Orienting to stillness, orienting to motion

I started this blog to document meditating every day in 2010. My blog posts got kind of boring and I ended up broadening the topic, but before the year ended, I had made some big decisions, changing my approaches to work and home that resulted in living a more authentic, self-realizing life.

Selling my house and quitting my job with no clear path ahead were not changes I would have undertaken had not my meditation practice compelled me to make them for my own well-being and trust that the Universe and my own capabilities would come through. There was uncertainty along the way, and luck, but I figured I could always rent a room and do temp jobs to support myself, and that gave me courage. (I rented a room and did a few temp jobs on my path!)

However, I really wanted more than that for myself: I wanted to own an affordable, paid-for home in Austin, Texas, and I wanted to do work that I really loved. And I got those things.  Meditation helped me understand that not living authentically was no longer possible for me, and I’m happy with those decisions.

Since then I’ve divorced my meditation practice from any religion. I’ve occasionally slacked off for weeks at a time, and I’ve meditated irregularly and half-heartedly. I have not worked with another teacher.

Instead, I have groped my untutored way around stillness and silence, acutely aware of my vata monkey-mind, wondering if I have a touch of ADHD (other family members do), and occasionally stumbling upon states of pervasive bliss, being literally held by a higher power, being breathed, feeling currents moving in and through me, and experiencing brief moments of exquisite clarity. All with no idea how to return to any of those states. The birds ate my bread crumbs!

In August 2016, I discovered the Insight Timer app (iOS) for recording my meditation practice sessions, and my desire to meditate every day grew. As of today, I’ve meditated 188 consecutive days since September 26. You gotta love an app that gives you a gold star for meditating 10 days in a row.

In January, I had a breakthrough in a body/energy work practice, Biodynamics, that I’ve been studying for four years now that is mostly perception, and this also renewed my commitment to meditation, especially for doing longer sits of an hour when my schedule allows.

Feeling more committed, I signed up for a 10-day vipassana retreat in August, which is a good month to be away from work in an air-conditioned room, meditating my ass off with a bunch of Hindus and some other English-speaking people. Vipassana has been on my bucket list for years, and it’s finally going to happen.

So my love for meditation has been rekindled. Most mornings I wake up and can’t wait to meditate.

Out of this scenario, I feel like I have some things to say that might be helpful to new meditators and stalled meditators and meditators looking for inspiration. Because meditation is such a nonverbal realm, I’d like to make an attempt to put some words to it and make some suggestions that you can take or leave as you please.

We can’t notice everything at the same time. (Or at least not until/unless we are way advanced, as far as I know now.) This bird calling draws our attention, there’s the hum of the refrigerator, the faint smell of honeysuckle, the sensations of my feet being hot, the impulse to take my shoes and socks off. Pause. A chakra opens, a stuck place in my body makes itself known, oh should I have said that?, I can taste the cheese I ate earlier, that was a really satisfying breath, what’s for dinner?

We filter information about our experience in bits, and at the beginning of a session, it often changes quickly, like a slideshow on fast-forward. It would be overwhelming to experience all that simultaneously, not to mention hard to appreciate.

We can use our natural filtering capability to develop skills in orienting, which means setting a direction for what you intend to notice. It helps slow the monkey-mind slideshow down considerably.

Two ways of orienting that you may come to value are orienting toward stillness and orienting toward motion.

In orienting to stillness, notice the pauses between your inhalations and exhalations, and between your exhalations and inhalations. Notice the gaps between your thoughts. Notice your mind at rest. Nothing happening, nothing to see here, just…emptiness.

Ironically, in stillness, you may notice all kinds of subtler experiences, such as energy dancing across your face or even the beginning of a thought.

The other polarity is orienting to motion, such as your breath, which you’ve tuned into many times. Notice more about it. What moves in your body when you inhale and when you exhale? Do you feel a sense of with your inhalations? Do your exhalations help you y? Put your experiences into your own words if you can.

What about your heart, beating in your chest? Can you feel it pumping away, keeping you alive? You have pulses located all over your body. Can you sense them?

There’s a more subtle, slower rhythm, the rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid expanding your cranial bones ever so slightly and then receding, which you might even feel all the way down your spine. And there are even more subtle rhythms that are perceptible.

