Presence of Mind – 3 characteristics that help in difficult times

Presence of Mind – 3 characteristics that help in difficult times

Sanjay Rao Chaganti

Happiness Catalyst - Leadership and Life Coach


In this scene from  ‘Live and Let Die,’ a classic James Bond movie, the famous secret service agent is marooned on a very small island with crocodiles surrounding him. Bond tries to use his magnetic watch to get a metal boat towards him, but it fails. The crocodiles are getting closer.

Bond has just some moments to act….! What does he do?

Not surprisingly, Bond does what generations have expected from this iconic character – he escapes. But it is the manner of his escape that sets James Bond apart. He jumps on to one crocodile and then on to another, to get to safety!

And audiences around the world cheered!

While, the James Bond character epitomizes many admirable traits, it is his presence of mind that has not only won him legions of followers across generations, but also spawned so many pale imitations.

Presence of Mind – an admirable trait

This presence of mind, this alertness, amidst threats to survival, is indeed an admirable trait. While many believe that is something that we are born with, neuroscience is now showing us that the skills of attention can indeed be cultivated. In fact, contemplative traditions across Asia have powerful insights and deeply rooted practices, that enable us to cultivate mental alertness.

During periods of prolonged uncertainty and negativity, even as we stay focused on our tasks and duties, the hidden virus of fear, combined with our imagination, has a way of working on our minds; pulling us down, bit by bit. It becomes imperative therefore, that we learn and adopt practices that can counter this unsettling feeling deep within.

Three Characteristics of an Attentive Mind

If you watch James Bond in that sequence, or recall your own personal experience of demonstrating presence of mind, you will notice that there are three sub-traits that can be identified.

An attentive mind is one that is Relaxed, Stable and has Clarity.

Observe Dhoni on the cricket field. He emanates all these three characteristics. What stands out is his sense of relaxation amidst the drama all around him.

  • A Relaxed mind is akin to the roots of a tree. It forms the foundation of presence of mind.
  • Stability is the next characteristic of an attentive mind and can be compared to the trunk of the tree. The trunk stands firm in storms.
  • Finally, the branches with its colourful leaves/fruits are akin to the Clarity that an attentive mind possesses.

A mind that is relaxed, stable and clear is better placed to handle the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster that we are subject too. While we might not all want (or get) the fancy cars, the debonair lifestyle, globe trotting lifestyle that Bond enjoys, we certainly can cultivate an enhanced presence of mind!

How does one learn to practice these characteristics?

Traditional Indian wisdom has depicted a crocodile as a metaphor for emotions. To manage our emotions better, we first need to acknowledge them. The ‘Hello Mr. Crocodile’ is a two hours program that provides some simple, effective and time-tested micro-practices to build resilience and positivity, especially amidst this extended period of volatility and uncertainty.

Join me in this very practical and engrossing session in building mental strength.

I will be leading a two hour session where I will share some simple yet powerful insights and micro-practices that we can incorporate into our lives to cultivate a resilient and attentive mind.

Read more about my upcoming program here – Hello Mr.Crocodile.



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