Meditation For The Modern Minds In A Disconnected World With Pandit Dasa

The Most Important Conversations | Pandit Dasa | Meditation

Feeling like you’re constantly on edge? Like the world’s a never-ending to-do list and your mind’s a hamster wheel? In this episode, we explore the power of meditation to find inner peace and focus with mindfulness expert Pandit Dasa. Chad Lefevre and September Dohrmann discuss the essence of meditation with Pandit, who shares his journey from a bustling family business in Los Angeles to a monastic life in India and New York. Discover how meditation can transform your mind into your best ally, combating negative thoughts and promoting mental health. From personal anecdotes to practical tips, Pandit reveals how mindfulness can address modern societal issues like loneliness and family disconnection. Join us for an enlightening discussion that promises to leave you inspired and equipped to embrace a more mindful, connected life. Don’t miss out on this powerful conversation that bridges ancient wisdom with contemporary challenges.

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Meditation For The Modern Minds In A Disconnected World With Pandit Dasa

I’m happy to have my friend and our dear guest, Pandit Dasa, who is a leader in the world of meditation, mindfulness, and stress management. We’re going to be getting into that. Pandit, welcome to the show.

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me on the show.

If you folks are wondering why I look like I’m backstage at a Broadway show, it’s because I’m overseas. I’m doing this very early from my hotel room, which you’ll be seeing some episodes from. Bear with us in that context. Pandit, let’s dig into it. First, let’s not assume everyone in the world knows about meditation, even though almost everyone in the world knows about meditation. There might be a few hiding out there who are like, “What is this thing?” 

Let’s talk about that first. What is meditation? Also, use that as an opportunity to dig in a little bit about your past so they get an understanding about how you arrived in this area, focus on this area of expertise, and why you’re one of the foremost authorities, I believe. That’s me saying that about you. You have to say it about yourself in the world about this. Let’s start. What is meditation? How did you get into this work? I want to dig into some big issues that are societal issues and why this is so important.

Meditation

There are many definitions and takes on what meditation is. I’ll share with you my own personal take and definition of what meditation is. I feel that meditation is something that is used to strengthen and focus the mind. I’ll talk about my story in a little bit but when I lived as a monk for many years, I remember this one passage from a text that I was reading. It said, “The mind can become your best friend or your worst enemy.”

At any given moment, we have the choice to decide. We get to choose whether we’re going to let the mind become our best friend or our worst enemy. The way it’s our worst enemy, we already know it. It comes up with false assumptions about other people’s character. We might see someone across the street behaving in a certain way. We may come up with an entire narrative about who this person is and why they’re acting the way they’re acting. Usually, it’s the worst case scenario.

We know nothing about them. Who knows what we saw but we created a whole image about them or we created a worst-case scenario about meditating on negative things that have happened to us in the past. Replaying or regurgitating old things that are completely meaningless to me now, from many years ago recalling and replaying over and over again until we depress ourselves or lose sleep or get in complete anxiety, or when we come up with the worst-case scenarios about the future.

What if I lose my job? How am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to support my family? You haven’t lost your job yet. What if this project doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to? What’s going to happen then? What’s going to happen after that? That hasn’t happened. We need to do all of this. I feel that meditation, if practiced properly under the guidance of a good teacher can help us not get sidetracked and distracted into these negative spaces of the past and the future and helps us stay more present.

It’s like taking your mind to the gym and giving it a good healthy workout to purge the negativity. Most of our life, all of our life, the only emphasis that’s been placed upon our health is the emphasis on physical health. In school, we have PE, Physical Education, and that’s it. You go out and play sports. You run track and you do calisthenics. That’s what you need for your health and well-being but there’s no training or teaching on mental health or meditation.

The body is visible and the mind is not. Therefore, the mind gets forgotten. Meditation is like calisthenics for your mind. It’s like taking the mind to the gym. It’s jogging for the mind. While I agree that things like jogging and exercise are great for the mind, great refreshers for the mind. However, like pull-ups work a certain muscle and push-ups work a certain muscle and certain weightlifting exercises work certain specific muscles. Meditation is a specific exercise that works the mind. Not your biceps, triceps, calves, and hamstrings. It’s specifically for the mind.

