Tag Archive | Modularity

Modular Meditation 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Remember Kenton Whitman’s wonderful GLOW meditation [<link, video]?

Yes. Remind me what GLOW stands for.

  • Gratitude – bringing to mind one or more things that you are grateful for, focusing on the feeling.
  • Love – bringing to mind one or more things that you love, again focusing on the feeling.
  • Oneness – releasing your sense of self and feeling the connection with any and everything.
  • Wonder – accessing curiosity: ‘I wonder what magical amazing wonderful unexpected surprises are going to come into my life today.’

I’ve recently discovered another wonderful meditation by Vishen Lakhiani. He calls it the 6-phase meditation [<link, video]:

  • Love and Compassion feeling the energy of love and compassion radiating from you, and gradually expanding the feeling to all humanity and every living being on Earth.
  • Gratitude – bringing to mind multiple things that you are grateful for, to produce an emotional flooding [<link; short read] effect.
  • Forgiveness – bringing to mind someone you haven’t yet forgiven and forgiving them.
  • Future Dreaming (Creative Visualization) – thinking of some aspect of your life a few years into the future and imagining yourself experiencing the ideal outcome, feeling the joy you would feel as if it were already happening.
  • The Perfect Day – thinking about what you want/have to do today and visualizing each of them unfolding in the most perfect way possible.
  • The Blessing – imagining there’s a loving higher power above you that’s supporting you in your vision and intentions and giving you endless strength and energy.

I notice a pronounced imagination component in Vishen’s meditation.

That’s the beauty of it. It’s also imagination and visualization practice.

Which one do you like more?

“Notice how both have the same structure in that they are made of several components. I like to call this kind meditation structure modular meditation. Each of the components that make up the meditation is an interchangeable module

I like both meditations, so I’m taking pieces from both and creating my own meditation.

What does it look like?

It’s a play in progress. I’m experimenting with it.


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How come you no longer play Magic the Gathering?

I discovered the principles that underlie what I love about Magic: Modularity and Synergy.

I call Modularity the principle behind Magic’s Lego-like structure, the property of the pieces that make up the game to combine in myriad ways. In the words of Mark Rosewater, Magic’s head designer:

Magic is really not one game but a series of different games connected by a shared rule set and game pieces.

I call Synergy the principle behind what in Magic (and other similar card games) is called a combo. The pieces that make up the game can combine to produce an emergent effect more powerful than the individual pieces. 

Understanding the principles allowed me to transcend the game. I’m now playing a meta-game.

What meta-game?

“The meta-game of Language and Meaning. It’s a game with extraordinary practical application, governed by the same principles as Magic: Modularity and Synergy. Units of language and meaning are modular elements. They can be combined to form new emergent structures. Think of all the two-word concepts I’ve been creating. Those are synergistic structures – combos.

Magic will always be a part of me. I’m now playing Magic even while not playing Magic.”

Explorers of Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you make of Austin Kleon’s idea ‘Steal like an artist’?”

“‘Stealing’ is a metaphor. Implicit to the concept of stealing is the concept of ownership. So implicit to ‘steal like an artist’ is the idea that ideas can be owned.

I reject this notion. We are part of a vast collective process [<link; short read], a form of collective play.

We are all playing in the same universe of meaning. We are all playing with the same building-blocks of meaning. We combine building-blocks to form new blocks, like children playing with Legos. (I call the underlying principle, Modularity.)

Some of the blocks we combine have emergent properties. An emergent block of meaning represents a higher-order level of organization [<link; short read]. Think how atoms combine to form cells, which combine to form emergent higher and higher-order living structures – the same process applies to meaning. (I call the underlying principle, Chunking.)

We are explorers of meaning.

Over the course of a lifetime, every human being can explore a tiny possibility space within the universe of meaning. Taken as a whole however, at the level of humanity, we can explore a vast possibility space – and the more interconnected the world becomes, the vaster this space.”

On Language and Beauty

The creation of language was the first singularity for humans. It changed everything. Life after language was unimaginable to those on the far side before it. (Kevin Kelly)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Language is one of the most powerful and beautiful technologies we possess. Language is our interface with reality and with one another. Language is a reality-shaping tool; it shapes both our inner and outer reality. Language unlocks a universe of possibility.

