Mind mapping and Brainstorms

I’ve been creating Mind maps to let all of my thoughts on a subject out of my head. I’ve used it for my speech I gave for Toastmasters, for blog ideas, for ideas on redesigning my website, and other projects that I’m working on. For me a mind map looks like a spider web brainstorm on a topic. You put the main topic in the middle (like “Vacation to Hawaii”) and then draw lines going to different ideas on the subject (Places to stay, beaches to visit, hikes, ect) and then from those ideas you write more detailed about those subjects (Places to stay → Friends house in Waipio Valley, Brothers farm, Vacation home in Puna). I’ve enjoyed the freedom that it gives me to write non-linear. I can start a random tangent by drawing another line from the circle, or I can go back and elaborate on something I wrote on earlier. I can let my critical mind take the back seat as I flow and write whatever comes to mind. Associations come up, random thoughts come up, and by the end of writing I have much more information and content than if I had tried to write in a linear (A, B, C, D) kind of way. One limitation that I’ve experienced with this way of brainstorming is how it can be difficult to find enough space to write what you want. Once I’ve finished a mind map the page will be crowded and littered. I have to review it within a couple days so that I’ll be able to remember what I was writing. Organizing all of the information is difficult as well, because I don’t want to lose information that might be useful later. I’ve learned to pick and choose what is relevant, and file the rest into a reference folder or throw it away. Here is an example of how I do my mind maps. Each bubble off of the center is an idea for articles to write, and ways to create content for my blog. I’ll spend between 15-30 minutes on one mind map. After I’ve completed it I can see what areas have the most content and ideas. For these ideas where the words keep on flowing I will change gears after my brainstorm(within a few days), and start typing up ideas from the mind map on that one topic. I will write as much as I can about the topic, staying in the free associating right brain. After I have some content I bring in my critical mind, and observe what is truly useful. I edit, cut, replace, rewrite, and rethink my writing until I have a final product. This last section can take between 30 minutes to 3 hours or more depending on the length and depth of the content involved. Other than brainstorming blog ideas, what other ways can mind mapping be useful? It can be great for thinking of how you want to redesign your bathroom, the activities on your next vacation, writing down habits you would like to adopt, planning your week, and any situation where you have many ideas you would like to express on paper. I also believe brainstorming can be a great way to get clutter out of your mind. Sometimes I’ll find myself thinking about a certain topic and repeating myself throughout the day. Once I let myself write about it, and get all of my thoughts out there, I will have a quieter mind. If you have good techniques on brainstorming, found good mind mapping software, or have any thoughts on this article, feel free to leave a comment.

Dream Incubation and Lucid dreaming habits

Daily habits to help promote lucid dreams, dream recall, and vivid dreams. Every morning write down whatever fraction of a dream you remember. If you can’t remember a specific dream, write down any thoughts, emotions, or feelings in your body. Wake up with full awareness you were just dreaming and write down the experience, even if it is the middle of the night. If it is early and you want to go back to bed, focus on your intention to remember your dream, and/or to stay lucid while you are drifting to sleep. Read your dreams and notice any strange situations that occurred. What locations were you in, how did you feel, what people you were with, and overall how was your dreaming reality different than waking life. Write down what these are and make sure to do a reality check if you meet the same people during the day, or are in a strange environment (construction, blocked traffic, crazy people on the street talking to you, ect). Throughout the day reflect on the dream like nature of reality. Talk with friends and family about lucid dreaming, your recent dreams, and any interesting dreams they’ve had lately. Do reality checks by reading a word, looking away and reading it again. If the word changes in any way (turns upside down, into symbols, dyslexia, ect) you are probably dreaming. Another way to test whether you’re dreaming is to try and put your finger through a mirror or glass window. In my dreams my hand will go to the other side and feel like it’s passing through a Jello-like substance. I usually have strange bathrooms in my dreams, so whenever I’m in a public restroom, I will try and put my finger through the mirror, especially if I notice something or someone that is strange. Every Night write one page on a dream you would like to have that night. Once you become lucid what do you want to do? Do you want to fly to a tropical island and surf on tidal waves? Visit Hogwarts and learn how to use magic in your dreams? Go to a Himalayan mountaintop and visit a wise old yogi who will teach you the secrets to mastering meditation? Write it in the present tense, describing the feelings, thoughts, sights, sounds, smells and tastes that you experience. Before going to bed clear your mind and become focused. You can start with counting deep breaths. Breathe from your abdomen and keep your attention on the number, and deepening your breath. Notice how you become more relaxed, and more ready for sleep. Next just sit and witness your thoughts as paint hitting a canvas, and then being absorbed and turning blank again. Notice how it feels to have a blank canvas, and if a thought carries you away just let it be absorbed and notice any other thoughts that arise and just let them pass away. Now read your dream journal and the notes you took and reflect on the strange things that happened in your waking life this day. Remind yourself that you will notice these things when you’re in the dream, and that you will become aware and remember your intentions for your dream. During the Dream you will become aware of something that is not right, and you will perform a reality check. Once you’ve become aware you’re dreaming you can fly off and accomplish whatever adventures you had planned while you were awake.

