Monk Mindfulness: A Circle of Thoughts

In my fascination with remarkable people, I came across an interview with an individual I’ve admired for some time. This particular gentleman was born under mortar fire in Vietnam during the war. As a toddler, he later survived a month adrift at sea only after a Russian fishing vessel found and towed them out of the war zone. Years later he would find himself as a refugee in the United States and naturally he would become a Green Beret special forces team member and covert CIA operator. 

Tu Lam is now the owner of Ronin Tactics and is featured as himself in the infamous video game Call of Duty. The reason for me sharing about “Ronin” is because of his commitment to mindfulness. After serving 23 years, he found himself retired, depressed, addicted to painkillers, and suicidal. In his journey to self-healing, Lam found meditation. One of the more impactful stories in his life was that of a monk who had an important lesson.

The monk carried two bags and a stick to a clearing in the land. He drew a large circle in the soil with the stick. On one side of the circle, the monk emptied black stones out of one bag. On the other side of the circle, the monk emptied the other bag filled with white stones. 

The monk would sit and observe his thoughts. For each negative thought he would toss a black stone in the circle and for each positive thought he would toss a white stone in the circle. The monk would take up this practice for years. 

In the beginning, the vast majority of stones going into the circle were black. After some time, he surmised that the world is cruel because we cannot control our emotions. Without intervention, we will let negative thoughts dominate our thinking. Yet, over time the monk could make choices in his mind such that his circle would be filled with more white stones than black stones.

With awareness, we have choice. Without it, we’ll have to settle with negativity and cruelty. 

6/2/21 WOD


Complete 4 rounds of the following for quality:
8 Front Squats
6 Lateral Roller Lunges (ea)

Then, complete the following for time:
12-9-6-3 DB Thrusters (50/35)
3-6-9-12 Lateral Burpees Over-the-DB’s


Bench Press

Complete 4 rounds for quality of:
10 Feet Elevated Push Ups
12 Inverted Rows
15 Tate Presses

Then, complete 3 rounds for slowest time of:
750m Row
-Rest 2 Min-


Strict Press

Push Press

Then, complete 3 rounds for quality:
12 Alt Renegade Rows
:30 Hollow Hold
20 Weighted Russian Twists

Then complete 3 rounds for reps of:

12/10 Cal Row
Max Athletic Burpees
-Rest 2:00-