Mindfulness, self-discovery, and being open to exploring our lives – even in small ways – have the power to help us make huge leaps toward our goals and towards a life of greater peace and balance.
JA Plosker offers a free Mindfulness Quick Start Guide at www.japlosker.com/links to help you get started on, or ramp up, your mindfulness practice. His books emphasize the healing and transformational power of mindfulness, self-discovery, and everyday events. Prospective coaching clients can book a free 15-minute consultation at japlosker.com/coaching.
J. A. is a speaker, teacher, and trainer on mindfulness, ancient wisdom, and personal growth, and has been on many stages, including TEDx. His passion is talking with others about the journey of mindfulness and personal growth. His books help guide people on their paths and help them discover more about what matters in their lives.
JA Plosker's Books:
The Nobody Bible: Uncovering the Simple Wisdom in Ordinary Life
An Audible Silence
- Permission to Land: Personal Transformation Through Writing
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Hello everyone. And welcome to permission to heal. I am Marci Brockman, and I am thrilled that you're here today. We have , you're going to love him. Coach trainer, speaker, attorney, teacher, author, entrepreneur, husband, and father.
He's had careers as a social work counselor and attorney, a college instructor of comparative religion philosophy. And social work. He is a three-time entrepreneur mindfulness and self-discovery coach. He helps seekers sensitive entrepreneurs and authors go deep to embrace their authentic life and discover their own message.
He's the founder of nobody press where he has published two multi award-winning books. The nobody Bible uncovering the simple wisdom in ordinary life, which I am loving and the novel and audible silence. His content brings ancient and modern wisdom down from the clouds into the practical world where they can help people improve their lives and make the most of their personal journeys.
Jay is a speaker teacher and trainer on mindfulness, ancient wisdom and personal growth, and has been on many stages, including Ted ex his TEDx speech by the way, was wonderful. His passion is talking with others about the journey of mindfulness and personal growth. Welcome, Jay. I'm thrilled that you're here now.
Thank you. I really appreciate it. You're welcome. Thanks for coming. we've been talking a little bit before we recorded, and there's so much about what you do that just resonates so deeply with me. I've spent , the better part of the last day, reading the nobody Bible and covering simple wisdom from ordinary life.
And I just love the way the book is structured. When I was in college as an undergrad, I took, a course that was something like the Bible as literature. And we read the Judeo-Christian Bible as if it was a novel kind of a thing, you know? And that was interesting to pull apart things and sort of look at them from a removed third person, analytical perspective.
But what I really love about this book of yours is that it goes through all of the basic. Major religions or ideologies religious ideologies, and then in a very colloquial, very funny way, Laden with sports metaphors and all sorts of cool things. You relate it, you sort of oversimplify to make a point, but then relate it back to our basic lives to show us that we're all kind of doing so many of these things on our own cherry picking what works from all sorts of things.
And, uh, uh, it was just a very relatable and, and easy to read. And the, the end I saved it, as I say, I screenshot a lot of them, but at the end of each of the chapters, you've got nobody exercises. Right. I could talk about this, but I would rather, you talk about this. Why did you choose to add those things into, into the book?
Well, one of the things that, and I'm, and we'll talk about this later, but I'm, I, my journey of personal growth for me journaling, and I know for you that, that, that's probably true too. When we write it, we own it. Right. And it gives us that sense of distance, but it also gives us a sense of integration.
That's kind of the two sides of journaling, right? So at the end of each chapter, there's these opportunities for you to really take the things that you've read about and see how they apply right now. You know, there might be people who think they don't really have, they're not a leader, or they don't have anything to offer, or they're not in touch with both sides of who they are, but really in some ways they are.
And by writing it out and owning it, they, you know, they, they get a sense of that. And then of course at the end of the book, right, the nobody you create your own, nobody Bible, you fill in everything you've done previously. And basically you have this manifesto of your life based on ancient wisdom. That's awesome.
So for a journal writer like me, that's the part of this that speaks loudest. You know, I enjoyed the discussions of each of the religions and your way of sort of boiling it all down to its most essential truths and, and you partially apply it to modern life and then allow the reader to take it over the finish line to continue the sports metaphor, you know?
Um, and, and I think that that's a really cool way of looking at it. You know, like I don't really consider myself a very religious person, but I do self identify as Jewish. And although I haven't belonged to a synagogue in a very long time and don't. You know, light Shabbat candles, Friday nights, like give me another basic things that I just don't do that my family sort of never did except in weird small pockets of time.
And it didn't stick. But over the years, as I've learn to get more in touch with who I am as an adult and heal my own past trauma and figure out how to make myself happy and bring meaning into my own life and that of my children, I feel like I realized that I'm embracing a lot of things, Buddhist things.
Yes. You know? Yes. So, so it's, it's interesting to sort of see that we're. All of us in our efforts to live a meaningful life where we are fulfilled and giving to others, we're doing a lot of things from various religions that we're not really aware of. Cause they all sort of bleed into each other. And I think we need to give ourselves permission to do that.
You know, the book isn't disrespectful, the book is a love letter. You know, I've been studying comparative religion for. Decades. And so this book is really about the things that have helped me, you know, does it cover everything about Taoism or no? That's right. Yeah. It's that baseline piece to get us all, to see that there really are these bridges of philosophy, these bridges of ethics that travel around the globe and we can participate in those, you know, we all know what it's like to have expectations and to suffer because of them.
We all know how bad it feels to envy someone else. We all know how good it feels to help our neighbor. And so I think sometimes when we throw out religion, which some people just, I'm not religious. And then anything that smacks of that I don't participate in, we do participate in it. We participate in it all the time.
When we say the pledge of allegiance or when we, we think a military person for their important service. I mean, these are ways of honoring people in our society that we respect and we Revere in some way. And, and who've earned that respect. And I think religion has so much to say about that because it's all about, it's not a whole of out, but there's so much of it.
That's about reverence and honoring the things that we value. So it is important, I think, to make that connection. That's why I start the beginning of the book, right. With that whole discussion of what religion is, so that we have a better understanding of how we participate within it and interact with it.
