Transcribe your podcast

From ABC, this is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. Hello. One item of business before we dive in here, people are sending more virtual gifts this holiday season to avoid putting themselves and essential delivery workers at risk. If you're one of those people, consider helping your loved ones train their own minds by giving them a subscription to the 10 percent happier app. We are offering gift subscriptions at a discount through the end of December. No shipping required.


Obviously, your gift will be delivered directly to your email inbox. So go get a gift subscription by visiting 10 percent dotcoms. A gift that's 10 percent. One word all spelled out. Dotcom gift.


OK, let's dive in, as I suspect all of you know, the notion of transmuting the difficult stuff in your life into something more positive has become a pretty serious cliche.


You know, turning lemons into lemonade is making your mess, your message, et cetera, et cetera. But as I have said many, many times on this show, there is a reason cliches become cliches because they're true.


And in my view and in my experience, it can be extraordinarily helpful when somebody can read language and revivify an ancient truth that has been ground into empty platitude through rote repetition. My guest today does just that.


His name is Fleet Mall and he spent many years in prison on serious drug related charges. He use that time to fuel a deep meditation practice and a public service career. He has now been practicing for nearly five decades in the Zen, Tibetan and Vipassana insight traditions. He's also written a book called Radical Responsibility. In this episode, we talk about how to, in his words, turn the gnarly stuff in your life into a gift or as an old Buddhist expression has it how to use your struggles, and I'm quoting here as Menuha for enlightenment.


On that note of manure for enlightenment. Midway through this interview, you're going to hear Fleet reveal in real time. And to my surprise, that he is actually in the throes of acute anguish at this very moment. And he'll talk about how this experience is fueling his practice in the conversation. We also talk about what he learned in prison, about whether human nature is fundamentally good, the value of adding breathing exercises onto your meditation practice and what he means by neuro somatic mindfulness.


Here we go with Fleet Mall. Slate Mollel, thanks for coming on. My pleasure, Dan, great to be here. So let's start I'm sure you're not surprised that I'm going to start here with your personal story, as I understand it, a big. Landmark in your personal and contemplative development was going to prison. Can you tell that story? Yeah, absolutely, I'll try to do it relatively briefly, so, yes, that was a really important time for me.


I spent 14 years in a federal prison. How did I get there? I was one of those baby boomers that came of age in the 60s, kind of classic angry young man, graduated from high school in 1968, completely disillusioned, alienated, justifiably or not, that's what was going on with me. Both families that a lot of do with the cultural stuff, all the assassinations and so forth. And I grew up in the Midwest, Roman Catholic upbringing, basically a good family.


But we had our issues, had some alcoholism and things like that. That was quite painful. Sixty eight was one of the most tumultuous years culturally in this country. I just went headlong into the counterculture, went off to a big state university, but really majored in drug sex and rock and roll and anti war politics and any other craziness I get involved in. But I had always been a spiritual seeker. In fact, my family always thought I was going to go into the priesthood early on or something like that.


So I'd always been a spiritual seeker and I continued that all along. And so I ended up eventually leaving the country. I just became so alienated in part to get away from the drug culture I was involved in and in part just Nixon was re-elected. I just wanted to get out. And I also was on the search for something authentic. I remember at a time in my childhood when I felt really plugged into reality, things were very vivid and real, even magical, and that had kind of just gone away at some point.


And that's probably a normal developmental process. But I never made peace with it. So I was always hungry for that, looking for that. And, you know, the drugs were some mirage of that, but obviously with a lot of baggage. And if you got a hole in your gut, an addictive propensities that can take you down a lot of twisted roads. So I did leave the country and started traveling as an expat throughout Latin America, and that was a very transformative time.


I spent a year living on a sailboat to 10 other guys on a small native boat that we learned how to sail and kind of an incredible life for a while and just living off the ocean literally, and and then sold the boat continued to South America. And I had some notion about getting to Peru and finding something magical there and had nothing to do with drugs. I don't know where I got the idea, but I did get there and did discover something quite magical there, just environmentally.


There was some kind of real magic in the environment. And unfortunately, the first time I came back to the States when I ran out of money, had to come back and work for a while. I couldn't bring the magic with me, so I realized it was still environmental. And anyway, this went on. And eventually down there the second time I fell into or made choices rather than engage in kind of small time cocaine smuggling. I originally just I was I had a connection and I would purchase something for people who were coming down and smugglers and I could make like a thousand dollars and live off that for six months down there.


So I continue like that for a while, eventually got involved smuggling myself to come back to the US. And that kind of path remained intertwined for a while before I could pull it apart. But when I came back for the US for was to go to European University, I'd been trying to practice on my own for a couple of years, high in the mountains in Peru and a little place that very remote valley up above the sacred valley of the Incas.


And I zeroed in on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, reading the few books that were available at that time. And and then when I someone actually showed up at my house there with a copy of Rolling Stone magazine in nineteen seventy four with an article about that first summer session, it was kind of legendary in Boulder at Naropa, then the Rope Institute, and when I saw his name, I just knew I had to go there. And so I did and went got my master's degree.


There was very intense, contemplative or clinical contemplative psychology program and that was very transformative in a process I became a student in. But I kept this other shadow part of my life, a secret for quite a while from my teacher and from everyone. I would disappear once or twice a year and I was able to live outside of system, continue to pursue my interests and so forth, and my marriage was falling apart. I kept those problems at bay with money.


And so I had all this cognitive dissonance. And when I was traveling with my teacher, which I was very fortunate to somehow develop that relationship and travel with him a lot as one of his primary attendants. And when I was on retreats and I spent about half the year on retreats and programs or traveling with him, and then I was leading a very sane life and now go to this completely crazy life and back and forth. And before I could tease that apart, I ended up earning my way into what originally looked like a thirty year no parole prison sentence.


So that became a whole nother chapter of my life. Just explain to folks, Naropa University, which began as an institute, was founded by chokin Trump a rimpoche, a sort of controversial Tibetan. Lama, who had his own wildness in his life, ultimately died in his late 40s from fears that he drank himself to death. So he's an enigma to me because he's simultaneously viewed as controversial and wild and outside the mainstream, but also quite highly attained as a meditator and a teacher.


So just by way of context for folks, that that was the world you're involved with, and nonetheless, you were adding a layer of chaos that probably went beyond the norm, even for that context.


So you spent 14 years in a federal prison and your practice deepened during that period of time? Absolutely.


Absolutely. Know, I had received so much from my teacher in that tradition. And yes, he is an enigma still to this day and considered by his peers to be one of the most realized teachers of his generation and yet controversial. I added a whole nother layer of myself, as you described. It had nothing to do with him or what teachings he was giving me, quite to the contrary. At any rate, I landed in this prison and it was a huge wake up call for me, especially because my son was nine years old at the time.


And when I was actually sentenced to 30 years no parole, I realized I was thirty five at the time. The paper the next day said I'd be sixty five years old before I had any chance of release. And so I thought my life as I'd known it was over. I'd pretty much torched my life and I realized what I'd done to my son, who was now going to grow up without a dad. And I was just absolutely devastated. I just completely hit a wall, went to a whole dark night of the soul kind of experience, and really had to face incredible, selfish decisions.


