Imp. Probs. w/ Mark

“Impossible” Problems

(scroll for tl;dr 👇👇👇)

tl;dr #1: Contact me: Go ahead and book me, right now, sight-unseen, via calendly. (Easy!) For questions, you can email me at meditationstuff@gmail.com. You can also DM me on twitter, even if I don’t follow you, yet. And, you can also use this form to indirectly contact me by (slower) email.

tl;dr #2: Questions?: Do contact me, as per above, and also see the FAQ below, which is very much a work in progress! Please message me with additional questions and to ask me to clarify answers, below. There are whole FAQ categories that could be added.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General

What do you mean by “utterly ‘impossible’ problems”?

These are the problems that feel like, say, infinite failure; infinite doom; infinite hopelessness; infinite regret; no future; meaninglessness; pointlessness; completely trapped; no way out; if-only-things-could-be-otherwise-but-they’re-not-and-they-never-can-be. Sometimes there’s a specific thing, and sometimes you can’t put your finger on exactly what the problem is, or it feels like there might be an (innumerable) bunch, all mixed together.

So you can maybe help with that kind of stuff?

Yeah, maybe, sometimes!

Wait! Even talking about this stuff in the abstract feels like it could create a coercive or dependent frame. What say you?

Yeah, this is intense stuff that needs to be handled really carefully, ideally without preconceptions, and with careful boundaries. When I say “impossible problem,” I mean a specific, general class of thing, but, in another sense, it’s gestural shorthand, marketing, even. Importantly, I’m not a licensed professional. And, along the same lines, I encourage people to experiment with any resource that seems like it might be net-helpful. I can suggest other people and resources, and I often do. Finally, there’s ways to engage with the very best of my stuff (for free!) without personally interacting with me. My written material is intentionally built that way, from the ground up.

Ok-ish, for now—can you expand on so-called “impossible problems,” even if you don’t go into full-on concrete examples?

Let’s say you did something or something happened to you, in the past, that had seemingly terrible downstream consequences, and you wish you could take it back, but it’s both in the past and unfixable now. Or, let’s say that there’s something that should be so easy to do, and if only you could just do it, then all your problems would be solved, but you just can’t do it; you absolutely can’t do it. Or, let’s say you want to do something very much, something that’s extremely meaningful and good to you, but a part of you is afraid to do it, or disgusted by it, or others would judge you, or it’s partly immoral, so you’re just stuck, or you just can’t do it, for one or many reasons. Or, let’s say the opportunity to do something has irrevocably passed, but you’ve retrospectively deemed it essential. Or, let’s say, as mentioned above, things are just bad, and, say, you feel like you should be taking action to make things better, but maybe you don’t even know what’s bad, or you do but you have no idea what to do about it. And fixing any of these is currently so important-feeling, yet the possibility of success is currently, seemingly or actually, so remote…

You, of course, couldn’t and won’t ever guarantee solutions or unsticking, right?

Right. Above, I say “solve” or “dissolve,” and/but it’s “no guarantees” on both counts, at least for my part. (“Solving” is when you really, truly, 100%, cleanly, actually, stably get/achieve/have/experience/keep the thing. “Dissolving” is when the thing really, truly, 100%, cleanly, endorsed-ly, all-the-way-down doesn’t matter to you anymore, which could be for lots of reasons, including that you’ve rearranged self/life/world such that you want something even better and more achievable, that does all the good work of the previous thing and possibly much more.) Anyway, when my methods work, they do so by (“fractally”/”recursively”) seeking the possibilities of both solving and dissolving, simultaneously. I, with you, aim for “the right roots in the right order.” Other people or tools might provide quicker shims, hacks, or patches, or, for sure, full-on fixes, and you could/should explore that too! The thing I/we would do is just patiently, carefully, and inexorably seeking the roots, at the finest grain, which is slow but can sometimes work when nothing else will.

What do you mean by “slow”?