Language is a miracle. And, as with most miracles, we take it for granted.”

“Reminds me of a quote by G. K. Chesterton:

The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.

“We usually think of wonder in relation to the vast and the grand. Those are the obvious wonders. But most wonders are hiding in plain sight, patiently waiting for us to grow wiser.

Language is a beautiful game with three components:


We can think of the first one as the substance, and of the last two as the form.

Meaning is the heart of the game, and a universe in itself. Meaning is the fundamental playground of the Thinker.”

“Does this mean meaning is the most important?”

“There’s a beauty of meaning, a beauty of style, and a beauty of structure.

Structure is the rules of the game: syntax, grammar, and punctuation. Language is a modular game – a bit like Lego. Its elements can be combined in some ways but not others. Knowing the rules gives insight into the inner workings of the game, which can make you a better player.

Style is the beautiful expression of meaning, governed by its own set of rules: simplicity, clarity, brevity, expressiveness, resonance, rhythm, and maybe others I have yet to discover. Knowing these rules can also make you a better player.

A beautiful idea is beautiful regardless of style or structure. Structure and style make the idea communicable and impactful. How you express an idea matters. A beautiful idea expressed beautifully is more likely to have an impact on the world.

Ultimately, the game of language is a multiplayer game.”

Modular Writing

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What is modular writing?

Let’s take this article on modular writing as an example.

When I start writing, I have a vague idea of where I want to get to. As I’m writing, I’m clarifying it to myself.

So you’re discovering what you want to write about as you’re writing.


I develop the idea through exploration. I don’t try to force the process. I let ideas emerge organically.

For instance, the idea about writing about the piece I’m writing was unplanned, it emerged spontaneously.

What if no ideas emerge?

Then I take a break. Breaks are an essential aspect of the creative process. Expressed as a principle, I call it creative oscillation. I call the off part of the oscillation, the creative pause.

Structurally, I use short sentences, like this one.

A bit like tweet writing?


The goal is to create more or less self-contained units – modules – which, through an iterative process, I develop and eventually assemble into the final piece.

Quotes as Resource: Quote Combos

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are quote combos?”

“In Magic the Gathering, cards can be combined to achieve an emergent effect more powerful than the individual cards. I call the underlying principle, Synergy. In the game’s terminology, a synergistic combination of cards is called a combo.

By default, people think of quotes as single entities. However, just like in Magic, quotes can be combined to amplify their effect. This is what I call a quote combo.”

“Can you give an example?”


Less but better. (Greg McKeown, Essentialism)

The small things are the big things. (Josh Waitzkin)

How you do anything is how you do everything. (Josh Waitzkin)

This is a powerful quote combo that expresses an essential aspect of my life philosophy. I have it pinned on the desktop of my computer to see it at all times.”

Levels of Organization

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What do you mean by levels of organization? How are they different from levels of magnification [<link; medium read]?

Levels of magnification are based on scale.
Levels of organization are based on systems.

Every aspect of reality can be thought of as a series of nested systems. Systems within systems within systems.

Like those matryoshka dolls?


The smallest elements combine to form larger elements, which combine to form larger elements, which themselves combine to form larger and larger and larger elements.

I call this process Chunking

Every level of organization can be metaphorically thought of as a ‘chunk‘. A chunk is an emergent higher-order level that contains all lower-order levels.

I call the capacity of the elements to combine and form new configurations of elements with emergent properties, Modularity.

Some elements make better combinations than others. We might think of them as having a connectivity potential. I call this potential, Synergy.


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is happiness?”

“If you look up happiness quotes on Google, you’ll find a huge variety of perspectives on what happiness is, many incompatible with one another.

Every single one of those perspectives is a conceptual model.

In trying to ‘make sense‘ of the word, people do just that – they create meaning. Something that is meaningful to them.

I call this process, model-making.
I call taking control of this process, intentional model-making.

The essence of intentional model-making was beautifully expressed by Bruce Lee:

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is uniquely yours. 

The ultimate goal is to create your own model of happiness.”

Beautiful Models: Access-Patterns

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are access-patterns?”

“You’ve undoubtedly heard of the rule of three.” 

