Mindfulness is attentiveness. Mindfulness brings clarity to what one perceives. The basic approach is:
When you look at the profile of a stranger you see only one ear, but you assume another ear because “all man have two ears.” The chances are slim but this stranger may have only one ear. Most people make such assumptions automatically, but some are aware.
When there are doubts and perplexities, one should look at them closely with mindfulness. In other words, one should consider them non-judgmentally without assuming anything. All ideas, beliefs, assumptions, viewpoints, and feelings related to observed anomaly, are subject to critical examination.
No past ideas and learning in the area of doubt and perplexity are sacrosanct.
The Discipline of Mindfulness allows the mind to function naturally. Under this discipline one does not avoid, resist, suppress, deny or interfere with any activity of the mind. Creativity simply grows out of the natural activity of the mind as it perceives situations.
The following factors are fundamental to the discipline of mindfulness.
Once the discipline of mindfulness is established discernment occurs in leaps and bounds.
The discipline of mindfulness is manifested in the following ways..
Mindfulness is fundamental to all scientific observations, meditation, prayers, and all forms of spiritual practice.
To some degree this chaotic condition is being stimulated by “reminders” in the environment. Attending meditation classes or going on vacations serves to calm the mind because the disturbing environment is put in abeyance. But that is a temporary fix only. When a person returns to his usual environment the chaotic condition gets activated again.
Permanent solution to the chaotic condition requires accessing the unassimilated experiences and assimilating them in the mind. The following factors are fundamental to bring about this assimilation.
The chaotic condition of the mind calms down permanently as this assimilation takes place.
The calming of the mind depends on accessing and assimilating all experiences.
Mental shocks are the root cause of a chaotic mind. When shock enters the mind attention gets scattered. As a result all discernment is gone and mental chaos ensues. Attention is the first casualty that brings about the chaotic condition of the mind. The function of attention is to bring discernment to what is perceived.
In other words, attention refines perception into perceptual elements for assimilation in the mental matrix. Absence of assimilation generates mental chaos. Presence of mental chaos means scattered attention.
Rehabilitation of attention is the vital first step in the handling of mental chaos.
Ddiscipline is needed to rehabilitation attention. Attention got scattered because a shock interfered with attention. Attention remains scattered when the interference continues. Interference needs to be reined in so attention can rehabilitate. The discipline that helps rein in interference is called mindfulness.
Under this discipline a person does not avoid, resist, suppress, deny or interfere with attention. This allows free association that rehabilitates attention, allows refinement of perception, and brings about assimilation of perceptual elements.
The discipline of mindfulness thus allows attention to regroup. The moment that happens unassimilated experiences start to line up to be resolved. Attention then brings discernment to properly assimilate these experiences. With assimilation comes relief from mental chaos.
The discipline of Mindfulness makes it possible for the attention to rehabilitate itself and bring about the assimilation needed to reduce mental chaos.
The person may find that his need to defend his beliefs comes up first. These are justifications that give him the reason to be the way he is. Since he is not happy in his present condition he must pay close attention to these justifications.
As the person examines these justifications under the discipline of mindfulness, he lets himself experience the need to defend himself without avoiding, resisting, suppressing, denying or otherwise interfering with it. This allows free association to take place. Consequently, assimilation comes about, and the need to defend oneself with that justification disappears. This is followed by relief.
One after another such justifications may appear and disappear under the discipline of mindfulness. Over time the person may feel considerable relief. The chaos in the mind lessens, and it becomes easier to address deeper justifications. This may go on for days and weeks.
The first things to clear up are the justifications that the person uses to defend his condition and the way he is.
As justifications are cleared up the anomalies start to show up. This includes discontinuities, or things that don’t make sense. Also included are disharmonies, or conflicts that are making life miserable. The person starts to acknowledge their presence, whereas, he was ignoring them before. Anomalies also include inconsistencies that were not real to him before but now he sees them.
These anomalies make him uncomfortable, but he has greater attention available now to address them. As he examines them closely under the discipline of mindfulness, he experiences the discomfort. As he continues to examine them the discomfort starts to disappear. The anomalies disintegrate and get assimilated as free association takes place.
As anomalies get sorted out the person feels great relief. He may start to realize some of the aspects of the underlying unassimilated node. He is getting close to accessing the shocking experience which started his mental chaos.
The next things to clear up are anomalies, which the person has been avoiding most of his life by running after distractions.
Evidently, introverting the attention forcefully, or by trickery, to get to unassimilated nodes, as in earlier methods, only makes the situation worse by stirring up the mind. The mindfulness approach works because it lets the mind unwind naturally.
