Spiritual Enlightenment on a Hill

Do you want to find yourself? I mean really find yourself… Find what you’re made of… Find what you have in you… And, find your deepest unreachable areas that only come out when you really push yourself and enter a zone of dopamine and endorphine release that can only be found when you go past your comfort zone. WAY PAST your comfort zone… Let’s dabble in this sacred arena… But first:

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

Back to finding our inner being…

There are many ways to look inside yourself. Most involve some form of calm, soothing, meditation and deep philosophical thought. You might find you get this in the shower, just before going to sleep at night, or even in the car during your long drive to work. However, I have discovered another place. One that might help you get deeper than you ever thought possible. Do you dig? Essentially this one seems contradictory to all of the other “calm” ways of finding you. This one revolves around getting your heart rate near or above 90% of your maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). If you aren’t familiar with your MPHR, or would like more heart rate information, please checkout my previous post, Heartrate Zones.

There is a caveat… Because we must keep this heart rate for a prolonged period of time (think fifteen or more minutes), you must not hit your lactic threshold (somewhere around 91.5% of your max heart rate). The reason is that when you hit this threshold, you absolutely cannot maintain your current stress level without utter failure within a few seconds. So, let’s shoot for a heart rate between 87% and 91% of our max. I chose 87% for a reason… This is the number when I get into a euphoric zone and my mind drifts into realms that normal sane people don’t wander in to. You can tell when you are around 87% because that is close to when you start hearing your heart beat in your ears. I’m not talking about dull thumps… I’m talking about turn your head and look to see who’s pounding a drum next to your face!

Ok… Let’s assume that you can find that heart rate zone… I call this zone the Third Eye Zone. Because it literally opens a gateway to your soul (alright, that sounds a bit hinky, but you get the gist!) Once there, we must remain there for a while. I prefer twenty or so minutes. This allows us to clear out the daily humdrum. It give you time to stop worrying about the bills, children, marriage, bills, work, bills… you get the point.

So now we’re in the Third Eye Zone (TEZ from this point forward). You will know you’re there because the road will be breathing. Trees and other objects around you will appear to bend and flux with each of your labored breaths. I find the easiest way to get into (and stay in) TEZ is by riding my bicycle up a steep (and long) hill. I need a hill that is steep enough that I’ll easily get into TEZ, and long enough that I can stay there for twenty plus minutes. For me, this means at least an 8% grade for two or more miles. These aren’t easily findable in all areas. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area that offers half a dozen or more of these bad-boys. If you can’t find a TEZ hill then you might want to try and get this euphoric state via biking hard or running hard without killer hills. I find this MUCH harder to sustain and dangerous to get into TEZ because of the high rate of speed it takes to accomplish this. Please use your best judgement if you don’t have a local TEZ hill.

I do not recommend EVER trying to hit TEZ while swimming. That is just sick! But, a stair machine might safely get you there.

Once you find the TEZ hill and get into your desired heart rate spend a few minutes smoothing out your thoughts. This is not hard because true TEZ makes it very hard to concentrate on life’s problems. Calm (or at least steady) your breathing and delve deep into yourself. Focus inward and start thinking those strange thoughts that you don’t like to admit you think. You will find the hills are actually easier to climb when in this state, because you sort of forget your on a hill, let alone riding…

Here is a sample of how my TEZ session goes:

Andrew and I are out on a long training ride (think 60+ miles at a good pace with a few TEZ hills in the middle). As I approach my TEZ hill I already start to calm and free my mind. Andrew and I usually talk throughout the entire ride, but talking stops when you hit a big hill. Instead of a conversation, if you’re near each other, talking on a big hill is more limited to things like, “holy shit,” “I can’t believe you talked me into this,” “I might walk up this one,” “ug,” “Did you say something?” and similar broken sentences. If you are truly in TEZ then you will not hold solid, coherent discussions.

Usually at the beginning of TEZ my riding glasses fog up. Sometimes (for some odd, unknown reason) only one lens fogs up. This happens because your hot head is changing the temperature of the lenses and you simply aren’t going fast enough (unless you’re Lance) to provide cooling wind to clear them. This is my first sign of entering TEZ.

Next, my thoughts wonder. I start thinking weird ideas. And, I find myself asking (internally), What did I just think? This is a good sign!

Finally, the flood of blood pulsing in my ears tells me, “Here we go!”

