Monday, June 20, 2011

Tales: Don't Just Do Something, Sit There! Finding Your "Right" Brain.


......................................you see, meditation is not boring!

It's easy to see how someone might think that sitting in meditation would be a terribly boring thing to do, sitting there, doing nothing. Trying to think of nothing. Trying to think of not thinking. Of course, that thought (like most of them) couldn't be farther from the truth.

When we just sit at first and try not to think, we naturally fail, and so we start thinking of all sorts of things. Everything comes up. Everything. Like: What your father said to you twenty-five years ago. The money your Ex still owes you. That guy who was on Oprah. When will the landlord finally fix that leak upstairs? Things in the Mid East will never get better. Is there an asteroid heading directly for Earth? What are we having for breakfast?
 
That's one of the really great things about just sitting in meditation, thinking about nothing is an endlessly interesting and entertaining thought show, and we have the best seat in the house.

All these different crazy kinds of thoughts occur in a serial fashion, that is, one after the other after the other. One leads haphazardly to the next, sometimes connected by the barest thread that only makes sense right at the moment it connects. A few more turns of the wheel down that road, and you can't even remember how you got there, or why. Because there is no why.

How you got there is simply caused by the incessantly demanding nature of your "thinking organ," your brain, which like some kind of wild, prehistoric shark, insists on relentless movement, the continuous exercise of thought, that overlying process that we often confuse for ourselves. Descartes was a little off on that one, "I think, therefore I am." We are, whether we think – or not.

Thought requires consciousness; Consciousness does not require thought.

"Serial" thought, the kind most of us often find ourselves and our identities tied to, is an apparent function of our Left Brain, the left hemisphere of our thinking organ, which is our serial processor. It's job is to process, process, process in that con-tinuous shark-like motion, joining one thing to the next, relating each significant fact (or not so significant lie) to another. Often, the best we can manage is to discipline our mind to think things that we want to think about. Like to focus our thinking on problems that need solving, say building a bridge, creating a Unified Theory of Everything, or figuring out how to get the TV remote to work. As long as it's something we want to think about – hopefully something productive, or creative, or at least painless.

The simplest form of this discipline is the common self-request, I don't even want to think about it.


When we sit, all we're really trying to do at first is to witness this serial inner monologue, try to wear it down a bit, until it gives in. Or best of all, to side-step it completely. That's the best way to put it, because it describes what the (very appropriately named) Right Side of our brains are doing while all that exhausting thinking is going on. It's functioning concurrently as a parallel processor, connecting everything to everything, simultaneously. Processing our entire sensory experience holistically, with a kind of quantum perception, which for the most part appreciates Life. It's the part of our brain power that gets short shrift because of the sequentially demanding nature of contemporary life, but you're using it every time you find love, beauty, melody, serenity, and joy.

As we sit longer, we try to engage our Right Brain experience, and to live in it for as long as possible. When, in this state, we're collecting beauty, creative energy, and Love in our hearts, suddenly, your serial thoughts no longer have all that urgency. Life can be experienced in a more realistic way when we are in this way less realistic, because we recognize that the moment is always fine, as it is, not full of demanding or threatening "realities." Nothing really needs to happen right at the moment, unless the doorbell rings, your butt is getting wet, or the kitchen is on fire.

This escape from serial thinking, to the Right Side of our brain is a much more pleasant state of affairs, when we can experience a presence for life that's only possible when we give the crazy person in our heads the day off.


In the popular myths of religion, this is the same experience that was reached by Buddha, when Mara the Tempter assaulted him with all the allures and fears of the world (see illust. above); or by Jesus, when he was in the wilderness, and Satan offered to make him the King of Everything.
Neither of them even wanted to think about it.


"What have you gained from meditation?"
"Nothing at all."
"Then what good is it?"
"Let me tell you what I lost through meditation: sickness, anger, depression, insecurity, the burden of old age, the fear of death. That is the good of meditation, which leads to nirvana."
The Buddha

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