Food: What It Can Teach Us.

Food, the way it is prepared, and eaten can teach us many things.  First it can teach us the differences in people, and how that is not a bad thing.  People can be divided into two groups, when it comes to food.  You are either a foodie, or a non-foodie. The difference is easy to define.  A foodie lives to eat, and a non-foodie eats to live. The easies way to find a foodie, is to turn to any show on the Food Network, or the Cooking Channel. These people love to cook, and consume food.  They like to find new places to eat food, and find new ways to prepare food. They are enthusiastic eaters, and when  they are eating will use  words like, heaven, oh my God, and so good.  The non-foodie will eat, and enjoy certain foods, but will not go to any great means, to find unusual ways to prepare, and eat food.  Even though, there is a distinct difference, between these 2 groups, they all seem to get along.  No one, seems to discriminate against one group, over the other, when it comes to jobs, civil rights, and opportunities. The foodies and non-foodies seem to be fine with each other, despite their distinct differences.

Food can show how unique you are.  We all have foods, that on the whole, are good for the general populous, that can just, not make us feel good.  Mine is tomato juice.  About 12 hours after drinking tomato juice I will get a splitting headache.  My daughter can not eat broccoli. Then, there is the more serious allergic reactions, that some people develop to certain foods.   It tells you, that you are a totally unique person, and that is not bad.  You want to cultivate that uniqueness, into something special. You never want to worry about being a little different, than the “regular people”.  You are that one special person, with your own hopes and dreams, that only you can accomplish.

Food can teach you compromise.   The best example of this is microwave popcorn.  The compromise is between unpopped  kernels, and burned popcorn.   You do not want too many unpopped kernels, but if you try too hard to pop all the kernels, then the popcorn will burn.  I once, had someone tell me, they liked burnt popcorn.  This person turned out to be an idiot. For those of  us, of at least average intelligence, the goal is to pop as many kernels, without that awful burnt smell, when the bag is opened.

Food can teach you when to be creative, and when to have discipline.   When you are cooking food, that is the time, to let the creative juices flow.  When baking, you better have the discipline to following the recipe exactly.  You might be creative in finding a unique way to bake cookies, pies, and cakes, but you  better remember exactly what you did, or the next time will be a disaster. In cooking, when I make sauces, dips, and rubs I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. When the sauce, dip, or rub, really turns out well, and someone wants to know what I put in it, not only do I not the amount, but many times, I don’t remember all the ingredients.  In my view, that is the fun of it, just wing it. I do not do this, when I bake chocolate chip cookies.

Food can teach us to plan.  Planning what you are going to cook and eat for the week is a great way to learn how to plan other activities.  Planning your meals for the week can help you eat healthier and help your budget.  Plan on some left overs, which you can prepare in different ways from the original meal. You can get into your creative mode again.

Food helps you to get to know yourself, by listening to your body, on how it responds to certain foods, and cuisines.  This goes beyond the more severe reactions, we discussed earlier. Start to pay attention to how you feel, after you eat.  You should feel better than when you started.  Things that can make you off, after you eat, maybe related to waiting too long to eat.  There may be a certain food, that you can tell is difficult for you to digest, or just doesn’t make you feel right.  By paying attention to such things, you can improve your abilities in any endeavor you are doing.  You may sleep better, and be more relaxed by eating foods, that only make you feel good.

Finally, food is a great way to try new things.  Not much of a negative can happen to you, by eating something you have never tried before.  Being more adventuresome in the food world, may spread to other aspects of your life.  Getting use to trying new cuisines, may make your life a little more fulfilled. Even though we need food to survive, food is there to give us so much more.  Try to eat more mindfully, and enjoy every bite, by appreciating what all that good food can really do, to make your life better.

