Today I'm publishing my first-ever Integrity Report.
What's the purpose of this report? To make me think hard about how well I'm living up to my values (such as living with mindfulness) and to discover how I can serve you better.
I also want you to see that I walk the talk. I'm not just talking at you, telling you to do things without having done them myself.
I live my practice every day- whether it was a good day or a bad day and whether I felt like I did good or bad- and I want you to see that as well as maybe even get ideas for how you can improve your own life through something I write about in this report.
Also, I call this my "Mindful Living Integrity Report" because it's very much about me becoming more aware of my daily actions and efforts as a whole. That will allow me to live and work with greater clarity and focus.
The 3 major questions this report is meant to answer are:
- What are the core values that drive my life and work?
- How am I living by those principles now?
- How can I set a higher standard in the future?
This is my 2015 Mindful Living Integrity Report:
What are the core values that drive my life and work?
1. Living with mindfulness
This list isn't necessarily in any particular order, but I do consider living with mindfulness to be the foundation of everything else in my life.
This is about 2 efforts: my mindfulness practice- making the effort to live with mindfulness in every moment- and applying my mindfulness practice to the rest of my life through mindful living, which includes how I treat others, myself, what kinds of actions I take daily and how those align with what matters to me, how the things that occur in my daily life affect me, how I take care of myself, etc.
2. Living with love, compassion, and understanding
This is about how I treat myself, how I treat my family and those I know and interact with closely, and how I interact with those whom I meet for the first time- or simply in passing - in my everyday life.
Just like living with mindfulness, actually doing this is easier said than done. Because of that, the real effort is simply to do my best to live in a way that I express these principles in every moment.
This primarily refers to serving you, the Buddhaimonia community, and my family.
The community at Buddhaimonia has blossomed into something truly amazing. There are so many amazing people in this growing community of ours, and it makes me proud to say I’m a part of it with you.
I wrote this integrity report partly to show you that we’re in this together. I want you to know I’m right there with you, working to live mindfully, act with kindness, compassion, and understanding towards others, be kind and compassionate with myself in difficult times, and everything else that follows.
4. My Zen practice (Waking up)
This includes the first 3 points, but it's also about cutting through to the truth and realizing greater wisdom.
This is centered on my confidence that waking up to the ultimate truth of our lives is the single greatest effort we can make both for ourselves and all other beings.
Ultimately, this is what I talked about in The Ultimate Guide to Zen Living as well: living with a single-minded awareness, with a disciplined effort that focuses on simplicity and naturalness, and with compassionate concern for my well-being and the well-being of all those around me.
5. Living authentically
It's very important to me to live and work in a way that aligns with my values and opinions. This is about being honest with others and true to myself.
How am I living by those principles right now?
1. Following my daily mindfulness and meditation practice
This is where living with mindfulness, cultivating and living with love & compassion, serving, and my Zen practice as a whole intersect.
Here are my primary practices with regards to my overall daily practice:
- Sitting in meditation. Once in the morning for an average of 45 minutes and often a little 5-10 minute session 1-2 times throughout the day in situations such as waiting for my older son to fall asleep (who causes trouble sometimes during nap time) or at the end of the day when I'm about done working.
- Walking in meditation. I always walk right after sitting for 10-20 minutes, which is typical for Zen practice, but I also practice walking meditation throughout my day whenever I can. This includes when walking my son to sleep for his nap in the afternoon and at night, when taking out the trash, checking the mail, and other times when the opportunity presents itself. These "everyday" moments are only a few minutes at a time, but I take advantage of every little opportunity. Walking meditation is one of my absolute favorite practices.
- Going home. I use a Chrome desktop reminder extension to practice my mindful breathing for 1-2 minutes every half-hour. This helps break up the day and keep me from rushing through my writing and other work. It also helps remind me of my practice throughout my work day.
- Cleaning mindfully. My major effort is to be mindful throughout my everyday life, but I highlight this here because it's a new activity I've focused on recently. Since moving to our new place, and with the new baby being so close to arriving, I've done more of the cleaning. But instead of getting annoyed at this, I've taken it as an opportunity to deepen my practice. This is one of the most consistent mindfulness practices I have now. This includes mostly washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, and doing laundry.
