Home Alone in Our Heads with Light Watkins

podcast Jun 12, 2020

Spending quality time with our own minds can be terrifying for our socially oriented species, and yet here we all are, home alone with thoughts for company. Fortunately, we have a technology for that (albeit an old one) — meditation. Today, meditation teacher Light Watkins shares his pragmatic approach to our modern, quarantined life.


Jeff: So, yeah, I'll just start with kind of who you are and what brought you to this place on this very day and we can go from there.

Light Watkins: Okay. So I am known I guess to the world as this meditation teacher and expert. I never really set out to become that. And it just really, it happened almost by happenstance and it was a process of following inspiration and to sort of celestial breadcrumbs that eventually I looked up and I was teaching meditation and turns out I was pretty good at it and a lot of people wanted to hear what I thought about it. And so now I do retreats and trainings and I write books and I talk about obviously meditation, but also inspiration and happiness because those are kind of tied into to the topic of meditation. And I'm really into the why of meditation. I mean, I know that how really well too, but now I think, now that meditation has becomes such an accepted form of finding balance, internal balance, I think it's really important to talk about the why.

Light Watkins: Because like anything else, in our culture, our Western culture, we have a tendency to sort of put these practices up on a pedestal and make these really big claims and people's, I think, real world experience can be quite different from what they were sort of sold and so I just like to... and then as a result they ended up letting themselves off the hook thinking, okay, well this for those people, not for people like me. So I like to bring it down off the pedestal and show people why it's as much for you as it is for anyone else. So that's kind of what my deal is.

Jeff: Yeah, that's interesting. And you're obviously incredibly relatable and I think that's one of your super powers, if you will. And so you bring the practice to a lot of people and you make it accessible. But on that, on that why front, I think it is interesting and I've been kind of poking at this lately a bit because there's a lot of, in the name of creating sort of a bigger tent for meditation, there's a lot of effort, it's sort of demystifying it of like, oh well this is going to help you at work or this is going to help you focus and optimal performance and kind of some of making life more logistically and all of that is completely true.

Jeff: But I wonder if in your why, you ask yourself is it in everyone's best interest to demystify it or maybe remystify it. Because what I sometimes come to is that the reason that this practice emerged 2,500, 3000 years ago, whatever you want to say, was potentially more mystical. It was about kind of separating oneself from desire and craving to reach a higher plane of consciousness, I suppose. And I wonder how you feel about that and how that relates to your teaching, kind of the demystification of it or potentially the remystification of it.

Light Watkins: That's interesting to make that distinction because I think now that I think about it, a lot of my teaching and marketing of what I do is definitely geared towards the demystification and the sort of Western productivity inclined angles so that, because that's what people are looking for essentially. But I'm also very well aware that that had nothing to do with the original purpose of meditation. Essentially making more money, it's not really why people originally started meditating. But they were interested in wealth, it's just a different kind of wealth. There's a wealth of connection, a wealth of self realization. And so I think humans inherently are seeking abundance. It's just a matter of what sort of abundance they value, what the currency is that they value. And with us in our culture, money obviously is one of the top currencies.

Light Watkins: But in the traditions that brought us meditation, it was feeling a sense of connection with that aspect of creation that they call Oneness or Samadhi or Nirvana or Christ consciousness. And being able to tap into that on a regular basis. Why? Because it feels good. Just like we have this idea that if I make a lot of money I'll be able to get a bigger place and a nicer car and more attractive people hanging out with me and we have this idea that that's going to feel better than where wherever we are right now. And so in a way, money has become sort of our guru if we're being honest with ourselves about it. We make a lot of decisions and prioritize a lot of things that aren't necessarily keeping us more balanced and aligned in life because we placed such a high value on all the things that money can buy.

Light Watkins: And we've kind of painted ourselves into a corner in our sort of capitalist society where we have to, no matter how spiritual of a person you are, if you are a regular household or you kind of have to go out there and hunt because you're only going to get what you catch. And we're not a very sort of... our sense of altruism is, let me make a lot of money first, then I'll give the money away. There's not a lot of people who are thinking, okay, I'm working at McDonald's, let me see how much I can give away while I'm working here because I know that that's going to feed into this idea of abundance and I'm truly above it. Like that conversation, it may be happening here and there very sporadically, but it's definitely not a part of the main narrative of our society.