Confident being Vulnerable

In order to accept positive change into our lives we must become confident being vulnerable. When you are comfortable with the vulnerability, you are able to do what it takes to achieve your goals, even if the short term results might be negative. If you dislike your present reality but are unable to make yourself vulnerable your fears will stop you from achieving success. Some fears are more rational than others, like a fear that you won’t be able to feed and house your family if you quit your job, but irrational fears of public speaking, and social rejection have no physical impact and hold you back. You must realize which fears are irrational, and overcome those fears gradually. At the Conscious Growth Workshop I went to last July we had courage exercises where we were asked to perform awkward social interactions with people we didn’t know. The list of interactions included asking for phone numbers, asking for a free drink, asking for a job as a stripper, and giving hugs and dancing with strangers. The idea was to make us more comfortable with a situation that previously would’ve had us hesitant and timid. To learn that the fear of social rejection is only created in our minds and that rejection can do nothing to harm us. That weekend workshop was an intensive for blasting away fears, but you can gradually do this by creating weekly goals that increase in difficulty each week. In terms of social rejection, the first week you could meet someone new every day. Then you could join a stranger for lunch, invite someone you found attractive to a date, assert your special diet(Vegan, no sweets, gluten free) in a situation with social pressure, speak in public at a toastmaster’s meeting and continue performing the exercises until you feel you’ve overcome that fear and move on to the next one. Other ways to overcome fears are to talk to people who have already done so, and exchange ideas on how you can do it as well. If you have a fear of rejection, talk to someone who’s very sociable. If you are afraid of quitting your job, talk to a successful entrepreneur who left his employer to start his own business. You can also create a list of all of the long and short term positive outcomes of the feared action. Be open to the change, visualize how you want to be and take steps towards it. After practicing and becoming comfortable being vulnerable, your desires will manifest quicker and easier because you will be willing and able to do what it takes to achieve your dreams, despite the initial discomfort.

CGW Weekly Goal List

Weekly Goal List (Truth/Love/Power)

This goal list is inspired by the Conscious Growth Workshop I went to in July and is based off of Steve Pavlina’s Book. There are 7 universal principles to his book, and you can read more about that here. The concept of my new weekly goal list is to create goals and habits for each of the principles (Truth, Love, Power, Authority, Oneness, and Courage) and to accomplish at least one goal or habit from each principle every day. Being strong in each of these principles helps to consistently bring positive changes to your life. When I review my entire week, I can see which areas I need help with and how I can balance my days. I can then use these ideas to create the next weekly goal list. I create this list every Sunday, journaling about what I desire and where I want to focus my attention on. Then every morning during the week I predict/visualize my day going exactly as I want it to. Then at the end of the day, or the next morning I will critique the last day, and compare it to my prediction.

Example of a day using this goal sheet

I wake up at 5am and go to Bikram yoga at 6am (Power). I introduce myself to someone new at Bikram (Courage) and mention my massage career (Authority). At 8am I meditate for 20 minutes (Oneness) and critique my last day and create a vision for this day (Truth). I go to massage school and learn a technique for Swedish massage and trade with a classmate (Love). After class I practice on a friend who’s a massage therapist and he shows me his personal technique (Love). We go to the beach and practice Yoga and Qi Gong (Oneness). I meet someone new and find out their greatest passion and fear (Courage). I return home and read for anatomy and do Anatomy arcade game (Power). I email friends from CGW and update them on my week and let them know what challenges I’m having and what’s working for me (Truth). This day is very balanced with 3 power, 3 truth, 2 Love, 4 Oneness, 2 Courage and 2 Authority. This is how I write my predictions/visualizations for each day.

Other Examples of Habits and Goals

Truth Journal/Discover how you truly feel about a section of your life (career, relationship, body, ect) Evaluate how you could make one area of your life better Ask someone close to you – “How can I be a better friend” Ask someone who knows you well – “What am I avoiding in life?” or “Where do I need more responsibility in my life?” Have a group of friends where you share the truth about how you’re doing with your goals (the good and the difficult) Love Host a game night/potluck/social event and connect with friends through sharing each other’s company Tell a friend an aspect of their personality that you appreciate and enjoy Barter with someone to share services (Hair cuts, massage, yoga class, web design, photography, teaching music, dance lessons, ect) Interview someone who’s successful in a career you’re interested in Have a weekly group that goes to yoga/surfing/dancing together and gets lunch afterwards Power Wake up at 5/6am every morning Follow through on habits you’ve decided to create Write 500 words a day for blog (ideas, posts, ect) Exercise daily Clean the house Finish a project you’ve been neglecting Do a 30 day challenge with a friend and keep each other accountable (Make a bet) Authority (Truth+Power) Give a business card to a prospective client Introduce yourself to professionals in your business (Networking) Go against the flow (wear your shirt inside out, wear two different shoes) Discover a habit that would help you and follow through on it Oneness (Truth+Love) Go to the beach/nature and breathe, silently enjoying the present Meditate 10/20/30/60 minutes daily Qi Gong/Tai Chi/Movement meditation daily Play music, paint, draw, get lost in the creativity Give someone a massage Receive a massage Courage (Love+Power) Do something you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid you’d fail Commit to participating in a contest (speech, film, open mic night) Assert what you want (where to eat with a group, what to do with a boyfriend/girlfriend) Introduce yourself to someone new You might see that this is only 6 principles. The seventh principle is Intelligence, which is a combination of the other 6 principles. For me I don’t have an Intelligence section on my goal list, because the combination and balance of the 6 principles creates this naturally. I’ve been enjoying this new way of creating weekly goal lists, compared to what I was using a few months ago. It has been a more holistic approach with balancing the productivity in my days, instead of just trying to accomplish the most I can every day.  It also gives me more variety to choose from because I’ll have multiple habits and goals for each principle. If I don’t go to Bikram yoga one day, I can decide to go biking instead to fulfill the power principle.

Lucid Dreaming and Meditation

In a lucid dream you become aware that you are dreaming while you are still in the dream. You know that all the facets and problems of a dream aren’t worth worrying about or getting preoccupied with. You learn to detach from the chaos of the dream, and to enjoy the present moment doing what you love. Similarly with Meditation you learn to detach from outcomes and from worrying in your everyday reality and become content living in the present moment. Both have their difficulties in practice. Good intentions –> What will you do in your lucid dream? What is the intention for your meditation sit? Will you try and find a spirit guide in your dream and ask him/her the meaning of life? or will you decide to fly to Hawaii and play on the beach?  Do you intend to create loving feelings of gratitude and relax during your meditation, or do you intend to become more aware of how you are feeling right now by observing the natural breath? Persistent Effort –> For both you need to practice regularly with patience in order to get results. With lucid dreaming you start by keeping a dream journal and writing your dreams every day. Then you observe recurring patterns and create the habit of doing reality checks while you are awake. After that you break up your sleeping pattern by waking up early, reading about lucid dreaming, and then going back to bed with the intention of having a lucid dream. After you have done all of this, which could take weeks, you’ll most likely have a lucid dream. The same persistence is needed with meditation, the first few weeks and months of meditating daily you could still have gotten a few moments of a still mind. If you keep practicing you will notice subtle changes that occur, you don’t become upset as frequently, and small problems don’t bug you as much. Easy to become distracted Once you’ve become lucid in a dream you may have a conversation which makes you lose awareness, and you will become caught up in finding someone, or doing something other than what you intended. In Meditation thoughts are constantly bubling in the background. They can grab your attention and suck you out of the present moment by worrying about the future or judging the past. With both of these distractions you have to stay patient and persistent, and keep bringing your attention back to the intention of your meditation or your lucid dream.

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.

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