537: Radical Responsibility and Neuro-Somatic Meditation with Fleet Maull, PhD

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Fleet Maull

Today’s episode will empower you to take control of your life and guide you (in real-time) through a powerful Nero-Somatic Mindfulness (NSM) meditation led by a truly remarkable human being, Fleet Maull, PhD.

At age 74, Fleet is living his best life – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Fleet is an author, meditation teacher, entrepreneur, and the founder of the Heart Mind Institute, where he helps people maximize their potential. Today, you’ll learn the strategies Fleet’s refined over the last 30 years to maintain peak state and help countless people escape victim mentality.

Fleet introduces his “Radical Responsibility Question,” a simple yet profound tool to pause in stressful moments, sidestep blame, and see things with clarity and compassion. This approach will open you up to a choice between joy and suffering and put you in the driver’s seat to take control of your life.

Fleet also guides us through a practical mindfulness meditation at the end of our conversation so you can start applying what you’ve learned right away.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Taking responsibility puts you in the driver’s seat of your life
  • The key question of radical responsibility is, “What can I do right now?”
  • Understanding the difference between blame and responsibility
  • While blame can feel good momentarily, it often leads to long-term pain
  • Why meditation is much more than getting rid of thoughts
  • Fleet’s secrets to maintaining vitality and energy in his 70s

 

AYG TWEETABLES

“Am I going to let a situation take me down? Am I going to get caught in a victim mindset and get stuck there? Or am I going to find the most creative way I can respond to a circumstance to move my life forward, however unjust or tragic or horrific it may be?”

“I didn’t want to come out of prison that way. If I was going to survive, I didn’t want to live that way while I was there. So, I realized I had to embrace 300% responsibility for getting myself there and what kind of life I might be able to create for myself if I survived and got out someday.”

 

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Rise by CURED Nutrition is a natural supplement made from CBD, Lions Mane and Ginseng (among others) that helps boost energy, performance and cognitive function. There’s no caffeine, no jitters and most importantly, no crash. Visit CuredNutrition.com/Hal and receive 20% off of your entire order. They have tons of other products as well, hopefully you’ll find something that works for you. :^)

 

RESOURCES:

 

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Hal Elrod: Hello, my friends, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. Today, this is a pretty cool episode. We’re talking with Fleet Maull. I should say Dr. Fleet Maull. He does have a PhD, and we’re talking about radical responsibility. And he is leading us through a guided neurosomatic mindfulness meditation at the end of the episode, which is powerful. And you will definitely want to stick around to the end to hear that.

Now, if you don’t know Fleet, he is 74 years old, which, by the way, I just share that because he has a lifetime of wisdom and he’s one of the wisest people that I’ve ever met. Now he’s an author, a meditation teacher, and entrepreneur. Again, he developed neurosomatic mindfulness, NSM for short, meditation. He deeply embodied neuroscience and trauma informed approach to meditation, offering an accelerated path to healing, awakening, and integration.

He is a Zen master, a senior teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He founded Heart Mind Institute, an education platform for embodiment and resilience training courses and summits. As you will hear, he also spent 14 years in prison, during which time, he founded Prison Mindfulness Institute and National Prison Hospice Association. Yes, he is an extraordinary human being. And he’s also the author of Radical Responsibility: How to Move Beyond Blame, Fearlessly Live Your Highest Purpose, and Become an Unstoppable Force for Good.

I’ll tell you, this was the longest conversation I’ve ever had with Fleet. He and I’ve only connected briefly up until today, and I want to spend more time with him, listening to him talk today, hearing his story, hearing his wisdom, being led through that neurosomatic mindfulness meditation that you’re going to get to experience at the end of the episode. He’s brilliant. And so, I’m really excited for you to enjoy this conversation.

Before you do, I want to take just a couple of minutes to invite you to benefit from our two sponsors the way that I do. And the first and foremost, our first sponsor I want to share is CURED Nutrition. And last week was the first time I talked about microdosing cannabis with you. Other than when I had the CEO of Cured on a few episodes ago, Joe Sheehey, but beyond that, I want to talk about microdosing cannabis. Now, you might either wonder what that is, or maybe you have questions or concerns. In short, microdosing cannabis involves consuming small controlled amounts of THC and CBD, the two primary compounds found in cannabis.

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All right, without further ado, let’s talk to one of my new favorite people, the one and only Fleet Maull about how you can take radical responsibility and enhance your daily meditation practice with neurosomatic mindfulness meditation.

[INTERVIEW]

Hal Elrod: Fleet, hey, it’s great to be with you again. Yeah, the tables are turned. You are interviewing me for your Post-Traumatic Global Growth Summit the other day. And then now, and I thought, man, I really want to have you on the podcast because you’re just a wealth of knowledge of information. I got your book a while back when we met, Radical Responsibility. And since then, I’ve been really impressed with your depth of experience because I think in our space, there’s a lot of young guns, right? I think I’m in the mid-range, but a lot of young guns that are still new and fresh. And you’re in your 70s now, correct?

Fleet Maull: That’s right.

Hal Elrod: Yeah. And so, you have an interesting background with over five decades of meditation training, practice, and teaching, which that in itself, how many people have over five decades of that type of work? Not many. And serving a 14-year federal prison sentence on drug charges in the midst of that, and then living a transformative life of global service since your release from prison in 1999, like, there’s so much to unpack there. Can you give us just a brief account of that journey to provide context for our conversation?

