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On Meditation and Compounding

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Your breaks after a pomodoro (30 minutes) of deep work are 10-minute long, right?”

“Yes.”

What if you did a 5-minute meditation during every break?

All these little meditation rep(etition)s compound [<link; short read].

You start and end the day with a 10-minute meditation. That’s 20 minutes. 8 breaks – 4 hours of deep work – mean 40 more minutes. That’s easily one hour of meditation every day.”

“Beautiful idea.”

On cold showers

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important aspect of cold showers?”

The breathing.

Cold water, especially when very cold, produces a stress response. This manifests in increased heart rate and irregular breathing. By taking control of your breathing and slowing it down (conscious breathing), you slow down your heart rate, which has a calming effect.

The skill you’re practicing with cold showers is calmness in discomfort. This is an essential transferable life skill.”

On Music and Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What if you meditated while listening to music?

Wouldn’t it be distracting?

Depending on the music, it can serve as background, subtly influencing your emotional state, or as challenge, training against distractions.

Alternatively, you can make the music the very focus of meditation – the anchor. You can turn the musical experience into a loving grateful meditation.

On letting go

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I remember to let go?”

“Connect it with your breath.

Let go with every mindful breath.

Values Thinking

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Values Thinking?”

“Knowing what your values are is not enough.

Every value is a practice

Let’s say in a certain situation you can practice a specific value. I call this an OTPOpportunity to Practice

An important part of the practice is noticing the opportunity.

To notice the opportunity, the value must be active in your mind.”

“How do you make it active?”

“By thinking about it. This is an instance of priming.

To notice the opportunity to practice any value, your values as a system must be active in your mind.

Think in values. Actively evaluate everything in terms of your values.

Think of your values often.

Constantly ask yourself:

What values can I practice in this context?
What values can I practice now?

What values could I have practiced?

I call all these practices combined, Values Thinking.”

On Centering

The ancestor of every action is a thought. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize my centering practice?”

“You initiate and guide your practice with thoughts expressed as meaningful words – I call them word-thoughts

In attempting to optimize the process, you’re essentially asking:

When centering, what do I want to think?

You’re creating an optimal sequence of word-thoughts.”

“I have a tendency to overcomplicate it and create too long a sequence.”

“Make simplicity your mantra. Make the process three steps at most.

I call the first item of the sequence, the access-point. Make the access-point something deeply meaningful to you. Your highest value, your Center.

What is your Center?”

“Love.”

“That is your access-point.

Whenever you initiate the centering practice, think Love.

Let’s make it a three-step process.

What do you want the next two steps to be?”

“Breathing, and a body check.”

“So we have a sequence:

Love
Breathing
Body Check

This is the macro-sequence. Every item of the sequence can itself be a micro-sequence.

For instance, you can just breathe. But you can make it more powerful by smiling as you breathe and thinking ‘Peace’ –  the beautiful practice you’ve learned from Thich Nhat Hanh. 

Se we have a micro-sequence:

(Conscious) Breathing
– Smile
– Peace

What are the key aspects of the body check?”

“Noticing and adjusting my posture, noticing tension, accepting, and letting go.”

“So we have another micro-sequence:

Body Check
– Posture
– Tension
— Accept
— Let go

Visually, the process looks something like this:

Breathing, body check, posture and tension are essentially self-awareness practice.”

Still your waters

Every breath you take, every step you make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Still your waters. (Josh Waitzkin)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I still my waters? How do you go from stormy waters to still waters?”

“When your waters are stormy, that’s the best time to practice. That’s the ultimate stress test for whatever technique you’re using.

The best technique I’ve found involves breathing and a mantra.

Stilling your waters = Deep Breathing + Mantra

The mantra is key to the process. Its purpose is to slow down and distract your mind.

“What mantra?”

“The mantra can be one meaningful word that you say with each breath. (eg Love)

Or it can be two meaningful words, one on the inhalation, the other other on the exhalation. (eg Peace, Joy)

Or it can be multiple meaningful words, one with each breath. (eg your central values)

Play around, experiment. Do it every time you need to still your mind. The measure of success is how quickly you manage to do it.

