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Mastery Protocol

v102 Mark D Lippmann Method (“Mastery Protocol”/“Main Protocol”/“Main Protocol Document”/“Protocol Document”)

Editor's note

This document is an unofficial formatted version of the canonical protocol document and does not contain the appendix, readme, or other additional resources. And, while I try to keep this version up-to-date with the official version, don't count on it always being up-to-date or 100% accurate (transcription errors happen).

Please see the canonical version for the latest updates & for additional resources.

Companion tools:

  1. preliminary/auxiliary practices random sampler
  2. p3 random sampler
  3. p8 random sampler

This document was last updated 2020-09-07-23:51:07 UTC.


All rights reserved. You may fork/publish lightly transformed (formatted, edited, structurally rearranged) editions of this work if you prominently link back to this original document, possibly warning that the version they are reading might be out of date.

Catch-all/alpha/beta/draft disclaimer

I make many bold assertions in this document, and sometimes I use words like usually, often, etc., that may seem to imply I’m working from a large dataset. Please understand that the protocol has been most heavily tested by me, with a very small additional number of people who are using the protocol either heavily or at least semi-consistently. More and more people are trying this thing out as it becomes more widely known. But, we don’t have a lot of data, and, when I make bold claims, I’m extrapolating from everything I know, which will at minimum be many, many things adjacent to the protocol but not necessarily derived from empirical use of the protocol by other people, and in a very small number of cases, even myself. But, for what it’s worth, I eat my own dog food as it were. The protocol has been my sole transformative practice for thousands of hours, and I’ve tried extensively to suss out all former prerequisites and to incorporate them into the practice. And I’m tracking some of the users very carefully. I currently believe other people besides myself can use this thing to take themselves all the way.


Please support this open access work:

[As of this version, now at 8 patrons and $101/month USD. Next round number $110; 9$ to go; 92% complete.]


Author web presence:

Canonical location of this document:

Alternative versions. Sometimes individuals publish lightly transformed versions of this document to facilitate engagement with the material while it is still in draft form. These versions may be out of date:

Past versions


…JD, __, __, __, __, __, __, H, A…

[I have to ask several of these people whether they want to be explicitly credited.]

Preamble (draft!)

  1. Remember, you’re probably going to die. Remember that the universe may experience heat death. Remember that, in some sense, death and heat death are in some sense just ideas and concepts.
  2. Remember that, while no one is obligated to give you or help you get these things, you deserve happiness, health, enjoyment, love, sex, family, and more.
  3. Remember, in the relevant sense, you are the sole and final arbiter of what’s true, good, and beautiful. Feel what you feel. Do what you do. And, again, I think Crowley got something right, here, in the relevant sense (and possibly other things, too; i just haven’t investigated): Do what thou wilt, that is the whole of the law. Love under will. (or something)
  4. […]
  5. […]
  6. If you are at risk from sequelae of high blood pressure, intracranial pressure, or intraocular pressure (e.g. stroke, dissection, glaucoma), then you must not engage with the practices below or you must engage with them with extreme caution. If you have spinal or cervical abnormalities that could lead to spinal cord or nerve root impingement, then you must not engage with the practices below or you must engage with them with extreme caution. If you have other musculoskeletal risks then you must be careful.
  7. Individuals residing in households with other residents below the age of eighteen or over the age of 65 should not engage in these practices after practice has been initiated, unless there is no one under the age of eighteen in the household and anyone over the age of 65 has consented to your doing these practices in residence after they’ve read this numbered list.
  8. Women who are pregnant or you might become pregnant before asymptoting in these practices (e.g. 2-10 years, depending) should not engage in these practices.
  9. If you are at risk for suicide, psychosis, or mania then you should engage with these practices with extreme caution.
  10. If you have metabolic or cardiovascular disease such that a prolonged, inadvertent sedentary lifestyle (no exercise because of musculoskeletal sequelae) would be dangerous, then you should engage with these practices with caution.
  11. If your immune system is under- or overactive, then you should engage with these practices with caution.
  12. If you have experience abuse, psychological trauma, physical trauma, etc., then you should engage with these practices with caution.
  13. If you engage with these practices then you must be aware that you could permanently ruin the rest of your life or die (sooner than you would otherwise). You must also be aware that the lives of people around you may be ruined or those people may die sooner as a result of your engaging these practices.
  14. […]

An exoteric doctrine (v0.2)

Objective and singular truth exists (and/or objective reality exists and objective truth corresponds to it).

Objective and singular goodness(/ethics/morality) exists.

The human mind is typically confused, uncertain, and ignorant. (Or, a typical person is…)

Nevertheless, we can know typically error-prone approximations of that objective truth and we can know/do approximations of that objective goodness.

Further, the human mind is asymptotically perfectible. That is, we can become better people in a practically unlimited way, all things being equal.

???There are more worse ways than better ways to interact with oneself and others.

In any moment you are the final arbiter of what’s true and good. You have to trust yourself while also being open to being wrong. This is hard but can get easier.

It’s possible to do more harm than good when trying or intending to do good and become better. (Also, you are the final arbiter of what’s better.)

Using systematic (albeit self-adapted) method is often or at least sometimes a good way to improve one’s approximations of truth and goodness. Stated alternatively, we can systematically seek to get the things we want and we can systematically come have better wants (want better things).

Some methods are better than others, depending on what you’re trying to do, such as knowing and doing better.

We want what we want until we want something else, and it’s ok or good to want what we want for as long as we want it.

Perhaps evil or malevolence is objective but things are only bad relative to your skill, power, and knowledge. Perfectibility (asymptotically) includes solving all your problems on your terms, in your words, until there is nothing left that is bad.

You might not feel good and safe all the time, but it’s good to want to feel good and safe, and it’s good to seek to stably feel good and safe or to feel good and safe as much as possible.

Without exception, and no matter how subtle the feeling, there’s always a valid sense in which, if it feels wrong it is wrong. [i.e. if X makes you feel wrong, then X is somehow wrong.] People often will systematically and relentlessly deny the relevant sense in order to try to immorally coerce and control you. Senses other than the relevant sense can be used to inappropriately destroy institutions. People trying to control you will try to convince you the former is the latter (among an unlimited number of other tactics that don’t refer to groups or institutions.) Of course, you could be mistaken about something or both could be happening. But that’s what the controlling people will do.

You might get hit by a bus or meteor or your cryo chamber might run out of geopolitics or something. But, it’s possible to have a good life, anyway, and it’s possible to impeccably work to reduce the chances of such bad things while having a good, complete, rich, full, life.

Most people will probably be happier striving for and maintaining a stable romantic pair-bond and having one or more kids.

Love properly labeled and defined is probably a uniquely important thing.

Some truths are exceptionless/universal and eternal or sempiternal or timeless or outside-of-time or something. With correct method, you can know those truths by making use of whatever experiences you’ve already had (because those truths will massively redundantly inhere in those experiences without exception.) Some truths and knowledge of correct/good/moral knowledge/behavior are contingent (or relative to, or contextually dependent on, this world and time and place) and, to obtain them, you’ll need to dispel ignorance, to have experiences, to learn. You’ll be wrong and bad a lot. Also, you are good.

Progress is often multidimensionally nonmonotonic.

These are just words. This is just your interpretation of these words. Are there even words? You can’t know anything for sure; and that can be ok, with application of method or just because. There are more precise and accurate and deeper and more correct ways ways to say all the above. More and more and more of everyone may come together to do good things that we couldn’t do alone. Sometimes, an edgy joke should go here. Let go…

Introduction; getting over the hump; text interpretation

There’s an ongoing project of collecting all the reasons why people bounce off of the document, plus corresponding supplementary information:

  1. The document does require text interpretation. Even if it was written in clean, grammatical prose, it would still need to be incrementally parsed and interpreted. It does need to be studied. Lengthy explanations would lose the “cutting at the joints,” in the document, where every word is included for a reason. Eventually, I do want there to be a softer entry. But that might be separate from the document itself. This does mean there are “startup costs” and initial cognitive overhead.

  2. The main practices do need to be learned incrementally. It’s not possible to just pick them up and start doing them. Even after one can “hold an entire practice in their head,” the doing of it will still evolve substantially over time. So, there is additional cognitive overhead and a learning curve or even learning cliff, here, too.

  3. The main practices might initially seem not like meditation. But, they do asymptote at something that superficially looks like noting practice and shamatha without support. But, this is approached in a bottom up way, as opposed to a top-down way. (As a longer discussion, I currently think canonical concentration practices as well as things like metta being used as a concentration practice, are ultimately counterproductive, because their top-down nature sends a person off sharply on a direction that hasn’t been properly error-checked. And, I currently believe a person will have to do a lot of backtracking, given my understanding and experience of how the mind works.)

  4. Some of the auxilliary/preliminary practices might seem suspiciously non-meditationy, like cognitive behavioral therapy or something. One of my goals was to combine the best of “western depth psychology” with the best of meditation. Lots of meditation practioners and teachers do have crushed or unresolved trauma and behavioral issues. The so-called “purifications” do a bunch of the work of western psychology, but they don’t go all the way, hence the somatic issues, sex scandals, and behavioral blindspots of lots of meditators. One can think of this practice as supercharging the purifications, making them much more comprehensive and thorough. At the same time, the practices do produce an experience of emptiness, and, asymptotically, nonduality. These practices go all the way to the very end, and then some. There is further discussion of this in the later section titled "but is it meditation? (a dialogue between J and Mark)"

  5. My current best estimate is that these practices, even taking into account learning time, achieve various “classical milestones” about an order of magnitude faster than traditional practices. I’m still working this out. And, I expect speed gains and payoffs continue to accrue cumulatively and compoundingly. We shall see. In any case, this does continue to be an investment of thousands of hours. And, some payoffs come late in the game, while some payoffs to occur steadily. And there are still risks to be worked out and improved upon.


A, a collaborator, says:

My 30 second version for a[n...] introduction is:

This document contains meditation instructions, and some things you may want to be aware of before starting or in the middle of a meditative journey.

Some instructions and signposts are (probably) necessary, as figuring it all out on ones own is a tall order. Still, there is a sense in which you will have to “figure it all out on your own,” anyway, instructions notwithstanding. Receiving any instructions causes problems, as people try to “do the instructions” instead of “do the thing.” This document contains one stab at a “minimum effective instruction set” — use as though “some assembly is required” where “some” means “this document and your interpretation are two ends of the most difficult game of telephone yet devised, and there’s no way it was written correctly or interpreted correctly on the first n tries.”

It starts by exploring in what way talking about “the end of the path” is coherent (or not). Then there are some notes on culture and other topics, and then the instructions and additional information are included after that.

Do the thing, and good luck.

Might replace "do the thing" with "handle all your concerns, bottom up" or [something like that].

("Telephone" or "the telephone game" or "Chinese whispers" is game where players whisper a message, from person to the next, until the last person finally says the final received message out loud, and the first person reports the original message. There is almost always a nearly inevitable (and humorous) difference between the first and last message, due to all sorts of possible reasons for successive transmission error.)


I'll finally add that this document aspires to be more and more radically complete, over time. It's already quite comprehensive, along maybe all necessary dimensions, but more and more detail and clarity (including cleaner prose and smoother on-ramps) could be added, for a long time. Having an extremely experienced teacher readily available will maybe always be a massive accelerant, but my ideal would be to completely obviate the need for a teacher--I'd like future people to be able to completely reconstruct the practice, and succeed at it, even one thousand years from now (2020), even if the living, person-to-person lineage gets broken, i.e. if everyone using this document dies. That would be sad and likely people would change a lot over one thousand years (cf. biotech and neurotech), but it's likely this material would still be valuable, indirectly or quite directly, just as it is, right now.

Goal (draft)

The goal of the practice is to have a good life, in the most broad and ordinary sense, on your terms, in your words, in your frame, or in no frame. That might look still, quiet, and intimate. That might look big and beautiful. (That might or might not include a good death.) That might look superficially normative and be quite nonnormative under the hood and in the cracks. Or that might quite normative in lots of ways. But the important thing is that it is good for and everyone you care about (which might be no one, everyone, etc.). It might end too soon or go on too long or who knows. In some sense you might fail: Maybe you or people you care about will get hit by a bus, a heart attack, a meteor, or a nuclear war. But the goal is to have a good (peaceful, interesting, exciting, fun, intimate, quiet, safe, stable, normal, extraordinary) life. That’s the point of all of this. (Asymptotically, nonmonotonically approaching self-perfection might be an interesting, fun, mediately traumatizing, opportunity-costly, incidental side effect.)

Part of having a good life is preparing and accounting for (the likely possibility of) death such that you actually have a good life. One can have a dispreference for death, while not fearing it, while competently and proactively avoiding it, while seamlessly having that be a part of everything else that is good.

One might have to give up everything in the pursuit of this goal, strangely, weirdly, even as lots of things stay superficially the same. In some ways getting everything you want will first cost you everything, will cost you your entire world, as you realize what you want is nothing like what you initially thought, that reality is nothing like what you initially thought, even though what you want appears superficially similar, in some ways, to what you previously wanted.

You get the good stuff back eventually, though.

“Better not to start. If you start, better to finish.”

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

“Before practice, the mountains were just mountains. During practice, the mountains were no longer mountains. Eventually, the mountains were just mountains again.”

Your perception, behavior, ontology, judgments, and preferences get refactored, with lots of mistakes made along the way. Thousands of hours. Lots of opportunity cost. Also lots of opportunity gain. All things being equal, with enough starting resources (financial, relationships) and grace.

End state (draft!)

The end state is arrived at asymptotically. There’s always room for improvement because the world keeps changing. The journey will often be nonmonotonic, too.

In any case, what it sort of looks like is coming to be intrinsically motivated to optimize self and world, seamlessly, without limit or exception, to care for everything into the infinite future, including yourself, all together, all at once. (This comes with something like “getting lost in the intrinsically interesting whole-person intricacies of other people.”)

Being this way, all the way down to the core of your being, sort of cleanly solves all your problems in the moment and in the limit. [“Infinity” is just a concept, etc., etc. Don’t take refuge in your interpretation of these words. Let it all go.]

Another way to express this is “true (global) total (maximum) positive sum with no negative externalities.”

Another way to express this is “embodying a perfectly unified, eternal, sempiternal, and exceptionless will that’s going after the most good and best thing for everybody and everything, including yourself, without compromise or exception, all at once.

One comes to see that there are no terrible, hard truths and no terrible, hard tradeoffs.

One comes to know deeply that, if something feels or seems wrong, no matter how subtle, still, small, and quiet, then something is wrong, somewhere, and it doesn’t have to be.

You have to feel and listen, eventually, ultimately, to each, every, and all still, small, and quiet voice:

“If you’re good to them, then they’ll become good you.”

All of the above is not “turiya” or “nonduality,” but it is compatible with that “stateless state.”

Progressive insight into emptiness unlocks the capacity for turiya and the capacity for all the above. And progress towards turiya is usually progress towards all the above, and vice versa. Using the practices in this document will steadily, albeit nonmonotonically, move you towards all of this. You’ll incidentally get all the meditation-y goodness, too, without having to do anything special.

You will get all the meditation-y goodness, in addition to everything else (which I suspect was the goal of many non-modern-Buddhist systems).

You’ll be aiming at and asymptotically, nonmonotonically arriving at “mastery”/“perfection”/“flawlessness”.

There’s a final, additional piece which completes of all of this, that’s something like “proactive recursive bootstrapping,” progressively structuring self and world to learn about self and world more and more efficiently and effectively.

Again, working with the practices in this document are intended to efficiently take you towards everything above.

A failure mode is trying to smash yourself into being what you think all the above must be like, by trying to directly aim at preconceived notions. If you don’t do all this “bottom up,” then you’ll tie yourself in knots.

The better thing to do is to go after what you want, systematically and iteratively resolving or correcting internal conflict and contradiction and error (with respect to goodness, truth, will, desire, etc., etc., etc.) along the way, and you’ll likely eventually find yourself in the neighborhood of something like what’s described, here. It will eventually be unified and elegant and a simplicity on the far side of complexity and not overwhelming or scattering or impossible. That’s what solving the puzzle box of the mind does. And it will be fun, meaningful, interesting, equanimous, captivating, loving, intimate, exciting, erotic, whatever.

Remember, in the relevant sense, you are the sole and final arbiter of what’s true, good, and beautiful. Feel what you feel. Do what you do. And, again, I think Crowley got something right, here, in the relevant sense (and possibly other things, too; i just haven’t investigated):

Do what thou wilt, that is the whole of the law. Love under will. (or something)

A key insight: If you know you’re doing the absolute best you can at all times in each moment, taking into account all future times and all possible futures deep down in your bones, then you just relax and let go, and it feels good.

Related: You can stop checking, compensating, reminding, self-correcting, etc., if you know both that you’re up to date and also that you’ll responsively and seamlessly update in the presence of new information.

The “good for everyone all at once thing” is equivalent to solving all of your problems.

[For everything above, don’t take refuge in your interpretation of these words, or, if you do, hold it lightly. Let it all go. Let it all go to get the real thing back, later, in the right way, beyond your current conception. This is all just words. The whole document is just words. You must find your own truth or lack thereof, meaning or meaninglessness.]

Said one more time, the goal and the end-state (cf. wisdom, mastery, compassion, love, altruism):

The goal is to arrange self, life, and the entire world so that the guiltless seeking of joy (fun, excitement, interest, intimacy) and the expression/exemplification of love/compassion is safe, good, constructive and unconflicting.

And then you arrive at intrinsically wholehearted, heartfelt, affinity-feeling, pleasurable and rewarding and satisfying [and non-naive, competent, strategic and error-correcting] altruism/compassion/love [that truly expects no personal gain in return and only hopes for something truly good and experientially good for the other person] that’s romantic, paternal, maternal, egalitarian, platonic, and globally inclusive, that nevertheless delivers equal or greater personal safety/fulfillment/everything than selfish[ly-oriented] planning/intention/behavior. [You may find that there’s nothing that you can securely or permanently or stably hold onto for yourself, anyway, that there even is anything to hold onto, anyway.]

There is no end-state, though. Eventually you perhaps become the practice and it just goes by itself, in activity and rest/alone-time, but then you keep going, improving, learning, learning how to learn, proactively learning, proactively living, living your life, etc.

No fixed conceptualized goal or end state part one ("goodness")

[Originally published as: "Post-conceptual meta-goodness and changing in the deepest of ways"]

[last accessed: 20200824]

So, what’s good? Like really actually good, not clunky blocky stilted cringy good?

Or we could say, what do you desire that you endorse desiring?

Or we could say, what are you always already in motion trying to get, whether you realize or it not, whether you’re reflectively thinking about it or not?

There will be maybe lots of things, probably one or more things is in the intimacy or connection space, partially involving in-real-life interaction or perhaps partially involving, say, creative expression. And then there will probably be things involving safety and achievement, including stuff that involves feelings of exhilaration or excitement or deep satisfaction or meaning.

Importantly, there will be ways in which all of this is deeply personal and idiosyncratic. For you, it’s not just some abstract “intimacy” that is good or feels good, but your highly personal, highly specific version, what you might even call “the real thing.” And the same goes for everything else you’re trying to do, be, have, achieve, etc.

That is, some or even much of what’s happening around us or will happen to us, we have no preference about, but for some things, we have exquisitely precise preferences, perhaps especially for care and safety, mutual understanding, and sexuality.

Sometimes we want really, really specific things, and there is no substitute.

Perhaps the whole point of everything is that we create a world where everyone can pursue their personal desires and goals.

It’s all fun and games when people’s desires and goals are complementary and compatible.

And/but there’s another way of looking at desires, goals, and goodness.

Sometimes desires and goals can be both problematic and fixed.

For example, you want a really, really, really, really specific intimacy thing or sex thing or achievement thing, and sometimes other things are so good or more important that you can set that thing aside, but some things, for whatever reason, are so important that you can’t.

You can’t set it aside, even though, for example, you’re having trouble finding someone complementary to do it with or arranging your life to be able to do it.

I think for some people, the reason their relationships keep failing or life situations keep failing is because of extreme specificity in wants/needs/desires that are ill-suited to present, contingent circumstances. (There are of course many other reasons.)

So, when faced with extreme specificity, one might strive even more mightily to find the right person or to arrange their life in a particular way. Tremendous collateral and direct good can come from this and also agony. One might also finally resign on getting a particular thing. There can be peace and dignity in this and also agony.

With tools like meditation, there is an additional option which is to change ones deepest wants/needs/preferences. Some preferences can be changed with relatively superficial introspection or exposure to new environments or people. Other preferences can “go all the way to the bottom” and seem immovable, even if they cause tremendous distress. And these sorts of things can be a reason to invest in hundreds or even thousands of hours or meditation, even with its risk and opportunity cost.

If you decide to meditate to change deep things about yourself, that can take months or years, and patience and forebearance are assets here.

But, I’m definitely not saying “crush your desires.” Nor am I saying indiscriminately indulge them, though I’m way more on that side. Your desires are your desires until and unless they’re not.

Desire and perceived goodness aren’t arbitrary even if there’s tremendous idiosyncratic contingency in them and nor do they change arbitrarily.

Whatever desires you’ve got, whatever is good as far as you experience and can tell, it’s desirous and good until and unless it isn’t.

So let’s say you’re not crushing or smashing yourself, and little by little things start to change, even while some things are the same as they ever were. And eventually something deeper starts to change, but you can’t even let yourself imagine that this even deeper and more problematic thing will change. And then that finally does too…

So at first one is sort of trying to solve problems and achieve goals (and ignore them and resign on them).

And then with meditation (and therapy and journaling) one realizes that, at least sometimes, and then more and more, it can be possible to not just solve problems but also “dissolve” many problems and not just achieve goals but also to replace goals with better goals.

So there’s this meta-dimension that starts to come into focus. This perhaps whole new degree of freedom with which to relate to self and world.

And, eventually, as you get more and more of a taste of this moving through the contigency of desire/problem/goal space, you might start to ask what is even good anyway?

So much of what you thought was good, that felt immovably intrinsically desirable or good, turned out to be more contingent and more movable than you thought. (Again, you never have to give anything up in any deep way until it’s safe, natural, and effortless to do so. And until then it’s yours and if it’s good it’s good. And if it would hurt other people you then be careful or don’t do it unless there’s a way to make it safe for them.)

So then is there a higher good or more unconditional good? Or, like, what’s the goodness beneath the goodness? Or, maybe better, what are the dynamics of veridical goodness? As language and ontology and concepts are not arbitrary but loosen and start to move… And what’s good or what things are good for or what leads to what starts to move…

Or how does one even plan and live when what’s good is slowly and steadily changing, now?

Over time one starts to get a taste of the unconditional and one starts to get a taste of the laws that govern the dynamics of goodness. (Kant, by the way, I think says that the only instrinsically good thing is the good will.)

And then one can start to live in harmony with one’s own trajectory of self-transformation, in the knowledge that one’s ontology/concepts and one’s evaluation of that ontology or those concepts, one’s assignation of good and bad, is fluid. Not arbitrary, but fluid. And so there becomes sort of a goodness behind the goodness

This goodness might be called post-conceptual meta-goodness, or the goodness that is reflectively aware of its own construction, or reflective participation in the good will, or resting in (ever more) unconditional goodness or enlightened goodness.

To be sure, I personally am blindsided all the time by being arrogant, horrible, destructive, belligerent, stonewalling, creepy, sketchy, abusive, cowardly, selfish, ignorant, impulsive, perfunctory, hateful, feuding, controlling—in all sorts of subtle ways and also just blatantly obvious ways. It’s just right there. Put me in a wide range of unfortunate circumstances (i.e. life) and I’m just a jerk or worse. If I’m lucky people will tell me; if I’m unlucky they won’t or I’ll think I’m being gaslit.

And/but, also, there’s this call towards goodness and this discipline of goodness. Actual-oh-fuck-I-was-wrong-again-and-I-hurt-someone goodness. Actual-wait-this-goodness-isn’t-good-oh-I-misconceptualized-goodness-again goodness. Actual-flexibly-stably-intrinsically-motivating-fluid-extreme-problem-solving-problem-dissolving-ability goodness. Goodness that frees you, goodness that unleashes you, goodness that empowers you. Goodness that supports you in fitting yourself to the world without diminishment.

A bunch of stuff in the list below is more than a glimpse, now, more than a taste. Stable things somewhere or overtly if I think to look…ātā
(And I would like to note that my life is currently all kinds of a mess.)

And it’s kind of weird and exciting that you go through a few rounds of atman dissolving into brahman (what?!), a few rounds of making deeper contact with the source (what?!), and there’s a sense in which you are not you, that was all a misconceptualization (what?!). (I still believe in neurons and forces and fields.) And also you feel like you had to give up everything, and I mean everything, at least once, to get a bunch of it back again.

And also you feel pretty normal. And the world is pretty normal, albeit you’re not confusing the map with the territory, or at least hugely less so.

And also, noting the possibility of getting hit by a bus or a meteor or cancer, you feel like this is barely even just the beginning.

And that’s exciting.

Appendix for this section:

Is this good for me?
Is this good for you?
Is this good for everyone?
Is this good for me and you and everyone?
How do I know?

See also:

No fixed conceptualized goal or end state part two ("better")

[Originally published as "better".]

[Last accessed: 20200824]

Sometimes, I sort of want to throw in the garbage concepts like arhatship and other milestones. I’d just like to replace it with the concept “better.” I like “better” because it doesn’t assume any particular goal. There’s just better than the last thing. (The reason I use “good” so much in the protocol document and not “better” or even “best” is for local methodological, pedagogical, and philosophical reasons: better can sometimes be problematic for local, in the trenches wayfinding. And best is pedagogically misleading and philosophically twisty.)


I like better not only because it doesn’t assume any particular goal, and one could clarify that as “no particular fixed goal.” Better doesn’t make a thing out of an end state; it doesn’t necessary connote, assume, or imply an end state at all.

It also doesn’t assume sort of “top-down directionality” or “top-down wayfinding.”

To do better, to go in the direction of better, you just need to take one little step in some better direction.

Ah, but that’s not exactly right.


There is another piece that needs to be added to “better” and that’s “nonmonotonicity.” That is, sometimes, to get to something better, sometimes things need to temporarily get worse. That dip is nonmonotonicity. (Monotonicity [as opposed to nonmonotonicity] is never going down [nor sideways??], only going up, but sometimes there’s going up slower, sometimes there’s going up faster.)


Ok, so with “better” and “nonmonotonicity,” there’s still directions/directionality, there’s still wayfinding, in terms of (a) what to do next, and so (b) where to [hopefully or experimentally] go next, for (c) to eventually get somewhere (maybe unknown). And that somewhere, the sort of intuitive/implicit/inexplicit/felt planning horizon gets longer and longer, farther and farther out, the more skilled and experienced one gets; one navigates deeper and longer nonmonotonicity, as sometimes needed, over time.

And there’s always a next somewhere, and the “final” (not final) somewhere (no fixed somewhere) is always over the horizon. And sometimes one needs to massively backtrack, and that’s ok. There’s time. It’s built in.


And, so, you can just keep going. States, stages, gateless gates, stateless states, unconceptualizable states, pristine states (along some dimensions)—it can be very helpful to have and make maps and milestones. But, traditions recognize that, say, “deconditioning” continues after arhatship. The path always just continues.

You can just keep going—better and better.

Above, I haven’t talked about how all this is sort of “multidimensional.” Things can be multidimensionally getting nonmonotonically better (and so also worse) at the same time, along a vast number of dimensions. There’s local and large-scale tradeoffs, at first. But the sort of “average” of the whole thing keeps getting better and better. And sometimes there’s big dips, even “late stage” big dips. But some biggest dips eventually just never happen ever again.

And eventually one starts exploring something like globality, optimizing the whole thing all at once (via mostly little, local operations), while, challengingly, somehow, everything is mediately/indirectly or immediately/directly connected to everything else. Things deconvolve and de-intertwingle over time, what’s weakly separable becomes weakly separate, gloriously non-interacting, to some degree, and to greater and greater degrees, when it wouldn’t be helpful if those things interacted, but it’s still all connected, somehow. It’s the ultimate puzzle, in part because the final goal is over the horizon and one is learning (and unlearning) better and better goals over time until the idea of a goal itself gets replaced with something better, too.


You can just keep going and going. Eventually meditation blurs and blends with life, being lost in life is the same as being in the meditative state, effortless, costless, engaged, nothing to maintain; it’s just what you are. You get to keep all your tools, they become you, they are you, and also you get to just live, to get lost in life, you can just let go, all the way down, and do what you want because what you want is the right thing to do. (Really right—wellbeing, self-aligned, nonartificial…)

If you have the right method, and by method I mean, sure, some invariances, of course, but also something creative, nonstereotyped, fine-grain, innovative, that nevertheless-and-in-any-case can navigate, can travel, in straight lines or along any n-dimensional line, and you just just keep going and going.

Again, you can just keep going and going, better and better.

Meditation is concrete problem solving

full title:

meditation is concrete problem solving, capable of maximal indirectness/obliquity (under/modulo emptiness/nebulosity and under Buddha-nature)

compare with:

cf./vs. The goal of buddhism/enlightenment/etc. is happiness independent of conditions.

originally published as:

happiness dependent on exquisitely and flexibly handling your shit

original location: (Last accessed: 2020-09-05)


It’s good that morality, horizontal progress, etc., are still emphasized in contemporary, secular meditation systems. I think this is important because part of my take is that meditation is implicit, concrete problem solving. And, explicit morality can bootstrap elegant and broadly applicable solutions to life’s problems. (“Becoming intrinsically good all the way down is the ultimate life hack.”)

But, I can’t help but feel that Ingram’s morality and Shinzen’s horizontal progress are really bolted on, no matter how much they’re verbally or rhetorically emphasized. I know Ingram devotes even more time to morality in MCTB2.

My straw of the situation is something like, “Morality is really important, but also it’s really complicated. Anyway, so, meditate, on the cushion, and just kind of proactively do your best, off the cushion. And, meditation is supposed to help. And, by the way, also, meditation doesn’t help at all.”

That’s a bit of a straw/mischaracterization. But, what???

Bolted on. (Or, I’m being impatient and uncharitable with their teachings.)

In contrast, my take is something like all the meditative attainments or experiences or stateless states are incidental to the point of the whole thing.

And, gesturing vaguely, the point of the whole might be something like solving all your problems; pursuing the good; solving homeostasis for all possible futures; having lots of babies; becoming an ever-more-efficient, far-from-equilibriium entropic dissipator, pursuing interest and intimacy, having a good life, etc.

My point is that there will be something the human bodymind is (a) “trying” to do, which (b) can be modeled as agentic telos, anthropomorphized or not, which (c) presumably has to perfectly hew to mechanistic, spontaneous causality under exceptionaless physical law (unified multiversal quantum gravity or whatever we figure out in 100-500 years), which (d) will feel a particular way from the inside, possibly really good or “satisfying,” or something.

(The working assumption, here, is that what the human bodymind is “trying” to do, if fully actualized, will look god’s-eye-view rational and feel good from the inside.)

So, a human is system is bootstrap-learning the rules of the system, as well as doing a halting-problem-blind search of the goal landscape, while traveling the landscape, all at the same time.

In other words, the system doesn’t know what’s good for it, in advance, or how to get it. It will not be properly conceived/embodied. But, grace, Buddha, eros, entropic dissipation can contingently get people headed in the right direction, nonmonotonically, faster and faster (e.g., someone picks up a book about “Zen” meditation or Internal Family Systems therapy).

And that will involve rearranging the bodymind as well as rearranging the environment (up to and including the entire planet and beyond). And rearranging the environment, all things being equal, is relatively downstream of rearranging the bodymind. So, meditation.

So, this is sort of vague and poetic, but meditation isn’t some graft of state training plus following some moral rules to transcend those rules–

Meditation is solving the problem of optimal behavior (and procreation) under bounded rationality in an uncertain world. And, the better solutions you have to safety and sex (coordination, intimacy, health, biomedical engineering, space travel) the better you feel.

The ironic thing is that it’s not about happiness independent of conditions. WRONG!

It’s happiness because you’ve flexibly and exquisitely handled your shit. This is the whole of the path.

Ok, I lied, it’s sort of both, because of long-run-anti-wireheading indirect realism.

One could imagine a system having a “belief” about whether or not it will get (or whether or not it already has) “what it wants.” The experiences that system has, over time, shape the belief and the want/preference. (The system has a little bit of hardwiring, some initial conditions plus an environment, and then one just lets it run. The system doesn’t have a model of any of this when it starts.)

And so let’s say, at any given time, the system is only in four subjective states:

  1. DOOM/NOT GOING TO GET WHAT I WANT (subjectively not going to get what it wants, though it objectively keeps doing its best, anyway)
  2. DEFINITELY GOING TO GET WHAT I WANT (subjectively feels good, objectively actually uncertain)
  3. NOT SURE IF GOING TO GET WHAT I WANT, DON’T BELIEVE I’M DOING MY BEST (“self conflict”; subjectively feels bad, objectively actually uncertain)

Anyway, I think those four states are roughly how people work. If the bodymind believes it’s doing its best, wholeheartedly, all the way down, self-consistently, to achieve stable godhood, infinite love-sex, and healthful immportality free of heat death, or if the bodymind believes in the certain inevitability of eventual stable godhood, infinite love-sex, and healthful immortality free of heat death, or if the bodymind is presently experiencing stable godhood, infinite love-sex, and healthful immortality free of heat death–all of those feel theoretically, in principle, exactly just as good (really good), though the system can still, just fine, discriminate between which of these obtain at any particular time. Anyway, that’s the theory.

So, again, I think meditation is actually just concrete problem solving that involves picking the correct, initially unknown problem. (Explicit, lineage-transmissible formulations of the problem+solution only go so far, as we see out in the world. One has to wayfind to an ever-more-correct internal representation/embodiment to make progress.)

All the emptiness and nondual phenomenology are still a thing, all the different parts of the elephant, including why traditional systems emphasize morality, compassion, etc. (Heartfelt compassion, all things being long-run equa(!)l, is a really good way to achieve babies and godhood, or whatever.)

But morality doesn’t need to be bolted on. (Straw?)

Meditation can be concrete planning, intellectual upgrades, morality training, epistemic training, strategic upgrading that will ingest whatever college textbooks and life experiences the meditator learns to ever-more-optimally seek out. (Of course, all this will look more like watching the breath or whatever than studying for a test. We initially think it’s the latter because the normative perpetuation of culture is very wrong about how the bodymind works and most everybody is “stuck in their heads.” Still, “watching the breath,” or whatever, is also pretty wrong, even though it’s in the right direction.)

So, I think there’s just “development,” of a single thing (“bodymind”), not vertical and horizontal, where descriptive meditative phenomenology can be very useful. But, in any case, meditation is not general-purpose strength-training (for which the fruits are applied off the cushion); meditation, in fact, can be “direct” puzzle-solving and “direct” concrete upgrading (albeit weird and counterintuitive and up-front costly and risky, otherwise we’d all already be Einstein-Ghandi-Musk-meditators). I put “direct” in quotes because in one sense it’s direct and in another sense it’s nonmonotonic and oblique (the details are outside the scope of this rant).

To wrap up, to be fair, sophisticated assessors of meditative progress will pay less attention to phenomenology and more attention to (a) interpersonal sophistication (which, depending on niche, might look like impeccably kind, authentically empathetic, local-and-world-scale-win-win-win collaborative reliability) and (b) relative degree of winning at life (which will look different, depending on whether the person started out abused and poverty-stricken versus a childhood of complex and interesting experiences and wealthy, kind, empathetic, intelligent parents). And, from the inside, maybe one might ask, do I experience wellbeing, and do I have a good life, and are those the same thing?

Wellbeing and sacrifice

originally published as:

good now good later wellbeing suffering paradox

original location: (Last accessed: 2020-09-05)


This should be cleaned up and adapted, in a bunch of ways, to be more appropriate for this location in the document.


All things being equal, human beings are ridiculously ANTI-wireheading.

“I can’t feel ok, now. My life is shit, or falling apart, and/or my life has no meaning or purpose.”

We balk at seeming tradeoffs between something like “feeling good, now” and “good later.” The latter is something like the OPPOSITE of, “a tiger is behind that tree; and/or I’m going to get fired from my job and end up homeless; and/or the physical laws and the universal constants of this universe mean that human activity is a zero-sum game, and I’ll never be safe unless I destroy myself trying to be safe and not even then.”

So, we’ll sacrifice “feeling good, now” for “good later,” if we feel like we have to, to the point of sort coming to seemingly believe that “feeling good, now” is useless, pointless, or a dangerous distraction.

But there’s the weird thing where our physical body and mind, right here and now, is what enables the pursuit of the “good later.” Bodily homeostasis is sort of the attractor from which straying too far is disastrous.

Some people intuitively or intellectually recognize the importance of homeostasis or bodily health, while also feeling that tension of “feeling good, now” versus “good later.” And, they push homeostasis as far as they can, sacrificing sleep, using stimulants, eating problematic convenience foods, or even explicitly banking on future advances in healthcare to repair damage done now.

Some people aren’t thinking about health or homeostasis at all, and they come at it from “the other side” (granting that interoceptive wellbeing informs on the status of homeostasis). They’ve generalized to the point that “feeling good is bad,” and they strategically avoid feeling good as such: “I’m going to AVOID feeling good, because feeling good, in spirit or actuality, is the same as twenty hours straight of videogames and total loss of momentum and no progress on this work project.”

Some people go so far as to confusedly think that “good later” is the only “actual good,” some distant, improper reification which demands great sacrifices.

I want to invent a new word, “teleohomeostasis.” We don’t really need a new word, because people know that homeostasis can involve future-oriented and goal-oriented cognition and behavior. (And “telos” can be naturalized in various ways in a mechanistic universe.) See Derek Denton, Terrence Deacon, Karl Friston, Robert Rosen, Anatol Feldman, Alicia Juarrero, etc.

But, I want a new word because “diachronic is synchronic” (as the above authors say or allude to in various ways):

Any system’s “representation” of the future is somehow encoded or latent in its present structure.

Depending on how that “representation” interacts with “felt wellbeing,” there ideally shouldn’t be a felt paradox between “good now” and “good later;” there shouldn’t be a paradoxical dissonance or a paradoxical suffering.

Maybe this paradoxical suffering is just our evolved, hardwired human nature, until we start messing with it, with nth-generation CRISPR and Neuralink.

But there are these weird hints that maybe it’s not hardwired at all. We “doth protest too much,” maybe, in that ANTI-wireheading of, “I don’t want JUST/MERELY FEEL GOOD (unless maybe I’m transiently utterly dysregulated and desperate and despairing); I want things to ACTUALLY BE GOOD.”

And when things tick towards being ACTUALLY GOOD, our FEELING GOOD is often only a few hundred milliseconds behind. (Sometimes it’s a slow dawning.) And note again that interoceptive feeling/wellbeing is intimately tied to (teleo)homeostasis. Hmm.

(Note that that “tick towards actually being good” can be because you realized a problem wasn’t actually a problem, and so was DISSOLVED (from inference on prior data or new incoming information) or you figured out a clean solution (or were handed one), and so was SOLVED (from chewing on available solution pieces/capacities, or friend/family/ally/deus ex machina). Both SOLVE and DISSOLVE will work, importantly.)

So, anyway, there’s both this seeming paradox between feeling good and having things be good. And, also, there are these strange links between things being actually good (or getting better) and feeling good.

I’m going to state some principles, now, mostly without justification, which resolve this paradox. I’m partly not giving justification because I’m still working out some palatable/credible/true/”true” reasoning. And I’m partly not giving justification because these principles are self-discovered in meditation. Stay tuned for perhaps more details in future blog posts.

(1) Suffering is not a hardwired, fundamental motivator. It’s actually a stopgap, emergent motivator. There’s no (intrinsic) suffering “at the bottom.”

(2) Peak wellbeing is not only compatible with peak performance, peak vigilance, and peak contingency planning, but peak wellbeing is coreferential(?), coextensive(?), perfectly-co-something with peak performance, peak vigilance, and peak contingency planning.

wellbeing/well-being ~= the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. (google)

(3.1) The Human Handledness is Already Success Principle (Human HAS Princple or just “HAS” Principle):

(handled ~= stably controlled, managed, dealt with)

In terms of felt wellbeing, the bodymind doesn’t differentiate between:

(3.1a) “already/currently have stably got it”

(3.1b) “going to definitely stably get it”

(3.1c) “utterly self-believed utterly already perfectly DOING MY BEST to get it, given truly all that is known, that accounts for literally the whole universe, everything, up to true-event-horizon-bleeding-edge-of-disclosure of previously-genuine-unknown-unknowns”

(3.2) Put another way, if the bodymind believes it’s acting on the best plan to get something (everything), where “best” includes fully error-checked and fully meta-error-checked, this already feels like total success (with no wire-heading-flavored guilt/dissonance).

(3.3) One elaboration is that the hardest most bleak situations can potentially feel like a (seemingly paradoxical, if one hasn’t experienced it) “real-stakes-vacation-adventure.”

Something like the HAS principle can maybe be used to explain some things (though plenty of objections could be raised, and additional pieces would be needed to make it airtight):

  1. People put themselves in danger, like free-climbing, to incline towards artificially actualizing the HAS principle. (One would need to be much more precise and elaborated about my anti-wire-heading statements above, to nail something, in here, with respect to potentially outside-view-pathological environmental simplifications and stakes-raising.) And/or, “best plan” can be clarified to explicitly include self-ignorance and mental contingencies under personal “unknown unknowns.”)

  2. Valued stories maybe exemplify the actualized HAS principle. A protagonist-environment fit that, nearing the climax, narrows down to an utterly clear best plan and glory, whether success or failure (though success is preferred).

So self-discovering and self-aligning with the principles above, and I’ve said things like this a bunch of times, is like a circa 10,000-hour Tower-of-Hanoi, constrained-evolving-state-space problem, involving arranging and rearranging millions of Tetris tetraminoes and LEGO bricks the size of quarks, or whatever.

(I’m not done with all this, and “done” probably fluctuates because one keeps acquiring new capacities (which raise the bar for what the “best plan” is), identifying new challenges/unhandledness via those new capacities (which also raises the bar), and also previously-truly-unknown-unknowns [relative to one’s local knowledge and all meta-meta-proactiveness] keep disclosing from the other side of the “event horizon.” But, take this blog post for what it’s worth!)

So like the only shitty things, as I’ve said before, are that meditation is a privilege and luxury that requires some minimum amount of resources (some combination of time, money, food, shelter, relationships). And, the journey can be pretty terrible and seem like it’s taken everything from you, to the point of hopelessness, despair, and confusedly impulsive and risky/destrucive behavior. And there are physical health risks, too. And things feel sometimes/often hard and sad in the meantime; life is hard and sometimes/often sad. And, it’s worth acknowledging, as always, as an aside, that not everyone wants to or “should want” to meditate–life is pretty good for a lot of people, and/or they’re doing the right thing for them that might not look like meditation.

Anyway, we humans have a low-dimensional projection/representation of literally the entire universe, the entire Kosmos, inside of us. And meditators go over that with a fine-toothed comb, anyway. So let’s make meditation more accessible as part of that error-checked and meta-error-checked WORLD-WIDE-HUMAN-COLLECTIVE best plan, not to mention world peace; post-scarcity technological and health/longevity miracles; humane, millenia-long moon-shots, light-cone shots; and like VR Netflix or something.

Other practices (draft)

If you have the time and money, I don’t know, maybe find a good therapist (one in 1000-10,000), go get therapy or psychoanalysis.

If your friends are into interesting practices, go explore with them.

Everything can be integrated. Live your life, have all the experiences (as makes sense), read all the books. Learn all the options and the degrees of freedom. The practices in this document are intended to both be load-bearing and to fill in the cracks when something better isn’t available.

There’s some narrow sense in which these practices can “do it all,” get someone all the meditation-y goodness, heal trauma, alter preferences and behavior, increase wisdom, increase moral intelligence. These practices are ideally an absolute bootstrapping foundation that can fill in any missing cracks. It can be worth it to clocks thousands and thousands and thousands of hours on these practices alone. It can be worth it to be narrowly hardcore with these practices.


Use everything. Use all of it. There’s better and worse, and choices matter, but, ultimately, late-stage, end-game, there’s no relevant distinction these practices, any other practices, and life itself.

Lots of solo time is needed, and sometimes solo time is the only thing available, but someone who’s having a rich variety of experiences with a rich variety of compassionate, intelligent, interesting people will progress (possibly) faster (and possibly more safely), all things being equal.

Culture and community


I: Introduction

If you start doing work on yourself, you’ll become more sensitive to a lot of things. And that sensitivity, initially, can make you more vulnerable to bad things than you’d otherwise be. That sensitivity can also make you become a more dangerous or harmful person to be around, initially. Over time, asymptotically, nonmonotonically, what you were vulnerable to, what used to influence you or cause disendorsed changes to you, becomes just information. And this information can be used to enhance safety for self and others. And your sensitivity and responsiveness, from ongoing meditation, and the knowledge that’s easier to acquire because of that sensitivity and responsiveness, can make you safer and safer for other people.

Additionally, you may more often find yourself in communities of practice, as you explore things like meditation, energy work, shamanism, or whatever. Communities of practice sometimes have coercive things “in the air,” and sometimes communities of practice contain, or have adjacent, “dark wizards,” and sometimes they are created, run, influenced, or ruled by “cult leaders.”

Reading the sections below may help to minimize risks to self and others, in relation and in community.

II: A brief layer model of mind, personality, groups, and (global) culture

Consider the mind to be made up of a large number of parallel (information) flows, or pipes, or tubes.

Countless numbers of these tubes all happening, all at once, is you.

Sensory information goes in one end of a tube (sensation) and immune system, hormonal, glandular, smooth muscle, and skeletal muscle activity goes out the other end of a tube (actuation).

Tubes can be short and long.

A short tube goes from input to output, sensation to actuation, in a small number of milliseconds.

A long tube goes from input to output, sensation to actuation, taking hundreds of milliseconds.

In addition to normal input (sensory information; sensation), some tubes can incorporate information from other tubes prior to termination (actuation). And, in addition to normal termination (skeletal muscle, etc.; actuation), some tubes pass information to other tubes. Information transfer happens at junctions. [Note that this theory doesn’t have any “fully internal tubes” or tubes that are “sensation+internal” or “internal+actuation.” A future theory might need to allow for this.]

When tubes pass information to other tubes, (internal) loops/cycles can form.

There is a shortest possible length of tube.

There is a shortest possible length of loop.

Below a particular tube length, there can’t be any loops.

Sensation alters tube lengths and junctures. (And actuation influences sensation.)

Some tubes pass through awareness. These are awareness tubes. If those tubes happen to have junctures with other tubes, then we can experience the sensations passing through those other tubes. (And, we can participate in our actuations via external loops.)

Tubes that happen to have junctures with awareness tubes are called junctured awareness tubes. Some tube lengths and junctures can only be modified or created when the relevant tubes are currently junctured awareness tubes.

When junctured awareness tubes are very short and contain no loops, then there is no self-experience, and “in the seeing there is just the seen,” “in the hearing there is just the heard,” “in the feeling there is just the felt,” “in the doing, just doing,” etc. There is just “what it feels like.”

When there are loops in or proximal to junctured awareness tubes then there is self-experience. There is, partially, “what it feels like to be you.”

Countless tubes at any given time are junctured awareness tubes, but most tubes at any given time are not junctured awareness tubes.

When loops are minimized there cannot be contention or compensation.

When loops are minimized there cannot be improperly reified concepts.

A state of minimal loops is primordial or natural (though not necessarily ordinary).

The minimization of loops correlates with but does not guarantee constructive, good behavior. The minimization of loops correlates with but does not guarantee the absence of destructive, bad, unskillful, and evil behavior.

Contention can cause ill-health, accelerated aging, excessive actuation, and suffering.

Contention in junctured awareness tubes is experienced as logical contradiction and (sometimes extremely subtle) muscle tension.

Compensation can be locally elegant but is globally inelegant.

If someone has a problem, a loopless solution to that problem will not have any compensation. A non-loopless solution will have compensation. Compensatory solutions are much easier to find than loopless solutions. Loopless solutions are minimally costly in the limit. Compensatory solutions are locally costly. The greater the accumulated cost, the harder it is to find additional solutions. The lower the accumulated cost, the easier it is to find additional solutions, though the solution-finding process may still be lengthy.

An example of compensation is “I’m doing X which is bad but if I also do Y then it will cancel the bad effects of X.”

Compensation is usually not perfect and so begets further compensation. An example of this is “I’m doing Y to compensate for X but Y creates a further problem Z so I must do R to compensate for Z but R also has a problem…”

Compensation is fractally self-similar. That is, micro-compensation produces larger-scale patterns of compensation. Examples of larger-scale patterns are tics, neuroses, hangups, blindspots, personality disorders, etc.

Compensation can produce occlusion. Occlusion is when tubes are not and cannot easily or quickly become junctured awareness tubes.

Large-scale compensation and occlusion produces personality layers. If experience happens too quickly, too surprisingly, or too traumatically than personality layers are more likely to form.

So, someone can have childhood confusions or uncertainties or inabilities and/or (by defintion unhealed) hurts and traumas, and, on top of those, have adult-style regulation. (That adult-style regulation will be crippled in many ways because of the excessive cost of compensation. That person might read lots of books on e.g. relationships, but, without delayering, their relating might remain laborious and “unnatural.”)

Because of mimesis, love, power, and technology, compensation and layering can extend to groups, cultures, and society. There are global-scale cultural layers, in part produced through famine, colonization, war, etc., as well as locally adaptive but globally maladaptive traditions of child-rearing, etc.

