On Quitting Facebook

The fact that I am writing this post, feels a little bit odd. The fact that we've come to a point that quitting a social media platform how carries a long drawn out decision process. And that we have to inform our friends and relatives of it, like it is some huge life choice. 

About a year and a half ago I used the Catholic Lenten season to quit Facebook for a period of 40 days. It was something I really wanted to try and I thought the added pressure of Lent would give me more motivation to stop using it. It was pretty hard. I actually had to put a website blocker on my home and work computers to stop me from actually logging in. It was as much of a habit as it was anything else. 

Over the past year or so I've begun trying to use certain features in Facebook to make it into the experience I want, without all the rest. I spent the time unfollowing every last friend I have, so that I didn't see any unwanted updates in my news feed. I went through and unfriended all the hundreds of people that I had one late night conversation with at a college party. Or the person that I met just once, but wanted to learn more about. I've only accepted friend requests from people that I actually can call friends. Ultimately, I could not silence my desire to remove the addiction from my life completly. 

Over the past several weeks I've been turning inward and doing a ton of self-discovery because of it. With all the self-love I've had brewing over the past weeks, I finally feel ready to say I don't need Facebook anymore. With the changes I've been trying to make in my life, I don't need the habit of checking it either. 

Now what does Facebook have to do with self-love, turning inward, and self-discovery? 

I feel like we are conditioned to get a lot of our self-worth from what other people think about us. Facebook can offer the perfect display of this. When we put a photo out there, we get many likes, and slowly we begin to feel better and better about ourselves due to the amount of likes and feedback we get. But what I am finding is that I no longer want to draw my self-worth from who likes or loves me or what people think about me. It's becoming so clear that if we base our happiness on external factors we will remain a victim. Instead I am working on attaining all my self-worth from inside of me. I want to love and accept myself so much, that all the love I get from others is just nothing but a huge bonus. 

My opinions about Facebook:
1. It's a wonderful tool for bringing people of the world together. For retaining friendships that might not be retained otherwise. For getting information out quickly. In some cases, it can even support revolutions. 
2. It has become a tool for cyber harassment. Now with social media, certain victims of bulling are not even safe from it at home. With Facebook and other social media platforms, people can harass others behind the safe wall of their computer. 
3. It can make us feel like crap about our own lives. With the exception of a pessimistic few, most of us only put our good life stories out there for people to see. Pictures of weekends away, amazing life events, glorious once-in-a-lifetime vacations. With social media, it's become easier than ever before to witness exactly what it is that other people have that you don't. For the easily envious among us, this doesn't do much to stop this when all that is shown is the beautiful side of everyone's lives. 
 4. It overly inflates our own egos. We want to put one of our best photos up as our profile picture, because we want people to see us exactly how we want to be portrayed. We take endless selfies with our chin in just the right position for maximum sexiness. We post all our own high points and look back over and over to see how many likes we get. 
5. I think Facebook can be good at drawing out the things that we are unhappy with in ourselves and the inadequacies that we feel within our own lives. 
6. For a tool that was designed to bring us closer together, I think it's taken us farther apart. Due to email, texting, and other social media platforms, some of us actually have difficult times having face-to-face relations with people. 

Whereas I feel I am not the most guilty among us to do some of the above mentioned things, I definitely feel that I'm not a stranger to them. I need this lifestyle change to keep me on the path of self-discovery that I'm so excitedly on. I need the ability to prove a couple things to myself. I will stay that today, I felt a great sense of calm in my decision and I wasn't even thinking twice, even with some opposing words from a friend. I felt an odd sense of freedom, like come chain would be releasing me. I think that says a lot about my feelings toward Facebook. I'm excited to see how I will feel in the coming weeks and months, and to see if I even will miss it. 

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How to Meditate-Sitting and Supplements

Firstly, get out of your head what you think meditation has to be. 

To me, meditation is the practice of mindfully going inside yourself to more gracefully deal with life's challenges. It does not have to be just sitting in silence, clearing your mind, and chanting ohm. It can be all those things, but it doesn't have to be. 

When I first started meditating I did it laying flat on the floor. I would use 10-15 minute guided meditations that I would find on YouTube. These guided meditations would lead me through a series of self-affirmations or help to put me in a calm state by guiding me through a meadow or forest. Doing this is a great way to start. 

I think some of us are scared of meditation because we ask ourselves what will I think about or how will I think of nothing. With a guided meditation we can just practice the art of being still with ourselves without being bogged down by what to do. 

Later I began challenging myself to just be completely alone with my thoughts. I moved from laying on the floor to a cross-legged position, supported by pillows. I quickly discovered that sitting cross legged was not comfortable for me and it would prevent me from being able to meditate for long enough. I tried sitting on my shins next, which I liked, but it quickly put my feet to sleep. I began researching meditation benches or meditation cushions. I thought the design for a simple meditation bench or kneeling bench would be easy enough to recreate, so I was able to make one with a friend with wood from a tree on his farm. 

You may also sit in a chair if that is most comfortable for you.

