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Mindfulist 1/22: Temporary

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

“We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.” – Vernon Jordan

…I dismiss anything that emphasizes “living forever”. Probably a bad habit.

Of course, the emphasis is on impact. In that case, extremely selfish, damaging people are often remembered for a long, long time.

Pain is a great teacher. “Taking”, on a national level, serves as a great lesson. Often, giving and taking go together in greatness. We learn and move on.

If you hardly know the person involved, it’s likely people won’t notice the “giving”. Or rather, they will take what they can, give lip-service to thanks, and run.

Even family and friends can take this for granted. So value appreciative responses for the rarity that they often are. On a small scale, on an intimate level, this giving is most important. And yet, arguably, we remember the little hurts more.

hugAll pain affects us on a physical level. Emotional pain is reinforced by physical reactions.

I think this quote is wrong.

But: it is indicative of what we must grow towards on a personal level. We need to remember to pay attention to the gifts, and appreciate them and the people who give for their rarity.

We need to move past purely reactionary habits. Giving cultivates and expresses this state.

So pay attention.

Categories: mindfulist

Mindfulist 1/21: Tabs

January 21, 2010 1 comment

How many windows/tabs do you have open right now? How does this impact your attention?

Right now, one.

Occasionally two.

Rarely three. More common now that I use Pandora. I wish I could take it out of a tab.

Never more.

If something is sitting in a potential fourth tab, it’s probably just taking up space. Like a webcomic link I clicked on but haven’t reviewed yet. And if it’s sitting there, I can temporarily bookmark to look at it when I have more time.

I’m detailed enough that if I have that many tabs open at once, I will be attempting to monitor all of them, in perfect detail. And generally succeeding. But of course that’s tiring, and generally not necessary. My preferred workflow is simply more direct.

Even if I’m researching something, probably no more than two or three tabs. A focused back and forth rhythm between reference and searching. I will have taken a note or made a favorite, or incorporated what I needed, and can then move on.

For writing papers: This same process applies. I was an English major. Which means critical analysis of literature. Here are the steps.

  • Write a paragraph.
  • Check something online for five minutes.
  • Come back and rework part of the paragraph or bounce off more of the theme.
  • Break for five.
  • Come back and and tweak the paragraph. Start the next paragraph. Go back and tweak a bit more.
  • Break again.
  • Repeat.

When you fit an average of two or three paragraphs to a page, this is very effective.

  • After an hour or two, break for around 45 minutes.
  • As it happens, Diablo 2 takes right around 45 minutes between checkpoints.
  • A perfect match. Good times.

I could write a standard 4-6 page critical analysis in about five hours this way. I had ideas beforehand, and had quotes flagged, due to reading the book, and class discussion. I would take about an hour to double check and gather all the quotes I needed beforehand, to make sure everything was flagged.

Yes, it was preferable to review again later, but the basic paper would be done. And usually wouldn’t require too much editing.

When I say I rework a paragraph, I mean it. When I bounce away, the ideas are percolating.

Categories: mindfulist

Mindfulist 1/20: Sleep

January 20, 2010 1 comment

How’d you sleep last night? How does the quality of your sleep impact how aware you are throughout your day?

I slept horribly.

I was out a little later than normal, meeting some friends. So, for some reason, I had one of my nights where I’m never sure if I’ve actually fallen asleep.

What’s strange is that I’m relatively rested today. This happens from time to time, after a night like that. It certainly doesn’t work more than than once at a time.

Sometimes, when I’m very tired, people think I’m wired on caffeine. Nope. Tired just makes me weirder.

I often have dreams that are more like hallucinations. I wake up, “knowing” something. Whatever it is. Often an unseen anxiety, or outright fear. I’m awake, and I know something is wrong.

I’ve trained myself to dismiss this in as short a time as possible. To be aware that this kind of situation isn’t real. I have my mind set to override the reactions. Usually that works.

Good old sleep. I’m rarely well-rested.

Categories: mindfulist

Mindfulist 1/16: Yawn

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

“Yawn. It’s one of the best things you can do for your brain.” – Andrew Newburg for Penn Gazette (read the full article)

…well, I am getting rather tired. There will be sleep soon.

Categories: mindfulist

Mindfulist 1/15: Reflect upon your present blessings…

January 16, 2010 5 comments

A-Scanner-Darkly-1…of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have  some.” – Charles Dickens

At the moment, I’m enjoying tea and Philip Dick. This kind of thing keeps me going.

Compassion in isolation. That bit of the human condition is Dick’s playground.

It is so easy to miss what’s right in front of us. Sadly that has become cliché. Many of the most direct and powerful experiential truths come across that way.

Simple to communicate, passé in expression, world-shattering in application.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Just pulling things together in another way.

Dick’s strength is his ability to communicate internal experiences. Directly, without filters. It’s why his stories involving hallucinations come across so strongly. And science fiction trappings allow him to put his characters through situations that, in a realist novel, you would have to dance around. The physical circumstances give direct access to the idea.

As for that, The Man in the High Castle and A Scanner Darkly both communicate this wonderfully without any really necessary sf tricks, beyond their settings.

This is not a review. Just a few thoughts on how they create impact.

Read more…

Categories: Media, mindfulist

Mindfulist 1/14: Breath Quality

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

How are you breathing right now? If the quality of your life depends on the quality of your breath, how’s yours?

And as the waters close over and I sink below

breathe out, breathe in.  – Waiting, Babalon

 

Categories: mindfulist

Mindfulist 1/13: Minimalist Computer

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Take a few minutes today to create a minimalist computer experience for yourself. (Click participate for a link with further advice on how to do so.)

Yeah, I may implement some of these ideas, but I don’t have all that much that needs organizing on my desktop besides a couple random photos.

But here’s my current wallpaper. Shot by a good friend of mine. You can find her photography at Flickr and Model Mayhem.

stephasylum

Categories: mindfulist, photography