Timeless Me

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Timeless Me

I’m a geek. A tech guy. I spend most of my day sitting on my ass and staring at my iMac. I’m vegan and gluten-free, so I generally think that I eat pretty well, but the constant activity (in front of the computer) in order to do things like finish projects and get paid doesn’t leave much time for other things like exercise (or so I tell myself).

It is with this prelude that I received an email from Blaine, a marketing manager for Siminars. Siminars is sort of like a cross between TED.com and what I’ve been doing for Pluralsight. They offer a library multi-part courses but, rather than being focussed on teaching a particular skill the way Pluralsight is, it’s more about the types of topics one might learn about at TED with an emphasis on self-improvement.

Hey, I’m not going to knock improving oneself. I know I’ve got a lot to improve on, even if the term “self-help” kind of makes me cringe.

Blaine specifically wanted me to take Deepak Chopra’s new course called Timeless You — which, in general terms, is about slowing the aging process by taking better care of yourself. As I said, I’m well aware that I’ve got areas for improvement, and being familiar with Deepak Chopra’s work (who isn’t?), I was interested. In exchange for a free run through this course (and an Amazon gift card), I’d write an honest blog post (or series of blog posts, as the case may be) about my reaction and experience with the course.

I’ve decided to do a series of posts as I go through the course, rather than one big post at the end, so I can better organize my thoughts and reactions when they’re fresh in my head.

Perception is Reality

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Timeless Me

The modules/chapters/sections/whatever you want to call them are short. 15 – 20 minutes each. This is shorter than I expected but it means they are pretty quick and easy to go through. Each module is split into a few sections with a blog post and maybe an activity or something to go with it. Not all of them have a video. I’m really more interested in listening to Deepak espouse wisdom like an Indian Yoda with nuggets like “you are in a prison with no bars…this prison is your conditioning” than reading the extra stuff, but I get it. I create online training courses, so I understand the value of using different media to help emphasize the point. So far, I’m interested, but there’s really like 4 minutes of Deepak footage total.

The videos themselves are very well produced. High-def, looks like a Vimeo player. From a technical standpoint, there were no glitches — I never had to wait for the videos to buffer, which I often have to do with high-def videos that aren’t YouTube (including Vimeo) — if they’re self-hosting these videos, they’ve got an awfully nice CDN delivering the content.

I should point out that this course is co-sponsored by grandparents.com. I should further point out that I am not a grandparent. I think that the general ideas are probably applicable to anyone, but the specifics may be outside my demographic — especially when we start talking about biological age vs. chronological age. This lesson is all about changing your perception of what aging means, which, I dunno…I’m 35. Sometimes I feel old, but that’s just relative to where I’ve been. In general, I’m not really feeling over-the-hill. That doesn’t kick in until you’re 40, right?

I am a healthy such-and-such

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Timeless Me

Part two of Timeless You is called “Live Your Perfect Age”. It leads off with a guided meditation (of sorts) where you visualize a number that represents an age within the last 15 years you would like to be. This is your “biostat” and you’re instructed to repeat a mantra 5 times a day: “Every day, in every way, I am improving my physical and mental capacity. My biostat is set at a healthy __ years of age — I look and feel a healthy __ years old.”

Again, I’m probably at the bottom end of this demographic. 15 years ago, I was 20, and while, sure, there are probably things about being 20 I’d like again, I was not very healthy — in general — when I was 20. In fact, I was kind of anorexic, often forgoing or forgetting to eat meals and the stuff I did eat was often boxed crap from the frozen aisle. So, I decided on a somewhat more modest 25.

Now, I understand that the power of mantras is in believing that they can work. It’s a way of hacking your brain and, in fact, Deepak explains this a bit later in the module. Does knowing that make it less likely to work? I’ve always had a hard time with this, because I understand what it’s trying to do and, in so understanding, know that it’s not some magical or mystical thing going on, it’s more of a self-fulfilling prophecy…like the power of positive thinking — if you think positively you end up being generally in a better mood with a more positive outlook. I’ve always had a hard time with that, too.

