Spiritual Practice For Crazy Times – Ep#029 Interview With Philip Goldberg, Author & Spiritual Teacher
By cultivating a spiritual practice we can wisely manage our fear and worry so they don’t turn into health derailing stress and anxiety. Ancient practices such as meditation and yoga are now backed up and being recommended by neuroscientists, psychotherapists, doctors alike as essential tools for health and well being in the modern world.
Investing in our spiritual well being connects us to the ultimate source of peace, stability and vitality within. The goal of spiritual self care is to foster a sense of equanimity and steadiness and even joy amidst the hard stuff in life. Nonetheless exploring our spiritual nature is not simply a means to escape reality; nor is it passivity in life; in fact it’s actually what infuses our outer life with immense power and effectiveness.
I speak today with a true authority on this important topic. Philip Goldberg has been a spiritual teacher for the more than 45 years drawing on the yogic traditions as well as psychology and scientific research in mind body health. He is the author and co-author of some 25 books published in more than a dozen languages. His popular book American Veda in 2010 and The Life of Yogananda in 2018 received deep praise from thought leaders and experts in spiritual, holistic health, medical and academic fields. Phil is an inspiring public speaker and spiritual counselor. He is a writer for Spirituality and Health Magazine, Elephant Journal and Huffington Poast. Phil is also co-host of the Spirit Matters Podcast.
In this show, we dive into Phil’s latest book that came out in the midst of this global pandemic: “Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times” – Powerful Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity and Courage. This book available on Amazon is a rich and practical resource for anyone who’s struggling to find balance these days. It’s a remedy for our time packed with insightful instruction to enhance your whole being.
Join me for this down to earth conversation and come away with renewed motivation to commit to your spiritual self care that will center your mind, heal your body and recharge your soul.
Learn More About Philip Goldberg: www.philipgoldberg.com
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Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach, Chef Author, and Yogi Christine Okezie.
Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello, and welcome to the soul science nutrition podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for tuning in today. And I just want to thank everyone for their ongoing support. And if you haven’t already hit the subscribe button, I would ask that you kindly do so that helps me keep the podcast growing. So let’s dive into this today’s special episode, you know, living in these rapidly changing times, it’s important that we care for much more than our mind and body. I think everyone can agree. Just, just a lot of heavy, dense energy out there right now. A lot of fear grief is running high and it’s taking an enormous toll on our health.
Christine Okezie (1m 5s):
In fact, to navigate wisely requires nothing less than a shift in our consciousness. We need the medicine that comes from spiritual. Self-care now caring for our spiritual dimension does not necessarily mean religion. In fact, to be clear, it’s really not dependent on belief systems or affiliations. Spiritual self-care can look different for everyone, but essentially the main goal of a spiritual practice is to connect you to the ultimate source of inner calm, inner peace and clarity, which is in ourselves.
Christine Okezie (1m 46s):
It’s about finding steadiness equanimity, and perhaps even joy amidst the crazy that’s just part of life. I speak today with a true authority on this topic. Philip Goldberg has been a spiritual teacher for more than 45 years, drawing on the yoga traditions, as well as psychology and scientific research in the mind body health field. He is the author and coauthor of 25 books published in more than a dozen languages. His popular book, “American Veda” in 2010 and “The Life of Yogananda” in 2018, received deep praise from thought leaders and experts in the spiritual holistic health, medical, and academic fields.
Christine Okezie (2m 32s):
He’s also a regular contributor to Spirituality and Health magazine, Elephant Journal, as well as the Huffington Post. And he is also the cohost of a fantastic podcast: “Spirit Matters.” And on today’s show, we dive deep into his latest book that just came out a few months ago, amidst this global pandemic: “Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times, PowerfulTtools To Cultivate Calm, Clarity, and Courage”. It’s an amazing read. It’s a rich and practical resource for anyone out there who’s struggling to find balance these days. It’s truly a remedy for our time packed with insightful instruction to enhance your whole being.
Christine Okezie (3m 17s):
So I can’t wait for you to listen in on this down to earth conversation and come away with renewed motivation to commit to your spiritual self care so that you can center your mind, heal your body, and we charge your soul. And if you like the show, I’d be really grateful if you’d kindly leave a rating and review. Thank you so much. Hello, Philip, and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast. It’s so great to have you here today.
Phil Goldberg (3m 44s):
Good to be with you, Christine. You’ve been a lifelong seeker studying and teaching the world’s spiritual traditions for about 45 years. Well, what have you learned from your work when it comes to spiritual practice and the role that it, it serves when it comes to, you know, our health and our wellbeing? Well, I, as I say in, in my book, I mean, pretty much everything else I do to me, a deep spiritual practice has the, is, is kind of necessity of life. It’s, it’s ongoing maintenance.
Phil Goldberg (4m 25s):
It’s not a luxury. Most people think of spirituality or spiritual, you know, taking time for spiritual practice as a kind of add on if they have the time they’ll do it. Or, you know, when the kids go to school though, you know, grow up or whatever. And to me, I mean, I learned very early on when I was just setting foot on my spiritual path, that the spirituality is, is eminently practical. It improves your life. It improves your health, it improves your mental wellbeing.
Phil Goldberg (5m 5s):
And of course your, your spirituality and it, people don’t have to take my word for it. At this point. You know, back when I first took up meditation practice in yoga, it was weird to people, but now, you know, doctors tell you to meditate and, and, you know, psychologists psychotherapists tell people to meditate in as part of life. And the reason for that is there’s hundreds. If not thousands of studies demonstrating the ethicacy of these practices on measurable of facts of life, like, you know, blood pressure and other health factors and, and, and wellbeing, you know, sort of mental health.
Phil Goldberg (5m 57s):
And so to me, a spiritual practice is something I do every day, just like I brushed my teeth and shower and get exercise and, you know, make sure you know, my house and my car or maintained and, you know, so should my body and my soul and, and it’s, it’s ongoing maintenance. It’s just a, an investment of time. That to me is just now routine. And, and I value it. I appreciate it. And I see tangible benefits in my life.
Phil Goldberg (6m 39s):
And I saw that early on. So, you know, when I first took up these practices, I was, I was a crazy young man and very little was regular in my life. Very little was predictable or orderly, but I saw the value. So, you know, I, I continue. And so that’s a big part of my work is to, you know, let people know that it’s, it’s a good investment.
Christine Okezie (7m 10s):
Yeah. That’s, that’s wonderful. It’s a great investment with tangible benefits. And, and isn’t it just remarkable, you know, given, given the, your experience, Dixie, it’s almost come full circle. Right. You know, you know, out of the cave and sort of the monastic living into, you know, the field of neuroscience even
Phil Goldberg (7m 28s):
That’s right. And I, you know, I’m old enough now to have witnessed it all. You know, when I took up, I took up transcendental meditation in the months, following the Beatles, going to India famously in 1968. And that brought the world’s attention to these kinds of practices. And it was as a result of all the, you know, crazy young people like me taking up these practices, that scientists started to study them. And, you know, by the mid seventies, late seventies, you know, it had become a medical thing and a psychological intervention.
Phil Goldberg (8m 8s):
And so in fact, I was, I was a subject in one of the early research studies. So, so now to see it, now I get mailings from my healthcare provider recommending meditation to me. And it’s, it’s pretty remarkable because, you know, back then, you know, people just thought you were like, you might as well have been sticking pins in a voodoo dollar or something.
Christine Okezie (8m 36s):
Yes, yes. And, and so that grounded practice of it, you know, the grounded misdose mystical aspect of, I think is what you have, you know, become such a, a beautiful leader for. So, you know, in that vein, what, what compelled you to write your most current book, spiritual practice for crazy times?
Phil Goldberg (9m 1s):
Well, you know, we’re recording this in mid November, 2020, right after the election. The book came out a couple of months ago and everybody’s been complimenting me on my great timing because times are sort of crazy, but in truth, I wrote it last year and I conceived it in this, I guess the spring of 2019, because things were crazy. Then it, you know, they seem sane by comparison, but, you know, people were worried and afraid and angry and confused. And I saw people who could, you know, obviously benefit from the repertoire and spiritual practices that I ended up putting in the book and they were resistant because for various reasons, so I wrote an article about it, and then people said, well, maybe there’s a book there.
Phil Goldberg (9m 57s):
And so we did. And, and, and it was completed and, and edit it and everything, and being designed when the COVID hit. And so we had no idea that the pen, you know, how crazy life would be during, during the pandemic, but, but what was interesting is we, I chose not to change anything. I just, I just added a short of saying, you know what, I’m now saying that this was written before the pandemic, but everything in it applies no matter what’s going on in the world.
