One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 7

Today is Sunday and the last day of my spiritual retreat. I woke up and you guessed it – meditated and did my astral work. I then read another chapter out of the meditation and astral books. Jenn and I walked Charlie around the subdivision and I did walking meditation. You focus on the bottom of your feet instead of your breath. I did chores around the house in the morning and then mediated for another hour in the afternoon.

All in all, this “spiritual retreat” challenge was productive but not Earth shattering. And I’m fine with that because I know growth happens slowly, overtime. The more I talk to people about their lives, the more I see how confused people are on how to improve themselves or to get what they want in life.

The biggest thing I see is that people underestimate how much work it takes. It’s not usually hard work, but it’s work that you have to do every day. I hear it over and over. Someone will go to the gym a couple times and then stop. Someone will start jogging and then stop. Someone will focus on improving their finances and then stop. Someone talks up a new hobby and then drops it a week later. And that’s all OK. Starting and stopping things is a part of learning and evolving (God knows I’ve done it a lot!) But so is giving it your all for a long time and seeing where that gets you. And I rarely (never?) hear anyone do that.

Do they know how amazed they’d be at the progress and results if they jogged or worked out every other day for thirty days no matter what? No matter if they didn’t “feel like it”, “didn’t have the time” or any other excuses? Do they know how wonderful they would feel if they were laser focused on improving their finances for thirty days no matter what? No matter if they wanted to buy that expensive thing (that they probably don’t need anyway!). How far they’d get with their new hobby if they practiced for an hour every day?

All that is stopping most people from absolutely transforming their lives is to give their goals their all for thirty days. Most things take that long to see progress and results. Most people give up too soon because they don’t see results and get discouraged. Give things enough time and you’ll see progress you want and if you don’t, then stop the activity and know that at least you know you truly gave it your all and it just didn’t work out or just isn’t for you.

Give your goal thirty days. Get fired up! Get psyched! Get mad! Go crazy! Make people think you’ve flipped your lid! Be the weird one! Put signs up around your house saying “don’t quit!” and “Thirty days or die!” Smack yourself in the face while looking in the mirror, saying “You got this!” Push yourself so hard when working out, you puke. Push yourself so hard jogging you almost pass out. This is level of determination you need. I’m not being dramatic or exaggerating. Have you ever given anything your all for thirty days?

This concept of giving it your all for a sustained period of time structures my entire life. I embrace and trust the process so much because it’s proven it’s worth to me. Some examples, I:

  • have projects at work that are assigned to me at work at the beginning of the month that I need to get done by the end of that month. At the beginning of the month, I’m sitting on a big pile of work but I know every day I’ll chip away at them and they slowly but surely get done throughout the month. It’s a wonderful feeling.
  • work out three days a week, no matter what, because I know in the long-term it will help me stay healthy and strong as I get older.
  • stretch daily, starting when I rise, because I know staying limber is important, especially as I get older.
  • am laser focused on managing my family’s personal finances and we’re on track to reach our short- and long-term goals: nearly debt free, on target to pay cash for our kids’ cars and colleges, and on target to be vested for retirement so that we’ll live off of the proceeds and the initial nest egg will never die, leaving it to our children when we pass, setting them and our future generations up for a great financial situation. This has taken nearly two decades of work and patience to see to fruition.
  • mediate daily. Amazing for my mental, emotional and spiritual health.
  • lean into socializing daily. I’m naturally a quiet person but force myself to open up. Making that human connection is important to mental health and I hope I am a positive influence to others.

All of this takes daily work but it becomes simply who you are once you do it enough. And there really aren’t any downsides. “Man, you’re a bore, where’s the fun!” really isn’t a thing. You get to do whatever you want really when you learn to control what you can and forget about the rest!

Hell, even writing a blog post every day to document this “retreat” has been work. And I’ve found that I hate writing daily! But… I did it. I can’t stress how important that is. For anyone looking to improve themselves or reach a goal, but don’t know where to start. Literally, just start. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing yet (that’s the point – learn as you go), just start and don’t stop – give it at least thirty days! I’m not saying you’ll reach every goal in thirty days but you’ll have so much progress after thirty days that that will spur you on to continue and you’ll eventually reach your goal. You can do it!

