In this fascinating interview, we talk about personal development, self-sabotage, Yoda, and so much more. Learn how to meditate without being totally bored, and especially learn how to not connect so much personal meaning to things out of your control. Take control of your life, and use the advantage of your thoughts to put true meaning into your life with inspiration.
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We dig into personal growth and mindset - with the surprising news that these don't always work if you don't take care of your mental wellness as you work on your success.
From our guest:
"Hi, my name’s Nate Rifkin. Over a decade ago, I battled suicidal thoughts. My financial life was a mess, I felt alone, and I drank a mix of vodka and an energy drink in the mornings to get me through the day. Worst of all, my mind was my enemy, constantly tearing me down.
This, by the way, was after I dedicated myself to the most common self-help practices you’ll find today. I did the visualizing, made the vision boards, set the goals, and my life still disintegrated into a disgusting dumpster fire.
I’m grateful it happened because my inner pain pushed me into a spiritual path. This path, mostly derived from the Daoist tradition, saved my life. It helped me revive my career. Best of all, it transformed my mind from an enemy into an ally.
I’ve written a book about my journey, called The Standing Meditation. It gives step-by-step directions for performing the Daoist meditation that changed my life. Within days of publishing my book, it became a #1 New Release on Amazon in multiple categories."
You can read the first chapter for free, right here: https://bit.ly/3RMk0Ei"
Get the book here: www.thestandingmeditation.com
SUBSCRIBE TO THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE: https://bit.ly/3RPAkUG
#podcast #interview #journal
[00:00:00] Matt: Nate, if we were at a party and you were introducing yourself to me, , what would you say you do?
[00:00:06] Nate: I would say I help people sort through their emotional gunk and flush it out of them so that they can actually make all this, self development, personal development stuff, finally work.
[00:00:23] Matt: That's beautiful. I love that. That's so much what this podcast is about. Anyways. I felt like I, I had a million questions, I did want to start with self sabotage and you talk a little bit about overcoming self sabotage and how to do that. Yeah. Can we talk about that a little bit?
[00:00:39] Nate: Yeah, absolutely. And just to give you little background, everything that I filter through in terms of like my psychology and how I go about things comes from, the Taoist spiritual tradition, cuz I've found it to be a very helpful philosophy for me. So the reason I say this is because there's a Taoist story where there's a farmer and one day his horse runs away and there's a, couple people from the town come by and say oh my God, that's so awful.
I'm so sorry. And he's just no, don't worry. My horse just ran away. That's all. And then the horse comes back in a few days with a group of wild horses and then the townspeople come by and say, oh wow. Now you've got a group of horses. That's so great. And he is eh, it's not great. It's not bad. And I just now have a group of horses.
So the reason I say that, tell you that story is because people self sabotage if they attach a tremendous amount of their own personal meaning to something that happens to them, both good or bad. So you could self sabotage. When you're about to have a meeting with someone, say, you've got your, an entrepreneur, you've got a startup and you're about to enter a business meeting and you're thinking to yourself:
I need this. This is like the most amazing thing that's ever gonna happen to me. I need this partner. No one else is gonna work. So whatever they say, I'm just gonna say yes to , cause this is so great. You've attached so much. Meaning that number one, you're gonna self sabotage through your nervousness and your behavior, your lack of perceptions, cuz you're putting blinders on yourself.
And because when you attach so much meaning to it, you're going to miss out on all the other great opportunities that might come your way, if you weren't so fixated on it. So that's the way people, self sabotage when something that they perceive as good happens. And it's the same thing.
If something's bad, if you attach so much meaning to oh, this deal didn't work out. This is terrible. This is awful. How often have we done that? And then six months later, or six years later, we look back and we. I am so glad that happened. But when we attach so's perception to it in the moment, that's how we put blinders ourselves and we self sabotage.
[00:02:52] Matt: Do you think that it works the same way? If let's say I'm working in an opportunity and it's going better and better, and there's something inside me that screws it up. That's gonna screw it up until I know that's coming and I know a hard part's coming. I know until I know that there's something in me, that's gonna mess that opportunity up.
Yeah, I've done it a thousand times.
[00:03:15] Nate: Yeah. Yeah, me too.
[00:03:17] Matt: do you think it's for the same reason?
[00:03:20] Nate: Actually it might not be, cuz you know, there's as much as I'd love to tell you, oh, it all comes down to this one little thing, I actually think you're right on and that there's something else going on.
And that's why I talk about removing emotional gunk, cuz we all have our set points of our comfort zones and it's not just people when people talk about comfort zones, Usually we talk about oh, I'm not gonna get on stage and sing karaoke or something like that. I'm not gonna do this.
