Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Tag

Good People, With Good Causes, Suck You In

Believe in your own thought. You do as you feel when you feel it is right. If you believe in yourself you do not have to depend on others to think for you. State aloud your sleeping conviction that is inside you waiting to come out so that they could be universally accepted; for in due time, the inmost becomes the outermost and our first thought will come back to us at the end when it is too late to do anything about it. Speak not what others want you to speak but what you think. Learn to identify and observe that non-directional light that is feeble and unsteady which flashes across your mind from within, more than the stars light of all the poets and philosophers. Our own thoughts are more important for ourselves at least more than all the thoughts of poets and philosophers. We dismiss our thoughts only to recognize it when it comes back to us with a certain alienated majesty from others. We should pay attention to our own thoughts, impressions, observations, and insights. There is one big difference between great poets and thinkers of the past and ourselves and that is they are all dead and we are alive. Stand by your spontaneous impression with a cool detachment to the whole cry of voices on the other side. Else, tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what you have thought and felt all the time, and you shall be forced to take with shame your own opinion from another. It is so easy to fall in line and do all the things that the society associates with a perfect life. It is the good people, with good causes, who can really suck you in.

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Give Shape and Meaning to Life

Looking at the sad struggles of our world and reflecting on this desire to have meaning in our lives, to devote ourselves to some great cause, it could seem that being human such vows are impossible for us to ever fully achieve. I feel it is like getting a chance to re-live my life in richer and better way, once I can see the frailty and error of my old self.

Allowing my desire to devote my life to some good cause and the rule I set to regulate my behavior or thought is organizing principle of my life. The universe will give us all the great causes to hurl ourselves at, but hopefully we will be lucky to avoid such heroic external challenges. Whatever happens to our life, whoever and wherever we find ourselves, we cannot shake off our own, in part illusory, but persistent, self that seems to follow us like a shadow. I have too often punished myself for not changing the world, but overlooked the ever-present challenge of changing myself.

At the start of each New Year, we are encouraged to use arbitrary new start to reflect on our old life and, with renewed insight into our human frailties, start over and live by different rules; setting resolutions for the ‘new-me’ to whom we aspire. It seems to me our vows to adhere to the rule intended to regulate our behavior or thought actually give us not so much commandments to beat ourselves with, but rather, simply, beautiful words, a way to embrace our lives, cultivating the courage to live freely and creatively.

For me, to my surprise I realize that I no longer needed to hold out on my old thought. Rather, the simple act of accepting the rule intended to regulate my behavior or thought and say yes to life, is to encourage my life to vibrate in a new way. Of course nothing changes, but we always have a moment by moment opportunity to reshape our lives. Those vows help me to stop being the jerk I sometimes feel, and reset the compass, and at least aspire to live my life in richer and better way.

Posted February 10, 2017 by dranilj1 in BODY_MIND_HEART_SPIRIT

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Daydreaming and Attention Lapses

It is common in many everyday situations to suddenly notice that, for some time, we have been focusing on thoughts and feelings that are unrelated to what we are doing. These often unintentional mental states are examples of daydreaming, attention lapses, or mind wandering. During mind wandering, performance of the primary task ceases to be supervised by our attention and, instead, proceeds automatically. Our attention switches from the primary task, and our private thoughts become the focus of awareness. Because mind wandering involves a focus on internal information, these episodes involve a state of decoupled processing, as indicated by its relation to encoding. The experience of catching mind wandering indicates that we often lack awareness that one is off task. The failure to recognize that one is off task suggests that mind wandering involves a temporary failure in the ability to reflect upon the content of one’s own mental state.

If we are unaware that we are off task, we cannot acknowledge that we are mind wandering. In the absence of awareness that one is mind wandering, we cannot instantiate the control processes necessary to remedy the consequences of off-task episodes on performance. However, if we are aware that we are mind wandering, our behavior becomes more flexible, because we can strategically account for some of the negative consequences of off-task experiences.

Thinking about thinking mean you are in a conscious state thinking about your situational awareness. It may not come intuitively or automatically for us to be consciously thinking about our situational awareness while fulfilling all our duties and responsibilities at an emergency scene, but if we are able to elevate awareness to the conscious level, then awareness becomes as important as anything else we may be doing or thinking about. Situational awareness is an individual’s ability to perceive clues and cues about what is happening in his or her environment and to understand the meaning of those clues and cues in the context of how time is passing and then be able to make accurate predictions about future events to avoid bad outcomes.

