Reply To: Message from Iain to members about why he wrote The Matter with Things

  • Tom Huntington

    October 28, 2022 at 9:37 pm

    Quoting you, @donsalmon

    My favorite topic related to Iain’s work is attention, and the vast and varied ways Christian, Buddhist, Taoist and other traditions – as well as modern psychology and neuroscience – have found we can shift attention in a way that leads to profound transformations.

    Hi Don, I’m just now finding your conversation with @JamesWillis . . . and I too am “a fan” of Attention. Thank you for sharing the Zen story. I don’t think I ever heard it. I did come to this realization/conclusion/opinion some years ago. I’d been kind of a “spiritual zealot” in my late 20’s to mid 40’s, with a very committed daily “spiritual practice.” And then had an experience in my 45th year that led me to begin to question “the spiritual wisdom” of my practice ‘in the world’ (the work world and the relationship world) and I became more open and interested in, and a student of, personal growth workshops, which included more than a few that were Gestalt based/informed. Eventually this led me to become interested in therapy-effectiveness research . . . which then introduced me to learning science and neuroscience and developmental science and social psychology . . . I now self-identify as a ‘human nature science geek.’

    I’d kept up my daily ‘spiritual practice’ (aka a mindfulness/meditation practice, which my spiritual teaching chose to call “contemplation” rather than “meditation”). I’d also, along the way, discovered the benefit of mind-body integration practices, especially the moving ones, such as QiGong and ‘movement meditation’ practices.

    Over the course of my serious study of healthy human nature science, including learning science and brain science beginning in the summer of 2002, I soon became aware of the was growing interest in ‘Mindfulness’ programs in the U.S. This was, and still is, especially true in California. When I moved to Santa Monica in early 2011, I was in walking distance of Insight LA . . .

    “the only organization of it’s kind offering secular, evidenced-based mindfulness training and traditional Buddhist teachings within the Vipassana or Insight tradition” (from their website).

    I’d learned/heard about the well-researched 8-week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program developed by Jon Kabatt-Zinn . . . research showing positive brain change results (in ‘stress reduction’). I’d been curious about the program (not for me – I felt quite happy/satisfied with my ‘mindfulness’ and ‘stress-reduction’ skills) but to check out for me to be able to recommend to others (with the integrity of having ‘checked it out’). There was a program starting in a few weeks after moving here. I signed up and committed to doing the program and the daily/weekly exercises and meetings. I not only got the validation to be able to recommend it to others with caring confidence, I found that it helped me and my daily “attention practices” . . . I’d already, several years earlier, had the opinion that the purpose/goal of “meditation” and “mindfulness” practices . . . as well as the mind-body integration movement practices I’d been doing . . . were all in the most basic sense for helping to improve our “attention/awareness” skills in all areas/domains of our lives.

    It was about that same time when my brain science mentor, Dan Siegel, recommended The Master and His Emissary, introducing me to The Hemisphere Hypothesis, which has helped me continue to improve my attention/awareness skills every day since then.

    While I agree with/appreciate Iain’s reluctance to recommend any specific “mindfulness practices” or even any specific “right-hemisphere-leadership-improvement” . . . because (IMCO) of the unique, idiosyncratic, subjective, always changing, nature of each of our brains and the danger of many of us making the “left-hemisphere-leadership-errors” that leads to rigidity for our selves and our daily “human team relationships” and to cults, polarized politics and wars . . . I do think, agree, that focusing on helping ourselves and our human cultural leaders at all levels know about The Hemisphere Hypothesis and prioritize our human attention/awareness self-skills, team-skills, brain skills be more “right-hemisphere-skilled”.

    [I do apologize @donsalmon and to anyone else who reads this . . . that I don’t know how to format my post to be easier/more inviting to read . . . nor do I know how to share links . . . and that is a shame (IMCO), because this is a great opportunity for those of us who want to be champions for helping get The Hemisphere Hypothesis out to the cultural leaders of the world who also care about our world.]