The Critical Value of Equanimity

Jonathan Varkul is a facilitator, coach and advisor who helps senior leaders and leadership teams. His work integrates his senior-level business experience with his study of the science behind our thought patterns and his 25-year mindfulness practice. He helps clients fish what’s relevant out of their ocean of highly complex situations so they can find clear next steps and make practical progress.

In this way, Jonathan helps leaders access their deeper wisdom with greater ease to address some of their toughest challenges.

Today we’ll hear Jonathan share a story that served as one of his pivotal learnings around the critical value of equanimity.

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Show Notes

 

Transcript 

Jalen 

And so, equanimity is something that is super valuable to deal with these things that come up, right? 

Jonathan 

One hundred percent, like, I I haven't felt found anything more useful in many ways at a fundamental level than equanimity, and maybe it's just because of the journey I've been on and the things I've been trying to do. In my life. And the work I do and so very much it it that might be the case. I mean, if I was a, if I was a DJ at a nightclub, I might not necessarily value equanimity in quite the same way and that would be a really good thing because you want to be up and down and in and out and bouncing around. So, you know, I don't think it's something that's all things, all people, all the time, but it has certainly, it's certainly been something that's helped me with realizing its utility in the world for sure. 

Jalen 

And as I recall, you have a pretty vivid story that acts like a marker for how important that was. And I'm wondering if you're willing to share that. 

Jonathan 

With me now you always have those moments in your life where you just. You always draw drawn. No matter where you are in the future, there always are things that inform you in terms of that you you can't forget it. You know back in. 2010. I'd been kind of doing this work of coaching and facilitating for about. About eight months at the. So it's very, very new. And it wasn't that I couldn't do what I was doing. I kind of had a career where it was something that I felt I could do and that's why I went out on my own. I was very new to to the process of building a business on my own where that was the thing that I was going to be doing, which is really helping people figure things out. At the time, I think the name of my business was clarity, guidance, results. So the whole objective was to help people get clear. And I remember first of all. Very much pre COVID very many years pre COVID so zoom as much as I knew what zoom was and used it for certain things. Most of my clients I drove to their locations so I would drive. Around the Greater Toronto area because I'm based in Toronto and I drive to a client and spend some time with them and then I'd get in my car and drive to the. Next client and and quite weird to think about it today because I kind of spend my time on zoom a lot of the time, but remember driving up to my first client of that day was it was a woman, she was an executive with an organization. In the West End of Toronto and we met and it was. I think it was the second time I was meeting with. Her and I remember it had a great meditation. That morning I was feeling really relaxed. There wasn't anything that had thrown me off. And so from an equanimity perspective, I was coming into the whole experience quite chilled with no real agenda and very happy to be open and engaged. And we had a great session, we. We connected, I was, and she had lots of time to process whatever it is she was struggling with. And at the end of the session she turned. To me, and she said. To me, wow, you are amazing. That was the best experience I've ever had of trying to figure something out. You are genuinely the most amazing thing ever. And I mean. 

Jalen 

Ohh damn. 

Jonathan 

Yeah, right now The thing is, is there's a couple of things on that. One, first of all, I have been coming into that and still today. I mean, there's a fair there's a very strong patterning for myself and a very deeply insecure person in terms of wow, that's a nice stroke. That'll really make me feel really good. And and unfortunately, because I'm insecure, that was like I don't know it was like. 

Jalen 

It's a jet fuel for your ego. 

Speaker 

It was like. 

Jonathan 

Jet fuel for my ego. I don't know. It was like almost an explosion of just like absolute euphoria. It's the only way I could describe it is literally euphoria is the word that best describes the feeling that came over me at the. 

Jalen 

Who doesn't like being told? They're awesome, you know? 

