Saturday, October 24, 2020

Chaos Meditation

Mindfulness is extraordinarily useful, and the training looks like meditation. I'm not aware of any prior art, so I believe this is an Alrenous original. Do read the whole post since it contains warnings.

In chaos meditation, focus on the distraction instead of the topic. Or: instead of focus being mandatory, focus is forbidden. Scan your imagination at all times, and immediately seize any topic change that presents itself. Instead of trying to force your thoughts to converge, force your thoughts to diverge.
Order meditation: "I breathe. Hey, pretty lights. No no, I breathe."
Chaos meditation: "I breathe. Oh hey, pretty lights. They sure are pretty. What else is pretty? I like flowers. Those are pretty--no wait, I'm thinking about flowers. Which are biological. A funny thing happened in biology class, and..." If you run out of distractions, think more deeply about your current topic until a distraction presents itself.

Chaos meditation has several advantages over normal, order meditation. I developed it because attempting order meditation literally makes me want to kill someone, and I needed an alternative. Instead of fighting your nature, you lean into it. Your distractability is an asset instead of a liability, and yet chaos meditation still trains the mind to resist distractability. I can't be completely sure due to that whole n=1 thing, but I believe it exploits the reward/aversion circuits. Training takes discipline. Using discipline builds aversion. Training to be distracted builds aversion to being distracted. This frees up your discipline quota during distractions in daily life.

Both kinds of meditation train you to recognize the sensation of being distracted, and to deal with it intentionally instead of by reflex. Both types of meditation consist of long periods of paying close attention to the contents of your mind, and thus to become familiar with the usual patterns and mechanics of your mind's contents. Hence, mindfulness. Further, while order meditation is unquestionably harder, chaos meditation is still a discipline and practice with it gently trains discipline.

That said both order meditation and chaos meditation have side effects, and as expected most of the side effects of chaos meditation are opposite to order meditation. Instead of training for a still mind, it trains for an active mind. I find being aware of all my distractions can cause mental traffic jams at times. Reminder: neither kind of meditation is particularly safe. There is no such thing as a safe kind of power. Pay attention to the side effects as they develop. If you don't like the price you're paying, fix it by doing the obvious thing.

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