Meditation: Monotony

I returned from San Diego on  March 16th after visiting with my daughter’s family. Of course, I have not seen my grandkids since that time. We Facetime, which is great, but certainly, it is not the same thing, as seeing them in person.  The definition of monotony is, lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine. The sentence they used as an example was, “you can become resigned to the monotony of captivity”.  I am sure many people are feeling like captives, during this current pandemic.  We are heading into the sixth month of the Covid 19 crisis.  What is worse, is there seems to be no end in sight.  For whatever reason, people just do not seem to see the seriousness of the situation.  You can blame the President on all his misinformation that has come out of his press conferences, but don’t people have some sort of basic intelligence to see the gravity of situation, apparently not.  Let’s break down the bare facts of our captivity and see if there is anything we can do about it, but I would not be optimistic.

First, we are being held captive by a corona virus, plain and simple.  This is not the flu. The corona virus has been around for a long time, in different forms and is found in almost any animal. There is a corona virus unique to cats, that causes a disease, Feline Infectious Peritonitis.  Many characteristics of this disease are similar to Covid 19.  When cats acquire this virus, most cats have fairly mild symptoms of diarrhea, or no symptoms at all.  However,  5 to 10% of cats infected will  develop a disease, that attacks multiple  organ systems, and results in the cats dying.   They die, because their immune system over reacts to the virus, which causes an extreme inflammatory reaction, that destroys the organs. Does that sound a little familiar of what’s going on when people die of Covid 19?  Corona viruses have this ability to mutate into something much more serious, in any species. Google Feline Infectious Peritonitis if you want to learn more.   The whole point of this, is to emphasize the importance of trying to stop the current virus, not matter what the cost, so it does not have a chance to mutate into something even more serious. If  we are going to escape from this prison, we are going to need to step back and relock up, until the cases start to significantly drop.  Unfortunately we are not going to do that, at this point.  We are going to have to learn how to cope with monotony, because for now there does not seem to an end in sight.

How do we do this?  There is no secret here.  You will  have to emphasize all the things that make life work, except more so. Count your blessing, and appreciate every good thing in your life.  Especially appreciate your good health.   If health is an issue in your life, at this moment, then now is the time to start getting better.  Find joy in the little things in life.  Enjoying another persons companionship, good food, a nice walk, and a warm and sunny day are ways to make monotony tolerable.  Continue to look inside and dig deeper during meditation and times of quiet.  Realized that some day this will all come to an end.  It may not come as quickly as it should,  but it will end. Meanwhile continue to hunker down, pray that all your loved ones, and everybody can stay safe, until common sense prevails. Then, we will start to do the things that will free us from the confinements of the corona virus.

Golf: Muscle Memory?

Well, this post turned out to be more interesting than I ever anticipated. My purpose of looking into muscle memory, was to debunk a lot of practice recommendations, regarding muscle memory, since I am down on practice.  I knew there was always a lot of debate on muscle memory, whether it existed or not.  When I began to research muscle memory, I had no idea, I would be reading about zombies, weight lifting, and that it does exist, but not in the way we thought.  Even though the definition of muscle memory has changed, they still call it muscle memory.  It is like calling tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, vegetables, when they are really fruits.  Everybody is fine with it, so who cares.  Let’s forget about golf for a moment, I know it is hard to do, and just look at muscle memory in general.

The way muscle memory use to be thought about, was the more you performed a task or movement, the better you performed that movement.  This was called muscle memory.  This is really brain memory.  It is memorized motor nerve impulses sent to the muscles, to perform a certain task. The more you send these impulses, the better the muscle performs.  I will let science take over here.” Muscle memory is a type of procedural memory. However, the name of this particular phenomenon is a bit of a misnomer. Although it includes the word ‘muscle’, the memory center actually lies in the brain, not in the muscles. When we repeat an action over and over again, it gets transferred from our short-term memory to our long-term storage. In the beginning, our brain is more actively working to perform the task, but as we practice or repeat it, over time, our brain needs to pay less attention to successfully perform that task. Another way that some people express the concept of muscle memory is with the term ‘zombie agents’. Some researchers use this term to refer to agents in our brain that can carry out a particular task without us being aware of it, and without any application of judgement. For instance, imagine that you drive to your workplace every day. One evening, you need to go out for a social commitment and take your car, but something is on your mind, keeping you distracted. By the time you realize what you’ve done, you have started to drive your car on the usual route to work! Keep in mind that the muscle memory at play here is not just about remembering the route, but also the act of driving the car. You will honk when necessary, change lanes, speed up and slow down, but you still may not realize that you’re going to the wrong place. This example aptly shows just how efficient muscle memory can be’. I knew it was due to zombies why my golf game stinks.

