“If you can take care of yourself and you can be at your best, then you're able to not only enjoy the life you have, create the life you want, you're also able to be the best version of you for the people that you love and the people that you lead.” - Hal Elrod
If you’re someone who meditates, your practice probably entails taking 10-20 minutes out of your busy day to sit in silence.
Does that time give you a sense of peace, calm, and clarity? Most likely—for those 20 minutes.
But what happens when you end your meditation? Do you continue to go through your day with those same levels of peace, calm, and clarity? Or do you become reactive to the outside forces and succumb to your inner turmoil?
“Meditation will get you nowhere. Meditativeness will give you the keys to your inner kingdom. The unserious man puts in his obligatory 20 minutes of meditation, in order to fulfill his daily quota, but the one who is truly serious transforms every single thing that he does into a meditation. In short, he becomes meditative.” —Kapil Gupta
In today’s episode, I’m excited to start by reading a short chapter from the book, Atmamun: The Path to Achieving the Bliss of the Himalayan Swamis and the Freedom of a Living God, written by Kapil Gupta, MD, and then sharing how I implement it, including asking a simple but powerful question that you can begin using immediately.
You’ll learn how to reframe your world, approach every moment of your life in a meditative state—and discover how it feels to live in a heightened state of being and awareness.
- Why meditating to fulfill a daily quota doesn’t permanently eliminate stressors.
- What meditation is really about and why it doesn’t work for the overwhelming majority of people who practice it.
- How emotional optimization meditation works and why it’s one of my favorite forms of meditation.
- The question my former coach asked me that unlocked the door to inner freedom.
- How approaching everything from a meditative state brings joy to everything you do.
THIS EPISODE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
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Hal Elrod: Hello and welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and it is great to connect with you today. Thank you for listening. And we’ve got a show for you today that is short. It’s an actual short one. I think, for years, I always say, we’re going to keep this one short, and it’s rarely short. But today is actually a 25-minute podcast, maybe less. And I think you’ll enjoy this. It’s unique, and that I’m going to read a very short chapter from a book that I am loving on how to make your life a meditation, like every aspect of your life a meditation.
In fact, I was just eating lunch, I recorded the podcast, ate lunch. And now, I’m recording the introduction to give you a full behind-the-scenes look here. But I was eating lunch, and as I took a bite, I closed my eyes. I remembered the podcast today. And each bite, I would close my eyes and I would fully immerse myself in the experience of that bite. And after you listen to the podcast, this will all make a lot more sense right now. You might be like, dude, you’re kind of a weirdo. Why don’t you just eat your lunch with your eyes open? But I am telling you, one little bite of one little cracker dipped in hummus was the most incredible experience.
And so, today is really about how do you bring more fulfillment into your life? And I say this at the end of the podcast. In fact, make sure you listen to the end because I really bring it home at the end of the podcast. But one of the things I said at the end that I want to say right now is that this podcast, the Achieve Your Goals podcast, it’s evolved over the years, of course. And here’s what I’ve realized, in the past few weeks, I did an episode on how to prepare for what’s coming, which got mostly good reviews. I got some critical feedback as well. I’ve done podcasts on different topics where we always come back to, though for me is the most important goal. And the most important goal is taking care of yourself. That, to me, is that’s the ultimate goal. If you can take care of yourself and you can be at your best, then you’re able to not only enjoy the life you have, create the life you want, you’re also able to be the best version of you for the people that you love and the people that you lead.
So, that, to me, is what we keep coming back to is it’s the Achieve Your Goals podcast. There are lots of goals you want to achieve. We have health goals and financial goals, and we’ve done plenty of episodes on evaluating your entire life. In fact, last week’s episode was moving from mediocrity to mastery, and it was identifying the most important areas of your life, where are you settling and then where do you want to improve and how do you improve? So, those are all important goals. We have a lot of goals, a lot of areas of our life that are important, but to me, the ultimate goal comes back to you. And how can you enjoy this one life you’ve been given? And how can you show up every day at your best? How can you start your day with your Miracle Morning, optimizing your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities so that you can go out and you can win the day and create the life and experience the life that you really want?
So, today’s episode is about not all the chaos in the world. There’s a lot of issues going on, a lot of things that we can’t control, that are out of our immediate control. And as I’ve said a gazillion times this last couple of years, when you focus on that which is out of your control, you feel out of control, that leads to stress and anxiety and depression. That’s not where we want to be. That’s not achieving that ultimate goal of optimizing you. That’s what we’re focusing on today.
Before we dive into the podcast, I want to take a minute to acknowledge and thank and promote our sponsor, Organifi. If you’ve got a busy schedule, it can be hard to get all your nutrients in on the go. And even if you had the time to juice vegetables or eat massive salads, you might not love the taste of dark, leafy greens. And as we know, a lack of nutrition can lead to low energy, bad moods, and all sorts of long-term issues. That is why Organifi makes it easy to fill your life with more nutrition using delicious superfood blends. Just add a scoop to a glass of water to energize and nourish your day with carefully picked adaptogens, fruits, vegetables, medicinal mushrooms, and a lot more. It’s one of the easiest healthy choices you can make each and every day, and I’ve been making it for over five years. Head over to Organifi.com/Hal. That is O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I, Organifi.com/Hal, and then use the code H-A-L, HAL at checkout, and you will get an additional 20% off of your entire order as a listener of this podcast. Alright, goal achievers, I love you. I appreciate you. Let’s talk about today, how you can make every aspect of your life a meditation.
Hal Elrod: Hey, goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning Community, friends, and family, thank you for being here today. As always, today, it’s going to be short. I think it’s going to be a short episode, although every time I say that, I don’t think I’ve ever actually followed through, but I really feel like today, it’s going to be short because I want to eat lunch and I’m like 25 minutes away from my lunch break. So, there you go. There’s some full transparency for you.
So, here’s what we’re going to do today. I’m reading a book right now. I’m actually re-reading the book. It’s amazing how, I don’t know if it’s just because my memory is not the best, but when I re-read a book, I’m like, oh my gosh, I completely forgot 99% of this. So, I’m re-reading a book right now. The book is titled, I don’t know how to pronounce it actually, but it’s titled Atmamun or Atmaman, A-T-M-A-M-U-N, pronounce it as you would like. And the subtitle is The path to achieving the bliss of the Himalayan Swamis and the freedom of a living God. I realize that might trigger some people as blasphemy, but let’s keep going. Stick with me here.
And what we’re going to do is I’m going to read the chapter. And again, it’s a short chapter. But on top of that, I’m going to share with you a question that I learned from my coach, and this is a question I learned from my coach about two years ago. We don’t work together anymore, but she’s a life transformation coach. She refers to herself as a spirit coach. Her name is Jenai Lane. And she taught me this question, this one question that’s arguably been the most impactful question of my life. And the other day, I was asking the question and I was reading this chapter, re-reading the chapter, and I put them together and I went, oh, wow, this question really enables you to implement what this chapter is all about.
And the chapter is all about how to make everything a meditation, how to make every moment of your life a meditation so that you are meditative, if you will, in the way you live every day of your life. The title of the chapter is Meditation, What You’ve Never Been Told, and it really is something I had never been told a different way to view meditation, as opposed to a practice where you’re just sitting down for 5 or 10 or 20 minutes and gaining a sense of peace and calm to actually approaching every movement, every moment of your life in a meditative state. It’s really interesting.
And so, what I found is it’s one thing to learn about the concept, which the book teaches, it’s another thing to implement it. And you probably found that with many things in life. It’s one thing you learn a concept, you’re like, wow, that makes a lot of sense. But often that a profound concept might be followed with a, ah, but how do I actually do that? Like, yeah, I get it. But how do I actually do that? And so, I kind of found myself when I’d read the chapter, my mind was blown. But then I really was asking myself, “But how do I do that? How do I really? How do I implement it?” So, today, I’m going to share the chapters, so then we can talk about how you actually do it, and I’m going to share this question that helps you to get there. Alright. I think that’s it for introducing this chapter and what we’re going to talk about. And again, it teaches how to make meditation a part of your every moment existence.