I've been making so long and a completely self deluded way, you know, thinking I love my son and that I was a relatively good father when in fact I was actually a horrible father and and making all kinds of selfish decision, disregarding his safety and security and future. And so I had to face all that. And that was excruciating. And I became radically dedicated to get all the negativity out of my life and to take everything I've been given and put it into practice.


And I wanted to give my son some better legacy than just his dad went to prison or even his dad died in prison because I had no surety that I'd survive. You know, I was originally set on this so-called kingpin statute. I to this day, I don't feel I was a kingpin. I don't have any Swiss bank accounts anywhere. But I was the one that wouldn't testify against anybody that wasn't about being a stand up guy. I was I was a Buddhist.


And the idea of exchanging somebody else's time, somebody else's family suffering instead of myself, I just couldn't do that. So I didn't cooperate. And so I became the kingpin and I did a lot of people's time. But when I got there, I realized that the only way through this for me and the only way out if I was going to get beyond this was to just embrace absolute radical responsibility for having got myself there. And what I was going to do with that, I was practicing like my hair was on fire.


Also realized that anything you know, there were a couple of moments I'll relate the night before I got since the moment, I'm very grateful for it. To this day, I was facing potential life in prison and it would have been life with no parole. And I couldn't sleep. They had me in a suicide watch observation, so I wasn't suicidal. But I was obviously very anxious and I couldn't sleep. And some time before dawn, I got up on this built-In toilet sink kind of contraption in the cell and there was a small window way up high.


So I stood up in that so I could actually peer out the window just desperate to see the night sky. And it was a clear night. I could see the stars and something moved me and I got back down and sat on the side of the bed. Some wave came over me and I just became committed. I didn't I don't know if I made a decision or it just came up in me to not give up on myself, to not give up on life, to not give up on my son, no matter what happened the next day.


So the next day I was sentenced to 30 years, no parole. Then I arrived at this federal prison. Well, when I got there and started walking around, I'll never forget this. It was almost like something out of a Fellini movie. It was I was seeing men, you know, paraplegic and quadriplegic being wheeled around in wheelchairs. I was seeing men who are blind being helped walking down. I was seeing men doing the Thorazine or how it all to stop, you know, and overmedicated.


And I was just seeing such suffering and people emaciated with cancer, liver disease, AIDS. And it just shook me out of, you know, as you can imagine, I arrived there really preoccupied with the drama of my own situation and just having been sentenced to 30 years with no parole. And so seeing all this suffering just shocked me out of that. And I just realized I was there to serve. And I had the specter of my teacher to who really, in my experience, just served humanity.


Twenty four, seven. And and so I just tried figuring out how can I contribute? I got a job teaching school. I did. That was my day job for 14 years. And I also began to see very quickly that the environment I was in was one of tremendous negativity. It was kind of a ritual with you'd meet somebody and you'd go walk the track and they'd tell you their victim's story. You know, their lawyer screwed them over their fall partner, this or that.


And then you'd share your story. And after I did that once or twice, I certainly didn't want to hear my story anymore. And I didn't really want to hear their stories, which probably was the. Very compassionate, but I just didn't want to go there and be there and I realized that if I wasn't really proactive, I would come out of prison negative, bitter, angry, and I certainly didn't want to come out of prison that way.


So, again, that's why I made this commitment to embrace one hundred percent radical responsibility for what I was going to do with that experience in their. So how did it turn out? You said you practice like your hair was on fire. Could you find it reasonably quiet place to practice in prison? And you say you dedicated yourself to compassion.


What did that look like initially in many prisons? You're not really in regular the cells like you see in movies, although they had some of those there. You're in these big dormitories. Originally, I was going to call a twenty four man dorm. So 12 bunk beds, right. Just absolute chaos at night. You tie up on a top bunk, you get seniority by basically staying out of trouble and the transition people leaving and coming. Eventually you move your way to a bottom bunk wife date in the top bunk, but arrange with the CEO on the floor the guard to retain my seniority because sitting on the top bunk, I could meditate late at night on try to sit in the bottom bunk.


There wasn't head clearance and I could sit up there after lights out. People kind of wouldn't notice me. So that was one way I practice. And eventually I came up with this idea at the entrance to these dorms that these trash closets where all the trash buckets and the mops and brooms and everything were. So I would go in and clean it up and set some brooms and step outside in case people wanted it. And I take a metal folding chair and I go in there and practice.


And that became my practice room. And I practiced every day for a couple hours on weekends. Sometimes I'd be practicing for five hours. I went to twenty four man dorm to eighteen man to twelve man and so forth. I finally got a single cell. There are just a few single cells on that floor. This was a floor originally designed for fifty patients, but now it was the general population floor. No. One hundred eighty five guys living on the floor just crammed into every nook and cranny.


And so there were only a few single rooms and it was just because they were too small to double up. I eventually got one of those who seniority and then I was able to start doing the new normal practices in a Tibetan Buddhist tradition in the prostrations which I had never completed. So I was getting up at four in the morning and doing that. And then at night I would study until lights out and then I would practice hours into the nighttime.


I was only sleeping for five hours, for many years, for probably seven, eight years. And I said I couldn't possibly do that. Now I had to force myself to get up, but somehow thrive with that little sleep. So I was really intensively practicing and I also knew anything I was going to be able to do or create in that institution was going to come out of my practice. And so I just trusted that, that if I really focused on my practice, some good things would come out and fairly soon got a meditation group started in the prison chapel once a week.


Eventually we had twice a week. I was very involved in 12 step work and became a leader in that work. For the whole time I was there, I was involved with the Native American sweat off and on, and I was teaching. School was my day job teaching school. And that was a tremendous learning because amongst your fellow prisoners, you know, you really have to be really careful because, you know, you don't have locks on your doors.


And the smalls guy in a place when you're sleeping can put a lock on a sock and you're dead. And so I'm trying to teach these guys who, for many of whom school is a nightmare and they're angry about, they're forced to go to school. If they don't go to school, they put them in a whole administrative segregation. They bring them back. They're even angrier and try to figure out how to get in relationship with these guys, because I wanted to teach most of the teachers would just go sit in a corner and, you know, just try to stay safe.


But I didn't want to do that. And, you know, I learned the hard way. I had four or five situations blow up on me. Fortunately, I survived, but I really learned a lot of skills about how to get in relationship with people. This was nineteen eighty five. When I arrived there, the AIDS epidemic was going into full swing and so I began getting very concerned. They start bringing all the AIDS patients from all the federal penitentiaries.


This was a maximum security federal prison hospital. So the patients were all from the federal penitentiaries, the places like Leavenworth and Lompoc and Atlanta and Lewisburg and so forth. And they were bringing all the patients from all those penitentiaries. And initially they had them locked up back in the psychiatric ward and isolated for their own protection because it was such fear, an inmate population, they hadn't done any education around AIDS. I started researching how I could support them because I was also involved in a service club.


