MGU 45 | Tea Ceremony Magic

 

In this era of constantly upgrading tools for connection, disconnect has become so typical regardless of how much materials things aim to connect one another. Today, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen are joined by Adam Yasmin to talk about the power of connecting with other, minimalism, and having more unstructured time. Adam is a father, podcast host, tea expert, and digital wellness consultant bringing immersive sensory-rich tea experiences to corporate partners, events, and retreats. Unlocking parenthood, he shares his own experiences of parenting, spending more time with his daughter, and not letting family trauma prevent him from connecting with the people who matter. They also discuss technology and Adam’s tea ceremony magic which paves to self-discovery and mental liberation.

Listen to the podcast here:

Connecting With Others Through Parenthood, Tea Ceremonies, And Being Offline With Adam Yasmin

Why are you acting like this is our first time doing this? 

My brain function is probably 7%.

Your brain function is like an airport terminal.

It’s six airplanes in 48 hours.

Brendon Burchard says, “The power plant doesn’t have energy. It generates it.” Isn’t that good?

It’s a good quote. I feel like that’s apropos, Adam, of something you shared regarding parenthood where it unlocks, and I’m paraphrasing. There are different levels of energy and focus and will that you can access.

There are also latent superpowers.

Latent superpowers as a parent.

This has to be the title of this episode.

“Unlocking your latent superpowers.”

It’s funny though because a lot of times we’ll say out loud like, “That’s the title of this episode.” Our podcast team picks a completely different title for whatever reason, maybe it’s not good SEO. 

I was listening to your episode with Justin. I love how that was always a touchpoint in the whole conversation. I was like, “That’s the name of this episode.”

I don’t know if any of those titles were chosen.

SEO reign supreme, but we want the world superpowers in there. 

At least it’s acknowledged. That was a good one. To the reader, if you haven’t read that, it’s episode 30 it’s called The Power of Yes.

I also want to shout out to the breadth and depth of the links. 

You’ve been doing those, Jason? Do you want a pat on the back? It’s a good reminder that if you’re reading this and you’re curious about anything we talk about, such as Adam, you want to know more about what he’s doing and posting online, you can find all those at Wellevatr.com. You could even lookup on Google, This Might Get Uncomfortable, and you’ll find it. It’s not that challenging. 

Speaking of uncomfortable, the parent thing. First of all, as Whitney and I have both disclosed here, we’ve talked about families, romance, love and the prospect of parenthood. The only person in the room is you, Mr. Yasmin, who has a lovely, incredible daughter and a beautiful partner in your life. You know how much adoration and love I have for you, guys. I consider you family. It’s been an interesting thing to observe your journey as a father and a co-parent with your beautiful daughter. What does that mean when you say latent superpowers? The word, latent, implies these are things that are stored deep within you or buried or things that maybe you haven’t yet accessed fully. What do you mean when you say that? 

Without being an expert and I don’t feel like I’m an expert on anything.

We have another episode we did about, is anybody an expert? Do you think anybody is an expert? 

It’s entertaining to listen to experts.

Is it possible to be an expert or it depends on your definition? What’s your definition of expertise? 

You may have a lot of experience with something. That experience may span a decade or decades, and I don’t. I’m going to invest time in listening to and hearing what you have to say about a subject. For instance, I have years of experience with this niche, exceptionally rarity micro verse called Gongfu Cha. To someone else who has no context, I may be a tea expert.

Maybe it’s about context or it could be 10,000-Hours, as Malcolm Gladwell says. Who knows?

MGU 45 | Tea Ceremony MagicWe’re being tangential, who is keeping track? I’ve got this note in my iPhone. I’m at 9,997 hours. Three more hours and I’m going to be an expert. That’s BS.

That book was sadly already a bit outdated. I read that book in 2010. Our definitions of experts have changed so much, especially with the online world. People call themselves experts.

Our benchmarks are different than they were a few years ago. How many hours of tea exploration, tea drinking, tea tasting have I steeped myself in? It gets punny. How many hours if I span across eleven years?

How many hours you’re in? 

Let’s say on average.

I need an advanced calculator for this. 

Let’s be conservative and say an hour a day.

That would be 365 hours.

365 hours times 11.

Jason doesn’t even need a calculator.

Some days I’m sitting for five hours.

Did you know that there are 8,760 hours in a calendar year? Do you think that’s a lot or a little? 

That would be less than I would’ve expected. If you would’ve asked me to pull a number straight out of thin air, I would’ve guessed probably over 10,000. 

That means 10,000 hours, if you spent every single hour of the year working on your craft, it would take you over a year, but that’s discounting sleeping.

That’s another thing about paranoia. Sleep becomes not relative.

If you devote three hours per day, which is approximately a little over nine years to reach 10,000 hours. If you’re only able to do one hour a day, that would take you 27 years to reach 10,000 hours.

If we’re going to talk about 10,000 hours, what a strange arbitrary number?

It’s not. The book outlines why he believes that. It’s based on data. It’s not some random number he picks. You look it up, it’s anything else that comes out for a while. People want to disprove it. The first article is Why the 10,000-Hour Rule is Wrong, how to master a skill.

Everything to me sounds clickbait-y. Everything is, “Pay attention to me. I have something to say. I want to refute.”

It’s like having a kid. 

In what sense? 

We’re in such a particular phase with our daughter.

She’s one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen in my life I must say. Jason’s obsessed with her. 

MGU 45 | Tea Ceremony Magic

 

She’s something. There’s something about her.

He’s lost for words. He’s not even nodding his head. 

You guys did great work. 

