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I was going to name this post something like “The Black Hole of Limited Attention” or something to that affect, but I decided to try to emphasize the solution, not the problem.  Although problems are only problems because we judge them to be so. So…

I’m sure I’m not alone in the feeling I can never get enough.  In this situation, I am taking about enough mental stimulation, not necessarily material goods or love and attention from others, but I think they follow a similar logic.  My mind just seeks constant new input. I’ve noticed especially with using Twitter, and developing skimming as a study strategy, and even some elements of my love of travel, all derive from this mind that is just constantly seeking something new, something to chew on, something to play with, to analyze, even just to ignore. Just something to do. Almost any information will do.

I think that eating too much, shopping too much, nailbiting, etc, all are in some way related to this need for constant stimulation. I always have to be doing something. When I’m on the internet it just starts with one click, next thing I know there’s 10 minutes gone by, and I’m certainly the smarter for it but not necessarily the wiser. Though I am the wiser, in realizing how pointless and repetitive and reductive most content is and how I’m wasting my time. And then I start to write, which is definitely a productive activity and I find very much nourishing, it helps me do something with the sea of words inside me and gives me the audience I feel like I deserve at least the chance to attract. Especially after reading all that garbage that’s “published” on the internet newsy sites and such.  [The one major exception is reading other people’s blogs, which actually have original content and make me feel like there are other human beings out there, always a good thing. I would say a lot of blogs just put out better more interesting content than a lot of what I see on the web]

I think even all our emotional freakouts can go into the category of seeking stimulation. If the mind is blank, it’s time to waste precious hours of your life ruminating about all your secret fears, fixating on the small stuff, and just in general wasting the time God has given you. It has been noted that sometimes people create drama because they are bored, and I’m sure that there is something to that. If you are busy doing something meaningful, it’s just generally harder to go out of your way to sabotage yourself.

I do a lot of wondering about the meaning of life and stuff, and while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a thoughtful person, and I do think I make some progress on this question every once in a while, I’m realizing that some of the existential dillemma just comes in order to fill the mind. Not always, but sometimes.

And what is the seeking mind but a distraction from your emotions, from your duties, from the truth you have inside you but don’t/won’t hear because you are too busy digging in minutiae for buried treasure. All of creation might be revealed in a grain of sand, and sure, go ahead and contemplate that grain in wonder. But don’t count the grains of sand because you have nothing better to do, and would rather do a worthless task than be still.

I am so guilty of this. I open up a cabinet, think of something else, and then only later realize the cabinet is still open and I didn’t do what I set out to do. Similarly, I easily see something I wanted to do but doesn’t take many brain clls so I start crusing the interwebs instead. Or I make my life harder by procrastinating because it’s just so boring otherwise.

BORING IS GOOD!  Slow and steady is not bad. Constantly stimulation, constant novelty, is an addiction like any drug. Seeking sensory or mental overload as a distraction from, idk the empty mind is keeping you from peace. You will not have peace from unriddling your riddle. You will have peace if you can put it to the side for the moment and riddle it later. I’m not saying it’s bad to think thoroughly through things and give them your full attention. But decide if it’s a riddle worth solving, or if you would be better served by being silent.

Silence in the mind is a wonderful thing. I fully believe it lets God in, and it gives us the clean slate we need to start from a healthy, strong place. Our mental machinery wasn’t meant to spin for nothing- so much of what we feed into it is busywork. Why? Because we can’t stand the silence within, or because we don’t even know it’s there? Because we think we need to solve this dillemma in order to have peace, not realizing that peace and calm are not the lack of problems, they are states of mind in themselves? States of mind which are unattainable when you are too busy being distracted and stimulated and trying to consume more, more, more information, entertainment, food, drama, Angry Birds, etc?

So let’s give ourselves a little rest. Let’s be silent and give God a chance to speak. Let’s not stop ourselves from Enlightenment because we can’t stand even for a second a blank mental screen. Most of all, let’s realize peace is within- we are never going to find it anywhere else, and it’s always there for the asking.

And you know that problem you are trying to solve, to gather information, to contemplate? will it really make you better of if you solve it right now? Will your frantic activities and mental calculations do it any good, or do you just need to wait and see what happens next?

Freedom is in the mind, at least to a certain extent. No matter how free you are on the outside, even if you still aren’t addicted to money, power, food, fame, sex, drugs, or rock and roll, you still need to let go and power down the internal CPU for a second. Just let your mind hibernating, and you know, concentrating on what you are doing NOW. Let that mental supercomputer do its best work- the work you are doing as you speak. Stay here, don’t let your mind wander like a lost dog you have to keep going looking for. There are better ways to get exercise.  And remember:

“When someone is seeking,” said Siddartha, “It happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“Slowly blossomed, slowly ripened in Siddhartha the realisation, the knowledge, what wisdom actually was, what the goal of his long search was. It was nothing but a readiness of the soul, an ability, a secret art, to think every moment, while living his life, the thought of oneness, to be able to feel and inhale the oneness.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I do love Hermann Hesse. And think of all the REAL tasks that go undone and the people neglected when we are busy doing binge eating of the mind. No, you don’t need to be constantly barraged with information. Let the twitter go, just for a moment. Put your phone down. Breathe. Now Breathe again. That’s all you’ve really got to do anyway, to survive I guess.

Ok, I’m going to try to give my seeking mind some rest. i’m going to try to let my seeking now sleepy mind find whatever is under its nose after all.

Ttfn (ta ta for now),

MJ

 

“Slowly blossomed, slowly ripened in Siddhartha the realisation, the knowledge, what wisdom actually was, what the goal of his long search was. It was nothing but a readiness of the soul, an ability, a secret art, to think every moment, while living his life, the thought of oneness, to be able to feel and inhale the oneness.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

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