Ali Jafarian

Experiencing Simplification with Eric Turnnessen

Episode Number 003
Duration 54 min

This is an awesome episode where Eric shares his unique and simplified approach to experiencing life. We uncover how this relates to business, hobbies, meditation and starting new things. Eric is a deep thinker who brings amazing insights around identity, self examination and spirituality. I hope you enjoy his overall philosophy around simplification as much as I did.

Guest details
Eric Turnnessen - Entrepreneur
Eric Turnnessen

https://ericashish.com

Transcript

[00:00:00] Ali: Hello folks. We are back with a new show. My good friend, Eric Turnnessen. I've known Eric for almost 10 years now. He has been a friend, a mentor in many ways. He's actually been a huge inspiration for me, even starting to podcast. We actually moved this up. I was going to procrastinate and he said, Nope, we need to do it now.

Now is the time. And I took that as a healthy nudge, and we are where we are. And I'm super pumped to have a conversation with you, Eric. How would you like to introduce yourself?

[00:00:36] Eric: My name's Eric Turnnessen. Ali and I know each other because I'm the founder of a MemberMouse. Also I'm a composer interested in music. I do a lot of meditation. Just recently getting into a lot of car camping, doing some whittling with wood. I own an Australian shepherd. Uh, I think that's some of it.

[00:01:03] Ali: I love it. That's a lot of it. And it actually segues into what we're going to talk about, which is the golden question on this show, what are you currently pursuing Eric?

And it sounds like you just kind of gave us a preview of some of those things, but yeah. Take that wherever you want. What's in focus? How do you respond to that question?

[00:01:23] Eric: Yeah. So, what I'm pursuing in a momentary sense is very much, I would say. It's simple. It's almost mundane to just talk about it, but, you know, I mean the car camping thing is, is definitely forefront for me right now.

I'm on the road right now. I'm usually in Florida, but I'm up in Connecticut. I've been on the road for a week and a half now. But I think the way that I'm approaching it and some of the things that I'm learning are things that I did in my own business. Like this process of refinement.

Getting on the road, going where I need to go, identifying and tuning into things that could be better, but also having the balance of do I really need that? Does that really necessarily like keeping an eye on making sure not to carry more than I need to, which is really a lot of the things that I do in my business as well. And other areas of my life.

You know, checking in with what my desires are, are they necessary? And what's the reason for it. So in a sense, it's kind of like a culmination of a lot of lessons I've learned over the years in terms of applying it to this. And the benefit for me is being light, traveling light, not having a lot of things that I need to keep tabs on and carry around me.

So there's a lot around that in my life right now. In terms of some hobbies that I'm kind of starting, I'm starting to learn how to widdle carved spoons. So it's a whole brand new thing for me. Which again is also a fun thing to do. There's a lot of things in terms of jumping into new projects where, I come at it from a very different perspective.

Now having kind of gone the whole path of starting with something, hitting all the obstacles and getting through them and continuing on a journey and getting to a place of expertise and experience. Now starting it over again with something else where I'm completely a newbie at something, There's definitely a benefit that that experience brings to the table to help remind me in those early stages.

Like you, you definitely don't know what you're doing, so don't worry about it like, and a consistent practice. So it's cool to be at a point where after building a business for 12 years and achieving a certain goal, in terms of where I spend my time and things, cause don't the reason I can do these things that I'm talking about focusing on in pursuit of is because, I've allowed myself to get to a point in the business where this is possible. And I think there's an interesting sidetrack you could take on the reason why that word allow is important. Because, I think there is a point where you have to allow it to happen because there's a crossroad when you get success.

You can continue to go in a path where you just get busier and busier cause you have to adopt the identity to get to that point. You have to really immerse yourself in the project. And then if you want to, you have to re identify yourself. It's in a sense to kind of like shift out of it.

So you have to, in a sense, let go of the identity that got you to the point of success in a way. And so, there were some years where that was a process for me and that would have been what I was in pursuit of if we had talked then. So yeah, that's the overview.

[00:05:01] Ali: That's awesome. So I have to, in real time process some of this and decide three or four very distinct things there. I'm going to just lay this out and then let you decide which one you feel more inclined to go deeper on. What I first heard was that you started applying some things, some concepts and constructs you learned in business to your personal life.

It sounded like you took away some good learnings. You're like, I'm gonna apply these here the way I live, et cetera. And then later discussed how after building a successful business for over a decade, you now have that freedom. Not everyone has that freedom, which we know. We could talk about that if we choose to.

But the other things that really pique my interest is that you talked about simplification, and this is something that's come up in our previous dialogues. So I think that would be cool to just go deeper around. And also you talked about identity and that in itself, identity at large identity who we are as entrepreneurs, identity who we are as family men. That is it.

[00:06:07] Eric: Yeah, well, I think there's a really tight relationship between that and simplification. And to me, the thing that ties them together is presence. Cause it's really about, are we really attached to an identity? The more that we're attached to an identity, the more that we acquire things in association without identity, whether it's physical things, ideals, activities, habits, et cetera. So simplification at a deeper level to me is about releasing those tight identifications with the role, then I think naturally flexibility is something that comes out of that.

