A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Where are you and where are you going?
IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Tue May 13, 2014 7:32 am

Tuesday

Some randomness for the day ...

I was reminded of a favorite poem this morning:

So every day
I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth
of the ideas of God,

One of which was you.


--Mary Oliver

My attempts to recover some amount of physical fitness are ongoing with the expected difficulty, but progressing. I mentioned earlier that I've dropped 20 or so pounds this year from improving my nutrition. On the strength front, this month I've done 208 each of squats, pushups, and situps; on my way to 775 each for the month. Two years ago I could have done 100 of each in an hour without a lot of difficulty. But now 22/day (this morning's count) leaves me sore and rubbery. At some point I'll have to bite the bullet and start in on some more intense cardio-type activities. I'm using my upcoming ultrasound as an excuse to delay that pending the results. I really dislike that form of exercise, especially in the hot/humid climate where I currently dwell.

All-in-all though, I get around pretty good for an old geezer.

I have my little plot ready to plant my sweet potato "seeds" that I saved from the harvest last year.

I also found a pair of volunteer tomato plants that sprouted in an unlikely place. I think I'll leave them there and see how they do. No idea what the fruit will be...Roma, Big Boy, some cross of the two, or some weird offspring of a hybrid that doesn't reproduce true.

I still have not adjusted to the south even after 25 years. I went and checked on my onions and they've already flowered. They are really a winter crop here.

I've continued to cut my clothes dryer use by over 75%. Probably not a huge addition to the bottom line at this juncture, but it makes me feel good to do so.

Supposed to get a cold front through here tomorrow, so I might get an opportunity to take a casual hike in the mountains. Unfortunately I probably missed most of the trillium.

I haven't seen a hummingbird yet this year. Usually I catch them visiting my red buckeye trees in late March. The wacky winter seems to have derailed the rhythm.

I tend to be a worrier at times. There's an old Zen saying I like to make a mantra out of:

Spring comes--the grass grows by itself.

Speaking of grass, I need to back off a little on monitoring my progress. On occasion I get energized and my enthusiasm surges. But frequently tracking progress in detail is a lot like watching grass grow. It's slow, and as the old Zen guys said, with things in motion, it will happen on its own.

So that's all the excitement here on a Tuesday morning.

Dragline
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Dragline » Tue May 13, 2014 8:12 am

IlliniDave wrote:Tuesday

My attempts to recover some amount of physical fitness are ongoing with the expected difficulty, but progressing. I mentioned earlier that I've dropped 20 or so pounds this year from improving my nutrition. On the strength front, this month I've done 208 each of squats, pushups, and situps; on my way to 775 each for the month. Two years ago I could have done 100 of each in an hour without a lot of difficulty. But now 22/day (this morning's count) leaves me sore and rubbery. At some point I'll have to bite the bullet and start in on some more intense cardio-type activities. I'm using my upcoming ultrasound as an excuse to delay that pending the results. I really dislike that form of exercise, especially in the hot/humid climate where I currently dwell.

All-in-all though, I get around pretty good for an old geezer.
Good news is that you probably don't need to do lots of intensive cardio to get in shape if you don't want to -- low level is just fine when combined with some strength training and a little sprinting, and is much less likely to result in injury, which is a big issue as we age. I like the fitness programs/ideas designed by Mark Sisson, who is about 60 and specifically designs them for ease and low-risk. While he is known mostly as a disciple of the paleo eating movement, his fitness suggestions are more valuable for the average person in my view, because they are focused more on health and functionality than performance -- he used to be a world class runner in his youth, but burnt himself out and realized he had to do something different to be healthy in older age.

The basic idea is contained in the fitness pyramid here (scroll down past the diet stuff):

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-s ... t/#fitness

He also has a free book you can download here, with more specifics and ideas:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-b ... z31bFMzV8H

Well worth the price. ;-) And makes the whole process a lot less daunting/more manageable. It's a very common sense approach.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Tue May 13, 2014 10:18 am

Dragline wrote: The basic idea is contained in the fitness pyramid here (scroll down past the diet stuff):

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-s ... t/#fitness

He also has a free book you can download here, with more specifics and ideas:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-b ... z31bFMzV8H

Well worth the price. ;-) And makes the whole process a lot less daunting/more manageable. It's a very common sense approach.
I'm familiar with the Primal Blueprint, and it's philosophy I'm loosely using as a template for my emergence from lethargy. Unfortunately, perhaps, I just like Crossfit too much, and that's what I'm angling back towards. We'll see how it goes. Your point about aging is astute, and it's difficult to navigate Crossfit with enough restraint to avoid beating one's self up unnecessarily trying to pace the younger athletes. If that doesn't pan out for me, Primal Blueprint is probably the best choice for an alternate, and that program is far more cost-effective!

