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Getting better "blog"



  • marcitkomarcitko Veteran
    edited July 2023

    Yesterday we had the biggest storm in several decades. I was just returning home from running and had to sprint home while avoiding falling trees and brick parts flying around. I don't remember the last time I feared for my life in this way. (I think it was while hiking/semi-climbing several years ago in inhospitable terrain). Happy that I did not get hurt. Sadly, 2 people died and 60 were injured. I seem to be an old geezer already, since I often think: "This kind of weather did not happen when I was young!" :)

    Yesterday I restarted the semi-structured journaling in the evenings. It is excellent - it reconnects me viscerally to a positive, focused, and determined part of myself. I will keep going. I need to buy a large thick notebook in order to be able to write 2 A4 pages each day. An added benefit is that it puts me in a better state of mind so sleep is better and the thoughts in the morning are better.

    Today I start a 30 day challenge, the main point being to practice consistency, whatever the mental "weather", "motivation", etc.:

    • exercise every single day for 30 days, even if its for just a bit. Here, there are no excuses except if I am ill or injured (and even then I can do something light or that does not pertain to the injury).
    • Journal 2 A4 pages every single evening
    • Start the "world's slowest cigarette" taper. Starting from 23, one cigarette less every second day. When I lower it by 5 or 10 (will see how it goes), I'll slow down even more.

    With all three, I must be prepared that some days I will not feel like doing anything or will actively "suffer" by doing the activities. However, then I just need to get on with it, quit complaining, and trust the process. Also, not every activity need be executed perfectly/well, some days its fine to just get it done.

    If I am 100% successful I get to treat myself to some nice astronomical equipment or something else that brings me joy! :)

    Just do it. Every little bit (positive action) helps and compounds.

  • "Stay hard bro"!
    Like Goggins would say 💪🏻
    I did an epic 15km walk and I am on day 5 of my diet.

    I will buy myself a notebook today to start journaling.

    Thanks for spreading the motivation!🦵🏻💪🏻

  • That's amazing @Kotishka! Keep us posted on your progress and any obstacles, I can use every ounce of inspiration too.
    Feel free to journal in this thread - and anybody else too - should you so be inspired.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I did a meatless minestrone soup day which I haven't done for a long while. I'll eat meat again tomorrow but at least took one day off. I like the soup too added a lot of seasoning/spices. Soup is not from scratch, but spices and sautéed onion, bell pepper, garlic added.

  • Yesterday I had dinner - twice! :open_mouth: Yet, somehow, miraculously, I lost weight and am close to the current minimum at 88.1kgs (started at 95kgs). I've been eyeing the 87.x region for a while now, looking forward to continuing to push and getting there! :)

    The 30 day challenge (daily exercise and private journaling + slow tapering of cigarettes), now on its 5th day, is going... just barely going... but it's going! I had large unforeseen obligations and stresses and that made exercising difficult. But on two days I exercised for a whopping 5 minutes at home and on one day journaled in the morning instead of the preceding evening and "gave myself points", even though it's cheating a bit. But don't know what else to do except to restart or quit. I was good on the other days.

    I've been continuing with the cold showers, the breathing exercises, the meditation, the morning smoothies. I am happily not drinking coffee in the afternoons, not drinking alcohol.

  • @marcitko

    I have oat and fruit smoothie in the evening for dinner. I use frozen fruit that was ripening too fast to reduce waste. It gives it this creamy texture which is really filling and delicious. Kiwi, banana, pineapple, raspberries, you name it! Ah! And one small spoon of honey :)

    I did another walk today (10km in 2hours). Really feeling the diet as my clothes are again not tight.

  • @Kotishka I've been wanting to look into healthy breakfast&dinner options - and have them stocked at home - since currently I'm winging it, which is far from ideal. Thank you for the idea and encouragement. Also, congrats on the 10k walk! Keep it going!

    Today I am at 87.9kgs, finally cracked the 87.x region, and looking forward to continuing.

    Yesterday, I did not exercise or journal - hence the 30 day challenge has failed. (I have several very good "excuses", but excuses are not really excuses since the whole point of the challenge was to push through excuses). My thinking this morning is: "how do I proceed best from here?". And the answer is something like: "just keep going". Which is what I will do.

