Zen Strenmpf + Going Deeper

- - meditation, Thought

So this is a super short update.

I”m in the midst of launching my new fitness product LGN365.

If you wanna read the foreword, written by John Romaniello, check this out.

If you want to check out the product, go here: LGN365.com

However, one of the coolest things ever happened yesterday. My first article got featured on ZenHabits.net!

It’s titled Building Your Strength In The Present Moment. As many of you know, I’m getting deeper into meditation, the zen lifestyle, and mindfulness. And this leads me to my next point – albeit short. Read More

Mini-Update, Links and AWESOME Video

- - Thought

So, I don’t have a ton to say in this post other than a few things I wanted to share that’s happening in my 30-day experiment as well as a video my friend Jon turned me onto.

Cool Things Happening In JC’s Life, Internetz Edition

1. Today over coffee, my best friend made a comment that I wasn’t checking my phone – I hardly looked at it the whole time. In the past, he mentioned that I was pretty stuck to it, constantly checking messages, social media, and emails. In the back of my head, I was aware of this, for months even – but I couldn’t seem to hack the habit.

Since I’ve been meditating, I notice that I’m more present in any given moment, especially those I’m spending with others, than I was before meditation. He said he was intrigued by it, and my response actually, ummmm, surprised me.

I said something along the lines of “dude, I just want to take in as much of this moment as I possibly can. I don’t know when/if I’ll see you again, so this time is important to me.”

Reading that back to myself makes me feel all weird, but I like where this is going.

2. I’ve made the decision to seek out a meditation group here in Nashville. I believe this is the place I’m going to start: Nashville Zen Center. Another place I may try is actually a Buddhist Temple. I don’t know if this will last, but I want to try it out at least.

3. Here’s a neat article on ScienceDaily titled Meditation Reduces Loneliness. As some of you may know, one of the main reasons I do meditation is to reduce stress. Part of that is reducing inflammation. Here’s a really cool quote from the article:

Remarkably, the researchers said, MBSR also altered the genes and protein markers of inflammation, including the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) and a group of genes regulated by the transcription factor NF-kB. CRP is a potent risk factor for heart disease, and NF-kB is a molecular signal that activates inflammation.

So what does this mean? Who knows… but I hope scientists continue to look into the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, though I feel this stuff is a bit hard to quantify. Read More

Every. Damn. Day. + Meditation Challenge Check-In

- - meditation

Hey everyone. This is a completely random update. I had planned on doing this at the 15th of the month – sort of the midway point for the meditation challenge, but I just got the urge to write tonight. I’m actually sitting here in my towel, just getting out of the shower, and thinking about how thankful I am to be where I’m at in my life right now.

I wrote a post today at jcdfitness called Every. Damn. Day.  <– click that to read after you finish this one. Read More

Going Deeper – Starting the Meditation Challenge

- - meditation

What up, people?

Today is the 31st day of my simple meditations. I’m sitting in a Mariposa Bakery with my friend Andrew drinking coffee and working for the day.

I’ve been in Boston since July 21st and so far, the trip’s been a good one.

As I sit here, I’m in awe as I think about how my discipline has been tested the last month.

Sitting still is not easy, at least not for me as you might know from my last post.

However, I’ve learned a lot in this last month and I want to share a few things in case you want to join me in the 30-day challenge for the month of August. (yeah, this begins tomorrow)

The first thing I want to talk about is the concept of ‘triggers.’

I had a chat with Leo Babauta a few weeks ago when I was filming an interview for my soon-to-be-released fitness product titled LGN365: A Complete Body-Recomposition Course. LGN stands for ‘Look Great Naked’ but the image is a bit small to see it in the subtitle.

Here’s a sneak-peek of the cover art.

‘Triggers’ and how they can help you

Here’s something that will help you tremendously if you’re serious about creating this new habit of meditation (or any habit, for that matter). I didn’t even use triggers, but if I did, I think I would’ve gotten more out of my practice.

To put it simply, a trigger always precedes a habit. For a smoker, they usually have a trigger that makes them say ‘I need a cigarette.’ This could be (as Leo stated in the interview) his feeling of being full – it always prompted him to go outside and have a smoke.

If you set up a trigger, you will be much more likely to stick with your practice.

For me, now that I’m aware of these triggers, I’m going to simply sit and meditate after I finish my first cup of coffee.

In this case, my trigger is finishing my first cup of coffee.

This entire month, I was simply meditating at random times during the day. Heck, I even meditated on the train yesterday as an experiment. I found myself being able to ease out of the distractions, but the idea of people staring at me with my eyes closed was a bit unnerving.

Now that I’ve given you some info about triggers, I need to reflect a bit and share some things I’ve learned.

How my work’s been affected

I can’t say that I’m ‘cured’ in the sense that I no longer struggle with distractions or that I can work for hours on end without getting anxious, but I do notice a difference.

