Tag Archive | Meditation

The Scope of Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the ultimate scope of Meditation?”

“It’s important to realize that Meditation is a means to an end, not the end itself.

When you want to learn a skill, a good strategy is to identify the essential subs-kills, and train each of them individually [Deconstruction, Isolation, 80/20], with the scope of eventually putting them back together [Integration].

Meditation is Attention training.

Attention (along with Meaning) dictates the quality of your experience.”

“If Meditation represents a sub-skill, what is the skill?”

Experiencing life FULLY.

We might call this Experiential-Depth, or Aliveness.”

On Love and Presence

Fragment from imaginary dialogues

“Meditation is a practice, so a means to an end. What is its end?”

The skill of Presence.

The skill determines the amount of time you spend in the present moment – how present you are in your own life –, which reflects the level of control over your own mental/emotional processes.”

“So Meditation is the practice of the skill of Presence.”

“Yes.

I also like to think of Meditation as the unit of practice.”

“Why do you keep redrawing the map of the practice?”

“I’m constantly trying to simplify it, to get to the essence of it.”

“What’s the newest insight?”

To practice Presence is to practice Love.

The map of the Presence practice

The practice has two components:

Attention
Maintaining your attention on one thing. It can be the breath, or anything else.

Acceptance
The response to your present experience, whatever it is. 

We might call them Loving Attention and Loving Acceptance.”

“What about Kindness and Compassion?”

I see Kindness, Compassion and Gratitude as expressions of Love.

Daily Rituals 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Viewed through the 80/20 (Pareto) filter, what’s the most important part of the day, the 20%?”

“The beginning and the end. Those are the parts you have most control over. They give the day structure and momentum. I like to think of them as the AM and PM Rituals.”

“What’s your process for creating them?”

“I start with two questions:

What do you want to think?
What do you want to do?

As concerns the thinking, there’s two aspects to it:

How do you want to think about the process in the moment? [as a means to make it meaningful]

eg

The process as Ritual
The process as
Meditation

What’s the first thing you want to think when you wake up in the morning?
What’s the first thing you want to think when you close your eyes at night?

You can have a (slightly different) little mantra for each.

eg

I want to start and end the day with Love and Gratitude, so my mantra has the structure:

Good morning/night Dani
Love mantra
Gratitude mantra

As concerns the doing, this has to do with creating sequences of specific actions. You can think of them as checklists. You can start by having them written down, until you internalize them.

eg

AM Ritual:
Making bed
Drinking water
Meditation
Activation [
energizing yourself]
– Mental: Writing / Journaling
– Physical: Moving
Priming [
readying your Compass]
– Recommitment
[Purpose, Goals]

PM Ritual:
Reflection on the day
– Writing / Journaling
Preparation for the next day
Priming [
something for your mind to work on over night]
– MIQ (Most Important Question)
Meditation

“Does the order in which you do them matter?”

“It doesn’t.

Play with them, experiment.
Experiment with the content,
experiment with the sequencing,
experiment with the duration,
until you find the structure that works best for you.

One important aspect is to not just go through the motions. 

How you do them is as important as doing them. 

Strive to do them mindfully, to be totally present in the doing. That’s the purpose of thinking of the entire process as Meditation. You can even ask yourself at the end:

How present was I?

Meditation as mental model

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The highest-expression of Models Thinking is when you start creating mental models. When it becomes a creative playground.”

“Can you give an example?”

“Let’s take meditation.

Thinking of it as a practice, it has the following components: 

One-pointed Attention: focusing your attention on one point.
Open-Focus: gradually expanding your awareness-field inwardly and outwardly.
Meta-Awareness: noticing when your attention (inevitably) wanders.
Self-Compassion: gently and non-judgmentally bringing it back to your focal-point.

Thinking of it as a model, the practice can be expanded in application.

Any activity can be thought of as meditation. 

The components of the meditation-practice are the properties of the meditation-model. In thinking of the activity as meditation, all the properties of the meditation-model are transferred to the activity. We might call this contextual-meditation.”

“How is this different from, say, thinking of something as art?”

“It’s the same fundamental principle. Thinking of something as something else. The difference lies in their specificity and instrumentality

Thinking of something as art operates on a representational level.
Thinking of something as meditation operates on a representational and practical level.
The former is fuzzy and non-specific; the latter is actionable and highly specific.”

On Presence and Meditation 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I practice Presence?”

“The goal is for it to become a habit.

Use James Clear’s four rules as a guide.

Make it obvious. (Cue)
Make it attractive. (Craving)
Make it easy. (Response)
Make it satisfying. (Reward)”

“How can I make it easy?”

“As we’ve talked before [<link; medium read], the Meditation practice is the fundamental unit of the Presence practice. Thinking of the Presence practice in terms of rep(etition)s, it consists of ‘meditation-reps‘, and every meditation-rep consists of what I called ‘attentional-reps‘.

Let’s turn our attention to Meditation.

There’s two ways you can structure it:

By focusing on time. eg ‘Meditate for 5 minutes.’ 

By focusing on breaths. eg ‘Meditate for 5 breaths.'”

“How about focusing on activity? Performing an activity as meditation.
eg ‘eating-meditation’, or ‘dish-washing-meditation’, or ‘shower-meditation’.”

“The idea of making it easy is to make it too small to fail, to ensure consistency of practice. To do that, you need scalable structures, structures of adjustable length. You need to be able to identify the smallest possible unit – the ‘atom‘, so to speak. 

The atom of the Meditation practice is 1 breath. I call it the 1-breath meditation.

Not only is it doable anywhere at any time, but it also incorporates the breath into the practice, which is a powerful tool on its own.”

“By why focus on time at all, and not just on breaths?”