    Yesterday, I did a foolish thing that I never want to do again. First, I got my parents to lie, then, I lied myself. These were small and relatively inconsequential lies, but I do NOT want to go down that route. My parents and I are trying to purchase an apartment for me, we are in negotiations for one, and I told them not to tell the seller that they are divorced since I thought that that might send a signal that we are not united and hence weaken our position. Anyway, the guy asked, they lied, I lied, ugh! I don't remember the last time I outright lied and lying for "gain" is not good. If I would start down that path I would be lying all day in no time. I repent.

    On the brighter side, I had a good insight and new applied perspective yesterday. All of my life, I have been using a lot of energy and experienced lots of discomfort around the negative aspects of my parent's personalities. However, yesterday it occurred to me that I am not responsible for these aspects, do not need to control or try to influence them, that these aspects have nothing to do with me, etc. So, the best thing I can do is keep vigilant about my own behavior, try to stear a good and wholesome course for everyone, and leave my parents alone. It was a relief to adopt this type of view/behavior, I could sustain it for hours, but then later in the day again fell into emotional-drama. Oh well, a work in progress, as everything.

    We are having never-before-seen severe storms in Croatia these days.

  • @marcitko

    I have also experienced / experience this "discomfort around the negative aspects of my parent's personalities". I'm trying to make peace with that. My father seems the "hard subject" one right now.

    About lying, I think this world makes it quasi-compulsory in certain aspects/situations. If you are too honest, you get crushed unfortunately. I like to practice the art of not revealing too much to avoid having to lie.

    Also! Haha curiously, my parents are trying to help me out finding a flat too. Lanzarote is so expensive that we are thinking on refurbishing an old commercial space my mother owns and make it into a loft apartment. It will be expensive: 20,000-30,000 euros worth of reforms and paperwork. But the other option is 200,000 + mortgage or 1,000-1,300 euro month rent for a mini apartment....

    I have failed too my daily journaling challenge! But I wrote yesterday and will be doing so tonight again. I have to say I only concentrated on "errors" or "discomfort" during the first days. Yesterday though, after a 3 day stop, I wrote about how great was that there was possibility of a Thursday weekly zazenkai event (group zazen session). I have found a person interested in learning and she wishes to sit in person :D

    Also, say hello to our new resident. I found him dying from thirst with a damaged left eye. He is a perenquén, a native reptile from these islands. He is recovering and, surprisingly, has become really friendly. He lets you hold him and he doesn't seem agitated around humans.

  • marcitkomarcitko Veteran
    edited July 2023

    @FleaMarket @Kotishka I have company in the thread, most excellent! Feel free to keep journaling :)

    Today I slept poorly.

    I've lost more weight during the past two weeks and am now at -7.6kgs (87.4kgs at 177cm)! I'm noticing improvements as a result in daily life - for instance not huffing and puffing when walking up the hill home, more energy overall, and easier/better exercise. Also, the good and happy kind of pride, when we know we've done something good and difficult. 12.4kgs more to go!

    I am again reminded to do and keep doing the right thing and just trust the process. If I zoom in on the weight day to day, I sometimes get discouraged, because it's not fast or linear. Sometimes it looks like there is no improvement, sometimes it goes in the wrong direction. But, long-term it goes in the right direction and all is well. Same thing can be observed in other areas of life. As long as I'm putting in effort/practice, I will improve in that area, and since everything is inter-connected, in other/all areas too. Patience and persistence.

    Yesterday, I was acting foolishly/passively. And I was telling myself the standard stupid mantra: "I'll do better tomorrow". But somehow and thankfully, I mustered the determination to do better TODAY (ie. yesterday :)). So I did a flurry of positive activities. Going forward, I want to remember that, if I fall, the time to correct my path is NOW/today, not tomorrow, which often is just a lie we tell ourselves in order to feel better.