I’ve been working with a much deeper focus than before, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

For the month of June, and July, I’ve been working endlessly to finish my fitness course to be released in mid-August. I’ve spent a lot of time editing copy, editing video, conducting interviews, writing sales copy, coding sales pages, and working with the editor/designer I’ve hired to help me finish.

That’s the main reason I haven’t posted anything new at JCDFitness in a while. However, the dry spell will end soon – next week in fact.

But here’s the difference.

I am no longer freaked out about my work. Instead, I’m sitting down daily, with tasks I’ve laid out for myself, and just… going to work. Taking it one bite at a time, so to speak, and knocking it out.

I’ve not experienced this much joy with my work in a very long time.

I attribute this to the quieting of my mind on a daily basis.

I no longer see this work as being daunting and impossible. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.

Peace – I believe I’m on my way to finding it.

You need to prepare

All you really need is to just sit and count your breaths, but having some tools/reminders at first can help you.

Maintain consistency – a tool I recommend is Streaks (IOS app/Android app alternative). This is a calendar that allows you to track progress. The longer the streak, the less likely you are to break it…  :)

Find a  comfortable place to sit and relax. This doesn’t have to be the same place every day, but sticking to the same place and time daily can help you with adherence. Leo told me over a phone call once “all you have to do is get your butt on the pillow – everything’s easier once that happens.”

What he’s essentially saying is the hardest part you have to tackle is just starting. Much like many other things, it gets much easier after you start.

Use a timer – set a timer on your phone, or use a stop watch with a beeper. You want to make sure you hit 5-6 minutes when starting your meditation. This way, you’re not sitting there and thinking “sheesh, has it been 5 minutes yet? This JC guy is full of crap. Should I look at the time? etc etc”

You need to be forgiving – of yourself, and of others. It’s highly likely that you’re going to forget to meditate the first few days. That’s okay and not the end of the world. The most important part of this is consistency, so make sure to create a trigger (as mentioned above) so that you get into a daily habit.

You’ll also be interrupted at times – either you’ll get a call, or your spouse will walk in on you (awkward). Your dog might come sit in your lap. Be forgiving of the mishaps that come along. Don’t get all upset and bothered – just accept it, and continue. If you can’t continue at that moment, make a note in your phone or set a reminder to pick up later that day – maybe even before you hit the sack.

A few ways I combat this is by turning my phone on airplane mode. This way I can’t get any calls, but my timer will still function. Another thing I do, especially right now while I’m sharing a room with someone is I’ll either meditate before she gets up, or wait until she leaves for work.

When I’m home in Nashville, I don’t have to worry about this as I have my own room, etc. The point is I’m making this work, no matter what. I need positive change in my life, and I’m set to get it.

I Challenge You

Please join me in the 30-day challenge for my birthday month. I’ve already done my 30 days. If I can do it, everyone is capable of it. I’m one of the most ADD peeps you’re ever gonna meet.

I’m here for you – so if you have questions/need anything, just drop them in the comments. Also, if you wanna do some public accountability stuff, we can go to Twitter and create a #hashtag specific to our group. It really doesn’t matter to me – I’ll leave that up to you.

Finally – if you’ve having reservations, let me ask you something. Do you want to look back in a month saying:

‘I wish I’d have joined JC and his crew in the daily meditation experiment… I suppose I can always start tomorrow...’

My bet is that you don’t want to have regrets. I know I don’t. But here’s the reality. I’m only asking for 5 minutes of your day, not an hour, or even one day per week. I’m asking you for 5 minutes. If you have any remote interest in meditation or learning more about yourself, you owe this to yourself.

If you say “I don’t have 5 minutes,” then you need to assess your living situation and then be honest in saying that you’re lying to yourself.

So c’mon. Let’s do this – together. I’m in your corner.

If we don’t take action now, we’ll settle for nothing later.

Here’s to clarity and productivity.

JC Deen

 

SImply Begin and Continue… Random Thoughts + Birthday Month Meditation Challenge

- - meditation, Thought

Today is an impromptu update, but it’s my blog and I can write if I want to.

So the last time I rambled, I discussed what I’m learning about myself since beginning this whole meditation thing. Turns out I’m learning more than I thought and it seems daily I’m becoming more aware than the day before.

This is good. Real good.

Question: So why the half-nude shot above?  There are a few reasons, actually.

  1. The first one is that I’m just about finished with this damn fitness course I’ve been working on the last 6 months. This (or another similar photo) will likely be somewhere in the artwork for the cover design/promotional material.
  2. The next reason is because my hair looks great.
  3. The last reason is because while I may appear the same to those who see me regularly, I see something different. There’s something in my eyes I’ve never seen in an image of myself before. This is the first topic I want to discuss first. We’ll try to be brief

A Look Into My Eyes

One of the main reasons I’m practicing meditation is because I’m in a dire search of inner peace. For as long as I can remember, my mind has always raced 90 miles a minute. Looking back in school, even elementary, I was fairly high-strung. I can even recall some behaviors that are the classic signs of OCD, but I never thought much of it until revisiting those memories.

