Meditation makes us realize we do not control the influx of our thoughts. This is the very first thing one might realize just after a few minutes of meditation.

The majority of thoughts are automatic. The contents of our mind seem to come and go. Information enters our mind. Multiple information then triggers the insights. The information we allow into our mind is obviously not from us. The insight triggered by these information doesn’t feel like something we worked for. insight cannot be predetermined. Are we then at the mercy of our mind and the outside world of information? Is there something in our mental space we can actually control?

What does feel like “us” is this watcher that pays attention to the contents that come and go inside our heads. This is what we can control.

Stoicism argues that what happens in our physical body and environment is beyond our control. Only our reactions to what happens in the objective physical world is what we can control. Where we turn the camera towards and for how long is what we can control. Attention is the ultimate domain of freedom but it is also and ultimate battleground. Attention is a commodity that companies in the Internet age wants. Protecting our attention is protecting our freedom.

Because this is the only thing we can control, we could conclude that everything is ultimately a mental game (majority of life is subjective experiences). The quality of our lives is directly proportional with the quality of our emotions, which is to say, the quality of our mental states (The quality of my entire life is the quality of my habitual emotions - Tony Robbins; to affect the quality of the day thoreau). This, in turn, is determined by how good we are in controling the only thing we can truly control: our attention.

While most things in your physical and mental environments are beyond our control, we can control what we pay attention to and when and how we direct attention.

We can also develop this skill of controlling our attention. We can develop it through meditation, photography (Photography is mindfulness training), walking, and managing distractions. In therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works wonders.



  • What is this watcher? Define and elaborate. It is an ancient Eastern concept but is there a scientific counterpart to it?