As I build a meditation habit I am becoming more and more convinced that we have very little control over who we are and what we do.
Most of the time we are on auto-pilot driven by a brain that has become so conditioned by our habitual behaviour that it has become self directing. We simply keep running on our own little hamster wheel turning it over again and again without even knowing it’s there.
An important finding in Neurology is that the brain learns through experience, it wires itself. This ability is called plasticity and it is how our habits and habitual behaviour become hard wired in our brain.
We are all programmed at birth with human needs and desires, it’s how our species survive. We also live in a technical world driven by an ever increasing level of distraction. The choices we make are driven at a subconscious level by our desires and distractions and as a consequence they wire a brain that repeats and reinforces the same behaviour. Slowly and surely we construct our own small hamster wheel making it more and more rigid.
Is it any wonder that Jon Kabat Zinn believes;
one of the most difficult things in the world, if not the most difficult thing in the world for us human beings to do, is to be present in our own lives, and to be kind and less judgmental of ourselves. That’s why it’s worth doing. It’s worth practicing.
Mindfulness is the Art of being present in our own lives, it’s the quality of nonjudgmental awareness.
If we can accept that we have a brain that we have spent the entirety of our lives reinforcing into its present state, then we can be more compassionate and realistic about how difficult it is for us to change.
What is most encouraging is that the same ability of the brain to wire itself through experience allows us to rewire it through the self directed practice of mindfulness.
In so doing we can achieve what Jon Kabat Zinn explains as:
Which means we have a lot more freedom to transform our organism, and our life experience, and attain some degree of profound well-being and satisfaction than what we ever thought.
What that means for me is, “the most difficult thing in the world” is well worth doing. Even if it means picking myself up and dusting myself down every time I fall off the wagon, which seems to happen a lot.
If only there was a safety belt to keep me mindful. But there isn’t!