The best part of moving to Orlando has been the regular, group meditation. So, far I’ve been going twice a week.
On Wednesday nights, I do Vipassana Meditation in Winter Park with the Orlando Insight Meditation Group. On Sunday evenings, I do Zen sitting and walking meditation (along with some chanting) with the Orlando Zen Center at Shine On Yoga, which is literally 5 minutes walking from me.
Usually, there’s about a dozen to two dozen people. Minimum instructions given besides pay attention to your breathe. I’ve noticed that Zen provides the least instructions of any group. On Wednesdays, Peter (not me) gives a short talk and discussion about Buddhist psychology after the sitting meditation. Peter is a practicing and licensed therapist along with a very experienced vipassana meditator.
There is naturally a lot of overlapping members who show up at both.
The Zen meditation of chanting, sitting, walking, and again sitting meditation is new to me. However, I do enjoy it a lot. The walking meditation reminds me of Tai Chi Quan. The chanting is surprisingly a good way to relax and hone the mind. It also helps that we get pho sometimes afterwards.
It’s also interesting to note that the demographic of the groups tend to be in the 30s or older crowd. Occasionally, there’s a young face, but they don’t seem to last long just as I didn’t in the past. I guess I’m just ahead of the curve. The DC Insight Group had a much broader but also larger demographic of people.
On the other hand, I’ve never meet such committed, American Buddhists before. Usually, the sort I meet are the ones, who like myself, include Buddhism and meditation into their daily life rather than become a member themselves. Several of the Zen members have taken on the Precept Vows and do the early morning, Zen bowing ritual.
Either way, I’m thoroughly happy I found both groups. I would do even more sitting groups, but they aren’t compatible with my working schedule. The other five days of the week, I’m trying to sit by myself for at least half a hour.
I’ve been in Orlando now for three weeks. Wow. It does not feel that long.
Coming to Orlando was suppose to be a fresh start towards fulfilling my potential and dreams. Although weeks have passed, setbacks have occurred including a postponed training program and a poor housing situation. But I’m ready to train myself if necessary and moving to a new home this week.
Self improvement is an obsession of mine. To constantly become a better, healthier, happier, and just better person. Sometimes, I fall into despair and confusion because my expectations and self-judgments are too harsh and only based on where I want to be, who I want to be rather than how far I’ve come. I lose sight of just how much progress has been made. How much I’ve learned, how much I’ve experienced getting from my past to here.
This past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of mentors, peers, groups, and institutions in both forming a person’s values and directing his growth. After leaving graduate school and most of the networks I had in Washington DC, the responsibility for growth fell upon my shoulders alone. I no longer have an outside force demanding, expecting, or guiding me in my growth.
So, I came to Orlando with the expectation of working under a world class physical trainer. I would dedicate the remaining months of 2011 towards my physical health and to gaining twenty pounds of muscle and end my lifelong “skin and bones” perception. Unfortunately, he’s run into some troubles and the program’s been indefinitely postponed.
Nevertheless, I made a commitment to stay in Orlando for at least the rest of 2011. I plan on using those months to make rapid progress in instilling new habits and rituals.
I prefer the word ritual because it has the connotation of the sacred. A sacred habit. Actions whose regular completion are more important than any interruption, embarrassment, or inconvenience. Habits tend to die off without peer pressure or strong consequences. Habits are something you do for your own improvement. Rituals constitute who you are as a person. There are no excuses when it comes to completing rituals, and that’s what I am aiming towards and why I’m making this publicly available.
Starting tomorrow, these are the goals, habits, and rituals I’ll be working on (again):
Waking Early 7am – It’s much easier for me to be productive in the early morning when everyone else is asleep rather than at night. Also, a good morning begets a good day. Goal is 7am on weekdays for September.
Daily 30 Minute Meditation – Meditation has been a life changing process for me. I’ve been sitting twice a week with a Vipassana and a Zen group. For the remaining 5 days, I’ll sit by myself.
Eating A Lot of Good Food – I’m trying to gain weight which means a lot more food volume. I’ve already cut out all processed foods, fast food, soda, most sugar, and other bad foods out of my diet for over a year now. I do need to add more fruits and vegetables though and just eat more. I’m thinking of photo-journaling my meals too just for my personal knowledge. My plan is a modified Paleo Diet + Beans + Some Grain/Rice Carbs + Cheat Day.
Eye Contact, Socializing, Conquering Orlando – I feel like so many months living back home in Delaware cloistered in my room dulled my social skills. I find myself uncomfortable often times holding eye contact or wondering what strangers might think if I do something. Insane. I want to blast through that and establish a large, high quality group of friends here. Since I’ll be living Downtown, I should be able to hit up a lot of events too.
Tracking My Daily Expenses – Now that I’m paying rent again in a large city, I need to keep a close eye on my finances again. I’ll be tracking every dollar and seeing where the excesses are. I already know the bars are costing me more than I would like as well as car repairs and gas.
I’ll report results at the end of the month. For now, it’s a time for massive action and fewer words.
*—– Extra Bites —-*
Originally, I was going to also list a bunch of negative habits I’ve removed or trying to remove like television, internet addiction and so on. But, if I’m busy with my positive rituals, I won’t even have time to waste.
This keeps getting pushed back, but I should be moving Wednesday to a new house that’s a lot quieter and nicer.
I hate my writing. I can’t tell if I’m hiding parts of myself. And even if I am, is that such a bad thing considering this is a public website? I wonder sometimes if I’m boasting or seeking pity. Or if I’m being too negative. I think my best writing are the ones I write in one sitting like this one and talking in a conversational tone.
I’ve made some friends in Orlando, but it’s very annoying how spread out everything is. It’s even worse than DC. I guess the heat just keeps everyone inside.
I love Louis CK. I think doing standup and improv professionally would be my top 3 dream careers even though I’ve never done either in front of an audience. They’re on my 2012 bucket list of to dos.
What’s really amazing to me is that he spent his first 35 years of life being essentially a shitty comedian. 15 years after graduating high school did he finally hit his stride. And he did it by following Carlin’s example of stepping outside your comfort zone and just speaking your mind. All the shit you’re not suppose to say in public. Not just the outside world problems that everyone loves to spend hours complaining about. But his own insecurities, fears, and dark desires. I strive to be as funny and more importantly as honest as CK.