Shards of Consciousness

How to Clean the Doors of Perception

Imagine you're in a submarine. How do you communicate with the world around you?

You have a periscope and sonar to see. Acoustical sensors to hear. You can feel things hitting your hull. You may have radar for when you're on the surface. All the data brought in by these sensors has to be interpreted to have meaning.

So you cruise along, surrounded by the sea, sensing things, interpreting them, reaching conclusions about their meaning, changing your direction based on what you experience.

Over time brine or other particles builds up on your sensors. They need cleaning and maintenance to operate at top efficiency again.

Over time you fall into habit, as the same incoming data leads to the same conclusions and boredom sets in. When something unusual does happen, you try to fit it in the pattern of the past. You are slow to respond, and may even miss the unusual signal, that something which is new. You need to get some retraining or learn to be alert again.


We have a similar situation in our bodies. All the data we gather about our environment comes in through our senses. As babies we learn to interpret it, As we grow we learn to give it meaning based on our experience. As we become older yet, when something happens, we try to understand it in terms of things that have come before. More, we may become lulled as we go through the round of wake, sleep, eat, work, talk, and listen. Our responses become habit. The robot takes over.

Deep inside we know this is a problem. Each year we spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours and dollars to find something new, something exciting to shake us from the round of habit we have built for ourselves. We go to movies and amusement parks. We read the new best seller, twitter, and blogs. We watch sporting events and the best reality shows, all to leave behind the mundanity we sense we have created for ourselves.

Meditation is a cheaper, more effective way to re-awaken the excitement we felt when we were young. In the words of Aldous Huxley, meditation can cleanse the doors of perception so that what was old, becomes new again. Try it. Fifteen minutes a day for a new life? It's a small investment.

2 Responses to How to Clean the Doors of Perception

  • Hmmm but why are the things we do to excite our sense bad? why is going to the movies, having a dance, laughing with friends, travelling, sharing wine, not enough? I think it's the smaller things in life which shake us out of what otherwise might be boredom...

  • Sensations aren't bad in and of themselves. They are our gateway to the world outside us. Attachment to sensations is another story. It thrusts us into the wind, so that rather than our lives being directed by ourselves, our lives are directed by what we experience. Rather than acting, we begin to react. Reaction becomes habit. Habit takes over our lives. Boredom results as we find that we are mechanically going through our days, rather than actively putting ourselves into them.

    The new activity we seek is an attempt to overcome this mechanical repetition, which we know, at some level, is stifling us. Thus, I say sensations in an of themselves aren't bad, but the search for new sensation is more effectively replaced by other exercises, such as meditation.

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