Spiritual Review and Progress

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Hello, people

I'm starting a journal to review and mark my spiritual progress. This is mostly for self reference. I find that if I review what I'm actually doing I take my spiritual practice more seriously. I've been doing this somewhat regularly in a journal but I want to become more accountable here and have more of a formal process. The idea I have is to do a formal review of my day taking note of my progress. This will include a review of my personal spiritual practice (meditation, prayer, spiritual reading) as well as how I do out there in life and my day (how well I interact with people, having an attitude of service, being grateful, feeling connected with God/the universe, etc.).

In addition to a daily review, from time to time I may go more in depth about topics or problems I'm facing. I see these as a more in depth journal session where I can dialogue with myself about the direction I want to take.

My daily review will have a pretty basic format of positives (+) and negatives (-). I'll basically note the things I did well and the areas I fell short and need to improve. A lot of this will include good habits that I'm (hopefully) doing... taking note of my meditation, good diet, exercise, good attitudes, good acts. It will also include bad habits that I want to change, like aimlessly wandering on the internet, not waking up on the first alarm, or getting angry at someone or a situation. The idea is that having to review daily helps me to take everything more seriously because I'm accountable and because I'm aware of how these impact my life. Additionally, I plan on doing a wholistic review and mini journal session where I look at how I did overall... did I move forward or backwards?

Perhaps, I will change the format as I go along. For now it is important to get started to build the good habit of reviewing. I really think self analysis is fundamentally important for spiritual growth and for changing habits. I really want to take this seriously. In the past I have, I've stuck with daily review and really saw the progress. Lately, I've been less adamant about taking a consistent and honest look at things.

The strategy I have (and what I want to stay accountable to) is to continue a daily spiritual practice of prayer, meditation and spiritual reading. I tend to think that you can't really be spiritual without an actual practice. I also want to change different habits. I'm going to journal about more, and I want to focus on maybe one or two to start out so I make actual progress instead of trying to fix a million things. One thing I definitely want to change is I want to become more positive and optimistic. I really want to be a person who is positive, I know some people who are and it's a great asset. I no longer want to be pessimistic about the future and life, I want to be excited. So that is definitely one character trait I want to change.

So that's the intro.

Here's my review for today:

Apr. 20

+ Good attitude working (was grateful for some yard that I'm doing for neighbors)

+ Good spiritual practice 25 min meditation (not an epic long session, but still good), prayer and reading

+ Good habits & discipline (woke up on first alarm, took a cold shower, exercise, diet)

+ Generally positive (had a few instances of negative/critical thoughts, but overall good) with this I also stayed out of fear/worry/anxiety about the future. This is important for me especially now with covid virus stuff

- Went over my hour limit for internet (distracted, unmotivated)

- Ate too much for lunch, lost energy (lack of discipline)

Overall: Today was a solid day. Good habits overall. Need to stay on my toes everyday and watch out for the fear/worry/anxiety/self pity. Those take all the energy out of my day. Also, need to watch how bad habits suck me in. I know wasting time on the internet is bad but I do it anyway, and after I usually feel shitty. I'll go more into some of these bad habits and how I will change soon. For now, I'm getting started with this formal review so I'm excited about that.

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Since I've just started this journal, and since I have so much free time with the covid virus lockdown, I'm going to do a morning journal session. When I'm busy with work this won't always be possible, but even when I'm busy I want to keep consistent with nightly review. It's also important to journal a little now to help recognize the progress I've made (for encouragement) and to identify the areas I want to improve on. I guess this will be an overall assessment of where I'm at.

So first, good progress:

1. Meditation: This has been my main focus spiritually for years. It's something I enjoy and want to improve like a hobby, but it also has a deeper significance than a hobby. Even when circumstances like travel or work might pull me away from meditation I always come back to it. So I'm proud of my commitment. Basically I've been a pretty consistent meditator since around September 2011. Through these years the quality and quantity of my meditation has improved since I've become more familiar with certain techniques. I've also used it as an opportunity to learn and read about techniques. I'm definitely not an expert on the information, I put more emphasis on actually meditating, but the techniques I use are from the thai forest tradition. I do want to keep solid in this area. When I meditate I can effectively deal with restlessness, distraction, lack of focus, etc. I can usually summon the resources to find a nice pleasant state of concentration. Outside in real life I can get frustrated or overwhelmed, but I'm proud to have developed at least some skill in meditation. I can also consistently do longer meditation session of an hour when I want to or have the time, but usually the sweet spot is right around 45 minutes. But even that is a long time when I'm busy. I always thing some meditation is better than none, so if I'm really busy I think 15 minute sessions are still valuable.

2. Gave up coffee/caffeine (and I don't drink or do drugs): I have nothing against coffee (or drinking or drugs), and with anything I say on here I'm not on a crusade to convince people what I'm doing is right. But for me I wanted to give up caffeine because I saw I was reliant on it for energy, and that I no longer wanted the spike and crash cycle. I find now I have a more consistent energy throughout the day. This was difficult to give up at first but now it's pretty much a non issue. I think it benefits me, and is an example of how I can change. I used to drink probably 3 cups of coffee a day every day.

