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.

Context (Excerpts from Past Blog Posts)


Recall Focusing, Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Coherence Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy, the Lefkoe Methods, and more. These practices don’t easily fit into the meditation feedback loop framework:

You activate or find particular referents in consciousness with nonsymbolic internal structure. You engage in subtle, profound acceptance of the truth and inner logic of those referents and accompanying behaviors. You patiently, tenaciously, obliquely, humbly work to explicitly model and put words to those referents. You humbly let those referents and juxtapositions of other referents evolve in relationship to you and accordingly change the words. Sometimes it takes seconds, sometimes it takes months. And then abruptly, BAM—resonance, involuntary sigh, catharsis, one-shot learning, neural protein synthesis, radical synaptic change: Starting right then and ending within twenty-four hours, you are different, better forever, effortlessly from that point on. Sometimes it’s more subtle, and sometimes it happens in steps.

The fuck? 🙂 Not that I’m not bordering on religiously grateful that this capacity somehow ended up in our DNA.

Now, first of all, again, this framework does not easily fit in with the meditation feedback loop framework. Meditation cross-trains with this class of practices, in that meditation can make you better at them and vice versa, but they seem to be exercising very different (albeit interpenetrating) functional brain networks.

To qualitatively summarize the differences, it seems like meditation changes your relationship with everything, but coherence-therapy-related stuff changes everything.

Unpacked, very loosely speaking: Meditation intervenes on your deep participation and relationship with self and world as they unfold around and within you; Coherence Therapy intervenes on your absolutely true 😉 personal global causal models that govern life, love, opportunity, and safety. [*]


Techniques like Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) and Coherence Therapy (CT) can require lots and lots of languaging. To be sure, when using these protocols, there is a huge, irreplaceable, critical, felt, tacit, non-language component. But, again, there is that huge, symbolic, language component.

At times, it seems that the linguistic component is necessary for anything to happen at all. You have to say it; you have to say the right words for the magic to happen.

That being said, I have found, over time, that I can get positive shifts to happen, using nonverbal mental moves that I don’t fully understand. Getting these nonverbal shifts was confusingly unreliable, even though I seemed to be pretty good at manipulating lots of juxtaposed nonsymbolic cognition in mind at once. And I felt like I had teased out, at least intuitively, all of the nonverbal moves that parallel the explicit IFS and CT instructions.

Basically, it *felt like* I was applying the nonverbal, invariant mental moves that I’d teased out from stuff like IFS and CT, but I wasn’t getting the effects I wanted.

Turns out, I seem to have been neglecting important interleaved and concurrent moves involving background or “peripheral” awareness.

I think why verbalizing seemed essential for a consistent effect is that verbalizing “just the right thing” requires you to “properly” attend to something that was hanging out in peripheral awareness. Having made that connection, it seems that you can do the “properly” part, vis-a-vis peripheral awareness, without necessarily needing to do the verbalizing part, though there’s a tradeoff. [*]


[Previously,] I discussed how, while they’re totally worth the learning investment, [Focusing, IFS, etc.] seem to have diminishing returns. You eventually need to put in more time and cognitive effort for less and less change.

I don’t fully understand why the returns are diminishing. I get that our pasts are finite, and past a certain point, it can get harder to mine our past for novel patterns and relevant juxtapositions of episodes and semantics. You process the low-hanging fruit (which maybe you found by thinking, daydreaming, journaling, and talking with friends and family). And I mentioned that a therapist can sometimes be helpful for finding medium-height-hanging fruit.

But, I feel like these limitations must be artificial.

Three years ago I’d maybe spend a half-hour doing Focusing a few times a week. Then it became an hour a couple times a week, and eventually I tapered off doing it. Then I found a Focusing-Oriented psychotherapist, and I worked with him for once a week for a couple months.

Now throughout all of this, and after, I was directly referencing nonsymbolic felt sense for all sorts of stuff, and having little microepiphanies, and all of that. And while I continue to use deliberate nonsymbolic thinking all the time, even those microepiphanies start to taper.

So, somewhere around two years ago, I discovered Internal Family Systems Therapy, and I felt like that was a structured super-charger for Focusing. IFS can be laborious, but I found that I was getting at stuff that I wasn’t able to with Focusing alone.

But, again, the time-in-use grew. At peak, for a couple weeks, I was doing three hours of IFS in a row, maybe nine-twelve hours per week. It took three hours at a time to break new ground. Now, I was on a mission. I had a sense of what could be different, and of course I was surprised by where I ended up; that’s how it works. It was profoundly worth it, and I’m grateful I had that kind of time to spare. But, after that, I used it less and less again, until I mostly wasn’t.

