Day 1697 & Horror and Vipassana

Day 1694 Record Keeping
Day 1669 Fixed Meditation (3 hours Vipassana while watching horror show)
Day 1543 Writing (6, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1082 Exercise (DID NOT DO
Day 823 Mobility/Stretching (15 min, back, back erector, and shoulder smash, hip stretch)
Day 133 Flossing (All teeth)
Day 121 Monday Groceries

Good sleep. Really depleted and tired today for some reason. Maybe it’s the cold weather…and my lack of warm clothes.

Horror and Vipassana
Over the course of my meditations I’ve tried to practice it in real world situations. But what i’ve found is a good half step is to practice during movies - especially ones designed to draw out tension and awkwardness.

Over the weekend I got sucked into watching The Haunting of Hill House, a Netflix horror series praised for being really good.

I hate horror. I get scared really easily, I get spooked, and usually can’t really sleep well afterwards.

But while using Vipassana to keep a firm hold over my emotions, I was able to not be scared, but more importantly, actually enjoy the series.

In addition to navigating the intensity (I’m not claiming this series was intense, just that movies are designed to cause emotional ups and downs), it was a great challenge with regards to duration. I practice for three episodes today - an hour, then a break, then 2 hours at length. That’s pretty good, and definitely something I think I would have struggled with before.

The fact that I was able to enjoy it is also a great example of finding things that I tend to shirk away from, and using it as an object of meditation. The only way is through, as some meditators say!

Day 1694

Day 1694 Record Keeping
Day 1666 Fixed Meditation (10 min, tantra, vipassana, gratitude, metta)
Day 1540 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1079 Exercise (DID NOT DO
Day 820 Mobility/Stretching (DID NOT DO)
Day 130 Flossing (All teeth)

Good sleep. Very depressed and depleted today.

Day 1693

Day 1693 Record Keeping
Day 1665 Fixed Meditation (40 min = 10 min metta, 10 min vipassana, 10 min mindful scrolling)
Day 1539 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1078 Exercise (DID NOT DO
Day 819 Mobility/Stretching (DID NOT DO)
Day 129 Flossing (All teeth)

Bad sleep. Lots of errands - and super sore.

Day 1692

Day 1692 Record Keeping
Day 1664 Fixed Meditation (30 min = 10 min gratitude, 1o min tantra, 10 min mindful scrolling)
Day 1538 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1077 Exercise (DID NOT DO
Day 818 Mobility/Stretching (DID NOT DO)
Day 128 Flossing (All teeth)

Bad sleep. Lots and lots of errands. Constantly depressed throughout the day.

Day 1691

Day 1691 Record Keeping
Day 1663 Fixed Meditation (45 min = 15 min metta, 15 min vipassana, 15 min gratitude)
Day 1537 Writing (DID NOT DO)
Day 1076 Exercise (3X5 35/45 lb dumbbell clean and press
Day 817 Mobility/Stretching (15 min back & shoulder smash, hip stretch)
Day 127 Flossing (All teeth)

Bad sleep. Decided to finally add weights since I have access to a small gym through my apartment complex. I wanted to do a hard, olympic style, whole body lift to start out with. I settled on a clean and press. It’s hard - I haven’t done olympic style lifts since high school. But it definitely took a lot out of me and felt good.

Later I looked through Becoming a Supple Leopard to add different mobilizations. The shoulder smash was a good addition because I know I’ll have problems with the pressing aspect of the lift. But then I found detailed descriptions of proper form for all of the olympic lifts - this book really just keeps giving!

I’m highly prone to injury and muscle tweaking - reading about the lift and the associated mobilizations made me think I might actually be ahead of the injury prevention game this time around.

Day 1690 & New Negative Formulation for Eating

Day 1690 Record Keeping
Day 1662 Fixed Meditation (45 min = 15 min metta, 15 min selfing, 15 min vipassana)
Day 1536 Writing (DID NOT DO)
Day 1075 Exercise (45 min = 15 min cycling, 15 min walking, 15 min elliptical)

Day 816 Mobility/Stretching (15 min back & back erector smash, hip stretch)
Day 126 Flossing (All teeth)
Day 120 Monday Groceries

Ok sleep. Lots of errands in the morning

New Negative Formulation for Eating

Today I went to the store to do groceries, felt depleted, and when Lydia suggested we stop and get tacos, I just didn’t have the will to say no. We’re pretty good at eating right during the week if we are at home, but during the weekends or when we’re out, we are pretty lax at controlling our urges.