So, if the muscle memory of performance is a brain function what do muscles remember. Again we turn to science. ” Muscles that have been trained before, find it easier to get back to a trained state than untrained muscles building up for the first time. The reason for this lies in epigenetic changes that happen at the level of each individual cell. Specific sites on each cell are responsible for muscle growth and an increase in strength. When muscles stop training there is a slow at first and then faster decline of muscle size and strength but the genes responsible for muscle growth do not go away. Muscles do have a memory of their former fitness and strength encoded in their genes and it allows them to rebuild that strength faster when they lose it.” Even though the strength of the muscle goes away from lack of use, there are still parts of the muscle that “remember” how to get strong again  faster than the first time.   Now, lets get back to golf to see if we can apply any of this, to our golf games.

The good news here, is once you get muscles in golf shape, they will stay that way, and be easier to get back in shape for a new season. Swinging a golf club every day, without hitting a ball, will help keep those muscles in shape.  The brain is still in charge of improving your golf game and golf swing.  Some other things I learned, while reading about muscle memory.  Your golf muscles will not decline until after 2 weeks of non-usage.  You will learn faster, if you allow at least a 6 hour gap between each new change of your swing.  No matter how many swing changes you think you need to do, don’t do more than one at every range session.  The bad news is the brain side of muscle memory, can slow the process of making swing changes, by ingraining  bad swing habits, if you continue to do them. This may explain why students have problems making the proper swing movements, because the bad ones are so ingrained.  This explains, in my view, why the inability to aim is so prevalent in the game.  Our muscles as it turns out, are very much like ourselves, as they do remember how good they use to be.  But unlike us, they can get back to their former selves much easier. Remember, true improvement in golf, must come from the brain, just like everything else.

 

Golf: Stories, The 60’s Part II

The 60’s would be the decade of playing golf with my father, most of time.  Little did I know, it would be the last decade of playing golf with my father.  For some reason, he quit playing the game. That may have been partly due to  the fact, that I did not play much golf in the 70’s, and for the first half of the 80’s, but that is for another blog.  As I wrote in the previous blog, we played only on the weekends, in the early part of the 60’s, and the course was always crowded.  One of the things my Dad  did, when we had to wait on the tee box, for the group to clear, was to look for golf tees.  I still do this today, walking around the tee box looking for tees, just as a reminder, of  how much I enjoyed playing with my father.  The man was my one and only mentor.  I went to school for twenty years of my life, but I can honestly say, I learned more from my father, than any other person I was ever around.  He died in February 1999, at the age of 83, and the memories still live on, and I  see him in my mind many times.  The rounds we had together were great and so enjoyable, that even though they were very competitive, I do not recall the first time I beat my Dad for 18 holes.  Certainly as the decade ended I was beating him on a regular basis.  There were lot’s of good times and golf would always give us something to laugh and talk about.

