The LIFE Project: A Year-long Project of Intention
The video above summarizes this project. If you don’t have time to read, you can play the video and come back later. It’s me. I’m camera shy, but I’m going for it.
April 1 marked day 1 of the LIFE Project – Living an Intentional and Fulfilling Existence.
It’s a project that entails meditation, decluttering, living consciously and mindfully, and making everything I do align with my values.
If you’re interested in the project, sign up to the blog and follow along. 🙂
Along the way, I hope to publish two coloring books, two novels (or 1 novel and 1 non-fiction book), a book of poetry, and a book on the project itself.
There will be sacred travel, marathons (walking), trying out veganism, altruism and more.
It’s an ambitious project – one that I hope will change the course of my life and my accountability partners are you – my readers. It’s also one that I hope will inspire others to live intentionally, and aligned to their values.
I do not like letting others down; I don’t like letting myself down – so the intention is to complete this project, of course.
For the month of April, the theme is “looking inward.”
I will be:
- meditating 60 minutes per day
- journaling 250 words+ per day
- reciting a specific mantra after meditation
- reciting affirmations after meditation
- walking ten thousand (10K) steps per day
- reading a book of the month
- finishing the Tree of Life Coloring Book for publication in May
Starting about 2 weeks before April 1, I began to prepare myself for this project.
For the last two weeks out of each month, I will spend time building up to the following month’s requirements.
Materials needed for April:
- mala beads
- good walking shoes
- a pedometer of some sort
- affirmations cards
- Penzu journal
- The Power of Silence by Carlos Castaneda
Initially, I thought I would do 20 minutes of mediation in the morning, 20 minutes during the day, and 20 minutes in the evening.
I figured out quickly that that wasn’t going to work for me – and glad I had these two weeks to figure that out. I work during the day, and consistently finding 20 minutes at some point during the day was going to set me up for failure. Furthermore, upon arriving home, there’s dinner, walking the dog, and working on my project – not a lot of time to do other things.
Knowing that I wanted to at least do 60 minutes per day, I decided to get up a little earlier and meditate for 1 hour. I went from 20 minutes last week, increasing my meditation time by 5 minutes until I reached 60.
I’m really glad I did. Two days in, I can tell I’m reaching a theta state during these longer meditation sessions. I have an easier time focusing on breathing in and out, and letting everything go so that my mind can grow more quiet, steadily.
I feel myself periodically during the day focusing on my breath – naturally.
In the two weeks prior to April 1, I also started journaling to get into a more consistent routine with it.
Granted, I’ve journaled all my life. It’s something I’ve done since I was old enough to write coherent thoughts – secret diaries, journals for classes, etc.
I once wrote 30 pages in 5th grade as part of a reflection on a week-long trip we made to the southwestern part of the US. We were only required to do five pages. But I got so into it, and wrote and wrote and wrote while on the bus.
But the journal I’m keeping for this project will be designed so that I can turn it into a book upon completion – so that others may design their own LIFE projects.
I write each day in my private journal over at Penzu.com (not an affiliate link). I’ve used this site for journaling since 2014 and I upgraded my membership so that I could have more than one journal.
Now, I have a personal journal and one specifically for this project, where I’ll be writing for the next year.
At the end of the year, I can download the entire journal as one document, easily editable in a Word document.
I spent some time researching mantras. There’s a lot of literature out there about them, but I knew I wanted to incorporate two things: a mantra in Sanskrit and one that would be relevant to this journey.
I looked for a Sanskrit mantra because it is an ancient language said to be at the same frequency as the vibration of the universe.
The word, “om,” for example, vibrates at 432 hz, known as the same vibration of the intonation of nature. Physics has actually proved this!
Sanskrit is a sacred language, and since this is a sacred journey, I want to be sure that I incorporate these types of elements wherever I can.
