Meditation -Am I doing this right?

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buddha

My goal this week is to do 5 guided meditations in 5 days. I will be using Tara Brach and attempting to sit up this week as opposed to being nestled into my bed. I end up falling asleep when I lay down which is ok too, but I want the deeper experience of the meditation. So, I will give myself no less than 15 minutes of sitting up, eyes closed and see what happens.

Day 1 Recap

I downloaded an app called Insight Timer and sampled some different guided meditations. I did sit up this time and stayed awake so I made progress.

The first session was 25 minutes with Tara Brach’s “Vipassana (Basic) Meditation”, I was distracted by an itch on my back shoulder blade, I was thinking about work a little a bit, then my son and his dad and what to do about the conflict, I was trying to let go, trying to focus and breathe, just breathe, come back to the breath,..why are my pants so tight at the  waist, I am adjusting my yoga pants, now I can breathe yes I am relaxing bringing down my shoulders, relaxing my body, my leg is tingling because it’s numb from sitting with my legs crossed, is this normal, maybe I should be sitting on the floor and not my bed, but I am not laying down, everything is ok stop judging myself, stop judging myself for judging, deep breath and the bell goes off,..I was done but I forgot to meditate.

I straightened my legs, took a deep breath and decided to try another one, Jack Kornfield’s “Breathing Meditation” only 8:43 so I had time to try again, this time I was going to relax and think of nothing but I was already telling myself to think of nothing. I loved the soothing sound of his voice, I was there now. And I made it to the end just by following my breath and paying attention to the flow of air basically and then it was over.

I finished the time with some of “Sacral Chakra Tibetan Singing Bowl” and I laid down and listened to what sounded like rain mixed with beautiful music and I just spaced out for a little bit. I felt better.

“Nachiketa did not ask to get to the end of an imagined journey, but to be fully where he was.” –After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield

 

Sunsets

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Scioto River, Columbus

There is something so captivating about the sunset and all the beauty it casts on the world creating shadows and highlights like no painter can mimic and no photo can reveal. We try to capture the beauty and the essence of the moment, but it’s impossible.

My grandfather always explains that no painting, sculpture or poem will ever be the perfection that you create in your mind. Similarly, the photo can’t express the magnificent moment or colors of the sunset, but it gives you the idea of it.

Podcasts -Me and My Nano

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I started listening to podcasts about 5 years ago while working. Because I do so much photography and editing on my own, I am able to listen and learn while I work. I bought an iPod nano with my first paycheck to break up the monotony of editing pictures in silence because everyone around me had ear buds in too. I’m still using the Nano because my podcast collection takes up a ton of space, so then my phone’s storage is not jammed up.

I started with This American Life, which is by far one of the best-produced podcasts ever. It was the start of it all before podcasts were well known and popular. But thanks to NPR, it had a platform on radio and an audience. They were just using journalism to interview people across America and get their stories while letting the listener catch a glimpse into another person’s life.

I listened to one about a day in the life of working at the fair, another about the inner city schools of Chicago, then long lost love, politics, sex, parenting, death, lying, cheating, selling bananas, and so on you name the topic and it has a compelling story on This American Life. The production has blossomed since the early days but stays true to the original form and quality of storytelling.

#1 reason to listen to podcasts: It’s free.

This American Life

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No Carb Bread in 2 Minutes!

You melt the butter, stir in the egg, almond flour, baking powder and salt ( also any spices or seasoning if you want more flavor), then put in a microwave safe dish, cook for 1:30-2:00 minutes and you’re done.

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I am pretty lazy, but I also want to stick to my low-carb, ketogenic diet plan, so I need to cook and prepare things. One of the best things I have done is to make this bread in the microwave in 2 minutes. You just need ground up almonds, or almond flour already ground up for you, baking powder, salt, egg, butter. You melt the butter, stir in the egg, almond flour, baking powder and salt ( also any spices or seasoning if you want more flavor), then put in a microwave safe dish, cook for 1:30-2:00 minutes and you’re done. I slice it, add cheese melt the cheese for a few more seconds and that’s it. It’s like a grilled cheese in the simplest form, delicious and filling as a whole meal. My friend used this recipe to make french toast and loved it. I see lots of possibilities and it’s a quick meal for one!

Another bonus is that if you are making this in a mug at the right portion then you won’t overeat because that would require making another one and trust me you will be full from one.

