Today my guest is Noah Rasheta. He’s a Buddhist teacher, lay minister and author, as well as the host of the podcast, Secular Buddhism. Noah teaches mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy online and in workshops all around the world. He works with others to make the world a better place as he studies, embodies, and teaches the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy, integrating Buddhist teachings with modern science, humanism, and humor. He lives in Kamas, Utah with his wife and three kids. Noah and I have a very wide-ranging conversation. We talk about his passion for powered paragliding. We get into a little bit about how he’s achieved 2 million downloads on his podcast, what it means to live skillfully versus unskillfully, what it means to be awakened and enlightened. How to see deeply. He talks about in this how to use meditation, not to change yourself, but to befriend who you already are, and then also how mindfulness has helped him to change his relationship with his thoughts. I think that you’ll find something in this that will be very valuable for you.
00:02:22 – Powered paragliding.
00:04:24 – What’s life about?
00:07:40 – Substitute school bus driver.
00:15:34 – What spurred change.
00:19:05 – A quest for answers
00:24:4 – Non-religious Buddhism
00:26:38 – A clear lesson learned from paragliding.
00:37:21 – Lightning round.
00:42:54 – What are our expectations and where do they come from?
00:48:29 – Meditation and bubbling to the surface.
01:06:28 – 2 million downloads.
01:15:04 – Being asked to write.
01:20:46 – Writing without a team and other details.
01:34:25 – Podcasting details.
10% Happier by Dan Harris
The Dalai Lama
Rebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop
Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
Callisto Media (publisher)
Scrivener, Evernote, Ommwriter
Waking Up Podcast with Sam Harris
Hardcore History podcast with Dan Carlin
Noah recommended podcast links: How To #1 / How To #2
BRYAN: 00:00:40 Today my guest is Noah Rasheda. He’s a Buddhist teacher, lay minister and author, as well as the host of the podcast, secular Buddhism. Noah teaches mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy online and in workshops all around the world. He works with others to make the world a better place as he studies embodies and teaches the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy, integrating Buddhist teachings with modern science, humanism and humor. He lives in Kamas, Utah, near my home with his wife and three kids and Noah and I have a very wide-ranging conversation. We talk about his passion for powered paragliding. We get into a little bit about how he’s achieved 2 million downloads on his podcast, Secular Buddhism, what it means to live skillfully versus unskillfully, what it means to be awakened and enlightened. How to see deeply. He talks about in this how to use meditation, not to change yourself, but to befriend who you already are, and then also how mindfulness has helped him to change his relationship with his thoughts. I think that you’ll find something in this that will be very valuable for you. I think you’ll enjoy it and if you don’t already know, Noah, getting to know him could just change your life. So with that, please enjoy. Thank you for listening to the School for Good Living Podcast.
BRYAN: 00:02:04 Noah, welcome to the School for Good Living Podcast.
NOAH: 00:02:07 Thank you. Thank you for having me.
BRYAN: 00:02:09 Yeah, I’m really glad to be here with you today. I want to start by asking you about some things I’ve heard you talk about on your podcast about some of your passions. You’re a para… is a powered paraglider
NOAH: 00:02:22 Yeah. Powered paragliding is the sport or paramotoring. So I’m a paramotorist, I guess you could say, which is essentially a paragliding pilot with a, a motor strapped on your back.
BRYAN: 00:02:35 So, I was asking you about this on the drive over here, but I’m really curious to know how, how dangerous is that? That sounds really risky, but really how dangerous is that?
NOAH: 00:02:45 I think if I’m being honest, I would say it’s as dangerous as you make it really, if you, if you stay within the limits of, of your comfort zone or your skill level. Um, it’s a relatively safe sport, um, but it is easy to get out of that zone pretty quickly if you’re not, if you’re not careful about it.
BRYAN: 00:03:07 And how fun is it and what’s it like?
NOAH: 00:03:10 I don’t know about you, but, uh, I used to have those dreams growing up where you’re running as fast as you can and then suddenly you’re flying but never too high, maybe five feet off the ground or something…
BRYAN: 00:03:20 For me I was on my bmx bike and it’d be peddling. Maybe it was inspired by ET, but then I would take off. So I had dreams like that.
NOAH: 00:03:28 Well, it’s that feeling because you literally run until you’re in the sky and suddenly you’re in the air and, and it’s a really fun form of flight because you can fly it two or three feet off the ground and uh, that that’s my favorite way to do it. You go around the edge of a lake for example, and you’re just kinda hovering three or four feet off of the, off of the ground along the beach for miles at a time. And it’s so much fun.
BRYAN: 00:03:28 That sounds amazing.
New Speaker: 00:03:56 Yeah, I’ve done a lot of different sports and a lot of hobbies and this is easily, easily the most fun of all of the hobbies I’ve ever tried.
BRYAN: 00:04:02 Wow. Okay. So I have other questions and I want to ask you about that before we do. Before we do though, let me go to the question that I like to open with, which is, it’s kind of a big question for some people, but in some ways it’s maybe not such a big question, which is what’s life about?
NOAH: 00:04:24 What’s life about that? That is a good question. For me, life is about experiencing. I really enjoy the process of experience, something experiencing something new, whether that be traveling to a new place, tasting a new dish I’ve never tasted. Um, I’ve always been curious by nature and that has kind of morphed into one of my life philosophies, which is just try, try living, try experiencing um, all the, the fun things that you can out of life like paragliding. That’s, I think that was one of the big motivations to get into it.
BRYAN: 00:05:03 That makes sense. That’s awesome. So when somebody asks you who you are and what you do, or when you meet somebody new and you’re telling them about yourself, what do you say?
NOAH: 00:05:16 It’s funny because have a lot of answers to that question and usually it depends on who’s asking me and the context where they’re coming from or I’ll decide how I’ll answer that because I’m a lot of different things, you know, a parent, a school bus driver in some context, a paragliding pilot, a podcaster, a book author, a social media specialist. Um, because I, I do a lot of different things and I don’t know that one stands out too much stronger than any of the others. Uh, so it depends. The context of who’s asking I think determines usually how I’ll answer that question.
BRYAN: 00:05:55 Yeah. And I just came across this quote by Alan Watts about trying to define yourself as like trying to bite your own teeth. Right? So I can see that is true for all of us. There’s many ways we could respond to that. What are some of your favorite ways?
NOAH: 00:06:10 You know, one of my favorites that I asked my son this, he’s nine now, but when he was eight, one night, we were talking about, we always talk about mindfulness and I try to spend time as part of the bedtime routine to instill some of these concepts of eastern philosophy and mindfulness with him. So anyway, we’re having this conversation where I asked him, Reiko who are you? And he said, I’m Reiko. And I said, well, that’s just your name. I could have named you anything. And I said, think about it for a moment and what is an answer that would always be right. It’ll never be wrong if somebody asks you, who am I? And I was actually shocked how fast the answer came to him. I want to say five seconds later he was like, I’m me. I was like, oh, that’s just the most beautiful answer and that’s become one of my favorite answers now… someone’s like, who are you? I’m me. It doesn’t matter. You know, whatever I’m doing at the time. That’s me. That’s who I am now.
BRYAN: 00:07:10 That’s great. And I love also one of my favorite to hear you say is bus driver and you talk a little bit about that in your book. No Nonsense Buddhism,
NOAH: 00:07:10 No Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners.
BRYAN: 00:07:23 For beginners. Right. And I love what you, I wonder if you’d be willing to share this story of the questions that you asked yourself between your pickups and what that experience is like, what that does for you?
NOAH: 00:07:35 Yeah. The, the uh, you’re referring to the questions to be more present, right?
BRYAN: 00:07:35 Yes.
NOAH: 00:07:40 Yeah. So, uh, one of the practices that I started to develop, so I don’t drive regularly. I’m a substitute school bus driver…
BRYAN: 00:07:49 So your pager or something you like on call, I mean how does that work?
NOAH: 00:07:55 So Tuesdays after, when school starts, the school bus drivers all get together and they plan who’s going to be doing school, like field trips or sports trips. And usually at the end of that meeting they have gaps, okay, we’re going to need someone to substitute for so-and-so driver on Wednesday morning or Wednesday afternoon. Then they have a pool of phone numbers that they’ll start calling out. And that’s where I get the call, usually Tuesday morning we’ll say, hey, can you help sub for so and so at this day, at this time. And if my schedule is open, I’ll say, yeah, I’ll do it.
BRYAN: 00:08:26 That’s awesome. Okay. So back to the back to the questions.
NOAH: 00:08:29 Yeah. So I’m sitting on the bus and um, you know, the bus has buttons and knobs. It’s not nearly as sophisticated as a helicopter or something like that, but it does have a radio that communicates with the school and another radio that communicates with the other buses. And then there are certain, uh, steps, procedures for opening the door. Like the brake has to be engaged. It has to be a neutral or you know, different little combinations of things. And I’m sitting there looking at all these knobs thinking, where did these all come from? Like, you know, they, some of them have little stickers and most of the stuff is made in China. Like most anything these days is made in China. Um, but I was looking at the knobs on the radio and just kind of had this moment where I was thinking, what all did it take for this moment to arise? Me Sitting in a bus, uh, this is in between the elementary run and the middle school runs. So it’s about 15, 20 minute wait and I’m pulled over just having this moment where I’m thinking right now in this very moment, this is the culmination of factory workers across the world who had put these little buttons and knobs in here that eventually made their way to a factory in the US that, you know, the radio found its way into a school bus. And, and, and then I combine that with, you know, uh, at this very moment houses all across the valley kids are getting ready for school and parents are doing whatever they do, listening and turning off alarm clocks that were made in China or you know, I had the thought that drinking coffee that was grown on plants in Columbia or somewhere. And it was a neat moment where I thought all of these processes are about to culminate with me pulling up to the house, pushing a button that activates lights, and then another button that opens the door and none of us will think anything of it. It’s just this ordinary thing. And yet there’s nothing ordinary about it. When you, when you think of it in that context and that, that was a neat moment.
BRYAN: 00:10:31 Yeah. It really is kind of magical, right? You know? And that makes me think of something I heard I had the chance to spend some time recently in New Mexico and I was with a Peruvian healer and he shared this, this idea that he says is in, it’s in many indigenous traditions, which is any one of us are, every one of us is, or every one of us can be, the center of the universe in a certain way, you know? And everything from a perspective really does orient, not in an egotistical way, but in some way, just like you’re saying, there’s a moment where you pull up and you activate the lights and you open the door. And it’s Kinda like in that moment you’ve, you’ve caused or created something for others.That wouldn’t have existed otherwise. I think looking at life from that perspective and having the awareness and the appreciation of the interconnectedness of everything and your role seemingly in the center of all of it. Right. It’s really, it really is beautiful.