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Thu May 15, 2014 7:35 am

I Gotta Pay for it Forever?!

I'm not uniformly a tough guy when it comes to thriftiness and self-sufficiency. There's a side of me that would be quite content lounging on silk cushions shoving cake down my pie hole and cursing the gardener for the awful racket he was making outside. Luckily there's some things I really want with which a lean lifestyle has beautiful synergy.

Still, I tend to have to whittle away at the edges rather than go in with a cleaver and be done with it. That process entails a lot of stewing over numbers, and recasting things in different ways.

Maybe this line of thought is old-school to the bona fide ERE-ers, but here's where I arrived this morning. I mentioned a few days ago that I was looking at shaving my home DSL service. With that I bundled a few other similar items and determined I could avoid costs of about $2000/year. I'm a 3%-er and my horizon is about 5 years (1821 days actually, max, but who's counting, right?). So doing the math that works out to more-or-less $25/month passive income forever after the 5 years worth of costs are avoided and the money invested.

Where it got interesting is when I looked at it the other way around. If I kept my DSL and various subscription services for 5 years, not only would I pay the $10,000, but in effect would be paying an additional $25/month for the rest of my life for them, even if they were all cancelled/disconnected permanently at the end of the 5 years.

Somehow, that view makes them seem much more expensive, brutally so.

Again, that might be a "Well, duh!" for everyone else, but that perspective stated aloud, as it were, made one of those little light bulbs pop on over my head. The idea that unspent money could be used for future income is well within my grasp, but turning it around and saying spent money will cost me even more money for as long as I live got my inner self to put down his cake, put on his Mr. Thrifty costume, and beat his chest in defiance.

Did I mention yet that I'm kind of a nerd?

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sat May 17, 2014 7:33 am

1,819 Days to Go

My internal project of late has been to work on banishing resistance--resistance being anything that distracts me from accepting and connecting with what is, and what is happening, right now.

Probably, blathering in this journal is a form of resistance.

I think too much. Or rather maybe, in the western way of things, I identify too strongly with my thoughts--so much so that it interferes with my ability to feel alive.

Most times I put a wall of processing between my self and what is, screening with pattern filters and cramming things into vocabulary. In the process my mind reinforces a barrier between me and not me, perhaps an artificial divide producing false demarcations.

While I still eat and sleep and all those things that are part of being alive, I'm doing so from inside a cage built of thought, like some wild creature that sat down one day and decided to build a zoo around itself.

A byproduct of all that is that I have frequent and lively internal dialogues (more accurately probably a monologue, but I often pose questions to myself and seek to answer them in my thinking). I talk a good game! I really do. But alas, too often it's all talk. In the same way it's easy to confuse thinking with being, it's easy to confuse thinking with doing in the realm of internal change.

My journey is not an abject failure. I do have a sprinkling of successful moments and I like to think they happen more frequently as I become more aware of how thoroughly I am fooling myself at times.

Yesterday was a good day. The weather was nearly perfect and I was off from work. It's difficult even for me to conjure resistance to a tranquil late Spring day when I can play in the dirt and listen to the wind gust through the trees with no particular stake in time I must work around. It's funny, but in a way "deadline" was a well-conceived word, although I don't think it's minter had the nuance I've adopted in mind.

Days like yesterday are what allows me pursue retirement without fear.

But the inhalation of life was brief. I received word that my aunt, who has recently retired from the faculty of Syracuse University, reached an agreement to buy a house "back home" yesterday morning, and if all goes well she'll close in June and move in July.

For the family that is great news, but it reminds me that I still have a ways to go. Back comes the resistance. The resistance then feeds unhappiness and my tenuous little connection to feeling fully alive snaps.

1,819 days.

That seems awful. But by way of comparison, looking at the last significant event in my life, I have been single again for about 2,324 days--a span that feels rather short. The difference is that one I resist and the other I do not.

So the obvious trick is to reign in my mind and not let it get into histrionics over that number and wishing it were some other. Every one of those numbers represent 24 hours of opportunity to gestate my atrophied ability to live. It would be a horrible waste to spend them in a pained state wallowing in the muck of resistance to what is. The pointlessness of that endeavor puts it beyond everyday stupidity.

I have an affinity for rivers and love them as analogies. Today's perhaps tortured analogy is that it is immensely foolish to sit thirsty at the riverside waiting for the water five years upstream before drinking.

