Daily Mindfulness Meditation

I've decided to start my daily meditation, first and foremost as a way to access my pre-birth plan as suggested by Robert Schwartz in his online document entitled A Meditation to Access Your Pre-Birth Plan by embracing my life challenges and knowing my true nature, and then as a way to alleviate my OCPD and improve my general well-being as was recommended by our psychological counselor.

Of all the practical guides to meditation I've found and checked Meditation for Dummies by Stephan Bodian has appealed to me most because of its detailed practical guidelines and explanation of their underlying physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual principles. And of all the meditation techniques mentioned there mindfulness meditation has appealed to me most. He defines mindfulness as "moment-to-moment awareness of your experience as it occurs". Here are some of the tips he writes about mindfulness meditation which I find most useful:

Because mindfulness grows like a house on a foundation of concentration, you need to strengthen and stabilize your concentration before you can proceed to the full practice of mindfulness. That's why the initial meditations provided here emphasize focusing on a particular object of concentration: your breath.

Ultimately, the goal of mindfulness meditation is to develop the capacity to be fully present for whatever is occurring right here and now. When you've stabilized your concentration by focusing on your breath, you can expand your awareness to include the full range of sensations, both inside and outside, and eventually just welcome whatever presents itself, including thoughts, memories, and emotions.

As soon as you've developed a certain ease in following your breath, you can expand your awareness as you meditate to include the full range of sensations both inside and outside your body: feeling, smelling, hearing, seeing. Imagine that your awareness is like the zoom lens on a camera. Until now, you've been focused exclusively on your breath; now you can back away slightly to include the field of sensations that surrounds your breath.

When you become accustomed to including sensations in your meditation practice, you can open your awareness wide and welcome any and every experience - even thoughts and emotions - without judgment or resistance.

I've also found some useful practical tips about mindfulness meditation on a content-rich website called Mindful:

After reading these practical tips I've started to mediate daily by following two guided mindfulness meditation practices: Meditation for Dummies Resource Center (track 4, which is about mindfulness meditation), and Mindfulness Meditation Lite (free daily program and part of Mental Workout) by Stephan Bodian, the author of the above mentioned guidebook.

I'll also complement my understanding and practice of meditation with Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the most important authorities on mindfulness in the world, Increasing Wholeness by Rabbi Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz from a Jewish perspective, and Integral Meditation by Ken Wilber as part of Integral Life.

It's still to early to see the effect of this new daily practice of mine. But I really hope it will at least serve as yet another way in my struggle with my OCPD, if not as a way to access my pre-birth plan. One important thing I've already learned is that (mindfulness) meditation is simple but not easy as Jon Kabat-Zinn also writes.

Now my daily practices on weekdays (after getting up at 05:00 and before going to bed at 23:00) look like as follows (and the best part is that I do all these practices with my wife):


Preparation for Relocation

My wife and I have decided to move this August to another apartment, which happens to be not only in the same building but even on the same floor where we live now. This is mainly for starting a new page of our married life as equals, especially emotionally. Until my wife moved into this apartment after we got married last August, I lived here alone for 12 years. I'm afraid she must be feeling as if she were a guest here as it's only I who chose this apartment and decided where and how to arrange the furniture.

Though we still have a little more than three months until our relocation, we started preparing for it this week. Since the new place is much smaller (but in a much better condition) than the present one, we first took upon ourselves the task of classifying a rather humble (but selected) collection of some 1200 books I have in my private library here into three groups - 1) about 600 more important books to put in the living room, where we'll also work, 2) about 400 less important ones to put in the bedroom, and 3) about 200 to give or throw away - and rearranging them physically on the bookshelves so that we may be able to move each of them to the new apartment as it is.

This physically rather demanding task has turned out to be even an intellectually refreshing exercise. Though I've kept buying many books, the number of the books in my private library has always remained between 1000 and 1500 in the past few decades. I haven't kept non-academic books after reading them for lack of physical space as well as my minimalism and essentialism except for some very rare cases. This has become less of a problem in recent years as more and more academic (and even non-academic) books I acquire are electronic. So this must have been the first time in the last several years that I reexamined my private library, asking myself about each and every book if I want to keep it or not, and if yes, where.

It was quite easy to decide which book to classify into the third category mentioned above, but it wasn't so easy to classify the remaining books further into one of the two first categories. I spent half a day reclassifying these books while my wife was looking and laughing at me. ;-) My (or should I say "our") library has become fitter and easier to navigate. It looks like as follows in terms of its composition now:

  • More important books: 600
    • Dictionaries: 100
    • Languages: 200
    • Linguistics: 100
    • Judaism: 100
    • Jewish history: 50
    • Jewish literature: 50
  • Less important books: 400
    • Dictionaries: 100
    • Languages: 200
    • Linguistics: 100

This has nothing to do with relocation, but now that I've made an order in my physical library, I feel I have to do the same with my ever growing electronic library, which holds about 1000 books now, especially by cataloging them. I'm afraid I'll probably need at least one whole week for this task. What I've accomplished so far is fairly miserable - I've only cataloged some 50 books on lexicography, which is the main area of my present linguistic research-shmesearch, using Zotero, my favorite bibliography manager.


