Some Brief, Long Overdue, Probably Regretfully Unsatisfying Updates

The blog has been inactive for a while, now, and I wanted to post a partial explanation. Among other things, I had been pursuing axes of development that were not directly related to stream entry and other meditation attainments. But, because of cross-training or synergy or whatever (really anti-symmetry, in this case), I was still progressing on the path of insight. And, I didn’t realize this, because the insight maps weren’t really in my lens. So, dark night, big time. Whoops. Embarrassing.

So, I ended up attaining stream-entry, accidentally, which was very disregulating, before and after. I got some insights into the mind and self, changes in vision, more degrees of freedom in my belief system, and increased emotional resilience, though. (Much, much more to be said, here, of course.)

The effects of stream-entry kind of faded into the background, and I made the same mistake again! Embarrassing. I was pursuing other axes of development hardcore, ended up in the dark night again without realizing it, and eventually had another accidental, “massive” fruition. (I think I had one or two other fruitions in there before this big second one, but they were pretty inconsequential blinks. They did seem to pass the checks, but I waffle on counting them.)

This second big fruition was much more of what I might have expected stream-entry to be, perhaps if I was doing more traditional practice, much more of a woosh, ahhhhhhhhh, yessssssss. Some deep, non-intellectual insights into emptiness/insubstantiality and the nature of minds and my own mind. Deeply refreshing and peaceful foreground/background reversal (always back there somewhere; most of the time I feel pretty normal), and the beginnings of a bit of time-bending. And my mind stopped doing a bunch of things that weren’t helpful. (Shinzen Young’s clear and precise descriptions of the mid-to-late stages have been resonating with me the most, lately.)

And, thankfully, I gained the ability to spot the cycle of insight in myself. Embarrassing. But, like, normal, especially if arrogant and not practicing with a teacher. And sad, of course!

Figuring things out for oneself is a mixed bag. I think there’s a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t now know if I’d worked more with teachers already on the path or who’d already done the thing. But, I might have avoided some of the bad stuff. It doesn’t have to have been either/or, but the contingency of minds and all that. I hope to continue to get better at learning from other people, rather than only reading widely and thinking and experimenting furiously.

In the past I was concerned about some of what might “turn off,” upon meditative attainments, e.g. certain kinds of self-reference and self-modification. Having gotten a real taste of emptiness and no-self, I’m no longer concerned about this. I think that meditation leaves out many axes of development and is a potential opportunity cost in terms of time spent, depending on one’s goals and needs. Also, I do think that meditation can potentially wind people up tighter and make development on other axes more difficult (cf. spiritual bypassing). And there is finally the very real risk of the dark night, being unable to metabolize emptiness, ruining one’s life, health, etc.

All that being said, meditative insight contains core and knock-on pieces that I would like everyone to have. All things being equal (which it never is), it’s really, really good. I expect I’ll keep progressing along this axis over time, whether I like it or not, and I’m cool with that. And, I’m grateful to the teachers who are doing systematic and comprehensive things and helping people to progress efficiently with mitigated risk. I’ve benefited from their work greatly, and I know I’ll keep doing so.

So, there’s a bit of an update. I put myself somewhere at second or third path, as far as I can tell. There’s much on this blog that I want to revise or recant. I’ll leave the old articles untouched, though maybe I’ll put pointers to new material at the top. And, I intend to start blogging again, to some degree. I have more to say about stream entry, the cycle of insight, etc., of course.

I’m actually running a meditation thing now in the east bay (USA/California) that I soft-launched a few months ago and it’s going well. It was weird to not post about it on the blog, but I wasn’t ready. You’re welcome to come check that out, if you’re reading this. I’m interfacing with the rest of the meditation community a bit more, now, and I hope to keep increasing that over time. I’d like to understand the ways in which my teaching material is safe and risky, effective and ineffective, and how it complements the other work and teaching that’s going on, and has been going on, for thousands of years.

I’m also getting more into the bodywork space (bodymind work…) and I have lots of updated thoughts on “energy work.” I’ll probably post something about that pretty soon. Finally, I’m still figuring out, as always, how to divide my time between different projects and when charging money gets a better thing for everyone and when it doesn’t.

I wish a better thing had happened, and I wish I had been sharing more the whole time. More to come. Onward.


emotional misattribution

(1) Threats and opportunities to a person are experienced emotionally, first. (Emotion is the felt experience of the mobilization of physiological resources for action. There is still partial mobilization even if the action is to be taken in the future.) Consider, then, that there is an “emotional” world model.

(2) Normally, then, the threat or opportunity can be identified explicitly, when doing so is adaptive.

(3) There are conditions under which the threat or opportunity is not explicitly identified. This can happen when the threat or opportunity is:

  • discounted,
  • counterintuitive,
  • “impossible” (given the current context),
  • nonnormative (unlikely, based on the kinds of things that seem like they usually happen to other humans),
  • when doing so would be non-adaptive (because of *leakiness*? Cf. self-deception.),

(4) or, finally, completely missing from a person’s explicable world model. That is, consider that, in addition to an “emotional” world model, there is also an “explicable” world model. The “emotional” and “explicable” world models can be nonoverlapping. (The emotional world model is more fine-grained.)

