The Descent into Mental Chaos

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Reference: Mindfulness Approach

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Natural Order

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.

 

Mental Chaos

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 Shock

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

 

Anomalies

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

  1. DISCONTINUITY is something that simply does not make sense. For example, Joe has a good friend named Bill. Suddenly Bill starts to distance himself. This is incomprehensible to Joe.

  2. DISHARMONY is visible in conflicts. For example, Joe and Mary have a relationship that is full of conflicts. This is making both of them feel miserable.

  3. INCONSISTENCY exists between two observations that simply don’t go together. For example, Bill claims to be a successful businessman, but he is often filing for bankruptcies.

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 unassimilated node generates anomalies, which, in the absence of discipline, get justified.

 

Justification

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.

 

Mental Conditioning

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.

 

The Situation

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.

 

Summary

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 to reverse this downward spiral.

The next chapter looks into the formation of fundamentals of such discipline.

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