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About clararockmore

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  1. It's part of the ego to believe that human consciousness is superior. Especially considering our fundamental inability to know what it's like to exist within the perspective of another being. See Thomas Nagel's "What is it Like to be a Bat?" One dimension in which this idea is interesting to consider is the dimension of time. We take for granted that our perception of time, the speed at which it passes and the speed at which we move, is just "the normal way to perceive time." But for plants that take years to grow, or for insects that move fast and die after a day, time is very different. Plants MOVE, but more slowly than we do. And it's pretty damn self-centered to assume they don't have a conscious experience. Some evolutionary biologists have been able to use the framework of evolutionary theory to speculate about the conscious experiences of other beings. This is mostly by describing MOTIVATIONS, typically related to survival. So, for example, weeds choke the other plants in your garden because they "want" to live. Flowers "want" to be pollinated and "behave" in a manner that is more attractive to bees. I like to think every being has a purpose, a motivation, and a unique conscious experience. Perhaps even rocks, water, planets, etc. The only reason we think trees must have no consciousness, or a boring limited consciousness, is because we are able to move, think, build things, etc. Perhaps the trees think we are foolish and wonder why anyone would want to be a human.
  2. From a neuroscience point of view, the reason why it's often more difficult for older people to learn new things is that the brain naturally becomes less "plastic" as we age. By the age of 25, a lot of very strong neural pathways (which are the architecture of habits and beliefs) have been forged, and it requires more effort each year to learn new things or change your life. Psychedelics have been shown (so far as I've kept up with the literature) to utilize different pathways of connectivity in your brain. When you take them, parts of your brain that weren't communicating before are suddenly connected, and other parts take all sorts of different "scenic routes" to reach one another. This can make you feel like a child again. Typically, your brain just decides not to worry about seeing things in new ways, because it's already figured out a way to see most things. But when you take psychedelics, it's common for you to find novelty in everyday things, and reevaluate parts of your life in huge ways. This is a blessing. Many of your peers continue to stay stuck in their same paths--hell, many people younger than you have already committed themselves to being stuck to their paths. Although there are physical changes that take place in your brain and your body as you age, you're never too old to change your mind or your path. You will figure it out with time. Good luck!
  3. I'm sorry you're feeling so frustrated right now. But first of all, always remember that things aren't as black-and-white as being the "right kind of person to ace life" or not. Most people struggle in one way or another, and while it's not easy to really grasp when you're feeling shitty, you most likely have plenty of great qualities that are advantageous. It seems like there are two things you brought up: the practical issues of being able to stick to habits and be organized, and then also the way it makes you feel when you're struggling with these things. I think sometimes creating small "wins" can help boost your mood and help you recognize that you are TOTALLY capable of so many things. First of all, throw any mindsets of "success vs. failure" out the window. It's not one or the other, and if you feel like every mistake is a failure, it makes it hard to try again and can create a tailspin mindset of "I just suck and I'm going to suck forever" (been there). Recognize that learning new things takes practice, and mistakes are all part of the process. Try to be curious rather than judgmental, if that helps. From a practical standpoint, a lot of managing attention issues requires FORCING EXTERNAL STRUCTURE onto yourself. And that often means utilizing a lot of organizational tools and strategizing about what could help support your habits. I am also undiagnosed but likely somewhere outside the normal range of attention abilities, and I used to be SO disorganized, could never remember dates, was constantly late for everything, and procrastinated about everything. This was somehow fine for me through my undergraduate career, but once I started working as an adult, and again in grad school, it felt like I couldn't manage ANYTHING. Getting FOLDERS to put papers in was like, the first step (I used to just put all the papers I received directly into my bag, resulting in a crumpled, jumbled mess). Getting a watch meant I could ALWAYS know what time it was (and using timers helped me understand how long tasks ACTUALLY take, making me late less often). Getting a planner meant I could actually visualize my time and I no longer HAD to remember dates. Making lists is crucial. I learned if something isn't written down, it might as well not exist because it's not likely to stay in my working brain space for long. Try to diagnose what makes it hard for you to do certain things. I find it hard to exercise sometimes, but I realized the hardest part is literally getting into athletic clothes and going to the location where I want to exercise. If I lay out my exercise clothes the night before and sleep naked, I am forced to put on athletic clothes as soon as I wake up... and then... well, it's just easier to go from there. Maybe you'll realize there are certain times when you need to create an external situation, or utilize a tool, in order to work with your own natural tendencies to achieve your goals. And also you will likely try things and find out they don't work, and then try something else. The key is not to judge yourself or get upset along the way while you're figuring it out. Start by making a list of the habits you would like to change. And then try to identify what holds you back, and how to address it. Also, don't try changing them all at once that's so tempting to do but it's a one-way ticket to a burnout meltdown, in my experience.
