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Comment by brigid on Military Rationalities and Irrationalities · 2013-09-12T04:32:07.455Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Removing the less competent officers is obviously a good call, but how does that call get made? How is it different than what is currently being done?

I disagree with the logic that being given stronger incentives will help senior officers win wars. What kind of incentives/disincentives could be offered? Increasing monetary rewards or job promotions could lead to ethical violations, while at the same time not necessarily helping our performance.

Fear of losing their job? I would guess that the most common reason for a senior officer gets kicked out is sexual harassment and/or adultery and/or fraternization. Namely, all the sexual violations. Somehow, knowledge that if they get caught they will get kicked out (or thrown in the brig) has not seemed to affect people's actions very much.

I agree with Yingling's quote, although losing a rifle is almost always your fault; losing a war, however, is a much more complex issue than "I left it outside while I was using the head..."

Comment by brigid on Military Rationalities and Irrationalities · 2013-09-12T04:12:27.460Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"A 70 percent solution now is better than a 100 percent solution later" ~USMC

(You may disagree, depending on your field).

Comment by brigid on Finding interesting communities · 2013-05-30T17:47:46.057Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Such as?

Comment by brigid on Solved Problems Repository · 2013-04-14T16:12:18.959Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As a former Marine, in addition to the difference pointed out by jsteinhardt, the flexed arm hang works your arms only, not your back. Pullups require an overhand grip, whereas the flexed arm hang (and chinup) focus on your biceps.

Comment by brigid on Solved Problems Repository · 2013-04-14T16:08:22.025Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I also advise that between jumping pullups, you return to a faux-deadhang position (even if this requires you to bend your knees to fit under the bar). Again, you will get tired of jumping pretty quickly and then will start to rely on your arms and back.

Comment by brigid on Solved Problems Repository · 2013-04-14T16:06:14.929Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are numerous serious lifting forums on the web that will critique your beginner cleans (for free) out of the goodness their hearts. You just need to film it and upload the video. So do this with lighter weights and see what people say., make the adjustments and ask again. Also, definitely start with cleans--they are a lot safer than snatches and much easier to master.

Comment by brigid on Solved Problems Repository · 2013-04-14T16:01:35.473Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who has been in this situation, pullup negatives have worked for me. I would also add regular jumping pullups, without the negatives. As you do more, your jumping abilities will decrease and youll start to rely more on your arms/back, thus building those muscles. Most gyms also have an assisted pullup machine.

Comment by brigid on Open Thread, October 16-31, 2012 · 2012-10-17T03:15:01.452Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you don't care about walking on ice, get a nice pair of some lined duck boots (Sorbel, LL Bean). Expensive but totally worth it I think.

I recently found out about the disposable hand and foot warmers. Not perfect but they do a decent job for being so inexpensive (around $1-2).

Comment by brigid on LessWrong, can you help me find an article I read a few months ago, I think here? · 2012-10-16T17:12:30.687Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

On a related note, am I the only person who struggles with the search system on Less Wrong? There have been a few times where it takes me unusually long to find the article I am looking for, even if I remember a direct quote or concept from that article and use that in my search.

Is there a way to only search for articles, or only search for comments, or only search for articles written by a specific person? This might help solve my problem.

Comment by brigid on [Link] Reddit, help me find some peace I'm dying young · 2012-08-18T18:49:55.760Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Is it possible that she could suggest to the Cryonics Institute that they could set up an account in her name and we could donate directly to that account, cutting out the middleman but still directly contributing to this girl?

Also, I think that if it was a scam choosing cryonics is probably a bad choice since plenty of people even in an atheist forum seem to be against it, and thus its not as likely to generate as much sympathy. I think she could have said "I want to go on a safari in Africa" or some sort of trip that is moderately expensive (just like the skydiving comments claim) and received more funding.

Comment by brigid on Politics Discussion Thread August 2012 · 2012-08-05T20:37:45.732Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. :)

Comment by brigid on Politics Discussion Thread August 2012 · 2012-08-05T20:36:49.366Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's a great point that I didn't consider.

Comment by brigid on Politics Discussion Thread August 2012 · 2012-08-02T00:41:17.175Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

While Planned Parenthood clearly could be biased, they state (noteably without a reference) that " Women typically pay between $15 and $50 a month in co-pays for birth control pills — $180 to $600 a year." Even $180 is pretty expensive.

They also claim that " More than one-third of all women voters have struggled to pay for prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and have as a result used birth control inconsistently."

