Make Your Mind Work From Awareness, Not From Memory
Below is a photo of me that many people ask the story behind.
You may or may not be curious about it too. Either way, here is the story.
In September 2021, I visited Naggar for a workation. The town was quiet and picturesque—just the way I like it.
One morning, I was working in a cozy little cafe when a young couple walked in with their son Antarpreet (the one in the photo) and sat at the table in front of me.
Antarpreet was like any two-year-old—jovial, playful, and loud. The tiny cafe amplified his voice.
In the beginning, his incessant chatter irritated me. But seeing him have fun also made me feel lighter. “This ain’t so bad,” I thought. I was on a vacation after all.
Then Antarpreet turned his attention to me. For a moment, I felt like burying myself in my laptop. Instead, I turned my attention to him.
We played peek-a-boo for a few minutes, where we hid below our tables. Each time I caught him when he peeked above his table, he screamed with delight. Even the other patrons couldn’t help but smile.
Then he took his father’s phone and clicked photos of me. His father and I talked about where we’re from, our professions, and more. It was as comfortable as your favorite sweatshirt.
When I finished my work and walked out of the cafe, Antarpreet was standing with his hands on the glass window, smiling at me. So I put my hands on the glass and played with him while his dad clicked this picture. Then I bade them farewell and visited the Roerich Museum.
My heart was bursting with happiness that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
In a while, the three of them reached the museum too. We explored a section of it together and then went our separate ways.
While leaving, I noticed a phone on a chair outside the museum’s entrance. It had a red cover, the same color as Antarpreet’s sweatshirt. I remembered it vividly because I had seen that phone in his mother’s hand in the cafe.
I found her and asked if the phone was hers, and she said yes. She didn’t know she had left it somewhere.
I didn’t tell you this story to brag (humbly) about how cool I am or how sharp my memory is, but because I want to share a philosophy that helped me enjoy the experience: I made my mind work from awareness, not memory.
Memory versus Awareness
Our memory — our ability to recollect — is an amazing thing! It’s the reason why we have science, technology, information, and civilization. Without memory, we would have to reinvent the wheel all the time.
Yet, this same memory can become the cause of bondage.
Our experiences shape our perception of good and bad, what we like and don’t like, and what we want and don’t want. These experiences become our memories which dictate how we see the world.
Based on them, we start drawing boundaries, which is good.
But when the volume of our memories increases, our boundaries turn into walls that grow thicker and thicker. We think we’re protecting ourselves. But in reality, we start avoiding life, stick to our comfort zone, and stop spreading our wings.
Life becomes repetitive and automatic. Its most beautiful aspects — like spontaneity, creativity, and curiosity — get severely limited.
“When you’re repetitive, you cannot be receptive.” — Sadhguru
Instead, we should make our mind work from a place of awareness, the state of consciously observing and perceiving situations for what they are rather than what we think they are (or what we think they should be).
We should strive to approach any situation with as few preconceptions as possible.
Had my mind worked from memory when I met Antarpreet, I would’ve been upset at him for making noise and laughing. (In other words, I would’ve been upset at him for being a child.) When he looked at me, I would’ve ignored him or flashed a cordial smile and kept working.
But when I gave awareness precedence, it opened me up. I could receive a child’s love, and few things are as pure as that. I bonded with his family in an unknown location. And I observed trivial things I would otherwise miss. Like the color of Antarpreet’s mother’s phone cover.
Since then, I’ve strived to become more aware. I try to go into situations blank and adapt to what happens. I say yes to experiences I would earlier say no to if I feel they can broaden my horizons. I immerse myself in tasks regardless of whether they feel challenging or banal. I’ve reconnected with old friends and made a few new ones as well.
As a result, my happiness and fulfillment have substantially increased.
Give In to Awareness
It’s easy to give in to memory. But as Sadhguru says, memory without intelligence is the reason why we have meaningless activities in culture.
Memory without intelligence is why our perspectives and ability to adapt have become limited. Not to mention our outlook towards life. We can’t even look beyond the corner, let alone the horizon. As a result, we feel we’re always stuck in bondage.
Work from awareness instead of pure memory. Observe, experience, learn. Check whether your current experiences match your memory. If they do, you’re moving in the right direction. If they don’t, update your memory.
This is how you develop true intelligence. This is how you feel happy. And it’s how you can experience life instead of avoiding it.
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