How to Cultivate Minimalist Health

April 19th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Our mind, body, and spirit are intimately connected.

If you neglect one part, many times another will start to fail.

If you start to consume junk, your thoughts will be junk. If your thoughts become junk, you might start creating it too.

Here’s what I like to do, when one part of the triad fails. In the long run it’s always better to slow down and regain health, rather than to ignore the problem until later.

How to focus on minimalist health:

1. Slow down. Usually health starts failing because you’re going too fast. We tend to think that we’ll get healthier by going faster, but I’ve found the opposite is true. We run all day, and this makes us tired. When we’re tired we tend to eat worse, and we want to drink, this is a vicious cycle. Health and rest are intertwined. Stop moving so fast before everything else can begin.

2. Disconnect. It’s incredibly hard to stretch for an hour if you’re checking Twitter every five minutes. Turn off the computer, turn off the smart phone, before you move to the other steps. Communication cracks out your mind when you’re constantly plugged in and makes it difficult to concentrate developing good health.

3. Take the time to begin eating right again. Good food is a commitment, one it takes time to fulfill. The worst food is also the easiest to consume quickly. Dedicate an hour for each meal, start to finish. Create each meal with fresh and raw ingredients that we’re just purchased from the market.

4. Walk to and from the market before meals. I know this isn’t possible everywhere, but I find that it helps me focus on what my body needs and gets my body active. You can’t always plan ahead for what your body will need for dinner. Be conscious of what your body is telling you to eat, sometimes it might want something you don’t have in the fridge.

5. Take the time to stretch. Not everyone is like this, some people are gumby. But I’ve found that stretching is one of the most effective ways to improve my health. Set aside one-two hours a day for calm relaxed stretching positions — don’t force anything, listen to your body’s needs. Mine needs an hour of stretching today, I can hear it. Start slow with forward bends and calf stretches, move on to pigeon pose and plow at the end.

6. Only then move to intense exercise. I often fail if I try to exercise without first doing the above. Slowness, food, and stretching are the basis for everything that comes after. If food is hard, only focus on that. If stretching is hard, only focus on that. Everyone has their favorite method of strengthening their bodies and burning calories. I stick with Yoga and biking, you may like running and acrobatics.

It’s easier to injure or burn yourself out without first slowing down, eating right, and stretching. Start with foundation for good health before hitting the hard stuff.

I dedicate today to minimalist health. I will slow down, disconnect, eat right, stretch, and then move for health.

I hope you will dedicate this day too.


Two things worth checking out, if you’re more interested in my work.

1. Matt Cheuvront posted this video review of The Art of Being Minimalist, which is excellent.

2. John Anyasor interviewed me on his blog about designing your minimalist life.

32 Ways to Refocus on the Important

March 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The most successful people have only a few priorities. Here’s how to refocus when you lose track of yours.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

The inconvenient truth of entrepreneurship.

I have a confession to make, I’ve been working too hard.

The whole idea of working for myself was so I could have more time to live life, remember?

Well, over the last two weeks I got carried away with my entrepreneurship. I’ve been working over 40 hours a week on the blog and my next e-book. This is far too much time to be spending on my minimalist business.

I was supposed to be living the minimalist work week to the fullest, and concentrating on my real priorities: Yoga, Cooking, Writing, and Reading.

Instead I’ve been working all day, cooking fattier foods, and I had totally forgotten about yoga for a week.

I’ve got to refocus, maybe you do too?

Everyone loses focus on their priorities occasionally.

This is okay though, everyone loses focus on their priorities once in awhile. Occasionally it’s beneficial to lose the balance in their life in order to achieve greatness in one direction.

But after working hard in one area, there comes a time when it’s necessary to refocus on what you’ve identified as being truly important. For more on identifying the important see: The Stunning Truth About Focusing on the Important.

This is why I’ve compiled a list, below, of 32 ways to focus on the important. I hope it can help you re-find the focus in your life.

I’m going to be refocusing in the coming weeks.

As some of you know, I’m working on a new e-book called Minimalist Business. The e-book explores my journey to creating a low-overhead business which supports my location independent lifestyle.