That’s my definition of meditation of what it is. As we practice that, being in the present, learning to distance ourselves from negativities and recognizing what is negative. We can be more present. When we’re more present then we’re more self-aware of ourselves, what my needs are, what my physical, mental and emotional needs are. A lot of times, we’re not in touch with that. We’re on a mission to go and succeed and promotions. We are out of touch.

When we are present, we are more in touch with ourselves like, “I’m anxious. I’m exhausted. I need to rest. I need to take it easy. Maybe I need to delay this meeting.” We’re not in touch with ourselves. When we’re more present with ourselves so we can improve our health, we can have better dialogue with other people that we’re interacting with. Whether it’s work or personal life. We can also get more done in the workplace. Those are some short thoughts on meditation. I feel like I could talk about how I got into it. I don’t know if you want me to expand on anything that I said.

Monastic Life

You’ve covered a lot of things that I want to come back to. There’s a lot of little points in there that are worth drilling into. Let’s give our readers and viewers a little bit of context and sense about your background and how you got into this area of expertise. You drifted a little bit there. You were a monk for how many years? Not many people were monks for many years.

Most people think of a monk, they think of someone meditating at the top of a mountain, completely extricated from society and removed from society. Your story is a little bit different than that. There’s some similarities, but you didn’t go to the top of a mountain for many years. Tell us about your story as a monk.

I was a monk in a small village, also known as the East Village in New York City. It is a village and I was a monk in a village. It was a very interesting village with nightclubs and bars and things around it. I got introduced to meditation.

My first very first introduction was through my parents. We’re from India and meditation is part of the culture or was during their generation like spiritual meditation and religious meditation. I would see them doing meditation on almost a regular basis for 5 minutes or 10 minutes. I grew up seeing it. It wasn’t something I learned at a yoga studio. I saw it at home. I grew up in LA. My parents migrated from India to the US in 1980.

All my life, I’ve seen meditation happen my entire life. They started off with pretty much nothing. It was a very simple and very humble beginning. One of the first things they did was they set up a small shop on the boardwalk of Venice Beach, California. I think you know Venice Beach pretty well. They had one of those shops on that boardwalk right across those basketball courts where the movie was White Men Can’t Jump. In the early ‘80s, they had a booth right across that. I was like seven years old then. I’m playing basketball and exploring America and what Venice Beach had to offer a seven year old, which is a lot. Maybe a little too much.

Have you ever seen the bird lady? There’s a woman who walks around with a bird cage on her head and birds in it.

I’m not sure but I do remember the guy who used to rollerblade with a big turbine on top.

It’s a very eccentric place. Very fun to be.

To be seven years old and getting exposed to that, it was pretty interesting. My parents were working seven days a week to put food on the table. They did that for like 7 or 8 years with a lot of hard work and some luck. They established a multimillion-dollar jewelry business. I know that’s like a boom. In years, they had that success. From nothing to that. Built a huge house on the hills of Los Angeles and we were living great, living the American dream, the 90210 lifestyle.

Things were great for a while. In the early 1990s, my parents’ jewelry factory caught fire and burnt down. We ended up losing everything going pretty much bankrupt. At that time, my dad decided to explore new business opportunities and he flew off to post-communist Bulgaria. Bulgaria had just come out of communism. This is in ’92 or ‘93. He did that because there’s a very big market to supply. He could import things from India and sell them there.

We left LA behind for good. We’re living in post-communist Bulgaria now, where no one’s like anything. Very different from Venice Beach but it can be any more different. Everything on TV was in Bulgarian and Russian. Movies were like five years old because they started getting American movies in and everything was old. My entire social life came to a complete halt. I was experiencing culture shock for the second time in my life. First we came to America then went to Bulgaria and our financial life had turned upside down.

In every way, my life had turned upside down. It was a very difficult time. That was the first time I began to take meditation seriously because I was going through so much. I needed something to keep me grounded and focused. I turned to it in a serious way. There was a desperation behind which I was practicing. It’s almost like, if you like to lose this. Imagine the desperation you had to look for it. It was that desperation.

