Take the Toys and Run!: Samurai Mind Notebook

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A samurai notebook is a toy for the mind. It should have fun bits and ideas that you can run with. Play is important.  photo from unprofound.com.

I keep what I like to call a samurai mind notebook.  It is a notebook where I keep project ideas, inspirational quotations, and useful information.  I review the notebooks so that eventually everything is reviewed after 2 days, 4 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, etc.  If the ideas stop being interesting or useful to me, I cross them out.

What happens with a samurai mind notebook is that I start picking up the pieces so I can play with them again.  It’s not just review for review’s sake but also shake up my mind and give it little forgotten cat toys to play with.  When I review my notebooks not only do I review information but I also review inspiration.  I pick  up on ideas and states of mind that made me excited.   These quotations and inspiration all get another  to be “part of the conversation” of my busy life.

Reviewing my samurai mind notebook is not some dreary, rigid, self-flagellating study in obligation.  It is a chance to let inspiration and interesting knowledge become part of my mental DNA.  Steve Chandler, author of Time Warrior and a host of other transformational books wrote,  “Be conscious of your real loves.  Keep self-inquiry alive.  You don’t drop it, you include it, and align it.”   A samurai mind notebook and the scheduled reviews is one way to keep that love alive.

I often miss scheduled reviews, but the notebooks are always there to re-light little fires.  I didn’t haul of my notebooks to Japan  so I’ve recently unearthed a few notebooks and have reviewed while on the train or waiting to get a hair-cut.  Here’s a few of the tidbits I found:

  • fun questions and thoughts and inspirations from Zen and the Art of Making a Living
  • notes from a summer coaching workshop
  • random inspirational quotes
  • great ideas for teaching that I had forgotten
  • ideas for courses I am developing for my students
  • little pieces from The Little Book of Talent
  • fun and useful Japanese sentences from various books

Theoretically I would have reviewed everything on a schedule but I came across entries from six weeks ago that had only received a two week review.   That is okay.  The beautiful thing about the samurai mind notebook process is that eventually everything gets its review and a chance to play in your mind again (or be marked out and “trashed”).

Pick up a notebook.  Pick up the pieces and play.  Take the toys and run.



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3 Responses to Take the Toys and Run!: Samurai Mind Notebook

  1. Frances says:

    I've never been good at recording things and it's started to worry me that ideas/thoughts/inspiration/notes from books and articles I've read are not being captured well enough (or at all!).
    I like your ideas about Samurai notebooks. I've actually experimented with putting notes and quotes like this into a deck in Anki too, which works in a similar way and things can be marked up or down depending on how relevant or useful it seems when I review it. I feel an urge to get away from the computer/iPod screen more often though, so a simple notebook could work better for jotting down random stuff through the day. Your system would be a good way to prevent those notebooks becoming a random pile of scribbles with all the good bits lost somewhere in the middle, never to be read again!
    I also read a lot on AJATT, and like his ideas. Your posts often offer valuable insight on how you have applied ideas like his, with useful comments and observations. I know you've mentioned that you often find yourself quoting AJATT, and I have the same problem- feel like a broken record sometimes! (I don't mean to imply that his stuff is all you write about though! just meant that I can identify with you on that!)
    I just wanted to comment to let you know I appreciate your posts!

    • taijuando says:

      So glad it's been of help! Anki is great for for inspirational quotes and ideas! What I'm finding with the samurai notebook system is that I am able to recover or re-experience whole states of mind and long term project ideas in a way that the randomness of Anki can't quite accomplish. For example, I've recently come across some action writing from the career book, "What Color is Your Parachute" which I started a few months ago and then I got busy. Every day that I review, I uncover something else and if its a real gem, I include it in my current journal to "seal the deal." Thanks so much for writing and keep me updated. At some point, I want to write about how people use this system and its really fun to hear from you. Thanks!

  2. Leong says:

    Thanks for the great post. I need to buy notebooks to try it myself.

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