MGU 51 | Cultivating Mindfulness

 

There are moments in our lives where we find ourselves in pivotal moments, happening not only to us but also along with the rest of the world. In this nostalgic episode, we follow stage, screen, and voice actor, Trevor Algatt, through the moments in history that he found himself in. Together with Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen, Trevor takes us to that time he experienced the launch of the iPhone, started podcasting way back in 2009, and realized the massive changes brought on by today’s technology. Reflecting on the effects of these technological advancements, he then sheds on the importance of keeping our well-being in check, putting forward mindfulness as a healthy practice in these crazy times. They also talk about some conspiracy theories about using technology as human control and dealing with that. As the world continues to change and technologies keep on evolving, may we hark back to the moments where times are simpler and remind ourselves to cultivate mindfulness and awareness in the way we respond in our daily lives.

Listen to the podcast here:

Cultivating Mindfulness Amidst Technological Changes With Trevor Algatt

You’re setting a new standard. You can start. Can you start telling us about this AlienCon that you went to? 

That is rolling. I’m almost self-conscious about it. One of my guilty pleasures is Ancient Aliens. You guys have seen that TV show?

I’ve seen a few episodes. I can’t claim to be an expert. Being in whatever community we’re in, things get recycled often. I’m like, “Did you see this thing about the levitation technology that the Egyptians used to build the pyramids?” I’m like, “Levitation technology. Let’s dig into this.” I dabbled. 

It’s a fun show. A lot of it is stupid, swamp things, hollow earth theory, and things where I’m like, “That’s a hard sell.”

You still watch even if it’s a hard sell.

Most of the time, its legit stuff that you’re like, “How is that possible? How can you explain that?” I’m into this stuff. It’s a guilty pleasure and I like to read books about all the different government officials who have “come forward” and they talk about all the different alien races that are here on the planet, working with our governments, sharing the technologies, and all this stuff. My brother got me a day pass to AlienCon which is downtown which is Ancient Aliens. They have a convention that they put on in different parts of the country once or twice a year.

It’s a legit event. 

When I went, it was not well attended but apparently it was the first day. It was a Thursday and it goes Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The weekends are prototypical as conferences go more well-attended. 

I imagine that’s when everybody in the costume showed up.

That was the best part. 

We watched this documentary called Bob Lazar, one of the panels. One of the things you could go to was a documentary called Bob Lazar and Flying Saucers or something. It’s on Netflix. You can watch it.

Was David Wilcock there? Do you know who he is? 

No.

You’ll love to dig into him too. That’s another conversation. That sounds something he would have gone to.

Our actions, thoughts, deeds, and energies are feeding things outside of ourselves. Click To Tweet

100%. That’s right up his alley. He’s much into conspiracy theory stuff and alien races and clandestine technologies. He’s a well-paid, well-known “expert” on the subject. We know him personally. He’s fascinating. 

He’s tied into the whole wellness community. We met him through our friend Jeff and also David Wolfe. 

David Wolfe’s got a couple of cookbooks or something, doesn’t he?

He’s one of the world’s foremost experts on superfoods, longevity, super herbs.

He had a big longevity conference. That was not his event, but he was much involved.

Bob Lazar was this guy who worked at Area 51. It’s way too much story to go into, but it’s a fascinating story. They’ve made this documentary about him when he started to come forward with some of these things that he had experienced at Area 51.

Such as?

There were little things like in the Joe Rogan interview which is what started this whole conversation. He was interviewed by Joe Rogan. Bob was a reclusive guy. He doesn’t have books. He doesn’t do the speaking circuit. He’s not trying to sell anything. He wants to be off the radar, but he thinks people should know about this stuff. In that interview, Joe asked him, “Have you ever seen one of these flying saucers in person?” He was like, “Yes, I have. They would bring us out occasionally to do these little test flights with these things. They may be 24 feet in diameter at the largest. They’re clearly built for smaller physical creatures.” He said he looked inside one and saw what they looked like and everything.

After all of the things that you watched and listened to, do you feel this is legit?

I want to believe it.

That’s the thing that’s interesting. Are we conditioned to think it’s nuts and a made-up story? Is it the opposite where everybody’s talking about it and so that it’s easy to make up? That’s what I wonder. It’s interesting when things are discussed much in our culture. We don’t know what’s true or not. 

My take has always been like if you are a rational person and you steep yourself in this world enough, you’ll be able to separate the crap from the stuff that is a bit more legit. You’ll see certain things come up over and over again and you’ll be able to identify who they’re coming from or whether that person is crap. There’s a lot of stuff that I’m genuinely compelled to believe in and there’s a lot of stupid crap as well.

On a macro level, the thing that I trip out on is aside from extraterrestrials or aliens or anything like that, I think about technological advances in general. How much of the technology are we enjoying at this moment with you on planet Earth in 2020 during the time of this recording? How much of that technology was not only available but developed decades ago that the government had and was like, “We’re going to hang onto this for ourselves for a while and the public will get it eventually.” Which makes me think what are they experimenting with and perfecting now that it’s 30, 40, 50 years then we’ll have access to? I do believe that’s part of the life cycle of the development of technologies and stuff behind closed doors which fascinates me. What must they have? 

I’ve heard it said that whatever we have now, there are about three generations ahead of it in the military.

Three generations. Like teleportation?

MGU 51 | Cultivating Mindfulness

Look at The Jetsons. Everybody brings it up but the three of us grew up with The Jetsons on television and you look at these things that we used to watch as kids and be like, “That’s amazing.” We have a lot of that same technology that was on this made-up cartoon show.

We don’t even think about it. We’re like, “Let me check my super smart internet-connected watch.”

I was at my friend’s house and they have that new Facebook portal. It’s a Jetsons device because it’s a huge iPad screen with a camera built-in and it follows you around the room. 

You mean spies on you? 

I love all my Apple products and yet I wonder. Trevor and I were both wearing our Apple watches. We have iPhones and Apple computers. I have a home pod with Siri on it which is convenient. You can ask for something. I’ve started using voice technology and all sorts of ways. I didn’t think that I would be into voice technology but it is convenient once you train yourself to use it and ask questions. The big question that we’re all wondering is, is it listening to us all the time and collecting data about it? This leads me to how I want it to start officially. In my head, I was like, “What am I going to start with Trevor?” You and I met through the Apple store. Some people forget that I used to work for Apple. You were there for how long, Trevor, in total? 

Almost five years.

Didn’t you get the plaque?

No, they kicked me out three months.

I remember when they kicked you out. That was rough. 

Why did you get kicked out of Apple? 

Apple went through an interesting period when we were both there. How long were you there before I got there? I was there around Christmas 2005 when I first started working at Apple. 

I had been there for about a year and a half. 

You experienced the hay day that we see it which is Apple used to give us all these free products like free iPods. They had all these perks and everyone was laid back. We could make Apple whatever we wanted. Around that time, if I remember it correctly, it was 2010, right?

2008, it was right before Obama got elected.

That was around the recession or right after the recession? I feel like Apple changed a lot during the recession because everybody was scared in the country. Apple reacted with a lot of fear. There were these massive changes at the store that affected people like you who were in this old regime.

That’s what it was. It was a change in management and a change in policy. They got a little bit stricter about things and tried to corporatize things, not in a bad way necessarily. It was that the old guard, so to speak, had these understandings about how things worked. The general take was, “If the work gets done, we have the bodies, and the customers are happy, then we’re good.” It became a little bit stiffer after some management changes. I was big into acting at that time. I went on an audition and they were like, “You can’t do that.” I was like, “I’m going to go because this is the arrangement we’ve had for years.” They use that as ammo to be like, “You’ve been late a bunch of times, so we’re going to fire you now.” Apparently, they fired a bunch of other people after me.

They did. It was interesting because Trevor was there from the beginning. Were you my mentor or something at that when I came in? There were three guys I remember that were there as mentors to me when I started working at Apple. That’s how Trevor and I got to know each other so well. The thing that I wanted to bring up is that Trevor and I were there for the launch of the iPhone.

It was ’06.

That was something that I’m grateful for because that was a huge turning point in technology when Apple released the iPhone.

We all got a free one. We all got eight gigabyte iPhone.

It is critically important to be aware and responsible with our energy, thoughts, words, and deeds. Click To Tweet

I have my first-generation iPhone box. 

Do you have the phone in there?

It might be in there. Trevor, you were the one sitting next to me during the meeting and you casually said, “We’re getting the iPhone.” I was like, “We’re getting a free iPhone?” I remember that meeting. That’s when we got to hear about the iPhone. Nobody knew what it was. It was such a big secret. We heard about it in this meeting and the next day we launched it. We were there at the store experiencing how everybody else experienced the iPhone for the first time which was a cool thing. I remember these massive lines and people waiting and everyone was excited. There are even pictures with me and you at the Apple store on the day the iPhone launched. When you look back at that time, did that feel a pivotal time for you to witness technology in that way? 