Day 7, and the retreat, is finished.

One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 6

Today is Saturday and I woke up feeling anxious. It’s the feeling I get when I know I’m going to accomplish something soon. I also felt the deep, quiet peaceful feeling I usually feel around the house. The house gets very quiet and a heavy, thick, reverent feeling drops over it. It’s extremely peaceful.

I woke up, did mediation and astral work and then did mundane things around the house in the morning – laundry, walked the dog, cut the grass, ate breakfast with the family. It was early afternoon once all of that was out of the way.

Then the anxious feeling hit me again and something told me it was time to mediate again. It felt so right. I told Jenn I was heading to the guest bedroom to mediate and if she and the boys needed anything from me beforehand.

I retired to the bedroom and ended up mediating and doing astral work for around two and a half hours. It was a long but good session. I didn’t fall asleep and had many productive mini-sessions.

Only one unusual thing happened of note. I closed the door and blinds before starting to give me privacy and to keep the room dim. When setting my alarm between sessions, I noticed Charlie was laying near the wall of the room. I thought it was odd because I was sure I closed the door all the way and so he wouldn’t have been able to get into the room. I disregarded that and looked at him lovingly because he was laying there nice and calm. I looked closer and he looked different. Maybe his fur looked darker or maybe he even looked sickly or disfigured. I looked closer in the darkness and… it was a blanket. It wasn’t Charlie at all! It was amazing that my mind could make up that the dark brown blanket was actually Charlie and I truly believed that it was him for a good 5-10 seconds. ‘He’ did look odd/sickly to me while my brain was trying to figure out what I was seeing. It’s like it was powering the illusion while trying to see through it at the same time. It shows the power of the mind and that we can make up whatever we want if we focus.

Once I got up, the anxious feeling I felt when I first got up subsided. The rest of the day was spent with the family.

Day 6 is done and done.

One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 5

I did more meditation and astral work in the morning and had a peaceful day at work. It was a family night in the evening. Spent most of it with our twin boys – watching a movie together and just hung out. It was wonderful. I meditated before going to bed and then had a good night sleep.

I was in a pensive mood in the evening. I was thinking back to how I was when I was younger. In my late teens and early twenties, I was still living in my hometown of Pittsburgh. I was angry. I was scared. I was directionless. I was broke. I couldn’t get my head on straight. I saw my friends going out into the world to start their journeys but I couldn’t jump-start my life no matter what I tried.

Looking back now, I could easily have seen my life continue that way. Me growing older, being lonely, bitter and angry and my life being rudderless. But then, it happened. It was the first time I felt the gut feeling that I’ve learned to listen to and cherish ever since. It has never let me down.

The gut feeling told me to attend the technical school that was just opening five minutes away from my house. I didn’t understand because I felt like I had learned the computer skills on my own from a young age and that I didn’t need to go to school to learn them. I applied and started classes.

The next twenty four months is a blur. It’s as if I had unknowingly jumped into a spiritual stream full of opportunity and grace. I was rewarded handsomely for listening to my gut. I did have the computer skills and they were recognized while being honed. The school hired me as a teacher’s assistant. I was also hired in the school’s IT department. My anger melted away, I gained confidence and I became focused.

Although all of this wonderful stuff was happening, I yearned for a girlfriend. I thought about meeting a special someone a lot. I wrote poetry wishing to meet someone. I remember this one poem that I wrote. It was a cry to the universe on wanting to meet that special someone. I unknowingly learned how to visualize and manifest what I want because less than a day later, I met my wife and soulmate at a party.

When we first locked eyes at that party, I saw a vision in my mind’s eye of us getting married in a big, beautiful Catholic church and imprinted onto that, an image of two toddlers in cloth diapers. We eventually married in a church just like in my vision and had twin boys shortly after. I met a couple business men shortly after meeting Jenn who were starting a company. They hired me on and I became the first employee hired at a Medicaid HMO. They tasked me and trusted me to build the IT staff and infrastructure. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I grabbed it by the balls and excelled at it.

