Meditation — A Moment of Silence

Sarabande & Variations G. Handel (1685-1757) [HARPSICHORD]

Recently I discussed meditation in a Music Box. This week I have another thought for you on that topic…

As anyone who has tried meditation can tell you, or has paid attention to their own consciousness, we have an inner dialog that just won’t stop. We just talk talk talk to ourselves inside of our heads. This has its place — talking to ourselves is how we engage in discursive thinking, and talking in general is how we communicate with each other. And the written word — such as this Music Box — is a way of recording talk talk talk using paper and ink. But other kinds of thinking can take place without talking — let’s provisionally call that ’intuition’ — when you just KNOW what to do without having to explain it to yourself or anyone else with words. Both inner dialog and intuition have their place.

But a problem arises: our ability to focus attention is surprisingly limited. I’ve noticed that when I’m engaging in that inner talk talk talk, I can’t focus attention on anything else. The next time you’re in a conversation, notice that when you start framing your reply in your head, or engage in inner commentary about the conversation, that you stop paying attention to the other person. Instead, to hear the other person’s dialog you simply have to halt your own. (You can verify all this for yourself!)

So that’s another reason to practice meditation. It’s an opportunity to try being quiet inwardly for even a few minutes, giving me the opportunity to notice that nothing dire happens when I give that inner dialog a rest, and that other types of consciousness are still present (e.g. intuition). Meanwhile, practicing to be just a little less enslaved to my inner talk talk talk makes me a litle better at paying full attention to whom and what matters.