Friday, 19 October 2012

You are not your thoughts.


Behind the scenes
Your brain is a lazy asshole. Its only objective is to conserve as much energy as possible, and work on making sure things are going well in the short term. The very short term.
This is why it seems to make more sense to skip the gym, eat a box of cookies, sit on the couch, and watch TV or play video games, than do anything else. It’s easy, and you’re conserving energy. You’re not going to be winded and tired if you don’t go to the gym. Those cookies might not be healthy, but they sure are delicious – and they’re packed full of calories so you have some backup backup energy reserves stored up.
This isn’t your brain’s fault, it’s a matter of evolution. When it takes work to get your next meal, it makes sense to eat as much and do as little as possible.
The Problem
This carries over into every other facet of your life. Your brain is great at convincing you that what it wants is what YOU want.
“If you talk to that pretty girl, you might get rejected – isn’t it much easier to just not approach?”
“Wouldn’t you much rather sit at home than go out? It’s been a long week, you’re tired, it’s expensive to go out… this will be easy.”
Now you’re overweight, unhappy, socially stunted, and lonely. You could take responsibility for this, and totally turn things around, but it’s going to require a lot of work, a lot of time, and effort.
This is when your brain comes back and says “but you’re a great guy! It must be everyone else’s fault! They don’t give us a chance! They’re biased against us because of ______. Guess we’re going to be forever alone, but it’s not so bad, we have each other – and Steam and that gigantic tub of ice cream!”
GET OVER IT
I could say people just need to man up, get over themselves, go out more, and just grow up. Really, this is true, but it’s not very useful advice. Your brain is going to work against you at almost every step. How can you overcome this negative self-talk?
Perception
There’s a concept in Buddhism called “dependent arising.” The basic concepts around this are (1) everything is a result of cause and effect and (2) “self” only exists in dependence upon causes and conditions.
Both of these points are very valuable to us. The first point is pretty straight forward and helps emphasize one of the main beliefs held by our community – if you’re happy, then you’re doing it right; if not, then something needs to change.
The second point is more complicated, and can be difficult to understand. What is ‘self’? Is it your body? Is it your mind? Is it some combination of the two?
Well, it can’t be your body. You shed cells every second of every day, and every 7 years every cell in your body is different than it was 7 years ago. If you lost your arm in an accident, you’d still be YOU, right? Even your brain is made up of cells that are made up of elements that are made up of atoms made up of quarks made up of energy. Bits and pieces that could have been rabbits, or trees, or air, or stars, before they were repurposed into you.
What about your mind, then, your thoughts? Well, sometimes I change my mind about things – either I learn something new, or find out something wasn’t true, or my opinion simply changes over time. If I define who I am by beliefs that I hold, and those beliefs change, then I guess I’m not ME anymore? That doesn’t make any sense. We’re pretty complicated, but we’re never surpised when our thoughts or feelings change.
So if it can’t be the body, and it can’t be the mind, then what is our sense of self?
Thinking
Thoughts are a lot like carbon dioxide molecules – they’re around us all the time, they are necessary for life, and if there are too many they can incapacitate you.
There was a relevant quote in /r/meditation the other day:
Suffering is caused by compulsive thinking. We get lost in thoughts, we identify with them; we “think” we are our thoughts. They are incessant and quite often negative, and they create anxiety, stress, and the problems of everyday life.
You can break your identification with compulsive thinking, however. You can increase awareness that you are not your thoughts. Consider your senses: your brain processes the inputs of the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, and the skin. But, you don’t think that you are what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste, or what you touch. View your thoughts the same way – your brain processes them, and you use those you need to solve problems and function in your daily life. But the thoughts you don’t need – those that are negative, limiting, critical, and destructive – you simply let float away.
Treat non-useful thoughts like undesirable smells: don’t dwell on them, don’t identify with them, don’t get attached to them, don’t get lost in them – simply let them float away.
This is where meditation can be a great ally in the war against thinking.
You sit, you live in the present, you acknowledge thoughts as they pop into your mind, then you let them go. This is easier said than done, and it takes practice, but that’s really all there is to it. In the activities post from earlier in the week a lot of people said that meditation didn’t stick, that it was boring, or even they did it for months but never had that “AHA!” moment where everything in their lives changed. OF COURSE NOT! If it’s boring, it’s because you’re thinking about what you could be doing, or would rather be doing, or you’re thinking that it’s boring. There is no “AHA!” moment in meditation – some days are better than others and you sit for a long time with only a handful of thoughts that pass immediately, other days your mind is racing a mile a minute and everything you can possibly think about is going to run through your head and it’s harder to let those thoughts go.
But once you do, you are living in the moment. You’re not worried about what’s going to happen later tonight, or if you’re going to say the right thing, or if that hot girl really likes you. You’re not judging yourself, you’re not even judging others. Better yet – you don’t even care, because you aren’t thinking about it. You are just existing, enjoying being alive. If you’ve ever opened a set, had a good time, then when you walked away went “whoa… how did I just pull that off?” you know what I’m talking about.
If you tend towards thinking way too much, it can be terrifying at first. You almost feel like you weren’t there anymore, like you had an out of body experience. But the more it happens, the more you realize how liberating, how amazing, how wonderful it is – and you start to get to know the real you.
Self
And that’s the real you, that sense of self we’ve been trying to find – it’s everything and nothing all at once. That you isn’t scared or nervous – it’s your scumbag brain that makes you scared and nervous. You always say the right thing, because there is no wrong thing to say – it’s your scumbag brain that stops you before you speak, or makes you comb over every word after the fact trying to figure out where you screwed up.
You’re not too introverted, or too shy, or uninteresting, or boring, or ugly, or stupid; that’s all your scumbag brain. You just are.
Conclusion
Your brain doesn’t care about you. Whether you are happy, well adjusted, and enjoying life or depressed, emotionally damaged, and sitting at home alone every weekend, it makes no difference to your brain as long as it gets what it needs to survive. Excuses and negative thoughts are your brain’s way of controlling you, and it’s amazing how much power most of us give it.
Wanting to change is not enough, and it’s never a good time to start, you just have to start.
So the next time you say you’re going to start exercising, or eating better, or talking to women, or doing something that interests you, and you hear that little voice trying to convince you otherwise, ignore it and go about your life.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Marijuana