Jenn is from Erie and her and I traveled back and forth from Pittsburgh and Erie for the first year of our relationship. Then my employer announced that they were moving headquarters from Pittsburgh to Erie. I moved up to Erie for the career and Jenn. It was perfect.

Like I said, those two years were an absolute blur and were awesome, crazy, wonderful, exhilarating. I truly believe I entered what is called a spiritual stargate, which is that “spiritual stream” I mentioned that makes everything just fall into place gracefully and have many opportunities present themselves in rapid fashion.

I don’t know why I first felt that gut feeling. I don’t know if I caused it or if it was gifted to it. I don’t know what else to call it so I call it ‘spiritual’. Maybe it’s not even a real thing and I just got lucky. Maybe I’ll never know for sure. I figure I might finally find out once I die and go back to the Astral, if that’s how things even work. Who knows.

A part of getting ‘gut feelings’ is feeling nudged to do challenges like this ‘spiritual retreat’. I listen to my gut and do them. All I know is that after all of these years, good things happen to me and my family if I follow my ‘gut feelings’ and we get what we want and need if I perform my visualization and manifestation techniques.

More importantly than that though, is the continued inner growth I’m experiencing. I’ve come along way from being that angry, scared, directionless kid and I have nothing but reverence and awe for the whole path that has unfolded for me and my family.

One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 4

Today was a day of rest. I meditated and did my astral work this morning and had another centered day at work. After work, I finished the website I’ve been working on (jasonhowe.net). But afterwards, I pretty much crashed. I tried doing a meditation session but fell sleep. And that was wrap on the day.

For anyone reading this weekly ‘retreat’, it would be easy to think ‘so, he’s just reading and meditating more and cutting out some time wasters? What’s the big deal?’ And they’d be… right! Rarely is self-improvement dramatic or its impact felt immediately. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is dramatic and immediate.

Like the time I stopped drinking soda cold turkey December 28, 2016. I went from having aching bones and being overweight to losing fifteen pounds and my second neck in a very short time. Or the time I went from feeling horrible and wondering if I could live my life that physically ill every day to feeling absolutely amazing overnight when I figured out that I had developed a gluten sensitivity and cut it out of my diet.

But usually, the progress is slow and steady. For example, I’ve worked out three days a week for 165 days now, with only missing two days (due to a bad cold). It’s been wonderful seeing myself getting stronger over weeks and months. But any single workout session hasn’t been anything to get excited and write home about. Slow and steady. Or the time I finished the basement with my own two hands. It was from an unfinished dank basement to our favorite room in the house. It took me eight months of working on it every day. Slow and steady. Or the time I became my subdivision’s HOA president and led a push to get the HOA legally functional after years of it being stalled. That took me a month to manifest myself to become the president and then another couple of months to work with nearly a hundred households to get the necessary work done. Slow and steady.

What’s the commonality between all of these examples? You need to simply put in the work, no matter how long it takes to get it done. Most people don’t have enough motivation and determination to start or stick with something. They might work out once (and of course post it to social media to get the adulation!) but then get lazy or lose interest and they just don’t stick with it once the excitement wears off. It may stem from not realizing what the process of accomplishment or growth is like.

It’s not just meditating once and then losing interest. It’s meditating every day. It’s not just reading one chapter out of a self-help book. It’s reading a chapter a day and then also applying what it teaches. It’s not just working out once, it’s working out every time you’re scheduled, no matter if you “have the time” or”feel like it”. When it comes down to it – you just need to put the work in.

Day 4 – done.

One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 3

I did a good but short meditation and astral projection session when I awoke this morning. I wasn’t feeling it but did it anyway, which is the important thing. I read another chapter of the astral projection book.

It was another good day at work. Calm, centered, peaceful yet focused, determined and productive. The sadness and quiet from the previous two days left and I became much more social again. I’ve always been into discussing the deeper aspects of life with people. I always felt I was bold with striking up conversations with people about them but was still pretty conservative in my approach. I’ve been bolder lately and it’s been wonderful. There’s nothing I get more joy from than watching someone’s entire being light up when they feel safe and comfortable enough to open up and share their trials and tribulations. Their dreams and fears. Their hopes and regrets. That’s where real life happens. That’s when people we just might know as two-dimensional family members, friends, neighbors or co-workers come alive and become true three-dimensional human beings. It’s wonderful.