NOAH: 00:11:32 Yeah. You know, I, I like thinking of it as a giant spider web, the of interdependent processes and but we don’t see the end of it just like the universe. It’s expanding. The spider web is similar and at whatever junction in that web of these multiple points that is the center of my universe and I can’t help but to perceive it from that spot because that’s where I am physically in time and in space and we all are. You are in your spot and I’m in my spot and it’s fun to think about it that way. Like you said, not in an egotistical way, but in a very real way. It’s like, how can you can’t help but to perceive from where you are and when you are, and I’m, and I’m doing the same from mine and we’re both trying to figure out if one of those is, if they’re compatible or more accurate than each other.
BRYAN: 00:12:27 It’s really amazing. So let me ask you this. Like I love these kinds of conversations, that kind of big picture and you know, the things that many other people don’t necessarily think about or look at, you know, in the busyness of life and all of the commitments that we have. But I know you’ve been teaching these principles now for years and you’ve, you’ve done a lot. I mean, I noticed some of the things you didn’t say in your and how you describe yourself. You didn’t talk about being a minister. Right? Um, so that was one thing or you didn’t yet talk about the workshops. You lead some of that. But where I’m, where I’m going, and I’d love to hear more about that in some of your subsequent answers to questions, but one of the things that I’m curious about is with these kinds of somewhat philosophical questions, how can they help us to live more skillfully or live a life that we love or to be more effective in whatever we do, as a leader or as a parent or as a spouse? I mean, because for me, I think I sometimes get engrossed in the conversation without seeing the practical application. You know what I mean? In your experience, how can we use those kinds of perspectives in conversations to actually live a better life?
NOAH: 00:13:44 Yeah, that’s a really good point. I think for me personally and in my journey, I’ve always been attracted to a studying philosophy and history. History was my favorite subject in school. But when you start to get into things of a philosophical nature, they can be very esoteric and just kind of over over your head. Like you said, it’s like, okay, that might be interesting, but what does that do to day to day life? For me, that was very important to try to bring some of these concepts down to… down to earth almost where in the day to day, ordinary way of living, how does this help me? And that’s, that’s actually where my, my podcast emerged from. I wanted to present eastern thought but in a very practical down to earth way. And I feel, I feel like I’ve done a good job of doing that. So to answer your question, for me personally, I’m not interested in the big philosophical, deep thing, unless it can have an effect on my day to day, ordinary interactions with my kids as a parent, as a dad, with my interactions with my wife as a spouse. Um, and just, you know, the person in the store when I’m checking out with the cashier. So I do look for the ways in which this can be applied to everyday life.
BRYAN: 00:15:17 You even open your book by you open this book… I know you’ve written two books, and you open No Nonsense: Buddhism for Beginners, by talking about why you like why and how you came to this path. Will you share a little bit about that?
NOAH: 00:15:34 Sure. Yeah. So, um, I was going through a really rough stage in life and I think sometimes we approach life like we’re playing a game of chess and we’re thinking if I’ve made this move, life is supposed to respond by doing this countermove and we’re trying to stay two or three steps ahead of life and that’s the game that we’re playing. But then something can happen that makes you think, well, wait a second. This isn’t, this isn’t working out. I made this move and that countermove wasn’t met or wasn’t made… and that was me. 2010, going through a really difficult trial of a breach of trust, a breach of confidence with someone close to me. And it left me dazed and confused because I’m thinking, I’ve done all these things right and I’ve avoided these other things. You know, I had this list that I thought if you do this and you avoid that, life is supposed to reciprocate. And here I was facing reality, which was, I don’t get why this happened. So as I’m dealing with that, I’m trying to understand, well, what is the nature of reality then because it’s not working the way that I thought that it should work. So I started around that time. I’m studying a psychology, uh, uh, partially because, while I’m going through this, I’m thinking to myself, I must be going kind of crazy because I just, life doesn’t make sense anymore. And I was very emotional and depressed and all these things. And I started… So I started down the road of studying psychology to try to understand myself. And that led to a eastern thought and Buddhism specifically. Um, that was an intense study of the mind, a study of the self. So that led me down this new path where I, I wanted to understand myself and I wanted to understand how things like meditation can be helpful for people going through difficult things. And that, that was. I went down the rabbit hole, studying Buddhism, studying psychology, studying eastern philosophy. And that led to a podcast that led to a couple of books or lead to a facilitating workshops, uh, in, uh, cities all over the US, countries all around the world and it’s really taken off. But that was the, that’s where it all started from, was uh, being in a place of a lot of pain and a lot of confusion.
BRYAN: 00:17:59 How is your life different now from before, you know. And by the way, I think many people in that moment of pain, right? Will either turn to drugs or alcohol or some kind of unhealthy behavior or self destruct, some people commit suicide, you know, that kind of thing. So I suppose there’s two questions that are coming up for me now. One is, how is it that you took this path of inquiry and ultimately came out the other side in a way that contributed to others instead of just like distracting yourself or you know, like coping, you know, what do you think is it, was that like, how did you do that?
NOAH: 00:18:41 Yeah, so I, I think at first, I was searching. I was searching for something and I didn’t know what I was searching for.
BRYAN: 00:18:50 And how old are you at this time, by the way?
NOAH: 00:18:52 Uh, let’s see, uh, late twenties, early thirties.
BRYAN: 00:18:59 So you have some life experience. Yeah. You’re not a total idiot?
NOAH: 00:19:05 No. yeah, that was late twenties, I think maybe 30 or 31 the latest. So I start going on this quest to find answers. And my quest for answers had a, another side effect which was, it started to, I started questioning bigger things. I thought, well, if this one aspect of my life doesn’t make sense anymore, I don’t understand how that happened. I looked for comfort in this other aspect of life and, and I started to encounter similar things where it’s like, well maybe, maybe that isn’t working for me either. So I start this quest of looking for the answers. And in this case, for me it was a in religion I wanted to find which one is, is more, right? If this, if what I’ve been with isn’t as right as I thought it was, that was kind of the, the, the line of thought I was on and I attended a world religion seminar. And the whole premise was the meaning of life as explained by and then insert XYZ religion, right? So, um, they tackled, it was approached by the five major world religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. And as I’m going through all of this, all of the Christianity side of it was very familiar. That’s what I grew up with. Judaism similar. Islam was kind of just a curiosity for me. Hinduism was like, I’ve never heard of any of this stuff. And then the last lecture series was on Buddhism and I thought they did something interesting, the presenter kind of said, well, you know, all these answers to all these questions. They don’t really have an answer. They’re going to flip it on you and say, why do you want to know? Or more importantly, who is the I that wants to know? And that did something to me. I was like, whoa, wait a second. I had never thought about that introspectively like, why do I want to know?
BRYAN: 00:21:07 Just give me the answer!
NOAH: 00:21:10 Right. Uh, so that, that really peaked my interest in Buddhism and in Buddhist philosophy. And I think it was a lot of it was just luck. It was fortunate… fortunate for me at that stage of my quest to be led to an introspective journey because I think it would have been easy at that point to keep looking externally is a, you know, am I going to find more contentment and drugs or in drinking or in anything. It could have been anything external, but it was a stroke of luck I think that shifted my quest and pointed me, internal and said start looking… everything you’re looking for, find it inside. And I think that I’m grateful that it happened that way because it could’ve gone any other way.
BRYAN: 00:21:55 You could have become a workaholic.
NOAH: 00:21:56 I could have. Yeah.
BRYAN: 00:21:58 So how is your life different now?
BRYAN: 00:22:05 I think the single most obvious thing for me is much more contentment because on, on one level it’s the same. It’s the same as it’s always been, still deal with all the same type of things that you deal with, but I feel so much more contentment and gratitude that I didn’t know was there and it’s almost like this idea that, you know, all along you’ve known… all along, you have been enjoying not having a tooth ache, but until that was pointed out to you, you didn’t think anything of it. And that’s kind of what happened to me. All along things were great then until I started to become more introspective and think about, well, why is life great right now? I was just unaware and now I feel like I do spend more time thinking about these less obvious ways in which that I’m really grateful for life being just as it is and I wouldn’t change it. Uh, I’m very content.
BRYAN: 00:23:05 That’s beautiful. That’s great. How much of that perspective comes do you think because of the Buddhist beliefs as a base, like as a worldview and how much, and maybe these aren’t simply separated, but how much comes from kind of the core tenants of Buddhism versus just expanding your awareness and your presence, if that makes sense?
NOAH: 00:23:31 Kind of. I think, um, I mean in this process, it took me a while to start understanding Buddhism specifically. I was already experiencing a lot of these benefits just by the alternate that you’re saying just expanding my awareness, realizing things are like this, but they could be like that. Oh, well suddenly, like this is much more acceptable than it felt ten minutes ago. So I don’t know that it was necessary to arrive at a deeper understanding of, of Buddhist concepts and ideas specifically. Although those did drastically reinforce, uh, that sense of gratitude and contentment.
BRYAN: 00:24:08 Yeah. You know, when I read 10 Percent Happier, I don’t know if you’ve read that book.
NOAH: 00:24:08 I have.
BRYAN: 00:24:15 But that was the first time I had the, that was the first time I became aware of that until a couple of hundred years ago, Buddhism wasn’t considered a religion, but it was a philosophy and it’s only in the last couple hundred years as scholars have kind of collected teachings and put it. What, what’s your thought about, what’s your thought about that? I mean, people who might, who might find Buddhist teachings very valuable, but they don’t because they don’t explore it because it’s a religion. I mean, what…
NOAH: 00:24:46 You have a valid point. I’m obviously very interested in the non religious approach to it. You know, my, my podcast is called secular Buddhism for that reason because I was in that boat, you know, the, at that stage in my life as I was studying eastern philosophy and finding it to be fascinating. I was very turned off at the idea of getting into any kind of an “ism.” But like you said, the more I studied, the more I realized, wait a second. This isn’t really a religion or certainly doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be practiced as a religion. Um, and I found that to be very comforting because I didn’t, I didn’t want to be bound by a specific way of thinking I wanted. So rather than being told what to think, I wanted to be more skillful at learning how to think and that’s what Buddhism was given me and I think it’s common with Buddhism and with any other ideology where what started out as a teaching rapidly morphs into the teaching about the teaching and I think things get lost in that process because then you know, then you can get a little bit too carried away with, well this is how you approach that teaching.
