Mind is the boss, isn’t it?  You cannot mess around with it!

    I refer to my mind respectfully as your honor. I think the salutation suits my Judging mind very well!

    Remember Judge Dredd from comic books? The street judge who could arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals. Mind works a bit like that – except in most cases it stops short of the execution part.

    And I found out that this judge mind was quite goofy. To start with, it has a proclivity for verbal delusion – getting hung up on words rather than what the words mean to convey.

    I have heard that once this judge was walking along the beach when he saw a boy in the water who was flapping his hands wildly. “Shark, Help me!” he was yelling. The judge looked at the poor boy and shook his head.

    “It is God you need to ask for help not the Shark – say God help me. Besides, Sharks don’t even understand English!”

    Another thing that this judge is prone to is wrong logic and inference.

    In the book Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, Douglas Adams talks about this great logician who got so overconfident that he proved black was white and white was black. But the poor guy got killed on the next zebra crossing! Our Judge is somewhat like that.

    A wise sage called Patanjali figured the reasons why our mind acts goofy more than two millennia ago. He called out five reasons or ways the mind acts goofy including the interesting ones that we just covered.

    Another wise sage called Buddha simplified the logic of mind’s goofiness to something much simpler. He said that the basic reason for this goofiness is because of mind’s tendency to judge. It starts with the basic judgment of "I like it” and “I don’t like it” which then leads to craving and aversion and then a host of other complex judgments giving rise to feelings that we typically recognize as bad – anger, jealousy and others.

    Buddha and Patanjali also recommended specific tricks & techniques to address the goofiness of mind.

    Modern day neuroscience has thrown some more light on the mechanisms of this goofiness. Of course since the mind is intangible and we can perceive its existence but cannot touch it, the scientists continue to examine the brain to make some of these inferences.

    They found out a network known as Default Mode Network (DMN) that lights up with mental chatter. This network is inversely correlated to the activity of Task Positive Network (TPN) that has been correlated to focus problem solving - one of the least goofy things Judge mind is capable of doing. In other words, our ability to perform (non- goofy) focused problem solving gets impeded by (goofy) mental chatter. Something that is probably obvious. But then ‘smoking kills’ was obvious as well but it took several decades and ‘scientific studies’ before this commonsense became a commonly accepted fact.

    Talking about scientific studies, Dr. Gary Weber, a renowned DMN expert, was part of a famous study at Yale that demonstrated that folks who knew a specific trick could shut down their DMN therefore shutting down mental chatter - perhaps the single biggest cause of the goofiness of mind.

    This was the same trick that Patanjali & Buddha had figured out more than 2000 years ago. 

    And what is this trick? It is very simple, really:  learning how to have your attention not engage with mental chatter.

    “Is that all?" you ask?

    It is indeed.

    So where do you start? Start with experientially understanding what your attention really is, then explore the nature of thoughts and finally understand the interplay between your thoughts and your attention. 

    This trick to handle the Goofy Judge forms the core of all mindfulness related teachings across ages. And when you are ready to explore, be assured that you will have a guide to help you. And that guide is within you.

    MindGym Initiative conducts free workshops where participants can explore the nature of mental chatter and learn the trick to handle our goofy mind. This trick is also described in the book Unbox! Upcoming workshops are posted in the events section.