I never posted my Cycle 3 plan, but I’ve made the draft of it publicly accessible. The main points from the last 108 plan were:
- Meditate for an hour a day inspired by The Secret of the Golden Flower
- Maintain “anchor routines”
- Memorize 3,000 Chinese characters
- Pen and paper journal
- Run/walk every day
I drifted so far away from my original plan that when November came around I decided to try my had at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to hit 50,000 words in a single month. I got sick halfway through the month and ended up quitting at 20,000 words.
For the last two weeks of the 108 I focused on pen and paper journaling to organize my thoughts.
Meditation Inspired by The Secret of the Golden Flower (SGF)
Meditating for an hour a day gradually shifted to studying Zen for an hour or more a day. What I liked about SGF is that it was a pretty no nonsense approach to meditation and the notes by Thomas Cleary in the back of the book made it even more straightforward. What really inspired me to make this the primary focus of my 108 was something he wrote in the “Translator’s Afterword: Modern Applications of the Golden Flower Method”. I’ll share it here:
The exercise of turning the light around is in fact so penetrating an avenue to insight and transcendence that it is tempting to consider applying its theory and practice to the search for direction in treatment of some of the more serious disorders currently being addressed by the psychiatric community, crippling conditions such as those now known as acute manic depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, and multiple personality disorder.Cleary, T. (1991). The secret of the golden flower: the classic Chinese book of life. New York: HarperOne.
The reason I shifted away from focusing on the meditation towards focusing on Zen is because the text regularly mentions Zen and I hadn’t ever really put in the word of understanding the history of Zen.
Memorize 3,000 Chinese Characters
The reason why I started studying Chinese again is to eventually attend school here in Taiwan (all in Chinese). I want to combine Taoist/Buddhist psychology and Western psychology into treatments for various mental health issues. While I didn’t hit the 3,000 characters, I did make it to 2,150. When I got into the 2,000s I could really feel the diminishing returns on learning new characters. The characters I was learning were getting more and more obscure. I’ll be switching my focus to studying the characters I run into via text books and maintaining the 2,000 characters I’ve studied so far.
I was going HARD when I started. I was doing several hours a day! It got whittled down to 0 hours a day when the sickness struck mid-November.
Anchor Routines, Running, and Walking
Anchor routines are things like making the bed, running/walking, or journaling. I was super consistent with running and walking until I got sick. As SOON as I recovered from being sick I had oral surgery which further prevented running. Once that was healed… I got sick again! I’ll be getting back on top of running/walking again when the next 108 starts.
Even though I stopped running/walking I’ve always maintained at least one anchor routine. I call them anchor routines because if you have one thing that you do daily it’s easier to add new things. Right now I’m pen and paper journaling every day as I wait for January 1st to roll through.
This last 108 was pretty awesome even though the original plans kind of went to shit. I haven’t even mentioned the most important thing that happened during this 108. It requires its own blog post, but I’ll mention it in brief here. It was a really simple epiphany about being able to give myself advice, like I give other people advice, only since I’m on the receiving end, I can’t make any excuses about not following it! I’ll have to explain that more later…
Something else big that happened is that I decided to take on the labels of skeptic and atheist.
November really shook things up. Three major events happened almost all at the same time. I tried to do NaNoWriMo, Death Stranding (a video game I had been waiting years for) was released, and I got sick. Those things totally threw me off the horse. I did implement the feature of the 108 system which allows you to break it into smaller pieces so I reimagined the last 36 days and that worked out well.
Oh! Another thing that happened this cycle, without me even trying to make it happen, was 3 other people joined me! My buddy Shane decided to join last minute and we both got our significant others to join.
I’m really excited about Cycle 4. This feels like the first cycle that will be properly planned. It’s also the first cycle that I opened up to people via YouTube and it looks like a few are going to join in.