For me, TEZ begins right around 160BPM. And, my lactic threshold is ~166BPM. But, I don’t need to check my heart rate monitor, because I’m a pro at this stuff. Do it for a while and you’ll see what I mean.

Once the thoughts drift away, a new form of thoughts come in… These are deeper thoughts. More philosophical thoughts. I start working with the thoughts and turn them into discoveries. I find joy and excitement as I uncover mysteries. I unlock secrets and mystical tales. Most of all, I find the inner me. With fifteen to twenty minutes of this, I can really dig in and find some hidden gems.

The cool thing about TEZ is that even though you are suffering with immeasurable pain at climbing this Godforsaken hill, you don’t even notice it. As a matter of fact, if you hit TEZ just right, you will suddenly be at the top of the climb and not realize how it happened so quickly.

Try it! And, please let me know if it works for you.

Cheers,
Rip

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T’ai Chi and QiGong

T’ai Chi is a way of life. It is also a way of living… I am one of the longest surviving HIV+ people on the planet. I believe that there are manifold reasons for this. Also, there are many pieces to my “survival pie.” I stay very fit by lifting weights, riding my bikes, and running. I also try to maintain a healthy nutritional plan and eat the right things. I work closely with my support system (family, friends, community, articles, and so on) to insure that I stay positively motivated and supported as needed. I also challenge myself to create a more balanced life that evenly distributes my time and energy to family, fun, and business. Over the years I’ve struggled with my spirituality, but I still work on a daily basis to build this area. I coordinate with and stay in touch with several specialized doctors and always take my prescribed medication.

Along with these many things I do to keep myself healthy and sane, I also practice T’ai Chi. I know that this fits in the health and fitness category, but I thought a separate article was in order. I have tried many things in this area… Yoga, meditation, martial arts, and a combination of these and other things. However, I keep coming back to T’ai Chi. I believe that it is the perfect combination of relaxation, stretching, exercise, and meditation. And, I feel like a million bucks after each session! So, today is dedicated to this incredibly valuable exercise and art form.

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is held each year on the last Saturday of April. This year, it’s on Saturday, April 26, 2014. I recommend that everyone participates!

Before we talk about my routine, let’s tackle the primary benefits that I get out of my daily T’ai Chi ritual:

  • Start your day with a powerful inspiration
  • Posture improvement
  • Weight lifting enhancements
  • Balance (physical and mental)
  • Sinuses and allergies
  • Immune system strengthening
  • HIV supression
  • Hemophilia (joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are all stronger)
  • Meditation
  • Mindset and positive thinking
  • Stress relief
  • Spiritual strengthening
  • Motivation
  •  

    While most of these benefits are self explanatory and easy to understand, I thought I would chat briefly about hemophilia. As a hemophiliac, I have joint issues, bleeding concerns, along with all of the standard worries that folks in general have. I have found that T’ai Chi is very soothing on my joints and helps to strengthen the supporting structure (bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) for my joints. Suffice it to say that I feel I have fewer bleeds and problems when I’m practicing T’ai Chi on a daily basis. Along with weight lifting and cardio, I believe that T’ai Chi helps me avoid and repair injuries and especially bleeds!

    Let me describe how a typical training goes for me…

    I weight lift four days per week, ride my bike four days per week, and run three days per week. Many of these workouts overlap, because there are only seven days in the week. Also, I take one rest day per week to skip all of these workouts and give my body time to heal. That said, I do T’ai Chi seven days per week, and do not feel the need for a rest day from this relaxing and energizing routine. Also, I prefer to get my T’ai Chi fix the first thing in the morning. I’m talking about leaping out of bed, into my sweat pants, and getting busy! I like this for many reasons, but the primary one is that T’ai Chi is a great introduction to the day. It opens my mind, wakes me spiritually and physically, and gets my blood flowing in a gradual and energizing fashion.

    My session normally takes precisely sixty minutes. It is roughly broken down into thirds.

    I like to start with a sitting QiGong meditation for about twenty minutes. With my eyes closed, I evaluate and venture into each and every part of my body. This is an enlightening way to wake and take control of your mind and body. This time is also used for deep controlled breathing and really ramps you up for an energized day.

    After my meditation is complete, I move into a stretching and moving session of QiGong and T’ai Chi warm ups. This really gets my muscles warmed up and the blood pumping. As my twenty minute session of warm up continues I add to the speed and energy of the stretches. By the end of this session I am amped and ready to dive into the last section.