And one of the things we did, we took movies to show up in the hospital wards and they wouldn't let me stay back in that age ward, but I would take it back there and pass it through the gate. And probably some of my old smuggler habits, I would fix some magazines and other stuff in under the camera for them. And I got in relationship with them very concerned about their plight. And I started reaching out to outside organizations.


And I eventually got with another inmate who was shot during his arrest. He was paralyzed from the waist down and wheeling around a wheelchair guy, a big martial arts with huge arms, very funny guy. And he had befriended an AIDS patients and a cancer patient on his ward and was just kind of accompanying them as they went through their dying process. And he and I met and we got inspired to start a hospice program. And through a lot of effort and a lot of proposals and eventually a change in leadership, we eventually got permission to start the first hospice program anywhere in the world inside of prison.


So that became a huge part of my life for the final 11 years of my time there.


It's amazing story, just to clarify a couple of terms you used in there, just for folks who might not know what you're referring to when you talk about inmates being thrown into a hole or administrative segregation, if they didn't go to class, that's solitary confinement, solitary confinement, just like the jail within the jail.


Yeah, and then nondrug practice, which you referenced, which is Tibetan practice, where you do prostrations, you sort of hurl yourself down on the ground and prostrate yourself and the ninja practice. It's a preliminary practice in some Tibetan schools and it's a hundred thousand prostrations. So I just wanted to unpack that a little bit for folks who are listening.


It's a preliminary practice for entering into Vajrayana Buddhism, but there are many Buddhist traditions which people do Boeing practice, and it's connected with the basic decision of becoming a Buddhist, which is to take refuge in the buddhadharma and songa. So you're taking refuge as you do your prostrations? Mm hmm. And that's just the first one. And then there's one hundred thousand of another hundred thousand of another. And that's the fourth one is a million. So you can take a while.


I can imagine.


One last question about your personal story. I can't help but ask as somebody who is also the father of a boy minus five years was nine when you went in my by my math, he would have been twenty three or something like that. When you got out, how was and is that relationship.


Yeah. Well, you know, I did my best to stay in touch with Robert while I was into correspondence and my he moved back to Peru. His mom was from Peru. And so actually when I got locked up, I asked my family to help them get back to Peru. So they went back to Peru because the government was trying to put pressure on my wife and so forth. So they went back to Peru. But fortunately, every other year, my family brought my son up for some time doing what was his summer here in the States.


With the Christmas holidays, he would stay with my brother and Saint Louis, who had three sons, one the same age as my son, and go to school with them a little bit when school was in and and they'd bring him down to see me on weekends. So I was able to see him. But every year that way and one year the community I was part of the small community, people pooled some funds and brought him up and actually took him up in Nova Scotia to a meditation program for young people.


And then he was also able to come see me. So I was able to stay in touch with him that way, but still very, very, very limited. He moved back to the states about two years before I got out and was really struggling in Boulder where he'd grown up and part with me, really struggling, then came back, eventually ended up where I was in Springfield, Missouri, where the federal prison was, and staying with my sponsor for a while, still struggling.


So I kind of went on. Eventually, I got out. We're both in Boulder. And so kind of a long, twisted road, very close relationship. He really struggled getting his life together, fortunately stayed out of trouble. But a lot of struggles, as you might imagine, have your dad grow up in prison and is a beautiful, talented person. He became a chef. He's worked in the restaurant industry most of his life as a sommelier, chef, executive, chef and so forth.


But very sadly, we lost Robert. Just in September. He had improved in two thousand and eight, he was down there and got beaten nearly to death, I think he was put in the wrong place at the wrong time in Cusco, Peru, at night in a discotheque and walked in on something. And it took quite a while for him to recover. Actually, I had to go down and practically smuggle him out of the country and couldn't find care.


Frontal lobe head injury where he really recovered was the ashram of a friend of mine up in Montana, and they hung in there with him. And my then partner Dennis was dying of cancer. So she's on hospice. My son's completely out of control. Crazy. It was a very rough time. Fortunately, he recovered, but then a number of years later, he started having seizures because of the scar tissue. And so he struggled with that off and on.


But, you know, continued he'd move back to Peru about two years ago because he thought it would be less stressful because even with the medication, when he gets stressed or doesn't sleep while he still can have seizures, he'll wake up early in the morning with a seizure. And as far as we know, he had a seizure early one morning and his mother lived nearby, came to look for him around 10 a.m. and he was already gone. So we don't know really what happened, but we think it must have been related to a seizure.


So it's been a heartbreaking time for his mom and I. I'm really sorry to hear that. I wonder. After all these decades of intensive meditation practice. Was your practice useful in bearing what is the worst pain I can imagine? Absolutely, you know, I remember the moment his mom called me, I mean, she was there trying to figure out whether he was alive or not. She got me on the phone. So it was very intense.


And once we realized she was gone, I remember dropping the phone and just wailing. And the first week to two weeks was just excruciating pain. Actually, that first day I was out doing all kinds of breath regulation. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I could barely breathe. It was very rough the first couple of weeks, but I made a commitment when my partner Deniece died who I was incredibly close and bonded to. She was also a very advanced student in our tradition and an amazing practitioner and teacher.


And her journey with cancer was three years and she was able to complete her life in a beautiful way, including how she died in the moment of death and all the rest of it. But once she was gone, I was just a mess. I feel like I just kind of really let it take me down. I didn't want to avoid the grief. I wanted to just let it move through me. I didn't want to avoid it in any way because I've studied a lot in all my years with hospice trading, a lot about grief and bereavement.


But I think I didn't really practice with it enough. And I just let it take me down in ways that I don't think we're necessarily all that helpful. And it took me quite a while to recover. And so with the loss of Robert, I'm still completely open to going through the grief. And that's going to be, I'm sure, a long time winding river of a journey. But I also committed to not let others take me down. I'm really going to practice with it.


So I've been practicing really. And I always I mean, I practice I'm a strong practitioner anyway on a daily basis with my partner. And and I get up and do a long practice session every morning together. But I even up the ante without really practicing intentionally. And also in our tradition, we believe the transition from one life to the next is very important to support people. So I was doing intensive practices for Robert and doing guidance for him and so forth.


So I just made that my focus for the first forty nine days, which is the traditional time I actually found myself over the weeks coming to a state of peace and a state of clarity that Robert's OK and continuing with a journey. And I mean, that's a subjective feeling. But also, even though, you know, there's a deep pain and a loss there, and I'm sure that will still come up in very painful ways. But there is a real sense of peace and calm in the midst of it all, and I can only attribute that to practice.


So it has been a very different experience at the time. And at times, you know, you don't know how to feel. Yeah, I remember I had experiences in prison where because I was practicing so much and doing deep inner yogic practices and I started having this experience. I remember the first time it happened sometimes the pain of being separated from my son and him growing up without me and me not being part of his life, that pain would hit me and I would just be so excruciating.


I feel like I was going to die in a spot like this, blinding white light of excruciating pain. And I remember being in my cell and and all being a boy, just wanting to smash my head on the concrete wall of the cell. And I would sit with that. And it was like my practice kicking in or something. And it was like the space just started to emerge around the pain and became bigger and bigger and the pain dissolved into the space.


