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Raising Global Consciousness

Divide and Conquer: How the Essence of Mindfulness Parallels the Nuts and Bolts of Science

If you have an hour to spare and want to learn how mindfulness meditation and yoga work from both a generic level and scientific basis then I highly recommend this talk given by Shinzen at Google earlier this year.

I am trained as a Chemical Engineer and have a natural affinity to the scientific method and the concepts of energy and transforming things. And this effects the way I see the world and teach yoga.

The key points that Shinzen brings up are.

  1. The skills that we learn in Yoga / mindfulness meditation are generic and Foundational - this means that they are skills that can be used in all areas of life and are key leverage skills.
  2. The three skills that Shinzen mentions that are built in meditation are concentration, clarity and equanimity
  3. Shinzen’s definition of concentration is the same as the definition of the state of yoga - it is the capacity to focus the mind exclusively on any object or subject and sustain this focus for as long as you like without getting distracted by anything. It is Shinzen’s experience that meditation can raise base line concentration - the level of concentration available in daily life - by 200% to 300% . With this level of increased baseline concentration it is possible to increase your life by 50 years. What he means by this is that the amount of extra stuff you will be able to get done with a 3 fold increase in base line concentration is the amount of stuff that would take you 50 years to achieve without the increase. Using the metaphor of a TV, concentration is the capacity to dial into a specific station/channel and stay there.
  4. Clarity is the capacity to see subtle detail. Staying with the television metaphor, think of how much more detail you can see on a wide screen TV with high definitional digital than on a 13 inch TV with normal reception. Clarity allows us to see the subtle relationships that exist between things in life and in our minds that are “invisible” with normal baseline clarity.
  5. Equanimity is the capacity to choose to remain un - reactive to what comes to us in life. Without mindfulness and clarity we mostly respond to life unconsciously without even realising this. As we get more skilful in meditation we gain the clarity to see and feel this normally unconscious process on a moment by moment basis. This gives us the choice to choose how we react. Life is lived with less internal and external resistance and conflict.
  6. How much time will you need to invest in practice to get these skills - Shinzen says 30 minutes every day with one 4 hour session each month. Not much for an extra 50 years!

Divide and Conquer: How the Essence of Mindfulness Parallels the Nuts and Bolts of Science