I’m writing this e-book because I’ve received hundreds of emails about business side of my work on The Art of Being Minimalist. These emails have given me many ideas to think about as I did my best to help everyone who emailed me create their own minimalist businesses.

I hope it can help you achieve the same kind of life, if you’re interested.

In order to get the e-book done, and maintain focus in my life, I’m going slow down the schedule here at Far Beyond The Stars to two stories per week. This way I can work on making two posts twice as useful to you, and also have time to work on completing the e-book.

On to the focus!

Feel free to apply one or a few of these to your life, but don’t try to do them all at once. Definitely feel free to bookmark this page and return to it whenever you find yourself losing focus.

Here are 32 ways to refocus on your priorities.

1. Slow down. The best way to refocus on your priorities is to slow down. Take 10 deep breathes. Walk slower through life and appreciate every moment. You’ll start to see clarity when you take time to appreciate every moment.

2. Stop checking email. If you read my post on Timejacking, you know my opinion on email: it’s not as necessary as you think. Set two (or even one) specific times to check email during your day. This can save you up to 3 hours of time sitting in front of your inbox waiting for messages to come, so you can react to them. Turn this around, and you’ll start to focus on your priorities and create great work. I’ve been checking email less (trying for one time per day as much as possible) for a number of weeks, and my productivity has exploded.

3. Change up your routine. Turn your routine on it’s head. If you exercise in the mornings, try exercising at night. If you work during the week, try working on the weekends or at night instead. If you walk down 5th Avenue every day on your way to work, try walking on 6th Avenue instead. If you always go out to eat, try cooking at home instead.

4. Disconnect from the internet. Turn off your wireless router, or unplug your Ethernet cable, and just sit there. At first you’ll go crazy without being able to constantly click around on Facebook. It’s okay, you’ll be fine. Before 1990 no one had Internet in their homes, remember? Let alone Internet in their pockets! You’ll survive. Just sit and stare at a wall until you’re able to refocus on your priorities.

5. Write your priorities down. This is so incredibly important. Take out a sheet of paper, or open a blank document on your computer, and simply write down your priorities. I like to keep them to 4 or less. These are the things that are really important to you. These are passions, not obligations.

6. Take a few days off. Nothing fixes focus like a good long weekend. Take a few days off and do something fun. Don’t think about work. Don’t do any work. Just focus on having fun, or creating something that you enjoy. When you get back to work you’ll have a fresh mind and be able to refocus on your priorities.

7. Take a walk. A good long walk can do wonders if you can’t focus. The repetitive motion of your feet has a way of centering the left and right hemispheres of your brain. Just pick a direction and start walking, don’t have a destination, just walk for the journey.

8. Go to the beach for a day. I love going to the beach. It’s a great place to sit in the sun and let your worries wash away. If you don’t have a beach near you, a park can do too, (but beaches are more awesome.) Bring some sandwiches and spiked punch. Don’t forget your sunscreen! Definitely forget your cellphone.

9. Up your intensity. Sometimes the best way to refocus is to take everything to the next level. Take one of your priorities and spend 80% of your time doing it. I plan on doing this with Yoga in the next few weeks. By spending all of your time, you’ll be able to refocus on your priority and take it to the next level.

10. Work somewhere new. If you’re used to working in an office, or in your home, make the decision to change your location. Work from a coffee shop or the library. Go to a friend’s house and work together. Take your work out on the porch and work in the sun, or go to the park.

11. Hang out with different people. We can sometimes fall into a routines of hanging out with the same good folks all the time. The trouble is, this can lead to social stagnation. Try hanging out with new people once in awhile. This will open you up to new ideas and you’ll have new experiences.

12. Sleep more. This is a no-brainer. The studies all show that we don’t get as much sleep as we need. Take a few days and catch up on your rest. Sleep for 9 hours a night instead of 6. You’ll start to notice your priorities come into focus when you have enough rest.

13. Eat good food. We are what we eat, literally. And yet some people eat garbage from the take-out. Don’t do this! Try cooking dinners at home every day for a week (perhaps consider doing this for the rest of your life.) Use fresh vegetables, beans, nuts, berries, etc. Eat fresh fruit for breakfast in order to have more energy. When you eat better you’ll overcome obstacles with much less effort.

