Traveling, Visions, and Planning

This month I’ve done a lot of traveling in airplanes. I’ve gone from Santa Cruz to Colorado, to Orange County (for a libertarian seminar), back to Colorado, and this Saturday I’ll be going back to Santa Cruz. In July I’ll be flying to Las Vegas for a Conscious Growth Workshop. I’ve found these travel days to be perfect for evaluating my life, planning and goal setting. Traveling is a natural transition period. I see these times as an opportunity to prepare to do my best in the following weeks. While traveling on an airplane I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to Philosopher’s notes, which are 20 minute mp3 summaries of one hundred of the most popular self-improvement books. After reading or listening, I’ll often have a flash of inspiration of how I can apply the wisdom in the books to my own life, and I will get out my journal and write. Today I had my weekly goals in front of me, with my to-do’s for the day, but I was still feeling unmotivated. I decided to envision myself at the airport, ready to leave for Santa Cruz. I asked myself: “How do I feel after achieving everything I wanted this last week?” I came up with this list: I am physically fit, having done cardio, yoga, abs, and upper body weight training. I feel closer to Jim, having connected with him while in Colorado. I have clarity on what I desire, having written daily in my Journal. I have published another blog, and have started writing three other rough drafts. I have made connections with yoga teachers and massage therapists in Breckenridge, having interviewed them about their career. I feel inspired to create, having journaled ideas for videos and other content for my website. I feel refreshed, having gone hiking in nature and enjoying the fresh mountain air in Colorado. I feel excited to start massage school, having researched and read blogs about the massage profession. Now I have more clarity on what I desire, and I feel more motivated to accomplish my goals by the time I’m on an airplane again. This new perspective of envisioning myself at the airport, or this place of transition, has given me another way of creating goals and visions for myself. Not only do I create goals when I’m at the airport, but when I become bored or lazy I can reinforce them by envisioning how I would like to feel when I’m at my next “transition point”. On your next flight, see if you can envision how you will feel at your next transition point (when everything goes as you desire).

10 Day Vipassana Meditation Course

Sit, breathe naturally, and keep your attention on that breath. How can something so easy, be so difficult in practice? just sit down, relax, and observe. Don’t judge, analyze, predict, worry, wish, or imagine. Just observe. The technique taught at the 10 day meditation retreat was Vipassana, the technique the Buddha used to achieve enlightenment. The first three days were spent developing concentration and mastery over the mind (Samadhi) by keeping your attention confined to the area around your nostrils. Attention was placed on the normal, uncontrolled breath, and how it felt to have slightly colder air flow in, and slightly warmer air flow out. After that we were taught the main technique, which is to scan your entire body and observe sensation without judgment. You observe pain in your back, just feel it and go to the next sensation. You shouldn’t tell yourself “I wish my back didn’t hurt” or try and skip past certain parts of your body. This new habit of observing sensations without reacting to them is practiced so that when you go back to your regular life, you’ll be less likely to react as strongly in anger, depression, or craving. The Buddha’s teachings were fairly simple. He believed in order for people to find true happiness they have to live a moral life (Sila), have mastery over the mind (Samadhi), and wisdom that all experiences are temporary (Panya). Vipassana allows you to practice and experience first hand the transitory nature of sensations. When you are meditating you can notice that you have an itching sensation on your face, but if you don’t react to it, the itch will eventually pass away. The Buddha taught that this arising and passing away occurs with all sensations, and that we shouldn’t become attached to any outcome and accept the present moment. You can learn more about the philosophy of Vipassana meditation and the rules of conduct for the 10 day course at The schedule throughout each day includes 10 hours of meditation, 4 hours of rest and meal time and an hour and a half video discourse at night. You weren’t allowed to talk to any of the other meditators in the course or to write anything down. This is a pretty rigorous schedule, especially for someone’s who’s a beginning meditator. The Facilities I went to Dhamma Manda in the small northern California county of Kelseyville. The center is fairly new, being finished in 2008, and the service was great. The food was a well rounded vegan delight. A mix of Indian curries and Esalen style dishes filled the table for lunch. In the meditation hall I was having difficulty sitting on the floor without back support. I told the manager and he gave me a back-jack to use during the course. There were hiking trails outside of the meditation hall that you could walk on during breaks. Since I went in the summer the afternoons were nice and warm and the forest was scattered with insects. There were beetles, spiders, caterpillars, ants, lizards, and birds. Being in such an environment with nature is very rewarding for a meditation retreat. What I got out of the experience There were times when I would sit, and would have to bring my attention back to the breath 100 times in one hour. I learned how to be at peace with the wandering mind instead being frustrated and trying to force the mind to be quiet. Once I accepted that, the thoughts were still there, but they were in the background, and weren’t monopolizing my attention. I found I could truly relax my body and just sit and breathe, without “trying” to sit. I learned how meditation is a practice, and I should enjoy the path instead of becoming attached to any goal of a quiet mind, or enlightenment. I have to accept wherever I am in my practice, whether it is quietly sitting focused for an hour or I have to bring my attention back to the breath 100 times. Why go to a 10 day Vipassana Course? So why should you desire to wake up at 4am and spend 10 hours of your day sitting and observing yourself? Some of my reasons here were to discipline myself and have mastery over my mind. Through meditation I can calm my mind and become more focused and efficient when I go out into this world. I also wanted to become more present in every moment. In this course you are asked to be constantly in a meditative state, when you walk in between sessions you should notice the feeling of every step, the wind on your face, the touch of cloth to your skin. For 10 days you are asked to keep your awareness in your body without judging any sensation as good or bad. I will be going to massage school this next month and I plan to use this technique before class to increase my awareness of my body. Then when I receive the technique we’re learning, I’ll be more present and able to feel it completely. I recommend this to anyone who wants more peace in their life, and who’s willing to work dilligently and patiently for it. I would recommend you greatly discipline your mind before hand, especially if this will be your first meditation retreat. This can be achieved by waking up at 5am and running or exercising for an hour, eating a vegan diet, meditating for an hour a day, and/or including any other habits you would like to create. This self-discipline will make the samadhi or “mastery of the mind” part of the meditation course much easier. Keep working dilligently, persistently, and patiently and you’re bound to be successful, bound to be successful.

