In this episode, I talk with davidji. David has taught more than 200,000 people how to meditate. He ran the Chopra University for a decade, and I first met him when I attended Hay House’s “I Can Do It” summit in Seattle a couple years ago. He’s written 3 books: Secrets of Meditation, Destressifying, and his most recent Sacred Powers.
I really love what he says in Sacred Powers, and I think you’ll enjoy this episode hearing the journey of transformation that he experiences as he was working on Wallstreet until one day that all changed as well as the one piece of advice he would give every American. I’ve never heard that before—a very interesting way of explaining what America is and what he wished every American knew. So, enjoy!
[3:12] What life’s about
[8:00] Davidji’s origin story
[9:02] Watching the Twin Towers collapse
[16:16] What’s going to be on your tombstone?
[19:33] Hair turned from red to white in a week
[23:03] Don’t need to head off to India in search of the guru
[23:20] Introducing pattern interrupts into your life
[25:35] Time for a reboot
[27:05] 70,000 thoughts a day
[29:40] Pattern interrupt = higher scoring percentage
[34:30] Connecting to our inner wisdom
[36:39] Energy cannot be created nor destroyed
[46:45] Meditating with his pet Peaches, the Buddha Princess
[47:32] Why he wrote destressifying
[52:25] Lightning round
[56:50] What every American should know
[1:07:40] The writing process
[1:09:00] Writing every day
[1:16:51] For the person who shuns meditations or mindfulness
[1:20:00] Everybody on the planet could use more love
[1:26:36] How energy is revealed, from concept to reality
[1:56:40] How can I heal others
[2:05:30] Learn more at Davidji.com
[2:06:50] 16 second meditation
Bryan Miller: Hello my friends, welcome to the School for Good Living podcast. In this episode, I talk with Davidji. David has taught more than 200,000 people how to meditate. He ran the Chopra University for a decade, and I first met him when I attended Hay House’s “I Can Do It” summit in Seattle a couple years ago…spent a half-day in a workshop he led…loved what I heard, is perspectives on mindfulness and meditation. He really does demystify some of these things that seem so esoteric. He’s written 3 books: “Secrets of Meditation,” a guy who’s written a book about mediation—no surprise—he demystifies it. It’s a nautilus award-winning book. I highly recommend. He’s also written a book called “Destressifying,” where he takes out a lot of the mystical or religious associations of mindfulness and makes it very very practical in settings like schools or universities or workplaces…and law enforcement and military as well…a great book. And then his most recent book is one called “Sacred Powers,” and I really love what he says in “Sacred Powers,” and I think. you’ll enjoy this episode, hearing the journey of transformation that he experiences as he was working on Wallstreet, doing Mergers and Acquisitions, wearing a suit and tie everyday, and one day that all changed. He’ll tell you about that, and I think you’ll also enjoy hearing a bit about how he writes…kind of a unique process. And then some of the answers he provides in the lightning round I think are really cool too about how he travels internationally—rules he follows—and the one piece of advice he would give every American. I’ve never heard that before—a very interesting way of explaining what America is and what he wished every American knew. So, with that, I hope you enjoy this episode—I hope that it encourages you to practice even deeper mindfulness if that’s your thing. If you don’t, I think you’ll still enjoy hearing from a very dedicated, through and through, thorough person—if you think about it, when you talk to anyone who’s passionate about anything, and it’s so engrained in who they are, there’s something to be learned, and usually it’s enjoyable. Davidji even meditates with his dog, Peaches, the Buddha Princess. So, enjoy!
Bryan Miller: Well, really good to see you again. Thank you for making time today.
Davidji: Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure.
Bryan Miller: So, what’s life about?
Davidji: What’s life about? You know, I change my mind on that several times a day. Sometimes I think it goes back to that Sufi poet Hafiz, “When all of your desires are distilled, you will cast but two votes: to love more and to be happy.” So, sometimes I think it’s that. Sometimes I think we’re here to just raise a vibration. Each of us has this powerful ripple, and we’re trying to coordinate or align or do something with 7.6 billion vibrations of humans and animals and all the essential life on the planet.
But I think we find that out perhaps when we take our last breath. It’s like that Steve Jobs moment, “Wow, wow, wow.” Maybe that was him going like, “Oh. Oh, that’s what it’s all about.” I think since we don’t have that, and since it’s a faith and a trust, I think we have to just dig deep and show up and lead with our heart. That’s probably it, and then maybe one day we’ll find out.
Bryan Miller: Beautiful. It’s a mystery to be lived.
Davidji: I think … or I hope so.
Bryan Miller: Awesome, awesome. Okay. Cool. So, when you meet somebody and you tell them a little bit about who you are and what you do, what do you say?
Davidji: I’m pretty lucky about that. When people say, “Are you that guy?” I often say, “Probably not.” I haven’t really done a heck of a lot to announce that, “Here I am.” I consider myself a channel, a conduit, and not in a woo-woo, kooky kind of way, but I figure there’s … In my small, tiny, little eight-pound brain, that’s just a component of me. I refer to myself sometimes as a translator of timeless wisdom or a conduit or a channel of the divine, and I’m just trying to figure out … I think we all are channels of the divine. A lot of people refer to me sometimes as a guru, and I’m really comfortable saying I’m not a guru. I’m just a guy. I’m just a guy.
I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences, and I’ve explored and studied with a lot of really wise people, and unwise people. Hopefully, I’m just a … and I believe we all are this. The universe is breathing into me, and I’m breathing out. I’ve got my style. Bryan, you have your style. Everybody has their style. I’m just trying to help people get closer to whatever that divine whisper is that’s coming [inaudible 00:03:20] inside of us, whether that’s a whisper of purpose, a whisper of love, but certainly a whisper of some kind of energy.
Yeah, we’re clothed in all these 21st century whatever, strangleholds, as well as this flesh casing. We’re all just doing our best. As Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” I’m just somebody helping somebody get home.
Bryan Miller: Love that. I love that. That’s beautiful. I’ve been so impressed to see how you’ve devoted your life to teaching meditation and training other people to teach it, and I know that from the first time I met you. I didn’t know who you were until I attended the Hay House I Can Do It! summit in Seattle a couple years back. I spent … I think it was a morning session with you, a few hours, where we were able to go a little bit deeper than just somebody giving a keynote, and you shared a story that you shared again in Sacred Powers about an experience you had after 9/11. What I loved in Sacred Powers is you went deeper into that story than I had head it before, and I think of that, perhaps, as maybe your origin story. If you were a superhero, this, I think, is maybe your origin story, and I wonder if you’d be willing to share that story again for all our friends listening.
Davidji: Sure. It was certainly a powerful defining moment for me. In Sacred Powers, I refer to that as a butterfly moment, and I think we all have those. Sometimes we’re just not paying attention, but this was one of those moments where I think God, the universe, the divine, whatever, was screaming to me or whacking me in the head with a two-by-four saying, “Pay attention.”
I worked in the World Trade Center for a while, and I was fortunate enough to leave that. I worked on the 82nd floor of Tower 2, and I was fortunate to leave that building about six months before 9/11, back in the day. I also got the opportunity, in the place where I then was working, to be standing on the roof on 9/11, from 20 blocks further uptown, and actually watched the towers collapse, with my staff and with a bunch of people who I was working with. I would say, going back, that is really the very, very first seed, because when I watched the first tower collapse, I couldn’t really even understand it. I had been in total control of every thought that I had had leading up to that moment, and just witnessing that, my brain couldn’t wrap itself around it.
I had looked at the World Trade Center, at the Twin Towers, for years. Growing up, they were a part of everything, and it was really in that moment, watching that first tower collapse, with people in it who we all knew, as we were watching this, it was such an extreme like, “How could this thing ever possibly even happen? I don’t understand it.” For the very first time in my life, I was actually watching something that I couldn’t understand. It was out of my ken, out of my zone, out of any aspect of understanding. That had a powerful impact on, from that moment, how I thought about life and the world. I was in a state of very, very deep sorrow, and it was a time of also a lot of deep reflection because suddenly everything I thought was, “Here’s how the world is,” suddenly was not. Suddenly, I woke up from a bunch of years of amnesia.
In the wake of 9/11, in the days and weeks, as I continued to walk through Manhattan, on this one day … and it was just a couple of weeks afterwards, maybe 10 days afterwards … and I was walking in SoHo, south of Houston Street in southern Manhattan, I walked past a row of cardboard boxes that people were living in. As I walked past this particular … and you have to realize I was in the world of M&A. I wasn’t paying attention to the people living in cardboard boxes at the time. Not that everyone at M&A wasn’t paying attention to people in cardboard boxes, but my attention was elsewhere.
Bryan Miller: Yeah. Just for our listeners who might not know the term M&A, mergers and acquisitions. This is a corporate life. You’re maybe wearing a tie every day. You’re in the finance and money world.
Davidji: I’m wearing a three-piece suit, wingtips, a tie every single day.
Bryan Miller: Your hair probably wasn’t quite as long.
Davidji: And my hair was a lot shorter.
Bryan Miller: Okay.
Davidji: I think it was actually a color. It actually was red. Now, there is no pigment in my hair. People say, “Do you have gray hair?” I go, “Actually, my hair is red hair with zero pigment in it.” It’s lost all its pigment. It’s white.
Yeah, I was working in finance. I was a mergers and acquisitions advisor, helping companies figure out how they should merge together. For me, I was coming to find that it was a soulless pursuit for me, because I wasn’t really, really on the inside. I was just an advisor, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. It was good money, but I was just working for the money.
Bryan Miller: How old are you at this time?
Bryan Miller: 30s?
Davidji: Yeah. You figure what you do when you’re in your 30s, you’re going to do for the rest of your life, so this is pretty much what I was going to do. I figured one day, I’ll die.
I had started meditating many, many years-
Bryan Miller: One day.
Davidji: … before then, but dabbled in it on and off. It was an experimental Asian studies course in college, and there were 12 of us. We sat in a circle with our Zen master, who stood in the corner. We were instructed to raise our hands when we had a thought during the meditation. In his hands, he carried that 18-inch bamboo stick, known as a keisaku, and when we raised our hands, he would come over and thwack us on the back. I was like, “Really? This is meditation?” So, I only lasted in that circle meditation a couple of weeks. I found myself lying to my Zen master like, “No. I’m not having thoughts. It’s okay.”
Then, over the years, I dabbled in meditation because it always brought me calm. It always brought me a little bit of balance. As I got more deeply ingrained into the corporate world and business and finance, I suddenly realized that I had traded in my early morning meditation ritual for an early morning train ride to the World Trade Center, and I had traded in my evening ritual for a nice, big glass of scotch, and like that, balance was gone from my life. That was like the one thing that I was aware of like, “Oh, I remember that thing I used to do, that meditation.” Some of those meditation techniques I tried for years, some I dabbled in for weeks, but I kept going on and off and falling in and out of that. That was really the only correlation that I could come up with. I no longer meditate, and I no longer have balance.
