Qualia Mastery II: Further Develop Your Toolkit for Navigating the State-Space of Consciousness

Explore Part II of the Qualia Mastery Series

Qualia Mastery, in a nutshell:

1) Explore the state-space of consciousness because you want to know it for yourself

2) Study it from many points of view because you want to understand it intellectually at a deep level

3) Intend to apply it for the benefit of all beings

In June of this year, we were proud to launch QRI’s first guided meditation series titled “Qualia Mastery.” Central to this series is the cultivation of a direct experiential understanding of how the mind works, coupled with an epistemological framework that values intellectual clarity. In essence, these guided meditations strive to provide both direct access to and intellectual insight into scientifically and personally significant states of consciousness. Furthermore, we embark on this journey with a sincere desire to serve and uplift others. The initial release features 9 foundational guided meditations. In this next installment, we’re collaborating with QRI associates Wystan Bryant-Scott and Roger Thisdell to go even deeper with another 9 meditations.

We genuinely hope you derive value from this series! We invite any feedback or phenomenological observations. Your perspective is invaluable to us.

Thank you!

Metta – Fabric Softener of Experience

Metta is a Pali word that can be translated as benevolence, friendliness, or good will. It is a key state of mind for meditative practice; it has the capacity to heal, invigorate, and center the mind.

The majority of guided Metta meditations emphasize the ways in which you can trigger this state of mind with semantic content and imagery. For example imagining a loved one, a pet, or even a beautiful scene, and tuning into the feeling of friendliness that such an image sparks.

In this meditation we instead emphasize the phenomenal character of Metta as a way to develop it, establish it, and understand it deeply. For example, we discuss how one can use different varieties of attention in order to kindle this feeling. We also tune into one’s intentions and background mood in order to nudge the mind towards Metta. More so, we carefully study how technical phenomenological features such as rhythm, wave envelope, and energy affect the quality and intensity of Metta.

May this meditation be of benefit to sentient beings!

Relevant Links:

Deeply Letting Go

It is often said that one of the most important meditative skills that one can cultivate is the practice of *letting go*. This means letting go of attachments, of cravings, of a sense of identity, and the need for things to be anything other than what they are. However, in practice doing this is more difficult than it sounds; we have a habit of holding tight to much more than we require for optimal wellbeing.

This guided meditation emphasizes two key aspects of letting go. Namely, (1) tactical methods for letting go, such as the judicious use of unusual varieties of attention, higher order equanimity, imaginal practices, and precise technique (such as rhythm and timing). And (2) the fact that letting go can be practiced in much deeper ways and with a much wider scope than is usually realized. In particular, letting go can take place in the visual, tactile, auditory domains, in addition to the spacious, cognitive, spiritual, and intuitive levels of the mind.

We conclude this meditation by listening to meditative music with the goal of experiencing it with complete equanimity and acceptance and putting our letting go techniques to practice.

Goldilocks Zone of Oneness

In this guided meditation, we delve into the phenomenology of various conceptions of personal identity. Specifically, we observe the experiential nuances of believing that we are individual souls (Closed Individualism), that we are a single universal consciousness (Open Individualism), that we represent ephemeral moments of experience (Empty Individualism), and that we encompass all these identities concurrently (Goldilocks Zone of Oneness).

As with the “The Phenomenology of Ontology” meditation, our objective here is to discern the qualities of experience that shape a specific worldview. In essence, the phenomenology of personal identity is a pivotal subject for any holistic consciousness research initiative, regardless of the metaphysical veracity of these perspectives. The capacity of these conceptions to modify experiential attributes—such as refining internal boundaries or amplifying the choppiness of sensations—underscores the importance of this topic for both phenomenological and scientific exploration.

More so, many exotic states of consciousness involve implicit alterations to our conceptions of personal identity. Therefore knowing how to detect the experiential features that make these beliefs feel more or less plausible is essential to successfully navigate exotic states of consciousness without compromising one’s epistemology.

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Waves of Ever Becoming

In this meditation, Roger Thisdell guides us in a meditation of somatic scanning up and down the body using concurrent waves of awareness that pass through one another. We are trying to balance both the sense of grounding, stability with the sense of wakeful, levity.

By the end of the meditation, the goal is to isolate and metacognize the sense of ‘becoming’ within experience, and notice that this signal is always presenting itself. We may question, if everything seems like it’s always ‘becoming’ (but never fully become), then what significance does this have with the goal of trying to have ‘arrived’ somewhere?