Finally, "On average, a woman spends 30 years of her life trying to avoid pregnancy. That means 30 years of paying for birth control."

Comment by brigid on Politics Discussion Thread August 2012 · 2012-08-01T22:56:33.368Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

People who are pro-life in the abortion debate should also be pro- free birth control pills (those not requiring a co-pay).

If pro-lifers were more pragmatic, they would rank the issues that they care about from least-bad to worst. Most would agree that abortion is worse than pre-marital sex. Therefore, they should support efforts to eliminate the need for abortions (not just seek to eliminate the ability to have an abortion). As access to birth control reduces the likelihood of the need to have an abortion, free birth control pills would reduce the overall number of abortions, thus supporting the pro-life stance.

Also, if you agree with the analysis done by Steven Levitt in the book Freakonomics (availability of abortion services led to a drastic decrease in crime), by the same logic, free birth control should lead to a decrease in the crime rate as well.

The catch: That pro-lifers have to believe that they will not be able to get everything that they want politically, and must prioritize their goals.

Comment by brigid on Advice please: Cognitive distortion preventing me from accomplishing anything · 2012-08-01T02:11:39.766Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would make a list of specific fears; even though you said your fears were general, I'd bet that you probably have some fears that pop into your head. For example, list of all the fears you have about applying for a job. Then, if you have a close friend or family member, show them the list and ask them to evaluate the fears for you. That might help you to identify the unlikelyhood of something terrible happening; their advice might help you realize that a lot of your fears are unfounded or highly unlikely. And it might help you to figure out which fears wouldn't really be that bad if they happened to you; for example, while a car accident would be bad, people gossiping about you is not nearly quite so.

Finally, maybe make a pro list (since you already identified the cons) of the good things that can happen if you go out into the world. You could compare the lists and decide if the stuff you can do if you overcome your fears outweighs how you feel now.

You don't have to overcome all your fears at once, just make one slow babystep each day. The more times you make a small change, the greater your likelyhood of realizing that your fears are all in your head. So, think of something you really want to do (go to the beach? drive a car? attend a LessWrong event?), and start there to gain some momentum and have some positive experiences that you can't have if you don't get out in the world.

Then, you can approach something that is mroe challenging but could be extremely beneficial in your life (getting a job) with the confidence you gained from the positive experiences. Also, I am certain there are free mental health services available. I would look up your state's Department of Human Services and see what they have to offer. That could help you get some control over your anxiety and fear.

Comment by brigid on Why space stopped captivating minds ? · 2012-07-30T18:32:10.872Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This reminds me of an episode of The West Wing, where President Bartlett is inspired by Kennedy’s To the Moon speech, and decides that he wants to make a similar dramatic statement. In his case, it was to have a cure cancer in ten years. In my mind, curing cancer is similar, in intent at least, to universal healthcare—essentially, using medicine to help more people live longer, healthier lives. However, I think that curing a disease a disease or providing everyone with basic healthcare, while extremely beneficial to society, is not quite as inspirational as it was to send someone to the moon in the 1960s.

While I wasn’t alive then, I think it would be the equivalent of a president saying “we will be able to cure death in 10 years!” or “we will be able to send humans to another solar system in ten years!” Those are both dramatic visions that people think are either impossible or will occur in the distant future. And having the president say that they are achievable makes people believe that it is so.

Comment by brigid on Leaps of faith in college selection · 2012-07-25T23:48:17.964Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As much as you don't think school size matters, from personal experience, it can matter a lot. As you are interested in the sciences, I would recommend not attending one of the smaller colleges, even if they are top ranked (Haverford, Swarthmore, Amherst etc). If you look at their course curriculum, they don't have the number of students or resources to have a wide variety of upper level courses.

A larger research university, while it might have lower admissions standards, would have a much more diverse set of classes to choose from and more research opportunities. I went to a large research university and did not have any problem getting paid (10$/hour) to work as a research assistant in the physics department, the chemistry department, and the ceramic engineering department (I was un-focused at the time). I definitely recommend taking the time to look at the department course offerings for each school you are thinking of applying to. Don't just look at the course catalog because that just lists all the possible courses available. Most departments post all the courses they are offering each semester, so view those to see what is actually being offered.