Yeah. And that portion of, coveting the neighbors and envy, I really sort of didn't think about it in modern 20, 21 terms, Where you're even just looking at somebody else's curated Instagram feed. Yeah. Very good example. Very good example. Same thing, looking at somebody else without knowing their story without knowing anything else besides that two dimensional thing that they are presenting to you that they've chosen to present to you.
We have this image that we can cocked this thing for ourselves that they're better, or that we wish that we were like that. Or we could have that for ourselves , without so much thought as to how they got there or chose that or what the story is behind that thing that we're seeing. Absolutely.
That's such an important example. I think of social media. Okay. And it's the same thing. Like I wouldn't have equated that social media envy or whatever it's called with one of the 10 commandments, but. It is, it is. And it's not that you have to, it's not that that's religious in any way. It's that? No.
Before we throw out all of religion or, , we need to realize that maybe it's based on something very human, right. Cause we can think of religion as being associated with the divine and that's fine, but it's also based on things that are very human and you know, and necessary for us to live in a communal world.
Right. And that's why we, we look at things that maybe happen on the news and they just, they shock us. And even if we're not very religious, they still shock us the same way. They might shock a religious person because they're, they're banging like a gong against something fundamental inside of us that we don't necessarily ascribe to religious or spiritual, but that somebody religious or spiritual may share that same foundation with us.
And I think that's the book tries to bring all that together so that we can have that dialogue. And you did it very well. Thank you. I haven't gotten all the way through it because I'm not so good at time management lately, but none of us are no it's too much. My son and my husband got their first vaccines the other day.
So there's all sorts of hubbub and discussion about that. And my daughter went yesterday and I had mine done through my school and a while ago it was, it's just, you know, so much of our mental space is being taken up by staying safe in a global pandemic and trying to find hope as spring is happening in the Northeast and trying to figure out how to resume some of our lives safely to not be mired in this pandemic, fatigue that I think we're all suffering from and, you know, figure out how to slowly.
Integrate integrate social discourse, social visiting, three dimensional, being with other people in a way that still keeps us all safe. Right? Reconnection. Yeah. That's after. So it was hard enough for all this to make a connection, but now we have to reconnect with what we had. It's, it's, it's different.
The fear of sharing a virus that we might not know we have, you know, right. It's a difficult, it's a, it's a, it's a very difficult time. And it's, it's really, I think knocked a lot of us off our center. One of the, one of the positives that can come out of that though, is I think a lot of people are now realizing that they had a center.
Cause I think a lot of people when I was a counselor and now as a coach, people don't think they, they have a, so I don't know where my center is. I don't know where my anchor is, but what I'm finding now is a lot of people because of this pandemic and this mentality that we're developing, that's so isolated people are realizing that they did have a core.
That they knew about, they did have a center, they did have a group, they did have a try, they had all of this and they didn't realize it. So now they're looking to reconnect with it. I that's been very interesting for me to observe and think about, yeah, I think it has awakened us to things that we took for granted before, really sort of boil things down to what our basic priorities are and what really is important and has allowed us with a little more clarity to just get rid of the things that didn't serve anybody, any good that's right.
Um, Yeah, I I'm, I miss my family. I I've told them all that once we're all vaccinated and we're allowed to be in the same place, get ready for an awkward hug. Cause it's going to be long and awkward. And yeah, a lot of people are telling me they're going to celebrate everything. Right. And somebody gets it like these obscure holidays that they didn't really pay much attention to.
Those are going to be celebrated. And that's part of that center, right. That they realize that being part of community that, that joy, they didn't even realize that they were getting out of celebrating. They've realized that's something they need that that's lineup fills them. I think that's touchstones of normalcy and absolutely.
Yeah, we just did our second annual. Hopefully there isn't a third annual second annual Passover Seders over soon. Yes. You know, we didn't think last year, last April when we were zooming, uh, our second Seder together that we were going to still be doing it a year later, but we had Vermont, New York city, long Island.
St Thomas and Florida all connected in a zoom Seder. And we couldn't have done that. I mean, there's some beauty in the fact that we couldn't have enjoyed a three-dimensional Seder together from all of those States. So it would have required a whole lot of travel and expense. And this way we could just sort of enjoy it, how we were take a couple of hours out of our ordinary day and make it extraordinary.
You know, a teacher of mine. The first person that really became my first teacher in spiritual and personal growth, he once said falling is for going up higher. And, you know, that, that's one of those sayings that we hear and maybe we dismiss it the first 67 times. We hear it cause it doesn't resonate with us.
Right. But I think when we're talking about what, what the example, for example, what you just said, the pandemic feels like a fall, right? A civilization fall, but. Look, what it's helped us do, there are going to be people who even when they can go back to in-person, they're going to bring up zoom on their computer and sit and have, say, this fall can bring us up higher, right?
Because there's a greater appreciation of community and ways to build it. It's not just driving over to someone's house. It's about using the camera on your computer and that can make someone's year, right. Having a, having a holiday that way. So falling is, is really, is for going up higher, I think, is that, you know, it helps to frame it that, you know, it's cold comfort when you're in the middle of it.
But as we look back in retrospect, hopefully that will be the message that we can bring forward from this. Or at least one of them. Yeah. And we're bringing forward the essential things that, that bring us meaning and bring us connection and hopefully getting rid of the extra things that didn't purpose.
Absolutely, absolutely. A hundred percent. And I think for parents and children, especially people who have, you know, younger school-aged children at home, I think that this has created time for back to the base relationship building. Absolutely. I, I know when my, my kids are in college now, so it was, it's slightly different.
They're a little more autonomous, but, but it did bring them home when they couldn't be at campuses or doing internships in person. It brought them home in their early twenties to spend time with mom that I wouldn't have ever had before, because they would have been off doing those other things. So I I'm in that respect, I'm grateful for all of this because I got.
That special time with my young adult kids who that I wouldn't have otherwise. And I think we're closer because of it. Absolutely. And that will bring your life higher moving forward. So a fall takes you higher and I think this is it's just resonating. So powerful powerfully with me lately because I, I heard that teaching recently, revisiting that old class that he taught and it's just coming up again and again and again and again, and it's very exciting to, to hear your examples because in such small ways, it really is bringing the truth of that straight home.