Finally, I discovered Coherence Therapy about a year ago. Again, I gained new insights, picked off low-hanging fruit, and worked with a non-CT therapist to come up with more fodder for the CT process. And, once again, I’m profoundly grateful and more different still, and, I used CT less and less over the past year.

So, three things. First, separate issue, psychological growth or healing does not necessarily make you happier–growth means different existential problems. I’m not even going to go into that, here. 🙂

Second, more to the point, while Focusing, IFS, and CT seem to be pretty much doing the “same thing,” I was able to get differential mileage out of each of them. Now, part of that could be just that the time and distance between each use gave me more fodder to process, or something about the order in which I found these techniques allowed me to somehow scaffold my skill, which is probably true.

But I’d like to narrow in on an explanation that seems to apply elsewhere: If you ask your brain seemingly slightly different questions, you sometimes you get very different answers. You see this in debiasing attempts, where, say, you ask yourself to meta-estimate your probability of being right, or you ask the same question phrased in different ways, or you ask “able” vs “willing.” There’s all sorts of possibilities, many of which haven’t been explored, and they change your answer.

I think something similar is going on, here, in Focusing-land, where you can get a lot of mileage out of seemingly slight variations on the technique, which makes me think we don’t really have a good model of the underlying reality.

Of course, I’ve tried to abstract out the fundamental “mental moves” that underly Focusing, IFS, and CT. I’ve tried to suss out “what’s really going on,” what the minimal necessary and sufficient steps are. And I’ve thought about how to minimize the cognitive burden of doing it to make it easier to do (or to help people attack more complicated issues than they would have otherwise been able to), and I’ve thought about how to make it take less time so people can more easily fit it into their busy schedule.

What these techniques are, no more, no less–backed by neural structure–are mostly just deliberate, sequenced, stylized versions of native “mental moves” that our minds are naturally doing hundreds of times per day…

I don’t yet really have a satisfying explanation that won’t just sound like a rephrasing of, say, Coherence Therapy’s explanation of why it works (activation, understanding, juxtaposition, memory reconsolidation…). I don’t think I can add much yet, except maybe some hair-splitting nuance to the technique that would be unhelpful to beginners. […]

See, I keep pushing at this, because it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of the endogenous, positive malleability of mind. [*]


I’ve written that I wanted to extract invariants from Focusing, Internal Family Systems Therapy, Coherence Therapy, etc. (“healing;” constructive engagement with self and reality), and I wanted to incorporate these into a genuine meditation practice (“awakening;” mind and ontological flexibility and transparency) that preserved the goals of all of these, all at once. […]

There was a seeming impedance mismatch, different mental muscles, gears that wouldn’t turn at the same time, no intuitive models to tie it all together, typically a big feeling of context switching and switching costs.

But. So.

I think I may have cracked it, or at least the first(!!!!) iteration of it. [*]