    Basically (for me) the first two sessions are about waking and opening my mind and body. It prepares my body and spirit for the last section; which is the actual T’ai Chi moves. I follow the Guang (also called: Kuang) Ping Yang (standard long) form of T’ai Chi that is covered perfectly by Bill Douglas in his DVD, Anthology of T’ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future, and book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & QiGong Illustrated.

    After completing this sixty minute routine, I literally feel like a new man. My recommendation is that everyone practice T’ai Chi on a daily basis. You will be amazed at what it does for your mind, body, and spirit!

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

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    The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search

    A sudden and powerful change happened to me on (or about) March 11, 2014. I was flipping through the pages of Men’s Health magazine and saw an ad titled “Are you fit? Healthy? Driven? Giving? Enter to win the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search.” The ad went on to say that one lucky winner would be featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

    I smiled and thought… I’m extremely fit. I’m very healthy. I’m over-the-top driven. And… I absolutely love giving. My smile eased a little and the gears started grinding in my head. I chuckled… But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized… I was cut out precisely for this competition.

    Then the doubt started creeping in. You know the doubt… The realist inside each of us. It was saying things like, “Dude, you’re 46 years OLD.” “You’re medication over the years has stripped fat from your cheeks and butt and stuck it in funky places!” “Life has put battle scars on you.” “There will be two dozen or more seriously good looking model-ish men competing in this among a field of hundreds of others.” Finally my inner demon said, “What possible chance do you think you have?”

    For a few minutes I nodded my head in agreement with the dark side of my mind. Then, a tipping point happened. I thought of John Belushi saying, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” I laughed again. And something neat happened… A glimmer entered my eye. And, I realized that this was doable. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but honestly what great outcome isn’t tough? I decided then and there that I would enter. The contest started on March 15, 2014 – so I stored this thought in the back of my brain, tore the page out, and got on with life.

    Jump to 3/15/14 – Some of the original negative thoughts started pouring in. I was nervous. Am I being silly? Before these bad feelings could bring me down, I suddenly had another thought… Has a hemophiliac EVER been on the cover of Men’s Health? I don’t know… Maybe..? Has an HIV+ person ever graced the cover of Men’s Health magazine? Again, I didn’t know, but figured probably… (I should know this stuff). Then it hit me – I know… That there has NEVER been an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, because I know them all! It was settled then and there… I opened the website and started my entry process.

    March is Hemophilia Awareness Month. For goodness sakes, Ronald Wilson Reagan made it so back in 1986!!! And, more than 90% of ALL hemophiliacs born before the mid-1980’s got HIV from a bad blood transfusion. And, almost ALL of them died from AIDS or complications around this horrible disease! It was destiny that I would stumble on this opportunity in March, during Hemophilia Awareness Month!!! I was in head first!

    Honestly, I was simply hoping to be in the top ten, so I could raise awareness for hemophiliacs and HIV+ people. When I entered I sincerely did not think that I would win. The competition would be far too strong and who the heck am I?

    Guess what… On day one, I skyrocketed to first place. And, I’m not talking about a little jump, I was ten times ahead of the second place person! It was incredible.

    By day two, many more men had joined and they were gaining, but I was still at least four times as many votes ahead of everyone else.

    By day three I realized, I could actually win the voting portion of this competition. That was when it happened. You see, in life, nothing (I mean NOTHING) worthwhile is easy. And, there is no reason that this would be different. Realizing that I could win this voting section of the contest, I re-read the rules carefully. There it was glaring at me…

    Upload at least one (1) but up to three (3) digital photographs … taken within thirty (30) days prior to the date of your Entry into the Contest…

    Holy crap! In my rush to enter… With the mindset of “I can’t possibly win this thing…” I had made a vital mistake. I had uploaded older photos of me… You see, I am 46 years old (47 next month) and because of how fit and healthy I stay, my physique really hasn’t changed very much in over a decade. So, I assumed any photo would do, because quite honestly I am in the best shape of my life NOW and even look better than those photos from a year or two ago…

    The sinking feeling of dread overcame me as I realized that I could potentially be disqualified. And, on top of that, I was essentially cheating by not following the rules. My head pounded and my stomach was upset… This couldn’t be happening to me. Moments later, I wrote the editor of Men’s Health and explained my situation looking for a resolution. Well, fortunately for me, the editor was very cool and said simply “you are also permitted to enter once per day per email address throughout the entry period. So, you are welcome to submit another entry with current photos…”

    Well… That settled it… I had to ditch my first place entry that had more than 2,200 votes already and start a new entry with current photos. So, I worked with my Aunt, Patty Abrams, to quickly take a few “today” photos of me. These photos were nowhere near as cool as my previous entry (me posing in a triathlon suit looking all heroic, me on Mount Rainier in -40 degree temperatures, and me on a 185 mile bicycle ride on the C&O canal towpath), but they are legit and follow the rules.