14. Sit in silence. Simply sit in silence for 30 minutes. Don’t worry about meditating. Sit on a comfortable pillow, or in a chair, close your eyes and let the thoughts pass through your brain. A time-out like that can change your thinking and help you refocus.

15. Kill your bad habits. Choose one bad habit and take it to the guillotine. Just stop doing whatever you hate about yourself. There are so many things that humans compulsively do that are bad for us. When we have the courage to tell ourselves no we can free up space to focus on what we really want to accomplish. Some bad habits you may have: TV, smoking, drinking, Twitter all day, email, negativity, pessimism, driving.

16. Stop worrying so much. Anxiety is simply failing over and over and over again in advance. Tell yourself to stop worrying. The simple reason for this is that worrying doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t help to guess at what the outcome of an action will be. Make a decision about what you think the outcome will be and stick with it. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t. At least you didn’t spend 5 hours chewing up your stomach anticipating your own failure.

17. Throw out the plan. Plans are just guesses. Too many people spend 80% of their time planning and half of the time they never get to the actual execution. I’d like to let you in on a secret: execution is everything. The plan isn’t necessary if you don’t do anything. In most cases you can do something without a plan. Cut out the preparation and start making things happen.

18. Read for new ideas. Take a day and go to the bookstore. Find a great book. If you need suggestions, I’ve read a bunch of books so far this year. All of them were very good. Now, sit down and read the book. Slowly let the ideas flow off the page and into you. This will rejuvenate your focus on the important.

19. Turn off the TV. If you know me, you know I hate the TV. Two years ago I helped my roommate paint three of them and turn them into an art installation. Two weeks ago I helped my girlfriend finally sell her flatscreen. The average American watched 5 hours of TV a day in 2008 (according to The Story of Stuff), that’s 35 hours a week. Tell me there are better things you could be doing with that time.

20. Take a mini-retirement. There’s no sense in wasting the prime of your life working yourself to death. Save up a few thousand dollars and go incommunicado. Rent a boat and sail down slowly down the coast. Rent a beach house in Mexico and disappear for a month or two. Trust me, the world will be here when you get back.

21. Move somewhere new. So many people never make the decision to leave their home town. It can be one of the best decisions you ever make it leave a place one you’ve been there for awhile. Pick somewhere and go there. Leave behind all of your crap, you don’t need it. Just go somewhere before it’s too late.

22. Radically change your diet. If you’re eating pancakes every morning, try eating fresh fruit. If you eat steak for dinner, try eating tofu. There are a million ways to radically change your diet. You are what you eat, so when you transform your diet you transform yourself.

23. Declutter your living space. Take a day and get rid of clutter. Find a home for every object that you own. Put things in drawers or closets. If you can’t find homes for everything, you need to get rid of some things. Make a box and put things in it. Take these things and donate them to someone needs them.

24. Limit your work schedule. We work too much. The worst part is, we can usually manage to fit our work into as long as we give ourselves to complete our jobs. No one ever achieved great things by working 80 hours a week for an entire year. If you normally work 60 hours, reduce your schedule to 40. If you work 40, reduce it to 20. Once I get to 10 hours a week of work, I’m going to try and reduce it down to 4 as soon as possible. I bet you can get the same amount of work done by strategically batching requests and eliminating the unessential.

25. Turn off your smartphone. What a terrible idea, giving yourself the ability to be constantly in touch via email. (full disclosure, I do have an iPhone. I mainly use it for capturing ideas via Evernote, taking photos, and communicating with readers via Twitter during set batched intervals.) Turn your smartphone off for periods at a time, if you can’t get rid of it completely. You’ll notice a world of difference, and you’ll be able to focus on the important.

26. Leave your phone at home. Go out into the world and leave your phone at home. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell what time it is. You can ask somebody! It’s important to disconnect from people once in awhile. If you’re constantly available, you’re simply going to be reacting to requests. Bonus: let every single call you receive go to voicemail first, then batch call everyone back at one set time per day. This will save you tons of time if you’re a heavy phone user.