It was cool. I don’t think about how pivotal that shift was. We went from analog click button stuff to everything touchscreen. It was a pretty cool experience to be there at the launch of that thing.

I remember at the beginning there wasn’t even an App Store. You got the apps that were on your phone.

People were hacking their phones to change the wallpaper and some couldn’t do any of that.

It was basic and then the App Store came out. I’ll never forget hearing about Shazam for the first time. I was like, “How does this work. What do you mean? You can press a button and find out what song is playing?”

You sound old.

I don’t mean to sound dated but it’s such a gift. My grandfather would tell me stories of when televisions first became available, what it was like to sit around and listen to the radio and I’m like, “What do you mean that you didn’t have TV?” I was on the phone with my dad and we were talking about the movie 1917 and he’s like, “I have some old letters or a journal entry from your great grandfather about his time in the war.” I’m like, “That is cool.” We’re still connected to these times that weren’t that long ago but feel like an eternity ago. We get to witness all these changes.

Part of the reason I wanted to bring up the iPhone launch is that since that time, much has changed. Technology has changed rapidly. My grandfather and other people in my life have witnessed the development of cars and television and a few things. The three of us and most people reading this blog have witnessed massive changes in such a short amount of time. We still have much more time left, hopefully, to witness even more. It blows my mind sometimes when I think about it. The one more thing I want to bring up is podcasting, Trevor. I remember you talking about podcasting back in the day when you were teaching iTunes.

Yes, and the podcast workshop.

You and I both taught classes at Apple up on the stage and the theater. I remember teaching iTunes at one point and being like, “There’s this thing called podcast and you can learn for free.” That was what a podcast was back then. You could learn French for free. There were free French lessons. People were teaching more on podcasts. I don’t know if interviews were as big back then.

There was more informational and less brand-focused or promotional focus.

The colleges had. The universities could go on there and take free courses through podcasting. You started your podcast or career early on.

In 2009 is when we started Inside Acting which is a podcast that ran for years.

MGU 51 | Cultivating Mindfulness

 

That’s OG.

When I think of OG, I think of someone like Pat Flynn who started Smart Passive Income. It was around 2009 or 2010 for him as well. He’s a leader in the educational podcast, business world. For you, starting that way back then, was it because of your experience at Apple? I feel like a lot of people didn’t even know what podcasts were back in 2009.

A lot of people didn’t. I remember a friend telling me about podcasts even before then. It was 2004 or 2005. The iPad had come out so it was way back. He was trying to explain it to me and I couldn’t ram my head around it.

We used to describe them as free audiobooks. That’s how I used to phrase that.

I used to say it’s like a homemade radio show on demand, but you subscribed to it like you would in a magazine. You would come to see your digital doorstep when there’s a new issue of it. I was trying hard to explain to people, but it was cool. That was inspired by another podcast that had already existed that was in New York called Everything Acting. It was two women that were middle-aged and it was a wonderful podcast. I love listening to it, but I couldn’t relate to what they were sharing too much because I was on a different coast. I was a totally different gender and demographic and all this stuff. I hijacked their idea and then made Inside Acting which is a blatant imitation.

This reminds me of an amazing book called Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s this idea of, can we ever be fully separated from the amalgam of influences that have touched our lives? I don’t think it’s possible because if you talk to any of the greats, there’s somebody that at some point an avatar, a hero, a mentor or a collection of all of them, touched them or influenced them in some way. I think about all of the artists that have affected my life. I’m psychotic when I find an author, a musician, a chef, someone that really touches me with their art. I’ll go into their history, their formative years and find out what influenced them. You can see that it’s been this pastiche, this collage of all their influences but then they put their flavor, their thumb or their print on it.

When you say that, it reminded me of that book. I sometimes struggle with that. I don’t know if either of you feel this way, but it’s often this thing of the line between imitation and carving your own identity. For me, as a musician and a singer, one of my big challenges still are I don’t know that I’ve found my true voice yet. I still feel sometimes when I’m performing, I’m still bringing in too many of the influences, the mannerisms, the body movements, the timbre of my voice where I’m touching maybe too much sometimes on the people that have touched me. As artists, how do you feel about that in terms of bringing something fresh and unique versus being too influenced by the people that have moved us? Where’s that line?

Number one, did you even have an awareness of like, “I’m too far. I’m imitating them too much?” Many people don’t have that awareness. That’s why their careers don’t last because they don’t realize they’re another Pearl Jam on call. They didn’t last. None of them are around anymore but Pearl Jam is there. If you have that awareness and you keep working at it, it’s impossible to be too much of a copy because you can’t help but put your own thing on it. It’s not like, “Eddie Vedder is my guy and I want to be like Eddie Vedder but my own version of him.” You’ve got several different influences. You even said cooking and music. It feels you’re pulling from all those things. It’s impossible to be too severe of an imitation. I could be wrong but that’s how I talk to myself when I have that same conversation. I’m like, “Trevor, you are aware this is a good thing.” Number two, it’s not that you’re trying to be one person. You’re combining a lot of things into one voice that people sometimes may say, “I hear a little bit of Nine Inch Nails in there.” It’s like, “That’s awesome. Thank you for the thing. It’s not that you sound like Nine Inch Nails or Alison Janney. I hear it in there, but it’s also you.”

I love that all of the musical references you made were all ‘90s rock bands. I want to give you an open eye. I want to give props to that, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, this is the excellent shout-out to Creed. That’s when the podcast went south. Shout it out.

It’s interesting that we even have that mentality. I wonder if it’s going to shift a lot because we have access to more information and we have insight into what people are doing more than we ever have before. It’s much easier to find comparisons. It’s much easier to feel like you might be copying somebody or something because you’re exposed to many different ideas and people all the time through platforms like social media, podcasts, websites and all these other platforms. It’s going to get to a point where people will be less sensitive to that, I suppose. For a while, over the past 5 or 10 years, there’s a lot of fear that people are copying and then there are a lot of shortcuts. It’s extremely commonplace for people to copy one another, especially on social media. It’s like, “What’s working? That’s working for that person so I’m going to try that out too.” You can’t help but copy somebody if you’re trying to replicate their success. Social media seems to thrive on copying.

That’s the whole influencer world is based on copying. It’s like, “Check out the outfit I’m wearing. You should wear this too.” Those people buy the same clothes and so they can look at their favorite influencer. “Check out what I’m doing, what I’m eating, what I’m making, or the food that I’m making.” People are trying to do what everyone else is doing because somebody else did it well. There’s the opposite and perhaps what Jason is saying is that he’s trying not to do it. It’s being in resistance to it as if it’s not acceptable. It’s a lot more acceptable as part of my point. There’s much information sometimes as you were also saying, Jason, that you can’t help but imitate somebody because you don’t know where your ideas are from, your influences sometimes. They’re in the background. 

One of the best things that I have found, and I’ve done versions of this, the first time I remember doing it was when I did The Artist’s Way course, the Julia Cameron book. There was a facilitator and we had a small group. This was back in 2003 or 2004. One of the tenants of that with the morning pages, the artist dates, and all of those things was doing a detox. They didn’t call it that, but I call it that now. This detox of information being presented to you. For the course, I remember one of the directions that the instructor gave us was no listening to any outside music, no TV shows, no books. Social media, what do we have back then? My Space. No My Space. Her point was when you liberate your consciousness from being constantly bombarded with other people’s creativity, there can be space for your own organic creative impulses to rise more rather than potentially imitating other people. I remember how liberating that was to do that for the first time.

Did you do the whole week of no outside information?

I love music so much and I’m used to listening to new albums and talking to friends, to this day, constantly devouring new music voraciously all the time. I remember I felt like a junkie. I was like, “What do you mean I’m not going to listen to music for a week?” It forced me to sit down at the guitar or the piano and come up with whatever wanted to come out. It was a fascinating detox. It was like a creative detox. 

No movies. I’ve done this several times and I love it, but I remember that that week in the book at least it’s about a week no reading. She calls it reading deprivation. Did you do no movies and no music? Besides making music, what else did you do?

I journal a lot. I wrote a lot of lyrics to new songs and I sat down at the instrument and I was like, “This is the only option.” I’ve willfully chosen to delete all the other options and be myopically focused on whatever wants to come through my voice, instrument or journal. I remember that was a voice, it was the instruments, and it was my journal. That was it. It was cool to have that laser of a focus. Whitney, with you bringing up all the technology, all the outlets, and all the information, I feel like that’s even more potent than ever. In terms of technology, the cool thing that I want to interject here quickly on the subject. Our friend Adam Yasmin, we did this event with him which was all about mindfulness of the digital age. The sense of how to create a framework to stay mentally and emotionally healthy in an age of information overload. There’s a lot of technology that is anti-technology. Our friend Adam got this thing called The LightPhone which apparently is these minimalist phones. I saw it and the only thing you can do is call, text and it has an alarm function. That’s it.

