Putting Information into Practice. Information Wounds and Remedies.

For those of us who read many books and are curious about many things. There becomes a point at which there is so much information in our heads that we do not know where to start. Sometimes we lose sight of where to go, but we have so many ways to approach it! Whatever it is!

Obviously the first and most important trick here is to understand where you are trying to get to. If you do not have a vision of place, then you are purely wandering.
Once you understand this, you are faced with a multitude of options as to how to be getting there.

The first thing that I and many others have done, logically, is to read as much around the topic as possible. For it comes logically that the more one knows about the subject, the more one will know as to how to approach it; however this is rarely the case. For what happens is that now that you believe that you know so much about the subject, there are so many entry points and things to do (all of which could possibly go wrong) that you are now paralysed as to where to begin. You have shot yourself in the foot with information, and are now immobile.

The longer you leave this information wound, the longer it festers and becomes infected. As with any infection, the first thing to do is to wash it and attempt to disinfect it. The way of doing this in regards to information is to order it. Write down the key points and principles regarding what you have learned, and compare these principles to the goals that you are trying to achieve, the place that you are trying to get to. Now in awareness the incongruence between the two you have a path.
The next thing to do is to put one step in front of the other and move towards it. This is going to take the use of your full faculties, body included. One needs to understand which steps to take in which order, and then put one foot in front of the other. This is the way of moving towards a destination without getting your feet tangled or lost along the way. Write down a step-by-step, actionable list, and apply yourself to each of the steps with true focus and application.

If the information wound becomes truly and irreversibly effective, the fastest way of becoming mobile again, so that the infection does not spread into other areas of your life is to cut of the information for good. Once you have done this, you may start over, or you may decide to begin walking again, without a map, but yet with a sense of direction purpose under your belt. No worries your foot will grow back, this is merely a hypothetical blog post. Cutting off a part of that which you are attached to is sometimes the only way to free you up, in order that something new and fresh can fill the empty vacuum.

Tend to your information wounds, stay vigilant of infection, and most of all take action towards your destination. Nobody ever got to any place merely by thinking about it.  An awareness of balance is necessary in order to stay upright.

‘Information is not knowledge.’ -Albert Einstein


-Ben

If you liked this post then do check this out also. Bless.

Photography by eberhard grossteiger

Why YOU Should Meditate.

Walking down the road today from the train station to a cafe down the road. I counted about 40-50 thoughts roughly. That was a 10 minute journey.

The majority of people have the same problem. To focus on one thing is almost impossible, because their processing power is all over the place, they are trying to download 50 files at once on 4G.

In fact most people think even more than this! It’s a scientific fact that humans can only think consciously about one thing at a time. Try it: Think about an image of empire state building and the shape of England at the same time….

A quick google search shows that: “…When we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, this means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person.”

Well NO WONDER we can’t get anything done!

When’s the last time you just sat in silence for 10 minutes and watched your thoughts?

My Martial Arts teacher likened the flow of thoughts to a train station. The station is the mind, the train is the thought, and the little person standing on the platform is the awareness. Most people’s stations are flipping Waterloo at rush-hour.

Meditation is the practice of observing the trains come and go as they will, completely out of your control. They they come and go, come and go, come and go, until eventually the flow of trains begins to slow down. Instead of a constant flow of trains rushing by urgently, there seems to be silence in between the passings by, and there is simply emptiness until another slowly potters through. Able to fully feel the breeze on your face and the smell of fresh leaves on the wind, this train comes past, and you watch it… then it passes, and again all is quiet.

Most people know that meditation is good for them. However thoughts are terrified at the idea of not being in control. Thoughts will come and say “To sit in silence?! A waste of time! Stupid!” And so we are enslaved by our thoughts, the master becomes mastered by his tools.

The big barrier that stops people from actually practicing is the trust in the silence…

In order for more people to cultivate trust in the consistent practice meditation, it would be helpful to understand the place from which all of our thoughts come. Because you don’t chose your thoughts… your thought come to you. Where from?

The stillness. This stillness is a gift to you. From stillness one can see clearly, and from from emptiness one can discern.