Jeff: It's funny the kind of Tom Steyer approach that you just outlined of like, okay I accumulate great wealth for the purposes of philanthropy or giving it away. And it ties in very much to sort of the egoic mind sort of obsession with the future of like if only I can achieve this fill in the blank kind of success that capitalism, modern society, con consumerism, whatever you name it, posits or put forth. As long as I can get that, well then I'll have a sense of contentment in the now. But of course that always exists in the future and all of those pleasantries, even if they are achieved, are ephemeral versus a kind of permanent that one can find in the now or in the contentment that is associated with the now that can be unlocked through this simple practice.

Light Watkins: Yeah, I mean if we just run the experiment with ourselves, like if you, wherever you are right now, whatever you had, whatever you've acquired or whatever you've achieved, right. Look at your baseline level of happiness right now and your sense of contentedness right now. And if there's some tension in there and some friction in there and some longing for something else other than what you're currently experiencing right now, what makes you think it's going to be any different in the future? You have to practice that. You have to cultivate that content and it's just like you would cultivate a garden. And one of the sayings from the Vedas, which is where meditation comes from is everybody can live in the Garden of Eden, but you have to grow it yourself. No one else can grow it for you.

Jeff: Yeah. I heard a quote that you gave that I liked, which was happiness is not a choice. It's less of a choice and more like doing a pull up.

Light Watkins: That's right. That's right.

Jeff: I want to go back... I'd like for the listeners to know a little bit more about kind of you. You grew up not what I would call in the hot bed of mindfulness. I think you were born in and grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. It was the cradle of the civil rights movement. So on one level you might be able to attribute a lot of mindfulness or ethical work to that place, but maybe tell us a little bit about that journey of growing up and how the heck you got to be a meditation teacher from there.

Light Watkins: Yeah, I grew up very much in the Bible Belt, going to church and the stories of civil rights figures and the movement was very much a part of the day to day narrative, especially within the black communities, which is where I was hanging out mostly. But at the same time we're talking about the 70s in the 80s and I think what was happening back then, looking back now as an adult, what was happening back then is that because of the after effects of the civil rights movement, which is there was more integration happening all throughout the country. I think the black community even was trying to identify more and more with that sort of, they wanted more access to what everyone else was doing.

Light Watkins: So there wasn't a lot of cultivation of African heritage or binding us all together based around what we had in common. It was more about, let's move to those communities so that we can, because our money is as good as anyone else's money. And we want to have the big houses and want to have the jobs, want to have everything that they have. And so it's interesting because I think now we're seeing a sort of shift back towards people celebrating their own heritage, no matter who they are, no matter where they're from. There's more of a celebration of your own heritage and a realization that this quest for more is really, A, it's not sustainable and B, it doesn't necessarily put you in a better. What puts you in a better position is cultivating community and being in gratitude and every ancient culture had those elements.

Light Watkins: And so I think now people are looking for those elements. How were they meditating back in Africa? What were the gratitude practices and so those kinds of things are being held up now more and more. So yeah, to answer the question, it didn't feel well while I was aware of Rosa parks and Martin Luther King and some of the other major figures. What's really interesting is hearing about some of the minor figures, the Jeff Krasnos and Light Watkins, of that era who maybe weren't getting national headlines, but they were people who were kind of helping them move the needle forward in that way of bringing things back to a more sustainable fashion.

Jeff: Yeah, it's interesting the notion of integration into a culture that might not actually deliver on the promises or on the dreams that you might have been seeking. And I look around at our culture today and obviously we're in a very, very specific time right now with the coronavirus pandemic. But where essentially by and large capitalism has become the global religion and unlike other religions, we actually adhere to the precepts of capitalism. And it has not been highly correlated with delivering a lot of happiness. Now I want to qualify that by saying like you need to have a certain amount of available capital in your life to provide yourself and your family with structure and food and a basic livelihood. But any social scientist will tell you that over a certain amount of money, there is no correlation with happiness at all.