I am currently doing a 90 day no beer challenge (which I intend to write more about later). The project involves counting the number of times urges arise - it uses mindfulness, click training, ritual, and curiosity together to map out the terrain of removing an urge. It’s been going flawlessly, but yesterday I opened the fridge, and right in front of me at the end of the day was a beer. I had almost gotten through the entire day without an urge, but at the very end I was smacked with a strong urge to drink a beer.

I got pissed. I’m close to the end of my 90 days, and I just want the urges to be gone (more to get the full map of the fading of the habit than anything else). However today, upon recalling the scene, I realized that at no point was it possible that I’d actually drink that beer.

That’s amazing.

But what caused that assumption of perfect behavior? I think a big part of the construction of the challenge was the focus on one level further off from the behavior; Instead I’m focusing on urges.

Drawing a frame and distancing oneself from situations is a big part of control in therapy - from anger to food. Even if it’s just an imagined visualization, the distancing pushes you on the outside of the forceful urges that have you acting before thinking. And that got me thinking - why couldn’t I apply this whole method to clean up my eating and take it to the next level?

I usually construct the behavior of eating as “eat right” - and so I’ve initiated a habit, either of doing just or making a weekly meal prep. But in this case it’s more of “choose to eat right and not eat bad”. That’s closer to what click training does - you train an animal to make the right decision rather than do the bad thing. And curiosity holds the line until you get a full topography of the loss of a bad habit, resulting in a locked in behavior.

I still think that having a day where I get all my groceries is a good thing. I also still think having a day where I randomize my dinners is good. It forces a state of affairs where I don’t think at all about my eating choices during most of the week. But that extra bit - the tricky bit where you’re at a restaurant with a friend and you say, screw it, I’m out anyway, why not order a pizza - that’s hard. If anything, it’s more similar to vices you want to get rid of, like smoking, or cutting out beer.

Day 1687

Day 1687 Record Keeping
Day 1659 Fixed Meditation (10 min, vipassana)
Day 1533 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1072 Exercise (DID NOT DO)

Day 813 Mobility/Stretching (DID NOT DO)
Day 123 Flossing (All teeth)

Bad sleep. Lots of errands, decided to take the day off from any exercise due to a bad calf spasm/cramp.

Day 1686

Day 1686 Record Keeping
Day 1658 Fixed Meditation (tantra and gratitude)
Day 1532 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1071 Exercise (1 hour, walking in a park)

Day 812 Mobility/Stretching (15 min, foot smash and stretch, achilles work)
Day 122 Flossing (All teeth)

Ok sleep. Very difficult writing work, walked in a park. Walking outdoors just makes me feel incredibly good.

Day 1685

Day 1685 Record Keeping
Day 1657 Fixed Meditation (10 min, metta, 10 min tantra, 10 min selfing, 10 vipassana)
Day 1531 Writing (3, 13 min Pomodoros)
Day 1070 Exercise (40 min, walking outside)

Day 811 Mobility/Stretching (15 min, foot smash and stretch, achilles work)
Day 121 Flossing (All teeth)

Bad sleep. Better! Amazing meditation.

Day 1680

Day 1680 Record Keeping
Day 1652 Fixed Meditation (DID NOT DO)
Day 1526 Writing (1, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1065 Exercise (15 min walking, 15 min biking, 15 min elliptical)

Day 806 Mobility/Stretching (15 min, anterior and interior shin smash)
Day 116 Flossing (ALL TEETH!)

Bad sleep. Yesterday had an errand that interrupted work and was incredibly sore from the shin smashing, which makes total sense - it was incredibly painful. I have a tendency to get shin splints, which is why running was so difficult when I was obsessed with trying to do long distance running in high school and was in good shape. Now it’s even worse, so I’m trying to work on that tissue. Today I was also sore, but also getting sick.

Day 1678

Day 1678 Record Keeping
Day 1650 Fixed Meditation (10 jhana, 10 gratitude, 10 metta, 10 intro Houston Zen Center sit)
Day 1524 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1063 Exercise (20 min walking/running, 15 min biking, 15 min elliptical)

Day 804 Mobility/Stretching (15 min, anterior and interior shin smash)
Day 114 Flossing (ALL TEETH!)

Bad sleep. Checked out the Houston Zen Center, which is quite close to where I live. They had an intro talk with a 10 min sit.

I’m beginning to think that there is this weird connection with bifurcating habits into small cross trained bits and increases in overall outputs. I understand how that would work - I think I was thinking about increasing habit loads as a matter of willpower when it was more about boredom and attention. When I do one type of cardio for 45 minutes it’s boring and I can’t do it. But when I break it up, it’s new, it’s interesting, much like the Novelty Affect or gamification, it just keeps my attention.

But further than that, it seems to have a system wide impact. I naturally increased mobility and flossing without really intending to. I shall monitor this to see if it continues, but it’s definitely an interesting result, and one that could offer an answer to what I long considered the missing link to my system.

