Deep Breaths

via Daily Prompt: Focused

So Habit #2 in Ferguson Ross’ Manifesto is Meditation. Or the practice of sitting still for a couple of minutes, thinking about absolutely nothing. So I usually just sat down with my back straight, closed my eyes and breathed… Just breathed, trying to focus on nothing but my own breath and noticing how the air entered and left my nose. And then the thoughts come creeping in. Here’s an example of the thoughts I was having, while meditating:

One *In-breath*, Two *out-breath*, one, two. Oh I just remembered, this bill came in today, I should pay that right away. Damn. One, two. Will I have enough time to do my laundry later? I could just do it tomorrow… One, two. Am I any good at this? I’ve been distracted three times now, that doesn’t seem right. One, two. One, two. How long have I been sitting here, anyway? Has it been a minute? Or ten seconds?…

This would go on for a few minutes until my timer went off and I turned my attention back to the real world.

While there is a lot of scientific evidence on the benefits of meditation, these are in reality intangible until you reach a really high level. I’ve been meditating more or less regularly for the better part of three years now. So far, the only real benefit I’ve noticed is that I can stay calmer in stressful situations. Right after my meditation sessions, I feel relaxed and awakened. It does help to ‘clear your head’, which in our modern world has become a bit of a necessity. That doesn’t always last long, however. Especially in the beginning, there is basically no benefit at all and that can make you wonder, whether it’s worth your time. I am still undecided on this: currently I don’t prioritize meditation. I do it multiple times a week, mostly for the short term effects I just described. But the long term effects for me are too marginal to fully commit to meditating on a daily basis.


Excellence is a Habit, Part One

We’re always trying to be the best version of ourselves, and I’m no exception. There was a time where I was actively seeking advice on what I could do better. And in 2013, I came across an E-Book called “16 Habits You Should Do Every Day” by Ferguson Ross. Describing what he did over a 700-day period, Ross explains, what you as a reader should be doing on a daily basis in order to improve your life in basically every area. I started testing these habits, adding one after the other and I want to share my experiences with you in the coming days.

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Should I…?

As I type this it is 11:29 pm in my timezone. It’s still 21° C out there (or ~70° F) and fairly humid. And here I am, wondering whether or not I should go for a late night run.

The reason I’m pondering that question at all is that these conditions are still not ideal for exercise. But at least they’re better than during the day with temperatures easily exceeding 85° F. During the day I managed to keep myself hydrated and I maintained a regular exercise regimen for the past weeks anyway, so I should be fine. But somehow I need some more incentive.

Now this is where it gets interesting. As I mentioned, I stuck to my exercise schedule for the past weeks and I would hate to kill my streak. I’ve already noticed that it helps me be more disciplined in other areas as well, which had some nice side effects. I can’t waste that just because I wasn’t in a running mood, can I? Certainly not when the other “athletes” in my circle keep their cycling and running miles coming in and I get notified on Strava right away.

So I find myself in a position where objectively the course of action is pretty clear and I just need to push myself to actually doing that. As far as exercise is concerned I’ve always found this video very helpful. So if you yourself are in doubt if you should run: You should and here’s why:

