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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Best of Meditation List

Meditation is all about mindfulness – about releasing all thoughts and coming into the present moment. I meditate everyday… some days, it’s a few moments, other days it’s for 15 to 30 minutes.

I increasingly enjoy my meditation and after over 3 years, I have collected a list of some of my favorite meditation. Oh yes, I bet you did not realize there is different types of meditation.

My Best of Meditation List

  1. Counting Breaths – This entails counting to 6 during the inhale and count to 12 for the exhale. You can experiment with the number that works best for you
  2. Mantras – This is a phrase that you repeat in coordination with the inhale and exhale. I like this meditation when I want to achieve a desired effect. For example, I am energetic or I am relaxed.
  3. White Light – I visualize breathing in white light and breathing out black smoke. The advanced version is too let the white light expand until you visualize yourself glowing and the field of white light expanding out. This meditation is one of my favorite because I finish feeling awesome. It is more difficult, because of the level of concentration it requires. Side Note: If you know someone sick or in need, I imagine the white light extending to them.
  4. Counting Steps – When you walk, you inhale as you count 5 steps then you exhale as you count 5 more steps. I find this one very effective.
  5. Body Relaxation- Starting at your feet, breathe in and tighten all of the muscles in your feet. Then, breathe out and relax every muscle in your feet. Repeat with every muscle group from your calves, thighs, etc. all the way to your head.

The most important part about meditation is allowing yourself at least a few moment per day. Believe me you are worth it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Super Size Me: Watching your Portion Size

Last night, I watched the movie, Super Size Me. Super Size Me is a documentary by American Filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock in which he eats only McDonald’s food for a whole month.

How disgusting! I cannot remember the last time that I ate fast food but it does bring up a great point about Americans views on portion size.

The fact of the matter is that we eat excessively much at every meal. If you look at the portion sizes at a typical restaurant, they are too big too.

For many years, I have maintained a healthful weight. I can’t say that I always eat the perfect diet but I do careful monitor my portion sizes.

Tricks to Reducing your Portion Size

    Drink water – Drinking a glass of water 15 minutes before you eat helps you feel sate quicker reducing the amount that you eat. Many people do not realize that over half their daily calories can come from drinks especially soda, energy drinks, and juices.
  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day – Instead of 3 large meals a day; plan 3 small meals and 2 to 3 healthful snacks.
  • Eat the right combination – every meal should consist of a protein and a complex carbohydrate portion. A protein portion is about the size of the palm of your hand and a carbohydrate portion is about the size of your fist or a deck of cards. 3 times a day, add a portion of vegetables.
  • Resist taking seconds – If you want to eat more, save it for later. It’s better to break that large lunch into 2 portions, one for now and one for an afternoon snack.
  • When eating out split the portion in half – Restaurants typically provide meals that are twice as big as required. I always cut the meal in half and take half home for later.
  • Plan your meals – Think in advance about the 5 to 6 meals a day. I focus on the healthful snacks because most people get into trouble by hitting the snack machines at work.

Well, there you have it. Some of the ways, I manage my portion sizes.

Does anybody have additional tricks? Please share them by commenting below

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sensei Fuel: The Elvis Sandwich

I found a new recipe the combines two things I love – Bananas and Peanut Butter. It’s call an Elvis Sandwich. It’s cooked like a grill cheese but made with banana and peanut butter. Ester told me that it was a favorite of Elvis hence the name.

I was a little skeptical at first but found it to be delicious. I make it the healthful way with natural peanut butter, whole-wheat bread, and olive oil instead of butter.

The Elvis Sandwich

2 slices Whole Wheat Bread
1 Banana
Natural Peanut Butter
Olive Oil

Spread a layer of Natural Peanut Butter a slice of Whole Wheat Bread. Peel and cut the banana and place on the Natural Peanut Butter. Close the sandwich with the other slice of Whole Wheat Bread. Spread Olive Oil on the outside of both sides of the sandwich. Grill in pan until lightly brown on both sides.

Voila! You’re done.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Blog Links: What am I reading today?