Weekly Goals

Here’s a follow up to my time management article to show personal examples of my weekly goals sheets and time management sheets. These were two of my busiest back to back weeks in May. I was editing and finalizing a basketball training DVD, I had 40 hour work weeks at the event center with three 13+ hour work days, and I had to study for finals on top of that. This made me very busy, but I was able to stay relaxed and calm. I still had enough time to eat healthy, exercise, and have some time in meditation. My social interaction became limited to people who were focusing on achieving the same goals, which came in the form of coworkers discussing work and study groups with class mates.

This month I’ve had a focus on creating a vision for myself. These two weeks I had a focus on visions of my future career.

I also color code my weekly schedule, blue for work, green for personal growth activities(yoga, meditation), yellow for school, and orange for studying and tests. Then I can quickly scan my week and see what days I’m working, and which days I need to add a little more green 😉

My weekly to-do’s and habits were essential to my success. Every morning I would look at my goal sheet and work schedule and figure out what I could accomplish that day. I also made sure to fit in meditation and yoga time so that my body and mind would stay rejuvenated.

My habits of meditation and creating daily to-do lists worked out perfectly these weeks. I started putting a + or a – each day based on if I accomplished the habit or not. This gave me more responsibility to follow through on what I planned.

My habits are things that are very important to me, like reading, yoga, and meditation, but that don’t have short term practical application. My To-do list is comprised of things that are urgent, but not necessarily important to my growth. This is a similar way to looking at time management as shown in the 7 habits of highly effective people.

I hope you found this read to be a good use of your time.