Jonathan 

Who doesn't like being told they're awesome and like that kind of awesome was just ridiculous. It was almost I couldn't have scripted someone telling me something in a way that would hit home in quite that way. It was just literally instantly. Yeah, and wasn't quite ready for it. And the feeling was just incredible. And I wasn't prepared, didn't have the experience of being able to quite handle that and left getting in my car literally high on those words high on myself. How in the world drove high as a kite in that way to my next client. And I remember the feeling. It was just literally I couldn't come down. I it was just this feeling of constant feeling, so fabulous, so high. And I remember just. The thoughts going through my head of, oh, I've chosen the right field and I am amazing and I'm so glad I finally found what I'm brilliant at and I'm good at and it's so good to do this work. But what was taking over was the sense of, like, I'm really that good. Truth is, you're not that good. No one's that good. And and I showed up at my next client, who happened to be in downtown Toronto. And it was this guy and he was in the middle of something that he was grappling with that was really affecting him. He was really down, so he was coming from a very different place from where I was coming from. I was high as a kite and this guy happened to be really down and what he was really looking for was for someone to help him figure out. How to navigate the pieces of a world where he was really up against it, struggling. He felt like like literally he was under this burdened experience of the world. And as he started to share. His his challenge. I couldn't help myself. It just felt like I just couldn't help myself, involving myself in. Telling him how he needed to see things, what he was missing, trying to offer him from my perspective, what I thought was the way he needed to be in order to figure out what was missing in his life. In a sense, completely not doing. Whatever I had actually set out to do in the 1st place with the work I was doing, there was no clarity coming from me. There was no equanimity. There was no there was no sense of spaciousness or ability to meet him wherever he was, and I could feel within about, first of all, the first thing had happened was I could feel this. Lot of resistance that was coming from him because I wasn't really meeting him where he was. And so the feedback that I kept getting was no, that's not it. No, that's not it. Actually, there's more here. You're missing that. That's not quite what I was saying. That kind of almost was became a bit of a death by 1000 cuts experience of of being in a conversation where slowly but surely, this wonderful balloon that was floating away into the ether suddenly was kind of punctured by these million little pixel cuts of that's not it. You're not getting it. I'm really not feeling it and all of a sudden the feelings I could feel come over me were more like. I started to go from this feeling of euphoria and I've got it to this feeling of panic. I could feel my my neck start to feel flush, my face start to feel a little bit red. I felt I could start to feel myself sweating a whole lot and I really started to feel like I was scrambling to try and get back to that place where I'd been earlier in the day. And and nothing I did. Could kinda get me there. Like everything I did was this almost scrambling to get back to that place I was, and there wasn't this ability to fully just settle in and meet the moment as it really was. And by the end of the session, I felt the only word I could describe was really just, like, mortified. Just felt absolutely. Like I was. The worst coach ever, the worst person to to give people guidance on how to find clarity, almost from going from be feeling like the best to feeling like the absolute worst. And turns out big picture long term, you know, it turns out we ended up having a great relationship over many years, but at that time the feeling was terrible and he certainly didn't get anything out of it. And I left the session beyond despondent. I mean, I left it like. Pictures walking with your tail between your legs in a way back to my car to drive back. 

Jalen 

That's quite the height to. Fall from right? 

Jonathan 

Yeah. So. 

Jalen 

You're crushed. 

Jonathan 

Really, totally crushed. And I think that crushing was a useful one early on because it's been a very clear signal to me that. Equanimity is more than just trying to find your way back to a place where you're struggling, where you're agitated, you're tense, you're unhappy, you're discomforted, it's it's about moderate modulating yourself in all respects, whether it's pleasure or discomfort. And and that taught me the piece about euphoria and how dangerous it can actually be to start to drink the kool-aid of our own the of our own ********, basically. 

Jalen 

Well, if you're going to get that high, you don't want to be driving heavy equipment or dealing with clients. 

Jonathan 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, 100 percent, 100% so. So I found that that experience really informative and what it did was, first of all, incredibly humble. But what it did was it really showed me the the value of first of all preparation. So before each of my sessions, what's in what's important from a biological standpoint? So I became much more attuned to recognizing the symptoms of any form of absence of equanimity at a biological level, not a cerebral level. You know, feeling for symptoms of agitation, constriction, tension, euphoria. Being able to come back to being in my body as as a first step towards engaging with someone so that where I'm coming from is much more cohesive. It's it's grounded, it's here, it's settled and. And that's was just super helpful in in helping me Orient. And moving forward. 

Jalen 

Well, I mean your background, you talk about your meditator and your, your discipline is in the area of trying to be really present and with yourself and for other people. Now for those people who may not have the similar background, can we breakdown like what kinds of steps that one can take to move in this direction or practices? That are useful. 