- Resting in meditation. Recently I've begun meditating when I lie down to rest. When I lie down at night I simply become mindful of my body, let myself relax a bit, and follow my breath just as I do while sitting in meditation. I'm not sure why it took me so long to realize I could do this, but it's a very convenient and valuable time to meditate which has really helped me deepen my practice and go to sleep without loose ends hanging around in my mind.
- Working mindfully. It can be easy to get drawn into ignoring the things that matter and working more. I know the feeling as well as anyone. So one of my primary efforts is to work as mindfully as I possibly can. Aside from Going Home every half hour, this means writing down my daily focus, keeping it in front of me, acknowledging any feelings of stress or "do more!", and bringing myself back when I feel myself rushing.
- Being present for my loved ones. This is something I'll go into detail on in the next section, but it's a very important part of my practice.
2. Being compassionate, loving, present, and understanding with my wife and boys
Last week I talked about a simple mantra that I follow with regards to relationships and connecting with others. The mantra is simply:
This is the foundation of my practice of cultivating greater love & compassion for others. Relationships can be complicated and difficult territory, but this mantra helps simplify what you should focus on in any given moment and can clarify things.
Below is a list of things I do on a day-to-day basis which have to do with cultivating and living with more love, compassion, and understanding. You'll notice some of these mesh with my mindfulness practice. As I mentioned earlier, it's very much the foundation of most everything.
- Being present for my children. The combination between the fact that my work is mostly creative and that I have a number of responsibilities means it can be easy to forget to be present for my children, even when I'm actively playing with them, because of how much fills my mind in a given day. Because of this, one of my primary efforts with regards to my practice is to be fully present for them when it's time for us to do things together.
- Being present for difficult situations. This includes arguments, annoyances, and even something as simple as feeling the frustration that arises from hot weather (for me at least, I've always disliked hot weather!). I find these moments incredible opportunities to deepen my practice as well as to transform what is generally an annoyance or frustration into something nourishing.
- Understanding. By this, I mean actively seeking to deepen my understanding of others and their actions, whether through a specific conflict or in general. I'm mentioning this here because I'm working on this constantly. I feel that I'm good at this when it comes to myself and those more distanced from me, but I could use improvement with regards to those I'm closest with.
- Letting go of expectations. Every day brings new challenges already, but our expectations about the way we think things are supposed to be make everything all the more difficult. Every day I practice letting go of expectations. Expectations about the way I think my boys are supposed to act, the way my wife is supposed to act, the way things are supposed to go in my personal efforts, and the way things unfold out and about in everyday life. This is a very liberating exercise which is really just based on 1) identifying the expectation as it arises, and any frustration/annoyance that arises as a result 2) questioning the expectation and then accepting it through seeing that the event is reality, and that our expectation is imagination.
- Apologizing. Growing up, I never liked being wrong about things. And I'm a bit stubborn. For this reason, I've never been good at apologizing. I've worked to correct this for some time though and am happy to say I'm actually getting pretty good at it now (not perfect, but much better). This has really helped me deepen my relationship with my wife. When you apologize, the other person tends to do the same and you both end up opening up to one another. It's funny how that works.
3. Serving the Buddhaimonia community
As I've said since the beginning, my focus is helping you.
And while I also have the goal of eventually being able to support myself with the revenue from Buddhaimonia (something that would give me much more time to devote to writing and developing my work, which is why supporting my family with my work as opposed to some other means is so important to me), hence my first book (here) and online course (here) for sale, I believe I've done a good job of this so far.
To date, I've written a 37,000 word book which I gave away for free, I've written over 70 articles totaling between 150,000-200,000 words, offered extra content in the form of free guides, a 3-part video series, and others, and I've answered over 600 emails from Buddhaimonia readers, all in the name of service.
How can I set a higher standard in the future?
1. Increase my meditation sessions
I'll be increasing my daily sessions dramatically from 45~ minutes (aside from my 5-10 minute sessions here and there throughout the day) to a full 2-hour session every morning in the coming months after our routine with the new baby settles into place.