Jeff: And like you pointed out, what seems to be the core component of happiness, our community and identity and sense of connection and sense of culture. And I wonder if there's a new human story that might spin out of the time that we're in right now that, where people will reprioritize some of those things that I wonder what your observations are around what's happening globally right

Jeff: ... now and what might come out.

Light Watkins: I think so. I think that this enforced isolation that we're experiencing with this coronavirus COVID-19 mandated quarantine, it sounds so futuristic when you say it like that because you can imagine watching a movie in the 1980s and they're talking about this and it's like, "Wow, that's the future." And here we are living it.

Jeff: I know.

Light Watkins: I think it's like a market correction, but it boosts our spirit. It's an enforced spiritual connection because one of the hardest things for any human to do is just to spend time on their own in a room by themselves as Blaise Pascal so eloquently noted.

Light Watkins: So, we don't have a choice. We have to sort of reconcile with ourselves, with our relationships, with our community, our family. 

Light Watkins: So I think what's going to come out on the other side is we're all going to be, our butterfly nest is going to become more fully expressed because we're in this kind of enforced cocoon together. And what that looks like, I have no idea, but I know it's going to be beautiful. 

Light Watkins: And hopefully, we just have that much more of an appreciation for the power of community and the power of connection. And we start to see that actually, I have all this money but it's not really, I'm sitting here in my house by myself. I can't pay someone to make me happy. I have to actually have the tangible connection and that's what was feeding my soul this whole time. And I'm now just realizing it.

MUSIC/BREAK

Light Watkins: You can't have a society where so many people are experiencing so many mental health challenges. One in four people are experiencing diagnosable mental health challenges. So many people are homeless. So many people, the chasm between the rich and the poor is so wide. I mean that's not a sustainable model.

Light Watkins: And we were modeling that for the rest of the world. And so the coronavirus in a way is it's a lifestyle thing. It actually started affecting the wealthy people first because those are the ones who could afford to travel around the world, and it spread through travel basically. So it wasn't like the poor people brought this upon us. It was the wealthy people that caused it to spread so fast. And I think that we need to look at some of those habits of our society and really be honest with ourselves around what it is that we need to do.

Light Watkins: It's just like the conversation with reparations, everyone dismissed that. But now that coronavirus just struck, now we're about to give business owners potentially trillions of dollars which I fully understand and support. But there was no money for a whole portion of the population who had been suppressed and oppressed for hundreds of years.

Light Watkins: So I think it's the disconnect between the thinking about it that I think we need to bet that hopefully this situation will help us understand that, look, these people were in that situation in a basically a corona-like situation for hundreds of years, and you just kind of dismiss their whole thing. And that doesn't make people feel good who'd been oppressed.

Light Watkins: So I like the idea of the possibilities of what's going to emerge from this.

Jeff: Yeah. I mean I worry about the microscope that this is going to put on that disparity between the rich and the poor as it plays out over the next couple of months in terms of access to healthcare and who is going to be most seriously afflicted. But as you say, I do think like this is an opportunity for a significant correction.

Jeff: And I almost think about it almost like in biological terms of that, our human bodies are chronically inflamed through a host of decisions and behaviors and environment that is leading to chronic, like these epic levels of chronic disease and mental and cognitive illness as you point out. And that how could that sense of constant inflammation not translate out. And it's almost like there is a global inflammation, how long could it keep going, I suppose would be the question, without something happening.

Jeff: The cultural replication component of coronavirus is stronger than, is more replicative than the virus itself because it's essentially gotten the entire world to change its behaviors in 10 days.

Light Watkins: Right.

Jeff: I want to ask you about fear and anxiety because I think that that is a huge component of life right now for so many people, including myself as many tools as I have.

Light Watkins: Well, going back to the quote that you stated earlier which is happiness is like a pull-up, it's not a choice.

Light Watkins: So to say that happiness is like a pull-up, it's a literal translation of how the whole thing works just like if anyone's ever tried to do a pull-up. I mean, it was the exercise that I hated the most growing up because when you're old enough to remember those-

Jeff: I know where you're going.

