Tag Archives: Meditation

The HeartMath Solution: The Heartmath Institute’s Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart’s Intelligence by Doc Lew Childre, Howard Martin, Donna Beech

Summary
  1. Our heart has an intelligence which impacts our physical/mental/emotional health more than most people realize. This book will teach you how to harness the power of the heart to potentially help you make better decisions, better control your emotions, increase personal productivity, slow down aging, enhance creativity, and many more positive benefits
Key Takeaways
  1. Why the heart and the HeartMath Solution?
    1. Our theory is that the heart links us to a higher intelligence through an intuitive domain where spirit and humanness merge. We can develop the perceptual capacity as we learn to do with stages and philosophers have asked us to do for ages simply listen to and follow the wisdom of the heart. Heart intelligence is truly emotional intelligence and we’ve concluded that intelligence and intuition are heightened when we learn to listen more deeply to our own heart
    2. Too often the relationship of our thoughts and emotions and how they effect physical change is ignored
    3. Health is a delicate balance of rhythm, while disease (“dis-ease”) results from dis-rhythm
    4. The heart is at the core of our body and at the core of how we think and feel. The solution is derived from realizing that the heart is both a physical object, a rhythmic organ, and love itself
    5. By practicing the HeartMath solution, you’ll be able to clearly see when you’re in stress. Then you can use Freeze-Frame to determine your best course of action. But even once you have intuitive clarity on what to do, you may still experience residues of uncomfortable or perplexing feelings. When those residues clog the system, you need to apply Cut-Thru, shifting your emotional state so that you’re not only thinking better but also feeling better. Both intelligence and intuition are heightened when we learn to listen more deeply to our own hearts
    6. Activating heart intelligence + managing the mind + managing the emotions = energy efficiency, increased coherence, enhanced awareness, and greater productivity.
    7. A primary goal of the HeartMath Solution is to increase coherence, bringing us to a state of optimal efficiency. Stress creates incoherence in our system, so increasing coherence necessitates reducing stress.
    8. The goal of HeartMath is to help you learn to generate emotional and mental coherence deliberately – on demand – so that ultimately you spend more of your day at this optimal, regenerative level of energy efficiency
  2. 10 key techniques and tools that govern the HeartMath solution
    1. Acknowledge your heart intelligence and its importance for making choices big and small
    2. Reduce stress and live more often in a state of coherence
    3. Learn and apply Freeze Frame which creates a balance between the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic
    4. Accumulate energy assets and decreased energy deficits
    5. Activate core heart feelings such as love compassion courage patients sincerity forgiveness appreciation care and more
    6. Manage your emotions
    7. Care but don’t overcare – when we care too much, it turns into anxiety, worry, insecurity
    8. Learn and apply Cut-Thru – a method to help you stop experiencing emotions that create incoherence and energy deficits
    9. Do heart Lock-Ins – amplifies the power of your heart. Quieting the mind and sustaining a solid connection with the heart – locking into its power – adds buoyancy and regenerative energy to your entire system. it also makes it easier to stay in contact with your heart intelligence and its intuitive messages amidst your daily activities
    10. Actualize what you know – applying all these tools to your daily life
  3. Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
    1. Our emotional states are reflected best in our heart rhythms, as seen in HRV measurements. HRV is defined as a measurement of beat-to-beat changes in the heart rate. Loss of variability is actually a sign of disease and a strong predictor of future health problems. In essence, HRV is a measure of the flexibility of our heart and nervous system, and as such reflects our health and fitness. It also allows us to listen in on and interpret ongoing, two-way conversations between our heart and our brain and is an important measurement to how well we’re balancing our lives mentally and emotionally. Disharmony in our heart rhythms leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs, while harmonious rhythms are more efficient and less stressful to the body’s systems. Our heart rhythms affect the brain’s ability to process information, make decisions, and solve problems, and experience and express creativity.
    2. Head is great at pattern recognition but it can easily get locked into set patterns. Getting locked into this closed mindset can often hurt us and cut off our creativity. The intelligence of the heart, on the other hand, processes information in a less linear, more intuitive and direct way. The heart isn’t only open to new possibilities, it actively scans for them, ever seeking new, intuitive understanding. The head “knows” but the heart “understands”
    3. The head often leads us into rationalizing and conceptualizing an issue instead of actualizing what the heart already knows and has communicated. When we react to life from the head without joining forces with the heart, our single-mindedness often leads us into childish, inelegant behavior that we’re ashamed of. If, on the other hand, we get the head in sync with the heart, we have the power of their teamwork on our side and can make the changes we know we ought to make
    4. The lower heart refers to those feelings that are colored by the attachments and conditions placed on them by the mind. Conditional love is a good example. The higher heart is more allowing. It doesn’t hedge or barter. Authenticity is its own reward for the higher heart. But it takes emotional maturity to manifest the heart’s qualities with consistency
    5. When we learn to manage our emotions long enough to stop and shift our attention to the quieter message of the heart, we can gain a wider perspective on any situation, often saving ourselves from hurt, frustration, and pain
  4. Entrainment
    1. The heart is the strongest biological oscillator in the human system and therefore, the rest of the body’s systems are pulled into entrainment with the hearty’s rhythms. The heart communicates with the rest of the body in three ways: neurologically (nerve impulses), biochemically (hormones and neurotransmitters), and biophysically (pressure waves). However, there may be a fourth way – energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions). The heart’s EMF is the most powerful produced by the body, it not only permeates every cell in the body but also radiates outside of us; it can be measured up to 8-10 feet away with sensitive detectors called magnetometers. It not only affects our own brains and bodies but can also be registered by the people around us. When your body is in entrainment, its major systems work in harmony. Your biological systems operate at higher efficiency because of that harmony, and as a result you think and feel better
    2. When we get the head in sync with the heart, the power of both works for us and we can make changes that we know we ought to make
    3. Can develop their ability to maintain entrainment by sustaining sincere, heart-focused states such as appreciation and love
  5. Freeze-Frame
    1. A technique to increase and improve the communication between your heart and mind while reducing stress. It is invaluable for managing thoughts to prevent the needless depletion of energy. Because this technique increases mental clarity, it will help you make sound decisions, even in what would formerly have been highly stressful situations
    2. It is important to monitor our inner thoughts and feelings. Some of it adds energy, while others deplete it. Understanding energy assets and deficits provides a key to accessing your heart intelligence. Core heart feelings such as appreciation, non-judgment, and forgiveness increase energy assets and eliminate many deficits.
    3. We can look at life as a high-speed movie. We get so caught up in the momentum of the story that we forge that it’s made up of individual moments. From one minute to the next, we having an astonishing range of thoughts, emotions, and experiences. So, Freeze-Frame enhances your power to stop your reaction to the move of life at any moment. It allows you to get a clearer perspective on what’s happening in a single frame and allows you to edit the next frame from a point of balance and understanding. It can be done anytime, anywhere, whenever you want to stop stress in its tracks and get quick intuitive access. Setting daily alarms and reminders can be helpful
    4. You must learn to entrain your biological systems to your heart. This allows in access to new information and a shift in perfection. By shifting focus toward your heart and away from whatever problem you face, you divert energy from your perception of the problem. When you consciously act from a point of heart balance, you connect more naturally with what real self – not your reactive self – wants to think or do. Listening to your heart isn’t hard, but attuning to its inner signals is different for everyone and often takes a little practice
    5. Don’t underestimate the power of neutral. The ability to find neutral, and stay put there until your heart shows you clearly what to do, is a sign of balance and maturity. The neutral state is a conduit for objectivity in the moment
    6. The 5-step process creates a harmonious relationship between the head and the heart
      1. Recognize the stressful feeling and Freeze-Frame it. Take a time out
      2. Make a sincere effort to shift your focus away from the racing mind or disturbed emotions to the area around your heart. Pretend you’re breathing through your heart to help focus your energy in this area. Keep your focus there for ten seconds or more
      3. Recall a positive, fun feeling or time you’ve had in life and try to experience it
      4. Now, using your intuition, common sense, and sincerity, ask your heart, what would be a more efficient response to the situation, one that would minimize future stress?
      5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question. It’s an effective way to put your reactive mind and emotions in check and an in-house source of common sense solutions
    7. When to practice
      1. At transition points (from home to work or work to home) so that you are fully present in the moment
      2. Before conversations
      3. Any time communication is going off-track
      4. At the beginning of the day – set the tone for positive activity, calibrate your system for a coherent day, clear mental and emotional cobwebs
      5. At the end of the day, to feel positive completion of the day and ensure a good night’s sleep
  6. Coherence
    1. The state that makes the difference between a book light and a laser beam. Inner coherence is a benchmark of intelligence and a cornerstone of effective living.
    2. When a system is coherent, virtually no energy is wasted, because all its components are operating in harmony. When every system in your body is aligned, your personal power is at its peak. Learning to cultivate that rewarding state of coherence enhances our ability to adapt, to flex, and to innovate. It allows us to rapidly get back to a feeling of balance and poise after stressful events and to improve communication, health, and overall well-being. A balanced heart and agile mind create access to innate intelligence and an enhanced capacity for greater internal coherence – the optimal state of being
    3. An age of rising complexity, speed, distractions is taking away from our ability to be in coherence so, those who are able to, have a greater advantage than ever before. New research has found that what creates more stress for people than any other is having to shift concepts, intentions, and focus to too many different tasks, many times an hour.
    4. Lack of coherence affects our vision, listening ability, reaction time, mental clarity, feeling states, and sensitivity.
