June, 2010

Jun 10

Observations from Practicing Mindfulness

telescopeAfter a couple of weeks of practicing, I have made some observations.

It is really hard to keep my mind focused on something for an extended period of time. And by extended, I mean over a minute.

There are very few moments in my day where I can take 10 minutes and not worry about being interrupted. That is a problem.

Having an agenda going into meditation (for lack of a better term), is not a good idea. Very often I get distracted by the agenda. And the harder I try to ignore the agenda, the harder it is to concentrate on my environment.

When I think about the past, I replay conversations that I had with others quite often.
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Jun 10

The Little Rules of Action

Take a look at this entry from Zen Habits. Leo lists out things that you need to do in order to take action easier.

The first item on the list is to not overthink things. We can get stuck thinking too much and never get to an action.

Number 4 on the list says to not mistake motion for action. Just moving around a lot does not mean that you are taking action. You can be just as stuck mindlessly going through the motions as you are stuck in thinking too much.

The trick is to be deliberate (as number 6 on the list points out). You have to have control over what you are doing. In order to have that control, you have to have control of how you think. How you think consists of when you choose to think and what you choose to think about.

Mindfulness gives you the ability to control when to think and when not to. Mindfulness gives you the ability to control what you think about.

Mindfulness gives you the ability to act.

Jun 10

Quantifying Mindfulness

StopwatchIn a moment, I will ask you to close your eyes. Write down the time before you close them. Attempt to focus on what you feel, smell and hear. You will notice that thoughts pop up in your head from time to time. When they do, just bring your focus back to your senses.

For me, there are two scenarios that occur:

  1. A thought comes into my head and I immediately dismiss it.
  2. I get lost in a thought for a while. I realize that my mind has wandered off and I attempt to bring my focus back to my senses.

Whenever that second scenario happens to you, write that thought down. Just a brief note identifying it is fine. After you have captured that thought, close your eyes again and repeat the process. Stop after you have written down 5 different thoughts. Write the time that you stopped recording.

All right. Are you ready? Close your eyes and focus on your senses. Come back after 5 different thoughts have come up.

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Jun 10

Inductive and Deductive Reasoning

Motorcycle Wheel“Inductive inferences start with observations of the machine and arrive at general conclusions. For example, if the cycle goes over a bump and the engine misfires, and then goes over another bump and the engine misfires, and then goes over another bump and the engine misfires, and then goes over a long smooth stretch of road and there is no misfiring, and then goes over a fourth bump and the engine misfires again, one can logically conclude that the misfiring is caused by the bumps. That is induction: reasoning from particular experiences to general truths.

Deductive inferences do the reverse. They start with general knowledge and predict a specific observation. For example, if, from reading the hierarchy of facts about the machine, the mechanic knows the horn of the cycle is powered exclusively by electricity from the battery, then he can logically infer that if the battery is dead the horn will not work. That is deduction.” – Robert Pirsig, ZMM

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