Monday, October 8, 2012

Learn the business to run the firm

I am a fan of duration, especially successful shortening of time required to do something.  If the something is as good or better when done in a shorter time, that may well be an improvement.  I think people all over the world are put off by American efforts to live rapidly, have fast food, speed read, grow crops faster, etc.  The Adam Sandler movie "Click" is a good reminder of the sad end to which one comes too soon if one fast-forwards through life.

Still, as a senior citizen becoming more senior each day, I realize my years left to live are fewer.  So, speeding here and reaching goals faster there may be worth the effort.  The single most valuable practice I have learned besides exercise is meditation.  We just read today of Zen priests in Japan in Huston Smith's "The World's Religions" sitting facing a wall, day after day, year after year, cleaning their minds and improving their grasp of reality.  

Visitors to these are struck by the seemingly endless hours the monks devote to sitting silently on two long, raised platforms that extend the length of the hall on either side, their faces toward the center (or to the walls, depending on which of the two main lineages of Zen the monastery is attached to). Their position is the lotus posture, adopted from India. Their eyes are half closed as their gaze falls unfocused on the tawny straw mats they are sitting on. Thus they sit, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, seeking to waken the Buddha-mind so they may later relate it to their daily lives.

Smith, Huston (2004-05-10). The World's Religions, Revised and Updated (Plus) (Kindle Locations 2874-2880). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

"Hour after hour,...year after year"?  May be silly of me but I seek evidence that good awareness of my mind can be achieved more quickly.  Maybe that last year, that last month, could be omitted successfully.

B. Alan Wallace says somewhere that some ancient authorities somehow worked out that 24 minute sessions were optimal.  Herbert Benson in "The Relaxation Response" says 10-20 minutes once or twice a day.  Victor Davich says 8 and Toni Bernhard says 5 will do.  The professionally jovial Chinese engineer at Google has the suggested time down to 2 minutes.

Most evenings, before we sleep, my young daughter and I sit in mindfulness together for two minutes. I like to joke that two minutes is optimal for us because that is the attention span of a child and of an engineer. For two minutes a day, we quietly enjoy being alive and being together. More fundamentally, for two minutes a day, we enjoy being. Just being. To just be is simultaneously the most ordinary and the most precious experience in life.

Goleman, Daniel; Kabat-Zinn, Jon; Tan, Chade-Meng (2012-04-24). Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) (Kindle Locations 585-588). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

If you are interested, you might want to note that Daniel Goleman and Jon Kabat-Zinn are two of the main leaders in getting people aware of the value of meditation.  

Meditation helps you learn the business of your mind and feelings.  After that, you will run the firm of yourself much better.

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