Quietening one’s self down.

Not without a touch of serendipity.

I’m speaking of meditation.

That is all I seem to do when I approach the subject: speak and think about it but never do it!

However, I think I may be approaching a turning point. All thanks to a follower of Patrice Ayme’s blog.  It was a comment from ‘R.’ in response to my question on this PA post.  Here’s how the comments flowed (hope this isn’t too long-winded but I wanted to select all that seemed appropriate to the post):

R:

I run 5d/wk, and I notice my thinking/contemplation is “heightened” during cardio. I believe this is no different than the “high” you get when taking some drugs (mushroom, weed, etc).

Physical exercise also helps keep my rest of the day sharp. But this is just keeping the engine (physical body) fit, thus helps thinking straight. Nothing more.

Meditation/awareness is the main key. And you need some way to be in it 24/7, not just during (or little while after) exercise . And “calm and collected” is the way for it. You can sustain this through out the day, and even during sleep/dream states (according to advanced meditators). “Calm” not as in “looking at navel”; calm as in “focused, in control, zen-like”. This involves moral conditioning too, as it’s hard to be calm if you have any shred of fear. And the way to lose fear, is through ideal morals (aka dharma, natural law).

There are higher meditative states (permanent, sustained), humans can get into. Temporary highs are just that.

—-

Patrice:

R: To be answered mostly in a separate comment. Meditative states are numerous. They are even necessary to some physical activities. It can be called concentration in some cases. Deep diving in apnea is an example. There is a case when meditation is life saving. Miss the meditation, miss the resuscitation.paul, like any new habit, meditation takes time to cultivate. It is after all a life long endeavor of “understanding one’s self”. It is easier if we dont view it as some new task (or half-hour daily exercise in navel-gazing).

—-

Me:

Having re-read the essay and others’ comments, causes me to speak a little about my own short-term memory failings. I’m 70 later this year and in the last, oh I don’t know ( can’t remember 😉 ), 2 or 3 years, my ‘event’ memory has declined dreadfully. But it’s not uniform. Even after 2 years, I still struggle to find certain shops in nearby Grants Pass but do recall clearly when our bridge washed out after we moved into the house in October, 2012.

There is no discernible pattern, and other men of my general age frequently suffer the same way.

If there were mental exercises that helped stem this problem, I would love to know more; assuming I could remember the details!

—-

R:

If i may, try meditation. A simple meditation exercise is just to be aware of yourself in all activities you do (initially we find ourselves lost often, but if you keep at it, soon % of being with yourself greatly exceeds losing self. calm, control and clarity is developed.). A good barometer/progress is to see if the daily activities drive you, or you drive the daily activities.

Of course physical exercises/fitness are absolute minimum. For old-age i would recommend yoga (fancy word for stretching and proper breathing)

Meditation while doing yoga with proper breathing (pranayama) gives out of this world results (this whole process is collectively called “yoga”).

And you can “be in it” 24/7 (as yoga includes sitting, sleeping poses too; It just an art of proper physical + mental positioning through out the day).

If eastern keywords are disturbing, ignore those. Just like everything else, the more you do something, the more you become that. This is particularly (exponentially) true for mind stuff.

—-

Patrice:

R: Paul is obviously a very reflective person. I do not exactly know what would be the distinctive definition(s?) between reflective and meditative states. I do know, though, that some sports (solo climbing and apnea) require total neurological control.

R:

Reflection/contemplation/meditation all of these help in mind (habits, inertia, anything thats limiting/holds-back) transformation.

Meditation is reflection on self. Reflection on daily activities takes time away from reflection on self. Increasing self awareness makes apparent all blind spots (wisdom).

If you are a physically able, healthy human, almost all your problems (aka “suffering”) are mind related. Physical body (including physical brain) just needs basic (of course healthy) sustenance.

Me:

R, yes I concur entirely about the majority of ‘problems’ being mind related. I have on my bookshelf next to me Roy Masters’ book ‘How Your Mind Can Keep You Well – An Introduction to Stress Management.

But if there’s one thing I would like to crack is starting and maintaining a programme of meditation. So many have recommended this approach and, rationally and emotionally, I know it will offer benefits. However, for some reason I can’t translate that ambition into actually starting.

Would love to listen to your advice about how to get started. You don’t have a blog do you? If not, fancy writing a guest post for Learning from Dogs! 😉 Contact details on the home page.

(Sorry Patrice – didn’t mean to hog the channel!)

Patrice:

Hog all you want, Paul. Even when I disagree with you, I find you interesting. Meditation and memory are vast questions. I pointed out that too much memory could be bad,  basically. The first thing to get good memory, is to stop stressing about it, and thinking about what we really care about, without getting drawn to, and drowned, in formalism.
PA

R:

Paul, If you are just looking for basic stress relieving meditation, this one looks good.

‘R’ then very kindly sent me the following:

To permanently establish this habit, first our mind needs to be convinced of the benefits.

Like any hobby, we need to develop an interest in the topic. And this means reading up on theory, on what is mediation, why do we need it, what happens if we pretend it doesn’t exist.

There are different styles of meditation, and different end goals, different schools of thought.

Self-inquiry is my preferred approach, as it’s the only thing you can rely on (your own self). There is a lot of literature on this. But all of this is just food for thought, nothing more.

