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Posts tagged "meditation"

Dec 16, 2013
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Coke vs. Pepsi

Earlier this year I had a vision while meditating of a Pepsi machine glowing in a dark cave. Then I was clicking around this morning and found this photo of a Coke machine in the middle of a field after a Tsunami…

Sep 28, 2013
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Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lighting, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one’s soul. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead.

Jun 11, 2013
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Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

I had this on my Kindle for a while, but my friend Mark Larson wrote such a good review I had to read it:


  What a fine book. If, like me, you have ongoing interest in stoicism, happiness, mindfulness meditation, thinking about death and failure, and tend to be a skeptical of your Rhonda Byrne/Tony Robbins types (but are at the same time, kind of amused by them), you’ll probably like [it.]


Check! Check! Check! On a side note, one of my favorite things about the book is that it riffs on self-help books without totally abandoning the winning structure of many self-help books—in each chapter, there’s usually a story, mentions of a few studies, and a lesson, or extrapolation. (The Malcolm Gladwell-ish “story-study-lesson” formula.) It works.

Some favorite bits, below.

A great description of meditation:


  Meditation, the way he described it, was a way to stop running. You sat still, and watched your thoughts and emotions and desires and aversions come and go, and you resisted the urge to try to flee from them, to fix them, or to cling to them. You practised non-attachment, in other words. Whatever came up, negative or positive, you stayed present and observed it. It wasn’t about escaping into ecstasy – or even into calmness, as the word is normally understood; and it certainly wasn’t about positive thinking. It was about the significantly greater challenge of declining to do any of that.


The importance of routine:


  [T]he daily rituals and working routines of prolific authors and artists – people who really do get a lot done – very rarely include techniques for ‘getting motivated’ or ‘feeling inspired’. Quite the opposite: they tend to emphasise the mechanics of the working process, focusing not on generating the right mood, but on accomplishing certain physical actions, regardless of mood. Anthony Trollope wrote for three hours each morning before leaving to go to his job as an executive at the post office; if he finished a novel within a three-hour period, he simply moved on to the next. (He wrote forty-seven novels over the course of his life.) The routines of almost all famous writers, from Charles Darwin to John Grisham, similarly emphasise specific starting times, or number of hours worked, or words written. Such rituals provide a structure to work in, whether or not the feeling of motivation or inspiration happens to be present. They let people work alongside negative or positive emotions, instead of getting distracted by the effort of cultivating only positive ones. ‘Inspiration is for amateurs,’ the artist Chuck Close once memorably observed. ‘The rest of us just show up and get to work.’


On the connection between capitalism and our concept of “failure”:


  One crucial development, he argues, was the emergence of credit rating agencies, whose role was to sit in judgment upon individuals seeking loans from banks, helping the banks determine the risk they would be taking by making the loan. In a society increasingly dominated by business, a bad credit rating could all too easily come to be seen as a verdict condemning a whole person – and it is from the language of credit rating, Sandage notes, that we take several modern idioms for describing someone’s moral worth, such as ‘good-for-nothing’ and ‘first-rate’. Failure, he writes, became transformed from a bump in the road of life to the place at which ‘the story stops’. From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, failure started to be thought of ‘not merely [as] a cataclysm that adds to the plot of your life, but [as] something that stops your life cold, because you lose a sense of your future’.


And not fearing death:


  Why do you fear the eternal oblivion of death, he wonders, if you don’t look back with horror at the eternal oblivion before you were born – which, as far as you were concerned, was just as eternal, and just as much an oblivion? Vladimir Nabokov famously opens his memoir Speak, Memory with lines that drive this point home: ‘The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with much more calm than the one he is headed for.’ If you weren’t traumatised by not having yet been born, it seems logical not to worry about being traumatised by being dead.


Lots of great stuff here. Recommended.

Filed under: my reading year 2013

Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

I had this on my Kindle for a while, but my friend Mark Larson wrote such a good review I had to read it:

What a fine book. If, like me, you have ongoing interest in stoicism, happiness, mindfulness meditation, thinking about death and failure, and tend to be a skeptical of your Rhonda Byrne/Tony Robbins types (but are at the same time, kind of amused by them), you’ll probably like [it.]

