For us in the West, to meditate means to rethink and reason about things that have happened and are to happen, when we are told, for example, “Meditate on what you have done.” In Eastern culture, on the other hand, to meditate is to detach oneself from thoughts, to empty the mind. How would you explain these two approaches that are so distant from each other? A: Do you remember as a child/teenager being told “Before you speak, count to 10?”
Here, it was a really good suggestion; too bad they didn’t tell us what to do with those 10 seconds.
Meditating allows us to train our minds to create space. A space of analysis and understanding that allows us to choose the best response for our own well-being and that of those around us.
A space in which to consciously respond rather than react uncontrollably to the events that the ever-changing environment presents to us.
I think the error is first and foremost semantic “Meditate on what you have done” is erroneously taken as a synonym for “Reflect” to which we must then add the mistaken belief that meditation is a technique to empty the mind; but it is not.
Eastern and Western cultures are profoundly different and can influence the development of the brain; just think of the different brain areas activated by language and communication between East and West.
So also the ways of seeing reality are different. In the West we tend to study the psyche using an exact method, a science: psychology. The East is different, in that it sees man as composed of body and spirit, which together constitute the psyche. Western and Eastern cultures, in fact, often clash in their way of thinking and living.
“One of the most established psychological theories defines Westerners as an individualistic culture, oriented towards the individual and his aspirations; on the contrary, Western culture is defined as collectivist: the welfare of the community comes before the aspirations of the individual. Individualist culture and collectivist culture are just the two poles of the many differences that divide Western and Eastern“.
So if it is true that the habitual and automatic vision of reality can differ between an East and a West, we meet inexorably in the motivations that guide to meditation and its benefits.
Common indeed is the need to not identify ourselves with our thoughts. A thought is different from thinking. One is the content, the other is the action.
We can choose not to be identified with our thoughts.
Can we choose not to think? The answer is NO, but … we can choose to think that thought or not.
By training ourselves not to get caught up in the thoughts that come spontaneously because of those processes that are active by ABITUDE in our minds.
Learning not to identify with the thoughts that arise but asking ourselves when they arrive: “Who said that this thought is true? Is it valid? Should this thought be true simply because it is mine? The answer is no!”
We don’t know if the interpretation our thoughts make of reality is correct; indeed, often by not being present and aware of how our minds apply automatic biases and considerations we are faced with thoughts that are unable to represent the reality around us.
Becoming familiar with the tools that allow us to not always and constantly be slaves to the mechanisms of the mind we insert space, clarity and intelligence into our experience by limiting our reactivity and providing us with greater opportunities for well-being.
Why is this mind training important?
To have more resources at our disposal and increase our zone of resilience, in which our cognitive abilities are optimal and effective!
We imagine our mind as a river, a perennial flowing stream, fed by springs and rains (causes and conditions) in which stones, mud, algae and animals (thoughts, memories, worries, projects) chase each other . .
Here, to really see what is now being carried by the river – to have a better, wider view – I will have to move away, reach the shore, and not remain submerged in the water.
I will have to observe from a distance.
So this wisdom – distance and observation – practiced and made a habit will give birth to that SILENCE that we do not yet imagine how POWERFUL it is.
The AUTHOR OF THE ARTICLE
Graduated in Economics and Marketing, after a Master University in Neuroscience, Mindfulness and Contemplative Practicesin life she teaches yoga and meditation and deals with training, development and enhancement of human resources and business organizations.
Thanks to a continuous training in Italy, Indonesia and India she is a certified teacher of Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and she is a certified Mindfulness Educator and Brain Longevity® Specialist.
To the knowledge of the different complexities that we live daily in the world of work that, today even more, requires at every level to draw on specific soft skills of growth and resilience, has combined the passion for practices, such as yoga and meditation, aimed at the development of a stable emotional balance and a greater mental and physical well-being, giving life to the project Yoga Trainer.