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Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation

An exploration of mind and matter, how their interaction influences our experience, and the impact mindfulness meditation can have on our lives.

Mason Hedberg

on 21 June 2011

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Transcript of Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation

In this presentation, we'll analyze the interaction between mind and matter, and how that interaction impacts our experience from day to day, from moment to moment. The interface between mind and matter is physical sensation, which is how information about the world around us is presented to the mind. However, before the conscious mind becomes aware of physcial sensations, some processing is done at the unconcisous level. Let's take a look at what happens... Next we might have which relies on a concept like the Pythagorean Theorum... practical knowledge ...such as triangulation. If we carry on in this way for a few more layers... We get , which are broad statements or beliefs about the world based on a huge amount of experiences, which are simply collections of physical sensations. subjective truths To help keep things straight, here we've labeled grey and black. physical sensations subjective truths Let's now imagine that this triangular structure is like a piece of pizza, having been removed from its pie. If we imagine putting this structure back into its pie... ...we get this. A visual representation of your perspective on the world. Everything you've ever experienced is on the outside border, and the consequential , the way you see the world, is on the inside border. subjective truth So, with this structure for perception in mind, let's revisit the flow chart we started going through. Eventually, our unconscious reactions, as well as conscious thoughts and emotions, motivate us to . act Let's begin with the conscious mind, the level of our actual experience. At this point, aversion and craving have already arisen, contributing to negative thoughts and emotions. Unfortunately, the chain can't be broken here. Reactivity and negative thoughts and emotions are bound to influence our actions: no chain-breaking here. Nothing we can do will change the law of cause and effect in the world: no chain-breaking here either. Suboptimal actions are bound to generate suboptimal events and conditions, which we are bound to take in as physical sensations. Again, the chain of events continues. ...we immediately perceive a suboptimal body state. We still can't break the chain. Finally we arrive at the reaction to the current body state. Here is where the chain can be broken. With mindfulness meditation exercises, we can train the conscious mind to become aware of unconscious reactivity, and replace reactivity with objective observation. Let's see how this affects the flow of events... Objective observation cleanses the mind of aversion and craving. This state of mind is called . Just like before, we begin with physical sensations. And, based upon the conditioning of our past... Sensations are perceived, and a body state is produced unconsciously, representing our internal and external state in this current moment. equanimity The conscious mind, experiencing equanimity, produces positive thoughts and emotions... ...which positively feed back upon the body state. Free from craving, this can positively reinforce the mental state of equanimity. Actions become influenced by selfless and altruistic intentions... ...and according to cause and effect, events and conditions become welcoming and harmonious. Which we receive as physical sensations. In summary, eliminating unconscious reactivity from the mind and replacing it with objective observation liberates a person from the endless cycle of misery and suffering, and brings genuine peace and harmony. Thanks for clicking through Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation For more on mindfulness and vitality, check out my website:
www.thankyouformeditating.com By training the mind through mindfulness meditation techniques, the conscious mind can actually become aware of typically unconscious reactivity. Then, it can choose to observe body states objectively, as they are, free from judgment or reaction. When these two phsycial sensations are enountered toghether, enough times, they become physically connected in the brain... Let's use the formation of language and thought as an example to illustrate where our mind's perception comes from. The first thing the mind encounters at birth is physical sensation... Let's say that this dot represents the physical sensation of the 'mom.' sound While this dot represents the image of the infant's mother's face: the 'mom'. visual ...and a is learned. In this case, the 'mom.' word word In this way, over time, many words are learned. With practice speaking and understanding, words become associated... ...and definitions are refined. Next, we learn , which are not based on physical sensations... ...but instead are based on other words. An example such a word could be the word 'math.' abstract words The next layer we might call , which are things defined by abstract words... complex concepts ...something like the Pythagorean Theorum. Immediately and unconsciously, the mind to the current body state: the conditions of this moment are categorized in terms of liking, disliking, and neutrality. Here we have our five sense organs. The strange looking man is called the 'sensory homunculus,' and is an image of the physical body scaled to the proportions for which the brain dedicates space for processing the 'touch' sensations. As you'd expect, this makes regions with many nerve endings, like the mouth and hands, relatively large. After physical sensations are picked up by the sense organs, they are immediately and unconsciously perceived by the brain. This means they are put into context based upon the entirety of your past experiences. Let's take a closer look at how your brain's perception forms over time... So we have from the outside world... This perception immediately and unconsciously creates a , which represents information about the conditions internal to and external to the body in this current moment. sensations body state ...being , put into context, by the unconscious mind. perceived Here, we encounter a problem. reacts As conditions we dislike persist... And as conditions that we like fail to persist... ...'dislike' can magnify into an intense aversion, which is a very stressful and unpleasant state of mind. ...'like' can become an intense craving, which is also a very stressful and unpleasant state of mind. Neutrality pretty much just stays neutral and passes away, or eventually turns into like or dislike. Clearly, unconscious reactivity poses a problem to the conscious mind... ...which, with concern, is experiencing all this aversion and craving. Here we'll represent the conscious mind as this 'cloud' of and . thoughts emotions Aversion and craving can generate negative and ... thoughts emotions ...which actually can negatively feed back upon the , aggravating any existing aversion or craving, and mentally intesifying the unconscious reaction to the current moment. body state This is the 'motor homunculus,' illustrating the proportions of the brain dedicated to controlling the body's muscles. Here we see the hands are extremely large, for fine control over manipulating our environment. The face and mouth are also exaggerated, for effective verbal and non-verbal communication. The 'BLAH, BLAH, BLAH' is a reminder that our actions can be physical as well as verbal. The world operates according to cause and effect. And as such, selfish and chaotic actions generate isolating and chaotic events and cirumstances. Which is exactly how we generated unpleasant cirstances in the first place. Luckily, there's a way out of this chain of events. Let's take another spin through the flow chart to see which link in this chain can be broken. ...which are perceived and reacted to with aversion. In hopes of avoiding aversion, we end up endlessly striving to acquire the things we crave. Isolating and chaotic events and circumstances become isolating and chaotic ... physical sensations In recognizing, embracing, and living in accordance to the flow of cause and effect between our minds and the material world, we can learn to observe each moment of our lives with equanimity, completely free from aversion and craving. Living mindfully and equanimously allows one to find real compassion, real peace, and real harmony, which is spread effortlessly with every action, verbal or non-verbal. Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation Welcome to By: H. Mason Hedberg Our actions impact the world around us... In this scenario, actions are influenced by reactivity, which incorporates some chaos into them. An intention to relieve aversion or acquire the object of our craving can make it difficult to judge a situation objectively, and produces selfish or unjust actions. ...even if it is just a tiny piece of the world.
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