Unwinding the Mind

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

To unwind means “to undo or loosen from a tightly engaged condition:” For a spring loaded toy, it would be loosening the spring from a tightly coiled condition. For a tense mind, it would be loosening it from a tightly suppressed condition.

Most difficulties in life arise when perceptions and memories get suppressed. Such thoughts are then waiting to be released. Relief comes when the mind is allowed to unwind itself.

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Suppression

When too many things are happening at once as in an emergency, and there is impact and pain as in an accident, then there is little time to sort them out. As a result such perceptions get suppressed and become deeply buried memories. One may have some idea of such a memory, but the details are not available to consciousness.

Suppressed memories are waiting for calm moments so they can come up to consciousness, get sorted out, and released.

The stress of daily life, however, does not provide calm enough moments to release deeply buried memories.

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Unwinding

After several sessions of mindfulness meditation the mind begins to settle down and arrive at some calm moments. This provides the mind with opportunity to start unwinding itself. The attention automatically goes to an area of memory that needs to be examined and sorted out.

But that area of memory may have mental pain and confusion associated with it. Under these circumstances one must be cautiously aware of what is unfolding without interfering with it. To become anxious and start digging into the mind for answers is something you must not attempt.

The mind seems to unwind in a certain way to protect itself. It releases suppressed memory slowly so as not to overwhelm awareness with too much pain and confusion. Left to itself, mind will gradually present data that is safe to look at. Any attempt to rush the mind only makes it less responsive and it may get you into deep trouble.

Simply follow the natural flow of attention and closely examine what is unfolding. Do not interfere and try to figure out things beyond what the mind is presenting.

Soon the mental fog shall start to lift and long suppressed material shall come to view followed by realizations. This process may continue even outside the meditation session. Sometimes the mind may take days before all the suppressed data is available to arrive at the answer.

Relief comes from looking patiently and not from searching anxiously.

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Locations & Personalities

You have been using breathing as a stabilizing factor while your mind is settling down (See Settling the Mind Down). This means that as and when attention gets lost during meditation, you bring it back to your breathing and start all over again.

Once the mind has settled down enough the attention goes automatically to a suppressed memory that is available to be sorted out. You use the location or personality that is central to that memory, as your stabilizing factor. If attention gets lost, then you bring it back to the location or personality of that memory, and start all over again.

Use the location or personality central to a memory as your stabilizing factor.

It is possible that the details of the suppressed memory have sorted themselves out and the attention is freed up with a sense of relief. In that case, you may not even care about that memory, or its location and personalities. If the sense of relief is great, you may even end the meditation session, and enjoy the win. Otherwise, you may go back to breathing and simply wait to see what the mind brings up next.

Session after session you let the mind unwind until no more suppressed data is coming up.

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Meditation 104: Reaction to Locations

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

Until now you have been meditating in a calm environment. You may find that the calmness of the mind may be affected by different locations. The environments at different locations may trigger different reactions in the mind.

Meditation Exercise 4:

Confronting different environments

Purpose:

To train the student to be there comfortably in different environments. The idea is to get the student able to BE there comfortably in any environment, to BE there and not do anything else but BE there.

Pre-requisites:

Complete all exercises up to Chapter 7: Meditation 103: Reaction to People

Instructions:

Choose an environment that is only slightly more chaotic than the one you feel comfortable in. Sit at a location in that environment where you would not be disturbed physically . Start meditating in that environment with eyes closed, half closed or open as happens naturally. Handle any reactions and mental chattering as per the previous exercises. There should be nothing added to BE there.

You may be apprehensive in the beginning in a new environment and may start meditating with eyes open. But as you feel more comfortable your eyes may close naturally. Let the reactions run out and discharge with eyes closed, half closed and open. Let it all happen naturally.

As you are able to be there comfortably in an environment with no more reactions to run out, you may choose to meditate in a slightly more chaotic environment. You may do at least one 20-minute session in each environment. Some environments may require multiple sessions until you feel totally comfortable.

You should build up your ability to be there comfortably even in very chaotic environments, such as, a crowded mall, a street corner, a crowded bus or train station or even a graveyard in the night (if it is physically safe) without feeling afraid or embarrassed.

