Meditating Two Hours a Day

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I’ve increased my meditation time to one hour upon waking and one hour before going to bed. I’ve taken to wearing a small blanket over my shoulders, covering my thighs with another blanket, and resting my feet on a small rug. This keeps my body warm and also makes me feel like an old-time monk or yogi.

Although I’ve managed to increase the duration, the quality of my meditation hasn’t been good recently: a lot of stray thoughts and feelings arise and I check the timer 4 or 5 times each session. My mindfulness during the day hasn’t been good either. I am sometimes better able to stay in no-mind during my bowing sessions, where I just focus on breathing and counting.

I am trying to approach meditation with the attitude that it is the most important thing I will do the whole day, something of life-and-death importance. I think I need such dedication to make progress.

Abstinence has been relatively easy and I’ve hardly even thought about females or sex for the past few weeks. I think the vegetarian diet is helping. I also haven’t experienced much stress at work, although my pay is low. I prefer this to being under a lot of stress and earning a lot of money because the combination of stress and money puts me at risk of relapse.

Porn Damages the Brain: More Evidence

In previous posts, I noted how porn viewing damages the brain’s frontal lobes and impairs working memoryA recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that increased porn viewing was correlated to the following:

  1. Less gray matter in the striatum, an area of the brain associated with reward activity.
  2. A worsened connection between the striatum and the prefrontal cortex, the outer layer of the prefrontal lobe. The prefrontal cortex is associated with planning complex behavior, expressing personality, making decisions, and adjusting social behavior.
  3. Less reward activity in the brain when the subject viewed sexual images.

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These findings seem to suggest that as a person views more porn, he become less sensitive to pleasurable stimuli and less able to control his impulses. This applied to me when I was a porn addict. Hopefully, quitting porn can reverse or at least stop this damage. I think meditation is very helpful for impulse control; I am better able to notice my thoughts and feelings before I get swept away by them.

Link to the original study

Lifting Weights Again

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I wasn’t able to lift weights for about two months, and my lifts are almost back at beginner levels. I will try to gain as much strength and muscle as possible while I still have the testosterone. Hopefully, with persistent training, my lifts will return to their “peak” levels in about a year. In two or three years I intend to exceed my former peak levels before going into maintenance mode. To achieve this, I will lift weights two or three times a week for an hour and a half each session. I will also remain completely celibate.

Due to lower back pain, I won’t be doing back squats and instead will do front squats, staggered-stance back squats, and dumbbell lunges. I wish I had discovered the staggered squat years ago as it seems like a functional movement that doesn’t stress the lower back. It forces the front thigh muscles to work hard and involves a nearly-full range of motion for both legs.

I am continuing to meditate an hour a day every morning. Recently I’ve added 15-30 minutes of meditation before going to bed. This extra session allows me to clear my mind more quickly and easily. I aim to do an hour in the morning and an hour at night. I tried meditating on a zafu for a few days but my knees started hurting, so I returned to meditating on a chair.

Mindful Walking and Eating, Lapse in Bowing Practice

I’ve continued meditating an hour a day upon waking. I think I’m making progress, but it’s hard to tell. I’ve also started to stay mindful when walking, as a sort of walking meditation. In the past I would daydream while walking, sometimes even talking and laughing to myself, and lose all the mindfulness I had during my sitting meditation. Now I will try to focus my attention in my lower belly. The heart may also be a good focal point depending on the situation/culture.

Similarly, I am trying to stay mindful while eating. I will be aware of what’s going through my mind and try not to get carried away by random thoughts. I will focus on the sensory qualities of the food, chew properly, and eat and drink at a measured pace. I will also briefly give thanks in my mind before eating.

Gradually, I will expand my mindfulness so it covers every moment of the day. This is recommended in a number of spiritual writings. I will be present and mindful whether I am eating, walking, using the bathroom, working, reading, exercising, interacting with others, or sleeping.

I haven’t been able to bow for about a month due to lack of privacy, and only started again today. Physically, I think my legs got weaker and my body became less flexible. More unhappily, I think I lost some of the humble, pure, and sincere attitude I’d been gaining during my regular bowing practice. I feel much better after today’s bowing session and intend to continue bowing as long as living conditions allow.