BRYAN: 00:25:57 Right. That makes sense. Well, and there’s something that I’ve heard you say a few times about what the Dalai Lama says about don’t take what you learned from Buddhism.
NOAH: 00:26:07 Yeah. The quote, I quote it very often and the quote is, do not use what you learned from Buddhism to be a Buddhist. Use it to be a better whatever you already are.
BRYAN: 00:26:18 I think. I think that’s such a great perspective. Yeah, it really is.
BRYAN: 00:26:22 So I want to go back for a moment to the powered paragliding. And specifically to ask you if you’ll share an experience related to paragliding when you went with your brother to California. To the dunes.
NOAH: 00:26:33 Oh yes. Okay.
BRYAN: 00:26:36 Will you talk about that? And what you learned, like what you took away from it?
NOAH: 00:26:38 Sure. Yeah. So, um, my, my brother into paragliding, I want to say almost two full years after I started and I had been hounding him to, you know, you need to get into this. I wanted a flying buddy and he did eventually, so as he started to learn, he was learning powered paragliding with the motor. But one of the fun things to do with a paragliding wing is to go fly without a motor. And California’s a perfect place for that because you have winds coming in over the water and they, uh, they go up and over the sand dunes that, that make up the coast so you can soar along those sand dunes just like a bird or like a kite. And I had already done it a couple of times and I… so we, we, we planned this trip for him to come and he was going to learn my instructor who is also his instructor, what was going to meet us there and we were going to spend the weekend for him learning how to ridge soar. So the time comes and we meet up there and I showed up one day earlier and the winds were great. I flew for, I want to say four hours that day, just soaring on the sand dunes, but the forecast wasn’t looking very good for him. So sure enough, the next morning I go pick them up at the airport, we go straight to the sand dunes and then we just sit there and wait and wait and wait. And the winds never turned on, you know, they were, they weren’t strong enough to soar. So he attempted one flight and just kind of flew out and sank right to the beach, landed and had to hike back up, which is really hard in that sand. It’s like you’re hiking a mountain of sand and it just didn’t work out. And I was disappointed. Uh, he, he wasn’t that disappointed. He was, he was actually excited that he got to go off of the hill once, you know, uh, but he didn’t have anything to compare it to. I did. I had been there twice. I knew how fun it could be if the winds are right. So we had to change our entire course of action. We ended up going and scuba diving that weekend because flying was just out of the picture. But while all this was happening, we were, we went to a fast food place and we were eating by the end of the trip, we know it’s all over. We didn’t get to fly. And on the TV screen in the restaurant, it was showing how fortunate it was for the firefighting efforts that the winds had died down because now they were getting control of some of the fires that were happening in California. And in that moment I was reminded of a teaching from the ministry course that I was in. They have a, like a placard in calligraphy and Japanese that says Nietzsche, Nietzsche Cortical Jitsu, which means every day is a good day. And the teaching behind that expression is that from, you know, we earlier we talked about our perspective right from my place on this little spider web or my center of the universe, it seems like what an unfortunate thing that the winds didn’t pick up because we didn’t get to fly, but at the exact same time somewhere else, a firefighters saying, I am so glad the wind died down. We’re going to get to control this fire now. And that’s the, that’s the essence of the teaching, everyday is a good day from somewhere, from some perspective. And it was fun to be reminded of that there in that moment with my brother and I thought, you know, this wasn’t, this was a great thing. Everything has unfolded and in a good way.
BRYAN: 00:30:00 It’s a great, great perspective.
NOAH: 00:30:00 Yeah.
BRYAN: 00:30:03 Have you gone back either there or somewhere else with your brother since and have the experience you hoped you’d have?
NOAH: 00:30:08 Not yet, no. We’ve flown many other sites, uh, many other styles of flying and we do have a trip planned in August to go do that specific site again. So we’re hoping it’ll work out.
BRYAN: 00:30:19 So it’s on the calendar.
NOAH: 00:30:20 Yeah.
BRYAN: 00:30:21 That’s great. Okay. I want to ask you, I’m gonna go back to your books for just a moment and ask, was there a moment, like a specific moment when you knew or you decided you were going to write a book?
NOAH: 00:30:37 Yes, there was. So I had started a local group that would get together on Saturdays to practice mindfulness and practice meditation. At this stage I was already hosting workshops. I had a lot of people who were very interested in learning about mindfulness. They wanted to learn what is meditation, how do you do it, why is it beneficial or helpful? And the more questions I received, the more I thought at some point I should write a book that at least lays all of this out. The podcast was already there and it was structured so that the first five episodes kind of give you all that information, but not everyone listens to podcasts. So I knew early on that a book was inevitable and it was a daunting thing because writing isn’t, doesn’t come very natural for me talking to us. I feel like I’m very good at winging things and I can sit and just talk and talk and talk, but the moment I try to write it down it becomes very difficult because I rethink it and well, what about this word over that word? So it’s a long process, but yeah, I knew I wanted to do it pretty early on, but uh, it still took another year or two before I finally decided to pull the trigger and actually do it.
BRYAN: 00:31:53 Oh, awesome. I want to ask you a question that someone on Facebook asked when I announced that I’d be interviewing you. Sarah B asked… she actually asked two questions and I’ll ask them both at once and you can answer however you want, but the question Sarah asks is what are some simple and impactful ways to integrate mindfulness into your work environment and what are the results you can expect?
NOAH: 00:32:21 Okay. That’s a good question. I think one of the most simple ways to integrate mindfulness into the workplace and probably any other place for that matter, is to try to learn to see deeply to see deeper. Now we talk about this concept of, of listening deeply, especially in relationships, right where you’re trying to hear beyond what’s being said. I think you can do this same practice with how you see things, whether it’s something a coworker says or brings to you or a situation you’re dealing with in the workplace, what’s the thing behind it and, and if you can get that, what’s the thing behind that and try to see, try to see that moment or that situation in the workplace as, as a spider web of interdependent processes that have allowed that moment to arise. To me that’s been really helpful to feel less, I guess attached would be the word less attached to, to how I’m interacting with that moment as it unfolds. Is this really about what’s just been happening or what’s been said to me or is there a lot more deeper stuff going on behind it? Uh, for me, it, it, it’s, it’s a perspective shift or it reminds me that this is just a single point on a very, very big map of much bigger things going on. And, and it allows me to be more skillful with how I’m gonna handle that situation.
BRYAN: 00:33:53 So how, how can one do that without making assumptions or creating a set of stories? You know what I mean?
NOAH: 00:33:58 Yeah. Okay. That’s, that’s a really good point because our tendency is to create the stories, right? It’s, it’s the same reason that if I get cut off by a car, I’ll immediately construct a story like this person’s a jerk and now I’m reacting appropriately to the story and not necessarily to the circumstances, but we do this with everything. That’s what makes us human is we construct stories. So I think the way to bypass that or not bypass it because I don’t think we really can, but to just put a gap, just put a gap in the story and pause and say how much of this a story and how much of this is fact and what we’ll find if we’re honest with ourselves, is that the majority of things as they unfold, they’re a mystery. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s behind it. Where did the tone in this memo come from? Or, you know, here’s my boss being so mean today, whatever, whatever that instance is that I’m dealing with, there’s a lot of uncertainty. And the truth is I don’t know. And am I okay with not knowing? And I think if I can just identify how natural it is to create a story… that enough is enough of a gap to say, okay, well if it’s a story and I’m assuming it’s an accurate story, um, what’s a skillful way to respond to what’s happening?
BRYAN: 00:35:14 And that’s where it’s a practice.
NOAH: 00:35:14 Absolutely.
BRYAN: 00:35:17 And I love the distinction that you call up also about skillful versus unskillful. Will you talk just a little bit about that?
NOAH: 00:35:24 Yeah, I think that’s an important distinction. You know, we go through life thinking there’s a right way and a wrong way, a good way, and a bad way. And the mindfulness tradition or mindfulness as a practice starts to, uh, it gets you to ease off on the polarity of, of right and wrong and good and bad. And it helps you to start to understand that, um, what if it’s just a matter of there’s a more skillful way and a less skillful way and it removes the morality of the decision making of how I react to some situations. It’s easy to get caught up in a, in an emotion and to be emotional and habitually reactive to a situation or a person or whatever. And I think this wording, at least for me, just to switch the wording in my head of what is skillful and what is unskillful in how I react to this changes because then there’s not a right way or wrong way. Maybe I was reactive and I responded to you much more harshly than I should have, but that’s, there’s nothing, that’s not a bad thing, but it’s probably not as skillful as if I had paused and thought this through for a little bit. And that for me has been really helpful just in my mind removing the morality of right and wrong and good or bad in most in a lot of situations, and replacing that for skillful versus unskillful.
BRYAN: 00:36:44 Yeah. Well, and as I hear you describe that and I imagine, you know, I attempt to put myself in the shoes of a listener who’s thinking, well, what if I don’t want to remove the morality, right? At least even still where I think creating the choice point where if morality is your jam, great, you know, I’m not suggesting it not being, but just saying then you choose it from that place instead of being reactive. And therefore skillful if you’re on reactive. I think that’s a really. I think that’s a distinction that many people could benefit from if they could see it from the inside so to speak.
NOAH: 00:36:44 Yeah.
BRYAN: 00:37:21 Okay. Cool. So I want, I’ve got just a couple last questions in this section before we move on to the lightning round. Okay. What I want to ask you about, I want to… I know we could talk a long time, we could talk for another hour on maybe on this alone, but I want, I want to get your perspective on the terms enlightened and awakened. What is each of them mean? How are they similar? How are they different, you know, in your, in your experience, into your learning. What, how do you talk about those?
