Nominal Fallacy.

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The word Stress means a lot of things: we seem to pack more meanings into it every day. Slowly those meanings begin to contradict each other, tumbling steadily into nominal fallacy – the idea that we understand something simply because we’ve given it a name.


Wrapping up thoughts in names is necessary. It’s difficult to think if you question the truth of everything, the rabbit-hole is too deep, a premise must hold somewhere, yet it’s cause for concern when our misunderstanding of a word leads us to places we don’t want to go.

 

This is happening with the word ‘Stress’, and if we don’t do something about it now, we’re gonna to have a real mess on our hands.



Good Stress.


'Good Stress’ is a contradiction. ‘Good stress’ doesn’t exist. ‘Creative Demand’ is better.


Creative demand: A demand that doesn’t overwhelm you, yet asks for your full involvement of attention and abilities, due to its necessity and importance.


Let’s get a feel for it. Here are a few sentences I hear all the time, yet now I’ve replaced the word stress with creative demand:


 ”Creative demand gives me an edge”


 ”If I didn’t have creative demand, I’d never get anything done”


 ”Creative demand helps me focus”


 ”I work better under creative demand”


Stress has the opposite effect of creative demand. It’s the wrong word. If you’re stressed in these examples, you’re blundering through life. You’re not doing things as smart as you could be. Your time, and everybody else’s, is being wasted.



Stress.


One way to describe stress is powerful, useful and stunningly articulate – another is mostly irrelevant


You’re here today because your pre-historic ancestors were better at stress than everybody else.


Some may also say you’re here today because you once had a tail – then tails became irrelevant.


Stress is a now mostly a liability; you’re exhausted at the end of a day, not simply because what you were doing was difficult, but because your body and mind acted inadequately. You had to consistently stop yourself from going ‘wild’. 


At your desk, Afternoon, Thursday:


[E-mail] ‘It looks like you’re going to have to redo that piece you did for us. We need it by friday. Sorry about the short notice. Thanks.’


 [You] ‘Bummer’


 [Your body] Kill kill kill kill


 [Your mind] ‘Find a club, or some heavy blunt object, and destroy everything. Punch the nearest person in the face – right now – just do it.’

 [You, reply e-mail] ‘Hahaha, that’s fine guys! No problem! I’ll have it to you then. Thanks for giving me this chance! By the way, did you see the soccer match the other night? Great game huh? Anyhoo, caio.



Stress is the bodies reaction to overwhelming demand. It’s not very useful in modern life, because it’s mostly meant for killing things or running away from them.


When stressed you react destructively to demand. The quickest way to ‘just get it done’ is the best. You’ll look like you’re losing control, and you will be.





How to do smart.


The world is full of people ‘just getting things done’ , just getting by – the destructive approach to demand. Things stay the same, or get worse and worse, until other people are forced to change them.


The modern world needs people to be creative in the face of demand; these are the people who will change the status quo. These are the people who will be celebrated. These are the people will not only survive, but thrive.

These are the kind of people who’ll be leaders in their chosen fields.


Nominal fallacy is an unavoidable objective phenomenon.


Creative demand is a horrible word. I already dislike it, and besides, it’ll only get butchered anyway. Any words we try to give to a ‘just get by’ kind of mind has a limited life-span. It’ll quickly come to mean the opposite, or worse.


We don’t need more new words, we need more new people. People who not only ‘get things done’, but are working towards being creative, adaptive, humane, intuitive, unselfish, change oriented and achingly authentic.


I don’t think we’re ready for a word that describes that kind of person.


Perhaps, we never will be.


That’s ok.


These people will name themselves.

Eventually.

They’re not going to do it in a rush.

———-

Daily Meditation is good.

do it.

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Perfect focus.

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Let’s cut right to the guts of this Myth.


Some say that meditation requires a constant focus to work, but what does the constant in constant focus mean? Does it mean a cold, hard, certain, inhuman and inflexible focus?


No.


Truth is, the focus in meditation is more consistent than constant. Consistent Focus is easy, flexible, natural and forgiving. It’s an intention to be focused. A focus that takes our humanity into account.


