What is the purpose or aim of practicing pragmatically?

To reduce suffering and increase happiness for the whole self and others.

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What is the Four Voices practice?

The Four Voices practice is done when a practitioner consciously and awarely switches the pronouns in the internal and external self talk dialogue.

The Personal Voice is sustained and maintained by the pronoun “I.” As in: “I think and feel, therefore I am.”

The Committee Voice is sustained and maintained by substituting the pronoun “we” for “I.” As in: “We think and feel therefore we are.”

The Witness Voice is sustained and maintained by substituting a noun for a pronoun. As in: “What is this body-mind experiencing?” Or, “what is [insert name] experiencing?”

The Impersonal Voice is sustained and maintained by dropping all personal pronouns and nouns. It is the stream of internal and external talking without the use of any personal references.

The practice is to explore the inner world by consciously switching between voices, always returning to the personal voice and the end for good ecology and equilibrium.

What is the origin and use of the phrase “apart of, not apart from, not the whole” of the self?

Meditation teachers will typically say something like, “if you can observe a thought or feeling, you know it is not you.”

One day, while mindfully observing the arising and passing away of word and image thoughts, observing them attentively without adding to them, another thought popped into my head:

“That observation is imperfect. If this brain is observing thoughts and feelings, this brain knows that those thoughts and feelings are a part of, not apart from, but not the whole of me. The real ‘me’ is every single cell from head to toe, considered, understood and experienced as a whole.”

These are three common characteristics of all subjective human experiences.

What is the most pragmatic definition of the word “self?”

Definitions matter.

Experience has shown me that the word “self” is most pragmatically defined as the whole of the body, heart, and mind, from head to toe, every cell included, every system running, every conscious and unconscious process, operating as a complete human being.

What goes on in the head is the creation of a “virtual self.” The internal word narrative in the brain, the images of memory and imagination, the sensations of emotions, are the brain’s creation of a virtual self to represent the whole self.

Even though it feels solid, it is not actually the whole self from head to toe. It is a representation. It is a apart of, not apart from, and not the whole. The whole is the complete body, heart, and mind.

The “unit of human existence” in this universe is the whole of the body, heart, and mind, not just anyone of its many parts.

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Why this ‘Pragmatic Practitioner’ blog?

‘Pragmatic’ because the focus for this live human being is on what works.  ‘Practitioner’ because it is a good word to capture the very wide range of ideas, techniques, practices, and values that I have used to reduce suffering and increase happiness for self and others.  And, very importantly, because as a ‘practitioner,’ I’m not identifying with any one school, technique, religion, tradition, or group of practices.

All practices and techniques can be understood as voluntary, self-directed efforts at personal change.  All have been learned from someone else, and along the way I’ve added a few twists which perhaps you may find helpful.

I’ve recovered from addiction through a twelfth step program, studied and practiced NLP, and in recent years pursued a wide variety of meditative practices including mindfulness, vipassana, and concentration.

I try the techniques, assess the effects in my own inner experience and outer behavior, and then draw my own maps.  This blog documents the results of this work.