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Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation Long

An exploration of the interaction between mind and matter, how it impacts our experience, as well as the role of mindfulness meditation in lubricating the whole process.
by

Mason Hedberg

on 27 May 2011

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Transcript of Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation Long

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 phsycial 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 this way, 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 real harmony, real peace. Thanks for clicking through Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation For more info on mindfulness meditation and other positive lifestyles 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. Our actions impact the world around us. In this case, actions are influenced by reactivity, which will make them somewhat chaotic. A conscious intent to relieve aversion or craving also influences these actions, which will give them a selfish nature. The world operates according to cause and effect. And as such, selfish and chaotic actions generate isolating and chaotic events and cirumstances. From this analysis it might seem that we are hopelessly trapped in a cycle of misery and suffering. 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. This sends us on an endless pursuit to acquire the things we crave. Isolating and chaotic events and circumstances become isolating and chaotic ... physical sensations I'd like to try and clarify what exactly is, and how it can be practiced, with a personal experience. equanimity So there I was, sitting in meditation... * ...working to cultivate a refined awareness of every physical sensation I can detect from my body. After some time, a tiny piece of lint alights upon the tip of my nose... ...and produces a subtle tickling sensation. Based on my past experiences, I immediately perceive this tickling sensation as being caused by some nature of lint. This event slightly disrupts the calm and peaceful body state that had been brought on by my meditation... ...and I react with aversion to this unexpected change in circumstances. Now my conscious mind thinks, 'this lint is distracting me from my meditation.' Which aggravates my disturbed body state, and intensifies my aversion to the lint... ...to the extent that I consider moving my hand and arm to brush the lint off of my nose. However, I happen to be at a 10-day meditation retreat, and have been working to understand equanimity and observe my sensations, perceptions, and body states with objectivity rather than with reactivity. So with equanimity in mind, I realize that this lint on my nose is ultimately impermanent, and that eventually, 'this too shall pass.' I'm able to accept and be at peace with the nature of this present moment as it is, rather than how I'd like it to be. My reactivity vanishes, and I'm able to observe my slightly disturbed body state with a calm and peaceful state of mind. Smilingly it occurs to me, 'hey, this piece of lint kinda tickles.' In total accceptance of and complete harmony with this current moment, my body state once again becomes calm and peaceful, and I continue meditating with a new hitch-hiker on my nose. I experienced all of this within less than one second, which illustrates the rapidity in which our thoughts, emotions, reactions, and perceptions arise and fall away. They arise and fall away each moment in response to a constantly changing flow of physical sensations, physical sensations that represent a constantly changing physical world that we find ourselves within. In recognizing, embracing, and living in accordance to the change always happening around us and within us, 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. In time, the lint was no longer present, a characteristic it shares with every material object, physical sensation, and mental phenomenon in the universe. Mind Mechanics: Misery and Liberation Welcome to By: H. Mason Hedberg So, what is this that holds the key to liberation from suffering and misery? mindfulness Mindfulness is being aware of the entire flow of events as it occurs from moment to moment, and working to maintain an objective, equanimous perspective as often as possible. This requires cultivation of self-regulated attention and depth of awareness through meditation techniques. By training the mind to focus attention upon a single physical sensation, such as one caused by air moving into and out of the nose, as in breath awareness meditation... ...we can cultivate awareness of all of our physical sensations in any moment, the subsequent perceptions, and body states, so when we get here, we have the ability to choose to view the current moment with equanimity, a skill which is also cultivated using meditation techniques. Over time, cultivating and choosing equanimity has a massive positive influence on our lives internally and experientially, as well as physically and externally.
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