    5. It’s a vicious cycle: stress destroys coherence, and incoherence causes stress. Chronic stress is one of the most prevalent and dangerous situations today and affects every part of our health and psyche. The brain doesn’t know between real threat and perceived threat so the physical and emotional reaction is the same. Indulging anger is harmful in more ways than one. So, if we can’t express it or repress it, what do we do? The answer is to recognize the anger but choose to respond to the situation differently.
    6. The solution to stress management lies in how we perceive the stressors in our lives. It’s not really the events that cause stress; it’s how we perceive those events. Improving the communication between the heart and brain helps one achieve coherence. By paying attention to our perceptions and reactions, we can eliminate the chronic stress that seeps through our bodies like a slow poison. Learning how to alter our standard stress reactions by perceiving life’s events from a place of intuition, balance, poise, and flexibility require a major shift – through a shift from head to heart
    7. Heart + Head = Coherence
      1. The brain is not the sole source of intelligence. We can realize that it’s a  remarkable partner to the heart, not its master
  7. Energy efficiency
    1. Mental and emotional diets determine our overall energy levels, health, and well-being to a far greater extent than most people realize. Every thought, feeling, no matter how big or small, impacts our inner energy reserves
    2. Life is an energy economy game. Each day ask yourself, “Are my energy expenditures (actions, reactions, thoughts, and feelings) productive or nonproductive? During the course of my day, have I accumulated more stress or more peace?
    3. Keeping an asset/deficit sheet for a few days will give you a clear picture of your energy account
    4. Consciously evoking core heart feelings nourishes our bodies at every level
    5. Learning to “just say no” to emotional reactions isn’t repression. Saying no means not engaging the frustration, anger, judgement, or blame. Without engagement, you won’t have anything to repress
    6. By using your heart as a compass, you can see more clearly which direction to go to stop self-defeating behavior. If you take just one mental or emotional habit that really bothers or drains you and apply heart intelligence to it, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your life
  8. Power Tools of the Heart
    1. Sincerity is the generator that brings core heart feelings such as appreciation and forgiveness into coherence and gives them power. By coming into coherence, we learn to take our emotions from a light bulb to a laser beam, applying them with focused intention and consistency. Sincerity is essential, it motivates our heart and aligns our true intentions.
    2. Power Tool 1: Appreciation
      1. Appreciation is a blend of thankfulness, admiration, approval, and gratitude
      2. It is magnetic and highly energizing, helping to bring you into coherence and entrainment
      3. Opening your heart is like putting a wide-angle lens on the camera of your perception. Suddenly, more of the world comes into view
    3. Power Tool 2: Non-judgment
      1. Judgments create stress and incoherence, and these limit the full range of our intelligence. Yet we’re socially conditioned to judge
      2. One of the most important things to note about the downside of judgment is that the person judging is the one who’s hurt the most
      3. Making a mistake and then judging yourself harshly is simply adding fuel to the fire
      4. The heart can give you the awareness needed to become more neutral, letting things unfold. That’s what non-judgment is all about. It allows you to be aware of your opinions but always be open to new thoughts, actions, ideas, people, etc.
      5. When you find yourself in strong judgment, use the Freeze-Frame technique to get neutral and find a more balanced, intuitive perspective
    4. Power Tool 3: Forgiveness
      1. You don’t forgive others for their sake, but for yours. Forgiveness is simply the most energy-efficient option you face, and the only one that will foster health and well-being
      2. The incoherence that results from holding on to resentments and unforgiving attitudes keeps you from being aligned with your true self and blocks you from your next level of quality life experience
      3. Forgiving yourself is often the hardest part but also the most important. Compromised forgiveness means that somehow the effort was incomplete. That lack of completion can mean the difference between a breakthrough into a completely new and different life experience and the same old patterns repeating themselves.
    5. Fulfillment is based on two elements: awareness and performance. Self-development comes from the increased awareness of where you are right now and learning what is needed in order to grow. And self-expression is how you perform, what you do about it
  9. Management of emotions
    1. Emotion = energy in motion. It’s the feeling sensation and physiological reaction that make a specific emotion positive or negative, and it’s our thoughts about it that give it meaning.
    2. Emotional energy works at a higher speed than the speed of thought because your feeling world operates at a higher level than your mind. We evaluate everything emotionally as we perceive it. We think about it afterwards
    3. Heart coherence helps balance our emotional state. It aligns head and heart to facilitate higher brain function, which appears to create a direct link to intuition or super-high-speed intelligence. Intuition bypasses mental analysis and gives us direct perception independent of any reasoning process. Intuition gives us clarity on how to direct and manage our feelings before we invest emotional energy into them
    4. Emotions in themselves aren’t really intelligent but have an organizing intelligence behind them. How we organize our thoughts and emotions and what we do with them reflect our intelligence. When we let our unmanaged thoughts dictate how we respond emotionally, we’re asking for trouble
    5. A benchmark of new emotional management lies in realizing that our past can no longer be blamed for our actions in the present
    6. Biochemistry affects our emotional responses, but our emotions affect our biochemistry in turn as well. Biochemicals are actually the physiological correlates of emotions
    7. Emotional intelligence implies the ability to self-regulate our moods, control our impulses, delay gratification, persist despite frustration, and motivate ourselves. When we’re equipped with these strengths, the twists and turns of life don’t get us down. We roll with them
    8. There are two major mind-sets that quickly compromise efforts at emotional management: justification and principle. These mind-sets trap your emotional energy in hurt, blame, fear, disappointment, betrayal, regret, remorse, and/or guilt, which create cumulative drain and deficits in your system. Any rationalization of deficit emotions traps our emotional energy in hurt, blame, fear, disappointment, betrayal, regret, remorse, or guilt
    9. Taking the significance out of issues and events is second nature to adults dealing with kids but we don’t tend to offer that same help to ourselves. The problem is that when we ignore one deficit emotion and refuse to take the significance out even after we’re aware of it, the emotional depletion builds, undermining our progress in other areas
    10. One of the main keys to emotional management is learning to quickly arrest a draining or deficit emotion and generate an attitude shift from a place of deep heart maturity. To reclaim the energy out of a deficit emotion, we have to take out the significance we’ve assigned to it. To take the significance out, we first make an effort to back off; then the heart can open up.
    11. Emotions liquefied become flow, and mind aligned with heart becomes intuition
  10. Care and Overcare
    1. Care is a powerful motivator. It inspires and gently reassures us. Care feels good – whether we’re giving it or receiving it. Care provides a conduit for your spirit’s expression in the midst of human existence. The more you truly care, the more you’ll come to know of yourself and others
    2. When we cross the line into overcare, our original caring is tainted by stress. It then becomes self-defeating, because it compromises our available energy to perform
    3. Perfectionism, over-attachment, projection of thoughts/mental images about the future, worry, anxiety, insecurity, expectations, comparisons are all manifestations of overcare
    4. Signals from the heart let you know when your care has become overcare, if you’re willing to listen. Every time you eliminate an overcare, the relief is tremendous, and you store away power that makes fighting overcare easier the next time
  11. Cut-Thru
    1. The purpose of Cut-Thru is to help people recognize and reprogram the subconscious emotional memory paths that, through long-term reinforcement, influence our perception, color our day-to-day thoughts and feelings, and condition our responses to future situations. Cut-Thru is for more deeply ingrained emotional issues than Freeze-Frame can help you resolve
    2. Cut-Thru facilitates emotional coherence and allows you to transform emotions you don’t want into new, regenerative feelings. And it does so without resorting to rationalization or repression
    3. Use Cut-Thru to shift out of emotions that are draining your energy, regain emotional balance, and eliminate long-standing emotional issues
    4. Managing emotions with Cut-Thru requires that you first recognize how you’re feeling. Breathing through the heart and solar plexus helps you anchor your emotions. Assuming objectivity leads to emotional maturity
    5. Cut-Thru helps you build your self-motivation, emotional capabilities, empathy, and you’ll begin to move through life at the most efficient speed possible – the speed of balance
    6. The 6 Steps of Cut-Thru
      1. Be aware of how you feel about the issue at hand
      2. Focus on the heart and solar plexus – breathe love and appreciation through this area for ten seconds or more to help anchor your attention there
      3. Assume objectivity about the feeling or issue – as if it were someone else’s problem
      4. Rest in neutral – in your rational, mature heart
      5. Soak and relax any disturbed or perplexing feelings in the compassion of the heart, dissolving the significance a little at a time. Take your time doing this step; there’s no time limit. Remember, it’s not the problem that causes energy drain as much as the significance you assign the problem
      6. After extracting as much significance as you can, from your deep heart sincerely ask for appropriate guidance or insight. If you don’t get an answer, find something to appreciate for a while. Appreciation of anything often facilitates intuitive clarity on issues you’ve been working on
  12. Heart Lock-In
    1. This technique helps you discover that you have your own internal source of regeneration. Quieting the mind and sustaining a solid connection with the heart – locking into its power – adds buoyancy and regenerative energy to your entire system. The more your core heart feelings come into play, the more you realize how much can be gained from a loving, open-hearted perspective. It helps with coherence, entrainment, improves immune functions, helping with mental, physical, and emotional health
  13. HeartMath in school and at home
    1. Heart Lock-In can be done with your children at the start of family time, quality time, or before dinner or bed
    2. Having kids do Freeze-Frame or Cut-Thru helps them calm emotions, better communicate, gain mental clarity, gain wider perspective and better understand what they’re feeling and why. Fostering emotional management from the heart may be one of the greatest gifts you can give children
    3. When emotions run high at school or during sports, performing these same techniques will have similar positive effects
What I got out of it
  1. Some really helpful tips and shows the power of coherence, HRV, entrainment, breathing properly, the power of neutrality. A physical, minimum effective dose to get many (not nearly all!) of the benefits associated with meditation.

Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Joe Dispenza

Summary
  1. “This book will show you how to accept your future dream as your current reality and to do so in a way that your body believes is happening “now.” You can discover how to set into motion a cascade of emotional and physiological processes that reflect your new reality. The neurons in your brain, the sensory neurites in your heart, and the chemistry in your body all harmonize to mirror the new thinking, and the quantum possibilities of life are rearranged to replace the unwanted circumstances of your past with the new circumstances that you’ve accepted as the present. The hope is that this book provides a roadmap for how to achieve some of these transcendental experiences yourself.”
Key Takeaways
  1. We are not linear beings living linear lives but dimensional beings living dimensional lives
  2. It takes a clear intent (coherent brain) and an elevated emotion (a coherent heart (to begin to change a persons biology from living in the last to living in the future. That combination of mind and body – of thoughts and feelings – also seems to influence matter. And that’s how you create reality
  3. All frequencies carry information, including the electromagnetism our bodies give off
  4. There are several energy centers within the body with their own chemistries, hormones, and brains and can be influenced to be more balanced and integrated. Learning how to shift from outer to inner focus (beta to alpha waves) is key to being able to program the autonomic nervous system
  5. The more you understand the science and reasoning behind these meditations and practices, the easier you’ll be able to accept and give into them
  6. There is a future you – a you who already exists in the eternal present moment – who is actually calling himself to the more familiar you who is reading this book. And that future you is more loving, more evolved, more conscious, more present, more kind, more exuberant, more mindful, more willful, more connected, more supernatural, and more whole. That is who is waiting for you to change your energy to match his or her energy on a daily basis so you can find that future you – who actually exists in the eternal now. And the only way you can create a new life, heal your body, or change your predictable future is to get beyond yourself. It takes practice to live in the present moment rather than the predictable future or familiar past
  7. The quantum world, the fifth dimension, is not available through normal senses but only when we’re totally present can we transcend and reach this space where all potential futures are available to you. The quantum of unified field is an invisible field of energy and information – or you could say a field of intelligence or consciousness – that exists beyond space and time. Nothing physical or material exists there. It’s beyond anything you can perceive with your senses. This unified field of energy and information is what governs all the laws of nature. Dispenza thinks of the quantum field as energy which is self-organizing intelligence. The quantum field is filled with infinite amounts of energy vibrating beyond the physical world of matter and beyond our senses – invisible waves of energy available for us to use in creation
  8. The brain thinks but the heart knows. The heart is the center of oneness, wholeness and unity consciousness
  9. Physiologically, stress is akin to fighting for survival. No organism can live in this space for extended periods of time but in today’s world, many humans are at a low level of stress at all times. All energy is sent to deal with external threats and there is nothing left for internal growth and repair, compromising the immune system. But, with proper focus, meditation and breathing techniques, you can teach your brain and body what your ideal future state will feel like ahead of the actual experience. Your brain and body does not know the difference between the real event and the one you imagine and emotionally embrace. You can pull your present self into the future by having this intention crystal clear in your mind and body
  10. Emotions are the chemical consequences (or feedback) of past experiences. The stronger the emotional quotient from any event – good or bad – the stronger the change in our internal chemistry. An experience becomes imprinted on the neural circuitry, and the emotion is then stored in the body – and that’s how our past becomes our biology
  11. It is difficult and takes time but have to completely surrender, get out of the way and let go of wanting any specific outcome and simply open up to possibility
  12. First have to master the concept of the present moment: the eternal now. Have to transcend the physical world and your identity and even time itself in order to turn possibility into reality. You have to get out of your own way, transcend the memory of yourself as an identity and allow something greater than you, something mystical, to take over.
  13. Mind is the brain in action. Your brain is a product of the past; a living record of everything you have learned and experienced up to the present
  14. Becoming aware of your thoughts is so important because thoughts influence feelings which influence behavior which influence life in a virtuous or negative cycle
  15. Changing up your routine and trying new things forces you to be more present and aware because you have to be in the moment and can’t go on autopilot. If not in the present moment, you’re probably in a program (habit). There is no room for the unknown in a predictable life. The unknown is unfamiliar, uncertain – but it’s also exciting because it occurs in ways you cannot expect or anticipate
    1. Something I need to incorporate more of: getting out of habits and routines (even though I feel they’re positive) to allow more space for the unknown and spontaneous to enter my life. Need energy to create an unknown experience in a new timeline if want to change something
  16. Think of emotion as energy in motion, they are the chemical residues of experiences. Brain creates electrical charges through neurons and when these thoughts create chemical neurons that result in an emotion, those feelings create a magnetic charge. These merge to create an electromagnetic field equal to your state of being. Only way to change our lives is to change our energy – to change the electromagnetic field we are constantly broadcasting. In other words, to change our state of being, we have to change how we think and how we feel. What you put your attention on and mentally rehearse over and over again not only becomes who you are from a biological perspective, it also determines your future. An internal focus rather than external (inside body rather than imagining seeing self as though in a movie) had much more profound effects in muscle growth visualizing practices. Shows the power thought alone can have on the body. You have to think greater than how you feel to make any real, lasting changes
    1. Honor this by taking an internal view and comparing self to previous self rather than others
  17. Now know that it’s not the gene that creates disease but both the external and internal environments that program our genes to create the disease.
  18. Experiences enrich the brain. Possessions fracture it’s energy, focus and attention. When outer world objects such as people, problems, social media, etc. take so much of your attention and energy, there is little left for you to put on your inner world of thoughts and feelings. What you own eventually comes to own you – becoming a victim of your life rather than the creator of your life. Too many outside distractions gets your brain to fire out of order and to work inefficiently and out of sync. When your brain is incoherent, you get incoherent. How much of your energy is taken up by possessions, fear, greed, envy, etc. that could otherwise be put to creating a new destiny? This is a shift from somebody to no body, from something to no thing, from being somewhere to being no where, from being in linear time to being in no time. The different compartments that were once subdivided now start to unify and move toward a coherent, whole-brain state – where your brain can synchronize, organize and integrate. The brain then can slow down and connect with our autonomic nervous system, healing the body as our consciousness merges with its consciousness.
  19. Goal of meditation is to create a reality from a world beyond your senses that’s defined not by your body as the mind but by you as the mind. So as you become aware of the program, you keep settling your body down into the present moment. The body wants to return to the familiar past because it wants to engage in a predictable future, but you keep settling it back down. Each time you overcome those automatic thoughts and habits, your will becomes greater than your program, you are reconditioning your body to a new mind. The hardest part of every war is the last battle. Push through this final stage to reach the unknown where all possibilities await
  20. Just like an electron appears when we observe it but when we don’t it is a wave (possibility), focusing on our life gets you the known and by getting past this,being in the eternal present, and focusing on the unknown, turns your life into possibility. The longer you can linger in that field of infinite possibilities, without putting your attention on your body, on things, or on people, places, and time, the longer you invest your energy into the unknown, the more you are going to create a new experience or new possibilities in your life. It’s the law. Need clear intention and elevated emotion – creating an electromagnetic signature that is equal to your state of being. You will literally tune in to the energy of a new future and the unified field will help endorse your creation
  21. Paradox: The unknown has never let me down. Difficult, but surrender to it
  22. These meditations will help you get in syntropy (opposite of entropy) by being aware and able to tune into higher energy frequencies
  23. Meditate by using both convergent (narrow) focus and divergent (open, broad) focus by putting awareness to different parts of the body as well as the space surrounding the body, bringing you into coherence. Focusing on no thing, focusing on information rather than matter, allows your brain waves to slow down and move from beta to alpha – sensing and feeling rather than thinking. This allows you to move into the seat of your body’s operating system, the ANS, and work in a more holistic fashion
  24. Energy centers have their own biological make up, glands, hormones, chemicals and individual mini brains. They help us in different ways and bringing attention to them brings energy to them – ka, pituitary, pineal, thyroid, heart, adrenal, digestive and pancreatic, sexual (chakras). Getting that circuit flowing the way it was designed to is the whole point of doing the Blessing of the Energy Centers meditation – we bless each of these centers so we can get stuck energy flowing again. When our consciousness is not evolving, neither is our energy
  25. Coherence is an orderly expression of frequency
  26. The viral electromagnetic field of light we emit is who we really are. When we are stressed, our body consumer too much energy from this light field and our body can’t grow and repair. This leads to disease or imbalance. Can repair this through a more balanced lifestyle
  27. Energy Centers meditation
    1. Focus on each of the seven chakras and then the space around the chakras, while in a state of elevated emotion such as love or joy or gratitude
    2. Start at first center (perineum), focus on it and then the space around it and bless it for the greatest good. Do this for all 7 centers and once get to the eighth (above head) bless it with gratitude. Raise the frequency on every step and then lie down for 15 minutes to let your body integrate it all
  28. The breath is a way to pull the mind out of the body. You will be using your body as an instrument of consciousness to ascend your energy – turning those survival emotions into creative emotions. As you free your body from the chains of the past and liberate this energy, you have available energy to do the uncommon – to achieve the supernatural. By unlocking the energy locked in the first three centers and shifting them up the body, you will regain the natural, healthy electromagnetic state you need to be in to live optimally
  29. Breath work: flex perineum, lower and upper abs, breathe through the nose and feel the energy running up your spine to your brain. Follow the breath up to the top of your head, hold your breathe for 10 seconds while keeping your muscles flexed, increasing the pressure inside your spinal cord and column. Exhale and relax your muscles. Do this for 3-10 breaths. This accelerates the upward movement of the cerebrospinal fluid, creating inductance and building up your electromagnetic field, unlocking huge amounts of ‘survival’ energy into divine or creative energy. This is not a passive process and takes huge amounts of will and intention and it is key to consistently feel elevated emotions, greater than what you and your body are used to feeling. The body will slowly catch on and catch up.
  30. By getting our heart into coherence, we can access our heart’s intelligence and intuition which has many emotional and physiological benefits. Coherence begins with the steady, coherent drumbeat if the heart through cultivating, practicing and sustaining elevated emotions such as gratitude, inspiration, appreciation and more. The heart center is the union of our lower three animal centers and our upper three divine centers. Heart coherence helps with brain coherence and homeostasis, all necessary to function optimally
  31. Heart is an auto rhythmic organ, the heartbeat is self initiated from within rather than from the brain. Gives out multiples more electromagnetism than the brain and more information passes from heart to brain than from brain to heart
  32. Heart rate variability measured environmental and physiological challenges as reflected by the variation of the heart’s beat to beat intervals. It measures the flexibility of our heart and nervous system which reflects our health and fitness as well as how well we are balancing our mental and emotional lives. Having a moderate level of variability is healthy and indicative of an ability to adapt and deal with challenges
  33. The chemicals released which lead to feelings and emotions last for about 90-120 seconds. Anything after that is self-induced and perpetuated
  34. Coherent heart can amplify the energy of the brain by 50-300x. By focusing on our heart and emotions, the hearts beating serves as an amplifier, increasing the synchronization between the heart and brain and creates coherence not only in the physical organs but also in the electromagnetic field surrounding our body. Very clear connection between the quality of our heart’s rhythm and our overall health
  35. We are only suggestible to the thoughts that equal our emotional state
  36. Heart lock in meditation – breathe through your heart center and chest for about ten minutes. Once you couple that with elevated emotions, send it beyond your body and marry it with your intention. This will help your heart go into a coherent state
  37. Uses kaleidoscopes to induce trance and open up people to be suggestible to mystical state. Plays these videos before the mind movies for this reason
  38. Mind movies (words, phrases, images, videos, songs of the future you want) help set clear intentions of the future you want to create, program unconscious and conscious mind into that new future, changing brain and body biologically to look like future has already happened, and paid with music to recondition body and mind to remember new future. watch first thing in morning or before bed as you’re most open at these times. This helps make your future as real and three dimensional as possible. By bringing in every sense, we make it real even before it actually happens. Recommends doing the kaleidoscope and mind movies together for about a month and to have several (wellness, health, work…)
  39. The standing and walking meditations are meant to keep your intention and energy up throughout the day
  40. Day to day life is Newtonian and thought of in terms of space-time where space is infinite but in the quantum world it is time-space and time is infinite. We travel through this world in terms of space as there is no future and no past
  41. The more whole you feel the less lack you experience, and therefore the less you want. How can you want, or live in lack, when you feel whole? If there is less lack, there is less of the need to create from duality, polarity, and separation. How can you want when you’re whole? When you create from wholeness you feel like you already have it. There is no longer wanting, trying, wishing, forcing, predicting, fighting, or hoping – after all, hope is a beggar. When you create from a state of wholeness, there are only knowing and observing. This is the key to manifesting reality: being connected, not separate
  42. Simply by placing your attention on the unified field – as you become of aware of it, notice it, experience it, feel it, interact with it, and stay present with that moment after moment – it shows up and unfolds in your reality on a daily basis. How does it show up and unfold? As unknowns: serendipities, synchronicities, opportunities, coincidences, being in the right place at the right time, and moments filled with awe
  43. The discipline is to:
    1. Allow your consciousness to merge with a greater consciousness
    2. Surrender deeper into intelligent love
    3. Trust in the unknown
    4. Continuously surrender some aspect of the limited self to join the greater self
    5. Lose yourself in nothing to become everything
    6. Relax into an infinite deep-sea of coherent energy
    7. Keep unfolding deeper and deeper into oneness
    8. Continuously let go of control
    9. Feel greater and greater degrees of wholeness
    10. As a consciousness, moment by moment become aware, pay attention to, experience, be present with, and feel more and more of this unified field all around you – without returning your awareness back to three dimensional reality
  44. Melatonin is thought to be very important for these transcendental experiences and production of melatonin is highest between 1-4am and is why this is the best time to have transcendental moments through meditation
  45. The pineal gland can tune into the electromagnetic field and convert and descramble this information into something meaningful. There are 4 steps needed to activate the gland: exert internal pressure on it to create electrical impulses and then an electromagnetic field through the flex breathing discussed earlier; the increased speed of the cerebrospinal fluid gets the gland to release some powerful melatonin; this aroused your mind and relaxes your body and allows you to pick up on signals from the unified field
  46. What we are training for is greater levels of wholeness, oneness, love, and higher consciousness. An elevation in consciousness is accompanied with an elevation in awareness and perception, raising and heightening your senses
  47. True leadership never needs confirmation from others. It just requires a clear vision and a change in energy – that is, a new state of being – that is sustained long enough and executed with a strong enough will that it causes others to raise their own energy and become inspired to do the same. Once they do raise themselves from their own limited state of being to a new energy, they see the same future that their leader sees. There is power in numbers.
  48. When someone is truly engaged in change, they are less likely to talk about it and more prone to demonstrate it. They are working on living it.
What I got out of it
  1. Have to change your energy before you change anything in your life, have to live today as if that future state you want has already happened, several different times of meditation and breathing techniques (energy centers meditation), importance of brain/heart coherence, need clear intention and elevated emotion – creating an electromagnetic signature that is equal to your state of being. You will literally tune in to the energy of a new future and the unified field will help endorse your creation, key to manifesting your reality is to be connected and not separate, elevation of consciousness is accompanied with an elevation in awareness and perception, where you put your awareness is where you put your energy

