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The Tinkered Mind
A meditation app is forthcoming. Stay Tuned.
January 26th, 2023
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 10: The Backdrop
Take a moment to sit, arrange your posture, and take a few deep breaths with long exhales.
<18 seconds of Silence (3 full breathes + exhales with half-second counts>
Now transition to coherence breathing with inhales and exhales of the same length.
If you’ve made it this far, then you’re well on your way to creating a new habit and integrating it into your life. You have solid momentum with taking time, sitting, and relaxing yourself with breath.
With this foundation, we are going to start exploring greater amounts of silence. We’ll tinker with our resolution of the thoughts we find there, and then we’ll see what we can do with those thoughts and what we can do to those thoughts.
To be clear, thoughts include things like emotions. Everything that is an object of the mind is roughly referred to here as a thought. Hearing a car pass by, and paying attention to it is a kind of thought process. So thoughts won’t just refer to the narrative in your mind or the abstract ideas and visualizations that populate the space.
For now, let’s take a moment to do a body scan in complete silence. Remember the sheet of light suspended above you, and allow your attention pour slowly over your entire body as that sheet of light descends over you.
<30 seconds of Silence>
Having given all the internal noise of the body some attention, let’s now turn the attention to the sound around us. Whether it be the sound of traffic outside or the ticking of a clock, or the hum of a refrigerator compressor, allow your attention to be like a bubble around you that expands to include all the sounds that arrive at your ears.
<15 seconds of silence>
Annoying sounds that can bother us without getting our full conscious attention, and little aches and pains in the body that also aren’t big enough to get our full conscious attention are both similar to thoughts. For a person that does not practice meditation, there can be countless examples of these things that contribute to a constant backdrop of stress.
But also just like thoughts, we can drastically alter the way these things effect us by simply giving them a moment of attention.
Another way to think about such things is to imagine an easy but stressful task that you’ve been putting off. We all have these. These small tasks can cause us stress for hours or days and even weeks, and when we finally decide to get it over with, we find that it was easy and quick, and the relief that we experience is both surprisingly deep and a bit ridiculous because of how much procrastination preceded such a simple task.
Little aches and pains in the body can function in the same way. Give them some conscious attention, and a tense muscle can finally relax.
It can be useful to think of this backdrop of droning annoyances as things we are avoiding. And if we simply accept them by giving them a little dedicated attention, they vanish.
The same is the case with many if not all thoughts. So let’s take a few moments to turn our attention onto the mind itself. The goal isn’t to think nothing, or decrease the number of thoughts you have. Just open your attention to what is there. Continue to breath and use that as an object of attention if you’d like. See how thoughts interrupt or interfere with your ability to focus on the breath. Or simply focus on the mind’s space and see what arises.
<30 seconds of Silence>
For some it might seem like there aren’t many thoughts, and for people like this, they often find with time that there’s a flood of thinking that they simply weren’t noticing in the beginning. It can feel like beginner’s luck, and such a person can wonder if they are a natural or if this is even worth the time, but its more like a resolution problem. It’s similar to when your eyes are focused on something distant and you don’t see something right in front of you.
For others the flood of thoughts is all too prominent, and that flood of thoughts can be a major deterrent to starting a meditation practice. It’s like that pesky little task we’ve been putting off is multiplied by thousands, becoming something that inspires real fear.
The design of this program has been more for their benefit. To fill these sessions with more guidance while a habit builds and then slowly introduce time where we can engage with that torrent of thought and feeling. What becomes truly interesting is when we’ve trained the mind to the point where all of these things can be acknowledged and put aside. What is left over is a truly precious and profound experience. Certainly we’ve all had experiences where life yanks us into the moment to be fully present for some peak experience, but the ability to shed everything at will, whenever you want, and simply reside in the present moment is a true power in life, and one worth training for.
Tomorrow we will explore more silence, but for now transition to deep exhales. And while you finish up the session with these relaxing breaths, try to bring the ideas and the experience of those session with you into the rest of your day. Start wondering if it’s possible to have moments throughout the day where you can pause and take stock of your situation, of everything around you, how your body is feeling and how frenetic your mind is. Ask if you can take a few slow deep breaths during those moments, acknowledge everything and reset yourself for the rest of the day.
<10 seconds of Silence>