BioProgramming – Self Programming – Association

by pre., Friday, March 6th, 2009.

Every day, you experience things. Mostly random things, happenstance and luck and one-off fluke occurrences. The people at the bus stop, the chance meeting in a bar, the drivers you interact with on the way to work, the normal events of a day. Each of these things affects your mind, changes it, alters the way you react to the experiences that come after it. From each of these things you learn. Over the course of your life, these things build much of your personality. They affect who you are. Combined with your genes, they create who you are.

Some of the experiences you have each day are deliberately designed to influence you. Peer pressure from your friends, detailed instructions from your boss, a convincing political argument. Mathematical proofs. Advertising, our whole culture is steeped in advertising. Newspaper editorials and public service broadcasts. You’re subjected to a constant stream of things designed to change your mind, to affect the way you think.

Yet how often do you seek out experiences to deliberately change your own mind? Do you spend as much time encouraging yourself to be bright and alert, wise and loving, thinking and conscious as you do allowing McDonnald’s to try to convince you to eat their burgers?

Seen this way it is obvious that your brain is being programmed, all the time, mostly by random happenstance and partly from deliberate actions by others.

Surely this balance is out of kilter? Surely the person affecting and influencing your mind the most should be you. For every advert you see encouraging you to eat, you should perhaps deliberately make one encouraging you to build the body you desire. For every person telling you to do what they consider the right thing, you should tell yourself to do what you consider to be the right thing. For every politician or boss trying to keep you meek and subordinate you should be spending time convincing yourself to be powerful and in control.

Self programming

This month we are going to examine some of the ways that your brain is being constantly programmed, and in particular we’ll look at a few ways which are fairly easy to take control of yourself. To free your mind from the random drift and often malevolent forces which are doing most of the programming at the moment and instead put yourself in the driving seat. Ensure that it’s you that is programming your own brain.

When you learn to take control of the influences over your life, to mould yourself to your desire rather than allowing yourself to be bent and twisted by random chance and deliberate interference, you will climb above the random personality you’ve found yourself in and into a stronger, more willed existence. You’ll transcend your arbitrarily assigned role and learn to build your own destiny.

Of course, this is essentially what we’ve been doing for the last year anyway. We’ve been helping you to use the techniques we’ll examine more deeply this month to train your mind to be more alert, aware, improve your memory etc. In fact much of the techniques of self programming you’ve already observed us use by example.

Is it safe?

Programming a computer is difficult, laborious and prone to horrible crashing errors. If you try to program a computer without knowing what you’re doing, you’ll almost certainly make it worse, not better. It’s fair to ask if programming your own brain is similar: If you do it wrong, will you make yourself worse?

Programming a human brain is not like programming a computer. The former relies on complex chains of logic and algorithmic steps. The latter is a simpler process by far, as you’ll see during the rest of this month. A computer algorithm is a very delicately balanced operation. One step wrong can ruin the whole thing. A human brain on the other hand has evolved to be study, fail-safe, hardened against random mutation and a very noisy environment with no deliberate programmer. Mistakes will not cause the whole thing to collapse the way a mistake in a computer program does.

Most importantly, you should realise that refusing to take responsibility for programming your own mind does not leave your own mind’s program unaltered the way refusing to touch the code of a computer program does. Your mind will still be being programmed, all the time. It’ll just be being programmed by others: those who would sell you things, those who would take your vote, those who would scam and rob you, by random chance and accidental association. If it is dangerous to try and direct that programming, it’s even more dangerous not to try at all.

Self Programming Techniques

Next week we’ll examine Focus, show how the things that you think about build the brain and personality that thinks about those things.

After that we’ll talk about verbal tics, the way unthinking phrases and the language we use affects the way our mind is directed.

Finally we’ll investigate self hypnosis as a system to directly influence your constantly evolving consciousness, and present a meditation to remind you to keep an eye on these things, notice when they’re happening and direct them according to your own desire.

First though, we’ll say a few brief words about the most simple and easy to understand self programming technique of them all. The one which just about all advertising and animal training is based upon: simple Skinneresque association.