There’s something about her. I feel like it could be a whole movie.

There are a few kids that I meet and it seems like we are in that age range where a lot of our friends are having children. For the three of us, Whitney, Adam and myself, maybe some of the readers, we’re in that age range. People are popping out babies. She’s one of those rare kids to me that there is something of her essence, her personality and her spirit. I don’t know that I’ve ever described it before your daughter. If I could be guaranteed one like that, I’d consider it.

I love how you act like that’s a new thought.

It’s not a new thought. I was trying to describe her but the best way is there’s resonance and beauty and freedom and a joy that is not necessarily present in every child that I meet. There’s something uniquely resonant about how I like being around that. She’s wonderful.

It’s interesting to be able to respond slowly to a praise like that and say there’s a lot of work that goes into parenthood. No one will ever know until they are in the crucible themselves. There are a couple of clichés people throw around. You lose a lot of sleep, you’re exhausted, it’s frustrating, it’s challenging and sometimes it’s scary and yet, the rewards are A, B, C, D, E, F, G. To look at her through the eyes of a friend or the eyes of our community and to receive that praise, I don’t know what the word is because there’s no word for it. It’s lovely to hear that. Everything that’s happened, months of crazy, not exactly sleep. Not that it was torturous, but it’s having a newborn and then an infant. The phase of toddlerhood is quite long.

Dealing with the minefield of your own childhood life trauma, your parents, the extended family, the society you live in, the neighborhood you live in, what you’re dealing with maybe on a daily basis. It’s to respond to you and to say thank you because you’ve been around enough. You came to Maui with us, you spent 1 or 2 weeks with us. You saw her at two at the pinnacle of a toddler. You’ve spent enough time with us to know what our parenting style is like. I don’t know how to speak about it in terms of, “We are like this.” I don’t think it easily categorizes or we adhere to certain labels. There is a lot to be said about praising parents for whatever job they’re able to do in terms of raising kids.

It’s confronting. This can go in any number of branches into other topics. From the get-go, we’re not going to talk to our kid like she’s a dog or a doll or something where you change your tone of voice. Not to dog on that, at least I was, I can’t speak for Pam, but I know that for myself, I was sensitive and aware of how I was communicating with or attending to or listening to my kid. Honestly, I want to pat myself on the back. Looking back on choosing to be close to home, choosing a freelance life, as hard is freelance life is like for me. I’m only speaking subjectively, but I’m making all these choices. Even though some choices for me are damaging and in some respects, damaging to myself, like accruing debt or not working enough or not saving enough. For me, always choosing to be as close to her as possible and as a present as possible, that’s something that’s maybe not apparent when you meet her. You’re commenting about your interactions with her, your experience of her. I feel like a lot of that is there that is not able to speak to. I say that as someone who’s been abandoned by his dad at a ripe age. Not that young, but somewhere between 9 and 12. I don’t have a ton of early memories of my childhood. Memories start to become vivid after 6 or 7. It’s not like I didn’t have a childhood at all. I may be seemed to be keeping early childhood memories locked away or something, maybe stored away or stowed away.

Is that part of what you feel like has been unlocked as a parent?

The experience of being a parent to my daughter has been a way for me to form a new relationship with my early memories. Whatever it was that was challenging or traumatic, which is particular to my family’s story. To be able to see her and accept her as she is and to always choose to be super close not just physically, we’re interacting and we’re talking and I’m accessible. That’s the biggest thing for me coming from the memories of my childhood. Both my parents seem to have been inaccessible.

Is it physically, emotionally or both? 

Both. With my mother, emotionally, as someone who herself was dealing with a ton of childhood and adolescent trauma. With my dad physically, because he physically wasn’t around before he abandoned us, not to diminish that. That’s real. He was not around. He was constantly traveling or in and out of the house. There wasn’t a lot of physical memory with him. Remembering all of that or thinking about all of that or maybe even focusing on certain aspects of it is always what has been my beacon of how I want to parent. I want to parent my kid based on everything that I experienced as a child or as an adolescent. Not to say every choice that I’ve made or that we’ve made has resulted in Cora being who she is. She is herself. I like to think that all those variables are there.

This process of being a parent and parenting, do you feel that’s accelerated your healing and transformation process as a result of looking at the family trauma, looking at what you went through and not only saying, “I know what not to do per se?” I hear that a lot of like, “I don’t know what I’m doing as a parent, but I know what not to do because of what I went through.” Beyond that, do you feel like she’s been an accelerative force or being a parent has been an accelerative force to have that mirror or maybe even deeper layers of trauma or hurt you weren’t aware of and zooming those and looking at those? Has it been a catalyst for that?

It’s been a catalyst. It’s made it real to the point whereby the time she wasn’t even yet two, by the time she was 1.5 years old, my relationship with my mother and her husband, my stepdad, was toxic. I will touch on it. I’m an open book about it, but it was a toxic relationship and being gaslit by them, particularly her. As a parent to a 1.5-year-old, I was like, “I can’t do this anymore. My well-being is on the rocks.” Not being an expert on PTSD, I was already developing by that point PTSD, responses to being gaslit on the telephone or in person.

Can you describe your definition of gaslighting for people that either don’t know the term that well or to clarify what you mean and what your experience has been with that? 

I don’t know if I have a textbook definition. From an outside perspective because it’s experiential, if I look at gaslighting objectively, I could say when someone is telling you you’re crazy and you believe them. That’s the core fundamental.

Either you’re not crazy but they’re convincing you or you might be crazy, you might not be, but you believe them?

