Last week we explored the effect of mediation on our sense of reality. Thanks to media in all its formats, we are at least a step removed from direct reality most of the time.
What if you could completely escape media? Television, radio, computers, the internet and social media, even books. Would you then be in touch with the real?
Not necessarily, because you’re still being mediated by the story in your head. Your thoughts, memories, and worries for the future are strung together to form yet another narrative that may seem like your reality, but it’s not real.
Where does this story come from? It’s partly genetic, but mostly due to sociogenic conditioning, i.e. caused or influenced by social factors. We’re raised since childhood to act a certain way and believe certain things, and that shapes the way we think and define ourselves, sometimes for our entire lives.
The culprit is our sense of self. Whether you consult with a neuroscientist, speak to a Zen Buddhist, or reflect upon the writings of philosopher David Hume, you’ll hear the same thing — the self is an illusion.
Cognitive neuroscientist Bruce Hood puts it this way:
Who we are is a story of our self — a constructed narrative that our brain creates.
Meditation was originally conceived over 2,500 years ago by Siddhārtha Gautama so that people could personally experience what science now tells us.
Meanwhile, the Stoics of ancient Greece and Rome created a practical approach to life that recognizes that the story in our head is not real, nor is it fixed in place.
Back in 2005, I woke up from emergency brain surgery to a startling insight. I experienced first hand that my entire story was imaginary. Things that I thought I was supposed to do were revealed to be false, which opened the door to doing what I wanted to.
This led to a complete transformation of my entrepreneurial journey. And even though I wasn’t chasing greater wealth or recognition, those things came in exponentially greater amounts.
Does that mean I walk around as a perfectly enlightened being, completely present in the moment? Ha, far from it.
It’s said that once a Zen monk experiences the truth, it takes at least ten years to learn to live with the truth. And this is in the seclusion of a monastery!
Trying to live the truth while remaining in the world is tough. You never truly forget what you know, though.
In my case, I’ve been exploring what I experienced from an intellectual standpoint ever since it happened. I’ve read just about everything around on the topic of enlightenment, and these days all I need is to revisit some of my favorite books to remind myself that the movie playing in my head is not real.
I also appreciate new approaches to getting people to understand the truth of who they really are. One of the more novel takes I’ve seen recently is called I am Keats: Escape Your Mind and Free Your Self by Tom Asacker (Amazon Associates).
If you’re interested in truly becoming your best self, give it a read. In my view, the overriding meaning of life is figuring out who you really are, which allows you to become who you really want to be.
High-intensity exercise — particularly interval workouts, or short bursts of intense activity — can change you for the better. That means physically, yes, but mentally, too.
Diet Coke Stroke
There was a time when I didn’t drink coffee. All of college and law school was fueled by copious amounts of Diet Coke instead. Thankfully, I switched to coffee in 1994 and never looked back.
Maybe Just Drink Water?
Now, on to drinks that matter. We’ve been told that a couple of glasses of wine a day won’t hurt you, and may well extend your life when compared to abstinence. Turns our that study was seriously flawed.
Double Fun in the Sun
In this Further original, Mary Kay Seales recounts a spontaneous trip to Bora Bora, and how it changed her. The beautiful blue-saturated photos alone are worth the click.
Down by the River
I’ve honestly never considered road tripping around and sleeping in a van. After reading this New Yorker article, I’m absolutely going to rent a van to go on a hiking excursion through Colorado this summer. Why is this so appealing?
After interviewing thousands of entrepreneurs, researchers found that those who kept their day job while pursuing a personal venture on the side — or “hybrid entrepreneurship” — were 33 percent less likely to fail than those who quit their jobs altogether.
Teach to Learn
In a nutshell, if you truly want to master a subject, you should teach it to others. We’ve covered this before, and this article is a nice elaboration.
Block and Tackle
Productivity and organization go hand-in-hand. “Time blocking” is a method that just might help you avoid those moments of chaos, and keep your mind and office clear.
Forgetting to Forgive
From a neuropsychological viewpoint, the act of judging a moral situation is incredibly complex. New research investigates the neuroanatomical basis of forgiveness.
It probably wasn’t Francis Bacon who said “what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” but there is some truth to it. At what point does information cease to lessen anxiety and restlessness, and instead increase it?
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