“The idea that things are more memorable (and aesthetic) when presented in threes.”


I call such a meaningful group of three elements, a triad-pattern

A triad-patten also makes things more memorable when retrieving them from your own mind, so it can be used as a memory-retrieval tool.

I call patterns that can be used for memory retrieval, access-patterns.

The triad is but one such pattern.”

“Can you give some examples of other access-patterns?”

“It’s better if I show some to you:


“What is the meaning of the colors?”

“All elements in blue are the access-point of the pattern, the first thing you think about when accessing the pattern mentally.”

“So the patterns with more than one blue element have multiple access-points.”


The monad-pattern is concept-stacking [<link; short read] – fusing concepts together for practical ends. 

For instance, my central value is Loving Play, which means the twin value of Love and Play. 

Another example is my concept of BodyMind, which is a means of expressing the oneness of body and mind.

All other access-patterns are instances of what I call concept-linking – connecting concepts for the purpose of retrieval and creating meaning.

The patterns on the first row are linear-patterns, patterns where the order matters. The rest are non-linear patterns.

For instance let’s take Brian Johnson’s Big Three model: Energy, Work, Love. Here, the order matters, the sequence is what makes it memorable.

We could however express it in a way where verticality matters:


We can think of it as a pyramid, where Energy is the foundation, and Love is the highest end. It’s the same triad, but by changing the pattern, we’ve encoded additional meaning.

Another example of this is the cardinal tetrad-pattern, where the four elements mirror the four cardinal directions. The visual representation encodes additional meaning, making it more memorable.”

The Parkour Walk

Be your unapologetically weird self. (Chris Sacca)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I go for a walk every single day. It’s not your typical walk. It’s a game.”

“What’s the game about?”

“It’s one of those endlessly evolving games. 

Structurally, it’s a collection of rules and themes. The rules serve as creative limitations [<link; short read]; the themes serve as guidelines. 

The game is modular. Adding and removing rules and themes is itself a part of the game.

The main theme of the game is Parkour.”

“So you’re training Parkour every day?”

“Yes. And I plan to never stop.

The game is a playful exploration of my neighborhood – or whatever location I’m in. 

The main rule of the game is to always take a different route.

We have a tendency to take the same route and do the same things every time, to get stuck in habitual patterns. The rule ties in with one of the game’s themes, which is pattern-breaking – breaking out of familiar patterns.

In taking a different route I’m also scouting the neighborhood to discover potential training spots and challenges, and I’m creating a mental training map.

Another theme of the game is what I call creative training. Going beyond the obvious, and looking for creative training possibilities within the environment.

One aspect of it is an idea I adore, which I know from Max Henry [<link], one of my favorite Parkour practitioners and coaches. It’s called Something Out of Nothing. Looking at a seemingly uninteresting spot in the environment and coming up with creative ways of playing with it.

Another theme is Quantity. By that, I mean maximizing training density. Getting as much training done as possible within that time span. One aspect of it is maximizing the use of what I call transitional space – the space between training spots or rep(etition)s.”

“Can you give an example?”

“Let’s say I want to get from training spot A to training spot B. The space between the spots is a transitional space. I could walk the distance, or I could QM the distance – traverse it using Quadruperdal Movement, so on all fours. In the second case, I’m increasing training density, I get more training done.

Or let’s say I jump from point A to point B. This is one rep. I could choose to walk back to A and do another rep, or to jump back from B to A. In the second case, I’m increasing training density. In the same time span I’ve performed two reps instead of one.

Another theme is Quality. The how is as important as the what. This means striving to be as present as possible at all times, and only counting quality reps – or beautiful reps, as I like to call them.

Another theme is Variety. I aim to move in as many different ways as possible. In the same session I might jump on the markings of a parking lot, balance on a fence, vault over a garbage can, climb a tree, roll on a patch of grass, do a wall-run followed by a climb-up, etc.

I live on the 8th floor, so every session ends with a little strength & conditioning session up the stairs – I always take the stairs.

And yet another theme is a focus on the fundamentals of Parkour. I don’t train only the fundamentals, but there’s no session in which I don’t train some of them.”

“Don’t you mind looking weird to the people around you?”

“That’s an essential aspect of the practice.”