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Regulating the Nervous System through Meditation: The Science behind Ancient Practices that work wit

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Regulating the Nervous System through Meditation: The Science behind Ancient Practices that work with Tom Cronin, Founder of The Stillness Project

In this episode I sit down with Tom Cronin, founder of the Stillness Project and producer of the Portal Film. Tom worked as a bond and stockbroker for 26 years. During this time, he suffered from a nervous breakdown from living in chronic stress with no coping skills. He discovered meditation, and used that to regulate his nervous system. Tom now teaches individuals all over the world the powerful meditation practices he learned, both online and at in person retreats.

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Intro: Welcome to the "Sober Yoga Girl" podcast with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019. And now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how. all right hello everyone welcome back to another episode of sober yoga girl i am really excited because i took a little bit of a hiatus from filming recording podcast episodes and now i'm back on it after a while so feeling really excited to be back and i am sitting today with tom cronin who is coming from sydney australia and he is the founder of the stillness project and the producer of the portal film and i will let tom tell us a bit about his story but welcome tom how are you hey i'm great it's great to be here thanks for inviting me along today nice to have you here and so tell me a bit about yourself where are you based and kind of your past career and how did you end up in the work you're doing now yeah i guess i'll jump into where i am now so i'm a retreat host a meditation teacher a coach corporate facilitator so working with companies like amazon coca-cola qantas helping them with mindfulness and stress management in their staff i produced a film called the portal as we heard uh developed an app have six books published so it kind of really all in that mindfulness transformation sort of space and spirituality where i was was i spent 26 years on a training room floor as a broker and if anyone's seen wolf of wall street the early years of my career were very much like that it was quite i actually got goosebumps when i saw the film because what happened was jordan belfort who was the character in the film a real life story he started his career as a broker on a trading room floor at the age of 22 in 1987. and i started my career on a trading room floor as a broker at the age of 19 in 1987. so 1987 was a really interesting year was the year that jordan belfort started his career it was the year that i started my career it was the year that they produced the film wall street with gordon gekko and bud fox lunches for wimps and gritty's good and it was the year that the book uh bonfire the vanities came out which was sherman mccoy a global sort of bomb broker extraordinaire he called himself master of the universe so it was this kind of fast crazy times in finance markets it was like the wild wild west it was really a phenomenal time before the sort of the big share market crash of 87 and that's when i kind of entered into this crazy crazy time in the first of jan 1987 and so it was like bright lights and i was a country farm boy went to an all boys boarding school and i i kind of was taking a year off to go and do a bit of travel and stuff before i did a university degree in journalism interestingly i was going to write articles for time magazine about capitalistic greed and before i knew it i was had a few months to fill in before my university degree so i applied for all these different ads in the paper i didn't really even care what they were i was just writing off resume and ad applications and um next thing i got a call up to this crazy trading room floor it was just insane when i saw it and it just looked so exciting so i said yes i was going to do my unit degree but i ended up getting a massive pay rise and a massive promotion very quickly i was a bit of a hot shot and that next thing i just was pulled into this vortex of fast money and finance markets and uh my life just sort of went down that trajectory for quite some time so it was really fun it was exciting and i loved it you know i was given a sports car you know a corporate amex card and was paid a six-figure salary at the age of 19 and winning lots of clients business so i was really really good at the job it was just a lot of fun but then what happened was over time by day you're on this massive adrenaline fuel fist pumping sort of trading room floor you know billions of dollars of swaps and bonds on international markets you're turning over with these investment banks all around the world and then by night time the big part of the job was to actually go out and win the bankers business so you'd go out and put your corporate amex card behind the bar and you'd be shouting the bad drinks and i want to be high-fiving it'd be a classic you know film scene where it was just you know reckless abandon where you didn't really have accountability how much you were spending as long as you knew that you're going to make that money back the next day because the broker would put lots of business you know down the line so we would do that all day long and you'd be getting home at you know two three four in the morning most nights and some brokers would even go straight to work and sleep under their desk because it would just save time going and coming back again and this was something that you know over time of course it was late 80s early 