For more guided meditations by Roger, check out his Patreon page where he releases a new guided meditation, on a variety of techniques, every week: https://www.patreon.com/rogerthis

Don’t Pay Attention

Normally in meditation we are focused on what IS in experience, but to be able to notice the absence of phenomena is key as well! Where there once were qualia, now there aren’t – what does that reveal to us about their nature?

Roger Thisdell guides a meditation starting with a taste session on the major ingredients which make up our experience. Then after paying attention to these components, we deliberately try to not pay attention to them. What we find is the move to let go of paying attention to anything is a universal move – no matter the object of attention – how convenient! 

The ability to take attention off of more and more aspects of experience is an essential skill which eventually culminates in the ability to not pay attention to time, space and consciousness, resulting in cessation.

For more guided meditations by Roger, check out his Patreon page where he releases a new guided meditation, on a variety of techniques, every week: https://www.patreon.com/rogerthis

Co-Arising Expansion and Contraction

Expansion and contraction are the subtlest distinguishing features of experience. This meditation on expansion and contraction, given by Roger Thisdell, is a guide for finding and synchronizing to the oscillatory nature of experience at different levels, and then realising the co-dependence on one another in order to exist. Where there is expansion there is contraction and vice versa. By having sufficient energy in the mind and being able to widen the ‘aperture’ of our present moment perception it is possible to notice contraction within attention, and expansion within awareness (and vice versa) at the same time!

For more guided meditations by Roger, check out his Patreon page where he releases a new guided meditation, on a variety of techniques, every week: https://www.patreon.com/rogerthis

A Clap of Thunder

In this guided meditation, our invited facilitator, Wystan, leads participants through meticulous body scanning techniques designed to cultivate an acute consciousness of the immediate present. Transitioning seamlessly from body scanning to methods of introspection, and further incorporating the nuanced technique of finger-following to “spread out the vision”, Wystan imparts a spectrum of methodologies that promise to augment the meditative practice of individuals across all levels of expertise.

For more content from Wystan Bryant-Scott, see his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@wystantbs488/videos

Absorption Into Platonic Objects  

This meditation explores the phenomenology of absorption into Platonic objects. We delve into what it feels like to imagine, embody, and generate the sense of knowing of classic geometric and mathematical constructs.

One of the main takeaways from this meditation is that we can attune to the difference between (1) how we render a particular instance of a Platonic object and (2) the sense of knowing and existence of that object that arises as we do so.

That is, (1) emphasizes the specific point of view from which a Platonic object (say, a cube) can be apprehended. Each point of view gives rise to, in a way, a completely different experience (cf. Borges’ Funes the Memorious). Namely, the experience of rendering such an object from that particular point of view, with all of the sensory and qualitative features that come along with it. In contrast (2) points to that which remains the same across all of these points of view. Namely, the ways in which holding these objects in one’s attention keeps aspects of our experience invariant (such as the intuitions and resonances that come with each particular Platonic object).

In addition, we also explore how the geometry of attention affects one’s valence and sense of ease, with the goal of naturalizing “Sacred Geometry” for the cultivation of Qualia Mastery.

Relevant Links:

Self-Organizing Principles

There are many spiritual and yogic practices that utilize “elemental” objects of meditation. For example, the guided meditation by Michael Taft called “Five Elements Meditation” (link below) centers the mind around mental formations evocative of earth, water, fire, air, and space. 

Alas, it is natural to be skeptical of the value of these practices on the basis that science has shown that the universe is made up of particles, forces, and fields, and not the traditional elements of ancient ontologies.

Nevertheless, within the paradigm of Qualia Mastery in meditation, we affirm the significance of specific states of consciousness, irrespective of the techniques used to induce them. Adhering rigidly to a modern scientific worldview might, in fact, impede one’s engagement with such meditative practices. Engaging fully with a meditation that posits, for instance, fire as a fundamental entity, can often yield richer results when one genuinely subscribes to the idea. Continual internal rebuttals, such as “fire isn’t foundational; electrons are!” can inhibit deep immersion into these states.

So how can we rescue what is valuable from this style of meditation without having to buy into an implicit “elemental ontology”? Here is where the relevance of “self-organizing principles” comes into play. Namely, where we realize that the nervous system is capable of instantiating a cornucopia of diverse self-organizing principles that are used to render one’s inner world-simulation. Thus, when you imagine and embody “the element of fire” you are, in a way, instantiating a collection of self-organizing principles that roughly emulate the behavior of fire. 

Therefore, we can use a more generalized conception of “elemental meditation” as a window into these self-organizing principles. This is what this meditation does.

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