Tag Archives: 30 minutes

Mad Lab Samurai: Get in To Your Creation Station

Get into your mad lab creation space at least once a day.  It could be a work space or a rambling walk.

Get into your mad lab creation space at least once a day. It could be a work space or a rambling walk.

If you do anything for yourself give your self one hour a day of “mad lab” time.   Mad lab time is a time that you give yourself to create, tinker, putter without thinking of results, profits, “followers”, et cetera.  This time can be structured yet loose at the same time.    You can try to write for fifteen minutes, study a foreign language for twenty, brainstorm for five, whatever but it’s all done in the spirit of play.   (In fact, a tight time schedule can be good.)


  • it creates an after-burn that can infuse your other activities throughout the day
  • it allows you to discover yourself and reinvent yourself at the same time
  • when you get to play the universe is happy
  • you start to get into the habit of creating


  • set a time and place where you can create.  It could be a separate office or a quiet room in your house before everyone wakes up.  Don’t get hung up on the perfect spot.  (BTW…The Little Book of Talent says that a lot of talent hotbeds practice and create in rather spartan or grungy spaces.)
  • Have your “tools” easily accessible.  A blank pad of paper, your laptop, your guitar and your tuner.   Leave the “windows” to the necessary sites open.  After a while you will build the physical habit of getting out your tools, which is more than half the step of creating
  • you don’t have to broadcast what you are doing to everyone . . . this is your time to cook stuff up.   Don’t let the haters and doubters in by revealing too much.  (Check out this short article from AJATT “Whose Team Are You On”)
  • Play with time.   Part of having limited time is that you actually get to turn that into a game.  I’ve got fifteen minutes to write.  Let’s make something happen.    This is one of the non-language learning benefits I got from doing Silverspoon, a Japanese immersion service.
  • Repeat.  You will have good days.  You will have so-so days.   But the so-so days send a little life-line, a breath that can feed the “good” days.

    Your mad lab can be work time that feeds play or play time that feeds work. No adults except in the company of a child!

    Your mad lab can be work time that feeds play or play time that feeds work. No adults except in the company of a child!

This isn’t just coming from me.  Steve Chandler explains you should “give yourself one hour every day.”  Julia Cameron, author of the The Artists Way, writes of the vitality that comes from writing morning pages every morning.  Yukio Furichi also writes about the power of the morning in his book 「1日30分」を続けなさい!人生勝利の勉強法55 (30 Minutes Every Day:   55 Study Methods to Win in Life).  For me, it seems really important to do the heavy lifting/creating early in the day because it gets the juices going and starts the day with a “win.”

There is a Sufi saying that “You have three hours to live.  Two of them are gone.”  Get into your mad labs and create.




Power Your Morning! Samurai Disappearing Acts

Greet the morning with what you want to make happen–in your mind or your “practice.” Thirty minutes a day for your life. Photo source: unprofound.com.

Hello, I am back!   I have been in the all-consuming depths of teaching and all the work and preparation that this entails.   Additionally, I am in the final months of my Silverspoon Japanese immersion experience.   Every morning, I wake up and get suggested “sprints” for Japanese immersion.    Silverspoon usually includes scheduled “chillax” periods where I can do other non-Japanese related stuff while having Japanese in the background. It is usually in these 5-10 minute breaks that I play around with the blog and write.   Lately, by the time it is time to have a “chillax” period, it is time for me to leave and go to work.

Lately the Silverspoon mornings are “packed.”  Yesterday, I flipped through a Japanese book, did sentence and kanji flashcard repetitions, and made new flashcards from “Scuzzy” sentence packs that I chose fun sentences from.   After a little more flashcard reps,  shuffled through Japanese websites using Khatzumoto’s url shuffler.  Fun stuff, but the time ran out and I had to leave the Writers Room and head to work.  (There’s not a lot of time for writing these days, but in 74 days I will have my own schedule “back.”  Right now I am creating a rich Japanese environment of websites, flashcards, and just plain old fun immersion experiences that will be there for me for a lifetime.)

My copy of Furuichi Yukio’s book on how to incorporate mornings into your life. For coolness factor he adds an English subtitle: “The early bird catches the fortune.”