“Rise and shine.
6am and your hand can’t make it to the alarm clock before the voices in your head start telling you that it’s too early, too dark, and too cold to get out of a bed.
Aching muscles lie still in rebellion, pretending not to hear your brain commanding them to move
A legion of voices are shouting their unanimous permission for you to hit the snooze button and go back to dreamland, but you didn’t ask their opinion.
The voice you’ve chosen to listen to is one of defiance.
A voice that’s says there was a reason you set that alarm in the first place. So sit up, put your feet on the floor, and don’t look back because we’ve got work to do.
Welcome to The Grind!
For what is each day but a series of conflicts between the right way and the easy way,
10,000 streams fan out like a river delta before you, Each one promising the path of least resistance.
Thing is, you’re headed upstream
And when you make that choice, when you decide to turn your back on what’s comfortable and what’s safe and what some would call “common sense”, well that’s day 1.
From there it only gets tougher.
So just make sure this is something you want.
Because the easy way out will always be there, ready to wash you away, all you have to do is pick up your feet.
But you aren’t going to are you?
With each step comes the decision to take another
You’re on your way now
But this is no time to dwell on how far you’ve come.
You’re in a fight against an opponent you can’t see
Oh but you can feel him on your heels can’t you?
Feel him breathing down your neck
You know what that is?
That’s you…
Your fears, your doubts and insecurities all lined up like a firing squad ready to shoot you out of the sky
But don’t lose heart
While they aren’t easily defeated, they are far from invincible
Remember this is The Grind
The Battle Royale between you and your mind, your body and the devil on your shoulder who’s telling you that this is just a game, this is just a waste of time, your opponents are stronger than you.
Drown out the voice of uncertainty with the sound of your own heartbeat
Burn away your self doubt with the fire that’s beneath you
Remember what you’re fighting for
And never forget that momentum is a cruel mistress
She can turn on a dime with the smallest mistake.
She is ever searching for that weak place in your armor
That one tiny thing you forgot to prepare for
So as long as the devil is hiding the details, the question remains,”is that all you got?”, “are you sure?”
And when the answer is “yes”. That you’ve done all you can to prepare yourself for battle THEN it’s time to go forth and boldly face your enemy, the enemy within
Only now you must take that fight into the open, into hostile territory
You’re a lion in a field of lions
All hunting the same elusive prey with a desperate starvation that says VICTORY is the only thing that can keep you alive
So believe that voice that says “you CAN run a little faster” and that “you CAN throw a little harder” and that “you CAN dive a little deeper” and that, for you, the laws of physics are merely a suggestion.
Luck is the last dying wish of those who want to believe that winning can happen by accident.
Sweat on the other hand is for those who know it’s a choice.
So decide now because destiny waits for no man.
And when your time comes and a thousand different voices are trying to tell you
that you’re not ready for it,
listen instead to that lone voice of descent,
that one voice that says:
“you are ready”
“you are prepared”.
It’s all up to you now!”

So rise and shine.

It will pay off…

via Daily Prompt: Triumph

Whenever you start working for something, you might not start seeing the results straight away. But you’re putting in the effort and that’s what counts.

The interesting thing about learning curves, I found, is that they are far from linear. You’ll go through a rather long period of failure and/or disappointment, where there is hardly any progress at all. But that period is crucial to your progress, as it gives you not only opportunities to learn but also experience in what not to do, or rather what to do better. Given time, you will end up doing much better than you ever thought possible. You will achieve a breakthrough and this triumphant sense of achievement is a more than suitable reward for all the hard work you put in before.

More importantly, however, it is the perfect incentive to keep going. You’ll think to yourself: “If I made it this far, how far can I go?” You yourself are the only one who can answer that question…

A Heartless Winter

Author’s note: And here it is, the first part of my creative writing experiment. With temperatures as high as they are, this was really difficult to write. But this might help you to feel cooler, if nothing else. Midsummer was a couple of days ago, so ‘Winter is coming’, after all. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, I’d really appreciate your feedback in the comments. But please be honest and/or offer constructive advice as to what I can improve on. Best wishes, SigmaTheta

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Creative Spark Update

I’m rather excited to announce that I’ve finally started writing the creative writing story I promised. While I still struggled to pin down a specific idea, I eventually decided to just have it randomised, at which point I found this great site called “Short Story Ideas“.

I let this site give me an Opening Line, two very brief character descriptions, three random words I had to incorporate into my writing and last but not least the title of the first chapter. It was surprising how easily I came up with a scenario that would tie all of those together, but putting this onto paper (or rather a file) will take me some time.

For now, I can only leave you with the Opening Line:

“She stared into the Darkness.”

Feel free to write in the comments what you would expect from this line.

So long, Sigma Theta

“Die Heide brennt” – SC Paderborn optimistic to stay in the Bundesliga

Today’s 31st Bundesliga Matchday was full of suspense, especially in the race against relegation.

The big winner today was SC Paderborn, who won 2:1 at Freiburg to climb to 14th place, now one point ahead of the first relegation place (16th place). Meanwhile, VfB Stuttgart lost 2:3 at Schalke and Hannover played 2:2 in Wolfsburg. Hamburg could take that 14th place if they win at Mainz tomorrow.

Paderborn are still to play against Wolfsburg (H), Schalke (A) and finally against Stuttgart on home ground. A prediction as to which teams are relegated depends heavily on speculation, of course, but presumably, a home win against Stuttgart would be enough for Paderborn to stay in the league. And given Stuttgart’s performance at Schalke today, a draw against Schalke is not out of reach for Paderborn either.

The phrase “Die Heide brennt” is a quote from Paderborns goal tune and literally means “The heath is on fire”.