The other story

I’ve been watching and listening to the presentations from the Mindfulness Summit, which is happening over October. Well worth the time if you have any interest in awareness or consciousness.

On Friday, there was a presentation by Tara Brach. One story she told caught my attention, not for the actual content of the story but the message it held.

I’ve touched on the topic of the stories we tell ourselves before, but within the context of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

Tara was reminding us that we tell stories to ourselves about others.

Mindfulness is one way of becoming aware that we are listening to our stories about people and not seeing the people in our lives.

If you’re not quite sure what I mean, think of the labels you use to describe others. Try a couple of good ones like Muslim or Infidel; Christian or Atheist; Republican or Democrat.

There is always a person underneath the label – a person just like you.

There is only one source and we all come from that source. Using different names for source does not change the nature of source or our relationship with it or each other.

Something to think about the next time you catch yourself labelling another.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.

Unlock the mind

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Before you can unlock the mind you need to acknowledge that it might be locked. And, how do you find out if it is locked?

The secret is to notice what you think.

Most of the time there is a stream of thoughts running through your mind, dictating how you live your life – and you can follow that stream on autopilot, if you choose. After all, a lot of those thoughts are simply replays of the instructions passed to you by well intentioned people like parents or teachers or pastors.

If you never actually examine the thoughts you live by, you’ll never know whether you’re locked into patterns of behaviour or ways of seeing the world. And, if you’re locked in, what might you be missing out on?

Here are some practices you can use to examine that flow of thoughts.

Morning pages, as described by Julia Cameron in the Artists Way, is one way you can uncover what’s going on in your mind. Another way is to try some form of meditation that allows you to stop all your busyness and watch the thoughts that come into your awareness. Mindfulness is one form of meditation you can try.

Something else you could experiment with is writing down what you do each day and looking for patterns, or pay attention to the words you use in your daily speech. Do you hear yourself saying the same thing over and over? What words are you using to describe the world you live in?

Do you have a tendency to insist on being right? You know – It’s your way or the highway!

It’s such a liberating feeling discovering that something you have always thought was right or true isn’t, especially when it’s a limiting thought telling you about something you can’t or shouldn’t do.

Go on, give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.


Time travelling

The other night I was browsing the topics being discussed in the ‘Philosophy of the mind’ community on Google+ and joined in a conversation on whether we’d ever be able to build a super computer for time travel. The next morning James Altucher’s newsletter was on time travel.

Why is it that some of us seem to be obsessed with the idea of time travel, wanting to either go back in time or catapult ourselves into the future? And, why do we think we need a machine to do it?

If I could just go back and …..
Some of this wanting to go back in time is no doubt motivated by a desire to know what really happened at some event, or to uncover those facts that didn’t get recorded in the history books, or to see if there really were dinosaurs attached to all those fossilised bones we’ve dug up all over the place.

Some of it, I suspect, is about wanting to change the course of history – what would the world be like today if you could go back and make sure Corporal Hitler was killed instead of wounded in 1918? or if you make sure the vote favoured Al Gore in 2000? or if you could go back and join the dots for the FBI and CIA so that 9/11 didn’t happen? Tempting isn’t it?

If I could just find out what’s going to happen……
And, who doesn’t want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow? or next week? or in tens years time? Who doesn’t want to have an edge, something they know will be the next big thing that they can be the first to exploit? In fact, there’s a whole industry devoted to it: futurology.

You’re already a time traveller….
The more I read on topics like consciousness and mindfulness, the more I’m convinced that most of us are time travellers on a daily, sometimes hourly, or even moment to moment, basis.

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘monkey mind’. David Rynick , in his book This Truth Never Fails, uses the term ‘doggy mind’ that gives us a wonderful picture of how an untrained mind wanders all over the place, like a dog on a walk checking out every blade of grass, tree or lamp post. I love that picture.

Take a moment to watch your own mind. Just sit quietly and observe where it goes and what thoughts pass through it when you don’t keep it on a leash.

How many times have you become aware that while you’re driving the car you’re actually thinking about something else, like what’s going to happen when to get to your destination – particularly if you’re running late? That’s time travelling. You have put your attention, the conscious mind, into the future.

Or maybe you’re someone who has lots of regrets, and you’re always reliving those moments in your life when things didn’t go the way you wanted. That’s time travelling, and every time you travel back into the past, you’re playing around with your memories, and possibly distorting them. Take a look at memory on psychologytoday .

Where are you now?
If you’re time travelling, your conscious mind is not paying attention to what’s going on in the here and now, where your life is actually playing out.

Remember to breathe – you can only do it consciously in the here and now.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.