Paradoxes And How [Not] To Understand Reality

Reality is at it's essence a paradox. The rational mind cannot not grasp or understand reality for exactly that reason. And science is rooted in that same belief-system. Science proclaims that you can explain reality in a rational way. Science and the materialistic world-view is based on a simple but mistaken belief. And nobody within science ever seriously questions this belief. It is taken for granted. The fundamental belief of science is that there exists a materialistic and mechanistic reality out of which consciousness arises. Consciousness is viewed as a biological function that is produced by a complex interaction of neurons and chemicals in the brain.

This is taken so deeply for granted that it is never questioned. It is not surprising, because this is the way that literally every person on this planet is raised today. That we are a human being which is separated from a dead and unconscious reality outside of us.

This is the rational paradigm of science. And only within that framework rational explanations can work. This paradigm allows for certain things to be possible and other not to be.

Rationality and therefore our minds cannot grasp how existence comes from nothingness. Why something exists rather than nothing. That appearances and all of reality is infinite and groundless. That there is nothing inherently existent behind that which appears as our experience. It is an infinite regress. Behind the illusions you can only find more illusions. Taken to it's full conclusion this process negates itself. The search for truth is seen to be pointless. Walking the path leaves no path behind. The answer is found in the unanswerable Isness or Suchness of the Absolute.

Truth can only be found in the illusion. Because Truth escapes all experiences. It precedes all experience and is the ground of everything. But, as it is no-thing, it contains no points of reference. Nothing to experience itself against. Only un-manifested infinite possibility. To transform these words into experienced realizations, we have to leave rational reasoning on the side and dive into what we can actually experience.

How can you arrive at these realizations? Well, that is the quest humanity has been on for a long time. At their roots, many religions tried to be a guide for the realization of truth. But in today's world they are even harder to understand. We leave all religious dogma also on the side and instead go with easily applicable and practical steps to enlightenment.

The two basic exercise that form the corner-stone of almost every serious practice are meditation and contemplation.

Meditation in this regard has two poles that need to be developed. The first is concentration and the second is letting go.

  1. Concentration can be developed by focusing on an object (the breath for example), increasing the duration over time. Without letting the mind wander and getting lost in thought. 
  2. Letting go can be developed by observing the mind with awareness. Letting the mind think and do what it wants without interference. This is also called the do-nothing meditation

It really is that simple and those two techniques can guide ones practice for many years.

Contemplation also has two aspects.

  1. The first is contemplation of the self, called self-inquiry. It the deconstruction of illusions through the observation of reality. A list of exercises can be found here.
  2. The second is the contemplation of teachings and theories of reality. Reading or hearing a metaphysical philosophy is the first step of assimilating the words. To transform a theory into knowledge it has to be pared with experience. And contemplation (as in silent meditation) allows one to validate of falsify the various concepts. 
In this whole endeavor of separating the real from the illusory humanity has used mind-revealing chemicals throughout history. We call these now psychedelics. They can greatly accelerate the revelation of higher truths. But it takes great courage to became a true psychonaut. So this path surely is not for everyone.

The Paradox is...

...that the illusion is real.

Your personality is part of the infinite strange loop

Life and experience is an illusion. The universe creates your direct experience without any substance behind it. It just appears and is therefore illusory. And at the same time it does not get anymore real than that.

This is the way god dreams himself into existence.

The search for a deeper truth and to realize higher states of consciousness will ultimately bring you to the point where you started. Direct experience is what is left after all concepts are gone. It is the ultimate magic trick.

Every experience is build on anther illusory experience. A web of experiences holding themselves up in a sea of absolute nothingness.

The magic trick of existence to create something from nothing.


The Source of Suffering

"Grasping at a self and phenomena to be truly existent causes all suffering through distorted states of the mind" 
The Dalai Lama

You Are Not Located Within Space - It Arises In You

To break the illusion of space and the identification with a body which is located within space is not easy. The illusion is strong and you have probably been living in this illusion for all of your life.

Why is that? Why would you not see reality as it is? What is wrong with the idea of space and time as the foundations of the solid world that surrounds us?

The problem lies in the perspective and if you are interested in truth than you have to make sure that the biological setup of our body is actually tuned to perceive reality as it is.

But it turns out, the goal of our bodies during evolutionary times was not to see reality for what it is. The goal was simply to improve the likelihood that you successfully produce offspring, which then itself can go on to reproduce. It is therefore not at all in our biological interest to see truth. And we are therefore not equipped to do so.

I want to share with you here an interesting talk about 3D-Space. 3D-Space is in this model only the way we get presented with the raw data of our environment so that we can best process the information.

Without going further into it, here is the video. It is worth watching in it's entirety. It gets very interesting towards the end.

Cutting Straight To The Truth

One of the most clear and direct talks on the truth I have come across so far. 

Simply enjoy and let it sink into your awareness!

Changes after years of practicing mindfulness / all-day-awareness

This article represents an update on my journey of incorporating mindfulness into my every day activities. Ever since I first heard about it in the context of lucid dreaming I tried to keep this practice up. Outside of my regular 30-60 minutes of daily meditation sessions, I am staying present with at least one sensory input. The intent it so keep the mind from wandering as this is known to decrease happiness.
Improves focus, but its usually not applied to the present moment...

When the mind wanders, it tends to loose itself in worries about either the past or the future. Both are illusions. They do not exist. Only the present moment and your current experience does. This is all obvious, but what does it good to remain in this present moment with awareness?

First I want to address the problem with constantly planning the future or worrying about the past for extended periods of time. There is nothing inherently wrong with those activities, but as every mental activity the are habit forming. And herein lies the problem. For most people it means living their whole lives in this mental state. You can always strive to achieve your goals and imagine living in a better future but when you are not at the same time cultivate the internal mind states that allow you to enjoy those better circumstances you will never arrive there. Recognize the depth of implications this has for you. You will forever be stuck in this state mind. Of not being happy with the present moment. Because you are practicing this during all of your waking hours if you do not become mindful of this habit and interrupt it. 

I want to give you an example that makes the depth of mental habits more obvious. In the case of your mother tongue you can see how habits of your brain are quicker than you conscious efforts. As all sounds, also you mother language does not have inherent meaning. Just as any foreign language does not make sense to you, so doesn't the language you grew up with. 
Now try to listen to your mother tongue in a way that you hear the raw sound but do not understand the meaning of the words. It is impossible. That is how strong habits are. Your brain attaches the meaning to the words without your conscious effort.