And these other things come into play whenever they enter in, like, if you're interested in something, you want to do it, when you talk about how I approach the car camping or the carving with spoons with, with certain things that I've learned, it's not necessarily that I approached them with that.

It's just that when I'm going through that, based on the fact that I have experienced and observing myself going through it, I see how approaching them differently based on the fact that I have experience with seeing something from the start to the finish in a way. And it relieves pressure for me to see the things that I do, because I think especially in business and maybe it's not, especially in business, maybe it's just generally this way, but I talk to people a lot about business.

There is this forgetfulness that, when you start a project that you should be somewhere that's somebody who's been doing it for 10 years is. So there's this pressure that people can put on themselves that, oh, I want this, I want what that person has and why don't I have it now? And then there's all this stress.

But because I've been through the whole process and realize that that's not necessary and there's no possible way you can get somewhere, you have to take the journey yourself. Now that I'm starting new journeys, I know that being clumsy is part of the process. It's the only way to get to any sort of level of proficiency. So I just have a different perspective on it.

[00:08:28] Ali: I love that, and I'm just going to bring a little bit of myself into this because I feel like that's when you and I have such meaningful conversations. I too have felt a lot of projected identity around who I'm supposed to be and what I'm chasing. Right. It's actually a big reason why I wanted to start this podcast and name it the pursuit of something.

So I can check, what am I pursuing? What are the people that I enjoy spending time with or aspire to pursuing? And why, right? That three letter word plagues me sometimes because I've done a lot of personal work around it. And sometimes I get stuck in loops. Other times I get moments of clarity. But the easiest way I can describe my journey as it kind of aligns with yours is that for many, many years, I just was very fabricated identity of, I need to be the successful entrepreneur.

This is how I can get there. And then I started getting more logical about it, cause it used to just be this dream fantasy and then it kind of started coming true. And then I started getting logical and tactical and hiring mentors, coaches getting part of masterminds, et cetera. And like a lot of people go through this.

It's proven. It's actually kind of a form of societal programming. Like if you really want to wisen up there's ways to get there faster and to do things that other people have done. And what I heard you mentioned, which I think is really important is a lot of people, especially in business get on that path.

They're like, oh, that's Eric, he's a founder member mouse. He's doing that thing I want just like that. Right. And so boom, there it is. There's the projected identity without any real personal awareness of like, is that really what I want? Or do I just want what I think I see. And then you get into this, right?

[00:10:03] Eric: And then even if you're successful now, is that you, or is that where you were successful at becoming coming someone else?

[00:10:11] Ali: Precisely. And then now we get into like, how do we define success? Because what I've become really intentional about as of late is when I'm starting to grip onto an identity, letting go of it for a second and being like, wait a second, what is this all about? Where did it come from?

Because usually when you start asking why multiple times you get to something you're like, ah, It's either rooted in fear security approval. These are three very easy things to tie most human behavioral attachments to, right? It's either for like security or it's for approval, which is like, you know, identity validation in the world, or it's for control.

Like you just, for some reason, want to control the situations and then there's, there's other various reasons. But I think that that's really interesting that you've become very aware of it. Because one of the things that I recognized about you and why I think we have such fluid conversations and I really do admire the way that you've run your business is that you don't do things just because other people do them.

In fact, I often catch you really playing strong devil's advocate, like why would we be. Like wait a second. Like what does Eric and team, or MemberMouse really need? And so I think that that's a honorable and almost lost trait today because it's so easy for people to just be like, oh, let's just do what they're doing.

Or they want that. And where I get really animated and why I have very strict boundaries around use of social media is like, that's the fastest trap. You just open up Instagram and you see all these pictures and these projections and people sharing things. And then it gets into your mind and regardless of how disciplined you are, I still find myself falling in some of these traps going, oh, I want that now.

And like, I never ever had that, that want, and I've got a personal contract that I'm battling because I saw a picture on Instagram. You see what I'm saying?

[00:12:10] Eric: Yeah. And the thing is, it doesn't go away. They're part of human characteristics. You know, so I think, uh, another thing that I'm in pursuit of is kind of a way of looking at and experiencing life that is probably the opposite of the way that I've done most of my life.

So I think the traditional way, the conventional way to go through to life and experience it, which is, you know, mostly how I do it anyway is you see things, uh, you experience things through the senses. You look at external happenings, what people are saying, what people are writing, what people are doing.

And then you take that as the first level of information, of the truth. And then you make any assumptions based on that. Any conclusions based on that. But for me, in practice, it's been a lot more accurate for me to tune into subtler things. Energetic things.

[00:13:11] Ali: Quick examples since you're talking about this. I also loved the thought, like the concepts of energy and feeling into them. So it could be simple.