And then I was in the state of bliss. And the first time it happened, it was incredibly unsettling because, you know, a moment ago I'm in agony because I'm not with my son. And that makes sense. I feel like a human being. And the next moment I'm in bliss and it feels like I'm an alien or something. So it was very unsettling until I began to understand what was going on. So even now, you know, that part of my brain that sometimes goes well, you should be a mess on the floor, completely incapacitated.


Your son died. But, you know, that's just one voice in the head. And I realize that's not really holding the experience with my practice. So I'm just trying to stay open and commit myself to continue serving in a way that I know Robert was really proud of the work I do. So just really trying to dedicate to work I do to him and to his memory. To be clear, he died just this past September or this September before this past September.


September 14th here just a few weeks ago as we record this. Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm really sorry, that's awful, I didn't know coming into the interview, so, yeah, I don't I never quite know where to share it with people in that kind of public situation because it kind of feels like a heavy burden or something. But but yeah, it's very alive and me every moment. And at the same time I'm using all the practices and skills I've learned to hold it and be with it rather than just kind of collapsing with it.


And that does seem to be a. A journey that somehow feels. Different than the last time I went through a really serious loss like this in a good way. You're a teacher. And it may be so fresh that there's there's not a good answer for this, but what would you the folks who come to this show or eager to learn to apply these principles around meditation and Buddhism in their own lives?


What would you teach based on what you're going through right now?


Mm hmm. Well, you know, I think we have a basic choices, human beings, and it's almost not even a choice until we become aware we have a choice, but we're very conditioned and we get most of our conditioning in our childhood, most of it before we're seven. And we don't have any choice about that. We get what we get. And it's a mixed bag, as we all know. We get some really good things, good value, some useful programming.


We can walk and talk and lots of different things and some good books. And then we get some stuff that's not so great gets in our way. And and then we get all the adaptations we come up with as children and some of which are not so serviceable as adults, but they're deeply ingrained. So we have that conditioning and then we have the world around us and we kind of live in that space between our conditioning and the environment and mostly a fairly unconscious, reactive way.


And that's the way a lot of us live. And even at that, I think we have amazing qualities as human beings. So I think there's this underlying goodness underneath all of that. But we are really driven by our conditioning. And so at some point we have a choice whether to live that way or to embrace some kind of awareness practices, to train ourselves to rise above that mechanical level of just constantly chasing pleasure and avoiding pain and comfort and avoiding discomfort and very mechanical, automatic kind of way of living, react way of living and to choose to live consciously.


And what that really is, is having a practice like mindfulness practice, various mindfulness awareness practices that are in all traditions and so we can learn to actually work with our mind, become embodied, own our own physiology, learn how to regulate our own physiology, regulate our own emotions, and not to suppress anything, but to actually be with it rather than getting hijacked by it. So it's not a matter of repressing anything, but it's also being able to hold our seat and stay with our experience.


And that really lives and to meet our human destinies, become conscious beings who can be in that flow of life and face the challenges that we all face in life and still be able to show up for ourselves, our families, and for the larger world in ways that are beneficial. And that takes constant training and constant practice. Well, that's a great recitation, I think, of one of the core value propositions of meditation. If I'm listening to this and I'm thinking personally, I don't have anything even fractionally as traumatic as what you've gone through and in your life recently or what you are going through right now.


Nonetheless, I I try to be a consistent meditator, but on the regular encounter, emotions that are so there, you know, we're all in a pandemic, we're all living through the aftermath of this, rather, let's just say, tumultuous election. There's a lot of stuff going on. And so occasionally powerful emotions come up. And I don't really want to be with them or I do find myself sort of acting blindly on them. Here you are in the grip of the.


Again, just speaking personally, the worst emotion I can imagine, I'm just trying to figure out if what you're describing is applicable in the lives of mere mortals. I definitely think so. For years coming out of prison and I do want to say one thing about prison, so often interviewers would say to me something to me like, well, prison seemed to really work well for you. You did well there. And I'd say, yes, that's true.


But for the vast majority of prisoners, it's exactly the opposite. They come out worse, as destructive. I just was lucky to go in with a lot of resources. Yes. So a lot of times people would ask me things like, well, OK, you faced all these things, but how do I change without facing prison or a cancer diagnosis or, you know, these kind of things that finally wake us up. And that's kind of the sixty four thousand dollar question.


But today, more than ever, we're all facing that. I mean, if we're open to what we're going through with this pandemic, I mean, we're all in a very traumatic situation and incredibly challenging situation. And and we may choose to kind of anesthetize ourselves to it in some way or try to avoid it or ignore it or or numb ourselves out. But of course, those who are losing family members can't do that. And, you know, this is a really an incredibly traumatic situation we're going through together.


And then you add to that, you know, what's in the background. But we which would be in the foreground is the climate emergency that we're facing that the actually humanity could be really facing an existential crisis in another generation. And then we have the reckoning with race we're going through in this country and then incredibly divisive politics. So it's an incredibly challenging time to be alive. If climate change goes unchecked, it's liable to get a lot worse. So, you know, we're all really challenged and we can feel we have a choice to feel victimized by that, you know, before we're talking about that choice, that we really have a choice to be the victims of our conditioning and our circumstances or decide not to and to embrace responsibility for the choices we make day in and day out and train ourselves to be able to make good choices and deal with these challenges.


And it takes training. We need to train our body, heart, mind. Fortunately, there is more knowledge and more support available to us today for that than there ever has been in history. I mean, what's available in terms of transformative technologies and meditation practices? And I mean, I'm going to a training right now that is just profound psychological insights about how to transform. So, you know, there's so much available. And if we choose to do that, this is a tremendous opportunity.


This is we're all in that situation of what the person that got the almost die but didn't die or got the cancer diagnosis but healed and it changed their life. Well, we all have that opportunity right now.


Yeah. There's an expression that's coming to mind manure for enlightenment.


It's all grist for the mill. It's all of the horrible stuff that comes up in our lives. Nobody's exempt from horror. You can use all of it to wake up.


Yeah, manure for enlightenment was actually from shades of expression. You call it the manure. A body was his expression. And grist for the mill is a classic expression. I don't know where that comes from, western or Eastern traditions, but the manure body and part of what he was saying there was not only our circumstances, but not to reject anything in ourselves. All of our own internal challenges, our most neurotic and gnarly set up. He said, that's really your beauty because that's what you can leverage for your own awakening.


If you have a practice to embrace it, the whole thing really comes down to do we have a way to work with our own mind that is transformative. And again, there's so much support available for that. Now your work, what you're doing to 10 percent happier, is offering people those simple tools to begin working with their own mind in that way.


First of all, thank you for that. When you're working with beginner students and teaching them how to work with their own minds, what's the basic blocking and tackling that you recommend for people, especially those who don't want to do a million prostrations?