This shows you how difficult it will be for you to enjoy your life if you have not consciously practiced experiencing the present moment. Out of habit, your brain will constantly pull you out of what is actually happening. And then you will most likely be worrying about either the future or the past.

In essence, this practices brings you to the only place that actually exists. The present moment. And once you have replaced your mental tendency, to pull you out of the present moment, life becomes a beautifully flowing experience. 

In my experience this practice turned me into a minimalist in many ways. I now enjoy the simple things more. I prefer meditating over partying. The simple state of existing feels rich and fulfilling. Monetary and materialistic goals dropped lower on my priority list, much lower. 
Why? Because they are only necessary to cover up the insecurities one develops when constantly worrying about the future. 
Money? Is usually acquired in the hopes of quieting the worries about an uncertain future. 
Excessive Materialism? Is usually acquired in the hopes of a strong emotional experience, so that it momentarily quiets the monkey mind. 

You have a long-term goal? – Program your subconscious to pursue that self-image

Pursuing and achieving major long-term goals is a big part of proper self-actualization and realization of a successful life. Life is change and it will change no matter what you try to do. Having some control over that change and developing yourself in a positive direction will certainly have a positive impact on your perceived level of happiness and well-being. No matter how enlightened you are, if you are living in a modern society you will always care about your direct experience. And your experience is largely shaped by how you develop your mental and physical capabilities, health and skills. And lastly for most people, a positive life-experience also involves some degree material achievements.

Writing down your desired state of self is the first step of this technique

I assume that you have some major life-goals. You have been studying self-development, you have been reading my blog or other self-improvement resources and you have therefore a vision for your future self. You have also understood, that it takes practice and continuous work to achieve certain out of the ordinary goals.

But, if you are like me, you have already attempted to achieve many goals and failed almost as often. Why is that? Why do we set goals for ourselves and are not able to live them in the long term. We work on them in the short term, motivation drops and we quit. We want results quickly with little effort. Or we do not enjoy the process and have chosen the wrong goals for us. Whatever the reason, we often fail to achieve our goals.

In reality all those reasons are only symptoms and not the true source of our failure. Here is the absolute reason why you are not achieving your goals:
“Your subconscious mind works against your imagined future, because it holds an image of yourself which does not embody that goal.”
Or said differently, your subconscious mind will influence your actions in sneaky ways so that the long-term outcomes will bring you back to that internal picture you have of yourself in regards to that goal.
Let’s say for example you have been growing up in a poor family and community. For years the way the people lived around you has programmed you to imagine yourself living that way as well. Now you want to achieve a rich life for yourself. If you do not correct that self-image first, it will be a hard battle to achieve that goal. Your poor self-image influences your actions and motivation to became or stay true to that self-image.

So how do you change your self-image? Through repeated emotional imagination of the desired self-image.

Carry the goalcard with you and regularly visualize the goal

One way to accomplish that is to make a Goalcard. You always carry that goalcard around with you. You make it a habit to look at it several times day. You imagine your future self as vividly and emotionally engaging as possible.

This is how you write your goalcard:
  1. The specifics of the goal: When and what you want to achieve?
  2. The way to achieve the goal: What do you need to do now? How to you want to achieve it?
  3. How you embody the goal: What does your life look like if you achieve the goal?
  4. What are your motivations: Why do you want to achieve the goal?

Write all the answers to those questions down on the card and make the card durable, because this process of osmosis can take a long time. Depending on how big of a change to your self-image your goal requires. You want to become a millionaire? Better expect this process to take a few years, if you are not already rich. Embodying what it takes to earn a million probably requires drastic changes to your personality. That’s not going to happen overnight. But carrying that goal card with you for a couple of years will be well worth it. It will constantly remind you to work on that goal and create that self-image.

After all, you have absolutely nothing to lose from applying this method.

Realization: Nothing I perceive exists outside of me

Just yesterday I had a kind of awakening. I already had the deep understanding that nothing exist outside of me. But I struggled to have a direct experience of this. I was thinking if it is even possible to experience this as a living reality. Yesterday a shift happened for me. In and of itself it is nothing spectacular at all. Nothing changes and I broke out into laughter because it is so obvious that I was amazed at how deluded I was before. I looked at nature and deeply felt that everything was me, I was not removed from it anymore. It all happens within that one awareness which is me. That of course does not change the experience but it adds another layer to it. It feels like seeing through the matrix.

No matter where you go or what you do, it will always be an experience arising inside of you. And this is probably true on the physical level as well as one the absolute level. All experience is a result of your brains simulation constructed out of raw sensory data. On the absolute level there is never anything outside of reality, it is always infinity unfolding in the now, and it is you. This absolute will never die or stop existing. There is no absolute ground, everything that arises exists within the infinite, dimensionally unrestricted framework of reality. No solid “outside” reality exists independent of you.

This does not answer any of my questions. But is showed me that there aren’t really any questions. And that questions about wanting to get a complete picture of reality is not something that can be answered. Because that viewpoint would need to be outside of reality. And therefore it would not be all of reality. Therefore this question goes on until infinity, just like reality itself.

This insight has given me a great feeling of peace at least. This is it and there is no way to “know” it.

At the same time it gives me additional motivation for spiritual practice and let them take me to that place of fully embodying those insights.

Strangely it has taken away a lot of the fears I had around taking psychedelics. Psychedelics will take your perception on a wild ride, but there is nothing coming “into” you from the outside. They are also already part of this reality, which is you anyways. And in my experience they are powerful tool for introspection and open you up to all sorts of possibilities. Just like a child, to whom nothing is impossible per se.  

About becoming enlightened

There is nothing more intriguing than the realization that you yourself can really become enlightened. It is not that far out thing that only monks in caves in Tibet can achieve. When you have had your first glimpses of no-self you know there is a real possibility that you can attain something of value on this path.

And that is usually the point when your searching actually really begins. The first enlightenment experiences act as a huge motivation. But they will also challenge you to see that in fact you have a lot of work to do. Where you at first thought that you already had a lot figured out.

It shows you that all the theory you studied so well and have probably already accepted and understood, is of no value without integration. Reading about no-self and enlightenment will do you no good without actually seeing and integrating it for yourself.