This is the core of the practice. However you can add a few more little things to make it more powerful.

You can add a smile with each exhalation. This relaxes the muscles of the face which helps you relax.

You can make it a practice of Self-Love and Active Love.
Express Love to yourself and your beautiful BodyMind.
Bring to mind a person that is dear to you, or someone you’ve learned something from, and send them Love.

You can associate the practice with one of your Heroes, and bring them to mind whenever you practice.”

“Who did you associate the practice with?”

“Thich Nhat Hanh.

His teachings and way of being deeply resonate with me. Whenever I think of him, I bring to mind the title of one of his books, and smile:

Peace is every step.

Only I’ve added another line to it:

Peace is every step.
Peace is every breath.

Impromptu Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean by impromptu meditation?”

“Impromptu meditation is an unplanned meditation that can be done at any time, anywhere, improv style.”

“Is that even possible?”

“It requires some mental magic.

We all form a default mental image of the minimum length a meditation session is supposed to have. I like to think of it as our default unit of practice. The larger the size of the unit, the less flexible it is. If my unit is 5 minutes long and I only have 1 minute, I’m unable to practice. 
This is a top-down process. I’m metaphorically trying to fit something into a small space.

For maximum flexibility, the unit needs to be smaller. I call the smallest atomic unit of practice micro-meditation. A micro-meditation is one embodied breath (EBreath [<link; medium read]). 
This is a bottom-up process. I’m metaphorically filling up the available space, however small it is.”

“Like water.”

“Indeed.

So impromptu-meditation requires two things:
– a mental structure: the micro-meditation model
– a mental attitude: the Improviser mindset / model

Project Inventorying Habits

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I measure progress?”

“There are many metrics you can use. 
One of them is Identity [<link; medium read].
Another one is Productivity [<link; medium read].

Another one is Habits.

In an important sense, habits are the fundamental unit of Growth. They automate behavior, making it effortless, which frees mental-space and energy.

The Growth process is both additive and subtractive. As concerns habits, it involves two aspects:

Habit-Making: creating habits (Additive)
Habit-Breaking: eliminating habits (Subtractive)

All the habits you have created and eliminated over the years have led to where you are today. That’s why I like to call habits ‘the building-blocks of Fate’.

The problem with habits is that, once installed, they tend to disappear from Awareness. They become invisible. I find it useful to make them visible again. I call this process Habit Awareness

Habit Awareness: the meta-habit of bringing habits back into Awareness”

“Why do you find it useful to bring habits back into Awareness?”

“Part of it is to counter the tendency to take them for granted. Becoming aware of your habits opens the opportunity to appreciate them (Gratitude practice).

Part of it is that habits are resources. You can use them as anchors (reminders) and triggers for installing other habits.

I’ve started recently creating an inventory of all my habits. Both big and small. Both those I’ve created and those I’ve eliminated over the course of my life. The list is far from finished, but it already offers a beautiful glimpse of my growth trajectory and serves as a vivid reminder of how far I’ve come.”

On Implementation 3

Whenever you start a practice, always spend a moment connecting with yourself. (Aadil Palkhivala)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I make this actionable?”

“Start with understanding. 

Clarify and simplify. 
Disambiguate – Identify and resolve ambiguities.
Paraphrase – Express with your own words.

The quote is a life-algorithm [<link; medium length] of the form:

When x, do y.

When you start a practice session, Connect with yourself.

Or, using a different metaphoric-model:

When you start a practice session, Center yourself.

The next step is asking yourself:

What is the practice?
What are the components of the practice?
What specifically will you do?

The practice might look like this:

Connect with your beautiful BodyMind with every Breath. We might call this Embodied-Breathing.

When you start a practice session, Pause, Breathe and think x.

x might be a word expressing your Center, however you conceive of it:

When you start a practice session, Pause, Breathe and think Love.

Pausing, Embodied-Breathing, and evoking your Center are the specific components of the practice.”