The Daily Mindfulness Thread

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09 Dec 2018 14:02 #330399 by Connor L.
The Daily Mindfulness Thread

I have noticed that everybody who is on a spiritual path, at some point, encounters the potentially confusing topic of mindfulness. What is it? Why does every person who says they practice it look like an Indian guru? Why can’t I, Joe Shmoe, look as happy as that other guy? Wait? I have to spend 3 hours a day in meditation?

Calm thyself, Joe. I recommend taking a couple of deep breaths. Mindfulness is an overwhelming topic, but it certainly is not complicated; it’s just foreign to many of us. We walk through our lives focusing on thinking and analyzing. Our education system taught us to approach every problem with logic and problem-solving skills. I think it would be worth it to let go of such things. Analysis and problem-solving have its place, but mindfulness has a place too.

Mindfulness is, very basically, an intentional act. Any intentional act. Some call it “paying attention”. The act does not need to be physical; it can be a mental action, an emotional action, or even a spiritual action.

Take a deep breath and pay attention to the cold air entering your nostrils. Let it out. You’ve just been mindful for a handful of seconds. It’s an amazing achievement, and a wonderful blessing.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, and meditation is a form of mindfulness. Though, their overlap does not equate them. Mindfulness has a large portion of its scope that isn’t purely meditative.

I am creating this thread to be a space to explore mindfulness a little bit at a time. Daily, I will publish here a couple hundred words on the topic. Going deeper, exploring what mindfulness is, why we do it, how you can practice it, and how you can deepen your practice over time.

I will be including teachings that are not my own. I will include Jedi teachings, Western spirituality, and even some Eastern thought in the mix. Rest assured that there will be plenty of space for your participation. Please post your own inspirational quotations, links to books on the subject, and even responses to what you’re learning. My hope is that students for years to come will see a thread that is hundreds of pages long exploring this most foundational and therefore imperative subject.

The Temple needs to be a more mindful place. I would appreciate all open and clear minds to join me here in celebrating the joys of mindfulness and being ok with the present moment. I’m a student too! I’m not going to be your mindfulness teacher. Only, I will be here to point you to those much greater than I.

May the Force Light your Path,
Zeph

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09 Dec 2018 14:29 #330405 by Connor L.
Your First Step into a Mindful World

I wanted to include a very, very brief introduction to mindfulness practice so that you can have a short task to do each day.

Mindfulness is going to the gym and working out your mind. You are making your attention muscles stronger. So, starting small to “get your form” and practicing consistently will get you far all on its own.

First thing to do is decide that you want to have a stronger mind. And, figure out why that is. Many people come to mindfulness because they think they should be mindful. I would caution that’s a bad reason to practice. And, you won’t stick with it. Think about why you became a Jedi. Why do you want to improve the quality of your mind? Write this down in your mindfulness journal near the front so you revisit your why often.

The next thing to do is to begin paying attention. The very simplest method is shamatha meditation. At its core, you center your attention on an object. For many beginners, the object best be the breath.

Sit on a chair. [if you have a meditative posture, such as lotus, cushion on the ground, etc. go for it] Feel the sensation of sitting. Feel your feet on the ground. Feel your behind touching the chair. Feel your spine strengthening. Feel your head being upright with a slight downward glance of the eyes.

Breathe.

Feel yourself focusing on the breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Don’t force the breath to be long. Just breathe naturally.

When thoughts come your way, simply ask yourself (politely) to come back to the breath. “Thinking” or “Focus on breathing” is all you need to say. Do this every time.

Set a timer for 5 minutes. If that’s too hard, try 2 minutes. Increase by 2-3 minutes every few days until you are doing 15-20 minutes a day.

If you don’t have time to meditate, make it 30 minutes. ;)

If you come to the cushion and you cannot focus, then just sit there and allow your monkey mind to play.

Do that every day till the monkey mind is played out. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Have patience with your mind; it’s quite busy.

The key is to come back to the cushion every day. No exceptions. Consistency will build your mindfulness.

Start with this practice. In a month, we will revisit practice and see how it’s going.

If you spend a year coming every day to the cushion and you can’t get past 5 minutes of monkey mind play, you’re on the right track. Give it another year. Sometimes, progress is slow. There is no endgame. And you are always bettering yourself if you come to the cushion consistently.

Check back in 20 years. Maybe the monkey will finally shut up and you can get some peace. You are only in control of one thing: coming to the cushion. That’s it. That’s all you’re responsible for today.

