Stop planning, stop comparing, stop competing, stop thinking, and just breathe deeply for a minute. Our undivided attention is something we are rarely able to give for reasons ranging from digital overload to the cultural conditioning of equating busyness with purpose. Just as you might choose a fast from eating to detoxify the body, the best way to overcome this modern mental overload is to periodically fast the mind.
Drawing on the spiritual philosophies and meditative practices of classical yoga, Hindu-ism, Buddhism, and Taoism, Jason Gregory explains how fasting the mind creates peace and calmness in your life as well as allows you to build a firm psychological defence against the increasing bombardment of distractions in our world. Applying psychology and cognitive science to samsara-the cycle of suffering created by our attachment to the impermanent-he explains how overreliance on the rational mind causes imbalances in the autonomic nervous system and suppresses our natural spontaneity, feelings, and intuition. When we are unable to relax the mind deeply, we enter a destabilizing state of stress and anxiety and are unable to liberate the true Self from the impermanence and limitations of the material world.
Sharing Zen, Taoist, and Vedic practices, the author shows how to give the mind time to truly relax from stimulation so it can repair itself and come back into equilibrium. He details simple meditation practices that are easy to implement in daily life, such as open-awareness meditation and contemplation of Zen koans, as well as the advanced techniques of Vipassana, a Theravadic Buddhist discipline centered on seclusion from all worldly stimuli. He also offers methods for digital detox and ensuring a good night's sleep, a major support for healing cognitive impairment and restoring a state of equanimity.
JASON GREGORY is a teacher and international speaker specializing in the fields of Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. He is the author of The Science and Practice of Humility and Enlightenment Now.
The epidemic of our times is not a war on terror or a war among nations and religions, nor is it any conflict between opposites that we can conceive of. It is a war so subtle that we are not even conscious of the battle being waged. It is a psychological war: a war against our mind, a war on consciousness. But this war is not being waged upon us from the outside world-at least not entirely so. The deep-down truth is that you have waged war upon yourself.
We are not even conscious of this fact because we are asleep at the wheel of our own life. We often play the victim card, as if the world is against us. In truth this mentality eclipses the real problem, which is that you are against yourself-not intentionally, but rather due to your inability to be your true and authentic self. This true and authentic self should not be confused with who you think you are as a personality. On the contrary, to be your true self means to reside in that deep place within your mind and heart where thoughts, feelings, and emotions are observed as temporary phenomena, like rising and crashing waves of the great ocean of consciousness.
Actually this is a more ancient view of ourselves, which comes out of the Indus Valley region of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. From this region came the three great Hindu philosophical systems of Vedanta, Samkhya, and classical yoga. They gave birth to the two concepts known in Sanskrit as Atman and Purusha. Atman means the "Self"-with a capital S-in reference to the pure undifferentiated consciousness deep within us that is eternal, a pure state of awareness identical to the absolute ultimate reality of existence known in Sanskrit as Brahman. Likewise, Purusha refers to our original pure awareness that is untouched by anything the manifest universe produces and is essentially the eyes of Brahman.
We lose consciousness of our true self (Atman/Purusha) when we begin to believe we are the waves (personality) rather than the ocean (Brahman). The war we wage upon ourselves is from riding these waves of thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and ultimately the notion of separation. We believe these waves that we ride are permanent and lasting. Actually thoughts, feelings, and emotions are not really the problem because they are what color the world, making it beautiful or dramatic, bringing inspiration into the world when they are recognized in their truest context. That is, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are temporary phenomena of sentient life, and they can be enjoyed if they are recognized as being temporary. So the real problem exists when we begin to identify with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as if they are permanent and something that we can hold on to. We suffer as a result of this process. This suffering was one of the key aspects of human life that Gautama the Buddha realized. Buddha discovered that when we try to cling to our passing experiences, whether pleasurable or painful, we suffer.
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