Progress and Action

My 2 good habits that I have managed to be consistent with, since the lockdown started are: Meditation and  Exercise.

I started by doing 20 push-ups a day and meditating every morning. Since last summer, I had been very inconsistent with practising martial arts or doing exercise. Perhaps going to counselling and showing up for the sessions kept me weighed down. During the whole process, I was listening to audiobooks, podcasts and watching YT videos as an escape. Escape because, my time was mostly filled by listening to fictional novels from some of my favourite authors. With the start of 2020 and having finished with counselling sessions, I wanted to re-implement some of the good habits that have stuck with me throughout difficult times. The two being meditation and exercise! It’s always these two that help me find balance and reorganise my mind.

This Spring with lockdown in place I tried a new combination of meditation followed by exercise for 90 days… I skipped a few days here and there. Skipped either am or pm session. It didn’t go as I planned, however, I managed to develop these habits back into my daily routine with greater consistency. I was meant to update my daily log of accountability but I really found that a chore lol. Still I started by doing 20 push-ups right after a meditation session. Usually I like meditating after an intense workout and emptying my mind and just sitting with myself observing and enhancing the focus and emptiness… this time, I was meditating first and to reward myself (the brain) I was doing push-ups. The idea being that my brain needs dopamine and endorphins released to feel pleasure and for the habit to stick. I can say that it worked really well. I also went from doing 20 push-ups to 50 push-ups. Then changed it up to 100 push-ups a day (5 sets × 20 reps).  Now, I have brought another slight change and started to lift weights too. The day I don’t lift weights, I do 100 push-ups. The other days I lift. I still maintain my focus on core strength and flexibility because I want to keep my taekwondo skills up to par.

Why am I sharing this? I can keep carrying on quietly and do what I am doing. My reasons for sharing are simple, everyone goes through different life challenges. You never know what others may find inspirational. I am not really going to post pictures up lol because I hardly take pictures. I don’t have a habit of taking selfies or pictures. So sadly, I don’t have the skinny me before and some after gains haha… The idea behind sharing this is that, you can start no matter your level, start with habits that you want to develop and stick with them, challenge yourself, hold yourself accountable through social media posts or through a friend. Become consistent, do a little bit everyday, rather than not doing anything at all.

Personally for me, consistency matters a lot. If I am able to stay consistent with my habits… hopefully it filters through to other aspects of life too and become consistent with everything I want to do and plan to do. Focussing on the process, not the outcome. The next steps for me are filling in the daily report card with consistency. To see what I am referring to check out these previous posts:

http://macropassions.com/2020/04/05/how-to-motivate-yourself-to-sustain-your-productivity/

http://macropassions.com/2020/02/29/leap-progress-process/

I want this progress and action to filter into my process and auction too.

Until next time,

Put in those reps

Manifestation, Choices

In my last post Fragility, I discussed some of the cause-effect issues that surround human behaviour by presenting simple example of what I have experienced. You know what they say, little knowledge is dangerous. To some it is not a big deal, but to me how I write and what I mean by it and how it is interpreted matters. Cause-effect relationships occur from macro to micro. To us humans, it may be correct to say that we may experience them and observe them, however, we/the object/the element/compound are not the source of causation. This is a theological issue and perhaps I came across it to realise what mistakes I made. And perhaps not just realising the mistake of using incorrect words, the idea and its understanding, philosophy behind it. Even though I may have known and accepted the understanding intuitively. Reminders are a great way to delve deeper into difficult issues, knowledge that is not mainstream anymore. In my search for seeking answers, I came across a new series of lectures which explained the idea to me in the way that it made sense to me. What we see as cause and effect in this universe is simply manifestation of the decree. The pen has been put down and ink dried.

Of course, my love for writing and continuing these posts of self-reflection and idea sharing, hasn’t come to an end with the last post. That said, after writing it those few days of stumble perhaps lingered on for a bit longer. However, I have also stumbled into a lot of good in the meanwhile, things that are waiting so that I can explore them.

