June, 2011

Jun 11


For as long as I can remember, I have studied people.

I try to guess at what people are thinking. I try to understand what drives them to do what they do.

What does their body language say about their personality? Are they the most powerful one in the group? Why is that guy feeling that way? And all kinds of other questions …

After a while of doing all this observing, I end up identifying character traits that I like (and ones that I don’t).

Recently, I have noticed that some of the character traits that I admire all can be categorized under the term integrity.

It is an ambiguous word. Stanford has a long article describing 8 different ways one could define it. Self-integration, identity, standing up for something, moral purpose, virtue, intellectual, artistic, etc.

The first interpretation speaks to me the most: integrity is “keeping the self intact and uncorrupted” through “strength of will”. Keeping the self uncorrupted reminds me of the purification of the mind that I talked about in this post.

Simplicity. Efficiency. Occam’s Razor. … Integrity.

I see integrity in scientists I admire.

They stick to the principles of rationality and science. It may be easier for them to let doubts or worries influence their judgement away from reality, but through strength of will, they fight the temptations.

They follow the rules of logic and rational thought in the attempt to achieve a full understanding of reality.

Jun 11

Ending Meditation

I have stopped meditating after three months of daily sessions.

I meditated for 5 minutes each day during the first two weeks. I increased the time to 10 minutes and I kept that up for a month and a half. Then, I tried to increase the time to 20 minutes, but that did not last long. After about 4 days, I went down to 15 minutes and stayed that way until I stopped meditating altogether.

For the past two weeks, I was just not feeling it. The log I was keeping showed that too.

I rated each session with a number 0 through 5. 0 meant that the session was awful. 5 meant that the session was excellent. I based my rating simply on the feeling that I had about it a few minutes afterwards.

The first two months, I had a weekly average of 1.43 or higher. That means that my sessions, on average, were decent to good. Sometimes I had an excellent feeling about meditating that day. Some days I felt like the session was awful. But on average, they were all pretty good.

But in the last month, the average dropped down to 1.29, 1.00, 0.71 and finally 0.43. They were trending towards awful.

I believe that the routine of doing it everyday for a set time made meditating boring. I was too consistent. So, I stopped.

My overall goal was to remove as much delusion as I could by studying my mental activities. I did not remove any delusion, but I definitely studied my mental activities.

I came up with a list of guidelines for myself while meditating that have carried over to my normal life. With the most enlightening rule being “Don’t reject anything”.

I reject a countless number of thoughts. I was very surprised to realize that. And I am still surprised at times when I realize that I am immediately rejecting some other new thought.

I would say that realization falls under the “insight” category. I definitely felt that sense of distance that I mentioned in my “attitude” goal. Unfortunately, I did not improve my “attention” very much.

I learned a lot. Meditating really gave me a different perspective on everything.

I am going to try to continue to recognize thoughts that I reject. I am going to try to continue to feel that sense of space between thoughts.

And I suspect that this will not be the last time I meditate.

Jun 11

Science and Beauty

Beauty and Science

xkcd's take on beauty and science

Jun 11

Traffic Again

I guess I do a lot of thinking while I am in traffic, so that is why I write about it so often. Today, I had a good experience with it.

I was sitting in traffic this afternoon and a lesson from meditation came to me. I realized that I was not fully understanding where I was because I was attempting to reject the situation.

It is hard for me to describe the meaning of “fully understanding where I was”. I have heard mindfulness/meditation experts talk about fully being in the present moment. But I am now just beginning to understand what they mean.

Once I recognized my immediate rejection of the fact that I was sitting in traffic, I was able to visualize the situation without my immediate rejection.

I had a more objective point of view. And it was a pleasant feeling. I felt empowered.

I started noticing what color the cars were in front of me. I saw how the leaves on the trees were a deeper green because there were dark clouds above.

At that point, I felt like I had a choice between sitting in traffic feeling upset or sitting in traffic trying to reach a better understanding of everything.

That distance is showing up in my everyday life.