  4. I find that dreams can offer clues to me about my subconscious states--feelings, fears, situations in my life that bother me, etc. But they're usually not explicit. For example, I used to (and still occasionally do) have dreams in which I was in a car by myself, ostensibly driving it, but I was always in the backseat for some reason. I came to notice I had those types of dreams more often when it felt like I wasn't in control of my own life, or I was letting other people make decisions for me. Similarly, I have recurring dreams in which I'm moving through spaces and come to a point where my path is extremely narrow. Claustrophobic. So tight I can barely squeeze through. These tend to happen when I feel like some situation in my life is a hard problem to solve, making me feel anxious. The most important thing is the FEELING you have during the dream. I've had dreams in which the content could be seen as "bad" but the emotions I felt were actually good. I've dreamed I died before and yet it was a peaceful experience--possibly having more to do with the death of a version of myself, or the death of a habit, or letting go of something else. It's often SUPER hard to remember dreams if you don't write them down soon after waking, though. I don't do it often these days, but it's honestly a great self-reflective practice to think about what your dreams may represent. Some of my most vivid ones only made sense in hindsight. Now, a whole 'nother topic is LUCID DREAMING, which is so FUN to cultivate, if you're into being that goal-oriented about your dreaming life
  5. Nothing is real! My ego identity and body isn't real! You're not real! We're all an illusion, the world is an illusion, and science is an illusion. It's a trick that I, as God, have played on myself to believe that all of this is real, but in actuality I am only ever interacting with myself. You are me, I am you, and everything I ever experience during this perceived "lifetime" is all just an imaginary show I've made for myself. All the other people are just me--and the animals, plants, inanimate objects, too. And the "me" that I'm talking about isn't even ME, as an individual ego, but all egos. And that individual ego, which I inhabit and from which I currently speak, is certainly no more important or powerful than any of the other manifestations of consciousness, i.e., literally everything. All of this is Truth. But what do you DO with that information? The plain fact is that for as long as I experience this "lifetime," I am essentially confined to this viewpoint and this ego. I may experience moments of transcendence via psychedelics, meditation, or other mystical experiences, but I am not naive enough to think that there is a point at which I, working within my individual ego perspective, will ever be the catalyst for making ALL of consciousness transcend itself and return to oneness. Nor do I believe that should be the goal of my life or my spiritual journey. In all honesty, I believe the universe is ALWAYS at the same time in a state of total oneness and total fracture. So it's already total oneness. There's nothing for me TO DO, really. Everything is already perfect, and I continue as God to create and destroy the oneness perpetually, as I do. But then, what to do with my "lifetime"? I find great pleasure in PLAYING. This is all a game that I play inside my ego perspective, sometimes with moments that seem very real and very frightening--especially injuries, poverty, and other crises. But when I can see outside that perspective, it's SO MUCH FUN to play. It's my own lucid dream playground to do with whatever I wish. And I have an affinity for seeking knowledge--it's one of the most satisfying games I've found! Science is a game too, and it's not real, and I made it all up, and I'll continue to do so. But I love to teach myself, to talk to myself, to explain things to myself, to inspire the limited "ego perspective" that I've inhabited and make her feel dazzled by new levels of understanding. And then I smash them all to bits again, and laugh in my own face because I know nothing. This is what I call pure joy!
  6. One time on acid I wrote a song about a ghost. No melody, though, just words. Another time on acid, I held my guitar and cried because I realized that the limitation of what sounds my guitar could make lay with ME, not with the guitar. I felt it was an instrument suited and designed to be played skillfully, and I knew that in the hands of someone else, my guitar could reach a fuller potential than in my own. I sat there apologizing to it, saying "I'm sorry I can't do very many cool things to you!" It forgave me. Sometimes when I play my guitar while tripping, it feels like it triggers an emotional release in me. I just start crying. Other times I feel lost in the music I'm playing, like I dissociate from the actions of my hands and go on a visual journey while I listen to myself play.
  7. Love Which is also called consciousness. The simplicity shines, a solid whole! A more interesting question--what is breaking everything apart, or creating the illusion that everything is broken apart and separate?
