This is the HEALTH & FITNESS EMPOWERMENT PHRASE my partner & I have been using for over 2 years now.
We say this statement to each other all the time. Several times a week usually.
SHE came up with the idea. It TRANSFORMED my old paradigm around health & fitness in a relationship. Both my intimate relationships & all others.
In previous relationships I always felt GUILTY about my obsession with my health & fitness.
I felt guilty when I wanted to go workout & my partner didn’t.
I felt guilty when my partner wanted desert & I didn’t.
I felt guilty about wanting to eat my own food and not share everything.
I felt guilty when the exercise I wanted to do wasn’t the exercise my partner wanted to do.
These same issues came up at meals & social interactions with family, friends, & colleagues.
I always felt GUILTY if I was choosing something other than whatever the group or other person was doing or choosing. Almost like it was WRONG for me to listen to my own needs (especially when they were different from others).
Ridiculous I know. We are almost always our own worst enemy and usually we just need to get out of our own way. That was definitely my case.
Now I know all of this GUILT was SELF-CREATED, but I needed a paradigm-breaker to show me.
This powerful divine being I call my Phoenix unleashed me from all my guilt around health & fitness in a relationship. In all relationships actually.
Over the last 2.5 years she has shown & taught me that we DO NOT always have to workout together or eat the same thing. That it is completely okay for our health & fitness choices to be different.
Wait. What?! You mean we don’t have to do everything together?! This was a REVELATION to me when it came to intimate relationships. I swear I am quite intelligent. Old me just happened to create a lot of self-oppression in a lot of important life areas that I am now consistently freeing myself from.
My Phoenix & I hike & rollerblade together a lot. In truth our relationship was built upon these two magical activities. ⛰ 💞 ☄
I body-build & do yoga without her most of the times & she encourages this. She joins when she wants to. No pressure from me. No guilt from her.
She enjoys SoulCycle & other group fitness classes by herself & with friends. Sometimes I join. Most often she does this on her own without me.
We cook together & eat together often. However, I usually make my own food and she makes her own food. And we share what we want.
Often times we cook & eat completely different meals in the same kitchen & dining room. The love & shared experience is still intact without any shame or guilt about eating different things.
Other times I eat everything she makes. It rarely goes the other way as I am not the cook in the house. That would be her. Baked chicken is about as technical as I get.
Ultimately, we share our food & fitness when it naturally lines up for BOTH of us. And when it doesn’t…
We encourage one another to LIVE their health & fitness in whatever energetic form that authentically manifests in at that particular moment.
And it is not only OKAY if we are feeling/wanting different things at the same time when it comes to food & fitness. It is a highly APPRECIATED & CONSCIOUSLY ACKNOWLEDGED dynamic aspect of our AWESOME RELATIONSHIP.
This freedom around food, fitness, & individualized health has been nothing short of INCREDIBLE for me personally.
The guilt is gone. The EMPOWERMENT is flowing strong.
As I learned to do this with HER I was able to go & do it with everyone else. I could choose what was best for me in the moment while allowing others to choose what they wanted with no guilt, no shame, & no weird energy.
This has allowed me to have GUILT-FREE FUN being in INTEGRITY with my SELF at all times with all people.
This allows me to have no attachment to what others are doing. If our decisions line up… Great!! If our choices don’t line up… Great!
With HER I am in the best shape of my life. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. And in all areas of life with all types of relationship.
With her I am having an adventure discovering my calling to live as a transformation artist & leader. And it is full of so much joy & wonder! 😄💫🙌🏼
I am forever grateful to HER for all of this. 🙏🏼💓🙏🏼
In closing, I leave you with a few questions & ideas to ponder:
What are your CONSCIOUS or UNCONSCIOUS rules, beliefs, & habits around health & fitness in your relationships?
Are they limiting or empowering?
Do you hold one another back?
Or do you powerfully, positively, & consciously co-create ever-increasing health & fitness (and individual freedom of expression)?
What kind of life do you want when it comes to your health, fitness, & relationships?
The choice is yours. Conscious design. Or happenstance. I leave it up to you.
**This framework can be applied to intimate relationships, family, friends, & colleagues. Or pretty much any relationship in life.**
P.S. You are welcome to use our HEALTH & FITNESS EMPOWERMENT PHRASE. Or feel to come up with your own. I may even borrow yours if I like it better. 😁 🙏🏼
P.P.S. A huge part of SUSTAINABLE & ongoing health, fitness, & transformation is CONSISTENCY. Here is an easy way to stay consistent… Get a partner! 👥 Join me & we will transform together! Sign up for my newsletter & I will keep bringing you fun & fascinating ways to keep the fire of transformation burning hot! 🔥 🌒 🔥
Sign up right here! 👇🏼
Join the alchemical ADVENTURE:
P.P.P.S I swear this is the last post script…LOL! PLEASE SHARE if you found this useful or interesting in any way. Together we TRANSFORM the world so much faster! 😀 Also, LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE! I tend to release a lot more stuff there fist. And it is a great way to stay in touch with me (feel free to message me there).
#LifesRake #FitnessRake #Health #Fitness #Relationships #Alchemize #TheArtOfLiving
In moving cars, parked cars, on flying airplanes, outside, inside, in total quiet, in busy noisy environments, in dark rooms, in the sunshine, at the office, at home, in random hotels and all other sorts of conditions. 365 days of meditation in a vast array of settings.
One year of unerring commitment to my awakening and my own evolution.
I did it. April 13th, 2016. This date marks one full year of meditation. Every day. Twice a day. Two sessions of 20 minutes each day. 40 minutes total per day. I didn’t skip a single meditation. In one year I meditated more than 14,600 minutes (some days I added in an additional session at my own discretion). Over 243 hours.. Over 730 sessions of meditation in the course of a year…
Looking back on this year of experience this is what I have been gifted with by my meditation practice:
1. The deepest most intimate level of self-knowledge, self-awareness, & self-acceptance I’ve ever attained in my life thus far. This has led to a sense of peace & belonging in this body, in this life, and in this world that I was unaware was even available to me in this lifetime.