Individual and group practice can de-layer and de-compensate, solving problems without the use of compensation, until individuals, and even communities, or larger, are relatively natural. Again, compensation is necessary and adaptive. And naturalization only guarantees a subset of good things, with opportunity costs. It is only better, all (other) things being equal.

III: The blooming, buzzing confusion

Layering and occlusion can make it very hard to turn tubes into junctured awareness tubes. But, sensation and actuation, the inputs and outputs of tubes can’t be blocked. Sensation is always happening for all of a person’s tubes, at every layer. And actuation is always happening at the termination of every tube.

If an adult has childhood confusions or uncertainties or inabilities and/or (by defintion unhealed) hurts and traumas in their system, then this can be problematic because that childhood self can be triggered. And then that person’s behavior, in a particular situation, will have behaviors reminiscient of childhood, which can be inappropriate, maladaptive, or dangerous to relationships or livelihood. So this must be carefully managed.

A person manages always-triggerable lower layers by reducing the scope of their lives (never entering particular situations), creating controlled situations (only entering situations that they themselves have carefully prearranged), managing attention in situations (carefully using actuation to manage the sensation stream), or arranging temporary compensatory sinks (teeth-gritting, white-knuckling, stomach-clenching, etc.). [An alternative, of course, if resources are available, is to take the time to naturalize layer after layer, to find noncompensatory solutions and thereby widening the scope of life.]

A person will have learned to manage some of their lower layers. But, typically, many layers (and “pockets”) will not be well-managed. A further complication is that lower layers, while not always, tend to be occluded and so can be affected outside of awareness and those effects may be hard to infer from downstream, ramified experiences. In short, it’s possible for vulnerable lower layers to become traumatized or further traumatized.

It gets worse in that everyone, at all layers have both functional ontologies as well as remaining blooming, buzzing confusion (as per William James). That is, everyone has patterns of input that can produce hard to predict effects in the system. This is a further dimension of vulnerabilitiy.

To explain further, when we were at our youngest, while we have genetic predisposition towards certain types of interpretations, the world doesn’t come pre-given. We have to assemble feeling, sound, light, touch, etc., into appearances, inferred objects, causal relations, and proactive management of self and environment. Prior to this, and always alongside this, there is blooming, buzzing confusion. There is “static,” “noise” lining the edges of experience and even shot through all of experience, the “feel of reality.”

IV: The demon-haunted world and science as a candle in the dark (as per Carl Sagan)

And, so, this static, this noise, this blur that colors everything, and it comes in layers, there is some at every layer—this is the domain of shamans, of magick, of the siddhis, of the powers.

Western and so-called “universal culture” has factored away much of this blur into legible ontologies and compenstory pockets.

But consider, childhood fears—monsters, ghosts, etc. Consider cultural and religious—demons, hells, etc. Consider childhood extremity—terror, loss of control, disregulation, bullying, abuse, violence, hatred.

Also consider, adult desperation around money, poverty, power, status, sex (coercive fantasy and actuality in kinks, fetishes, and paraphilias), intimacy, belongingness, health, aging, sickness, and death.

Consider the desperation of infant, child, adult to affect the mother, peers, adults, the powerful, and vice versa. Consider the childhood insecurities and fears still layered into the adult narcissist, the adult schizoid, the adult borderline.

Consider how desperately, out of love and fear, how desperately people are trying to affect each other all the time.

Consider that what the brain does is make sense of blooming, buzzing confusion, to find signal in noise. Consider as well that those vast number of tubes. Consider our sensitivity to transduce single photons. Consider facial expressions, flickering of the eyes, body language, voice tone, timbre and prosody. Consider temperature fluctuations in the air. Consider subtle changes in air currents as we move our limbs. Consider those vast degrees of freedom as well as that sensitivity. Consider the heights of skill of say olympic athletes versus weekly joggers.

And then is it any wonder that hapless creeps, dark wizards, cult leaders… and healers walk among us?

V: Everyday blah, hapless creeps, dark wizards, and cult leaders

The mind is vast and occlusion is a thing.

On the surface, most people genuinely and authentically want to be good to people and to be better people. Almost everyone has at least a little vicious hatred, or ill-will or at least just reckless terror at lower layers. Those negative things will typically be latent in lower layers. But they can be triggered under the right circumstances.

And, upon being triggered, negative behaviors, both gross and subtle, will feel right, normal, appropriate, justified. And then that person will do obvious or subtle bad things.

The obvious stuff is bad enough, from glaring to shouting or even hitting. But the subtle stuff can be really bad, too. It can be coercive, soul-damaging—it can create vulnerabilities which beget further harm.

We all do things we don’t endorse. We all can cause subtle harm. And, if we had adult abuse in our past, sometimes we can do harm “above our weight class,” and it’s very regretful.

The above few paragraphs describe the spectrum from everyday blah all the way to hapless creeps.

There is a worse level, which is that of the “dark wizard.” For the previous level, the ability to do harm is accumulated incidentally and unsystematically. But, a dark wizard systematically cultivates the ability to influence people. This can be either “deliberate and unreflective/accidental” or “deliberate and reflective.”

For the “deliberate and unreflective/accidental” category, a good example of this is in relation some kinks, fetishes, paraphilias (and also “vanilla-sexual”). Some kinks are pure fantasy, some involve “consensual nonconsent,” and some, usually disendorsed, involve the actualization of nonconsent, either incidentally or essentially.

Unfortunately, all of those cases can potentially produce unwanted effects in other people because, even for the pure fantasy cases, there can be “actualization bleed.” And often, people have lower-layer material/“tubes”/etc that want to realize some “actual nonconsent,” even if this is disendorsed by much else of the system. And even if this is compensated for at the higher layers. There can still be subtle, harmful effects between people via lower levels.

The situation is analogous for safety/control fantasies and revenge fantasies. (For the safety/control case, the person wants other people to behave in highly specific ways so that that person can feel safe. Often, this will be in childhood, parent-child, or religious ontologies.)

In all of these cases, sexual, control, revenge, the person is cultivating the thoughts, fantasies, beliefs, material, behaviors over time. There’s something building up over time and becoming more powerful, more effective, more insidious, even if unintentional.

It would be a much better world if people’s sexual fantasies stayed safely inside our heads, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. And that’s pretty intense, but it seems to be true. The worst of this, here, is perhaps “community sexual predators” that are somehow “more effective or successful than they should be.”

Moving on from “deliberate and unreflective,” pickup artistrty (PUA), “business influence,” and “persuasion” type books are in a gray area between “unreflective” and “reflective.” The person is systematically cultivating something but the ontology is pretty intrisically low-key, relatively speaking, as compared to sexual stuff or what follows below.

In “deliberate and reflective” proper, these are people that are reading spellbooks or doing chaos magic or summoning demons or dabbling in curses and in any case deliberately seeking to influence people for personal gain. There are cringy and toothless versions of this, and there are very, very terrible versions of this. Remember, all of this has naturalistic explanations, but the layers of the mind reify things and we experience it as real. And it can drive up blood pressure and cause heart attacks and stroke, subtly or grossly reduce quality of life forever, drive people insane, tear communities apart, etc. And, all the while, there is gaslighting and self-gaslighting that that isn’t what’s happening.

Historically, and in some places contemporaneously, each village had a shaman to deal the intentional and unintentional, from blah to terrible, stuff happening between people and villages/tribes/etc.

Cult leaders will be discussed more below.

VI: Spot the dark wizard

A final note is that, if you’re trying to influence people at all, if you have any perceived need at all with respect to other people (belonging, care, money, intimacy, sex), unless you and everyone are in a tremendously high-resourced environment, and everyone is engaged in mutually creative synergy, then you’ve likely got at least some baby dark wizard going on, or some latent dark wizarding that could get triggered.

And if you’ve been cultivating, ruminating, working over, developing in/on/over anything that in some way involves thinking, other people, or influencing other people, then you’ve likely got something either full-on dark wizardy or something that could easily be converted over to dark-wizard-ness with the right push.

This section is not to normalize the above, though. (“Oh, he’s saying everyone is a dark wizard, ok, so it’s not that bad.”) This section is a warning. In other words, if you don’t think you can’t have “things that are that bad” in you, or you don’t think things in you will bleed out into the world, or you are “good at mind stuff” or “good at ethical interaction,” then you should probably be very careful. These are all surfaces areas for you to do unrelfective harm. And doing transformative practices can make things worse, in the short-term or for a long time.

If you see yourself as a helper or a healer, this is also a yellow flag. Often “helping” or “healing” can contain perversity, not just good but also harm. And the goodness makes it harder to see the harm.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of, here. Layering and misconceptualization or non-conceptualization mean that it can take time to find the bad stuff, sometimes years.

But given that it’s possible to hurt people in the meantime, one should be listen to people when they say you’re being weird, creepy, harmful, etc. (Sometimes it’s munchausen or gaslighting when people say they’re being harmed, but you have to do due diligence—it could be both partially not your responsibility and partially you doing harm. If you dismiss people’s concerns as not valid then that’s a red flag that you’re at least low-resourced and probably doing additional harm on top of the dismissal.)

You have to be ready to isolate yourself, to walk away, and sometimes you should let people excommunicate you. Sometimes, it will be the case that you were in an unhealthy environment, and you defending yourself is further hurting people around you. But “active” defenses mean you aren’t skilled enough yet. When the environment becomes “just information” as opposed to something that needs to be defended against then you can consider yourself skilled. At that point you won’t be “actively” hurting people in such an environment, but they could still experience your being there as harmful because of things in them that don’t want to be exposed, even passively via your side, to things in you. Sometimes it can take a very long time to figure out who’s doing or not doing what to whom, and it’s better to just not interact.

VII: Healers

Healers, bodyworkers, energy healers, reiki practioners, healing touch practitioners, qigong practitioners, exorcists, shamans, etc., can be great. Keep in mind that there is a vast range of skill. Some people are completely ineffectual. Some are very effective but cause both harm and good things at the same time. The rare individual with decades of (lineage?) training and experience is excellent. (And some “healers” are dependancy-inducing predators.)

Minds are vast, people have weird beliefs, and the mind makes it real. Healers work in different paradigms and so there can be ontology shear and effect shear. Healers might have different beliefs than you (and your mind) about what changes are good and bad, and when, and why, and how. Healers will have their own blindspots and malevolent layered intentions. Healers can sometimes pick up lots of bad stuff from people they’re trying to heal (or teachers that they’ve worked with) that they haven’t entirely cleared themselves. And then they can pass it on to you. And sometimes healers can have bad days where they’re mean and ill-willed.

If someone has been practicing for decades and you can talk to other people they’ve worked with who say good things, then they might be a good fit for you. If someone has seemingly produced miracles (they’ve gotten a stroke victim to walk again or otherwise given someone their life back) but they seem creepy to you, then it might be better to stay away. (Most reading this will not be in need of a miracle that they cannot ultimately produce themselves, possibly on a faster timeline with less resources.)

Generally speaking, for serious meditators, there are very quickly diminishing returns for working with healers. Meditation is essentially self-sufficient, self-healing that “goes all the way,” all things being equal. Sometimes a healer can get you out of a rut or help you deal with an acute issue. Often, maybe almost always, you’ll have to rework whatever they did, in the future. Maybe almost always, what healers do are just a temporary patch, for a serious meditator. (For non-meditators a “patch” can be life-saving. Just different needs for different life trajectories.) So, sometimes it’ll be net good and sometimes net bad.

VIII: Witch hunts, vulnerabilitiy, contagion, tragedy of transformation, community decompensation

It can be hard to assign blame and decide what to do. We all can have layered material that can be vulnerable in idiosyncratic ways. Someone can have a sex or revenge fantasy that they’re barely broadcasting, that wouldn’t affect 95% of people. But, when you’re in a room with them, it does awful stuff to your system. So who’s at fault? In this case mostly nobody, but there’s still the issue that you can’t be in a room with them. It might be both people’s responsibility to change. The person with the fantasy to figure out how it’s bleeding into the world a little bit. And you to figure out why it’s affecting you. But, for one or both of you, that could be hundreds of hours of work (though which will produce all sorts of collateral positive effects along the way), and one or both of you might not currently be systematic meditators.

It gets harder when the content is occluded—one person might be competely unaware that something is bleeding through or that it even exists. Or they might sort of know but reflexively gaslight that it isn’t happening. Or they might be very scared and angry that a) they might be hurting people or b) that their fantasy isn’t actually private.

To make things even more complicated, people can manufacture or play up harm. They can accuse people of not just being creepy but also being subtly harmful. And sometimes they’ll be right, but it will be low-grade harm, and sometimes they’ll be mistaken, but some part of them, reflectively or unreflectively wants it to be true because it would be convenient if it were true.

To make things even more complicated, often people who are vulnerable to what another person is doing will in some sense want to be affected, in part, by what the other person is doing. Usually what the other person is doing will have “good” parts and “bad” parts, and a person’s system will “unreflectively/subconsciously choose” to take the bad with the good, in order to get the good. This will usually be reflectively disendorsed—the “good thing” upon examination, will be confused, somehow—but can still, in some sense, be used to point to complicity on the part of the person being affected. [One way of becoming less vulnerable, by the way, is to make it safe to see what is or feels good about what’s happening, or the current thing in the system, and to find a healthier version of the attractive but disendorsed thing, which can replace the net bad package as well as the receptive surface.] In any case, often the seemingly good thing will in some way have been sculpted to have that attractiveness/temptation, and so on, to make it more likely that people will be hooked by it. And often the person who has the attractive/tempting thing will (at least eventually if not immediately) reflectively disendorse it being that way, too.

This is all very hard.

There is an additional phenomenon of people believing that they are protected by their rationality, reasonableness, belief in science, or strength of will. But, very often, such people will still be affected in occluded layers. And so their behavior will become more harmful, because they themselves have been harmed by something, but they will be resistant or unable to investigate this. And they might also further transfer bad things to other people; they might unknowingly pass bad stuff along. Such people are good candidates for interaction with a healer, if they agree to it.

Another problematic thing that can happen is, when someone becomes a systematic meditator, they can start decompensating in ways that influence occluded material. They might have cycles of increased desperation or neediness that bleeds through in problematic or intense ways. And people who are good-faith trying to become safer to be around, or just better people, can actually become more dangerous to be around for a period of time. This extends to communities as well. For a community of self-transformers, things can get much, much, much worse until things get better—lives can be ruined and communities can get torn apart, even as people just wanted to get better together. All the bad stuff can come out in insidious and explosive ways.

IX: Timelines and stopgaps and sanity checks

Part of what makes this so hard is how long the timelines are. Self-transformation takes thousands of hours, and people’s patterns of vulnerability to each other are idiosyncratic. So if harm is occurring, it can take dozens, hundreds, or thousands of hours to to sort out who’s doing what to whom and to fix it. And this is superexpontential the more people that are involved.

Sometimes people just need to stop associating, even if they were lovers, friends, or colleagues before starting to self-transform. And this can be tragic when a relationship or community has formed with the best of intentions. (But people do grow apart under “normal” conditions, too.)

Discussing all this stuff up front can help. Documents like this can help. Effective self-transformative practices like the ones in this document can help.

If one is exploring the many protocol with people (see further in the document), it can be helpful to start very, very slowly, maybe just five minutes per day for months, or to not do it at all with some combinations of people. Sometimes solo transformation only is a better choice for a community.

It can be helpful to just leave the room for five minutes, if something is going on, to metabolize it and maybe come back more resilient.

If you feel buzzing or tingling in your body, localized or not, or the air seems “thick” or “shimmery,” or the reality of the room seems to become “less,” that doesn’t mean something is bad is necesarily happening, but something is probably happening.

But remember the issues with witch hunts, manufactured victimhood, and determining harm. But also remember the reality of gaslighting. If something feels wrong, something is wrong, somewhere.

You can intend to know exactly what’s going on. And you can intend to have a solution that’s good-faith, good-will for everyone. Sometimes you’ll need to leave or have people leave. But hopefully you won’t. May the best thing happen for everyone.

X: The late-stage meditator in community

People often become more sensitive and more vulnerable at first, possibly for months or years. But eventually…

This is just a conceptual model. The reality of it feels different, maybe, sometimes. But the below is a good way to provisionally think about what happens for a late-stage meditator.

So the late-stage meditator is mostly de-layered, de-occluded. They have access to most of their stuff, and most of their stuff healed or grown up or a bit wiser. Two particular dimensions are important, here:

The first is the dimension of self-other confusions. We can pick up stuff from other people and think it’s ours, think that it is us. And this becomes actuation just like everything else in our system. That part of us literally thinks its an extension of the other person, it feels like the other person from the inside. Any part of us that’s a little bit confused about self versus other can acquire “otherness” at any point during our lives. Over time, the systematic meditator helps their parts realize who they belong to and to realize that they only have to be themselves. Those parts, all things being equal, become “invulnerable” to future otherwise potential incidents of self-other confusion.

(Remember, you’ll always be bathed in the stuff, all the time. But it becomes information instead of influence.)

The second dimension is that of goodness/badness inversions. Sometimes we think something is good when it’s actually bad and vice versa. And often it’s highly contingent and contextual as to whether something is good or bad. And some things can benefit one person at the expense of another. And childhood parts and layers can be quite confused or jumbled as to what’s good and bad, especially in cases of neglect and abuse but where that person was still dependent on an adult for love and protection. This can ramify as goodness/badness/self/other/boundary issues throughout a person’s system. A person is much more vulnerable to coercion when they believe something is good for them that is actually bad for them. They will “receive” material, content, intentions, will from another person to placate them, to be loved, all sorts of things, that might locally seem good to an occluded part is in fact terrible for the system as a whole. Over time, the late-stage meditator becomes wise and that wisdom percolates through the entire system. And, over time, the late-stage meditator is less and less likely to make local, perverse tradeoffs involving acceptance of ultimately unnecessary influence from other people.

So self/other confusions and good/bad inversions can be abstractly considered as the main sources or enablers of subtle interpersonal disendorsed effects.

(You may wish to temporarily skip to “XVI: The quiet interaction and the beauty of subtle interpersonal effects” before moving foward.)

XI: Cult leaders

Cult leaders are different. Anyone, including cult leaders, can change with luck and likely thousands of hours of work. But, a cult leader that’s a cult leader, right now, is different.

Bad things happened to them (very) early in life, or they responded to normal or bad early life things in particularly unfortunate ways. And then bad things accumulated on top of that. And now they are like this:

  1. Most people aren’t trying to affect everybody like they’ll be affecting “peers” or “potential lovers” or “direct competitive threats” or “people who are the object of my sexual fetish”. And it won’t be turned on all the time. But some people, e.g. cult leaders, want to “affect all humans all the time” in some way or some significant subset of that.

  2. Not all effects have “teeth” in that there could be a superstitious element, like, the person is “doing a thing” like wanting people to die or be angry, and people are picking that up, but it’s not actually causing people to do that thing. Cult leader stuff will have teeth.

  3. There’s an issue of “grain,” like people do have filters, but if someone is phenomenologically skilled (into meditation, spirituality, magic, etc.), in some literal sense a finer grain will get through people’s filters and affect them in ways that are too articulated for the average person’s system to manipulate and fix or much more likely at least “encyst”.

  4. Some people claim special knowledge or authority about truth, goodness, power, sex, intimacy, connection, minds. And those claims might not be legitimate, but if the other person’s system believes them that makes it much more likely transmission will occur.

  5. Finally, that seeming special knowledge about truth, goodness, power, meaning, etc., will in some way be instantiated in that person’s mind, but will usually be in some ways perverted, warped, or incomplete (even if seemingly clear, persuasive, attractive, and valuable). And prolonged contact with such a person can have a whole-mind warping effect, which would not be the case for someone who hadn’t developed such coherent-yet-still-perverse views.

  6. Finally, some people are particularly schizoid or exquisitely walled off from the effects of sensations, somehow managing sensations such that they flow through a keyhole in order to preserve a fantasy reality of control, megalomania, (terror, fear), etc., sometimes hidden even from themselves. They might seem somewhat normal, if otherwise charismatic and/or creepy, but their minds will be arranged in a way that makes it very, very, very hard for them to responsively learn and grow, to understand the harm they’re causing and to all-the-way-down care about not hurting people or to realize, all the way down, that they’re even hurting people at all.

So charismatic cult leaders, or whatever, really are doing something especially bad.


Then, they might be a “cult leader.”

They might have a magnetic pull on a person’s entire mind/belief/representational/behavioral system that causes a person to start layering. This might produce value in some ways but also produces a net global cost for that person’s system (usually). Prolonged contact might mean years of cleanup and significantly increased self-transformation timelines.

They will present themselves (overtly or subtly) as having extremely rare, or unique, critically valuable special knowledge, but, usually it’s a lie or it’s not worth it because it’s mixed with poison and detoxing before consuming is prohibitively costly.

A good self-transformation technique will typically endogenously generate sufficient value such that subtly and overtly authoritarian and coercive individuals can be in some sense ignored, at least for the purposes of acquiring the most precious things.

(Such individuals will claim to have such techniques, and will dribble out some initial value, but engaging in such techniques will likely ultimately be damaging and counterproductive. If you decide to collect “pieces” from such people, beware. Sometimes they will have stumbled on a special, rare thing. But it will be perverted in some way and will come at a price.)

It’s hard to overstate how much such an individual, one who, deep down, is relentlessly determined to control you and have you be a certain way, whether they realize it or not, can fuck up your life before you’ve realized it’s happened. Ten minutes with an individual like this can, worst-case, mean hundreds of hours, or longer, to unfuck yourself.

XII: Spotting a cult leader by overt signs

Because the subtle signs are harder to detect and sometimes can’t be detected immediately, here is an incomplete list of overt signs that you’re possibly in the presence of a cult leader:

See also:

Amor, Alexandra. Cult, A Love Story: Ten Years Inside a Canadian Cult and the Subsequent Long Road of Recovery. Fat Head Publishing, 2013.

XIII: Incomplete list of relatively succinct concepts/definitions

Of course there’s many ways to use the words below! The defintions given are partial, flawed, and idiosyncratic.


It can be helpful to remember that someone can be misleading or deceptive without lying. They might very carefully only say things that are true (“selective-truthing”). They might very carefully only say things that aren’t quite relevant. They might say things in response to questions that aren’t actually answers to the questions asked. They might give special, private meanings to words and phrases that they can sufficiently defend at a later time as being what they really meant. They might say ambiguous things that can mean both something and it’s opposite, depending on later events or later clarification.


“The enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom” [according to google]

Such advocacy, as mentioned above, can be both explicit and implicit. If explicit, there might be reasons given. If implicit, behavior will be presumptive. Reasons might involve appeals to the greater good or the need to make hard tradeoffs or for the (necessity of the) prevention of something highlighted as bad, either imminently or inevitably in the far future. Many other reasons and arguments can be given. Also: tragedy of the commons, volunteer’s dilemma, threat of anarchy or dog eat dog or inefficiency or…

One possible way to dissolve the seeming need for a blanket ideology involving overt or covert authoritarianism might be to get very concrete about “what would actually happen” in various particular, realistic scenarios, involving specific people, groups, or places.


A person causing another person to unresponsively lock in stable or escalating patterns of mind or behavior, usually in a way that has utility for the preson doing the causing. If a person is coerced, then that person will have resources bound up in executing, elaborating upon, or being prepared to execute the mechanical behavior. The person will be less creative, less generative, less able to flexibly use environmental opportunities to changes and grow, relative to the degree they have been or are being coerced. [I threw this definition together, and there are cleaner, more self-consistent ones out there.]

A related concept is the usual “learned helplessness,” where a person has now has new “waiting steps” such that they’re dependent on occurences outside of themselves in order to move forward on various things.

This is one route that these sorts of things can be facilitated:

  1. Demonstration of inadequacy, demonstrate a person is inadequate on some (possibly narrow) dimension. Do this be leading a person to a surprising, possibly negative result, with the implication they weren’t enough, that they were in error.
  2. Demonstration of generality. Demonstrate to the person some degree of generalization, that this inadequacy more generally applies.
  3. Hope for overgeneralization. Hope the person generalizes their inadequacy as much as possible.
  4. Demonstation of non-self-bootstrapping. Ideally-perversely, repeat steps 1-3, starting with some narrow demonstration that the person can’t resolve (at least once aspect of the original inadequacy) and again ultimately hope that person overgeneralizes to “not being able to become able to help themselves,” on as many wanted dimensions as possible.

One might grant that goodness is objective, real, in some sense.

But, one might claim a fixed, “exteriorized” defintion for that good thing. “Goodness is X.” “Goodness is righ there.” “Goodness is this.” “Goodness is in this.” “Goodness has object-ness or thing-ness.”

A possible correction is to consider that irrespective of any objective dimensions of goodness, it still must be subjectively, fluidly found, by route of a personal, unfixed path. One could take this as provisional and explore, over time, whether it has validity, including even the concept of “goodness” itself and/or the various/many senses that that word might have, inclusive of related useful concepts/words/ideas, and so forth.


Appeals to or capitalization on insecurity or paranoia (“never enough”) by evoking ideas, images, or promises of “infinity,” “hugeness,” “foreverness,” “everythingness,” “all of it,” etc.” (as either carrot or stick)

Pascal’s mugging (idiosyncratic interpretation) -

“I (may have) rare or unique things/goods of great value that you won’t be able to get anywhere else, ever, forever, if you don’t stick around or do as I say.”


Stipulation is very useful tool when playing with arguments, thought experiments, and ideas. (“Stipulate, let, grant, given, say…”) Here, I mean something more narrow.

There’s a pattern where someone will offer reasonable assumptions, and then narrowly follow the implications of those assumptions, while implicitly denying that any other reasonable assumptions are possible or that there’s even potentially another, better activity to be doing at all.

For example, one might say, “The world consists of agents who have goals.” A bunch of implications would follow from that, and it seems reasonable as a starting point for discussion. But what of resources, nature, the material versus procedural nature of those goals, the implications for whether those agents have experiences or not, and the relevance of that or not, in the discussion, and so forth. (Not to mention, for this example, considering e.g. humans to be agents who have collections of goals gets philosophically problematic very quickly, but, again, can be stonewalled or gaslighted as the only reasonable starting point for a large class of communicative contexts.)

Besides “stipulation,” other words for this might be “frame control,” “schematic dominance,” “framing,” “out of sight out of mind,” “what you see is all this is…”

An extreme version of this is foundationalism, according to wikipedia: “Foundationalism concerns philosophical theories of knowledge resting upon justified belief, or some secure foundation of certainty such as a conclusion inferred from a basis of sound premises.” This is a very useful frame! But engagement with explicit premises as an activity as such is not the only way to interact or to seek truth or goodness or etc. And/but, the implication might be that any other activity is worthless, dangerous, immature, etc.

Stipulations can build up in the environment, can become implicit, omnipresent, and also interjective—it might become a norm that some people can add new stipulations at any time (whenever it’s convenient for them) and other’s can’t. And this is way to control discourse and behavior.

Another thing that can happen is “matching,” where people’s perceptions and behavior tend to gel around explicit assertory statements, cf confirmation bias and/but with respect to behavior and perception as well.


This list and the entries under each current item are very incomplete!

XIV: Teachers and leader timelines

Timelines are very long. Meditative practice can take thousands of hours to make substantial progress. Real progress is “de-layering,” but many seemingly good practices and produce a combination of layering and de-layering.

Even “fully de-layering” is insufficient because a person must also acquire lots of real-world knowledge about how to be good and safe for other people. And that real-world knowledge has to be “propagated throughout the system.”

Becoming good, safe, and effective is a life-long journey.

If a teacher is doing something weird, it’s usually the case that they have a blindspot or hangup. It’s unlikely that they’re playing n-dimensional chess.

Good teachers can still have buried malevolence and sex stuff that even they aren’t aware of. Unburying and working through all of it will typically take someone thousands and thousands of hours, even if they have a practice that is doing very little initial layering.

But, “asymptotic perfection” is something good teachers and any serious practioner should be aspiring to, in my opinion.

Mistakes, blindspots, and fuckups should be expected, though. And if someone is doing something weird, that you’re vulnerable to, you might want to check back with them every few years instead of sticking with them and experiencing quite a bit of harm, before you realize it, that you ultimately have to undo to make further progress.

XV: Layer theory and high-level principles of ethical, nonharmful, noncoercive, safe interaction:

Generally but not universally, de-layering, or at least not adding layering, is good. Layering is still good as a stopgap, when things are happening too surprisingly, too fast, or in some other unhandleable way, for a particular person.

Remember, layering begets more layering, and, the more layering a person has, the harder it is for that person to make further valued changes to their mind/self/behavior/etc., all things being equal. De-layering creates more optionaity for change, and faster change, all things being equal.

If a person is short-term “forcing themselves into a shape” or “trying to be or act in a particular way,” at the expense of long-term growth, then that is, more or less by definition, layering.

The more a person can “just be themselves” around you, the less likely it is that they will be layering around you or layering in preparation for interacting with you. This is not universally true—a person can, for example, be layering all the time (almost everyone is, in some way), or layering before interaction with anyone, not just you, and so on. So, trying to have it be that a person can let their guard down around you, be unreflective around you, etc., will usually be at least neutral for them, relative to their baseline, and possibly good for them. One could describe this as a “low-stakes” interaction or a “safe” interaction.

There is a failure mode to the above, which is you overtly or explicitly communicating that you are safe or being seemingly safe, but, actually you are being unsafe because of subtle or overt coercive effects.

In subtle ways, you might be wishing (or “needing”) that they would change their behavior, either in interaction with you or in other contexts, and that could subtly bleed through.

You might not even be aware of that wishing or needing, but if it’s safe for them to tell you that they’re experiencing it, then that’s really good. If you are aware of it, then, sometimes, often, it’s better to call it out, to explicitly note the problematic things that you’re doing, to create mutual knowledge. Sometimes, after that mutual knowledge is established, then it’s better to just end that particular interaction.

Talking about “truth” and “goodness,” as such, can sometimes feel like the implication that the person needs to “change now” or “be different now.” Any model or ideal or goal or concept or principle, etc., can be used as a hammer, and might be, even if a person disendorses doing so to themselves.

This can be less likely to happen if the interaction is truly low-stakes.

Interactions can become high-stakes when one person has something rare, hard-to-get, unique, and valuable or even perceived to be critically good or necessary by the other person. Then that other person is especially likely to try to be a particular way to get that value.

A situation can be made more low-stakes for that other person by good-faith and competently trying to either get that person that thing, or to show them how they can get it themselves, or to show them that it’s not actually valuable or real, or to show them that they are mistaken about its rarity or difficult-to-get-ness, and so on.

The more you can obviate yourself in the other person acquiring value, then the more low-stakes the interaction is.

Low-stakes interactions are more likely to be creative, in that both people can work together to do something even better for each other, and everyone, than they could alone.

There are of course issues of low resources (time, money, etc.), coordination costs, entrenched beliefs or preconceptions, excessive ill-will, preconceptions, etc., that it make it hard to have noncoercive, low-stakes, and creative interactions with another person. Sometimes, often, it can require tremendous preparation, over years and years, to arrange self and world to interact with other people noncoercively. But you can do your best, wherever you are on that journey, and it’s worth it.

One final pithy thing, if you’re looking for a quick-and-dirty way to try to know whether you’re being coercive versus, say ethically persuading, is you can ask, whether, functionally, you are influencing a person or informing them. Of course, seeming informing can actually be influencing, and vice versa. But I have found it helpful to check whether I’m influencing (bad, in this usage) or merely information (good, in this usage). If you need a person to respond in a particular way then there’s a real, stringent sense in which you cannot ethically interact with them, at least along that dimension, and more work is required on your part. If you have optionality, power, freedom with respect to X (or they do, or you both do) then the interaction becomes ethical with respect to X. Sometimes this can happen upstream or obliquely. For example, if both people have lots of money or other resources, then there’s less of a surface area, very generally, for either person to “coercively need” each other.

Of course, it’s nice to be needed, or is it? It’s maybe safer to be needed, in the short term. But true safety likely comes from flexible, creative interdependence, trust and reliance and skill versus brittle, inflexible (i.e. layered!) coercion.

Other people’s intelligence, skill, compassion, and love keep us safe, not them being forced into a narrow range of behaviors around you. Of course, people can locally disagree about what’s safe and good, and people can not realize how they’re being harmful, and people can be manufacturing victimhood or engaging in net-destructive self-healing strategies, and so on. So, ideally, as many people as possible are collaboratively and synergistically engaging in effective self-transformative practice and resource acquisition and distribution, etc.

In any case, if someone doesn’t need to layer in your presence, then they can grow in your presence. And, if this is mutual, then you can grow together.

XVI: It’s not cool

It’s best to consider the powers, the siddhis, the effects as not cool. They can become a thing in communities of practice. And they can become an ugly, escalatory, ruinous thing between practitioners. One or both people can do disendorsed, yet still hate-filled, tremendous harm to the other or to people caught in the crossfire.

(This is a bit of an overgeneralization, but: People uncontrollably (or deliberately) reach for the powers when they have social skill deficits, or they’re very afraid, or deep-down they’re resigned and feel helpless and hopeless. Otherwise, they would have already backchained to something collaborative and instructive, both non-verbally smooth/friendly and explicitly clear, and they likely wouldn’t have found themselves in the triggering situation in the first place.)

If something especially subtly weird is going on, there is minimal to be gained from toughing it out, being seen as strong, by self or others.

And it can be very counterproductive to try to early-on become “invulnerable” to subtle interaction effects. (One is always vulnerable in the sense that we are bathed in it all the time, all things being equal. We can however transcend it, have unconfused, good information processing around it, to let it flow through us as “just information,” “just background,” etc.) Done too early, before enough meditative skill, trying to become “invulnerable” will produce additional layering, increase timelines, and not do much for becoming less vulnerable.

If negative effects are detected, try to separate early and often. Try to reduce incentives for unnecessary interaction (e.g. record talks or publish summaries so not everyone needs to be present).

Try not to hold grudges as this can increase meditation timelines. But, so too, if you are feeling strong negative emotions towards someone, don’t self-gaslight yourself into believing you’re not or that you shouldn’t.

And, you can just leave. You can find meaning elsewhere. You don’t need what they’re selling if it’s a group situation.

XVII: The quiet interaction and beauty of subtle interpersonal effects

(You may wish to read “part X: the late-stage meditator in community” before this section if you’re skipping around.)

Over time, interactions between two trained individuals or one highly trained individual and other untrained individuals become relatively gentle and quiet, noncoercive, barely there. Interaction effects gently and liminally enhance intimacy, connection, etc.

(Remember, you’ll always be bathed in the stuff, all the time. But it becomes information instead of influence.)

Brave individuals might use intense interaction effects for training purposes, relating purposes, sexual purposes, etc. All is permitted, as it were. But I imagine most people will have no need or desire for such things, whether they’re leading quiet lives or doing big things, or doing both.

Sometimes, not all of the time, you can just walk away from shit like this.

All that said, sometimes communities become infected, and then one must engage with all this stuff in order to protect the community from the worst of what’s described above (harm to individuals or community dissolution). A community can need boundaries and sometimes “sterilization” or “clean room” approaches. That is, some communities may need skilled shamans*, some of the time.

But if a community hasn’t been “de-layered, de-compensated, cracked open” and there currently aren’t any “dark wizards” in or on the edges of the community, then it’s probably best to leave things well alone. Group practices** that can influence the boundaries between people should be used very sparingly and carefully. They are not games and even sporadic experimentation can have consequences. See the Many Protocol in this document. The Many Protocol should possibly only be explored when there is at least one highly-skilled practioner in the group (thousands of hours of effective practice).

*Stephan, V. Singing to the plants: A guide to mestizo shamanism in the upper Amazon. UNM Press, 2010.

**Katz, Richard. Boiling energy: Community healing among the Kalahari Kung. harvard university Press, 1982.

XVIII: Depth of horror

Horrible things have happened to individuals, often in childhood. Violent abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, extreme coercion. There is religious terror around hells, devils, demons. Terrible things happen to parents and grandparents, too, and that will affect the kids. There is also medical and death horror, we see relatives suffer and die in front of us or we walk in on dead bodies. Even if onself or relatives ultimately survive it can still be very tulmultuous. And there is cultural horror—slavery, extreme racism and bigotry, colonization, imperialism, genocides, holocausts, world wars, ancient curses, ancient gods, etc. All of this is rattling around in people’s minds and between minds, brought forwards through the centuries and decades. The skilled meditator will systematically work through all of this and their own stuff, over time. But there’s a lot and it takes a long time. In the meantime, one is exposed to it, in the water, as it were. And if something gets decompensated, cracked open in a group environment, then it can cause problems for multiple people.

XIX: Inappropriate reification

Remember all the above is just a theory of convenience, a story. Find your own truth. Don’t inappropriately reify any of this or take my word for it. Good science is still true. Planes still fly. Government still do the thing they do. Computers compute. Stuff that’s true is simultaneously true. Give yourself time to integrate new, surprising stuff into a unified worldview. It will take some time.


What might (and could) we do together that’s better (more good), for everyone, than what we might do apart?

What might we do together that’s better than what we might do apart?

What might we do together that’s better than what we’ll do apart?

The creativity of evil


safety = resolution of problems + mind autonomy

safety + creativity = joy

Lineages and transformative works

There’s the Silicon Valley bromide, “A’s hire A’s; B’s hire C’s.” So there’s this awareness of entropy or degradation or something.

There’s a joke about how philosophers or academics in general produce “lesser clones” of themselves.

There’s a big deal, I think, in artificial intelligence around “artificial bootstrapping,” as in, if and how and when is it possible to make something better in some way than its originator.

I think, generally, in the self-help world, an academic or a sharp independent will create a technique, and then people will popularize it. Sometimes the popularization will be recognizable as the original or the original will even be referred to. Sometimes it’s called by the same name, and sometimes this is endorsed by the originator.

And, other times, the popularization will have its provenance obfuscated. The popularizer will call everything by different names, usually water the thing down, make it much easier for people to grasp.

Sometimes this will even be an improvement, but, I think, also, sometimes nuance will be left out that means that people that encounter it won’t be able to use that instantiation to “go all the way” with the material. This can still be a net win if the user would never have known about the existence of the original material or they wouldn’t have had an on-ramp to unlock the original material.

But, sometimes, a couple worse things can happen. First, people can encounter the watered-down version and then think that the original version must be likewise deficient, even though they don’t carefully investigate the encountered original. (They might not know that it’s the original gold standard, or whatever.) Another thing that can happen is that no one will want to invest in the original creator popularizing their work, when they eventually want to get around to it, because “it’s already been done.” I vaguely remember at least one concrete case of this.

The above paragraph is sort of looking at potentially bad outcomes at the level of individuals, consumers and the original creators. There’s system-wide potential negative effects, too:

This happens to some extent in academic science, there’s a proliferation of low-quality papers (this is due to possibly too much funding as well as perverse incentives and metrics). And, skilled researchers can identify quality lines of work and build on those, but less skilled researchers and scientists in adjacent communties have a much harder time weeding through all the crap. This might be isomorphic to the idea of a market for lemons, which is a notable economics paper. If I recall correctly, in a market for lemons (as in lemon cars versus cherry cars?), there’s no way to tell which are the lemons and which are the cherries (back in the day), and so there was no incentive to sell cherries, and the average quality of used car was very low. (I’m probably getting something wrong, here.)

Transferring this over to meditation-land. If there’s too many techniques to try because of low-quality and even well-intentioned popularizers and teachers, and say a person can’t efficiently weed through techniques until they find quality ones, because, for that person, it takes too long to know whether a technique is working or not—they might just not try to engage with meditation techniques at all.

At think wisdom traditions, meditation lineages partially solve this by investing a lot of resources into a small number of people and authorizing some of them to teach and appointing one as a successor.

This helps with succession and quality maintenance but is still vulnerable. It’s hard to be invulnerable to quality degradation. (Sometimes synthesizers or revivalists [or popularizers who choose wisely!] figure out or semi-invent things that are as good or better than the originals, at least along some dimensions.) People from the outside still have to figure out which lineages are actually good, and so there’s still a market for lemons problem, even if the lineage itself is doing an ok job of maintaining quality. And there’s the scaling problem.

Even though science has its issues, it’s partially solved some of these kinds of problems, at scale, with with good feedback loops “truth”, empiricism, explicitness, etc. Again there’s a proliferation of low-quality papers. And, I think we’ve lost a good deal of our ability to train skilled scientists. But something was working ok for a while, and we’re still limping along, and science and technology are still progressing. (I’m ignoring the moral angle as well as opportunity costs, what could have been, in some neighboring world, here.)

One can do a similar thing with self-improvement and meditation techniques. That is, while meditation traditions have texts, there’s often secret knowledge, or keys to unlocking those texts, that could only be gotten in person. (Sometimes people can bootstrap, one way or another, into unlocking texts without forming an intense relationship with a teacher.)

That similar thing is to write better meditation manuals, and to keep improving them. Make them comprehensively explicit and conceptually clear. (My material has a long way to go, but it’s arguably pretty good. It seems like people do best when they’ve had some prior contact with other meditation techniques, and often it takes at least a tiny bit of question-answering with me, but some fraction of people on-ramp pretty quickly. And it’s my hope that skilled people will be able to de novo bootstrap with my material even if they have no contact with anyone who’s used it before, say if they find it on the internet somewhere.

There’s still all sorts of dangers, here. It’s a trope of people destroying themselves with found texts and people mistintpreting texts or teachers, going too far too fast or perversely misterpreting, becoming dark wizards, cult leaders, arch nemeses, and so forth.

But there’s something better, sometimes, about freely available, explicit meditation manuals versus esoteric knowledge mostly locked up in people. (Back in the day, by being esoteric, that’s how some traditions survived, I assume, making it possible for as to know about them and build on them. They kept the knowledge rare and valuable, so they could eat and keep the thing going. Hard problems, here. It sometimes also avoided the dangers in the above paragraph, probably, but the tropes still exist for a reason.)

In any case, I worry that my material will be cleaned up and popularized in a way that both dilutes it and actually harms dissemination, breadth and depth, for some of the reasons above.

More to say, and more to come, I suppose.

It’s partially hard because I want people to take apart the material and rewrite it, because that’s a good way to learn, maybe the best way to learn. And I do want people to improve on the material, to the point that it becomes unrecognizable, in part because it’s better that way or just that it’s equally good (or whatever) but the new language speaks better to a different group of people.

Often when people recreate something, they get it working just enough for themselves, whether they realize that’s what they’ve done or not, and they distribute it anyway, and this contributes to noise in the system, lemon markets, people thinking they’ve already seen better thing but it’s not worth it, and so on. (I think something like this happens in open source software, for some language and some domains. Also the forking, which is sometimes critically excellent and sometimes divisive, resource-draining, and community-killing.)

So I guess I’m asking something like, if you lightly reshape the material, link back to my thing. If you heavily reshape the material, either make it so unrecognizable (if that’s natural) that’s there’s sort of no brand or community overlap, as it were, so that more and more people can be reached without instead just confusing people. And, in any case, try to make it excellent, try to make it so that it takes people all they way from many, many, many different starting points. Make it as excellent, effective, and comprehensive as you can, and powerful enough to take many different people at different starting points absolutely all the way.

It’s my hope that we can make it really obvious who’s stuff is good, somehow cutting through all the noise. And then we link all the good stuff to all the other good stuff, and then people can choose from superb protocols that meet them exactly where they’re at. And somehow there’s just enough choice to benefit people, and low enough proliferation that there’s a very high signal-to-noise ratio.

This is a theoretical-technical-empirical problem—makes the instructions interpretable and excellent. And partially a sociological problem—guard the community from entropy and noise. And those two problems are interrelated.

Let’s try to have the right thing happen, and I also hope that my writing this doesn’t have a chilling effect, somehow. Let’s do the best we can to get supremely excellent material safely into as many hands as possible.

Maybe it’ll be a long time before people’s work diverges and competes with mine (in a good(!) way or a bad(!) way or both). Or maybe it’s coming up fast. Unclear, at the time of this writing.

See also, if twitter still exists when you’re reading this:

Well, he probably wouldn’t mind if I just pasted it here:

Simon Wardley @swardley

Me : Gosh, your work is truly amazing.

X : Thanks. I'd like to make it more widespread like your mapping.

Me : That's easy. Just make it open, creative commons. People will ignore for years but don't worry.

X : What if someone steals it.

Me : They can't steal what you give away.

X : But wha if someone else makes money with it?

Me : That's good news. The more the better. You're trying to create a community, a space for your work to exist in. Do you seek irrelevance?

X : No

Me : Then open it up.

X : Can't I get some VC to sponsor or invest in me?

Me : You're more likely to get someone with capital to steal your idea, cut yourself out of a market and never expand it. Entire markets are lost over legal squabbles and attempts to "own" stuff ... see Unix.

X : I wasn't around at that time.

Me : Oh, no problem. The entire future of the operating system was lost by a bunch of squabbling execs backed up by over enthusiastic lawyers, none of which could spell strategy let alone play it. This is a common story throughout history.

... into the mix, an "unruly" individual played an open source hand and asked for help. It was mostly laughed at, dismissed as lacking any business acumen and then won the world. It's another reasonably common story.

X : Reasonably?

Me : Yes ... an open play doesn't exempt people from making utterly daft mistakes. See OpenStack and differentiation on APIs with AWS.

X : I'm nervous about this.

Me : Well, that's a good sign. The numero uno of daft moves is to open by default. You're struggling with this question which means you're on the open by thinking path. Even my opening of mapping all those years ago had a plan but no guarantees

Practice preliminaries

Timeline, mindset, trajectory, harm

I’ve rewritten the below a few times. It still feels like a very early draft, and it could be rewritten one hundred more times.

Raw hours

So there’s this partially open-ended thing that you can do with the bodymind. And it takes time, thousands of hours. There’s a part that can’t be compressed, sort of the raw thing you’re working with, the way your mind is, right now, in all its complexity, that has to be worked all the way through. And then there will be contingent things that will make all of that go faster or slower.

If someone is older, they’ll have more raw stuff to work through. [The following sentence is long and hard to parse, and I apologize.] I suspect, for, say, someone who’s, I don’t know, between eighteen and thirty years old, with no really perverse trauma that can confusingly mix good and bad together, for example childhood sexual abuse, who’s really good with working with documents and a teacher, maybe they could start to asymptote around 2000-3000 hours. Maybe. There are still unknowns, here. I suspect something more realistic, for someone between eighteen and forty-five, is anywhere from 4000-10,000 hours.

Every problem you encounter may seem like it’s the deepest last problem. But there will be another, and another, maybe with a delay but inevitably, until there isn’t. So plan for this, in resources (time, money, relationships), possible break-taking (to make money or friends), opportunity costs, etc. One can’t predict using timelines, or plan using timelines—one has to just assume it’s going to take 10 years 20 years even if it only takes 1.7 years. This can potentially be hard and risky, depending on available resources and opportunity costs, and likely or possible sequelae. This paragraph will be at the end of the next section as well.

Better to finish, and smoothly

One of the things that’s hard is that, I suspect, for most people, doing the thing will either consume their lives or they’ll get stuck. There’s the saying, “Better not to start. If you start, better to finish.”

Some people will try to fit all this into the way their life currently is, their job, their relationships. That might work, meditating one to three hours per day, with more on the weekends, and intensely a few times per year. (But, again, see above how long that’ll take, calendar time, given the raw number of hours needed to asymptote.) One possible outcome of this is that they won’t notice many things changing. And that’s a safe tolerable outcome. But, if that person gets into some hard stuff, they might not have the “habitual intensity” to get themselves out. And they may get stuck in a state that’s hurting themselves, people they care about, and possibly many people that they incidentally come into contact with in their daily lives.

So there’s a certain safety in “really committing.” You don’t have to do that in the beginning. You can ramp up slowly over six to twenty-four months, maybe, to see if you really want to do this thing. Maybe. We don’t have enough data, yet. This section will change as that data comes in. Be very careful about experimenting, to figure out whether you’re in or you’re out. Don’t accidentally get too far. It happens.

An important part of the that “really committing” is not just knowing that you’re going to put in a lot of hours. That other part is something like “cognitive burden” or “cognitive momentum.” It often or even usually won’t look like normal “figuring things out,” though it very well might, but your mind is going to be occupied solving problems of types its never, ever had to solve before. And, to make progress, this is sometimes going to be going on “in the back of your mind” when you’d potentially rather be, say, making money or enjoying or strengthening relationships. One person described it to be as “whole self demanding” as another full time job or another primary relationship. So, even if one doesn’t meditate for three days or something, that “job-ness” or “relationship-ness” in terms of how the mind is processing beneath the surface (or not) doesn’t go away.

A few paragraphs above, I mentioned, “they may get stuck in a state that’s hurting themselves, people they care about, and possibly many people that they incidentally come into contact with in their daily lives.” Being “really committed” also involves trying to have life flexibility to sometimes dial the intensity up even more, to move through harmful states faster or more smoothly. Other sections will talk a bit more specifically about the possible harms to oneself and other people. But, if something like that is going on, one wants to be able to ideally isolate themselves for as many hours or days is necessary to get to something better. That’s going to put a strain on relationships, depending on how complete that isolation should be. It’s better to have kids after one or both people get on the likely far side of all of that.

This paragraph is in the section above, too: Every problem you encounter may seem like it’s the deepest last problem. But there will be another, and another, maybe with a delay but inevitably, until there isn’t. So plan for this, in resources (time, money, relationships), possible break-taking (to make money or friends), opportunity costs, etc. One can’t predict using timelines, or plan using timelines—one has to just assume it’s going to take 10 years 20 years even if it only takes 1.7 years. This can potentially be hard and risky, depending on available resources and opportunity costs, and likely or possible sequelae.

A failure mode

I’ve talked above about “intensity” and “really committing,” but this can lead people into a very common failure mode. So this might be one of the most important subsections you’ll read in this entire document.

