100 Days – Mental Health with Josh Sundquist

I really enjoyed this video in the series.  If you have not followed along, John hates meditation, so this video brings in Josh Sundquist, a Paralympian, who discusses his practice with fitness, and focuses a lot on the M in his fitness acronym (JERM).  It is also just inspiring to see how this person rose above his physical limitations, even at such a young age.  It makes me feel lazy…I need to go workout…crap…I am at work.

 

JERM
Journaling
Exercise
Reading
Meditation

I never assigned myself an acronym, but this is really the core of my daily practice.  I do not always write everyday, but I rely on it heavily when my mind is feeling full and jumbled (I should really do it everyday).  I exercise daily.  I have a reading schedule and try to read a little bit every day, even if it is just 20 pages or so.  And I meditation daily, generally twice a day.

I think I am going to check out Josh Sundquist’s channel as well.

Mantras

“I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.”

We have all heard it, we have all said it by now.  Many of us have giggled at them as someone throws them out as a joke, not out of disrespect, just because the context was amusing.  Chirrut Imwe’s words echo in our heads in repetition as they did throughout the movie.  I think most, if not all Jedi out there connected with his character, a character who believed strongly in the Force and could feel it, but could not harness it and use it as the Jedi did, yet still chose to live by their ideals.

His words have since become a mantra for many Jedi, and of course many are working them into meditations or looking for ways to do so.  Thus far, my favorite use has been with Mala Beads.

I bought my mala beads several years ago, I had wanted some for a while, and this particular string called to me.  It is an amethyst set (purple IS my favorite color), and only has 106 beads to the standard 108 (six is my lucky number).  They usually sit wrapped around my bedpost, and I use them for various mantras as needed.

The idea is, that you hold the string of beads in your hands, and you gradually move your fingers on one hand from bead to bead, reciting your mantra for each bead, focusing on the words and the meaning as a form of meditation.  There is one bead that where the string is tied off, on my string it has a tassel on the end, so you can begin or end with that one.  I like to end with it personally.  The beads make for a nice focusing point, as well as a good way of tracking yourself without consciously counting.

Some other mantras I have used are the recitation of the Jedi Code (sometimes only one line, sometimes the entire code per bead, sometimes one line per bead with the last bead being the entire code (as I use the five line).  I have also used various quotes from the fiction.

Recently I wrote a line for myself to remind myself of my worth in something…as I begun, the words did not mean much, but as I neared the end, I found myself in tears as I began to fully realize the meaning and truth behind the simple words.  Mantras can be powerful things, and only in the act of repeating them can we fully digest and understand the wisdom in the words.  So, get on board with Chirrut and start repeating your mantras.

100 Days

A couple of YouTube personalities I follow (you may have heard of the one, John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars) are going to spend 100 days, starting on January 1st, to make “lasting, meaningful, healthy changes in their lives.”  It looks really interesting.  In this intro video, John mentions meeting with a dietitian, a trainer, and a psychologist, as well as doing meditation, obstacle courses, rock climbing, ecc.  I might post a few videos if I find them really helpful, but otherwise it might be good to follow and watch (no, I am in no way affiliated, I just think it looks really helpful and interesting) for inspiration and information.

Coursea Course on Buddhist Meditation

This course just began yesterday, free to audit.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/buddhist-meditation

About this Course:
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World explores the immense variety of meditation practices past and present. We present their histories, their philosophical underpinnings, their transformations in the modern global world, and we give you a chance to reflect upon meditation practices through secular contemplations designed just for this course. We use a traditional, if overly simplistic, way of grouping Buddhist philosophical systems and ritual-contemplative practices into “three vehicles”, three programs of theory and practice supporting the personal journey from suffering to enlightenment. This scheme became normative in India and Tibet: (i) the Lesser Vehicle (Hīnayāna), (ii) the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna), and (iii) the Adamantine Vehicle (Vajrayāna), also referred to as “esoteric Buddhism” or “Buddhist tantra”. To this, we will add a fourth Vehicle which is explicit in many Tibetan materials, though no standard term ever emerged that was accepted by all sectarian traditions – we will thus term it as the “Natural Vehicle” or “Post Tantra”. We follow an indigenous Tibetan tradition in terms of characterizing each with a specific orientational paradigm – repression, refinement, transformation, and natural freedom. These twelve meditative traditions constitute the framework for the course’s discussion of the main streams of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. The five modules of the present course, dedicated to “Lesser Vehicle” practices and perspectives, treat the first five of these twelve types. Each module in turn has four components: (i) the specific Buddhist meditation in its traditional presentation and practice; (ii) modern scientific research into its efficacy and dynamics, or on practices, principles, and processes related to this type of meditation in our analysis; (iii) the fact, problems, and opportunities of modern secular adaptations in a variety of educational, professional, and personal settings; and (iv) secular practices for experimentation, which are either direct adaptations or new practices designed to give an experiential sense of some of the principles underlying the Buddhist meditative practice.

Be More Centered

Something you will see pretty much all Jedi agree on is meditation.  Meditation comes in various forms, sitting vs. moving, solo vs. guided, focused vs. emptying, ecc.  The key is to find the method that works best for you.  This is not about me teaching you how to meditate, just giving you the resources, so lets get right to it.

Links

  • Holosync – The full program is ridiculously expensive, and the website looks like a cheap infomercial product, but the free demo has some nice ambient sounds.
  • UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center – A variety of guided meditations, including a few in Spanish.
  • A Soft Murmur – A website with various ambient sounds to play in the background, and you can adjust the volume of each.
  • Ambient Mixer – I have only just begun to explore this site, but I especially love the “Movies and Series” themes.  Plus you can adjust the levels of various sounds to tune out something that you do not really like.
  • 7 Cups of Tea – You can complete daily wellness challenges, or connect with a live “listener” for free.  Completely anonymous.

YouTube Channels 

Apps

  • Buddhify – Eighty different guided meditations tailored to what you are doing, ranging from five-thirty minutes, and a timer for non-guided meditations.  Great program, $3 though. Android | iOS
  • Calm – Has a seven day program, and choices of sound and length of time as well as scenes to focus on visualy.  Multpile guided and unguided sessions.  Subscription for 21-day prgram. Android | iOS
  • Headspace – Free ten day program, great for learning meditation and has a buddy system. Android | iOS
  • Daylio – This app asks you each day how your day went so that you can track your moods over time.  Android | iOS not yet available, see website
  • Zen Koi – Part smartphone game, part zen.  It is like having a zen garden on your phone, except you are a Koi fish trying to become a dragon.  Android | iOS

 Books

Art
(I am adding this as a late edit (12/12/2016) after a conversation with Opie last night.  Art can be a great visual focus for meditation, and Escher’s is some of the best)