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Buster Benson

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life amplification
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Yesterday was one of the best days ever (picnic with mizrobot, learning to play Go, walking around the city pointing out things never noticed before, creating long story-continuation chains, drinking on the roof, laying around in the heat). Now, day after tomorrow I leave for mime camp for 10 days. While at mime camp, these are the things I can't do:

* talk
* run
* eat meat
* drink coffee
* drink alcohol
* wear shorts
* write
* read
* listen to music
* communicate with body motions
* lie
* steal
* have sex
* get a tattoo
* kill anything
* smoke
* touch anybody
* wash my clothes
* play musical instruments
* record anything

The idea is to remove as many distractions as possible and try to (for once) face yourself. It either sounds scarier than it is, or is scarier than it sounds, I can't tell which. Since I started casually mentioning this to people, almost every time I mention it someone in the group has already gone, or someone knows someone who went. It's weird. I hadn't heard of this until last year when ebcase mentioned it to me. Only one person that I've talked to thinks it wasn't worth the time spent... about a dozen people I've talked to think it was worth it to varying degrees. I think I'm ready for it, and think I can make it worthwhile. I suppose it all depends on how much you want to rise to the challenge. I'm sure it's possible to spend the entire 10 days thinking about how you're going to clean the garage when you get back, and in that case it will be like any other 10 days of your life. But I'm ready to dive in and see if I explode.

This is part one of my year-long intention to explore self-changing experiences. This, and Toastmasters, the book/media club, and my new exercise goals, are the ones that I feel best about. Transcendental meditation, The Game/neuro-linguistic programming/weapons of influence, and Landmark Forum, are on the other side of the spectrum, but I think they may be useful still (as long as I don't turn truly evil). In the middle are things like life-coaching, GTD, and Alcoholics Anonymous. And then there's a few others that are still in the brainstorming phase.

A switch happened a while ago when I realized that I'm this changeable person, and that for the most part I've been a passive participant in my own change. Waiting for life-changing experiences. But there's so much improvement and amplification possible in life that it's probably beneficial to look for positive change... it's sort of like jujitsu... you can use the forces that exist in culture and the universe to throw yourself far distances, even though the power to throw yourself isn't really in yourself. You're just putting yourself into various streams, seeing which ones pick you up. It's a little dangerous, but I think if the spirit of the exercise is right, that you won't go too far astray.

What do you think? Is life worth trying to amplify, and how can it be done?

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Vipassana = cult. Beware!

i don't know if they qualify as a cult... what makes you think so? it's a free 10-day retreat, and there's really no money to be made for them. so, on the cult scale, i'd put them much lower than, say, transcendental meditation or the landmark forum. or even christianity. but yeah, cult or no, i'll try to keep an eye out for fishy practices. i've got a pretty sensitive radar for that as it is... i don't even trust charities.

My experience of these kinds of change-your-life-for-the-better things are that when you're in the space they create you feel empowered and like you can make everything better, but when you're back in the real world its all actually kind of hard.

The cult part usually comes when you feel like you need to get back into the space to feel that power again, so you go back and volunteer or pay for extra classes, etc.

Of course, if you can take what you learn and run with it then you've gamed the system.

The cult part usually comes when you feel like you need to get back into the space to feel that power again

i felt much the same after i tried LSD... but i never did it again and still managed to "get back" :)

yeah - cults and drugs are usually a cheap shortcut to a particualar feeling.

though they're sometimes and expensive one.

that describes a lot of life, i think. i have the same experience every time i go to the gym. my heartrate goes up and i think of all kinds of crazy ideas that then seem silly when i'm cooled down. and every time i get drunk... judgement changes and good ideas at the time seem to follow different rules than good ideas when sober. but at the same time, i think that by letting yourself stretch out with these various experiences it gives you a sense of what's possible to think. it's easier to think that crazy things are possible, even if you're not feeling it at the moment. you can trust in the variety of life and come up with grand ideas and plans even when you don't know exactly how they'll happen. you'll at least believe that there are times when you think anything is possible, and you can sort of learn to trust those times.

most of the things we do is actually tied to trying to regulate our emotional and rational state... that's why we sometimes feel social and sometimes feel alone, and know how to best cater to different emotions. having down time is a way to regulate your emotions and recharge. going on vacation is the same thing. it's good to return to states that you enjoy, and even though you can't be in all of them at once, i think there's definitely something to gain by being in them occassionally... in a way that doesn't completely wear off when you leave.

harry, what do you have against cults, anyhow?

I'm really interested in how all this will pan out for you! I think it would be really hard to participate in that many potentially life-changing experiences in one year if you participate in a real, fully open and completely and sincerely immersed way instead of just as a bemused observer. It's like you said about the retreat, everything is based upon how much you want to rise to the challenge. Especially with some of the possible negative things like Landmark, and some things like AA. Like if you don't consider yourself an actual alcoholic who's seeking to change that, what is your real role there? How will your participation in these things affect the group dynamic and the experience of other people there?

