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Week 1 – The Ordinary World


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Confucius

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe [1]

Hero Moments

Luke Skywalker living on his Uncle Owen’s farm at the start of Star Wars. Frodo preparing to celebrate his cousin Bilbo’s birthday in the Shire in The Fellowship of the Ring. Sarah Connor getting ready to go clubbing with her friends in the first Terminator movie. Rose Tyler working retail at the start of the new Doctor Who series.

Every Hero’s story has to start somewhere, and most of the time, it’s The Ordinary World. This is the everyday life that the Hero is living before the start of his or her Journey, and it is where you are now. Often the Hero is swept up in a series of circumstances that they have not chosen, but as you’ve decided to begin this Journey by way of this program, you have some control over where it will take you.

Preparation & Goal-setting

A number of self-help gurus have recounted the story of a 1953 study that followed the careers of a group of Yale (sometimes Harvard) graduates and determined that although only 3% of the group had written down their goals, this 3% ended up with more wealth then the other 97% combined. It turns out that there is no evidence that this study ever took place. It’s a great story, but for obvious reasons it’s not the best example for convincing people to write down their goals. Instead, I’d like to use a personal example.

I started writing my goals down in my first year of University when I was 19 years old. Some of the goals that I’ve written since then include:

  • Get into music school using a self-taught method
  • Form and manage a successful professional touring rock band
  • Reach the finals in an individual Ironman event
  • Get into the top MBA program in Canada
  • Graduate on the Dean’s List from the top MBA program in Canada
  • Start and successfully manage an independent technology consulting company
  • Write a Canadian techno-thriller novella
  • Produce and direct an independent sci-fi action short film feature
  • Become a successful lecturer and speaker
  • Travel through Europe and North and South America

I mention these goals because I accomplished each of them. I’m not done yet, either. I’ve found that by writing goals down, they are much more likely to happen. There are some that I haven’t accomplished yet, but I find the process of recording them on paper will result in either completing the goal or eliminating it as something I no longer want. At this point, my goals are simpler:

  1. Have great relationships with my family and friends
  2. Excellent personal fitness
  3. Inner calm
  4. Independent wealth
  5. Own a successful web-based business

I’ve also identified the values that my goals represent (instead of the other way around, a technique recommended by some goal-setting methodologies) and made sure those values are consistent with who I am and who I want to be:

  1. Love
  2. Health
  3. Peace
  4. Freedom
  5. Creativity

Check. That seems like a good list for me. Keep in mind that a value is a principle by which you want to live. Make sure they suit you.

Once I’ve determined that these goals represent who I am, I create specific milestones for each of them that will tell me when I’ve accomplished the goal. Then I create manageable actions that I can do on a regular basis (like this week) that will move me towards them. The artist Sark calls these micro-movements. These small steps provide you with immediate measures you can take to move towards your goal. For example:

4. Independent wealth

Details - $2,000,000 in assets, negligible debt

Specific actions - re-evaluate fund selection, increase bi-monthly savings contributions, build web-based business (see Goal 5.)

These details are enough to start acting immediately on this goal. Applying this process to each of my goals seems to be enough to keep my life going in the right direction. It helps if you have an overarching purpose, such as helping people, saving the environment, or overcoming a personal obstacle. My purpose in the past has been personal growth, and this is transforming into using what I’ve learned to help make people better.

Productivity & Time Management

After setting your goals, determining your values, and creating your weekly steps, this part is easy. You need to be organized enough to know what you need to get done in a day, and the solution to this problem is straightforward.

Once you’ve determined your weekly action steps, you need to put them in a calendar, look at that calendar every day, and complete the day’s activities before the day ends. If you don’t have time to complete all of the tasks, you reschedule the incomplete activities until they’re done (or no longer necessary).

There are a number of options for schedulers, including Day-timers, PDAs, and paper calendars (a free option if you have a computer and printer is PocketMod). A more detailed method for completing goals is outlined in Getting Things Done by David Allen, but this process does not need to be complicated. You just need to have do-able tasks (micromovements) that you organize in a time frame (calendar, PDA, etc.) There also has to be clear criteria that tell you when the task is finished. For example, ‘Ride exercise bike for 25 minutes’ instead of ‘Exercise.’

After you’ve scheduled your weekly actions that take you towards your goal, it helps to simplify. Eliminate time wasters and activities that are both counterproductive and disagreeable. This could be mindless TV watching, surfing the Internet for nonsense, or excessive video gaming. Next week you’ll look into simplifying your material world, but by clearing the clutter out of your schedule now, you’ll have time to work towards what you really want.

Most of all, keep the following mantra in mind:

Do it now.

Determine your goals, figure how you’ll reach them, and start working towards the life you want. Make conscious decisions now about how you spend your time and you’ll not only feel better about what you’re doing, you’ll be practicing making decisions, which is a vital skill for living the Hero’s Journey.