It’s sunny out today and it’s my birthday so I am taking some time out to catch up on some reading. Here's a list of some stuff that I am reading today.

Well, there you have it. This is what I am reading today.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Big Thank You to My Readers

I was reviewing some site statistics today and noticed that my site reached a landmark of 500 unique visitors in the last month.

Thank you for reading! This number has exceeded all of my expectations.

I originally started this blog as a place for me to fulfill my Ultimate Black Belt Test requirements of profiling 10 Living Heroes. I wanted to display them publicly so I created this blog. I posted the blog on May 1, 2007. Click here to read it.

The blog lay dormant until July 13, 2007 when I decided to post some of my best UBBT blog posts.

As my school grows, I continue to receive questions about teaching and philosophy. In September, I decided to place articles answering these questions – sort of a FAQ’s.

Suddenly, I realized that my readership was expanding beyond my karate school. Currently, this site receives over 500 unique visitors and double-digit number of subscribers (to subscribe go here).

Because of you, I am expanding the scope of this blog to post more often. I am considering changing the web address in the near future to the Sensei Talks theme instead of the I hope the change will have a minimum impact on the readers.

Thanks again everyone!

Sensei Fuel – Old Fashion Whole-Wheat Pancakes

Living a healthy lifestyle is a very important value for me so I wanted to share with my readers what I eat to fuel my body.

Ester and I love cooking because in my mind, it represents taking your health into your own hands. It’s like the old saying “you are, what you eat.”

Also, I read Tim Ferris blog,
Depression: How You Label Determines How You Feel where he sites a study by Alan Krueger and Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize, called “Would you be happier if you where richer?” . Read the paper, it’s fascinating work. They found that the best indicator of happiness is the number of times we eat with friends and family.

I honor of these two reasons. I am starting a new feature called Sensei Fuel, where I will share our favorite recipes for healthful eating. Don’t forget to share a meal with friends and family.

Sunday breakfast is a regular weekly event at our home. Sunday is one of the only mornings that we can sit down as a family and eat breakfast.

One of our favorites for Sunday Breakfast is Old Fashion Pancakes. We use Ms. Butterworth’s Sugar Free Syrup to reduce our sugar intake. Of course, everyone knows that I am a frugal person so we make them from scratch using The New Cook Book (Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbooks) recipe.

1 1/4 Cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup Milk
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients and mix with beater. Pour ¼ cup of batter on griddle lightly greased with Pam.

Makes 12 dollar size pancakes

I like the whole-wheat version in which I use ½ cup of whole-wheat flour and 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Color Codes of Awareness - More on the Art of Fighting with Without Fighting

Self-defense is choosing the appropriate response to the threat presented. We do not want to under-respond (too passive) or over-respond (too aggressive). The idea is to match the level of threat present.

How to you match the level of threat?

Military and law enforcement developed the Color Codes of Awareness as a guide to assess the level of threat in a situation and match the level of defensive action.

Color Codes of Awareness

Yellow Alert – Normal Conversation, Low-Level threat
Yellow alert is a normal level of awareness to everyday non-stressful situations. For example, talking to a co-worker or cashier at a store. You remain aware of your surroundings but the situation does not require you to be hyper-vigilant or paranoid.

Orange Alert – Moderately intense threat
Orange alert happens when we perceive the level of danger rising. You need to let your intuition guide you. If you feel that gut reaction that something is wrong, then it’s time for the orange alert. Subtle cues like hard eye contact, invaded your personal space, or intimating body language may trigger your gut feeling. Orange alert is the phase when we build the barrier in our self-defense stance and assertive state to back off/ leave me alone.

Red Alert – Very intense threat on verge of physical violence
Red alert signals that we are in clear and present danger. At this phase, the aggressor is on the verge of physical violence and the chances of de-escalating the situation are slim because they are no longer listening to reason. In red alert, we are in our self-defense stance and shouting to back off/ leave me alone.