Stillness and motion are not opposites. There’s a bit of stillness in motion, and a bit of motion in stillness. Developing your perceptions of motion augments your perceptions of stillness, and vice versa.

Notice what you notice each time you meditate, and know that your next session will offer you new gifts of perception. Play with it!

I hope these suggestions inspire you to experience more deeply the human being that you are. May you have breakthroughs!

Blog stats for 2016

Well, folks, I broke 100,000 views in 2016, something I never dreamed of when I started this blog at the tail end of 2009. This little blog got 108,999 total views in 2016. In 2015, I got 51,449, so views more than doubled last year.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-9-33-44-pmIt started in January. Total views jumped to over 10,000 per month. The main driver seems to have been a single post, How to drink water with lemon and preserve your tooth enamel. That post got 52,433 views in 2016, and only 10,715 in 2015. First published in January 2014, it only got 209 views that entire year.

I’m guessing that starting in January 2015, people were drinking lemon water, felt something different going on in their mouths, and they got concerned, Googled, and found my post. I wish I knew more about why that post went viral. Did WordPress feature it? Did it get reblogged elsewhere? Who linked to it? It’s a mystery to me.

So 2016 turned out to be the year of preserving tooth enamel. In response to the interest, and after a visit to my dentist, I wrote another post, Rebuilding tooth enamel after drinking water with lemon, in June 2016 that got 2,148 views last year. That was the only top post I actually wrote in 2016.

There was also a lot of interest in the posts Recovering from a virus, recovering from adrenal exhaustion, My experience with brainwave optimization, and Healing bruised, strained toes, which round out the top 5 posts for 2016.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-9-34-49-pm

Continue reading

2015 blog review

I’m curiously sorting through my blog stats, now that 2015 is nearing its end. Before I get into the data, I want to acknowledge that I haven’t posted as often this year as in the past. (This is number 43 for the year.) Part of that is that I have less time to write. If you’re not familiar with my story, I quit my last job as an employee in 2010, went to massage school in 2011, and have been working, learning, and building my private practice since then. Business has grown sweetly this year.

Another reason I’ve posted less is that because of my work, I pay more attention to the non-verbal realm of life, to the haptic experience, to yours and my felt sense of being and how it changes. It’s difficult to write about. Not impossible, though, and I hope to do more of it in 2016.

On to the stats! My blog received a record number of views in 2015. The most popular posts were published before 2015. I’ve gotten 49,166 views as of today, December 20, so there’s still time to reach 50,000 this year! All-time views since the blog started in late 2009 have reached 177,513. Continue reading

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

My posting has fallen off this year as I’ve focused more on building my bodywork practice. I continue to be interested in and practice “life hacks” — self-care practices that pay off. Some current ones:

  • Drinking 8 ounces of water every morning (after brushing and flossing my teeth), and stirring 1 tablespoon of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of gelatin.
  • Doing yoga each morning in the form of slow sun salutations — slow as in about 2-3 minutes of standing forward bend to allow my hamstrings to gently lengthen. I also hold downward facing dog for a few minutes to feel the stretch in the entire back body. I add warrior, triangle, and reverse triangle for strength, hip mobility, and spinal twist.
  • I bought a device from HeartMath that allows me to check on my stress level (measured as heart rate variability) and take steps (heart-centered slow breathing) to de-stress. It works with my iPhone and clips to my earlobe. My goal is to use it three times a day for 5 minutes each time, and for a longer period (15-30 minutes) at least once a week. The beauty is that I can measure stress when I’ve been driving, shopping, and working — just doing daily tasks. It doesn’t replace seated meditation, just adds more body awareness throughout my day.

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The stats that are most amazing to me are those showing where readers came from. By far the most come from the U.S., followed by Canada and the UK, and other countries with a lot of English speakers (Australia, Brazil, India, Germany, and South Africa).

But there are a lot of surprising places that had just one reader, including Uzbekistan, Mauritius, Albania, Grenada, Yemen, Guadaloupe, Reunion, Jordan, and Moldova. And Bosnia and Herzegovina, Aruba, American Samoa, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Guernsey, St. Kitts and Nevis, Papua New Guinea (!), and Zambia. And Nicaragua, Northern Mariana Islands, Isle of Man, Paraguay, Mozambique, Cameroon, Luxembourg, and Haiti.