Meditation is about cultivating your stillness. It is about nourishing your awareness through the practice of prolonged attention to your stillness. By cultivating your awareness in the stillness, you are more able to see clearly that which is not still, increasing your presence, and fundamentally increasing your sensitivity and thus your vitality.

When one meditates, it is not that nothing is going on, it is that SO much is going on, in the doing of nothing. Doing in no-doing, by no-doing; Doing the no-doing.

One must give the silence it’s due, listen to it’s voice, if one is to reap the gifts of discernment. To listen to both yin and yang, the whole world becomes larger.

Turn the blur into a piece of artwork, and see and touch every little piece of it as you runs your awareness over it.

Good place to start in regards to meditation:

  1. Sit quietly, ideally somewhere quite (it doesn’t matter, but does allow for further unguardedness) and where you will not be disturbed.

2. As you allow the breath to pass through you – no pulling in of air but simply allowing it to fill and empty itself through you – pay attention to your nose. Simply place your awareness on it and watch it.

3. Your attention will likely stray to thoughts, and that is fine, no matter, just again place your attention on your nose. That was a repetition.

4. Continue to bring your attention into focus from the straying into thoughts and distractions. When you feel proficient at focusing on your nose, now you may bring your awareness to rest on your entire face. Not trying to control anything, simply resting your awareness on it, relaxing, and allowing whatever comes to come and go. Watch thoughts and feelings as they come and go. If a particularly potent one comes along that feels urgent, simply take a mental note for later and continue the practice, watch it pass.

5. Again, when you feel proficient, bring your awareness to rest on a larger entity, your entire body. Again, noticing thoughts and feelings as they come and go, bringing your awareness back when it strays, being relaxed and impartial… simply watching.

Now those are the principles.

These principles can be applied as you will. You can do this while walking, or washing dishes, anything, just remember it is about relaxation, impartial watching, and cultivating awareness through guiding your focus back to stillness.

When you feel confident at meditating in this way, try bringing your awareness back into itself. Who is watching the thoughts and feelings? Watch the watcher. See what you find.

“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.” -Chuang Tzu


-Ben

If you liked this post, then here is another post that you might like.

Why you should READ.

I once read a statistic that said this: “If one were to read 1 book on their chosen subject for a month, in 3 years they would be in the top 5% most knowledgable in their field”

WHAT?! You’re telling me that all I have to do is read a book a month?

With a book one disappears  into a world of their creation, all the while learning and being taught anything that they could possibly want to know. The possibilities are literally limitless. Books are the door into your very own intricately detailed brain cinema… that can also teach you things!

So why do so few people actually do it?!

Most people will say “Yeah… I should read but I just don’t have time”

“Or yeah I should, and I do really like it, I don’t know, I just don’t really do it.”

Often when I hear this, the person I’m talking to sat on their phone, or we are down at the pub, or they are watching tv… often not even good tv.

There is a reason for this.

One reason is that there are so many alternatives to reading that are so much more sensorially stimulating. One can sit in front of a TV for hours and just be spoon fed entertainment without having to lift a greasy finger.

Another reason is consistency.

Reading is a participatory. One has to sit down and use their brain muscles. Reading is a practice. And a practice has to be practiced… Mind blown right?

Most people are out of this habit, and so when they do read, they find it difficult or a chore. Surely this should be unsurprising; any level of ability and fitness has to be built and maintained… but often it’s not. And often it’s a discouraging enough experience that people give up after a session. It’s like the new years gym rush in reading form.

Like any other muscle in the body, if you don’t use it then it simply shrinks. We’ve got to train our reading muscles! And it’s a speedy spring-back for sure.

My estimate based on my own experience of reading relapse is that it takes me one and a half weeks to two weeks of being in the habit of picking up a book and reading it daily for it to become simply effortless. To the point where it is as easy to read a book as watch a film except, like eating a salad instead of the chips, reading the book feels healthy and stimulating in regards to my growth, not my complacency.