Solve for Happiness: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat

Summary
  1. Mo Gawdat uses his engineering and mathematics background to study happiness and make it replicable and scalable
Key Takeaways
  1. Happiness = perception – expectations (of situations, people, work, etc…)
    1. Shows that it is our perception and not the actual event that makes us happy. Changing our thoughts can make us happy
  2. Happiness is never reached but is a continuous process that never ends. It is reached internally and is actually our default state
  3. When you know what you are looking for, the quest becomes easy
  4. Success doesn’t elan to happiness but happiness contributes to success
  5. Think of things which make you happy and create a happiness list. Consult and add to this list as often as you like and do these things often. Can also create a pictures folder on your phone to consult at any time
  6. People tend to be happy when life seems to be going their way and unhappy when reality doesn’t match their hopes or expectations
  7. True happiness comes when you are in perfect harmony with life and have the proper expectations. At this point, all thought and mental chatter is made irrelevant as you know bumps will come in life and you deal with them with equanimity as they are expected
  8. What matters is not how much you know but how accurate what you know is
  9. Understand you control nothing but your attitude, actions, and reactions
  10. The true joy lies in giving it. The more you give the more you get and the more it will be attracted to you. Love everything and everyone. Love yourself. Be kind and spread your gifts selflessly and without expectation of getting anything in return
  11. Forgiving is the ultimate form of giving
  12. 6 – 7 -5
    1. 6 illusions
      1. Thought – you are not your thoughts and it is important to detach self and happiness from thoughts. Reduce this voice, this mental chatter.
      2. Self – You are neither your inner voice, body, emotions, achievements, or possessions. You are simply the observer
      3. Knowledge
      4. Time – Don’t be a slave to time. Always be in the present, it is the only thing that exists, don’t think too much about the past or future
      5. Control – don’t try to control things but find things which feel effortless to you – this is what is right for you. Effort needed to live our life grows exponentially which is why it is so important to simplify and surrender. Life can be easy but we make it difficult. Search for the path of least resistance
      6. Fear – The damage you do thinking about your fear is almost always worse than simply facing it. Thinking through both the worst and best case and are helpful exercises to help you get over your fear
    2. 7 blindspots
      1. Filters
      2. Assumptions
      3. Memories
      4. Labels
      5. Emotions
      6. Exaggerating
      7. Predictions
    3. 5 ultimate truths
      1. Choose to believe in the side that make you happy
      2. Now is the only thing that’s real – brings awareness by reducing doing and mental chatter
      3. Grand design
      4. Nothing is random
      5. Life generally follows patterns, laws, rules, or science
What I got out of it
  1. Happiness = perception – expectations and therefore it is our perception and not the actual event that makes us happy, create a happiness and picture folder list, happiness comes down to expectations

You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Joe Dispenza

Summary
  1. A placebo affect is when we believe in some external stimulus which changes our body condition or something else. This book is about how to harness and use this amazing power of the placebo effect but without external stimulus in order to our achieve our goals and health
Key Takeaways
  1. 3 elements:
    1. Conditioning
    2. Expectation
    3. Meaning
  2. Mind and matter truly are the same thing and this understanding is key to unlocking your power
  3. Information leads to transformation
  4. Beliefs need to feel more real than current reality. The ability to touch, feel, totally embody yourself in your vision or goal before it is manifested in reality is key
  5. Change can only occur when you become conscious of your unconscious thoughts, feelings, reactions and other habit patterns
  6. You have to rise above these to be your own placebo: Body, Environment, Time
  7. Attitudes are temporary beliefs and most beliefs are made up from past thoughts and experiences. They are addicting and habit forming so be very careful about your thoughts. Perception is an elongated state of being which is formed by your beliefs, attitudes, thoughts and feelings. You don’t see reality as it truly is. You fill in the gaps with your beliefs and attitudes. The only way to change your perception is to change your state of being, recognizing your faulty and incomplete beliefs for what they are. This process is so difficult because we are addicted to our beliefs and take them to be truth almost all the time
  8. As soon as we expect, believe and surrender to an outcome without consciously thinking about it or analyzing it, then we’ll become vulnerable to that particular reality. Imagine how your life would change if you were able to change your beliefs to one which wholeheartedly believed the universe was conspiring to help you at all times
  9. The quantum model shows that at the subatomic level matter is here one second and gone the next. This can indicate that all future scenarios already exist in some alternate universe and is a candidate to how we can affect and change our future by holding a clear and firm intention. This is how the mind can affect matter by collapsing all potential energy fields into a single focus day after day
  10. Another way to think of disease is as a down regulation of your energy. You have become a material being because you are putting greater emphasis on matter that is painful or hurtful then energy. You lose energy and consciousness through this path
  11. Cells are 100 times more susceptible to energy chemicals which is why being in the state of coherence is so important
  12. The author believes that deep down every human believes in their greatness in the potential to make the future better than the present
  13. Truly understanding intellectually what is happening drives home the power of this meditation and belief system. It is like hard coding these beliefs into our system
  14. The most conducive times to meditate is right when you wake up or right before bed
  15. Meditate in a similar place without distractions and wear comfortable clothing
  16. Living too rigid and scheduled of a life doesn’t allow space for spontaneity and inspiration to enter. In order to affect lasting change you have to be fully in the present moment and not thinking about or worried about the next task on your schedule. You have to become the unknown or pure consciousness where you don’t attach to any faith, idea, belief, disease or anything else
  17. Change or belief meditation – determine which perceptions about yourself that you want to change and then what you want to believe and how that will make you feel
    1. Open focus meditation is one where you focus more on space and the unknown send any particular mantra idea or thought. Enhances our energy by focusing on energy
    2. In this next part fully detach from your identity and become 100% immersed in the present moment. This is the sweet spot as the present moment can lead to any future
    3. You should allow yourself just to linger on each chakra for about 15 minutes each
    4. Your job is not to figure out when or where or how to make your wishes come true, simply to see it and feel it wholeheartedly
  18. The author’s definition of genius is the ability and willingness to get uncomfortable
  19. A clear intention with uncompromising trust and belief is what is needed to dive into the unknown and to take steps into unleashing the power of the placebo
What I got out of it
  1. You really get an appreciation for the power of your mind, your thoughts, your intentions after you hear some of these stories

10-Day Silent Vipassana Meditation Retreat

In June 2017, I went on a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat in Kathmandu, Nepal. This kind of retreat has been on my bucket list for some time and I finally had enough space and time to make it a reality. It was one of the more difficult, inspiring, impactful and enlightening experiences of my life. My aim is to learn and do things which I think have a good chance of being helpful throughout my life (nothing short-term or ephemeral) and across boundaries (nothing siloed) – be it work, building great relationships, athletics or any other piece of the “well-balanced life mosaic.” I think this challenge perfectly suits this criteria and while 10 days is a very short stint to dive into your consciousness and work on self-discovery and self-mastery, it has served as an incredible impetus to make meditation a more regular and focused part of my every day life. Below are some of my takeaways and thoughts on my 10-day retreat…

 

Vipassana: Its Goals and Theory (as I understand it)

  • Vipassana means understanding reality as it truly is and not as you want it to be, through the framework of the body.
  • It is a totally non-secular, universal approach as there are no images of dieties tied in, chanting, mantras or other typically religious aspects involved which can isolate or polarize people from different backgrounds. It is simply non-judgmental, non-reactive, equanimious observation and awareness of ever subtler bodily sensations, breath and thoughts with the understanding that all of it is impermanent – Anitya. True understanding of this impermanence, whether the sensation is typically considered desirable or not desirable helps develop a balanced mind as one gradually gets less attached to pleasurable sensations and slowly starts despising less the pain or tension or wandering mind or misery which accompanies long sits and of course life in general. However, if and when misery does occur, its magnitude and duration is considerably less.
  • By simply observing your bodily sensations and thoughts without judgment or reaction, you will slowly retrain your thought and habit patterns to one of observation and action rather than of judgment and impulsive reaction. One begins to notice the changing nature of body and mind which leads to the understanding of the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth realization by direct experience is the beginning of the path towards liberation from suffering. Thus, staying equanimious for long periods of time allows old sankharas (deep rooted “5 big enemies” of craving, aversion, drowsiness, hesitation and doubt) to arise in body or thought and if you can simply observe rather than judge and react, they will slowly weaken and eventually disappear. Your non-emotional observation takes away the fuel they rely on and is why they gradually burn out. You will remember them but from a detached and non-reacting place