I was looking for myself and figuring out what just happened, like how do we go from being super rich in LA to living in a one-bedroom apartment. Going from a six-bedroom house with a pool and a jacuzzi to a one apartment in Bulgaria, post-community area. It wasn’t like even in Europe. Led to a lot of meditation. We spent two and a half years there and came back to the US. This time to the East Coast.

In 1999, I decided I’m going to take a little break. I went off to live in a monastery in Mumbai, India. A lot more happened in between but just fast forwarding. I went there with 40 monks. Everybody sleeps on a hardwood floor. We wake up at 4:00 in the morning and meditate for several hours a day. I’m loving it. I didn’t think I would survive that lifestyle shift. It was a nice gradual downward shift from LA to Bulgaria to the monastery.

I’m meditating for hours a day and the rest of the day is spent serving one another, serving the community. It was a life of simplicity, humility, and service. I spent six months in India and a few different monasteries came back and moved into a monastery in Manhattan in New York City on the Lower East Side. I thought I’d spend maybe 6 months or 7 months or maybe a year there. Ended up spending a total of fifteen years as a monk in New York.

Right across the street, there was like a deli. There was an underground nightclub and a funeral home. Right next to us was a tattoo shop and a few bars. That’s the environment living as a monk in. I left Elastic Life years ago to speak in corporations on mindful leadership, workplace culture, and mental health. Also, one last thing. During the time I was a monk, I was doing a lot of lecturing and speaking on college campuses, specifically in New York, Columbia, New York University, then gradually started traveling all over the country speaking on a lot of college campuses everywhere.

Mental Health Crisis

Very good. Fascinating story. Someone who spent many years as a monk meditating and being of service. You bring an enormous amount of credibility to the customers and the clients that you work with. Let’s turn to some of that now because obviously there’s a need, which is why you’ve been very busy. I noticed it was in 2022, in USA Today, you were noted as one of the most in demand or not be in most in demand speaker, according to USA Today in your category.

This is because there’s something bubbling under the surface here. Your topic of what you’re talking about, teaching about, and working with your clients around is in demand. It seems that there’s a certain level with some of the work that’s going on with Gabor Maté now and being quite popular in the media addressing things like trauma. It seems like there’s a trauma happening under the surface of society on a mass scale.

You’re probably seeing it with the clients that you work with. What do you think that trauma or those traumas are that are leading to what I would call mental health? First of all, I’m not a fan of everything’s a crisis and a mental health issue as well that we relate to everything through the lens of crisis because a lot of what happens in life is just life. I do believe on the mental health side of things. We are approaching something that might legitimately be called a crisis situation.

You look at any given day in the news cycle. Not that the news is an accurate reflection of what’s going on in the day-to-day lives of people that happens to be very heightened and spotlights for ratings purposes. I do think we have school shootings all the time. We have this opioid epidemic. People are obviously trying to escape something in their life.

There is the great resignation or the slow resignation or whatever it was called after COVID. People are saying, “This is not what I’m looking for. There’s no value in the 9:00 to 5:00 grind.” It seems like the world is in flux. What are you seeing? What are you experiencing with your customers and the people you’re relating to then we’ll bring it back to meditation.

I don’t know where to start answering and how to start answering that. There’s so much there. This mental health crisis isn’t a recent thing. It’s been built up and COVID brought it to a head and showed it to us. Our lifestyles for a long time have been building up to this. I would say that from a society perspective. Our family values have been a little distorted. Most of us are mainly struggling from loneliness to some degree or another and a lack of satisfying and meaningful relationships.

Most of us are mainly struggling from loneliness to some degree or another and a lack of satisfying and meaningful relationships.

That could be from relationships with our parents. It starts there. All our future relationships are determined by our relationships with our parents. That’s the foundation. If that’s not good, and too often, parents are working. They’re so busy. They don’t have time to raise the kids. Someone else is raising the kids.

Again, not to pass judgment, but that’s what happens when a kid can’t be raised by their own mom and dad. The two people who will love it more than anyone else on the planet because everyone else can care for the child, but the love, the outpouring when you see your child is a very different experience. I do think that it starts from there.