Table of Contents

  • 1 – Introduction (400 words) [excerpt]
  • 2 – Concepts (4 words)
    • 2.1 – A Rough Orienting Model (500 words)
    • 2.2 – Setting the Stage (300 words)
      • 2.2.1 – Level 1: Language (50 words)
        • – The Good Stuff (60 words)
        • – The Bad Stuff (10 words)
          • – Finding The Right Words (200 words)
          • – Getting Past the Wrong Words (300 words)
        • – Conclusion (150 words)
      • 2.2.2 – An Important Distinction: Concepts versus Phenomenal Objects (1000 words)
      • 2.2.3 – Level 2: Felt Meaning and Modeling (100 words)
        • – Felt Meaning (350 words)
          • – Language Without Meaning: Semantic Saturation (500 words) [excerpt]
          • – Meaning Without Language: Tip-of-the-Tongue (400 words)
          • – Speaking and Writing From Felt Meaning (250 words)
          • – Responsive to the World (500 words)
          • – Responsive to You (100 words)
            • – You Can Ask For It (400 words)
            • – You Can Ask It Questions (150 words)
          • – From Responsive Felt Meaning to Words, and Checking (400 words)
          • – Structured Protocols (100 words)
        • – Felt Modeling (200 words)
          • – Read-Off Versus Inference (500 words) [excerpt]
          • – Challenges (13 words)
            • – Simplicity (400 words)
            • – Idiosyncrasy (and Partialness) (300 words)
            • – Speed (and Partialness) (300 words)
            • – Evolution (500 words)
          • – Level 2.5 (100 words)
        • – Imagery, Emotions, and Bodily Sensations (800 words)
        • – Limitations of Level 2 Phenomena (400 words)
      • 2.2.4 – Level-3 Phenomena (250 words)
        • – Level 2, Level 2.5, Level 3 (100 words)
          • – Qualia Similarity (100 words)
          • – Speed and Location (250 words)
          • – Size and Shape (200 words)
          • – Intricacy and Depth (250 words)
          • – When Something is Missing (300 words)
          • – Level 3 (100 words)
      • 2.2.5 – Summary (100 words)
    • 2.3 – Experiencing Level-3 Phenomena (80 words)
      • 2.3.1 – Some Phenomenological Methods (150 words)
        • – Afterimages, Replay, Interference (1000 words) [excerpt]
        • – Where / Spaces (500 words)
        • – Secondary Attention (800 words)
        • – Snapshots (350 words)
        • – Read-Off versus Inference (300 words)
        • – Looking versus Seeing What’s There (500 words)
        • – Getting Started and Language (500 words)
      • 2.3.2 – How the Levels Interact (100 words)
        • – Generative Overshadowing (800 words)
        • – Pointing Back (300 words)
        • – Stabilizing Attention (300 words)
        • – Attentional Updating (1300 words)
          • – Briefly, Precision and Mindfulness Meditation (400 words)
          • – Briefly, Precision and Talk Therapy (and CBT, etc.) (400 words)
          • – The Need for Level-3 (250 words)
  • 3 – Ontology of Level 3 (100 words)
    • 3.1 – Common Meaning versus Technical Meaning (150 words)
    • 3.2 – Theoretical Objects versus Phenomenological Objects (200 words)
    • 3.3 – Knowing What It Is: Links Across Levels (1000 words)
    • 3.4 – Finding What You Want: Questions and Deliberate Pointing Back (800 words)
    • 3.5 – You Don’t Need to Know What It Is to Work With It (800 words) [excerpt]
    • 3.6 – Level-3 Phenomena (500 words)
      • 3.6.1 – what (1700 words)
      • 3.6.2 – why (300)
      • 3.6.3 – affordance (300 words)
      • 3.6.4 – expectancy (240 words)
      • 3.6.5 – how (450 words)
      • 3.6.6 – belief (2800 words)
      • 3.6.7 – concern (800 words)
      • 3.6.8 – intention (500 words)
  • 4 – The Tools (incomplete; not prose) [ONLY 4.6 – FOLDING IS COMPLETE]
    • 4.1 – immediate how-loosening, what-loosening (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.1.1 – abrupt knowledge of show-stopping concerns or (discrete) resistance, or motivation drains away (incomplete; not prose)
    • 4.2 – seeding, creating moments, creating recognitions, texturing, texturing your world, HUDing/heads-up-displaying (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.2.1 – recognizing (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.2.2 – monitoring (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.2.3 – recognizing it’s time to monitor (incomplete; not prose)
    • 4.3 – prospective how/what-refactoring = weaving (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.3.1 – outcome tester / instant success/failure (not necessarily veridical, but for you might as well be, etc.) –> show-stopping concerns; already have what, just trying to figure out the modulation, the how. (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.3.2 – read-off, affordances, expectancy (action ident, start…) (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.3.3 – instant knowledge of success / failure (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.3.4 – prospective memory and metacognition paper (more like weaving) (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.3.5 – abrupt knowledge of show-stopping concerns or (discrete) resistance (incomplete; not prose)
    • 4.4 – what/why deconvolving/unbundling = sign-tracking/goal-tracking paper (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.4.1 – abrupt knowledge of show-stopping concerns or (discrete) resistance, or motivation drains away (incomplete; not prose)
    • 4.5 – intention-locking = intention paper (incomplete; not prose)
      • 4.5.1 – go to folding if: the settling/inclining asking for discrete offerings, piece also go to folding if show-stopping concerns (incomplete; not prose)
    • 4.6 – Folding (350 words) [excerpt]
      • 4.6.1 – Actions (200 words)
        • – figuring (430 words)
        • – inclining (1000 words)
        • – connecting (370 words)
        • – provoking (200 words)
        • – forming (600 words)
        • – adding (637 words)
        • – attending (670 words)
        • – refreshing (227 words)
        • – folding (680 words)
        • – catching discrete non-resistance (275 words)
        • – catching discrete resistance (574 words)
        • – catching a NO! (380 words)
        • – strategizing (713 words)
        • – catching non-discrete resistance (267 words)
        • – rummaging (275 words)
      • 4.6.2 – Updating Experiences (50 words)
        • – updating (222 words)
        • – evaporation (256 words)
        • – folding (success) (247 words)
        • – loosening (130 words)
        • – oscillation (247 words)
        • – resubordination (579 words) [excerpt]
        • – non-discrete resistance phase change (183 words)
        • – out-of-scope noticing (324 words)
        • – physical experiences (86 words)
      • 4.6.3 – Conclusion (136 words)
    • 4.7 – Languaging = complementarity paper, etc., etc., etc. (incomplete; not prose)
  • 5 – Conclusion (incomplete; not prose)
  • 6 – Bibliography (incomplete)