3. Negative self talk: I have for the most part really solved the negative narrative toward myself that I had in my head (but I have yet to overcome general pessimism and negativity about things and the future... which I want to do). This was an important victory. Years ago even though I'm a fairly nice and accomplished fellow I would fall back into negative thinking about myself. So thoughts of low self worth and also self destructive thoughts. With this I didn't set out to overcome it explicitly, it more or less happened as a by product of improving spiritual habits and accomplishing things in my personal life. Fortunately now it's rare I have thoughts like this, and when I do it's kind of a surprise. This isn't to say that I've eliminated doubt, because I have doubt about things or my abilities from time to time, just that I've eliminated the overly negative self narrative. The progress with this came really in 2015, that year I had a rock solid spiritual practice and was very diligent with it, I also found ways to be really helpful to others and I built a nice circle of caring friends, I also really improved my dating life which was a source of dissatisfaction and made me feel bad, and I also saw that some of the professional success that I built up wasn't so important. Anyway, things kind of came together for me that year and I've had improved self worth and no longer regularly have negative self talk

4. Diet/Exercise: I've always been fairly fit, but this is even more important to me now. I really want to maintain discipline here. I think we are basically surrounded by bad choices. I'm starting to turn cooking into a new hobby and I'd like to get more into this to get away from processed foods. Not out to convince anyone, but I've gone whole foods plant based diet and it's been good for me. I like the discipline it forces me to have. Exercise lately has also been good, but I've dropped of some since I can't go to the gym during the lockdown.

5. Money situation: This has been in years past difficult for me because I put a lot of effort into an academic career, went to get a PhD and didn't finish. So my whole life plan didn't exactly materialize and I never got the financial security I envisioned out of that career. Last year though I worked as a mechanic on ships and I saved a lot of money which felt good. It's given me a sense of security and it gave me a feeling that I can go out and survive and make it in this world. Previously I never put away a bunch of money because I never made a lot, I was always working as a teaching associate or research assistant or had different jobs that allowed me to study that never paid a lot. This is still an area that I need to pay attention to and improve since I left that job, but what I found out is I don't want a lot of money to buy things, I just want a decent amount of security and freedom. But saving money did feel like a spiritual lesson and I'm proud of what I did.

6. Attitude of service: I've made some progress with being more oriented toward service in life. This is easy to get away from, but I have to recognize that over the years I've looked to be more cognizant of service and being helpful. Outside of spiritual practice, I think service is the way to be spiritual in the real world and daily life. Obviously, not easy to do. So some progress here, but also more work needed

7. No porn. Not out to change anybody, but I gave up porn so I can have better relationships and sex with real women. Porn is an unsatisfactory substitute for sex. Watching it I think also just pushes me further away from the actual goal (which is sex). Porn is problematic IMO because it reinforces the belief that sex is for other people (the people you're watching) and that all you get is to jerk off and watch. I also think internet porn draws you into the void just like all things with the internet and technology tend to do. It's the same as mindlessly checking phone, social media, youtube, news etc... but it also combines forces with an instinctive biological drive... so it's a pretty powerful way to build a bad habit. For me this was a huge victory and I'm now 9 months no porn. I want to keep this up and work toward a relationship I really want and poke on her on the regular for mutual enjoyment instead of watching porn

Next, things to improve and change:

1. Negative and pessimistic attitude: I'm not always negative and pessimistic and I'm not some sort of cynical dick. But I want to BECOME A TRULY POSITIVE AND OPTIMISTIC PERSON. I know a couple people who are like that and I see the benefits. I want to work on my mental attitudes so that I naturally see the world in a positive light, I see the world as a good place to be, I see life as an interesting and fun adventure, I see adversity as a test I will pass, that when plans change it's for the better, that things will work out in the future, that things happen for a reason, etc. etc. etc. I do not naturally live and see the world this way. Unfortunately, I tend to worry, have anxiety, and fall into self pity when I think about the way the world is and when I think about the future. This negative/pessimistic attitude is a block between myself and God/the universe. It is something that drains me spiritually. So instead I want to build positivity and faith. This is probably the thing I want to work on the most now. If I can beat the negative thinking it will be a huge spiritual victory for me. I've started and made some progress, but have receded recently. The covid virus threw me off. I fell back into negativity. So it's a challenge I wasn't mentally prepared for, and I want to get strong enough to handle whatever the world will throw at me in a positive light.

2. Oddly enough, the money situation. Even though I made progress, this is a source of worry, self pity, anxiety, fear, etc. I want to be able to bring a spiritual perspective to this and thrive in life. I want to feel confidence and faith. I'm basically starting over (but with some savings) and I want to work off of the progress I made last year. So I got to find a new job/career.

3. Motivation: With this I want to find the motivation to do good habits, even on days I don't feel good and don't feel like it. For the most part I have good habits, sometimes when I have a bad day I make excuses. I get down, and I seek comfort rather than excellence. I have to learn to do good habits even when I don't feel like it.

