I decided to attend a Buddhist Retreat which focused on meditation techniques. Now I have a problem with meditation. I have difficulty quietening my mind. Meditating is a great challenge for the borderline ADD’s. It’s almost impossible for us to remain with a clear ‘screen’ for more than three minutes. Anyway I persevered and managed to let go of the immediate past, future-paced hopes and fears, erotic daydreams, the worsening backache and the itchy nose. And I must admit that I managed to quieten things down quite successfully over the course of the weekend.
During one of the breaks I approached the facilitator, who appeared knowledgeable in Buddhist matters and enquired how meditation assists us in daily life. I suggested that it’s all well and good getting into a resourceful mind state in such perfect surroundings, but on returning to the stresses of the coal-face and daily life in the ‘front’ lines, the serene would be replaced in minutes by the blood curdling battle cries of survival. The young man replied that ongoing repetition of the meditative state would eventually pervade daily life and ultimately would become the default mode – a kind of osmosis!
Now being a ‘neuro guy’ I know about this process called neuroplasticity – the breaking down of old neuronal circuitry and the establishing of new connections, which underpins learning. Therefore learning and change is an active process. And so I could not accept that answer. Things don’t just happen. You might as well put a book under your pillow at night so that you get to know it all in the morning! So I sought out a Buddhist person of repute to assist me with my dilemma. For without knowing the benefits of meditation, I couldn’t squeeze out sufficient dopamine to sustain the effort. This time my question was perfectly answered.
This person, who I respect enormously, indicated that what we gain from effective meditation is awareness, clarity and calmness. These are the qualities that you need to carry over into daily life. Wow! Now it all comes together.
Awareness – of self, others and the extended environment is the first step to appreciating our strengths and weaknesses and the influence that we have upon the environment and how we are impacted by that environment. This leads to the next element, clarity.
Clarity – an understanding created by perceiving self and the environment and applying reason to the observations. In this way we begin to chip away at the foundations of our limiting beliefs which determine our subjectivity. And as we neutralize the fear elements of our limiting beliefs which cause us to fear loss ( of property, recognition, adoration) and to defend our turf at all costs and employ judgementalism against everything which lies outside of our turf/comfort zone, we become more sensitive and accepting of others. We judge all the time. But this judging reflects the exercising of opinion based on our subjective world view. The concept of ’judgementalism’ that I refer to above however, is derogatory and denotes the need to put something or someone down because it challenges/threatens one’s subjective world view and is therefore inconvenient. It invariably incorporates other elements designed to aggressively flatten the opposition so that the subjective view point carries – amygdala initiated, adrenaline mediated. Once clarity is achieved we inherit calmness.
Calmness – evolves from a respectful engagement with the environment which has incorporated sensitivity to other individuals, together with a value contribution (making something better than it was before you engaged with it) to other’s as well as to the extended environment. It also feeds on evolving clarity and ongoing awareness.
Well, there’s enough reason then to pause regularly, find a quiet spot, clear the toxic thoughts from your mind, enhance awareness, become more sensitive, gain clarity and calmness and I would, in addition, throw in a generous helping of gratitude.
Copyright reserved – Ian Weinberg 2017