Light Watkins: ... standardized, state wide-

Jeff: I always cheated on those with the pull-ups.

Light Watkins: Those tests that we had to do in school once a year to show how athletic we were. And it's like the pull-up was like the worst part for me personally ever because I just couldn't even ... I could barely even bend my elbows.

Jeff: Well, you're very long. I'll give you that excuse, right?

Light Watkins: Yeah. But still, it's always been one of those impossible exercises to me. And then when I got older and I started working out and going to the gym and stuff, I was very intentional about mastering the pull-up. And it took a long time to get that first repetition and then to get another repetition and then to build up to five and then to build up to 10 and all of that. And then by the time you get to 10, doing one is not a problem at all.

Light Watkins: And so in my first book called The Inner Gym: A 30-day Challenge for Strengthening Happiness, I use that as the sort of key premise, the metaphor throughout the book, which is that demand is being placed upon you and changes of expectation like, oh, you can't go out of your house now for the indefinite future. And you can't be around other people.

Light Watkins: So if we think about those emotional states as demands that are constantly coming to us and understand that we have to condition and train ourselves to be able to tolerate them and deal with them and excel, then it gives us, I think, a better idea of what's needed for us to live a more balanced life. And happiness is something that needs to be cultivated as an adult because we lose that from our childhood. Life kind of beats it out of us and we need to really be intentional about reclaiming it.

Light Watkins: And once we do, things can happen and we may find that it's easier to kind of see the silver lining or see the opportunities or be more optimistic or see the bright side in all situations. 

Jeff: And I heard you say something once and I'll quote it in a second. Hopefully, I don't misquote it. But it speaks to this idea of the inner gym and the training that is required of not just the body but obviously of the mind. And right now what you're seeing is this kind of, in society in general right now, you're seeing this outpouring of altruism, and people really wanting to help each other just given the global situation.

Jeff: And I heard you say, it compare

Jeff: Pair... helping each other... The instinct for altruism to the oxygen mask in an airplane. And could you... actually, before I butcher it, I'd love for you to kind of like actually wind up that metaphor because I think it's really apt right now and very important.

Light Watkins: What was the take on the whole... you hear this in a lot of motivational talks where they say, you have the message in the airplane, put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help other people. And, I just kind of point out like, why do they say that every single time? And it's because even though we've all heard it a million times, it's because our tendency is to want to neglect ourselves and help other people and we don't realize that when we do that because our heart's in the right place and we're really trying to be of service, when we're not taking care of ourselves first to get our basic needs met, we eventually become a liability. It's like my mom, she told me her blood pressure has gone up recently and it's because... my mom looks for reasons.

Light Watkins: She's a really sweet woman and I love her to death. She looks for reasons to worry though, as a lot of mothers do. And, there's some stuff that's been happening in our family over the last couple of years where she's been really worried and not sleeping well at night. And then, she's never really had heart problems, but she went to go get diagnosed and her blood pressure's through the roof. So, she's on the brink of becoming a liability that we all have to then stop what we're doing and go and take care of her. So she's now managing that, but that's a situation that a lot of people put themselves in by needless worrying, or by trying to do too much, too quickly, not pacing themselves. 

Light Watkins: When we really embody the sort of more Eastern understanding of this, the fact that everything I need is already inside of me and I just need to cultivate it. And once I cultivate the proper state of consciousness or awareness, then I'll be able to see things in the external world that I can use more efficiently. 

Light Watkins: And if you're in the situation where you're able to take the time to practice the self-care, then that tells you that you're in the do less to accomplish more approach to life. So you can just look at your life and take an honest assessment and you can tell really quickly which trajectory you're in. One of those trajectories does not end well, right? Everybody's going to die, but what we're talking about now is quality of life. The other one can support you more from a quality of life perspective. And if your quality of life is great, then the quality of the life, the people who depend on you is also going to improve as well.

Jeff: Are you happy?

Light Watkins: Am I happy? Can you imagine if I was like, "No."

Jeff: I'd be like, "Shit." Yeah, I'm sorry.