Jonathan 

Yeah, I'd say as a first step, I'd say somatic awareness or awareness of your body is a very important piece. Now often I have a a program that I I run with a partner of mine, Dave Kirkconnell. It's called the real path project and in that we help senior executives. Expand their thinking and. Pressure and one of the things that happens when we're under pressure is that people tend to disconnect from their bodies and they get caught up in their heads. Like you were saying at the beginning of this podcast around the overthinking piece and so people disconnect from the embodied experience and focus on the thinking experience. And so I'd say from the first step. Piece is to put attention on one's body, and if I've ever asked people, could you just think about a problem of yours? That's something that's time sensitive that you really have to solve by yourself. They'll start to. They'll start to worry a lot about the problem and if I say some, but what does it feel like in your body? Invariably, they won't be in touch with it necessarily until I actually have to ask them. So most of the time the thing that's most needed is to become more aware of our bodies in the context of whatever it is we're doing. Because it's a big chunk of of of us in the engagement with whatever we're engaging in and a lot of the time we think, well, the thoughts are what's most important and that's going to lead the way. So from a 123 step perspective, I'd say somatic awareness, the way to do that is to put attention on on your extremities rather than any other part. So put attention that's in your dominant hand. Your right hand, your left hand, whatever is dominant, and just put attention on it and start to just be aware of it. It's almost like you're anchoring in the sensation of that dominant hand, and you could extend that out to the soles of your feet. So now you've got this attention that before we're scattered, you put it onto, for example, just your hand and just your feet, and you can hold your attention there while doing everything else. It's not like. You're going to get in the way of your frontal lobe from thinking because you're using your parietal lobe to govern sensation, but it does give you a starting anchoring point to to. To address things moving forward as a practice. 

Jalen 

So it's almost like what I think of is, if I imagine that I my. Hand is hurt like I've I've just. Got a cut on my hand. If I do that then my when I do that my tension is very much on my hand. And it might be around my my thoughts might be like, Oh my God, this is hurt. This is hurting this is hurting and and I've noticed, you know, partly through meditation. I can just put my put a lot of attention on it. And then it's and then I'm just noticing all the sensation in the hand. But what makes it really easy is that there's pain there. Right. 

Jonathan 

So you just said something that was very important, so important, as you said, when I imagine I've got a cut on my hand. So putting attention on the sensation of one's hand or feet is not an imagining exercise, so it's not like sitting with your eyes closed and imagining lights or imagining something moving through your body. You're actually directly putting attention on the sensation of your. And so that's very different. The problem for most people is at the start of that, they don't have a reference point for well, am I doing it right? What should the sensation be? What should it feel like? Should it feel hot? Should it feel cold? Should what is it that I'm supposed to be experiencing and the truth is? Whatever the sensation is is what you're supposed to be experiencing, so it's a it's a putting attention on sensation without. So it's a it's a focusing of just to see what's there, but activating the part of our brain, literally, you're firing neurons in a very different part of the brain because the part that governs sensation is not the thinking part of the brain, it's actually the parietal lobe. And so to fire the neurons there, one has to start putting attention on what one experiences a sensation and maybe. We don't really use that lobe a lot. I mean, it's operating in the background of our experience. So if I pick up this pen, for example, while I'm writing. It knows enough to know how to hold the pen, so it feels sensations always felt in the background of our. Experience, but it's not something that's often felt in the foreground, where we consciously say, what's the experience of the sensation of my hand while it's not resting on anything, or if it's resting on my lap, for example, and just what's? What's that like? Without analyzing it just to put attention there, without any kind of expectation or need for it to be a particular way. What that's doing is it's anchoring us and being present to the moment because we're not thinking. So thinking is what conjures up the experience of past, present and future. But the parietal lobe sensation itself is inherently present. It's not. It's not. It's not chopping up the experience into some kind of abstracted past or future. So what it does is when we put our attention on sensation, it allows us to settle into the moment and then our brain can expand and our thinking can address whatever happens to actually be here. So for example, if let's say we take it back to that experience. I had when I was coming in hot. As they say, really hot and I was aware of my body. What I could have done is on the drive over I could have put attention on the sensation of my hands and feet. Now what that would have done was it would have redirected thought. That I was processing about how brilliant I was, how great I was. That was almost like a a hip movement to a hula hoop. It was keeping the whole thing going and so I could have circumvented the process, not immediately in terms of come down completely, but what I would have done was redirect that. And so I would have then been focusing on sensation and because I wasn't feeling it by the time I got to where I was going, my whole system would have been a lot more settled. It's the same with. If you're really down and depressed, the The thing is, is it's being fueled by a lot of subconscious thoughts. We're not even. Aware of half the stuff we're thinking. And so if we redirect our attention to just the sensation of our hands and our feet, what it does is it brings us to a more even keel, settled stasis. Open hearted, simple, plain OK. Engagement with the present. And then we just meet whatever is there and it doesn't mean it's pleasant. Doesn't mean we're going to be happy, but it it renders us capable and and effective to appropriately deal with whatever it is we're dealing with in that moment. 

