Jack Kornfield – How to Overcome Apathy and Find Beautiful Purpose | The Tim Ferriss Show (#601)

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Key Takeaways

  • From a macro societal perspective, there has never been more polarization and anger than today, says Tim Ferriss observing his audience of 10-20 million people a month
  • “I believe the reason that people cling to their hate and anger so stubbornly is that they’re afraid that once hate is gone, they’ll be forced to face their own pain” – James Baldwin
    • Sit in the middle of it, take a seat and feel the fire of it. And first of all, learn to tolerate it
  • Know when to turn off your inner Mr. Nice Guy and speak more directly
    • The real challenge: speak your truth that’s underneath the anger 
  • How to systematically catch your tone
    • Step 1: Be aware of it
    • Step 2: Make it more conscious – get a notebook, put “anger” on the first page, and periodically write about it (anything that makes you angry, really)
    • Step 3: Add examples of your tone of voice in different scenarios, and think about how else could you have handled it 
    • Step 4: Realize you have the capacity to transform your patterns
  • When working with trauma, it’s important to create a space that is safe enough so that people can bring out what was kept inside out of fear, or to protect themselves and others around them 
  • More than 50% of physical health problems in the US have root in emotions and mental challenges
    • You’re not doing something wrong if you feel a great amount of anxiety about your life
  • Healing is not an individual matter
    • Group therapy seems like a way to increase the treatable population while decreasing the cost per person, and improving outcomes
  • Creating the ideal environment for yourself and your loved ones vs. adjusting to an anxiety-suffused society
    • “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Krishnamurti
  • We are consciousness; not our body, thoughts, or our emotions
  • Buddhists have practices to cultivate joy
    • Look at somebody and try to imagine their happiest day or moment as a child, and realize that child of the spirit is in them. And then start to remember your own happiest days as a child, invite and invoke them 
  • Jump to 01:30:15 for a guided meditation for recapturing the adventure and joy of childhood

Introduction

  • Jack Kornfield (@JackKornfield), a fan favorite, is one of the few people Tim has on speed dial when he deals with acute stress or anxiety. Trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, India, and Burma, Jack has been teaching meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddha’s mindfulness practice to the West.
    • Check out Jack’s website – discover a series of guided loving-kindness meditation
  • In this episode, Tim Ferris and Jack Kornfield discuss expressing anger and becoming aware of your tone of voice, as well as the responsibility we have to take care of ourselves while contributing to making the world a better place.

Thoughts on Anger and Polarization

  • From a macro societal perspective, there has never been more polarization and anger than today, says Tim observing his audience of 10-20 million people a month
  • Part of what happens with anger is when people can’t tolerate the emotions, they lash out, or it leaks into their words
    • Anger is difficult to work with as it often comes out of hurt or fear when we feel vulnerable, but it’s not a bad thing in itself
    • Some suggest fully expressing anger, hitting a pillow, or working on a punching bag, but these seem to amplify and perpetuate anger for others
  • “I believe the reason that people cling to their hate and anger so stubbornly is that they’re afraid that once hate is gone, they’ll be forced to face their own pain” – James Baldwin
  • Sit in the middle of it, take a seat and feel the fire of it. And first of all, learn to tolerate it
    • When you become less afraid of anger, you can use it to your advantage

Wording and Tone of Voice

  • Know when to turn off your inner Mr. Nice Guy and speak more directly
    • The real challenge: speak your truth that’s underneath the anger 
  • When you express your worries, fears, or hurt, you allow a deeper level of understanding and connection 
  • Different tone of voice expresses different emotions
    • E.g. “What did you mean” can be perceived as an attack or as an attempt to understand the other person
  • How to systematically catch your tone
    • Step 1: Be aware of it
    • Step 2: Make it more conscious – get a notebook, put “anger” on the first page, and periodically write about it (anything that makes you angry, really)
    • Step 3: Add examples of your tone of voice in different scenarios, and think about how else could you have handled it 
    • Step 4: Realize you have the capacity to transform your patterns