So, here we go. From the book, Atmamun or Atmaman by Kapil Gupta, MD, Meditation, What You’ve Never Been Told, you’ve been told to spend 20 minutes a day in meditation, to take time out of your busy day to sit and breathe. Companies now have meditation rooms and yoga mats to avail their employees of a way to de-stress. As I’ve mentioned, society only has the capability to reveal partial truths. And a partial truth is just as harmful as a whole untruth for it leads to greater frustration when the partial truth does not bear fruit. I will also speak candidly that partial truths would not be so readily published if there wasn’t a market for them. The masses are unserious, and thus, their appetite for unserious information is exploited. Might sitting for 20 minutes of meditation give you a sense of peace? Certainly, for those 20 minutes. For when you resume your daily activities, you will succumb once again to your inner turmoil. Potions only work for a very short time. They are never a permanent solution. If you are serious about truly accomplishing something in this domain, understand this, meditation will get you nowhere. Meditativeness will give you the keys to your inner kingdom. The unserious man puts his obligatory 20 minutes of meditation in order to fulfill his daily quota, but the one who is truly serious transforms every single thing that he does into a meditation. In short, he becomes meditative.
Brushing his teeth is a meditation. Putting on his clothes is a meditation. Driving to work is a meditation. Losing himself in his work is a meditation. Talking to his children is a meditation. Kissing them goodnight is a meditation. Washing the dishes is a meditation. Tapping keys on his computer keyboard is a meditation. Everything is a meditation. And when everything is a meditation, you have become meditative. And when you have become meditative, there is nothing that is done reflexively. And when nothing is done reflexively, it is done perfectly. This, my friend, is the key to human perfection.
Once again, the mindfulness folks will say that this sounds very much like mindfulness. Are they correct? Absolutely. I have never contested the end product of what mindfulness touts, but I fully contest the idea that mindfulness is a practical vehicle to reach this end product. When you meditate, “you are only in meditation when you meditate,” and even that is questionable. When your life is meditative, there is never a time when you are not in meditation. Meditation is not an action, and the world has been taught to treat it as an action. And it is for this reason that it does not work for the overwhelming majority of practitioners. Meditation is not about doing something, it is not about achieving something. It is not about becoming something. Meditation is about allowing rather than doing. It is about stillness rather than achievement and it is certainly not about becoming something. Please understand this, meditation is about becoming less than you ever thought possible.
Meditation is about forgetting yourself. Meditation is about losing yourself. Meditation is about killing the meditator. For the moment, the meditator dies, there is only the meditation. And when there is only the meditation, there is complete peace. If you train yourself to become what you are doing, you will be meditative. If you allow your activity to consume you whole, you will be meditative. Herein lies the secret to creating masterpieces. The doer must disappear. For once the doer disappears, his masterpiece appears.
And then there is a summary of this chapter, the path to Atmamun. The meditation that the world is taught to practice is all about the meditator. It is all about the individual actively engaging in the practice of meditation. As such, it is the doing. But the truth is that exploration of the self is a subtle realm. It cannot be approached in a fashion similar to common tasks. In this realm, the greatest currency is sincerity, and the greatest tool is surrender. When an artist has had the performance of their life, it was because they happen to dissolve into the performance. They simply disappeared, and because they disappeared, there was no interference. As such, it became a meditative experience. For as long as there is a meditator who is meditating, nothing will happen. Once the meditator disappears, all things suddenly become possible.
Now, if you’re like me when you hear that or when I read that, I went, wow, that resonates, that’s profound. But I was left with the okay, well, wait, but how do I get there? Like, how do I do that? How do I make every moment of my life? How do I become meditative, where everything is a meditation? As the author, Kapil Gupta, MD, said in the book, brushing your teeth is a meditation, putting on your clothes, driving to work, losing yourself in your work, talking to your children, kissing them goodnight, washing the dishes, tapping keys on the computer keyboard, all of that is a meditation. When you become meditative, it’s a state of being. I would call it a heightened state of being, a heightened state of awareness. And what I’ve been doing since I re-read this chapter, probably less than a week ago, a few days ago, is I’ve really been applying it. Each day, I added it to my affirmations in the morning so I’m reminded to become meditative and experience every moment as a meditation.