    My new entry, was sitting there with zero votes in 113th place… Wow! Talk about a buzz kill. To add insult to injury, my original entry is still sitting there on top of the pack all pretty and perfectly happy. DANG!

    Time to eat some humble pie… I spent a few minutes typing up a quick status update for my social media friends that had all helped escalate me to the top of the heap. I had to explain that our 2,200+ votes weren’t going to count toward this newest entry. I laughed at myself. Cheered them for their support. And then asked for their continued support. I wasn’t sure how folks would respond. I mean, I’ve already been SPAMing them with numerous requests to vote for me as a cover model… yada. I thought they might rebel. *insert upbeat music here* Something very special happened. They all stood behind me, and picked me up. From the nadir of this event, my friends and their friends all wiped the dirt off my face, picked me up, brushed the tears from my eyes, and gathered as a community to support me… Their brother.

    After adding my second entry, folks got behind me and stormed the contest pouring in massive votes. Within one day I had gone from 113th place to 3rd place and had a solid 600 votes! Just when I thought all was cool, Men’s Health reached out again and said that they need to remove my second entry. So, they offered to put one of my new photos in the original entry and delete my second entry into the contest. Unfortunately they were not able to migrate my votes over. However, I still had the healthy amount of votes and a solid lead. Stuff happens, and I’m usually one that rolls with the punches. Besides, I can’t really complain considering my sizable lead.

    You guys have all given me so much support during this entire process, and I am eternally grateful!

    This is what it’s all about. I now know why I’ve entered this competition. It’s not some vain attempt to plaster myself on a magazine… It’s not about me. It is about us. It is about hemophiliacs. It is about HIV+ people, it is about average Joes who are beaten down ever day of their lives and continue picking themselves up and reporting for duty despite the odds stacked against them.

    I have survived for more than 28 years as an HIV+ human being. I believe there is a reason why God spared me. I honestly believe that it is my duty to spread awareness and advocate for people who struggle to have their voices heard. Well… I am here. And, I felt you help pick me up. I feel your love. I feel your support and caring. I feel you. And, I love you. I will fight for this and every other opportunity that we have to scream at the world.

    Together, you and I can and will put the first ever HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of one of the most popular men’s magazines on the planet.

    Please help support this cause by sharing my link, voting (you can vote daily), and spreading the word.
    www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37/

    I’m currently standing with a strong lead in first place…

    Love to you all,
    Vaughn Ripley

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    Take a Hot Bath

    Nothing feels better to me after a sick workout than to take a nice long soak in a hot bath. You guys know that I’m a huge fan of taking a Scottish Shower ( Cold Shower ). The benefits of the cold shower are awesome! Now let’s discuss the opposite… Taking a hot bath. I’m not talking any old bath, I’m talking about a steaming hot, barely able to stand it, hot, HOT bath.

    Disclaimer: Don’t get in a bath that is too hot… Don’t drown… Don’t stick electronic appliances in the bath tub with you… This article is PURELY MY OPINION and might not work for everyone… yada, yada, yada.

    One other disclaimer (of sorts)… If you are a hemophiliac and experiencing a bleed, I do not recommend soaking in a hot tub. Heat is not a good mixture with bleeding episodes. Always evaluate yourself before doing something like this.

     

    First things first… I like to shower before I get in the tub. Just a quick soap and shampoo to clean up. I do this because I’m only using the bath for relaxation and not cleaning. I prefer to soak in clean water.

    Before starting the tub, I light a scented candle or incense. This calming smell adds to the ambiance of the super soak! I also dim or turn off the lights to allow for a darkened room for my meditation; which we’ll discuss a little while down the post.

    I have a nice sound system in my master bathroom. I usually just put on a medium volume classic rock radio station. However, I also love soothing classical or meditation (type) music on a CD or iPod. Regardless of what you choose, make sure it’s something you can relax to.

