Meditating On The Go

For the past two months, I have been working on my first book, a guide to stress management. While I began and continued working on this book, I put several of the methods within it to use, the most prominent method being breathing and meditation. Why meditation? Because if you can close your eyes and breathe, you can meditate.

Many of us who face daily commutes and deadlines can use meditation to calm ourselves down and relax ourselves, easing the built-up tension that the day has heaped upon us. Sadly, not many of us have taken the initiative to learn about basic deep breathing exercises, let alone meditation. It has been said that the most successful people practice meditation, from famous actors to industry moguls. So there is a proven crowd on the benefits of meditating.

One particular challenge that I face during the day is finding time to meditate. While I do make time either after I wake up or before going to sleep, there are times throughout the day where I need to meditate to de-stress and re-focus myself. Being that a positive meditation can take only 5-10 minutes, it’s all a matter of strategy and opportunity. Here are a few key points I’ve adopted for on-the-go meditation that you can practice.

1. Download A Meditation App

This one may be the most convenient way to meditate on the go. Back when CDs were popular, meditation CDs were a go-to. However, the guided meditations on these CDs ranged from 20 to 30 minutes in duration, which leaves a large chance for a meditation to be interrupted. Now and days, meditation apps are a solid go-to for meditating on the go. The most popular meditation apps are Stop, Breathe, & Think, Headspace, and Calm. Each of these apps have a wide variety of meditations with durations from 3 to 10 minutes, allowing you to enjoy a quick meditation or guided breathing on the go, whether you’re riding in a cab or taking your 15-minute break.

2. Add Soft Music To Your Playlist

Before I went the app route for my express meditations, my method was simply to play some soft music from my phone’s playlist in order to get my deep breathing or meditation done. If you’re experienced in meditation, this may be the better route compared to using an app, which is mostly for beginners or people who are experienced but prefer to be guided. Soft music, such as jazz or classical piano, can take the mind to a calmer place, which makes the deep breathing required for meditating even easier. Try to use music without lyrics, so your focus can be on the calming sounds. Meditating to a soft music track can take as little as 4 minutes.

3. Just Do It!

While apps and music are excellent aids to meditating on the go, when all else fails, just close your eyes and breathe. That in itself is the primary key to meditation. As long as you’re able to breathe, you can meditate. Focus on your breaths, the rising and falling of your chest and abdomen as you take each slow, deep breath, and you will be in that deep calming state in no time.

In the end, the motivation for meditation should be the feeling of a calm body and a calm mind. No matter where or how you meditate, when it’s done right, you will feel it.

Of Fragile Egos and Swollen Eyes

One day ago, an 18-year-old woman from Manchester, England, was punched unconscious by a man outside of a club at 3:30am. The reason for the assault? She simply told the man, “Sorry, I’m not interested,” after he and his friends harassed her.

In this era of immediate gratification, where even dating has become a matter of “swipe right/swipe left”, have men forgotten how to be gentlemen? More importantly, have they completely forgotten that women have the right to say no?

Speaking as a man who has been rejected more than his fair share of times, yes, I’m aware how much it sucks to be shot down by the opposite sex, to have that girl you’re trying to approach say that she’s not interested. Yeah, it can bruise your self-esteem.

The right thing to do is dust yourself off and move on. You pick up the pieces, reflect on it for a moment, then move forward.

What you DON’T do is attack the woman who politely turned you down.

Because of that man’s fragile ego, a young woman is now disfigured for all of the world to see. And this isn’t the first time an assault like this has happened under the same circumstances.

I’ve heard from women who are afraid to socialize because of the fear of something like this happening, beautiful women who have to deal with random men trying to flirt with them, when all they want to do is go about their business. I’ve never been in those women’s shoes, but I absolutely understand their frustrations and fears.

Recently, I watched a YouTube video of the online gaming personality Sweet Anita, and in the video was a clip that hammers this point home. While she was playing an online game of Overwatch, a man harassed her by asking her to let him lick her p***y. When Anita politely declined, he continued to make obscene requests. When she finally had enough and insulted him, there were people in the comments section of the video saying that Anita was wrong to do so. My reply? “Well, let’s see how well any of you handle unwanted sexual harassment.” And the point was made.

No woman has to say “yes” to a man’s advances if she doesn’t want to. Every woman should have the right to say “no.”

(Link to reference article below)

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/woman-man-turn-down-beaten-unconscious-manchester-not-interested-a9005661.html?amp

Why Refurbished Electronics?

Every day, I’m updated with tech news about the latest phones, tablets, and laptops. Most of these items cost hundreds to thousands of dollars when bought brand new from major retailers like Best Buy and Target, or online outlets such as Amazon. For the longest, however, my electronics selection has been refurbished. With the exception of my cellphones (of which I purchase new, mid-range models at affordable prices), the selection of my laptops and tablets have been refurbished models, ever since I purchased my first ThinkPad in 2003. For the most part, while they aren’t technological juggernauts (I wouldn’t recommend gaming on a Compaq Presario), for every day tasks, they get the job done, especially with things such as word processing and (surprisingly) music production. So, why do I recommend getting your electronics refurbished?

