Search Results for: meditation

One Full Year of Daily Meditation!

I’ve finally done it: a streak of 365 days of meditation!

Let me tell you why this is a big deal to me…

It’s NOT about the achievements!!

Over the last 4 years or so, I’ve blogged about (or mentioned) meditation. I’ve been consistently meditating daily for the last 365 days. However, it wasn’t always like this.

The app I use for guided meditation, Headspace, like many others, award you with badges based on your streak of days meditating: 1 day, 3 days, 10 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc. Getting up to 30 days was relatively easy for me: come on, 10 minutes a day shouldn’t be that hard! However, the next badge after that is for 90 days.

In order to hit that next mark, at some point I started cheating: there were days where I was too busy with everything else, so I’d start the guided meditation on the app, and proceed with doing whatever else I was doing. Yeah, just so I could earn my super badge. Really?!

Fortunately, my blog tagline’s got to me: “Why do we do this again…?”. Oh, the shame.

With that realization, I got back on track, now decided that I’d never cheat like that again; if I had to miss a day because I couldn’t honestly afford 10 minutes to meditate, I’d simply start over from day 1.

Guess what? I did find time to meditate!

I remember reading or hearing somewhere: “If you don’t have time to meditate 10 minutes, you should meditate 20 minutes”. There’s a lot of truth in that. Over time I started meditating 15 minutes, and then got to 20 minutes (I have pulled back to 15 minutes a few months ago after adding a couple minutes to the evening, too, but I’ll likely go up in my morning session again soon).

But the streak was broken again… and again…

I got my for the 90-day streak. And then for 180 days. But then, one weekend in mid 2017, I camped at a racing track and thought: “yikes, how am I going to meditate here?”. And I skipped two days of meditation. I then convinced myself there’s absolutely no reason to meditate wherever I am, and ever since, I have meditated inside of my camping tent, inside of my car, at hotels, at work… I don’t care.

After that, how would I get to the next (and last) badge, for 365 days? Well, that one couldn’t be easy.

At one moment, I passed 200+ days, but then I had one bad day when the sun didn’t want to smile at me and the streak was broken. I started over.

Then, I passed 300+ days. And then again, a mix of a bad day and a timezone change for a trip to Europe have caused that streak to be broken again. Man, so close…

…and finally, 365!!

I’ve really earned this badge:

If there’s a day that’s, let’s say, complicated, I will NOT skip meditation. I may have a short session (the minimum I did was 3 minutes), but I’ll still sit down, put myself together, meditate, and then carry on.

Now I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, collecting the benefits of living a mindful life, and eventually, I’ll get to 2 thousand meditation sessions completed. 🙂

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Meditation is finally paying off

I feel like meditation is finally paying off for me!

I remember I was a kid (maybe 10 years old or so) when I first tried any sort of meditation. No idea what motivated me to do so at the time. Maybe it’s because I was into watching martial arts movies and saw the characters meditating?

I used to close the doors and windows to keep my bedroom dark, put on Vangelis’ Alpha song (my brother had a small LP that had that song), sat on the floor, and went like “ommmmmmmm” for a while. Go figure.

A little over year ago I heard of Headspace’s app for guided meditation and decided to give it a go. I tried their free 10-day program, enjoyed it, and ended up getting the yearly subscription.

As of today, I have had 243 medication sessions, totalling 44 hours, averaging 11 minutes per session. I first started doing 10-minute daily sessions, and only about two months ago I’ve increased it to 15-minute sessions.

It’s definitely not easy sitting through those sessions trying not to get distracted by everything going on in my head. For a long time I kept asking myself whether that thing was actually working, since I couldn’t tell difference. But I decided to insist on it.

Now I think it’s finally paying off!

I’ve been noticing how smoothly I’m handling some stressful situations, such as cases where in the past I’d lose my temper and end up regretting how I handled it.

I’ve also been noticing that I’m detecting my distractions a lot quicker and more frequently and bringing my mind back to whatever it is that I need to be focused on.

Many times those distractions come in the shape of thoughts that bring me down, and most of the times those are things either sitting in the past (which I cannot change) or future (which I may or may not be able to change). I’m noticing I’m doing a lot better at recognizing those thoughts and letting them go as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Overall, I’m feeling happier and more focused, which are things I had been really in need of, and I believe meditation is one of the things helping me with that.