Perfect constant focus is a myth. It doesn’t exist – at least, not in the way you think.  


Meditation always works, even if you attempt the perfect, constant focus.


Yet it only works because it’s impossible.



Do you even lift?


Meditation works just like anything else.


You do something outside your normal capabilities enough – the mind and body adapt – and then you have a new capability. This is how learning works.


Generally, when you perform a task outside your normal capabilities enough, there’s some form of stretch involved. It’s a part of the process. It’s also part of the process in meditation.

 You wouldn’t beat yourself up if you tried (and couldn’t) dead-lift 200kg.

 You wouldn’t beat yourself up if you tried (and couldn’t) play stairway to heaven the first time you picked up a guitar.

 You wouldn’t beat yourself up if the first time you attempted an impossible task, you failed.


You shouldn’t beat yourself up for not achieving an imagined impossible.  


Meditating 20 minutes without thoughts is impossible; that’s how it works.

 

You stretch using a weight – the impossibility of constant focus – and your mind and body adapts – you learn a new skill.

A new kind of focus.




The Simplicity on the other side of Simplicity.


Any daily meditator will assure you that you’ll never achieve the cold, hard, constant and inflexible focus of your dreams anyway. Good. That focus is based on how well you can ignore things. It’s clumsy, it lacks imagination. It’s also (as I’m sure mentioned I’ve few times already) impossible.


After they’ve cleared that up, they’ll assure you that your understanding of what focus is changes with consistent practice. You reach the simplicity on the other side of complexity, and all you had to do was sit down and close your eyes.  

You now have a powerful tool.



Effortless Focus

An evolved, open kind of focus, certainly the most useful to a modern world. Taylorism is dead (or dying), and we now work smarter. Trial and error has taught us that focus based on how well you can ignore everything else is not the safe place. Being safe actually means creativity, inspiration and innovation, the ability to really zoom in, yet remain open to influence.


It sounds great, it is great, and it is inevitable. The freight train of consistent meditation practice is taking care of the momentum. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Effortless focus will be the result.



Signpost, not a map

This is not an instruction. It’s assurance. Sometimes your mind will not sit back and enjoy the ride. Sometimes, frustrated at not instantly achieving the impossible, your mind’ll beat itself up
you will beat yourself up.

Everybody does this. Often.


Yet, here’s the assurance:

You’ll achieve the benefits of meditation – [ leaning-in for effect ] No matter how hard you try.


The stretch lives in the consistent attempt of the impossible.

Not the holding of the impossible.

And certainly not the achievement of the impossible.


When you consistently attempt the impossible, the impossible comes to you; you become the proud owner of impossibility on your own terms. 

You achieve a perfect kind of focus.

Until then …


Don’t get jaded.


——

Daily Meditation is good.

do it.

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Behind Blue Eyes.

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I get into silly situations all the time.


We all do.


We’ll do things that seem to be going backwards. Things that lead us away from what we want to be – supposedly our ideal self.


The term ‘Ideal-self’ doesn’t sit well with me. It feels kinda pompous, arrogant. I cringe when I have to say it.


But I do have to say it, because it’s also a seemingly innate (and powerful) mental device.


It’s a tool, and like all tools it’s apt – wonderfully useful – when used correctly – and dangerously maladaptive when used all willy-nilly. What people call ‘Self-sabotage’ is the result of willy-nilly ideal-self use.

We’re 4-year-olds with firehoses.


It’s not your fault.


These days the ideal-self is plastered up everywhere. Everything tells us that it’s easy and fun to be your ideal-self. We’re reminded that one day you’ll get there; one more thing and then you’ll have it – your perfect, ideal-self. Forever. At least until somebody cooler comes along.

 No wonder we feel drained at the end of the day. All we want to do is forget the worlds’ expectations (including our own) of us.

Sadly, the things we use to forget only heap more expectations on us and things feel even messier.


Modern culture sells to our most primitive impulses, it sells short-term gain, yet the pressure from that same culture to suppress the impulse of short-term gain is unrealistic.
Somehow, we manage to get by.