The trick is to know WHY you are reading, and to be able to discern the feeling of growth from the feeling of deterioration…

So… Why are you reading? Do you want to be the best musician in your field? How many musicians do you recon pick up books in their free time to read about theory applications and jazz history…  Is it for leisure? Great! Just know that… And when you decide to begin reading because you want to learn how to be a great leader, or manage a workforce, or build a motorbike, keep your eyes on the reason and feel it coming closer into your sphere of reach.

Another factor to consider. Rising to the challenge. Do you have a HIGHER purpose in mind that you are working towards everyday?

When you have a higher purpose, reading, exercising, working, and doing anything in alignment with it that purpose comes effortlessly. When what you are doing is in alignment with your purpose, you are excited and fulfilled in dance and movement your own progression, and reading is a vehicle for that momentum. (If you’re having trouble finding your higher purpose, here is a resource for you that I wrote.)

Reading raises your consciousness up. It is part of the vital interplay between the inner and outer consciousness. Both the inner and outer game are on their own path towards growth, and in turn each feeds its counterpart.

If you are interested in growing in any capacity, reading is not only your friend, but your mentor and closest ally.

Books don’t don’t discriminate, they just give. Be a book.


My advice is to think of reading (like meditation) as a practice that is a guiding light: A grounding force: A sturdy hand pointing the way for intuition on your Hero’s Journey.

If you’re still not bought on the idea of reading, consider some of the greatest teachers and leaders ever to have lived: You can have lunch with Gandhi, and Tea with Malcom X, dinner with Steven Hawking, and drinks with Arnold Schwarzenegger… Lives and lives worth of tips, tricks, lessons, and mistakes, compiled into a book that can be held in the palm of your hand and enjoyed at your leisure.

If you are not sure where to start on your reading journey, here’s where I started, and it is a great place to start for anyone: ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’

This is about outer game. This is about becoming the most educated version of yourself in order that you can bring yourself and others up. To educate is to elevate. True education is self guided, and it’s there for the taking. Elevate yourself, and bring others with you. Share your gifts. Take your power.

Reading, unlike most modern media, is not just entertainment. Reading is a practice. It will reveal things to you about yourself, and take you to places on your own journey of personal development that you never thought possible.

Who knows… maybe one day you will end up writing your own book. May it be filled with tellings of wonder and success.

Take it from Abraham Lincoln:

“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”


-Ben

If you liked this post, then I’d recommend checking out this post also…

Also if you are still not bought on the idea of reading: here’s an interesting article that might aid your decision,

How to Revitalise your Practice.

How should one practice?

It has always seemed like a mystery to me how some people seem to pick up an instrument and intuitively know how to methodically practice and progress themselves through levels of skill.

Maybe it’s my lack of formal education, but for me I have always just intuitively picked up things and played. That is to say, I progress on an improvisatory and creative level, but in regards to technique and formal repertoire, I have always largely lacked.

Discipline largely has a lot to do with success in the endeavour of learning any skill (or discipline). This begins before the practice session even begins: when am I going to practice, How long for, and what am I practicing? You need your game plan set in stone before you. You don’t necessarily have to follow it to a tee, but you need it there if you are going to progress skilfully.

Practice adds up, it really does. At times when I have sat down in a disciplined way to learn a skill, I have ALWAYS learned what I have practiced fully and with integrity.

However this discipline often teeters out within a couple of weeks of hard grind. It teeters out because it becomes largely a chore. The fire that got me started gets kindled out and I am left with the empty shell of my previous commitment. Just going through the motions leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled.

Through some soul searching I thought I had found the key. It was that I was pushing too hard. So I did the intuitive thing and went in completely the other direction, becoming completely playful again. My lost love came flooding back. I began to ENJOY practicing again. Jesus had I missed THIS.

However… AGAIN there was a piece missing.

I was not making progress in the same way. My skills were becoming tighter within what I already knew, but I knew little. I was not GROWING and EXPANDING my boundaries. I felt like I was stuck in a rut, and I was. Stuck in a shell. A shell that needed to be broken out of in order to be born again.

SO.

I turned for help. I read and read and read and searched and asked. To no avail. People just intuitively knew, but nobody could explain where I was going wrong and HOW to rectify it.

