A Dream Journal Series – Remember

  • Date: 19th January 2020
  • Lucidity: 4 / 10
  • Vividity: 8 / 10
  • Realism: 8 / 10

I take off my heavy rain jacket. It hasn’t rained for days or even weeks, why would I need it on my journey to the end.

I can feel that I am near, I open the map and continue my way towards a row of mountain tops, a peak that runs across the landscape. I’d heard something about these a long time ago and only remembered once my journey took me to the top. I was looking out across the vastness which was the end of the world.

As far as the eye could see, I was at the peak between everything humankind knew and everything else which was beyond the wall of mountains I was now standing upon. I knew it was special, that it was a place not many had been before, to be able to look upon the a space that was as if infinite beyond my sight was frightening and yet sobering. So barren, so distant. Ahead of me lay the path I was to take along the mountainside. The map was vague, incomplete, I was somewhere that was not there, but I knew where it was and I knew where I had to go. Some time after, I’d made it back down and was met by a beautiful riverside town. The day seemed to glow with happiness, with energy, the bluest skies I’d seen and biggest sun in the sky seemed to meet this town. The buildings were of beautiful golden mud type, the ones you see in the old Egyptian deserts, buzzing with life and that’s what it was, the sounds and smells I could here were reminiscent of a lively marketplace beyond the walls. There was a feeling of wanting nothing more than to join them.

I followed the path beside the river and came to a small bridge onto a back alley into the town. The alley was small, full of old used large water bottles , those you would see in the 20th century offices that refill the water machine, I felt these were out of place but I did not question it. I opened my map.

The rain came pouring down heavily as if there was no mercy for me having left my rain jacket behind. Running in all directions, I looked for shelter and found one after having being absolutely soaked from head to toe. I was now cold, wet and shivering with fear. The two who’d taken me here were getting anxious and I’d kept muttering that we were near, that we were so close but looking at the map, I could not remember. Zooming in and out of the on the electronic device I held, I couldn’t seem to find where I’d come from. The place I’d left my jacket was the key to finding my way back but where was that. The map looked nothing like I had known when I was last here.

I lead the way into the marketplace crossing roads with cars zooming by. The noises I remember, reminiscent of an ancient market place was now drowned by machines and turning motors. It made me feel a daze with direction. We walked deeper into the marketplace but nothing felt familiar, I kept closing and opening my eyes trying to take me back to where I was and then a flash of memory came by. Blue bottles. Alleyway. Riverside.

I opened the map again and narrowed the search down with the criteria in mind. There was this crossing between rivers that met to become one, something told me to go there and so we went back and tracked our way to the outskirts of the city where the river lay. A familiar alleyway approached and I saw the blue bottles as if I’d seen them before. I knew this was the way, that we are another step closer to finding what I had found all those years before, if only; if only I could remember what that was.

The End.

Feature image – Hiking the Great Lakes District, UK reminiscent of the journey taken to the End of the World. Taken on the 21st of April 2019

Habits

It’s interesting but not unexpected that when we talk about our habits, the first thing that comes to mind are our bad habits.

We all have them, those bad habits which have woven themselves into the fabric of our very existence. Those habits that you remember your mum telling you not to do all those years ago which you just can’t help but do them even today.

But look, I’m not here to talk about those “bad” habits because frankly, I don’t think they’re too important to think about. In fact, what I’m really here to talk about, are the good ones. You didn’t think there was such a thing? well, let’s explore.

Clear your thoughts about everything you have ever known about habits because it’s likely that all you know and can think of are the habits your mum has been telling you you’ve been doing wrong all your life. Now think about something that you do each and every day that is part of your routine that you know helps you get through that day or week. Here’s a tip, start small. Here’s another tip, think about how this habit makes you feel. Here’s an example below:

Good HabitFeelings/ A sense of…
Making the bedAchievement – First of the day
Imagining what the day ahead looks likeComfort – Knowing what lies ahead and what needs to be done
Putting down the toilet seat before you flushAssurance – No bacteria flushed into the air
Reading before bedExcitement – Adventure time!
5 minute walk every 30 minutes on the computerHealthy – Taking care of your wellbeing

The example above is purely an example only, the individual may have very different habits or even those which are the same but make them feel or have a sense of something totally different. That’s why habits are unique to you and only you have the power over them (or on the flip side, them over you!).

