Dr. Miles Neale is a psychotherapist, speaker and a two-decade-student of Tibetan Buddhism.
Miles is the author of Gradual Awakening: The Tibetan Buddhist Path of Becoming Fully Human. Proceeds from the book support the Kopan Nunnery in Nepal.
For some reason(s), our brains are wired to seek novelty. Perhaps it’s an evolutionary hangover of some sort. Maybe it stems from the fact that in that in ancient times we needed to be hyper aware of any change or anomaly in our environment because it might kill us, feed us, or, God forbid, squirt something bubblegum flavored in our mouths (objectively one of the worst tastes humans have ever conjured).
Regardless of why– In the same way that a Bloodhound is conditioned to stick its nose to the ground, we’re on constant high-alert for novelty. If it’s beautiful, weird, interesting, emotional, gross or delicious, we want it.
I’m highlighting this because that, in turn, implies that we forsake the mundane and the undesirable. In other words we ignore a large part of reality. That’s a problem because all of the above acute desires lead to distraction or, at most, momentary satisfaction. When that stimulation passes, we’re left listless looking for the next novelty hit. That’s addict behavior. It’s the hedonic treadmill. It’s a glossy first-world, numbing agent.
What’s the alternative?
To sacralize and sink into the whole of reality, not just the novel and plush. We must interface with and accept the mundane; even the suffering. I’m not necessarily saying we can be completely successful in doing so, but there’s tremendous grace and perspective in trying.
That’s one of the primary lessons I took from this fabulous rap with Dr. Miles Neale. If you’re not familiar, he’s a psychologist and long-time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. He doesn’t downplay the importance of pleasure or peak experience, but he’s very plugged into the less sexy aspects of happiness and spiritual development. The small stuff, the every day and yes, even the suffering we try our best to ignore. It’s quite refreshing.
His latest book Gradual Awakening is out now. You can find it anywhere books are sold.
Musings in this mind meld
Should we be combining different modalities to achieve wellness (psychedelics, meditation, shamanism, etcetera)?
How Dr. Miles wound up turning to psychology, Tibetan Buddhism and a seeking path
Studying at the site of the buddha’s awakening
The importance of humble spirituality
Experience isn’t enough, we need to integrate experiences through every day action
How to recognize and get away from routines that perpetuate our misery
Types of suffering according to Buddhism
Why just mindfulness isn’t enough
- Fusing Campbell’s mono myth/hero’s journey with Buddhism