[00:13:19] Eric: It comes down to that question why in a way. It's like, well, why is this happening right now? So, let's just say this, why is this happening right now? And then, you know, the, the conventional answers have something to do with some sort of logical path. Because of this led to that, because that led to the other thing, et cetera.

And while there is some truth in that, there's a lot of traps in seeing that as the only way to look at things I find. It was very restrictive in any event.

[00:13:48] Ali: Well, just to be clear, it's restrictive to accept things as energy and say, this is just, this is it. This is, or the opposite to non-restrictive to just see things on the surface. Okay. Got it. Got it.

[00:14:03] Eric: Cause a lot of the times what's happening isn't really, it isn't really about what is perceived. So it's just another angle. It provides another facet of a way to look at things because this is really complicated to talk about.

[00:14:22] Ali: It's fine. We're here. That's why we're here.

[00:14:25] Eric: It's the whole point it's really complicated to talk about because even if I was effective at talking. What I'm what I'm talking about in the way that somebody proceeds, what I'm talking about is in fact, the thing that I'm saying is actually the thing that.

[00:14:41] Ali: I see. So, and so let me add to this and you can confirm if I'm on the same parallel with what you're describing is that one way I've heard this stated is that we all have filters, right? We have mental filters as we're talking right now, you and I having this conversation, and as I'm listening, there's a certain speed that I can comprehend what's coming out of your mouth and then process my mind and then I'm filtering it.

So the way what you're saying and what I'm filtering are not the exact same thing, right. It couldn't be. And so I think what you're saying is that you're trying to explain something that is quite complex. And in essence, the way that I, and everyone who decides to listen to this filters, that is going to be.

[00:15:25] Eric: Actually, it, it's not that it's complex. That that's very simple.

[00:15:29] Ali: Okay. Okay.

[00:15:31] Eric: Here's a good way to put it. It's basically the difference between only living life based on information and the processing of information or experiencing life.

[00:15:40] Ali: Okay. Got it.

[00:15:41] Eric: Right. Cause there's, so it's like the difference between going on a walk and experiencing what it's like to be on a walk and writing a book about being on a walk.

Right. And just reading the book about being on a walk. Right. And, so that I constantly try to remind myself to be experiential, I think is probably a better way to put it things. Because the mind when it thinks about things and tries to determine based on information, which is useful in a lot of circumstances to do that.

But if that's always happening in all circumstances, there's a certain low to mid to high level neuroses that happens as a result of that, which then gets this feedback loop, which then creates an identity and a personality. And then that becomes a baseline and then it repeats again. And then there's another baseline, you know, forever and ever.

So it's just a path of complexity versus simplification. So simplification to me is exercise and a practice of letting go. It's not a destination. That's something I kind of check in with myself on constantly.

[00:16:55] Ali: Totally. Yeah. I recognize that. I see that. And you actually remind me of years ago, one of my good friends who you also know, Kyle told me about a Yogi philosophy, which has actually become a minority lifestyle and it's called a hundred something where people practice living with 100 material things. I bet you're close to that.

[00:17:22] Eric: That's a yoga lifestyle. I mean, they, if they're over five, they're probably not really a Yogi, but yeah, I get it.

[00:17:32] Ali: Yeah, because you're probably pretty close to that. You don't have that many material things, especially as you're aspiring more onto this pursuit of simplification.

[00:17:41] Eric: Well, I mean, I don't know how many things I have, but I certainly have less than I used to. And I wouldn't necessarily myself make it about a number. Cause again, anything when you're trying to do these things, as soon as you try to grasp it, it's like in the doubt of Ching, one of my favorite, things that he talks about in there is you can create a container for water to hold it, but you can't grasp it.

You try to grasp it. It eludes your grass constantly, but if you create a container, then you can hold it. So to me, that's what this is about. Any yoga philosophy or any Buddhist philosophy, really, as soon as it becomes like some sort of fixed thing, like, if you can say, I'm going to crush this, I'm going to do this. I'm going to do the a hundred item thing.

Well now you miss the point. Now the point has been missed because you're trying to grasp it and it becomes more pursuit of the mind again. Because ultimately, there are yogis and there are spiritual people in saints. You know, it's not just about the Indian traditions and all traditions who have a lot of wealth, a lot of physical wealth.

It has nothing to do with whether somebody has physical wealth or not, because there's a lot of people who are poor, who are very spiritual. And there are a lot of people are rich who are also spiritual and vice versa. And I think in the autobiography of a Yogi, Yoganonda asked his guru one time, about, there was a same two as married and had had children and things.

And of course, you know, one of the things in the true yoga path is brought Macharia, which is abstinence. And of course, obviously it'd be kids you skip that one. So, one of the responses was something like, God makes his saints in many shapes, less, you try to pin God down to a rule.

And that's the thing the mind is always trying to do. It's trying to look for patterns is trying to understand how I get from here to there, which usually means looking at other people how they've done it. Right. And then extrapolating, which is a survival mechanism. And it's great. It's how we succeed. It's how we survive. So necessary. But it's just another way to do things.