The nationality of readers (based on IP address?) has been noted since February 2012. I am still hoping to get readers from Cuba, Greenland, Suriname, and French Guiana in the western hemisphere, several Central and West African nations as well as Lesotho in southern Africa, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and North Korea in Asia. And there are also probably still some small island nations who have yet to discover this blog.

A girl can dream of collecting readers from all the planet’s nations. Regardless, it is inspiring and humbling to realize the reach of the internet. I hope my posts have been of some small value.

Thank you, dear readers!

No more ads!

The day I saw a McDonald’s ad on my blog was the day I decided never to run ads again, unless I had control over who advertised. Continue reading

How to get 100,000 views on your blog

Sometime in the early hours of December 13, 2013, my blog received its 100,000th view. My first post went up on December 30, 2009, so it took just short of four years to pass that milestone.

I think that perhaps that establishes this as a successful blog!

Some of the keys to getting there have been: Continue reading

End-of-year blog stats for 2012

I’m winding up my third year of blogging, getting ready to move into the fourth year, so it’s a good time to summarize.

View and visitor data

In 2012, my blog was viewed over 48,000 times, averaging 134 views per day. That’s up from 23,000 total and 63 average in 2011. Readership continues to grow. Thank you.

I had my best day ever, 580 views by 206 visitors, on Monday, December 10. That was far above average, and I still don’t know what made it different. I’m curious and happy!

(FYI, each page/post viewed per day per device counts as one view. WordPress just started tracking visitors this month, so I won’t have meaningful data on visitors for awhile.)

Most popular posts of 2012

  1. Home page/archives (the blog was my home page for most of the year)
  2. Update on my Spartan trailer
  3. Trauma releasing exercises
  4. Tattoo art on yogis
  5. The starfish story: making a difference
  6. The Well Ashiatsu and Massage (my new home page as of the latter part of this year)
  7. Each moment, life as it is, the only teacher: quotes from Joko Beck
  8. How do you get your energy back after having the flu?
  9. The left brain right brain crossover
  10. What you need to know about standing desks

Many of these posts appeared before 2012, but The starfish story and The Well Ashiatsu and Massage were new. Other new popular posts in 2012 included The heart’s energy field, Breaking a habit: change the cue and reward first, and the routine will follow, and The 12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening. Posts on current yoga controversies (injuries and scandals) got quite a few views as well.

Where views came from

blog views by county, 2012

blog views by county, 2012

Since Feb. 25, 2012, when WordPress began tracking where views came from, over 27,000 views have come from the U.S., followed by Canada and the UK with about 2,500 each. Australia, India, Germany, South Africa, Ireland, Netherlands, and New Zealand round out the top 10 countries. Hi, y’all!

I had no views at all in 2012 from Greenland, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Somalia, several west and central African nations. and a few very tiny ones.

Most popular search terms

Almost 30,000 views came through people using search engines, mostly Google. (This is why tagging is so important.) These were the most popular search terms:

  1. yoga tattoos
  2. spartan trailer
  3. trauma release exercises
  4. spartan carousel
  5. starfish story
  6. yoga tattoo
  7. spartan trailers
  8. spartan carousel for sale
  9. standing desk height calculator
  10. glenn black yoga

Other search terms that got viewers here included:

  • sitting unhealthy
  • jobs that are not sedentary
  • constructive things to do
  • 100 naked people
  • tantric broad

Surprisingly, several search terms used the Russian and Turkish alphabets. I have no idea what the English equivalents are.  I had 125 views from Turkey and 70 from the Russian Federation, so I goess they found something of interest. 

Clicks and ads and earnings

If you enter Amazon through links on this blog and make a purchase, I get a small percentage of whatever you buy, through a program called Amazon Associates. Amazon got 973 clicks from this blog in 2012.

From those clicks and subsequent sales, I earned all of $110 in 2012.

Don’t ask how many hours I put into this website. I don’t track my time, but I’m sure it averaged at least a couple of hours per week, and often double that. $110 for 104 hours (52 x 2) works out to about $1 per hour. Hmmm.

