Meditation Evolved, a Musing into new methods and techniques: Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

As I’ve drafted this article, I’ve thought about what I want to cover and how I want to cover it. I’ve written about meditation in the past, an article covering 9 months of meditation and my thoughts on making it a regular practice.

With the Pandemic this last year, I set a goal to meditate consecutively for an entire year, a goal that I will have reached as of publishing this article. This year I wanted to dive deeper into my practice and go beyond simply taking time out of each day to inhale and exhale.

In college, I meditated sporadically whenever I was feeling stressed as a way to cope beyond journaling and exercise. It felt like a missing piece to a puzzle that I couldn’t quite solve. 5 minutes a day was not a long time and time I gladly spared to slow life down and breathe.

Since 2019, I’ve suffered from terrible anxiety. Panic attacks that led to me freezing and the cause as of yet, I do not know. And then, the Pandemic hit. My stress was through the roof, so I decided to try meditation again and this time see what could be with daily practice. 5 minutes became 10 minutes and 10 minutes became 20 with seemingly no fuss dedicating the extra time to just be with myself. I’ve tried 30 minutes based off of studies but 20 minutes is adequate for most of my needs.

I feel better and my anxiety, to my knowledge, is lessened. There are breathing techniques to calm to help with sleep and there are others that help manage anxiety and ultimately dispel it altogether. Whenever I’m stressed, I tell myself to breathe.

At the moment, I’m currently exploring the lessons on Headspace, craving knowledge of what meditation can be. Headspace recently released a Netflix special and it helped quantify and refine my methods.

For the first time in my life this last year, I’ve started having conversations about meditation with my friends, having previously thought I was relatively unique in the interest. While my friends are new to meditation, I’m happy to see that mental health is becoming a topic at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

A couple weeks ago, I finally reached the 365 day milestone, solidifying meditation as the longest continuous habit I have ever done. A year of my life spent, breathing and learning, it honestly feels great.

My life at the moment is extremely chaotic. My mood shifts from hope to despair from day to day and my anxiety prevents a lot of the complex goals I’ve set for myself from being completed. I’ve started running again but meditation has proven the strongest for calming myself. This May, take time for yourself and remember to breathe. The world is in chaos, so it’s imperative that we slow it down for ourselves. Look inward and start with 5 minutes. Listen to the sounds around you and simply note thoughts that arise. This is the year for looking inward.

30 days to rule them all

So we’re stuck inside and even the strongest among us can’t self isolate forever. I’ve been in my house for almost 60 days. I went from going out every weekend to building a Utopian society in Animal Crossing. First 30 days were fine and were treated as a much needed vacation. The last 30 days? Not terrible. 90 days? God help us (But we’re not there, yet…). I have a stockpile of books and games, so it’ll take a long while to get through those. But those are only to keep me busy should I get bored.

So thus, begins my habit forming challenges. The other day I hit my 15th day streak on Playne, a meditation video game. I have an in-game fire that will go out if I miss a day. It is now my sole mission to keep that fire alive. The game itself is fun, I’ve learned a couple different techniques outside of what I learned when I did 9 months of “freestyle” meditation. I also now meditate within a range to help with motivation. If I’m feeling like I don’t have the time (during the middle of a Pandemic) I can do 5 minutes of quick breathing exercises. If I’m extremely stressed, I can do 30 minutes of writing words on paper (or in this case, actually typing in game!). All in all, I’m excited to hit day 30 and then beyond. I’m going to hold myself to at least a year of continuous meditation. Duolingo I’ll hit a two week streak as of today (which is now yesterday, because writing can take a while); I also just started coding through Codecademy. I’ve been coding off and on throughout my life, and I’ve always regretted not hunkering down to learn and fully understand it. I loved lego robotics when I was younger but my life since then has taken a very different path. As I gear up for a Masters in Analytics, I want that to change. I’ll need to know Python and SQL, so I figured now would be the perfect time to learn. 30 days to form the habit, then I’m curious to try the 100 days of code challenge going around. It took a while to find a site that worked for me, but I really enjoy the format of Codecademy from the couple days I’ve done of the free trial.

Full disclaimer, I rounded up; “21 days to rule them all” just doesn’t have as nice a ring to it and honestly, I like giving myself a buffer since I’ve been such a failure at forming habits in the past. So really, it’s just 21 days with 9 bonus days. Now that I’m close to the 21 day mark, I can speak a little more to observations I made at the beginning of the challenge. First couple days were tough. What I decided to do was phased habit iteration. I started with meditation as a base habit I wanted to form and then after a couple days I introduced Language learning, and now coding. In addition, I have tried to make a consistent habit of working out. In fact, let’s transition over to talking about my workout routine during the Pandemic.

