A couple of habits that I have been trying to inculcate for a while are meditation and equanimity. While I got a little better when it comes to equanimity, I have not made even the slightest progress when it comes to meditation. It is not like I have started trying meditation in the recent past. I have been trying it for a really long time. But just on and off each time not able to make any progress and eventually giving up. I know there are different forms of meditation. I tried a couple of them including focusing on breathing, and trying to empty the mind. Neither helped. I was never able to see inside myself nor could I get any insights into the true nature of reality. Of course meditation needs a lot of practice. May be I am doing it wrong. I have no idea.
I know there are many definitions of meditation but I am going with this definition from wikipedia –
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state Wikipedia
Most of the times while practicing meditation, my mind just drifts into other thoughts. I cannot stay with my breathing for more than a few seconds. Other times I just fall asleep :), especially if I practice in the afternoon after a meal. I would try it for a few days and eventually give up. If some one knows a proper way to do it do let me know in the comments section below or via the contact me form. I really want to try it and see if it is possible to see the true nature of reality.
Most recently I tried (and gave up) a couple of months ago. I tried to form a habit, so I setup a calendar event and practiced every day for a month. Sometimes I drifted off to sleep as usual, so I tried different times of the day. I built up to only 5 minutes of meditation. Not sure how people do 10 mins to an hour. Of the 30 odd days I tried, 3 or 4 times I felt like the 5 minutes passed in a minute. It was amazing when the alarm started ringing and I opened my eyes to note that the 5 minutes is already up. May be I fell into a short nap and didn’t even realize :).
But all other times, 5 minutes felt like for ever. All the while I was trying to pull my mind back to concentrate on my breathing. That struggle to keep my mind at peace is the most painful aspect of meditation. And I keep failing at it all these 20 odd years during which I tried meditation.
On the other hand I was able to gain some equanimity. I am sure it is not related to meditation given that I failed miserably at it. I just think it is age/experience related. I am having more and more mental calmness as I am aging. Yes, when you are young, you are brash. You have strong beliefs and when things don’t go as planned you feel anxiety, anger, fear and other negative emotions. When people aren’t behaving the way you expect them to behave you judge, envy or become angry on them.
Equanimity is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. Wikipedia
As you age, I guess equanimity develops and you stay cool and calm under stress. I have become less judgmental, more calm and less stressed than ever before. Being neutral is becoming a way of life now. Stoicism is heavily focused on equanimity. And as a follower of Stoicism I am happy to be developing it.
Epicurus believed that what he called "pleasure" was the greatest good, but that the way to attain such pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one's desires. Wikipedia
I am always a skeptic and atheist first. Discussions like the above cause some people to think I am more spiritual than I give credit. I don’t think so, but I don’t want to dismiss anyone’s observation. It is important to value what other’s perceive you as, but not be bothered by it. Sometimes one may go wrong with their self assessment.
Another interesting label I got is eternal pessimist. I partially agree with that statement though. The reason is that I always try to have very low expectations. If the outcome is better than expected, you can be happy. Otherwise it just met your expectation and nothing to worry. You know how this can give you a bad rapport especially at work place. At work, if I was called on making some predictions on how many users will use a certain new feature, my number is always lower than the average :). When asked about how long it will take for a certain project to complete, it will be always more than the average.
It is the same with family and some close friends. What I like to do is always look for disconfirming evidence. When someone makes a statement, I always play the devils advocate saying that it is wrong. Then I put all the effort into pointing out that their statement is wrong. I am not trying to prove myself right. I am just trying to see how strong their hypothesis is.
Someone might just say meat is bad for health or blue light is bad for eyes etc. Then I argue that is is not true. What evidence do they have? Who is behind the article or research paper? What are their beliefs, and prior odds? What do the experiments reveal? How about the sample size? Is the sample representative? Is the author biased? Most times, the other person gives up before I finish with my so-called pessimistic questions. I am not proud of it, but that is how I roll. Because remember, I am a skeptic.
This is one more of those pointless posts that go no where. Hope I didn’t put you to meditative sleep :).