I was feeling unfulfilled. I was feeling relatively empty in my job, and after 9/11, I couldn’t understand anything. I couldn’t figure anything out. I couldn’t really … Is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? Why am I here? All those questions that we started talking about. What’s the meaning of life? [crosstalk 00:11:31] As I’m walking past this row of cardboard boxes that people are living in, I walked past this one box, and a hand reaches out, grabs my pant leg, and just holds on. Normally, I would have just shaken it off or kept moving. It’s New York. I just stopped and really leaned in, and this guy peered up at me. He was pretty much covered in soot, dirty, craggy, clearly had not bathed in a while, but he had these gorgeous, magnificent, really cerulean blue, crystalline eyes. We gazed into each other’s eyes, and we locked eyes.
One of the first things he did was grab my pant leg, and in that moment, everything stopped. I had lived in New York pretty much my whole life, up until that moment. Suddenly, no sounds of traffic. No other people on the street. No planes overhead. There’s nothing happening. There’s total silence. It’s deeper than silence. I was aware that the two of us were like the only individuals in existence in that moment. I had no peripheral vision. There was nothing in that moment. It was a holy moment.
He first said to me, “So, what’s going to be on your tombstone?” I was like … I gasped. Suddenly, it’s like … It hit me so deeply, because here I was, walking around purposeless, not thinking about, “What is my purpose, or what is my meaning?” The voice asks me probably the most profound question, right up until you asked me a few minutes ago. I froze. There was nothing coming out of me, and I figured, “Oh, this is just a guy who wants some money,” so I reached into my pocket, and he actually pinned my hand against my pocket, and he said, “It’s not about the money.” I was like, “What?” A person in a cardboard box, and you’re reaching to give them money, and that’s not what it’s about. He said, “The answer’s in the stars.”
Then he encouraged me to … This felt like it was a 100 years, probably just a few minutes, but there was no time. There was no space. It was his eyes and these questions and these statements coming into me. He encouraged me to go find my sacred powers. Then, suddenly, everything suddenly came back, and the traffic was there, and the people were there, and he was there, and the box was there. I pulled out the bills almost on autopilot, dropped them, and then picked them up to hand them to him, and he was gone. He had slunked back into that little box. It didn’t follow the pattern of someone who’s asking for a handout. It didn’t follow … Nothing was normal about this. I peaked the bills into the curtain. There was a blanket or a towel that was like the door.
Then I started to keep walking, and then suddenly I had no strength. I had no strength in my legs. I was dripping sweat. I was hyperventilating. I sat down maybe 20 feet away, 25 feet away, on the stairs of an apartment building, and just replayed that conversation that probably had been about, I don’t know, three minutes with a lot of long, pregnant pauses between each word and each phrase. I said nothing during that time. This was just like a monologue. Of course, I mention in Sacred Powers I think they chalked it up to just another zany, kooky New York City … the Big Apple, but it was still rippling through me so deeply, and it was just in the days and weeks after that that my hair … I don’t know if you ever saw that old TV show The Munsters, Yvonne De Carlo. She had black hair with a white racing stripe down it.
Bryan Miller: Wow.
Davidji: That’s what it started [crosstalk 00:16:09]
Bryan Miller: How long did it take for that to begin?
Davidji: My hair suddenly started becoming white, and it was red, like ginger [crosstalk 00:16:14]
Bryan Miller: Wow.
Davidji: And [inaudible 00:16:16] I was like a freckled-faced strawberry, they called me growing up, and suddenly … I mean, there were physiological, biological things happening to me as well.
Bryan Miller: How long did it take for your hair to start changing after that?
Davidji: Oh, it was that week.
Bryan Miller: So, it was basically immediate. That’s amazing.
Davidji: Yeah. It was …
Bryan Miller: Wow.
Davidji: Yeah, it was crazy. It was crazy, but that was just sort of like an outward sign. I was changing so deeply inside, and so there were like powerful shifts going on. People often ask me, “Why are so many women involved in the world of spirituality and not so many men?” One of my assessments is because women’s physiology changes. They’re very aware that there are shifts going on inside of them, whether that’s premenopause or perimenopause or menopause or post. There’s shifts that are physical and emotional going on, and that’s happening in men at all, but it’s been schooled out of us to, “Don’t pay attention. Just get back to work. Go strive and achieve.” I think there’s that vibe, but this was one of those moment where I was actually feeling physical shifts to my physiology, as well as deep questionings and, as the great sage Popeye the Sailor Man said, “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more,” or you could say Roberto Duran, “No mas.”
It was that moment where I was like, “I’m not going to live my life one more day like this, and I’m going to explore what the heck this guy was talking about.” Was this God talking to me? I haven’t been particularly religious. Was this a divine aha moment? Certainly a defining moment, and then I just went off on my little eat, pray, love journey without the eating and the love.
Bryan Miller: One of the things I think is so amazing about this story is that your transformation coincided with a physical destruction. The buildings came down, and the city was changed, and then you were affected by that. One of the things I often say in my coaching is that, in my experience, life works until it doesn’t. In this case, it was like many people’s lives kind of stopped working, and for you, it was a physical … these buildings came down, and many people, it’s something else. It’s not as physical. It’s maybe not as observable. It’s maybe something internally somebody leaves a divorce unexpectedly, or maybe somebody has a diagnosis, as you know, these moments of these crucibles that we’re faced with. One of the things I’m so impressed by with your story is how it inspires me to know that it is possible for us to transform. My hope is that it won’t take others something so drastic or so painful to do it.
Davidji: Well, that’s why I often say to people, if I’m speaking to a group, “You don’t have to quit your job. You don’t have to blow up your life. You don’t have to head off to India in search of the guru.”
Bryan Miller: Yeah. I love that.
Davidji: I’ve done that for you.
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: I’ve done all the heavy lifting. You asked me earlier, how do I define myself? One of the ways that I explain what I do is I teach people to introduce pattern interrupts into their life, and I believe that science is proving that if we work on a project or if we’re stuck to our screen for more than 45 minutes, we would be much better served if we took a break at the 45-minute mark, even just to walk around the room or go to the bathroom or jump around a little bit, just breathe air, and then come back. I believe that we can change. If we’re having a challenging conversation with someone, we can pull back and do that. I mean, neurological science has now proved that if you are stuck on a problem and you’re trying to get the solution, what’s happening is like the space between the dendrites and axons, the synapse, they’re not connecting, the spaces. It’s almost like forcing them apart.
If we take some type of break, whatever that is, a deep breath in, 10 seconds, five minutes, whatever that is, change the subject in some way, when they pull apart and come back together, there’s a higher likelihood that they’re going to come back together more connected, more aligned. We can do that if we’re watching a movie, and we’re watching the movie, and then suddenly there’s that guy on the screen, and it’s like, “Oh, what’s that actor’s name?” It’s like, “Oh, he’s that guy who was in that thing. Oh,” and we’re getting further away from it. Suddenly, it’s like, “He was with that other actor, and what’s his name?” Suddenly, you get so lost, and then someone says, “Hey. You want some popcorn?” You’re like, “Oh, yeah. I love popcorn. Oh, oh, yeah. Harvey Keitel.”
Suddenly, just that pulling away allows us to be better problem solvers. It allows the brain to function at a higher level, for me and for all of us.
Bryan Miller: Yeah. What I love about that, I love that this is even … Often, the mystical can seem inaccessible. What I hear in what you’re sharing is something so simple. It’s really the principle there of non-doing, the moment you stop trying, in some cases at least, and then it’s like the answer arrives or the solution is evident. It’s really beautiful.
Davidji: Right. Everyone on this planet has said, “Ugh, my computer’s jammed up. Let me reboot.” We so nonchalantly, “Oh, my phone’s stuck. Let me turn it off and let me turn it on.” We don’t do that … Sometimes we do that, but we don’t have that as, “Oh, time for a reboot. Oh, time for a reboot. Oh, this conversation has gotten really nasty. Time for a reboot.” But when we look at this concept of pattern interrupts, I believe … a diagnosis. Your partner just says, “It’s not working anymore.” You’re thinking you’re doing really well at work, and suddenly the feedback is, “Well, actually, maybe you’re doing great, but everyone hates you.” Suddenly, it’s that little piece of information that you suddenly get that, of course, can be a pattern interrupt.
Nature does it through the seasons. They have these breaks. It’s not like summer, winter. There’s actually like transition periods. You don’t know, there’s going to be a thaw now, or suddenly everything’s going to freeze up. It’s the crocuses popping through the frost. I think that this concept of the pattern interrupt, no matter where we introduce it … It happens on TV when they give you the commercials … we need it. We thrive from it, because at the deepest level, in terms of who we are, we have, say, 70,000 thoughts a day. According to the UCLA neuro lab, we have 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s like a thought every 1.2 seconds, and so the next thought comes in, then the next thought, then the next thought, then the next thought. What allows the next thought to be different than the one that just came into it? It’s not like chromosomes where they just replicate and replicate.
Because there’s a space between each thought, and maybe that’s a millisecond, maybe it’s a sliver, but if we can become aware of that space, if we can connect to that space … and I believe that space is who we truly are. We’re not our thoughts. We’re not our physical body. We have a physical body, and we have thoughts, but we’re not our physical body, and we’re not thoughts. We are the space between those thoughts. If we can actually connect to that space, which is who we truly are at the deepest level … I don’t know, you want to call it soul or spirit or essence, whatever that is, but we are that space, just like if we took a deep breath. If we just breathe normally right now, then we’d say, “Oh, I’m breathing in,” and, “Oh, I’m breathing out,” we would suddenly become aware like, “Oh.”
But there’s actually like a flicker of stillness between the inhale and the exhale and the exhale and the inhale, that space between there. Life is activity, and we’re sort of like that stillness between all of that. Any time we can connect to that, that allows the next moment to possibly be a little more … to have greater potential. I think that’s where creativity comes from. It’s not by having the same dialogue and the same condition flow of all of our actions or words or thoughts. It’s suddenly that there’s a space that we acknowledge or recognize, and that allows … You see it in baseball when the manager goes out to the mound, you know?
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: It’s a pattern interrupt. He’s standing up there. They’re talking. We’ve seen all those movies where they’re really just saying nothing. It’s like, “How you doing? Hey. What’d you do last night?” A pattern interrupt, it’s a break in the action. It happens in football when the coach tries to freeze the kicker. Suddenly, it’s like … and there was a recent study … It’s about three months old … with European football, soccer, where the penalty kickers, when you pull down when you’re taking a shot, you get a free shot, a free kick at the goal. For those of you who don’t know soccer, come out of your cave. So, they’ve proved that … or at least they’ve revealed or discovered that those penalty kickers, the guy taking the penalty shot …
Bryan Miller: Wow.
