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Modular Meditation 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Remember Kenton Whitman’s wonderful GLOW meditation [<link, video]?

Yes. Remind me what GLOW stands for.

  • Gratitude – bringing to mind one or more things that you are grateful for, focusing on the feeling.
  • Love – bringing to mind one or more things that you love, again focusing on the feeling.
  • Oneness – releasing your sense of self and feeling the connection with any and everything.
  • Wonder – accessing curiosity: ‘I wonder what magical amazing wonderful unexpected surprises are going to come into my life today.’

I’ve recently discovered another wonderful meditation by Vishen Lakhiani. He calls it the 6-phase meditation [<link, video]:

  • Love and Compassion feeling the energy of love and compassion radiating from you, and gradually expanding the feeling to all humanity and every living being on Earth.
  • Gratitude – bringing to mind multiple things that you are grateful for, to produce an emotional flooding [<link; short read] effect.
  • Forgiveness – bringing to mind someone you haven’t yet forgiven and forgiving them.
  • Future Dreaming (Creative Visualization) – thinking of some aspect of your life a few years into the future and imagining yourself experiencing the ideal outcome, feeling the joy you would feel as if it were already happening.
  • The Perfect Day – thinking about what you want/have to do today and visualizing each of them unfolding in the most perfect way possible.
  • The Blessing – imagining there’s a loving higher power above you that’s supporting you in your vision and intentions and giving you endless strength and energy.

I notice a pronounced imagination component in Vishen’s meditation.

That’s the beauty of it. It’s also imagination and visualization practice.

Which one do you like more?

“Notice how both have the same structure in that they are made of several components. I like to call this kind meditation structure modular meditation. Each of the components that make up the meditation is an interchangeable module

I like both meditations, so I’m taking pieces from both and creating my own meditation.

What does it look like?

It’s a play in progress. I’m experimenting with it.

On Meditation and Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

There are two aspects to the practice of meditation. One is about the mechanics of the practice – what to do, and how. The other aspect is about meaning. You can make the practice more powerful by making it meaningful.

How can I make meditation meaningful?

You’re essentially imbuing it with meaning and connecting it with your values. You’re weaving a personal story around it. Here’s a glimpse of my own personal story:

Meditation is Mental Training. You mind requires training just like your body does. On the Path of Mastery, meditation is a fundamental aspect of that training.

Meditation is Self-Awareness and Self-Knowledge. Meditation is a playful exploration of your inner world, and through that, a fundamental means of learning about yourself.

Meditation is Ritual. Meditation is a gateway into the universe of The Sacred.

Meditation is Self-Love. Meditation is a profound act of Self-Care and Self-Love, thus an expression of Love. The practice of meditation is the practice of Love.

Meditation is Peace and Joy. There’s a quote I love by Thich Nhat Hanh:

If you feel happy, peaceful, and joyful, you are practicing correctly. (Thick Nhat Hanh)

Meditation is the practice of coming home to yourself – a sacred Homecoming. Peace and Joy are the sign that you’ve arrived.

You can get inspiration from my story and shape your own.

Two types of meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the best time to meditate?”

“We can think of many types of meditation. Two of them particularly stand out: meditation in comfort and meditation in discomfort

Meditation in comfort requires optimal conditions. Meditation in discomfort does not. In fact, meditation in discomfort requires suboptimal conditions – thus teaching you to adapt

Ultimately, meditation is a tool. It’s important not to lose sight of the scope of the tool.”

“What is the scope of the tool?”

To prepare you for life. The best way to prepare for life is in the turmoil of life.”

Deconstructing Presence

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does it mean to be present?”

“It’s useful to ask the opposite question: (Inversion)

What does it mean to not be present?”

“Does it mean to not be in the present – that is, to be in the past or the future?”

“Being in the past or the future actually means thinking about the past or the future. 

It is possible to not be present while thinking about the present, or about things that are atemporal – ideas, for instance.”

“Does this mean thinking is the main obstacle to presence?”

“Let us think what thinking does. It makes you lose touch with your sensory experience, thus miss information coming from your senses.

Metaphorically, thinking takes up mental bandwidth; the more it takes up, the less is left for awareness.”

“Then, does not being present mean to be unaware of your sensory experience?”

“Clearly, you’re not present if you’re not aware of any information from your senses.

What if you’re aware of some sensory information? For instance, you’re aware of a sound in the environment, but unaware of your physical sensations. So you’re aware of audio information but not kinesthetic information. Are you present in this case?”

“I’m thinking some sensory information is more important. In our case, kinesthetic information is more important than audio information because it provides internal feedback. Kinesthetic information builds self-knowledge.”

“So does not being present mean being unaware of your kinesthetic sensory experience?”

“What if you’re narrowly aware of your kinesthetic sensory experience but unaware of you environment?”

“Reminds me of Michael Ashcroft’s idea of collapsed awareness. Maybe being present means expanded awareness – being aware of both your kinesthetic sensory experience and your environment.

“Something to consider.”

On practicing Self-Awareness

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I practice Self-Awareness?”

“Take a moment to think of a color and look around you. Notice how all instances of the color start popping into view, many of which were invisible in plain sight a few moments ago. This is an instance of directing attention – a fundamental operation of the human mind. In this case, I intentionally used the color as an attention-directing tool. I call such perceptual tools, lenses [<link; short read].

In the same way, Self-Awareness requires directing attention to certain aspects of yourself. Part of the practice is gaining clarity on what the most important things to notice are.”

“What are the most important things to notice about yourself?”

“These are the most important lenses I’ve identified so far:

Lens of Expansiveness

When you’re focusing your attention on something and when lost in thought, your field of awareness collapses and you lose touch with your sensory awareness. 

