In a recent facebook post I used an analogy that someone found helpful. The reason analogies work so well in this teaching is because we are learning the principles behind things, rather than just examples of those principles in action. The analogies help expose those principles.
In direct one-on-one training, I’m often told by my students that they find the creation of those analogies is what makes me different as a teacher. They’ve often done other instruction and accepted that their instructors knew what they were doing, but they had more trouble imparting what they knew. And I could see that a difference like that could exist.
Living like this since I was five, I’m not like a lot of people who learned this later in life. They’re skilled and helpful to themselves because they know what to do, but they don’t know it well enough to describe it to others. It’s like knowing another language but you still think in your old language and then convert.
For me, it’s more like I can think in that other language because I’ve lived like this since I was a little kid, so the analogies come to me quite easily and I see them everywhere. So finding ones that suit a particular student is pretty easy and I always find it fun finding them.
So what was that analogy from facebook? What did I suggest people could do?
I started by noting that one of the ways we can learn to tune our day is to become more aware of it. So, if you’re not aphantasiac then picture a old fashioned twist volume knob on a radio (if you’re aphantasiac, actually use a real twist knob).
Now, think about your morning and set the dial for how positive and open your mindset was when you woke up. Having it set on ‘1’ means you’re blocking out most of the world in favour of your own internal thoughts. A ’10’ is no thinking, wide open, listening to the universe; like when our mind stops when we see a dramatic sunrise.
Throughout the day, hour by hour until bed time, move the dial clockwise or counterclockwise to match your average mindset in that hour (if you can do this every 20 minutes, maybe in alignment with your use of the Pomodoro Technique, that’s even better). Then, ask yourself, was your day loud enough? Or did your life fall silent while your thoughts raged?
If we do this each day, as we move through our day we can reconsider where our dial is set. Using that awareness, we can make efforts to redirect our attention in ways that allow us to turn down our thinking and to crank up our life. Do that enough times and it leads to entirely different lives.
We can make ourselves sick or we can make ourselves healthy. Our management of that internal dial for our thinking is really what counts in the practice of mental health. And that really changes the meaning of the term ‘dialed in,’ doesn’t it?
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.