Cognition – Integration – The Meditation

Friday, August 27th, 2010 at 8:00 am.
by pre.

This week we present our fifth guided walking meditation, this time designed to improve your cognition, the way you think, the shape of your thoughts. Your imagination, your intuition, your reasoning. All these things, these interconnected things, should be improved by plugging this audio file into your MP3 player and regularly spending 10 minutes walking around the area in which you live listening to it, and of course thinking along, following instructions. It’s no use just listening, you need to think the thoughts it tells you to think, visualise the visions it paints, actually practise the skills it suggests you practice.

You will improve your intuition by using it, by looking at the things around you and trying to guess the answers to almost impossible questions.

You will improve your imagination by using it, by imagining the stories behind the objects you see, trying to explain your intuition about them.

You will improve your reason by using it, by looking for holes in your stories, seeking to disprove them, to see beyond your intuition through the power of negation, of counter-example, the methods of science.

Most if not all of the stories and reasons you invent for your intuitions will be wrong, provably obviously wrong when you examine them for more than a few seconds. Do not worry about this. This is true for all people, for science itself, for understanding. It’s easier to come up with an untrue theory, a false idea, than a true one. Practice, however, will continue to improve your skills. You may, eventually, begin to make theories and ideas which aren’t easily disproved. You may even come up with one that’s true! Surely, your practice will make you closer to the truth, even if you never get there.

The Meditation

You’ll spend the first few minutes as usual relaxing, thinking about your posture, your walk, falling into a suggestible state, then starting to examine the world around you. Always useful things to do whenever you begin any walk, whether listening to a guided meditation or not.

After this you’ll spend a minute or so looking for an interesting object in your path, a discarded piece of rubbish perhaps, a building, a signpost, or outside the city perhaps a more natural artifact like a rock or an animal or a plant or field.

Once you’ve picked an object, you’ll try to imagine something from it’s story, perhaps how it got there, how it came to exist, what the forces that moved it into place looked like, how they acted, you’ll try and form a theory about it, using your intuition to guide you towards some essential truth about the object.

Once you’ve formed that theory in your head, usually as a picture, a sound, am internal movie, you’ll begin to use your reason to look for holes in the theory. Things which prove it can’t possibly be so. You’ll spend a few minutes trying to think of things which disprove your earlier vision.

This is, essentially, how planning and theorising, most of cognition and all of science work: allowing the networks in your mind guide you towards a pattern, and then discounting all those patterns which can’t possibly be true. Which would conflict with some pattern of which you’re more sure.

Practising these skills should be done as often as possible, whether listening to this meditation or walking without it or even just while existing. Always try to see the patterns in things, but don’t forget to always try to see the differences, the places the pattern doesn’t match. Your pattern matching systems in your head are biased: they are more likely to see one that’s not there than miss one which really is there. It’s better to run away from a none existent lion than assume that rustle in the grass is just the wind.

Reason (that is deliberate debunking and critical thinking) is the system we’ve evolved socially to try and compensate for this genetic bias, the flaw in all our brains in the search for truth. It will save you from seeing things which don’t exist, from jumping to conclusions which are untrue.

If it’s life and death, then still run away from the lion, or the possibly-imaginary knife-wheeling maniac. Obviously. But if you have time, if you can spare the consideration, practice assuming you’re wrong, looking for evidence that you’re wrong, improving your reason.

Guided Meditation File 30 – Cognition – Integration
Backing Music “Those 3 Lovely Seconds” By Awakenas
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