Train of Thought

ON MEDITATION

​”Meditation is to dive all the way within, beyond thought, to the source of thought and pure consciousness. It enlarges the container, every time you transcend. When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.”

David Lynch

Why bother? Meditation is not an easy thing, it feels somewhat boring to really calm an active mind whose biological history meant it was not to be calm but, active and attentive to the ever-present dangers around it. 

It takes time and it takes energy for one. It also takes determination and a lot of discipline. It requires a host of personal qualities which we normally regard as unpleasant and which we like to avoid whenever possible.

Meditation, despite this is a way of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are meant to encourage, strengthen, develop concentration, character, clarity, emotional positivity and as well as build a connection with the true nature of things.

By engaging with a particular meditation practice they learn the patterns, structures and habits of their minds, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being, as it said to bring deeper meaning and perspective to you and how you relate to the universe.

Buddhism teaches that it is the only real cure to our own personal sorrows, anxieties, fears, hatreds, and general confusions that affects the human life and condition. 

Why rather bother at all? For one, I do understand that am not a master of the art, but I do embrace, its core need or importance in the busy 21st century rush hour life. Each inhalation and exhalation is tracked with focused attention. When meditating, it’s important to identify the in-breath as the in-breath, and the out-breath as out-breath. 

The mental discourse begins to subside as one embraces the serenity of pausing and being present, letting go for a brief yet, meaningful moment the reality of things.

Calming the chaos or the “monkey mind”, a swift pause from all the bullshit is a good and noble practice, but of course, if you live in this modern jungle one must not aspire or desire to stay there.

 Meditation offers a gate way to take a breather and yes really does have a great amount of health benefits from the obvious relaxing and reinvigoration, it aids in stress relief, better attention and mental focus and much more. Science approved.

Life seems to be a perpetual struggle, some enormous effort against staggering odds, meditation has some spiritual implication and some deep mystical vibes but, despite this being true or not, its a healthy way to get back on a much needed regular stance. 

Meditation is intended and meant to purify the mind. It cleanses the thought process. Many unique techniques of meditation are available which anyone can get into and benefit from.

Meditation is a state of both nothingness and mindfulness. It reduces your tension, your fear, and your worry into measurable and manageable pieces. Its not obviously a permanent solution but, a reliable, small and yet profound tool in a demanding, constant and melancholy world we find ourselves in.

“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.”

Hugh Jackman

ON PROVOCATION & PRIDE

​Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Rev. John Watson

Including you.

Glennon

Every human experiences has a similar set of emotions to act upon that respond to a wide range of human encounters. From the ups and downs, we react as to interact with the world and people in it.

Despite being able to reason, our emotions are these essential yet, primitively rooted mechanisms driving us to take immediate action based on instant defensive judgments. 

While yes, our emotions contain precise remarkable wisdom and insight that has guided our ancestors’ survival in years past, emotions often get it wrong, especially in our modern world. Man isn’t in one way built for the urban jungle.

Anger results in a bigger sense from humiliation, an unjust challenge to stature, in this case any aspect of one’s being.

Some people are easily provoked to anger; they just seem to be angry all the time, at everyone and everything. This may be caused by their fragile ego, specific hostile personality traits, or because they hold too unreasonable rules for making decisions or how they see the world.

Anger is the emotion that seeks to preserve and defend our sense of self or as a response to a provocation or a really hurt pride. Anger is an urgent plea for Justice, a strong and often misguided method of both defence and offense toward life.

Pride is a strong and powerful emotion that is rooted in self-value as well, however vague the individual knows oneself. Provocation is an attack on pride and the awareness energizes us to take swift decisive, in most cases uncalculated action leading to violent action-verbal or otherwise to preserve and restore justice, repair our loss or hurt frame of mind and achieve our goal despite, whether said attack on our pride was fallacious or not.

In his book, “Why Insults HurtAnd Why They Shouldnt”, William B. Irvine explores the idea of provocation and pride through insults which is truly meticulous and timely to anyone who really wants to get some footing.

He states “What is the best way for us, as individuals, to deal with insults? We should, to begin with, develop a strategy for preventing others from insulting us.”

He jokes by saying One way is by avoiding other people,” A loner’s wet dream, I guess? But obviously this isn’t pragmatic and so unrealistic, for we see and need people. And even if this is possible, what happens when people decide to come to you?

This might not seem like a sensible thing to do if our goal is to minimize the harm the insulter does us, but under some circumstances, capitulation can be a singularly effective weapon. “It will make the insulter look cruel for having said whatever he said.

