Tag Archives: Meditation

Mind Discipline

Created March 1, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Intellectual knowing is not the same as embodying
that knowledge in one’s actions.

Today there is fortunately an outpouring of articles and books on the subjects which a half century ago were rarely discussed outside of the kinds of books which were carried only by so-called metaphysical bookstores back then.

People with vast curiosity tend to study a wide spectrum of subjects. That describes me starting around age 4 when I fell in love with reading and writing. That also describes many people I know who have read many of the same esoteric books that I have, and some who have learned many things from the same writers. And many people whose reading has been far more inclusive than mine.

In conversations, I have noted that some of my great friends can quote wisdom but often are unaware that their actions do not conform to the bits of wisdom which they quote.

In some cases, this can be analyzed as intellectual versus emotional learning. The rational mind can be aware of important principles of how to live the good life, and yet on an emotional level, they are leaning away from those principles even as they espouse them.

Take a simple example: “There is no use crying over spilt milk.” Like all aphorisms, we tend to underestimate the amount of wisdom this aphorism contains. This is because familiarity breeds contempt. I know at least one person who can teach this to others but always lets disappointing news disturb her.

I know a man who has studied vast amounts of wisdom literature and understands all of it fully, yet his attitudes override the levels of tolerance which all wisdom literature teaches.

I know another man who is a walking encyclopedia of the history of applied psychology who does not pick up on his audience’s reactions.

Clearly there is a gap in the mind between knowing something and believing it to be true and valuable, yet not being able to “carry it off” in reality.

This gap is where discipline needs to be applied.

The reason that self-discipline is needed is that our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life is practiced with a mix of automatic and “manually overridden” (conscious, on-purpose, granularly formed) responses to external events.

Because we are used to that mix and never think much about it, we tend to overlook automatic responses which slip through despite the fact that they disagree with principles we espouse. Besides, “who has the time?” The Acceleritis culture is driving us all at top speed by giving us too many stimuli at practically all times. In moments when all media are turned off, we are not really escaping because that’s when the backed-up cognitive load dumps into our consciousness with unanswered questions and unassimilated half-learning, stuff we noticed but didn’t have time to think about why we noticed it, what it was saying to us that stuck so much in our minds.

My old friend Daniel Goleman has written many books about emotional intelligence, a phrase he coined long ago to describe the quality of a consciousness to integrate intellectual learning with emotional signals from inside and outside, and to perfect one’s actions taken, illuminated by this higher order of inner integrity.

Today I wish to emphasize another aspect of gaining emotional intelligence: self-discipline. Mental and emotional, intuitive and perceptual self-discipline.

The logical way to approach this topic is to start with the desired end state. First one ought to discern the ultimate goal of one’s own life, what you are here to do. The way the game is set up—this is not easy—and many people give up and let their game piece be pushed around by external forces. This is the first important place to apply mental and emotional, intuitive and perceptual self-discipline. You have to make the time to select the dream vision you wish to make come true over the course of your life. What your gift to the world shall be, your body of work you will leave behind to benefit posterity.

A guess is better than not having a targeted end state.

Discipline then has to be applied that respects yourself, you have set a goal, now you have to make it come true, you have to believe in it, you can’t be wishy-washy about it, that is a denial of self-respect.

You can’t allow yourself to waste time. To waste time is to waste your life. Time is a precious limited quantity. You must make best use of each second. Otherwise, you are admitting to yourself that you are not really laser-focused on your mission, you are programming yourself for failure to achieve your mission, you obviously do not take yourself seriously.

That’s why you can’t allow yourself to cry over split milk. Because not only is it a waste of time, it negatively programs you and the others around you. You are causing negative effects, and harming yourself and your mission, by giving in to the automatic reaction of the amygdala. This takes enormous self-discipline which can be gained by practice, and by never taking your eye off your mission.

At the same time, you can’t rush past noticing the cascade effects inside yourself, you must pay the time and attention to see your own automatic reactions that slipped through and screwed something up, so you can figure out what clues to look for next time, so you stop that particular automatic reaction from slipping through again.

One exercise is clearing the mind of all emotions. Any psychologist will tell you that emotions are the physical body manifestations that are connected with the inner feelings you have – so as you discipline away all the emotional clutter you have just been experiencing, it will happen in your body as well as in your mind – it will change your breathing, your heart rate, skin moisture, pupil aperture, and many other things. But you start with an inner act of will to cancel all inner events and return to a state of complete neutrality and emptiness. Starting over. Rebooting. I find that for me this is most effective when I walk into our meditation room, get down on the floor, breathe deeply, empty whatever is in me, and start my life over with a blank slate.

I hope you will refocus on your own mission and try this rebooting exercise whenever needed, and let me know how it goes.

Love to all,


Powerful Mind Part 42
Created December 29, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind 41

In the 1970s I coined the term “Noia” as the opposite of paranoia when I discovered that the prefix “para” derives from the Greek meaning of “beside”. What is beside paranoia, I asked myself. Paranoia is the unhealthy fear that someone/everyone is out to get you. I decided that “noia” then might be the healthy suspicion the someone is out to help you.

