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Mindfulness Makes a Better Person

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We all want to become a better person.

Right? Well, perhaps I should say most of us want to be better people. It seems clear to me that people who read my stuff must be motivated by self-improvement. The topic on my mind toMeditatorInTwoPieceday is exactly how Mindfulness can make you a better person.

First, a simple and accurate definition: Mindfulness is learning to become an observer of your own thoughts and feelings. Many people who want to learn meditation, start first by sitting in a meditation position with a pad and pencil by their side. And then stopping now and then to record what is going through their mind.

Most people rarely stop to think about what they’re thinking about. And then, also rarely, to ask themselves why am I thinking about that. This is a very important step in learning to control your mind—instead of letting it control you. Of course, the next step beyond Mindfulness is learning to stop the mind, which is the very definition of the Zen meditative state.

So how does this make you a better person? Easy. By observing your own thoughts (which is accomplished at a “higher” place in your mind), you can actually witness your own beliefs and values in operation. That higher place in your mind is often free from much of the judgment and indoctrination by belief systems that control what you think, say, and do. Mindfulness permits the practitioner to think free–at least for a short while. Mindfulness gives your mind an opportunity like a breath of fresh air.

So many of us are not aware how strongly we were indoctrinated. We were “trained” by parents, teachers, preachers, and mentors. All of them authority figures who instilled our values and beliefs. We didn’t have much of a choice then. And now, you are at the mercy of the beliefs of all those people. But wouldn’t you like the opportunity to step back and examine for yourself the basis of all your values and beliefs? Wouldn’t you like to have a say in what kind of person you are? And don’t you want to become a better person as a result?

Get a cushion to sit on and a writing pad for making notes. Go to a quiet place, sit on the cushion, and watch that mind of yours. Just let it run free, and see what comes out.

 

 

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

December 20, 2017 at 3:05 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

Pretend You’re Going To Die Tomorrow

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It’ll give you a new and interesting outlook on life. Ask anybody who’s faced death. Ask anybody who has looked the Grim Reaper right squarely in his black, beady little eyes. Things change. Money doesn’t matter any more. Your house, your car, all your toys—they don’t mean a damn thing. It’s all just stuff. You can’t take stuff with you when you go.

What is important are the people you love. The people who love you. The relationships you’ve developed. The inner development you’ve accomplished during this life. But there might be something even more important—more meaningful—as you draw your last few breaths: Forward vision into what happens next.

One of the possible rewards of a long-term practice of Zen meditation is receiving enlightening knowledge that provides a wider view of the Universe. One can receive the knowledge and the resultant understanding of his spiritual being as an indestructible energy form.

Discovering your own self-nature is an extraordinary gift. That knowledge allows you to live life on a higher plane than ordinary human existence. With apologies to my religious friends, that knowledge lets you walk through this life in a somewhat god-like state. That knowledge reveals this life as just one chapter in a much greater drama. Of course, that knowledge lets you smile in the face of physical death.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

July 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

Using Zen to Make Difficult Decisions

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Why and how can my Zen practice help me make difficult decisions? This is a real easy question to answer. It’s a no-brainer. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write one of my shortest blog entries ever.

Zen meditation is all about shutting down the conscious, thinking mind. When that happens, no thought occurs. But the rest of the whole mind can be just as active as ever—or even more active. Thus, with the noisy thought machine not hogging the stage, the whole mind (aka the “supermind”) is sometimes able to create images that come from other resources normally kept “behind the scene.” Voila! These other images often contain a special form of knowledge that I call true wisdom.

Among the most important resources of your deeper, non-conscious mind are your intrinsic values. They are the basic guidelines built into your core being that tell you what is really important in your life. Normally they are covered up by all the noise from your conscious mind. Only when the conscious mind is stilled can you access your core values.

Here’s how you use Zen to make a tough decision: Relax. Think about the decision and all the factors surrounding that decision. Now meditate. With the thought machine stopped, a clear answer based on your intrinsic value may pop into view. If not, repeat these three steps.

One caveat: If you don’t have an already-established practice of Zen meditation, this suggestion is unlikely to work. Establish your practice now, when you don’t need it. Don’t try to start a meditation practice when you’re being marched to the gallows.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

May 24, 2014 at 10:36 am