This all reminds me of a Japanese podcast that asks listeners to “Power Your Morning.”  I used to go my favorite coffee shop that opens up at 7 a.m. and then get to the Writer’s Room and only have 15 or 20 minutes to write, study, and do “me.”  Now I am making my coffee in the Writer’s Room and getting an extra half hour every day to write, study Japanese, and play it forward.

It was a shock at first but I am enjoying the benefits of the morning and I think you can, too:

  • You start the day with a “win” towards your “goal.”  If you can do it in the morning, it might slip into the rest of the day.  If you are too “busy” then you will get your win in for the day.
  • The morning can be the most free from outside distractions.
  • There is an after-burn.   The idea you are trying to work on in the morning might kick around for the rest of the day.
  • Your mind and body might get used to showing up on a daily basis and help you produce more constantly.  Creating, learning become a habit.
  • When you “disappear” in the morning before most people are awake you don’t have to explain or justify yourself.   You just go into your mad scientist lab and create your own Frankenself.

I wasn’t into the book a month ago, but I might give it a whirl again. I left the $2.00 Book off sticker. You don’t have to bust the bank to have a Samurai Mind.

This morning I am shaking it up.  Silverspoon is saying I should be watching anime all day.  I am watching “My Little Monster” but only for five minute stretches, while working in writing and a little exercise (also in five minute) stretches and then I have to go to work.   I am designing the precious time that I have in the morning.

Design your morning.  Power your morning.  As Bob Marley says, “Wake up and live!”



Little Moves, Great Power: Lessons from the Cowardly Samurai

If I were to really be a samurai, I would probably be a samurai during the Tokugawa era, when the country was pretty much unified and most samurai were bureaucrats sitting around in the entertainment district trying to write haiku or decide which spot would be best for lunch.   Everything I learned about the fighting arts I learned from two weeks of Aikido. (and when I got tricked into learning to fight by a slow moving Chinese guy–see below)   I left my gi at the dojo almost 18 years ago.  If you see it,  it’s mine.

This is the only evidence of my martial arts “prowess.” I stopped going to the Tai Chi studio over five years ago, however I still do a set of exercises called Nei Kung. I also dispense advice based on my superficial knowledge of these arts. 🙂

I may not have a fighting license, but I do have a poetic license which allows me to dispense Aikido life lessons.  If you’d like to skip my stories and metaphors here is the “Little Moves, Great Power” cheat sheet:

  • “stretching” is activity
  • you have to learn how to fall
  • a little each day is better than nothing
  • slow helps you go fast
  • one small mastered move can transform the potential of your power
  • you don’t always have to fight head-on– roll with the force of the obstacles
  • stay grounded but loose

“Stretching” is activity/learning

When I started Aikido, I thought it was pretty funny that we started the class with little hand stretches.  One of them involved putting the thumb of one hand on the back of the palm and torking the wrist a little bit.   Then I saw one of the master teachers use that very hand stretch to flip a dude on to his back.   Don’t underestimate the power of whatever stretch activity is part of what you are trying to expand in your life.   Guitar scales and warm ups have the power to transform your playing.  Brainstorming and free-writing could change the way you write.  Shadowing, babbling, and playing around can put the sizzle in learning a foreign language.


You have to learn how to fall

In addition to those puny little hand stretches, the Aikido folks also practice how to fall.  They practice rolling into the falls to avoid injury and also as a defensive/offensive strategy.  What a perfect metaphor for learning.   When it “doesn’t work out” how are you going to fall?  Ready to spring up again and try a different approach or are you going to leave your uniform at the dojo and never return again? (Like a certain person I know?)

A little each day is powerful

Many years later I stumbled across a Tai Chi center near my old neighborhood in Hell’s Kitchen.  Hey, this is Tai Chi, I thought, it’s gotta be easy.  C.K. Chu, the sifu, would come around and teach me a new move each day I came and I kept adding to the form.  Uhm, ouch.

I stumbled on to the Tai Chi Chuan Center in the late 90’s. A wonderful, quiet place in the heart of Times Square, with dedicated but not pushy teachers and students. Photo from http://www.ckchutaichi.com/chu.shtml.