And that is where the interesting part starts. Practice without expectation but with persistence and see for yourself where it takes you. Stick with it through the tough times. Because it will most likely not be a smooth ride. You will go through painful times, where you discover all the comfortable lies you have been living in all your life. Lies you have become very attached to and which make up your false sense of self.

Discovering that you in fact do not exist as you thought can be a painful process. But it is only painful from the perspective of the ego. Once you are through, there is no more resistance and existing in a place of Truth is freedom.

So stick with you self-inquiry and meditation practice. Once you get your first enlightenment experiences you will know that there is actually something to that whole story. And you can in fact experience it.

My 50µg AL-LAD experience for consciousness-work

Yesterday was the third time that I tried out AL-LAD. I took about 50µg. Before taking the substance I did 90 minutes of concentration meditation. Afterwards I contemplated and asked myself if I wanted to take the substance or not. I felt confident but also nervous. I always get this stirring feeling in my gut that I associate with anxiety.

Because you never know what you will get from taking psychedelics. After taking AL-LAD I turned on some music and started dancing. But I really did not feel any anxiety this time. After an hour I could feel some effects.

I noticed that I get sucked into the present moment more. Everything became more detailed. To the point where listening to lyrics in a song became almost impossible. It was like time slowed down and therefore I could not remember the sounds from the beginning of the word anymore. This was interesting but also a little terrifying to observe. Although I felt sober otherwise, I could clearly relate where this would take you on higher doses.

With this slowing down of time, I seemed incredibly long to trip for 6-8 hours. I mostly spend the time meditating in silence, because even music became too demanding at some point and I really enjoyed the silence more.

Overall I was feeling very emotional and as I spend the day alone, I also felt overwhelmingly lonely. But I took the chance and observed how those feelings behave in my body. Although I wanted to run away from them.

I also had the strong wish to be sober again. And I could clearly see how much I like my sober state of consciousness. I am mostly in a very calm state of mind and was thinking that I had no real anxieties for example. But this trip showed me that there is a lot in my subconscious which I like to suppress.

Again it also showed my how much more meditation and awareness work I have to do. When it comes to the present moment and being aware of it, we all think we can actually experience reality. But that is far from the truth. We automatically skip huge parts of our sensory input and put everything in categories. For example, try to listen to your mother tongue without attaching meaning to what you hear. That is impossible for most people. Or looking at this text without attaching meaning to the symbols you see. There is actually no meaning in them. Your mind is automatically doing that. And it is doing that with everything you perceive.

What is the problem with that? You are simply not present. You are always caught up in what you think is important of reality and that distorts what is actually there. It keeps you from experiencing reality directly.

So overall this trip was insightful but also more demanding than I would have thought. On this kind of dosage you are not really tripping, but you are also not really sober anymore. I do not know if I would recommend it, because it can definitely make you feel “bad” for a couple of hours. But then, if you are seriously interested in growing yourself and have already spend full days in meditation you know that this is not always pleasant.

If it is possible to describe all of reality...

...then this is it.

Yesterday released a new video of breath-taking length of two hours. And it is so far the best description of reality or absolute infinity that I have ever come across.
If you are seriously interested in enlightenment I encourage you to invest the time and listen to it. And commit to trying to understand everything he is saying. If you have not yet had an enlightenment experience, than this is probably close to impossible to grasp. But in case you have had such an experience, you will notice how beautifully accurate Leo’s description of reality is.

For me this video had the effect of bringing back bits and pieces of memories from my enlightenment experience which I had forgotten. Or could not possibly articulate or make sense of this. His descriptions are so complete and are absolutely obvious in the light of absolute infinity.

It even makes logical sense. And that is the beauty. Before hearing this, I was thinking I could not make logical sense of it. But after contemplating what he said and listening to it twice, I have to say, I can not come up with anything to dismiss his arguments. It obviously cannot be any other way.

Reality has to be absolutely infinite, otherwise it could not exist at all. If it was not infinity, it would mean there must be something outside of it which constrains it. But then this constrain is a part of reality again. And so it goes on forever. Reality HAS to include everything. Not just what is possible but also everything that is impossible. It is so incredibly mind-bending than we can only be humble and infinitely thankful.

There is still something my ego just does not quite want to accept. And that is the fact that “I” do not exist in this infinite groundlessness. Nor does anyone or anything else. From the grand perspective it is all “me” and it is all one. The crazy thing is, if you are reading this, it is not me the writer who is it, it is “you” the reader who is it. You are it and no one else. That means from the perspective of the absolute self, I am all of it and I am absolutely alone. Because there could not possibly be anything else that is beyond this reality, which I am. Nothing is separate from it.

And as Alan Watts pointed out so beautifully: It is the game of hide and seek, which god likes to play with itself.

I have to say I somehow miss the naïve childish notion of referring to anything solid outside of oneself. But on the greater scheme this realization is so liberating and really the only satisfying answer to the search for truth in a sense.

If you have had a profound psychedelic experience, but you cannot yet fully grasp what Leo is explaining in this video, realize that your mind was not able to “remember” what you experienced during your trip. My profound mushroom experience was four years ago. And since then I am working on integrating what I have experienced. It is all still saved up somewhere in my memory, but it takes serious work to integrate it into your world-view and to make it accessible to the sober mind.

Currently I believe one such powerful trip might actually be enough for a lifetime. And from there one it just takes work and practice to integrate the experience. Although with this approach the likelihood is high that you will just forget about it and never again bother to investigate it. In my experience, taking small dosages of some psychedelic from time to time, keeps the motivation high. Each time you get a small glimpse again of the absolutely infinite, if you approach it with the right intent.
I have become incredibly sensitive to psychedelics. I can access this infinite perspective on dosages where others do not even notice anything. It all comes down to the intent with which you go into the experience. I am currently experimenting with AL-LAD in slowing increasing dosages. It is said to be warmer, more controllable and not as twisted and weird as the mushrooms.

As the mushroom experience was also so frightening towards the end, I am still very hesitant to “become god” again. I think it was so frightening because I had no conceptual knowledge of any of this when I went into the experience.

Exercises to make better decisions

Sooner or later you will experience situation that will be major turning points of your life. In that cases it is important to not let your (largely unconscious) mind-chatter guide your decision. Strategic thinking about the decision ahead can spare a lot of trouble and regretting later on. As I am about to make some major changes in my life very soon, I had to make a few very important decisions. I will share more of that in other posts.
Therefore I researched how to make good decision and what techniques people have come up with, as guidance in the decision making process. This article sums up my findings and my experiences with the various techniques.

