The last few months I’ve been working with a group of hard charging high achievers and entrepreneurs. Some were concerned about messing up their diet/exercise routine, even though they’re going to an event where they will likely train twice a day and eat performance foods.
Others talk about getting “hangry”(angry because you’re hungry) when an extra hour passes and they don’t get to eat.
There are many events that can rapidly dip your mood and lead to greater emotional instability. Such as walking out and seeing a fresh scratch on your car, or not being able to watch a show when you typically do because of errands.
I get it.
We work so hard to install the routines that will make us a success, we don’t want to mess it up.
I get it.
You work so hard to get that car, to keep it looking good, and some asshole swings their door open and scratches the paint.
In my previous training I’ve done many different exercises to reset your baseline for comfort and emotional stability. When you apply them you get an entirely different frame of reference and thus the range of experiences that fall within your grasp of control increases.
Some of these may sound a bit strange to you, and please consult your Doctor before taking advice from a guy on the internet. I’ll give you a list of things that I’ve done, some benefits you can expect to receive, and what my experience was.
Food Manipulation and Fasting:
In intensive bootcamps we wouldn’t know what the parameters for our diet would be, or when we might eat. Sometimes you’d be encouraged to challenge your beliefs to see how much power they have over you. (Such as a Vegan eating Spaghetti and Meatballs) or eating a food that you really dislike.
If your ability to be happy, and at peace is determined by needing to eat something that pleases your flavor preferences, or aligns with your beliefs there is a great deal of power that we are projecting into outside circumstances. When you do this a few times your rules for life begin to relax dramatically, your emotions are more in your control, and your baseline for what annoys you shifts.
For me, I hate eating Sauerkraut. The texture bothers me, and the smell is really annoying. Yet for one of these challenges I’ve eaten it, and eventually, instead of nails against a chalkboard, I learned to tolerate it and be less dramatic about the food in front of me.
Another example was fasting. During these bootcamps you might not eat for days at a time. There was usually a list of volunteers for “hard mode” and of course I would always sign up for that. You would watch your friends eating while you didn’t partake.
This process eliminates getting hangry, besides having a plethora of health benefits. We become far less dramatic about what we eat, or how much. Our benchmark for when we are “starving” increases dramatically.
Eventually I experimented with Dry Fasting. That is having no food or water for a specific period of time, leading to an acceleration of ketosis and the state of autophagy. There are many myths, like “You die after 3 days no water.” That’s not true by any means. When you prepare properly, it’s easy, and there are some health checks you can do to test along the way if you’re going too far that cost nothing, such as pinching your skin to look for tenting to inspect for true dehydration rather than getting psyched out.
Like all forms of fasting that I’ve tried, you can get headachey at different points, especially when transitioning to Ketosis. After the 72 hour mark, it’s super easy. I experimented with various lengths, starting with 3 or 4 days, and eventually doing 6.5 as my longest. (During which point I was still working, slinging 25lb cases all day, and shoveling snow near 2 feet in depth. I did notice at day 4 my running wasn’t really running, and I felt my skin was very thirsty so showers were pleasant. Other than that, when I went to get a massage after breaking my fast, the therapist commented on how hydrated my skin was and asked what I was doing. (Fasting trains your body to more effectively utilize what you have rather than rely on abundance.)
Needless to say, getting “Hangry” isn’t a thing. There’s no “Needing my coffee” or any of that. Your emotional state loses it’s dependence on these things to a large degree.
We all enjoy entertainment, whether that’s reading a book, playing a little game, watching your show. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, when missing one of these grants you a ticket to an emotional rollercoaster it’s time to pull back a little.
This starts to hint at the addiction we have to entertainment and stimulation. We crave interaction, stimuli. Advertisers, networks, etc invest billions of dollars every year to grab your attention, and clearly, it works. We watch to see if our post got a “like.” We have a free minute so we flip on a video. We reload a page to see if someone replied to our email.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying entertainment, I love podcasts, comedy, action and fantasy movies, a good documentary, music. Not to mention the library I’m sitting in as I type this.