When I was giving talks at Columbia University as a monk to the Upper West Side, the affluent area. You can see a lot of nannies walking and taking care of all these kids. I was like, “This is what’s happening here. This is what’s going on.” You see them everywhere and it’s unfortunate. When we are dissatisfied in our heart from our relationship with our parents or family. If that spills over onto our relationship with our spouse, that’s going to impact our relationship with our kids.

I feel a majority of the stress that we experience is coming from a disconnect that we have in our personal relationships and that will affect our relationships we have with our colleagues because that’s the foundation and the model that we’ve experienced in relationships. If you want to be similar, that’s what’s going to come out. What’s inside of the heart will show up in every aspect of our life. When there is a lack of satisfaction in our relationship, when we don’t have a loving, caring, and trusting relationship, that is when we turn toward alcohol and drugs and other habits that are not so healthy for our body and our mental health.

That’s been my meditation. Why are we where we’re at now? I have to boil it down ultimately to our relationships that we’ve had in our home with our parents and our siblings, which is moving with us because each level of dissatisfaction keeps adding to the heart and how much of it can you experience in the heart, the loneliness, dissatisfaction, lack of care and love and attention.

Before, you needed some substance to fill that gap. That gap never gets filled by substances or a lot of people turn over work. Dive into their work to ignore and avoid that pain. You need to be absorbed in something. Disassociate and disconnect from that, to disconnect from the pain but you never disconnect from the pain. You ignore it but it’s still there then we work in an unhealthy manner that’s very stressful for us. We place that stress, anxiety, and that bitterness onto our colleagues.

If there wasn’t trust at home, how is there going to be trust in the workplace? You can have a toxic workplace. If several people are in there that are coming from families that maybe there wasn’t a lot of love shared. That’s got to show up in the workplace. Now you have an interesting environment. I’m not saying every workplace is like that and everyone is like this but this is America. Everyone’s career-driven. Both parents are working. Most people are having to work. To answer your question, I have to answer in a more societal perspective. I’ve been meditating on these things and I’m like, “That’s what it is ultimately.”

September, I want to invite you to jump in here with a question or something that’s on your mind. What I want to avoid is that we live in a society as well that is always looking for an overly simplified hill or some simple fix resolution that’s going to take our pain away. We can’t go back in time and erase the sources of trauma that have already occurred.

Those have already occurred in people’s lives. Now, it’s how do we help them move through the trauma, move through the repressed emotions around those traumas that they’ve spent years repressing in order to not deal with it, or it’s trying to escape that trauma. We have to address the root causes, which I agree make a lot of sense, the disconnectedness we feel.

I’m in Bali and it doesn’t mean there aren’t other places in the world that are equal to what I’m about to say, but I have not experienced a place where the people are so happy, at peace, and gracious. It’s almost otherworldly. Coming from North America, the United States. It feels weird. They’re so happy. I’m enjoying it.

We have a driver who’s driving us around to different places and we’ve grown to enjoy him. We ask him lots of questions. The first few days we’re here was Balinese New Year and he invited random strangers, “Come to my village. We’re having a big New Year’s thing.” I go there and I realize that they’re connected as a society. Not just within his family, but between families and within the community. There’s a sense of connectedness.

They have mobile phones here, but do you know what I don’t notice? I don’t notice them obsessively staring at it when they’re going about their life. Instead, they’re out, talking, and enjoying each other’s company. They’re not driven by the ambition that we have in the West and where we exhaust ourselves to the point where we’re so depleted of energy. We need to escape our phones. You talk about the connectedness which starts at the family root but then even between families and within the community. It seems like that disconnectedness from each other is a big source of what’s led to this moment that we’re talking about.

Have you heard of the Blue Zones?

Yes.

The main reason that they live that long is that there’s people checking on them, the elderly. There’s a community atmosphere and environment that’s there. There’s several blue zones around the world. They care for each other. Check in on each other because loneliness is like a massive killer, so just to reduce and remove that. It further proves the point that’s what’s lacking in a lot of societies.

September, what’s on your mind?

I want to back up a second, Pandit, you were talking about it beginning at home. I agreed with you and I kept trying to go, “Yes,” but then it always went, “Lead you back to home.” Let’s say somebody was bullied in grade school, that’s traumatizing. If you have the right home environment, you can go to your people or your family and say, “This is happening,” and they’ll empower you and care for you.