Jalen 

I know that different people find their access points in different ways. And I'm wondering if if you've come across additional? Activities or pastimes or ways in which? People have made their way towards getting access to this sensation and therefore equanimity. 

Jonathan 

So yeah, so that's a, that's a great question actually. So what I've found is that there's actually probably infinite ways to do. It, and typically what's preventing someone from doing it is what are they clinging to in that moment that that is? Is preventing them from actually seeing what's really here and what I found is that when I'm with another person. I can't figure that out. I have to bring equanimity into the space and in my engaging with them what arises out of that is the very thing that's apparent to them. Ohh if I just think of it this way so it's not me telling them that they see ohh if I just think of it this way. So now if I sit in an abstracted conversation like this, oh, by the way, people. If you just think of your work like this. That's not going to be helpful because it may not be anything that people are clinging to in that moment. So what I would say is it might be interesting is if one could tell the truth to the best of your ability because a lot of this clinging stuff is subconscious. It's deep rooted, but if you could tell the truth as to in this moment, what is it that you're kind of holding on to? Is it an idea of where you think you should? He is it an idea of how bad the day's going? Is it a? Is it a thought about how you're never going to be successful? What is that thing that you're kind of at some level clinging to? Or is it the deepest clinging that you've got is, you know, I really don't matter or not? OK. And I'm never going to be safe. What is that thing that you cling to? And then check it out in the context of this particular moment. Does it apply in this moment? Because even if you tell yourself you're the greatest loser on the face of the earth, why are you sitting here? Is it true in this particular moment, as you're sitting here relative to what's actually going on? And if one can be truthful and one can look at where one's clinging, one can actually unpack 1 little sliver of how one in this particular situation might be disconnected from the reality of what's actually going on. And it gives one. It's like a little bit of a crack. The door opens just a crack, enough to see something and gives you a way to to to move through into a different way of relating. And at that point, then things might be able to open up a little more for you in the in whatever it is you're struggling with. 

Jalen 

So I wonder when someone is clinging desperately to something, are they always aware of it? 

Jonathan 

Almost never. 

Jalen 

Or it is? Right. So is it possible that you can cling? You can be? Clinging so much. That it's you can be completely blind to what? You're clinging to. 

Jonathan 

And actually, more than possible, it's highly likely. And so why? What the starting point is? That's why people know there's a there's a wonderful expression that I heard many years ago, was pleasure puts you to sleep and pain pain wakes you up now. Not to say we should go around stabbing ourselves, but what it does say is that when we're having a pleasant dream. We're going to be kind of looking to kind of come. Part of it. And but when things are unpleasant, we're more likely to want to be woken up or or change course. And so when we're struggling with something that's typically the time when we're more receptive to to see, to looking a little deeper to noticing things that we wouldn't have noticed before because typically. If things are going great, then we will keep going with the things that are going great and we don't really, we don't really notice them so. It's it's, it's not. I'm not sure what to say to someone who, let's say, is looking to make a change in their life, but their life is going really well and it isn't affecting them in a way where they're actually feeling pain. With that, in other words, it's not like to do it, but if you'd like to do it and it's not really a thing that really matters. Unlikely that. The you'll be able to bring the forces to bear to to really face whatever needs to be face to make the shift, to take the change to to to get where you really want to go in that particular situation. But if you really are looking to make a particular move in a direction, if you're like looking to address a particular problem and it. Is affecting you in some way. There's a bit. Of a pain to it, then that's the. Starting point it's like. Ohh OK, don't deny the struggle of the moment or the disaffection with whatever it is you're grappling with. Use that as the basis for now that there's a dis. Direction and I'm grappling. It must be at some level because I'm clinging to something, don't know what it is, so let me stop for a moment and see. Most of the time, we wouldn't stop for a moment and see because we're too busy trying to get on with whatever it is we're trying to get on with and we barrel down the path of whatever pattern we have in momentum. We've got trying to achieve the thing we're trying to achieve. It's very difficult to slow down because then we start to feel a little bit more. So I would say. To move in the direction of discomfort at a very, very slow kind of just inch away there to the edge of where it's like, that comfort zone, place of whatever it is that you're trying to figure out being at the edge of that zone and settling in there is probably the most optimal thing. Anyone can ever. Do because what you're really doing is you're helping yourself. You're helping yourself expand beyond where you would normally expand to, and that's the piece that we're looking for. 

