Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. What a load of crap. I think, therefore I am not would be more fitting.
Seriously, has your brain ever made your life easier? Incessant thought, evaluation, sowing doubt, seperation and judgement?
Yeah, the brain is a bitch.
So I thought. But it is really not.
It is a powerful tool, when used properly for the right things. Try hammering a nail with a screwdriver (I actually used a rock lying around in my apartment). Doesn’t work really well. But screwing, well, it does that pretty well.
And so does your brain.
The brain gives you the ability to selectively probe into specific parts of your experience, thereby structuring them, establishing patterns that might be recognized later and thus enabling us to learn and respond faster in similar situations. Analysis, memory, recall, sequencing, pattern recognition fuse outside stimuli with an awareness of inner states.
The problem that we have is that this process tends to become self-referential, preemptive and compulsive. The brain becomes the master, not the servant, the tool it is intended to be.
Largely responsible for this is the amount of information we are bombarded with. Food for compulsive thinking. The brain functions are overloaded, not fast enough to cope. The information avalanche is perceived as a threat. It triggers fear and a specific fight-or-flight response that supresses higher brain function. The reptilian brain takes over, triggering a stress response. Game over.
So what can we do?
A good strategy to use the brain is to have an experience fully and completely without your mind intervening, then using your brain to analyse what happened.
Every time you enter a mall for instance, you are bombarded with stimuli. There are too many people. Too many things to assess all at once. Your thought routines are overloaded.
This is a good starting point. Use focus and meditation exercise to practise shutting down these thought routines completely. Have an experience. Let everything flow through you. Don’t get attached to anything. Just register what is going on. Kid with an ice cream cone, next. Beautiful woman, next. Hm, donuts, next. Just watch reality like a fast slide show. Watch out for your emotional response and your bodily sensations.
Body, heart and sound are prior to thought.
Then, at home, quietly sipping a tea, analyse at will. Write that down. Share it with others. And find joy in it.
Use the brain for what it is ultimately for: imagination.
Have a great week.