the world go back into a lockdown, I can’t stop myself from introspecting how this affects me on a psychological level.

A lot of things that we do in life get embedded in the deep recesses of the subconscious. We woke up in the mornings, brushed teeth, maybe ate, may be exercised, got dressed up, left for work, talked to colleagues face-to-face, made some casual banter, made some professional phone calls or meetings during the day, had our ‘chai’ time in office, drove back home through the maddening traffic (hurtling the expletives to nearby car drivers!), watched TV, went to sleep, woke up again et al. All these activities you kept on doing day-in and day-out in a scripted sort of fashion. These activities had gotten ‘chunked’ in your brain. Chunking is a process by way of which your brain converts any activity you do into an automatic routine, and the mind is quite adept in doing that. The moment you keep doing the same stuff repeatedly, it is said to move from your ‘conscious’ mind to a ‘subconscious’ level - the very essence of any activity getting chunked, and the very essence of it becoming a habit. With this brief COVID-hiatus in life, I have begun to experience that all those activities that were chunked have somehow gotten de-chunked. They have in a way got decoupled. A huge effort is now needed to once again chunk them. What came so easily has now become a strenuous effort. I need to push myself effort-fully even for what was seemingly the most mundane of activities before. The whole ‘today is a new day’ philosophy has gotten completely flipped on its head it seems. (What do you think?) Now, I don’t want to act pretentious like “Hey, we are back with the new normal” etc. however I wish to candidly explore my ‘psychic’ status quo, and possibly help you reflect on yours too. And if you think you can relate to it, say “Aye!”

Painstakingly I push myself to go for my routine morning jog. As I see some passersby in my society leaving in a rushed manner for work, they return a somewhat bewildered look. I ignore them. by looking away. The sky is clear with a chill in the air as if the sun too has just come out of its hibernation. I prefer the winters to the sun breathing down its sweltering heat in summers. Thankfully but not, fortunately, the scorching summers almost got skipped this year. It seems even the Sun God validated these unusual times ahead, by refusing to shine on us (metaphorically speaking). As I jog a volley of feelings creep up inside, like a slimy alien that crawls up your spine out of nowhere from behind (like in an alien flick). I smell an eerie laziness waft through the air. Laziness has somewhat become a friend these days covering my eyes with an invisible lens, through which I view the world now. ‘Looks like the world is coming out of its cryo-sleep’ I think to myself, as the traffic builds up. I pick up the pace and strange anxiety momentarily builds up inside me. Anxiety about how will things shape up, about how things would pan out in the future, and how would lives pivot to adapt to the ‘new normal’. This anxiety sways me to think ‘what can I do to make any difference.’ It further intensifies into tension in me. I feel this tension spread in my body like a virus. Fear grips me as I see life’s uncertainty all-pervasive around me. But then sadness envelopes me as I think of the difficulties that the families have had to endure in such grave times. This gets replaced by anger that develops as I feel helpless under such circumstances, a kind-of shackled helplessness around my inability to be able to help all those who need help. This internal turmoil turns into a subtle headache that develops during my jog. I try to reject it by increasing my pace but in vain. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss however this approach of self-rejection of internal feelings or ignorance is usually of no help. It only acts as a veneer to cover up. It acts like the chocolate sauce you try to pour over something that is inherently distasteful in an attempt to make it tasty. Confronting your deepest emotions is a tough thing to do and gets increasingly difficult to endure. It generally tends to make you feel worse at the end.

But is this self-inquiry good?

I wonder, is this self-confrontation (if I might call it) healthy? Some people avoid this by ‘getting busy!’, some say to “just chill!” and some adopt distractions. However, I think this mindful self-inquiry is healthy, as long as you avoid being judgmental about your own self-awareness. Self-awareness is like sitting on a vantage point and observing from there your deepest emotions and feelings you yourself experience minus the judgment bit. But we add that color of 'judgment' to these because we believe the world expects us to be confident and happy all the time. In order to avoid this self-confrontation, or to avoid looking at ourselves in this ‘mental mirror’ we tend to look for external distractions. We usually feel the intense need to get distracted in order to keep our minds occupied. It’s surprising to think that we’d rather prefer inflicting ourselves with an external pain of avoiding our internal selves than consciously taking time out to confront our internal horrors. And by doing so we are actually doing a disservice to ourselves and laying a path to self-destruction inhibiting personal growth. As I conclude my final lap, though I find myself torn between these variegated forces of emotions I feel that the only way to withstand the pressure that these forces exert on you is to get tougher by ‘mentally’ sparring with your deepest emotions on a regular basis. I usually do that while I jog. And you?

P.S. After this daily physical jog and mental sparring that I do with myself, walking back home, I’m reminded of the famous quote by Viktor Frankl from his book Man’s Search for Meaning, as a validation to my sanity -

...mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, a pain or a suffering...such a tension is inherent in a human being and therefore indispensable to the mental well-being.’

Try to be with yourself for 20 mins. No phone. No TV. No talking to anyone. No social media. No disturbance. Simply be with yourself and notice what your thoughts and internal feelings are!




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