Meditation and Metacognition

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FBeyer
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by FBeyer » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:20 pm

Riggerjack wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:44 pm
...And most of them sound like this. Thank you for summing up your experience, but this is so foriegn to me it almost comes across as gibberish...
You know the saying: you know you're in love when all the songs start making sense? I've found the same with meditation. All that spiritual shit was just white noise to me too. Then I decided to hunker down (well, sit down actually) and just start at the beginning.

It has taken me a couple of years to really incorporate meditation into my way of thinking but I think I can tell I'm on the right track, because all that spiritual 'gibberish' is starting to make a lot of sense to me too. :lol:

I think I commented on this in my journal. We've been taught that
Time + Effort = results.
But meditation is more like
acceptance + innocence = calm

Anyone with a STEM background will think this is the shittiest formula for anything they've ever seen, but those who've sat on their zafu probably knows what I'm talking about. It was actually that one stinkin' formula that made a breakthrough for me. I sincerely stopped trying and I just crashed right into a whole new way of viewing the world over the course of a couple of days.

The Western way of achieving results doesn't work very well with meditation. That is part of the reason why I think it's so important for people to experiment with it. The stigma is of course attached to meditation because all those incense stinkin' hippies that usually advocate are as impervious to reason as a particle physicist is to spirituality. In the name of systems thinking I decided to take a holistic approach to figuring out my life and sitting on my bony ass has proven to be the most bang for my buck in terms of both time, money, and calories.


IN OTHER WORDS!!!:
I get your confusion. I recommend learning how to meditate and it'll start to make sense. :D



Edit: In fact I'm experiencing that whenever someone is being a grade-A douche I automatically draw fram a hitherto completely untouched pool of empathy and acceptance and just let their shit wash right off me without affecting me. Meditation has established a mental trigger that pops up when something goes awry and reminds me not to lose my shit right away.

So either I'm humming along all pleasant-like, like I'd normally do, and if something annoying pops up my inner Thich Nhat Hahn says: This too shall pass, and I usually find a way to get back on track within mere minutes of being disturbed. I literally had an altercation last Friday where I would have smashed the nearest obstacle into someone's face just two years ago. Now I knew exactly how to disarm to situation and how to make that guy a friend again.

The liberation is unfathomable.

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bryan
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by bryan » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:16 pm

Is it meditation (if so, what kind?) when you row a shell (single-8 man), especially blissfully when the boat is really gliding? Or how about riding a bicycle at a nice clip on a smooth road? Is it just being in a flow state?

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by jacob » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:32 pm

I keep vacillating in where I think I find myself relative to Mt Stupid on this subject. I've never sat on a proper yoga pillow, yet based on social data points, it would appear that I'm somewhat sane/high-functioning, ehh, hmmm :? OTOH certainly that might not be saying much, because I still see room for improvement, so grain of salt ... FWIW:

Describing rowing in such a way is mushin. It's a proper meditative-like practice; one that involves the body and involves extreme bodily exercise cf. sitting still and doing mental stuff---also there are clear consequences when you fuck up, so you don't need an elder monk to hit you with a stick if you drift. Having to perform a task perfectly under load is a lot harder than focusing on breathing. I think ppl start with that because breathing is well-defined and the easiest of all tasks; if nothing else, it's something that everybody has a lifetime of experience with by definition :-P Anyhoo, there's some talk about rowing-mushin/flow here: https://www.amazon.com/Boys-Boat-Americ ... 0143125478 ... I do think that athletics at this level develops "character". I [now] have much respect for some student athletes (unlike my younger self).

However, anyone who's in shape can ride a good bike at a proper clip, say 20mph for some time. Thing is ... are you simultaneously aware and unaware of how your legs apply power to the pedals all the way around as well as your position relative to other riders in the dynamic (tactical) sense. C40 has some nice descriptions of this somewhere. IOW ... are you just gliding around in the field [of other cyclists], perfectly, or do you need to think about it?! Goes back to chopping wood. You can chop wood ... anyone can chop wood if they can lift an axe ... but how? It's a quality/quantity issue. Also see #hockeyvision

As far as I'm concerned, I'll insist on the gym metaphor until convinced otherwise. Meditation is gym-like exercise of mentat muscles. The flow-state---when the brain does its thing correctly and without doubt for complex moves---is the desired end result. And to extend the metaphor, some can spend all their life doing pushups and pullups; but are they really in shape in the real world?

I think the test [of enlightenment] is in whether you can do tough/superhuman stuff with mental ease. I think that's where it's really at! #PedalMetal

Add: To me meditation is more an attempt to improve mental functionally by degree; whereas meta-cognition is about improving it by kind. Maybe I'm wrong here (I likely would be wrong if I'm not properly grasping the true meaning of meditation insofar I have noob view of it). In any case, there are very few books and people talking about meta-cognition at the meta-meta level (Wheaton levels is one instance). Even meta-cognition is rare because it requires people to reach a given level before they can talk about it. Since few people reach enough of a level to gain an interest in such things there isn't a whole lot available. Kegan for psychology, Bateson for cybernetics, and Silman (recent thread) for chess comes to mind. Also look into gifted children.

