Meditazione: ciò che non t’aspetti

É sorprendente scoprire che molti imprenditori e manager praticano quotidianamente pratiche di meditazione. Mi riferisco principalmente alla California, e chissà in quali altri posti questo fenomeno stia evolvendo.

In Creativity, Inc. parla Ed Catmull, presidente di Pixar e Disney Animation. Sapere che Catmull pratica quotidianamente la meditazione Vipassana m’ha aiutato ad apprezzarne i contenuti: esperienze, pensieri, citazioni, pregni di un’approccio mindful, per quanto il libro sia dedicato principalmente al management. É stato necessario spingersi fino a pagina 235 per sentire Ed parlare del suo primo ritiro al Shambhala Mountain Center, Colorado. Un regalo della moglie Susan…

Catmull va oltre il semplice racconto di una settimana di ritiro. Ecco un paradosso, raccontato dall’autore, che mi ha colpito al cuore:

Two groups – one made up of experienced Zen meditators, the other of non-meditators – were given the exact same type of pain experience: a thermal heat source strapped to one calf. What researchers discovered by looking at the brain imaging was that even though the experienced meditators weren’t actively meditating in the course of the experiment, the threshold for pain was much higher than the non-meditators’. The meditators’ brains where paying attention to the pain, but because they knew how to turn off the inner chatter, they were better able to tolerate pain than those who did not practice meditation.
Next, McGonigal cited a similar study done at Wake Forest University that focused on a group of brand new meditators who’d undergone only four days of training. When they were brought into the laboratory and given the same pain test, some where able to tolerate greater levels of pain than others. Why? The temptation might be to surmise that these people were simply quick studies in the art of meditation, that they were better at it than others. Brain and enjoy showed, however, that in fact their minds where doing the opposite of what experienced meditators’ minds do. Instead of paying attention to the moment they were in, McGonigal said, “they were inhibiting sensory information – somehow shifting with their attention to ignore what was happening in the present moment. And that was giving rise to less suffering: inhibiting the awareness rather than carefully attending to it.”
I found this fascinating – and analogous to behavior I’d witnessed as a manager. McGonigal was talking about the brain’s tendency to suppress problems instead of facing them head-on. What makes this even more difficult is that the people who were suppressing thought that they were doing the same thing as the people who were addressing the problem. It is sobering to think that in trying to be mindful, some of us accidentally end up being exactly the opposite. We deflect and ignore. And for a while, at least, this behavior can even yield good results. But in the experiments McGonigal cited, people who made the practice of becoming mindful didn’t ignore the problem at hand – in this case, the painful heat source strapped to their legs. They saw and felt it for what it was but quieted their reaction to it – the brain’s natural tendency to amplify by overthinking – and thus coped much better.
Ho rivisto me stesso, la mia pratica di meditazione, e come essa possa essere distorta, dopo esser stata presa a modello, sortendo talvolta risultati opposti a quelli sperati.
La meditazione si svela durante la pratica. Le insidie continuano a celarsi ovunque.

find out more about: