Criterion velocity and samadhi

By Dr. Keith Witt
January 4, 2023
We navigate the present moment through our accumulated learning, habits, intentions, and evolutionary drives responding to other people and the world. We have instincts to create expectations and associations, to feel pleasure and pain, and to move eagerly toward or eagerly away from everything. Our subjective sense of the rate we make progress towards a goal is our criterion velocity. More specifically, it’s the ratio for perceived progress over expectation of progress. Ideally the ratio is 1—expected progress equals perceived progress. Essentially any progress becomes satisfactory progress when our criterion velocity is 1. If we’re generally satisfied with our criterion velocity in most pursuits, we expect success either sooner or later and enjoy the process. If we’re dissatisfied with our criterion velocity, we expect faster progress, resent problems, anticipate failure, all the while feeling frustrated with our rate of progress. The trap of having a criterion velocity of less than one—we don’t feel our progress ever meets our expectations—is that we can continually improve while always experiencing dissatisfaction. Hunger to improve can easily be a part of satisfaction with progress (criterion velocity of 1), but we are much more satisfied and less frustrated with ourselves. As we adjust expectations to radical acceptance of what is, effort and progress are always satisfactory, and our criterion velocity is almost always 1. Radical acceptance plus the subjective sense of progress is relaxing and liberating. It also leads consistently to positive outcomes in how we perform and how we feel. This dynamic is very like one of the classic recipes for happiness—expect everything to be exactly as it is. That being said, “Everything” is always changing, and we constantly influence our changing world and people we encounter, just as the people and changing world constantly influence us. The criterion velocity of any project, goal, or process emerges naturally as we direct ourselves to progress in any direction. How I feel about expectations matching progress shapes my self-esteem and self-acceptance. These are feelings about feelings—meta-emotions. Having meta-emotions of satisfaction and radical acceptance of our emotional starts and any amount of progress feels pretty wonderful! Satisfaction with effort and progress moves the perceived progress over expected progress ration towards 1. Which brings us to samadhi. Feeling radical acceptance is the core of samadhi—fully present and one with all the states and stages in the known universe. Radical acceptance, radical gratitude, radical love—criterion velocity of 1.

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