Mindfulness, religion, rules, regulations, policies, boundaries. What do all these things have in common? They all try to regulate what you think in the present to allow you to live in the moment without worry or suffering. In the case of some religions, they aim to ward off “evil spirits” from taking over your soul. Of course with advancements in psychology and neuroscience, we know now that these so called demons are “mental illnesses” in various degrees of intensity. This is the modern day nomenclature, but who knows we might find out our assumption all wrong and call them something else down the line. Anxiety, depression, mania, bipolar, psychosis, are modern names for these demonic possessions. But is it not the rules, regulations, and laws that are set on us that causes conflicts in our mental models of the world?

Who justifies whether the assumptions made during setting rules and policies other than father time himself? The outcome of the formula is the only real justification of its merit. A formula concocted by people in power put in power by people that are suffering the effects of the ripples. Ripples made throughout history by all the conflicting thoughts and expectations of everyone in all societies. As long as the information is not shared with everyone with whom the information pertains, then decisions are not well informed. But how then can you share information and get informed consent from everyone involved when the information presented looks like this:

terms-and-conditions

With all other cognitive loads we have, there is no accountability for capacity and misinformation. People are to blame for ‘clicking agree’ on stuff they are misinformed about, and not the fact that the information is so dense that no normal human has the time of day to actually process it all. These agreements aren’t just over the internet or on paper, though, they are made verbally, as well, every day with your boss, wife, husband, friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. But who is at fault here? In reality no one.  But with all this to process how can one make an informed decision that will help them overcome anxiety in the moment? How do you say yes to hanging out with friends if you are unsure what might come up with work? How do you agree to go out on a date with a stranger you just met? In the words of Nike’s slogan: just do it.

These new forms of decision making are brought on by the vast array of advances in information technology. Polling large crowds of people, similar to the method in that picture above. Connecting people that would otherwise not have been connected. Big data, machine learning artificial intelligence, all tools to help process information for us to make the final decision. These modern tools can shape our future, either negatively or positively. If the technology leaders of today unite to share information on the basis that it will be used for good, then what is there to contest other than from people who actually have something to hide? People are not sure what technology is and will not trust it until they understand its workings. Technology has been given a bad image because of all the horror and sci-fi entertainment showing the negative implications of it. But where are all the positives? Where are all the good things that technology can be used for?

People suffering the ripple effect might be scared of these new demonic monstrosities brought on by the computer heathens of our world. Education must be unshackled for these ripples to stop affecting future generations. Students should be allowed to think freely and not have information and rules crammed down their throats because that’s how their parents did it. Students should be given a framework to apply and not a fixed set of steps to follow. Buddhism is a great example of such a framework. But how then do you get one to think about an idea that contradicts all the foundations of knowledge and experience they are built on? How do you allow free will and free thought in societies that are oppressive and controlling?

Different cultures limit the cognitive load, emotional load, and relationship load of their people by setting rules and values that are promoted throughout that society. Some of these rules are unwritten and are followed out of social norms rather than any rational thought process. They are also rarely questioned, since “that’s how it has always been”. So what if you try to rationalize something and realize it’s nonsense? Who will believe you anyway, everyone else is doing it. This goes back to the idea of social conformity which can be seen in this experiment involving monkeys. Monkeys are placed in a room with a banana on top of a ladder. They are then taught a rule that the one that tries to climb the ladder will get beaten by the others. But then when new monkeys are brought into the social circle they attempt to climb the ladder since they are unaware of this rule, at which point the other monkeys begin beating them. At some point, none of the original monkeys were present anymore, but the beating “rule” remained.

So what are rules, then, other than mere contraptions set to trap the mind within a certain set of barriers? In most, if not all cases I have encountered in my life, the barriers are set with the best of intentions. The exceptions are rules set in place to benefit the rule setter or persons in power. But this usually only happens in the most corrupt parts of our world where education is controlled. The good rules usually only apply within a larger set of barriers which are out of control of any one state or decision-making body. But as I said earlier clashes, conflicts, process error. EVERYWHERE!!! Blurps of information being shoved down people’s throats like sheep in a field being herded by a different Sheppard, all herding to have the biggest flock. To what end? Who decides what information gets filtered and what is allowed to be displayed to everyone other than the end user? If everyone is selectively choosing their own information to process, then we are all playing a different melody and this orchestra needs a conductor.

Let’s do a little experiment, I give you a random instrument you have never seen before and ask you to play it. It sounds good to you at first, but then again you’re biased. You haven’t played that instrument before nor heard how it’s supposed to sound. The tune is new and lively. You enjoy it in that moment. You cannot hear how you sound to others, let alone with other instruments playing alongside. So how do we get ourselves to play a tune that sounds good and goes well with other ‘instruments’? We must allow ourselves to believe that our fates are in their control. We must live every moment in its entirety and not let past or future events affect what we do in the present. Just because you haven’t played that instrument before does not mean you cannot be the best at it one day. In fact, future events should be controlled by what we do in the present, for that is the only thing in our control: the present. We must also look at the past to learn lessons. There is a lot of value in our past experiences, ignoring that value is like winning the lottery and throwing away the ticket because it’s just a piece of paper.

In conclusion, live every moment in its entirety, do not dwell on the past and do not be anxious about the future, focus on the here and now and everything else will fall into place. Be mindful and live in the present. How do you stop worrying about all these rules and all these rigid barriers set-up? How do you stop worrying about possible outcomes? Live in the moment. Live without having to worry about doing something wrong because you are focusing so hard on doing what is right. Stop thinking of rules as things that have consequences when broken but as guidelines for doing what is right. Right and wrong are relative to the society you live in. Of course if your sense of right and wrong is flawed or different, then focusing on rules is a good strategy, but for the most part, not worrying about doing a wrong and focusing on doing right is the best way to live a happier, healthier, mindful life.

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Published by Danny F.