    While the hot water is drawing, I pour in some Epsom salts. I find that this helps to soothe and calm me. Also, the salts do make my aching (from working out) muscles feel better.

    Next, I rub a mask onto my face. I know that some people like to create their own concoction out of bananas, oatmeal, and so on… But, I simply prefer to buy a mask for ease of use. I spread it on liberally avoiding my eyes.

    Once the tub is up some, I climb in ad chill out. Remember to use caution when climbing into a hot tub. Do the touch test first. My baths are normally so hot that I sort of need to ease into it, letting my body adapt in increments.

    The last step is to enjoy the relaxing scent, sound, and heat… I normally get into a bit of a trance and eventually (when my body is ready) I enter a meditation. This meditation is normally a simple state of mind. I free my thoughts and sink into this state for the remainder of my bath.

    Remember not to stay in the tub for too long. And, make sure that you rinse the mask before climbing out. Perhaps most important, blow out the candle!

    I find that it’s really nice to do this procedure just before bed. I can climb into bed and fall quickly asleep with a clear mind and sensational tingling on my skin.

    Do you ever take baths? If so, what’s your ritual?

    Enjoy!

    -Vaughn

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    How to Recover From an Injury

    Let’s talk about injuries and how to get over them! Before we do that, let’s quickly get the painful stuff out of the way first.

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    My first piece of advice in this article is how my disclaimer ends… Listen to your body! You might think that sounds more like a fantasy, then real life… However, I’m here to tell you that I am not only capable of listening to my body, but I literally communicate with it. Perhaps hemophilia is a gift, because I believe it’s the reason I can hear my body speaking. Most easy bleeders that I know are gifted with the ability to listen to their body. If you aren’t a hemophiliac or dealing with some other painful disease or problem, you might need to dig awful deep to hear your body talk. I recommend meditation for starters to get yourself in tune.

    There is a very popular and silly saying: No pain, no gain! Well, that is just plain ridiculous. I would actually say: No gain comes from pain! Regardless of what you might think, there are some kinds of pain that are not good and it’s rarely a smart idea to workout when you’re experiencing this kind of pain. Keep this in mind the next time you are trying to exercise while your body is trying to heal.

    I bring this up because we all know many active athletes (myself included) who not only complete races on injuries, but even train through them. Everyone thinks differently about this but I’ll share my thoughts. I believe in pushing myself despite injuries when I’m in an actual race or event… That said, I do not like to push my body through training when I’m injured. Do you guys see the difference? You need to talk to your body, listen, and then determine if you can workout or not.

    Once you know you are injured and decide to skip a few workouts, you need to figure out what to do during the healing process. Certainly you guys all know what RICE stands for, but let me spell it out anyways:

    Rest – Recovery requires sleep and downtime.
    Ice – Cold helps with the healing process.
    Compression – Wrap your injury.
    Elevation – Raising the injury spot helps it heal too.

     

    I made up my own mnemonic (I have a need to be different). I call it, the five I’s:
    Injury = Ice, Ibuprofen, Interlude, and Invert.

    Regardless of what you use, it’s important that you have your own process to follow during your healing phase of an injury.

    Many folks like to alternate ice and heat on an injury… As a hemophiliac I sort of fear heat. So, I’m very careful to ensure the bleeding is not only stopped, but won’t recur before I apply heat.

    Depending on the injury, you might want to do specific stretching too. Always do gentle smooth stretches and never bounce. This is true whether you have an injury or not. Carefully stretch injuries and slowly go until you get close to pain. Never stretch to the point of pain. As I’ve said over-and-over again, listen to your body. Focus on that painful injury area and slowly stretch. Listen. If you feel (hear) pain approaching, stop the stretch where you are. If possible, hold it. For the best results, hold this stretch for 22+ seconds and then slowly ease up and relax. Repeat a few times for a deeper and more invigorating stretch.

    Once the damaging pain of an injury starts to subside (this can be a day or several months), I recommend starting to do some extremely light weight exercises that pinpoint the injury area. As I keep saying, take it easy and do not push yourself in the beginning. Over the next several days, carefully and slowly raise the weight and range of motion.

    Normally you only need a day or two of rest between workouts… However, when dealing with an injury, you know what to do by now… That’s right… Talk to your body, and listen. If it tells you that it is ready to continue, then by all means… Continue.

