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Being an observer

The first time I became an observer, in its literal sense, was nearly 45 years ago. As a young armoured corps officer, during the field firing of our regiment, at the Mahajan ranges in Rajasthan, I was appointed an observer. My job was to sit on a flank and observe the target with binoculars, when a tank fired. Having observed the shot, I had to report to the control, on a radio set, whether it was a hit or a miss. It was to enable them to make the necessary corrections so that the gun could be zeroed in on the target.

Today at 67, I am an observer of a different kind. I am an observer of my thoughts. Thoughts are like a monkey which keep jumping in our mind continuously. Like a CD, they keep playing and replaying. Negative, unpleasant thoughts based on fear, hurt and bad memories play more often and frequently. COVID-19 has made it even worse. The mind is cluttered with these thoughts, and we are confused. I was no better till I became the squadron commander. I would lose my temper or become impatient when someone behaved not to my liking. Quite often, my actions would be based on impulsive thoughts, resulting in unwise and stressful decisions. In such situations, the mind tends to control you, and you become its slave. The mind is hardly relaxed and you suffer tension, and lack of sleep. As a result, you become irritable, and the performance level goes down.

Slowly, with practice and pranayama and the habit of good reading and writing, one developed the skill of looking within — introspection. That also enabled me to watch my mind, and control the thoughts. I started analysing my actions and would soon come to know whether I was wrong or right. Our conscience tells us so. In case wrong, I would not hesitate to say ‘sorry’ to the person whom I had caused the hurt. That would put me at ease, as also remove bitterness or the communication gap with fellow beings. I tried to keep my mind light and open. A commanding officer has to be calm and centred, then alone he can command troops well. He will inspire troops to high motivation and morale, with minimum cases of suicide and fratricide.

The habit of introspection has given me a good insight and control over my mind. Today, as a veteran, I can watch my thoughts dispassionately and control the “monkey” within, thereby not reacting impulsively. When someone says or does something unreasonable, one analyses the reason for that person’s behaviour, and ignore the negativity. It is his or her problem. Why should we make our mind a “garbage bin” for others’ negative thoughts. We cannot and need not control others. But definitely, we can control our own thoughts and actions. A simple principle in life can make our life healthy and fruitful — negativity stay out, positivity please come in.

ripu_d2003@yahoo.co.in

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 4:45:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/being-an-observer/article33768761.ece

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