January 7, 2011 by
This week I’ve joined toastmasters public speaking group. I’m scheduled to give an icebreaker speech on February 1st.
Challenging myselfNaturally I’m very introspective. Writing is much easier than speaking for me, and I’m more comfortable socializing in a group of 2 or 3 than a party of 30 or 40 people. Now I’m taking a stand for the new year. I’m doing something that is difficult for me, so that I will be better prepared and more able to express myself to the world.
What do I hope to learn from Toastmasters?I hope to learn how to be more open and talk freely and confidently while describing myself, my habits, and my services. I wish to be able to creatively and concisely share lessons with the world, using my public speaking skills to help give yoga and qi gong classes. I want to learn how to clear my speech of the filler words that come up when my mind busily tries to find the correct word to express myself. I also wish to meet new people in the process, being able to teach and learn from each other.
How will I use these skills for this website?I plan on making my website a lot more personal. I want you to be able to listen to the passion in my voice when I talk about things I love, to become motivated by watching me teaching yoga and qi gong, and to experience who I am on more than a textual basis. You will see a lot more videos that will accompany the blog posts. You will listen to interviews and Dharma lectures by Travis.
How will you challenge yourself this year?If you’re already extroverted, try going to a group meditation. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, living a sedentary lifestyle, try going to a yoga class. If you eat out frequently, meet with a friend who cooks and learn to cook a new meal with them. If you’ve always wanted to write and share yourself with the world, start a blog.
December 31, 2010 by
This time every year people tend to look back on the best of the previous year, and look forward to set intentions for the new year. I recommend you take credit for the hard work and accomplishments of the year, and realize how much you’ve learned and grown. The last year I feel I’ve gone through tremendous growth and change. I left a school that wasn’t inspiring me, saved money to pay for massage school. I became active in creating the change I wanted, knowing that I no longer wanted to go to San Jose State. During my free time I would journal about my desires and visions of career paths, websites to create, and habits I wanted to incorporate into my life. Winter I knew I didn’t want to go to San Jose State anymore, and set a date to leave: June of this year. I decided to do my best, earn money, and learn as much as I could in the time that I was there. I learned a lot about time management, creating weekly goals and time sheets to manage school, work, and personal development. I started to do yoga, the gym, and cardio. I discovered Lucid dreaming, meditation, and Mantak Chia’s the multi orgasmic man book. These served as a great introduction to the metaphysical arts. Spring I became inspired by Steve Pavlina’s writing on self-discipline and started waking up at 6am, successfully converting to a morning person. I started going to a weekly meditation group and as part of my transition from San Jose State to massage school I went to a 10 day Vipassana retreat, which changed my perspective on meditation. I also started this blog and shared my goals and desires with the world. Summer In July I went to Steve Pavlina’s Conscious Growth Workshop and met other inspiring people and reaffirmed my passion for growth and learning. In July and August I completed a 250-hour massage training intensive and expanded my social circle and became four times as sociable and open to new people. Fall I continued my massage education, becoming proficient and finding passion with Thai massage. I continued to take classes in Qi Gong, which I had started in the summer, and met Lee Holden. I’ve started to work with him on his videos, and have learned much about Qi Gong movements and becoming sensitive to the life energy in my body. For the Winter I will be primarily living in Breckenridge Colorado during the winter months. I plan on doing a lot of studying on Qi Gong, web design, and the national massage exam. I will work to redesign this website, creating a custom wordpress theme. I will also be launching a website that will be a community resource for massage therapists and body workers. I see this next year being even better than the last, with many lessons for me to learn, and more for me to teach as well.
August 25, 2010 by
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 sheetI 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 GoalsTruth 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.
July 13, 2010 by
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.
June 25, 2010 by
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 Dhamma.org. 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.