Every once in awhile, my Dad and I would play some evening golf, arriving at the golf course about 5 to 6 o clock.  Most of time the first tee would be empty, and we would get around with no problem. This particular Saturday was no exception, and the tee box was empty when we went in to pay.  The first hole was a straight away par 4, that went uphill a little bit, about 200 yards out, and then flattened out about 120 yards from the green. When we got down to the first tee, it seemed like there was a lot of people, about 50 yards short of the green.  They were out of range, so we hit our drives.  We walked out to our drives, and it was quite an entourage that was on the first green.  But the one thing that really caught our eye, was a baby carriage right on the green. We stopped counting  when we got to 10 people  on the green.  When they brought out the movie camera, and started taking pictures of everybody, that was too much for my Dad.  He just looked at me, and told me to pick up my ball, we were heading for the second tee. It was the first and only hole, he ever skipped in his life.   Sometimes, my mother would just walk the course when we played in the evening.  By the 8th tee was a picnic area.  In the evening there would be guys playing volleyball, and of course drinking and eating, but mostly drinking.  These games could get a little intense, and there was always a lot of yelling and screaming, while you were hitting your tee shot on this long par 3, of over 200 yards.  One evening the combination of intensity and drinking, probably got carried away, because as we were getting ready to hit, there was more screaming, than yelling, then it got suddenly quiet.  The quiet made us look over to the volleyball game. Then the yelling and screaming became more intense.   Here, one player had stabbed another one, right in the belly.  I think it was only superficial, but the panic was deep. The guy that was stabbed, was bleeding pretty good, but they used somebodies T shirt to put pressure on the wound, and the game came to an abrupt end, with everyone hauling ass to their cars.  My mother looked at me as said” Please, Bobby stick to golf.”  We didn’t see a volleyball game there for awhile.  Another time in the late 60’s, my buddy and I were playing on a Sunday and we got to the 7th hole. These two guys came up to us, and just wanted to play this hole, so they could get to the food behind the 8th tee.  We said sure, since play was slow anyway, due to the outing. The first guy was what I call, a feeling good drunk.  In other words, he was loosie goosy, and he could swing the club, and hit the ball.  The second guy was gone drunk, which meant he could barely stand and walk.  After several failed attempts at trying to hit the ball, he just started the long walk of 568 yards, to get to the picnic area.   About half way there, he just whipped it out, and started urinating right down the middle of the  fairway, as he was  walking, with most of the urine going down his leg and pants.  When we got to the 8th tee finally, there was a big delay as usual, and they allowed us to go over a get a sandwich, to show their appreciation.     The seventh hole, the par 5 would give one more unique story.  We were playing with this guy who had joined us, and again because of slow play, he  was debating whether  to quit after the 6th hole, because the green was not  far from the clubhouse, about 150 yards.   He first said, he was just going to hit a drive, and walk in.   He hit such a good drive, by far the best of the day, he said he couldn’t end the day like that.  Low and behold, he hit a great  2ond shot right up on the green, and would be putting for an eagle.  He then proceeded to 5 putt.  Without much fanfare he picked the ball out of the hole, said good bye, and walked  about 600 yards to the parking lot. Never let you golf shots, affect your decision making process.

In the 60’s there would be two shots that I would always remember.  My first hole in one that was struck with a 7 iron on the par 3 second on July 31, 1968.  It hit about 10 yards short of the green on a rock hard fairway, and took 2 big hops, and then on  the third hop hit the pin, which I heard all the way back at the tee box, and disappeared.  The other shot I will always remember was just strange and more unlikely than the hole in one.  On the par 3 sixth hole at Mazeroski’s,  I hit this beautiful high 6 iron, and was watching it intently, thinking this was going to be a good shot, when suddenly, the ball collided with a bird, and both dropped from the sky, with the bird being killed. I do not remember what kind of bird it was, only that it was killed with a golf ball.  Believe it or not, this would not be the last time, I would see an animal killed with a golf ball.  I would finish the decade getting my first taste of competitive golf, but it would not be until the 70’s, that I would do anything competitively worth writing about.  As I mentioned before, the 6th green was fairly close to the clubhouse, and it was nice, that as darkness approached,  you could get in that extra 6 holes.  One day I was playing the 6th hole, and I could see that there were some pretty good storm clouds, moving in.  By the time I was putting out, there was thunder in the background and the wind was blowing.  I started running toward the clubhouse, that was about 150 yards away.   I was running pretty hard, with the golf bag over my shoulder, and getting a little winded, as I approach the first tee, where I was going to have to run uphill.  I was slowing down, thinking I was pretty safe, when a bolt of lightening hit a tree about 200 yards to my right.  Needless to say I got an adrenalin rush, that gave me that new surge to run my ass off, the remaining 50 yards to the clubhouse.  If I had been dumb enough to continue playing, there may never have been any 70’s stories.

