William Cowper was right when he said that variety is the spice that gives life all of its flavor. The ‘experiment’ element of this pledge has pushed me to do several things that I would not normally have done, and I am better for it. Here are the experiments I've undertaken so far, and a list of things I hope to do with the remainder of the year.
Tough Mudder – This 12 mile obstacle course was a complete blast. I did with my sister Kate, and have plans to participate again at the Vancouver and New Jersey events in 2013 – this time with much larger groups. It was definitely difficult, but as long as you've prepared with some running and upper body workouts, I think most anyone could finish. Tough Mudder is great because it is not a race. It is a group competition where half the fun is helping your fellow Mudders get through obstacles. There is a ubiquitous sense of camaraderie throughout the event. I highly recommend giving it a try. Here is a before and after shot of me and my sister:
Bespoke Suit – I wear a lot of suits for work, so I thought this would be something fun to try. It ends up being more expensive than an off the rack suit, but not by much. Its more than worth it for the superior fit and the fun process.
Acupuncture – I am just beginning to understand the methods and philosophy of Chinese medicine. The sensation of the needles and the resulting feeling of deep relaxation were great, but my session with David Baron was really enjoyable more because of the conversation we had about well-being, which lasted more than an hour. If I understood David correctly, this one year pledge (which I described to him as experiments in well being) was similar to the goal of Chinese medicine, which is to tailor solutions to each individual to achieve the highest possible level of health and well being – both physically and spiritually.
David was one of the most infectiously kind and calm people I've meet in a long time, and I highly recommend his services. One of the most interesting things he said was that his goal with clients was to have them NOT come back for repeat visits – because that would mean he had done his duty and helped cure their problems. Not the best business model perhaps, but an admirable goal for a healer.
Yoga – Yoga’s most basic purpose is to prepare oneself for meditation, so it ties in nicely with my final experiment. I think everyone should give it a try, I've loved it so far.
Meditation – This one is the most important to me and by far the most difficult. I've been meditating at least 15 minutes a day for about a month now, and feel as though I have made no progress. The difficulty of training the mind has been compared to wearing down a mountain by rubbing it with silk. That may be understating things. I can still hardly get to 15 minutes without my mind going absolutely bonkers. One small distraction will sneak its way in to my mind and quickly lead to 50 other thoughts and distractions. Catching these problem thoughts early is a true challenge that may take me years to master. I sure hope I have the fortitude to stick with this practice. Even though I am clearly a novice and have failed to sufficiently focus my attention, I do come out of each session extremely calm and aware of my shortcomings. It has helped me control my temper and view personal conflicts – both small and large – in a new light. I am really looking forward to the three day meditation retreat I will take in early April in Woodstock, NY. That will be a true test of focus and mindfulness.
Finally here are some ideas for future experiments:
Fast (probably 2 days)
Sensory deprivation tank
Interview someone interesting
Visit a planetarium