UNTIL recently I came across a book that told me to follow my fire. To follow my fire was to aim for my deepest truth. I was set alight like a furnace. I had fire in my belly like never before, and I was ready to get out there and FIGHT for my convictions. Because I KNEW my deepest truth.

The reason that I was getting lost is that I had lost my VISION. My purpose, my reason for starting.

Suddenly, troubles with practice were a thing of the past. Tired grinds and constant pushing were mere memories, because now I had fire under my ass and it was alighting me to the moon.

It was clear that the problem was that I needed to direct this energy. Now I set a period of time every day to practice. I write a list using the method from THIS Youtube video.

And I get it done. In fact I estimate that I get around about 6-7x more done than I used to, and I’m barely having to push myself. I’m walking on air with the wind behind me.

Takeaway:

If you are having trouble practicing or finding motivation to do so:

FIND your fire. You cannot force it in any direction. You are either avoiding your inspiration or you are saying YES to it, in which case you know what to do. Any artist knows that you don’t chose what to be inspired about, inspiration choses YOU… you’ve just got to say yes to life. And to say yes to life is to say yes to fear and yes to the possibility of pain.

Let me leave you with this quote to ponder over, by the great man himself, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

‘Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.’

Step up. Feed your soul.

Yours,

Ben


If you liked this post then here’s another post that you might enjoy. 

Articulating the Self.

Articulation.

Most of us don’t articulate ourselves with ease. We all want to be listened to and heard. However most of us aren’t.

To articulate is to be focused, and to be distinct. Articulation is to bring the articles of your being into light.

 

 

The feeling that one gets when one watches and listens to those who stand for what they believe in – Those who speak from a place of truth, these poets, these icons -nThe goosebumps are stimulated, the eyes widened, the feeling of rising in your stomach.

Watch those who you love to watch talk. And watch those of whom you love the sound of their voices. They touch us. They move us.

How can we smile with our full beings from your heart to the tip of your head if we cannot articulate ourselves? We cannot, because we are full already with tension.

We hold our feelings back with the tensions in our chest, neck, and jaw. To articulate ourselves we must let our vibrations move, and in turn we shall move others.

The reason that we do not articulate our feelings is because we make ourselves smaller in order not to be seen. We fill ourselves up with stoppages; ‘I shouldn’t say that.’ or ‘Be quite, don’t speak.’ We block ourselves.

I challenge you to be seen – as I am challenging myself now. Give away the blocks that stop you from being heard, let them go.

Loosen your jaw, let it talk you.

‘A leader gives articulation to the imagination of the population.’ – Dr Jordan Peterson

 

-Ben

The Way to Learn Skills

Skills within Skills within Skills. They are progressive, they are meticulous. A conscientious individual will find themselves with more than they came for if one continuous to practice in this way.

My Sifu once told me: ‘When you practice one technique, you are practicing them all’.

This is true of any skill. When you are learning a skill correctly, developing yourself in this area of your life, it has a cascading ripple effect onto the other areas of your life.

The approach that I have taken recently has been one of the slow and diligent learning of each individual technique that is presented to me to learn. Take the time to get each one perfect.

For example, my foremost martial art is Practical Wing Chun Kung Fu. During training, the temptation is to try and learn the most fancy and complex move possible. First and foremost this is because it looks cool, and feels ninja’y. However, those in class who really flourish at the martial art are those who take the time to practice the basics as if they were the end goal. They practice them as if they were hallowed, perfecting each tiny adjustment in order to have great structure and great power generation. They always are in the perfect shape and the advantageous position.

This approach to learning yields results. I would invite you to give it a try… To learn your piano scales as if they were the handling of a baby. As if each note required precision and great care; perfectly placed

This may take a week of practicing for 1-2 hours a day, but you continue in your daily practice once or twice a day when you have the chance, and you will get to a point of proficiency and ease. The scales will be in your hands. Now it is time for you to practice faster. When you get a note wrong, then you slow down a bit and work with mindfulness of this structural weakness in your skill… When you get it flowing with ease, you may speed it up more.

Then you move on to the next progression from the scale and apply the former into your music… Musical progressions.

‘Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice perfect.’ – Vince Lombardi

-Ben