Anxiety.



Anxiety is a thing. It has its own word. It represents a well-studied (and often experienced) nervous disorder.


Happiness for no reason is a thing.
  It doesn’t have it’s own word.
  It isn’t well studied.
  And people seem to experience it little. 
  It’s less of a thing.


Mandatory

Anxiety deserves as much respect as happiness-for-no-reason. 

Yet anxiety doesn’t deserve to be more of a thing.


Balance

Why isn’t happiness-for-no-reason more of a thing?

Or 

Why do we experience unease-for-no-reason – more than – happiness-for-no-reason?

It’s likely a combination of Nature and Nurture – biology and habit. 

We can’t do much about the biology side of things, yet we can work with habit


Double Rainbows


We spend most our life trying to do things that make us happy. We make a habit of happiness-always-for-a-reason. When reasons do not look valid or simply do not appear, we feel uneasy. Our happiness is threatened and so is our structure of meaning. 

It makes good sense to be anxious when all happiness and all meaning is threatened. It’s logical to be anxious if every bit little of your happiness and every little bit of your meaning could be utterly wiped-out by some vague uncontrollable event in the not-too-distant future. 

The experience of anxiety is not the problem; a cultural habit of total reliance on pre-determined, specific, unchanging reality is.


Happiness-for-no-(or not so easily defined in this post)-reason.


Occasionally in meditation, whilst doing all the other good work, you fall into an experience in which you forget everything. You forget the world around you, your opinions, the targets of your expectations, your relationships, your work, your things, your stuff, your thoughts and your problems. You forget everything. Every single thing in your life is utterly wiped-out and forgotten in an instant … and happiness is still available.
Is that experience good for you?
Yes. 



Daily Meditation is good. Do it.



The great debate in meditation today – what to do with your arms and legs. 



The devil in the details.


Once you go deep enough into something, the greatest battles always seem to be fought over the finest details. 

It works like this: If you care enough, and you know enough, the finest details are where you make your stand – where your personal opinion is hardest fought. 

The fine details are important. They’re often the turning-point between several vastly different things, so people fight hard. The fine details means a lot to people. It represents something. It usually represents themselves: 

The finest detail represents strong personal preference.

Further;

You firmly agree with what suits you best.

Once more;

The finest detail represents fundamentally different kinds of people.



Different Horses for Different Courses.


There are various opinions on how to sit during meditation. These opinions represent different values, different goals, different personalities, different anatomies, and different cultures.

When you ask your teacher why you sit the way you do in meditation, they’ll explain how their way to sit is best way to sit, and they should, because the masters of those meditation techniques knew that the dynamics and benefits of meditation are greatly influenced by seating-style. 
Seating-style really defines, and delivers, what you want out of your chosen meditation technique. 
Seating-style is also irrelevant, for a very long time. 

It’s more relevant for you practice daily to form a habit: 

- After you form a habit, take space to fully understand why you sit the way you do.

- After you fully understand why you are supposed sit the way you do, take space to question why you sit the way you do: Does it fit your values, goals, personality, anatomy and culture? Does it make sense to you?


Forget it. For Now.

In the end, the greatest debates are over the finest details, and the finer and finer we go into anything – the closer we come to ourselves. As subjective and objective blur, so does our judgement.

The devil is in the details, and we put the devil there ourselves. 

But, as a rule, it’s best to know what you’re dealing with before you start invoking Satan. And it’s probably best not to invoke Him right before you sit down to meditate. 
(Unless, of course, that represents your particular values, goals, etc… ) 


Summary.

When you first start meditation, it doesn’t matter how you sit; it matters how often you sit. 
(What to do with those arms and legs can come later.)


Daily Meditation is Good. Do it.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up, 1936,

Time is Money.

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Time is money. The depth of this idiom is often lost on us.

 

Let’s break it down:

 

Time is money

 

Money represents value

 

Then we come to this point: Time is valuable.

 

True, yes, but can we squeeze more out of it?

 

Sure, the answer is right in front of us.

 

Time is value.

 

Time = value. Time does not represent value (time is valuable), time is value.

 

Now, before we pick this apart further, we have to be aware that time, in this idiom, does not refer to the cold, impersonal, mechanical succession of events we understand as time, but as our time, your time, the time that you have to live, the time that is valuable because it runs out. The time that you spend doing things.

 

Your time is currency. A currency that never stops flowing.

 

You spend time on what you value, whether you like it or not.



Your Time – the original superfluid.



Your time is the original currency. From the beginning of biological existence, things spent time on things they valued.

 

The mind is a value machine. It looks for value, creates value and sustains value.

 

You might not think that laying around all day eating pizza is very valuable, but some part of you obviously does, otherwise you wouldn’t do it. It’s your primitive value system. It’s old, it’s ingrained, and it’s powerful. It does not require attention.

 

It’s called bottom-up processing.



Human.



Humans have the evolved the ability of abstract value or ‘delayed gratification’.

 

Abstract value is new, learned and difficult to grasp. It requires attention.

 

It works, but our minds have a tendency towards the primitive value system. (Billion-year-old habits die hard.)

 

When we manage to delay gratification – override the primitive value system – it’s called top-down processing.




Back in time.



Here we make the cognitive leap.

 

There is no such thing as time. There is only spending of value.