Staying true to the child in us, a popular way to rejecting an insult is to retaliate with a counter insult. He further says “This response seems utterly appropriate. By insulting the person who insulted us, we are following the Old Testament injunction to take an eye for an eye: we are attempting to make the insulter feel the pain he made us feel.”

Furthermore, if our counter insult causes the insulter to experience enough pain, I mean, we say, they started it. But well, Ghandi kind of had it right, despite the need to gratify someone with insults all we have is a blind world.

  

Ones thinking despite this is that the insulter will think twice about insulting us again. Thus, by responding vigorously to an insult too.  ”Who are they?” Who are they to say that about me?” So says the archaic instincts driving us within. This means most people would maintain, prevent future insults. Responding to an insult with a counter insult is also likely to be emotionally satisfying.”

But, is this the best way to go about it? Let’s explore the available counter responses by Irvine to which we get to use if provoked.

(1)The dismissive response – deal with an insult by shrugging it off. We thereby demonstrate to the insulter that his insult did not hurt us. In another kind of dismissive response, we dismiss not just the insult but the insulter as well. In doing this, we dont attack the insulter personally, the way we would in a retaliatory insult. Instead, we imply that because he is who he is, the things he says to us can have little or no effect on us.”

(2) Retaliatory insults – “Retaliatory insults can be ranked on a cleverness scale. At the bottom of this scale, we find echoed insults: when someone calls you lazy, you respond by saying, No, it is you who are lazy!

 

The proverbial ” i can do anything better than you” .These insults are easy to express and deliver as they can be used in response to any insult someone might direct your way.

“Poet A. E. Housman, for example, is said to have written down in a notebook witty insults that might come in handy in the future. All Occasions, Louis A. Safian explains that he compiles insults so people will have snappy comebacks to use when they have been insulted. This is either an interesting venture or a true narcissism at work or both.

(3) The Smart Aleck – I guess all responses do make you sound like a clever dick or a smarty pants but, this one takes the cake. Another way to respond to an insultuseful to those of us not likely to go down in history for our skilful reparteeis by dismissing it. In doing this, we dont offer a counter insult. 

We dont ignore the insult either. Instead, we make it clear to the insulter that the insult has failed to damage its target. One way to dismiss an insult is by instantly forgiving it.

We should say: I know. Thanks. Which sounds like a good idea but…

(4) The Middle finger response – The peoples favourite, a trigger to the eventual self-imposed shit storm. The most aggressive way to dismiss an insulter can be summed up in the statement, Whatever, Kiss my ass.  

“In saying this, we are implying that we dont really care what the insulter thinks, that his feelings are irrelevant. It was this response that allegedly triggered an outburst of anger in actor Russell Crowe. 

He had been unable to reach his wife on a hotel phone. When he called the hotels concierge to complain,
The concierge responded, Whatever, and on hearing this, Crowe threaten to come down and kick his ass. Subsequently, he did go down, but instead of kicking the concierge, Crowe threw a phone at him. It was an assault that could conceivably have put Crowe behind bars for eight years. Such is the power of a dismissive response. People just dont appreciate being dismissed.

EVER CONSIDER BEING A VERBAL PACIFIST?

A pacifist is a person who refuses to respond to violence with violence. Hit him and he will not hit you back and therefore an insult pacifist is a person who refuses to respond to verbal violence with verbal violence: he will not respond to an insult with a counter insult, which means an insult pacifist will be unwilling to unleash first-strike insults, the way a pacifist in the usual sense of the word will be unwilling to strike a first blow.

We will worry that if we respond to the insult with pacifism, the insulter and those who witness his insult will regard us as a safe target for insults and will therefore pummel us with them in the future. This concern will stand between many people and the practice of insult pacifism. Is this concern justified? Is it true that insult pacifists will find themselves deluged with insults?”

Irvine says “I have, in recent years, paid attention to other peoples use of insult pacifism and have experimented with it myself. I have discovered that pacifism in response to insults isnt nearly as risky as one might think.”

“If a pacifist responds to an insult by declaring himself to be an insult pacifist, she is likely to be astonished. It will probably come as news to her that someone can be a pacifist with respect to insults. As soon as she recovers from her initial astonishment, though, she might put his pacifism to the test by bombarding him with insults to see whether she can provoke him into hurling one back. 