Jalen 

You know, I've heard the phrase. You know the the the obstacle is the. Path but it from the way you. Describe it. It's more like. The pain is the marker. Or is the indicator of where you should look. 

Jonathan 

The pain is the indicator of where. The obstacle is. Right. And so yes, the obstacle is the path. Well, how do I know what the obstacle is? Well, look where the pain is. And so, and if the pain is in your heart, then realize what are you clinging to? Well, my sense that I'm not really good enough. I'll never be able to make it or my kid doesn't love me or my whatever that thing is that's going on. Is there there it is now before 1 figures out what to do about it. Take a moment and settle into acknowledging wow. First of all, there's good news there. We've just found some. Something that's an obstacle and that's the direction that I need to take to. To move in. But this isn't easy stuff, which is why it's a game of inches. You're not trying to kind of build Rome in a day. It's equanimity is something that one builds from building a capacity to be with things that are uncomfortable. And what's really interesting is you'd say, well then, Jonathan, what's the euphoria got to do with it? Well, the reality is, is coming down from euphoria is uncomfortable. There's a resistance to doing it, so coming down from euphoria, bringing myself up, those are all things that are uncomfortable for us. And we don't want to do them. We resist them. And so to cultivate an equanimity, to be able to see what's really here. One has to be willing to tell the truth about what's uncomfortable right now and face our own insecurities and vulnerabilities for ourselves. We have to tell the world there's no need to, you know, blast it over. But you can absolutely, but you can tell yourself absolutely. 

Jalen 

More podcast for that matter. 

Jonathan 

You can tell yourself. And so it always starts with ourselves and it's a practice of just cultivating moment to moment awareness around our relationship with the world. 

Jalen 

So I mean, because of my own experience with my own challenges. I delve into meditation and mindfulness some time ago. So and so, a lot of this is making a great deal. Of sense to me. And I would imagine anyone who has has had an experience with pain and mindfulness as a remedy or a path. Do you imagine that it's possible to really get any ground without meds? Without mindfulness. 

Jonathan 

Any any ground without meditation and mindfulness. Well, in my case, meditation and mindfulness is a somatic physical body practice of bringing attention to my body. I don't know. I mean, without becoming aware of one's biology. In the equation of what's going on, hard to say how you could get the signals to know when you're uncomfortable with something that may not be real. And so one would have to develop some kind of radar and practice to be able to to do that. And I haven't seen one that could work as effectively as a day-to-day way of raising one's awareness of 1's. Physical body. You know the problem is is our thoughts have a way of telling us something about the world and they're hypnotic and most of the time or very, very. And they're the product of an unconscious biology that's kind of run amok when a pattern. And so the only way, if we really want to consciously. Elevate or figure out a way through something we have to include the our physical being in the process. It's not to say that thoughts not relevant in fact thoughts are amazing because when what, when it is stacked on a settled biology thought is beyond powerful. But when it is, when it is the foundation. Or whether when it's stacked on a disconnected, unconscious biology where there's a pattern driving it, it's almost literally beholden to whatever that pattern is. And so it doesn't serve us very well. So we're we have the ability to use a very powerful tool like our. But but the tool needs assistance and and a container to kind of guide and hold it. And that's the body. And my only experience has been that some practice steady practice on a daily basis that cultivates our relationship with that is important, whether you call it meditation or something else. I don't know what that could be, but some people say well, I just go for long walks. It's maybe that's what it is, but it's it's coming back to just being without the thinking, with focusing on one's one system and and body. That's most important. So maybe a walk in nature might be might be good enough. 