This module concludes with another 2 minute clip of Deepak talking. (And I have to say, the jewels studding his glasses do a lot to diminish the Buddha-on-the-Mountain aspect of his lessons.) But the highlight was the guided meditation. Not so much because of what it was, but because, when Deepak was relaying the mantra, he, of course, needed to leave room for the listeners to enter in their own age. He started off with an example “so if you were 65 years of age…” and then repeated it again with no age, leaving the blanks in place, ending with the line “I am a healthy such-and-such.” E and I found this hilariously funny and couldn’t stop laughing about it until we went to bed. Healthy such-and-such, indeed.

Persistence of time

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Timeless Me

The third module (I’m just going to call them modules, since that’s what Pluralsight calls them) is about time. Specifically our perception of it, which is all that really matters. It leads with this quote by Albert Einstein explaining his theory of relativity:

If I burn myself on a hot stove, that fraction of a second seems like an eternity. But if I’m with a beautiful woman, even eternity seems like one second. It’s gone in a moment. It’s never enough.

It then asks you to do an activity that you don’t like for five minutes and an activity that you do like for five minutes to illustrate this point. I admit to skipping this since we all know what this feels like, really, and I spend enough time a day alternating between not having enough time to finish the thing I’m working on and doing something that drives me nuts because it’s taking so long.

It then proceeds to suggest that time is subjective, but your body interprets your experience of time as a biological response. This introduces the concept of “biological age” vs. “chronological age”.

Chronological age is what we typically consider to be aging. And you have hang-ups about particular numerical values based on chronological age. But if you can get past these hang-ups and preconceptions, then you can ultimately decrease your biological age. In other words, you will never be 25 again, but you can, possibly, feel like you’re 25 again.

One way to hack the way your brain interprets time is through meditation — an act in which you are totally focussed on what your body is doing (which lengthens your perception of time). Even brief meditation (like 3 minutes brief) can accomplish this.

This module came right as I was directed to this TED talk from a post on the Pluralsight blog:

Watch the talk, because it’s worth it, but the gist is that generally positive people perform better and are more creative. I like performing better and being creative, so this pushes being positive up on my list of things to do. One of the things that talk mentioned that can help you have a more positive outlook is meditation. Hey, common thread. So some good timing in watching that video and this lesson in the Timeless You course convinced me that, yeah, meditation is probably a thing I should try (again).

I’ve never been able to stick with it in the past, but I’m hoping that meditating in small increments might be more manageable and more something that I can get into the habit of doing.

You’re a body of light!

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Timeless Me

Module 4 is about changing your perception of your body. Typically, we think of ourselves as slabs of meat. Maybe not in those terms exactly, but we generally have the idea that our bodies — those things that house our brain and our thoughts and pretty much every we are — is a physical thing, which eventually crumbles and decays.

The problem with thinking about your body as a physical thing is that eventually physical things fall apart. Your car needs to go to the shop to get pieces of it replaced, oil changed, etc. Your computer hard drive eventually decides it’s spun one too many cycles and stops working. Things break and need to be replaced.

You are not a thing that can be replaced nor are your parts things that can be (easily) swapped in and out like parts of a car or a computer. But if you expect that, at some point, your body is going to break down and fall apart, it probably will. Instead, this module encourages you to see yourself as a body of light the way Vedic seers saw it — a part of everything in your surroundings.

This module ends with a short clip of Deepak talking about this concept after a series of exercises describing the premise. The clips are so short that I wish they could all be joined into a longer video, but then, if that was the case, probably I wouldn’t read through the other stuff. Still, I feel like there are parts that have been cut out or cut short, and I wish those were included.

As to the concept of seeing myself as a body of light? I’ll get back to you. From a quantum physics perspective, it’s not that hard to grasp, in theory. But in practice, it’s hard to “see the code” like in The Matrix, to step outside of seeing everything as physical objects and, instead, see them as representations of light reflecting off of masses of particles. Or…something.