As long as he keeps shrugging his shoulders in responseSorry, but like I said, I dont do insultsshe will ultimately grow weary and try to seek out an easier target for her put-downs. it is important that he remain calm internally in the face of an insult.

“If he can accomplish this, his failure to respond to an insult will not simply be a show put on for the benefit of the world around him; it will instead be a true reflection of how he feels about the insult. This is coped with learning the art of building a frame of mind that prevents insults from upsetting or using any of the above responses within the heat of the moment.

All in all, a pacifist will strive to become a person who, besides seeming to be immune to insults, is in fact immune to them. This vital emotion yet explosive emotion called anger, would serve us better if our snap judgments were more accurate, our sense of justice was more widely shared, and if anger would lead us to justice without starting a fight or a need to insult anyone.

We all have a unique view-point on the world based on our own centre of awareness. Its good to have a decent amount of self-worth, which should as such never be decided or defined by insults. We are responsible for the choices we make and the results, good or bad. We apply knowledge to choose our beliefs and ultimately how and where we place our self-worth as we relate to our pride and the provocation the world dishes out at us.

On An Attitude of Gratitude

​All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.6

From the onset, the ideas of gratitude comes from a place of appreciation and gladness in the everyday endeavour from the big to the small acts of goodness toward us. Gratitude being itself not an emotion but value and virtue is more important in daily living then most may think. 

From the rituals of religion to the labs of academic thought, to be grateful isnt only pragmatic but, is an underlining root of human mature and mental serenity. Cicero believed that gratitude is a precursor for all of the other virtues, including happiness, kindness, reason and courage. Wealth, possessions, and good fortune are not necessary for happiness

Gratitude in its linguistic sense comes from the idea of being thankful, pleased and agreeable, but at its core has more to offer than just useful social, psychological and physical benefits. You hear a lot of talk about gratitude, but most of the time. Its hard to do and most seem adamant, but gratitude is at its essence is an active process of constant practice, willful attitude and purposeful self-reminder.

To have an attitude of gratitude comes from a place of revolt, maturity and appreciation toward life’s goodness as opposite to its ever present bad state. A stoic attitude of kindness, humility and proper response to a good state of affairs be it by divine, chance or probability of the reality of things.

It is a call to the human heart to affirm the goodness of others and a reminder that we are beyond ourselves. It is an unescapable fact,we are dependent on each other. 
To be grateful is dynamic, realistic, its a loving endeavour, the bridge to common courtesy, kind recognition and mutual kinship benefit to the solace of our minds and the people around us.

The attitude of gratitude stems from 2 stances, one must ask themselves, what it means to be a giver and what does it mean to be a receiver?. It goes without saying but pillar to these two positions is knowledge and clarity on the elements of what constitutes a grateful response is critical for developing an accurate account of what gratitude actually is.

THE GIVER 

No one is  truly obligated to give anything really. To give is just a gesture of goodwill. To give as McConnett states mostly deals with ideas of cost, sacrifice, risk and liability. So why give at all? Why go the distance with if in most cases, no real benefit at all?

We are givers if we do it out of love, love by heart but accompanied by attitude and deed. To be mature is to give more than you take out of life. We celebrate the present. We give because it is a good thing to do.

Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving, and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.

William Arthur Ward states that “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”We need to know how, who and when to give. The mature giver learns not to give for giving sake. But from an uncommon place of kinship with a right heart, motive and mind set.

It’s often thought that a reservation in giving is an attitude of selfishness but thats untrue. Unmindful giving is just as destructive as untamed egoism. To give well comes from the pillars of healthy self-Awareness with undying empathy.

Be a grateful giver is having in mind you are doing this because it is what you want to do, or because it is the right and or sound thing, responses of the receiver becomes unimportant. Accept that some people simply expect people to continue to just do things for them with no reciprocation or acknowledgement. 

Some people don’t know or are unable to show almost any emotion or emotionally stunted and I doubt if most intend to convey what they conveying,that is to show no gratitude. But then again, we don’t know people perfectly and its unhelpful to assume malice as a norm to said individuals.

You will meet people who may be completely self-absorbed to the point that they don’t even understand that other people are just as human as themselves. If you have it in your mind you are doing something because it is what you want to do, or because it is the right thing, their reactions become unimportant.

Be polite and respectful. No surprise, this can be hard to do, though. You have to constantly recheck your reactions and thoughts, Being the giver is as Seneca part of “living with the lot’ of life, living with the occasional resentment and not be possessed by it. Living above the pity thoughts, one needs to find a way to still be kind and gracious without building resentment and never giving out of some moral superiority.

