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Nov
7th
Thu
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How to Meditate

Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Open your eyes.

Voila! You just meditated. :-)

At Kripalu, I sat in on one of Bhavani's meditation sessions. In the beginning, she asked the group a question: “How do you know if you're meditating correctly?” The answer: If you're doing it at all, then you're doing it correctly. [1]

I like guided meditation audio recordings because they just get you to meditate. Use them as training wheels. Then, take them off. Or, keep using them. :-) Or, find better ones.

At first, I could barely listen to one of those recordings for more than 2 minutes before I had to shut it off and go do something. By the second or third day, I was able to listen all the way through for 20 minutes. If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.

I also love trainers for the same reason: They get you to Just Do It. Have you ever had a tutor or personal fitness trainer? You can find meditation teachers on popexpert.

Meditation, self-hypnosis, prayer, etc., they’re all essentially the same thing. They involve relaxation & focus. Yoga or being in flow are also similar but often also involve body movement.

Nature

We can learn a lot from nature. Observe plants. Observe animals. They are great meditators. Have you ever seen a dog close its eyes? How about a tree growing slowly in its environment. How about clouds drifting in the sky? How about a cheetah stalk a gazelle? Decelerate. Accelerate. Learn from nature. Nature is often in flow.

Breathing

Even just one deep breath can make a difference. Tal Ben-Shahar taught me that. It’s just like working out. You do it once, it won’t make much of a difference. But, if all you do is take one deep breath every morning & night after waking up & before going to sleep, that would make a difference.

Eben Pagan taught me a great practice. Take three deep breaths. The first breath, focus on your body; the second breath, focus on your emotions; the third breath, bring your awareness to your mind; and, if you’re feeling good about doing a fourth breath, then on that breath, bring your awareness to awareness itself, that part of you that has been bringing awareness to your body, mind, and emotions. That might feel trippy, like you’re going someplace else. Perhaps, that’s because to observe yourself, you must step outside of yourself. Or, perhaps, it’s the opposite, that you were previously someplace outside of yourself and/or outside of the present and now, you’re actually going home in space & time.

I also do dirga breaths for presencing & calming myself.

Personal Development

I regularly do Tony Robbins’ Get the Edge - Daily Magic, which begins with a relaxing & presencing breathing exercise. I highly recommend Get the Edge & Personal Power II. I also recommend Unleash the Power Within.

Finally, I recommend The Landmark Forum. Just do it. You’ll thank me later.

Immerse yourself in personal development.

Laughter

My friend Mia Palatano taught me the power of laughter. She taught me to laugh for no reason at all. Sometimes, I watch a funny video on YouTube, like Eddie Murphy stand up, or I think of funny things that have happened in the past, or I realize (usually while meditating) something that happened that I didn’t find funny is actually hilarious in retrospect. And, I just enjoy laughing. And, sometimes, I follow Mia’s advice and just laugh for no reason at all.

The movie The Secret tells the story of a woman who used laughter (along with gratitude and the Secret) to help cure her cancer.

Yoga

Any decent yoga class will involve meditation. Even if the class doesn’t incorporate even just a brief sitting meditation before and/or after class, the practice of yoga itself is a kind of meditation (focus) in action. Also, most classes will have at least savasana, which is a sort of meditation, probably my favorite actually. :-) I love yoga because it involves meditation and the body. When our body is fit, our mind has wit.

More Thoughts

Now, I like to do breath awareness (on my own, without listening) in shavasana (lying on my back, as described in the Body Scan audio) with a soft t-shirt (like my Lovers t-shirt) covering my eyes (as a blindfold) (inspired by Napoleon Hill’s recount of how one of the world’s most genius inventors came up with ideas. I think it’s in the chapter on Knowledge in Think and Grow Rich). Then, I deepen my breath, perhaps do some dirga breaths. I center myself and get relaxed. Then, I follow the second step of Napoleon Hill’s Self-Confidence Formula as described in Chapter 3. Faith of Think and Grow Rich. Basically, I do visualization. It also helps to do gratitude before visualization. This is a sort of meditation/self-hypnosis.

I heard lots of rules in the beginning and wanted to make sure I was doing it “right.” “Keep your back straight.” “Keep your hips above your knees.” “Sit. Don’t lie down or you’ll fall asleep.” “Focus. Don’t let your mind wander.” “Don’t meditate with a full stomach.” “Eating meat prevents meditation.” But, all these rules stressed me out and made it too much work for me, and I would end up not doing anything at all. That’s why Bhavani’s point above is so spot on. The trick is to do whatever you like, whatever feels good, whatever gets you to do some something remotely resembling meditation. If you enjoy standing on your head with grapes in your nostrils and toothpicks prying your eyelids open while holding your breath until you feel the touch of death, then by all means, go for it! :-) Just be safe about it. Haha. If you prefer prayer, that’s great too! Self-hypnosis? Sure! Gratitude? You bet! Visualization? Great!

