The main idea of Mindfulness meditation is about observing thoughts. We do not try to control, analyse or judge the thoughts that go through our mind. Instead, we observe them for exactly what they are. Thoughts do not control or define us. We learn to look at thoughts in a detached way. Most of the time, we think that thoughts are part of us and define us. What if I tell you that they are not?
Most of the thoughts that come to our minds come from whatever we are reading, watching or what people have been telling us. They can be part of our belief system, our upbringing or even education. Do they really define who we are? Are they part of our authentic self? Once we realise that thoughts are not exactly part of our inner being, we view them as just thoughts and we are freed from them in a certain way. It’s the best moment as a practitioner when students realise this the first time.
We do not ignore the thoughts though, no matter how disturbing they can be. In Mindfulness, we do not say that all is love and light and put things under the carpet. Well, it’s not what I teach anyway. We welcome the distracting thoughts, sensations or physical discomfort we are experiencing in the present moment and accept them.
We do so because whenever we resist emotions we are feeling in the body, we make things worse. It is totally fine to be angry, sad, vulnerable and so on. Acknowldeging how we are feeling helps us to know where we need to work on and gives guidance on where the knots are so that we are work on them.
In our my next blog, I am going to explore ways of increasing awareness through deep breathing and teach some simple techniques you can try on a daily basis.
As an objectivist, I have always used Mathematics and logic to make sense of reality and not get trapped in the subjectivity of human perception. I still believe that it’s an amazing tool which can improve communication, bring peace and help humanity by evidence based solution free from bias. In this short article, I will introduce the main philosophies of Mathematics and look at where we are ruining such an amazing system with our own limitations.
Platonist and Non Platonist approaches
It’s important that we try to define Mathematics before we put bias in the equation. There are two categories of Mathematicians: Platonists and Non- Platonists. Platonists look at Mathematics in almost a romantic way. Mathematics is found everywhere and was always present. In fact, Mathematics is the essence of everything. Platonists believe that Mathematics was not invented and the whole existence is in fact digital, in a way. There are so many ways we can support this idea. Particles are probability distributions, there are patterns in nature and human beings are just an operating system using senses that take data, analyse and act. Non-Platonists think that Mathematics is a set of rules created by humans to make sense of the world. For non-Platonists the world would exist without Mathematics.
How do we balance both approaches?
Let’s say we bring a poet, an artist and a Mathematician in a room and we give each of them a sunflower. The poet will write about love, the beauty of the flower and mankind. The artist will appreciate the colors and textures. The Mathematician will conclude that the petals follow a Fibonacci sequence. Is any of the approaches wrong? I don’t think so. They are all ways of looking at the world and valid for the human experience.
Mathematics as the Pure and Impartial study
Let’s consider social sciences and Mathematics. Social sciences are about the study of people and their relationships in a society. It’s cultural and will vary across the globe. In Mathematics, we can solve an equation in any way we want if it leads to the answer. The same differential equation will be interpreted in the same way by all the different people in the world. In this way, Mathematics is a universal language. Mathematics isn’t affected by beliefs, feelings or the culture of a given country. However, there can be misuse of methods. For example, in data analysis, people can choose to ignore outliers or just use the mean and not comment on the standard deviation because it gives the right message. So, the problem is not the Mathematics in this case but the intent of the people using the Mathematics.
Mathematics, Big Data, Algorithm and Human nature
While Mathematics is unflawed, the results we may get after using Mathematics can be biased if the input data is flawed. We use Mathematics and Algorithms to crunch big data and make decisions. Big data is about massive data mined from the internet and analysed so that better decisions can be made based on consumer patterns and what’s really happening in the world. The three main sources of data are social data, machine data and transactional data. All seems perfect so far but let’s look at some results now. I am going to summarise results from Brown’s (2017) article on Forbes
An online ad for “$200k+ Jobs – Execs Only” is shown to 1816 men, but only 311 women.
Ads suggestive of arrest (“Trevon Jones, Arrested?…”.) are far more likely to show up on searches for names associated with blacks, such as DeShawn, than on searches for names associated with whites, such as Geoffrey.