4. Eventually social and dating life. This is on the back burner for now, I'm more focused on becoming positive and finding a good money situation. I do want to improve my social life and get a nice fulfilling relationship. I've traveled so much and lived in so many places it's been awhile since I've had a strong social circle and a longish term relationship. I've always had friends, and I've dated a decent amount, but those are things I also want to improve.

5. Attitude of service. This was also on things I've already improved, because I have. It's just I always want to keep an eye out for this. It's easy to fall back into everything is about me. I want to be on my toes for how I can be helpful to others... and all the small things count.

6. Internet use. This turns into a bad habit. I'm a little older (40) and I remember not having internet growing up. I'm also not super tech savvy, so I never had internet at home for years. I would go to the library and check email and check whatever else. Internet was never a problem then because I was always on a timer. I never had access at all times on my phone and computer. Now it feels like I just waste a lot of time mindlessly wandering on the internet. This brings me down, I feel icky afterwards, and I feel disconnected from spirit. It is like a bad habit and I just seek distraction. So I'm implementing a timer and limiting myself to an hour a day. There is productive use like keeping this journal, checking for recipes to cook, getting directions somewhere, and there is unproductive wandering.

That's it for now. These are some of the good habits I want to continue and bad habits I want to change on this spiritual journey.

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Apr. 21

+ Productive day, I stayed pretty busy and motivated, good attitude with the odd jobs I'm getting

+ Was confident, positive, felt connected... stayed out of fear, worry, negativity. Was generally in gratitude and a good mental space overall

+ Good habits, took a cold shower, diet was good, exercise was good

+ Good spiritual practice, 38 minute meditation found a nice sweet spot and rode there for awhile, prayer okay, reading good

- Did have some specific negative thoughts. (judgmental/critical) but kind of limited and didn't infect my day. I was critical and judgmental of the town where I grew up because it doesn't fit me that well... but I have to drop this. It's not worth it, I have to find a way to see things in a more positive light. Need to catch these thoughts.

- I didn't set a timer on my internet use today (avoidance/lazy/rationalization) It wasn't excessive, and it wasn't that distracted but I want to be more strict here so I can stay away from wasting time and attention. When I'm super busy internet is a non-issue. Problem is with the corona virus I have too much time and I've been wasting it

- Didn't practice chanting today (lazy/make excuses) I'm coming up with excuses here. Just a little bit helps, I want this to be an interest of mine

Overall: A really solid day. None of the things I fell short on tripped me up. I never fell into fear, self pity, negativity, etc. A big part of this is also staying busy with work. Picking up some odd jobs doing lawn work and stuff has helped a lot because I feel productive and my mind is occupied. There are a lot of things I like about working. I really want to settle in to something nice. I have to accept that with the virus situation things are going to go as planned and I need to be patient. This will be a good test of my optimism and faith. I have to stay productive until then and work on getting away from negative thought patterns and habits. What I want most is to avoid the days where I fall into anxiety, worry, self pity, depression, etc. I want to establish a solid baseline that I never drop below, a baseline where I am productive, motivated, accountable. That way if I stay spiritually active I won't have as bad of low spots that throw me off. Not every day is going to be perfect, I know that. But solid days like today are definitely doable. Today I stayed on top of things, and I want to make that a habit, so that on bad days when I'm challenged I have a series of actions that keep me moving forward


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Morning journal session

I'm not always going to be able to journal in the morning. For me when I'm busy morning is the time for a relatively quick prayer, meditation, spiritual reading. And the evening is the time for a review session. But, right now I have a lot more free time than normal and I want to use it productively. This is a good way to set my intentions for the day, and also build a good habit of taking this journal of mine seriously.

I've had a couple good days in a row. I've felt useful and purposeful, I've had good habits also. I want to keep this up today. Previously, with all the free time from coronavirus I fell into bad habits... not waking up early with an alarm, wasting a ton of time on the internet and youtube, not feeling motivated to exercise at home since the gym is closed, etc. And not surprisingly I fell into self pity, negativity, etc. Things have really turned around. I've picked up some odd jobs doing yardwork that keeps me busy, and I'm back to good habits, and my spiritual practice is pretty solid.

I want to journal a little bit about identifying and solving problems. There is one thing I know I want to change, and several other smaller habits as well. The first thing I want to change is negativity and pessimism. I really want to eliminate these because they feel like a spiritual block between myself and a connection with God. For a long time I've never really looked at this because I'm not a total negative dick that brings others down. So it's not like I'm out there in life raining on peoples' parades. But I do fall into a personal type of negativity toward myself and my outlook on the world. I've come to realize that this negative and pessimistic attitude serves no practical function. It really is holding me back from creating the life I want to live and from fully thriving. I can justify my negative outlook on being "realistic" or it's a practical measure that's beneficial to decision making, or whatever... but it's really holding me back. When I'm positive and optimistic I not only feel better, but I also react to things better and interact with people and the world better.