Pre-Birth Planning

I've come to be firmly convinced of the existence of the afterlife (also known as the life between lives and the "Other Side") and past lives after reading Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls - two collections of testimonies of life between lives regressions conducted by Dr. Michael Newton - and Many Lives, Many Masters and Messages from the Masters - two collections of testimonies of past life regressions conducted by Dr. Brian Weiss respectively years ago. This week I stumbled upon and devoured two similar and no less amazing and no less convincing books about (not only the afterlife and past lives but also) the so-called pre-birth planning - Your Soul's Plan and Your Soul's Gift by Robert Schwartz.

The author, unlike the above mentioned two, turned to one psychic medium in order to understand one life challenge he had been experiencing and was introduce to his spirit guides, who in turn told him through his psychic medium about his pre-birth planning. This life changing spiritual experience has lead him to find and interview through psychic mediums those people who had experienced life challenges such as mental illness and addiction, to name just a few, and their spiritual guides. The author made two insightful collections of their testimonies about their respective pre-birth decisions to choose these difficult life challenges for their spiritual growth.

He writes so convincingly how his experience of getting aware of his own pre-birth planning has given a totally new meaning to his present life and has even had a healing power for his life challenge. You can also hear him tell this spiritual experience of his even more vividly in various recorded interviews of his in YouTube (please just type the author's full name in the search window there).

Having read and heard what he has to share with us, I've felt a renewed interest to hear what my spirit guides as well as deceased ones who were close to me have to tell about my pre-birth planning about the specific life challenges in my present reincarnation. Actually, I've been looking for a psychic medium in Jerusalem for years in vain. But since I understand know that this can also be done over the phone, I may contact one of those credible (but not too expensive) psychic mediums I've found on the web.

In his online document entitled A Meditation to Access Your Pre-Birth Plan Robert Schwartz writes "there are three ways in which you can determine what you planned before you were born: 1) through working with mediums and channels; 2) through hypnotic regression to the 'life-between-life' state; or 3) through meditation." In addition to or instead of a session with some psychic medium I may try his own between lives soul regression. But before these two I'd definitely like to follow his advice and try meditation.


Two Physical Exercises for Flexibility and Strength with Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual Benefits

Since I stumbled upon The Complete Book of Running by Jim Fixx and Stretching by Bob Anderson when I was still a freshman in the university, I've been running and stretching regularly on weekdays with a couple of intermittent breaks. Just as my running was fundamentally changed by ChiRunning several years ago, I feel my stretching is being revolutionized by "resistance stretching" called Resistance Flexibility and Strength Training, which I found this week while looking for more ways to integrate body, heart, mind, and spirit into my life and have already started trying by consulting The Genius of Stretching by Bob Cooley.

What has totally taken me by surprise is the first of the seven principles of resistance stretching he has found through his experience with himself and others who asked for his help - "You need to contract and lengthen your muscles while stretching" or "True flexibility occurs only when a muscle can contract maximally throughout its entire stretch length." Until I read this eye-opening book, I was very careful not to avoid any resistance of the body parts I was stretching. It's still early to see the physical benefits of this method.

Even more astounding is the author's explanations that resistance stretching has also emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits as the sixteen different stretches he has devised are connected to sixteen muscle groups, sixteen energy meridians, and sixteen personalities, which are grouped into physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual groups. I don't understand yet how this resistance stretching, but not non-resistance stretching, can benefit not only our body but also our emotion, mind, and even spirit, but here again I'm ready to continue trying it.

This chance encounter has rekindled my interest in yoga, which is actually the first physical exercise I've practiced regularly in my life. When I was still a junior high school student, I stumbled upon a textbook of what came to be known later as Oki Yoga. I was so fascinated by not only the physical benefits of what I started to practice daily by myself but also its integral approach to life to encompass emotion, mind, and spirit as well.

Actually, I resumed my yoga practice several years ago by attending a course in a derivative of the so-called Iyengar Yoga for two years, but for some purely technical reason I had to stop attending it. In retrospect I can tell now that after I stopped practicing yoga, I started to become emotionally less stable. Last summer right after our wedding my wife and I took a trial lesson in the authentic Iyengar Yoga at Iyengar Yoga Jerusalem, hoping to attend their course for beginners in this academic year. Unfortunately, we had to give up this idea, but we are planning to participate in such a course in the next academic year. In the meanwhile we are practicing this yoga, if not daily, using what I consider the best textbook of Iyengar Yoga written by its initiator himself - Iyengar Yoga.

I can understand better and even more intuitively how yoga can contribute to our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being than how resistance stretching can. I'm also wondering what are the most fundamental differences between Resistance Flexibility and Strength Training and Iyengar Yoga, both of which are supposed to benefit not only our body but also our heart, mind, and spirit, and improve both our flexibility and strength.

PS: I also practice regularly the so-called bodyweight strength training for my strengh as well as ChiRunning and Total Immersion Swimming for my endurance.