One Year of Bowing

About a year ago, I started doing 108 bows a day. I’ve been bowing every day since then, except for several weeks when I didn’t have the privacy. I estimate that I’ve done about 36,180 bows in total (108 * 335). These days I am bowing in the mornings after 40-50 minutes of meditation. Here are my thoughts on the practice:

  • I can do the 108 bows in about 20 minutes with decent form, without pausing. My legs are not tired afterwards; I’m able to do a leg workout on the same day with no reduction in strength.
  • While bowing, listening to a recording that recites 108 statements of repentance, gratitude and aspiration is instilling good thoughts into my mind. One such recording in English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7tuP2Muez4.
  • My body seems more flexible and coordinated. After not bowing for some weeks, I noticed how inflexible and uncoordinated I felt. My body even seemed to look more awkward in the mirror.
  • I don’t think 108 bows a day are enough, on their own, to make my legs stronger. The muscular load is too light. However, I think their high-rep nature is helping to maintain a minimal level of leg strength and size.
  •  My mind feels faster and clearer. The front part of my brain feels more “activated”. Maybe bowing is burning off bad karma related to mental functioning. Or maybe the act of touching my head to the floor is bringing more energy to the front part of my brain.
  • I think I have a slightly better personality now than I did a year ago.
  • My mind sometimes wanders while I am bowing. I need to fix this because in bowing, sincere intent is as important as the physical movement.
  • My “world movie” has not magically improved since I started. I still have bad days where bad things happen and I still make mistakes although I try not to. I do not have a saintly aura; people still mistreat me at times.

Doing 108 bows a day seems to be a good practice, but not a cure-all. I intend to keep doing it. However, 108 bows a day is very basic and maybe not enough to overcome problems and tendencies that have been decades or lifetimes in the making. At present, I only have the time and energy to do 108 bows a day; I also have to work, read, and exercise. When I have more time, I want to do a thousand or three thousand bows a day.

Ten Years of NoFap

tenyears-300x300

A few days ago I passed my tenth year of not masturbating. I’ve come a long way since I began my journey in late October 2004 as a scrawny, weak, dull, timid, lazy, and foreveralone young “man” that people picked on and sneered at. I’ve gained strength and muscle from weight training and athleticism from martial arts. I look young for my age and feel healthy (like I should have felt during my teens and 20s). I can do mental math, I can read faster with better comprehension and retention, and I have a broader, faster, clearer mind. Emotionally, I’ve gained confidence, boldness, resilience, and yang energy. I have the energy and drive to set ambitious goals and work relentlessly to achieve them despite difficulty, danger, and hardship.

I’ve adopted good habits like doing 108 bows and meditating about an hour every day.

Despite my progress, I still have a long way to go. First, my accomplishment was only nofap and not complete abstinence. I was perfectly celibate for the first few years but I had sex several times a year after that. Each time I had sex I felt exhausted and it took me about two weeks to recover. Now I intend to be completely celibate in thought, word, and action and not waste any more sexual energy.

Second, I am struggling with issues like horrible intrusive thoughts, social anxiety, a bad temper, arrogance, energy stuck in the genitals, and a cold hardness in my personality. I was once the last and least out of all guys, now, although I’ve only improved a little, I am trying to suppress feelings of arrogance because I don’t masturbate while most other guys probably do. I am not sure of how to deal with these problems; maybe a meditation retreat or a lot of bowing (1000s a day) or prayer will help.

Difficulties aside, I am giving myself a pat on the back for good effort and progress up to now. I feel the real journey — including full celibacy, meditation retreats, spiritual development, and service to others — is just beginning.

winding-path

Standing Desk Experience

large

For the past few weeks I’ve been using the computer while standing at a makeshift standing desk. I tried this a few times in the past when I first read of such desks but quit after couple weeks because my feet got tired. Now I am able to stand for an hour or two without much foot pain, and I have probably reduced my sitting time by 60% or more. I keep the chair far away from the desk and try to sit on it only when I eat or meditate. The following are some observations/thoughts from my new habit:

  • I feel more alert at the computer than when I used to sit.
  • I realized that I’ve been sitting on my behind for most of the hours I was awake, even after I took on a healthier and more physical lifestyle that included doing 108 bows a day, lifting weights 3 or 4 times a week, and doing occasional martial arts workouts. I was still far from being a physical person.
  • After a long period of standing, my feet get a bit tired but I can stand again after sitting for about 30 minutes.
  • Standing on a soft mat seems to mitigate some of the discomfort in the feet.
  • I am motivated to make the most of my time at my desk before foot pain sets in by doing useful tasks instead of browsing random sites.
  • My lower back pain hasn’t gone away, but it hasn’t worsened either.
  • This is just speculation, but I think bodyparts grow/shrink and improve/deteriorate in proportion to how much they are used. Sitting for most of the day could result in a bigger and wider butt and undeveloped leg and foot muscles.

what-sitting-does-to-your-body

Sitting for the typical 8+ hours a day is very unhealthy even though a person exercises regularly and eats properly. Standing for long periods may not be healthy either but it seems to be better than sitting because it activates the muscles and nerves in the hips, legs, and feet. Standing desks may also help those struggling with porn addiction, due to the greater alertness and presence of mind that standing seems to involve. If temptation arises, it is easier to walk away from the computer if you are already on your feet.

