This is the third part in this series on mindfulness and today we will be taking a look at our mental images and preconceived ideas, more on mindlessness, the power of imagination and the role of intuition in our lives.
Ms. Havisham in Dickens’s Great Expectations
We need to be careful not to hold on to outmoded opinions and attitudes – false frozen mental images – best exemplified in Ms. Havisham in Dickens’s Great Expectations – who continued to wear her wedding dress in which she was abandoned many years before and which hung in torn and faded threads over her aged body.
Even a child can fall into this trap – for instance by regarding all old men as grumpy after just one experience with a grumpy old man and this impression may even be carried into adulthood. In not bothering to change this perception in later life – a person can be locked into a false perception in later life that is likely to be reflected in their own experience – they will turn into an old grump too! – and this of course applies to other aspects of life.
Context is everything
Mindlessness results when people accept information without taking the context into account. However in mindfulness context is everything! In fact, psychologists argue that all pain is context dependent. Getting a bruise out on the football pitch will matter much less to us than if we sustain one at home.
The power of imagination
Imagination is the key to perceiving things differently. The Birdman of Alcatraz stuck in his prison cell for over 40 years managed to make his life a rich one by taking care of injured birds. The message is simple – you can put up with anything as long as it is within a positive context – and with a personal vision everything can be put into perspective. In the famous words of Nitzche “If you have a WHY you can put up with almost any HOW”.
It’s not what you do – it’s the way that you do it!
Another key characteristic of mindfulness is a focus on process before outcome – doing rather than achieving. We look at a text book and assume that the author must be a genius …but this is a faulty comparison. With rare exceptions most successes in life are the result of years of work that can be broken down into stages. Before you face any task no matter how daunting – ask not ‘can I do it? – But – HOW can I do it?’ This type of approach sharpens your judgment and leads to increased self confidence.
Intuition is effortless and it works!
Sometimes it’s good to drop old habits and expectations and try something that may go against reason. Intuition is an important path to mindfulness. It may surprise you to know that the best scientists are intuitive – many spending years methodically validating what appeared to them in a flash of intuitive truth.
Intuition is achieved by escaping the heavy single minded striving of everyday life. It is believed to occur on those rare occasions when both hemispheres of the brain – the logical left side and the holistic right side – have a brief uninterrupted conversation. Intuition gives valuable information about our survival and success – ignore it at your cost.
The mindful person will go with what works even if it doesn’t make sense!
In summary, the beauty of mindfulness is that it is not work. It leads to greater control of your own thinking and can create a sense of quiet excitement about what is possible.
Try it and see for yourself!
Set Your Brain To Meditate