Absolutely. And, and even when my son's back now in Vermont, in grad school and that connection that we re solidified over the summer is still holding our relationship now. And so we're talking and relating to each other, whether it's through zoom or it's on the phone or FaceTime or whatever, but we're relating to each other on a much.
More personal connected, emotional, intimate way than we were before. It's not just the external, but it's the internal, so I love that then just a miracle. Okay. So let's talk about your second book, and audible silence. Could you tell us about that? I'm very interested. I downloaded it. It's sitting in my Kindle waiting for me.
Yeah. That book, it really was the product. I started journaling, in my twenties. I'm now 46. So D two D over two decades ago, I started journaling. Just free form journaling. And I know, you know, after so many years, I w would you say you've been journaling for 40 years? That free form you said before? Yeah.
It just came out of me. It was this free form, free form free form. And I started to develop these thoughts would gel and come out of that. And over time I realized that I was really putting together what I would consider higher learning for myself. And so an audible silence was the first book I ever wrote, but it was the second book I published.
And it really, what it became is a fictionalized compilation of these journal entries. That meant something to me. And so the book talks about, the main character and his mentor are working their way through. The main character's relationship with anxiety and depression. And it talks about mindfulness, meditation, ancient wisdom, forgiveness, unity, and it's really a conversation.
The book is really a conversation between these two and then there's ancillary characters that come in, but it's really, it's really a snapshot of a journey over many years, that takes place in a very shortened amount of time in the book. And it was very exciting to write. It was rewritten. It was edited many times by me and others.
And what came to market was really this love story of where journaling meets ancient wisdom meets mindfulness, and it was really fun. It was a wonderful process over many years. Wow. Sounds intriguing. And delightful. Does the protagonist, as he exists now, resemble you like, is it. Is he fashioned after you a fictionalized version of yeah.
Yes, yes. Very few. I mean, if you read the book, I mean, you're not reading about me, but these things are, I mean, I pushed him in the will. Right. I put him in the role of a social worker because that's the lens for many years that I was looking through into my journal. Right. So, you know, it takes place in the state I'm from, because that's the lens I looked through when I was writing into these journals.
Now certainly a lot of the conversations and the relationships are fictionalized, but yeah, I think it's hard when you're writing fiction, as you saw in the note in the nobody Bible, that's me. Those are my stories. Yeah. In an audible silence, they're not, but it's hard to keep myself out of there. So a lot of people who know me well and read the books that I see you in here.
And I think that was, to me, was a compliment for some writers. It's not, but for me it was because that's sort of what I was going. Makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. Well look, when I was writing my memoir. Obviously I'm the protagonist because I'm saying it it's my narrative. It's, it's my retrospect. It's my , visit back to my childhood, into my adolescence and my young adulthood through my own journal entries.
And all the other characters, if you will, are amalgams, most of them are amalgams of a bunch of different people just to protect their identity and for a little bit of brevity sake, , just cause it took me nine relationships to learn one universal lesson. You don't need to read about all nine of those relationships.
So I could boil it down to one and get the whole thing taken care of, you know? , so it was slightly fictionalized that way, but ultimately it's still the nonfiction version of my story. I love that, that you were able to take your own to take things as you see them through that lens and. Convert it, if you will, to a discussion on mindfulness and so on it's well, yeah, for the chapters, I mean, they really, they basically you're reading about how to do at least one practice of mindfulness, why it matters the importance of meditation, where, how it, how it can transform you.
You know, I always say about mindfulness, mindfulness, isn't magic. Right. But it's also not a mystery. And I think that's kind of what I'm exploring and trying to unpack for much of, of an audible silence and how those simple techniques and simple awareness. Can serve us through everything because of the deeper you go in deeper, you look at the relationships in your life, the deeper you go in the deeper, you understand forgiveness, the deeper you go in and understand all your dichotomies.
The more you see unity in the world, those are the themes that the book explores and it explores it through conversation. You know, I could've, I didn't just want to write a how to manual, like even the nobody Bible has that conversational tone, because I think that's how people integrate best because they can pick up even on conversational cues that they resonate with.
Even if the idea isn't right there yet. Yeah. Yeah. And I, we, there were some discussion before that we, we started the podcast and I've watched some of your YouTube videos and, and various things where you talk about. Meditation not having to be this big, sophisticated, like thing you don't have to carve out time and sit in a certain place and say, and do a certain thing.
And you're not, I think a lot of us, me also before I started realizing that so many of the things that I was doing in my life were meditative. I had this idea that I wanted to meditate, but I kind of didn't know how, and then upon studying it, I realized that I was already doing it. And, , you know, you, you talked about washing dishes or folding laundry, or, , Sorting things when you're putting your kids' toys away or, just basic things.
I was hoping you could talk a little bit about that because I think the listeners would find that very interesting. Well, I, my wife and I developed, if you go to Jay polaski.com forward slash links, there's a free mindfulness quick-start guide there. And it's just two pages. But what it does is it, it tries to, it tries to boil down how I have come to view mindfulness.
I first learned about it. If you watch the TEDx talk, you probably heard the story about that miraculous thing that happened, I mean, years ago. And this is, this is important for your question years ago, I was really, really struggling with really bad anxiety and depressive feelings. Like it was a real.
Struggle. And it was a little scary. And this teacher that I had referenced before, one day a year, this teacher would invite, you know, people that were learning with him to come for five minutes. He could ask any question and he'd say, you have the ear of the universe. Well, you know, this is a, , what a pronouncement, , I, and I knew this teacher.
I knew, I knew what this meant. This, this isn't a parlor trick. So I was just graduated from professional school. I was incredibly stressed out. So I went for my turn and I sat in front of my teacher and he said, ask me anything, just go ahead. You have the ear of the universe. And I said, I couldn't think of anything to say.
Right? So I, I asked about the thing that I was blaming for all my issues. Right. I said, should I continue to be a lawyer? Because that was, I had just graduated and I was really struggling with it. And he could see, he could see how heavy this was weighing on me. And he looked at me and he said, what you do for a living, doesn't define you.
It's only work. He said, I'm going to have the universe bring you that message. It's only work. Okay. Well, at the time I didn't understand what that had to really do with anything. So I went home, turned on the TV and went back to worrying about the future, went back to regretting the past, and it really didn't affect me that much.