“There’s a Buddhist meditation practice – which I know from Mark Divine’s book Unbeatable Mind – of counting to 10 breaths. Whenever you notice your attention has wandered, you start back from zero.

There’s two principles at work here: mindful breaths, and counting breaths. We could call mindful breaths quality reps. These are the only ones worth counting.

I find counting breaths very useful, because it’s a way to assess how well you’re doing, which allows you to practice more deliberately. Ideally, count using your fingers, not mentally.

As long as you’re counting breaths, focusing on time works just as well.

There’s three ways you can go about it.

You can count to a set number. Meditate for x breaths. This can take a long or short time, based on the chosen number, and how well you’re doing.

You can count to a set time. Meditate for y minutes. Get as many mindful reps in as you can in that time-frame. It can be 5 minutes (5-minute meditation), it can even be just 1 minute (1-minute meditation).

You can count to a set number and a set time. Meditate for x breaths or y minutes, whichever comes first.

On Presence and Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogue

“What is the relationship between Meditation and Presence?”

“In my model, the Meditation practice is the fundamental unit of the Presence practice.”

“What do you mean?”

The essence of Meditation is focusing your attention on a single point. (Focus-Point, or Anchor)

Viewed as a practice, and thinking of it in terms of rep(etition)s, like in physical training, what counts as one rep?

One rep is noticing when your attention inevitably wanders, nonjudgmentally, and gently bringing it back to your Focus-Point. (Attentional-Rep)

We can metaphorically think of it as a balancing act. Whenever your attention is wandering, you’re off balance. Every attentional-rep is the act of regaining balance.

I like to think of Meditation as the Micro-Practice.

Presence is the Macro-Practice.

Every Meditation session is one rep of the Macro-Practice. (Meditation-Rep)

The Presence Macro-Practice

You can get some great benefits from Meditating just once a day in the morning. However the more you do it, the greater the benefits.

There’s two approaches:
– going deep: few long Meditation sessions (Macro-Meditations)
– going wide: many short Meditation sessions (Micro-Meditations)”

“Which is your approach?”

“The ultimate goal of the Presence Macro-Practice is being Present all day every day.

To that end, my (experimental) approach is to go wide, to do numerous Micro-Meditation-Reps throughout the day.”

Morning Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How long do you meditate in the morning?”

I see my entire morning ritual as meditation.

I make my bed as meditation.
I drink water as meditation.
I brush my teeth as meditation.
I activate my Mind and Body as meditation.
I sit down to write as meditation.”

Turning obstacles upside down 2

Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. (Chuang Tzu)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I woke up in an unresourceful state again.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“Frustrated.”

“Why?”

“It messes with my morning practice.”

“So it messes with an expectation for things to be in a certain way.”

“I guess it does.”

“What’s in your control?”

How I RESPOND to it.

“NEVER forget that.

What’s the best response?”

Inversion[<link; medium read].

The Obstacle is the Way.

“That’s the spirit.

Let go of expectations.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, that BECOMES your practice.

Embrace it. 
Give it your full attention.

Turn every obstacle into MEDITATION.

Every obstacle is ALL obstacles.

Every obstacle is a potential Evolution-Point.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, EVOLVE.

The Life-Stacking Game 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I increase life-density [<link; medium read]?

“I’ve come to realize life-stacking [<link; medium read] is key.

Life-stacking is a mental model.”

“You’re now finding models everywhere.”

“I’ve fallen in love with them. This is a kind of priming, which acts as a perceptual filter.

I’m playing with models all day long: learning, collecting, creating, deconstructing, classifying.

As concerns life-stacking, it has two main uses: selective and creative.

Selective-stacking is a filtering process.
Creative-stacking is a creative process.”

“Can you give an example of each?”

“As concerns selective-sacking, let’s say you want to pursue an activity to amplify your growth and enrich your life. Which one might you choose?”

“There are so many to choose from.”

“Precisely. It’s important to explore, but as a general strategy, choose the one that is most meaningful. Using selective-stacking, choose the one which satisfies the most values. I call this value-stacking.

For instance, Parkour is deeply meaningful to me because it satisfies so many of my values: Playfulness, Movement, Beauty, Creativity, Discipline, Freedom, Self-expression, Community, among others.

Another use of selective-stacking is in prioritizing.

For instance, habits are the essential building blocks of your life. If you want to turn your life around, which ones might you start with? Using selective-stacking, focus on those which impact multiple systems of your life.

As concerns creative-stacking, let’s take meditation. 

You can do it at home, and it works. This is the default for most of us.

You can do it in the park. You thus get the additional benefit of a walk to the park, a movement snack – which can be a meditation in itself –, and a little nature bathing. Life-stacking.

You can do it in a tree in the park. You thus get the additional benefit of a climb, another movement snack  – which can be a meditation in itself –, and if you do it very high up in the tree, you get some fear-training as well. Creative-stacking.”

“How long are your meditation sessions?”

“The longest one is in the morning, right after I get up. Up to 20 minutes.”

“‘Up to?'”

“It varies based on the available time. 20 minutes is the ceiling. The floor is 5 minutes.

Then I do multiple 5-minute meditations throughout the day. You could call them meditation-snacks.”

Transitional-Time

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Some years ago, while living in Bucharest (Romania), I used to think half an hour to get to work was too long. Now, living in London, only one hour is a good deal.”

“So two hours per day just to get to and back from work? That’s too long.”

Depends what you do with it. Two hours is four pomodoros* of reading.”

“So you use the pomodoro for reading as well?”

“That’s one of my latest optimizations. The little break allows me to give my eyes a break. I usually fill it with a micro-meditation.”


* Pomodoro: 25 minutes of deep focused work/play, 5 minutes break