2. A restoration of self-integrity & personal power that I spent 20+ years avidly destroying with self-abuse, toxic environments, drugs, alcohol, etc.
3. The GREATEST MOST LOVING, ACCEPTING, INTIMATE & UNDERSTANDING RELATIONSHIP I’ve EVER had with another person. This is easily tied as the number one reward of my meditation but I would like to think that I would have had that despite the meditation practice because SHE is that incredible. The kicker is that SHE is the reason I actually had the courage and took the action to begin this meditation journey. If she hadn’t been in my life I don’t think I would have ever begun. So in the end it was HER anyway. I call HER my Phoenix. She’s my best friend, my twin flame. She is the ever-burning FLAME that consistently rekindles my creative fire & inspires me to become the greatest man I can become. I still have a life-time to of work to do, but knowing she’s there with me makes it an exciting journey with a best friend and NOT a pain-staking obligation. I much prefer magical adventures with a magical best-friend over obligations. 🙂
4. The BEST CAREER of my life. I’m a leader and founding team-member of a Stanford startup (Oh My Green! aka OMG). We are a wellness & human potential technology company. I always dreamed of being a part of a Stanford startup. I am living that dream now. And I couldn’t ask for a more fitting industry to be in. After spending over half a decade encouraging the use of alcohol, drugs, & many other fun forms of debauchery during my stint in Hollywood Nightlife I have found redemption within OMG and bring wellness & potential to the world as part of my life’s calling.
*SPECIAL NOTE TO EVERYONE FROM MY HOLLYWOOD NIGHTLIFE PAST: I don’t regret my time in nightlife or think there is anything wrong with nightlife. Nightlife is awesome and it was a crazy awesome adventure! In truth:
I will forever be grateful for my experience in Hollywood Nightlife and forever hold a lot of LOVE for all the people that shared that journey with me.
That time of my life was absolutely necessary to shaping me into who I am and it will always be a deeply important part of my life and who I am.
I think of it as the DARKEST time of my life, but it is within the DARKNESS that I have discovered my strength & power to make a difference in the world.
(My original official Hollywood Nightlife business partners and I… the infamous Revolver Group. We were a FORCE that’s for sure — literally changed the whole game of nightlife. Love & success to you Angela, Andrew, & Benjamin! Forever grateful for the experience we shared!)
(Me & my most recent nightlife business partner & forever dear friend Kennedy (I love you, brother!)… Just another day at the office in the world of nightlife…LOL! No but, seriously… this picture pretty much sums it up… I)
(Another Hollywood throwback favorite… All key players in my life from that time. I have a ton of other honorable mentions from my Hollywood days coming too so stay tuned if I missed you… I just had to finish this piece before my creative fire went out and if I missed you here it bears no refection on your importance in my alchemical journey.)
Special shoutout to Liam and Pen&Public. Liam, you were there in Hollywood pretty much since my beginning. You were basically an unofficial business partner at the same time I was with Revolver. You blessed me with great work then. And then you moved on & created a prestigious boundary-pushing ad agency from your experience. You graced me with great work again after I finished up at Stanford and was trying to figure out my next move. This was the perfect transition that I needed. This time you took our work together to a whole OTHER LEVEL! I’ll never forget my first work event with Pen&Public…. Just a a little concert on a barge in the beautiful San Diego Bay with some small-time companies (Toyota & Pandora)… You are a BEAST, Liam! And forever a dear friend! So very grateful to you & your company. Always.
(This was only the setup for the event… You can see the magic of the event here.)
And now… I, along with my OMG superhero colleagues, hold a vision of wellness & potential for the world. Every week we deliver upon that vision.
Our mission is “empowering people to live healthy & blissful lives.” We are the vanguard of moving this world more fully into that vision of wellness & potential while driving the transformation from the industrial-economy into the age of CONNECTION. I take great joy in co-leading this revolution with my OMG Dream Team.
So what is OMG and who is the OMG Dream Team? I’m glad you asked! I’ll tell you more another time but this following video is a creative project & a testament to me living as a transformation artist & leader within my professional career. This was a vision I had that came about through my mediation practice that I chose to manifest into reality with the graces of the incredible company & team I work with at OMG. This video hold’s our VISION, exudes our ESSENCE, & showcases many of the superheroes on our Team.
*SPECIAL SHOUT TO OUR OMG FOUNDER & CEO, MICHAEL HEINRICH (narrator in video) : I met this magnificent man in one of my last & most favorite classes at Stanford after returning from a 7-8 year leave of absence. Also known as dropping out with only 2 quarters to go… Genius! But, actually one of the best decisions of my life… Michael was working on his master’s degree and had just created the first version of the concept for OMG a few weeks prior in another grad-level class at Stanford as a project. He was working on his class project by being one of the projects in my class. This is confusing but bear with me. Stanford can be confusing to outsiders but when you’re in the innovation hub of the world I swear it all makes sense. As part of my class, Global Entrepreneurial Marketing (aka GEM), we got to work on real-life startups/companies and Michael was pitching his startup class project to our class. I was immediately enamored by him. Call it an instant man-crush if you will. After being gone from Stanford undergrad for almost a decade I was in a class of mostly 20-ish year-olds and desperately looking for friends my age (30-ish). During his presentation he talked about his passion for meditation, yoga, & kung-fu. All things I thought were rad. So, I randomly approached him after his presentation and pretty much said, “I think you are cool, I am looking for friends my age, can we be friends?” He looked at me with the slightest hint of a pause and said, “Sure.” I can’t blame him for the pause. I would have paused too if some random person approached me with a crazed look in their eyes and asked to be friends.