Plus, what if I prefer oftentimes to lie down? And, what if I do fall asleep? Isn’t that what my body needed? And, what if I allow my mind wander sometimes. If it does wander, then isn’t that what it needed? I’m often controlling my mind, focusing on a specific task so that I can be the most productive, like I’m doing right now writing this. So, for me, sometimes it feels so good just to let my mind wander. What I really like to do is consciously think about the answer to a carefully chosen question (Questions are powerful.), like “What do I want?” Then, I think about that question. Then, if I notice I’ve gotten lost in my thoughts, I’ll re-presence myself by bringing my awareness to my breath. Then, I’ll begin to focus on that same question again. I love doing this. I do this in addition to, not in lieu of, meditation. I really think there is something valuable about just being here & now.

Steve Jobs’ recommends the book: Be Here Now by Ram Dass. It’s on my reading list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

I recommend reading Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now & A New Earth.

I also really love journaling, free writing. I prefer doing it with pen & paper. It can be about anything. I highly recommend James W. Pennebaker’s Writing and Health.

P.S. If you read Think and Grow Rich, make sure you read the original, which can be found on sacred-texts.com.

Footnotes

[1] The first question Bhavani asked was, “How many of you have been meditating for 40 years?” It reminded me of a story I read in one of my mom’s issues of Bits & Pieces.

After one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s performances, several people were offering him their congratulations, when one woman commented, “I wish God had bestowed me with such genius.”

"It isn’t genius, madam, nor is it magic." Beethoven replied. "All you have to do is practice on your piano eight hours a day for 40 years."

Oct
31st
Thu
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Turtles All the Way Down

On Sunday, October 6, 2013, I visited my friend Josh in Los Angeles, CA. He had suggested we see Gravity. So that day, we went to the 3D matinee showing.

Toward the end, there’s a scene of a space shuttle entering the atmosphere.

I thought it was a really cool scene. There’s this tiny little shuttle shaped like a floodlight, and it’s dropping into the earth at high-speed, and it’s flaming up on the sides from all the friction.

It reminded me of the microscopic videos I’ve seen of a sperm cell entering an egg, perhaps especially since the shuttle was sort of shaped like a sperm, going head-first into the Earth’s atmosphere, shaped like an egg.

Then, I was reminded. Oh yeah, "It’s turtles all the way up and all the way down." Basically, the theory is that there are worlds inside worlds inside worlds, forever.

One example, of which I had already been aware, in support of this theory is that an atom is like a tiny solar system, with the electrons (like planets) orbiting around the nucleus (like the sun).

But, this idea of the space shuttle penetrating the earth’s atmosphere like a sperm entering an egg was yet another piece of evidence that I had not realized until immediately after watching this scene. And so in that way, it was an epiphany for me. Eureka!

That got me thinking. What if the earth was once like an unfertilized egg?

What was the “sperm” that, many years ago, penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere and “fertilized” (brought to life) planet Earth? Perhaps, that “sperm” was an asteroid with some life on it? Or, perhaps it was an alien spaceship, and we have evolved from aliens without even realizing it!

And, if the Earth is like an egg, then we must just be in the early stages of pregnancy. I mean, we aren’t even a fetus yet. Maybe in the future, just as a baby fills the uterus, we’ll turn into some sort of being that fills the universe (which is what Ray Kurzweil predicts in his book The Singularity is Near) and the universe will contract and squeeze us out into the “real world.” Perhaps, we humans are all like cells of the Earth. Are we a cancer of the earth? This has been posited. I don’t think so. I think we’re just growing like a baby grows, very rapidly, and I think a baby also grows at exponential speeds, with its cells dividing and such. But, I still think it’s up to us whether our exponential population growth is good or bad for the Earth. In other words, I think we have a say in whether the pregnancy is successful. But, our mother (God?) also has a say. Mother, if you are considering abortion, I honor your choice, but please watch this first: http://youtu.be/wOR1wUqvJS4. Consider that you are not killing one life, but many as your freshly fertilized egg we call Earth is made up of many cells that we call humans.

Did you know that the universe contracts & expands. Perhaps, that’s our mother breathing. :-)

Remember, anything we suspect or believe, we’ll find evidence for, even if that suspicion or belief isn’t true. So, my mind is just making all of these connections up to support this suspicion I’ve had from a young age (that it’s turtles all the way up and all the way down). This is how the human mind works. So, remember, you create your reality. :-)

Still, noticing these similarities at different scales of life is interesting and perhaps can help us better predict and understand things.

Related:

Oct
30th
Tue
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I Love Charles Schwab

I love Charles Schwab. I have a High Yield Investor Checking Account with them.

Use any ATM globally, and they’ll cover the fees. Cash checks anywhere with their iOS/Android app. Set up free bill pay online, and they’ll send checks every month to your old-fashioned landlord or once to an ancient friend, i.e., never deal with checks again. Almost as good as Venmo. Get fast & intelligent phoneline customer service.

All this, from the comfort of your own home, even in the middle of a hurricane, when most bank locations are closed. Sure, it’s nice that there are many Bank of America locations around, but who wants to wait in line at the bank anyway? Plus, fewer locations (ergo expenses) for Schwab means no ATM fees for me. :-) And, it’s only a 7-minute walk from my office to the nearest Schwab location.