I should have done this a while back, but the pull to get more writing done each day and support my family has admittedly kept this from happening. I've been mindful of it and simply expressed compassion towards myself. Sometimes I've noticed myself being critical, as I've generally been hard on myself in the past, but I'm working on being kinder with myself.
2. Be mindful during public gatherings
The most difficult situation to practice mindfulness in my experience tends to be public places, but as my practice improves the energy of mindfulness has begun to take over and envelope more and more of my life.
This is the next big challenge- being mindful consistently during public gatherings. I usually fail miserably here, but I'm starting to get better. Moving forward, this is one of my focuses.
3. Have greater patience with my wife and boys
In our everyday life, we're constantly fighting old habits. Where this is most clear for me right now is in how I interact with my loved ones. I've found it very difficult to treat those I'm closest to with the same level of kindness and compassion as I treat myself and those I don't see on a daily basis.
For that reason, I sometimes find myself being short with my wife and children. Family life can put a lot of pressure on everyone, especially with a new baby on the way, so one of my major “everyday practice” focuses is to be mindful of this and to work on being more loving, compassionate, present, and patient with Edith and my boys.
I've made a lot of progress here, but I need to continue working on this.
4. Finding balance between the need to support my family and doing what I love & find important
The need to support my family has clouded my vision over the past year at certain points.
This has definitely been one of my biggest areas for improvement and consequently one of the things I’ll be putting the most work into moving forward (I’ve been working on this intensely for a bit now, and will continue to do so throughout the rest of 2015).
My primary intention has always been to serve you and give you practical strategies for finding greater peace and happiness and navigating the challenges of everyday life.
But having a family, I sometimes feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place between supporting them and doing work that I feel is important and valuable to me.
In no way do I think that I have to choose between the two, any idea that I'd have to do that would be a wrong perception on my part, but I have convinced myself I needed to, and rather unconsciously I might add, at certain points probably due to money worries hidden beneath the surface.
I'm very happy to add though that I've reflected on this for a bit now and have gained a great deal of clarity about making this all come together seamlessly. I can't do it without you, but I'm very excited for what's to come.
I'll be focusing on ways to improve the usefulness of and experience at Buddhaimonia mostly with writing-based projects (like Mindful Way, which has some video, audio, and live training but is mostly my writing), which is where I feel I'm best.
To that end, you've probably noticed changes on the site, especially if you're reading this on a desktop or laptop.
I've removed the sidebar, simplified the menu, added a link to the Archives in the top menu, and center-aligned everything to really put focus on the writing and not shove a bunch of other stuff in your face. The new Mindful Way program releasing on September 14th also greatly reflects that same direction.
I want you to enjoy reading and enjoying the content on Buddhaimonia and I'm committed to making your reading experience the best it can be moving forward.
5. Writing more as well as more consistently
On that topic, I've begun writing a second post a week. I didn't initially announce this as I wanted to stick with the new writing schedule for a month before I announced anything, but after doing so I'm now making it a regular part of my schedule.
The 2nd post will go out on Wednesdays moving forward. I'll be announcing it this Wednesday, showing you guys what I wrote about each Wednesday over the past month (if you want to "cheat" and go look now, feel free to head to the Archives).
Plus, I have lots of cool book ideas developing, starting with an amazing new updated version of Zen for Everyday Life in a line of new books. My goal is to write 4-6 books in 2015. Lots of great drafts and ideas, so I'm confident I can make it happen and excited to begin working.
Also along this topic, I've written an article every Monday for a while. And while that's great, there's one problem: most of them are written (for the most part) either Sunday or Monday itself.
Sure, I have drafts with the major points done often more than a week in advance, but I still end up doing the majority of the work on Sunday and/or Monday, for little or no reason at all.
There's no excuse for this, I generally just put off writing because I have so many other things I do throughout the week when I could easily do my next post first and then other things after that. I intend to change that.
One of the most difficult efforts of all is to learn about and accept ourselves.
With this integrity report, I hope to bring myself a bit closer to doing both of those things, while hopefully providing an example with which others can learn from.
Every day that goes by I get more excited about the work that I do, and I hope that I can continue building Buddhaimonia into the great resource that it can be.
Thank you for reading and being a part of this worldwide family of ours. I appreciate you being here.