Phil Goldberg (10m 38s):
Because even if, if you know, the world was in good shape, anybody’s individual life can, can go haywire at any time. You know, we all have ups and downs. We have losses, we have disappointments and defeats and setbacks and illness and everything else. And so, you know, the what’s in the book applies to crazy times, no matter, you know, what’s going on that also applies to good times, but that’s not, that’s not that wouldn’t sell books either.
Christine Okezie (11m 18s):
You know, what is the biggest misconception though, right. When you talk about having a spiritual practice or taking care of you, your spiritual wellness, you know, one in my, in my field, I get the I’m too busy, or, you know, I think it’s really interesting. And you have some fantastic articles on spiritual activism these days. And if you could share a little bit about how can we bridge it, maybe so that people have a deeper incentive and inspiration around doing this.
Phil Goldberg (11m 52s):
Okay. There’s, there’s a couple of questions packed into that. What you just said, the, the resistance part of it. I, I have the same experience you do. It’s I, the, the usual thing is I don’t have time. I’m too busy. And that’s why I, I said what I did earlier, that it’s an investment, a wise investment. You don’t say I’m too busy to shower. You don’t say I’m too busy to eat. Yeah. Sometimes that’s true, you know, but then you regret it because you, you know, you, we can move in a space out because you’re hungry or you, you donut and regret it.
Phil Goldberg (12m 37s):
But, but we, we do take the time. And if we don’t take the time to nourish ourselves, there are bad consequences. Our health falls apart because we don’t take the time. And the other piece of it to segue into, you know, from it being a good investment of time for self protection, for, for maintenance of the mind and body and spirit, it’s also, it also makes the things you’re busy doing better, easier to do and better.
Phil Goldberg (13m 18s):
It’s not escapism. Yes. Doing, going deep in meditation or mindfulness, prayer, doing yoga, whatever it is you do. And I cover everything, you know, the full range of practices in my book. Yes. It takes time. Yes. It’s a temporary refuge escape. Okay. And we need that. Just like we need sleep. Just like we need to, you know, watch a goofy comedy on television and something. We need to have a break from our busy-ness and our concerns.
Phil Goldberg (13m 58s):
It’s refreshing. That’s what, you know, we need that reset service speed. But when you do it, it’s not only benefiting, you know, your health and wellbeing, but it, it makes your action in the world more effective. As I always say we, and I emphasized in the new book we have within us, a sanctuary of peace. The core of our being is silent and pure and, you know, perfectly content.
Phil Goldberg (14m 40s):
And, and we need to access that inner silence and inner peace and bring it out into the world. But that sanctuary of peace is also a fortress of strength. It’s a platform for effective action. And so I find, and so, you know, I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people from my work. When you do spiritual practices consistently, it actually ends up saving you time because you make fewer mistakes. Your mind is clear. You make smarter decisions, you act on the basis of more compassion, more intuition, more a clarity of thought.
Phil Goldberg (15m 35s):
And, and that has, you know, benefit in your life. And so that for, for, even for the sake of a successful action in the world, whatever, it may be being a better, you know, dr. Stockbroker fireman, you know, dad, mom, whatever it is, you’ll do it better. You’ll do it with more soul, more love, more calmness. I always tell as social activists, and I admire that. And as you said, I’ve written about, you know, this important link between inner peace and outer action for making the world a better place.
Phil Goldberg (16m 23s):
However you choose to do that. And there’s a good reason for that. And there’s some good research to back it up, but I always tell people, you know, if you really, you know, predicated to changing the world and making the world a better place, you don’t do that by burning yourself out. And, and, and you do it by, you have to protect yourself. It’s like, that’s what happens in airplanes, you know, with, you know, put your own mask on first and then help your kid or whatever you have to protect yourself.
Phil Goldberg (17m 3s):
Otherwise you’re not going to be of much use, you know, or you’re going to make stupid mistakes.
Christine Okezie (17m 10s):
Yes, yes. Yes. I think a lot of people are recognizing the price of emotional reactivity these days in their own lives. And then obviously on a collective scale, right?
Phil Goldberg (17m 21s):
Yeah. I was always, when I was young, I was an athlete. I’ve always been a sports fan. And so I, I use a lot of sports metaphors and, and the athletes I always admired and the ones I always fantasized, I would be like, yeah, are, are the ones who, you know, they’re the ones the team looks to award when the chips are down and the is on, because they’re not only good at what they do. They don’t lose their cool, they stay calm and composed under the pressure. Same is true of, you know, people who do law enforcement, business executives, entrepreneurs, you know, hospital workers, doctors, nurses, you know, people who are under pressure, the ones who stay, who have an element of calmness within them.
