Tag Archives: Meditation

The Strangeness of Paying Attention

There is an inherent strangeness in the world. Just look with enough attention.

We know what a hand is. It’s a part of our body. We know what constitutes the hand – bones, nervous tissue, muscle tissue, cartilage, etc.

And yet, make the following experience: look at your hand, in a relaxed manner, for a couple of minutes. Do not try to think about it. Just look at it. If you want to go a little further: use it to point directly to your face, to your eyes, and direct your gaze to the tip of your finger.

You do not know what this is. You do not know how it works. You do not know what this sensation is, caused by merely witnessing a part of your body.

Now try it with a pet. It’s a dog. Or a cat. Or an iguana. As in the case of the hand, classification is trivial.

But take a closer look. The movements. The detail of hairs, or skin. The wet of the nose; the pattern that covers the skin of the nose. The very strangeness of the fact of the co-habitation of this being, in harmony with you. The strangeness of its actions, of how it ”is.”

Observed with sufficient attention, setting aside the labels, the classifications… It might as well be an alien that you are observing. It’s strange in the same way an alien would be – you don’t know what it is or how it works, beyond the noun.

Is this how children see the world? I do not know. But it is a plane of experience accessible to all.

Just watch carefully.

High Definition

To meditate is not to seek a sublime mental or physical state. Meditation can lead to this – often through the practice breathing exercises – but that is not its purpose.

The purpose of a meditation practice is, above all, to notice the filters we apply to our lives, to our perception. Filters that cover our entire sensory experience, constantly, and which are invisible unless:

  1. We know about their existence.
  2. We train the concentration needed to detect them.

We wear glasses to see more clearly. We buy bigger TVs to better appreciate the art of film or sport. We use better quality headphones to enjoy with greater definition the instrument’s sound and the voice of the singer.

None of these experiences, however refined, can lead us to the same place meditation takes us.

But meditation, once reached a certain level, brings increased clarity our experience of all these things – and everything else.

Rain on Demand

Rainy days like today are very productive. There is something about the rain that helps me focus.

Of course, not every day is like today. On those days I have Rainy Mood.

Yes, I know this note is looking a lot like an ad for aspirin or toiletries, but I’m not an affiliate, I don’t earn if you try it. It’s just another one of those times when I want to share something cool with you.

The free version is very generous, and I didn’t need to upgrade, but I bought it anyway, as a way to say thanks. The paid version has extra soundscapes – rain on the beach, for example – but for me it’s the original that delivers the goods. The only paid function that I use is the sleep timer. I set the app for thirty minutes as I go to bed, and I know it will stop after I fall asleep. It’s also good for meditation.

It works great with headphones, but with a good sound system, the effect is phenomenal. I’m even tempted to buy a bluetooth speaker system for the bedroom, just to use with this.

Photo Credit: Gunn Shots (On and off these days) Flickr via Compfight cc