Yes, well, you know, trying to introduce basic mindfulness of body mindfulness, of breathing practice in a way that people can actually begin to put it in their lives in some way. So even if it's in very, very small chunks and also integrating it with other life activities, but at the same time. I've really been working and pursuing my own study about what I would just generally call embodiment for a long, long time, and my meditation teaching is more focused on a very embodied approach over the last twenty five years and every year, more so.


I now have a method I teach called neuro somatic mindfulness. And I believe the power of that when we learn to practice in a brain body way, we learn how to actually come into the body and feel the body deeply awakening this capacity. We have known as interception, which is just for internal perception, feeling the body, which is sensory all the way down to the bones and including the bones. That gentle effort to do that grounds us very quickly and anchors us and nowness.


And it makes a lot easier to practice. I think so many people, when they first start practicing, they spend years kind of trying to be with the breath and go lost in thought, come back lost and thought. And it's all kind of happening up here in the head. And it's very frustrating. And they're not really reaping the benefits. They know it's supposed to be good for them to have a good experience every now and then. But of course, they're not really motivated to do it.


But if you can give a person a technique and a quality of instruction where immediately they learn to make that ship from the noisy monkey mind default mode network of the brain to the attention stabilising task positive network, and they learn to do that through an internal process, they can very quickly start feeling experiencing a much more stable meditation practice and reaping the benefits very quickly. I think people in a relatively short time can experience some of the benefits that long term meditators experience, but they need to practice and it's really deeply embodied way, activating this capacity known as contraceptive awareness.


So that's what I focus on, is trying to give people something that goes, oh, that works. The other thing I focus on the new students and the like. A lot of my work today is I mean, I've been working in prisons for over the last 12 years. I've been training a lot of correctional officers, probation and parole officers, police and other public safety officials. I know I have to give them something quick that works or they're not they're going to not going to get interested in it.


So I use a lot of simple breath regulation tools that allow us to take charge of our physiology and engage the relaxation response to the parasympathetic branch response or down regulate when we're getting to up regulated and are simple tools and they work immediately. So when you give these simple techniques to people, it gets their attention. They go, Oh, that's amazing. I had no idea that I could navigate my own physiology. I tell them you don't know how huge this is, because as I said before, without that, we're living in that interface between the world around us and our own conditioning, which for many of us isn't a very comfortable place to live and doesn't work out too well.


But if we use these simple techniques, we can learn to regulate our own physiology, which allows us to regulate our own emotions, our behaviours. And so to put us into self leadership position or more in the driver's seat of our own life. So I try to get people newcomer's, simple things that they can have some immediate success with.


I'd like to dive in a little bit deeper on the actual technique, but let me start with the term you use neuro somatic mindfulness, which is designed to trigger this interception, this this ability we have to sort of perceive our body sensations directly. So what are the beginning instructions for this?


So we begin with posture, and I invite people to establish a posture that for them feels relatively erect and uplifted if they're able if people need to do it, lying down, standing up or leaning up against a chair, they should do what works for them. But if they are able to sit up a generally helpful set up with a fairly uplifted posture, one that feels kind of naturally dignified and wholesome, just kind of naturally and then to gently begin bringing their attention to the body and not just the image of the body or the concept, the body, but to the actual physical sensations that make up body.


I'm sure you're familiar with the construct from Theravada Buddhism of the four foundations of mindfulness. And my teacher had a unique teaching on that. And he talked about those psychosomatic body, which is the thought body or the conceptual body made up of images or memories and thoughts. But what he called the direct experience, a body called he just called it body body. So I invite people to try to gently push through that conceptual layer and start to explore feeling the actual sensations that make up the experience we call body that we call breath to begin with on all across the surface of the skin, which is one big sensory organ, and then also inviting them to begin to explore internally feeling the overall weight mass of the muscles and bones, any aches or pains, and also let them know that this idea of interceptive awareness is not something foreign to them.


We're all aware of it. It's how we know when we're tired, when we're hungry, when we're thirsty, when we need to use the restroom. But generally we ignore it, except when there's discomfort. So here I'm inviting them to begin to explore that feel into the body. And the more they do, it grounds you in the moment you develop a more deeply felt presence of the body, which anchors us in the moment, makes it a little harder for the mind to wander, easier for it to come back.


And you're actually what we know from neuroscience as you're making that shift from the default mode network, which is that busy, kind of yada yada part of the brain and the more attention stabilizing task, positive network. And so through a gentle effort of really beginning to explore that internal landscape, we begin to experience our ability to do that. And anyone can learn to do it with a little application over not too long of a period of time. So that's kind of where it begins.


And but that exploration can go very deep in terms of really beginning to examine your skeletal structure, your internal organs, the connective tissue, the ligaments, tendons, you know, the circulatory system, lymphatic system, and really beginning to explore that internal landscape getting very physically embodied puts us in touch also with what you might metaphorically call our emotional body. So we're tuning into our emotions and we know from current neuroscience that enhanced interceptive awareness leads to and has the ability for physiological self-regulation and emotion regulation and thus regulating our own behaviors.


And also, I believe it's really taking us into that body mind interface, you know, body, mind, you know, as either one holistic phenomena or as some kind of continuum. Western science would probably say mind stops when the body dies. Eastern sides would probably say that mine continues. Our mind was there before body. But regardless, while we're alive, there are some kind of continuum, but there is a more subtle layer. And what are many of the Eastern tradition to talk about?


Subtle energy, body and so forth. So I feel like the deeper we go into the body, the deeper we're going into our own being, and the more we begin to have experiences of that depth of our being below. All the noise we recognize is unmistakable, innate goodness, innate wholeness that's there at the core of our being. And to whatever extent we have any relationship to that, does our overall confidence in life grows and our level of fear and anxiety lessens and we're able to live our lives from a place of greater, unconditional confidence.


Much more of my conversation with Fleet right after this. Have you listened to in the Bubble with Andy Slavitt yet? The series has been a source of comfort and insight for many by answering all of life's big and little questions surrounding the pandemic. Andy, the host, is a health care expert who brings his dad jokes to every show. His family friendly episodes include toolkits on getting through the winter and understanding how to construct actual bubbles. He also has chats with comedians like Tina Fey about how she and her kids are getting through distance learning.


Join Andy as he reacts to breaking news with expert guests like epidemiologist Larry Brilliant and Vivek Murthy, co-chair of Biden's covid Task Force. Even Dr. Fauci will be an upcoming guest. New episodes come out twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Listen to In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt from Luminato Media, wherever you get your podcasts.


Well, just staying on the sort of sort of more accessible and the pool here, I mean, just seems pretty obvious to me, having done a limited amount of meditation in my life, that the more aware I am of my bodily sensations as somebody is writing a book, I'm very aware of a clenching in my chest almost all the time.


The more I am aware of what's happening in my body when, you know, maybe things are getting tense in a conversation, the less owned I am by it and the more power I feel to sort of self regulate by just bringing kind of a nonjudgmental, maybe even warm attention to it.


That all makes sense. You did say something that was intriguing to me. You were talking about the sort of deeper benefits of this body awareness, and you said something about getting in touch with our innate goodness. I find that intriguing and in some nebulous way that feels right to me, but I have no idea why.


