Loneliness - A Modern Epidemic

As many of you know, I'm loathe to use the term self-care. Many of the world's religions and spiritual traditions consider cherishing or clinging to the self as the fundamental source of suffering. Why would we take care of the thing that's the root cause of what makes us miserable? That being said, I acknowledge that burning the candle on both ends is ultimately depleting, and depletion hampers your capacity to fully participate in life.

This past week I delivered a presentation on self-care to rural mental health providers. I arrived armed with my usual array of slides, charts and factoids, all in the interest of delivering an argument for what I consider to be the basics of self-care; sleep, cardiovascular exercise and meditation. While I do not feel that this list is exhaustive, I generally focus on these three as the first-order foci in developing a sustainable self-care regimen.

The first two hours of the presentation included several double-takes at my watch. I cou…

Ready? Ready.

At the University of Wisconsin - Madison, the new semester begins in a few days. While I inevitably greet the start of a new semester with a refrain along the lines of I can't believe how fast that break passed by, I have some interesting projects afoot in 2020 that I'm excited to embrace.

The project that will occupy most of my attention, and admittedly should occupy even more of my time each week, will be my dissertation. Having completed the MS last Fall, it's now time for me to set the wheels into motion on the Ph.D. I have a very promising topic, one some colleagues have referred to as potentially high-impact science, and this coming semester I will analyze a subset of the data to verify that my idea is do-able.

I will also be working on submitting an article or two for publication. The first order of business in this CV-building initiative is transforming my MS thesis into publishable form. The format for my first-choice journal has a maximum length of 2,000 words. …

Movement and Meditation

In my experience, meditation and working-out are wonderfully complementary. The past week I've been on retreat in Crestone, Colorado, and doing a deeper dive into the relationship of meditation, running and calisthenics.

For years I referred to my Yoga practice as moving meditation, and I think that there was some truth to that labelling. I moved mindfully, and I found that sinking into the end-range of my joints opened the door to some sense of the vastness of mind. Unfortunately, I also found that these moments were transient, and I clung to those mindstates with the tenacity of a predator sinking their claws into their prey.
Around the same time that I organically started moving away from Yoga, I met the meditation master, Mingyur Rinpoche. With the guidance of Rinpoche and his senior instructors, I learned that the mindstates that I'd abused my body to attain were there all along, recognizable at any time and at any place.

As the past decade unfolded, I've explored ho…

Reflections on Travels.

The other day a number of ten-years-on photos showed up in friends' Facebook feeds. Nostalgia-driven endeavors often draw me in, and I searched my 2009 photo albums for a suitable photo of my cat, Buddy.

In scrolling through archived photos, I was struck by the number of photos from my travels in India and Nepal. I've been fortunate to have spent a good deal of time in South Asia, and I have many rich memories of the people, places and traditions I encountered in these travels. These encounters enriched my life in many ways, both expected and unexpected.
My first trips to India were ostensibly to explore the roots of Yoga. At the behest of my friend Nagindas Sanghavi, I embarked on a pilgrimage to meet Sri Morari Bapu. After a whirlwind flight, 30-hour trans-India train trip and an introduction to the ubiquitous autorickshaws, I made it to my inaugural Ram Katha in Kolkata, India. Meeting Bapu proved propitious, as he let me in on an open secret; the Yoga postures I diligentl…

A Master's degree... in science!

Last month I completed the requirements for an MS in Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. In my quest for a Ph.D., this was a significant step, and I'm super-pleased to have made it this far. It takes a village to raise a child, and the same holds true in pursuing an advanced degree, particularly when it comes to birthing a thesis!

In the University of Wisconsin - Madison Kinesiology Department, there are two tracks for the MS degree. The non-thesis track, as the name implies, does not require writing a thesis, and is based on completing a body of coursework. The thesis-track MS, on the other hand, requires most of the same coursework, along with the submission of a thesis. Pursuing a Ph.D. requires the MS-thesis, so I matriculated in the thesis-track program in the Fall of my 50th year.
After fits, starts and a pretty bumpy return to academia, I finally gained traction in my second year of graduate school. With a perfectly imperfect data-set in-hand, I wrestle…

Marathon and No-Self Care

Through running, I've had the chance to directly experience the teachings of my beloved teachers on the wooded trails of Blue Mound State Park. There have been moments of vividly recognizing mind, periods of boredom, flashes of inspiration and ample opportunity to use body sensations as the object of meditation. Meditation and running have become inseparable.

A couple of weeks ago I completed my first marathon, and in the process I completed my longest-ever running-meditation session. As in my shorter long runs (15 - 20 miles), calm abiding and clear seeing were interspersed with periods of boredom and distraction. In addition to experiencing the standard-usual during the marathon, I also experienced protracted periods of ego-clinging. While ego-clinging may sound like a hindrance to recognizing my true nature, it was an eye-opening opportunity to pull back the proverbial curtain on a fundamental source of suffering.

As I meandered through the Kickapoo Valley Preserve in the Drif…

Longer Runs

Since shuttering Mound Street Yoga Center, I've enjoyed stretches of time that I haven't experienced in decades. For example, I now have Saturday mornings wide open in my calendar. While I deeply miss the community that came together most Saturday mornings for Yoga, I am thrilled to have this new-found time in my schedule.

As nature is said to abhor a vacuum, the grad-student life almost inevitably engulfs any unscheduled time. To help prevent calendar-encroaching, I protected my Saturday mornings by plugging in long runs.

At first the long runs were about ten miles in length. Thanks to the aerobic base that I've been building since 2014, these long runs are now more commonly fifteen to twenty miles long. This distance-creep is not accidental - I'm training for my first marathon!

Later this month, I plan to run the Driftless 50 trail marathon. This debut performance will most likely not be the prettiest showing, as this trail marathon (and many others) seems to go up …