We humans have a way of lying to ourselves. We may do it intentionally, but often we don’t even realize we are doing it. We create stories. As time goes on, we start to believe those stories are true. If the story is challenged, we are quick to defend what we believe is true.

When I was younger, I spent a few years in Los Angeles. Next door to me lived a musician who went on to become a rock star in heavy metal. Dave Mustaine had recently split from Metallica, a rock band that was on the threshold of fame at the time. We became friends, and he would come over on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons. He always brought his guitar and would sit there practicing Bach sinfonias.

I had been brought up on classical and church music. Hearing the familiar Bach played at high speed on an electric guitar blew me away. I remember saying to Dave, “Wow, you are an incredible musician. But your band sound like cacophony.” I thought I was defending real music, and encouraging him to create something better than the heavy metal noise my ears were not used to.

Dave was thoroughly offended. He asked me if I ever listened to any heavy metal, which I had not. “You just don’t have an open mind,” he scoffed. I could not believe that I was not open-minded. I was convinced that I knew better. Nevertheless, I began forcing myself to listen to heavy metal bands, and trying to figure out what he meant.

This story is not about trying to convince anyone that heavy metal is worth listening to. We all have our preferences in entertainment. Yet unless we open our minds to trying new things, giving more patience and time to the unfamiliar, we are only enforcing those ruts in the paths of our thoughts.

Okay, so maybe our opinions are right. But then again, maybe there’s more information that we are missing. When we defend a position, be it an opinion in a social conversation or a stance in a war, we reinforce rigidness. We search for dialogue within that supports our stance.

Meditation helps us relax and gives us a break from our rigid thoughts. It opens a space in our minds that softens the steel. If we all give each other – and ourselves – enough space, all, war can dissolve into a distant memory.

Photo of Dave Mustaine in Moscow by Денис Седов (letter to OTRS) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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