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Conquer Yourself (Session 5): Native American Wisdom vs. Our Technological World…

6 March 2010 11 Comments


Part 5 of the Conquer Yourself series…
Harmonics: “Know Your Enemy” by Yoko Kanno

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——— Native American Wisdom ———

A Cherokee elder once told the children of his tribe, “A battle is happening within me – a terrible battle between two wolves. One wolf is of fear, anger, guilt, greed and senselessness; the other of faith, peace, truth, love and reason…This same battle is happening inside of each of you, and inside every other person as well.”

The children thought for a moment and one asked, “Which wolf will win?” to which the old Cherokee replied, “The one you choose to feed.”

This is a lesson in the power of attention: the importance of “attention management” and concentration in the development of our character (and in turn, our ability to create the results we want for ourselves…CHARACTER COMES FIRST)

Like I said in session 4, we’ll need more then just one blogpost to really build on concentration. I actually don’t mind using several parts of the series for it because since we live in a digital age of distraction and attention deficit disorder, concentration is one of our most vital assets…

There’s a section on this in my upcoming book where I say:

“You’re not bubble gum; you can only stretch so thin…(therefore,) begin to regard your goals as living things that depend on you (and you’re attention) for their cultivation.”

Even though at some level we all intuitively know that we need to focus in order to progress, we still tend to forget this because of the frenetic pace of our society.

Not only are we conditioned for constant interruption, scattered thinking and hyperactivity, but even further, as we gain new technologies that allow us to be more productive, those same technologies alter the dynamics of how we interact, and end up creating more demands for our time and energy then ever before.

Got a new cell phone? Good – now your boss can reach you on your day off. Wireless PDA, huh? Even better – expect to get e-mails all the time too. Mini-PC??? Word…we’ll just instant-message you those files then…

Basically, we’re juggling a schedule of constant demands and always-on electronics. We’re actually re-wiring our brains for what the technology industry now calls ‘continuous partial attention.’

In this digital age of distraction, we function at new levels of
stimulation and anxiety
: the internet spews information at us like a fire
hose, but to digest information we need to sip it through a straw.”
(adapted from Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D.)

So that’s one thing I’ll cover over the next few days with you: a plan to overcome distraction and information overload in this digital age. While it’s easy to talk about developing concentration and living in the present moment, rarely do we find wisdom on that updated enough to help us manage our time and attention in the reality of this technological world.

———— Upcoming Science ————

Another concept we’ll cover is Sports Psychology: the mental tools and cognitive methods professional athletes (specifically those Olympic heads) are trained to use to help them perform at their highest levels.

For instance, in the book Find Your Focus Zone (the joint quoted from above), Lucy talks about the upside down U-curve used in Sports Psychology to graph the nature of being “in the zone” – of having the the optimal level of focus needed for peak-performance.

The y-axis charts the level of attention and the x-axis the level of stimulation… how “into it” the athlete is feeling.

If stimulation is too low and in “underdrive,” (like when athletes start to train months before a race or competition), they use strategies to psyche themselves up.

On the other hand, if stimulation is too high and in “overdrive,” (like when an athlete is actually at the event nervously waiting at the starting line), they use strategies to calm themselves down.

So it’s kinda hot because there are so many parallels here that we can relate to. I tend to procrastinate most on a project when I feel that “I have plenty of time,” and then get hyper-stressed over it when I realize that the deadline is right around the corner.

(I’ve heard of this sports psychology thing before but never really looked into it. I’ll get back to you with the good stuff I find.)

Besides that, there’s also the Samurai metaphors and what not (which I haven’t really got into yet – so far we’ve been building on overcoming procrastination, improving concentration and building up your sense of self-worth), and I also want to talk about addictions.

I’ve been doing a little research here and there on it, but nothing too serious yet. What I’m looking for are ways to overcome addictions without drugs, surgery or any other form of “treatment.”

Fundamentally though, I feel like none of us are ever really “addicted” to any bad habit: historically, addicts were slaves given to Roman soldiers as a reward performance in battle, and so eventually, any person who was a slave to anything became known as an addict…

We call ourselves addicts when in reality, we’re simply just unconsciously devoted to or dependent on some external thing, which is different then being enslaved to it, feel me?

I believe that all habits are learned, and that we have bad habits (so-called “addictions”) for actually GOOD reasons. For instance, a person may use drugs to give themselves a false sense of self-confidence, which is essentially a healthy desire, just an UNHEALTHY way of meeting it.

And so it I see it as the same with all addictions: addictions persist when we lack other, healthier means of satisfying the needs they unconsciously fulfill.

More coming soon…

Peace :),

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to battle my greatest enemy – MYSELF
~ Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887…

>> The 7 Virtues of Bushido (A Breakdown of Samurai Code)
>> Session 2: Understanding & Overcoming Procrastination
>> Session 4: Perspectives for Self-Mastery
>> Find Your Focus Zone by Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D.
>> Download “The Power of Concentration” by Theron Q. Dumont for free
>> An online collection of Native American Wisdom


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