Finding Inner Calm and Deeper Wisdom

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Archive for the ‘mental acuity’ Category

Using Your Angel Hour

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If you practice Zen meditation and you have reasonable success with it, you can use that skill to put yourself into a special supermind state that I call the “Angel Hour.” It is a state of being awake but where the conscious thinking mind is quiet—or perhaps not thinking at all. This can last anywhere from a few seconds to many minutes.

For me, this often happens during the pre-dawn hours when I’m well rested but awake. Typically, I’ve just had my early morning pee break, and I’m back in bed ready to resume sleeping. I get comfortable, relax the body, and slow the mind.

But because I’m rested, I don’t fall asleep right away. However, I could fall asleep. I’m right at the cusp of falling asleep. And THAT is when my angel hour can begin—if I want it to. If I had previously programmed myself to search for an answer to some question, or if there’s some particular problem weighing on me, that is the time it will come to mind.

The magic of the angel hour is to have that question or problem being somewhere “in mind,” but not necessarily thinking about it. Since the conscious thought machine has been slowed or stopped altogether, other parts of the mind are able to contribute images, feelings, ideas, and other thoughts that don’t require thinking.

English doesn’t exactly have a word for thoughts that don’t require thinking. Sometimes I’ll use the word smattering, which is defined as “superficial piecemeal knowledge of something.” Typically, this happens to me when some part of my mind comes up with a smattering, but at that time (because of the meditative state) that part of the mind doesn’t have access to all the speech, logic, vocabulary, and other thinking parts of the mind. Voila! I have “thought” of something that I otherwise would have never thought of.

Now, coming out of the meditative state, the conscious mind can kick in and consider the smattering that just surfaced from some normally unavailable back corner of the mind. Often, when the rational conscious thinking machine gets hold of it, the smattering will turn out to be a stupid idea. Or impractical. Or just some useless piece of mind fluff.

But sometimes, the smattering will be pure genius.

Quite often, your smatterings will be brilliant ideas. Especially after you get used to using your mind that way. You will discover creativity you didn’t know you had.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

September 8, 2020 at 3:29 pm

What is This Thing Called Wisdom?

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In the last post, we identified two parts in your mind, the Boss and the Thinker. The Boss is the higher you that you would like to have control your mind and body, at least occasionally. The Thinker, of course, is the noisy thinking machine—the conscious thought stream that wants to run your life non-stop.

In a typical modern western mind, the Thinker has taken over complete control, and the Boss is beaten into submission. These are actually like two different people—or two different beings inside you. It’s likely that you hardly know the Boss at all. You live entirely in your Thinker.

But if you’re even modestly successful with your inner development, you have separated and identified both of these inner beings. And you’ve had at least some success being in the Boss state and shutting down the Thinker. At least for a few precious moments now and then.

Shifting between these two states doesn’t mean you’re developing a multiple personality disorder. You’ve just become aware that you can “be” in different areas of your mind at any particular time. That’s actually very healthy, as I’m sure you’ll learn later on.

If you practice Zen meditation, maybe five or six times per week, and if you’re doing it right, over time you’ll learn to slip in and out of the Boss state with relative ease. Then you’ll widen the separation between the two states. You’ll learn how to be in your Boss mode whenever you want, which allows you to be an observer of the Thinker. First, you will learn to do it sitting on your meditation cushion. But later, you’ll be able to do it in a huge variety of other circumstances.

When you get really good, you’ll be able to jump into the Boss mode any time you want and watch the Thinker to see how it is performing. And here’s the real payoff: You (in the Boss mode/Zen state) will be able to coach the Thinker, especially when it’s under pressure, and give it guidance from a higher-level perspective. This is huge. This is an enormous advancement in your inner development.

There are hundreds of examples in everyday life. Here’s one: The lady looked at me with a scowl on her face, and said, “What did you do with all that money?” Uh oh. We’re under attack. My Thinker leaped into action and rapidly began formulating his defense. My Boss pulled on his imaginary reins and gently told the Thinker to relax. Slow down. Keep breathing. Allow the face to have a relaxed smile.

Then Boss gives Thinker some higher-level info it had sensed. Namely, the lady is exhibiting anxiety. She is worried about the new furniture she’s ordered, and she’s worried about how we’re going to pay for it. So relax. Let her speak her piece. But don’t be defensive. That’s not what she wants to hear.

Now the Thinker is more relaxed and having a short break to do its thing (namely, thinking). It responds calmly, “Honey, I used that money to pay off your credit card. The balance is zero, and you can use that card to buy your furniture. Now, would you like another cookie with your tea?”

Okay, that’s a silly example. But I could write a book full of such examples, some not so silly—where the higher level being inside me watches my noisy, short-sighted thinking machine, and coaches it in a variety situations.