90s and there was a lot of drugs and so there was a lot of drinking a lot of drugs a lot of crazy stuff and little beneath to me that my nervous system was starting to struggle with that particular overwhelm and this is what a nervous system does is it gives us this incredible flow of information it's such a beautiful design and it lets us know when there's anomalies so if we get a red light on the dashboard that red light is playing a really integral role in your own safety and wellness it's like stop the car have a look under the bonnet see what caused that red light to come on and the red light's not the problem the red light's actually your best friend the problem is under the bonnet and so a symptom is like a red light it's it's it's a red light showing up in the dashboard which is your body saying hey you got a problem you need to go and have a look at the root cause of this problem what's causing this red light to come on so my red lights were insomnia anxiety these extreme panic attacks i didn't even know what they were i was just like curled up in a ball either in the cuticle at work or on my bed at home just waves of fear and dread and then that morphed into this sort of really deep dark depression and so constantly getting colds and sick and all just a really dilapidated nervous system and immune system so these red lights were like flashing all over the place but i just didn't have the ability or adaptability or the consciousness to take a look at what that was i was making a ton of money and just kept doing what i was doing and then einstein's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result so here i am doing the same thing now the thing with the the nervous system and the body is that it's it's really looking after you it's trying to alert you to end up an anomaly in the way you're living and helping to guide you into a more sustainable and harmonious way of existing but if we ignore that the body doesn't just give up on you it doesn't say all right you win i'll make things really good i'll make you really healthy you just keep doing what you're doing it actually turns up the volume on the pain points and so the red lights start flashing brighter and so this eventually exacerbated until one day it was quite a severe morning i woke up and i just knew things weren't right and i went to the bathroom to get ready for work and i remembered that morning as i looked in the mirror that i had a massive client lunch and i thought wow what if i get stuck at this fancy restaurant with these traders and i can't get out what if i get trapped and i get that breathing thing and i get that feeling of dread and that sweat and a cold and then this cascade of fear and dread just was like this tsunami and then all of a sudden i got this sharp pain in my heart and i got this vision that just all went blurry i couldn't breathe my legs collapsed under me i fell on the floor i had this clammy cold sweat and i literally thought i was dying and i thought this was a heart attack and that this was the end of my life but i was so depressed and just so dark and miserable about who i'd become and my addictions and the type of person that i'd morphed into so far from my my truth and my belief systems i didn't really care i kind of lost any hope at that point or any inclination i should say any inclination to keep going and i was kind of like thrown in the towel at this point i still remember it lying on the on the tiles in the bathroom now i got picked up by my partner and she took me to the doctor and he explained that i was having a nervous breakdown that was a really debilitating diagnosis a heart attack i could handle but a nervous breakdown was like what the heck like i'm a freaking king of the universe like i'm a broker you know i'm not having a nervous breakdown and he sent me to a psychiatrist uh straight away literally put me into one of the the clinics uh the top clinics here in the eastern suburbs and um before i knew it was putting on pharmaceutical drugs and telling me that i have a stressful nature and yeah and i was put on suicide watching having to report in all the time so it was pretty messy time that in a really dark night of the soul a dark time in my life but it was actually one of the most critical turning points in my life as well so what happened was to condense the story now a little bit is that i know it's been dragging on a little bit but i was suffering from agrophobia so that's i couldn't go to work i couldn't leave the house i was sort of staying at home and i was watching tv and there was this documentary about a property developer and he was talking about how he used meditation for his success just remembering that meditation wasn't something that was there was no apps this was 1996. there wasn't even internet you know there was no youtube and google so meditation was very much unheard of i'd never come across it no one in industry my career my life had come across it and so he was talking about meditation i was just like wow and they showed him sitting in a chair in his blue blue pinstripe suit i remember it's distinctly and he's sitting in a suit meditating in a chair and i was like wow and that was just like this light bulb moment and that was just this moment that i knew that's what i needed to look into so that was the starting point of me to explore this in philosophy meditation and spirituality and just to condense that and just to finish all that up i actually learned to meditate i embraced it massively i could see the huge benefits and i went back into my career doing the same job with the same clients in the same company for 16 more years without the red lights coming on because i had a way to