Because there are two styles of attending to experience, and because these styles are represented in clusters of traits, activities, and attitudes, we find ourselves with a lot of opportunities for moving not just away from the Systematic style, but towards the Spontaneous style.

On the Systematic side: we have a whole cluster of things to recognize in ourselves, and become equanimous towards. It’s unhelpful to get angry or frustrated with—for example—the compulsive inner monologue and its looping thoughts. Anger at the inner monologue only feeds it.

But if we instead become equanimous towards it, if we notice it but pay very little mind, we withdraw that feeding.

But that’s only half of the equation.

The other half is on the Spontaneous side: we have a whole cluster of things to recognize and become energetically playful and curious towards. All the energy that we withdraw from the Systematic style can be redirected towards the Spontaneous.

If you notice yourself lost in the inner monologue, use that as a cue to move towards whole-body awareness, or humility.

If you notice yourself grasping for certainty or tending towards arrogance—withdraw the frustration at yourself and instead use it as a cue to re-focus on the interconnection of everything around you.

Rather than reactively drawing a straight line between traits in each cluster (ex- inner monologue triggering a push for inner silence), this clustered view allows us to take a non-linear approach, skillfully redirecting energy and attention in less fractious and friction-y ways.

Below, I’ll put two columns of highly impressionistic, non-canonical, non-exhaustive lists of Systematic and Spontaneous traits, qualities, activities, reflexes, etc. Try noticing when items from the Systematic list are present, and try cultivating a reflex for using them as cues to jump to items in the Spontaneous list.

note: as always, keep in mind that the Systematic mode is not the enemy; it is a useful, powerful, and absolutely wonderful ally when it stays in its ecologically appropriate niche. We aren’t trying to destroy it, just to uproot it from inappropriate areas of our life. Most relevantly, we’re trying to uproot it from being our default mode.



Next Steps:

Somatic Silence