It’s not surprising that we’re ‘Self-sabotaging’;


It’s surprising that we’re not all self-destructing.



"The journey is more important than the end or the start”

(Linkin Park, 2000, In The End [rap remix], Hybrid Theory)


There is a more useful way to handle our little ideal-self tool though, it’s as simple as holding it differently, merely changing our grip.


How do we grip the tool? You’ve heard it before:


It’s the journey, not the destination.


There’s no ideal ideal-self at the end of the rainbow. You’re destined to fail, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.


You weren’t born bi-pedal.


We learn to walk by falling over.


"I don’t want them sour grapes, anyway."

(Fox, Aesop’s Fables, 620bc-560bc, The Fox and The Grapes,)

Cognitive Dissonance is a name for the discomfort that comes from performing an action that goes against our beliefs.


One part of cognitive dissonance works loosely like this:

 If you believe something enough, your actions, over time, are more likely to reflect that belief.

 

Fair enough, this makes sense, but the opposite is also true:

 If we perform an action enough, our beliefs, over time, are more likely to reflect that action – even if we didn’t agree with that action in the first place.



Grape Delicious.


Here’s some useful knowledge of cognitive dissonance: Awareness of it supports new good habits. This is what this awareness looks like:


When you stop performing a good habit, but your belief in that good habit is still high, cognitive dissonance will balance things out – It’ll help you justify why you don’t perform that action anymore.


Conviction will fade, and you’ll think up some vague or cloudy excuse: ‘I don’t want them sour grapes anyway’.


Part of you knows that’s a sneaky little lie, yet your battered ideal-self lets out an obvious sigh and looks at you with world-weary puppy-dog eyes. It’s had enough for today.


So you let your little self-lie slide, you ignore it for the sake of sweet mercy. Your ideal-self is allowed a moment of respite, it crawls off to recover, in comes short-term gain, out goes restrictions, in comes the chocolate, out goes intellectual pursuit, in comes Game of Thrones, out goes all your ‘good work’ … and in comes self-loathing.

 I do this all the time.

 Everybody does.

 It’s human. It’s honest. It’s real compassion: We give our ideal-self a break because watching it to work beyond the point of exhaustion hurts us too.

Because kicking somebody while they’re down simply feels wrong. (Even if it is a make-believe body, an ‘ideal-self’.)


Eventually, we cut ourselves some slack.

Grip.

 

Yet the ideal-self is tough. It always gets back up again. This is where it’s power lies. This is using it correctly. This is having the grip right. Every time the ideal-self is knocked down it grows that little bit stronger. We just have to pick it up, dust it off, give it a slap on the back and remind it, once again, of our humanity, and the perennial wisdom of the early 00’s.

(Aaliyah, 2002, I Care 4 U, Try Again):

If at first you don’t succeed /


Dust yourself off, and try again/


You can dust it off and try again /


Dust yourself off and try again, try again /


[cue images of slow motion kung-foo fight in a blazing circles of flames]

———-

Daily Meditation is good. Do it.

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Introspection


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"It seems as if the elementary psychic fact were not thought of this thought or that thought, but my thought every thought being owned…

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"The universal conscious fact is not ‘feelings and thoughts exist’ but ‘I think’ and ‘I feel.’"

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William James (1890),  Thought tends to personal form.  The Principles of Psychology (Chapter 9)


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 William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910)

Interoception.

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How do you feel?


How are your organs feeling?


What are they feeling?


What am I talking about?


Interoception: A sense of how our body feels.


You eat too much. You feel full. You notice that feeling affects your mental state – Interoception.


My apple dictionary has no idea what it is, and modern science seems to be just grasping it now.


Our sense of interoception is there, we simply forget about it sometimes.

 That’s because it’s subtle. The stressed modern mind isn’t going to pick up on subtle unless it looks for it.


 

Maybe.



 Interoception is so subtle, so subjective and so easily influenced that it’s hard to objectively solidify its existence. You can’t hold interoception. You can’t ‘prove’ its existence. Scientists call things of this uncertain nature ‘qualia’.


This presents a problem, how do I talk about something that does not exist?