operate within that environment without that stress response happening that's it in short i should hear the long version i just want to say that when you said you know oh i know it's dragging on i have to say that i just was so listening to your story i got shivers and i almost felt like i was gonna like tear up at one point because i just feel that in the industry that you work in and you know the men that i know that you know my dad worked in like a very high stress environment as a lawyer and for people in particular in that industry to speak openly about having had a nervous breakdown and the coping strategies that you use to recover like i really feel that what you're doing by telling your story is is going to be changing the world because i don't think there's a lot of people that feel that they can be that that vulnerable and that open and honest and so thank you so much for sharing that yeah i guess my calling i feel now is to help people that no matter what level in their career they're at or how old they are or what their background is or what their what their circumstances are that cause that stress response because it can come from many different things it can be being in an abusive relationship or being you know um addicted to alcohol or it could be anything uh mine was a number of different factors but predominantly bad lifestyle choices and it's not really so much about the cause it's about the state and knowing that that state is changeable and so my i feel very passionate about supporting as many people as possible to know that regardless of where they are what their story has been their future is adaptable and there's the ability for alchemy and transformation and we do need to take some steps to some strategies to make that work just like you have with your story you know that we all have that ability to change and live a better life yeah and i love that we're talking about this today the nervous system because i actually just got off a call i'm in the middle of one of my yoga teacher trainings and i just got off a lesson this morning about the nervous system and how the primary benefit of yoga is you know switching from the state of fight or flight into that state of rest and digest and and triggering the relaxation response which so many of us as you mentioned live in a state of chronic stress and we don't know how to regulate our nervous system but learning to regulate our nervous system is one of the most important things that we can do because it can help us function at a a state of you know with presence and calm and joy and and so many of us are not equipped with those tools we have to go out and learn them that's what blew me away i just couldn't i couldn't comprehend that this simple technique really was just a method to flick a switch on my nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic that was all that was happening and when i got out of sympathetic which is an increase in cortisol adrenaline and norepinephrine and a decrease or a shutting off of of oxytocin serotonin and melatonin the biochemicals for love happiness and sleep and so we can't sleep well we can't feel love we can't feel happy if we're in the sympathetic nervous system it's just biochemically not going to be possible and that's because your body's trying to protect you from danger and so it's trying to not let you feel compassion in case you have to go into war and stab someone it's not letting you feel happy because you might have to go into a non-amicable situation and it's not letting you sleep because that's dangerous and so when i started doing the meditation just like yoga it just literally was this very rapid flicking of a switch into the parasympathetic which reverses everything about the sympathetic and i just went this is just insane how simple this is like and that's when i got really passionate about helping bring meditation and mainstream and take all the the wood stuff out of it and just say hey look this is just pure science like you you literally can't feel happy i know what was really i guess concerning me was that there was a lot of the western world western medicine trying to treat very unhappy people that weren't sleeping well or that were anxious with a tablet without addressing the underlying state that they're in so they're still in sympathetic nervous system and then let's just pop a bill and see if we can fix it and they're not really addressing the fact that hey you're having a stress response for long sustained periods of time which is causing havoc in your nervous system and causing havoc in your biochemical makeup and in your physiology as well and so the body's capacity to heal is phenomenal it's it blew me away how quickly my body could optimize my immune system my digestive system my sexual function my brain optimization everything about my body started to optimize and this was even scientifically proven one of the things about my company they gave us huge perks and benefits you know we were you know very well looked after because we made lots of money and so we had chefs and massages and you know all sorts of benefits and one of the things that we had was that we were given for some of the senior brokers free life insurance to qualify we had to get these medicals done in the medical i did a biological age test so at 29 i'd been in the industry for 10 years living this crazy lifestyle and my biological age at 29 was 37. wow so chronologically i'd had 29 years on the planet but my body was saying well actually you're about 37 years old as far as the wear and tear that you've been putting on your body now i started meditating at 29 twice a day i did some retreats and things and because i was meditating of course i made lifestyle changes as well more congruent with my state and after 13 years in that same job my biological age was 34. so at 42 my biological age had reversed quite substantially over those 13 years so this was just pure science about the the reparation the ability for the body to repair itself and optimize itself into a better way that is that's incredible

