Brains, Computers, and Meditation

As I was laying in bed last night trying to go to sleep, I figured I’d do some meditating. I tried to clear my mind, and simply view the thoughts that came to me, then let them go. As I was doing this, it reminded me of a computer shutting down, which was a problem, because then according to my meditation, I should have viewed that thought and let it go. But I wanted to blog about it! So I reviewed it a couple times in my head so that I would remember, then continued with my efforts.

It is so strange trying to think about nothing, because then seemingly random thoughts will pop into my head as soon as the others have faded, instead of the usual continuation of one subject evolving into another. And at this point, I can’t clearly remember what these thoughts even were, but at the time, it reminded me of pop-up ads as you are trying to close a browser. You realize there were all these ads behind the main window that you were focusing on. Maybe they weren’t taking up much of your thought, but they were certainly making the computer or internet run slower.

The same applies to background programs on the computer that you don’t even know are running until you shut it down. Then all these windows pop up like, “are you sure you want to close this?” and “forced shutdown could make you lose data”. But in the end the computer always seems to run better when it is restarted.

Our brains are probably very similar. Even though when we sleep we are often refreshed, it seems like it would be beneficial to shut down each memory train that is running in our brain. They reveal themselves as soon as you push out the more pressing thoughts closest to the front of your mind. Then random imagery, words, people, events, or fiction pops into your head. But somehow I doubt it pops in randomly, it must be playing off something else, or perhaps hanging out in the back of the mind the whole time just waiting to get some attention.

If anyone has a psychology background or understands how the brain works, let me know if I am onto something. But even if I am not onto something scientific, it certainly was good imagery to focus my meditation session. And then it puts my mind at ease, because I feel like I am putting to rest tiring backstories that need not constantly play in the subconscious.

Close those brain pop-ups down one at a time, and then enjoy the blank space, the clean surface, the properly functioning drive. Just clear it out, reset, and everything will run smoother when you boot it back up. Perhaps only truly important backstories will reboot, and you can put some of the nagging ones to rest.

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Have you ever had literally no thoughts on your mind?

Have you ever thought about how hard it is to have nothing on your mind? Well maybe not for folks in DC, zing! But to actually not be thinking any thoughts is extremely difficult to do. Not just to have relaxed thoughts, or good thoughts, or simple thoughts, but none at all, just blank. It’s a form of meditation to attempt to block all thoughts and think of nothing, and every time a new thought comes into your head, just dismiss it. I really think I have only been successful for a few seconds at a time.

The way I was taught was to focus on something natural like your heartbeat, or breathing. Picture the air going through your nostrils, or blood pumping through your veins, and try to let no other thought come into the brain. I have heard that some monks are so good at blocking out the outside world that when attached to a machine to measure their brain waves, a gun can be fired next to them (not at them please, they are peaceful), and their brain shows no response, as if they did not even register the sound.

I admittedly haven’t given it too much practice, but something always seems to pop back into my brain. But thinking about it, how often have electronics and computers been cured of their momentary glitches just by unplugging them, waiting a few second, and plugging them back in. Sometimes things just got to power off, regroup, and come back into it properly. I think we need that sometimes too, its just too bad its so hard to shut those thoughts off.

But there’s still ways to regroup without thinking too much. Exercise is a good one, and listening to music. Do them both at once and you’re golden. Another form of meditation I know (these are the only two “official” strategies I have heard of) is to close your eyes, take note of every sound you hear, but immediately dismiss it, and take note of the next one. If there is a constant sound, still dismiss it, and allow yourself to rediscover it when the next sound is forgotten. I think this one is a bit easier than the clearing the mind version.

I wonder what it is that makes it so hard for me to turn off thoughts completely. I guess there were long times past during human evolution when if you weren’t thinking, you wouldn’t live long enough to pass on your genes.

One final thought, not sure if you would call it meditation, but maybe a cool regrouping strategy. I’ve heard that the universe goes in and out of existence trillions of times per second, and every time it comes back each atom must be put back into place (disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m talking about). So the idea is that you can affect how the universe gets put back together with thought. So if something hurts, think about it being put back together without the pain. And if you want something to happen, think about the universe being arranged so that it will happen. And even if I completely just made that pulsing universe thing up, the thought process might serve as an effective placebo.