Changing the Face of Yoga Podcast

Hosted by Stephanie Cunningham, a yoga teacher herself who is committed to sharing yoga with anyone, especially the over 50's. Stephanie created this podcast to share how yoga can be practiced by anyone with amazing benefits. Yoga teachers themselves will share their stories; discussing why they teach, who they teach, how students benefit. Every fortnight or so, we will release a new episode. We will talk with teachers about teaching children, curvy bodies, the elderly but also those that each yoga to support students with diabetes, cancer and mental health issues.
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Changing the Face of Yoga Podcast




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Now displaying: September, 2019
Sep 24, 2019

Major Points:

  • IRest Yoga Nidra, supported by research studies, helps those with stress, anxiety, depression and is used to help returning veterans in the US with pain and PTSD.
  • IRest Yoga Nidra is a structured relaxation practice based on the Pancha Maya Kosha model for students to find their wholeness through this practice.
  • In the practice, students develop their own sankalpas based on a three part system.

00:47                                     This is episode 118 of Changing the Face of Yoga. And my guest today is Gina McCauley and Gina has graciously agreed to be part of my meditation theme and she has taken training and is an IRest meditation teacher. We're going to discuss Irest but let's hear a little bit about Gina. She began as a student in the late eighties, and she's been teaching since 2009. She feels there's no one practice, no one style for everyone. She offers different things for different people so that they can take what they need. She has an advanced diploma in Yoga teaching through the Academy of Yoga Learning, a graduate certificate in Yoga therapy through The Australian Institute of Yoga Therapy and is a certified Irest Yoga Nidra teacher. She's on the faculty of the Academy of Yoga Learning and Australia Institute of Yoga therapy. She runs her own teacher training and she is undertaken studies with Indian teachers, A.G. And Indra Mohan and Saraswathi Vasudevan. I hope I said that right. She's a senior registered teacher with Yoga Australia and has served on the Yoga Australia Victorian Committee. She is continually studying and practicing yoga and is currently inspired by Lee Blashki, Paul Wood and Richard Miller. Welcome. Gina. I'm so glad that you agreed to come on and talk about this and is there anything you would like to add to that?

02:32                                     Oh, well thanks Stephanie. Thanks for inviting me. When you string it all together like that, it sounds bigger than how it actually is. No I have nothing to add to that.

02:44                                     All right. It is still an impressive list.

02:50                                     Well, it makes me feel a little bit more important than what I actually am. Everybody doing their own thing to the best of their abilities. As I go through that, I do bits of training here and there that support where I'm at. So when you string it together it does sound impressive.

03:13                                     Good. I'm glad. We're going to talk about IRest and I think it will be good. I'm sure almost everyone has probably heard of it, but it probably be good to have just a little background about it and maybe what makes it a bit different from other types of meditation.

03:32                                     Yeah. Irest is Yoga Nidra, basically. It was developed by Dr. Richard Miller and Richard tells how he rocked up to a yoga class to meet people and Yoga Nidra was part of that class. He was trying to fit into a community. And it turns out that, this little class was silent. So he didn't actually get to meet any other people, but he got to meet himself with his little story that he tells through Yoga Nidra. And he knew that Yoga Nidra was the method.

                                                He just really had a deep connection to it in that first instance. And so over the years, he started practicing it and eventually started teaching it. And really that was really his thing and through, students and through other people, he was teaching Yoga Nidra to ex-serviceman. And they were going back to their peers and saying how much they were getting benefit from this practice of Yoga Nidra. And eventually the military approached him and said we have been hearing about this thing you're doing and the results you're getting. And we'd really love to, see how it works and do some studies and see if it would support other veterans. And so he started this research program in the military, but they said to him, you can't call it Yoga Nidra, you can't call it yoga because we're the military.

05:08                                     Right.

05:12                                     He spent some time with what can I call this thing, what is it? And when he came up with was essentially what they doing is, well, what he was doing was integrative restoration. So really, and that's what Yoga Nidra is - it's restoring and reintegrating ourselves to our fullness, our wholeness. He just started to call it IRest and the military loved it. They loved it, they thought it was great. They did this study and that was quite successful. And they said, oh, love this. We want to make this part of an option for returned servicemen when they come back to help support them with pain and PTSD etc. And they said, you can call it anything you like. We love it so much you can call it whenever you like that. Then Richard said, Irest Yoga Nidra is what we call it, or IRest Yoga Nidra meditation, but essentially Yoga Nidra is meditation and I love it too.

                                                It's I what I love about it is it is a beautifully gentle form of meditation. So it's not forcing the body into some position that isn't quite right. And you know, not everybody as you would know, with the people that you've been speaking to. Sometimes certain things aren't available for people. Sitting still with your legs crossed on the cushion is not available to a lot of people. So are we saying that you can't do meditation if you can't sit like that. One of the things I love about Yoga Nidra is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, any position, any way you like sitting, standing, lying, walking. And it is so beautiful and restorative. And I think personally meditation should be about that. Restoring, reintegrating, that kind of thing. The kind of practice of coming back to your wholeness. One of the things that Yoga Nidra does that helps in that journey is as people might know, it is within this framework of the Pancha Maya Koshas, the five layers or shields that veil our true nature essentially.

                                                So Yoga Nidra takes us through these five layers, which are the physical body, the energy body or the breath layer, the mind that processes that kind of information from our senses, where feelings and emotions kind of sit. The deeper wisdom mind that is that place where we have the wisdom and the Aha moments. It's also the part of the mind where we hold our habitual patterning and the joy or bliss layer that covers all of those five layers that cover out true nature. The process of Yoga Nidra, any Yoga Nidra takes us through these five layers to help us reconnect back into our wholeness.

                                                To be able to have this study though, Richard had to be very clear about a protocol. These sort of studies must have a protocol to prove your point, I guess. And so he developed some very clear processes, a 10 step process that includes the journey through the koshas to come to your wholeness. It's through this model that the IRest protocol has been developed. It's very specifically taught and trained. so shall I keep going on about that?

09:12                                     That's great. I didn't realize all this. It's the first time I've noticed IRest has Yoga Nidra after it? All right, go ahead. No, I would continue. I think it's very interesting.

09:32                                     That's a great point about not realizing that Yoga Nidra is IRest. One of the things with Yoga Nidra is it has those elements of it. And if you think about a traditional Yoga Nidra we, we do our sankalpa which is clarifying our intentions, our sankalpa, our mission or dharma if you like. It has, generally an instruction from the teacher that asks us to maybe set an intention to remain aware and awake. It's talks us through a body scan. Usually every yoga nidra has this lovely body scan associated with it. And then some kind of breathing practice like a breath counting practice and then feelings, it goes through feelings generally or something like heavy, light, hot or cold.

                                                And then in a traditional yoga nidra, you might go into something like a visualization, which is when we're working on those secret layers of the mind. But one of the things with visualization, it can be problematic with certain types of trauma A little bit of visualization; they might be walking through a forest or in a garden or in the ocean or about water. All these different kinds of associations can actually be a little bit triggering for some people. The IRest protocol has a very specific process through that area where we don't, so much do the visualisations. There are definitely some that we can but generally we're looking at the functioning of the mind in terms of emotions and thoughts and long held beliefs and we work with opposites as you do when doing Yoga Nidra. And then we come out through the process, same as you would in a normal Yoga Nidra through the intention and I guess your sankalpa and re-integration.

                                                But to make it have a specific way to train and, and to have it have a specific protocol, we kind of take out that potential trauma issue that could be triggering to some people and we add this more specific work with our emotions and with our thoughts. So really looking at our deep held thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and about the world. Seeing if there can be an alternative or an opposite to that that can help us to break free of some of that patterned conditioning. It's often part of issues when dealing with our emotions and things. Our conditioning can really get in the way of that. So it's a lovely way to help break free of that. And as I said, it's very gentle when we go through the whole relaxation process, the body scan, we're interested in people sensing what's going on in the body, re-integrating a felt sense of themselves that somatic sense of themselves, which we often come away from. We kind of tend to not listen to our messages from our body.

13:16                                     True. Especially if trauma is involved. Obviously since the military liked it, there must have been a positive result from the protocol that he put together. Can you talk a little bit about what that was like?

13:33                                     They loved it. I'm just gonna tell you a little bit here. This is from the IRS website. I'm actually just going to read straight from it. "Based on the current studies, these IRest in the military, the defense center of excellence has approved IRest as a complementary and alternative medicine warranting continuing usage for its use in the treatment of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). In addition the US Army surgeon general has listed Yoga Nidra (based on the research with IRest) as a tier one approach for addressing pain management in military care. IRest has been shown to be effective in scientific trials for conditions including chronic pain, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress." So there's a lot.

                                                And then from the IRest website there's links to a whole heap of studies being done on that. Things like IRest meditation for older adults with Depression, Effectiveness of integrative restoration or IRest Yoga Nidra for mindfulness, sleep, pain in health care workers, Effects of Integrative Restoration IRest on perceived stress in in workers, Comparative effectiveness of three occupational therapy sleep interventions: A randomized controlled study. There are all kinds of different research, but the people who are really quite interested in that kind of thing and really getting to the in to the depths of it. There is lots of research now on IRest specifically because of the protocol would help people to so you could a handle on them. It’s a huge benefit.

15:08                                     Great. Okay. Yeah, go ahead.

15:12                                     The training, is quite extensive to be an IRest teacher. So you had to have had the practices obviously meditation to start with. We have level one and level two training and a certification process. The level one and level two, are very extensive, intensive week long training, a huge manual. I remember when I said I was heading off to do level one IRest training. My students are like a week of IRest. And I kind of felt the same myself for a while. Then I got there I was like, oh my gosh, this is a really full on. It's very extensive and it was great. But it was it was a full on training program. Which I wasn't quite expecting so I didn't get to spend a whole week of IRest.

