Our Elusive Mind – The Art of Metamorphosis

This is the third and final piece of “Elusive Mind” posts discussing the human mind. In part 2 I concluded with an important question: how does a person change their mind?  Realizing that there is more that needs to be said about how you can alter or change your mind, I decided to take another run at the subject. A kind of epilogue if you will. The resulting question is this: How can you affect the changing of your mind?


In order to lay the proper foundation for my view I need for you to step back in time with me. Back to a time when the question of the day went something like this: “Why is my mind so weak that I can’t seem to do the right things with my body?” or its equivalent, the mind/body dilemma (dualism). This is an all important question for many of us. A question that infers that we are aware of our reactions and behaviors that many times those behaviors and reactions are at odds with our preferences.

Our Elusive Mind - The Art of Metamorphosis

A clear example of this can be seen in the issue of smoking. As a part of our shared Euro-American world view most of us accept that smoking is unhealthy. Almost every discussion about smoking brings us to the doorstep of mind/body dilemma or dualism. “Should I smoke or not. I want to stop, but how?”

The author of this dilemma is the 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes. His work has embedded within us a mind/body dilemma. It holds that our reactions to events are the result of an ongoing dialogue we believe our encounters with events are defined by a subjective and objective view of the event. This is the stuff that keeps us from doing the right thing, an impasse if you will. How is this overcome?

Mindfulness meditation! This approach has provided me a way of harmonizing my internal realities AND my external realities, of bringing balance into my life, of being able to do what is right. The most important lesson of mindfulness meditation is the importance of being conscious of what is happening in the world around me as well as being able to choose my own responses to those things.

This harmonizing, or synchronization, is the all-important goal of mindfulness meditation. A fancy word that means living a life in balance, what I call a value driven life. For me one example of this is found in the film “The Perfect Storm.”

The film depicts the struggle between one man’s internal world and the certainty he faces from his external reality. In the unfolding of the story you can almost cut the fiber of his dilemma with a knife.  Here was a very capable man becoming increasingly impotent to acting on the reality of his situation. All because he was out of synch.

Most importantly, in its application mindfulness meditation provides me with a freedom of choice I never realized I had. When an external event occurs I seldom need to debate my response. My decision making takes on the precision of a finely built timepiece.

My life is no different than the life of most others. As illustrated below I encounter different events. If an event gives me a reason, my mindfulness meditation will kick in. I then have a “window of opportunity” to process the event by the using the stop – look – listen approach to help me decide my value based response. At that point I will then act or postpone my reaction.

loopWhile I try to keep my involvement with the mindful meditation process active throughout each day it was my own struggle with smoking that really emphasized its value. After smoking for some 50 years and making attempt after attempt to quit, it was nine years ago that I knew it was time to quit. Employing mindful meditation into my plan to stop, I was amazed at the outcome and remain a non-smoker.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t live in some Pollyanna state of mind. I have learned to prioritize, to choose my responses while recognizing that nothing remains the same I also realize that my external reality hasn’t changed that much. Mindfulness meditation has given me the empowerment of choice.


Let me introduce you to George. George has chosen my garden as his home. It is difficult to describe him in a way that doesn’t turn most people off. You see, George is an insect.

He isn’t your ordinary everyday insect. Those 6 legged creatures that most of us consider to be pests. Actually, George is a rather ambitious, almost attractive form of this species. George is a butterfly. He could be seen spending hours gathering whatever it is that insect’s value.

What separates him from others like him is that when I first came across him he was a caterpillar. For those not familiar with the caterpillar they are almost comical in their appearance and activity.  Most look like a colorful hairy roly-poly creature. Certainly far less intimidating than your run of the mill garden insect.

What really makes the caterpillar so interesting is its ability to change its life. Through a process known as metamorphosis this fun loving insect undergoes a radical change. At some point in its life the caterpillar enters into a suspended state during which time their entire life is changed. Imagine yourself going to sleep one night, out of shape, overweight, and middle aged. After an extra-long nights sleep you awaken to find yourself younger, healthier, and filled with energy – and you can fly.

This change, this metamorphosis, can result in a completely changed you. Almost as mysterious is the notion of self-help. Yet, both metamorphosis and self-help share a common outcome: change.

Your Call to Action

Integrating mindfulness meditation into your life involves three components:

  • Positive psychology
  • Meditation
  • Self-awareness

If interested in mindfulness meditation may I suggest that you to find all that is available? Read through it, think about it, and then act.


Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53368913@N05/7164417118

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