Light Watkins: So I have is this little sort of game that I like to play with my friends and I where I say, "Where would you fall if your happiness level was 0 to 10? 10 being, as happy as you can imagine being and zero being, you're going to opt out of the game. Where would you fall on average? Where's your baseline?" I would say that most people's baseline is like around a seven, or maybe a six. I would say I'm about an eight and a half. An eight and a half, right? And I like that. I don't want to be at a 10 because I think once you get to a 10, it's like why are you even alive anymore?

Jeff: Yeah, you've transcended. You're the Buddha at that juncture. So, yeah.

Light Watkins: If say you're at a six or seven on the happiness scale, the next question is, what would it take to get to a nine or a 10? And that's where you can see what you prioritize the most and where you think happiness is going to come from. Right? So some people say, more money is going to get me to a nine. Right? That's the big setup. This is actually how I opened up my last book to get to the point of, look, it's not about the money. It's not about the material stuff. It's not about anything external, basically. It's about gratitude. It's about feeling a connection with community. It's about a lot of the things that the blue zone guys are already mastering. It's about finding your inner stillness. All those things are what boosts the happiness level and now the science is actually starting to support that.

Jeff: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I've started to think about happiness as the degree to which I can live a life with integrity. And for me that is when I can align my works and actions with my highest principles, sort of regardless of external conditions. That for me feels like full alignment. And, I'll ask you this because I've only ever known you to be kind and caring and compassionate and sort of gentle. And I wonder were you always that way? And, what is the relationship between meditation and the ethical life?

Light Watkins: Interesting. That's a good question. I've been asked that question a lot. When I'm teaching meditation, people want to know, have I ever been stressed out, or anxious, and that kind of thing. And I've had moments, I've certainly had moments living life on planet earth, everyone has moments where they get upset or angry or a little bit... in a bad mood, or things like that. But I've actually found that when I look back at my life that the most consistent trait that I have always had is curiosity. I've always been curious.

Light Watkins: And, even when things weren't going my way, I've been curious about, okay, well, what's going to happen now? 

Light Watkins: And the question usually comes, how can I be of service to people? And I just think if you make that your sort of dominant mode of living, how can I be of service, then everything else will kind of take care of itself. And I was very deliberate in that decision, in that approach.

Light Watkins: Many years ago, I think when I was in my late twenties, I just said to myself, "I'm going to relentlessly follow my heart. I'm not going to work with people that I don't really feel inspired by and I'm going to be of service." And, I found that the more I kept those values in everything that I did, it was easy to be kind and considerate and all of those things because it was a reflection of what my own personal value system was. And I would attract those people in those kinds of situations to myself.

Jeff: Yeah. Well, it's no accident that many spiritual texts and even the 12 steps of AA culminate in this notion of a life of service. And, there's a dance there between that ethical life, that engaged, active, ethical life and your own actual biological, or biochemistry. I guess they've shown, now through kind of fMRIs and other science that we release forms of neurotransmitters, oxytocin and serotonin and dopamine, et cetera, when we give. And not just about philanthropy or money, though interestingly enough, it doesn't even really matter how much, what denomination you give. So in fact like the best ways to give are small denominations all the time and that keeps your kind of biochemistry cranking. But that there is a correlation between literally how we're wired and this notion of a life of service. And, I find that really interesting and it needs to be cultivated because it doesn't... because the way the systems and structures of our modern society are set up, it doesn't necessarily lead us down a straight path towards a life of service.

Light Watkins: Yeah, also when you look at... I don't know, when you get into your 40s and 50s and stuff, you end up going to a good amount of funerals in your life and you look at what people are saying, how people are being eulogized and that's all they talk about. All people talk about is how this person was of service. It doesn't matter how much money they made, or how many accomplishments they had. Usually, it comes down to how they inspired me, how they helped me, what they said that encouraged me. That's what people talk about. That's what people remember. And, again, I'm very curious, so I would always go to these events and you hear these stories and it's like, wow. What is it that people remember at the end of your life?

Light Watkins: And it just became very clear to me that that's what's most important.