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by frihet » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:46 am

FBeyer wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:20 pm
Riggerjack wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:44 pm
...And most of them sound like this. Thank you for summing up your experience, but this is so foriegn to me it almost comes across as gibberish...
You know the saying: you know you're in love when all the songs start making sense? I've found the same with meditation.
Riggerjack, you are probobly right, both our personalities and experiences are too different to be able to talk about this topic? You come from a scientific, understanding it with the mind place and to me it is a mystery, sensed and experienced through emotions and sensations in body/awareness.

That said, to try to contribute to the forum and not playing the annoying mystical hippie on you guys. I really think vipassana is what best suits scientific persons.

Check out these two - both speak about meditation with a very scientific approach. Using well defined terms and avoiding unnecessary mystiscim.

Culadasa John Yates PhD
http://culadasa.com/about/

Shinzen Young
https://www.shinzen.org/about/
"Shinzen is known for his interactive, algorithmic approach to mindfulness, and often uses mathematical metaphors to illustrate meditative phenomena.

If anyone would like to experience altered states of consciousness through meditation I can really recommend going on a retreat with Leigh Brasington. He's a former computer programmer and teach you to enter Jhanas, states of meditative absorbation in a systematic fashion. Been to two retreat with him myself.

leighb.com

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:58 am

I don't practice meditation in the way most people think about it. In jacob's analogy-space what I do is most like a searching radar where I try to be aware of as much as I can from the world beyond me (sights, smells, touch, sounds, etc.). Riggerjack asked, "How many people are in there?" and in my way of describing it given the limitations I have with language, there are two in there. There is my busy little thought engine, always going a mile a minute. And there's the "me" who either rides my thoughts like they are a horse, or chooses to back away from them and observe them from a distance while maintaining awareness of what my other faculties are telling me. It's easy for me to spend too much time on the horse, until I begin to identify entirely with the horse, and let the horse lead. That is a crude analogy but I don't know a better one.

What I'm attempting to describe is probably closest to what is known as mindfulness or mindfulness meditation. The general idea often finds its way into skill acquisition. "Be the ball, Danny." Moving attention away from thoughts and placing it on physical sensations can help with concentration. It often happens "naturally" but being deliberate about it can help when focus is tough to achieve. It also helps with keeping negative thoughts at bay (typically negative emotions from past bad experiences and/or fear of the future). I don't have a lot of issues with negative thoughts, but I do find that chores (including work) go by faster and are less burdensome when I keep my mind where I'm at on what I'm doing rather than letting it create tension by wishing I was somewhere else, or doing something else. And it makes learning more efficient for me when I'm learning something I'm not passionate about.

It all boils down to paying attention to what you are doing with the converse being letting your mind wander. Like with many things, "there are many roads to Dublin". Maybe because I was brought up Western the contrast of the Eastern approaches is appealing. There's nothing magic about it IMO. It's not a superpower, just a technique some people like to employ at times.

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Campitor » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:18 pm

@Rigger,

I think IlliniDave and others (Jacob, FBeyer, etc.) are doing a good job of describing meditation, the different techniques that exist, or how it can be used. I tend to be very brief or circumspect - a bad habit which is a result of the copious amount of writing I do at work and the frequent external inputs/interruptions that come my way. The net effect is that I don't express my thoughts and ideas fully or successfully on these forums. Focus where the hell are you!!!??? :lol:

As mentioned by numerous people, meditation is not the only means of training focus. The reason I choose meditation is because of it's simplicity; all it requires is my mind and a corner where I can be physically undisturbed. I don't need a kayak, I don't need to run, I don't need to <insert hobby/activity that cultivates focused attention>. You mentioned washing dishes. It's boring so you let your mind wander. Washing dishes is a very low risk activity; if you miss a spot you can always re-wash an item. But what if you're debugging code, dispensing medication, ordering implants, or reviewing error logs, or writing technical documentation? A wandering mind is a serious liability that can have serious consequences.

You mentioned turning up the squelch in order to suppress the useless chatter - it works for you and you shouldn't stop if you're thriving with that paradigm. What I'm doing isn't "squelch" but rather ignoring all other signals - I don't lower/raise the input strength of anything. The best analogy I can offer of what I'm doing is the school lunch table. At lunch you're sitting with all your friends but each of you is having a 1 on 1 conversation with someone. You are perfectly tuned into the conversation with the person sitting across from you despite the fact that your other friend, who is sitting to your immediate left, is talking just as loud as your buddy sitting across from you. You're still hearing everyone's words being projected into your ear but your mind is selecting only the desired inputs and ignoring everything else after a subconscious analysis. Squelch drops the noise but I'm not dropping any noise - I'm selecting which noise to focus on and letting all the other noises drift by. I hope this is making sense.

