Tag Archive | Representation(s)

On Balance 3

Balance is an active process of returning to the center. It’s not about being perfect each and every day but responding and paying attention. (Matt Myers)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Losing balance is inevitable.

Balance is not static. It’s a state of dynamic equilibrium.”

“Like balancing.”

“We might think of balancing as embodied balance.

Every instance of losing balance is a beautiful opportunity.

Opportunity to practice recovering balance (Equanimity), to perfect your recovery protocol (and efficiency).
Opportunity to learn something about yourself, by understanding why you lost balance.

Every instance of losing balance is a rep(etition).

The more you lose balance, the more reps you get in.
The more varied you lose balance, the more adaptable you become.

Think of every instance of losing balance as a training session.

You will not remember most of the times you lost balance in a few days, or even the next day. Their value is in the moment. Be grateful for and make the most of every single one of them. 

You can even start every session with a mantra, like:

‘This is what I train for!’ (Brain Johnson)

‘This is what I need!’ (Joseph Campbell)

‘This too is the Beautiful Game [<link; medium read].'”

“How do you measure progress?”

“By how fast you recover balance, and by the extent to which you can recover balance from any point.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Self-care as a model?”

“Think of what you mean by self-care, try to articulate it.” 

“Taking care of myself, of my body… health… I find it hard.”

“That is your mental model of it.

Unless you’ve spent some time reflecting on it, it’s likely something vague, unclear. By gaining clarity on it, you enrich (and beautify) your model. The clearer your model, the more clearly you can articulate it – and practice it.

For instance, you can think of Self-Care as an act of Self-Love.

Self-Care is Self-Love.

You’ve thus connected it to your central value. 

And you can expand from here by connecting it with other values:

Self-Care is Self-Awareness.
Self-Care is Health.
Self-Care is Movement.

By thinking of it as a Sacred Ritual, you connect it with the realm of the Sacred.

Self-Care is a Sacred Ritual.

By thinking of it as an aspect of the Beautiful Practice and gaining clarity on what each of these practices entails, you further enrich your model.

Self-Care is the Beautiful Practice.

Taken as a whole, this web of meaningful connections and practices is your refined model of Self-Care.

On Magic and Implementation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize Implementation?”

“One of the keys to improving Thinking is the capacity to retrieve the information stored in your mind. I call this accessing. To a large extent, accessing depends on organization, how the information is structured in your mind.

How the information is structured globally, that is, how interconnected the information is. (Interconnectedness)
How the information is structured locally, that is, how much information can be retrieved at once. (Chunking)”

“What has this got to do with Implementation?”

“Implementation also depends on information retrieval. Whatever you want to implement is essentially a sequence of steps – an algorithm

Let’s take Centering as an example. What are the components of your practice?”

“Connecting with myself, Breathing, Aligning (Posture), Opening / Expanding, Relaxing, Smiling… and I can think of a few more.”

“Which are the most important? Think 80/20.”

“The first two.”

“So breathing, and feeling your[self as the] BodyMind.

Chunking essentially means meaningfully condensing information. You could reduce the practice to just two steps.

Breathe / Expand
Feel / Let go

As you breathe in, you naturally expand. This is a beautiful embodied reminder
A reminder to physically expand vertically, to stand tall, extend your spine.
A reminder to physically expand in all directions, to take up more space, adopt an expansive (power) pose.
A reminder to expand your Awareness, to your entire field of vision, and to use all senses.
A reminder to expand metaphorically, to open your MindHeart, be more receptive.

As you lovingly feel your beautiful BodyMind, you’ll naturally notice tension. This is a beautiful embodied reminder to let go. As you let go of tension (what I call detensing), relaxation and smiling naturally follow.

This is chunking in action. I’ve condensed the algorithm to only two meaningful steps.

Besides the algorithm, Implementation has another component: representations [<link; medium length]. How you mentally represent the practice to yourself. This makes it more meaningful. For instance you might represent the Centering practice as Homecoming – coming home to yourself.

The algorithm and the representation are two distinct chunks. You can integrate them together through metaphor. For instance, since you love Magic the Gathering, you can think of them as a Magic card. 

The algorithm is the text of the card, describing what it does.
The representation is the image of the card, making it more memorable.”

On Movement and Meaning

There’s poetry in every moment. (Jason Silva)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I make Movement sustainable?”

Make it engaging by making it Meaningful in the moment.

You can do that by enriching its mental representation [<link; medium read].

This is a Creative act. You’re weaving a personal story around it.”

“What is your personal story?”

“I see Movement as Meditation,
as a sacred playful ritual of connecting with myself and the Child Within.

I see Movement as a loving act of Self-Care and Self-Exploration.
As I savor the dancing sensations, I send Love in their direction,
and celebrate the beautiful miracle that is my BodyMind.