It’s my observation that our mental health issues lie with those that are in denial of their trauma responses first. It’s simple as a trauma response. If a partner says, “I want to bring something to your attention.” Their reaction is to denial and deflect. You can’t go anywhere with somebody who’s not aware that they need to have these conversations. They’re not aware of how trauma responses show up. They’re not aware of what that prevents in terms of connection with another person on a deeper level.

The Most Important Conversations | Pandit Dasa | Meditation

It’s an interesting idea, Chad. You were talking about people who says, “We need to help them through their trauma and help them move through.” What do we do about the people that are either in denial? Maybe they don’t have enough self-awareness to know that something’s going on inside? They need some help. I’m curious about that conversation because you can’t help somebody unless they want help. It’s like catch 22.

It is and the popular adage, you can take a horse to water but you can’t make a drink. That is true for us. If someone doesn’t want to get help, they want to brush because it’s too painful to face that trauma. In order to heal it, you have to face it and to some degree relive it and walk through it, those muddy waters so to speak.

For those who don’t want to, there’s not much you can do. They’re choosing to live their life that way and there’s only so much we can do. We can try as a friend or as a family member, encourage them. That’s all we can do. Also, in the home, as you said, some folks may be like, “That’s what happened at school? Toughen up. Be a man. Next time punch him in the face.” Turn our kid into a bully too now.

You may also have parents who don’t know how to properly inform, educate, and help their kids talk through what they experienced. They don’t know. We are living in that society and culture where maybe a lot of us don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve been guilty of it too, if someone comes to me with something, I start trying to solve their problem. We’re trying to provide solutions but that’s not what that person needs. Neither am I qualified to provide those solutions.

You go to a friend and the friend starts to solve their problem. What do they know? Unless they’re a major in psychology. They studied it for years and had patients. Even if you are a psychology major, you just studied a couple of books. It doesn’t mean much yet. Most of us aren’t. We have to take responsibility for our own situation. When I was talking about our society where parents are working, I was also a product of that.

Ultimately, we have to take responsibility for our own situation.

My parents came all over us. Struggling immigrants. They were working to put food on the table. There was times in this country where we didn’t have enough money for food, basically. It got that bad. When you get that bad, all you do is work 7 days a week, 14 to 16 hours a day. You never wanted to experience that. I see that out of necessity, they had to do that. I also felt that. I grew up without having that.

In my family, a lot of Asian cultures don’t talk about traumas. You like, “We don’t talk about it. We keep moving forward. It’ll go away.” That is a challenge, but still, my point is it starts at home. We have to make a decision to heal ourselves through meditation, yoga, therapy, and different techniques. There’s lots of practices that we can do to heal ourselves. That’s up to us to make that informed decision that I need to heal myself for myself.

Now you’re talking about a level of self-awareness that has to be in store. We talk a lot about self-awareness. I believe that’s where it starts. We grow up in our homes. Our brain is being programmed at 0 to 12 age and the program is in the hardwiring and all of this. At some point, we become adults. We have to take responsibility for our own selves and I find that to be not as fluid as I would like to see it in the world.

The Stress Relief Valve

Bringing it back to meditation, where meditation can almost be like a stress-release valve or like hitting the pause button. You don’t even need to know that you have trauma. You may be in denial that you have trauma. You may not understand the root of the trauma. Pandit, it’s a practice. This is where meditation can serve people quite powerfully, where you don’t have to know all of that just yet. Through meditation, what you’re doing is silencing your mind, quieting the body, and bringing yourself into a state, coming back to what you were saying, September, where self-awareness can start to show up.

In other words, I don’t want people to think that until I have this self-awareness, I have a problem then meditations of no use for me. You don’t have to have all the answers before you start meditation. On the contrary, it’s the flip. It may be that someone who’s reading or watching, you may have stress or things going on in your life. You may not be able to pinpoint the root. You may not understand the trauma of where it started.