27. Rearrange your house. Take a day and change how your home is arranged. Or maybe even just your living room or office. Put the couch on the other wall. Take the TV and throw it out the window. Consult a Feng shui expert (or ask the Internet) and make sure your space is obeying the right rules. When you’re done, the new perspective will help you refocus.

28. Go vagabonding. Put the essentials for survival in a bag. Book a ticket somewhere and just go. It doesn’t matter where you go, just go. Email the hostel and book a few nights, then take off from there. Don’t have a destination, don’t go see touristy stuff, just live somewhere new every single day. Read Rolf Potts’s awesome book Vagabonding for more on how to have this amazing experience.

29. Read different blogs. We fall into reading the same bloggers over and over again, but that can be a trap. I try to write about new things, and delve deeper into topics, but inevitably I’m still me. Other bloggers are still them. After reading a blogger for a number of months, you might find yourself just reading out of obligation. Try reading new bloggers to change things up.

30. Stop reading the paper. Newspapers are dead. Most of their employees have taken huge pay-cuts over the last few years. Most of their writers are forced to write about topics that they don’t have expertise in and don’t interest them. This leads to sloppy writing and boring stories. Stop reading newspapers, you won’t be missing much.

31. Eliminate obligations. People tend to collect obligations like we collect junk. The problem is that sometimes we don’t take stock to see if we’re getting anything out of them. Take a moment and make a list of everything you’re obligated to do every week. Now strike out everything that you hate doing. This can free up a huge amount of time.

32. Let it all go. Finally, just let it go. The world can do without you for awhile. Just relax and let things happen when they happen. Don’t worry so much, or you’ll get gray hair and you’ll need anti-depressants. When you let it all go, it’s only a matter of time before you start to refocus on your priorities and start to make great work.


Here are some links that will help you:

Be Your Own Guru by Jonathan Fields.

The Joy of Walking by Leo Babauta.

Paying it Way Forward by Colin Wright.

The Most Important Blog Post You’ll Never Read by Glenn Allsopp.


How do you refocus on your priorities?

If this article helped you, I’d love if you’d take 10 seconds and use your favorite method to share it.

Thank you.

Minimalist Yoga: How to Learn the Basics and Do Yoga Independently for Free

December 7th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

Yoga is one of the most important things you can do for the balance of your body mind and soul. It’s also one of the most minimalist forms of stretching and exercise tools that exists.

This is probably why I’ve been so drawn to this particular method of strengthening myself, because it requires nothing but what you already have.

There are only two requirements for doing yoga.

1, a mat or blanket.
2, your body.

Modern corporations are trying heard to teach us that we need much more than these two things to do yoga. At a typical yoga studio you will find ropes, blocks, heated rooms, clean white towels, and other assorted gizmo-gadgets.

Have you ever picked up a yoga magazine? Stocked full of ads and stories trying to sell you more equipment.

You don’t need anything but yourself to do yoga. It doesn’t matter how skinny or fat you are, how tall, or how old you are. Anyone can do yoga, and you only need a mat.

You certainly don’t need Lululemon butt-grabber pants (though they do look quite nice) to be able to do downward facing dog properly.

All of these additional things serve to distance you from the origins of yoga, which is an incredibly simple practice.

You don’t need to buy anything else to do yoga.

If you feel like it, make a promise now to never buy anything beyond a mat for your yoga. I certainly haven’t. Some people spend thousands of dollars on yoga junk they don’t need and never manage to do any yoga. I don’t want you to be that person.

This is a guide to doing yoga by yourself without spending a dime. You won’t be asked to buy anything. There is no catch at the end asking you to give me money. My intent is only to demystify the basics of yoga enough that anyone can do it on their own for free.

A little background on my experience with yoga.

I’ve been studying yoga for around two years now. Most of my training is from Yoga to the People in Manhattan. The school promotes yoga for everyone, and is run on a donation-based payment system. I am not a certified yoga instructor, though I plan to become one when I eventually have money and time to invest in the training.

