Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Get it Quiet to Get it Loud

I'm sorry, do the noises in my head bother you? 

Lordy, Lordy - our brains are pretty magnificent.  Think of all it does; computing and calculating (not easy), autonomic activities (breathing and such), thinking (whoa), and perhaps the biggest wow-factor - learning (whether it chooses to, is another story, but despite some evidence, it does have the capacity). But that is not all. It has one more ability that is often overlooked.  The brain can do MAGIC.

The brain has no ears or vocal chords of its own, no speakers or microphones, not even the ability to create grunts and clicks without the help of other body parts, however it can create so much noise that it not only drowns out the rest of the world, but makes it seem like nothing else in the world even exists. It is only about 6 inches in diameter and displaces a liter or so of liquid but, man, it can crank up the volume enough to fill Candlestick Park.

It is powerful. It can not only carry on conversations with itself and consume its owner with whatever is at it whim, but most powerfully, it can manifest its own reality despite any evidence or common sense that would normally prevail. It has so much capacity and power... magical power. And with great power comes great responsibility because the power of your brain and the noise it creates will not only drown out other noises but it will create its own world, it's own reality that may or may not relate to truth but will send you down one hell of a rat hole. The only way to find that "real" is to quiet that powerful brain, if even for just a bit. The first step in finding the peace around the issues that launched the noise in the first place is to squelch the chatter, dialogs and diatribes.

Of course, it is much easier said than done - that noisy brain is not only loud, but it is consuming. Convincing. Perhaps a tad manipulative. And to make matters worse, you can't even attack it logically. You can't start this quieting by thinking "I need to be quiet" because your brain is already overrun with thinking - that is what got you into this perdicament in the first place. No, you can't think your way out of this, you have to will yourself out. Quieting the noises in your head takes willpower, as much willpower as fighting as resisting the urge to scratch a mosquito bite, put down the cigarettes, stay away from the pint of Hagen Das in the freezer downstairs, or holding your tongue because the kids are in the room. I find it to be a combination of activities to activate this will power to be able to suppress the noise. At times it requires a flexing of what I call my "squelch" muscle. I've never been able to find it in an anatomy chart, but based upon the sensation I feel when working it, I would say it connects the back of my throat to a few sphincters near the exit route. Other times it feels like the only way to will away these noises is to hold my breath and suffocate the little bastards into submission.

Methods for quieting the noises will differ as each person finds that balanced prescription for finding their own quiet. No matter how you piece it together, developing this skill results in the start of a mediation practice. It can be formal meditations; a la lotus pose, palms up, incense, and a concluding chi gong. Or it can be some other distraction that clears out the busyness; running, knitting, driving with the top down (either yours or the car's). Finding it requires experimentation and making it work takes practice, but regardless of how it s=is achieved, it is paramount for finding the peace..

Once you find your quieting strategy and techniques, you can squelch the brain-induced noise and allow space for the right kind of noise to come along. The answer. The unmuttled understanding. The clarity that deflates the all of consuming woe of the day. It wont likely come immediately. In fact, it may feel like a ridiculously long time for the effects to kick in, but it will come. All of a sudden you will realize that the noises are muted and some of the wars you were battling in your brain have resigned. Perspective will be won and clarity achieved. Your path will lay out before you... loud and clear.

I've heard a number of metaphors for this practice:
- Mud settles in still waters
- You can only see your reflection in the lake without ripples
- A cow with no nostrils is free ...(WTF did he just say? - no shit. It is a real one.)
- Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.... ok, that one is grasping at straws, but it is one of my favorites.

Regardless of the Buddhist flavoring rubbed on it before grilling, the message is the same. In order to gain the perspective, sift through the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), and find the answers to the instigators, you have to quiet the noises. The only way to hear it loud is to get quiet.

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