so we all have that we've all got that intelligence you know this is the thing it's going to be destructive for the pharmaceutical and the medical industry because what we have is a lot of people that aren't being sovereign in their health they're dependent on a system that makes a lot of money often being ill and if we can help humanity learn what it means to be healthy then we become a lot more sovereign a lot less dependent on these systems yeah it's so true i was actually speaking about this very topic last night with uh the people at this retreat center that i've moved into they're not yogi's themselves and one of the guys was complaining about his back and you know was like i need to you know see a doctor maybe get a massage and someone was saying i think you would i think you should do some yoga and um and i was like well i'm a yoga teacher um but it's so interesting because there is a power i was describing you know it goes beyond the physical benefits like i've i've witnessed miracles for the past seven years that i've been teaching yoga not just in physical health but also in in mental health and well-being and and so if we learn these skills then it can yeah we will find that you know a pile of medicine that we were taking once we no longer need or biological age reverses like yours yeah i don't think it's an accident that these ancient techniques that really have stood the test of time now we're talking not just hey it's been here for 50 years we're talking 7 000 years that people have been doing asanas and meditation practices and plant medicines as well not to exclude them and i think it's no accident that these ancient practices that were really preserved in very small portions of our society for such a long period of time you know we're talking just right up in the northern himalayas or you know in the jungles of the amazon and all of a sudden now that they're being infiltrated by the masses and i think it's not an accident because we we actually need to learn a lot about these things and um and there's a reason why they've stood a test of time because they're just effective they just work and and and if they're still here there's got to be good damn good reason for that absolutely so tell me about when you discovered meditation so probably not all depending on if the listeners are practicing meditation or not they might not know but there are lots of different kinds of meditation practices and i was wondering if you could tell me about what you discovered and what type of meditation uh you practice yeah i did a lot of research you know typically i just went and did a lot of research to find you know what something was going to really work quickly work effectively and cut to the chase not to discredit any other techniques because if it's a technique it must be worthy of exploring because people must be doing it otherwise it wouldn't be there so to honor and respect all of the techniques out there what i found with a lot of the techniques that i was looking into that were kind of wishy-washy they were quite long they were quite arduous i wasn't really noticing a lot of change in fact a lot of them i just felt really frustrated doing them and they were kind of really some of them sort of originating more from very renunciant type existences you know backgrounds of monasteries and and that renunciation type of existence which wasn't my path you know i was very much going to stay in the world so i was really looking for something that would be what we call an integrated householder technique one that could be integrated into a household where people had partners and kids and jobs and bills and that's the world that i was still going to continue to live in very few people in the world actually born into a sustainable monastic existence right um for the rest of us who are going to by choice live in a very householder type existence i needed something that would integrate into that so i found that the after doing lots of research and different things like chakra clearings and concentration techniques and chanting and visualizations and mindfulness practices i found the transcending styles of meditation using primordial vibrations or mantras to be for me personally the most deepest the most effective like within the first week i had really quite strong powerful experiences of what i call transcendence and that transcendence state is the experience of non-form and boundarylessness so that is to go beyond the form of thinking beyond the form of emotional or feeling and beyond the form of physicality and that's locality that's the ability to localize your existence and every locality is defined by the boundary line of its existence so your locality is defined by the four walls of the room or the suburbs that you're in in bali or the boundary line of bali or the boundary line of indonesia or the boundary line of planet earth or the boundary line of your physical body so it's the boundary line that identifies the locality and in that transcendent state there is no locality because there's no boundary line you go into a unified field that just is expansive without end and you go beyond this is going to be quite esoteric but there's two benefits from going into this space one is that you access the non-changing permanent fundamental absolute reality which is