Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stages of Mind - A Process

I had an interesting day yesterday. Spent a good portion of the day doing some reflection and learning, and accumulated a few things I felt were worth incorporating. When I find something to incorporate, my mind seems to undergo a particular process. Almost always the same. I explained it to a friend of mine, and he found it quite a useful metaphor. So I told him he could have it, if it helped. And now I give it to you.

We examine the world through the lens of our perception. We see as clearly as the lens allows us, and all things are interpreted through that lens. It's tinted, of course, based on the experiences and opinions that make up the matter of the lens. But it's our lens. It's all we've got, so most of us treat it well (assuming we realize it exists).

When something new is encountered, something powerful and worth incorporating, it typically strikes the lens. If your lens is built to accept new things, the lens will shatter. All of the sudden, you have the explosion of thousands of fragments of self and awareness exploding through space, a solid becoming a cloud of potential as a new thing is found and works its way into the cloud of glass. You only have to be aware of this expansion process. Know when it happens. And let your mind explode with the new potential of whatever you've found. Let your awareness explore the cloud, and see the strange new potentials of the thoughts that fall in shards. Look for that thing which pierced your lens and caused this trouble. When you find it, you'll be ready to begin the next step.

Once you've discovered the new thought, it's time to evaluate. All these pieces are scattered, and you'll gather them up. Don't worry, you don't have to fit them together. Instead, they will all lie there in a pile, and your lens will no longer be a lens, instead it will be a kaleidoscope. The kaleidoscope sees many things at all different facets. For the time you're using the kaleidoscope mind, all things will be seen from multiple angles. Opinions all seem valid. Viewpoints seem transparent and you'll be playing devils advocate with everyone not out of spite, but simply because you see the other side just as well. It's all there in a jumble.

This is the time to figure out which viewpoints you agree with again. Done properly, you'll know what your new thought or idea or belief is, and you'll know what it touches, and you'll examine those things as they relate to the new thing. Take your ambivalence to opinions as a time to examine your own and see the other side. Look at the many ways of approaching something, as opposed to the singular view that is typical when you have the lens mind.

Slowly, the kaleidoscope will fade, and you'll be left with the mirror mind. The mirror mind has once again melded all of the various pieces into a single existence. Yet, that existence should be turned inward before it'll be turned outward. The mirror mind is deeply introspective. It looks into the heart and soul and tries to come to terms with what it finds there. It is sometimes brutally honest and critical. It is sometimes good at pushing buttons. But it's a good thing, usually. It allows you to rediscover yourself with this new viewpoint. It allows you to get further and further into who you are, to help create a solid center.

Over time this mirror grows transparent. And as it does, the focus swings from inward to outword, and you're left with a lens. A lens similar to the one that you had before, but with a slightly different curvature. It looks at the world with a slightly altered tint. You will see things just that slight bit differently. And the hope is that it will help you engage the world on a more useful level. Refined, perhaps, or maybe wider as opposed to refined. But more suited to how you need to engage the world in the present.

This can happen all the time. Sometimes it happens more than once. Sometimes you'll be struck with a huge number of new thoughts, and the gathering takes forever as you find multiple new pieces. Sometimes the kaleidoscope mind has new thoughts that grow in the tumult and rise up and start the process all over again. Sometimes you skip steps, and when you gather the pieces that turn transparent immediately. Or the kaleidoscope becomes a lens. Or the mirror is struck from the inside by some revelation and you never see a lens in that cycle. Whatever happens, happens.

This happens to me quite frequently. And over time I've come to recognize each stage as it comes. I like knowing the process, even if I don't fully understand it. And perhaps you also will take something from it. If you do, that's great. I'm very happy. If not, that's okay to. I don't presume that this is the only way of existing and thinking. Just mine.

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