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  1. Well, howdy there, folks! Good to see you again, or for the first time. I'm Kishi, a monk prone to itineracy and general quietude. I hope you are well. I had a challenge last time and I disappeared. Unfortunately, I can't say it's because I was really doing my challenge, but fortunately I can say it wasn't for any dramatic reasons. Life just got busy, and instead of developing my meditation like I told myself to, I found myself falling back on a lot of other challenge habits like my cleaning and my writing. I'm pleased to say those are all doing better, and my own drilling/shadowboxing/chess and such are doing better too as I've been prioritizing mat time and responding to the input I get from people. Also, the reward I chose for myself came to make less sense, and I just didn't feel driven to press the reset button. I guess to continue the game metaphor, I got lost in the side quests, and by the time I cared about my main, the game was over. But you may notice I have a meditation tag again, along with some others, and I reckon that deserves some explanation. My reasons for meditation, beyond the mental health benefits, are also physiological: I have heart issues to worry about at the ripe old age of 36, and meditation is a useful practice for heart health. Fortunately, there's good science to say I need less of it than I've been trying for to get the benefits I want. Which is good news. More is not always better; sometimes it's just more, and in order for more to be better, sometimes it has to be less. Because less is more. Huh. Right. Cool. There's some other stuff going on too. I've finally returned to striking sparring, and it's proving to be a real shock to the system. The caliber of striking here is relatively high compared to what I've seen in a while, and it's Thai-Dutch style boxing, which means high volume striking at close range with the head as a viable target. It's a lot to work with, and this in a hot academy in the opening of an NC summer. It's not going to get colder. So I need to work on my conditioning; going back to the GST folk, the two recommendations they have are running and skipping rope. Running would take a lot of time and wouldn't come with the coordination benefits or the raw lightness of foot that comes from constant bouncing, so skipping rope it is. Another thing I need to work on is my recovery. I've been using glucosamine to help out with joint pain, and while I did find an effective brand, it's also pricey, and I'm getting real sick of having as little money on hand as I do at the end of the month. (especially since my job is just being icky with pay right now). So I'm looking into recovery methods and found the work of a Shaolin monk named Shi Yan Lei, which I'm finding fascinating on account of his pedagogical preferences. He has a book on qigong for longevity, which I'm willing to gamble would help with recovery, so I'mma do it. My goal with this is to deal with and prevent joint pain over time without having to go the supplement route. Between this and the mobility training in GST, I'm hopeful. The goals are as follows: Goal 1: Training The qigong routine calls for 3-4 times per week, but before I even get into that, I need to learn to breathe. Shi Yan Lei calls for a kind of "reverse breathing" in his method, which is a kind of chest breathing for energy. I need to practice that first before I even get into adding extra movement. Also, the skipping rope is going to be done 1-2 times per week to start with, per the recommendations of the Jump Rope Dudes and Crossrope. These will be very small practices: 5 breaths, and skipping for 1 minute, because what I need is consistency right now and something to build on. These are being lumped onto/into my general training as it stands, so this is really about making the logs simple. Goal 2: Meditation Meditate 10 minutes a day after whatever nightly stretching I'm doing. I've fallen into the evening routine of coming home from mat time, showering off, and stretching while warm. This is a really freaking nice way to end the day. Meditation afterward would suit, I think. Goal 3: Breathe So, out of left field: the Wim Hof Method, which is fantastic for grappling because it teaches you not to be afraid of time without air. I just grapple better when I'm doing this. I like grappling better. I like the lack of fear, and I'm already taking cold showers these days just as it is. Might as well complete the process. As to my reward? Well, if I get the breathing right, I'll be taking the next challenge to begin work on movement. But Shi Yan Lei isn't just talking about movement. He's also talking about massage, with a possible avenue toward Iron Shirt training. This would be incredibly useful and has been something I've tried to cultivate on my own without any success. The Shaolin method for this training involves the use of very specific brushes to massage the body. The first step would be a bamboo brush. This is used in conjunction with the qigong program anyway, so once I've demonstrated my seriousness to myself, I'll reward myself with the brush. These goals excite me. Can't wait to get started... so. Might as well.