NOAH: 00:37:52 That’s a good question. And you encounter both of those words a lot in if you’re studying Buddhism or mindfulness. For me it’s… being awakened is like… so imagine you walk into a dark room and either a dark or very dimly lit and there’s a Zen story that alludes to this, which is what if you saw in the corner of the room what looks like a snake coiled up not to…. If somebody could, if there was a way to turn on the light or open the window with more light, you may realize that coiled snake is actually a coiled hose and now I can much more skillfully react or respond to the situation because I’ve shed light on it. That to me is the process of awakening. It’s, it’s the process of trying to understand more is this, is this situation that I’m in really what it seems like, or am I limited with my perception of it? Uh, that’s, to me, that’s the practice of awakening. It’s an ongoing process where I’m trying to understand things deeper. It’s like seeing deeply again. That’s the process of awakening. Now, the term enlightenment for me, the way I understand it is at any given moment, uh, in the process of awakening, I can become more enlightened about that situation because I’m more awake, but I don’t see enlightenment as this end, like the end process where now you’re enlightened, you have just enough information where you’re done. I view it as enlightenment is what you’re always after, but you never actually get it because there’s always more to know and we’re limited with what we can know. We’re limited by our physical senses. Uh, you know, just seeing as a good example of this because we can see in a certain light spectrum, but then you bring in another animal that can see on an entirely different spectrum and it sees things that we’ll never see because we can’t. So if I were to think of enlightenment and correlate it to that, I can’t say, oh, I’ll be enlightened when I can see across every color spectrum that the light can, can have. I can’t, I’m limited and in that same way, I’m limited by space and time in my understanding of, of, of everything, whether it be big existential questions or simple things like trying to understand what it is to be a dad, you know, I can only, I can only strive to be more and more understanding, to have more and more awareness and awakening in my process of being a dad and comparing enlightenment as, am I more enlightened today than I was yesterday. Hopefully. And if I am then I think I’m on… I’m doing something right so that, I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s kinda how I view the difference between the two.
BRYAN: 00:40:50 No, that’s great. And in your book, um, and I’ve got, I’ve got a sentence from your book where you say to be enlightened is to be liberated from our habitual reactivity, freed from our perceptions and ideas in order to see reality as it is without wanting it to be different. So the only thing that I’m, that I’m seeing in the sentence that I didn’t hear you talk about yet is this desire without wanting it to be, uh, you know, to be different. In your experience how, how can we be, how can we achieve desirelessness, right? Because wanting something to wanting to be free from desire, of course is of itself a desire. It’s a paradox inside that. And I would just ask before we move off this topic of enlightenment, how important do you think that is without seeing reality, without wanting it to be different is, and how can someone come… you know, how, how does one approach that?
NOAH: 00:41:47 I think we see that all the time with little kids, you know, that’s exactly how they approach reality. There’s a, there’s a sense of curiosity and learning and acceptance of, Oh, this is how it is? Okay. Then, and that’s it. There’s not a preconceived expectation or notion to compare to. So what you find in that process is it doesn’t mean you like it, you know, as a toddler discovering something they don’t like. They may throw a fit and a tantrum and you’ll know about it, but the moment that that’s over, it’s over. They’re always going with the flow and I think that’s, that’s something that we can try to aspire to in a way is how can we be more like children who are approaching life without all of this baggage, with the expectations and you know, it needs to turn out this way and it. And then this needs like again, like we’re playing chess, right? The kid approaches life. Like, oh, this is life now. Okay, well I’ll adapt. Oh, now it’s switched. This is life now. All right, well here we go again. We’re always adapting and just going with the flow.
BRYAN: 00:42:48 Yeah, so what’s the simple answer to how we can do that?
NOAH: 00:42:54 I think it starts with being honest and asking ourselves what are the expectations that I have and where do those come from? Why do I expect life to behave a certain way? Why do I expect people to be a certain way to respond to me a certain way to treat me a certain way? I think it’s an introspective thing because I do think it has less to do with what we’re seeing out there and more to do with how we’re seeing things. Uh, and, and that’s something that I really like about this entire approach is it’s all an invitation to look inward, put up a mirror, look inward and say why? Why do I think the way that I think and act the way that I act and say the things that I say, nobody can answer that for you. And nobody can, can come up and tell you, hey, here, I figured it out for you. Here’s the answer. No, you can’t do that. It’s, you’re going to figure this out on your own. And if you perceive life in a certain light and you’re wondering why, why do I see it that way? That’s, that’s your work to figure that out, you know?
BRYAN: 00:43:52 Yeah. You know, in my experience as a coach working with people one on one, um, I haven’t yet quit being surprised. Right? I would think that I would stop being surprised, but I’m not… at how much… like, how much… so how intensely and how numerous, it seems to be people that don’t like themselves. So when I hear you talk about this introspection into like, why, where did these expectations come from? Or who am I, you know, these kinds of things. What do you say to people who maybe don’t want to do that? They don’t like what they see when they look inside themselves.
NOAH: 00:44:33 Yeah, that’s, that’s a very good point. And unfortunately that’s very common in our society I think in Western thinking in general, which…
BRYAN: 00:44:41 Why do you think that is?
NOAH: 00:44:43 I have a lot of theories as to why I… I think one key one that Tara Brach mentioned in one of her books that I think is, is a profound form of insight is our origin story as Judeo Christian societies is it’s built around this premise that at some point in the past what we did was not enough. We did not meet the expectation of, of what it takes to live in paradise, so to speak. You know, Adam and Eve, I’m talking about Adam and Eve being kicked out of the garden of Eden is. That’s our, that’s our origin story as a society and ever since that moment it’s been about how do you prove yourself to be worthy to ever come back, and unfortunately the answer is you don’t, you can’t, you can’t ever go back to that. You’re never going to be good enough because the bar is perfection for, for a lot of people in our society. So I think that something that has become almost ingrained in us as a society is we have these expectations of nothing’s ever enough, it’s never going to be enough. And then we, that’s exactly how we view ourselves. That’s how we view others. You know, and it may not seem that drastic, but look at the little things like, you know, my current physical configuration, it’s not enough, but if I lost five pounds, maybe it would be, but then you lose five pounds. It’s like, yeah, but if, if my biceps were a little bit bigger or you know, you never get there, it’s never enough.
BRYAN: 00:46:23 You’re describing myself talk perfectly.
NOAH: 00:46:27 Well, I think I, I think that’s all of us. We all deal with that.
BRYAN: 00:46:30 Yeah. Okay. So if that’s some of the why, and I think you’re probably right, I think Tara is probably right in some of that kind of the origin story of the mythology that there just maybe a harsh word to call it, but the narrative that our society lives inside, but then coming back to an individual who’s now, you know, they’re born into it, they’re here, they’re American, whatever, European, and then they maybe don’t want to do the introspection and understand and ask the questions of where do these expectations come from or who am I or what do I want or what am I committed to or whatever. What do you say to people in that situation that it’s like, it’s difficult. It’s unpleasant, right?
NOAH: 00:47:14 Yeah. Uh, I don’t know that I have anything specific that I would say to me it feels like, again, this is a very personal journey. If you see a mouse on a hamster wheel just running and running and running a, I don’t think it’s fair to say, hey, you shouldn’t be running on that, but it is fair at some point if that mouse is exhausted and it’s like I’m done, I don’t know what else to do to suggest, well, maybe step off the hamster wheel. I think this is similar in the, in the sense that mindfulness isn’t for everyone. No, you don’t need to be introspective. Why would you want to be introspective? Um, but at some point in your life you may reach that point where I’m just not finding it out there in anything, whether it be self-medicating, whatever form of external search I’m doing, it’s just not doing it for me. I think that to me is the appropriate time to say, well, what if you try looking inward? Maybe it’s not out there, but until someone reaches that moment, I don’t think it’s, it’s helpful or beneficial or even… people don’t even like hearing that. Like, why would you tell someone, hey, you need to… you need to be more mindful.
BRYAN: 00:48:29 Well and on that topic too, I’m, I’m really curious to get your perspective about this because I teach meditation, probably not, you know, you’ve taught tens of thousands of people and reached millions through your podcast. Right? So you, you talked about this quite a lot, but in my limited experience of myself doing meditation and teaching it to others, is that especially at the beginning, a lot of stuff seems to come up. Right? And it’s like we, we come to it because we’ve had pain or we’re looking for growth or whatever, but then when we get into it, we become, we start to become aware of things that are difficult. And so the very thing that stands to benefit us is a thing that seems to be just contributing to the difficulty in our life. Do you find that, that people like beginners especially seem to have a lot of difficulty, not just in the act of sitting down, but things that kind of bubble to the surface? Do you find that?
NOAH: 00:49:28 Yeah, I do. I think it’s very common for people to approach mindfulness meditation specifically with a form of aggression towards who they are now and they approach it with the intent of changing who they are. You know, they’re very much approaching this from the perspective of I’m not good enough the way I am, but if I can change myself, if I can be more mindful or more whatever, then then I’ll be good. And like you said, that aggravates the very problem of why they’re there in the first place. Wanting themselves to be other than how they are. So rather than thinking… one of the first things I like to clarify when I’m teaching mindfulness or someone with a to meditate is that meditation isn’t a practice to change yourself. It’s a practice to befriend who you already are. Now. That’s not to say that there’s no invitation to change because change is already the inevitable part. You’re not who you were five years ago, 10 years ago, however far back you go and you whether you wanted to or not, you changed. So meditation is in that sense, it’s the, it’s the art of becoming more comfortable with discomfort, you know, you’re not comfortable with how life is right now. Well sit with it. What does that, you know what it’s hard to say because sometimes people are like, well then why would I want to practice this? I’m only going to practice that if it’s going to change me. And it’s like, okay, well you can try that, but after a while you’ll sit and realize nothing… it’s, it doesn’t work that way. That’s just not the nature of it.
BRYAN: 00:51:02 Yeah. And, and I love what you’re saying about change because, I mean that’s the essential teaching of the Buddha, right? The impermanence of all things. Yeah. So things will change. But the way you’ve worded that about coming to meditation, like to try to change who we are instead of befriend who we are. I think that’s a really significant, a different difference in, in how to come come to meditation.
NOAH: 00:51:25 Well, and the paradox that I think is worth bringing up in this is that when you can befriend yourself, change happens. It’s going to happen, uh, and ironically the you, that you were trying to be that more content and more peaceful you emerges naturally because of the shift in perspective because of the befriending of how things already are. But the, the other paradox there is that the harder you fight to change that, um, the harder it is for that to change because you’re.. because of the nature of how things are, it’s interesting how that works.
BRYAN: 00:52:00 Yeah. And I think that’s true in our relationships with others. Do you find that?