The reason I was thinking this way is that by the 1970s I had noticed that often information was coming to me seemingly by accident that was unusually relevant to my current life situation at the time. I would be trying to solve some problem, for example, and since I almost always have music on, a line in a song would come along at just the right moment to bear an uncanny resemblance to my line of thought.

This can be easily explained as random coincidence aided by priming effect and being observant. Priming effect is the increase in saliency of a stimulus to a person caused by a prior stimulus.

However, it did not seem like random coincidence to me because it occurred too often. It seemed more like someone who could read my thoughts and feelings was trying to help me reach my goals. Since my goals have always been to leave the world a better place than I found it, perhaps the universe is trying to help me because I am trying to help the universe, I thought.

Looking back at my life through that lens as a way of further studying the phenomenon, it appeared that I had been given the most open-minded and compassionate parents possible, and gifted with an independence of thought, and lucky in so many ways. I also saw that my love of science had blinded me to consider that there might be a germ of truth in religion and/or in other superstitious behaviors, as I thought of magic, reincarnation, and so many other things.

Having the label of “noia” to slap on things was useful to me in prying open my mind to pay closer attention and not to filter or bias what I perceived by having strong preconceived notions. I started to notice how frequently each day I experienced noiac events.

That led to my noticing what I noticed, and asking myself “Why did I notice that?” In the bulk of cases this unearthed insights helpful to me in whatever I was doing during that period of my life. It was as if another entity with my interests at heart was causing me to notice things that contained or stimulated pathways of thought that would take me to places I needed to go.

You might say that this helpful entity was my own subconscious. But then, what was my subconscious? Could it be the part of my consciousness that is common to all of us and all things? Jung had thoughts like these and also had many other notions that had been of significant utilitarian value to me, so maybe there was something in it. In the 70s I became aware that my affection for science had gone too far and I was myself being unscientific by ruling things out prematurely, and that I ought to go back to the roots of empiricism rather than stay in the current herd culture of scientism which allows scientists to carve out a large chunk of human experience as being superstition without conclusive proof supporting that negation position.

The next step after open-mindedness in this expanded empirical outlook is the control of attention.

In the Acceleritis-dominated culture we live in, taking control of your own attention is one of the hardest possible things to do. There are all of these distractions taking you away from moment to moment. Unfortunately, this environment captures young people from the get-go. They have almost no chance to escape it because it hits them very early on. It’s the ocean around the fish which the fish takes for granted. As if life could not even exist without perpetual distraction.

Young people in the age of smartphones build their lives around this device, and no age group is immune to its hypnotic power. Before June 2007 it was the television set that took us away, and now the norm is to have both devices on at all possible times.

Nevertheless, each and every one of us has the potential to retake our castle. Concentration, meditation, contemplation are the training grounds that build a controllable attention. Twenty minutes a day of practicing these three things can become a 24/7 lifestyle that is far more beneficial than we expect it to be.

One experiment that is worth doing over and over again in the daily alone space – and in other opportune moments – is to get away from devices (soft music without lyrics in the background is fine), put your body in a comfortable position that it can remain in for a long time without discomfort, close your eyes, and simply pay all of your attention to what is transpiring in your mind.

As you get better at this, you will see that you are gaining the ability to watch the arising of a thought or feeling. Focus your attention on being able to see a thought or feeling or other qualia (subjective experience) such as an image, or even a momentary smell, any experience that occurs in your psyche.

Separate the part of you that is the pure experiencer from the part of you that is expressing itself in displaying that thought or feeling to you. If you like baseball, you might picture these two aspects of yourself as the pitcher and the batter.

Sometimes you will experience qualia that teaches you something that you are grateful to learn and you fear you might forget. It’s good to have something to write with and write on right next to you so you can put down one or a few words that will help you recapture the sense of the message. Best to use the exact words that triggered your sense of valuable information.

Often the pitcher will be your ego pitching something at you that is negative, tied to an attachment of yours, and that matches your notion of Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP), the reductionistic state into which people are forced by Acceleritis. This ego is a biological AI whipping up a compote of memories and tossing them at you in a fastball.

Under normal conditions you might swing and miss but with your eyes closed and in a meditative space it will be easier to observe these qualia dispassionately without being caught up in it the way you would normally be taken over by it.

The more you play ball with your robot (ego bio-AI) the more you will notice about its behaviors. You will begin to sense that the robot contains many different programs that I have previously referred to as “senators”. These are all points of view you have experienced, mostly coming from other people you have met or watched or listened to on devices.

