“Mindful” – Tullio – 2013
(click image for larger view)
“Mindful” – Tullio – 2013
(click image for larger view)
Amid the welter of intrusions affecting our quotidian lives, the slim strand of focused awareness we manage to maintain is evanescent, fragile, and discontinuous. Our consciousness slips free, becomes immersed in daydreams, generates spontaneous mental imagery, and untethers a maelstrom of captivating emotions. Thoughts race in wild unexpected directions, dive into oblivion, and are replaced with new discontinuous streams of words, ideas, and feelings.
Distractions abound. It is often all we can do to attend to matters at hand – responding to stimuli, managing repetitive tasks, taking measurements, doing calculations, analyzing data, studying texts, or finding ways through complex routes. Our minds seem all too ready to fly away – as if focused awareness is an unpleasant untenable burden. And once we are distracted we are vulnerable to strong forces broadcast everywhere to prey upon our vulnerabilities – our needs, urges, and desires.
Surrounded by petabytes of probing media, we succumb to subliminal peripheral cues. The culturally conditioned state of affairs ensures that we will be ever prompted to distraction. Only with greater and greater effort and some studied discipline may we succeed in pulling our minds back to regain conscious control and to maintain some personal focus – until the whole process begins again. It is as predictable as are the cultural winds of change and the intensity of social pressure.
Consciousness exists as a spectrum of varying states between near-death, full wakefulness, and states of increased intensity. Because even the state of being awake involves discontinuity and susceptibility to suggestion – the most accepted definitions of hypnosis indicate the term denotes a state of unconscious suggestibility.
There can be no clear distinction between hypnotic states and states of wakefulness – all allow for succumbing to suggestion. We are always either coming into or waking up from some sort of trance. The tenuous task of managing this state of consciousness we call “being awake” is similar to the sensation of riding a bicycle. The moment of being in balance is transitory by nature. Being in balance involves momentarily losing balance and then instantly finding it again. The same sort of continual dialectic between losing and regaining balance describes the kinesthetic description of the seemingly simple act of walking down the street. Psychologically, such rhythmic activity produces its own forms of trance and makes it difficult to maintain continuously focused attention.
The trance-like state we’re in is a highly suggestible one. In this state, culturally produced messages continually override our individual thoughts. A mindful attentiveness produced by a combination of centered focus and critical thinking is a valuable method for managing our mental environment. It behooves us to learn to manage it well. If we don’t, we hand over control of our very perceptions, thoughts, and emotions to forces designed to produce unexamined lives of mindless Pavlovian behavior.
“Mind Moves” – Tullio – 2013
How can we rescue ourselves and each other from the dangerous
world we have created?
Our advanced scientific knowledge has produced technologies of tremendous power. We move great objects at stupendous velocities. Our so-called “intelligent machines” perform trillions of calculations in fractions of a second. Everywhere around us our mastery of material processes has refashioned the world of our experience. We have changed the planet and ourselves in ways unimagined by previous generations.
But all this scientific and technological progress has also produced processes that threaten to bring us great harm – harm to ourselves and to our world. Our knowledge turns out to be limited. By focusing our minds on exclusively materialist conceptions of existence, we managed to produce a century of physical and psychological horror on a scale unprecedented in human history.
As we look upon the post-modern landscape, we must ask ourselves, what is it about the way we have conceived of the world and our place in it that has proven so destructive to both our environment and our collective psyche?
Our search for order amidst the apparent chaos of life has created systems of rigid cultural orthodoxy while maintaining chaos – in the form of unending war and political strife. Even our entertainment media, which we have ostensibly created as havens from the roughness of the real world, are replete with violence and images of brutal inhumanity.
Prodded by atavistic fear we have been impelled to create fortresses of safety and security and yet, each time, we fail to notice until it is too late, we have enclosed the most dangerous thing within the
We are the most dangerous thing. We have the power to multiply the natural terrors of the world a thousand times over. When we desensitize our neural connections of empathy and feelings of compassion for others, we lose sensitivity and compassion for ourselves as well.
We are learning from our historic failures that we must reformulate our very ideas of the world and our place within it. The end of the old sciences of separation, reductionism, inflexible logic, and absolute certainty leads us ineluctably toward a new science of connectedness, relativity, complexity, and possibility.
As we learn to listen more attentively to the beating of our hearts and feel more deeply the breath in our lungs, we come closer to our common humanity. As we begin to ask the right questions, we observe the answers are present within us. Our minds move inevitably toward the
co-evolutionary conclusion that instead of what can be accomplished by competition, power, and domination, the ultimate purpose and meaning of life can be cultivated by compassion, communication, and cooperation.
“Dangerous World” – Tullio – 2013