Well, a few days later, my dad calls me out of nowhere and he says, Hey, he said, the strangest thing just happened. He said, I'm alone at home. He said a man's voice just spoke to me out of nowhere and said, call your son and tell him it's only work. Wow. He said, does that mean anything to you? Well, yeah, actually.
Yeah. I mean, okay. It did. The reason that's important for the discussion of mindfulness is because at that moment, for the first time, in a long time, I was right in the moment. And I realized that I was spending so much time putting my focus on my job. , I was so anxious about my future and so regretful and depressed about my past that I was never here.
I was giving one thing in my life, work the power to pull me around by the nose. And it was at that point that I started to dive back into ancient wisdom and I knew I had to make a change. And what kept coming up was mindfulness. And I, and that teacher five years before that had given me a simple breathing technique that I really hadn't used much up until that moment.
And I realized that that's simple technique is where I could start. Cause he said to me years before he said, can you sit. Yeah, I can sit. Can you stare at a wall? Yeah, I can do that. Can you breathe? Sure. All right. Those are the Watts. What you need, can you do the milestone time research? And I found in all these ancient wisdom traditions, mindfulness, my job wasn't the center of my life.
It was just the thing. I was giving all the power to pull me out of the moment. So I started to practice simple techniques and they've carried me now for 20 years. Wow. Over 20 years. And it's very exciting. So I didn't need to go off and do a retreat. I didn't need to become a certified mindful. All I had to do was use the life I had right now and start to practice.
And it was very exciting and it still is very active. So, so what kind of techniques do you have in your Quickstart guide? Okay. So in the quick start guide, I start with the it's. He didn't invent that breath technique, right? And pass down by millions of other people. Mindfulness has many things, but it is not new.
So this is a, this is a simple technique. Sit down, lay down, ground yourself with a few breaths and then breathe. Normally follow that normal breathing. Now what's going to happen usually within about two seconds, right? Your mind, we talk about this in an audible sounds, but your mind will start to wander.
So what do you do instead of judging it, instead of judging yourself, what's your practicing doing is being in the moment on purpose, noticing your thoughts and bodily sensations without judgment. So when your mind wanders, from your point of focus, your breath gently, bring it back, do this over and over.
So people will say to me, clients who say, well, I can't do that. I can't meditate my mind wanders. Well, what I say is, I think everyone's mind wanders. The distraction is the practice. Now say that to yourself, a hundred to the distraction is the practice parenting. Isn't just happy birthday. And I love you.
Mommy. Parenting is everything else. It's the difficulties. It's the struggle. That's parenting mindfulness. Isn't just sitting quietly with a quiet mind. It's the distraction. The distraction is the practice. So don't beat yourself up. Gently return your focus. Everybody has a pile of dishes in their sink right now.
I'm sure. Pick up one of those dishes. This isn't in the quick start guide. Yeah. Turn on warm water. Start washing that dish with complete attention. Right? Give yourself a point of focus because out of the point of focus, mindfulness will grow right. Wash the dish. What it is is warm. Do you know what warm feels like we say, we like to be warm, but do you really know, feel that warm water?
What is I feel like right. If you catch your mind drifting from the dish, don't judge it. That's the mindful moment. You're now aware that your mind is straying, right? That's the mindful moment. Gently reset it to the dish, do it with folding laundry, do it with washing dishes, do it with putting kids' toys away.
Do it with drawing on a piece of paper. Do it while being in bed, turn off Netflix for five minutes and sit and breathe. It's the life you have. That's the mindful moment, not some life down the road. So the, the act of refocusing and pulling your thoughts back to the dish or the laundry or whatever, or ultimately, I guess what that's teaching you to do is that you can control, or maybe control's not the right word, but you can direct your thoughts to what you want to think about or what you want to focus on.
Think of it this way. So when my teacher said, it's only work, here's the, that had 60 meanings, right? Depending on where you are, one of the meanings is, Hey, did you know that you're on autopilot? When you think about work and you immediately have a response to anxiety and you let that carry you through the entire day, it's what he's saying.
Basically. Are you aware of that? I wasn't aware of that. What mindful practice helped me do was to what I call break the autopilot. So instead of letting my mind go for eight hours of anxiety or more, I would become a w what you are becoming is the observer of your life. So instead of having reactive reactions to everything that happens that are on automatic, you learn to watch and respond.
And so, like you said, the, the mindfulness has two pieces that you could think of. There's a point of focus, and there's a point of return. It's the point of return for me? That's the mindfulness, right? So if you set your attention on the dish, the awareness that your attention has left, it that's the mindful moment for me.
So the distraction is the practice and we've come full circle, set a point of focus. If you stray from the point of focus, name it and say, like, Anxiety and returned back to the dish. And what you've done is you've broken the automatic cycle. You've broken the autopilot and you slowly through dishes, vacuuming, laundry, talking to your boss, listening to a friend in a conversation, you become a patient, more calm observer of your life.
And I can tell you, I look back at that person who got that phone call from his father 20 years ago. And I'm not that person anymore. Right? You still struggle with anxiety. I still struggle with stress. You don't let it drive you, but I watch the struggle more than I participate in it. And that has changed everything.
It has changed. It has made everything possible in my life. So by practicing. The simple, ancient, shareable, whatever mindfulness activities, my guess is, is that over time, you'd become better at extricating yourself from an anxious spiral about something else and not getting stuck ruminating in it.
But being able to say, okay, enough with that, I'm coming back to the metaphoric dish and live my life here rather than buzzing around up here. You know what that morning, um, sometimes people wake up in the morning and the first thing they do is like, they reach for their phone. They read the news, they get up and they just go with that anxiety.
It's almost as if the anxiety is driving them. How do I know that? Because that was me. So when I oversleep and I realized that I have 20 minutes to get out of the house, yes, I have noticed that I'm noticing more. So what I do is if I'm sitting and meditating, even for five minutes, I will get what I call background anxiety.
It's like white noise. If you're listening to the classic rock station and then that little fuzzy and then you'd turn the dot. Yeah. It's that fuzz. So now I notice it and I just look at it. Like I have my eyes closed. I'm breathing. When that starts to percolate. I notice where it's coming from and I go, I just name it.