Coping with Trauma-Induced Hypervigilance

  • There’s a degree of hypervigilance in always seeking safety and maximizing or optimizing for safety
    • What helps is bringing compassion to the frightened part of ourselves that learned hyper vigilance long ago to protect us 
  • Try this practice:
    • Visualize yourself when you had to learn that when you weren’t safe
    • Do a compassion practice; put your arm around your inner child, hold this part of yourself
    • Say “Thank you for trying to protect me” and “I’m ok in this moment” and let yourself feel it in your body
  • When working with trauma, it’s important to create a space that is safe enough so that people can bring out what was kept inside out of fear, or to protect themselves and others around them 
  • Trauma is held in our body – we need to be able to tell our story, and others to witness us and see that this isn’t who we are, it’s a role we took on 

Making Group Therapeutic Models Work

  • Healing is not an individual matter
    • Group therapy seems like a way to increase the treatable population while decreasing the cost per person, and improving outcomes
  • More than 50% of physical health problems in the US have root in emotions and mental challenges
    • You’re not doing something wrong if you feel a great amount of anxiety about your life
    • We live in a culture and you’re part of the field of consciousness around you – you can’t feel it
  • New modalities of healing include psychedelic work with psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA, and are very helpful and promising

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

  • Creating the ideal environment for yourself and your loved ones vs. adjusting to an anxiety-suffused society
    • “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Krishnamurti
  • We have a responsibility to ourselves to try to stay healthy
  • “Despair is a failure of the imagination.” – Wade Davis
  • Stand up for things that really matter to you
  • Bodhisattva: a person who can reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings (Mahayana Buddhism)
  • People can have trouble responding objectively when they are overwhelmed, feeling despair or helplessness
  • Find something you really care about, something you’re deeply connected to, and give it voice
  • It’s not your task to fix the world
    • Your task is to feel your care, make something safe and sacred around you, and then extend it with your particular gift
    • Nobody can tell you how and nobody can do it for you
    • “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” – Alice Walker:

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Teachings and Death

  • If during a life-threatening event everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person remained calm and steady, it was enough – this person shows the way for everyone to survive 
    • Thinking of something (Y) you’re going to do after you finish what you’re currently doing (X) will result in you not enjoying the current thing (X) – and this is perpetually repeated if you don’t train present state awareness
  • Every breath you take is intertwined with the raccoon and earthworms in your backyard
    • Jack did the math – turns out you’re breathing everybody – Julius Caesar, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Vladimir Putin, Stalin, and everybody else

Out-of-Body Experiences

  • While learning meditation at a monastery, Jack got exhausted and had his first out-of-body experience as he saw his body lying on the floor 
    • He later sat with people who got close to dying and would float out of their bodies to then come back, feeling a sense of love and bliss
  • We are consciousness; not our body, thoughts, or our emotions
    • Out-of-body experiences are more common than we think, often happening in accidents or during great distress
    • Know who you are: you’re not limited by the identity that you play in the world

Seeking Joy Instead of Subtracting Bad Things

  • Subtractive approach: focusing on reducing risk and eliminating pain, getting rid of things
  • Finding a purpose: seeking joy amidst it all instead
  • Buddhists have practices to cultivate joy
    • Look at somebody and try to imagine their happiest day or moment as a child, and realize that child of the spirit is in them. And then start to remember your own happiest days as a child, invite and invoke them 

Loving-Kindness Meditation

  • Jump to 01:30:15 for a guided meditation for recapturing the adventure and joy of childhood
  • Meditation is supposed to be an act of adventure and understanding of opening the heart and mind
    • Tim noticed a significant change in his default state of being after only a few days of 5 minutes of loving-kindness meditation daily
  • If you’re upset, walking meditation is a better option. Try taking each step with deliberate care and attention, and do a little loving-kindness meditation
    • Medicine for the heart is as needed as that for the body 
    • Start your day with a simple question: “What would love to have me do today?”
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Notes By Dario

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