 

When you say ‘I don’t have time for ________

 

You actually say ‘I don’t value ______ as much other things right now’

 

Humans, being mostly polite and social creatures, came up with this idea of ‘personal time’, because it’s not very nice telling your mother that you don’t value her enough to call her right now.

 

Brutal, yes. But I’m here to show you something useful.




This change in thinking is useful in all kinds of ways –



yet here’s the focus on meditation. A little logical knot.

 

Every time you say – ‘I don’t have time to meditate.’

 

You actually say – ‘I don’t value meditation as much as other things.’

 

Time is not the problem here. Value is.



Environment.



It’s difficult to create abstract value.

 

You’ve heard me say ‘meditation is good for you,’ perhaps a dozen times.

 

You (your biology via evolution) has heard your environment say ’social interaction is good for you,’ Billions of times.

 

It is 5:00pm, you’re at home, it has been a busy day and you have a choice: Meditate for 20 minutes or check Facebook for 20 minutes.

 

This is what the choice looks like to your mind:

 

1) Trust a new, uncertain and vague idea of value from a biased source? (Me telling you that meditation is good for you.)

 

2) Trust a time-tested, personally experienced and biological certain idea of value? (Social interaction – in this case, Facebook – is good for you)

 

Winner: Facebook – every. damn. time.




How to make time.



Take out uncertainty. Take out the abstract. Give value to attention.

 

Heard wonderful things about meditation? Who cares. Your mind sure as hell doesn’t. Your mind wants personal, subjective, one-on-one experience with the thing of value.

 

This is how we make value certain:

 

1# Meditate twice daily for a month.

 

2# Pay attention to how you feel after meditation. Glad you meditated? Feel clearer? Better mood? Better Rested?

 

3# Pay attention to how meditation improves your life and, through improving your life, improves the lives of others.

 

4# Step 3# helped you notice a benefit? Remind yourself before each meditation. Say, ‘That’s why I meditate daily’. The benefit doesn’t always have to be something new.

 

Your mind will eventually recognise value. But you have to follow these steps every day. These four things are now your meditation routine. It is impossible for you to meditate without them. Write ‘em down and use them.

 

Your mind does care a little about what other people say,

otherwise you wouldn’t have started meditation in the first place. So here’s one more important step:

 

5# Read, watch or listen to something about meditation once a day, for a month.

 

Optional.

6# Post step number five.

 

Or post about a benefit you have recognised in you, or somebody you know.

 

Post here, post to your facebook or mine  [prolepsis], post to twitter, post to a close friend, or even e-post to me (edwardmark[at]meditationminimalism.com). Or alternate. This will help me, this will help you, and this will help others. 


Because we all need more useful ammunition for the creation of abstract value.

And because valid information is real ammunition in the human war against old, ingrained habits – of all kinds.

We all lose battles, yet with enough ammunition, we’ll always win the war. 

Time is on our side.



——-

Daily Meditation is good. do it. 

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Introspection further.

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Introspection: a skill and a daily benefit of meditation.


Introspection is the ability to examine conscious experience – thoughts, feelings, opinions – as objects.


Questions like ‘why do I have this opinion,’ ‘why do I feel this way’ and ‘where do these thoughts come from’ are introspective.


Often we are so deep in the subjective experience of our own thoughts, feelings, and opinions that we miss the obvious answer.

We forget that we are not our thoughts – that our thoughts are simply a part of who we are.

A quote by Rudolf Steiner:


"Thinking … is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas"
Rudolf Steiner,
Goethean Science, 1883


Thinking is a sense. If you’ve ever treated it so, then you’ve practiced introspection.




When was the last time you thought about what you think about?



Introspection is a skill, and, like any skill, it can be learned through consistent practice. When you meditate, you practice allowing yourself  awareness of your thoughts, feelings and opinions, in a non-judgemental kinda way.


Here’s how it works:

The mind wants to make thoughts subjective; that’s just what the mind does. That’s ok, you innocently bring the mind back to this non-judgmental, uninvested awareness.

Now you are being introspective.



And now the mind mind pulled you back to subjectivity.

And now we innocently come back to non-judgmental, uninvested awareness – objectivity.


Then we are pulled back to subjectivity.


… Objectivity


… Subjectivity


… Objectivity

… Subjectivity


And so on. Like that.

Consistently practice this, and you’re consistently practicing the fundamentals of introspection.  

Gradual.



Meditation is not the only way to introspect; it’s not even the best. But, twice daily, among all the other benefits of meditation, it gives you a chance to check up on yourself, and become aware of not only what you’re thinking, but how you’re thinking.


You learn to resolve some of your problems simply because you allow yourself a little perspective.


You laugh at what the mind does with 20 minutes free thinking time, when the leash of moment-to-moment necessity or entertainment is let go.


You have a chance to laugh at your humanity, and wonder how you manage to get anything done with all that beautiful, silly noise going on up there.  


You have a chance to practice perspective and humour. 

You have a chance to practice your humanity.

And as they say in the classics: “A little perspective – and a little humour – goes a long way.”

And as I’ve joyfully implied for the last few posts:


“A little humanity goes even further”





———
Daily Meditation is good. 

do it.

Tell me how I can help you: edwardmark[at]meditationminimalism.com

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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.

Tell me how I can help you: edwardmark[at]meditationminimalism.com

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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.

Tell me how I can help you: edwardmark[at]meditationminimalism.com


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