1. Utilize walking to get into a clear headspace

Realize that how you feel about a thought, scenario, your current situation, your partner or a project you are working on, largely depends on the chemical soups that is currently flowing through your brain. Do not make important decision when you are tired, overworked, eating a poor diet or not exercising enough. Therefore the best thing to do before thinking through the possible outcomes of your decision, is to get the composition of your neuro-chemical soup right. The fastest way to do this is to exercise out in nature.
When you want to think about something important, don’t do it half-consciously with a bag of chips in your hand, sitting on your couch. Or any other less than optimal environment for that matter. How often have you thought about something while sitting in the car in a traffic jam? Stressful environments lead to fear-based decisions. This is not what you want to be doing, if you are about to make an important decision.

Instead get out in nature and just walk. Choose a beautiful surrounding away from the noise and stress of the city. Make a conscious effort to quiet down your monkey mind by exclusively concentration on your senses. Be conscious of every step, hear the sound of your shoes hitting the ground, feel the wind blowing over your skin, feel your body, hear the birds,… There really is almost no roof to the amount of sensations you can become aware of. Try to hold as many of them in awareness at the same time as possible. This is so difficult at first, I guarantee you it will push your monkey mind to the side. There just is no mental capacity left to get lost in thought.  After doing this for maybe 20 minutes, or whenever you feel, you have settled into a positive, present and calm headspace, consciously introduce thoughts about the area where you have to make a decision. You may already have a few idea or scenarios. Introduce them, hold them in awareness and see how they make you feel. Do not try to analyze hard facts about the decision ahead. This is not what this exercise is about.

This exercise is about getting in touch with your higher self or heart-space (or whatever other name you have for it) and let this guide your decision. Facts like money or wealth or reputation or college degrees are superficial aspects, which will not give you a clear picture about how you will actually feel when you live the life that followed a particularly important decision.

You might not be able to imagine this right now, but do the exercise and you will know the answer to your question pretty quickly. Walk for maybe two hours or however long it takes, without forcefully guiding your thoughts. With really important decision, repeat this several times. And your picture of where you want to go will become clearer and clearer.

Be careful of judging your decision later on, when you are back in different environments. Being stressed out, stuck in traffic or confined to a cubicle, will make you doubt the decision you made out there while walking in nature. It will most likely feel too ambitious or too risky. Just remember, that the neuro-chemical-soup in your brain has now a completely different composition again, which is likely more fear-based.

2. Ask your 80-year old self

This exercise is powerful and simple. Write down the options you have in mind for your decision. Write down how you think your life will develop after each of the options. And then, think of yourself as being 80-years old and having lived through those alternative lives. Imagine having chosen one of the options and then ask yourself the following questions. Or maybe come up with additional questions that better suit your particular situation.

Are you proud of having made that decision?
Would it be something you want to tell your grand-children about?
Do you feel regrets?
Was your life meaningful?
Or did you only do it to avoid any risks?
Were the fears that guided your decision actually real?
Would you decide in a different way now?

You can even write down the answers and let those influence your decision.

3. Limit your information

For really important decisions we tend to think it through in many different ways and try to gather as much information as possible. This can be a trap and the reason, why I recommend sticking with exercise number one. This will let your intuition and sub-conscious wisdom guide your decision. And I think this part of our brain has a much higher capacity than our conscious thoughts.

When you have too much information available, it tends to become frustrating. You cannot handle so many aspects. Each aspect has to be given a rating of importance and valued against every other aspect. It’s impossible for you to do this. There is also another troubling aspect of gathering lots of information.
An interesting article at Psychology Today talks about “why too much data disables your decision making”:
The human mind hates uncertainty. Uncertainty implies volatility, randomness, and danger. When we notice information is missing, our brain raises a metaphorical red flag and says, "Pay attention. This could be important."

The take-home message of the study is that we over-value the information where we had to spend energy on in order to make the uncertainty go away. Even though an aspect might be relatively unimportant to your decision, because you had to spend so much energy on it to find an answer to it, your brain will judge it as more important. Be aware that this is completely unconscious. And the only way to avoid it is to not start gathering more and more information, but let your intuition guide you:
“Neurologically, information is addicting. Learning is associated with the release of dopamine, the same as powerful drugs like cocaine. It's why we are so vulnerable to an Internet rife with attention parasites that leave us worse for the wear.
In a world where every click brings the promise of a discovery, we are all at risk of becoming addicts. The challenge lies in differentiating between questions worth exploring and questions best left unasked.”
So in other words, this is an exercise of “do nothing”. If you actually wanted to do this exercise, your best bet would be to do a “do-nothing” meditation session and see if you already find your answer.

4. Your decision is reversible

It is very likely that your decision is largely reversible. That might take some effort, but imagine for this exercise that you can easily reverse the decision or choose differently. You will likely approach the decision with less fear and in my opinion that is what you should do. In our environment today, it is unlikely that the decision you make will result your death or major suffering.

5. Practice Stoicism: The worst case scenario

When you are uncomfortable with your current situation but you are also afraid of what a change might turn into, this mental exercise is especially helpful. Imagine the worst that might happen to you when you go with the particular decision. You are likely already doing this in your head. But here the point is to tackle those fears. For each of these scenarios write down a list of actions you could take to improve the situation.

  1. What would be the worst that could happen?
  2. What could you do to prevent it?
  3. What would you have to improve the situation?

It will reveal to you that your fears are largely an overreaction and not grounded in reality. You have just written down possible ways to prevent or solve those issues. They are not dead-ends anymore.

As you are probably making decisions in order to optimize your situation, this might open up new ways. Things that have previously seemed too risky will become more reasonable.

Hiking With Full Awareness - Walking To Enlightenment

I recently booked a three week Buddhist meditation retreat for my three week vacation for this year. It was a combination of one week of teachings on Buddhist yogas and traditions, follow by one week of silent solo meditation and finished with one week of group meditation sessions.
This would basically be the most hard-core meditation experience for me so far. But I changed my mind and cancelled the reservation. This post is about my recent discovery and the reason I changed my mind about this retreat.

Enlightenment by immersion in nature and physical effort?