When people first start using this material, they might do a thing that could be called any of the things below:

What these mean, and they all refer to the same thing, is to sort of be doing one’s best to follow the instructions maybe to the letter, but not trying to understand and enact the instructions to their very essence or core. Even if one is using the meta protocol, and the meta meta protocol, one can still be doing something like this.

It’s better to maybe pretend that the instructions are complete shit, a lossy telephone game, that’s pointing at a real thing (or is it), but something got hopelessly garbled. And, you want the value, but you should then interact with the instructions with the intention to find “the real instructions behind the instructions.” This isn’t a new idea. But, even where some parts of this document are vague, some parts are crystal clear (in some sense), albeit hard to parse or initially interpret. And that (arguable) clarity can make it seem like “all one has to do is follow the instructions,” which just isn’t true.

I tell people they would ideally create their own instruction document, that leaves out none of the essential complexity that this document is pointing to, but is entirely in their own words…

Without this section, I think the written instructions do eventually lead people to the “real instructions,” but hopefully reading this will make that go faster.

I want to emphasize, though, that ALMOST EVERYONE inevitably starts with magical button-pushing. One shouldn’t be ashamed of this. Some percentage of people just won’t be able to help themselves. Not-being-able-to-help-it, to not do it, of course, is why we meditate in the first place. Finding one’s way to the real instructions, over tens or hundreds of hours, is just part of the thing.

Be precise, patient, and gentle.

Entrenchment and active occlusion (layering)

Along with “intensity” and “really commiting” and “magical button-pushing,” is sort of “creeping unreflective desperation and unresponsiveness.” Often we start meditating because, whether we can put our finger on it or not, something is terrible, horrific somewhere. There is something really, really, really, really bad. And, the first impulse of the mind, in some sense, once the mind gets just enough knowledge to start making changes to itself, is to reflexively, in some sense, run as far away from the bad thing as it possibly can.

And that running away, paradoxicaly, tragically is exactly the wrong thing that ultimately needs to happen. (That’s often the case but not always. Sometimes the “running away” is the only way the mind can pick up tools to finally turn around and come back.

In any case, whether it’s good or bad, that running away will sometimes freeze not just that deep dark bad thing (or, usually, a bunch of deep, dark bad things) but will “freeze” a whole bunch of other things as well.

That is, a meditator can become more rigid, more neurotic, more belligerent, more unresponsive, more “unspiritual” before things turn around. And some of that rigidity might not go away for until the meditator is close to the “very end.” Or it’ll painfully come and go in ways that are distressing to both the meditator and the people around them, hopes and expectations dashed, over and over again.

So, this section is both for caution and expectation setting but also to possibly make it a bit less likely that something like this will happen. Judicious use of the meta protocol and the meta meta protocol will help.

Another way to look at all this is, at a very different level of abstraction, “don’t even try to make yourself a certain, very specific way. And, even more so, don’t ever try to move forward without understanding why you’re not already that way.” Beware, beware, “I should just be able to do X…”

Again, be precise, patient, and gentle.

Extreme skill and extreme standards

It can be helpful to realize that you need to become a genius. You need to become brilliant. You will become brilliant, at least along some narrow dimensions, in the course of doing this thing. If you strive for that, relax into it, things will go more smoothly.

The level of skill and (mostly implicit) intricate knowledge that you need to acquire is shockingly high. It’s like you need to learn every single instrument in an entire orchestra, including the ones that, at least historically, very rarely get used, as well as how to be a conductor. But that’s what the protocol is for. The protocol helps you do that. But if you’re ready for that, you know what’s supposed to happen, then that can go more easily.

Additionally, it can help to reach for words, phrases, and concepts like these:

[And eventually you will let go of the above! Perfection-in-imperfection type stuff, aconceptual and post-conceptual type stuff. Letting go of “done” and “done-ness” and “finished” and “end” and “completion,” etc.]

[No-goal, no-plan, no-view, no-position, no-escape, no-refuge, no-end, no-next, no-later, no-elsewhere, no-elsewhen, no-success, no-failure, no-purpose, no-point, no-good[~], no-bad[~], no-evil, no-self, no-choice, no-stability, no-completion, no-path, no-fruit, no-refuge, nothing-to-do, nothing-to-hold-on-to, no-stability, no-foothold, no-bootstrap, nondual, not-two, not-one…][no old life to get back to, no “getting back to it” [afterwards], no elsewhere, no other place, no world out there, no people, no hope, no fear, no remainder, nothing left over, no permanence, no refuge, no foothold, no fixing/stilling, no depending, nothing waiting for you [to finish], no fact of the matter, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide]

That is, it can be helpful to realize, at the finest grain, there’s no vagueness, no “mush,” no “slop.” The mind, in some sense, is shockingly lossless. Like, there’s compression, to be sure, but that compression is shockingly lossless.

You might think of the mind as made up of incompressible, inelastic, lossless, indestructible steel cables that are all very long and tangled together. And you need to untangle them and thread one-hundred percent of them all the way through their individual needle holes. And because of the nature of those cables it’s simply impossible to cheat.

Or, you might think of the mind is made up of one’s and zero’s, like a computer program or something. (And, luckily, there’s tons of parity checking.) And, by the time you’re finished, not even a single bit can be wrong. No bits left behind, not a single one.

You don’t have to be stressed about this, in the sense that the mind is going to lead you to all those needed untwists or bits left behind. In some sense, which is part of the whole point, the mind isn’t going to let you half-ass anything. That’s not how the mind works.

But the main point is that, the more you go with the grain of this, the more smoothly it will go. There’s a right ordering to everything, to be sure. And sometimes it’s going to suck.

But, if you know that you might indeed need sometimes to spend five hundred hours going after one “bit,” and indeed you might need to do that twenty times, that’s just part of the practice. That is the practice.

Again, the protocol will lead you to this level of conscientiousness and skill. The protocol (and the meta protocol and the meta meta protocol) and how the mind responds will lead you to find every last one of those bits, in some sense won’t let you do anything less, will help you be sure you’ve got them all. You’ll eventually get a taste for perfection, flawlessness, etc.

You’ll learn how to work at the finest grain. You’ll learn how to act with continuity, continuousness, without inappropriate gaps, jumps, jogs.

The protocol might start out feeling super clunky, not like meditation at all. But, over time, bottom up, it’ll look more and more like “classical contemporary noting” [sic] and concentration without support.

Go with the grain of this, not against it.

Physical sequelae

If you start inclining towards the very faintest beginnings of crippling muscle tension, nerve root impingement, intracranial pressure, intraocular pressure, then you’ve left something out. There’s a memory or a “bit” missing, somewhere. Engage the meta protocol and meta meta protocol and the preliminary/auxilliary practices and outside resources, if necessary, to go and find it. Ideally, do these things long before there’s even the faintest hint of muscle tension, etc. It’s much, much easier for any of that to creep up on you than it is to dispel it.

The end of your world (after adyashanti, maybe?)

Along with that extreme skill and extreme standards, there’s also something needed like courage or bravery.

In some sense, everything you thought you knew about everything is going to be wrong. Things are going to seem pretty normal on the far end, but, holy shit, in the middle, sometimes.

Your deepest assumptions are going to be questioned, and you’re likely going be absolutely shocked, at least a few times.

And some things are going to creepingly seem like horrible, horrible, intolerable “truths” at least at first. Or you’re eventually realize you’re mistaken, or you’ll eventually realize it’s not actually that bad.

But, there’s probably going to be away in which “everything is taken from you,” sometimes figuratively or at least psychologically (or even spiritually; or even literally, if—understandably but tragically—parts of your life get fucked up).

Bravery. Courage.


Beware of decompensated impulsiveness. Don’t cheat on your significant other. Don’t blow up at your friends. Don’t create situations where you need to be saved. Don’t be dramatic. Be exactly as dramatic as you need to be but no more.

Error propagation, wayfinding, grace of what minds are

Holy shit, a lot of warnings here, about things that can go wrong. It’s important to keep in mind, and this has been a lifeline for me, and it’s true, the mind is ultimately reversible. Any “mistake” or mistake the mind has made, whether it was in the first moments of consciousness or a dumbass (as it were; or completely innocent) thing you were doing for two thousand hours in the course of meditation. The mind will ultimately untwist its way to that thing, raise that thing, backchain all the necessary prerequisites, complete those, and then correct the thing. And that’s whether you’re eighteen or ninety. All you need to do is practice correctly, to responsively, methodically, intelligently, intuitively crank. Meditation works because this is what minds are. This is what minds do and this is what meditation does and that’s why we’re doing it.

Error propagation, meditating (or just living) in a way that incidentally or systematically spreads and ramifies errors throughout mind, experience, and behavior is just a thing.

But meditation is also systematic error-correction, problem-solving and backtracking.

Meditation is global wayfinding.

Meditation is not, say, “strength training” or a “faith exercise” (although surrender and faith play a part).

Meditation is unlocking an intricate puzzle box.

Meditation is global wayfinding.

Meditation is wayfinding.


The mind is vast but practically, nonmonotonically, asymptotically finite.

Have you been cranking?

cranking = enacting regular and routine progress; doing the thing

idealized cranking = correct use of the different parts of this document at the correct times, responsively, personally as you concretely work with and through your individual mind

Have you been cranking?

You might also see the “gentle on-ramp”/“onramp” section elsewhere in the document as well as the “meditating by coincidence” section.

Also, some people are turned off by the "crank"/"cranking"/"turning the crank" metaphor. Another way of looking at is with a "learning to play music and playing music" metaphor: The preliminary/auxiliary practices are like playing the scales. The main practices are like playing from sheet music (with personal interpretation). And then after that is improvisation, jazz, riffing, creative, experimental, joyful--maybe "getting somewhere" (cf. "global wayfinding") and maybe not, depending on how conceived and you proceed, on your terms, but the system is changing and changing, always slowly and sometimes quickly.



I claim that one can't just pick a method and push that button until the end. One eventually has to transcend whatever instructions they're doing to find the "real feedback loops and gradients" that the words are trying to point at.

[For what it’s worth], my method is intended to painstakingly direct people to the really real feedback loops they’re actually using to bootstrap them to doing an ever-better thing behind the thing.

  1. The Main practices (abstractly specified, closed set, concretely instantiable in each moment)
  2. Prelim/Aux practices (call out degrees of freedom to feed into the main practices)
  3. Meta protocol (explicit bootstrapping and error correction)
  4. Lists (more calling out degrees of freedom and ways to slice the pie, to feed into the main practices)


Preliminaries and vacations; conceptualization as such

Someone comments (slightly edited):

I’m very interested in the demarcation between meditation and not-meditation (with respect to the instructions not ‘feeling like’ meditation. Can you just basically meditate all the time, by this system, unless you have something else to focus on in specific (job, a game, movie, in-depth conversation, whatever?)


It matters how you think about what you’re doing, how you explicitly or implicitly, reflectively or unreflectively, conceive of what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.

There’s a main practice, below, where one of the components is surrender, reverie, etc. Just as in that practice, where it’s ok to let go, to be lost, to forget, to daydream, to be in reverie, it’s also ok to get lost in life.

So when you’re working, playing, socializing, relating, it’s probably often better to just do that. (Maybe this changes, little by little by little, as one gets very far along, and there are practices, one described below, where it’s possible to explicitly practice with someone. But, 99% of the time, maybe, when meditating, meditate, and, when living, just live.)

Meditating of course happens in an environment, air conditioning, kitchen appliances in the distance, wind, traffic, machinery, conversations in another room. So meditation takes the environment into account. But there’s still sort of a difference between meditating in an environment and living (in an environment), until there is no difference, which never has to be forced.

An electronic dialogue (slightly edited)


Mark 15 minutes ago

to be fair, the protocol doc is me collecting 15,000+ words of highly detailed things to remember, for myself (and others). so there’s that. [in order to eventually “forget” it], to not need it, for it to become an inert pedagogical tool to share with others (edited)


Collaborator 15 minutes ago

i have some new thoughts on the protocol doc

Collaborator 15 minutes ago

nascent thoughts

Collaborator 14 minutes ago

i think you’d agree fwiw …

Collaborator 14 minutes ago

[that] like for a (small?) percentage of minds [the protocol document] will drive them crazy

Mark 13 minutes ago

i’m more inclined to think this than in the past

Collaborator 13 minutes ago

[A long time ago I read a] quote [that] was like, “a meditator will choose the protocol that feeds their neurosis”

Collaborator 13 minutes ago

definitely not saying this is always or even usually the case

Collaborator 13 minutes ago

but like, i can see the ways i’ve gotten stuck * inside * of the protocol

Mark 13 minutes ago


…and then hopefully a protocol is good enough to eventually deconstruct that neurosis…


Collaborator 12 minutes ago


Collaborator 12 minutes ago


Collaborator 12 minutes ago

i think eventually maybe

Collaborator 12 minutes ago

but there might be faster ways

Collaborator 12 minutes ago

jumping into deep ends

Collaborator 12 minutes ago

going to wild parties

Collaborator 12 minutes ago

^ not so much that last one

Collaborator 12 minutes ago

but you get the point i think

Collaborator 11 minutes ago

like i think i have to forget the protocol kind of to proceed

Collaborator 11 minutes ago

which isn’t exactly true

Collaborator 11 minutes ago

i’ll still be following the protocol

Collaborator 11 minutes ago

at least the most important ways

Mark 11 minutes ago

would say that this conversation, this being verbalized, is evidence of protocol at least partially working

agreed that some things will be hilariously ridiculously faster for some people.

“if i’d only done X first” is also kind of a thing. i’m guessing that X usually wouldn’t have had the same effect if it came first.

Collaborator 11 minutes ago

but like, i can see the ways i’ve gotten stuck * inside * of the protocol

but have to deconstruct several layers of how i baked it into my mind

Collaborator 11 minutes ago

partially yeah sure

Collaborator 11 minutes ago

but like wouldn’t have gotten there with just protocol

Mark 10 minutes ago

like i think i have to forget the protocol kind of to proceed

this needs to be more explicit, yeah. it’s near top of list.

Collaborator 10 minutes ago

like i think i have to forget the protocol kind of to proceed

but can’t forget protocol when inside of the protocol

Collaborator 10 minutes ago

or something like that

Mark 10 minutes ago


Collaborator 10 minutes ago

*for some people some of the time (edited)

Collaborator 10 minutes ago

like i still think protocol is Right [Editor: Ahhhh! I’m trying to point in the direction of something Right, “under emptiness.”]

Collaborator 10 minutes ago

and maybe even Ultimate [Editor: Ahhhh! I’m trying to point in the direction of something Right, “under emptiness.”]

Collaborator 9 minutes ago

but like it’s more clear to me how i’ve gotten trapped inside it and it’s assumptions (possibly the assumptions I gave to it)

Collaborator 9 minutes ago

and like how i might just need to go sing and roll in the grass and stuff for a couple months [kind of …, not exactly …]

Collaborator 8 minutes ago

protocol feels very platonic to me

Collaborator 8 minutes ago

or at least my understanding/interpretion of it

Mark 8 minutes ago

the way i’m thinking about it right now is there’s sort of micro-redo-to-undo, which can often be done in the context of main practice p2, conceptualized as such.

and then there’s also sort of macro-redo-to-undo, which can easily involve forgetting about the protocol for a few months to go have desired experiences and experiments. and both may be very necessary. and needing to do that one to twenty times, big macro orbits that forget about the protocol completely and then maybe pick it up again later. (edited)

Collaborator 7 minutes ago

fwiw i don’t think i’ve found anything that you’d disagree with perse

Collaborator 7 minutes ago

like you’ve always given room for going off and doing wild experiments

Collaborator 7 minutes ago

and so maybe i haven’t listened

Collaborator 7 minutes ago

but but

Collaborator 7 minutes ago

at the same time

Collaborator 6 minutes ago

i think there’s some assumption baked into the whole approach/attitude/mind life of protocol (and creator? maybe??) that’s leaking out here

Collaborator 6 minutes ago

some worldview, ontology, something something

Collaborator 6 minutes ago


Collaborator 6 minutes ago

or maybe just my (mis)understanding

Collaborator 6 minutes ago

not clear

Collaborator 5 minutes ago

nap time

Mark 5 minutes ago

like i still think protocol is Right

and maybe even Ultimate

I think the protocol captures something pretty well, albeit, abstractly. but everyone will interpret and reify the conceptual homomorphism in like a slightly different place in their mind. and sometimes may need to indulge discontinuities, like complete vacations, in order to pick it up again in way that’s seated more fortuitously.

Mark 4 minutes ago

i think there’s some assumption baked into the whole approach/attitude/mind life of protocol (and creator? maybe??) that’s leaking out here

for sure, inevitably, even though tried to maximally abstract that out. the vibe of the whole thing. will be my contingencies baked in a various ways. this convo one way of mitigating that to some degree.

Mark 3 minutes ago

@Collaborator Can I paste this into protocol doc with some light editing? Will remove some stuff at beginning of thread.

Mark 1 minute ago

Have been looking for a way to introduce the “healthy orbiting” idea. There’s also “pre-orbiting” where a person does a bunch of other stuff first, evaluating and comparing and maybe eliminating alternatives and complementary practices, as well as maybe refactoring life situation, while only lightly poking at doc, before really digging in. And that can be in stages or back-and-forth, plenty, too. And that’s fine and good.

Mark 1 minute ago

“healthy orbiting and pre-orbiting”

Mark < 1 minute ago

And for some people, there will be something much more direct than analytically deconstructing and insourcing a !5,000+ word document. Or they should do that first for X months or years and then fiddle with the document if they get stuck or something.



The stuff below has a mild and transient version all the way up to an extreme and chronic version. I describe sort of the worst-case scenarios below. In the worst case, you might need to drop everything, or as much as you possibly can, for weeks, months, or longer to solve it, on your own or finding a teacher or teachers who can help. This could be very costly to finances and relationships. If you experience flickers of any of the below, and you likely will, it happens, a lot, it certainly doesn’t mean you’re on your way to a worst-case scenario, but you should treat flickers calmly but with great seriousness. Don’t make seeming “progress” at the expense of even a slight uptick in the direction of any of the below. Again, you will likely skirt the faint or even moderate edges of all this stuff, so don’t freak out, and/but this is all very, very serious stuff.

  1. At the very, very worst, some people will run into extreme 24-7 muscle tension somewhere in their body lasting months if not a couple years. (Some people also have a less terrible version where the muscle tension is only present while actually sitting down to meditate.) That’s fine though super not great at all if it’s in your thigh or something. But, if it’s in your head, then you’ve got significantly increased intracranial pressure or something, depending on how your body downregulates blood pressure or vasodilates or etc. I imagine this could be really risky for someone who is at risk for stroke. Additionally, if it happens in your neck or spine then you could be a risk for nerve root impingement and permanent structural or neuromuscular impairment or other disc injury sequelae. And your sleep could get really fucked up depending on how skillful you managing weird musculoskeletal stuff with pillows. These are real risks. It can mess up exercise, intimacy, finances, daily life, etc. […]

  2. At the very worst, due to weird subtle stuff that you’ll begin experience extreme sensitivity to other people. Like, being around people, working shoulder-to-shoulder with people, being on the phone or video chat with people, sleeping next to someone you care about, will become radically intolerable for some number of weeks or months. This is a real risk. This could destroy relationships both intimate and financial. Due to the same weird subtle stuff, people might come to find being around you to become completely intolerable even if you’re fine being around them. And this as well could destroy relationships both intimate and financial. (To me, this means that meditation and pregnancy or even having kids under eighteen probably don’t mix or mix in risky ways.)

  3. Whether weird subtle stuff or not, your mind is figuring out how to change itself, and that’s a lot of power for a still-dumb mind to have. So we’ll call this interim magnification of negative traits. There is a (possibly quite long) period where self-deception as well as harm to others can very easily increase, where the meditator is blind to it and also really hurt by all the accusations and doesn’t respond to them in a super-constructive way. This will likely be you, especially if you think of yourself as a person who is generally really careful about this sort of thing and/or who doesn’t have the propensity or desire to hurt other people. For more, see here:

  4. So then, finally, there’s emotional and motivational dysregulation, sometimes extreme, e.g. extreme suffering and can’t do anything, for hours or days or even weeks, or even more. How fucking weird and terrible things can get, in the worse case, cannot be overemphasized. And, it goes without saying that this can be bad for relationships and finances. Interestingly, I currently don’t think “psychosis psychosis” [sic] is much of a risk, even when things are super crazy weird, maybe like little flashes that are rapidly corrected, but there’s probably a non-zero risk.

  5. Finally, there’s opportunity cost.

Again, this could break you, this could ruin your life, ruin your mind, ruin your relationships, hurt a significant other, hurt your kids in entire-life-affecting subtle and overt ways, etc.

Transitioning from other practices (re "sharp cutovers")

If you are coming to these practices from many hours of other practices or another lineage, it can be sometimes helpful to deliberately and exploratorily interleave your old practices with new ones, prior to a bootstrap of greater and greater intuition for what to do when and how. (This might be on a timescale of seconds, minutes, hours, days, or weeks. It just depends.)

"Sharp cutovers," where a person leaves an old practice behind, for a new practice, and never touches the old one again, can lead to problems, in part because a person will have to touch the old practices (or their results), again, eventually, in order to make continued progress. And, it's sometimes easier to do that sooner rather than later. (See, in part, the idea of "redo-to-undo," later in the document, as well as the idea of "layering.")

It's like the old practice, depending on how much "undoing" you were already doing, has built up scaffolding, built up more each time one engages the practice. And, it takes some fraction of that time, in the future, to take down that scaffolding (while keeping the benefits). If one switches over to doing a new practice, too soon or too completely, it can leave scaffolding behind that eventually gums things up, later. (Though, you will have the opportunity to clean things up, then, at that later time, of course; it just might be at greater expense. Or(!), you'll have much more experience in the future, and it's much better to just wait to go back (and you may spontaneously find yourself there when it's time, in any case). It all just depends.)

Note also, anyway, that many people should just keep doing something in the space of what they've been prevously doing, for a time, or on and off. The "meta framework" of this document smoothly admits any and all practices (see the preliminary/auxilliary practices, main practice p2, etc.) Many people import practices from other lineages or find those practices already in the document, in some same, similar, or otherwise nearby form. (Eventually one moves beyond "practices" to just step-by-step, concrete, fine-grain doing, a la radically unstructured global wayfinding.)

So, if things feel fine, or going back and forth is confusing and "grindy" it's (maybe very) ok to just cautiously go ahead and trust your felt/intuitive sense of what to be doing (which could be new things or old things or creative mixes or amalgams of the two). This is, at least, just something to keep in mind. You'll eventually return, somehow, to the things you've already done, maybe liminally, at least once, and usually many times.

In any case, it can be helpful to keep in mind that some people are sometimes inclined towards "sharp cutover(s)" in a possibly problematic way.

Environment and subtlety; (more) risks and rabbit holes

[editing note: needs at least some editing to tighten up the point being made and for run-on sentences, at the very, very least. may go for more concrete examples, later, too, along a bunch of dimensions.]

As you dissemble and reassemble your idiosyncratically built up sensory processing system, as it were, choice about where and when you meditate can matter, more some times and less other times, over the long run, sometimes for idiosyncratic reasons and sometimes for more general reasons. Over time, you must come to be able to make good choices about when to modify your environment (time/money/mental/interpersonal cost-permitting) and when to leave it alone (time/money/mental/interpersonal cost-permitting), whether during meditation or just in daily life.

So, environment-wise, systematically or opportunistically, it can be good to try many different things, and to try to discern what makes differences if there are seemingly differences:

You can also get a lot of cheap variety if you’re doing walking meditation, indoors or out and about.

The claim is not that you must spend the time, money, and mental energy for exotic meditation experiences, definitely not that. And, surely, over time, you you want to be able to meditate effectively (and live fully) under a sufficiently wide range of conditions.

[Some environments might be good every once in a while to maybe get unstuck, but are not necessary, and can be prohibitively costly to do regularly: anechoic rooms, flotation tanks and other sensory deprivation chambers, etc. I’ve played with a couple of these a few times, but in no way relied on them. It seemed like a good idea to include them for completeness.]

But, all sorts of weird, counterintuitive things can matter over the short and long run, so it’s good to experiment. At least some of the variables are cheap to manipulate, and other variables can be manipulated opportunistically.

You’ll start to notice subtler and subtler things, which will afford data that might sometimes be interpreted “superstitiously.” So, this is also yet another channel to explore and refine your epistemics, self-beliefs, meditation-beliefs, and cost/opportunity-beliefs, and to generate explanations of apparent influences on your practice, which you might find to be real or illusory, over time, and which you might become more and more robust to, over time, if they are real. (You might also transiently become more and more affected by them, which might be why they became more and more salient to you in the first place, whether for “superstitious” reasons, or not, which would not be unusual, and depends on idiosyncratic factors.)

In any case, sometimes it’s a very, very good idea to meditate when weird right-now distracting or unpleasant environmental stuff is going on. And other times, it’s more productive to seek out different conditions for meditation.

This is yet another area where you may go a little crazy before you go saner than you were before. And, trying to arrange one’s environment, because of believed/experienced effects, those effects may or may not actually being long-run problematic, whether one is meditating or living life, can become costly in way that, for people without the time and money, can be a net life negative.

In response to an earlier draft of this section, a collaborator writes:



You may discover that obvious and non-obvious stimuli have a distracting [or otherwise right-now-believed-to-be negative] effect[s….] And also, you may discover that some of these are chronically present in your environment, which you were not aware of, and you may become convinced they're bad for you, and please don't fuck up your life.



To expand on the don't fuck up your life part, some well-intentioned gaslighting may be in order. Point out meditator's pain which not really about the position of your leg, point out that even ordinarily you will sometimes find a sound intolerable that you live with otherwise, point out that you are already inhabiting the world including these aspects and removing yourself from that comes with trade-offs (morality is the first teaching etc)



By the way I think you really do have a tightrope to navigate here because one of the unique things about this system and this community is all the […] baggage it comes with, positive and negative. Assuming that any sort of spiritual practice will make you start acting like a crazy weirdo for a little bit, I find it much preferable that it goes in the direction of buying an air quality monitor or talking about primal sleeping positions and doing things in the spirit of […] weirdo optimizations rather than […]


Like I blew $200 on that [air quality monitor] and now I wonder about brain damage when […] lights a scented candle

But otoh it's nice to get a ping to crack a window sometimes instead of being distressed that I'm just not feeling smart or energetic today

Mark 1:15 PM


it’s true. both. i think all of it can get integrated and sort of a costless choice to light the candle or not, open the window or not, but possibly crazy in middle and some people won’t have time/money/something to weather the crazy and it won’t be net good for them.

[A] 1:16 PM

Yeah, exactly

Eat less carbs when it's a cheap option because it is legit better, but still outperform when you're on a pasta-based diet

Learn what is orthorexia vs just being right

Mark 1:29 PM

Yeah. One of my ex’s knew me for a health nut and was shocked when I ate a huge Snicker’s bar in front of her. And I was like, well, a few of these will be like they never happened, and, I didn’t have time to cook, and, I know it won’t make sleepy and also I won’t be hungry for hours, and if I eat it all at once and then eat normal food later then it won’t contribute to insulin resistance. And I know I’m going to get some magnesium and potassium (etc.) later, and they have much lower trans fat than they used to, and peanuts are poison but only if you eat a ton for like a whole week or two, and…

And she was like, oh, [aspirationally] reality-based.

And I guess this generalizes to every single damn choice ever.


“now you have n+1 problems before you have n-1 problems” or something.


How to engage with movement? One could think of movement as falling into these categories:

  1. subtle (including postural readjustment; sitting or standing, etc.)
  2. one-off overt movements (including postural readjustment; sitting or standing, etc.)
  3. structured repetitive movement (e.g. tai chi, qigong, slow-walking meditation, dish washing)
  4. unstructured relatively still (standing around, shifting weight, looking around, whatever)
  5. unstructured in motion (walking, jogging, swimming, etc.)

All of the ways of engaging above can be helpful at different times, with varying degrees of “stringency.”

Subtle movement, aliveness, poise (sometimes!) facilitates meditative progress!

Allowing only subtle movement (so suppressing one-off over movements) can make very subtle things more salient.

Allowing one-off, overt movements can help the system get over “humps.”

Structured repetitive movement is sometimes good for getting the benefits of movement as well as keeping the mind just a little bit occupied, in a good way.

Unstructured repetitive movement (e.g. a long walks) tends to draw people into reverie, daydreaming, etc., in a good way.

In general, urges and impulses to move can be deferred, but there’s usually something there that needs to be expressed, eventually, at least liminally. So it can be good to think of suppressed urges or impulses as debt that eventually needs to be paid off. Sometimes it can be good to hold movement in abeyance, to allow important subtlety to become salient. But, sometimes, it’s better just to “move now” because you’ll eventually need to “move later,” anyway.

Structured repetitive movement can be thought of as an optional investment that doesn’t always net pay off. It takes time for such movements to become relatively automatic, such that they can be interleaved with meditation in a way that doesn’t clash and jar with meditation (or thought). For some people, it’s worth the investment, as a sort of delimiting container for meditation, where the movement helps to move things along and there’s just enough room for variation to get over state-space humps. For other people (perhaps most people?), such a container isn’t necessary and can add significant complexity, over the long-run, that isn’t worth it.

Unstructured repetitive movement (e.g. long walks) tends to draw people into reverie, daydreaming, etc., and sometimes people find this initially unattractive if they’re “trying to meditate,” but sometimes reverie and daydreaming are the most important thing to be doing. People need almost as much unstructured reverie time as they do “meditation time,” at least long-run, in order to “go all the way.” Meditation masters take long, aimless walks, with no particular relation to their (body)mind, as long and as often as they have time for, and it’s unwasted time; it’s time well spent, in terms of their values and goals and hopes and dreams, as it were. If you do take long walks, a key piece is “nonvigilance,” and so just make sure you’re in a safe environment, where you can naturally “space out.” People are generally ok, if they’re undistracting strangers at a distance or just passing you on the trail. Cars can be more loud and disruptive, depending, even if you’re safely on the sidewalk.

If it’s hard to “sit down to meditate” or meditation has lately been “immediately going wrong” (in some very loose sense!), then often the right thing to do is to just take aimless walks, for hours and hours. One can also leave open blocks of time to do random chores at home and kind of slowly “back onto the cushion” and hop right back off again if things become problematic.


[section needs editing]

You should be continually cycling through different meditation postures, to vary the kinds of feedback you’re giving your system. This reduces risk, including the risk of muscle tension issues. You might sit and stand in a single day. Or you can sit for three days, stand for two days, be in bed or on the couch for a day, etc. Never trade increased muscle tension for “progress.” It’s not worth it. I personally meditate pretty equally sitting, standing, and lying down (I might do one of these for several days in a row then switch). I do less walking (while “meditating-meditating,” but see below) and yoga asanas. Sort of unrelatedly, but I wanted to add it somewhere, I also alternate earplugs versus no earplugs, blanket or no blanket, sleep mask or pitch black room versus bright room or open space, eyes open versus eyes closed, laying on back, laying on my right side, laying on my left side, etc.

Favorite meditation postures/combinations (unordered): sitting, lying down back/sides, Zhan Zhuang / standing, walking, running/jogging, yoga asanas, eyes open/closed, earplugs +/-, eye shades / complete darkness / pitch black +/-, netflix, amazon video, facebook, twitter, watching blog stats

Ah, also like "erect kneeling", knees on something padded, and otherwise "standing" straight. (If I'm doing standing meditation and my feet start to hurt, I switch between standing and this type of kneeling.) Different postures change salience of different feedback loops. Safer.

Others: leaning with back (butt) against low things like countertops where everything above the lean is unsupported/erect. Leaning back against walls. Finally, sometimes facing wall bracing with hands.

More distinctions: sitting without back support, sitting with back support (still erect), and hella slumped in some comfortable couch or chair in some long-term comfortable way. always mix with erect/unsupported sitting and standing!

more distinctions: sitting on a hard, very flat (parallel to ground, no tilting) surface; sitting on a very firm but nevertheless soft surface (like a big memory foam block)…

Sometimes you may find yourself drawn to particular, idiosyncratic "finger mudras," as well as leg crossings, and/or arm crossings.

Also, E Tai Chi (, custom/ad hoc tai chi, and custom/ad hoc yoga asanas

[Also: ad hoc “internal martial arts” rearranging your weight, rearranging your stance, rearranging your relationship with gravity, rearranging your physical anticipations…]

Also, sort of “upright fetal position”, maybe in the corner of a big chair or couch, with one’s back against the armrest and leaning to the side against the back. I am more likely to stay awake in this position if I’m tired but I can still drift in and out of sleep while meditating, and it’s a different kind of balance than laying in bed.

Also, custom/ad hoc device assisted stretches

Also, ad hoc dancing, bouncing, rocking, fidgeting, stretching, yoga pretzels…

Earplugs can enhance sensitivity to subtle muscle movement and body creaking in head and neck and elsewhere but make sure meditate plenty without earplugs, too.

Long-sleeve clothing, pants (vs shorts/skirts) or blankets reduce subtle air current and temperature changes on skin which can make it easier to attend to other things. (So, sometimes this is good to do and sometimes it’s better to be exposed to the elements.)

Long-run, retrospectively, you might have spent equal time sitting, standing, and laying down while meditating. Sometimes it’s good to switch every day or every hour.

On twitches and posture and readjustments—

Long walks while daydreaming or in reverie could be considered a posture—wandering aimlessly around in safe environments, where you don’t have to be “on,” is also very important, ideally for hours and hours!

Another postural thing to vary: Surfaces from very hard concrete to very soft for standing, sitting, and laying down, for very different kinds of feedback. For lying down: both on back and side, with and without a pillow. You might look into “natural sleeping postures. Firmer head or neck pillows can give better feedback for spotting creeping muscle tension or having it not arise in the first place.”

You should check to make you’re not losing flexibility or that certain physical movements (or patterns of attention) aren’t becoming subtly unpleasant or aversive. Also, barbell weight training and bodyweight exercise is good, too, as another way to check for whether something is off, e.g. if some exercises become aversive or you’re losing strength or less able to transmit power through structure.

If you do unfortunately run into some of the warned-about muscle tension, the below can be helpful. I’d imagine one would only experience likely one of these or zero:

For hand/finger cramps/clenching, a stress ball or a wadded shirt can be helpful to grip or to prevent joint compression.

Laying down with a cradle of pillows can give the neck something to support or push against.

For jaw tension, you might bite down on something or use a mouthguard, some things will better and worse for your teeth and better and worse for jaw alignment.

Generally, if an irritated joint wants to move, having things to squeeze, press against, or slide against can slow things down, reduce currently problematic degrees of freedom and/or increase feedback through resistance or friction.

In summary, it’s good to be able to meditate sitting or standing tall, but it’s also good to be able to arrange your environment when/if that’s the best thing, too.


[book recommendations: feldenkrais awareness through movement, anatomy trains yoga, starting strength, becoming a supple leopard]

Some takes on “perfect meditation posture”:

“Perfect posture” should be explored for the possibility of maximal useful feedback and safety.


Some traditions place great importance on the breath, as an aid to concentration, as a source of interesting observational data, as a way to affect thinking and emotions, as illustrative of the border or lack thereof between doing and non-doing, and more.

Additionally, some traditions place great importance on proper breathing, e.g. abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing, and more.

The methods in this document don’t place great importance on the breath, allowing the breath to correct itself over time. Sometimes it’s ok to deliberately attend to the breath and sometimes one’s attention (or etc.) will be magnetically drawn to the breath. Sometimes attention to the breath will be effortless and non-interfering, and sometimes attention to the breath will seem to “stop” or dysregulate the breath. Sometimes it’s good to gently and deliberately avoid attending to the breath or to forget about the breath as best one can, to let it settle down. And sometimes one might not think explicitly about the breath or “foreground” (or even “background”) attend to breathing for a very long time, and this is fine. Sometimes breathing will be heaving or hitching, and this fine. Sometimes, one might briefly feel like they can only breath deliberately or that they can’t breath at all, and so on.

Long-run, one might barely reflectively attend very much or not at all to the breath, for thousands of hours or indefinitely, or at least do so only as much one might attend to anything else, generally, with respect to body, mind, and environment, etc., “in” the entire “phenomenological field.”

Over time, all things being equal, with “right engagement” and right “non-engagement,” breathing will tend to become ever-more-subtle, over time. This subtlety will be reflected in the barely perceptible use (or non-use) of all breathing muscles, from diaphragm, stomach/belly, chest, shoulders, and more. Sometimes the subtlest changes in posture are all that’s needed for “breathing.”

What’s happening, here, is that breathing has “volitional” components and an “autogenic” component. And, over time, “volitional” components can get habitually convolved with the autogenic components, leading to overbreathing and other kinds of disregulated breathing. Through meditation, volitional components can be “deconvolved” out of breathing, leaving mostly just the autogenic component, which, generally, can take care of itself. (Note that this untangling, “deconvolving,” may involve much of the rest of the system, too, so attention elsewhere than to the breath, may have long-run positive effects on breathing, and so on. It’s a global sort of puzzle, where breathing is only one piece and is indirectly affected, sometimes, by the rest of it.)

Deliberate or stereotyped attention to the breath, breath control (e.g. emphasizing inhalation or exhalation, or panting, belly breaths, even chanting, etc.), over hundreds of hours, can “tangle in” volitional components that need to eventually be untangled. (Sometimes this can be strategic, though, on a person-by-person basis.) Tingly lightheadness, needing to pee very often, issues with throat smooth muscle tone and sleep, can be signs that one is generally overbreathing, because of breathing’s connection to kidney function, autonomic regulation, and more. Aerobic and anaerobic exercise, such as jogging and sprinting, can short-term improve breathing issues, via effects on blood-gas CO2 tolerance. But, long-term, one must deconvolve volitional components from the breathing, as part of the global meditation puzzle.

Note: “attention,” “foreground,” “background,” “in,” “phenomenological field,” are used very loosely in this section and are not technical or ontological commitments


Some traditions emphasize cultivation of altered states, residing in altered states, and/or mastery of altered states.

This meditation system doesn’t place particular emphasis on altered states and is of the position that systematic cultivation is unnecessary. Intermittent, gentle facilitation of potentially spontaneously arising altered states can be important, though. Through application of method, a meditator may spontaneously “stage”/“prepare” for entry into an altered state, “pop into” the state, “do whatever’s necessary” in that state, and quickly or eventually “pop back out.” This can and will eventually, naturally, and spontaneously happen in the course of meditation and doesn’t need to be deliberately cultivated as such. It’s of course generally fine to incline towards interesting or attractive states (perhaps checked against something like the meta protocol) and it’s of course fine to explore and experiment with concentration and tranquility practices.

Deliberate engagement with concentration and tranquility practices can sometimes “burn in” (reversibly!) habits of mind that eventually need to be undone for further progress, which can be a lengthy process. Sometimes light (or even moderate) deliberate cultivation can be strategic, on a person by person basis—many of the preliminary/auxiliary practices suggest concentration-/tranquility-like things to try and experiment with. That being said, there’s a right thing, right time, right way, right dose, gently, sensitively, responsively (with plenty of room for error and backtracking) ethos. And much or quite all of engagement with “altered states” can happen spontaneously and naturally, in the course of practice.


[This section refers to main practice p2, which is discussed in detail at a later time. One can still get a lot out of this section before encountering a full description of p2.]

There’s a particularly notable imbalance that may arise from modernity, which can be lengthy and counterintuitive to correct. And that imbalance is something like “being too in the head,” “acting from the head,” “living, thinking, being, etc. ‘from the shoulders up’ or even ‘the jaw up’.”

Correcting this isn’t as simple as paying more attention to the body or trying to be in the body. Doing body things “out of order” or “monolithically” can even tangle things up more: “Right thing, right time, right place, right order, at a finer and finer grain.”

The protocol as written (well, including this section or not), especially inclusive of the meta protocol, is intended to work as a proper antidote to headiness, implicitly, inclusively, as part of the practice progression as a whole, nothing more to say or add.

But, for some people, saying a little more may be very helpful. The protocol document, as a written/typed document, is, of course, verbal and even hyperanalytical, even if it’s very often pointing at something very undifferentiated, experiential, and sensual. So!—Even more words are written, here, as a corrective to that. :-)

For example, there’s a way that p2 can be initially be done “too much in the head,” too conceptually, “too-conceptually-tangly.” Note that p2 DOES account for this; p2, the other main practices, and the meta protocol do account for this. p2, itself, can and does undo its own potential headiness, all things being equal. But, again, some people might be greatly accelerated or have reduced (physical, or otherwise) sequelae by taking this section into account.

Some people will naturally do/interleave p2 “whole body” (whole everything) and some people, at first, won’t be able to do p2 except for in the head.

Meditation is ever, always, already with the whole body, of course (and mind, and everything)—all of experience, the entire phenomenological field and “envelope.”

Some traditions particularly emphasize this, on the front-end; they explicitly say, “meditate with the body, not with the mind.” This goes beyond even attending to the body or “body scanning,” and is more things like these: “active sitting,” “active ‘just’ sitting,” “just sitting,” meditation through posture, meditation exclusively through continuous postural adjustment, meditation through breathing and continuous effort and non-effort with respect to breathing, and so on.

I would consider these pith instructions incomplete (and the above is a straw and is not intended to refer to any particular tradition). But, in any case, instructions with this sort of flavor can be an overlooked dimension of much contemporary practice. Do explore them; they should probably get added to the preliminary/auxiliary practices (a bunch of them already are).

Again, p2 is “all-inclusive,” pre-conceptual, post-conceptual, trans-conceptual: body, mind, bodymind, head, heart, concept, quality, etc.

And, don’t be TOO concerned about headiness—every meditator in modern culture will rightly spend PLENTY of time in the head, or flickeringly returning to the head, half-second by half-second, one-hundred-milliseconds by one-hundred-milliseconds, maybe interleaved with other things, while using these practices—e.g. as part of “do-to-undo” or “redo-to-undo.” That is, the head (“mind, muscles, and more”) is needed for untangling the head! Trying to do it just with the body will long-run cause more tangling.

So, one shouldn’t avoid the head or be afraid to spend time in the head, as it were. These are just words, the meta protocol and one’s intuition should be a bottom-up guide. And the “lists and more” section breaks down the “landscape” or “playing field” in many different ways, including a great deal of body phenomenology. There are, of course, many relevant preliminary/auxiliary practices, too.

In any case, use words to go beyond words. Use the head to go beyond the head. Don’t let words limit you, or cautions and corrections using yet more words, and so on. And also don’t be afraid of words, and so on. Traverse and/or allow everything, right time, right order, right grain, which is to say, what ever happens, or is happening, is part of the practice.

Below are notes from a call with a collaborator (jd), with further maybe-helpful corrections to the potentially “felt verbal/intellectual vibe” of parts of the document, for some people:

Body, self-trust, sensory processing, meaning

[For this draft, if any single sentence doesn’t make sense, it’s probably ok to skip that sentence and keep reading.]

Deciding when to self-trust can be hard. Frameworks like the Meta Protocol can help. (The meta protocol will be discussed, soon, in a subsequent section.) In addition to protocols, procedures, etc., it can help to think about various dimensions of knowing (and perhaps understanding, and perhaps other things) as a sort of backdrop to self-trust.

One could consider knowing (intuiting, etc.) along at least two axes:

  1. degree of provenance/origin transparency
  2. degree of symbolic versus nonsymbolic representation/“representation” and provenance

The first axis is pointing at something like “knowing where it came from or how it came to be,” knowing the causal history of how you came to know something, as it were. One can imagine “a knowing,” knowledge, insight, something, sort of just appearing in the mind, and you don’t know where it came from or how it got there. One can also imagine, having (or being able to construct) a rich history of all the experiencing and evidence and thinking/figuring/inferring/something of how you came to know/feel/believe some particular thing. This history might be verbal or nonverbal, partial or complete, sequentially accessible or felt “all at once,” sparse-symbolic or richly felt, or a mixture of any or all of these, all at once.

(Note that the “causal history” of some of your knowledge can be very different than, in no particular order, (a) your “current best argument,” either the one you feel like you probably could produce, verbally, at least in bits and pieces, if pressed, or (b) the rich, felt anticipations in your body that are, well, the embodiment of that knowing, or (c) what you might tell yourself about that knowing that you wouldn’t necessarily share with other people, or (d) other phenomenological aspects of that knowing not specified in (abc). To summarize, your current and future states, are different than your previous states, and your current and future states can have different representations (or at least present lack thereof of those representations) of previous states, in degree and type/kind.)

The second axis is maybe a bit more self-explanatory—was the route to that knowing more or less symbolic? Is it’s current form more or less symbolic?

More symbolic routes of knowing might be things like thinking, “figuring,” calculating, inferring, abducting, deducing, writing.

“Medium-symbolic” routes of knowing might be things like verbally describing, “iconically imagining,” simulating, running thought experiments, sketching and drawing on paper. (Perhaps: “multischematic”)

Less symbolic and non symbolic routes of knowing could be things like feeling, sensing, perceiving, gnosis, direct knowing, direct awareness, “expanded awareness,” “listening/feeling for the subtle, distant, faint, interconnected,” intuition. (Perhaps: “innumerable, ineffable, inchoate”)

Both axes (1) and (2) could perhaps be very loosely, messily, and jointly summarized along a single axis from unconscious to explicit:

  1. unconscious
  2. implicit/inexplicit/tacit/felt (less “knowing-feeling”, less “meaning-laden”)
  3. explicit (more knowing-feeling and meaning-laden)

At least in modern times (for some very loose and general definition of modern), we have a habit of privileging explicit knowing and explicit justification. If we don’t have explicit knowing and/or explicit justification (or we don’t feel like we can produce it, or at least bits and pieces of it) it might be harder for us to self-trust (as well as it being harder to navigate the familial, social (and professional) worlds…). We might lose track of goals, lose track of reasons, forget desires, not act on goals and desires, and so forth. We might be more indecisive and act less consistently.

But, the basis of self-legitimate and self-credible self-trust (including, e.g. trusting that we can wield argumentation/justification if/when we ever need to) starts in the prereflective and the intuitive. Consider, the prereflective and intuitive are what choose to wield (explicit) argumentation, even if the producing, wielding, or consuming) of argumenation are things that modulate the prereflective and implicit. One could say that self-trust is constituted by the entire experiential field, which takes into account the present state of the self as well as past, present, and future of self and world.

We can learn to value and to legitimately and credibly trust the implict and intuitive more and more over time. Importantly, even if the provenance of some knowing isn’t “directly accessible,” features of the knowing itself can be used for indirect accessment of value, correctness, etc. (This assessment itself can be intuitive, prereflective, “in a flash,” though it doesn’t have to be. “Nonsymbolic regress” does bottom out, even when symbolic regress does not.)

Importantly, nonsymbolic knowing tends to come with reletively less explicit provenance, but nonsymbolic knowing does tend to come with more rich phenomenology, even when it doesn’t “experientially display” it’s provenance, all at once (and sometimes it does). And that rich phenomenology can still be “used” or experienced in a way that allows one to learn how to properly treat/engage/regard that richness with respect to behavior. And that treatment might be reflective or unreflective/prereflective—“already in motion before you even realize it” turns out to be retrospectively valid, much of the time, and more and more.

The felt, the implicit, the intuitive can be subject to (implicit or explicit) critique or error-checking, just like the explicit. And it can therefore it can be a basis of self-trust.

One can start with little bets, little tests, or just patience to see how an intuition or feeling evolves. You can start with things that are relatively costless, local, impactless, safe.

There are a lot of “negative feedback loops” when playing with intuitive knowing (and correctives will be discussed below).

When one first starts exploring intuitive knowing, one might treat it “almost analytically,” in a way that’s sort of just as “slow and exhausting” as with more explicit knowing. So it can seem not worth it, because it’s “like explicit knowing but even more fragmentary and one can tell even less about what’s going on.”

It can go in the other direction, too—one could accidentally sort of “turn on the tap,” and get flooded with urges, impulses, sensing, illumination, something, that’s overwhelming, far too much, that one doesn’t know how to shut off, let alone interpret or trust.

Part of problem, here, is that there’s sort of a whole additional dimension to all of this, that gets overlooked, because it’s so counterintuitive and time-delayed.

While overlooked, it’s sort of also a cliche at this point: And that is… the body.

So, regarding the body, there’s yet another way to slice things:

  1. symbolic knowing (knowledge involving symbols)
  2. nonsymbolic knowing/thinking/etc.
  3. meaning-laden sensation (and “imagination”)
  4. non-meaning-laden sensation (and “imagination”)

The line between (2) and (3), nonsymbolic knowing and meaning-laden sensation is a bit blurry. Also, it’s worth calling out that symbolic knowing doesn’t exist without nonsymbolic knowing (and perhaps meaning-laden sensation) somehow being present, simultaneously.

In any case, the entire discussion above, in this section, so far, has been loosely referring to (1-3) but not 4. And, people typically ignore non-meaning-laden sensations unless they’re particularly salient—hunger, thirst, pain, sensuous stretching, sexual pleasure, orgasm, etc. But, the rest of the time, we don’t pay attention to body sensations very much. (One could further subdivide (1-4) according to whether their “valence” is (a) pleasant/pleasurable/attractive versus (b) unpleasant/noxious/etc versus (c) neutral…but things complexify when considering “hurts so good” phenomena, from delayed-onset-muscle-soreness, after exercise, to BDSM.)

Attending to non-meaning-laden body sensations might feel like a waste of time, annoying, or even terrifying if it draws someone into the “here and now,” and they don’t want to be there, for whatever reason.

(I want to call attention to a particular concern that people sometimes have, when body sensations are discussed. People sometimes wonder if they’re going to get the advice (or have it unspoken but heavily implied) that they’re supposed to walk around paying attention to body sensations for the rest of their lives in some “mindful” but distracting and even pointless-feeling way. Don’t worry, that’s not where we’re going with this.)