Slow helps you go fast

Eventually I learned that if you sped up the Tai Chi form it is actually a fighting art.  I thought Tai Chi was something I could do while my crystals were getting patchoulied.  But then one day sifu showed us how those curvy little moves are actually powerful thrusts and parries.   Big surprise.  Going slow can be challenging and helpful in many fields.  In guitar, using a metronome and practicing difficult moves at a very slow tempo and then graduating to a faster tempo can build accuracy and fluency.

Khatzumoto at AJATT is quick to mention the power of small but also mentions that you shouldn’t wait for magic bullets and magic methods.  He suggests in “Three Minutes Of . . .” that you work small and:

  • Don’t hold your breath until you figure out some mythical, I dunno, “Aryuvedic”, “correct” way of breathing
  • Don’t stop drinking water until you analyze every brand that exists
  • Don’t get it right. Get it started. Don’t get it good. Get it going. Don’t get it finished. Touch it. Don’t do it. Do three minutes of it.

Don’t wait for your mojo to get to the dojo.

You don’t always have to fight head-on–roll with the force of obstacles

Part of Aikido and Tai Chi/Push hands is learning how to roll with the force of your opponent and use it as part of your defense.  The force of your opponent’s punch with the rightly guided defense move can be used against your opponent.  (At least that’s what they told me 🙂 )   It makes me think that as far as learning tools you need to find ways to roll with the resistances to learning and use them.  Are you too busy reading trashy Hollywood celebrity news to learn French?  Find French celebrity news websites and look at all the trashy pictures.  Two birds. No stone. No killing.

Tai Chi works on more levels than I can write or even know about. It is supposed to activate “chi” and help your health. However, I was surprised by how most of the moves were powerful fighting moves. Key to all of this is staying grounded and fluid at the same time. Image from CK Chu Tai Chi.

Stay grounded but loose

The other day I was talking to a fellow dad at the playground.  He used to be a boxer and he still trains.  We were relaxing and talking while our little ones were playing in the sandbox and he made a point and brushed me on the shoulder.  He nearly knocked me off my feet.   The great ones in any field are grounded in their field but loose.  They “fly like a butterfly but sting like a bee.”  Whatever you are learning, analyze and master the basics but stay loose, stay grounded, find the different angles, and enjoy!

Happy Feelings Bring Happy Learnings

Yes, I guess my mind is turning into a Japanese t-shirt.  That’s a good thing  While I’m at it, here is a whole string of truisms coming at ya:

  • Do what you love and love what you do.
  • Love what you learn and learn what you love.
  • Bored or frustrated with what you are learning?  Here are two options:  change what you are learning or change your mind.
  • Fun doesn’t mean easy.

The other day I was doing my Chinese exercises by the beach and was graced by both the sight Mount Fuji and a fleeting glimpse of a rainbow.  I caught it all on my iPhone.  In between Nei Kung sets, I did little flashcard reviews using my Midori app.   In these brief little sprints, I stop when a word repeats or when I get bored.  (AJATT and other immersion experts recommend studying sentences rather than single words but I enjoying having little bursts of vocabulary exercise.)


Sometimes the clouds just lift and you can see Mt. Fuji

As I went through the cards, I noticed that I was really  remembering the cards I had some fond, personal connection to rather than the cards I just collected by more formal ‘studying.’   I remembered that どじょう was loach fish (wth?) because it was a word I had collected while my daughter was singing karaoke with my father-in-law.   I could picture the cartoon face. Last night I looked up ひやひや (chilly or fearful) and can remember that it was a word a Japanese ping pong player used to describe her team’s close game.

Love what you learn and learn what you love.

It’s a non-vicious cycle.   Turn to the things that you want to learn and master (guitar, economics, starting your own business, the interwebs) and it makes it easier to learn.   Turn to the things that you love, and it will help you learn (and do) more.   My Japanese ‘studies’ improved when I decided to use it to read self-help books, my guilty pleasure.

Change what you are learning or change your mind.

