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Showing posts from July, 2017

Mindfulness and the Search for the Self

In his book, Minding Closely: The Four Applications of Mindfulness, B. Alan Wallace instructs readers to engage in mindfulness meditation as a methodical practice. Now, I'm no mindfulness guru, but I trust that Wallace's instructions accurately reflect the traditional practice of Tibetan mindfulness. In any case, in addition to a philosophical discourse on the foundations of mindfulness that is a bit too anti-materialist for my liking, Wallace lays out a step-by-step guide for hopeful practitioners that is free of "being at one with..." abstractions.

The first titular application that Wallace presents is mindfulness of the body. This involves mindfulness of the breath, which is the foundation of many contemplative practices, and, according to Wallace, is a worthwhile entryway to shamatha, the calming of the mind via a focus on a single aspect of your experience--in this case, your breath. Mindfulness of the body also includes whatever sensations and perceptions might …

Cultural Balms for the Unruly Mind

The fruits of logical thought are undeniable. Its mathematical and astronomical excursions have taken us to the moon. Its physiological and medical incarnations have cured diseases such as smallpox and given robotic limbs to individuals who had lost theirs. Its philosophical and scientific ruminations have brought us closer to understanding the origins of the universe in the Big Bang and the origins of mankind in the savannas of Africa.

The less linear, more intuitive and fast-paced mode of information processing is the counterpoint to logical thought. It is more “hot.” It encompasses not one, but many competing interests, all vying for control of one’s goals, attitudes, and behaviors. So influential is this subterranean world of heuristics and emotions that even the logical stream falls prey to its bias.

The problem, as discovered by Dr. Henry Jekyll, is reconciliation. Owing to the multitude of programs and sub-programs populating our modular minds, it is often difficult to find corre…