It’s like the iPhone when it first came out.

We’ve had Nokia phones and you can get a $10 Nokia phone. Their whole thing is it’s low on EMF and blue light spectrum and it’s ultra-minimalist. They don’t call it anti-technology technology. That’s my label on it. I see more of a movement into getting people less distracted and more present. That’s their whole thing with this phone is get minimalist and shed checking your social media every five seconds so you can have more presence with people. Our friend Adam, it’s interesting to hear his experience about spending time with his daughter, his partner, Pam, the people in his life, and bringing this phone instead of his iPhone or his Apple Watch and how much more present he’s been feeling as a result of that. 

That’s a key skill if you learn how to which is mindfulness around how they engage with technology. It’s not that the technology is to blame. It’s our lack of awareness around how it runs out to things.

Sometimes, you have to experience a few minutes of discomfort in order to get huge long-term results. Click To Tweet

That’s an advantage too. You were pointing out, Trevor, we sound old because we remember what it’s like not to have an iPhone. It’s funny because I sometimes feel a little bit sensitive about the age topic because I spend a lot of time on social media observing it. I’m fascinated by it. It’s entertaining and its part of my work. I’m on TikTok a lot. I talk a lot about that. TikTok is dominated by teenagers and twenty-year-olds. There’s this insecurity that anybody over 25 seems to have on TikTok like, “I’m an old person on here.” It’s funny when people in their late 20s, 30s or 40s think that they’re old. The insecurity that comes up and I start to feel a little defensive because I don’t see myself as necessarily old or young. A, because it’s always relative and B, why does it matter? Why do we put a negative or an insecure spin on it? In fact, if we flip it and look at the advantage is that the three of us got to grow up and experience life before all this major technology. When I was growing up, I didn’t have my own computer. I had to use my dad’s. It was a big deal if I got to spend an hour on the computer.

We use the computer at school but every once in a while, we can use a computer at school but mostly we’re writing things down. I’m grateful for that because I didn’t have to deal with the craziness of social media which affects me a lot as an adult who’s already fully cognitively developed. Trevor and I both love to read and I loved meeting other people. You and I could have a book club and talk about it. It’s rare, Trevor. I am one of the only people in my group of friends that reads the type of nonfiction books that you and I like to read but not only reads them but reads a lot of them. That excites me and it’s becoming rarer because many people spend their time on social media. When we were growing up, it was like, “Don’t spend too much time playing video games or watching television.” Now it’s like, “Don’t spend too much time on your phone.” It’s coming back to the advantage.

It’s hard enough for the three of us to avoid it. Imagine how hard it is for anybody who was born or grew up after 2006 with this technology. Parents have to decide when to give their kids devices. Kids want devices and know how to use devices when they’re super young. Adam is saying that his daughter who’s four years old knows how to work the Apple TV, go into Disney Plus and pick her shows and all that. It’s cool because it shows how the brain works but then you start to wonder how is that affecting us for better or for worse like anything else. As Trevor said, it’s going to be a skill to learn and stay mindful. It’s going to be a skill to get offline. It’s harder and harder. That’s a rare thing. It’s hard for people to read. I’ve been looking at a lot of statistics about book reading and it’s shocking how little people read books. The numbers are going down. Coming back to Jason’s point now, we’re consuming all of this information from social media and from the entertainment world but are we consuming enough educational information outside of school?

If I open up my news app, social media apps, look at Apple rumor sites or Ancient Aliens stuff, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine, I notice if I do that first thing in the morning by 11:00, I’m fried. My brain is scrambled and it takes hours of an information detox for me to get back to a baseline of like, “I can comprehend the world again.” That’s me at almost 39 years old. I can only imagine what it would be for a teenager or twenty-something whose social value is tied into these things.

I don’t think technology is to blame. People are training themselves in the responsible, ethical, mindful use of it. They’ll talk about kids and the challenges that we didn’t necessarily face when we were teenagers, in middle school or high school. In doing some research a few years ago for some stuff I was presenting on mental health, I was looking at research about what Harvard Health had done around SSRIs and antidepressants specifically around teenagers and young people. I found that in their studies, children aged 15 to 21, suicide was one of the leading causes of death. I’m not saying social media or technology is to blame but it’s interesting to see that one of the leading causes of death in America for people aged 15 to 21 years old is suicide.

High school and middle school are already tough enough to feel like you belong and fit in. I went through a lot of darkness at that age and I can’t even fathom the extra layers of the pressure of keeping up on TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and all that in the comparison trap. For me, that statistic jumped out and it hurts my heart when I even think about all these young people taking their lives and us asking why. Getting into the nitty-gritty of why is that happening and how can we create a better support system for young people rather than, “Take a Xanax. You can take a Xanny, chill. Take a Prozac, chill.” That’s an epidemic in itself is, “Your kid has got a problem. Throw a pill at them.”

Three courses that need to be taught in all schools from fifth grade on are mindfulness, personal finance and conflict resolution. If we could teach those skills to kids in the same way we teach them history, math, science, and all that stuff, we would have different worlds. Instead, we throw them to the wolves with a lot of this stuff. It’s like, “Figure it out on the playground. Figure it out when you get a job. Figure it out after your first suicide attempt.”

It becomes the responsibility of a parent. None of us have children but through my close friends and staying informed, you see how much stress parents are under especially the younger parents who are perhaps around our age. The temptations of devices are big. A lot of people I talk to feel conflicted. It’s easy to let my kid watch Disney Plus all day. It’s easy to give them an iPad and watch Netflix Kids or play all these games. “I need a break. I’m going to give my children this so that I can take the break.” Our parents would do that too for us growing up. We could watch a certain amount of television or play video games. Now, it’s easy. One of my friends, her son is about 8 or 9. He’s feeling the pressure at that young age to have an iPhone because of all his friends. Under ten years old, they have these cool devices that are not only expensive, first and foremost, but who knows what they’re doing to kids’ brains whether it’s the EMFs or the information online.

When I was growing up, I don’t know if I felt pressure to have cool things like Nintendo. It wasn’t like, “You don’t have it, you’re not cool.” It was more like, “Look what I had. Come over and play with me.” It was rare to have a video game. Not everybody you knew had a game console. I didn’t feel I needed to have it whereas now with things like the iPhone, you’re perceived as weird if you don’t have one or whatever else device other than an iPhone. That is also frightening because it becomes all this social pressure to get these things. We’re driven by the desire to fit in and be accepted by other people. We start to make decisions that aren’t based in mindfulness. The bigger issue that we’re talking about here is external versus internal. We’re taught much about how to operate externally and not enough about how to operate internally.

That’s what you are doing with Wellevatr which I love. I was looking at your website because I wanted to be as up on the latest as I could be. It was such a wonderful feeling to see the work that you are doing in the world which is focused on these intangible things of feeling control of your life, do the things that make you happy, learn how to nurture your healthy habits and define what healthy means for you. I was looking at all the blog posts and listening to the episodes and you are doing important work. What’s coming up for me is I want to ask you what are your mindfulness practices around technology specifically with outlined how damaging they can be? What do you do to help, not only protect yourselves but also what would you recommend to other people as a place to start?

That’s something that I’m working on a blog post for Wellevatr.com. If you’re enjoying this conversation, you want to check out the books, Trevor, and everything else that we’re discussing here. I’ll find some old photos of us at Apple and put them in there.

There are a few on Facebook. We’re babies.

It’s interesting when it comes to the mindfulness because as Jason mentioned, we spoke at an event and it got me thinking. As much work as we do around mindfulness and well-being, through that panel discussion that we are on, it started getting me reflecting on the opportunities that I had. I’m only doing the basic work now. My first thing is how long I can go when I wake up without checking my phone? One thing that was brought up by one of the other panelists, which if you know about him already and his work, Trevor, you’d be into it. His name is Tommy Sobel and he has a company called Brick. It’s about turning your devices into a brick temporarily. Going on literal vacations without using your device and seeing how long you can go without using your device beyond the necessities. He has all these great statistics.

He has some downloads or blog posts on his website about this. The one that stuck out with me was he started talking about how most of us use our phones as alarm clocks. What happens is that we have to physically touch our phones to turn off the alarm. We are impressionable where we’re still coming into consciousness when we wake up. If we pick up that phone and immediately start taking in information on the phone, reading our text messages or emails, checking Apple News if you’re on an iPhone, checking whatever else, going on social media, if we do that the first thing in the morning, we’re starting to put all this information in our heads that has a massive effect on us throughout the day. What you were saying, Trevor, about how you would read blog posts earlier in the day and by 11:00 AM, you would start to feel fried.