It really doesn't matter whatever you want to call it. Pot, Marijuana, Mary Jane, Chronic, Herb, Grass, Ganja or Weed.

The truth is lying to Teens about Marijuana does more harm than good.


I think it's wrong for society to lie to teenagers about smoking marijuana. I don't like it when people warn teens about using "Marijuana and Cocaine" when Pot is almost harmless and Cocaine is a dangerous drug. When people lie to teens about Marijuana then teens assume they are lying about other drugs too and I think they are more likely to do drugs they shouldn't do. So I think it's time to come clean and tell the truth. If teens are going to do drugs, they should have truthful and accurate information. So I have decided to tell it like it is. Best decisions are made when the real facts are presented.
For those parents who are reading this in horror, I am not trying to get kids to smoke Pot. What I am doing here is trying to tell them the truth, and tell you the truth about a widely misunderstood substance. This is an opportunity for everyone to have a better understanding of reality. If you can't handle reality, stop reading this web page. There are plenty of other web sites that will tell you what you want to hear. This is not one of them.

How bad is Marijuana Really?
As compared to most drugs, Pot is the least dangerous. Pot is not an addictive drug. For those who claim it is, anything is theoretically addictive, and there are some people who can become addicted to spring water. So to put it in perspective, Pot is less addictive than coffee.

