How do you spot a habit?

There are lots of blog posts around creating a habit.  Various pundits will tell you it takes 45 days, others 3 weeks and others a full year.  They break down the habit into bite-size chunks as if doing something completely new and foreign would easy if only the task small enough.  I have a completely different view

I think habits are forged when in difficult circumstances the tough choice is made.  When I used to run track in High School, I would throw up after each 800M race I would run.  Win or lose, my lunch would pour forth on the ground.  This was not a fun part of the experience for me.  However, it was as unstoppable as my desire to drink the cold Pepsi on the bus ride home after the meet was over.  Something happened to me over those years.  I formed the impression that running was worth it.  The only bite-size chunks in this habit forming activity were the processed bits from 4 hours before.

This morning I had to think of this as I ran into work.  I had a bad headache last night.  I  woke up in the middle of the night with splitting pain in the back of my neck.  I haven’t had a headache like this in probably 3+ years.  Yet, I wanted to run to work this AM.  No, I had to run to work this morning.  Headaches are so universal (I have met 2 people in my life who said they have never had a headache) let me generalize and say this:  when you can carry through on an activity with a headache, you know you’ve got a habit.  Let me know if you spot any habits this week.



The Medium – the Antidote to Increased ADHD?

I recently read this article in the NYT about Ev Williams new start-up post-Twitter, Medium.  I read a few of the articles they recommended to me based on my interests.  I found them useful, the right length and thought-provoking.  So much of what I see online is reduced to bite-sized chunks because of our ever shrinking attention span.  ADHD has risen 41% according to the NYT in the last decade.   Twitter feeds and Facebook posts aren’t helping.  However, if Medium takes off, perhaps the right balance between thoughtful writing and respecting our attention will be struck.

I’ve continued mindfulness practices leveraging a new app called, Headspace.  I highly recommend checking it out if you’d like to make progress with a daily practice of meditation or mindfulness.

For lucid dreaming, I’ve been able to practice meditation twice now with the same result – total dream collapse.  I am looking for a new dream task and when I have it, I will let you know.  If you’d like to see me try a dream experiment, just post a comment.  I welcome all ideas.  As strange as it might sound, with an infinite array of possible things to do in a lucid dream, it is hard to actually know which to try.

No Sugar, Please

Yesterday I had a cappuccino from my second-favorite place in the Bay Area.  Zoombie Runner is located on California Ave, in Palo Alto.  Though a running store, it has some of the best coffee you will ever have.  The barista is a former ultra-marathoner named Don.  Based on my conversations with him, I don’t think he has time to train anymore given the 90+ hour demands of running a small business.

He had mentioned to me one time that a really good cappuccino does not require sugar.  The flavors of the espresso mixed with the perfected micro foam top will provide exquisite flavor.  Yesterday, I decided to give it a try.

As I did, my thoughts wondered more broadly.  What if we cover up much of the taste in life with “sugars?”  What if life is best experienced without the superficial-feel-good toppings we often add without a second thought?

I recently attended a mindfulness class at Google, Search Inside Yourself.  We practiced a mindful lunch as part of the class.  Simply put, a mindful lunch is enjoyed in silence, with a noticeable pause in-between each shovel of food into the mouth.  After a few minutes, my appreciation was heightened for the healthy greens on my plate.  The green beans were crunchy and simply delicious with a hint of olive oil and sea salt.  The chard was crispy and subtely delicious.  The mac and cheese, on the otherhand, was overpowering with cream screaming for attention.  I hear you already!  My much loved Google ginger ale made with real sugar cane tasted like pure syrup.

I found that during the mindful time the healthy food was the best tasting.  However, when I ended the mindful silence and started engaging with my friend, the subtle tastes were lost and the once tasty chards seemed bland.  The green beans were “OK.”  The mac and cheese was delicious, especially when swished down with a swig of ginger ale.  Perhaps our attention is so focused anywhere but on our food that it takes these overpowering amounts of butter, cream, salt and fat to get our attention, at least a bit.  Perhaps slowing down, being mindful will be the foundation of a new diet fad.  If so, you heard it here first for the “Buddha’s Diet.”

On the dreaming front, I’ve had back to back days of lucid dreams.  Heperzine A and Galantamind are especially helpful in bringing about lucid dreams.  If you have tried lucid dream supplements, give them a shot.  Both can be found on Amazon.

Mindfulness and Lucid Dreaming

I am taking a class on Mindfulness at Google called Search Inside Yourself.  I’ve seen my lucid dreaming activity double since practicing 10 min a day mindfulness “sits.”  During these sits, I focus only on breath.  Sometimes I imagine a rainbow of colors, starting with red and working my way to violet, working its way down my body.  After 3 weeks of practice, I am convinced that mindfulness during the day and lucid dreaming at night go together.

Last night I was able to complete a dream task that I had wanted to for some time – meditating in a dream.  The original dream was not lucid, but very involved.  The moment of lucidity came when I was talking to a character in a dream about a dream.  I told the man in the dream (still not lucid) that I had a dream but couldn’t remember it.  He said, “No worry, find  Byzantine and mention 312, she will then be able to tell you the dream.  I thought it was quite odd that someone could tell me my dream with that information.  Then it dawned on me that I was actually in a dream.

I immediately took flight and soared around the room.  There were some stairs and I delighted in the fact I did not have to take them.  The staircase was spiral and I was floating in the middle.  Then I remembered my dream task – to practice a mindful meditation!  So, I sat in the lotus position in mid-air and started to float, or fall quite rapidly down to the ground.  I then focused on my breath.  I was somewhat surprised that I could actually feel my breath in my dream body.  I kept focus on that for a few seconds and then put my mind into a deeper meditation by closing my eyes.  As I did that, the dream world seem to collapse into my brain.  From the outside looking in, it might have looked like a genie being sucked back into its lamp.  The genie in this case was the dream world and my mind was the lamp. I lost consciousness briefly and then woke up.

It was exhilarating to have achieved a dream task (it always is).   Also, the dream task seemed quite meaningful.  The symbolism is interesting – the dream world fit into my mind, and I was “awakened” to that fact by the way the dream ended by my meditation.  It is as if I reached a new level of lucidity – the dream is truly just a product of my mind.  How much is this world, our waking world, the dream world of God?  Does God gain increased consciousness and thus presence and influence through individuals who awaken to the divine within?

Interesting topics for consideration.  Keep on pressing in – lucid dreaming opens a whole new world of exploration.  Keep the comments and questions coming…