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Jigme's Challenge Beats Just Sitting


Jigme

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Spoiler:  it IS just sitting (insert Firefly gif here).

 

Instead of a resolution, I am picking a theme for the 2018 Earth Dog Year, and it is contentment.  To be honest, I have no idea what that word means.  I've been raised to believe that if I am happy where I am, I will never be a good person; that striving is actually what makes you a good person.  The teachings, however, state the opposite.  Overachieving is a hard habit to break, but I will dedicate myself to the practice of contentment this year.

 

Therefore, the challenge is simple: spend 1 hour, 5 days a week meditating.  It can be śamatha, vipaśana, any number of compassion practices, or walking meditation, as long as it is not only walking meditation.  The sessions can be broken up in any way, they just have to add up to an hour.  That is twice my normal sitting time, but I think it's doable with proper planning.  WIS is supposed to be my main stat.

 

I am continuing to maintain 3-5x/week running habit with occasional yoga, doing French & Swedish lessons on Duolingo (I dropped Codewars for now b/c it was getting overwhelming to code all day at work and then code some more), and going to Kyudo practice on Sundays.  I'm planning on setting up a target in my backyard this year, but right now it is far too cold to practice outside.  For those who were following the last challenge, I've got an appointment about my sleep test results on January 25th, so I can't wait! 

 

After the cold snap these holidays, I have been experimenting with high intensity jump rope exercises instead of running outside, and while they feel wonderful physically, I do not get the same mood boost that moving my feet in the sunshine brings.  Perhaps I will supplement my usual activities with jump rope, but I'm not promising anything.

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7 hours ago, Jigme said:

Spoiler:  it IS just sitting (insert Firefly gif here).

 

Instead of a resolution, I am picking a theme for the 2018 Earth Dog Year, and it is contentment.  To be honest, I have no idea what that word means.  I've been raised to believe that if I am happy where I am, I will never be a good person; that striving is actually what makes you a good person.  The teachings, however, state the opposite.  Overachieving is a hard habit to break, but I will dedicate myself to the practice of contentment this year.

 

Boy do I relate. I, too, am trying to tackle one of my overachiever toxic habits this month - so I'll be following this thread to see if the contentment challenge might be something I want to try later. Hope it goes well for you. 

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Contentment sounds like a good practice! There's something to be said for striving to do better, but there's also something to be said for enjoying where you are. :) Best of luck with that!

 

Skipping rope is supposed to be good for getting up and getting moving, although I have to admit I seem to struggle with it whenever I try to throw it in. I hope it sticks for you, but if not, it's not like finding another thing you dislike is necessarily bad, right?

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10 hours ago, Kishi said:

Skipping rope is supposed to be good for getting up and getting moving, although I have to admit I seem to struggle with it whenever I try to throw it in. I hope it sticks for you, but if not, it's not like finding another thing you dislike is necessarily bad, right?

 

I'm exploring this challenge by (appropriately enough) Zen Dude Fitness, but I certainly cannot do this workout every day b/c of soreness.

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3 hours ago, The Shogun said:

I seem to get more than 10-15 mins of sitting meditation so I can't even begin to fathom an hour. This is impressive!

 

So, I'd be doing 15 minutes when I first wake up, then at lunch, then after I get home from work, then right before bed.

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Followed this guided meditation from the Buddhist Society of Western Australia today.  I've been enjoying their podcast: both the talks and production are quality.  It's not my lineage, but I really enjoy listening to a wide array of Dharma podcasts.

 

On an unrelated note, I tried to quit my gym, as per discussion in last month's challenge, and they charged me for this month anyway.  Seemed like a simple matter of them missing the email I sent, but I sure hope I get refunded in this grand saga!  Meanwhile, running is still awesome.  I'm considering using this book as a basis for my next challenge:  I mean, the author is a weightlifter, marathon runner, and oh, the head of my lineage.  Maybe I should...ya know...explore this avenue.

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Today I finally quit the gym!  I know it's weird to celebrate the quitting of gyms on a fitness forum, but it's been the result of a two-month introspection.  It feels, in a way, like cutting the cord.  Now, if I want to work out at work, I have to go outside and brave the chilly temperatures instead of walking over to a nice comfortable gym.  I no longer have to feel guilty about shelling out the $$ for a climbing gym when I actually don't love climbing all that much, unless it's with my friends.  Additionally, with the said $$ I am saving, I can do a number of health-related things, such as sleep clinic visits, or physical therapy for my back.