Moving forward I still enjoyed having music to have something continuous to focus on if my mind went astray. I pull music from YouTube videos. There are hundreds of meditation music tracks. Ones that are just tones to ones with nature sounds or classical music. Pick what makes you the most comfortable. 

Recently, I have tried to cut out music because it is one more logistical concern to worry about in the morning when I am getting read to sit. It's been working and it means that I really have nothing to fall back on. I need to stay present with my breathing and thoughts.  

You can see I've worked through a lot of transitions over the past eight months or so of meditating regularly. The KEY is to be most comfortable. If you are comfortable siting straight up and down in a chair, by all means do it. If you'd like to try purchasing a medication cushion to assist you in sitting cross-legged on the floor, that is fine too. Not having to worry about the comfort of your body during meditation, will let you get to the work that is really important. 

Lastly for the  question of how long. When I first began I was doing about 10 minutes per day. I like to do it first thing in the morning, when I first wake up and the light is still dim outside. It is usually when my mind is the most active, so that means it takes extra work to clear my mind or to focus on one particular contemplation. Since I do it in the morning before work I still only devote about 15-20 minutes to it. I make sure to get up early enough to have time for meditation, yoga, eating breakfast, and other morning routine things. Some people can do 30, 60, 90 minute meditations per day. Don't get bogged down by the amount of time.

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Tip Tuesday: Should I Meditate?


Wait. Don't stop reading. At least give me the chance to tell you why. Continued and emerging research shows that consistent medication practice has a positive effect on physical  and mental health. That it's not just something that monks and hippies do. That it's something that everyone should do and should be valued as any other step we take toward good health, like taking a multivitamin or brushing our teeth. 

What meditation does:
  • Can help you to be calm in stressful situations
  • Can help you work through an issue you are struggling with
  • Can bring you closer and closer to yourself and learn what you really want to be
  • Can help you understand your own feelings better
  • Can help give you more confidence
  •  Can help remind you of the value of caring for yourself
  • Can help you learn how to use breathing to relax
I didn't get all those bullet points from the Internet, I got them from my own experience. Those are some of the things meditation has done for me, so I know they can be done. 

Meditation is something that I had tried a few times on and off in my life. Specifically, just when I thought I needed it, I would do it once and move on. However, in late winter 2015 I decided to really give it a consistent try. I've been very happy with what it has brought to my life and can now say it's a habit. 

Over the next several weeks I want to break down my own experience for you, give you best practices, and guide you though trying meditation for yourself. I am going to try my best not to fall back on research or other recommendations I have found on the Internet. I want to trust my own experience and let that be enough to pass on to you. We all have all the answers within us, we just have to trust ourselves. I appreciate you reading. 


Ignorance is Darkness

You know when you wake up in the middle of the night and you see something in the distance. You're eyes fix on it but you're brain can't comprehend what it is. It looks like a ferocious beast, a monster, a blob curled up on your dresser. Eventually you turn on the light to find, that is is only a bunched up shirt. 

This is ignorance. When we can't see something, that is understand or comprehend what it is, we are ignorant to it. We are in the dark. When we can't understand it, our brain defaults to what it knows. It searches desperately for what that thing could be. In the dark, our brain usually goes to the worst.

But then when we shed light upon it, ignorance goes away, and it's not quite so scary anymore. 

Sometimes we are in the dark to other people, other beliefs, or other places that we don't know. They are that bunched up shirt on the dresser that seems to look incredibly scary in the dark. But the second we turn on the light, we can understand it. 

The light is knowledge, understanding, openness. 

Don't let the dark keep you ignorant.

Just turn on the light. 

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Wedding and Peace Corps Reunion

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to travel to Dallas, Texas to attend the wedding of one of my Peace Corps friends, Ryan. I was honored to be invited to his wedding to his fiance, Kelsey, and also excited to be visiting a new place. It also meant that I would get to do some travel and see some Peace Corps friends of mine, some I hadn't seen in nearly four years. 

Ryan, Kelsey, and their families put on an amazing party. The small ceremony took place under a beautiful tree and the reception was laid out among beautiful historic buildings in the Dallas Historical Village. The DJs dinner music was quickly proving that this man knew how to please a crowd, or at least me for that matter. By playing songs from 98 Degrees, Boys II Men, Seal, and more, I felt like I was at a concert playing all my favorite songs of my childhood and teen years. 

We picked up our dinner in one of the historic buildings and got served our drinks out of the saloon. Everyone at the wedding was incredibly welcoming and friendly to everyone else. I really enjoyed meeting and spending time with Ryan's family, they were a great bunch of people to spend a weekend with. 

When the floor formally opened for dancing, it did not clear for the next four hours. That is because the DJ kept playing song after song to keep people on their feet. Despite being sweaty and hot and sore feet, lots of us enjoyed every moment we had to dance. 

When I get to spend time with people that I served in Peace Corps with I feel like I get to relive a interesting time in my life. A time when I grew the most, saw the most, and went so far beyond myself. I enjoy being able to fall back on those people who understand exactly what I am saying and doing in regards to Morocco. 

I had a quick, but very long (up until 2 am three nights in a row) three days in Dallas. I was so pleased I was able to attend and to reconnect and connect for the first time with some amazing people. 

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