It means we have to strip down our egos and be aware of this unhealthy sense of false entitlement or indebtedness because of our very act of goodwill. We can’t change people and should not be in our interest to forcedly teach anyone to show gratitude.  We should draw respectful intellectual and emotional lines.

Joseph B. Wirthlin put it like this, Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character.” We like to be around those who are grateful, Being a mature giver ultimately means you are motivated by an appreciation of people, possessions, the present moment, rituals, feeling of awe, social comparisons, existential concerns, and believing that behavior which expresses gratitude is good for us all, a badge of love and resilience.

THE RECEIVER

We all begin life dependent on others, and most of us end life dependent on others. The human condition is such that throughout life, not just at the beginning and end, we are profoundly dependent on other people. Bring a grateful receiver means not falling prey to Forgetfulness, apathy, pride and laziness  towards the acts of others. 

In truth, we will never  really have enough of what we want to pursue, only if we dare to relax our guard long enough to draw pleasure from what we have, an embrace of our gifts  and ultimately our mortality.

Dr. Robert Emmon and others heralds of gratitude advise us to taking time to count our blessings, displaying positive character traits, appreciate the quiet moments of nature and by keeping a daily gratitude journal where we express joy for all of the good things that happened to us.

As such they also suggest that we are wired to take things for granted. The garden variety of daily dissatisfaction, fears of life and complacency can make gratitude arbitrary. All these sadly cemented by unfair, unrealistic conscious or subconscious comparisons of our peers and the world around us.

Novelty and gratitude wear off quickly. To be more grateful or its practice stands in deep conflict with a central drive in human nature: ambition and desire, the pillars of the human ego. Human beings are not just beguiled by the occasional reminder to be or see no reason at all to be grateful. 

We use what makes us happy as the default, the baseline from which things are judged. We start to feel entitled to have things the way they are, instead of in most cases due to luck or the efforts of others. So practicing gratefulness is a great art and we would be less likely to take life for granted.

 Our lives get transformed, Seneca stressed that time is a fleeting and slippery possession. Every moment of every day we die. This is completely outside of our control. It makes sense to value our time and use it well. This lies at the heart of what it means to be a good receiver.

As such, the receiver is at most content with how things already are. The attitude may sound like a kind act of pretension but with a world full of constant indifference and usurp, to be grateful is a humble acknowledgement and one of life’s noble insurrections.

We may not get all that we want or be eternally happy and fulfilled. Bad stuff may be the talk of the day but, we don’t need to become slaves to our lot and fear- big or small, we fight light with darkness. 

We need to remedy ourselves with the reality that more often than we should that we dont yet recognize the dissatisfaction that arises is our unrealistic frequency of attraction to things, this only is perpetual to the cycle of dissatisfaction, hatred and ungratefulness.

A mature receiver isn’t a stance to pull us away from our real ambitions, or to not be absorbed by the lights and glamour of the world, it just means that it doesnt let it get in the way of a better life. 

Camenisch (1981), suggest that just as forgiveness, the receiver may not feel a sincere need to say and express thanks but the act prompts developing grateful beliefs, feelings and other dispositions that they may not have at the time of thanking and in turn signals the giver to commitment to ridding negative thoughts and feelings that are bad if it had not been said. Which is a healthy characteristic of human relationships, sounds obvious but is extremely pivotal.

In the beginning, exerting an effort and attitude of gratitude in many cases need not be inconsistent with being grateful, just as exerting an effort of will to help a friend under similar circumstances would not make one a bad friend. Hence what’s truly at the center of gratitude isn’t feelings or acts but an attitude prompting them that makes its essence.

The very act of expressing the words “thank you” is the least yet best thing one may do and the giving of thank-you gifts or the doing of return-favors isnt and shouldnt be due to indebtness and in truth, must be done when possible as is a cardinal foundation of good and healthy relations.

The very act of expressing the words thank you despite, the depth of a relationships stands as a statue and a frequent reminder of humility and as an oasis to the monotonous hot ego expectations of the everyday giver.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer. The mature receiver exercising their perceptions and by reaching out to friends by celebrating their progress as we would our own and this requires that we first get over ourselves.

The attitude of gratitude as such means we recognize and accept  that there are already at this moment very good reasons ,even if its  minimal to be a little more satisfied with who we are, what we have become and what we have.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow…Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Melody Beattie