Torkom Saraydarian on Sex and Masturbation

219218924535582

Spiritual teacher Torkom Saraydarian said the following regarding masturbation:

“Masturbation is an abuse of sexual energy. Masturbation is very unhealthy for men, women and children. It creates a tremendous pressure in the grey matter of the brain; the pineal and pituitary glands are affected, and mental concentration is weakened.
If a person feels an urge to masturbate, an excellent remedy is to wash the sexual organs or to douche with acidophilus. Acidophilus stops sexual stimulation because it disinfects germs and microbes that create artificial sexual stimulation. Even children who want to masturbate should wash with acidophilus.
There is a great difference between intercourse and masturbation. In intercourse the man’s aura and the woman’s aura mix, and their etheric, emotional and mental counterparts slowly adjust with each other, filling the reservoir with the creative sexual energy used during intercourse. In masturbation, the reservoir of energies which creates and replenishes the sexual energy is not formed. In masturbation, one draws upon his reserves and wastes them. So much pressure is put on the grey matter of the brain from the depletion of energies brought about by masturbation that lack of concentration, lack of daring and creativity, and even insanity can result.
In healthy sexual intercourse, the man absorbs the woman’s energies and the woman absorbs the man’s energies. The energy which is absorbed replaces the secretions released during intercourse. That energy creates etheric energy which recharges the blood. In masturbation there is no exchange or absorption of energies; there is only loss. Furthermore, during masturbation a person creates sexual thoughtforms which are difficult to eliminate.”

Source: http://worshippingthefire.blogspot.pt/2008/10/sexual-abuse-and-its-effects.html

Sexual Force or the Winged Dragon

 

Saint-George-and-the-Dragon-by-Paolo-UccelloI just finished reading “Sexual Force or the Winged Dragon” a short book by Omraam M. Aivanhov. I found the book packed with good information. Below are some notes I’ve taken from the book. I bolded the parts that I found especially significant.

  • Love is not just in humans but everywhere: in the air, in sunlight, in water, etc. sages don’t seek it from other humans, who only have small amounts of it.
  • The fire-breathing winged dragon represents sex energy: you can let it imprison/burn you or you can harness it to fly to space. You should not kill the dragon, you should tame and control it.
  • The story of Theseus and the Minotaur deals with sexual energy.
  • Cosmic energy manifests in different ways depending on where it goes (brain, muscles, solar plexus, genitals).
  • Sex is only in the genitals while love involves the heart and brain to some degree as well.
  • Sex without love attracts bad entities that feed off the act. it results in impurities in the sex centers.
  • Having a large sex drive can be a blessing if the energy is used properly. It is like a country that has great reserves of coal or oil under the ground.
  • Regard all women as divinities, not as sex organs.
  • Simply blocking sexual energy is like making a dam without a headrace. It will burst one day and bring disaster.
  • Wallowing in debauchery or becoming a eunuch are two extremes that must be avoided. Instead, connect yourself to heaven but also work to realize the Kingdom of God on earth.
  • The amount of sexual energy you have determines your enthusiasm for life. When your sex energy is gone, you have no more desire for life.
  • Brain, heart and genitals correspond to Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
  • Life is a game of energy. Humans have a limited amount of sex energy and it can be used for self improvement (becoming divine) or degradation.
  • Abstinence is not recommended for everyone. if a man doesn’t have the character to be celibate, it may be better for him to marry than to torture himself and possibly harm others.
  • Each time you have sex without love you lose an enormous amount of energy and get weaker, older, and duller. The pleasure of sex is fueled by one’s own substance.
  • The feverish excitement you feel when you are about to have sex indicates the enormous energy loss that is about to happen.
  • The sex act is like rubbing two sticks together to make fire. Most of the time, there is movement (willpower, action, strength) and warmth (heart) but light (intelligence, wisdom) rarely appears.
  • Don’t do anything for your own pleasure.
  • Love without waiting to be loved.
  • Spiritual development can be likened to a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The caterpillar is a repulsive creature that feeds on leaves, which harms the trees the leaves grow on. This is similar to a person that gets nourishment by destroying other humans. The creature continues to eat and grow until one day it spins a cocoon to isolate itself (metaphor for meditation). After some time it emerges as a butterfly. The butterfly drinks nectar from flowers, similar to how an evolved soul would gain energy from human interaction in a refined and spiritual way while benefiting and not harming the other person.
  • Only a few people in millions know what true love is.
  • Sex energy is from heaven but in most people flows down to the genitals. the sage circulates it back to heaven.
  • You get sex energy to flow upward not by suppressing it but by keeping your mind on a high ideal.

Meditating Two Hours a Day

Only-one-person-in-a__quotes-by-Bodhidharma-66

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.

striatum

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

active-vs-inactive-muscle1

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.