So what I would like to do is BECOME A TRULY POSITIVE AND OPTIMISTIC PERSON. I want to be someone who always sees the bright side of things, who believes everything happens for a reason, who sees life as an interesting adventure, who lifts other people up, who thinks everything will work out, who welcomes adversity as a challenge to overcome, who doesn't get thrown off by other people's negativity. To be like this is not very common. Most people are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between negativity and positivity. That's pretty much where I am.

I do know one person I'm thinking of who is super positive. He can deflect any doubt or negativity pretty easily. He's definitely a person in tune with a spiritual journey. I want to become more like him. I remember one conversation I had with him years ago. (And this touches on another area I want to improve and will journal about... $ worries/fears). So we were driving in his car and he definitely isn't rich and has a modest job. And I started talking to him about retirement and having enough money when older. And I was being worrisome and pessimistic... and in my mind realistic as well. And he just deflected everyone of my objections without doubt or worry. He was spiritually strong in this area and believed everything would work out for him. Essentially, he knew he was going to be okay and that everything was going to be okay. And ultimately I remember him saying something like "And if one day I don't have enough I'm sure someone will help me out because I'm always trying to help other people, some of the people I've helped will help me." And you know what's funny? He's right, he's the type of person people would fight over to help out. I know a lot of people who would want to help him if needed. And with that attitude... he's probably going to be just fine anyway. That's the whole point... being positive and optimistic is going to lead to the best outcome anyway.

On this issue I've made some progress, and I'm better off than years ago. I've recognized negative things that drag me down and have tried to remove those from my life. I've also worked on the mental part of it. But I go back and forth. This coronavirus thing is a good example. When this came up I fell back into negativity, pessimism, doubt, worry, fear. A lot of people have, but that's not an excuse. I want to be a person that can handle anything that comes up with life and to stay positive. So this whole thing is also a test. Lately, my worry and negativity has been about not having a job and having to start a new career at this time. I would like to see this as an opportunity and to know things will work out.

I'm convinced this is definitely a spiritual question. If I really do have faith and a strong spiritual practice, I will have everything I need to fulfill the purpose of my journey on planet earth. I need to be 100% convinced of this... that I'll have everything I need. And that if I truly walk a spiritual path God will provide. This is easier said than done. But the point is that being positive about any situation will only help me to solve the situation better.

In the past with changing habits one technique that has been helpful is to take a note of the time when I thought of doing a bad habit. So it's basically recognizing the mental process before the actual action. So what I would do is take out my phone and open notes and write down every time I thought of doing a bad habit. Recognizing this early on in the mental process would disarm the habit and reduce it's danger. This is basically the strategy I need to take with negative/pessimistic thinking. And since it's a mental attitude it is very subtle. I already started this technique prior to the coronavirus, but with the situation I gave up and just fell into negativity and other bad habits to cope with the situation. I sought out comfort in familiar but bad ways of thinking and acting. So now I want to start this over again. Any time I have a negative thought I need to take note of it, and counter it with positivity and a more optimistic view on things.

So negative/pessimistic attitude & thinking... that is definitely one habit I will be tracking and trying to change during my day and taking a look at in my nightly review

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Apr. 22

+ Good spiritual practice. I see this as the foundation for everything... if I have discipline here and do this well, other things tend to go well. Good morning session of prayer and spiritual reading. 48 minute meditation in the afternoon. A really solid session, good concentration.

+ Positive/optimistic attitude... I never fell into negativity, fear, worry, self pity, etc. Overall positive, only had one instance of being to critical/pessimistic. I took note of the time and made a conscious effort to move in a positive direction. This is easy on good days, the challenge will come on a bad day.

+ Life habits: woke up on first alarm, stretching session, cold shower

+ Worked doing odd jobs. Good attitude with this. Good to keep busy

- Not finding too many opportunities for service. I'm basically isolated 100% of the time, don't really interact with anyone. Even when I go shopping everyone sticks to themselves, for the time being I'm going to have to reach out more to people over the phone to be supportive and be of service. This is in general and came to mind

Overall: Today was a really good day. Emotionally I was strong, never got angry, worried, jealous, etc. A lot of times I can be successful with other people during the day but still have a bad day by falling for emotional traps that block me off from the spirit. Right now starting this journal has given me some good motivation to build good habits and stay focused. So I'm having good days. I want to keep working toward spiritual growth and keep building these good days. When a bad day comes... that is the real test. I will have to be able to sit with whatever happens and not let it throw me off... I have to develop the skill of doing positive, productive things even when I don't feel like it. Oh, also today I had a virtual job interview. I'm most likely one of three final candidates. I felt like the interview went well and I gave it my best shot. I kept thinking to myself before and after I'm okay with whatever result. I'll trust fate, destiny, and God or however you want to explain the mystical realm of how life unfolds. I want to really adopt a positive attitude that everything happens for the best.