What do you plan to do with a biology major? PhD? Pre-med? If you are interested in pre-med, it would be wiser to go to a school that has that as an actual major if you are certain you want to become a doctor. If you want to go the PhD route, it might be wise to pick a school that encourages you to do a research paper/thesis in your junior or senior year, in addition to working as a research assistant for a couple of years. If you are looking to get a job right after getting your bachelors, certain schools (Drexel is one I can think of off the top of my head) require you to do a full time internship your last year; often the students are hired right out of the internship.

You should care about location as well. If you are an international student, you will likely not have a car available when you arrive. If you attend a school outside of a big city, you will probably need to buy a car and also pay for insurance. So that needs to be factored into your cost.

I also recommend looking into each schools extra curricular activities. Do they have programs you would be interested in joining? For example, are you comfortable attending a school with religious affiliations (Notre Dame, Villanova) or would you feel out of place? Does the school have an active club associated with whatever major you are interested in? Does that department offer lectures on topics you are interested in? Different departments have different focuses; don't assume that just because a school has a certain major it will have the focus you want. For example, if you were interested in politics, but specifically women in politics, it would be helpful to attend a school that has a center for women in politics, versus one that focuses more on international relations, European politics, diplomacy, etc. I don't know enough about biology to make a similar comparison.

Also, is there a program available at the school that would allow you to get your masters in addition to your bachelors in 5 years? That might be an easy way to weed out schools, especially since a masters is quickly becoming a standard for higher levels of employment.

If you don't get a free ride, one of the ways that I used to cut cost is to become a Resident Assistant. Schools typically pay you for your work in free room and a meal plan, which saves at least 10,000 a year, if not more. When that is supplemented with working as a tutor or some other on campus job, especially if you have scholarships of some kind, you can pay off a good chunk of student loans.

All of this is very time consuming of course, but most of the answers can be found somewhere online.

Comment by brigid on Useful maxims · 2012-07-13T21:55:28.486Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is encouraging avoidant behavior, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Given a job you don't want to do at work? See if someone will trade with you; they might not mind it so much. Assigned a task for what you consider a bad reason, like covering someone's a**? Come up with a more productive solution and try to convince your boss. Trying to "get out of something" isn't negative; sometimes it just means convinving others to use common sense or pooling your resources (time, effort) with someone else.

Comment by brigid on Useful maxims · 2012-07-12T05:53:54.509Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

The Marine Corps has two maxims that I find useful in beating akrasia:

-If you can’t get out of it, get into it.

-False motivation is still motivation.

If you have to do something, you might as well find a way to make it fun (even if its a stupid way). Being ridiculously overenthusiastic about whatever it is you don't want to do is often enough to make the activity enjoyable. In the Marine Corps, this usually amounts to Marines yelling silly sounds at the top of their lungs or doing things as fast as they can or in a overly exaggerated manner, but I can attest to the fact that the maxims work well in the my rest of life too.

Comment by brigid on Cultural norms in choice of mate · 2012-07-10T22:32:01.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You are correct in that my number was wrong . I think the percentage of males increased (or females decreased) because 52% was the number that was always thrown around when I was in college (I went to a women's college so yes, it was thrown around quite a lot).

My number was about females in the US, not worldwide.

Comment by brigid on Cultural norms in choice of mate · 2012-07-10T21:56:12.143Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe you could claim that men don't look down on men who date bimbos...But then again as Laurie6 pointed out, theres that pesky other 50.6% of the population that you are in fact including when you say we.

And based on personal experience, many women look down on men who date bimbos just as much they look down on men who date teenagers.

Comment by brigid on What have you recently tried, and failed at? · 2012-07-06T22:24:00.916Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't it also not "hot and sunny" in the evening? Couldn't you run right before sundown, or in the dark with reflectors on streets with lights?

I am just asking because I had the same problem, until I realized that I just liked the idea of working out in the morning, not actually working out in the morning. I wanted to be one of those people who works out at the crack of dawn. By accepting that I am just not one of those people, and working out at lunch and in the evening, I am working out a lot more than when I kept telling myself that "tomorrow I will get up at 5 to workout."

Also, telling yourself you are just going to run for ten or fifteen minutes can get you over the akrasia hump. And running a mile or two is better than none.

Comment by brigid on On the Care and Feeding of Young Rationalists -- Revisited[Draft] [Request for Feedback] · 2012-07-06T21:30:15.965Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The study you quoted only seems to address if signing helped the child learn spoken word labels about certain toys.

