The study of psychology has always been fascinating to me. Why? Because I have yet to find a discipline in existence more capable of helping me to determine why I behave the way that I do. Whether that be based on being picked up too much or too little as an infant, getting too much exposure to television at an early age, or not getting to play with my favorite toy when I really wanted to, I hold strong that my previous experiences chiefly form the lenses in which I view life today. Call it my belief system or organizing principle, psychology enables me to bring all of those behavior patterns out into the open so that the ones which no longer work can be changed (by me).
The problem with the above, however, is that I can only take it so far. Meaning, psychology is a great mapping tool, but if I’m ever to get off the merry-go-round of my mind I must find a way to transcend the story, enter the body, and make conscious connection with something much deeper. Enter meditation.
Author Jeffrey Rubin shares a similar perspective. He and his new book, The Art of Flourishing: A New East-West Approach to Staying Sane and Finding Love in an Insane World are the topics of this recent Huffington Post by Jesse Kronbluth. Rubin, who applies a psychology and meditation hybrid, has found that meditation helps to quiet and focus the mind. In doing so, unconscious psychological material is more freely able to come into consciousness.
And what’s the point of all of this? According to Rubin, to flourish.
Jesse Kornbluth: So, Doctor Rubin, what is “flourishing?”
Jeffrey Rubin: Here’s the short answer: Flourishing is cultivating better relationships by enriching one’s self-care and self-awareness.
Now I’ll give you the longer version. For me, flourishing begins with resisting the frenetic pace and the bombardment of information and expanding inner space. Meditation and yoga, reading and music help me access inner space. You might get there by walking in nature, writing in a journal or cooking a meal.
I thrive when I appreciate beauty, so I try to remain alert to three areas — physical beauty, the virtuosity of artists, athletes, and performers and admirable deeds and virtuous character.
We are what we care about. Another important aspect of flourishing for me is living my highest values. And when there is a gap between my ideals and my behavior — which there sometimes is — I try to lessen it. These gaps signal what I need to work on.
Read more from Rubin on using meditation and psychology to enrich your life here.