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.
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“My Lesson to the World” IceBreaker Speech for Toastmasters

My Lesson to the World Speech [display_podcast] I gave my first Toastmasters speech today. After weeks of brainstorming, outlining, and half a dozen times recording myself practicing my speech, I’ve given my final presentation. There were about twice as many people as the first time I visited the group, and I was the first to give my speech. Overall I felt it was a great experience, much different than being a guest. I felt the community aspect and had great comments and feedback on my speaking abilities. The other speeches given were very inspiring, and I signed up to give another speech in two weeks. The Transcript I wrote for my speech is below: Everyone has a lesson to teach. This is your life’s purpose, why you are here, and what you will show others. A combination of genetics, family upbringing, life experiences, and the way you identify yourself creates this unique perspective from which you can teach from. Every speech that is given is a lesson, even humorous or entertaining speeches teach us to laugh more, and can have deeper meanings behind them. We’re all learning from each other, and teaching each other at every toastmasters meeting we attend. Today I will discuss what I believe my lesson to teach the world is, and what I hope to learn from Toastmasters and all of you. I have lived most of my life in nature, being surrounded by the tropical jungles of Hawaii while a child, the towering redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains as a teenager, and now in the majestic mountains of Summit county. I believe these settings help me see the beauty and peace in nature that can seem to be void in urban cities and lifestyles. The presence of nature helps me to see how small our everyday problems are in comparison. This has helped me to pay less attention the trivial, stress inducing patterns that are so common in modern day society. This last year I’ve been training in massage, yoga, and Qi Gong, and have found these to be great ways to connect with your body, become more present, and enjoy the peace of nature. Through massage I’m able to connect with someone, bring them into a meditative state, and help them release unnecessary tension and holding in their body. All of these exercises are great for releasing stress, and allowing your body and mind to come back to a natural state of peace. I’ve always been a very introspective person. For example I’ve attended a 10 day silent meditation retreat, spent months practicing lucid dreaming techniques, and hours writing and journaling on visions of my future. I believe that everyone could benefit from looking within more. A lot of people skip this step and do whatever other people think they “should” be doing, whether that is going to college, getting a job they dislike, or living in a city they don’t enjoy. I want to teach people how to find the passion within themselves, to discover their individual meaning of life, and to fulfill their deepest desires. How will Toastmasters help me to teach these lessons? I want to learn how to connect with people within minutes, talking with passion, freedom, and inspiring others to act. I want to be able to share my personality fully on my blog, expressing myself through video, audio, and writing. I want to teach people Yoga postures, Qi Gong exercises, and self-massage techniques through how-to videos. Overall I want to believe in myself and learn how to proudly and truthfully express myself to the world. Now… Take a Breath. Look within yourself. Ask: What do I have to teach the world – and how does Toastmasters help?
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Challenging myself: Joining Toastmasters

This week I’ve joined toastmasters public speaking group. I’m scheduled to give an icebreaker speech on February 1st.

Challenging myself

Naturally 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.
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Gratitude and Growth of 2010

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.
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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.
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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.
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Why Go to Massage School?

I started the 250 hour massage certification program at Twin Lakes College in Santa Cruz, California the beginning of this month. So far it’s been an enlightening experience and better than I could have expected. In this blog post I am going to share why I believe everyone should go to massage school.

Receiving Massage Daily

You will be both receiving and giving massage daily, learning how to create a safe environment for your client, and how to facilitate their healing experience. When you receive so much massage you become more aware of your body and where you hold tension. Receiving and giving loving touch is a great way to become more in touch with your heart and feelings. The more you help others relax, the more you are able to empathize and feel the love multiply. This sense of touch is also a new way of communicating with people and friends. We get to know the person intimately, knowing where they hold tension, their unique body shape, and nurturing them in a safe environment. The receiver of massage puts a lot of trust in the giver, letting his/her touch encompass their reality. This vulnerability, trust and place of nurturing causes relationships to deepen.

