30. 10% Happier – Chapter 6 Part 2

First of all, pretty crazy that I have made it to 30 blog posts – gold star for me.

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

The rest of Chapter Six was more of Harris educating himself on meditation and mindfulness.

  • Two job opportunities came up, and the first thing he did was come up with all of the worst case scenarios.
    • As I have said before, this is my go-to response to uncertainty. But I am learning the need to combat that.
  • He had a job interview for these two new roles, but was given no certainty about the outcome. Harris saw this uncertainty as a good chance to practice mindfulness. He was still struggling with the idea of not focusing fully on his uncertainties, because he still had a belief that looking at a problem from every angle could give him some kind of edge. At the same time, he also realised that continued worrying could give him a mental breakdown
  • Harris Booked himself into a 3 day Buddhist conference
    • Mark Epstein was one of the speakers
    • Talked about the power of negative thinking, that examining the negative thoughts and being mindful of them could be liberating
    • Another of the speakers Tara Brach spoke about a technique of Mindfulness with the acronym RAIN:
      • R: Recognise
      • A: Allow
      • I: Investigate
      • N: Non-identification
    • So for Harris’ job offer situation, recognize meant to acknowledge his feelings and allow meant to let it be, or let it go. Investigate was to think about how the feelings are affecting the body e.g. hot face, fast beating heart, sweat. Lastly, non-identification meant realising that the feelings of fear or worry were passing states of mind, not forever parts of personality.
  • He met again with Mark Epstein and he talked about the idea of responding (after being mindful), not reacting (mindlessness) to situations and people.
  • Epstein suggested that he went on a ten-day silent retreat to practice meditation, because mindfulness was a skill that could improve with time. He recommended that he went to a retreat with a teacher called Joseph Goldstein (this retreat was so popular that they had a lottery system).
  • Around the same time he found out he hadn’t got one of the two jobs, and that it was uncertain when he would find out about the second job.

So this chapter finishes with the scenario where Harris has got into the 10 day retreat, and is in a state of uncertainty with his future job prospects (he calls it purgatory).

I am really enjoying reading this book because I find that certain things I am thinking and discovering are very similar to the journey that Harris is on. My blog post 29 fits in really well with the ideas that Harris is grappling with at this part of the book. Sometimes it is just refreshing and calming to know that someone else out there is going through similar things as you.

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25. 10% Recap – Chapter Six- Meditation

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

In this chapter, Harris explores meditation.

Epstein was a proponent of meditation for taming the mind but Harris had no intention of doing that:

  • He had experience with kids yoga, forced upon him by parents
  • He pretty much imagined meditation to be every cliché of eastern philosophy rolled into one – bells, ‘ommmm’ hum noises, cross-legged positions and so on
  • He considered himself to have a low attention span

His therapist suggested he read book about the medical benefits of meditation. He found that it:

  • Decrease stress
  • Lower blood pressure

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23. 10% Recap + other random thoughts about life

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

So Chapter Five… (if anyone is actually reading this, bear in mind these are just my random thoughts/questions/ideas as I read this chapter)

  • Harris now began reading a book by a guy called Dr. Mark Epstein, a buddhist and psychiatrist.
  • According to this author, a lot of the ideas of these other self-help gurus actually came from the teaching of Buddha and ancient buddhist principles.

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21. Good Things About Today

Yesterday was such a right off. I got this weird 24 hour flu/tummy bug/man flu and it hit me for six. I pretty much slept all day/night and was awake for about four hours in total.

Today I have had a much more productive day.

Some good things about today were:

  • Getting some positive words from the mother in law
  • A great sporting result!
  • Great discount on some clothes we needed to buy the girls
  • Found another cool location for outside meditation (down by a river but in close walking distance)
  • Fun reading time with my daughter
  • Succeeded in making corn fritters for the first time ever – many disasters in the past
  • Did my exercise even though I didn’t feel like it

15. Focus going forward

It was pointed out to me today that it is important to have a balance between Body, Mind, Spirit and Family. While I have made some good improvements in terms of Mind, Spirit and Family, it is important that I take the focus on improving my body (health) seriously.

Also, as someone who has got used to being inside most of the time, I need to get out and about more. That means I do need to find a spot outside where I can have a go at meditating (even though I came up with lots of reasons why I thought I didn’t need to hahaha). My mum talks a lot about how being outside gives you Vitamin D, so being outside will benefit me in that way, as well as getting me fit AND getting me out of the house for a bit.

Goals for this week:

  • Spirit – Meditate each day in a spot outside
  • Body – Exercise for 30-40 minutes each day and set up a daily exercise plan
  • Mind/Body/Spirit – Do four 20 minute yoga sessions
  • Body – Set a date for losing first 10 kgs – Achieved 🙂
  • Body – Make healthy food choices
  • Mind -Continue writing blog posts daily
  • Family – Enjoy the time I get with my family

So one of my goals is to lose 10 kgs. A realistic weight loss is (according to the internet) 0.5-1 kg per week, so I will aim for 10 kgs weight-loss in 10 weeks – so that is the 26th of May.

14. Goals Check Up

It is a fortnight since I made my goals, so lets see how I have been going:

Spirit:

  • Try meditation each day (either guided meditation through youtube, or outside) PASS
  • Find my own place to meditate that is outside the house I have decided I don’t want an outside meditation spot

Body:

  • 40 minutes exercise a day (e.g. 20 minute walk and 20 minutes cross trainer) PASS
  • Healthy food choices Not going so well with this one!

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13. 10% Happier – Chapter One

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

As I am reading the book: 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story I thought it would be a useful exercise to take some notes about what I am learning from it, or what I want to remember. You can buy this book here.

Chapter One: 

  • It is refreshing to read a book where it is clear the author has left their ego at the door. Harris is honest about his intentions, his embarrassments, his flaws
    • I admire someone who can be that honest. It is how I am trying to be these days. 
  • He talks about how he had a head full of mindlessness – packed full with worry, fear, ambition, drive, regret, embarrassment, and a lot more.
    • I can relate to this. I may not be a TV reporter/anchor, but I have worked in industries where I felt the pressure (from myself and others) to always be “on”, to be busy, and pushing forward, and looking for the next promotion and the next advancement. My mind was full but I was not being mindful. 

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