  8. I haven't checked out those videos yet, so I'm not 100% sure of Leo's basic argument. But I'd imagine it's something along the lines of the earlier chapters of the book The Universe is Virtual. Science is an absolutely fantastic tool (by that I mean the scientific method, and the structures and procedures that accompany it) but it's often treated as more than just a tool. It's treated as the ultimate arbiter of "TRUTH." And lots of people now treat it dogmatically, like a religion that isn't to be questioned. The worst part is that a large portion of the general public is not incredibly scientifically literate or able to parse/evaluate the nuances of papers and studies. Even a practiced scientist can't easily critique a paper from another field of science they're not well-acquainted with. So we just "trust" experts, who say what they say for lots of reasons apart from a genuine wish to express a whole truth to people. It reminds me a lot of when Christian people were illiterate and had to rely on priests or other leaders to tell them what the Bible said, and they had no way of verifying or refuting it. I absolutely believe in science as a useful tool. I'm a researcher and I'm very familiar with the ways to employ the scientific method to answer a question, and it's a very good game to play, with rules that lead to extremely practical results. But it must be always recognized to be simply the best approximation at this time, flawed, carried out by flawed people, reflecting the values and perspectives of the people who practice it (as well as the time period, political climate, etc). It should never be treated as though it's TRUTH, which unfortunately it seems to be seen as by many!
  9. That sounds awesome! I've spent a lot of time this past year learning more about economics (coming from the perspective of someone who is decidedly NOT well-educated about the fundamentals of economics and has always been working-poor social class her whole life ) and it's blown my mind just to conceptualize economic systems in a more abstract way. I've ended up getting into bitcoin as a result of this, and there are a lot of well-educated speakers/writers in that space whom I've listened to, but many of them have very different motives in life than I do. I'd love to read abstract and dense economic ideas coming from someone whose goals might align more with mine. This book sounds like a great avenue for that, so thanks for sharing!!
  10. I have started using audiobooks almost exclusively to consume books. I have an Audible subscription that I managed to get a free trial for a couple of times, but now I front the $14 a month for it, which gives me another free credit each month. Most books cost 1 credit--there are also some free books offered by Audible, but none of them have piqued my interest. I generally compare the price of purchasing the audiobook with cash before I decide to use a credit. If a book costs less than $14, it's not worth it to use a credit. I tend to use my credits on more expensive audiobooks, which makes the subscription worth it. I also check the hour-length of each book and make a judgment call about the value, considering the cost of the book vs. the length of the book, before deciding to purchase or not. However, before I go to Audible, I always check my library's app to see if they're available there. My library system uses Libby, supported by the OverDrive audio system for their audiobooks. I can "check out" any audiobook I want for free using this, which is pretty awesome! The only downside is that the selection can be limited, and sometimes you have to wait for a book that's on hold. For physical books, I usually just sniff out a used copy on Amazon, or in local used bookstores. If I feel it's urgent, sometimes I'll just buy the book anyway--but I almost always already have many books I could read in the meantime Libraries are great too, and many offer inter-library loans if the book is not available at the branch you go to!
  11. I saw that too! The Republic and Sapiens are great to read around the same time. And The Library of Babel is fantastic. Such a good metaphor.
  12. Behave by Robert Sapolsky (Why people act the way they do, drawing upon neuroendocrinology, genetics, evolutionary psych, etc--extremely comprehensive and nuanced!) Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (A fascinating and detailed sketch of how human society came into existence over millennia, including all the things we take for granted such as economies, religions, etc.) Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung (Just so good. Distilled Jung, talking about his life from childhood onward, but describing it all in terms of the mental evolutions he experienced and how those affected his decisions and life's trajectory rather than a straight autobiography) The Republic, The Apology, Symposium, Crito and Meno by Plato (Finally got around to some classics--still apply today, still held my fascination captive the entire time. Meno was especially interesting to me because of its treatment of how knowledge is acquired--learned from inside rather than outside oneself!) NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman (An historical account of the treatment of people with autism, and a new perspective on what autism is and how autistic people are often uniquely suited to do extraordinary things but are limited by society and "pathological" constructs) Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (Two stories side-by-side, vaguely humorous, science fiction-y, generally kind of beautiful) The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I'd never read Dostoyevsky before, but his characters are great. I liked the pacing in which scenes would be very mundane and suddenly explode into huge dramatic moments, and then it would just subside again, usually humorously. However, the ending of this subverted my expectations and made me angry because it was not a satisfying ending for my favorite characters) Collected short fictions of Jorge Luis Borges (The Circular Ruins is my all-time favorite, but I loved all his other stuff!) Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (Sacks' writing is just *chef's kiss* all the time, and in this book he discussed neurological disorders related to music--musical seizures, inabilities to perceive aspects of music, how music can serve as a therapy). Currently reading: Theory of Colors by Goethe, and a Carlos Castaneda trilogy (Teachings of Don Juan, A Separate Reality, Tales of Power)