There is also vast Buddhist literature: you can ignore all the theology and just focus on basics. Theory becomes a burden , so all conceptual knowledge has to be discarded. So I don’t advocate any philosophy or sect or schools of thought: Only believe in your realisations.

The end-goal of all this is full wisdom; reality as-is; liberation (end of suffering); control of one’s self; “the world is truly yours”; you are capable of handling anything; you can exercise “real free-will”; you are at ease being you; your knowledge will be flaw-less; and, finally, you will naturally empathise with others (as you will be aware what others are going through).

This is not some mumbo-jumbo, you will realize and experience it for your self.

This is about wisdom as in practical common-sense.

I am totally convinced by those heartfelt words. I’m sure there are others who, like me, have talked about meditation but done no more, hence me sharing this with you.

Anything to learn from dogs?

Are you kidding!

Cleo deep in meditation.
Cleo deep in meditation.

oooo

Pharaoh demonstrating the art of contemplation.
Pharaoh demonstrating the art of contemplation.

oooo

Cleo, deep in meditation.
Young Oliver, learning new ways in meditation.

My case rests!

14 thoughts on “Quietening one’s self down.

  1. I tend to do most of my writing in my head during exercise – particularly when doing laps in the pool for 45 minutes – everything seems clear and I get out feeling physically and mentally refreshed. I sleep better too which I think is an important benefit of doing exercise and that allows us to dream and clear the clutter from the mind. Perhaps that is what dogs have developed – they are quite clear about their purpose in life and certainly sleep a great deal.. thanks for a great article.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your reply. My days here are usually pretty busy and despite lots of physical activity no periods set aside for exercise. So thinking first to start the meditation to “clear the mind” and maybe later a daily period of exercise.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Science charging to the rescue! Aging, drastic memory loss, is just a disease. Finding back old memories is as simple as finding some virgin out there, and transferring her blood to oneself! Not kidding. The first experiment in Stanford is only days away.

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    1. PA, science indeed is going to help human evolution, but not sure how much it can help “self”/soul (mind, habits, character). For example, they were no where near finding a pill for addiction, Even then, it may solve some substance addiction problems…but not sure about meta(mind, thinking)-addictions like character/habits.

      I recently came across this article where they were able to switch brain states from fearful to cheerful in mouse…but then i wonder if the original mouse’s self-integrity is maintained. I mean, its like getting into a road accident involving our head and we loose all memory (say, sad), and now its clean state-of-sorts. What about any new sad memories…do we need another accident (or pill).

      Another recent article i came across suggests humans are actually becoming dumber (not more mature) because of advancements (agriculture, science, anything that lets humans depend more on external stuff like tools, pills).

      Combine the above two articles, we have a future where science can potentially render human’s self-identity (integrity of personhood) in jeopardy, and make him more dumber.

      human’s already lost most of the physical prowess over the last 1000s of years, hopefully they dont loose their brains too in the next 1000s. Either way, we still need a mechanism(meditation, self-analysis) to comprehend the real reality that happens in mind/thinking/thought-space.

      I hope science can find us all a “wisdom pill” (intuition of reality). Until then, we can use our god given mind to explore its full depths.

      Like

      1. Wow! What a insightful reply, and your first in this place. Thank you for your contribution. Not only for your reply but for the essence of the whole post.

        Like

      2. R: That humans are getting dumber is a complicated issue. It seems that brain capacity is 10% less than with Neanderthal (at least). The link you gave, otherwise excellent seems to forget that point. (The reaction time thing is not necessarily connected to intelligence, quite the opposite, BTW.)

        Science has interfered with the biosphere for the last million years at least.

        Science has been reflective forever (Socrates was wrong on that one).

        Science is common sense, it’s us.

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      3. no doubt science is the best thing happen to humans. The problem is its evolution, direction, and efficiency (is it helping human in wholesome).

        3K-2K years ago, most of the cultures (humans) were deeply exploring mind (emotions, character, morals, self, soul, etc,etc). sometimes it was through religion, but never the less, majority of humans were (very) CLOSE to their self (emotions, morals, habits, character). Science was about mind, self-happiness. And any physical tools/inventions were utilities, they were not the science, just means.

        Along the way, for some reason (may be vested interests), science lost its way. Plutocrats(money, wealth) decide modern science evolution. Tools/utilities/inventions became the science (atleast thats the end goal). For example, Most of the modern science is put to use in an iphone than inside a human’s mind (salvation). Same thing with any field, most of biological knowledge is put to use to fix medical ailments not mind, most of the chemistry is put to use in industrial areas not mind, and most of the physics is put to use in instruments, and furthering of science itself, not human mind(salvation, self-help, happiness, wholesomeness).

        its in fashion to deride religion, but religion did not start off as some kind of propaganda/tool (like its used in today’s human world), it started off as a real salvation/solution to any human’s mind problems (emotions, thinking, character).

        The “old science” (virgin, not manipulated by politics, wealth, plutocrats) was more balanced. People were using tools for their intended purpose, and not an end-goal. The main goal was a bigger endeavor – salvation, self-happiness, understanding one’s self(emotions, habits, character, morals etc.etc).

        Like

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