  2. "Quiet friend who has come so far, feel how your breathing makes more space around you. Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell. As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength. Move back and forth into the change. What is it like, such intensity of pain? If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine. In this uncontainable night, be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses, the meaning discovered there. And if the world has ceased to hear you, say to the silent earth: I flow. To the rushing water, speak: I am. Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29 Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower by Rainer Maria Rilke Greetings and Happy Holidays fellow Rebels. As some of you know, life has been wild crazy busy for me lately but for good reasons. While this is always a difficult time of year for me personally, I am determined to rise above dwelling on past traumas and instead focus on upgrading my mind and body as I turn this new page in my life. My challenge will be similar to my last one with a few minor changes. Since winter is approaching and cold weather is already upon us, I am returning to my Wim Hof training. I'll be squeezing it in with my morning meditation practice. I am also intermittent fasting again but not in the same way as before: I will eat if I feel hungry (as in stomach actually growling), but if not then I will hold off until I am hungry. So here are my challenge goals: PHYSICAL GOAL: Lift heavy objects as often as possible and move in ways that bring me joy. This includes cinderblocks, logs, stones, kettlebells, weights, and my own body whenever the opportunity presents itself (yoga, Darebee workouts, etc.). The key is to have fun moving again and to lift mindfully, focusing on specific muscles/muscle groups and specific movements. NUTRITIONAL GOALS: I will eat mindfully, selecting foods that nourish my body and don't leave me feeling blah after eating them. From the Harvard School of Public Health: "Eating mindfully means that you are using all of your physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy the food choices you make. This helps to increase gratitude for food, which can improve the overall eating experience. Mindful eating encourages one to make choices that will be satisfying and nourishing to the body. However, it discourages “judging” one’s eating behaviors as there are different types of eating experiences. As we become more aware of our eating habits, we may take steps towards behavior changes that will benefit ourselves and our environment." This will also include eating only when I feel hungry and not because I'm bored or because I think I'm hungry. This requires me to listen to my body and be mindful of my hunger. MENTAL/SPIRITUAL GOALS: I will re-instate my morning practice which will now include Wim Hof practices. I will meditate twice daily (morning contemplative meditation and evening gratitude meditation). I will read and post one poem a day, as well as write a poem of my own every day. I will read at least ten pages of a spiritual development book daily. I dropped the ball on the "poem a day" goal last time, but I struggled because life was so busy. Now that I'm finished with my Master's degree work, I should have the time to read and compose some poems. MORNING PRACTICE: 0400 wakeup prayer/contemplative meditation scripture reading breath work (Wim Hof) cold shower
  3. Hi hey howdy ever-body! Hope you're doing all right. I'm sorry I didn't step up sooner, but after last challenge, I didn't really know where to go. I know I wanted to do another challenge, but everything had got so well locked in place at the end that I didn't really know what to do. I wanted to take some time, if not to think, then to observe and consider, and try to figure out what next steps were necessary, if any. It took all week for me to figure out where I wanted to go next. Basically, things didn't stumble into clicking just right until I made a point of scheduling things. I responded well to that - swings every hour actually turned out to be a good way to break up the day and get my other training done. I'm pleased to report that it hasn't caused me to hurt worse. If anything, I'm feeling better. I want to keep that going, and with diet and exercise mostly under control, it's time to turn to sleep and mental stuff. Goal 1: Honor My Bedtime Basically, I want to start getting more sleep. I know I do better when I have a concrete bedtime, but for too long I've been letting it be dictated by my waking time. I want to break that if I can. Bedtime for me is most realistically 01:55 for now. Further edits to be made as needed but for now, let's start with something that'll be easy for me to keep. Goal 2: Wim Hof Method This is a breathing technique by Wim "The Iceman" Hof, a famed figure for feats of inhuman endurance. I've done this before with good results, and I want to get back to it. Goal is to actually take my lunch break (since I'm writing first thing in the morning, still making sure that's locked in) and to go do my practice. It's not exactly lengthy work or anything, but it'll take long enough that doing it in the morning would be prohibitive. Goal 3: Meditate Want to come back to this again. I'm a better me when I do this. So! Goal is to do this at the end of the working day. It fits in well there when I've done it before; the reason I haven't been is because I've