So what are you trying to say there?


Yes, well, this is really at the core of the work I do is for myself and my teaching work with others is really to help people get in touch with what I would call their innate goodness, unconditional goodness. My teacher called it basic goodness, my work with prisoners. I mean, it just feels so critical because many of them have very little connection to that at all. And in fact, they have an internal landscape that's full of so much self-hatred and self judgment and all the internalized shame that they've taken in.


And of course, the results of that are predictable. Personally, it's kind of an experiential belief on my part that human beings are innately good. And actually, if you study, I think that's been the dominant view across humanity throughout history, although in the West and this is not to demonize any particular religious tradition. I'm kind of a great lover of all the traditions. But, you know, I did a kind of theological orientation did arise that I think was a bit of a mistaken view about the fallen nature of humanity.


And I understand what they're pointing to because the human condition is a setup for living up fear and survival based life if we don't examine it right. If we don't practice in some way. So I think that's what both traditions reference as original sin or fall in nature. But I think underneath all that, our ultimate being is innately good. And that's not good as opposed to bad. It's just life. And it's beautiful as being. I mean, how could the root of life be other than that?


And one where you could I think it still makes sense to call it basic goodness, because when we're in touch with it, certainly it doesn't feel bad. It's very nurturing and healing. Right. There's kind of underlying ground of our being where we're not caught up in the self referencing of me and you and other and all that kind of dissolve. But we're still here and we're feeling some inner resonance and beingness. It's kind of pure presence or pure being, and that's just incredibly healing and nurturing.


And it taps into something that just gives us a completely different perspective on life. I mean, I think it's that many religious traditions of talking about have spoken about, you know, getting to the mountaintop and that then seeing reality that changes and then you come back down. But everything has changed or as Jesus said in the New Testament, being in the world, but not of the world or the idea of this and accepting pictures where, you know, the last step is after attaining realization coming back to the marketplace.


But everything has changed because you are in touch with this dimension of beingness, which gives you this profound sense of confidence and actually even overcomes fear of death. And that's just the nature of it. And I think that is what is accessible to our practice for everyone. And it's something that we get we all have moments of it. We've all experienced our whole life, but we don't recognize that we don't have a name for it. And the more these little moments of being this kind of connect together, they form like a a rosary or a you.


They're in the background, though. Somehow we just know something's fundamentally OK somewhere. And it may be we may be going through a huge storm here. On the surface, it's very scary, but some part of our being knows is something fundamentally OK. I've mentioned this before in the show, but I find a lot of what you just said intriguing, and yet part of my intellect is rebelling against some of it. And yet in the few.


Mountain top. I was probably just the top of a foot hill, but anyway, the mountain top moments in my own practice. If I had to articulate what the experience was like, it in the simplest possible way, it would be a feeling of like everything's OK, even though part of me is rebelling against and I don't mean this in a bad way, but this kind of the grandiosity of the claims here, I still feel like, yeah, I guess somewhere in my meditation practice, I have landed on that.


Like, I'm not always in touch with it though. Mm.


Well I'm not either. I'm fortunately I'm pretty deeply in touch with a lot of the time because I've been practicing very intensely for a long time and actually you know, even in prison, I mean when you're in prison there is conventionally nothing there to be happy about. I mean it is a really rough environment and very negative and violence and just hatefulness. And I mean, on a good day, you maybe have less than, you know, 10 very demeaning encounters with your fellow prisoners of the guards on a good day.


You don't have any your normal needs met. You're separated from your family. But I found a way to embrace that. Make that my world. There are things you can do that to give yourself value in that environment. You can work on your education. You can work out and get healthy. And I got involved in service work. So there all those things. But still the basic environment, none of our conventional sources of happiness are there. And yet, through practicing really deeply and especially I was very fortunate once I finished my nondrug that one of my teacher in a very high lama, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, came to do further empowerments for me, and I was able to start doing these kind of deep inner practices and, you know, where you kind of really working with all the interbody landscape.


And I really found myself living in that prison in a state of peace, contentment and often even joy. And it was really weird. And I didn't share it generally with people because they would have thought I was nuts. But I did feel that that's what came through me and my work as a teacher and doing the hospice work and participating in the 12 step work and so forth, was that I was living in that environment in a way where I felt this internal peace and joy, even in an environment.


And when you can experience that in an environment where there's no support for it, I mean, that just really gets your attention. Obviously, I had a little project going on for a while because I'm from Missouri, the Show Me state. So I. I had a good rationalist, humanistic, skeptical scientific education and some very skeptical by nature. And, you know, this idea of basic goodness has always appealed to me. But, you know, everybody, you know.


And so here I am in this prison environment. And there was some characters among my fellow prisoners and the prison guards who you really had to wonder. So I was kind of this informal research going on, kind of tracking some of these. And I was there for a long time. Right. So, you know, I usually have three or four kind of on my top five list. You know, pretty questionable whether there's any redeeming value in these people.


And every single time without fail, at some point, just when I really thought I had my man, this is a male prison. You know, I found this person with no redeeming value. Maybe they don't really have basic goodness. Not everybody has. Basically, they would inevitably reveal their humanity to me in some way, inevitably. And at some point I gave up the project. You know, when you think about humanity, even though many of us have not had the opportunity to, you know, learn transformational skills for awakening.


Right. And getting out of outside of our conditioning and having more self agency. But nonetheless, one of the vast majority of human beings do every day all over the world, the vast majority of us, we get up. We do our best to take care of ourselves, take care of our children. We work, we queue up at the well, we queue up at the market. We drive on the right side of the road. We're incredibly collaborative and partnering, except when fear overtakes us.


And of course, when we're overtaken by fear, then we're capable of lots of things, but are more default way of being and, you know, even current neuroscience. My colleague, Richard Davidson, he's probably been on your show before, I would imagine so. You know, he talks about those experiments, that research they've done with infants, where they demonstrate that even infants have this preference towards prosocial behavior and witnessing prosocial behaviors. Right. So there seems to be a default inclination, absent fear in within our humanity towards prosocial behaviors, kindness, compassion and so forth.




And so that's why moments of seeing that everything's OK, that's the antidote to fear. And when everything's OK, why would you be bad? Why would you be mean?


Exactly. You don't need to take anything from anybody else. Exactly. Enough.


And that's why, you know, culturally, socially, globally, if we really want to have a better society, what we really need to do is lower the amount of fear for as many people as we can and give them opportunities to connect with some. I mean, some people may connect with this through faith and they may get a similar kind of confidence about the cadence within life. But, you know, giving people opportunities to do that, doing a better job of collectively helping each other meet our needs, lowering the fear, and we're naturally going to have a more functional and better society.


We talked about neuro somatic mindfulness, the other was some breath work that you teach often to prison guards and police officers, et cetera, et cetera. Can you just maybe give us one of the techniques that you'll teach to these folks who might come in skeptical in time? Starved. Yeah, sure.