Phil Goldberg (18m 19s):
They’re the ones we look for. They’re the ones we turn to. They’re there. They do the heroic things. And by analogy in our own lives, if we have, you know, if we stay cool, when, when things get crazy, if we can retain some calmness or return to it, if we lose it more quickly, that’s what spiritual practices help us do. And so, yeah, there is.
Christine Okezie (18m 46s):
So thank you. So you, you mentioned that it’s not that our life does, you know, life doesn’t get easier. Right. All of a sudden things, aren’t just rainbows and unicorns. If we meditatet long enough.
Phil Goldberg (18m 59s):
Okay. No, that could get easier, but not, you know, not, it’s not gonna, you know, a little easier, you know, it was, it may be predictable, but we have the fantasy that they we’ll never have another problem again, you know, or, you know, it’s not like that.
Christine Okezie (19m 17s):
Right. And that’s why, I think you mentioned many times in your book about it really is a practice and consistency is the key.
Phil Goldberg (19m 24s):
Yes. Consistency. And it is, there’s two things that elements that I emphasize in the book, there’s consistency of regular spiritual practice with the yogis called Sadhana, daily practice. And I have instructions for deep meditation and all bad auxiliary practices. So establishing a regular practice that you do consistently as a great thing, doesn’t mean you have to do it the rest of your life. You can change it, you can modify it, but doing something consistently builds within you, the sort of conditions, you know, physiologically to maintain, you know, of, of holding onto some inner contentment and calmness.
Phil Goldberg (20m 14s):
The other thing is stuff to do when we need it outside of that time, in the moment, while we’re in a traffic jam, while you know, something happens in the news, we get, we get, you know, something happens to our kid or, you know, or at work, you know, whatever it is we need, we want interventions and we want those, you know, special things to do. So we need a repertoire of,
Christine Okezie (20m 43s):
And in the book you do such a good sort of job of talking about “Spiritual Time Management.” I love that term and creating a “Spiritual Inventory.” Can you walk us through that? Because I think it’s really just it’s it’s so it’s so clear and it’s really, it’s doable. It’s totally doable if we approach it this way.
Phil Goldberg (21m 4s):
Yeah. And, and so part of spiritual time management is what we talked about before, understanding that taking the time to do various practices on a regular basis is a good investment. And, and so managing your time to fit in your morning, meditation, your afternoon, whatever you do, you know, this is one aspect of time management. The other aspect is to create an inventory and you can do this intuitively you could do it in writing. And I give guidance for, I encourage people to think in, in terms of time categories, things you can do in less than five minutes, and you can break if you want, you can, you know, make it things you can do in less than three or one minute things.
Phil Goldberg (22m 6s):
Cause there’s so many things we can do just when the stuff hits the fan to adjust, or we just feel upset and we can just shut down. And in a few minutes restore some of that inner peace uplift the soul, whether it’s listening to music or doing some deep breathing exercises, I have a lot of breathing exercises in the book. And then, you know, if you have a little more time, what can you do in that five to 15 minutes? For at that time, 15 minutes to a half hour things you can do. If you have a full hour things you can do, if you have a day things you can do, you can obviously require planning.
Phil Goldberg (22m 50s):
I’m going to take a full day Sabbath. I’m going to shut off all my gadgets. I’m going to just read, you know, books. I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, whatever it may, I’m going to go hiking, whatever it may be that uplifts the soul and restores you and brings back, you know, some of that inner peace that you, you may have lost and restores your health, and maybe you have a week and you want to plan a retreat or whatever it is. So I have these time categories and encourage people to fill them in. And then if they feel the need, they can say, Oh, I can look at that list and say, you know, this is what I need.
Phil Goldberg (23m 35s):
Now I need to put on that song and put on my head said, it’ll only take three minutes. And that’s when I’m, and it’ll change my mood. It’ll it’ll uplift. Or, you know, I’m going to walk around the block, whatever it is, I’m going to do these deep breathing exercises. So, you know, that’s thank you for bringing that up. Yeah.
Christine Okezie (23m 58s):
Yeah. It’s, it’s wonderful because you know, here’s the other piece of resistance around when we use the word spiritual practice or spiritual self care. I love the way in the book. You really broadened the menu. You brought in the definition of what it means to care for our soul and anything, as you said, that nourishes our wellbeing nourishes our inner life. Right. So that could be nature that could be listening. That could be dancing. That could be writing poetry that could be painting.
