Book Review: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

Naked in a hot tub with an author is not a situation I find myself in often. In this case, it was a quite a while ago when I spent a summer at a yoga center. I didn’t know it at the time, but the writer in question was about to publish a book he must have been working on during my summer there. I’m not in the book, and the whirlpool nudity isn’t germane to the review, but I thought it might be a fun way to grab your attention. Anyway, I finally got around to re-starting and finishing his work. Yoga is an ancient tradition spanning thousands of years, and I eventually got into a daily practice, so while I doubt the author remembers me or will ever see this review, if he does, I trust he will forgive me for the tardy book report.

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10 Techniques I Used to Bicycle 500 Days in a Row

So, this just happened. After reaching 16 months of consecutive bicycle riding couple of weeks ago, the blurb I put in my 500th bike ride in a row on Strava sums it up well:

I ain’t fast, suck at hills, don’t have a ton of followers, or a fancy bike, but I git ‘er done. Different parts hurt and I’m plum tuckered out most days. So mebbe a forced break’s a-comin’. Or mebbe not. I Just Keep Pedalin’.

-moi

Thing is, I didn’t plan on this streak. I just one day realized that if I rode a little bit every day, it might be easier than a long ride every few days. And like my other streaks (yoga for 7+ years and walking, writing and virtually no flour each for 3+ years), at some point, a little voice started saying “Don’t Break The Chain.” It’s a little phrase attributed to Jerry Seinfeld writing jokes every day for a year, which he said wasn’t true. But it’s still a good handle for a challenge.

In a world where half a million Americans have now died of COVID-19, millions of Texans were without power for most of a week during the bitter cold snow and ice storm, and some still have no water or water damage. Plenty of other injustice continues: price gouging, racism, white supremacy, homophobia, sexism, unemployment, poverty, and climate change just to name a few. I know it really matters very little what one zaftig mid-aged bicycle dude in Austin did in his bike. Yet, life goes on. Content must be created, stories must be told, and horns must be tooted. So since you’re here, it’s like the Buddhist path: once started, may as well finish.

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The Heart of the Matter

It was the end of a cool autumn day, and I was sitting on my yoga mat. I thought back to the morning (albeit late morning); my ablutions were complete and I got out on my daily constitutional. (That means walk for those not in the American South.) Walking is good for the heart, I thought, and then I remembered that I was supposed to have some heart tests this year. They were too expensive without insurance, so I didn’t have the tests. What with the pandemic and not getting younger, I’ve been wrestling with the beast that is U.S. health insurance (and losing). So after my walk, I read some stuff on the internet and called some people.

On one of those calls, I got some bad news from a friend, a colleague, really. They were pretty ill, but getting through it. Although I wasn’t raised to pray to a deity, this person was and has a good heart; I’ve always admired their sunny disposition. I’ve also known some Quakers and always appreciated their practice of sitting in silence, and their concept of “holding someone in the light.” So tonight after my bike ride and daily yoga, I flipped my Insight Meditation Timer app over to meditate and chose a five-minute one about compassion in honor of my friend. Usually I wait until I’m hitting the hay to meditate, so I tend to pass out before it’s done, or it doesn’t make much of an impact. Today, for some reason, it stuck with me.

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Gratitude Journaling: Helpful Tool or Waste of Time?

You’ve probably heard this advice from well-meaning magazine articles, self-help gurus, or spiritual advisers. Maybe you’ve even accepted it as the gospel truth: cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and it will change your brain, make you a happier, better-sleeping, nicer person who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, yada yada. Google it and up comes all manner of scientific studies proving it to be true. But is it? I mean, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Simply write things down you’re grateful for every day and through the magic power of gratitude your life will be better. Well, wait just a minute there. I’m going to call bullshit. Or at least for a time-out.

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On New Years Day of 2020, I Make Resolutions to… Hey, Is That Chocolate?

It’s the year 2020, a catchy number, and the start of a new decade. It’s a natural time to turn over a new leaf and start up some new habits. Lose weight, get organized, write that novel. But if you’re like most humans, after a few weeks most New Years resolutions have gone the way of holiday wrapping paper. A bold proclamation is now just a broken Hanukahmass toy sitting sadly in the corner. So why bother? Well, for some folks, they work. And as readers of A Dude Abikes know, I’ve had a fair bit of success with some changes. So here’s what I’m doing — and not doing — in 2020.

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Nostalgia for My Grandmother on Winter Solstice, the Longest Night of the Year

It’s winter solstice here in Austin, Texas, United States of America, and I’m feeling nostalgic. Not only because of the holidays, or working in a place with a long history here in town and in the country that’s closing down, or because a year ago I had ridden my bike alot more, and the year before that, even more. It’s mostly because my maternal grandmother died 20 years ago on December 22, 1998. This post is dedicated to her memory. (Check back after the holidays for more photos.)

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