The game is made more difficult by the fact that sometimes the robot is right. Sometimes the oversimplified lesson extracted from prior experience is accurately predictive. You sense your own immediate aversion to a person who has not yet done anything counter to you – you suspect it might be because they remind you of someone who has done you dirty in the past – and it turns out that this person is actually trying to take advantage of you. You wonder whether it was the robot who gave you the good inner advice or if the Noia was the benefactor who gave you that precognitive hunch. It could be either. The robot is not always wrong in the net advice it is giving you, but it’s undependable and it tends toward negativity and extremism. Both negativity and extremism are life poisons. They aren’t helpful. Discriminating among your mental and emotional arisings is the only game in town and it can be won against all odds.

Increasing internal visibility is an important aspect of Key #11. More to come.

My best to all,

The Role of Feelings in Decision Making

Updated August 7, 2020

During this time it’s easy to harbor negative feelings almost continuously, but it only makes things worse for ourselves and our loved ones. Negative feelings not only bring us down, medical evidence shows they also weaken our immune system, making us more prone to disease, and they distract our cognitive concentration, thereby reducing our effectiveness. This is also a time in which consistently making clearheaded decisions is more important than ever before, to protect those we love including ourselves.

Bad feelings can also serve a positive function — as an alarm system to quickly get us to pay attention to a problem. Ironically, if bad feelings continue unabated while we are grappling with a problem on a rational level, it will take longer to solve the problem because we are stuck in a cycle of negativity. Most of us have experienced this cycle.

Are you more driven by thoughts or feelings

Are we generally more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts?

Freud established that thoughts are more likely to be rationalized in support of feelings, rather than our being able to use our thoughts to control our feelings. And yet, how valuable it is to be able to do just that — to have the mental self-discipline to focus our thoughts effectively even when our feelings are in an uproar?

Feelings are urges that arise within us, within our minds and within our bodies. Feelings are experiences, states of consciousness resulting from our motivations, sentiments, preferences or desires. These terms all really mean the same thing: what we value, what we want, what we are trying to get, what we want to avoid.

Feelings are how we respond internally to outer and inner events, based on what we are trying to get and avoid, and how current events can help or threaten our desired outcomes.

We feel positive if current events appear to favor our targeted outcomes, and we feel negative if events seem to be heading away from what we want to have happen.

Positive feelings are valued universally. There’s no argument: we all like them, and would like to have more of them!

Generally speaking, feelings are also a manifestation of our motivations colliding with the external world. What would we feel if we had no motivations?

You can discover this by meditating. While there are many meditation techniques, all of them have a mind/gut mirror effect of showing us what our motivations really are, where they have gotten us, and why we have each of our experiences. Through practicing meditation we can achieve this objectivity, turning off certain motivations at least for the moment and seeing what that feels like. What visions of future possibilities arise now that X motivation is gone?

The perspective we gain through meditation can give us a unique vantage point on our feelings and our motivations. Meditation helps us consider deeply our own feelings and their consequences in the world. It also generates positive feelings, so it’s good for our overall health and well-being. Practicing meditation and becoming aware of the role our feelings and motivations play in our lives allows us to better understand the value of both in our decision making process.

My best to all,


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Are you balancing activity and stillness?

Updated July 17, 2020

If we are always pushing toward our goals, we are inadvertently setting ourselves back from reaching them. I know that many of you are nowadays in back to back Zooms almost all day, which means that in the remaining time you are besieged by emails, texts, calls, Linked-In, and actual deadline work on top of all that. The opportunity to take a breather and let your mind relax can wind up being postponed until evening. That isn’t conducive to optimal performance.

There is a stage in the creative process in which it is wise to turn away from the challenge and do other things, for it is during this turned-away phase that the Aha! moment comes.

not creating may be essential to creativity

Certain batteries get recharged when we take ourselves temporarily off the wheel that is always driving us. This can happen when we are entertained — on our screen devices, reading, watching stage or other performances, spectator sports, vacations, making love, being with family and/or friends.

The subtlest batteries, however, only get recharged when we are alone with ourselves. This can take the form of sitting meditation but it doesn’t have to. We can be alone in nature, alone at home, alone on an airplane, anywhere. As long as we are not working down the TO DO list, there is a greater chance that we will slip into the Observer state (the precursor to Flow state) effortlessly.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”raised” width=”auto” height=”auto” background_color=”#dbd4fe” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#3a2b89″ inside_shadow=”false” outside_shadow=”false” ]To help bring on Observer state — a mindset in which you are able to simultaneously observe and analyze your emotional reactions to situations somewhat impassively — this works for me:

  • Look more closely at the place from which thoughts/feelings arise.
  • Don’t add to what you observe inwardly/outwardly, i.e. stop interpreting everything.

If we spend too much time doing, our conscious mind will block the functioning of our subconscious mind, and we’ll interfere with the stream of consciousness. If we spend too much time not doing, we will under-actualize our own goals. The movement associated with creative energy is a good thing, but stillness in body and mind is also valuable.

Balancing movement and stillness is optimal for maximizing effectiveness toward all our goals in life for love, creativity, and ultimately spiritual fullness, intuitively knowing and feeling connected with all beings and all things.

Strive to achieve the right balance between times spent doing versus time spent not doing.

L’chaim! (Hebrew toast “to life”)

Best to all,


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