Struggling Practice

My meditation practice has really been a struggle lately. I’ve managed to make time daily for 69 consecutive days for meditation, but the practice seems to be getting more difficult. I’m not sure what to make of this or what to do to bust through the wall. Maybe I’m being too impatient and hard on myself. I didn’t expect to see a bunch of positive effects at this point, but I guess I didn’t expect things to get more difficult with time either. I thought the act of sitting and mindfulness would get steadily smoother and come more naturally.

I’m going to keep with it and start going to a meditation class that is offered at Wilmington Yoga Center. I’ve never gone to one and am kind of nervous (as I always am in a new environment) but one of the books I’m reading (Everyday Zen) pretty strongly argues that a group setting is necessary for a strong practice. Hopefully, it will help. I don’t want to give up, this is one of the first daily practices I’ve ever stuck with (even my blogging goes through weeks of nothingness) but I’m a bit disheartened.

Maybe this is all just part of the journey.

Smiling at the Furnace

Today, my writing is again inspired by a blog post from the eternal wisdom-seeker, TK Coleman. I wonder if it is cheating or lazy to respond and expand upon ideas from other people instead of spewing out my own thoughts… oh well, call me lazy I guess, but I prefer the term “efficient”. Anyway, in his post Coleman wrote about gaining optimism from adversity. He is made stronger and encouraged to go on when more obstacles stand in his way. My favorite passage from the short post is this:

I insist on giving the middle finger to all the shittiest aspects of life and saying “you can bake me, but you can’t break me” while being tossed into the fiery furnace of trial and tribulation.

That furnace visualization instantly made me think of the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego myth from the 3rd Book of Daniel in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. I think there was a couple of popular songs about the story performed by Veggie Tales, Carman, dc Talk, or something. Anyway, in this story the three protagonists are thrown into a fiery furnace because they are unwilling to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzer.

Despite the shittiest of all aspects in life (death by fire) they stayed true to their beliefs and came out stronger. In the end they were rewarded for their faith with life and a promotion. (Yeah, it is kind of weird that they would continue to work for a king that demanded them treat him like God and tried to kill them… but whatever).

When it comes to our own life we should model the behavior of Shad-Me-Abed, we should smile at the flames and use the struggles of life to make us stronger. As we overcome greater and greater obstacles the things that seemed insurmountable become easy. Even Michael Phelps probably thought he was going to drown the first time he was in the water. And he probably thought that smoking pot would have a detrimental to his performance and career… but now he can naturally do both without barely batting an eye. There really are only two options to “demon standing before me, waiting to feed on the deliciousness of my anguish”, you can feed it and grow weak or you can laugh at it’s hunger and grow strong.

I find that people are often those demons trying to feed on our anguish. Something about humans makes us love the failure and self-destruction of others, maybe it is a cultural thing or maybe it is evolutionary (or maybe both), but we seem to enjoy watching people stumble and fall. We gossip about mistakes people are making instead of helping them make better choices and we discourage them from taking chances because of all the things that could go wrong. Maybe, seeing others succeed acts as a mirror and shows us all the ways in which we failed to take risks and, instead, just took the safe road that everyone else follows.

I remember a party I went to right before I started my solo bike ride in 2012. The “nay sayers” fell into two categories. The first group had my best interest in mind (I think) and tended to express concerns about my safety and how dangerous the world is. They primarily overestimated the challenges ahead and the danger that came from things outside of my power (weather, robbers, cars, etc). The second group seemed to want me to fail. They didn’t think I had the ability to do a solo bike ride, they were demons waiting to hear the news that I gave up or got hurt because they would feed off of that.

There will always be furnaces in life, and we should face them head on. Our bodies and minds are pretty fucking durable, more so than many of us imagine. Certainly, we all have limits, but those limits will never be known if we get comfortable walking away from obstacles and feeding demons. And when we start to become inspired and motivated by obstacles we may push so far beyond our limits that we even surprise ourselves.