And one of the ways that I found that I can do that, and I’ll get to the question here in a second that’s really helpful for this but is really tapping into my senses. And as you said, I think it’s a very fine line between what he’s talking about and mindfulness. He even said I think that does this sound like mindfulness? Yes, it does. But really paying attention, like look at your hand right now. Right now, look at your hand and look at the texture of your hand. And the older you are, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve got more texture. I got more wrinkles and I got more lines on my hand than I think that I used to. My kids, their hands are just perfectly silky smooth. Mine is a little textured. But look at the hand and just admire it, just appreciate it. I did this this morning with my hand, I did it with our fireplace, I just stared at a little square of rock on our fireplace. And I went, man, so much of my reality, of my life, of my existence, I just miss. Think about that, like right now, if you just stop and stare in front of you and then actually pay attention to what your field of vision is picking up. To my left, I can see this Success magazine article that I have on my wall, this framed thing. This other thing is a picture of a gift that someone gave me of the Miracle Equation book. I’ve got my computers right here. I’ve got my mixers down here. My microphone is here, my bookshelves over to the right. There is so much in my field of vision, but very rarely are we present to all that we’re taking in.
And of course, that makes sense. You’ve got to pay attention, you’ve got to focus. That makes sense. But I just thought this was, for me, it’s been really valuable, it’s really been fulfilling to take this chapter to read it, re-read it, as you can see, it was like a five-minute read, and to really focus on being meditative. And I don’t think that there’s a black-and-white definition of what that means. So, it really is an exploration, which for me was very freeing. I think that when I read the chapter and I went, okay, but I don’t know how to do it, I was looking for that black-and-white solution that answers that strategy, that method. And then I realized, wait, what if it’s just an exploration? What if it’s an exploration where I am asking the question, and this isn’t the question I’m going to share today, but here’s a question, how can I be meditative? How can I be meditative in this moment? How can I be more meditative? What if it’s just an exploration of experiencing the fullness of life?
I forgot where I read that a long time ago, or maybe it was even just something I shared on the podcast or both. But you think about– oh, no, it was from Shinzen Young’s book, The Science of Enlightenment, that’s what it was from. But he talked about meditation and that it was about training yourself to be able to get more out of life. It didn’t mean you were going to necessarily live longer, although there was science to show that meditation can actually help you live longer and help improve your health and your immune system and all of that. But he was talking about that it’s not that meditation extends the years of life, but it extends the life in your years. And I’m sure I’m butchering the way that he said it but something along those lines where it’s this idea that the more present you are to each moment, the more you’re actually experiencing the fullness of this gift of life that we’ve been given.
And I don’t know about you, but think about how an entire day can go by, and you weren’t really present, at least for me, I know there are days where I’m just– in fact, maybe most days, which is why this resonated so much with me. I thought I want to become meditative. I want to really become more meditative where it’s not just a practice in the morning. And I think there’s value for sure to the practice in the morning. In fact, especially I shared with you on the podcast, my favorite form of meditation is what I call emotional optimization meditation, which is very different from any kind of meditation I’ve ever been taught before. It’s one I just came up with and it’s where you identify the optimal emotional state that you would choose to be in for the day or for that moment. That step one is identify the state. I want to feel happy, I want to feel at peace, I want to feel confident, I want to feel grateful. Identify the emotion, that’s step one.
Step two is you simply think of what is something that makes me feel that way? Maybe it’s a person or an activity or an event or a habit. Or when was the last time I felt happy, at peace, confident, joyful? You’re trying to get in touch with that emotional state in a very real way, win-win. Have you felt that before so that you can bring that into the present moment? So, that’s step two is identifying some sort of stimulus to bring about that emotion within you. And then once you’ve got a hold, once you grab that emotion, you go, okay, I know what that feels like, then you set your timer for five or ten minutes and you simply, I like to use the word marinate instead of meditate. Yes, you’re meditating, but you’re really marinating in that emotional state. You are programming your nervous system to experience that emotion at will. You’re choosing how you want to feel rather than feeling based on some reaction to an external event. You’re choosing, consciously choosing, proactively choosing, and what you’re doing is you’re conditioning that emotional state in your nervous system, in your subconscious mind so that (A) it becomes more of who you are, just how you naturally feel, and (B) you have the ability to access that emotional state at any given moment.