(5) When a threat or opportunity is registered by the emotional world model but falls under any of the conditions above, the felt emotion (that represents physiological mobilization) is more likely to be misattributed. (Cf. “delusion,” as described in phenomenological psychopathlogy and in the bridge experiment.)

(6) As a side note, the stronger the emotional reaction (expectancy x cost/benefit), and the longer it lasts, and the stronger the factors above, the greater the likelihood that misattribution will result. (The likelihood of misattribution will also increase if misattribution is locally adaptive.) [Also, other factors, such as, perhaps, the intensity of the emotion or a sense of urgency could induce misattribution for a relatively worse “fit,” that is there’s a dial for sensitivity to global coherence, and it can be turned way down. [Partial hat-tip: Emily.]]

(7) Misattribution will be the next-most-elegant explanation after the above factors are exhausted.

(8) A suspect, toy example of misattribution is the bridge experiment (fear/physiological arousal mistaken to be sexual/romantic attraction).

A more complete example:

  • Consider a person who has health problems that cause fatigue and brain fog. Appearance-wise, they look very healthy. This person is told by doctors that these health problems are “psychological,” and by this they mean not real. The person discounts the reality of said health problems, but nevertheless finds it difficult to work at a job and is accused of poor performance. The person experiences an emotional threat to their livelihood, e.g. getting fired.
  • But, if they discount the real source of their fear, then the threat is misattributed to something else: the “system,” their boss or manager, etc.
  • If the boss is “mean,” or “irrational,” etc., then the misattribution is easy or it’s not a misattribution at all but an “enhancement” of belief. If the boss is “friendly” or “reasonable” or “accomodating,” but the boss being the threat is still that most elegant misattribution, then, say, the person will experience greater and greater paranoia, concomittent with the perceived threat. Additionally, the person will have no way addressing these concerns, because they may paradoxically believe these fears to be irrational.

Other examples:

  • If you feel guilty, you must have done something very bad, but the thing you identify might not be what you actually feel guilty about, leading you to not take the correct actions that will assuage the guilt motivated by the emotional world model.

Other examples:

  • Look for cultural messages that are wrong. If culture is saying attractiveness doesn’t matter, and you’ve internalized that to some degree, but you’re receiving evidence to the contrary (people are ignoring you), you’re going to look for other explanations for your feeling of insecurity. Because of this, you can’t have a clear-eyed dialogue with your psychological and strategic relationships to your attractiveness. (If it “shouldn’t be the case, but it is… then that’s a near-perfect recipe for emotional misattribution.)

Other examples:

  • Where is the urgency, fear, irritability, etc., actually coming from?

(9) The misattribution is acted upon, behaviorally, if it makes sense [elegant] enough. Furthermore, misattributions have implications that are acted upon if they make sense [elegant] enough. This can cause further misattribution and chains of misattributions and mutually reinforcing misattributions as well as all sorts of life impacts and outcomes, downstream and ongoing.

Pith: Your goals (and your behavior and your models and identification of your behavior) exist separately (though are of course correlated and informing) from your models of your goals and your ability to model your goals. And, your models of your goals (and your behavior) produce further implications, goals, and behavior.

some influences

Daniel Ingram (meditation)

Shinzen Young (meditation)

Bruce Mangan (phenomenology)

Russell Hurlburt (phenomenology)

Herbert Demmin (phenomenology)

Steven Bartlett (philosophy, philosophy of science, phenomenology)

Stephen Robbins (philosophy, philosophy of science, phenomenology)

Brian Cantwell Smith (philosophy, computer science)

David Chapman (philosophy, meditation, computer science)

Michael L. Anderson (neuroscience)

Julie Henderson (energy work)

Jack Johnston (energy work)

Robert Bruce (energy work)

Dan Wile (interpersonal phenomenology and dynamics)

(Eugene Gendlin, Culadasa, Ken Wilber)

Major Product Release: Folding (Version 0.7 alpha)

This is my largest and most ambitious product, yet. In it, I present so-called Three-Levels theory and a technique called Folding. Three-Levels theory isn’t a rigorous theory; it’s really just an (awesome) pedagogical tool. Folding, however, is the real deal, as significant as the concept of “meditation” and, in my opinion, a novel, extremely powerful complement to techniques such as Focusing, Internal Family Systems Therapy, and Coherence Therapy.

Below are excerpts from past blog posts that frame the problem. This product is my first real solution. Below the excerpts are a table of contents (with product excerpts) and disclaimers. Then there are instructions on how to get your hands on this thing.

Please note, this product is a snapshot of my work! It is not a polished object!

Nevertheless, people are using Folding. It’s the most field-tested, by people besides myself, of anything on this blog. And it’s changing lives.