I’ll save the rest of the Michael & Justin story for another time, but I wanted to provide a basis of understanding how the evolution of my career and meditation practice came to be. You see, Michael holds a vision of me that I am still learning to embrace and live. Michael is coming up on a decade of meditation and it was this evolutionary man who gifted me with my meditation practice. It was the first major OMG company benefit. He literally showed me the bridge to another life and paid my toll. He paid for my life partner as well. I think he somehow knew I needed her with me to take the leap of faith. If that isn’t belief in another, faith, unconditional love & compassion, and a whole lot of intuition then I don’t know the meaning of those words. **I cried writing this part… that is how deeply his graciousness towards me & my Phoenix has touched me.**
I now know that meditation is one of the most important things in my life and I will forever be grateful to our visionary OMG Commander-in-Chief. We call him Captain Kirk and we are definitely on the Starship. In him I found not only someone I could follow, but someone who empowered me to lead in ways that were deeply authentic to my core being. I am still learning how to both follow & lead, but with my spiritual brother it has been a lot of fun and a very much an exciting journey!
5. I am living my creative vision of being a transformation artist & leader as a writer, blogger/vlogger, & alchemist. This here ever-expanding blog and my ever-growing Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, & Twitter are all LIVING EXPRESSIONS of this vision.
I creatively express with integrity & authenticity AND I have a full-time job at a fast-growing Stanford startup at the same time! I never thought I could live my creative dreams and at the same time live my Stanford startup dream. I always thought I would have to choose one or the other. Turns out that was just a limiting & false belief I inadvertently “chose” to believe.
I thought about this writing & blogging/vlogging vision pretty much every week since 2005-ish. I didn’t even start writing until January 31, 2015. Yes… I thought about writing and blogging/vlogging for almost 10 years and had never filmed a video or creatively written outside of a school/class assignment…. And even that writing was pretty lame, inauthentic, and uncreative writing that was written for the sole purpose of getting good grades. More on that 10 years of waiting to “start when I was ready” here.
My meditation practice began a few months after my writing. And here we are today… I am a writing machine! And I’m becoming a filming beast too! This article explains how I started my writing and this article explains my current practice of 500+ words of writing per day. The next step for me is to copy my writing formula and apply it to my video & audio ventures.
My vision of myself as a transformation artist & leader is in its infancy but the epic journey is well underway! Finally! And my role at OMG supports and empowers this vision. I literally have permission and encouragement by my company CEO to live this vision in every way possible and he is constantly providing opportunities to empower this vision. Wait, I can have a job and live my dreams?!A whole new world of possibility revealed itself this last year…
I am still learning to live in this realm of possibility and I do fall out of it, but thankfully I have my Phoenix & Captain Kirk to lend a hand when I stumble.
(Michael aka “Captain Kirk”, me aka “Dragon“, & Phoenix at StartX – Stanford’s startup accelerator where OMG got it first major boost)
6. I am sober, happy, & very much ALIVE (feeling magical again without drugs!). After becoming sober from marijuana I felt like I lost the “magic transcendental” space I was regularly put in through my use of cannabis. Through meditation I have rediscovered the innocent joy and magic of life without drugs or alcohol.
I’ve somehow recaptured the wonder of childhood where I didn’t need drugs to see & experience the magic of life on a regular basis.
(CAUTION: Man-child at play… No alcohol or drugs powered this Peter-Pan flight! :P)
For the record, at the time of this writing I am over 3 years sober from marijuana and will be two years sober from alcohol in September 2016. I was an everyday pot-smoker for 4-5 years and quasi-alcoholic since 2002. I am still confused by what really qualifies as alcoholism as I rarely drank by myself, but I did drink circumstantially with regularity. I binge drank like crazy during college the first time around and I’m sure one can imagine how often I drank while working in nightlife… Basically every day of work… I am sure different people living different lifestyles could argue either way. In the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’ve always wanted that sense of magic & wonder I had during childhood back. When I lost it growing up I rediscovered it in drugs and alcohol, but I the side-effects took a heavy toll… [more on that here]. Now, thanks to my meditation, I got my natural & innate magic back!⚡️☄🐉
7. I am in the best physical shape of my life. No steroids or crazy illegal supplements. There is another practice that played an even greater part of this and I will be sharing that in another post in the near future [signup here if you want to make sure I email it to you when I finally release it]. My eating strategy and philosophy also plays a huge role (post coming on that too). Nonetheless, the meditation definitely plays a significant part and empowers the other techniques I use to be in awesome shape year-round.
(No steroids, no illegal supplements, all-natural FitnessRake & FlexEating — my fun, flexible, & year-round flex-worthy eating strategy/philosophy. Post on FlexEating in-development…sign up here to receive it when it’s released.)
8. Space. Meditation gave me space. Space in my mind. Space in my emotions. Space in my reactions to things in life. You could also call it awareness or mindfulness. The more I meditate the more space I discover. I am able to pause before reacting to things that would have set off pre-meditating Justin. This has done WONDERS for my relationship and just about every other area of my life. Instead of reacting, I respond from a place spaciousness & awareness. It is so much more powerful & profound than reacting.
9. Clarity. Clarity of intent. Clarity of action. In other words, I am also in the best mental shape of my life. Again, the more I meditate the clearer both my being and action in the world becomes. It is a slow and subtle shift and I am really only noticing it a year later, but now looking at all that I’ve done in the last year even I am amazed at the crystallization of long-held dreams and personal accomplishment.