Yeah. Someone is telling you that you’re wrong or your experience or your reality is wrong, then they make you feel bad about it. In my experience, it was the same script, almost the same encore performance. Particular to my mother, she was unable to be empathetic to her children, rooted in victim identity, “Your father did this to me,” and then it evolved into, “You did this to me because of choices that I made as an adult wanting to have a connection with my family or my father. There’s a whole family on his side that lives in Israel. Choosing to be connected to people when they’re still around and they’re not a danger to my life meant that I was a traitor because I should have been avenging. Her script was like, “You should have been avenging me because of the pain I endured or the suffering I endured raising you, my sons. Making these choices to live where we were living, how we were living giving you the bedroom while I would sleep on the couch.” It’s the lashes on the back kind of thing. Figuring out as an adult what to do with that guilt? It was much like, “You’re telling me I should feel guilty.”

Was it shame? 

Yeah. I would say there are aspects of shame. Not that you should be ashamed, but you’re a traitor for not doing what I want you to do. It was never worded as she would say like, “You’re pursuing your happiness on your terms.” That makes me feel bad because I have feelings about it. It was like, “You should be doing this.” It was always dramatic, which has led me to be this creature of comfort and absolute maintaining homeostasis and balance of like, “I don’t get too excited and I don’t want to get too upset.” It’s a survival mechanism.

Can I ask you a question about this? I often wonder, as adults it’s common to reflect in the way that we are parenting. If we’re interested in personal development, some people don’t think about these things simply because that’s part of their survival mode. If they think about it too much, it brings up too much pain. That’s part of the theme of this is encouraging people to get uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to examine the way that we brought up. It’s uncomfortable to unlock painful memories from our childhood. It’s hard to do that too. I enjoy doing those things. I’m on a quest to go back and find the roots of my suffering or to rebook. 

Gaslighting is getting people to believe they are crazy or bad, allowing them to question their perception or judgment. Click To Tweet

It Didn’t Start with Youis that the book you’re thinking of? 

Yes. What is it called again? I get insecure about saying it. Epigenetics. 

This book was around how our lineage and our family, through not only their experience but their stored trauma and their unexamined pain, can pass that genetically or energetically, both through family lines, through generations.

I’ve seen something a topic like that come through in the media in this particular format of like, if you are the descendants of Holocaust survivors, that is probably written in your DNA and you don’t even know.

It’s the type of content that brings into my consciousness. That Holocaust reference does come up in a lot of the books that I’m reading. I started to believe that it’s true. It’s interesting because reading that gave me more compassion for my parents. Sometimes when we’re in pain, our knee jerk reaction is to blame. I’ve certainly gone through it. When I felt pain based on my parents’ parenting, I want to blame them. It’s like, “Maybe that was the result of their parents.” Not only is it passed down through actual behavior and experiences, but who knows how much of it is passed down through DNA? It’s the nature versus nurture question. My question for you, Adam, being the only parent on this podcast. Who else was a parent on?

We have on James, Letha has been on, Justin. There are many wonderful parents. 

It comes up in any conversation with the parent. It’s a big part of their life. My question based on this is, now that you’re a parent, does that give you more compassion and understanding? Are there moments where you feel it coming up? For me, the only experience that I’ve had thus far is my parenting with my dog. Those moments of rage that I felt when she doesn’t do the things that I wanted her to do or she’s done something that goes against me. The way that I react to her, sometimes I’ll have this conscious awareness of going, “Those are the things that I didn’t like my parents did that to me and here I am doing it.” Part of it is we’re being trained by our parents. That’s a natural thing. The way that people treat us, if we’re around it long enough, we may start to think that’s acceptable or they are role models. We think that’s the way that you handle these situations when you’re the parental figure or whatever, as sometimes we feel like when we’re with our animals. I often wonder if I do become a parent, how will I show up and what patterns will I be? 

You have no idea how it’s going to manifest. That’s the craziest part about it. Like yourself, you could be as self-aware as you can be. You can know yourself as well as you think you know yourself and yet, something will come up and you will be floored and you will be faced with like, “Here’s another Mount Everest to take on.”

Which makes it a gift. Me from a selfish ego-based reasoning, it’s exciting to be a parent because I’m like, “What else about me can I unlock?” I have to step back and go, “Parenting is not about me getting my needs met.” That’s an important awareness too. I feel like it’s interesting. Parenting to me is fascinating, especially the older I get and it becomes more pressing as a woman to make that decision.

Which is unfair. We do that as a culture. Where is that for guys?

We’re unlocking something.

As Jason’s friend, I also see it’s coming up a lot too because Jason’s dating women who feel like the clock is ticking. I feel like it does come up for guys in some way especially in men that I’ve dated as I’ve gotten older, I feel like the pressure is on them as well. It’s like, “Is this woman going to encourage me to have children with her?” There’s that fear that a lot of men have is, “I’d better be clear that I don’t want kids or I’m not ready for it.” Dating is also interesting. I’m fascinated by all elements of parenting from the outside because you see people that want to have kids and you’re like, “Why do you want to have children?” Sometimes they don’t even know why. Most people don’t even have the tools to practically sit down and think about why they want to have kids, beyond biology or the cultural conditioning and family. My mom puts a lot of pressure on me to have children because she wants them for her own reasons. 

I got that script as well. That was something I was dealing with as well personally.

It’s fascinating. I feel like a lot of people grow up thinking that they’re going to have kids. That’s how it goes.

Many people do and some people don’t. As a parent, it’s important to accept it, not like they have to defend the reason. Some people are like, “It’s a cost issue. There’s an environmental issue. Why birth a child when there are children in need who need parents?” That was real.

