Find Your Weakness; Overcome It

Perhaps you looked at last weeks standards and zeroed in on one that you are seriously lacking ability in.  You might be ashamed, and you might react against it because you fear being called out on that inability.  Instead of that, embrace it.  You cannot do this thing.  Great.  Now you know what you need to improve.  Go create a syllabus of sorts for yourself.

Perhaps it is the Knowledge of Jedi texts.
Seek them out.
Write them down.
Start to pick them apart, one by one and learn them.
Hell, create flash cards
(Example from my life: Before this years Gathering, Opie created a set of questions he asked on the review board.  In the week before, he used me as a guinea pig, giving me the test without any warning of what it would contain.  I was not happy with my score, so I wrote each text down in its entirety and then proceeded to break down the important points on flashcards.  By Saturday night of the Gathering, not even a week later, my score had already improved greatly.)

Perhaps it is Combat.
Go research Martial Arts styles, narrow them down to a few you are interested in and then start looking for schools in your area that teach them.  Don’t jump right into the first school though.  Check them out, make sure they are reputable.

Perhaps it is Physical Fitness.
How so?  Endurance?  Strength?  Flexibility?  All of the above?  Do the research on it and make steps to improve it.
(Example from my life:  I was a SIDS baby.  As a result of that, or maybe the cause of that, I have a birth defect, in which I get severe chest pains when I overexert myself (and sometimes just when I am stressed) and have less endurance than most.  For years I allowed it to rule my activities, never took regular gym class, always had notes from the doctor excusing me from doing the mile run tests, and just refused to challenge it.  Then one day, I decided I was done letting it dictate my life.  In November 2015 I ran my first 5K.  In June 2016 I ran an Obstacle Course/Mud Run 5K.  In July 2016 I ran my first 10K.  And, at the end of October, I will run my first 15K.  Yes, it is hard.  Yes, my times are kinda crap.  But yes, I can do it.)

Any of the standards can work this way, even problems with work or school as well.  Pinpoint your weaknesses and then find ways to overcome it, to become better than you were yesterday.  Do not worry about where others are, just worry about beating yourself each day.

If you have a difficult time figuring out exactly WHAT you should do to improve, consult someone who you respect in  that area.  If you are lucky enough to have found a good Jedi Master, consult them.  Consult a teacher.  Consult a friend who you admire.

 

 

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Standards

Jedi Standards.  It is an age old debate in the online communities, and it has been rehashed over and over and over again (in fact it was just recently brought up again on Facebook).  What makes one a Jedi?  In the movies, they are easily identified by their lightsabers, but we do not have that sort of technology.  They are chosen to be Jedi based on their Force abilities, but again, we lack use of the Force as it is portrayed in the fiction.  So what defines us as Jedi over the many other non-Force/lightsaber wielding Earthlings?

The easiest way to define standards, is to look at what is being tested.  Fortunately, thanks to Clone Wars cartoon and The Jedi Path book, we have The Jedi Trials:  Skill, Courage, Spirit, Flesh, and Insight.  While this IS fiction, thus far it seems the community has largely embraced these, basing their “trials” on them (in varying degrees).  I will go more into each of these in later posts, but here are the simple definitions as are in The Jedi Path book.

Trial of Skill
Demonstrates a Jedi’s competence with a lightsaber and the Force principles of Control.

Trial of Courage
Establishes a Jedi’s skill and fortitude in the face of danger and overwhelming odds.

Trial of Spirit
Tests a Jedi’s ability to vanquish inner battles and emerge unscathed.

Trial of the Flesh
Determines a Jedi’s capacity to overcome great pain.

Trial of Insight
Reveals a Jedi’s aptitude for distinguishing reality from illusion through deceptive challenges.

These, while good, are rather limited to Force ability and Combat.  However, I do like that there is a lot of emphasis on the physical as being physically fit is extremely important for a Jedi.  And more than just knowing how to fight, one should be fit.  But where is the knowledge?

At this years Gathering, there was quite a bit of controversy over what knowledge should be required, and I can see the room for argument as the Trial given list nothing about knowledge, other than that which would be implied in other trials.  If you go a little further back however, you find that in order to move from Initiate to Padawan, THAT is when the knowledge is required.

The Initiate Trials
You must demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the Jedi Code.
You must also demonstrate self-discipline through meditation and lightsaber combat.
You must prove that the Force flows through you and that you are not a rock stubbornly blocking its current.

Basically, the Three Pillars:

The Three Pillars of the Jedi
Force
Knowledge
Self-Discipline

While only the Jedi Code is mentioned, we SEE some of the initiates in class during the movies, the are obviously learning more than just five lines of code, especially as they are in the Temple for approximately 10 years (depending on when they are brought to the Temple and when they are accepted as Padawan’s).  All that they learn there is crucial to their lives as a Jedi.

So basically, Jedi spend their first thirteen years or less studying at the Temple.  In order to progress and be accepted as a Padawan, they need to prove their knowledge and basic skill with the Force and the lightsaber.  Once they have proven their knowledge, they go out into the galaxy and practice their skill, courage, spirit, and insight in practical application.

So, what is required of a Jedi?

Knowledge
Knowledge of the Jedi, of their history, of their texts, and of their ways.  Jedi should also have basic knowledge of the world and of communication and interaction with others.

Creative Thinking/Application
Just knowing and understanding is not enough, you need to be able to apply what you know to the world around you and to think on your feet.

Basic Combat
Even if a Jedi plans to follow a more scholarly route, they should be able to defend themselves and others, should the need arise.

Physical Fitness
Knowledge of Combat does little if you are not in proper shape to execute the knowledge.  A Jedi should be physically capable to handle whatever comes their way at all times (with consideration to physical limitations).

Physical Health
All the fitness in the world will not help you if you do not take care of yourself.  Eat well, stay hydrated, and take care of yourself when ill.

Mental Health
Not that you have to be an absolute picture of mental health, but any major issues that may affect your performance a a Jedi should be properly dealt with in whatever way you need to do so.

“Use of the Force”
More of a loose term here, since, as I have previously stated, we do not have use of the Force as the Jedi in the fiction do, but Jedi should have intimate knowledge of meditation and be in control of their emotion and reactions.

Behavior Befitting a Jedi
While we all have moment of weakness, a Jedi should strive to always be open-minded, respectful of others, and act from a place of peace.  Jedi should always think prior to words or actions.

 

The Most Difficult Thing…

The most difficult thing about coming back to the Jedi community after being away for so long is the feeling of being completely inconsequential.

Even though I never took on any titles or positions of high power even then, I still felt like a part of the community.  I was recognized throughout the community, and I think, for the most part, respected.

Coming back now, I joke that I am a shade, but I am almost completely unknown.  I observe silently in the Facebook groups and on forums, sometimes completely anonymously, and sit silently in chats watching others interact familiarly.

And people think you just need to jump back in, and may say that, but you can feel that you can’t.  I could write a million posts, but that does not mean anyone will read them.  I have become inconsequential and completely ineffective.  Even worse is interacting with others who know my history, but there is still some level of needing to prove myself once again.

I still intend on remaining sans title, and it is not that I am craving a whole bunch of extra responsibility with everything else going on in my life, but it is extremely difficult to be standing on the outside and looking in on a community that I was there for the beginnings of, and feeling like people who came along a decade later require me to prove myself.  So I joke, but I really am somewhat of a shade.  I am the old hermit sitting out in some remote location (my tiny inconsequential wordpress blog) and only interacting with others on special occasions.

Some days I am perfectly okay with that.  Other days I really struggle.

Mock Gathering – Hawai’i

Opie and I were recently entertaining the idea of a Hawaii gathering, and I took it a step further and decided to start researching the logistics (although I believe Opie was the one who first looked at the Mauna Lea Manor, but it was me who got him to start looking after I was obsessing over a purple house…I like purple).

Accommodations:
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9550919?checkin=07%2F26%2F2018&checkout=07%2F29%2F2018&guests=16&s=eCjnVOJh

http://maunaleamanor.weebly.com/

This location was not the first to catch my eye, but it is by far the most economical, and the look of the place is fantastic.  This is located on the Big Island, and they would probably be flexible on how many houses we rent depending on how many people sign up.

