Sunday 15 September 2013

#399 Letting Go of Soil - the Jar of Soil & Water Metaphor - Part 2

     Continuing with the jar of soil & water metaphor of #398, sitting meditation practice shows us that we're so used to thinking about something that we actually feel one with or identified with thoughts ("cognitive fusion"). It's as if the clear water didn't exist, only the soil. Thoughts ("objects of mind" - bits of soil) seem sticky, some much more so than others eg the memory of someone insulting us; or catastrophizing about an upcoming interview or medical appointment. Our entire world can become this one story (single particle of soil) for days, weeks or even longer, while our day-to-day affairs are managed "on autopilot."
      Another discovery we make in meditation is that our thinking is mostly about the past ("the good - or bad - old days") or future (wishing or anxiety). This is despite the practical fact that the present requires our full attention. ALSO experience and now science shows that stable awareness of what's going on in the present moment feels  good - much better than being off in the past or future. Our quality of life is at its highest when we are whole-heartedly engaged in the present for prolonged periods of time eg being with a beloved person or pet, "wrapped-up" in a great movie, doing our hobby, participating in an exciting (even extreme) sport, etc.
     The soil particles are in motion - either being stirred up or settling down, while water is at rest. When we're present, mindful, we have the perspective of clear still water & observe the particles (thoughts) floating by without attaching to (identifying with) them. Training allows this to happen with increasing ease, consistency and stability. Sticking to particles going by is a habit. Noticing & repeatedly letting go of this old mental habit ("cognitive defusion"), replaces it with a new mental habit - mindfulness. This is the predictable, scientifically-proven effect of mental training that rewires the brain, creating new connections and new brain cells (neuroplasticity). 
     Gradually we come to feel at home in clarity (clear water), without habitually clinging to the (mud particles of the) past or future, resting joyfully in the constantly changing fascinating challenging present moment

Kentville, Nova Scotia

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