MetaCognitions | Mindfulness sans Mysticism

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lately I’ve been getting into various mindfulness practices to some effect, but am extremely cautious of many of the claims made about them.

There are things it just can’t do, but mindfulness is useful because of those things it can do.

What I seek is a little more equanimity during rough times, a bit more balance, clearer mental focus, a deeper sense of my link to the world, better awareness of the present moment…. perhaps a little more compassion and less dickishness than I’ve perhaps had the previous day.

These practices have yielded valuable understanding of the fleeting contents of the three-pound lump of convoluted tissue in my skull; my private thoughts, feelings, a better awareness of my motives, errors in reasoning that prior to beginning the practice I hadn’t noticed myself committing.

They also help with my…. psychology…. With less than a minute of breath awareness, I may calm my somewhat raucous inner narrative after stressful moments and regain a level of clarity that would otherwise take an hour to achieve.

With a body scan — attending to subtle physical sensations from toes to head — I may relax and achieve a decent night’s REM sleep within moments.

Extending the practice to the act of walking, or eating, or creating fractals, or listening to an ocean of sound around me as though at a concert, in both formal and informal practice, it becomes easier to attend to the moment in a variety of situations.

Better yet, with practice and experience it becomes possible to create and adapt new exercises to new situations and circumstances.

This is a definite win/win situation for me.

Meditation can focus the mind and render profound insight, but it cannot work feats of magic or suspend the laws of reality.

It may only show us those things within or about ourselves we hadn’t seen before, hadn’t noticed, and often haven’t even looked for, surprising us when they appear before our inward gaze for the first time.

Even those things we might not like when we find them. Caution and a light step are important. It can help one attend, but one must be careful what to attend to, particularly with issues like mine.

I’ve no intent to seek enlightenment, become a sage, realign my chakras, redirect my flow of qi, nor achieve other alleged supernormal powers.

My goals are instead to strengthen my connection to the world, to affirm rather than deny it, to live in it more fully and to experience each moment as though it were precious. It’s to enhance my observational awareness as a form of cross-training for bettering and for clarifying my thinking.

What about transcendent experiences? It’s possible with enough practice over time, I suppose. But that’s not big on my list of things to do, though it would be interesting if it happened. Not my cup of chai.


Rather than doing this for some lofty spiritual goal, nor to seek power, I’ll just keep at this for purely practical reasons, while at once being careful what to practice….

.…and what to avoid for the dangers it may present to my mental health. I won’t engage in anything that fuzzes the edges of my reason. That goes for recreational pharmaceuticals as well.


Otherwise, I may as just turn in my skeptic card, and I simply don’t see that happening.

Fractals of the Week | Indra’s Sky (full of Moons!)

G’day! This week, I present a new Kleinian group image, this one completed just yesterday. It uses a three-layer multicolored rendering with a mapping that gives the look of a reflective lake in the foreground, a lake where spiral patterns of moons rise above the horizon. The maths for this one are found in the book Indra’s Pearls: The Vision of Felix Klein, which I highly recommend even for those with only basic proficiency with algebra. The image is directly uploaded to WP, so double-click to enlarginate for the full-sized file.


A Sky Full of Moons

A Sky Full of Moons

All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via a variety of apps and unless otherwise stated are copyright 2015 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, as long as proper credit is given for them.

The Call’s Gnuz & Lynx Roundup | 2015.10.04

English: My own work

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

G’day! I’m back to studying Bengali more fully this month, and have completed a deck of digital flashcards, to be followed by further decks, including hardcopy for an actual physical file cabinet thanks to my new workstation. This month I’m turning my focus to vocabulary and grammar, and more complex sentence construction, the real goodies of the course!

I need that so that I can write verse, prose, and converse with others without butchering the language! There’s also the matter of listening to Bengali online radio stations, and reading the works of Bengali authors in the vernacular.

Next month’s primary language will be Tamil.

I’ve also been transcribing notes from prior Great Courses lecture series’ on Analysis and Critique into Evernote, which has proven invaluable as a study tool.