    Depending on how bad the injury was/is, go through several days to several weeks of gradual increases in stretching and lifting. Continue this until you have full range of motion and no pain before moving back into your “normal” workout routines.

    I hope you never need the advice in this article… But, if you do, you can always lean on me and my experience.

    Be well,
    Rip

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    Inspirational Passages and Quotes

    Quotes and passages can be incredibly uplifting and inspirational. I like to read inspirational quotes every day. I start my day by reading the following quotes… They instill my spirit with motivation and lift me to a higher level. Check ’em out, and let me know what you think!

    “Come not between the dragon and his wrath.”
    -William Shakespeare / King Lear, act I, scene 1

    “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
    -James Dean

    “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
    -Albert Einstein

    “Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Remember: Life is short, break the rules”
    -James Dean

    “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
    -William Shakespeare / Measure by Measure, act I, scene 4

    “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye.”
    -Helen Keller

    “Excellence sucks!”
    -Tony Robbins

    “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
    -Eleanor Roosevelt

    “Temet Nosce. It means, know thyself.”
    -the Oracle

    “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”
    -Helen Keller

    “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
    -George Eliot

    “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Nobody can be successful unless he loves his work.”
    -David Sarnoff

    “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
    -Yoda

    “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
    -Gandalf the Grey

    “Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”
    -Albus Dumbledor (care of J. K. Rowling)

    I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of my own personal quotes… Enjoy!

    “Dum spiro somnium”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “We’re all going through something… The trick is to go through it anyway!”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “Life has its ups and downs… Ride the downs and climb the ups!”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “Chivalry is not just a fancy word with a neat meaning… It’s a way of life.”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “Life throws punches. It’s not about punching back… It’s about taking ’em, and still standing.”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    Do you have a favorite quote or passage? Please share and chime-in!

    Hoping this inspired or motivated you!

    -Vaughn

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    Dum Spiro Somnium

    Perhaps it’s time that you created a life motto for yourself. Maybe you already have one. Could be that you have no idea what I’m talking about… Let’s discuss the potential of this very powerful tool.

    Dum spiro somnium is my life motto. It means, “While I breathe, I dream.” Actually… I do not know for certain that it means that, because I simply made it up based on Google translate and a little Latin knowledge. But, it is my interpretation and best-guess as to converting my life motto to Latin. Why did I convert my life motto to Latin? you ask. Well, mostly because Latin is a cool way of saying things in life that are important to us. At least I think so. I do know that somnium means to dream, or daydream. This was close enough for me!

    I was able to piece this translation together because I know my family motto, dum spiro spero; which translates to “While I breathe, I hope.” This is a great family motto and a wonderful creed to live by. However, I thought about it carefully and realized that it doesn’t totally encompass my beliefs and motto. I’m a dreamer. Life is a dream of sorts for me, and my imagination is the key to making it day-in day-out. Hence making my very own personal life motto.

    Do you have a life motto?

    Life motto, vision, mission… All of these things are so important to our continued improvement and success. Along with these powerful tools, I think that short and long-term goals are incredibly beneficial as well. Expect a post in the near future that discusses goals, missions, and vision statements.

    If you don’t have one, or are interested in some motto ideas, checkout this list: motto.biz/list-of-life-mottos-to-live-by.

    Another great resource, and the article that inspired me to create this one, can be found here: birdsontheblog.co.uk/whats-your-life-motto.

    Make sure you chime in and tell me what your thoughts are on this subject, and if you have a life motto.

    Until we chat again,
    Vaughn

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    How To Properly Fight Yourself

    Today’s topic is something I’ve practiced and improved upon for years. It’s something that I believe very strongly in… The power of the mind. It is my honest belief the brain holds more answers and power than we can imagine. Not the least of which is the ability to cure ailments in the body. Today we’ll talk about how I have tapped this power and managed to survive for 28+ years with a virus that was supposed to have killed me 25+ years ago!

    Most of you know that I run another blog called HIVLongevity.com. In many of my previous posts on that blog I’ve talked about “the war of the body.” I’ve even posted some information about it. Today’s article is based on some of those previous posts and I’m going to breakdown my idea and how it has helped me. You can determine if it would benefit you in your life. That said, if you decide to try it out, I guarantee that you will be amazed at the results!!!

