Mini-Update, Links and AWESOME Video

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

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

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

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…

15 Days of Meditation – What I’m Learning About Myself

The above photo is a couple of screenshots from my beloved iPhone. The left side is my home screen – bare and minimal, just like I like it. The most prominent app is the Streaks App (you will see the ’15’ in there which displays the daily streak I have going) from the App Store. On the right is a screenshot of a Streaks calendar I’m using to keep me in check, so to speak, when it comes to keeping up my daily meditation.

As you can see, the 16th is unchecked because I haven’t done my meditation yet today (it’s 7:27 a.m. as I’m typing this).

I will aim to keep this short, as my main goal of today’s post is  to share a few things I’ve learned, and some current struggles I’ve experienced with my meditation. All in all, it’s been a very positive, enriching experience – much more so than I believed it would be.

2 Subtle ‘Aha!’ Moments

I’ve been keeping a journal to document my meditations, feelings, what’s happening, and how I feel about it all. As I look back over the last week, I experienced a few things in different scenarios.

1st Aha! Moment

I was training a few of my clients last week. I had a few ladies back to back, and it was just another normal day of training, or so I believed. During the first session with Susan, we began chatting during her warm-up about the fitness industry in general, the bad name a lot of fitness pros have due to shady sales practices in commercial gyms, and the maniuplating of people’s minds to make a few bucks.

I’ve come to know Susan very well as I’ve trained her since February. I call her a friend actually. I’ll probably be lecturing to her office floor about the basic concepts of a sound diet and exercise plan in the coming month. As I was discussing topics, and ideas with her, we came around to the bad experiences she’s had in commercial gyms – mainly trainers overselling and under-delivering when it came to the actual training process.

After a few minutes she smiled and said “wow, I can tell you’re really passionate about this – you’re adamant about proper education and giving the most back to your people.”

She even said I ‘lit up’ when discussing how badly I hated how most commercial trainer coordinators conduct business… mainly the idea of funneling as many leads into the office, giving them the hard sell, and then assigning them to some trainer who just doesn’t mesh with the client.

Long story short, I put her through the session and I found myself feeling completely whole. I don’t recall focusing on anything other than her efforts, and progress. I pushed her past her supposed limits, made her better, and then told her how much better she’d gotten.

I was focused. She was getting results. All that mattered was that session. I knew nothing else.

Immediately after working with Susan, I had Brittney. Now, she is a relatively new client, but she’s come so far in just a few weeks – her motivation is high. I knew she’d be a good one after I interviewed her to train with me.

I had the same experience with this session… My focus was 100% on her efforts. I let everything go. I only looked at my phone to check rest periods. I kept close eye contact with her and ensured she did everything correctly.

I found myself experiencing deep feelings of joy as I coached her through strenuous movements. Pushing people past their supposed limits is my job – I’m used to this, actually. But that night was different.

I didn’t think much about this until I was in my car on the ride home.

I was still on high with these ‘feelings‘ but had no idea what was going on until I returned home to finish my journal entry for the day.

Then it hit me.

I was living purely in the NOW with no fear or worry about the future, or regrets of my past.

The great joy I was receiving as I coached these ladies was a product of letting go of everything and just focusing on them, the moment, and being content with what was going on.

No changing anything.

No attempt to control anything.

Just letting it be.

2nd Aha! Moment

So the second moment came a few days later. I recently ditched my commercial gym membership and joined a small local S&C facility to get my personal workouts in for the week. It has everything I need, no A/C, and is full of young athletes and regular Joe’s who are there to put in work.

Every time I walk in, there are guys sweating their asses off doing heavy squats, and conditioning work.

So I went in on Saturday for my bodybuilding training. It was back/biceps day and I was one of 3 guys in there. I normally listen to Pandora radio when I train, usually The Weeknd station, or some other hip hop. However, today’s reception wasn’t too hot, so I relied upon my iPod.

I decided to take a break from hip hop and put on some Rage Against The Machine (first album). The 2nd track, ‘Killing In The Name Of’ came on and I realized that I was again, ‘in the moment.’

All my fears, thoughts, worries, predispositions were so far away from me. All I could think about was bodybuilding, pulling the barbell to my chest, rinsing and repeating.