Jason, I feel like with you, it wasn’t a given. Jason was one of the few men that I dated who had a conscious awareness of it. He was like, “I don’t know if I want to have kids.” When we are dating, that came up early on in our relationship and I was like, “What do you mean?” It was a time for me to step back and think. I felt like a lot of my life experience personally and in relationships was much like it was a given or likely. He still thinks about it. Jason, what has happened in your life that made you lean more towards not having children than to have them?

There are a lot of factors to this. If we go back to me exhuming the trauma of my childhood and also healing a lot of it. God knows how many layers to it, but in the things that I’ve been able to consciously look at and belief systems that as a young child I created to institute my meaning around traumatic events. It was this idea that my mom and dad were happy and balanced and have a great life. I came around and that’s when the problem started. I made a young association that they were doing great.

How young was that association?

I’d have to say three years old, young. This idea of seeing pictures of them taking trips around the world and doing all these fun things. I’m here and they’re fighting. I’m here and there’s physical violence. As I exhume these through therapy, realizing that I had created meaning around these events because I needed to contextualize it in my young brain. The meaning I created was, “This is happening because of me. They were great before.” Of course, through therapy, talking to my mom and understanding what was happening, I’ve been able to unravel that deep, tight knot and understand that wasn’t the case. As a kid, it was like, “What’s the variable here? They were happy and fun and traveling the world, doing all these great things. I come around and everything goes to crap.” It’s been this deep unraveling of a neural network that my child brain created of, “I’m the variable here. I’m the one who messed it up.”

The association was you have kids and romantic relationships go to crap. That’s been a deep-set belief that I’ve had to unravel and look at. Beyond the healing with that and looking at that, it’s been a much more practical thing in the sense of looking at say the cost of raising a child over 18, 20, 25 years, the lifespan of a child going like, “How do I even handle that?” Especially living in a place like Los Angeles with the cost of living being what it is. It’s like, “How is that even going to happen?” That’s from a more practical standpoint.

You touched it on a too, Adam, is thinking about resources and thinking about the sometimes ethical dubiousness of pondering resource allocation by bringing another person in the world. There’s the higher spiritual thing of whether you’re planning it or not, sometimes it’s like, “This being wants to come through you.” Taking it away from the cerebral traumatic brain processing of all this and the neural networks of talking about God, universe, spirit. Perhaps there is this non-physical being that wants to be in this reality that’s like, “I’m coming through you guys, whether you like it or not.” That goes into a whole other thing about soul contracts. I don’t know that we want to go down that road, but you asked me, Whitney. There’s a mystical, magical aspect of the sense that we don’t know what we are, where we came from. We’re human beings. We’re Homo Sapiens. We don’t know. There’s a zygote, there’s a sperm. Our understanding of what we are and where we come from is limited. There’s a mystical aspect to all of this that I also am aware of like, “What is creation? Where do we even come from? What created this? What is the consciousness that makes all of this happen?” I go into that realm. This is a deep rabbit hole that I ponder a lot.

I feel like I’ve talked to you about it, not excessively, but a lot in the 12,000 years we’ve known each other. I’m going to say something though in an initial response to what you’re saying, which is everything that you’ve said is important given the context of your life and who you are. One of my favorite things about parenthood, to be able to talk about it in a reflection in this context, is you don’t matter that much. This story doesn’t matter that much. That’s because there’s someone else who came through and you get to care for someone else. I don’t have your life, so I don’t have the same exact association.

My parents were divorcing, I was twelve when it finally happened, after years of contentious, brutal behavior and they’re both Capricorns. They’re both whatever the hell this is. They’re the same alpha personality who’s trying to butt heads. There was an aspect of it going into the adolescence of like, “Is it my fault? Is it our fault?” He disappeared and then my dad left her. He was out of the picture for ten years. Were we ghosted for ten years? What exactly was going on there? There’s a lot more to say about that in terms of the story. The thing about becoming a dad that has continually blown my mind. My story doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things. It’s important to work through. It’s important to be aware of, but to be able to deal with the story through caring for someone else, that’s been the most amazing and challenging part of this whole experience.

MGU 45 | Tea Ceremony Magic

 

The pin that I want to get back to is this idea for all of us of predetermined roles. Whitney and I talked about this previously talking about identity, titles and roles, but it’s relevant to bring up in the sense that whether it’s identifying them as a man or a woman in a partnership with a child. That’s what we’re riffing on. Getting into this concept of purpose, career, money, support and the paradigm that I grew up being raised by a single mom working 3 or 4 jobs at a time. To me, it almost imprinted this extra pressure or idea that if I ever were to become a parent with my partner, that I need to step up because my dad didn’t. There’s this extra pressure not only based on what I observed in growing up with a single mother working 3 and 4 jobs at a time to make ends meet. She was the only source of income. The stereotypical, old school Western imprinting of the man goes out, grinds himself into the ground to make ends meet so that the wife can stay home, raising the kids. That old patriarchal paradigm of man goes out, works his ass off. You never see your dad because he’s always out working to make money, and that aspect of it too. I bring this up for all of us because of this idea of ought to, should.

The man does this as a father, the woman does this as a mother and those deep-seated imprints from not only what we’ve observed through the media, but also perhaps the roles our parents played or didn’t play. I bring that up, Adam, because you touched on your intentional choice to take freelance work as an artist. Being someone who facilitates Gongfu, being a musician, being a UX designer, all of these multifaceted hydronic things you’ve done in freelancing. You made that choice, whatever role you think you’re supposed to play, we can touch on that perhaps. You’re like, “I’m going to stay home and parent and be physically present with my daughter as much as possible.” In a way, you subverted the Western cultural imprint of, “Go out, get a 9:00 to 5:00 and make as much money as possible to support this family. Go do that.” You chose not to do that. I want to dig into that a little bit more because that’s interesting.