Fleet Maull: Yeah, sure. So, you can tell by the gray hair, I’m a baby boomer. And so, I came of age in the 60s and grew up in a good middle class, Roman Catholic family in the Midwest with good values. And unfortunately, we had alcoholism in the family, really on both sides of the family, but in particular in my immediate family, my mother, who, most of the time showed up as this beautiful, intelligent, bright, creative, artistic, wonderful mother who was like my best friend, and then sometimes once a week or every other week would become this really terrifying radioholic alcoholic. And you never knew when that was going to happen and could even be violent. And our house would just erupt into chaos. And eventually, she would pass out, and then you’d get up for breakfast the next morning, would be down there, and everybody would be at breakfast. She’d be making breakfast like nothing ever happened. And it was never talked about.

So, you could imagine, it creates a lot of psychic splitting. And I ended up coming into adolescence with a big hole in my gut, just a big, painful hole in my gut that felt like an abyss that I couldn’t go near. And I was trying to patch it up and fill it with anything I could. And of course, this coincided with the emergence of the counterculture. And I just went headlong into that. I graduated from high school in 1968, which was a very tumultuous year in US history. Similar to some things we’re going through now, perhaps. But that was when there was the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Kent State killings. And there was just a lot going on. There had been a lot of racial unrest and either riots or rebellion, depending on your perspective going on for three or four years. And I was growing up with all that, and I’d become very alienated from the culture, disillusioned. I didn’t really believe in anything anymore.

And then, the counterculture was just going into full bloom. And I remember in 1966, my sophomore year of high school, the summer following that sophomore year of high school, I discovered marijuana, LSD, and Buddhism all roughly the same time. And unfortunately, my path, then kind of the twists and turns, I’d always been a spiritual seeker since I was young. And I continued that, but also all mixed up into drug, sex, and rock and roll and taking a lot of things to extreme. And before I ended up living as an expat, became so alienated, I just left the country when Richard Nixon was re-elected in 1972.

And also, I’d always had some idea. I was looking for something real because I remember my childhood feeling very plugged in, to kind of a magical world that’s being plugged in. And then maybe around the time of starting school, seven or eight years old, everything just went to gray tones, and I never did– maybe that’s a normal developmental process, I don’t know, but I never dealt with. I wanted it back. And in some ways, growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, pre-Vatican II, I was an altar boy and I didn’t really buy and the theology didn’t resonate with me. But the mysticism of the pre-Vatican II mass and we had kind of a Gothic-style church and the big vaulted kind of cathedral-style church and the Latin Mass that called the response. So, I appreciated the quality of the sacred, and then, of course, I was pulled into that whole countercultural thing and kind of took it to extremes.

And before I could untangle all that, I ended up running my way into a federal prison sentence, but I’d spent time in South America, which was kind of a mixed bag. I was really looking for something authentic and did find my journey into South America, although there was still drugs, it wasn’t really all about the drugs at all. It was about exploring indigenous cultures and the archeology and just looking for something real. I ended up living in Peru where it really did feel like I was plugged in again. But the first time I had to come back to the States, I realized I couldn’t bring it with me. It was environmental, right? But I was getting closer.

Hal Elrod: What age were you when you were in Peru, Fleet? What age was that in Peru?

Fleet Maull: I was probably 21, 22, 23.

Hal Elrod: Okay, so young. Okay.

Fleet Maull: Yeah, very young. And I ended up living down there for about five years and then was back and forth a lot. But I came back to the States when I heard about the founding of Naropa University, then Naropa Institute in the summer of 1974 by the Tibetan master that became my teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. And somebody brought a copy of Rolling Stone magazine up to our place, way up high in the Andes mountains back in ‘74. And I read about the founding of Naropa Institute. I just knew I had to go there.

So, I went there and I did a very intense three-year clinical training program and integration of Buddhist and Western psychology and psychotherapy and got really grounded in practice. And that relationship with my teacher evolved from there. But I still kept a secret life and I was still– my marriage was falling apart. I would keep my problems at bay with the money. I disappear once or twice a year into a smuggling run. And I was able to kind of live outside the system, and I knew that couldn’t last, that I had a lot of cognitive dissonance around that. But I would self-medicate with it when I was not in, or I’d be in retreat and really intense program and training with my teacher, traveling with him. And so, it didn’t come up there.

But anyway, that kind of all went along and I knew it had to end. And eventually, I did try to get up, but others continued. And when they got busted, they decided to invite me to the party. So, in 1985, I was indicted and decided, on the advice of my teacher, to turn myself in and I served 14 years. And that became– initially, I thought I was going to serve 30 years. I thought that pretty much in my life as I known it was over. My son was nine years old at the time, and I really hit a wall of devastation. I was so devastated over what I’d done to him and incredibly selfish decisions I’d made for so long, and I really had to face up to all that.

