Yoga Update

Since 2015, I’ve been practicing yoga regularly at the Corner Studio in Medford. My favorite classes and teacher are Yin Yoga with Holland Sweeney. I like them so much, that earlier this year, I decided to take a teacher training with Josh Summers (Holland’s Yin teacher). After the first class, I immediately signed up for the second one, and after that, I formally enrolled in the Summers School of Yin Yoga to pursue my RYT-500 yoga teacher certification. As of last week’s retreat, I now have 220 of the 500 hours required, the balance of which will be obtained with one more class with the Summers School, and a 200 hour course with Jenna Palm.

So yeah, yoga has become a significant part of my life, and I’m loving it. Krav Maga, mountain biking, and running are still big as well, but for 2018, yoga is my focus. In fact, I’ve been teaching Yin Yoga at Alpha Krav Maga Boston, and will soon be teaching at Karma Yoga Studio in Cambridge. Want to follow my yoga pursuits? You can do so over at Yoga With Peter!

In case you’re wondering (because people love to jump to conclusions), no, I am not quitting my day jobs in information security, and Paradigm Consulting Co LLC is not going away.

Retreat! Retreeeat!!!

Last week, I went to a 5 day silent retreat in Western Massachusetts with Josh Summers as part of my enrollment in the Summers School of Yin Yoga. I am still digesting the experience. When I was on the road home, my girlfriend asked “am I talking to Peter 2.0?” I said it was less like the difference between these two guys:

 

and more like the difference between these two:

 

In other words, while it was a significant event, it wasn’t a dramatic, life-changer for me. I didn’t come back and immediately quit my job, break up with my girlfriend, stop smoking, etc. (No, I haven’t started smoking, and therefore I haven’t stopped, either. (Nor have I stopped beating my wife.)) That said, there are subtle improvements, new tools and techniques, and knowledge was gained.

The retreat was in the vipassana style, although more relaxed in most ways. We woke every morning at 6AM, sat in meditation 6 times a day for 30 minutes, broken up by 30 minute walking meditation sessions, recollective journaling, meals, dharma talks, chores, and more reflection.

On the first night there, I felt intense pain between my shoulder blades. I first thought that this was caused by the 200 kettle bell swings I’d done two days prior in the morning Krav Maga practice. After downing painkillers and sleep aids, I slept it off and the next day it was fine. The next day, my teacher noted this sort of phenomenon was common, and he himself often experienced it. “Hah!” I thought to myself. “Already checked that box!” Little did I Know that my mind wasn’t done trying to torture me, because two days later, when the weather had finally cooled and the conditions were optimal for a run, it returned. This time, it came back on the right side, and manifested as a searing blade that stabbed with every step I took. I didn’t get 0.10 miles before I had to stop and try to massage the knot out against a telephone poll, which didn’t work. I sheepishly limped back to the retreat center and stewed, all the time repeating “this is pain, and it’s like this. This is pain, and it’s like this. his is pain, and it F***ING SUCKS!” After discussing this in a small group during our afternoon session, the pain vanished and I was again able to do a 2 mile run uphill with no pain.

Similarly, other pains manifested in almost all sitting sessions, normally in the knees and hips. Depending on how I sat, my whole right leg would fall asleep from the hip down to the toes. Over time, I ended up sitting in seiza, which proved to be most sustainable. In seiza, I was usually able to sit for around 25 minutes before discomfort began to settle in. Coincidentally, this is when the meditation sessions would usually start to “get good.” Go figure – the mindbody was trying to distract me just when the good stuff began. Huh.

So what is the “good stuff?” Apparently it’s different, yet similar, for everyone. In my experience, I feel more relaxed, calm, and able to focus after a good session. Other people report stories similar to dreams, conversations with family, friends, and coworkers, and lots of other stuff. If you’re interested in a number of different accounts, I recommend reading Jason Siff’s book, Unlearning Meditation.

The technique I usually used is best described in the aforementioned text, although I often reverted to tagging/noting, metta (loving kindness), and body scans when I felt the need to. As the week progressed, the sessions became easier, with the final session Sunday morning flying by with zero discomfort.

I’ve managed to wake up, caffeinate, and meditate every day since the retreat, and will continue to do so. I also plan to try doubling a normal sit time (to an hour) once a week. Wish me luck.

2018 – It’s Been Eventful!

What have I been up to since my last blog post? A lot, actually. I’m going to break them up into different posts.

So, yeah, lotsa stuff.

Slow Carb Modified

In late June, I made some measured modifications to my now-(depending on how you define it) famous slow carb diet practice. 

For starters, I resumed drinking Gatorade during Krav Maga training sessions. I noticed an immediate increase in my mental acuity and energy levels, resulting in better training, both physically and mentally.  I am also allowing myself up to one soda – usually club soda, lemon juice, and stevia – per day. 

Next, I allowed myself one “slip day” (in addition to my cheat day) per week, where I can eat restricted foods (dairy, or grains) provided I do so after a resistance training workout, and I stay within my daily total energy expenditure (so if I have a couple slices of pizza after hitting the gym, and keep the calories sane, I’m okay. 

I’m also skipping breakfast – yes, the most important meal of the day – on most days. Also, I haven’t been eating as many legumes as previously, usually only having them a few days or of the week now. 

Finally, I allow myself some night time carbs. This has usually been a small amount of dark chocolate, but could also be a granola bar. In addition to satisfying any cravings, this had resulted in better quality sleep than melatonin, valerian, or GABA. Again, I make sure to stay within my daily TEE so this is not a bingefest like some Saturdays turn into. 

The results? Not much to report, actually. There has been a modest decrease in weight over the last few weeks, but nothing dramatic. 

Given all of these adjustments, I’m not sure it even qualifies as the slow carb diet even more, but hey! As long as it works, I’m happy. 

Weight tracking June-July 2016
Weight tracking June-July 2016

It’s Podcasting time again!

After a few years of regularly co-hosting a podcast (Fresh Ubuntu, and Pocket Sized Podcast), I’ve partnered with my friend and colleague Adam Bell to record and publish Blurring the Lines! On the show, we will take about our experiences with business, as well as our personal lines, and how they blur in the 21st century. We also will have interviews with interesting guests on how the lines between their business and personal lives blur, how they maintain separation, and how they embrace the intersection. Give us a listen, and subscribe! Right now!