I was about to say, "Unfortunately the weather today is not supposed to be so good as yesterday." But, the weather just is. There's no reason to live less just because it may rain for a time.

I've got myself in a lather this morning! Let's see if I can manifest any of these words.

Chad
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Chad » Sat May 17, 2014 11:54 am

Belated happy birthday. I'm really enjoying your posts.

1taskaday
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by 1taskaday » Sat May 17, 2014 1:08 pm

I really enjoy your posts as well,I think my search for just being able to BE, as opposed to thinking and doing constantly, is very similar to yours.

Please keep writing these type of posts as I'm sure they are helping a lot of people who read them.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Tue May 20, 2014 6:51 am

Practice

Between the upcoming holiday and some strategic use of leave, I should have a 4-day weekend just ahead. I'm going to use it to practice being retired, which could equivalently be stated as practice being alive.

Last time I talked about the fallacy of waiting for some event in the future to experience happiness/fulfillment/contentedness, whatever you want to call it.

Intellectually I'm well aware of the trap, but through doing a better job of paying attention to where my mind is at on an ongoing basis, I see that awareness of the pit is not enough to keep me from falling in.

I'm also learning that the internet is the last bastion where I flee to avoid life and myself. More accurately, it's where my mind/ego flees to suppress the part of me that wants to just live.

But I seriously question whether I have the strength to shut the modem/router off on Thursday evening and leave it off until Tuesday morning. I've even considered putting them in a box and mailing them to myself.

I find it somewhere between comical and sad how much of a struggle it is for me to throw off much of the mental clutter. So with that in mind I'm going to go out of my way over the weekend to conduct search and destroy missions against physical clutter. I'm hoping that elicits sympathetic resonance in my noggin to streamline what happens up there. I'm also going to visit some of my lonely places in the mountains nearby where I like to go and sit and disconnect from my regular life.

A good plan I guess, but I feel like a fraud having to go through these demonstrative rituals to approach what is supposed to be a natural state.

Nevertheless, march on I will. And if none of that works, there's always Patron.

DutchGirl
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by DutchGirl » Tue May 20, 2014 2:09 pm

If your computer has a password, you could change it to something really difficult, write that on a note, and then mail the note to yourself (or put it somewhere else so that you have to get up and get it, and can change your mind in the process).

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed May 21, 2014 6:59 am

DutchGirl wrote:If your computer has a password, you could change it to something really difficult, write that on a note, and then mail the note to yourself (or put it somewhere else so that you have to get up and get it, and can change your mind in the process).
That's an interesting idea, but I don't want to lock myself out of my computer (I do a lot of writing and such on it), just want to disconnect irrevocably from the internet for 4 days. It's pretty pathetic that I need trickery to do so.

Maybe I can do something with changing my router password, but last time I tried that it was pretty much a disaster.

I'm probably going to have to do this entirely through self-control. Not always my strong suit.

henrik
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by henrik » Wed May 21, 2014 7:07 am

If your router has a remote control feature, you could have an IT literate friend or acquaintance disable and re-enable your internet access as you instruct.

saving-10-years
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by saving-10-years » Wed May 21, 2014 7:42 am

@IlliniDave perhaps take the plug off your router for the weekend and put router, plug and screwdriver in different hard to access places? That should give you pause to reflect what you are doing.

Great test of willpower. Hope you achieve the long weekend without online distraction.

Chad
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Chad » Wed May 21, 2014 8:26 am

It sounds like you would like to have more control over yourself concerning the internet. I'm not sure an artificial moat for one weekend will accomplish this. Maybe it would be better to start small, a day or an evening without access, and then work up to where you want to be. You need to create a new habit.

http://www.sparringmind.com/good-habits/

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed May 21, 2014 12:55 pm

Chad wrote:It sounds like you would like to have more control over yourself concerning the internet. I'm not sure an artificial moat for one weekend will accomplish this. Maybe it would be better to start small, a day or an evening without access, and then work up to where you want to be. You need to create a new habit.

http://www.sparringmind.com/good-habits/
You're probably right Chad, in general I would probably like to fritter away less time playing on the internet, although my focus right now is more centered around this upcoming weekend and trying to create a retreat-like environment without having to leave home. I glanced through the link--one I will revisit in the future. Looked like some good stuff. There are many habit changes I should consider making.