NOAH: 00:52:07 Yeah, absolutely. You know, to give somebody the freedom to be who they are is a guaranteed way to see healthy change in that person, but stifle someone with saying, um, you know who you are isn’t good enough, but you need to be like this or like that. And, and then you get the very thing that you’re not wanting, which is, well, now you’re not going to see that change.
BRYAN: 00:52:27 Yeah. And you’re holding that pattern in place. I see that. Okay. So I want to switch gears and ask you a few questions in the lightning round. Okay. So number one, please complete the following sentence using something other than a box of chocolates.
NOAH: 00:52:27 Okay.
BRYAN: 00:52:27 Life is like a…
NOAH: 00:52:27 Now that you put that in my head!
BRYAN: 00:52:27 I know it’s almost not fair…
NOAH: 00:52:27 Yeah, a box of Carmel. Life is like a rollercoaster.
BRYAN: 00:52:27 Okay. Uh, what do you wish you were better at?
NOAH: 00:52:27 I wish I was better at, um, paragliding.
BRYAN: 00:53:19 If you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a tee shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or a saying or a quote or a quip, what would the shirts say?
NOAH: 00:53:31 I think the, the random quirky humor part of me is just saying, I would say this is my tee shirt.
BRYAN: 00:53:42 Awesome. What book other than your own have you gifted or recommended most often?
NOAH: 00:53:47 I think it’s a toss up between two. Rebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop is one that I’ve given away many, many times. And the other one is Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor. Those are the two most common books that I’ve given that I’ve suggested to people that are given away.
BRYAN: 00:53:47 Why those books?
NOAH: 00:54:09 Rebel Buddha, because of the timing in which I encountered that book and the way it presents Buddhist concepts, it like the whole premise of rebel buddha is that it’s an act of rebellion to quit being habitually reactive because our reactivity is the, it’s easy to do, to be reactive in life, but it takes an almost, uh, an act of rebellion to break out of that cycle of reactivity. And that message to me is. I love it. I think it’s an, it’s a very profound message.
BRYAN: 00:54:41 Yeah. And then what about Buddhism Without Beliefs?
NOAH: 00:54:48 That one I suggest often because of the circles that I run in… I have a lot of friends who are disaffected from religion in general. They’re not interested in religion but very interested in psychology or you could say self improvement event. And that’s a book that the, the name implies it, Buddhism without beliefs is a very secular approach to understanding the Buddhist philosophy. So I think that one is highly targeted to the audience that I run around with a lot. That’s why I tend to recommend that one.
BRYAN: 00:55:22 Okay, cool. And while we’re on the topic of books, I just want to ask you about another book that I’ve heard you talk about, which is the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
NOAH: 00:55:34 Yeah. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
BRYAN: 00:55:37 Of living and dying. Will you tell me about that book, about your relationship with that book?
NOAH: 00:55:42 Okay. I’m glad you brought that up. That was one of the earlier books that I encountered on Buddhism and it was during a time in my life when one of my good friends, a business partner was dealing with cancer stage four melanoma and eventually passed away from it. But it was a time in my life where, uh, again our western way of thinking death is something we avoid like the plague. We don’t like thinking about it. We don’t like talking about it. And we definitely don’t like sitting with the thought of the death of all of our loved ones, you know, it’s like taboo. We don’t want to think that way. So at around that time I encountered this book and I can’t remember if it was suggested by my friend Jordan who had cancer, but he had this really different way of approaching it and I was like, yeah, I’m going to die. And, and you are too those almost like, Huh, okay. That’s not so scary when you approach it in a very pragmatic way, which is why do we not talk about the one thing that’s certain for all of us? So I encountered this book and it presents death in this light of like, if you don’t really think often about dying, you’re really not living. And that was a radical shift in perspective for me where I was like, well, I never think about death. Should I be? And you know, I, I don’t share this with a lot of people because I think in our society it is kind of viewed as like, what is wrong with you. But the truth is, ever since that book, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about my death and the death of everyone that I love including and especially my kids. Um, and it’s, it’s had a very profound change for me to be more mindful and present when I’m with them because I do think quite often about, well, what if they got hit by a car when they’re out in the street tomorrow or what if one of them gets sick and, you know, I’ve thought of almost every scenario I can conceive of that would cause one of them to die and it’s, to me it’s not a morbid thing, it’s become like a, it really helps me to feel grounded in the appreciation of the fact that, but right now we’re all here and you just dropped all this stuff on the floor and that’s awesome because that’s a very profound reminder that you’re here and I’m dealing with this right.
BRYAN: 00:58:04 Total perspective.
NOAH: 00:58:05 Yeah. So that, that was the book, uh, the Tibetan book of living and dying was like an invitation to think often about death. And that’s been a profound, a change for me in my own life to think often about death.
BRYAN: 00:58:19 All right. Okay, next question. So you travel a lot. What’s one travel hack, something you do or maybe something you take with you when you travel that makes your travel less painful and/or more enjoyable?
NOAH: 00:58:36 Ah, good question. Travel hack. One of them I would say is it’s very often that I traveled travel with no expectation. Um, so I kind of do have a plan, like here are the sites I want to see the things that I want to do, but another aspect of traveling that I like to do, especially when I’m alone is I’ll just go blend in somewhere and do what the locals are doing and just observe what life is like there at that place in that moment. And I, I remember one instance when, um, we were on the isle of Barra, which is the easternmost point of the Outer Hebrides, the Scottish islands that are north of Ireland and they’re kind of there. It’s almost like the Faroe islands. We’re on this random little island and, and I went to the local pub. Then I just walked in and sat there and observed like if I lived here, what would I see hear all the time? And it was, it was really neat to just hear people talking to each other about their day to day things and that I enjoy doing that kind of thing when I travel, blend in somewhere for a moment and just observe what the tourist typically don’t see.
BRYAN: 00:59:49 I love that. What’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age?
NOAH: 01:00:00 One thing I’ve stopped doing, I think the most profound thing I’ve stopped doing to live well is I’m believing my own thoughts. No, I, I thought for a long time that mindfulness was going to be this magical formula that eventually you can control your mind and you never think bad, negative things about yourself. And what I found over the years is the mind still does what it always does. None of that has changed, but my relationship to those thoughts has changed. And now when they arise and I have thoughts of self worth or any kind of limiting belief about myself, I almost smile at it like, ah, there you are again. Hadn’t seen you in awhile. And I understand it better. I understand that past events that I’ve gone through in my life have led to these invasive and recurring thoughts about how I view myself and the battle to eliminate the thought is gone. I finally gave up and instead of welcome the thought, but I don’t believe it just because just because it pops into my mind doesn’t mean that it’s true. And that has, that has been really profound for me because I don’t resist them anymore. So that’s helped me to live. You said live well and that’s exactly what that spend because now it’s like, oh, it’s just a thought.
BRYAN: 01:01:24 Amazing. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
NOAH: 01:01:30 One thing I wish every American knew what it’s like to not be an American. Now I say that being bicultural. I grew up in Mexico. I have a Mexican mom and everyone on my mom’s side of the family is Mexican and I grew up with those two cultures and it’s such a rich culture. And um, I remember the first time growing up in Mexico and going to school, you know, you have flag ceremonies there too and you say the pledge of allegiance there just like you do here. And I remember the first time it dawned on me that I was equally… I felt an equal sense of pride, saluting the Mexican flag and singing the national anthem that I felt when I’d come here and at a fourth of July parade, I’m saluting the flag and singing the national anthem and the jets are flying over and you almost want to cry. I’ve had that same feeling for an entirely different flag and an entirely different culture. And I wish other people knew what that feels like to be able to, not to, not to minimize your sense of patriotism or pride, but to realize it just like with your kids. Like you have one kid and you think I can’t love another human being more. And then you have another one and you realize, oh, I can. That same sense of, of pride towards a culture and towards a philosophy, a political philosophy. Like you can have that towards multiple if you, if you knew that you could and you allowed that, like if you grew up in that context, you’d realize, oh, that’s completely natural to feel that sense of patriotism for two countries.
BRYAN: 01:03:07 Yeah. Most people, I think myself included, don’t, don’t have a reason, a reason to do that even though it’s possible.
NOAH: 01:03:16 Yeah. I think just acknowledging that it’s even possible that someone else can love their country and be as proud of their country as we are of ours. I think that’s a big deal just to recognize that.
BRYAN: 01:03:28 Agreed. I totally agree. What advice did your parents give you that has impacted you?
NOAH: 01:03:28 Um…
BRYAN: 01:03:28 Or stayed with you?
NOAH: 01:03:39 I think something that has really stuck with me that I, I attributed entirely to my parents is to be adventurous about life. You know, the, both of them. If you knew the story of how they met. My Dad was dropping off a friend at the airport. My mom was flying in to Dallas from Mexico to go shopping with her sister for the week two, you know, entirely different people from different cultures. And when my dad saw my mom, he thought, wow, I want to go talk to her. And he got out of the car, he was brave. He got out of the car and he went to talk to her and that’s the start of their relationship. And that to me, embodies their personalities, both of them, they’re just adventurous. There’s, they just live life to the fullest. And I’ve inherited that from them. I try to live life to the fullest and I want to see what it’s like to paraglide I get into paragliding if I want… you know, before that I flew helicopters before that, I skydived before that I scuba dived, like I inherited that zest to just experience life to the fullest from them. And, that’s the thing I’m most grateful for, uh, for them that they always allowed us to just go full speed and, and, and really experienced life.
BRYAN: 01:04:56 That’s awesome. So not even so much advice just as a way of being.
NOAH: 01:05:00 Yeah, I think an example.
BRYAN: 01:05:01 Yeah, that’s cool. Okay. So I’m going to ask this question here to make sure I ask it.
NOAH: 01:05:01 Okay.
BRYAN: 01:05:09 If people want to learn more from you or connect with you, what should they do?
NOAH: 01:05:15 The easiest way to connect with me is online, probably visiting SecularBuddhism.com, which is my, uh, where my podcast is, but through that link you can find Facebook communities that I’m involved with. You can find information out about the books that I’ve written. Yeah, I think that’s probably the single best point of contact to learn more about in any of the stuff that I do.
BRYAN: 01:05:40 Cool. And then of course they can find your books on Amazon. No nonsense Buddhism for beginners. Clear answers to burning questions about core Buddhist teachings.
NOAH: 01:05:40 Yes, right.
BRYAN: 01:05:50 That I just finished reading on my way home from New York two days ago. I really enjoyed the book. Uh, you just released it in May?