As the person continues to examine the anomalies, the unassimilated node may come quite suddenly. The person may feel its “shock” but it is never as extreme as the original shock. As that long forgotten shocking experience is finally assimilated, he feels a tremendous relief.
Fortunately, there are not that many unassimilated nodes. After all the hard work that went earlier, these unassimilated nodes are easy to clear up. The person now feels cheerful and greatly motivated.
It now becomes a second nature for him to clear up other justifications, anomalies, confusions, misunderstandings etc., as they come up to his attention.
The person now gives up his various distractions and gets busy with his long cherished goals. Life becomes very worthwhile for him. He is very happy.
The final things to clear up are the shocking experiences, which got buried in the person’s mind as unassimilated nodes.
Sometimes mental conditioning is so strong that a person cannot even ground one’s attention to look at the simplest of justifications. In such cases, the person should simply focus attention on physical perceptions of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste to build it up. Exercises shall be provided later for this purpose.
Any method used to handle the mind must never suggest anything, since that can have hypnotic effects. The method should simply focus on assimilating what already exists in the mind. In the present method the focusing of attention means, “Narrowing down of target”. It starts broad and narrows down quickly to what needs to be assimilated at that moment.
One applies this method process in small steps so the progress is smooth without much effort. It is always okay to consult a dictionary, encyclopedia or Wikipedia, to get missing information to handle confusion. This applies especially to meaning of words, symbols and concepts.
One should be alert for any kind of avoidance, resistance, suppression or denial within oneself. He should examine that area at the earliest opportunity under the discipline of mindfulness. The handling could be as simple as letting one’s conscious thinking be in sync with free association. This may go a long way in reducing stress in the mind.
It is important not to interfere with free association. One may get lost in thoughts, become oblivious and even doze off during this process but the free association continues regardless. So let these manifestations take place. One will wake up sooner or later feeling quite refreshed.
Unassimilated nodes are resolved by carefully observing sensations, emotions and thoughts in the order they come up. They will appear dissociated with the surrounding context. As one holds these sensations, emotions and thoughts closely in one’s mind, and lets the free association occur, the dissociations start to resolve and ultimately vanish.
It is to be noted that the pain, discomfort and confusion may at first increase as one focuses on them, but as one willingly experiences them; they start to resolve into finer elements and assimilate into the mental matrix.
Unassimilated experiences resolve quickly as one re-experiences them willingly.
This chapter explains how the mental chaos may be addresses and resolved in steps. The subsequent chapters shall provide exercises to help one along with this process.
The mind continually receives perceptions from the environment. These perceptions get refined into perceptual elements and get assimilated into an orderly mental matrix.
The refinement into perceptual elements comes about when attention is focused on the perception. Attention discriminates the perceptual elements within the perception. This makes finer understanding possible.
The attention refines perception into finer elements. The finer are these elements the greater is the possible understanding.
The assimilation of perceptual elements into the mental matrix takes place through natural free association that maintains continuity, harmony and consistency throughout the mental matrix. The wider is the assimilation, the more objective is the understanding.
Free association assimilates perceptual elements in the mental matrix. The wider is the context of assimilation the more objective is the understanding.
Human thought adds creative associations to the mental matrix, but it is careful to maintain the state of continuity, harmony and consistency. By its creativity, the human thought often triggers deep intuition that brings about leaps in evolution of thought.
Human thought operates in sync with free association to maintain continuity, harmony and consistency throughout the mental matrix.
A condition of mental chaos exists in the mind when it is unable to assimilate its content. This chaos disperses the attention, and brings considerable discomfort to the mind. The mind then tries to avoid, resist, suppress and deny its condition.
Thus, unattended, this mental chaos forms the basis of all mental disorders and psychosomatic illnesses. Even when there is no mental disorder, the chaotic condition of the mind itself acts as a disorder.
The unassimilated content starts as a mental shock, and then it mushrooms into anomalies and justifications, which get ignored. Ultimately, it results in mental conditioning, which strait-jackets the thinking of the person.
The chaotic condition in the mind exists because it is unable to assimilate its content.
The mental chaos starts when the mind fails to assimilate certain experiences. The common denominator of such experiences is shock. Here is an example of such a shock.
A child fell into the pool and almost drowned. He was extremely shaken up with that painful experience. Now he has grown up. He may have a general idea of near drowning once, but the details of that severe shock are unavailable to him. He feels very fearful whenever he is near a pool. He gets nauseated at the smell of chlorine. He hates swimming. No logic can resolve his irrational reactions to water.
The shock could come to the physical system as in the example above. It could also be a heavy loss that affects the emotional system, such as, the loss of a loved one. The shock may take the form of a highly stressful situation that messes up the thought process, such as, the shock resulting in PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).