16:09                                     No, doesn't sound quite relaxing. Did you go to the States for it or was it here in Australia?

16:19                                     No, I was so lucky that I got to do my level two and level one IRest training with Richard as he, I think he's only offered the training himself once and I was just fortunate enough to be able to be on both of those courses. but he doesn't do the training in Australia anymore. We have quite a few people in Australia now who can do the training. We do have training in Australia, in most of the capital cities. Fuyuko Toyota is a senior IRest trainer in Australia. She's in Brisbane; no, she's on the Gold Coast. To be honest with you. I'm not 100% sure, but I think she's on the Gold Coast. She offers trainings, Leigh Blashki also offers trainings at Irest Level one and two as well. The certification process is done through a supervisor and a mentor. It is a two year program with extensive study and in-depth training and study. My mentor was Fuyuko here in Australia, but, when you sign up for certification, you could get a mentor from anywhere around the world.

17:41                                     I used to teach seniors and I would always do a yoga nidra at the end. And I found what you said about the visualizations. I stopped saying what you had to do. I picked an emotion and say find some place where you feel happiness or where you feel calmness or where you feel joy or something. And then they would pick the environment. Some people say, oh no, I don't want to go to the beach, or I hate that, or I don't want to be on a mountain top, or you know, I don't want to do any of that. I thought yes, we better back off on that one.

18:13                                     No, exactly. You're exactly right. And one of the parts, the early parts of the protocol is this thing called your inner resource. And for me personally that has been the most powerful part of this practice. And basically it's exactly what you've just said. Its giving people, our participants, our students the opportunity to develop their skills, their own kind of special place, their own favourite place that they like to go to, to feel safe and secure. We encourage them to use their own memory, their own kind of imagination. So yeah, if they don't like mountain tops and prefer babbling brooks, then they can go for that.

                                                We encourage them through a process of  kind of questioning and interviewing to come up with something that really, really touches them internally. And the essence of that resource is not so much the memory. So we might think of something that made us feel really beautifully safe, peaceful and have a sense of well-being. But what we're actually interested in is when we bring that memory to our mind, how does that make us feel? And that is essentially what an inner resource is. So to my mind with that, you can be feeding into your inner resource just about anything that you come across that gives you that little sense of aw, that's beautiful. All that makes me feel so nice or isn’t that lovely or I feel really safe in this place or I feel really peaceful here so we can see an inner resource.

                                                Sometimes for me, the simplest thing to really help me trigger that inner resource and really bring it forward is quiet, simple things and not the great big grand things that I might've achieved. It's when I take that first sip of tea in the morning and you get Ahh, or coffee or whatever that might be. You get that sense of Ah, thank God, I've got my cuppa here. Or you get home and the dog's so excited to see you. It turns itself inside out because they are so excited or you know, that cuddle you might get from a newborn or your partner or a child. It's like, ah, this is so lovely feeling of, okay, I'm home or I'm here or this is just right, nothing else.

                                                Then we kind of realized that that really is our oh, deepest kind of truth and that is where we invite people to kind of wrangle those things in and feed them into your inner resource. And the reason we do this is so that in the practice, oh, in any time in your life when you're feeling a little bit uncomfortable, or more than a little bit uncomfortable, you've got this little tool within you that's always within you, that's always available that you can just tap into and know that there is a part of you that is unchanged, that is safe, that has this sense of well-being and peace and calm. Even though you're out in circumstances, like in the middle of a hurricane. We can have these kind of sense of deep peace within us, but it's well like everything and anything it takes practice to cultivate it. So as we cultivate that in the practice of IRest, we then have access to it more readily out in the world when we really need it.

21:51                                     Great point that, first of all, it takes practice and I agree with that. Secondly, that, if you do practice and have that available to you, that's very helpful when you really run into a lot of stress. Or whatever anxiety or just a bad day, you know, some days aren't great.  So did you teach Yoga Nidra before you got into IRest?

22:23                                     I did, yeah. And I taught that traditional, when I say traditional, probably what I taught was the Satchidanda Yoga Nidra, which I think is what most, most people are familiar with in Yoga Nidra, certainly where I coming from and all of my teachers and training is  Satchidanda Yoga Nidra, which is beautiful. And so yes, I taught that and I was always uncomfortable as a student in some of the visualizations and some of the associations as a teacher when I was teaching it.

                                                Knowing that there might've been people in the room, I remember once I had this lady who I knew had had an experience of almost drowning. I felt when we were doing the Yoga Nidra, I got to the visualization part and I didn't really realize until we were right in the middle of it, that there was this element of being in the water and then going under the water and you know, being completely safe and ok in the water. But it just really struck me that that would not be comfortable for me if I was in her position to have this kind of water visualization. And it just dawned on me in that moment that yeah, this isn't a one size fits all thing. What right do I have to be kind of imposing these things on people that may or may not be useful for them. And I think there's a fine line between it being a challenge and being useful to being a challenge and not being useful. So I don't think we can really judge that. So I came across IRest and that I discovered that through Leigh Blashki. I was just, Oh, this is so great because actually it gives people in the practice the option to choose their own so they can choose their own kind of emotion or they can choose their own feelings. But you might give them the option of choosing heavy and light or hot and cold or comfort, discomfort and that was really powerful for me. And I really have not taught that visualization in Yoga Nidra since I've learned IRest. And the people I teach it to when I started teaching it, lots of comments about how they enjoyed that. They didn't have kind of feel into that visualization that wasn't suited to them. But that they could kind of set their own framework for it really. That's powerful to people.

25:09                                     It is. Would you say that's the major difference between what we considered to be a traditional yoga Nidra and I'll leave traditional up to each individual and IRest or do you think there's other significant differences?

25:24                                     I think that is the main difference. There are other significant differences. So in that initial stage, Richard's broken the sankalpa if you like down into three parts. So whereas in the other kind of Yoga Nidra, we, the teacher might dictate what the intention is. So you might say and repeat to yourself, I'm practicing Yoga Nidra and I will remain aware and awake. That's kind of a common one that I would hear a lot and I would use a lot myself and then I would invite them to their own sankalpa.

                                                But Richard has broken that down into three. So he gives the student the option to set their own intention. So their intention might be, it might be to remain aware and awake, absolutely. But it might be: one of the things I often say is if you're here and you are exhausted and this is the only hour you have to yourself for the whole week and you need to rest, set your intention to rest deeply, there's nothing wrong with that. Having that big rest. It that might be to rest deeply, it might be to rest deeply while remaining aware and awake. It might be to explore a particular part of the practice. Maybe using the safe boundaries of the practice to experience a particular emotion that keeps arising might be a great intention. They might move into their own very specific sankalpa or we would probably call that, in the practice, it might be called your heartfelt longing or your heartfelt desire. But it's really that big picture intention of how you see yourself out in the world. What is the world asking of you? Is that kind of much bigger intention? Yeah, that's your sankalpa or your Dharma, your life purpose.

                                                It fits into that second part of that heartfelt mission, the heartfelt desire. And the third part is the inner resource. So we start there. We have that kind of initial relaxation phase that then we go through this sankalpa , the intention, the heartfelt desire and the inner resource, with a firm foundation of safety within the boundaries of the practice. Which really give people that sense of security. And I've really found that in myself that when I've got that foundation, that clear intention and clear inner resource the rest of the practice is quiet. I'll say easy. That's not really the right word. You feel quite safe working through the rest of the practice. The other thing is that the practice is pretty much always the same steps. So as a student you can feel safe knowing that after the inner resource we're going to do body sensing, and then we're doing breath sensing, and then we are doing feelings and emotions. Then we're doing beliefs. Then we're doing joy and the whole time through the practice, what's woven in is understanding or beginning to recognize that there is a part of you, the witnessing part of you, that can recognize all of the things that we're experiencing, the sensations, the breathing, the emotion, the joy that they're all changing, coming and going.

                                                And we begin to tap into our deeper awareness, which if you think of the Pancha Maya Kosha model is what those five veils, five shades are covering our true nature, that optimal awareness. Whatever you want to call that, whatever your tradition might call that central entity that the five koshas are covering. So that's the journey as we take that through this journey to this deep sense of awareness. We come out in a very clear way as well. We kind of do a little integration practice and back through the intention, the heartfelt desire, the inner resource to help them. To really anchor it and give clear bookends; the real clarity of the practice is in those 10 steps. Whereas, I had never really been trained in another form of yoga nidra that was so clear. Like there was lots of freedom I felt in the other forms of yoga nidra. And when I look back at that now, probably not much safety for students, not in the way I was teaching it at any rate because it was always different, that could change and I didn't really feel like I had that container. Whereas in IRest, I really feel that there's a clear container for holding me as I go through this process. And it's a real trust you know that as well.

30:26                                     Yeah. Because they could feel very vulnerable. I mean I always had my students close their eyes and, and just kind of relax and listen. Some, some laid down, some sat; it was up to them. I hadn't thought about it in quite that way before, but I think you have a good point. We're almost at the end of the podcast, Gina. Is there anything that you would like to go into with more depth or something we haven't talked about it all that you would like the listeners to know?

30:59                                     I think the only thing that I would add is: if this is interesting to anybody, teachers or students alike have a look on the IRS website. Because anybody who's done the IRest training is on the IRest website. So you can find a teacher in your local area. And if you are a yoga teacher, or even a psychologist, lots of psychologists do these IRest trainings as well, I recommend seeking another teacher who is teaching the student course. It's a six week course that students can do just to begin to learn about IRest for themselves. And then if that interests them, then source some level one training. If they want to come get on that path, that's the pathway. Anybody who's interested, I strongly recommend you have a fully trained IRest teacher. It can be level one, two or three. But yeah, just make sure you have an IRest trained teacher to take you through the process. It's beautiful. You'd be, you wouldn't regret it.

