Eureka. That is the word, generations of humans have said throughout history upon witnessing a revelation. That is exactly what I said when I witnessed true concentration for the first time. Everyday I try to meditate for a very short period of time during the day. This helps me to control my mind to keep it focused. However, I used to find that many times it would be very difficult for me control and focus my mind specially if it is really distracted by something on my mind.

A few days ago, I was having a similar episode of a distracted uncontrollable mind which had been going on for a couple of days before that. On that day for some reason I decided to consciously keep my body perfectly still and that’s when eureka moment happened. As soon as I did that, suddenly my mind became super focused. Something that I had not experienced, perhaps ever. The feeling was somewhat akin to standing on stable ground compared to a rocking plank of floating wood. It was a degree of concentration so strong that the primary focus of the mind did not shift even when I tried to intentionally distract my mind by loosening the train of thought.

Perhaps this was what the wise men of history meant by meditation. The ability of the front of the mind to focus on the mundane task, in my case holding my body perfectly still and it frees up the rest of the mind to focus on a single task. What fascinates me is the ability to replicate this feeling at will. I close my eyes, hold my body still and there it is.

However the irony of the matter is that even though I can achieve this concentration at will I can only use it to focus my mind and perhaps relax it. I have yet to use it to be able to concentrate on the task I am doing because once I open my eyes, my mind returns to it’s normal state, just slightly rejuvenated. Perhaps, with time I will learn to use this ability to be able to focus my mind to the task at hand for an extended period of time even when my eyes are open. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to practice more…

Mortality, a discussion

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life.”

– Steve Jobs

Mortality as a concept is both very easy and very difficult to grasp. Ubiquious yet unknown. It is a paradox. We know so much about it yet we know nothing. Man has tried to escape it since time began yet he understands the futility of it.

Is it life’s greatest flaw or it’s greatest invention? The answer to this question depends on the way you live your life. If you spend your time procrastinating then it’s a horrible flaw, because eventually you will run out of time without you not fulfilling your desires and aspiration. On the other hand if you grab your life with both hands and live every moment of it, it is the greatest invention, because realisation that the moment past will never return and knowing you lived that moment to it’s fullest, it leads to a sense of fulfilment that gives you inner peace and satisfaction. Something that every mortal being searches for in those countless different ways in which he decides to lead his life.

Imagine if you had all the time in the world to do everything you ever wanted. Would you do any of that? Of course not. That’s because There won’t be a source of motivation. A sense of urgency to have to achieve everything you wished for in a very small period before the sands of time completely slip out of your hands.

Mortality as a concept was so abstract to me unto a few years ago. But now as I look back at the last 25 years, I realise, my gosh how quickly have they gone. Did I live every moment to its fullest? Not every moment. Do I mourn the moments I didn’t live to full extent? Of course not. But at least I have an emotion attached to every moment that I have lived. They all mean something to me because of my human mortality. Emotion is the food for the brain. Emotion is what stimulates us. Emotion makes us achieve all the great things man has achieved. Emotion is what melts one’s heart into total surrender to one’s lover. It is the strength of emotion that has carried man to where he stands today.

This strength of emotion is a gift of mortality. It makes us realise the value of the time we have on this planet. It is the ultimate motivator for us to achieve our dreams. The realisation of mortality makes us free of the dogma that arises from other people’s thinking. Mortality is what gives meaning to our lives, for it is life’s greatest creation.

Speed reading

Learning is an activity which a civilised man indulges in till his last breath. Knowledge is limitless and books are their primary source as they have been for thousands of years. For one to even acquire the smallest portions of this knowledge one has to read. The faster one reads the more information he is able to acquire in the otherwise finite life of a human being. That is where speed reading comes in.

Speed reading in essence is the method of reading very fast while still maintaining the level of comprehension and retention when read at normal speeds. This is a method of reading developed by one Evelyn Wood in the 1950s. The principle of this lies in supression of subvocalisation as speed reading theory argues that one can only read as fast as he can vocalise those words; unless one’s reading is independant of vocalisation/subvocalisation i.e. ‘thinking aloud’. They say that with speed reading one can increase his speed to 400+ words per minute while not compromising information retention.

