Ocean brain waves

Go for a swim in the ocean and take a hike along a coastal trail like Lands End in San Francisco or somewhere in the Marin Headlands.

Staring at the sea, alters your brain waves and transforms you into a mediative state and boosts inspiration and creativity.

Along with exercise, it’s the best medicine out there.

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Starry starry night

When you look up at night sky with your naked eyes, you can see the Moon, several planets, and many stars.

If you are in a dark location away from city light pollution and it the moonlight is not too bright, you may also see the Milky Way which is a large barred spiral galaxy

In pristine conditions, you can see about ten thousand stars, nine galaxies, and thirteen nebulae.

It’s humbling to think that over the centuries, people like you and me have looked up at the night sky and seen the same constellations and galaxies.


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The inevitability of the death

A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Soon afterwards, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace, he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, who made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant’s horse, he flees at great speed to Samarra, where he believes Death will not find him.

The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture to his servant. She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

W. Somerset Maugham‘s retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian tale, which appears as an epigraph for the novel

There’s nowhere to hide from our own mortality, even though we try to avoid it. It’s scary to imagine dying, so we joke about it or ignore it.

The sooner we face up to the inevitability of the death the sooner we start to appreciate waking up every day and starting fresh.

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Time to pay it forward

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,”

John F. Kennedy

Don’t ask why no one is helping you, or not taking a chance on you or not believing in you.

Instead, ask why you aren’t helping someone, or giving someone a leg up, or taking a bet on someone even when they still have a lot to prove.

Think back on your own career. Can you name somebody who took a chance on you? Hired you, introduced you, invested time in you, taught you, believed in you?

Pay it forward.

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Choppy shallows

I never swim late in the day because the water is darker and fewer people are out. But today, the later afternoon was the only time I had.

The wind had picked up, and the beach was empty. I was tempted to turnaround and leave. I finally saw someone else in the water, and I decided to head in.

I was still nervous and hugged the shoreline. It’s comforting when I can see the bottom, and I have an exit strategy even if it means clambering over the rocks. I was getting pushed around by waves in the shallows, and the visibility sucked. It was exhausting. I realized I was paying for my anxiety.

When I turned for home, I decided to go deep and swim out into the deeper water channel. Everything inside of my head and around me calmed immediately down. The swells were more spaced out, and the visibility was spectacular. I got out of my head and focused on one stroke at a time.

There’s a tax to mitigating risk. My mitigation was swimming close to the shoreline, and the charge was a bumpy, murky ride. No fun. Once I was more comfortable, I didn’t have to pay that tax anymore, and I went deep. It paid off that afternoon.

If you de-risk your life, be prepared to pay the tax.

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For whom the dove coos

A Mourning Dove cooing is an auspicious sound to me.

The bird and its call make an appearance during significant moments in my life.

On the day of my wedding, I was in the Presidio in San Francisco with my eldest brother. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat and take a walk on Crissy Field while everyone was getting ready. As we were walking through the Eucalyptus trees on the way to Crissy, I heard a dove cooing high up in the gum trees. The sounds calmed my nerves and reminded me of my family who weren’t with me that day.

The other time, I was with my other brother in Lafayette Park in San Francisco. We were waiting for some life-changing news and decided to take a walk to do something while we waited on the results. We were standing at the top of the park and looking down towards Sacramento Street when I heard a dove cooing. A couple of minutes later, I received a good news text from my wife that changed my life forever.

The other day I was dropping my youngest son off at school. We’d been away for a while, so it was his first day back, and the drop off went badly. He was crying his lungs out as I walked away from him and left him in the capable hands of the teachers. I felt awful. As I walked home, I heard a dove cooing on the quiet street. I took a deep breath and calmed down. Whenever I’m at my son’s school now, I listen for the dove watching over the school. 

If you listen carefully, you can hear mother nature whispering to you. Next time listen, look, and be still. 

“Out beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrongdoing, there is a field I will meet you there. It’s the world full of things to talk about.”

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Keep calm and enter the Void

If you saw the Netflix show Stranger Things, then you’ll get my next analogy about the Void. The Void appears as a vast infinite expanse of black nothing abyss. It is entirely empty and black, except for the character Eleven herself and whatever or whoever she is trying to locate. Next time you meditate, close your eyes and imagine entering the Void within your mind. It’s entirely still and dark. Thoughts will appear in the distance. Observe then and then keep moving. If you get a freaked out, then open your eyes and start again.

This is a refuge inside of your mind, just for you. Your thoughts will still appear, but this isn’t their home, so let go as smoothly as they arrived.

Remember to breathe.

Compounded benefits

Nine women can’t make a baby in one month. It’s an overused phrase in business, but it’s still a goodie. The sentence is typically a response when someone on the project team asks if more people will accelerate the timing of the project. More doesn’t always equal faster.

Got a beach holiday planned this summer? Doing 200 sit-ups the day before you hit the beach isn’t going to get you that flat tummy. You’ll probably strain a back muscle in the process though.

Want to get a clean bill of health during your annual physical? Staying off sugar, not drinking booze and cutting back on red meat for one week before the blood test isn’t going to help your cholesterol levels.

Are you saving for retirement? Living large and waiting for a liquidity pop or a lottery ticket to play catch up when you are older is a risky move.

Some things you have to do every day. Slow and steady. Be patient and find joy in the day to day rituals. Most things in life compound over time. Start with a little bit every day, and it’ll grow over time.

Blue fire belly breathing

Here’s a breathing tip

Sit in lotus pose or if it’s more comfortable then kneel on the floor. Relax your body from head to toe, and slowly start belly breathing. Inhale and exhale through your nose.

Imagine a small fire at the base of your belly. Every inhale of fresh oxygen fuels the flames. The exhale relaxes your tummy and lets the light expand. Inhaled fuel the fire and exhales loosen up the body. Grow the fire by inhaling until changes from yellow to orange to blue. The flame is so big now that it needs more space. Your exhales are turn blue as the heat escapes your body and fight more space around you. Keep feeding the fires and feeling you tummy becomes warmer and looser. Wind it down slowly with slower, and longer inhale. Expel the blue flame with your last exhalation. Sit and feel the warm afterglow permeate through your body.