Jalen 

So it sounds like it having a regular practice daily if possible of developing the muscles. That are that allow. You to notice allow you to not get caught up in things, correct. It's super unusual. 

Jonathan 

And then at the end of the day, the neuroscience is it is clear that the more you fire neurons in a particular area of the brain, the more those neurons wire together and then show up and. And so if we don't have a steady practice of firing neurons in a particular way, it's not fair for us to expect ourselves to be able. To become to use those neurons to be aware of anything. And so the process is to to be firing neurons in a way that enhances our awareness and without doing that. Not so easy. 

Jalen 

I've had use something like a Muse headband which is, you know, tech that assists you with developing the skill and developing the practice. Have you come across any handy aids to develop a practice? 

Jonathan 

So the one thing that I've found is for. All of these things are great and they they're amazing as entry to get in to build a momentum, but it's like anything else, there's a point, let's say, for example, I used to play a lot of tennis and the starting point you get in and you, you get a coach and you get all these. Pieces of a puzzle that's helping you become aware of something better at something. And then there's a process where you have to practice it now in the practice, there's a moment to to shift is. There's a moment where and this could be. If you're a. A piano player. If you're a football player, a tennis player doesn't really matter. There's a certain moment when. There, whatever it is that you're, there's a. You're blocked in your craft. You're blocked in, in, in whatever it is you're doing, so everything can take you to a point, but it can take you all the way. And what I've found is there's a point where we're going to kind of just go. Well, that's OK. I'll keep meditating. But it doesn't. I can see it's not really helping my game anymore. It's not the headband or whatever I'm using that got me there. Isn't the hasn't really isn't now yielding the effects, so it's good at 1st and then what happens? My sense is is the the willingness to be uncomfortable. Is the peace that really allows someone to keep going. That's what allows the tennis player to become better. It's what applies the piano player to keep practicing. It's what allows the football player to to throw again, even though you know at first what got him there was this thing that, oh, I love throwing a football or I love playing tennis or I love playing the. Piano, but that piece. Particular piece hmm. I can't play that piece. I won't do it. So no, the next step, life will throw our circumstances that no headband can really help with or no meditation practice that morning could help with and no matter how much I found. I've meditated at times when circumstances will. Will will overpower my ability to be equanimous if you will. So that's what we're talking about. And so the practice ultimately is one of contextualizing the the role of discomfort in the journey of becoming more effective over life. And that discomfort is a part of the game. And so, you know, a lot of people want to come to meditation because meditation is gonna make them feel more settled and calm and peaceful. And that's great. They say that's the kiss. And then at some point there's also a slap to wake you up. It's like that's great, but there's also this other part which is less uncomfortable. It's not fair all the time. It's not always fun and and and to be able to. To make peace with that reality, one has to be willing to be uncomfortable, and meditation is designed specifically over time to really help one contextualize that. So it's not about the ultimate meditation is not to get calm, it's to be able to. To make peace with things as they are right now, even though your body is uncomfortable and so I think we're having that context so that one can realize that while right now I'd love to be comfortable and calm. I'm actually really uncomfortable and there's not much I can do about it. And can I settle into the experience of just the discomfort I'm feeling and what happens there is then someone can open up to even more than what one was experiencing before. 

Jalen 

Well, you know, I. Like to ask this question of people I know if there's a way in which you can go back to a previous time, important time in your past and share some important wisdom or important idea. What would that be? And it's always with this idea of helping people try to avoid pain. And what we've been talking about here is like is the utility of pain being able to make use of pain to help grow and allow us to be more alive and more effective. 

Jonathan 

Settling into it, not fighting it, settling into it. It's it's if we want to. If we want to dance with life or dance with it all, then we have to invite it all in. We can't deny what's already here. If if something wants to play, then I've gotta play with it too. And pain is a legitimate part of life. No one's going to get. No one can navigate. Life and get through it pain free. Emotionally, mentally. Physically not possible, so being able to know how to meet it, engage with it and recognize it for what it is not, make it bigger than what it is, not put it away as if it means nothing will right size all the other things in our life as well. 

Jalen 

So it seems, I suppose, like that little nugget. Or that little Pearl that. I try to find for people in these episodes in this moment sounds to me to be trying to find a gift. In the pain in the problem. 