So yes, we all do have good habits that make us a better person even if only ever so slightly. What I wanted to point out was that habits should not be seen as a negative in our lives.

I find it interesting how throughout most of our lives, we grow up being told that habits are bad and that we should not have them. I now realise that habits are one of the most important things in life to have. Having an in-depth and clear understanding of how habits work, how they motivate you, how to build them for you and shape them to our will can truly change our lives in almost every way.

“We are the sum of our actions, and therefore our habits make all the difference.”

Aristotle

What makes us who we are is the habits we make, the things that we do day to day without us even consciously having to think about it. Imagine being able to have great habits be an automatic and natural process of your everyday life, how much could we achieve? how far could we take that? The problem is that with every habit, it takes time to build. The time you put into building these positive habits can take days, weeks, months or even years so the best time to start applying these is always today. But why is it such a time-consuming exercise? It is because you are fighting with your weapon in which is your willpower. Often, willpower is said to be like a muscle that one can train and build. I have not only found this to be incredibly true but also a lot tougher to do in practice than in words. Our willpower is (I dare say) even tougher than building our physical muscles! The fight is in our heads, our minds, something no one else can really help you “train” but yourself, that is what makes it so difficult.

Don’t let the above dissuade you, however. There are many techniques to help you tackle and “trick” your mind into strengthening those habits.

The most common is to start small and simple to achieve. You see, when you achieve something you set out to accomplish, no matter how big or small, the chemical reactions in your body change, you get a feeling of satisfaction through the release of numerous “happy” chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Let’s not get bogged down into the science of what each one is all about but it’s least to say that they encourage you to keep going, to keep doing what you are doing. One small step at a time, one small success after another can lead to big long term gains and before you know it, you’ve been building positive habits without you even knowing it.

Another common technique is to recognise and remove OR transform “triggers” into something more positive. Triggers are usually subtle things that bring upon what the action of the habit is. For example, seeing fried chicken might be a trigger for you to instantly think you’re hungry and in need for it (my personal weakness), if this is something you are trying to change, you can try to avoid known locations of KFC’s OR turn the sight of KFC into a reminder to do 10 start jumps, for example. That’s probably not the best example for everyone so here’s one that more down to Earth, how about when you see everyone around you pull out their phones on a crowded bus or train, that is usually a trigger for you to do the same even if you are scrolling through nothing of use. Try noticing that trigger each time you see it, then try doing something else when you notice it, such as pulling out a book (which is my trigger response too!) or closing your eyes to rest for a few minutes. Remember, triggers usually lead to the action in which becomes the habit; to overcome them, notice what triggers you and change them to something positive.

Finally, always remember that everything good in life takes time, if you falter at first, don’t give up! Sometimes it might be good to log your record number of hours or days you’ve been able to work on something but sometimes that can also be so unforgiving. Be forgiving to yourself, please; after all, we’re only human.

This is a big topic, there’s a lot of literature about it and I’ve only touched on the tip of the iceberg, my own little blurb and experience of it. What are your thoughts on it? Are habits something you think about? Do you want to change anything in your life right now and want to know how your habits could help you do so? PM me and let’s have a chat!

Thanks for reading, learning and being a better you ❤ Love to all, Jason

Feature image – A chicken representing my dangerous trigger, the fried chicken! taken on the 26th of March 2016.

Goals of 2020 – Shifting Habits

2020; but before I delve into the new year, I must reflect upon the last.

How would you describe 2019? Was it what you expected?