NOAH: 01:05:50 Yes.
BRYAN: 01:05:58 Right. And you’ve already got 70 reviews on Amazon, which I left one today.
NOAH: 01:05:58 Oh, awesome.
BRYAN: 01:06:02 I really enjoyed it. Four point nine out of five stars average is for those reviews. So I clearly many other people have enjoyed and benefited from this book. And then your first book, Secular Buddhism, Eastern thought for Western minds. Which you released in November of 16.
NOAH: 01:06:02 That’s right.
BRYAN: 01:06:19 Right. So people can find that on Amazon by searching for, you Noah Rashida,
NOAH: 01:06:19 Rasheta
BRYAN: 01:06:19 Rasheta r a s h e t a.
NOAH: 01:06:19 That’s right.
BRYAN: 01:06:28 Awesome. Okay, great. So I want to move now to the, a conversation about the book, about your writing process. And perhaps a few questions about your podcasting. I didn’t say this earlier in our interview, although I will have mentioned it in the intro about the fact that your podcast, Secular Buddhism has just reached 2 million downloads. Congratulations.
NOAH: 01:06:28 Thank you.
BRYAN: 01:06:53 It’s an awesome milestone. And I know when you and I were talking about it about a year or so ago, you were sharing with me how cool it was that listeners where you were seeing globally. So, and at that time I think you found you had the largest concentration of all places in the UK. Is that still?
NOAH: 01:07:10 Yeah. No, not anymore. For awhile, London was the number two city. Uh, I think it spread there through maybe one of the mindfulness communities or something, but yeah, um, right now the strongest concentration as the US followed, followed by the UK, Canada and Australia, the other major English speaking countries. But uh, so one thing that I did just to see like what is the lowest country on the list and it was like Oman or something like that and it had like 400 downloads. So like one of the lowest countries still had a, a much higher number of downloads than I would’ve ever expected. And that was really surprising for me.
BRYAN: 01:07:52 Yeah. That’s so great. Well, on the topic of the podcast. So let me, let me start here and just ask you a few questions. I actually want to jump right in and ask what are the biggest setbacks or challenges you’ve had related to the podcast? And I’ll just frame that by saying for me already in, this is about my 10th interview or so like I’ve had times where, you know, like I’ve lost files, you know, and just different challenges with getting scheduling and communication and things that I’ve thought, Oh man, I’m really, if I wasn’t committed, you know, to talking to thought leaders who are making a difference on earth, I would just, I would have given up a long time ago, but what, and not that any of those were massive but in the moment and they feel kind of daunting, what have been some of the challenges that you’ve experienced related to your podcasts?
NOAH: 01:08:38 Yeah. So the, my format’s a little different. I don’t deal a lot with interviews. I tried that for a phase and realize that’s really difficult. So I, first of all, I applaud you for, for doing this format because it multiplies all of the complexities by two, at least two. So dealing with a format where it’s just me sharing a specific topic and talking about it. My biggest, uh, I think my biggest hurdle is mood. Some days you just don’t feel like it and I’ll sit there thinking, I don’t feel like recording, but then two weeks goes by and I’m like, okay, I really got to get another podcast episode out. Um, that happens sometimes. And then sometimes it’s like every day I’m like, Oh, I’ve got a new idea. Um, what I should do is record on those days and then release them weekly. But no, what normally happens is I’m just very inspired for two or three weeks at a time and then, and then I, I’m fighting it more for two or three weeks at a time and that it’s kind of a roller coaster. Um, you know, I know you’re eventually going to ask about the book, but it was a similar process with a book. If I just do it when I feel like it, it’s hard to get it done. But what’s been helpful for me? Well, what was a game changer for writing a book was having deadlines whether I want to write or not. If I know I’ve got a chapter that’s due by next Friday, it doesn’t matter what I feel like I’m gonna have it and, and my thought process was even if it’s bad chapter, it’s a chapter, I’ll revisit it later and make it better, but at least I’ve got a chapter out there and that made all the difference in the world to finally do the book and I’m trying to incorporate that with the podcast too. It’s like, oh, just record it. Just get the topic out there and start talking. And what I found is once I start talking and I know I’ve hit that record button, it flows and it, it’ll come out, but getting myself to sit down and hit the record button is the hardest part.
BRYAN: 01:10:32 Yeah, I’m sure some of them sometimes, especially with the, with the writing and what you said about deadlines. That reminds me of something I once heard that the great jazz musician, Duke Ellington said, he said, I don’t need more time. I need a deadline. Um, so with the book, with your most recent book, let me, well, let me ask you this. How did your writing change, if at all? Between the two projects?
NOAH: 01:11:00 It actually changed quite a bit because the first book was entirely self published and the second book was opposite. I had a publisher approach me and commissioned me to write the book.
BRYAN: 01:11:11 Wow. That must be nice.
NOAH: 01:11:12 Yeah. I would suggest I would recommend it, but the thing is it doesn’t work that way…
BRYAN: 01:11:21 For most people no. Right. Um, but, but by the way, just to jump in, I think it’s worth saying that it did happen that way for you because you did absolutely commitment and the tenacity to get the first one out. Many people are very, very good at talking but not so good at doing and delivering. And you did that. So I just want to acknowledge that.
NOAH: 01:11:45 Yeah, I would totally emphasize that too that. the second would have never happened the way that it did had it not been for the first. Um, so the, the style of the first one, uh, the first half of the book was write when I’m inspired and feeling like it in a year or so into that process. Um, I started to feel this sense of, you know, what, I’m never going to get this done, and I had a business trip in China where I was going to be attending two trade shows and in between there was a week with nothing to do and I thought that’s got to be it. That’s the window. I’m already there where I don’t have good Internet access and all these other distractions are just not there. And I buckled down and woke up every morning. There was a coffee shop in Beijing where I would go sit for three or four hours every single day for two weeks and that’s where I hammered out the rest of the book and got it done.
BRYAN: 01:11:45 Good for you.
NOAH: 01:11:45 Yeah.
BRYAN: 01:12:41 So I’m curious to know where in, especially for people who are writing nonfiction, maybe unless you’re writing about like blockchain or artificial intelligence or something on the cutting edge of science and human innovation. For anyone writing nonfiction, there’s a pretty low chance that they’re going to say something that’s never been said. Right. So what do you say to people who who are writing or they want to write, but the Gremlin like their self talk that stopping them as? Oh my, my words on this topic don’t matter?
NOAH: 01:13:15 Yeah. Well, I mean I absolutely encountered that because I’m writing about a topic that’s been talked about for 2,500 years, but it was, what was important for me was nobody’s ever heard it from me and nobody’s ever heard it in a way that makes sense to me. This is me talking to myself about how I explain this stuff. And that was… I think one of the big motivators for me was I thought, I wish this book was out there when I was researching this because I felt like I had to dig through a lot of books to, to extract what I’m presenting in this one book. So I felt like I was doing a favor to anyone who was going to embark on this journey that I had embarked on. Um, and that, that was a big motivator. I thought I would be very grateful to whoever would have presented it in this way 10 years ago when I was researching it, so I had to remind myself when the Gremlins, they’re saying, well, who on earth do you think you already even talk about this stuff? I would remind myself I’m the seeker, the seeker who’s talking to, you know, the, the me of now talking to the me of 10 years ago when I was trying to learn all this stuff.
BRYAN: 01:14:25 Yeah, I think that’s such a great view. And about writing the book you wish was available. Right. And then knowing that in doing that, knowing that you’re contributing to others.
NOAH: 01:14:25 Yeah
BRYAN: 01:14:37 I think that’s a great, a great view. So let me ask about, you talked about the publisher approached you and you talked about having deadlines. Walk me through if you will, the process, the timetable, you know, was there a book proposal involved? Was there an agent and an editor? Did you have a co writer of any sort? Like just kind of, if you were to tell me the story of how this book became a reality.
NOAH: 01:15:04 Yeah, so it started with an agent reaching out to me and the, the, the book agent or writing agent, I don’t know what the literary a literary agent said, I have a publisher who’s looking for an author that specializes in the topic that you are in, which is mindfulness and Buddhism. And she sent me the, the proposal, which was a, like an outline of the idea of the book and the, it all started with just saying, do you think that’s the type of book you could write?
NOAH: 01:15:35 So that’s totally, again, like backwards, totally backward. How most people. Okay.
BRYAN: 01:15:42 And I was like, Oh, a book about beginner beginners approach to Buddhism. Yeah. Like that’s what I deal with all day long. So once she sent back the um, I guess a proposal on our end of, yeah, this is the right author and um, and we want to engage in this. Then the publisher reached out and said, okay, we’ve been doing all this research and we want to, we want a book out there that fits this. Um, you know, there’s a need for this type of a book out there. And they kind of showed me the, not quite an outline or a skeleton of the book, but of the idea which was people have questions about Buddhism and we want someone to answer those questions. And then along these four topics, the history, the history of Buddhism and the Buddha, core Buddhist teachings, core Buddhist concepts and core Buddhist practices. Do you feel you would be able to answer questions along all four of those topics? And I said absolutely. So that’s where it started. Okay. What are the questions? And the writing process was, was fast. It was from the time that, um, I accepted the contract to write the book that my deadline for writing the book was three and a half weeks.
BRYAN: 01:15:42 Holy cow.
NOAH: 01:16:59 Yeah. And I was a little nervous because it was the end of November and it was going to be due like I want to say the third week of January or something. Um, so I knew I was going to have to write this right in the middle of the holiday season, but I knew this was of all the formats, this is the one I’m most comfortable with. People are asking me questions about Buddhism all the time. Uh, so I accepted and then the deadlines ended up being a… I was really looking forward to him because I knew every Friday I have to have x amount of the project delivered to them and then start working on the next one while I’m still waiting to get feedback on if they liked the first one. So it was a fast turnaround. But what, what really surprised me the most was how big of a team was behind the scenes. So I’m the only author. I’m the only one who wrote any of it, but everything I would write would go to like a developmental editor who was just looking at big picture structure. Then it would go to an editor who was just focused on the tone. Is this the consistent tone from question to question chapter to chapter. Then it would go through an editor who was just looking at, um, uh, let’s see. Structure, tone, obviously one for just grammar, but it was weird to get a, you know, an edit back from an editor where I knew they didn’t look at any of the grammar. They don’t care about that. They were just looking at structure, so then I could take that edited one, polish it and do another round where I know this time that it’s just someone who’s going to look at the tone that I used is like, is it a consistent tone? It was a really neat process to go through.