Change it up.   AJATT has a hilarious post called,  ‘That Righteous Feeling, Or: If You’re Not Feeling Naughty, You’re Doing It Wrong.’  Khatzumoto basically argues that if you are reading a book in your target language out of duty or obligation instead of fun, you are actually hurting your learning efficiency.   I think this is true even if you aren’t learning a language.

I think it’s also possible to change your mind about what you are learning and ask what’s the fun in this?  Sometimes I get a lot more out of just reading the table of contents of a Japanese book rather than boring myself by struggling through every page and killing my desire to read.  Everything is fair in love, reading, and learning.

Fun doesn’t mean easy.

Kenichiro Mogi, author of several books on the the brain ( 脳)  loves  to talk about the dopamine effect.  He explains that overcoming mental hurdles and challenges releases endorphins and dopamine that create feelings of happiness.  It’s why some people love video games, mountain climbing and even algebra.

A  lot of people idolize Jimi Hendrix as a rock god.  (Yes, I am not worthy.)  But what a lot of people don’t acknowledge is all the hours of work that he put in to play the guitar so well.  He walked around his apartment with his guitar strapped on.  And he didn’t forget the fun.  Hard work + love + fun= dope (dopamine)

Learn what you love and love what you learn.  Become the Jimi Hendrix of your life.  Climb the mountain!  Catch the rainbow!
Online Guitar Lessons

I ‘caught’ the rainbow!


The Importance of Browsing: Samurai Browser

Now that I am in Japan for the summer, I find myself browsing a lot.   In the mornings, I go to write at a manga cafe where I can have some semi-privacy.   When I goof off, I browse through the free movies available through their Cinema Channel.

Fuzzy screenshot of manga kissa cinema channel.

Sometimes I even get up and look through real comic books and magazines.   I also go to the Numazu library to write and think.   To take a break, I will just walk around and browse.  I can read the section titles more easily now but sometimes I just wander down the aisle pull out a book and see what I find.

Sometimes, I find myself getting annoyed.   I feel like I am wasting time just looking through books.  I should just be doing something productive!!  But lately I have had a change of heart about browsing.  I think browsing does a few key things:

  • Browsing allows you to stumble upon new ideas.  (Hey someone should come up with an internet program where you stumbleupon new websites!) 🙂
  • Browsing helps you point you back to yourself.   As you relaxedly allow yourself to pick up and put down books that bore you or interest you, you are getting information about what is important to you.  Relax and listen to what you discover about yourself as you browse.
  • Browsing is a form of review.   As you look at information and making decisions on whether to pursue it, many learning actions are happening.  You are tossing aside knowledge you have already learned, you are putting  ‘bookmarks’ on information you want later, etc.
  • Browsing is a great way to support libraries and bookstores.  (A bookstore is a physical place where you can buy physical books.  Yes, they still exist.  :))

Of course, don’t make browsing a chore.   If it’s not fun it is not browsing.  In this day and age anything that sounds like loafing seems like a waste.   But the earth needs you to be you.   Samurai browsing is samurai becoming.  Trip the library fantastic!

One Minute, One Action, Every Morning Change Your Life: Samurai Book Thruview

Nonsense leads to making sense. Let me know if you can identify this temple statute.

Summer is finally here and I am following the read ’em or leave ’em strategy for finishing books.  If I am no longer interested in a book (especially those in Japanese), I am leaving them in the dust even if I paid bookoo dollars for them.   I am inspired by AJATT’s column on “Reading and Respectability”:

If you have to limit your reading to what is considered respectable, you might as well physically remove your brain and personally hand it to whoever’s making those respectability rules1. Because that’s kind of what you’re doing already. And while you’re at it, have the Rulemaker come over to your house and pick out your clothes and thoughts, too.

Read Japanese. Read whatever the heck you want. The dumber the better. The brainier the better. The normaler the better. The only limits on reading should be time and interest. Not common sense, and definitely not respectability.

On that note, I am continuing to read 毎朝1分で人生は変わる: One Minute, One Action in the Morning Will Change Your Life.  It is pure self-help crack.   The vocabulary is not too hard, the advice is not revolutionary, but at one or two pages at a reading, “One Minute” is fun.

Morning arrival at Miyajima Island. Every morning is an opportunity to step through a gate.