However, to offset my non-yoga-teacherness, I have an undergraduate degree in dance from New York University (I double-majored in journalism), where I studied modern dance and ballet. I’ve studied movement for over ten years, and many of the principles of yoga carry over into non-yoga forms of movement. I do feel I am qualified to instruct the fundamentals of yoga, even though I may not have the blessing of the Yoga Alliance.

Why do yoga independently?

Yoga is expensive. Individual classes can run anywhere from $12-$20 at most commercial yoga studios. To benefit the most from yoga training you need to do it regularly, and this can become expensive if you have to go to a yoga studio every time you want to take a class.

Sometimes you only need a few yoga poses or sequences to center yourself, in these cases a trip to a yoga studio isn’t practical.

By learning to do yoga on your own you will master self-discipline. You will train your body and mind to work together. A lot of people never learn how to do yoga outside of a classroom, and this is a shame, because the biggest breakthroughs in yoga can come when you’re going at you’re own pace.

The best reason to learn to do yoga independently is you will have a free way to train your body for the rest of your life. You won’t have to spend a dollar more, unless you want to.

Please be careful practicing yoga independently. Some yoga poses are incredibly difficult. Don’t force yourself into uncomfortable positions or into balances that you cannot control. The flexibility and the strength will come with time and regular practice. Forcing any stretch in yoga is counterproductive.

Yoga should never hurt you. You will feel challenged at times, but the pain of injury should be avoided at all costs. Yoga is not about torturing yourself, it is about bettering yourself.

Step 1, Find a place to do yoga.

Clear a space somewhere in the place that you live which is large enough to fit your yoga mat with at least 1 ft of space around it. I like to face a window, but that isn’t a necessity. Ideally give yourself as much space as possible, you don’t want to be worrying about knocking over a lamp or falling on your desk.

This space doesn’t need much, but it should be free of distractions and objects that you may bump in to. That is all.

Step 2, Learn a few basic yoga poses. There are hundreds of yoga posed to choose from, you probably won’t need to do them all right at this very moment. Here are five basic yoga poses that you need to know now.

Click each of these poses for pop-up images showing you the pose.

  1. Child’s pose. This is one of the most basic poses. Return to this pose if you ever feel overwhelmed and just breathe. It’s done by sitting on your heels with your forehead on the mat. Put your arms either in front of you or by your feet. Start your practice in child’s pose, and just notice your breathing for 15 minutes.
  2. Flow. This is the fundamental sequence in Vinyasa yoga. I’m cheating a little, as this is a series of poses that you can use to ‘reset’ yourself after every harder pose. The sequence goes like this: start in plank pose, lower to ground by bending your arms, cobra, downward dog. Do a flow between any other pose that you attempt, this will reset your body between difficult poses.
  3. Mountain pose. This one is easy, you do it a lot. Stand up straight, with your legs about two-fists distance apart. Reach your arms overhead with your palms facing together. Try to relax your shoulders. Now glance at the ceiling, bend forward to touch your toes and then step back into plank and ‘flow’. Repeat this 3 times or so to get your blood flowing.
  4. Chair pose. This is like sitting in a chair. You can enter this pose from either a toe-touching position or from mountain pose. With your arms over your head, lower your butt so that you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Your weight should be in your heels, your butt is tucked. This pose is kind of hard, so only stay in it for 30 seconds or so. Relax and touch your toes. Flow. Repeat 3 times or until you feel like you’re going to fall over.
  5. Warrior 1 + warrior 2. From a downward dog, take your right leg and put it between your hands with your foot facing forward. You will be in a lung with your left foot pointing towards the side of your mat. Reach your arms over your head. This is warrior 1. Stay here for a bit, and then reach your right arm forward and your left arm back. This is warrior 2. Stay here for a bit, then put your arms on the ground, put your right leg back. Flow. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Shoulder stand and plow. Lying on your back, roll your feet over your head, position your arms under your lower back and reach your feet towards the sky. Ideally you should stay in this for 15 minutes, but do it as long as you feel comfortable. Then move into a plow — relax your feet over your head, take your hands and claps them behind your back if possible. Don’t flow after this baby, just skip to the next pose.
  7. Corpse pose. This is the last pose you do in any yoga sequence. It is done by simply lying on your back, with your legs slightly apart and your arms a few inches from your body with palms facing up. Close your eyes and rest for 15 minutes or so. The point of this pose is to completely relax your body after a strenuous workout. It is the hardest pose of all, because you must learn to relax completely.