    It has been my motto to stay away (for the most part) from discussion about my HIV. This posts sort of relies on it as proof and as an extreme example of how this type of meditation works. Let me step out on a limb and discuss how I turned my low T-cell count into a climbing number, and potentially saved my own life. Many moons ago, my HIV was winning the battle of stealing my life. I was taking 22 pills each day. And, I was taking them five or six times per day. Each time I took the pills I was thinking (literally) to myself, I’m taking this medicine because I’m dying. It may not sound like much, but that single incantation was bombarding my body with negative thoughts and powerfully dangerous chants five or more times per day. No wonder I was dying!!!

    One day I literally woke up and discovered an answer to changing this and prolonging my life… This type of negative thinking was truly a devious and deadly mistake and I figured out a way to not only improve myself, but turn my death spiral into a form of survival. I realized that I could just as easily chant something motivational and positive instead of my typical doom and gloom. I came up with a better statement to say with each ingestion, and decided to give it a try. From that day forward, instead of thinking about dying, I altered my internal message to, This medicine is healing me, making me stronger, and giving me longevity. You might (or might not) be surprised to hear that this immediately turned around my emotions and even my health!

    This solution was so simple that I kicked myself. Of course I could teach myself to use positive brainpower to redundantly think of optimistic things instead of pessimistic.

    Shortly after adapting this solution, I took it several steps further and incorporated my meditation into an event. I started envisioning a battle going on in my body. And, as I took the medicine and chanted positive things I also imagined my meds being field generals in a war in my body. Each of these generals was given regiments of T-cells and I saw them rolling through my body and kicking virus ass. I still use this technique today, and I am healthier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

    Recently, a friend, mentor, and two-time cancer survivor, Alan Hobson (cancer survivor and bestselling author of Climb Back From Cancer), showed me a powerful way to do what I was doing and make it more peaceful. He said, instead of viewing a war in my body, why not imagine a flowing river of holy water (or something similar). In this way, you can imagine magical water flowing into your body and cleansing it from the inside out. This was a powerful alternative to war that I had never even considered. To this day, I sometimes switch my war meditation and turn it into a pristine river of clear, healing water.

    The positive thoughts, war, and holy water turned out to be more powerful than I ever imagined, and my T-cell count has climbed through the ceiling!

    Later on, I discovered that I could use a similar positive incantation session for other health issues. Over the years, I have become obsessed with mental healing. I use images of my favorite American generals to command troops of cells to combat illness and ails of all sorts. I spend time imagining General William Tecumseh Sherman (one of my favorite wartime generals) crashing through my body tearing viruses and other bad elements to shreds like he did the South. My General Sherman shows no mercy for the enemies that have entrenched themselves in my flesh. Whenever I pull him out of the thin air to use in battles against my sicknesses, he offers no quarter and cuts a swath from shoulder-to-shoulder and head-to-toe. No mercy!

    This violent engagement is an important weapon in my overall war against the disease that plagues my corporeal self. As a matter-of-fact, I consider it as powerful a tool as the medicine that is prescribed to me by extremely competent physicians.

    I’ve recently included attacking hemophilia episodes (bleeds) with a similar technique. I have tried many meditations and one of my favorites is having a team of engineers who move in under the command of a head engineer. They are building a damn of sorts. Essentially, I get into a peaceful resting position with my offending joint (usually my ankle or knee) elevated and cooling under an ice pack. Then, I calm myself and move into a meditative state by flushing my thoughts and centering myself. Once I am focused, I have the head engineer move into my body, and lead a team of engineers and builders to the local area of the bleed (this is all in my imagination… I can literally see a team of workers marching through my arteries and arriving at the bleed location). Once there, my team surrounds the bleed and curbs it using tools, supplies, and ingenuity. I spend ten to thirty minutes focusing on this response while the ice and elevation do their parts. It’s my belief that my bleeds are less severe and often heal quicker/easier because of this mental process.

    Lately I’ve broken down different parts of my meditation and improved upon it by imagining the separate areas of my body (mostly organs) and what there roles are. Here is a breakdown of my process:

    Brain is the general (commander)

    Heart is the special forces (think Navy SEALs or Army Delta Force)

    Blood is the foot soldiers.

    Liver is the defensive units and artillery.

    Stomach is the supply units.

    Lymph Node is the hospital corpsman (medical and doctors).

    Arterial Infrastructure is the explorers and spies.

    Skin is the radar and sonar.

    Nervous System is the communication channel.

