Saturday, November 30, 2013

How to Thrive during Long, Harsh Winters

In Chicago and elsewhere, the winter can be long and harsh. For example, in Chicago, the winter usually lasts from December to mid-April (4.5 months), and sometimes it snows heavily in mid- or late-March. However, you can thrive during winter by doing the following.

1. Embrace winter.

Embrace winter and flow with it. In particular, learn to appreciate the natural beauty of winter (e.g. a snowy landscape) and realize that winter is just another phase in the cycle of life. All living organisms, including Mother Nature, experience birth, growth, decline, and death. It is the natural flow of life. It is the Way.

In addition, realize that nothing lasts forever. Winter will eventually end, and spring and summer will eventually arrive. You will eventually get beautiful spring weather and 80-degree summer beach weather. In the middle of winter, you can even visualize hot summer weather.

Further, keep things in perspective: the winters in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, etc. are much colder, longer, and harsher than are winters in Chicago, New York, London, Berlin, etc.

2. ALWAYS think positively.

This is especially true when you’re facing adversity or even extreme adversity. If it’s mid-March, zero degrees Fahrenheit outside, snowing, icy, and windy, and you’ve already endured 3.5 months of winter, then you can think either positively or negatively about the situation.

You could think, “I HATE this weather. I hate winter. I hate my location. I hate life. Life sucks.”

Alternatively, you could think, “I value and appreciate this weather. It does wake me up instantly when I go outside. Overall, I value and appreciate winter, and I understand its purpose. Overall, I enjoy life.”

If you’re really hardcore, you could think, “I LOVE this weather. It makes me feel truly alive. I love winter. I love life. In fact, winter is my favorite season. I could handle 12 months of winter. I do not need spring, summer, or fall. I do not need a spring break vacation to California or Florida. That would just make me soft.”

It all comes down to your attitude. Winter is difficult only to the extent that you think it is. It is 100% mental. Break through the mental barriers that you impose on yourself.

3. NEVER complain about the weather.

To the extent that you complain to yourself or others, you are cultivating toxic negativity in your own mind and the mind of others.

4. Surround yourself with positive people.

If it’s zero degrees Fahrenheit outside, snowing, icy, and windy but you surround yourself with really positive people, then you will be in pretty good spirits and not mind the weather. However, if you hang around negative people who constantly complain about the weather, then they will only bring you down. So, avoid the whiners and complainers.

5. Meditate daily.

Over time, daily meditation will increase your focus, discipline, awareness, and presence, and it will help relieve stress and anxiety. Please see my previous post, “Zazen Instructions.”

6. Work out consistently.

Working out consistently throughout the winter will help you stay healthy, happy, positive, and productive, and the weather will affect your attitude to a much lesser degree. Who cares that it’s zero degrees Fahrenheit outside when you’re getting stronger and faster in the gym?

In contrast, if you stop working out entirely in the winter, that is probably one of the worst things you can do for your mental health.

7. Stay busy and productive.

If you’re staying busy and productive, you will not have much time to dwell on the weather. Who cares that it’s zero degrees Fahrenheit outside when you’re getting stuff done, improving, progressing, and growing?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Zen Quotations: Part II

More Zen quotations:

“Freeing oneself from the mind is total liberation.” -- Bodhidarma

“Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen.” -- Bodhidarma

“All the fish needs is to get lost in water. All man needs is to get lost in Tao [the Way].” -- Chuang-Tzu

“Life, according to Zen, ought to be lived as a bird flies through the air, or as a fish swims in the water.” -- D.T. Suzuki

"If you have a glass full of liquid you can discourse forever on its qualities, discuss whether it is cold, warm, whether it is really and truly composed of H2O, or mineral water, or saki. Zazen is drinking it." -- Taisen Deshimaru

“When everything is seen as One, we return to the source and stay where we have always been.” -- Seng-t’san

“Zen opens a man’s eyes to the greatest mystery as it is daily and hourly performed; it enlarges the heart to embrace eternity of time and infinity of space in its every palpitation; it makes us live in the world as if walking in the garden of Eden.” -- D.T. Suzuki

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Elite Version of Yourself

At the gym, many people do not return their weights or equipment to the proper place.

This is a matter of degrees: putting away your weights 90% of the time is much better than doing it 10% of the time. Leaving out only a mat is much better than leaving out a mat, a stability ball, three pairs of dumbbells, a kettlebell, and a 315lb barbell.

To the extent that you do not return your weights or equipment, you convey the following attitude: “I don’t care if I make a mess. Someone else will clean it up. It’s not my responsibility.”

This is the same attitude conveyed by those who leave trash on the sidewalk, the street, or someone else’s front lawn.

This attitude is utterly mediocre.

Take responsibility for your actions. Clean up your own mess. Do not expect others to do so.

Consider it self-improvement. Imagine the ELITE version of yourself: the version of yourself that is highly focused, disciplined, motivated, decisive, consistent in action, and positive in terms of self-talk. Further, suppose this elite version of yourself is achieving 100% maximum performance in all areas of your life.

Would that person return his or her equipment to the proper place? Yes. Then do so.

Would that person work out (i.e. do resistance training and cardio) consistently? Yes. Then do so.

Would that person meditate daily or at least weekly? Yes. Then do so.

Would that person eat healthily: meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc.? Yes. Then do so.

Would that person eat or drink junk: soda, candy, cookies, twinkies, brownies, fast food, etc.? No. Then quit doing so.

Would that person drink alcohol excessively, smoke, do illicit drugs, gamble, etc.? No. Then quit doing so.

We can state this principle more generally. If X is a given habit, would the elite version of yourself do X? If so, then do X. If not, then do not do X.

In short, work towards becoming the elite version of yourself. Develop self-mastery.

At the very least, please return your equipment to the proper place.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Static Stretching Routine

I am now selling an e-book that contains my full-body static stretching routines. The e-book includes the following:

  • My short stretching routine, which takes about 5 minutes
  • My medium stretching routine, which takes about 25 minutes
  • My long stretching routine, which takes about 45 minutes
  • A total of 43 stretches. Each stretch includes a photo and a description.

I have personally used all three stretching routines. Currently, I use the medium routine on workout days (post-workout) and sometimes on off-days.

All three routines significantly reduce soreness and improve recovery and flexibility.

The routines work well with virtually any fitness program, including the following:

  • General strength training, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, or bodybuilding
  • Cardiorespiratory training: running, rowing, biking, swimming, rucking
  • CrossFit
  • Military Athlete
  • P90X or P90X2

The e-book is a .pdf file with password protection. You can view it using Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.

Price: $50

The e-book comes with a 30-day refund policy. If you’re not satisfied with the static stretching routine, please email me and I will issue you a refund.

Once you purchase the e-book, I will email you the .pdf file and password within 24-36 hours.

Last revised 10/26/2015