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Picture This

The quietness of the city. It is still, only a couple of other earl birds. This is the time of day before everyone gets up to do their thing, goes crazy, gets stressed, so there are no cars on the road.

If you go to the gym there will be very few people there. By the time you get ready for your first break you will have this feeling of accomplishment. And maybe, just maybe you get of doing more before 7am than some people do in a day. For me the rest of the day to myself after work make it really worth the effort to adapt my schedule. Because I do leave earlier.

It is one of those sensations that makes you say: "wow, this is great!"

Sure, it takes a time to reset your internal clock. Can it be done? Sure it can. And I find it is totally worth it!

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For the Love of Fun

Many of my published friends refer to writing as an expensive hobby. Writing as a simple hobby, it is one of the cheapest ones you could pick. On top of that I have seen very few agents prefer paper submissions. Most want you to send it electronically now, so that helps if you ever decide to submit a manuscript.

For Fun’s Sake

I realized that writing for me is a hobby. Maybe you can relate. Writing as a whole has always been a form of escapism for me; I would be happier with it and get more actual words down if I concentrated on it full-time. I discarded the notion that I would ever publish a single word of my creative writing when I was deep into my first book. Looking back, I can’t say that place was very constructive. The desire to publish my work is not equal to the desire to write and express myself. To build a name for myself or even just for the ego trip of seeing my work on the bookstore shelves is not the incentive. I never figured I’d be able to make a living as a writer, but that did not discourage me, in fact it liberated my creativity. In friends of a dear friend writing is nothing like Castle. Most fiction writers do not earn a living from their fiction alone. They supplement their income by giving seminars, teaching, lecturing, or working at a day job. Those who do make a living are a small minority, and their income tends to be small as well. Put it this way — if you work in WalMart or MacDonalds, you are probably going to be better off on a consistent basis than if you write fiction for a living. The Stephen King level of income is like a leprechaun — you hear about it, but nobody you know has actually seen it.
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A Teacher?

Do I need a teacher? We grow through learning, a teacher is the gardener that helps us reach our true potential. Even for something as straight foward as yoga asanas, there’s a huge difference between learning them from a page, and learning them in person. Immediate feedback from a teacher is extremely useful. “Asana” is supposed to mean “stable position,” not strenuous exercise,” and it is the “process” of getting into the position that is considered important, not actually attaining the final position. It is a means of strengthening the body, the third fold, that leads to better and more prolonged forms of meditation. The process is supposed to help bring the attention to various parts of the body in a natural, non-forced way, which will both facilitate any kind of normalization required to get closer to that position and the same process will help prepare the nervous system for meditation, making it more effective. A teacher will instill all of this inside you in such a way that being self-taught never will.
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I Am Not Alone

It has been shown again and again that getting up early really improves your productivity. If it didn’t, why would so many successful people do it?
  1. Dan Akerson – General Motors
  2. Richard Branson – Virgin
  3. Tim Cook – Apple
  4. David Cush – Virgin America
  5. Benjamin FranklinEarly to bed, early to rise!
  6. John Grisham
  7. Ernest Hemingway
  8. Robert Iger – Disney
  9. Napoleon
  10. Barack Obama
  11. Condoleeza Rice
  12. Margaret Thatcher
Get up at 5.00 AM you’d be in good company.  
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Life Goals

I was beginning to write down mostly my short-term goals and I realized I have no clue what to write down when it comes to long-term goals. I have a couple written down, but they are sparse. Maybe it is just because long-term plans should be taken more seriously. The point being to work toward them. There are also plenty of ideas, ideas are cheap and easy, which is why they have not been set as an actual goals yet. I haven’t decided if I want to really devote the time to them yet. As it stands now my short-term goals include: dropping bad habits one by one, connect more and maintain my workout routine. For me it used to be so much to do and so little time. But if I had to say it differently, it would be so little to do and so much time. Sort of makes sense, but probably sounds like I don’t want to do anything, which is not what I meant. I want to get more done and in less time. That is my long-term goal.
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Is Yoga Meditation

This is a common question. No. No. No, is the simple answer. But it can be combined. Yoga in its purest form is a form of physical exercise. The combination with spiritualism came later. So, can it be? That is the real question. Asana is supposed to prepare the body for meditation by getting rid of restlessness or muscular tension. When I practice I will focus on 15 min meditation, 30 min yoga, and another 15 min of meditation. This allows me to turn my focus away from work and turn my focus inward, maybe transition with more energetic breathing to asanas, then wind down with a body scan and quiet savasana. I know it sounds strange. For me, I define myself as a realist. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t look inward to center myself. To provide a real grounding. A friend of mine. She was very dear (and still is) introduced me to it. Had we not been close I would have brushed her off without giving it much thought. An event that would have left me very unhappy in life. She introduced me to Kriya Yoga. She showed me at first and then I went on to teach myself from there. I executed the kriyas incorrectly, I began experiencing serious mental consequences, such as very basic psychosis; unsurprisingly, the book warned readers of this, which is why it also strongly advised seeking out a teacher before assuming this form of yoga. I am now a student of someone whom I consider has walked the path much, much further than I. My teacher advises against sharing these techniques. From personal experience, seeing to the fact the mental damage it had done to me while performing certain techniques without supervision of a teacher, I know it is wiser to not entice anyone to perform them. Kriya Yoga is considered yoga focused on creating mental action or “kriyas”. It is like creating a hurricane of mental power, and it becomes like fire, and burns through levels of thoughts. Paramhamsa Yogananda is famous for having introduced this form of yoga in the United States in the first-half of the 1900s. For what it’s worth, I can say I never knew I would be involved with the things I currently am regarding yoga and meditation.
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I Yoga: Do I Need To Meditate?