@saving-10-years and @henrik: both good ideas, but I'm the most IT savvy among my circle of acquaintances. I like the ideas of adding a degree of difficulty, something where I have to go out of my way to get things put together and I won't "accidentally" find myself reading journals in ere.com. Maybe I'll stash the power cords for my modem and router up in the attic or something.

EdithKeeler
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by EdithKeeler » Wed May 21, 2014 6:31 pm

I was thinking just the other day of the year where I didn’t have internet at my house. I would have to go to the library or other public WiFi to use the internet. At the time, I thought it was a bit of a pain, but in retrospect I remember those days fondly. Good people watching, too, that I kind of miss. The best internet connection was at the library, and I’d often use the internet after hours in my car—maybe once a week or so. I’d load up my big dog (no one will mess with me with my big dog....) and some snacks. I’d catch up on my TV watching and web surfing until the battery ran out.

Having scarcity makes you appreciate things more. Good luck with your long weekend—I’m stretching mine out, too, for some marathon writing and painting and gardening time.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed May 21, 2014 7:14 pm

EdithKeeler wrote: Having scarcity makes you appreciate things more. Good luck with your long weekend—I’m stretching mine out, too, for some marathon writing and painting and gardening time.
Thanks, EK! I'm lining up a bunch of little things to do, some chores and some fun, but with minimal interaction with the rest of the world. Hope yours works out well too!

Someday I might pull the DSL plug for real and do something similar to what you describe. Although it's not the real reason, I could look at my experiment this weekend as an audition for that step.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Mon May 26, 2014 6:06 pm

Ginormous Meh

My plan to make a stay at home "retreat" out of the weekend was not a smashing success. The big struggle I have is putting aside my compulsion to fixate on what is undone and to incessantly plan/extrapolate into the future. That leaves little or no room to immerse myself in the present. Even conscious effort to tame my thoughts or consign them to the background provides no more than fleeting relief. It's very difficult to relax and enjoy a breath or an activity when my mind is nagging me to hurry and finish, or reminding me of the ubiquitous dozen or so undone tasks that await me.

So about the only thing I can take away from the weekend is a better understanding of how my brain is manipulating me to expend my time catering to its whims while neglecting the greater good. Perhaps it is as they say--that learning to observe one's stream of thoughts is the first step to regaining mastery from them. Time will tell. Perhaps in the days ahead I'll do better gaining mastery over my hand-wringy mind.

The closest I came to the relaxed state of being that I imagined was cooking ribs over a wood fire Saturday evening. There's something soothing about sitting at night and eating smoky seared meat, chewed messily from the bone, at the day's end when the body is tired. For those minutes I was what I was, a creature attending to his need for sustenance.

One of the side benefits of "just sitting" is that the animals around you eventually ignore you. I watched a great blue heron hunt for a while one afternoon in a small lake where I paused while walking. The thing would crouch along the bank, "knees" bent, its neck low, then pop its head up like a periscope and stand motionless for long minutes at a time. Then it would leap awkwardly head first about four feet out from the bank and then with a horrible racket half-fly, half-splash back to the bank. Certainly not the stereotype of a stealthy wading bird pulling morsels out from around its feet.

1taskaday
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by 1taskaday » Tue May 27, 2014 12:41 am

The quest to quieten the mind is the biggest challenge that I have ever tried to master and would have the same limited success that you seem to experience.

I have found Eckhart Tolle great for the theory behind this challenge but Byron Katie the best from a practical and implementary stance.

Right now my mind is similar to a roller coaster, from all the extroversion that my job exposes me to, (mostly petty conflicts with staff),BUT IN THE FUTURE... (ha,ha,ha,...living there again...) I plan to devote most of my energy and time trying the conquer "THE BEAST".

saving-10-years
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by saving-10-years » Tue May 27, 2014 2:39 am

@IlliniDave sounds like you know your weaknesses in this and scored some memories from this weekend that you wouldn't have if you had been tethered to the internet. So I'd consider re-grading that weekend as 'promising start'. As @1task says its a BIG challenge getting there, so not the work of a single (even long) weekend.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Tue May 27, 2014 6:17 pm

@1taskaday: I've tried listening to BK but I don't sense a lot of connection between her take on things and my journey through life. To me she seems focused on repairing dysfunctional personalities and relationships. I'm just looking to discard enough clutter that I can embrace life thoroughly as it unfolds, if that makes sense. Maybe I've missed out on some essential component of her (BK's) work?

@saving-10-years. You are correct: too much concern about progress and accomplishment is counterproductive. It's reflective of the side of me that I would like to be able to switch off when not needed. It would be better for me to learn to make my best effort at each juncture and not seek to measure.

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