There will be no changes in my weekly blogging schedule for this month, though I’m thinking of participating in NaNoWriMo next month. I’ll announce my decision on that in next week’s Roundup, once I weigh my options and decide on what story to write.

May you have nothing but good days this week, and in Soruggon,

Talotaa frang, talotaa kas, talotaa tranga suulat.

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Steven Novella – Science-Based Medicine: Beyond Integrated Medicine

Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2015.10.03

Geometry of a Lunar Eclipse

Geometry of a Lunar Eclipse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This last Sunday night was the time of a rare supermoon and total lunar eclipse, and I was happy to see it, even with cloudy local skies — through live video feed elsewhere! Of course there were “Dawn of the Dead” jokes galore and other references to a zombie apocalypse that night, but what a spectacle it was, even when not visible outside my own window – There’s concern about inebriated troublemakers outside at that time of night as well(Not a safe neighborhood for nighttime viewing out of doors.). We (humans) got some new pics and details of Pluto’s moon Charon, The announcement (a BIG one!) of the discovery of liquid briny water on Mars, and the successful 100th launch of an Atlas V rocket with a new satellite into orbit. I’m on a new project, to figure out the full range of planetary data for some of my fictional worlds using the math from GURPS Space from GURPS 4th Edition, though I’m not saying which worlds they will be for now.

Stay warm, stay dry, and stay safe for those of you on the Northeast US coast, and as always,


A Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

Total Lunar Eclipse over Waterton Lake

Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse and Lightning Storm

Seasonal Streaks Point to Flowing Liquid Water on Mars

Eclipsed in Southern Skies

Charon, Moon of Pluto

A Blue Blood Moon

Image of the Week:

Weekly Astrognuz:

Mobile Launcher Upgraded to Launch NASA’s Massive “Journey to Mars” Rocket

Lunar Eclipse: Photos & Videos of the September 2015 Event

Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Water on Mars | Evidence of Flowing Liquid

Videos: Buoyant Rover for Under Ice Exploration

Can You Kill a Star with Iron?

Space Images | Recurring “Lineae” on Slopes at Horowitz Crater

ISS Photo: Denver and Boulder

Crash Course Astronomy: Black Holes

Liquid Water on Mars is BIG News!

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Skeptic Check: What, Me Worry?

Comet Feature Named After Late NASA Scientist Claudia Alexander

Atlas V Streaks to Orbit in 100th Successful Mission

Charon: New Close-Up Color Photos

Rosetta’s First Peek at the Comet’s Dark Side

Life on Titan: Is There a Kraken in Kraken Mare?

GOP Candidates on Climate Change: Denying Reality in Every Possible Way

What’s Up? October 2015

Weekly Space Hangout: October 2, 2015

Phytoplankton Bloom: Two Satellites, Two Views

Mount Sharp Comes in Sharply

Magnetism and The Search for Life

Rockykins: On Ur Printr…Scannin’ Mai Fluffy Butt!


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Cat Thursday | Hacker Cats [1]

cat thursday 2

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It’s all for the love of cats! Enjoy!

What do cats do when we have our backs turned and are away from our computers?… Do they use their furry little paws to comb the darkest, deepest secrets, like where we hide their treats and crunchies? Do they secretly order hundreds of thousands of dollars of cat toys as we sleep, or embezzle money from our retirement funds? Here are a few of these nefarious feline scoundrels, caught in their online clandestine web-crawling activities!

Fractals of the Week | Technokratika

G’day! I’m shifting gears for this week, with some new MB3D images, and next week will be getting back to playing with Kleinian groups. This week’s images were uploaded to deviantART and are available as free downloads, or as full-sized prints. But watch your hard discs, as both of these monsters measure 5400 x 9000 pixels in size! They’re generated using custom presets, which I had lots of fun with testing out on a few earlier images that didn’t make the cut. Each of these links to its own page in my deviations gallery.

Well, it’s time to fire up UF5 for next week, and I’ll see you here again with the results, which I’ll title in the next installment, Indra’s Sky.


Faraway Station


All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via a variety of apps and unless otherwise stated are copyright 2015 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, as long as proper credit is given for them.