The above numbers are very important when one of the biggest problems I face is that there are so many subjects I want to read about that every gain I can made in the speed to acquire the information about the topic at hand is worth it. Plus if I can learn to speed read I can also read the various classic literary pieces which I have always wanted to read however cannot find to do so. It’s sort of trying to strike a balance between things I would like to read and the things I really want to read. Currently I am reading up on the topic and I kind of agree with some of the things I have read so far. Hopefully this will continue to be the case as I further read on the topic.

A thought provoking question

Today I came across a question that forced me to think about it long and hard and I still have not found an answer to it. The topic of conversation with some colleagues was how children are so upbeat about the day when they wake up in the morning fresh and ready to live it as they desire.

During the conversation my friend suddenly asked the question, when does the change happen when you stop jumping out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm and optimism, genuinely looking forward to the day. That question for some reason stuck in my head. My mind took it even further by asking me WHY does it happen; because personally in this case why is more important than the when.

The challenge to finding an answer to this is that that ‘when’ happened such a long time ago that I will struggle to remember the ‘why’. Is the reason for this change a chemical change in your body or is it a state of mind that one enters which causes him to loose this happiness.

I think it is the state of mind that causes this change. When we are very young time is immaterial. A child will get up in the morning with all the time in the day to do all things his mind comes up with during that day. As you get a little older this luxury is taken away because of the child having to devote more time to certain obligations, for instance, starting nursery school. When the child commits some of his time everyday to obligatory duties I think that is the time waking up stops being so optimistic and energetic. The question here is, again, why. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the child is doing something it doesn’t want to do but I think its more of the element of being controlled by a timeline that comes with the territory.

So do you think that the mere realisation that there will be some parts of the day which we will have to spend doing something pre-prescribed (generally by someone else)? I have not found the answer within me, for this question. Can you?

Obsession with interface

Today I downloaded the twitter app off the mac app store and that is where the inspiration to write this post came from. If you have not already used it, try the app (it’s free). The interface for this app is something which I would like the apps for Mac OSX lion to follow as a default.

In the last few years, I have grown more and more obsessed with functional interfaces for all the programs I use. May it be for mac, iPhone, iPad or any other device, the way I interact with the device has become of the utmost importance. I have realised that how a good interface can significantly enhance the task efficiency. It is odd because the interface was not something I used to ever think twice about not too long ago. I personally think that this marks the beginning of a new era.

In the beginning, when I got into tech, there was the computer, the machine that did some word processing work really well and played some great games. This was the era when computers made your life easier but in no way essential.

Then came the time of the Internet. By this time computers had become relatively commonplace. The beginning of the Internet era was one marked with fascination. Websites took a lifetime to load but you eventually got to read yesterday’s news on some website. This was a time that the Internet was merely for fun. No one took it that seriously.

Then came the era of the information superhighway. The Internet went through a massive boom. It had started to feel like the future I used to think about as a kid. Free flow of information of any desired subject. The depth of this available information was such that it can be researched to a pervasive degree of detail.

And now, the Internet has literally exploded in both size and importance. It has become so essential that some countries have accepted access to the Internet as a basic human right along with food, water free speech and shelter. The wealth of information has overwhelmed the human race. It has become so vast that it is impossible to consume it all, like an ocean. Water water everywhere but little water to drink. I think this line can read as information information everywhere but only little is of relevance. There is a need to be able to filter this vast ocean of information to get the information that is desired.

This is where the interface comes in. An interface designed to filter out the required information while needing little to no effort to filter the information is required. This information filter needs to be intuitive and non obstructive to be able to provide this information in manageable chunks for the, rather limited, human brain. The aesthetics of this interface are important as well because a visually pleasing interface combined with intuitive functionality makes for an efficient workflow.

We all try to achieve more in less time i.e. there is an inherent need for an efficient workflow. I believe this is only achievable by having an interface which enables us to work with it rather than work on it. This way one can concentrate on the “what content to create and consume” instead of “how”.