Again, I found great joy in being fully aware of the moment and how it made me feel, which is pretty spectacular in itself.

Here are some unedited excerpts from my journal last week:

Meditation has been really good for me, I think. I learned yesterday (12th) the importance of being in the moment.  Mainly this was after my meditation session when I was training Susan and Brittney.  I noticed myself completely wrapped up in their sessions and finding great joy in what I was doing.

Susan even said I ‘lit up’ when I was talking about the sales process and how many bad trainers there are – along with my passion to provide good information for all. (July 13th)

Today I decided to train. I did back/biceps from my brogramming. It was cool – when I’d first gotten started, I was listening to my usual TheWeeknd radio on Pandora. Once I got into my second movement (cable rows), I changed it to RATM and got lost in the moment during Killing in the Name Of by Rage Against The Machine. I actually started dancing without caring as I was getting ready for the heavy pulling. (July 14th)


So what am I learning about myself?

That’s a great question, and for now I ain’t got a real good answer in terms of knowing exactly what’s happening, but here are a few ideas…

Learning to Let Go
I find myself caring less, actually. I seem to be less affected by the small things that used to frustrate me. I’m finding that my concentration is improving when it comes to various tasks that used to beg for distraction.

I’m learning that Habits are what make you great, not merely ideas…
Fortunately I’ve been able to come in contact with some really great people. My life is changing in an incredible way as I make new friends in the fitness space. I’m even using a course created by Leo Babauta on building habits.

I’m always striving to do better, give more and produce lots of awesome. It wasn’t until this last month of keeping a daily habit of meditating at least 5 minutes, that I truly understood that the greatest changes we can make all begin with the tiniest habits.

Owen Cook said it really well (paraphrased): “While you’re sitting in front of the TV, I’m out practicing, and doing these menial little tasks, that make me better by 0.001% and this is why I succeed.” Originally taken from this lecture (even have the exact spot tagged).

I don’t particularly ‘like’ meditation – I like the benefits
So far, I can’t say I actually look forward to sitting in silence. There’s always something to be done. Always something to work on.

Sometimes, I just want to veg-out and play video games (something I’ve been doing lately too – probably deserves another post on that).

Sometimes, I don’t want to do anything.

However, I can now see the benefits of meditation manifesting in other areas of my life, and I’m happy to continue my journey.

I’m  finding it easier to get my work done – anxiety-free, actually. I even wrote some copy yesterday for my upcoming fitness course and it didn’t make me antsy like I thought it would. I actually enjoyed the process for once.

Frustrations and Practical Advice

The last thing I want to bring up is how my actual meditation process normally goes. I’m still a budding beginner when it comes to this, so please understand I’m just sharing with you what happens in my head.

I usually sit down and focus on the first 5 breaths. Then I fade. I start thinking about an article, or what I need to eat. I think about driving downtown for a meeting, or getting coffee later that week with Steve.

Then I refocus. Back to center. Back to the breaths.

5-6 more counts, and I’m sidetracked again.

I mostly find my mind wandering about sex, though. If there’s anything that engulfs my mind more than anything at random times throughout the day (and not just meditation), it’s sex. It also doesn’t matter how much of it I’m getting at the time either. It can be once per week, or 3 times per day, and I still find my mind constantly flooded with random thoughts about it – mostly neutral.

I even wake up in the middle of the night from vivid dreams of previous sexual experiences and more recent love affairs.

Male animal.

So why’d I tell you about my random thoughts?

Because I want you to know that if you begin the practice of meditation, you will battle them. You will struggle. You will think you’re not getting anywhere.

However, someone wise shared this tidbit of knowledge in the comments section of the last post:

There are only two rules for meditation: begin and continue. Keep in mind, there are no failures in meditation. It’s a mistake to consider the practice meditation in terms of success and failure.

I’m slowly learning that to begin and continue is all that really ever matters, in anything. Start and keep going. Don’t let the discomfort or lack of understanding deter you if you want something bad enough.

I’ve rambled long enough. I stayed out drinking last night, went to bed at 1:30 a.m. and awoke at 5:30 a.m. from some very vivid dreams again. I never get up this early, but if I’m up, I may as well get some work done.

thank you for reading.