Phil Goldberg (24m 27s):
Yes. Yes. So I, I mean the book is called spiritual practice for crazy time, but, and, and to me, the spiritual is practical. So the emphasis on the book is the things we think of as spiritual meditation, prayer chanting, you know, yoga, all these things that I wanted to broaden the definition of the word, spiritual, because spiritual out something is spiritual. If you make it that if it’s spiritual to you, it’s that, you know, for some people meditation, they don’t think of it is spiritual practice.
Phil Goldberg (25m 11s):
It’s just a sort of health intervention. It’s calming down to the body. Yoga, look at all the people who do yoga just for fitness. So for some people, yoga is part of a spiritual routine. It is their, you know, their way of connecting to, you know, the larger universe and, and some, you know, whether you call it God or spirit or whatever. And so, and S similarly, you know, I always, in my personal life, I live near the ocean in Los Angeles. So I, I sometimes take walks on the beach and there’s days when I walk on the beach.
Phil Goldberg (25m 53s):
And I think I’m just, you know, it’s heavenly, I am deeply grateful. I feel at one with the ocean and the sky and the sand. And I feel so lucky and there’s other days, you know, I might as well be in a dirty basement on a treadmill cause I’m just walking and it’s what I bring to it. So there’s times when I appreciate the appreciation and the, the sense of gratitude that I bring to it makes it a spiritual experience. And there’s other times I’m just in a different mood, I’m worried, I’m upset, whatever, and it it’s, it, you know, you can go to church because it’s your spiritual sanctuary.
Phil Goldberg (26m 39s):
But if you’re sitting there thinking I’d be watching the football game, it’s not really a spiritual experience
Christine Okezie (26m 46s):
About the energy, the attitude, the intentionality. Yeah.
Phil Goldberg (26m 52s):
And so, you know, we can listen to so-called spiritual music. We can put on, you know, Sanskrit chanting or him, or, you know, whatever our spiritual orientation is, but sometimes, you know, rock and roll, we’ll do it for, or just, you know, listen, whatever your musical taste is, if it moves you in and uplifts you, then it becomes a spiritual thing. Yeah.
Christine Okezie (27m 24s):
Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. That’s, that’s I think such a freeing paradigm, you know, for people and it’s a much more inviting and personalized one, you know,
Phil Goldberg (27m 35s):
And you don’t like you’re in New Jersey, you know, many people listening to Springsteen is, you know, that’s going to do it for them, you know, more than perhaps, you know, something explicitly spiritual in my, so we sh we need to, you know, take care of ourselves and broaden the repertoire of what we think. Yeah.
Christine Okezie (28m 0s):
I think it’s, it’s anything, as I like to say takes you, it takes your focus more internally, you know, it kind of does an about face. So instead of being, you know, completely externally focused and reactive to our environment and having the environment determine how we’re going to think, feel, and groove, it’s really just anything that brings you closer to what’s really going on inside you.
Phil Goldberg (28m 22s):
Yes. And, and resonates with your spirit. I mean, you know, you mentioned nature, that’s an important one. And in these COVID times, you know, when we’re, our choices are limited, you know, if you have access to a park, that’s a river, you know, the tree down the street. I mean, just appreciating nature and being in its presence is, you know, it can be a deeply healing and spiritual realizing thing to do.
Christine Okezie (28m 59s):
Thank you. So that’s, you know, we’ve talked a lot about the calm and the peace and the restoration that can come from, you know, being still or being more engaged in an internally focused practice. And at the same time, I think it’s, it’s, you know, you talk about in the book that sometimes when we come into stillness and we come into those quiet times, it’s very uncomfortable. There’s a lot of, you know, not just again, easy feelings, there’s a lot of difficult emotions. We, where we’re, we’re confronted with our anger, we’re confronted with our fear and our, our worry, how can we allow for that to, you know, because it’s really uncomfortable.
Christine Okezie (29m 42s):
And sometimes that’s why slowing down cannot is not attractive to people because it’s,
Phil Goldberg (29m 47s):
And, and they re they met resistant for that reason. And, and, and you’re right, that that can happen even in the most effective of, of practices. What I’ve learned is that when those things happen, if you understand that the they’re not being caused by the practice, if you have good, deep spiritual practices. And I think mostly about meditation, meditative practices, right? They’re not creating the unpleasant thoughts and emotions that stuff was in you, it’s revealing, and it’s healing, it’s healing those things.