The (possible) benefit of signing is that the child can communicate with you about whether they are hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, have a wet diaper, etc.--not about whether the child can name different toys. The study doesn't address whether or not sign language reduces frusteration in children or whether children can learn signs for how they feel faster or slower than they can learn the same spoken words.

Comment by brigid on Learn Power Searching with Google · 2012-07-06T00:00:07.078Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Registered.

Comment by brigid on Minimum viable workout routine · 2012-06-23T06:54:53.534Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that is a great setup for a home gym.

If you can afford it, I would also throw a kettlebell or some "under the door" pullup bars in there.

Or, on a separate note, a foam roller to help with muscle tightness and flexibility. I think its the best piece of athletic equipment I have ever bought. These are amazing and well worth it.

Comment by brigid on Minimum viable workout routine · 2012-06-23T06:28:36.295Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is a reason boxers jump rope.

If you can, I would learn to do double unders...and then do a tabata of double unders. That should be a good workout.

I would consider regular jumping rope it in the same category doing intervals in running/swimming/biking, so that is how I would treat the workouts (at least, until you can do 5 mins without stopping). So while you are learning to do double unders, I would maybe just do 5-6 sets of regular jumping to a certain number so that the last 3 sets are very challenging. One or two sets won't cut it.

Comment by brigid on Minimum viable workout routine · 2012-06-23T04:36:47.934Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From my experience as a female lifter who trains with other females, females do not need to progress more slowly to get long term gains. 5 lb increases per week on a deadlift and every other week on the other exercises is very, very reasonable (possibly too reasonable) in non-skill based moves like these. Even females should be able to experience a few months of lifting heavier each time if they follow the weight increase guidelines here.

However, smaller females (less than 110lbs) or those who have never really worked out might need to start with a lighter bar for rows and the incline bench press. Most gyms have mini-bars with weights permanently attached to the end, usually ranging from 10-80 lbs (how heavy they are should be listed on the side), so look around for those if you don't think you can bench 45 lbs or you don't have a spotter.

While I have never done a trap bar deadlift, I am going to assume its similar to a regular deadlift in terms of weight, but with less pressure on the back. So I would say that deadlifting just the bar (trap or not) shouldn't be a problem even for smaller women.

Comment by brigid on Group rationality diary, 5/21/12 · 2012-05-25T02:42:24.731Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Long post--my apologies.

Background:

I have been trying for a while now to follow the paleo (or caveman) diet. I think the argument for the diet seems legitimate enough (or, I should say, I am not smart enough in those areas to disprove their argument). Additionally, there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence in favor of the diet, especially from people with auto-immune diseases, which I have. So for those two reasons, I have been trying to make it a permanent lifestyle change; what ends up happening is that I struggle through one week and rebound into massive cheating.

The Problem:

The problem that I have run in to—which I think is fairly common—is the diet is extremely difficult to maintain if you work a lot or don’t want to devote the majority of your free time to cooking. It takes a LOT of time to cook all your food from scratch. The paleo diet is: no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, nothing artificially made or with artificial ingredients, no potatoes, no peanuts, and very low added salt.

You are mostly supposed to eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and vegetables, with occasional nuts, fruits, and starchy vegetables like yams. These foods spoil easily, and require a decent amount of time to prepare, especially when you compare them with the typical American diet. So the problems I have run into are (1) it is a difficult lifestyle to maintain due to the time it takes to cook everything (2) the foods perish easily and I am stuck going to the supermarket 2+ times a week.

My Solution:

Change1: Optimize my cooking regimen by standardizing it. I now eat the exact same thing for breakfast and the exact same thing for lunch and dinner every day. At some point I expect this to get boring, but so far the results have been good.

This has the result of: -Food preparation time is shortened. I am no longer trying out new foods or recipes, which is a time waster.
-I purposely eat the same thing for lunch and dinner, thus I only have to cook one meal instead of two. -I cook said lunch and dinner for the next day while I am eating my dinner. -I purposely selected foods which do not require much attention to make, thus I can eat my dinner while I cook the next days food. I have been eating frozen organic stir fry vegetables and chicken cooked in coconut oil. I supplement it with a salad which takes about 1 minute to make if you buy your veggies cut up.

Change 2: After asking a clerk, I found out that all grocery stores (or at least the ones in Hawaii) get a resupply of foods on Tuesdays. So if you buy your foods on Sunday, like I was doing previously, you are getting vegetables and meat which are 5 days older than if you buy foods on Tuesdays. I have started grocery shopping on Tuesdays, which I expect to limit my grocery shopping trips to one time per week.