I have yet to be paid a cent for allowing ads on the blog. I’ve earned $54.37 since February 2012, when I began allowing ads, but the minimum payout is $100, so I’m still waiting for a deposit.  Frankly, I’m not sure advertising is worth the aesthetic drag and distraction, and I worry that some company whose values I disagree with (like Monsanto) will advertise.

If that happens, please let me know as soon as possible, so I can quit taking ads.

Blogging is a labor of love for me. It would be nice to make more money at it (with integrity, of course). I consider writing projects from time to time that could bring in  income, but so far I haven’t followed through. I believe that could change!

Other data

I end 2012 with:

  • over 75,000 views total
  • 313 followers (156 at the end of 2011)
  • 727 total posts
  • 2,250 tags
  • 576 comments (including my replies to commenters)

It’s been a good year. Thank you for reading me!

How did you find this blog?

Yesterday this blog got 580 views. Today so far there have been 380.

Most days I get a lot fewer views. The average number of views per day in November was 109.

I have no idea why views spike like this. I can see that 120 views today were referred by links, including search engines, but that doesn’t explain 260 of the views.

I can also see on the site stats that my home page, The Well Ashiatsu and Massage, has been viewed 239 times today so far.

If you don’t mind, if you are reading this post, would you please tell me in the comments how you got to my site? I would love to be enlightened about this.

New blog milestones and best massage ever given

Sometime this weekend when I wasn’t looking, my blog passed 60,000 views! This is a labor of love, and I can’t measure my “success” in monetary terms. Blog views, likes, and comments are my currency.

Thank you for reading me.

And…yesterday I had my best single day ever with 426 views! That’s pretty astonishing, considering the average number of views per day in 2012 (so far) has been 182.

I took the whole weekend off, spending a good chunk of it out in the country at a friend’s remote ranch. Clean air, water, cattle, a river, lots of trees, big sky, silence (compared to the city), a sweet porch on which I did a couple of great yoga sequences, soaking in a metal tub filled with well water, and lots of laughter were just the ticket for rest and relaxation.

I didn’t do a stroke of bodywork all weekend (except a little self-massage on my shoulders and arms). This morning I gave what felt to me like the best massage I’ve ever given, a 90-minute full body massage combining Swedish, deep, pressure points, rocking, reflexology, and lots of attention to her neck, shoulders, and hips. My client really appreciated it. Her week started extremely well.

If you’re looking for a great massage, consider booking one in the morning when your massage therapist is feeling refreshed, especially after a couple of days off! If you’re in the Austin area, I’d love your business!

See you later, with the first turnaround of Byron Katie’s Work!

Altucher on oxytocin and polyvagal theory, with humor

10 Unusual Ways to Release Oxytocin Into Your Life Altucher Confidential.

I love this guy. He’s so real. I can only wish I was as good a writer as James Altucher.

He tells about being caught shoplifting as a kid, his disgust for going to the bathroom, cortisol, stress, the vagus nerve, a photo of a woman’s tattoo of “Fight or Flight”, and oxytocin.

There’s another photo of a foot with the chemical formula for oxytocin tattooed on it.

Then he lists 10 ways to increase your oxytocin levels.

One of the ways happens to be shooting guns. I don’t think that one would work for me. Loud sudden noises like gunshots make me really jumpy. That’s cortisol, not oxytocin. Maybe that’s a guy thing?

I would replace that one with getting a massage. I notice that with almost everyone, receiving massage decreases their cortisol. I can tell from feeling their energy before and after, gauged by how they move and their voices.

For others, especially those who are accustomed to regular massage, an hour or so of good bodywork vastly increases their oxytocin. They are all soft and mellow and receptive and happy afterwards.

I would also add rocking a sleeping baby, but you might have had to nurse your own baby first to get that feeling.

The rest of Altucher’s recommendations for increasing oxytocin work. Even using Facebook! And I especially like his strategy for dating.

I will tell you my pre-date secret. In the brief period when I was single in between separation and re-marriage I had a technique before every date. I would watch either Michael Cera doing comedy or Louis CK doing standup. This would get me laughing, make my oxytocin hormones go on fire, and then I’d go right into the date, with all my sex hormones raging. Plus. I would be temporarily funnier, with a half-life of about two hours. I knew after four hours I would be boring again so the date would have to be over by then. I do this before talks also.