For context my nickname at work and among close friends and family is “Dragon” and our company is nicknamed “OMG” which is short for ohmygreen.
This is the email & work-chat (Slack) message I sent to my company colleagues asking for support:
Good morning my dear OMG-fam!
First, I want to acknowledge our illustrious leader Captain Kirk @Michael for always encouraging my personal growth and continuously providing pathways for it.
For as long as I can remember I have had this dream to be a transformation artist & leader. I didn’t even understand the dream until I began meditating & did Landmark (both gifts from @Michael & OMG).
A childhood friend offered to make a Vision Video for my blog. As part of my commitment to giving back to OMG I presented the idea of making a vision video for OMG to Michael as a way I could live my personal vision (transformation artist & leader) within OMG. He graciously embraced the idea. And the OMG vision video is now close to being done. 🙌🏼
This was a huge step for me. You see I come from a very DARK past… Aka Hollywood nightlife. In that world it was all about EGO, drugs & alcohols, greed, superficial beauty, covetousness, and the last thing you did was SHARE.
So even though my EGO did not want to share the idea of a VISION video because in the world of ego it would be competing with my own personal vision video for my blog… I did it anyway.
I did it because I am ready to heal. I did it because I have chosen to live a new possibility — the possibility of being a GREAT FAMILY-MAN. This includes my personal family AND my professional family (OMG). Part of being family is SHARING.
OMG has been my REDEMPTION. It has been my FAMILY to heal with.
Another thing I have come to recognize is that I still have growth & learning to do around ASKING FOR & RECEIVING support from anyone.
So I am using the OMG-starship as a vehicle to travel through this personally confusing & scary opportunity to heal around asking for & receiving support .
@Michael told me nearly 2 years ago that I should share my writing & my videos with the OMG team. Back then I was too scared.
I am still scared. But I am going to embrace the fear this time.
I wanted to humbly ASK for the support of the OMG-family to live my artistic vision .
I recently released a prelude to a vision video for my blog here:
I set a personal goal of getting 10k views. I’m a little over 8k right now.
This is me [your OMG 🐉 ] ASKING my family to support my personal artistic vision & goal.
It would truly mean the world to me if you “liked” & “shared” my video — “An Awakening Begins”.
[Even when my aim was off my Dad love & believed in me anyways.]
What makes a great FATHER?
I think two keys are UNCONDITIONAL LOVE & CONSISTENT MENTORSHIP.
Being loved even when you make mistakes and consistently being gently mentored at how to aim & re-aim at a LIFE WORTH LIVING makes a truly GREAT FATHER.
When I went through SEVERE DEPRESSION a few years ago and was considering SUICIDE I could actually openly talk to my father about it. I did not have to hold anything in secret. I shared it all. Everything I was thinking, considering, & feeling. In all its darkness. Without shame or withholding.
He didn’t judge me, tell me I was wrong, try to fix me, or try to tell me what to do. He just patiently LISTENED to me. He just gently & unconditional loved me. He did this weekly for months as I went through the darkest time of my life.
Fortunately, because of him and the rest of my incredibly unconditionally loving family I made it through this DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL and am now gratefully living the LIFE OF MY DREAMS.
And one of the biggest reasons I am now actuating living this DREAM-LIFE is because my Dad gifted me with daily mental conditioning.
Every day he would mentor my mind with three specific training routines. He started this when I was very young. At least by the age of 5. Maybe even earlier.
First, he would ask me to tell him THREE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR. They could be anything. He never judged. It could be serious or silly. I just had to give him 3 things I was grateful for. Whatever that was for me that particular day. And after each gratitude he would give me a genuine HUGE POSITIVE RESPONSE. That usually sounded like “That is GREAT, Justin!” or “Wow! So awesome! Good work!”
Secondly, he would ask me to tell him THREE THINGS I LEARNED. Again, it could be anything. I could tell him about some superpower my favorite superhero had or how I learned to do subtraction. With every learning I shared he gave me such an explosively happy & excited response I couldn’t help but feel like one of the SMARTEST people in the world — whether or not this is true remains highly controversial… 😛
Lastly, he would ask me to share THREE MISTAKES I MADE & WHAT I LEARNED FROM THEM. He would always remind me that “a mistake is NEVER a mistake if you LEARN something from it.” Again, my mistakes could be anything — big, small, silly, or serious. All I had to do was admit the mistake and then find the silver-lining learning and the gift of opportunity hidden within.
Basically, my DAD regularly coached me to live the GROWTH MINDSET in a subtle loving fatherly way.
For periods of my life I forgot these three mind-training techniques and become mentally out-of-shape. Largely due to ALCOHOL, DRUGS, and poor choices of ENVIRONMENT.