End of Exercise:

When major reactions are discharged, and the student can just BE there comfortably in any reasonably safe location, then this exercise is passed.

NOTE: At any point you may return to a previous exercise if you feel that you need to complete it.

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A Geometry for Outer Space

ReferenceA Logical Approach to Theoretical Physics

From Newton’s Principia, page 77 (pdf 83)

II. Absolute space, in its own nature, without regard to anything external, remains always similar and immovable. Relative space is some movable dimension or measure of the absolute spaces; which our senses determine by its position to bodies; and which is vulgarly taken for immovable space; such is the dimension of a subterraneous, an aereal, or celestial space, determined by its position in respect of the earth. Absolute and relative space, are the same in figure and magnitude; but they do not remain always numerically the same. For if the earth, for instance, moves, a space of our air, which relatively and in respect of the earth remains always the same, will at one time be one part of the absolute space into which the air passes ; at another time it will be another part of the same, and so, absolutely understood, it will be perpetually mutable.

Newton made the assumption that space is immovable. But space is absence of matter, and it cannot be assigned such a characteristic as immovability. So there are no positions in space that are automatically fixed. The only thing fixed in space is a theoretical object of infinite mass. The fixity of the location of any other object shall be proportional to its mass (see The Uniform Velocity in Space).

So earth, moon and sun have locations in space with uncertainties attached to them according to their fixity. We may project abstract positions using these locations, such as, a position half-way between the earth and the moon. A projected position shall have uncertainty depending on the actual reference locations.

The location of an abstract position far from any mass shall be totally uncertain. This gives us a new non-Euclidean geometry.

This subject may be called “space geometry”. The uniform absolute speed of a body shall determine the uncertainty associated with its location in space geometry. The distance between two locations shall be determined by the difference in the uncertainties of those locations. Two locations with similar uncertainties shall be at equal distance from the location to no uncertainty.

The gravitational field around a body shall be defined by increasing uncertainties of positions around it.

This geometry shall be based on a universal constant that establishes the absolute motion of a body and the uncertainty of its location. The absolute velocity and mass of a body, or a system, may change but the absolute motion of the body, or the system, shall remain constant.

The Uniform Velocity in Space

ReferenceA Logical Approach to Theoretical Physics

Terms, such as, force, mass, velocity and energy acquire their meaning from the mathematical formulations of Newtonian mechanics. The system created from this Newtonian “particles in void” framework is, however, unable to explain “action at a distance”. Therefore, we must evaluate its terms carefully beyond their narrow mathematical meanings.

Newton states in his Principia 1,

DEFINITION III: The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting, by which every body, as much as in it lies, continues in its present state, whether it be of rest, or of moving uniformly forwards in a right line.

Force constitutes the very power of matter. We perceive matter based on its effect on our senses as force. Force is the primary concept. Other concepts, such as inertia, mass and energy are derived from force.

Faraday looked at force as the “power of substance” where substance includes not only the “mass” of matter, but also the “energy” of radiative phenomena. Faraday’s concept of force goes beyond the mathematical description of force as “mass x acceleration”. Faraday’s principle of conservation of force includes the conservation of mass, energy and motion (momentum). Faraday says 2,

There is no question which lies closer to the root of all physical knowledge, than that which inquires whether force can be destroyed or not. The progress of the strict science of modern times has tended more and more to produce the conviction that “force can neither be created nor destroyed,” and to render daily more manifest the value of the knowledge of that truth in experimental research. To admit, indeed, that force may be destructible or can altogether disappear, would be to admit that matter could be uncreated; for we know matter only by its forces: and though one of these is most commonly referred to, namely gravity, to prove its presence, it is not because gravity has any pretension, or any exemption amongst the forms of force, as regards the principle of conservation; but simply that being, as far as we perceive, inconvertible in its nature and unchangeable in its manifestation, it offers an unchanging test of the matter which we recognize by it.

Therefore, Faraday insisted that the principle of conservation of force be included in every hypothesis, theory or definition, because unless this principle is satisfied, no study can be considered complete.

Supposing that the truth of the principle of the conservation of force is assented to, I come to its uses. No hypothesis should be admitted nor any assertion of a fact credited, that denies the principle. No view should be inconsistent or incompatible with it. Many of our hypotheses in the present state of science may not comprehend it, and may be unable to suggest its consequences; but none should oppose or contradict it.