    I've also noticed that I'm a dopamine-addict. I go from one to the other, especially when I'm feeling poorly. My dopamine-vices include: Youtube/phone, smoking, coffee, poker, po**/mast********. Chasing dopamine in this way leads to suffering, that is clear, and I notice it again and again and again. On the other hand, when I do something good, especially if it's difficult, I get the good kind of satisfaction, which does not seem to have negative effects or an opposite.

    One problem I have no clue how to solve: I know, for a fact based on experience, that if I keep up the effort to improve myself and my situation, I can obtain excellent results long-term, even better than I can currently imagine. Even having MH difficulties, I can heal them to the extent of being in a much BETTER place than ever before (including before those MH difficulties). However, for the past 10 years I've had a breakdown on average about once a year when much of the progress gets lost. No idea how to stop the breakdowns. On the positive side, I do notice improvement even when taking into account the breakdowns. But, breakdowns or no breakdowns, I must put in the effort as best I can.

  • @marcitko said:
    Feel free to keep journaling

    Thanks for the open invitation @marcitko, it means quite a lot. As does reading about your efforts here.

    Also, the good and happy kind of pride, when we know we've done something good and difficult

    Yes! This is something easy to overlook. The activity itself is not the whole thing. Someone can do unproductive things and feel fine or even good in the moment but then have bad feelings later reflecting back upon it. Likewise doing those beneficial things can feel arduous in the moment but reflecting back feels really good.

    I've also noticed that I'm a dopamine-addict

    I had my genes examined a while back and they informed me I process dopamine 2x faster than normal which essentially means exercise is worth its weight in gold. I don't recall what else is good for it at the moment though found combining my exercise with picking up trash an excellent one-two punch to any negative states of being.

  • While the journaling has not crystalised, the meditation practice has! Well, not exactly: I find it hard to find a place at home where I'm not interrupted. The only option I'm considering is to wake up a bit earlier and meditate outside. My wife always wakes up in the middle of my sessions and says it is scary to see me staring at the wall. Imagine meditating and hearing: "Kotisha...scary!" Haha!

    My diet and exercise regime is working out really well. I sleep better and wake up earlier without feeling destroyed. My new task is to really get AWAY from YouTube shorts. Just for those interested, this new wave of short videos is really bad as it is quite addictive and catchy for your brain: doomscrolling they call it. Poor children falling victim to this! This is becoming my challenge nowadays. I guess I will just need to stick to the 20h disconnect and read a book or stretch.

    As I'm doing @Bunks Vassa Challenge, I've realised how quickly I want to please my misbehaved neurones: they crave this dopamine rush from cannabis. It shows how this is something I need to really keep an eye on as it can become a poor habit quite easily. I wish I could have with weed the same relation I have with alcohol: I can drink, even get drunk, no problems at all; then spend the next 6months-3 years without thinking about drinking. Karma? Maybe... I was a cow in Nepal that enjoyed munching weeds too much....



  • @Kotishka Most excellent, I'm proud of you, stay hard! :)

    Would it help to explain to your wife what you're doing and why?

    I've deleted Youtube from my phone two days ago. Still have it on desktop. My beef was that a) it's obviously conditioning me b) if I'm being conditioned I'd at least like to have some control over what I'm conditioned with c) especially the shorts section provides no control over what I'm watching and d) the algorithm keeps reccomending topics and videos that I do not want to watch (whatever I do stop that). So, I've decided I'd rather read before bed, even on my phone, since then at least it's an active activity and I'm deciding what I'll read.

    As for any dopaminic activity, my experience is that the cravings go away totally if your decision is 100%. If it's less than 100%, there will be an internal battle, which comes up as occasional cravings, but which you can still keep winning with some effort. With 100%, it's like even the cravings "give up" seeing your great determination.

    Now that I've sounded all sagey, and might have written more than I should have, I report that I had 2 and 3 beers over the past three evenings. Not fun. Did not enjoy it. The only good part is a strong determination to do good and devote myself to practice henceforth.

    Why did I drink? Had a very stressful 10 days with signing the contract for the apartment. I think it was you, Kotishka, that said that "when the troops are tired...". That's basically it. Life is so much easier if we're at 100% with anything. New start, new opportunity!