Each chapter offers a quick daily change that has the power to change your life.  One quick little move that can move a whole body or life.  Think Aikido.

Here are the steps I have encountered so far.   (Please take my translations with a dash of soy sauce.):

  1. Ask yourself the morning questions to rev up your motivation.  『モーニングクゥエスチョンで やる気の1日を作り出す」 These questions come from Anthony Robbins CD  Personal Power 2 and are designed to jump start your day and revolve around your brain:  What am I happy about?  (Feel it!)  What am I excited about in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I proud in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I grateful about in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I enjoying most in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I committed to in my life now?  (Feel it!)  Who do I love?  Who loves me?  (Feel it!)  To whom and how can I contribute today?  (Enjoy it!)  ….I think I just used up my yearly exclamation point quota! 🙂
  2. If you read your goals out loud each morning and evening, you will be one step closer to your ideal life.  朝晩の「音読」で毎日一歩ずつ理想の自分に近づく。Miyake explains that the power of suggestion is especially powerful in the mornings and evenings. 
  3. One small adventure every day will translate into a bigger life experience. 「毎日の小さなの初体験」が「人生の大きな経験」になる。 Just one little change every day will teach your mind to take in new experiences and open your life.  Miyake suggests that even just taking a new street on your way to work can be a small adventure.  This reminds me of Julia Cameron, author and creativity guru, who suggests having one small “artist date” on a regular basis for bigger creative breakthroughs.

I can’t really say if these suggestions work or not.  I’ve started to take different routes to work, but I haven’t consistently tried the other steps.   But my life is already changing on one level.  I’m a little closer to Japanese because I’ve found a book that is fun.   Yes, the book seems like self help dross, but it’s fun.   But even if I read about alchemy in Japanese, the alchemy of fun would translate into more learning.  It’s a non-vicious cycle.  Take one minute, one action.  Have fun and change your life.

Read, Live, Think Like an Athlete: Become a Stopwatch Samurai

Samurai news bulletin. Samurai Time is on Your Side. Use a stopwatch.

After reading’s Khatzumoto’s article, You Can’t Afford Not to Buy Japanese Books article, I hustled my samurai patootie to Bookoff, a Japanese used book store in Manhattan.   I had fun just looking at book titles and I didn’t feel any pressure to buy.  Then I found a book whose title (毎朝1分で人生は変わる:  One Minute, One Action in the Morning will Change Your Whole Life) seemed to fit with all my latest thinking and experience with the power of small moments.  Even though I have plenty of unread Japanese books lying around, I picked up One Minute, One Action.

This morning I skimmed it using one of Khatzumoto’s suggested techniques.  I set a timer for 15 minutes, and looked at every page of the book.  Lo and behold, one of the chapters in the middle cajoles us to “Use a Stopwatch and Become a Learning Athelete.” (ストップウオッチを使って「学習アスリート」になる).   The author, Hiroyuki Miyake, offers some good advice about using timers and stopwatches while studying:

  • If you get in the habit of using a stop watch while studying, as soon as you push the button your mind and body get in the frame for learning.
  • Setting a limit for how long you are going to study a particular task raises your level of concentration.
  • If you have a longer study time frame, make sure to schedule breaks.  For example, if you study for 50 minutes, make sure to take a ten minute break.
  • Become a learning athlete!
  • Spend the last five minutes of your longer study periods reviewing what you have just learned. (He refers to what Ebbinghaus says about declining memory patterns.)

Weird clock on display at Dejima Island in Nagasaki. Dejima Island was where the Dutch traded ideas and inventions when the rest of Japan was isolated. Clocks and time keeping devices shouldn’t be confused with any sense of superiority. It’s another tool best used ethically and with balance.

This advice is all great but what I like is this whole idea of becoming an athlete.  Many moons ago, I trained for and ran a marathon.  One of the strange concepts I came across is fartleks (insert crude joke here :).  These are basically timed changes in your running pace.   You might run at a brisk pace for two minutes and then return to your normal pace.   These timed “sprints” are supposed to do all kinds of good stuff for you like increase your heart’s capacity and improve your overall pace.

