Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What You Staring At? Trataka Mediation

 I'm a big fan of mediation. Actually, I think it should be a part of everyones daily routine. I don't care if you're mediating for 10 mins or 45, a little is better than nothing. Why? Because mediation has a shit load of benefits, such as ... 

- Improved stress response
- Better sleep
- Improved focus
- Reduced anxiety 
- Improved mood 
- Reduced severity of depression 
- Improved cognitive ability
- Positive effects on blood pressure 

 ... and much, much more 

 The key to mediation, is finding a style that suits your needs and works well with your personality. 

 There are countless forms of meditation, a lot of which have been around for thousands of years. They're not all going to work well for you as an individual, you're going to have to try a few and see what works for you. 

 That's what I have been doing for years now, and most recently I have been working with a form called Trataka.  

What Is Trataka 

 Trataka mediation is one of the oldest forms of mediation, and it involves staring at a small object for a prolonged period of time. The most popular objects are a candle flame or small dot. The goal is to keep your gaze on the object, without blinking or moving your eyes. The practice is said to help cleanse/activate your third eye while enhancing psychic abilities ... but I don't buy into that shit. Too mystic for my taste. 

What I enjoy about Trataka, is that it gives me an object to focus my attention on. By focusing on the object, my mind feels "quieter". When a thought runs through my head, I let it pass by and return my attention to the physical object I'm staring at. It's much like mindful mediation, only I have a physical object to place my attention on. The effect is quite calming. 

How I Meditate With Trataka 

 The way I set up my Trataka mediation is easy ... 

- I perform it whenever I want during the day, I have no set time but you could if you like. 

- I mediate for anywhere from 5 - 15 mins depending on the day 

- I use a dot over the candle flame, it's just my preference 

- The dot is placed 3-4 feet in front of my eyes, large enough that I don't have trouble seeing it but not too big 

- I either kneel down to meditate or stand up, I use a dot drawn on paper that I adjust to the right height

- During the mediation I don't use a specific breathing pattern, but I do try to keep my breath from my belly and regular 

- I pay attention to my posture 

- My gaze is fixed completely on the dot, no blinking, no moving my eyes, just one straight line to the dot

- When a thought runs through my head, and I notice I'm paying attention to the thought, I catch myself and bring my attention back to my breath and the dot 

- At some point your vision may begin to "tunnel" and the edges of your sight may blur ... that's normal. When your eyes don't move for a period of time, they stop processing everything in their peripherals because no "new" information is coming in. This is the best part, it's a neat experience. 

- If you must blink, do it and continue on 

- Continue on like this for however long you desire. When you decide to stop, close your eyes and rest for a bit. Open your eyes and allow your vision to return to normal. 

 I find the whole practice of Trataka rather "grounding" and it leaves me feeling calm. It's one method that, right now, works well for me as an individual and I enjoy it. It may or may not be what you like, it may not even work well for you, but it's worth a try. If you're looking for a new method of mediation you can do it right now by opening the picture above, enjoy! 

- Tim 


Thursday, June 16, 2016

How To Get Better At Pull Ups, When You Can't Do Pull Ups

 My article for "Whole Life Challenge" is up, and it's a great one for those of you who can't perform a chin up/pull up yet. I'll teach you "The Dead Mans Crawl", how to do it, how it can improve your vertical pulling strength, and how to use it in a workout. Take a look here. 

- Tim 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Selfish-Unselfishness: Quit Letting Yourself Down

 We'll often do more for others, than we would ever do for ourselves. Well, most people anyways. When a friend, loved one, or family member needs something from us, when they need our help to get it done, or when they're counting on us to follow through on a commitment - we get it done. 

 Why? Because they need us, and we don't want to let them down. 

 We love them. We don't want to fail them. Even if what they need doesn't directly improve your life, or it's a mild inconvenience for you that day, you still get it done - for them. 

 Yet, when it comes to us - we let ourselves down constantly. 

How many times have you made a commitment to start eating better, lose weight, quit drinking, quit smoking, save money, leave a terrible relationship, or whatever else it may be ... only to give up and go right back to your old ways? 

 For most people, this happens time and time again; too many times to count. It can happen with large promises from time to time, or small commitments on a daily basis. Either way, we let ourselves down constantly. 

You don't often break promises to others, you follow through on your commitments for them. So why do you always break the ones you make to yourself? Why do you always let yourself down? Don't you love yourself? Aren't you deserving of your own commitment? 


Stop letting yourself down. Become selfish, in that respect. 

Follow through on the promises you make to yourself. When temptations arise, and they will, remind yourself that you can't let yourself down. Say it out loud or in your head, announce it, "I can't let myself down". 

Every single time you don't give into temptation, every time you follow through on you promise to yourself, you become stronger from the inside out. By following through with your promise to yourself, by being "selfish", you'll build a stronger, better, character. 

 By building a stronger character you'll harden your "armor",  your resolve. In turn, your willingness to do more for yourself, to be stronger for yourself, and to serve yourself in a more faithful manner, will translate into being able to do more for the ones you love. 

 Think about it. How much were you willing to do, and capable of doing, for the ones you loved previously; before you built the strength to follow through on promises to yourself. 

 You were already willing to do more for others than you would ever do for yourself, but now - you'll go that extra mile for yourself.  Think about how that translates into how far you'll go for the ones you love, now that you're stronger for yourself.

 Your ability to help others, your willingness to go the extra mile for them, to put them first, will increase by ten fold. 

 This is the idea of being selfishly-unselfish. 

- Tim 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Table Top

The table top is a great exercise for helping to reduce the effects of sitting all day. It helps open tight chest, shoulders, and hip flexors - while at the same time strengthening the glutes and scapula. It can be held for time as a static contraction, but you can also perform it for reps (much like the hip thruster) for a more dynamic exercise.

Static Contraction Workout: 

 - Perform each exercise, back to back, without rest
 - Hold each for 1 min (30 seconds per side for bird dog & side plank)
 - If you can't hold for the full 1 min, come down and rest for a second, then continue to hold until the time is up. 
 - Once you've completed the circuit, rest for 1-2 mins, repeat again 1-2 more times depending on your fitness level. 

- Bird Dog
- Plank
- Table Top 
- Side Plank

Try it out, enjoy, and let me know how it goes!

- Tim 


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Training For What?

 If you're not an athlete, move star, or a warrior then what are you training for? Everyday life. Your training must be focused on training to meet the demands of your everyday existence. 

 Training, for you, must improve your mobility, strength, and cardio - BUT it must be focused on sustainability, longevity, and strengthening your weaknesses. 

 Everyday training should be movement based, but not stunt or trick based. Movements like squats, push ups, chin ups, rows, hinging, and core specific movements have a great carry over to everyday life. They're not glamorous like stunts, but stunts/tricks have a higher degree of risk involved and less carry over into daily activities. They're specialized and specific. For everyday fitness, we need to be general. You need to be able to do many things, kind of well. 

 Train to be able to hike, carry home groceries, pick things up, and move well forever. Train for your life. 

- Tim