Self Improvement

Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World (plan outline)

One of my goals in 2016 is to create a daily mindful meditation practice. In my previous meditation post, Learning to Meditate, I linked to the book’s website providing some free guided meditations. I previously purchased this book as an audiobook and struggled with not having a written outline of the eight week plan for becoming more mindful. So, I took the time today to make an outline of their plan.

If you don’t already have the book, Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World, I recommend that you purchase it. The audiobook is very good and goes into more detail about the how and why of the specific meditations. Also, purchasing the audiobook is the only way to get all of the guided meditations outlined below. Some are available as a free resource on the books website, but not all.

The plan includes “habit releases” with a suggestion in parentheses tailored to my own life.

8 Week Plan Outline

Week 1

  • Meditation 1 (body and breath)
    • Twice each day this week
    • Choose a routine activity and try to become fully aware (eating)
    • Habit release
      • Sit on a different chair at home or at work once this week
      • What did you notice different?

Week 2

  • Meditation 2 (body scan)
    • Twice each day, six out of seven days this week
    • Choose another routine activity and try to become fully aware (showering)
    • Habit release: take a walk for at least 15 minutes at least once (dog walk)

Week 3

  • Meditation 3 (mindful movement)
    • Once each day this week
  • Meditation 4 (breath and body)
    • Immediately following Meditation 3
  • Meditation 8 (3 minute breathing space)
    • Twice a day
  • Habit release: at least once this week, watch or listen only the TV or podcasts that you have actually chosen to watch.Consciously switch off the TV or podcasts in between (Netflix)

Week 4

  • Meditation 5 (sounds and thoughts)
    • Prepare for by listening to Meditation 4 first
    • Twice each day, six out of seven days this week
  • Meditation 8 (3 minute breathing space)
    • Twice a day
  • Habit release: go to the movies and do not pick the movie untill you get there

Week 5

  • Meditation 6 (exploring difficulty)
    • Prepare for by listening to Meditation 4
    • Once a day, six out of seven days this week
  • Meditation 8 (3 minutes breathing space)
    • Twice a day
  • Habit release: sow some seeds (something edible)

Week 6

  • Meditation 7 (befriending)
    • Prepare for by listening to Meditation 4
    • Once a day, six out of seven days this week
  • Meditation 8 (3 minutes breathing space)
    • Twice a day
  • Habit release
    • Random act of kindness
    • Reclaim parts of your life that you thought you had lost (eating well)

Week 7

  • Make a list of activities you do in a typical day
    • Note the things that nourish you and deplete you
    • Decide what changes you might make so that you can do more of the things that nourish you and limit the things that deplete you
  • Choose any two of the guided Meditations
    • Devote 20 to 30 minutes of time for the combined meditations
    • Six out of the seven days this week
  • Meditation 8 (3 minutes breathing space)
    • Twice a day

Week 8

  • Decide on which combination of meditation practices are good for you going forward
    • Time is up to you
    • You can always change
    • Experiment
Self Improvement Work

On Writing Well

It’s currently 15 minutes before I get into bed. I can’t delay the inevitable. That’s one downside of having to count on others to get you into bed. But I haven’t written anything for today. I thought quite a bit about what I might write, but I didn’t take action and actually write anything.

So, I’m writing about my procrastination about writing today’s post. I did a fair bit today, but I did not write until now. That’s disappointing. It’s a daily goal of mine.

I think I need to start writing first thing in the morning. I’m not typically productive first thing in the morning but I am productive after I get the ball rolling.

Implementing this change would also help me avoid wasting time thinking about what I might want to write about. It’s a complete waste of time because the energy in thinking is not acted upon. Thoughts are lost by the time I write. This is also counterproductive to my end game.

I need to make changes that will help me write and articulate a thought in that very moment.

Self Improvement

Learning to Meditate

The first exposure I had to meditation was my sophomore year of college at Northeastern University. My professor started the practice of conducting a guided meditation in her class after having the opportunity to teach on Semester at Sea, where she discovered it. I was fully awake that first time. I blew it off.

One year later, I would find myself on Semester at Sea. In particular, we were visiting a manufacturing plant in India. After lunch, our group was offered a guided meditation. I was fully awake that second time too.

During both of these attempts at meditation, I spent the time questioning myself if I was doing it right. Was everyone else having the same experience I was? It didn’t appear so. Classmates found the exercise extremely enjoyable and relaxing. What was I doing wrong?

My quadriplegia is accompanied by nerve pain in my left arm, always present and sometimes intense. It is akin to burning your skin with fire, without the ability to escape. The reemergence of meditation in my life post disability was out of the need to decrease my pain and lower stress. I was motivated to learn more about meditation and find out what I was doing wrong in years past.

I always had a preconceived notion about meditation. I thought of it as sort of practice where you focus on nothing. I thought the idea of meditation was to block negative thoughts. I have since realized that this is not true, not the form of meditation that I’m learning.

Mindfulness meditation has come to my aid. With it, you acknowledge all of your thoughts and are giving techniques to keep you from dwelling on them. This in turn, creates a calm mind. Oversimplified, of course.

Here is what I have learned about mindfulness meditation.

  • Mindfulness meditation is most alluring to me because it is not connected to any form of religion.
  • I have found using the awareness of breath to be a great technique.
  • Freeing my mind is a simple act of bringing awareness back to my breath or body.
  • 20 minutes is easy.
  • Practicing daily is challenging if you do not have a place that is quiet, where you can meditate uninterrupted (something I hope to fix soon).


I have come across many resources in my never-ending quest to understand mindfulness better and make it a daily practice. If you’re starting fresh, I recommend checking out some of the guided meditations around the awareness of breath. Here are some resources in no particular order.


Self Improvement

Why should I blog?

I’ve always admired Seth Godin’s blog. His stories are succinct. He’s easy to read. I almost always find his posts entertaining or valuable. In a recent interview with Tim Ferris, he noted that everyone should write a blog daily.

I have always wanted to write a blog. In fact, over the past decade I have written a couple dozen blog posts for blogs that I started but never kept up. I believe these past failures were a result of having too rigid of a structure. I’m wiping the slate clean and starting over with a fresh white canvas.

I’m going to start writing about things that interest me. I also want to use blogging as a tool to improve my writing skills. For this reason, I have one rule for this blog; write and post daily.

I have many interests. I love sailing. I love traveling. I love food & wine. I love making things. I enjoy coding (PHP), especially since Laravel reinvigorated my enjoyment of the language. I also enjoy graphic design and creating illustrations.

Most importantly, it’s my hope that my disability brings a unique perspective and experience to the above. I’m a quadriplegic. Life with quadriplegia is a challenge, but also very humorous.

That’s it. That is all I wanted to write for today. Day one.