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Lions Roar : March 2014
GPS of the mind THE GPS IN MY CAR never gets mad at me, no matter how many times I turn to avoid the torn-up street she has recommended. She just says, “Recalculating” and directs me to turn right, and then right again, until I am back where she wanted me—on the street blocked by construction. Again I select an alternative route. She quietly but firmly repeats, “Recalculating,” and I say back, “Hold on. Keep talking if you want. I know where I’m going. I’ll soon be where you want me to be.” When I finally rejoin the route she was aiming for, I almost expect her to say, “Good girl, Sylvia! You did it,” but she never does. We drive together qui- etly until the next time I need to disobey her instructions and she is right there again, firm but never impatient, ready to straighten me out. I am trying to cultivate a mind like a GPS. My mind GPS would be ever vigilant to where I am and unwavering in clarity about my destination, all the while never losing its patience and never challenging my confidence. My car GPS supplies a running graphic of a tiny car driving along my intended route and showing roads branching off from it that it hopes I’ll avoid. It offers advance warnings—“In two miles, keep left”—so I can avoid mistakes. My mind GPS would help me choose, moment to moment, the route that cultivates and maintains wholesome states in my mind. Any detour would immediately initiate a warning signal: “Leading to Unwholesome! Slow down! Consider! Maybe you need to back up! Or turn around!” SYLVIA BOORSTEIN, Ph.D., is a cofounding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the author of many best-selling books on Buddhism and mindfulness, including Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life. The GPS in your car can tell you the best road to take, but what helps you navigate life? What you need, says SYLVIA BOORSTEIN, is a ILLUSTRATIONS BY MIKE HOLMES SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2014 41