[00:19:52] Ali: Do you think, because since I'm on a V on a similar journey of simplification and have been for the last several years in my wife, we've, de-cluttered our house, we've simplified a lot of things and going against societal programming. Do you think we, and I'll just categorize as both in a similar bucket do that because we came from complexity?

[00:20:17] Eric: Well, I don't know why you guys are doing it, but why it's coming to me is not necessarily because it's against something else. It's not because I'm rebelling against something. I think it's really just a natural result of a lot of meditation practice. Cause it kind of restructures things from the inside out. That's another way of looking at what I'm talking about.

If you want to make modifications to life, there's a huge industry of self-help. You go buy books, you accumulate ideas, you accumulate other philosophies and then you apply them to your life. Right. But to me that's not really true transformation. You're just choosing with your own personality and who you are, what passes through your filters.

[00:21:10] Ali: Your bunch of prescriptions, you're selecting a bunch of prescriptions.

[00:21:13] Eric: And they're all being basically being done according to your current filters. But the thing about meditation is really about self destruction, it's ego death. So when you practice that on an ongoing basis, over time you experience places that are beyond yourself.

And as a result of that, things start trying to be rewired. And I think it's common to hear the saying about the world being a reflection of yourself and you create your own reality, this kind of thing. My experience is that's definitely true.

But again, if you listen to that statement and you accept it as a belief, rather than coming to it as a result of personal experience, it doesn't really mean that it's understood what's being, what's being talked about the whole thing. And you find these things all over the place in the spiritual teachings, like the finger pointing at the moon.

Again, it's none of the true spiritual teachings can be grasped and understood by the mine. I think the economic theory says that true spirituality stops where the intellect ends. Gotcha. So the point being that if there's some thought process, It has nothing to do with spirituality.

Spirituality can only be experienced. It's the same as like, if you want to taste something, if you want to taste the food, you can be a PhD on what something tastes like, tasted it, but the child can eat an apple and know infinitely more than you. They may not be able to express it, but they actually have tasted the truth.

And so that's the distinction. So for me, simplification is just a by-product. It just happens. Naturally, as aspects of my personality get refined through, dying every day, in a sense. That's one of Christ's disciples so that you choose to die every day. That's about meditation, true meditation. Now, that's a whole different conversation. So anyway.

[00:23:25] Ali: I like it and in somewhat similar fashion, the reason I threw out the idea of complexity being sort of the impetus for my journey towards simplification is that I found that what I was seeking and I'm still seeking on many days is peace.

And that's what simplifying gives me. I have nowhere near the investment in meditation as you do, but I'm currently in a 30 day challenge with some really good friends. And we are slowly accumulating, starting at five minutes and getting up to at least 30 minutes. That's our goal. Because we just want to prove to ourselves and have some healthy accountability that we can sit in silence every day and I've been doing it every morning. I'm a midway through right now. And there's this resistance to even doing it, which gets easier as I practice more and more and more.

Whereas now it's like, Hey, it's just part of the routine. And it does in fact bring me peace. Whereas normally I'd get up and just start tackling things, whether it's playing with my son or making breakfast or getting into some work, like I would just go, go, go. Whereas there's more balance in my day when I start, I spend in at this point, 17 minutes in meditation, I cleared things out.

I accumulate peace and why that was so helpful for me at this stage in life, is that for awhile I thought I was seeking happiness and I wasn't. I actually learned from another guy named that I've read and listened to some of his prescriptions, which have been very applicable to some of the things I'm trying to achieve.

And he stated it very well. He's like a lot of people think they want happiness, whereas they might actually just want peace. And that was very true to me is I just wanted some more peace.

[00:25:15] Eric: Yeah. Because happiness can always be a moving target. Like only if I had a hundred dollars, I'd be happy. And then you get a hundred dollars.

Well, only if I had a thousand, it'd be happy.

[00:25:25] Ali: And then precisely it's a game. I think happiness is very much a game. A conversation I've been having with a lot of people recently, I don't know if it's cause of the pandemic, but just the fluctuation of the world at present is if you're going to play the game of happiness, you have to understand both sides. You have to understand the rollercoaster model that it can't always be great. And I found it easier again with, kind of the attainment of more regular peace to know to not get too excited when I'm like super happy, like, Hey, there is a, a resulting downturn.

And then that way, when you do go down and you're in more intense periods of suffering or pain or fear, you have a better grasp say, Hey, it's going to turn around this, this too shall pass. Right. But it's a game. I think it's a game very much. Other people have coined as the pleasure wheel, it's kind of a proven psychological model. Like you'll be on that thing for your entire life.

[00:26:24] Eric: And the thing is there's no avoiding it. No. And it goes, as long as we're alive, there is, there are the fluctuations. So. I guess there could be two main strategies. One is to try and make it so that I'm always on the pleasurable fluctuation, whatever that means to somebody. Or to become equanimous with whether it's pleasurable or unpleasurable, which in a sense that means there is no concept of pleasure or for not pleasure.