Search “mug bread” on youtube for the exact recipe and directions.

Stop and Take a Breath

It was empowering to stop and take a breath even if it meant being a few minutes late to work. For a moment I exited the rat race and went away from the usual routine and it felt amazing. I posted the pictures on Instagram and other people liked them too. I felt like I made a little ripple in my world pond for that moment and for that day.

I drive by this park on my way to work every day and often I want to stop and just take a few minutes to enjoy it. So on this day, I stopped. I took some pictures as the sun came up and I took as many deep breaths as I could. I applied a filter to the picture to make it look like a painting and to express the surrealism of that moment.

It was empowering to stop and take a breath even if it meant being a few minutes late to work. For a moment I exited the rat race and went away from the usual routine and it felt amazing. I posted the pictures on Instagram and other people liked them too. I felt like I made a  little ripple in my world pond for that moment and for that day.

Now, when I look at the photo I can remember that it’s okay to step away from the world and take a breath, in fact it’s crucial that I do it more often.

Small shifts in our thinking and in our routines can have huge impacts on the rest of our lives. Many people have suggested this practice of doing one thing different to expand your consciousness, just one thing.

How Do You Take Your Coffee?

The idea of adding this pure fat to coffee or tea which is delicious too, dates back to ancient monks living in caves in the Himalayas I have heard. They used yak butter and tea and I think still do in some parts of the world.

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I take my coffee with butter, cinnamon, stevia, and MCT oil. Thanks to Dave Asprey who originally popularized “Bulletproof Coffee” through podcasters that I listen to like Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss I learned about this amazing jump start to the day that is as simple or complex as you want it to be for you. You can obsess over the ingredients and make it as pure and robust as hell, or you can modify to your budget and it still works.

I buy affordable coffee middle of the road, not the cheapest but not expensive. I buy grass fed butter from Aldi or Trader Joes, I ordered a big bottle of MCT oil online that last for a really long time using about a tablespoon a day. I buy cinnamon from Trader Joes for 99¢ and the stevia varies from organic from Kroger to cheap stuff at Aldi depending on my budget and time. But nonetheless, I put all this together in my Nutribullet and blend every morning pretty much without fail and I drink it while writing to start the day.

The idea of adding this pure fat to coffee or tea which is delicious too, dates back to ancient monks living in caves in the Himalayas I have heard. They used yak butter and tea and I think still do in some parts of the world. Anyways, with this energy source they could survive with no food for days. There is some science behind the MCT oil being so pure that the energy is ready for your brain very quickly without having to be processed through the body (yeah, I barely understand) but what I do understand is how great it makes me feel and how clear my brain feels at 5:30 in the morning as soon as I am enjoying it. I give the most credit to habits that work for me and ones that I have stuck with over a long period of time. Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass to make it every morning and always have the best ingredients, but it pays off and it works!

Tait Fletcher is doing it right! Click here for really, really good coffee 🙂

Writing Past the Point

The idea is just like it sounds, you run through the normal recap of what you’ve done and how you basically are feeling and then once you’ve exhausted all that you have to say, you keep writing and that is when the breakthroughs happen.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

-Tony Robbins

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My garden, Spring 2015
Writing Past the Point is a concept that was introduced to me in counseling. As someone who journals every day this seemed like a great experiment. The idea is just like it sounds, you run through the normal recap of what you’ve done and how you basically are feeling and then once you’ve exhausted all that you have to say, you keep writing and that is when the breakthroughs happen. You take off the superficial layers of the day and really dig deeper to understand what happened inside you when you lost your temper, ate the whole cake, drank the whole bottle, yelled at your kid, acted out in some way other than what you really meant.
Why? It’s the getting to the why that is helping me navigate back to the path and understand my trigger points and how I cope or don’t cope effectively. And from this point I can plan around the trigger points with different interventions, like taking a bath, listening to a meditation, going for a long walk, listening to music, or whatever it is that helps me feel calm again. So far, for me this is working.
When I write in this stream of consciousness style without stopping I am able to stumble upon some epiphanies of sorts and realize what is at the root of my behavior with the hope of uprooting that behavior when I expose its source to fresh air and light. Yes, it’s like killing a weed, sort of. For me it’s like a dandelion because they are never really gone and once you set your mind to ridding your lawn of them, you really discover just how many there are and you see very clearly that this is going to take some work.