Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's not me, it's my brain

(random photo from my flickr: garden in re-used pond liner at Cart'm Recycling Center on the Oregon Coast)


I continue to find it difficult to get certain things done, and to make choices. Next spring I must remember this and just not take on too many things besides the Buddhist festival.

Now rather than my own laziness, I can blame the way the brain works, according to Scientific American. When we take on too many decisions, it wearies our brain. If we waste our "executive function" on little things like what movie to see, or which clothes to wear, we don't have as much capacity left for making the big decisions. That could explain why (perhaps this is a myth) Albert Einstein had clothes for each day of the week so he wouldn't have to decide. It could explain why there's a stereotype of high-powered decision-maker types liking the submissive role in sex play...maybe when we have to use a lot of brain-power for big decisions, we need to have someone else take charge to counterbalance those decisions.

This could also explain why spiritual traditions have rituals that give us focus without having to make decisions about the little stuff. You don't have to make a choice about eating a cookie, or when to go to bed, or even when to stand up. In Zen meditation, and meditation retreats, this is all prescribed. You just sit. You just do the ceremony. You just eat what is put in front of you. Those little rhythms of life are taken care of, and this allows the bigger rhythms to become apparent.

Indeed the very act these past few weeks of trying to choose what to write about next has depleted my "executive function," so I then write nothing. Perhaps I need to prioritize meditation itself to replenish that brain muscle.

I have developed a small habit of avoidance that involves shopping online, be it clothes or bags or little trinkets. (Small as in I surf around at ebags every 3 months or so.) Maybe those little decisions become more attractive than bigger decisions. So now I find myself possibly entering into that slithery world of spiritual materialism by coveting this. Is that bad? Good thing I can't seem to decide between that one and this one. It's possible I could delay that decision to infinity.

1 comment:

truffula said...

It's possible I could delay that decision to infinity.

I save myself a fair bit of $ this way.