Weekly Review & Look Ahead: April 12, 2020
All in all, it was a good week. While there is no doubt it's been an uphill battle adjusting to the 'new normal,' I'd say it's going well. Here’s a look at what I read, listened to, accomplished, contemplated, and enjoyed last week.
I’m excited that Green Hill has found a medical director. While there are still details to sort out, I’m humbled that we were able to interest one of my favorite professionals to join the team.
Nondual time: it’s a bit esoteric for most folks, but the idea that you can function without going to the “thinking mind” has really taken hold. Sure I’m just scratching the surface, but it’s super interesting to approach your experience from the seat of awareness, placing equal weight on internal and external mental and physical phenomena.
Refinanced our house - that should save us $160/month (not bad).
“When Harvard professor John Kotter studied change agents years ago, he found that they typically undercommunicated their visions by a factor of ten. On average, they spoke about the direction of changes ten times less often than their stakeholders needed to hear it.”
This quote hit home for me. While I’ve worked on communicating my vision more effectively, it’s a good lesson to fully internalize. By the time I’m pitching an idea, I’ve probably thought about it for hours from a multitude of angles. For others to buy-in to the idea, they need to hear it repeatedly - I can’t get frustrated when others don’t “get it” the first time.
Learning to practice effortless mindfulness is a completely different experience than the more ubiquitous ‘deliberate’ mindfulness. This book has been an excellent resource in learning effortless mindfulness.
“When we conflate these terms [awareness and attention], we are regarding awareness as a limited type of consciousness that is ‘between’ self, as the subject, and an object, as in ‘I am aware of that cup.’ In this case, awareness is the link between you -- the one who is looking -- and the cup, which is the object of being seen.”
Effortless mindfulness seeks to eliminate the sense of duality between the contents of awareness and awareness itself. “The new feeling is not that ‘awareness is in my body’ but that your body is arising from awareness.”
My top two podcasts from the week were Sam Harris’s interview with Laurie Santos where they discuss Dr. Santos’s research and teachings on happiness. Dr. Santos teaches the most popular class at Yale and now it’s the most popular course on Coursera. American Scandal is one of my favorite shows - they’re a series of dramatizations of scandals throughout American history (think Exxon Valdez, Iran Contra, Tuskegee Syphillis Study, etc.). This week I’ve been listening to the series on the Branch Davidians at Waco.
Can I just be ok with what is? Maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to feel the need to make things better in this moment, or in any moment. How can I spend more time abiding in well-being as opposed to busy-doing?
There is no point at which every to-do list will be done. The idea that “I’ll rest when X, Y, and Z are done” is ridiculous. The mind is a natural busy-maker, always thinking, “things will be better if…” This week I put an earnest effort into resisting the pressure to stay busy and productive. I tried not to continually overwhelm my mind or my to-do list. While I could do a better job of not giving into the busy-making mind, I think it was the best week to date. I’ve glimpsed into equanimity - I’ve tasted the possibility of a life outside the self-imposed rat race of the conceptual mind.
Meditation: I’m sitting daily and I’m starting to enjoy the practice. I’ve always practiced meditation for the small self - the egoic self that wants me to “get better” and “be happier” Now, I’m enjoying the opportunity to just sit and catch glimpses of the “true self.” I’ve continued to find the Waking Up App incredibly useful and I’m grateful for the teachings of Loch Kelly, Richard Lang, and Adyashanti. In particular, Loch Kelly’s The Way of Effortless Mindfulness has been instrumental in my ability to see through the illusory self, for brief glimpses.
Ashtanga (yoga): practiced six days last week. Last week was certainly the “best” my practice has been. Physically, I’m only practicing through supta kurmasana until I can bind (a fraction of my former asana practice). But from a contemplative perspective, I find that asana practices is a great opportunity to practice nondual awareness - the combination of breath, bandhas, and drishti cultivate internal and external awareness.
“Experiencing the ground of awareness-energy simultaneously within and around your body can decrease the self-referencing mind-wandering associated with the default-mode network. This type of mind-wandering ceases when the two networks of the inward and the outward focus become synchronized, and we become more present in our body.” Loch Kelly
Running: I only ran four last week. I’ll probably cut back some on the running now that my fiance and I got bikes, but I’d still like to run 8-10 miles per week.
Reading: I was able to carve out at least 30 minutes to reach six days last week. Over the next year, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read an hour or more daily, but I haven’t worked myself out of enough of my current projects.
Riding bikes! Kelsey and I got bikes last week (early birthday present for her), and got a few rides in our neighborhood and one on the American Tobacco Trail. Looking forward to lots of longer bike rides (once my legs get stronger).
Cooking - we made a few new dishes this week: vegan biscuits and gravy and vegan pizza (from scratch, including the mozzarella). We made it 30 days without eating out, which is probably the longest streak of my life.
Prior Weekly Goals (Work):
Complete paperwork for an additional NC DHHS license - COMPLETE
Receive commitment from prospective medical director - COMPLETE
Prepare all paperwork for insurance contracting (Optum) - COMPLETE
Prepare for meeting with BCBS of NC - ONGOING
Meditate 80-90 minutes/day
Practice yoga six days a week
Use mindful glimpses throughout the day to identify with the context of experience rather than the content of experience
Finish the three main books I’m reading
Run 10 miles
Go mountain biking
Spend quality time with Kelsey: bike 2-3 times; cook dinner each night together; 3-4 long walks with Gizmo
New BCBS presentation / successful meeting with Chief Medical Officer
Submit in-network application to Optum
Co-create Q2 priorities