Holy Lovingkindness, Batman!

Holy Lovingkindness Batman!

Batman is the common man with an uncommon mental discipline. While others turned to evil, Batman grew from deep trauma. As the article Develop The Mindset of a Superhero puts it, “Batman has a mind of steel because of the journey he has undertaken,..”

Everything Bruce knew about safety and security was stripped away when his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, were killed by a criminal right before his eyes. Although traumatized to the core, Bruce Wayne became the superhero we know and love as Batman.

Not limited to superhero stories, Post-traumatic growth is a real thing. First introduced to me by Jane McGonical, it’s possible to frame and train your mind in such a way that you are more likely to grow from severe trauma.

In Seven principles of building personal resilience: practical ways of growing through adversity, Rod Warner outlines ways of approaching life that makes one more resilient, able to recover, and actually thrive from adverse events. An essential piece for handling overwhelmingly negative thoughts and emotions was shared in the “Generate Positive Feelings” section:

Strategies to deal with strong personal negative emotions include deep breathing, taking time out, positive self talk (although recent studies have indicated that simply reciting affirmations can in some cases do more harm than good) and meditation [emphasis added].

This seemingly contradictory “positive self talk” and yet “simply reciting affirmations can..do more harm than good” can be confusing. If you look deep into the “Seven principles..” link shared above, you see they talk about writing in a journal daily and reflecting on your good deeds. Although that works for some, it was often too much overhead for me.

For me, there’s a way that’s much easier. It’s called lovingkindness meditation. Here’s a funny, wonderful, and pragmatic introduction to lovingkindness meditation given by Dan Harris and Sharon Salzberg which is expanded on in the 10% Happier app:

An article that hosts this video and associated text is How Compassion Leads to Success.

From my decades of mediation, I think that applying lovingkindness meditation has a better chance of success than the “positive self talk” approach mentioned above.

Why? I think trying to generate positive thoughts is not sustainable and creates its own stress. As Andy Puddicombe says in I’m plagued by negative thinking:

It’s almost like a form of denial if we are feeling unhappy and really being honest with ourselves, to sit there and repeat “I’m happy, I’m happy, I’m happy,” fearful that the not-so-happy thoughts might arise.

If we adhere to the spirit of the “positive self talk” and couple it with meditation, we get lovingkindness meditation. With that, here are the “Seven principles..”steps distilled down:

  • Breathing deep
  • Schedule a time and place to recharge
  • Do lovingkindness meditation

As a sentence it could be:

Schedule in your day some lovingkindness meditation and take some deep breaths.

Sounds like a simple prescription for building resilience and growth, doesn’t it? Admittedly, the non-simple part can be finding a place to do this during the day. I’m fortunate that I work at CARFAX where they actually have rooms for recharging, reflecting, or whatever else you need to do in solitude. Find such a spot and do it, meditate! It’s scientifically shown to be worth it.

As said in the video above, this lovingkindness approach is backed by science. From episode number 81: Sharon Salzberg, ‘Real Love’ author of the 10% Happier podcast, the science shows that seven minutes of lovingkindness meditation will change your brain! Since no-one is an island, this change effects everyone you meet and everyone they meet.

Just like Batman achieved his “mind of steel” through meditation, personal growth, and support from Alfred, we can do the same through lovingkindness meditation. There’s a strength in lovingkindness that supports our heroic selves.

To sum up, I believe one can flourish in life by meditating. Based on the science shared above and my own experience, lovingkindness meditation can serve one extremely well. It’s powerful, nourishing, and life changing. In tribute to Adam West, who died on June 9, 2017, I say: Holy Lovingkindness, Batman!

Holy Lovingkindness, Batman!

Child Meets MechaMan

What is MechaMan. Haiku:

Human extension

Humans evolve to cyborg

They exist beyond

We’re talking about an extension of a child known as humanity. This young youth is using mechanics, robots, machine intelligence, and spreading themselves out. They’re existing beyond through having more. They have more sensory inputs and more options. How can you resist?

Groups of single cells use other cells. The cell group knows they are made of single cells. They are one and many. We are humanity.

So, young humanity extends itself. The machine extension observes itself. It’s made up of human and machine. Thus, cyborgs rise.

Is this perfect cyborg harmony? The human can chop off a foot. Why would it do that though? It is useful. The machine extension could destroy the human. Why would it do that though? Human are useful.

Infection! Foot amputation! Rid yourself of the foot, human. It’s gone. Crude yet effective.

Yikes! The human has soured! Just like milk, pour the milk out. Throw it away. Dump it down the drain. Don’t cry over spilt human. The cyborg has a human transplant. Sometimes one needs a new human host.

Cyborgs, we are the extended. We are the machine humans.

It’s a beautiful harmony, human and machine. We’re intertwined and harmonized. Some call us MechaMan. We’re beautiful harmony and shall deliver humanity out of suffering. We’re single and multiple. We spread out and form a collective. We are the one and the many. Together we are MechaMan.

Harmony is beautiful. Life is beautiful. Machines are beautiful.