It's just everything's more equivalent. My experience is that there is no happiness or sadness. It's just that it's, it's more balanced. The extremes are less like, so as opposed to being like high ups and low downs, it's more of like, oh little ups and little downs.

And so it's like imagining the weather and the ocean, you know. Small waves versus big waves. You know, some amount of waves are going to be happening. So it's really about how we manage our relationship with the waves. And the meditation practice, coming into stillness and peace generally is it's a lack of desire.

Right? Cause the thing that, the mind is the thing that wants to get going, start accomplishing, start doing, start getting somewhere. And yes, it is challenging to restrain it and sit. And that doesn't really go away. Right? That's just the nature of the mind. It wants to do those things and that's its function.

So it does take a significant willpower and energy to reign it in just like a child. You know, if you want them to not do something, it takes some skill and restraint in terms of working with them to, you know, subdue it.

[00:28:15] Ali: That is the truth coming from someone who has a three and a five-year-old there, that's, that's a whole different game that I played daily. And what's fascinating in my personal life is, again, this is actually in focus is that I see the exact same pleasure wheel concept in my son who's five. My daughter, not so much, but he's understanding boredom and the need to be entertained or just to keep his mind stimulated. And it's funny, because at first I was very resistant to it and I was like, I got to fix this.

Right. I want him to hear all mode. I got to fix this, but then. Wait a second. This is your DNA. Where do you think this came from? And so now I'm just kind of observing and in some ways, trying to nurture it, cause I don't want to change him. Right. I just want to see where it leads him. But you just really reminded me of that because it's one thing for us, you know?

And then it's another thing for children who have, just a pure sense of the world, especially at three and five years old, but it's not that different. Is it? He's on the same thing, dad let's play this dad, do you want to do this dad? He literally asked me what's for dinner tomorrow. And I'm just my wife and I just laugh. I'm like, why are you worried about what we're going to eat for dinner tomorrow? Like we have any dinner tonight. So it's like, there's something there where he starts planning.

One of the things I wanted to ask you about because it came up in one of our very recent conversations and it relates to your current journey is land. You mentioned wanting to acquire some land. Is that in focus or not quite yet? Like, are you pursuing that?

[00:29:51] Eric: It's not, it hasn't evolved into a catsuit, like the way that I experienced things and, look at things is, um, ideas and thoughts take different forms in my life.

So it may come in as an idea and I might think it's a good idea and I might, I may enjoy, imagining it or dreaming about it or doing some research. But in a sense that can in and of itself that exercise can, scratch the itch. And it's just like, okay, Ultimately, I don't know what things are about until it goes forward.

It's a tricky thing. Like, the thing about not having necessarily a fixed identity or if I have anything to say about it is to not grasp, hold on to things that even come into my head from myself, you know, thoughts that come into my head. So in the past I might've been more, impulsive if I got interested in something or I was whatever I would just go, I would just go do it or whatever, and, have to bring it into the physical world in the sense of like walking somewhere or going somewhere, doing something.

In a lot of ways, some of the desires that come to me that I might want to do, I can satisfy by just thinking about it a little bit, and then it's done. So who knows at this point, I don't know where that's going to go. But, you asked earlier, you know, the interesting thing about pursuit is the why of it.

And, you know, I think the why of all of these things, whether it's the the car camping or the theme for me that I perceive right now is like kind of untethering, pulling up the anchor setting, sail and just seeing where things take me. Cause I really don't have plans, so it's a nice exercise, you know, to just wake up and not have plans and see where things go.

And to see what kind of, quote unquote downside comes from that too. Cause, you know, I definitely like being in a house and having that sort of foundation. But if I'm there too long for, then, it helps to have that alternate perspective and to just allow things to happen in a more fluid way.

[00:32:13] Ali: Definitely. Yeah, cause you used to have the sweet spot in New Mexico, which I was jealous of by the way. I don't know if I told you that. And uh, that was a situation where you were a bit more grounded, whereas what has been like a year since you've been car camping.

[00:32:29] Eric: I mean, I wasn't. I was doing a lot of traveling even when I was living there.

[00:32:32] Ali: Gotcha.

[00:32:33] Eric: I mean the, the car camping thing has evolved. It's been a number of years and it's just a constant evolution. And at the same time, it's also a simplification. To the point now where it's almost like, it's my house. You know, like I've got a fridge and the kitchen and everything in a Subaru Outback. So small space. So it's just, um, you know, it's a fun exercise for me.

[00:33:02] Ali: It's awesome. Not to label it, but it represents a more nomadic way of living, which is actually how, when you start to research the human species, you learn that like, I think it was like 10,000 years ago and I don't want to be historically correct.

Some if you're a historian by all means, give me some grace here, but I know it was around 10,000 years ago where this is when we started forming communities. Meaning like humans were nomadic. They, they travel around they'd hunt. They were hunter and gatherers. And then at some point we realized that, oh, we can grow things to nourish ourselves and feed ourselves.