Phil Goldberg (30m 34s):
It’s like a possible occasional side effect. You know, if you’re sick and some somebody says, take these herbs and, and, and, Oh, yes, they’re, they’re killing me. They make me feel better, but it’s also maybe removing toxins and on their way out, you’re going to feel some discomfort. And, and it’s similar, you know, on an emotional and psychological level when negative stuff comes up and just allowing it to come up and allowing it to come out without getting caught up in it, just letting it go as, as if you know, any it as if it were nonsensical thoughts, feeling the feeling it’ll go away, it’ll dissipate.
Phil Goldberg (31m 28s):
But it’s part of, I mean, one of the things good spiritual practices we’ll do in bringing you in touch with that sanctuary of peace within yourself, it’s clearing out the muck that gets in the way of that. So and so in allowing it to come out, it you’re healing. So just having that in mind, Oh, look, I’m going through all this stuff. And this unpleasant memories of coming up, stuff like that, I’m going to let it go. I’m just going to complete this practice. It’ll dissipate, I’m cleansing these old wounds and this, this stress that it has accumulated and all that.
Phil Goldberg (32m 15s):
So, yeah. Thanks. Yeah, that’s it it’s, I will say it doesn’t always happen. And some people will say, what are you talking about? I’ve been meditating for 30 years. And I had that one experience that, you know, it very often and other people, it will come up so we should understand it when it, when it does and just reframe how, how we understand it.
Christine Okezie (32m 42s):
I, I think that’s, that’s good guidance. And, you know, essentially, you know, if meditation is not, you know, and I know you’re a practitioner and teacher of TM, we’re not there to wrangle or re wrestle our thoughts. We’re just there to observe. We’re there to, you know, try to have a new relationship with our thoughts. Good, bad and the ugly, right?
Phil Goldberg (33m 4s):
Yeah. They’re going to come and see. And since you brought it up, a lot of people resist taking up a practice like meditation because they think they can’t do it. I don’t know. I can’t quiet my mind. And because, and that’s a unfortunate side effect of meditation becoming mainstream, because now everybody talks about it and magazine writers write articles about it. And they don’t all know what they’re talking about. And so there’s misconceptions. People say, Oh, meditation is good for you to quiet your mind. So then they go home and say, okay, I’ll quiet my mind. And then they say, well, can’t do that. So I guess I’m not cut out for this.
Phil Goldberg (33m 45s):
And, and, but they’ve never had proper instruction and proper instruction will, will, you know, if you have proper instruction, you’re doing something that allows the mind to, to, to get quieter. It doesn’t stop thoughts. It’s not like it shuts the door and all, no thoughts come. It doesn’t happen. It’s not like that. There’s always thought the mind thinks, but you know, at the same time you can get quieter and there can be moments of, of relative silence and then more thought. And so if you understand that and you understand the nature of the mind, you don’t think I can do this.
Phil Goldberg (34m 24s):
Anybody can do this. And, and, you know, there’s, there’s times look, I’ve been meditating for more than 50 years every day there’s times when I it’s deeply silent and quiet. And there’s times when it’s restless and turbulent, but I know that now I understand that that’s part of the process.
Christine Okezie (34m 46s):
Yeah. Really important to know that for folks. Well, you know, we’re living in even more interesting times just in the last week. And I would say that, you know, these tools are needed more than ever. What inspires you these days? You said it’s different for you every time. You know, when we sit down on our mat or we take our walk, you know, what, what are you finding useful these days to navigate?
Phil Goldberg (35m 13s):
One of the hardest things for me in, in this political climate we’ve been living in, especially leading up to the election is I’ve had to discipline myself. In addition to everything we’ve talked about, nothing gets in the way of my practices. Nothing gets in the way of me taking my walks, doing ongoing maintenance. Yes. The difficulty things have been like everybody else. I miss seeing people I care about because of COVID.
Phil Goldberg (35m 54s):
I miss doing certain things that uplift me because it requires being in public places. And can’t do that. Now on the other hand, you know, it’s been easier to take time to do other things, but the thing that I’ve had to in, in the opening of the book, I say, one of the things that inspired me was a cartoon by a new Yorker cartoon is in which somebody tells the other person, I forget the exact phrase, but it’s something like there’s, I’m feeling conflicted between my desire to be well-informed and my desire to stay sane.
