“Whack-a-Thought” Meditation Technique

In a guided meditation app that I use, an interesting and fun game that they introduced as “Whack-a-Thought.” Quite similar to the arcade-favorite “Whack-a-Mole” albeit less violent and in relation to a mindfulness practice.

Hand Tally CounterOften times, intrusive thoughts can plague and detract from our meditation experience and we often struggle with being with them. There is a misconception that we have to block out these thoughts during meditation, but that is the opposite of what we should be doing. Being mindfully aware of our thoughts, not dwelling and obsessing over them, and not blocking them out is the key to a successful practice. As thoughts arise, acknowledge them, give it a name if you can, let it go and return to your breath. Repeat as often as needed.

An interesting tool that I picked up for this technique is a hand tally counter much like you would see in the hands of someone at a ticket gate. At times when I am dealing with racing thoughts and need to slow my anxiety down, I will take the tally counter in my hand and sit down and meditate with it. Every time that I have a thought arise, I click the counter. The goal is to click the counter as few times as possible, much like scoring in golf but don’t feel like its a competition to get the lowest score. For me, if I start off clicking the counter every few seconds or so but then slow down to once every 10 seconds, I consider that a success. I have found that the tactile feedback of using the counter helps engrain the healthy habit of acknowledging a though and releasing it while still being mindful of the thoughts that I am experiencing at the time.

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” – Pema Chodron

 

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DIY Pelican Motorcycle Top Case

Mixing things up a bit here with a more motorcycle-centric post. Recently I fashioned my own top case to Murdock, my F800GS Adventure and here is a walkthrough on how I went about it.

To preface, I love my bike and everything about it minus the fact that parts and accessories can be ridiculously expensive for it. A problem that I was running into was having a secure storage space that would be permanently affixed to the bike for whenever I would commute or carry valuables. Normally I only run my Mosko Moto side bags when I go on longer trips since they add to the width of my bike making it a little more challenging to split the heavy California traffic. I do have a pair of tail bags meant for the sissy-bar of a Harley (hey, you use what resources you have available to you) but it didn’t have much storage capacity nor was it securable from the casual thief or the elements. Yeah, the big aluminum hard cases are nice but the $480 + $200 mounting rack to get one is a bit overpriced in my opinion.

After some quick research, I opted for mounting a pelican case on top of the existing stock luggage plate. Pelican cases 20170421_171956are durable, waterproof, and a lot cheaper when compared to their aluminum counterparts. I bought this Pelican 1500 with foam off of Amazon for $106. Hardware from Home Depot was about $6 and I already had all the tools needed. I went with the 1500 case due to its size both internally and externally on the bike. Could I have gotten a bigger one? Yes, but I don’t necessarily need anything bigger. If your storage needs are different though, the steps I took will apply to any sized plastic case that you decide to go with.

After getting the Pelican case, I made a quick trip to Home Depot to pick up some longer bolts, large washers, and some silicone sealant. Don’t overthink this step, as its really whatever you can make work. I ended up taking one of the stock bolts for the rear 20170421_184737.jpgluggage plate with me so that I could match the threads. Most hardware stores that I have been to have a handy gauge near the nuts and bolts where you can try fitting what part you already have into the gauge. The stock bolts are 55mm long and the ones I got from Home Depot are 65mm long. Large washers are a must as they help diffuse the pressure from the bolts across a larger area on the plastic of the pelican case so that the bolts don’t end up pulling through on all the bumpy roads you go down. The silicone, though I haven’t applied it yet, is to make the pelican case waterproof again after drilling through the bottom of it in the mounting process.

The hardest part of the whole project was finding the center line on the bottom of the pelican case due to its rounded corners. I used a tape measure and a square to find the center line, centered the stock luggage plate off of that line and used it as a template for marking the holes to drill. I highly recommend drilling pilot holes with a smaller drill bit so that you don’t end up marring the bottom if the drill bit were to jump around trying to get started. The drill bits went through the plastic like hot butter so be slow and deliberate when drilling.