    You get the idea? Basically I focus on each of these areas individually during my meditation and utilize them accordingly. I know this may sound like science fiction or the rantings of a lunatic, but I truly believe that I’m here today, alive and kicking, (at least in part) because of this powerful tool… My brain!

    Imagine if cancer patients successfully used this technique (along with medicine and a healthy lifestyle) to cure themselves?? Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Remember that this technique can be applied to almost anything corporal. The next time you have a headache, why not try something along these lines? What do you have to lose by spending a little bit of time relaxing and meditating?

    I’m looking forward to hearing your opinion and experiences, please leave me a comment and let me know if you believe in this type of medicating and also if you’ve ever experienced anything along these lines.

    Sent from the field,
    General Vaughn Ripley

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    Positive Attitude Goes a Long Way

    Let me start by saying that I do not condone, nor believe in positive thinking/attitude without something to back it up. E.g. I don’t think you can look at a weed-filled garden and chant there are no weeds 1,000 times and then they mysteriously and suddenly disappear. That said, I do sincerely believe in a positive attitude and taking it a step further, I think it is one of the determining reasons I am still alive today!

    So… What does that mean? You ask. Exactly what I said. In my opinion, a positive attitude can and will prolong your life (especially through a battle with some form of deadly illness and so on). On top of that, I believe that it will improve aspects of your life that you had no idea needed improving (and some that you knew needed it). Also, a positive attitude and outlook will get you places in life. Finally, it is contagious! That’s right… Your positive attitude can and will rub off on the people around you. If you think carefully about this last statement, you will quickly realize that the opposite is true as well. You certainly don’t want to be the bad apple in the basket!

    Now let’s talk about some of the ways that you can spend your time improving your attitude:

    Wake with a Smile
    Many studies have been done on the power of a simple smile. For the most part, it has been scientifically proven that putting a smile on your face will improve your outlook, attitude, and make people think you are insane (just kidding about the last one, wanted to see if you were still with me). Since we know the power of a smile, why not harness that power and use it to your advantage? Jump out of bed grinning. And, when you get to the bathroom mirror, make sure that you have a big goofy smile pasted on your yap! You’d be surprised what this will do for the start of your day. Try it tomorrow morning… Heck… Try it now! Go run into the bathroom smiling and look at yourself. Isn’t that a friendly face? Imagine how others react to you when you walk down the halls of work. If they see you with a stoic look, frown, or even pout, don’t you think that is a negative aura and reflection of you? Reverse those feelings and beliefs by smiling.

    I should mention, I’m not talking about a toothy vampire grin… Or, a sociopath smile with teeth clenched and eyes all scary. I mean a simple, calm, and friendly smile.

    Try it!

    Share the Love
    I often fall back on the idea behind the movie Pay It Forward. What a great story and premise. When I say, share the love, that’s what I mean… Once you have built up a happy life filled with positive emotions, you should share that with others. Go beyond simply smiling at people. Instead offer them information about how you created a positive attitude in your life. You’d be surprised how receptive people are to hearing ways to improve themselves. It is a key component of living a happy and successful life. Simply share your happiness with others. And, not only with tips on improving your attitude, but also by doing friendly things. When is the last time you stopped your car to help someone on the shoulder with a flat tire? I’m a huge fan of doing this. And, I NEVER accept a penny from anyone that I help in this fashion. During the deep snow storms of 2009-2010, I spent days out in the weather (with my FJ Cruiser, a snatch strap, and a snow shovel – See the photo at the beginning of this article) rescuing people who were stuck. Boy did that feel good! Gotta love helping people!

    Try it!

    Meditation
    I use a daily meditation to improve my outlook and help to heal myself. Anytime that I am experiencing struggles, I will kick back, take some deep breaths, and literally fall into a trance (don’t fall into a trance while driving!) and recognize things in my body and things around me from a different perspective. There are tons of books and information on these kinds of things. Regardless of which way you do/experience meditation, I would recommend that everyone tries it. You’d be surprised how much better you can improve your feelings and attitude by doing a few minutes of deep and thoughtful meditation.

    One of my favorite ways to meditate is during a low-impact and deep stretching yoga workout. 20 Minutes of deep breathing and yoga stretches while meditating internally can do wonders for your body and day!

    Try it!

    Try all of them!!!

    That’s it for today… I hope I was able to stir some positive emotions!

    Do you believe in a positive attitude? If so, how do you accomplish this?
    Typed with love,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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