I just say things. Nobody goes to a movie. Okay. You don't go to a movie theater, watch a movie and really believe. That that's happening and that those characters are going to follow you home later. And if you really think that I did, when I first watched Jurassic park, I was afraid that dinosaurs were chasing me down the Boulevard. I was looking in the rear view mirror that that freaked me out. But generally, yes, I past that, right? The problem, the problem we have with our emotions is we don't grow. We don't get past that. We keep living as if those dinosaurs are in the rear view mirror. And so what mindfulness does is by now, now look, life has stressors in it.
It has anxiety , there's not a mindfulness superhero who comes in , banishes, all of that. But I noticed when I, I noticed when I notice that I, I look at the anxiety and I just, I name it and I go anxiety and I watch where it comes from. And then I reset my focus and I can tell you. Hand to God.
Usually. Now what happens usually what happens is it dissipates? And in, in therapy, there's something called urge surfing, right? Let's say you're, you're watching a particular intake of a particular food, or you're having a craving. I used to work with people in addiction. An urge will generally lasts 90 seconds.
If you can surf the urge, if you can. And I didn't invent those of course, but if you can watch that urge rise and fall like a wave in the ocean, eventually it will break and wash up on the shore and then dissipate. The key is getting through that time and mindfulness practices a way of watching, naming and resetting.
And often what she'll find is that it dissipates the urge or the difficult emotional. You just connected some stuff for me. That's awesome. Yeah. Look up urge surfing. I mean, again, I didn't invent it. I just wrote it down a chronic emotional eater. I pacify that sense of anxiety over something that I'm afraid of or feel overwhelmed by and mindlessly consume sugar. Not healthy, not good. There's nothing about this. That's good in the moment. It's delicious. And then it's gone and I'm left with more of me to love, I suppose, but urge surfing. That's interesting because you know, my therapist was, was walking me through this throughout. We were doing phone sessions for the last, I don't know here and.
And she was saying, you know, forgive yourself, you're in the middle of a global pandemic. This might not be the time to address your emotional eating issues. And I think to a certain extent she's right. And to a certain extent, it's enabling not that I'm disparaging her in any way because I adore her. But, but I, I think that taking some of this mindfulness idea and applying it to that, like if I could pull myself out of that anxiety or that fear that's urging me to overeat or to mindlessly eat.
If I surfed that out a little bit and was more aware, From the outside, rather than the middle of the heat of that, that I probably wouldn't reach for the m&ms as often. Right. And, you know, look, I, I've spoken to people who, when we talk about mindful eating, intuitive eating, and I, I, you know, there's also this idea out there of.
If you decide that you're going to, you know, take an action or eat something that, you know, maybe go easy on yourself a little bit. I mean, you know, you call it, you could call it, enabling it a little bit, but you're also calling it, just being human. Sure, sure. I mean, I, I try not to break myself.
Right, right. Because that's, that's clarity in that place because once the berating happens, that starts what we, that cascade, right. That autopilot. And then you find you're three hours away from that. M and M and you're still thinking about it. Right. And that's not really serving you where if you just eat it consciously, eat it, mindful eating.
I mean, you can Google that, you know, people can Google that your listeners eat it and appreciate it. Eat it slowly. Appreciate the chocolate. Where did that? That chocolate started as a bean, right? That candy coating started as like a sugar beet. Appreciate what you're eating. And I've noticed for myself as well.
Sometimes I, , I'll take a second or third serving if I appreciate the first serving slowly. What I notice is that it's like, uh, it just, it stops after I eat that because I've eaten it so consciously that I'm good. Yeah. And you've allowed your brain to sort of catch up to the digestive hormones, cause that takes a while to get from the stomach to the brain.
So mindfully slowly enjoying every aspect of it allows the biology to catch up to the mental a hundred percent, a hundred percent. I talked to somebody once who was, we were talking about, she was telling me about her. I was interviewing her about vegan lifestyle and she said, remember, the things you eat will eventually.
Pass through you digestively. She wasn't talking about weight or anything. She was talking about just simple digestion, right? And she said, if you find yourself eating something, you don't want to eat, be very conscious that it's going in and it will come out. And then the rest is something that you can, you can work on emotionally, but remember it will come out.
And there's a sense of, , it's very crass metaphor, but it is a sense of release. Sure. It's not going to stay in you permanently. And your emotions don't have to either. And through using these mindful techniques, my teacher once said, your thoughts. We'll come back to visit you like family because you created them.
And that's true. You don't have to invite them to stay. You don't have to work to make them a bed. You don't have to give them a meal. You can wave them along 100%. And I think that mindset goes a long way. When I was working with addiction with my clients. Again, mindfulness isn't magic, but it's also not a mystery.
So it's something that you can put in your tool belt. So I had clients who they would get triggered if they were driving past their dealer's house, and that would trigger a craving or they were on a certain off-ramp on the freeway that used to lead to a place where they would, we would talk about breaking the cycle of autopilot and a few clients reported back to me that it worked.
Did it work for everybody? Of course not, not everything's going to work for everybody, but for a few, it worked astoundingly well because they realized that they didn't really want to use a drug. What they wanted to do was complete a pattern, complete a pattern, complete a pattern, and the NIMS become part of a pattern.
For some people it could be running. They have like people, I knew people who were obsessive exerciser, it completes a cycle. It completes a cycle. So what we do is we watch the cycle. We reset our focus and then we can make a better determination if that cycle serves us. And I think that's important. I think that's very important.
Absolutely. Some things will benefit us in the completion of it. And some clearly don't absolutely. And we're in a better place to assess that if we're the observers of our life, it doesn't mean you don't care about your life. You don't look when you go to buy a car, giving yourself a little bit emotional distance from the thing, right?
You research the car before you go in, you know what your price range is before you go in the dealership, then you fall in love with the car after you've done. It doesn't mean you don't want to buy your car, but you go in prepared, right? That's of course it's only natural. Absolutely. Absolutely. Otherwise we're liable to make a, a decision.
That's not parallel with our financial capabilities. Absolutely. Yeah. Interesting. Interesting. In my mind, it's like swimming, cheer. I want to talk about, we could have like 10 sessions through this. This is amazing. , there was something that you wrote about, , I sorta think that you already talked about it though.