So a very simple one is called Straube Breathing. It's called that because you can do it with a straw. You can take a whole straw, half straw, and you blow out through the straw. But you can also just do it by blowing out through pursed lips. So it's very simple. The way you do it, you breathe in through the nose with your mouth closed. And then you breathe out through press lips as if you're blowing through a star, whistling so into the nose, out through press slips, into the nose, out through press lips.


And once you've established that pattern, then we start counting, which helps us stay on track, but also to assure that the outbreath is twice as long and nearly twice as long as the breath. So you might be breathing in a four count, something like this in two, three, four. Out to three, four, five, six, seven, eight, so something like that, so you're reading in through the nose, out through percepts of breath twice as long as you breath, something anyone can learn.


And if you do it for a couple of minutes, you'll feel your whole system just starting to settle, feeling yourself kind of chilling out, relaxing. And what you're experiencing is the engagement of the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. That's our nervous system that operates all the complex processes of this most complex organism in the known universe, the human body and brain. And it has these two branches, the up regulating sympathetic branch, which is the stress response and the down regulating parasympathetic branch response, which is a relaxation response.


They're both happening all the time. And there's an ideal balance for any particular human activity we're engaging in. But often we're not determining that we're letting the world around us determine it. And most of us live to up regulated in the stress zone, which is the reason for chronic stress and all the chronic stress related ailments that beset society today. So by learning to regulate with our own breath, that puts us back in charge of our own physiology and good diaphragmatic breathing as well.


If we've learned to become chest breathers, which is a stress response, retraining ourselves to be belly breathers, which is not that hard to do because we have neural networks that support that default mode of breathing, belly breathing. So, you know, before we go to sleep at night, we can move our body around, place one hand on a chest, one hand on the belly until we find it. The one on the belly is going up and down.


It's kind of how we hold our pelvis usually and we get into that pattern. Whether Belly's going up and down, this one's fairly still. And we just do that till we fall asleep. And if we do that for several weeks or at the most several months, we will retrain ourselves to be diaphragmatic breathers. And even just taking one conscious deep breath or just one constant belly breath is like hitting the pause button or the reset button on our nervous system.


But then doing something like Straube breathing, we can really engage the relaxation response and bring ourselves back down into that recovery zone when we're up in the stress zone. So that's one real simple one. There is. You know, Andrew, while the well-known holistic physician teaches one call for seven eight, which is similar, it comes from the Indian pranayama tradition. And that's why we breathe in for four count and then we hold for seven count and then breathe out for an eight count and a holding for the seven count gives us an oxygen boost because we're holding the air deeply in the lungs long enough that we get more saturation of oxygen.


So there's a lot of simple ones. There's also box breathing. People can find all these on my website, Heart Mind Institute, DOT c0 or on our prison site, prison, my dog, and they're readily available. Those are three of the really simple ones. Draw breathing back, breathing in for seven, eight, breathing that anybody can learn. They're very benign and they really almost magically start to put us in charge of our own physiology instead of just kind of being victimized again by our conditioning and the world around us.


Yeah, while you've been talking, I've been doing this job reading it. It it is kind of magical. And it gets me thinking that these two techniques might be nice in concert, the breathing exercise and the mindfulness, because I'm just thinking what's the biggest stress in my life right now? I have a very privileged life, but I would say the biggest stress for me is writing. So I spent a few hours in the morning writing and of course, my mind is hammering up against, you know, seemingly insoluble creative problems.


I've got the voice in my head saying you're behind. You're never going to live up to the success of your first book, blah, blah, blah. And then the tightness in the chest and the lack of creativity will set in. So sometimes I'll sit, very often I'll sit for a while.


But it seems like maybe even before I sit and this is applicable to anybody else who's got any level stress in their lives, by which I mean everybody in the world, maybe before sitting doing a few minutes of breathing exercises in that way, the two could work very nicely together. You're shaking your head. Yeah.


No, I'm, I'm shaking. Yes. You know, absolutely know. There has been kind of an ethic, I would think, and some of the spiritual training, the ones that I was trained in both I trained deeply in the Zen tradition, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, as well as in the book Passion, Insight, Meditation, tradition. And there was kind of an ethic of, you know, you just put your butt on the cushion and you get what you get.


And you're not trying to create any particular state. You're just trying to develop the ability to be with whatever is there, even if you're kind of suffering through the struggle of it. And there's some value in that. But I also more these days, I think, especially with the constraints of modern life and the time people have. I think, you know, if you can do a little breath regulation so that when you if you got 10, 15 minutes that you're setting practice and you do a little breath regulation, now you can sit down and settle more easily and you're going to get more benefit from the practice.


I mean, that makes complete sense to me. You know, even doing an interview like this, I've been working with embodiment and breath regulation the whole time we've been speaking. I do it when I'm training. I deliver some variant. Intensive training set are sometimes 12, 14 hour days, and I'm doing this kind of regulation the whole time, I'm doing at the end after 14 hours, I'm ready to keep going. I'm not exhausted at all because I'm taking care of my body in this way.


Final question for me, and I should have asked this earlier, early on in our conversation, you used the phrase radical responsibility a couple of times. It's also the name of your book. And I have a sense you've covered it without being explicit about it. But let's be explicit for a second. What do you mean by radical responsibility?


Yeah, I certainly did point to it. Usually I say what I mean is voluntarily embracing 100 percent responsible ownership for each and every circumstance we face in life. Now, that includes those that we can see we had some role in whether we see we actually created or at least contributed to it, or maybe we just allowed it by being unaware. Or maybe we're unconsciously promoting or setting ourselves up in some way through social policy. We can see our role in some of the circumstances we face.


But then there's also the ones that we just don't see we have any relationship to. It just feels like the fellows sky and landed on our head or in our lap. And everyone would agree we're just an innocent bystander. I mean, unless it's past Carmen who knows about such ideas. But at any rate, there it is. But at some point, even with that, the salient question for me becomes, what am I going to do with it?


Am I going to let it take me down and victimize me? Or am I going to, you know, marshal my resourcefulness to find the most creative way I can to respond to this, to move forward in my life in ways that are beneficial for myself and others. Now, I want to say that this has absolutely nothing. I mean, really the most important distinction in this model is the distinction between ownership and blame. So this obviously has nothing to do with blaming others, but absolutely nothing to do with blaming ourselves.


So even when I'm looking to see if I had some role in creating or allowing a circumstance of something that's not for self blame at all, it's just for insight, because if I can see how some situation evolved that I'm not so thrilled with and I can kind of see the steps I went from point A to B to C, and then I have the insight the next time I can do it differently and get different results. So it's simply for that self education, insight and understanding that I look into that.


But really it's about living from choice and realizing. And this idea has been around for a long time. I mean, Marcus Aurelius often called the last good Roman Empire and one of the stoic philosophers. And he had many aphorisms and sayings in the whole collection, those which I highly recommend. But one of them paraphrasing is something to the effect that, you know, most people imagine that their destiny is really controlled or created by their circumstances in life.