In this post, what I want to talk about is something simple. I want to clarify first that I am not an expert in the field of psychology. The little knowledge that I have, has been gained through reading some books, listening to some lectures, and most of all living through experiences the good ones, the bad ones; reflecting upon those moments and trying to understand my thoughts, behaviours and emotions. I will keep this super simple and would like to explain just a few concepts that might help some people who may read this. Firstly, I want to talk about fixed vs growth mindset. I want to talk about nature vs nurture. I want to touch upon the tools that if you use them too, will provide you with important life lessons from your own experiences.

Fixed mindset individuals carry this belief that their intelligence, creativity, personality traits are unchangeable and hence static. They carry this belief that our life’s successes and failures are dependent upon these inherent values, traits, and qualities. Growth mindset on the other hand, promotes the notion that failures and challenges in life are a means of growth in personal lives and professional careers. It simply makes more sense to me, as we constantly learn from our mistakes, even if we do make some mistakes over and over. In the study of CBT- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, research has deduced that cognitions(thoughts), emotions and behaviours are inter-linked. Hence to change our patterns of behaviours, we can work by changing our patterns of thoughts. In doing so, the emotions we feel will change too. This requires deliberate practice, and change may come easy to some and delayed to others. The idea here is that, change requires small progressive steps, requires a foundation of habits. This is why habit stacking is extremely important. This should be taught in schools at an early age so that these principles are well understood. I definitely wished I had known the little I know now when I was younger haha.

Nature vs Nurture. The way I understand nature is through the Arabic word فطرة. In my understanding, all humans are born upon pure nature. As we grow our environment and surroundings nurture this nature. At an early age, some qualities stand out more so than others. All of this is manifestation too. Our characters are proportioned out. However, nurture is the ability that if constantly utilised, results in gradual improvement of human nature or perhaps gradual destruction, depending whether you’re walking the path of light or of darkness. It’s obviously understood that a murderer after each murder only becomes more numb. The evil act becomes easier to carry out each turn. Similarly, if we project our nature towards good, nurturing the good qualities and traits with repeated habits, actions, and processes.

So, what are the tools that can help you in achieving a growth mindset and shift away from having a fixed one?

1- Acknowledging and affirming that you have a growth mindset. Realising that failure can be overcome, setbacks perhaps are a blessing in disguise. 2- Each time you fail, ask yourself, was there a lesson to be learnt? 3- Not dwelling in the past, living in the present and working to build a better future.

What tools can help you nurture a good nature? One is obvious that you all already have. Life experiences! We all have different life experiences, so we may all learn something different from reflecting on unique experiences that we have had. Keeping in mind at the same time, out of the 7 billion people alive and many that have lived before, they have also most likely been through similar experiences. We are unique and at the same time tied to a bigger picture. Reflecting on your experiences, not ruminating, not dwelling in the past, just reflecting! Squeezing life lessons and carrying them forwards to new experiences. This is one way of nurturing a good nature.

I will end this here. Share it with others if this helped you in some way.

Until next time…. Ciao

A Drink from the Cup of Knowledge

Long ago in a distant land, a boy was looking to find something to give him purpose in life. He searched and searched, but then everything changed, when he decided to go at war. War within himself. He set on a journey to travel within. 

He decided to walk down the same path of overcoming the ego that many great people had tread before him. 

Once when Rumi’s Friday procession was marching towards the masjid to deliver the Friday sermon. On the way, he encountered a mystic, a wanderer. The wanderer stopped his horse by getting in the way, looked at Rumi and asked him this question. Shams [(sun)-the name of the wanderer)] asked of the scholar, “O you who are as knowledgeable in meanings as a money-changer is with coins, tell me who was greater, Muhammad, the Elect of God, or Bayazid?”

“Muhammad is the Prince and the Commander of all the Prophets and all the Friends of God. All power and greatness is his.” Rumi Replied. 

Shamsuddin asked, “In that case, what does it mean that the Prophet said, ‘Glory be to You! We have not known You as You ought to be known,’ while Bayazid said, ‘How great is my glory. How exalted am I, the sultan of sultans.’”

