"The Dice Club" is a sledgehammer approach to mindfulness meditation. This chapter is a special one, because it not only presents an extremely unorthodox approaching to tapping one's infinite potential, but it's also the reason this book exists in the first place.
There are no two ways about it, In Pursuit of Weightlessness was born of the die. And what Weightlessness has become can be traced back to unlikely chances taken ten years ago, when the die told me to write chapter one.
The die represents limitless opportunity and the whims and passions of alternative versions of you. When you give them life, for even a short time, not only do ripples of potentiality spring and compound across your life, but life itself shines a little brighter... as if anew.
One night, Michael, hero of the section From "Businessman to Beast", threw a curve ball at our typical post-martial arts training beer and burger session, during which we normally discussed everything from philosophy to business development. He wanted us to introduce dicing for a more aggressive approach to living and for the expression of minority selves.
After delving into the principles and efficacy of mindfulness, as we are sometimes guilty of after a beer or two, he told me that a decade earlier he’d spent two years living his life at the roll of a die after reading the disturbingly profound Diceman by Luke Rhinehart. The book details the autobiographical exploits of a man who makes every decision possible based on the roll of a die.
After his conversion to the religion of the die, Michael was your run- of-the-mill businessman by day, and hipster chaos pilot by night. He found himself dicing on grandiose as well as menial life choices. The rolls made him fast for days, direct work projects, scheme his way through the underbelly of Amsterdam, have conversations with jazz pianists on the meaning of life, and slam drinks with Russian models. A Tuesday evening might involve spring-cleaning or it might involve cigars and whiskey. Nothing was predetermined. His fate was dictated by the whim of the die.
Perhaps the biggest inhibitor of effective meditation is the inability of many to view the present independently of the biased perspectives of the ego. More often than not, even the decision to sit and meditate, to practice a state of egoless, selfless perception, is ego-driven. It is a paradox that requires depth of insight or diligent practice to bypass. In the beginning, almost everyone falls into this trap.
One of the most effective ways to bypass this self-sabotage is to embrace randomness and roll the die. At any moment, there are a multitude of possible actions, but our minds consciously or unconsciously reduce our options to a few rational choices, as most possibilities seem to have little benefit or relevance. At our beer and burger dice evenings, I could at any point attempt a headstand on the table, smash my beer glass, ask the attractive girl at the bar for her phone number; there’s an infinite number of possibilities. But a lifetime of conditioning removes these real options from my plausible action list.
So why should you care?
Because we don’t know what’s really good for us!
Because we perceive many options as irrelevant, our minds ignore real options in favor of engaging in common conversation, listening to music, compulsively checking our phones. Every option ignored, every impulse denied, is the suppression of another side of you, a minority self. These alternative possibilities often harbor the greatest chance for a profound experience of the present, not to mention upward mobility in life (through real option creation).
These alternative possibilities are poignant vehicles for uniting with the present with a full and open mind, much in the same way that getting lost in a foreign country results in fresh experiences and vivid, unforgettable memories. These possibilities are also infinite. Your habitual self is limited to those thoughts and actions most consistent with your identity, with who you think you are. If you shatter that reflexive mirror of self you realize the freedom and power of not being you, if even for a short time. This allows you for brief stints to be the well-connected millionaire, the prolific writer, the disciplined athlete, the dedicated parent, the selfless partner.
By embracing randomness, you stop living by an ego-driven formula.
The similarities between mindfulness meditation and dice rolling as practices of nonjudgmental awareness and unconditioned experiences of the present are undeniable. Yet they are extremely different activities. I’ve never seen a monk roll a die. I’ve never seen a gambler breathe deeply and watch indifferently as snake eyes materialize. But mindfulness practice and committing to randomness both give rise to curiosity, passion, and innocence.
The connection was so strong that dice rolling became a mind-liberating tool on par with our weekly meditation sessions. We did beer and dice on Friday at a local microbrew pub and serene and conscientious introspection on Sunday morning at Enso Temple. They became inextricably linked as our mild curiosities grew into a lifestyle practice. We became dicemen.
We began showing up to beer and burger nights with lists of wants, dreams, and curiosities. All of them were things we’d like to do or think would make us better people, but for reasons of self-conscious inhibition, busyness, or laziness simply hadn’t made a priority.
Occasionally we included spontaneous musings or gave expression to our minority selves.
Those selves might not be concerned with the greater good, but were tickled by the possibility of picking a fight, skipping out on a bill, eating ten eggs a day, or punishing tiresome habits with absurdly irrelevant penalties. All options were usually given weight on the die, although some options were given unequal weight if the compulsion to try them was exceedingly strong.