Due to my consistency following my daily sessions, Headspace has been giving me vouchers that I can give out to people who would like to try their app for one month for free. Let me know if you’d like to get one voucher.

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2018: Annual Review

As per my 2017 Annual Review, these were the things I mentioned I was working toward:

1. Way to exercise outside of DST
2. More consistent way to work on music
3. Beyond the Track
4. New language on Duolingo
5. Public classes

So, allow me to ponder over those things, and add on top of it…

What went well in 2017?

Jar of Awesome: I’ve adopted the idea of having a Jar of Awesome (first read it on Tim FerrissTools of Titans book), and on January 1st of 2018, I’ve put a jar in a place that’s easily visible and accessible at home. By December 31st, the jar was full of reminders of our gratitude throughout the year!

Riding Trip in Europe: This is a bucket list type of endeavor. Back in late 2017, I’ve seen a post about this tour. I knew that was something my wife and I would love to do, so I had set it as a goal for 2018, which we have accomplished!

Learning Other Languages: I continued using Duolingo to learn and practice other languages. I’ve finished Italian, continued practicing it for a couple of months, and then a started and finished German. Both languages came in handy for my trip to Europe mentioned above. Last year I mentioned I was running my longest streak ever on Duolingo, at 144 days. I went all the way up to 300+ days, but ended up breaking the chain after completing one day a few minutes after the counter resets. That’s ok: I started over and am now back to a streak of 175 days! For almost a year I had my daily goal set to 50 XP, but I had to lower it to 20 a few months ago. I figured it’s better to lower it than break the chain, and will likely go up to 50 soon.

Meditation: my last year’s post shows a streak of 236 of meditation. I got over 300+ days. But then, there was one bad day that threw me off, and the chain was broken. It’s ok; I started all over the next day! I’m now running a 140-day streak. I’ve just passed 1000 sessions overall, which makes me happy. Some days are easier than others, but it’s important to keep the practice every single day.

Beyond the Track: last year I’ve mentioned that this was going to be something I’d be working towards. And I really did! I’ve held one meetup every month, the entire year. I was also the main speaker for most of the meetings, and edited/published videos of all meetings so that people who couldn’t attend were at least able to watch it online (and a good number of people did!).

SportBike Track Riding: I enjoyed so much riding my bike at track days in 2017, I planned to do the same in 2018. Well, I did more than twice as many track days! I’ve been improving my riding consistently, and having a lot of fun.

New Original Songs: I wanted to work on music more consistently, since I have a big backlog of ideas for songs. I’ve managed to finish and publish two new songs, and have a third one almost ready to be released earlier this year. The interesting thing about the two songs I published is that I didn’t spend a lot of time working on them. On the first one, released in late March, I’ve put together some parts I had for a song, showed the inspiration for lyrics to my singer buddy Roberto Gallaeci, and we knocked it down in just a few sessions. For the second song, released in early November, I already had the music, lyrics and vocals all written, so I only had to sit down and record everything, which I did in about 2-3 weeks. So, while I’d like to have recorded more songs, I’m happy with how productively I was able to put out two songs that I’m really proud of (and can’t wait to put out the new one, which is almost done!).

Trainings Delivered for Improving: Twice this year I’ve had to lead trainings with less than 10 days notice; something that popped-up and someone was needed. Without going into details, I just have to say I’m very happy with the evals I got from both trainings.

Involvement at Improving: I’ve continued growing my involvement with Improving’s “extra-work” related activities (such as doing presentations at conferences and user groups). I’m specifically pleased with the feedback I got from attendees to several of my presentations. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, and knowing that people enjoy my talks is always a great motivator.

What didn’t go so well?

Exercising: Last year, I mentioned I needed a way to exercise outside of DST. I’ve failed at that. While I did do some exercising during that period, I’m not proud of the low frequency. For this year, I’ve taken the Evernote’s Ever Better Challenge and created the commitment with myself to do any sort of physical activity for at least 20 minutes, every day, for 30 days. Exercising is very boring for me, but I have one core motivation to do it: I need to be fit in order to take my Sport Bike riding to the next level!

Public classes: I enjoyed teaching some internal classes at Improving early last year, and I considered offering them as public classes. However, I decided to shelve that idea as I pursued other goals throughout the year (the goals that were achieved and mentioned in the “what went well” section.

What am I working toward?

