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How to create more awe and flow for a joyful and fulfilling life

by Parveen Chopra
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Rx for resilience | By Saroj Dubey
As gastroenterologist Dr Saroj Dubey debuts as an author with ‘Rx for Resilience’, here are some tips he shared in a TEDx talk he gave in  New Delhi some time ago.

We are often so caught up with incessant doing that we forget to come back to the Being mode. As a result, we never feel completely fulfilled and happy despite achieving a lot of success.
In his TEDx talk given recently in Delhi, the well-known gastroenterologist, mindfulness practitioner, and trainer Dr Saroj Dubey recommended ways to create more space and pauses in our hectic lives. He said we can train ourselves to savor the pleasant moments so that there is more awe and flow in our lives. We need to become engaged and open to each moment of life and to look for awe and wonder in our everyday lives.
Dr Dubey has a special interest and passion for the mind-body connection. He actively teaches mindfulness and is passionate about guiding others to lead a happy, fulfilled, creative, and joyful life. His book, ‘Rx for Resilience’, published by Hay House India, was released at the World Book Fair in New Delhi on February 11.
Dr Dubey started his TEDx presentation by saying that as a society, we believe in doing and striving to gain more from life. Perhaps that’s because we have not allowed enough Being to enter our lives. He gave his example, “I love dancing, but have been bluntly told that I am a lousy dancer. Yet, I have also been told that what I have mastered is the dance of doing and Being in my life.”
Dr Dubey then went on to explain what Being is all about.
“Being can be considered to be a more expansive and effortless way of living, which is characterized by acceptance, intuition, feeling, and allowing, rather than just by rationalizing and thinking, which is the hallmark of the doing mode. There is a willingness to explore the unknown and an attitude of the beginner’s mind.”

Six strategies to shift into the Being mode

Dr Dubey then proceeded to offer six strategies that have helped him the most to shift into the Being mode, and which have been backed by scientific data.

1. Presence

Presence is, in fact, common to all the strategies.
Presence, or mindfulness, is being aware of the present moment as it is nonjudgmentally.
Most of the time, however, we are so wrapped in our thoughts and worries that we go about the day in autopilot mode. Mind wandering and mindlessness is, in fact, an epidemic. A famous Harvard study showed that up to 47% of people surveyed confessed to having distracted, stressful thoughts.
Wandering mind is an unhappy mind.
So it pays to be more aware and present, which has been shown to increase our focus, productivity, creativity, and overall happiness.
We can become more present by using formal breathing and mindfulness techniques. Another extremely useful way is to use your senses fully. The senses of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling bring us back into presence and ground us to this moment.
Sipping a cup of tea in awareness immediately can bring you into presence.


In our fast-paced lives, what we need more than anything else is time to do nothing. The Dutch call it Niksen, the art of doing nothing.
It can be considered as using one’s time and energy to just sit idle, gaze about and be.
It is compared to a car whose engine is on but not moving. Let me tell you that it is an extremely efficient way. It helps reduce stress and burnout and increases our joy, enthusiasm, and productivity.
This Niksen time is sacred. It can be about taking a leisurely walk. We can even create a Niksen space in our home, where we can just be. I have my Niksen space in my doctor’s chamber where people often find me either just meditating or sitting about.
We have all heard about FoMO, the fear of missing out. But what is most needed is JoMo, the joy of missing out. We need to cherish these moments of non-doing, where we have no particular destination to arrive at.

In our fast-paced lives, what we need more than anything else is to learn the art of doing nothing. The Dutch call it Niksen. The Italians coined a term for it – ‘Dolce Far Niente’, also the title of this painting by John William Waterhouse.


Imagine being in a lecture hall. Most will notice the people, objects, and furniture. Not too many will be aware of the space, which allows this room to be.
Why is space so important?
A study by Janice Marturano found that most CEOs in America wanted more space in their lives as compared to more money or power.
Living on a nonstop treadmill takes its toll on us. We need more space to step back from the treadmill. We need more space to listen to the voice of our heart so that we become more compassionate and tender human beings.
The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl tells us about the space between stimulus and response. In that space lies the power to choose our response, and in that choice lies our growth and freedom.
Psychotherapist Tara Goldman calls it the magic quarter second in which we can watch our thoughts and emotions so that we do not react compulsively and rather respond wisely.
How do we create more space in our lives? By being aware of space around things and objects and spending some time in silence.
A very natural way, which I have found, said Dr Dubey, is to create pauses and gaps in our daily routine. “When things become very chaotic, I just take a couple of minutes to reconnect with my body, with my breath, and carry on.”