 

The Technique

  • Days 1-3
    • These days are to focus on Sila or proper morality and include: abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, wrong speech and all intoxicants
    • On the afternoon before the retreat officially begins, Noble Silence is put in place. This means silence of speech, body and mind – no talking, gestures, reading, writing or any other form of communication. This may seem strange or difficult but it really helps you be able to focus on your own path without worrying or comparing yourself to others. Questions and requests can be made to the teachers and volunteers if need be
    • You start with focusing solely on the breath, specifically on your nose, nostrils and upper lip. This meditation where one only focuses on the breath in this area is called anapana meditation. If one has trouble feeling any sensations at first, take a couple hard breaths. Your mind will soon still, adjust and be able to feel the subtlest of breaths
    • On days 2 and 3 you narrow down the focus even further to even smaller areas of the nose such as the outer nostrils. The purpose of these 3 days is to focus, calm and still the mind, improving one’s concentration and subtlety of awareness. Without this time, the mind is not focused or prepared to be able to notice the incredibly subtle sensations in the rest of the body which starts with full body scans in the afternoon of day 3
    • Other rules: Segregation of men and women, exercise is limited to walking and stretching, religious rituals or objects should be done away with during these 10 days, food is simple and vegetarian with only a light meal of fruit for dinner, clothing should be modest and comfortable, reading and writing and music are prohibited
  • Day 4
    • Today we did our first full day body scans instead of just focusing on the sensation around the nostrils while breathing. Start at the top of the head with a 1 inch diameter circle, scan the scalp, then each part of the face, the throat, the arms, the chest and abdomen, the back and the legs and then repeat. Simply observe your sensations the whole time and if you can’t feel a particular area, stop for a minute and focus on it intently. If you feel something or not, move on after this minute has passed and over time you will build your subtlety of awareness so that you have no blind spots. Regardless, understand these sensations are ever changing phenomena, not to be tied to, excited by or upset by
  • Days 5-6
    • Starting today, in the three one-hour group sittings we try not to move at all in order to practice strong self-discipline or adhitthana and improve our experiential understanding of impermanence or anitya
  • Day 7
    • Today we started scanning the body in bigger chunks as our awareness and subtlety of attention have improved (i.e. doing both limbs simultaneously rather than one at a time)
  • Day 8
    • As much as possible maintain meditation in all that you do. When you eat, eat but must also always be aware of respiration and bodily sensations
    • Working with and observing of sensations puts you in touch with the deepest parts of the mind, the root, where real and lasting changes can be made
  • Day 9
    • Once start feeling really subtle uniform sensations throughout the body, can do 2-3 free flow body scans before going back to 1-2 part-by-part scans. These free flow scans should feel as if someone poured water over your head and it’s running down your body. Once this practice becomes regular, you can start doing front to back and side to side ‘penetrating’ scans to start feeling the internal parts of the body. The teacher said that once you get this subtle form, the body may start to feel like it dissolves as you feel like there’s nothing solid
    • Then can scan the spinal cord for flow as well as trying to feel inside it as well
  • Day 10
    • Today is Metta Day. Noble Silence turned to ‘Noble Chatter’ after the 8-9am sit as we learned the Metta meditation technique or loving kindness meditation.
    • After finishing the regular meditation, first see if you have peace in body and mind. If not, do not do this meditation. Simply recognize your racing mind or whatever the case may be and wrap up. If you do feel quiet and peaceful, wish your self to find happiness, peacefulness, compassionate love and to be liberated from your own impurities. Then wish the same for all living beings. Then ask for forgiveness for what you have done, intentionally and unintentionally, knowingly and unknowingly. Then forgive others for doing the same. Finish by saying “I have no enemies, all are my friend.” Lastly, feel the flow of energy up and down the spinal cord.
    • Emanate this love and happiness from the heart to expand and fill the room and over time greater and greater spaces.
    • Do this at the end of every meditation but only if you really feel it
  • Additional info
    • They really emphasized the importance of doing a one hour sit in the morning and at night
    • Recommended meditating in the same place and time to build habits and good vibes in that spot
    • Join a meditation group as often as once per week
    • Simply observe every sensation without judging or reacting
    • Do 5 minutes of observing sensations and understanding Anitya upon rising and before falling asleep

 

The Timetable (minor changes on certain days)

  • 4am – wake up
  • 4:30-6:30am – meditate in the hall
  • 6:30-8:00am – breakfast and rest
  • 8:00-9:00 – group sit in hall
  • 9:00-11:00 – meditate in hall
  • 11:00am-1:00pm – lunch and rest
  • 1:00-2:30pm – meditate in hall
  • 2:30-3:30pm – group sit in hall
  • 3:30-5:00pm – meditate in hall
  • 5:00-6:00pm – light meal and rest
  • 6:00-7:00pm – group sit in hall
  • 7:00-8:30pm – Dharma Discourse
  • 8:30-9:00pm – group sit in hall
  • 9:00-9:30pm – Q&A with teachers if needed

 

 

My Learnings and Experience

  • Day 1
    • Extremely tough first day. Body is in a ton of pain and can’t get into a flow, mind is wandering and am asking myself “why am I here?” The pain comes from inflexibility and not being used to sitting cross legged for such extended periods of time. I feel it in my knees, hips and back more than anywhere else
    • The Dharma discourse at the end of the day saved me and was very reassuring. I’m doing this to see things as they are, to better understand myself, to make the mind an amazing tool rather than a terrible master, to eliminate misery as much as possible as well as other mental impurities
  • Day 2
    • Much better day and I got into a great flow for the 4:30-6:30 meditation
    • Have some different postures for when body hurts and when pain arises I say, “I see you, I accept you and I thank you for being an obstacle for me to overcome.” Helps deal with the pain for some time and makes it clear that this is something that must be faced and dealt with rather than “pushed away”
    • Afternoon was tough physically but fought through
    • Dharma Discourse – narrow down focus on nose to become more aware of the smallest subtleties. Simply observe and do not wish to change or feel any particular sensation
    • Trying to develop: Quiet mind. Slow mind. Aware mind. Non-reacting mind. Observing mind. Equanimious mind. Subtle mind. Focused mind
    • Being aware and focused on such subtleties as the breath passing the nostrils really quiets the mind and sharpens focus
  • Day 3
    • This is the best mental training possible. Focus, awareness, sharpness, disregard the noise, see things as they truly are and not what you want them to be
    • One’s mind really gets so sharp, still and focused over these days. The little voice in your head quiets down and you go from a couple minutes of flow and quiet and deep focus to much longer stretches. While your mind invariably wanders, you are quicker to catch it and bring it back to center and the present moment
    • When get into flow I start feeling my mind slow, with few thoughts and every breath, thought or movement is thoughtful and slow and mindful. Calmness and slowing down is vital for me as I love thinking, doing, reading, being productive, having ideas. Paradoxically, slowing down ends up speeding things up in the end as my motor is supercharged and ready, I avoid noise and distractions and my wells of creativity are filled. Combine slow and fast!
    • Focus on Anitya (impermanence), narrow down focus to just outer nostril and upper lip
    • These first three days we focused only on breathing and the sensations in and around the nose and upper lip (anapana meditation) to sharpen our focus and improve the minds’s ability to sense subtle sensations
    • Sila or proper moral conduct is the foundation of Vipassana and these first three days set the foundation
  • Day 4
    • We did some group chanting but mostly it is a recording of SN Goenka’s chanting that we listen to. Find chanting music and/or the Goenka recordings. There’s something to this chanting which is very powerful, bonding, healing and soothing
    • Subtlety of focus and awareness definitely increased, especially around nostrils
    • Physical discomfort pretty high but have my different positions I can rotate through
    • Vipassana = to observe things as they truly are, the truth from moment to moment while understanding the impermanence or anitya of everything.
    • 3 tenets introduced today – 1 hour adhitthana or strong self-discipline where you try not to move whatsoever, eyes closed at all times and sit with a straight back
    • I really want to abide but working through this pain will be difficult. Curious, scared and excited to find out
    • Sankhara = craving or aversion or reaction which arises in the body through blind spots, pain, etc
    • Simply staying equanimious for long periods of time allows old sankharas to arise and if you can simply observe rather than judge and react to them, these suppressed cravings, aversions, grudges, etc. will slowly weaken and disappear
    • Every day napping less and at night sleeping like a baby
    • Today flew by as I got into a nice flow
    • Vipassana allows one to objectively experience bodily sensations, not wanting or wishing for any particular feelings or to not feel others
    • One’s mental base or volition is most important. What one intends always comes to fruition or is manifested in some fashion. Intention. Intention. Intention.
    • Vipassana teaches one how to die as it teaches one how to truly live
    • Subtlety, impermanence, mental stillness and discipline are increasing every day
    • Amazing how blind spots open up and you can really feel a broad array of sensations like tingling, heat, cold, shots of electricity, numbness, etc. in parts of your body where you didn’t feel a thing just a couple days before
  • Day 5 (my 27th birthday…)
    • Starting today the three one-hour group sittings we try not to move at all in order to practice strong self-discipline or adhitthana, impermanence or anitya
    • By viewing sensations objectively we can change our habits of mind and eliminate the good/bad dichotomy, clinging, suffering, preferences, craving, etc.
    • My routine – wake up at 4, breathing and exercise for 10 minutes, meditate, slow breakfast, meditate until 11, slow lunch and nap, meditate until 5, snack and lie down, meditate until 7, Dharma Discourse until 8:30, meditate until 9 and pass out
    • Got through no move session with only one move which was a big breakthrough
    • Breath and sensations getting so slow, subtle, refined
    • Working through objectivity where I can push through the pain and tension a little more every day where it is just another sensation, as is every blissful sensation
    • The afternoon session absolutely broke me. Incredible pain, mind wandering, impatience. Like Chinese water torture. Just you and your thoughts for 100+ hours. Nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Mentally and physically just lost it. So hard to just observe sensations without reacting, body is in pain and couldn’t sit still and get into any sort of flow
    • The most important and meaningful things in life you have to do yourself. Nobody can walk the path for you
  • Day 6
    • You are training your mind to be equanimious, to observe all sensations, even pain and tension, as equal and merely observe and not react to them.
    • More than understanding intellectually, Vipassana helps you understand experientially how to observe and be aware and not simply react
    • Goenka has a lot of wisdom – find readings and discourses
    • Anitya, Anitya, Anitya – understand impermanence
    • What would the best version of Blas do? You know immediately and intuitively. Just follow through and do it
    • Laws of nature such that if can maintain equanimious mind for long periods, sankharas (cravings, reactions, aversions) will arise from unconscious and be eliminated at the root level by simply observing them
    • Had to be broken yesterday to deeper understand experientially the concepts of equanimious mind and Anitya
    • Finishing chant by Goenka – Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam (may all beings be happy)
  • Day 7
    • Wisdom is not learning new things, it is coming to understand, through experience, universal truths at ever deeper levels
    • 5 big enemies which keep from meditating – craving, aversion, drowsiness, doubt, hesitation
    • Today we started scanning the body in bigger chunks as our awareness and subtlety of attention have improved (i.e. doing both limbs simultaneously rather than one at a time)
    • I am “patiently and persistently, ardently and diligently” developing my equanimious mind which to me is a balanced, calm, slow, non-reacting, observing, curious mind with no aversions or cravings, recognizing all sensations, whether typically considered pleasurable or unpleasurable, as impermanent and the equanimious mind sees good and bad as false human constructs which bring misery. All sensations are changing phenomena – Anitya, Anitya, Anitya
    • Can ‘re-brand’ pain as throbbing, heat, inflammation, etc. By being equanimious to it, one can dive into pain, embrace it, observe it and you’ll find it isn’t nearly that bad and disappears occasionally. Was only able to take first steps into this but I now see and have experienced the path
    • I have realized I’m more tied to my body and health than I realized. How I feel, what I eat, etc. Be aware of this when overly concerned or when it brings misery.
    • When my mind drifts it tends to be towards the future and to things I’m excited about more than the past or mistakes. Natural I think but want to be even more present and perhaps crave things a little less. Being aware of this is first step
    • These 10 days are like a cleanse, a therapy, a mental training, a self-discovery, a self-discipline training, a mirror into oneself and more all in one. Attracts a fascinating group of people
    • I am discovering the value of knowing things at the experiential level vs. solely or at least mostly at the intellectual level. Of course I still want to combine learning from other’s major mistakes and successes as much as possible but experience so drives it home
    • When I get stressed and lose equanimity I rush things and don’t take enough time to think. I have seen this in sports, investing, making difficult decisions, eating, while meditating and more. It manifests itself in every area of life so set up hindrances, alerts and reminders to combat this
  • Day 8
    • As much as possible maintain meditation in all that you do. When you eat, eat but also always be aware of respiration and bodily sensations
    • Can slowly feel the habit patterns, the neural pathways, starting to change as I notice I can more quickly and nonjudgmentally and equanimiously observe my thoughts, cravings and aversions which lessens their power and slowly will reduce their frequency and magnitude as I come to deeper understand their impermanence
    • Level of equanimity is a good measuring stick for how far along the Dharma path you are
    • I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and am getting excited about the rest of my summer but am trying to balance it with being present and lessening cravings
    • Noble silence, no connectivity has been refreshing but ready to get back to real world soon
    • Definite burst of creativity though and energy increasing every day
    • Awareness and equanimity are the two wheels of Dhamma and they must be equally strong
    • Working with and observing sensations puts you in touch with the deepest parts of the mind, the root, where real and lasting changes can be made
  • Day 9
    • Find project to do with loved ones. Publish books, build things, learn things. This deepens and solidifies relationships and creates lasting memories and bonds. Will publish a cookbook with mamma, work on some investing and other business projects with papi, learn or do things with siblings…
    • I got to a really deep, peaceful, weird place with the internal penetration scan. Feeling buzzing energy inside very small internal parts of my body and feel like I can outline or 3D scan inside
    • The Dharma workers or volunteers are all incredible and have made this retreat special
    • Living in a community of strangers for 10 days with total trust and love is so unique
    • If I was worried or curious whether I had gotten soft post tennis I proved myself wrong throughout these 10 days but especially today. I got through one of the one-hour Adhittana self-discipline sittings without moving at all. Wouldn’t have thought this possible earlier on because of the pain in my hips, knees and back. Very proud and will have that accomplishment for life and can keep building off this base for longer and deeper sits. Nobody can walk the walk for you
    • Every day before bed or meals I would ask that it nourish my mind, body and soul and help me adapt and flourish. Sure enough it did. Keep up this short practice in day to day life
    • Vipassana is an art of life, helping to live a peaceful, harmonious, happy life. Positive or negative sensations are irrelevant. Simply observe and be aware of and act rather than judge and react. This mindset will help lessen the number of times when one is miserable and, if one does get worked up, it reduces the duration and magnitude
    • Vipassana gives us an internal lens which is so much more important than the external view nearly everyone employs. So important yet so neglected. The external view offers only a sliver of the whole truth but developing and being aware of one’s internal lens or feelings gives you a fuller, more complete and accurate view of truth. This vastly more important second angle helps us align with nature and make better decisions, be happier, more equanimious and more resilient.
  • Day 10
    • Today was Metta Day. This loving kindness meditation was really powerful. The ambiance of the hall totally changed and everyone left the hall with a big smile and a sense of peace. May be totally in my head but that was what I observed and experienced
    • Additional info at Dhamma.org

