January, 2010

Jan 10

Omit Needless Things

In the post that I wrote a few weeks ago about coming up for air, I asked “How can I not concentrate on something as simple and fundamental as my own breath?”

In the time between that post and now, I have not really changed my routine all that much.  I go about my day, rushing from place to place, trying to finish tasks at work or complete chores at home.  But now I stop and ask myself that question. What is it that is keeping me from being mindful of my own breathing?  Or in other words, what is it that is keeping me from being able to focus on what I want to focus on?

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Jan 10

The False Choice vs. The Strawman


The other night, I saw a commercial on TV claiming that their product could stop the balding process and enable you to start growing your original hair back.

The commercial was not any different from the hundreds of other ads peddling hair products for men.  I attempt to ignore most commercials when they come on.  But there was a certain line in the commercial that caught my attention.  They asked:  “Do you want to have a full, healthy head of hair when you grow old or do you want to lose it all, just to be a bald, old man?”

Now, come on.  What kind of question was that?  Who would ever pick the latter option?  Obviously, no one would.  So, why did the advertisers choose to ask it?  I asked myself the same question again, but in a different context:  What kind of question was that?  Was it a false choice, was it a strawman or something else entirely?

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Jan 10

Mindfulness as Mental Discipline


I have read many different descriptions of mindfulness. It can be described by explaining how to actually implement the concept (Mindfulness in Plain English).  Or by using an example of when one was in that kind of state and what the experience was like (I partially did that here).  Or how it changes your overall mental state (mental readiness).  But one way that I have found people describing it has made an impression on me.  Mindfulness is not just focusing on your breathing. And it is not just getting to a state of mental readiness.  Mindfulness is the act of practicing mental discipline.

You practice mindfulness by focusing on the present moment.  You pay attention to as much detailed information that you can get from your senses.  When you find your thoughts drifting to memories, future scenarios or other types of thinking, you gently bring your attention back to your senses.  Your mind will continue to drift. And you continue to steer it back to the present moment.  That is all there is to it.
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Jan 10

Coming Up for Air

Coming up for airHow does one actually practice mindfulness?  Being in the present moment.  Your attention must be focused on exactly what is happening right now.  This means that the processing of the input from your senses takes up all your conscious thought.  Your mind is filled with what you see, hear, feel, taste and smell.

Unfortunately, I have been biased against the phrase “the present moment” for a long time.  Whenever, I heard someone talk about focusing on “the now”, I have always dismissed them.  I have been that way because the times that I have heard people talking about the present moment, they usually follow it up with new age speak concerning energy flowing through your chakra points, or something like that.
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