brain

Wrong Thinking

Here’s a story about what I call “Wrong Thinking.”

Way back in high school when I was playing baseball, a pitcher named Catfish Hunter became the first baseball player to get paid over a million dollars a year. I thought that was crazy, in a bad way. One day I talked to my dad about it, and asked him why people like farmers and engineers who did more important work didn’t get paid like that.

He didn’t have a great answer at the time, and that thought kept on bothering me. These days I think a correct answer he could have given me goes like this: “Baseball is in the entertainment business, just like singers and actors. For whatever reason, some sort of supply and demand, society is willing to pay those people a lot of money. So if the money bothers you, what you can do is make that money just like Catfish Hunter, and then give it away however you see fit.”

Shaman alvin March 25, 2019 - 8:37pm

The Native American woman I met last week had an aneurysm and brain surgery last year. (She showed me the scar, and she’s fine now.) Before the aneurysm was discovered, she went to a shaman who’s well-known among Natives here. He lit something, made some smoke, did whatever else he does, then looked at her, put his finger on her forehead and said, “You are blocked here.”

Unfortunately she assumed he was referring to a mental blockage, and thought, “No, I’m an open person, he’s wrong.” Shortly after this, doctors discovered the aneurysm right where he pointed.

This is the story she told me.

How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering?

“How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering? How can we learn to focus our attention on one thing?”

“The answer is that we cannot do it with our brain alone; the brain cannot control its thoughts by itself. The power to control the activity of our mind comes from the body, and it depends critically on posture and breathing.”

~ From the book, Zen Training, by Katsuki Sekida

The farther you get away from the body, the more you know you

On the recent drive back to Colorado I listened to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In the book, The Lady Chablis talked about how much the estrogen shots affected her, mentally and physically — her thoughts, such as who she was attracted to, and her physical attributes.

I’ve often thought about how our thoughts and behavior are affected by our hormones. That’s one reason I like meditation: The farther you get away from the physical body and chemically-influenced brain, the more you can figure out who you are.

Older people with high blood pressure have more brain disease

From this CNN article, “Older people with higher-than-average blood pressure have more markers of brain disease than their average-pressure peers, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology ... researchers saw increased signs of areas of dead tissue caused by a block in the blood supply to the brain, when looking at postmortem tissue under a microscope. Autopsied brains also revealed that higher-than-average blood pressure is associated with one marker of Alzheimer's disease.”

The intensity of a monk’s meditation states befuddles science

“While his brain was probed by the fMRI, Mingyur (a Buddhist monk) followed the instruction to engage compassion. Once again the minds of everyone watching in the control room felt as though they had stopped. The reason: Mingyur’s brain circuitry for empathy rose to an activity level 700 to 800 times greater than it had been in the rest period just before.”

“Such an extreme increase befuddles science; the intensity with which those states were activated in Mingyur’s brain far exceeds any that had ever been seen in ‘normal’ people. The closest resemblance is for epileptic seizures, but those episodes last brief seconds, not for a full minute. And besides, brains are controlled by seizures, in contrast to Mingyur’s display of intentionally controlling his brain activity.”

~ from a story about brainwave tests of a monk in 2002

Children Learn What They Live (poem)

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.

If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

With what is your child living?

~part of a "Children Learn What They Live" poem by Dorothy Law Nolte

Your true self

I usually just encourage people to meditate so they can learn to relax, but there’s another good reason to meditate: It helps you find out who you are. Since you were born, you’ve been programmed by your parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, and teachers; meditation is a way undoing all of that programming. Once you shed that programming, what remains is your true self.