Use the lens of expensiveness to do awareness checks throughout the day.

Question: Are you expanded or contracted?

Practice: Meta-Awareness, Expanding Awareness, Peripheral Vision

Lens of Posture

There’s an optimal position of the head on top of the spine – one of the core insights of the Alexander Technique. When you find this sweet spot, the result is lightness; it feels as if the head is floating over your shoulders. Some people describe this feeling as ‘antigravity’, or ‘freeing the neck’. This is the key to posture.

To discover the sweet spot, imagine a thread that runs from the top of your head all the way down through your spine, and gently pull the thread up. Relax your shoulders. Feel your spine lengthen. Chest up, chin down.

Use the lens of posture to do posture checks and free your neck throughout the day.

Question: How is your posture?

Practice: Alignment, Body Awareness

Lens of Breathing

Emotional states influence our natural breathing patterns. By changing your breathing pattern, you can change your state. Slowing down your breathing has a calming effect.

Use the lens of breathing to do a breath check every time something disturbs your inner balance.

Question: How is your breathing?

Practice: Breath Awareness, Conscious Breathing, Body Awareness

Lens of Feelings

Emotions are nothing more than physical sensations that have been named and have had a story woven around them. To deal with any unpleasant emotional sensation, always choose awareness over avoidance.

Another important physical sensation is muscular tension. Releasing muscular (and mental) tension helps you relax. Tension is often located in the shoulders, neck, and face.

Use the lens of feelings to fully experience your emotional sensations and to notice muscular tension.

Questions:
Where are you feeling this emotional sensation in your body? What was the trigger?
Where are you holding tension?

Practice: Body Awareness, Body Scan, Non-Judgmental Awareness, Non-Doing [<link; medium read], Relaxation, Letting Go

Lens of Thoughts

Everything we experience is influenced by our thoughts. Our thoughts create our reality.

We view reality through a filter of meaning. Everything we experience is an interpretation. Change your interpretation of something, and your experience of it changes.

Use the lens of thoughts to notice your thought patterns. Notice judgment [<link; short read], assumptions, ruminations, desires and expectations.

Question: What kind of thought pattern is this? Is it resourceful or unresourceful?

Practice: Metacognition, Non-Judgment, Letting Go”

The Art of Perception 10

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Pay attention to the gifts around you.”

“Attention is one component of it. The other component is Meaning.

You see what you pay attention to.
You pay attention to what you consider meaningful. Everything else is invisible [<link; very short read].

We have a perceptual map of the world. This perceptual map is largely a map of meaning. In expanding the map, you’re expanding your reality.”

“How do you expand your perceptual map?”

“This is a game in itself.

All the things you usually notice form a perceptual pattern. This pattern traces the boundary of your reality. One way to expand your map is to regularly break this pattern. 

Make it a habit to look at things you don’t normally notice and ask yourself:

How is this a gift?

The Gift of Attention

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Attention is one of our most important resources. It creates our reality.

Attention is a Gift – your Gift to the world (Gift-Giving), and the world’s Gift to you (Gift-Receiving).”

What if you expressed Gratitude every time someone offered you the Gift of their Attention?

“Thank you for your Attention.”

“My pleasure, dear.”

Moving Meditation 2

Meditation in activity is a thousand times superior to meditation in stillness. (Hakuin Ekaku)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Why is meditation in activity superior to meditation in stillness?”

“I call them moving meditation and still meditation.

Both are beautiful, and both have the same end: practicing concentration, achieving and maintaining inner stillness.

The difference is, still meditation requires preparation, whereas moving meditation does not. 

You can practice moving meditation anywhere, at any time

Wherever you are, you can choose to turn the next 5 minutes into meditation. (Time Focus)

Whatever you’re doing, you can choose to engage in it as meditation. (Activity Focus)”

Contemplative Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is contemplative meditation?”

Meditation that has as a point of focus an item you take for granted. Unlike regular meditation, it has a reflexive component. 

Let’s take this pencil you’re writing with for example.

What is it?”

“It’s a tool that allows me to write down my thoughts and build upon them. I use it as a thinking tool.”

“We can think of technology as an extension of our capacities. The pencil is an extension of your mind.

In essence, reflection is a process of directing attention.

You can direct attention to simply having it. Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have it.”

“I wouldn’t be able to play with ideas the way I love to. I find that imagining the opposite really helps me appreciate it.”

“This is a contrasting [<link; short read] effect. 

You can direct attention to being able to use it. Think of your beautiful BodyMind. Think of the immense complexity of the operations mobilized at a cellular level in the simple act of writing.”

“It’s mind-boggling. This realization always makes me think of a miracle.”

“Miracle is the perfect word for describing it.

Expanding upon it, you can direct attention to interconnectedness. Remember the ‘I, Pencil’ video [<link]?”

“Yes. Thought-provoking.”

“As you contemplate the pencil, think of the vast network of people involved in it reaching your hands. Another miracle.

Think that, if you zoom in [<link; medium read] far enough, the pencil is made of the same basic building blocks you – and everything else – are. Yet another miracle.

Interestingly, most miracles are invisible [<link; very short read] to the eye. You can only see them with the mind’s eye: Imagination.”

“So the purpose of the meditation is revealing the miracles that are hiding in plain sight?”

“You could say that.”

On Meditation and Compounding

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Your breaks after a pomodoro (30 minutes) of deep work are 10-minute long, right?”

“Yes.”

What if you did a 5-minute meditation during every break?

All these little meditation rep(etition)s compound [<link; short read].

You start and end the day with a 10-minute meditation. That’s 20 minutes. 8 breaks – 4 hours of deep work – mean 40 more minutes. That’s easily one hour of meditation every day.”

“Beautiful idea.”