Roscoe Learns to Think – ‘Well Begun is Half-Done’

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone’s off to a good start on their new year’s resolutions, especially if you are also Learning to Think.

I’ve got some good news, and some bad news. The bad news is that I can’t upload videos from here. Unless someone gives me some hosting space and an uploading system that can either work through proxies or fly under the radar, I can’t get my test videos up until my next trip to Hong Kong, somewhere in mid-January.

The good news is, I got properly started. On New Year’s Day, I meditated, and did the room scan a few times, but I put off sitting down with Kahne or with my mnemonics. So I ended up doing my Kahnes at the kitchen table at about 12:30 at night, and it was pulling teeth all the way.

For writing the alphabet backwards, I kept transposing KJ to JK, and confusing N and M. I also didn’t have the “fairly even speed” that Kahne asked for, often stuttering as I wrote, “T…S! R, Q” and “I H … G…” My attention kept drifting and I kept speeding up, which only made the areas where I would get temporarily stuck stick out more. However, I found that sounding it out helps both the rhythm and the attention, and slowing down helps a lot.

As to transposing (the ACBD sequence), I now know how the Final Five Cylons felt. Rhyming couplets would form in my head (ABCD, EGFD) which obviously didn’t help on X, H, or L. I think that’s why I kept forgetting what the fourth letter was. And I spent so much time on this, I didn’t have time to do the third section.

I found it easier, and you might, too, to work from memory if you cover up or fold back the line you just wrote. That way, you aren’t tempted to copy it out from what you can read, or to do so automatically when you zone out. It allows for more mistakes, but also works your brain harder, instead of being pointless busywork.
On the second day, I decided to let mistakes lie. In the first place, it helps my rhythm, and in the second, I’m copying this out fifty damn times. It’s not like I won’t get another chance at it. I also switched venues (to my favorite coffee shop) and did my meditating beforehand. Ten minutes of anapana put me in a mind to focus, and I found that my attention held for a lot longer on the task at hand and wasn’t so quick to jump away.

I also fiddled a bit with the ACBD sequence. At one point, while I was very bored, I accidentally wrote ZY XWVU … you know, I started it backwards. All of a sudden, I had to figure out the sequence in reverse while I was writing it. That got me interested! I set aside the last fifteen lines for playing around with it, both ZY XWVU and ZXYW. Reversing and resetting revived and kept my interest, even while I was writing it out forwards. I also felt ‘brain-crunch’ when I did it, my mind was actively working it out instead of passively copying.

Yesterday, I also sat down with Session A in Memory Master. At the top of the page is this quote:

“Training your memory is a little like fighting a boggart. You have to fight silly.”

I was able to remember the given list backwards and forwards a few minutes later, half an hour later, and this morning, all without referring to the document. I found it easier to work backwards in the first test, and I suggest you try it: When you’re done putting the list (or any other list) together, start at the end and walk backwards through your associations.

Also while I was at the café, I kept clocking the room. I didn’t keep count, but I think I got about half of the things I was looking for (gender, or what color their coats were) each time. Sometimes, borrowing a page from Lorayne, I looked at the same table again, and asked a different question (“so all their jackets are black. Fine. What are they drinking?”)

How about you? What have you noticed about your practice?


About R. Jean Mathieu

They say he speaks five languages, was conceived on a chess board, and once seduced a tong boss' daughter and lived to tell the tale. All we know is, he's called Roscoe. You can find more scurrilous lies at and buy his books at View all posts by R. Jean Mathieu

2 responses to “Roscoe Learns to Think – ‘Well Begun is Half-Done’

  • Wraith

    I have noticed that meditation is terribly hard for me just now. My brain is all over the place, and relaxing it enough to set aside thoughts is an effort.

  • rmathieu

    Join the club. 😛

    Seriously, I had a pretty good sit yesterday, but this morning I didn’t really focus on my breath for even a breath until eight minutes into my ten minute meditation. Keep with it, though.

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