Simple, I leave behind objectivity and talk subjectively – speaking right to your experience. Speaking to experience feel right to me; if you can’t trust your experience, what can you trust?  


Talking to your personal experience is much more fun.



Interoception is this:



 How good am I at feeling how my body feels?


 Interoception is what people use when they say, ‘feeling healthy feels good’.

   

 And what use when they say, ‘eating too much unhealthy food makes me feel yuk’.


Let’s assume people like feeling good and dislike feeling bad.


Then look at rising obesity rates worldwide.


How do we feel?


We have no idea.



We’re missing something.



Subjective-



After exercise we don’t really feel like eating a greasy hamburger. We feel lighter, somehow fresh; we don’t want to ruin that feeling. Same goes after massage.

 This is because you have put your attention inside for a moment. You make how you feel inside important.


Outside these rare experiences, you constantly worry about the outside world. Your attention is outside. Outside is important; inside fades into the background, we forget how we are feeling.




-Reasoning


If you feel how good it feels to feel good inside, living healthy is easier.


If you feel how bad it feels to feel bad inside, living healthy is not a chore, it’s easier, it feels good, it makes you happy.


Yes, as always, balance is a good thing, not too much inside, not to much outside.


Yet we are out of balance. And it is making us sick.


-Continued


Daily Meditators find it’s easier to be healthy.


Practice makes perfect.


When you practice meditation, you practice looking inside.


This means you get good at knowing what you feel inside.


You get to know how you are feeling. 

Easy and Easier


Daily Meditation makes living healthy easier.


Easier is the right word to use.


Daily Meditation does not make living healthy easy.


Easy is boring. Easy is pristine, white-marble, suburban infomercials.


Easy is not life. Nobody learns anything from easy.




Easier


Easier has a story. Easier is human. Easier goes with the flow. Easier is fun, real.


Easier can get right down in the mess of things just for the fun of it; when its ready to come out, it comes out smoothly.


I’m saying you can still eat that greasy hamburger, drink that beer, smoke that cigarette, but when you’re ready to move on, you can move on without it being such a chore because you’re only listening to what people say is good for you.

The whole thing becomes much simpler:


You can now clearly experience and decide what works for you, personally.


———-

Daily Meditation makes living healthy easier.

Do it.

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Thoughts are a part of meditation.

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The first mention that I can find about this whole ‘non-thoughts’ thing is in the late 7th century, in a famous debate between Indian Buddhist, Kamalaśīla and Chinese ‘north school’ Buddhist, Moheyan in
 a kind of monastical title fight for Tibetan Buddhism.


Kamalaśīla, at a particularly heated point in the debate, was said to deliver this snappy rhetorical low-blow:

 

 „There is a particular place, a kind of hell for heterodox Yogis, who erroneously believe that meditation is not thinking; it is the realm of beings without minds. Who, after death, spend 500 eons as mindless zombies.”


Needless to say Kamalaśīla believed that thoughtless meditation was not a good thing, let alone a desirable thing. He won the debate, and so we have Tibetan Buddhism as it is today.


All of what I am telling you is useless though, because this idea that the ‘goal’ of meditation is thoughtlessness keeps popping up. If it can pop up in the mind of our Chinese monk who, if Kamalaśīla was right, is still drooling on the dull, grey floorboards of the afterlife, then it must be more innate than I’d like to believe.


And I’d like to believe it were simple. I wish it were something that could be remedied by a simple instruction. I wish it looked like this:


Me: Thoughts are a part of meditation. In fact, they’re a necessary part of meditation.

Your Brain: Got it.

You: [Nodding excitedly] Got it!

Me: Great, let’s meditate.


[20 minutes later]


Me: Open the eyes slowly.

[Silence … ]

You: That was amazing, I feel great now. I had thoughts, but that’s ok, that’s just a part of meditation, right?

Me: You Betcha!

[We both smile into the camera; thumbs up]


Instead, the first time meditating usually looks like this:


Me: Thoughts are a part of meditation. In fact, they’re a necessary part of meditation.

Your Brain: Got it.

You: [Nodding excitedly] Got it!

Me: Great let’s meditate.