In any case, let’s talk theory, for a moment. I’ve been using the word “sensation” loosely. One might also use terms like apprehension, perception, and interpretation and so forth. Let’s be a little more careful, here. One could imagine a human “sensory processing pipeline” starting with “raw perception” or “raw sensaton,” that’s perhaps almost immediately processed and interpretated (or, even, is never “uninterpreted, in some sense), and then that “data” participates in higher- and higher-level “processing,” perhaps while still being “non-meaning-laden,” and then, at some point, through perhaps some opaque process, this “sensory data” tips over into participating in “meaning-laden inference and knowing” (whether unconscious or conscious).

Provsionally assuming some kind of pipeline like that, I want to offer an immediate correction, which is something like, non-meaning-laden sensation and minimally-symbolic knowing, or some sort, are paired, almost instantly, at the beginning of the processing stack. Almost as soon as there’s sensation, there’s rudimentary (or not) knowing about that sensation, even if we’re not consciously aware of it. (This may be quite a bit different than, say, one of Daniel Ingram’s schemas, that may look superficially similar, just FYI.)

So, this may make immediate sense because, there’s plenty of sensation and noise going on, all the time, only a small portion of it making it (“all the way up”) into consciousness, for example if it’s (maybe subliminally) surprising or about something possibly dangerous. And that sort of “meaning-laden” decision-making needs to start before it’s conscious. We learn over time what to filter from consciousness and what to promote to consciousness, and this is getting sculpted in real time, all the time, and the sculpting process itself (or at least its real time effects) are sometimes unconscious and sometimes conscious. (I might say “sometimes unreflective” and “sometimes reflective,” depending on how we’re precisely using all these words, and whether something can be “conscious” without our being aware of it or at least remembering being aware of it, and so on, and so on.)

Ok, so, again, anyway, there’s this (massively parallel) “pipeline” that has both a non-meaning-laden and a meaning-laden component much earlier than is typically consciously obvious.

And, let’s add a few more pieces:

  1. Any stage or branch of the (massively parallel, branching and joining) processing pipeline can be “raised” and “lowered” into and out of consciousness.
  2. When pipeline stages/branches are raised into consciousness they are and can be “refactored,” both the non-meaning-laden sensory processing as well as the meaning-laden component, as well as the relationship between the two. (This refactoring “interwingles” with local and adjacent sensory memory that has previuosly been processed by that part of the pipeline. In some sense, that sensory memory is constitutive of the pipeline.)

A qualifier: When I say “any” stage of the pipeline, there may still be some prior “never conscious” stage of sensory processing, of course, especially looking at the neurophysiology, but it sure can practically feel like one can be directly conscious [being philosophically loose, here] of the very first wiggle of one’s sensory neurons, ear hairs, retina, etc., and anything “after” that.

Another qualifier: “Raising” and “lowering” isn’t “separably direct;” it’s a highly constrained “puzzle” over the course of thousands and thousands of hours. For example, to raise “piece” X, when might need to raise and lower thousands and thousands of other “pieces” in a complex order, in order to “get to” X. And raising and lowering can seem very indirect—it’s “tied” to “the movement/change of attention/awareness” in nonlocal ways. That is, “attending” to something, somewhere may influence raising and lowering “elsewhere.”

Another qualifier: “Raising, lowering, depth, up, down, etc.” not to mention “pieces, pipes, parts, branches” are all leaky abstractions or a less-well-differentiated complexity. There’s some sense in which the brain and/or mind is, not only massively parallel, but also “flat” (and/or its activity is simultaneously reconstituted, all in parallel, in a periodic pattern). Don’t sort of inapproriately reify any of this! Phenomenology-first, as it were!

In any case, for whatever reason, the non-meaning-laden components of the sensory processing pipeline tend to be more salient to us, especially when we’re deliberately paying attention to sensations, making paying attention to sensations often seem dumb and pointless.

But, provisionally given the above, we can see that body sensations are already, in some sense, meaning-laden, even if they don’t seem to be, and body sensations heavily influence meaning-making (of course, but perhaps much more so than is initially intuitive). Further, body sensations, in some sense, influence the sensory processing pipeline itself as well as the process of meaning-making itself—what we even might usually think of as hardwired cognition or even hardwired intelligence, itself. Body sensations are the first step in sort of sculpting and meta-sculpting everything, all the time. Very little is hardwired—I always say the mind is 99% software and 1% hardware, metaphorically. I’m not doing a good job of unpacking it in this section, but, in some sense, our minds are nothing more than all the experiences we’ve ever had—and through memory and imagination we can have any experience. And, add two more pieces: the mind is practically lossless (in that any distinguishable sensory memory can be ultimately recovered) and that the mind is simultaneously “utterly malleable” (even while being lossless!). And, so then, the degrees of freedom for a mind are just cosmologically vast, with no prior way of thinking/feeling/behavior set in stone. Note that cosmologically vast doesn’t mean arbitrary or unconstrained! The “envelope” is nevertheless highly, highly constrained and going from state to state is exquisitely path-dependent, as mentioned above. This gives gods-eye-view-predictable-and-repeatable meditation journeys, with a wide variation in concrete details and asymptotic well-fittedness to whatever situations people might find themselves in.

So, in any case, paying attention to body sensations is important. But, there are some practical “buts.”

First, one shouldn’t necessarily focus exclusively on, say, “body” sensations, or, rather non-meaning-laden sensory inputs or sensations of any kind. The entire experiential envelope participates in the sensory processing pipeline, as it were (including feedback loops, whether non-meaning-laden, obviously meaningful/knowing or not)—

The order in which one does everything matters. There will be tremendous interleaving of “attention”/awareness in different “locations” (from body to meaning to etc.) typically, but not always, at a finer and finer grain.

Second, paying more attention to the body is sort of a phase (which could be repeating, which could be sort of periodic, spiraling, nonmonotonic). It’s sort of like, most people are “in their heads,” and have sort of “built up body awareness (or lack thereof)” suboptimally. And, so, there will be a period of “re-attending” to things (body, memories, sensory field) in the right order, which will refactor the pipeline, including awareness of sensations, cognition, meaning, everything. And, during that refactoring, a bunch of things can become salient that sort of “need” to temporarily become salient, because of path-dependent change, and, over time, things will sort of “reflow,” and most body sensations (and other sensory processing) will once again become relatively less salient, and/but everything will be working better, from sensory processing to cognition.

So, it’s less “I need to pay attention to the body much more, and for the rest of my life” and more, “I need to carefully, correctly, perhaps extensively but in the right way and the right order, pay attention to the body so as to be able to forget (and enjoy) the body when I want to, along with all sorts of other good things, happening.” And, it’s less “top-down attending” and more “obliquely doing whatever’s necessary to have body attention be prereflective and automatic in ways that it’s not already but could be.”

So, this was ridiculously roundabout, but, the basis of self-trust is not just in intuition (which can’t get trapped in infinite regress, among other things) but in the body (and sensory field). Attending to the body, in the right way and in the right order (interleaved with other things, including reverie and plenty of thinking), eventually refactors intuition, making it prereflective, broadband, and powerful, and also refactors even the intellect (as well as preflective sensory processing and much more). This includes more and more resolution of inconsistencies, contradiction, contention in behavior, antcipation, cognition, “belief,” and more.

In some ways, self-trust is the resolution of just enough inner conflict and the acquisition of just enough (inner and wordly) skill that one is confident that they can resolve and acquire all the rest, in a way that’s safe enough and good enough for themselves and others.

And part of that, and only part, is very counterintuitively attending to the body (and plenty of other things) for an accumulating thousands of hours, where it may initially seem like almost nothing is happening at all, and for long stretches after, even after some things do start happening. And, with tools like the meta protocol (or in the spirit of the meta protocol), one can more quickly bootstrap confidence and self-trust that the process is working. And that self-trust can quickly extend to other areas of life and self-trust in general. (And experimenting and living in the world is of course also an important component of [gaining] self-trust as well part of the whole point.)

Something not explicitly noted in the above, but implicitly there, is that, at least locally, the mind is always spontaneously doing the right thing. (Choose some evolutionary, physical, or cosmological theory, here.) And the mind can net-globally do the right thing, too, especially if context and preconditions are set up just a hair on the side of sufficiency. And this is why, with a few inputs, just a little “grace” (which is usually bad and good mixed together) like mixed-bag mentors/“mentors” and/or mixed-bag meditation instructions, the whole mind (and one’s entire life) can kind of unwind and rewind itself in retrospectively and prospectively desired and endorsed ways. And this sponteneity of (body)mind, is the ultimate basis of self-trust.

But is it meditation? (a dialogue between J and Mark)


a couple more things that come to mind maybe for future versions. excuse the ramble-i-ness

do you think it could be useful/important to table set a little bit? something along the lines of (but not necessarily this, just something in this direction): this will likely feel different from previous meditation you’ve done, if you’ve done some. i think past versions had something like this. and kind of for the reason I mentioned in […]: I could see people spending a fair amount of time trying to shoehorn this practice into their prior conception of what meditation practice is. i guess p2, p8, and p1 stand a good chance of addressing this directly without it having to be written out. i wonder how useful or not some making this explicit would be. :thinking_face:

and i also wonder if there’s some basic basic theory of mind that is good to mention right off-the-bat. it may very well not be a good thing, i’m not sure. here’s the kind of theory that might be good imo, for example:

there’s like some kind of universal gradient/basin/attractor that the mind/brain is always, always, alway, always trying to fall down. one single direction, which might be why correct meditation works elegance, free energy minimization, dunno


how the mind is really smart in some ways, sometimes/often moreso than the “personality” (i might be butchering the thing but that’s how i remember it)

and lots of little related things like this

for example wrt to the above, knowing stuff like this has made it easier for me to trust that the right things are happening at times, or trust that my mind can do good things, and stuff like that. depending on the models of mind people are running on i could expect there to be a lot of self fighting and self flailing and not self trusting in ways that might be bad. for example, if you’re coming from a tmi practice you might believe that your mind is this thing you need to wrangle, that you know better than, stuff like that. little bits of theory like this could help people understand how the practice works, why it’s different than practice they’ve done before, and possibly have the needed faith to try it out for 100+ hours

J continues

The way I've been orienting to [this protocol versus other meditation protocols] myself recently is not through the meditation frame (though it is that and becomes that feel again eventually) but through the "going all the way to the bottom and from first principles as it were figuring out how to use a mind" frame, or something in the ballpark of that (edited)

It just cuts through a lot of the "is this meditation", or "am I doing the right thing" stuff, if you forget about meditation for a couple months and pretend it's not that, or something (At least in my experience)

I guess this is a bit of a tangent now


Cool. It is really different than [other] meditation [procedures] in a lot of ways. […]


yeah. i definitely think it is meditation. i'm probably being critically unappreciative, but there's a way in which other meditations are more narrow/constrained and this stuff is still meditation but wholeheartedly takes on the whole mind and every part of it. maybe it's all the same in the limit or something.

the concern is that i think i probably spent something like 50 - 100 hours (total total total total total ballpark) trying to make [this protocol into] what i understood to be meditation, or at least hours where this was on my mind and undermining practice, in a way. and even afterwards there have been and has been threads in my mind like "huh this doesn't feel like meditation so i must be doing something wrong". of course i think a lot of this is par for the course and part of tacking towards good and tacking towards better models of mind and meditation. like why does it feel wrong? why is one thing more meditation than another? but maybe with the right upfront expectation setting there's a way to just nip the shoehorning in a bud and save people time (edited)



trying to make this what i understood to be meditation

how does that look? can you say more? want to innoculate (and i'm sorry)


so after like n years knowing about tmi and noting and related practices, i had implicit models about how meditation works. the general general shape of the model was something like: your mind is a tool/machine, and you need to make it sensitive tool/machine such that one day it can finally pick up on some details of experience that lead to insight. step 1) develop powerful tool [powerful experienced as stable in the case of tmi, and perceptive in the case of noting]. step 2) use tool to examine reality

importantly nowhere in this model was there a sense that meaningful progress was being made up until the point of insight (edited)


so like train tool/build microscope, then use microscope? does that simplify it too much?


nope that's pretty much exactly it


hmm k


i'm guessing this is common, but i'm not positive


i think ingram sort of implies this


and there was a model for what made a good microscope too


like if you just use your microscope enough


i think it was the model of what i thought made a good miscroscope that was especially problematic


so then ppl like spend 1000 hours examining the blobs behind their closed eyes

i think it was the model of what i thought made a good miscroscope that was especially problematic

say more?


sure. and eventually we should try to figure out why it is possible to have success with that metaphor. like, is it success in spite of the misconception? or is something else happening? [and ofc not everyone does have success and stuff]


like, is it success in spite of the misconception?

i currently think so

noting is close enough that people can slip into doing the right thing, especially with a teacher who succeeded


so as mentioned with both noting and concentration, even tho the skills are different, what a successful microscope looks like in both cases involves something in the ballpark of mindfulness or "with it ness"

"with it ness" that builds up into long interrupted stretches of "with it ness" over time

and so if you're doing one of these practices it's getting into one of these stretches that makes it feel like you're finally doing it right

"fuck, i'm really with the breath." or "fuck, i'm really with these vibrations"

something about sustained continuity of a thing over time seems to be the thing


so like almost indiscriminately maxing out continuous contact with bare sensations, sort of?

i guess that's what you said


yeah yeah that's in there too

and with this stuff, it doesn't seem like striving for uniterruptedness is important (until it happens on it's own), and it seems like there's plenty of room for non purely sense stuff too


(noting that i myself thought exactly all of this. pretty much exactly.)



and so it didn't really feel like i was developing a microscope


ah, ok


yeah. even people who ahven't meditated before often have a model as it being about "no thinking", or "staying with the present"-ness all of [that] is distinct from [this protocol]

(noting that i myself thought exactly all of this. pretty much exactly.)

oh cool! affirming yay




Actually I just kind of remembered something funny. I remember at SFDC in the fall with Shinzen, you were telling [S] and I something like, "I think the updates that happen leading up to streamentry are as important as streamentry". And I remember internally thinking: "what do you mean updates before streamentry??" In quite a literal sense I thought streamentry was like a single belief toggling from off to on (preceded by no updates of significance).

I think this sort of all or nothing thinking is quite common.

[… I]t also bounced off in the most important way because I had no mental model of how practice could work that would have being patient, locally-oriented, not obsessed with the supramundane as being the correct strategy. The reaction was something like, "ok […] that's very cool […] but there's still this streamentry insight waiting for me out there and nothing will be good until that"

So yeah, in many ways, I think for many meditators and nonmeditators, a very big update will be that updates happen along the way and the mind gets better and more liveable along the way. and what a relieving update too. being super explicit and not at all sidelining this (as you're doing) will go a long way to that end.

For this all to work, for the claim that updates happen along the way to be credible, one need's a place for those updates [i.e. mundane insights] to live.


I'm sure all of [other] teachers would claim that "things are supposed to get better along the way, and if they're not, you're missing the point." But I blame their implied models of mind and implied models of progress! You can claim that "things are supposed to get better along the way" but if you're not providing the right model of mind/progress or otherwise really really emphasizing it, it's just going to bounce out of students brains and sound like hollow wishful thinking or something. So in summary heh: good models of mind and progress are super duper helpful and consequential to practice


Meta practice

Meta protocol

v1.7 (Last updated: 2020-07-20; 05:06 CDT)

  1. Notes

    • Note that you can also interleave/weave these questions (or the spirit of these questions) with[/into] a main meditation practice as you're doing it.
    • Don't force the questions below. If you're mind doesn't want to answer them, then don't make your mind answer them.
    • You don't need to get complete answers or verbal answers to the questions. Just good-faith try/intend to answer, being willing to release the how of how you're getting the answer or answering. When in doubt, let go and start over or let go completely. Let your mind have time and space to answer the questions however it wants. The mind might answer by doing something rather than answering the question, specifically.
    • You don't need to ask the questions below verbally or discretely, though it's good to experiment with that first. You can also cast your mind over the questions or the memory of the questions, sequentially, semi-sequentially, or all together, all at once. Try to vary how you're accessing the questions, verbally/sequentially versus all at once, and the degrees in between.
    • There is a "meta meta protocol" [sic] which is applying this protocol to itself. There are contextually better and worse ways to use this meta protocol and there are better and worse interpretations of how to use it. The "meta meta protocol" can help you move towards better and better interpretations and uses.
    • Note that the meta protocol can be used for other things besides meditation, such as problem solving, planning, or really anything, mental or physical.
    • Lots of things have the “flavor” or spirit of the meta protocol, without looking exactly like the below. You might feel like you’re “not doing the meta protocol” but you actually are! Any time you’re wondering whether you doing the right thing, or if a good or bad thing happened, or you’re asking other people and dialoguing about it—that’s “going meta.” It doesn’t have to have the exact form of the below and it doesn’t have to be done explicitly.
    • You might simply ask, what are all the options/affordances, here, and which might be good right now to pick?
    • Intuition! Feeling! Body! You can ask the questions with the body, the mind, or the bodymind, or anything, or everything. And you can listen/feel for answers with the body, the mind, or the bodymind, or anything, or everything.
  2. Retrospective Evaluation of Happening and Doing

    • Happening
      • What is currently generally happening when you meditate?
      • What of that is in some sense seemingly contextually good, as far as you can currently tell? How did you come to have this/these impression(s), as far as you can currently tell?
      • What of that is in some sense seemingly contextually bad, as far as you can currently tell? How did you come to have this/these impression(s), as far as you can currently tell?
      • What of that are you currently unsure of whether it might be contextually good or bad? How might you come to know better what of that is contextually good or bad?
    • Doing
      • What do you currently generally do when you meditate?
      • What of that is in some sense seemingly contextually good, as far as you can currently tell? How did you come to have this/these impression(s), as far as you can currently tell?
      • What of that is in some sense seemingly contextually bad, as far as you can currently tell? How did you come to have this/these impression(s), as far as you can currently tell?
      • What of that are you currently unsure of whether it might be contextually good or bad? How might you come to know better what of that is contextually good or bad?
  3. Dyadic Tight Feedback Loop 

    • Online Data Collection, with an Observer/Coach/Consultant/Friend:
      • As you’re meditating, simultaneously interleave verbal reporting of (a) what’s happening and (b) what you’re doing, all of this just as best you can and makes sense. So, as best you can and makes sense, don’t force anything, you can’t do it wrong, what’s happening and what are you doing? Start now.
    • Offline Analysis, While Taking a Break from Meditating:
      • What of that was in some sense seemingly contextually good, as far as you can currently tell? How did you come to have this/these impression(s), as far as you can currently tell?
      • What of that was in some sense seemingly contextually bad, as far as you can currently tell? How did you come to have this/these impression(s), as far as you can currently tell?
      • What of that are you currently unsure of whether it might have been contextually good or bad? How might you come to know better what of that was/is contextually good or bad?
      • For what’s seemingly contextually good, as far as you can currently tell, how might or will you keep doing it? And under what conditions might it or might it not be good to stop, if ever?
      • For what’s seemingly contextually bad, as far as you can currently tell, what might or might not be good to do about that, and when or under what conditions, as far as you can currently tell?
    • Offline Generative, While Taking a Break from Meditating:
      • How are you currently coming to know, or, how might you come to know, about additional possibly contextually good things to do, that you’re not currently doing, or not doing at all the times they might be good to do, or have never done before, as far as you can currently tell? What are some things you’ve never done before that might be good to do, as far as you can currently tell? How might you come to do those possibly good things at possibly good times, as far as you can currently tell?

Meta meta protocol

[minimally edited placeholder transcript; 1:1 message reply] I want to do something like not over or under sell the meta protocol, like, one thing that's important is that one should sort of also apply The Meta protocol to itself so sort of a Meta Meta protocol, and I'm sure there's better and worse ways to kind of weave it into the meditation practice itself.

I know that it's as you know, it's sort of written as like a separate thing, but you picked up immediately—I’m doing the same thing where I'm sort of naturally weaving the spirit of it into the main practice itself in terms of—that was not under selling it—but there's also a thing about not overselling it.

I've recently hammered: meta protocol, meta protocol, meta protocol. I think that's right, and I did say, like, “If non-forcily available” because it can be a thing that’s not good for the mind to do at particular times. And I think that'll be like pretty obvious; the mind just sort of won't be able to do it or it'll feel forcy or effortful so one shouldn’t, just like everything else.

It shouldn't be forcy, as with the main practice. One is interpreting the instructions and applying them in contingent idiosyncratic ways at least in some ways. So this is where the Meta Meta thing comes in.

As with the main practice, let go, hold it loosely, experiment; don’t prematurely reify ontological elements or commitments that seem to be implied by the text.

Solo practice (“main protocol”)

Preliminary/auxiliary practices

[See also the preliminary/auxiliary practices random sampler.]

The preliminary/auxiliary practices are sometimes useful to explore before and concurrently with the main practices, especially main practice p2.

These practices won’t take you all the way and can even tie you in knots, but they can get things going and sometimes unstick things. They are presented in no particular order.

Consider creating for yourself and/or submitting your own preliminary/auxiliary practices for inclusion in this document. Submission could be very useful to other people. If you wished that it had been here, instead of you needing to discover it, or you just think it’d be useful to other people, please submit. Preliminary practices are intended to be unsystematized, ad hoc, a little bit vague, brief, and jargon-free. Ideally they are titled with a short, imperative phrase, but that isn’t necessary. Your submissions will be indicated by your initials or pseudonymous initials (please choose/indicate).

[People besides me who've submitted preliminary/auxiliary are credited with parenthetical initials. Sometimes other people help with significant curation as well, including (h) and others. If a parenthetical initials contain an asterisk, then the original submission has been lightly modified in some way.]

Don’t take these too seriously. Don’t reify them. They might or might not point to deep, metaphysical truths. If they happen to, it’s probably not in the way you initially think. You might or might not have to intermittently throw some or all of these away, forget them, in order to make progress.

You don’t have to do all or any these. Eventually you’ll throw almost all of them away, or at least they’ll be essentialized and seamlessly convolved with so much.

Something being in a preliminary/auxiliary practice isn’t committing to any particular ontology. Take these as experiential games, dialogues between words and experience, physical or mental action and result.

Contemporary meditators sometimes dismiss the preliminary/auxiliary practices (and sometimes, based on this, the entire document/protocol), because they seem "too intellectual" or "too conceptual." There's a few things to say, here. First, experimenting with versions of these that do sometimes tend to be too "top-down," too "heady"/conceptual/intellectual, at first, can help the system learn how to do "bottom-up"/automatic/spontaneous versions. Many of the p/a practices are pointing at phenomena that spontaneously precede insights.

Contemporary meditators sometimes also dismiss preliminary/auxiliary for being "too therapeutic." If meditation is the total transformation of (body)mind, then anything is fair game and potentially relevant, and ordering matters. Sometimes a meditator will be "stuck," then go talk to a therapist about something seemingly unrelated, and then be "unstuck" in their meditation practice. To the degree that a meditator can be "unstuck" "on the cushion", their practice will precede more systematically and efficiently. It's all the same system, and "mundane" insights can bottleneck "the big stuff" as viewed through traditional maps or contemporary lenses.

All that being said, sometimes the long list of preliminary/auxiliary practices can just seem paralyzingly overwhelming. "Do I have to do them all?" No! Explore the ones that look interesting or resonant. You will generalize from these. If you get bored or you're not "stuck," don't use them. The idea is to do just enough that you begin to generalize towards finding new degrees of freedom and the right high-dimensional, deeply personal and situated things to do, on your own. Eventually the mind becomes fully self-generative and "omni-directional." The preliminary/auxiliary practices are intended to facilitate that bootstrap, not to be a laborious and exhaustive set of practices that need to be completed before moving on.

An analogy used elsewhere is that the preliminary/auxiliary practices can be thought of as playing the scales, as in when learning to play a musical instrument. It's not a perfect analogy, but it might be a helpful one. One doesn't play all possible scales and one doesn't want to mistake the scales for sheet music performance or jazz. Though, sometimes, they're an excellent and helpful/healing/something thing to do.

Most people aren't exercising all the degrees of freedom of their minds--there's a way in which it can be hard to see all the different things one might do in any particular moment. (The "all you see is all there" bias.) Lists like can help people to fill out their "missing degrees of freedom." Almost everyone has a speckle pattern of blind spots, for things they could do but don't spontaneously think of doing, at times where it'd be helpful (e.g. in daily life, or in reflection, or while journaling... or while doing p2!)

Further, "generalization" runs "deep," to ever-finer things one might do with ever-finer nuance and variation. Again, one eventually goes "beyond" the preliminary/auxiliary practices, though even "meditation masters" will dip back into the list, every so often, for all sorts of reasons.

(Degrees of freedom and fine-grain-ness have relationships to the classical concept of "pliability.")

Finally, for any given person, sooner or later, they will experiment with a preliminary/auxiliary practice and find that it's jarring, grindy, disruptive, something. Not all practices will be net good for people at all times, and plenty will be potentially detrimental. (Maybe only a tiny, different fraction of them will be useful for any particular person.) As one progresses in meditation, less and less "top-down" or "random" "mental actions" (not to inappropriately reify anything of that) will be useful! It's ok to put preliminary/auxiliary practices down and never pick them up again (or to never try some of them at all, ever), and so on.

Meditation is global wayfinding. Everything you do changes you. Have every degree of freedom at your disposal in the service of better and better--the right things, in the right order, at the right time, ultimately beyond reason and conception (though reason and conception are still good, before, sometimes during, and after).

If the list is overwhelming, the meta protocol can help bootstrap intuitive navigation and selection of practices, from the preliminary/auxiliary practices and of course what to do, when, with respect to the entire protocol. It's ok to choose randomly and experiment. There is time. It's included in the "10,000 hours."

Again, the preliminary/auxiliary practices are sometimes useful to explore before and concurrently with the main practices, especially main practice p2.

Do less

If you happen to find yourself doing something, and you can stop doing it, and it’s ok or good to stop doing it, then allow this stopping to happen or participate in that stopping happening.

[This prelim/aux practice, and many of the others, are intended to be done while sitting quietly, but they can be adapted to other contexts.]

Sense now

Deliberately, in ways that are ok or good and safe, attend to and be aware of, consciously experience, sensations as such and know that that’s what you’re doing while you’re doing it.

Sense meta

For a feared possibly true thing, if it’s safe enough and good enough to do so, be like what if that really/actually is true? Really play it up, get behind it, prime the pump, try to convince yourself it is indeed true, reach for your best feel of that really being true, allow yourself to fall into the world where it is true, take that leap and ride the wave wherever it takes you.


Be, like, huh, that’s funny, huh that seems weird, huh why do/did I think that?

Be moved

To the degree you can allow yourself, to the degree you feel it’s safe or safe enough to be moved, to just find yourself doing/moving/vocalizing/twitching/acting/dramatizing/being/expressing/enacting/reenacting/feeling/dreaming/wanting/desiring/indulging, and to allow it to continue, to go with it, to go with the flow of it, do so.

Have experience

As it is ok to be lost in movement, thought, or reverie. It’s also ok to be lost in sensation as it happens, e.g. in music or visual beauty or conversation or sex or other sensuality, etc. And it’s also ok if you can’t do this or it never (yet) happens.

Feel your body


Feel your feelings


Relax muscles

Thus or e.g. experiment with “progressive relaxation.”

Feel more

Explore ways to change your posture, relax your muscles, let your chest and torso and stomach soften, etc., in a way that facilitates feeling your feelings and body sensations more easily or possibly more intensely and to possibly have more sensations become present.

Feel what feels good and bad and neutral

Deliberately seek out positively valenced feelings and/or other sensations. Deliberately seek out negatively valenced feelings and/or other sensations. Deliberately seek out neutrally valenced or unvalenced sensations.

Explore what you (seem to) know, understand, expect, and remember

Explore what you know. Explore your understanding of things. Explore your memories.

Put things into words, slowly, and maybe revise

Thus; and consider writing by hand when you’re doing this.

Say or think truth

Verbalize a seemingly relevant seeming truth. [sic] Repeat.

Explore how you’re thinking


Explore how you’re believing


Explore how you’re expecting


Attend to things and sensations



Imagine or simulate something, involving the use of visual imagery, if possible.

Move grossly the “attention/thinking” muscles

Deliberately move your eyes, jaw, tongue, head/neck, glottis, lips, palate.

Notice and light move/influence the subtle “attention/thinking” muscles

Notice, and possibly lightly influence subtle muscle activity and subtle sensation of the eyes, jaw, tongue, back of the neck, back of the head, glottis, lips, palate.

Interrupt thought

Interrupt or suppress thought or other mental activity, or catch it/them before it/they start(s) via (smooth/abrupt switching to) attending to things/objects or sensations or awareness of now or the present moment as such/being in the moment. Interleave or switch between thinking/imagining/reverie, interrupting thought, attending to locations on or in the body, and feeling your feelings.

Be breathed

Release the voluntary component of your breathing as much as possible and let involuntary breathing take over.

Interrupt anything

Interrupt, suppress, distract from, switch from an emotion, a response, a reaction, a feeling, an urge, an impulse, a craving/thirst, a thought, inner verbalizing, reverie, automaticity, movement, an intention, a train of thought, pursuit of a particular goal, a local plan, attention to a sensation…

Concentrate perfectly on something

Pick a sensory object, e.g. a visual patch, and reflectively attend to it. Don’t just look; see. Don’t just touch; feel. Don’t just listen; hear, etc. Notice subtle or gross wavering or interjection.

Be here, now

Thus and notice subtle or gross wavering or interjection.

Just this

Incline towards in the seeing, just the seen; in the hearing, just the heard, etc.

Do deliberately

Do something deliberately.


Consider or say something, anything new. Or experience what comes prior to that, liminally verbally or completely nonverbally.


Find something that was true, meaningful, or coherent, that becomes untrue or nonsensical when you consider it anew or when reflectively considered for this first time.


Create or find a sentence, assertion, or statement with a blank. Incline towards filling in the blank.

Wonder about something


Pose a question

Pose a complete, well-formed question. You might right write it down and refine it.

Incline towards answering a question

Pick a well-formed question. Incline towards answering it.

Find a disendorsed belief

Find and be aware of a batshit crazy, schizophrenic, ugly, mean, fantastical, from childhood belief or “seeming-ness” that you’d rather not have/believe/experience. For now, just allow it to be or see if it naturally changes.

Notice yourself talking to yourself

Notice yourself talking to yourself, the reminding, convincing, suggesting, denying, etc. For now, just allow it to be or see if it naturally changes.

Notice the experience of other-ness

Notice other/alien/foreign/friend/enemy/parental/sibling/group/communal/cultural/global voices and impulses in you.

Notice “feared truth”

Notice a “feared truth” (or the “shadow” of one), something that would be terribly bad or would have terribly bad implications or ramifications if it were (definitely/decisively/actually) true.

Reason with yourself

Agnostically, impartially, gently, infinitely patiently, non-coercively reason or dialogue with yourself.


Attend to a “random” spot on or in the body.


Attend to a “random” sequence of spots on and/or in the body, the sensory surround, or knowing or meaning or anything.

Bodymind talks

Allow words to come, ideally without presupposition or preconception. Let the bodymind talk to you.

Explain something

Explain how something works to yourself, to a rubber duck, to another person.

The beginning of explanation

About something, ask, what explains this? How did this come to be, and, what’s going on, here?


About something you’re doing/feeling/experiencing or you intend to do, ask, for what purpose am I doing this? For what purpose is this happening (to me)?


Try to put something inchoate into words. When you have some words, see if they fit, and see if there are parts which don’t have words for which you need to find more words.

Single word

See if you can find the right, single word for something.

Subtle and fast

See if you can find a place in you, on you, or outside of you where your sensations are subtle and fast-changing.

Hard to attend to

Notice where it’s hard to pay attention. Don’t force yourself to pay attention there, right now.

Problem and solution

Pick a problem you have and try to come up with a solution in any way that comes to you to try.

Be there for yourself

Thus, and, whatever you need, try to give it to yourself, directly, right now, in the right way.

Be there for yourself, age-appropriately

Thus, and, whatever you need, try to give it to yourself, directly, right now, in the right way. And, try to take into account any felt age, how old the relevant parts of you feel, any feeling-of-being-there sense or memory.

Be a mother, father, big brother, big sister, mentor, teacher, most-trusted-friend-to-yourself, age-appropriately

Thus, and, whatever you need, be the person that can give you the right thing, directly, right now, in the right way, and do so as best you can. And, try to take into account any felt age, how old the relevant parts of you feel, any feeling-of-being-there sense or memory. If safe, perhaps they know exactly what you’re thinking and feeling, and can respond exactly appropriately with exactly what you need.

Counterfactual resourcing

Alongside what actually happened, imagine a better version of a memory. How could it have gone in some other world (that ultimately, downstream, might provide you with exactly what you need right now)? Let it be complementary to the original memory or experience in sense and fidelity. Explore what, in some other world, could have been the best possible age-appropriate you, immersively there, then.

Counterfactual avoidance

Alongside something bad that actually happened, as best you understand it, how could you have avoided that? Or, how would that not have happened, had you only known… what?

Imaginary conversation

Imagine a conversation between two people, complete with possibly hazy setting and dialogue.

Imaginary self-insert conversation

Imagine you’re dialoging/conversing with someone, about whatever topics you’re drawn to.


Explore planning or your plans.


Explore goal setting or your goals.

Todo lists

Explore your physical or mental todo list(s) or explore what might go on one.

Ideal day

Concretely imagine how you’d spend a “normal ideal day.”

Positive and negative motivation and evaluation

Explore the objects and experiences of current and remembered

  1. thirst, craving, impulse, urge, appetite, motivation, “intrinsic motivation,” self-nudge, love, limerance, meaningfulness, hope, desire, longing, liking, loving, wishing, dreaming, lusting, wanting, desiring, needing, and

  2. that which is beautiful, wonderful, extraordinary, awe-inspiring, delicious, delectable, awesome, staggering, disarming, heavenly, divine, glorious, completing, be-all-end-all, the-whole-point, only-thing-that-matters, true-reason(s)-to-do-anything, elegant, sublime, hot, sexy, devastating-in-a-good-way, perfect, destined/fated/inevitable-in-a-good-way, satisfying, warming, fulfilling, relieving, engaging, likable, and

  3. that which is disgusting, evil, bad, hateful, gross, undesirable, horrible, terrible, unwanted, noxious, aversive, desperation-related, out-of-control-ness-related, dislikable.

Inner conflict

Explore current inner conflict, the goodness, the badness, the endorsement, the disendorsement, the good but feels bad, the bad that feels good, the bad that should feel good, the good that should feel bad, what hurts so good, what hurts so bad, what you want to want, what you want to not want…

Inner confusion

Explore current inner confusion.

Self-soothe (jd)

Reassure yourself. Hold yourself. Be gentle on/to yourself. Talk to or treat yourself like you might a young child.

Relax (jd)

Take deep breaths. Take it easy. Loosen up. Untense. Relaxxxxxxxx.

Think with your body (jd)

Explore what it’s like to “think” while attending to or moving attention through your body.

Live lightly (jd)

Make yourself a cup of tea. Go for a walk in the neighborhood. Read a book on a porch on a sunny day

Trust your body, trust your mind (jd)

Trust that the thing that's currently/presently/ongoingly happening is the right thing. Trust that your body and mind know the best path forward. Follow its lead. Listen to its clues.

Don’t run away from the present / explore the present / return to the present (jd)

What is good or bad, right here, right now? What is going on, right here right now? What could be improved or better, right here right now? What could be tweaked or different, right here right now?

Feel your feelings (jd)

Let them move, shift, expand, spread. Let it flow. Let it flow through you. Allow it (all). Surrender to it. Fully fall into it (if it's safe to do so)

Label (jd)

Label (put words to) your experience. What’s happening? What's going on?

Find good, find bad (jd)

What is (presently, ongoingly) happening that is good or bad? What are you (presently, ongoingly) doing that is good or bad?

Embrace nebulosity (jd)

If it’s good to do so, lean-in-to/embrace the churn/uncertainty/not-knowing/intensity/confusion/ambiguity/unknowing/chaos/(meaninglessness?) of the ever changing flow of experience, whatever that might be or where it might go. Notice the aversion to doing so, and the impulse to retreat to the safe/reified/conceptual.

Welcome experience (jd)

Welcome, allow, accept, receive, let in, make space for, give breathing room to … whatever is happening in experience.

Examine avoidance (jd)

Notice: is there anything you are currently/presently/ongoingly avoiding or running away from? If so: would it be good to not do so? are you able to not do so? is it safe to not do so?

Do what feels good


Patiently wait with what feels bad


Patiently wait with “something’s bad but don’t know what or where”


Uncrush crushed desires


Physically dramatize, physically act out


Explore the experience of masculine gendered power


Explore the experience of feminine gendered power


Explore the experience of feminine gendered intimacy/connection/compassion/warmth/love


Explore the experience of masculine gendered intimacy/connection/compassion/warmth/love


Explore childlike power


Explore childlike playfulness


Explore childlike connection, love, etc.


Explore masculine gendered sensuality


Explore feminine gendered sensuality


Explore masculine gendered desire


Explore feminine gendered desire


Go crazy; dance, flail, yell, jump, fuck


Explore not orgasming; explore magnifying sexual desire/arousal/motivation


Do something all wrong; do something incorrectly


Explore joy in another’s success or happiness


Explore reluctance to forgive; explore grudgingness


Hang out with “chakras” and extremities

Steadily attend, for a prolonged period of time (but not too long), to your hands, your feet, or (particularly your lower) “chakras”, near the surface or in the depths of your body: root/perineum, (sacrum), genitals, tan tien/dan tien, navel/hara, solar plexus, heart…

Attend to nonsymbolic cognition

What were you just thinking about, even if that thinking wasn’t in words? It was probably about something, real or imaginary.

Attend in, on, or outside the body

Decide whether you’ll attend to sensations inside, on, or outside the body. Then do just that for a bit.

Just sit or stand, deliberately, reflectively, actively, with perfect posture


Facilitate drive, motivation, grit; psych yourself up to do


Plan with your whole body, not just your head


Feel your plans/intentions/goals change (or not) in your body


Change an intention, plan, or goal

Thus. Change what you’re going to do, if you can (at this time). You might see if, unforcily, you can have the change be effortlessly, unreflectively stable, until you you fulfill it or it makes sense to modify it. (The change might be an addition, removal, or modification of an existing intention, plan, or goal.)

Figure or dont

Work on figuring something out. Or, do something besides, do anything besides, figuring something out

Do something without asking permission


Be actually good to someone without their consent


Solve or dissolve

Explore whether you’re (a) altering your plans and intentions for changing the world or (b) altering your beliefs and desires to shape yourself to the world or (c) both, in this moment. (Note that (a), technically, is shaping yourself to the world as well.)

Directness or indirectness

Explore whether you can just directly go after something and have it, do it, be it, or achieve it. Or, are you planning, learning, preparing, etc. If you are doing the latter, why not the former?

Explore a conflicted desire

Thus; explore how bad it feels (for whatever reasons); explore how good it feels (for whatever reasons).

Concretely imagine

Imagine something in full, concrete detail, perhaps including first-person experience from a first-person perspective.



Desire backwards

Follow the evolution of a desire backwards in time. “Float back” using a gradient of the feeling of that desire, the feeling of those times…

Counterfactual desire

Imagine what you would have wanted then had it been ok to elaboratively want it.

Notice interjection

Notice when thoughts or feelings come up that are against your “main forward direction.” Explore good and bad ways to interact with those interjections, e.g. ignore, befriend, tolerate, etc.

Retrospective self-giving

Imagine you’re giving your younger self exactly what they wanted and needed then; experience the “immersive feel” of this.

Honor or respect all of your desires

Thus, across all times, places, ages, parts of you.

Notice distantly related yet contradictory desires


Notice unreflective automaticity

Thus, as if you are waking (to/)from a (lucid) dream.

Pose questions to yourself


Explore having two different things in mind simultaneously


What you want, you want


Body agreement

Before taking a physical or mental action, see first if the body agrees, and abide by any disagreement.

Play games with symbols (e.g. words)


Question problem basis

As a provisional alternative to trying to directly make something ok, through mind (thought) or action, try exploring the presuppositions and premises that make X not ok in the first place.

Give up; let go; fail completely

Thus. (if/when it’s safe and actually good to do so)

Scan in, on, or outside the body (body scan; environmental scan)

Decide whether you’ll explore sensations inside, on, or outside the body. Then systematically/comprehensively do just that for a bit.

Take a break

Thus; do something completely different for at least three days, ideally without cheating/without exceptions.

Watch for beginnings (of awareness of sensing and knowing)


Watch for endings (of awareness of sensations)


Watch for changes (in knowing/seeming/expecting)


Watch for “was there all along” experiences


Watch for “real reasons (for doing/being/feeling)” (that were “previously just out of view”)


Quiet, stable, fine-grain examination

As best you can, have a quiet and stable mind. Examine the changing of sensations (perhaps investigating momentary in a single place or “place”) at the finest grain of detail.


Without forcing, write or type whatever comes to mind, keep going. Make the word count as high as you can. Free-draw, free-anything.


Ask what a part of you or a thing in you is. Ask what it’s doing. Ask what it wants, what its purpose is, what it’s for. Ask yourself what’s good for you about that part or thing being there doing its thing. Ask it what it has that you yourself want or need? Ask yourself what good thing is it doing for you? You might temporarily release/drain your own will from that part or thing, let it do or be exactly what it wants, pretending or making it so you can’t directly affect or control it; and, then, as above/previously, only ask questions and make and follow suggestions, requests, and counteroffers.

Goodness of badness

Explore what’s good (or useful or necessary), if anything, about bad things, including feeling bad or being bad, in general and for particular badness.


Explore if you can become soft where you are currently hard.

Chain questions

Thus, that is, ask a question and use the answer to that question (or parts of that answer) in a new question, and repeat with that answer in a new question, and so forth.

Beginnings and endings

Look for beginnings and endings of presence (of experience) and absence (of experience). (ideally “minimally; without adding anything or taking anything away”)

Stability and change

Look for stability and change

Explore symbolic mediation, lack thereof, and how you might take a break

Look for how verbalizing, categorizing, symbolizing, organizing, listing, structuring, narrativizing, referencing might be getting in the way. See if you can temporarily set all that aside.

Chose enjoyment

When in doubt, choose the enjoyable option (and fully enjoy).

Chose nonverbal

When in doubt, choose the nonverbal/wordless option.

Flesh out worlds

Imagine how things might or actually be, even if you are uncertain as to whether those things are actually the case. Imagine more parts of the worlds you might be in.

Solutioning worlds

Imagine fantastic, near-realistic, and realistic worlds where all your problems are solved.

Getting and gearing

Notice when you’re “getting yourself” to do something versus it just happening. Notice when you’re “gearing yourself up” to do something versus just knowing you’re going to do it.

Dwell in safety

Find and dwell in safety, if only temporarily.

Be insane

Be insane; be crazy; be batshit insane.

Be bad

Be bad; be evil; be malevolent

Be good

Be gentle; be kind be; compassionate.

Be out of control

Find a way to be safe enough, and then be dangerously out of control

Ask about goodness and badness

Ask, “What’s good about that?” Ask, “What’s bad about that?”

Be as human as you happen to be, right now

Be human; be imperfect; be flawed. (You can/could truly aspire to true perfection, but allow yourself to be what you are right now, say, which is inclusive of that aspiration.)


Find counterexamples to thoughts, beliefs, assertions, written content, things that other people say…


Take person A’s perspective. Take person A’s perspective on person B’s perspective, and so on. Take person A’s perspective on your perspective. Take person A’s perspective on your perspective of person A’s perspective.

Encourage it; egg it on


Leave your comfort zone or explore leaving your comfort zone


Explore doing what feels wrong to do


Try temporarily letting go of your sacred objects, your sacred touchstones


Temporarily and briefly block resist refuse some impulse/urge/inclination/reflex/action/doing


Study your sensations as such for the purpose of understanding


Be liminally verbal; on the edge of almost not quite words/language



Ask yourself, “Who you are being right now?” Ask yourself, “Which one are you right now?”


Enter into something allowing it to be exactly as it is.

Be a self-friend

Would you treat a dear friend that way with respect to X? Treat yourself as you would a dear friend with respect to X.

Take a long, slow, dreamy walk in a safe place



Study particular sensations or knowing so as to figure them out.

Seeping into; keeping company

Seep into yourself or into some sensations or keep some knowing company. Don’t try to change any of it.


describe what’s happening, describe what seems to be the case, describe what’s salient, describe what’s relevant


Put knowing into words; what is relevantly coming up that you know right now, that you might not have known that you know?

Bare sensations as such

regard/construe all real time experience as bare sensations as such


explore how everything (or not) is just an expression of your mind (or not)


Give X exactly what it wants.


(Temporarily or not) become X.


List what’s relevant and maybe try to determine why those things are relevant.

State awareness

Decide in what ways you’re in a temporary state right now.

Safe fear

Make it safe to feel fear and to know what you’re afraid of.

Explore intuition

Explore taking intuitions seriously, including those for which you don’t have any obvious rational evidence (or whatever). Be psychic. Be clairvoyant. You can hold intuitions provisionally while you explore them.

Question inner things

Ask questions of distinct things in/of you: What are you? Who are you? Where did you come from? How did you come to be? How did you get here? What do you want? What would be good for you?


Back off, utter lightweight-ness: do the lightest most minimal possible version of whatever you’re doing or want to do or want to try.

Have fun


Be openminded

Be radically open to what might be true. Be unfiltered in your consideration of what might be true.

Ok to hate

Hate until/if you don’t.


Ask, is X “shackles on” or “shackles off? [via Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star and Steering by Starlight]

Feel all towardsness

Feel or allow yourself to feel your desire, wanting, longing, preferring, taste, hoping, wishing, needing, craving, thirsting, hungering, lusting…

Your heart sing

Remember/imagine (concretely) something that did/does/would make your heart sing (at least the first time or every time).


Ask, is that it? Is there more? Anything else? What is the next thing? And the next? How do I know that I’m done? How will I know I’m done? How do I know there’s more?

Go down a prefab list

Run through all these practices to find ones that feel/seem good, currently. Run through all main practices to find ones that feel/seem good, currently. Try the meta protocol if you haven’t for a while. Try other collections besides ones in this document.

Locate a deep felt sense (h)

How do you really feel right now? What deeper feelings are beginning to surface? What nebulous thing is going on at the edges of your awareness? The vaguer the better. Try to put it into words, or not.

Compare/align sensory streams (h)

Hold two or more different sensory streams in awareness at the same time, notice how they complement/corroborate/contradict each other. For example, while walking, pay close attention to what you see alongside sensations coming from the feet. Or while tapping a tabletop, pay attention to what you hear alongside sensations in the hands.

Iteratively examine motivation (h)

To what end am I doing what I am currently doing? And why that? And why that? &c. Can be meta-applied as well: in the course of inquiring what one is doing & why, one may inquire as to what one is doing in inquiring as such, and why.

Refactor agency (h)

À la V. Rao. Notice a thought or framing of some occurrence, and split/clump/invert/rotate/refactor the agency/will of whatever is involved.

Some examples:

Invent a concept (h)

Name the unnamed. Slice reality along a new axis.

Mindful hygiene (h)

Practice hygiene slowly, attentively. Brush your teeth; floss; brush your hair; shave; wash your hands/face; bathe; trim nails; apply ointments/lotions.

Mindful eating (h)

Eat slowly, attentively. Do you want another bite? Which bite do you want? How does it feel when you put it in your mouth, as you chew? Temperature, texture, flavor? What happens when you swallow? Can you feel your stomach receiving the food?

Examine time (h)

Examine the passage of time (perhaps while attending to a particular sensation, such as an ongoing noise, or perhaps not).

Do it more slowly (h)

If it’s okay to do so, slow down in whatever you’re doing. Slow down more. And more. And juuuust a bit more.

Hug yourself (h)

Hug yourself. Touch yourself lovingly. Caress, rub, massage, hold. Which parts want attention? Let your body be an instrument of care for itself.

Want everything (h)

To whatever degree(s) it’s good & safe to do so, allow yourself to fully and totally desire everything desirable, large & small, good & bad, immediate & far-reaching. Want it all.

Want nothing (h)

To whatever degree(s) it’s good & safe to do so, allow yourself to fully and totally release/forgo any and all desires. Accept this & now as sufficient and complete.

Disclaim (and reclaim) volitionality

Interact with yourself, or parts of yourself, or what’s in you, only through a respectful interface; disclaim volitionality for what’s behind the interface. Drain your will from it. Temporarily treat it as not you. How can you affect it, now? What’s the right way to interact with it under these conditions?

Also: Do the opposite. Reclaim as makes sense, which might be an equal amount.

Take a break

Take a break from everything. Take a complete break. Totally rest, temporarily.


Listen for something faint and distant.


Try to hallucinate life-sized, three-dimensional people, appearing/existing around you in your present physical space, as a problem-solving tool, a general exploratory tool, for fun, for sexual fantasy.

Desire factoring

Imaginatively remove (and maybe put back) things from something you desire until you figure out the essence of what you desire in the thing.

Explore dimensions of phenomenology

In what you’re experiencing right now, explore meaning-laden phenomenology; explore meaningful phenomenology; explore valenced/unvalenced phenomenology (pleasant/unpleasant); explore the absolute, mediate, and immediate causes and conditions of phenomenology, explore the and immediate and mediate effects of phenomenology.

Pain of lack

Feel the pain of lacking, the pain of not having.

Wanting versus liking

Explore the relationship between what you want (to do/have/experience) and what you, at least historically, know you like to experience. Explore the relationship between what you want to avoid and what you know you don’t like to experience.

