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Strong agree with not using "the hard way." Not a big fan.

Automate the Boring Stuff isn't bad. But I think the best, direct-path/deliberate practice resource for general Python capability is Pybites ( + Anki. There are 300-400 exercises (with a browser interpreter) that require you to solve problems without them handholding or instructing you (so it's like LeetCode but for actual programming capability, not just algorithm puzzles). Everything requires you to read documentation or Google effectively, and they're all decent, realistic use cases. There are also specific paths (like testing, decorators & context management, etc.) that are covered in the exercises.

My procedure:

  • Finish at least the Easy and at least half the Mediums for each relevant path.
  • If you learned something new, put it into Anki (I put the whole Pybite into a card and make a cloze-completion for the relevant code--I then have to type it for reviews).
  • Finish the rest of the Pybites (which will be an unordered mix of topics that includes the remaining Mediums and Hards for each of the learning paths, plus miscellaneous).
  • IMO, you will now actually be a solid low-intermediate Python generalist programmer, though of course you will need to learn lots of library/specialty-specific stuff in your own area.

Regarding distribution, there's also the potential to permanently knock out our electronics and power grid with a high-altitude detonation and resultant EMP waves:

If you knock out the solenoids in all our vehicles as well as the power grid and other electronics, it will be very hard to move that stored food anywhere, and most people will probably starve.

Just a quick note for anyone considering this course based on this review: I'm currently taking this course and am almost finished (I'll write my own report later). I too haven't become "awakened" or even had any nondual experiences, but I've nevertheless had benefits (somatic, awareness, positive valence).

However, if you are looking for something that is more loving-kindness/metta focused, 45DaysToAwakening (it's no longer called the Finder's Course) no longer makes that a big focus; indeed, it's one of the few optional parts of the course, and it doesn't emphasize as much as the "nose exercises" OP mentions.

If you are looking for something more along those lines, TWIM (Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation) is probably better, as it is pretty much entirely focused on metta. It regularly seems to have the highest success rate and the most benefits according to people on r/streamentry, which is a subreddit of fairly serious meditation practitioners. The materials are also free:

One of the most powerful exercises for me in TWIM was similar in flavor to what OP describes. One simply repeats the mantra "I forgive myself for not understanding," and as things come to mind (and they will) it can become incredibly powerful in terms of generating things you have judged yourself for, releasing those, building self-love, and also developing a new, regenerated desire to live according to what you value.

That's entirely possible. It actually appears that the ancient Stoics actually used something like this shoulder advisor technique. IIRC, Donald Robertson (prominent writer on Stoicism) actually suggested that Marcus wrote his journal entries as a way to model one of his own deceased Stoic teachers.

I myself have been working on trying to create a shoulder advisor based on the Meditations, but it's been slow going. I was actually inspired several months back by the recent popularity of tulpamancy, not all of which I buy into but which seems to have some interesting techniques along these lines.