 

Meditation is working out pretty well, although I saved too big of a chunk (45 minutes) for before bed yesterday and it was challenging.  That is the hardest length of sitting for me.  If I bump it up to an hour, I usually throw in a walking meditation in there somewhere, but I tend to sit the 45 minutes straight through.  That happens - oh, about once a year, unless I'm on retreat, because I can never bring myself to do it at home.  So, I guess yesterday was somewhat of a victory, because I lived to tell you about it.

 

Meanwhile, at work, I am stretching my newfound powers of concentration.  I don't generally do the classic Pomodoro technique (4 sets of 25 minutes, then a longer break), but what the heck, I tried that today.  So, I made it to eight pomodoros, 4 before lunch break and 4 after, and it felt like my brain was in a vice grip.  I mean, I'm proud of the accomplishment, but if the website that I'm building had a face, I would punch it.  By the end of the day, I was profoundly physically and mentally exhausted.  Upon relating this story to my significant other, he paused to consider, then asked, "Isn't this what you're supposed to do at work?"  Well, yes, you are supposed to single-mindedly concentrate on your task for large stretches of time, not talking to anyone, not checking social media or phone, not engaging in inter-cubicle discussions, not petting your co-workers dog.  But, really, how often does that happen?  Especially the dog part.  I don't know, maybe other people are better at it?  I mean, I stare at a wall for fun for 45 minutes, so I guess we all have our strengths.

 

I'm on Day 4 of running at lunch this week, and I have to confess something to you guys:  I'm getting a bit bored with just running.  I think I've gotta throw in some bodyweight stuff in there, just to mix it up.  Or jump rope in a park like a crazy person.

 

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On 1/4/2018 at 11:36 PM, Jigme said:

Today I finally quit the gym!  I know it's weird to celebrate the quitting of gyms on a fitness forum, but it's been the result of a two-month introspection.  It feels, in a way, like cutting the cord.  Now, if I want to work out at work, I have to go outside and brave the chilly temperatures instead of walking over to a nice comfortable gym.  I no longer have to feel guilty about shelling out the $$ for a climbing gym when I actually don't love climbing all that much, unless it's with my friends.  Additionally, with the said $$ I am saving, I can do a number of health-related things, such as sleep clinic visits, or physical therapy for my back.

 

200.gif

 

As someone who was able to get in fighting shape without a gym, I endorse this wholeheartedly. No time for things you don't like.

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Fell short 1 day for the Week 1 challenge!  What did I learn?  That I will prioritize my job, social, and sleep obligations over dharma practice!  That is a bitter pill to swallow.  Working on a deadline and having friends staying in your house for the weekend do seem to be good excuses, and I got about 20-30 minutes of meditation in on the 'off days' anyway, but at some point, I was just like, man, OK, I'm gonna get some sleep now.

 

On Saturday, I went to a tai chi class for the first time.  OK, I've been to one in college, but I have the barest memory of it, so it probably doesn't count.  You know what, I enjoyed the heck out of the Yang Long Form, and I will probably come back again.  I did remember why I never stuck with kung fu classes, though - horse stance, man.  My hips don't do that.  I have no problems with internal rotation, but rotating hips externally is near impossible, and I don't know if the solution is more yoga, or a new skeletal structure or something.  I mean, more yoga wouldn't hurt, I'm sure, but I'll welcome any tips from my fellow monks.

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FWIW, in my time in kung fu, we were never fans of external rotation in horse stance. Granted, we were big on forcing the knees out and over the feet, but angling outward was just not a thing we did. It wasn't considered good form. I guess Yang Taiji emphasizes that kind of thing? Which... I dunno, I never did get much beyond the Eight Postures, but I don't remember that. But what do I know; I'm just a dumb kickboxer now.

 

Anyway. If you've got some flexibility issues, some good stretches for the IT band include the 90-90 stretch, the Butterfly stretch, and Pigeon Pose in yoga. No great secrets or anything - just get moderately uncomfortable and wait it out for a bit.

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Hey, thanks, @Kishi, for checking in with me - I was working on an intense project at my job, which is, thankfully, mostly out of my hands today.