10. A radical reduction of the frequency and intensity of my ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, & NEGATIVE MENTAL/EMOTIONAL STATES. Looking back I can confidently say that I’ve experienced at least a 50% reduction in both the frequency and intensity of my anxiety and bouts of depression. It may even be as a 70-80% reduction, but I am still observing myself in comparison to a year ago and it isn’t an exact quantification process. Nonetheless, considering that I am not currently doing therapy or taking any prescription/recreational drugs this is HUGE! I am naturally able to stay in positive states more often & regularly. AND… I move through darker states much more easily now thanks to my meditation practice.
11. A deep understanding, appreciation, and acknowledgement of my power to commit to something. This alone has unlocked me in so many ways. Commitment has been a big area of healing, growth, & transformation for me. Since meditation I have come a LONG way from my old uncommitted-self. And now that I’ve completed 1-year without breaking my commitment to meditation…
I KNOW WITH PERFECT FAITH THAT I HAVE THE POWER TO TRULY COMMIT TO ANYTHING IF I CHOOSE TO.
The secret is in the power of decision & choice. When I began this meditation journey I made the decision that I would meditate twice-a-day. Every. Single. Day. For 365 days in a row. I CHOSE because I CHOSE. And I decided that there was no exception to this decision.
When I crystalized that decision in my head & heart and took that stand… EVERYTHING in my life adjusted itself to support that choice.
There were some days where I had to jockey my schedule and get creative, but honestly most days it was pretty easy to accomplish simply because I made a decision that had no exceptions. I also didn’t allow there to be any excuse for reneging on this agreement I made with myself.
I believe anyone can do this with anything important in their life. But first, one must FULLY & COMPLETELY make a decision and fully stand in that choice. I am still very much learning how to do this in other areas of my life. I did that with OMG when I finally committed & came on full-time. And again, this choosing to commit TRANSFORMED my life. I’ve done it in my relationship with my Phoenix and my commitment to ever-continuous healing, growth, & transformation, but I still have plenty of areas where I still need to heal & transform my responsibility & commitment. I’ve also committed to sharing these healing/healed wounds here on this blog once they are at a level where I believe the sharing will be of service.
Special note: I am still questioning and exploring just how many things you can an “ideal commitment” with at the same time. I chose ONE thing and committed to it for a year. If you are thinking about trying an “ideal commitment” be wise and choose to do this with only one thing as you test it out for yourself in some new area of your life. Chances are you already have a “ideal commitment” like this to something in your life (partner, paying taxes, your career advancement, etc.). Take a moment and look at your life. Look and see what you are doing in the areas of your life where you naturally already have an “ideal commitment” and try applying it to another area. I can almost guarantee you have at least one, if not several “ideal commitments” that some deep part of you made with unwavering commitment. Good chance you made some of these without even being aware of how deep your commitment was. I did this with my exercise, although I didn’t realize it at the time. For years I trained relentlessly, almost never taking a day off from the gym. I eventually learned that it is better to have some rest days (more on that later), but for whatever reason when I began my Transcendental Meditation practice I immediately applied the same conviction and it turned into 365+ days in a row.
If you decide to to consciously initiate another “ideal commitment” and you fail — forgive yourself and begin again. I’ve committed to plenty of things and broken the commitment over and over again. My writing & blogging is a living example of a reoccurring broken agreement with myself despite this commitment. One thing is for sure though. As soon as I publicly posted that piece of creative work regarding my commitment I instantly began holding to the agreement more often than not. And since sharing my commitment to this endeavor my commitment just keeps on growing stronger. Yay! Accountability leveraged to the hilt with social media! 😛 Accountability is a powerful tool (another thing I am finally learning).
I don’t know if I got lucky with my “ideal commitment” to meditation or what. But I know I could do it again. 😉
So… Why Transcendental Meditation?
Before I discovered Transcendental Meditation (TM) I would have thought you were bat-shit crazy if you had told me that I could meditate anywhere at any time in any environment, let alone keep it up every day for an entire year. And I probably would have thought of punching you when you told me to do it twice a day. You see I had this preconceived notion that you basically HAD to have a monk-like environment to meditate and sit in some uncomfortable position.
After a year of meditation in all sorts of environments that limiting belief has been completely shattered.
I also always thought that my mind was just too busy and active to ever meditate. Before TM I thought “I think too much to ever truly meditate.” I had even tried several different meditation practices and failed miserably. I still remember having to do a group a meditation during my yoga teacher trainer certification and literally feeling like I was going out of mind. My monkey mind literally feeling like I was going to break, go insane, and just walk out on the group. I stuck through it though… Despite the misery of it… It was a basic breath-based meditation and it was before I learned TM.
As I mentioned earlier, my foundational meditation practice is Transcendental Meditation (TM). This is a specific technique of meditation that is mantra-based. Do I think it is THE WAY ONLY WAY TO MEDITATE? Definitely not. Just like I don’t think bodybuilding and yoga are the only ways to exercise. They just happen to be natural modes of physical expression for my unique body. TM happens to be a mental practice I naturally experience affinity with. Furthermore, bodybuilding, yoga, & transcendental meditation not only work really well for me…
I regularly experience deep joy, love, & happiness from my practice of these disciplines.
I also still rollerblade and as much as I want to bring rollerblading back into vogue the point I am making is that does not mean any of those practices are for you (although you should definitely give rollerblading another shot). The only way to find out is to try it for yourself. I know people who have been doing TM for years and I know people who have done TM and decided it wasn’t for them. And in both cases my belief in their invaluable worth as people is definitely not determined by their meditation practice no matter its current state.
Here is what works for me about Transcendental Meditation (TM):
It is easy & it works for me. Probably the most important points.
It is a specific technique that works exceptionally well with my hyperactive, always-thinking, overly-cerebral mind.
You can literally do it ANYWHERE in ANY ENVIRONMENT/CONDITION.