After work, I completely got sucked into continuing to work on that new website from yesterday. I spent pretty much all evening. I hammered at it for hours. It’s very satisfying to go from not knowing how to do something and going ten rounds with it and finally figuring it out. It’s almost done and I’ll probably have it ready to launch tomorrow and then I can get back to focusing on my spiritual practices more.

I feel like my spiritual practices, talking to people about deeper things and me working on my projects like the website I’m working on now is all related but I’m not quite sure how – it’s quite confusing and ethereal to me. I don’t think if it’s as straight forward as my spiritual practices make me calmer, which allows me to be more social, and driven to focus on my hobbies. It’s more like practices/social/hobbies feed into each other like a positive feedback loop. I’ve learned long ago to not over-analyze the process but to trust it, even when it gets tough or weird because it’s eventually satisfying and rewarding.

I did another good but short meditation and astral session before bed.

Day 3 is in the books.

One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 2

I did meditation and astral practice this morning upon waking. Then an idea came to me. I should have a website where I can put information that I use regularly for my job. It would be a handy way to store and access that info. I started obsessing over it. I decided it’s do-able and worthwhile so I started planning it out in my mind while at work and started building it once I got home.

I’m not surprised that an idea like this struck me while I’m focusing on this spiritual retreat. I have to be careful because I’m not sure why my mind came up with the idea and it could help or hurt my retreat. I figure a couple things could be going on. Maybe a part of my mind came up with it to help pacify me while I’m doing this retreat since I’m not doing the usual things that bring me comfort. If that’s the case, is it fine and I can do it and my spiritual practices or is it taking time away from them and I should wait to work on the site until my retreat is over?

Or, maybe building the the site is part of my challenge and growth for this week. I commonly do that. I’ll connect a mundane project like building a website with something loftier like this retreat. As I make progress in the mundane project I also recognize that I’m also making progress in the loftier goal. It’s also a nice way to remember back what I was doing when I did the retreat. For example, I remember working through the video game Bloodborne when I first discovered I’m gluten sensitive. I fondly remember progressing through the game while also cutting out gluten and feeling better and better over those couple months.

Either way, I’m going to continue working on the site this week. I get very addicted to things and will attack a new project like that until it’s done. It feels great and rewarding to do. I feel like I’ve given birth and have had a great weight lifted from my shoulders once it’s done. I fully understand the irony that I’ve given up addictions this week but happily am starting a new one with building the website now! But the idea came to me with the certain sensation I get that tells me it’s the right thing to do. That gut feeling overrules everything and it has never failed me.

Anyway, those are the types of things I think about as I go through my days.

I mediated and did astral projection practice before bed. Nothing special to report but yet it’s one more session of making slow and steady progress.

One Week Spiritual Retreat – Day 1

Instead of grabbing my phone when I awoke to check the news, I started my spiritual practices.

I started with “The Mind Illuminated”. For those unfamilair, this is where you focus on the physical sensation of your breath at the tip of your nose as you inhale and exhale as you count your breaths from one to ten and then start over at one. It sounds simple because it is, but it’s not easy.

The point is to train all the different sub-components of your mind to focus on one thing – your breath – which ultimately leads you to be centered, calm, joyful but the ultimate benefits are self-realization and enlightenment. I highly recommend the book and practice to all.

I started a timer for one minute. It was difficult and I experienced dullness and my mind wandered. I did it for another minute. And another minute. And then another and another. I ended up doing around ten one-minute sessions and by the end of it there was nearly no wandering or dullness. I then did it for 2 minutes. 3 minutes. Then 5 minutes. Then 10 minutes. By the end of 10 minutes I had no dullness or wandering and I was much better at defending and recovering from it. I’d say I was at Stage 3 most of the session.

I moved onto doing the practices I’m learning in the astral projection book. Nothing significant happened there. It was just another training session which is fine. I experienced the usual symptoms I have – a spinning sensation and seeing odd shapes in my mind’s eye.