And he said, in fact, that's not true. The truth is that our destiny is created or manifest from our response to those circumstances, our response, which is the choices we make and that can feel like a burden. But it's actually the it's the place of complete freedom. It's the only place we have any real power and freedom. And it's very compelling. And again, I also want to say that people are victimized. I mean, horrific things happen to human beings.


And also this is about adults because children come of age or responsibility in different cultures that her but in general, children need to be protected and deserve to be protected. So this I'm talking about adults here, but even horrific things happen to adults and incredibly criminal and unjust things and tragic things. And so this is not about telling somebody else, you know, you need to take ownership and not be a victim because somebody may really need to have it affirm that they were victimized and receive a lot of support and affirmation.


And it's not really for me to say what their journey is or should be, but I think we can all, you know, reflect that no matter what befalls someone, if they stay stuck in, that is understandable as that might be. And as much compassion as we want to have for them, it's going to be very self limiting for them. So owning something might be seeking justice, seeking support, but it's operating from that place of how can I respond to this rather than being lost in the sense of being victimized.


And of course, where we practice really with the small stuff in life, because we all know that all day long, every day, there are lots of things going on in our lives where we start to feel resentful, we start to kind of feel victimized and we blame others for this. It's natural to do. But the thing is that in doing so, we give away our power. Because, you know, Dan, if you and I had some kind of business conflict, right, and something went south and we were both hot under the collar, we're ready to go to fisticuffs or go to court and sue each other.


And maybe a friend, you're going to bankrupt yourselves on lawyers. And I know as mediator go see this mediator. So we do that and the mediator interviews both of us separately. And it brings us together and said, boy, I don't know. You guys are both really incredible storytellers and salespeople. And it's really a he said he said thing. And but I'll tell you what, we have the videotape. So I'm going to put together a focus group of, you know, ten really bright people who don't know either one of you couldn't give a hoot about either one of you, and we'll just see what they say.


And so, you know, we both kind of begrudgingly agreed to it. And I'm confident because I know I'm right, you're probably a little nervous, but the mediator does that and comes back and says to either one of us, I have to say, they did agree that dad bears more of the responsibility here. And I'm glad you found such a brilliant group of people. And they realize that all it's all dad's fault. And I feel vindicated.


I feel good about that. Mediastinal Norfleet, they did say, you know, you got to take some responsibility, maybe 60, 40, 70, 30, and though I don't really believe but as long as they realize it was mostly dad's fault, I probably did have a small role to play. I'll accept my role, but I thought it was mostly his fault and I feel vindicated. So does it really I mean, that's very human. We all do that.


But is it really makes sense? Because if I'm unhappy by definition, I'm unhappy with the situation I'm suffering. I'm convinced it's either 60 percent or 70 percent your fault, your causation. How much of my power am I giving away in that situation?


60 to 70 percent of your power.


Yeah, if not all of it. Right. Because I basically put you in charge of my internal state because I don't get to be happy again until you change your behavior. Can I control you? Very little chance, rather. I mean, we might think we can control other people, but ultimately we know that people are in control because we know we're uncontrollable. We know that no matter how much somebody tries to control or intimidates, we will find our way right.


We're incredibly inventive as human beings and getting our needs met. So if nothing else, just learning to let live and not spend so much energy trying to control the people on our lives will be much happier campers. But the point here is that when we blame people's circumstances for our internal state, as normal as that may be, as much as we're conditioned to do it, as logical as it seems, we're actually giving our power away because the only place we have any real influence is with ourselves.


And that's hard enough that challenging enough.


So this is really it's not a burden that we're taking on with radical responsibility. It's really an act of radical self empowerment and it's a gift to ourselves and really a gift to others because we stop blaming other people and allows us to focus our energy where we can do the most good with what can I do now, no matter how terrible the situation is, what can I do? And that's really in prison. What allowed me to create all kinds of programs in an environment where the first answer to everything is no, it's a completely totalitarian environment where the authorities have absolute power and resistance is futile.


And really, if you buck the system, you're in four point restraints that are concrete bunk being hosed down at night. And I was able to start two national organizations and catalyze two national movements through the PRISM Mifflin's movement, the prison hospice movement. And I don't say that to pat myself on the back, but just to point to what's possible by taking that philosophy rather than getting all caught up in what's right and wrong. And they're so bad in this.


And, you know, instead, I would just really train myself to focus on, OK, how how do I move something forward here? How do I relate with people in a way that I can enroll them in a vision and I'll start getting yeses instead of no's? And that led to a lot of good results.


Yeah, it seems like in part what you're saying is not blame the victim, but more like manure for enlightenment. It's all grist for the mill.


Before we go here, can you just plug everything you're doing so that folks can get access to it if they want to learn more?


Yeah, sure.


So we have a great summit coming up, which I want to let people know about. It's going to be January 19 to twenty eight. It's called The Best Year of Your Life. We all make New Year's resolutions and the science is not very good on the results. Like 85 to 90 percent of us. Forget about them two weeks later. And we have a lot of we've done a lot of study. We have a lot of insight why that is.


So we're going to provide people with the motivation, inspiration, the tools, the understanding of human psychology and habit, formation and science of change, how to up level or how to optimize different areas of our life, our health and well-being, our relationships, our financial life, our spiritual path. And I think it's going to be a really exciting with a lot of really brilliant people. So Heart Mind Institute, which is Heart Mind Institute CEO, not Dotcom, just Dot Seo.


They can bite about that summit, about the Global Resilience Summit we did last May and my neural somatic course and so forth. My work in general, they can just remember to go to the mall dotcom. You can basically find out everything about me and then just referencing the prison work and people are interested that it's prison. Mindfulness Dog is our work with at risk incarcerated, returning youth and adults. Then we have mindful public safety dog, which is our work with police, probation and parole, corrections, public safety, emergency, the courts bringing mindfulness into the whole public safety field and then engage my, for instance, to dog is where we train.


This is all the same nonprofit, but that's where we train mindfulness teachers in trauma informed approaches to bringing mindfulness to all these sectors of society where there is a lot of suffering and whether communities have been marginalized and there is a lot of trauma. And people want to check out my book, Radical Responsibility Bookham. You can read about the book, get a free chapter and you can buy it through your favorite book seller. But you can find all about the book, that radical responsibility book, Dotcom.


Great Fleet, thank you very much for doing this, and again, my. Condolences on the loss of your son. That sounds just awful. I'm very impressed that you were able to do this interview, so thank you.


Well, it's an ongoing journey. And thank you very much, Dad. I love your work and your book, and it's a great pleasure to connect with you in person. Big thanks to Fleet, really appreciate him coming on and also, of course, my condolences to all of our condolences to Fleet and his family. Before I go, just a quick thank you to everybody who worked so hard to make this show a reality. Samuel Johns is our senior producer.


Marisa Shneiderman and D.J. Kashmir are our producers. Jules Dodson is our A.P. Our sound designer is Matt Boynton of Ultraviolet Audio. And Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We got a ton of wisdom and guidance and oversight from our colleagues, including Ben Rubin, Nate Tobey, Jen Point and Liz Levin. And finally, a big thank you to my ABC News comrade's Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohan. We'll see you all on Wednesday with Kristin Neff.