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Mindful Living, Mindful Shooting - Part IV of a series
By Jeffrey47

I remain as much the student as any reader of these articles.  If it were otherwise, of course, the gains I might hope to make by writing them would surely be lost.

Recognizing that my ideas won’t always ring true for everyone, there is nevertheless one thing that seems as certain as any equation in the theory of probability and as critical to our success as any of the mechanics we learn or wagering techniques we use:  to reckon with the DI journey is to reckon with ourselves.

In my experience, DI has provided an uncanny link between the more mundane aspects of life and all the things that most inspire and intrigue me.-

The roadmap within

In Part One, I noted that Mad Professor had provided a “bullet-point road map for maintaining an every-roll mindset….”  But I noted, too, how it can be easy to mistake that map for the road itself.  In this series of articles I’m hoping to chart a useful course inside of ourselves as we grapple with the challenges of the dice-influencing journey, especially the challenge of maintaining a mindset appropriately geared for our own success.

There has been an incredible amount of interest in another sort of map we’ll want to use in our DI journey.  The online utility for matching our individual shooting profiles with appropriate dice-sets and wagering opportunities that Mad Professor and Stanford Wong will be providing has stirred our passions and it has stirred up controversy.

But let’s not misconstrue Mad Professor’s online utility, or any toss-analysis software, as the promise of a free pass to dice-influencing nirvana.  Although Mad Professor repeatedly notes that "it’s not our shooting that holds us back, it’s our betting;" the conclusion must nevertheless be tempered with the observation that Irishsetter makes, that "knowledge is not execution."  Without question, MP’s online utility will presuppose we’ve already accomplished the work required for us to benefit from it.

While it’s true that even great shooting can be squandered with dice-sets and wagering plans mismatched to the particulars of our skill, it’s equally true that no amount of computerized toss-tracking analysis will execute for us at the tables.  No computer software will do the work required for us to maintain and improve our ability to de-randomize the dice with consistency.

This may seem obvious, but I was amazed by comments on the message board that belie an understanding of this.  As I said at the time, we will always have to rely on the multi-billion-neuron-strong software between our ears for maintaining, improving and executing our toss mechanics.

We can track our practice results, and invoke the assistance of silicon-based electronic intelligence for calculating the dice-sets and wagers that will maximize our potential return.  But no computer software is going to help if we’re not consistently executing our skill while applying the information we’ve obtained in an enlightened way.

The sum total of all the directives we receive, is yet mere cartographic information in the DI journey, nothing more.  Each of us still has to interpret the coordinates and navigate our own course.

I think that’s why I’ve become so adamant that the symbols and signposts appearing on the available maps must be very carefully defined and considered.

Muscle memory remembered . . . AGAIN

In our last discussion, we explored muscle memory because it is such a fundamental piece of the dice-influencing puzzle.  It’s a powerful tool for helping us move our skills forward—but only if it’s thoroughly understood and correctly applied.  Expecting to get maximum advantage from muscle memory without knowing how we really benefit from it—and how to avoid becoming stifled by it—seemed to me to be a mistake of significant proportion.

Continued progress at DI requires a deeply felt appreciation for the palpable differences between being a mere passenger on the journey versus occupying an almost childlike state of sustained inquisitiveness and fascination with the ride.  Cultivating an acute proprioceptive awareness, rather than relying on a more passive concept of muscle memory, serves as a perfect vehicle for learning to maintain the elevated levels of focus and concentration required for consistent performance.

It isn’t that we need to be thinking about these things when we’re playing or when we’re tracking our rolls during practice.  Like everything else, our mental-landscape concerns are all matters we can anticipate becoming more and more a natural part of our skill-set over time.  And just like anything else, we more consciously work on developing our proprioceptive awareness during our toss-tweaking and experimentation sessions, as opposed to our toss-tracking sessions or live play. 

But only by first focusing on it can we possibly expect to develop a finely tuned sense of our physical awareness that will eventually become a natural part of our expanding skill-set.

It’s really no different than any other skill-acquisition process.  We break our toss down into its component parts to analyze each element one by one, and then we readily reconstruct it into an improved and integrated whole. 

To me, it’s no less necessary to work with our proprioceptive awareness and muscle memory in this exact same way.