I was mindful at work. I performed walking meditation all day.

Once I got home, I tended to the family and dog and then sat in the living room to do my spiritual practices again.

I started with something new for me. I let my mind think about what it wanted to instead of trying to be mindful. It went wild. Instead of my mind just jumping around to random mundane thoughts which I thought would happen, I had intense, creative, scary, dangerous thoughts. It was exhilarating. I let my mind wander for ten minutes. I think I’ll do that at the beginning of every session to let my mind get out whatever it’s thinking about before I start mindfulness.

After that, I did more “The Mind Illuminated” and astral projection practice. Nothing to note about either except for one thing on projecting.

When I set my timer on my phone, and then close my eyes, I can see the blackened rectangular outline of the phone. This works for anything. Look at anything for a little while and then close your eyes and you’ll see its shape in your mind’s eye until it fades after a couple seconds.

I thought it’d be a good visualization exercise if I would try to hold the rectangular outline in my mind’s eye and try to not let it fade. I tried making the rectangular outline sharper in my mind’s eye and then something happened. Everything in the outline dissappeared and a street view appeared in full, crisp color and detail. I usually don’t see in color or detail in my mind. My visualization is more based on feelings so I don’t actually “see” much in my mind’s eye so, boy, this was this different. I could see the street, a couple parked cars, and a lamp post framing the scene. It lasted a couple seconds and just as I was focusing on it in wonderment, it dissappeared. Pretty wild.

Overall, it was a great day. I was centered and calm but it was overshadowed by a deep sadness. I say “deep sadness” instead of “I was sad” because I don’t identify with the emotion, I just let it come and I sit with it. I’ve learned that I don’t have to analyze or fix most emotions because they simply come and go day-by-day.

The sadness was at its worse when I got out of work. That’s when I usually call my dad but I’m not talking with him all week during this spiritual retreat. It really hit me how much he means to me and how much it’ll hurt when he’s no longer with us.

I did more practice right before bed. Nothing out of the ordinary to report there. Just more practice which is great.

Day 1 is done.

One Week Spiritual Retreat

The idea came to me to do a one week spiritual retreat. I’ll cut out things I’m addicted to and focus on making progress with my spiritual pursuits.

Here are the rules I came up with.

It will be from Monday, April 29 to Sunday, May 5.

During that time, I won’t do the following, which are things I’m addicted to and/or love doing:

  • No watching YouTube,
  • No checking news websites,
  • No checking social media – Facebook and Linkedin,
  • No speaking to my dad (we usually speak daily, sometimes multiple times),
  • No checking Bitcoin/cryptocurrency balances/news,
  • No checking investments/balances,
  • No video games.

In their place, I’ll ramp up my spiritual pursuits:

  • Continue to read “The Mind Illuminated” and practice the meditation techniques it teaches,
  • Continue to read “Leaving the Body” and practice the astral projection techniques it teaches,
  • Be mindful and in the present moment throughout the day – when driving, walking, sitting, eating – everywhere.

It’s good to challenge yourself. I’m constantly moved to challenge myself and grow. I’ve done the Whole30 diet cleanse twice, I’ve fasted 3-4 times and am starting to do it regularly, I went 100 days without missing a workout 3 days a week and still work out and have only missed 2 days and am going on 200 days.

But if someone was watching me do these challenges, it wouldn’t be very exciting and would be down right boring most of the time. It’s because most of the growth is occurring inside of me in my inner mental landscape and soul. And the growth rarely comes right away but after the hard work is put in. You usually don’t realize how far you’ve traveled until you look back at where you’ve come from.

With that said, I anticipate this week will be difficult but rewarding like most of my endeavors but that there won’t be any big breakthroughs but instead will be more slow and steady progress and growth which is great.

I texted my dad that I’m going to focus on some things for a week and will talk with him next Sunday.

I’ll document how things unfold day-by-day.

Welcome

If we’ve spoken, then I’ve sent you here for additional information about what we were talking about – health, mental well-being, spirituality or finance. I hope it helps.

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