Friday, June 13, 2014

Free your mind, the rest will follow

Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; David G Allen, Wise Up
“You can’t shut it up by trying to shut it off. [Observe it without judgment.] (Thinkstock)
Is it Zen, or just the art of getting things done?
The new hot trend in Silicon Valley office culture is a Buddh-ish encouragement of workplace mindfulness. Guided meditation is the new free cafeteria meals.
But David G Allen, author of the international bestselling productivity bible, Getting Things Done, has been teaching people how to reach higher levels of cognitive thinking for almost two decades. Like Eastern [Buddhist] mindfulness, his solution is simple but challenging to fully implement.

If that doesn’t raise any follow-up questions you can stop reading and get to it. But the truth is most people don’t know how to clear their mind.
A woman feeling homesick looking out on a lake.
Combat expat homesickness
Buddhism encourages you to focus on the breath or a single thought to calm the mad monkey screeching in your skull. Such practice has been empirically shown to strengthen emotional resilience and increase happiness.
But then the nagging thoughts start to creep in. You know the ones. Not big thoughts, but the mundane, seemingly benign nagging mental memos: “Did I send that email?” “I need to tell my boss something before the meeting.” “What was that idea I had this morning in the shower?” “I know I’m forgetting something.”
“We have to shut the mundane up,” Allen said to me in a phone interview a few months after we met on a stage in Austin, Texas, in the US at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival to discuss his well-known productivity method. Allen’s route to freeing the mind of its detritus is a more practical one than prescribed by most religions.
Delhi highway signs are barely visible. (Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times/Getty Images)
Would you work here?
“The strange paradox is you actually have to use your mind to shut your mind up,” he said. But not by meditation or mantras. “You can’t shut it up by trying to shut it off. What you have to do is [ask yourself,] ‘Why is this on my mind?’” More

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