been too wrapped up in trying to get other stuff done. Gonna start at 1:00 per day for the first week and add a minute per week. And that should do it, I think. Sci Fi got moved to Tuesday Nights, which in the long run is good for me because when I'm cleared to get back on the mats again, the MMA place will be having strike work on Wednesdays, so it'll be nice to have that time open. That's the way it's gonna be. Today's goals will be something of a wash on account of just really only having crystallized this stuff in the past 20 minutes, but what can you do? BTW, quick shoutouts to @Tanktimus the Encourager, @Rurik Harrgath, @Mistr, @WhiteGhost, @Treva, @Kyellan and anyone else I missed for stopping by last challenge to cheer me on. I appreciate the work as always, although I'm not always good at saying so. Let's get to it.
  4. Good day fellow Rebels. Last challenge, I made some observations about goals that were lacking, and I selected three: reading, breathing (specifically Wim Hof Method breathing) and journaling. The other goals have essentially become daily habits now because they have been part of my routine for quite some time. So if you have been following me for a while, assume that the rest of my usual daily habits and routines that have been mentioned in the past are now expected. And so I begin: Goal 1: Read Harder and More Often -- I love to read. I love books. I have all the traits of a bibliophile. However, I'm not very disciplined, and I struggle to focus and pay attention when I read. I know this is normal and nothing to be ashamed of, but it still bothers me. I'm also a very picky reader, like... picky to a fault. Yes, some of it is because I have standards, and because I value my time, so I struggle to read something that just... isn't very good. But, if I'm honest, much of this pickiness has led me to make unfair assumptions about various genres, authors, and forms of writing. So, I have decided to take on the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge, as well as to set an ambitious but doable reading goal of 50 books in 2021. I have a few strategies for helping meet this goal: read every day for at least 30 minutes put my phone on the charger on the other side of the room while reading select and read books from the Read Harder Challenge first audiobooks, children's books, and poetry collections totally count towards the 50 goal Goal 2: Breathe Harder and More Mindfully -- I have practiced the WHM in the past, and many of the elements have stuck like glue, specifically the cold showers and cold exposure (going outside shirtless and shoeless in the cold, taking long hikes in the snow with no shirt, etc.), but the breathing (which, if I'm not mistaken Wim himself said is the most important part of the method) has just been a struggle to fit into my daily routine. It's not that I don't want to; in fact, I really enjoy it and feel great every time. It's almost like my brain says, "Dude... It's breathing. We do that al the time. Just skip it." And so, I end up skipping it. However, I noticed last challenge that I was filling that gap of time normally reserved for WHM breathing with mindless scrolling of Instagram or Facebook. So, for this challenge I will work to fit WHM breathing into my morning routine, just as I was before. Below are my strategies for meeting this goal: schedule a time for breathwork, after prayer/devotional time but before workout and cold shower: 0445 Mon-Fri, Sat/Sun time varies use the app and/or music or a guided audio or video to make the experience more interactive at least three rotations; time is not as important as impact, so be mindful of the impact of each inhale and exhale, as well as how your body feels during and after each rotation Goal 3: Journal More -- In addition to loving to read, I also love to write (or at least I used to love it in that I used to write a lot because I wanted to, not because it was a requirement or a chore). I need to get back to that love, but in practical ways that don't make it feel like a task or just something else to check off on my daily to-do list. I used to keep a journal regularly, writing just a few paragraphs a day, recording my thoughts and my feelings and occasionally sharing favorite poems or song lyrics or lines from movies and TV shows. And sometimes I would draw (not very well, but it brought me joy). I need to get back to that less prescribed and more open journaling practice because if it feels to rigid or more like a "have to," I won't do it. Instead, it should be a "get to." I get to journal every day. So below are my strategies for meeting this goal: journal every morning before starting my day and at the end of the day: Mon-Fri right before leaving for work (0630) and before bed (2100); Sat/Sun times vary aesthetics matter; use a notebook that you want to write in and a utensil you want to write with in order to feel encouraged to do so make it brief but important and free flowing, not prescribed or stilted; just express yourself freely and openly without judgement keep it secret; keep it safe (you knew I wouldn't get out of this challenge without at least one LotR reference) And there you have it. My goals for this challenge. Sorry it doesn't have any creative theming or anything, but I knew these areas needed to be refined and strengthened, so that was my main purpose. And of course, you can expect plenty of nerdiness to arise in the form of cool gifs and memes and quotes.