Perceptions containing shock do not get refined and assimilated because they scatter attention. They lodge themselves in the mental matrix as unassimilated nodes. In future, whenever attention is placed on unassimilated nodes it gets scattered again. So these nodes are difficult to assimilate in the mental matrix.
The chaotic condition starts with the experience of a mental shock, which does not get assimilated in the mental matrix
The unassimilated nodes bury themselves under the anomalies they generate. These anomalies further add to the mental chaos. The anomalies are made up of discontinuities, disharmonies and inconsistencies. They may be described as follows
Even though the awareness of anomalies can lead back to the discovery of unassimilated nodes, most people do not have the discipline to do so. They succumb to the anomalies and start to justify their actions.
The chaotic mind then generates anomalies, which, in the absence of discipline, get justified
Justifications lead a person into a downward spiral. The person starts to avoid, resist, suppress and deny many areas of life. He distracts himself by engaging in less responsible activities. He spends more time entertaining himself to “forget his woes”. He tries to give himself some boost through drugs and sex, but then becomes dependent on them. He ends up justifying those behaviors too. And so he keeps going downhill. The mental chaos continues to increase.
The justifications lead a person into a downward spiral of degradation.
Over time the person comes to believe in his own justifications. He also comes to accept the chaotic state of his mind as normal. The unassimilated nodes and the anomalies have long receded to his “unconscious”. His justifications have now become a part of him. He has now become mentally conditioned.
In other words, the person has lost his ability to discriminate. He is still discomfited by the chaotic condition of his mind, but he can no longer discriminate between himself and the chaotic condition. He has become part of the chaos himself. He gets shoved around at the whim of the environment.
When justifications become part of the person, he becomes mentally conditioned.
This situation applies to most people today. They are frustrated and angry at something but they have no idea who or what they are fighting against. They have long forgotten those moments of shock that started their descent into the mental chaos. Now all that they see is the quicksand of confusion.
A discipline is definitely needed but the ideas of disciplines too are in confusion. Maybe a good understanding of the situation is needed for a proper discipline to be worked out.
This chapter outlines the general situation of mental chaos that has come about. This situation descends further into “mental disorders” and “psychosomatic illnesses”. Hopefully the understanding of this chapter will guide us in developing a mental discipline, which will help reverse this downward spiral.
The next chapter looks into the formation of fundamentals of such discipline.
The mind operates flawlessly as long as all its experiences are well assimilated. The flaws originate from experiences that do not get assimilated. The unassimilated experiences are the source of all aberrations of the mind. These aberrations then manifest as sickness in the body, and irrational behavior in the person.
Any cure of mental disorders depends on accessing the unassimilated content of the mind. However, it has always been very difficult to do so. Here is a brief summary of the major attempts to cure mental disorders.
Mesmerism became popular in 18th century as it provided some cures by directly addressing the mind of the person, and much hope. Franz Mesmer was a German physician with a flamboyant personality. Wikipedia states:
“According to d’Eslon, Mesmer understood health as the free flow of the process of life through thousands of channels in our bodies. Illness was caused by obstacles to this flow. Overcoming these obstacles and restoring flow produced crises, which restored health. When Nature failed to do this spontaneously, contact with a conductor of animal magnetism was a necessary and sufficient remedy. Mesmer aimed to aid or provoke the efforts of Nature. To cure an insane person, for example, involved causing a fit of madness. The advantage of magnetism involved accelerating such crises without danger.”
Mesmer was able to produce crises in his patients by looking fixedly into their eyes using certain hand gestures, gently stroking their arms, and pressing abdominal area of the body with fingers. Mesmer was apparently triggering hitherto suppressed experiences in people. Such experiences caused crises when first brought into consciousness. But the person got better as those experiences got assimilated.
In 1841 James Braid claimed to produce the phenomenon of mesmerism without the proximity, acts, or influence of a second party. He defined the phenomenon as “a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention of the mental and visual eye, on one object, not of an exciting nature. His theory of hypnotism dispelled many fallacies in the theory of Mesmer. Wikipedia states:
“In his later works, Braid reserved the term “hypnotism” for cases in which subjects entered a state of amnesia resembling sleep. For other cases, he spoke of a “mono-ideodynamic” principle to emphasize that the eye-fixation induction technique worked by narrowing the subject’s attention to a single idea or train of thought (“monoideism”), which amplified the effect of the consequent “dominant idea” upon the subject’s body by means of the ideo-dynamic principle.”
