Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Rumination Lullaby

My Friend sent me this and it means so much to me at this moment in time.
I post this only as a reminder to myself, not to preach or express an opinion.

Rumination Lullaby by Pavel Somov
Mind is an information-processing system. As such, it is in the business of digestion - and, not unlike your stomach, sometimes it chokes up on spice of life...

Say, something happened - and now it is eating you as you are trying to digest it. The informational tug-of-war is on. No crisis here: same ol' evolutionary game of the survival of the best-informed.

Look: if you are alive and reading this, you've won this contest every time - you've eventually swallowed every information byte reality has served you.

Information-processing - like food-processing - is a metabolic process. It has its own pace and rate of digestion. Rumination is part of this digestive cycle. If it ("the food for thought" the life has just served you) needs to come up, then it needs to come up. If you feel you have already masticated all the "musts" and "mustn'ts" out of this informational cud, then no need to chew on this again, just re-swallow it.

Learn from Bankei, a 17th century Japanese Zen master: "Cutting off occurring thoughts is like washing blood off in blood. The original blood might be washed off, but you're still defiled by the blood you wash in" (Fenner, P., The Edge of Certainty, p. 79, 2002).

In other words, trying not to think about "it" involves thinking about "it." So, if you are still thinking about "it," it's because you are still digesting "it" while "it" is trying to digest you... Remember that in this war of digestion, your mind has found a way - each and every time - to stomach the information that it had been served.

Accept the motility of your informational metabolism and find solace in the notion that there's never been a thought - so far - that you choked on to death. Remember that Christmas jingle you couldn't get out of your mind after your power-walk in the mall? Well, it's gone, isn't it?! And so will this be, whatever "this" is for you at the moment...

Learn from Bankei again: "You must realize that thoughts are temporary, changing appearances, and neither seize on them or hate them, just let them occur and cease of themselves" (p. 80).

And while at it, forget this non-sense of "forgive-and-forget" as a way of dealing with rumination. For one, forgetting - as a memory function - is not available on demand. It's just not a given: just like you cannot decide and forget your name, you cannot decide and forget the name of the person that made fun of your name. Forgetting is not under voluntary control.

As to forgiving, don't get me wrong: it's a psychologically healthy aspiration. So, do work on that. But forgiving - as a formula for stopping rumination - is no Tums. Just because you forgave someone for their transgression it doesn't mean that you will stop thinking about the event in question. Remember: even the food for thought needs time to settle. As this river of consciousness runs its course, the ripple effects of the stone of judgment that disturbed the equanimity of your mind will soothe out and the silt of your resentment will eventually settle...

So, if after the conscious work of forgiving you are still feeling the acidic memory of the transgression back up into your mind, once again: no need to re-chew this informational cud, just re-swallow it. You don't have to question if you are "still not over it." You don't have to re-do the work of your forgiveness and second-guess the frailty of your ego. All is fine as long as the river of your consciousness is flowing.

Here's a Russian information-processing digestion tip: "Morning is wiser than night" ("ootro vechera mudrenn'eye"). In other words, sleep on it. And console yourself with the fact that whatever it is that you saw in the mirror of your consciousness, it'll pass. Once again learn from Bankei: "the image doesn't stay in the mirror," particularly when you turn off the lights. It's a rare informational cud that survives till the next morning...

In short, let go of this thought that you need to let go of this thought. Never mind the un-invited mind: it'll see itself out. Chew on this for a while as you go to sleep. See you in the morning just as you always are.

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