That’s not necessary for you to start to make a change in your life. Pandit, I’m curious what you think about meditation even if you don’t know why you’re meditating. You just know that there’s things in your life that don’t feel good. Maybe you’re not feeling happy or whatever is going on. Starting meditation creates an opening and an opportunity for that stuff to reveal so that you can address it and you can develop self-awareness. You can take more proactive action. I don’t think meditation is the panacea solution but it is the crack in the door of the mind that allows people to start having a different level of awareness of self and others. What are your thoughts on that?

The Most Important Conversations | Pandit Dasa | Meditation

When we take a certain medicine, we don’t understand how all the chemicals in that medicine are going to take away my headache or take away my pain or reduce my fever. We don’t have to understand all the intricacies of meditation. When you take it, it works. It’s like that. I have this happen. It’s interesting, it happens when I’m speaking at a conference. It could be bankers, sales professionals, or HR people.

At the end of my talks, I give a five minute meditation. I tell everybody to close their eyes. It could be 100 people in the audience or maybe a thousand people. I have them go through some breathing and focusing exercises. I have men and women come up to me afterward and say, “I got emotional during that five-minute session. I felt tears coming down my cheeks. I don’t know what happened there.” I’m like, “One thing that happened is I helped you shut down the apps in your mind. I helped you close that down and helped you to some degree get in touch with what’s going on in your life. Maybe what was going on was a little painful. Somehow you got in touch with it and it released some emotions.”

If we can understand that I as a human being need to give myself some time of quiet and silence and just breathing. If you’ve driven your car for a very long period of time, what do you do? You shut off the engine and let the thing cool down. The fan turns on and starts to cool down. Our body and mind aren’t that different. After working it so much, after going through speed bumps in life, turns, and curves that we don’t expect. Maybe hitting some brick walls or having some accident. You need to give this vehicle a break.

With meditation, we’re giving it a break so everything can start to settle. Let the dust settle. We keep throwing up more dust because we feel like this is how it needs to be. We need to be dusty all the time, but we need to let the dust settle. Otherwise, there’s no clarity. Too much dust, you can’t even see where you’re going. What’s your purpose?

That’s what it breaks down to. We lose our purpose in life. We think our purpose is money. We forget what our actual purpose is and our soul is starved of love, affection, and care because we’re moving further away from ourselves. This keeps us out of touch with ourselves because now, we can scroll and look at all the news outlets. All the little videos and funny videos and never stop to say, “What’s going on with me?”

If we can acknowledge that and not think of meditation as some magical or woo-woo or hippie-dippy thing. I’m basically closing the apps on my smart device. That’s what meditation is going to do. When I close out the apps, my device will work better. If you have too many apps, it’ll slow down. You close them out. It works better. This is a smart device and meditation is helping us close the apps so we can be more focused, present and relaxed.

I heard Jerry Seinfeld one time. He does transcendental meditation every day. He said the metaphor is the equivalent of we’ve all had the experience with our smartphones. If you don’t power down your smartphone for too long, eventually you have so many apps open. I like the metaphor you’re using there. It starts getting sluggish and slow. It’s not working very well. He liked to power his smartphone down and turn it back on. Everything works better from that place.

The other thing that occurs to me, I read this stat. It’s somewhere around 90% of Americans are coffee drinkers. It’s very large. We are a caffeinated society. When you think about what caffeine does because I’ve studied this stuff on the health and wellness side for years now. It activates the adrenal glands. Immediately when you drink caffeine, your adrenal glands are turned on. Your adrenal glands produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is useful to the body when we’re in fight-or-flight mode or when we need to activate all of our body in a hyperactivated state to pay attention to what’s going on, a danger, a threat, or something out there I need to pay attention to.

It’s not supposed to be on all the time. Think about it. I said this to a friend. I’m not against drinking coffee, incidentally. Don’t hear this as you should never. Think about what it’s doing. In the morning, you’ve come up from a very restful REM sleep. Your body’s at rest, parasympathetic nervous system and the first thing you do is you go pour that cup of adrenaline pumping caffeine in your system.

It’s the equivalent of getting out of bed and running into a cage with a bunch of tigers. It’s that dramatic because the fear response is bang. I said to my friend one time, “You’re pouring a cup of fear down your throat every morning.” He’s like, “I never thought of it like that,” and he stopped drinking coffee. Why does this matter?

