Welcome to the Meditate or Die Newsletter.
This week I’ve been thinking about the elements at the core of self-transformation.
For me, there are two important elements that allow this to occur.
Firstly compassion directed at oneself is vital in this process as compassion is the aspiration to be free from suffering.
Then if we think of this suffering as that what holds you back, or prevents you from living your best life, then we can see how this is true.
For if you have no interest in removing the very things that are holding you back then self-transformation is impossible.
When Buddhists talk about compassion, this is what they mean.
The second key element to personal development is meditation.
Now, the way I define meditation both here and in general is, perhaps, not what you might imagine.
For me, meditation is an analytic, diagnostic, and therapeutic tool used in the process of personal development.
The fact that you may become calm as a result of meditation is simply a by-product of self-transformation.
(If you’re interested to hear more about these topics, please know, I will be writing more about it over the course of the coming months. Indeed, this is what my book will be about, and I am likely to publish articles on the blog on these topics.)
I’ve also spent more time this week looking at the science of breathing, meditation, and where these two cross over.
And it seems to me that while there are lots of talking points where these two worlds meet, much of the western world are either unaware of this fact, or (and I suspect this is more the case) how they do their work excludes topics outside of the purview of said work.
But to my mind, these two worlds of psychology and physiology are so interdependent that the conversation must include each other.
Indeed, I think there is a lot of space here for some great content to be created that would help lots of people. This is something I’m also looking into. Perhaps even a course of some kind that brings these two worlds together in a meaningful and practical manner. More on that later perhaps.
Onto a completely different topic:
I feel like I need to find better titles for the sub-headings below. They are a little boring as is. If you have any suggestions I am all ears, as they say!
This Weeks Reading List
This work I started reading, Atomic Habits by James Clear.
”Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system.”
We can all do with creating better habits for ourselves.
This book will help with that.
If you’d prefer more of a cliff notes version, albeit, written a few years before his book was published then James has a 46-page Pdf titled, Transform Your Habits, which you can download here – https://jamesclear.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/habits-v2.pdf
I’ve had a look at both and James has clearly (no pun intended) developed the ideas from his eBook further in the real book. So if you have time, a few bucks, and interest, I’d recommend the published book over the eBook version.
Articles from the blog
This week from the blog is, How to Bend Like a Piece of Wood.
The article is a 9 minute read about an encounter I had with a Tibetan lama, self-transformation, and personal development.
Music was my Land of Oz. A fantasy land to which I’d escape. A place that gave meaning to the angst of teenage melancholy. And this worked for me for a time. It helped me make sense of a value system thrown upon me by well-meaning people. But it was a system that I just could not digest without suffering reflux. Whenever I could, I would escape the beer-drinking-football-watching Australian culture for the free-thinking world of art, and everything seemed to be better. But now I was no longer a teenager, and it was time to be handed the red pill. Thus in a single moment with his words, the Lama ripped open the kimono to reveal the truth. My Oz was a fantasy world of make-believe without any real inherent substance. And I was relieved to be shown this truth. Relieved because I was being given permission to see through the scaffolding I’d erected to create a value-system that would ultimately limit myself.
And here is another excerpt:
There is a Tibetan saying, it’s easy to see the flee on another’s back; hard to see the elephant on your own. Couple this with the fact that genuine transformation does not come from adopting a different set of beliefs, and we can see why patience is needed. I will go into more detail in the following sections as to why this is important but for now, I will say this, we are working against deeply ingrained tendencies to believe that what we see and think reflects a reality outside of ourselves. And that our lived experience unexamined sets up a paradigm that makes self-transformation a difficult task indeed. For this reason alone, and this speaks to the second observation, the methods leveraged by lamas can be quite unorthodox at times—case in point the story above. However, by taking the time to deliver the message that compassion and meditation are the tools of transformation in such a way that it allows this information to be assimilated through a process of self-discovery, not information retention, one discovers this truth for oneself, and in one’s own lived experience. Therefore, allowing for the possibility of self-transformation in this very process.
You can read the entire article here:
Have a great week!
p.s. There are images in this email. If you do not see these images then you may need to enable this feature in your email client.