So, my time in prison, I became radically dedicated to get rid of any negativity out of my life and to take all the good I’d received from my family and my teacher and my training and do something good with it, and try to create a better legacy for my son than just his dad even died in prison because I had no surety I would survive. And initially, I thought I was going to be there for 30 years, and then it took me a while to figure out that under the old law, with the good time, I would serve 18.5 but still felt like forever. And then once my appeal went through the courts, which took a couple of years, they cut off one count, so that reduced it to 25. And then I knew I’d served 14, but still a long, long time. And I know surely, I could survive. I was seeing people die. I was in a federal prison, hospital maximum security in the middle of the AIDS epidemic. And men were dying, dropping like flies from all kinds of illnesses, including AIDS, as well as people dying of violence there.

And so, I really had no surety, I’d survive. And I just really wanted to leave a better legacy for my son than his dad died in prison. So, I became radically dedicated to my own practice. I was practicing three or four hours a day, living a life of service. I taught school for 14 years. I got very involved in 12-step work, started a meditation group in a prison chapel, and with another prisoner…

Hal Elrod: This was all while in prison, Fleet? This was all while in prison?

Fleet Maull: What’s that?

Hal Elrod: Was all this while you were in prison or after?

Fleet Maull: This was all while in prison. Yeah, while in prison. And I ended up starting the first hospice program in a prison anywhere in the world, and then started two national organizations that catalyzed two national movements, the Prison Dharma, Prison Mindfulness movement, and then the Prison Hospice movement. And those are still flourishing today. And so, that’s really where I trained myself deeply during that time there. And that’s really where the philosophy of radical responsibility was born of what mindset will get you through that kind of a situation, allow you to add value there and not end up getting, because the environment, prison, it’s a culture. It’s an environment of demonization and shame and victim mindset and incredible racism and polarization and bitterness. And I didn’t want to come out of prison that way. If I was going to survive, I didn’t want to live that way while I was there. So, I realized I had to embrace like 300% responsibility for having got myself there, what I was going to do with my time there, and what kind of life I might be able to create for myself if I survived and got out someday. And it was that philosophy that really allowed me to create everything I was able to do there, serve in the ways I was able to serve.

Hal Elrod: Well, I mean, there’s so much there. I’ll tell you that, first and foremost, I was so attracted to you or your work when– you’re also a handsome man, but I’m not attracted to you in that way, Fleet, sorry. But no, I was so attracted to your work, with when I just saw the title of your book because for me, when I wrote my first book, one of the quotes in there was, the moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you have the power to change anything in your life. But you’re proof in the pudding in terms of, like, you went to prison and while most people, they might read a few books or they might– if they’re lucky, they’ve got this positive experience coming out of prison. I have a friend that went to prison and he had that, but you went above and beyond. You’re starting your multiple nonprofits. You’re practicing hours a day going deep into meditation. So, let’s talk about that. Your book, that’s the title Radical Responsibility: How to Move Beyond Blame, Fearlessly Live Your Highest Purpose, and Become an Unstoppable Force for Good. So, they were born, I should say, from your prison experience. Can you talk specifically about what radical responsibility means to you and how you develop that from your prison experience?

Fleet Maull: Absolutely. So, I often describe it as voluntarily embracing 100% responsibility or ownership for each and every circumstance we face, day in and day out in life. And that may make sense, but when you really think about it, it’s fairly radical. So, this includes circumstances. We can see we had something to do with, either creating or allowing or stumbling into by being unaware of all the ways in which we may find we have a relationship to the circumstances we find ourselves in. And part of the process is getting radically honest and being willing to see that, but it has nothing to do with self-blame.

One of the most important distinctions in the radical responsibility model is it’s a trans-blame model. It has nothing to do with blame. Obviously, it’s not about blaming others, but it’s not about blaming ourselves, not one iota. And it’s certainly not about blaming victims. So, we look into what’s our part in the circumstance we find ourselves in only for the purpose of learning because if I’m in a situation I’m not so happy about and I understand how I got there, I can make different choices in the future and get different results. Or conversely, if I’m in a situation that I’m happy about and working, I can understand how to keep doing that, how I keep creating that, right?

But there may be circumstances that we get as radically honest as we can, and we don’t see we had anything to do with it, and everybody would agree. What about that? Well, at that point, we’re still making choices. And so, what we own at that point is our choice and making choices that will move our life forward and get our needs met and win-win waves with others. So, am I going to let a situation take me down? Am I going to get caught in a victim mindset and get stuck there? Or am I going to find the most creative way I can respond to a circumstance to move my life forward, however unjust or tragic or horrific it may be?

Now, this is about ourselves because it’s very understandable when others get stuck, people get tragically victimized and people are victimized by all kinds of systemic injustices. And so, it may be very difficult, even heroic, for people to find a way to creatively get out of that and not get stuck in that victim mindset. So, it’s not about any kind of should or shaming others. It’s really having tremendous compassion for all of us. But at the same time, we all know that if we get stuck in that victim mindset, it’s going to be very limiting to our lives.

And there are examples of human beings all across the planet who’ve been in the worst circumstances imaginable and found ways to transform that and respond creatively and move their lives forward. People are a great example. Viktor Frankl and just so many others who found that way to find where is my freedom, like choice, how to live a choice like because– I’ll give an example, Hal. Let’s say you and I had some business dealings and agreement going on, and somehow it blows up and we’re both all upset about it and blaming each other, we’re ready to go to fisticuffs. And our friends and now, after that, you’re going to end up in jail, and then we’re going to lawyer up and go to court. No, I don’t do that. You’re going to waste all your money on lawyers. I know this mediator you can go and see you, right? And so, we reluctantly agree. I’m a little more confident. You’re worried because you know that I’m probably right.