Some may have called Bayazid’s statement/poetry Blasphemy, but Rumi knew what it really meant.
Rumi answered, “Bayazid’s thirst was quenched and the container of his comprehension was filled by a single sip, and he appeared to have been satisfied. The light entered in proportion to the opening of his heart. The Chosen one of God (peace and blessings upon him) had a profound desire that had yet to be satisfied. For the Prophet it was thirst upon thirst. His blessed chest had become God’s vast dominion… For that reason he said, ‘I have not known You as You ought to be known’.”

The cup of knowledge/wisdom and the thirst for knowledge/wisdom are directly proportional, the greater the thirst, the more it can hold. 

How big is your cup? How thirsty are you for knowledge and wisdom? Are you content with little or let ego take control and make you think you know it all. Or, do you continually learn and learn more because your heart and mind remain open?  This is a great reminder for a people who once sought knowledge even if they had to travel to far places, places as far as Fars and Cheen. In the medieval times, those were vast distances to cover. Have a listen to this lecture, thank you Youtube for recommending it to me. Spirit of Islam. p.s. I am not trying to preach, that is not my intent. I am not qualified to do so, neither do I have knowledge of such level. I am a firm believer of the teaching; practise what you preach! I struggle everyday. We bicker more than we do Dhikr. That made me laugh, listen for some good Islamic rhymes. Liquor conference and Dhikr Conference. Hamza Yusuf is one of my favourite scholars. To check out his work go to https://zaytuna.edu/ this is the college he has established for traditional Islamic studies in Amreeka. Check out https://sandala.org/ to access his lectures, recordings and explanation of many books. Amazing person(Tayyab, Mumtaaz) and very humble. So if you wonder, where does my knowledge of the self and Ruh(soul) comes from, it is Hamza Yusuf’s lectures and explanations of the many books he has delivered lectures on. While you’re at it, check out these lectures 17 benefits of tribulations.

In all chosen paths of enlightenment, be it the way of Buddha, the way of Moses, the way of Christ or the way of Muhammad peace be upon them all. Or even just a spiritual path to enlightenment. First, you measure your cup and see whether your thirst has already been quenched. Refill your cup over and over, the gems will hold, and the froth will be removed just like when a cup overflows with excess liquid. But once you find your chosen path and after many lessons you have learnt to hold more gems than froth. Dig down in that cup and turn it into a well. Perhaps something even magical that never seems to get full. This reminds of the scene when Dumbledore is drinking to recover the fake amulet (a Horcrux) already recovered by R.A. Black. No more Harry, please stop! That’s a little magical crazy. I am not talking in that sense. 

Hmm, talking about this and thinking of Dumbledore and his old friend the dark wizard, forgot his name lol and I call myself a Harry Potter fan. Oh yeah- Grindelwald. Grindelwald and Dumbledore once set upon a journey to become great wizards seeking power and motivated by greed. Don’t be the dumb Dumbledore. Be the wise Dumbledore, who upon realising that love is a stronger force than power, changed his ways, although only after suffering great losses. I don’t know why I even started comparing the path of righteousness and purification to the path of Deathly Hallows. I guess, some of you might find it interesting looking at it from this perspective. The path of enlightenment whether righteousness, gaining knowledge or whatever pursuit of happiness you choose to go after, they all have similarities. Principles, you find them take different outward appearances but principles hold through time. As Dumbledore says, “Love Harry, it’s love that protected you and shielded you. That’s how you got the scar on your forehead.” 

In all paths to greatness, the road is rocky, the path is difficult to remain steadfast upon. Grit, persistence, overcoming setbacks, abundance, believing in Providence are your tools through all thick and thin.
Grit, virtue, focus and drive
Resilience and persistence 
A thick skin! 

Found this through James Clear’s 3 2 1 Newsletter. An excerpt from the poem “Youth” by Samuel Ullman, a Jewish poet:

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living.”

Source: Youth

Why am I linking what I have just shared with this poem? The way I see it is that, to follow the path of your choosing, you must live in your youth as Samuel Ullman mentions it is a state of mind, a matter of the will, a quality of imagination and the freshness of the deep springs of life.