Resource testing

Imagine yourself with various extra resources, only one or two at a time (money, very nice clothing, healthy solid relationship)—what changes? How would things be different?

Only this moment

Temporarily pretend only this moment exists.

Exactly what it needs

Imaginatively/bodily/experientially give something exactly what it needs, exactly the relationship it needs, with the person/entity it needs (friend, parent), in the language and concepts it needs, with the emotions it needs, that that something can feel, experience, and understand.

As a friend

Ask, what advice would you give a friend about this?

Querying ability

Ask, could you do that? How would you do that? How would you solve that?

Its job, its goal

Ask something in you, that might not be you, what its job is, its goal, its purpose. Ask what it needs. Ask what’s good about it being there? Explore its felt goodness and badness.

Bad counterfactual actuality

Ask, would it be bad if this/that/X weren’t true? Ask, would it be bad if this/that/X were true?

State/find the X

State the inner conflict, state the contradiction, state the physical impossibility (such as “those two things can’t coexist in the same space or be done with these resources or go faster than the speed of light or teleport). Or just find it; you don’t have to state it.

Seek implicit understanding


Seek explicit understanding


Find the sparkle

Find the childhood and/or teenage parts of you that sparkle with wonder and joy and appreciate and enjoy them and embody them


What are you intending, planning, willing, right now? What is your intention [with respect to X]?

Counterfactual closure

Ask, what you could have done differently, along with some minimal other changes to a situation, so that X bad thing wouldn’t have happened? Or that would have made the bad thing ok?

Stretch (h)

Like a cat that just woke up from a long nap. Try while standing, lying down, or in some other position. Shoulders back, chest out, get on your tippy-toes & arch that spine, yawn, vocalize, release!

Connect deeply with purpose/value/meaning/goodness (h)

Notice your current situation/trajectory, and connect as deeply as you can with how this situation/trajectory is (now & ongoingly) meaningful & valuable, what purpose it serves, what broader good(ness) it relates to, etc. In what ways is today good/meaningful/valuable? How does the goodness/meaningfulness/value of today connect to the goodness/meaningfulness/value of your entire life?

Notice the past (h)

Notice momentary or ongoing conceptions of the past.

Notice the future (h)

Notice momentary or ongoing conceptions of the future.

Notice discomfort (h)

Are you (greatly or subtly) uncomfortable right now? Which sensations tell you that you are uncomfortable? Why doesn’t everything about right now feel great/fine/perfect?

Attention pulled

Let your attention be drawn places and maybe actively stay there for a bit once you get there.

Volitional attention

Attend somewhere two-dimensional or three-dimension or n-dimensional or non-dimensional, specifically, for at least a brief time.

Liminal/nonverbal (inspired by h)

Do what you’re already doing but deliberately move towards going it liminally verbally or nonverbally.

Curiosity for disagreement

Have respectful curiosity and inquisitiveness for what happens to be in you or is a part of you, that you disagree with.

Resist attentional capture (1)

Some of the time, temporarily, concentrate (on something). Facilitate attentional capture.

Resist attention capture (2)

Some of the time, temporarily, have a wide, open, fuzzy focus. Concentrate on everything or no-thing. Relax, do this minimally, minimally reactively, as minimally involved as you can.

Balance foreground and background (cf Lippmann and Culadasa)

Become aware of everything you can become aware of, in the “background,” while also attending to a “foreground” object. The background is in your peripheral awareness (cf. peripheral vision). Look both at and “through” the foreground object. Balance the salience of foreground and background so that they are potentially seamless in brief moments or stably.

Look past (interpretive) overlays

Look at something; look past that at “what’s really going on.”

The really truly possibly really good in the bad

With the expectation that there’s something good and important, there, a wisdom of some kind: Ask would it be good to keep doing this bad thing? How would it be good to keep doing this good thing? Would it be bad to stop doing this bad thing? How/why would it be bad to stop doing this (at least partially) bad thing?

The chakras

Attend for some time to each chakra, bottom to top, including genitals. Hara. Hands. Feet.

Microcosmic orbit

Move attention slowly through microcosmic orbit (loop around front and back of body from crown of head to perineum and back) in the direction [down the front, up the back; up the front, down the back] that feels most smooth.

Bad to know/understand/see/be-able-to-tell

Ask, is it bad to know [about] X, bad to understand [something about] X, bad to be able to see [something about X], bad to be able to tell something about X? If so, how did that come to be? Why? How do you know? How did you come to know?

Homomorphic ostension or reference

Come up with a metaphor, simile, allusion, allegory, analogy, or story for a relevant thing that might be otherwise hard to put into words. In that, what’s the problem, in that language/structure/ontology? What could be added inside that language/structure/ontology/logic? What’s obviously missing when seen from inside that? How would manipulate that to solve the thing, strictly inside or that language/structure/ontology?


Ask, is this from me? Is this from you? Is this me? Is this you? Is this him/her/per/them?

Somatic refactoring

Feel and relax your way into beneficial “somatic refactoring.” Let the body naturally and intricately change.

Explore the body

Exhaustively, but loosely, sensitively, being willing to back off or let go, explore the entire value of the body with your attention, little by little. If you can’t attend somewhere, don’t force attention into the area. Explore what feels good and bad about this and what seems good and bad about doing it in different places and a different times.


Ask, can you do X/that? Can you fix X/that? Can you solve X/that? Can you handle X/that?

Provenance and historical explanation

Ask, how did that/X come to be?

Looking/checking with what you already have

Ask can you look to see whether that’s true or not? Can you find that out with what you already have? (If not, can you get more information if you need it? How? Can you do that? Will you do that?)

Personal evaluative comparison

Ask, for me, why do I want/choose/like/desire/pick/etc this/X versus that/Y. Which is better or worse? More good or less good versus each or the other?


Ask what does it/X/that mean?

Ghost/energy hands

Touch your body or feel into your body with ghost/energy hands.

Fractured reality

Feel the fractures of reality. Feel how reality is broken.

Look down through the body

Look down through your neck into your body from the inside

Look at the back of you head (after Headless Way?)

Look at the back of your head from the outside without the aid of a mirror, phone, anything.

Be (pop?) zen

No goal, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no escape, start or where you are, gateless gate, stateless state.

Stop trying to escape the now

Temporarily stop trying to escape from exactly what’s happening, exactly how it’s happening, and exactly what it is that’s happening.

Take a break


Collect simultaneous attentional objects

“Collect” things in your awareness to pay attention to, and attend them sequentially or simultaneously.

Ghost/energy body

Be physically relatively still, but walk and move with your “ghost” body or “energy body.”


Accept that this is your life now or in fact always was.

Instantaneous immortality

Noticed that in this moment you literally cannot just directly and successfully choose to die.


Expand into the available space, “outer” or “inner.” Accept/become the available space, “outer” or “inner.”

Broken phenomenology

Feel your “‘broken’ phenomenology”; rest in it, all of yourself with it, as it is.


If you find you can’t do something, explore how to phrase it conditionally:

(You might ask, why can’t I do this? How can I come to be able to do this? How did I come to not be able to do this? How do I know I can’t do this?)

Then, if it might be good to able to do X even while the conditions obtains, you might ask something like:

How might I be able to do X even while Y? What are some worlds where I might be able to do X even while Y? even when Y? even if it’s not Y yet? even if Y has since obtained? even if Y holds? even if Y? even without Y?

Or, if it might be good to not have the condition obtain so you can do X, you might ask something like:

If Y prevents: How might I not have Y obtain? Are there good worlds where Y doesn’t obtain? What might such a world look like? How might I know I were in such a world? Might I be in such a world already or how might I arrive in such a world?

If Y enables: How might I have Y obtain? Are there good worlds where Y does obtain? What might such a world look like? How might I know I were in such a world? Might I be in such a world already or how might I arrive in such a world?

Stimulate all your senses (a)


Minimize sensory input (a)



Ask, is X “shackles on” or “shackles off? [via Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star and Steering by Starlight]

Exertion (ae)

Exert yourself past a few layers of muscular and cardiovascular exhaustion, but not so many that you have to stop, to achieve a difficult goal.

Comment: This one needs refinement of scope and clarity, and also careful consideration of safety in the most literal ways. For me comes from climbing, hiking, alpinism: "Exert yourself past a few layers of muscular and cardiovascular exhaustion, but not so many that you have to stop, to achieve a difficult goal." I'm pointing at something that feels qualitatively different to me than HIIT-type pushing to failure. It seems important that there is a summit or whatever to get to (and come back from!) and what you are doing is ultimately unsustainable but will last you just the next hour/day/relevant medium term, and somehow you are doing a bunch of inference to figure out just how hard that means pushing yourself right now.

Don’t despair (j)


Dwell in unknowing/uncertainty/confusion (j)

(Allow/let yourself to) dwell in unknowing/uncertainty/confusion:

Comment: cf Keats’ idea of negative capability

Play a character (h)


Comment: a character whose traits are very different from the ones you typically embody; can happen either in private or in public; can be an existing character (e.g. gandalf) or an archetype (e.g. motherly woman) or something else entirely; how does your character move, think, speak, carry him-/her-/itself? what is different, when you’re this character, than when you’re not this character?

Stream-of-consciousness writing (h*)

Allow yourself to transcribe your stream-of-consciousness as best you can.

Comment: can be centered on a topic/feeling/thought/idea, or unconstrained; find a pace that works & capture on paper as much as you can that enters your awareness — don’t worry about structure or coherency; then reflect on what you wrote, or not.

Explore gratitude (h*)

Ask, what are you grateful for, right now? How do you know you’re grateful? What does it feel like? What don’t you feel grateful for? What is it like not to feel grateful? What causes gratitude or non-gratitude? What is different about your relationship with [thing you’re grateful for] compared to your relationship with [thing you’re not grateful for]?

Explore courage (h*)

Ask, what would the courageous thing to do be, with respect to X? How does it feel to [imagine] carry[ing] out courageous action? How does courage relate to fear? Without forming intentions to actually execute them, explore scenarios of enacting courage.

Mindful pooping (h*)

Poop mindfully.

Do something uncomfortable or difficult (h)

Non-coercively do something you find uncomfortable or difficult (but which you will retrospectively endorse). E.g. take a cold shower; chat up a stranger; fast for a day; etc.

Notice your voice (h)

Carefully listen to & feel your own voice as you speak in daily life.

Consider death (h)

Consider [the idea of] death, as much as it is safe & good to do so. For instance, what is death? What memories, concepts, thoughts, and feelings arise in connection with the idea of death? Are you afraid of death? What would it mean not to be afraid of death? Can you imagine facing death right now? What specifically would be bad about dying right now? What about the deaths of others? Do non-living things die?

Be broken (h)

Be broken, crushed, shattered, utterly defeated, crippled, collapsed, damaged, riven.

Affirm everything (h)

To anything expressed by yourself or another, respond: “totally.“/”definitely.“/”100%.“/”right on.“/”yeah!”

Catch flinching (h)

Notice when you flinch, turn away, shut down, distract yourself, change the subject, compulsively open reddit in a new tab, etc. Don’t try to do anything about the flinching, yet.

Comment: (a*)

See also: affirm nothing, flinch volitionally, explore cowardliness ...Do you really want these things? Or are you in fact too afraid to be a coward, now?

Maybe (j)


Temporarily stop planning

Temporarily stop planning and just see what happens next, see what you do next, as much as that feels safe.

Talk to yourself as if (j)

Talk to yourself as if you were an elder or older, wiser version of yourself

Reinterpret (h)

Search for new interpretations of X. X can be an interaction, an event, an image, a place, a concept, a memory, an intention, a feeling, etc etc. Can also be done by taking new assumptions along with X. For example, “how can i reinterpret that argument i got into, if i take the new assumption that the other person wasn’t trying to hurt me?”

Notice what, notice how (h)
  1. For whatever you’re doing/saying, notice what exactly you’re doing/saying. [the ends/purpose/goal/intent/function]
  2. For whatever you’re doing/saying, notice how exactly you’re doing/saying it. [the means/style/method/manner/form]
Back to the drawing board (h)

Go back to the drawing board, regarding X.

Do something symbolically meaningful (h)


Devise new/better/relevant auxiliary practices (h ht j)


Explore/refactor the concept of meditation itself (h)

What does it mean to meditate? What does it mean to meditate well/correctly or poorly/incorrectly? What activities/states/situations are incompatible with meditation? In what ways is your method of meditating self-defeating? What would improve the experience of meditating by 5%? by 500%? Would it be ok to never meditate again? why or why not? etc etc

Comment: [similar to meta-protocol] [similar to doing p1 with the concept “meditation”]

Forgive (h)

Forgive that which it’s good to forgive. Forgive others; forgive yourself.

Repent (h)


Pray (j)


Fart around (j)


Tingles and non-tingles

Gently and softly and dreamily track down tingles and non-tingles.

Hold contradictions (h)

Hold/be/embody both/all aspects of seeming contradictions within yourself. Dwell in contradiction/paradox.

Check out

Completely check out. Play. Total nonvigilance, total vacation, deep-dive into hobbies, interests for minutes, hours or days. Notice if you can’t.

Get absorbed in something

Get lost in something. Lose yourself in something. Become absorbed in something. Forget about the world. Notice if you can’t.

Constrain yourself (j)

Arbitrarily (or not) make decisions, add constraints, give yourself less degrees of freedom, give yourself less breathing room, put stakes in the ground.

Sleep on it (j)


Surround yourself with beauty/goodness (h)


Pray to be and/or have and/or have happen


Embrace the [almost completely intolerable] “cringy inner chaotic hellscape”


“Enjoy” the [normal] almost perfectly intolerable infinite[ly and critically] bad electrically agonizing awful cringe


Try enjoying it (h)


Comment: a sort of in-joke. whenever someone’s having a bad time, [...] asks “have you tried enjoying it?”

Just [actively] sit, bravely and skillfully


Let whatever happens happen


Let you attention dance


Be shameless(h)


Time off (j*)

Give yourself the day off. Give yourself the day/night/hour/unit-of-time off.

Respond with “maybe” (j*)

Respond to your questions, certainties, concerns, etc, with “maybe” “Oh my god I can’t believe X is happening. This will be terrible.” “Maybe” “Will it be good if I Y?” “Maybe”

Comment: Inspired by the Taoist farmer story

Notice the ways in which you are safe


Allow yourself to be doubtful



Simply endure, allowing awareness and feeling as best you can, as best you can without shutting down, white-knuckling, teeth-gritting, but only if that’s safe.

Recurring dreams

Notice your recurring dreams.


List who or what you currently need permission from, even if you disendorse needing it.

Not allowed

List what you’re not allowed to do, even if you disendorse even the entire frame of “not being allowed.”

Posture continuum

Pretend posture lies on a continuum from (A) comfortable fetal position to (B) standing tall and loose (or even walking slowly or ad hoc tai chi or qigong). See if it might be currently good to move more towards (A) or more towards (B), and do so if so.

Physically exhaust yourself (h)


Examine a flower or a leaf or a stone (h)


Chat with/talk to your X-year-old self (h)


Be someone else (h)


Locate the tragedy/mystery/joy/etc in X (h)


Notice what’s forbidden (h)


Trace the origin of X [in oneself] (h)


Make a list of everything (h)


List possibilities (h)


Do whatever is necessary to X (h)


Locate the sacredness of X (h)


Notice feeling connected to or disconnected from others & self & nature/world/environment (h)


Adopt a rigid moral code (h)


Dissect language (h)


Pay attention to the X content of communication (h)

Pay attention to the emotional/intention/timing/sensitivity/feeling content of communication.

Pay attention to the Y content of communication (h)

Pay attention to the words/phrasing/conceptual/structural/thought content of communication.

Play with “X happened to me” vs. “I chose X” (h)


What pattern is X part of? (h)


Notice that you’re already enlightened/perfect/fine/good/good enough (h)


Write a song/poem/rock opera (h)


Study the cringe as if you were a scientist (h)


Notice what happens when you notice (h)


Comment: For me & probably others, there is residue from the way I was taught to meditate, namely from instructions like “if you notice you’re thinking, return to the breath” or similar. There are some very tight hooks in my mind such that when I notice certain things, I immediately have some internal reaction. There are lots of them, but one which is probably pretty common for people who’ve tried pop meditation is: notice thought -> interrupt it & pay attention to something else.

Cultivate/dwell in solitude (h)


Take solace in the journey (j*)

Taking solace in the exhaustiveness of the journey. Or, like, in non bypassing ways the thing you’re working towards is such a big exhaustive total something thing that a lot of things that stress you out currently are rounding errors ultimately or something or ok or something.

Connect with proximal ideal future concretes (aj*)

Connect with the concrete details + felt sense of your ideal experience 3 years from now.

Improvise, or see/frame your life as improv (j)


Ask for what you want/need (j)


Comment: Or ask yourself, ‘can you ask for the thing you want/need?’ are you safe and/or able to do so? ##### Make small, little bets (j)


Shake, shiver, quake (aj*)

If shakes come, let them.

Release all technique


Release all conceptions about how the mind works or should work


Mind doing and state release

Experiment with avoiding “doing things with your mind” and avoiding “trying to have your mind be a particular way”

No mind

Provisionally try on the idea that there is no such thing as minds and you don’t have one, but everything else is the same. What now?

No self

Provisionally try on the idea that there is no such thing as selves and you don’t have a self and aren’t a self, but everything else is otherwise exactly same as it is right now. what now?

Flat mind (j*)

Provisionally try on the idea that the mind is “flat” or “just-in-time” or that the contents of awareness in some sense don’t exist until they’re constructed for that moment (making no metaphysical commitments about anything else).

No containment

Provisionally try on the idea that there is no such as inside and outside nor things inside other things, nor anything inside or outside anything else, but everything else is the same. What now?

No boundaries

Provisionally try on the idea that there is no such as boundary or separation, but everything else is the same. What now?

No thought

Provisionally try on the idea that you never ever have to think another thought, but everything else is the same. What now?

No people

Gently, gently, temporarily, provisionally try on the idea that there are no people and there never was a person, but everything else is the same. What now?

No things

Provisionally try on the the idea that there are no things, no objects, not even any stuff :scream: , but everything else is exactly the same. What now?

No time

Provisionally try on the idea that there is no time, that it doesn’t pass, that it doesn’t exist, that it never did. but, everything else is exactly the same. What now?

No space

Provisionally try on the idea that there is no space, no spatial relations, no adjacency, no empty space, no things occupying space, no delimited volume, that these don’t exist and that they never did. but, everything else is exactly the same. What now?

Embrace identity

Explore if/that/whether you are one, in particular that you are this one. and not that one or any of these or those other ones.

Already dead

Consider the idea that you’re already dead but everything else is exactly the same. What now?

Right before you start

Notice what happens or what you do in the split seconds before you “start meditating.”

Forget how to think

Pretend you’ve forgotten how to think. What now?

Psychic how to think

Pretend someone doesn’t know how to think and you can show them how to think psychically, mind-to-mind--they can watch your mind do things, directly. what do you do with your mind to demonstrate thinking to them?

Psychic how to meditate

Pretend someone doesn’t know how to meditate and you can show them how to meditate psychically, mind-to-mind--they can watch your mind do things, directly. what do you do with your mind to demonstrate meditating to them?


Have two or more things happen in your mind simultaneously. also for gross motor movement. sequentiality: have two or more things happen in your mind sequentially. also for gross motor movement.

Play with vibe

Try on different vibes, different global (outward-experienciable) feels.

Inner safety

Pretend other people can’t infer your inner state or know it in any way. Explore if you have any new or different affordances or insights while pretending this.

No nos

Pretend no/not/negation (even nothingness) don’t exist. what now? [seriously]

Trust your perceptions

Trust what you observe, plain as day. Rest in what is obvious and veridical to you right now.

Honor mediate wrongness

If something feels wrong, even if you can’t put your finger on it or you can’t speak it, know that something must be wrong, somewhere.

Call bullshit


Remember relevant assertions

Remember all the ways people/books/websites/etc have asserted or implied what people are, what minds are, how minds should be used, what’s good and what’s bad, what’s true and what’s false, how truth works and how it must be found, how minds work and how thinking works, how thinking should be done, what’s good to do, what’s bad to do. Do you agree, disagree, or are you uncertain? What must you believe or disbelieve? What do you endorse or disendorse about this?

Comment: This stuff gets in, it gets reified, some portion of it’s good, some portion of it makes us rigid, blocks our truth-seeking, our creativity, our joy, our seeking.

Notice judging/blaming (h)

Thus, and develop a method to inquire/analyze/understand/orient around it (or not).

Notice pressure (h)

Notice the ways that everyone is subtly or overtly pressuring each other all the time.

Notice support (h)

Notice the ways that everyone is subtly or overtly supporting/encouraging/loving each other all the time.

Have patience

Have perfect, sensitive, intricate, painstaking, long-game patience. Pocketwatch watch-building and watch-repairing, where the gears are normal tiny size but the watch is as big as a moon, and different tiny parts on different sides of the moon might need to precisely co-vary, so you might need to go back and forth between them. Sprinkling colored sand, not geoengineering or even shoveling dirt.

Not too much/too large

Remember the mind is big but you can practically get through it “all,” in a first pass, in a fraction of a lifetime.

Immaculate provenance

Provisionally assume X isn’t your fault even if it is now your responsibility

Total responsibility

Provisionally assume you will have to solve X completely deeply and fully.

Strategic deferral

if you can unforcily and endorsedly put something off until later do so.

Don’t overthink things (j)


Unsurprising-surprising dissolve

Explore that so many things you might never ever have to solve because they’ll truly turn out to either not be a problem or that they never were actually a problem.

Comfort yourself (h*)

Thus, or: offer compassion to yourself] thus, as genuinely as you can [but no more genuinely than that]

Comment: i have gotten a lot of mileage out of saying “it’s okay [...], you’re doing a great job” to myself, either spoken or written. but it seems to be important to actually express it in one way or another; i.e. simply thinking the thought doesn’t do nearly as much as writing or speaking to self does.

Separate (don’t) want/might (to) be true (h)

Separate things that you really really do/don’t want to be true from what is/might actually be true.

Comment: might be a cleaner way to say this. like “earnestly, fearlessly sensemake”.

Sort out good & bad (h)

Make a list of all the things that are good, and all the things that are bad. Be as nuanced or not as you like. Notice contradictions, omissions, & anything that doesn’t fit in either list.

Get comfortable (j)

Make yourself comfortable. Prioritize comfort. Take actions one after the other until you feel totally and utterly comfortable, even and perhaps especially if it "doesn't feel worth it".

Spotting (aj*)

Pay attention to how your level of activation changes as you move your eyes to different positions in xyz space.

Comment: Moving my eyes seems to cue different attention patterns to my body and near-body space. Something like linear search across x then y, then z seems to zero in on activating coordinates well. Fascinating. [See maybe: Kenny Dennis; Brainspotting]]


Ask, what is the basis of this? What does this depend on?

Privilege effortlessness, costlessness, and intuition


Ask who/with/what/good/bad (h)

Ask, “who or what is calling X bad[/good]?“, or “X is bad[/good] according to whom/what?”

Ask, “with what is X’s badness[/goodness] in contradiction with?”

Ask, “what if X were good[/bad]? what about X is good[/bad]?”

Ask, “is it possible to have/do/be X in a way that is good[/bad]?”

No good, no bad (h)

No good, no bad: provisionally assume that there is no such thing as good or bad.

Embrace imperfection


Embrace “analog”

Embrace analog/aconceptual/preconceptual/transconceptual/nondigital experiencing.

Meditate poorly; meditate incorrectly



Tinker, experiment, see what happens, iteratively.

Feel broken

Feel into experiential/phenomenological and visceral brokenness and uselessness.

Ask for whom

Ask, for who(m) and why? Ask, along what dimensions and according to what schema?

Forgive yourself (j)


Trust (j)

Trust that this experience/moment you’re currently having/experiencing is in some sense, the right one. That there isn’t something wrong (in some sense) with the experience. Trust it’s rightness. Cf: relax, ease, acceptance, non-resistance,

Let yourself be supported (j)

Feel the ground underneath you. Notice how little you have to do to be held, and how much support the earth can provide. Relax/ease into this support.

Abandon reason (j)

Act/say/do/want/request/believe/assert/head-in-the-direction-of... just because you feel like it, even if you don’t have reasons, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if you don’t understand.

Don’t feel a need to justify or provide reason (to yourself or others). That which doesn’t make sense. That which you don’t understand.

Walk it off (j)


Experience the elements (j)

Purify yourself in water. Cleanse yourself in the wind. Feel the grounding of the earth. Warm yourself by/in the fire.

Follow the signs (j)


Breadth-first (h)

Do/go/explore/play/incline/work breadth-first, broad and shallow.

Depth-first (h)

Do/go/explore/play/incline/work depth-first, narrow and deep.

Think nonverbally (h)

Incline toward thinking nonverbally — spatially, visually, conceptually, tactilely, kinesthetically, mathematically, musically, etc.

Notice unconscious patterns (h)

Notice unconscious habits, body language, attitudes, thought patterns, behavioral patterns, vocal tone, speech style, posture, positioning, mood shifts, inclinations, desires, etc. Don't do anything about them, yet.

Play (h)

In whatever domain you happen to be in, see if you can play. Notice if you can’t.

Comment: “Explore childlike playfulness” already exists in the prot. The two feel different to me.

Keep going (j)

So, you just discovered/encountered/realized the truest truth [sic], or the most perfect plan? Before you rush off and buy those plane tickets, consider holding your discovery lightly, and keep going, keep turning the (relevant) crank(s).

cf error checking, letting it flow/shift/change

Where and when

Realize that you are here, now, not there, then.


Realize it’s concretely this, not abstractly that.

Be impulsive (j)


From fear or love (j*)

Consider whether you are acting/deciding/doing/etc out of fear or love

Ignoring and listening

Explore how and when to safely and temporarily ignore; Explore how and when to safely and temporarily listen, with part or every fiber of your being, or not.

How do you know

Tired, sad, hungry, anxious, etc. — ask how do you know [you are] (that) [right now]? How do you know, of things like that, what you are right now?

Commit (for the purpose of potentially dissolving)

Really commit to the taboo, illegal, immoral, frivolous, dangerous thing you want to do, to do/be/have/get/experience the thing. Start to plan, start to pre-enjoy. Start to figure out how to make it happen.

Love, compassion, sympathetic joy

Reach for your felt experience of these, with or without object.

Error perspective

Remember, it’s ok to find that you’ve “been doing it wrong.” That means it’s working. That means you’ve been doing it right. And you are doing it right. Perhaps feel into this.

Find your can’ts

Find your “can’t beliefs”: can’t do X, can’t learn Y, could never Z, could never in a million years do Q… These can be both “inability beliefs,” where you straightforwardly can’t do the thing (or so you belief, or right now but maybe not later) or “won’t beliefs,” like, you could but you won’t because of something else--too risky, too emotionally intense, too emotionally risky, etc. For all of this, it can get more subtle--can’t do X with my mind, can’t learn to program, can’t learn to factor these numbers. So, things from your past, too, say, maybe early in school or before school. It can all the way to “deep sensory processing” type things--“my mind won’t/can’t do that” or “no minds can do that.”


Imagine good, bad, best-case, worst-case deathbed scenarios. What’s happening, who’s there, how do you feel about it?

Other people

Explore the ways, whats, whens in which it does and doesn’t matter what other people think of you.

Revisit things of the past (h)

When the time is right, revisit memory-laden objects, songs, movies, photographs, places, etc

Picture your child, having your childhood (aj)

Call to mind your child (or future child, or friend’s child) having the exact same childhood you did. Every sorrow and hope. Fly on the wall for every challenge small and large.

Assume you have no idea what "play" is (aj)

What changes? What would you do to figure it out from scratch?

Safe to look

Ask, for a there a way to come for it to be safe to look?

Better than this

Ask, is there a way to come to something more good/better/nourishing/correct/I/me/myself than this?

More or less real

Ask, is this more real or less real?

Younger or older

Ask, is this younger or older?

Good/bad forwards/backwards

Ask, is this good-forwards, good-backwards, bad-forwards, bad-backwards?

Really real

Explore whether there’s something that seems more real, more causally upstream, more important than physical reality.

Let itself

Let it do/undo itself. Help it do/undo itself.

Models (h)

What are your implicit and explicit world/self models? How are or aren’t they serving you?


Ask, is there something deeper?


Ask, is there something more underneath?

Unknown unintended consequences of omission and commission (m)

Consider the unintended consequences of the things you do and don't do. Consider how you don't know what almost any of them are..

Safe anger

Explore how to make it safe to feel (extreme, white hot, perseverative, repetitive) anger, rage, hate/hatred, outrage, disgust, fury (fear, envy, jealousy, horror) at specific/particular/concrete people in general or for specific/particular/concrete behaviors/actions/inactions/commissions/omissions, for seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks. Deem them as horrible and bad as they are, to you or in the absolute. Explore how to make it safe to not suppress this, to not talk yourself out of this, to not try to (prematurely or otherwise) forgive them, to not try to (prematurely or otherwise) understand them or walk in their shoes so as to humanize, empathize, etc. (You can surely do all those things, but also explore the former things, too.

Comment: People do things completely outside our expectations, sometimes outside our expectations of anyone, anywhere doing such a thing or being such a way. A natural response is potentially the emotions above. They might be more extreme or last longer and more repetatively than you thought possible or good. But allowing those emotions, when there’s enough wisdom/slack/space in the system, when it’s safe to allow those emotions, facilitates processing, model building, wisdom. On the other side of those emotions is wisdom--sometimes it’s forgiveness, sometimes it’s forbearance, sometimes it’s surgical competence, sometimes it’s love, and many other things. Can’t predict the specific shape of wisdom (I think; though it can be healthy/smart/good to try).

Stay in (the) flow (j)



Explore how to make it safe to be allowed to have your (patiently extended) reactions. [sic]


Explore how to make it safe to not self-censor. Try not self-censoring (or as best you can).

Feedback loops (b)

Pause all your feedback loops.

Plan evaluation (j)

Consider: how do you know everything isn’t going exactly according to “plan”? How do you know anything truly has gone wrong or is bad?

Listening and ignoring
  1. Try/explore broadband (fullband) listening/opening/entertaining, to the farthest reaches, at the finest grain (while still differentiating self and other).
  2. Try/explore broadband facilitating/helping.
  3. Try/explore broadband ignoring/keeping-out/relevancing/prioritizing/concluding, to the farthest reaches, at the finest grain.
No language (h)

Temporarily provisionally assume/act as though language doesn't exist

Open mind

Explore having an open mind about particular things that come up (beliefs, assertions, certainties…), as they come up, one-by-one or otherwise: Might it actually be different than that? What might it be instead?


Turn towards what you are and have been already effortlessly ongoing-ly aware of.

Reaction owning and backlog

Own your reactions, let yourself have your reactions to the degree it’s currently safe. If you have a backlog of reactions, let them start to come up, one by one, to the degree that it’s currently safe.


Thus/Let yourself cry.

Experiential envelope

Find and rest in the entirety of the “experiential envelope.”

Ongoing teleportation/slide attempting

Explore whether you’re ongoing-ly trying to, right here, right now, instantly, instantaneously do/have/be something, someone, somewhere else, to have self or world be different in this exact particular moment or the one immediately next, and next.

Entirety of the thing

Let yourself always already be the entirety of the “experiential envelope.”

Infrequently attended

Ask, where on or in your body or anywhere or anywhen have you not paid attention recently or since time long forgotten? Is there a way to safely, non-force-ily, safely incline there (or then)?

Standing tall

Stand tall and balanced. What feels weird in your body?

Say a thing is something (m)

Say a thing is something. Perceive that it is not.

Comment: "whatever you say a thing is, it is not." (—Korzybski)

Body on mind

Ask, what does your body think about what your mind is thinking?

According to whom

See what you believe about something. Ask, according to who/whom?

Lightly experimentally intensify

Lightly experimentally intensify the (at least seemingly partially) bad thing e.g. sadness, muscle tension, etc.

Something wildly different

Stop what you’re doing and do anything wildly different than what you we’re doing on one or as many dimensions as you can.


Ask why you won’t do X? I won’t do this because...


Ask yourself, what is the overall thing you’re doing?


Ask yourself, how are you doing what you’re doing?

Pairwise cross-correlate long-range disparate body discomfort points


Completely check out; play

Total non vigilance, total vacation, deep-dive into hobbies or interests for minutes, hours, or days. Notice if you can’t.


Get lost In something, forget about the world. Notice if you can’t.

Try on X

Try X on and accept it as if it were you, were deeply a part of you temporarily. How would that be ok if that were actually the case, in the world where that was actually the case?

Strange believing and seeming

Explore how to have it be safe to believe the strangest truths--maybe they’re true or it’ll change to get more true over time, maybe the belief will be transient and something even better will come in time.. Explore how to have it be safe for the world to seem the strangest of ways, through-and-through. Maybe that seeming is correct or good, or it’ll sculpt to something better over time. Maybe it’ll be transient and something even better will come in time.

Radical intuition

Explore how to have it be safe to trust, to act on, or to merely openly entertain “radical intuition,” knowing without there being any seemingly reasonable or correct or even possible mechanism, basis in experience and/or method for a particular (or any) knowing, believing, seeming, expecting, acting, etc.

Terrible truths

Let yourself believe terrible truths or let yourself disbelieve terrible truths, in the service of reaching better, healthier, saner, more correct, more humane, more good truths. Believe, enter, embody, when safe, for the possibility of change and/or letting go.

Seek beauty


Seek your aesthetic


Sensory landscape

Ask, what do you want to see, hear, feel, touch, taste, smell, contemplate?

Ability lack identification

Ask, what ability or play or way of doing this, if I had it, would solve this?

Ability building

Ask, how might I do this or come to be able to do this? What would I do here that would make this and/or everything around it doable or easier?

Appreciate X

Thus. See the good in/of X.

Enjoy X



Sometimes can be helpful (and sometimes counterproductive) to ask, is there are more direct or immediate thing? Why can't I just straightforwardly (do/be/have/go after) X, right now?

Learn from your mistakes (j)



Love. Or consider whether love, some form or type of love, or just love, is the answer to X.

Current limitations

embrace precisely current but not necessarily future limitations, inabilities

In-this-moment inabilities

Enjoy your in-this-moment inabilties.

Explore temporal continuity

Explore perfect temporal continuity/continuousness/nonfragmentation/smoothness/non-gap-py-ness of attention

Slow it way down


Do it without skips or jumps or gaps


Break it into syllables

Break it into syllables. Say it syllable by syllable.

Do subtle

Do subtle, barely perceptible things with body or mind.

Gravity, bone, and muscle

Explore the relationship between gravity, bone, and muscle.

Posture differential (h)

Incline toward "perfect posture". Incline toward your body's natural posture. What changes?

Comment: Not perfectly formulated, and for some reason I'm not totally thrilled with the concept behind this one. Maybe at least needs comment about how problems can be on either side — one's posture can be imperfect due to eg muscle tension; or one's idea of "perfect posture" can itself be imperfect. Maybe I'm not thrilled because reifying the idea of "perfect posture" could be harmful

Don’t overthink things (jd)


Make your body available (h)

to the degree(s) to which it’s good to do so & in the way(s) in which it’s good to do so, make your body available for feelings, felt senses, urges, impulses, instincts, reflexes, whims, ideas, postural changes, movements, shifts, twitches, shivers, spasms, pleasure, pain, (dis)comfort, expansions, contractions, forces, energy, vibrations, waves, etc to come through & manifest.

Stop holding (d)

Stop holding your current posture. Stop holding.

Check in with yourself (h)


Underthink (d)


Think ahead (d)

Blend all your actions into one continuous smooth motion.

Don’t overthink things (jd)


Surrender (jd)


Allow (jd)


Be patient (jd)

Be/cultivate/surrender-to patient/patience.

Commune with the plants (jd)


Commune with nature (jd)


Align yourself with the natural flow of nature / the natural world (jd)


Love (jd)


Enter your heart space (jd)


Don't do (d; “metaaux”)

For a practice "do x", don't do x.

Do not (d; “metaaux”)

For a practice "do x", do not-x

Passively have happen; already the case (d; “metaaux”)

For a practice "do x", have x happen to you, or have it so you become such that x without acting in order to do so.

For a practice "do x", imagine that x is already the case

Comment: I'm thinking things like "imagine a string attached to the top of your spine and hanging down from it" or "imagine your shoulders moving away from each other". I'm not sure off the top of my head how those AT directions are phrased, I'll have to look back on them

Wait and see (jd)


Slow down (jd)


Listen to nature (jd)


Meditate with crystals (jd)


Prioritize being over doing (jd)


Prioritize feeling over thinking (jd)

Incline towards / prioritize feeling over thinking.

Let things get messy (jd)


Take the dive (h)


Use your strength (h)


Rest in restlessness (h)


Get underneath the level of story (jd)


Comment: Story, narrative, etc. What’s underneath? What’s ‘deeper’? What’s below?

Notice directness or indirectness

Explore whether you can just directly go after something and have it, do it, be it, or achieve it. Or, are you planning, learning, preparing, etc. If you are doing the latter, why not the former?

Comment: An alternative name/stance for this practice is, “notice complex versus simple.”

Thing behind the thing or bask directly

Ask not just what’s good about something, but also, what’s useful about it, compelling, attractive, persuasive, glorious, beautiful, perfect along some dimension, etc.

Comment: Compare with the practice of simply asking what’s good about something.

Bask in the goodness of badness

Bask in the felt e.g. compelling nature of some bad thing.

Comment: Compare with the practice of simply asking what’s good about something.

Everything against everything

Try checking each (and every) possible change [you make] against everything. check everything against everything. Or how does absolutely everything [that’s [in/of] you] incrementally feel about what you’re doing? down to smallest part/pixel/voxel/intention/stake/impulse/doing/will/whatever. Check in, touch base, with all of you.

Total self-consensus

try moving forward only when 100% of you is ok with the forward thing. if 100% of you is not ok then try a slightly or very different thing, which might be exploring the not ok-ness(es) or something else.

Pattern attending

explore attending to places in different repeating patterns, switching up the order in which you attend. cf microcosmic orbit, forward and backwards, as well as anything else.

Total ordering

Play with attending to “everything in order” and then repeating, so everything in order, over and over again, while playing with what “everything” (what’s the whole? what are the parts?) and “the order” should be.

Top down unilateral vs top down listen vs bottom up

Ask, in the next moment, should I unilaterally do something, should I listen to everything and then do something, or should I let everything move me?

Collect past self-resolutions

collect past resolutions, declarations, promises you made to yourself about behavior and the future

Selectively embrace the dark side and feel/enjoy/appreciate its power


Problem behind the problem

Ask what’s the problem behind the problem? the need behind the need?

Let go and rest in self-earned self-trust



Ask, how does that work? What's going on, here? What's this?


Ask, what does it say? What is it saying? What would it say? (To whom, if anyone?) is there a one-sentence essence or distillation of that?

Rub your face

Rub your face in a way that feeels good until you get bored. (Maybe wash your hands first.)

Verbally distill

Write down distilled/concise/summarized insights as they come to you, as sketches, first drafts. On a new line write a new version, or an addition, or anything. And so on. Maybe keep them all in a single document.

Imagine the worst

Imagine the worst case, the worst outcome. Is it as bad as you thought?

Ask, what might someone be feeling in a case or situation like this? Might you be feeling that somewhere? Where? How?

Explore an aftermath

Ask, what would you do if x stopped, went away?

Identify the/an ideal

Explore for and imagine the lived ideal version of the wanted thing in a/its context.

Causal chain

Ask, what’s the causal chain that led up to this?

Map or territory

Ask, is that a property of the map or a property of the territory?


Ask, are you encodings in words or memory or being or…?

Look for how to non-manage

Incline towards it being safe for it to take care of itself, no need for propping up.

Ask is there path where this doesn’t have to be propped up or managed, where anything in this space in some form can just take care of itself?

Look for “if could only just X”

Look for places where “if (could) only (just) X”.

Jiggle (h)

Jiggle jiggle.

Thus (b)

Thus. Thus.

Have fun with the practice (b)


Play with the practice (b)


Mind, body, world (h)

What's happening in your mind? What are you doing in your mind? What's happening in your body? What are you doing in your body? What's happening in the world? What are you doing in the world?

Comment: I noticed that this is sort of a way i slice things when i query what's happening


Explore how/whether/if you don’t know anything for sure outside this moment.


Explore how/whether/if you don’t know anything for sure about the future.


Make a whole-bodymind “self-interpersonal trauma cradle” where things can arise for which you can comfort and protect yourself.

Non-second-order believing and wanting

Explore how to not try to make yourself belief things. Explore how to not try to make yourself want things. (Or not believe or not want)


To the degree that it’s safe, let yourself be wretched.

Late-stage freakout or triggering

To the degree that it’s safe, have a late-stage freakout and even later ones. Sometimes the worst is saved for last, or second to last, or…

Comment: It doesn’t mean you haven’t made all that progress.

Systematic suffering

Intentionally suffer (gently) in various ways, dredge up suffering, (gently, aligned-ly, patiently) find, call up latent suffering, turn towards, catch, go into, facilitate suffering that is present or arises (non-physically, physically completely safely, with minimal drama and extraneous emotion).

Comment: One might add “inhabit,” or “dwell in,” but those seem to connote or imply or presuppose or “pre-conceive” (“too much”?) permanence.

Notice grasping/accumulating versus suffering


Suffering party

Have a solo or small-group suffering party.

24-7 suffering party

Have an intentional 24-7 suffering party (temporarily)

Suffering permission

If it’s safe, (try) give(ing) yourself permission to suffer (maybe implicitly/just so or for a (semi-)explicit block of now-to-future time.

Drama and non-drama

Be dramatic. Do the same thing but be non-dramatic while you’re doing it.

Explore intertemporal self-consistency

Incline towards your present talking collaboratively to the present. (present-present) Incline towards your past talking collaboratively to your past. (past-past) Incline towards your future talking collaboratively to your future. (future-future) Incline towards your present talking collaboratively to your past. (present-past) Incline towards your present talking collaboratively to your future. (present-future) Incline towards your future talking collaboratively to your past. (future-past)

Fantasy ideal maybe with realistic swapping

Imagine a fantasy ideal that would make everything ok. Try swapping in more realistic elements piecewise/partwise, to get closer to something you could really actualize.

Solutioning dependency checking

Ask, if X was done/complete/good/fixed would Y be done/complete/good/fixed?


Ask, why might this/it/X not work/succeed?


Ask, might it/X/this be otherwise?

Need/bad/motivated to (not) believe

Ask, would it be bad to not believe this/X? Ask, would it be bad to believe this/X? Ask, do I have to believe this/X? Ask, do I have to not believe this?x? Ask, would it be good to believe this/X? Ask, would it be good to not believe this/X? Ask, would it be bad to not have to believe this/X? Ask…

Postural pull (m*)

Does your body want to move into a particular posture, position, leaning-ness, curled-up-ness? If yes, see if you can help yourself get into that posture. Check periodically to see if there’s a new posture to move into, next.

Gestural expansiveness (m*)

Explore large body movements of the extremities.

Impartial part helping

Assume a friendly openness. Ask a part of you, or something in you, how can I help? What do you need? (You might also ask yourself, what does this need?) What would be good for you? What’s good on your terms (in all of that), and how can I help you get that?

Before moving on to something else, you might ask, what would make it ok for me/us/you/this to pause/end/stop exploring this (for now)?

Assume even worse/worst

Assume an even worse version of the (seemingly?) bad thing that’s (seemingly?) true. Fill in all the cracks of the worse-/worst-ness. What would you do, how would you respond if this worse/worst case were true?

Be a baby, be prenatal

Let yourself be a baby. Let yourself be prenatal. The reality of that, imagined or immersive flashback. Suspend disbelief. What was that experience concretely like, good and bad?

The opposite

Ask if there’s a part of you that believes the opposite (of this/X). Is there a part of you that believes that opposite belief, ongoingly, parallel, to the first part of you?

Counterfactual replacement

Ask, might X be ok, instead of Y? What good things would happen if X? What bad things would happen if X?

Truths, etc.

Try resting in how things seem vs how things feel vs how things appear vs what might be true or false vs what you know vs what you believe vs what you understand vs what you think vs what god would say is true vs what’s real vs what feels right vs what things look like vs what’s going on, here vs how you’d describe things vs…

Forward vs backward

Ask, is this/X forward(s) or backward(s)?

Desire, etc.

Ask, what do you long for, hope for, desire, want, care about, value, lust for/after, love—to do, be have, associate with, pursue, acquire, achieve…

Philosophical meta

Let your be pulled into thinking about metaphysics, philosophy, epistemology, phenomenology, agathology, cosmology, eschatology, mereology, linguistics…

Comment: Sometimes, often, extreme, abstract meta can be a real, nondeferrable bottleneck. You might see if you can go concrete first, if you can defer that extreme, abstract meta. You might bring in the meta protocol. But, often you relatively can’t!

Alternatives explanations

Ask, what are alternative explanations, stories for this/X apparent thing?

Concrete memories

Gently incline towards experiencing fully concrete, episodic, experiential memories.

Options, pros and cons

List some options. Consider the pros and cons of choosing each option and not choosing each option. (So every option will have its own collection of pros and cons. And then you might juxtapose the pros and cons of pairs of options, and so on.)

Trigger yourself

Expose yourself (carefully) to things that provoke extreme reactions. If you are accidentally or incidentally triggered, take advantage of it.


Temporarily let yourself [come to] know (or understand) without dictating the why of how you know or the how of how you know. (cf. radically unstructured coming to know/understand.)

Counterfactual past additions

What would it have been good to experience, at any point when you were younger, in the recent or distant past? How might that have gone? What was the experience, maybe sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, feel, meaning…

Memory/imagination triggering

Through memory, imagination, or imaginative riffs, trigger yourself, distress yourself.

Urges and impulses

Feel ongoing and the bleeding-edge arising edges of impulses, urges, impellment, compellment, compulsion

Three-dimensional, unforced scanning

Slowly explore the surface and physical interiority of the body with attention. Don’t force attention to where attention doesn’t easily go or where it slides away. Let it go; it will surely open up later, and you will surely come back to it later, possibly effortlessly and costlessly folded into something else.

Be gross (h)

be disgusting, be rotten, be foul

Notice expectations (h)


Drop expectations (h)

thus, if you can

Just do what you gotta do (h)


Eat the shadow (s)


Awareness of space, time, possibility (h)

experiment with noticing or becoming aware of [for example]



Imagine variants (h)

imagine ways something could be slightly or radically different

More body do (h)

continue doing what you’re doing, but see if it’s good to involve some other part of your body in it

Be loved (h)

let yourself, all parts of yourself, just like this, be loved by yourself or by another, real or imaginary

Safe shame (h)

let it be ok to be ashamed

Safe fear (a)


Safe rage (a)


Safe joy (a)


Safe grief (a)


Safe turn-on (a)


Pretend up is down and down is up (mo)


Notice care (h)

notice things people do to care for each other, even/especially unspoken, routine, small, mundane, subtle, or trivial things

Explore subtle posture (h)

subtly slowly carefully shift your posture, exploring all degrees of freedom therein

Minimum enjoyable wiggle (a)

changing as little as possible, move in a way that feels good.


use with care -- extremely psychoactive. Move either body or mind or both.

Yesterday (h)

recall yesterday and what’s good & bad about what happened yesterday

Tomorrow (h)

consider tomorrow and what’s good & bad about what might happen tomorrow

Today (h)

reflect on today and what’s good & bad about today

Pleasure (h)

seek out or summon pleasure, here & now, as something to study or to simply enjoy

Reflective posture (h)

find a posture/position that feels good/better

Vocalize (h)

vocalize freely and spontaneously

Be animal (h)

be wild, primal, animal


doesn’t necessarily imply/require being in a high-energy state. animals rest, too, etc

Treat yourself (h)

treat yourself to something nice. you deserve it!

Remember next weekend (mo)

you did so many things next weekend! it was such a time. think of all the things you did and didn't do next weekend, and how you felt when they were happening.

Be perfectly still (h)

find a comfortable position and be perfectly still, for as long as it feels good

Dormant energy (h)

notice, look for, or summon dormant energy

Rhythmic movement (h)

move your body in a rhythmic way that feels good, for as long as it feels good

Examine details (h)


Try on mythologies of yourself (h)

without becoming attached to them, explore coming up with grand narratives to explain patterns and connections between possibly seemingly unrelated aspects of yourself, your life, your history, your plans, and your relationship to the world

Value build-up (n)

Imagine yourself getting dropped into the world, naked and alone. What values/needs need to get covered? Imagine you covered them. What values appear next? At some point start adding new people to the world, one by one, and notice how this affects your value landscape.

Meditation + physical activity (h)

gently incline toward meditating or doing an/any aux practice while engaging in a physical activity like stretching, yoga, walking/jogging, or dancing

Backwards (a)

Reverse “I must do X to get my mind state Z” to “How might I get my mind in state Y so that X is the natural thing to do?”

Violence (a)

Let yourself feel how it would feel to do the violence you already want to do.


Allow waves of anger, shame, doing-it-wrong, doesn’t-work-for-me, fear, sadness, satisfaction, arousal to cycle faster or slower than you expect. Allow false starts and false stops.

Sit quietly in a room alone (jd)



Cf: "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone" - Blaise Pascal

Let yourself have opinions (jd)


Be entitled to your feelings (h)


Ask your "stupid" questions (jd)


Go see a therapist (jd)


Cross train (d)

do X as cross training for meditation


Practice eating ramen. Train for eating ramen. Eat ramen while distracted. Sit back and gently attend to yourself as you let yourself eat ramen. Let the while of your being become the eating of ramen. God I hope Costco has ramen in stock

Practice/train (d)

practice doing x. Train the doing of x.

