Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Day 104: The joys of a clear thesis statement

What went well? 

  1. If you've been following this blog then you are well up to date with the journey/struggles I have gone through with this Buddhism x Mindfulness research paper! In particular, I had been tearing my hair out trying to figure out what I'm actually trying to argue, since the scope (and length) of my paper exploded and became overwhelming. Well, today, I went and saw a Learning Instructor at the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (the equivalent of an Academic Skills Advisor at Melbourne) to get some help with clarifying my thesis statement. That was a struggle too, and actually she didn't say all that much. But the process and the "deliberate practice" and continued thinking it required - just talking about my paper and ideas for more than an hour - unlocked ideas, and I thought of a thesis statement as I walked out the door. Here it is!! 
    • "The meaning and origins of the concept of mindfulness have been oversimplified, but this was essential for the mainstreaming of the concept, or the “mindfulness revolution”. This enthusiasm has, in turn, stimulated a new and dynamic discourse about the complexities of mindfulness and its relationship with Buddhism. "
  2. And, got really positive feedback from my professor about this thesis statement, so am feeling much better about this paper now:
    • My reaction: Yayyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!
  3. Went to a talk, "How the Heart and Mind Connect: The Neuroscience of Meditation." It was so profound and brought some clarity into my day.
  4. Had another class debate for Buddhism! I was reading a sermon in the role of a 10-year-old novice monk, and it was really fun.

  5. Positive psychology lecture today was on the positivity ratio controversy. It was so good to get a new perspective on the issue that helped me feel more compassion and respect towards Fredrickson, who has suffered so much from this controversy. I now realise that the blame rests not only on her, but mostly on her dodgy collaborator Losada (who must have known full well what he was doing with his absurd application of mathematics), as well as on the reviewers who never questioned a paper that didn't really make sense and let it through for publication, and every other psychologist who cited and talked about the paper without fully understanding it. We can learn a lot from these controversies, and it helps our discipline grow through self-reflection, even while the reputation of both the people involved and the discipline suffer too.

What did I learn? 

  • It really, really helps to talk your ideas through with someone for an extended amount of time, even if they aren't necessarily providing much input or reflecting on what you're said. Just talking about it stimulates thought and clarifies what you're trying to get across. So I've gone from a reaction of "MRAHHHHHHHHHH" (literally) every time I look at my paper to a feeling of calm confidence moving forward with restructuring and rewriting parts of it.
  • The grad student who delivered the guest lecture in positive psychology today had debunked the positivity ratio paper 4 years before Brown et al. did, but chose not to publish the paper because he was new to the field and it would not be gracious. So interesting to hear about the politics and tact required as an emerging academic.
  • With mindfulness, often attention and intention are uncoordinated. So, attention -> awareness and worldview -> intention, but these are often not working together. But, if we can coordinate them, so that we get attention and intention working together, then we'll be filling our awareness with stuff we actually care about.

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