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Apr. 23

+ Spiritual practice: Really nice morning meditation, reading, prayer... also did formal afternoon meditation 36 minutes. Practiced chanting, enjoyed it and improving

+ Life habits: Exercise, stretching, finished with cold shower, woke up on alarm, good diet, self care. All good things

+ Positive/optimistic: Didn't fall into fear, worry, anxiety, self pity and I avoided being critical, cynical, negative. This is important, this is the one thing I want to change the most

- Wasted a ton of time on the internet. (lazy, seeking comfort in bad habits) This was a big fail. I was pretty productive for a good part of the day but then I had too much free time and I just wandered on the internet. This is not a big problem when I'm busy... being busy and working solves a lot of problems by staying occupied. In the void of working a lot bad habits can enter in. I don't even enjoy it really, I just feel distracted and icky after. There is productive internet use and unproductive and today I fell short of what I should be doing.

- Thought some about watching porn (distraction) I've been no porn for 9 months and I like not watching porn so I can focus on better relationships with women. For a long time I never thought about porn. With all the free time now this even comes to mind. I definitely need to stay focused here and recognize the danger of thoughts... I don't want this thought to turn into an action. I'm recognizing that this is not the direction I want to head in.

Overall: Still a good day where I made forward progress. I did a lot of good things today. Overall I feel good about the day, the only big negative was just giving up and wasting time on the internet. Tomorrow I want to avoid this and really find other stuff to do.

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Apr. 24

+ Spiritual practice. Had a solid morning prayer, reading, meditation session. Did some breath work and 30 minute meditation. Getting better at chanting. Only have a little memorized but I would like to keep learning.

+ Work: I kept busy today doing yard work and odd jobs. I'm making some extra money. Staying busy is important... being occupied avoids problems and bad habits. Good attitude.

+ Life habits: Pretty good. Woke up on first alarm, good diet, cold shower

+ Positive/optimistic thinking: This is the big habit I'm trying to change. I did good here. Overall never really became negative or pessimistic. I want this to be the norm.

- Looked at a porn sub for a minute (rationalization, let guard down) I've been no porn for 9 months and I'm happy about that. This is good evidence that I can change habits and I want to stay no porn so I can have better relationships. Made the mistake of checking out a porn sub website for a moment. Problem is I went to check it out. During the coronavirus lockdown I've thought more about porn than previously. Several months passed where I basically never thought about it and I had total freedom it felt like. Now though thoughts about watching porn come from time to time. Mostly because I'm not busy, I'm bored, and I'm seeking distraction. So I have to recognize this error and not check sites like this. It's the wrong direction to head in.

- Ate too much for lunch (lack of discipline, seeking distraction): I usually eat a very small lunch so I can keep my energy. I ate a big lunch and felt it afterward. This doesn't work well.

- Didn't stretch or exercise: (busy with work): Not really a bad decision, I was just busy all day doing yardwork which is like exercise, but I would've liked to have stretched.

Overall: I still felt really good today and that I moved forward. I just got to be very careful with things that might entice me to watch porn. I need to be especially vigilant with my thought processes. If I notice I'm thinking about watching porn I need to get busy with something productive and recognize the danger of these thoughts. I'm glad I made this change, I know I'll have a good relationship in the future, so there is no need to watch porn.

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Journal Session

I had a good morning spiritual practice and feel ready for the day. Things really feel good now that I've committed to taking my spiritual practice more seriously. I see everyday as an opportunity where I have to recommit and set aside time for this. Yesterday i had a good opportunity for service, I was willing to help someone out. It was really natural to help. It's important to be on my toes like that and be outside of only thinking of myself. Yesterday evening I had a beach fire outside and was alone and it was really peaceful. But I also felt really peaceful. I felt like everything was okay and will be okay. I really felt connected to God and the universe. I wasn't ecstatic or extremely happy, just that I was content and felt free from worry, fear, anxiety, self pity. I believe that's how I'm supposed to feel. I don't think life should be constant hectic activity under stress, fear, worry, self pity, etc. I really think a strong spiritual practice will help me to really embrace life and be excited about it.

Right now there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. Some people are getting sick, normal life is on hold, there's a lot of economic uncertainty and insecurity. I could always say those are "justifiable" reasons to worry and be in fear and self pity. But that is the totally wrong reaction and doesn't prepare me to deal with the situation effectively. I'm convinced that if I'm positive, optimistic and have true confidence and faith I'll be much better prepared to handle everything than if I'm nervous, fearful, anxious, worried, etc. So this whole situation is just testing me. I want to stay positive and really keep focused on my spiritual practice and the goal of becoming a positive and optimistic person.

Today I got more yardwork to do. I'm really grateful for that because it keeps me busy and productive and that's satisfying.

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Apr. 25

+ Spiritual practice: Good morning session, set aside time for prayer, contemplation, reading. Did breath work in afternoon and meditation session.

+ Work: Got some more yardwork done, pretty good attitude

+ Life habits: Stretched, took a cold shower, good diet

- Internet use: (distraction, laziness, rationalization) This really took away the spiritual momentum I had. Had a great morning and afternoon, then early evening I had free time and I just entered the rabbit whole of wasting time on the internet. I rationalized that I had nothing else to do. I sought out distraction. It's not good for me feeling connected. there is productive use where I seek out valuable information, and then there is just time wasting. during the covid virus lockdown I can see how this is a problem. When I'm busy not so much of a problem. 