MUSIC/BREAK

Jeff: It's funny that you mention the nature of eulogies and how they never say, "Oh well, this guy had a private plane and," whatever and numerate the great riches. And, I think a lot of that comes from the contemplation that one goes through in times of, I guess, crisis, or inflection points, or it could be death, or it could be a global pandemic, where all of a sudden, the mind actually gets quiet and contemplates. There's a line in A Course in Miracles that says, the memory of God comes to the quiet mind. A mind at war with itself will not know eternal gentleness, something like that.

Jeff: And, the memory of God, so, in a way, if we translate that, not as some geezer in a Merlin's cap up on top of a mountain or something. Sort of like, the memory of what is valuable, of what is true and perennial, and universal. That memory, we reconnect with that in the quiet mind. 

Jeff: Yeah, it's made me think of this book Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, which I talk about it quite a bit, but in that book he has a critique of Freud and I think Freud says something to the effect that extreme hunger makes everyone the same. And in a way what Freud is talking about is that we all devolve in times of crisis and Frankl completely dispels that idea. And he said, "Yeah, well that's a nice thought to have in a leather arm chair. But I was in Auschwitz and Dachau, and let me tell you it, extreme hunger actually delineates the differences between people, it doesn't make them the same." It actually delineates, because there were people in that situation that were so dire that still found, what Frankl calls the meaning in that suffering, that found the dignity to give away or share their last piece of bread, or their shoes, or their shoe laces.

Jeff: And I have that great hope now and I also just think that these modalities, that have obviously become more mainstream, like meditation, honestly very much due to folks like you that have made it accessible, but that have largely been seen as Eastern or fringe or whatever, is that are we almost going through an organic period of discovering a form of meditation right now? Is that possible?

Light Watkins: Yeah. I think so. I think it's... If you tell the Navy SEAL, "Hey, you can't, there's no toilet paper anymore. Can't go out of your house." They're not going to bat an eye. It's like, "I'm a Navy SEAL, I don't need toilet paper. I don't need anything. Just put me anywhere at any time and I'll thrive." And I think that this period for us is bootcamp or BUD/S training, which is the Navy SEALs' hell week experience, which weeds out the people who are going to quit versus the people who are going to make it. It's like that for our spirit, it's going to help us to see that we can actually endure anything. 

Light Watkins: And so this is a global way of getting all of us maybe to even just have more dialogue with one another. These different cultures, these different societies.

Light Watkins: We need to share information now because it's affecting all of us in the same way. I think it's actually, it's a timely thing. It's unfortunate that obviously that people are, some people are dying but people are... More people are dying from the symptoms of the unsustainable approach from life. So hopefully on the long term this will cause less people to die from these lifestyle behaviors that can be avoided if we just were more aware of them.

Jeff: Yeah. Do you have any... Has your sense of the role of the teacher changed at all during this time? Or what do you think that role is right now?

Light Watkins: That's a good question. I don't, honestly, I don't feel any different cause I'm always had a high reverence for teachers. I just think that, I think other people are now starting to wake up and realize, "Wow, the people who can really help us get through this are the ones that we've been treating as extracurricular activity or doing the, "Let me go donate $5 to their cause," this kind of thing. But meanwhile I'm happy to pay as much money as I feel the need to drink alcohol, or buy guns, or pay off this politician and these kinds of things. And hopefully what comes out of this, school teachers will be a lot more appreciated and meditation teachers, and yoga teachers, and anyone who you can't access now in person because of the isolation that we have to do for just a relatively short amount of time compared to life.

Light Watkins: But it's a lot. And I think that that is going to show us researchers, and biologists, and people who can come up with vaccines, and people who teach people like that, these are the unsung heroes of society that are short changed almost all the time until something like this happens and then we start to see, "Oh wow, this is what's really truly important." So I just think that mentality of being more aware of what's important hopefully will cause some shifts in that regard. I don't expect anything to happen overnight, but I think it's a good start and I'm looking forward to seeing the post coronavirus world, and what we do with that. And if we default back to our old conditioning, which we will probably just some extent, but you know, what gets born out of this, and how we in the wellness community can play a role in that both now and in that time after the whole thing passes. I mean, I'm definitely more interested in disseminating as much information as I can to help people. That was one of the reasons why I wrote the book Bliss More, that came out a couple of years ago. It was for situations exactly like this, to help people learn how to access meditation without all the airy fairyness on their own so that they can enjoy the same benefits that someone like me gets to enjoy.