  • KotishkaKotishka Veteran
    edited August 2023

    @how Hahaha!

    Once I did scare her when she asked me what I was doing...and I a cultish manner with my eyes wide open:

    "I've dropped body and mind...."

    My partner is Orthodox Christian and finds Buddhism slightly pessimistic: no ultimate heaven, no self, no salvation, etc. She also thinks if I meditate too much I will "drop body and mind" and go to some Netherrealm and never come back. Seriously!

    I tried explaining some aspects about Buddhism to her but she simply does not like the subject. I try to "avoid" these problems by meditating early in the morning or at some other location. This makes my practice a bit harder than when I used to live alone in my flat back in the Berlin days.

    I find the best way to "teach Buddhism" to her is by example. Patience, kindness to others like her, being diligent with my post-meditation practice and effort, etc. Accompanied by "as I read in sutta...." or "Master Dogen also said..".

    @marcitko I resisted the urge of smoking today. My method is to simply recollect all the suffering this brings to my body, friends, partner, and family. It is hardcore, but it works... maybe excessively intellectual though. Like I need to visualise a balance: on one side the benefits of short term pleasure; on the other the problems on the long term...

    Stay hard!

    Edit: YouTube is out of my phone too!

  • marcitkomarcitko Veteran
    edited August 2023

    Yesterday, I had a big moral dilemma, in line with my commitment to keep the precepts for our Vassa thread. Any input appreciated.

    For the past 2-3 years I have not downloaded any torrents (pirated movies/books/articles...) based on a conscious decision not to do so. Round here, many people do it and it is considered normal and morally fine, and I even sometimes get ridiculed for avoiding to do so. I do not feel "better than" since I've done it all my life previously.

    The dilemma was thus: I have been looking for a way to restart doing amateur astronomy. The problem is I don't drive and live in a big city so can't go the "normal route" of driving to dark locations periodically. Yesterday I found two books on ways for amateurs to contribute to real science - even from light polluted areas such as the one I live in - which would be an exciting way to rejoin the hobby. The books are expensive, especially when including shipping, so my only option was to buy used copies and have them shipped to my US friend who will come to my town in 1-2 months. The problem: knowing myself, in 1-2 months, I will lose the enthusiasm for the books I felt yesterday and might not even read them.

    Hence the dilemma: Is it better to keep the precept not to take what is not given (which I did) or is it better to cheat the publisher and author but possibly jump-start an excellent and wholesome activity?

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Is there a more excellent and wholesome activity than to live in accord with the precepts?
    When it comes to choosing between suffering's cause or its empowerment....
    What do you decide?

  • marcitkomarcitko Veteran
    edited August 2023


    Thank you. I choose living in accord with the precepts.

    If nothing else, then life is easy (fewer dilemmas), and I like easy :)

    EDIT: A Facebook-only acquaintance of mine was mentoring some college students when he got a can't-turn-down offer to CEO a company which would require a move. He flat turned down the offer because he said he committed to mentoring the students and hence had unavoidable commitments. That's the kind of commitment that inspires me and that I would like to aim for.

  • This place is a medicine. Sometimes I feel bad being here because medicine is effort and expensive and I don't feel worthy when I reflect on how I've used it and what I've provided in return. Maybe that's just a view held prolonging treatment. Maybe this is what healing looks like. Most held views are just divisions drawn in the sand that piss a lot of people off. Why? So the self can have something to justify its being? A self among selves needs a place to be.

    It's a hot summer. Orb weaver spiders are the neighborhood-walker's bane this time of year. Even if you don't walk the sidewalks, they'll be between you and your car, you and your outdoor trash bins, sometimes between you and your bathroom if you leave the windows open at night. They have to be. There's so many of them this hot year. In early mornings looking up in the trees, across all the bushes, and all the good spaces have a web with a dime-size brown center. Fortunately we aren't their meal and they drop off quick when mindfulness laps on the trail and one goes grabbing for the sticky entrapment they find covering arms and face. And the question arises "Why here? I'm walkin' here!" to which the answer, where else? It has to be somewhere for it to be at all. Somewhere other than where the other ones are. Because the other ones are there already.