- Resentment toward a neighbor: (grudge, disagreement) I had a brief resentment toward a neighbor. Just saw her and kept to myself, but felt the emotional resentment. And it's nothing I personally am involved with in terms of the situation. I barely know her. But I got to keep away from all types of anger/disagreement.

- No porn goal (distraction, lust): I didn't watch and jerk off to porn today, but I briefly visited a site through a link for a moment, was disgusted with myself for doing it and closed it. Either way, there is no point in going to a site. I've been really good with the no porn. 9 months total, never thought about porn for months. but with the covid lockdown this is back on my mind. I have to stay strong here. I'm proud of this progress

/ Progress on having positivity/optimism: Really good day until I fell into bad habits wasting time on the internet. That took the wind out of my sails and all evening I've felt more negative and pessimistic. That's the price I pay for indulging in a bad habit. I do think these are linked. So tomorrow I got to start out strong and keep good habits throughout the day and maintain my optimism.

Overall: This is a day to learn from. A mixed day. Solid and then fell into weakness. A spiritual practice has to be combined with good habits. I already know this lesson. I also already know the effect of wasting time on the internet. yet I choose to do it. I don't want to pay this price... I want to keep having solid days and not fall into bad habits. Tomorrow got to stay away and find other things to do.

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Apr. 26

+ Meditation: Had a really strong 52 minute meditation

+ Spiritual practice: good prayer, reading, doing a review now

+ Good life habits: Good diet, stretched, did a cold shower... but didn't do any strength training or endurance training

+ Service: Met with a sponsee, trying to be helpful

- Looked very briefly at a porn site (distraction, lonliness, boredom, lust). This isn't what I want to be doing. I want to be moving toward better relationships.

- Wasn't positive/optimistic (fear, worry, doubt, negative) I lost positive momentum. This is partially from slipping into unproductive habits and being bored. Fell into fear about the future and being negative. I got to stick with good habits, it's not worth the price I pay to fall into negativity.

Overall: Still a good day with mostly good things. Even though I wasn't as positive as I'd like to be I still managed to have mostly good habits. That I definitely want to keep up. Part of this is I have lower sexual energy from fapping (without porn) for a few days in a row. I felt a drop off in energy, vitality, etc. I do practice retention from time to time and notice the difference. Having a lot of sex is good, but fapping frequently kind of kills my energy. Ideally no more than once a week, so a few days in a row and I pay a price. So I think this is linked to a less positive and optimistic attitude. Fortunately I didn't fap to porn. But even looking at sites I want to stay away from obviously. I'm at 9 months no porn and I'm proud of that, I don't want to go back out of boredom because of this dumb virus lockdown. So I'm going back to retention for this week. I do think it has some positive benefits

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Apr. 27

+ Meditation session 42 minutes, plus good chanting, reading, prayer. Good spiritual practice today. I look at this as the foundation... if I make time for this consistently things will go well

+ Work: good attitude, grateful for odd jobs

+ Positive, optimistic attitude: Good improvement over yesterday. This is the biggest habit I want to fix.

+ Good life habits: diet, exercise (but didn't stretch), cold shower, breathing exercises

+ Stayed away from wandering on the internet. Did watch a documentary movie which is a way better option.

/ thought mostly about self (selfish): Most of the day I think about myself and my situation. with the coronavirus it's difficult because I don't interact with anyone. So I'm alone and I think about myself, my situation, the future, my worries, etc. The idea of spiritual living for me includes thinking about others and service. This is hard to do now. So I rate this as neither really negative or positive, but something to look out for

overall: a good day. Definitely felt like I moved forward. Mostly positive. Some times a little reflective on what to do and the future, but never really fell into self pity or fear. So tomorrow I want to keep this up.

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Apr. 28

+ Morning spiritual practice: First thing did spiritual reading, contemplation, prayer, chanting

+ Work: Did odd jobs, stayed busy, had good focus, grateful for the work

- meditation: (lazy, gave up) did a short meditation, but wasn't feeling it, lost motivation

- life habits: (lazy, make excuses) did okay with some but didn't stretch, cold shower was much shorter, I feel better when I do these things

- wasn't very positive (critical, negative): Wasn't completely negative, but I wasn't as positive as I should be. Got caught up in critical thoughts

- sex ideal (lack of discipline): didn't practice retention, looked at porn subs for a bit. I want good discipline here, this is a good lesson to learn, it's a challenge and I want to work toward having good relationships

Overall: A decent day, but mixed. More negative aspects than I want. On solid days things are mostly positive and that's what I want. I really think it starts with good habits, doing them even when I don't feel like it, plus doing productive things instead of being bored. So tomorrow I want to do better.