Davidji: … if he waits at least 10 seconds, he has a higher scoring percentage, no matter who he is, no matter what’s going on. If they just put it down, and he’s like really revved up, and he’s got all the adrenaline pumping, and he just gets there and kicks it, lower scoring percentage than if he just takes that extra few seconds. We know the power of the pattern interrupt, and we don’t access it because we’re caught up in the stream of every single moment, especially if you’re a high achiever, especially if you’re crushing it out there. You didn’t learn to crush it by taking a break. That would be the loser’s path. That would be the slacker’s path. High achievers and certainly people … attribute their success between being really, really focused and keep leaning in hard and hard and hard and not taking that break, but those people probably have their own mechanisms-
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: … for introducing pattern interrupts so they can be more creative, so they can be more solution oriented, and so that they can really choose a different path. I’m a big TV watcher. I know, it’s lame, but I watch lots and lots of TV. Every quarter, I change up my favorites that are on my cable. I’m old school. I’m cable. I haven’t cut the cord yet, but I want to suddenly introduce a whole new scenario of conversation and of things that I’m watching and things that I’m listening to. That’s why I’ll suddenly pick up a book that I would never read, and I’ll just pick it up and read it just to be like, “Well, that was horrible, but it suddenly brought me into this thing, and now I’m in that space,” to come back to whatever I thought was relevant at that time.
Bryan Miller: Awesome. No, I love that you help people interrupt themselves and elevate the quality of their life in doing so and not waiting for life to interrupt them. In Sacred Powers, this is something I see. Here’s this pattern of so many tools and awarenesses that I think you help the reader gain, or maybe see or experience for themselves. I’m interested to know … First of all, with Secrets of Meditation, which I loved, how it’s kind of a tour of the world’s meditation styles and a smorgasbord almost, and I loved trying out each one and figuring out what worked for me and what I enjoyed. Then, with this new one, with Sacred Powers, I felt like it was an opportunity to go deeper into myself. I’m wondering, from your perspective, now as just having finished reading the book, I really want to know what led you to write it. Why did the world need this book, and who did you write it for?
Davidji: Well, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read it, and hopefully you found value in it. I get hundreds of emails every week … and even at that conference in Seattle, and pretty much I’m on the road 200+ days a year teaching meditation and working with cops and the military and Dutch special forces and just regular people as well, people in the corporate world. I get hundreds of emails of people asking me if they should leave their spouse, if they should quit their job. Should they do the chemo, or should they try a holistic response?
Wherever I am … I just did a book signing this past weekend, and some people were like, “Oh, thanks. I love the book. Thanks for spending time with us,” and then there’s always someone who says, “I’m really at a crossroads right now. I’m stuck, and I don’t know what I should do.” I don’t want to give the pablum like, “Oh, just trust the universe and you’ll make the best decision,” and I certainly don’t want to say, “Yeah, you should dump that loser,” or, “Quit that job where they don’t respect you,” because who am I to tell someone else … There’s lots of jobs where people aren’t respected, and they thrived, and they end up becoming the CEO of that company, so who am I to say, “Yes, now’s the time to step away”? I figured if I could share some of these deepest teachings that don’t tell you, “Stay,” or, “Go,” they don’t tell you, “Tough it out,” or throw guilt in a certain way.
The teachings say there are processes that exist, and have existed for thousands of years, for us to connect to our inner wisdom. I believe that the answer to every question rests inside. I believe the answer to every question we could ever ask ourselves or be asked by another rests deeply inside of us, but we have to be able to access it. Again, when we’re trying to get there, we’re probably not going to come up with the most [inaudible 00:31:45] response. What led me to … I think it was I had just gotten an email, and it’s like a 10-page email. “This is happening. That’s happening. Should I leave my cheating husband? Should I quit my high-powered job where I’m making ridiculous money and I have great respect, but I’m feeling unfulfilled?” It was some questions about their health. I was like, “Who am I to tell you?”
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: I think even the greatest life coach in the world helps coach the answer out, doesn’t say, “Do it,” that classic psychiatrist saying, “Well, what do you think you should do?” I wrote Sacred Powers to say, “Listen. Here’s a whole bunch of tools that I have accessed,” and I didn’t make them up, and I didn’t learn them from one teacher or this mentor. I’ve studied with a lot of really powerful and amazing teachers, but I didn’t want to say, “Well, here’s the teachings from this teacher,” because I don’t believe there’s anything new under the sun. I believe it’s just a … Even Einstein says, “Energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to the other.” I mean, imagine the same exact energy that was on this planet, in its creation, is the exact same amount of energy that’s here right now. Nothing’s been lost, and nothing’s been gained. It’s just constantly been transmuted into all of these other aspects.
I felt like, “Let me explore some of these teachings.” I had some powerful awakening moments and aha moments. In the book, I talk more about them, and certainly they could seem a lot more kooky or woo-woo, but I think we all have. I’ve just had the opportunity. I’ve been a student of this stuff. I wanted to find essentially a series of immutable laws, laws of nature, laws of existence, laws of the universe, that exist in First Nation and Native American cultures that existed in the Middle East 6,000 and 7,000 years ago, that existed in India, existed in China. I started to see an overlap in a few of these patterns, in terms of foundations for answering these deepest life questions.
There are certainly magnificent books about this stuff. I didn’t write the first book, but I’m a translator. This was a way for me to translate into what I felt was an accessible format for people, whether you don’t buy any of the kooked out stuff, and you’re really an empiricist and you want to flow your life with greater grace and greater ease or greater success and greater fulfillment, or whether you say, “Yeah, I believe in energy. Energy can be shared between people, and it doesn’t mean it’s kooked out or something,” because that’s really why I wrote Secrets of Meditation, to demystify all this stuff, because I think it can be seen as mystical, and that’s cool and sexy, but the reality is it’s real. Look no further than Einstein. Einstein referred to this stuff as spooky energy at a distance. If Einstein could even have those kind of aha moments, I figure I’m in good company.
I try to really … What would be the tools that I would give you if you said, “I’m struggling in this aspect of my life,” or, “I’m at a crossroads in my life,” or, “I’m at a fork in the road. What do I pick? A or B? Left or right?” I figured rather than me ever answering that question ever again, I wrote this book for anyone who finds themself, either now at any point, at a crossroads, at a big decision, at a defining moment, and they know this could be a big one, or if they’re just stuck, it will reveal to them that this can be a defining moment if they want it to be that.
That’s why I feel that with different exercises … and someone said to me that they’re reading a particular chapter, and they had never explored their life so deeply, going deep. I said, “Well, the beauty of it is that this wasn’t necessarily with another person. This was you and your deepest self-reflections really asking those questions. How did I get here? How am I going to get to the next level? Is what brought me to this space in my life going to be the same skillsets and tools and mindset that’s going to take me to that next level of where I want to be?”
I believe that we can blow up ourselves. I like to use the hashtag BSU, blow stuff up. A lot of people think, “No, that’s Ball State University,” but it’s just like blow stuff up. Nature abhors a vacuum. Aristotle said that. Blow stuff up, create some void, and let go of some stuff, and let’s see what rushes in. That’s really why I wrote this, to give people an inspiration, an opportunity to trust themselves, to access that eternal pool of answers and energy and wisdom that rests inside without having to fall into some religious realm. It’s basically a very secular book. It’s trusting you and whatever you believe you’re here for, whatever your higher power is.
Bryan Miller: I think that’s what works so well about the book … It did for me … is that it’s not asking me to throw away or set aside … I mean, even though you’re saying you encourage people to blow stuff up, really what I see is this opportunity to look within and to be honest with myself. If I like what I find or it’s working for me, then great, I stay with it. If maybe something’s missing or something more is available, that is available as well.
I love your attitude to … your approach to this, both this self-discovery and also the process of meditation because, like you were saying earlier in our conversation about how some schools are so rigid, they’re so formal, they’re even painful or difficult … and I’ve had the opportunity to teach a few friends. I’ve been meditating every day about five years, and just in the last six months or so, I’ve been hosting a meditation circle, here in Salt Lake City. Now I’m getting to experience the joy of meditation through teaching others. One of the things that you shared is that … I love your saying, “Comfort is queen,” that it’s not necessarily you’ve got to be in this exact posture for this long, and your breath count has to be like this or anything. Will you talk a little bit more about just that? I’ve heard you say that now in many different ways, comfort is queen. Will you just talk about that and your general philosophy of meditation?
Davidji: Sure, and congratulations. It’s so exciting to lead any group, because there’s a group energy. There’s a collective energy that comes in that when just a few people sit down and close their eyes together and connect to that stillness and silence. It’s not the same thing as five people napping in the same room. There’s really something distinctly special about that and the power of that ripple.
I’ve explored a lot of various meditation techniques, and I’ve had some of the wisest teachers and some of the most prolific authors and teachers and mentors. Pretty much all of them have, for lack of a better word, an agenda. They were schooled in a particular philosophy. They’ve gotten brilliant in that particular philosophy, or style, or movement. When I first fell under various of their spells, I, too, was like, “This is it. This is it. This is the answer. This is how you do it.” As I explored more and more and more … and I was given such a great opportunity to do that … I think I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I ended up apprenticing to Deepak Chopra and to David Simon for a decade, and that really gave me an opportunity. They didn’t just say, “Here’s the box.” They said, “Here’s our methodology, but let’s expose you to all of these other things as well.” I don’t think their vision was, “Let’s expose him.” They couldn’t be in certain places, so they recommended certain things and certain readings.
That was really the beauty of the interplay between Deepak Chopra and David Simon, both MDs, both physicians, Deepak much more in the quantum realm, David Simon, a neurologist, real science based, didn’t believe in muscle testing or any of that other kookier stuff, believed in energy but was really more, “Let’s look at the science. Let’s look at the evidence.” That allowed me to really not get sucked into any one particular methodology, and David Simon encouraged me, “Well, explore this. Explore that. There’s so many different paths to whatever that answer is. Knock yourself out. Go do that.” That’s really what my teacher training is about. That’s why it’s called The Masters of Wisdom and Meditation Teacher Training, because I could teach anyone just to meditate. “Here’s a bunch of scripts,” or, “Here’s a video. Teach.” But I wanted my teachers to have that breadth of understanding of, “Where does this timeless wisdom come from? What are all the possibilities, in the modern realm as well as in ancient texts and ancient teachings?”
The most beautiful thing is when we all assemble for our final week together, in person. People will say, “I don’t really remember whether it was Ram Dass who said this or the Bhagavad Gita. Was that Pema Chödrön or Thich Nhat Hanh? Was that something I read from some ancient Sufi thing?” That’s the beauty. It’s one message. It’s just thousands of voices that do it, and we know the teacher that we resonate with. They’re not better than another teacher. We just happen to be more open to that vibration in a given moment, and I think more so than anything else, this is all a journey for all of us that we just get to … Let’s try all the different things.
My philosophy is woven from a thread of this and a thread of that and a thread of this, because one of the first things that was taught to me by some great teachers was like, “Whatever you do, don’t meditate with your pet.” I was like, “What?” But my pet, Peaches the Buddha Princess, who’s an L.A. rescue, we meditate every single day. It’s one of the most beautiful things. It actually keeps me meditating every single day because I want to connect to that deep state with her. They go, “No, no, no. The ancient teachings, this goes all the way back to the Vedic sciences. They will steal your energy.” I’m like, “That’s preposterous and absurd.”