Incredibly enough, yes. A large part of 2019 went on as expected. To my surprise, a lot of predictions made about the year were indeed correct and the success of those goals set for the year demonstrate that with a cheerful glow. For a year to seem so full of uncertainty, how did I at the other side find it to be so foreseeable? Looking back, I think it has a lot to do with knowing myself quite well. If you’d asked me a year ago how do I’d balance my work life, my travels and my good health in this new country, I’d answer it in the exact same way I would now. I’d say that I’d promised myself not to overwork even if the conditions here in London were different back home, I’d say that I’d make sure to travel for the love of music, culture and the people and all three have been what exploring has been all about this year; finally, I’d say that I’d find a way to keep healthy in my own means, that involves something I will both enjoy and keep me in good shape and not only has that been true, but it’s also been incredible for the finances, now with me cooking healthy meals more than ever and cycling to and from work.

What was harder than I anticipated this year was the ability to really be a part of a community here. It’s hard to say what happened throughout the course of the year to cause this feeling because even though I felt like I did try (for example, dancing classes, board game nights, joining an esports community). Why is it so that I don’t yet “feel” I was part of a real strong community? This is a tough question to answer and my first blog post for the year will try to answer this, but for now, let’s stick to goals.

Like every year I inscribe my goals, dreams and passions for the upcoming year. This year we see more bigger, bolder and challenging goals than the previous, wish me luck!

  1. A sense of community – I’m cheating by bringing this one over from 2019 but to me, it’s unfinished. I underestimated how tough this was to achieve, maybe it’s London, maybe it’s me? Check out one of my early posts in Jan 2020 for a deeper look into it but for now, there’s more I can do to uphold this goal of mine and it is a challenge I will take on head first. To summarise, I am in search to make a deep connection with a community here in London, i.e be an integral part of at least one community organisation or group by the end of 2020.
  2. My road to Engineering Chartership – I love being an engineer for so many reasons, the work I do is satisfying, challenging and gives me purpose and meaning. That’s why, I am taking on a great challenge to take the first steps towards Engineering Chartership showing a dedication to the field and respect for all those who have come before me and shared their combined wisdom. I’ve already set up an ambitious timetable separate to this blog, wish me luck.
  3. Travelling and exploring – 2019 was an absolutely incredible year of experiences gained from travelling and exploring. I am still in total reflection of everything that has happened in the past year but in summary I have been totally humbled and have grown in ways of empathy and understanding that have helped reshaped some of my core beliefs and ideals. It’s important to remember that my travels this year will continue to be led by my love for music, culture and people just as it was in 2019. What I must do this year however is to make sure I meet more people along the way! How about, set a goal to go to at least one event where people gather (non music festival related) per holiday.
  4. Advanced cooking and baking – Here we go! ready for Jason’s masterclass? cause he’s not ready at all to do one hah! But with that being said, from knowing pretty much nothing about cooking or baking at the beginning of 2019 and now making myself delicious meals (I rarely go out and eat now because let’s face it, I can pretty much make the same at home myself), I’ve been pretty happy with myself. The question is, how do I continue to challenge myself in the field? Well, how about some real entries into the cookbook? Well that’s my goal, let’s get a cookbook going this year! (or maybe a spreadsheet, let’s see about that!).
  5. Sunday me day – This is something I am bringing back from my former 2018 years. 2019 was a tough year to keep up with this because I was always on my toes, but now I am more settled, I want to bring back Sunday me day. What does that involve? It’s easy, it’s relaxing, it’s a break from having to “do” things. I make sure nothing is on the calendar for Sundays and I make it a day to do whatever feels right, it could be anything from sleeping, blogging, gaming for a whole days end. But what I am really looking forward to is turning the day into a weekly “activity” day. Let’s say I want to learn more about knitting. I would set up what it looks like to do a 5 day course in knitting and over the course of 5 Sundays, I would practice the art. It’s self learning, but doing something that makes me happy and learning a new skill at the same time.
  6. Reading – Does anyone know how I can learn to read faster? Seriously, I want to read 50+ books a year but only get through a pinch of that if I am lucky. It doesn’t make it any easier that I always tend to pick pretty thick books! I want to and must read more this year, substantially more. I am setting myself a goal of 24 books this year, it’s going to be tough, 2 books per month and I’m already a bit behind. It’s something I love to do so let’s make it a priority.
  7. Fitness – Let’s be honest here, cycling on average half an hour a day for the year, I don’t think I can top that and I’m not sure I need to. I’m happy with my fitness levels, I feel healthy and great! Unless I suddenly have the urge to join a sumo class or some sort, let’s be humble and proud to keep doing what I’m doing. 30 minutes on average each day for the year cycling. GO! 🙂
  8. Meditation & lucid dreaming – I began the practice of meditation over 10 years ago and what ties closely with that was the ability to learn to lucid dream. The peace and joy it often brought me when I practised these and even today, I still meditate, only the meditation that I have learned to embed into my life is done throughout the day in small 5 minute chunks. If you spend enough time with me you sometimes notice I pause and go all quiet, those are moments of clarity of mind and deep thought. I do want to try something new though, I’d like to attend some regular meditation classes and I do want to recall more dreams and have more lucid dreams than I do now. Let’s set a goal of joining at least 5 meditation sessions and writing at least 6 dreams this year in this blog.

