Trees don't grow out of the ground; they condense out of the air.
(What about you? I suspect I'm a sediment… ;)
Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Feynman:
February 6, 2014 No Comments
Rule One of kungfu is Relax.
I'm starting to think it's rule one of everything. Well, it's not my personal Rule One, but maybe *a* rule one. Which rule comes first depends on your starting-point, of course.
Sitting in my "do a video about this at some point" pile is a note to expound on the precise details of all the ways that physically relaxing — especially in the weirdly-targetted, benegesseritlike ways kungfu has you learn — has helped me psychologically.
But forgetting the details for a moment, the degree to which remembering to physically relax — and yes, it's both a component and a companion of Going 3D, in the window-vs-psychology sense — helps in just about every major physiological and spiritual thing, may not be overstateable.
Just Relax, No Matter What, I tell myself. If you're upset, relax. If you're bored, relax. If you're anxious or doing something or momentarily stymied, relax. If you're too high or too sober, too awake or too tired, too whatever, just relax. Relaxing makes a wonderful Rule One because it's such an excellent first step; from there, anything else you do is done better.
Vitally, I don't mean "just relax" the way people mean it when they say it to you off-hand — usually they mean "stop worrying"; I mean literally relax, as in "activate all those muscle-techniques you've been learning for years, and actively release the tension from your body". Relaxing isn't easy! It takes time and practice to learn how (though it is also something any human can learn, being nothing more than the consicous application of usually-involuntary nervous impulses).
And I love that the acronym for that is JRNMW, which reads as "Geronimo" — because althought what we're talking about is a type of non-action, relaxing, especially striving to always relax as a first step, is a hugely revolutionary thing to do. It's a leap of sorts, to declare for relaxation, for receptivity and reaction as primary to tension and action. It's a Yin Geronimo. ;)
February 3, 2014 No Comments
More polyphasic sleep updates for ya'll. I'm starting a new job soon, and unlike my last one, this one requires full-time presence in an office.
So here you go, Internet: the fun bits.
- While physical, this is a very small company. It's stable, not very new, but also not very big; i.e. my first interview was with the owners.
- For the first time ever, I put napping on the table *during my first interview* as something that I would want. I was pretty nervous about that possibly costing me the gig; but thankfully, it didn't.
- One reason it didn't is that this gig pays significantly less than I can go for based on my resume. It's worth the cut for many reasons, but unless I fill in some of my time with other work, the cut will be unpalatable. I can afford to live, not save, on what I'll be making now; so more is needed.
- I have a plan for making said extra income. It takes about 2-3 hours, not every day but most days, of work. It'll also be slow to pay off, but gradually make more, and the income should become more residual and less work-based, which is also a thing I want.
- Therefore, I NEED my naps — at minimum one before and after work, and one at lunchtime. I'll be spending my mornings — that nice quiet time between four and seven — working on this side-project. (Note: It's not a new project; I've been on it for the last couple months, so it's got momentum; though I haven't been devoting mornings to it regular.)
- There currently ISN'T a place to nap at the new job — I'll have to find one and make everybody comfortable with it. I also don't have a car to nap in, so it has to work in the office.
- The climbing gym I plan to spend my evenings in has a good spot for napping — or at least it has, the few times I've been there. I napped there once and it was fine. Maybe the evenings are more crowded and thus less nappable? We'll see; I can nap in quite a crowd anymore. ;)
So an average day (unmodified by taiji or hockey) is going to look like: 4am up, early breakfast (usually buttered coffee), project work; 7am nap, 7:30 shower, make lunch & snack, etc., 8:30am leave for work (get to work before 9, HECK YES no commute!); lunchtime nap; 6pm walk to climbing gym, maybe blow off some steam before napping, then burn myself out like I need to. I'll skip the gym Monday & Thursday for hockey. Two days will have taiji in the mornings, so work will start later and run later. Evenings can go to whatever project or no project; I might schedule them more specifically later, but I want to try the bones of this first. I'm keeping my usual sleep-schedule of "1am bedtime if I got my 7:30pm nap; if there's hockey or something and I had to miss it, 11:30 bedtime". I may want to improve that — heck, I see a possible future where I might have a shot at Uberman again! — but for now, the E3/E4.5 swing will work well enough. Also, I'm really going to have to muster my shopping and cooking skills to make this work; there's neither time nor money in this schedule to eat on-the-fly. Back to bento boxes and bulk cooking!
That's a lot of change at once: New job, new budget, new daily schedule, new evening hang-out place, new food requirements — pretty much everything but my sleep-schedule is changing. And I know I've said numerous times that making multiple changes at once can be way harder, and it certainly can; but there's a special case where, when some big things are going to change, they can pull along smaller changes with them, by helping set the defaults the right way. (A good example of this is how getting new friends and time-spending habits can help someone quit a drug.)