You were talking about how parenting itself was a very basic, practice of mindfulness and forgiveness and meditation and all this other stuff. And I, could you talk a little bit about what you meant by that? Right? It's not just for parents, so anybody who has a child in their life, right. That's part of the TEDx talk.
If you have a child in your life who you love, right. Things. . So let's talk about this big trend about downsizing, right? And clearing out clutter, any human. Can go into a space and begin a process of clearing out clutter, donating certain things, Marie Kondo in their lives. Does this bring me joy? Right? When you have a child in your life, you can't just go into a room and clean out your child, right?
It doesn't work. It doesn't work that way. So child a child is an opportunity to practice mindfulness on a scale that is, and again, it doesn't have to be your child. You teach it doesn't have to be your child. It can be any child. It could be you're at the mall. And there's a group of children. It's an opportunity for you to observe your body, observe your thoughts when you're, when a child is throwing a tantrum or when a child is in the why phase.
And you don't have an answer. And you're back to the question. Look, sometimes people don't have a positive reaction to that. That's, that's why children are abused. Children are marginalized and , it's really difficult. And so I think having chilled children push our boundaries, they test us, they know right where to go, right.
They don't have that filter. Right. And so if you're coming to a child with a desire to be loving and nurturing and supportive, you really don't have a choice other than to be mindful because you have to sort of purposefully be in the moment without judging it. Otherwise, no one would be able to parent.
So parenting is a real and we lose it. Sometimes we notice that sometimes we go back to our child and we apologize and we give them a big hug or we say, I'm sorry. And they say, it's okay, mommy. Right. Children are very humidity. And. Allow them to see that you've made a mistake and you're owning it and we're moving on and repairing our relationship.
And you have to do that and to let them see that you see it in yourself. Right? So as we try to teach our daughter mindfulness, we let her see that we see things in us. So we validate what she sees in us. And then she understands that she can trust her intuition. She can trust what she's seeing, that her feelings may be dead on, especially about her parents.
Because look, she, you know, she's five. So we're pretty much her social life up until now. And so we want her to know that. Yeah. You notice that. Yeah, you were right about that yet. You nailed that. That wasn't you. That was us. Right. So when you have children or love a child, there it is. I mean, it's, it's, that's your great opportunity to practice.
Yeah. When I was a kid, I. Was the child who didn't trust what went on inside, because it was very different than went on outside. And my parents, mostly my mom, because she was my primary caretaker. My dad worked like 89 jobs. She was so narcissistic. And so, we did, I didn't know the words for any of this, but she was bipolar.
And for most of the time she wouldn't ever own up to, or take responsibility for anything that she said or did. And so I had this idea that what was going on was. Not good or negative where it didn't feel pleasant or safe or whatever. And she would always reframe it so that she was the angel and I was the one who was wrong and it never, there was always a contradiction between what was one on inside me versus what I was experiencing.
So I grew up not trusting myself, which translated into like 40 years of chaos in my life. Right. And I, that's a really, I'm so glad you brought up that kind of example, because we're programmed to have people program us. Right. I mean, we have no choice unless you're living in the forest by yourself, we're programmed, we're programmable, right.
We're software. So when, when an authority figure is keeps overriding. Our primary function as a child to feel we keep up in adult, a savvy adult who may have a personality issue that has made them very savvy as they cover it up and start to use defenses to cover that up. You know, people will defend themselves, children see right to the truth.
So oftentimes adults or older children to defend against that truth will layer defense and you became the victim of that. And so mindfulness helps us reclaim that original programming because as we start to identify name and let go, identify name, go with that. Just the process of learning to trust myself again, over and over.
And then what you become able to do is you get that. Now, when I get a shot of adrenaline, because I used to get them all the time for no reason. Now, when I feel background anxiety, I listened to it more than I did because I'm reclaiming the old song, the old program. Right, right. So I love that you bring that up because there's layers we have to peel away and mindfulness helps us do that.
Absolutely. I am very clear to anybody who I talk to that I have been in therapy for my entire adult life, that when I realized that I had stuff to work out and that in order to find myself and learn to trust myself again, I didn't really have the words to articulate what I knew I needed to do.
I knew I couldn't do it alone. Right. And so I've had three fundamentally, very different, yet amazing therapists who I have seen, whose voices I still hear in my own head, who I am instilled contact with, who, who helped me come to terms with. All of the things that were on the outside that didn't make sense and figure out how to find me in the middle of it.
And, uh, and through the process for me, what was meditative was the journal writing and creating art painting and just the act of paper on pen on paper or paint brush on canvas, just that creation, quieted everything and gave me without really realizing it enough, like background brain space to work out all that other stuff or to start to make sense out of it.
So, you know, I always insist to students, friends, listeners, whoever to find that thing. That allows you to have that time, whether it's laundry or it's dishes, or it's putting away Legos or it's painting or creating or running or exercise or rowing on a treadmill, you know, whatever. And we all need it.
It's a point of remember the two prongs, there's a point of focus and a point of return. So picking that point of focus, you know, people say, wow, I don't have time. We've talked about. And I said, well, you know, do you, do you have a chair to sit on? Yeah. Okay. Sit on that chair and focus on your breath.
That's all you, because all you need to do is give yourself a point of focus where you are purposefully in the moment. Could even be driving. Yes. Turn the radio off. Yeah. And focus on what does it really feel? Hold the wheel attendant to, what does it feel like to pull the wheels down to the engine? Right?
How's that my new adjustments in the steering wheel changes the direction of the car, you know, wind resistance, other cars around you. Yeah. And there's something about the process of driving that I find a very welcome conduit for very heavy conversations. Yep. Road trip. That's why Pete, that's all those movies.
Right. They're all centered around that road trip. Cause that's it. There you are. Right. We've got the, the distraction of the word world around us. We're in traffic. We don't have to make eye contact with. There's plenty of other things to look at. So therefore we can. Say stuff. Yeah. I love that. I love that.
Yeah. Actually on a road trip like that, that my ex-husband and I decided to get married. There was no grand proposal. There was no real forethought. My paternal grandmother had said, gee, you look a lot like my late husband. And I said, really, I don't see that, but okay. Maybe you two should get married and we were making a joke about it, you know, on our way back to long Island, we were kind of making a joke about it.