Click here to go to the Folding product page.

brief thoughts on discussions (certain kinds) and intimate relationships

i’ve facilitated hundreds of hours of small-group discussion. this is a first pass, possibly totally impenetrable, of what i think i’m doing that matters most (for discussions that are around creating things–ambience, situations, events, artifacts–where it’s more important to do it right than to just get it done).

So I do these things (stream-of-consciousness):

status management and qualifiers: continual projection of humility-and-offering vs directing (through body language, voice tone, and qualifiers). “what about this? or this?”

acknowledging what people will inject before they do, to take the urgency out of it

i think most of the “magic” is in endless verbal qualifiers, uttered after/during infinitely searching out/modeling/empathizing things that might not be ok and things that might shut people down or turn them away and then fixing those things. sussing out awesomeness and the actual best thing:

“i’m not going to touch this during the week either,” “you don’t actually have to do this…” (and having arranged everything so it’s actually true)

vast field of (opinionated) ok-ness and possibility.

maybe not all of what i do actually matters, and i’m sure i still do things that turn people off.

continually hunting down things that close down possibility as they happen in real time and viciously opening them back up

re viciously tho deep modeling of the other person’s sense of possibility and how it might be narrowing or broadening in each moment

about what’s ok and not ok, what’s possible and not possible

what’s allowed and not allowed, what’s safe and not safe

and continually signaling about that

and sending out true signals that indicate you’re truly doing deep modeling of them, actually doing the work, and not saying fake platitudes

what has to happen and what doesn’t have to happen, what will have consequences and what won’t have any consequences at all

and trying to set things up so people expend zero time and effort that they find out later to have been unnecessary

and continually applying all these things to myself too, to actually produce the actual best possible thing and not a caricature of older, past things.

metabolic phenomenology

You can learn to feel/tell if your stomach has emptied yet, if your blood has run out of fat or carbs, and if you’re dipping into either fat or carb (glycogen) storage, or if your body has decided to stop liberating something and you’re starting to lightly chew on muscle or lean tissue and/or produce ketones.

Being low or topped off on Vitamins A and B, and Choline are all distinct for me, too. I haven’t noticed anything yet from other vitamins or micronutrients.

I don’t have a good way to describe the sensations (yet?). It is like describing subtle anger or subtle sadness or happiness if those weren’t in the language.

I will say that, for the stomach emptying thing, each time your stomach empties a little bit into your small intestine, you sometimes get a spreading, fizzy warmth. The fizziness is autonomic activity. The warmth is probably a combination of things. This is very faint. When your stomach is completely empty, there’s a sense of “doneness” or “completeness,” which might be from reduced autonomic activity in the stomach as well as faint interoception of reduced stomach stretch receptor activity.

For when your blood runs out of stuff, take a slow, meandering walk for at least forty minutes. This should be after your stomach is completely empty. (If you go fast, your body will be supplementing from storage tanks at the very beginning.) Around that time, depending, you’ll run out of blood fuel and/or muscle-stored glycogen, and there will be a cutover from blood supplied fuel to fuel from storage tanks (liver, fat stores). If your body doesn’t cut over cleanly, your arms and legs will feel temporarily heavy and your walking speed will slow down. You might faint, transient dizziness. You might feel a faint uptick in anxiety, cortisol release, and fizzing autonomic activity, as your hormones and nervous system trigger fuel release. The better everything is working, the smoother the cutover is, and the less likely you are to feel anything.

For the other stuff–I’m NOT saying this is important or useful for people, necessarily!! This is just a thing!!

Noticing being low on fat:

Eat, for example, only rice and lean meats for a 12-72 hours. (Probably take a multivitamin or something during this.) Notice how you’ll eventually be wanting to sit down all the time (depending on a bunch of stuff). Notice it partially, temporarily goes away if you exercise hard (if you have the energy; this depends on your current metabolic regime). Notice how your “stamina profile” changes, what kinds of activity is harder or easier. 

Now, eat butter, lard, tallow, heavy cream, etc. Forty minutes to three hours later, what has changed? You’ll likely be almost unable to sit. You’ll want to stand up and/or walk around. Also, how has thinking changed, etc., etc.

Noticing being low on carbs:

Do “cardio” for a couple hours or simply eat “low carb” for 6-30 hours. Make sure you’re getting enough potassium. Notice mood, energy, motivation, “stamina profile.”

Noticing gluconeogenesis and ketone production:

Do the carb thing and keep going for 30-120 minutes. Or, try to sleep after eating relatively less carbs that day and then when you wake up… Your liver and muscles will be relatively empty of glycogen. Notice your bad breath, possible faint dizziness and faint nausea. Notice any uptick in sensory experience and clarity (cortisol release and partially from the ketones) and possibly anxiety. The negative stuff happens less and less the more your body is used to it. I also start to feel pain in my forearms.

If you ingest a lot of sugar or orange juice while in this state, you may eventually experience a rush of increased autonomic activity, involuntary heavy breathing, and feeling like you’re going to faint for twenty seconds to a couple minutes. Your glycogen depleted muscles and liver are sucking sugar out your bloodstream and transiently your brain is getting less glucose than it’s used to.