Association

You can think of your brain as like a spiders web, a mesh of associated concepts. A thesaurus in which not only words but also memories, ideas, people, feelings and more are arranged and sorted in meaning order. Things that occur together become more closely linked in this web.

Thus, if every time you see a certain brand of lipstick it’s on a sexy, intelligent, powerful woman you’ll learn to associate that brand with sex, power, intelligence. This is, of course, how most advertising works. They try to dress it up in sophisticated imagery, cool graphics and funny jokes, but that’s mostly so you’ll also think their product sophisticated, cool and funny. They just want to to associate their product with good things, bring them closer together in your web.

Knowing this, if you’re alert and aware enough to do it, you can easily associate anything in your life with anything else in your life. When you notice you’re doing something good, something you want to do more of, something you’d like to program your brain to do again, associate it with a good thing. Imagine for a moment a delicious meal or the perfect consumer good. Remember a passionate kiss, or a smart good looking friend or celebrity giving you applause or a thumbs up. Associate it with joy and happiness even more than the simple amount you get from the reward of the action itself. If it’s not an inherently rewarding action (like working hard, or getting out of bed early, or refusing a cigarette etc.) so much the better: without your deliberate positive association you’ll probably be less likely to do it again rather than more likely.

Of course the same applies in reverse. If you notice yourself doing something you want to program your brain not to do, visualize yourself strongly in a heavily negative situation: Being punched, hit, embarrassed, ugly, rejected. Even actually slap yourself if simply imagining it doesn’t work.

Warning: Positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement. Imagining yourself in negative situations is likely to associate with more than just the action you’re regretting at the time. It’ll likely also associate you, yourself (who will certainly be present) with those things. Try to avoid programming your brain into thinking you’re stupid, ugly and easily rejected. If you find yourself doing so, negate the image with an image of you being smart, pretty and desirable.

The Meditation

This month’s mediation will contain suggestions that you’ll use the technique of association more often. You will practice using the technique, and note it’s effects on your consciousness.

BioProgramming – Self Programming – Focus

by pre., Friday, March 13th, 2009.

Last week you learned how the things that happen to you, the things you see and hear and touch, the people you interact with and ideas you come into contact with all have an effect on your mind. We touched on some ways of deliberately manipulating those things in order to purposely improve your brain.

Doubling Up

However, all human beings are at least partially transcended. They do more than just experience, more than just react with emotive animal reflex to their environment. Human beings like you also think. You don’t live in the present all the time the way an animal’s consciousness may. Humans being plan, and they reminisce. They recall and project and ponder and rehearse and relive many of their experiences. Living in the moment, in the present, being fully invested in your current experience is no doubt a useful skill. One to be practised often. However the ability to chose instead to think about past events, plan future ones, even imagine the world had certain events gone differently, is one of the abilities which helps you transcended that animal consciousness and take control of your own mind.

A thing thought about is a thing which has effected you at least twice. Once during the experience, and then again during that rehashing, recalling, reliving. Thinking about it again gives you yet another chance to learn and improve your skills. This ability has incalculable value. It’s surely part of the process which leads to faster learning, greater skill, complex abstract thought, understanding, language.

Undirected, this skill can go very wrong. A person who constantly thinks about their failures, their misery, their unlucky loves and unfortunate misadventures will experience all those things over and over again. Their brain will be shaped as though they’d failed a dozen, a hundred times rather than just once. As though they’d been rejected, lonely and hurt for most of their lives rather than just those few times. Sure enough we see this pattern in the thoughts of the clinically depressed. Their own depressing thoughts constantly bringing them down, and at the same time reinforcing those same depressing thoughts.

You can think of thinking as a magnifying glass, magnifying and expanding those effects on your mind which it focuses on. The more you think about something, the more you concentrate on it, the more important your brain will assume that something is. Thus, it will affect you more. If you manage not to think about it all all, it’ll affect you only once.