So, that was just a quick two-minute crash course on emotional optimization meditation. Many of you have heard it before. Never hurts to hear it again. But that’s one of my favorite forms of meditation. I do it on a daily basis, and even at any given time when I’m not feeling optimal, I’m not feeling confident or happy or whatever, I’m feeling some sort of emotion that I feel like I’ve lost control. Like, I’m experiencing stress over these things that I can’t control and then I will just go, okay, set the timer, get ready, and do my emotional optimization meditation.
What Kapil Gupta, MD, is saying in his book is about it’s being meditative. So, this is a form of experiencing the fullness of life or a method for experiencing the fullness of life. So, here’s the question that has helped me with this. The question I learned from Jenai Lane, my coach, as I mentioned, and it’s a great entry point into being meditative. So, here’s the question, and then I’ll give kind of the back story. What would be here now if there wasn’t a problem to solve? What would be here now in this moment if there wasn’t a problem to solve? And let me ask you, we’ll dive into that question, but I want to ask you some questions about the question or why it’s important, when was the last time that you didn’t have something on your mind that you felt like you needed to solve or figure out or get done or accomplish? Think about that. When was the last time that somewhere in your consciousness, this thing or many things that you felt, oh, I got to get this done, I got to figure it out?
Here’s the thing is, when we’re feeling like we constantly have something we need to solve, it causes stress, like this sometimes subtle stress, but it’s sometimes not so subtle, it can be a top of mind, it can be very stressful, but it prevents us from really being at peace and present to the perfection of each moment. The moment expects nothing from us. There are no expectations from this moment. And interestingly, the moment is the only thing that is real. The rest is in our head. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t solve and figure out and accomplish things such as life, of course, but how might your day-to-day experience be enhanced if you started each day by taking a deep breath and then spending some time pondering that question, this question, what would be here now if there wasn’t a problem to solve?
The answer to that question for me, it’s usually something along the lines of you know what? It could be nothing or love or perfection. This moment exists, I’ve done podcasts on that before, the moment is virtually always perfect. It’s just we’re thinking about something, worrying about something, the past, the future, etc. But to me, the answer of what would be here now if there wasn’t a problem to solve, again, it’s perfection. That’s often my answer. Joy, love, peace. You know what? Here’s the answer. It’s whatever we choose is here. Think about that. What would be here now if there wasn’t a problem to solve? The answer is whatever you choose, it’s whatever you choose to experience. This is really a question that opens the door to the inner freedom that we’ve talked about for the last couple of years, which is, oh, I can choose what’s here now. It doesn’t have to be this stress that I’m mindlessly feeling. You catch yourself constantly thinking about something, worrying about something. There’s something you’ve got to do, and this constant, like I said, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, stress in some form. But when you ask yourself that question, to me, it’s a key that unlocks the door to inner freedom, it’s the key that unlocks the door to being able to be in that meditative state where you go, oh, I don’t have anything that I have to worry about, at least not now.
And here’s the thing, throughout the day, this is something that I invite you to do. Again, we have issues that we need to take care of. I don’t know if it was a podcast episode, or I know I posted on social media that, in life, there are no problems, only situations. Yeah, we did a podcast on this a while back. Problem is a label. It’s a word that you assign to your situations. And when you call them problems, that usually brings about a certain emotional response inside of you. Oh my God, I have so many problems. So, that’s stressful. Man, I got so many situations. They’re all like puzzles that are intriguing, some of them are really challenging and some are like, I don’t know how to figure out, or you follow like we talked about a couple of weeks ago, you change your perspective, it changes everything.