I am curious in the future of really zoning in to the ecology of going from super habit to habit terminus. There really isn’t often that much to go after a tiny habit. Flossing with all teeth vs flossing 4 teeth isn’t that much of a difference. And for meditation or exercise, you really wouldn’t want to do more than 45 minutes or an hour of each. So zooming in to what it feels like increasing output is important, even though I’d be really fumbling as to metrics and even definitions of things like willpower versus attention or energy.

Day 1677

Day 1677 Record Keeping
Day 1649 Fixed Meditation (10 jhana, 10 tantra, 10 vipassana, 10 scrolling, 10 metta)
Day 1523 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1062 Exercise (15 min walking/running, 15 min biking, 15 min elliptical)

Day 803 Mobility/Stretching (15 min, hip stretch, back & foot smash)
Day 113 Flossing (ALL TEETH!)

Good sleep. Incredibly productive day in terms of output. Modulating tasks within habit brackets seems to be working really well, but is it sustainable? Flossed all teeth today, we’ll see if this too is sustainable. If so, it’s very close to my first fully complete habit.

Day 1676

Day 1676 Record Keeping
Day 1648 Fixed Meditation (10 min mindful scrolling, 10 min gratitude, 10 min vipassana)
Day 1522 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1061 Exercise (15 min walking, 15 min biking, 15 min elliptical)

Day 802 Mobility/Stretching (15 min, back & back erector smash)
Day 118 Monday Groceries
Day 112 Flossing (20 teeth)

Good sleep.


Day 1673 Record Keeping
Day 1645 Fixed Meditation (10 min mindful scrolling, 10 min “selfing”, 10 min vipassana)
Day 1519 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1058 Exercise (15 min walking, 15 min biking, 15 min elliptical)

Day 799 Mobility/Stretching (10 min, toe mobilizing)
Day 109 Flossing (20 teeth)

GREAT sleep.

Day 1672

Day 1672 Record Keeping

Day 1644 Fixed Meditation (10 min gratitude, 10 min metta, 10 min vipassana)
Day 1518 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1057 Exercise (15 min walking, 15 min biking, 15 min elliptical)

Day 798 Mobility/Stretching (10 min, foot & back smash)
Day 108 Flossing (20 teeth)

Ok sleep. Last 7 days have been a wash. Very depressed and frustrated. Also been trying to rethink writing. Pushing through has resulted in what I think is a better process for writing, and perhaps a solution to pushing habits.

Day 1665

Day 1665 Record Keeping
Day 1637 Fixed Meditation (DID NOT DO)
Day 1511 Writing (All Day)
Day 1050 Exercise (DID NOT DO)

Day 791 Mobility/Stretching (DID NOT DO)
Day 101 Flossing (20 teeth)

Bad sleep. Spent all day on a writing project. Was tired, stomach upset, but I think it was a good tradeoff.

Day 1664 & A Note on Cross-training Meditation and Exercise

Day 1664 Record Keeping
Day 1636 Fixed Meditation (15 min, applied tantra)
Day 1510 Writing (3, 20 min Pomodoros)
Day 1049 Exercise (15 min, walking/running, 15 min, biking)

Day 790 Mobility/Stretching (10 min, back, back erector smash & hip stretch)
Day 100 Flossing (20 teeth)

Good sleep. Early day with lots of errands. Had to get Lydia to the airport and left at 5:30. Yet, I did all my habits.

A Note on Cross-training Meditation and Exercise

I’ve been really thinking quite a lot about cross training in order to push habits. Normally I think of cross-training in terms of switching up things in a week. One day walk, the next day bike. But I remember when I was attempting body for life several years ago in China, I found that I just got bored, for lack of a better world.

I knew I could bike for an hour, but it wasn’t just boring, it took a lot of effort to will myself through the same movement. But if I changed it up - walking, biking, and the elliptical, suddenly it just felt easier. And I improved - for the first time since high school I began to run.

They say that making any decision drains willpower - in this case it feels like sticking to things despite boredom does as well. In this case, changing things up in a session appears to access something akin to the Novelty Effect.

I noticed the same thing when I was switching things up in meditation in a session. But in this case it again seemed to not only yield longer times with ease, but stronger meditation.

This is something to seriously think about in the basic progress of any habit.

Today in mediation I did another sort of cross training - applying meditation, not just to my normal mental state, but after bringing up negative emotion, and then using tantra to change it. Adding rigor through making training closer to the negative aspects of real life, and ratcheting the base difficulty may be yet another way to push habits.

Whether these methods are enough to raise the base intensity of habits over longer periods of time remains to be seen.