May the Force Light Your Path,
Zeph

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10 Dec 2018 14:38 #330527 by Connor L.
Making meditation Accessible

I have been an off and on again meditator for years. And, one of the things I always hear from Jedi is that they can’t meditate due to physical pain or mental illness. Somebody with ADHD might have a very difficult time sitting still for even 5 minutes. God knows that I am the same way.

Perhaps you’ve got a back problem and sitting for 5 minutes without moving sounds like a torture session.

I have been brainstorming ways to make meditation accessible to people with all manner of conditions. Today, I will present a meditation for people with ADHD or any disorder that inhibits executive function.

Two options: Movement Meditation and Flow State Meditation

Movement Meditation is very simple. Begin walking in a large circle. If you can, walk very slowly, making the feel of your feet on the ground the object of meditation. If you cannot do that, walk normally, taking in every detail from around you that you can. What does the air sound like? Feet feel like against the ground? What smells are in the breeze? Try to walk half a mile to a mile for each segment. At the end of the segment, try sitting for a minute or two. See if you can’t come to the breath for that short time.

If that doesn’t work, try attending a yoga class. Extreme positions will hold your focus and will help to train the body and concentration.

Flow State Meditation:
This one is popular with executive function people. Pick something you’re really into. For me, it’s playing piano. Maybe it’s a video game. And then, go hard. And I mean, really hard. Get into the object totally and completely. Set the timer for 10-20 minutes depending on your time availability. At the end of the segment, try sitting and deep breathing for 2-3 minutes, just keeping the focus on the breath.

The idea is to wear your brain out with physical or mental activity. Get into a state of flow. Then sit and let the brain relax.

If you fall asleep, it’s because you worked too hard. Don’t run the mile. Walk it. If you go slow, half a mile will work. Just keep looking for ways to exhaust yourself before getting into a couple of minutes of focus work.

If it’s only 30 seconds at first, great! That’s 30 more seconds than you had yesterday. Keep it up!

If you have a request for a certain type of debilitating condition, post here and I’ll come up with an alternative for you.

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10 Dec 2018 21:29 - 10 Dec 2018 21:30 #330583 by Connor L.
You can’t fail at Meditation!

Dan Harris and Lion’s Roar

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Last edit: 10 Dec 2018 21:30 by Connor L..
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15 Dec 2018 03:13 #330964 by Connor L.
I can't believe I haven't updated this in four days. Here are FOUR moments of Zen!

(I will be posting a meditation style request report tomorrow!!! Stay tuned)

1. Don’t chase happiness because you won’t find it in other people and material things – it’s in YOU. Learn to develop your abilities and reflect back on your achievements because that’s the only road to happiness.

2. If you’re satisfied with yourself and you know you’re good, smart, and worthy, you won’t find it necessary that other people think or say the same things about you.

3. If you want something really bad, don’t wait around and don’t ask for someone’s permission to have or do it. Make sure you’re the one who have control over that.

4. A mature person possesses knowledge and knows how to put it in action. An immature one often has knowledge but doesn’t know how to wisely and effectively use it so as to achieve what they want and better themselves. That’s why, immature people criticize others and the mature ones don’t.

(Source: us.wakeupyourmind.net/life/worlds-leadin...HCaZEWimmzh-Oz3FXHjU )

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16 Dec 2018 18:23 #331067 by Connor L.
Fasting!

So, fasting is a very interesting challenge, and it can be done for spiritual, religious, or even dietary reasons.

If you want to try fasting, here are some really common sense guidelines:
1. If you have any metabolic condition (diabetes, heart disease, etc.), you must check with your doctor to find how safe it is for you to fast.
2. Start with something small. Skip breakfast one day. Then again the next day. Keep it up. But, eat more for lunch and dinner.
3. Eventually, try to go 24 hours without food. If you can’t because of medications, go 20 hours.
4. Lastly, if you feel up to it and you’re healthy enough, try to go 48-72 hours fasted.

What to eat during a fast?

Why are you asking that question? Don’t eat anything. Drink water and zero calorie drinks (like tea and coffee). A splash of cream might be ok. But it could make you hungry. Be careful.

Another thing to do during longer (24-72 hr) fasts is replenish your electrolytes by: drinking 3 cups of broth per day, stir in 1g of potassium in the form of “low salt” per cup of broth, and by taking 3-400mg of magnesium (I recommend glycinate or malate) in pill form.

Drink enough water that your urine is pale yellow by day 2.

Again! Do not fast unless you are healthy or have a doctor’s permission.

Tomorrow, we’ll dicuss the “why”’s of fasting. See you then!

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18 Dec 2018 03:49 #331177 by Connor L.
Why might one fast?