not subjective or relative and it's also the most deepest state physiologically that you can put your body into that allows that intelligence within the body to naturally start reorganizing itself and optimizing itself because the body actually is designed at its intelligent level and at a cellular level to operate at the highest level given the appropriate environment and that deep rest which we're not getting in sleep is when we're getting that transcendent experience and you just couldn't get there with mindfulness practices chapter clearing intention setting gratitude journaling they're all beautiful and i do all of those still but i find that without that capacity to transcend we're going to be leaving ourselves just a little bit short of having the full experience of life wow and that's really interesting because i think i actually might have practiced something similar yesterday i'll tell you what i did you can tell me if this is similar i did something called an active consciousness meditation i went to the yoga barn and what it was was we um we had our hands in mudras and they we they traveled along the chakras and then we chanted the i think they're called the beej mantras like lamb and is that what you're practicing like oh yeah they're beige mantras they're what we use we use these mantras um and we use specific mantras based upon usually usually when someone's born but yeah absolutely and you what was your experience that you had when you were painting them it was honestly transformational so there was chanting involved there was incense there were candles it was really powerful there were only four of us in the room she had some instruments as well like she was incorporating sound healing and so she had a drum behind our back but it was like so i've been practicing yoga for 10 years and it's so interesting because my my practice has evolved over time and this is the type of thing that i would never choose to go to even like 10 years ago five years ago two years ago because i would be like i don't think i have the concentration to sit for an hour and chant right like i'm much more of a physical kind of moving meditation person but i i want to do it every day like unfortunately it didn't work with my schedule today the the active consciousness meditation i think was at 9am so i've already missed it but i i looked at the schedule to be like when can i go again to this like it was just incredible it was incredible and this is the beautiful thing about these types of practices that give us that access to the unbounded and the thing we've got to understand firstly is that it's not the technique that we want to and i get a lot of people in in the tradition that i was sort of trained in get very attached to the technique it's like no the technique's just one of the gateways to that space that it's the space that we want to be honoring and revering which is the space of our own godly source like divine nature and it's there for everyone and everything universally but for most of us we're caught in the world of form which is thinking feeling and physicality and so we identify with those structures and forms and the field of relativity and how the world outside of us activates the sensations inside this form here and so this is the world of duality we kind of get a very addicted to because we're attracted to things that are making us feel good and we want to be repelled by the things that make us feel bad we can transcend that duality and feel that blissful nectar of being or or lovingness or spirit or source or whatever you want to call it divinity that's there all the time and we just got to find the portals that make us have the ability to experience that allow us to have the ability to experience that for me it was transcending meditations other people it might be plant medicines it might be chikung it might be even yoga you know it depends on the person i find yoga as beautiful as the sadhana sorry the asana is i find that as always was in patanjali's sutras you know the eight limbs it was really just a lead up to the stillness and the gateway to transcendence um unfortunately in our world we've put a lot of emphasis on the asana because hey we can look at hot people in the classroom and listen to the nice music and get the surroundings and we're still caught in the relativity of the yoga experience and it can get a little bit ego trap for us if we're not careful that's the only problem sometimes with the asana process yeah yeah wow but you know that that lands for me because it makes sense on if you look at my journey you know i started with hot yoga and i was like this hot yoga power teacher and that was like seven years ago and now i am i'm here doing these mudras and this you know like i'm like how did i end up like how did i end up here but it kind of makes sense that it's kind of this journey that we're working towards eventually that state of somebody or that state of bliss yeah everything in life whether it's pain or pleasure is guiding us towards samadhi which is that transcendence of the association identification of ego it's all evolution that's all guiding us it's all moving us in that direction and whatever the starting point it's to be completely non-judgmental because that you will get prompts whether painful or pleasurable to keep moving in the direction towards something that eventually helps you lose the thing that you're identified and attached to most which is your ego and your identity yeah yeah yeah so tell me about i am like totally convinced now that i want to join your meditation so do you offer them online like what do you how do you work with uh i guess tell me about the stillness project and how