Even Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old healing science, has some stuff that’s just fundamental and a little too rigid, and I believe that more people have stopped meditating because of the rigid, strict, and dogma aspects of some of these schools that have begun. Really, what I have always recommended to people is, “I’ll throw out some guardrails here. You can cross all the lines you want, in between all those guardrails, go back and forth, wherever you want, but the reality is that you have to find where you are. You have to find the thing that resonates with you.” If you’ve had a very, very strict religious upbringing, you could either go, “Oh, I want something strict and dogmatic,” or you could say, “I’m done with that. I’m moving to a whole new aspect of my life. I’m going to let that go and open my heart to something else.”
I believe that there’s a … That’s why I wrote Destressifying, so we could look at this without all the bells and whistles and just really look at the stress aspect, the scientific aspect, what’s happening to our body, what’s happening to our mind, what’s happening to our souls and how we could live life on a higher plane. I honor every school, but I would say that there’s not one school that I think, “Oh, that’s the one that’s more right.” What I’ve really felt comfortable doing is, “That makes sense to me. I think I’ll own that. That makes sense to me. I think I’ll own that.” I’ve explored hundreds of various schools and philosophies and wisdom traditions. That has allowed me to be multidimensional within this context, and I think people will thrive in that freedom to choose the thing that resonates most deeply with them.
Bryan Miller: Yeah. That’s something that I wish those who are just beginning meditation really were willing to … I wish they came to the search with that mentality. Not that there’s the right way or some dogma that if I learn, it’s going to work for me, but otherwise I’m … Maybe meditation just doesn’t work for me, and this invitation to others to figure out for themselves what they like, what works. I love that, and something that I remember you said, or at least I remember you said this, about if you don’t enjoy it, if it’s difficult, if it’s painful, you’re not going to keep doing it.
Davidji: Right. There’s nothing in our life that we don’t like that we share with others or that we show up and do a lot.
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: At a certain point, even if you go like, “Oh, I hate going to the gym.” No. If you go to the gym every single day for a year, you don’t hate going to the gym. There’s some kind of release of endorphins that you like. You like the way your body’s feeling. There are some rewards to that thing, but if there’s a … and I tell this to my students all the time. If you read a book and the author or the teacher or the wisdom tradition doesn’t really resonate with you, you’re never going to share that.
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: You’re never going to say, “Hey. Let me tell you the thing that I don’t care about, don’t like, and don’t believe in.” That’s not the thing you’re going to go out there and be talking about and sharing about. You’re going to be like, “Oh, I love that. I love that. I can’t wait to share that with somebody else.” Look at your own life. You started meditating, say, five years ago real consistently, and at a certain point … I know this, and we haven’t discussed this, but at a certain point, I know something shifted inside of you and you said, “Oh, I have to share this with other people.”
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: “How do I do that?”
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: That was the thing that … It was such a deep resonance that you couldn’t stop. You couldn’t not. It wasn’t like you were saying, “How can I get a bunch of people in a room and meditate?” You were like, “How can I collect people that I can share the power, the beauty, the magnificence of this thing that I’ve discovered?”
Bryan Miller: Yeah, absolutely, and having seen, just in conversations with friends and people I meet, when I ask … This is my casual conversation. “What’s life about? Do you meditate? What are you reading?” these things, and I find many people who say, “Well, I’ve tried meditating, but, again, it just doesn’t work for me,” or, “I quit.” One of the things that you said that I’ve applied is this idea of just increasing your practice one minute a week. I think a lot of people that go, “I’m going to do it 30 minutes every day,” from not having done it, and that lasts like three days or maybe two weeks. Then it’s like it’s totally not realistic. Just your practical approach to making it enjoyable, making it … Having compassion for yourself I think is what it really comes down to, even if people don’t see it that way. That’s beautiful.
Davidji: Yeah. Well, I think …
Bryan Miller: Sorry. I want to just switch gears a little bit, speaking of pattern interrupts, and recognize that we’ve got just about an hour left. I still want to get to the book writing stuff, and I want to get through just a few lightning questions. Let me put those here now. The idea with these, of course you can answer as long as you want. I’ve written them in a way that I hope they can be answered in a sentence, but again, you can take whatever you want. Please complete the following sentence: life is like a …
Davidji: An ocean.
Bryan Miller: What do you wish you were better at?
Davidji: Loving. Loving others.
Bryan Miller: If you were required every day, for the rest of your life, to wear a t-shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or a saying or a quip, what would it say?
Davidji: I have two. One would be, “We transform the world by transforming ourselves,” and the other would be, “Yogastha kuru karmani,” which is from the Bhagavad Gita, which means, “Establish yourself in the present moment, and then perform action.”
Bryan Miller: Beautiful. Maybe front and back. What book, other than your own, have you gifted most often?
Davidji: Oh, the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita, ancient text. Emerson read it every day. Thoreau read it every single day. Gandhi read it every single day. Einstein read it every single day. It’s sort of like one of those magical … You can view it as the perfect story that encompasses all the different aspects of life, whether that’s love, service, birth, death, karma, dharma, all that stuff. I think I’ve given probably about 500 of those away.
Bryan Miller: Wow. Any particular translation?
Davidji: Yes, Eknath Eswaren, E-K-N-A-T-H, E-S-W-A-R-E-N. It’s romantic. It’s poetic. It’s spot on. It doesn’t feel like you’re reading something that’s 1,000 years old.
Bryan Miller: Beautiful.
Davidji: It’s beautiful.
Bryan Miller: So, you travel, as you said earlier. You travel a lot. What’s one travel hack, something you do or maybe something you bring with you when you travel, to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Davidji: Oh, I don’t check bags anymore. No matter how long I’m staying, no matter what I’m doing, I only do a carry-on. Yes, that limits what … I can’t obviously bring a machete or a large bottle of hair conditioner, but I don’t ever miss a flight because of a luggage issue on a connection.
Bryan Miller: Your carry-on must have a lot of underwear in it.
Davidji: No, I usually try to find, at the five-day mark … I pack for five days, no matter what. Even if I’m doing a three-day thing, I pack for five days because I never know where suddenly someone’s going to go, “Hey. We might head over there,” but that’s probably been … There’s two things that I’ve done. One is I’ve got these really great wireless headphones, noise canceling, and so the second I enter the airport, I pop those on. Now I’m like in my own little bubble until the moment I land, wherever that is. That’s one thing that really allows me to stay in whatever space I want to, and I can meditate. I’m not listening to other stuff, that and only using carry-ons.
Bryan Miller: Awesome. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Davidji: I wish every American knew the history of slavery in this country. Yes, I know we slaughtered the Indians. They were here first, but we made a conscious choice as a country to grow up 200 years ago with this concept that slavery was normal, that it was okay. That pains me every day. That actually hurts my heart on a daily basis, and I wish that every American understood, how did that happen, and what did we do? There’s probably about 10 different histories, and there’s lots of different viewpoints and defensive and aggressive, but if you cut away all the melodrama from the conversation, it’s a piece of our history. It was just like one word. We all grew up like, “Oh, and there was slavery, and then Lincoln freed the slaves.” I mean, that’s how most people learn about it. I wish every American … I hope to always keep learning more and more about that because I think that can really help us open our hearts to compassion. It can help us with the people that we live with in this country, and we can not see ourselves as so imperious in certain situations.
Bryan Miller: Are there any books or documentaries or museums or teachers that have been particularly impactful for you as you’ve learned about the history of slavery that you’d recommend to others?
Davidji: Well, The Blacksonian, the new museum in D.C., you could go there every single week. It’s everything from a Prince musical perspective to when you see the shackles and the metal handcuffs and just restraints, horribly painful restraints that were put on little kids that were yanked out of their world, that’s a whole education. It’s like, “Really? Really? My country did that?” It’s not like I have this like, “I am responsible,” and I know that lineage is responsible for everything. We’re all parts of history forward and back, but I think just that level of awareness can spark everyone on their own journey of self-reflection, of … I don’t know. That’s-
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: Gee, I wasn’t even prepared to have that conversation.
Bryan Miller: No.
Davidji: But I think, wow, what a great thing if every American just started exploring that, because I don’t think there’s one book like, “Here’s really what happened.” I think we can all delve into that. We live in a society … and I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, but we live in a male-dominated, paternalistic, militaristic, white supremacist type of society. Being white and being male and being in positions of power, all that stuff, it’s a very, very heavy thing to just understand that. By the way, there haven’t really been maternalistic societies throughout the last 5,000 years that have existed with female rulers and female people of power. There’s been the occasional woman of power in that process.
I have other missions that I’m trying to put out there, but that’s how this country was founded. That’s the fractal of this country, and I think just awareness. I think it really comes back to awareness. I don’t want to tell anyone what they should think about anything. I would just like everyone to walk around a little more with eyes wide open on particular issues. I think the same thing with … I don’t have wars against things. I have visions for things. I’m not big on a war against this or a war against that. My feeling is like there’s something sparkling and magnificent over there. Let’s all go towards that, but I think dialogue is the key to all that. Maybe that’s a whole nother interview.
Bryan Miller: Yeah. Yeah, it could be. What’s one piece of advice your parents gave you that stayed with you?
Davidji: You know, I was fairy rebellious, and I think I rejected every single thing that either of my parents ever said to me. My mother died when I was relatively young, and she gave me a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and I hadn’t read Joyce prior to that. I don’t have a lot of stuff from my mother, maybe a couple of pictures but no baby book or any stuff like that, but the inscription in that was, “Keep sailing, my Ulysses.”
Bryan Miller: Beautiful.
Davidji: That was like the inscription. If you’re not familiar with The Iliad and The Odyssey, the journey of Ulysses, it’s this 20-year just journey into stuff and having awakenings and figuring out how to get back on the ship and journey to someplace else. I like to just keep moving forward, and I believe that all of us will thrive if we can just … There are those really important moments, just like Ulysses when he went to one island and he got stuck there for like five years. There’s times we have to really pull back the bow and take that pattern interrupt and take the break, but I think … yeah, keep sailing.
Bryan Miller: Keep sailing. I love it. What’s one thing you’ve done, you’ve either started doing, or you stopped doing as you’ve gotten older in order to age well?
Davidji: Oh, in order to age well? There’s tons of stuff I’ve stopped and started, but that hasn’t necessarily lead to any healthier aspect. I’m a real fan of looking at what we eat, so I have paid a lot more attention. I’m not plant perfect by any means, but I try to be plant strong. Even if that’s me compromising a value of being involved in eating an animal that’s been tortured and killed, I make sure that there’s a lot of vegetables, there’s a lot of plants in every aspect of what I do. I encourage people to do stuff, another pattern interrupt, like a meatless Monday, or try vegan ice cream, or try coconut milk instead of dairy, something along those lines. I believe everyone should watch the movie-
Bryan Miller: Powerful.
Davidji: … Forks Over Knives. It’s not like a scolding, finger-wagging thing where someone’s guilting you into not killing animals. It’s really scientific how our heart and our blood vessels probably thrive in a dairy-free environment, potentially in an animal-free. There’s one great thing that I just need to share. It’s out of nowhere, but one of the studies in that movie … and it’s a documentary. It’s on Netflix, and everyone could watch it. In Denmark, a massive dairy and cow culture, in 1942, the Nazis came to Denmark. What’s the first thing they did? Confiscated all the livestock for themselves, and they’re like, “Eat roots. We don’t care. We’re taking over.”