Some people call that “wisdom.”

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

March 6, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Increase IQ and Mental Focus

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It’s a common perception that you were born with a certain IQ, and then you simply have to live with it. Not true. You have several ways of increasing your mental acuity, some for short-term gain, and others for long-term. You’ve probably read about some of the long-term methods for increasing your mental powers: Good nutrition, physical activity, mental exercises, new learning challenges, and of course, enough sleep.

All of these methods have been researched, and many new findings recently published. But, the training work that I do is based more on methods that yield short-term improvement, which by the way, supplement and amplify the long-term methods.

The quickest, simplest, and most effective way to increase short-term mental focus is to quiet the mind. It’s just that simple. Here’s why:

A noisy mind is a distracted mind, which has it’s energy and focus going in many directions at once. Get rid of the noise and distractions, focus all your mental energy on one single purpose, and voila! You have achieved a significant, albeit short-term, increase in your IQ. It’s like hitting passing gear in your brain. You simply stop your flow of conscious thought for a short while, restart it focused on one subject, then Shazam!, you will have a short period of power thought.

The more you practice, the sharper your spike in mental energy and focus. And naturally, you’ll have a spike in your short-term IQ, too. What’s even more exciting is that, as you continue practicing this method, you may actually experience a permanent, long-term increase in mental acuity.

I like to call this technique a mental wind sprint. It’s not something I discovered or invented; the idea has been around for a long time, give or take a few thousand years.

Here’s another perk: Not only do mental wind sprints temporarily increase your IQ, they also enhance your creativity. For me, this was a very exciting discovery.

Here’s the way it works: When you quiet the conscious thinking mind completely, even if only for a half minute or so, other parts of your mind have an opportunity to manifest themselves. Sometimes they will project images which—when you later allow the thinking mind to process them—may result in new, exciting, and creative ideas.

Essentially, this is a way of thinking of things that you otherwise might never think of. That, in itself, is the core principle of creativity.

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Please note: Any links that are automatically generated and displayed below are neither selected nor approved by me. –E

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

June 14, 2010 at 12:44 am

What’s the Most Important Thing You Own?

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I like to throw this question out to young people and see what answers I get back. You can imagine what some people say: my car, my iPod, my clothes, or my music collection. A few of the more mature folks might mention things like their home or perhaps their investments.

But after a small amount of discussion, you may quickly realize your most important and possibly your only real possession is your mind. It doesn’t take long to see that everything else you “own” can be taken away from you—even your body.

If you’re in a hospital or a prison, for example, you don’t fully own your body any longer—somebody else is in control of your physical being. In life, there are other forms of confinement and invasions of your bodily freedom, as well. But no matter what other people do, you still own your mind. It’s still yours, to do with as you want. Within your own mind is the only place where you can be truly free.

The inescapable conclusion is that your best and most important possession is your mind. Without that, you don’t have anything. Period. And my question is this: How well do you know how to use your mind? More importantly, do you use it or does it use you?

This work is about becoming the master of your mind and learning how to use it to your best advantage. Most people in western societies have an out-of-control mind. If you can gain essential control of your mind and train it to do what you want, your life will improve immensely. I guarantee it.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

May 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

Enter the Realm of Hyperthought

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When you learn to quiet the conscious thinking machine, that means you have found the mind’s accelerator pedal. This discovery is important and powerful. With practice, you learn that you can easily let off the accelerator and slow the mind down.  You can even stop it at will. And then, you can floorboard it and go into hyperthought.

With this kind of newly found control, you can do interesting and powerful things with your mind. This power has beneficial effects on your ability to comprehend new material and retain more of what you learned. Another side benefit of controlling the mind’s accelerator is that you can perform better under pressure.

Although an automobile engine doesn’t gain any additional power just because it shuts off for a while, your mind most certainly does. An automobile engine is a mechanical device that generates a known amount of power with a given flow of gasoline.

However, your mind is a biological/neurological device many times more complex than an internal combustion engine. The mental power generated by your mind depends on many factors, some of which you have control over, and some you don’t. As you already know, restful sleep and nutrition help get your mind tuned up for high performance. Also, researchers recently learned that aerobic physical exercise actually helps increase mental sharpness and memory function.

In order to tap into using hyperthought, you’ll need to find the accelerator pedal that controls the flow of conscious thought. Slowing down and stopping the flow of thought for a while causes the mind to gather strength. Just like a muscle, the mind builds up a reserve of energy any time it has a brief rest. Then, when you punch the pedal, your mind can kick into unusually energetic activity for a while, giving you increased mental acuity and focus. Your mind not only runs faster but, most importantly, more parts of the mind join in the effort. It’s like adding a couple of cylinders to your engine.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

April 16, 2010 at 10:46 am