Activities:
The Mauna Lea Manor description on Air B&B talks about ability to contact “doctors, massage therapists, chiropractors, yoga teachers, scuba instructors, any style of dance you like, hunting, fishing, archery,etc. ”  Evidently the husband owns a boat for Scuba Diving or Fishing, so it would be interesting to do either.  Also, I always love the idea of Archery, and it would be great to have a group Yoga session or some other similar activity, maybe even a Hula lesson.

Surfing – When in Hawaii, right?  I started looking into possible classes, but have not yet found anything very affordable.  This might fall under Mauna Lea Manor ability to contact people though, so it is still a possibility.  Even if it were just a lesson on the beach learning how to stand on the board, I think it would be fun and beneficial.

(I claim no responsibility if Lelo and Stitch ends up being watched….who am I kidding?  I will probably watch all the movies and TV episodes just to prepare.  I have the soundtrack running through my brain right now.)

Workshops?:
Mauna Kea/Mauna Loa/Lōʻihi – The Hawaiian Islands were entirely formed off of a volcanic plum, so it seems a great please to learn about volcano’s.  The Big Island has two main volcano’s: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  There is also a new Seamount, Lōʻihi, forming off the coast of the Big Island.  There could be an in house lesson about volcanoes, as well as an outing to one of the ones on the island to actually see it in person.

 

My Practice – TV Routine

Autumn is back (well, almost)!  That means changing leaves, Halloween, my birthday (boo), hot chocolate, and the return of TV shows!

Back when I was in school, I never watched TV.  I was at Acrobatics, or Tap, or spotting Acrobatics, or at Diving practice, or Color Guard, or Orchesis, or Tech Crew….the list literally goes on forever, I was very active.

Then, a few years ago, I realized something.  I watch a LOT of television.  Seriously…from 7-10 Monday-Thursday I am pretty booked solid, and then Sunday nights too, and there are still shows I have to record because they overlap.  I do not know how or when that happened, but it did. When they cancel shows I watch, it is sort of a relief.

All that time in front of the television means time not spent training though, so I created a TV Routine.  A circuit of exercises I can do while watching television…then during commercial breaks I can read or work on something that requires my brain.

TV ROUTINE
16 Jumping Jacks
16 In and Out Bicep Curls
16 Squats
16 In and Out Lateral Raises
16 Calf Raises (alternating 45-degree, parallel, and toes in)
16 Shoulder Presses
16 Pliés
16 Overhead Tricep Extensions
20-Second Plank
16 Laying Shoulder Flyes
16 Laying Hip Raises
16 Ball Squeezes
16 Each of Four Wrist Grip Positions (two each hand)

The routine is much longer than when it started, and it usually takes me two sections of shows (commercial breaks between sections) to complete a circuit, but even if I only did one of these per show on a week night…that is three sets, and it is better than sitting on the couch.

Flashback – My Attempt at a Temple: The Curriculum

The curriculum I came up with for the Temple was very crudely done at the time, and most of my notes are a bit…confusing now.  My plan was meant as a starting point though.  As I gained the assistance of other Jedi, I had hoped to refine the curriculum further.

I began this post as just typing out the subjects by week, but realized it was very confusing, so here is a handy, dandy chart.

Screenshot 2016-08-24 12.04.03

YEAR ONE
The first year was a basic introduction to being a Jedi.  The first 20 weeks or so was basic lessons about Jedi in general, followed by a week break.  Returning from break, there were four weeks of Basic Meditation, five weeks of Basic Physical Fitness, five weeks of Tolerance, and three weeks of dealing with Emotions.  After a second break, there was another eight weeks of Beginning Meditation, four weeks of additional Jedi basics to prep the students for year two, and then a final week break for the end of the year.

YEAR TWO
The second year would again start with general Jedi information for six weeks, and then Intermediate Meditation for five weeks.  The first break would be in week twelve, followed by two weeks of First Aid, nine weeks of Sword Basics, and then a second break.  Next was four more weeks of Meditation, and nine weeks of basic Martial Arts in which various forms would be looked at.  Finally five weeks of “Wisdom” training (as it is called in my notes) before a third break.  The last chunk of the year would have four weeks of Intermediate meditation, three weeks of what looks like it was rules but changed to something unknown, and then three final weeks of prep into Year Three.