In regards to washing dishes, when I wash dishes I actually focus on the dishes. I determine how many dishes there are and what they are stained with. I determine the best order to wash them in and the best drying configuration. All dishes get washed by hand since I don't have a dishwasher (a.k.a, the big drying rack that is never emptied). The net result is that I get the dishes washed and dried more quickly and efficiently. So what? Who gives a flying fiddle how fast the dishes get washed? I do because I'm not just washing dishes - I'm focusing so I can wash the dishes quickly and move on to more important things like napping, reading books, playing upwords with my daughter. :D

@ everyone

In regards to #3 (letting everyone know you meditate). I don't ever talk about it unless asked because the usual reaction is bewilderment and adamant claims of how its either not needed or how it's bovine scatology. It's kind of the same reaction when you discuss being frugal or wanting/being ERE. :roll:

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bryan
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by bryan » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:50 pm

@jacob, thanks for the new word! Mushin. A few things about rowing make a bit more sense now (e.g. the why of preferences of how a coxswain should sound/communicate). I'll read that book eventually (I recall someone suggested before that I should read it). Kind of disappointed that none of my coaches or mates made the concept explicit (only referring to stuff like being all of one mind and body, or how the tactile feedback will be like once you are rowing excellently, or doing specific drills).

I came to cycling just after university (where I did rowing for four years). The practice of achieving mushin no shin must have translated. I mention "on a smooth road" since I suppose it's part of the feedback loop of achieving the state (i.e. a bumpy road is a positive feedback and will hurt your chance of achieving mushin).

edit to add/ask: I guess music (making/listening/dancing) can be similar? Any links for that too? :D

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:04 am

bryan wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:50 pm
edit to add/ask: I guess music (making/listening/dancing) can be similar? Any links for that too? :D
I don't have specific links, but if you go on youtube and search for "music for meditation" you should get enough hits to convince yourself that for a lot of people there is overlap for whom music goes hand-in-hand with the quest for whatever they seek via meditation. There is also a belief that certain forms of classical music, especially baroque (Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, et. al.), contribute to improved concentration/studying, with allegedly some academic findings to back it up. Baroque has always been one of my favorite styles of music so I often listen to it without needing any prompting. The use of chants and mantras are another area of overlap. That rhythm and breathing are integral to a musician's skill set make the domains natural partners.

From the anecdotal perspective of a wannabe musician, getting in a mental zone where I "forget" I am holding a contraption made of wood and wire, and lose distinction between what my brain desires to hear and what my ears actually hear, is when the experience is best--sort of a temporary relief from duality. The first place I encountered Zen terminology in a way that made sense was in the context of musical instruction.

Dunno if any of that is related to "mushin" however.

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BadHorse
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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by BadHorse » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:35 am

A while back I was talking to a neuroscientist studying the effect of meditation. They were looking for consistent changes in patterns of brain activity. Problem was, the patterns were all over the place! They saw changes in individuals, but changes were, well, individual. No obvious common pattern. I haven't followed up on it, so don't know what they eventually concluded. But maybe there is just a large variation in how meditation is perceived and its effects?

Personally, I (think I) recognize the experience that @bryan and @jacob talk about. It's a great state to be in, but it's also quite distinct from some of the experiences I've had while meditating. To each their own, I guess.

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by Farm_or » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:05 am

"Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" recommended reading for us Westerners with dirty fingernails

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by frihet » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:48 pm

https://spiritualityexplained.com/sf-me ... ull-video/

I've never seen such a clear and concise explanation of spirituality. If this doesn't speak the language of this board I have no idea what will.

Frank Heile - Mensa, physicist, models and equations, practical. Enough said.

Enjoy!

And thanks to Daniel Ingram for posting it on his forum originally.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discus ... ge/7267197

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Re: Meditation and Metacognition

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:41 pm

Interesting video. I'd be interested to do more reading about the connection between consciousness and language. I think Dan Dennett touches on this, but as I recall it was only enough to pique, but not satisfy, my interest, like this video. Would be interesting to see the sources that went into the video for some of his other claims, which were thin in places. But, there were a few parts to which I related. Some quotes:

~18:15 - The problem is to a hammer everything looks like a nail; to a problem-solver, everything looks like a problem. So that leads to a negative critical attitude towards life. Here's a problem, there's a problem. If I can't find a problem right here and right now, then I have to go out and find a problem, cause that's a problem if I can't find a problem. So I will go looking into the past for a problem to solve in the past and that's usually a resentment of some kind; I gotta solve that resentment problem. Or I'll go off into the future and try to solve some future problem and that often results in fear if I don't think I've come up with the perfect solution to that future problem. The Thinker also argues with reality - this shouldn't have happened; why did that happen. The Thinker is always rehashing and rehearsing - rehashing the past and rehearsing the future...negative emotions are a problem for the Thinker - how do I make sure this thing doesn't happen again this thing that caused this negative emotion, that's a problem. Positive emotions are also a problem - how do I make sure this happens all the time? In fact, a Thinker can turn a positive emotion into a negative emotion - the fear of what happens when this goes away, I'm going to be unhappy.

~22:20 - Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past. As long as I'm trying to make that past be better, I'm going to hold on to that resentment.

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