Continue Growing Beyond the Track: I’m digging this work I’m doing and I’ve been getting great feedback from people saying how much this initiative has helped them. I’ll continue having the monthly meetups, but I plan to grow it outside of the in-class meetings. I have tons of ideas, I’m acting on them, and I have even created a Patreon page for Beyond the Track, so I can build a bigger community around it and get help to keep pushing it forward.

SportBike Track Riding: I’ll continue doing it! I’m putting together specific goals I want to achieve this year, the kind of progress I want to make, what tracks I want to ride, and will go have fun!

New Opportunities at Improving: As I look into growing within the company, I’m analyzing some opportunities and settings some goals to pursue this year. I’ll quite possibly blog about it as things materialize.

Conclusion

This was a quick summary. There are other things that went well, much like there are other things that didn’t go well. Oh, and there are also other things I’m working toward! But I think this is a good way to start off this year.

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2017: Annual Review

As per 2016 Annual Review, these were the things I mentioned I was working toward:

  1. Playing catch up professionally
  2. Serious hobbies
  3. Continuous improvement

I believe I did well in those three points!

What went well in 2017?

Solid morning/nightly ritual: Both My Morning and Nightly rituals are very solid and allow me to live a more focused life. I no longer need reminders and checklists to stay on top on what habits I want to build in those two very important moments of the day.

Meditation: As I blogged over a year and a half ago, meditation is finally paying off. It is the single most important thing I do every morning. I’m currently in my longest meditation streak ever, and it shows no signs it’ll be broken!

Journaling: I’ve finished my first Five Minute Journal (which covers 6 months of my life) and started a new one immediately after. This has been a great tool for me to continue practicing gratitude every day, as well as taking two moments in the day (morning/evening) to slow the hell down and reflect upon my day.

Blogging
: as in 2016, I wanted to make this blog more active in 2017 (in terms of number of posts I create), and I achieved that; I’ve published 59 posts (against 23 in the previous year)! Many of these posts have helped clients and co-workers, and have also helped myself putting together presentations and training courses.

Learning other languages: in 2015 I used Duolingo quite a bit to learn more Spanish. After a hiatus, I picked it back up in 2016, and redid the entire Spanish course. When I was done with that, I then picked up Italian, which I’m very close to finishing. I’m also on my longest Duolingo streak ever: 144 days! That means, at a very minimum, I learn a little bit of something new every single day. And another cool bit of information: I’m learning these languages in Duolingo as an English speaker (in case you don’t know, English is NOT my primary language)!

SportBike Track Riding: this is a serious hobby I hinted as one of the things I was working toward. I rode at the track an average of at least once a month, improved a LOT as a rider, and am doing everything in a very methodical way, while having TONS of fun doing it. I document a lot of this on my dedicated YouTube and Instagram channels.

ImprovingU: One of the awesome things we have at Improving is called ImprovingU, which consists of internal presentations and training courses that employees can attend to in order to improve in a number of areas. Besides attending to many of these trainings, I’ve personally delivered three talks in what we call Tech Fridays, and also taught two other lengthy training courses.

Involvement at Improving: Improving also has a cool program for employees who want to get more involved (doing presentations, participating in user groups, volunteering, etc.). People who get involved get points based on the type of activity. I’ve stayed consistently among the top Improvers in this program. While I don’t engage in these activities solely for the points, it’s a good metric for me to see that I’m always trying to both get better and help others do the same.

Put out some new music: Making music is another hobby I take seriously. While I haven’t put out as much music as I’d like, I did get to publish two songs.

The first one was a cover as a tribute to my top favorite singer/lyricist of all time, who passed away in December:

The second one is a new original song, once again written for my beloved wife:

What didn’t go so well?

Periods without excercising: most of my excersizing last year came from going rollerblading at the park. However, that only worked while we’re on Daylight Saving Time (DST), since it gives me a good window between getting back home from work and getting too dark. Once DST ends, though, that’s no longer an option, and not engaging into another type of activity during that period has made me go too long without some good excersizing, causing me to put on some weight and also feel somewhat crappy.

What am I working toward?

In no particular order, these are the things I want to improve on in 2018:

Way to exercise outside of DST: I’m looking for alternatives so I can excercise when it’s too dark outside for me to go rollerblading. Right now, I’m trying a mix of trampoline, jumprope, weightlifting, pull-ups, push-ups. I’m evaluating how that works for me and making adjustments as I go, until I find a good flow.

More consistent way to work on music: I definitely want to put more music out this year. In order for that to happen, I will set aside at least one or two hours every week

Beyond the Track: I’m enjoying so much my track riding hobby that I’m starting a new Special Interest group, as I feel a strong need to share everything I’ve learned so far, and also learn more from more experienced riders. The first meeting is happening on January 17 (two weeks prior to this year’s track day season starts), and I plan on holding these meetings every month.

New language on Duolingo: when I’m done with all the Italian lessons, continue my long streak, possibly by still practicing Italian for a few more weeks, than reviewing Spanish, and finally starting on another language (maybe French or German).

Public classes: as I mentioned in the “what went well” section, I’ve created some internal courses to be taught at Improving. I’m seriously considering also teaching it to others who might be interested.

Myself through the eyes of others

My previous annual reviews have solely been done my me. It’s me revewing my goals, plans, results. I want to start adding this section now, given the following quote that showed up one of the days on my Five Minute Journal:

“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” – Ellen DeGeneres

So I decided to reach out to someone impacted by my goals, plans, actions, inactions, to see how I did in 2017. Here’s a summary of I heard regarding things I did well:

  • “You’ve become a better rider” (my wife enjoys 2-up riding as my passenger, so getting better at it is a big thing)
  • “You’ve made a new song for me!” (already mentioned it previously)
  • “You got better professionaly.” (those close to me see and appreciate how I develop as a professional)
  • “You took us to visit some places we really enjoyed.”
  • “You been so patient with so many things and you have shown a great ability to forgive.”
  • “You’ve kept our shared life stable, while still moving forward, even through the toughest times.”

I was very happy to hear those things. Even happier when I saw what I wrote on one of the first pages of my first Five Minute Journal before 2017 started:

In case you can’t understand my handwriting (I can’t blame you!): “To stay calm and level-headed through mood shifting turmoils. Staying on a stable routine due to that.”.

Followed by:

“I feel strong-willed towards the things I really want and believe. I’m dedicated to my family. I feel I can make a difference in the life of others.”

 

Honestly, I didn’t remember writing those words, but I definitely meant it and lived by it, and the results showed up, both stated by myself and a loved one. This has been a good validation that if I know what I want and what I am (or want to be), if I set goals, make plans, take actions, review it constantly, stick to small actions that don’t look much on a day-to-day basis but that add up tremendously, good results tend to happen.

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My Morning Ritual

I’ve introduced morning rituals in my life a long time ago. These rituals change over time, based on whatever’s going on in my life, as well as what constraints I have, what resources, etc.

Currently, here’s what my morning ritual looks like (starting after hitting the snooze button a few times – a bad habbit I need to break! – and going to the bathroom):

  1. Stretch: I stretch my body, mostly using a foam roller like this one, to roll my legs and back and get things back into place;
  2. Water: After so many hours without drinking or eating anything, I like drinking about a glass of water so that my body can flush its system; 🙂
  3. Protein shake: I don’t feel like having a large breakfast in the morning, so I at least try to get some protein, which will help me not feel hungry way before lunch time;
  4. Meditate: I’ve blogged about how meditation is paying off. I’ve been meditating for 15 minutes for several months. I’m thinking about going up to 20 minutes soon. 
  5. Journaling: For many years I’ve been writing down things I’m grateful for. For the last several months I’ve been using the 5-Minute Journal, which just adds a little more structure to it;
  6. Watch to short inspirational video or listen to song that gets me going:  I may either watch a video off the QuickTalk YouTube playlist Short, or listen to a song off my Morning Songs playlist;
  7. Organize my day: I first review things that I know are going on that day and then set up my Daily Execution note, which drives my day;
    8. Quick email scan: this happens real quick! I barely skim over email subjects, specifically looking for anything that could somehow mess up with my plans for the day (set in #7). For instance, maybe a meeting got cancelled last minute, or something urgent has come up and I must include in my agenda for the day. 
  8. Go to work!

Seriously, I do NOT read emails in the morning. I ONLY go through subjects and see if there’s anything that could change my agenda for the day. I’ll only spend more time checking email once my main activies have been put in motion at work.

Also, I do NOT check any social network in the morning.