I tend to be pretty existentialist in general, but when it comes to life being "amplified", I think it has a lot more to do with perception.

Yes, I'm trying to jump into these things as a participant and not a critic. I'm not going to go to AA unless I really think I could use their help. It's not a science experiment at the cost of the groups I'm joining, it's an experiment to see whether or not even programs that I'm skeptical of (as an outsider) might have something to offer if approached with a sincere desire to see what they have to offer. I did this years ago with Mormonism and Jehovah's witnesses, going to church, speaking with their missionaries, etc, trying to ask the questions that I had to ask, and seeing if they had answers for them.

I agree that it's about perception. But perception has a lot to due with environment and the community you're in... it's all a tangled knot that you can't really separate out. How do you think about perception as separate from these experiences?

10 days!! Shit! That is a long time to not do all of the above after doing all of the above for a long time. Best of luck. I am sure you will learn a lot about yourself and 'vices'. This weekend I realized I get depressed for at least two days after I have had more than three drinks. Duh! alcohol is a depressant. It just never happened before and I am not sure it is worth it . . . Can self-imposed preventable depression ever be justified?

How come I never get depressed for 2 days after drinking? Maybe I'm naturally depressed? Amy Sedaris said something in an interview I read yesterday that was an answer to the question, "Are you happy?" She said, "Yes, I think so. But only because that's what people tell me. Personally, I identify more with depression, because that's what inspires me." I think I agree with that.

You shouldn't drink if it makes you depressed. But I think you should be sure that that's the cause... just because two things are correllated doesn't mean one causes the other. Maybe depression causes you to drink, and temporarily relieves it, but then continues for a couple more days afterwards.

Oh, I pondered for a while before making the correlation. I have been drinking before when depressed but this is different. Not a big deal at all because I do not have to have more than 3 drinks to have a good time so its all good . . .

a. It's not really a "mime camp" if you can't use gestures, is it?
b. I must be a true Westerner, because this sounds soooooo mindnumbingly boring and counterproductive. I hope you prove me wrong though!

it does sound mind-numbingly boring to me too... but only as mind-numbingly boring as the inside of my head is. it's only 10 days... and if nothing else it'll give me something to write about. :)

i am so glad that you are doing this, but i'm going to miss you while you're away from the internet!

you know how i feel: life amplification in any form is GOOD. life shake-up is good even when it is bad. keep moving, keep doing, keep thinking. the crazier the better. oh erik, i'm so glad we are friends. i love how you see life, and how we work out ideas together. i can't wait to see what you've come up with when you get back from this. love you lots! so much more to say but so much more to come. xoxo

i've already got a lot of ideas i need to catch you up on. ideas about our CULT. but i think it'll be better to share them when i have something to show you. and it's all coming together.

yes, we are good for each other... i am more comfortable and daring in my experiments because i see the momentum you have. great things are happening.

we are egger and egger.

another great bar name! Egger & Egger :)

how about bunny sanctuary or bunny shelter? not the playboy kind but the cute furry mammal. i saw 3 bunnies this weekend.

yes, BUNNIES! Bunnies rock!!! =)

not even a happy apple?

Yes, I think life is worth amplifying, why not? but I sort of agree with Karen that it might be wise to pick and choose among the things you feel really positive about rather than try to do everything at once, or you'll run the risk of participating in a shallow way that won't affect real change. Maybe? It's like we were talking about yesterday--it's really hard to focus on one thing when you've got 20 other things going on.

Re: not even a happy apple?

I doubt I'll do everything. I think some of these things will lead to more things and others will be dead ends. The only thing stopping us from doing everything is that we don't want to. If I find myself participating in a shallow way (or you find me participating in a shallow way) I want to stop immediately or find a way to change that. The way to do 20 things at once is to find the common spirit or vision behind them all... you don't have to put down one thing and pick up another... they're all the same thing that you're doing. But yes, I'm hoping that these 10 days will help me learn how to focus on the thing I'm doing with more energy and vision than I currently do. And also teach me how to play invisible tug-of-war.

I don't want to EVERYTHING. I only want to do the best things. But I see what you are saying. Can't wait to see you do the trapped-in-an-invisible-box trick.

Where is this mime camp? It sounds intriguing.

I'm a friend of lele's and she told me to add you as a friend, and that's just what I'm going to do.

I've never heard of mime camp, and it sounds really interesting and I would love to hear about your experience with it afterwards. When you mentioned Transcendental meditation all I could think about was the Beatles going to India and Paul McCartney saying that he had a really hard time learning how to meditate..

I figure life is definitely worth trying to amplify, and that doing it successfully has a lot to do with the environment you're in; that if you're surrounded by people who are "rooting" for you and if you're happy with where you live / what you define as your "home" then you'll be able to thrive easier.


Throwing yourself in a stream? My curiousity has been peaked. What is this?

Stephanie, a 43thinger

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