As an example, we may apply this conservation principle of Faraday to the following anomaly in Newtonian Mechanics 1:

When a force is applied to a body, it accelerates. When the force is removed there is no more acceleration, but the body continues to move with the increased velocity.

What keeps the body moving at the higher velocity?

This question arises specifically in the case when the body is drifting in space light minutes away from the bodies influencing it through their gravitational fields. Let us consider the following example:

When a constant force is applied to an object it starts to accelerate at a constant rate. Its velocity starts to increase. The force is constant and so is the acceleration, then what is converting into increased velocity and kinetic energy?

Per Newton’s definition,

DEFINITION II: The quantity of motion is the measure of the same arising from the velocity and quantity of matter conjointly.

To conserve the motion, as the velocity increase, the mass (inertia) must reduce. The mass reduces by converting into kinetic energy. The decrease in mass (inertia) would, however, be extremely small and imperceptible to cause a significant and perceptible increase in velocity.

Furthermore, when the force is removed the acceleration goes away. But if the object continues to move at a higher speed, it must mean that its inertia stays reduced. We may, therefore, conclude:

The velocity of an object drifting in space is a function of its mass (inertia). As its velocity increases, its mass decreases commensurately.

Theoretically, a body in space can be at absolute rest if its mass is infinite. Its inertia would be so large that the gravitational forces cannot push it around. But as its mass decreases it gets pushed around and it acquires a velocity inversely proportional to its mass. A body of near zero mass shall have a velocity of near infinity. We observe this phenomenon with the velocity of light, where the mass is zero and the velocity is extremely large. Light has some inertia due to quantization, which makes its velocity finite.

Newton did not discount absolute velocities as he says 1,

But we may distinguish rest and motion, absolute and relative, one from the other by their properties, causes and effects. It is a property of rest, that bodies really at rest do rest in respect to one another. And therefore as it is possible, that in the remote regions of the fixed stars, or perhaps far beyond them, there may be some body absolutely at rest; but impossible to know, from the position of bodies to one another in our regions whether any of these do keep the same position to that remote body; it follows that absolute rest cannot be determined from the position of bodies in our regions.

That remote body absolutely at rest could be at the center of our milky way. Therefore, we may determine the absolute velocity of a body in terms of its mass (inertia).

The exact relationship of absolute velocity to mass still remains to be determined, but it is likely to be inversely proportional.

It is possible that the constant of proportionality, if it exists, may turn out to be a universal constant. The application of the Faraday’s principle of Conservation of Force thus fixes the uncertainty associated with the uniform velocity of a body drifting in space.

Hopefully Faraday’s principle of Conservation of Force shall lead us to a better understanding of the nature of the particles and void.

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1 Newton’s Principia” (1686) Translation by Andrew Motte, American edition of 1846, p. 73
2 On the Conservation of Force” by Michael Faraday (1857), Proceedings of the Royal Institution, Vol. II, p. 352

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The “Particles in Void” Framework

ReferenceA Logical Approach to Theoretical Physics

Here is an interesting commentary on the logical framework of physics 1.

Several early Greek philosophers, including Democritus, imagined the universe as consisting of a multitude of irreducible particles moving in an empty void. On the other hand, Aristotle (c. 350 BC) denied the existence of a “void” (a region of space containing no substance), believing instead that the universe is filled continuously with substance… From this point of view it’s possible for a continuous substance to possess variable density, so the compressibility of air does not imply the existence of empty spaces.

The modern physics is based on the “particles in void” framework. It does not believe that the universe is filled continuously with substance.

“Particles” represent isolated bits of matter that are separated by void. Therefore, there is no continuity among the particles. They are never directly in contact.

Particles have properties that we may perceive. But void is perceived only as a gap among particles. Void has no properties of its own that may be perceived.

There is nothing that continues across the boundary between a particle and void except for geometry. The measures of geometry exist even when there is no substance to measure. Therefore, any possibility of continuum of substance is replaced by geometry in the “particles in void” framework.

Common to particles and void is the mathematical abstraction of geometry.