But at any rate, we see the mediator. And the mediator listened to both of us and said, boy, I don’t know. You’re both very compelling storytellers and salespeople. And this is a he said, he said thing. But I’ll tell you what, we have the video. I’m going to go show that to a focus group and see what they say. And they come back and they say, well, Fleet, we have to agree with you that– the group agree that Hal here is more the responsible. I said, well, I’m glad you found such a brilliant group of people. They realize it’s all Hal’s fault.

The mediator says, no, Fleet, you have to take some of the responsibility. In fact, they think it’s about 70/30, 60/40. Well, I don’t really believe that, but okay, as long as they realize it’s mostly Hal’s fault or all Hal’s fault, so I feel vindicated. But does that really make sense? Because if I’m upset by definition, right? And if I’m attributing the causation of that to someone outside myself, in this case, you, I just gave away my power. I put you in charge of my internal state. Can I control you?

Hal Elrod: No.

Fleet Maull: No, I can’t control you. So, I just put you in charge of my internal state. And we do that all the time. But it just doesn’t make sense, right? So, where do I have any real power? With my own choices. And we may need to kvetch and feel victimized. That’s all normal. But at some point, we need to stop, take a breath, and go, okay, what can I do? We call that the magical radical responsibility question. No matter how difficult or how challenging or how unjust the circumstance is, okay, here I am. It happened. What can I do?

Hal Elrod: I’m writing that down. You call that the radical responsibility question?

Fleet Maull: Yes. Or the magical radical responsibility question. What can I do? It gets us out of the victim mindset into the mindset of possibility because there’s always a million things we can do. There’s a million different ways we can approach anything. I love what you learned back from your Cutco knife training, from your mentor that when you get really upset, allow yourself to feel the upset for five minutes or five seconds, whatever you need. But then I can’t remember the mantra, but it happens. You can’t change it. It’s done. Now, what?

Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, there’s so much gold there. And one of the things you mentioned, taking responsibility or radical responsibility isn’t about blame. And I think that’s a really important distinction for people to make, is that they often go, well, I’m not going to take responsibility for this. It’s my parents’ fault. It’s this person’s fault. It’s not my fault. And I think I want to really highlight this distinction that blame and responsibility are two different things. Blame determines who is at fault. Responsibility determines who is committed to changing things moving forward.

When I had my car accident, I wasn’t at fault. The drunk driver crossed the median and hit me head on, so I could have blamed him. Sure, he was to blame, but it wasn’t his responsibility to create the life that I wanted. That was 100% my responsibility. And so, if you’re listening to this right now, I want you to really examine your own response or past responses or current responses to the challenges that you faced in your life.

And a really important binary is you’re either in the victim mindset, which is I am the way I am. Like you said, Fleet, you’re giving away your power. It’s their fault. I didn’t do it. My life sucks because, I can’t do this because of other people or things that are out of my control. I want you to consider. Do you ever find yourself in that mindset? And for a lot of people, it’s perpetual and it’s unconscious because they develop that mindset whenever they experience a traumatic experience, maybe decades ago, maybe when they were young and they decided the meaning this is not my fault. My life is over or different or ruined or whatever because of this other person. And they gave away their power, as you said.

And I want everyone listening to consider that how might you take radical responsibility, not because you’re to blame for the things that have happened in your life, but it’s 100% your responsibility to ask yourself that question, what can I do? What can I do to make the best of my situation, to move forward, so on and so forth? Fleet, anything to add to that?

Fleet Maull: Yeah, absolutely. And this requires actually a lot of self-compassion because we naturally deflect blame. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve been bruised. We’ve been blamed. We’ve experienced that shame. We don’t want any more of that. We all have these tender, vulnerable hearts. So, we naturally want to deflect blame. And unfortunately, the culture tells us somebody is always got to be to blame, right? And so, if I don’t find somebody else to blame, then I’m going to get blamed. No, we don’t want that. So, it’s almost instinctual to blame. But we have to realize that it actually is giving our power away.

And once we realize that, then we can begin to work with it. And also, but be compassionate with our tendencies. And then through, especially the integration of some kind of inner work, meditation, mindfulness, some kind of inner work that allows us to drop into the depths of our being, where we begin to experience our own innate goodness, our innate wholeness. What my first year teaches is called basic goodness because once we touch into that, that gives us the resilience and strength to embrace this kind of radical ownership in our lives. Otherwise, it may trigger us into beating up on ourselves. And that’s not the point at all. It’s really just about living a choice.

Hal Elrod: Yes, and I think that what might help people understand why we blame is because it gives us a temporary sense of relief, but it causes us pain in the long run. In the temporary, it’s like, it’s not my fault. Ah, that feels better. I don’t have to bear the weight of responsibility, right? Because that takes courage, taking on responsibility is you have to own it. You have to have courage to do that. And I think that it’s the easy thing to do is to blame, but that causes long-term pain because you fast forward after a year of blaming or a decade of blaming or a lifetime of blaming, and you go, man, I missed out on so many opportunities. I missed out on creating the life that I want to live, that I deserve to live, that I’m destined to live because I lived a life of blame, a life in that victim mindset.