Phil Goldberg (36m 40s):
And I think many people feel that way. And so one of my challenges has been to not be watching the news all the time. That’s a big one. Yeah. I found myself a few weeks ago, getting angry at a news report and realized that’s the third time today. I’ve gotten angry at the same news. Wow. And so I didn’t need the, the, the two extra experiences I could have taken better care of myself. And so, you know, and tuning out, you know, putting down the gadgets, putting it on airplane, shutting off the television, you know, eating quietly and silently without the TV on listening to some nice music, instead of watching news, that’s been a bit of a challenge.
Phil Goldberg (37m 34s):
I have to say, just to be honest, you know, I have to, you know, take my own advice sometimes.
Christine Okezie (37m 45s):
Yeah. I mean, that’s the, I heard a term recently with these phones called, called now doom scrolling. And I, it was so I, I heard that term. I’m like, Oh my God, that’s what I do sometimes. You know, because it’s not, we’re not searching our feed for positive where our negative mind is running the show when we’re engaged in that activity, you know?
Phil Goldberg (38m 8s):
And that’s, it’s it that where there’s a lot of fear and anxiety that so many of us are feeling these days or have been, you know, for a while now, especially during COVID. But part of it is, you know, that tendency is a survival mechanism where we’re just hard wired to find problems, because if we don’t, you know, you know, we can die, you know, we need to, we need to look for danger, but these days, you know, that that instinct can just mean, you know, we’re getting overwhelmed by, you know, news reports and, and bad news and, you know, danger.
Phil Goldberg (38m 57s):
And part of the problem with that to be perfectly honest is when you take that too far, you end up going down rabbit holes into, you know, craziness and to real fake news, not fake. And, and, and we need to be very discerning and discriminating and, and look for the good news as well as the, the, the danger signs. Because there, there is, there’s a lot to be encouraged. There’s a lot of things that encourage me, that the voter turnout encourage me, the absolute wonderful that, you know, COVID is terrible.
Phil Goldberg (39m 38s):
You know, rates are rising, people are dying, but look at the heroic work that’s being done by the healthcare professionals, you know, and people stepping up and volunteering people becoming more socially and politically aware than they were before. So there’s reason to think good things can come of difficult times. It’s happened before in our history. That helps me part of, you know, spiritual practices to have a bigger picture, a larger view of things. And part of that is history. I’m old enough to have gone through the craziness of the Vietnam war and civil rights era of the sixties.
Phil Goldberg (40m 22s):
Good things came of that, not enough, but good things came of it. Good things will come of this too. If we make, if we all let them and encourage them.
Christine Okezie (40m 34s):
And if we, as you said, stay discerning and grounded and, you know, look for the good and I, you have a beautiful examples of reframing. So for example, one that particularly struck me that I I’m going to use now is when you hear of tragedy, and let’s just say, you hear a horrible news story, an earthquake, you know, for example. And you’re like, Oh my gosh. And you go into all the sadness and grief, and it’s not to say that we don’t feel it. And, you know, but, but then we kind of don’t get stuck there. And you said something will then shift your attention to feeling grateful for all the healthcare workers that are on the front line shift.
Christine Okezie (41m 14s):
You’re feeling grateful for the safety of your home feeling great, you know, and shift, you know, what else can we direct this thing called our mind? Because that’s the whole point, right? Where we’re in charge is your memory.
Phil Goldberg (41m 26s):
One of the questions I’m asked a lot is what do you do with all the anger? You know, and w and there’s very good reason to be angry. And, you know, people say, Oh, it’s not spiritual to be angry. Oh, yeah. Was Gandhi angry? Jesus angry was, you know, Martin Luther King angry. Yes. But they didn’t, they weren’t like lashing out crazy angry. They were taking that anger. It becomes moral indignation. Something is wrong. Something is unjust. This is not right. It makes me angry.
Phil Goldberg (42m 7s):
I’m going to see what I can do about it. And that’s, that’s a different emotion than sheer, you know, fury and rage, because when you’re in rage, you’re going to, you’re going to say something you regret, you’re going to do something you regret. You’re going to poison your body with toxic chemicals. But if you reframe it, so not to deny the anger, right. Because it’s real. I mean, sometimes we get angry and this is no real reason to, but we get over those things fast, but there’s good reason to be angry about things that are going on in the world these days.