Week 4 Update

I wasn’t able to do an update last week because I was in St. Louis. That trip was a bit of a hiccup in my life routine, but overall it went well (I blogged in more detail about the results of that here). Even after returning from St. Louis it has been a struggle to get back into the routine of things. We went up to Wilmington one day to look at houses and my mind/energy has really been on those things. I neglected my meditation and much of my workouts (except running). It looks possible that we will be moving to Wilmington next week (yay!) and that means this next week will be kind of stressful and busy but I’m going to try and at least do my meditation and push-ups.

I originally planned on starting intermittent fasting this week, but I think I’m going to wait until we are settled in Wilmington (if we move up there), I am just not in a good mental place to be introducing new challenges yet. I think it is important for me to change things up and add new things every four weeks or so, but with life being a little chaotic I am going to postpone that. I haven’t studied any German or written my book in the last two weeks and I need to re-evaluate my priorities and techniques. It may be that studying German on my own isn’t the best way to do it and if I truly want to learn it (and maybe I actually don’t, it may not have value to me) I may need to take a more traditional class. Writing, on the other hand, is something that I am confident that I truly want to do but I haven’t been able to find or implement a system that works for me yet.

Here are my current measurements, with the normal disclaimer that human error and variations in my body like full bowels, hydration, etc can create inaccuracies. I’m still happy with the direction things are heading… burning fat and getting stronger.

It is set up like this Measurement: Current (change from two weeks ago, overall change). For example, my weight is 166 right now so it will look like this “Weight: 166 lbs (-7, -12)”. I lost seven pounds in two week and two and twelve pounds since “Day 0” (July 8th).


  • Weight: 173 lbs (-2, -2.5)
  • Waist: 34.5 inches (-.5, -2)
  • Neck: 15.75 inches (+.25, +.25)
  • Chest: 40.25 inches (+.5, +.25)
  • Left Bicep: 13.5 inches (-.25, -.5)
  • Right Bicep: 13 inches (-.5, -1)
  • Left Thigh: 22.5 inches (-.5, -1.75)
  • Right Thigh: 22.5 inches (-1, -2.75)
  • Left Calf: 14.75 inches (-.25, +.25)
  • Right Calf: 15 inches (+/- 0, +.5)
  • BMI: 25.24 (-1.06, -1.82)
  • Body Fat %: 21.17 (-0.01, -3.85)
  • Average Daily Calories: 1793.57 (+96.71)
  • Average Waking Mood: 5.575 out of 10 (+0.145)
  • Average Midday Mood: 6.86 out of 10 (-0.57)
  • Average Evening Mood: 7.07 out of 10 (-.07)
  • Average Morning Sex Drive: 5.43 out of 10 (+0)
  • Average Midday Sex Drive: 6.14 out of 10 (-.57)
  • Average Evening Sex Drive: 5.785 out of 10 (-0.355)
  • Walked: 25.75 Miles (N/A, 63)
  • Ran: 21 Miles (N/A, 37.5)
  • Biked: 6 Miles (N/A, 20.25)
  • Pull Ups: 68 (N/A, 185)
  • Push Ups: 325 (N/A, 1,055)
  • Plank: 8 minutes (N/A, 25.75)
  • Meditated: 30 minutes (N/A, 130)
  • Average Nightly Sleep: 7.77 hours (+0.16)
  • Daily Orgasm: 9 out of 14 (N/A)
  • Blog Posts: 8 out of 14 (N/A)
  • Daily German: 0 out of 14 (N/A)
  • Daily Write Book: 0 out of 14 (N/A)
  • Resting Heart Rate: 60bpm (N/A, +1)

Bonus! Here are some charts. The first is my daily weight and the second is my weight change from day to day. You can also see all kinds of notes and measurements and stuff on this google doc. I will also be uploading new pictures to the shared folder later today (as always, the pictures are nude so don’t look if that will freak you out).


Currently Reading:

  • “Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama” by Daniel Goleman
  • “The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan