Sensory Checklist


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Author: Mattanaw, Christopher Matthew Cavanaugh

Former Chief Architect, Adobe Systems

Current President/Advisor, Social Architects and Economists International.




The purpose of this document is to provide a process for managing sensory information, which connects with the larger attention management process. Recently, I’ve attached my health checklist to my attentional management process steps to ensured practiced relaxation, and in extension to this, wanted to include special focus on immediate environment and stressors. It is possible to invoke this process whenever it is recognized that it might be needed or may be useful, in any activity wakefully performed. This sensory process is one that began as a development upon training using the attention process, for managing environment specifically. The first utilization of this process was mentally/verbally while at a gym in Waitara, New Zealand, and is an outgrowth of earlier thoughts about controlling internal and external stimulation. Stimulation in one’s environment relates to each of our varioius sensory systems and can be desirable or undesirable, on spectra. The process is to go through each of your senses, including what is seen, heard, smelled, felt, to think carefully about what is experienced. What is desirable may be retained and enhanced, or continued, while what is undesirable may be transformed, blocked, discontinued, shifed, or otherwise managed. Hearing tends to be the sense that has the most unwanted stimulus in my experience, and there are fewer easy controls. For this reason hearing is a sense of greater interest. All of what is sensed may be managed and controlled with an environment shift. Change of environment immediately changes much of what is sensed. Outside of this process which is more for controlling experiences within an activity underway, is the larger change of stimulation for improved learning and lifestyle, which is part of a larger attentional process on spatial position. Writing on this can be found in Imagination and Filtration: Higher Order Attention.

This process, like the others, may be recorded in narrative form (an real-world example can be found here, but they can also be expressed in diagrams, verbal recipe form, pseudo-code, or actual working computer code or program. For clarity, as this process is developed, it will be shared in a number of these formats.

Example in the very first usage:

(Attentional Management Process Underway, recognizing activity of boxing for fitness, with usage of health/stress checklist, with this sensory checklist added for environment awareness/mindfulness and management).

Later after this process was reflected upon in retrospect, it was recognized that smell was undeveloped for controls, as was taste. I decided that I would take steps to ensure I’m utilizing taste and smell more to change focus and also to increase the pleasantness of my environments.

It can be noted that the above process clearly can have an activity diagram representation which includes step by step thoughts for each sense, with queestions about the environment to be answered, and options for ways to alter or change environments. I use a mnemonic of the attentional management process or simply remember the corresponding activity diagram. These processes always have potential for being written in alternative form with programming strucutres. Pseudocode can be used for help in writing programs in all languages, or to provide a similar written guide, or a language can be chosen, and a working program or game can be used. If someone is having trouble resolving environment related issues, a game may be utilized to provide ways to improve the environment or otherwise find options to control harmful aspects, or otherwise shift environments (find someplace else to be with better sensory expriences).

Again, this process is a development on the health/stress checklist, the attentional management process, and the plan to improve ability to manage stimulation quality coming from the outside environment. I used it while doing boxing, but this idea was more specifically thought in relation to finding distractions or learning resources, which are either of my creation, or of a good quality from someone else. If I were in another activity, like one of enjoying entertainment during rest and rejuvenation, I would utilize it potentially to either switch to entertainment I’ve created or cultivated, or switch to entertainmetn sources associated with research questions of interest or sources that are trusted for prefiltering content. In other words, I like best what my own mind creates for stimulation. Sometimes I’m too tired to think creatively for my own learning and enjoyment, and so can instead use something I’ve creatd already instead. If I do not for example read my own writings, then another further option is to read writings I’ve cultivated, or alternatively, watch videos on playlists I’ve made, or listen to music. I could alternatively sing to myself or exercise some skills which are enjoyable and self-entertaining. If still I am unwilling or unmotivated I may switch to passive entertainment from the creations of others. A good option is to follow on resarch questions and watch videos on YouTube which offer a combination of learning opportunities and good unexpected entertainment. If I do not wish to guide myself with research questions or YouTube searches, I can utilize channels or sources which provide the content to me, choosing for me intitially, in a way that more reliably gives me what I would anticipate I would like. This would be known sources that pre-filter content for quality and enable me to divert choices to others who choose well. If these sources are unavailable, or I’m wanting something more spontaneous and random, to have something from the world more unexpected, I may choose a movie, or watch television which may include more advertisements and unexpected shows. This last option is for when thinking is wanted minimally, and perhaps updates about what others are perhaps doing is wanted. News television and watching of popular programming gives some passive opportunity for updates as to current events and fashions, and exposure to what is of interest to others. This is sometiems desirable but is considered somethign to control for in terms of frequency, as being also harmful in many ways, and overall the loweest quality among options to be had for enjoying an environment, or learning stimulation.