You should be able to see from this that a very important part of self programming is learning what to think about. You will learn to direct your thoughts away from negative things, things which you can’t influence or change, and towards positive things which show you in a good light. Those which you can still do something about.

Unfortunately for some people this can be more easily said than done.

Who is in control of your thoughts?

You are however in control of your own thoughts. It’s easy. Try it. Right now. Think about something good, positive, nice, something which will help you learn and grow more happy. Think about the last time you were having fun, the last time you were in your lover’s arms, the last time you were succeeding and doing well. The last time someone’s smile made you feel warm

Now you see, It’s not impossible to take control of your mind. You can resolve, right now, that next time you find yourself focusing on something depressing or boring, something that makes you feel lonely or blue, you’ll remember to direct your thoughts instead towards something happy, something instructive, something that helps you learn.

It may take time and practice, but it is certainly possible to change the focus of your life, to change which of your experiences influence your brain more strongly. You can point that magnifying glass at more positive, helpful, confidence boosting parts of your life.

You can also resolve to spend just ten minutes a day doing that even without the cue of unhelpful thoughts. Start with ten minutes, build up slowly as you get better and better.

This Month’s Meditation

Our meditation this month will encourage you to think about good, happy, great things in your life. To ponder on how you are improving, doing well. To focus on recent events in which you showed positive traits, were living life to the full, were acting more transcended.

BioProgramming – Self Programming – Verbal Tics

by pre., Friday, March 20th, 2009.

The most powerful brain-programming system that we humans know of, is human language. Human language has evolved pretty much for the purposes of programming human minds. The evolutionary advantages to being able to instruct your kith and kin on the lessons you have learned, literally program your experience into their heads, is the force that has created human civilisation out of free ranging savannah apes.

We will devote a whole month to Language in a year or so during the next lap around the spiral, but for now we just want to talk about a single aspect of language which humans often use to unwittingly program their own minds, and how we can take more conscious control of it.

Verbal Tics

Verbal Tics are catch phrases, manners of speaking, clich├ęs, idioms or stop-gap-phrases. Mostly uttered without much in the way of thought. You hear a lot of them in business meetings. “At the end of the day…” they say, or “…learn to think outside the box…,” or “…pushes the envelope…”. It’s not just business talk though. The kids do it saying “What-eva” or “Talk to the hand” or “yeah, but no” and they pick half of ’em up of the television.

Politicians have their own set of verbal tics, often simple methods for avoiding the question or answering a different one. “What you have to understand is…”, or “All I’m saying is…” or “Look, what you have to consider is…”

Verbal tics tend to seep into your manner of speaking. They pretty much are your manner of speaking. They help hang your sentences together. The Transcendence Institute’s articles are full of them. Doubtless some unnoticed, irrelevant and incidental. But also some deliberate, either to encourage the author’s ways of thinking or push the reader’s consciousness in a positive direction.

Your conversation, even your unspoken thoughts are littered with these verbal tics. As a result these tics go through your mind, conscious and unconscious, hundreds of times a day. As you have already learned, thoughts often repeated are more often recalled. The associations behind and backing up those verbal tics will, like anything repeated often enough, sink in.

The fact that these verbal tics are coming out of your own mouth so often gives them more credibility yet. People have a tendency to bend their own beliefs to reflect what they find themselves saying.

All of which means that these verbal tics affect your behaviour, they affect your mood, they affect your self awareness, your opinion of yourself and in turn your confidence. The things that you hear repeated, or repeatedly implied, by your own verbal tics will change your very being, they’ll program your mind.

The factors which tend to influence whether or not you pick up a particular idiom, phrase, turn of speech, are not generally “Is it good for you to tell yourself this over and over again?” they’re rarely even “Is this statement true?” Usually they’ll be something more akin to “does it sound pithy?” or “will it help me fit in?” or even “does it rhyme?”.

These verbal tics are a classic example of what Dawkins called a meme. A unit of cultural transition. The ones that get used, the ones that get copied and spread far and wide aren’t necessarily those that will help the person doing that spreading. The ideas, the idioms and verbal tics, which become wide-spread are instead those that spread well. Which means your mind can be doing things against it’s own best interests.

