no one gets pixel-perfect possibilities

There’s an intuition I’m working on conveying, which I think applies to circling, bio-emotive/nedera, somatic experiencing, vipassana, concentration, kasina practice, core transformation, IFS, the preliminary/auxiliary practices in my stuff, everything.

For those interested, maybe consider this color sorter:

I would click on bubble sort. (I think this sorter doesn’t quite finish, but the analogy holds).

[If the website dies or the images get lost: There’s this big square, still image image that looks mostly an ugly gray, with faint heterogeneity in its pixel colors, little glimmers of color. You can click buttons that say e.g. “bubble sort.” And, when one of the buttons is clicked, the pixels start to get sorted by an algorithm, and a columnwise rainbow starts to appear, filling the whole image, made up of only pixels that were already present, yet in an order that hid the potential rainbow. Finally, buggy-javascript-dependent, there’s a “perfect rainbow.”]

There’s a low-key, leaky-abstraction sense in which there’s a real, true, final “pixel perfect” state of (body)mind, at the end of meditation. The abstraction leaks, in a bunch of ways, maybe, in that the mind doesn’t know or need to know, at the beginning what rainbows are, that they exist, that pixels exist, all sorts of stuff. And, there’s no perfect, no final end, no fixed goal, etc. And, from the inside, the process needs exploration, experimentation, creativity, and self-authority, not rote/mechanical color sorting.

But, sort of, in some sense, (a) pixel-perfect precision, and (b) something like really-there, absolute, objective patterning/ordering (like a rainbow)— analogously, analogously, analogously—are a thing.

My concern with circling, somatic experiencing, nedera, etc., is that they’re seductive in the ways that THEY PRODUCE EFFECTS unlike just about everything else that’s out there. They are true advances. I’m so grateful they exist.

And/but, long-run, they sort of trade off on local versus global. Like, they can make little rainbows (highly valued breakthroughs, changes, something) in some local area, while fucking up a bunch of shit outside that local area, sometimes, in ways that are hard to detect and realize.

(And it’s all fixable! It’s fine! Lossless rewind, long run. And, for any particular person, doing nedera or etc., is, for sure, the right strategic move for them, in terms of life situation or total path length, or whatever.)

But, almost no system seems to get this “pixel-perfect” thing.

(This is for sure not a denial of nebulosity, emptiness, etc. The “pixel-perfect” thing accounts for these. It’s just an analogy. It’s also beyond arhatship, though; it’s the deconditioning that continues, through proper practice, after arhatship.)

There’s sort of this belief, maybe, with all these systems, that “if I just keep going,” either in a straight line or picking off issues, one by one, as they come up, then “that’s enough, that will get me what I’m looking for.”

And there’s a sense in which that’s true:

The mind IS always working on heading in the right direction, unwinding, unknotting, etc. The mind is ALWAYS working on doing the pixel-perfect thing. That’s what the mind naturally, spontaneously does.


I can’t speak well to other systems, except for local interactions I have with practitioners in them, small-n impressions. But, I think with respect to those systems, and certainly with “meditation” we see side-effects, muscle tension, distress, plus sometimes a belief that “it’s part of the process,” or even “it’s somehow my own fault.” To be sure, even when meditation goes perfectly, it’s usually a rough ride. But when things get rough, people often start mashing buttons harder, because of the intermittent really good stuff that happens in the roughness. But the roughness isn’t long-run costless, depending on what the person is trying to ultimately do.

In any case, there’s a loose mechanism, here, that I can point to, that’s one of the problematic things:

When someone does (a) any sort of reaching, pushing, forcing, scraping the bottom, and then (b) sort of pivots to doing something else, in the next moment, without “cleaning up,” without “taking one’s foot off the gas”—that reaching, pushing, forcing, scraping tends to still be operative, in the “place that the person just was, e.g. attentionally.

It’s like a pushy/reachy/grabby/scrape-y process gets left behind, that’s sort of operating mindlessly and autonomously, in the background, underneath stuff, and it’s dragging stuff around, in weird directions, kind of warping the whole system over time, if left long enough.

And we all start out with “knots” and “slack” and/but these techniques, used unreflectively or not meta-systematically, eventually can start pulling those knots tight, which makes them long-run harder to unknot, and it leads to distress, behavioral rigidity, emotional suppression, and sometimes impulsive behavior or a diminished behavioral repertoire.

Often, especially in the beginning ALL SORTS of good stuff will happen, because the bodymind is exercising new degrees of freedom and really smart about grabbing value, and these techniques are cool and brilliant.

But, there’s also a sense in which they can and do make a mess, a mess that can keep getting worse autonomously, and they all have large tail risk, in my opinion. (So does my stuff, to be fair).

There’s still all sorts of reasons to do these things–to learn new degrees of freedom for the bodymind, to meet cool people, to learn from people with lots of experience. And, the benefit/risk often comes down to the actual person leading, facilitating, mentoring, as well as the actual other people attending the event, because of interpersonal vibe and nonverbal stuff.

And, when engaged reflectively, sensitively, responsively, meta-systematically, all of these tools, and/or the fine-grain best parts of them, have a place in personal practice, of course.

But so few people seem to really get this “pixel perfect rainbow” thing, and so I see SO FEW mentors or teachers who are, in my opinion, correctly balancing local with global, short-run with long-run, when interacting with clients, students, workshop attendees, etc. Frankly, I think it’s because they haven’t gotten far enough to realize that this “pixel-perfect rainbow thing” is even a thing. But they absolutely could. And I could be wrong about something, etc.


“Where do I go next?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s