BRYAN: 01:18:39 That’s cool. That’s unique. I have not heard anybody describe having had that experience yet.
NOAH: 01:18:39 Oh yeah?
BRYAN: 01:18:46 That’s neat. And is it Alepa? Is that the publisher?
NOAH: 01:18:49 Aletha or Aletha, I’m not sure how you say that… Press is the…. They printed it. Callisto. Callisto Media is the actual publisher.
BRYAN: 01:18:58 Okay. Where are they a New York Publisher?
NOAH: 01:19:01 No, I think they’re in California.
BRYAN: 01:19:01 Figures.
NOAH: 01:19:01 Yeah.
BRYAN: 01:19:10 They’re probably wearing Birkenstocks right now. That’s great. I don’t mean to. I’m just playing with the west coast. Okay. So what’s the best advice maybe from one of those editors, maybe from a high school teacher, maybe someone else or, um, maybe from yourself. What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing?
NOAH: 01:19:33 Uh, the best advice I’ve received. I voiced some concern on the second book when I knew it was going to be going through all of these intense, uh, people who’ve studied English. My concern, what I told them as remember I went to middle school and high school in Spanish and I’ve never taken English or literature, anything that, um, you know, I’m, I’m very insecure in my writing. Like you’re going to pick this apart and say, where did you go to school? And my answer will be in a foreign country. That’s why, uh, I maybe, I may not be very good grammatically and stuff. So that was, they picked up early on the fact that I may be a little insecure about it and that I think the best advice I got out of that was just write. Just put it out there. It doesn’t matter what it sounds like. We will be able to help extrapolate out of what you wrote, what you really want to say, and that gave me the courage to just say, well, yeah, I will just write it down. It doesn’t have to be eloquent, it just has to be out there because someone may be able to look at it and say, Hey, is this what you meant to say? And I’ll say, oh, that sounds more eloquent than the way I worded it, and that’s exactly how it all went down.
BRYAN: 01:20:46 So to somebody who would love to have the benefit of an entire team like you have, but hasn’t yet had the privilege of being approached by a publisher, what would you say to somebody in terms of finding support to get their work done?
NOAH: 01:21:03 I think you would be surprised. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. I’m surprised at how good you can be at that. If you give yourself enough time, write it and then read what you wrote a week later and you’ll find, oh, okay, let me reword this. Um, we’re actually really good at it on our own with time. In my case with a team, time was short, but there were a lot of people, if you don’t have a lot of people, just take more time, write a chapter, get it done, get it out of there and start working on the next one, but revisit the other one and you’ll find that you’re pretty good at picking what needs to be edited and tweaked to be more eloquent or to make your message come across more clearly.
BRYAN: 01:21:46 Yeah, I, I have seen that in my own writing, and I remember reading something about this in Stephen King’s memoir on writing where he talked about part of his process to finish a novel is he’ll actually get an entire draft done, put it in a drawer literally for months.
NOAH: 01:21:46 Wow.
BRYAN: 01:22:03 Let it sit and then reread it as though he were, you know, he’s not the author and then go through and it’s like, that was interesting that he made that part of his process. So that. I think that’s probably really great advice. When you were writing, did you have any rituals that you observed, like did you have certain clothes or certain music or did you light a candle or like was there anything that you did just as part of the process either to make it easier because it just worked for you?
NOAH: 01:22:32 When I was traveling, yes. That little coffee shop in Beijing I was telling you about. I think that became part of my ritual. I would go in there and I found that just by being in there, the smells and everything I was associating to that experience. That was my writing place. So just being in there, I already felt like, okay, it’s time to write. Um, w what I found at home, it would have to be similar like I where I have my, my desk or wherever I would sit to to start writing. It was consistent and that helped almost trigger in me the notion of, oh, it’s time to write, but at least in my case, if it was very random and sporadic, it was harder to draw that inspiration. So for, for me, coffee shops now, like they’re forever associated with writing.
BRYAN: 01:23:23 Yeah, yeah. And cats and books and there’s like, there’s like a whole writer lifestyle I’m learning. There really is for some people anyway. Well let me ask you this. Do you have, you have another book that you, that you want to write or maybe you’re already writing?
NOAH: 01:23:38 I do. I actually have two tentative projects in the works. One of them is a mindfulness journal and the other one is a book about mindfulness geared for children.
BRYAN: 01:23:50 Right on. That’s great. So what is a typical day for you like and I suppose what I’m really interested to know, although I am interested in a typical day for you more specifically when you were in the process of writing, like what, how and how do you balance your other responsibilities and you know, just life.
NOAH: 01:24:13 Um, for me, when I, when I’m in writing mode because I’m not a full time writer or author, but when I’m in that stage of, of working on a book, what I found was really helpful for me was early on I get up and I do what I was going to do for the writing part of my day early and then it, you know, I would write like 500 or a thousand words and be like, okay, I’m done for the day, but I feel so accomplished because I just took another little bite out of this giant elephant, you know.
BRYAN: 01:24:45 And what’s early for you, 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM?
NOAH: 01:24:45 6:00 AM
BRYAN: 01:24:50 And then a thousand words would take you hour, hour and a half.
NOAH: 01:24:53 It depends on the day, but uh, yeah, sometimes I would start at six and if I’m done by eight or nine and ready to go work or do whatever my normal day is like a, I was feeling really accomplished.
BRYAN: 01:25:05 So a word count sounds like it was useful for you?
NOAH: 01:25:09 Yeah, it was, yeah.
BRYAN: 01:25:12 Okay. How did you organize, I mean, I know you had, that you had the kind of outline or the concept from the publisher, but in terms of organizing your own thoughts, right? And maybe this is also a question in the podcast as well, where now you’re in your seventies or 80th episode, something like that, and you’re choosing topics every time. How do you, how do you organize your ideas in a way that you don’t lose them?
NOAH: 01:25:36 Yeah, that’s a good question. I’m in my case I mentioned before, um, I have uh, a natural tendency to be good at just talking. So I present my podcast and even my writing style as if I were sitting here talking to you face to face. And I just jot down bullet points like mentioned this topic or that I’m. So my brainstorming process for writing or for the podcast usually consists of a page that has a bunch of bullet points and then what I’ll do is I’ll sit there and reorder them. Like, well if I put this one here and that one there, then I feel confident that when I hit that record button or a start typing on the keyboard, the idea will be expanded into a longer form and that’s what I do. If I sit and try to be detailed with, with it first, I feel like I’m never content with with it, so I just keep putting it off trying to make it better and better. But if I just go with very rough ideas and then expand those ideas, it’s very easy for me to do the podcast or to write.
BRYAN: 01:26:46 Yeah. And anyone can do that, right? Like I think sometimes writing seems so daunting. But this, this what you’re saying of taking bullet points and looking at them as almost keywords or, or bullets and then sequencing them and then sitting down to expand them as you would if you were to talk with someone about them.That seems like really doable.
NOAH: 01:26:46 Yeah. Anyone can sit and do that.
BRYAN: 01:27:08 Yeah, that’s great. Um, what software did you use or do you use to write?
NOAH: 01:27:15 I’ve tried so many different ones. I would research and it’s like, this is the software writers use, boom, I’d buy it, but then the, some of them have really steep learning curves and I would get frustrated and then ditch it and buy a new one and start the entire process over again, thinking the software somehow going to magically work for them.
BRYAN: 01:27:37 Oh yeah. What are some of the ones you tried and set aside?
NOAH: 01:27:40 Um, so trying to remember the name. There’s one Scribner?,
BRYAN: 01:27:40 Scrivener
NOAH: 01:27:40 Scrivener.
BRYAN: 01:27:40 Yep.
NOAH: 01:27:48 Um, that’s one I spent a lot of time with… Evernote. I’m trying to remember some of the names. I can’t remember the name.
BRYAN: 01:27:48 Did you do Ommwriter.
NOAH: 01:27:59 No, I don’t recognize that. No.
BRYAN: 01:28:01 And what has worked for you… out… when all is said and done what or what are you currently using?
NOAH: 01:28:05 So I wrote the entire second book in Microsoft word.
BRYAN: 01:28:12 And I hear that a lot by the way.
NOAH: 01:28:12 Yeah.
BRYAN: 01:28:12 Yeah.
NOAH: 01:28:15 Oh, that’s, that’s good to know because I was thinking somebody out there has the magic software that makes this easy and I never found it. So I just stuck with the most basic thing and just wrote it, wrote it in a Word doc.
BRYAN: 01:28:28 And then by the way, when you got the edits back from the team, did they use the track changes feature? They did. Yup.
BRYAN: 01:28:36 Yeah, that’s… I hear that pretty commonly. What about. So one thing that I found can be a challenge is just the versioning. When you save a file and especially when they’re trading back and forth in email and their attachments and all that, what did you do that helped you stay sane and be effective when it came to the way you actually saved and named your files, your chapters and stuff?
NOAH: 01:28:58 Just doing a whole new file, like you know, version one or version two. I found for me it was kind of tricky. Once you, once you’re dealing with a, with a lot of words, knowing what did they correct, what was that my version or is that a word they chose? You know, I started to get lost in that. So every time I would send one off, when they would send one back, I would compare them and then I would… I would make it very clear that we’re done with that file. You’re not gonna re… re-edit it because I would get lost, so I would just start over and we’re gonna call this version two now, and then however many passes that required, as long as it was an entirely new file, I felt like I wasn’t inundated with changes that I no longer knew were happening.
BRYAN: 01:29:46 If you had it to do again with this, No Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners, what would you do differently and what would you do the same when it comes to the act of writing the book?
NOAH: 01:30:00 It’s kind of tricky because I’m very happy with how this book ended up. One thing I think I would do differently is I would have, I would add more. Of course a book of this nature question and answer, by the time it’s all done and we’ve passed the point where I can’t, I can’t change anymore, of course I had 10 or 15 new questions that I thought, oh, these would have been good in there. So I think maybe if I did something differently it would have been adding more, adding a bit more to it, but again, they had a very targeted goal of it’s got to be this amount of words and they didn’t want it to go over or under. As far as the process, I think what I would do differently is I would have a fixed time that’s consistent like every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from six to 8:00 AM, no matter what’s going on or how I’m feeling, that’s writing time. Some of that was forced because I had really tight deadlines. But I found myself like writing at times that weren’t ideal, like really late at night, and I’m really struggling to clarify this concept because I’m tired, you know, I think if I just would have been more consistent with the early blocks, it would have been a little easier for me.