Thus hypnotism tried to provide a better theory to explain the phenomenon of the mind observed under mesmerism. In the course of his investigations Braid reached the conclusion that hypnotism was wholly a matter of suggestion, implying that cures were affected by suggestions. But this was not what was happening under mesmerism.
Hypnotism merely explained and demonstrated the influence of mental impulses on the systems of the body. Hypnotic suggestions merely implanted ideas in the person below his awareness. Hypnotism did nothing to assimilate the unassimilated experiences in the mind.
In early 1890s Freud came up with the system of psychoanalysis for treating mental disorders. He theorized that psychological disturbances are largely caused by personal conflicts existing at the unconscious level. Liberation from the effects of the “unconscious” is achieved by bringing this material into the conscious mind. This was done by patient talking to the therapist, and the therapist guiding the patient until the patient became aware of the hidden causes of his conflicts. Wikipedia states:
“During psychoanalytic sessions…the patient… may lie on a couch, with the analyst often sitting just behind and out of sight. The patient expresses his or her thoughts, including free associations, fantasies and dreams, from which the analyst infers the unconscious conflicts causing the patient’s symptoms and character problems. Through the analysis of these conflicts… the analyst confronts the patient’s pathological defenses to help the patient gain insight.”
Freud recognized the importance of the assimilation of unassimilated experiences. However, his methods involved the psychoanalyst interpreting the contents from the mind of the person, and giving those interpretations back to the person to induce insight. This method has the liability of such interpretations acting as hypnotic suggestions.
The next advance came in 1950, when Hubbard expounded the Dianetics process of auditing the mind. He theorized that the cause of all psychosomatic illnesses and irrational behavior was an unknown reactive mind that was always “conscious”. Relief came when a person analytically accessed the painful contents of the reactive mind.
Hubbard came up with a much more efficient procedure that minimized hypnotic suggestions. He was able to get the person to recall the unassimilated content of the mind through codified processes on a gradient. However, Hubbard ended up intertwining his own esoteric beliefs of “thetan” and “past lives” into his upper level processes. Such processes lead to deep religious conditioning.
When we look at the Eastern background we find an emphasis on the “therapist” being the person himself. Thus the Eastern approach does not have many of the liabilities accrued in the Western systems.
The modern Eastern approach started with Buddha 2600 years ago. Buddha taught mindfulness, which emphasized looking at things as they are. The discipline of mindfulness requires that one does not avoid, resist, deny or suppress the activity of the mind. This allows the mind to assimilate data more readily.
Buddha’s efforts led to a grass roots movement that spread like wildfire. It not only cured but also uplifted a large number of people.
After reviewing the past efforts to handle the mind’s flaw we shall now look at how such efforts may be improved. We start by looking at the goal of these efforts in the next chapter.
A matrix is a mathematical concept which is applicable to the universe. A matrix is made up of nodes where each node is in some relationship with every other node. The universe maybe represented as a matrix of galaxies. A galaxy may be represented as a matrix of stars and planets. Thus the environment is best represented as a matrix of objects, where each object is related to every other object by distance, gravity, etc.
The environment is a matrix of objects.
The mind is made up of the perceptions of the environment. It is a matrix of perception of objects. These perceptual nodes are related to each other by the properties perceived for these objects. For example, in an animal mind, these perceptual nodes may be related by their property of being safe and edible.
The mind is a matrix of perception of objects in environment.
The mind is not something physical but it exists within the physical environment. It stores the perceptions coming from the environment continually. The perceptions affected by time are managed by breaking them down into refined perceptual nodes. The patterns of perceptual nodes when activated provide the perception of time. This is similar to storing a movie using patterns of pixels.
Perceptions are refined into perceptual nodes to store time.
In the human mind the perceptual nodes become still more refined as they store all possible properties of objects. A property, such as color, may be expressed through an infinite-valued scale. The properties may also range from concrete to abstract. Thus these perceptual nodes become numerous as they allow the mind to become increasingly discriminative and abstract. We may call them “perceptual elements”. Errors creep in only when perceptions do not get refined into perceptual elements and assimilated into the mental matrix.
The mind becomes increasingly discriminative with refinement of perceptions into “perceptual elements”.
The basic animal mind can be observed to operate entirely on automatic assimilation of perceptions from the environment into its coarse mind. This assimilation takes place on a continual basis. We may call this assimilation “free association”. Please note that this free association is not the same thing as the “technique of free association” in psychoanalysis.
Free association is the natural mechanism of evolution, which makes up the entire thinking of the animal mind.
The free association operates in an unbounded, universal context where nothing is suppressed. This allows animals to become part of a natural ecosystem with other life organisms.
Free association is objective in nature because of its universal context.
In the much more complex human mind, the natural function of “free association” is further supported by “creative associations” of thought. This becomes possible because of the extreme refinement of the perceptual nodes. Thus there is imagination and the faculty to make projections. There is also a deeper faculty of intuition, which comes straight from the fundamental principle of “chaos to order”.
Thought becomes possible in the human mind because of the extreme refinement of the perceptual nodes.
The human thought is objective when it is in sync with the free association of universal nature. However, when it goes out of sync thinking becomes limited to narrow, bounded contexts.
Thought is objective when it is in sync with free association. But when it goes out of sync it reduces in context and, therefore, becomes subjective.
The section above proposes a “matrix” model for the mind. The earlier models of the mind have been quite general as they were based on simple duality of functions observed. For example, In 1890s, Freud proposed the model of conscious and unconscious mind.
We now see from the matrix model that the greater is the refinement of perceptions into perceptual elements the higher is the consciousness. This explains the greater consciousness in humans compared to the consciousness in animals.
Consciousness increases with refinement of perceptual nodes.
When the incoming perceptions of experiences are not refined into perceptual elements, they are just lodged into the mental matrix as “unassimilated nodes”. Thus the person is not conscious of such experiences because they could not be assimilated into the refined mental matrix. This describes the concept of “unconscious mind” proposed by Freud.
Freud’s “unconscious mind” is made up of unassimilated experiences.
In 1950s, Hubbard proposed the model of analytical and reactive mind, while stating that the mind is always conscious.
The analytical mind is rational as it recognizes differences, similarities and identities, and comes up with sound judgment. In the matrix model, the natural associations are guided by the fundamental characteristics of order, which are continuity, harmony and consistency. The animal mind operates on free association. The human mind adds creative thinking that functions in sync with free association. Therefore, the mind is naturally analytical.
The mind is naturally rational as its associations are continually guided by the fundamental characteristics of order (continuity, harmony and consistency).
When an “unassimilated node” is activated as part of the thinking process it enforces its singular dramatization as perceived. That dramatization is discontinuous, disharmonious and inconsistent because it is not assimilated with what surrounds it. The mind appears to be reacting irrationally. This describes the concept of “reactive mind” proposed by Hubbard.
Hubbard’s “reactive mind” is made up of unassimilated experiences too.
The models of Freud and Hubbard, which are based on simple duality, imply that perceptions are stored “as-is” in the mind. However, the matrix model describes the storage of perceptions as patterns of perceptual elements well assimilated within the mental matrix. Since same perceptual elements may be utilized many times in different patterns, the matrix model provides a more efficient way of storing perceptions in the mind.
A “memory” is a pattern of perceptual elements that is activated by attention. Memory is clear and precise when its pattern is made up of refined and well assimilated elements. Memory shall consist of “holes” when the pattern contains “unassimilated nodes”.
A “memory” is a pattern of perceptual elements that is activated by attention.
With the matrix model it is easy to see the difference between the animal mind and the human mind in terms of how finely the perceptions are broken down into discriminative perceptual elements. This property defines the intelligence of the mind.
Intelligence of the mind depends on the refinement of the perceptual elements.
The perceptual elements are related within the mental matrix by means of infinite-valued scales of properties. Thus all perceptions are continuous, harmonious and consistent when they are well assimilated throughout the mental matrix. The better assimilated the perceptions are, the greater is the resolution of the mind.
Power of the mind depends on the degree of assimilation of perceptions in the mental matrix.
As the chaos in the environment impresses itself upon the mind through perceptions, the mind converts the chaos into order by assimilating them in its matrix of refined perceptual elements. The assimilated state of the mind is felt as emotions, which then generates sensations in the body. The emotions and sensations motivate the body to act. The body acts internally to maintain its health, and externally to bring order to the environment.
Thus we have a cycle, which operates from the environment through the mind-body system back on the environment, converting chaos into order. This explains the role of living organisms in the universe.
The purpose of the living mind-body organism is to bring order to its immediate environment, so as to speed up the evolution of the universe.
The mind is hard-wired to the body through the brain and the nervous system. As perceptions are received from the environment, they are continually assimilated into the mental matrix. This generates impulses in the body to bring appropriate responses from the endocrine, respiratory, muscular and other systems.
These impulses are generated by the mind as emotions and are sensed by the body as sensations.
This determines the health of the body internally and actions of the organism externally. The external actions then bring changes to the environment.
Errors enters into the highly complex human mind, when it is unable to fully assimilate an experience. The lack of proper assimilation then erodes thought from being creative to becoming discontinuous, disharmonious and inconsistent. This is then reflected through sickness in the body and aberrations in the conduct of the organism.