There are a lot of reasons one might choose to fast. What I will not cover are dietary reasons. I think, in a lot of ways, I am unqualified to address it. But, if you are interested, look up Jason Fung and the Intensive Dietary Management clinic. They have wonderful info on dietary fasting.

Now, on to the reasons one might fast spiritually.

You might decide to fast for disciplinary reasons. This is the highest level of a fast. And, by high level, I mean it doesn't go very deep in terms of thought processes. You can be a rank beginner in spirituality and find that fasting helps you develop discipline. You wake up every morning, and you can replace breakfast with 10 minutes of mindfulness activity. If you are repulsed by the idea of sitting and doing nothing in the morning, I recommend using the time to set goals for the day and to keep a gratitude journal. I'll cover more on the gratitude journal tomorrow! After this, eat lunch and dinner normally. (try to eat dinner about 16 hours before breakfast. Which means... around 4-5PM for most people. If you get hungry before bed, either drink some broth or sit with the hunger. That can be a very powerful exercise. It isn't hard to see how this builds discipline. You are taking something away (food, pleasure) and replacing it with something that doesn't have short term benefit (mindfulness).

Trust me, I don't get joy in the moment when I turn my devices off and sit for 20 minutes every day. In fact, sometimes it really bugs me. Occasionally, it's the best thing in the world. But, no matter what, I do it. That is the way life works best. You are training yourself to not be ruled by what is pleasure-ful. You don't want to be a slave to your desires. That is anti-Jedi.

What are deeper level reasons for fasting? Perhaps you want to practice as an ascetic. Those are people who remove their pleasures to feel spiritually engaged. In small doses, this can be an effective tool. The great stoic teacher, Epictetus, said that we should always prepare for a hard winter. Practice going without food so that when the difficulty comes, you can handle the emotional and mental challenge better. A short warning, please don't become an ascetic... The path can be dangerous and hasn't been shown to cause any sort of benefit. There is evidence that a small amount of pleasure-reduction extends the life span, but it doesn't mean drinking banana juice for every meal until you die. Use your common sense, and use asceticism as a tool.

Another deep level tool is fasting for connection with the Force. Similar to asceticism, this is the act of abstaining from food as a form of prayer. Some fast to mimic the trials Jesus went through in the desert.. learning to resist temptation as Jesus so confidently did in the Bible. There are actually a few forms of fasting in the Bible. I recommend talking to Setanaoko if you want to learn more. She has a lot of interesting info on the topic.


Schedule for the upcoming days:
Tomorrow: Daily Gratitude!
Thursday: Meditation for those with Tinnitus
Friday: Prayer as Meditation?

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20 Dec 2018 20:32 #331343 by Connor L.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal

Have you ever thought about keeping a gratitude journal? Why would you do it? This post is for you.

I will give you a mini-guide to why this practice can be magical for your growth on the Jedi path.

First, the first step to any sort of spiritual progress is to realize how blessed you are to be here in this universe. You are an expression of the Living Force, and that means you are a source of divine energy. As a skeptical mystic, I'm sure those words coming out of my hands are bound to turn some heads. I know it sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but it's not. The Living Force is the connection between all things, living and non-living. And, divine energy is synonymous with that Living Force. It is divine because we choose to make it special. We choose to make it meaningful.

So, finding that meaning requires us to see the positives in our lives. Our brains are wired to highlight the negative things. You ever take a test and get one problem wrong? What do you remember the next day? You remember the one problem you messed up on! Why is this? Here's an article that discusses negative bias: www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/2003...brains-negative-bias

Here's what the take away is... we need to have FIVE positive thoughts to every ONE negative thought to really balance out our perception of our life. In marriage, this was the key to long-term stable marriages. The positives are powerful in numbers.

We overcome this bias by purposefully and intentionally finding positive things in our lives to counterbalance the negative.

Have you been down during the holidays? Does it seem, more and more, that the negative things are drowning you? Is it all overwhelming?

I understand your pain. I really do.

Take the time, twice a day, to write down 2-3 things you are grateful for. For me, I use the morning journaling time to write down general gratitudes. In the evening, I use journaling time to write down good things that happened that specific day.

Don't miss a day for a month. See what changes in your life. Resolve to start this today! It takes 2 minutes per day. That's it.

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23 Dec 2018 00:39 #331450 by Connor L.
Hi! Reaaalllyyy busy time of year for me. Forgive me if I miss a day or just post an article for your use.

A Little Happier with Gretchen Rubin: Change


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24 Dec 2018 04:04 #331514 by Connor L.

Look for the Bare Necessities of Life
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