Buddhism and Modern Psych Week 2: Mindfulness Meditation and the Brain
In preparation for meditation, the teacher first talks about being mindful — our brains often wander off to random topics. We all do this. While involved in one task, you’re thinking about others. He says that, anecdotally and scientifically, meditation helps to calm and quiet those extraneous thoughts. The first step, as in the first step to realizing dukkha, is simply to realize this is happening.
Walk down the street, and see what you normally pay attention to. Then mindfully pull your attention from that, and see what you’ve been ignoring. Other people, the sky, billboards, building materials of the structures? If you usually are focused on the crowded path, the smelly odors, or the trash on the sidewalk, can you instead look at the expansive sky, notice a happy baby, feel compassion for a downtrodden pedestrian?
This is not directly quieting your mind, as you are still in fact observing life around you. But it helps you to be aware, and helps retrain your mind to new areas.
I always saw my tile counter top as “ugly grey,” but when he said to notice more, I mindfully looked a little deeper, (since I had my computer on the tile while washing dishes as a chore of love!), and I realized they are an intricate pepper-speckling of white and black dots along with various shades of grey (not the steamy book!) There is no solid background color, it’s a detailed pointillism of color! While I still don’t like it in my kitchen, I feel I at least have a bit more appreciation for the confetti-like speckles of the tile. Perhaps I can train myself to think “fiesta!! Party!” every time I see them :)
What other things could I notice in a new light?