Visions for Clarity

In my weekly goals I’ve been making for myself, I’ve started trying the daily habit of creating a visions of my future. Each week I’ve had a different focus, like career, education/learning and peaceful life visions. These have been great at allowing me to feel what it would be like to be a massage therapist, to live in Hawaii on a farm, or to go to the perfect college. This helps open my mind to different options, and then I can have all my visions in front of me and ask myself: “What do I want to make true next?” For me it is going to massage school in July and August and becoming a massage therapist in Santa Cruz. So here’s an example of my yoga teacher/massage therapist career vision. I am a role model for physical health. I do yoga daily, I eat a healthy raw/vegan diet and I receive massage at least once a week. My clients are mostly gay men who are interested in being healthier and have goals and visions for all aspects of their lives. I show them yoga routines and give massage. I also hold a weekly meditation group with friends and clients. I have a blog where I share my goals and experiences in finding my purpose and improving my self. I join a vegan cooking group and have pot lucks with them. I create or join a support group of massage therapists who discuss business, personal, and life issues around being a massage therapist. We have topics on how to create a welcoming atmosphere at your studio, how to build a good website, ect. I give a short lecture on the topic and we have a discussion group afterwords. I have a small group of close friends and many business associates. I have plenty of time to myself for journaling, meditation, reading, music and relaxation. I take periodic vacations and spiritual retreats in nature by myself or with others. I made sure to include social activities because I want to create a close social circle of growth minded friends in the summer. My class size in massage school will be between 5 and 15 students, so I will be able to get to know them all pretty well. I also made sure to allow time for myself for meditation, yoga, journaling, because my alone time is very important to me. So now I have this vision statement, and even if only half of these visions come true, I’ll be a much happier and fulfilled person. If I ever look at this vision and notice it isn’t bringing up a great feeling of passion and motivation for me, I can change it, add different aspects to it, or throw it out and make a whole new one. If your visions don’t inspire you and leave you feeling good after reading them, change them. It’s also essential to keep an open mind and heart when reading and writing your visions. When writing don’t limit yourself to what you accomplish in your vision. Don’t say “oh well, that would be nice, but I’d never have enough money” or any other excuse, then you are using your own power to stop yourself from achieving your goals. If you’re passionate, persistent, and self-disciplined you’ll eventually reach your goals and manifest your visions.

Urban Disconnect

Poem I wrote about living downtown: Alone in the Crowd City streets filled to the brim people have a goal, a place to be Ants scrambling, see others as obstacles I stand, try to make contact All look down, ears plugged, mind gone Loud nights, poisoned patrons laughing/fighting Mind numbing intoxication Is this the way to relate, connect, commune? Where am I? Why do I feel alone in the crowd. Poem about meditation and thoughts: Mind Flurries Thoughts run from one to another feelings bubble up inside search inside for peace of mind Need it, want it, find it, have it Become complete in one more day massage, retreat, vacation, practice seeking enlightenment in the future Realize you’re already there No need to search, just observe In one moment Nothing to learn

Goals and Ambitions

Blog and Sharing Creativity I am writing a blog to express myself fully without fear of failure, and to help push me to succeed in my goals. I’ll be posting original music, short films, my philosophies on life, and sharing my interests and aspirations. I hope to encourage others to follow their goals, and connect with people who have similar interests. Waking up early I will wake up at 6am every morning in order to meditate, do yoga, play music, and visualize my day before I go to work or school. This gives me a productive start to each day and helps me with creating good habits. This also helps me to strengthen my discipline, because I will be waking up at 6am every morning, whether or not I have school or work. My habits before creating this goal were to wake up between 7:30am – 10:00am, depending on when I had to be somewhere, and I would just get ready and then surf the internet until I had to leave. The second part of this goal is to be asleep before 11pm. This is already a habit I have, I just used to sleep 10 or 11 hours, and now I’ll sleep 8 or 9. If I’m successful with waking up at 6am every morning for a month, I may try waking up at 5am. Exercise Stretching is essential for me in the morning. I have naturally tight muscles, and if I don’t stretch I get back pain. So now I will do Yoga and Stretching every morning. I will go to Group Yoga every Wednesday, and once on the weekend. I’ve also joined a couple hiking groups in Santa Cruz and San Jose. Later this month there will be an intense hike at Pinnacles state park which I am getting ready for. Play and Create Music I’m going to make a habit of practicing my bass guitar and drums every morning for at least half an hour. I will record both original and cover songs and upload them online bi-weekly. I’ll meet more people who play music and jam with them. Meditation I will meditate 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes before bed every day. I am signed up for a Vipassana 10 day meditation retreat in June. This will help to prepare me. I’ve also joined a meditation group in Downtown San Jose.

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