  5. For any newbies, welcome! I'm Annyshay (Shannon IRL), and I've been wandering around in the rebellion for quite some time now. For all my allies, welcome back! I'm never exactly sure where I fit... assassin, ranger, adventurer, druid. Lately, I've had a lot of life events that have brought me back to examine my identity. And like any millennial worth her salt, I took a bunch of online quizzes... Unfortunately... Your results were not clear. Tell me about it, quiz... wait a minute. I know what this means. I'm the friggen... Time to bust out of this stupid Iceberg... With a little help from my friends... (PS, that's you guys )
  6. For those who do not know, I am training for the Polar Plunge. As one aspect of my training, I have been using the Wim Hof Method to acclimate to cold temperatures. In addition to cold exposure (cold showers, immersion in icy water, etc.) The WHM includes a unique style of breathing similar to the Tibetan Tummo "breath of fire" meditation. While I am not 100% convinced of some of the claims Wim has made about his methods (only because I don't have personal evidence), I will say the breathing has changed my mood and demeanor considerably. I feel so mellow after meditating with this style of breathing. The method is an intentional way to "cheat" the body into feeling stress by hyperventilating and then retaining breath. Wim likens it to the adrenaline and anxiety a person feels right before a bungee jump. For this reason, I combine my WHM breathing with a more "inactive" relaxed form of meditation. There is some counting required for the WHM and while the structure requires focus and mindfulness, it kind of keeps me from being able to "bliss out" and just relax as I breathe. So I follow my WHM breathing with something like a body scan or just sit and breathe and feel. Anything that requires little thought and just sitting and breathing. The method is not for everyone. It comes with disclaimers, the most common being don't do it in water because people have actually passed out while practicing the method. What do you think? Are any of you familiar with Wim Hof and his methods? What are your reactions to it?
  7. As some of you already know, my four-week challenge includes cold acclimation and a Polar Plunge on the last day of the challenge. Last week I did something crazy: It snowed last week (January 6th), about 3 inches. Temperatures were below 30 degrees F Friday. To test my training so far, I took a 15 minute walk outside in minimalist shoes (just slip-ons, similar to Vibram Five Fingers), basketball shorts, and no shirt. I could definitely feel the cold, but I wasn't "cold". This weekend, temperatures stayed in the teens and lowers 20s. While I didn't take another walk, I did spend about five minutes each morning outside shirtless and in shorts (tried shoeless, but that only lasted about two minutes, so I put my minimalist shoes on). Did not wear a jacket at all, even while I was out. Still taking cold showers, starting with warm water for the first ten seconds or so and changing over to cold for the rest of the shower (3-5 minutes). Doing WHM breathing every morning. It's an interesting experience that is difficult to explain, like no other form of meditation I have ever done before. I feel very mellow afterwards, and I can feel warmth and tingling through parts of my body. I'm already at $195 in donations, all going to the Special Olympics.
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