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The Root of Judgment, Character, and Will

Cory Muscara



Cory Muscara



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The Root of Judgment, Character, and Will

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hey, welcome back to

your Daily Mindfulness.

In today's session, I'm going to share

a quote about the power of attention.

The quote is by the great

American philosopher and

psychologist, William James.

And what he says is, "The faculty

of voluntarily bringing back a

wandering attention, over and

over again, is the very root of

judgment, character, and will.

An education which should

cultivate this faculty would be

the education par excellence."

The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a

wandering attention, over and over again.

Why does that sound so familiar?

Oh, I know.

It's exactly what we're

doing in meditation.

We give our mind something to focus

on, let's say the breath, the attention

wanders off, and then we bring it back.

It wanders off again, we bring it back.

It wanders again, we bring

it back, over and over.

But William James is making an interesting

argument here, which is that this capacity

of bringing back a wandering attention is

the root of judgment, character and will.

So let's examine that more closely.

The root of judgment, our ability to

assess, to discern this requires our

attention brought, be brought back to

the thing that we're trying to understand

so that we can see it more clearly to,

to bring a full concentration to it,

rather than just a loose awareness.

The closer we can bring our attention

to that thing, the more discerning

we can be about it, whether it's a

person, a problem or something within

ourselves that we're trying to understand

that requires a close attention.

But then he says, it's the root of

character, which we might understand

as how we show up in the world - our

ethics, morality, and integrity.

Well, that requires noticing when our less

skillful tendencies and impulses arise,

that causes us to react in ways that might

not be in alignment with our character.

Noticing when our attention gets

pulled to those things and then be

able to bring our attention back to

how we most want to be in the world.

And then lastly, he says,

this is the root of will.

So if we think of will as our capacity

to sustain effort and energy toward a

particular pursuit or goal, well, it's

very easy for our attention to wander

off when we start something like that,

even if we have the best of intentions.

Maybe you've noticed that.

So being able to notice when the mind

wanders off from that goal or pursuit

and redirect our attention back to it,

this becomes the foundation for will.

What I most love is that William

James went on to say that an education

which should cultivate this faculty

would be the education par excellence.

Said as if there is no

education that exists.

William James clearly didn't have

a subscription to Mindfulness.com.

In all seriousness, we, we now have

that education, it's meditation.

In fact, it's been around for thousands

of years and the more you practice,

the more you're training, this ability

to bring back a wandering attention.

But even outside of your meditation

practice, as you go about your day,

notice when your attention wanders

from what's most important to you

and see if you can practice bringing

it back to the point, right here.

As William James says, this is the

root of judgment, character and will.

And I think we can all agree

that those are important things.

So I'll talk to you about

this more in the meditation.

Thank you for your practice and take care.

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