It reminds me of the research they’ve done on willpower, how we have a finite amount of willpower each day. We need to think of it as a precious resource because if we use it all up at the beginning of the day, we’re not going to have any willpower left. We have to be mindful of it. Were in the society that we’ll use any means necessary to get more energy. It’s like, “I’ll caffeinate myself to get more energy. I’ll take pills or supplements.” We’re obsessed with getting energy because most of us are under-slept and we’re not getting quality sleep. It’s a huge issue. 80% of the population, at least in the US but maybe the world, has some sleep challenges. That talk about an epidemic. This idea of what do we do first thing in the morning. Are we checking our phones first thing? That, to me, is something I have to be mindful of every single day because it is addicting that we want that hit.

MGU 51 | Cultivating Mindfulness

We want that information because my career now changes every single day. The first thing I’m thinking of is, did I get an email from somebody that’s going to give me an opportunity? Is it time-sensitive? That’s another thing. A lot of us want to check our devices first thing in the morning because we’ve completely changed our relationships in terms of priorities. People expect you to get back to them faster than ever. If you don’t respond to some of these texts fast enough, they think you’re mad at them or something is wrong. If you don’t respond to an email, you can get in trouble. For me, somebody quit a project that I was working on with them because I didn’t respond to their emails fast enough. I was resentful because I thought, “I never told you that I was going to respond to your emails within your perceived sense of time.” This person had this idea that if I didn’t respond to them within what they thought was appropriate, which was never communicated to me, then I wasn’t a professional or I wasn’t doing my job quickly enough.

They had this extreme rush mentality in their head that they decided they no longer wanted to work with me on it. I thought this is exactly why people have anxiety or one of the many reasons I should say because we put pressure on one another. We try to impose our priorities on one another. As many of us are aware, emails and text messages are a list of other people’s priorities. When you wake up and the first thing you do is take in other people’s information and listen to other people’s priorities, your self-care goes down to drain. We have to completely reframe our way of operating because it feels good to go on there and feel important. It feels good to get text messages, social media notifications and read emails from other people telling you that you’re important or that something’s exciting. Every morning, I’m battling that like, “What are my priorities? What’s important to me? What do I need to do for myself?” Every day I begin my day thinking, how long can I go without checking my phone?

What are those priorities though? In the vacuum that’s left from not checking your phone, what are you feeling that with?

I’ll tell you one of the best things that I’ve done. In November 2019, I started going to a 6:15 AM yoga class. It made a massive difference because I have considered myself a night owl most of my life. I was lucky if I would get up before 10:30 AM on most days. I carry this weight of shame because people would hear how late I woke up and judge me for it. I felt embarrassed but I also would try to own it and be like, “I’m a night owl. I don’t want to go to bed until 2:00 AM.” I still don’t. It’s hard for me to go to bed before midnight. Some nights as a result of that, I only get four hours of sleep because I get up for that class three days a week. I’m trying to train my body to wake up that early every single day because it would be beneficial to me physically, mentally, socially and professionally if I get up at 5:00 every morning. It’s hard. That’s rapid change. The big benefit that I’ve seen is that when I get up Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 5:15, I’m exhausted. I’m such a time crunch to get to class that I don’t have the time to check my phone. If I check my phone, then I’m late for class or I don’t get into class as a consequence of it.

In other words, it set a consequence and a huge boundary that I don’t normally have. The other days of the week where I get up and I have an hour or so to do whatever I feel like, I’ll fill that space with something on my phone or my computer. Those mornings that I get up for that are magnificent because not only am I barely checking my phone, I turn off my alarm and I check my phone to see if there are any important notifications. Was there an emergency text message or was there an email that I do need to respond to right away? Rarely there is at 5:00 AM. My emails and texts don’t start coming in until 9:00 AM Pacific Time. I go to this amazing fitness class that is based on mindfulness, taught by somebody who values meditation and gratitude practices. It’s one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. It nourishes me so much. It’s been one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself because my priority is taking care of myself first thing in the morning three days a week.

That sets the tone for the rest of the day. You’re building that muscle so you can catch yourself in the moment when you’re like, “I’m lost in iPhone land. Put it down.” That’s a skill and that’s a muscle. The more we can nurture that to catch ourselves and go, “It’s happening,” act on that. Starting your day with something as powerful as yoga, breathing and getting out of the environment that’s conducive to defaulting to a piece of technology is awesome.

I encourage more people to do that, especially to one of those like, “If I can do it, anybody can do it,” because of how rapidly I’ve had to change my schedule to do that and how physically hard it is every morning, especially if I don’t get that much sleep. I got less than four hours of sleep and my alarm went off. I sat there and debated, “I’m tired. I didn’t get enough sleep. I should keep sleeping.” I try to battle with myself and then I said, “I’m going to do it.” I didn’t regret it even though it was physically exhausting. All those reasons you listed, Trevor, are important for me. It shows me a resiliency within myself that I don’t experience when I do decide to sleep in or when I do decide to lounge around in my bed and watch TikTok videos. It’s the training. The other huge benefit of doing that is I have noticed a big difference between how I am in a yoga class, when I’ve been on my phone, around other people all day, and had all this information.

I take another class once a week at 5:00 PM and that class is much harder mentally for me than it is physically. I’m much more awake physically at 5:00 PM. I feel ready for it but mentally, I feel drained. Going back to what you were saying, Trevor, is that my brain is full of information and that I’m not as present. At that 6:15 AM class, I am more present than I’ve ever been in any other class because I haven’t talked to anybody in person aside from the people at the studio. The only people I’m interacting with are a bunch of strangers that are in class with me. It’s different than when you talk to your friends or your family, a coworker or whoever else. These strangers are simple interactions. I’m not processing any of those exchanges. Sometimes, I’m not reading any information before I go into class. Mainly I’m getting ready for the day in my head and I’m much more able to focus on my body, the breathing, and everything else. It’s such a better experience than other classes when my head is full of the day.

You’re still easing into consciousness from this dream world like we were talking about. If that first hour of your day is based on something other than reacting to other people’s brains and requests for you, that’s awesome.

Our friend Tommy who runs Brick had a great quote from the event we did which was, “Emails and texts are other people’s to-do lists for you.” That hit me and I was like, “It really is.” Especially when there’s this energy of, “Give back to me or it’s not communicated.” People have an expectation that you give back to them right away. As part of my morning practice, that sealed container of time for me to meditate every morning, to nourish myself, to take the dog on a walk, to breathe, to do all of those things before I turned the phone and the computer on. I’ve noticed that prior to doing that and having that dedicated morning practice for me at least an hour to 90 minutes in my morning for me, I would start to feel a sense of resentment because if I jumped into my email and my phone right away, it is people texting me without fail, nearly every single morning.

I turn on that phone and a bunch of texts and emails come in. If I’m not nourishing myself on a mental, physical and spiritual level, I get into resentment mode quickly. It’s not that I’m resentful for other people asking me for things, I’m resentful at myself for not giving myself what I need. There’s almost a self-abandonment. The resentment comes from a feeling that I’ve abandoned myself and given too much attention to other people and not met my own needs. In terms of mindfulness, I’ve noticed that that’s why it’s important for me to have that container in that morning practice to start my day. 

Two things based on what you said. One is that a lot of people keep their phones on at night. I find that fascinating too. I’ve dated men where I’m sleeping next to them in bed and I hear the notifications go off. I’ll ask them before we go to sleep, “Do you mind turning off your notifications?” They’ve gotten angry with me. Multiple guys that I’ve dated have felt this resistance like, “Why do I need to turn my phone off?” My sister is like this too. Some people sleep with their phone next to their head and not on airplane mode. My phone is always on airplane mode before I go to bed because I use it as an alarm. It is near me as a result. I don’t want to hear it buzzing. I don’t want to hear a beeping. I don’t want to see the screen flashing. I’ve noticed by sharing rooms with various people, friends, family, romantic partners, that many people have their notifications on it. I find that interesting, Jason. You and I share that and Trevor too. When I turn my phone on, then I see them. Imagine the people that throughout the whole night, their brains are still hearing the nuances.

The subconscious, even when you’re sleeping, your brain is aware of the surroundings hearing a buzz.

Some people don’t register that. They think, “What if there’s an emergency?” That’s a good point but you should install a regular phone in your home or some notification alert to tell you because many people have this fear of missing out. “I’m going to miss out on an emergency. I’m going to miss out on something.” If we don’t give our brains a break, that means that our entire existence is waiting for a notification.

I’m also curious to hear if they feel stressed out. The three of us are perhaps more sensitive to that and other people are like, “No, it’s fine. I don’t feel stressed having that. I don’t feel anxious.”

Do they have the awareness even to know what stress is? That is the question. 