But why limit the goodness of fartleks to marathons.  Life is a marathon.   Use your stopwatch to learn and take on whatever moves you forward, whether it’s cleaning your room, learning a language, or “whatevah.”  Time is on your side.  Fartlek around.  You are your life’s athlete.  Become a stopwatch samurai!


The Power of Morning and Evening: Samurai Slumbering–Samurai Rising

A passageway from a temple to garden in Nagasaki. Morning and evening are key transition times.

A Japanese self-help book, a samurai self-help blogger , and a Japanese immersion website meet at a bar and talk about the best time to “do it.”  Morning and night.

Morning and night might be one of the best times to set your intentions, embedded knew knowledge, and change your life.

Anchors Away!

Khatz talks about the importance of morning and evening as anchors:

I’ll just say that in terms of just outward behavior patterns, those two “anchor points” do tend to set pattern for the rest of the day. Broadly speaking, the rest of one’s day often seems to run off of the inertia from these two times of day.

Focus your energy on managing your immediate environment, the 3-foot wide country that is you — especially at these two critical times – and you may well find that other things just naturally fall into place.  —All Japanese All the Time

Khatz has been lightly hammering the idea of anchors in my daily “sprints” or suggestions for immersion.  Basically, I take this to mean that the morning and the minutes right before sleep are the most key moments of the day.   The morning sets the tone for the day and the minutes before sleep set the tone for the dream scape.

I’ve been experiment with this in many ways.   When I walk out in the mornings I often listen to japanesepod101.com podcast lessons.  Yesterday, however, I felt the pull to listen to Japanese music.  I follow whatever method or activity seems to be the most fun at the time.  In the middle of a work day, I usually work through at emergency room like atmosphere at a school.   As I get ready to sleep, I may read the supporting materials to the jpod lesson (if I’m interested) or listen to an non-jarring podcast.  These days I “listen”  to Tokyo FM’s Tokyo Midtown Presents, a pleasant and interesting program about different design concepts.   The voices are so pleasant that I never consciously listen to the content before sleep.  Does it work?  Who knows?  But I am enjoying Japanese, so why stop?

Power Your Morning (and Night), Furuichi Style

Yukio Furuichi, author of 1日30分を続けなさい!人生勝利の勉強法55 Learn to Win  My (My take with a dash of soy translation:   Keep going 30 minutes a day!  55 Study Steps to Winning in Life) also writes about the power of morning and the evenings.

Furuichi’s Reasons Why Studying in the Morning Pays Off:

  • There are fewer interesting television shows in the morning.
  • There a less distractions such as phone calls, social outings, etc
  • From his experience, the rate of learning seems to be higher in the morning than in the evenings
  • If you “git ir done” in the morning, you’ve got a huge part of your studying done for the day

Furuichi’s Hints for the Evenings:

Buddha at rest. You have to sleep in order to wake up.

  • Get at least six to seven and a half hours of sleep
  • If you don’t get enough sleep you become less effective when you study
  • While you are sleeping, memories get arranged and fixed
  • If you can’t sleep, have something by your bed you can study.  After you are tired (usually around 30 minutes) you should be able to sleep.
  • Napping helps but don’t go for long naps because they throw off your biorhythms.

Samurai at Rest/Samurai Rising

If morning and evening are such powerful anchors, why limit using them to whatever you are studying?   (Keep in mind that by studying I mean that you take on what you want to move forward in your life.)  What are the thoughts and intentions that you go to bed with at night?   I’ll be the first one to admit, that I often wake up with internal grumbling?  But why not wake up thinking about what you want in your life?  What you want for the world?   Why not rise up singing?

It’s the same with the evening.   Instead of taking your worries to bed with you, what about going to bed with appreciations and your dreams for the yourself and the world?

Sun up.  Sun down.  Samurai at rest.  Samurai rising.

Battling iDistraction: Samurai Goes Old School

From Miyajima Island

Hint:  given the topic of this post see if you can resist hitting any links until you get to the bottom of the post

I keep an iPad and several books by my bed.  I like to throw in a few minutes of study before I go to bed.  I pick something interesting yet not totally stimulating.   I find that two pages of a book in Japanese are enough to push mind a little forward and also overwhelm me and help me to sleep.  I also like to follow Japanese lessons on japanesepod101.com.  The information is useful, the grammar lesson are great but after fifteen minutes of reading a pdf or listening to a dialogue, I’m ready to drift into la-la land.