I mentioned earlier that you’ve been involved in a deep path of study and training in a number of meditation traditions for more than 50 years. I’m 44 years old. You’ve been studying meditation and practicing it longer than I’ve been alive. So, there’s so much I have to learn from you and so many people listening. So, from that experience, you’ve developed an approach that you call neurosomatic mindfulness, or NSM for short, meditation. Could you talk about your journey with meditation? And what is unique about NSM meditation? And then, before you finish today, if we have time, I’d love for you to lead us in a short session of neurosomatic mindfulness.

Fleet Maull: Yeah, it’d be great. I’d be happy to. So, I’ve studied primarily in Buddhist meditation traditions, originally with my Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. And that’s a very deep and broad tradition with many, many different types of meditation practices. But the basic training, your basic training is basic mindfulness and awareness meditation, like most even secular forms of meditation, where you sit still and you decide to focus your attention with the body and breath. And when the mind wanders, you bring it back when the mind wanted to bring it back. And in a process, you’re training your mind to stabilize your attention and to gain access to the deeper states, awareness, and beingness.

And then I’ve also practiced a lot in the Zen tradition, but I’ve been a student of the art of meditation my entire life. So, I’ve studied and practiced all the different Buddhist meditation traditions, Vipassana, Zen, the Tibetan practices, and many, many different practices within those traditions, as well as Vedic meditation, more Hindu Vedic styles, secular, modern secular, non-dual approaches. We put on a summit back in January, the Art of Meditation, where we covered seven or eight different traditions. And I’ve been a student of that my entire life and been practicing deeply in those traditions.

And what I discovered really, over the last 30 years, and increasingly saw was the importance of taking a deeply embodied approach to meditation. And that’s been affirmed by current neuroscience because current neuroscience is, as we’ve discovered, that there’s a neural network in the brain called the default mode network, which is active when we don’t direct our attention, when we don’t focus our attention. And that’s the noisy part of our brain constantly ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, fantasizing about the future, developing all of our opinions, thinking about ourselves, what others think about us. So, like, anybody, the first time they try to meditate, they go, “Oh, I can’t do it. My mind’s racing all the time.” Well, that’s the default mode network.

There’s another network called a task positive network that when we focus our attention, it is activated. And those two networks are to agree mutually inhibitory. So, the extent you bring the task positive network online, the default mode network starts to go offline. So, meditation is not about getting rid of thoughts or having no thoughts. And if you try to struggle directly with the thoughts, it doesn’t really work. But if you really focus on feeling the body and get your mind awareness, attention, and the sensate experience of the body kind of yoked together, then the default mode network naturally quiets down and you can just leave it be. You can let everything be.

Ultimately, a meditation where being present, just letting everything be as it is, but that’s hard to do. It takes training because we keep getting sucked into this thought pattern or that thought pattern. But with this deeply embodied approach, the mind naturally quiets down. And then also, we’re able to move from self-directed, self-regulation, which any practice begins with. It requires intention and effort to the body, mind, heart system, learning how to meditate, learning to auto regulate itself into deeper and deeper states of awareness, and there, to go into the deepest states of awareness and deep into the depth of our being, it’s really important to be taking the hands off the wheel, so to speak, to move into effortless and more relaxation. So, we have to cultivate our body, mind, heart systems’ capacity to learn to do that in an auto regulated way. And so, this deeply embodied approach facilitates that.

And it also facilitates moving into, because it gives us a deeply felt presence to rest our awareness in, we can move from a kind of dualistic approach to meditation, where we’re observing thoughts, which is great to begin with, that we have the awareness that we’re observing what’s going on, but then we can drop into just being, just pure being, pure feeling, just pure sensate experience, and no more non-dual experiences, which again takes us further into the very depths of being where we have the undeniable experience that I’m not broken, that I don’t need fixing, that I’m innately whole and wise and good. And it changes everything about our lives and also gives us a place of deep and profound peace from which to live our lives. And it changes everything about our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with life.

And you can take anything as the object of meditation. You can take any sense perception. You can work with thoughts themselves, which is difficult because they’re very sticky. You can work with emotions. There’s practices for doing all this. But I found the body is the most tangible, accessible object and one that takes us deep into what I’ve been describing. And when we focus on the body, initially, we’re focused on the tangible physical body. Very importantly, we develop this deep anchor of deeply felt physical presence. But the deeper we go, we’re getting in a subtler and subtler sensation, and then really, in the subtle mind and then into the depth of being spirit consciousness, whatever traditions call it, because it’s all on a spectrum. It’s all part of the same thing.

So, the body becomes a portal into the deepest states of meditation. And to me, it makes it so much easier. People can struggle for years with meditation and not get very far because they’re doing it up here and ahead, they’re chasing thoughts coming back to, if you include the body, you can accelerate the path. And so many people start a meditation practice and then quit because it’s too hard and they’re not getting any results from it. But we find with this deeply and by approach, people have experienced positive experience right away and they want to keep going. And we even have people have been meditating 30, 40 years and start this practice, and it changes everything for them because of, including the body so deeply and having it be both trauma informed and informed by current neuroscience.

