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    Hey, folks, it’s been a while! I’m finally starting my Novice path and getting my Integrative Training hours underway. First off is a course through Harvard University I completed this spring. I highly recommend it! The bulk of the course took about four weeks, then you have a final project that takes another four weeks before a final wrap-up.


    The Science of Well-Being seemed like a good thing to work on between my Introductory Course and moving on into my Novice courses, and it was an excellent synthesis of a lot of information that I sort of knew in the back of my mind, and quite applicable to the Jedi path.

    The course started with a look at what we think will make us happy but doesn’t work. This included things that seemed obvious to me, like making a lot of money and buying designer clothes, as well as things that I had relied on to make me happy, like making good grades. Dr. Santos went into the science of how we expect a certain level of happiness from these things, and the happiness we actually experience never is as great or as long-lasting as we expect it to be. Conversely, the disappointment we experience from not getting these things is never as severe or long-lasting as we expect either. The most surprising thing I learned in this section of the course was that people who become paraplegic are actually no less happy than they were before their accidents. This speaks to the greater depth we seek as Jedi, rather than looking for happiness in material things and traditional Western metrics of success.

    Next, Dr. Santos began to explore the things that actually make us happy. One foundation of happiness is getting enough rest. People who get eight to ten hours of sleep a night are statistically happier than those who get six or fewer. For a few years, I have struggled with sleeping through the night. If my rest is interrupted, I need several hours more in bed to feel rested, and then I end up staying up later to make up for the things I didn’t get to do earlier in the day, and the cycle repeats. Most nights, I’m in bed from 11:30 to 7:30. I would like to shift that to 11:20 to 7. How much sleep I get often depends on whether my youngest child gets into bed with me during the night, and how early he gets up in the morning. After all the mischief he got into as a toddler, I still struggle to let him just play independently while I finish sleeping.

    This gets into one part of my struggles with being a Jedi, even with just being a person. I see other people (and characters) who seem to function and do great things on much less sleep, and I feel inadequate. I feel like I should deny myself, that my needs aren’t actually needs, and I must just be weak for wanting so much sleep. Perhaps I could do more and be better if I just didn’t sleep so much? This is a pattern in my life: I feel like my needs are invalid and I should just be more disciplined, but then I struggle to hold myself to the standard I set and swing back too far the other way into laziness and self-indulgence. It is really difficult for me to balance what feels like virtuous self-denial with necessary self-care.

    Meditation makes people happier. I began meditating fifteen years ago. I love meditation, but I struggle to do it daily, between trying to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep, housework, childcare, and my personal studies and hobbies. I can read or clean, and it’s okay if the kids interrupt me, but those interruptions are more frustrating if I’m trying to meditate. It’s ironic that what is supposed to make me calmer ends up with my being more irritated.

    Gratitude makes people happier. A daily gratitude practise has been part of my journaling for a while now. There are occasional days I struggle, but it is generally easy for me to identify many things I have to be thankful for.

    The act of savouring makes people happy. I struggle to do this on a daily basis because my mind is generally distracted and pulled in many directions. I try to stop and savour something at least weekly, whether it be my morning coffee if I get up first, the patterns in the clouds while I’m taking the garbage out, or cold water after working in the yard. Savouring is a beautiful mindfulness practise.

    Kindness makes people happy. This one is interesting because even kindness without rewards makes people happy. This demonstrates to me what I have always believed, despite my upbringing: that people are basically good. If we were intrinsically selfish or inherently “sinful,” we would not be happier people for being kind to others, even when we have to sacrifice something or know we will not be repaid. </span>

    Connection makes people happier. Even small connections like a brief interchange with a stranger, make people feel better. As a fairly isolated stay-at-home parent, I can attest that the connections I have found in the Jedi community do brighten my days significantly.

    Exercise makes people happier. Our bodies evolved to move. As much as I dread exercise, I always feel better after I’ve finished. There is no feeling quite like the elation of dancing or the tired satisfaction of having mown the lawn. I am glad that taking on my Jedi training has motivated me to start exercising regularly again.

    Last, having goals makes people happy. Dr. Santos brought in a psychologist who explained the WOOP method. WOOP stands for Wish Outcome Obstacle Plan. The idea is to sit with a goal for five minutes, visualising and working through each of those steps. I have used this method and it has been very effective!

    I believe that The Science of Well-Being is a great course for any Jedi to take because it gets to the core of self-improvement and demonstrates how self-improvement and helping others are interdependent.