A mapquest for improving our mindset

You may be surprised to find out that the methods for improving our proprioceptive awareness, our sense of our toss mechanics (we’ll talk about some of the methods we can use in greater detail in a future article) are actually the exact same methods we can use to gain an enhanced sense about everything that’s going on in our mind.

As we continue deeper into our discussion of mindfulness, we’ll begin to focus on the crap between our ears.  The broader utility of our proprioceptive sense as an element of our physical skill will become startlingly clear as we apply it as a method for becoming more fully conscious of our thoughts and emotions as well.

In a message-board post not long ago, I coined a word to try to encapsulate the idea of our physical and mental activities being experienced as an integrated whole.  In the post, I said, “It’s all ‘physmentical.’ ”

If we consider our physical proprioceptive awareness as merely one aspect of our effort to optimize our dicesetting mindset, we can similarly consider that cultivating a more conscious awareness of our thoughts and emotions is another aspect of the same mental game.

By looking at these differently targeted mental processes—our proprioceptive awareness on the one hand, and our thoughts and emotions on the other—as merely two aspects of the same game, we can begin to chip away at our usual propensity for experiencing mind and body in separate or conflicting terms.

There’s no particular sequential order, or any preference for any one aspect over the other in this mental-game exploration.  Our proprioceptive sense can be continually observed as we also begin focusing on our thoughts and our emotions.  Being simultaneously aware of all of the interlaced contours within the topology of our mental landscape is key to achieving an ultimate, synchronous cooperation among them.

In this way, we begin to expect that the different parts of our overall awareness will seamlessly blend, and in so doing, become far more useful to us than if each remains operating in imagined isolation of the other.

It is this eventual synchrony among the mental, physical, and emotional qualities of our awareness that we seek to encourage, by first assessing each of them individually. 

Then, it is from this emerging synchrony of mind that we’ll be able to hone in on that effortlessness of execution we’re hoping to achieve.  

It’s waiting there; all we have to do is have the presence of mind to recognize it, again and again.

It’s really not as abstract as it sounds

These mental-landscape matters may seem too abstract or subtle to bother with.  But to me, none of it is any more abstract or subtle than anything else we’re constantly considering in our dice-influencing efforts.  It’s just that these are things that don’t seem to be discussed nearly as much.   And I suspect that’s only because they are things we don’t tend to notice as easily as most everything else we go about doing in the business of our DI activities.

For example, to me, the whole idea of de-randomizing dice is pretty abstract.  Yet we quickly learn from the outset about the axes of the dice and how we can arrange and toss them to alter the likely outcomes.

Similarly, consider the virtually unlimited subtleties involved as we continually work on developing the physical dynamics of our toss itself.  We spend huge amounts of time and energy debating in the abstract how certain very subtle gripping or throwing-motion variations or different table-surface conditions will affect the behavior of the dice.  But once we begin actually experimenting with these dynamics and experience for ourselves how they work, these subtle abstractions become absolutely concrete, or at least they should.

It’s really not much different with the mental-side considerations we’re discussing.  Once we begin experimenting with them, they have a way of becoming just as useful a part of our dice-influencing skill-set as knowing how any grip, tossing motion, or table surface will affect the behavior of the dice.

Moreover, since any improvement to the mental aspect of our game will logically have an overarching effect on all its other aspects, it just seems to make sense that we apply some effort toward mastery of mind as we seek to achieve mastery in dice.

Down the road . . .

In future articles, we’ll be taking a close look at some specific ways to enhance our proprioceptive awareness of both mind and body  to begin to allow every next toss to emerge with more precision, and more effortlessly.

I’m going to reveal some of the things I found going on between my ears that I didn’t know had been bogging me down, and I’ll explain how I believe I managed to begin working with them to my advantage rather than allowing them to continue interfering with my progress.  I expect some of the characters I found lurking, lounging, and raging inside my head will be familiar to you.  Hopefully, you’ll find reading about them as amusing as it was for me getting to know them. 

We’ll also be discussing how progress in the mental game can be derived not only from staying in good mental and physical shape, as is sometimes mentioned, but also from simply making a conscious effort at deepening our focus on some of the routine things normally passing us by in our everyday lives.

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