 

20170421_192027.jpgAfter drilling, its a quick and easy mount onto the rear of the motorcycle. I still used the stock luggage plate underneath the pelican case to provide extra support and rigidity. If I were to get a larger luggage plate in the future, the holes in the case would still line up with the motorcycle. My thought is that I will probably end up getting a larger luggage plate sometime in the future as it would be handy to have easier points to hook straps to underneath the pelican case in order to secure luggage over the top and sides of the case.

With the case foam, I removed all of it for while I was working on getting the case mounted. After it was mounted, I put in the top and bottom pads and tore out the center foam so that I would just have the outer ring. I plan on having my electronics, breakables, and valuables in this case more often than not and don’t necessarily want them rattling freely around the case without some padding. Yes, I would have more storage space inside the case if I didn’t have any foam at all, but if I need more room then I can just pull out the foam again.

 

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with this project and how it looks on the bike. Its cheap in comparison to going out and buying a pre-made hard case, is rugged, and is lockable with a padlock style lock at either corner. So if any of you are thinking about doing the same, I hope this article helps.

 

Openness to Help

Asking for help is a hard thing to do. Accepting help can be even harder which is more often the case that prevents us from even asking for in the first place. In today’s society, there is the impetus that we must strive to be independent and self-sufficient all the time but that is not always the case.

It affects our sense of pride, having to receive help. It hurts us to ask because we are told from the beginning that we have to be able to function on our own and to be successful at it. Western society says so… While we should never be completely dependent on others we should still possess a level of self-awareness that we are not equipped to do anything and everything. We must be able to realize what situations we need help with whether it be something as simple as seeking out advice or an extra set of hands to alleviate some of the burden.

Asking for help should be taken as a sign of personal strength and character. None of us have lived long enough or broadly enough to have been able to experience everything. Being able to seek out those who have previously handled whatever troubles we are encountering and heeding their advice can lead to shorter periods of discomfort and unhappiness.

Its never a burden to anyone else to give help unless you begin to rely on them. Those that give help often need help too. There is a difference between being a burden to someone else and utilizing someone else’s knowledge and experience. We don’t know everything (as much as we would like to think that we do) and its time that we stop acting like we think we do.

Only when we are at our weakest moments are we open to the greatest change. Its when we seek out help that we receive these changes with an open heart and an open mind. Even though it may be hard to do so, we have to ask when we need it.

 

The Yin & Yang of Feelings

As a society, we prefer to focus on negative elements instead of the positive. This is especially true in the realm of personal feelings. We focus so much on negative feelings that we lose sight of how to learn and grow from them.

Each feeling has a positive and a negative aspect and usually results from an action either we or someone close to us made. How we perceive these feelings is entirely up to us, whether to focus on the positive or the negative. None of us want to waste time or energy on destructive feelings but instead use that energy to effortlessly change ourselves for the better. Rarely do we realize this, instead just passively “going with the flow.”

Realizing when negative feelings arise whenever something happens is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Usually when we are experiencing negative feelings, we are at our weakest. Negative feelings arise whenever we blame ourselves for the inherent effects from a choice that we made. None of us go out with the intent to hurt others, but life and people are complex things which no one is perfectly able to predict. We only wish to do right by ourselves but unfortunately our individual paths may contradict another’s. Instead of seeing a mistake for what it is, we focus that blame into a form of self-hate, further fueling the negative feelings.

Whenever a negative feeling arises, give it a name: “I feel guilty because I made someone else regret a decision that they made after offering my opinions on it.” By naming these feelings, we can associate the positive aspect to the same feeling in order for it to become constructive: “I must let people make their own decisions and only offer my opinions when asked. When I offer my opinions, I must caveat that I realize what would be best for me may not be the best for them. We are all different.”

