As the When Then Zen project attempts to extract techniques out of esoteric sources
In order to make these accessible to people who don't subscribe to metaphysical views
Given an open mind and a willingness to learn
And the willingness to try things that may lead you out of your comfort zone
When you read the features in this repository
Then this document contains terms and plain English definitions.

This project aims to target the average software developer, and as such terms such as stateful and side effects will be used.


Meditation is some action that improves state of being somehow, be it by a specific kind of relaxation method or other generic work to improve well being. There are many different methods of meditation, some of them are explained in ways that are clearer or less clearer for outsiders to understand.

This definition is incredibly vague, but intentionally so. This is because meditation itself is kind of a nebulous concept. This project intends to remove a lot of the barriers to understanding meditation methods, but every person will end up creating their own method based on parts of others combined.

Side Effects

Side effects are the events that happen as a result of state-changing actions in programs. An example of a side effect is printing data to the standard out file descriptor.


State is effectively equivalent to human memory in the context of computer programs. An example JavaScript program that manages state follows:

// number is set to zero
let number = 0;

// number is incremented to one
number = number + 1;

// prints `1`

The variable named number is the state of this code.

The Body

The body refers to the body that you, the reader, are currently living inside. This guide to meditation takes the stance that a person has some kind of inner core essence of some kind (of which is largely irrelevant for the explanation of the majority of the techniques in this repository, any features that actually do benefit from those metaphors to explain the technique will have the metaphor and a detailed explanation as to what the metaphor is signifying and how to understand it).

This helps when explaining anapana meditation among other things, referring to the body in the third person sets a sort of "soft" expectation that something else is controlling the breathing. The thing that is controlling the breathing (likely your subconscious) doesn't matter, just the fact that SOMETHING is.