May, 2011

May 11

Meditation and Mindfulness, Naturally

I have been talking about meditation a lot recently. I want to make sure that I don’t lose sight of the difference between meditation and mindfulness. I have slightly modified my previous opinion on when to use each word.

Meditation (at least the kind that I practice) is when you sit still and concentrate on your breath. It is concentrated mindfulness.

Mindfulness is when you think of nothing other than the present moment. The color of the sky. The way your body is positioned. The smell of dinner cooking. Et cetera.

I have found that I am more mindful immediately after meditating. But you don’t have to meditate in order to be mindful. It is just good practice.

I think it is safe to say that meditation is not something that would naturally occur to someone. A person sitting down and doing nothing but thinking about his or her breath for long periods of time is not a person in their natural state.

Mindfulness is a different story. I have not determined if it is a natural thing to do or not. It does not come naturally to me. It could be because mindfulness just doesn’t come natural to anyone, but I doubt that. More than likely, I have built up years of habits in my thoughts that keep me away from mindfulness.

What does a child do? From what I can tell, they observe everything with a complete sense of wonder. They are less likely to be filled with worries about the future or to reminisce about the past. They seem to live in the present moment. But at the same time, a child is filled with imagination. Their minds are off in distant lands, flying in the sky, or riding ponies (or whatever it is they think of).

So, I am going to say that meditation is definitely not a natural thing to do. Mindfulness is natural but it is not the only way to think. Like most everything, there is a balance.

You need mindfulness in your life, just not all the time.

May 11

A Snake Under My Feet

While meditating today, I imagined that a snake slithered under my feet. I imagined myself getting up and stomping on its head.

I knew that I was just imagining the whole scenario. It was a distant picture in my head.

But I still felt a slight bit of fear from the thoughts that I had. The fear did not come from the potential of a snake actually moving under my feet. It only came from those pictures I had in my head.

My thoughts had manufactured emotions in me.

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May 11

Hasty Generalization

Here is another fallacy that can show up easily in everyday life.

When one commits the Hasty Generalization fallacy, one attempts to use inductive logic with too small a sample size.

What in the world does that mean? Well, I am glad that you asked.

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May 11


A few days ago, I sat down to meditate. Before I began, I thought about the 5 guidelines for my attitude while meditating.

Don’t expect, force, cling, or reject anything. And don’t think while you are at it.

I was meditating outside that day. Half way through my 10 minute session, the sun came out from behind the clouds. My eyes were closed, but I saw the sunlight through my eyelids. Most importantly, I felt the warmth of the sun on my face.

I thought about how nice the sun felt. Immediately after that feeling, I wished that it would stay like that for the rest of my meditation time.

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May 11

We Don’t Read That Trash

I came across a great example of a logical fallacy over at the good ol’ wikipedia:

We don’t read that trash. People who read that trash don’t appreciate real literature. Therefore, we appreciate real literature.

Usually, examples of logical reasoning do not show how they can be applied to everyday life.

  1. All men are mortal
  2. Socrates is a man
  3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal


  1. No fish are dogs
  2. No dogs can fly
  3. Therefore, all fish can fly

I can imagine someone new to the formal study of logic coming across this and thinking to themselves that syllogisms are only good for categorizing animal abilities or making completely obvious statements.

But that first example seems applicable to real life. How many times have you heard people try to separate themselves from one group in order to belong to some other group?