Here is the second of three parts summarizing my book Instant Enlightenment, Awakening Your States of Mind.
Chapter 5 – Thinking
Meta Thinking / Images / Words / Thoughts / Acts of Will / Hearing / Comprehending / Reason / Continuity / Internal Dialog / Social Bonding / Volition and Control / Groups / Minds / Context / Intentions / Needs / Emotions / Integrity / Perception / Deception / Results / Thoughts Aren’t Reality / Beyond What You Think / Give Rhythm a Try / Obligations of Learning
Thinking about thinking, or meta-thinking, might be uniquely human, except that most humans don’t do it. Meta-thinking is not just talking to yourself or passing judgment, it’s reflecting on your whole cognitive process: thoughts, emotions and sensations.
Meta-thinking requires having some way to make sense of experiences that are not based on reasons, words, structures, or sequences. Meta-thinking is an examination of self, memory, and meaning. It means you don’t assume anything. It is the questioning of questioning itself.
Our personalities are built on patterns and protocol, and our sense of self is built from reason and perception. We use these tools to compare what we see with what we remember. This enables us to move forward. When we question everything, including time and space, we start to disentangle our relationships from our preconceptions.
It’s not that our preconceptions are wrong, it’s rather that they describe us more than they describe the world. There is no time or space, there are only events, and the space of events is larger than space-time.
We can think outside these concepts, but to do so means navigating a larger reality. This jump takes you outside language and logic, into a realm of expanded reason and subtle communication. We feel out of control in this larger nontemporal, nonspatial world, but situations make more sense and relationships are deeper.
Chapter 6 – Sensing
Perception / External Awareness / Interoception / Currents / Resonance / Pulse / Arousal / Lungs / Heart / Anger / Elimination / Creativity / Attention / Internal Awareness / Language / Summary
To be whole requires seeing the whole, but we tend to focus on details. We can reduce the project of being holistic and, by that means, learn holism reductively. This is like solving a jigsaw puzzle, as we repeatedly narrow and expand our focus. We create something that is larger than our focus.
The apparent obstacle to greater understanding is a lack of knowing more, but the real obstacle is a lack of feeling more. It is our emotions that are wholistic, not our intellect. It’s not a question of emotional versus intellectual, we need to combine them.
Our sensations are disparaged as bestial. They are discouraged by intellectuals, rejected by clerics, ignored by managers, overlooked by counselors, and debased by the media. Yet, sensations are a key to our mental and physical health. They are the means by which our thinking body speaks to us.
Our sensations bridge thought and emotion and join them both. The very process is holistic: it requires a combination of thought, feeling, memory, and imagination. When you build a reality that combines these, each becomes more fluid.
Working these elements together is a key to greater awareness. This is reflected in spiritual traditions that engage intellect through study, emotions through spirit, and the body through action. All of us can do this; we don’t need to join a monastery.
Chapter 7 – Feeling
The Delusion of Personality / Game of Intellect / Disrespect of Emotions / Neurology / Autonomy / Negative Affect / Positive Affect / Positive Maintenance / What You Know and What You Are/ Acquaintance and Discovery / Emotion as a Whole Being / Intellect and Emotion / Strength and Weakness / Trust and Distrust / Light and Dark / Good and Bad Behavior / Positive and Negative / Love and Death
Any normal personality feels like it’s a singular thing. In spite of changes in mood, attitude, memory, emotions, and experience, we are always ready to own, explain, or excuse as temporary our varied states. The resolutions we make in one frame of mind do not convince us when we’re in another. Our contrary behaviors reflect our unreconciled states.
We all speak with one voice and perform with one body. It is natural and necessary to assign to each of us one mind. But we do not really have one mind; we alternate among several in a way that’s similar to how we change our clothes.
No one would think you were a different person when you dress differently, nor does anyone want to believe you’re different because you change your mind. Our notions of sanity, responsibility, and our rules of behavior are based on our being present and responsible for ourselves.
The stability of our relationships depends on the freedom we’re allowed for growth and change. Regardless of how unchanging we feel ourselves to be, everything changes, and we change too.
The ego is a constellation of personalities moving in and out of the spotlight. We become adept as spokespeople for the voices that speak through us, but we do not see from a single point of view. Some aspects of our individual personalities are in conflict, yet, as flagrant as they might be, we don’t see these contradictions.
You can get to know your states. You can allow them to express themselves as fully different people, but you’ll need to create a supportive environment. In trance, under hypnosis, in illness, or under duress, we can encounter our multiplicity. While malleable to some extent, some of these experiences change us permanently.
The incommensurate personalities of the members of our families reflect an attempt at collecting complementary attitudes. Not only is life a stage, but so are families and our minds. We internalize our families into parts of ourselves, and even though we each speak with one voice, we speak from many minds.
Chapter 8 – Recollecting
Memory / Placement / Context / Not from Nothing / Rhythms of Memory / What Memory is For / Thinking Versus Remembering / Remembering the Future / Facts and Phantoms / Imagery / Command and Control / Now and Not Now / Emergence / Believing Your Imagination / What Others Think
Memory is the scaffolding that gives us the ability to exist across time. Memory is everything, but less substantial than we presume.
We retain memories, and we have a sense that we have memory, which is to say we have the feeling that we have a history even when we are not thinking about it. Memories are stored in a myriad of forms, and we can be perfectly functional in retaining some while entirely losing others.
Our sense of recollection is distorted. No one doubts they had a childhood or were busy last week, but we have few accessible memories about anything. Even when we think we remember, such as when we convene with friends and agree about the past, little is remembered. Yet, these few memories hold our personalities in place.
We’re poor at remembering complex situations; emotional situations confuse us. We remember signs and signals, but these are mnemonic rather than explanatory. We remember events according to their conclusion, but when putting together the big picture, we don’t have all the pieces. We only know how we feel about them.
You are not who you remember yourself to be. There is much you’ve forgotten, and much you make up according to how you see the world today. Once you see how your preconceptions mislead you, you create a more authentic reflection of yourself and a more accurate picture of others.
This post doesn’t conclude because there’s one more installment to come. Chapter 9 is titled “Containing.”
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