How To Do It

On the recent weekends and also in the evenings after work, I spend most of my time hiking. And I discovered it to be a joyful and effective practice, when combined with awareness of the senses. I tried to open up my awareness and stay present to whatever arises. Feeling every step, hearing every step, feeling the clothes on the body, hearing the birds, becoming aware of what arises in sight, sound, smell and touch. All at the same to time, as much of it as possible. This is a hardcore practice at first. In the beginning it feels very unnatural and you will quickly lose focus. It feels like to much to take in. And then comes a moment when your mind surrenders and kind of cracks open. You stay aware, you let everything arise and pass away without an afterthought. No distractions arise anymore and it becomes much easier to be present.

Somewhere in that (at first forceful) state of flowing with the present moment lies a powerful mechanism. I do not know where this mechanism works or how, but I seems to have to power to transform your whole outlook on life, how you feel, your degree of appreciation and your compassion. Sometimes you even reach moments of utter clarity and wisdom. Wisdom that everything just is as it should be and a feeling of love penetrates your being. This might sound already far out, but I was able to reach this state after only a few hours of seriously practicing this.
I discovered I could remain in this state of mind for a long time. As my body felt great from the fresh air and the natural surroundings, I was also enjoying the practice a whole lot more than formal sitting meditation. In a sense this practice is much harder and in another sense it becomes easier because it is more enjoyable. It is harder because of the initially overwhelming sensory input. This stage might last weeks and I just pushed through it and opened up my awareness more and more. Concentrating on more individual objects at every moment. Until it had to become an overarching resting in awareness. You only get so far with focus. It is a delicate and subtle difference, which is not easy to explain. But if you come to this point you will notice how it feels.
On the other hand walking meditation is easier because it is not so dull, boring and sometimes unpleasant. You do not fall asleep and your body does not become this big obstacle to your practice. It does not limit you in how deep you can go into the present moment.

Shortcut To Enlightenment

In Buddhist traditions, monks are known to practice walking meditation. Sometimes up to 15 hours a day  of this practice are done. And different lineages of the Buddhist teachings have different degrees of emphasis on this practice. There is even a practice which might be translated with “the fast track to enlightenment” and it involves hiking up and down a mountain for 1000 days.

Those practices are certainly extreme, but enlightenment is also the most extraordinary state a human being can attain.

My Plan

Considering that my working time is already spend mostly sedentary in front of a computer, I was thinking that my free time is better spent moving and again sitting for most of the day. In that way I can combine physical exercise with my meditation practice.

I plan on hiking for one week at a time. The routes I have chosen are mainly in quiet nature areas, away from roads and traffic. I take my full camping equipment with me. This includes a camping hammock, an air-mattress and a sleeping bag. My focus will be on staying in the present moment with every action I do. Therefore I do not plan ahead the distance I want to cover. It will basically be hiking from dawn till dusk. Only wild camping will allow me to do this. Staying in hotels would limit the distances I can cover in a day. I like to have the flexibility of shortening or lengthening a hiking day.


There are also people who do fasted hiking. And as I am not at my thinnest at the moment, I know I have a few extra pounds of fat I can utilize and therefore I will not be concerned about food during the hike. I will still buy food whenever I have chance along the trail, but I will not intentionally take detours to buy food. I plan on eating mostly nuts (from the store) and fruit (along the way). And my walking speed will most likely not be super ambitious. The goal is awareness in the present moment, as mentioned. But as I know myself, I enjoy pushing through steep inclines and exert myself physically. And as I want to have the power to do this, I will eat according to my energy levels.

This may sound extreme as well in the light of vacations which are usually done with the intend of maximizing immediate pleasure. But for me this is more pleasurable than any solo meditation retreat, which I would do instead. And the overall goal here is not pleasure but increasing my awareness and walking the spiritual path.

Start With A Few Sensations

In case you have not tried walking meditation, I recommend you just try it out. Take a couple of hours where you can walk in nature exclusively and concentrate fully on all the sensations during walking. It takes practice to really surrender and until you can see the beauty of it. It also prepares you for daily life, more than formal sitting meditation does. At first, adjust this practice to what feels comfortable. Pick a few sensations and concentrate on those. Add sensation after sensation and focus on them at the same time. Let this crack open your awareness until your mind fully surrenders to whatever arises.

I will post updates after my tour on how it went and what I discovered.

Dream Yoga Practice - Two weeks of practicing awareness of the senses

Two weeks ago I started the practice of all day awareness again more seriously. I have been doing this practice before as well, but loosing track of it again and again. Basically starting all over again each time. But this time I have been practicing it almost continuously in my waking time for two weeks. And going this hardcore and committing to it fully has resulted in some noticeable changes in my perception.
In this post I will explain to you, what I did exactly and what the results have been.

How aware are other beings? - To me it looks like some deep thinking is going on here

When I first started out with the practice of all day awareness a few years ago, I focused on a maximum of three sensations at once. Quickly this became an easy task to do. So my mind started running awareness of the senses on auto pilot. And this time here I already noticed a difference. This time, for two weeks I committed fully to it and tried to make it as difficult as my mind could handle. Because the lesson #1 of the dream yoga guide on dreamviews suggested you can hold many more object in conscious awareness at once than only three. So I just tried to be fully present with as much sensory input as possible. This caused me to have a remarkable insight. I already knew from teachings that awareness is not the same as experience. But I did not know how to understand this.

When I tried to focus on as many sensory impressions in parallel as possible, my mind was struggling so hard to divide the limited awareness on the different sensory streams, that it gave up and separated awareness from experience. In other words, I could feel my awareness hovering above the sensory input. And know it is easier for me to tap into this awareness. Before this insight, I could concentrate my awareness on only one particular sensation (the breath for example). And it felt like this sensory experience was needed to stay aware. But awareness is different. You can automate to concentrate on the breath with little awareness. But becoming aware of everything you experience is so incredibly complex and overwhelming, that is not possible with concentration. For that to happen you need to concentrate on awareness itself and let all experience flow through it without conscious interaction.
Basically those intense two weeks of staying present of the senses showed me that awareness is not the same as experiences. Awareness is also not the thoughts that occur. But we identify usually so much with our thoughts that we think that is what we are. But at the core awareness is something different. I am thrilled to explore it further.