We also have comfort zones for how good our life can get, and how much of a lack of struggle we can have. And they're usually set by our childhood with mom and dad, like my, my, just be candid. Like my mother and father had a very like cold, distant, emotionally cut off relationship.
So when I met a loving partner, , it was actually outside of my comfort zone to have that emotional bond. And I had to be aware of that. So that's how I'd answer that is that yes. A lot of times that dynamic will happen when things are going better and then something in you, you just like, oh, I just, we like, I'll say to myself, oh, I just did that stupid thing.
And I messed it all up. It's because part of. Needs to get back in that comfort zone of struggle, but that, but when we have a conscious awareness of it, it's pulling back the curtain on the wizard of Oz and we can start to dissolve it, yes. Cause once, once you get aware of your patterns, it's oh, okay.
I see what you're doing there.
[00:04:43] Matt: So your book standing meditation, does it address that issue? Getting rid of the gunk?
[00:04:48] Nate: Yeah. Yeah, it does. And I could go into a bit of like, how that happens if you
[00:04:52] Matt: I would love to hear that. Yes.
[00:04:54] Nate: Cool. So what I found is that, when I was in my early twenties, I got really into self-help like super into goal setting.
Visualization, like all that stuff. Like my neighbors probably thought I was a nut job because they would hear me like, shouting affirmations into my bathroom mirror. And the walls were so thin. It's man, this person really wants to be a millionaire or something like that. And I never, I actually never achieved the goals I set.
And I was like, what on earth? There was something wrong with me. What am I missing? and it turns out it was because I was trying to grasp and claw for my goals from such an unclean emotional place. Like I had the desperate need to achieve it. So instead of going toward the outside and reaching for like a more successful future, what I had to do was turn inward and that's a lot of what my book was about because.
I finally had my breakthrough when I started using meditation as a baseline to change how my own inner psychology, my own emotional makeup, so that when I started taking action and doing all the self-help stuff, I was actually doing it from a much cleaner place. And, I think meditation's often taught in a bit, a too simplistic way where a lot of people don't get a lot of the benefits you end up just like sitting for 15 minutes and thinking wasted your time.
[00:06:18] Matt: That, that has been me in the past. Yes. Like I'm gonna try this. Everybody says do it. So I'm gonna sit here and I'm like, this is boring. This is stupid. I'm trying to clear my mind and I can't.
[00:06:28] Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And oh, and I've absolutely been there too. And I really do think it's because it's just taught incorrectly. But to answer your question though, when it's done correctly, that's how we can start to actually finally process the emotional crap that's buried in us.
And as a result it's so weird. Self sabotage just like starts to stop happening. Not overnight a hundred percent gone, but little things you used to do just don't happen anymore. And it's it's hard to actually make the linear connection between that and meditation, but it happens.
So it's it's, it. It's best done is like a daily practice where it's like working out. It's like over time, it's gonna keep your heart healthier and stuff like that. So you just know if you do it every day, your whole life is gonna get better.
[00:07:15] Matt: Right now. One of the, one of the guys I like to listen to is Brian, Tracy And one of the things that he says all of the time is that your entire life is based on the quality of your thinking. And would you say that. Meditation could be improving the quality of the thinking. And that's why it may be changing your life.
[00:07:35] Nate: Ye yeah. There's lot to unpack here, but it, yes, I know.
a, That's a cool question. So it does, because your mind is a beautiful, brilliant, like problem solving machine. You give it a problem. It like, and I'm talking about your conscious chatter, like that. Okay. That sort of the voice we hear all the time, because that is the voice that helps us problem solve and build businesses and just, make it happen build great careers.
So it's a very useful tool. The trouble comes when that tool is programmed to have destructive thoughts that where we're, where we hate ourselves, where we turn it into a weapon where we do damage to ourselves. So here's where maybe it, maybe I might differ from Brian Tracy.
I re actually remember reading some books by him back in the day is pretty cool. But I don't know his teachings as well as you do. So I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna Pontificate here. Okay. We have our mind, we have our mind and we have our thoughts that we process, but. . Is there anything necessarily behind our mind that is actually programming it on where it's gonna focus on and how destructive or helpful our thoughts are? So I don't know what his opinion is on that, but I think there's something deeper beyond that now.
And we could get a little about that. I'm okay with that. okay, cool. Cause that's, I was thinking before, our conversation that, it's sometimes it could be a little embarrassing for me to get woo, woo. But this is the stuff that worked for me. And according to science, Like we, we're still trying to figure out where consciousness comes from.