Change 3: Since food preparation is a time suck, I wash all the fruits and vegetables immediately upon returning from the store. I have not timed it, but it does appear that washing all the produce in one batch is faster than washing it in 7-21 separate batches. I also started packaging snacks in baggies directly after washing them, so I don’t have to spend time each night making snacks for work.

At this point (day 3 of strict diet) no health changes have occurred. Advocates say the health changes take 2-4 weeks to be noticeable.

Comment by brigid on Group rationality diary, 5/21/12 · 2012-05-25T01:53:43.148Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have noticed the same thing about television, in particular with certain programs motivating me to go exercise.

I also noticed, however, that I had to be careful about when I watched TV, because the effect was so strong. Watching The Biggest Loser or youtube Crossfit videos (highly recommended) would get me so excited to workout that it started affecting my bedtime--namely that I wouldn't be able to go to sleep because I was so excited.

I found that I need to watch those programs at least three hours prior to my bedtime in order to be able to fall asleep. The end result is that I now only watch them on weekends or my lunch break.

Comment by brigid on [Book Suggestions] Summer Reading for Younglings. · 2012-05-13T00:39:20.410Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Giver trilogy is age appropriate and well-written dystopian children's novel. I remember very distinctly that this was my first exposure to what seemed like a plausible future world. (I read this in 4th grade so it might be too easy. )

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would also be good; I read this in 6th grade and it was book that sparked my interest in sci-fi.

Comment by brigid on [Book Suggestions] Summer Reading for Younglings. · 2012-05-13T00:13:56.601Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Voted up for the Westing Game.

Comment by brigid on Open Thread, May 1-15, 2012 · 2012-05-04T23:45:29.353Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Scientific American argues that using "negative words" (including skeptical, unclear, doubt, and shouldn't) hurts your ability to "sell your science." Instead, you need to be optimistic.

"“If you have a method or idea and you believe it works, you have to be optimistic about it. Optimism is the number-one thing.” ~Anne Kinney, Director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

So supposedly, in order to sell your ideas, you need to hide evidence of the LessWrongian values that help you develop a solid method or idea in the first place.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/10/06/optimism-and-enthusiasm-lessons-for-scientists-from-steve-jobs/

Comment by brigid on Urgent: Subjects needed for rationality measure development · 2012-05-04T00:41:38.266Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How do you click more than one sequence, if you have read more than one of them? Shift and alt don't seem to be making a difference.

Comment by brigid on May 2012 Media Thread · 2012-05-03T02:07:18.065Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you are concerned about time investment, let me state that most people can finish the book (and, in fact, do seem to finish the book) in 1-2 days.

Comment by brigid on Minicamps on Rationality and Awesomeness: May 11-13, June 22-24, and July 21-28 · 2012-05-02T02:35:06.129Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is it too late to apply for this?

Comment by brigid on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2012-05-01T23:01:39.176Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I’m Brigid. I’ve been reading through the Sequences for a few weeks now, and am just about to start the Quantum Section (about which I am very excited). I found out about this site from an email the SIAI sent out. I’m an Signals Intelligence officer in the Marine Corps and am slated to get out of the military in a few months. I’m not too sure what I am going to do yet though; as gung-ho as I originally was about intel, I’m not sure I want to stay in that specific field. I was a physics and political science major in college, with a minor in women’s studies. I’ve been interested in rationality for a few years now and have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve read so far here (including HPMOR) . Also, if there is anyone who is interested in starting a Meetup group in Hawaii (Oahu) let me know!

Comment by Brigid on [deleted post] 2012-05-01T19:54:38.538Z

1) Being compared to a poet in a forum that emphasizes logic is not a compliment; rather, it seems to be polite critique that implies that you present your ideas in a purposefully (and needlessly) confusing manner. 2) Your actual argument appears to be “actually doing something is better than just wishing you did something.” If you have somewhere interesting to go with this, very well, I’d be interested to hear it. But so far, it’s appears to be a cliché thought hidden in superfluous verbiage. 3) I am also new here, and I can readily identify that your initial post was nowhere near the standards of the articles under the Discussion tab, let alone the standards of the Main tab.