Contemplate by Jayne Booton

Via Flickr:

This image suits my own mood well at the moment. My Granddaughter sat looking at this little rock flower, deep in thought for many minutes – she is not really old enough to tell me just what she was thinking.
Sorry I haven’t been around much – still taking photos but it seems that other than my family shots at the moment nothing excites or pleases me, all more of the same old stuff, think I need a kick up the bum. Have tried to pop in and out to comment – will catch up properly with you all soon, sorry I am a bit of a misery!

Posted May 23, 2015 by dranilj1 in Landscape

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Faltering Lines and Insecure Distances

The inner life has its soft and gentle beauty; an abstract formlessness as well as a subtle charm like a figure in a foggy painting with faltering lines, insecure distances, and a merging of grey and black. An emotion or a mood is a mere wisp of color that is shaded off and made to spread until it becomes one with all that surrounds it.

Whatever we do not know, in order to conceal our limitations or hide our imperfections, we either say that it is non-existent or we will say it is an abstract. In the universe, whatever comes within the scope of our senses or within the periphery of our perception, we say, “It is,” and whatever is beyond the arena of the senses or jurisdiction of perception, we cannot say anything. Hence, our world functions within the limitations of our senses and perceptions.

In the realm of cosmic introvert or extrovert phase, “subtle” is transmuted into “crude”, and “crude” is metamorphosed into “subtle”. In this progress, there are subtler objects in the scope of matter – many objects subtler than electrons or protons or positrons, but we find no alternative but to say that they are either electron or proton or positron or neutron. Similarly in the psychic sphere, there may be entities subtler than ectoplasm or its extra-psychic coverage, endoplasm.

There are entities which come within the realm of both physicality and psychic expressions which are smaller or subtler than atoms, electrons or protons, and in the psychic realm may be subtler than ectoplasm. For such objects or entities which come within the realms both of physicality and of psychic expression and smaller and subtler than physical atoms and subatomic particles, and in the psychic realm they can be subtler than mind–stuff, and contribute to "pure consciousness."

They may not be of the same density or subtlety. Some of them may come within the range of a highly developed microscope; others, by their expression, faculty or vibrations come within the scope of our perception. They are of subtler order. There may be still more subtle forms which may not come directly within the scope of our perception but may come within the scope of a special type of perception which is actually the reflection of conception within the range of perception in a limited sphere.

Special perception may be felt or realized by persons having highly developed, spiritual minds. By dint of our spiritual practice, our minds will develop in all strata, and the power of conception will also develop and we can know the secrets of these mysterious cosmic factors.

Posted June 11, 2014 by dranilj1 in Introverts

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New Ways Of Thinking About Life’s Travails


When to engage with negative feelings and when to ignore them? One of the cornerstones of alcoholism recovery is a concept called emotional abstinence. The idea is that alcoholics and other addicts hoping to stay abstemious over the long haul must learn to regulate the negative feelings that can lead to discomfort, craving and ultimately relapse. Doing so is a lifelong project and requires cultivating a whole new way of thinking about life’s travails.

But the recovery literature also says “first things first;” which simply means “don’t drink.” Especially in the early days of recovery, alcoholics are counseled not to analyze why they are addicted or how they might have avoided alcoholism: “Don’t think and don’t drink” is the maxim. Take it one day at a time and do whatever works: prayer, exercise or meetings to distract the mind from the compulsion to pick up a glass.

These approaches represent two very different kinds of emotional regulation, when you consider it. Distraction is unthinking and it amounts to cognitive disengagement from thoughts of alcohol and the anxiety of craving by any means possible. It is a blunt instrument in the toolbox of recovery. In contrast, long-term emotional abstinence requires the slow, steady rethinking about all the people, places and things that once did and could again throw them off kilter. Research suggests that a healthy mind deftly flips between these techniques when facing unpleasant emotions. By studying these mechanisms, researchers are beginning to understand how people cope with painful feelings and what goes wrong when those skills are missing.

Recovery programs teach these fundamental principles of emotional regulation because addicts do not know them intuitively. But the techniques apparently do come naturally to many healthy people. At least that is the conclusion of some recent studies by psychological scientist Gal Sheppes of Stanford University and his colleagues who have been examining the strategies that people choose for dealing with negative emotions of different kinds and intensities. The researchers had preconceived idea that people process different kinds of emotional information in the two ways described in recovery literature; either by blocking it entirely or by thinking about it carefully in an effort to reevaluate it. For example, if an experience or thought were especially intense and threatening, people would nip it in the bud early. They would simply disengage and not pay attention, in that way blocking negativity from awareness, much as newly recovering alcoholics are advised to do. This technique would keep potent negative thoughts from ever gaining force.