But what I believe is that there's something deeper and more eternal that's beyond our conscious thoughts. So if we start working with that and building a relationship with that, that will have a knockoff effect onto our conscious thoughts. And then that's where what Brian Tracy says comes in our whole life will get because our whole life is built on our thoughts. Where I tripped up was I tried changing my thoughts by changing my thoughts, by working with my thoughts. And I ended up just looping and looping in my head. And I got more and more depressed. And that's where the meditation came in because I jumped off the hamster wheel of my thoughts.
I, I did a practice that actually was outside of that cycle. And as a result, it improved the thought cycle. Once I jumped back into it, it's kinda it's kinda you can't really fix your car while you're driving it. Okay. Yeah.
[00:10:02] Matt: Okay. That is a great metaphor, actually. I really like that.
[00:10:06] Nate: Glad we're recording. Sorry.
[00:10:08] Matt: Yeah, there you go.
[00:10:09] Nate: I'm sure it's not original with me. I dunno.
[00:10:11] Matt: But no, I loved it. If. So why do you think that we're, this is a personal development podcast, right? And now we're saying that for some people, this might not work. They might try to do all the stuff that I recommend in all of my episodes and still be like, not looping the right thing.
Let's say not thinking the right thoughts. So what would you tell them? If it's just not working. Because that's where you were.
[00:10:41] Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I would tell them, and this actually gets into, the cool questions that you like to ask, everyone you have a conversation with, which is here's what I would tell them.
I would say, take your left hand, place it on your belly, take your right hand, place it on your chest. And as you breathe, make sure your left hand that's on your belly. Rises and falls and that your right hand on your chest stays more stationary. So this way you're breathing deep into your belly. And I'd say, do that and start with a minute a day.
And start adding time and do that right after you take a shower and brush your teeth. And before you either head out the door, certainly before you check your phone , and so he let me back up. So why the heck am I telling the person to do that? Because this hypothetical person, like where I was, they've done all the stuff involving their thoughts.
What I'm doing is something that takes them in a different direction and indirectly. Works with their mind, but because by changing the way you breathe, you're gonna change the hormones in your body. You're gonna change your emotional state and therefore all that is gonna start influencing your thoughts.
And there's a lot, there's a lot more going on there too, but that is what I would tell them. I would give them a body based exercise and by the way, what I just described. Yeah. If you. , practicing it and you dive, deep into it. That's a meditation and it's a much better meditation than sitting and trying to like battle your thoughts and trying to ignore your thoughts and then feel pissed that you can't control your thoughts.
[00:12:22] Matt: Okay. So while I'm doing this, I've got a hand on the belly hand on my chest. I'm making sure that I'm breathing into my lower part of my lungs apparently.
[00:12:32] Nate: Yeah. Yeah. It's it is basically, you're not literally breathing into your belly cuz that's right, large and small inte are, but what you're doing is you're activating your diaphragm that actually fill that opens up your lungs completely.
Cuz your lungs are empty sacks. They can't move. They can only be moved. And when you're breathing into your chest, that's a panic inducing breath. It really is, but when you're breathing into your belly and your lungs are actually extending all the way down and opening fully that's the kind of breathing that signals your good, your calm everything's great.
Which by the way, will act will help your brain be more creative.
[00:13:05] Matt: So when you're breathing like that, are you working on your thinking at all? Or do you just breathe and let your thoughts just do whatever they do?
[00:13:11] Nate: That's a great question here. So here's the cool part. I, if what I'm doing with my thoughts is this first I'm focusing on breathing into my belly, which will focus your conscious mind next. I'm asking myself, what does that feel like? So I'm feeling the sensations down in my belly. Now it could be, it could feel warm. It could feel like a tingling or a buzz, especially if you get into it.
Cuz if you do a lot of deep breathing for a long time, it's oh, this feels good. And I'm tuning into those sensations and that's and then I'm asking myself, can I relax into this even more? All right. Now, can I breathe even slower? And then it's oh, how does that feel? Oh, let me pause right there.
So why am I doing this? I'm giving my conscious mind a bone to chew on. I'm giving it a task. Instead of thinking about the email, I have to check her that stupid text. I just got or, what are this? What is this person thinking? It's oh my God, did I screw that thing up? I'm giving my mind a task to focus on.
And not only is it a task that's in the present moment and based on something that's making me healthier and more calm, it's sensory based, it's feeling based. So I'm asking myself, what does it feel like when I'm breathing into my belly? So when you keep going like this. Without even trying what'll happen is you'll start slipping into that meditative state where your thoughts are relaxed and you did it by not trying.
That's the, like the whole paradox that all these spiritual traditions try and pass down. You can't fight your thoughts. So you do something like this and you end up in that really calm, restful, peaceful state that will help you thrive after you get up and go out the door and do your.