I call this process Practical Poetry.”

The Art of Perception 5

A problem is a terrible thing to waste. (Peter Diamandis)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I solve this problem?”

“Before you set to working on a problem [Particular], work on your relationship with ‘problem’ as a concept [General]. 

What does ‘problem’ mean to you?
Does it have a positive or negative connotation?

You can work on beautifying its representation [<link; medium length].

The result can be something like this:


I call this a meaning-map.

The nodes in blue are values.
The nodes in pink are representations.”

“Can you explain it as a step-by-step process?”


Start from the central node and brainstorm on it, connecting it with your central values and coming up with meaningful representations for it – meaningful for you.

Then pass it through the 80/20 filter, selecting the 20% most powerful representations.

Work on internalizing those representations [Deliberate Practice] such that whenever you think ‘problem’, the representations automatically come to mind.”

Painting with Meaning 4: Representation-Stacking

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“We’ve talked before about beautifying representations [<link; medium length]. By making an activity more meaningful, you can make it more attractive, hence more likely to engage in it.

One way to do it is by stacking representations – what I call representation-stacking.”

“Can you give an example?”

“Think of your Presence practice.

In order to deliberately practice something, you need to think of it. You activate it with a thought. 

The likelihood of regularly engaging in it depends on how meaningful it is for you. 

Why are you practicing Presence?”

“Because it’s beautiful.”

“In this case, you can activate it by thinking ‘Beautiful Presence‘ instead of just ‘Presence’, thus connecting it with the meaning of it. 

Another question to ask yourself is:

How do you want to practice Presence?”


“So you can think of it as ‘Joyful Beautiful Presence‘. This is the stacking part.

As a side note, you can add more nuance to it. Beauty, for instance, can answer both the Why and the How questions. Beautiful Presence can refer to both the beauty of the practice, and to engaging in it beautifully, aestheticizing the practice. 

Representation-stacking is a process of selection and amplification. Making an 80/20 selection of the representations that are most powerful for you, and sequencing [<link; short] them to make them build on one another, in order to amplify their effect.

For instance you can end up with something like ‘Loving Playful Grateful Beautiful Joyful Sacred Presence‘. It’s longer, but if it makes you always remember the essence of practice, it’s worth it.”

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.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I immunize myself against failure?”

“What we call ‘failure’ is a mental model. We can think of it metaphorically as a story. Based on its content, the story makes you feel in a certain way.

What you actually want to immunize yourself against is the feeling produced by your idiosyncratic story. However a different story will produce a different feeling.

You can focus on managing the feeling, or on changing the story.

What story of failure do you want to live by?

Here’s one idea:

There is no such thing as failure.
There is only
There is only
There is only

I call this story-template designification/resignification.”

Playing with Models 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the essence of the chunking-down model?”

“Breaking down a problem into smaller pieces to make it more manageable?”

“The essence of the model is making smaller.

Depending on the nature of the problem, there’s two useful approaches:
– making the problem be smaller – structural
– making the problem appear smaller – representational

“So breaking down the problem is the structural approach.”


As concerns the representational approach, you’re working with representations and representational-models [<link; medium read].

For instance, you can play with the object metaphoric-model, seeing the problem as an object.

This opens up several useful metaphoric-models:

The size model – enlarging/shrinking

You can mentally…
– shrink the problem, or
– enlarge yourself in relation to the problem.

The distance model – moving towards/away-from

You can mentally distance yourself from the problem, thus making it appear smaller.

The contrasting model

You can compare it with something much larger, thus achieving the same effect.”

Painting with Meaning

†††Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“My medium of expression is Meaning, applied to the Art of (Playful) Living. And a large part of my work revolves around creating beautiful mental representations.”

“So it has an aesthetic component?”†

Everything I do has an aesthetic component.

“What do you mean by mental representations?”

“It has to do with the beautiful integration of ideas in your mental world.
What do they look like, what do they feel like in your subjective reality?

The richer, the more vivid the representation, the more beautiful the result, and the more powerful the motivational force behind it.

“Can you give an example?”

“Take meditation for instance. Why do it?

One may say ‘because it’s good for you.’ Well, yes, it is, but this is a very meager representation.

But if you think of it as ‘mental-training‘, you’ve integrated it in a larger system of meaning.

For instance, for me, one of my guiding stars is the idea of Self-Mastery, by which I mean Mental/Physical/Emotional-Mastery (among other things). So every meditation session is a little step towards that end.

If you also think of it as ‘self-care‘, you’ve integrated it into another system of meaning.

Thus every meditation session becomes a profound act of renewal and connecting with yourself. A beautiful idea which I know from Alexandra Johnson is thinking of it as ‘coming home to yourself’.

The more systems of meaning you integrate it in, the more vivid and powerful the representation.