Jeff: Yeah. So last question for you today and then we can do another one sometime I hope, which is now that you can do more than one pull up, maybe you can do 100 pull-ups or 50, where do you get inspiration then? Where do you go for growth and I guess thought leadership and inspiration now that you've achieved what you've already achieved?

Light Watkins: That's great, great question. So here's my answer. I get inspiration from helping other people get inspiration. That's one way and then I also get inspiration seeing other people take that inspiration and they start to become more mission driven. So for the last almost four years, I've been sending out a daily inspirational email called The Daily Dose of Inspiration and what that has done, if that's going to the gym for inspiration, basically, because it's a new story every day. So you're talking 1,000 plus stories so far now I probably knew off the top, my own little cache of stories, maybe 30 stories when I first started doing that project. So I was tapped out of that after a month, month and a half, and then I had to start basically looking around me, and exploring, and reading, and researching, and finding other stories to communicate.

Light Watkins: And until what I find now is that I, because I've been training myself to look for inspiration personally every day it's almost impossible to have a bad day because I'm always looking for what's the lesson, what's the teaching here, what's the story that I can share with my readers to help them have a little boost of inspiration in their life using my own experiences? And so that's become my inspiration generator. It's like anything else, the more you do it, the stronger you get at it, the better you get at it. I can't say it necessarily gets easier, but certain aspects of it, like the writing of it, the expression of it does become a little bit more manageable and you don't have to worry about that so much. But yeah, I would say doing that and in hearing from people who've taken those little nuggets of inspiration, and they change things in their life, and they improve things, and they are now taking those same leaps of faith. And I think that's really inspiring and interesting. And that was also one of the reasons why I started The Shine is because I just like hearing those, the story of the hero's journey. And that's the event that is the variety show for basically inspiration, and wanderlust.

Jeff: That's what I was going to ask you about as the last thing, is what's up with The Shine? Because I think that's how we initially met, maybe, I don't know, five years ago. And I loved The Shine. I loved it. Partially because it was a fulfillment of something that had been dancing around my head, and then you actually did it, which is 99% of it. And just to see someone that had instantiated this new, very cool idea into life was very inspiring. So I'm wondering what's going on with it at this juncture?

Light Watkins: Well, we did like maybe 60 or 70 events over the course of five years, and after our fifth year anniversary, which was two years ago, we decided to reimagine whether it could be, because as you know, the events were 200, 300, 350 people all volunteer and basically just doing it for the love and it was a lot to organize and to manage, and we wanted to create a way for people to do it in a smaller scale in their living room. And so that became the dominant conversation after our fifth year anniversary. And it's still in the process. It's just, I honestly I've been dragging my feet with it because I've got all these other things happening with the traveling, and the books, and all of that. So I'm the one that's bottle-necking up the process, but it's on my to do list. I just got some more help, so we're going to get back to that and hopefully get the people who've been asking about it the playbook for doing it on their own. It's been done independently a few times with great success, so I feel like that's just a more sustainable model over the longterm.

Jeff: Yeah, I totally agree with you and I'd love to talk to you about that offline sometime, but using the model of like TEDx, or AA, or any kind of distributed leadership, decentralized form of event creation or meetup or community gathering really. And then empower the people in their own place to do it. And so I think that's a beautiful vision. Well, I appreciate your time. I appreciate you deeply. I've always loved all our interactions and you've done just a great work, inspiring work. So keep it up.

Light Watkins: Thanks man. And I'm honored to be on the podcast finally. So thanks for inviting me and I look forward to hopefully coming back and sharing some more with the work that I'm currently doing that's going to be coming out in the next couple of years.

Jeff: Yeah, I look forward to that. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks buddy. Take care.

Light Watkins: Thank you.

Jeff: Bye.

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