What you’re talking about with meditation is it allows the parasympathetic nervous system. It allows the vagus nerve. These elements turn on in our body that put us in a state where we can take a step back and recalibrate like you’re talking about. It’s very difficult to do that as a culture when the first thing we’re doing is reaching for the adrenaline pumping caffeine every day.

It’s almost like we’re so wired as a culture for anything not relaxing and not reflective. When you’re in an adrenaline state, in a sympathetic nervous system state, our brain is wired to repress. Don’t worry about that stuff because the fear response is triggering what’s in front of us. We’re almost conditioned the way we’ve structured our society to only be paying attention to the next challenge in front of us and not shutting down and taking time for yourself to recalibrate.

One of the prerequisites to being in the monastery was that we weren’t taking any caffeinated substances. I haven’t had any caffeine for many years. I’ve had while you’re on the road but on a regular basis. I’ve probably had five bottles or cups of coffee in the last 25 years. It’s usually because I ask for a decaf and they probably put caffeine in them. I’m feeling a little rubbed up. I’m like, “Why am I not sleeping?” I’m like, “That was probably not decaf.” That’s a great point.

We take that fear and anxiety into the workplace. That all comes out to our colleagues or our clients that you’re dealing with. All you need maybe is a good night’s sleep. A proper good night of 7 to 8 hours of sleep, or maybe 6 to 8 hours. It’s different for everyone. Getting a good restful night’s sleep and maybe a little nap during the day.

In the monastery, we had the luxury of taking a 15 to 20 minute nap in the middle of the day. It refreshes your brain like anything. For me, I got a nap time. I’m working from home, which is great. I can take that if I need to because at certain points, the brain’s shutting down. I can’t do anything. I’m dropping me for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meditation is like a natural caffeine for the mind and for the brain. It’s a little practice but it is. When you take very deep breaths, it re-energizes you. Take a moment, whoever’s reading, think about how deep your breath is. It’s not even deep. It’s like we’re getting by. Compare that like a full two seconds of inhalation. That’s like 5 or 10 times the amount of oxygen that we are taking. What is that oxygen going to do to your body and brain? A lot.

Meditation is a natural caffeine for the mind, for the brain.

A Moment Of Self-Awareness

As a monk, did they train you how to breathe deep consistently all the time? When you’re going about your day, are you deep breathing like that all the time?

It’s only at focused times. I was doing a lot of mantra meditation like words and audible things. The deep breathing was a small part. I started doing that later on my own. I do it throughout the day. You take a minute or two. I tell people, you don’t have to go 15 or 20 minutes. You can take a minute between your work day.

If you just finished a crazy meeting and you’re stressed. Take 1 to 2 minutes after that meeting before you go into another meeting and take ten deep breaths. Flush it out then go talk to the client or your colleague or whoever it is that you’re going to talk to. Why not take a couple of minutes to decompress before you interact with your family at the end of the day? Practical ways to use it during the workday. That’s what I try to teach.

That’s how we create a workplace culture. Before starting a meeting, the team lead can say, “Let’s take a moment and take ten deep breaths.” I know it may sound a little weird, like, “What are we talking about here? Ten breaths? No, let’s get into it.” No, let’s not. Let’s take a moment. Clear your mind. Feel grateful for things that are happening in your life then let’s begin the meeting from that positive space. It’s not as complicated as people think it is. It is relevant for the workplace. It’s necessary in the workplace.

What you’re doing there without having to over complicate it, I like the way you’re advising people on that. Essentially, what you’re saying is, in other words, take a moment for self-awareness. Create a transition space for yourself and others before you dive into the next thing. Take that pause so you can center yourself and go into that experience with some self-awareness.

There’s no other way. If you had an intense meeting, you’re carrying a ton of baggage into the next meeting. In the beginning, you can’t even fully hear what that person’s saying because your brain is still processing. Let’s say I just had a heavy lunch. An hour later, I’m like, “Let me have a full meal again. Let me do that all over again.”

