Tag Archive | Presence

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.”

On Celebration and Beauty

Fragment from an older imaginary dialogue

“How did you celebrate new year’s?”

“I didn’t. I no longer celebrate the year. I celebrate the day every day.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Celebration is commonly seen as something done on certain occasions, with a certain frequency.

What does celebration mean for you?”

“As you know, Beauty is one of my central values. It’s a profound filter through which I look at life – a ‘reality-filter‘.

I view celebration through the filter of Beauty.

I view celebration as Beautiful.

I view the act of celebration as Beautifying.

Moment to moment to moment I celebrate Beauty.

The Beauty of Life, 
the Beauty of my many Gifts, 
the Beauty of my BodyMind, 
the Beauty of Moving,
the Beauty of Growing,
the Beauty of Obstacles,
the Beauty of Playing,
the Beauty of Creating,
and, many many more.

And, above all, 
the Beauty of Awareness.”

Sequencing

The best thing that can happen to a human being is to find a problem, to fall in love with that problem, and to live trying to solve that problem, unless another problem even more lovable appears. (Karl Popper)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s your lovable problem?”

“I have many. I like to think of them as beautiful puzzles, and I express them as questions. However I’m focusing on one at a time.”

“Which puzzle are you focusing on at the moment?”

“The order in which you do things matters. One puzzle can help you solve other puzzles. I call this process sequencing. Expressed as a question, it looks like this:

What is the optimal order to solve these puzzles?

You can think of it as a meta-puzzle.

To answer your question, my present focus is:

How to make fluid presence second nature, like breathing?

This question was inspired Josh Waitzkin.

I’ve come to realize that Presence is the most important meta-skill, hence the mot important Practice of all.”

Beautiful Systems: Implementation 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“We’ve talked before [<link; medium read] about Habits being one essential component of the Implementation system. What other components does the system have?”

“It’s a work in progress. Here’s a general overview of what it looks like at this stage. I like to think of it as the design-blueprint.

Key related system: Presence

Key value: Simplicity

I have these written at the top of the document, as two very important reference points. Working on Implementation goes hand in hand with working on Presence, and Simplicity is an essential guideline for my design philosophy.

As a practical approach, I’m using the Design/Development model.”

“What is that?”

“It means that, together, Design and Development form an iterative cycle.”

“So like implementation cycles?”

“Yes. I start with design, then follow it with development. I identify failure-points, and based on this feedback, I start a new cycle.

Design and Development form the two areas of the document.

Design

Questioning
Deconstructing
Modelling
Systematizing

These are my macro-tools of trade. 

Development

Anchoring

Priming
(Implementation Intentions, Contextual Priming, Deliberate Practice)

Experimenting
(Feedback Loop, Problem/Diagnosis/Design, Tracking)

Habits
Algorithms
Checklists
Specificity

These are the bread and butter of Implementation, which we’ll be talking about in the future.

I conceptualize all components of the system as models.”

“A models-deck [<link; medium read]?”

“Yes. I’m reading it before every implementation session to selectively activate key resources. This is what I mean by contextual-priming.”

The most important Life-Systems

Energy, not time, is our most precious resource. (Jim Loehr, The Power of Full Engagement)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the most important life-systems?”

Those that impact ALL systems of your life. I call them meta-systems.

Using the network model, with systems as the nodes, the most important systems are the central nodes, those connected to all other nodes.”

“Which are those?”

“I’ve identified three:

The Energy System
The Meaning System
The Lucidity System

The Energy System is the Life-Spring, the Foundation upon which all other life-systems rest. Without energy, nothing is possible. Beautifully managed, it opens the doors to peak performance and the expression of one’s Genius, and sets the stage for exploring the limits of the possible.

It includes (as subsystems):
– Sleep/Recovery (Oscillation)
– Movement
– Eating

The Meaning System, or the WHY System, paints the macro-background of your life. Things draw meaning from their context. This system, on a deeply profound level, creates the context for EVERYTHING you do, big and small, and creates direction.

It includes:
– your ‘axioms of being’, your model of reality; how things are, structurally and representationally
– your ‘axioms of living‘, your Life Philosophy; how to live
– your Values
– your Identity
– your Purpose
– your Goals

The Lucidity System is the experiential interface with reality, which opens the doors of Perception into the realm of the eternal Now. I like to think of it as the Macro-Meditation [<link; short read]. The ultimate Practice.”

“Why do you call it Lucidity and not, say, Presence?”

“It’s a practical and aesthetic choice.

The Lucidity System has two components: Lucid-Living and Lucid-Dreaming. The linguistic choice structures them into a coherent system.

The Lucid-Living System includes:
– Presence/Embodiment
– Focus (Open-Focus, Deep-Focus, Selective-Focus)
– Flow”

“What are the advantages of seeing them as systems?”

“Systems-Thinking is fundamentally practical.

Thinking in systems shows how everything connects with everything else, and beautifully reveals the intricate web of interconnections.”

“So it’s also holistic.”

“Yes.

More specifically, it helps in three ways:
Prediction: How changes in one system impact other systems
Optimization: Identifying subsystems allows for refinement and maintenance
Access: Makes information retrieval easier; accessing a system makes all its subcomponents readily available.

It’s also aesthetically beautiful. One of the invisible aspects of my Life-Art.

The reason why I love Parkour is that it is at the intersection of all three systems: Energy, Meaning and Lucidity.”

Reclaiming verbal empties

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Thank you.”

“Do you actually feel Gratitude (substantial), or just going through the motions (formal)?”

“I guess I was kind of going through the motions.”

“We sometimes utter words without connecting with their meaning. I call such instances verbal empties.

One component of Artful Living is the reclaiming of verbal empties.

Saying ‘thank you’ is a beautiful opportunity to practice Gratitude.

Saying ‘I love x’ is a beautiful opportunity to connect with the universe of Love.

On Thoughts and Beauty

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Thoughts are a beautiful thing.”

“Some of them.”

“I mean thoughts in what they are. Their ‘substance‘, so to speak.
In terms of content, yes, some do not seem to be of any use.”

“‘Seem‘?”

“I like to make a distinction between resourceful/creative and unresourceful thoughts. And I like to think of the latter as (part of) the Inner Obstacle.

Obstacles are fundamental to our growth. Every unresourceful thought is a Beautiful Opportunity for PRACTICE.

“What’s the Practice?”

“Thoughts can be thoughts of as ‘micro-stories‘.

Unresourceful ones can greatly impact your state of mind if you believe them. Their usefulness lies in the opportunity to practice Meta-Awareness, and Letting go.

The first step is NOTICING them, which requires that you take a meta-perspective.

Make it a habit to ask yourself often,

Is this thought-story resourceful or unresourceful?

If not, appreciate its (substantive) beauty, and let it go.”