Is it their baseline? Many things you engage in a certain practice long enough and it becomes normalized and habitual that you’re not even aware of doing it. We’d go back to the incubator of this particular segment of our conversation where I’ve noticed that I can snap into mindfulness when I ask myself two questions. Why am I doing this and what is it that I need? I noticed that on a physical level, I had a problem with sugar addiction. I don’t think it’s a problem anymore because I’ve worked a lot on this, of the awareness when I would reach for a cookie, a piece of chocolate, vegan ice cream, name a million things. I love sugar. It was often and I noticed a corollary between feeling lonely, sad, masochistic or self-flagellating. In order to distract myself from that pain, often self-generated, I would try and mask it and comfort myself through sugar because on a deeper level I noticed that as a child, I didn’t feel I had a lot of control because of my mom and dad’s relationship.

Don't allow fear to turn us against ourselves. Click To Tweet

My dad leaving and a lot of abuse, abandonment, and things from my childhood. The one thing I remember I could control was what I put in my mouth. As a child in an adult body with a technical education, the thing that I noticed that I still want to control is what I put in my mouth because that’s how I felt in control as a child. To the point you brought up, Trevor, around the awareness of this. When I pick up the phone, I asked myself, am I distracting myself from pain? Am I distracting myself from boredom? Which is something Whitney has wonderfully and lovingly flagged as a friend to me of like, “Why are you picking up your phone?” I’m like, “I’m bored.” Boredom is pain. Suffering is pain. Masochism is pain. It’s discomfort. Instead of using sugar now, I’ll use my phone. In the same way, I used sugar to distract myself from pain, boredom, misery and suffering instead of being with it.

One other thing based on what you were saying, Jason, which was the situation aside because everything is relative. I did think it was an interesting example of what we’re talking about here without going into details, Jason, you shared with me a text exchange that you had. One of the things that I remembered clearly was that Jason was texting back and forth with somebody and he didn’t respond to a text right away. About ten minutes after his lack of response, a person wrote something like, “How dare you not respond to me. This isn’t a great time to respond.” Ten minutes had passed and Jason was out walking his dog.

Without my phone because I wanted to be connected present time with my dog so I left the phone at home.

That situation aside, it is relative because ten minutes can feel a long time for some people in some situations. It’s also interesting how our concept of time has changed much because we have changed our relationship through technology. Everything is instantaneous. As a society, a big issue that we’re facing now is that we’re used to getting things as quickly as we want them whether it’s information, communication or food. You can order things online. You can get it delivered to you, and we have fast food. How quickly can we get our needs met? How quickly can we experience pleasure? How quickly can we relieve pain? Another thing that we need to work on is patience.

I remember as a kid, my parents taught me about patience and trying to navigate boredom. Our relationship with patients and boredom and the way that we define it is different. For me as a kid, boredom was after school and you didn’t have a friend to play with, didn’t have a video game or your favorite TV show wasn’t on for a few more hours and your parents were busy. You had to entertain yourself. You had to work through boredom in a completely different way than now. If we’re bored, uncomfortable, in pain, we can reach for our phones and alleviate that to some extent instantaneously. If we can’t get those needs met, we will lash out at people. Ten minutes becomes this painful period. Jason on the other end of that situation, he wanted to have a moment of mindfulness, but he was shamed for it.

I’m an armchair neuroscience geek. I’ve read these books about how the brain is responding, especially this technology. This book called The Shallows by a guy named Nicholas Carr was scary. The subtitle is What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. This one book talked about how boredom is that magical sweet spot where our brains go into something called the default mode network. We have these two modes of engaging with the world. One is this active engagement where we’re having a conversation, I’m working on something. Boredom is when you’re walking through the forest or sitting and staring at the wall, paint is in your breath, whatever it is but you’re not actively trying to change something about your outer world.

The research is showing them that it is such an essential time for our brains to start taking all this disparate information that we’ve been soaking up and connecting and organizing it. It’s like what our brains do when we sleep but to a slightly lesser degree. Boredom is essential. I’m trying not to sound like an old person saying this but it concerns me that there’s little opportunity to be bored. If we want to be bored, it has to be a conscious choice now. I subscribed to Apple Arcade now. This game Grindstone is the best game I’ve ever played. My brain was done around 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM, I came back from this couple of therapy session which is wonderful. I loved it. After those sessions, depending on what we talk about, I’m either amped like, “Let’s do something awesome.” I’m like, “I need to chill and relax my brain.” I was like, “I’m excited. It’s 10:00, I’m going to lay in bed, I’ll play one level of Grindstone.”

It’s like, “I’ll have one cupcake.”

It’s fun. Long story short, it was 12:30 and I had played who knows how many levels. I’m a completionist so I wanted to get the crown and the different blueprints out of the treasure chest.

It reminds me of another game that I’ve played. I’ve gone through periods of myself getting addicted to games like that, so I get it.

Speaking of mindfulness, I’m trying to use games like this as a reward for doing the things that I know I should be doing. I’m trying to bracket it or containerize it in a way. I was in bed and I played this game for 2.5 hours. It felt like twenty minutes. I’m going, “Now I’m not going to have enough sleep for tomorrow. I’m going to be crap in this interview. I’m not going to be present. What did that fill my brain with? Now I’m going to sleep like crap.”

It’s almost like we start to punish ourselves for not being mindful of that.

What I noticed too is that when I do that stuff, whatever I focused on late at night in 45 minutes to an hour before I turn off the light, I dream about it. I think about it and my brain process. I woke up with the music from that game in my head. I know all night long, I was seeing the little colored little creep guys and I wasted a night where I could have used that to be bored and let my brain start to think about some of this stuff that came up in the therapy session. I could have been visualizing or thinking about what’s going to move my life forward because I have this general sense of anxiety that I’m wasting away and squandering opportunities. Instead, I played this stupid game which was awesome and it was fun. It’s a mindfulness thing. It’s got to be intentional. I’m choosing to do this for this amount of time. I’m going to choose to be bored for this amount of time and it’s easy to reach for that phone. It comes back to that hole that that intention thing is a muscle. I realized that I vented all my frustration to you guys.

We should start positioning in this show as therapy too. It gets uncomfortable in lots of different ways. We had Robert Cheeke. I can’t wait for you to hear, Trevor. 

He’s an awesome man. I’ve only met him once briefly at VegFest but he’s a stud.

MGU 51 | Cultivating MindfulnessTrevor, a follow-up question that I had because we started off this episode talking about conspiracy theories. A question for both of you. Trevor, I’d love you to begin this and your perspective on it based on all your reading, research and conspiracy theory interests. Do you think that all of these things that we’re going through is a form of human control? Do you think that somebody is like a mastermind like, “I’m going to give people this technology that they’ll become addicted to it. I’m going to use social media to manipulate if people did make money in?” Do you think that there are some evil forces at play or manipulative controlling forces? I wonder that from time-to-time. Are we, as a society, being given all of these things that people know are still pleasurable but is it because we’re being manipulated into using it so that maybe our brains don’t function as well as they possibly could? I hope there isn’t one person doing all of that.

Do you think that there are some forces at power where they think if we can dumb down people, if we can make them feel addicted or become addicted, feel insecure about themselves, it becomes all of these superficial things? For me, one of the reasons that I want to be more mindful and the reason I love reading is because it empowers me when I have information, when I’m a critical thinker, working more for internal intrinsic reasons versus the need for external validation and motivation. When we become focused on the external and less in touch with the internal, it takes away some of our power.

Some of the most powerful people in our history as human beings are critical thinkers. They’re the rebels. They’re the people that have stepped away and said, “This isn’t working.” Some people will bring up the reference to that Pixar movie, Wall-E. If I remember correctly, it’s showing a future society in which people are zombies and taking in information, eating lots of junk food and sitting. They’re no longer active and they’re doing everything. They’re basically pleasure machines. All they want to do is put in the least amount of effort and get the most amount of pleasure. It often feels like society is going that way as well. Does either of you think that there’s a mastermind reason behind it? Are we doing it to ourselves? Are we all in control of society, we’re all contributing, and we’ve all let ourselves down this path? Is it our own doing or is it something else at play?

That’s a fascinating thought experiment. I feel like to a large degree, it’s still the Wild West when it comes to what all this technology is and how we’re all interfacing with it. I do think that a distracted population is more easily controllable. I would not be surprised if in the government think tanks of the world where people do is sit around and think about the future, mass populations and human condition. If it goes like, “Keep Netflix affordable and we’ll be able to get away with a few things.” There are some wonderful movements happening but I don’t know enough about history and how all of this has happened before or will it happen again kind of stuff. It does feel like a lot more people are, “All this climate change stuff, we should be in an uproar.” It’s more like, “That’s a sad article.”

I was into the climate movement for a while. Honestly, I had to unplug myself because there’s this thing. It’s like echo depression or something. It’s a thing where people immersed themselves much in this and it’s a slew of bad news and inaction. God bless Greta Thunberg. We need people like her. I wish I could be like her, but I can’t. I’m too sensitive. I need to find my area of leverage, my personal protest and what gives me energy rather than sucks it away. I also try to be a human being existing in the world that has some fun every once in a while. I’m as guilty as everybody else. I’ll read about the coral reefs and things like that or the Amazon and I’ll be upset about it. I’ll share and talk about it but it’s not in me to stand on the steps of city hall and protest. I have different forms of activism that I feel more called to. I’ll read that stuff and then I’ll watch Netflix because I can afford it. I want to escape from the bad news. I’m there with the rest of the world and I don’t know what the answer is, but that’s my gut-level response to that.

