Detaching emotions from situations

Do you work hard or do you work smart? I tend to start the day working smart — I am focused, sharp and full of ideas. But post-lunch (especially if it is a big, heavy lunch) I find myself working hard — writing and re-writing, brainstorming but getting clichéd ideas and generally taking longer to complete tasks than I should.

The easy solution is to have a big cup of coffee, but after a short while, the same feeling returns. The problem is that the mind gets distracted and these distractions tire it out. In today’s world, there are a thousand things to distract the mind — what did your boyfriend really mean by that text message, how did your friend manage to lose so much weight and look so hot in that red dress on Facebook, is the boss upset with me or someone else?

Of course, these situations will keep arising in life and I don’t think logging off Facebook and WhatsApp is a practical solution. What would help is to control the emotions that arise when we interact with the world. Emotions can be draining and they steal energy from things that really matter, like finishing your project on time so that the boss has no reason to be upset with you.

There is nothing like a great yoga practice to bring the mind back to the present and keep it fresh and focused. But your boss will certainly be upset if you start practising asanas in the office hallways. The simple yogic practice of Sakshi Bhava can help. Sakshi Bhava means to have a witnessing attitude to the world and is developed by practising a body awareness technique.

In order to understand the effects of Shakshi Bhava and the importance of a witnessing attitude, we must look at the benefits of this practice. By shifting our focus to different parts of the body, we are able to observe the body as though we were observing another person’s body. In this way, we become detached in our observation. Slowly, through practice, this method of detachment can be practised with the mind as well, and we are able to observe our thoughts instead of being attached to them.

There is a story that illustrates this well. Two elderly gentlemen were sitting on their balconies sipping their morning chai. Below them, the vegetable vendor arrived, shouting out his produce for the day, and soon, residents were crowding around his cart to buy from him. Suddenly, the men heard raised voices: the women were complaining that the vendor’s prices were too high and he was arguing back. The men exchanged glances and a few remarks about how women love to fight and returned to sipping their chai. One of the gentlemen suddenly recognised his wife’s voice. He looked down, and sure enough, it was his wife who was leading the fight against the vendor. He put down his chai and from his balcony began to shout abuses.

The situation was funny and something to laugh about when it didn’t involve him. But as soon as it did, his emotions changed. When we identify with situations, we then become emotional. However, if we are witnesses to a situation, we are able to remain above emotion and in a calm and peaceful state.

This is not an easy task. Anyone who has gotten into a fight with a friend or with a colleague will agree. But the fact remains that arguments and negative thinking can easily be avoided if we take a step back and see the bigger picture. Sakshi Bhava is a difficult quality to develop but the process of body awareness, if practised regularly, will help you.


Sit in a comfortable posture, either on the ground or on a chair.

Keep your back, neck and head in a straight line.

Begin by observing the breath. Feel the cool air as it enters the nostrils and the warm air as it exits the nostrils.

Once the mind is calm, begin to rotate your awareness from one body part to another, starting with the head. Go from the crown of your head, mouth, right eye, left eye, right ear, left ear, right nostril, and left nostril, right cheek, left cheek, upper lip, and lower lip and so on.

In the early stages, use your hands to direct your awareness to a part of the body. Always use the right hand unless you are unable to do so; for example, when you are touching your right elbow.

As you shift your focus, become completely aware of that body part, attempt to have no other thoughts in your mind.

This exercise should take you between 2 to 3 minutes and can be practised anywhere.

Next time you are unable to find a creative idea, or are stuck with a problem or are feeling tired, take a few minutes to practise Sakshi Bhava.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 7:41:13 AM |

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