It feels like a selfish thing to do.

What do you mean?

My choices to not work hard, to not play it safe, to not have a good savings, going to accrue a lot of debt. I’m facing my only way to balance a lot of the chaos that I’ve created for myself of filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to alleviate the debt and to allow myself and my family to continue to build on whatever it is that I’m building or rebuilding. I’m smarter, obviously not leaning on credit and those things. Choosing freelancing feels like a one-part reckless and one-part selfish thing because I have no safety net. I have my resources, my connections, my chosen family, my family as well, even though I’m fully estranged from my mom and her husband. There’s something beautiful and like, “I’ve made these choices and it feels great.” Emotionally speaking, it’s healing my childhood. It’s healing aspects of trauma that I’ve been dealing with my whole life. Yet, from a different angle, from a financial perspective, I feel like I’m Mario in Bowser Castle. There’s lava everywhere. I’m not making a joke out of this. The point I’m making is I am taking ownership of that. I’m not living in denial of like, “Everything is fine.”

The flip side of that would be that you are teaching your daughter a lot through that process. As you were talking, I was thinking about my parents and how I remember distinctly when they both quit their full-time jobs to work for themselves. It was a big turning point for me. I associated with being around twelve years old, my parents up until then approximately had been working in Boston at “regular jobs,” 9:00 to 5:00 jobs. I remember distinctly growing up when they would drop me off at daycare and how I felt. I feel like there had to be emotional trauma, maybe even physical trauma. Who knows what happened? I was going to daycare until I was about six years old. There’s so much that probably happened up until I was six years old. I may never know unless somebody told me or somehow I was able to remember it, which is frustrating for me.

I remember some vivid moments of being in daycare and not enjoying it as a kid. When my sister was born, my parents gave us the gift of having nannies. I didn’t have to go to daycare anymore. I got to stay home but I still had a nanny. My parents both quit their jobs. It was around the same time. They both started working from home and running their businesses. That impacted me in many ways, which they showed me that you didn’t have to work for somebody else. You could start your own business, which was incredibly helpful for me.

They gave me that gift of being around. What would my life have been had I had that when I was a little kid as opposed to going to daycare, being cared for by somebody else? A lot of my memories were that I didn’t matter. I feel like you are both having your emotional experiences as I’m sharing this, which is so interesting because it seems like it’s triggering stuff within both of you. I’d love you to share. I haven’t even talked about this that much, but I do think about it. I have heard it from my parents a few times in my life the pain that they felt dropping me off at daycare. They felt guilt for that, waking me up early in the morning. I remember those early mornings before the sun would come out, they’d have to drop me off at daycare so they could get to work in time. I remember listening to NPR. I didn’t like NPR because as a little kid, it was the signal that I would have to go to daycare. I’m sure daycare was fine. I don’t have any memory of actual trauma. Maybe there was some, I don’t know. I don’t recall any trauma. Being woken up at 5:00 or 6:00 AM to be put in a car and taken to somebody else’s home and all I wanted to do is go back to sleep.

There’s a clear memory that both me and my parents remember of me curling up in a ball in a plastic playhouse that was at the daycare. I was self-soothing by curling up on my own in this safe little shelter in the mornings before school. My parents describing that to me too at my adult age, that pained them to see how I was reacting to that experience. The point is that you seem pained for these choices. I imagine most kids would feel grateful to have at least one of their parents to be home with them. To me, that’s such a gift. I see what you mean by feeling selfish about it. I also feel like as a child, they’re simple. Your daughter probably doesn’t know what’s going on financially. In her formative years, she gets to do with her dad.

To them, I won’t to destroy it. I’m like, “I can’t do that. We could make something else.” That’s as far as I go with describing it.

I remember not being able to get toys that I wanted, but I don’t think that scarred my life. If I was conscious enough to be able to have a choice, like, “You could have any toy you wanted, but dad’s not going to be home.” As a kid, you’re like, “I would much rather be with dad than have the toy that I want.” I want to reflect that back to you and anybody else reading who might be able to relate to your pain is that it’s a beautiful thing. Financially, we never know what’s coming down the pipeline and things are always shifting for us. I don’t know if I would describe it as selfish, maybe a sacrifice. You’re choosing one thing for something else, as we are with every aspect of our lives. I also want to say from my personal experiences, it was a gift when my parents chose to work for themselves despite any sacrifice that went on financially that I might not have been aware of.

I love what you’re sharing about those memories because you can look at it objectively. You’re looking back at these memories of yourself with your family. There was something that needed to be iterated on. There was a system in place that needed to be updated or upgraded. Maybe in a way, everybody realized this, your parents, your sister and yourself. At some point, your parents made this conscious choice together. Having a buddy to do it and instead of maybe one parent choosing to stay or something may have been harder. Having that model that you were able to observe in real-time so close to home is amazing. If I’m calling myself or labeling myself as selfish and reckless financially with what I’m dealing with, I don’t want to necessarily sit here and blame like, “I had no good modeling of how to be financially astute.” My dad disappeared for his reasons. I had my mom, to her credit, be like a superwoman and raise us through adolescence, paying for everything, no child support. As a skilled artist, pearl weaver, necklace creator, that was her handcrafted stuff. That was in itself a modeling for there is a way that you can be in the world that people can celebrate your craft or your service. I’m going to go through this bankruptcy soon and I’m still going to figure it out.