Anyway, I'll update on how sleeping-at-work is going in the next few weeks. Wish me luck!
February 2, 2014 No Comments
Why are so many kungfu styles named after animals?
It's actually simple. What do animals have less of than humans? Right: Psychology; self-referential thinking-constructs. What are animals? Examples of evolution expressing itself as complex biology, similar in many ways to our own complex biology. But what don't they have? Self-generated, psychologically-generated, tension. They don't (generally; or if they do, much less than us) "worry themselves sick", or get so hung up on regrets about the past that they can't unslouch their shoulders or un-knot themselves enough to sleep well.
An animal is a machine. We are too (we're animals too), but they're a level more "purely machine" than we are, not having that emergent self-consciousness thing going haywire in their software all the time. And as a result, they can do physical feats that astonish us: Cats can fall or leap huge distances and land gracefully; rodents can move and carry many times their body-weight; snakes can do a pull-up with their f*cking chin and move like greased lightning — and none of them have ever taken a single Pilates class, or done a single crunch to "get/stay fit". Why?
The answer is simple physics: It's because they're *not using any more effort than they mechanically have to*. A muscle doesn't fire in a leaping cat unless it needs to fire, and to tense just that much: A catbody that tenses its back muscles 15% more than needed to execute a leap is less evolutionarily-successful than a catbody that only burns the calories it needs to to catch the next meal.
"Show me a cat that can't relax," said a master once. And of course, what's rule one of kungfu? *Relax.*
Kungfu takes its movement cues from animals for a simple reason: They're examples of what efficiency looks like. If we want to learn to use what the human body can do in its best capacity as a conduit of perfect physics, we need to unlearn the things that prevent us from moving like animals. Those things, those habits of civilization and domestication, cause tension, and unnecessary muscle tension is the great ruiner of all physical activity.
January 30, 2014 No Comments
Tossing this question onto the front page since I've been getting it in relatively high proportions in email. The question is,
"I'm on day X of my adaptation. I just overslept Y time(s) for Z duration! Should I give up now or keep going?"
This is related to discipline, which in the book I spend more time mentioning than explaining. But for practical purposes, it can be explained with pretty simple advice — two pieces of them.
1. When you decide to adapt, SET A DEADLINE BEFORE WHICH YOU WILL NOT QUIT. Then don't quit before it — plain and simple. Don't. If it's before your deadline and you're asking (yourself or me or anyone else) if you should quit becuase blah blah whatever, the answer is "NO".
2. If you possibly can, appoint someone as your Kill Switch. This should be someone you see often, whom you can trust to a) understand your reasons for wanting to become polyphasic, and root for your success as much as you do, and b) keep a balanced view of your health and safety vs. your wishes. THE INSISTENCE OF YOUR KILLSWITCH IS THE ONLY THING that can make you quit before your deadline.
So that's my "official" advice on that. Of course I must add that YMMV, and that this is just what worked for me — but I was successful, and I've known other people who took similar steps who were successful too. It's simply true that while you're hella sleep-deprived, you're not going to have the best ability to make the decisions non-sleep-deprived you would want you to make: So (says my theory) you pre-set your discipline, you code in a default behavior that cannot be overwritten until you're past the worst, at least, of the sleep-dep.
Of course, oversleeping still screws you up: By making your adaptation period longer, you run the risk of either extending it past your own endurance for Suck, and/or pushing it beyond your Deadline. DON'T OVERSLEEP. And don't even entertain thoughts of giving up until one of the things you pre-selected as something that could make you give up happens. Use my two pre-selected things above (a Deadline and a Killswitch), or roll your own — but don't doubt your adaptation while you're in the middle of it.
Never doubt a thing when you're in the middle of it, actually. By then the time for doubt is over.
January 29, 2014 1 Comment
I should be in bed.
I need more time, though. How will I ever become a well-read meditative kungfu master writerpaintersingeretc? All these lives one can study — Ip Man, Christopher Lee, name a hundred — and they all had the time to get that good at things, usually several things.
They didn't just have time, though.
They had time to. The to is key, because it wasn't just time; it was usable time, filled with the tools and the will and the ability to use it. We all have our obstacles to to — for me, it's wanting to do so much that I get splintered into a hundred intentions and never get very far with any of them. But you have to use time Now; it expires really fast.
CONTENTS HIGHLY PERISHABLE
January 27, 2014 No Comments
The word "Satan" is not a name — it's a title. In the Hebrew ha-Satan means "accuser"; in the Islamic Shaitan means "enemy". Of course there are many adversaries, but we gave a title to The Big One, the head angel; the one who can actually pose a real threat to the highest and most necessary good in us.
Now, give it some thought, because this is worth knowing: What's your Satan?