Healthy people facing milder negative emotions, on the other hand, would not block them out. These emotions would be regulated by a second cognitive mechanism, which applies more elaborate processing to these unpleasant feelings in an effort to render them harmless. But first, the negative thoughts and emotions must be stored in memory for reappraisal and reinterpretation. Healthy people tend to distract themselves quickly from intense emotional experiences, and in contrast, they tend to engage with milder, less threatening experiences to diffuse their emotional power. Switching strategies is a normal, healthy way of dealing with negativity in life. Distraction, as a strategy for emotional regulation, works by not allowing the emotional information to enter memory at all.

As reported in the online edition of Psychological Science in September, we are much more likely to opt for a reappraisal strategy “this one won’t be so bad” when confronting an unpleasant but tolerable negative emotions, and we are much more likely to try distracting ourselves when anticipating a strong and intensely painful negative emotions. In short, people generally have the cognitive flexibility to adapt their regulatory choices for the situation at hand.

The finding that people naturally choose to engage with only mildly unpleasant emotions is not surprising. Reinterpretation of emotional events has long been known to be an effective coping strategy, and it is often taught as a part of cognitive-behavior therapy. The findings on distraction, however, run contrary to a long-held view that it is important to engage with intense emotional challenges and that avoiding or “repressing” them is harmful. This interpretation has been steadily losing ground. Evidence is mounting that, under extremely adverse conditions, some emotional disengagement may indeed be tonic. This approach appears to be true for disaster victims; for people with severe, ruminating depression; and of course, for alcoholics in early recovery.

Changing Minds

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Changing Minds

Almost half a century ago social psychologist Leon Festinger developed the cognitive dissonance theory. The theory has obviously stood the test of time in that it is mentioned in most general and social psychology textbooks today. The theory is somewhat counterintuitive and, in fact, fits into a category of counterintuitive social psychology theories sometimes referred to as action-opinion theories. The fundamental characteristic of action opinion theories is that they propose that actions can influence subsequent beliefs and attitudes. This is counterintuitive in that it would seem logical that our actions are the result of our beliefs and attitudes, not the cause of them. However, on further examination of these types of theories have great intuitive appeal in that the theories, particularly cognitive dissonance, address the pervasive human tendency to rationalize.

Cognitive dissonance theory is based on these fundamental assumptions. Humans are sensitive to inconsistencies between actions and beliefs. According to the theory, we all recognize, at some level, when we are acting in a way that is inconsistent with our beliefs, attitudes, and opinions. In effect, there is a built in alarm that goes off when we notice such an inconsistency, whether we like it or not. For example, if you have a belief that it is wrong to cheat, yet you find yourself cheating on a test, you will notice and be affected by this inconsistency. Recognition of this inconsistency will cause dissonance, and will motivate an individual to resolve the dissonance. Once you recognize that you have violated one of your principles, according to this theory, you won’t just say “oh well”. You will feel some sort of mental anguish about this. The degree of dissonance, of course, will vary with the importance of your belief, attitude, and principle and with the degree of inconsistency between your behavior and this belief. In any case, according to the theory, the greater the dissonance the more you will be motivated to resolve it.

Dissonance will be resolved in one of three basic ways. Perhaps, the simplest way to resolve dissonance between actions and beliefs is simply to change your beliefs. You could, of course, just decide that cheating is okay. This would take care of any dissonance. However, if the belief is fundamental and important to you such a course of action is unlikely. Moreover, our basic beliefs and attitudes are pretty stable, and people don’t just go around changing basic beliefs, attitudes and opinions all the time, since we rely a lot on our world view in predicting events and organizing our thoughts. Therefore, though this is the simplest option for resolving dissonance it’s probably not the most common.

A second option would be to make sure that you never do this action again. Lord knows that guilt and anxiety can be motivators for changing behavior. So, you may say to yourself that you will never cheat on a test again, and this may aid in resolving the dissonance. However, aversive conditioning that is to say guilt and anxiety can often be a pretty poor way of learning, especially if you can train yourself not to feel these things. Plus, you may really benefit in some way from the action that’s inconsistent with your beliefs. So, the trick would be to get rid of this feeling without changing your beliefs or your actions, and this leads us to the third, and probably most common, method of resolution.

A third and more complex method of resolution is to change the way you view, remember, and perceive your action. In more colloquial terms, you would rationalize your actions. For example, you might decide that the test you cheated on was for a dumb class that you didn’t need anyway. You may say to yourself that everyone cheats so why not you? In other words, you think about your action in a different manner or context so that it no longer appears to be inconsistent with your actions. If you reflect on this series of mental gymnastics for a moment, you will probably recognize why cognitive dissonance has come to be so popular. If you’re like me, you notice such post-hoc rationalizations of behavior on the part of others all the time, though it’s not so common to see it in one’s self.

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