More people are going through that than we even realize. I know Jason and I are in different generations, maybe to the younger generations, a lot of us are experiencing that. A lot of us have this cultural yearning to work for ourselves, to break out of that mold of the 9:00 to 5:00 of the slaving away for somebody else and being unhappy. A lot of people are on a quest to live a happy life with meaning. For a lot of people as well, there’s the trade-off. Financially, it’s not as stable and it’s becoming more common of like, “How do we figure this out?” That’s why there’s a growth of things. Minimalism is appealing to our generation. How can we strip things down to have what we need versus all this fluff? It’s an interesting thing. Maybe we need to take away that shame of like, “I’m doing something wrong,” versus, “I’m doing many great things.”

Part of my feeling is as long as you and your loved ones can survive and thrive in most parts of your life, where is the shame of being in debt or bankruptcy or whatever? I’m curious for you. Is it old, mental self-worth things? To me, it doesn’t change my perception of you. I don’t know if it’s going to change your daughter’s perception of you. Does it change your partner’s perception of you? Who cares at the end of the day? Does it matter that you’re going through bankruptcy or is it hard on the ego?

I’m still having initiated the process, it’s not so much. The focus is like, “You’re going to go through that.” It’s not so much that. It’s more like looking at all the choices I’ve made to get to this point. That’s what’s under observation for posterity. I can upgrade the system so that I don’t create those variables again. I had a unique moment that I shared with Jason where I had this crazy Matrix-level awareness coming face-to-face with like, “I need to consider bankruptcy as an option because I am in deep crap financially.” I suddenly saw the intense parallel for myself. On one hand, I have strained relationships with both my parents, one of which I’m in contact with, one of which I’m not. That’s like, “I want parents in my life. I want love, admiration, validation, celebration. I want those things like anybody else would. I’m not going to get those things as I want them. I’m not going to get them on my terms. I may receive them on conditions.”

There’s that awareness of, “I’m not getting the validation I want from my family, my parents.” I suddenly mirrored that with, “I’m not getting the validation I want from the world and how I’m in service or what I do in the world.” I was a musician and a visual artist and this autodidact, anti-academic, pioneering, trailblazing my own path. Into UX and then watching UX crumble in real-time or watching industries like tech, trip on itself in real-time because of the shifting nature of the marketplace. The gig economy is not in one place. It’s taken over every industry, everywhere.

Companies are like, “We don’t need to bring on people full-time and pay benefits. We could hire independent contractors.” The value of the role goes down and there are fewer roles and everybody’s eating each other like sharks. That’s another tangent. Recognizing everything I had chosen to some degree is a failure or some misadventure. That mirror of, “I don’t get the validation and love I want from my parents. I’m not interacting with the world as a service provider, as someone who does what I do. Nobody wants to hire me or give me money.” It became real, like the mirror, seeing those parallels. That’s what I’m actively crazy not of, “I’m going to delicately find the ways to do that with whatever resources I have.” When I can afford therapy, I’m going to pay therapy. That’s what I’m grappling with, the core of it. It’s that parallel.

The question that Whitney posited in what you answered, Adam, is a longer discussion, at least how I’m interpreting what you both examined of our opinion and our perspective of who we think we are. Can that be self-referential or is it always based on the comparison in the sense of, “I feel shameful, I feel guilty, I’m not making enough money I ought to because I’m a white male in the Western world?” All these reasons we can cock for making ourselves feel bad or all the reasons that we might not even be aware of why we beat ourselves up for not having enough, doing enough. What it evokes in me is the not enough conversation, and I don’t think that can exist in a vacuum. If I’m completely self-referential, which being in modern society, I don’t think that’s possible. There’s some element of “I ought to, should, have this because Jimmy, Jack, Joan and Jill have all this stuff and I don’t, or they’ve accomplished this.”

So much of our pain is based on comparison or what our parents or society or religion or media tells us we ought to have. My point is, it’s always this question of how can we be more autonomous and sovereign in trailblazing our path and saying, “I have this mission, this goal, this dream, this passion that is motivating me. I don’t give a good damn what anyone else thinks.” The literal interpretation of the loud Sioux quote, “Care what other people think and you’ll always be their slave.”

It seems that our media and our rampantly out-of-control, consumerist capitalist society is thriving on this. How are we going to sell people stuff? Constantly make them believe that they’re not enough. Constantly give them mirrors of comparison. It goes back to this minimalism comment, Whitney, you brought up of, can we shed these layers of thinking we need things outside of ourselves? We have to be something. We need a title, we need the perfect number of followers, we need this amount of money. To me, it’s feeding this hungry ghost constantly. As people who want to become more self-aware and conscious and awakened to our own BS that’s been inserted into us as programs to fight. I use the word, fight, because it feels constantly that I’m fighting against the programs, the conditioning, the comparison, the media, the out-of-control greedy capitalism. The point I’m trying to make is I honor all of us in our quest to find contentment and peace and be more self-referential, be more sovereign and be more self-motivated in a world that is encouraging us to be anything but ourselves.

I truly believe that and I say that in a world because for people to be sovereign and self-referential and free, you don’t sell people a lot like that. To be honest, people are like, “I’m good. I don’t need much. I don’t need what you’re telling me I need. I need to be the thing you’re telling me I need to be.” Sovereign-free people are dangerous people in the sense of you have a liberated being who’s like, “I don’t need any of this stuff.” You’re like, “Yeah, you do.” “No, I don’t. I’m good.” That’s part of my quest is to liberate myself mentally in that sense. It’s hard work. 