    One of my favorite neighborhood residents who walks down my street often, I ran into her last week coming back from breakfast along a mutual trail which has become overgrown and home to many small spiders and their webs in the early mornings. Instead of commiserating on the bugs as is typical spider idle chatter, we shared a moment of fascination and wonder about them. That and how that particular corner of the trail had been neglected for some time and seeing the webs was difficult as one would be in contact with the bushes on both sides when going through. The poor soul who took that path first each morning.. Well a few days later I went for breakfast and that corner had been nicely trimmed back so we could all see much more clearly when walking through. On the way home I bumped into her near that area and was able to express my gratitude since I was in on her secret good deed.

  • Today I am pissed off...
    ... at my laziness...
    ... at my fearful attitude (ie. anxiety)...
    ... at my passivity...
    ... at my moral cowardice in face of potential judgment by others...

    Today I am determined to hack away - hack, hack, hack - at these impostors.
    I will fail and whine and succeed and fail again.
    But today I am pissed off and determined.
    And today is what counts.

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran
    edited August 2023

    I had a thought today when my mindfulness bell went off and I sought to choose where to leave my attention for the brief moment, that there were too many options to choose from.

    There's an episode in Rick and Morty where they're in their home, hunting some aliens. Aliens keep arriving and taking shapes of people they know, "helping" them look for the aliens. It gets very silly when the whole house is full of not just random friends but favored dead presidents and fond TV show characters which all instantly have Rick and Morty's trust no questions asked. Hunting for the very culprits. You get the feeling of "Wasn't this house almost empty a minute ago?" Then they get blastin'.

    Back to the breath..

  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Sentient Being Oceania Veteran

    That made me laugh @FleaMarket ...

    I wasn't sure if I should give a smiley LOL or a hug for that one ...I haven't seen the show but from your description it sounds like a funny show....

  • @Shoshin1 said:
    That made me laugh @FleaMarket ...

    I wasn't sure if I should give a smiley LOL or a hug for that one ...I haven't seen the show but from your description it sounds like a funny show....

    Oh boy, the show's a real messy piece of work. Very violent and vulgar but it throws a thinker once in a while and I enjoy some of the humor.

    Laugh away. I joke about most things because I find it helpful in an uplifting way. And because my own insights usually come from some silly reminders like that. I try to make them worth sharing.

  • The flaps of a fledgling's wings are tragically clumsy but without them even the strongest of wings would not come to be. I'm adding a new challenge to my routine. To be mindful while socializing. Very different to me than being mindful while out and about. Something happens to me fairly often when I'm near people which causes my whole body to tense, sometimes enough to shake like I'm cold, the mind becomes hyper-vigilant but murky. Reminds me of walking through a den of wolves pretending to be a wolf but painfully obviously not a wolf. The mind goes blank or consumed by how strange I must appear or where the first bite will be coming from. When the conversation happens, it's reflective of that anxiety and takes many strange forms such as mimicking, exaggerating their expressed emotions, taking on a child-like mentality, stone-walling..

    Well I decided to practice this morning and went out to a popular sit-down breakfast. It was packed with a line like a typical Sunday. The walk from parking space to entrance was anxiously mechanical. Before the anxiety could completely sweep me away, something reminded me to pause and reflect on what I was doing that was contributing to that anxiety. Cause and effect. I was not attending to the right things. My attention was on the mechanical nature of my walk, what words I'd use to ask for a seat, what to do with my freakin' hands, where my eyes are safe to rest so not to disturb anyone's morning, how to best avoid judgemental glances and so on. Holy carp, is this how it always is? No, sometimes none of that happens at all and everything's wonderfully fluid and normal.

