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):
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
My case rests!