Meditation: What Would You Do?

George Floyd was killed on May 25, at approximately 8:30 pm, when arrested by the Minneapolis police, for passing a  counterfeit 20 dollar bill, at a market.  Police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which included one minute after an ambulance had arrived. There were three other officers involved. The death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police has sparked massive protest across the United States and the world.  These protest helped lead to the arrest of all four officers, when at first it looked like they would only lose their jobs. In many cases, protest became violent with  businesses looted and vandalized. The protests are still going strong 12 days after Mr. Floyd’s death. This blog is not about the protests and what they may or may not accomplish.  The blog is not about the police, and the government response to the protests. This blog is about what would you do if you saw your loved one die like George Floyd.

What would you do, if saw your son or daughter die on video, where a policeman kneeled on their neck for 8 min and 46 secs, while they said many times I can’t breath, and pleaded for their life. What would you do if you saw your wife or significant other die with a policeman’s knee on their neck for 8 min. and 46 secs. Think about  8 min. and 46 secs. and how long of a time that is. Sit and just stare at a clock for 8 min. and 46 secs.  Then imagine  putting your knee on someone’s neck for that amount of time. Then imagine a loved one dying , for a minor non violent crime, and you watching the entire incident on video.   Then, following this horrific incident, the only thing that was done, is that this policeman, and the other officers involved, only lost their jobs.  What would you do?  I know what I would do.  I am not about to put what I would do in print, but it is something that every person needs to think about. It is an inward look to your deepest soul. It is an inward look to your deepest being.  There is no way you can prepare yourself, for such an incident.  However, it is highly unlikely that you will ever have to face such a horrific scene. It is a scene, that the family of George Floyd is facing right now, this very moment.  Will the death of George Floyd help prevent this form happening again?  Your guess is as good as mine, and quite frankly I have no idea. We are the most violent country in the world, with no end in sight.  Maybe this might end the violence, at the hands of the police. If it doesn’t, then you might have to answer that question, what would I do?

Meditation: Normal

Normal is a word, we have been hearing a lot of lately.  Can’t wait until things get back to normal.  What will the new normal look like?  Will we ever get back to normal?  Normal is defined as, conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. Most reporting in the media is optimistic, that we will return to some kind of normalcy.  The way things have gone lately, that seems hard to believe.  We seem to be in a never ending spiral of flattening the curve, with little reduction in the number of cases, on a day to day basis.  In fact, it is rather freaky, how each day, seems to be about the same, in each state, on the number of cases per day. In the 22 days of May, there have been 17 days, where the new cases have totaled between 20 and 26 thousand per day, in the United States.   Three days, there were over 26,000 cases, but two of those were the first two days of May.  There have been 2 days under 20,000 cases with last one being May 17th.  For 17 out of 20 days, the new cases have not varied by more than  2 to 3 thousand per day in the entire country. There are 18 states where the number of cases are decreasing but 4 of those states were some of the hardest hit, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.   There are 8 states that the cases are increasing.  People keep talking about a vaccine, but even the most optimistic estimates are at the first of the year, and that’s with no set backs.  How likely do you think that is, when trying to make a vaccine for a disease, that we don’t totally understand, yet. So what are the chances of seeing a normal life in 2020?