    So I took a look at what the difference was, and among other things was just that. Where was my attention and what was it doing there? On the effects of my anxiety, enhancing them. So I put it elsewhere. The breath, a pretty tree through the window, the details in the light fixtures, the waiter and our conversation when they came around. She was clear and sharp-witted, unlike my groggy self, and right away offered me a cup of coffee or a tequila (I must have looked pretty rough). An uncommonly forward question that would typically leave an anxious me sheepish leading to a jumbled response. But the fevered anxiety had broken when my attention had shifted to something else more pleasant, more calm, more centering. I was more present in the moment than present in the anxiety. There was the ability to relax and improvise. The meal was good, the service great, anxiety still lingering but a simmer instead of a roaring boil. After paying I looked the waiter in the eyes and let her know I found her delightful. I got the feeling that meant something to her. Now I'm reflecting on how much better that went compared to how it could have gone. And the reasons behind why that is.

  • Thanks once more @marcitko for allowing me to blog here with you. It's provided enough reason to reflect which is allowing me to see the value in it more clearly. Today is what counts and may yours be a day of mindful reflection as well.

  • You're welcome @FleaMarket, I enjoy the company.

    Today was a good day - I don't remember the last time I completed my to-do list and even exceeded it by quite a margin.

  • marcitkomarcitko Veteran
    edited August 2023

    (whining and bragging deleted) :)

    I've been noticing how when I "brag" about some success, it bites me in the ass. For instance, I get an "attack" in the opposite direction the next day. Should we not share our victories, along with our difficulties? If anyone has any insight on this, I'm all ears.

  • I don't have much of a solution but I've certainly experienced speaking something aloud and the opposite quickly taking over. It's actually pretty frequent.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    One....or is it two possible perspectives on "sharing".

    If a sharing of a victory or a difficulty increases or hardens an ego or an identity, some biting of ones ass should be expected
    If a sharing of a victory or a difficulty decreases or softens an ego or an identity, there will be less of an ass left for any teeth to find.

    or put another way....

    Sharing is wholesome when it reduces anyone's tendency towards attachments.
    Sharing is unwholesome when it intensifies anyone's tendency towards attachments.

  • Hey @how,
    The perspective makes sense to me. Putting it into practice is where I get confused.
    What are some ways to identify and differentiate if what's being shared does or doesn't do that for someone's ego or attachments? Like among a group of people, or on a forum?

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited August 2023

    @FleaMarket said:
    Hey @how,
    The perspective makes sense to me. Putting it into practice is where I get confused.
    What are some ways to identify and differentiate if what's being shared does or doesn't do that for someone's ego or attachments? Like among a group of people, or on a forum?

    A Meditation practice is a process of training that allows us to objectively observe how we routinely create, maintain, and promote the storylines of our own egos. As we become more proficient in these observations, we see more and more opportunities within each moment to stop empowering the machinations of those storyline productions. What was once a relatively habituated set of behavioral inertias, can now become a choice in whether to continue with the storytelling or not. The degree to which we are ever able to stop the empowerment of our own storyline production is the same degree to which we can **stop triggering and empowering the storylines of all the other egos **within our spheres of influence.

  • marcitkomarcitko Veteran
    edited August 2023

    Thank you @how. The two posts together are now much clearer to me.

    After several failed attempts, I've managed to quit the anti-anxiety medication around 10 days ago. I have no idea why it worked this time around, wish I did. Maybe it's a bit like untangling rope, you fiddle around, and in the end something works. I am very happy about this, some tangible progress, but need to stay observant. The weight is also continuing to slowly go down.

    Next up, either coffee or smoking. Coffee is low difficulty and low reward, and smoking high difficulty and high reward. The benefits of stopping smoking are obvious. More recently, I've also started observing how negative smoking is on the mind in general. Several friends have confirmed this. I don't see many people talk about this when discussing the negative sides of smoking. The benefits of quitting coffee are primarily to see whether this would improve sleep and calm.

    I hope y'e all find yourself well today. <3

  • @marcitko said:
    After several failed attempts, I've managed to quit the anti-anxiety medication around 10 days ago.

    Well of course I had the biggest crisis in 10 days today, a day after writing the above. I guess no more bragging.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited August 2023

    Each moment is a new arising, a life and its finish. Each moment of consciousness is another re-do in relationship to the last. Is the person who brags still existing in the same universe that spawned that bragging?

    To an ego, this is chaos,
    to the braggart, it is fears defense,
    to the accepting, another opportunity in awakening.

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