BRYAN: 01:31:14 Yeah. So do you know about the website and the email service Bookbub?
NOAH: 01:31:14 No.
BRYAN: 01:31:22 So I wan… I wondered because I actually, I’m subscribed to this service. I think it’s amazing. I know many people listening will know what it is and others won’t, but it’s this really cool service where you can go in and sign up and then you indicate where you like to buy books. Like if you go to B&N.com or Amazon or some of the other retailers. And then you specify what types you like. So if you like historical fiction or biography or business or whatever and you basically click the type of books and then they send you every single day books that have been discounted digital and the digital. And it’s amazing because there are books that like I’ve looked at, you know, and then for whatever reason, um, and I don’t know all the goings on the machinations of the publishing industry, but occasionally like these best sellers and other popular books get added to this list, and your book was actually one of them. And it’s like a flash sale. So it only exists for like a day. And instead of being whatever the normal list price is, many of these books or you know, $15 on Kindle. And then for one day there’ll be $.99 cents or $2 and, and again, I don’t know if it’s part of like a promotion or, or whatever, but I wanted to ask because I thought it might’ve been the publisher. The publisher actually will often sign up to do that on Bookbub. Um, but I was, I was curious actually, I did pay full price for your book and it was worth every penny.
NOAH: 01:32:45 I would have given you a copy.
BRYAN: 01:32:48 It was, it was great. Oh, I do want to ask you this. What advice do you have for somebody who is either they’ve been thinking about writing a book they want to do it or maybe they’re in the middle of it and maybe they’re feeling stuck. What advice do you have for somebody who’s either at the outset of this or in the middle of it?
NOAH: 01:33:09 I think my advice would be to just get it done. Uh, now I know that sounds almost like, well duh anyone’s going to say that, but here’s what I mean. With our writing, we, it’s like we, we feel like this first thing that I write or whatever I’m working on, this is my baby, it’s gotta be done right, or I’m not going to do it, and I think I, I don’t know that that’s the wisest approach. I think it’s wiser to a little more wise to think, just get it done because the next one might be better than this one and I’ll never get to that fourth or fifth one if I don’t do the first one. So my advice would be get it done. It doesn’t, you don’t have to act on it yet. You may, you may get it done and put it in the drawer like, like you said earlier, and it’ll sit there for a month, but you’re not going to get it better unless you get it good and then it’s not going to be best unless you went… you got through what was better. You know what I mean?
BRYAN: 01:34:04 Yeah. So for sure.
NOAH: 01:34:06 Just getting, getting your stuff out there on paper and done is, it’s very liberating to be like, okay, well now I can focus on improving it because it’s just, it’s done and it’s out there. But I think a lot of us struggle with that. I don’t want it out there until it’s very, in my mind it’s presentable or it’s great.
BRYAN: 01:34:25 Yeah, sure. What about. So I just want to end on a couple of questions related to podcasting. Who is podcasting right for?
NOAH: 01:34:37 That’s a good question. I’m not entirely sure. I mean I, I, I felt like podcasting was right for me to do because I listened to a lot of podcasts. Um, but not everybody does.
BRYAN: 01:34:37 What are some of the podcasts you listened to?
NOAH: 01:34:37 Sam Harris, Waking Up, Radiolab.
BRYAN: 01:34:37 I love Radiolab.
NOAH: 01:34:59 Yeah, their topics are just so fascinating.
BRYAN: 01:34:59 And their sound effects are so….
NOAH: 01:34:59 I know.
BRYAN: 01:34:59 So good.
NOAH: 01:35:04 Yeah. Uh, and then there’s one called Hardcore History, Dan Carlin, um, he doesn’t produce them regularly, but when he does, it’s a whopper. It’s like a six hour episode on one part of history. And like I said, history fascinates me.
BRYAN: 01:35:04 And he goes deep.
NOAH: 01:35:19 He does. He goes really deep. I think those were the three most common ones that I would listen to regularly. Um, they got me thinking this would be kind of fun to do a podcast.
BRYAN: 01:35:29 Dan’s is a solo as far as I know, right? The one I’ve listened to with him. Radiolab is often interview. Yeah. So you have kind of a mixture and then you’ve settled on this format, although you’ve done some interviews, you largely do it solo.
NOAH: 01:35:29 Yes.
BRYAN: 01:35:44 So what advice do you have for somebody who wants, who’s, who’s interested to, to launch a podcast?
NOAH: 01:35:54 Do some research and figure out who your audience is, what you’re going to talk about. I have a good friend who, who just approached me and has been talking to me about wanting to get into podcasting and wanting tips and advice. And I sent her several links to… there, there are several blog posts that have like step by step instructions for how to get into podcasting and they’re very thorough. Um, so I told her, read through those. If everything there feels like it’s doable, then go for it. Um, in my case, for example, I, I record it, I’m also the one doing the sound engineering and the editing and then I, I’m the one who updates my podcast or my website. So it’s very, I don’t have to depend on anyone and that makes, makes it really easy. Some people can rely on others to help with facets of it, like editing or whatever, but if you’re, if you’re in a position where you can’t do that, you can’t get someone to help you, then before jumping into it, make sure every aspect of it is something you’re comfortable with, dabbling with, or at least learning.
BRYAN: 01:37:01 Yeah. So those, those kind of how-to articles that you mentioned, is that something that you’d be willing to share and I can link to in the show notes for this?
NOAH: 01:37:11 Of course, yeah. I’ll send you a link.
BRYAN: 01:37:13 Yeah, because I know anybody could Google. Right? But to know that these are things that you followed and you’ve produced 2 million downloads. It gives it a new personal…
NOAH: 01:37:24 Well, I didn’t follow this. What I did is when I had friends starting to ask, I went, I Googled it and I looked at all the links and I went… ahh, that one I don’t know, and I found this one. I thought this one is good.
BRYAN: 01:37:34 So it’s not that you followed it step by step to achieve your results, but having achieved your results, you look at it and you kind of endorsed it.
NOAH: 01:37:34 Exactly. Right. That’s it.
BRYAN: 01:37:43 That’s really interesting. And maybe by the way, um, I love, we didn’t talk about this in the interview, but this thing about the fact that you’re pairing with other thought leaders like to do a mindful eating program to do, you’ll do a mindful parenting. I’m wondering if there’s like a mindful podcasting, you know, because I think people would love to hear your perspective on that.
NOAH: 01:38:03 Mindful writing.
BRYAN: 01:38:04 Yeah. Or mindful writing. Maybe we could do one of those. That’s, that’s great. I do want to ask this about writing and about podcasting and I’m interested to know how they’re similar or different, but when you were writing, how much, like, how much clarity did you have about who you were writing for? Like, did you have a specific individual in mind that represented your audience? Or did you have some vague demographic information or what, what was your thought about who you were writing for?
NOAH: 01:38:34 That’s actually a very good point that you bring up because in my experience I had a very clear picture with both books of who I was writing to.
BRYAN: 01:38:34 And who is it?
NOAH: 01:38:44 So in both of those cases I was writing to myself, people like me who… so for the first book Secular Buddhism, at that stage of my life I was disaffected with religion entirely but wanting to find some kind of wisdom out of eastern thought that would feel fulfilling. And, and I knew I wasn’t the only one out there who felt that way and that’s who I was writing to that audience. With the second book, like I mentioned earlier, I was writing to the me of 10 years ago when I was researching Buddhism and I knew again through the podcast that there is a very large audience out there of people who, who have heard of Buddhism and know very little about it, but they want to learn more and I knew that’s who I’m writing to, not to someone who’s been studying it… it was a very clear picture for me. And I think that really helped with the writing process because I was… throughout the entire process, I knew who I was writing too. I never had to question that.
BRYAN: 01:39:43 Yeah. And how clear is it for you when you record a podcast?
NOAH: 01:39:47 I’m so, that one’s a little less clear. Only because my audience has evolved. You know, when I started the podcast, I was presenting Buddhism to secular minded people who were interested in Buddhism as a philosophy. But over the, over the past couple of years as it’s evolved a little bit, now I’m talking to people who, who were secular minded, who are now, who have been interested in Buddhism maybe for a year or more now and have been practicing aspects of it. Um, so the audience has kind of shifted, but I’m still talking to people who are jumping into it for the first time who are secular minded, very skeptical of anything that sounds like a religion. So my audience has grown, but I feel like it’s still pretty clearly defined, but it’s not quite so niche anymore.
BRYAN: 01:40:35 Yeah, no, that makes sense. I do want to thank you very much for making the time to be here and this has been fun to do because we’re able to do this in person.
NOAH: 01:40:35 Yeah.
BRYAN: 01:40:45 Which is really cool.
NOAH: 01:40:46 I liked to in this in person, it’s fun.
BRYAN: 01:40:50 Yeah, it’s cool, and as a way of saying thank you, one of the things that I’ve done is I’ve made a Kiva loan on your behalf. Do you know Kiva.org?
NOAH: 01:40:50 Yes.
BRYAN: 01:40:57 Yeah. So, um, I’ve made a loan to a woman in India named Bidjitiban. She’s 36 years old, she’s married and she has a vegetable selling business, so she will use this. Uh, her total loan is $375 that will help her expand by buying vegetables like bottle gourds.
NOAH: 01:40:57 Awesome.
BRYAN: 01:41:18 It was pretty cool. Then I made $100 over $375 loan on your behalf. So thank you for.
NOAH: 01:41:18 Awesome.
BRYAN: 01:41:24 Thank you for being here. And is there anything that you want to leave our listeners with, just kind of a concluding thought?
NOAH: 01:41:34 No. Well, yes. I guess I guess the concluding thought would be the quote from the Dalai Lama, you know, don’t use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist and I would expand that. Don’t, don’t use it to be something that you think you need to be whatever that is, but rather allow this, these ideas and concepts to be tools that help help you befriend, whatever you already are.
BRYAN: 01:42:01 Beautiful. I love it. All right, well thank you Noah, and thank you to everyone who’s listening. I hope you’ve taken something away from this that helps you be a better whatever you already are and that you enjoyed the time we spent together, so thank you.
NOAH: 01:42:14 Thank you Bryan.
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