you work with people yeah tell you about the meditations first and then finish with the stillness project um because it's a little bit controversial the way i was trained as a teacher there was one particular way that we were to pass on the technique and it's a beautiful ancient tradition and practice that meant that the student had to come to the teacher in person sit in front of the teacher and the teacher would over a period of time usually four consecutive sessions transfer or pass on that technique which is a really beautiful and powerful way and i still think to this day it's the best way to learn the technique in the in the actual presence where there's we call darshan the sphere of influence of the teacher and for me that's how i learned and it was beautiful but that was free internet and pre-blogs and pre-youtube videos and pre-instagram and so when i started to share how this amazing technique completely changed me and my addictions to all my drugs and sex and drinking and everything um it it i got inquired from all around the world you know this is all of a sudden we had youtube videos and the internet arrived and people were saying hey can you teach me and it's like i'd love to but i can't and so there was this huge limitation in my willingness and passion to bring this to the masses and the restrictions put upon me as a teacher of the way i could teach it because that's traditionally the way it's always been taught and so this is the problem with traditions is that we kind of get trapped in the dogma of a tradition sometimes and say oh because the tradition's been done this way therefore that's the way it must be done it's like that tradition hasn't been through an internet revolution so what would the tradition do if it had we don't know so therefore we'll just stick with the old tradition so i was left with this conundrum so what i decided to do what drove me more was either one of two things the attachment to hold on to the tradition or the need of people around the world wanting to get power the access to the power of that technique so i decided to break ranks and disrupt the model and create an online 21 day meditation program and when i was creating the program i really wanted to replicate the the the intimacy of the practice and the intimacy of the teaching so it's quite an in person quite close-up video um program that you get so you get 21 days of teaching with the beach mantra and then you get 35 support videos which are general q and a's that we usually get or frequently asked questions and then what i decided to do which is always the tradition is that you allow yourself i guess to be available to your students ongoing after they learn with you and so what i decided to do is open up my weekly support to anyone that does the online program to my weekly group meditations on zoom so if anyone signs up to the online meditation program they get invited to a facebook group in my zoom course every week i do a live group meditation with my students where there's a little bit of a sat saying a little bit of knowledge a little bit of a q a and then we meditate for 20 minutes so that's all packaged up in the online program and it's on my website tom cronin meditation under meditation that's amazing so it's tom my website okay and i'll make sure i get i think i have the link from you i'll make sure to put that in but you know what you were saying about dogma and the revolution and you know shifting things to work with our modern world i i got shivers because i was thinking a lot about the people i connect with who are part of a.a and i myself i never engaged with aa but a lot of people that i work with are now becoming more open and they're not being anonymous and they're sharing on instagram and they're sharing on podcasts and that's kind of the discussion around like you know there's these rules but they were created in 1925 right and so the world has evolved and if you can touch lives by sharing your story then then why not share your story and so i think that's like a great example of you know there is a need of people around the world and if we can help them then why are we resisting that right we have to adapt to the modern world that we're a part of one of the things that i grappled with was that the underlying principles of the vedic teachings the vedic worldview was that everything must evolve and change yeah and so the idea of tradition is actually ironically contrary to the principles of vedic philosophy which says that we can't hold on to traditions we must evolve traditions we must evolve everything or else we attract shiva the destructive operator and so um yeah i just kind of grappled with you know the teachings and and what's happening in the world today and what we need in the world today and they used to always say that oh we only need it's like something like 100 000 people meditating and the world will get enlightened and like there's a hundred million people on car map at the moment and the world's not enlightened so i'm just sort of thinking maybe their formulas it's a little bit out of the mass because i don't think that's gonna actually cut it yeah well i think the population was a lot smaller back then possibly yeah maybe they were thinking about if there was 100 and 1 000 people