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Apr. 29

+ Spiritual routine: did two meditation sessions, over an hour in mediation. I'm learning chanting better and that is increasing my interest, good prayer and spiritual reading. So really good here today

+ Motivation: More motivated, went on a run, took a longer cold shower

+ Positive/optimistic: Good here, never really fell totally into negativity, had a couple small moments, but overall stayed positive

+ Back on semen retention: I want to keep this up to enjoy benefits of retention, but also be realistic. Release once a week I think. That way good discipline and also benefits

- resentment/anger: Got resentful/angry over my situation, having to start over (fear, insecurity) stopped and saw a friend hadn't seen in a long time, made me feel lost, behind, not where I should. Not the reaction I want

Overall: Good improvement from yesterday. Especially on positivity front. I want to keep this up, keep up discipline, motivation, good habits


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Journal Session

Yesterday I had a solid day but today I woke up feeling very emotionally unsettled. Maybe it was because I stayed up too late. Maybe I had an intense dream I don't remember. A lot of it is the general uncertainty in my life, this really is trying to drag me down mentally and emotionally. Not working now, and the uncertainty over what to do is difficult. It really is something that impacts my self worth. I want to feel productive, that I'm on a path going somewhere... and right now there is a lot of uncertainty. Last year I worked a lot, and just working a lot felt great. I saved money, I improved on my job, I was busy. But I didn't really have much free time with this job, and I didn't really have the best habits, and it was a physical job and I got injured and left. Now I'm of course questioning that decision and have regret from time to time.

So with the uncertainty I need to stay away from regret and self pity... I want to see the future as an opportunity to do something exciting. I want to feel optimistic and positive. I want to feel like i have agency. 

I could go on forever about specific details of my situation, the difficulties I will face, etc. But I'm just going to continue to start this day in a positive and productive way.

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Apr. 30

+ Spiritual practice: Really solid here. Set aside time in the morning for prayer, contemplation, chanting, spiritual reading. Later had a solid meditation session

+ Turned the day around: I started out the day in a bad mood but turned it around. Did productive things, good habits, cleaned, went on a run

+ Attitude of service: helped my parents when they arrived home to unload the car

+ Good habits: exercise, cold shower, stretched, etc.

+ positive/optimistic: Did good here, never really fell into negativity

+ retention: did good here, having discipline here is important, it can benefit other areas of life. Will journal on importance of this

- Occasional critical thoughts (fear): I think some of my negative thoughts come from a place of fear and uncertainty

Overall: Really solid day, especially after waking up in a funk. I really turned things around and got the momentum going in the right direction. I also got surprise good news with a job opportunity that I thought was dead and gone. It's still a possibility so I'm excited about that. I want to keep level headed with this but after I got the news I noticed I had some nervous energy. Good day and want to keep it going tomorrow

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May 1

+ spiritual practice: set aside time in the morning and evening. I'm getting better at chanting so it's more fun, I'm actually doing it instead of just memorizing it. Today did prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, review

+ attitude of service: found ways to be helpful around the house

+ life habits: pretty good, staying on top of these, but I want to get more serious. I want to treat exercise like I'm training

+ positive/optimistic: also generally good, never fell into negativity... but I'm still not seeing the world as opportunity, i'm still not excited about the future, I still don't naturally see the bright side of things and that's what I'm working for. One thing that is holding me back is financial fears about the future/uncertainty... it's like I want to give myself persmission to love life and not worry about the future so much. Instead feel good about it

- annoyed, bothered (lack of gratitude, appreciation) today i was bothered and annoyed a little by my mom. This has been a reoccurring problem for me. At times I get a little annoyed and I don't appreciate our time together like I should. I really want to make an effort tomorrow to improve this. Our time together is precious so I want to enjoy and cherish it

Overall: I moved forward today. Mostly good things and good habits. Once I get busy with work and life I think I will be more energized and excited. Tomorrow I want to keep all this up and also work on enjoying time with my mom more.

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May 2

+ Spiritual practice: Good effort here, meditation, prayer, reading, chanting, review

+ Positive/optimistic attitude: Good, never fell into negativity, but also haven't fully embraced and internalized positive view on life and the future, that's what I want... to become that

+ Life habits: generally good, diet, exercise, cold showers, etc. but I'm not super motivated. I want more motivation for good habits. I'm doing them but I want to get more excited about this

+ Work: Good attitude, kept busy with odd jobs

+ Improvement on not being annoyed from yesterday, want to continue this tomorrow

Overall: A solid day. Never fell into negative emotion really. Never got caught up in anything that threw me off.

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May 3

+ Spiritual practice: Good here, not having super long meditations I could always set aside time and make effort for a longer meditation. But doing everything I should be doing

+ Better interaction with parents, I want to keep this up and enjoy our time together

+ Life habits, went swimming in the cold lake, can improve breathing exercises, generally life habits are good. Exercise, waking up, but didn't stretch today.

+ Positive/optimisitc, never fell into negativity, mostly positive. Want to keep going with this.

+ Service: met with a sponsee today. Looked to be helpful, good because it keeps me working and improving. Got to walk the walk

- Mostly thought of myself (self absorbed) was generally helpful, but thinking a lot about my situation, worrying about my situation. I want to get more where I think of others and focus on service

- internet use (lazy, distraction): not horrible, but rather unskillful, I seek it out as a distraction instead of doing something productive

- intensity of attitude (lazy, settling for mediocre): with this I want to get more excited about life, expect that things will be difficult, match that with intensity, feel like I'm training and always improving. Take life seriously

Overall: I moved forward today. Solid day. Mostly positive things. Decent amount of improvement. As long as I keep this up I'll be fine. Just don't want to fall out of the habit of daily spiritual action.


