The Challenge

Trying something new is like exercising a muscle. It takes repetition. Practice. Commitment. Focus. Then this new way of being or moving will begin to incorporate into your life in many ways. You’ll use that muscle more and more. This page is dedicated to working our muscles, trying new things, and experimenting to see if little changes can make a profound difference in your life:

Exercise 1:

Is there something that you would LOVE someone else to do for you? Run a bath, bring flowers, donate money to a cause, clean the litter box? Do that thing same for someone else!

Exercise 2:

Similar to Exercise 1 but the inverse. Do something for someone else and pick something that would be meaningful to that other person but that you couldn’t care less about. For example, you don’t care if the dog has a bath but your wife would love it! Do that. You don’t really want to go to a football game- it’s sooo cold out. But your husband would love it! Do that. AND REMEMBER, don’t do it and then complain or feel like you are owed something!

Geek Out

I love to “putter.” That’s my word for roaming around my house picking up books, reading a few chapters, looking up the maps and references online, doing a little history or science research, picking up the next book, reading a chapter, doing a journal entry about the connections I see, and staying up until 4 a.m. having done nothing other than play at knowing some stuff that I’ll probably forget. This is my favorite thing to do and I’m not alone. Let’s putter!

Biology

Primate biologist Robert Sapolsky’s great speech on Being Human

History

This video shows the spread of world religions by geography and timeline in a condensed 2 minute version.

Religions of the World

Neurology

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain researcher who experienced a stroke and describe it from the aspect of a scientist. The mind as a processor and as a thing of beauty.

Stroke Victim Brain Researcher

Broken

“Let sorrowful longing dwell in your heart. Never give up , never lose hope. Allah says, ‘The broken ones are my beloved.’ Crush your heart. Be broken.”

– Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir, aka Nobody, Son of Nobody

Good Impressions

The things that you see, feel, read, experience will change your life. In the Fourth Way Gurdjieff tradition this is called giving yourself carefully chosen IMPRESSIONS.

I’m reading Three Cups of Tea about efforts of Greg Mortensen and his friends to build schools in the Karakoram mountains. Very motivating that you CAN do whatever you want with your life.

Steve Jobs gave this wonderful speech at Stanford’s graduation in 2005. Same message- you CAN do whatever you want with your life.

Letting Go

When I was four my little brother had the chicken pox.  I remember him lying on the couch screaming and screaming, with little pink dots all over him.  I’m sure my parents were around somewhere, but as he lie there with me kneeling next to him, I thought, “He’s alone and he’s going to die.”  My older brother’s little friend who was probably no older than 6 or so, died that year.  I went to the hospital with Bronchial pneumonia.  Death must have been on my four-year-old mind.

Over the years, I have come to realize that I, like most people, do not particularly have a strong fear of the very moment of death itself.  What freaks me out is the decline right before death.  Whether it’s bleeding all over and being in pain from a car accident or dying a long slow death through illness, these seem like very difficult things to me.  What I think is, “What will happen to my mind?”

When I read The Butterfly and The Diving Bell by Jean-Dominique Bauby and when my Zen teacher, Daniel Doen Silberberg Roshi  tells me about his paralysis with Guillen-Barre syndrome, I struggle to picture myself in the same position.  If I could not move or speak but my mind was entirely intact and active, how could I bear it?  My mind!  What would happen to my mind?

Maybe this is why I looked into Zen 6 years ago.  Maybe this is why I had 7 years of psychotherapy.  Maybe this is why I still go to a hypnotherapist to combat my seizure disorder that I believe is triggered by fear.  When I try to pierce through this mind thing, I feel fear.  So, I’m cutting working with fear.  I’m poking at it.  I’m provoking it.  I’m indulging it.  I’m ignoring it.  I’m accepting it.

My exploration has lead me to believe that my mind is not as valuable as I thought.  In fact, the very existence of my mind is a highly theoretical and un-graspable concept.  So, I’m trying this from a different angle.  What if I let go of my mind?  This is what Zen teachings are all about after all.  However, DOING it in the everyday is not an easy thing.  Simple, but not easy.  I’m an attorney and I own a small law firm.  I’m very very attached to my mind.  Dropping it feels like… like dying?

So I have committed 2010 to ONE SINGULAR idea.  I will drop off thinking as often as I can remember to do so and I will actively sit in meditation for at least 1/2 hour per day and during that time, I will let go of my mind.  Even though it has not yet been a month of this, I already feel an amazing opening happening.  I don’t know what it means, where it’s going, but I do know that everything is shifting to a deeper peace.  I’ll keep you posted.  Wish me luck!