This post is a summary of the introduction of my Master's thesis and disseration in neuroscience, which was somewhat the theoretical basis on which I built Mindtrek as a "formal" practice.
The theoretical approach to the contemplative aspects of Mindtrek is based on the psychology of bhavacakra, a map conceived within Tibetan Buddhism, usually interpreted as a representation of the existential cycle of life and rebirths, but which at a deeper level describes the psychological dynamics. of our mind in detail. This anthropological and psychological approach could be defined as "neuro-cultural" in the sense that it attempts to interconnect the Tibetan Buddhist vision of the mind, conscience, awareness, mental afflictions and conditioning, with the neuroscientific literature on the most current research in the field of mindfulness, and with my direct experiential contemplative path that is continually in progress.
The central point of the "mindfulness" issue, against the background of bhavacakra, is that progressive mental training in awareness of one's own mental dynamics allows the individual to manage life events in a less stressful way and to make more thoughtful choices. Awareness thus manifests itself as a form of freedom, as a value and a fundamental psychological goal finely worked out in Buddhism.
Although mindfulness can have various functions depending on traditions and objectives, all these functions can be traced back to two similar but profoundly different modalities:
- "Hedonistic mindfulness", in which awareness is used as a tool to alleviate current suffering on a short term and "without effort", a typical function of modern Western mindfulness.
- "Eudemonic Mindfulness" in which awareness is used as one of the inalienable tools for the absolute cessation of suffering, in times extended often to future lives, with effort (for example by developing the six paramitas) and not without suffering: "One must try to understand dukkha [suffering], and not try to eliminate it” explains the Theravaddin monk Ajan Sumedho, expressing with cutting clarity the essential function of mindfulness in all the schools of Buddhism.
A eudemonic approach does not necessarily imply a renunciation of immediate pleasures (indeed, in some cases it uses them for a higher good), but a purely hedonistic approach does not allow to develop in itself the profound well-being that all contemplative practices seek, the same way ibuprofen, while reducing the headache, by itself does not cure the flu.
Let me be clear: the two modalities are not in conflict. In both cases, the immediate goal of the meditator is not a temporary escape from reality nor a moment of relaxation for its own sake, since these two mental states are decidedly "mindless". On the contrary: stepping aside from ordinary life and seeking to relax one's own mind are instruments to regain control over one's attentional, analytical, empathic potentials, normally clouded by a flow of mental afflictions that are the cause of all stress and egotic tendencies ...