 

I have been feeling ill.  Whenever these periods of extremely low energy hit me, I try to figure out what caused them.  Is it the diet? Is it the sleep? Too much exercise? Not enough? Did Timmy fall down a well?  What do you want from me, body?  This stretch has been particularly long, and poor sleep is my primary suspect.  Unfortunately, the sleep clinic had to schedule me a month out from my study, so I'm going to just sit here and suffer until next Thursday.  The funny thing is, I actually want them to tell me that something is wrong, just so we can fix it and I can move on with my life.


So, basically, I've been getting my butt out of bed in the morning, going to work, coming home, eating dinner, and going to sleep.  The part where I have to work is the toughest.  On a couple of occasions, I had to lock myself in the break room and lay down on the floor for a bit.  And I'm not exactly digging trenches here, I'm writing code all day!  So, not a lot of exercise happening.  I have gone on walks.  Before the most severe parts of the downturn, I went through a week or so of jump roping, and it looks like I found another thing that doesn't work!  I mean, the idea of pairing intense cardio with bodyweight exercise is appealing, but I wonder if the intensity has contributed to this bout of chronic fatigue, too.

 

I'm feeling slightly better now, and went for two 30-minute slow (12'30ish mile) jogs this week.  Also, returned to Tai Chi today, but class was canceled.  I wonder if I can find sources to study on my own a bit as well. 

 

As far as my meditation challenge goes, I have been successful so far.  I found that putting my 'off days' in the beginning of the week was effective, because then I had to plan my day around the hour of meditation without the fallback of possible 'off day.'  Additionally, I found that walking meditation feels like cheating, and also that this amount of meditation truly does make some kind of a change in my personality, mental state, and life in general.  There seems to be more space.  More breathing room.  In work terms, it's as if someone put 1em of padding between me and the rest of the world.  It's hard to make the time, though.

 

Have I found contentment?  I found a place where goals don't quite make sense.  A lot of the fitness blogs I follow talk about continuous improvement, but like...I'm fine.  I don't need to run a faster mile, I'm not running races. I'm happy with the way I look. "Improving" my form in kyudo is a crapshoot - I'm going to suck for another 25 years or more, and I've resigned myself to that.  What the hell does being 'good' at kyudo mean, anyway?  There's no markers, you're not gonna hit the target, there are no tests in our lineage, and who cares how heavy your bow is ("How can you put a rank on your heart?" Shibata Sensei said).  There is a certain grace that develops after decades of long, patient practice, but ya can't rush that, my friends.

 

There is one notion that you identify something that you want to change about yourself, then you articulate goals to implement that change, then you achieve those goals, then you find the next thing, I guess, or something.  What I want to change is ... impossible.  I want to be healthy.  I want to not have a genetic chronic illness.  But I'm not going to get that, and no matter what some personal health blogs claim, no amount of goal-setting, bone broth, Crossfit, yoga, or meditation is going to 'fix' me.  So, other than that, I think I'm pretty content about where I am and what I'm doing.

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Tally of things that have not worked so far:

* Zumba

*  Bikram Yoga

* "Core Power" Yoga

*  GMB Elements

* Spin

* You Are Your Own Gym (bodyweight app - did the 8-week program once, did not progress. It was both too difficult and too boring for me)

* cardio kickboxing (I threw up once!)

(new!)* Climbing gym (only fun with friends)

(new!) *  HIIT Jump Rope (this program called for 5x/week, I managed 3x and got really, really tired)

 

Things that I actually stuck with:

* Kyudo

* Running

* Yoga

* Hiking

(kayaking used to be on the list, too, but I moved to a landlocked state)

 

Maybes:

* Biking (it is too cold right now and I am a weenie)

* Tai Chi (I went to one class, let's see how this goes)

* Weightlifting (I don't have a squat rack!)

* Every single martial art that exists

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9 hours ago, Jigme said:

Man, I did not appreciate my own ability to fall a hundred times an hour in my teens/early 20s.

 

I honestly think that's where most of the workout comes from in aikido. People from my martial pedagogy tend to look down on aikido practice for being too soft, but there's a great deal of value in learning how to fall and get back up. It's not just a life lesson. Falling is dangerous if you don't do it right, and it gets more dangerous as you get older. Being able to get down to the ground well and then being able to get up again after is an extremely practical physical life skill, and frankly it's not emphasized enough in most practice. Crossfit certainly doesn't train it.

 

...

 

And you know, looking at your list of maybes, I see that weightlifting might be a might be for you. In which case, have you considered kettlebells? Specifically for the Turkish Get Up. If you like, I happen to know a program that's really awesome and just kind of made my life better all around...

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