All of which led me to my deep depression & suicidal time in my life.
But my Dad never said a word. He let me take my path & travel my unique journey no matter how radically different it was from his own. He has never drank or done drugs in his entire life.
[Even when I took a completely different path he loved & believed in me…]
My Father never forced his sobriety upon me. He let me live however I chose.
He never told me what to do.
Instead he just patiently LOVED & BELIEVED IN ME. I like to think that he always knew I would reawaken to my own brilliance no matter how far off course I went.
A large part of that is because I have re-instilled this childhood mental conditioning my father entrained into me throughout my childhood along with other daily nano-habits and actually consciously set myself up for consistent vision-living.
Now these three daily mental conditioning techniques keep me empowered despite the ever-changing weather of life. They can actually turn a dark day of breakdown into a day of brilliance & breakthrough through sheer rote execution. They literally create the space & mental reprogramming to paradigm shift.
Today on Father’s Day I honor you DAD! My deep gratitude for all the love and blessing you graciously bestowed upon me and many others in our family.
[My younger brother Morgan & his son Simon, me, my Dad (maroon), and my uncle Paul (another important Father-figure in my life).]
P.S. A huge part of an empowered & enlivened life is consistency. I would be truly honored to be a part of your consistent ever-evolving transformation. Please sign up for my newsletter ALCHEMIZED and I will be your journey-partner in the adventure of consistent life transformation! 😀
SPECIAL NOTE: I am not a Father to another human yet, but I read this book all about the GROWTH MINDSET and wholeheartedly believe every parent should read it. I actually think EVERYONE who wants to be at the top of any and all areas of their life should read it.
In moving cars, parked cars, on flying airplanes, outside, inside, in total quiet, in busy noisy environments, in dark rooms, in the sunshine, at the office, at home, in random hotels and all other sorts of conditions. 365 days of meditation in a vast array of settings.
One year of unerring commitment to my awakening and my own evolution.
I did it. April 13th, 2016. This date marks one full year of meditation. Every day. Twice a day. Two sessions of 20 minutes each day. 40 minutes total per day. I didn’t skip a single meditation. In one year I meditated more than 14,600 minutes (some days I added in an additional session at my own discretion). Over 243 hours.. Over 730 sessions of meditation in the course of a year…
Looking back on this year of experience this is what I have been gifted with by my meditation practice:
1. The deepest most intimate level of self-knowledge, self-awareness, & self-acceptance I’ve ever attained in my life thus far. This has led to a sense of peace & belonging in this body, in this life, and in this world that I was unaware was even available to me in this lifetime.
2. A restoration of self-integrity & personal power that I spent 20+ years avidly destroying with self-abuse, toxic environments, drugs, alcohol, etc.
3. The GREATEST MOST LOVING, ACCEPTING, INTIMATE & UNDERSTANDING RELATIONSHIP I’ve EVER had with another person. This is easily tied as the number one reward of my meditation but I would like to think that I would have had that despite the meditation practice because SHE is that incredible. The kicker is that SHE is the reason I actually had the courage and took the action to begin this meditation journey. If she hadn’t been in my life I don’t think I would have ever begun. So in the end it was HER anyway. I call HER my Phoenix. She’s my best friend, my twin flame. She is the ever-burning FLAME that consistently rekindles my creative fire & inspires me to become the greatest man I can become. I still have a life-time to of work to do, but knowing she’s there with me makes it an exciting journey with a best friend and NOT a pain-staking obligation. I much prefer magical adventures with a magical best-friend over obligations. 🙂
4. The BEST CAREER of my life. I’m a leader and founding team-member of a Stanford startup (Oh My Green! aka OMG). We are a wellness & human potential technology company. I always dreamed of being a part of a Stanford startup. I am living that dream now. And I couldn’t ask for a more fitting industry to be in. After spending over half a decade encouraging the use of alcohol, drugs, & many other fun forms of debauchery during my stint in Hollywood Nightlife I have found redemption within OMG and bring wellness & potential to the world as part of my life’s calling.
*SPECIAL NOTE TO EVERYONE FROM MY HOLLYWOOD NIGHTLIFE PAST: I don’t regret my time in nightlife or think there is anything wrong with nightlife. Nightlife is awesome and it was a crazy awesome adventure! In truth:
I will forever be grateful for my experience in Hollywood Nightlife and forever hold a lot of LOVE for all the people that shared that journey with me.
That time of my life was absolutely necessary to shaping me into who I am and it will always be a deeply important part of my life and who I am.
I think of it as the DARKEST time of my life, but it is within the DARKNESS that I have discovered my strength & power to make a difference in the world.