 

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Summary
  1. Peter Matthiessen recounts his travels to India, Nepal and the Himalayas and his spiritual and transformative journey along the way
Key Takeaways
  1. In India, human misery seems so pervasive that one can manage to only take in stray details
  2. Shakyamuni, The Buddha, never involved himself in efforts for social change for he believed the greatest contribution one could make to mankind was self-revelation
  3. The Buddhists he encountered all had the wonderful trait of doing their work for its own sake, to do it in the most beautiful way and to their best capacity, rather than for pay or the sake of the employer
  4. Ecstasy is identity with all existence
  5. To become one with whatever one does is true realization of the way
  6. One must go oneself to know the truth – others can’t travel or do any type of work for you in one’s spiritual quest for enlightenment
  7. Through meditation, he was able to transcend his ego and intuit truth immediately.
  8. Being calm regardless of circumstances is not fatalism but a deep trust in the universe in that things will work out
  9. It is better to be true than strong
  10. The point of meditation is to train the ability of letting go and to be wholly present in the eternal now
  11. It is meaningless to try to capture and hold onto experiences and things as one can never truly express reality
What I got out of it
  1. Vivid storytelling but honestly was a bit disappointed after having heard so much about it. However, looking back there are some gems and clear insight on meditation and enlightenment

Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das

Summary
  1. Really engaging book on the importance of mindfulness and meditation and the principal tenets and practices of Buddhism. About letting go of fixed persona and becoming awake, liberated, aware
Key Takeaways
  1. Enlightenment not about becoming divine, about becoming more fully human
    1. Eliminate ignorance, to be one with all things, to be present in the now
  2. Can only find fulfillment from within
  3. Truth is found by living truly – in your own authentic way
    1. “You become a Buddha by actualizing your own original innate nature. This nature is primordially pure. This is your true nature ,your natural mind. This innate Buddha-nature doesn’t need to achieve enlightenment because it is always already perfect, from the beginningless beginning. We only have to awaken to it. There is nothing more to seek or look for.”
    2. Buddha literally means awake. Awake from what? Awaken from the dreams of delusion, confusion and suffering. Awake to all that you are and all you can be. Awake to reality, to truth, to things just as they are.”
  4. Unconditional compassion and love is at the center of us all
  5. Waking up Buddha about letting go of fixed persona and becoming awake, liberated, aware
  6. Asking right questions more important than having the right answers
  7. We are all Buddhas with potential for enlightenment – spiritual living as well as conscious dying
  8. Cultivating spirituality and awareness a full time vocation – make every moment, action, thought sacred. Practice has to be integrated into our daily lives and culture
    1. “Intrinsic awareness is the common denominator of all sentient beings. Conscious living, contemplative self-awareness, is the means to becoming all that we are. Awareness is curative. Knowing ourselves and learning to let go is the method, the most skillful means. Spirituality is a matter of self-discovery, rather than of becoming something else.”
    2. Self-transformation implies self-transcendence
    3. Spiritual necessities – pray, meditate, be aware/stay awake, bow, practice yoga, feel, chant and sing, breathe and smile, relax/enjoy/laugh/play, create/envision, let go/forgive/accept, walk/exercise/move, work/serve/contribute, listen/learn/inquire, consider/reflect, cultivate oneself/enhance competencies, cultivate contentment, cultivate flexibility, cultivate friendship and collaboration, open up/expand/include, lighten up, dream, celebrate and appreciate, give thanks, evolve, love, share/give/receive, walk softly/live gently, expand/radiate/dissolve, simplify, surrender/trust, be born anew
  9. Can only find enlightenment and truth through your own experience
  10. Death was the Buddha’s primary guru – intensifies life and alleviates boredom, procrastination, sloth
    1. Come to terms with death by destroying ego and you shall live a full and happy life
  11. All about conscious living, self-transcendence and relinquishing control
  12. We all reap exactly what we sow, there are no accidents.
  13. Every single second is a (chance) for rebirth
  14. The self is simply not what we think it is. We are a self-fulfilling prophecy of what we think and believe. Often easy to see in others but very difficult to see in self (Galilean relativity)
  15. Better to know nothing than to know what isn’t so
  16. No eternal “I” – each of us is a process in motion
  17. Seeing through the antics of our monkey-like minds is liberating
  18. Honest investigation and inquiry are the most powerful tools for enlightenment
  19. Monkey-mind is a continuous stream of delusion – thoughts and concepts are delusions, awareness is wisdom
  20. Everything is seen through the filter of our personal concerns
  21. Self-denial (like self-absorption) simply a more subtle form of egotism
  22. Aim to see the Buddha in everyone
  23. Never bottle up emotions. Rather, recognize them, experience them and release them. “Ideally we should be able to be sensitive and aware enough not only to feel life fully but also to let it go.”
  24. Om Mani Pedme Hung – the jewel is in the lotus, the wisdom and compassion we all seek are inherently within us
  25. Stillness leads to clarity
  26. The 7 Points of Mind Training
  27. How we relate to things makes all the difference
  28. Learn from all, judge no one, be kind to all, say thank you
  29. All activities should be done with one intention
  30. Determine what / who pushes your buttons and dive deep into why
  31. Ability to maintain inner joy and larger perspective are signs of a mature mind
  32. “Enlightenment feels completely comfortable, at peace and at ease in every situation and every circumstance with a sense of true inner freedom, independent of both outer circumstances and internal emotions. This requires extraordinary self-knowledge and presence of mind. It means paying close attention to how you think and how you act, and it means making an ongoing commitment to searching inward for answers. Inward. Deeper. Beneath the surface of things, not just inside yourself.”
  33. Three reasons for dissatisfaction and unhappiness (Three Poisons or Three Fires) – ignorance of the truth (see things as we would like them to be rather than how they really are), attachment (possessed by possessions, jealousy, pride, attachments define compulsions), aversion (stems from ignorance of truth and attachments and resistance to change)
  34. There is nirvanic peace in things left just as they are. That is the innermost secret refuge. If you can reach this place within yourself, then you don’t have to do or undo anything. That’s the ultimate refuge, the ultimate practice of letting go – the art of allowing things to be as they are
  35. 4 Noble Truths – Dukkha (life involves suffering, changing circumstances, flawed nature of conditioned existence), tanha (incessant, never ending thirst or attachment which causes identification with what we crave and causes suffering, one word to end craving – wisdom), nirvana exists (inconceivable inner peace, cessation of craving and clinging, the end of suffering, liberation, ever lasting freedom, fulfillment and enlightenment itself; when we realize emptiness and perfect oneness with all, the fires of duality goes out, desirelessness means lacking nothing, enlightened people have preferences but are able to be in the world but not of it), there is a tried and true path that leads away from the dissatisfaction of conditioned existence towards nirvana
  36. 5 primary hindrances – craving, ill will, sloth and torpor (spiritual laziness), restlessness, doubt
  37. The eight fold path
    1. Wisdom training – right view, right intentions
    2. Ethics training – right speech, right action, right livelihood
    3. Meditation training – right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration
  38. Essence means knowing oneself and others, what is, how things work. Wisdom is seeing the truth nature of things. Wisdom is self-knowledge, Wisdom is truth manifested as clarity of vision. Wisdom sees that light and dark are inseparable and that shadows are also light
  39. “Think of what you want, and realize that all beings want and need the same things. They are just seeking it through different ways.” (love, trust, happiness, fulfillment, the world works by reciprocation!!)
  40. Tonglen – sending and taking practice – send all your love and take other people’s difficulties – helps increase empathy
  41. Right speech
    1. Speak kindly, gently and dearly
    2. Don’t lie, be open and truthful about who you are and how you feel
    3. Speak only to help others, listen more
    4. Don’t gossip or tell tales
    5. Don’t speak harshly – no one can make us angry if we don’t already have sparks of anger inside
    6. Mantras and chanting help you attain Buddha nature
    7. Mere words are weak translations of what we really mean to say
