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Pursuing hobbies during IIT JEE preparation

It would stay a red letter day, when the result of IIT-JEE was out. With my entire family cheering, the news about my place in Top 500 AIR ranking would spell disbelief among all. Just three houses away from my residence, where another guy worked day and night to get through the same examination, would cry desperately about my success. He blamed my craze for hobbies and how I wasted hours in doing them.

He would describe my success was completely a bolt from blue and simply I did not deserve it. His judgment went frankly against me, terming my success as a complete fluke and for this later, I would only suffer. Poor guy, he simply failed to know that my hobbies were so creative and those only created the right mind-set in me to face the challenge of one of the toughest entrance tests on earth IIT-JEE.  Good hobbies broke me away from the disturbing thoughts and brought in me the necessary self-concentration. Mind needs cleansing and staying free from stress; my hobbies stayed instrumental in keeping my mind fit.  Let’s know about some of my hobbies, which played the pivotal role in my selection in IIT-JEE.

Yoga and Meditation

“Mind needs training. It need not command you, rather you stay in a place to command it”-says my spiritual preceptor. The lessons in yoga and meditation were invaluable in understanding and correcting the limitations of mind.  Most of my classmates would keep mid-night oil burning and studying. They would wake up late during the day and again get back to books and practice of answers till mid-night. I refused to accept it. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise”-was my inspiration from grandparents.

I made it a point to retire to bed simply by 9 P.M and wake up by 5 A.M. The next one hour was the time for practice of breathing exercise- ‘pranayama’. I would open the windows of my room to let in fresh air and begin the breathing practice. I would spend 45 minutes for that and then sit silently on the floor for next 15 minutes to observe my breathing. As breathing is fundamental to living, observation of breathing process brings out all the toxic from body and mind. Gradually, my mind would grow still, recharging me for the entire day. Everyday practice of yoga and meditation would keep my mind ready for receiving the lessons from books and coaching classes and reproduce the answers effectively during practice within allotted time-frame. If mind is not ready to receive, reloading it with it loads of mental stress and anticipating success make one living in fool’s paradise.

Talk to the mentors

Real life lessons make me learn a lot. I came in contact with people, who had in them a lot of stuff that I would describe as ‘life building material’. Truly, they are my mentors. My teacher in Physics, who gave up a lucrative government job to pursue a career in teaching, was somebody, who kept me inspired. It was one of my hobbies to talk to him. He made me downright humble, unassuming but determined to go after goal. I visited his house everyday and talked to him about my doubts in the topics. 

True learning not only comes from lessons from books but from knowing the incidents in the lives of people, whom you adore. I knew by talking to him that difficulties faced by the students during preparation were same to all. But encountering those psychologically could bring the real solutions. He would often quote before me the words of immortal saint Sri Aurobindo that ‘mind must be prepared to face the challenge of life”. Besides, learning from him about the subject, I would talk to him for getting all those inspirational things in life. It was only his company that breathed life in me to go ahead with preparation.

True relaxation, not self-indulgence

I relaxed by reading the self-motivational books, solving cross-word puzzles, and watched movies. But I did such things to the extent that those would not become my obsessions. Let’s say for instance, reading the books of Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale was my hobby right from beginning. Thinking is the root cause of everything. Once it gets transformed, life would certainly go for better. This I thought in right earnest. ‘Stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie and ‘the power of positive thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale were my most favorite ones; those inspired me to take up right karma with true sincerity.

Similarly, take the example of movies.  The movie market keeps on bringing out truly inspirational movies; especially the ones that teach us team management, motivation, and professionalism. Just think about Hindi movie-‘Lagaan’. I keep on searching for such movies and viewing them gives me true relaxation of mind and motivation. Relaxation has always recharged my body and mind and helped me to overcome obstacles in life. True relaxation does not make someone self-indulgent, rather it motivates people to try harder and achieve goals of life. Reading a chapter or two from my favorite authors stayed my favorite pastime; it gave me the scope to think out of box and gear up for the challenge of present.

Living in the magnanimity of present-my true hobby 

You live in the true meditative state with oneness of mind, when you begin living in present without bothering about past and future. While mind goes like a pendulum between agonies of past and worries for future, you need to live only in your present to face the challenge of an examination. As mental equilibrium was the first necessity to prepare for a tough test like IIT-JEE, I made my best efforts to live in my present. My goal was set to appear at the examination and solve the questions of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics with complete accuracy. I fully avoided the thoughts of what would happen when I would fail to get through the IIT-JEE.

As a matter of fact, when such nagging thoughts appeared in my mind, I took to my childhood hobbies. I painted pictures and kept those on my study table, when extreme stress from study captured me. Painting was my most favorite among childhood hobbies. When I painted, it broke me away from tormenting thoughts about past and future. A nice painting during the hectic preparation for IIT-JEE would draw appreciation from one and all. Of course, I would draw solace from the words of people that I would make my living as a painter if I would fail in IIT-JEE. Painting was a big wall to fall back on, when frustrating thoughts about past and future would come.

Play a game to beat psychological stress

Badminton was my favorite game. Whenever I found my mind was feeling heavy from stress from mind, I was out in the afternoon with my Badminton racket to play a game in neighborhood. Heavy sweating would relax mental stress, while every win would bring me confidence. I would whistle while coming back home and resume studying after sometime.

It stayed a practice with me to go for a hectic physical exercise, when psychological stress from preparation from examination took over me. Physical exercise simply gave a new renewal in my confidence. Even when my Badminton game pals were not there, I would go to park to jog a few rounds on the tracks and get my adrenaline flowing. It had superb after-effect charging me physically and psychologically.