Inspired by my recent binge-reading over at David Cain's superb blog, Raptitude, I've been practicing mindfulness as a new companion to my regular meditation practice. Quite soon into the practice, I had some subtly shocking revelations that I thought I would share.
One insight I’ve had lately regarding meditation sits (and other habits in general) is how often I’m not so motivated to sit, but once I do I find myself quickly getting into the mood, and then I do not want to stop. This then repeats for the next activity I am resistant to begin, and the cycle repeats. I then began to notice this in pretty much all aspects of my life: exercise, art, writing. The activity didn’t seem to matter, it was the shift to a new one that was the crux of the resistance.
It made me realize that the mind is an inertia machine — it prefers to keep doing whatever it is it is currently doing. Helpful or detrimental, it doesn’t seem to care or recognize the difference. The mind just prefers to keep doing what it is doing right now. The insight here is to just commit to getting started, and putting 5 minutes/reps/sentences/notes/brushstrokes/etc into action.
You don’t need much time to shift the mind over to the next thing it will get attached to, but the shift is where the struggle happens. It’s as if we have this impetuous child within, as if we do not evolve our personas but rather accumulate upon an ancient core that cannot be matured, evolved, ignored or reasoned with. We just need to understand how it functions, and find ways to work with it. The real key here is that it will never “go away”. We will never “get past” these struggles. Once we learn to accept and work constructively with these ground rules in mind, the easier it is to get past them.
It’s easy to think to yourself “I am lazy” and explain these behaviors away. But I don’t think there is any “I am” in these behaviors. I think these are artifacts of the structure of mind/brain/body. Once we realize these are impersonal, external to the self, and permanent, functional “hard wired” aspects of Mind, we can stop identifying with them and start looking for solutions to work around them. Work with them. Use them, instead of fighting them.
These struggles to sit in meditation, to exercise, to create — they are not signs of personal flaws, weaknesses or limitations. They are signs that the system is working normally. A bicycle only maintains balance when in motion; this is not a flaw, but an unavoidable and intrinsic aspect of the design. There is only one solution: start pedaling.
Excellent interview with one of my favorite subversive philosophers, Robert Anton Wilson, on the topic of self-directed consciousness change, or “meta-programming the bio-computer” as Wilson often refers to these techniques.
As usual with Wilson, the topics range freely across many disciplines from psychedelic drugs to yoga to quantum physics to Sufi mystics and CIA brainwashing conspiracies. This is an excerpt from the full audio program, “Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything“.
Pretending that a success or failure has already occurred—and looking back and inventing the details of why it happened—seems almost absurdly simple. Yet renowned scholars including Kahneman, Klein, and Karl Weick supply compelling logic and evidence that this approach generates better decisions, predictions, and plans. Their work suggests several reasons why.
— Bob Sutton, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less via Shane Parrish
Nice to have my ideas validated by a Nobel prize winner!
I started meditating about a year ago. I was pretty consistent for about 4-5 months and then kind of lost the momentum. I picked it back up in December and have been doing it pretty much daily since then.
Discussions with a like-minded friend led to some deeper research on the topic. This led me to the website, techniques and writing of Yogani on AYPsite.org (Advanced Yoga Practices) and I really liked what I found there. I decided to give the techniques offered there a try, and this is my 30 day recap on my experience so far. Continue reading “Meditation with Advanced Yoga Practices Techniques: The First 30 Days”