I would say slim and none.  That does not mean, that we will not be doing a little more than we are doing now, but for this year, this is what I think will not return. Fans in the stands.  Team sports, if they are played at all this year, will be in empty stadiums.  Restaurants will not even be close to normal, if they even  open at all.   Waiters with masks on, my appetite is disappearing as I type.   Youth sports  are done for this year.  Mall shopping will be at 20% volume.  Air travel will be lucky to be at 30% capacity, especially since they showed how irresponsible they have been, by packing planes and risking people’s lives.  Hotels and motels with be no better.  Travel in general, will be way down, for the entire year.  Jobs will be non existent, in the above areas.   Staying at home, and having a good time with known friends and family, will be the new normal.  Hopefully, there will be some live sports to watch on television.  In nice weather, there will be some outside dining to be enjoyed. But life as we have known it, is officially gone. Get use to it.  Make the best of it.  Wear a mask if you go into a place of business.  Maybe summer will help in defeating the virus. I think there is more of a chance of a treatment than a vaccine that may help get us back to our previous life.  There is only one thing certain at this point and that is the virus is ruling the country for the next 7 months.

For now, meditate and be appreciative for what you have.  Good health, and well being, and hope that the people closest to you, stay healthy.  Even with this new normal, life can be good.  There is joy, in just being outside, and breathing some clean air, and the air is a lot cleaner, since everybody has had to stay home. People will have to adapt, and find a new way to make a living, in many cases.  This pandemic has and will make life difficult for the next  12 to 24 months guaranteed. The great depression lasted 11 years and we have people now, that can not or will not shelter in place for 3 months, for the health and safety of the nation.  Normal now, will be sacrifice and suffering both economically and medically and there is nothing that can be done about it.  It’s time to buckle in and hang on, and hope that things don’t  get worse.  For now, the virus is the new normal but hopefully not super long.  Take a deep breath.

Meditation: Patience

Patience is defined, as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. There are three different situations, where patience has to be applied.  You need patience with yourself.  Sometimes, you will need to have patience with love ones, close acquaintances, and fellow workers.  Finally, you will need to have patience with the world and humanity.  Does having patience help your life?   There are three areas where you must have patience. Sometimes these situations can be related.   Delay can lead to trouble, which in turn leads to suffering.  At other times they can be separate entities.  If you do not handle these situations with patience, what are the alternatives.  Can a lack of patience in some instances be beneficial.  Let’s look at patience as it fits in with the relationships you have.

Having patience with love ones, and close acquaintances, while at the time may be difficult, it can be an end point in dealing with some perceived problem in your relationship. Patience comes into play when someone you know is doing something, or not doing something that you disagree with.  You may, or may not give them advice about the situation, and they may not take it, even if you do.  Patience is needed to allow them lead their lives the way they want to, despite what you think.  There may be situations that you think people are not doing their job, or doing things that you find annoying or irritating.  Patience is needed to deal with some of the more mundane things of day to day living. This is what I mean by saying that patience is the end point of the process. What’s the alternative to patience in these situations. There are many choices you can make in both situations.  Remember if you abandon patience, and decide to make some kind of change in the situation, whether it be with a loved one, close acquaintance, or at the workplace, you will be making a drastic change in your life. Like any change the consequences could be good or bad.

The second place patience has its place is with the world and humanity. Right now this pandemic is stretching people’s patient with their government. They are trying to get their life back to some type of normalcy, and get back to work, while maintaining their health and the safety.  Patience is needed when any big organization is having a negative impact on your life.  It may be waiting in line for a long time,  the delay of a flight, or a stay at home order.  In day to day dealings it may be where a company is not providing the service that you think they should. In all of these situations there are not a lot of options but there are some.  You could get out of line.  You could vow never to use that airline again.  You can defy the stay at home.  You could could take legal action against a company or individual that did not provide a service. All of those actions may or may not be a benefit in the long run and may cause you even more problems.  It is a major decision, when you decide that your patience has run out.

Finally there is patience with yourself.  This by far, is hardest one to deal with.  You can not leave yourself.  When you set goals or have day to day things you want to do and fail, patience is your number one friend, if you can apply it.  Any time you get angry or make a poor decision due to a lack of patience, in any of the above scenarios, do you have the ability to have patience with yourself, so you might be able to forgive yourself and move on from your transgressions.  The irony of all this, is your trying to have patience with yourself, for having a lack of patience.  It really boils down to living in the past.   You can not change your mistakes, no matter what the cause. You can only move on, and try to treat yourself kindly and hope that you will do better in the future.  Remember as you apply this technique to yourself, that it may be wise to apply this to other people you are losing patience with, or to the world around you.  Patience is considered a virtue and it is.  Patience can only take you so far, but it will take you farther than you think.