From here on I will definitely continue and intensify this practice. It is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. I will also train my ability to become conscious of awareness itself. This is still difficult for me. And when I need to be particularly focused, it is more difficult for me to feel awareness.

My feeling is that whenever this practice does not yield the results, you hope for, than you need to intensify it. There are always more sensory input you can become consciously aware of at the same time. Just becoming fully aware of all that you feel with your body is more than enough for month of serious practice. Add to that all the sounds at a busy place or of a multi-layered song and you have enough for a good year of practice.

Secondly to the feeling of having a separated awareness, this practice improved my regular meditation. Coming out of meditation and going into, already as much aware as you can, will lead to increased results. Before it was my habit to feel relieve when the time of meditation was over and drop down to a lower degree of awareness going about my day. But keeping the meditation (awareness) up as much as possible all of the time, will make results come much faster. This practice is at the same time rewarding because it brings the good feeling of being in the moment to every day experiences. I will give you an example: Yesterday I was sitting on the train and waiting at the train stations for a total time of 6 hours. Usually this would have bothered me (to say the least, as I do not like travelling that much). But the act of concentrating on every little sensation and not allowing myself to slip out of the present moment for very long resulted in a super clam and euphoric state. At end of the trip I existed the train and walked a few hundred meters to my apartment. On this walk I almost had to cry because of the beauty I experienced. Being super aware of my body (every normal sensation already felt incredible), the wind on my skin was blending in so beautifully with all the other sensations, it was a great.

And as I just started out with this practice, I can only imagine where this practice can lead to in terms of becoming more present. At first is counter intuitive and will require much conscious effort. But think about, how your life (if you are like me) your education has pushed you out of being and into analyzing, planning, focusing, thinking and operating. Your whole life you are spending in the future or the past. And you might think this is an exaggeration. But take some powerful psychedelics and find yourself catapulted into the raw present moment without a conception of future our past and you will appreciate how little you actually are in the present moment. And with this practice you can feel your way back in the present moment. I would guess it is a long way, but so are all other spiritual practices.

For my part, I can say this is the greatest practice I have come about so far in terms of practicality and enjoyment. I struggle with formal meditation for more than one hour in my regular schedule. But this practice I can do almost always. I find it the most difficult in conversations with other people. There I reduce it down to one sensation, to make sure I can also follow the content of the conversation. But this I have found improves my listening skills. I can fully listen, because I become instantly aware whenever I put my own thoughts on top of what is being said.
On the other hand this practice becomes more challenging during work, which requires being focused. But even then I sometimes find that I have unused mental capacity to keep some awareness of the present moment. Usually if my mind is let loose, then even during mental work, I tend to start day-dreaming unconsciously on the side.
I highly recommend this practice of awareness of the senses in addition to other spiritual practices. For lucid dreaming this practices has yielded mixed results. I cannot say for sure if it has increased my number of lucid dreams. But this is also not my main goal with this practice for the moment. In the lucid dreams I did have, I was satisfied with the stability though. 

Leading guidelines for an optimal diet

How do you define an optimal diet? A diet that increases well-being and longevity. Are there objectively measureable nutrients which you should look out for? Calories, Micro-nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants etc. are all things we can measure today in a food. But there are big differences between what we can measure in the lab and what ultimately happens in the human body.

Dark and intense colors are an indicator of antioxidants

I recommend to trust our senses in choosing between different options of natural food sources. It is best to go for the vegetables with the brightest and most intense colors, the most complex flavors and the greatest aromas. Going this route will lead us away from animal foods and towards a variety of wild plant foods. Wild edible greens, flowers, fruits and berries provide the greatest amount of beneficial micronutrients. Our domesticated vegetables on the other hand maximize calories and weight over flavor and nutrition. Because that is what you usually pay for at the grocery store.
So the best solution would be in my opinion to collect most of your green vegetables and salads directly in nature and add in more calorically dense foods like nuts, seeds and root vegetables from the store. Get yourself a comprehensive guidebook which you can take with you when you go out collecting edible plants. I can recommend this one in german language.

One of my favorite meals is the following green super-food smoothie:

  • Wild edible greens               100-300g
  • Frozen spinach                     100gr
  • Spirulina                               10gr
  • Wheatgrass powder              10gr
  • Cacao powder                      5gr
  • Flaxseeds                             10gr
  • Nuts or seeds                        20gr
  • Banana                                 100gr
  • Dates                                    15gr
  • Stevia                                   1 tablet or drop
  •  Lemon (with peel!)              1 slice
  • Ginger                                  10gr
  • Beet juice                             100ml

I recommend blending the greens first, with as little water as possible. Later add the powders, flaxseeds and fruits and blend a second time. (In a high speed blend I blend for 30 seconds twice.) That way you are not left with any big chunks of the tougher leaves.
In this way you will maximize your nutrition while reducing your grocery bill. Because if you wanted to buy the same amount of nutrition from the store you would have to buy much larger quantities of the vegetables that usually sells there. But you can also find exceptions like kale, red cabbage, some broccoli-types and spinach.
You can also start to grow your own highly flavorful vegetables. Try out some different herbs in the smoothies or salads and you will discover that they greatly increase the variety of flavors.
If you want dive deeper into the topic of optimal nutrition for longevity, I recommend the book “How not to die”. There you will find the scientific background on which to decide what food are healthy and nutritious and which are not. I would like to point out though that these studies usually focused on foods that are available at grocery stores. So you will not find many nutritional studies on wild edible plants in that book as well. But I guess it is save to estimate that many wild plants have similar nutritional density to the commonly consumed herbs like rosemary, oregano, marjoram, peppermint or berries like goji, acai and amla. As these foods have the highest concentration of antioxidants, we can assume that highly flavorful wild plants have similar properties.

Why strive for such a diet?
Increasing the nutritional density of your diet will make you feel energized and all around better. Your mental and physical capabilities are certain to increase. As a reader of this blog I guess you are interested in achieving higher spiritual and personal goals, you are generally interested in learning and improving your life. This is a great challenge besides the daily hassles and duties you likely have to fulfill. Therefore it is wise to fuel your mind and body only with the greatest fuel available.

