Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A new soundtrack to meditation

For stress relief I've started meditating again. I did it for about a year and a half years ago, and stopped. You can read about how I meditated here.

Perhaps I should not be multitasking while I meditate, but I am. There are a few stances/poses that I want to practice. First is the Tai Chi horse stance, which looks like the left image in this picture:

Elements of this stance include: 1) keeping your feet just a bit more than shoulder width apart, 2) pointing your feet straight forward, 3) bending your knees but not so far that they go past your toes, 4) keeping your hips thrust forward, tucking your bottom, 5) crunching your abdomen a bit, and 6) pushing your lower back out.

It's apparently good for your back to do this, and it certainly strengthens your legs.

The other position I want to practice is the Japanese way of sitting indoors, called "seiza."

I find it a comfortable way to sit on the floor, but if you don't practice it your legs fall asleep easily.

I also want to practice the "asian squat," pictured below.

I picked this up in China. It's convenient when you're outside or in a dirty place and don't have a chair. If you practice it, it's comfortable and relaxing. Some people can nap in this position. Again, it is difficult (or impossible) without practice.

Finally, on the advice of my physical therapist, I like to lie on a foam roller.

I can do all of these things while meditating. I like to do them in five minute chunks, but it's really bad to constantly check the clock when you're meditating. So I made an MP3 of birdsounds that lasts about 27 minutes. Every five minutes there is a chime sound, and at the end of 25 minutes there is a gong telling you that you are finished. So in five minute intervals I practice 1) the tai chi stance, 2) the asian squat, 3) seiza, 4) the tai chi stance again (my legs are pretty tired by the end of this), and finally 5) lying on the foam roller.

Some believe that birdsong makes you relaxed.
I don't know if this has been scientifically tested, though.

I used to do mantra meditation, but now I'm trying to think of nothing, focusing on the blackness I see when my eyes are closed.

You can download the track here:

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 Book Roundup

Here are the books I read in 2014.
I started getting into Audible audio books, and it has almost doubled the number of books I consume.

My complete list, kept since 1993, can be found here:

The Art of Character: Making Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV by David Corbett
Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation (The Great Courses) by Mark W. Muesse (Audible)
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom (Audible)
An interesting, frightening exploration of the possibility of evil AIs.
Consciousness and the Brain: Decyphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts by Stanislas Dehaene (audible)
Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch book 1) by Ann Leckie
Some good ideas, but not enough to support a book this long.
The Stench of Honalulu: A Tropical Adventure by Jack Handey (audible)
How To Listen to and Understand Great Music (3rd Edition) (The Great Courses) by Robert Greenberg (audible)
Star Wars: Scourge by Jeff Grubb
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception by Claudia Hammond
Reversion: The Inevitable Horror (The Portal Arcane Series - Book I) by J. Thorn
Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering (audible)
Bossypants by Tina Fey
What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses by Daniel Chamovitz
Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe by Jim Davies
Catcher's Keeper by JD Spero
Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller
Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene
Great Courses (Teaching Company) The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World by Robert Garland (Audible)
How to Be a Woman by Caitlan Moran
Icemark Chronicles: Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill(audible)
A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss (audible)

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