Memory And Thought

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Let me share my very best understanding with you. In this post we'll take a close look at the workings of the mind.

Normally, our attention or focus is not one with the present moment. Imagine that you are having breakfast in front of the computer. At the same time as you are reading the news on the screen, you are having your cereal and milk, your attention is split.

Part of you is reading the news and reacting to it, either you like what you read or you disagree with it. Another part of you is involved in eating and either you enjoy the taste of the food or you don't. This is a simple analysis of what's going on while we are doing two things at the same time.

Attention and Mindfulness

Our attention or focus is continuously split between various activities. Think about it, when you're not paying much attention to what something tastes like because the mind is more interested in reading breaking news, you won't be that aware of the taste of the food.

On the contrary, if you do nothing else but eat and pay close attention to every bite you take and every taste that arises in your mind, then you're said to be mindful or one with the present moment. With mindfulness we can be well aware of the taste of food.

Most of the time we are absent-minded though. For example, how mindful are you while washing your hair? The mind is a wanderer that delights in processing thoughts and goes from one thought to the next and so on. While washing the hair, the mind is entangled in all kinds of thoughts and only occasionally will it give its full attention to the task at hand, only to wander off again after a short while...

Retentive Memory

Let me point out how memory is involved in two types of mind activities. But first, what is memory? The mind has the ability to store information for later use, we call it retentive memory.

So, if someone is said to have a good memory that refers to their exceptional ability to pick up stored information. That's what we normally associate memory with, remembering things we have read, done, said or heard. And either we perceive our memory as good or bad.

Subconscious Memory Activity

Let's take a look at another form of memory activity that take place in the mind. Now, we are moving in the direction of somewhat more abstract observations as we're touching upon subtler mind states with which we are far less familiar. Meditation, mindfulness and awareness of the present moment, just to mention a few tools, make it possible to extend our awareness and clearly observe these subtle mind processes.

Here's a simple example. It's summer and you're sitting in the garden surrounded by lush greenery and blooming flowers. You're alone and not doing anything in particular other than enjoying the closeness to nature.

Out of the blue, you start to think about something that happened to you 10-years ago. Your thinking changed all of a sudden, but what triggered the change of thoughts? The mind is very fast and by not paying close attention to what it's up to, moment by moment, we become absent-minded immediately.

So, back to the garden scene. The scent of flowers entered your nostrils and the mind enjoyed the pleasant sense impression. A split second later, the mind matched the scent of the fragrant flowers with a memory. A memory of a similar scent and with a story attached to it.

A story involving people and an endless number of circumstances taking place at a particular phase of your life. The mind loves processing these kind of stories as much as it enjoys the taste of delicious food. The sticky nature of the mind makes it hard to stop thinking, so we get caught up in daydreaming.

Mind And Memory

There you were musing, enjoying yourself in the garden. When all of a sudden, without you being aware of the process, the mind picked up a memory of a similar scent. And as a result, you're mind stopped thinking about the garden and started to process old memories which in turn triggers emotions and it goes on and on.

I would like to highlight the obvious fact that these mind processes are involuntary, take place at jet speed and often without our knowing.

Therefore, it can be said, "I'm not the master of my mind." Of course, we don't like to think of it that way because throughout history mankind has invented and achieved so much, but the truth is that most of the time we are caught up in daydreaming.

If I were to claim that I'm the master of my mind, first I would have to be fully aware of the workings of the mind and then I would have to be in control of the mind processes.

Now, that's obviously not the case. So, is that good or bad? It's the way it is, let's accept our inherent nature. Flowing with life makes us feel at ease, by resisting, we create our own unhappiness.

The Present Moment

There is a way out of this ongoing state of daydreaming through meditation. It's about relaxed awareness of the present moment, anchoring your attention in the here-and-now, aligning the mind with the activities you're involved in and being aware of sense impressions and thoughts as they arise.

The fruits of the practice include happiness and wellbeing. Take your first step along this path by downloading these free guided meditations. Let me guide you to a state of deep relaxation which effectively dissolves physical and mental tension. Touch upon the present moment and see what meditation can do for you. No previous experience needed, practice makes perfect...

Best of luck!

Related:   Psychology And Spirituality   Subtle Intuitions   Mindfulness Explained

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