so tell me about the stillness project yeah i just had this vision i just wanted i just noticed that there was one missing ingredient on the planet and the people that were doing this one thing they just had better lives it's just a matter of fact they had better lives and anyone that did an asteroid monastery that was practicing stillness that's a meditation of closing the eyes sitting in stillness when we say stillness we're talking about the absence of noise absence of motion physical mental and so people say oh my practice is running or my practice is law knowing my practice is dancing well that's running law mowing and dancing it's not stillness and so they can be meditative in some respects sorry i think there's someone above me drilling so you might have a bit of background noise that's okay you know there's also construction happening here as they're getting this retreat center up and i was just thinking in my head it's so wonderful because i think sometimes people believe that you need like the perfect environment to practice meditation but it's really being able to what i always say to my students is being able to cultivate calm in the midst of chaos right and so i think it's actually meant to be that we have these distractions as we're trying to carry on this conversation yes so much so i mean just on that as a side note you know in the film the portal we have six stories that have all had crisis and they moved through that crisis using meditation but um we wanted to show we bring all those stories together over time we're sort of moving in and out of the stories and eventually we meet them all as they go into their meditation experience in different locations their favorite sort of meditation locations one of them we we filmed with meditating on a train in philadelphia and which is where i used to meditate a lot coming home from work you know i'd come home from work and sit on the train and meditate and we really wanted to show the accessibility of meditation that it doesn't have to be on a you know your tibetan cushion with your you know incense and bowls all around you and your you know your altar it can be just literally in a parked car on a train station or in a train so um yeah definitely and this is i guess part of coming back to then the stillness project i wanted to show the power of stillness and how it's such an important part of our life even more so than ever because of phones and our ability to constantly be distracted even when we're sitting on the toilet when we're on the bus when we're um at the beach you know we just find that the phone has now grabbed our attention and hijacked it so aggressively that we've really um lost our capacity to be and to simply sit and so meditation is a structured framework that allows us to bring those gaps back into our day and and the harmony and the bliss and the joy and the love that uh opens up from that practice is so important so that's some i guess my motivation between behind the stillness project it's amazing and i have a question for you if anyone is totally brand new to meditation and they want to start a meditation practice how would you recommend they go about that tricky question i get this asked a lot um you know i could say i could say just go onto youtube and you'll find some free meditations and um you know that's a really nice starting point i'll go on to your iphone you know app store and just search meditations and you'll find a plethora you'll be so overwhelmed with how many choices you can make by all means do research find a technique that you resonate with there are a number of different ways you can meditate find a technique that you resonate with and within that technique find a teacher that you resonate with definitely find a teacher because you're going to need ongoing support and guidance when you start meditating the whole point of meditating is that things will change and some of those changes will be a little bit confusing they might be a little bit bewildering they might be uncomfortable and you're going to need some support because you're entering into an unknown territory it's uncharted waters when you start meditating and so what was really critical and i'm so blessed to have found this tradition that emphasized the importance of having the guru or teacher to guide and support us along the way and that's why i offer ongoing support every week for my students they don't have to pay for that it's part of their program and i sit there every week and i provide ongoing support i've been doing that for 10 years and it's such an integral part of the process so my recommendation is find a technique that you resonate with for me personally this is purely subjective so it's not too um to superiorize is that right superiorized a meditation practice it was just one that i found resonated most with me i really honor respect all techniques but um i like the mantra based meditations that would take you into transcendence that's transcendental meditation or vedic meditation or primordial sound technique or the art of living they all use those beach mantras for transcendence um but and and then from there you know it's just just do do what you think is going to work you want to make sure you're getting benefits so for me twice a day is what i'd recommend once in the morning once in the afternoon to offset the level of nervous system overwhelm and mental stimulation that we're going through in the world today yeah and you know what i think it totally as you say like it depends on the person there's so many different practices i myself offer so i do guided visualization meditations that often follow like a narrative or a story and i wonder if i mean obviously my practice is evolving now as i'm getting in interested in these mantras and chanting and you know following along with the chakra system but i wonder if the visualizations perhaps were like a really good foot in the door you know a really accessible kind of beginners sort of tool for meditation to then lead kind of like the same thing we talked about earlier of like leading the way from the asana practice all