Does yoga equal meditation? Or is meditation a form of yoga? Yoga is more than stretching. Yoga has meditative aspects but it isn’t a replacement for meditation. Yoga, as commonly defined is an 8 fold path to enlightenment. Of those, about 5 involve some sort of meditation. That being said, there are many forms of moving meditation that may work, asana included. Some use walking meditation as a stepping stone. Hell, some days I make more mental progress doing pause squats than I do sitting down. It’s easier, for some people, to start with yoga and transition to a seated meditative practice later on. You see yoga can become like a moving meditation, but the true essence of meditation is obtained through not doing anything, just pure being, pure awareness, the separation of mind and consciousness. There are eight limbs of yoga, and the practice of asanas is only the third one, with the seventh being meditative absorption, and the eighth being integration. All of the limbs are important in order to achieve the last one. As for the benefits of yoga, the only way to truly experience them is to create your own personal daily practice, just like with meditation. I meditate for 30 minutes alone in a quiet place, and it often takes 5-15 minutes to go into a deep relaxed state, a state I’ve never come close to achieving through yoga. I tend to view yoga as a preparation for meditation. I have some back issues and am not able to sit comfortably until after yoga. So I do 15 minutes yoga, 30 minutes meditation, 15 minutes yoga. It also helps me focus my attention for meditation after all the multitasking I do at work. The goal of asana practice is to prepare the body for mediation.
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Standing Like A Post: Zhan Zhuang

  For me a session needs to have a balanced blend of meditation and yoga. Or some other form of physical exercise. Physical work and vigorous exercise should be part of your training, and this can be performed just before sittings so your body will be more comfortable and you will appreciate the cooler conditions. Some yoga meditation centers will keep their rooms warmer. They tend to focus more on relaxation than on vigor, although the distinction is not black-and-white, and you’ll find variations among all styles. In the winter I often move to Zhan Zhuang. The cold will not have any negative side-effects on your meditation, not at all. I actually prefer meditating in a cooler place, because I think it helps keep me alert. But when sitting in the cold you should protect the vulnerable areas that can be easily penetrated by cold. When you meditate in the cold make sure to cover your upper back and the back of your neck, up to the base of your skull. This spot is notorious in Chinese Medicine as a place where wind and cold easily enter the body and create sickness. Keep your lower back well protected. Even if you don’t want to wear many layers on the rest of your body, the kidney area just below the ribs should be kept warm and protected against drafts. Although cold may not penetrate as easily there, the repercussions are more serious if it does. I once got a kidney infection by being exposed to the IL winter. When I later learned that this area is seen as the deep energy storage for the body, and its weakness is cold; protecting it became a priority to help prevent the kind of deep exhaustion and illness that otherwise can occur in winter. Cover your knees or wear thicker pants or warmers. The knees are another gateway where cold can enter, and they are connected to the deep storage area around the kidneys. As large joints they also don’t have as much blood supply circulating through them, so the joints themselves become vulnerable to injury. If it’s cold enough to warrant it, you may want to wear a hat, as some monks do. Zhan zhuang standing practice in Qigong can heat your body up very quickly, and can train your ability to allow flow within minutes; and flow means circulation, which means warmth.
Zhàn zhuāng, literally: “standing like a post“, is a training method often practiced by students of neijia (internal kung fu), such as Yiquan, Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Taiji Quan. Zhan Zhuang is sometimes translated Standing-on-stake, Standing Qigong, Standing Like a Tree, Post-standing, Pile-standing, or Pylon Standing. It is commonly called a form of Qigong, despite the differences from other Qigong methods in Zhan zhuang’s orientation.
This is possible within a few weeks or months of standing practice, depending on your body and aptitude. This is useful because when we stay active outdoors; the body adapts to cold. It is even practiced here in the West. We just don’t realize it. By repeatedly exposing the body briefly to deep cold encourages cellular energy generation known as mitochondria activity. You can observe this with lumberjacks, who, may plunge their hands, feet, and face into snow to develop long-term resistance to cold, and some folks do regular plunges in cold baths or even icy lakes.