You don’t need any external thing to do it. Just your beautiful & divine self. And you are always with you. No app, no special clothing, no special place, & no timer needed. (Personally, I do usually use a timer-alarm to avoid falling into a super long meditation and messing up my daily schedule, but I know plenty of TM-ers who use no alarm at all.)
IN SHORT RECAP ON WHY I USE TM:
It the most dynamic & robust meditation technique I’ve discovered. It is easy & it works (scientifically & personally proven).For an entrepreneur or anyone who has a very active life these qualities make it a sustainable practice that can live within & EMPOWER just about any lifestyle.
Please note the emphasis on “I”. This practice may not be for everyone. It is an invaluable practice for me personally.
On a random side note, what is really personally interesting for me is that TM has opened me up to explore & really embrace several types of meditation. Where as before I tried them and could barely get through a few minutes I can now do them easily. I like to think about it in the sense that since I bodybuild and do yoga I am naturally fairly good at most things that require physical effort. TM is like my mental bodybuilding/yoga and over the course of the last year I’ve delved into mindfulness, Yoga Nidra, lucid dreaming, and various guided mediations. All with great ease and enjoyment. There is a list of other types meditation that I am into at the bottom of another article I wrote [see here].
Here is what I DO NOT necessarily appreciate about TM:
The training to learn it can be pretty expensive. Mine was over $700 and that is why it was such a huge deal that Michael gifted it to me & my partner. I have mixed feelings about the cost. On one hand I know from personal experience that when something isn’t cheap to get you tend to care a whole lot more for it, proactively invest your time & energy into it, and actually make strong & regular use of it. “Getting your money’s worth” is a saying that comes to mind. So, I can see how the steep cost of TM actually can play a large role in people sticking with it long enough to experience and notice the benefits and by that time the chances of them keeping the practice indefinitely go way up. In that light, the cost could be considered a benefit. On the other hand, it can be a limiting factor that scare people away or make it inaccessible to some. I believe there are discounts, scholarships, and financial need available to those in need but don’t quote me on that.
There is a weird social stigma around TM floating around on the internet and among groups of people. It reminds me of the Mac versus Windows ridiculousness. Or the cult-like following or avoidance of Apple products in general. For the record it is not a cult. The TM organization does NOT harass me in any way. They do not even randomly call me and try to get me to spend more of my money. Even my beloved alma mater does that! [I actually appreciate it by-the-way because I love giving back to Stanford. Keep calling me! I used to make those calls to raise money for Stanford too.]. Here is the way I think of it: if you think TM is a cult then you should also consider the following successful companies as cults by the same logic: SoulCycle, Nike, Apple, Amazon, Whole Foods, etc. All of these companies are hyper successful in their field of business. So is TM. It just happens to do business in the field of meditation. I think that any organization or person doing work to bring mediation to world is doing something valuable & noble.
Ok, I think that is a concise and honest overview of the pros & cons of TM as specific meditation practice. Now back to the big picture…
Here is how I like to think about my meditation practice:
It is an infinite ever-expanding foundation.
As you invest in the practice the foundation grows with each session. It is the foundation which you can build everything else in your life upon. Want to build a castle in the sky? You will need a foundation for that. Can you build a home without a foundation? Sure, but maybe only one or two stories high. And the longevity & vitality of that house will be severely limited & compromised. Can you build a skyscraper that touches the clouds & sky above without a foundation? Definitely not. Is meditation the ONLY foundation upon which to build your castle? Nope, there are plenty of incredible people doing incredible things that don’t meditate. But I guarantee you they have discovered some foundation which to build upon — faith, family, mindset, & other various human potential practices. Meditation is just one scientifically proven foundation.
The other aspect of regular meditation that is so powerful and may be under-realized is that it acts like an AMPLIFIER to every positive thing you do in your life. And in converse it acts as DAMPENER to the harmful things you still do… often leading to the release of these negative habits.
I personally witnessed this positive amplification and negative dampening in so many areas of my life now that I’m looking back over the last year. I am utterly in awe! But it all happens so subtly with meditation and often it was easy to miss it happening. It is only retrospect that I can see just how much of impact meditation has had in so many ways.
DO PEOPLE YOU KNOW & ADMIRE MEDITATE?
You would be surprised at how many incredibly successful & happy people DO meditate. I know I was when I first began to explore my meditation practice. As I delved into it I realized that a lot of people I admire meditate, but aren’t overly open about it. Not that they hide it, they just don’t speak about it much. It was like the common force-factor, or golden-thread, that many people I admired shared. Here are a some of my favorites: Hugh Jackman (aka Wolverine — my personal favorite), George Lucas, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Simmons, Russel Brand, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Ferriss (another personal favorite), Justin Boreta of The Glitch Mob (one of my favorite music groups), Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Bridges, Cheryl Crow, Ellen Degeneres, Cameron Diaz, Clint Eastwood, Eva Mendes, Rick Rubin, Miguel (R&B artist), Moby, Katy Perry, Martin Scorsese, Howard Stern, Liv Taylor, Ray Dalio and so many other famous & uber successful people. AND just about every recent spiritual leader (Ghandi, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, etc.). And let us not forget Buddha & Jesus and all the other great spiritual masters of our short human history.
I am also taking a wild guess that probably a lot of the super successful people you admire meditate and you may not even be aware of it.
As in pretty much all areas of life, what is most important is finding what is enjoyable and sustainable for you & your lifestyle. I cannot emphasis the word ENJOYABLE & SUSTAINABLE enough. If it is not personally FUN (as in you like to do it) then you will likely not keep it up over a long period of time. This is incredibly true for a physical fitness routine and the same truth applies to most areas of life I think. Think about it… If you don’t enjoy your marriage or job chances are you will eventually give it up despite the original commitment and agreements you made.