  13. I'm always torn on this one. I haven't had FB for years. I am barely reachable by text messages (I encourage my friends and family to call me if they want a quick answer or a long conversation--texting is just for making plans!). I insist that nobody put me in a group message and ask to be removed if they do anyway. I have few notifications enabled on my phone. All of this is because I am aware that my attention is an extremely valuable commodity. And it's limited--I can only truly pay quality attention to one thing at a time, so I prefer to give my full attention to one thing at a time. It is a chore to cultivate this, but it's worth it to me. HOWEVER, I still use Instagram and Reddit, and I have mixed feelings about this. I consciously choose to use them when I am interested in seeing what's happening on them. On Instagram, I follow accounts related to my hobbies--fitness, yoga, arts & crafts, music, psychedelics, travel, psychology, fashion, and cooking (as well as some personal accounts of people I like and want to keep in touch with). I'm constantly finding new recipes, new workout routines, new yoga pointers, and new art techniques through instagram. This adds value to my life, and I don't want to stop using it because of this. But often, new recipes require me to purchase new ingredients (and influencers always have % off codes, how convenient!), new art techniques require new art supplies, ads show me clothes that really look like something I'd like. And so, I get pushed towards consumption--I am being manipulated into buying products, just as these platforms intended. And sometimes I find myself spending longer online than I meant to, because I keep getting fed content that interests me. It's not to say that I'm not learning or gaining any value from it, but it IS taking away my attention and time that could be put to better use. I unfollow anyone whose content makes me feel bad in any way--like if they make me envious, or judgmental, or extremely annoyed. It's useful to notice what triggers those feelings and address that, but when I have control over whether or not to inflict them upon myself, I like to exercise it. I also don't post much myself, because my motives for doing so generally don't seem to be all that great. I'd love to believe that I'm posting things because I want to share my experiences with others, but in reality, I'm broadcasting them to a LOT of people instead of individually sharing them. I realize that I often have an underlying feeling of wanting to brag or show off, or cultivate a certain image/persona, rather than genuinely to connect. It feels gross and I don't do it very often, now. But I wonder if this cuts me off from some opportunities for meaningful connection. In short, this is a really complex question, and I feel like everyone should be trying to make conscious choices about how they interact with social media and technology in general. It's so weird to me so many people seem to openly talk about knowing how bad it is, but then continue using it the same way anyways. Someone else on this thread compared it to smoking--it reminds me of my smoker friends who say "I know this is bad, I shouldn't do this," while they're lighting a cigarette. Addiction is an accurate characterization.
  14. In my opinion, self-deception is a tricky thing to overcome because, by its very nature, it TRIES to avoid detection. If you're lying to yourself but you KNOW you're lying to yourself, that's not a very effective lie, now is it? You're lying to yourself constantly, and quite effectively, about lots of things that you're not consciously aware of (Hey, so am I!). Before you can change your behaviors, or even truly grasp and untangle all the ways a lie has polluted your way of seeing or interacting with the world, you must become aware of its very existence as a lie. "Introspection," as Leo says, is "looking inward." I am more of an auditory person myself, so I often also describe it as "listening to myself." I consider my inner monologue (my "rational thoughts" composed of the language I use inside my head) to be "speaking to myself." On the other hand, there are subconscious feelings and intuitions that become drowned out by those "rational thoughts." Learning to introspect, for me, has been a lot less "talking to myself" and a lot more "listening to myself." If you have a highly analytical mind, as I do, it's possible to "talk yourself into" almost anything. Your rational thoughts can support whatever argument you wish for them to support, regardless of whether they correspond to a true feeling inside of yourself. I've found, personally, that I can detect when I'm lying to myself when there seems to be an incongruence between what I rationally "tell myself"/ consciously speak aloud to believe, and what I feel inside of me. Sometimes this can even manifest in symptoms of physical discomfort--for example, getting a headache when I'm trying to make myself do something I'm "supposed to enjoy", or feeling sick to my stomach when I spend time with someone I supposedly "really love to be around." I think the rational mind is an extremely effective tool for lots of logical activities. But I also think it can become overactive and hinder your introspection if you don't treat your feelings and intuitions with equal regard. It can be helpful to notice an incongruence, and then continue down the path by asking yourself "What is this feeling I have?" or "What situations provoke this feeling?" or "What relieves this feeling?" It can still take a very long time to overcome self-deception but if you are committed to it, you will grow incrementally towards doing so!