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing everyone he didn't exist. Why? Because you can't fight the Darkness with anything but light. The only weapon against Satan is a flaming sword, not because it can stab him, but because it lets you see him. Your greatest threat is unstoppable if you can't see it. Any snake in the grass, any bee in the room, is dangerous; but when the snake with the venom that can kill you the fastest isn't in a place you can see it, you're in trouble.
So what's your Satan?
It's not just any old thing that can make you act in a way you don't like — I like cigarettes, and they suck for my health and are always a temptation; but they're not going to destroy me. (I should add that they could be a Satan for someone else; this is all about individual circumstances.) It's the thing that stabs you right in the missing dragonscale; that plays to your worst weakness and skirts all your best defenses.
You have one. There's a reason for the metaphor, for its age and power and persistence, and it isn't just that it's pretty.
We all have a Satan.
But each of our Satans has a side of it that's a powerful angel, too. If we cast it into the darkness and turn away, if we respond to that threat with fear, then it will overthrow us when it inevitably arises — because Satan is always plotting, yeah? Yet if we look at him, in the light, we see not a monster, but a beautiful shining thing that under different circumstances could be our right hand.
What is it for you?
January 25, 2014 No Comments
Yesterday I dreamed. It was brief, but very clear; and as I don't dream often anymore (which is a huge bonus for me, as my dreams were always a problem), I pay attention to them.
In the dream, I met myself — the POV me was older, so maybe I was time-traveling? — but anyway, I-the-dreamer knew I was meeting myself, but neither of the selves doing the meeting knew that they were the same person. The older, wiser (presumably?) one, whose POV I had access to thought, upon watching my younger/current self interact at some random gathering for a while, had this judgment: "Eh, that chick's not bad. A little broken, but okay."
And that made me, dreamer-waker me, really angry. Because if I've got to be broken, darn it, I'd rather be spectacularly broken. Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, yeah? Fuck yeah. If all these years of work can never erase the brokenness, if I'm going to have scars and never ever be able to escape them, then give me scars. Give me scars that scare children. Make me a monster, because being a monster I could handle — being a regular person who's just a bit ugly or a lot plain, no. No no no.
And that's an interesting attitude to have found in myself.
It's probably not healthy: For one thing, as Lao will tell you with a peaceful and infuriating grin, it's quite a lot better to sweep the floors in Heaven than it is to be CEO of the cubicle-farms of fire.
For another thing, this principle has yet to guide me wrong: Negative emotions are hard. Positive ones are soft. And no matter what you choose to do — trying to choose actions based on every strand of detail, to choose logically in realtime, is incredibly difficult; often it's easier and automatic for people to make choices based on general principles; this is one of mine – things seem to work out better when they grow from positive roots. Even if the actual thing you do is a mistake, by coming from the softer emotions, you're less likely to cause collateral damage to yourself and others, and more likely to recover quickly. So given two emotional positions (and I don't know about you, but I'm often given two, or more, that I can choose to focus on), take the softer one.
And "fuck yeah!" is sometimes a soft stance — it really is — but in this case it's very grim, very giving-up-via-middle-finger; plus that wad of self-judgment doesn't feel right either. Besides being inherently negative (who me? hard on myself?), it's arrogant, gifting my own point of view with an objective authority that ignores the whole "there are other people and we all go through things" angle. Perspectives that lack anything beyond a very narrow perspective are not so…useful.
Anyway. If you meet the Buddha in your dreams and he judges you, hell yeah, kill him.
(P.S. – The koan I'm referencing in this post is, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." It makse sense to me, but I've gotten pretty accustomed to Eastern philosophical thinking — does it make sense to you? Can you explain, without rambling, why you should kill the Buddha if you meet him on the road? …Yeah, I just gave you homework. ;)
January 22, 2014 No Comments
I'm taking it slow today (NO REALLY! It was desperately needed ;), and got to pondering the different ways in which one can be differently-abled, which then turned into metaphorical wheelchairs and the comforting thought that if *I* have a subjective point of view, then surely any meta-component of this world/experience/Universe that could possibly judge me must have access to it, too. So there is no objective judgment against some pre-imposed standard, against which my personal experience is irrelevant. No Ten Commandments, in other words.
Anyway, here are those thoughts. They're kind of raw, but I'm mostly finishing a fiction project today, and since these side-thoughts made it into words, I figured maybe someone would benefit from them. Hope you're all well and having a great weekend!
Everyone’s differently-abled physically, and mentally in terms of innate intelligence. But one can be happy regardless of either of those things (and/or having lots of natural gifts in those areas can inhibit your happiness just as much as lacking them — ask anyone with a high IQ).
Are people differently-abled when it comes to being happy — to emotional health, too?
January 19, 2014 No Comments
Hey everyone! You, your moms, your friends, your childhood bullies, and everyone who's ever read bad fanfic can harrass me on Reddit for the next few hours by following this link!
(You can also use the link later on to read the questions and responses.)
Thanks in advance; talk to you all soon!
January 17, 2014 No Comments