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"I hate the internet for what it brings out in me" - Thoughts on Conquering Distraction

I received a thought-provoking email from a reader about the nature of the internet. Here's the key quote that I think many people with empathize with:

I feel like a big luddite for saying this, but I hate the internet for what it brings out in me.

... I am trying to deal with what can only be described as an addiction.

Addiction to high-stimulation-distraction is quite common for intelligent people in the modern era. Surfing the internet, video games, things like that. There's sort of a natural selection websites go through, where the more addicting sites win out and spread and take marketshare and mindshare away from less addicting sites. Paul Graham wrote about this in, "The Acceleration of Addictiveness."

Three key thoughts for you, and then I'll share some of my experience with it -

What I've Learned about Meditation

On Tynan

It seems like almost high achiever I know finds the time to meditate and lift weights. Those are two fairly different activities which are usually associated with disparate stereotypes, but tons of high achievers do both. Not only do they do both of these things, but they ascribe some of their success to them.

Because of this observation, I've tried to meditate several times in my life. I went to a Vipassana retreat and left after two days. For a month I meditated for twenty minutes every night. The habit never seemed to stick, probably because I didn't know why I was doing it and didn't see any results.

Then I read a book called the Willpower Instinct. It said that both exercise and meditation increased will power. Further, it said that five minutes of meditation a day was enough, and that it would take two months for it to pay any dividends. Okay, I thought, I'll meditate every day for five minutes, and not quit for at least three months.

My technique, as outlined by the book, is to close my eyes, focus on my breath, and think "breathe in.... breathe out...". After a minute or two I stop the silent breathe in, breathe out chant and try to just focus on my breath. I used to find this process very frustrating, because I thought that if I strayed from thinking about my breath, that meant that I wasn't getting the benefits of meditation. It turns out the opposite is true-- meditation is supposed to be difficult, and it's this very straying and regrouping process that builds willpower.

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