By slow I mean SLOW, but it depends. Sometimes a deep, existential problem takes thirty minutes to solve. Sometimes, it takes five thousand hours of clock time to stop biting one’s nails. For the deepest sorts of things, the sorts of “I’ve tried everything for half my life” sorts of things, on the order of ten thousand hours can be a good estimate. Usually, with each passing hour, though, little solution pieces are getting accumulated, that are very general, and so one’s life is getting better in all sorts of little ways. So, it can be really obvious that things are getting better, and that can feel amazing, and it can be very motivating. And, so, it’s not a ten-thousand-hour slog, where things only get better at the end. It’s complex, though: Sometimes (often, even), as “load-bearing” things “refactor,” one can feel worse or a lot worse, over and over again. before things feel better. And, as one gets closer and closer to the heart of a problem, things can feel worse and worse and worse. Since “big problems” are sometimes made of slightly smaller problems, these worse-(and-worse)-and-then-better dynamics happen over and over again, nested inside each other. And it can be worst of all, for days, weeks, or months, before finding relief-laden solutions to bigger and bigger problems. The “biggest, last thing,” sort of by definition, sometimes doesn’t “pop” (“untwist”) until the very, ten-thousand-hour end, and there’s no rushing it; rushing can cause harm and make things take longer! Whew. So, part of the slowness is to work within the tolerances of an individual’s life (money, food, shelter, health, relationships), to try to somewhat smooth out all of that, as much as possible. And, partly it’s just slow going, because minds are big and change is a puzzle that slowly, twistily unlocks in real time, across hours and hours. Often if feels like things are getting obviously, excitingly better, and also short-run worse, simultaneously.

What if I want to work on non-“impossible” problems with you?

Sure! But we may end up on strange-seeming detours and in strange places. My thing is sort of more optimized for “deep fixes.” I’ll do my best to help us avoid “unnecessary deepness,” and I’ll try to note if I ever think that’s likely. (I may update my answer to this question as more data comes in. Generally, I’ll just be trying to support the “depth”/”speed”/”risk” tradeoffs that someone wants.)

Ok, so the risks? Worst case? Likely bad cases? Horror stories?

Yeah, transient or permanent disruption to money, food, shelter, health, wellbeing, relationships. People who need to be “on” all the time, for whatever reason, should be careful. Also, body and mind are connected, so people with high blood pressure, intracranial pressure, intraocular pressure, vascular issues, musculoskeletal issues, or nerve impingement should also be very careful. Also, people who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant should be careful, too. I’m NOT a licensed professional, so these are just my opinions, and they do not constitute formal, professional, or technical advice within the purview of services rendered. Please talk to your doctor or another licensed professional if you have any mental or physical health concerns. All that said, I have spent a great deal of time cataloguing risk and exploring how to mitigate risk. I would, of course, generally/strategically discuss any and all kinds of risk that do NOT directly involve licensed diagnosis/prognosis or finances.

Ok, more specifics! What would we actually do? What happens?

Through internet video/audio chat, or in person, we talk, we sit in silence, we do normal Q&A, we do nonverbal Q&A.

What is Q&A?

“Q&A” is an English-language idiom for “Questions and Answers,” which, of course, is making time and space for the asking and answering of just those. Here, when I use the term “Q&A,” I mean you are the primary question-asker, and I answer your questions. I’ll ask clarifying questions, too, of course.

Why Q&A (versus coaching, dialogue, advice giving…)?

It puts you in the driver’s seat; it makes space for exploring agency, and it’s somewhat less potentially, inadvertently coercive. You can absolutely ask me meta-questions like, “What questions should I be asking?” And, I’m not dogmatically rigid about the structure or anything—I will carefully make provisional suggestions, from time to time. And there can and will be plenty of unstructured interaction, conversation, etc..

What is nonverbal Q&A?

It’s Q&A but with no talking! (Ok, it’s sometimes interleaved with plenty of talking and/or typing.) In any case, interestingly, the bandwidth and fidelity of nonverbal interaction is surprisingly high, and nonverbal interaction can facilitate deep change, and surprisingly efficient change. It is very intuitive and unstructured (“open awareness,” “expanded awareness,” or whatever, or not at all); and, there’s no particular directives or suggestions around “attention,” looking, listening, not looking, not listening, eye contact or not (which doesn’t really make too much sense over video, anyway); no particular directives or suggestions around postures, breathing, behavior, or anything like that. In any case, it can still be intense, sometimes! So, I personally like to at least start with only brief intervals of a few minutes of nonverbal Q&A, followed by a near-complete audiovisual break, and then a verbal check-in, and then maybe repeat, etc.

How do I schedule with you?

The best way is to go ahead and book me, sight-unseen, via calendly. (Easy!) You can also email me at meditationstuff@gmail.com. I have this address set up with nighttime-silenced push notifications, so you might get a quick reply, and you can message in the middle of my night, no problem. Walls of text are fine/good, and concise messages are good, too. You can also DM me on twitter, even if I don’t follow you, yet. And, you can also use this form to indirectly contact me by (slower) email.

What if I have more questions?

Do contact me, as per above, and help me add to this FAQ! Please message me with additional questions and to ask me to clarify existing answers, above. There are whole FAQ categories that could be added.