    8. Inner solitude and noble silence is a way to empty, cleanse, heal and renew the heart and mind. This is a voluntary way to start the process of simplification and personal downsizing. The peace will help you purify your perceptions and make presence of mind more acute, clear, spacious, and even luminous. Incredible satisfaction is available when you begin experiencing the timeless truth that less can be more; that the most elegant solution is often the simplest one. Set aside one day per week/month to escape all forms of communication, spend some time alone in nature, communing with yourself
  42. Right action
    1. Life is an art form and we are the creators (Toltec = life artist)
    2. “Right” behavior is helpful rather than hurtful
    3. We develop an attitude of cherishing life when we learn to yield, to give in, to let go and soften our hearts and souls
    4. The nongrasping heart is naturally open, accepting and able to say thank you for whatever is. It is the threshold of an unconditional way of being, the supreme spiritual value
    5. Don’t steal – only use what you need, live simply, don’t grasp
    6. Give what you can (money, prayer, support, empathy, time) to all
    7. Even the briefest experience of unconditional love can be transformational
    8. Tantric practice – imagine self and partner as deities (page 211)
    9. No personal hell exists but all have hellish thoughts and experiences
    10. Inner peace, light, enlightenment helps free others too
    11. Enlightenment requires two forms of merit – from virtuous acts and from wisdom, insight, awareness and understanding
    12. Virtuous living a boon to the entire world
    13. Craving – Is there anything or anyone you crave so much that it clouds your judgment or vision?
    14. Desire only begets more desire. Desirelessness is nirvanic peace
    15. Perform random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty
    16. Must try to give what others truly need and not what easiest for us to give
    17. Meditations on Right Action (pg 228)
  43. Right Livelihood
    1. Work is love made visible
    2. Real work involves putting one’s beliefs into actions
    3. Right livelihood helps us make a life and not just a living
    4. Always do the right thing but don’t expect notice or praise
    5. Simplicity, streamlining, downsizing, lives/things key to happy life
    6. The value of anything is always the value we vest in it
    7. Happiness Quotient – balance between what we have and what we want
      1. Contentment is true wealth, wealthy is he who enjoys what he has
      2. Right livelihood is work that develops us as we develop it
    8. True vocation is knowing self and being self
    9. Meditation includes right effort, mindfulness and concentration which leads to mental discipline
    10. Awareness is the common denominator of all sentient beings. meditation is the most direct and effective way to cultivate that innate awareness; it is the essential ingredient on the path to awakening the Buddha within. We meditate in order to purify and discipline our minds
    11. Thought/intellect good servants, great tools but poor masters
      1. A disciplined mind brings happiness
    12. 4 things conducive to happiness – to be skilled, efficient, energetic, earnest and learned in whatever profession one has; to conscientiously protect one’s income and family’s means of support; to have virtuous, trustworthy and faithful friends and spiritual aspirations; to be content and to live within one’s means
    13. The whole thrust of mind-training is to be able to become naturally more loving and compassionate without expecting or hoping for anything in return
  44. Right Effort
    1. The 4 Great Efforts
      1. The effort to avoid any new unwholesome, negative thoughts or actions
      2. The effort to overcome any existing unwholesome thoughts or actions
      3. The effort to develop only good and wholesome thoughts and lead an enlightened life (generosity, virtue, patience, effort, meditation, wisdom)
      4. The effort to maintain the goodness that already exists
    2. The sole incentive to continue meditation is the confidence and inner conviction that develops though one’s own authentic experience. Meditation is not merely a program of mental gymnastics. In the art of meditation, simplicity is the key: the simple necessity of unburdening oneself of all excess baggage, and turning the searchlight inward. For everything is available within our own intangible spiritual core
    3. Trained, dynamic inner life required for effective external existence
    4. Balance between effort and effortlessness is the essence of impeccable effort and self mastery
    5. Renunciation of compulsive preoccupations and intense emotional attachments is vital
      1. “If we get even the smallest glimpse of liberation and what it means to experience freedom from want, we see where our happiness truly lies. This is the arising of inner certainty. When that occurs, we begin to renounce and give up the unfulfilling thoughts and behaviors that create negative karma. The heart of renunciation implies allowing rather than controlling.”
    6. You truly do get back far more than you give
    7. 4 Divine abodes – loving kindness and friendliness (metta); compassion and empathy, joy and rejoicing, equanimity and peace of mind
  45. Right Mindfulness
    1. Mastery of mind comes from constant awareness of thoughts and actions
    2. Simple, conscious presence of the now
    3. Every moment a miracle and when you realize that, all life becomes a meditation
    4. Knowing things as they are, as they function is enlightened wakefulness
    5. Prefer quick mediations 25x per day over 1 long session
    6. As we practice meditation, we peel away layers of our persona
    7. Train self by embracing and breathing in things you fear – simply be present, fully there, without judgment or prejudice, with whatever occurs; see difficult circumstances or happenings as learning experiences; enjoy the spectacle and watch the show as if you’re an outside observer, above the system
    8. Must prepare for death bardo – remembering the inevitability of our own mortality and impermanence of all things can be the most liberating of meditations
    9. Contemplating mortality helps us focus and prioritize – the tenuousness of life helps us to be totally awake in the present moment
    10. Dream yoga can have many great real world benefits –
    11. Pure mindfulness is relaxed, open, lucid moment to moment, present awareness. It is like a bright mirror: nonclinging, nongrasping, nonaversive, nonreactive, undistorting. It is a skill which can be learned like any other
    12. Through meditation we can enter directly into more intimate, immediate engagement with our experiences in a way that reflects simplicity and a deeper, more authentic connection to life. This is not just about being more consciously alive. It’s about being itself
    13. 4 Foundations of mediation – being aware of our bodies, aware of our feelings and emotions, aware of our thoughts and aware of events as they occur, moment by moment
    14. Paying attention and the ability to really be present pays off in so many ways, giving us enhanced satisfaction, broader vision, greater mastery and effectiveness in everything we do
    15. Meditation gives you so much mental clarity and spaciousness that it actually adds time to the day. We become more effective, more relaxed as we can more effectively deal with our feelings and develop our emotional intelligence. Meditation allows us to be more in touch with our feelings without being driven or controlled by them
    16. A mirror doesn’t pick and choose what it reflects. In this way, our natural state of mind is complete lucid awareness, being able to see things as they are, with total clarity
  46. Right Concentration
    1. Right concentration implies a unification of spiritual intentionality, focus, mental discipline, energy and attention. In right concentration, we skillfully collect and harness all of our energy so that every part of our being is integrated and focused, working together toward our goal of enlightenment. Once you have arrived at this point, concentration in this sense is not forced, restricted, or fixated but instead rests naturally where it is placed
    2. 5 T’s of Concentration – taming, training, testing, transforming, transcendence
    3. Concentration training – breath counting, awareness of breath (without counting), walking meditation, walking-breathing-synchronization meditation, standing and walking backward meditation, chewing meditation
    4. A good meditation session simply a microcosm of a well lived life (fractal!)
    5. Investigation/inquiry central to enlightenment
    6. Metaphysical fitness as important as physical fitness
    7. Concentration helps us love and be grateful for every moment without changing anything
    8. Rushen – analytical contemplations that employ the rational powers of the mind, use the well-honed, focused mind like a sharp tool to penetrate further into reality. This special self-inquiry helps us recognize the essential nature of mind. Helps us to discern the difference between what we seem to be and think ourselves to be, and our original nature, what we really are. Who or what is experiencing my present experience? Where is the experiencer, the perceiver? What is the essence or nature of this mind? Does it have a shape or form? A color? A size or weight? Who is experiencing your experience right now? And then let go of thinking. See what comes up. Sense directly
    9. Five different meditations – surround self or imagine water, fire, earth, air and space
    10. Candle meditation – pg 368
    11. Buddha light meditation – pg 369
    12. Why compare?
  47. Great reading list provided on pg 397
What I got out of it
  1. Thought this was a very actionable, interesting and profound book which helps show the benefits of mindfulness and meditation training for all aspects of your life. Highly recommend

