Best way to exercise: Mind-body connection? Empty the mind? Grease the groove?

June 9, 2019

Which of these is the best way to exercise:

  1. Mind-body connection. Be mindful of the body while exercising. Where there is tightness, send mental commands to relax and let go.
  2. Empty the mind. Get the mind out of the movement and allow the body to move without interference from the mind.
  3. Grease the groove. Perform the movement over and over to master the movement. It doesn’t really matter what the mind thinks about.

Which way is best? I suspect each is best suited for certain exercises. While statically stretching it might be best to focus the mind on identifying tightness and then using the mind to command those tight muscles to relax. While doing a golf swing it might be best to empty the mind. While walking it probably doesn’t matter what the mind thinks about.

I hereby replace wasted hours each day with activities toward a new goal

May 11, 2019

After watching a wonderfully inspirational talk by Arnold Schwarzenegger, I reflected on how much time I spend each day on (what I deem to be) wasted activities. I was shocked when I added up the time that I spend watching TV, watching YouTube (which is essentially TV), and repeatedly checking news websites: 3 hours each day, oftentimes more. Eek! Is that how I want to spend my life, mindlessly watching TV and YouTube, and getting frustrated and stressed out by the news reports? No!

I hereby set a goal for myself. I hereby replace those 3 wasted hours each day with activities that bring me closer to my goal.

Goal: I want to perform the Olympic weightlifting snatch movement, lifting my body weight. This movement requires a great deal of mobility, strength, and speed. My mobility/flexibility is appallingly limited due to many years spent glued to a computer station. I have never really focused on speed, so I am starting at ground zero. As for strength, I’ve got a long way to go to lift my body weight.

I am pumped up. For a long time, I felt like I was drifting aimlessly in life. This goal now gives me direction and purpose in life.

Be like a 3-year-old child

May 3, 2019

Observe a 3-year-old child. He/she has a completely relaxed body and mind. No concerns, no responsibilities, no stresses. Every moment is new and fresh and explored with curiosity. Movement is free and flowing. Today while exercising I used my mind to put me into the mindset of a 3-year-old. Oh, my, what a wonderful, joyous exercise session.

What is a comfortable belt?

April 13, 2019

It is said that a comfortable belt is one that you don’t feel, and you are unaware of it. But that’s not the most comfortable belt. Like comfortable shoes, would you be completely unconscious of comfortable shoes? No. Something better than comfortable shoes are shoes that you know are comfortable.

So, in the same way, self-consciousness adds something to life. It is one thing to be happy, and not know it. It is another thing to be happy and know it.

It is like one’s voice in a shower room or bath tub has more resonance. That is why temples and cathedrals and resonating boxes for guitars and drums are created – to give this little quality of echo. For all echo is a certain kind of feedback which enables you to reflect upon what you’re doing and to know that you know.

So, one might say that ordinary people are Buddha’s, but they don’t know it. The Buddha is the one who knows he’s a Buddha.

Alan Watts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX4f5sGVP_U, at 8 minutes, 21 seconds.

Do you hear music when you read fine writing?

March 16, 2019

Every day for almost two years I would bring out a couple books — Nabokov short stories and Donald Hall “Essays after 80”. The intent was just to develop an ear for writing. I wasn’t reading for content, I was reading for ear. I would spend two hours each night on just a paragraph or two or three, and I would break it down. When I opened Nabokov’s short stories at random and started reading his sentences, my jaw dropped. I didn’t know the English language could do that. How is this guy doing that? It was so different, at such a higher level. I would dissect his paragraphs: Why did he put this word here, in this sentence and not there? Why did he use this transition from this paragraph to the next? Suppose I do it differently; it sounds worse – why? Why does it sound worse when I move this word? There are 6 words that mean the same thing, why did he choose that one? Let me try replacing it; oh, it sounds worse. I would do this repeatedly.  I picked Nabokov because his sentences and rhythm and musicality of writing was jaw-dropping. In every sentence. Every sentence is a 10 out of 10. How does this guy do it?  I started getting a weird experience after doing this for a year. I would read passages and I would hear music. I would hear the passages in my head, as music. The music was in perfect harmony. And then I would pick up a newspaper or some other stuff and I couldn’t read more than two sentences because it sounded like clashing; it was grating.

— Safi Bahcall, at time 33:30 in this podcast.

I need a reboot

February 26, 2019

When working on my computer, I often have many windows open at once: a Powerpoint document that I am working on, a Word document that I am reading, my work email system, my personal email system, a news web site, and others. That’s a lot of stuff to be juggling all day long. And I have the habit of leaving all those windows open day and night, 24×7. “I don’t want to miss the latest email or the latest news event” I think. At some point, however, my system gets so cluttered and performance degrades so much, I am forced to close everything, reboot, and start fresh. Ah, it is so wonderful to have a fresh, clear screen.

I feel that my mind is like my computer when the computer is at its most cluttered point: many different thoughts on all sorts of topics occupy my mind. Unfortunately, those thoughts don’t shut down when I go to sleep; I am constantly waking up and thinking.

My mind needs the equivalent of a computer reboot. Not sure how to do that, however.

Funny story

February 1, 2019

This gentleman knocks on his son’s door. “Jaime,” he says, “wake up!” Jaime answers, “I don’t want to get up, Papa.” The father shouts, “Get up, you have to go to school.” Jaime says, “I don’t want to go to school.” “Why not?” asks his father. “Three reasons,” says Jaime. “First, because it’s so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school.” And the father says, “Well, I’m going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it’s your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster.”

Awareness, by Anthony de Mello.

Football and the ancient Roman gladiator games

January 30, 2019

Excerpt of an interview on the HBO show Real Sports, January 2019:

Interviewer: “You go to a Princeton college football game and everyone is cheering in the stands. But almost all the [affluent] people we spoke to aren’t going to let their kids play football [due to the risk of brain injury].”

Boston University doctor brain concussion/CTE expert: “That does become a gladiator type situation. Go hurt yourself for my entertainment.”

The most effective way to change your inner world is to change your outer world

January 26, 2019

Question: What’s the fastest way to improve your inner world (confidence, self-image, inner dialog, etc.)?

Answer: Improve your outer world.

If you want to be more confident or effective, rather than relying on easily-defeated positive thinking and mental gymnastics, learn to run faster, lift more than your peers, or lose those last ten pounds. It’s measurable, it’s clear, and you can’t lie to yourself. It therefore works.

The separation of mind and body is false. They are intertwined. Start with the precision of changing physical reality and a domino effect with often take care of the internal.

— The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, page 467.

The Powerpoint slide is my canvas for expressing information

January 23, 2019

I treat each slide in a Powerpoint document as a canvas, like an artist’s canvas. Instead of placing artwork on the canvas, I place words, pictures, and drawings that will hopefully convey useful information to the viewer. By treating each slide as a canvas, I feel liberated to discard the rigid header-body format; I often set the layout to blank and then create to my heart’s delight.