Sunday marked the last day of the first week of this experiment in intend to do throughout the summer, which I outline in an earlier post from a few weeks ago. So first an overview of some of the things I did:
– Rigorous Spanish study
– Speed-reading practice
– General reading for the sake of knowledge
– Exercise almost daily
– The Everyman sleep cycle
– Playing the RTS (Real-time strategy) game Starcraft II

With the exception of reading non-fiction material for the sake of knowledge, all these things are new to me, so many of the effects very well may have been the result of the novelty, more than the actual things themselves.

The Week in Review:

-Day 1: Tried to get the Everyman nap patterns straight, practiced speed reading, some exercise, and studied a lot of Spanish.

-Day 2: My Everyman already got interrupted by oversleeping a few hours in the core nap, and skipping a nap during the day. Nonetheless, I continued to study Spanish quite rigorously. I also finished reading the theoretical physics book The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow.

-Day 3: Everyman went fine again until my 3rd nap which went straight through til the end of my core. Wrote some music on guitar, and played Starcraft for the first time. Continued with Spanish. Continued speed reading.

-Day 4: Woke up late yet again, but overall a good day. Continued to exercise, and noticed myself having more strength and stamina with it. Continued speed-reading practices. Also the desired effects of playing Starcraft could already be seen. After playing I would spend the next few hours thinking lightning fast and being able to manage many different things simultaneously. Already I can see possibilities for games being used in the future with the designed intent of benefiting people’s minds.

My Spanish comprehension by this point surpassed both my Arabic and my French, which is remarkable, to say the least. I’ve spent weeks in Saudi Arabia with my Arabic speaking family, and studied for years using what materials I could find, and French I studied in school between 1st grade and 11th grade. For me to say the 4 days of Spanish could surpass either of those is enough indicative of the fact that the system by which most people learn languages is completely wrong, but I’ll explain more in another post in the near future, specifically about this language-learning sub-project.

-Day 5: Woke up on time and kept my nap straight. When I do it right, I feel great. Progressed in Starcraft. Read some of a book on emotional intelligence. It pointed out that emotional intelligence can be learned. I think the same can very much be said about IQ as well, which I hope to prove by this endeavor. Continued with Spanish.

(Today I had the thought that there is a 6-step process to true learning:
1) The desire to think.
2) Learning how to think.
3) Applying it by thinking regularly.
4) The desire to learn.
5) Learning how to learn.
6) Applying it by actively seeking out knowledge and understanding.)

-Day 6: Woke up only an hour late. Did a little more speed reading, in particular reading two lines at once. Spent most of the day with family and then friends but then got to practice my Spanish with my Colombian friend Pablo. It showed that my speaking needs much work, but that my comprehension isn’t bad, especially for what were effectively 5 days of study.

(Today I also had the thought that all cognitive activity appears to be of the very same nature. There are small units of information which you arrange into slightly larger structures that convey basic concepts. Everything is then arranged according to a structure, given rules of operation, and utilizes varying degrees of complexity.)

-Day 7: The 7th day was devoted entirely to Starcraft. It’s challenging my mind in so many ways, rationally in terms of strategizing and remembering all the small pieces of information like build orders, hotkeys, and unit strengths, but also emotionally because I have to try very hard to keep my adrenaline, anger, and fear as low as possible. Normally these are things I never feel at all, so to feel them is very interesting to me. It allows me to re-assess and explore them when I’ve almost removed them from my day-to-day life.

The 9 areas of mind I outlined that I plan to benefit, and how I benefited each one:
1 ) Visuo-spatial abilities: I did nothing to benefit this, besides perhaps some fringe benefit from playing Starcraft.
2 ) Regulation of emotions; concentration; clarity of mind; mindfulness: I think this aspect I’ve actually worsened. It’s imperative that I meditate while doing all these other things so as not to threaten this most-important quality/capacity.
3 ) Willpower: This was strong for most of the week, but the last two days kind of tapered off. I did find that merely doing all these practices proves to be a strong enough test to my willpower on its own.
4 ) Processing Speed/ability to handle multiple things at once/problem-solving ability: Starcraft helped this immensely. The effect is so incredibly noticeable, it’s striking.
5 ) Speed and comprehension in reading: the speed reading practice made a noticeable effect on my general reading.
6 ) Capacity for learning/memorizing:
a ) Language-learning: Spanish improved dramatically
b ) General reading: The Grand Design, book on emotional intelligence, and worked on linguistics.
7 ) Ethos/morality/compassion/empathy: I practiced the recitation of the 4 Immeasurables (which are loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity) prayer directed towards everyone I know one person at a time. I did this a few times, one of which was while taking an hour-long walk. The practice really did have me tearing up and thinking compassionately. I began to see how the mind could be trained to have the immediate response when seeing a living thing to be the though of the Immeasurables. Such a person would effectively be a saint. This will surely go into the book i’m writing on how to be a saint.
8 ) Mind-Body connection/Bodily health and fitness: the exercise noticeably improved this as well.
9 ) General understanding of and mastery over the mind: Essentially all these practices contributed to this. Most notably would probably be the Everyman. It gave me insight into the workings of my mind in terms of sleep, which I think will prove invaluable.

All-in-all a productive week. I haven’t really done much, other than Starcraft since Saturday, really. I’ve just been trying to analyze the week, which was in many ways a test run of certain things. Now that I have an idea what I’m doing tomorrow I’ll begin anew. I’ll post a new post each week or so as a recap.

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Link to older post on the summary of the project: https://ignoranceandwisdom.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/self-experiment-in-breaking-through-the-perceived-limitations-of-the-mind/

More info about polyphasic sleep cycles like the Everyman:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphasic_sleep
http://www.highexistence.com/alternate-sleep-cycles/
http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/polyphasic-sleep/
http://www.puredoxyk.com/index.php/2007/01/24/six-months-on-everyman/