Only then can you truly maximize your potential. You will feel the effects on your mood - you are able to treat the people around you in a nicer, calmer and more understanding way. That’s when you can really appreciate and see the effects of a highly nutritious diet. You can design a diet that is so off the chart amazing and nutritious that you will feel so alive it is incomparable to any standard modern diet. Once you have experienced the effects of such excellent nutrition, there will be no chance you want to go back to eating processed food. It will instantly increase your capacity to practice things like all day awareness, mindfulness, meditation and concentration. Eating becomes one more aspect of your life where you act with full presence and mindfulness. While eating the most nutritious and flavorful foods it is impossible not so savor and mindfully appreciate every bite. Your taste preferences will change within the first two weeks and afterwards you will like natural levels of sweetness and bitter tastes.

Our modern health challenges show us clearly three things. We are not adapted to calorically dense food because we can become overweight, which has health consequences. We develop inflammatory diseases, which develop because of a nutrient and antioxidant poor diet. And lastly we are not adapted to properly judge our caloric requirements in a sedentary environment. We were used to get a lot more daily exercise.

Two ratios are out of balance:

  • caloric intake and caloric expenditure
  • micro-nutrient intake to micro-nutrient requirement

What role do animal product play in a diet focused on high nutrient density

The most basic problem with animal products in that scenario is the relatively low concentration of secondary micro-nutrients and especially antioxidants in combination with a high concentration of calories and protein. Those circumstances make it really difficult to argue for the inclusion of animal foods. To the contrary certain amino-acid (like Methionine and Leucine) and fatty acids and cholesterol are likely to have negative health implications. The opinions, whether such nutrients are good or bad for our health, diverge. So it would be saver to eat the foods where there is no such consensus among scientists. And those are antioxidant rich plant foods. There is no consensus about whether such foods are healthy or not. The more antioxidants a natural food contains the better it is for our health in general. This goes even so far that a variety of plant foods are so rich in antioxidants that they have historically been used as medicine. An example is the indian gooseberry called amla. It is most antioxidant rich plant food discovered so far and has a long history of medicinal use for a great variety of ailments.

Animal foods can certainly have a place in a healthy diet. But in a very limited quantity and they must come from the cleanest sources. Because toxins accumulate upwards throughout the food-chain.

Can cheese be healthy?

After experimenting with many different diets and eating patterns, I have found my most favorite diet. I feel best, when I eat one meal in the evening, consisting of a raw salad, followed by steamed vegetables and most of my calories coming from nuts. I make the salad-dressing out of blended nuts and use nut-butter as a dip for the steamed veggies. Every day I also sprinkle about 20-30grams of ground flaxseed over my food. That way, I end up with about 50-80gr of carbs which are very slow digesting and therefore my insulin levels should be very low for most of the time.

But in the past I have also encountered one problem with this diet. I lose too much weight. Insulin levels might be so low all of the time, that it just does not allow for major muscle growth. In general intermittent fasting, caloric restriction and a plant-based diet all reduce circulating IGF-1 levels. In general this is good if you want to increase longevity. But on the other-hand too low levels of IGF-1 might cause slowed tissue-repair and reduces muscle-mass. This goes hand in hand with my experience: Sometimes I have sour muscles after a workout for up to a week. This is definitely not what good recovery looks like.

Why dairy and no other animal products?

So my idea is to include dairy (I will start with goat and sheep milk) into my diet. Dairy is well known to cause an insulin spike even without carbohydrates. The proteins in milk are the cause for this and also have an impact on IGF-1 levels as they are high in leucine. I choose to include dairy over eggs because milk is comparatively low in carnitine and choline. Those two amino-acids are problematic because the gut microbiome and then the liver will convert them into a carcinogen called TMAO. Recent research has shown that this substance might in fact be the reason why animal products can cause cancer and heart disease and not the saturated fat or cholesterol content. Therefore eggs and meat are problematic. Dairy on the other hand does contain very low levels of both amino-acids. Cheese contains 15mg of choline per 100grams, whereas 100grams of fresh egg already has 251mg of choline. The level of choline in eggs is 30 times higher than in cheese when compared on a caloric basis.

For the purpose of including a calorically dense food that increases insulin and IGF-1 without carbohydrates, I will choose goat-milk in the form of well-fermented cheese for the beginning. In my opinion this is the least likely to cause allergic or otherwise negative reactions for two reasons. Firstly goat milk is less allergenic than milk from cows containing a certain type of casein.

Goat-milk from grass-fed free-range sources is the most ethical animal product?

For many years I have spent my summer-holidays hiking in the mountains of Switzerland. There you will see large areas of forest-free pasture where many goats, sheep and cows are grazing. The areas are oftentimes too high or too steep for any other agriculture to be possible. The only way to produce any form of food from these areas is to use them as pasture-land for animals and use their products. I have seen the cows and goats go to the milking stations on their own without any stress or resistance at all. Many newborns are among the animals and you can observe that only the additional milk is taken for human consumption. This resembles the ideal of animal treatment and how to obtain milk. So by buying free-range milk from that area I am sure it is produced in that way.

Efficient metabolism of cheese when on a high fat low carb diet

The high fat content and absence of carbohydrates in cheese fits well into my dietary regiment. On a high carbohydrate diet the inclusion of animal fats might be problematic. So the common combination of bread and cheese is likely to be suboptimal for health. A high fat intake is known to suppress insulin sensitivity. That means the same amount of carbohydrates requires a larger amount of insulin to enter the cells. With a (very) low carbohydrate intake this is not a problem, as there is little glucose which needs to enter the cells. Secondly the high saturated fat content of milk is good addition to the mono- and poly-unsaturated fat I am mainly getting from nuts and seeds. This keeps the overall level of omega-6 fats lower and in a desirable range.

First benefit of cheese consumption

After the first two days of incorporating cheese into my diet, I observed the first benefit of doing so. On a low carb diet, I am still struggling with muscle twitches. I have them whenever I eat less than about 70-100gr. of carbohydrates per day. But after the meals that included some goat-cheese, I observed a decrease in this phenomenon. I usually have the twitches all over my body. My theory is that it is caused by low insulin levels. Without insulin some nutrients cannot enter the cell so readily and maybe my muscles lack magnesium. Dairy-protein is known to cause an insulin-release, which might just be what I need, when I eat my one meal a day after fasting for about 23 hours. I guess there must be a balance in hormones over the course of the day. It is good to have low insulin most of the time, but while eating there should also be a spike in insulin so that the nutrients can enter the cells. And with a plant-based low carb diet, the insulin-release might just not be sufficient to absorb all the nutrients in only one meal. Therefore I will continue to observe the effects of dairy on this regimen. Should the muscle twitches not get better over time (after inner-cellular magnesium levels had the chance to increase) I will switch to a higher carb content of the one meal coming from fast acting sources like white rice.
But so far I want to stick with the high fat diet, because it seems like starches aggravate my scalp psoriasis.

