Archive | March, 2010

Mindfulness and your inbox

23 Mar

We don’t open or read every email in our inbox, nor do most of us scour through our  junk mail with fascination and hope of all that it might offer. You see that it is spam or junk and delete it.  Better yet, you have an email filter that does that for you so you don’t waste any of your time.

Mindfulness to the mind is what spam blocker is to your inbox. When you start to become aware,  you get more familiar with your thoughts and can more easily recognize the junk mail. Minimize the mind clutter!  Do not become engrossed in every thought the mind encounters it wastes your precious time. We can’t get more time in the day  but we can become more efficient. Becoming aware of these thoughts  is the first step. It is time to find  way to “unsubscribe” to those distribution lists your own mind produces!

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The storytelling mind

22 Mar

An author, Arnie Kozak, of a book “Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants” lives in Vermont and he had a story to share about storytelling. Not the kind of story like “Once upon a time…” but rather the stories that play through our mind that erode our self-confidence and distract us from what is actually happening. The conversations in our head that form larger stories and patterns for our behavior.

The author was offering a meditation retreat one weekend. On Saturday he felt there was a lot of resistance to what he had to teach but a few people were starting to open up and understand. Sun morning, he arrives early, does his own meditation and prepares the room for the 8:00 start.  It is 7:50 and he notices that no one has there yet. He thinks to himself “maybe I should have had a later start time or there was traffic”…then at 8:00 he is really worried… “Did I push the group too much and no one was coming back? Were they so upset that no one even bothered to call me to say they were not coming?”  And on and on the mind goes, weaving a story of how deficient we are. Then a few minutes after 8:00 this question popped into his head…”Did you unlock the door?” He goes to the front of the building and sure enough, the main door was locked.  He opens it to see everyone sitting on the porch enjoying the morning sun, chatting and  a few have begun their meditation in the garden nearby.

We can have thoughts that are deliberate and intentional which are based in reality of what is happening based on what we can observe.  This is different than the storytelling mind.  The storytelling mind jumps to conclusions, which often are incorrect and self-sabotaging. Storytelling pulls you out of the present. Stop the cycle of storytelling and allow a greater connection to what is happening around you instead. This allows us to be more present, more aware, and a better teacher.  Just unlock the door.

Parrot dancing

18 Mar

My parrot is often on my desk while I work.  While on YouTube I found a video of Snowball, a Cockatoo dancing to “Another One Bites The Dust”.  If you have not heard of  parrots and their ability to keep perfect timing to music, click here for a news article.

I am not sure my bird is as good of a dancer however. She does like to dance to music and the little nasal tweet sound that she makes here is her way of singing. She is no Amazon parrot, but pretty cute none-the-less.

Training a fish!

18 Mar

Teach a fish to do what you might ask? How about push a ball around on the bottom of the tank or to swim through a hoop?  Anything is possible!  The same techniques and methods that work on people, chimps, dolphins, horses, and dogs also work on fish.  With a few slight modifications of course.  For my fish Clovis, I am using a pen light as my reward marker- the way I tell the fish “yes that’s right”. I flash the light exactly when the fish is doing something that I want. I follow it up with a food reward so that I am likely to get that same behavior again when I ask for it. Below is a clip of a recent session.  We are both new to this: the fish is fairly new to the tank and I have never trained a fish before, so there is learning curve for us both.

We have established that when I place my finger on the tank he will move towards the front of the tank. I am working on a movement to follow my finger.  So in the clip below, you will see me flash the light after he starts to follow my finger- that is my signal to tell the fish that is the behavior that I want.  Also since we have some conditioning in place, when I flash the light you will see him orient to the top of the tank where the food comes in.  My food hand is always present and stays still on the tank before I start our training session.  This avoids me having to reach towards the tank to feed him. I do this so that the fish does not associate the movement of my hands around the tank with food. I just want clean training and as few distractions as possible.

I will post more when I can.  We don’t do much training and I don’t always video, but I will try to do more now that I have this blog.

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