Core Practice: Meditation

Included with this program are 12 meditation audio tracks, one for each week of the course. They should be listened to once a day and will be the most powerful agent of positive change in this course. They will be helpful for a number of reasons:

  • If you listen to the entire meditation track, you do not need to time your meditation, wonder if you’re done, or anticipate an alarm. It will end in 20 minutes (30 minutes for week 8) and the audio will stop.
  • The sound of the ocean waves will cover the sound of your environment, helping you to relax and focus.
  • The sound of the waves also provides a relaxing ambient background.
  • It provides a framework for your meditation practice. You know what you’re doing and how long you’ll be doing it.
  • The binaural beats in the audio tracks will entrain your brainwaves and bring your mind into a state conducive to meditation and personal insights.
  • The audio tracks goes progressively deeper as the course progresses, starting with alpha waves (relaxation and focus), moving to theta waves (meditative states), and then to delta waves (deep meditation and relaxation).
  • Twenty minutes of internal practice will make a significant difference in your life.

How Binaural Beats Work

Whether stressed, focused, relaxed in meditation, or sleeping, your brainwaves (the electrical activity created by the neurons firing) have a frequency range that is associated with each of these states. For example:

  • Beta Waves (40 – 13 Hz) – associated with stress and busyness
  • Alpha Waves (13 – 7 Hz) – associated with focus and relaxation
  • Theta Waves (7 – 4 Hz) – associated with meditation and spiritual insight
  • Delta Waves (4 Hz and below) – associated with deep meditation and sleep

Binaural Beat theory asserts that two sounds of similar frequency played separately in each ear of a person will entrain (sync) the person’s brainwaves to the difference of the two frequencies, resulting in mental states corresponding to the ones listed above. For example, if a 500 Hz signal was played in the right ear and a 510 Hz signal was played in the left, the person’s brainwaves would sync to 10 Hz, an Alpha wave level that would promote relaxation. The audio tracks included in this program use this technology to help you reach meditative states which provide multiple benefits if practiced on a regular basis:

  • Improved health
  • Increased confidence
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Better mood control
  • Improved immune function
  • Enhanced self control
  • Improved concentration and focus
  • Better relationships

This program is the Hero’s Journey, not the Superhero’s Journey, but if there is anything that will increase the powers of an ordinary human, it is meditation. The audio tracks included with this course are an ideal way to create a mediation practice that will positively affect every part of your life.

How to Do It

Sit in a comfortable armchair with your arms on the armrests and your feet planted on the floor. You can also sit in a traditional Zen kneeling posture with your right hand in your left, but either sitting posture will work. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and ensure that you will not be disturbed for the duration of the audio track. Use stereo headphones with the right earphone in your right ear and the left earphone in your left ear (just to be sure we’re clear) and turn on the track. Make sure you listen at a low volume. Close your eyes, clear your head, and let your mind float freely. Just be. You can count your breaths to focus, counting on the exhale up to ten and then returning to one.

There is no way to do this wrong. If you fall asleep, sleep. If you fixate on something, fixate. It may be helpful to have a notepad nearby for a mind dump if required. The important thing is to make this a daily practice and stick to it. It may also help to do this in the same spot to develop your practice (if possible). Twenty minutes of daily internal practice will make a significant difference in your life. Try to complete seven days of an audio track before moving on. If you cannot complete seven days of consecutive listening, try to listen at least seven days in ten consecutive days before moving to the next week’s track.

At the end of the twelve weeks, continue by alternating Week 12A and 12B weekly. These tracks alternate the stable carrier tone between the right channel and the left channel in order to provide a balanced practice.

Caution: Do not use audio tracks while driving, biking, operating heavy machinery, or doing any task that requires sensory attention. It is also recommended that you do not use these tracks in public or anywhere that requires external environmental awareness.

No! Not the Mind Probe!

You may find this meditation difficult for a number of reasons. Boredom, irritation, anger, thoughts in your head that you don’t want to deal with, and a variety of other emotions may come into your mind. You may also find the first few weeks of meditation tracks to be somewhat discordant.

Keep in mind that this is not an easy process but it introduces you to yourself, a person you may be too busy to have met recently. It gives you an opportunity to slow down and allow your mind to catch up with itself, a process that can be difficult. Keep in mind that at the other side of this Journey is peace of mind, a calm disposition, and a comfortable relationship with yourself.

A good metaphor for this meditation training is weight-training. It may not always be enjoyable when you’re doing it, but the rewards come later with time and effort.

Week 1 Exercises and Resources

  1. Start your weekly meditations today. Once a day this week, listen to Week 1 - The Ordinary World. Continue meditating for the rest of this course and beyond.
  2. Get a time management tool (PDA, Day-Timer, etc.)
  3. Take a piece of paper and write down what you want out of life. What are your goals? What excites you? Think big. This list does not need to be long, but it should make you excited.
  4. Determine your values from your goals from Exercise 3. Do you identify with them? Is there a more direct path to living your values? Write down these direct path goals.
  5. Create a final goals list from the goals in Exercise 3 and 4. Four or five big goals are probably plenty. Break down each of these final goals into milestones and create activities from these milestones that you can schedule in your time management tool for the upcoming week.

Movies/TV

Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Terminator
Doctor Who: Season One (New Series)

Books

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Other Resources

Day-Timer
PocketMod


[1] Maybe. William Hutchinson Murray used this loosely translated “quote” from Goethe’s Faust in his book The Scottish Himalayan Expedition but it does not appear in the same form in Goethe’s original German Faust. Sometimes commonly-held truths are not truths at all.


Week 2

Contents


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