Hal Elrod: Well, I’ve got a couple of more questions I want to ask you, but we’re going to wrap today with, if you’re up for it, leading us through and then some meditation. You’re for that here in a few minutes.

Fleet Maull: Yeah, absolutely.

Hal Elrod: Awesome. So, I want to talk about the Heart Mind Institute because that actually is what I kind of participated in recently is this one of these transformational online summits that you do. So, along with the nonprofit work that we talked about, the prison nonprofits that you founded in prison, you’ve been a business consultant and executive coach ever since leaving prison in 1999. Now, you are in your 70s. And you founded a transformational education platform called Heart Mind Institute that literally reaches hundreds of thousands of people with these online summits, like the one coming up, and your personal development courses, like your Radical Responsibility, your NSM meditation course.

So, here’s what I want to know. Tell us about Heart Mind Institute. But more important to me, what I’m curious about is in your 70s, what fuels and sustains you as an entrepreneur, as a social activist, meditation teacher, even in your seventh decade of your life, when a lot of people would be retiring? Like, for me, I’m like, oh man, at 70, I’ll be sitting on the beach somewhere. You are still impacting hundreds of thousands of lives. What is the Heart Mind Institute? And what’s driving you to keep moving forward with it?

Fleet Maull: Yeah. Well, Heart Mind Institute, as you said, is a global transformational education platform. And primarily, at this point, we offer big online summits across a lot of areas of personal development and online courses and online coaching programs and so forth. And what drives me, part of it might be that I spent all that time in prison. So, I feel like maybe I’m making up for lost time, but I did use that time well, although I kind of maybe could have been doing other things in the world. But I’ve always been an optimist by nature, and I just love living in the world of possibility and creativity, and also, I’ve been given so much and what I receive from my spiritual teachers, I just feel such almost a profound, like, almost a duty or an obligation, but not in a negative way.

Hal Elrod: Big responsibility, Fleet.

Fleet Maull: A responsibility to give back and to continue passing this on and passing it forward, right? And I was doing consulting work ever since I got to prison and doing the nonprofit work, which continues to flourish. I still do a lot of work with prisoners and correctional officers and police, and it’s a big part of my life and that work is flourishing. We’re still working with the hospice work and so forth. But the consulting work, I love it, but it’s kind of you’re trading hours for dollars. And I wanted to see if I could expand and as I was getting older trying to– so I started creating some online courses through my consulting company, was trying to figure that out. And I finally found somebody to partner with.

And then when the pandemic was setting in, we started Heart Mind Institute in 2019, lost money the first year just trying to get some online courses marketed. And then with the pandemic and the onset of the lockdowns in the spring of 2020, I just had this flash one day. We need to do a summit on resilience. We need to catalyze a global conversation about resilience in the face of all this. And so, in five weeks, my partner and my wife and I put together this summit called the First Global Resilience Summit. And it was really successful and got us out of debt. And we were up and running. And it’s been going ever since.

Now, we put on six or seven summits every year, and we’re adding more courses all the time. And we’d just gotten a tremendous response from it. And I love doing these summits. I do all these interviews, right? I couldn’t begin to do them all, but I do a select number for every summit. And I get to meet and interview incredible people like yourself. And so, I’m constantly learning and it just keeps me. I get up bed every morning incredibly excited because of the people I get to work with, the people I get to meet.

And even when I first started Heart Mind Institute, I said, “We can keep this lean. I don’t want to build some great big company at this point in my life and have to deal with that.” But as we started getting a little momentum, my mindset completely changed. I realized how many people we could benefit, like, we want to impact as many people as we can in the world. And so, to do that, we have to think a little bit bigger. And now that we went from having a team of three to a team of 15 today, and we’ve attracted some amazing people to our team, now, it’s just really exciting. And I’ve gotten excited. Here I am, and I’m 74 years old, I’m in the process of scaling a company which is challenging but incredibly exciting and rewarding, right? So, that motivates me. It’s really exciting. It’s so exciting to be doing that, to be birthing and scaling this movement and company with all these incredible people. So, what could be better? What better could I do with my time at this point in my life?

Hal Elrod: Now, I love that, right? You’re finding a way to give back, utilizing your strengths and talents, which to me, that very much could be the end all, be all purpose of life, discover your gifts, your talents, and then spend your life serving as many people as you can. And so, you’re a living embodiment of that. I’m curious, are there any practices? I mean, I know there’s got to be your meditation practice. Obviously, Miracle Morning, we’ve got the SAVERS exercise. I’m curious, at 74 years old, what practices do you do to keep your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities, your tanks, if you will?

Fleet Maull: Yeah, well, I have basically a 2.5-hour routine I do every morning and a half hour that is just the shower and that stuff, but the other two hours. So, I start off with yoga, a lot of stretching and deep breath work. I do some of the Wim Hof breathwork and some other forms of breathwork. So, yoga and breathwork is the first part of it, and that also includes some exercise of do 50 pushups every morning and some other things. So, I do that whole thing.

