The greatest of problems can be solved with the simplest of solutions. It's not an opinion; it’s a fact! Complexity is easy, but simplicity is difficult for humans. Unfortunately, human intellect is not geared to think simple hence it wanders in the complex terrains to come to a solution that was simply available. The one who recognises this has already resolved half the problems of life. The simplest most learning tool that has inspired artists, writers, scientists and philosophers is Observation. Because it’s so simple, we often overlook it. Think about it; Newton discovered the law of gravity by just observing the simple act of an apple falling from the tree. Leonardo Da Vinci was also famously known for his obsession with observation. He created masterpieces by simply observing the flight of a bird.
As Vedanta says, the greatest power is lodged in the fine, not in the coarse. Observation allows one to examine behaviours and emotions that simultaneously work to result in action. It’s vital to mention that observing something is not the same as looking at something. Observation is a single moment of reflection, of mind studying mind and mind studying the external. It’s a moment of oneness, the point where energy vibrates to its optimum output to propel and harness the power of the mind. When you observe, you connect to the subject of observation in totality.
Try doing this; look around yourself and pick any random object. It could be a chair, jar, painting or even your laptop! Harness all your concentration and direct it towards that one object. Observe the shape, the texture, the way light reflects on it, the patterns, the colours etc. Let all the external noises fade away and soak the information that is coming your way. The new input will gradually expand your perception. This expansion can become a catalyst to explore a new dimension of imagination within your mind; a writer may find inspiration for a new story, and a philosopher may discover unique insight.
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Observation is not just limited to objects. You can effectively use this tool to on people, events and circumstances. Inward observation (Niyama) is the second limb of the ultimate bliss or awakening as outlined by the ancient sage Patanjali in his yoga sutras. Its five aspects are purification of mind and thoughts, contentment, self–discipline, self-study and devotion. Self-observation is the key skill of effective leaders. People who constantly observe their reactions, thoughts and emotions have greater clarity about their strengths and opportunity for growth. This can lead to an increased ability to make decisions and handle uncertainty. It’s imperative to note that observation must be free of judgements and untainted by any obscurity. In the process, the mind becomes an instrument; a mere machine that grabs the images, sensations, feelings; just as they are.
Observation is also a very potent parenting tool. Parent-child interactions have a long-term impact on the child’s mental and emotional development. Conscious practice of being mindful and observant can nurture this bond organically.
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Observe your vocabulary:
Are you using enough positive words and phrases while interacting with your child?
A simple positive rephrasing from ‘No, you can’t go to the park!’ to ‘Let’s go to the park tomorrow! can give children the confidence that you value their choices. Your spoken words will gradually become your child’s inner voice. Thus, the seed to nurture a positive mindset lies in the expansive positive vocabulary that children absorb during their foundation years.
Observe your reaction:
What is your first reaction to your child’s question? Are you patient or irritable? Is your response nurturing your child’s curiosity?
Observation is an innate trait in children. They are constantly observing the world; curiosity is a natural outcome. By patiently answering their questions, you will expand their perception, imagination, creativity and allow them to be at ease with their environment.
Observe your action:
Are your actions in sync with your expectation from your child?
The best way to teach a child is by showing how something is done. If you expect your child to listen, show that by offering utmost attention. If you expect respect, show that by respecting their choices. If you expect your child to read, the show them by embedding this habit in your everyday routine.
Observe your inner dialogue:
What are the words that you constantly tell yourself? Is your stress overdramatized in your mind?
Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Many times, internal chaos can lead to the unwanted outward random outburst. It’s essential to be at peace and harmony within to create a harmonious and nurturing environment for children. Prioritise your choices and engage in self-nurturing activities that help you break the routine and develop a positive relationship with yourself. When we engage in a focused and conscious self-analysis, we study the internal vibrations of our minds. The risk here is that you may either end up over-introspecting or over-neglecting your thoughts. The keywords are moderation and equilibrium.
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In conclusion, I would like to reinforce that observation extends beyond simply noticing something; It involves perception, analysis and understanding the significance of one’s existence. Inward and outward observation can lead to magnificent positive developments and enrich the experience of life in general. As Vedanta says, if there is a method by which we can analyse, investigate, understand, and finally grapple the finer causes, then alone is it possible to see the whole picture. In my opinion, that optimum method is the simple act of observation.
Ekta Bajaj is a writer, visual artist, motivational speaker and Co-Founder of the award-winning publishing company, Author In Me. She is also the author of the empowering book, ‘The Voice of Kali’ and co-author of ‘Book of Affirmations for Children’. Her deep passion for storytelling and positive thinking has inspired her to research the ancient knowledge of Vedanta that provides a holistic approach towards developing mental and emotional strength.