And then the die was rolled. The number that appeared would dictate our assignment for the week to come. Because we made a game of the things of life, we could approach large tasks without the fear of failure or success. After all, it was just a game. We each broke down barriers and mental blocks, and accomplished tasks we’d thought would take months or years to complete in just one week.
This process was aided by our strict penalty system of five hundred push-ups or a kamikaze tequila on all failed missions. For those of you fortunate enough not to know, a kamikaze tequila requires you to snort the salt, drink the shot, and then squirt the lemon in your eye. It’s fucking insane and has spurred me to success on several difficult challenges, for fear of going blind or getting brain damage. Michael, on the other hand, likes that shit from time to time and treats it as a cure-all vaccine that makes the rest of life seem pretty pleasant.
“Remember,” started Michael one Friday evening. His eyes were ablaze and his abdomen was slushing with microbrew. “Remember when you were young, how time seemed to stand still? You’d wake up in the morning and the day was a gift of opportunities. Limitless. So much fun to be had. The idea of a week – what couldn’t be done in a week, which was made up of seven of these long days of limitless potential? To think of what you could do in a month, or a season, that much time, it was unfathomable.”
“Absolutely,” I said.
“We’ve forgotten the value of time. We ignore the freedom of opportunity and instead fill time with heavy breathing and frustration. But remember when you were young. Time and the choice of options it gave you was awesome. So here, tonight, I humbly submit a new category of dice rolling: the category Awesome. We must give awesome a chance so that we can complete a challenge that for all intents and purposes seems totally impossible within a week’s time. We embrace that bright-eyed hopefulness of our youth, and make a game of life again. If we fail, we fail at a game undertaken with passion and lighthearted optimism. In all likelihood, however, we’ll make tremendous headway in a short time toward goals we perceived as vastly out of reach. If we succeed, well, awesome!"
Thus began the category Awesome, and a series of chance-given accomplishments that both of us, once we discarded the fear of failure, knocked down and mastered in just a week’s time. Mind you, these were assignments that we believed were well out of reach and impossible to accomplish in a week. One assignment was the completion of my soft weapons curriculum, a comprehensive curriculum of whipping, shooting, grappling, throwing, choking, and pinning with the use of innocuous soft things like belts, ties, sashes, and chains. It was a project I believed would take me another five to ten years to formalize. I finished it in one grueling week of research, analyzing techniques accrued over a decade of soft weapons training and personal reflection.
Michael’s own attempt to reduce his body fat percentage from 17 percent to 10 percent in three months, as well as his first seven-figure contract, were given a chance on the die, rolled for in successive one-week challenges, and accomplished with passionate focus and curiosity. We completed subsequent goals with an unwavering commitment to follow that number on top, no matter what it represented.
The book you are reading right now was also born of the die. It was one of several options on my weekly list a mere four months ago, one I was deathly afraid of rolling. The book was also the recipient of consecutive dice rolls for the following several weeks purely by chance, causing a catharsis of pent-up passion and creativity.
In Pursuit of Weightlessness was born of the die.
As much as the creative spirit shirks the confines of pressure and limitation, more often than not the crystalline sparkle of passion is refined under pressure and stress. A diamond is the hardest natural substance known to man. It is pure, clear, concentrated carbon, refined by extremely high pressure in the Earth’s mantle.
Pressure, when embraced with that lighthearted curiosity of non-competition, leads to profound creative expression. You become youthful again, challenging your older brother to a game of basketball, knowing very well that you stand no chance of winning, but challenging him nonetheless. Why? Because maybe, just maybe, this time is different. Should you fail, well, you bug him until you have another chance.
But if you win, well... awesome!
Now, it isn’t the fact that these tasks were accomplished that makes this method so brilliant, although I imagine it could be used as a powerful tool for corporate productivity. What makes it so spectacular is that the game brings excitement back to mundane tasks and challenges. It assumes imperfect knowledge. It assumes that there may be experiences worth having and lives worth living that are not self-directed or well understood.
Consequently, embracing uncertainty and treating the stuff of life as a mere game naturally awakens a very mindful state of processual awareness. Not all tasks resulted in noteworthy results, but every task resulted in an educational process marked by the vitality and energy of youth. We began to paint the canvases of our selves.
Thanks for reading!
Tom Fazio | Owner & Coach @ Weightlessness | Mind Body Performance Coaching
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The Weightlessness Process 12 Week Mind-Body Transformation