I had to do a lot of exploring to find a meditation practice that I could easily stick to. TM happened to be that for me. Does it help that most of the living famous people I mentioned above also do TM? Yes it does. Am I following? Yes I am. I have learned that if you want to be a great leader you have to be a great follower. Then you add your own unique alchemical twist to it all and authentically lead in your own way. 😉
Before I end this let’s dispel some common myths about me & meditation in general:
Can I levitate and move objects with my mind? Not yet, but I am still working on it. I can do some pretty cool yoga poses and I like to jump around (see picture above). Nonetheless, I’ve yet to meet a meditator who can fly or has the power of telekinesis. However, there is something about the increase of synchronicity that happens with meditation the longer you do it. And that is truly magical! It isn’t really something I can fully explain (yet) but the increase of random incredible things syncing up and happening for the betterment of my life is palpable compared to the years before I meditated.
Do I have mind-control over myself & others? I definitely have a much more harmonious relationship with my mind and the minds of others. I am not able to 100% control my monkey mind or make other people do things they don’t want to do. True power is self-mastery. And meditation has been playing a huge part for me in coming into greater mastery over my own mind. I still have a long way to go, but I’m infinitely further along than I was a year ago.
Have I completely removed breakdowns and all darker states of being & existence? LOL! This is life. I am human. I still have dark days, experience failure, over-react, and cause pain/suffering/hurt to others and myself. Even superheroes experience all of this. But I now have a level of power to move through these experiences with grace that was unavailable to me before meditation. And for that I am deeply thankful and have greater faith in myself and my life during the rainy days.
Have I fully overcome all of my anxiety & depression of the past? Nope. They are still with me. I still find myself experiencing mind-breaking levels of anxiety at times and do still fall into mini-bouts of depression [see here for more on that]. BUT! The frequency and intensity of these states has dramatically reduced over the course of the last year of meditation. I’ve also discovered the space to meet and embrace these states with compassion instead of trying to fight, beat, or kill them. I also discovered that resisting these states only seems to make them stronger and endure longer. I now have the space and courage to heal & integrate my anxiety and depression as they come up in everyday life thanks to my meditation.
Do I literally stop my thinking mind through my meditation practice? Ha! Ya right! I still have a billion thoughts whizzing around in my mind quite regularly. However, I do find myself falling into pure presence more and more. This is feeling of complete being with everything that is suspended from time. I am still coming to understand this, but I think it is what some would call a blissful state of existence. Also, my ability to focus has dramatically increased due to my meditation. This has benefits in so many areas of my life. Think about it. How much more could you do if you could really focus well on the things that are important to you?
The fact that I am living a dream working at a Stanford startup in Silicon Valley, while consistently expanding my vision of myself as transformation artist & leader through my blog & on other social media platforms, am in excellent physical health & condition, have an incredibly happy & harmonious relationship with a divine being & my family, etc. should all speak to the power of focus I derive from a regular meditation practice. I am far from perfect. I know this. I have tons of growth still to do. But now I am firing on way more pistons at the same time in unison. And it seems like the longer I meditate the more horsepower I get to use for whatever I find personally meaningful & important.
Do I sit in lotus pose or cross-legged every time I meditate? I can’t even do lotus pose (yet) and I am a certified yoga teacher. This is mostly due to an old hip injury from a bike/car accident (I was on the bike). But the truth is that lotus pose has ZERO bearing on one’s ability to meditate. And I don’t think I sat cross-legged for even one meditation session in the last year. All that is really important is to have a straight (but relaxed) spine. Most of the time I sit up in a bed, chair, or couch. If I am outside I will usually find something to rest my back against. One of the keys to great sustainable meditation is being comfortable while you meditate. The common vision of the yogi sitting in lotus or cross-legged is because those people do yoga every day and have been for years. Sitting in those positions is comfortable for them. For many of us those two sitting positions are painful or even impossible. The truth is most of the time when I meditate I sit in my bed with my back against the headrest and my legs fully extended out in front of me resting along the mattress. Nice & comfortable for me. Find a meditation and mediation posture that works for you, don’t buy into some purposeless dogma that demands a certain position. Meditation is an inner pose.
Is every meditation amazing & serene? Definitely not. Just like my bodybuilding & yoga sessions some days are pure joy and full of transcendence. Other times I feel off and out of my power. Some meditations literally suck and I just bear through the 20 minutes. Just like some of my exercise sessions suck. Yet each time I complete a workout or a meditation never have I thought, “that was a waste of time.” The magic comes from the regular practice. I’ve discovered that the practice, process or journey is the real fortune of meditation, bodybuilding, yoga, or any endeavor really.
Did I get instant results? Again, I return to my bodybuilding and yoga analogy. One bodybuilding session or even several isn’t going to suddenly make me ripped and shredded. One yoga session or even a few won’t completely realign my body and make me super flexible. The fruit is in the ongoing practice. Until I sat down to write this piece I wasn’t even fully aware of all the incredible benefits of my year of daily meditation. The transformation is slow and subtle… But it’s lasting! REMEMBER: ever-growing foundation upon which you can build upon.
I think that is it for now. I may or may not come back at some point and add some more if it comes to me, but I think this is a pretty comprehensive review of my experience from of a year of daily meditation.
In closing I leave you with this…
Did meditation solve all my problems? No. I still have tons of growth opportunities. But it did slow-motion catapult me into a RADICAL NEW REALM OF POSSIBILITY. It is paradoxical because the transformation happens ever-so-slowing. But it is lasting & compounds over time. Over weeks or even a couple months it seems like nothing happened. Over a year… Two different worlds.
One last thing to note is that I have been experiencing what some would call an awake transcendent state. These just started happening towards the end of my year of meditation. Or I just started becoming aware of them. Either way, I am still coming to understand them. For now I am content to enjoy the mystery of them and sit in ambiguity. All I can really say for now is that these experiences are so worth a year of daily meditation! You can read about the experiences here & here. Fair warning, these are direct from my journal I keep and may be a little confusing.