Of course, every situation is unique and these colors do not describe an exact course of action necessary. But… they provide a visual guideline to determine the level of situation. As a defender, we want to match the level of intensity of our attacker. In addition, we want to respond assertively not aggressively therefore worsening the situation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Art of Fighting without Fighting

As a kid, I loved the Bruce Lee’s movie, Enter the Dragon. A great scene from the movie was the ferry ride to Mr. Han’s island when the bully, Parsons, challenges Bruce Lee to a fight.

When ask, “What is your style?” Bruce Lee responds “The art of fighting without fighting.”

“Show me some of it,” challenges Parsons. Bruce Lee accepts the challenge and lures him onto a lifeboat. He skillfully unties the lifeboat and leaves Parsons tethered behind to ferry.

Here’s a video of the scene.

Some parents asked, why do we teach our students to shout, “Back off, leave me alone” from a defensive position.

Well, basically, this is our version of the art of fighting without fighting. We want to ensure that our students use every option available before resorting to physical force to end a conflict. We base this practice on tons of research done to make the FAST Defense system. Let look further into statement to back off/ leave me alone.

Why say back off/ leave me alone?

The Interview – Yes, attackers interview victims like a boss interviews an applicant for a job. The attacker looks for the best victims. The interview ranges from asking simple questions like “what time is it?” to aggressive statements like “what are you looking at?” If you fail the interview, the predator knows it found a likely victim and continues the attack. This interview you want to fail.

Displays assertive communication – By communicating assertive, we are less likely to become a victim. The bully or predator will move onto an easier victim.

Let the attacker save face – This is very important. We need to leave the attacker a way to save face. In other words, if we are overly aggressive and challenge them to fight, the attacker must attack to support their fragile ego. Saying back off/ leave me alone assertively, let’s the attacker know that you don’t wish to fight by will if necessary.

Matching attacker level of intensity – Shouting back off/ leave me alone prepares you for the attack. If the perpetrator does attack, you want to match their level of intensity. Yelling back off/ leave me alone gets your adrenaline flowing so that you are ready if an attack does happen.

What will witness say – If you are cursing and yelling threats back, witnesses will say that BOTH of you were fighting. Believe me, after the fact, the attacker will say that you started it and make it sound like you attacked them. The police will ask witnesses what happen and charge you both. Don’t let this happen to you. If you are yelling back off/ leave me alone, the witness will say that you did not want to fight and the other guy attacked you.

Okay, so that’s a little about the art of fighting without fighting and why we say back off/ leave me alone. My next post we will dig deeper into this topic and talk about the color codes of awareness.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Destined to DO great things

When I was younger, I knew I was destined FOR great things. Yes, I was that arrogant and cocky back then. I still remember as a teenager my mother rolling her eyes as a told her if I am great, dad and her must be at least half-great. Man, I was a jerk.

I laugh about it now because this attitude did help me in many ways - it set a huge standard to live up too. For example, I knew that obtaining good grades was part of this destiny so I graduated college with the highest honors.

The negative part of this attitude was that many of my peers would have loved to see me fall on my face. When I stumbled, I had plenty of friends that reveled in the chance to rub it in.

Well now, I got older and my attitude changed. Instead of being destined FOR great things, I now believe that I am destined to DO great things. This change in philosophy reminds me of the great swordsman, Musashi, when he wrote in his journal “Regret nothing you do” then later, he crossed it out and replaced it with “Do nothing you will regret”.

The idea of being destined to do great things inspired me to start my school, Maximum Impact Karate. Doing great things means that my mission became something outside myself – helping students and our community. Our name Maximum Impact Karate reflects this mission because it means that we are looking to have the maximum impact on our students and community. Every time I talk about our mission, I get excited about it.

The last year, I devoted my time to maximize my program and building the character development elements. I know that I am heading in the right direction because of the overwhelming positive response from our student’s parents. I constantly hear positive testimonials about their personal transformations.

Hearing these testimonials fills me with so much joy.

Instead of teaching just kicks and punches, I teach about achieving goals, setting high standards, and getting more focused. This year, I wrote modules to teach Anger Management, Bully Defense, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The 10 Qualities of a Total Winner, etc. I am looking forward to presenting this new material over the next year to our students and know that it will have a profound effect on them.

2008 is looking like an amazing year!