[00:14:55] Matt: Okay. Okay. That's that is fascinating. Now what you're describing to me is that the standing meditation
[00:15:03] Nate: it's it's that done? Standing?
[00:15:05] Matt: Is there a benefit to standing?
[00:15:08] Nate: Yeah, there is. And it's and just so I can describe it it's not like standing, just like you're waiting in line at the bank.
It's done with your knee slightly unlocked. Like basically just barely unlocked. And it's almost like you're sitting on top of a super high bar stool. If you've ever been on a bar stool, it's way too high, it's like, all I can do is just tuck my hips and sit on it. So it's almost like- it's almost like you're getting on a horse or something like that, but you're not, you're just standing there. And it comes from a the Taoist like martial arts traditions and standing like this. You get really it helps because you get really grounded. And there's a lot more like interesting esoteric benefits cuz
if you, by the way, have you ever heard of acupuncture?
[00:15:46] Matt: I have heard of acupuncture. My wife actually did it when she was pregnant
[00:15:50] Nate: oh, beautiful. That's awesome. Did she get benefits from it or.
[00:15:53] Matt: She loved it. Yeah. She went back a second time with so presumably she did great.
[00:15:59] Nate: Great. Okay. We don't have time to cover it, but there's an interesting growing body of science around acupuncture and how it affects meridians in the body that there really is. There really are health benefits to it.
So when you stand, like I described what happens is you're actually activating the meridians in your body to a similar way to getting an acupuncture treatment. But you're doing it to yourself. And also it has to do with like how, when you're staying this way and your feet are flat on the floor, you've got all kinds of cool acupuncture and pressure points that end in your feet.
You could Google all the cool stuff on acupressure and acupuncture, and you'll see diagrams of the feet and it's super cool. The reason why I that I do a meditation practice standing like that is cuz it's a way to just amp up the benefits.
But that was also due meditation sitting. And I do seated meditation all the time, so it could be done in really any position even walking. But the key is what we've just discussed is getting your body into that kind of different state, because when you do, that's how you can start processing old, emotional stuff.
[00:17:08] Matt: That is excellent. I'm into that. It's really interesting. I did a podcast a little bit ago about meditation and about the fact that I just couldn't meditate. I couldn't do it. And then one day, I was at my wits end, totally freaking out. And I just sat down at the piano and I sang and played the piano for probably an hour. And when I got up, I was so refreshed and I thought maybe it's cuz I was doing something that I was good at and that could still be true. However, when I. I breathe through my diaphragm, into my stomach.
That's the way that you learn to sing. , that's where the air is supposed to go. Which means that I sat at the piano, relaxed giving my mind another task while I was belly breathing.
[00:17:55] Nate: Yeah. That's really cool. That's awesome. Yeah. And it I think that makes absolute sense. And in fact in a lot of spiritual traditions, they'll actually.
For those who can sing they actually teach that can just be a wonderful exercise because just the act of doing it, not only what you described physically, but also just the emotions that come up it's a wonderful way of changing the emotional state you're in. And really it, it can also be very healing experience.
So yeah, that's super.
[00:18:27] Matt: And so you wrote this book, standing meditation. What caused you to write it?
[00:18:31] Nate: I it's been about not quite 15 years, but almost 15 years since I really just went through a lot of the worst emotional pain of my life. And I came to a place where I shifted over to doing a lot more of this, these meditative practices and really digging into what makes them work and how to do it.
Cause I was frustrated. I'm like, I've, I'd heard of all this stuff, but similar to you, just like it, it just wasn't clicking. It's like what the heck? Lo and behold, 15 years later, I'm looking around and I'm just like, a lot of this stuff still isn't really that clearly taught. I don't think so. So about three years ago just wrote a book on my experiences and wrote like, all right, here's what I went through.
And I tell the story, here's what I learned. And then I turn around and go like, all right, here's how I think it can be applied to the reader, to you and to transform your life. And I just went chapter by chapter. And I published it early this year. And now it's my mission. Help people integrate, more meditative practices into their life to improve.
[00:19:33] Matt: I am going to get the book and read it and possibly invite you back on, cuz I'll have a million questions after I read the book, maybe we could do another one of these.
[00:19:43] Nate: Yeah. I'd be honored to it. Hey, thi I hope you love the book. So yeah. Thank you, sir.
[00:19:47] Matt: I'm looking forward to it, I like for the last two years I've been struggling with yeah.
Should I me meditate? Am I missing some, am I missing out on something in my personal development? By not meditating. The question is always there because I put it aside cuz I couldn't do it, but it's always hanging out in the background. There's people doing it and there's people that swear by it.