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Summary
  1. Beautifully written book which strongly advocates for mindfulness in everything we do – from washing our hands to how we interact with others. Thich Nhat Hanh uses beautiful examples from both Jesus’ and Buddha’s lives to reinforce his points.
Key Takeaways
  1. Reality is free from all notions and it is our duty to transcend words and concepts and be able to encounter reality
    1. “When our beliefs are based on our own direct experience of reality and not on notions offered by others, no one can remove these beliefs from us.”
    2. “Things cannot be described by concepts and words. They can only be encountered by direct experience.”
  2. Avoid attachment to present views
  3. Meditation – stopping, calming, looking deeply
  4. Dialogue and deep listening is vital – must first have peace within before can reach deeper levels or help others
  5. Buddhists aim to be mindful in every moment. Conscious breathing helps with this practice (mindful walking, eating, cleaning, reading, breathing, etc.)
  6. Most precious gifts we can offer others is our presence
  7. Our true home is in the present moment
  8. Being fully aware and present gives you a sense of gratitude
  9. Aim to be like Buddha and Christ where your life becomes your teaching, your sermon in action
  10. Living dharma – mindfulness manifested in daily life
  11. Can’t have true love without understanding and can’t understand without true love
  12. Must begin with self – aim to live as Buddha and Jesus lived
  13. Anger is hell
  14. Our enemy is not the other person, no matter what they have done
  15. Make your life prayer in action
  16. Can come to love our enemy only by understanding him
  17. Whatever happens to the body, happens to the mind and vice versa
  18. People today tend to lack the art of deep/mindful speaking and listening though we have more means of communication than ever before
  19. Mindful breathing – ability to be aware of and manage emotions. Being able to accurately and deeply know what we are sensing allows us to deal with it early and in a positive way before it manifests as anger, frustration, etc. “If we can learn ways to touch the peace, joy and happiness that are already there, we will become healthy and strong, and a resource for others.”
  20. Only compassion and understanding on a collective level can liberate us
  21. Practice the essence over the form
  22. Don’t allow notions or concepts be obstacles to development or realizing ultimate reality
  23. A life that is too comfortable makes spiritual growth more difficult
  24. One day of mindfulness per week is essential. Set aside any day to spend with loved ones, turn away from work/email/distractions and just be
  25. Best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment
  26. The concept of interbeing (non-self) is fascinating – everything is connected and made of elements from everything else – “a flower is made of all non-flower elements.”
    1. “To take good care of yourself and to take good care of living beings and the environment is the best way to love God. This love is possible when there is the understanding that you are not separate from other beings or the environment. This understanding cannot be merely intellectual. It must be experiential, the insight gained by deep touching and deep looking in a daily life or prayer, contemplation and meditation.”
  27. The Five Wonderful Precepts of Buddhism – reverence for life, generosity, responsible sexual behavior, speaking and listening deeply and ingesting only wholesome substances
  28. The Fourth Precept – not telling the truth, exaggerating, forked tongue (saying two different things to different people/parties), filthy language
  29. Be an island unto yourself – being able to find refuge wherever you are just by turning inwards is one of the most powerful tools one can possess
  30. “God made humans so that humans can become God.”
  31. “The ultimate dimension is a state of coolness, peace and joy. It is not a state to be attained after you “die.” You can touch the ultimate dimension right now by breathing, walking and drinking your tea in mindfulness.”
  32. “When we touch one thing with deep awareness, we touch everything.”
What I got out of it
  1. Mindfulness in all that we do and interbeing (everything is interconnected and impermanent which leads to the conclusion that we are all one) are two amazing concepts which should be central to one’s daily routine, life, meditation practice

The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Summary
  1. Mukunda experiences a miraculous recovery at a young age and after that is set on pursuing a spiritual life. This book walks us through that journey, what he learned from his master Sri Yukteswar, the benefits of meditation/yoga and striving to attain enlightenment. Beautifully written and inspiring book
Key Takeaways
  1. Born in 1893 near the Himalayas
  2. Since childhood his family followed a guru. He was miraculously saved by this guru when he had a fatal illness and after that he sought to be a yogi. He later learned this same guru had spiritually baptized him and predicted he would book a yogi
  3. Plants have feelings and respond to how we treat them
  4. True love has no boundaries, no conditions and does not change
  5. The wise treat all as equals as they see the striking similarity amongst all men
  6. Staring fear in the face dampens or removes that fear
  7. Be comfortable with your money and situation. Extravagance will only bring discomfort
  8. Speaks about his guru’s influence on him, how he worked in the spiritual realm and how much he taught him
  9. The unfailing composure of a saint is impressive beyond any sermon 
  10. What one cannot find from within one will never find from the outside
  11. Wrath springs only from thwarted desires
  12. The more bliss one feels during meditation the closer one is to God. Desire for material things is endless but this bliss would never be given up. Outward longings drive us from bliss within and these false pleasures only impersonate true happiness
  13. Tells of the incredible works his master confers
  14. Following yogic principles does not require one to be a recluse. It can actually enhance performance, relationships, happiness and more by helping you focus on what’s important, removing fleeting pleasures and attains mental detachment from things and results
  15. Complete unity with spirit and total awareness is the goal
  16. Kriya yoga helps unite the body, mind and spirit and accelerates this process through deep breathing, focus and mantras
  17. Devil = maya = illusions
  18. Yogananda was told early on in his journey that his purpose was to bring kriya yoga and his master’s other teachings to the west
  19. Humility is god-like
  20. Spent time in America in 1920 to spread the teachings of his master and established the Self Realization Fellowship
  21. Describes some of his time with Mother Theresa and Gandhi
  22. Speaks to the importance of forgiveness, universal and uncompromising love and nonviolence in Gandhi’s and everyone’s life
What I got out of it
  1. Very powerful book which inspires one to reach for one’s full spiritual potential. The descriptions of some of his, his master’s and other spiritual sage’s feats are hard to believe but point to a higher plane that is available to everyone if one is devoted to reaching it

The Art of Smart Thinking by James Hardt

Summary
  1. The Biocybernaut institute helps you increase your alpha waves through highly specialized neurofeedback training. Raising alpha waves and suppressing beta waves (the rational, thinking mind) helps increase creativity, IQ, meditation, helps emotional healing and a lot more
Key Takeaways
  1. Most people not accessing their alpha/theta waves which are associated with creativity, joy and higher intelligence
  2. Anxiety negatively affects learning, creativity and memory – alpha and anxiety negatively correlated
  3. Don’t deny or repress emotions. They will only build up and burst out at a later point
  4. Being able to turn brain off leads to more alpha which leads to more creativity and happiness
    1. Theta rarer but can lead to access to Akashic records (collective unconscious)
  5. Edison was famous for his power naps which helped him boost alpha/theta state (tap Akashic records?)
  6. Oxygenating brain helps greatly with creativity. Dr. NakaMats who has over 3,000 patents including the floppy disk, hard disk and digital watch coined the term “brain bubble” where he oxygenated his brain to a great extent and then held his breathe underwater until he simply couldn’t do it anymore. This allows more blood flow to the brain overtime as the carotid arteries that feed your brain expand over time (mammalian diving response increases blood flow to the brain and every other organ as well)
  7. Ego dissolution is the goal of mystical practices and helps lay the foundation for mystical experiences
  8. Neurofeedback one of the best ways to train the brain to reach alpha/theta states. When the brain can become the subject of its focus it has tremendous effects on your ability to reach these states as it creates a virtuous feedback loop
  9. Leaders must lead through a premise of love, never punishment
  10. Mystical/intuitive knowing closer to truth than rational knowing
  11. Different brain waves
    1. Delta- slowest, mainly deep sleep
    2. Theta – creativity, problem solving, Akashic
    3. Alpha – relaxed/effortless alertness, creativity, higher IQ
    4. Beta – effortful thinking, where most people are most of the time
    5. Gamma – fastest, linked to meditation, “eureka” moments
  12. Being able to alternate, switch on/off waves leads to a successful, blissful life as you can rise to whatever occasion you come up against
  13. Non thinking doesn’t mean non awareness.
  14. Higher alpha often leads to ego dissolution and the ego will fight back vehemently to remain in control
    1. Five Hindrances – doubt, drowsiness, distractibility (worry), boredom, aversion (any form of ill will) and forgetfulness
  15. People can train brain waves which leads to control of their central nervous system which has many physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual benefits
  16. Reduce stressors (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, garlic, onions, lack of sleep, worry/anxiety/fear, anger/hostility, sadness/depression, apathy) helps raise alpha and suppress beta
  17. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper
  18. Deep forgiveness vital to overcome anger, depression, fear and reach a higher consciousness
    1. Determine you will forgive self/others, bring to mind the person or situation, create a loving space in your heart, feel the hurt and pain and make it real again, come back to the present and become aware of something good that came from the event, based on this good change your attitude about the past event, forgive the other person and yourself using the alpha tones, see the event again but from the other person’s eyes, feel love in your heart for the other person
  19. Ways to increase alpha – avoid regular exposure to violent shows, TV, video games; meditate, pray (see feelings of flying and floating, feelings of light, lightness and vast space, lavender scents, slow breathing, focus on breathe, slow breathing exercises)
  20. One Biocybernaut feedback session equivalent to 20-40 years of zen training
  21. Don’t let the brain overuse the same neural pathways/mental habits. Keep it guessing, keep learning and trying new things
  22. Youthful brain has a lot of alpha and is a great indicator of overall health
  23. Creative rooms – have a “static” room where you can develop ideas and be calm (plants, rocks, running water) for a sense of peacefulness and alpha waves. Free association, churning over ideas at random and spitting out whatever comes to mind. “Dynamic” room is dark with black and white striped walls, leather furniture and special audio/video equipment. End with swimming pool and “bubble brain”
  24. The zone – nonrational, thoughtless, egoless state where time vanishes
  25. Aim to merge with any activity so completely you lose yourself in it
  26. People have an almost endless capacity to learn and remember things about themselves
  27. Every attachment is related to fear
  28. With training, awareness/consciousness continually expands
  29. Hindrances – attitudes, attachments, aversions, self conceptions and thought processes ingrained in us since childhood. Mood scales during training helps clear the awareness of these inner obstacles which are often subconscious
  30. 80% of illnesses/addictions stem from dysfunctional central nervous system stress response
  31. Alpha spawns insights
  32. Pride (ego) destroys alpha
  33. Neurofeedback democratizes spiritual experiences
  34. Shared feedback almost a merging of people and can be very powerful
  35. “There is nothing more powerful and empowering than honoring your true nature, standing in your truth, becoming your authentic self. When you uncover and express your authentic self, you allow your inner light to shine. You are in touch with your higher guidance, truth and wisdom and can live your highest purpose with joyful creativity.”
What I got out of it
  1. People rely on clear, immediate feedback in any area of their life in order to improve. Meditation is no different. The Biocybernaut institute has some proprietary technology to help you get decades worth of meditation work done in a week through their feedback systems, mood scales and other processes. Really interesting read and does a good job highlighting human potential (note – a lot of it is pretty out there and “woo woo”)