The fourth strategy is savoring, which is a sure-shot way of coming into Being. Savoring can be defined as lingering on a positive moment to prolong it. It is the ability to attend, appreciate, and enhance a pleasant experience.
But this is contrary to what we mostly do. Mostly we are distracted and disconnected. So, it is imperative that we learn to practice relishing and savoring the pleasant moments of the day. Like just basking in a task well done or savoring a tasty snack.
Rick Hansen, a neuropsychologist, talks about the negativity bias, where the mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive experiences. When something negative happens, we just latch onto it and keep on thinking about it, while the pleasant moments just slide by like Teflon without moving us.
However, when we savor and absorb these pleasant moments, we are training the neurons to store them in the memory. This is the basis of positive neuroplasticity.
So the next time you come across something pleasurable, which can be a fragrance or the exhilarating warmth of the early morning sun, the feeling of a gentle breeze against your skin, just pause for a second, take it in completely, and absorb it before moving on. These extra few minutes can make a tremendous impact on your day.


Awe is a sense of aliveness and expansiveness in the face of something vast and majestic. We normally reserve it to talk about exotic beauty like the Taj Mahal or Niagara Falls.
But awe and wonder are all around us if we notice.
“I have trained myself to observe awe and wonder in the most ordinary moments. The pattern of clouds in the sky, the falling raindrops, or just a sunrise or sunset. We simply need to be a little still to take it in. Standing here at this TEDx podium is an awe-inspiring experience.”
Dacher Keltner, author of the book Awe, talks about the moral beauty of awe where we experience awe in the face of extreme courage, tender compassion, even overwhelming odds.
Many studies have shown that awe is great for our hearts and our immune system. It increases our longevity. It makes us inspired and rise above ourselves. The transformative power of everyday awe is uplifting.


The last strategy is, in fact, the most exciting, which is flow.
Do you recall a situation where you were so absorbed and enthralled in some activity that you lost all sense of time and place?
It may be reading a spy novel or playing a chess game.
Flow is a term coined by the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. There is a lot of intrigue about Flow because it is supposed to be the reason behind peak performance and a peak sense of being. Sportspeople have always known it as being in the zone. If you recall Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in the inaugural T20 World Cup, you know what Flow is.
There are many triggers of Flow, the most important is getting out of the way. Yes, you, who normally judges and compares, seem to dissolve, allowing Flow to unfold magically.
But don’t think that Flow is just for sportspeople or artists. We all experience it albeit may not be aware of it.
“When I realized that I get into Flow while dancing, I stopped bothering about what people told me, and I made more time for it.”
So, what is it that brings Flow into your lives?
Just be aware of it. Aware of the triggers of Flow. It could be adventure sports, gardening, or playing guitar. Carve out more time in your schedule, and you’ll see how your days are filled with enthusiasm and joy.
Dr Dubey concluded that these six strategies are extremely simple, yet practical. You may be a busy CEO, a leader, a homemaker, or a student, but you can easily incorporate them in your daily lives.
We need to reclaim our lives. We need to reclaim our joy.
We need more awe and wonder in our daily lives to have some space and step back and savor the beautiful moments all around us so that life becomes one big Flow. And we engage deeply with each moment and say yes to the present moment.
Doing is important, but we just need to have that mix of Being and doing so that it becomes a seamless dance, the cha-cha-cha of Being and doing.
Joseph Campbell said, “We are so engaged in things of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Tweak Dr Dubey’s advice a little here and there. Try it out for yourself and see the difference.

Saroj Dubey

Dr Saroj Dubey

Dr Saroj Dubey is a Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist practicing in the Indian capital. A long-time mindfulness practitioner, he has a deep interest in well-being, spirituality, and mind-body connection. Hay House India has published his first book, ‘Rx for Resilience’.

Excerpt from ‘Rx for Resilience’ by Dr Saroj Dubey

Book cover by Dr DubeyHow do we stand up when all our illusions of solidity are destroyed in a matter of days? This is the universe’s invitation to discover your true self. Explore who you are when everything you believed in has been destroyed. These were the questions I was grappling with for a few months in the aftermath of the incident. The image I had carefully built, that had long defined me as a proficient and skilled gastroenterologist had suffered a huge blow. I found myself questioning my very essence. If this image lay shattered, was there a more profound aspect of my identity beyond the persona of a doctor that I had dedicated years to crafting? I did not realize it then, but the state of not knowing can be potent. As Eckhart Tolle put it eloquently: ‘When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.’ However, while it is happening, it seems like an unknown place where we are unwilling to move forward. I fought hard to try to hold on to what seemed certain and predictable.

I was determined not to be in a rush to get back to my normal life and pretend that the incident had never happened, or it was now a closed chapter. I deeply felt that I should allow this grief to be experienced completely. This was going to be my redemption…. However, this was a turning point in my life, and I wanted it to shake the very core of my being so that I could find the true nature of reality. I wanted to step right into the core of my fear and despair even if it meant I could be engulfed by it.

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