Unpractice (d)

do x while distracted, remember how you did it. Sit back and gently attend to yourself as you let yourself do x. Completely immerse yourself in doing x/flow/your whole being becomes the doing of x

Be as irritated as you are, no more or less (*mo)


Be no less X than you are (m)


Be no more X than you are (m)


Ask for help (solo) (jd)

While meditating or otherwise engaged in personal practice, ask for help. Who the ask is directed to may vary per your aesthetics and beliefs. Consider that you might be asking god, or perhaps the deeper parts of yourself, or perhaps no one, or perhaps...

Sentence stems could be "how do I ...?", or "help me (with)...?"

E.g. "how do I be with this anxiety in a good way?", or "help me be with this anxiety in a good way", or "how do I solve this problem?"

Use profanity to describe things (m)


Be profane (h)




Go all-in on whatever’s happening right now (h)

thus, with four-part harmony & feeling

Explore and rest in points/manifolds of disconnection (h)



disconnection from self, feelings, desires, other people, pain, memories, etc etc

Ok to escape, ok to hide (h)

let it be ok to hide, from others, from the world, or from yourself; let it be ok to escape, into a room or into your mind

Be with experience in a good way (jd)


Meta-thinking (h)

what's good to think about? what makes it good? what's bad to think about? what makes it bad?

Stop thinking (jd)

Cut it out. Seriously, don’t do that. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Quit while you’re ahead...

Instajudge (mo)

flip a coin. Heads is good, tails is bad. For every thought you have in the next minute, judge it accordingly. Ask yourself what difference that makes.

Accepting resistance (mo)

if something is so (particularly internally) and you wish it weren't, speak to your resistance and say, eg: "I know you don't want me to feel worthless, but right now I do."

Find your voice (h)


Be alone (h)

thus, for as long as it’s good to be, wherever and in whatever way it’s good to be

Seek help (h)


Rest in selfhood (h)


Follow your instincts (h)


Here & not here (h)

Notice the ways that you’re here, now. Notice the ways that you’re not quite here, or not quite now. Don’t try to change anything, yet.

Hakuna matata (mo)

attempt to find a problem and observe that there are none

I still can't find a fucking problem anywhere (mo)

give voice to the part of you that wishes things were somehow problematic.

Peers and nonpeers (h)

what makes someone your peer (your equal) or not your peer? what is the nature of your differences? what would it mean to be everyone’s peer?

How are you doing? (h)

what’s your honest answer, the answer that you want to say, somewhere, but that you might not say to any actual person were they to ask?

Sit with the question "what if I'm wrong?" (*mo)


Too much, too little (h)

ask, what is there too much of? what is there too little of? what shouldn’t be here at all? what’s missing?

Everything is ok (h)

imagine a (possibly alternate/parallel) world where everything is ok. go into it, feel it, be there.

Mourn (h)


Forget (d)


Yawn. like a huge frikken yawn where you stretch your whole body and it's super satisfying (d)


Pushing & pulling (h)

notice where you’re pushing. notice where you’re being [naturally] pulled.

What is this drug? (mx)

If I were on a drug right now, what would it be called? Is this a good trip or a bad trip?

Watch for reactivity (h)


DIY p3 and/or p8 (h)

Make new versions of the lists in p3 and/or p8 for yourself, based on your own experiences.

Best attention (h)

Gently, dreamily seek the best place/orientation/position for your attention, right now.

Pay atentionto detail (d)


Own your shit (h)

Own your fucking shit: your problems, your grievances, your situation, your past, your feelings, your mistakes. They’re yours. Own them.

And while you’re at it: your achievements, your skills, your friendships, your future, your potentiality, your pride, your worth. They’re yours. Own them.

Confront it gently (h)

Try confronting it in a very slow, easy, gentle way.

Taxonomize phenomena (h)

Explicitly, provisionally taxonomize/categorize the relevant thing(s)

Be fluid (h)

Be fluid, supple, yielding.

Disobey (h)


Go orthogonal (h)

Consider the axis defined by what you’re doing (or trying to do) and its opposite. now go in an orthogonal direction.

Intention shaping (h)

Play with and perfect your intention.

Only action (h)

stream of consciousness for doing — don’t think or plan, just [safely] act in the world, for a bit.

Dream big (h)


Be generous (h)

Be generous and charitable, literally or metaphorically.

Look for what’s missing


Compose a will (h)

Compose a last will and testament, even a brief or incomplete or inadequate one.

Befriend (h)

Try befriending it.

Wrong (h)

Directly ask, what might I be wrong about?

Disconnected value (m)

Ask, what things do I seem to value that seem totally disconnected from the other things I value?


Main one I'm familiar with is "family".

The big picture (h)

Consider the big picture, or a bigger picture.

Identify the different forces at play (h)


Repeat an error (h; gpt-3)

Deliberately do something that embarrassingly backfires or leads to an embarrassing or inappropriate response.

Repeat a success (h; gpt-3)

Deliberately do something that leads to positive or satisfying results.

Reverie/daydream (h; gpt-3)

Let your mind wander in whatever direction it wants to.

Focus on what feels best/worst/neutrally good/bad (h; gpt-3)


Focus on the good/bad of a past event (h; gpt-3)


Concentrate on something to the exclusion of all else (h; gpt-3)

Thus and notice subtle or gross wavering or interjection.

Engage in overt positive/negative self-talk (h; gpt-3)


Engage in covert positive/negative self-talk (h; gpt-3)


Allow yourself to be emotionally affected (be susceptible) (h; gpt-3)


Be empathetic for example.

Allow yourself to be intellectually influenced (be vulnerable) (h; gpt-3)

Notice and allow for an influence on or by your thoughts and/or emotions.

Losing control (h; gpt-3)

Experiment with losing control. Have it, enjoy it. Then, let it go.

Masturbate (h; gpt-3)


Origins and name (h; gpt-3)

Ask what’s the origin of X/that? What’s the name of X/that?

All of it (h; gpt-3)

Ask, is it all of it?

Balanced perspective (h; gpt-3)

Ask to be balanced in your perspective. Can you see the good, bad, and ugly of X/that?

Totality (h; gpt-3)

Be a totality, or “everything.”

Offer help, accept help (h; gpt-3)


do something that will definitely work


Funny laugh (h; gpt-3)

Curiously, genuinely explore what happens if you try to laugh from your deepest place.

Try on new identities (h; gpt-3)

If you’re not sure what your identity is, or if you’re not sure if you have an identity, try on some identities. Test them. See how they fit.

Get curious about what’s going on inside you (h; gpt-3)

Go meta, get curious about what’s going on inside you.

Comment: There are lots of ways i can know something, like knowing something consciously (i.e. thinking about it), knowing something implicitly like a word in a language that i don’t know consciously but know implicitly, or knowing something unconsciously like how i can know that i know how to type without actually being able to recall any of the details of how i learned how to type.

Deeper than that (h; gpt-3)

Ask, is there something deeper than that?

Undo (h; gpt-3)

Ask, how might I undo this or undo its effects?

Not neutral (h; gpt-3)

Ask, what isn’t neutral about this?

Footsteps (h; gpt-3)

Imagine being a friend to yourself, following your footsteps, the path you took to get to where you are right now. Maybe that friend can point out, here’s the right decision, here’s the one you regret, here’s the thing you’ll be sorry about later, here’s the fork in the road, here’s the leap of faith you took, here’s the thing you should have said, here’s the way you got it right, here’s the way you got it wrong, here’s how you could have gotten it right.

Not the only thing (h; gpt-3)

Ask, what are three other things like this?

How do you experience things (h; gpt-3)

How do you experience the experience? How do you experience the experience of the experience?

Private wisdom (h; gpt-3)

Ask, what is the wisdom you have that you can’t talk about? (That you are unable to say out loud.)

Responding and initiating (h; gpt-3)

Explore the difference between responding and initiating.

Error message (h; gpt-3)

Give yourself an error message.

Other people’s minds (h; gpt-3)

Imagine you/your self (or someone else) suddenly and without warning enters someone else’s mind. Imagine the sensation of that sudden entrance. What would you see, hear, feel? Was that terrifying? What about relieving?

Camouflage (h; gpt-3)

How are you in camouflage? What are you in camouflage from?

What is the model here? (h; gpt-3)

What is the implicit or explicit model here? What would it mean/be like if that were to change? (Or to be obliterated?)

Just go with it and see what happens (h)


Keep doing what you're doing until there is something better to do (without necessarily specifically looking for some better thing) (h)


Opposite (q)

Along whatever axes seem important, do the opposite of what you normally do.


reversed stupidity may not be intelligence but it is search

Create affordance (d)

Can you turn impossibility into possibility, even if it's with the knowledge you'd never do it?

Active & passive thinking (h)

Incline toward noticing whether thoughts are “actively thought” or “passively/spontaneously arise”


Ask, what are the implications/inferences?


Ask, what are the presuppositions?


Ask, what are the premises?


Ask, what's the conclusion? What are the conclusions?

Upstream implicatoins/inferences

Ask, what implies this?


Ask, what causes this? Ask, what does this cause? Ask, what's going on, here, and, how does this work? Ask, where is the causing, starting, stopping, preventing, blocking, enabling? Ask, what exists, here? Ask, what's present? Ask, what's absent?

Intrinsic motivation

Ask, as far as I can tell, right now, what is my most non-fear-based intrinsic motivation behind doing or wanting this?

Someone else

Ask, do you have an expectation of someone else being there? Ask, who else is there? Ask, how do you know the difference(s) between you and them?

First feel

What's the immersive feel of the first experience you had that eventually participated as part of a collection of evidence for this/X?


How old are you being right now? What are all the ages that you're being right now? What's the feel of all the different ages you're being right now?

Spend time with the parts that feel younger



How are you doing any particular thing that you’re doing? Are there different ways? Is there an opposite way yet with the same intention?

Let it come to you

Thus, and instead of going there or making it happen, let it/them/X come to you.


Gently, exhaustively, explore all of it. Anything left? Is that all of it? And again? And more? And more? Anything else? Is that all of it?

Binaries and mutual exclusivities

What's the that to this this, or the not this to this this? With nothing in between? (Or, ask, what's the mutually exclusive and exhaustive list?)

Nebulous counting

Without making there be discrete things, gently try to count and maybe list all the things. Allow any indeterminacy to be as it is. You might talk about that indeterminacy, but you don't have to.

Enumerating nebulous pushing

Gently count all the ways you're pushing. Don't try to force-dispel any nebulosity. Allow any indeterminacy to be as it is. For each one or any or all nebulous sense, you might ask if it's productive or unproductive.

Start time

Ask, when did it/that/X start?


Do X really, really, really, really slowly.

First or already

What’s your first inclination with respect to what to do with X and/or what are you already preflectively doing with respect to X? You might gently distinguish between these two, if they're both present, and put an name to each or describe each.


Ask, what's the delta between then and now? What's the difference? What's changed?


"Then" and "now" can be milliseconds apart of years apart.

Give up how

Give up the "how" of how something needs to happen.

Ask for help (j)


Necessary connections

Ask, is this/it/X necessarily connected or contingently connected?

Body questions

Ask particular patches, regions, surface, parts, interiorities, volumes of your body questions. What are you? What’s good for you? What’s happening here? Who are you? Who are you being? What do you want? How can I help you? Do you have anything to tell me? What do you need?

Spacious eye relaxation

Look down at a wide open field and “release your eyes” until you get that zoom/parallax effect that eventually fades or runs out.

Seek sensory wonder in the "external" world


Comment: (last accessed: 2020-08-31) “agendaless involvement in sensory fascination”

Intend versus will

Explore whether which words feel better: "will," "willing," "intend," "intending," "intention", ...

Need imagining (m*)

Ask yourself to show you the need in full.

  1. imagine never getting the opportunity to have [thing] again
  2. imagine this thing not actually being the thing you need
  3. imagine not even wanting this thing, or needing it, and being fine
Walk five miles


Why not already

Ask, why hasn’t this sort of automatically metabolized itself already?

Safe to know, to understand, to look, to be able to tell

Ask, how might I make it safe to know it/this/X? Ask, how might I make it safe to understand it/this/X? Ask, how might I make it safe to look at it/this/X? Ask, how might I make it safe to be able to tell (if) X/it/this?

Solve or dissolve

Ask, how can I safely explore ways that dissolve or solve those bad things?

Right here, right now says

Ask, what does it say that I’m having this experience right here, right now? Ask, what does all this (sense/content/everything) say about everything else?

Let a bodypart come to you

Thus, e.g., let your feet come to you; let your legs come to you, and so on.

Waiting, here and now, things come to you, periphery

Patiently, gently wait, inclining towards and resting in the here and now, and let perhaps subtle things come to you, maybe from the periphery.

Waiting, raw/bare sensations, things come to you, periphery

Patiently, gently, maybe quietly wait, inclining towards and resting in raw/bare sensations, and let perhaps subtle things come to you, maybe from the periphery.

Waiting, one point, things come to you, periphery

Patiently, gently maybe quietly wait, inclining towards and resting in raw/bare sensations, and let perhaps subtle things come to you, maybe from the periphery.

Waiting, everything, things come to you, periphery

Patiently, gently maybe quietly wait, inclining towards and resting in everything, and let perhaps subtle things come to you, maybe from the periphery.

Main practice(s)


Unlike the preliminary/auxiliary practices, which are ad hoc and open-ended, the main practices are designed to be a seamless unity, a seamless, closed set. As with the meta protocol, the verbal rendering of the “main practices,” in this document, could be considered one possible schematization out of many. That is, there are multiple ways that the main practices could be validly rendered into words, using maybe completely different (or overlapping) words, for each rendering. As always, it’s important to keep in mind that this entire document is a telephone game, pointing at bodymind practices, progressions, and ways of being that are “beneath” words. That being said, one hopes that this rendering (eventually), and other renderings, are in some sense “relatively losslessly complete.” That is, this rendering and other renderings will hopefully retain (point to) the same amount of “essential complexity,” without loss of important and unifying detail and sense. Ideally, each rendering of the main practices would be, in some sense, a “complete, seamless, closed set.”

“Complete” (successfully rendered so, or not), conceptually or otherwise, note, though, that different people will use different main practices in greatly different proportions, time-wise, e.g. many people may spend much more time with p2 than the others. And, something like the meta protocol, or the “real thing behind it,” your intuition, should be the final arbiter of what one could/“should” be doing at any given time, as per usual. No magical button pushing, here, or anywhere. By exploring each of the main practices, and engaging the meta protocol with respect to them, you must come to implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, understand their interrelationship and appropriate usage, for yourself, on your terms, in your own concepts and words. You must find the “real” practice(s), the correct thing(s), behind the words below.

All that being said, some people have taken a preliminary stab at pithy glosses for each of the current main practices, as a way to remember what they are and as a way to bootstrap an understanding of how they might fit together and support each other. At a later time, I will work out how to explicate more of the principles behind their design.

Example glosses by a collaborator (br):

p1 - conceptual clarity p2 - do and will good things if you can p3 - become aware of everything without changing it p4 - temporarily emptiness/nothingness p5 - also become aware of everything without changing it? p6 - temporarily make everything better p7 - temporarily release everything p8 - 243 questions p9 - visualize the perfect day p10 - [not submitted]

Another collaborator (d) offers these relationships:

I think of p3 as more inviting, each point modifying or coming after the first; and p5 as keeping things that are already there still. p3 to me is more about turning up new things and p5 is about stilling turbulence

For p3, parts or feels can be threatened by knowing they will immediately become subject to p2 immediately upon being grasped

For p5, you can turn up things and create turbulence so that everything is moving so fast it becomes so slippery that you can't do anything about them.

My response to the above collaborators:

p3 is yeah sort of maybe (very) slow, soaking concentration-flavored noting practice, that self-generates new noting labels over time

p1 is more conceptual grain and fluidity than anything else

p5, very loosely, yeah could be considered a “continuous”/“indiscrete” [sic] version of p3, but it teaches a bunch of different things than p3, too, around stability, change, “grasping” (maybe in non traditional sense) and control

p3 is also a different take on “learning how to not change things” (as well as the limits of that) versus p2 which is more change oriented (though right thing right time)

p6 is sort of a “continuous”/“indiscrete” [sic] version of p2

p7 also has a bunch of relations to different “halves” of p2

Another collaborator (h/H) notes:

[p3 is] like an antidote to (what seems to me to be) the strong doingness/acting-upon-ness of p2

In general, as mentioned in other places, if things feel stuck or “jammy,” or things become “forcy”/“force-y”, it can be good to change which main practice you’re doing, to switch to a preliminary/auxiliary practice, to engage the meta protocol or meta meta protocol, to change postures, to take a walk, to take a break, to do the most minimal, personal thing in the (meta) spirit of the meta protocol, etc.

Finally, H notes:

i’ve recommended the prot to several people now, and i notice that each time i do i include some kind of disclaimer/warning about the language of especially the main practices. like “don’t think too hard, don’t spin your wheels trying to understand every caveat & get it all in your head at once.” i’m not sure it’s best to do that, but i want to sort of encourage people to sit with it even if it is overwhelming or doesn’t make any sense in the beginning. “just let it wash over your subconscious” <-- problematic phrase maybe & i haven’t actually said that to anyone, but it’s kind of what i’m thinking

The current renderings of the main practices are below.


[Unlike the preliminary/auxiliary practices, which are open-ended, the main practices are designed to be a seamless unity, a seamless closed set. At a later time, I will work out how to explicate some of the principles behind their design. In any case, by exploring them, and engaging the meta protocol with respect to them, you must come to implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, understand their interrelationship and appropriate usage, for yourself, on your terms, in your own concepts and words. You must find the “real” practice(s), the correct thing(s), behind the words below.]


[Will that you become someone who uses the practice regularly and effectively to achieve the goals of the practice.]


[old names: Elemental Analysis, Comprehensive Elemental Analysis]

  1. Incline towards producing one of
    1. a logical argument/deduction/derivation (standalone or possibly including a narrativized explanation), [What implies/entails this/X? What does X/this imply/entail? Why X? What is the reason for X? What follows from X? X=?]
    2. a description of a causal mechanism, [What caused this/X? What does this/X cause? X=?] [How does that work?] [(1/2) What’s going on? What’s going on, there? What’s going on, here? What’s going on, out there? What’s going on, in here?]
    3. a description of some spatiotemporal sensations/experience, [What is before this/X? What is after this/X? What’s next? What is adjacent to this/X? What qualities does this/X have? X=?] [(2/2) What’s going on? What’s going on, there? What’s going on, here? What’s going on, out there? What’s going on, in here?]
    4. an explanation of a phenomenon and possibly alternate credible explanations of that phenomenon
    5. an evaluation or appraisal of something
    6. instructions for achieving something
    7. description of an ideal, endorsement
    8. description of a goal state
    9. a description of a dynamical first-person perspective/experience (your present experience, experiential memory, inferred of another, or imagined), including mental, sensory, and somatic experience
    10. a question and possibly and answer, or
    11. a topic/subject and possibly content subsumed by that topic/subject
    12. a problem and possibly a solution
    13. some (or as exhaustively as you can) of your “actual/deepest/truest” (a) beliefs and (b) expectations—good, bad, and ugly, beautiful, endorsed, disendorsement,and relevant into words, in your “heart of hearts,” “throat of throats,” “gut of guts,” “genitals of genitals,” “sacrum of sacrums,” “perineum of perineums,” etc.: the beliefs and expectations and representations of the mind and body.
    14. some (or as exhaustively as you can) of your plans, intentions, willing, goals
    15. a meaningful story
    16. a meaningful autobiographical detailed excerpt or lifelong summary
    17. a plan for achieving something
    18. a list of that which you desire/thirst/crave, hope for, wish for, long for, etc.
    19. a list of that which you fear
    20. a list of that which you love
    21. a list of that which you hate
    22. a story/fantasy/narrative/scenario that is (a) exciting (and/or otherwise good e.g. uplifting or psychological) and/or (b) sexually arousing and/or (c) evocative if connection/intimacy/safety
    23. counterfactuals: for something that went one way or could have gone a way or might go a way or will go a way, how it could that have, did, or will go/gone a different way, elaborate on that, and what changed for that to be the case
    24. positive examples of something (things that are examples of X) as different from each other as possible, negative examples of that something (things that are examples of not-X) as different from each other as can be and as minimally different from positive examples of X in as many different ways as can be
    25. actions, doings; things you’re doing right now, volitionally or nonvolitionally, as broadly conceived as possible
    26. an personal inability/can’t/powerlessness and possibly a believable way to acquire that ability
    27. a “further purpose” a “for what you are doing something”; “I am doing/striving for X for/because”; “X is good because…”
    28. a memory
    29. any type of writing you want for any purpose.
    30. your motivations or reasons, beliefs, knowings, understandings, or expectations for or underlying the actions, doings; things you’re doing right now, volitionally or nonvolitionally, as broadly conceived as possible, as exhaustively or usefully as possible
  2. Get down (think or write down) as little or as much material as comes easily, even just a single relevant word or phrase. (And you can also patiently compose and/or revise as you go, or set up an outline structure to fill in, or do lots of messy freewriting, or a combination…)
  3. Choose, from the material you produced,
    1. a word,
    2. a phrase,
    3. a sentence, or
    4. a boundary (e.g. between two sentences; this can be stylized as the last word and punctation of a sentence and the first word of a subsequent sentence) from the material you produced.
  4. Lift it out, while remembering its context, and you might put an equals sign to the right of it.
  5. Now, on the righthand side of the equals sign, say the same thing using more words than on the left side of the equals sign. It’s ok if you produce something partial, imperfect, or nothing.
  6. Now, you might return to the original material for more content to repeat the exercise, or take something from the zoom/expansion/analysis you just did and zoom/expand/analyze further.
  7. Feel free to refactor, revise, expand, reboot the original material as much or as little as you’d like.
  8. For anything you produce, be willing to throw it all away, plan to throw it away, be willing to forget for something better in the future. Don’t push, don’t force, don’t strain. Let the whole thing go. Let the whole thing move and flow.
  9. You can also, and this is recommended, create new wholes.
    1. For example, if X = M + R + T, and, Y = Q + G + V, then take, say, R and G. And, do this: “Z = ? = R + G.” Now, what is “Z”, what is that “?” between Z and R+ G? In other words, instead of putting things on the left hand side of the equal sign and then putting more things on the right hand side of the equals sign—instead, first put things on the right hand side of the equals sign and then put fewer things on the left hand side of the equals sign. Find new wholes and larger contexts. You might find wholes contained in larger wholes contained in larger wholes…
    2. You might play with this template:

      [this/these] whole(s) Y is/are/contain(s)/= [this/these] parts M[, F…] + “just exactly/precisely [this/these aforementioned]/and nothing else”

      That is, M and F are known; you have some words for them. Now, what is Y? What are some words for Y?

    3. Another kind of inverse is adding a subscript to the word on the left hand side of the equals sign and then looking for definitions for the other subscript. For example, you might have “suffering =“ and maybe before you even try to fill in the right hand side, you might do:

      suffering_1 = suffering_2 = suffering_3 = and so on.

      You might ask, what is everything I could possibly mean by this word (or phrase) “suffering”/X?

      In this way, the word “suffering” can become more detached and flexible from the underlying language, while at the same time making each use of the word more precise. The subscripts do not have to be numbers; they can be anything that helps to differentiate which meaning/usage/sense of the word that you mean. That might be times or durations or conditions and so forth. [See also General Semantics for more on the idea of “indexing.”]

  10. Also, consider intensional multischematism. For example, you might say that the same M can be referred to by single word R and single word H. That is R and H have different meanings/intensions but they refer or point to the same thing or set of things. Further, R = G + H + T and X = V + W + Q. That is, (G + H + T) and (V + W + Y) each have different meanings, but correspond to R and X, respectively. Further, you might notice that, say, T and W, while using different words and meaning different things, in fact refer to the same thing(s), have the same extension. Another way of saying things like this is that the concept M, or that which directly represents M, or <M>, refers or applies to M using the word “M”. Or, you might say that both <M> and <K> refer or apply to the same extension; “M” and “K” refer to M and K which are actually the same. In our syntax and semantics, here, M = K.

    Example a: This M and this K are the same (thing). [not just the same type of thing. <this M> and <this K> corefer to M (which is K) and K (which is M).]

    Example b: All Gs are also Hs.

    [note that the above is ambiguous as to whether X, Y, Z, etc. are “bound” or “unbound” for any given X in the language/wrting above]


Places likely worth investigating:

  1. Where something seemingly X somehow leads to (or somehow depends on) something seemingly Y, or vice versa. (e.g. when doing something bad is good or when doing something good is bad);
  2. Where something is seemingly somehow X and Y at the same time;
  3. Where something is seemingly somehow X and Y at different times;
  4. Where something is seemingly somehow either X or Y conditionally;

where X, Y =

  1. true, false
  2. good, bad
  3. existent/present, nonexistent/absent
  4. necessary/unconditional/noncontingent, conditional/contingent
  5. possible/conceivable, impossible/inconceivable
  6. simple/nonpartful, complex/composite
  7. unified/whole/connected, separate/plural/multiple
  8. before or after, synchronous
  9. veridical, nonveridical
  10. beautiful, ugly
  11. that is something that has some attribute or property, that doesn’t have that same attribute or property

Further notes:


will = will(/intend/plan) [that P]; do something volitional that alters expectations for future in a specific way; willing[/intending/planning/expecting/intent [to produce (an) effect (that)]; goal, purpose, for-what-purpose, for-what-further-good(ness)-If-any, for-ness, in-the-service-of

acting/doing/do = do/act/cause/maintain/enable/incept/start/prevent/block/stop/end/facilitate/retard/stabilize/change/think/know/sense/judge/evaluate/ compare/differentiate/hear/see/smell/taste/look/listen/appreciate/enjoy/contemplate/imagine/grasp/accumulate/suffer/think/feel/have part in/querying/asking/wondering/imagining/storytelling/narrating/what-if-ing/solving/solutioning/what-would-they-do-ing/questioning/assessing/judging/evaluating/participate in/push/pull/raise/lower/attend/image/envision/visualize/interrupt/preempt/interleave/substitute/switch/meaning-making/meaning-dissolving, experimenting, waiting, observing, interrupting A

Background intention

Will Instructions Part 1

Will Instructions Part 2 (the “opposite” or “absence” or “antidote” of/to will)

Action Instructions Part 1

Action Instructions Part 2 (the “opposite” or “absence” or “antidote” of/to action)



[See also the p3 random sampler.]

This list is a work in progress:


[See also the p8 random sampler.]

(There will be a right way and a wrong way and a right time and a wrong time to incline towards answering any of these questions.) If can ask in a way/manner/sense that’s good, and it is good to ask at/during the time of asking through the interval of (possibly) answering or partially or fully answering:

  1. Who am I being (right now)?
  2. What/which is me and/or mine? What/which is you and/or yours? What/which is his/her/it and/or theirs?
  3. What is this/that/my [(necessary) essence/]nature here/there? What is this that I am being right now, here/there and how does it/that [(necessary) essence/](nature) work?
  4. What is this/that that I’m or this part of me is currently knowing/believing/understanding/representing/thinking/expecting, there/here? What do things feel/seem to be from its perspective, as it, from it? How does the world seem to be to/from it?
  5. What is/are this/these practice(s) for? Why, for what (purpose/goal/good...), am I doing (any of) this/these at all?
  6. Why, for what (purpose/goal/good...), am I doing anything at all rather than doing nothing?
  7. What question of these or any would be good to ask next?
  8. How is one to understand/know themselves?
  9. Why is there something, anything rather than nothing?
  10. what is the basis or ground of everything? What does everything depend on but this?
  11. cf What would be good to do?]
  12. What minimally and correctly/truthfully explains everything?]
  13. What is the deepest or most fundamental or most unconditional determining or causal factor or truth of what you experience or are aware of or attend to next?
  14. How does will and/or volitional doing work? How does nonvolitional or currently uninfluenceable enacting of self-change or self-telos work? What is the relationship between efficient(?) cause and telic or final cause?
  15. How do you come to know what is good and bad?
  16. Recall, feel back, to the immersive childhood (or prenatal or any age, as far back as you can go or wherever you’re drawn to or what makes sense or is good) feel, that sensory experience, that sensory feel, from the inside, from that perspective.
  17. Is this [current (self and) world] the best of all possible worlds? How do you know?
  18. What terrible tradeoffs am I making? For what am I holding out on, keeping what door open, for good or bad, for the slightest chance of X? How does that work and is that good to do? How do I know?
  19. What seems both terrible and (critically) necessary/needed?
  20. What will you never ever share with anyone no matter what about yourself, or your past, or who you were, or who you are, or what you want/desire?
  21. Where do you need to maximize something? Where will you never have enough? Where will nothing ever be enough? Where is infinitly needed or where is even infinity not enough? Why not determinate satisficing?
  22. For what must you risk the destruction of everything? What is worth risking everything for? What are you already risking everything for? For what must you risk destroying what you already have? What is worth that much that it is (seemingly) worth more than everything (or almost everything) else? What is so good about having a shot at X? Is (risking everything for) having a shot at X for some further good?
  23. Where must you be (self-)consistent and for what purpose?
  24. What would you do differently if you were truly alone or never accountable, in a good way?
  25. What do you have no choice about?
  26. What must you do no matter what?
  27. What outcome(s) must you avoid no matter what?
  28. What goal(s) must you achieve no matter what?
  29. In what ways can you not give up, in a bad way?
  30. In what ways can you not commit, in a bad way?
  31. What is taking (up) or consuming everything?
  32. How do things absolutely have to be? What absolutely has to be true? What absolutely has to be true in absolutely a particular way?
  33. What are all the things you’re doing or solving just so you can get back to X?
  34. What does or does not dictate global stringency or vigilance or room for error? How careful do you have to be in your life and why?
  35. Is the world (reality, the planet, the cosmos, life, being alive) good or bad?
  36. What would you tell someone if you could trust them completely?
  37. What would you tell someone if you knew the could and would safely and competently help you in a way that was ok or good for you?
  38. If I can do X then I can do Y; If I can do Y then I can do Z. So I should just do Z. But, then, what good things about X and Y might never happen?
  39. For what do you believe if you don’t do X then Y will never happen?
  40. What would be intolerable if it unexpectedly happened?
  41. What options or option types are you automatically/unreflectively discarding?
  42. cf the perfect is the enemy of the good; is the “perfect” the enemy of the perfect?
  43. Where are you getting the order wrong? Doing (or trying to do) A before B instead of B before A?
  44. What isn’t getting a chance to breath? What doesn’t have a chance to breath?
  45. What do you still feel (e.g. fear) from your childhood?
  46. In what ways do you still feel the “real immersive feel” of being a child? In what ways do you really feel like you haven’t aged?
  47. What was the first thing that happened to you or that you experienced that contributed to you becoming like this instead of like that?
  48. What are the real rules for how things work?
  49. Do you feel like you are the whole of your past?
  50. What did you leave behind? What were the clean breaks? What of your past must you confront or become or embrace?
  51. What would you do if you had unlimited resources? What would you do if you could snap your fingers and magically make anything happen? For what would you push a button to instantly make it happen? For what would you think you would push the button, but, if it were actually in front of you you wouldn’t or couldn’t? Why? Everything were to suddenly become OK, what would’ve changed?
  52. Where do other people’s “insides” or “insideness” live?
  53. What is the relationship between other people’s “insideness” and “outsideness”?
  54. Where is other people’s “insideness” and “outsidness” in relation to your “insideness” and “outsideness”?
  55. What is the relationship between your “insideness” and your “outsideness” and environmental sensation and your experience of environmental location?
  56. How do you know where things are in relationship to yourself?
  57. Is the knowing of spatial location (of, say, sounds) “inside” you or “outside” you?
  58. Where is knowledge of spatial location? Where is awareness of spatial location? What is the experience of spatial location?
  59. Where is knowledge of spatial relationships? Where is awareness of spatial relation? What is the experience of spatial relation?
  60. What is living a life like? What is being alive? What is it like to live a life? What is it like to go through life? How do you describe “what a life is”?
  61. Where does the past live? Where does history live? Do history or the past exist outside of interpersonal interaction/“social reality”?
  62. “Where”/“how” does death live? Can that “location” be otherwise?
  63. “Where”/“how” does the future live? Can that “location” be otherwise?
  64. “Where”/“how” does forever/immortality/deathlessness[ or not]/sempiternity/eternity/timelessness/“end-of-time-ness” live? Can that/those “location”(s) be otherwise?
  65. Where/how does pain and/or suffering live?
  66. What is the only thing that’s real?
  67. Where does truth and the transitivity of truth preservation live?
  68. Where and how does truth live in mind, experience, and behavior?
  69. What is the relationship between truth and freedom?
  70. What is the relationship between truth, freedom, and intolerably critical badness?
  71. What are you expecting? What would be better? What would be better than that, better still?
  72. What’s being left out? What is a frame that can hold everything (relevant)?
  73. What do you feel like doing? What do you feel like doing right now?
  74. Where is “infinity” and how is it represented?
  75. What is your basis for action? What are you acting from? What beliefs or world-seeming are you acting from?
  76. What is a basis for unconditional action? What is a basis for unconditional, a whole hearted action?
  77. What do you take responsibility for? (cf duty obligation)
  78. What is your basis for belief?
  79. What is an unconditional basis for believe?
  80. What is the difference between good and better?
  81. What is the difference between contextually good and ultimately good; contextually bad and ultimately bad?
  82. What is the difference between personally good and universally good?
  83. What is the difference between good and necessary? (goodness and necessity)
  84. What is the difference between good and right? (cf right=duty/obligation/responsibility)
  85. Is there any greater whole worth dying for (the good of)?
  86. What is the difference between this protocol and becoming a student of posture and movement?
  87. What is the difference between unconditional goodness and ultimate goodness? (cf imminence, temporality, sempiternity, eternity, timelessness…)
  88. Are causes singular, plural, or total/everything?
  89. What is true/existing/obtaining in all places, times, (worlds,) universes, contexts, conditions, timelessly, eternally, sempiternally, unconditionally?
  90. What are the limits on what is conceivable? What is the space of all conceivability? What are the limits on what is conceivable separately from other somethings?
  91. What is good to unifiedly [sic] experience?
  92. What do you want your life to concretely look, sound, and feel like? (etc.) How do you want your days to be filled?
  93. If there is or were one “intrinsic motivation” in all times, all places, all situations, all contexts, what is or would it be?
  94. What is the difference between one’s self-boundary and one’s sphere of influence?
  95. When something is bad, when should you change yourself and not the world, your intentions, plans, goals, etc.? When should you change the world?
  96. What’s real? What’s actual? (What things are real? What things are actual?)
  97. What are bodies? What is your body? Are bodies real?
  98. What is and isn’t reality?
  99. What desire or problem are you avoiding at all costs?
  100. What are minds? How do they work? What purpose do they serve? How does that feel from the inside? How should it be used?
  101. What is a (human) mind?
  102. Is everything perfect; are things perfect? If not, where/why not? (What’s bad? What (of everything) is bad? What’s bad here/everywhere? Where/what is concretely (or abstractly?) bad? What’s wrong? What’s not right?)
  103. How do you account for (the contents/value/means/ends of) “having believed” (X) without needing to still believe (X)? [small-/medium-/large-scale reformatting]
  104. What is everything that I rely on to know what I “should”/should be doing? [cf should, duty, obligation, responsibility, rightness, correctness, necessity, goodness, liking, loving, enjoying, wanting, desiring, hoping, longing, wishing, needing, preferring, nice-to-have, need-to-have, X-to-have][identity, self, other/not-me-but-another-self, me/I/myself, selfhood, personhood, grouphood]
  105. What is should-ness? What is allowed-ness/permission? What is beyond either? [cf obliged, permitted, forbidden, other/by-whom-ness, authority, for-what-purpose/goodness-ness]
  106. How do I know/tell when something (sensations, anything) is me? How do you know/tell when something (sensations, anything) is you? (How is that like something I do? How is it different?) [identity, self, other/not-me-but-another-self, me/I/myself, selfhood, personhood, grouphood]
  107. What is authority? What is the basis of authority? What or who makes authority authoritative, and how? Who grants authority? Who enforces authority? What are the benefits of obedience?
  108. Who will and won’t take care of you? Along what dimensions and what not? Who is and isn’t coming for you? Along what dimensions and what not? Who is coming/going to save you, and how or how not? Who won’t save you, and how or how not? Who do and will you love? Who does and will love you?
  109. When are self-trust and self-reliance safe? When, if ever, is a lack of self-trust good? When self-trust is lacking, in what ways is self-trust actually (still) present?
  110. How can self and other be confused?
  111. Who determines what goodness is? Who determines what things are good? What determines what things are good? What makes something good, likeable, desirable, enjoyable, ethical, moral, safe, correct, constructive, useful, valuable... ?
  112. If you’re experiencing pressure from someone, where is it actually coming from? [Is it coming from you? From them? Both? Other? etc.]
  113. What If X weren’t just so? What If X weren’t exactly just so? What If X weren’t exactly a particular way? What would be bad about that? What would happen? What would happen instead? What would that mean? What would be the improbable, fantastical ideal? What’s good about that? How would that feel?
  114. [x] What are all the good things about all the bad things? What are all the good things in all the bad things? What are all the mixed things in the good things? What are all the mixed things and the bad things? What are all the good things in the mix things? What are all the bad things in all the mixed things? All the good things about all the mixed things? What are all the bad things about other mixed things? [What are all the good/bad/mixed things in/about all the good/bad/mixed things?] [cf. comprehensiveness; exhaustivity]
  115. What does it all mean? What does it all signify? Where is all the lack/absence of meaning? Where is all the lack/absence of significance? Where is the meaning? Where is the significance? What is meaningful? What is significant? What is not meaningful? What is not significant? What is basis of significance? What is the basis of meaning? [cf. comprehensiveness; exhaustivity] [cf [x]]
  116. What are all the true things about all the false things? etc. [What are all the true/correct/false/wrong/incorrect/mixed things in/about all the true/correct/false/wrong/incorrect/mixed things?] [cf. comprehensiveness; exhaustivity] [cf [x]]
  117. What are all the real things in all the fake things? etc. [What are all the real/actual/obtaining/existing/veridical/fake/illusory/imaginary/mixed things in/about all the real/actual/obtaining/existing/veridical/fake/illusory/imaginary/mixed things?] [cf. comprehensiveness; exhaustivity] [cf [x]]
  118. How are you being tripped up or slowed down by belief in belief?
  119. “Why is the badness objectively real, something ‘out there?’”
  120. “Why are you a bad person?”
  121. “Why is anything objectively real, something ‘out there?’”
  122. Are you allowed to come up with/find your own solutions?
  123. What of your problems have you not yet solved? What of your problems do you assume you can’t solve?
  124. How does a mind decide anything? How does a mind decide? How does mind choose anything? How doesn’t mind choose?
  125. What if fear was unnecessary and you had none?
  126. What could you have done differently? What could anyone have done differently? [question is unrelated to the questions above and below]
  127. What concepts become unnecessary or ultimately meaningless?
  128. Why are you doubting this right now instead of something else right now?
  129. Is that necessary? What can happen anytime or next time?
  130. If you provisionally assume it will be like this forever, how would you move forward (with all of that exactly like it is, now)?
  131. What makes X bad?
  132. How would you move forward if you never meditated or used this protocol or did anything “inward focused” ever again?
  133. What if you completely stopped meditating or doing this protocol, temporarily? What then?
  134. What if you gave up the idea of meditating? What if you tabooed “meditation”? How would you move forward?
  135. What if you were “like this” for the rest of you life? How would you move forward?
  136. What if meditation/protocoling wasn’t the only way out? What if there was no out but also no need to get out?
  137. What do you do as you’re sitting down to “do the meditation activity”? What happens in the first milliseconds. And before that? What has already happened in the doing of that? What makes “doing meditation” separate from everything else? What if you dropped all that? What would meditation be then?
  138. What if there was no meditation or pre-meditation or post-meditation but just mind?
  139. What is meaningful for you?
  140. What is your meaninglessness? (e.g. personal death, e.g. heat death of the universe)
  141. What is the relationship between desire and intent?
  142. What is the relationship between desire and intent and behavior and outcome?
  143. What is the relationship between meaning-laden phenomenology and body?
  144. Where does agency originate from?
  145. What are the errors in your doing?
  146. What are the errors in your willing?
  147. What are the errors in your surrendering?
  148. What are the errors in your undoing?
  149. What is the relationship between self-conceptualization and doing?
  150. What is the relationship between self-conceptualization and agency?
  151. What is the relationship between self-conceptualization and planning/intending/intent/will…?
  152. Is it ok to look at the way “you’ve just been happening”?
  153. What would anyone do in this situation?
  154. What is the relationship between phenomenology or “internal” experience and plan/“plan”? [sic]
  155. What is the relationship between phenomenology or “internal” experience and expectation?
  156. How is your “plan” the same or different from simply everything you currently are?
  157. What are the relationships between natural planning and artificial planning?
  158. For what open questions do you already have the data [“within you”]?
  159. Does the world need to make sense in a very particular way? How/what is that way?
  160. How is your mind working right now? In what manner?
  161. What language or meta-language is your mind using? What is the lingua franca of your mind?
  162. What is the world?
  163. What is the relationship between meaning, completion, imminence, now, and stability, in no particular order?
  164. Say there’s something X that nothing “external” to you can give you, or that you can’t get doing “external” things. What is X?
  165. Say there’s something X that can only be gotten through “internal rearrangement.” What is X?
  166. Has anything ever-always-as-yet-still been completely untouched by all goal-seeking in your life? If so, what/where is that?
  167. Do you want to fuck and/or be accepted by your mom? Do you want to fuck and/or be accepted by your dad? Do you want to kill either or both of your parents or any or all your siblings?
  168. What as an AMAB or AFAB (a male assigned at birth, a female assigned at birth) or intersex or contingent anything, can you definitely or merely apparently never receive, have, get, do, etc.?
  169. Who’s trying to get things for whom?
  170. Where are you?
  171. When are you?
  172. What are you doing (to undo) that’s an instance of a(/the very) thing you’re trying/intending to undo?
  173. What happens in the seconds and milliseconds before you start “officially” meditating, and what does that mean?
  174. What is always already now complete and unified and pure and...?
  175. What is (your) fundamental insecurity?
  176. Would you harm, rape, kill, one-up, take advantage of, and/or gain advantage over another person if you were absolutely certain you’d never, ever get caught or face any (external, gross) consequences, on your terms?
  177. What are you doing to yourself X to prevent yourself from doing bad/shameful/evil/destructive/etc thing Y? (And/or to keep yourself doing either good or believed necessary thing Z?)
  178. The whole point of meditating was to never have to face what/X? What is X?
  179. How is [the very fabric of] reality broken?
  180. Does every towards have an away from?
  181. What is the unity of opposites?
  182. What is the unification of concepts?
  183. How does X contain Y? (“containment relations “)
  184. What’s the one thing you’d never allow yourself to be cornered into having to talk about? What are the things you’d never allow yourself to be cornered into having to talk about?
  185. What conversations can’t you (yet) have?
  186. What can’t you extemporaneously talk about (a lot), pretty quickly, maybe with a bit of a delay before you get going?
  187. What is the relationship between “cognition “and “embodiment “?
  188. What things in your mind that cannot express themselves are the same time?
  189. Is it safe to be radically vulnerable to yourself? If not, how might that come to be?
  190. What would still be the problem even if you were certain you were perfectly healthy and you had one hundred million dollars in a trusted bank?
  191. What would still be a problem if you were rich, stably physically healthy, and immortal?
  192. What are the relationships between inside, now, future, outside?
  193. How would you choose differently if no one you ever knew would ever know? Put a different way, if you could live perfect double or triple lives, where no one in each life would ever, ever find out about the other lives, what would you do in each life? Put another way, if everyone you ever knew or know gave you perfect permission to do as you wanted and also would never or know or be able to cast judgment on you or whatever you did, what would you do or do differently?
  194. In what ways are you not taking unified and total responsibility for your life? And what are the ways in which you are?
  195. What is/was your entire life going to be, including in light of possible sudden and/or unexpected death?
  196. What problems would yet persist even after “all your problems were solved”?
  197. Could you just exist like this, if you had to? (How could that be ok?)
  198. What’s your meta goal?
  199. What are you actually doing?
  200. Is here and now bad?
  201. Do you hate reality?
  202. What are the places from which you’ve never left?
  203. What are the ultraprecise, hyperprecise (interpersonal or otherwise) experience you want to have, need to have (to unlock, to uncoil, to move forward, to love, to anything, etc.)?
  204. How is your current trying/doing/solution-ing getting in the way of actual no-brainer, will-be-fully-endorsed/wanted, solutions, positive changes?
  205. What is terrifying for it to not already be true?
  206. What is the difference between any and every “two” “sensations”?
  207. What are you trying to maximize? Why not sufficiency? What will never be enough? Why or how do you know?
  208. Do you want it all to just stop/end/finish/cease?
  209. Are you trying to directly/immediate/instantly/something control (change, precent, block, cause) sensations?
  210. How are you beyond beyond [sic] fucked?
  211. What can you not accept?
  212. What present limitations of yours can you not accept?
  213. What are the things that nothing will fix (even if you do fix it?!)?
  214. What can’t you keep out?
  215. What destabilizes you?
  216. How do you know/tell what’s actually real?
  217. Who are you and what should you do?
  218. What class of person are you and what should you do?
  219. What in-group versus out-group are you really truly in?
  220. What automatically makes someone a parent or an adult or The Man or The System? (Automatically makes it so that those things are real and someone must be seen as an agent or personification of one of them?)
  221. What is the fabric of your world? (that completely comprises it, or parts of it, with nothing left over)
  222. What must the world be? What must you be and what must other people be for the world to be(come) that?
  223. What are the limits of your knowledge of outside this moment? What are the limits of your knowledge of the future? What do you and can you know about this moment? What do you and can you know about the future? What do you and can you know about outside this moment?
  224. [jd] If you had a remote (or option) that could fast forward through time (you'd still be living your life but would "wake up" at a future moment), what would you do? Would you use it? would you do it?
  225. [h] Under what circumstances would you betray your loved ones/yourself/your ideals in order to survive? [what’s that like?]
  226. [h] What dead ends are you heading toward or stuck at?
  227. What has been the same or unchanging since your earliest memory?
  228. Why do you expect everything to work, versus suffering, failure, disappointment, harm?
  229. Why do/did you think anything was/is going to work out at all? (preconceiving/presupposing X)
  230. Why do/did you think you were an agent with (a) goal(s) at all? (preconceiving/presupposing X)
  231. Where is the future seated? In there? In here? Up there? Out there?
  232. Where are goals seated? In there? In here? Up there? Out there?
  233. Where is the goal seated? In there? In here? Up there? Out there?
  234. What are you wrapped around?
  235. True of false and why: “I”(?) believe “I’m”(?) evil and therefore undeserving.
  236. What would happen if you basked in the goodness of your seeming/provisional perfect irredeemability?
  237. Where is the sky judge? How can it/they be known?
  238. What mouse are you to what reality cat?
  239. Where are the credentialers, the certifiers?
  240. What if, whatever all this actually is, is ok?
  241. What if life is suffering?
  242. What if you’re being utterly carried and held in this physical world, this very moment, and this one?
  243. What would happen if you were ok?
  244. What are all the ways actual empathy could work?
  245. What are all the ways perspective-taking could work?
  246. Are you a person, through-and-through? Is it safe to not be a wholly a person or to not be a person, when/if needed?
  247. Are you willing to have X forever?
  248. Are you willing to be exactly this way forever? How would that look? What would you do right now in that world?
  249. What is the true/actual (self-)language of the body(mind)?

Explore what your “normal ideal day” would be like, do this imaginatively, generatively, “concretely immersively.” That is, as best you can, experience it as if you’re actually there, in the first person, in real time, in full sensory and perspectival detail, including inner experience.

So, this includes, but is not limited to, your thoughts, feelings, everything, successes, failures, ease, challenges, rote tasks, fun tasks, texts or artifacts you’ll write/create or consult as you’re doing so, the reactions you get, how people respond…, how you feel, who will be there…, includes experiences of planning, expecting, anticipating…, remembering, thinking (content of those thoughts), beliefs, willing, doing…, how you feel in your body from first person, how you think about your body, what you want the whole world around you to be like, how the whole world works, your past accomplishments, you expectations of future success, your imminent experience of the past, present, and future.

This is not a concentration exercise. It’s ok to do it partially and imperfectly. Planning and reverie and (seeming) off-topic-ness are ok.

See if you can minimally effortfully do this, with as much allowing as possible. If anything gets stuck or jammed, let go and try something different. No forcing.

Let go as you do this. Allow what you thought you wanted to change endlessly (if it does). Also, try not to impose on what you want. What you want right now is what you want to the degree that it’s safe to want it. What you want can change to the degree that it’s safe to want it right now.

Again, experiential/sensory/qualitative, first-person concreteness is what’s key to this practice. Concreteness.

Additionally, with respect to “ideal,” above, also consider “intrinsic motivation,” what is “intrinsically motivating.” (The use of this phrase is intended to capture a certain pre-reflective ease, excitement, interest, and drive and is not intended to be a theoretical or ontological commitment.)

Also, holism is key to this practice, at least as something to keep in mind. The experience you’re exploring is a slice of an entire life, a slice of an entire universe, moments in an entire consciousness. Holism. Unity. Wholeness. Unifiedness. Seamlessness. Simultaneity. All together, all at once.

If you find that the concreteness is “too much detail” in that you “don’t care” about certain details and would prefer thinking more abstractly, see if you can fill in that “don’t care” (non-)detail with something concrete, and then see if you can fill in that detail with something intrinsically motivating. You don’t have to keep it. You can let it go afterwards. “You have to fill your days with something.”