Infographic from Reddit

This infographic was made by a member of Reddit’s Nofap community (http://www.reddit.com/r/NoFap/, title “I’m a 30 year old virgin, here’s an eye opening infographic I made about myself“) reviewing his 14-year masturbation habit.

xSdWw39This guy indulged in the habit for about as long as I did, during the same period of his life. I masturbated from age 16 to 30 at about the same frequency, and his figures roughly apply to me. So I wasted about 6100 ejaculations on masturbation during a period in my life I needed all my energy to grow, develop, and create a good life for myself.

I think his estimates of the time and money lost are the bare minimum because males operate below potential after ejaculation for a few days to two weeks until they regain their energy. Masturbating at that frequency means one is constantly operating on a “low battery”. If you consider the time spent recovering and performing sub-optimally, the time and money lost could be ten or 100 times what he estimated. Also lost was the chance to have good experiences and develop oneself physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.

Regarding the 21 L of semen he released, it is not the material composition of the liquid but the energy and life it contains that is important. A human body consists of water and other substances, but a living person is obviously not the same as some water and other substances mixed together, even if it was mixed in the right proportions. Similarly, one ejaculation contains just a few mL of substances but contains enough life to populate a large city (what other liquid can do this?), and is not identical to a mixture of those substances put together separately or gained from a different source.

I am getting close to meeting the discipline standards that I mentioned before in this blog. I am waking up before 7 am on most days, spending the day in productive activity, and going to bed at about 10 pm. The key for me was to exhaust myself during the day so that going to bed and falling asleep early was easy. I’m meditating 40 minutes to an hour a day.

Update, Nonviolence

I’ve been continuing my daily meditations and am now able to meditate for 55 minutes to an hour at a time without much difficulty. I mentally divide the hour into three 20 minute segments, which I find easier to handle. I am able to be “present” for maybe a minute and a half at a time. I’m very pleased with my recent progress as I had been meditating on and off since 2000 without anything seeming to happen and have suddenly seen this noticeable improvement.

I’m feeling the need to refrain from all negative thoughts, feelings, words, and actions towards others. I’m doing this because I read somewhere that being controlled by anger destroys wisdom. It also obviously makes bad karma and brings about bad entanglements with others. I think nonviolence is a basic rule in any religion and necessary for any further progress.

Daily Schedule, Meditation, Veganism

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I am trying to adopt the schedule below:

4:00 am: rise from bed

4:00 am – 5:00 am: meditate (1 hr)

5:00 am – 6:00 am: 108 bows, stretching/yoga

6:00 am – 7:00 am: shower, somewhat big breakfast, green tea

7:00 am – 8:00 am: go to work

9:00 am – 12:00 pm: work (100% effort)

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: somewhat big lunch, green tea

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm: work (100% effort)

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: go home

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: shower, small dinner (salad, vegetables, etc.), green tea

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: exercise

8:00 pm – 9:00 pm: meditate (1 hr)

9:00 pm – 9:30 pm: wash and go to bed

Life update:

I’ve increased my meditation time to 50 minutes a day. The increase in meditation time seems to be helping a lot. I’m more present during meditation and also during the rest of the day. I think I’m becoming more accepting of myself and my external situation because the important thing seems to be the inner silence found in meditation. Even if no improvements occur in my outer circumstances, I would be happy if I could adhere to the above schedule every day, abiding in emptiness and living a clean and disciplined life.

I seem to have recovered somewhat from last month’s relapses. I’ve gained strength at the gym, although my strength level is much lower than it was two years ago. When I have lonely or lustful thoughts, I try to go back to “no mind”. My recent increase in meditation time helps me do this. In the past, thoughts like: “‘I’m lonely”, or “I want sex”, or lewd images would appear in my mind, I would feel loneliness/lust in my body, and I would stew in these thoughts and feelings for minutes or hours. This would sometimes result in a relapse. Now, I’m able to identify thoughts of desire shortly after they arise and before the feelings well up in my body.

