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hydraulics of the mind

why you cannot force your mind into a relaxed state

Body and mind are very ancient. They have evolved over billions of years, shaped by interaction with the environment and other embodied minds.The  I together with its thoughts and good ideas is completely new to them. You are a child of your body, you are a child of your mind, their latest invention. It is your mind and your body that determine your every movement, every thought, every emotion. They decide when you wake up and when you go to sleep, and while you sleep – what will you dream about. It is your mind and body that decide who you fall in love with and who do you hate. They choose the flavors that you like and the ones that you hate. Finally, your body and your mind decide, what do you think about yourself.

The mind, as the body’s partner, works on a simple principle. iIt wants to be happy, but more importantly, it wants to be happy now. Everything it does, it does in order to avoid stress and get closer to happiness, to the state of total relaxation.

At the same time, it is like a child. The mind doesn’t believe in words, good ideas, or long-term plans that would bring it happiness in the distant future. The mind wants to be happy, but it wants to be happy Now. It doesn’t believe in time. The future for it is just thoughts, images that are happening in now, that affect it now. It has very little patience for trying out new solutions. If it experiences what it thinks is a cause of its suffering, it tenses quickly. It believes that something is good for it only when it feels a direct, positive influence on its current condition. It only wants to experience what immediately improves its well-being. If something makes it tense, it will avoid it. If something causes it to relax, it will try to repeat it. As a result, it becomes easily addicted. If causes and effects are too spread away in time, the mind cannot recognize the relationship between. It sees the relationship: cigarette – relaxation, but does not see the relationship: cigarette – health complications.

Of course, despite all its impatience, the mind gives the “I” some space and time to convince it to try out new ways to be happy. That’s why it created it. Unfortunately, this time is very limited. The mind must quickly experience the positive state resulting from a new behavior. Otherwise, it will lose interest and revert to its old, well-tested habits. Because they may not cause the outbursts of joy, but at least they bring a little more relaxation.

So the only way to convince a mind that changing an old habit to a new one is good for it, is to get it to feel a positive state caused by a change as soon as possible. Forcing a mind to deviate from its old ways of acting by threatening it, does not discourage it, to change its habits. A threat may change the mind’s reactions but only for a moment, as it is trying to avoid a tension induced by the threat, but as soon as the tension caused by  a threat subsides, the mind will revert to the old habit .

Human’s mind and an animal’s mind work according to the same principle. If a dog sees a piece of a cookie, it immediately wants to eat it. One can stop it for a moment by threatening it with a stick or shouting, but as soon as one turns away, the dog will catch the cookie quickly. On the other hand, if one offers the dog a tastier option, something that makes it happier (such as a sausage), the dog will immediately lose interest in the cookie.

Likewise, if we scare adolescents with a dark side of drugs and social media, all that is achieved is an increased level of stress in their minds. Paradoxically, it is precisely this tension that increases the need for mental relaxation. Unless their minds have a better option, they will go even deeper into media and stimulants. For, from the perspective of their minds, the only real moments of deeper relaxation are those obtained on drugs (or on “likes”). So, in order to make the desired behavior more attractive, the mind has to immediately experience that being sober is more pleasant than intoxication.

This simple principle applies to every activity of the mind. The mind always does what it thinks is best for it, which it calculates will bring it closer to happiness and take it away from stress.

It constantly collects information about its condition and the condition of its surroundings. Then, based on this information and previous experience, it decides what its next move will be.

Being a product of Nature, the mind is perfect. It does not make mistakes, although from the outside it may seem that it does it all the time. In fact, every decision it makes, every move it makes is a way to explore, better understand the world. A mind of a little child learning to walk makes no mistake when it falls over. Thanks to this situation, it collects a huge amount of data on the anatomy of the body, kinetics, and the laws of physics that govern the world. From this perspective, there are no flaws in its functioning, no mistakes, only new experiences, new lessons.

Understanding that stress is the reaction of a mind that senses that the body is in danger, makes us realize that persuading it to relax is like telling someone who just comes across a poisonous snake to stop being afraid. The mind is tense because it tries to protect the body, and it does so by creating an emotion of stress in the body. It believes that this is the best reaction to the given situation. Mere an intellectual recognition that it would be better to relax is not enough to change the belief and the resulting behavior.

In our little cafe adventure, we had an opportunity to see how an attempt to resist an unpleasant sounds lead only to an increased mental tension. Despite this, the mind still holds the belief that this type of reaction is best in such a situation. So the question is, why the mind cannot understand that trying to push a sound away creates only an additional stress, and it doesn’t bring about any positive result?

To understand this better, let’s examine the process of forming of that belief.

By marcin

I love open awareness and I love coffee...

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