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The Tinkered Mind

A meditation app is forthcoming. Stay Tuned.

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MEDITATION DRAFT SESSION 5: RITUAL INCENTIVE

December 19th, 2022

 

On Monday Tinkered Thinking releases a draft of a lesson from the forthcoming meditation app, currently called The Tinkered Mind (If you can think of a better name, please reach out. I'm not crazy about the current one, but I'll be damned if I let an imperfect name keep me from developing a good idea.) The rationale here is simply to stave off project stagnation by taking a wish to work with words on a daily basis (Tinkered Thinking Posts) and combine it with adjacent projects. This also gives regular readers a chance to get a preview of what I'm cooking up and to get feedback before the app launches, which is a tactic that has proved extremely useful with other projects unrelated to Tinkered Thinking. 

One further introductory note: The goal of this meditation app is predominantly aimed at helping individuals build a robust daily habit by breaking that habit down and tackling it's consitituent parts one at a time and aiding the process with a new and innovative way of tracking progress, the likes of which has not been seen in other meditation apps or habit tracking apps.

Again, if you have any feedback, please reach out via Twitter  

Session 5: Ritual Incentive

Take a moment to sit and arrange your posture. If the sitting instructions from the last session are still a bit of a confusing haze, don’t worry. Simply try to maintain a straight back with plenty of space for the abdomen to expand. And remember you can always repeat past guided sessions. This will preserve your access to lessons and increase your momentum score.

 

Once you’re ready begin breathing with deep exhales. Again, the idea is to have a relatively quick inhale and a slow, longer exhale. I’ll count out a few 4 count inhales followed by exhales with a count of 8

 

 

Inhale till 4, starting on 

 

1 - 2 - 3 - 4

 

hold for a moment and then exhale  

 

8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1

 

Then..

 

Inhale again till 4, starting on 

 

1 - 2 - 3 - 4

 

hold for a moment and then exhale  

 

8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1

 

Continue this for a couple more breaths, and feel free to allow the exhales to be as long as you want. And once you are ready let your breathing transition to coherence breathing where inhales and exhales are the same length.

 

Making a habit of taking time during each day to sit is more important than anything we try to do with the mind during any given session. This is particularly true in the beginning, but it will always be true: a session of meditation that feels like a complete waste of time is better than no session simply due to the fact that it adds to the momentum of our habit of meditation and makes it more likely that we will discover the benefits of the practice as a mature and long lived habit. It’s important to really let this long term idea sink in: the real benefits of meditation are mostly in the future. Yes, right now we are taking time to consciously breath in ways that create immediate beneficial changes in physiology and this is certainly a short term benefit but our real target is more distant, and in light of that, a large part of our focus is devising mechanisms to ensure that we practice today and practice tomorrow. In some ways this is our main goal. 

 

This is the case with any habit: going to the gym every day no matter what - even if you do nothing but check in and leave - its bound to lead to realizations about your body and physical fitness.

 

The idea here is to entertain and educate on the topic of meditation while the initial stages of a setting habit and a breathing habit develop. All while the back strengthens, the breathing techniques have their daily effect  and your posture shores up.

 

Many people struggle for years by fits and starts, each time trying to become a habitual meditator. It’s the philosophy of this meditation program that most apps and teacher and programs ask too much of beginner and fail to give enough practical and logistical information about how to incorporate the practice into the rest of life. Perhaps this is because experienced meditators who have become teachers fail to remember just how difficult it can be in the beginning, especially for someone who would like to have a meditation practice but who doesn’t necessarily have the level of passion and enthusiasm that most meditation teacher no doubt exhibited when they first started. And as a result, a lot of people renowned for meditation are likely blind - not only to the challenges that face the beginner, the skeptic or the person who just doesn’t have much energy for it, but such “gurus” are inevitably also blind to potential solutions to these problems they aren’t necessarily aware of. Or in simpler terms: how does an ordinary person without such overwhelming passion for meditation still succeed at creating a meditation habit? That’s the area where this program is acutely focused.

 

Now, in support of trying to make things easier in the beginning, it can be very effective to design a set of ritual incentives that take place in tandem with your meditation practice. A ritual incentive is just some sort of little reward that makes it a bit more likely that you will sit down and practice.

 

This can be as simple as meditating while the morning coffee brews or cools to the perfect temperature. Taking that first sip of coffee as your reward for having completed a meditation session can go a long way to helping this habit stick. It certainly doesn’t hurt that coffee can be a bit addictive due to the caffeine content. That’s sort of the goal. In some sense a good habit is simply a beneficial addiction.

 

Remember you can always put that coffee in a thermos and have it in front of you waiting while you meditate in order to keep it hot. Or just put a plate over your mug to keep it hot longer, and think of it as a reward. At this stage in the game it’s completely fine to leverage the simpler, limbic components of the brain to help generate a robust habit.

 

So be it a cup of coffee or a hot shower, or sitting with your to-do list and planning the day, give it some thought and don’t be afraid to play around with different ideas. Try to find a consistent place in your day - at the same time - when you can sit and commit to this practice. Reward yourself in some small way after each session - ideally something positive and if that reward is something that’s already a part of your day,  then all the better as this habit will have a higher chance of lasting if it’s paired with something that’s already a robust part of your routine. 

 

Now, as this session wraps up, let’s transition from coherence breathing back to deep exhales.

 

Inhale till 4, starting on 

 

1 - 2 - 3 - 4

 

hold for a moment and then exhale  

 

8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1

 

Then..

 

Inhale again till 4, starting on 

 

1 - 2 - 3 - 4

 

hold for a moment and then exhale  

 

8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1

 

 

Continue like this for a few more moments while the session ends and think about how these simple breathing techniques are something you can carry with you through out the day - practices you can use whenever you need a sense of clarity and calm. 


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