Pot will cause some short term memory loss. It's harder to remember a 10 digit phone number. Beer causes the same memory loss as Pot. The effect is temporary and wears off completely. Pot has no long term affects on the brain.
Pot will give you the Munchies. You may eat more than you would normally. If you are on a diet, you should factor this in when deciding to smoke Pot. It could cause you to gain weight.
Never drive while doing any drugs or alcohol, or many prescription drugs for that matter. Alcohol causes you to wreck your car. Pot has a much lesser effect on driving than alcohol, but it has some effect. You are more likely to pull out in front of someone or run a red light than lose control of the vehicle. Pot might also cause you to get lost. Don't drive while stoned.
Smoking Pot increases your risk of cancer. But most people smoke very little Pot. If you use Pot moderately you don't have anything to worry about. Moderate means a joint every few days.
Pot will give you dry mouth. Have something to drink when smoking Pot.
The most dangerous thing about Pot is getting caught with it. You can go to jail. People get very weird about Pot and you can get in a lot of trouble over it. So if anyone asks if you've been smoking Pot, Just Say No!


Benefits of Marijuana
Marijuana is the safest of all drugs. It is far safer to smoke a joint than to have a beer. Pot is the drug of choice for people who want to get high, but be responsible in getting high. There are people who do no drugs at all, and that's fine. But for those of you who want to get high and be responsible, Pot is a very good choice.
Marijuana make most people more relaxed. It relieves the clutter and tension after a hard days work or school. It mellows you out and makes you more relaxed. It heightens the imagination and improves creativity. If you have a problem with anger, Pot is usually a good drug to reduce it.
Marijuana has other medical benefits. It helps reduce problems with glaucoma. If you have cancer, it reduces nausea from chemotherapy.
Marijuana is also safer, more effective, and has less side effects than many prescription antidepressants.

Marijuana is especially good for those with high stress lifestyles. The brain has a tendency to lock on to a problem and your mind gets into a mental loop where you can't stop thinking about work or some other problem. Pot can help you break the cycle and see the problem from a different perspective, or allow your mind to move on and rest allowing you to enjoy life so that you can recover and have a fresh perspective for the next day.


Myths about Marijuana
The most common myth is that "Marijuana Leads to Harder Drugs." Critics say the medical marijuana movement promotes drug abuse and criminal behavior by ushering young people into what one judge has called "the kindergarten of the drug industry". They call Pot the "gateway drug" and say that once you do Pot that you will need to move on to harder drugs like LSD, Heroine, and Cocaine to get the same "thrill". Sounds good, but it just isn't so.
Marijuana does not lead to harder drugs!
Actually, if there is anything that's a gateway drug, it's nicotine. Tobacco is the first drug that kids use. It's illegal for kids and, unlike Pot, it's addictive. Once a kid is hooked on nicotine they have joined the ranks of drug addicts. As an addict already it's easier for them to move on to other addictive drugs like Alcohol, Cocaine, Crack, Meth, and Heroine.
Marijuana on the other hand is the choice of the responsible drug user. A person who wants to get high on something that isn't addictive and doesn't have any long term health effects for the moderate user would likely choose to smoke Pot. This is the drug of choice for those who don't want to be on the path of drug addiction.
Another common myth is, "there is no official proof to back the contention that marijuana can help ease symptoms of AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other serious diseases." But the reason there is no proof is that the government is actively avoiding the funding of medical research into medical uses of Marijuana because they are afraid that they will indeed discover what doctors already know and it would undermine the laws criminalizing Marijuana and lead to legalization. If you want to read something amusing, read the study from National Institute of Health. Here's pages and pages documenting the results of doing nothing to research the medical benefits of smoking Pot. I've never seen such a long paper documenting what the government hasn't investigated or tested. If the government weren't afraid of legalizing Pot they would test it. The fact that the government won't do medical tests on Pot proves that they don't want to know the truth.
What's more outrageous is the claims that the government makes about Marijuana when they refuse to make any medical or scientific tests. They claim that smoked Marijuana damages the brain, heart, lungs and immune system, but they don't know that. There have been some tests done indicating that Marijuana can cause lung cancer, even more so than cigarettes. But those test don't take into account that the usage isn't 100th as much as cigarette smokers. If the government wants to make medical claims about Pot they should test it and look at the scientific data. I challenge the government to do the research and then we'll talk about reality.
A 1974 study also revealed that marijuana killed cancer cells.

In conclusion, most of the stuff you hear about marijuana is probably full of BS.