Since the Algorithm only executes based on three sources of data mentioned above, it only suggests that we have an already flawed system with inadequate behaviour patterns as human beings. The machine is mining imperfection and providing imperfect results in a very perfect way. I’d conclude that Mathematics is still pure and impartial and it’s the human nature which isn’t as perfect as the Mathematics.
For the movie’s 13th anniversary, we are going to talk about the dark knight movie. Christopher Nolan’s dark knight movie is considered as a masterpiece by many people including the famous director, Steven Spielberg. Spielberg even said that the movie was a piece of art. The movie had 159 wins and 163 nominations. The movie is so abstract that it will be hard to talk about everything. Therefore, I am going to focus on the ending of the movie which to me is so powerful. I see three important aspects in the ending of the movie. These are the no killing rule, the ability to face the truth and the essence of a great leader/hero.
The no killing rule: Harvey’s death
While trying to save Gordon’s son, Batman accidentally kills Harvey. This scene has been criticized a lot by fans as Batman isn’t supposed to kill. However, it points to something important here. The will to act in adversity is fundamental. When there is an oppressor, violence may be the only way out. For example, if someone tries to break into your house and tries to kill you, you must defend yourself. The US Navy seals go through a process called dehumanization where the enemy is not considered an equal human, and this allows killing to happen in a war. For example, in Iraq, the soldiers were okay with shooting rapists and criminals. In an ideal world, we would not need to kill but in a realistic world, we may need to.
2. The ability to face the truth
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain”. This is the famous quote from the movie which Batman uses again while talking to Gordon in the final scene. This statement is so deep. The more we learn about the world, the nature of humans and the manipulation that exists, the less we want to trust people. It can make us become like a sort of villain. Do we have the guts to look at the ugly side of life and keep moving positively? If people of Gotham knew Harvey turned evil, they’d lose all hope. That’s why Batman took all the blame. However, Batman says that people need to have their faith rewarded. Sometimes, the truth isn’t good enough. What does that mean? Throughout history, many people killed out of greed for power or because of ideologies. Hitler and Stalin killed so many people. Right now, in North Korea, mothers are selling their children as sex slaves to China because it’s a better life for them rather than die of starvation in Korea. Do we want to wake up to this truth every day? The challenge is about trying to make the world a better place while still acknowledging all of this is happening too.
3. Qualities of a great leader: He’s the silent guardian, the watchful protector and the dark knight
All the actions of batman are guided by the philosophy of doing the right thing for the people of Gotham even if it is done at his own expense. If taking all the blame was good for Gotham, he’d do it. It’s such a great leadership quality when we put others above us. It is also a great act of love, honour and self-respect. How many of our actions have a selfish motive? Thinking about it makes us reflect and really calibrate our actions again. Gordon also mentions that the police will hunt batman and condemn him, but he can take it. This shows the level of endurance, resilience, and inner strength we need to have if we are going to live a life of high ideals and purpose just like the dark knight.
I hope that you found the insights interesting. Much love, Geerish.
Happiness is the one thing everyone is chasing whether it’s through objects, relationships, job titles, external validation, our bank accounts and the list is endless. However, what if we rethink of it in the following way:
We don’t become happy when we acquire. We become happy when we stay significant and let go of desire.
We dont become happy when we feel superior. We become happy by being a great contributor.
We don’t become happy when we criticise. We become happy when we help people rise.
So, let’s redefine happiness. We just live once and happiness is the one thing which everyone wants and deserves to experience.
My own resilience as a person and my willingness to uplift and influence people comes from my time battling illness, depression and manipulation and one thing I can say is that those experiences either break or make you and you do become someone who was made out of these experiences. In this article, I am going to talk about some people who went through some dark times, study their Psyche and analyze how they overcame their tragedies.
The first case we are going to study is Victoria Milligan, a mother who lost her husband and eight-year-old daughter on a speedboat accident in May 2013. In the same accident. she got her left leg amputated and her son who survived had to go through 15 operations to save his left leg.
What saved her?
Support from family, friends and therapists.
Victoria got help from her closed ones and had guidance from professional practitioners too.
To overcome painful events, we need to get maximum support from our close ones and professionals. In some parts of the world, mental health is still not taken seriously or there might be a stigma attached to it. However, no one can function properly if the mental state is not fine and it’s absolutely fine to talk about it with your closed ones or get professional help from therapists who are qualified and have the experience helping people overcome traumatic events.