If you read this far… Thank you! I deeply appreciate your curiosity and hope you enjoyed reading about my journey with meditation so far. If you didn’t, that’s okay too. You see, I really wrote this for me. I wanted to commemorate something that is so deeply intimate and profound to me and the best way for me to honor that was by writing about it and then sharing it without attachment to how long it ended up being or having any attachment to the response it got. I am grateful to anyone and everyone who even read a sentence of this and shared in my honor and acknowledgment of a major milestone in my life.
And if you are curious about meditation… Go explore! I truly believe there is a meditation practice for everyone! You just have to be open to the possibility and take courageous action until you find one that clicks. And I promise you will know when it does. If it hasn’t clicked yet and you have been exploring it just means you’re meant to keep being curious, open, & actively searching. Hell, I am still curious and exploring the infinite inner realms through various modes of transportation. I am NOT in it for the destination. I am in it for the alchemical journey! Feel free to join me! 😀
Counting magic is a secret I have been using for years to maximize my exercise repetitions and volume. Whether I am lifting super heavy weights, going for high volume (lots of reps), or doing any type of exercise that involves more than one repetition this little trick pays off huge over time. Even in the course of one workout it can make a big difference. Used throughout a few months or years it is revolutionary.
The idea behind counting magic is pretty straightforward. It is purely a mental trick with numbers to get your body to do more than it thinks it can. Or put into other words, you are tricking your mind into thinking your body has less to do than it really does. There are a few types of counting magic that I regularly use. These are the most common counting strategies I use:
Chunking: This version you just break the overall number of repetitions into two or more smaller groups. Together they add up to the total number of reps you are trying to reach. You still do all the reps in one set, but in your head or out-loud you count in chunks. If you workout with a partner and he/she counts for you just have them count this way for you. I.E. You have twelve reps in one set that you are trying to reach. Instead of counting from one to twelve, you would count from one-to-six twice. Or one-to-four three times. Or one-to-three four times. This sounds more complicated than it is. Just count out loud “one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three.” Add that together and you have twelve reps. Easy-peasy.
Counting-down: As simple as the name suggests. Instead of counting to eight by counting one… two… three…four… five… six… seven… eight. You count down eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two…one. This tricks your mind into thinking you have less to do even though your body is getting more fatigued as you progress through the set. When you are pushing yourself to go as heavy as you can repping out that sixth, seventh, and eighth one seems extremely hard from a mental perspective. For your mind it just seems easier when you think three reps left, two reps left, and almost there, just one more rep!
Topping-off: This one is a variation of chunking. Say I have a set of twelve reps to do. First, I will count to eight from one. Then I’ll say to myself, “only four more” and I’ll count in my head “one…two….” then I’ll say to myself, “okay, only two more” and again count in my head “one…two!” And again I reached a total number of twelves reps but broken it down into mentally smaller pieces.
There are other variations and you can combine all the ones listed here together. Maybe you already have some counting-tricks of your own (please share with me if you do). Or maybe you will come up with some new ones of your own (please share with me as well). Email me with your ideas [firstname.lastname@example.org].
I mix and match in different ways every workout just to confuse the hell out of my mind and maximize my physical capacity. This gives your brain mental exercise, makes you better at arithmetic, and keeps you from getting bored (especially if you have the same daily/weekly routine). I mostly use these strategies for weightlifting, plyometrics and body-weight exercises, but have also used them for cardio-intervals when I needed the help to get through grueling sessions or on days I am just more tired than usual. For example, you can use chunking to break your 30 minutes of cardio into three sets of 10 minutes (maybe even do three types of cardio). Or four sets of 5 minutes to reach a total of 20 minutes. The combinations are truly endless.
This all seems almost ridiculous but I encourage you to give it a shot. You will be surprised at how much easier this will make reaching your intended reps or cardio goals. Your mind almost always gives out before your body. You are much stronger than you think.
***Don’t feel like reading? Watch my YouTube version of this article***
I was obsessed with cinnamon toast crunch as a kid growing up. Despite eating fairly healthy I did not give up my love for the ridiculously sugar-laden cereal until college. In high school I would even have a protein shake with my morning cinnamon toast crunch. Hey, I had a healthy muscle-building protein shake. I deserved a treat, right?!
When I got to college I turned bodybuilding into my daily hobby/sport. I had played soccer since age 7 through till the end of high school. As I began to get more into bodybuilding I began to take my eating/diet much more seriously. Cinnamon toast crunch was not on the list of bodybuilding-approved food. I reluctantly gave it up. For almost a decade I did not have my beloved Cinnamon Taste Crunch.
In the last couple of years I formed the habit of food-hacking and developing my own FitnessRake versions of favorite foods and meals. For the last several months I have had cinnamon toast crunch almost every single day, albeit my own creative healthy remix of the childhood favorite. Before I share the recipe and ingredients I ask that you withhold your judgement until you make it and try it for yourself. It sounds quite flavorless as the main ingredients are quite bland in of themselves. Good foodie-friends of mine have literally gagged at me just mentioning cottage cheese. I love the stuff, but even if you don’t you will barely notice it. Save your judgement until after you have taken a bite. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.
Fat free cottage cheese
Fiber Cereal (I use FiberOne cereal or the Trader Joe’s version of fiber cereal)
Milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk or unsweetened almond/coconut blend)
Cinnamon (preferably ceylon instead of the cheaper cassia type of cinnamon)
Calorie free sweetener (I use Stevia as it tastes best to me and my intuitive guess is that something made from a plant like Stevia is less harmful than the other alternatives. Nonetheless, any calorie-free sweetener works.)
HOW TO MAKE IT
Scoop cottage cheese into bowl. Serving size depends on how much you want to eat. I usually have 1-2 servings.