Like yeah, grandma said we should get married. Isn't that funny? And we're like, well, I don't even remember the organics of the conversation, but we crossed a river, went over a bridge wound up in another state by accident just because we were so embroiled in the conversation. Yep. Abs or you missed that Exeter?
Yeah. We wound up going like two hours out of our way. Yeah. Don't ask me my first date with my wife. We, I mean, I knew the minute I knew I was going to marry her before I even met her, but she walked in and we closed the place down and it just times stood still. Right. But it's, there's an intimacy in these moments because in some ways, you know, in a restaurant, it's the opposite of a car.
There was so much going around us, but we created a very intentional bubble and cars, the opposite in the car. You're in the bubble. So there's so many, don't ever discount mindfulness. Don't ever discount meditation. Don't ever think it's look, certainly you're not going to close your eyes and meditate on a freeway, but so many ways to practice, if you've got a tough meeting coming up, you know, that drive to work when you really don't want to get there, that's it.
That's what I would tell clients all the time , they'd say, Oh, I have to take the bus to get to. I'm like, that's it. The bus ride here is the practice. Right. And you tolerate, can you be patient? Can you be, take your earbuds out and just sit and notice the noise on the bus are the things you don't like about the bus ride, really things you don't like, or are you just making that stuff up any moment is the moment.
Yeah. Yeah. I found when I was going through my divorce and life was at its most chaotic, , my mom's addiction was off the hook and I was fighting with my ex-husband and our kids were very little and there was a thousand things to be anxious and afraid of like real things, not shit I was making up.
Right. And just the process of teaching my classes. Was a mindful activity because I had to put all of that stuff away. I had to learn to compartmentalize and put all of that stuff over here, because the way for me to do my job well was to just focus on those 25 kids in the room. And it was such a godsend having this job because I was able to get some respite from all of that noisy minutia and just focus on these 25 kids.
And I swear it was my salvation during that year of chaos. Yeah, no, I love that. I used to have, I used to suffer with panic attacks and sometimes they would hit me on a campus for just for no reason. Sure. And but when I got into class, it was like I was walking through a tunnel and the tunnel would narrow, it would narrow it narrow.
And then I would pull out my grade book. I would pull out my notes and I would say, all right, We're here now. So does this table in front of me really exist. And from then on for the next two and a half hours, I was completely focused in and then it was gone. It was, I would drive home. I'd feel great. I'd stop on the way home and get something to eat.
I turn on a movie, right. And it would go swimmingly. So it's a very powerful, I love that you bring that up because sometimes the things that we think are going to make us feel worse. I don't want to go to work today. How many times have I gotten into work? And now I work from home, but, and just focused on, I write trainings and scripts in my other life, I get involved in a training or a script that I'm writing and everything else disappears, right?
It really, this discussion of mindfulness reminds us that any moment could be the moment and any truth we hold could be turned around 180, just when we least expected. And we have to live our lives and expectation of that. Not in fear or dread, but we have to expect that at any minute, our worldview could shift because when we don't do that is when we get stuck in certain unhealthy patterns.
And we layer on defenses to protect our core trues when really we need to be revealing what our core truth really is. Not what we think it is. So any moment could be that moment. Yeah. And we can apply it to any aspect of our life at all. A hundred percent amazing. Huh. We never did the six quick questions to begin the interview.
I only make them six super quick questions super quick. And then we'll tie it up in a bow and go on with our day. , all right. So what six words would you use to describe yourself? Only six. So I only get six for now. , well I'll say, empathic curious, dedicated, growing, always growing, always growing, student.
I consider myself a perpetual student. I love any kind of introductory textbook. I love those and seeker. Just always anticipating that next thing. That's going to blow my mind. You know, I'm going to interrupt you here for just a quick second. I always have my prospective guests fill out this questionnaire.
This little survey lets me get to know them and, and, and so on. And so many of the answers like your, what your, what are you most passionate about? And so many of your answers. If you get rid of the specific detail I could have written about myself. And so the six words that you used are almost dead on the exact same six words I would use to describe myself.
I think we are destined to be friends, Jay. Well, when I met you, when I saw your podcast, I knew, I, I mean, that's why I, I mean, I wrote you a very heartfelt letter because I, I just, you just look, you just know, right? Yeah. You know, and you know, you just know, so I just knew, so I sent you the letter and here we are, and it's wonderful.
Thank you. Excellent. I'm so glad that you did. What is your favorite way to spend a day? Well, I'd have to say either out with my family. I love that. Cause we go to the park a lot and we, you know, I love walking around the neighborhood or just sitting in quiet. There are days when, sometimes I'll just sit in silence for hours.
I, I love that. That's very fulfilling for me. You have time with your solitude time with yourself? Time to, to think there was , a February break from school probably seven or eight years ago where my kids were with their father away somewhere. And I was alone in the house and we didn't have pets at that point.
And I have, perpetually nodes on my vocal chords. Is that in teachers problem, you know, I struggle with that too. Exact same issue. And I kept losing my voice. So a speech therapist suggested that I take advantage of that February break and spend the entire week in my house by myself, not uttering a word, let your voice brass.
There's no one to talk to just don't talk. And whenever I tell people that story, they're like, Oh my God, how could you do that? That's torturous. I actually loved it. It's a gift. It was a gift. Absolutely. Silence is a gift. I read, I painted, I wrote, I, you know, I did a little schoolwork, but I didn't have to talk to anyone.
In fact it was a prescription to not,
I love silence. It's yes, it's late. That's an audible silence. Right? Fruit is in the silence. It's not in the words. And then my voice was healed. It was better. Fabulous. I love that. What is your favorite childhood memory? That is probably I'm traveling with my family. We went every, we had this, we, this conversion van and I loved it and we just went everywhere, the extra tall ceiling or something.
It was great. I loved it. I loved it. So traveling with my family, absolutely the best memories from childhood a hundred percent. Do you just did road trips everywhere. Yosemite the redwoods, the bad lands, Disney everywhere. We just drove everywhere. It was great. I loved it. Do you have a lot of siblings? No, I just have, I have one brother, so yeah, so it made traveling a little easier, cause we were kind of like the small little band of, you know, people traveling around in this conversion is great.
