This week I wish to turn our attention to illusions. We live with many different forms of illusions and often fail to recognize just how pervasive they are. For example, there are all of those common visual illusions; the two lines that appear uneven but are exactly the same length, the famous moon illusion, the faces and vases illusion and so forth. But there are also the audio illusions. We often miss parts of speech and yet our brains fill this in for us. One study you can find on YouTube that illustrates well how errors of this nature occur shows a person following a women with her shoe as she runs away thinking he might be a mugger. He yells out to her, stop—your shoe. However, almost everyone hears, “Stop or I’ll shoot.” Circumstances, surroundings, a whole host of subliminal cues lead to our interpretation and it’s very often completely wrong!
Attention Created Illusions
Then there are those illusions that arise as a result of attention. The famous invisible gorilla experiment is one such example. Again on YouTube you can find the clip, just search gorilla experiment. So just imagine that you are asked to watch a short video with six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-passing basketballs around. You are charged with keeping track of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. Intent on getting the count correct almost no one sees the gorilla stroll into the room. As unbelievable as this may sound—it’s true.
Here however is the form of illusion that I want to bring into focus today. We often believe that we are in charge of our own thinking, that we make our own decisions, that we’re our own bosses. This is truly an illusion. In my book, Choices and Illusions, the illusion that we make our own decisions is fully fleshed out, as are the steps that must be taken to truly make our own choices, but an important aspect comes down to simply becoming mindful.
Nowadays mindfulness and meditation are conflated and I suppose there’s no harm in this, but where there are many advantages to meditation, I’m not addressing that when I say mindful. Mindfulness comes down to attending to our every thought as though it mattered. Think about that for a moment.
35 to 48 Thoughts Every Minute
The estimate is that we all have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, and this translates to between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute. It’s only when we pause to think about what we’re thinking, each thought weighed from the perspective of where did this come from, why did I have it, do I want to own it, and so forth, that we can we begin to assume charge of what’s in our non-conscious. And as I have pointed in past blogs, it is your non-conscious that makes your choices.
Krishnamurti once stated, paraphrased some, “Choice is an illusion. Do I do this or do I do that—questions that arise from confusion. When I know clearly—there is no choice.” I will add this, until I know clearly what the script in my non-conscious mind is—I can only guess at why I make the choices I make.
I would encourage you all to become mindful beginning today. Try it out as just an exercise for a day and see what you discover about yourself. Success is a journey and finding how high is up is a kin to the search for the core of the onion. It matters not how successful you are or what you have achieved, there is always more to learn about ourselves. And with each new uncovering, we afford ourselves the opportunity to improve—to become yet better at being our best.
You Are A Gift
I do believe that we are all a gift from the Divine. And I do believe that the only way you can repay the Giver is by maximizing your every talent and ability. Hiding yourself from yourself for whatever reason, call it self-defense as in our subconscious defense strategies, or under-developed potential due to some nasty things that might have been said to you at some time in your life, or whatever else including the mistaken notion that you are right where you’re suppose to be, perfect as you are—and you diminish yourself accordingly. My thoughts anyway.
Thanks for the read,
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions