This article has been published in Forensic Science Executive- Spring 2020
Over two-thousand years ago, on a battlefield in India, the greatest warrior of all time, felt an internal conflict. He needed to lead his soldiers into battle, but on the other side were people he loved too. The two sides grew up together, played sports together, went to school together, taught each other, worked together and married each other. However, a political divide had torn them apart, and now he faced his loved ones on the battlefield. This warrior was not afraid of losing, he knew he would win, but it would be at the detriment of others’ lives; the lives of his teachers, friends, and cousins. The conflict he had lived in his heart, he was afraid, sad, and uncertain. He wasn’t sure he could perform the role he was born to do.
A charioteer arrives, offering the warrior help of 20,000 additional soldiers or himself a single charioteer. Confident in his ability, the warrior sends the 20,000 soldiers to the other side and request help dealing with his internal conflict. The warrior receives many messages and lessons through the wisdom of the charioteer. When asking about how to lead his life, the warrior is instructed – establish yourself in the present moment and then perform action. Do this before you react, regret your actions, and succumb to fear and panic. Precisely chill out and then be brilliant, do your best and leave the rest, or get still then lead with purpose.
The present moment can sometimes feel far away. We have, on average, 60,000 thoughts a day; they swirl around in every moment, quickly causing overwhelm and confusion. The thousands of thoughts are commonly ruminating about something that has already happened or trying to predict the future. Because the brain is continually looking for threats, thoughts, many times, are over-focused on analyzing anything perceived as negative. Easily distracted, a headline, notification noise, or even smell can easily trigger the brain to become unaware again.
The lesson demonstrates we hold at the same time our virtues and opposing forces along with our habits and a better version of ourselves. When we place attention on our learned behaviors and introduce a pattern interrupt, we can become open up to additional possibilities, especially within ourselves. It is the space between stimulus and response where stillness rests. The present moment is in the space between our thoughts, between our words, between our breath. Einstein, Thoreau, Emerson, Beethoven, and Gandhi read these lessons to understand how to navigate the battlefield of the mind in an attempt to overcome adversity and self-doubt.
One way to access the present moment is by taking a deep breath in and watching it as it goes in your nose, expanding through the chest and belly. Hold the breath when you get to the top of the inhalation. Then, watch your breath for a moment as it rests inside. Slowly exhale, watching the breath leave the belly, chest, and nose. Hold the breath for a moment again at the bottom of the exhalation, watching the last bit of air leave the body. Now, continue to breathe as you watch your breath. Here you are in this present moment, what would the best version of you do? The version of you that has no fear, is not reacting from ego, and is born to be a leader. Reflect on your best version, paying attention to what is bubbling up. Then, step into that higher version of yourself and lead from your most mindful self.