You have to come across the conspiracy theory talks about that. 

I’m sure that there’s a degree of that but I don’t think it’s that well-organized if it is happening. Maybe in countries like Russia or China, but here in the “free world”, I don’t think it’s that intentional.

That’s a relief. I’d like to call you that we’re not being controlled and manipulated. Maybe it’s a fortunate thing. As I was saying, we’ve done it to ourselves and then people in power think, “You’ve made our jobs a lot easier because you’re easy to control.”

There are these information campaigns that we’ve identified and who knows when it’s still happening and whatnot. It’s happening but it’s messy. We’re fighting the good fight as citizens in democratic nations. What do you think, Jason?

On a basic level of energy and physiology that a populace is fed extremely toxic food, toxic fluoridated water, living in densely populated city environments with bad air quality, 5G, and being bombarded with constant messages from giant marketing corporations of you’re not enough and you’re a piece of crap until you buy this thing. Having a distracted, toxic, sick, dumbed down population is vastly easier to control. If people were learning mindfulness practices in school, conflict resolution, body awareness, and self-awareness, an activated self-aware healthy public, much more apt to rise up and say, “We’re not going to stand for this crap anymore.” If I may, taking one example of many. This is a sweeping generalization, but I admire the French for many reasons. One of which is I’ve noticed at least 40 something years I’ve been hearing and looking at the new stuff. 

Whenever the French government tries to pass something that the public doesn’t like, they immediately get in the streets and say, “Mange merde, eat shit, we’re not going to take this.” We are toxic, sick, distracted and dumbed down that it’s like, “Give me my new Ford every three years. Give me my new Netflix show. Give me my Chick-fil-A. Let me live my comfortable, stupid life.” I don’t mean stupid as in a bad thing. Give me my comfortable, simple life where I’m not going to allow myself to get uncomfortable, angry or fired up about things that are happening. I do think that a great book is Power vs. Force that are talking about the energetic imprint of certain emotions, words, and how words are used in on the emotional, energetic scale. Shame and feeling guilt are very much at an extremely low vibration. If we have a populace that feels badly about themselves, that it’s toxic, toxic thoughts, food and relationships, those people are easier to manipulate.

On a physiological, energetic level, we’re conditioned perhaps to think in binary terms, Democrat, Republican, vegan, Paleo, good, bad, right, wrong, good versus evil, it’s one of the ultimate tropes and archetypes of our mythologies has been since the dawn of storytelling. There are non-physical energies that feed on the energy that we emit as humans. If we are in an extremely low vibration of guilt, shame, toxicity, that energy is feeding some thing or some things. If we are activated, empowered, self-aware, living in love, living in compassion and generosity, the imprint of that energy also feeds something. I don’t want to label it and put a name on it, but I do believe that our actions, thoughts, deeds, and energies are feeding things outside of ourselves. I do believe that. To be aware and responsible for our energy, thoughts, words and deeds is critically important.

We’ve talked a little bit about mindfulness, your meditation practice and your morning ritual. How does someone go about starting down that path?

Learning to be quiet and embracing aloneness is the first thing. I don’t mean loneliness but aloneness. Intentional. When I wake up in the morning, even if I have to wake up to something that we teach people, Whitney and I wake up 30 minutes earlier, stop complaining. Before you attend to the kids, your spouse, the phone, so-and-so, take that 30 minutes and have a designated area in your house that you can be alone and be quiet, even 10 or 15 minutes. Sit with your eyes closed, “I know but I hate my thoughts.” Thoughts are painful. They can be painful if you give them power. People learning to be comfortable with aloneness and quiet of their own thoughts is the first step. People are terrified to be alone with their own thoughts. To be honest, I don’t think the purpose of mindfulness and meditation is to banish negative thinking or painful thoughts. It’s to be with it, watch them, and not give them power. You can watch the pain and watch the suffering in your mind and go, “I don’t have to do anything with it. I don’t have to believe it. I don’t have to give it power. I can be with it.” That’s the first step is people sitting in quiet, intentional aloneness with their painful thinking.

What you outlined was one of the biggest breakthroughs in my adult life which were I meditate every morning and I use Headspace. I love it.

One of the Headspace guys was at our panel too. 

It was the pack on anxiety. They have these themed packs, so it’s a 30-day pack. It suggested course basically. The technique that he shared was what do you call Noting. It’s exactly what you described, but to me, nothing clicked about mindfulness, meditation, or any of this stuff, anything about life. Nothing clicked until I learned this Noting Technique which is you’re sitting, your breath, a thought comes in and you note it. He takes you through over the course of a couple of weeks, different layers. The first layer was thinking or feeling. Is this a thought or my intellectual mind? Is this a feeling like an emotion or my heart? Pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. The second one, you can label it judgment, anxiety, happiness, joy, excitement, fear. Learning to have that split second of a pause with my thoughts rather than going like, “I’m thinking breath again. I’m thinking anxiety, unpleasant. Back to the breath.” I can’t tell you how incredibly liberating that was. It was a turning point in my life. What you described is if people could give themselves the space to have that revelation for themselves, it’d be amazing.

If we want to change the world, we have to start by changing ourselves. Click To Tweet

I published a newsletter and I had been doing some research on the power of reading. I found that reading for 30 minutes a week can have a profound impact on your life satisfaction. When you break it down, it’s less than five minutes a day of reading. Imagine, if you could improve your life satisfaction by doing something for 4 or 5 minutes. There was another data that I’ve found that for overall health if you can exercise, move your body for 150 minutes a week, which breaks down to 21 minutes, 20 minutes of movement which could be a walk. You have 4 or 5 minutes of reading which could also be an audiobook while you’re walking so you could multitask. If you added in 5 or 10 minutes of mindfulness every day, you could transform yourself in 30 minutes. Going back to what Jason said, if you woke up 30 minutes earlier and did that, the power of that. 

It’s your power half-hour.

The other thing is when I started doing the math for myself and I wrote about this in my newsletter as well as I go to that yoga class three days a week. That works. It’s a 60-minute class so that’s 180 minutes a week. I’m over the ideal amount of exercise a week in three days a week. I read 15 to 20 minutes before each class. I get 45 minutes to an hour of reading three days a week. It doesn’t have to be every day. It’s based on how much you do it. Not only is that something I feel more excited to recommend to people, but it’s also important for us to reflect on our own lives and how we’re doing it in our own specific ways. Part of my meditation practice happens during yoga. It’s that Shavasana period where it’s that moment at the end of my class when the teacher asks us to put our hands on our hearts or to take a breath before class even begins.

It’s sometimes as the meditation during the drive to class when I’m still waking up and I’m not listening to any music. I’m focused on driving and that seven-minute drive or whatever it is for me to get to class. Being present in the car and watching the traffic around me. The sun isn’t even out and I’m coming into consciousness. The other important thing is for us to all find that time. If you can give yourself 30 minutes of self-care each day and ideally at the beginning of the day before you turn on your phone, the massive shift that we can have within ourselves is going to start to ripple out to other people. We also live in a society with much resistance to things like this. It’s that this idea of short-term pleasure versus long-term pleasure. We’re passionate about showing how growth is on the other side of comfort outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes you have to experience a few minutes of discomfort in order to get huge long-term results. 

The other part of this idea of being manipulated or controlled by other forces that have agendas, a thing that I think about all the time that I need to remind myself of constantly is that in nature, there’s no such thing as scarcity. You take a walk in nature, there is an innumerable number of flowers, trees, seeds, blades of grass, insects, depending on where we are creatures. We couldn’t physically count all of those things. We couldn’t physically take a mental inventory of how much abundance there is in nature. In the humanistic modern technological world, there’s an underlying attitude of, “There’s not enough money. We’re heading towards a recession. Everyone better buckled down. There’s not enough money, investment and shares. The stock market is going to tank.” This idea of lack, scarcity and doom, that extends to healthcare, money, water, resources, time and food. There’s not enough healthy food, time, money and it’s a lie.

It’s a lie because this exists outside of the scope of the entire reality of nature in which we live in. Scarcity is a human-created concept. One thing I trip on all the time is thinking about hunger. Us growing up in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, one of the big things that we beat on with Live Aid was feeding children in Africa and other countries. Statistically, what I’m passionate about, what I found is it’s not the lack of grains, food and nourishing resources. It’s a distribution issue. We’re feeding the grains, the water and the resources to 100 billion land animals each year and slaughtering them for meat, which is a horrifically inefficient practice when we could be taking the corn, peas, crops, soy, oats, water, and giving them to humans who need to eat. My point is that one of the mechanisms of lie is the illusion of scarcity that continues to get perpetuated by corporations, media, government, and it is not true. There’s enough money, food, and water. It’s a distribution issue that if people were to move toward more compassion, generosity and equanimity, people could be fed and nourished but then where’s the profit in that?