Important: I set my cellphone to “flight mode” when I go to bed, and I only set it back when doing step #8 above; that way, I don’t hear and dings for new messages in the middle of the night, and I don’t take the risk of seeing updates on my cell phone when I pick it up to run my meditation app, so I don’t get any interruption.

I’d like to add workout to my morning ritual, but I haven’t found a way to make that work with my current constraints. Anyway, as it is now, my morning ritual is helping me get ready for the day and get a sense of being productive since early in the morning.

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2016: Annual Review

As I did last year, here goes my 2016 Annual Review!

1. What went well in 2016?

Meditation: I’ve blogged about this last year. In summary, mindful meditation has been working well for me. It has helped me a lot through situations where I’d handle badly in the past.

Professional blog: I wanted to make this blog you’re reading more active (write more posts), and I’ve succeeded on it. In 2015 I had only posted twice, whereas in 2016 I posted 23 times.

Personal project related to my experiences living in the US: This was one of the things that didn’t go well in 2015. It almost slipped through the cracks again in 2016, but I finally got the ball rolling, and the Brazuca nos Uessei channel on YouTube was finally born! The first video came out late last year, but I’ve been posting new videos frequently ever since. I already have many videos recorded and am working on editing them.

Stop thinking about it and just do it: on my last year’s review I said I was working toward “less ideas, more action”. It’s very fulfilling following that approach and seeing a new project going from idea to production within 4 months. Even more so when the clients are still so happy almost a year later.

Back to doing presentations: I had been missing going out to speak at conferences, meeting old buddies, networking. It was great speaking again at Houston Tech Fest 2016. Even though I felt rusty and off-paced, I needed the action to get the ball rolling in this area.

Joining Improving: This was something that was bound to happen, and for me it was one of the highlights of last year.

Best for last… Relocating to the USA!: my yearly review last year mentioned a “Personal/Professional secret project” that didn’t go so well. This was it; my relocation back to the US. As I mentioned back then, I had done everything I could do, but the holdup wasn’t on my end. I’ve even set a Plan B in motion, and shortly after I did that, Plan A actually came through. Long story short, I’m permanently back to the USA.

2. What didn’t go so well?

Project I had to drop: early last year I was working on a side project that I though had potential (I still do). However, a good friend who was working with me on it faced personal problems and couldn’t continue, while I had so much going on with my relocation to the US that I just had to put that one project aside. I’m fine with it, though, because I did learn things while I worked on it, and maybe one day I can go back to it.

3. What am I working toward?

Playing catch up professionaly: in the last 5 years or so I’ve been focused on delivering the projects I was working on, and didn’t spend much time on keeping up with what was going on out there, as far as technologies are concerned. That was great, don’t get me wrong; delivering working software AND seeing the businesses grow on top of it, for me, is WAY more fulfilling then staying up to date with bleeding-edge technologies that may just die within a version or two. That said, I do want to spend more time this year revisiting some things I should know more, while learning new things that have been proven solid options.

Serious Hobbies: I have a couple of hobbies that I take seriously, and I’m making sure I put time and effort into them this year.

Continous Improvement: I am making an effort to improve both both as a person as well as a professional on a daily basis. Some days are harder than the others, but I’m surrounding myself with an environment that keeps me on track.

Conclusion

The year of 2016 was great. Obviously, there were ups and downs. However, for years I’ve been keeping a lot of things I’m grateful for, and my 2016 list looks great and inspires me to an even better year.

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My brain does work better later in the day after all

I’ve been playing Lumosity’s brain games daily for several months now. I’ve read about people swearing by it, so I decided to try it myself.

For many months, my morning routine included meditation, and then the brain games. I thought that’d be when my brain would perform at its best: early in the morning, before reading emails or anything like that, and right after meditating. Well, I was wrong.

There was one week where I had time to meditate in the morning, but didn’t have time for the brain games, so I was doing them later in the day, around 9pm or so. I thought my scores that week would drop noticibly, given I was very busy working all day and would be tired in the evening. That’s not what happened: all my scores went up that week, despite the fact that I was feeling very tired!

I then decided to change my brain games time to my evenings, and my scores have been consistently better than when I was doing it early in the morning.

I’ve been experimenting with finding the best time of the day for me to perform certain tasks. I’ve always had this feeling that my brain works much better from mid afternoon into the evening, so it seems these brain games are confirming that.

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