I loved it. Uh, what is your favorite meal right now? I love food. Any food will give me a memory, but right now it's probably lasagna. With my wife's fresh baked bread and then a raspberry pie. I just heaven. I love raspberry PI. That's that's good. I love sweets candy cake pie cookies. I wish I didn't, but I do say to me, how do you eat that?
Something it's too sweet and you know what I noticed, I don't really have a too sweet that doesn't register with me. It's strange. I don't know why, but I'll just, I'll eat theirs and mine and you have double the sweet and then the honey on it. It's very strange. I'm that way? Desserts are my big thing. I love them.
But you said your wife's fresh homemade bread. If I could have a Baker bake me a loaf of bread every day, I think I could give up chocolate. Oh, that fresh, warm right out of the oven. Yep. And she'll time it sometimes. So I work at home. We all, you know, I basically eat three meals a day with my fan have forever, but she'll time the bread so that it's ready.
Right. When lunch is ready. So we'll make this homemade quick vegetable, homemade, homemade, quick vegetable soup with the ramen noodles in it. She'll slice off this bread and I'll put the butter and jam on it. And then I find that I don't, like you just said, I don't really need to go for the things that I would normally go for afterwards because I've already satisfied that through fresh bread and like raspberry jam.
Amazing. Now I'm hungry. When's lunch. I'm going to go find a raspberry PI. That's good. What one piece of advice would you like to give your younger self and would you, I mean, maybe Kline. I would, you know, barring the butterfly effect and all of them. No, no, this, this, because this wouldn't alter to me. I don't know if this would really alter the course of history.
I think it would've just made history a lot more palatable for me. Most of the things you're going to worry about are not worth worrying about. And I know that it's such a cliche. That's true. That is sometimes I'll do an exercise with myself and I'll try to go back in my memory. And this is just for me, this isn't for everybody that says won't resonate for everybody.
But I try to go back in my mind and come up with a situation. I worried about a lot that actually turned out as bad as I thought it would. I really cannot come up. Because usually what happens is I worked my way through it and was better for it. So yes, I know. It's the worry that may have prompted me to action, but I really struggled to come up with a time.
That's something I truly worried about to the ends of the world actually happened the way I thought it would. And if I could get my younger self to understand that, get a little more detachment from these things and a little space from the anxiety of it and yeah. Yeah. I would have done that. Absolutely.
No question. That's the piece of advice. So that's monumental. Yeah. Well, it wasn't, it was for me. And I try to pass that onto my, we can't tell someone else not to worry. That's that's ridiculous. That's just like spitting into the wind, but what we can do is mention it and then live it ourselves and that's, that's the best we can do.
So I keep that in mind with my kiddo. Yeah, my husband's version of that is when he w when faced with something like that. Am I going to even remember this in five years? Love it. Is it going to matter at all? Is it going to affect my life? Am I even going to remember it? And if the answer's no, he deals with what he has to deal with and then puts it away.
Tell him when this is over. Tell him, I think that's great. I will, he's probably listening right now. So, you know, last question. What is one thing that you would most like to change about the world? I think it's reflected in the nobody Bible and it's reflected in an audible silence. And it's the idea of, I wish.
We could build bridges, have more bridges of understanding between people by being more charitable to other's points of view. Yeah. And I think that goes back to mindfulness in the form of radical awareness. If we could be radically aware that the world is a circle, right? Anywhere you stand in a circle, someone stands opposite you.
It's impossible to have truth in a circle because someone's always opposite you. So if we could just have the awareness to understand that we are the product of experiences and so are others, I think that would go a long way to creating the dialogues that will bring us a little more peace and understanding.
So that's, that would be great. I'm less divisive. I think in the last, I would say five, six years, maybe fewer, there has been. Much less tolerance or respect for people of different opinions, beliefs, ideologies, points of view then than I can ever have remembered before in my lifetime. And I think, I think one of the problems we're having now is we're cloaking, we're cloaking opinions.
We're cloaking differences in truth. So instead of just sitting and having a conversation about points of view, we first make sure everybody knows that we're right. And this is the way things are now. We're going to talk about it. I mean, okay. I mean, I suppose if it even gets that far, I find that people completely shut down and refuse to even listen to somebody who they perceive might have an opinion opposite to them.
So I'm being very chair. I'm being, I'm being charitable and assuming we're even getting to the conversation. Yeah. But it's, it's very, it's very difficult and people are taking their opinions whichever way, whatever they are. It doesn't matter. They are. Yeah. It doesn't matter left or right to the nth degree because I think people now feel that's the only way they're either going to be heard.
Taken seriously, or to convince themselves that what they're saying is true. And I don't, I think we've lost middle ground. Yeah. And I'm sure a lot of your listeners probably identify as either very sensitive or empathic. And it's very hard to deal in a world like that because you know, if someone's a peacemaker or they don't like confrontation, they don't really have a seat at the table anymore.
And that's hard. That's hard because those are the people we need at the table, but they don't feel like they can come there anymore because there's nothing for them to eat. Wow. That was a good metaphor. Well, everything's food with me. Oh, I agree. I relate to that. Yeah. This has been wonderful. This is, so how do people get in touch with you?
If they would like to you are, you have a free 15 minute email@example.com forward slash coaching. I'm going to link all of these things to the show notes. So if they want to find you on socials, they want to find. Your coaching business, they want to find you on YouTube. It'll all be there.
Okay. Well, they can go to, if you go to dot com forward slash links, everything's there. Blog posts, the free mindfulness Quickstart guide, the link to the 15 minute consultation. Uh, my, my wife and I are starting up a, a mindfulness project. So if people want to learn more about that, they can go either to my, they can follow me, , at J placekicker or they can follow my wife at Melissa or they can follow us.
We just started at moving toward mindful. That's going to be our little project, so everything's there. But if people are curious about coaching free 15 minutes, if they want to just learn on their own free mindfulness Quickstart guide, if they want to read a little more, the books are priced so that there's hopefully no barrier to entry.
So if they go to dot com forward slash links, it's all there. Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us JIA. This has been a wonderful, wonderful conversation. Well, thank you. This has really, this has been a pleasure. I appreciate the time. My pleasure. Wonderful. Thanks. Thanks.