jack kornfield tim ferriss covid-19 coronavirus

How to Find Peace Amidst COVID-19 (How to Cultivate Calm in Chaos) | Jack Kornfield on The Tim Ferriss Show

Check out The Tim Ferris Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • A few quotes to keep in mind and ease your COVID-19 anxiety:
    • “We’ve done this as human beings before. We’re survivors. We have generations of ancestors behind us cheering us on, and saying, ‘Yep, we’ve lived through some tough stuff too.'” Jack Kornfield
    • “These are tough times. We’re in this complex of cultural anxiety with the spread of the coronavirus. You can either give in to your fear and anxiety, or you can take this time to train yourself in steadiness, trust, the ability to have a broader perspective, and perhaps more than anything, to develop your sense of care and connection for everyone else.” – Jack Kornfield
  • If you’re personally under quarantine or anxious about COVID-19, Jack’s advice:
    • Recognize that the universe has provided you with a meditation-like retreat you might have never had the opportunity to participate in
    • Flip the script—this isn’t happening to us; it’s happening for us
    • Put every one of your fears and anxieties aside, and tell them, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’m okay for now”
    • Every day, pause, put your hand on your heart, and tell yourself, “Let me hold all of what I’m worried about with a tender compassion. Let me hold myself, my worries, my parents, and my friends. May they all be safe. May we all hold ourselves with tenderness and compassion.”

Books Mentioned

Intro

Recognize This Time as an Opportunity

  • “These are tough times. We’re in this complex of cultural anxiety with the spread of the coronavirus. You can either give in to your fear and anxiety, or you can take this time to train yourself in steadiness, trust, the ability to have a broader perspective, and perhaps more than anything, to develop your sense of care and connection for everyone else.” – Jack Kornfield
  • If you’re personally under quarantine or anxious about COVID-19, Jack’s advice:
    • Recognize that the universe has provided you with a meditation-like retreat you might have never had the opportunity to participate in
    • Flip the script—this isn’t happening to us; it’s happening for us
    • Put every one of your fears and anxieties aside, and tell them, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’m okay for now”

Balancing Western Developmental & Eastern Fruitional Frameworks to Contend with COVID-19

  • For reference (and this comes from Already Free by Bruce Tift):
    • The developmental framework: identifying & working through your problems to improve your circumstance (AKA, in this time, disinfecting packages, social distancing, etc.)
    • The fruitional framework: changing the lens through which you relate to life’s circumstances
  • “As we mature and become wiser, we become comfortable with paradox. The way to put it most simply: you need to remember your Buddha nature and your Social Security number.” – Jack Kornfield
  • Jack’s advice: be practical and have common sense, but at the same time, tend to yourself & others with care, avoiding an inward spiral into a place of fear
    • “This is all possible. We’ve done this as human beings before. We’re survivors. We have generations of ancestors behind us cheering us on, and saying, ‘Yep, we’ve lived through some tough stuff too.’”Jack Kornfield

You Don’t Have to Carry Your Fears & Worries

  • “Who you are is bigger than your thoughts, fears, and worries. When you remember who you really are, which is awareness itself—a vast, loving awareness—then you can look at the circumstance, hold it with great compassion, and say, ‘How do I want to live now? How do I want to follow this?’” – Jack Kornfield
  • Jack recalls some sage advice from one of his meditation teachers:
    • “We were wandering in the rice paddies on our way to a village with my teacher, Ajahn Chahm, and some monks. Out across the rice paddies was this big rock—a huge boulder. Ajahn Chah asked us, ‘Is that boulder heavy?’ … We said, ‘Yes, it is, master.’ He smiled and said, ‘Not if you don’t pick it up.’”

During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Remember: “We’re Being Carried By Vastness”

  • Tim recalls a famous quote: “Adversity does not build character; it reveals character”
  • “The Ojibwa Indians have this amazing—I find poetic—way of putting it: they say, ‘Sometimes, I go about pitying myself when all the while I’m being carried by great winds across the sky” – Jack Kornfield
    •  Jack comments on the above: “We’re in this human incarnation for a certain measure of time. No one knows how long they have—a beautiful, difficult, and remarkable dance in this time. And how we do it? We’re being carried by vastness. We’re not just our personality, or our history, or our smalls sense of self. You are a spirit that was born into your body. You are loving awareness.”

The Four Dimensions of Meditative Freedom

  • Below are the four dimensions of freedom you learn as you train in meditation, or as Jack calls it, the “inner capacities of presence”
  • 1. Expanding the Window of Tolerance
    • In other words, you improve your ability to be present with the contents of your experience—all of your joys, sorrows, anger, loneliness, shame, pains, resentment, etc.
  • 2. Our Common Humanity
    • You might realize: “When you face your loneliness, longing, or the way you’ve been mistreated, all of a sudden, you realize that loneliness and longing come with being human; praise and blame come with being human; joy and sorrow come with being human.”
  • 3. Awareness Itself
    • AKA recognizing that every one of your experiences is like a movie on a screen, and you’re the watcher
    • You might realize: “Who you really are is consciousness itself, manifesting in the different forms that are experienced. Consciousness itself is timeless, pure, open, and vast like the sky, containing all things but not limited by them.”
  • 4. Recognizing That You’re the Witness
    • Building off the above dimension, this takes things a step further—once you’re “aware” of your experiences, recognize the mystery of your consciousness 
    • Jack adds: “Turn your attention from the experience to the mystery of consciousness that’s ever-present. This is the one who knows—the knowing. Rest in it; it’s your true home.”