When you have to talk because you’re uncomfortable with silence, when you always have to be singing, or making some kind of sound to avoid feeling still, or finding that space where we’re seeing the things we don’t like..
That’s when we have clear indications that we can do some healing in this area. How do we do this?
What’s fixity? It’s at the heart of Zen practice and other mindful traditions. It is merely when you sit comfortably, look at a spot on the floor 3-4 feet in front of you, and breathe.
Of course, you haven’t done this all of your life, so you’re probably going to experience some difficulty. Your mind will wander. That’s ok. No drama, please don’t be hard on yourself. It’s natural to struggle with things you don’t practice.
You might ask ; “What do I do when my mind wanders?” The answer is simple. Each time you notice you’re not just starting at the dot on the floor, just return to the spot.
With practice you’ll notice that you notice when your mind wanders faster and faster.
Eventually, you’ll notice right away.
As time goes on there will start to be gaps between each distraction, and eventually, there will be no gap.
It takes time, and practice. The more tension you have, the greater emotional turmoil in your life, the more difficult this is. I suggest beginning with 10 minute sessions of practice. In time you can have a longer session each week, or more sessions throughout the day, whatever works for you.
You can expect to be able to be more focused and present throughout your day. When you direct your attention you’ll be more capable of entertaining into flow because your mind won’t wander from thing to thing. You’ll be more at peace. Your loved ones will experience you as more present. You’ll feel more complete, more self-contained. You’ll develop a type of power like you never have before. Your intent will be strengthened.
Here’s my story with fixity: It sucks. Like anyone, I struggled with this big time. When I don’t do it for long periods of time I also feel agitated and want to do other things. But eventually the mind settles. Don’t beat yourself up about it. That just creates more agitation. Just lovingly correct your gaze and return to the spot on the floor. One of my most powerful stories involving fixity was the time I did 4 hours in a row. I had experience with it already, but that was my longest session. (I got up for the bathroom, to stretch out, or have a sip of water, but there was at least an hour between each of these.) After my 4 hour session I felt so present, so at peace, so clear and pure. It was wonderful. Give fixity a try and let it’s benefits work on you.
Sleep is a powerful factor in our health and well-being. But missing some sleep here and there doesn’t have to be dramatic. Our mindset can impact our energy levels dramatically.
In my tradition we would occasionally do “Nights of meditation.”
Basically what this consisted of was, we’d get up at our normal time (Morning sometime). Then Starting at 6pm we would do a prayer/chant/affirmation/mantra for 55 minutes. We would take 5 minutes to stretch out, or use the bathroom. At 7pm we would do fixity for 50 minutes. At 8 we began again with our mantra, at 9, our fixity. We repeated this process all the way to 6am. At 6am, we could eat, talk, etc, and we would stay awake until our normal bedtime.
For awhile many of us were doing one of these each month, on the weekend or a day when we didn’t have to work(for safety.)
Or here and there we would do 2-3 nights of meditation. So for our example, you’d do it Friday-Saturday, Sunday, and begin a normal day on Monday and back to sleep on Monday night. (3 nights was a seasonal thing, at most.)
This totally resets your perception of how much sleep you need, and the relationship between energy and mindset. When you’re tired you drop so much drama, and this promotes a calm vitality.
When I did my 3 night of meditation the first time I felt very tired the first night, a little drowsy the second night, but the third I had boundless energy. I ended up being awake for almost 4 days. I found it completely changed my relationship with sleep. So much so that when I used to be a part of the staff at bootcamps, when I had to help people in my crowd out of 9 days I would average 1-3 hours of sleep a night, maybe 6 hours on Wednesday. I would be focused and absorbed those days because I was serving my mission, accommodating the varied sleep cycles of the people I was helping, etc.
At times on my path I have taken a vow of silence. That means, no communication, no texting, posting, notes, etc.
In a way it was easier at bootcamps where some others were doing the same thing. But it was also difficult in the sense that I often had friends there which I haven’t seen for a while and I wanted to communicate with them.
When on my own in my old apartment, or just picking up basic groceries it wasn’t too bad overall. Just less activity to entertain myself with.
We so want to be heard, to feel significant, important. A vow of silence can help to wake up our feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem so we can work on them. But with the right mindset, will also foster powerful feelings of humility, and desire to listen and understand. We begin to have an appreciation for how powerful saying even a single word or phrase can be.
We start to let go of our need to be heard, or to express to feel satisfied. (That’s not to say that we shouldn’t do these things. But it allows us to feel complete without having to get our say in. We can put others first, listen deeply, without needing to get our comments in.)
We all have pieces of property that we cherish. I have a leather coat that I got from my mom that I love. I also enjoy swords (as a martial artist) and things like this.
When harm comes to our property, such as a scratch to our car, or a memento that’s lost in the fire, we can hurt so bad for the perceived loss of what these things represent.
I encourage taking one item that you cherish (just one) and get rid of it/destroy it. (Don’t donate it, just ruin it so it’s a total loss.)
This can help you to learn to let go of things with less drama. We all lose experiences, whether possessions, relationships, situations. It’s an important skill to learn to let go of it, without drama, continued pain, fighting reality. This is a great way to do that.
To practice, all you have to do is select one of your most cherished items and destroy it, burn it, You should feel the emotions, do the mourning, but don’t tell stories about it it in the trash, etc. So don’t say “Ahhh, but my uncle ted gave that to me, and he worked so hard to get it for me, and now I’m throwing his love in the trash and I have nothing else from him. That’s like saying I hate uncle Ted.”
That story is drama. Release the story, release the fighting, let it go.
In my own experience I used to be extraordinarily sentimental. I knew where every toy, clothing, and trinket came from. Each one represented holidays that my parents worked hard to afford, efforts of loved ones to know me and shop for things that I wouldn’t love. Their destruction was ruined Christmases and forsaken love. I get it.
Eventually I had gotten rid of every possession that meant anything to me, especially the most cherished. But this was my choice. I found that letting go of these things was relatively easy when I wouldn’t attach a story to it, and allowed myself to simply feel to loss. (Now I have some things, though I’m relatively minimalist in my lifestyle.) It helped me to move forward with loss with less drama and more acceptance of the full possibilities of life. This made way for tremendous emotional freedom. You learn to remove stories and deriving any sense of identity from objects.
In my life I’ve done a number of things. I’ve been suspended from a great height(with my old fear of heights), I’ve been under water with no oxygen in my lungs, I’ve been buried (though shallowly with air vent over the mouth), and I’ve walked on burning coals with tongues of fire.
All of these were done under skilled supervision, not just me screwing around solo.
These sorts of things take you outside of your comfort zone, and help you to break through to new levels of belief and possibility.
Walking on fire was fun. Though I got cocky and danced on the coals on one of my trips. Mild burns that healing in the morning though they were tender that night.
Being submerged with no air was difficult because I couldn’t stay down very long due to the lack of oxygen. Many small dips.
The least comfortable for me was being at a height. I climbed to a narrow roof top and looked down for a long period of time before climbing carefully back down. It helped me relax outside of my comfort zone, get rid of the stories, and just be.
Personally I found being buried to be exceedingly pleasant. It almost felt like the dirt was giving me a hug. It was great, I loved it.
I’ve also taken many ice baths, once with 240lbs of ice in a small pool. Usually I just do 10lbs in a bathtub for 10 minutes.
These experiences show you how many limitations are in your head, and just moving through (with caution and supervision in these cases) creates tremendous room for what is possible.
These are some of the many methods that I’ve experienced which helped reset the way I experience and deal with the world. These are all practices that have been used for thousands of years because people have found tremendous benefit.
I encourage you to look at this list, select the first one you want to try (With doctor approval.) and see how it works for you. I’m sure that through sporadically incorporating some of these techniques you’ll become a fuller, braver, more peaceful and strong individual.