Saturday, December 17, 2005

Panic Perspective

Panic Perspective, Tokyo Tower, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, December 2003, Sony Cybershot, Exposure 1/125 sec @ f2.8, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp

Have you ever tried this? I've been in a few high buildings and towers that have a small section of their floor made out of glass so you can look straight down, and even walk over a "window", as shown in this picture. It gave me a strange sensation. I've watched many people who can't even bring themselves to step onto the glass. And though I'll do that, it still comes with a variety of uncontrollable thoughts -- based on fear and panic.

Imagine that. You sit over to the side, secure in the rational knowledge that the tower is structurally sound. In this case, it's been there for over 50 years, so you "know" it is not going to fall down. So there you are, reasonably comfortable in the corner, and you look over to this small glass window in the floor. You see people walking around it, then giggling, and walking over it. You see a few brave souls jumping up and down on it. Once again, you know it has been over-engineered so that it will not fail, and yet that panic emotion arises in you anyway, to some degree, as you step onto the glass and look down.

How can it be that we have this well-trained mind, and yet we can't fully control our base emotions? I realize they are instinctual, to help protect us from falling into the abyss, and I also realize that we do control them to the point where most of us can step on the glass. But why can't my rational mind, my "higher" mind, tell these emotions to just cool it, and not to bother me. Like the smoke detector in my house, that beeps when the battery dies: there seems to be no way to completely silence this mind that is trying to protect you from harm.

Or is there? My curiosity was peaked so I did something that was not possible only a few years ago (we are so lucky) -- I Googled it! And sure enough, I came upon an article that makes specific use of mindfulness techniques to focus on the present moment. Amazing to me because of my recent exploration into the Now (see this post for more information).

Anyways, I found the whole experience fascinating, and believe it can give us some direct experiential insight into how the mind works, and what to do about it! Enjoy your ability to scale new heights!

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