Tag Archive | Modularity

On Movement: The Unit of Practice

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the fundamental unit of the Movement practice?”

I think not in terms of exercises, but movement-patterns.

Movement-patterns are modular-elements [<link; medium length] which form the basic building-blocks of Movement. 

Take the burpee for instance. 

The burpee, in essence, is a compound movement-pattern combining two basic movement-patterns: a push-up, and a vertical jump. By identifying the structural components, you can turn it into a template [<link; medium]:

Burpee Pattern = Push-Up + x

You can combine the push-up pattern with any other movement-pattern. This opens up creative possibilities.

And we can take this further:

2-Move Pattern = x + y

You can combine any movement-pattern with any other movement-pattern. This opens up a universe of possibilities.

The essence of the 2-move pattern is not in the movement-patterns themselves, but in the transition between them. We might even call the 2-move pattern, the transition-pattern

2-Move Pattern = Transition-Pattern

As you start learning a movement-pattern, the unit of practice is the exercise-pattern.

Exercise-Pattern = x + x

The focus is on doing quality repetitions (reps) of the same movement-pattern until you internalize it.

Once you’ve built a vocabulary of movement-patterns, the unit of practice becomes the transition-pattern.

Transition-Pattern = x + y

The focus is on doing quality transitional-reps. The essential quality of transitional-reps is fluidity.”

“What movement-patterns do you focus on.”

“I use Variety [<link; medium], Utility and Fun as my guides.”

On Magic and Models 6

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the most useful mental models you’ve learned from Magic the Gathering?”

“Two of them especially stand out: Modularity, and Synergy.”

“What is the essence of Modularity?”

“The basic elements that make up the game of Magic can be combined in a variety of ways. The fact that they can be combined can be thought of as an inherent property of those elements. I call this inherent property, Connectivity. I call the elements that have this property, modular-elements.

Some modular-elements can connect with more elements than others. We might say each modular-element has a certain connectivity-potential.

Now, imagine that you find some Magic cards without knowing the rules of the game. Would you be able to combine them?” 

“I guess not. The cards can be combined only within the context of the game.”

“Magic is a modular-system. The modular-elements that make up the system can be combined only within the system. I call these, contextual modular-elements.”

“Can you give some examples of modular systems?”

“One classic example is Lego. Another, less obvious example, is language. The most profound example is the Universe. Everything in the Universe is made up of combinations of the same basic building-blocks. The chemical elements are modular-elements. What we call “reality” is a modular-system.

“What is the essence of Synergy?”

“Modularity refers to a certain kind of elements – modular-elements.
Synergy refers to a certain kind of connections between those elements – I call these, synergistic-connections. In Magic terminology, a synergistic-connection is called a Combo.

The essence of synergistic-connections is Emergence. Two elements synergistically combined produce a higher-order structure or effect that is different than the sum of its parts. Viewed in terms of value, I call this, emergent-value.

We’ve talked a while ago about my love of playing with making connections between things – what I called the Connections Game [<link; short length]. We might say the essence of the Connections Game is the discovery of emergent-value.”

Identity Design

The strongest force in the human personality is the need to remain consistent with how we define ourselves. (Tony Robbins)

Your sense of identity is the strongest psychological force in your entire life. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Who are you?

I am Multitude.

I’ve grown immensely in the last few years. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to change so much in such a short time-span. This is what led me to create the model of life-density [<link; medium read].

There are many metrics you can use to measure progress. In my case, the most dramatic perhaps is my Identity Map, as I like to call it.

What does it look like?

What you see is just a part of it, a selection.

My Identity-Map

As I grow, I’ll certainly be adding more. Everything on the map I express as ‘I am…‘.

I’m using Brian Johnson‘s beautiful Big Three model, which identifies the essential areas of one’s life as being three in number.

The Big Three:
– Energy
– Work
– Love

What’s the reasoning behind it?

What’s important to understand is that, a few years ago, I started essentially from scratch. A blank page and a question at the top – one of the most important questions of my life:

Who do you want to be?

And, in time, I started adding to it. It took a few years of inner and outer exploration and countless iterations to reach its current form.

What was a key point in this process?

A realization which I had early on, which came as a sudden spark of insight:

Identity is a resource.

In a profound sense, at that point I became the Designer of my life. And much of the dramatic growth that followed was an outgrowth of this idea seed.

I’ve since realized that Identity is key to unlocking your full potential.

You become who you conceive as capable of becoming. That’s why it’s essential to Think Big [<link; medium read].

Another way to think of it is as an expression of a principle from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

Begin with the end in mind.

I call the items that make up the identity-map, identity-blocks. Every identity-block unlocks possibilities. It’s like a design blueprint for your life.

Some identity-blocks are not yet fully realized (eg Leader). Metaphorically, we could say they’re still at seedling stage.

Some identity-blocks are representational-models [link; medium read]. They’re shaping my Inner Reality, a process which I call ‘Reality Painting‘.

Some identity-blocks are tools, they have a powerful priming effect in the moment.

What were the identity-blocks that had the most dramatic impact on the process of identity creation?

In chronological order:

I am Creativity / a Creator.
I am a Life-Artist.
I am a Big Thinker.
I am a Polymath.
I am Multitude.