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Geometry

Astronomy considers stars and planets as point particles in the sky separated by vast distances. The obvious relationship among them is provided by Geometry. The other consideration is the motion of the moon around the earth, and planets around the sun, which requires the presence of some kind of force between them.

The success of Newton’s universal law of gravity raised the importance of geometry and mathematics, and established “particles in void” as the logical framework of physics. But with this framework arose the problem of “action at a distance”. It required the presence of some mechanism in the void.

This revived the concept of aether as the substance, which permeated the void. Newton wrote 2,

A most subtle spirit which pervades all bodies…by the force and action of which spirit the particles of bodies mutually attract one another, at near distances, and cohere, if contiguous; and electric bodies operate at greater distances, as well repelling as attracting the neighbouring corpuscles; and light is emitted, reflected, refracted, inflected and heats bodies; and all sensation is excited, and the members of animal bodies move at the command of the will, namely, by the vibrations of this spirit, mutually propagated along the solid filaments of the nerves, from the outward organs of sense to the brain, and from the brain into the muscles.

But the possibility of aether and its actual nature was yet to be corroborated with reality.

Geometry alone could not explain how force got communicated across the void. It then led to the postulate of aether as a substance permeating the void.

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Electricity and Magnetism

The phenomena of electricity and magnetism were being studied extensively during the 18th and 19th centuries. During this period the atomic theory was being used to explain the chemical structure of matter. The phenomena of electricity and magnetism seemed to explain how force was communicated through the void between atoms.

From his experimental investigation into electricity and magnetism, Faraday formed the view 3 that an atom is not a supposed little hard particle separate from the powers around it. An atom is constituted of the powers it has, and it extends as far as its powers extend.

… where is there the least ground (except in a gratuitous assumption) for imagining a difference in kind between the nature of that space midway between the centres of two contiguous atoms and any other spot between these centres? a difference in degree, or even in the nature of the power consistent with the law of continuity, I can admit, but the difference between a supposed little hard particle and the powers around it I cannot imagine…

Hence matter will be continuous throughout, and in considering a mass of it we have not to suppose a distinction between its atoms and any intervening space. The powers around the centres give these centres the properties of atoms of matter; and these powers again, when many centres by their conjoint forces are grouped into a mass, give to every part of that mass the properties of matter. In such a view all the contradiction resulting from the consideration of electric insulation and conduction disappears.

Thus, in matter the atoms touch each other and there is no void among them.

But is there a similar situation with the bodies in the heavens? Do these bodies touch each other with their power of gravity that is extended as aether?

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Light and Gravity

The phenomena of light and gravity were studied extensively by Newton himself in the 17th century. This study was carried forward in 18th and 19th centuries, but no connection was ever made between light and gravity.

Faraday, however, stated the following 4:

The view which I am so bold to put forth considers, therefore, radiation as a kind of species of vibration in the lines of force which are known to connect particles and also masses of matter together. It endeavors to dismiss the aether, but not the vibration …

The aether is assumed as pervading all bodies as well as space: in the view now set forth, it is the forces of the atomic centres which pervade (and make) all bodies, and also penetrate all space. As regards space, the difference is, that the aether presents successive parts of centres of action, and the present supposition only lines of action; as regards matter, the difference is, that the aether lies between the particles and so carries on the vibrations, whilst as respects the supposition, it is by the lines of force between the centres of the particles that the vibration is continued.

According to Faraday, there was no separate substance, such as, aether. Matter itself extended as lines of force filling all space between the material bodies. Radiation was the vibrations in these lines of force.

Faraday looked at radiation, such as, light, to be the extension that carried the force of matter.

In short, the idea of “void” was unsustainable. First, the theoretical concept of “aether”, and then, a more realistic idea of “force carrying radiation” were simply the attempts to discover the nature of “space”, which was thought to be void of matter.

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1Continuity and the Void” by Kevin Brown
2Newton’s Principia” (1686) Translation by Andrew Motte, American edition of 1846, p. 26
3 A speculation touching Electrical Conduction and the Nature of Matter” by Michael Faraday (1844), Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, Vol. XXIV, p. 136
4 Thoughts on Ray Vibrations”, Lecture by Michael Faraday (1846),  Experimental Researches in Electricity, Vol III, M. Faraday, p447-452

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