Denmark, at that time, had this really, really extremely high level of cardiac issues, and in 1942, when you look at the chart, the cardiac issues had been going like this. When you look at the chart, in 1942, they plummet. They plummet down and they stay that way for three years, where suddenly virtually no one’s having any cardiac issues, no one’s dying from any heart-related … and in 1945, the war ends. They get their cows back, and boom, they’re back as, I think, one of the top cardiac death countries. I just think that’s a great opportunity, but I believe that we all grew up without the awareness that there’s anything wrong with eating meat, meat products, and meat fat. Maybe things were even killed or treated kinder, but animals really aren’t treated very kindly in that whole process. You could come to eating just a little more plants on a moral issue, on a health issue, on a scientific issue.
I bounce back and forth between all different … I was a vegetarian for seven years. I didn’t particularly feel any better. Then I became a paleo and I felt great.
Bryan Miller: Yeah, everybody’s different.
Davidji: Then I became a vegan. Again, it’s like meditation. You have to-
Bryan Miller: What resonates.
Davidji: Right. What resonates with you at a different time, but I think just integrating more plants into your life can make a powerful shift. I know that wasn’t a sentence. It was more like 10 paragraphs.
Bryan Miller: We’ll take it. It was a really long sentence, and it’s a good one. It’s funny how that theme of pattern interrupts keeps coming back, though, isn’t it, throughout? Cool. Okay. So, you survived the lightning round. Congratulations. Although, I might pop one or two up in between.
Davidji: Okay. Please.
Bryan Miller: I want to turn the conversation now to the process of writing itself, and specifically, now knowing you’ve written multiple books, feel free to answer any of these questions for any or all of your books, or maybe more specifically the most recent one. Let’s start with Sacred Powers. I’ll ask about this book saying was there a specific process or approach that you followed in order to get this manuscript done, to get this book published?
Davidji: Okay. So, this is for writers out there. One of my mentors, Deepak Chopra, has I think over 85 books. In terms of being prolific, I haven’t even begun to write compared to something like that, and I think everyone needs to not be … I think we should be inspired by other people’s habits and their trajectory of their writing, but we should never be intimidated because some people wrote one book, and it’s the greatest book ever written, and other people write hundreds of books, and they’re all 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t mean to take a slap at that. I’m just saying I don’t know that that would be considered high-minded intellectual fodder.
I write every day. I think if you want to write something, you should write every single day. I write at least 3,000 words a day, which is about 10 pages, sometimes more, but always that. I figure 250 to 300 words, space and a half, word. 10 pages is about 2,500 to 3,000 words a day. I write every day. I write no matter what’s going on. I write about how I’m feeling about something in politics. I write how I feel about what’s happening in an emotional conversation inside me, some incident that’s happened. Some things are fiction. Some things are non-fiction. When I say fictional, I’ll say like, “Well, what if …” and I’ll create some type of scenario, and then I’ll just write about that. I write no matter what, and I think that’s the key if you want to be a writer or if you are a writer. Write.
Bryan Miller: Even when you travel, even when you’re in different time zones, you’ve got different commitments.
Davidji: No matter what.
Bryan Miller: Do you-
Davidji: If I have like a 9:00 to 9:00 workshop … and I get up pretty early. That’s one of the things. I wake up around 4:20, just so happens. It’s not a joke. I just happen to wake up around 4:20 every single morning. I meditate. I do a little yoga. If I’m home, I walk my dog. We take like a 45-minute … We go to the beach or we take a hike, and when I come back, boom, that’s what I do. I don’t do anything else. Today, I’ve already written about 15 pages, and our conversation started at 10:00 in the morning. I’ve been up for about five and a half hours. I try to be highly productive in that period of time, in the realm of writing.
What that means is that after I’ve gone a month, I’ve got 3,000 words times 30 days. Some of the stuff I write is worthless. Most of what I write is worthless, but the style … I wrote Sacred Powers … It was one of those things where I said, “Well, now I’m not going to do anything else. I’m just going to write.” Probably not very healthy, but from 5:00 in the morning until 9:00, 10:00 at night, that’s what I did. Yes, I was traveling, and yes, there were classes that interrupted that, but my MO was I’m writing all day. I felt compelled. I felt so inspired. Part of that was, “What did I write about this in the past, in one of my 10-page little diatribes? Let me pull that in and see what that is.”
See, when I originally wrote Sacred Powers, it was about 800 pages. There’s really two ways to start. The more organized way to start is to say, “Here’s my table of contents, and now I’m going to put just a little bit of meat on the bones and build it out.” You start with a page, and you build that, and then you create a chapter, and then you expand that, and do that. The other way is sort of like what I did was Sacred Powers, which was write an 800-page book and then sculpt it and cut away. There were probably a few books in there, but I was really, really just focused in that. Let me just keep … “Oh, I’ve said this already, or I don’t need to go there again, or I can say it more articulately here, or that 17 words, I could probably say it in five,” because having read Sacred Powers, you know that a lot of it’s deep, and I keep it engaging at the same time. How do you do depth and engaging?
Whenever I’ve gone to my publisher, Hay House, I’ve said, “I’d like to write that 100-page book. It’s almost like a bathroom book. It’s sort of like the 20 Ways to Keep Yourself …” and they go, “No, no, no. You’re the 250-page guy.” I go, “No, no. I’m not. I’m the 100-page guy. I want to write the frivolous 100-page book that sells a million copies.” They’re like, “No. You’re the 250-page guy.” All my contracts, whatever, they’re like, “It’s between 65,000 and 75,000 words.” This book was about 125,000 words that I scaled down to 70,000. That was tough, just carving it away and carving, carving, but I see it like carving. I put it all out there, and then I said, “Let me move this and take that away, and how does that go?”
That’s how I wrote this book, which is why I think it consumed me. Probably if I had said, “I’m going to write these 20 chapters on these 20 things. Let me just put a little more meat on the bones every day,” then probably it wouldn’t have killed me. When it was done, it was like one of those … There was nothing left in my head. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do anything. I think I binged like 15 hours of Netflix, consecutively. People were like, “Hey. Let’s go out and celebrate that you’re done,” and I’m like, “Not really into it. Don’t want to [inaudible 01:11:34] It probably took me about three weeks to recover. When I say recover, to rejuvenate. It took me three weeks to be able to form a sentence after that. The funny thing was, in the meantime …
Bryan Miller: [inaudible 01:11:55]
Davidji: … everyone else who heard about it was so excited to, “Hey. Let’s talk about the book. Let’s do it,” and I’m like, “I have nothing to say. It’s there.” That’s why it was really hard for me to start the interviews when the book came out, because I hadn’t really articulated. My first interview was so horrible. It was for like Dutch TV. It was like a 20-minute interview, and they said, “Explain everything about Sacred Powers.” So I began explaining everything in like eight minutes. Halfway into that interview, I was like, “Probably I should come up with some salient things to talk about, as opposed to explain the entire thing that took my soul in the process.” I just poured my heart into it. I wasn’t really thinking. It wasn’t like, “Let me …” and I don’t want to say, “Oh, I just channeled the whole book,” like a course of miracles or anything like that. Yes, I absolutely channeled that. I don’t think it was the divine speaking to me. It was one of those things like I couldn’t stop typing. I couldn’t stop writing. It needed to come out.
Bryan Miller: Right. When you write like that and you do 10 or 15 pages a day, how clear are you who you’re writing for or who you’re writing to? Do you have this sense of … Is there an avatar kind of individual, or is there a specific person maybe that’s been part of your front row, or someone else? Because I think that’s basic advice given to a writer, right? Know your audience. I’m wondering if somebody who does actually publish books, that goes beyond the theory, the platitudes that are given, I’m interested to know how clear are you when you’re writing who you’re writing for?
Davidji: Yeah. Well, with Destressifying, I was really clear. I was writing to the person who shuns the word mindfulness or meditation. I was writing for the person who thought it was a weird religion, and they were going to get sucked into a cult. I was writing for the person who never had experienced it. I was really clear on who that audience was. It was such a mainstream, corporate, “I have stress. Help me deal with it. Don’t say anything in Sanskrit. Don’t talk about the divine, no universe, no woo-woo, no yoga, no meditation, no mindfulness, none of that.”
I was really clear on who I was writing that book for, and I wrote that because so many people that I was encountering in the banking community and in the corporate world and in law enforcement were saying like, “So, should I read Secrets of Meditation?” I was like, “That might seem too kooked out to you. There’s so many different things thought I’m saying try them all. Try chakras or your energy centers, or try this.” Destressifying, I wanted to be able to say, “Oh, you know what? You don’t care about that stuff at all, so here’s Destressifying.”
With Sacred Powers, I really wrote this book from … I assumed the person who was reading it was going to find themselves at some type of crossroads. That was the audience. If your life is soaring and you have like no conflicts of anything, then I was not writing it for that. I took the liberty of assuming that there’s something in your life that you’re chewing on … That would be the most easiest … to there’s something in your life that you’re struggling with, somewhere in the realm. If you’re like, “No. I’m soaring, and everything’s great, and I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I specifically didn’t write it. It wasn’t so much a demographic as a psychographic because, as far as I was concerned, it could be anyone.
Bryan Miller: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like you were really clear in both cases what the need or the desire of your reader was, which I think is part of what makes the book so useful. They don’t wander. They’re not vague. It is applicable. To hear you describe some of the characteristics or the needs, that all makes perfect sense.
Davidji: Yeah. That was interesting to me, because I was really clear on who … I was writing to someone with the assumption that it was as if someone came to me and said, “Oh my god, let me just tell you what’s going on in my life. Any insight?” For me, that was like the, “Whoa.” That’s it. That’s it, because there were times when suddenly I wrote like, “Well, what if the person isn’t struggling with love?” Then I thought, “Isn’t everybody? Doesn’t everyone on the planet feel that they probably could use more love? Doesn’t everyone on the planet could use an extra hug? Couldn’t everyone on the planet wish they could be a little more intimate or a little more authentic with someone without having to hide?”
Bryan Miller: No, that makes sense.
Davidji: Yeah. I wasn’t held back in any way. From the feedback that I’m getting … because, as you know, having read it, throughout the book I say, “Send me an email, or tell me what’s happening. Where are you? What’s going on? Let’s stay connected here.” So people are revealing to me what their challenge was or where their blockage was or what their limiting belief was or had been holding them back. For me, that’s really, I don’t know, pretty exciting.
Bryan Miller: That’s awesome. Knowing that I want to share this with people who are writing their first book … Maybe they’re in the middle of it. Maybe they just want to … I’m really interested to know your experience and advice to people starting out, because it’s easy to look at somebody, and they’ve got their agent. They’ve got their publisher. They already know their next project, this kind of thing, and it feels like that’s some kind of superhero, some kind of person they could never be. As a practical matter, how did you begin? Did you write a manuscript? Did you start with a book proposal? Did you have a neighbor who was in the industry? How did you get started and get your first book done?