32:05                                     Okay. Do you teach it as part of a class or is it a separate meeting shall we say? I mean you come to teach just IRest.

32:17                                     Both. I do both. I have one class a week where it's a gentle IRest yoga nidra class.. And we would do gentle yoga and we do IRest yoga nidra and we do that every week. I also run the six week course periodically at my studio. So they are 90 minute sessions where we go into more detail about the stages of IRest and then we do an IRest practice focusing on each of the stages over those six weeks. The other thing that I do which I think really works well and I really love is I also teach a lot of yoga retreats. I love Yoga retreats. And on my yoga retreat retreats. I teach the six week course in the week retreat. So each day we're focusing on a different part of the IRest protocol and we're doing a different IRest practice each day on retreat. And I get lots of great feedback about that as well. That immersive kind of way of learning. I've been back two weeks from Fiji and I had quite a few people on that retreat. I think there was probably eight or nine people who had never done IRest or Yoga Nidra even before. Had such great feedback from them on this process of getting to know themselves. I guess essentially is what yoga nidra is about, coming back to your wholeness. That's great. That's great.

33:44                                     Gina this has been really fascinating. I have not really had much experience with IRest Yoga Nidra, but I love Yoga Nidra in general. So I think I'll do a little more research on that, see if I can find myself at one of your retreats. I like that idea of just doing it for a week I really do. Thank you so much for coming on and talking to us, the listeners. You did a really great job and I think you've explained it very well. I think I have a good grasp of what the differences might be.

34:17                                     Great. Thanks so much, Stephanie. It's been great. Thanks for inviting me and I love talking about IRest and waffle on.

34:27                                     Hey, good. All right. Thank you.


Sep 17, 2019

Main Points:

  • Meditation is for everyone; but it may need to be modified for Western meditators.
  • Making meditation accessible can be done by looking at the physical positions associated with meditating, offering different types of meditation, tailoring meditation to your audience.
  • Meditating can lower stress based on recent research.


00:47                                     This is the hundred and 17th episode of changing the face of yoga. And my guest today is Gin Carter. Gin is part of my meditation theme and she's also has a podcast about meditation. And it's called Meditation Monday's with Gin. And we're going just talk about her take on meditation, how she teaches it.

                                                She is used to be a conservation scientist. And she's changed to teaching yoga because she realized that all the science in the world won't save the planet unless people are willing to make the choices to implement that science. And she feels that by teaching yoga, she decreases people's stress, which allows them to make better choices for themselves and for the world. She teaches very alignment based asana, but also lots of practical yoga philosophy and meditation. And she has an incredible diversity of clients: young athletes to 911 dispatchers to 90 year olds doing chair yoga, which I think would be interesting to talk about how meditation fits in with each of those different groups.

02:11                                     Welcome. Gin. Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?

02:17                                     No, that was a great introduction. I will say I have not updated my podcast in a while, but there's a lot there already. I think about updating it sometime, but I've got a lot going on these days and I haven't done it, so I'm glad that you guys listened to it though.

02:34                                     I thought it was very interesting, one of the things I would like to talk about is you really do have a very diverse group of students. Young people, very stressed people, 911 dispatchers I would assume would be very stressed and 90 year olds. Do you have any way that you approach this? So that might be different for each group or do you think that meditation...

03:02                                     Oh, definitely. So I teach almost exclusively privately. So even when I'm with a group, it's a private group. They're not usually public classes. So I've been brought in specifically to work with that group or that individual. And so every time I teach its customized to whatever's going on with that individual or that group. So it's very different from class to class. Certainly the 15 to 25 year old athletes are doing very different things than the 90 year olds in the chair.

03:40                                     Is the meditation also different or is that a bit more universal?

03:45                                     So the meditation varies between groups between days and and between whatever we're focused on that day. Sometimes they're the same meditations, but depending on who is the audience, I often explain them slightly differently to make it a little more relatable to their life and what's ever going on with them at that time, if that makes sense.

04:09                                     No, that does. I listened to your first meditation podcasts and I thought you had very interesting way of going about it because you gave them some tips for meditation success. And I was wondering if you could kind of talk a little bit about that.

04:29                                     Sure. I think a lot of times we think that meditation has to be a certain way and I'm a big proponent that it doesn't, and so setting yourself up so that you're comfortable. Like you don't have to sit cross legged on the floor. Like it's not a requirement, I promise.. I think the most important thing as far as your position is that you're able to keep your spine long and you're able to breathe. So , if that means sitting in a chair with your feet planted on the ground, I usually, if people are sitting in chair encouraging not to rest against the back of the chair, but told yourself up and sit on the front. If you're sitting on the ground and it doesn't feel that great, you can elevate your hips so that your hips are in line with or higher than your knees. And that usually will take some of this stress out of your hips and your back and help you to sit up tall.

                                                 Sometimes I have clients that both of those things just don't feel good and they're not accessible. And I love having people meditate in Savasana, laying down, because if it's straining you be in the position, you're definitely not going to get where you want to go in meditation. And so it's beautiful to sit in Lotus. I don't ever teach Lotus. I just don't. It's beautiful, but like you can get so many benefits of meditation without trying to get into some crazy pretzel pose. When you're in that pose and you're hurting, you're not going to be focused on the meditation. You're going to be focused on the pain in your body. I think there's some schools of meditation where that's kind of a part of it. Like you're meant to work through it and whatever.

                                                But I think for regular people, they can use meditation so much and making it easy for people to do is really important. I also think there's a lot of ideas about what it's supposed to be like if you can just sit in your mind quiet and it's going to be magic and that doesn't happen. And so meditation can work so many different ways , I think that's one of the things that people can realize is set themselves up for success. So there are so many different ways to go about it and you try something, it doesn't work for you. There's always different things to try.

07:17                                     so if I were really uncomfortable, If I were really uncomfortable sitting in Lotus, which I don't do lotus anymore, what would you suggest? Because I agree with you, if you're in pain, that's what you're thinking about. You're not thinking about the meditation or whatever it is that you want to think about.

07:36                                     I would tell you don't do Lotus.

07:39                                     Just stop that.

07:41                                     Yeah. I'm a firm believer, actually I, we could go on a lotus rant like I feel like in the Western world, we don't sit on the floor and we don't sit cross legged that much in our life up until the point where we think, oh, it might be good to do this meditation thing. Maybe I should try to sit like that or we started yoga and we tried to sit like that and so for a lot of us, our bodies aren't made to go that way. It's hard on our knees and our ankles to be in Lotus. It's also hard on our back to keep your spine long and its hard on our hips. For Western bodies. I'm not a fan. For bodies that started out sitting on the floor, that makes a lot of sense. But for most of us it just doesn't. And so I would advise you to come out of it.

                                                There's a few different ways you can sit on the floor, you can sit obviously in easy pose just cross-legged. You can kind of sit with one leg sort of folded in front of the other, which is I think what I do most of the time. But there's a few different variations. You have to see where that person's at as far as their seat goes, but there's a lot of different options other than trying to pretzel yourself into Lotus.

08:55                                     Okay. no, I think that's smart. I think you're right. We haven't really grown up sitting on the floor or squatting either one. That one I can't do very well either. You said there was lots of different kinds of meditations and there are. How do you match the meditation with the person or the group that you're going to be trying to teach this too?

09:28                                     I think it just depends on that group's needs. There's a bit of reading the room and reading the person or the people. I also sometimes I like to just cycle through different meditations to let my students experience them. And then I have some students that will really hone in and say when we did, heart-centered meditation or that breath-centered meditation, it really worked for me. And then we know that we'll do more of those kind of things for that person.

                                                But with my students, I do like to try a variety and kind of show them how there are all these different things that you can do so that they're aware. Then once they feel like they want to really start getting into it themselves and then you can kind of hone in on something. I think it benefits a lot of people to do different ones at different times. I change my meditation practice constantly. Sometimes I'll get going with one and focus on it for a few weeks or a few months. But I like to change it up because I think there are all these different techniques and each technique can kind of be a window into where you're trying to go. As human beings we can get complacent and we can get bored in a way. And so having a bunch of techniques in your tool belt to change that when you need to, I think it can be a really great thing.

11:02                                     Great, great idea. I think that's another rule, shall we say, of meditation that you do the same thing every day.

11:12                                     Right.

11:13                                     I hadn't thought about that and it's probably not true either. So what are the kinds of techniques that you try to cycle your your students through?

11:26                                     There's so many different ones now.

11:28                                     Okay. Pick your favorites.

11:29                                     There's kind of groupings. So there's breath focus meditations and those, I feel pair well with other meditations. So a lot of times we'll start with focusing on our breath in a certain way and then maybe we just stay with that. But maybe we also move to a mindfulness meditation where you can even pair that with breath in a way where you're being mindful of your breath or mindful of something.

                                                I love guided meditation as in visualizations. So really getting deep into a scene or something you're trying to imagine. I teach sometimes meditations that are very body focused, so giving different focus to different parts in the body depending on what meditation it is and that's kind of a mindfulness meditation tool. And they all kind of overlap in different ways.

                                                But there's so many different ones. I love it. I love learning different ones. One of my favorite texts is called The Vyana Buyerva and I think it has 112 or so. They're not all different meditations, Most of them are meditations, some of them are also just what we call pointing out instructions. with the idea that the state you're trying to get to in meditation is a state that you've been in many times in your life. We call that being in the flow. And so my favorite example of that is like a concert musician who doesn't even have to read his music and he's just playing right? And you can tell nothing else in the world is going on. He's just there completely present.

                                                There's some instructions that are about moments like that you can find in your life. So there's even sometimes instructions for students to think about those things. There's also open eyed meditations that are kind of mindfulness meditations, taking a walk and focusing only on the wall. And when your mind starts to wander, bringing it back to your feet, hitting the ground, the tree that you're seeing, the plant that you're seeing whatever it is as you're walking. So, yeah, there's so many different things we can do.

13:51                                     Okay. Interesting. What was the name of that book that has the mostly meditation's in it. So I can spell it right.

14:02                                     It's called the Vijnana Bhairava., so let's spell it. Let's see. I have to write it down to spell it right. Okay. So it'd be V I, J A. N. A. Yana.B H A I R. A. V. A. Yeah, it's an interesting older text. It's lots of little verses on meditation and pointing out instructions. And my meditation teacher, her name is Sallie Kempton, she has a downloadable, or you can buy a CD called Doorways to the Infinite, and she actually walks you through that whole entire text. It's really lovely.

14:54                                     Doorways to the Infinite, I'm writing this down. Okay. So if somebody was out there and they said, well, I don't know how to meditate and I'm not sure I want to do that, what would you tell them that might be a benefit for them.

15:15                                     I would encourage them and tell them that it really doesn't have to fit what do you think in your mind It is, like what it is that you're resisting. Because I imagine usually they're thinking I'm just supposed to sit still and my mind is supposed to be quiet. I can't do that and I don't want to do that. I would tell them that it can become this beautiful thing that you look forward to. And in fact it can be a very actively-minded thing.

                                                 I believe rather than getting your mind to be quiet, you really trying to get your mind to focus. So to focus on one particular thing so that it becomes nice and easy and isn't fluctuating about. And so I think sometimes by explaining that to people so that they understand that it's not just trying to sit and be quiet but rather really to help them tame their monkey mind. Because I think we all have that wild mind that wants to flux about.

                                                There's a lot of science now behind the benefits of meditation. So I often bring that up. There was a recent study, actually from Harvard now I want to say like in March that actually showed that the genes involved in stress are downregulated and the genes involved in the relaxation response, which is the opposite of stress, are upregulated which I think is incredible to show.

                                                Well, when we meditate, there have also been other studies that actually show that our brain gets rewired. There's science behind it. It's not just this hand-waving, yoga teacher thing to do. Like it really makes a big difference. When I go and speak with the 911 dispatchers and first responders and folks like that, we really try to emphasize, the science behind why we're there to teach them what we teach them. And we really give them very practical ways of meditation.

                                                 I also encourage people and tell them, no, it doesn't have to be that long. You don't have to sit for four hours even; five minutes or seven minutes or three minutes or 12 minutes has tremendous benefits. I think that takes away the intimidation factor. Oh, I just have to do this for a couple of minutes so it doesn't have to be this whole day long thing.

17:45                                     Well I noticed that you said you were on a mission to make meditation accessible and I you're starting to talk a bit about that, but is there anything else that you would add that you're doing to make it accessible?

18:02                                     I mentioned it a little bit, but I feel like making it practical and making it not so hand wavy and soft and out there. I think is really important to let people see oh, this is a thing that I can use. Like right now in my life in five minutes, even when I'm at work or my kid is being crazier, my partner is stressing me out: just a couple minutes next with my breath. It can be such a useful thing. It doesn't have to be this thing where you think you have to go and sit on a mountain for hours alone? Right. It's something you can really use. And so I think expressing that, to be willing to making it practical is very important.

18:53                                     I recently had a guest on and she was my first student. I was so excited. She said that when she went to her very first yoga class, she was in a very high stress position at work and she had a lot of medical issues because of it. And it was just too much, too quiet. And you say you work a lot with people that have stress, so how do you get them from that really high stress position to meditation?

19:25                                     I believe that meditating with a teacher, at least at first, is super important. So having that guide so that it's not just you sitting and being quiet and I don't know what was going on in her first yoga class. But what I specifically know, maybe the teacher was guiding and it was still a struggle for her, but maybe the teacher had given them quiet. The quiet is important, but I like to get people there slowly.

                                                You listened to my podcast. I talked for quite a bit at the beginning of the meditation usually. I think that's one of the really important things is to start with a teacher. And I mean, I'm a big advocate, keep going with the teacher. I've been with my meditation teacher for almost 10 years and there's something powerful in having a teacher that can guide you especially when you're in those places where you are just beginning or you're in really high stress. Because there is a bit of a transference- an energy transfer?

                                                I also do Hawaiian bodywork called Lomi Lomi and we talk about energy work. And I think a lot of times people, like I don't really know what that's about, but I tell people anytime you enter a room, you're doing an energy exchange, right? Whether you realize it or not. And if you've in a room where people are really calm and like a crazy person, not a crazy person, but a person who's really high energy comes in and there's this energy exchange. Something else is happening now. And so the same goes in reverse. So if you can be in the presence of a teacher who's guiding you and grounding themselves and really settling in, that can really help you get going with your practice in that moment and, and going forward.

21:25                                     Okay, I agree with you and making it accessible. But it is maybe for western consumers a very different way to think about it and, just to use your brain that way. I think it can be very difficult sometimes for people to really feel it is good for them. How are you breaking down those stereotypes?

21:56                                     Well that's interesting. So I believe that people are not going to do something until they're ready for it or until they need it. I wouldn't just walk up to people on the street and say you should meditate. There has to be a moment where there's a connection; where there's either a need and the person is obviously reaching out for help or they've already seen oh, this is kind of something I want to try or something I know I need.

                                                I don't tend to talk directly about meditation when I first meet people randomly through whatever reason. But I will see where they're at and see if it fits inappropriately because I teach yoga and I do the body work that I do. Sometimes people come in through those two avenues first. Then I hone in on actually, maybe we should try this meditation thing. With Yoga students, I think there's a magic in pairing up the movement of your body with introducing new ideas. I think we're more receptive when we're doing kinesthetic things. I think there's science behind that, but it's also just something I've seen in my life. It's the way the practice works anyway. I'm moving around doing yoga and then at the end you're like, we're going to close our eyes and breathe and they're like, okay. Because I just did all the other stuff too. Right. Maybe there's a bit of tricking someone.

23:39                                     Guiding, guiding that's the word. Yes. So this has been really interesting. Do you have online classes too? Did I read that on your website?

23:52                                     So I teach a few different ways. I teach in person and then I also teach online. So I teach in person online over Zoom, Skype, Facetime or Facebook messenger too. However you want to access, you can access me. And so I have a few clients that do online yoga and meditation with me.

                                                 I occasionally have an online course going. So right now I have an online course that is sort of an introduction to stress management and meditation with my business partner, Dr. Jessica Norris. She and I do our 911 dispatching, first responders stuff together. Our course online right now is just for anyone and it's kind of an introduction to meditation and stress management. And then I periodically run other online courses too. Sometimes I teach a very goddess focused course about the way energy works in our lives and a few different other things. I'm online a lot. Also in person.

24:56                                     We're coming to the end of the podcast, but what I would like you to do is if there's anything that you felt we didn't cover in enough depths or something that we didn't cover at all that you would like the listeners to know, please go ahead.

25:15                                     I think maybe I'll just share the reason that I teach all of this meditation, Yoga, and my practice of Hawaiian body work. It's all really to help people feel better and it's driven not just from helping individuals feel better, but from trying to help the planet feel better.

                                                 So as you said at the beginning, I was a conservation biologist for the Smithsonian for about 12 years. And I got out of that and started teaching yoga. As you said, I found all the science in the world isn't going to make a difference unless we do implement those changes. And I believe that when we feel better in ourselves, we're better able to make better choices.

                                                 I always use this example: if your neck hurts and you just want to go home and lay down and you're somewhere and you need to throw a can away, but the recycle bin is 50 yards away and the trash can is by you. I think you're not going to walk the 50 yards to go recycle your cans. Things as simple as that if people can heal within themselves, then I feel like we can heal together and heal the planet.

                                                Meditation, I think is a huge part of that because we know that a lot of our healing deals with pain that isn't specifically physical. And so the more I think we can stress less and manage these kinds of things, the better we will fell and the better the whole planet it would feel.

26:45                                     Well thank you. I want to give people your contact details so that they can perhaps, either talk to you in person or online. Gin's website is Yoga with Gin and that's one word and it's g i n dot com. And her email is Gin, which again is g I She has couple of Facebook's: yoga with Gin; we've got a whole bunch of Yoga with Gins: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It's been really great talking to you. I like your attitude towards meditation. I like meditation, but it does seem to scare, I think just the word sometimes scares people.

27:41                                     Yeah, definitely.

27:45                                     So I think your idea of making it accessible for everyone is smart. I want to thank you for coming on the podcast. I think you really contributed some different ideas about it and hopefully will make people feel a little more comfortable trying it out. So thank you again.

28:05                                     Thank you. This was wonderful.




Sep 10, 2019

Main Points:                       1) Modern Western yoga pays less attention to the inward based practices in favour of asana.

                                                2) Mindfulness can lead to meditation or vice versa

                                                3) Mindfulness and meditation are different but complementary.

00:42                                     This is Changing the Face of Yoga and this is episode 116, My guest today is Hannah Perkins and she is part of my meditation theme for the month of September and Hannah has been leading mindfulness groups, courses, retreats since 2013 and teaching Yoga since 2016. She is passionate about helping those on the frontline of our community, particularly health care professionals, school teachers, parents and the populations they served. She is a qualified mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cancer recovery and mindfulness school facilitator and offers in-school programs for teachers as well as primary and adolescent school students. In addition to her weekly trauma aware yoga classes offered through her business. Love This Moment. She also teaches from Mindfulness Works, the Yoga Place, Blacksmith and Twine yoga studio here in Newcastle in Australia. So welcome Hannah. I'm so glad that you came on. Our topic today, that Hannah has agreed to talk on and has a great deal of interest and experience in is mindfulness and meditation.

02:12                                     Are they the same? Are they different? What's going on there? I guess I see them being used kind of interchangeably many times. So we're going to explore that idea. And Hannah, is there anything else you'd like to add to that particularly introduction.

02:30                                     No that was a lovely introduction, Thank you.

