Set your Brain to Meditate: Part 2

Image: Photostock

The Buddhist understanding holds that meditation is a mindful state that leads to ‘right action’. When combined with mindfulness it has the same effect not just for the health of the individual but also for greater society.

Our tendency to look at the negatives, to put outcomes ahead of actually doing things and by making faulty comparisons with others can leave us like feeling like robots at the mercy of daily events. In essence mindfulness is about preserving our individuality – through openness to the new, reclassifying the meaning of our knowledge and experience and by an ability to see our daily actions in a bigger consciously chosen perspective.

When good categories turn bad

Rather than always look at things afresh and anew – we create categories – and let things ‘fall into them’. We do this for the sake of convenience. These categorisations can be small such as defining a flower as a rose, a person as a boss – or a wider categorization – such as a religion or a political system. These categories help to give us psychological certainty and save us from the effort of constantly challenging our own beliefs. In this way we define animals as ‘livestock’ or ‘pets’ so that we can feel OK eating one and loving the other.

Shhhh….there’s a secret to being a genius

Mindlessness is when we accept these categories without really thinking about them. In contrast, mindfulness is about questioning old categories and creating new ones. In fact ‘genius’ has been described as perceiving things afresh, in a non habitual way.

Let me leave you with a quote from Marcel Proust’s great novel In Search of Lost Time Past to illustrate what I mean and check back in later this week for Part 3 of this meditation series.

We commonly live with a self reduced to its bare minimum; most of our faculties lie dormant, relying on habit; and habit knows how to manage without them.

Read the first part of this series here