Depending on the situation in which the negative feelings arise, this can either be a quick fix or a long-term dilemma that we have to resolve. For more difficult situations and the longer we spend on them, the more susceptible we are to revert back to negative feelings. Pause, take a step back, breathe… Nothing is ever so critical that it needs to be resolved right this moment. We are more than our emotions and if we take a short break from them we can refocus our efforts with a clearer mind.

There is always a positive aspect to the situations and feelings we encounter and lessons and growth to be had from them. For our feelings, we can choose how we let ourselves be affected by them. Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life…

Who Are You?

If I were to ask who are you, what would your response be? “I am an American” or “I am a manager” or “I am a Christian” etc… All these examples are only monikers of what you are, but never who you are. To identify by these simple labels excludes everything else, restricting further depth and meaning.

There are terms that we identify by more easily than others. Yes, these make for a succinct and quick identifier in order to convey and relate understanding to someone else but rarely are they ever completely accurate or entirely true. The problem that grows from this is that we eventually start identifying ourselves by these same terms, losing or never really discovering our own sense of self because of it.

We see everything in terms of what they are like instead of what they are. Today’s day and age appears obsessed with being able to relate to something else instead of simply being. We try to be Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, a manager, a worker, a leader, instead of just being ourselves. These terms and titles don’t identify us, but we try and let them to anyways. Never do we stop to figure out what makes us who we really are as we are a culmination of our experiences.

So let me ask again: Who are you?

The Snapshots We Take

Whenever we first meet someone, we take a mental snapshot. Their actions, mannerisms, personality, looks, hair, clothes… In our mind, carry this mental image of them and take it with us throughout the rest of our lives. This polaroid stored in our mind represents that person and what they mean to our lives.

As time passes, people change but rarely do we ever go back and change our perceptions of them. This picture does not represent them, no more than your baby pictures represent you. This even applies to different periods in our lives, how we were as a teenager, husband, wife, parent… Are you the same person as you were back in high school? I’m willing to bet not.

We continue to take snapshots as we go about our lives, however. What we don’t realize is that we take new snapshots of the same people, but only remember the first one we ever took. Are these people the same as from when you first met them? Who do you see them now as? Maybe its time to start using the more recent picture…

We are a culmination of our experiences and perceptions. Just because we may have been a different person back in high school or before we were married doesn’t mean that that’s not us, its just a different part. The people that surround us go through the same thing. So I ask you this: Who are you still trying to perceive as the same person from when you first met them? It could very well be yourself.

The American Lifestyle

Once upon a time, we believed in something that we called “The American Dream.” Over the years, coupled with the internet and mainstream society, we now have the American “Do-Whatever-You Want.” We are cultivating a sense of entitlement and selfish behavior that negatively impacts those around us.

Polarized Golden Gate.png

We see it all around us in our daily lives. More so now than what we did ten or fifteen years ago, thanks in part to the internet and social media. We are growing more interconnected as a society enabling and tolerating behavior that would have been frowned upon, tactfully corrected, or ostracized before now.

You see it whenever you are waiting at a stoplight and the car next to you is making your windows rattle because their bass is turned up as far as it can go.

It happens when someone almost runs into you in the store because their nose was buried in their phone.

You don’t notice it when you are rocketing around in your metal box on rubber wheels, too selfish to yield the right-of-way to the crosswalk pedestrian to get to your destination while never fully arriving.

We post all of our pictures and selfies to social media, but are too afraid to make eye contact with those around us, as if we have something to be embarrassed about.

For far too long each of us has been moving at a steady max speed through our lives, trying to get to where we want to be as if what we have here and now is just something to get through. “I have to make it to retirement,” or “I need to save up to buy a house,” or “I need to earn that college degree…” We dare to dream but we never dream to live.

We say that we are modern and progressing as a nation but as long as everyone remains trapped in this overrated, arrogant, fuck-you, egotistical lifestyle that owns nothing but is entitled to everything, we will stagnate and vegetate were we currently are.