Davidji: I was working at The Chopra Center, and The Chopra Center had never published a book. Then David Simon said, “Let’s create Chopra Center Press,” and I was like, “Cool.” I was writing Secrets of Meditation while I was there. One of the things that I was also doing was I had a weekly show on Hay House Radio, internet radio. It was called Live from the SweetSpot, and I was doing that. I don’t know. That started in like 2010, which I still do every week. That’s like my longest-running gig right now, is that radio show, that internet radio show.
David Simon said, “So let’s do that. You can be the first book that comes out under Chopra Center Press.” I wrote that book and … wrote the manuscript, rather, and then I hired an editor to beat it up, to be really, really critical, and they did a great job.
Bryan Miller: This was Secrets of Meditation?
Davidji: They were the whole tabard. They were extremely … Secrets of Meditation, yeah. Then David Simon got diagnosed with glioblastoma multiform, which of course is the cosmic joke. Neurologist dedicated to healing is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor that, if you look on Wikipedia, pretty much it’s 14 months from moment of diagnosis. He said, “You know what? Can you take a step back? How about I write the first book that comes out of Chopra Center Press? Because I’ll be dead within a year,” and I was like, “Yeah, sure.” I stepped back, and it turned out that he wasn’t really able to go deep on that. He started narrating it to somebody, and then he had other things that were so much more important to him.
But during that period of time, I was coming into Hay House, which is in Carlsbad, at least its West Coast division, and that’s where Louise Hay was, and that’s where Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House. Louise Hay watched me on my radio show through the glass one day, sitting on my radio show in the studio, and when I came out, she fell in love with Peaches, and I figured I would ask the question. I was like, “Hey. Would you be interested in publishing my book?” She goes, “What is it?” I said, “Secrets of Meditation.”
Bryan Miller: Wow.
Davidji: I said, “It’s ready to go,” and the book was ready to go. It had been edited. I was comfortable with it. The manuscript was really perfect, and she said, “Yeah. Let’s do that.” It was … and I think one of the questions was, “Well, how big is your database, and will The Chopra Center promote it?” Stuff like that, because that seems to be a bar that knew … It’s like, “All right. If you’re going to …” Regardless of who the publisher is, they’re going to say, “Well, how big is your reach? How many people are paying attention to you? What’s your reach on social media? How big is your database? How many people do you touch in a public situation?”
I’m a fan of self-publishing, to tell you the truth, and I believe that if you’re a writer, you should write every day, even if it’s just one page, 250 to 300 words, and you should create, on Facebook, a page. On Facebook, you can always click on who can see it. There’s a public, and there’s a thing that says, “Me only.” I think to get you in the sense that you’re actually putting it on another platform outside of your laptop or your Word document, I say write a page. Write a daily blog every single day, because I’m a fan of journaling. I’m a fan of writing. I’m a fan of moving what’s in here out of your head, onto the paper, onto the computer. Move it, because that’s how energy becomes revealed, from concept to reality.
You could do that every single day. No one would even know it, and you just keep writing. At a certain point, after you’ve written a daily or a weekly … but you’ve put it up there, and only you can see it. At a certain point, you could say, “You know what? Maybe I’ll start being seen. Maybe I’ll put my blog …” and you can just click it, who can see it, from just me to public. People shouldn’t fear that suddenly 10 million people are going to see that absurd thing that you’ve written, because it’s really hard to get people to come to your page. It’s hard to get people to come to your website. Just because it’s public doesn’t mean anyone’s really paying attention.
People shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or scared by that. You don’t have to, but I would say go a few months, and then let one of those blogs go live that you’re proud of, or continue to work on that. I think that is something that can get you moving it out of your heart or throat or your head onto the page or onto a piece of paper, and then really onto a social platform. I’ve been doing that with … I’ve been writing a blog every single week since 2011, with an article and video and a guided meditation, every single week since 2011. That’s seven years of that content, and I would say probably 80% of it is not up to my standard. 80% of it I could go, “Oh, I could have written that better. Oh, I could have shot that video better. Oh, I could have done a better guided meditation. I could have put that concept in or that …” I think we have to let go of our inner perfectionist because perfection is a creativity killer.
I think that … just write. Just write and just keep writing. There might be something where you’re like, “Oh, that makes … Let me let that one go.” I think that, for me, I’ve been willing to … I’m pretty prolific in guided meditation, and when I listen back to them, I’m like, “Oh, I can’t believe I said that.” That could be something that was downloaded 200,000 times, and I’m like, “It’s out there in the ether. It’s killing me,” but I have to let go of that. That was my bell. That was my best in that moment, and I learn from that, and I’ll try to be better. I think it’s the same thing with our writing. Let’s get a little more nuanced. Less is more. Let’s get a little less wordy. Let’s get a little more exciting. Let’s spark ideas and thought, and let’s push people’s boundaries, or let’s tell a great story, wherever you’re coming from. I think that you have to keep writing and learning from it.
Bryan Miller: Yeah, and I love, in what you’re saying, that … Two things stand out to me, the first about how you were already serving others and associating with people like David Simon and Deepak Chopra, who were involved in this effort, and the writing was really a compliment or an extension of that. Just in my travels, talking to people, many people want to write a book, yet it’s not an outgrowth of what they’re already doing. It’s not an expression of some commitment they have or work they’re already involved in. It’s more of an aspiration. To hear you tell how you got started, that’s one of the things that stands out to me, was it sounds like it’s really natural. It was part of a natural flow because you had already put yourself in places where you were associating with others, and things just kind of unfolded. It’s really beautiful.
Davidji: Well, I was studying and teaching. At the time, I was the dean of Chopra Center University, so I was training people. I was teaching them. I was certifying them to be meditation teachers. I was teaching every single day, and I was like, “There’s only 50 people in the room. There’s only 200 people in the room. There’s only 500 people in the room. How do I touch 10,000 people with this exact same message that anyone can …” I mean, that was the message of Secrets of Meditation. You can meditate anywhere. Pick a technique. Anyone can meditate. That was my premise, but I think it goes back, Bryan, to what you were talking about when you first shared that you’re leading a meditation group. Listen, there’s lots of books that people write and are like, “I’m going to write this book, and I’m going to make money, or I’m going to get prestige, or I’m going to get success.” The reality is publishers make money. Writers don’t, from their books, unless you are Stephen King [crosstalk 01:28:29]
Bryan Miller: James Patterson or something. Yeah.
Davidji: Pick the best-selling 50 Shades of Grey. I don’t even know who wrote it, but it’s massive. But I think when we come to anything like, “I’m going to do this thing to make money,” like we’re seeing in the whole cryptocurrency world … People are coming up with cryptocurrency things to make money, not to advance something … I think that makes it much, much harder, and I think if we can live our life from our hearts … and I’ll ask this question, and I pose this question and go fairly deep into it in Sacred Powers. What holds your stars apart and your universe together? It’s that simple. Go deep into that exploration. What holds your starts apart, and what holds your universe together? What matters most to you? What do you care about? What sparks your passion? Whatever it is, go there, and if telling a story or if expressing something in written form or in a video form-
Bryan Miller: Awesome.
Davidji: … makes sense to you, then share that and own your impact. We’re not all F. Scott Fitzgerald coming out of the gate. Anyone can write. We all can write. We all can’t write well. We all can’t write in a compelling way, but I think it’s like everything else. When people say to me, “What’s my purpose in life?” and they sit there and they think about it and they think about it, I go, “Well, why don’t you just write down the answer to that question? What holds your stars apart and your universe together?” They’re like, “I can’t. I’m stuck. I can’t. I can’t.” I’m like, “Just write it. You can always change it.”
Here’s an important component of this. Not that I’m into military metaphors, but when a laser-guided missile is off course the entire trajectory, it is correcting itself perhaps hundreds of times per second because it’s off, off, off, off, off, off, off, off, off. Only upon its hitting the target, the moment it’s launched and the moment it hits, it’s on target. Every millisecond in between, it’s off.
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: We have to not view that as a failure while we’re working on something. Of course, write stuff. That’s why I say write every single day and look at something horrible that you’ve written, and then go like, “Oh, that’s just pathetic. I’m so glad no one’s going to see that,” and write again the next day and maybe work on that same thing or maybe write something new. I think we have to hone our craft, and that’s the key. If you find yourself creative in some way that you want to express yourself, whether music or dance or songs or video or writing-
Bryan Miller: And you’ve got a great voice.
Davidji: I write because I don’t necessarily think … I’ve got the perfect face for radio, so I figure maybe I can write things that will touch people. Most of my words are a lot better than … I’m not George Clooney. That inspires me to, “How can I touch you more deeply with a word?” Sometimes I’ll chew on one word for an hour, in the final stages. When I was moving from 800 pages down to 250 pages for Sacred Powers, they were like, “What’s a better word? What’s a better phrasing? What will convey really more of what I want to say? I’m being sloppy here. Let me be more impeccable with my work.”
Bryan Miller: Tell me how you keep your … I mean, you talk about 800-draft manuscripts, and you’re writing every day. How do you stay organized? Is there softwares? Do you use Word? Do you use Scribner? Do you use something else, some fine nomenclature? Just how do you manage the content that you produce so that you don’t feel like you’re reinventing the wheel every time, and it’s actually being shaped into something that’s going to get done one day and serve someone?
Davidji: Yeah. I’m the worst person to ask for that. I wrote Secrets of Meditation on legal pads and then transcribed it. That was fun, and that was a powerful editing process. It was like, “Really? I don’t want to say that.” I’m an Apple person now, but I was a Microsoft person, and I just used Word. Now I’m an Apple person, and I just use Word. Everyone tells me that Scribner’s a better … Everyone has used a more effective or efficient process that I know than I have, but because I’m writing every single day, I’m really big on folders and really big on keeping my folders together where I am. I tag my folders, and I pay a lot of attention. If you’re going to go my route, which is the most … I should say the least efficient of all the mechanisms and methodologies, because I don’t use a writing software program, and most of my friends who write do. I’m a Word guy, and I use a lot of folders.
Bryan Miller: Okay. Tell me about how and when other people come into the process for you. Do you have people who help you with research? Obviously an editor comes in some time. Do you have conceptual editors that you kick ideas around at a high level at the outset? What does your team look like, from tip to tail, of any given project?
Davidji: Well, again, I think maybe this will encourage people out there. I’m it. I’m the guy. People ask me all the time, “Do I know a good ghost writer?” No. It’s not what I want to do because, again, I’m not looking to write a book or publish a book. I’m looking to express myself at a very, very deep level. If you ever see an article with a byline that has my name, I actually wrote that. Most everyone I know uses ghostwriters in some way, but I don’t because I’m not trying to get books out there. I hope Hay House isn’t listening to this, because I do want to get … If Hay House is listening, yes, I do want to get books out there. Every year, I want to write another book, but right now, I know I should be writing another book right now, but I’m just writing. I haven’t put it together yet. I haven’t written a proposal. I haven’t done any of those things.