Price

Refurbished electronics can save you a lot of money if you know what to look for and where to look. Before I knew about how to search for the best bargains in used and refurbished electronics, I was pretty much window shopping at your average mom & pop store along 6th Ave in Manhattan. These guys would sell trash-tier electronics for the price one could get a brand-new baseline laptop or tablet at Staples or Best Buy. Sure enough, I figured out how to shop around local spots and even conventions. My go-to was the Marketpro Computer Shows, back when they used to visit The Bronx and White Plains. You could get a decent laptop for anywhere from $100 to $300, and that was before getting optional hard drive and memory upgrades, which were also affordable.

In more recent years, I’ve been able to find even better bargains on websites such as eBay. I purchased my first Samsung Chromebook through an eBay retailer for $50, and it works like new, with an exceptional battery life. I also visited a Canadian retailer site, Refurbio (refurb.io), for my latest laptop purchase, a Lenovo ThinkPad R61, which only cost me $60 with full software and hard drive upgrades. I’ve been passing along the word to my family and friends even since, especially hearing how many of them have dealt with not being able to afford replacement tech on short notice.

Quality

People assume that refurbished products lack in quality, but trust me. In the right hands, refurbished tech can last as long as brand new products. Before my latest laptop purchase, I had purchased a Compaq Presario CQ56 laptop for $200 from a local pawnshop. Do you know how long that laptop lasted me? 10 years. That’s right, a full decade before I’d need a replacement. 10 years of photo editing, music production, MAME arcade action, and the occasional DVD viewing.However, don’t assume that refurbished tech doesn’t require maintenance. The reason my Presario lasted so long was because I knew how to care for it. That meant the proper anti-virus software, making sure I avoided overheating (external fan add-ons can be extremely helpful if you know the right type to use), and not doing anything that would push the hardware to its limits, such as online gaming. Don’t worry, there are better refurbished laptops and towers out there for gamers too, but they also need the proper TLC if you want longevity.

Refurbished tablets are also reliable if you know what to look for. 9 times out of 10, you’ll end up finding a solid refurbished tablet on eBay (though you can get even better deals on JemJem if you absolutely need an iPad). I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 through eBay for $60, and, despite an annoying air bubble in the screen, it works well. Don’t worry, though. Other refurbished tablets may have their visual blemishes, but when it comes to functionality, they’re as satisfactory as new tablets. Just be sure to read the retailer descriptions before any purchases.

Eco-friendly

When you use a refurbished product, believe it or not, you’re doing your part in preserving the ecosystem. New computers and tablets require new parts, which are made from newly made plastic, steel, and other substances that fill up our landfills. When you purchase a refurbished piece of tech, that’s one more laptop, tablet, or cellphone that doesn’t end up in a landfill. Electronic waste is harder to recycle because of the parts it takes to make up the entire machine. You wouldn’t recycle an LCD screen the same way you would recycle a CPU or a heat sink. So, when you buy a refurbished laptop, that’s one less motherboard, one less chassis, and one less keyboard in the junkyard.

Also, one person’s piece of old, dated hardware can come in handy for the next person. The $60 ThinkPad R61 that I’m using to update this very blog at this moment originally retailed at $1,200 upon its release in 2007. That alone hinted at the quality I was purchasing. And as it turns out, I’m not alone in discovering the benefits of this particular laptop’s longevity. After a quick search of YouTube vids, I found that quite a few computer science majors and tech repair specialists have purchased used ThinkPad R61s to upgrade and customize for their needs. So while it may not be the flavor of the month, that refurbished piece of tech may be the workhorse that you never realized you needed.

Keep This In Mind

Refurbished tech may not be for everyone, but it will benefit those who look into making the purchase. A few things to keep in mind: make sure that the retailer you’re buying your tech from is certified (i.e. Microsoft Certified, Apple Certified, etc.). Anytime you purchase a refurbished piece of tech that has been certified by its respective company, you are getting a seal of quality that you won’t get from a non-licensed third party. Also, make sure that a warranty is included, whether it’s a 90-day or 1-year warranty. If for any reason your product is defective or malfunctions after you purchase it, you want to make sure that it can be repaired or replaced at no cost to you. Finally, research the product before hand. The last thing you want to do is purchase a tablet that will explode in your hands or a laptop that will burn your lap. Look up articles or video reviews that will give you the gist of what you’re about to buy. In the end, quality is everything, refurbished or not.

Your Life, Your Goals, Your Time

On April 29th, one of my favorite directors, John Singleton, passed away after suffering a stroke the week prior. At the age of 24, he was the youngest director and the first Black American director nominated for an Academy Award for his now-classic directoral debut, Boyz N Da Hood (1991).  The next 27 years of his life, he spent help pave the way for Black filmmakers with directoral efforts such as Poetic JusticeHigher LearningRosewood, the 2000 reboot of ShaftBaby Boy, and other movies, not to mention his efforts as an executive producer of projects such as Hustle & FlowBlack Snake Moan, and the FX television series, Snowfall. All before his death at 51.