Take the phrase “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” A fairly innocuous thing to say, one would think. Yet how many abuses has that phrase justified? How many unthinking crimes committed under it’s influence? How many people have been hurt thanks to that shallow thoughtless cached thought?

A more personal one, which you can see in your daily life everywhere if you start to look, is the phrase “I’m not very good at {X}”, where {X} is some skill, craft or process someone is unpractised at. You even see kids mirroring their parents use of the idiom. Young children who already know that they’re “not good” at something which nobody is good at without years of practice. A phrase which neatly stops the person who utters it from having to learn to be good at {X}, while condemning them to fulfil their own prophecy.

You may wonder then if there is any such thing as a good verbal tic, a habit of speaking which can improve and uplift rather than suppress and condemn?

All verbal tics, unthinking idioms, are lazy thoughtless short-cuts. What Eliezer Yudkowsky calls a cached thought. Cached thoughts are patterns in thinking which are copied and re-used rather than painstakingly thought through. Yudkowsky suggests that they’re mostly picked up from others, and used without ever really thinking them through, and this is true of most verbal tics. They’re passed on not because they’re true, but because they’re good at passing on. At popping up in human minds.

In general, it’s better (if impossible) to avoid verbal tics. To think through every thought, every sentence, to craft it to say exactly what you mean rather than trying to mean what’s easy to say.

However, there are some verbal habits which may, on balance, be better than their more destructive counterparts. So given that you’re unlikely to eliminate verbal tics from your thinking completely, it may be better to replace some more harmful ones with less harmful ones.

For instance, the “I’m not good at {X}” idiom is fairly easily countered with the simple addition of the word “yet”. Suddenly rather than implying that {X} is an impossible talent you were born without and can never acquire, it’s a skill which you are deliberately and actively improving. How much could that subtle encouragement turn resigned frustration into useful actual practice?

When used in the right context verbal tics, learned responses, can be constructive. If, for example, you find that you tend to plan too much, worry about the future, or that you spend too much time day dreaming about the past, it can be useful to set up a verbal tic to remind you to live in the moment. Just adding that phrase “live in the moment” to your oft-used vocabulary will mean you hear it more, believe it more, train yourself to actually DO it more.

Indeed, if you’ve been following along with our guided meditations you’ll already have some keys, some words or images, which you’ve been deliberately associating with states of mind. You’ll know that using that word will push you towards that state of mind. Just saying “Moment” to yourself when you’re failing to pay attention to the world around you will prompt you to do so.

Verbal tics are, of course, just a special case of tics in behaviour in general. The best way to illustrate this is through an example which is partly verbal, partly behavioural. The resigned post-fix phrase “but what can you do? {shurg}” is often appended to a sentence. Implying, through that shrug, that there is in fact nothing anyone can do about whatever the horrible facts the phrase was post-fixed to may be. That shrug of feigned resignation soon turns, through hundreds of repetitions, into an actual learned resignation.

Thus, your posture in general, not just when feigned in conversation, can affect your thoughts too. Postural tics are perhaps as potentially damaging, or helpful, as verbal tics. The way you stand builds your brain.

Using Verbal Tics

Your verbal tics program your mind, yet your verbal tics are the result of your mind. You can make a conscious decision to change the way you speak. To drop some unhelpful tics and pick up other, more useful, idioms. As usual, you do this by applying your attention and focus to it. By noticing your turns of phrase and by deciding to eliminate them if they’re unhelpful.

Don’t think it simple

The Transcendence Institute once heard tell of a guy who would rant about verbal tics, and had decided that saying “No Problem” implied that there were problems in life. But he didn’t believe in problems. Problems should be looked on as “challenges”, he thought. So he was encouraging people to say “No Challenge” instead of “No Problem” when agreeing to a request. In fact problems are as easily overcome as challenges. They are more or less the same thing. In any case saying “That isn’t a problem” is saying that this request is easy, surely a good verbal tic! Simply using a single word doesn’t make a verbal tic negative or positive. He should have gotten used to the idea that he can do things without it being problematic OR challenging.