2. Natural disposition to talk about one’s emotions to others
Victoria talked about how she felt without any embarrassment or fear of being judged. I think that it’s very important to find someone who is a good listener and at the same time someone who will not judge whatever you are sharing. There are actually two sides to this one as only you should get the courage to overcome the tragedy but you should also not refuse the support that you may get from those people who are close to you and actually care about you. One danger of living through tragedy is closing on oneself. No one will heal if we don’t take the thing which is eating us out and we shouldn’t be ashamed and feel embarrassed by what we lived. You will notice that in the intro, I bluntly wrote what I went through because I hardly care about what people might think about it. It’s the truth and I don’t mind sharing such truths if they inspire people
3. Knowing how much love there was in your life before the tragedy
Victoria said that she has no regrets. She doesn’t regret not being able to say goodbye to her daughter and husband a last time. She said that they knew how much she loved them and that is all that mattered. When a person dies, the relationship with the person doesn’t end. It just changes. The human brain is wired in a way that it will remember the sad and painful parts of the past. However, it doesn’t need to be like that. What is important is the quality of the moments which were spent with your closed ones. There should be no regret felt if you have lived your life fully.
4. You can’t get over grief. You get used to its presence.
As per Victoria, the pain never goes. You just learn how to live with it. I believe that the most used phrase that “time will heal everything” is very much overrated. What happens is that we change ourselves in such a way that we learn how to cope with the loss but the loss is real and we will always feel something is missing. However, what happens is that we learn to live with the emotion and we don’t let the tragedy consume our lives.
5. Set small achievable goals and be in the moment
Victoria really took life slowly after her loss. She said that she was not living each day as it comes but living each hour of the day as it comes. She wasn’t overthinking what the future was going to bring and she focused on small aims like saving his son’s legs, learning to walk with a Prosthetic or going to the girls’ sports day. She looked forward to each event as they came and made the most out of them. This is a very important lesson as we are currently going through the Covid-19 virus spread and there may be a tendency to just focus on when everything will be normal rather than take each day as it comes and be grateful for still being alive.
I hope that you found the article interesting. If you’d prefer the same content condensed in a podcast, please refer to the following link:
It’s sometimes very hard to find time to meditate if you have a very hectic lifestyle. The video emphasizes on the one minute meditation practice and explains the “breathing into the fist” practice. Hope you enjoy it.
Along with ethical conduct and Mental discipline, developing Wisdom is an important aspect towards enlightenment.
Mental discipline allows the mind to settle and makes us become more aware. Being aware of one’s thoughts and emotions helps us to understand ourselves and others better.
Once this is attained, we understand deeper truths like Impermanence and no self. In the process, we develop the ability to challenge everything in our quest for knowledge and understanding, even our own beliefs and inner conditioning. We explore in more detail in the podcast attached.
Sila means the ethical conduct and is one of the pillars of Buddhism. The ethical conduct can be broken into right speech, right action and right livelihood. All the three of them are components of the eight fold path.
In the podcast below, the importance of balancing the heart properties with the mind properties in order to create the perfect human being is discussed.
If a caregiver isn’t always present for a child, the latter can possibly develop an anxious attachment style. In this case, as an adult, the person may think that it’s important to cling to others for dear life or else, the person will lose the people around himself/herself. The following podcast goes over this aspect. https://www.spreaker.com/episode/21214106
Our own Insecurities as adults can potentially be traced from early childhood. It can go as far as the time when our primary caregiver, most of the time, our parents had to be there for us.
In this podcast, we explore how the absence of our primary caregiver forms the belief that people will never be there for us. As adults, this gets deeply into our psyche and we end up not trusting people and thinking that people do not care and it’s not worth trusting them. Hence, we sabotage our relations and happiness in this way.
Fear prevents us from reaching our full potential. In the previous series of podcasts, we traced back the fear from early childhood experiences and also explored the effects of PTSD in creating a fearful persona. In this podcast, we explore the most common fears experienced by us and we explain a great technique called Aware which will help you to overcome fear when you experience it. I hope that you find the information very useful.