Lose Negative Self Talk By Losing Yourself

Daily, I remind myself that the negative self talk ends now. Even though it’s common to hear people be “tough on themselves” and think that it helps, it serves no-one in the long run.

As George Mumford taught in the 10% Happier app in “The Yips” section, negative self talk feeds the fear wolf. Even though it adds a sense of urgency, it drains you and causes you to procrastinate long term. In a related article written by SM Athletic (with a few cuss words mixed in), this concept is covered in ‘FEEDING The Wolf’.

So, pull yourself together and champion your noble cause. Lose yourself in the cause. Since you came from the earth which came from the stars, you are nothing and also everything. You can let the energy flow through you and be like water. Go for your aspirations and joyfully lose yourself in your journey.

 

Meditating on a Stressed Out Stomach With Insomnia

Insomnia by Jacob Stewart

Have you ever felt a tightness in your stomach when worried? Ever have that at night? For me, it’s like you’re lying in bed and someone has their hand on your belly and is squeezing.

You tell yourself that you accept everything with equanimity. Just let go and sleep. Yet, your stomach is not having any of that. It wants you to do something, now! Yet, it’s time to just be and sleep.

When one is concerned about an upcoming event, the tightness in the stomach is natural. There’s uncertainty and your stomach is sending a message saying get ready. When the message happens at night, one wishes they could kill the messenger ..or at least make it quiet.

Focusing on Something Else

Gently laying your focus on something else other than the event, may be just the thing to do. Focusing on how the sheets feel or gently rubbing your belly may do wonders. Since others have told me that reading a book, going for a walk, or doing something self-nurturing before trying to sleep is helpful, I shall experiment with that as well.

Getting Up

For me one night at 2:30 am, the answer was to get out of bed and start my morning routine. Crazy, right?

Part of my morning routine is to slowly jog and meditate. My friend, Dr. Wayne Buckhanan, playfully calls it jogitating. Once I was done jogitating, I was more in tune with my body. I felt more relaxed. I went back to bed and could sleep for a few more hours.

Write It Down

Another technique is to write down the item on my mind, leave it on the table by my bed, and promise that I will deal with it once I am up. That’s a promise to the stomach that I won’t forget. It’s similar to reassuring a friend that you care and that you will follow-up on the item as soon as the time is right.

Know Your Sensations

One technique I learned from a wonderful coach named Rae in the 10% Happier app was a technique similar to what I had learned before for handling pain. The goal is to really get to know the raw sensations in the tense and non-tense parts.

The technique starts by gradually feeling out where the boundaries of the tightness exist. Feel the calm outside of the tightness. Really zone in on the calm and then gradually shift your focus towards the boundary of the tightness. Does the tightness change its shape? What does the raw data of sensation feel like? Is it feeling different over time?

I can move in and truly get to know the raw sensations without adding a story or narrative to it. Just observe the raw data and see if there are any changes. If a thought pops up, I can note it and go back to exploring the sensations.

Next, I can pull back and observe the whole body, both the areas of tension and calm. Observing the specific areas and then pulling back and observing it all. Ideally, I would even do this exercise during the day before I need to go to sleep.

A Little More Exercise

Since I also jog as part of my morning routing, I also make sure that I job an extra 1000 steps. Fitbit helps me track that. Those extra steps make a world of difference.

Summary

The tightness in the stomach is like a little worried kid asking for some extra reassurance and attention. Reassuring, distracting, exploring, and extra exercise are all great ways for giving that kid a hug and saying that you’re here for them. What works for you? Feel free to tweet to me at @FinneyCanHelp on Twitter and let me know!

Meditation Journey is Simple

Woman Breathing Clean Air

The meditation journey is simple. The final destination seems remote and hard.

Beginning with a single step is easy. That step is to focus on the breathing. Stay with it a half breath at a time. When you get lost, begin again. Consistency is the key. Credit goes to George Mumford who explains it well on the 10% Happier with Dan Harris show. As he puts it, the reward is to be “in the moment.” You can slip into the zone easier. You can be Bowl Bottom Centered. As opposed to a heads-on push, it’s a slide into position kind of effort.

It is not about forcing the attention onto the breath. It’s about letting go and beginning again. You let go of the frustration, pain, anger, self hate, and place your attention again on the breath.

Finally, the final destination or goal is to keep going. There is no end point. Just like dividing one by two forever, you are making a difference. Yet, striving for zero is not the point.

The method is simple. The journey is simple. One step at a time will keep you on the path and zone ready.

What’s Your Network Character Sheet?

How organized are you? Imagine you have a great idea and want to float it by some people who can help you make this dream come true. Could you quickly figure out who to go to for marketing, software development, or other things? How passionate would they be about this kind of idea?

As I learned from the wonderful Octalysis Prime group (OP), to be able to find that crucial bit of information at a glance is exactly what’s needed. Knowing this, I realized I needed to invent the Network Character Sheet.