The mantra I chose is:
Om gam ganapataye namaha
It’s the sacred mantra of Ganesh, meaning that “I bow to the (symbolic) elephant-faced deity who is capable of removing all obstacles and bestows blessings of success and protection upon me.”
Do you see why I chose this?
I’m embarking on this ambitious project, I want to be successful, and many of the activities I do – walking marathons and travel, especially – will need a certain amount of blessing and protection.
This particular mantra is also great for starting new projects and for travelers.
For 365 days, I will recite this mantra at least 108 times per day on my mala beads.
There are 108 beads strung together that people can use to recite their mantras with, and then wear them as a necklace or bracelet.
Why 108? The ancient Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters. 54 x 2 = 108 – a sacred number, representing the masculine and feminine, or shiva and shakti.
The number 108 has sacred significance beyond just this: it’s a significant mathematical number and has other scientific and religious connotations.
If I have time during the day, I’ll recite one or two repetitions of the 108 mantras set. But I’ll strive to do 108 in the mornings.
I also like to listen to the catchy tune in this video while working:
Awhile back, I heard something about a power pose for confidence.
Whenever I start something new, or if I have certain fears that I know to hold me back on something, I lose my confidence.
How many of you can relate to that?
Standing with my feet a little wider than hip-width, and putting my hands on my hips, I assume a power pose.
Scientifically speaking, the power pose actually causes your body to release testosterone. This hormone has lots of functions in the human body, as we know, but it’s also a confidence-boosting hormone.
Standing for two minutes in this pose can measurably increase confidence.
Pairing some affirmations with this pose, I hope, will boost my confidence in general, but also with regards to this project.
I debated on whether to share these here – because they are deeply personal. But, in an effort to be in full disclosure about this project, I will share them.
These affirmations are ones that I wrote up to touch upon areas in which I would like to improve my confidence – and intentionally face my fears:
- I am successful in my endeavors.
- I live in service to others.
- I am confident.
- I am an artist, writer and a life-teacher who makes a living doing all these things in sync.
- I run a well-known, successful website, podcast (yet to come) and video channel.
- I write awesome, compelling, best-selling books.
- I am in this for the long haul: spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
- I live in alignment with my values.
- I am a philanthropist.
- I am still. I am listening.
Together with 60 minutes of meditation, reciting mantras and affirmations, these take about 1 hour, 15 minutes each morning.
I wrote them out on simple, lined index cards:
10 Thousand Steps per Day
May day job keeps me pretty active, and it’s relatively easy to make it to 10K steps – especially after a walk with my dog.
In the last couple of weeks, I have reached 10K steps every day except for two days: on Fridays. I am in my office more on Fridays, and even with a 45-minute long walk after work, I still haven’t managed to reach 10K steps.
But, now I know to plan for that. I can take short breaks where I get out of my office and get some steps in.
I can also plan for a longer walk on those days with my walking buddy, Vinny. He’s my large rescue dog who grew from about 12 pounds when I got him to about 112 pounds.
He’s a gentle giant to his “pack” – extended family, husby and me – but he’s rather grumbly to anyone who’s not part of his pack.
It makes for interesting walking experiences sometimes.
I’m still glad we rescued him and glad that he’s a fierce protector of my safety – especially as I start training for the walking marathon.
Speaking of Walking Marathons…
I am having serious difficulty finding walking (only) marathons. If you know of one, would you drop me a line?
There are a number of regular marathons that are friendly to walkers, but I had no idea that walking marathons weren’t as popular.
There are sites online about walker-friendly marathons. Right now, I know of these nine.
However, they all include runners, as well. These particular marathons don’t fall in the time-frame in which I’m looking: August.
There is one race listed in September, but it’s in Portland, OR – nearly 3,000 miles away from where I live. It seems silly to fly 3,000 miles to walk a race to then fly 3,000 miles back.
But, why am I walking you ask?
It would be so much easier if I were a runner, huh?
But here’s the thing: walking is attainable for me. I have flat feet and, effectively, an extra bone in my arch – confirmed by x-ray when I was 12 years old.