Meditation: What It Won’t Do

We have all read or heard about the benefits of meditation.  Meditation is not like CBD oil,  where it can do everything. Even meditation is given many attributes, that may not be true.  I have written previously, that meditation will do two things. It will give the body the necessary time to relax, and renew. It helps you  discover your inner self. If meditation is done everyday for enough time, for at least 20 minutes, it can relieve stress, anxiety, and help deal with the every day challenges of life better. This can make life easier, and help  all areas of your life.  It will allow you to be able to control your response to the ups, and especially the downs of life.  Some people look at meditation as a cure all, for all of life’s problems, and it is not.  Just because you meditate every day, does not mean that all your problems are going to be solved, and everything is going to be fine.  There are many things that meditation will not affect.

Meditation is not going to make you a better person. It can help you understand why you behave the way you do, but it is still up to you, to make a positive change in your life.  Meditating will not automatically make you a more mindful person.  You may be more mindful, while you are meditating, but mindfulness is something you will have to work on for the entire day.  Meditating will not help you break any unwanted habits.  Meditating is not hypnotism.  Again understanding why you do things may help you change some bad habits, but it will take more than meditating to do this.  Meditation will not help you make any major life decisions.  Any decision you make has consequences.  This is not to mean that all the consequences of any decision will be bad, but anything you do or change, will have some effect on your life, and people that are close to you. Meditation is not a way to improving performance at work.  Being less stressed about things, or having a better understanding of your behavior, may indirectly improve your abilities at work.  Meditating is not going to cure a disease, improve your eating habits, or get you to go to the gym more.  Meditation is not a direct means to an end.

Meditation is a necessity of life.  It is as necessary as sleep, eating, and drinking.  One could argue that if you don’t sleep, eat, or drink, that you will die, in a finite period of time. One can live for a long time without meditating, so how is meditation a necessity.  You are technically alive, if you don’t meditate.  Without meditating you really do not know what your life is about. You are more or less just going through the motions of breathing air in and out of your lungs, and there is a real question if this is living. Is being in a coma living?  On of my favorite axioms is, that everyone is doing the best they can, at their level of awareness.  If you do not meditate then most likely your level of awareness on a scale of 1 to 10 is close to 1, with dead being 0.  If you really want to feel what living is, then it is time to start meditating.  Meditating is not a cure all, but without it, you just exist.  To be alive, you must meditate.

Meditation: Perception

Perception, even trying to define the word can create a challenge.  Let us see how various sources of information do this.  On Wikipedia it states the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment. Merriam-Webster dictionary states awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation. The Free Dictionary states, the process by which an organism detects and interprets information from the external world by means of the sensory receptors. This is how we develop are belief system, through are senses. Some of us develop very strong beliefs that can never be changed, by an outside party.  It is through these perceptions that people think our President is great or is horrible. No matter how the person thinks about the President it is unlikely that anybody is going to change his or her mind.  There are many subjects that can create very broad opinions and debates. On most of these subjects the way a person thinks or feels is not going to be changed. This is all brought about, on how each individual, perceives the subject.  Are any of our perceptions that we feel, hear, smell, taste and see, really correct.  Is our world something that we just create, to make ourselves feel better, or worse. How would we even know?  Let us look at one thing that we know is constant, and how we perceive it.