Here’s how it works in the real world. You write the table of contents. Maybe you have a preface or an intro, or maybe just one or two pages that explains really what this is about, where it’s going to go, and how it’s going to unfold. Then you write that sample chapter that’s like the killer sample chapter. You can’t have, in your mind, “Oh, it’s not that good, but they’ll know there’ll be other things, or maybe you don’t get it because you haven’t read the chapter before or after.” No. You have to write the greatest chapter you’ve ever written on anything, and it doesn’t have to be 30 pages. It could be a 10-page brilliant sample chapter.
Then that’s what I … It’s sort of like a little intro, a table of contents, and a sample chapter. That’s what I have. I even did that with Secrets of Meditation. Even after they were like, “Hey. What do you got?” I was like, “Well, rather than giving the whole manuscript …” because I wanted to get the green light fast. I was like, “I plucked what I felt was a great chapter out of it,” with the table of contents and the setup. That’s what I do.
I wrote five drafts of Sacred Powers before I let anyone else see it. I wrote that first 800-page version. Then I probably was knocking out about maybe like 75 pages every edit that I did to it. I’m editing for content. Yes, I will stumble into where I spelled collective with one L or something like that, but I’m really looking for flow. I’m looking for … There was a certain point where I was writing Sacred Powers and I said, “Oh, you know what? The book is brilliant, and on page 60, it takes a dip in intensity, from page 60 to page 70. What am I doing there where …” because I wanted to keep the reader engaged the full way, and I didn’t want to say, “Oh, we’re going to slack off here.” Then I worked on those 10 pages, I don’t know, perhaps for like two weeks, just those 10 pages, ultimately distilling them down to like a page and a half, and then bridged it, and then moved on.
I think before you … A lot of people, they write a book … I was just talking to a friend of mine. She’s writing her first book, and she’s like, “When should I bring in the editor?” I go, “How far are you?” She said, “I’ve written a chapter.” I’m like, “No. No. You need to write a book before you bring an editor in.”
Now, I will say that in Destressifying, on page 170, I had a story about me teaching marines the technique of 16 seconds in Camp Pendleton, and the editor, once I had submitted it, said, “Hey. You buried this. You buried this in page 170. This should be page one.” You open Destressifying, and it talks about me, and I said, “Why should that be page one?” She said, “This explains who you are.” It’s a fairly self-deprecating story of me being overwhelmed teaching marines, who are like these magnificent beings, who are like, “Yeah. We just did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. What could you possibly have to teach us?” They said, “It’s interesting. It’s engaging. It lets people know who you are, and let it flow.”
I would say everyone doesn’t have to write the 250-page book. What are some of the greatest books that are 100 pages? Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, I think it’s 119 pages. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, I think it’s 130 pages. The book doesn’t have to be 270. Keep in your mind, less is more. After you’ve done your second, third, fourth, fifth, when you think, “All right. It’s perfect,” that’s when I would bring in an editor. Don’t bring in an editor who likes you, and don’t bring in an editor who’s enamored with you, because that happens at a certain point, and they’re like, “Oh, I’m so honored,” and I’m like, “Oh, no. I want you to not know who I am and to hate me.” That’s actually what I’m looking for in an editor. Also, have some skills.
Bryan Miller: Yeah. Talking about things external to us that can help us get our projects done, tell me about your experience with deadlines. I, myself, have struggled to self-impose a deadline and adhere to it and get something done. I feel a different sense of urgency, and I see that I often deliver, if it’s an external thing. What’s your experience like with deadlines, both internal and external, and what advice do you have for others about that?
Davidji: Well, Secrets of Meditation and Destressifying, I had the same editor, at Hay House, and that editor, she was brilliant. She also had great confidence in my ability to deliver a manuscript at a certain point in time, so she said, “Deliver this to me six months before pub date.” It was always like a workback schedule. We were like, “Well, the publication date is going to be …” Secrets of Meditation was September 4, 2012, and Destressifying was like August 27, 2015, and Sacred Powers was 12/12/2017. Those dates were really clear. She was like, “Here’s the pub date. We need six months to do the final, final, final edits and printing, so give it to me a month before that, and we’ll go back and forth a little bit.”
Sacred Powers, I had a brand new editor. She was great, out of New York. I never met with her face to face over the book. We were just back and forth a lot, and she [crosstalk 01:41:49]
Bryan Miller: Did she hate you?
Davidji: [crosstalk 01:41:51] She’s like such a sweet soul. She didn’t, but every email I ever sent to her was like, “Be hard on me. Please be hard on me. I can take it.” I stressed that. I probably put that in over 25 emails to her, in the back and forth. She said, “Can you get me that book on January 1st?” I said, “For 12/12?” I said, “You don’t have any confidence in me.” She said, “No, no, no. I do, but we’ve got more work together, and so we could go back and forth 20 times,” and guess what? We did. So much so that Sacred Powers was originally supposed to be The Power of Your Ripple. Then it took on a life of its own, and I said, “There are actually more powers in the power of your ripple.”
She held my feet to the fire on that date, and I blew it. I blew the deadline, and I said, “Can we still get a 12/12?” Because I didn’t want to come out January 1st of 2018. I wanted to be right before Christmas, and she was like, “I can give you 10 days.” That’s why, in those 10 days, that was it. I didn’t do anything else. I skipped meals. I skipped conversations. I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t reply to an email for two weeks. I was totally zoned in, and I think meditating helps you with your deadlines. We would think, “Oh, wait. If you’re sitting and wasting half an hour meditating, you’re just eating up a half hour.” It makes you more efficient. It brings clarity, but I think always do your workback schedule. Even if you don’t have a pub date, say, “When would I want this book to come out?”
Right now, let’s say you want a book to come out July 1st of next year. You would probably need to get that book to whatever publisher by, say, September, October, November 1st, somewhere in that, to have the longest lead time, which means you need to be done with your fifth draft that you hand over to an editor to [crosstalk 01:44:04]
Bryan Miller: Having targets working backwards.
Davidji: … on that September, October, November date. I think it’s great to sit down and say, “I’m thinking about this thing. I’m really …”
Bryan Miller: And I don’t think I’ve heard it.
Davidji: Have you ever listened to that podcast by the guys from-
Bryan Miller: Yeah. The glasses company, yep.
Davidji: … Parker Warby, Warby Parker? You’ve heard of that sunglass company. Yeah. They were trying to blow up the stranglehold that Luxottica had on the market with like a high-end but affordable glasses, three guys from Warton. They were just sitting, trying to figure out how could they do this thing, and they went over 2,000 names for the company. They just kept writing them down, every single day, writing down names for the company, writing down names for the company, and using them on other people, asking other people about them, bouncing ideas off. Ultimately, they came up with this name, which sounds like something, and it’s actually two characters from two totally separate books, or something like that, merged together. You think, “Oh, it’s these two high-minded, high-end sunglass guys.”
Anyway, I think that it’s really healthy if you have someone to bounce these ideas off of. My general manager, I said to him, “I’m thinking about this book,” and she said to me, “Okay. So, what it is?” I showed her the table of contents. Now, of course, she loves me, so not the best person, but she was like-
Bryan Miller: No.
Davidji: I was like, “Make believe you’re seeing this and you don’t even know who the person is.” She was like, “Well, what about that? What about that?” I think it’s important to have someone like that in your life, in general, to help you with all sorts of stuff, especially with writing.
She helped me think about new concepts, but I like to keep my stuff really, really inside of me and allow it to keep percolating until it’s … It’s not a control thing. It’s just I don’t think it’ll help in the process, too early in the process. We have to all understand what’s our creative process? Where is like, “All right. I’m done. Now let me bring in someone else-“
Bryan Miller: I love that.
Davidji: “… who has another idea,” versus … because if you’ve got a song in your heart, you don’t need to keep saying to people that you like it. You’ve got to write that song. If no one ever listens to it, you’ve got to write that song, and same thing with writing that book.
Bryan Miller: Okay. I love that. I’ve got just about three more questions. Are you good on time if we cover that?
Davidji: I have another 45 minutes until my next gig.
Bryan Miller: Okay. We won’t go that long, I don’t think, but I guess it’s up to you because you get to answer. The next one I think is my last book-related question, and then I just want to come back to a general question. Before we leave the topic of writing and publishing, I just want to ask about something I heard you say when we were together in Seattle, which was … and what we didn’t talk about in this conversation right now I want to acknowledge is that that book, The Secretes of Meditation, won the Novelist Award, which is pretty awesome. Congratulations-
Davidji: Thank you.
Bryan Miller: … on that. I remember hearing you say that the profits or maybe your royalties or some portion of that book went to charity. Even though it sold really, really well, you personally weren’t enriched. You did a lot of good for a lot of people, not just because you wrote it, but also because the financial aspect went somewhere else. I’m interested to know where that came in the process that you decided that that would be something you did with that book, and if that’s something you would recommend to others, that they have a charitable component of their projects and maybe attach it to something bigger than themselves in that way also. What’s your advice to writers about charitable aspects of projects?
Davidji: Well, again, some people do that because they think it’ll generate more sales, or it’ll be perceived in a certain way. It was 100% of all my proceeds from Secrets of Meditation were donated to a whole bunch of different organizations. But I wanted to feel that this was genuinely a gift to the person who had never meditated before or had struggled with their meditation practice. I wanted to feel like this was purely, “You know what? I want to give you a gift.”
Now, if you’re giving a gift to someone, you don’t give them a gift and go, “Well, you know, it cost me approximately-“
Bryan Miller: Yeah. Yeah.
Davidji: “… 25 bucks, so what do you got?” For me, since I viewed the writing of that as a gift, I felt … and obviously I can’t control what my publisher does. I didn’t ask them to do anything. They gave me the gift of … It was one of those things where I was gifted so much generosity in the writing of that book and the creation and the publishing of that book that it felt better to let me just pass through, and I didn’t know it. That book has done spectacularly. Then I wrote the revised Secrets of Meditation, and that book has done really well. I never had any expectation other than, “I need to share this to more than the 500 people who are in the room on a regular basis.” That just felt right. That just felt really, really comfortable.
Now, of course, I didn’t put it prominently enough. I’m thinking maybe 15% of the people who even read that book even saw that it was on the inside cover that all proceeds go … because I think most people don’t read that page, just like my first CD I created out of all sustainable materials but didn’t mention it to anyone, all recycled and recyclable. It’s like I spent an extra dollar a CD, and I was like, “Oh, I forgot to put it on the CD that this is …” I’m not really good at virtue signaling. I probably should get better at it since that’s the name of the game, but I think there’s something-
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: If you have a passion project, what better way to fund it? I still got to choose where I wanted to fund. I got to fund women’s breast cancer research, and I got to fund various military veterans organizations, Wounded Warrior, and I got to fund some really great dog rescue operations. Then people would say to me, “I’m running in the Dana-Farber race in St. Louis. Can you fund me?” I was like, “Sure. Here’s $500.” Someone was running in this, and someone was running in that, and someone was just doing something. These are people who I admire or are friends of mine, and they’re doing something, so that was my way of stepping up. A lot of that money went to other people’s GoFundMes that were supporting other charities. It was all charity. It was a charity that spoke to me.