On Deep Work and Templating

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize Deep Work?”

Think of it as a template.

I like to think of the work-day as consisting of a number of ‘slots‘ [another model].

Deep Work
Slot 1
Slot 2
Slot 3

The slots represent the fixed part of the template. 
Their content, number and order represent the variable part of the template.

Each slot corresponds to a single work-task, and they form a sequence [<link; short read], in the order of importance – from the most important to the least important.”

“What does your typical work day look like?”

“It looks like this:

Deep Work
Slot 1: Writing
Slot 2: Learning
Slot 3: Reward (work-related, random)”

“Do the slots have a fixed length?”

“No. This is a modular structure – it expands or contracts based on the available time.

The deep-work unit is the pomodoro – 25 minutes of deep focus, followed by a 5-minute break.

The 5 minutes are also a buffer, in case I have a hard time breaking away from the work. 25 minutes is the floor, 30 minutes is the ceiling. [floor/ceiling model]”

“That’s a nice problem to have.”

“When you’re doing deeply meaningful work, that’s usually the case, I imagine.

When I exceed the 5-minute buffer, it’s a subtle sign that I may need a longer rest.

For quality work, rest is essential.

Quality work requires alternating between work and rest. I call this the Oscillation System.

The beauty of the pomodoro structure is that it has a built-in break. I call this the micro-oscillation.

You’re able to maintain peak focus for 2-3 pomodoros in a row – what I call a deep-work-block. After that, the quality of the work starts to decline. After a deep-work-block, you need a longer break. I call this the macro-oscillation.”

“How long a break do you take after a deep-work-block?”

“The length of the break is proportional to the number of pomodoros I’ve done in a row, how rested I am, and the time of day. The later in the day, the longer breaks I need.

p p break
p p p longer break
p p p p even longer break

[p stands for pomodoro]

Ideally, each slot consists of at least one deep-work-block. But when time is limited, the minimum [the floor] is one pomodoro.”

“Don’t you take any days off?”



Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What is templating?

Templating is the practical use of templates. You’re familiar with the template in computer-use.

You mean the preset formats for documents and such?

Yes. That’s but one application of it.

In essence, the template as a model is a structure with two components: one fixed and one variable.

Can you give some examples?


You can use templating to create an optimal structure for the day (day template). The fixed part of the template is the part of the day you have most control over: the beginning and end of the day. Someone called them the AM and PM Bookends. And you can go granular. You can have templates for the bookends themselves (AM/PM templates) and for your working hours as well (deep-work template).

You can use templating with movement (movement templates). You can have a fixed part of a few selected movements, and play with building on and around them.

To optimize any activity, you can turn it into a template.

You can also use templating with language (linguistic templates).

My favorite linguistic template has to do with questions (question templates).

For instance let’s take the question,

How can you optimize Optimization ?

We can transform it into a template by identifying the variable part:

How can you optimize z ? (Template)

z‘ here is a variable. You could replace it with… well, anything.

How can you optimize Learning ?
How can you optimize Conversation ?
How can you optimize Questioning ?

And we can further deconstruct the question:

How can you y ? (Template)

‘y’ here is another variable.

How can you beautify z ? (Template)
How can you play with z ? (Template)
How can you turn z into creative inspiration ? (Template)

The furthest deconstruction level is:

How x ? (Fundamental Template)

This is the most basic question template. I call it a question kernel.

I presume the other question kernels are:

Why x ?
What x
Where x ?
When x ?”

Indeed. These are the fundamental seeds from which the Art of Asking Questions (Questioning) grows.

Modular Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“One of the biggest stumbling blocks when trying to initiate an action is getting started.

I like to think of it in terms of ‘mental chunking‘. The larger a chunk you mentally represent an action as, the harder an obstacle it seems to overcome, so the harder it is to get started. Human beings seem to have an uncanny ability to create and exaggerate mental obstacles for themselves.

Building on that, what’s the difference between a 20-minute block of time and four 5-minute block of time? On the surface, there isn’t any. But in terms of mental chunking, the difference is huge.

This can be used strategically.”


Think in 5-minute time blocks.

There are several benefits to it.

Let’s take meditation. The small chunks make it more likely to initiate the practice. The end of a 5-minute block can serve as a reminder to bring your wandering attention back to your ‘anchor’, your point of focus.”

“Like a ‘backup anchor’.”


Focusing on meditation as a practice, you can (metaphorically) think of the blocks as rep[etition]s. This can give a better sense of progress: ‘I’ve completed one more rep’. If your attention was completely off focus during a rep, if time allows, you can squeeze one more rep in. It’s also a way to create small wins throughout the day.

For me however, the most important benefit is that you can make each 5-minute block themed. For instance, you can have one dedicated to affirmations, one to gratitude, etc. You can think of them as modules. Even better, you can think of them as reusable modules, which you can combine and play with to create beautiful structures.

For instance you can alternate still and moving meditation blocks, creating a beautiful oscillation. Or you can have a balancing-meditation block, followed by tree-climbing-meditation block, followed by one whose theme is contemplation of Beauty.”

“What if I wanted to use 10-minute blocks?”

“The length of the blocks is not set in stone. It’s just one more parameter to play and experiment with.”