And then usually, I go from there to the shower and after my hot shower, I do the cold immersion shower for two to three minutes. And then I go meet my wife, and we do our core meditation practices together for 45 minutes to an hour or sometimes longer. And even when I’m doing a lot of breathwork, I do tapping if people are familiar with EFT, I’m really priming and that first hour, it’s yoga, it’s stretching, it’s exercise, and then it’s visualization and it’s breathwork. But it ends up, the final part of it is just priming my state into really a state of ecstasy and bliss just to be in the most positive mental frame I can. And then from there, as you recommend, visualizing my day and so forth, making my commitments, doing some affirmations. And then I go in and hit the shower, and then I go do a whole hour of various meditation practices. So, that’s my morning. It really fuels my day.

And then I try to infuse my day with being this, like just constantly coming back to just a moment of being, taking a breath, taking a pause. I have a little thing that I teach people that’s just stop, feel, breathe, and be. So, any point in the day, any time, especially when you find yourself getting a little distracted or wound up or something, just say to yourself, stop. And that’s just kind of a pattern interrupt, and then just feel whatever you’re feeling, right? Emotionally, physically, just take a moment to let yourself really feel and then breathe so you’re not holding your breath. Let the breath out, and then just relax into being. And that whole thing could be 30 seconds. And it just gives a gap. And so, I do that a lot during the day. I try to get outside and walk and just try to infuse my life with beingness and relationality and so forth, but it really begins with that foundation every morning of 2.5 hours of that kind of work. Yeah.

Hal Elrod: Wow. Yeah, it’s no surprise that at 74, you’re still at your best because, like you said, you’re priming every morning. You’re putting yourself in a peak physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state. And by the way, I just did those four steps to stop, feel, breathe. I went through that while you were saying it with my eyes closed. And yeah, like you said, 30 seconds completely shifted my state, got me into that state of presence and being. So, thank you for that.

Before we do the– or you lead us through the neurosomatic mindfulness meditation, can you at least tell people where they can join your next summit? It’s the Post-Traumatic Growth Global Summit. I only know that because I am privileged to be one of the speakers, one of your awesome speakers. So, what’s that summit for? Who’s it for? And where can people– and it’s free, by the way, so people are aware.

Fleet Maull: Yeah. All our summits are free. And then, people have the opportunity to get lifetime access to the recordings that they would like to have that. And that’s what creates the revenue, allows us to keep creating more summits. And when we reach people, really, you have a global audience all over the world. And so, the Post-Traumatic Growth Global Summit is for all of us. There’s been a lot of focus on trauma in the last decade or two. And it’s really great because we understand so much more about trauma. We understand almost all the mental health challenges or many of the physical challenges that people face or the foundation is trauma that they’ve experienced. And we know a lot more about helping people heal from trauma and heal from PTSD and so forth.

But I also think there’s not enough emphasis on post-traumatic growth that actually, our challenges can leverage possibility and thriving for some flourishing. And that’s our should, but it’s certainly an opportunity. So, we want to get that out there more. And both individually, we focus on individual post-traumatic growth, relational post-traumatic growth, and then our need for collective post-traumatic growth. And we need to embrace the incredible challenges we’re facing today and grow in our consciousness collectively so we can face these challenges, right? So, that’s what it’s all about. And it’s for everyone. And it may be of specific interest to clinicians that work with people as well, professionals, but it’s very much for the general audience, which most of our summits are. Yeah.

Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, and I’ll tell you, you were one of the best interviewers, and I don’t know if I even told you that, but you’re one of the best interviewers that I’ve ever been interviewed by and your questions were so thoughtful. And again, it just comes from, like, this conversation right now, Fleet, you have so much wisdom. You have so much wisdom, and not only garnered from, I would say, your life experience going to prison for 14 years, that’s going to bring a whole new perspective, especially when you dedicated yourself to daily practices and forming nonprofits while in those challenging times because you took radical responsibility. Like, there is so much here.

What I’m saying, I guess, is I want to spend more time with you. I want to talk to you more because, I feel that I have so much to learn from you. So, where can people sign up for that Post-Traumatic Growth Global Summit? And then let’s go into the neurosomatic mindfulness meditation.

Fleet Maull: Well, they can go to PosttraumaticGrowthSummit.com, PosttraumaticGrowthSummit.com. And you can always go to our basic website, HeartMind.co, HeartMind.co, or C-O, and find out about all our summits and courses. And you can also go to FleetMaull.com. Any of those places are going to get you there, but the summit itself, PosttraumaticGrowthSummit.com.

Hal Elrod: Because that’s longer, PosttraumaticGrowthSummit.com, I’ll say HeartMind.co. It’s probably a good hub to go to, and then they can access everything that you do. All right, now, well, I’m excited. I’ve been sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for you to lead us in a brief introduction to neurosomatic mindfulness meditation. I would love to experience this.

Fleet Maull: Great. Okay, let’s go. All right, so I invite everyone in our audience to take a moment to just find a good posture, that if you feel relatively uplifted, upright, relaxed, stable, awake. Now, for any reason of physical limitations, you need to lean back against the chair or do this standing up, lying down, please do what works for you. But if you can sit up with a relatively uplifted posture, extending the crown of head up towards the ceiling or the sky, and then letting your body just relax around that, and I’m going to invite everyone to close their eyes. I teach a lot of eyes open meditation, but to begin relating with the body, it’s helpful to close the eyes.