Jonathan 

Yeah, I I have. I would say that if I if someone said to me, Jonathan, what's the one thing that you would say to people is it cause there's very little that I know I could tell you. I don't know anything the the more I've spent time working with people around all their problems, the more I realize I don't know anything like that's the best part about it is is starting to realize I don't know anything. I can be more settled in helping them figure out. Join them in a process of going Oh my God, I don't know really what the hell is this? What the hell are we going? Here, so we don't know. But there's one thing that I feel like at this stage and maybe a year from now, I'll look back and go. I didn't know. That either, but what it feels like the one nugget that I've really been getting is if you want to really, genuinely solve a seemingly impossible problem, you must really be willing to 1st face the discomfort of the problem. And a lot of people aren't always in touch with the discomfort of the problem, which is what we're talking about. And so, equanimity is a valued tool in being able to meet this issue, challenge, life, whatever is going on in a way that allows us to be open to facing whatever discomfort. Is there? 

Jalen 

And the ability to have equanimity is something that comes with practice. 

Jonathan 

It comes with practice. Equanimity isn't about yeah, a little while ago I did a really cool meditation retreat. One of these 10 day Vipassana retreats. And the thing with that is is it's complete silence. There's no no one talks. No one makes eye contact. No one does anything, and so you're really on your own and the purpose is you got to like kind of work it out on your own. But the thing that's so fascinating about that is that. You don't get to look up and turn to someone else and commiserate with them in your respective stuff. You're going through, and so you have to face. You have to really you have to really face that very discomfort that that you're experiencing and what we have built in are ways for us to. We've built in these little alts ways for us to escape escape hatches, to escape the moment where we can either look on some YouTube video of someone who will. Or distract us for a moment, or legitimise why? What I'm dealing with isn't really legitimate or we've got friends we can talk to where we talk for hours about an issue, but I don't really get to face the discomfort of it in a in a real in a real settled open hearted, still honest to goodness vulnerable way, where yet to just be with something and just be uncomfortable. 

Jalen 

That sounds like a great. 

Jonathan 

Time and right. Yeah, well, insane. One of the coolest and most difficult things I've ever done. But it's. But it really is about. It's not making oneself uncomfortable. It's about being able to relax when discomfort starts to arise as opposed to follow the pattern, which is to escape it. And and. And that yields something that we normally wouldn't see, which is often a game changer if we're trying to solve something that appears impossible, because maybe the possibility is. Just being covered up by. By a pattern that doesn't really want to. To actually deal with whatever is really here. So the softening required and so you asked me a question the other day when we were we were chatting and you said, yeah, you know, I might ask you like, what is that, you know, what would you say to your previous self? You know, if you went back 20 years or 15 years or whatever it is, and I thought about that and and the only thing I would say to my previous self is trust. The process and know that you are OK just as you are right now. And really trust that. And if a future self had said to me you're absolutely OK right now and gave me almost permission. To not have to try so hard against whatever it is that's happening right now, I don't know if things would have turned out better in the context of getting progress sooner, but the experience would have been a lot. More lighter turbine lighter it would have. Been less than. 

Jalen 

That's so intensely uncomfortable. 

Jonathan 

Yeah, it would have been more open, more relaxed, more settled. More delighting in whatever is here. 

Jalen 

Maybe, yeah, maybe a shorter path to getting to clarity and resolution. 

Jonathan 

Yeah, yeah, it's possible. It's possible. Maybe, yeah. But we struggle with what we struggle with for good reason. It's it really helps. 

Jalen 

Well, that's our journey. 

Jonathan 

It really helps us figure things out. And so that's been mine and I got to tell you, there's been a fair bit of clinging to my own insecurities and desires and aversions and. And I have had to face them one step at a time. That story I told earlier was really just. Yeah, a big one. It really got me to see just how much I was clinging to the idea of needing to be good or needing to be important or needing. To be great when the truth is the joy of the work has nothing to do with that. It's got to do with just being in the mystery of it all and just hanging out with someone as we try to figure stuff out and then see what the heck happens. Who knows? And and that suddenly brings a certain, almost magical delight to the experience of being alive that you just can't. Quantify or get to any other way. 

Jalen 

Well, it has been a delight to explore this with you, Jonathan. And I'm sure that folks who are listening will have them appreciated the journey as well. So I wanna thank you. 

Jonathan 

Thanks jalen's. Been an absolute pleasure on my end too. 

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