    • This topic was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Kol Drake.
    Kol Drake

    Eight to ten hours of sleep a night is ‘recommended’ though people are scattershot all over from 5-6 hrs to 11 or more.   Having a family tends to kill the notion of ‘a good, long sleep’ since it seems there is never enough hours in the day to get EVERYTHING done.   BUT, the truth is, unless it is hyper essential — what is not ‘done’ today CAN be done tomorrow and then it’s off ‘the to-do list’.   Stressing over NOT being all things to all people and having EVERYTHING done before lights out is just going to cause more issues.


    Sounds like this was a great course.   Maybe some day we can have you teaching an overview at a Gathering!



    This course, and many of Charles Eistenstein’s works, are part of my Jedi path because the deep connection he teaches reflects the connection to the Force we seek and can find in connection to others and the world around us.

    Our current story of the world says that we are individual beings who are here to maximise our own self-interest. This puts us at odds with nature and the other people around us and creates the illusion that we are separate from everything we are actually a part of. This paradigm puts us in a mindset of competition with everything and everyone around us. Our society functions on the idea of you versus me, that for me to succeed, someone else must suffer, and in this story of separation, war flourishes. We feel the desperate need to divide ourselves into Us versus Them as a substitute for the deep sense of belonging we yearn for and do not feel because we are living in a story of separation.

    Our world is gradually outgrowing and shedding this old mindset of separation and moving into a new old story of interbeing and connectedness, that we are not only connected but one. When another suffers harm, so do we. When a creature goes extinct, a part of us is cut off. This ties in beautifully with the first meditation in Jedi Studies 101, where we experience the expansion of our being. As Eistenstein says, “Every time that you look into somebody’s eyes and realise that this is actually not a separate being, but it’s the same being looking out of different eyes at you.” We are one. We are the universe, the universe is us. We are one with the Force.

    Even though current science has begun to show this deep interconnectedness, we still operate on the obsolete paradigm of separation. I believe that a large part of our work as Jedi is to rebuild that connection with ourselves and our world. Eisenstein says, “the primal fear of any mammal is the fear of rejection by the parent.” The first step we take to healing this deep wound of separation is to “embrace our deep yearning for connection and acknowledge the loss of deep belonging.” Part of this new story is that there isn’t always a concrete plan to fix everything and accomplish everything and be Right. As Eisenstein said, “Be suspicious of anyone-including yourself-who wants to save the world.” So much of the story of separation involves control. Do this to be Right. These are the Good Guys. Five Steps to take to be Best. Virtue signaling. But all of these things are seeking control, trying to distinguish ourselves from others, all of which only serves the story of separation. This way of thinking only “attack[s] the symptom without addressing the cause,” leaving us “in a state of endless war,” and “contribut[ing] to the conditions that cause the symptom, to begin with.”

    It may sound like Eisenstein is promoting apathy and inaction, however, “there is always a next step” to take to rebuild our connection, to heal the wound of self-rejection. During this course, he was careful not to take political stances, emphasising that though he does have opinions and preferences on these things, the important thing is to move towards whatever promotes love and connection. Lesson 8 was especially touching for me. In it, Eistenstein talked about shifting focus from the opposing sides of polarising issues to what really matters, often what no one is talking about. I have long felt like there was something bigger to be said behind a lot of issues, that people could find something to agree on if we would look beyond our platforms to the bigger picture. And again, it all comes back to love. In environmentalism, don’t save the rainforest because we value it’s carbon/oxygen exchange, save the rainforest because we adore the brilliant birds, the myriad flowers, the fascinating wildlife, the gem-like tree frogs, the astounding insects, and the beautiful people who depend on those delicate ecosystems. In criminal justice, “can we conceive of justice outside the paradigm of punishment,” moving instead towards restoration and reconciliation?

    As we move back into the paradigm of interbeing, a major shift is moving from control to acausality. We don’t have to force things and conversely, there isn’t always a reason things happen. This beautiful thought occurred to me when Eisenstein talked about the beauty that emerges through the chaos and it made me think of the “chaos yet harmony” part of the Code. Maybe that connection with the Force does not destroy chaos or create harmony but allows us to see the harmony in apparent chaos.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Kol Drake.

    Next assignment, re: Defense


    I studied karate for nine years, off and on, took a semester of judo at university, and have been training in basic MMA skills at home. I a(m) not skilled and am extremely uncomfortable even with sparring,  but if I could possibly protect someone more vulnerable I would do my best.