So this, this might be my route in and definitely looking forward to that.
[00:20:14] Nate: Cool. I love it. And I totally hear what you're saying. I, yeah I went through the exact same thing.
[00:20:20] Matt: So now that we've talked about this and my listeners are gonna be personal development people and people that are looking for that kind of advice and that kind of life.
So they've learned a bunch of personal development. Now they start doing your meditation. Were you saying that personal development stuff comes back around and actually starts being useful?
[00:20:38] Nate: Yeah. Now for me I can speak to my story. I was in a spot where I absolutely needed this, more spiritual, this more spiritual, these more spiritual practices to make everything else work.
Cause that was just my journey for other people who a lot of personal development stuff is rocking for it's working great. This will be an amplifier. Okay. Cause think it, it I'll try and come up with a metaphor, but in the meantime, I'll just say when you work with your thoughts or when you take action, when you do anything to improve your life, if you also add a meditative practice in the mix that really works for you, you're cleaning up like the fuel you bring to everything.
You're cleaning up the energy you bring to everything because you're gonna be doing it with less self sabotage. And fewer like kind of emotional rattles happening cuz it's it's like you did a recording recently about like ripple effects. And when I was thinking about that, because the ripple effects that occur through our lives, like we do one little thing five years ago and it comes back to haunt us, it's usually stuff that's caused by when we get emotionally rattled and we make a mistake. Yeah, we get irritated, yes. Meditation can start to soothe the way. The wiring in our, you know,
in our in our brains, in our bodies that causes those things.
And it can do so it almost prevents 'em before they happen. It's not like a hundred percent everything guaranteed overnight, but the trend will start. So that's how it can help people who are already like implementing a lot of personal development. Yeah,
[00:22:14] Matt: that's great. If if anybody wanted to learn more about Taoism besides reading your book, what other books would you recommend?
[00:22:23] Nate: Ooh, that's a great question. One is of course it's called the Tao Te Ching. And that is like the pillar foundational text of Taoism. You could say it's akin to what the Bible is for Christianity. Okay. It's not a perfect comparison, but it's gives you an idea. Okay. And that's spelled well, there's different ways of spelling it, but one way is T A O.
And then T E and then C H I N G. So Dow it, which it's pronounced Dow, but sometimes spell it the T and it's short, it's 81 verses, and it's a really beautiful text. Another source would be to just go rewatch the original episodes of star wars, and then check out Yoda, cuz Yoda was a Taoist.
That's a lot more accessible than this ancient esoteric text, like the Tao Te Ching but if anyone, and I'm not kidding, if anyone wants to like, learn about Taoism it's like Yoda was a, Taoist everything living out in the hut, nature and stuff. And the advice he gave Luke, like that comes straight outta Taoism.
[00:23:24] Matt: that is perfect. Yeah. I get to tell everybody to go watch Star Wars again. Exactly. It's perfect. That's absolutely beautiful. I'm gonna check those books out too, cuz I am fascinated and I did read Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kun Do. Oh cool. Which was a great book, but that was more about fighting still.
[00:23:41] Nate: Tao was a rich, traditional martial arts, yeah. I love it though. Bruce Lee be like water. My. That's true. And that's, that is, that's a heavily, he was heavily influenced by Taoism too.
[00:23:52] Matt: . So Nate, where would we find you if we were if we were looking for you
[00:23:57] Nate: best way is the website, thestandingmeditation.com
and that right now, that actually goes right to the books page on Amazon. Okay. And I think that is the best way. I do have a website, naterifkin.com where I post like blog posts and updates. But if I were. If I were to say what is the absolute, best use of someone's time and how they can transform their lives the most?
I would say just grab the book.
[00:24:22] Matt: Okay. And for book sales, do you prefer Amazon?
[00:24:24] Nate: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:24:26] Matt: Okay. All right. So I've got one more question for you that you partially answered but let's start there. If you had 43 seconds and you had the entire world on the line and everybody could understand what you were saying, what would you tell them?
[00:24:41] Nate: I would say it's not about more information. It's about doing something that'll help you with transformation. Then I'd say place one hand on your belly, one hand on your chest and start breathing. And for the next 35 seconds, or however much time we have left, breathe like that. And then make a commitment to do that every day at a certain time in your day.
That's what I'd say.
I'm just gonna say it right now. So this week. Do exactly that exercise. Put your left hand on your belly, your right hand on your chest.
[00:25:18] Matt: Thanks a lot, Nate. I really appreciate having you on the show and I will call you after I read the book.
[00:25:25] Nate: Oh, thank you, Matt. I was honored to be here. Thank you so much.