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In the last lessons, we’ve discussed the importance of valuing stress and modifying our current understanding so we can expand our awareness. Doing this helps us keep our attention in the present moment so we can learn. Now, let’s investigate how to maintain flexibility when modifying our current understanding.

There is a trend in physical training called “muscle confusion training.” At its essence, the philosophy cautions against training the same muscles in the same way. Doing that reinforces only one way of using the muscles. A better approach is to “confuse” the muscles by exercising them in different ways. Doing that broadens and expands their range, flexibility, and use.

The same approach can be applied to mental training. To gain a broader way of using the mind we need to improve its flexibility. Some people approach mental training by using tricks or tactics to rearrange or add layers in the mind. Tricks and tactics have limited effectiveness because it’s similar to rearranging or covering up the furniture in a room. All the old limiting tendencies are still there, just in different places or covered up.

For example, let’s say we have a tendency to think negatively when facing a climbing challenge. We rearrange the mind by ignoring negative thinking and covering it with a layer of positive thinking. Thinking positive helps us focus on possibilities and allows us to process the stress of more difficult climbing. This works until the additional stress overwhelms positive thinking and shifts our attention back to negative thinking.

Perhaps we do multi-tasking, doing many tasks at once. We rearrange the mind by doing time management training to deal with stress. Doing this increases our efficiency to do tasks and process stress. We’ve rearranged the mind in a more efficient manner. This works until the additional stress overwhelms that level of efficiency and shifts our attention back to resisting stress.

The problem with typical mental training approaches is getting lost on the periphery, using tricks and tactics. We add layers and rearrange what’s in the mind. Mind confusion training throws out the old tricks, brings in new understandings, and shifts our attention from the periphery of the mind to its center.

For example, in climbing, the old trick of thinking positive to deal with stress needs to be shaken up, torn down, and thrown out. A new understanding for dealing with stress, from a neutral perspective, needs to be brought in. We don’t use a trick of thinking positive; we use attention to see reality as it is. Engaging the climbing challenge from a neutral, centered perspective transcends positive tricks and negative tendencies, and allows us to understand the complete risk.

When we study the mind we realize that the mind can’t multi-task. Multi-tasking is a misnomer and is a trick driven by end-result motivation. We’re motivated by the end-result of getting more work done in a shorter amount of time to diminish stress. In reality, the mind can only hold one thought in its awareness at a time. What we think of as multi-tasking is really uni-tasking in short time units. Uni-tasking in such short time units is ineffective because we’re shifting attention too quickly to focus effectively on each task. End-result motivation shifts our attention away from process and therefore diminishes quality. The old trick of multi-tasking needs to be shaken up, torn down, and thrown out. A new understanding, that values the quality of the process, needs to be brought in. We may have many tasks on our “to do” list. We intentionally focus on devoting attention and sufficient time to each task so we maintain quality.

Operating from awareness allows us to “exercise” the mind, confuse limiting tendencies, and improve mental flexibility. We use our attention to stay centered and observe the mind, so we can continually modify our current understanding.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Annalisa Deal

    Great article! I like how they give you something to think about, and then easy to understand ways of practically applying the ideas.

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