You might find you can’t do parts of this or can’t do any of it at all. You might be blocked or cut off or cut out. This might be because you have the experience of being not allowed, or too selfish, or what you want is too childish, impossible, immoral, evil, pathetic, hurtful, dangerous, too hard, to risky, imaginary, a fantasy.

If that’s the case, just do the best you can. You might try, for each objection, to see if you can correct or handle that objection. If you cannot, just let it go for now; choose another practice and come back later, as with all the practices. Here you can also mix in practice [p2], the willing/doing practice.

Finally, all the above is the canonical, main practice. And/but, you can also try similar things with “the rest of the day,” e.g. when you wake up you can concretely explore your ideal rest of the day. You can do something similar for “tomorrow” and finally “goals” and “milestones” if those sorts of things are in your felt ontology.

p10 [experimental]

This practice might be called “minimal unit partially ordered imaginative/generative concrete planning.” That is, in some sense, it is a planning practice.

Explore what you want and what you might do by imagining/generating immersive, concrete experience, as if you’re fully living it, in two subsequent moments. And repeat.

first person concrete experiential qualities in —> first person concrete experiential qualities out

Incomplete, alternative renderings

A collaborator (mh) notes:

I find myself mentally replacing much of the "will" or "intent" language in the protocol (particularly p2) with something like "invite" or "permit,” both of which feel like "cleaner" versions of doing something volitional (cleaner=less mental baggage).

Another collaborator (jd) notes (paraphrased):

Regarding doing, willing, etc., and different understandings of the underlying concepts, the ontology of course being imperfect to begin with, there can be a distinction between more volitional doings and less volitional doings. And, there’s a way in which doings can feel more and less willful, from effortful to having a “nondoing” flavor. And, there’s an important distinction between the two: I can do a very topdown, or willful, willing or doing or there can be bottom-up doings, that are just kind of happening on their own. And there can be more bottom-up intention [will] as a companion to willing. And they feel very different. I’ve been inclining more towards surrender, but there’s still been a lot of doing going on. More precisely, I’m less and less the one doing the doings, in a way that happens more easily and on its own. And the word I’m using is “allowing,” or I’m allowing it. The doings are allowed, somehow, and maybe being lightly facilitated by me. It’s not like the practice is missing doing, it’s just light and gentle. […] Where I got stuck was doings and willings that were more an exercise of will versus allowing that was more bottom-up.

I note/respond:

the p2 language has [and has had, for a long time] “allow” and “participate” on the backend, but, yeah, this is coming up more with people. [One reason I haven’t emphasized top-down versus bottom-up, in the main practices, is that the distinction, eventually, in some sense collapses. Or, the line gets ever more blurred, or it very saliently moves. Some of the preliminary/auxiliary practices intentionally have a bottom-up flavor, e.g. “be moved.” Also, the baked-in emphasis on ability/can/can’t hopefully gives a flavor of circumscribing problematic top-down-ness. All that said,] I’m wondering if there could be something more explicit [or front-loaded, in the main practices, to help good things happen maybe sooner]. so instead of:

will/intend/[…] :: ~surrender … “allow or participate in that happening” do :: undo … “allow or participate in that happening”

maybe should be more like:

will/intend/invite/permit/facilitate […] :: surrender […] “allow or participate […]” do/non-do :: undo […] “allow or participate […]

reminding myself the current structure of p2:

2 main parts will/do, each with two subparts will/surrender, do/undo, each with three subparts: good/bad/can’t

notes on a couple takes/facets metaphysics of causation:

necessary sufficient necessary and sufficient neither necessary nor sufficient cause/start stop/end prevent/block enable facilitate retard/inhibit

I offered another partial schema, that maybe doesn’t front-load or specially emphasize “bottom-up” but is more explicitly balanced about this:

top-down willing top-down willing-to-enable plus bottom-up doing (and participating) top-down blocking-to-enable plus bottom-up doing (and participating) top-down allowing-to-enable plus bottom-up doing (and participating) top-down inviting-to-enable plus bottom-up doing (and participating) top-down permitting plus bottom-up doing (and participating) top-down surrender (and participating) top-down surrender-to-enable plus bottom-up doing (and participating) top-down doing top-down doing-to-undo / redoing-to-undo top-down doing-to-enable plus bottom-up undoing top-down blocking-to-enable plus bottom-up undoing top-down allowing-to-enable plus bottom-up undoing top-down inviting-to-enable plus bottom-up doing top-down permitting plus bottom-up undoing top-down surrender top-down surrender-to-enable plus bottom-up undoing bottom-up doing-to-undo / redoing-to-undo

Interpersonal practice

Formulation 1 (including Many Protocol)

(strategy flavored; mutual epistemics flavored)

A move M could be in the context of conversational or other local, real time interaction. Or a move M could be composite and part of a long-term plan. So, a move could be right here and now (or soon), taking place, once initiated, in a single moment or across a small number of contiguous moments, or a move can be planned for future, as part of a global strategy, or anywhere in between. And the number of people considered can be from n=2 to n=billions.

Less obvious moves, in addition to particularly other-directed moves: “non”-moves, receptive moves, waiting patiently moves, self-care moves, time out and stopping temporarily or for a longer duration moves, being-helped moves (e.g. free-associating, saying what’s most bad, saying don’t feel safe disclosing X, saying prefer not to do X without explanation or apology), listening quietly, going with the flow of what the other person is doing…

And, to be sure, we’re “moving”/“move-ing”/making-moves continuously and contiguously. We can’t turn it off. Any “non move” is a move.

It can be helpful, when doing the many protocol with new people, to start with just five minutes at a time, maybe trying five minutes just once in a single day, then five minutes again or ten minutes the next day, and so on. If it’s not working, don’t force it! Just do solo meditation or some other group activity.

It can also be helpful to start very far apart! Everyone ten to thirty feet away from each other! And then move in slowly over minutes or even days.

  1. Consider at least n=2 people: A (you) and B (someone else)

  2. Consider a provisional move M that you can take. (Some possibly counterintuitive valid moves M could be e.g. “waiting attentively” or “hopefully being genuinely attentive and responsive while simultaneously planning a move.”)

  3. Classify M as one of the below:

    1. bad for A and bad for B
    2. bad for A and good for B
    3. good for A and bad for B
    4. good for A and good for B
  4. For the selected classification in (2), of (a)-(d), classify this classification further as one of the below:

    1. believed false by A and believed false by B and actually false
    2. believed false by A and believed false by B and actually true
    3. believed false by A and believed true by B and actually false
    4. believed false by A and believed true by B and actually true
    5. believed true by A and believed false by B and actually false
    6. believed true by A and believed false by B and actually true
    7. believed true by A and believed true by B and actually false
    8. believed true by A and believed true by B and actually true
  5. Carry out the move M or return to (1). Of course, you can return to (1) at any time as your real time interaction unfolds or other conditions change.

Alternative presentation
Alternative presentation 2

[yay = good; bleh = bad] “Many Protocol” (Last updated: 2019-09-06; 09:19 CDT)

[See some interesting definitions in Appendix 2]

  1. Let there be A and B, which comprise a group G. A is a single person. B could be a single person or multiple people.

  2. Person A considers a move M. M can be (a) physically verbal, physical nonverbal, mental, or even (b) a “non-move that’s still a move.”

    • Examples of (a): a verbal observation, verbal question, a verbal request, a quizzical look, a shrug, eye contact...
    • Examples of (b): thinking about what to say, waiting patiently, waiting patiently with an open mind, leaving the vicinity temporarily…

    Moves can be complex, that is, moves can be made of submoves that are simultaneous and/or sequential in time.

  3. Now, say, something can be “yay” or “bleh” for someone. And, something can be believed to be yay or bleh for someone, by someone. And, two or more people, at a particular time, might disagree as to whether a particular something is yay or bleh (for someone or in general). Also, say, for our purposes, that there’s a fact of the matter or a ground truth, that that particular something is actually/truly (contextually, for a particular person at a particular time) yay or bleh, with no other possibilities. And let those possibilities be possibilities for M. That is, we can have a big list (exactly 64 items) of things that could be the case for M, where only one entry/line in the list is true at a particular time. That list is in Appendix 1.

  4. Now, so, person A selects and makes the best move M they can make, in consideration of as many moves as they have time to consider, and in consideration of the 64 possible classifications of moves (in Appendix 1).

  5. So, now, the move has been made, and results have obtained. And, now, everyone in G implicitly or explicitly chooses a new A and B(s). Now, go to (1) or (6).

  6. If things are moving smoothly and slowly, then, at any particular time, with perhaps some periodic indeterminateness, there is only one A and everyone else is a B. If things are moving smoothly and more quickly, then everyone is simultaneously, at the same time, at all times, both an A and B. Now, go to (1).

Appendix 1
  1. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  2. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  3. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  4. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  5. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  6. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  7. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  8. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  9. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  10. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  11. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  12. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  13. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  14. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  15. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  16. M is believed yay for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  17. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  18. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  19. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  20. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  21. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  22. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  23. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  24. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  25. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  26. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  27. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  28. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  29. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  30. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  31. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  32. M is believed yay for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  33. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  34. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  35. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  36. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  37. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  38. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  39. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  40. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  41. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  42. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  43. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  44. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  45. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  46. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  47. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  48. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed yay for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  49. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  50. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  51. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  52. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  53. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  54. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  55. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  56. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed yay for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  57. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  58. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  59. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  60. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed yay for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  61. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  62. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly yay for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
  63. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly yay for (all) B(s).
  64. M is believed bleh for A by A and believed bleh for A by (all) B(s) and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by A and believed bleh for (all) B(s) by (all) B(s) and actually/truly bleh for A and actually/truly bleh for (all) B(s).
Appendix 2

Formulation 2

(persuasion flavored)

For (A), (B), (C) and (D) is that relevant ability of mine veridical and veridically obvious? [If not can I veridically and veridically obviously recursively gain the ability?]

And, for (A), (B), (C) and (D) is exercising that relevant ability of mine sufficiently low-cost in itself?

And, for (A), (B), (C) and (D) is exercising that relevant ability of mine sufficiently low-cost in terms of (external) opportunity cost, i.e. is there no better thing to do than exercising these (A), (B), (C) and (D)?

And, for (A), (B), (C) and (D) is it actually, truly, veridical and veridically obvious no-brainer good for me to exercise these particular (A), (B), (C) and (D)?

  1. Can I cause or “cause” it to be the case, through action or inaction, that for person P (doing) X (immediately or at a definite future time or at an indefinite future time but sufficiently soon for me and inevitably) is an obvious no-brainer for them, and with recognizably obviously no better alternative, that (doing) X () is essentially a recognizable-to-them need? [with no false positives and no false negatives, that is they see perfectly clearly exactly what it will do for them as well as whether or not that’s net good, and, even better this is in no way distressing?]

    Is it the case that person P finds that doing X (immediately or at a definite future time or at an indefinite future time but sufficiently soon for me and inevitably) is an obvious no-brainer for them, that doing X () is essentially a recognizable-to-them need?

  2. Can I cause or “cause” it to be the case, through action or inaction, that person P’s expectations for having done X are perfectly fulfilled immediately, mediately for all mediates, and terminally?

    Is it the case that person P’s expectations for having done X are perfectly fulfilled immediately, mediately for all mediates, and terminally?

  3. Can I cause or “cause” it to be the case, through action or inaction, that the effects of person P having done X, immediately, mediately for all mediates, and terminally, are good for person P?

    Is it the case that the effects of person P having done X, immediately, mediately for all mediates, and terminally, are good for person P?

  4. Can I cause or “cause” it to be the case, through action or inaction, that the effects of person P having done X, immediately, mediately for all mediates, and terminally, are, immediately and retrospectively, recognizably-to-them, no-brainer, veridical and veridically seemingly obviously good for person P?

    Is it the case that the effects of person P having done X, immediately, mediately for all mediates, and terminally, are recognizably-to-them, no-brainer, veridical and verdically obviously good for person P?

Finally, will this inevitably and obviously be a net benefit to everyone?

Can I cause people to know what’s good for me? Can I cause people to understand the synergy of reciprocity? Can I cause people to long-term coordinate with me? Can I give people a reason to long-term coordinate with me? Actually these are all superfluous or they are abilities that follow from the original ability lay down..

Good for everyone and everything. Strategically helping; recognizably good cascades…

Formulation 3

(after Leibniz)

What is the best of all possible worlds?

How do I/you know?

What does this imply for my action?

Formulation 4

(after Kant’s Categorical Imperative)

What would anyone ideally do in my exact situation?

If a random person were perfectly airdropped into my exact being and situation, what is the best thing they could do?

via e.g.:

The Formula of the Law of Nature: "Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature."

The Formula of the End Itself: "Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end."

The Formula of Autonomy: "So act that your will can regard itself at the same time as making universal law through its maxims."

The Formula of the Kingdom of Ends: "So act as if you were through your maxims a law-making member of a kingdom of ends."

Formulation 5

(mutual knowledge)

* = know/believe/think/imagine/expect/predict/anticipate/retrospectively interpret

You know that I know that you know that X is good. You know that I know that you know that Y is bad I know that you know that I know that that same X is good. I know that you know that I know that that same Y is bad. We have mutual understanding that X is good. We have mutual understanding that Y is bad.


Lists and more

A few of these sections are sort of “less clear” in some ways than the main practices. Those are sort of “noncanonical” in some sense. I’m not sure how to slice and dice all this yet


So, I suspect the way it goes is, there will be something both so bad and so difficult to change that a person tries everything and then becomes a systematic meditator.

And then a person it meditating and all sorts of things start to get better, but, highly disconcertingly, the deepest worst stuff that can barely look at or can’t look at it all seemingly starts to get worse.

And then finally, finally, finally, finally, finally hundreds but likely a thousand or two thousand hours in, or more, that very worst thing uncoils. (With sometimes intermediate mini-uncoilings.)

I think the combination of intermediate very hard things getting better (when nothing else was really touching them) combined with short- and long-range nonmonotonicities. “So much getting better! So much getting worse?!” makes all this very confusing even if you sort of know what’s going on.


Undefined and explications


Sensation and representation and belief and expectation, how are all these related? It can be hard at first to experience things like “sensational imprint as such” or “representation as such” or both at once or are they two sides of the same coin? The analogies below are wrong but possibly evocative…

Can’t-look-yet (“avoidance”)

There will be thousands of things that are hard to “look at.” For any particular thing that you can’t look at, you won’t be able to look at it until you can. Your mind figures eventually figures out how to make it safe to look, and then you find yourself looking or you remember to look and you find that this time you can figure out how to do so.

Usually the way your mind figures out how to make it safe to look will be necessarily roundabout and indirect, in a way that you couldn’t have planned or directed in advance. So it goes.

Nevertheless, it can sometimes be helpful to make a list of the classes of things that are hard to look at, as a way to help your mind more quickly get it’s bearings. Below is a messy sample list of the kinds of things one might classify in one’s mind as “avoidy” or “attention-redirecty.”

Again this is a hard thing to do willfully, and one shouldn’t do it forcefully, but it can be helpful to keep in mind “(self-)cornering”, as in “nothing left to do but look” and “surfing up the terribleness gradients”, using experiential badness as a way to prioritize and navigate. Sometimes badness will come up that seems tangiential or in reaction to what you’re doing, but, in fact, it’s directly related, and in some sense should be prioritized.


If only one could make a list of what needs to be attended to, and then one could just go through the list. Unfortunately, people’s ontology and ordering for what’s good to do when will be idiosyncratic and complex and evolving and ultimately (often) very fine-grain

But, it does matter what you do when, and that’s part of wayfinding. But, when you just don’t know what to do, you can be systematically experimental. This helps at least somewhat to keep from systematically leaving something out.

Sometimes you might experimentally want to increase the rate and depth of breathing, if breathing has become too subtle to offer certain kinds of systemic feedback.

also: the subtle movements of your eyes, the subtle movements of muscles in the back of your head and neck, subtle movements of the tongue and jaw, glottis, lips, palate.

states can be important too: sexually aroused, not sexually aroused, desirous of sex, not desirous of sex, possibly various states of emotional arousal

Finally, here are some ways that people systematically leave things out; as best you can make sure to not be systematically avoiding anything, of course with fast moving mind (belief/expectation/thought/imagination/feared possible truths and outcomes, etc.) and sensation stuff, but also old injuries, unsettling or unpleasant sensations around permanent pins or staples from old surgeries, scars (injury or cosmetic), genital circumcision, feared body stuff (cancer? precancer? did i fuck up nerve/ligament/tendon permanently? etc), phantom or feared teeth and jaw stuff, unpleasant “wrong, nervy” stuff. or maybe you don’t like your hands or feet or stomach or thighs or something. don’t avoid.

Exhaustivity and bottlenecks

don’t skip anything, don’t bypass anything, don’t force anything. don’t double-down, you’re probably missing something somewhere else. if you accidentally force, reverse it as soon as you possibly can. rare, weird, unusual, surprising, or uncommon stuff matters. it could be a clue to a systematic avoidance or a bottleneck. eventually you have to touch everything in every way, think “everything,” believe “everything,” do “everything”, remember everything, often from multiple angles, over and over again, in the right global order, though with plenty of room for backtracking and mistakes. every good thing, every bad thing, every trauma, every childhood terror. it’s finite. don’t do so any session indiscrimately; and catching small details can save dozens or hundreds of hours, tiny (or large) unexpected body locations or depths from particular angles or along particular paths, far removed from each other in partially repeating, complex orders; the right turn or surrender to memory or thought or reverie—spending hours painstakingly untangling (local or distributed) X is worth it and necessary, interleaving doing that with large excursions to elsewhere in body and mind may help you find what’s “secretly” blocking that untanglng. sleeping, watching tv, conversing, throwing yourself into experience may offer clues to what to do next. it’s finite.

“slow is smooth: smooth is fast”, blah blah

So sometimes things can look a lot like “contemporary classical noting practice.” [sic]

(Mental action) and the attentional manifold

When you’re “doing things” in meditation, with what are you doing it? Your muscles? Your mind? Your phantom/ghost hands? Subtle or gross eye activity? Your jaw? The muscles in the back of your neck? The muscles in the back-base of the skull? Are the big motions or small motions? Sweeping or perfectly still attention? Vague or pin-point precision? Two dimensional, three dimensional, or conforming to a surface?

The use of the will

one can of course will changes in life situation and that can be really good

the will stuff explicitly in the practice is (obviously? not obvious at all?) intended to largely be in relation to the practice. some of it will be life goal stuff and intention stuff and planning stuff because of how all that is “imminent” in the mind.

indeed, specifically things like “have this resolve without the use of force in a way that I retrospectively endorse” <-- and keep error checking and tweaking the thing behind the words (and refining the words)

“have this muscle tension go away in a way that doesn’t fuck up something somewhere else”

and there’s a very feely/modulatory quality to it, error checking the willing as feedback starts to come in, ways the willing isn’t achieving or heading towards the right thing, so somehow the “how” or the “endpoint” of the willing has something wrong with it

I’ll usually explicitly will something for brief periods, tweaking it as a I go, and then drop it when I eventually understand how it’s problematic or it’s done enough work that doing something else practice-related is higher-value.

I’ll also examine what I’m already implicitly willing, what I’m already implicitly trying to have happen, because it might be problematic. I might be pushing against something that’s not ready to move, or I might be trying to achieve something problematic out in the world, in the what, how, when, or order. there might be something better to mediately will that gets the same thing or better distally.

Jonathan [8:24 AM]

[…] for better or worse i have distinctions like (quick and nonexhaustive list):

possibly helpful theoretical distinctions - winding vs unwinding (with correlates to tension) - practice as global unwinding (in some sense), unification

practice diaries: - tension solves - piecing together memories - (re-)understanding one's past - holding the right things in attention - emphasis on somatics

Using your time

This is a very, very, very, very rough breakdown of how you might use your time while practicing. It could be more granular, and all the percentages could be tweaked more. Note that each “level” adds up to 100%. For example, it’s ballpark suggested that p2 might be 80% of 72% of your total practice time. Or, stated more imprecisely, if you’re doing the protocol proper, explore doing lots of p2. These percentages may change as we learn more. For example, the ballpark suggestion for doing the meta protocol might go down or up. Also, in the beginning you might spend much more time on the preliminary/auxiliary practices, and so forth. These are intended to be the very-long-run breakdowns.

protocol 100%
    preliminary/auxiliary practices 4%
    other-person-inclusive practices 2%
    meta protocol 17%
    meta meta protocol 5%
    protocol 72%
        p0 1%
        p1 2%
        p2 80%
        p3 2%
        p4 2%
        p5 3%
        p6 2%
        p7 2%
        p8 2%
        p9 2%
        p10 2%

Important: It’s normal to “orbit” this document and the practices, to read this and put it down for a while, or to do the practices and then do other life things for a while. There are many paths up the mountain and many often necessary “detours,” which aren’t detours at all, of course.

A note on force (plus a brief mention of “redo-to-undo”)

[minimally edited placeholder transcript] I want to call this a brief note on Force. I've made it pretty clear in different places to not be forcy. And I don't think I'll define forcy, here. But, there's something about getting something to happen, something about threading a needle in a way that feels potentially bad. (Though it might only feel slightly bad! It might feel like necessary-tradeoff progress. Try to avoid needle-threading in the first place! It might almost never be worth it, if avoidable. Try to figure out or incline towards why it’s happening in the first place versus something cleaner.) There's potentially a sense of effort. It can be extreme, subtle, or somewhere in between.

But let’s say needle-threading has already happening. Force has already been used in the system. (Usually there’s some, or even a lot, even if there’s been minimal needle-threading. [And then, by definition-ish, there will have been force, if there has been needle-threading.] Force is often a strategy that gets used, in any case, maybe prior to even having started to meditate.)

There's a thing that the mind does, which is, in order to sort of do something for the last time or in order to sort of undo something, the mind kind of like replays it or re-does it, that one last time.

So if a person is shying away from force completely, but there's already force in the system, then there's a way in which it will be harder for that remaining force to get undone.

So sometimes it's important to surrender to or to go into that what is generally “not supposed to do,” (in this case, force) so I don't want to say like globally don't be forcy. But sometimes subtly or not so-subtly ease into forcing, or already existing forcing, or allow latent or hidden forcing to appear.

And this “going into,” or “allowing,” or “surfacing,” is for the purposes of sort of self-liberating that remaining forcing or dissolving it or undoing it or undoing its leading edge.

So this is nuancing on top of the general but not universal principle of avoiding forciness or forcing. (And this “redo-to-undo” principle/heuristic also more generally applies. See p2 for more pith pointers to this.)

Note on needle-threading or threading the needle: One can use needle-threading as sort of a neutral term, and there can be good versions and bad versions. Neutrally, the term is intended to invoke a sense of “‘correctly’ navigating a narrow path forward.” Good versions might be careful, gentle, precise that lead to ultimately stably expanded optionality. Bad versions are sort of “carefully, precisely making a globally-net-negative tradeoff, making seeming local progress but also ultimately making more work than if had done something different.” This latter version might sometimes feel like “doing something that’s alongside or causing joint-grinding muscle tension, somewhere.” Use of the meta protocol can help to determine whether a good version or bad version is happening or if it might be better to be doing something else entirely. [The opposite of needle-threading might be “breadth-first-ing” [cf. depth-first-ing, too]. Both/all can be good, for various reasons, at different times.]

Meditating by coincidence

have you ever heard of so-called “coding by coincidence” i think from dykstra? he’s kind of a dinosaur and it’s not the right thing to write careful proofs for one’s code before coding 99% of the time. but there’s a nice thing in there, something like:

maybe hope

yes experiment

but don’t guess? kind of?

sort of going for exact knowledge of what does what. or to know that if one does X, given this context, within 7-31 hours Y will happen, inevitably. sort of.

Failure and other seemingly permanent and bad things

Sometimes parts of the mind believe they will fail, even when, say, the rest of the mind believes in, say, trying and hope and best-effort. Sometimes the way to help that part of the mind is to “fully go into it,” to (temporarily) fully and completely believe that part, be that part, in such a way that you really believe that you will fail, or that you have failed, even forever. This sometimes does not feel good (understatement) and can be scary, especially the first time, and possibly every time (in the likely case that multiple parts of the mind believe that it will fail). But, in that “fully going into it” that part of the mind ultimately relaxes, updates, realizes all the goodness around it and comes to believe that it in fact will not fail. Sometimes you have to fully become something (bad) to become something else (good) even if it temporarily takes you over. Remember that you don’t have to go into something until and if it’s good and safe to do so and only when you in fact can do so. So don’t necessarily, say, try to up front find all the places and ways that you will fail and then, say, try to fully believe that you will fail in that way. Engage p2, the meta protocol, etc. Right time, right place, right manner, etc. (All of the same goes for failure, failing completely, giving up hope, failing forever, forgetting completely, and other seemingly scary, bad, or permanent things.)

How bad does it have to get?

[…] Today at 10:45 AM

[Question/comment wondering if it might be possible to never have to “go into badness,” that, in principle and possibly even in practice, whether there’s always a better option, and then there would be value of reminding people of that over and over again in the world where it’s true.]

Mark 34 minutes ago

I think it will be exquisitely personal/idiosyncratic/contextual, depending on the fine-grain details of that person’s mind. Generally, there does seem to be an at least micro-redo-to-undo, mitigated or made safe by equanimity and various other preparatory things. Agreed that wording and preconceptions will have significant influence on “how bad things are,” though.

I do somewhat less qualifying in the document, or a different pattern of qualifying, because a lot of stuff sort of “comes out in the wash” with hundreds or thousands of hours of meditation. And the meta protocol is also intended to help people correctly orient around interpretation of the instructions. I certainly am not fully accurately calibrated and if I had more resources I would likely qualify more. There is a lot of gentleness in the prelim/aux practices that is elided in the more terse main practices.

Mark 31 minutes ago

There is also, I suppose, “the law of equal and opposite advice”--some people will shy away too much from discomfort. And of course some people will flagellate themselves. I think, long-run, it’s very good to be able to “go into badness”--this becomes ever more safe and constructive/productive over time, generally, I think. cf. “equanimity”

Mark 31 minutes ago

ever-less looping and piling on over time

Mark 27 minutes ago

Sometimes (often) “a better thing” just isn’t locally available and one has to “keep going through hell.” Other times a precise (and possibly necessarily personalized) reminder that something better is available makes a colossal difference. And calibrating how and when to remind or not will be somewhat empirical, given patterns of students, though of course deep principles could be elicited.

[…] 19 minutes ago


Mark < 1 minute ago

I will note that there’s an important question here of how “soft/safe/gentle” [not to conflate gentle and safe but they are correlated] meditation can be in the limit. If we understood this better, and I hope to, plan to, intend to, in collaboration with others, it will make meditation accessible to a much wider range of people, in a much wider range of life circumstances. If someone could trust that nothing particuarly terrible could happen or that it would happen predictably, then it would be more likely they could do work/career/money and relationship/family things while being a serious meditator. And that would be a much better world. This is an open area of research and an extremely important area of research. Safety and effectiveness (including consistency, monotonicity, ease of starting, initial palatability and interpretability, ideoloogical non-clashing, minimizing negative musculoskeletal involvement, minimizing “temporary trauma,” ease of talking about with other people, everything.

[…] 10 minutes ago


Mark < 1 minute ago

One way to resolve possible contradictions somehow involving badness being good is to make the distinction between something feeling bad and something being bad. That is, one might accept that feeling bad can sometimes be good. Further, to equivocate, one might accept that feeling bad can sometimes straightforwardly feel good! (Some people will say, of course! cf. “hurts so good,” painful pleasure, massages, erotic pain, etc.)

The deeper thing, here, is something like “goodness” and “badness” are words and a person’s concepts of goodness and badness will contextually, contingently, and idosyncratically apply to, and in the context of, complex phenomenology and knowing that will be a complex mixture of valenced and unvalenced experience. And those concepts and that phenomenology and the relationship between the two will change as life and meditation progresses.

Extremity replay and creativity: panic, trauma, sexual arousal

Sometimes old stuff will “come up” (come into awareness). Sometimes it will be obvious that it’s coming up to “burn off” (become stably absent) and other times this won’t be obvious (or it needs to come up but it’s not yet time for it to “burn off.”

The general principle is that sometimes the mind needs to at least partially re-experience something bad in order to make sense of it or fully metabolize it so better things can happen in the future.

(Also, sometimes the mind, in the course of problem-solving puts together things in novel (and not entirely correct) ways that are temporarily scary [terrifying] or otherwise bad [horrible].)

Sometimes this old or new stuff will be quite experientially extreme:

e.g. panic attacks, derealization, depersonalization, automaticity, edging into fugue states, air hunger, traumatic sleep paralysis, distorted phenomenology, fragmented phenomenemogy, weird feeling ness, strange feeling ness, re-living or de-novo inventing medical scares, feel like dying, feel having a stroke, confusion (from low blood sugar or a bad trip or transient psychosis for whatever reason), “brain not working, “mind not working,” “feel like you’re going [permanently] crazy,” “can’t think straight,” “feels like I’m dying/I am dying,” seeming or sense or awareness of critical wrongness, “sleep or dream wrongness like vision or consciousness are distorted during dreaming, altered states of consciousness from fevers or infections or metabolic or digestive or etc illness or fatigue or brain fog, or weird transient consciousness-altering bloodflow hiccups for whatever reason, childhood night terrors or sleep disturbances or panic attacks, suicidal ideation, suicidal impulse/urge, fuzziness, fogginess, unreality, static, chaos, dissolution, dreaminess, drowsiness, liminality, (partial) loss of mental control or unified will, medical scares or realities for yourself or friends or family, feel like you’re (re-/newly-)experiencing a traumatic event or someone else’s if you witnessed it or helped by e.g. calling 911 or emergency services in your country, or overheard, or inferred, etc. —so go to the e.r., have a friend talk you down, see a doctor about risk factors. If you’re experiencing an extreme event, usually it’s just a mind thing and sometimes it’s a stroke, heart attack, etc. [Feeling out of control can sometimes come with very aversive feelings but being feeling of control isn’t inherently bad and doesn’t necessarily lead to bad outcomes. It can lead to good outcomes especially if that out-of-control-ness is burning off.]

When it’s safe, and usually it will be, you can learn (and likely need to learn, slowly, slowly, slowly, precisely) to enter into these states and transform them from the inside.

I’m not a doctor but if you’re experiencing sudden and intense pain then go to the emergency room. If not then just depends.

Sometimes the right thing to do is to not just let it be but to even facilitate whatever it is:

The right/good thing to do might be to go into fuzziness, into fog, into unclarity, temporarily and possibly for long minutes or hours, again and again. This can be extremely counterintuitive when you’re, say, seeking crystalline clarity or whatever turns out to be good (for you, in your concepts, mediately or ultimately).

Sometimes what comes up will at least partially feel good but might often feel in some ways unwanted or problematic:

An example of this is sexual fantasy and sexual arousal. A heuristic is that, if safe or sufficiently not costly, it’s usually good to indulge the fantasy, imagine the scenario, read the erotic story, write the erotic story, search for the pornography, etc.

If there is an impulse/urge to act out something sexual, to actualize something, then it just depends whether it’s good to do that. The heuristic, here, too, is that if it’s safe and sufficiently not costly to do so then seek the experience. If there are unsafe or costly elements then it can be better to work with the fantasy/desire/planning experience as such rather than working to consummate it. There will be many good and redemptive things in there to untangle, to get them separately from a sexual encounter, or you might come to find that wanting (and/or getting) the/an inherently sexual thing is, partially or wholly, temporarily or stably, good to get and that you should work on creating a context in which it’s safe and wholly good to get the thing or part of the thing mostly or partially just as it is.

On falling asleep

Sometimes it’s good to use postures such as sitting without back support or standing, in order to avoid falling asleep (see the posture section for more postures and thoughts on postures). But, it can be extremely profitable to meditate while curled up comfortably in bed both while falling asleep for the night, right upon waking up (without even opening one’s eyes), and also during the day. One can drift in and out of meditation, sleep, and reverie (sleep and reverie could be conceived as falling under the surrender portion of p2 but don’t have to be.).

One could imagine that meditating in liminal states could lead to “bad form” or meditating incorrectly. But, I have found this to not be the case, at least empirically. It seems to be the case that this protocol is specified both precisely enough and generally enough that meditating and drifting (reverie) and sleeping seems to be extremely valuable, especially when often, sometimes, or eventually mixed with meditation in other postures.

A gentle onramp

Mark 8:55 AM

5-30 minutes of a prelim exercise, followed by 2-15 minutes of the meta protocol (retrospectively on those 5-30 minutes), 1-2 times per day, would be a gentle, powerful onramp.

I would use the meta protocol to semi-retrospectively determine which prelim exercises, how to personally enact them, for what duration, for how often, would be good.

It would be fine to go down them in order, or to make index cards, or to paste them into a spreadsheet and keep track of frequency or duration in some way.

Main practice p2 is sort of the heart of the main protocol, so eventually one would want to start puzzling it out and easing into that, too, interleaving with prelim/aux practices and the meta protocol. Eventually one will start acquiring better and better intuitions about what to do when, as well as facility with navigating the document and dipping into it for ideas and refreshing on the text, to aid practice.

More questions welcome and please poke for different kinds/styles of answers if there’s something better

Mark 9:03 AM

It’s not universally true, but, generally, “forcing,” “powering through,” or “needle-threading in order to keep going and going” should be avoided because these can create puzzles that need to be laboriously undone later to make further progress.

If something seems like it’s “jamming” or “grinding,” I would halt that prelim/aux exercise and engage the meta protocol to see if that illuminates a better thing to do. The meta protocol itself can jam, in which case one can do lighter and lighter versions of the meta protocol (as described in the meta protocol section), or do the “meta meta protocol” (apply the meta protocol to itself), or browse through the document and choose something else to do, as per intuition (such as other prelim/aux practices or one of the main practices), or take a break and do something different and/or fun. (edited)

Mark 9:12 AM

For intuitions, to my mind, meditation is less like strength training and more like a single [many-typed, many-peg] Tower of Hanoi-type puzzle, if that makes sense. Long-range, global [maximum] wayfinding through a multidimensional, nonmonotonic space. (edited)

And the [open set of] prelim/aux practices reveal new dimensions of movement and new feedback loops, to be fed into the global wayfinding engine [automatically and by application of the meta protocol]. (edited) And then p2 is the enactment of global wayfinding which includes upgrading itself en route, interleaving handoffs to other practices for indirect upgrades, and finally undoing and self-transcending itself.

Mark 9:33 AM

Not universally, but generally, increases in muscle tension (including subtle, slow-growing) and contortions of face and posture mean it’s important to cut over to or at least interleave the meta protocol. An “uncoiled” posture such as sitting without back support, or standing, can make it easier to detect increases in muscle tension (though reclining and supported postures should be used, too, for decreasing incidental factors).

Shaking, twitching, emoting, vocalizations, and large movements are sometimes necessary and sometimes “self-distraction” (and sometimes a mixture). The meta protocol can be engaged to sort though and piece apart what should be allowed and encouraged and what should gently be disengaged or blocked.

Good(ness) & bad(ness)

What is goodness? What is badness? What is good? What is bad? What is good for you? What is bad for you? What does “good” mean to you? What does “bad” mean to you? Morally good, ethically good, personally good, good feeling? For you? For others? Morally bad, ethically bad, bad feeling? For you? For others? Usefulness? Value? Worth? Worthiness? Helpfulness? Spiritually? Practically? Partially good? Partially bad? Generally/contextually good? Generally/contextually bad? Universally good? Universally bad? Wholly good? Wholly bad? Mixed good and bad? More good? Less good? More bad? Less bad? Better? Worse? Best? Worst? [why not in meta, p/a, main practices and instead in lists and more is left as exercise to reader. Cam of course play with in relation to any of p/a, main practices (including p1) meta, and so forth.] doing good vs being good vs having good vs experiencing good. Doing bad vs being bad vs having bad vs experiencing bad(ness). Intrinsic/essential/inherent goodness vs extrinsic/secondary/acquired/contextual goodness. Intrinsic/essential/inherent badness vs extrinsic/secondary/acquired/contextual badness. Goodness of form. Goodness of mode. Badness of form. Badness of mode. Goodness as an attribute. Badness as an attribute. Subsistent goodness. Subsistent badness. Where and what and how and when and why and for what purpose is goodness? Where and what and how amd why and when and for what purpose is badness? What causes goodness? What causes badness? When is goodness an effect? When is badness an effect? When are goodness and badness neither a cause nor an effect? Is felt goodness always good? Is felt badness always bad? Immediate goodness. Mediate goodness. Immediate badness. Mediate badness. Direct goodness. Indirect goodness. Direct badness. Indirect badness. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad. Acting good. Acting bad. Appearing good. Appearing bad. Somehow good. Somehow bad. Artificially good. Artificially bad. Naturally good. Naturally bad. Stably good. Stably bad. Tending (toward) good. Tending (toward) bad. Historically good. Historically bad. Historically mixed. Eventually good. Eventually bad. Highest good. Lowest good. Highest bad. Lowest bad. Initial good. Initial bad. Final good. Final bad. Good for X. Bad for X. Good for X for Y. Bad for X for Y. Structurally good. Structurally bad. Independently good. Independently bad. Dependently good. Dependently bad. Separably good. Separably bad. Inseparably good. Inseparably bad. veridically good/bad, certainly good/bad, illusorily good/bad, apparently good/bad, good before/after/at/when/during/while X, bad before/after/at/when/during/while X, good now/later, bad now/later, lower good, higher good, net good, net bad, “too good,” “too bad,” “infinitely” good, “infinitely” bad, permanently good, permanently bad, contagiously good, contagiously bad

Some “big” useful concepts

Poem of self/other confusion and interdependence

Is this me? Is this you? Is that me? Is that you? I am you, and you are me, and we are we. No. This is almost me, similar to me, but it is not me. That is almost me, similar to me, but it is not me. While plausibly me, this was historically never actually me. While plausibly me, that was historically never actually me. I am not you, and you are not me, and we are not we. I am me, and you are you. She is not him, and she is not you, and he is not her, and he is not you. I am not him, and I am not her. I am me, and you are you, and I am not you, and you are not me. And, we can be we.



Invitation of acceptance

(so-called “Litany of Gendlin”)

What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn't make it worse. Not being open about it doesn't make it go away. And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn't there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.

—Eugene Gendlin


I am not a doctor or other kind of licensed health professional, and this is not medical or nutritional advice.

If you are lacking mental or physical stamina for meditation, you might try adding butter and/or MCT oil to your diet. (Some MCT oils have three different lengths and some just have two lengths. Sometimes just two lengths is advertised as “better” in some way, but I felt like I was getting some kind of weird metabolic deficiency on the two lengths variety. That last longer length chain seemed to really be good to have in there, for some reason, at least prior to adaptation, which I didn’t try to do.) Less likely to be helpful, but depends, you might try adding a bit more cheese or other animal saturated fat to your diet. (Each will have different chain length profiles.) You might also try adding a bit of choline, which can take a few weeks to month for you to notice any difference.

If you’re not, consider jogging or other aerobic exercise to you life, 2–5 times per week for 40 minutes, minimum, to avoid fat metabolism disfunction. You maybe should probably get your cholesterol checked periodically, too.

You might also consider adding non-rancid flax seed, some good source of sulfer, and/or some quality source of collagen.

You might also switch to all slow-release carbs, to even out insulin. The steadier energy release is, the less you’ll have boom and bust mental energy before and after meals. You want super-steady energy release for hours and hours. If you have insulin resistance, your body will release fuel from storage too slowly, and you’ll have to rely more on proximity to meals for meditation enablement.

If you have insulin smoothed out, your food craving system will be smarter, and you should generally indulge food cravings for weird food, as best you can.

If you’re eating fewer, larger meals, be careful with your kidneys and liver.

Consider a multivitamin in powder form or in many pills per day, so you can titrate. I know multivitamins are supposed to do nothing or be detrimental, but you might find subdoses to be seemingly very helpful.

Historical and contemporary difficulties and uncertainties of life [experimental section]

Warning: This section is experimental and should be approached with caution if you have live existential/cosmological/eschatological/metaphysical issues or live mania, paranoia, or possibly other things.

In no particular order: deaths of parents, significant others, children, other family, natural disaster, solar flares, pandemics, war, invasion, food insecurity, authoritarian surveillance states, violent feuds, systemically messed up and flawed healthcare, accidents, nuclear war, phishing, failure of cryogenic preservation if you go that route or being tortured and unable to die when you wake up until some very large energy source runs out, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, physical disability, nation/state/country failure, sudden death, cancer, stroke, agents of power knowing exactly who you are and the uncertain threat of them coming to harm, kill, or take you away (in front of significant others, children, or other family of friends).

Muscle tension scratch

Increases in muscle tension are caused when one is meditating under the conditions of needing/expecting a/any “some particular thing” to be a/any “some particular way” on a/any “some particular timeline.”

LaTeX subscript: ({“some particular X”}_{de dicto})

Last gasps

One is sort of making it safe to re-experience things, as part of how meditation works—eventually a re-experiencing is sort of the “final burning off of the (conditioning of the) thing.” So often a person will re-experience at least a shadow of old, bad things, over and over again, until not again—things that they thought were long resolved, in the course of a great deal of meditation. (One trap is thinking that one is not making progress, because this thing has come up more than one time. It is progress! That’s just how the mind works.)

But there’s another thing that’s more problematic: If a person was crushing down a bunch of stuff, let’s say they then stop crushing. But say they haven’t fully worked through the thing(s) under the crushing. If something happens in the world to trigger them, around those now uncrushed things, like they see their old girlfriend or whatever, they might have a more extreme, more impulsive, more destructive reaction, in that particular case, than if they hadn’t ever meditated:

Behavior, belief or the very seeming of the world, and its attendant justification, will become live again, seem like the right thing to think/see/do.

And then they’ll/you’ll be in old destructive patterns, transiently, as bad or even worse than when those initial patterns were getting laid down. And then it’s maybe doubly regretful because this “last gasp” can go by fast. It can be embarrassing, especially if one is a self-styled advanced meditator. And if only you’d gotten to that old stuff, metabolized it, before being triggered. One just has to be as careful and meta-careful and meta-meta-careful and responsible with and around other people as one can be, and to make amends and reparations, if warranted, in a way that actually delivers, that takes into account all this. Not your fault, yet no excuse, all at once; it’ll be ok, but you can’t morally rely on that, etc.

Being (not) ok tangles

If I’m ok, I won’t be able to connect with the people who are not ok, and lots of people are not ok, and I need to be able to connect with them. So, I don’t want to be actually ok.

If I become ok I’ll lose everything that makes me actually good and me. Not being ok makes me safe, compassionate, empathetic, and sensitive. I like being those things, and I can only be those things if I’m not ok.

People won’t see who I am if I’m actually ok (because actually ok isn’t who I actually am), and it’s critically important that people see who I actually am.

I can’t actually be ok because then no one will love me. People will only leave people who aren’t completely ok, because such people are safer, more compassionate, more empathetic, more reflective. Only people who aren’t ok can actually know each other. Only people who aren’t ok can take care of each other. I can only be taken care of, when I need it, if I’m not ok all of the time.

I’ll be struck down if I’m actually ok. Being actually ok isn’t safe. Being actually ok makes one a target.

If I’m actually ok, I will have to do things that I don’t want to do, that I’m ideologically and constitutionally against doing. I don’t know any other way of not doing and not having to do those things than not being ok.

Being ok is against my belief system/ideology. Being not ok is what makes people good. Being not ok is what makes people transcendent. Being not ok is an act of transgressive power.

Furthermore, it’s not ok to bask in the goodness of not being ok. Given that I’m not ok, it’s also not ok to fully enjoy not being ok. It’s not ok to enjoy how being broken is incredibly delicious.

Dark phenomenology and presence/absence conceptions

Something to keep in mind is that some phenomenology is relatively more prone to being “misinterpreted” or “misconceptualized,” still not committing to any particular thing when using the words “phenomenology,” “mistinterpretation,” “misconceptualization,” etc.

In particular, phenomenology that is “dim,” “dark,” “black”(!), is not just harder to “see” than gross/overt/bright/clear/something phenomenology or even subtle/low-intensity/low-magnitude that’s not “black.” It’s, again, more prone to being misinterpreted/misconceptualized.

“Very dark” or “black” phenomenology sometimes contributes to people, in part, locally, isolatedly, in some part of their “system,” “believing” that they’re nothing, or that they’re dead, or that nothing’s there, or the phenomenology itself is nothing, or there’s a black hole “there” that one might get sucked into, and so on.

It might be worth noting that “black” phenomenology is still phenomenology! It’s still present!

As a caveat, this doesn’t mean all “black” phenomenology is “safe” or “harmless” or “the same” as all other “black phenomenology.” I mean, it’s definitely safe in some absolute sense, but don’t interact with it mechanically or unresponsively, as per usual! Possibly engage in things like the meta protocol in inclining towards what to do! There’s still a sense in which bad/“bad” things could be lurking/hiding in “the black,” in “the dark” (or in bright stuff, too), depending on all sorts of factors.

Again, please don’t “fix”/“stabilize” the meaning of pretty much any word in this section (or in the entire document), but there’s a thing, here.

Additionally, given some relationship between quality and conception, there’s a related thing with conceiving presence and absence.

For example, it’s important to distinguish between (a) not X, (b) the absence/lack of X, (c) the presence of the representation of the absence/lack of X, and so on. Making a light, local distinction between something like “experience” and something like “concept.” Conceptualization or experience of the lack of X, which, in some sense, technically, is presence, not absence, may be accompanied by dim, dark, or black phenomenology. (Again, not all dim, dark, or black phenomenology is “the same.”)


Lack of belief and/or lack of disbelief is not the same thing as “active/present” disbelief, which might be some combination of feelings, thoughts, “phenomenology,” sensations, etc. And some of that might be very dim, dark, or “black.”

Getting triggered, usefulness and risks

Sometimes getting triggered can save time, whether that triggering is accidental, surprising, or even prospectively (and retrospectively) net undesirable.

Somehow, someway, the meditator will make it all the states/places in their bodymind state that they need to or want to, to have things change in ways that are nonmonotonically, retrospectively good. One doesn’t need an external trigger, in the limit, which is good because sometimes triggers aren’t available, e.g. a childhood context or friend or enemy who’s passed away or unavailable. (Often, though, too, something far removed from an original context has an element of, or enough of a similarity, to an original context/person/situation, to serve as a trigger or cause triggering.)

But, if triggers are available, sometimes they can cause really fast pinpointing and learning, if the meditator is ready. Sometimes, this will alleviate a bottleneck, and it’ll be doubly useful. Even if they’re not ready, it’s still data that will be useful later.

Whether intentional or accidental, getting triggered isn’t always safe, because being triggered can sometimes involve an increased propensity for destructive behavior. (Part of being triggered is sometimes not realizing one has been triggered, and then destructive things sometimes feel “right” or “justified,” in the moment.

Being mindful of safety, sometimes it’s better to avoid being triggered, and sometimes it can be net-helpful to be triggered. And sometimes undesirable triggering can happen, and it can be useful, even if it’s partially or net-problematic.

Finally, “retraumatization” is a thing—being exposed to “triggers” too early can also cause net more “layering” and “compensation” and thereby make things take fractionally longer, on net. This can be discouraging if one didn’t intend to be triggered, but it’s normal to get triggered and retriggered, and it’s very possible to think one is being “re-traumatized,” etc., but it’s actually net “redo-to-undo,” and net progress. It can be hard to tell in the moment, and, in any case, getting triggered is par for the course, grist for the mill. It’s ok.

All that said, it can be fine good to systematically, actively seek out some triggers, some of the time, when you’re ready or as a careful (or accidental) experiment.

Informal working definitions:

A dialogue between N and Mark, on reasoning and pre-reasoning

[we use the example of “feet” a lot, but that’s just one example! we might have used hands, belly button, something. feet are a good heuristic thing to try, but it’s not a rule.]



I guess the next logical question would be […]


Want to say something like I think there’s a pre-rational step that’s being missed


Say more!

Wdym by pre-rational?


You probably should pay attention to your feet a bunch or something versus trying to answer questions like […]


but something vaguely like that, maybe extensively


You think there's a frozen thing in the body that constrains reasoning and needs to be moved around a bit by correct placing of attention?


YES. but, a lot, not a little bit


Why won't reasoning work? The right answers simply won't pop up in my head or something?


reasoning for most people mostly happens in a “virtual machine” and there’s only a trickle from that down to preference changes, behavior changes, and goal changes, even if one comes up with “right answers.” a failure mode is to keep collecting right answers indefinitely without them becoming a part of the “motivated seeming” of the world


In my mind reasoning isn't disconnected from behavioral change, ala critical rationalism

IME in any case where I see lack of progress, I can sort of clearly see why and what problems aren't solved yet

I've never been in a situation where my problem seems explicitly solved, but no behavioral change follows


That is true for some people, for some domains, contingently

In my mind reasoning isn’t disconnected from behavioral change, ala critical rationalism

do you mean all minds or just some minds, like your mind?


The latter, but I'd assume that they're reasoning incorrectly, i.e. missing important signals from the body or getting themselves in conceptual tangles without noticing




So maybe I got lucky with my mind, hehe

Or I'm just deluded


but incorrectly is a massive gradient, from extreme virtual machine to radical integration. almost everyone has a lot of confusions, at least at first


Do you have any reasons to believe that certain mental moves, e.g. look at feet, just plain don't work and are based on spurious data?


for some people doing that specifically will be the wrong thing to do at any given time. right thing right time in right order

that’s why there’s 500+ p/a practices, etc., etc.


Or, have you considered it?


considered what?