Check! Check! Check! On a side note, one of my favorite things about the book is that it riffs on self-help books without totally abandoning the winning structure of many self-help books—in each chapter, there’s usually a story, mentions of a few studies, and a lesson, or extrapolation. (The Malcolm Gladwell-ish “story-study-lesson” formula.) It works.

Some favorite bits, below.

A great description of meditation:

Meditation, the way he described it, was a way to stop running. You sat still, and watched your thoughts and emotions and desires and aversions come and go, and you resisted the urge to try to flee from them, to fix them, or to cling to them. You practised non-attachment, in other words. Whatever came up, negative or positive, you stayed present and observed it. It wasn’t about escaping into ecstasy – or even into calmness, as the word is normally understood; and it certainly wasn’t about positive thinking. It was about the significantly greater challenge of declining to do any of that.

The importance of routine:

[T]he daily rituals and working routines of prolific authors and artists – people who really do get a lot done – very rarely include techniques for ‘getting motivated’ or ‘feeling inspired’. Quite the opposite: they tend to emphasise the mechanics of the working process, focusing not on generating the right mood, but on accomplishing certain physical actions, regardless of mood. Anthony Trollope wrote for three hours each morning before leaving to go to his job as an executive at the post office; if he finished a novel within a three-hour period, he simply moved on to the next. (He wrote forty-seven novels over the course of his life.) The routines of almost all famous writers, from Charles Darwin to John Grisham, similarly emphasise specific starting times, or number of hours worked, or words written. Such rituals provide a structure to work in, whether or not the feeling of motivation or inspiration happens to be present. They let people work alongside negative or positive emotions, instead of getting distracted by the effort of cultivating only positive ones. ‘Inspiration is for amateurs,’ the artist Chuck Close once memorably observed. ‘The rest of us just show up and get to work.’

On the connection between capitalism and our concept of “failure”:

One crucial development, he argues, was the emergence of credit rating agencies, whose role was to sit in judgment upon individuals seeking loans from banks, helping the banks determine the risk they would be taking by making the loan. In a society increasingly dominated by business, a bad credit rating could all too easily come to be seen as a verdict condemning a whole person – and it is from the language of credit rating, Sandage notes, that we take several modern idioms for describing someone’s moral worth, such as ‘good-for-nothing’ and ‘first-rate’. Failure, he writes, became transformed from a bump in the road of life to the place at which ‘the story stops’. From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, failure started to be thought of ‘not merely [as] a cataclysm that adds to the plot of your life, but [as] something that stops your life cold, because you lose a sense of your future’.

And not fearing death:

Why do you fear the eternal oblivion of death, he wonders, if you don’t look back with horror at the eternal oblivion before you were born – which, as far as you were concerned, was just as eternal, and just as much an oblivion? Vladimir Nabokov famously opens his memoir Speak, Memory with lines that drive this point home: ‘The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with much more calm than the one he is headed for.’ If you weren’t traumatised by not having yet been born, it seems logical not to worry about being traumatised by being dead.

Lots of great stuff here. Recommended.

Filed under: my reading year 2013

Apr 25, 2013
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Catching The Big Ridiculous Fish


  “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure.They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”
  —David Lynch

Catching The Big Ridiculous Fish

“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure.They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”
David Lynch

Apr 10, 2013
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fielder:

I wrote a blog post about Mindfulness Meditation.
The important thing is to actually meditate, so try to do it along with them in the “Introduction to” podcasts. On my own I started out doing it daily 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, and now I do 25 minutes, using a timer. Some days it goes well and I get concentrated and some days I sit and just think about stuff and try to relax. It’s one of those things that can sometimes seem like a chore, but you never regret doing it. It gets better the more you do it, like exercising any skill. 


Ah! This is so great. Love Kevin’s work and I’m obsessed with meditation right now.

fielder:

I wrote a blog post about Mindfulness Meditation.

The important thing is to actually meditate, so try to do it along with them in the “Introduction to” podcasts. On my own I started out doing it daily 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, and now I do 25 minutes, using a timer. Some days it goes well and I get concentrated and some days I sit and just think about stuff and try to relax. It’s one of those things that can sometimes seem like a chore, but you never regret doing it. It gets better the more you do it, like exercising any skill.