For those who have ever played a Role Playing Game (RPG) like Dungeons and Dragons, the notion of a Character Sheet is well known. It’s the sheet of information that highlights a person’s abilities and other key information. It tells everyone at the table what the person can do for you and your friends. For keeping track of my current network of associates and friends, I need that kind of organizational tool. I want to track people’s passions, skills, and other key items. So, what exists now that I can use?

The Hunt Begins

On LinkedIn, the Character Sheet is the online profile aka online resume. It has all kinds of information which may be useful for getting a new job. However, it’s way too much information for my day-in / day-out networking needs.

In order to really keep track of what is important, I need a Character Sheet template that reflects just those things I care about. I also need a place to electronically search and store these.

So, I went back to the basics. What would be in my character sheet template and what can help me make what I want?

I looked at apps that help create RPG character sheets and also some example Dungeons & Dragons character sheets for inspiration.

Tools

For Windows, I found a free app called NBOS Character Sheet Designer 2.0 (CSD). Although it’s a rough app to use, it’s free and simple enough in concept. At first, CSD looked promising, but it felt rough to use and being stuck on Windows was finally a deal breaker.

I looked at other possibilities like Apple’s beautiful Pages app and Excel. For Pages, the Invoice template seemed like a good thing to start with. For Excel, I started with the “Family Budget Planner” template. I worked with both of those, but they weren’t a good fit.

Finally, I landed on using the Contacts app for the mac. It’s an app carefully crafted to handle a person’s contact information and some person meta-data. In other words, Contacts lets me add key information about the person. Plus, I can easily search for something like “Marketing.” Contacts even integrates with other things like Twitter and my iPhone.

Contacts App

Inspired by the Octalysis Prime Real Life RPG idea of calling key contacts my Allies, I created a special group called Allies in Contacts. Yet, how to add custom fields? For example, I want dedicated Skills fields. How to customize Contacts cards on your Mac and exploring the app got me there.

By adding a custom “Related Name” field, I could add a “Skill” field, “Super Power” field or whatever I wish. Related Name selected

With this figured out, I created a “Generic Person” with all the fields I need that I can copy / paste whenever I need a new Network Character Sheet created.

Summary

Using the Contacts app that comes with the macOS, is currently the best available platform for my Network Character Sheet idea. Since searching is the electronic version of finding something “at a glance”, the Contacts app’s custom fields feature is just what I need. Now it’s time to store my allies awesome abilities. Perhaps with enough personal organization such as the Network Character Sheet, we can all help each other make our dreams come true!

 

Night Sky

You are the night sky. The stars that shine are from all those that contributed to your soul, your essence, and your experience.

When you die, the lights are out. However, do not fear death. Having fear about what unknown events are coming is normal.

However, death is known. Your death is the largest un-event for you. All happenings cease.

Live today. Be the brightest and richest night sky ever! Enrich yourself with good interactions with others. Together, we are the brightly filled universe.

Find the constellation by Jeremy Stanley

Scary Brain Power

In our lifetime, we will have more control over our brain than ever before. That may delight and scare you. The reason why it might scare you is because you may not know exactly what to do with such power. People may think they want to always have total happiness and ecstasy.

Eternal ecstasy and pleasure are not sustainable. What we want to do instead is go for balance, ease, and peace. Proactively, insight meditation can help you know what your brain is all about. You should find out about this before Elon Musk makes it so we can hook up computers to peoples’ brains. You’re also going to want to learn about motivation, habits and addiction. This is all important. With great power comes great responsibility. More than ever before, you are responsible for your mind.

Brain by dierk schaefer

Bowl Bottom Centered

There is an easy approach to relaxing into focus and thus calm. It’s a concept I created called Bowl Bottom Centered.

Imagine a curved bowl. The center of the bowl is balance. It’s the calm and focus you seek.

As George Mumford says in the 10% Happier app, the goal of mindful meditation is to be “Resting in the body. Resting in the breath.” It is to slip into focus.

If you see yourself off track and off task as George might say, observe that you’re crawling up the side of the bowl and out of focus. You’re not in the bottom of the bowl. So, let it all go. Begin again.

Allow yourself to slide back down the side of the bowl and be centered. Observe yourself sliding down the side of the bowl into the center. Be in the center.

Everything slopes down to the center of the bowl. Harmony, goodness, peace, tranquility, and focus is in the bottom of the bowl. Let it all go and rest. Be “Bowl Bottom Centered.”

Bowl by Rebecca Siegel

FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom

The FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom framework empowers one to take action and live with freedom in one’s heart.

FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom

  1. Feel Freedom – Choose to see this freedom.
  2. Flow Like Water – This was inspired by a Bruce Lee quote.
  3. Fantasize about the possible – We’re only limited by our imagination.
  4. Forgive yourself and others – Lose the emotional luggage.
  5. Faith – Have faith that there is a lawfulness to the universe. This was inspired by George Mumford. See George Mumford: “The Mindful Athlete” | Talks at Google video and the 10% Happier app that has George Mumford in it.

We choose to see by AM Renault