Regarding diet, I’ve become a vegan because I don’t want animals to be reared in captivity and slaughtered just so I can have pleasant feelings in my mouth. I think this type of meat production and consumption is extremely bad karma and an appalling waste/misuse of energy and resources. Eating a mass-produced animal’s rotting flesh and absorbing its energy of suffering is probably harmful physically and spiritually. This may not apply to people who are hunters/herders by tradition and kill on a small scale only when needed. I recently watched a lecture by the monk Seung Sahn who said the world’s population has exploded in the last century because the souls of these animals are being reborn into human bodies. A Joe Rogan podcast on the insanity of modern farming also nudged me towards my decision.

Recently, I’ve been feeling the need to shift my life’s focus to contributing, helping, or being of service to others (people, animals, the earth). Most of my life was a narrow selfish existence driven by greed, insecurity, and lust even though I never “succeeded”. I want to do good things to compensate for this. When I am dying, I want to be able to look back on my life and identify at least a few things that I did that benefited others.

I’m STILL unable to wake up at 4 am and go to sleep at 9:30 pm. It is very hard for me to fall asleep before midnight and I find myself waking up late and getting angry with myself. I’ve been doing 108 bows in the morning and not before sleeping. Maybe bowing before sleeping will help.

Relapse, Meditation

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Late last month I suddenly took on a large amount of work that required me to stay at the computer for most of the day. I relapsed (had sex with girls) a few times early this month. I don’t want to make excuses, but think it was due to the stress of work, sitting at the computer all day, and not being able to exercise.

Despite putting a funny little graphic on this blog post, I felt terrible after the relapses: I felt desolate and drained of all manly energy and ability. I also felt the enormous demand that sex and ejaculation places on my 39 year old body, and I felt like I had physically aged. I was also weak at the gym after the relapses, and felt less able to deal with the aggression of other guys.

I felt bad considering that I extol abstinence on this blog and was hesitant to admit here that I’d relapsed again. I wanted this site to focus on successes and not failures. However, I think it’s also important to describe my experience as honestly as possible so readers can learn from it.

Despite falling down, I’ve also seen a positive development in my life.

I’ve increased my meditation sessions from 20 minutes a day to about 45 minutes, and I also keep my mind blank when walking or riding the bus/subway. I think this longer period of meditation is helping me keep my mind clear through the day.

One funny thing I’ve noticed recently is that I no longer feel much hurt or anger when people make noises at me (grunt, hawk and spit, click their tongue, suck air through their teeth, laugh at me, etc.). I used to feel pain, outrage, shock, anger, and perhaps fear when people did this. I’d replay the incident in my mind, get angrier and angrier, and try to think of some way to retaliate. Now I just notice that it happens, possibly feel a bit of pain, and immediately bring my mind back to meditation. Keeping a blank mind also helps because people sometimes sense what I am thinking and laugh at my thoughts (admittedly, a lot of my mental chatter is ridiculous, but that doesn’t give people the right to “stare” at my naked thoughts and laugh at them). When I have a blank mind, people have nothing to laugh at. 

I’m reading “The Power of Now” and I think a lot of the credit for my recent progress should go to this book.

Saving Energy

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In the mid-90s I had a chat on IRC with an older man who had studied spirituality. I peppered him with questions, and he patiently answered most of them. At the end of the chat, seemingly apropos of nothing, he said: “Save your energy”.

Even then, I knew he was referring to sexual energy. What else could he have meant? He wasn’t being judgmental or moralizing, he was stating that I needed the energy to make spiritual progress or even build a good life in the material world.

Meditation Update

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Until today, my practice was to get out of bed, do 108 bows, and then meditate. I’d sometimes skip or shorten my meditation because I was breathing heavily and sweating from the bowing. I also neglected meditation because it seemed insignificant compared to the physical effort I had just exerted.

An extremely interesting reddit post has changed my thinking. A young man describes the astounding benefits he’s gained from several years of meditation. I don’t know how much of it is factual, but the post has inspired me to meditate much more diligently. From now on, I will now meditate first and then do the 108 bows. I will also meditate for at least 30 minutes at a time. Maybe my slow spiritual progress was due to not putting enough time and energy into meditation.