Sprinkle cinnamon directly on top of cottage cheese . I use quite a bit of cinnamon, but use your own discretion.
Pour fiber cereal over the cinnamon-laden cottage cheese. I rarely have more than a 1.5 servings of fiber cereal at a time .
Sprinkle sweetener over fiber cereal. I use 2-4 packs of Stevia per bowl. I like it sweet and sugary-tasting like the original cinnamon toast crunch. Try different levels of sweetness until you find one that suits you.
 It is a key step to put the cinnamon directly onto the cottage cheese so that it gets soaked up. If you put it on top of the fiber cereal you risk inhaling and choking on the cinnamon. Not fun, but feel free to try eating cinnamon straight if you are feeling adventurous.
 In my own experience I have found that I get mild stomach discomfort if I have 2 or more servings of fiber cereal per bowl of FitnessRake Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Feel free to test your own limits though. Everyone’s body is different. Some people will be able to handle more fiber per bowl, and others less. The key for me is to space out my fiber cereal intake throughout the day.
With all my FitnessRake food-hacks my goal is to minimize calories, maximize satiety, curb appetite, build & maintain lean muscle, boost metabolism, reduce body-fat, detoxify, and achieve health benefits for the body. I usually try to stack as many of these prerogatives into one meal or snack. In the case of FitnessRake Cinnamon Toast Crunch I have achieved all of these directives.
Fat free cottage cheese is extremely low in calories (80 calories per serving).
Almond milk almost doesn’t count (30 calories per serving). I usually only need half a serving or less per bowl.
Stevia (or any calorie free sweetener): Use as much as you like. Go HAM. There are zero calories in it. And if you are worried about ancillary health effects and aren’t tied to keeping your calories low then feel free use honey or agave. Monk fruit sweetener is another option that is calorie free.
Cinnamon, like most spices, is calorie free.
It tastes like cinnamon toast crunch. Let your man-child/woman-child roar!
Fiber fills you up and makes you feel full. Insoluble fiber is like free calories. Your body can’t break it down and it just takes up space in your stomach making you feel full until it passes through you.
Cottage cheese is slow protein. The kind of protein that takes 7-8 hours to process. It also keeps you feeling full with it’s slow-digesting powers. I start my day with cottage cheese to stay feeling full all day and have some before bed to make sure I don’t wake up hungry.
Cinnamon slows the processing of your food which is awesome when you want to stay feeling full longer. Cinnamon combined with calorie free sweetener tricks your brain into thinking it had a treat. Treats equal feelings of happiness.
Build & maintain lean muscle:
Fat free cottage cheese is chocked full of protein. 14 grams of protein per serving with only 4 grams of carbs. I prefer to eat all my protein so give me FitnessRake Cinnamon Toast Crunch all day long over boring unfulfilling protein powder.
Fat free cottage cheese is casein protein. This is the slowest-digesting form of protein. This is what professional body builders take before they go to sleep to give their muscles a constant slow-burn source of muscle building protein. Don’t worry ladies, fat-free cottage cheese or casein won’t bulk you up. It’s leaner than chicken and fish.
Cinnamon is incredible for your metabolism and the processing of food in your body. Cinnamon helps your body’s insulin process which is a major factor in your metabolism. Additionally, like hot peppers, cinnamons gives you a slight boost in metabolism speed. It takes your body extra energy to break the cinnamon down. I try to put it on everything I think it will taste good in, including my coffee.
Casein increases metabolic rate during sleep.
Cinnamon is a winner again. It helps your body break down and utilize carbs so your body doesn’t have to store them as fat. It aids your body’s insulin levels which plays a critical role in how much body fat you carry on your frame.
Studies show that belly fat is more sensitive to cinnamon than other fat stores in your body. Cinnamon supports your six-pack.
Casein supports muscle retention. As you look to achieve a lower body-fat level keeping your muscle is crucial. The more muscle you have the more efficient your body becomes at burning calories and burning fat.
Casein is has been shown to lead to more optimal fat levels.
Insoluble fiber (from fiber cereal) does an awesome job of detoxifying your system. It literally cleans your colon and intestines. Gross, yes I know. But it is incredibly good for your body. Many people carry loads of junk and toxic material in their intestine and it just sits there for years. Insoluble fiber acts like a steel brush and scrubs your insides releasing the built up gunk to be passed through your next visit to go the bathroom to go “number two.” Keeping your waste elimination system in an optimal state is a key to health and fitness and often overlooked as it isn’t the most appetizing topic (pun intended).
FITNESSRAKE TIPS, TRICKS, STRATEGIES, & SECRETS
I am an eternal strategist. I build strategy into pretty much everything I do. Here are some of the secret strategies, tips, and tricks I use with FitnessRake Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
I have a bowl right before I go to a lunch or dinner meeting. One serving of both fat free cottage cheese and fiber cereal with a fourth of a serving of almond milk with as much cinnamon and Stevia as I want. That’s 148 calories. That is about the same as a glass of soda, wine, mixed drink, or cup of coffee with cream and sugar. By the time you get to lunch or dinner your body will already have realized that it isn’t starving and you will be much less likely to order too much food and/or over-eat.
Have a bowl before a meeting so you don’t come home starving.
Have a bowl before you go to a function or meet-up where they have snacks, donuts, pizza, drinks, etc. With the power of FitnessRake Cinnamon Toast Crunch your chances of giving into temptation go down dramatically.
Have a bowl before you hit the gym or workout. Steady slow-burn source of muscle-building protein and complex carbs to keep your energy up.
So there you have it! My FitnessRake food-hacked version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Let the child within you rule again while still achieving your health and fitness goals! Don’t be ashamed if you start eating it every day multiple times a day. I do. It feeds my inner child and fuels my lean and mean body. And that keeps me happy and healthy.