This Isn’t Exactly Rocket Science… (7 Rules for Life)
7 Rules For Life
1. Do not use substances, including alcohol and tobacco.
However, moderate use of stimulants (e.g. 2–3 cups of coffee a day) is permissible, with a view to giving up entirely. St. John’s Wort is also allowed, as is mild theanine use. For anything else, check with me in the comments section.
If you are on psychiatric medications, continue using them as prescribed. Once you start to feel better (via the other points on this list), consider tapering off them under your doctor’s supervision.
2. Do not eat anything containing refined flour or refined sugar.
This one rule alone cuts out most of the garbage from your diet. These items are as addictive as any hard drug. They are responsible for dullness after eating, and obesity.
Any other food gets a green light.
Following this rule is a matter of habit. A new habit can be established within just a couple of days. E.g. I ate rice with just salt for seasoning, and fruit, for one day. I ate as much rice as I liked the first day. By the second day I was craving salty rice. This can be as hard or as simple as you like. Choose it to be simple.
You should always be a little bit hungry. It keeps you moving. Learn to like (or at least not mind) being hungry. You’re only not used to feeling a little hungry because of refined sugar and flour, which bind to opioid receptors the same way heroin does.
Moderate use of stimulants (see previous point) can help mitigate hunger.
3. Exercise for a minimum of 15 minutes per day.
The goal is to get the heart rate above “resting” for at least 15 minutes. You should be uncomfortable during this time. Any exercise is permissible so long as it achieves this, and this can be done at any time of the day.
Exercise forces the body to regulate itself against the environment – something we don’t need to do in the pampered West any more. When you make the body regulate itself like this, it sets off a chain reaction of positive hormone release and a reduction in neuroticism.
4. Meditate for at least 15 minutes per day.
The goal of this meditation is not jhana. I would like to encourage readers against making jhana a goal, since this striving inhibits jhana for most people. (I will make a post about this at some point.)
Rather, the goal of this meditation is to touch nonduality, even if it’s just for a moment.
Nonduality is a state of being wherein the line between “you” and “the event you experience” becomes blurred or disappears. So, rather than “you are breathing”, there is just “breathing”.
Even having this for just a moment – even a few milliseconds – matters a lot. It matters because:
- It’s the state you are aiming to cultivate in meditation generally.
- It temporarily removes suffering and affirms life.
- It inclines you towards experiencing nonduality more often that day.
So, if you touch nonduality for just a few milliseconds during your morning meditation, this means the likelihood of you having a nondual experience (or several) later in the day are increased manifold.
Here are some signs you touched nonduality during your meditation:
- You noticed there was a period in which you had no thoughts, even if just for a moment.
- You experienced mental silence.
- You “became” your breath.
- You noticed a sense of flow in your meditation – e.g. your breath began to flow, or sensory events (e.g. ambient sounds) began to flow together smoothly.
- A light appeared, e.g. the dark stuff behind your eyelids became brighter. If the light appeared to move, flow, or grow, all the better.
- A sense of calm occurred.
- A sense of joy, bliss or rapture occurred.
- The sense of “you” – a separate self – dropped out for a moment.
Any one of these occurring just once during the meditation increases its chances of occurring again during the normal waking day by many times.
When nonduality occurs during the normal flow of your day it is noticeable by one or more signs. These will vary from person to person so I have provided several indicators below:
- The veil between “you” and “the world” will temporarily lift. So, you will feel like you are part of the world, rather than an observer of the world. Vision may suddenly become clearer during this moment.
- Spontaneity will happen. E.g. you will talk to someone for no reason, or go into a shop you never noticed before. The sense of time tends to drop out during these moments and life takes on a dreamlike quality.
- You will be pervaded by either a sense of nostalgia (partial nonduality) or a sense of returning home (full nonduality). So, the world will suddenly feel like home, wherever you are. These moments themselves make the entire practice worthwhile.
- You will experience a sudden sense of calm, bliss, joy, happiness, euphoria, wonder, or awe, just from being part of the world. At later levels (where I am now) it can feel like you are drowning in an ocean of bliss, merging with all of reality for several seconds at a time before separating back to “you”.
You will have experienced nonduality at some point in your life. However, I will give two solid examples of the “nondual” feeling so you know what you’re looking for:
- You peel back the curtains to find it has snowed in the night. The world is made new again by a blanket of white. You feel tingles all over and an emotion which encapsulates every childhood Christmas and birthday simultaneously.
- You have been swimming at the beach in the cold sea. By forcing your body to regulate itself against the environment, your central nervous system has released endorphins, numbing pain and making you feel wonderful. Your vision now has a soft enjoyable haze to it, and everything after this point starts to feel somehow easier. For some reason, you now hear your own breathing far more loudly than you did before. (Swimming is an excellent way to trigger nondual states, since plunging into water is a literal act of absorption.)
Virtually all meditation types are capable of touching nonduality, including directive (breath, kasina, mantra) and nondirective meditations. TM-style mantra meditations are particularly powerful for beginners – due, in my opinion, to the way the mantra emerges softly out of nowhere, triggering the right brain.
5. Get enough sleep every night.
I don’t know what “enough” is for you. However, you will most likely find that following the other rules on this list decreases the number of hours you need.
This point also includes short naps whenever you are tired. For example, I find half an hour after work to be blissful.
6. Get some social contact.
Being on your own all day is suicide. Schedule in at least an hour a day of social contact, even if that means joining the local chess club.
Social media does not count. In fact, you should eliminate social media entirely, since it is proven to be just as addictive as hard drugs, providing the illusion of social contact with few of the benefits. I removed this cancer years ago and never looked back.
7. You can break any of the above rules, so long as you make a formal declaration of acceptance beforehand.
This means that you must state loudly and seriously in your mind the following sentence before you break any of the above rules:
“I accept that by breaking this rule I will suffer the consequences, which are X.”
Some consequences are as follows:
- Alcohol use will dysregulate mood and meditation benefits for a minimum of two days.
- Missing meditation will decrease likelihood of nondual states arising.
- Missing social contact will result in feelings of abandonment or isolation.
- Missing exercise will cause resuming exercise to be twice as painful.
- Breaking an eating habit will cause a necessary reset period of one or two days in which to retrain the good habit.
This post came from the fact that, starting on Monday of this week, I began abiding by all of those rules. To say I felt wonderful is an understatement. By day two even the walk to work was like a transcendent holodeck projection. Have you ever seen a car? Do you realize that we’re living in the future, now?
It was more like remembering that things are actually simple if you just do them right.
I mean, really, how hard is it to do the items on the above list? If you’re honest, the answer is: not very.
I think life is something to do with small actions having disproportionately large results. I have put what I think some of those actions are on the above list.
Whatever you are doing in life, I see no way in which the above points would have anything other than a profoundly positive result.