Our meditation this week will encourage you to pay attention to your manner of speaking, your idioms, stock phrases and verbal tics. You’ll use recall, cue-setting setting systems and suggestions that you will notice those verbal tics as they happen. You’ll be helped to consider the tics you discover, to decide if they are helpful or unhelpful, and to encourage or eliminate them appropriately.

BioProgramming – Self Programming – Self Hypnosis

by pre., Friday, March 27th, 2009.

Perhaps the most blatant example of brain programming is that of Hypnosis. So blatant that they built a stage show out of it. In a stage show the hypnotist will pick out only the most suggestible of subjects, he’ll use some degree of showmanship and possibly even illusionist’s techniques. However, just about everyone is suggestible sometimes, can be hypnotised to some degree. Since you’ve been following along with our guided meditations you’ve been actively trying to practice growing more suggestible at will. By now you should understand how that feels.

Being hypnotised by a stage magician, a therapist, a 19th century spiritualist or other con-artist, deliberately lowering your defences and thus allowing another person more direct access to your suggestible mind, is one thing. However if you’re to learn how better to program your own mind, you’ll want to do this without a helpful showman, guide, shaman or huckster. Thus, perhaps the most useful self-programming tool is self hypnosis or auto-suggestion

Induction

You’re sure to already know the basic protocol of hypnosis: A hypnotist talks you down into a trance. You do as he instructs, imaging yourself floating, counting down from a hundred, sinking deeper etc. Once you’re as suggestible as you can be he gives you some instruction such as “you will dance like a chicken when you hear this bell.” From then on when the bell rings you’ll automatically do the chicken dance.

On stage, you may question whether doing the chicken dance at that point would be more or less embarrassing than not doing it, and what alternative behaviour you’d employ should you realise you’re not hypnotised and wish to refuse. In other words how much the peer pressure alone is influencing your dance.

Nevertheless, ignoring questions of how hypnosis works and whether or not it can really do things like make you dance like a chicken, (which we have already discussed) you understand the method, the protocol.

What, then, would be the method to be used if you decided to try and hypnotise yourself? Clearly asking yourself to fall asleep would be pretty pointless if it works, and unhelpful if it didn’t. So what do you do in order to hypnotise yourself?

The key is to realize that the words which the hypnotist is using are not the thing which increases your suggestibility. If you ignore his words and read a newspaper instead, it will do nothing. If you listen intently to the hypnotist’s words while thinking about the last episode of your favourite TV show, it will do nothing. If you listen to those words without doing as he says, actually counting down from 100 in your head, actually imagining yourself growing more deeply towards a trance, it will do nothing.

The key to getting into a brain-state which increases suggestibility is to think yourself more suggestible. The hypnotist just instructs you, as you do it, on how to do that. What kinds of images your should push through your mind, what kinds of feelings.

You’ve already listened to more than a dozen of our guided meditations by now, and will have noted that each one starts with similar instruction: clear your mind, think about nothing, create a blank state of mind, slow your thoughts, concentrate on your breathing, etc. etc.

The protocol for self hypnosis is exactly that which you expect it to be:

  1. Find a quiet place, free of distractions and noise, somewhere that you can sit or lie down and be fully rested.
  2. Calm yourself down, let any tension in your muscles slacken off, let your breathing grow slow and deep.
  3. Drift into the suggestible state, you should be quite practised at this by now and have little trouble, certainly you understand the kinds of things you need to let your mind do in order to reach that state.
  4. Give yourself some suggestions, either think the words clearly, or say them aloud, or have some simple imagery or recreations ready to play over and over again through your mind. We’ll come to how to build those suggestions shortly.
  5. Finish, use a set ritual (even if it’s just opening your eyes and blinking), to mark the end of the session. To allow yourself a few seconds to run back up to full alertness, full engagement in the moment.

This, is essentially the technique of self hypnosis. You think yourself into a suggestible state, make some suggestions, then finish

What makes a good suggestion?