So with that, I leave you with a thought. What are your goals for the year? How do you plan to be the best person that you can be during the year. Comment or message me personally, I would truly like to know OR have you simply not thought about it?

Thanks for reading. With Love, always. Jason ❤

P.S. Did you notice with the last 3 goals representing the harmony of the mind, body and spirit/soul?

Feature image – The London to Brighton Bike ride supporting the British Heart Foundation completed on the 16th of June 2019.

Variety

My great aunt once said that the key to living a long and healthy life was in the variety. She said never to be picky with the foods you eat, that a good variety of all foods in your diet will keep you healthy for many years to come. I must of been no more than 6 years old when she told me this. I believed her, and never stopped believing.

Today, I eat everything and anything, in moderation and in great vast variety. I am never one to turn down an interesting cuisine, an odd dish or a crazy food (yeah, even the creepy crawlies!). In fact, I really enjoy them! It’s one of the reasons why I love travelling for food, for the cultural food experience. I always have that feeling of “give me something your mum would cook you”! and never have I turned back.

To me, food in all it’s forms is a blessing, how lucky I am to have food on the table, to have the meat of another animals sacrifice in which I thank deeply in this circle of life; to have the greens that mother Earth provides. This keep me humble, to not pick and choose, to not chase or fight but just enjoy the goodness that life brings.

Sometimes, I’d like to attribute this to my good health, my strength both body and in mind and my immunity to allergies and intolerences. Ofcourse, I’d never really know if it was really the reason for it, but better not take that chance and let’s keep eating our way through the world.

Thanks for reading ❤

Feature image – In North Korea, myself and four other travellers delve into a classic Korean BBQ. The traditional “Banchan” refers to the variety of up to 12 small dishes which are shared amongst your peers. This was taken somewhere in Pyongyang, North Korea on the 8th of March 2016.

Questions – How do we find purpose in our lives?

How do we find purpose in our lives?

I think the key is being thoughtful about what your real purpose in life is and what really drives you, motivates you and gets you excited about things and making sure that the career choices you make, the kinds of organisations you work for, the kinds of skills you cultivate are aligned with that broader set of interests and not just letting it happen by accident. It’s also simply about just believing that it’s possible, that whatever your purpose in life you’ve found is, that it is achievable against all odds. Always remember, the universe is on your side no matter how much it feels otherwise; like a friend once told me, you just have to ask for it.

Feature image – On one eventful day, a group of strangers dressed in yellow raincoats set out on a mission to share laughter, joy and happiness throughout the city. Taken at St Pauls Cathedral in London, United Kingdom on the 22nd September 2019