This is ironic too, what I’m focusing on as a service provider in the world because I’ve seen what’s happened in the tech and I’m like, “That is not going to work for me. What can I do?” I’ve made a 360. I’m not walking away from tech. I’m into that aspect living and figuring out how minimalism can work for me and my family as well. I’m pivoting in a weird way of making this 360 coming back to tech companies and talking about digital wellness and digital minimalism and saying, “We need to talk about the fact that we’re being driven crazy by the amount of information we’re inundating ourselves with workflows and productivity and deadlines and so forth.” Needing the validation that we need within certain age groups from social media. We need to talk about slowing down and I want to help you, tech companies, slow down. How are we going to do that? We can do it over this tea modality, this tea ceremony. Depending on who I’m speaking to, I’ll use tea ceremony or tea tasting or tea workshop. I don’t want to go too woo-woo on some people and I want to embrace woo-woo with other people. I’m offering you the service, the opportunity to take time away from it. Not that we need to go move to a farm on Montana, but we need to get a grip on it. That’s my passion. How do you quantify or value that?

That was my question is say Google, Snapchat, WhatsApp, whomever, you have these tech contacts from your UX experience in living in Los Angeles. Downtown in Venice, we have a bevy of high-powered, billion-dollar tech companies. For someone who’s sitting down at a meeting with you, Adam and like, “That’s cool, but that’s going to benefit my employees in my culture how?”

There is a way that you can be in the world that people can celebrate your craft or your service. Click To Tweet

We’re on the verge of more companies integrating wellness. It’s a demand, especially because their workforce in the tech world is mainly comprised of people between 20 to 40. A lot of employees are at that age. A lot of those employees are aware and more conscious and more tuned into wellbeing. They’re being exposed to all this. They’re going to start to demand more wellness resources for themselves within the company. They’re users as a result as well. I’ve been studying TikTok a lot. One of the main things on their website is about using TikTok for good. It’s doing campaigns around the environment and wellbeing and animals and all of these things. These companies are well-aware of it and they might not have enough people like yourself, Adam, that are specializing this. You are poised to offer that. If you don’t do it now, there’s going to be a wave of people doing it in the next few years. This is a perfect time.

It feels like a critical mass-type of moment, especially with the panel that we did and meeting Tommy, from Brick for the first time again in person. I only discovered him and his work through Instagram. I love what he’s doing, the message that he’s putting out there, the exercises, the interaction and the work that he’s doing in terms of setting up phone-free events. Sometimes there are weekends, he’s going to be doing his first small blogs to Brick. They’re doing their first international trip. They go to Costa Rica and help preserve the population of these amazing giant tortoises. It sounds phenomenal. To me, there’s a calling because I want to relate to people. I want to help people by making them feel comfortable to be themselves as they are. I do that through tea and doing it through tea over ten years. To do it in the name of digital wellness is a unique moment.

That’s another thing about our age range in being the predominant workforce population. The turnover rates are high. They may feel overworked or completely cuckoo in the startup. They’re like, “I’m going to leave and I’m going to cash out.” That turnover rate then is also what caused this predominance of independent contractors anyway, as opposed to full-time workers. There’s this strange, interconnected madness that’s going on because we’re letting this run rampant. I love technology. I’m not saying I’m anti-tech. I use it as anybody else does. I’m aware of my tech addiction as well.

That’s another big interesting thing is we’re using technology more than ever and especially the younger generations. There is a need for heightened awareness and tools within technology. On my iPhone, I can set it to alert me to minimize my usage of applications. Even though I’m aware of my tech usage as a huge part of my life is consciousness, wellbeing, personal development, psychology. I study these things every day and yet, I am tempted to sit down and be on TikTok for at least 30 minutes at a time. The only reason I know I’m spending that much time on TikTok is because I have those alerts set up. Every fifteen minutes my phone will say, “Your fifteen-minute time is up.” I can press the button that says, “No, I’d like more time, please.”

My new challenge is monitoring myself and being aware. How about somebody who’s not as aware? How about somebody who doesn’t study this as much as I do? It’s a pleasure trap because the reason that we’re using a lot of this technology is the amount of pleasure it gives us. TikTok is addictive and this is huge for the younger generation. TikTok could benefit from someone like you, Adam, to come in and help them build within the app more tools to keep people aware. To Jason’s point, they might not have that because part of their structure and Facebook and a lot of these platforms, they’re designed to keep you on the app for as long as possible.

That’s how they make money, but as the three of us are well aware, there is a way to make money in anything. Ultimately, it serves these apps, these tech companies to find a way to have a balance where they can make money but also help people’s wellbeing. In the long run, you could swing to the opposite end and be like Brick where people are like, “I don’t want to be on my phone at all or I want to take a 30-day digital detox,” or whatever. People are starting to go to extremes. If they can find balance and use technology in a way that doesn’t harm them but allows them to use it, that’s where someone like you could commend. 

Taking more quality unstructured time away from it. That’s what it is. We’re all too focused on structuring time.

What people need is not only the awareness but that structure and they would probably be more open to being using a platform like TikTok. If TikTok was like, “You’ve spent enough time on here. I’m going to shut it down. You’re not going to be able to use the app for a little bit. Go take some time away.” If they were forced out of it by TikTok as opposed to encouraging to spend hours, it’s an issue. People on TikTok are posting about how much they use it. They’re aware. Like me, a lot of people are aware that they’re overusing these apps, so they need the support. If they felt like the apps are on their side versus against them, it could be a game-changer.