    I would not feel confident intervening in mediation and conflict resolution in a life or death scenario. I believe my thought process is different enough from the average person that I may do more harm than good.

    I believe studying conflict resolution would be of the most benefit. If I study the way normal people think, I could probably manage.

    If I were to be caught up in a defense situation, even given my minimal skill, a charge of disorderly conduct could be brought if the Law didn’t approve of my action, under my town’s code 132.01(D) “Any person who shall cause, provoke or engage in any fight, brawl or riotous conduct so as to endanger the life, limb, health or property of another.”

    However, under my state’s stand your ground law, if you or another person are attacked in any place where you/they have a legal right to be and if it is reasonably necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to yourself or another person, you have a right to defend yourself or another, without retreating.

    If I were to be charged with a crime, if I raised a credible defense of self defense or defense of others, under my state’s stand your ground laws, the burden of proof falls to the prosecution to disprove the elements of self defense beyond any reasonable doubt.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Kol Drake.
    Kol Drake

    Being able to defend yourself or someone else is NOT the main reason for learning ‘some skill’.

    Yes, it is nice to know some moves BUT, unless you are training daily… and specifically addressing ‘attacks & defenses’… they will never be automatic / second nature.  Instead, you would have to THINK about what is going on and how to do ‘that move’ to respond to ‘that stance’, etc.  That is NOT a path toward self defense but a fast track to getting hurt.

    IDEALLY, learning ‘some skill’ is so you understand yourself.

    Proper breathing, focus, centered stance, etc.  are all ‘tools’ to help YOU learn about you.   How you exist in this world.


    Yes, some states have laws which make ANY attempt at self defense another law case.  And some have a little more leeway.  BUT, we are not asking you to run outside and jump into every dangerous situation you see on the street.  If that is your desire, you should learn about being a police officer or join the military.  Jedi are NOT the alternative to local, state or federal law enforcers.  Nor should is our intent to seek out ‘opportunitites’ to MMA someone’s ass after dark.   Sure, if you see someone ‘in trouble’ — you can act.  Dial 9-1-1.  Call out to disrupt the escalating situation.  If all else fails, step close to the person being harassed to show ‘safety in numbers’.  BUT you should not be jumping into gun or knife fights.  Nor thinking ‘being a Jedi’ is going to save you in a gang war.


    Being able to throw a punch or know ‘where to kick’ is nice.

    Knowing how to EVALUTATE the situation and respond calmly, rationally, and purposefully is a better goal.



    I’m confused about where your response comes from, Kol Drake, as the way it comes across to me is accusatory. Since the assignment was to describe my experience with defense, whether I could intervene in a skilled manner, and if I knew my rights and protections should I face a legal situation due to defense of self or other, that was what I addressed.

    I do not go looking for opportunities to “MMA someone” or try to put myself in the place of law enforcement. My focus in all of my martial arts studies has been physical fitness and self-knowledge. As I stated, I am very uncomfortable with combat and have never gone looking for fights or to show off my skills. Your last statement of, “Knowing how to EVALUTATE the situation and respond calmly, rationally, and purposefully is a better goal,” is exactly why I stated my defense learning goals for the coming years to be, “studying conflict resolution would be of the most benefit. If I study the way normal people think, I could probably manage.”

    I *have* been training six days a week, and working on responding to attacks in realtime through kata kumite. I *have* been improving how I respond and dealing with my fear of getting hit, staying present even when my natural response is to shrink and flinch, but I am not looking for opportunities to get into fights. The dojo I studied in longest, my sensei was very fond of saying, “The first rule of getting into fights is, DON’T. Don’t hang out in places where you’re likely to find a fight.” I’ve never been a person who seeks out conflict, but if I were, I should hope I would have learned that lesson from him when I was still a teenager.

    Kol Drake

    Sorry if it came across as accusatory.  Not the intent.

    I agree with how you view training.

    And yes, one sensei once said, “If you have to fight, you have already lost.”

    Being able to handle ‘situations’ without violence is the best result.


    Had many who were ‘training with guns’ just in case.  BUT, it was once every couple weeks at a target range and maybe firing a couple dozen rounds.   This is great for ‘hobby shooting’ but did nothing to prepare them for emergency situations.  And, be it a gun or sword or knife.. or martial body… don’t ‘draw’ it unless you are planning to use it.    And ‘hobby practicing’ doesn’t prepare someone for most sudden ‘real life’ situations, imo.