[20 minutes later]

Me: Open the eyes slowly.

[Silence …]

Your Brain: Tell him I kept having thoughts and that thoughts aren’t a part of meditation.

You: I kept having thoughts. Thoughts aren’t a part of meditation.

Me: [Groan] [Face palm]


This happens to everybody (including me), because we use goal-oriented thinking in a task that is not goal-oriented. 

We use our day-to-day thinking:


I want happiness.

Happiness is over there, on the other side of that thing.

Let’s think about what’s in the way of happiness. That’s now our ‘problem’.

In Meditation

In meditation there is no goal, but we give goal-making a shot because that’s our default, day-to-day, mode of thinking.

This is what that often looks like:


I want happiness.

Happiness is on the other side of thoughts.

Thoughts are in the way of happiness.

Thoughts are the problem.


Your mind thinks thoughts are the problem.


They’re not. You’re mind is just stuck on default. 

You’ll keep thinking thoughts are the problem anyway, that’s human. Meditation practice has cleverly accounted for your humanity – it has that understanding built in – that’s why it works.

I can talk about thoughts in meditation until I am blue in the face, but at the end of the day, there’s only one answer to your perceived ‘problem’:


Knowledge that comes through consistent practice.


——

Daily Meditation is good. Do it.

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Lifestyle.

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You don’t have to change your lifestyle to be a meditator any more than you have to change your life to be a rock-climber or a cyclist. 

Meditation is even more flexible because you don’t need a ‘special item’ (Road Bike) or a ’special place’ (Rock-climbing Hall) – This means less things to define you, less to mould you, less to influence you. You just need you.

It’s dead simple: If you can think, you can meditate. 

Not if you can think – a certain idea and agree with it – you can meditate.

Or 

If you meditate it will make you believe things that you don’t want to. 

Meditation does not add anything onto you. It takes away the things that are in the way of you. A few of these things are stress, social awkwardness and the need for social proof.



You Can Take the Activity Out of the Culture, but Can You Take the Culture Out of the Activity?


Yes. We’ve been doing this for millennia, Mathematics, Olympics, Democracy … Zoomba 

Often small artifacts from the culture stays behind – as have the Torch ceremony in Olympics – but these artifacts aren’t necessary. If you don’t want to partake in them, you’ll still be just as good (if-not-better) than people who do.

Engaging in the culture from which an activity arose is incredibly interesting, yet far from necessary.  

What I’m saying is you don’t need to ‘be’ anything to be a meditator.



You are what you do.


Are you? If you ride motorbikes does that mean you will be a hell’s angel? 

If you listen to country music does that mean you will ride a horse and wear a ten-gallon hat?

If go to the gym does that mean you will drink protein shakes for breakfast, cover yourself in banana oil and enter body-building competitions?

If you meditate does that mean you will wear all-white, listen to Enya, talk about Angels and cry when presented with non-organic kale?

No, to all the above. 



What you are is what you allow yourself to be.

For most of us, certain activities help define who we are, how we act, how we dress and what we believe in.  

But it’s not the activity doing this, it’s us. We choose how we make up our persona. If you recognise the benefits of exercise but something about engaging in a Posedowndoes not seem to fit with you, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up in one. 
Yet, there is no denying your chances have grown. 
Maybe you’ll look more in the mirror, maybe even you’ll understand how people can enjoy bodybuilding.

If you meditate daily you may get a feeling what ‘spirituality’ is about. Maybe you’ll understand a little of what those monks are talking about. Even Enya may be more bearable (though I’m not making any promises). But it’s highly unlikely that you’ll wander around in all-white, abstain from all worldly desires, endlessly quote spiritual teachings and turn vegetarian – unless that feels right to you, in which case, that’s who you are, embrace it.

What you are is what you allow yourself to be.

An activity can help to define yourself, but does it pick your wardrobe for you? Does it affect the way you present yourself to society? 
That’s your choice. [as I stuff the banana oil and speedos into a drawer]


In conclusion:

Is meditation going to turn you into something you don’t want to be? If you’re asking yourself that question, then the answer is no. 

—-
Daily Meditation is good.

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