We don’t think that the mind has a capacity. It has a capacity 100% and we’re filling it up depending on how crazy that meeting was. If we don’t take time to digest some of that by taking a quick walk around the block or cutting it ten minutes before so you have a ten minutes gap for yourself. During those ten minutes, you don’t like to do Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok or whatever. Release your mind. Go look at the sky. Take a few deep breaths. Listen to some calming music, then go into the next thing.

You can’t just keep filling up your belly and expect to have a healthy end of the day as a good sleep. You’re not. We can’t expect to be healthy if you keep bombarding ourselves and don’t give all my time to release some of that energy, good or bad. Whatever it is. We need to release it all before we go to the next one. The clearer it is, the better and more productive our interactions are going to be.

In TMIC, we talk about our vision of reconnecting people to themselves, to each other and to nature. One of the things that you’re reminding me of is what you’re saying is reconnect to your own nature. We become so disconnected from not just nature outside but our own nature and what our own nature needs and requires. It needs those resets, moments of relaxation, and moments for self-awareness to declutter the mind. The smartphone for all the good things it’s brought has also been one of the most detrimental and mental health devices ever created combined with social media. It’s been unbelievable.

No doubt. I’m as glued to this thing as pretty much anyone else. I see it like, if this wasn’t there, I know I would be so much more present with everyone, especially my family. It’s an interesting debate. Did it do more bad than good? It’s a hard debate. It’s a hard discussion to have. On a mental health level, on that level, probably it did more harm than it’s doing good. In terms of information, being educated and informed about a gazillion things, it’s probably done some good. At the same time, you get all kinds of weird information that you believe is true, which may not be true. Overall, it’s an interesting conversation that we’ll be having for the next few hundred years.

In retrospect. September, I want to give you the last question before we start to transition our conversation into closing.

I don’t have a question, Pandit. However, I want to thank you for the insight that our mind has capacity. I know it sounds obvious once you say it out loud, but it provides a lot of kindness to yourself. When you remember that our mind has a capacity and just because you feel overwhelmed doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that your brain and your mind needs a break for a moment.

I’ll step outside and stand in nature for a moment. That sheds off the fatigue, especially standing in front of the computer all day. There’s a lot of technology fatigue coming off the technology. Standing outside and shedding that energy in nature feels pleasant. It’s another layer of self-compassion that when you said that it clicked something for me. I appreciate that. Thank you.

Thank you.

Pandit, thank you so much for your time, your insights and your wisdom. I’m glad we were able to dig in and wrestle. I hope it was a little outside of the conventional conversation you typically have. We don’t like to mince words here. We like to get right into it.

More Of Pandit

We had a chance to dive in a little bit deeper, which I enjoyed that conversation. If it’s okay, can I show my copy of my book here?

Please, go ahead.

It talks a lot about what I said, Mindfulness For the Wandering Mind. It was released by Wiley Publishing in August. I have a writing exercise at the end of each chapter so we can stop and reflect. Again, the book is called Life-Changing Tools for Managing Stress and Improving Mental Health At Work and In Life. It covers everything that we talked about and more. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and everywhere else you can get a book.

I also know that as a speaker, as someone who’s brought in by companies to assist with this, if there’s any readers or viewers who want to be in touch with you, book you for maybe their company or retreat or something that they’re doing. How do they get in touch with you?

My website is the best way, PanditDasa.com and with the same thing, you can look me up on LinkedIn as well. My profile is there. I check both things pretty regularly. You can reach out to me in that way.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time and helping to educate us on the power of meditation and the need of meditation in this time. It’s such a useful tool. I know in our group, the most important conversations our team meets are in the mornings. We’ve been doing 30-minute meditations now for months straight. It makes a world of difference and to be able to not be overcome and overwhelmed by this frenetic crazy society that we’ve created for ourselves.

We created it for ourselves. We don’t like it. If it’s not working for us, we have to take actions on an individual and a collective level to change it and to transform it. Meditation is a great start to that process. Thank you again for your time. We hope to see you and hear from you again. Anyone who wants to connect with Pandit, please go to his website, PanditDasa.com. Check out his books on Amazon and consider having him as a keynote at your retreat or bring him in as a speaker for your company. You won’t be disappointed. Your company will only thrive as a result.

Thank you, Chad and September. Wonderful being on your show.

 

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