Results: Two weeks of including cheese in my diet

I can certainly say that my body has adjusted to eating certain kind of cheeses and also the aged cows milk cheeses. I could observe that it caused me no problem at all. But an experiment with eating yogurt did result in some digestive issues. I would guess that store-bought yogurts are not thoroughly fermented.  Sudden changes in my carbohydrate level will still results in those mysterious muscle twitches. Whenever I have days where I eat only nuts, seeds, a little cheese and vegetables, they will come back. I have found that I need at least 70-100 grams of net carbs per day to prevent those twitches. In the beginning the cheese seemed to stop the twitching, but I would guess that this came from the higher protein content which my body converted partially into glucose. With a low protein intake of around 50-70gr per day, I need more carbohydrates to compensate. If I add up those numbers, I am still eating a high fat diet. Compared to other low carbohydrate dieters, who consume a lot more protein, my combined protein and carb intake is on a similar level. It is common for ketogenic or low-carb dieters to consume more than 100gr of protein per day and up to 50gr of carbohydrates. So total calories coming from non fat sources are similar in both diets. But I choose to limit protein consumption because it has been shown to increase longevity in a number of animal studies.


By choosing the cheeses which are aged, high in fat and lower in protein, milk can be a healthy addition to a low carbohydrate diet. To limit methionine intake, protein derived from milk must be limited. Total protein intake must also be limited to about 1g/kg bodyweight per day. I personally did not observe any negative health outcomes after almost a month of including cheeses into my diet. By including a generous amount of vegetables and fiber in the diet, any concerns regarding rising cholesterol should be countered. Certain types of mold-cheeses have also been shown to have positive health effects. I even feel that cheese can be particularly healthy for individuals consuming a low protein, low calorie vegan diet. Because this might cause very low IGF-levels long term and leads so slower regeneration after workouts and injuries. Dairy protein is known to raise IGF-levels. And this is the reason why it should be limited and not combined with a high protein, high carbohydrate and high calorie diet. 

OMAD As A Strategy For Personal Development

There are many health reasons for eating one meal a day, but the greatest benefit is indeed on a mental level. By eating one meal a day for extended periods and even making it a life-long practice is like putting up a fence against once desires. It teaches you to control impulses and derive joy and benefits from doing so.
Mountains are a challenge too
Eating one meal a day is a habit that increase self-awareness

This teaches you the incredibly valuable lesson of how to be in the driver seat of you mind and body. It increases the degree of control you have over your life. If you follow this practice for some time you will recognize how the effects can be felt well beyond the area of food and eating. In my experience this diet alters the way you think and your motivation-pathways. You will develop a state of mind in which you are more likely to resist immediate gratifications and instead look for long-term benefits. It is well knows that this will lead to a happier, healthier and probably richer life. In fact when it comes down to the financial aspect of delayed-gratification, the effects become measurable. Only by saving money (delaying consumption) are you able to benefit from interest, compound interest and future capital gains of investments.

Song of the article:

The inner state of mind is an area where the outcomes of delayed gratification cannot be measured as easily. This is a very personal and individual development that takes place gradually. Being able to stay in a mental place of peace and general well-being without having to search for the next “high” or stimulation from the outside world makes you resilient to circumstances you cannot control. Whole philosophies developed around the idea that the main way to attain a state of lasting happiness is based around working on and molding ones inner mental space.

Stoicism developed in ancient Greece. More recently the movement of minimalism has picked up some ideas of stoicism. But minimalism is mainly focused on external influences. The core idea of minimalism is to attain freedom and happiness through the reduction of possessions. But it fails to deliver the mental concept and attitude required to detach happiness from outer circumstances in general. Many minimalist end up chasing outer experiences, which do not require the possession of physical objects. Excessive travelling and adventuring are common activities that minimalists engage. In that state they are attached to a system that enables them to engage in such a (environmentally) destructive activity. The activity is needed to get the next “high” in the form of new places, cultures and experiences. On a mental level this is the same motivational pathway than people who live the “consumer-lifestyle”, acquiring and changing possessions on a regular basis.

With the OMAD diet, one can take a first step into the direction of detaching from outer satisfaction. The next step could be to learn about the original ideas of stoicism and following such path. With a stoic mind, possessions and outer experience actually become enjoyable. The mind is not attached to them and does not need them to be happy. But they can be used and enjoyed from a standpoint where you are free to actually choose to partake in them or not. Similar to someone who does not regularly drinks coffee. He can choose take it occasionally for a boost in energy, but does not need it to function on a daily basis. He enjoys a boost in energy from coffee and the stoic enjoys a boost in happiness. The addict on the other hand does not experience such feelings and in turn needs the substance to feel normal.

For most people, switching to one meal per day is a difficult change. The adaptation process will reveal certain challenging aspects of ones psyche. But for a person interested in personal development, this is a good thing. It presents an opportunity of mental growth which we usually suppress by keeping busy and cover up by overindulgence in food and other highly pleasurable but also addictive behaviors. We tend to keep busy for long periods of time (work) and then fill the rest of our time with as much pleasure as possible (consumption). So OMAD actually presents the opportunity for much needed idle time. Such times allow us to reflect and develop a broader perspective of life. Introspection falls way short in today’s environment where distraction and entertainment is available for every little bit of free time. Smartphones, TV, Gaming, Food, Sex, Cinemas, Travel, … There is an activity for every length of free time. We do not even have to think for a minute anymore for ourselves and come up with our own purpose.

A certain degree of boredom and true idle time is necessary for creative thoughts. We can never really tap into that anymore. The free time gained from only eating once per day is a powerful tool for transformation in several ways. By facing ones desire for food without giving in to them, one can see into the nature of desires. Observing how it behaves and where it arises. These are interesting insights that can only be gained through careful introspection. As these are individual insights, reading or hearing them might not necessarily teach you much which you can apply for your own life. But spending a few weeks or month eating only one meal a day will bring you some insights if combined with careful introspection into the difficulties you will face.

So let the transformation be a spiritual one as much as it will be a physical transformation for the body.