Ah! This is so great. Love Kevin’s work and I’m obsessed with meditation right now.

Mar 17, 2013
Permalink
I have never missed a meditation in 40 years. I meditate once in the morning, and again in the afternoon, for about twenty minutes each time. Then I go about the business of my day. And I find the joy of doing increases. Intuition increases. Creativity increases. The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes.
David Lynch on meditation (To be fair, he also used to go to the Bob’s Big Boy every day for seven years and eat a chocolate shake and drink four to seven cups of coffee with sugar for the rush!)

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Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind


  If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.


I have drunk the meditation Kool-Aid. Been at it off and on for a month and a half. I don’t have a school or a teacher or anything, I just put my kid down for a nap, sit at the top of the stairs, set my iPhone timer for 10 mins, and close my eyes. That’s it, really.

It’s been a really positive experience. I feel less stressed, lighter. I’ve also had some really weird visions, which I doodle in my sketchbook.

I had this book on my shelf for years, but only read it recently. A lot of my favorite artists have Zen backgrounds, but it was really surprising to me how much of this book applies to creativity and art. (Of course, half of it makes no sense to me at all.)

For instance, here’s Suzuki:


  When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something.


And here’s Andy Warhol:


  As soon as you stop wanting something you get it.




This bit could illustrate the “what we are” vs. “what we want to be” illustration from Steal Like An Artist:


  If an artist becomes too idealistic, he will commit suicide, because between his ideal and his actual ability there is a great gap. Because there is no bridge long enough to go across the gap, he will begin to despair.


Anyways, if you’ve ever been interested in meditation, here are a few (edited) tips my friend Sunni sent me that have really worked for me:


  Don’t worry about doing it “right.” There is no “right” in meditation. There’s no “right” posture. There’s no “right” thing to visualize. Some days you’ll sit and feel calm. Other days you won’t. Just let it ride.
  Don’t try to control your thoughts. For some reason, a lot of people think that the goal is to manage and change your thoughts somehow. It’s the complete opposite. The idea is to observe your thoughts, to let them make all the sound and fury they want and just sit with it. Think of it like shaking a snow globe and watching the flakes swirl and fall. No need to judge it or change it; just watch it.
  Start with 10 minutes a day. Build from there.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

I have drunk the meditation Kool-Aid. Been at it off and on for a month and a half. I don’t have a school or a teacher or anything, I just put my kid down for a nap, sit at the top of the stairs, set my iPhone timer for 10 mins, and close my eyes. That’s it, really.

It’s been a really positive experience. I feel less stressed, lighter. I’ve also had some really weird visions, which I doodle in my sketchbook.

I had this book on my shelf for years, but only read it recently. A lot of my favorite artists have Zen backgrounds, but it was really surprising to me how much of this book applies to creativity and art. (Of course, half of it makes no sense to me at all.)

For instance, here’s Suzuki:

When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something.

And here’s Andy Warhol:

As soon as you stop wanting something you get it.

steal like an artist

This bit could illustrate the “what we are” vs. “what we want to be” illustration from Steal Like An Artist:

If an artist becomes too idealistic, he will commit suicide, because between his ideal and his actual ability there is a great gap. Because there is no bridge long enough to go across the gap, he will begin to despair.

Anyways, if you’ve ever been interested in meditation, here are a few (edited) tips my friend Sunni sent me that have really worked for me:

  1. Don’t worry about doing it “right.” There is no “right” in meditation. There’s no “right” posture. There’s no “right” thing to visualize. Some days you’ll sit and feel calm. Other days you won’t. Just let it ride.
  2. Don’t try to control your thoughts. For some reason, a lot of people think that the goal is to manage and change your thoughts somehow. It’s the complete opposite. The idea is to observe your thoughts, to let them make all the sound and fury they want and just sit with it. Think of it like shaking a snow globe and watching the flakes swirl and fall. No need to judge it or change it; just watch it.
  3. Start with 10 minutes a day. Build from there.
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