Mental spam filter

As I sat going through my emails this morning, I was once again reminded at the incredible amount of Spam that I receive on an hourly basis. And then it occurred to me, what a wonderful idea for our minds!
To somehow have a filter, that separates our valuable thoughts and ideas and instantly moves the junk into the trash for permanent deletion.

Then I realized, my practice has actually created this Spam filter already. And it’s actually learning as it goes along by applying Bayesian probability. A system by which reasoning is used to determine the truth or falsehood of the data we receive. And obviously, throughout the day, we are bombarded with millions of thoughts and ideas. Some of which we create in our own minds, and many others that are shot at us from a plethora of sources. Friends, co-workers, Family members, newspapers, television, Skype, iChat, Facetime, Twitter, email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and how many more!

Meditation, which is only a part of the practice, is such a great way update our Spam filters. Which does not mean that we sit down and go through all of the date to determine which bits and pieces are keepers. Not at all. Meditation is about allowing our minds to settle down, coming back to the present moment, and just breathing. The beauty is in the simplicity of it, the lack of expectation, desire or goals. And this is where we cultivate our mindfulness and present awareness, and the naturally occurring byproduct becomes our Spam filter.

While daily meditation is so very beneficial, I completely understand the greater benefits that can be gained from doing longer retreats. Giving ourselves a chance to un-plug as it were from the astronomical amounts of sensory input that we are subjected to daily. But for most of us, taking a week or more off from our lives just to practice, is a near impossibility. Most all of us have jobs, kids, bills, and many responsibilities. And this is where the value of daily practice becomes so clear. Without offering our minds at least 10-15 minutes a day, it can seem insurmountable to absorb and examine all of the things that we are bombarded with.

This filter is not to avoid life, nor is it to separate you from this life. Its purpose is to increase your skillfulness in how you live your life. One where you have more clarity and understanding. A life that is focused on things which are conducive to your own health and happiness. A wholesome life with good intention that benefits others as well.
And if you have any doubts about this, I suggest you turn off the Spam filter for your email today, and just spend the rest of your day reading through all of the garbage!

May you be well, happy and peaceful.

1 comment for “Mental spam filter

  1. jms_kail
    Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Again you’ve come up with a very interesting topic of the brain and how it relates to meditation!  You have a talent for this!  We are hit by a flood of information everyday, especially in modern society.  To keep from getting overwhelmed, our brains have a built-in mechanism.  It’s called forgetting.  Forgetting is actually good for us!  We see the benefits of this by studying people with photographic memories.  Contrary to popular belief (and TV programs) remembering everything makes the lives of those afflicted pure misery.  Our brains remember only those things that it deems important – events that trigger high emotions.  Meditation, as you say above, temporarily stops the flood of information and allows the brain time to “do its thing”.  This leads to another issue of what to do with the chosen long term memories that cause so much needless suffering.  Think post traumatic stress syndrome or the loss of a loved one.  Again meditation lessens this suffering by redirecting the attention from these memories or confronting them in a calm, non-judging manner. 

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