(My original official Hollywood Nightlife business partners and I… the infamous Revolver Group. We were a FORCE that’s for sure — literally changed the whole game of nightlife. Love & success to you Angela, Andrew, & Benjamin! Forever grateful for the experience we shared!)
(Me & my most recent nightlife business partner & forever dear friend Kennedy (I love you, brother!)… Just another day at the office in the world of nightlife…LOL! No but, seriously… this picture pretty much sums it up… I)
(Another Hollywood throwback favorite… All key players in my life from that time. I have a ton of other honorable mentions from my Hollywood days coming too so stay tuned if I missed you… I just had to finish this piece before my creative fire went out and if I missed you here it bears no refection on your importance in my alchemical journey.)
Special shoutout to Liam and Pen&Public. Liam, you were there in Hollywood pretty much since my beginning. You were basically an unofficial business partner at the same time I was with Revolver. You blessed me with great work then. And then you moved on & created a prestigious boundary-pushing ad agency from your experience. You graced me with great work again after I finished up at Stanford and was trying to figure out my next move. This was the perfect transition that I needed. This time you took our work together to a whole OTHER LEVEL! I’ll never forget my first work event with Pen&Public…. Just a a little concert on a barge in the beautiful San Diego Bay with some small-time companies (Toyota & Pandora)… You are a BEAST, Liam! And forever a dear friend! So very grateful to you & your company. Always.
(This was only the setup for the event… You can see the magic of the event here.)
And now… I, along with my OMG superhero colleagues, hold a vision of wellness & potential for the world. Every week we deliver upon that vision.
Our mission is “empowering people to live healthy & blissful lives.” We are the vanguard of moving this world more fully into that vision of wellness & potential while driving the transformation from the industrial-economy into the age of CONNECTION. I take great joy in co-leading this revolution with my OMG Dream Team.
So what is OMG and who is the OMG Dream Team? I’m glad you asked! I’ll tell you more another time but this following video is a creative project & a testament to me living as a transformation artist & leader within my professional career. This was a vision I had that came about through my mediation practice that I chose to manifest into reality with the graces of the incredible company & team I work with at OMG. This video hold’s our VISION, exudes our ESSENCE, & showcases many of the superheroes on our Team.
*SPECIAL SHOUT TO OUR OMG FOUNDER & CEO, MICHAEL HEINRICH (narrator in video) : I met this magnificent man in one of my last & most favorite classes at Stanford after returning from a 7-8 year leave of absence. Also known as dropping out with only 2 quarters to go… Genius! But, actually one of the best decisions of my life… Michael was working on his master’s degree and had just created the first version of the concept for OMG a few weeks prior in another grad-level class at Stanford as a project. He was working on his class project by being one of the projects in my class. This is confusing but bear with me. Stanford can be confusing to outsiders but when you’re in the innovation hub of the world I swear it all makes sense. As part of my class, Global Entrepreneurial Marketing (aka GEM), we got to work on real-life startups/companies and Michael was pitching his startup class project to our class. I was immediately enamored by him. Call it an instant man-crush if you will. After being gone from Stanford undergrad for almost a decade I was in a class of mostly 20-ish year-olds and desperately looking for friends my age (30-ish). During his presentation he talked about his passion for meditation, yoga, & kung-fu. All things I thought were rad. So, I randomly approached him after his presentation and pretty much said, “I think you are cool, I am looking for friends my age, can we be friends?” He looked at me with the slightest hint of a pause and said, “Sure.” I can’t blame him for the pause. I would have paused too if some random person approached me with a crazed look in their eyes and asked to be friends.
I’ll save the rest of the Michael & Justin story for another time, but I wanted to provide a basis of understanding how the evolution of my career and meditation practice came to be. You see, Michael holds a vision of me that I am still learning to embrace and live. Michael is coming up on a decade of meditation and it was this evolutionary man who gifted me with my meditation practice. It was the first major OMG company benefit. He literally showed me the bridge to another life and paid my toll. He paid for my life partner as well. I think he somehow knew I needed her with me to take the leap of faith. If that isn’t belief in another, faith, unconditional love & compassion, and a whole lot of intuition then I don’t know the meaning of those words. **I cried writing this part… that is how deeply his graciousness towards me & my Phoenix has touched me.**
I now know that meditation is one of the most important things in my life and I will forever be grateful to our visionary OMG Commander-in-Chief. We call him Captain Kirk and we are definitely on the Starship. In him I found not only someone I could follow, but someone who empowered me to lead in ways that were deeply authentic to my core being. I am still learning how to both follow & lead, but with my spiritual brother it has been a lot of fun and a very much an exciting journey!
5. I am living my creative vision of being a transformation artist & leader as a writer, blogger/vlogger, & alchemist. This here ever-expanding blog and my ever-growing Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, & Twitter are all LIVING EXPRESSIONS of this vision.
I creatively express with integrity & authenticity AND I have a full-time job at a fast-growing Stanford startup at the same time! I never thought I could live my creative dreams and at the same time live my Stanford startup dream. I always thought I would have to choose one or the other. Turns out that was just a limiting & false belief I inadvertently “chose” to believe.
I thought about this writing & blogging/vlogging vision pretty much every week since 2005-ish. I didn’t even start writing until January 31, 2015. Yes… I thought about writing and blogging/vlogging for almost 10 years and had never filmed a video or creatively written outside of a school/class assignment…. And even that writing was pretty lame, inauthentic, and uncreative writing that was written for the sole purpose of getting good grades. More on that 10 years of waiting to “start when I was ready” here.
My meditation practice began a few months after my writing. And here we are today… I am a writing machine! And I’m becoming a filming beast too! This article explains how I started my writing and this article explains my current practice of 500+ words of writing per day. The next step for me is to copy my writing formula and apply it to my video & audio ventures.
My vision of myself as a transformation artist & leader is in its infancy but the epic journey is well underway! Finally! And my role at OMG supports and empowers this vision. I literally have permission and encouragement by my company CEO to live this vision in every way possible and he is constantly providing opportunities to empower this vision. Wait, I can have a job and live my dreams?!A whole new world of possibility revealed itself this last year…
I am still learning to live in this realm of possibility and I do fall out of it, but thankfully I have my Phoenix & Captain Kirk to lend a hand when I stumble.
(Michael aka “Captain Kirk”, me aka “Dragon“, & Phoenix at StartX – Stanford’s startup accelerator where OMG got it first major boost)
6. I am sober, happy, & very much ALIVE (feeling magical again without drugs!). After becoming sober from marijuana I felt like I lost the “magic transcendental” space I was regularly put in through my use of cannabis. Through meditation I have rediscovered the innocent joy and magic of life without drugs or alcohol.
I’ve somehow recaptured the wonder of childhood where I didn’t need drugs to see & experience the magic of life on a regular basis.
(CAUTION: Man-child at play… No alcohol or drugs powered this Peter-Pan flight! :P)
For the record, at the time of this writing I am over 3 years sober from marijuana and will be two years sober from alcohol in September 2016. I was an everyday pot-smoker for 4-5 years and quasi-alcoholic since 2002. I am still confused by what really qualifies as alcoholism as I rarely drank by myself, but I did drink circumstantially with regularity. I binge drank like crazy during college the first time around and I’m sure one can imagine how often I drank while working in nightlife… Basically every day of work… I am sure different people living different lifestyles could argue either way. In the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’ve always wanted that sense of magic & wonder I had during childhood back. When I lost it growing up I rediscovered it in drugs and alcohol, but I the side-effects took a heavy toll… [more on that here]. Now, thanks to my meditation, I got my natural & innate magic back!⚡️☄🐉
7. I am in the best physical shape of my life. No steroids or crazy illegal supplements. There is another practice that played an even greater part of this and I will be sharing that in another post in the near future [signup here if you want to make sure I email it to you when I finally release it]. My eating strategy and philosophy also plays a huge role (post coming on that too). Nonetheless, the meditation definitely plays a significant part and empowers the other techniques I use to be in awesome shape year-round.
(No steroids, no illegal supplements, all-natural FitnessRake & FlexEating — my fun, flexible, & year-round flex-worthy eating strategy/philosophy. Post on FlexEating in-development…sign up here to receive it when it’s released.)
8. Space. Meditation gave me space. Space in my mind. Space in my emotions. Space in my reactions to things in life. You could also call it awareness or mindfulness. The more I meditate the more space I discover. I am able to pause before reacting to things that would have set off pre-meditating Justin. This has done WONDERS for my relationship and just about every other area of my life. Instead of reacting, I respond from a place spaciousness & awareness. It is so much more powerful & profound than reacting.
9. Clarity. Clarity of intent. Clarity of action. In other words, I am also in the best mental shape of my life. Again, the more I meditate the clearer both my being and action in the world becomes. It is a slow and subtle shift and I am really only noticing it a year later, but now looking at all that I’ve done in the last year even I am amazed at the crystallization of long-held dreams and personal accomplishment.
10. A radical reduction of the frequency and intensity of my ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, & NEGATIVE MENTAL/EMOTIONAL STATES. Looking back I can confidently say that I’ve experienced at least a 50% reduction in both the frequency and intensity of my anxiety and bouts of depression. It may even be as a 70-80% reduction, but I am still observing myself in comparison to a year ago and it isn’t an exact quantification process. Nonetheless, considering that I am not currently doing therapy or taking any prescription/recreational drugs this is HUGE! I am naturally able to stay in positive states more often & regularly. AND… I move through darker states much more easily now thanks to my meditation practice.
11. A deep understanding, appreciation, and acknowledgement of my power to commit to something. This alone has unlocked me in so many ways. Commitment has been a big area of healing, growth, & transformation for me. Since meditation I have come a LONG way from my old uncommitted-self. And now that I’ve completed 1-year without breaking my commitment to meditation…
I KNOW WITH PERFECT FAITH THAT I HAVE THE POWER TO TRULY COMMIT TO ANYTHING IF I CHOOSE TO.
The secret is in the power of decision & choice. When I began this meditation journey I made the decision that I would meditate twice-a-day. Every. Single. Day. For 365 days in a row. I CHOSE because I CHOSE. And I decided that there was no exception to this decision.
When I crystalized that decision in my head & heart and took that stand… EVERYTHING in my life adjusted itself to support that choice.
There were some days where I had to jockey my schedule and get creative, but honestly most days it was pretty easy to accomplish simply because I made a decision that had no exceptions. I also didn’t allow there to be any excuse for reneging on this agreement I made with myself.
I believe anyone can do this with anything important in their life. But first, one must FULLY & COMPLETELY make a decision and fully stand in that choice. I am still very much learning how to do this in other areas of my life. I did that with OMG when I finally committed & came on full-time. And again, this choosing to commit TRANSFORMED my life. I’ve done it in my relationship with my Phoenix and my commitment to ever-continuous healing, growth, & transformation, but I still have plenty of areas where I still need to heal & transform my responsibility & commitment. I’ve also committed to sharing these healing/healed wounds here on this blog once they are at a level where I believe the sharing will be of service.
Special note: I am still questioning and exploring just how many things you can an “ideal commitment” with at the same time. I chose ONE thing and committed to it for a year. If you are thinking about trying an “ideal commitment” be wise and choose to do this with only one thing as you test it out for yourself in some new area of your life. Chances are you already have a “ideal commitment” like this to something in your life (partner, paying taxes, your career advancement, etc.). Take a moment and look at your life. Look and see what you are doing in the areas of your life where you naturally already have an “ideal commitment” and try applying it to another area. I can almost guarantee you have at least one, if not several “ideal commitments” that some deep part of you made with unwavering commitment. Good chance you made some of these without even being aware of how deep your commitment was. I did this with my exercise, although I didn’t realize it at the time. For years I trained relentlessly, almost never taking a day off from the gym. I eventually learned that it is better to have some rest days (more on that later), but for whatever reason when I began my Transcendental Meditation practice I immediately applied the same conviction and it turned into 365+ days in a row.
If you decide to to consciously initiate another “ideal commitment” and you fail — forgive yourself and begin again. I’ve committed to plenty of things and broken the commitment over and over again. My writing & blogging is a living example of a reoccurring broken agreement with myself despite this commitment. One thing is for sure though. As soon as I publicly posted that piece of creative work regarding my commitment I instantly began holding to the agreement more often than not. And since sharing my commitment to this endeavor my commitment just keeps on growing stronger. Yay! Accountability leveraged to the hilt with social media! 😛 Accountability is a powerful tool (another thing I am finally learning).
I don’t know if I got lucky with my “ideal commitment” to meditation or what. But I know I could do it again. 😉
So… Why Transcendental Meditation?
Before I discovered Transcendental Meditation (TM) I would have thought you were bat-shit crazy if you had told me that I could meditate anywhere at any time in any environment, let alone keep it up every day for an entire year. And I probably would have thought of punching you when you told me to do it twice a day. You see I had this preconceived notion that you basically HAD to have a monk-like environment to meditate and sit in some uncomfortable position.
After a year of meditation in all sorts of environments that limiting belief has been completely shattered.
I also always thought that my mind was just too busy and active to ever meditate. Before TM I thought “I think too much to ever truly meditate.” I had even tried several different meditation practices and failed miserably. I still remember having to do a group a meditation during my yoga teacher trainer certification and literally feeling like I was going out of mind. My monkey mind literally feeling like I was going to break, go insane, and just walk out on the group. I stuck through it though… Despite the misery of it… It was a basic breath-based meditation and it was before I learned TM.
As I mentioned earlier, my foundational meditation practice is Transcendental Meditation (TM). This is a specific technique of meditation that is mantra-based. Do I think it is THE WAY ONLY WAY TO MEDITATE? Definitely not. Just like I don’t think bodybuilding and yoga are the only ways to exercise. They just happen to be natural modes of physical expression for my unique body. TM happens to be a mental practice I naturally experience affinity with. Furthermore, bodybuilding, yoga, & transcendental meditation not only work really well for me…
I regularly experience deep joy, love, & happiness from my practice of these disciplines.
I also still rollerblade and as much as I want to bring rollerblading back into vogue the point I am making is that does not mean any of those practices are for you (although you should definitely give rollerblading another shot). The only way to find out is to try it for yourself. I know people who have been doing TM for years and I know people who have done TM and decided it wasn’t for them. And in both cases my belief in their invaluable worth as people is definitely not determined by their meditation practice no matter its current state.
Here is what works for me about Transcendental Meditation (TM):
It is easy & it works for me. Probably the most important points.
It is a specific technique that works exceptionally well with my hyperactive, always-thinking, overly-cerebral mind.
You can literally do it ANYWHERE in ANY ENVIRONMENT/CONDITION.
You don’t need any external thing to do it. Just your beautiful & divine self. And you are always with you. No app, no special clothing, no special place, & no timer needed. (Personally, I do usually use a timer-alarm to avoid falling into a super long meditation and messing up my daily schedule, but I know plenty of TM-ers who use no alarm at all.)
IN SHORT RECAP ON WHY I USE TM:
It the most dynamic & robust meditation technique I’ve discovered. It is easy & it works (scientifically & personally proven).For an entrepreneur or anyone who has a very active life these qualities make it a sustainable practice that can live within & EMPOWER just about any lifestyle.
Please note the emphasis on “I”. This practice may not be for everyone. It is an invaluable practice for me personally.
On a random side note, what is really personally interesting for me is that TM has opened me up to explore & really embrace several types of meditation. Where as before I tried them and could barely get through a few minutes I can now do them easily. I like to think about it in the sense that since I bodybuild and do yoga I am naturally fairly good at most things that require physical effort. TM is like my mental bodybuilding/yoga and over the course of the last year I’ve delved into mindfulness, Yoga Nidra, lucid dreaming, and various guided mediations. All with great ease and enjoyment. There is a list of other types meditation that I am into at the bottom of another article I wrote [see here].
Here is what I DO NOT necessarily appreciate about TM:
The training to learn it can be pretty expensive. Mine was over $700 and that is why it was such a huge deal that Michael gifted it to me & my partner. I have mixed feelings about the cost. On one hand I know from personal experience that when something isn’t cheap to get you tend to care a whole lot more for it, proactively invest your time & energy into it, and actually make strong & regular use of it. “Getting your money’s worth” is a saying that comes to mind. So, I can see how the steep cost of TM actually can play a large role in people sticking with it long enough to experience and notice the benefits and by that time the chances of them keeping the practice indefinitely go way up. In that light, the cost could be considered a benefit. On the other hand, it can be a limiting factor that scare people away or make it inaccessible to some. I believe there are discounts, scholarships, and financial need available to those in need but don’t quote me on that.
There is a weird social stigma around TM floating around on the internet and among groups of people. It reminds me of the Mac versus Windows ridiculousness. Or the cult-like following or avoidance of Apple products in general. For the record it is not a cult. The TM organization does NOT harass me in any way. They do not even randomly call me and try to get me to spend more of my money. Even my beloved alma mater does that! [I actually appreciate it by-the-way because I love giving back to Stanford. Keep calling me! I used to make those calls to raise money for Stanford too.]. Here is the way I think of it: if you think TM is a cult then you should also consider the following successful companies as cults by the same logic: SoulCycle, Nike, Apple, Amazon, Whole Foods, etc. All of these companies are hyper successful in their field of business. So is TM. It just happens to do business in the field of meditation. I think that any organization or person doing work to bring mediation to world is doing something valuable & noble.
Ok, I think that is a concise and honest overview of the pros & cons of TM as specific meditation practice. Now back to the big picture…
Here is how I like to think about my meditation practice:
It is an infinite ever-expanding foundation.
As you invest in the practice the foundation grows with each session. It is the foundation which you can build everything else in your life upon. Want to build a castle in the sky? You will need a foundation for that. Can you build a home without a foundation? Sure, but maybe only one or two stories high. And the longevity & vitality of that house will be severely limited & compromised. Can you build a skyscraper that touches the clouds & sky above without a foundation? Definitely not. Is meditation the ONLY foundation upon which to build your castle? Nope, there are plenty of incredible people doing incredible things that don’t meditate. But I guarantee you they have discovered some foundation which to build upon — faith, family, mindset, & other various human potential practices. Meditation is just one scientifically proven foundation.
The other aspect of regular meditation that is so powerful and may be under-realized is that it acts like an AMPLIFIER to every positive thing you do in your life. And in converse it acts as DAMPENER to the harmful things you still do… often leading to the release of these negative habits.
I personally witnessed this positive amplification and negative dampening in so many areas of my life now that I’m looking back over the last year. I am utterly in awe! But it all happens so subtly with meditation and often it was easy to miss it happening. It is only retrospect that I can see just how much of impact meditation has had in so many ways.
DO PEOPLE YOU KNOW & ADMIRE MEDITATE?
You would be surprised at how many incredibly successful & happy people DO meditate. I know I was when I first began to explore my meditation practice. As I delved into it I realized that a lot of people I admire meditate, but aren’t overly open about it. Not that they hide it, they just don’t speak about it much. It was like the common force-factor, or golden-thread, that many people I admired shared. Here are a some of my favorites: Hugh Jackman (aka Wolverine — my personal favorite), George Lucas, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Russell Simmons, Russel Brand, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Ferriss (another personal favorite), Justin Boreta of The Glitch Mob (one of my favorite music groups), Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Bridges, Cheryl Crow, Ellen Degeneres, Cameron Diaz, Clint Eastwood, Eva Mendes, Rick Rubin, Miguel (R&B artist), Moby, Katy Perry, Martin Scorsese, Howard Stern, Liv Taylor, Ray Dalio and so many other famous & uber successful people. AND just about every recent spiritual leader (Ghandi, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, etc.). And let us not forget Buddha & Jesus and all the other great spiritual masters of our short human history.
I am also taking a wild guess that probably a lot of the super successful people you admire meditate and you may not even be aware of it.
As in pretty much all areas of life, what is most important is finding what is enjoyable and sustainable for you & your lifestyle. I cannot emphasis the word ENJOYABLE & SUSTAINABLE enough. If it is not personally FUN (as in you like to do it) then you will likely not keep it up over a long period of time. This is incredibly true for a physical fitness routine and the same truth applies to most areas of life I think. Think about it… If you don’t enjoy your marriage or job chances are you will eventually give it up despite the original commitment and agreements you made.
I had to do a lot of exploring to find a meditation practice that I could easily stick to. TM happened to be that for me. Does it help that most of the living famous people I mentioned above also do TM? Yes it does. Am I following? Yes I am. I have learned that if you want to be a great leader you have to be a great follower. Then you add your own unique alchemical twist to it all and authentically lead in your own way. 😉
Before I end this let’s dispel some common myths about me & meditation in general:
Can I levitate and move objects with my mind? Not yet, but I am still working on it. I can do some pretty cool yoga poses and I like to jump around (see picture above). Nonetheless, I’ve yet to meet a meditator who can fly or has the power of telekinesis. However, there is something about the increase of synchronicity that happens with meditation the longer you do it. And that is truly magical! It isn’t really something I can fully explain (yet) but the increase of random incredible things syncing up and happening for the betterment of my life is palpable compared to the years before I meditated.
Do I have mind-control over myself & others? I definitely have a much more harmonious relationship with my mind and the minds of others. I am not able to 100% control my monkey mind or make other people do things they don’t want to do. True power is self-mastery. And meditation has been playing a huge part for me in coming into greater mastery over my own mind. I still have a long way to go, but I’m infinitely further along than I was a year ago.
Have I completely removed breakdowns and all darker states of being & existence? LOL! This is life. I am human. I still have dark days, experience failure, over-react, and cause pain/suffering/hurt to others and myself. Even superheroes experience all of this. But I now have a level of power to move through these experiences with grace that was unavailable to me before meditation. And for that I am deeply thankful and have greater faith in myself and my life during the rainy days.
Have I fully overcome all of my anxiety & depression of the past? Nope. They are still with me. I still find myself experiencing mind-breaking levels of anxiety at times and do still fall into mini-bouts of depression [see here for more on that]. BUT! The frequency and intensity of these states has dramatically reduced over the course of the last year of meditation. I’ve also discovered the space to meet and embrace these states with compassion instead of trying to fight, beat, or kill them. I also discovered that resisting these states only seems to make them stronger and endure longer. I now have the space and courage to heal & integrate my anxiety and depression as they come up in everyday life thanks to my meditation.
Do I literally stop my thinking mind through my meditation practice? Ha! Ya right! I still have a billion thoughts whizzing around in my mind quite regularly. However, I do find myself falling into pure presence more and more. This is feeling of complete being with everything that is suspended from time. I am still coming to understand this, but I think it is what some would call a blissful state of existence. Also, my ability to focus has dramatically increased due to my meditation. This has benefits in so many areas of my life. Think about it. How much more could you do if you could really focus well on the things that are important to you?
The fact that I am living a dream working at a Stanford startup in Silicon Valley, while consistently expanding my vision of myself as transformation artist & leader through my blog & on other social media platforms, am in excellent physical health & condition, have an incredibly happy & harmonious relationship with a divine being & my family, etc. should all speak to the power of focus I derive from a regular meditation practice. I am far from perfect. I know this. I have tons of growth still to do. But now I am firing on way more pistons at the same time in unison. And it seems like the longer I meditate the more horsepower I get to use for whatever I find personally meaningful & important.
Do I sit in lotus pose or cross-legged every time I meditate? I can’t even do lotus pose (yet) and I am a certified yoga teacher. This is mostly due to an old hip injury from a bike/car accident (I was on the bike). But the truth is that lotus pose has ZERO bearing on one’s ability to meditate. And I don’t think I sat cross-legged for even one meditation session in the last year. All that is really important is to have a straight (but relaxed) spine. Most of the time I sit up in a bed, chair, or couch. If I am outside I will usually find something to rest my back against. One of the keys to great sustainable meditation is being comfortable while you meditate. The common vision of the yogi sitting in lotus or cross-legged is because those people do yoga every day and have been for years. Sitting in those positions is comfortable for them. For many of us those two sitting positions are painful or even impossible. The truth is most of the time when I meditate I sit in my bed with my back against the headrest and my legs fully extended out in front of me resting along the mattress. Nice & comfortable for me. Find a meditation and mediation posture that works for you, don’t buy into some purposeless dogma that demands a certain position. Meditation is an inner pose.
Is every meditation amazing & serene? Definitely not. Just like my bodybuilding & yoga sessions some days are pure joy and full of transcendence. Other times I feel off and out of my power. Some meditations literally suck and I just bear through the 20 minutes. Just like some of my exercise sessions suck. Yet each time I complete a workout or a meditation never have I thought, “that was a waste of time.” The magic comes from the regular practice. I’ve discovered that the practice, process or journey is the real fortune of meditation, bodybuilding, yoga, or any endeavor really.
Did I get instant results? Again, I return to my bodybuilding and yoga analogy. One bodybuilding session or even several isn’t going to suddenly make me ripped and shredded. One yoga session or even a few won’t completely realign my body and make me super flexible. The fruit is in the ongoing practice. Until I sat down to write this piece I wasn’t even fully aware of all the incredible benefits of my year of daily meditation. The transformation is slow and subtle… But it’s lasting! REMEMBER: ever-growing foundation upon which you can build upon.
I think that is it for now. I may or may not come back at some point and add some more if it comes to me, but I think this is a pretty comprehensive review of my experience from of a year of daily meditation.
In closing I leave you with this…
Did meditation solve all my problems? No. I still have tons of growth opportunities. But it did slow-motion catapult me into a RADICAL NEW REALM OF POSSIBILITY. It is paradoxical because the transformation happens ever-so-slowing. But it is lasting & compounds over time. Over weeks or even a couple months it seems like nothing happened. Over a year… Two different worlds.
One last thing to note is that I have been experiencing what some would call an awake transcendent state. These just started happening towards the end of my year of meditation. Or I just started becoming aware of them. Either way, I am still coming to understand them. For now I am content to enjoy the mystery of them and sit in ambiguity. All I can really say for now is that these experiences are so worth a year of daily meditation! You can read about the experiences here & here. Fair warning, these are direct from my journal I keep and may be a little confusing.
If you read this far… Thank you! I deeply appreciate your curiosity and hope you enjoyed reading about my journey with meditation so far. If you didn’t, that’s okay too. You see, I really wrote this for me. I wanted to commemorate something that is so deeply intimate and profound to me and the best way for me to honor that was by writing about it and then sharing it without attachment to how long it ended up being or having any attachment to the response it got. I am grateful to anyone and everyone who even read a sentence of this and shared in my honor and acknowledgment of a major milestone in my life.
And if you are curious about meditation… Go explore! I truly believe there is a meditation practice for everyone! You just have to be open to the possibility and take courageous action until you find one that clicks. And I promise you will know when it does. If it hasn’t clicked yet and you have been exploring it just means you’re meant to keep being curious, open, & actively searching. Hell, I am still curious and exploring the infinite inner realms through various modes of transportation. I am NOT in it for the destination. I am in it for the alchemical journey! Feel free to join me! 😀