Here’s an SAT-style analogy: Blockbuster : Netflix :: Bank of America : Charles Schwab

Adapt or die.

Jul
21st
Sat
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Money Beliefs

I used to have negative beliefs about wealth. They were beliefs that I had picked up from friends, family, and society… like “Money is the root of all evil,” or “Rich people are bad/greedy/etc,” or “Being poor (like Mother Teresa) is nobel,” etc.

I didn’t even realize I had picked up these beliefs until I started listening to Tony Robbins. I highly recommend his Personal Power II & Get the Edge audio programs and Unleash the Power Within. He talks about how he had them too. One he had was, “I’m too young to be financially independent.”

I’m mostly unaware of any negative beliefs I may carry. And so, I’m slave to them. They dictate my life and my choices. If I believe rich people are bad, I self-sabotage myself from making tons of money because I want to be good, not bad. Brent Smith talks about this in his video about how to have true freedom of choice. Watch the Matrix if you haven’t already or it’s been a while since you last saw it. Tony Robbins helped me bring awareness to some of these beliefs so that I could realize they were limiting me and let them go.

The thing about these negative beliefs is that they weren’t necessarily true. They just became true the more I focused on them.

To see what I mean, try this exercise:

This exercise works best in an environment that you’re not extremely familiar with (e.g., your room or office), but it’ll probably still work OK in those places. So, go ahead anyway.

Read the first step below, and then immediately look away from your screen, and do what it says. Then, read the second step, and immediately close your eyes, and do what it says.

  1. In the next 10 seconds, look around you and notice everything that’s brown.

  2. Now, close your eyes, and in 10 seconds,
    recall everything around you that’s green.

See, I tricked you! :P

Tony Robbins tricked me too with that exercise. It’s easier to do over audio because it doesn’t work if you read ahead.

But, the point is is that beliefs are shaped by our thoughts, or what we focus on. If we are always focusing on the brown in life (or shall we say the feces of life?), then we might start to believe that everything around us is poop! But, if we start to focus on the green and the good in life, then we’ll start to believe that everything around us is good!

It’s easy to develop false beliefs, because something we’re told can cause us to look for that in our surroundings, and then that’s all we notice. So, that something we’re told becomes our belief.

The point I’m saying is the belief I had that rich people are bad was just not true. Not always, at least, probably false for the majority of wealthy people.

Actually, Tony Robbins said something that shifted that belief for me. The wealth of a person is often a testament to the degree to which he has helped others. Sure, some people are rich because they’re drug lords, etc. But, for the most part, people get money because people pay them for the goods or services that they provide, because they have given the most to others.

Think about Bill Gates, the richest man in the world. He’s probably had one of the biggest impacts on the word, maybe even given the most to others. Not because he has donated so much money to charities & universities, etc., although that is a big part of it, but because he has provided so many jobs, contributed to so many businesses, and enabled the information age.

What about the Google founders? Google has literally saved my life.

Apple?

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube? They have transformed the connectedness of the world and the spread of information. Google & Facebook have allowed so many businesses to thrive through their ads, and they are rewarded heavily for that.

Sure, some rich people may be bad and some poor people may be amazing (like Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, who probably both would be wealthy if they were alive today; they were just ahead of their time). But, for the most part, wealthy people and companies are the ones transforming our world and developing the world for the better. And, you often see more crime in poorer neighborhoods. In wealthier neighborhoods, there’s less crime and more good.

Bill Gates is pretty awesome. I don’t know him, but from the videos I’ve watched of him, he seems like a good guy.

And, even if I’m wrong, even if most of the wealthy people and companies are bad. Then, good people & companies are even more needed. So, that gives us all the more reason to become wealthy or build a wealthy company that’s good, not bad.

I think it was Abraham Lincoln who once said something like, “Better for a good person to be powerful, than a bad person.” He also said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Are you ready for that power? :)

You better be. ;)

Jul
4th
Wed
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Xcode Debugging Protip

You know how sometimes it crashes in main and gives you like no stack-trace?

Well, I just figured out how to get one if you know how reproduce the crash.

Stop running. Then, tap on the app icon to launch it regularly (w/o the debugger). Reproduce the crash. Press Command-Shift-2 in Xcode to open the Organizer window. (Make sure you’re using the same Xcode that you used to build the app on your device because Xcode stores the dSYM so that it can symbolicate the crash reports on your device.) Select Devices > Device Logs. Sort by Date/Time descending. Look at that crash report, baby! It’s got the stack trace! :)

I just used this method to retroactively find the exact method & line that the app was crashing on during debugging.

I’m not sure why the Xcode dubugger doesn’t show this stack-trace. But, I even first tried reproducing the bug with an exception breakpoint turned on, but all that showed me was Apple’s assembly code.

Feb
16th
Mon
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Released Lovers Facebook Application

I spent all of Valentines Day completing this Facebook application:

http://apps.facebook.com/mylovers

You can use it to tell your friends you love them.

Happy Belated Valentines Day!!! :)

Love,

Matt Di Pasquale