YEAR THREE
Year Three only has a one week Intro, and then right on to Advanced Meditation and Basic Force Exercises before the first break.  After the break it returns to Force exercises, and then more Advanced Meditation, and then a second break.  The final chunk of the year is Chakras, a third block of Advanced Meditation, and then a final break before Year Four.

YEAR FOUR & FIVE
I never wrote out outlines for these years, with the idea that they would be more specifically tailored towards each individual student.  They could have however been utilized for additional lessons, which I will discuss below.  The biggest individualized thing though, was combat based.  In years four and five I wanted each student to find a Martial Arts school in a form of their choosing and begin training.

If you want to understand just how much I worked on this and reworked things just back when I started, here are pictures of the schedule notes.

CHANGES
Looking back at these now, the training was pretty simplistic, but again, it was a first draft of the program, and it was years ahead of what other sites had at the time (and what many sites have now from what I have seen).  Were I to return to the project, there are lots of things I would add in and a few things I would remove.

First off, I always wanted to include a general education requirement.  Basically a baseline of general knowledge that met or exceeded requirements across the board in all countries.  It would take a lot of research and work to compile this, but I think it is important for Jedi to have a strong general knowledge background.

Second, I wanted to add in lessons in basic Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Wilderness Survival/Camping, and a few other more specialized topics.

Third, I would like to weave in more of the “For Jedi By Jedi” texts.  Only a few were included back then, but I believe it is important to study them at least briefly, whether they are still applicable or not.

Fourth, I would like to standardize the schedule a bit more.  Have all breaks at generally the same time, and have a rotation of lessons, so that if you have a teacher that specializes in one area, let’s say Meditation for this example, they can work with the First Years for a few weeks, then the Second Years after that, then the Third Years after that….ecc., so they are not doing all the work at once.

Fifth, there are actually quite a few lessons I would remove.  They are either unnecessary, or outdated, or more applicable to paths other than Jedi.  There is also far too much time spent on Force Studies, which until someone uncovers an ability to access the Force, is pretty useless in real world application.

Finally, I would stretch out the training for all five years (I really think there is enough material), but I would also add in a personal fitness goals section throughout the course instead of just at the end, where a teacher could work with students on individual fitness goals.

 

Seriously Ask Yourself: Do I Really Want to BE a Jedi?

Close your eyes and imagine a group of Jedi from the movie.  Does not matter if you see known Jedi like Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Yoda, Mace, ecc; or nameless Jedi…picture them in your mind.  What do they look like?  What can they do?  What do they practice everyday to maintain their position as Jedi?

Are you willing to do this to be a Jedi?

Can you honestly say that you train, in any semblance of way like they would?
Do you study the history and the texts?
Do you practice diplomacy and approach things with a calm mind?
Do you meditate?
Do you practice combat/self defense?
Do you train your muscles?
Do you work on increasing your endurance?
Do you learn?
Do you do all of these regularly?

If you can honestly answer yes to all of these, great!  Carry on.

If you say no to some, why?  Does the history and knowledge not matter?  Do you think meditation is pointless?  Do you not feel like getting off the couch to be physically fit?  Be honest with yourself, what is the reason you are not doing these things, because these are things the Jedi would be doing.  If you were in the fictional universe, you could not make these excuses and BE a Jedi.

Yes, there are exceptions.  If you are physically disabled, for example, there are limitations.  But those are limitations, not excuses.

And perhaps you said no to some things, but have already recognized the short coming and are working to make changes.  Great!  Carry on.

However, if you are set on excuses, or you do not see some of this as necessary, then you might need to rethink this path.

Yes, I get it.  The Jedi of the fiction are awesome, and it would be incredible to wield a lightsaber, and move things around the room using just the Force, but that is not our reality (not in the ways seen in the movie at least, unless you can move things with your mind, which please, show me you can and I will eat my words).  If it all boils down to the lightsaber and the Force, and running around in Jedi robes, and all the rest is inconsequential to you; then you are not a Jedi, you are a fan.  There is no shame in that.  BE who you claim to be.  Claim no more than you are.