And so, this idea of being meditative, to me, it’s not I don’t know, I guess mastery of that concept would eventually be where every second of the day, you could be meditative. No matter what you were doing, if you’re just so present in the moment where everything you do, shooting hoops, playing basketball, that’s me personally, I’m about to go shoot hoops after lunch, but whatever you do, this is our ability. And so, this is our opportunity, our ability to experience life as we choose to experience it, to be fully present in the moment, to look at the back of your hand and go, wow, that is fascinating. Look at those fingernails, look at those knuckles. If you’re not looking at your hand right now, do it, do it, do it. It’s my second time on the podcast just staring at my hand and actually finding joy. That’s the interesting thing.
I’m glad I thought of this. When you become meditative, what I’ve found is that you experience joy in everything that you do. I experience joy staring at the back of my hand. I’m just fascinated by it, I’m fully present. I experience joy walking from one room to the next feeling every step that I take and the subtle wind on my arms, not even wind, just the airflow on my arms, the sounds. Using your sense is a great way to become meditative. I mean, what do we do when we meditate? Often, people start their first meditation as following your breath. And what are you doing? You’re following the sound and the sensation of your breath, you’re using your senses, your auditory, you’re listening to the sound of your breath, you’re feeling the sound of your breath, you’re using your senses to meditate. And so, to become meditative means paying attention to your senses all the time.
And look, I get it, we all have challenges, problems, situations, whatever you want to label them that we’re facing. And today’s episode isn’t about solving your problems. And my heart goes out to you. Whatever problems or challenges, whatever you’re facing, we all have them. I have plenty of them. But we only get one life, and I don’t know about you, but in the midst of all of the challenges and situations and things that I got to figure out, I prefer to find– it’s not hard to find more things that I have to figure out. I got a long to-do list, but it does take contention to actually experience the fullness of this life that we’ve been gifted. That takes intention, that takes attention, that takes a focus and an effort.
And so, that’s what today’s episode is about, and a lot of the episodes that I record for you is bringing your attention to the things that aren’t coming at you every day. This isn’t the kind of thing that, probably this topic, unless you read the Atmamun book. By the way, here’s the spelling if you want to look it up, it’s A-T-M-A-M-U-N. And again, I don’t know the pronunciation, Atmamun, that’s what I call it, Atmamun. So, that’s what I want to do is I want to bring these concepts into your life that enhance your quality of life while you’re dealing with all of the situations that you have to deal with. There’s so much chaos in the world. Absolutely. But when we focus our energy on all of that chaos, it creates inner chaos, and then who are we good to at that point?
When I’m feeling inner turmoil and I’m chaotic on the inside and I’m stressed out and I’m in a fear state, I’m not at my best for my wife and for my kids and for my family and for my community and for myself. And I think that I want to keep bringing you back to that, to remember, like, look, when you focus on that which is out of your control, you feel out of control. And ultimately, the one thing you can control is you. And I believe that we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to those we love and those we lead to be at our best for ourselves and for them. And that’s I guess what the Achieve Your Goals podcast has kind of become as everything I can do to help you achieve the goal of being at your best so that you can go achieve all of your other goals. I think that’s the central goal. That’s the crucial goal. That’s the most important. That’s what the Miracle Morning is about. It’s waking up every day and dedicating time to be at your best so that you go it into your day and you can achieve everything that you want to achieve, that you can engage with the people that are important to you in a way that is optimal that fills you up, that fills them up and enriches your life. So, that’s it.
Let’s be more meditative. Remember that question, what would be here now if there wasn’t a problem to solve? I don’t know about you, but I like what’s here now. When I flip the switch on my brain, my mind that’s constantly running, trying to solve problems nonstop, 24/7. I try to give myself as many breaks as I can beginning with my morning routine and my evening routine, bookending the day with gratitude and peace and love and serenity, and then using this question and this approach, this concept of being meditative throughout the day to bring as many of those moments throughout my day to enrich my life, and that is what I am hoping will be helpful for you to do the same. So, goal achievers, friends, family, members of the Miracle Morning Community, I love you so much. And I will talk to you all next week.