(General content note: A lot of my thinking has really changed since the old days of this blog. There’s some weird, mean, and polemic stuff in there.)
[New? Start here: https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/articles/]
Above are scans of the two main timesheets I’ve been using in 2014. (You can click the images above for high resolution.)
It’s really nice to have an entire year staring you in the face from day one. I’ll be switching over to 2015 timesheets within the next couple of weeks. (There’s a bit of a buffer left on these.)
On the first sheet, “full dyn” refers exactly to the workout I sell, here. (In my head, for historical reasons, I call the workout, “full dynamic stretching routine.”)
“AHIT” refers to “aerobic and high intensity interval training.” That’s basically warming up, going as hard as I possibly can for as long as I can, backing off to recover, and then repeating a few times. That’s on an elliptical, bike, or treadmill. I differentiate that from “sprint” because the former aren’t high impact, and I’d rather be sprinting, when I can.
The second sheet is my meditation practice. This year I got in about 30 hours, which is up from last year, which was about 20 hours. The year before that was about 100 hours. The practice I do is exactly what I describe, here.
Why so little meditation? These days, almost every day, I’m either deliberately or spontaneously performing “mental moves” that I picked up during meditation. I feel less of a need to meditate as often as possible than I did in more distantly past years, because lots of the qualities I wanted from meditation are getting “practiced” in daily life, and I have less of a fear or sense of those qualities diminishing over time. Additionally, I think I have a much better feel for incremental losses when they are happening, so I have less of a need to meditate as “insurance,” because I’m less afraid of finding I’ve “lost something” when I need it most.
I would meditate more, but I do feel it causes some loss of cognitive momentum when I’m in the middle of a multi-day scheming sprint. It feels a bit like throwing a wrench in whatever gears are turning. I have some suspicion that that resistance to meditation is “thought addiction,” or giving in to an illusion of cognitive progress, but it’s a very mild suspicion.
When there’s absolutely nothing to be done to move my life forward, I do make the time to meditate, and it feels like a good investment, and I’m glad I did it.
That said, there is at least one class of situations where I do feel a strong pressure to meditate; like, it seems like a really good idea, so I do.
David Chapman uses the term “stance.” Brienne Strohl uses the term “posture.” I believe one of the CFAR modules(?) uses the terms “towardsness” and “againstness.” I myself use the term “inner stance” in my own thinking.
I think we’re all getting at identical or overlapping phenomena. For me, the phenomenology is a sense of “inner configuration” or delicate, nearly ephemeral alignments of not-quite-muscles. It really does feel like a complicated stance, a readiness, a certain expectation of things and patterns within self and world.
I get the biggest sense of needing to meditate (or that it would be a good idea to meditate) when I find myself flip-flopping between two different inner stances. I want those two stances to become one stance that’s ready for both stance-worthy scenarios, simultaneously. (This applies to all n greater than two, as well.)
I especially and powerfully feel this “integration need” when it seems like there’s a new, emerging life domain setting up shop alongside an old life-domain. By “life domain,” I mean well, everything–goals and people, aspirations and objects.
In these times, when huge life domains are shifting, like tectonic plates, this is when I feel a like it’s really important to meditate. (These life domain shifts feel different than when “just” new people, new goals, even a new job, or whatever, are coming into the picture. I’ll need to think about how to pin this down better.)
I’ve described before how the mind can bounce around like a ping-pong ball, between thoughts, between mental models. And meditation can train metacognition to work with multiple inner phenomena simultaneously, instead of only being aware of one at a time, where you’re not even realizing that more are available, and in fact you’re cycling through them over and over again in an unfortunate, unconscious loop.
Thoughts and sensations are “tiny,” mental models are “bigger,” and these “life domains” (I need a better name), are even bigger. When I’m meditating amidst life domain shifts, I feel like my whole inner landscape is reconfiguring, like I’m rearranging my inner surface areas, threading new patterns of mental activity within and between and across new and old. Awareness often feels like a high-dimensional manifold, to me, in time and space, and meditation, under these sorts of circumstances, feels like I’m optimizing, tuning, reconfiguring awareness to deal with a new reality more efficiently, more completely, more simultaneously. (There are shades of what’s happening, here, but more internally and with less writing.)
The “meditation pressure,” during life changes, perhaps comes from a subtle fear that “something important is going to get drowned out, overwhelmed” and, instead, “I want everything to be available to me all at once.” And meditation seems to help secure the latter, more quickly, and more securely, than going with the flow.
It doesn’t take long, maybe a few hours over a couple weeks. And that sense of awareness attempting to do the impossible, a sense of awareness attempting to alight on conscious activity that doesn’t yet exist, a sense that I’M LEAVING IMPORTANT STUFF OUT, a sense that important navigational objects are not yet fully available, a sense of “not quite grasping” starts to fade, and my inner life goes back to a sense of “business as usual.”
So, meditation for when “stuff is getting left out,” when you’re unfortunately wielding your inner life piecemeal, patchily, scattered, oscillatory, reactively and, instead, you want to wield everything all at once, your entire mental life, at at once, in a unified, dynamic, integrated, powerful fashion.
Instead of a feather or ping-pong ball, your mind is a laser, a fist, a warm, fully present, hug.
Happy New Year!
(You can get a USA or international 2015 timesheet by clicking here or from the header link at any time.)