A month prior, Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle was tragically murdered in front of one of his privately-owned retail stores. He had built his musical career with a series of mixtapes, one of them an infamous mixtape that he charged $200 per unit that generated waves of hype. He had done so much independently, by the time Atlantic Records approached him for a record deal, he had the option to refuse and stay independent. Instead, he agreed to a distribution deal that gave him complete creative control. He was also an avid business entrepreneur, opening stores in his own community, and a vocal supporter of the STEM program, in efforts to bring science, technology and mathematics courses to underserved communities. He had done more by the age of 33 than most people do by the age of 60.

Why do I bring up these two tragic deaths of men who have lived extraordinary lives?  Because there are so many of us approaching these ages who have not taken the opportunity to live out our dreams.  We are constrained by work, among other circumstances, and have put our own dreams on the back burner for the sake of our day-to-day. It has brought so many of us to the point of saying “I can’t do it” when we revisit our old dreams. Some of us say that we’re too old for one dream or another, others look at the financial side of things, the cost seemingly outweighing the reward. But for your own sake, don’t give up on your dreams.

If you believe you’re too old for a certain dream, there are people out there in their 40’s taking their first martial arts class, people in their 50’s taking their first art classes, even an 80-year-old grandmother in Japan who moonlights as a DJ after taking DJ-ing classes.  If you believe that money is an issue, there are people building careers as percussionists with nothing but wooden boxes or plastic buckets. And don’t assume you need the most expensive equipment to make your dream happpen. Affordable alternatives are always being made available; all you have to do is Google the right term and click on the right site. And if you believe you don’t have the time to pursue your goals, all you need is at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to make it happen, just enough time to make gradual process.

Don’t let your goals wither up and fade away. Use the time in your life to make a difference for yourself. You’ll thank yourself in the long run for not giving up.

Heeding Malala’s Wisdom

“I truly believe, that the only way to peace, is through reading, knowledge, and education.”
–Malala Yousafzai
Nobel Prize laureate

In recent times, Malala Yousafzai’s voicing of the importance of education has become a global beacon for progress. When she survived an assasiation attempt on her life by the Taliban, not only did it strengthen her desire to learn more, but it made her voice on the matter stronger. Malala highlighted the importance of literacy and knowledge, striving to encourage young girls in her native Swat Valley in Pakistan to seek out education, as well as helping impoverished children around the world attain the privilege of being able to learn in a classroom setting. Something as simple as reading and learning, something that so many of us take for granted, people overseas are willing to die for. Are reading and education as powerful as tools as Malala makes them out to be? I would say yes.

Less than a year ago, as an act of curiosity, I began visiting the book section of a local thrift shop. Books that had been discarded were avaliable for less than a dollar each. I would buy a new book every Saturday. From that time I first started my thrift shop book trips, three particular purchases stand out in my memory: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Gordon W. Allport’s The Nature of Prejudice, and an anthology of slave narratives, including The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and The Narrative of Olaudah Equiano aka Gustavus Vassa. Those books not only opened my eyes to my potental as a Black man, but gave me insight to the world around me, my own history, and the small ways I can better myself and contribute to the positive energy of this world. (I’ll expand on these ideas in future entries.)

Months after I had purchased those books, I purchased and started reading Russell Simmons’ Do You!, a book on self-improvement and self-empowerment. One wouldn’t expect a business mogul mostly known for contributions in hip-hop and fashion to offer intellectual and spiritual insight, but he did. Between speaking on incorporating meditation as part of a daily routine and speaking on taking initiative in your own life, Simmons’ book was a genuine eye-opener. His pearls of wisdom became embedded into my own life. I started incorporating his advice into my day-to-day with positive results. The more I read these books, among other influential books I would purchase, the more I started to transform my daily grind into a personal journey to better myself and share positivity with the people around me. I give God thanks for my spirit of perseverence. And it all started when I took a chance and began to read and learn, remembering Malala’s words that were quoted above.

Something as simple as reading the right book can open a person’s mind. It’s easy enough to blindly follow whatever is on the television, but to open up a book and process the words printed inside is to allow your mind to be awakened. So many of us who are literate take this gift for granted. We settle with just living our lives day in, day out, without taking a small opportunity to open a book and learn something new. And it isn’t necessarily an expensive thing to do. People find books in the bargain racks on a regular basis and gain a wealth of information. Reading the right book can help gain insight to the unfamiliar, helping you understand perspectives and viewpoints beyond your own. To read, learn, and educate ourselves as well as educating each other is the key to understanding each other.

My advice for you is to go to any place that sells books, find a book that can possibly open your mind, and start reading. It can be a biography, a book on world cultures, maybe a book exploring human nature. Read it and learn from it, and share that information with gratitude. Also, encourage others to read. Sharing productive knowledge and ideas is a great way to encourage each other as people, the key word being “productive”. For anyone who wants to help promote literacy, find ways you can volunteer your time and help. It’s as simple as googling “literacy volunteering”. And keep learning. Don’t limit it to inside a classroom. Education is a blessing.

To learn more about Malala Yousafzai and her activism, please visit:

http://www.malala.org