That’s what it comes down to.

I’m not slamming capitalism, but our version of capitalism has destroyed humanism and destroyed compassion in the name of profit in the sense of, I don’t think capitalism intrinsically, there can be ethical capitalism. Our current system is the furthest thing from ethical. 

We got in pretty deep. 

Rants galore, people. #LoveRants.

Trevor, what are some other things on your heart if you have one last thing to discuss, what would it be?

Was there anything that you wanted to discuss that we haven’t touched upon? 

There’s so much. I wanted to hear about your experience building Wellevatr, where you’ve both come from in your business backgrounds, with your training, your expertise, your passions, and how you’ve managed to fuse all those things into something that serves the world and also serves a sense of purpose in you. I would love to hear about that.

We’ll do a whole dedicated episode to that. We do have our 2nd and 3rd episodes talking about our personal backgrounds.

I listened to one of the earlier episodes. You said something, Jason, that resonated with me. You said something along the lines of that for you, at this point in your journey, it’s less about what you want from life and more about what life wants from you.

MGU 51 | Cultivating Mindfulness

Cultivating Mindfulness: If we want to change the world, we have to start by changing ourselves.

 

That’s one of my mindfulness practices and attempting because it is a practice to get out of my own way is to ask what does life want? Not what do I want because oftentimes my ego and what I want can color my entire reality. One of the biggest questions that I’ve injected into my practice is what does life want? When I say life interchangeable with God, spirit, and universe or whatever the terminology is, I use life, in this case, what does life want for me? Oftentimes, it is not a comfortable, easy choice. Life is asking me to do something, to be like, “You want me to move there? You want me to do that thing? You want me to have that uncomfortable, painful conversation with that person?” That’s what life. It’s much easier to be like, “I want to sit on the couch and not talk to a person and not move to the city. That spirit life is calling.”

Whatever the thing is. Often, when I surrender to in my meditation and ask like, “What do you want, life? Show me. I’m an open vessel. Show me what you want. Show me what I am to do.” I don’t like the answer that comes but it’s also surrendering to, I believe that I’m not here to fulfill all of my desires and that be it. I am here to be a vessel, conduit, an antenna, a messenger for love, connection, creativity, truth, vulnerability and honesty. Through my own flawed and messy human experience, the more that I can access those things, the more that I can shine that light and bring that energy to other people. If I had a life mission in asking what does life want, it is that so I can be a better vessel and a better messenger for those things. Sometimes better at it than others.

Trevor, why did you stop podcasting? 

A couple of reasons.

Do you think you’ll ever go back into it?

I don’t know. It got to a point where it felt saturated. When I started, podcasting was a noble thing and not a lot of people had a podcast or knew what it was. It felt we were doing something unique and we were offering something unique. I got to a point where it felt everybody and their mother had a podcast. There was a lot of noise out there. There were a lot of people doing what we were doing, frankly a little bit better. The most important thing was it began to feel a shirt that didn’t fit right anymore.

I wanted to say the parallel you made could be applied. I often say the same thing. It could be applied to a YouTube channel, music career or acting career. You’re a multi-talented artist and creative person. Up until you said it felt a shirt that didn’t fit, I thought we could, as creators, artists, and business people make that argument for anything, everything saturated. We’re in LA with a quadrillion singers, musicians, actors and YouTube is podcasters. We not to let that prevent us from doing something if it’s in our heart. For you, if you felt the shirt didn’t fit, but if the shirt did still fit, this is another thing of how do we move forward with gusto, verve, and confidence knowing in a city like LA, there are a quadrillion people doing the same crap but not because they’re not us. We could say they’re doing the same crap, but you bringing your personality, energy, history and perspective is the difference-maker because people want to hear you because you’re you. Yes? No?

That’d be nice. I had a sense that finally with the podcast, we had said everything we were going to say. That was another piece of it. It started to feel like an ill-fitting piece of clothing. A lot of other people were doing it and doing it well. I was like, “I don’t know what else I can add to this conversation at this point.”

It’s like when you know you’re done, you’re done. 

It was a hard place to come to because it was a good thing in many ways. I am grateful for having done it because I met many people that completely changed the trajectory of my life and career, what career that there was. I miss it but it was the right thing because my heart wasn’t in it. It became a burden more than a joy. The question I wanted to ask you is and we used to ask this at the end of every one of my episodes, but I always love it. If you could distill all of your knowledge and wisdom and everything from this journey of life that you’ve been on these many years until now and distill that into a nugget of wisdom that you could then pass on to somebody walking the path beside you, behind you, or with you, what would that nugget of wisdom be? That one nugget of life wisdom.

First of all, I’m going to steal blatantly from Jim Carrey and then add my own. One of the most profound things, and Jim Carrey has said and done a lot of interesting, profound things in the past decade especially in his term toward mindfulness and spirituality, was a speech he gave at Maharishi University. He said, “Don’t you ever let fear turn you against your playful heart?” I have allowed fear to turn me against my playful heart far too many times in my life. I’m becoming more aware of how I give into fear now than opposed to when I was younger. Fear of failure, rejection, not being accepted and being misunderstood has robbed people from sharing their deepest gifts from the world. It happens over and over again. Not allowing fear to derail us, not allowing us to allow fear to turn us against ourselves is the biggest thing. The other thing is to treat life as an experiment, as practice. It doesn’t have to be serious all the time. People are like, “YOLO, we got one shot.” You don’t know that. Ease up. Slow down and breathe for a second. Slow down and enjoy this thing. Don’t take it seriously. Slow down and savor it more, please. I say to you, dear reader and Trevor and Whitney because I’m saying to myself. That’s the organic love vomit that came through me. 

It’s interesting when people ask questions like this. No matter how many times I’ve done public speaking, whenever I’m in a setting where somebody puts me on the spot and says like, “Condense down on something. It’s one word or it’s one sentence.” It feels a lot of pressure. That’s always interesting to observe. 

The first thing she does is punch them in the deck which she’s going to give you which is great. I hate this question.

It’s more like, “I hate this question I’m going to disappear or put it on to somebody.” My first instinct was like, “Why don’t I ask Trevor back his own questions?” I was observing this within myself during a New Year’s Eve party that Jason and I went to and it was at this amazing wellness space. It was full of all these incredible wellness people. There were 40 people there and they had every single person go around and share. I forget what the question was. It was interesting. Russell Brand was there and he shared something. Marie Forleo is somebody else I admire. Those two and then you have all these other incredible people that might not be as well-known and they’re sharing all these words of wisdom. 

What are your hopes and dreams for the New Year and beyond?

Continue to look inward so that you can make a bigger input outward. Click To Tweet

It turned into a lot of people giving advice.

She lay the long but beautiful deep answers.

It took at least an hour to go around. It was special but I did get bored. I was sitting there and listening to people talk for that long, it feels draining for me but I didn’t want to contribute. I strategically found a way to leave because there was all this pressure from the group to talk. It started off as like, “If you want to share something, go ahead.” It turned into every single person speaking whether they wanted to or not. For me, I don’t want to be pressured to speak. I got up and left so that when it came around to me, it would skip over me. I was noticing that avoidance side of myself. To answer your question, Trevor, what I’m doing through sharing this is that it’s about getting in tune with who you are and similar to Jason is not being afraid of it. If we can gain more clarity, if we can peel back the layers, and try to figure out who we are amongst everything we see. We get clouded and we lose sight of who we are because we start to compare ourselves much to other people.

That makes it tough because we’re busy looking at what other people are doing. We forget what do we want and who we are. Most of us grow up with being in the traditional education system. We’re covered with the layers of what our teachers have taught us about who we should be and how we should operate in the world. It’s hard to gain clarity on ourselves based on our parents, parental figures, or family members and what they tell us. We’re impressionable. We’re shaped by the people in our lives. A lot of the times it becomes hard to figure out who you are and what you want. A lot of us walk around with resentment, confusion and fear because we’re not living out what feels best to us. It’s hard to identify that sometimes.

At that moment on New Year’s Eve, I don’t like to be pressured, cornered, forced or controlled into something. If I want to speak, I’ll speak but if I want to listen, let me listen. In those social situations, I’ll sometimes get frustrated or feel that pressure to say the right thing. I’ve noticed that within myself is sometimes I’m busy trying to do or say the right thing to please other people that I lose track of what I want and who I am. That’s a huge mission of mine to not only figure that out for me but encourage other people to do that too.