Everybody knows that time is a constant.  A second is a second, a minute is a minute, an hour is an hour, and 24 hours is a day.  But does it really feel that way?  Is that what your senses are telling you?  The answer is no.  When you are waiting in line, or for someone, 5 minutes can see like an eternity.  How does time feel when you are stuck in traffic?  How about when you are spending time with someone you really like or playing a game on your phone? Before you know it, 30 to 60 minutes is gone.  Seeing a very good movie, that takes 2 hours and 20 minutes, seems like nothing, but spend that same time waiting for your delayed flight, and you might think, you are never getting on board. You hear people talk about time even in the long term. It was a short summer and a long winter. No, it is the exact same number of days, each year.  I can’t believe that he’s 5 years old already, when talking about children or grandchildren. I don’t know where the time went.  I can’t believe its been x amount of years, when talking about any life event.  Time flies when you are having fun.  Maybe that’s why, we don’t want to have fun more often, just so we can slow time down. You can argue that these are just sayings, and people really don’t feel this way, but people do lose all concept of time, depending on what they are doing.  Our perceptions of time, can be way off on what the true reality is.  This is a fact, Jack.  If our perceptions of time can be this far off, could our perceptions of other things, be just as far off.  Most people would say, I know what I am seeing and feeling in other areas, and I know this is correct.  Well, I would not be too sure.  Having strong beliefs, will limit your thinking. It may be time to step back, and try look at situations from all sides, and double check, what you think may be going on around you, and other people.  Robert Burns said it best in the 1700’s when he wrote” O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us”. Since that is unlikely to happen, we need to take that inward look and check those perceptions.

Meditation: Ten Minutes Don’t Bet On It

There are many meditation apps available today, and they all have some positive things to offer.   They help with sleep, relaxation, stress management, and show other benefits of meditation. There is one area, where it seems they have all gone astray.  They seem to feel that 10 minutes a day of meditation is acceptable, and with this  amount of time, one will receive the full benefits of meditation.   I do not agree.   Maybe they feel in this day and age, with time being of the essence, that 10 minutes is all you can expect from the modern world. They are trying to make life a little easier by only requiring 10 minutes per day to meditate.  Whatever the reason, this has become a popular viewpoint. To me the minimum time for meditation, has to be 20 minutes.  Considering that there are some people that meditate for one hour or even longer, 20 minutes does not seem to be very unreasonable.  There are some things that need to be accomplished during meditation, and 10 minutes is not enough time. It is like any part of life,  how much can you accomplish in 10 minutes.  Do you eat lunch in 10 minutes.  Are you even able to complete any task at work in 10 minutes.  Now some people may argue, that there should not be any goals in meditation. These same people will use the term benefits when advocating meditation, but to achieve these benefits more than 10 minutes will be needed.  If you are a starting to meditate, naturally you will have to build up to 20 minutes.  Meditating for even one to two minutes per day will get you started.  Gradually increasing the time every 4 to 5 days, will eventually get you to the 20 minute mark.  Let us look at two important reasons to meditate and why 20 minutes is necessary to get the best result.

The first benefit of meditation is to relax the body.  It is a process of scanning the entire body, and relaxing each section.  This is going to take some time.  Think of other ways to relax the body.  One of  the common ways is to get a massage.  Most massages are going to be at least 30 minutes to do a good job.  I don’t think the 10 minute massage is going to sell anytime soon.  The hot bath or steam seems to be another method to relax those tired and tense muscles.  Does anybody take a 10 minute hot bath? In meditation not only are you trying to relax the muscles of the body, but also the mind. We should all know by now, that sleeping is not relaxing for either, the mind or the body.  Sleep is a necessity in order to function at your best.  It has nothing to do with relaxation. The second  benefit or function of meditation is to discover your inner or true self.  Sometimes journeys of self discovery are aided by health professionals.  Does anybody have a 10 minute session with them. If you are going to have a substantial benefit from meditation, then you must commit the 20 minutes per day per session.  Ten minutes is simply not going to do the job. Maybe that is why there are all the extras, such as sleep aids, relaxation music and coaches for success, on these sites, to make up for the fact, that they seem to think that 10 minutes is enough. Remember morning meditation is always nice, but you can meditate anytime during the day, and it will be just as helpful in finding your true self and well being. I know we live in a busy and hectic society, which makes it even more essential  to set aside that 20 minutes, to do the most important thing, that you can do for yourself, meditation.