This means my feet fall asleep when I run.
I turned to walking shortly after an abysmal cross country season when I was 14 and never looked back.
I was inspired by a book called, Walker’s Journal: Experiencing America on Foot – by Rob Sweetgall (not an affiliate link) who walked through ALL 50 states to prove that we humans are designed to walk – and we can do it indefinitely.
I found this book lying around at my sister’s house when I was 13. She didn’t even know she had it.
I asked if I could borrow it and devoured it in one sitting – the man who walked America!
I got out my best pair of tennis shoes right after that and proceeded to step outside and walk for the next two hours.
I choose to align with being “a walker.” Unless a person is wheelchair-bound or bed-bound, we all walk.
We humans are designed to walk long distances.
Think about nomadic societies that wandered hundreds of thousands of miles during their lifetimes.
It’s an accessible activity for all – no matter who you are. It just takes putting one foot in front of the other – and even shoes can be optional. (Though I don’t go anywhere without mine.)
Walking can be aerobic and it can be a social activity or a solitary one. Walking makes it easy to focus on meditation, too.
Since my LIFE journey is a sacred one, I can do sacred walking.
THAT’S why I would like to find a walking marathon. Because, effectively, it’s also a spiritual journey.
I also am thinking about raising money for this project to donate to a charity either in the US or abroad – there are many that need a boost.
So many current marathons support cancer research, veterans, and other scientific research. That’s great!
But, honestly, I kind of want the one I do to be about supporting causes that align specifically with my values, encourage others to embrace walking, and as a spiritual journey.
Perhaps I should make up my own course, raise money and upon completion, donate it all.
What’s holding me back here is organizing one on my own: there’s the publicity, getting sponsors, creating the course, registering participants, etc., etc.
Since I’m a one-person operation, this is something I’ll be thinking about, but not quite sure how I’ll pull it off.
I would love reader suggestions if you have them! In the meantime, I’ll be continuing with my 10K steps a day.
The Book of the Month: The Power of Silence by Carlos Cataneda
I started this book on Friday night, and I have to say that I’m already impressed. I couldn’t believe how, almost immediately, Castaneda talks about mindfulness and intent.
I didn’t know this book was going to go into that, but I’m pleasantly surprised that a Native American shaman (Don Juan) speaks of mindfulness and intent like he’s been hanging out with Buddhist monks.
I love it!
I’ve decided that if any readers decide to read along each month, I’ll put up two pinned threads on my Facebook page, Intuitive and Spiritual.
I’ve had a couple folks express interest in doing projects of their own.
The first thread will be the theme and intentions of the month: Theme and Intentions – April LIFE Project
The second thread will be the book of the month. The Power of Silence – Pinned Thread
If folks want to leave comments and have conversation, I’ll spend time on my Facebook page on Monday evenings from 9-10 pm.
The Tree of Life Coloring Book
Doing hand-drawn images takes awhile, but this project stemmed from a Tree of Life post I did at the New Year in 2017.
It was all about intention and fits well with this project.
I’m on the next-to-last drawing, and with one more to go, I’m starting the marketing process for publication. All subscribers to the blog (the first 50) will get a physical copy if you tell me you’re interested in having one.
LIFE Happens Days
On this journey, I know that “life happens.”
I’m going to allow myself ten LIFE happens days: 10 different times during the year, I will allow “slips” – days where I know I won’t be able to fulfill all my intentions.
I realize getting 10K steps in on a day where I’m traveling or when I’m sick might be difficult. So, I’m building into my project the “LIFE happens” days and will take one if I need one – up to 10.
I’ll mark down the date and will share on subsequent posts when I use those.
And now…I will continue on this journey of intention – of facing my fears and living life according to my values.
It will be a year-long process of getting from point A to point B, but this is all about the journey.
At the start of May, I’ll summarize what happened in April and outline what May will look like.