There are typically two approaches to working out; structured or integrated. Structured workouts are typically a routine that involve high amounts of discipline and might involve running the same route every day and going to the gym to work out. This works great if you have extraordinary willpower. For everyone else, it is the reason you stop and start working out over and over again. Over the last couple years, I have gone with an integrated approach to working out. What this means is, exercise is integrated as part of your lifestyle and is not a separate activity. My first task was to make exercise fun. This is where most people stop. What I decided to do was to start bouldering; I got a discount through work and started making an effort to go every weekend. The second aspect was making it a goal to go outside once a week, once I started taking public transit, this became much easier (also shout out to Pokemon Go). And the third was to make sure I could work out at home but in a way that didn’t feel forced. So, I bought Ring Fit Adventure. Video Games have never disappointed and ring fit has been no different; it solved the motivation aspect of working out at home. Enough of a workout to break a sweat each time, after 15 days I can say I am more motivated to workout. It also has a resistance building mode I can do while watching TV, which is helping me find new ways to exercise casually. Eventually I can add on more to my workout routine but as long as I have a foundation to come back to, I should be good to go.


And that’s it! This Mental Health Awareness month I wanted to try a slightly different approach As I’ve already gone with the dark and gritty (but beautifully vulnerable). I have a couple more articles planned for the month but those need to go through the editing process (which goes a lot faster when I’m not trying to readjust my sleep schedule). So far the blog has been doing extremely well this year and I’m looking to make this the best year yet! Last year was slow but my goal for this year will be a post every two weeks. It’s what I’ve found to be manageable and I don’t want to get burnt out doing too much at once. As a reminder, if you like my content, please consider leaving a like, follow, and sharing the article among your friends! I also love responding to comments! So far, the response this year has been stellar and the blog is growing, which makes me very excited. If you want to support me as a creator, feel free to donate via Ko-fi or my Patreon. Every dollar helps, especially since I currently don’t have a 9 to 5 job right now!

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A Quick Guide to Discovering Your Passions

So college. A time of pure chaos. You’re either built or broken. Some graduate, some don’t. Old friendships die, new relationships prosper. Scary to think about, that college is a gate to a better tomorrow. But as I’ve found in 4 years, college is very much what you make of it. No other time in your life will you have the opportunity to create your identity, so it’s a shame when people reach their senior year and look back only to realize what they missed. People become obsessed with what they didn’t do rather than what they’ve done. So what’s a great way to ensure you do the most with the time that you have? Well the “simple” answer is to find out what you’re passionate about. Yet I’m in college and many have spent a lifetime trying to figure it out. So here are my thoughts:

  1. Do as much as you can while you can – You see an opportunity? Seize it. Don’t let it pass you by. If you end up hating the opportunity you’re given, take it as a learning experience and as a way to figure out what you don’t want to do.
  2. Keep a mental checklist of what you enjoy – No, it doesn’t have to start with the passion! Trust your gut, if you love picking up garbage, take a note. Once you have a good list of what you’re involved with, what you enjoy, sit down and take the time to reflect and find common themes.
  3. Don’t let others influence what you enjoy – If you like playing video games, great! If someone says it’s a waste of time, does it really matter? That’s their opinion and your experience shouldn’t be dependent on what they say. I, for example, am a comic book geek among many things. If you mention super heroes, I’ll light up and go on and on about it. Embrace every aspect of yourself and try to pull the good from the “bad”!
  4. Go with the flow – Be open to new experiences! Don’t say no, start saying yes! You never know what you might enjoy until you try it! So be brave and try to think “This didn’t happen as expected, but it ended up being better than expected”! You don’t have to enjoy every aspect of the adventures you go on, but do your best to pick out pieces of the experience you enjoyed. This will help narrow the search!
  5. Build Genuine relationships with others – Surprise! This may seem out there but it’s true! Make true, genuine friends. Questions you should be asking yourself: “Who do I hang out with?”, “Why do I hang out with this people?” and “How do my friends make me feel?”. The whole is better than the sum of the parts! ┬áDon’t forget to ask your friends about their passions as well!

So there you have it! My five tips on how to discover your passions! Hope it helps and thanks for reading!

Question of the week: would you become “limitless”

So, this is an interesting idea. I first got the idea from watching the movie limitless and thought the idea of overclocking your mind was so awesome. Who wouldn’t want to be the best version of themselves and more than extraordinary? Well, as it turns out, apparently there’s an FDA approved drug called addium that was banned for three years due to ethical concerns but is now being sold online. From what I’ve read, there are no side effects and it clears the mental fog that you can have whether that be from lack of sleep or what have you. It in a sense, makes you super human. Of course, I’m going to wait a bit and see if this actually works (The article I read was from CNN) but regardless, the idea remains. And my answer is Heck yea. I wouldn’t consider it cheating assuming it’s cheap and available to all, I equate it to the difference between people taking vitamins; those who do are much better off but those who don’t are still fine. Of Course, this is much bigger than taking a vitamin but it’s the same concept in principle.So what would you do? Thanks for reading and have a good one!