And just to begin with, just drop into being. Just drop into being. Just allowing yourself to just be just as you are in this moment. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Nothing to prove. Just being. Just being. And then I invite you to begin feeling the body. And by body, I’m referencing the actual tactile physical sensations that make up the experience we call body. Body is just a word or a concept. And we actually have kind of a conceptual body. And so, you’re invited to dive deeper than that into the actual sensate experience. You might begin with the sensations you’re feeling at the contact points between your body in the chair, your feet in the ground.

Perhaps the sensation is arising at the contact between your clothing and your skin, or the weight of your clothing, the texture of your clothing. Perhaps the contact of exposed skin surface areas with any movement of air in the room where you are or the air temperature, just whatever you can feel to begin with all across the surface of the skin, from head to toe, in the soles of your feet to the crown of your head, to the palms of your hands, back, front, sides, just developing a deep curiosity to feel, to really connect with your own lived experience as deeply as you can right now. Like, what level of attention and awareness can I bring to my own experience right now? And with what level of detail, precision, vividness can I experience this lived experience we call body?

And then you’re also invited to begin exploring the internal landscape of sensation, activating what we call interoceptive awareness, a fancy word for internal perception, the body’s capacity to feel itself from the inside out, so feeling the overall weight and mass of the muscles and bones, feeling all the sensations related with the flow of the breath, the abdominal muscle contracting and relaxing, belly rising and falling, rib cage opening and closing, abdominal muscles, intercostal muscles between the ribs. It’s that entire sensate flow we call the breath, just feeling as the air flows in and out of the body, just like waves lapping at the seashore, just in and out of its own accord. Perhaps finding your heartbeat.

And importantly, being willing to feel any sensations of discomfort. There’s always discomfort. In fact, all sensation arises across the spectrum from pleasant to neutral, the unpleasant. That’s true of all our sense perceptions. That’s true of our thoughts and emotions, our whole experience. And we’re very addicted to comfort and we’re constantly avoiding discomfort. Here, the invitation is just to embrace the whole thing. To realize having a body, I’m going to experience all of this my whole life. And I could actually claim my dignity as a conscious human being by just embracing the whole thing without resentment, without avoidance, and just feeling whatever I’m feeling deeply as I can, feeling the body.

This internal somatic awareness, interoceptive awareness, we’re all very familiar with it, even if we never heard the term. This is how we know when we’re hungry, how we know when we’re thirsty. It’s how we experience pain in the body, so just going deeper and deeper and feeling into the body, exploring this vast internal landscape. And in the process, the more you make a gentle effort to really feel the body as deeply as you can, you’ll notice the mind naturally quieting down. You’ll notice your attention stabilizing. And the deeper you go into feeling the body, and by the way, the body is sensory all the way down to the bones and including the bones, our whole body is a living organism all containing neural cells, all connected to the central nervous system. So, feeling into the body ever more deeply, you’ll notice the mind quieting down and you’ll also begin to touch into an internal resonance of coherence, a kind of flow that’s always there, this basic presence being this.

And the more you touch into that quality of being is you begin to rest your mind there, rest your attention and awareness there. And the practice of meditation will require less effort. It always requires effort to begin with, and any time you find yourself distracted, you just gently come back. We don’t beat ourselves up, we just come back. But dropping in ever more deeply, we find this flow that will actually hold our attention. We can rest our awareness and move in that effortless mindfulness, effortless awareness, pure being, pure presence.

And from that place, I then invite you to open your eyes and raise your gaze and just look out into the space in front of you and let your visual field fill up with everything that’s there, the auditory field, all the sense perceptions, and just resting in this quality of beingness, sensate beingness that includes everything. So, thank you. That was kind of a very quick introduction to the practice.

Hal Elrod: That was wonderful, Fleet. I gained a ton from that. In fact, I’m going to ask publicly if we have the Miracle Morning app that has guided tracks in it, I would love, let’s you and I connect offline to explore. I’d love for you to, if you’re up for it, submitting some guided tracks like that. I mean, I can take that and put it in the app. What you just led, that was wonderful. So, the best place to find you is HeartMind.co, right? I’m imagining, from that website, can they find the book Radical Responsibility? They can join the Post-Traumatic Growth Global Summit. All of that would be from HeartMind.co?

Fleet Maull: Absolutely. And if they want to go to RadicalResponsibilityBook.com, right there, we currently have– because it just came out in paperback. And so, if you purchase a paperback online, whatever online bookseller take the receipt and post it there, then you get over $1,000 worth of free bonuses from our summits and courses and so forth. So, that’s available right now on RadicalResponsibilityBook.com.

Hal Elrod: Fantastic. I’m going to do that. I didn’t realize that I needed to go to that site. So, I’m glad you shared that. Well, Fleet, hey, you are just a wealth of love and heart, mind, knowledge, everything. I’m so grateful that we got to have this conversation today. Thank you so much.

Fleet Maull: Me, too, Hal. Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for the incredible work you offer to the world.

Hal Elrod: You got it, brother. Well, goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning Community, I love you, I appreciate you. Let’s all take radical responsibility, not for our past, but for who we are today and what we’re going to do to become the best version of ourselves and create the most extraordinary life that we can imagine because we deserve nothing less, but it is our responsibility to create it. Have a great day and make it a great day. I’ll talk to you next week.

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