the way to you know the pranayama the meditation and so it's it's kind of like a a journey for each individual of like what is accessible to meet them where they're at to then get to to discover the right practice for them i don't know if that makes sense yeah absolutely yeah because they're going to be guided anyway you know if they start off with a really basic generic practice that's it's nice but it's not really they'll just move on anyway they'll find the next thing and the next thing so um that's why i've never you know some of my colleagues kind of really push this is the right one this is the best one it's like let them find their way you know they'll find their way and it's not right like there's only one path to the absolute it's the absolute is the absolute it's there anyway it's just no matter which path you want to take which way do you want to go to find that so um i'm just very more a lot very accepting of every path and yeah we'll get there i love that so before the conversation started you and i were chatting and you mentioned that you had retreats coming up for next year so tell me what types of programs you have coming up and what things people could join you in yeah for me the retreats is i i out of all the things that i do you know i've got film and app and you know coaching programs and everything but the most impacting thing that i can do to transform the person's life is our retreats particularly our longer retreats like seven day retreats um we go through a particular process on those retreats it's it's called rounding and it's a very powerful technique of four limbs of potentially sutras which is the uh the yoga asana some breath work some transcending meditation in shavasana and we'll do multiple rounds in a day along with some workshops and some breakthrough sessions so we're really going through a very holistic transformational alchemized process that sees people completely change from one to the retreat to the other so next year we'll be we've had you know lockdowns for two years almost now without being able to travel so our retreats have been put on hold so we're really hoping that 2022 they come back in a big way so we've got ideally we've got one in byron bay in australia in april uh we've got a one day one coming up in january just here in sydney and then we've got uh hopefully dubai greece and bali happening throughout the year as well amazing oh that's incredible i would love to come i'm gonna check out the dates yeah awesome because i do i do feel that everyone you know that you meet along the journey you meet them for a reason and i actually have a psychic who keeps saying like you know you need to be looking for a guru right now and it's just so funny the way everything aligned with you know this podcast interviewing being postponed and then me exploring this kind of meditation yesterday and then meeting you today so i am definitely curious about your retreats and i'll definitely be looking into them yeah we'd love to see you there be amazing particularly it's about 45 minutes out of bali so it's out of woolwood so it's a beautiful place that we hold there and treat up up in the mountains what's it called uh it's called baghdati okay cool yeah amazing perfect so is there anything else that you want to say to wrap up and feel complete i guess just a final closing point is that i'm sure many of the people listening uh like all of us uh myself include you know i'm on the journey with all of you so like i'm excluded from this is that the journey is an arduous and sometimes tiring and overwhelming process uh life itself is quite hard at times and so at times we can feel lost we can feel unsupported we can feel lonely we can feel confused but what what supports us through that process is a deep sense of knowing that every experience that we're going through is part of this beautiful guiding intelligence that totally totally loves us that is supporting us and moving us forward even though it doesn't feel comfortable and the analogy i like to use is like little johnny when he's five years older than sticking that knife in the socket and mom says hey i love you but please don't do that because i don't want you to get hurt if johnny keeps doing it eventually mom's gonna get really cranky and he might even get disciplined you know locked in his room or slept on the wrist or something taken off him as some form of karmic response to let him know that there's a better way to live your life and this beautiful intelligence this loving parental maternal force is actually always carrying us on this beautiful carpet ride through life and sometimes we can really lose faith in that and really lose sight of that but um if we can re-correct our intellect it's called prague the mistake of the intellect we can correct that and go oh how is this guiding me and which way is it guiding me and and you'll find that no matter what you'll continue to move forward it'll be uh and this is what it is it's moving us forward towards the light to the bliss to the love which is our divine quality amazing oh tom thank you so much this was such an incredible interview i really feel like i gained a lot of insight and i really appreciate your time uh and your presence here so thank you so much for sharing your story that's great to be here it's lovely to share space with you and i'm sure we will connect again soon either virtually or in real life absolutely all right take care see you now

Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of "Sober Yoga Girl" with Alex McRobs. I am so, so grateful for every one of you. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next one and leave a review before you go. See you soon. Bye.