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Need To Cure A Virus Of The Mind?

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Need To Cure A Virus Of The Mind?

Try a little dose of Zen.
Richard  Brodie
Richard Brodie More by this author
Jul 08, 2009 at 10:00 AM

ALTHOUGH ZEN MASTERS NEVER heard of the word meme, becoming aware of our memes—the embedded mental programs that shape our thinking—is the essence of the Zen discipline. There is incredible value in learning how to free yourself from the prison of thoughts and mind programs anytime you want to.

Zen practitioners meditate and ponder riddle-lessons called koans in an effort to retrain their minds to do just that. They learn to take in exactly what their senses perceive and to dissolve the artificial distinction-memes of human ideas and concepts. As any adherent of Zen would tell you, it’s almost impossible to even understand what this means unless you’ve actually done it. Successfully practicing Zen is said to produce an extraordinary feeling of peace and clarity.

If you’re wondering whether practicing Zen or simply becoming more aware of your thoughts would benefit you, here’s an easy test: Can you easily turn off your internal conversation and just be? Try stopping here and not thinking any thoughts for the next minute. Do it now.

If you had difficulty doing that—if you kept talking to yourself inside your head, or thoughts kept creeping in and distracting you from simply perceiving the world around you at the present moment—chances are you’d gain a valuable skill by practicing noticing your thoughts. Next time you’re bored and tempted to turn on the TV, try this instead, a nonmystical “meditation” technique that I’ve found useful: Just get comfortable and clear your mind of any thoughts. If they do creep in, don’t react to them; just notice them and let them go. See if you can go for five full minutes, and then observe how you feel.

If you learn to turn off your internal dialogue, you’ve made the first big step toward freeing yourself from the tyranny of mind viruses. While you still may not fully realize which mind programs you’re running because they support your purpose in life, and which you’re running because you got infected with a virus of the mind, at least you know how to turn them off at will. Further, when you quiet your mind, you can make far better use of your intuition, which will lead you out of ruts and into places you may not have realized you wanted to go.

The Zen discipline goes beyond learning how to turn off your inner dialogue. The Zen student goes through life looking at events from a series of different perspectives given to her by her master in the form of koans. By looking at life from these different perspectives, the student eventually realizes that many of the beliefs she had taken for granted about the nature of reality were simply figments of her imagination.

This process, Zen adherents believe, eventually results in the dissolving of all artificial beliefs and an understanding of the world at a new level. While I haven’t spent 20 years in a Zen monastery, it’s fair to say that most of the major growth and learning I’ve experienced as an adult has been a result of looking at things from different perspectives and finding out I was wrong about one pig-headed belief or another. At that point, people come crawling out of the woodwork to pat me on the back and say how happy they are to see the change in me. “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?” I asked. “We tried,” comes the chorus of replies.

One useful way to try out flexing your point of view is to take advantage of any disagreement you have with anyone. Instead of trying to win the argument or backing off from the conflict, try as hard as you can to see things from the other person’s point of view. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when the person you were arguing with says, “Yes! That’s exactly what I meant!” In fact, you may even find that all the other person wanted was to be understood.

Once you learn that new point of view, over the next several days try using it a few times to look at situations that come up. See how it feels. Even if you don’t end up adopting it as your own belief, at least you’ll understand how some other people react to things differently from you. That understanding will be valuable to you no matter what you want to do with your life.

Most people are so full of mind viruses, of externally acquired mental programming, that they don’t spend much of their time and energy pursuing what they want in life. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that most people aren’t even very clear about what they want in life. Noticing your thoughts and flexing your point of view are the best tools I know for understanding the difference between who you are and how you’ve been programmed. Try it—you’ll like it!

About Author
Richard  Brodie
Richard Brodie is best known as the original author of Microsoft Word. His self-help book, Getting Past OK, is an international bestseller. His groundbreaking book on memes, Virus of the Mind, spent 52 weeks on the Hot 100 an Continue reading