Sensory Process - Text Format

The current method employed in the sensory process is to quickly utilize each specific method in order to ensure that all methods are immediately available if there is a need. Each method, or subprocess, is one that can be used, and was used initially, independently of the others. However, it was found that having each available for quick application or practice is much more effective. All must be quickly used to make sure they are available in memory as tools, otherwise, there is some difficulty finding them when there is a need. This arrangement is similar to those arrangements in which a specific mnemonic process is used, or a written reminder, when it doesn’t seem each can be quickly grabbed for use more directly. The attention management process, uses the same method. It appears more generally direct or automatic/habituated recall is most effective of all, and nearly as effective is using a mnemonic tool while training, and less effective still is practice using a written list.

For each item below, a pair of stimuli are located. Focus is quickly attained and locked onto. Alternation between each stimulus is practiced, to create rapid transitions between stimuli and strong concentration and interest. Only some level of concentration and interest is needed for it to be really effective, but intenser interest and concentration has the best benefits.

Going one at a time, at least two stimuli in each category of sensory system and perception is found, and alternated. Initially, two for each part of each sensory system, available and created. Availability of external stimuli ease productions of those stimuli: they are already there and are not going to be inaccessible. They will be present. Created stimuli allow to add to an environment, when those items in the environment may get boring, or are hard to focus on, or are hard to utilize or locate (faint sounds in a quiet setting may be difficult to use compared with easy vocalizations, for example. Externally available sounds have unlimited quantity considered together. Created sounds require effort and this is not unlimited. Moreover, it is harder to use the process later, if ease is not achieved by using available sounds that require no effort to have.

After practicing or each main category, with available and created stimuli, with successful alternation and successful effects on attention and avoidance of distraction, alternation is done simultaneously with differing categories. I.e., one alternates between visuals and sounds with focus and concentration on each. This allows for increasing attentional dedication from things unwanted to what are these objects of concentration. More available sensory system is allocated to these things until remaining sensory system is minimally pulling attention elsewhere. For example, if you are intensely focused on alternating between contrasting things of interest in a room, and at the same time, are alternating between separate sound groupings in the same room, then less of what is auditory and visual can be used for anything else, implying that better attention is realized. However intrusive sounds and smells and movements can still be perceived, just to a decreasing extent. This is known from the experience of highly focused work in which one is really absorbed, but not so absorbed that nothing could take attention if intrusive enough.

While one is doing the above, or just after, as one is actively using it instead of merely getting “set up” or “practiced” for using for the goals and desired effects that create the rationale for doing the process, other pieces can be intermixed making the experience better, more pleasant, more effective when distractions are strong or unexpectedly powerful, and so on. This is the use of basic humor which can be very simply added with a slight smile, improvement of breathing so there is greater relaxation, useful pieces of already practiced meditation that fits, use of fun skills which create interest easily, and playing dead, and achieving “spacey gazes or stares”. These are all useful “add-ins” that have temporary benefits, but so usable in the whole process that practice is done to create more pervasive influence:

Once this is done really effectively, it should be much easier to do it effortlessly, automatically, or with an obvious effect on immunity to distractions. Once this is done easily, it can be combined with the general attentional management process, which utilizes the verbal mind for thinking about life-categories, relationships of these categories, and mental productions and planning. In other words, it can be combined with simply thinking about things one wants to think about. These things that one wants to think about fit into the attentional management process, as it has already been shown it is a complete process for all activities and behaviors, and thoughts one may have (including spontaneous or free thinking).