02:31                                     Thank you. As you can tell, she's extremely qualified in the mindfulness area., How did you come to that and how did that become something that was important to you?

02:47                                     Well, actually it started in my twenties. I was living in Thailand and I was working for a handful of NGOs over there, including Greenpeace for a  period of time. And I found myself on my weekends when I was usually trying to get some relief from the stress I felt at work. Just ending up at the temples in my local area in Bangkok. And I'd sit there and I also understand and can speak a bit of Thai. So I'd sit there listening to the monks, talking about Buddhism and suffering and the Dharma and all of these things I didn't quite understand at the time. But I just felt into their energy and the energy of the people who were going to temple. And I just found myself doing the things that they were suggesting. So I found myself, circling the temples 27 times and bowing to the Buddha and lighting incense and doing these things to try and relate. What I didn't know back then was what I was experiencing as suffering. But I just thought I was under a lot of work related stress.

                                                But, it was not long after that that a friend of mine was riding a bicycle around the world and he was starting in Newcastle and leaving, to go through the northern territory and then get a boat over to Indonesia and Singapore. And by the time he got to Thailand, he needed a translator. So he invited me to ride the legs of Thailand with him. And I at that time was consulting for these NGOs as a fundraising executive and really just was so burnt out in my life and very, very unhappy, probably borderline depression. And I just decided to go with him. So I bought myself a bicycle and I rocked up in Penang on the train and met him. And I've never done anything like this before. And we rode for 2,500 kilometers from Penang in Malaysia up to the top of Thailand.

                                                And during that time I really got to know the chaos that was going on in my mind. I really got to see how crazy I was. And I don't say that lightly because it was quite an endeavor to get on this bike and ride and spend so much time in my own head. And in order to stay places cheaply, we actually would rock up to the Buddhist temples and ask could we stay in their Sala, which is the temple area. And most of them would allow us to do that for free. And they'd give us food and they'd also give us Dharma talks, which I would then translate to my friend. And I started to just really pick up this language around Buddhism, the relief of suffering and started to think, oh my goodness, this is something that could really help me. And so, yeah, it was during my sort of mid-life, mid-twenties life crisis started to explore, these themes of Buddhism and later led me to all the styles of meditation. But it all started with mindfulness and meditation in that sense.

05:51                                     Obviously since you're now in Newcastle, you've come back to Australia and you're teaching a lot about it. How did we get from Thailand to here?

06:08                                     Well, it's also a long story. Later in my twenties, I was actually living in the UK at the time. I was attending a Buddhist Sangha weekly and practicing meditation every day. I had a very healthy lifestyle. And again, I found myself in the depths of depression and feeling very hopeless and uncertain about my life. I was very unwell, had had chronic fatigue for two years and didn't know what was going on with my body.

                                                And I took off to Plum Village, which is where Thich Nhat Hanh the Zen master used to reside. And I checked myself in for the winter retreat for three months. However, after two days of being there, I fell very ill. I started to bleed from my intestine and I later found out that I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, so a type of cancer and I had to make the decision what was I really going to do in order to wake up in my life. So I decided to come back to Australia and heal here and I also recognized that I needed to do a lot of healing in my family, towards my place of birth and where I grew up and that sort of thing as well. So I've been back ever since. I've had some trips away for retreats.

                                                But yeah, I've really established myself here and it was not long after I recovered after surgery and chemotherapy and I started to heal that. I started a Buddhist Sangha in that tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh here in Newcastle and that was in 2013 and that went on for about two and a half years. I just held a space that was by donation. People can come and I would just teach them what I was learning about meditation through using it to heal my body and my mind. And whilst I was doing that, someone came along to those sessions and she saw what I was doing and she invited to support me, mentor me to become a meditation teacher. And she very kindly sponsored me to go and do my MBSR teacher training.

                                                MBSR is a global globally recognized, scientifically proven course of secular mindfulness training. So it's an eight week program, which is often offered in clinical settings in hospitals and mental health outpatient units and also in schools. And so I trained in that in 2014 and as these things happen, one thing led to another where just opportunities would arise for me to teach this. And I was learning more through doing my own practice and through applying it to my life. And that's where the movement component came in as well because I was suffering from chronic pain post surgery that I had in 2012. And so I've recognized that I actually needed to apply this in lots of different ways in my life, not just sitting on a cushion.

                                                So I've been trained as a yoga teacher and started to merge these two worlds of mindfulness and movement together, which actually they are married, they already were synonymous with each other. It's just that I think modern yoga has taken a lot of the awareness based inward practice away from the actual physical form of the movement. And my teaching is not just asana-specific, it's very much about the hatha yoga principles of asana leading to Pranayama leading to chanting a mantra and leading to meditation and these different stages of meditation. So we have the Pratyahara of withdrawing the senses and Dharana which is more the mindfulness component of concentration, focusing our attention leading to Dhyana, which is where we can connect with an object of our attention and that might be a higher power or it might be an image or light or a being and then eventually to Samadhi. So yeah, my movement practice and movement I'm teaching is not specifically asana focused. It's very much about how can we be in a state of meditation while moving sitting, walking, daily life, that sort of thing.

10:19                                     Why don't you give your definition of what mindfulness is and then we'll do meditation.

10:30                                     Well this isn't actually my definition, it's comes from Kevin Zinn who started the MBSR program. But I like it cause it's very simple and it breaks it down. So his definition is that mindfulness is paying attention, which most of our waking life, we're not paying attention, our attention is distracted on other things. So we're paying attention in the present moment, which is the only moment we can pay attention to whatever's happening now on purpose. So it actually directing our attention to some things, whether that be the breath or a sound. Maybe something in the visual field or it might be sounds in the outside world.

                                                 It might be what we're feeling, what the emotive field is saying to us inside. And it's also paying attention in this nonjudgmental way so that we're not actually saying that this moment is a good moment or it's a bad moment. We're not wanting things to be better; we're not wanting things to go away. We're just being with the moment as it is. And that's what I would use to define mindfulness as paying attention in the present moment without any judgment on purpose.

11:41                                     And meditation?

11:43                                     Well, meditation, I really, believe has so many different definitions because it's come from a wide variety of wisdom traditions that actually put into practice meditation and it means different things for different people. My, I guess, experiential definition of meditation is the state that we can move into or even towards after we've learned too quiet the chaos of the mind. So I would say that meditation both enhances mindfulness, expands mindfulness and mindfulness, the concentration on some thing, can lead us into a state of meditation, which is actually of no thing eventually.

                                                So meditation is more than expansive awareness where we are just holding in communion, some form of reverence towards something. And that might be in your words, it might be God or it might be spirit or it might be universal power, but meditation for me feels more like a communion with something that's bigger and wider and outside, well also inside, but outside the field of the mind, if that makes any sense. It really is an opportunity to still the mind that is always getting in the way of us connecting with that other thing.

13:23                                     I took, Hannah's class. I wasn't a very good student but I took it and had some incredible insights because of it and I wasn't expecting that at all. I was doing it for a whole different reason. And so I think these insights can come from either system, shall we say, either mindfulness or meditation. But, I like the way that you've put that together cause they really are on a spectrum aren't they? It's a range. You start with the mindfulness of getting the mind, focused and in the present, and then you can then move on to meditation isthe way I thought you said.

14:14                                     Yes You could do it in that way around or you could also say that if you were to practice meditation and there are many routes to meditation. I myself am very interested in the different dharanas from the Daoist and the Tantric traditions, which are actually quite Bhakti and devotional focused often towards a deity or towards energy in a certain form, very visual, that sort of thing. And those kinds of meditations actually I find through practicing, actually practice regularly, can improve mindfulness in everyday life as well.

                                                So I wouldn't say that mindfulness always has to be a precursor to meditation, if what I mean. It can be either way, but I love also a TKV Desakichar's description of Samadhi in his book, the Heart of Yoga where he's talking about that when we succeed in becoming so absorbed in something that our mind becomes completely one with it. We are in a state of Samadhi. He says Samadhi means to bring together, to merge. So sometimes we actually, when we practice yoga and then maybe find ourselves in meditation at the end, we're already in that state of being merged with something and it's very indescribable. It's hard to actually put into words what that is. But I'm sure most people who've been practicing for a while, I've had little glimpses of that experience.

                                                And I would say that then when you get out of that experience and you go on with your daily life, that changes the way that you interact with the moment. So you are often more mindful after an experience like that. And just an example from my own life, I was on a nine day meditation retreat when I was on that bicycle journey and oh and I think it was day seven or something like that. I had one of these experiences where I was completely merged. It's something that was indescribable, couldn't actually name or even really visualize. It just felt like my mind was completely still. So my whole body was very peaceful and calm. And, it was a different experience than I've ever had ever again. And afterwards I got back on my bicycle and for about two or three days, the only thing that was in my mind was the thought of placing my foot on the right pedal and then the left pedal and then the right pedal, and then the left pedal. And then eventually I'd come to a shop where I needed some water and all my full attention was on having the conversation with the shopkeeper. Or walking back to the bike, I became incredibly more mindful, aware of my body of my mind, my thoughts and feelings and emotions due to having had that experience.

17:12                                     What do you think, I don't like this term, but the average person would get from mindfulness. You've studied for many years and you've gone into great detail and you have depths of knowledge. What about someone who's coming to it new or might learn about it in a yoga class? What do you think the benefits for them might be?

17:47                                     Oh numerous. And I think different for everyone as well. But I would say that most people who come to my classes, the thing that they say is the most powerful sense for them is actually to just be remembering in the moment that they are breathing and that the breath is actually keeping them alive. And that in itself is a very powerful thing.