Driven to Distraction

But the iPad is a little dangerous.  I can check my lessons there or follow Japanese links. But the pretty little Facebook button calls and I have to just check it for a little bit.  Maybe there is a fascinating (or not) link to an article, and then I’m gone.  What was my intention?   What happened to my time?

Going Old School

I’m not abandoning my electronic toys.  The convenience and tools are just too elegant and fun.  These days I am enjoying reading about daruma, these funky Japanese dolls that are actually based on the story one of the founders of Zen in Japan.  I love that I can read the wikipedia page that’s loaded on to my iPhone.  I love that I can tap on to a Japanese word and get a definition.

But I’ve noticed these tools can turn into toys that encourage your “monkey mind.”   I’m not a Buddhist, but I play one on the internet. 🙂 “Monkey mind” means that you grab at whatever catches your attention in the moment.  One moment you are eating a banana and the next moment you are picking bugs out of your friend’s fur in a tree.  One moment you are setting out to study Japanese Zen schools of thought and then the next moment you are listening to “Tied to the Whipping Post” on Youtube.

Monkey on Miyajima Island. The fence is actually to keep the humans out of the monkey territory. Now, who has the monkey mind?

You don’t have to spank your monkey mind.  Exploring, goofing off, wandering aimlessly all have valuable roles to play.   But lately, if I find my self too iDistracted I resort to the following:

  • Read a book.   There are very few apps on a book.  Follow one mind.  If you “have no time” take five minutes a day to read.  Skip over parts that don’t interest you.  I just pulled out Marius B. Jansen’s The Making of Modern Japan.  800 pages.   So far. So Sekihagara good.
  • Write in and review your samurai notebook.   Follow your own mind for a while.  What are your thoughts, plans, goals, noticings? Review your notebook and enjoy.  Even if your notebook is filled with interesting quotes from other people they are your gatherings.   Reviewing your notebook reminds you of where your mind has been.  It anchors you.
  • [Practice what you preach alert]  Meditate.

Well, if you made it to the bottom of this post it means you got past the iDistraction and “monkey mind.”  Congratulations.  Gotta go see my friend about a banana, his fur, and something about a whipping post.

The Power of Five Minutes: The Condensed Version

The Benefits of Taking Five Minutes Each Day To Do Part of Your Dreams:

  • Starting is better than thinking about starting
  • Five minutes each day keeps your brain “myelienated”.  You keep the thread of practice or the thought of your novel, composition, graffiti bomb masterpiece in your mind instead of losing it.
  • Five minutes sometimes turns into half an hour, though it doesn’t have to.
  • Try it, Mikey, you just might like it.
  • You might start a fire that burns all day.
  • Hey, it’s just five minutes.
  • The universe likes it when you get to be you.

    I can see for miles and miles. View from Miyajima Island near Hiroshima. A mere five minutes a day can help you see and move farther.

  • Doing something for yourself helps you have better relations with others.
  • Five minutes helps keep your “tools” handy.   The guitar is tuned.  Laptop is close by.  Brushes are washed and arranged.  The running shoes are by the door.  Reference books are bookmarked to the next section.
  • Five minutes today makes it easier to continue tomorrow.
  • The burn files, redux.  Five minutes allows you to experience the power of the “burn”, whether it’s mental or physical.  Haven’t done push ups in a while?   Set a timer and do the “easy” push ups for five minutes.  You’ll feel the burn at some point.  What if you did this for a month.  Try it.  It’s just five minutes.
  • Five minutes let you know that maybe that task is not so scary.  Maybe you can put in another five minutes at some point during the day.  Why not now?
  • If you can spend five minutes on Facebook, you’ve got five minutes to look at your budget, play your guitar, write to someone you love, __________________________.
  • Five minutes keeps you in the present, the only place where things can happen.

Related link:  ” The strategic behavior: The power of five minutes “ from SmartBusiness