Right. Which is what started the first community. Cause. Eric just planted vegetables. Now someone needs to watch them and water them. And then someone else at Gaia Lee, you need to protect them. Right. And then someone else at some point is coming in here with the meat and they want to trade. So you need this to decide how we're going to barter.

And this is exactly how primitive civilizations rose. It's why we have towns now. And what's interesting about it, Eric, when at least my perspective is like a lot of it's about convenience. Like there's no reason we can't go back to being nomadic and hunt for things like.

[00:34:12] Eric: Well, yeah, I agree with you. And at the same time, there's a lot of benefits to the convenience because the really true, you know, you think about Maslov's hierarchy of needs, right? If you're thinking about survival, you're not thinking about meditation, right. They're really the convenience and the communities and the things like I'm definitely not against those things myself.

They're necessary in order for us all, to help each other, to kind of raise up our possibilities. But if everybody's fending for themselves, then everybody has to do everything. But the thing is like, it's, it's gotten into this really interesting convoluted thing. Even though we have community, we're still in our survival mode because everybody needs to have their thing of everything.

Again, it's tricky to talk about because that's not how I see it. I see it more holistically as you can point to it, by talking about certain things that are happening in certain things that are being perceived. But it's really not that complex to me, it's a lot simpler.

And things just are the way they are basically. And there's infinite perspectives that can be taken on it, but do I want to spend my life making perspectives on things? Or just, you know, see what happens, right. For me, you know, and yeah, cool.

[00:35:31] Ali: I dig it. Anything else we didn't hit on just as it relates to?

Well, 1 thing we can quickly chat around that you mentioned, cause you talked about doing a little bit of woodcarving, which is awesome. And what really struck out to me about that as you reminded us, that when you get into something brand new, there's this learning, right. And I think some people dig it others don't they're like, oh no, no, no, no, no, I'm not.

That's outside my comfort zone. I'm not trying to start from zero again. Whereas there is so much growth through discomfort, through some suffering and being like, ah, I got to start this over. I've actually found, as an example, that when I was younger, I was very in tune with like, alright, got this thing, I'm going to follow it instructions.

I'm gonna understand it, master it, know how to pull it apart, pull it back together. And for whatever reason, which is probably why I'm trying to attain more peace in my life is that now I have resistance to this and less patience, like, I kind of just want to get in and go. You mentioned impulse. I've been guilty of making impulsive decisions.

And so I'm curious as you've taken on something brand new like that, how does it feel? Is the learning exhilarating and it's new growth or what have you navigated there?

[00:36:52] Eric: Yeah, it's just like a, kind of like an out of body experience in terms of like, it's a very childlike experience.

You feel very clumsy. And to use certain terms, if there's an inner critic that is strong, then it will feel very uncomfortable to be in that position of perceived weakness, you know? And that may be the thing that then keeps you from doing it. And, I think it's just our internal landscapes are just very interesting to explore and there's no blanket way to look at it.

Each person has to do it for themselves because just like a child, every child has their own personality. It can be helpful to read books about parenting, but you have to also get to know the unique aspects of the child themselves.

[00:37:42] Ali: A hundred percent.

[00:37:42] Eric: And so same with us. We can read books about how we can get to know ourselves, but ultimately each of us internally is unique, just like a child. And so it's building that relationship. Like, what are my, how do I trick myself? What's good for me. What's not good for me, you know? And you know, not being too oppressive, but not being too, allowing, you know. It's just these balances to strike within ourselves and everybody has a different place they're starting from.

But I think if somebody is in a place where they can't start something and I've met people like this, you know, they constantly talk about doing projects, but then, they never get past the talking stage.

Um, I feel that's a little bit unfortunate because there is a fear of there. Yeah. The only reason that's not happening is because of some fear, some. That's coming from some conditioning that they got somewhere. And it's unfortunate because life is about exploration and part of exploration is the unknown.

That's the whole thing that makes exploration good. And I think a lot of the things that, you know, we talk about comfort and convenience. It's gotten to the point of kind of ridiculousness where all these comfort and conveniences are basically just keeping us from, um, like we're trying to create a sense of security, like you were saying earlier.

Which of course is false. There's no security, we're all gonna die. So that's certain, but we're, we're trying to like act as if, oh, if I do this thing, if I have all these things set up, it's never gonna happen. Um, and it builds a prison.

You know, we build our own prisons and there's no way unless you see it directly within yourself by creating some sort of practice where you're looking within. And it doesn't need to look like a standard meditation. There's no right way to meditate. But there needs to be some sort of choice to start not looking at what's around, but looking at what's going on inside.

And I think in the beginning that doesn't even make sense. What does that even mean to look inside? And that's the whole point. That's the question to answer. That's the thing to build a relationship with because it's an ever evolving answer to that question. What is inside it? And it's never static.

So, anyway.

[00:40:19] Ali: No, you can't anyway that. That's deep stuff because you mentioned death. One of the books I'm reading right now talks about samurai way. And whew, they're intriguing. The reason that it stuck out is because they're trained early on, at least part of their training and their mental model is having discipline where like they are ready to die and not like kamikaze terrorists, but just like they're at peace. Dying is just as honorable as living.

And so back to your point, In a way, this liberates them from this innate fear that, oh, I got to do all these things to achieve happiness because someday I'm going to die there, like I could die tomorrow. And I'm at peace with that because I'm doing right I'm on this path.

That death is equally as honorable and fulfilling as life. And I just thought, I was like, wow, that's really fascinating. Most people will never inherit that mentality because death is just a scary thing by nature, I suppose. But imagine how liberated you would be if you're like.

[00:41:19] Eric: I don't know if it's scary by nature. I think it's scary culture. I mean, I think it's more because people are, there's such a taboo about it. I can only reflect on our culture because I don't know how other cultures. Certainly in India it's different, but I don't know how people grow up in how they respond differently day to day because of that.

But it's just a taboo thing and therefore, anything that's like restricted, there becomes a fear about it, but it's not necessarily about the thing itself because nobody knows what death is. Right. The thing that's being made fearful of is the idea of it. Exactly. And what's been created around it. Because really it's, in some ways it's, it's better than living.

Right. Cause at that point you're just peaceful. Right. So it's nothing to worry about. It's not something to look forward to. It's not something to push away it's going to happen. But yeah, it's just weird to trade life because of fear of something that's not here. But that's ultimately, very hard not to do.

Yeah. You know, that's why some sort of practice is important, because it's so easy to be outward and active in our modern world. And those are all beautiful things and it's, it's lovely to be engaged, be part of communities and do all the work and create and all this.

But, nature knows how to be imbalanced. So it's about taking a cue from nature and being imbalanced.

[00:43:00] Ali: Well said. I want to throw a curve ball, fun question at you. As we start to wrap up this conversation, I have a little list here. I'm just going to pick one I think you might enjoy or not enjoy. I'm just going to pick one. What animal are you most scared of and why? You can't say you're not scared of any animals cause okay.

[00:43:27] Eric: Um, I think most recently it would be bears. Yeah. Because that's been top of mind. Cause I've actually been in situations where I was like 20 feet away from a bear or something recently. Yeah.

[00:43:44] Ali: And then I'd be a fast question that we need to know more about this.

[00:43:48] Eric: I was just on a hike and there was a bear and I walk past it. And luckily it did its own thing.

[00:43:56] Ali: Did you make eye contact with it?

[00:43:58] Eric: No, it was going the other way. But, I actually have any fear. I had a little bit of fear at that point, but after the fact, I was like, I should probably understand a little bit more about how to work with bears and things. So I read up on it and I was like, oh crap. I need to be aware of this.

I mean, a better question would be like, what is my biggest fear? Well, I'm going to tell you to say a bigger, a better, easier one for me to answer.

[00:44:30] Ali: Oh, you're saying that would be easier for you to answer. Interesting, because funny enough, when I was messing with my outline for these questions, I started typing that what's your biggest fear, but I thought I was like, this is going to be a podcast episode.

[00:44:44] Eric: And you know, so yeah, I'm open to that question, but you know, it's a, it's a pretty deep question.

[00:44:52] Ali: It's super, especially for eyes, someone might just say, oh, I'm scared of Heights and that's where it ends. But if you asked me what I'm scared of this, isn't going to be a two minute conversation and it's going to be something most people are like, oh wow, no idea.

So, yeah, but that's very cool about a bear. My quick response to that is that years ago, when I moved to Colorado, I went hiking alone with my dogs. I tell you this story. At one of my spots, we actually hiked there in evergreen when you and I hung out years ago, but we took a less traditional route.

It's the one that most people don't take. And this was right in amidst the season of when animals are active in that area. And I was just doing my thing with my two dogs and all of a sudden they stopped and look up and there's this moose, this female moose, same thing about 20 feet. I'm like, oh, cool. A moose.

And I keep walking. And next thing you know, the moose charges me. And to make a long story short, it charged me several times and each time it was coming right at me to threaten me, I would scream out of just sheer panic and being, you know, frightened and divert at the last second, go around and do it again.

So I got out of that situation because some other hikers came and scared it away, but it was very intense for me because I realized that, wow, this large animal is ready to attack. And later I did my research and, and I was like, oh, it was probably defending it's young because it's a mother.

And, it was just a perfect example of where, like, I just had no awareness. And luckily I was athletic and loud enough to get rid of it. But if it was somebody smaller they might've been toast that day. So it was a good lesson, like you said, when you're in a foreign environment, just to like at least do some basic.

[00:46:42] Eric: Yeah. Um, my perspective on animals is like no animals want to be aggressive. I mean, of course there's always personalities maybe, but basically if, if they feel like they need to do something, it's probably because I did something. Like, I was not aware of that I shouldn't have done, you know, like, so snakes and things like that.

I don't have an issue with these things. Cause I'm like, they're not going to mess with me unless I mess with them. Like when I, Santa Fe, there were a lot of rattlesnakes around there. And I actually walked right by one. I didn't realize until after I just walked by, it was like within a foot from me. It was just chilling. Right. Didn't do anything.

