NEWSLETTER #4
EVO.TEE
EVOLUTIONARY THINKING, EATING AND EXERCISING

16th October 2015
Reading time: 8.30 minutes


Quote of the day:

He or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest but rises the fastest.
— Brené Brown

Thinking - Meditation - to flirt or to commit?

Eating - Debunking Nutritional Advice

Exercising - Embracing being shit!


THINKING

VIPASSANA

Along time ago I heard a story of a male model who became addicted to drugs and alcohol. After 4 years of trying to quit drinking, smoking and drug taking he decided to give meditation a go. He made some progress but soon heard about the grandfather of all meditation courses. The Vipassana.

He summoned up the courage and sent himself off to the retreat. 10 days later he left the course a different man. He finally understood his addictions and no longer needed to smoke, drink or take drugs.

This powerful story was enough to make me visit the website and learn more. I found out that it was ten day course in silence. No talking, no books, no phones, no internet, no writing. It amazed me that some guy could heal his addictions through meditation. But at the time, I didn't feel like I needed it.

Whilst in New Zealand I ended up learning to meditate. After chatting with a few people this grandfather of all retreats came up again. Vipassana. This time, I knew it would benefit me so I booked myself in.

I've just been flicking through my old travel journals. I wanted to see if I could recall my emotions before the course. I’ll share a few thoughts with you now:

“So I ask myself, why am I doing this? I know for sure other people will question me. Why would anyone want to put themselves through this?
Am I searching for something?
Am I doing it to improve myself?
Am I doing it to improve my ability to meditate?
Am I doing it as a challenge to say I’ve done it?
Either way I’m doing it and it’s going to be tough. I've never spent ten days in total isolation before. If all the answers are within, like they say, then I'm sure to find some answers.”

I finished my career in the movie business and took my van for a drive up the North Island of New Zealand. After a few days I arrived at this beautiful centre in the middle of nowhere.

I turned up, registered and sat down in the dining room to chat with some strangers.  Then after formal introductions to the rules we went to the meditation hall to begin the course. This was when the silence began.

I love a challenge, it really fires me up. I was going to need this energy to get me through. I couldn't sit cross legged to save my life and knew sitting all day was going to be tough. As for the mental battle, I didn't know what was to come.

After our first taste of meditation we went to our rooms to sleep. The next morning the bell rang at 4.00 am. Meditation began in the hall or in our room at 4.30-6.30. Then we stopped for breakfast and rest, 6.30-8.00. After, we regrouped to meditate through until lunch, 11.00-1.00 pm. After a tasty lunch and rest we went back to meditate through to 5.00. We then took an hour break for fruit and tea. Then from 6.00-9.00 we meditated and watched an instructional video. Then to bed and straight to sleep.

During each evening's discourse, S.N. Goenka explained what we had been experiencing. His story telling is legendary and this became my favourite part of the day after breakfast and lunch. The way he spoke to us was always with great humour and humility. I felt a frustrated during the day that we weren't given enough guidance. But by the end of the talk I understood what I had just experienced. This was true experiential learning at its best. Experience first, theory and explanation second. It was uncomfortable but the learning was stronger.

The schedule is tough but there’s flexibility throughout the day to meditate in your room or in the hall. At the breaks there is plenty of time to rest, walk and wash. I enjoyed the rhythm and structure of the day. I didn't need to think or decide, I just followed the bell.

The beginning of the course was difficult. I wriggled and fidgeted in my seat non stop. I tried to get comfortable with different elaborate cushion arrangements. But nothing was comfortable. My legs would always get stiff and I would kept changing my posture. But this was part of the learning, a way to see my human nature and our strong desire to seek comfort.

Three times each day everyone sat together for one hour. This included all the volunteers who make the course possible. The old students who serve cook in the kitchens, clean the bathrooms and manage the course. At the halfway point, the three hours became ‘sittings of determination’. The idea was to not to move your arms and legs for the whole hour. Getting to the 40 minute mark wasn't too difficult but after that I felt like every minute was ten.

So far in life, attacking challenges with brute force had proven successful. After I ‘failed’ the first two sittings of determination I got angry. I willed myself through the hour. I knew I could do it, it was just a matter of determination and not moving your legs. In theory it sounds pretty simple but it was anything but. Those last 20 minutes demonstrated to me the power of my subconscious thoughts. And how strong my desire for comfort is. Every second my subconscious mind would say move, move, move! Go on just move, make yourself comfortable. And it took everything inside me to get through the hour without moving. But I did it. Now I knew it was possible the next sittings would be easy.

I was in for a big shock, the next sitting I bowed at about 40 minutes. What happened? I thought I'd mastered it. One minute I was sat still then next minute I’d unfolded my legs. I realised that brute force wasn't the way through this, I need to get through it using the method. A method with acceptance and no force.

The next sitting of determination I experienced the most powerful lesson of my life. Words cannot do justice to something that must be experienced but I'll try to explain. After 45 minutes something changed inside me. Instead of my body and mind trying to run I realised I could just stay there. But only by accepting and inviting in the pain and discomfort. Out of nowhere I felt a blissful serenity in my legs like I could sit for hours. I immediately burst into tears. I guess what had upset me so much was a realisation. My whole life I had been running away from difficulty and discomfort. And it crushed me that all those times where I just given up, were opportunities missed. Opportunities to grow that I had missed. It's true that we don’t know what we are capable of until we're pushed. Necessity is the mother of all invention.

During the course I learnt how to meditate. How to watch my breath and feel sensations in my body. I learnt that all sensations are impermanent. Sensation can seem good or bad, heavy or light, pleasure or pain but in reality they are all sensations. We crave the good and run away from the bad. These behaviours begin as soon as we are born and get stronger throughout life. By meditating it is possible to breakdown these patterns.

There was no way to hide from myself on this course. You sit with your thoughts all day, every day. I got to know myself a lot better by seeing the full spectrum of my emotions. There was no running away or distracting myself. No way to numb feeling with drink, drugs or food. I just sat there, looked at my thoughts and then went back to work. Always returning back to a focused mind. Focused on my breath or the sensations around my body.

The course is pragmatic, non dogmatic, non sectarian. It is just a meditation course and nothing else. There are no special skills required. No need for prior experience. Just turn up and apply yourself. The methods are thousands of years old. They have helped millions of people take control of their minds. Liberating them from their own suffering. The method speaks for itself. If you follow the instructions you will experience the results.


Recently I've been chatting to a few different people about mediation. I will make reference to sitting this long silent retreat and the stock response I've always had is: “I could never do that.” or “I'm not ready for that.” That’s fine I say, but I know you can do it, anyone can do it.

Humans don't like commitment. We like to flirt around the edges and test the water before we dive in. We often say we are not ready for something or say it’s not for us when deep down we know that we're scared. We are running away from the discomfort of potential failure and shame. I don’t say this from a judgemental place, of course this applies to me too. I just want to shine some light on our weaknesses so we overcome them and understand ourselves better.

It’s possible to pick things up by dabbling, doing an hour here or there. But progress will be slow. What happens what we commit 100% to learning something? I think it’s important to flirt a little first. To test the water a little before diving in. It’s no good quitting our job on a whim to go and learn a new trade before we even know if we like it. But at same time committing with 100% is the best way to learn. What I know from my own experiences is the rewards are only delivered after we commit.

Whether it be eating, training, making friends, marriage or a career. Committing to giving our all is what gets results! So once you've test the water get stuck in 100%! Chips all in. What is there to lose?


EATING

NUTRITIONAL ADVICE

This week I wrote a blog on nutritional advice. Some of us know a lot about nutrition and someone of know a little. Then there are those who think they know a lot and those who know there's still a lot to learn. By no means do we fully understand nutrition but there is one thing I have come to understand. The popular, mainstream nutritional advice is not helping. It is not helping us manage our weight and it is not preventing the diseases of ageing.

I hope you'll find this longer article useful.

Click here to read.



MOVING

EMBRACING THE SUCK!

I've heard a few American guys saying this before and think it's worth sharing. But first, let’s change it a little to make it sound more British. How’s embracing being shit?! Yeah that’ll do it.

There can be many things that can get in the way of learning something new. But one thing that gets in the way more than ever is not being able to handle being rubbish at something!

Being rubbish is uncomfortable. Nobody really likes it. But learning to get around this problem could be the key to unlocking a new body.

As soon as we reach a certain age and awareness we hate being rubbish at things. I see it all day long at school when I’m teaching.

Sometimes it’s easy to see keeping fit as a chore. We resent having to do and this is often because we're doing the same old thing. We might restart an old workout regime, picking up where we left off, but soon we get bored of it. Either that or we hit old personal best and our progress plateaus.

To break this cycle I often recommend starting a new sport, hobby or activity. The brains loves novelty and new challenges. It also hates being embarrassed. If we feel like we are rubbish at something this can lead to shame and embarrassment.

So the trick is to embrace being shit. Try to go into a new activity like a child would do. Keen to learn and happy to make mistakes. Getting it wrong is a vital stepping stone to getting it right.

Watching own self talk is crucial. It’s too easy to let our brain run away with itself. So try to intercept any thoughts like, "Oh my god I'm so terrible" and "Why am I so rubbish?" Instead trying to turn them into "I can’t wait to have this mastered." Or "I'm not as good as I want to be right now but I will improve." "I can't be rubbish forever."

Starting something new is also an excellent way to meet someone new. So if you have also wanted to try something then why not get researching. Find a teacher or an exercise class and get stuck in.

Then have some humility and learn to laugh at yourself.

Embrace being shit!


EVO.TEE newsletters are written by a human being prone to making mistakes. I reserve the right to use a series of grammar bad&terrible structure sentence and refuse I do to apologise for it'!{>