    And yes…  a course in conflict resolution.  Or the later course the IJRS has on Situational Awareness come in handy.



    Responsibility is at the heart of learning to overcome our flaws. A Jedi should be held responsible for all of their actions. Without it, we cannot grow, we cannot help others and we cannot justify why we are to be taken seriously. 

    What do you think of these statements?

    I think it’s obviously true. Every individual, Jedi or not, is responsible for their own actions. We can have reasons for our actions that may explain why we do what we do, but ultimately we are responsible for ourselves. Responsibility is prerequisite for growth because to see where we need growth in the first place we need to be able to admit our own shortcomings and take responsibility for them. Without responsibility we cannot help others because we will not be efficient or effective at helping others when we are not managing ourselves. Responsibility for ourselves is the bare minimum for being a functional human, without that we are just a “stack of coping mechanisms in a trenchcoat,” and will not be able to maintain much long-term, so cannot be taken seriously.

    Truthfully, how much responsibility do you take for your life?

    I try to take responsibility for all my choices, but I don’t take as much responsibility as I should, especially in finances, because I am a stay-at-home parent, I feel like I have very little control over my financial situation. I find it difficult to balance taking responsibility with burning myself out.


    How much do you blame on others?

    I don’t think I blame others much at all. Maybe my littlest kid for my lack of sleep, because I can’t control his actions, which directly impact me.


    Do you also take responsibility for others? 

    I try not to take responsibility for others, however it can be difficult for me not to take personally the actions of those close to me. I have to actively make myself let go of my attachment to their choices.


    What areas do you find easy to apply discipline to? What areas do you find challenging to apply discipline to?

    I find discipline in all areas quite difficult. I do many things by obsessions and passions, so often things don’t feel like they require discipline. Other things just become rote over time and become part of the mechanisms of my life. Getting to that point is my goal in discipline. My biggest challenges with discipline are flossing, getting up early, and keeping to my schedule in spite of my younglings.


    Do you feel you have fortitude and resilience?

    I do feel I am resilient. Even when I struggle, I persist and keep moving forward, rather than letting difficulties keep me paralysed.


    Provide an example or two of where you showed fortitude in your life.

    My nesting partner had taken a new job that we found out we weren’t getting the first paycheck for a month after we had already sold most of our belongings, had the rest of our things on a truck, and only had enough money left to drive the 800 miles home or have one more night in a hotel. We were both scared and depressed, but I kept moving on, helping with his job search and getting our home set back up when we got back.

    In January I sprained my MCL very badly. I researched physical therapy exercises and worked very hard at them and kept pushing to heal and get back to normal.


    Article: The Four Habits that Form Habits by Leo Babauta

    I was excited to see Zen Habits articles here, since I’ve been reading Leo’s blog for about ten years. Starting small is difficult for me. I have an all-or-nothing mindset and doing just a little feels like failure to me.

    I have worked hard to defeat negative self-talk. I still struggle with it, but I have gotten better at nipping it in the bud and choosing positive thoughts.

    Savouring habits is an excellent idea, but one that is definitely easier to put into practise with some habits than with others. When  I’m exercising, I can think about how I’m getting stronger, notice how my breathing and my muscles feel, but flossing is a really difficult sensory experience for me, and even when I’ve flossed carefully and regularly, the dentist has still told me I needed to start flossing, so it doesn’t feel productive. Getting up early is tricky, because I can definitely appreciate and savour the experience once I’m up, but waking up, being in my cosy bed… well, savouring leads to falling back asleep!

    Having a plan for when you falter always evaded me, until recently. I don’t have extra money to pay to anyone when I mess up, and no one around me had been interested in keeping me accountable for my habits, encouraging yes, but not really holding me to it. When my nesting partner and I started working out together, we kept each other going, but that’s just one habit. Then I found a habit tracking app that lets you set up consequences for missing your habits and it has kept me on course quite effectively!



    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Kol Drake.
    Kol Drake

    Well stated.

    Sooner or later, I drag out the old 1960s philosophy of Spider-Man (Stan Lee) from Marvel comics…

    With great power comes great responsibility.

    We may not have been bitten by radioactive spiders nor trained in the ways of the Force since childhood but, as you noted, we CAN take responsibility for our own actions.


    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Kol Drake.

    I just realised my last two posts and their accompanying replies belong under my JS101 thread instead of here. 🤦🏼‍♀️

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