Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two

Brain =\= iPod

You know that song you've got stuck in your head?

The one that keeps looping, probably just one particular phrase, over and over again somewhere in the back of your mind?
Mine's "Black Coffee in Bed" by the Squeeze, at the moment. It's catchy, but it's not too annoying, so I'm okay with it.

But can you turn it off?

As is my habit when I'm trying to rein in the more wild extravagances of my all-too-febrile brain, I trying to meditate last night. The first step for me in meditation (and often, due to my sluggardly lack of discipline, the only step..) is to just be conscious of what my brain is doing. It's like I can roll back the scroll-wheel, and watch the camera zoom back, and I just try and perceive what it is that my brain is doing. And how odd is that? I mean, after all - who's doing the perceiving, and how is that different than the thought that I have from day to day?

So I'm watching all the little beavers in my brain build their dam, scurrying around gnawing on trees, fighting with each other, carrying wood, stacking it, arranging it, tamping it down with their little tails... what? You don't imagine your busy thoughts as a pack of beavers? Well, whatever, insert the metaphor of your choice. Anyway, I realize that I've got a song stuck in my head. It was, if I recall correctly, "Accidentally in Love" by the Counting Crows.

Wishing my brain to be like an iPod, I hit the pause button, so to speak. Stop it, brain, I don't want to be mentally singing right now, I want to be taming the wild beavers so that the order of my mind is stately and sedate, rather than formless and scurrying! But the brain, it didn't comply. For a second the song would stop, but as soon as I directed my focus elsewhere (a nanosecond, in other words) the band struck up again.

I decided that I wanted to experiment with this phenomenon. Could I pick another song, hit the "skip" button on my mental (seriously mental!) iPod? No, I can't.

But I was really hearing the song, I mean, not like it was outloud, but I heard the voice of the singer, the chords, the whole thing. So let's experiment with that. Could I mentally change the singer's voice? I picked someone I know who used to sing in the shower and the car a lot, and tried to superimpose her voice, instead of Adam Duritz. (Who I ate sushi with, by the way) It worked! I could hear her voice singing along. Okay, now change the band to being... a bunch of accordian and tuba players? It worked! But with each change that I made in the song, my mental impression of it became less clear, and as soon as I stopped focusing on it, it snapped back to the regular "real" version instantly.

What a curious thing our consciousness is! I encourage all of you, my friends, to experiment with your own thoughts, and observe the patterns and processes of your brain.

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