                                                It changes your perspective on life because when you come back to the breath and you realize that this moment in itself is a complete miracle and the fact that I'm breathing there is so much going right with my life really helps to bring things into perspective. But in addition, there are so many health benefits from practicing mindfulness, from slowing down our attention and coming into the present moment. And those include a decreased heart rate and reduced stress, I myself have used it very much to do with the journey I've had with pain and that has been I think a life-saving tool because living five years with a chronic pain condition that I really had no control over in that time, really severely affected my mental health.

19:03                                     But with the practice of mindfulness, I always, I will too see what was happening and feel the sensations and be with it and in not such a reactive way. I mean, there were times where I couldn't do that and I would react to it and I would scream or howl or I would need to get some pain relief. But I think the only way I could've coped with that for five years, and still remained on the whole, happy and well and able to teach. And feel like I had a sense of purpose in life was because I was able to see things clearly from my mindfulness practice and know that this too will pass eventually and it always did.

                                                And just keep on coming back to what was here. So the breath was moving in my body or I could feel these bodily sensations and I could actually learn how to be with them, how to explore them, how to open to them being here rather than constantly trying to push them away or numb them or react to what was happening.

                                                It's helpful in chronic pain. a lot of studies have suggested that it helps with depression in that it's less likely that depression will relapse when you have a regular mindfulness practice. So you may have experienced the initial depression but there is a reduced rate of relapse in clinical depression from practicing mindfulness. And there's numerous health benefits from this: better sleep, reduced anxiety and worry, increased self-acceptance and compassion towards ourselves. I think which is a really, really important piece. I've heard so many times that mindfulness without compassion is actually just pure concentration. Anyone can do that. But as a society on the whole we are very reluctant to use the tools of self-compassion and self-love towards ourselves. And mindfulness with compassion becomes heartfullness and that is a totally different practice from just the straight Dharana practice of being concentrated on an object can sometimes feel a bit cold and harsh.

                                                So the practices of meta meditation, loving kindness, even just using some self-talk interventions, when we notice that the mind is very busy or maybe there's a self-critical voice, noticing that and then just coming back and telling yourself, okay, it's okay. I don't really believe that. That's just my thoughts. Well then might be a bodily sensation. It's not who I am. So these tools can also be really helpful in calming a very busy or chaotic mind, one that often takes us away from who we truly are.

22:00                                     I think you've been amazingly clear in explaining this. I think that it's really valuable to the listeners, but I always like to end the podcast, which has another few minutes to go yet. But, is there anything that you would like to tell the listeners that we either haven't gone into enough depth or something that we haven't addressed it all?

22:32                                     Yeah. I would also like to say that mindfulness is something that can be practiced anywhere and anytime. It doesn't have to be on your meditation cushion or on your Yoga Mat. So in the MBSR program, we have a distinction between the formal practices of mindfulness, which is the dedicated time you take to build your mindfulness muscle, to actually learn the techniques and embed them in your mind so that when you're in your daily life and you're participating in the normal routine activities of your daily life, you can be more mindful.

                                                So for the past seven years practicing and teaching mindfulness, I have tried to be more mindful while brushing my teeth, for example. However, every time I go to the dentist, my dentist says, you're still brushing too hard. I have a habit of trying to rush. Certainly this process of brushing my teeth or just trying to get it done. And probably from childhood where I probably felt stressed or too hurried to do this properly. So it's been a real habit break. It's actually every morning when I brush my teeth, try to slow it down, be there, look at myself in the mirror, feel the bristles on my teeth, feel the warmth of the toothpaste. I mean, I'm really picking something apart, but we can apply mindfulness to any situation. Walking from our bedroom to the bathroom. First thing, it can become a walking meditation or when you're driving the car, you can see your hands on the steering wheel. As you turn, you can notice sounds as they come in to the ears or you can notice how your heart starts racing when you have to jolt and stop because the car in front of you stopped suddenly.

                                                So mindfulness is something that we take on the road with us. And meditation is not so easy because it actually takes you, I wouldn't say out of the present moment, but into states of being that are so relaxed and so maybe even into different brainwave states that you can't really participate in daily life whilst meditating, I would say. but you can be mindful in every moment of daily life. And that is a real art in practice. And again, Thich Nhat Hahn has been the most influential person on that to me.

                                                His whole premise was around being engaged in the world through Buddhism and mindfulness. So yeah, even little sayings that you can say to yourself while doing something. So washing my hands, I feel peaceful and calm, that sort of thing. Or whilst holding a child, looking into their eyes and just appreciating that moment. He's very into applying mindfulness to every situation with daily life. And that's where it can really bring about more joy, more contentment and more ease. Really just dropping into the present moment and realizing that there's so much to see and witness that can bring pure joy when you pay attention to it.

25:35                                     Ff you all would like to contact or might like to go to one of your yoga classes. she's at and her website is: au Now about your mindfulness best based stress classes? May come about. Okay. Occasionally, shall we say.

26:12                                     Yeah. So the general public that is, however we can also offer that in workplaces and we do from time to time get requests from different corporations to come and offer it to the whole staff body or something like that.

                                                But to the general public twice per year, usually in Autumn and in Winter. And I have another colleague in Newcastle who also runs them in Summer and in Spring, Lisa Pollard, her name is, and so between us there should be four courses a year usually.

26:42                                     And would people find out about those?

26:45                                     g

                                                Go to either au or to to find out about the eight week program. Oh, I also ran a four week introduction to mindfulness, which is more like a taste of the practice and shorter practices. Because mindfulness-based stress reduction actually does involve quite a lot of home practice and you would have witnessed that when you did it. Stephanie, you're expected to do between 30 and 45 minutes a day of home practice, which is a lot for some people to manage. So this other course that I run, which is called an introduction to mindfulness, is four weeks, one hour a week, and just 12 minutes a day of home practice to just dip your toe in the water, see how you feel about it and see if you'd like to apply it. And a lot of those people go on to do the MBSR program after that.

27:36                                     Probably your best bet, listeners, is and you can get information about the different kinds of things that Hannah is offering. And I want to thank you. I think you've done a great job of explaining this and it's much clearer in my mind now and I think it will be in the listener's mind and I certainly thank you for agreeing to be on.

28:09                                     Thank you so much for having me. It's been lovely to reconnect with you. And I think every day is an exploration. So my definition is a working definition, but it's based on practice and we can only dive in and see what happens for ourselves. Through this exploration, we might become a little bit more clearer in terms of who we really are at our core.

28:31                                     Yes. And that's always important. Thank you so much.

Sep 3, 2019

Major Points:

  1. Meditation is for everyone; but the introduction of meditation should be tailored to the audience.
  2. One of the major benefits of meditation is postponing an immediate response to a stimulus.
  3. Jay started meditating as a child and has continued meditating to the present (with certain breaks).

Stephanie: This is Changing the Face of Yoga and this is meditation month. I am going to be talking to people who have different takes on meditation. And I have a very interesting guest today. His name is Jay Cole. Jay has written a book called Calm the Fuck Down meditation for Blue Collars. I have to admit that's a little bit different than we usually think about it. Jay and I are going to talk about his experience with meditation and why he wrote this. Jay's a RYT 200 level yoga teacher. He started with Yoga with Adriene and then went to some classes. He's since decided that he really enjoys yoga and became a teacher. He's also been meditating for 20 years and we're going to ask him why he chose to make this book and why he chose to target blue collars. So welcome Jay. Glad to have you on the podcast. I think you're going to add some stuff that most people wouldn't and I'm looking forward to it. So do you have anything else to add to your introduction?

Jay Cole: Well, first of all, thank you Stephanie for having me here. This is a great honor to be on your podcast and a part of anything in the Yoga community. Definitely a fan of this kind of stuff. The intro was great. You've done your research. I don't know.

Geez, So, yeah, yoga is like one of like the newest things, I guess to come into my life. So before that, if it helps anybody, I started out as an artist and doing graphic design and I still do that on the side. And I probably did graphic design for like 20 years, the last before getting into yoga even. But then alongside of that I was a musician in a hip hop band. I think I've had three different like rap crews. Yeah. And then I've had my own solo music that I make too. And I dunno, I just, you know, I lived such a hard life and then it was just so interesting to like kind of go from the sex, drugs, rock and roll kind of lifestyle, like live fast and free and hard and, and then, flip flopping completely into a more of a soft kind of existence, you know, in the whole world of yoga.

Anyways, the reason I got into that was, oh, I think it was like 2007 I had been talking to my grandfather when he was still alive and I was trying to find out what the illnesses were in my family so I can be proactive about that stuff and kind of get a handle on it early, in my youth, my twenties. So he was saying how the worst thing in our family is arthritis. And so I definitely did not want to get into arthritis cause my dad has it pretty bad. And his arthritis went all the way to rheumatoid, so it's pretty bad for him. It's nasty stuff. So rheumatoid, for anybody who thinks that rheumatoid arthritis is arthritis. It's not, it's literally your immune system. It's like eating itself from the inside out so it your immune system goes, oh, what are these bones doing here, let's get these out of here and it will start to eat away at your bone. They are so brittle, they will break, shatter, release. My Dad's had so many operations. He shattered his ankle and he had like 52 pins put in his leg all the way up to shinbone. It's been reconstructed; he's part robot. Now I call him the cyborg father.

Yeah. So yeah, I was like, how am I, what am I going to do about this arthritis thing? And any research that was available online back in 2007 was yoga. That's what everybody said. You know what? It won't make it better, but it'll stop it from getting any worse. And I said, okay, sign me up. But you know what, I don't feel the pain, so not right now.

It was probably 10 or so years later, 2015 when I was living in Los Angeles, which was great because the humid, the climate and everything was great. But then something miraculous happened. It actually rained in LA. Well it hadn't rained in probably six months. When that rain hit, the contrast, just the humidity in the air, it just hit my bones like a bag of bricks. I couldn't get up out of bed. I was just in so much pain and I knew what it was. I was like, well this is it. This is the day I have to start doing yoga.