Jack’s Suggestions for Those Worried About How COVID-19 Might Affect Their Parents

  • First, every day, pause, put your hand on your heart, and tell yourself, “Let me hold all of what I’m worried about with a tender compassion. Let me hold myself, my worries, my parents, and my friends. May they all be safe. May we all hold ourselves with tenderness and compassion.”
  • Second, every day, make an effort to pause and remind yourself, “I’m okay for now”
  • Third, go outside, find a tree, stand with it, and notice the roots. Notice how they travel down deep into the earth, and how the tree lives on through wind, storms—whatever it’s exposed to.”
    • “Stand with that tree, and feel how you too can root yourself in the earth, and stand in the winds of change, and feel grounded, and steady, and flexible. Find those qualities in yourself.” Jack Kornfield
  • Fourth, place your worries and fears on an altar in your mind (or on a physical altar) (you might even write them down on a piece of paper)
    • By doing this, you’re placing them aside & letting them go, opening yourself to a place of calmness
  • Fifth, recognize the oneness of humanity—we’re all in this together

Water the Seeds of Your Consciousness

  • “We have all these capacities—Thich Nhat Hanh used to refer to them as seeds in consciousness—and depending on which ones we water and tend to, those are what blossom. If we water and tend our anger, it will grow; if we water and tend our fears, they’ll grow; if we water the seeds of peace in us, they’ll grow; if we water the seeds of compassion in consciousness, and tend to it, it’ll blossom.” Jack Kornfield

Spirituality Isn’t About Perfecting Yourself; It’s About Perfecting Your Love

  • People approach their spiritual life/wellness with a grim duty—forcing themselves to meditate, watch their diet, go to therapy, lose weight, etc.
  • But: “It’s not about perfecting yourself; it’s about perfecting your love. Can you live in this world with love for this human incarnation with all its marvels and imperfections?” Jack Kornfield

How does Jack recommend people think about their trauma?

  • First, what exactly is trauma?
    • “Trauma, in the simplest way, speaks of an experience of suffering—physical or emotional pain of some kind—in which our body goes into survival mode. Then, that gets locked into our bodies, hearts, and minds.” – Jack Kornfield
  • When you have unrecognized or unreleased trauma, addictive behaviors are likely to develop—the trauma affects us subconsciously
  • “Many of us experienced significant trauma in our past, and if we’re not aware of it—or don’t have a way to manage it—we can become over-vigilant and unconsciously manage it through addictions—by drinking, drugging, eating, sex, or other unhealthy addictive patterns … To understand trauma is really important.” Jack Kornfield

Exploring Psychedelics

  • Throughout human history, psychedelics were used as “sacred medicines”
    • “There’s this long, beautiful human tradition of using sacred medicines to help us remember who we are, and because they’re so powerful, they’re also scary to people because they take apart our conventional reality.” – Jack Kornfield
  • “These scared medicines … let you shift your identity from being a separate sense of self—that separate atom in the cog of the culture, and come back to remember love, who you are, and that sense of mystery and vastness. Depending on which ones you take, they’re also quite cleansing. You’ll find, in taking them, that you relive your traumas, and if you relive them in a conscious way, you can release yourself from them.” – Jack Kornfield
    • In other terms, psychedelics allow one to witness the world’s interconnectedness & shared consciousness more easily
  • If you’re looking to learn more about psychedelics, both Jack & Tim recommend How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
  • All of that said, psychedelics can easily be misused. Jack’s advice: approach them with the utmost respect.

Recommended Preparations & Precautions Before Your First Psychedelic Experience

  • “For anyone who’s considering any type of psychedelic experience, it’s incredibly valuable to put on a little bit of mileage with a regular meditation practice, and to practice—even in a somewhat volume-turned-down sense—sitting with emotions that may be difficult—or thoughts that may be unpleasant—for a consecutive 30-day period.”Tim Ferriss
  • Jack’s advice:
    • Make sure the source of your “sacred medicine” is “clean and good” (AKA it doesn’t come from your city’s local drug dealer
    • Have a sitter to watch over you during your experience

Jack & Tara Brach’s Online Meditation Teacher Training Program

  • (Tara is the author of the widely recommended Radical Acceptance)
  • Tim HIGHLY recommends listeners check it out
    • “The fact that the two of you are offering this teacher training, I think, is just a tremendous opportunity. I don’t say that lightly. I say that as someone who’s spent time in live discussions with both of you, and seeing what both of you can do as practitioners and teachers, I highly, highly recommend it.” – Tim Ferriss
  • The program is 2 years & mostly online (although a few in-person retreats are involved)

Additional Notes

  • Jack recently held a virtual meditation class for people in China under quarantine
  • Jack just turned 75
  • Jack once caught malaria as a monk in the forests of Thailand
  • The poet Hafiz once said, “Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly; let it cut more deeply. Let it season you as few ingredients can.”
  • Jack’s meditation teacher, Sri Nisargadatta, once told him, “Wisdom tells me I am nothing; love tells me I am everything. Between these two, my life flows.”
  • Stan Grof has said, “When people feel that they want to commit suicide, they’re right that something needs to die; they’re mistaken in thinking that it’s their body that has to die.”
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