Comment by brigid on Mindfulness Meditation Thread · 2012-04-25T02:28:52.433Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I grew up a practicing Quaker. While some Friends "pray" during Meeting (what we call church), others practice mindful meditation. So while I regularly practice what I believe qualifies as mindful meditation, I haven't been formerly trained. And also, what has worked for me in helping me learn how to focus, might not work for you; it has, however, worked for some of my friends, so it could at least help someone who reads this. In addition to daily meditation attempts, which are important even they are only for 5 minutes, it might be easier if you try some other ways to learn how gain focus.

So, lets say someone you dislike does something that annoys/angers you (jerk coworker, rude driver) or your are upset by a situation (quitting smoking). Most people, when angered, spend a good deal of mental energy dreaming up the perfect witty comeback, how horrible the other person is, or how they could "punish" the offender. They will do this for many hours throughout the day/week/month without even realizing they are doing it. They have a hard time stopping because they don't think about their thinking. So for this drill, make a conscious decision that whenever your thoughts start to stray in that direction of thinking about that offending person/situation, you are going to stop those thoughts, acknowledge that you broke your promise to yourself by thinking them, and move on to a different, unrelated thought.

The first, uh, 50 times you do this, you will realize that you had been thinking about the triggering person or event for a few minutes--possibly more--before you noticed you were doing it. You will keep doing this. And then one time, it will click after only a minute or so. And then 40 seconds. And so on. Until you realize as you start the thought that you are breaking your personal promise. You have begun to think about thinking it while you are thinking it.

That drill will help you understand what it feels like to notice, acknowledge, and redirect your thoughts during meditation. It's the same skill, except meditation tends to be a bit harder because it's not just one kind of thought you are blocking, it's all but one. So if you successfully meditating for 5 minutes, you wouldn't have had to notice, acknowledge, or redirect your thoughts about anything--you would have just held on to that original thought for the 5 minutes. But its going to be really hard to notice if this is happening or not if you don't know what it feels like to interrupt those unwanted thoughts. Because if you haven't learned how to interrupt unwanted thoughts, you really haven't learned how to identify that you are having unwanted thoughts.

Another drill which I have told people--which may or may not help as I use it mainly for falling asleep, not meditating, but it still focuses the mind--is to attempt to think random" images instead of thoughts. Obviously this is not possible, but that is the best I can do at putting words on the process. When you think of an object, it is easy to quickly move from that object into some sort of story surrounding the object.

Ex. I think of my dad, and then I think of the phone call we had today, and then i think how my dad mentioned this one thing, which I forgot to do, but that's ok I'll do it during my lunch break tomorrow, and oh, wouldn't a PBJ be delicious for lunch tomorrow...and on and on.

Instead, try NOT connecting the story. Think of a thought, make that thought an image, and the second you think of something slightly else, make that thought an image but don't think about the connection between the two. Just try to force yourself to make the thought jump without a connector. It makes it easier if you try to visualize an image of the word. If you think "gorilla," you need to mentally see that gorilla. If you think of a word that has no direct image, like "happy," just see the word written out in your mind.

So instead of the above mental conversation, you will visualize "dad...gorilla...banana..stem...seaweed..rainbow... telephone..cord...hair..dance..peculiar...baseball.." and on and on. The words must have a correlation somewhere in my mind or I wouldn't have thought them in that order, but I refused to let my mind try to draw the connection while I thought them. I just accept them as random (even if this is incorrect) and force myself to make the thought jump to the next image. The second your mind starts to stray and think "oh a telephone uses a cord," (which I realized as I type this, not while I was thinking it) and you notice yourself straying (like in the first example), correct yourself and try to start making "random" image jumps again. Try to jump from image to image as fast as possible; if you stay too long on one image, it's easy for your mind to form related thoughts.

This drill also makes it easy for you to notice when your thought process strays, and self-correct. Honestly, I don't think it matters if your thoughts during mindful meditation are on one object (saying "ohmmm," staring at the flame of a candle, and so on) or on many objects like this mental images drill, as long you don't actually give thoughts to those many objects.

Comment by brigid on Grad School? · 2012-04-22T03:01:21.580Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

While having a B.S. in physics will likely be sufficient to enter all those graduate fields, it doesn't (as was stated above somewhere) qualify you for a whole lot outside of applying to graduate programs--or impressing people in fields of mostly liberal arts majors. So be absolutely sure you are comfortable with going directly into a gradate program after college. There are very few "cool" jobs you can get with just the bachelors. Out of my graduating physics class, all but one went on to graduate programs. That one individual took a job doing something for a patent office.