Remember, these are only a few basic yoga poses. There are hundreds more, and you can study them online at a number of yoga sources. If you’re feeling up to it, go take a class. A good yoga resource is B.K.S Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, check it out at your local library. Many yoga studios offer free trial classes or a week of unlimited introductory classes for a small fee.

Step 3, Do minimalist yoga.

Now that you know some basic poses, it’s time to do yoga. Find yourself a room that is free of distractions. Lay out your mat or just grab a blanket if you don’t have a mat. Begin in child’s pose, and slowly move your way through the different poses that I described above.

It will probably take you thirty minutes to go from start to finish. Go slowly. Make sure you’re breathing steadily. If at any time you feel overwhelmed, return to child’s pose — this is your safe zone.

Let me know if you have any questions or clarifications in the comments.


Simple Fitness: Buy Less, Do More

November 5th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tammy Strobel of Rowdykittens. Follow her on Twitter. Photo by Everett Bogue (I’m driving to Seattle, so Tammy is covering today!)

Prior to my downsizing journey, I read a lot of fitness and health magazines. Most of the magazines and books advocated buying more stuff, joining an expensive gym or promoted diets that were not healthy. I walked away from those magazines feeling depressed and overwhelmed.

Discovering the simple living movement helped me reconnect to my body and start taking small steps toward my fitness goals. Unplugging my television and selling my car gave me the time to meet my goals. Within the last few years, I started swimming with a master’s team again, ran a marathon and developed many long lasting friendships.

I can’t offer one solution to fit all; but here are a few simple fitness tips and activities that have helped me get in shape without buying new stuff.

1. Pick an activity you enjoy.

Getting fit means you have to move your body. So it’s essential to pick an activity you enjoy. It could be running, walking or yoga, but you need to like it. If you don’t like the activity, odds are you won’t follow through.

Running, walking, riding a bike and yoga are all low cost activities. You probably already have a pair of walking/running shoes, a bike and maybe a yoga mat at home. If not, start checking out local shops for sales.

Micro-action: Brainstorm 4-5 activities that you love. What gives you joy?

2. Move your body.

Move your body as much as possible. This can be hard in the modern world, especially if you have a desk job. I sit in front of a computer all day, but I do sometime of physical activity before arriving at the office and either walk or ride my bike to work.

If you don’t have a lot of free time, I’d encourage you to move closer to your place of employment. Moving closer to work and walking or biking to the office are great ways to get moving and don’t cost a lot of money.

Micro-action: Find 30 minutes in your day and get active.

3. Eat fresh and real food.

Eating good, real food has become part of my simple fitness plan.

Last year, I read In Defense of Food and changed my diet dramatically. Rather than eating packaged foods, most of my produce comes from the local farmer’s market. Eating real food has increased my energy level and is actually a lot less expensive.

If you have a local farmer’s market in your city, take advantage of it. I used to think that fast food was quick and easy. But I’ve changed my perspective. Cooking food at home saves time, money and it really is healthier and simpler.

Micro-action: Does your city have a farmer’s market? If you don’t know, find out and take a trip to the market.

4. Make time.

Make time in your life for physical exercise. Everyone has at least 30 minutes a day to participate in some-type of physical activity. If you don’t have the time, consider reorganizing your priorities.

Other options include unplugging the television or selling your car. I did both and finally moved off the couch and went outside.

Micro-action: Schedule a physical activity everyday.

5. Be patient.

Reaching any type of fitness goal takes time, so be patient. Getting in shape won’t happen over night. For instance, I just started doing yoga and realized how weak my core is! I have a lot of work to do when it comes to strength training and I know it will take time.

Starting out is the easy point, but sticking with your fitness goals is the hard part.

Micro-action: Connect to a support network or find a workout buddy to keep you focused.

Closing Thoughts…

Above all, do what you love and brings you joy. Your body will thank you.

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