That they don't actually work


the meta-protocol is a schematization of error checking and meta error checking. it’s an ongoing consideration of whether such things don’t work

at any particular time for some particular person


I see, I see

But you don't have an explicit model that accounts both for the usually psychotherapy stuff and mental moves such as that, and can legibly translate from its language into their?

Or do you


sensory experiences sculpt the future propensities of the system. talk therapy is narrow sculpting that leaves out a huge range of possible experiences that can be used for sculpting

the mind is highly intertwingled such that feet are involved in reasoning, usually confusedly. gotta sometimes e.g. pay attention to the feet to use e.g. talk therapy, correctly


[…] how/why sensory experience of one's feet can be useful for sculpting one's higher-level behavior and goals and shit?

I understand the general idea

But I don't understand how experiencing one's feet could be useful for changing beliefs about the world

Feeling one's feet is very different from trying out new food and liking it, me thinks

In this sense feet seem irrelevant

To any major stuff

Don't understand how feet are involved with reasoning :(

Or can be

The way you talk about it is very different from the language/ontology I personally use to make sense of this area


one’s epistemic stack involves sensory experience of elbows, knees, voice tone, prosody, everything. all of it becomes the substrate for reasoning


to improve reasoning one sometimes needs to unpack some of the lower-level stuff that doesn’t feel “meaning-laden,” like weird body sensations


So suppose a person feels their feet

And suppose she did it at the right time

What happens next?

An insight suddenly pops up in their head?

Or maybe weird sensations appear in some body part


they realize they were doing reasoning wrong, somehow, that was systematically biasing their conclusions. it’s usually not that direct but sometimes it is

usually it’s lots of small steps

that don’t seem to add up until the end


And when it's not direct, what happens is something like 'next time they do think, they're able to look at the problem from a slightly different perspective or something'?


that’s object-level, and that’s a thing too. but, meta-level, the reasoning system itself will work slightly differently, sometimes a bit worse before it’s long-run net better



And they could also maybe never experience anything meaning-laden throughout feeling their feet?


yeah, plenty of stuff stays non-meaning-laden, contentless [throughout]


But they find out that reasoning works a lil better (or worse) when they try it next time?





Fuck, these inferences are, indeed, hard to make




Like unless the person is systematic, they might never notice the connection



even if reasoning works a little better, that doesn’t mean a conclusion is guaranteed to pop out in any particular thinking/feeling session, ofc




Like unless the person is systematic, they might never notice the connection

yes exactly


You really need to put this into protocol


it’s ridiculously long-range/counterintuitive, all things being equal


It connects the right stuff

For me and probably certain people


Could it be that some people simply notice stuff like 'when I work out or do open awareness, I sort of can think better afterwards', and the model above explains why?



could you see if this existing section kind of says it:



I've read it, I think

And it didn't




How does one start noticing patterns such as this? (e.g. look at feet now, see more progress later)


I think need to study a ton of people from the outside, or need a methodological bootstrap, from the inside.


How could studying people work?


the methodological bootstrap, for me, was p2 plus the meta protocol.


Like, it's so hard to notice it in yourself


wayfinding in methodology/theory space


How would it be easier to notice in others?



i’m looking for the original Gendlin Focusing research study


Go on



they tried to figure out why some people made progress in therapy and others didn’t, and that’s how they isolated “focusing moves”


It has something about that


I know

Doesn't seem like something that's possible for a regular Joe to do


and so my stuff, for example, could be considered a generalization of that original observation



What do you think determines the amount of time one needs to look at their feet? Like, why a lot or a little in certain cases?


Doesn’t seem like something that’s possible for a regular Joe to do

it is very freaky when it feels like “me or someone maybe couldn’t have figured out this important thing without outside stimulus”

very unpleasant, at first, at least for me


Does anything else matter, aside from looking when feel stuck?


What do you think determines the amount of time one needs to look at their feet? Like, why a lot or a little in certain cases?

has to do with deep contingent structure of any particular system based on experiences that person has had and prior attentional propensities


hard to explicate which is why personal global wayfinding can help


Wanna unpack 'prior attentional propensities'?


including possibly reads by people who are a bit farther on the journey

the experiences we have determine the structure of the system and the future propensities of the system


What do you think determines the amount of time one needs to look at their feet? Like, why a lot or a little in certain cases?

Wanna try unpacking the gears behind 'deep contingent structure of...'?


so the necessary order of refactoring of a system will depend on that causal history


What do you think determines the amount of time one needs to look at their feet? Like, why a lot or a little in certain cases?

Maybe with an example


it’s really hard to say. if someone ignored their feet a lot or spent a lot of time attending to their feet, at some point in their life. then, in meditation or whatever, they’ll probably need to spend a lot of time with their feet.

it’s like a collection of loosely coupled stacks, in the computer science sense. LIFO: last in first out, in terms of the order one needs to sort of touch stuff in to refactor

loosely coupled partial orderings


So from a subjective experience viewpoint, what mostly happens is just you staring at feet and nothing really happens while you're doing it

And you do it for a long time

Maybe regularly or at once


kind of. one can keep running navigational stuff like meta protocol, but there can be a lot of up-front uncertainty.

the “how” matters, too. things like top-down attending vs “letting feet come to you” and stuff like that. and might need to interleave many other things. could extend timeline if just forcefully tried to attend to something in a contiguous block. needs to be patient, gentle, curious, cautious, etc. etc.


Is it a linear thing? I.e. the less you looked at feet before, the more you gotta do it? What happens behind the scenes while you do it?


but yeah, it can take a long time before one gets a sense of whether “something’s happening” or not. it’s a very gradual increase in sensitivity and long-range wayfinding

i think it’s sublinear for any particular thing and superlinear globally

but still practically finite. a fraction of the time one has already been alive


^ don't understand sub/supra

Also would like to get an answer to 'what happens behind the scenes', if ok


so like if feet stuff was weird for five years, then maybe only need 500 hours of feet stuff and not five years of feet stuff

there’s a compression thing

but there’s still sort of a combinatorial explosion of pairwise e.g. feet interaction with other things.

lots of recursion

behind the scenes it’s like A comes into contact with B and yields A-prime and B-prime, and there’s like a huge number of these little interactions that have to occur and reoccur


What's ‘A-prime'?


A-prime is A but a little different


(prime, is that from maths?)





And A and B are beliefs or something?


beliefs, anticipations, synaptic potentials, something



And that happens unconsciously?

I assume


one can infer it sometimes from skeletal muscle changes, tingles, insights, and other phenomenological changes, but it can seem like nothing is happening sometimes for many hours


If something bubbles up to consciousness, then in what form?



insights, realizations, muscle tension changes, yeah


You have a list in the end of all stuff that could be useful to look through




Is there a way you can dissect that list? E.g. hands/feet usually are more useful, so try maybe starting with those first, but be gentle and self-aware etc etc


i think i give some rough heuristics somewhere

in various lists and more sections




Can't recall seeing that


extremities and stomach, not the head, are good places to experiment with, first. but too much can tangle further, etc,. etc.




Is there more info in those places in the protocol?


Is there more info in those places in the protocol?

i don’t do too much of this because it’s so personally contingent and blocky suggestions might cause people to ignore subtle stuff that’s not in my suggestions



Aight thanks


How can you notice that I need to e.g. look more at feet?

Is it something you infer from what I say and the types of problems I'm dealing with, for example?


If something feels stuck, wrong, etc., but usually hope to e.g. look at feet long before that.




Is it something you infer from what I say and the types of problems I’m dealing with, for example?

usually not object level problems, though sometimes, but general patterns, yeah


So in my case I don't feel like I'm completely stuck, more like 'it's moving too slow'. But I don't feel that I literally tried all I can and that my current way of dealing w stuff can't give me more progress atm

Is that why

You say that I should continue with what I do

And maybe eventually naturally exhaust the potential

Of what I'm doing?


Maybe!! But can be good to keep alternatives in mind, too, and maybe interleave a little bit, increasingly over time


But if I interleave, I won't be able to clearly notice that that's what's helping me

And I'll keep thinking that my method is working


There may be ways to do it while not confounding too much. Not entirely overlapping lead indicators.

But it’s a good point


Say more?

Re ways


you may notice different good things via your current way versus trying new things, making it possible to know where the good things are coming from

there will be some overlap, probably, but not complete overlap




Aight, cool

Thanks for doing this conversation!


you’re very welcome. thank you for your questions

“Psychic” and “supernatural” stuff: what/how/how-not [draft]

This is a section about:

geas, spells, curses, evil eye, demons, objects, entities, ghosts, echoes, spirits, critters, egregores, aliens, servitors, siddhis, powers, ESP, psi, mediumship, shamanism, energy work, energy healing, prana, qi, chi, ruach, qigong, taichi, bodywork, reiki, intuitive healing, intuitive diagnosis, clairvoyance (clairaudience, clairsentience, etc.), angels, higher beings, possession, lower beings, higher selves, magic, magick, occult, voodoo, spirit guides, imprints, possession, riders, compulsion, bewitchment, ensorcellment, psychic rape, brainwashing, mesmerizism, animal magnetism

Most of the above could qualify as “supernatural,” and most of the above somehow relates to other people or other “entities.” Also, the above list is a mix of traditions and even a mix of perhaps “good” and “bad,” though some traditions think almost all of the above are bad, or at least distracting. With respect to “supernatural” phenomena, different traditions may emphasis different distinctions:

Now versus later or never:

Contemporary meditation teachers sometimes mention “the powers”, “the siddhis” as illusory or real-but-orthogonal to spiritual practice, either something to be ignored or avoided, or something to come back to, later, maybe: “If you meet the buddha on the road, kill him.”

Sentient versus non-sentient:

Various occult and religious traditions distinguish between possession (e.g. by entities, ghosts, demons) and other kinds of not-directly-sentient spiritual and interpersonal effects.

Self versus not-self:

Very loosely speaking, maybe, shamanism (I’m not sure if all of indigenous, pre-contemporary, and contemporary) makes a distinction between “parts of the self” (e.g. “soul fragments”??) versus “curses,” “darts,” etc.

Contemporary, and relatively secular, Internal Family Systems therapy purportedly distinguishes between “guides” and “critters.”

There are broad patterns or rules in all of these traditions for distinguishing between what’s what, what’s self and not-self, as it were, what’s false and true, and what’s good and what’s bad, and when, out of all of these apparent things. And these traditions have procedures and methods for what to do under various conditions.

I didn’t say this in the Culture section; but, here, I’ll straightforwardly assert that relatively high fidelity, “things” can apparently be “in your mind” but “not you.”

(Is this a “pragmatic” claim or a “literal” claim? Yes, no, maybe, both, neither, etc.)

These sorts of “things,” “information,” “patterns,” “objects,” “influences,” including those with “agency/will/intelligence” can, not always, but not unusually, be as apparently high fidelity as your own thoughts, feelings, sensations. (Regarding “agency/will/intelligence,” this still includes simple, confused, and perseverative things.) And, what’s “you” and “not you” can be easily confused for the other. Just like, sometimes, some “parts” of you might feel like “I” and some “parts” of you might feel like “me” or “past me”, etc., also, sometimes, you may, too, find what ultimately comes to be understood as “not me.” (And, of course, some people do sometimes say things like, “This isn’t me. That’s not me.” More on this, below.)

(And, of course, not all of you, or necessarily any of you, feels “part like.” It’s not really accurate to say people are “made of parts.”)

So, here we go. There are a bunch of nuanced points to be made, here, so do please read this section carefully and maybe more than once.

It will be outrageous or disappointing to some people that a claim like “in you but not you” is being made in this document, whether I handwave about “pragmatic” or “literal” claims, or not. It might help a little bit to note that, to some indigenous cultures, say, a light touch of wind or dust sparkling in a shaft of sunlight, can be ascribed agency and be conceived of as a literal spirit, erroneously or not, in some ontology and metaphysics. Suffice it to say, here, mechanism is a bit outside the scope of this section (and document), but phenomenology, usefulness, and reflective and prereflective conceptualizations-as-such, though, are in scope.

So, this section is not about “how could this even be a thing, literally or apparently?” It’s not about neurophysiology, information theory, signal processing, bandwidth, inverse problems, biophysics, sociology, superstition, cognitive biases, nocebo effects, confirmation bias, autosuggestion, confabulation, demand effects, cultural conditioning, religious conditioning, etc.

With that in mind, I want to acknowedge that, if you at least provisionally accept that “there is an existant, relevant phenomenon, here” you may immediately and prereflectively have opinions and reflexive inclinations for what to do about all this, and you might immediately start doing those things, right now or upon encountering what I might be referring to. You might be tempted to go right to treating these phenomena as superstition, culture, or sociology, and you might prefer to preemptively treat such phenomena as, say, biology, neuroscience, or physics, or at least “somehow natural.”

(“Somehow-natural” seems good; I, personally, more or less, believe that everything is lawful, natural, etc., and sort of can’t be otherwise, almost be definition, or something. And, I’m a fan of contemporary (and especially future…) physics and neuroscience. Say, forces, fields and nothing else, maybe.)

Anyway, the point I want to make is that some of what you do will be local and net error correction, but some things will be local and net error propagation:

It’s very important to do some form of overall process error checking, like with the Meta Protocol or something in the same spirit.

So, my advice then would be to go in without preconceptions, as best you can, in part because meditation is eventually going to “turn everything inside out,” anyway. And, if you take my advice, safely letting go of preconceptions, to flexibly engage with these sorts of phenomena, is a process. Yes, say, physics, sociology, everything. But, also, maybe, temporarily, set physics aside to pick it up again, later. In any case, you’re going to believe physics differently on the far side, even though all the equations will be the same. Also, likely, much of you,“doesn’t believe in physics,” right now. Childhood parts of you, as it were, will believe in god, monsters under the bed, etc. Additionally, “things” inside of you can believe in gods and monsters and might not believe in you.

To be sure, sometimes, there’s a gray area between, say, “a self-introjected parent” versus, sometimes, alien-ness or foreignness that is much more clear cut. But, you may eventually find that many things are much, much more clear cut than you might initially expect. Most people have at least a little bit of this sort of “not me” phenomena and some people have a lot.

As per the usual pattern, there can be a period of increasing confusion and problematic over-sensitization (which can last a very long time and potentially be very crippling) followed by things getting properly situated, comprehended, interpreted, filtered, and/or understood. This applies to both what’s “already in you,” as well as “new stuff that you might pick up in real time.” One’s “real time filters” often get worse, before they get better, as per how the bodymind sometimes needs to make changes.

Things get to make sense in the end, but they might not make sense in the middle, and over and over again.

More generally, for all this stuff, It can be good to have the goals of wellbeing (and safety), intellectual internal consistency (phenomenology, science, sociology, compassion, kindness, love), and understanding, while being open to suffering, inconsistency/contradiction, and confusion.

One might ask, why engage with this sort of thing at all, on any timeline? The answer is that “not-you” things, whether neutral, malevolent, or benevolent, “real” or “illusory,” all things being equal, will typically, eventually, sooner or later, become a bottleneck on meditative progress. There will typically be a way in which they are subtly “against the grain” of one’s (body)mind and will eventually “get in the way.” There’s some sense in which they need to be “metabolized” or “integrated.”

Given that claim, this is a good place to explore some concerns and objections:

(1a/3) The concern of buying into a “demon-haunted world”—(1b/3) where, e.g. only one method, one cult can save you

The above is from the title of a Carl Sagan book: “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”

So, should you, in some sense, surely not in the Sagan sense, buy into a demon-haunted world? On what metaphysical, physical, psychological, or even moral grounds? You’ve got just one body and one brain, right? Right??? When and how does it make sense to treat things as “parts,” let alone “parts” that are “not you.” In what sense??? Via what causal history??? Via what mechanism???

This is maybe where most meditation writers get cagey. I try to almost never, ever, ever do the cagey thing, but I’m going to do it, here, at least in this version. Part of the issue is that one needs to sort of go beneath, underneath “all” metaphysical, physical conceptions, anyway, in some sense, regardless of what’s “really” going on. You’ll need to come to (provisional) conclusions for yourself, via engagement with your own process.

But, but, but, I want to reiterate a few things from the Culture section. There’s the pattern of another person or group somehow causing you to experience something unexpected and then using that to somehow claim intellectual, moral, or “health/safety” authority over you. Some cults out there will wait a bit, wait for you to get sucked in, before telling you something like, “you are not just broken but also filled with bad things, and you have to get them out or disaster or forever non-acceptance!” And whatever they tell people will be correlated just enough with that person’s experience that that person will both believe the cult and also think that the cult is their only option to get “clean” or “pure” or worthy of happiness, safety, intimacy, etc. It often works, at least in the West(?), because mainstream culture mostly doesn’t talk about these sorts of apparent phenomena—so being somehow exposed to these sorts of phenomena is immediately isolating and yet these people seem to know all about it, and they want to help… Yikes.

That being said, this document is intended for people who want to “go all the way,” towards something that has to be reconceived during the journey. But, you don’t have to defer happiness, safety, intimacy while you’re doing it. It’s always the best mix and ordering you can figure out, as you go. And, of course, just because you’re reading this doesn’t mean you have to “do the document.” As written in a few places, this document is a telephone game, and I hope people will take it apart and use it (or parts of it) on their own terms, on their own timeline. You don’t have to give up your intellectual, moral, etc., autonomy. There are additional external resources below that talk about these sorts of phenomena (some intended as “good” examples and some as “problematic” examples.)

(2/3) The concern of self-repression, self-suppression, self-alienation

So, again, it’s worth calling out, that any conceptualization of “in you but not you” can potentially lead to “self-violence.” Recall, “in you but not you” is just words that you are actively interpreting. It might not mean what you think it means. You might come to prefer very, very different language or a very different way of thinking about all this. You might decide that the frame, here, is deeply contingent and generally inappropriate. It’s possible that I’m very wrong about something.

Here, I can only refer one to the meta protocol and main practice p2, to careful discussions with other people, and maybe engagement with additional resources. Be careful, patient, gentle and discerning, generally, as best you can.

A general point is that, even if you’re not sure whether something is “good” or “bad” (or “mixed”), whether or not you’re sure whether it’s “you” or “not you,” at any point you can explore what’s good about it. You get to keep anything that’s good, no matter where it came from or how it came to be under consideration.

(3/3) The concern/horror/distaste of purportedly “needing to” “integrate”/“metabolize” “everything”

So, we’re pretty far down in this section, and we sort of haven’t talked about the potential “horror” or all this, yet. I didn’t want to coercively suggest that all of this can be very scary. That said, it can be, and sometimes it transiently is, but, immediately or nonmonotonically, it can become very manageable and matter-of-fact.

Again, some people will barely encounter any of this, or won’t for a very long time, and other people will encounter a bunch of it, up front, and/or it will even be pretty central for a while, maybe getting bad or worse, in a bunch of different ways, before it gets better.

In any case, the main point of this subsection is to unpack these ideas of “integrate” or “metabolize” a little bit more.

By “metabolize” or “integrate,” this doesn’t mean that you, in some sense have to either “keep” a bad or unwanted thing or, again, that you have to “give up”/“dissolve” a good thing.

It’s more like, perhaps, you get to appreciate the goodness and badness of things, as you come to understand those things better and better—until “influence” becomes mere “information” (as Ken Wilber might put it). I really like his concision, here: “Influence becomes information.” (I think he was talking about the personal psychological shadow and not “objects” but it still generally applies.)

So, if something is “metabolized,” it might be that all that’s left is a (nonreactive, nontraumatic) memory and/or the knowledge and confidence for how to deal with such things in the future. It could be more than that, too—e.g. some “bad” thing might be “brave,” and you might want to keep some aspect of that braveness around or, more likely, even just use the inert memory of it as inspiration for your own braveness on your own terms. Or you might use something “bad” as inspiration for how to be the opposite of that. As discussed above, you can keep anything you want to keep, in the way you want to keep it, or it can just be the knowledge that something happened, likely “truly having made peace with that,” on, say, truly your terms.

So, by “metabolization” or “integration” hopefully it’s clear that I mean something very methodologically specific (through very flexible, in the concretes) and also very contingently personal.

So how does one do it? As with anything else, it’s “just” engagement with main practice p2, the other main practices, auxilliary practices, as needed for inspiration, the meta protocol, your own interpretation of “how to do all this” that changes and improves, over time. As said in a bunch of places, it sort of all becomes “just doing one thing,” simplicity on the far side of complexity, whether you’re working with “me,” “not me,” or often both mixed together, etc. Hopefully, this further discussion will make things faster and easier, though.

Doing something like “metabolization” or “integration” might be a very different conceptual/experiential/sensory, multi-step puzzle per thing to be metabolized. (If it weren’t at least a little bit of a puzzle, it would have already happened a long time ago, “automatically,” probably.)

(By the way, as per “puzzle-like nature,” just “willing” “Integrate!” or “Metabolize!” might seem useful or even seemingly effective, in the short-term, but, likely, much will have to be re-done. Again, recall, error correction versus error propagation.)

Do maybe remember that terms like “object,” “thing,” or even “ghost,” “angel,” “demon,” can be misleading, of course. For you, your (body)mind, you might seemingly find those sorts of things in yourself as such, and/or/also, it might be more like a pattern, a shimmer, sensory patterns, more wavelike than particle-like, or person-like, as it were. But, it might indeed feel person-like. There can also be plenty of “disembodied” feelings, sentiments, urges/impulses, reactiveness, “beliefs,” etc., that you ultimately come to understand as “not me,” before then making decisions about what to do next.

Person-like, feeling-like (etc.), and pattern-like phenomena will likely need different interaction patterns, in the puzzle-solving sense.

Sometimes things that feel like “not me” will turn out to be “was me all along,” disowned/repressed/suppressed parts of self, sometimes, e.g., soft and/or loving (“good”) and sometimes, e.g., scared and/or violent (“bad”).

And so sometimes things that feel like “not me” will be “actually from the outside.” And there can be many subtypes of each, all of which might be best treated in very different ways.

(And sometimes things that you thought were "me" turn out to be "not me" or often an ultimately separable mix of both "me" and "not me.")

Each of these cases may take a bit of a different approach, and there might be many types/kinds/cases/mixes/subtypes of each.

Regarding “me” versus “not me” (versus even an initially mixed situation), and regarding the process of determining which is which, and what to do before or after provisionally determining that, here are the briefest of examples/analogies: You probably wouldn’t treat a friend (happy or unhappy), or a seemingly suffering stranger, necessarily, in a same way, though there might be deep guiding principles or values at any particular time. Sometimes with a friend, you’d be very open to letting them guide, or sometimes you might be firm, or sometimes it would be very undifferentiated. Sometimes with a stranger you might be particularly polite. Other times you might be particularly cautious or you’d have firm boundaries for when and how to interact. Sometimes people mislead, misrepresent, outright lie, or are mistaken about their own “true nature.” You might or might not, initially or finally, interact on their terms or their frame. Or you might! And, of course, all of this might be quite nonverbal and very experiential (or, again, very “low level” and not with reference to person-like-ness at all, etc.).

It might seem initially complicated, but, ultimately, you’ll sort of transcend any particular mechanistic or stereotyped framework or set of steps!

You don’t need to memorize patterns, rules, etc.! You will bottom-up acquire them, implicitly or explicitly, in any case. It can be helpful to write things down, sometimes, buckets, lists, reminders, messy or organized. It can be helpful to try strategies in this document and to articulate/write your own variations in your own words. In any case, there is a simplicity on the far side of complexity. Eventually, there’s a real sense that you’re “just doing one thing,” whether something is person-like, pattern-like, you, not-you, good, bad, safe, unsafe, etc. Eventually you’ll go/experiment/learn/succeed largely by “feel,” “beneath” language and even concept or category.

And, you’ll make mistakes! Sometimes you’ll find that something you’ve been treating as “you” or “not you” is actually the other case, or it’s an initially mixed case that’s more complicated than you thought. Many people, most people, will have inevitable error propagation mixed in with error correction. Try not to have this happen, but it will(!!!!), and that’s ok. It’s ok to make mistakes, part of the 5,000-10,000 hours, or whatever, accounts for thousands of hours worth of mistakes and backtracking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [sic]

Given the ways in which the mind is “lossless,” even “propagated” and “entrenched” errors can be undone, unentrenched. Any “mistake” can be undone, whether from five minutes ago or back from within your prenatal first seconds of consciousness. (Yes; that may need to be a whole other section, in a similar style to this section.) This is (very) long-range wayfinding, and there will be wrong turns, and it’s ok.

There are maybe a few fairly general patterns that can pop up pretty often:

As per usual, there’s the general “making it safe to look and then looking.”

There maybe is also “making it safe for this to possibly have been me all along and then being able to check.”

There is also “making it safe to provisionally accept/allow the seeming felt goodness/attractiveness in this bad/evil/horrifying/distasteful/disgusting thing and then basking in that savoring that, for the purpose of coming to ultimately impartial conclusions.” As discussed in the culture section, even if lots of bad stuff came along with it, “knowingly or unknowingly” (to some part of you), there will probably be something tempting, attractive, seemingly good, in there, too, that will need to be evaluated. The bodymind is very conservative and doesn’t want to throw away possibly good things, no matter how problematic the circumstances of encountering those good things! Preferentially, the mind will “detoxify” rather than discard.

Nearing the conclusion, anyway, again, some people will barely encounter any of all of this, or won’t for a very long time, and other people will encounter a bunch of it, up front, and/or it will even be pretty central for a while, maybe getting bad or worse, in a bunch of different ways, before it gets better.

But, on the other side, things will be simpler, safer (for self and others), with better boundaries and better filters, but not in a way that interferes with connection, intimacy, closeness.

And, you might find that you want to frame/conceptualize all of this in a very different way than the one I’m using, here. And, my pedagogical or actual frame, position, etc., will change in various ways, too.

A final rant, in a bit of a different tone, from some previous scratch notes:

The hardcore meditator, as it were, uses everything, ontologically/metaphysically commits to nothing, and steadily cuts straight to the heart of everything. Open mind—so as not to get stuck; meta protocols—so as to be able to navigate (or to be able to choose when not to navigate) in the midst of anything and everything. One could spend a lifetime researching or practicing occult things, or, in my opinion, spend “only”/only 4000-15,000 hours meditating (which is also an epistemological practice) thereby retrospectively and counterfactually obviating the benefits of any such occult practice and study, in my current opinion. I mean, it’s ok to poke around a bit, of course, as per interest, but it’s kind of bottomless unless one finds a way to credibly get the whole shape of it, likely from the outside (e.g. by meditating, at the very least).

As per the Culture section of the document, most of time, maybe almost all of the time, 99% of the time, it may be good to avoid spending really any time at all with anyone who claims special, deep, or correct knowledge about any of spiritual/occult/etc things, especially if divorced from straightforward, no-frills transformative practice.

(For that 1% of friends, peers, collaborators, teachers, mentors, it might be very useful or helpful to carefully engage, though. Recall, also, the Many Protocol, which is intended to harmonize with, complement and/or replace this entire space. Some percentage of meditators will go on to become nondogmatic healers, bodyworkers, shamans, etc. It might be good to do no more than dabble in those things until one is many thousands of hours into their meditation practice (4000 hours, 5000 hours, 10,000 hours, even). This whole space should maybe boil down into something elegant, simple, and error-checked, for you, and relatively personally and interpersonally safe, first.)

(And don’t become a “dark wizard.” This will be tonally abrupt and harsh, using language that’s unlike any other in the document, but one could replace “dark wizard” with “predator” or “mind rapist.” That noted, it’s ok to have coercive intimacy, sex, power fantasies! But also be mindful that, sometimes in very literal ways, such fantasies don’t live only in your head, and it’s important to keep that in mind, long-run. There’s, in some sense, nothing wrong with non-fantasy, actual “power,” too, decontextualized. It’s neutral, in some sense. But, as far as I can tell, the only power that works in the long-run is power that is systematically contrite/repentant, systematically nonviolent, and that which safely, systematically empowers others, among other things.)

And, do maybe read the Culture section for more thoughts on ascribing blame, intention, intent, etc., if you experience these sorts of things, in or via your immediate or past environments. It’s tricky stuff, and sometimes people are “doing things” well outside of their awareness or reflective intent. And sometimes you’re the only one affected, or you’re the catalyst, or it was “only in your own head all along,” or everyone bears some “responsbility”/responsibility, or a particular thing is good for some people and bad for others. And, other times, someone really especially did some sort of especially focused thing (occult, meditative), in the past, reflecitvely or not, which contributed to them doing something predatorial or coercive now (and they might be, at least initially, belligerently defensive, or horrified, or not). And you might find that that (partly) coercive person is actually you, or both of you, or some third party.

Further reading:

[Note that some of these I particularly don’t endorse or have very mixed feelings about. And some are provided purely for context.]

[Thank you to everyone who suggested some of these resources to me.]

  1. Katz, Richard. Boiling energy: Community healing among the Kalahari Kung. Harvard University Press, 1982.

  2. Stephan, V. Singing to the plants: A guide to mestizo shamanism in the upper Amazon. UNM Press, 2010.

  3. Earley, Jay. Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Inner Wholeness Using Ifs, a New, Cutting-Edge Therapy. Hillcrest Publishing Group, 2009.

  4. Allione, Tsultrim. Feeding your demons: Ancient wisdom for resolving inner conflict. Little, Brown Spark, 2008.

  5. Fortune, Dion. Psychic self-defense. Weiser Books, 1967.

  6. Mariani, Mike. American Exorcism. Last accessed: 2020-05-08

  7. Malaea, Marika. Catholic Church Attendance in Decline While Exorcisms and Exorcism Training is on the Rise. Last accessed: 2020-05-08

  8. Last accessed: 2020-05-08

  9. ; ;


  11. Scott, Derek. Last accessed: 2020-05-08

  12. “Why I No Longer Practice IFS Therapy” Last accessed: 2020-05-08


Self and other; good and bad

[please read the section, “psychic” and “supernatural” stuff: what/how/how-not (the section above this one), before this section]

[The first draft of this, below, came out extremely “stilted!” The first few sentences and paragraphs are especially bad, particularly rough going, and it gets at least a little bit better, as you continue on.]

One could imagine a person having a “deepest” or “bare metal” or “enacted” understanding of things like individuation, individuality, identity, personhood, will, agency, autonomy, etc..

These (a) “deep understandings” of individuation, etc. might or might not well-correspond to, sort of, (b) intellectual concepts of individuation, etc.. So, we might talk about individuation, etc. while not “inappropriately reifying/fixatinging/relying” on any particular intellectual (or lived/felt) understandings of individuation, etc..

Additionally, we might talk about a “confusion gradient,” about these sorts of things, from worse to better, again while also not inappropriately reifying/fixatinging/relying on something like that.

Less abstractly, one might imagine that, deep down, maybe in a few different sorts of ways, a person might not be able to tell “who’s who,” or “who’s doing what,” or even that there are multiple people instead of just a seeming “undifferentiated one thing.” One might be able to imagine this or also, now (or eventually, in meditation) find their own “actually instantiated, personally resonant” things like this. Almost everyone has a scattered little bit of things like this, and some people have a lot.

(About all this stuff, one might ask, well, if there’s confused, then what might relatively un-confused look like? And, what about spiritual teachings around perhaps-related things like seamlessness, undifferentiatedness, interconnectedness, no-self, etc.? One might note that “apparently very enlightened” people still have “coherently differentiated” behavior, at least in some sense—that is, they can keep track of who knows what, when a new person enters a multi-person conversation; they can remember and use people’s names; open a checking account; drive a car, whatever. So one might imagine potentially ever-more-appropriate, all things being equal, lived synthesis of interconnectedness and differentiation, perhaps at a profoundly deep level.)

Continuing on, recalling from previous sections, that people can and do, for better and worse, end up with “patternness” of other people “in” them, and, allowing that confusions around identity, individuation, personhood, etc., can be “patterns” in this sense, confusions around individuation and identity tends be more “contagious” than other “kinds” of “patterns,” all things being equal. That is, people can catch identity-and-individuation confusions, from each other, sometimes, and this is a bit more likely than catching other sorts of things.

One might see how this might be the case. Almost everyone has a little bit of identity-and-individuation confusion. And to any degree that “the medium is the message,” and to any degree that identity-and-individuation confusion in one person might unilaterally or reciprocally exacerbate identity or individuation confusion in another person (even if “a little different,” somehow), then one might see how identity-and-individuation confusion, in one or two (or more) people, might unilaterally or reciprocally be contagious or aggregative. (This is not a great or clear argument, but I’m going to keep going.)

In fact, one might further hypothesize that all (or most, or lots of) cases of “stuff transfer,” between people, might depend on or be enabled by, at root, identity-and-individuation confusions of one or both people. (And, as mentioned in other places, all of this can be accidental, deliberate, reflective, unreflective, endorsed, disendorsed, quasi-unilateral, mutual, etc.)

Further, one might imagine cascades of worsening identity-and-individuation confusions as well as “more object level” content, “beliefs,” “goals,” “plans,” “cosmology,” etc., kind of layered-ly building on each other. And, even if very fractionally, the more “relatively similar” two (or more) people became, the easier it would be for object- and meta-level confusions to ramify, and things could potentially get worse and worse, until some sort of equilibrium, if ever. (And, again, we don’t want to inappropriately reify “things” like beliefs, goals, plans, etc.)

An important principle in the above is that if one person has, some “belief” A, and another person has very similar “belief” A-prime, those “beliefs” are more likely to get mixed together [“A-double-prime”] in one or both people, perhaps in different ways, because it won’t be perfectly symmetric. And this can happen for lots and lots of “beliefs,” etc., and, as above, this can facilitate even more mixture, etc.

And, ultimately, in a bad case, a person might end up having aggregated large “swaths” of “pattern” very far from their original beliefs or even very contradictory to lots of their beliefs, sometimes leading to muscle tension, emotional and behavioral disregulation, demotivation, “goal fragmentation,” etc. (being careful, here, not to inappropriately reify things like “goal fragmentation,” etc.).

That said(!), one might imagine this mixing to sometimes be relatively harmless or even a useful mechanism of group cohesion. (I can imagine it being contingently harmless and useful, sometimes.) But, at least some of the time, as per an earlier section, because this process is sort of “messy,” and “confusion-based” (as claimed, here), any mixing will, over time, potentially create tangles and technical debt, as it were, for someone. So, while it might short-run be unnoticeable or positive, over time it can tend to gum up, jam up, limit positive and self-valued individual and group change, causing personal transformative arrest and group transformative arrest. Further, of course, of course, of course, additionally, individuals might prospectively, retrospectively, and god’s-eye-view, as it were, not want this mixing to occur(!!!), for any personal reason at all, including things like tangling or gumming up.

This can all be very tricky to talk about, for several reasons. (Note, when I say “talk about,” here, I mean “talk about,” in general, not about any particular concrete incident or ongoingly extended situation. Though, both sorts of discussions can be good. Importantly, any particular person might not want to talk about this sort of thing with any other particular person, for any reason at all, including the avoidance of any (additional) possible subtle (or not at all subtle) effects between those two people.)

  1. First, all this can be scary and weird. Sometimes people merely marvel at things in this neighborhood, “I became so close to my class/cohort/group, that I would have committed crimes with them or jumped off a bridge with them.” And other times, it’s deeply upsetting and disregulating in a way that lingers—a person might feel diminished, disregulated, and violated, at a deep level (to say the least). So, especially when it’s “really obvious,” but, also, really “alien,” it can be tempting to deny that anything happened or to minimize its impact, and so forth. (It might be very healthy and productive to temporarily deny and minimize, etc., for some people some of the time. People have different coping and healing strategies.)

  2. Second, regarding belief A mixing with belief A-prime to yield belief A-double-prime, as mentioned above: There’s sometimes an effect of something like, “I’ve always believed “A[-double-prime]”. (To imagine a concrete example, one person might want to talk about something concrete, in a constructive manner, or a coercive manner, or anything, and the other person might not want to talk, for any reason, well-motivated or poorly-motivated, reflectively or unreflectively, and they might use, the assertion, “I’ve always believed ‘A’” as support. And, they could always be quite right, and the other person could be reflectively or unreflectively gaslighting them, and so on. Hard. Tricky.)

  3. Third, people’s individuation and identity confusions can be “profoundly deep,” indeed, they can go back to very early childhood, or earlier, and they can be cemented/reified/entrenched “ideologically.”

“Ideological,” here, means “beliefs plus plans” (as always, very loosely speaking) about how things should be, how things should go, how things should happen, locally, globally, cosmologically, etc. “And if they don’t or didn’t go that way, well, it’s nearly unthinkable, barely considerable, that it could go otherwise, even obviously impossible that it could go otherwise; it would be disastrous[, evil, universe-rending, something.]”

Ideological components [explicit, unstated, never stated, reflective, or fish-in-water] could be in regard to interpersonal care, intimacy, group dynamics, sexuality, consent, coercion, child care, elder care, autonomy, agency, etc.

People might explicitly defend their “ideological positions” by way of all sorts of things like “civilizational decline,” atomization, ennui, conservatism, traditionalism, naturalness, empathy, “the current state or trajectory of the world,” science, evolution, the march of progress, morality.

And those are all very good things to think/feel about, to explore, to defend, to act from, and so on. But, there’s a way such positions can “get stuck” and that stickiness can be traced back all the way to deep confusions about self, other, etc.

People can profoundly disagree, in very fine-grain ways, concrete ways, abstract ways, aesthetic ways about what’s good, ok, neutral, bad, etc. For some people, something X might seem downright critically good. For other people, that something X might seem downright demonic, locally or long-run catastrophic.

And, because such things can be so emotionally charged, as it were, people might strongly bristle at the intimation that their deeply held beliefs, cares, concerns, or some very narrow behavior, might have root in some “confusion,” let alone a “childhood confusion” that is supposedly “maybe not immediately reflectively accessible[, even after thousands of hours of meditation, or whatever.]”

X is bad, X is good, X doesn’t exist and X-prime does, X isn’t a monolith, it’s actually A, B, C, D… And each those is bad, or good, or…

(And people can wrong, and very wrong, for a very long time. A long-term meditator might have stuff flip from good to bad or bad to good or one way and back again, after thousands and thousands of hours of meditation, and then still yet more thousands of hours of meditation. One might expect greater and greater convergence between people over time [depending on one’s current beliefs about objective truth, starting conditions, nature, nurture, relative truth, bottom up discovery, subjective and objective morality, path dependence, backtracking, reparability, losslessness, “one reality,” and so on!]. And/but, this stuff is hard and the path is long! I personally think interpersonal convergence can be self-aligned, bottom-up, inexorable and strong, all things being equal.)

And, so, all this “emotional charge” can make it hard to talk about things like, say, “good-faith meta-cohesion” (or live-and-let-live!), let alone an exploration of ideas like individuation and identity confusion, let alone exploring those confusions over a long period of time, let alone doing so if/while problematic interpersonal effects are still happening, making it hard to interact in e.g. real time at all.

In conclusion, one could be thought of as sometimes having a scattering of “deep” understandings, and confusions, around individuation, individuality, identity, personhood, will, agency, and autonomy. These understandings and confusions ramify in ways that can sometimes have strong effects on interpersonal and group interactions, to say the least. And, over time, an individual can resolve more and more of these confusions, using tools like meditation, making it easier and safer to interact choicefully and flexibly and safely with other individuals and groups, or to avoid such interactions. A long-run meditator will have a deep, functional, enacted, integrated understanding of individuality and interconnectedness, all things being equal, though asymptotically and sometimes with abrupt reversals, along various dimensions, late in the game. And/but, over time, one might expect more and more fruitful, safe, constructive convergence around “goodness, safety, beliefs, plans, goals, agency, autonomy” between meditators, holding ideas about all such things, and all this, lightly.

Prenatal experiences

[please read the section, “psychic” and “supernatural” stuff: what/how/how-not (two sections up), before this section]

[cw: discusses abortion, miscarriage, and prenatal trauma]

[I’m indebted to a few collaborators for initial salience that a bunch of this was even a thing, and more.]

It’s maybe less controversial that, if one eventually encounters pretty much everything, including very early life stuff, that one will eventually come across things like surgeries under general anesthesia and traumatic medical or ritual events like circumcision (depending on decade born, where in the world, and parental culture.)

As a side note, it seems like people, the bodymind, actually is/are unconscious while under general anesthesia—there’s not some ultimately recoverable, intensely painful memory, or maybe even any sense of pain. It does seem like there’s maybe the faintest, diffuse shadow of pain and/or some mild “blurring” around the edges of the system, as it were. But this seems to be straightforward to clean up in meditation and doesn’t seem to heavily bottleneck people, as far as I can tell. It might be different for different people.

Anyway, regarding “everything,” one might note that these are things that can happen preverbally and in the seeming “amnesia period” of early life events. So, one point, here, is that people do, in some relatively typically, fairly discretely sense, sometimes, have recoverable early life and preverbal memories. And these, quickly or eventually, are indeed recovered, re-experienced, and re-interpreted, etc., in meditation.

Such “particularly discrete” memories can have a strange, displaced, spatiotemporally odd, perspectivally odd, sensorily odd flavor/sense/character, as one might expect! (And, sometimes, they’re shockingly warm, intimate, etc., e.g. remembering being breastfed as a neonate.) The particularly vivid ones maybe tend to be fragmented and few. Mostly, this content might be subtle, “diffused,” barely perceived undulation.

Now, more controversially, these preverbal memories extend back not just to early, postnatal experiences, but all the way back to prenatally, to one’s time in the uterus/womb, and even to the very first moments of consciousness. (It seems, as soon as the brain starts firing, and maybe even before, the memory system is doing its thing, and its fully contiguous out to adult experience. Thinking about how one might “design” learning and memory, maybe this is very elegant or hard-to-vary, evolutionarily speaking, and it’d be difficult to design some kinds of learning agents any other way.)

There’s a particular character to prenatal memories, maybe a few particular sub-feels, depending on how far along the nervous system and sensory system are, in development.

These feels and memories can eventually be raised, felt, experienced as a (relatively non-jarring) “flashback,” re-experienced as such in meditation. And, one can realize that, for most people, the “prenatal feel of everything” tends to actually be a distantly felt but pervasive backdrop of one’s adult experience! So, something about the quasi-timeless, quasi-all-pervadingness of prenatal experiences lets such experiences maybe particularly persist and coexist with/in/as adult experience. And, one’s personal “prenatal feel” can contribute signifcantly to one’s “cosmology.” (One eventually explores all this in meditation; it eventually just comes up, when it’s safe, a dialogue between different ages, “realities,” etc. and there is eventual manifoldly endorsed harmonization, integration, etc.)

During the prenatal period is when we work out our first takes on individuality, self versus other, “personhood” (in some very rudimentary sense), agency, inside/outside/boundary/containment. Usually our first passes on these things will be quite “confused” in various ways, and those confusions can have downstream ramifications for sensemaking through our entire lives. Also, when things happen too intensely, too fast, too painfully, etc., we can paper over our old versions of early conceptualization and start working off of entirely new takes. This can put twists in the system with further, twisty, downstream effects. (All of this is eventually untangled in long-term meditation.)

Now, of course, prenatally, there is the mother—hormones, voice, body movements, heartbeat, and more. It seems many fetuses are aware of the mother and possibly conceptually/experientially undifferentiated with the mother. The mother, being partially separate, contributes both to successful differentiation, individuation, and conceptions of self versus other (and more), while also being a source of confusion about these things (and more).

Sort of continuing to take things in order of more and more intense and controversial, recall in a previous section about me/not-me confusions, how “mind stuff” from other people can be “in you,” with highly counterintuitive (and controversial, and seemingly even impossible or confabulatory) fidelity, bandwidth, degree, amount, etc. This happens, too, between mother and child. And, surely, much of this is healthy and possibly even essential to development. (Just like postnatal babies need touch and attention, one wonders what counterfactual children of the future would be like, if grown in artificial wombs, meters or miles away from a parent, however humane and liberating that might be along lots of dimensions.)

Sometimes, aspects of the mother/fetus interaction can be problematic, in such example cases as the mother not wanting to be pregnant, not wanting the child to exist, not wanting the child to think or move, mistaking control for love, and so on. Those are sort of “easily imaginable, ‘just so’ story, cliches,” easy to back-extrapolate and confabulate, say, in therapy. But, there seem to be consistent reports from meditators and other mind explorers that such effects/influences/memories are real and downstream effectual for the adult mind. There is a huge range of possible effects, beyond what one might guess—the mother’s conceptual confusions about self and other can affect a child, and so on. A child/adult might have a feel/anticipation/belief that they shouldn’t exist or that they’re bad, which can ultimately be traced all the way to the womb.

Assuming everyone is affected prenatally by their mother (and father, siblings, and more, by the way), it’s currently hard to tease out how often “bad” things happen, and to what degree. There might be selection bias (and, sometimes, confirmation bias and demand effects) amongst meditators. That is, someone who had particularly problematic prenatal experiences might be more likely to become a meditator. So, particularly problematic prenatal experiences might not be very common. I myself don’t have enough data, yet, about this.

In any case, it’s worth noting that the interaction between mother and fetus will be complex. A baby might only sort of interpret the most salient themes, but, even if, say, a mother is experiencing fear and disgust, she might well also simultaneously be experiencing love and care. So, even if there’s problematic regard, there could often be lots and lots of good things going on, too.

Further, fetuses, babies, people, everyone makes mistakes! Even if a mother is wholeheartedly loving (which would be superhuman!), a baby could still misinterpret something as too much attention, intensity, control, something. The baby just might be particularly sensitive or might have an unfortunate misinterpretation of something.

So, I’ll just note that this stuff is hard, life is hard, this stuff is subtle and barely talked about, and everyone’s doing their best, lots of good stuff happens, and sometimes bad stuff happens, too. And, all things being equal, all the bad stuff is retroactively correctable, in principle, with meditation and other approaches. To borrow an old saying, it’s never too late [for a meditator] to have a good childhood (and prenatal experience), as it were.

Ok, so there’s one more thing to mention, in this section, and that is miscarriages, abortions, and older siblings.

It seems to be the case that prior fetuses leave a “pattern,” as it were, “in” the mother, that are conceptually/spatiotemporally/experientially localized to the womb. And, this pattern is durable/stable/lasting and can “picked up” and (mis)interpreted by subsequent fetuses.

Leading to the above, I (and other collaborators, who first made this phenomenon salient to me) have encountered multiple, first-hand reports of people, while in the womb, [proto-]fearing that they would have the same fate as a miscarried or aborted fetus, or, say, believing, confusedly, that they were an aborted fetus (and so were a sort of living dead zombie person), and so on.

My dataset is currently small, so I don’t know how many people who’ve come across such things, in meditation, have then verified them with their mother or through records. (I’m not saying that is or isn’t a good idea!) It’s partially confounded by how normal and common miscarriages are and how they sometimes go undetected.

(Interestingly, everyone so far in my dataset was firstborn, so I don’t know what it’s like to encounter prior patterns/traces of one’s older siblings as a fetus.)

This has been a difficult section to first-pass draft, because it could come off as mom-blame-y as well as sort of fatalistic, regarding far-reaching, possible harms in the distant past that we had no control over. And then there’s how unbelievable some of this stuff is, if one hasn’t experienced some aspect of it, firsthand. And, finally, there’s even the political/ideological and moral elements, regarding prenatal experiences and downstream effects.

(Regarding “proof” of all of this, beyond meditation, some mothers will be like “of course,” as well as shamans, bodyworkers, healers, etc.)

Anyway, this section has focused sort of on the “bad/traumatic cases” because that’s what can tend to bottleneck and then saliently come up in meditation.

But, between mother and child (and father and other siblings and family members, both prenatally and postnatally), we also learn about love, compassion, warmth, safety, and much more.

Resources permitting, a mother, as a skilled meditator, might perhaps(???) work through remaining, prior womb patterns before conceiving another child. This could, of course, be outrageously stringent and costly. (And there might even be good reasons for not doing this that aren’t yet well understood. As always: meta protocol, etc.)

And, but, so, in any case, in principle, resources permitting, as I mentioned a bit above, minds are “lossless” in a way that allows for sort of “clean healing”, clean reinterpretation, clean re-understanding from any badness, trauma, misinterpretation, etc., all the way back to the first moments of consciousness. So, whatever experiences someone has prenatally, this is sort of all accounted for in the “10,000 hour” estimate of how long-ish it takes for a hardcore meditator to sort of asymptote. All of this section is accounted in that time estimate. All of this comes up naturally and is handleable, if it does. And having skimmed this section, hopefully it’ll all go fractionally more smoothly.

Direct and indirect people and group stuff

[please read the section, “psychic” and “supernatural” stuff: what/how/how-not, before this section]

In terms of accumulating “patterns,” and so on, from other people, it’s sometimes helpful to be on the lookout for things from various places. Sometimes things can be “directly” from another person; sometimes things can be “indirectly” from another person; and sometimes things are more “averaged,” across people or timespans.

In the course of meditation, one might seemingly find things from the people and places below. It’s of course possible to imagine, confabulate, and to be wrong, even while one gains more confidence over time about what’s what. It’s good to hold it all provisionally. Sometimes things can be imagined or confabulated by other people, which are misrepresented as being from another person, place, or time than their actual provenance. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter whether it’s “actually” X (or how X got there), and sometimes it does! Sometimes one might want to explore or confirm or cross-correlate (“indirect”) things with respect to family and history, and sometimes that won’t be constructive or it won’t be possible. Over time, one gains more facility with both provisionality and constructiveness, with respect to all this kind of stuff.

“Things” that you “find,” which could be feelings, patterns, sentiments, impulses… can be abuse-related, trauma-related, violent, sexual, coercive, etc. One may well encounter positive things, too. Positive things tend to be less apparent because they’ve become more integrated, metabolized. Negative things tend to be more “coaleseced,” “object-like,” “thing-like,” which is can make it seem like there’s more negative than positive, generally, even when that’s not the case.

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