Mindful adaptation is a human characteristic involving application of cognitive imagination and attention to learning in order to adapt to a situation or condition.
Evolution by natural selection and adaptation dictates the results of my actions: what I do determines what I get. I have NO cognitive say in this process – it is a universal law.
I can, however, use my cognitive ability to imagine and direct my thoughts, to learn, and to adapt my thinking to a situation. This is mindful adaptation and has an effect on the relationship between cause and effect.
What I THINK matters!
When the basketball player steps up to the free-throw line, s/he has a choice as to what will happen. Many studies have shown that by cognitively imagining the ball dropping into the basket, the player significantly improves the odds of that happening. The player has, by use of his/her imagination, affected the process of cause and effect.
When my thoughts are based on fear, I’ll make an effort to control the mindbogglingly complex matrix that is my universe – futilely seeking to simplify the immensity of the task to such a degree that I might comprehend and maybe bend the immutable laws of evolution to my will.
My disregard or ignorance of natural law does not protect me from the consequences of my choices.
The reality is that I use my imagination to simply make me feel better about my ineptitude. Better to feel like I can control my environment than to feel helpless against it. And that’s where mindfulness gets confused with control…
What about Adaptation?
An example of default adaptation: Let’s say I sit in my chair all day, every day. The result of this behavior will likely be that my butt becomes larger and flatter, my muscles atrophy, and my thoughts become stagnant. I will have adapted to my behaviors according to the natural [default] laws of evolution.
I might interpret this so that I FEEL as though I have cognitive control over it. I might attribute my increasing weight and muscle atrophy to a lack of proper diet and exercise (which, may indeed be contributors) no matter how good my diet or how often I exercise. In the end, I will likely gain weight to satisfy the law of evolution by natural selection and adaptation – the default setting for the universe.
I MUST satisfy the law because I’ve accepted the default. I may use misattribution to make myself feel better about it. Yet, I remain as helpless as ever concerning my weight and muscle atrophy, in this example because I’m NOT YET WAKE enough to take charge of it.
What about Mindful Adaptation?
“We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” – Werner Heisenberg
And that may be my key to taking charge of my universe – asking useful questions! No matter what the universe “dishes up for me” – I am in charge of my imagination. I am in charge of my attention. The “I” about which I’m speaking is that part of me that DIRECTS attention. Usually, that part of me is my ego – the default. It doesn’t have to be, though.
I can practice mindfulness – paying attention, asking open-ended questions, invoking pure curiosity, resisting the temptation to “control your thoughts” and “behave yourself” when it comes to thinking and considering. In other words, keeping an open mind!
Positive affirmations seem like a good idea for making mindfulness work in this dimension. Yet, many of my own favorite “positive” affirmations are merely hopeful wishes based on satisfying my needs or calming my fears. Seldom do I engage in affirming that which is – as it is. I almost always want to make a change because I don’t like the way things are now.
Positive affirmations are seldom affirmations. Rather, they are merely my efforts at wishful thinking – and another way to affirm default adaptation.
Mindfulness involves noticing my Self and focusing attention mindfully. Paying attention to the default is one way to get started into the realm of mindful adaptation.
Notice, accept, then affirm:
- “I sense [something happening]…”
- “I am allowing it to happen just as it is happening…”
- “It is so!”
Short mantra: “Everything is as it is right now as I affirm it.”
I like to remind myself that:
- The universe is as I believe it! What I observe in the universe is the reflection of what I believe – a metaphor – so it behooves me to pay attention to it!
- The universe doesn’t need me nearly as much as I need the universe.
- In wholeness, there is no need.
- When I fully comprehend my relationship with the universe, I may release my need for it and awaken to wholeness…
- Perhaps awakening is the ultimate adaptation!