An Uplifting Social Environment

The classmates I’ve had in Twin Lakes are motivated to help each other learn the most they can in these seven weeks. You will spend so much time together, trading massage outside of class, and the deeper the connections you make with your classmates, the more you will gain from massage experience. The sense of community is already tangible after just a couple weeks, with everyone being very friendly and open to each other. The teachers are great resources at Twin Lakes college, listening and answering our questions and problems with their knowledge and experience. They’re very approachable and some teachers have even stayed after class to allow us to practice more on each other. The possibility for continuing education is exciting as well, after this 250 hour Swedish program we can go on to learn more about other modalities such as Thai massage, Shiatsu, Reiki and Deep tissue.

Developing Presence and a quiet mind

In order to give a good relaxing massage you have to be centered and grounded while giving.  When you give your full attention to your present movements and sense of touch, the receiver feels taken care of, and feels the pull to become present in his body as well. Once you develop this ability your massage work will feel more like a calming meditation. Practicing things like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, and meditation help you more easily stay in this state of presence.

Self-Care and your Health

The most important aspect for the massage professional is self-care. Exercising, relaxing, eating nutritious meals and getting enough sleep are all necessary to stay in that state of presence while giving a massage. If you’re going to be working while going to massage school I would recommend taking massage school part time. This way you will have more time to practice, read, and take care of yourself. Invite others students to do group yoga sessions, go hiking, and to go to the beach together. Then you can relax and exercise while deepening your connection with your classmates. The field of massage naturally attracts people who are athletic and you should have no problem finding class mates who are interested in exercising with you.

Everyone should go to massage school

The ability to be present, to give others the gift of relaxation and to receive it as well. The friendship and sense of purpose. Helping others heal themselves. The entourage of growth oriented students who are motivated to learn. Click here for more information on my massage services.
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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).
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Time management

The day a big project or essay is due in class, my classmates always compare to see who got the least amount of sleep. This isn’t only true in schools because college students take these bad time management skills into their work life. I’ve decided to write an article that shows some techniques that I use in order to make sure I get everything done and have more time to do what I love.

Keep a calendar

Schedule all of your work, school and any other time blocks where you absolutely have to be somewhere onto a calendar that you keep with you all of the time. I use my cell phone, and many smart phones are even better at this type of management. Then if someone wants to schedule a date with you, you’ll know when you’re available.

Planning/Goal setting Day

Have one day a week where you schedule the week ahead of you. I put an inspirational quote or something that will keep me focused on achieving my goals at the top. Then I write down the habits I would like to form, and a to-do list for the week. You should start every day by looking at your weekly goal list, and create a to-do list of what you want to accomplish on that day. I’ll also create of vision of how I would like to see my day going. I’ll write everything in the present moment, and describe how I feel experiencing my day.

Complete Focus

For things like writing an essay, studying or paying bills, you should commit yourself to doing only that task for an alloted amount of time. No texting, cellphone, Facebook, or internet. Just focus on the task that you are doing. This doesn’t mean you should spend 3 hours straight studying, but it means you should commit yourself to doing 40 minutes of studying, and then taking a 20 minute break. You should keep repeating that cycle until you finish the goal you set to accomplish for that study session.

Develop Discipline

It takes discipline to follow through on your schedule and to accomplish goals. You need to slowly train yourself up from where you are now. I read a great article from Steve Pavlina that describes the 5 pillars of Discipline.

Acceptance — How strong is your discpline at this moment? which challenges are easy for you, which are virtually impossible? From here you will know what kind of results you can expect, and how hard to start training your discipline.

Willpower — Provides an intensely powerful, yet temporary boost. Use willpower to reduce the ongoing need for such a high level of sustained force. Alter the territory and replace distractions.

Hard Work — That which challenges you. Strong challenge is connected with strong results. The willingness to do what is difficult is like having a key to a private treasure room.

Industry — Tasks that aren’t necessarily difficult, but they collectively require a significant time investment. Things like cleaning, exercise, and organization.

Persistence — Ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. Persistence of action = persistence of vision. Consistent clarity about what you want.

If you continue to train your discipline and take small steps you will find that you become more and more productive, and will have more time to spend doing what you love.

References: Productivity 33 Rules

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