I remember being in kindergarten and having an obsession with washing my hands, turning the light on/off in my bedroom and this insatiable craving to count patterns in words and letters. Every time I read a word, I’d dissect how many letters it had and suddently group them in sets of 2′s or 3′s and find a pattern. Never could I not find one. This made me feel good.

There’s only one other person I’ve ever told about this and that was one of my best friends last week.

The funny thing is that I somehow just grew out of this neurotic behavior.

But when you’re growing up through grade school, you don’t understand being placed in rooms with other groups of kids to work on random projects while your peers did regular schoolwork.

Later in junior high and high school, I found myself in classes with kids older than I taking taking higher lever math courses. Before I’d graduated high school, I’d taken enough college-level courses to technically be done with my first semester of university.

Funny thing is college always bored me. I’ve dropped out twice and could never manage to sit still long enough. I’d eventually scrape the material, skip lectures and go ace the tests.

My mind was always racing.

So wtf am I getting at?

The truth is my mind never shuts off. I’ve had many friends and former lovers tell me they can see that while I remain calm and cool, they notice there’s always something going on in the background. It seems that no matter how focused I am or what I’m doing, they can see the wheels churning in my mind.

I’ve laid in bed with girls to hear the words “when you’re kissing me, does your mind stand still? Does it calm you?”

This has happened so much that I know it’s NOT them. It’s me.

Now, I’m not upset or ungrateful. I’m actually very grateful.

My life is a product of being unsatisfied with mediocrity. I woke up 3 years ago with the aim to change my stars and I can say with utmost confidence I’m doing just that.

But now, something is different.

When I look at that picture… when I look into my own eyes in the mirror, I see the hamster wheel slowing down.

I’m finding peace in the daily, menial tasks I participate in.

I’m slowly starting to realize that living in the moment is better than I’d ever imagined.

TL;DR Version:

I can feel my mind quieting and I’m getting way more out of meditation so far than I’d imagined.

It’s 7:30 a.m. and my flight leaves for Boston about 1:30 this afternoon.

I’ll be there for 16 days to hang out with my friends and to just get away for a while. Even though I’ll be in an unfamiliar place, I plan to keep up my daily meditations. At the end of the month, I plan to increase my meditation time slowly.

Since I’m doing about 5-6 minutes daily now, I’ll up it to 8 minutes the first week. The second week it will be 10 minutes. 3rd week 13 minutes and then the final 4 weeks will be 15 minutes.

The goal is to get to a solid 20 minutes daily for at least a month before I try to increase the time.

My Birthday Month Meditation Challenge

Since I started rambling here, I’ve been getting lots of questions on how to start meditation or if I think it’s beneficial for [insert your reason here].

The truth is, I’m no guru. I know nothing. All I know how to do is sit and count my breaths and I suck at that so far.

The interesting thing is that I can already feel a difference. Something in my brain is changing. I’m finding more clarity and the ability to focus is improving. This might be the cure for my ADD.

Instead of celebrating my birthday (August 4th) only, I always celebrate birthday month. I love that I’m in existence so much that I extend the celebration from 1 day to an entire month.

So here is what I’m asking from you. A birthday month present of sorts…

If you’re interested at all in meditation, join me in a 30 day experiment. All you need is 5 minutes daily and a written promise to yourself that you’ll do this. If you’re interested in learning more about yourself, set aside some time and do this.

I was chatting with Leo Babauta over the phone the other day about habits and how to create them. He said that the easiest thing you can do is set aside 5 minutes to do something. It doesn’t matter, just do it for 5 minutes. Starting is often the hardest part, but once you get going, it usually goes fairly well.

And I’m living proof. I fought this for so long until one day I was like “hey, if I think I ain’t have five minutes, I’m lying to myself.”

First let me clear some objections

  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t know how to start
  • I’m afraid I’ll get it wrong
  • it’s too hard

And this is my answer to all of these objections:

You’re making excuses. Stop it.

Everyone has 5 minutes per day to spare.

Starting is easy. All you have to do is get your but on the pillow (or wherever you want to sit and relax).

You can’t really do it wrong as there’s no right way to meditate. Just find a comfortable, quiet place to sit. Close your eyes, and then begin counting each breath. Count 1, 2, 3, 4 until your mind wanders. Sometimes I think about pizza, training, walking the dog, having sex in the bathroom, whatever. After you catch yourself in the thought of something other than your breath, refocus and begin counting again.

Set a timer for 5 minutes. When it goes off, you’re done for the day.

I agree that it can seem difficult. However, the benefits far outweigh the mental chaos.

Will you join me?

If so, I want you to do this.

Commit to only 5 minutes daily beginning August 1st (or you can start now).

Commit to keeping a journal and updating it daily or every few days. Write about everything you experience, how hard it is to focus on your breath, and whatever else you experience.

Drop a note in the comments if you have questions or if you’re ‘in’ as I’d like to know who’s doing this with me.

Remember. Meditation isn’t some daunting task meant only for those in some far off monastery. It’s for ordinary folks like you and I as well.

There’s only 2 things you must do…

Begin and Continue…