So much for the method, but what of the practice? What exactly should you try to visualise, or recall, or say to yourself in order to make the changes you strive to produce in your own mind?

See the word “Self” in the phrase “Self Hypnosis”? If we tell you what to put into your suggestions then it’s hardly self is it? You need to identify your own needs, aspirations, goals, and build suggestions which will help you to program your mind accordingly. If The Transcendence Institute did if for you then, well, the fourteenth one would sound exactly like this week’s new guided meditation on self programming does.

However, we can offer some advice on how to phrase your self hypnosis sessions.

  • Visualise! Especially for primarily visual thinkers, but really for everyone, remember that words aren’t always enough. You need to use imagery and imagination as vividly as possible. Imagine things brightly, loudly, in full colour with everything turned up to eleven.
  • Use the present tense. The present tense is more emotionally evocative than the future or past tenses. “Imagine that you are X” is more immediate than “Imagine that you were X” or “Imagine you will be X”.
  • Keep it simple. You’re after obvious and easily understood stories, anything complicated ends up buried in conditionals, it sinks less easily into the subconscious brain
  • Make suggestions implicit, rather than explicit. Imply the truth of your goal in your statements rather than directly stating it. This can help pass a suggestion through your credibility filters, which tend to concentrate on explicit rather than implicit statements. For example, say “See your increased confidence helping you to behave confidently,” rather than “Your confidence is increasing.”
  • Be positive, not negative. Encourage good things rather than trying to eliminate bad habits. Thinking of a thing may often make you focus on it, making you more likely to think about or do that thing in future. Ideally you’re ignoring your mistakes and bad habits, not trying to bring them to mind yet again.

The trouble with self hypnosis like this is often that (especially once you’re in that relaxed and suggestible almost unthinking state) it can be hard to pay attention, to keep focused on the suggestions you’re trying to give yourself. It’s easy for your mind to wonder off-topic, to stray from it’s task. Often rote-learning is suggested as a system to overcome this, and certainly that is useful, but having to devote part of your attention to saying on topic and focused reduces your concentration on the goal. The topic. The suggestion. The Transcendence Institute is more than happy to just use technology to help!

Recording Your Own Guided Meditations

There is no need to learn by rote, or to devote part of your attention to remembering what you’re trying to do, if you simply record a guided meditation of your own. All you need is a Dictaphone, a computer, even an old fashioned tape recorder. You can write your own script, speak it into a microphone, then play it back as you imagine along with your own words.

If you make your own meditations, your own self hypnosis scripts, why not share them? Indeed, it was this realisation which did much to bring the Transcendence Institute into existence in the first place. Here are our self-hypnosis guided-meditation suggestions. We want to transcend.

You’ll notice that each meditation introduced also has a link to the backing music without the words. We encourage you to use that backing music, plan a ten minute long self-determined set of suggestions, and record it over the backing music.

This Month’s Meditation

This month’s meditation serves as a perfect example of how to build a self hypnosis script. This month we have a script designed to increase your ability to program yourself.

It contains suggestions which will encourage you to use associative techniques more often, to remember or project yourself doing so. It will help you practice that by associating that memory with a pleasant experience.

You’ll focus on that pleasant experience, reminding yourself that pleasant experiences happen often, that you are happy. You’ll associate that experience with focusing your mind on positive things rather than worrying uselessly, or being pointlessly self-critical

You will also be encouraged to associate that pleasant experience with paying attention to your verbal tics and stock phrases, so you can help to eliminate any unhelpful ones. Thus, you’ll notice those tics more often.

The Transcendence Institute encourages you to use this example to build your own guided meditations, to learn to hypnotise yourself, to program your own mind. We encourage you to share these mediations with others. This is why we have a Creative Commons licence on all our work. This gives you the right to copy, modify and alter the Transcendence Institute meditations at will, so long as you attribute and give that same right to others. Allow them to share and modify your derivative work.

Guided Meditation File 14 – BioProgramming – Self Programming
Backing Music “Cloud Nine” By Krayne
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