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Journal Session

I received some surprise news that I was still under consideration for a job and that they were checking my references. This is a good sign, with this process at an organization like this they usually don't check references for multiple candidates. I could be wrong, but it appears to me that they will make a decision and then check references, do a background check etc. I don't think they would put the time and resources into checking references for multiple candidates. Anyway, I had thought this opportunity had passed and this is good news. I'm trying not to get too excited until it's real and I'm actually hired. I don't want to get my hopes up and then not have it work out for some reason. So emotionally I want to stay level, and I want to stay positive regardless of the outcome, knowing that there is something out there for me and many good possibilities.

Beyond that I'm still working on establishing really good habits, good discipline so that I can really be effective in life and not get held back.

Semen retention is one of these. I'm trying to find a good balance between the benefits of discipline and the benefits and pleasure of release. For me it's finding something that works for me... without going too far in the direction of no fap and endlessly retaining, and also not going back to porn or fapping too often. Right now I'm on day 6 retaining and I feel good benefits, energy, vitality, discipline, etc. But if I retain too long the sexual energy starts to become a distraction. There are definitely spiritual benefits to retaining, and spiritual traditions do this. But for now I'm not out to do long term retention. I've done 30 days multiple times and around 60 days is my max. I've set the goal previously of 90 days and never made it, but that doesn't bother me too much. The big thing is just staying away from porn so I can have better relationships. In the future if going long term retention is important I'll try, but right now I want to get into a pattern of releasing once a week. It's a middle ground where there is discipline involved, I can enjoy some of the benefits, but also not get too overwhelmed by excessive sexual energy. Eventually I would like to have a girl in my life and have consistent sex while also retaining during sex and not always releasing with her either. The difficulty with a retention-release cycle is that after releasing their is a stronger urge to continue and get back into the habit of releasing daily. I'm not big on the no fap theory too much, but I think this is called the chaser effect. I do think there is some truth to this based on my experiences. It's like after a period of discipline I get some pleasure and then instead of going back to discipline I chase the pleasure. So basically, the hardest part of a weekly cycle is the same day and following day after I release, not going back into it. Because ultimately, releasing once a week doesn't erase all of the benefits and I can still harness the sexual energy to a pretty great degree. But if I fap like 2,3,4 days in a row then there is a noticeable decrease. Anyway this is my new goal with semen retention. I think it is realistic and there will be some benefit.

Another problem that has shown up during covid quarantine is wasting time on the internet and being lazy over being productive. With excess time I fall into wasting time on youtube, dumb news sites, whatever. I do this instead of finding something more productive to do. When I'm busy with work this is pretty much a non issue. But now it is. I can go on for awhile on why the internet can be a huge waste, a lot of it is designed to capture your attention. There is productive use an unproductive use. I want to use the resources on the internet skillfully and not as a distraction. So today and going forward I want to keep an eye out for this and actually do something else. I want to be more serious about life, develop good skills, look at things like I'm training to become better.

That's it for now. Things are generally going well. Accountability in a journal is a help also. Gonna have a good day today

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May 4

+ Spiritual practice: Did good here. Morning session to start the day of prayer, contemplation, reading, chanting. Afternoon session of meditation and breath work.

+ Exercise: I didn't feel motivated and then I found some and felt great. Had a good run, did some pull ups. But I'm not training for anything specific. I'd like to take training more seriously.

/ Life habits: mixed, good and bad. Went for a swim in the cold lake and finished with a cold shower. But made compromises on diet for the first time in weeks.

- Internet use (boredom, distraction): I'm not sure how to improve here, I'm not working a lot so there is a lot of time during quarantine. i have a lot of good habits and do good things during the day. But then i also fall into mindless internet use

- positivity/optimistic (self pity, fear): Fell short here, I wasn't really positive today. Started the day strong and then I faded. Fell into regret about leaving my last job, uncertainty over the future, worry, etc. This is the biggest thought habit I want to change.

Overall: Still a good day by a lot of measures. I did a great spiritual practice. got good exercise in, got a good cold water exposure which takes motivation. Ate mostly really well, except for one snack. But also emotionally fell into self pity and worry. I need deeper faith and trust in God.  I want to go forward with confidence. Ultimately as long as I keep doing a bunch of good habits I'll keep making progress even on days I don't feel great. So tomorrow I can do more of the same

One thing that is missing though is just complete commitment and clarity over a goal. I've had it in the past, it's a huge advantage to know exactly what you want to do, and then to go and do it no matter what. I feel that's what I need again. I definitely feel that it's a financial goal and building a vision for the future in 10 years. Right now there is some uncertaintiy for waiting for a job. So I think that is why I'm a little worried/emotional, I'll probably get the answer soon in the next couple of days

Edited by Jai

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