What you Get (and Important Qualifiers)

  • This product is a DRM-free PDF file.
  • 130 pages. 40,000+ words. (not including incomplete, non-prose sections)
  • This document contains complete theory and a complete specification of one technique (Folding), but the other techniques are as-yet incomplete. These additional technique sections have been left as-is, in case you want to poke through cryptic notes.
  • This document is relatively clean prose, probably significantly cleaner and clearer than any writing on my blog. But, the prose isn’t well-edited. There are lots and lots of typos and dropped words and formatting inconsistencies. Just so you know.
  • If this product if updated, you’ll get updates emailed to the purchasing email address, for free. But, I may “abandon” this product. Folding is excellent; I stand behind it. But I may not update this particular document further; I may not flesh out the additional techniques. Additional work and learning may be incorporated into future products and documents, instead.


  • It will take time to learn how to do Folding quickly, effortlessly, and reliably. Hours to days to months to years. Treat it like learning to meditate. Or learning to play the piano.

Safety Warnings / Disclaimer

  • I am not a licensed mental health professional.
  • This technique was designed to be, overall, extremely gentle–with still likely a decent amount of suffering–but the freely-chosen, deliberately-entered, transient sort.
  • Nevertheless, some people who have worked with Folding have suddenly experienced extreme numbness, extreme suffering, or extreme depersonalization that has lasted for hours or days.
  • And, some people have, suddenly or creeping-ly, felt transiently, unpleasantly weird for minutes, hours, or days.
  • You use Folding at your own risk and you agree to handle your shit. Furthermore, you agree that you have the degree of logistical and emotional support that you deem necessary to do mind work and exploration that carries risk.
  • Support from me is unlikely and it is at my discretion. I simply don’t have the time to respond to everyone (I wish I did), but I do read everything. My ultimate goal is to completely take myself out of the equation, to have everything one needs be in the text. (I do invite you to contact me on my consulting page for negotiating a consulting rate. This supports my work and everything I can give away for free.)
  • This is a super-scary warning. I want to emphasize that a bunch of people have been heavily using Folding for gazillions of hours with strong, net positive effects.


There are two pricing levels at which you can receive this product. First [bling/feedback-optional tier], you can pay me a ludicrous amount of money (ok, a mere $99+ dollars), which I will take from you with motivating, excited gratitude. If you can go this route without hardship (pile it on, $1000 goes a long way), please do it; it means a lot to me. Support and question-answering are still at my discretion, as described above. Finally, at this tier, you are absolutely free-and-clear regarding any spiritual obligation to provide feedback (see below) but you are just as welcome to do so, and I would be grateful for it.

Second [feedback tier], you have the option of paying what you can, only up to the point of zero hardship: anything at or above a single dollar is ok, including a single dollar. If you go this route, you have a spiritual obligation to me. 🙂 What you have to do is send me a brief update at one week, one month, six months, and one year. This is a few sentences or a few paragraphs of what it was like to try to learning the technique, what’s working for you, what’s not, and what changes you’ve experienced. You can send this through the consulting contact form. I read everything but I won’t necessarily reply!

Ok. Seriously: I’m not going to keep track of who’s at the “feedback tier.” (I try not to look too closely at individual product purchase emails, as they go by, anyway.) I’m not going to keep track of check-ins. If we connect at some later date, I won’t remember that you’re the person who paid a dollar and didn’t send feedback. I absolve you of all guilt if you don’t send feedback. Seriously. But you agree to do so if you go this route. 😉

Logistics and Privacy

The payment processor is legit (google them), and I don’t have access to your credit card information. All I have access to is your email, which I won’t share. You’ll be able to email me and the credit card processor. I’ll respond to emails within 48 business-hours if not immediately. (There’s always a small chance I’ll be away from email for a few weeks at a time, but no longer than that.) With a single click, I can send you fixes which you’ll be able to download for free.

Folding (Version 0.7 alpha)

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