Phil Goldberg (42m 51s):
But then we could say, okay, that’s that makes me angry. Okay, settle down. This is a moral, spiritual issue. Is there anything I can do about it? Is there any way I can help? You know, even if it’s just writing a check or, you know, having a good talk with the child to help the child understand, or, you know, reaching out to a loved one who may also be angry and having a reasonable conversation, you know, running for office, whatever it is you do, but, you know, we don’t want a spirituality doesn’t mean you you’re in some sort of cosmic denial about the reality of the real world.
Christine Okezie (43m 37s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s really important to be aware of this, you know, good vibes only, and fake positivity that in of itself is, is very, it’s going in the opposite direction of us, you know, becoming more conscious and becoming more compassionately engaged in the world.
Phil Goldberg (43m 53s):
Yes. I mean, we, you can say, Oh, it’ll be fine. Or, you know, it’s God’s will or whatever, and okay, that’s fine. But what about now? You still have to, you know, isn’t, wouldn’t it be better if this was to change or, you know, I can help that situation even while being optimistic and, you know, taking sort of God’s eye view of the universe, you being passive and saying, well, you know, it’ll all be care of and all shall be well, it’ll pass all.
Phil Goldberg (44m 36s):
That may be true. But at the same time, maybe it’ll things will be, well only if we make them well,
Christine Okezie (44m 45s):
You, you have a beautiful quote in the book, and I just want to share it on the show. And it says, you say, I think today’s world is asking us not just to wake up spiritually, but also to wise up and show up.
Phil Goldberg (44m 59s):
Yeah. Yeah. There’s a lot, a lot of people have different variations on that. Grow up, show up, stand up, you know, but yes, I think it’s true. And as I, people who are developing spiritually who have a bigger awareness who have a deep connection to the larger forces of life who have a measure of inner peace who have more compassionate than they, than they might have before, who are capable of love, but we need those people to be thinking about how they can contribute to the larger community when I call sacred citizenship, because, you know, and, and not everybody is a social activist, you know, obviously that’s not the case, not everybody is, you know, some people just want to live a good life, but yes, but you know, once in a while, think about your neighbor, think about, you know, somebody who might need something because doing something for others, doing something of service is something every spiritual tradition has us do.
Phil Goldberg (46m 20s):
And it not only makes the world a better place. If we all can, you know, do something to help others. But the act of doing some service is also a spiritual practice. And it helps us. There’s a tremendous amount of research on people who do volunteer work, people who devote some of their time and energy to helping others. They’re healthier. They get sick less often. They are less prone to anxiety and depression. Wow. They live longer because there’s something healing and nurturing about stepping out of our selfishness and our egos and doing something that connects us in a, in a compassionate and kind way to other human beings.
Phil Goldberg (47m 13s):
And, you know, it doesn’t mean you have to become mother to race them or martyr yourself. It just means, you know, every once in a while, I’ll give, give thought to that. Is there something I can do? Can I go serve food in a food once a week, whatever it is. And, but even that act of you’re, you’re seeing a tragedy unfold on television, you know, wildfires or, you know, famine or whatever it is. And your heart goes out, feeling that compassion, feeling that empathy. That’s a spiritual practice.
Christine Okezie (47m 52s):
Thank you. Absolutely. Thank you. Yeah. For sharing that. Yeah. So everything is spiritual in
Phil Goldberg (47m 60s):
If you make it. So yeah.
Christine Okezie (48m 3s):
The shift into that, to that space. Thank you so much. Okay. So Phil, where can folks get your book right now?
Phil Goldberg (48m 13s):
The usual suspects, et cetera, bookstores that are closed, but online. Yeah. All the usual online sources and whatever, you know, if bookstores are open where you are, but yeah, that and my previous books are all online. My website is Philip goldberg.com. So there, and then of course there’s links there to all my books.
Christine Okezie (48m 42s):
I’ll put all the links there for your blog. You wrote, you write some wonderful pieces for health and spirituality and elephant journal. And, you know, I think the biggest takeaway that folks are going to get is, you know, spirituality is sure it’s, you know, millennia old, but it is so alive and well and essential for these modern times.
Phil Goldberg (49m 8s):
Yes, indeed. And practical
Christine Okezie (49m 10s):
So thank you so much. And it’s been a gift to have you here and keep doing the beautiful work in the world that you’re doing. You’re an inspiration.
Phil Goldberg (49m 19s):
Thank you, Christine. You too. Keep up the good work.
Christine Okezie (49m 22s):
Thank you. Take care. Bye bye.