And that's when I just started following yoga videos on Youtube and I was falling over all the time and hurting myself. It wasn't working out. I must've watched a hundred different videos and a friend of mine said, Oh, you need yoga with Adriene. That'll fix everything. So I started watching Adriene and, it's still a part of my daily routine. Even though I teach my own stuff and I write my own classes, I still follow yoga with Adriene. It is just amazing and it's good.

I mean in between I went to real classes, you know, to learn, okay, am I actually doing downward dog properly? I don't know. In my room by myself, I didn't come in here to look at a mirror on the wall. Okay. So, yeah, taking a few classes, you know, getting some alignment and whenever you're going to a yoga class, whenever you tell the teachers like, Hey, I'm new at this, they're just like, oh yes. I love that.

And I love it too because that's your person. This is your demonstration person you're going to use for the whole class, I think it's just  a good bonus to have somebody who's there to be taught to learn. So you're like, no micromanaging every little move that they make. They're like, oh, you could, this could go over here and that could go over. You really, really help someone deepen their practice. I love it when students say that, and they definitely loved it when I came in there saying that I didn't know what I was doing either, and that was it. So 2016 on the end of 2016 I decided I love this. I love doing it every day. I would love that. If this was my life, that's all I had to do. And I went and took the training on Vancouver Island.

Stephanie: On your blog, you tagged your book as meditation and mindfulness. Do you equate those two things?

Jay: I feel like people who meditate become more mindful after. I wouldn't say that it just happens right away and I wouldn't call meditation mindfulness. It's like a by-product or an after effect that happens.  I find all the benefits of meditation are that way. Whereas you start doing it and over a period of time you start to notice it expanding. It's not just in that hour that you're meditating or 20 minutes or 10 minutes when you're meditating before it starts to creep out into the rest of your life, seeps into everything. So then you get cut off in traffic. You're not freaking out about that person. You're not being reactionary. As a very reactionary person. Back in the day before I meditated. And even when I did meditate, it wasn't full time for the last like 22 years. It was an off and on kind of thing. I would go like little bursts of months, days, but it's been the last two years, two, three years, I've really just gone hard at it. And by doing that now I'm really noticing the benefits of it. I don't know if it's because I'm older, I'm more mature, I have a better head for these kind of things and I can recognize them. But I wasn't seeing it before for what it really was in my youth. Now, today I can definitely feel the benefits of it.

Stephanie: So how did you get interested in the beginning?

Jay: So an interesting story. When I was about nine or 10 years old, we would vacation at my grandparents cottage on a lake. So it was me and my brother and my sister and then two grandparents would be there. Usually they would have us and my parents wouldn't be there. So sibling rivalry starts happening, little bickering, a little bit of fighting. Next thing you know, it's all out war. All Day, every day. Fighting with my brother and sister and I wasn't having fun. I didn't like it. My grandparents didn't like it. You know, back then they still had jobs. They weren't retired. This was their vacation too.

One day I was like, I'm just going to stop fighting. I'm just going to just get away from this and I'm going to go sit on this rock. There are these, that's the other cool thing. There are these giant stones coming up out of the earth. They had pulled as many as they could out with bulldozers and tractors, but a lot of giant rocks are like an iceberg, a piece sticking out on top. But the piece below is far bigger. And I climbed up on this rock. I folded my legs into a full lotus. My Dad taught us how to do full lotus when we were really young. So all of us kids could easily do that at least. I crisscrossed my legs in a little pretzel, close my eyes, I was in it. Fighting went away. Everyone stopped bickering. My grandparents were happier. I was happier. Brother and sister are happier. Neighbors weren't listening to us all yelling and running and there's this calm washed across the land.

And that was the beginning of meditation, I didn't know what it was. I didn't know what I was doing. I had seen Ninja movies. You would see like a monk in a monastery meditating before the Ninjas attack and just little glimpses. The Ninja Turtles, a popular cartoon in Canada, they have Master Splinter, he was always meditating. He would tell the Ninja Turtles, oh, I have to go meditate on this problem that we're having. So I okay, all I need. So I sat down on that rock, close my eyes. That was it.

People laughed at me and my brother and sister would run over at first and try and get me out of it. And then after a while they realized, oh, leave him alone. And then, my grandmother would step in like, leave Jay alone. He's meditating. Right. They didn't know what it was. Nobody knew what it was, but everyone knew that something peaceful and quiet was happening. That's all that really mattered.

And from there I had read, we used to have these like Buddhist magazines, can't remember the name of it, but I would read these magazines. I didn't know any of the Sanskrit terms, words. We're talking like early nineties here. There is no internet to research with, so I was reading these books, not having a clue, but kind of gleaming little bits of information here and there. And I don't know if they helped or just confused things more. The fact is that the existed and I read them. Maybe that stuck somewhere in the back of my head. Now I understand a little bit more. I don't want to say I know it all..

Stephanie: It sounds like you might've had a family though, that you know your dad taught the lotus position and you had these Buddhist magazines around.

Jay: No, not at all. My dad had taken karate and so I guess that's where he learned it. He's young and he just taught us how to do this fun thing where we cross our legs and then you could even flip up onto your knees in full lotus and then try and walk on your knees and walk around the living room. My brother would crisscross his legs and I'd cross mine up and then we would like have wrestling matches the first person to like break their legs open would lose. So that's where the Lotus came from.

And yeah, the magazines were just something I bought myself. The store, I remember walking in, I remember the first time there was a little magazine store and that's all they sold was magazines and newspapers from all over the world. And I just saw this, somebody was meditating on the cover and I was like, oh, I wonder what that's about. Bodhisattva, that might've been the name of the magazine. Anyways, that's where it all began. I just kept doing it throughout life, like I said, on and off. So throughout my twenties and in my early twenties to late twenties that's when I really got into music. That's when like the sex, drugs, rock and roll started. So there was a lot less meditation happening. I found it really became one of those things like prayer. So you'll hear about people who pray only when shit is going wrong. Right. That's when they reach out and that's when, for me, that's when I would, I would pray. I'm like, okay, I got to meditate on this. You know, go sit down and close my eyes; have a good meditation session. Usually I would come out of it with some kind of like revelation and accomplished something. It wouldn't always be for nothing.

I mean there are, there are many days nothing happens, that's for sure. Yeah. But what I like to tell everybody is that those are days also you're training your mind to know that it can be in this state. Doesn't have to be like it says in my book and nail trying to hit a hammer, I mean a hammer trying to hit a nail on the head. Your mind is always looking at everything as if it's a problem. So your mind is this hammer and everything is a nail just constantly trying to bop these nails.

When I finished yoga teacher training and I'd gone back to the east coast to Atlantic, Canada, everyone, I guess had seen this like difference in me. Something had changed like, man, your different You're so much calmer now and so much more peaceful. You're grounded and centered and can you teach me how to meditate? I'm like, yeah, I can. But logistically it never worked out that I could teach 40/50 different people how to meditate. Going to their house, each of them. There's thousands of videos online if you're watching.

When it got to that point of like maybe 50 people had asked me how to meditate, I'm like, I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to write a workshop. So I sat down, I got a PowerPoint presentation and I started writing everything I knew about meditation. And then anytime I had a question I would just do a little bit of research and try and fill in some spots here and there. And then I was like, well, maybe I'll teach people about different kinds of meditation. So then I'm like, okay, now I got to really research. I got to really know my shit. I started figuring out like, what is a mantra meditation , what's entailed with that? What is loving kindness meditation? Was that all about? What's a Kundalini Meditation? I wanted to know what all the different styles do just to get people with a bit of a foundation to go off of if they want research further later on.

Kind of like a course. And I put up flyers all over town. I bought Facebook ads, I rented out a center, I had a TV and a big screen set up and PowerPoint ready to go and three people showed up. I was like a little disappointed. Like, man, everybody's been asking literally daily to teach them how to meditate and I told everybody I'm going to do this workshop and everybody's so interested in it and then nobody showed up. So I did a few more of those workshops. It's still literally like three people would show up at the most. Okay, this isn't maximizing the value of my time here or anyone else's to have like three people because in the workshop I had things like I'm sitting there and I'm bouncing a ball and I would throw the ball at someone in the crowd like this is, these are part of the things that I was gonna teach with. I had little puzzles, games that required more than three people to be in the room.

So I said, okay, I'm going to just put this on the back burner for a little while and just kind of let it sit there.  It sits for probably a year. And then I decided, oh, I know I'm going to take all the speaking notes from my excel or PowerPoint presentation because with excel you have the stuff that's on the screen. Then you have your own private screens, your speaker's notes and no one else gets to see . So I took all my speaker’s notes with the bullet points, combine those, I'm going to make this into a book. I started typing; got It all formatted, put it into a book. I sat there and I looked at it, I read it and I was like, Oh crap, I've gone and I've written just another generic old meditation book. There are millions of these things. It will end up in the new age section and a discount bin at the bookstore. And I could just see it like, you know, stacks of these books piling up in my house, unable to sell them.

So rather than doing anything about it, I just kind of, again, I put on the back burner. I said I'll find a way to do something with this eventually here in Victoria. It is weird for here because it's kind of stuff, it doesn't generally happen here. I find there's more of a high vibe kind of a people that live here. So you don't really find a lot of views that you find in the rest of the country. Especially with like the blue collar workforce.

I was walking by a job site and they're doing construction. I heard wrenches being thrown and hitting the wall. Yeah. People cussing, freaking out and fight noises and fists. Then a circle gathering of employees and all stopped what they're doing and form a circle around these two guys fighting and yelling, calling each other down to the lowest. Productivity had completely stopped everybody's on edge. Everybody's tense, the eyes are fighting, wrenches are flying through the air. Like this is a dangerous environment to be in.

And almost as a joke it ran through my mind; if anybody needs meditation, these guys do. And that was it. That was my like light bulb moment. So I ran home, hopped on the computer busted opened my meditation book and I just started re-typing the whole thing from scratch. And almost as a joke. I had this voice in my head so it was like a light southern accent. Like, la Matthew McConaughey kind of accent. I don't know why most people associate that with those kinds of jobs and it was in my head so that that's like the first line of text in the book is: this book is best read with a light southern accent, think Matthew McConaughey. You put that in your head and you started reading and then I threw in like there's lots of swear words.

But also there's a lot of allusions to the construction industry, labor jobs, things like that. Yeah, I've done a lot of that work myself with my dad growing up and I've worked a few jobs sites and I really, I really hate it. I don't like it. And I wouldn't call myself a worker. I know a lot of people spend entire lives working in these industries to become the best at it. I would go in and I'd put it in my like six hours and okay, I've had enough of this. Not For me. So I know I have the knowledge anyways how to do all the things. At least I had that. So I know about building foundations and building upon structures. How to put up drywall or pouring concrete. Putting shingles on roofs. I've done tons of stuff. I've mixed my own concrete poured it, added extensions on two houses. I've cut down trees in the forest, run the trees through a machine that turns the trees in the boards that you can then build with. We've done it all. So I have a lot to go off of here and I just sat down, and started typing away at this book. It probably took another few, probably six months, to get it all finalized and then sent it out to Amazon and they do their little thing with it. And here we are today.

Stephanie: Do you have an idea of what the responses to it is from the blue collar community?

Jay: So far it's been pretty good.

Stephanie: So you changed the language to attract your target market? Did you do anything else to massage the information to make it more palatable or easier to understand for this group?

Jay: Yeah, so I took out all the Sanskrit words, kind of said everything at face value for what it is. Okay. It was a couple times I put something in. If I do, I explain it, that means this. I find when I read a lot of books they'll say like, so like even in Yoga poses and Asana. Asana means pose, right? So I'll find that you'll be reading a book and they'll explain that. They'll be like such and such asana and asana means pose. But then they won't ever tell you that again and they'll just continue using the word asana throughout the rest of the book. You have to constantly keep flipping back. What does asana mean again? Oh yeah. It means pose. I didn't want that to happen, so I figured I would completely remove it. Frequent swear words placed throughout the book. And then the allusions and the metaphors in relation to building and constructing things. Okay, a little bit of humor. My own humor. I mean I did that. I was a comedian for five years. I did stand up five, six years so that never goes away.

Stephanie:  If you were giving advice to someone who wanted to do a meditation book that was not going to end up in the bin at the bookstore at half price, what were the most important things that you did that you think made it more successful?

Just because of the process and the progress of it. Like it started out as a workshop and then became a book, then became a second book. Finding your target market is probably the best one. You can write a book about anything. Who is your market? Who are you aiming it towards? What do you know a lot about? Those should be some of the things you should think of if you are going to write a book and I mean any kind of book.

I'm working on another book right now. This one I started writing back in 2004, I finished in 2011 and it's just been sitting there. I like it. It's a fantasy book and I like it, but I was like, yeah, I dunno. It's not, it's not anything that I would read. Like I would never pick this up and go, wow, this is awesome.

 So I'm in the process now rewriting up, which is thousands of pages longer than my meditation book. I just got through chapter one and it's already the past what my meditation book was. Think about who the end user is. Think about who you want to read this. Who do you think would enjoy it? What do they want to read? What do they want to see? What are ssome of the imagery. What is the age range? You don't want to be using old timey words from back in the forties if trying to reach the new millennials. I feel like it will just hit you one day  and you'll go, oh, I know what to do now. Okay. But they weren't necessarily things I thought of on purpose. Applied it on purpose. Yeah. I guess we could probably use it almost as a business model for other things.

Stephanie: When you first started out, you did all these different kinds of meditation, Kundalini Meditation, and is that still in there giving them kind of a broad overview of the different kinds of meditation?

Jay: Oh, definitely. I'll bring the book up. There's an introduction. There's a couple stories. Just personal life stories goes into the benefits of meditation. A little section on don't get caught up. Tried and true techniques, physical techniques, positioning of your body, mental techniques, kind of some of the things that you, that people like to think about when they're sitting there, does it, we all know, we've all heard. Everyone thinks that, oh, it's all about just completely emptying your mind and then nothing, just go into this white space. Oh, now you're just the white space. It's not really about that. It's about witnessing the thoughts. There they are. There they go. I don't own them. I'm not getting attached to them, and now they're gone. Whoosh - that kind of idea. There's a few guided meditation ideas there. Uh, some potential hindrances like roommates, neighbors making noise.

When you sit down and meditate, it's kind of like running. You start running; you're not really in the groove yet, but after about five, 10 minutes of running like you're okay. Yeah. Now I've got it. Yeah. Then you're in that flow state and just going with it. And it's kind of the same with me with meditating. There's this like rocky road, grumbly challenge to get through it at first and then your through that. For me it's about 20 minutes in and then it's like smooth sailing. Okay. First 20 minutes - oh, what's that itch? Or I gotta do something. So for about 20 minutes, there's a lot of that nonsense going on. But after 20 minutes, it's like smooth sailing.

Stephanie: So how, how long do you meditate if 20 minutes is just getting you into it?

Jay: I do an hour every morning. That's just what I built up to when I first started getting back into meditation. okay, I'm going to do this. I'm going to hit it hard and I got through, you know, five minutes. I was like, okay, I'll build up to it.

I understand why people say that. So even when I recommend to people just do a minute. Just do one minute. Set your alarm a minute earlier before you wake up this morning. Get up a minute earlier. Just close your eyes. Just be awake and sitting. And people are like, oh, I'd meditate when I'm sleeping. I'm like, no, it's not the same. It's not the same. You're not training your body that it's okay just be sitting there and not doing anything. Being okay with just being in the room at first. Just be there. Eventually you'll have to be there with your thoughts. Eventually, you'll get through some of the other processes.

Yeah, it took awhile. I built up and do an hour. I mean, I've done two and three and four hours. But yeah, at what ends, you know? At what point is this becoming a drug? At what point are you tapping out of life? When are you procrastinating? You can meditate all day', it's not gonna to pay the bills.

Stephanie: That's an interesting thought though, that you can really take meditating to an extreme that's not beneficial.

Jay: Yeah, so like there's monks who sit and meditate all day. They'll do a 14 hour meditation. That's what they do, right? No, they're not doing, they're not doing yoga all day. They're not working out in the gym. They're not doing pushups. They're not doing a lot of physical, strenuous activity. They're not cleaning houses. They're not biking and running and jogging, just sitting. It's easy to just sit.

Your body really doesn't use up that much nutrients or energy when you're just sitting and when you tackle the whole breathing thing. So everything starts with the breath. Then the breath dictates to the heart. Everyone here in Western medicine thinks that it starts with the heart. Actually it starts with the breath. Breath tells the heart what to do and then the heart works for the rest of the body. So when you can tackle the breathing, you can get the heart rate really lowered down to almost nothing. That is the key I guess for long term meditations, and heart health and all that kind of stuff, which I kind of go over that in the book too. Yeah, the benefits.

Stephanie: So what would you say was the best benefit for you?

Jay: For me, I would say not being so reactionary. Like I was someone that would react, I would react right away. Not really fly off the handle, but, and there's certain people who know, especially with family. People know how to push your buttons. My Dad and my brother could very easily just like make up funny joke about yoga or something about stuff that I'm into. And I would just be so defensive about it and aggressive. No, you don't understand. Oh, it's like this. And they sit back and laugh. We've got them again. Look at Jay's getting all red in the face. Okay. Mr Yogi. Oh, I'm like, Damn, they got me.

Through all the meditation that's really just kind of melted away. And I don't just mean with my family. I mean with anything. Get cut off the traffic, beeps the horn at you. I'm like, yeah, whatever. I know we're driving and he keeps going. You can attach to that. You get grumpy, you have all these angry thoughts, you can grab onto those thoughts. You can hold them, keep them with you all day long. You could bring them to work with you and be angry and pissy with everybody. Well, you don't have to, and I feel that meditation is really what has taught me that it's okay to have thoughts. It's okay to let them go. It's like, yeah, anger. Of course, you are angry. You almost got in an accident and all of the problems that are associated with that accident, you don't have to think about them right now because it didn't actually happen.

The other issues, so much stress, so much cortisol in your body that is so damaging to everything inside of you. Cortisol is like one of the worst things. Cortisol is there for fight or flight. So when we used to live in the woods, you hear a twig snap your heart rate goes really fast And you get jolted with some cortisol and some adrenaline and you can either run away from the animal or you can stay and fight it. Today, you're sitting in traffic and didn't get hit and your heart's going through the roof and you're angry and this is not supposed to be happening.

People watching the news, they’re in their own home, totally safe. Nothing is happening, especially here in Canada. And they're watching all this bad stuff about terrorism bombs going off and violence and people are dying and all this aggression and they're sitting here and they’re clutching the arm chair and they're getting all aggravated and they're yelling at the TV and the cortisol's coursing through their body and all the stress is reacting, it's so damaging.

Stephanie: Thank you, Jay. I really think that you've educated us a lot, but you've done it in a very entertaining way, which I always think is helpful. And I love the idea. I love the idea that a meditation book together for people that perhaps we haven't thought of as meditators. So I appreciate you looking beyond what we usually do and adding some new people in.

Jay: There's nothing worse than preaching to the choir.

Stephanie: So if you would like to talk Jay or ask him a question or something. His website is His Facebook is jcoleyoga and his book Calm the Fuck Down; Meditation for Blue Collars is on Amazon. Thank you Jay] it was great talking to you again and I think you've really added something to our discussion on meditation.

Jay: Oh, thank you Stephanie. It was a blast.

Contacts:, FB: jcoleyoga, Amazon: Calm the Fuck Down; Meditation for Blue Collars