It’s going back to Jason, be unapologetic for who you are and what you want. It’s still important to operate from a place of caring for other people. Not to take it to a narcissistic or ego-based extreme of like, “I’m the only person that matters. Screw everybody else, I’m going to do what I want.” It’s still important for us to function as a community and to take into consideration how other people feel and what other people’s needs are. It goes back to that cliché advice is you have to put the oxygen mask. You put that on yourself first. A lot of us grew up seeing that advice and being confused. There would be a picture of a little kid next to an adult and the adults got to put it on first. What do you mean?

Our instinct is to put the oxygen mask on the little kid first. The reason that that advice is in place as if we don’t take care of ourselves first, we will not be able to help other people. Coming back to you, Trevor, from an environmental standpoint, if we want to change the world, we have to start by changing ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves if we are going to have the emotional or physical resiliency to make a difference. My advice is to continue to look inward so that you can make a bigger input outward. It does start within and it’s become cliché, but I don’t think enough people take it into it. We hear all this advice but a lot of us are taking information and don’t apply it.

We aren’t listening the first five times. That’s why. Why did they say this stuff? You all weren’t listening. 

People can listen, but implementation is the key. You can’t take it in. You have to take action. We all know it good for us to meditate, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to meditate every day. We all know that yoga or moving your body for twenty minutes a day is great. A lot of us want to sit around and do nothing. We know we could be doing to improve ourselves. A lot of us aren’t doing it. If you think about it from an internal-external motivation point, if you know that you’re going to feel your best life is a lot nicer. If you know that when you feel your best, you can also help the world improve, then it becomes motivating. Trevor, it’s your turn. 

Trevor, you have some of my favorite email newsletters that I’ve ever read. Before you got here, Jason read through a few of them and this is a great summary of who Trevor is and what he believes in. I love your insights and the things that you share. I love the music that you put out. It’s not for your friends, anybody can sign up in your newsletter?

Yes. I’ve been lazy with it. It hadn’t felt right to put out something when I didn’t feel I had something important to say. Thank you for that. I’m totally going to get back on.

The tangential dynamic, lovely nature of what Whitney exposed me to with your newsletters, I loved the dynamism and how tangential. I say that as a compliment of we’re going from this seven-track EP about loss, heartbreak, anger, and raw human emotions is great instrumental stuff. In another newsletter, you’re referencing the wisdom of Mike Tyson. 

The one that Jason was intrigued by was your music video. It was like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Terminator music.

Terminate My Love. 

MGU 51 | Cultivating Mindfulness

 

That was fun. That was Doug Bresler.

That’s life. I love getting a glimpse into your brain that way because of your desire to consume many aspects of life and interpret them as an artist, sharing resources, music, acting and these great quotes. It’s an appreciation of like, “I’m getting a little glimpse into this man’s brain.” I like what I see.

Thank you. That’s a wonderful thing to hear. I’ll have to get back on. I’ve almost sent about five newsletters since the last one, but I stopped. I was like, “It doesn’t resonate with me.” I’ll push through that now. Thank you.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, I always come back to that book whenever I feel resistance, which is a great resource. Any time we start to do something, then we hesitate, doubt it and decide not to do it. I’m guilty of this. I do this almost every single day. I get in my head with the doubt of, should I put something out there? Is it worthwhile? Is it worth saying? A lot of the times the answer is, “Yes, it is worth it,” because it doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be right all the time. It doesn’t need to resonate with everybody. Some people won’t like it. That’s the way it is. I hope that we have inspired you, Trevor. Some people don’t matter what they do exactly.

It’s hearing from them makes you feel good and you’re one of those people for me. That’s why I wanted to bring you on the show. You have an energy that I experienced something that touches my heart. I’ll learn things from you, the links that you put out. Your Tim Ferriss style with his five things. You have a little link to a documentary you watched, the book that you’ve read or your music is good. When I saw that newsletter, I’m like, “I’ve got to start listening to your music again because I loved it.” I hope that you do publish it. This can be our closeout for the episode. What is your one piece of wisdom and what is it now? It doesn’t have to be something you’ve said before. Hopefully, it isn’t. What is on your heart in terms of something you want to leave people with?

What keeps coming up for me are two things. One was I’m stealing from Chris Guillebeau. He wrote in a newsletter years ago, but it comes up for me almost every day when I do my morning pages. “Free to give, free to receive,” and that’s speaking to the whole scarcity being this human-created concept thing. I have to constantly remind myself that like, “It’s okay to go out to a restaurant and spend $18 on a vegan hamburger.” I was thinking of the Impossible burger, which I had at Mendocino Farms. It’s the first plant-based burger I’ve had that I was like, “Wow.”

The idea is free to give, free to receive. Sometimes I don’t successfully walk that line between intentionally frugal and putting my money where I want to go and being cheap. I’ve been there but I’ll go to these places and I’m like, “$14, I could eat for three days on that if I were smart with my money. I’m using in one meal.” I get in my head about it. Not because I’m hurting for money or anything, it’s the way I’m wired. I like a good deal. I’m constantly trying to keep myself in line. One thing I’ve been practicing, it’s been when you put this money out into the world, you are paying people salaries, you’re putting gas in the tanks of people’s work, you’re feeding people. If that money is going and doing good things, this is the deal we have. You can’t take things and hoard them and hold onto them and never give them back.

Free to give, free to receive has been something I’ve been practicing. Opening up and letting money flow, letting the money in abundance, love, energy, relationships, and all of that flow and stop trying to isolate things and containerize them. That’s number one. Number two, they said a podcast guest said this to us a long time ago in the early days of the podcast. Darran Petty is his name. He’s a stage actor. He’s done some TV. We asked him this question and he said, “Wear life like a loose garment.” I liked that. That’s subconsciously where I got that ill-fitting shirt thing from when I talked about the podcast. It’s a fun, nice way of saying, “Don’t be such a fill in the blank.” I gravitate towards systems and rules and I’m the kind of person that when I have a little revelation about something, I’m like, “Figured it out, done, moving on, next.” That’s my solution for the rest of my life for that area. I’m an early riser now, 5:00 AM every day, fix my life.

I have these flashbacks to working at Apple sometimes. I remember being in the break room at one point in the back area where we store all the stock and we were answering the phones. That’s where we would hang out.

At the beginning back in 2005 or 2006 before you left, Trevor, we would all hang out in the back and it was acceptable to do that until things got strict. I remember one time you came in with a salad. 

I’m embarrassed about who I used to be. That’s a good thing.

It’s one of those little things that you store in your brain. It’s memorable and I remember you being like, “It’s a simple salad, but I’m eating for fuel.” I thought that’s cool. At that period of my life, I was eating a lot more processed food. I remember on my lunch breaks, I would go and get a burrito. Not of that is that process, but I go to Subway or something. It was always vegan, but I was eating a lot of processed convenience foods. I remember at that point being like, “I should change my perspective on food. It doesn’t always have to taste great or be cheap.” Having a salad was cheap, but I remember you had this matter of fact way about food at that point. I’m sure it’s changed an ebb and flowed since then. I was thinking about food as fuel versus food as something pleasurable. Your point was it doesn’t have to taste good. It has to make me feel good.

I’m a little bit more lenient these days. Here’s a good way to summarize that point. I used to be into intermittent fasting and these are the rules and I eat this at this time of day. That, to me, was wearing a suit. You’re in this nice, perfectly tailored suit and you move a certain way and you feel great but at a certain point, you want to sit on the couch and spread out a little bit. That loose-fitting garment thing I like because I think to myself like, “If I were to apply this to food, I have a fruit smoothie most days a week. I have a salad most days a week.” Make sure you’re eating whole foods, but if you want to get a burrito or processed cheese thing or have a bunch of chips, it’s okay but as long as you’re sticking to have a salad most days a week, you’re eating for fuel but you can still enjoy it. That’s the loose garment thing. That’s what it looks in action in that arena. It’s funny you bring that up because that’s been on my mind. It’s a long story but we can go into another time.

When you say loose garment, it makes you want to go out and buy a muumuu. I wear tight clothing. The one thing that I do want to wear that I haven’t worn in public yet is I bought a robe but it’s a robe that is gold and navy. 

What do you mean wear it in public? 

Do you remember Earth, Wind & Fire? Do you remember in their heyday in the ’70s and ’80s, they were dressed up like these flowy Egyptian robes? It’s a little bit of Funkadelic George. It was George Clinton Earth, Wind & Fire had these garish costumes. It’s a garish robe and it is loose-fitting and it feels like, I want to do this Earth, Wind & Fire Prince tribute and wear leopard print underwear with this robe, and walk around the streets of LA. You’ve inspired me to do that. 

If Jared can get away with it, you can get away with it.

Important Links:

About Trevor Algatt

MGU 51 | Cultivating MindfulnessVoice actor and maker of music. Coach with VOHeroes.com. USMS competitive swimmer with Southern California Aquatics. Coach with VOHeroes.com. Killing workouts, not animals. From Philly, like the cream cheese.

 

 

 

 

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join the This Might Get Uncomfortable community today: