Time to read and apply
After studying the Stoic philosophies these past few months, there are a few recurring themes, or practices that we can apply today.
Early to rise
Control of self
I’ll go into more detail in the next post.
“You need not meditate; just close your eyes and sleep or think about one of your fun moments in life.”
Is there an alternative for meditation besides sitting on a zafu, legs crossed and chanting “om?” Yes, there is.
Staring through the window
One of the benefits of working from my home office are the windows. Unfortunately it is next to an abandoned house but there are beautiful trees and all sorts of critters peeking in to watch me work. When I need to, I will stand up, lean on the window frame and stare out. This has many benefits:
- Your mind becomes calm
- Your concentration level increases
- You will connect with nature
- You will get instant relief from the digital world
Look at photos
The mobile photo gallery in our pockets is an excellent time to remember and reflect. I enjoy swiping and reliving these memories. I think about the people in these images with love and take the time to wish them well. When I have more time, I will bring out the photo albums because these old photographs bring me happiness and soothes me.
Walking is one of the best way of relieving your stress and good for health, but what is a nature walk? Instead of walking on the same ground or park, try to walk in a different route every day. It gives you a new perspective of life for sure. Humans like to explore. The more you explore, the more you connect with yourself.
Most importantly, those thoughts that are going everywhere will slowly settle down, and you will soon enjoy the walk as your mind will think only one thing which is exploring a new route. It is why most creators can go for a quick walk and come back with a new idea.
Meditation does not mean it has to be done in a sitting position by closing your eyes and letting go off the thoughts. I enjoy changing it up and achieving similar results; a clear mind.
I’ve been taking a strong look at two similar but different philosophies recently and want to dive deeper.
Stoicism and Taoism.
I’ve studied, practiced and taught Christianity but these days I have a hard time coming to terms with so many things that I actually don’t know what to think anymore.
I understand the word of God but sometimes it is a difficult concept. It is mysterious, sometimes enigmatic, but not beyond my capability.
I’ve served in a few missionary trips overseas, witnessed modern day Biblical miracles so I’m not divorced from it, and would never call myself an atheist. Spirituality pervades everything I’m involved in, but I don’t know how to put my finger on it.
Studying other schools of thought is permissible, even encouraged. So I will do just that.
Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world.
The truth taught in Taoism is to embrace life in actions that support you as a person.
These philosophies don’t diminish beliefs but enhance by putting them into practical, applicable use.
I can believe in that. I can practice that.
Last month on 2/2 I began my year long journey to create life long habits for myself and throw in some fun intentions as well. The plan is to check in every month to monitor my progress.
Nutrition & Training
Still no concentrated effort to change my diet and this breaks my heart (literally?). I am, however, seeing the scale go towards the right direction. I’ve lost five pounds these past four weeks. Thirty-five pounds more to go.
Walking and yoga have been my focus when it comes to training my body. How much better would it be if I added gym time? Coming soon, cycling, thanks to a recently acquired bicycle.
Yoga & Meditation
Hard to believe but I am actually looking forward to practicing both of these. The discipline to being consistent is still elusive but the desire is still there.
Smile. Breathe. Focus.
Photography & Writing
Slow progress in organizing the decades worth of photos in the archives. The Vault is setup and the images now need to be culled. After that, I can begin the process of further organizing and printing.
On writing, the saying goes: if you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader. So let’s chalk this past up to a lot of reading and zero writing.
This is a year long journey and I feel like I am off to a slow start. When I check in next month I want to detail better results.
Being new to the state of mindfulness it’s easy to get the wrong idea from all the jargon I can find online. The internet will show me images of people at complete peace with the world and themselves by sitting still and meditating for a few minutes but that isn’t my reality. I think being mindful can be powerful and I look forward to practicing it as often as I can but I want to do so in a way that will benefit me, not a guru wannabe.
Practicing mindfulness is difficult. I can meditate and then I will get antsy, want to get up, want to go do something else, plan my day, go to work, or anything else but focus on what I really want to do. It is difficult but I think it is worth overcoming that.
I will start with meditation and feel good about myself. Then miss a few days. Start again. Miss a day and feel bad about it. But this same lack of discipline and practice is EXACTLY why I need to do this to begin with.
Mindfulness can be uncomfortable. There are times when I need to be alone with nothing but my thoughts and there are times when I do not need to be alone with those thoughts. No one wants to face their personal demons when all they are wanting is to relax their brain, right? Or sometimes there is an itch that must be scratched right now. And now. And now the other side needs scratching instead of focusing my brain. Or the low growl of a hunger pain is overriding meditative thoughts. Am I doing this right?
That’s another thing. I can practice a certain way only to be told that there is a better way and try that instead. Even though I have found personal success. Tune that out.
When I do manage to practice mindfulness I realize it isn’t a cure-all. It won’t magically solve problems. It does require you to open your heart and be vulnerable. To be compassionate towards yourself and others. It forces me to except things as they are not what I wish them to be. Mindfulness requires me to let go and to unlearn some of the wrong things that I have learned. And mindfulness requires that I be curious, persistent.
I will never ever have this figured out. But this is why they call it practice.
It’s that time of year again! The 12th annual intent at creating life-long habits for myself (formerly known as Ground Hog Resolution Day). I’ve discovered that because of the after the end-of-year holidays I am not mentally or physically capable of sticking with resolutions for the upcoming new year. (Truth be told, I was failing at this for the rest of the year too.) The idea was to take January as a break so I could reflect and plan. And I have given a lot of consideration to dropping the Groundhog Resolutions altogether to come up with a more do-able plan.
I’ll be taking this year-long trek up until December 12th (12/12) and will stop and reflect on my progress each month until then. These will be known as monthly checkpoints.
On 2/2 I will start at the trailhead and will check-in on March 3rd (3/3) next. After that will be 4/4, 5/5 etc.
Since this will be a long trail of betterment I need to pack light. The previous years have been weighed down and overburdened with too many goals and habits and then failing at most of them. Time to lighten the load and focus on the essentials. I’ll go into details in the next few days.
Nutrition & Training
This is priority one. I am at my heaviest and it shows. I feel it daily and I don’t like it. This means I have to focus on my nutrition first. Going out daily for lunch and then sitting at my desk during the work week is hurting me. I’ll need a lot of help with this one. There are too many temptations out there for me. But I want and need to eat cleaner.
Next up is training. There are a lot of activities I am interested in to help my goal of dropping those forty pounds. Foremost would be strength training to help burn off some fat and regain some muscle definition.
Yoga & Meditation
I have participated in a few group yoga practices and it was lacking. I find yoga to be a personal endeavor as I try to relax and concentrate on what I am doing. A guru just gets in the way instead of guiding. I’ve subscribed to a fitness app that provides guidance and can be silenced as I work out.
On meditation, I have realized it can be done anywhere at anytime there is even a free minute. This makes me happy and gives me zero excuses to not focus and relax.
Photography & Writing
Here we go again. The annual intention to enjoy my hobbies properly. Regarding my two decades worth of unorganized images: progress. I will get the archives organized this year. Only then can I advance in what I really want to do with them. I want to make memories by developing physical prints, books and even zines. I’ve also switched up my genres to focus on landscape and urban photography. A lot to learn here this year.
Regarding my writing? It seems I enjoy writing about my intentions rather than just writing the damn things themselves. No mas. I am hoping with a clear mind and a healing body this year will assist in putting words down.
This year I am not adding or subtracting to these intentions. I am taking all of these on this year long journey and I am not leaving them behind.
I’m starting at the trail head on February 2nd and not stopping until December 12 with these goals accomplished.