I would love for anyone of these TikTok or Netflix to try out. Even in a specific market, let’s say a City of LA or SF or New York or something. Try out baking in one feature of like, “You’ve binge-watched six episodes of so-and-so. There’s this event happening close to you, a food fest or here’s smorgasbord or The Broad has this exhibit happening. Go check that out and then we’ll be here when you come back.” What if it was a concierge experience?

Maybe this is your calling, Adam. I want to encourage you to do something like this because there is a big need. It’s a growing need. If you don’t do it, somebody else reading might be like, “That’s a great idea. Adam, I’m giving you a few months. If you don’t do the job, I’m going to do it.” 

The overall thing that I’m excited about as we wrap up this idea that tech technology is not this evil bad thing much like anything else. Whitney brought up The Pleasure Trap, which is an amazing book by Alan Goldhamer and Dr. Doug Lisle. This underscores that we are looking for the highest reward possible with the least amount of effort. Of course, they focus on caloric units of energy. If we’re talking about dopamine, if we’re talking about cortisol, if we’re talking about adrenaline, we can also become addicted to stress. We can be addicted to outrage on the internet. We can become addicted to feeling bad. We can become addicted to many things that awareness is one part of it. Action and contouring behavior and restructuring our neural brain chemistry, that takes effort. The part that I’m excited about in this conversation is we’re discussing the awareness of it. As we go through this and use technology, how can we do it in a much more responsible, conscious way and contour our behavioral patterns so that we spend more time with humans talking about this stuff in person?

That’s one lovely thing that I’ve loved about your tea ceremonies that I’ve been indulging in them is it’s time to be with yourself, be with other people and have a genuine connected human experience where we’re touching, we’re connecting, we’re looking each other in the eye. There’s a call on our society for more of that for a litany of reasons culturally. People of different backgrounds, cultures, races, religions, regardless of their differences, should sit down at a tea table or a meal together and just be. It’s simple but it’s profound because of all those factors in our society.

That’s the magic about tea in general. I feel like we’re at a coda moment. I don’t want to say tea versus food because food is essential and lovely, yet it’s easy to do this and then you start to get distracted. That’s why I love tea ceremony. It’s the nuance that I have no impetus to reach for it. That’s almost a weird built-in fail-safe about tea ceremony. It is a meditative experience and moving meditation, but it’s also essential in the fact that it’s you feeling your body, you’re sitting your feet, you’re experiencing aromas. You’re experiencing flavors and you’re experiencing your pallet changing from steeping because it’s a re-steeping, multiple steep types of experience. The fact that not that it prohibits you reaching for your phone, but you don’t feel like you’re going for that, even though in full transparency, tea is a visually appealing thing. I can answer you out of my tea experience as well for a marketing and promotional purpose. The nature of it is that it is highly reverential, like zoom in suddenly there’s here and then there’s everything else. That’s what I’m constantly fascinated by in terms of sharing it with people.

It also made me think about how at one of the Google headquarters in LA, they have a tea cafe. You walk in and you feel like you’re transported. They have loose leaf teas and you can get lattes and they have little rooms and lighting’s dim and cushions and all these. Maybe, Adam, this is an opportunity for you to fuse the two together, tech and tea. Whether you’re going in and physically doing tea ceremonies at tech companies or finding ways to encourage more people to learn about tea and experience tea and the mindfulness that comes along with it. That’s a beautiful gift because your knowledge about tea is fascinating to me. We didn’t even talk about that. You started off behind the scenes with a cup of tea that you brought and it transformed me. Coffee is so big, but tea is not nearly as recognized unless you’re somebody who’s into tea. I don’t meet a lot of tea lovers personally. A knowledgeable friend of mine didn’t even know what Jasmine tea tasted like. I thought, “What do you mean you don’t know what Jasmine tea taste? 

You smell Jasmine tea. That’s what’s lovely about coffee. Next to tea, coffee is analytical but front-facing. Tea is always on the down low and it’s been on and will continue to be on the down-low but they’re blended. Coffee is a great example because coffee is experienced in this craft coffee, analog, lovely awareness from people and tea has always been that way too. I’ll leave it at that.

MGU 45 | Tea Ceremony MagicThat’s a good note to end well. Anybody who would like to learn more about you and your work on Instagram, on the internet, maybe somebody reading wants to hire you to develop some amazing wellness tech fusion?

Go to my site, EnjoySlowTea.xyz

That’s your site? 

That’s my site.

I didn’t know that. Did you know that, Jason?

Yeah, I did, but him saying it. You said that was such a lilt that was almost musical. 

I saw the XYZ domain. I was like, “Why not? That sounds nice.”

On Instagram, it’s @AdamYasmin_?

Yes.

You can find his incredible imagery and philosophy regarding tea and mindfulness.

If you’d like to see the video of this, you can go to Patreon, which is where we post all of the videos, behind the scenes where you can get a visual experience. Thank you so much for reading or for watching if you are on Patreon. Thank you so much, Adam, for being here. 

Thank you for having me.

We appreciate you. I feel calm and yet mentally stimulated from this conversation. I hope the audience does as well. 

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About Adam Yasmin

MGU 45 | Tea Ceremony MagicAdam Yasmin is a father, creative, podcast host, tea expert, and digital wellness consultant bringing immersive sensory-rich tea experiences to corporate partners, events, and retreats — inspiring participants to cultivate mindful tech usage, explore minimalism, and embrace more unstructured time offline.

 

 

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