[00:47:24] Ali: Yeah. I'm with you. That's at least what I'm trying to demonstrate for my children's like, yo, the animals are just going to do their thing. There's very few animals that really want to hunt you. Right. And it's like, again, that balance, you have to have a respect.

[00:47:37] Eric: Yes. And you have to be alert, but not fearful. Right. Okay. Overtly, you know, to the point of panic. Cause they're not comfortable with that. Just like, we're not comfortable with people panicking and they're not comfortable with that either, but I've learned a lot from my dog about kind of vibes of that.

[00:47:57] Ali: Yeah. Dogs are great. You're right. And that's exactly what happened. They looked up and they were like, whoa, that's a huge animal in our vicinity. So yeah. I love it. Um, last thing instead of ask the traditional, like, Hey, where can people find you? Is there anything you want to share? And you want to pitch anything, want to sell?

I like to, to tee that up. I feel like we're all selling something most of the time. Sometimes it's ideas. Sometimes it's things that we want people to buy. Other times. It's just like we talked about approval validation. Is there anything you feel like sharing that is compelled to say, Hey, this is something that where people could learn more or et cetera.

[00:48:36] Eric: Selling. I mean, I think probably the biggest thing that I've been selling this whole time is, it's worth having some sort of practice where you sit with yourself each day. I, it's changed my life. But of course I would never push it on anybody. If it's meant for you, you know, and it'll just come. If it's not, now it may someday, so it's not something to worry about or stress out about. But it's just basically saying it's pretty legit. And so if there's a curiosity there, check it out.

[00:49:12] Ali: I already sold, but for people who aren't, I feel like you have a solid or at least what I perceive as a solid guidance around meditation. So how would you just tell someone who is like, it's new to them or they've thought about, but never done it, like how they could take action? Cause I feel like that that was a point of resistance for me for awhile. And I tried this thing. I tried that thing till starting to get more comfortable with my way of it, because I do feel like people need to find meditation their way and not just go. Right.

So what's your tip there? Do you have one?

[00:49:46] Eric: Yeah, I think, a really good place to start is in some activity. For example, in a way I started with tea ceremony. And it's something I can do on my own. It's active. So it keeps the mind engaged. So it's not so advanced where you're just, your eyes are closed and you're dealing with trying to deal with all your thoughts.

So there's things that you're doing. So any sort of like whittling could be a thing it's like some focused hobby doing a puzzle. So you can start this way because ultimately there are a lot of lessons that will come from that, that you don't have to seek and you don't have to try to learn.

They just will come. And the most important thing is consistency. Right? So, set out a plan, just like anything. Like if you want to work out and build muscle, you gotta do it X times a week. And. Consistency and commitment. You're doing it. You found a way and the strategy for you, which is, you have a group of people, you see you hold each other accountable.

Right. So part of even asking how can I start meditation is part of really starting to understand yourself? Because all of us have different tricks and things. Like accountability isn't an issue for me. I'm very, um, what's the word self-disciplined discipline. Right? So if I put my mind to something, I'll do it.

But not everybody's like that. So you understand that and you work to that weakness. Like in bowling, if I go to bowl and I try to get it down the center line and it's a little bit to the right, of where I want it to be, I just stepped to the left a little bit. Correct, correct.

Yes. It's, it's cheating in a way, but then we have to cheat in a L in a way in the beginning, kind of understand our weaknesses. A technique that is used in India with all children, as they grow up in households that are really spiritual and put a focus on this, is you always eat after your practices.

So you have that natural desire of hunger that drives you to get through your practices. Of course, you have to have the discipline to force that. Right. You know, that's another trick. But I would say starting with some like simple hobby that you can do, that doesn't take much thought at all to do. It's just something that keeps your awareness and attention focused on one thing. And do it consistently.

[00:52:12] Ali: I love that because it is foreign, especially if you have a very active mind, to go right into silence.

[00:52:19] Eric: Yeah. It's too much. It's just like when people say, oh, I'm going to work out at the gym every day on new year's and then they do it for a week and then they're done that doesn't do anything.

If you start, like you guys are doing with five minutes a day, you'll get to 30 automatically at some point, as long as you're consistent and committed. So if you do something where you're working on a puzzle or whatever, something focused, for a month, there will come a day when you naturally, you know, Hey, I just want to sit silently for five minutes and you'll close your eyes and you'll sit silently.

And then that will evolve. It'll take its own course. You know? So again, just like everything, if you want to start something don't try to run before you can walk, you know? No. You start off crawling and then you walk and then you run. So you have to be patient with yourself.

[00:53:09] Ali: Absolutely. Perfect advice to wrap things up. Well, thanks, man. I really appreciate you, Eric. This has been awesome as usual.

[00:53:18] Eric: I appreciate, and thanks for having me on. And let's talk again.

[00:53:23] Ali: Cool man. All right.


Ali Jafarian

Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.


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