See, a lot of people say, “You should teach in the prisons.” I taught in the prisons. I guess that’s not my thing. What I do is I work for this organization, with this organization, on the advisory board, Blue Courage, and works with the Department of Justice and law enforcement, and they work now with people who are in the world of corrections. That’s how I serve that. I train people who are guards in correctional facilities to be more mindful and to use some of these tools-
Bryan Miller: Wow.
Davidji: … and techniques in the work that they do. It’s not always like you have to go there and do that thing, or people say, “You should teach kids.” Well, I taught kids for like a year. It’s not my thing. So, what do I do? In my teacher training, I teach people who want to teach kids.
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: That’s why I think we always need to be … That’s what I mean by the sacred power of your ripple. I think we have an opportunity to not just … Not everyone has to march on Washington for a thing. Some people can fund it. Some people can raise the vibration. I didn’t go to Washington for the most recent thing, but a friend of mine who helped fund a bunch of high school kids from his school, I had him on my radio show. We don’t have to do the traditional or the conventional ways of putting money towards causes. We can find the things that really speak to us and then do the thing from our native energies, from our most inherent skillsets. That’s an important … How can I help others? How can I heal others? How can I serve others? It sounds very, very selfless, but how can I do that using what fulfills me, using my gifts, my talents, my innate energies?
Bryan Miller: Yeah, such a great question and part of what allows it to be not only enjoyable but sustainable, and I think anybody who knows you can see that that is authentic to you. I mean, I did your Heart Sutra meditation this morning, and on your website, how many meditations you make available at no cost. Like you said in Sacred Powers, the bonus is people can click right from their Kindle and go to the site. I think it’s really cool, and that authenticity and that generosity comes through in the work you do. I, for one, want to thank you.
Davidji: Right, but I think we can be selfish with what fulfills us.
Bryan Miller: Yeah.
Davidji: We can say like, “Well, this really fulfills me. How can I help-“
Bryan Miller: I love that.
Davidji: “… heal and serve others with that thing that’s fulfilling me?” It’s really a win-win. That’s how you know when it’s like … Suddenly, it’s like, “Well, it’s not really fulfilling.” Okay. Time out. Do something else.
Bryan Miller: Yeah, course correct.
Davidji: Because we all have stuff that we love, so do that. Figure out ways to do that and serve everybody.
Bryan Miller: Yeah, I love that. Okay. So, switching back to the conversation about just meditation generally, I’d love to get your perspective, if you have, for people who … mindfulness into their organization, but they’re maybe not in a position of authority. They’re not the boss who can just say, “Hey, you guys. Monday morning, get in the conference room. We’re all going to do this thing.” What do you say to people who are trying to lead up and introduce a more mindful or aware compassionate practice in their organization?
Davidji: Yeah. Well, obviously, there’s lots of ways that we can do this. I’ve trained a lot of corporate CEOs. One of my greatest joys was I did some work with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and John Thiel who, at the time, was the CEO of Merrill Lynch, took a fairly … I would say it was an unpopular position of bringing me into that organization to teach at a lot of their conferences. I just taught 16 seconds and watching your breath for a couple of minutes, and everybody meditated. Some people felt it was okay. Some people thought … and, really, I just taught it as a tool for mindful performance.
Of course, once the CEO says, “It’s okay,” there’s still going to be detractors in that, many detractors, but it’s becoming a little more mainstream and a little more acceptable. Leaning up is a very, very important thing, and I think all you need is one friend or one colleague or one coworker who’s willing to suddenly do it with you. That is like, “Oh. Hey, how about we meditate from 10:00 to 10:10? We do it in some conference room, so that we’re not on display,” but over time people become aware, “Oh, there is this thing.” Or how about if you’re just starting a meeting, everybody starts with a minute of just watching your breath, slowing down. We know the value of starting a meeting.
If you’re coming from that place, as I talked before, yogastha kuru karmani, if we establish ourself in the present moment and then perform action, we’ll sink the free throw. We’ll score the penalty kick. We’ll also have a less amped up conversation if we’re having challenging or difficult conversations or brainstorming sessions. We’ll have a more creative scenario. If you’re in a position to lead a meeting, you can say … and the first time, it’s going to be really kooky, but I’ve got students and certified teachers who I say, “Do this at your Thanksgiving dinner, at your Christmas dinner, at your holiday dinner, whatever that is. Start with just everyone just close their eyes, and for one minute, just drift your attention to people or things that you’re grateful for.”
It doesn’t have to be so kooked out and weird. Even starting with 16 seconds of just watching your breath, starting with a minute, five minutes, 10 minutes, but if you can get some colleague in the workplace … The second it gets out like, “Oh, Bryan and kooky Fran are meditating in that thing,” someone’s going to go, “Oh, really? They do that? I’ll try that.” Then suddenly, it’s secular. You’re not trying to convince anyone. Everybody’s just, “Let’s just go inside and watch out breath for 10 minutes. Let’s just watch it flow in. Let’s watch it flow out.” Once you can start to do that … or use one of the hundreds of techniques that I have in Sacred Powers or Secrets of Meditation or listen to one of the guided meditations, like you mentioned.
Bryan Miller: That’s awesome.
Davidji: I’ve got over 200 free guided meditations. I’m also on Insight Timer. That’s free. There’s a lot of different … Spotify. There’s a lot of different places where you can do that, but I think you need a friend, because if you’re just the kooked out person … and even if you say to your friend, “Listen, just sit here with me for five minutes or for 10 minutes. Just do it with me for like two weeks. If you’re really a friend, you’ll sit and stare at me for 10 minutes with my eyes closed while I meditate,” it will catch on because people are going to go, “So, what are you getting out of it?” Like, “We’re a little calmer. We’re a little more creative. We’re a little more relaxed. We’re less stressed out. We’re not bringing the crap that we … an argument that we had. We’re not bringing some emotional turbulence into this next meeting.”
Bryan Miller: That’s awesome. I want all my colleagues to meditate. [inaudible 01:59:34] right? No, the benefits I get not withstanding, I wish others would do that.
Davidji: Of course.
Bryan Miller: Well, I want to end, if you’re willing, in just a moment, but I want to share something with you before that. I want to end with a 16-second meditation, if you’d be willing, in just a moment. Before we get to that, did you get down to the single epitaph of what will be on your tombstone? I don’t think I’ve read that. Did you arrive at that? Okay. Maybe it’s like Gandhi where he says, “My life is my message,” right?
Davidji: No. I think it’s because I don’t believe … A lot of the ancient wisdom traditions say, “You are here for a purpose, Bryan. You are here for a purpose.” I believe that this snapshot of the moment, we are here for a purpose. I call that dhri, D-H-R-I, dhri. It’s an ancient word. It’s the root of dharma, and it originally meant that which upholds, but I believe we have all these mini dhri arcs in our life. There’s a snapshot of the moment, and maybe where you were and where you’re going, and they all are overlapping each other. I don’t think you or I are here for one divine reason in this life, but I think, right now, we’re here for a very, very specific cause, meaning, purpose. I think that who knows 10 years from now, two years from now, 20 years from now, if that’s even possible, 50 years from now? Who knows? I don’t ever want to cap it until it’s capped by somebody else.
Bryan Miller: All right. Fair enough. Well, I do want to thank you, and one of the ways that I’ve attempted to express my gratitude is before our conversation here, I went onto Kiva.org, the microlending site that helps with entrepreneurs around the world, and I made a little $25 loan to an entrepreneur named Rita in Armenia that’s going to help her purchase a computer and also some of her school texts so she can develop and enlarge her professional skills. I did that on your behalf, and that’s a way I just want to say thank you.
Before we do the 16-second meditation, whatever you want to lead us through for just a moment or two, if people want to learn more about you, if they want to connect with you, what should they do?
Davidji: You can just go to DavidJi.com. There’s tons of free stuff there, and there’s even more and deeper tools, techniques, tips for weaving this into your life. If you join the Davidji SweetSpot Community, which is free, I don’t share my data with anybody, ever, under any circumstances. Obviously, if the feds come, I’m giving you up, but whatever. Honestly, you can always unsubscribe if you don’t like … That unlocks a whole tsunami of powerful tools. I’m updating probably three to five new research studies on my site. I travel around all over the place, so I’d love to see you show up. I’m in some places for an hour, other places for a week. Yeah, people can find me there and, obviously, anywhere where books are sold, anywhere where music is streamed or sold. I’m just hoping that we can connect because, as I said, I believe we transform the world by transforming ourselves. We don’t need to look any further than our own heart for massive global transformation.
Bryan Miller: Awesome. Thank you. All right. Well, let’s wrap with some kind of … lead us through something, and the listeners who want can follow along.
Davidji: Yeah. Well, this is really … Let’s use the easiest one because when I first taught this to marines in Camp Pendleton, it was 16 seconds, and then every day, every week rather, added one minute. We meditated for 16 seconds on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, straight through the week. The next week, we added a minute. It was a minute and 16. The next week, we added another minute, two minutes and 16. I believe that when we incrementally add just a little more time, it’s painless. It’s painless.
I like to start this meditation off by asking you to think about something that might have been bothering you or disturbing you, because this will also teach you the power of the pattern interrupt. Don’t go too deep. This isn’t therapy, but something that may have just … someone said they were going to do something, they didn’t, something you thought was going to happen, it didn’t, or something wasn’t supposed to happen and it did. Just get clear on that thing. Again, just an irritation, a disturbance, a discomfort. Now, close your eyes and, through your nose, take a long, slow, deep breath in and watch that breath as it goes down deep into your belly. When it gets there, hold it and watch it and witness it. And now release it. Watch it move up your chest. Observe it the whole way, as it comes out of your nostrils. Hold that breath out. Continue to exhale. Keep witnessing it as it goes out. Now, breathe normally and open your eyes, and that was 16 seconds.
In those 16 seconds, if you were playing along with me … and maybe you thought I was going to trick you into the cult, but that was just 16 seconds. You were not in the past. You were not in the future. In those 16 seconds, you were fully present. In those 16 seconds, if you were playing along, you probably weren’t thinking about that thing that I just asked you to think about, that irritation or that disturbance, and that’s because you can’t be in the present moment and be in the past and the future simultaneously. In the present moment, there is no grievance. There is no fear. There’s no irritation. In the present moment, there’s only this connection to the now. That’s a beautiful thing, and that was a pattern interrupt.
Now, maybe in the 17th second, you’re pissed again or irritated again, but for those 16 seconds, you weren’t. The beauty is I didn’t tell you, “Okay. Now, stop thinking about that disturbance, or stop thinking about that irritation.” All I said was, “Close your eyes, and watch your breath.” Now we know if we have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, a thought every 1.2 seconds, all we have to do is connect to the present moment for 16 seconds. The thoughts don’t stop. Our attention just isn’t there. It’s fully on the present moment, on the here and now.
That’s where we get to ask that question, here I am, in this sacred, precious, present moment, what am I going to do? If we can just ask ourself that question at the end of every 16-second experience, then our best version will show up, at least there’s a higher likelihood of our best version showing up.
Bryan Miller: I love that. So great. It is so great to be with you. Thank you, my friend. This has been a lot of fun.
Davidji: Yeah. This was great. Thank you so much for taking the time. Thank you for inviting me.