How I Learned That I’m Not a Pile

Our minds do not view reality directly. We can’t process most signals from our environment. Those we do go through a series of electrical and chemical transformations before they reach the brain. There, your mental software has to process it to make sense of it.

There may be light around you, but your brain never sees it. It infers its existence from raw data.

And if it did so faithfully, that would be one thing. But any neuroscientist or psychologist will tell you that we hallucinate our mental models into existing.

When you look at a banana, you don’t see a banana. You see splotches of colour that match the ‘banana’ pattern in your mind. Without touching it, you assume it’s soft and sweet. You don’t assume it’s rigid, scalding or a predator.

The biggest illusion that your brain creates is a tricky one to spot.

It makes you believe that there’s a ‘you’ in your head.

It’s like the riddle of sand. A single grain isn’t a pile. Two grains next to each other don’t make a pile. Three don’t and four don’t… but when you keep adding grains of sand, it eventually becomes a pile.

Likewise, a single thought doesn’t make something a mind. Neither do two thoughts, or three.

Have enough thoughts and it sure feels like your sense of self is real.

In both cases, it’s an illusion of labelling. Humans find it useful to distinguish a handful of grains and a pile. Reality herself makes no such distinction. The truth is that there are no piles or even grains. It’s all a swarm of quarks and leptons that we add labels to.

You can take a pile and swap one grain for another. The pile hasn’t changed. A mind can (and does!) replace old thoughts with new ones the same way.

“I am my thoughts” is false, given that your thoughts change every day.

Perhaps we are that which changes our thoughts.

Or maybe we’re a cloud of sensations that feels like a self.

Once you understand this on a gut level, changing your thoughts becomes easy. Why should a pile care if a grain is removed? How simple is it to add a new one?

This isn’t about learning to let go of old ideas. It’s accepting that there’s nothing that could hold onto them in the first place.

If you want an exercise that can help you, I’m happy to oblige:

Earlier today I meditated by focusing on a single sense – in this case, the sound of water trickling along a creek.

I placed all of my attention here.

I thought about how the sound of water exists as vibrations in the air. On another level, the sound only existed in my brain – a reconstruction of electrical impulses from my ears.

The part of my brain that thinks of ‘me’ as a person relaxed. The separation between ‘me’ and the environment weakened.

It felt as though the sound were a part of me, as much as I think my hands are.

Then it continued.

I thought of myself as being the sound of the water, while that body over there was part of the environment.

It only lasted a moment, but the relief was intense.

People often describe feeling connected to everyone and everything, as if the barriers that separate us come down.

I don’t know if that’s literally what happens.

All I know is it’s a healthy and wonderful thing to experience.

When your mind is this open, there’s nothing more natural than to leave behind ideas that don’t help you anymore.

Source by William T Batten

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like


Disneyland Hotels That Won’t Break the Bank


Are you planning a vacation to Disneyland in the near future? Do you have a certain budget that you are working with that you need to stay within? A good way to ensure that you get a good quality vacation will remaining in your budget, is to spend a little less on your lodging. While staying in a decent hotel is important, the truth is, that when you visit Disneyland, you are hardly ever in your room, and when you finally get back to your hotel room at the end of a long day at Disneyland, all that you and your family will want to do is collapse into your bed for a long sleep to prepare for another day at the park. So, nice, clean lodging is important, but there are plenty of cheap hotels near Disneyland that will give you good quality lodging at a fraction of…

Read More

Home Based Business Ideas for You


Securing a job is the motto for most of us as it is a sure way of ensuring security in life. The prospect of employment is becoming dimmer day by day, as a result of the economic depression that shook the world economy recently. However, all those statistics about soaring unemployment need not disappoint you as there are umpteen ways to make money online. Such is the limitlessness of opportunities that comes with the internet that one can run and manage a whole business establishment at home.

A home based business could be a great idea on many counts. You are self-employed and would need not work under anyone. You do not need to lose sleep and other comforts of life for meeting deadlines while you work under somebody. You will be able to work at your own pace and convenience within the privacy that only home can offer. If…

Read More

Airport Hotels – The Pros and Cons of Staying Near the Airport!


Many times you can find quite a few hotels that are near the airport you are flying to. This is to help with the convenience for business people and for those that are just staying over for one night. This is also very good for the flight crews and airport hotels offer many great rewards for the regular traveler as well. Here is what you need to know.

First, if you stay in one of the many airport hotels you will expect to hear loud noises because you will be right near the airport. This could keep you from sleeping at night and it could keep you from being as fresh as you need to for your meeting or for whatever you are doing the next day. This could also be a very annoying thing to deal with if you are not used to it.

Second, with airport hotels you have…

Read More

Get To Experience Staying At Cheap Luxury Hotels


You occasionally need to book and stay in a luxury hotel room even while your budget is tight, and you could shop around at a discounted price for you to relish the amenities of a five star luxury hotel. If you’re traveling with romance, i.e.: in a honeymoon, you could enhance the experience of staying in with the luxurious twenty four-hour service, designer beds and linens. Booking early can offer you discounted price and for a while, exempts you from staying at cheap budget hotels.

Surfing the internet can lead you to several other web sites which would help you find discount luxury hotels. One web site is the Expedia(dot)com which is the leading travel agency on the web. Some might think that since Expedia is the widest on-line hotel agent, they wouldn’t be posting bargain hotel deals. Everything is in there, simply choose “Sort by Hotel Class” and it…

Read More

Floor Plans For Nightclubs – Great Business Ideas For Your Night Club


Nightclubs are well-known for their hot dance floors and cool bars. When deciding on nightclub floor plans, there are a lot of decisions to be made regarding the placement of specific locations within the nightclub itself. There are certain elements that must be included in those plans no matter what type of nightclub is being built.

Nightclubs Need a Bar Area

Nightclubs must have a bar area for patrons to enjoy. Plans for a new nightclub must include plenty of space for a bar and seating for the bar’s patrons. The bar should be in close proximity to the dance floor so that thirsty dancers won’t have far to go to enjoy refreshing alcoholic beverages. This needs to be taken into account when deciding on the placement of the bar in the plans.

Nightclubs Must Have a Dance Floor

Every nightclub must have a dance floor. The nightclub floor plans should include square…

Read More

Boston USA Hotels


Boston is one of the most wealthiest, historical and influential cities in USA. The city features nearly 2000 restaurants and 62 historical sights. Boston was once ultra conservative but developed a progressive culture and is now one of the hottest tourist spots in New England. The city get around 16 million tourists a year making it one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world. Boston features a seamless blend of international culture and American history that renders it unique. . Boston is one of the oldest cities in USA and is characterized by a distinct European feel that seems to have seeped into the culture.

One can shell out $400 for a night in the swanky luxury hotels or get a room in a motel for as low 30$.

Boston unfortunately is not known for its budget hotels .Although, some bed and breakfast hotels can be found scattered…

Read More

Best Business Ideas With Low Investment – Get Into Article Marketing


What is Article Marketing?

This is a method that is used to promote products through writing articles that focus on keywords related to the theme of your article. When these articles are accepted by article directories, the content can be read and reused by a wide number of people, and organizations. Article Marketing is one of the best ideas with low investment to promote the product you are selling. It is a free method of advertising, and it is a very effective way to spread the word about topics related to the product you are selling.


Link Building. This is a very important part to getting your site rank high on Google When you write a article, I mentioned above that many people will see after it is accepted. Because of the written content other people like bloggers will link to your article which will increase it’s appeal to Google,…

Read More