Ep 03: Using Meditation as a Tool for Your Life

[TRANSCRIPT]

(Introduction)

Are you ready for a journey of transformation? This is The Art of Epic Wellness with Nicole Keating. Learn how to nourish your body and your soul. Its time to be bold, take a stand, and create your epic life!

NICOLE:           Hello epic wellness beauties! It’s your host and home girl, Nicole Keating. Today is literally gonna blow your mind or at least center it. My guest today is a meditation teacher and Mindfulness expert. She’s been training individuals and groups for over fifteen years and she’s currently developing on-site and online mindfulness training for enterprise clients and individuals. She specializes in performance professionals, entrepreneurs, sales people and leaders offering specific mindfulness tools that are most relevant to the individual or the company. I have personally heard her deliver an amazingly epic keynote speech where she took hundreds of people through a guided meditation. I could go on and on but instead I’m gonna read what a couple of her clients say and then we’re gonna dive right in.

As a performer, learning mindfulness has been invaluable. Julianna is a great teacher of the most state-of-the-art meditative techniques. Juliannas experience as a performer makes her uniquely qualified to teach me how to apply these techniques onstage.

James Valentine (Lead Guitarist of Maroon 5)

Julianna is the real deal!  She has an uncanny ability to meet me right where I am in my spiritual development.  As a 20 year seeker, following leads that have often led to more confusion than clarity, I am happy to have found a level of personal support that I didn’t even know was possible. I’m extremely grateful to have found her work!

–Kevin 

Wow! Yes, she is the real deal. And stay through the show as she leads us through a mini-meditation. It’s the one, the only, Julianna Raye! I’m here with Julianna Raye. Thank you for coming on, Julianna.

JULIANNA:       It’s my pleasure. Happy to be here.

NICOLE:           It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here. I’m so grateful to have you in my life. I met you at the BYOB Bring your own booze event. (laughs) No, BYEB best year ever blue print. How funny! I think we have to leave that in.

JULIANNA:        I know.

NICOLE:           Oh my gosh. At Hal Elrod’s event…

JULIANNA:       Yes, Hal Elrod’s…

NICOLE:           We’re here to entertain you.

JULIANNA:       Yes, Hal Elrod’s fabulous event. That’s right.

NICOLE:           And you led a beautiful meditation.

JULIANNA:       Thank you!

NICOLE:           That was one of the most profound experiences I’ve had.

JULIANNA:       That’s wonderful to hear.

NICOLE:           Yeah…

JULIANNA:       I love to hear that feedback.

NICOLE:           I did. I had total visuals. I had like the iris that kept coming back like back and forth. It was amazing.

JULIANNA:       Fantastic…

NICOLE:           Yeah…

JULIANNA:       Great!

NICOLE:           And I felt like no time had pass but hours had passed.

JULIANNA:       That’s amazing. I love to hear that.

NICOLE:           Yes. So you are the ultimate spirit artist. You’re a musician. You have an amazing past. We’d love to hear about your journey, basically. Can you kinda dig in to your past for us so we can understand how you came to be this amazing mindfulness teacher?

JULIANNA:       Sure, I’d be happy to. So let’s see. I had a deal on Warner Brothers Records and things didn’t go as planned. And a couple years later I was waitressing again. It was quite an extraordinary opportunity. I was signed by the president of the company and I was produced by a big producer named Jeff Lin and the future looked bright and I got lots of great reviews from my record. And so everything looked very promising but the promotions department didn’t hear a single. And what that means is basically they didn’t know how to promote it and so they didn’t. And so two years later, I was waitressing again. I was very nervous because music gave my life meaning and I was dependent on my musical expression to sustain me on a lot of levels, creatively and professionally… as my career path to do something meaningful, that I was passionate about. So when it looked like it was at risk, I was waitressing and I didn’t know what would happen next, I fell into a depression. I got very anxious about my life, and I had always struggled with terrible anxiety and depression. I could see that I needed to find a way out of my life hinging on my circumstances. That was one of those times were I woke up to the idea that I’ve got to find a solution beyond this because I’ve chosen a very uncertain path creatively, professionally and I need to be able to navigate the uncertainties of this path in a way that it doesn’t drive me nuts, you know?

NICOLE:           Yes, I can totally resonate that as an artist. I feel the same way.

JULIANNA:       Yeah… I mean, I think that is the challenge as an artist. We’ve chosen incredibly uncertain paths and we’re deeply sensitive people. And that combination is tricky to navigate. So I saw, “Okay, I have to shift something.” I didn’t know what, I didn’t know how. I just saw that that needed to happen. Then I was in therapy and I was even trying medications. That’s how much pain I was in. And the medications weren’t helping me. My particular physiology doesn’t respond well to anti-depressants. And so I saw that was not gonna be an answer for me. The therapist suggested meditation. So I thought, “Well, it’s something I can do. I can have some control over how often I do it. So I can strengthen that muscle,” if you will. I can take charge of that. But I didn’t have any expectations about it. I wasn’t a seeker. I didn’t consider myself spiritual. I was a real pragmatist raised by two Psychologists. So that was my paradigm for understanding reality and when people would talk about spiritual stuff, I’d kind of nod and smile but it didn’t really resonate with me. So I started practicing and I liked what it did. It kinda grounded me and there was something unnamable that it did. I had psychological insights and I found that useful and practical. So it appealed to me in that way and after a couple of years, I started having experiences that one might call spiritual experiences. Little things! I sat down and felt like I had many arms or I sat down and I felt I was upside down. You know?

NICOLE:           Oh my gosh…

JULIANNA:       Very strange little experiences that I couldn’t quite… I didn’t know what to make of them and they felt physiological. It didn’t seem like I was imagining anything as much as I was feeling it in my body. So it was curious to me and at that point I guess I had enough practice under my belt that I was receptive to the possibility of a teacher. But I knew it had to be somebody who sounded logical and practical to me. Otherwise, I ran a risk of not meditating anymore and I saw the value of it. So fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long. I found a wonderful teacher. His name is Shinzen Young and I started training with him. That was about eighteen years ago and I went on my first retreat with him and I got deep into retreats. I saw the potential of practice and got deep into it.

NICOLE:           Wow, that’s amazing.

JULIANNA:       Yeah…

NICOLE:           So, obviously there’s a point where we all have this turning point which you were just sharing but then there’s a transcendent point where we realize we have to share this teaching. We have to share our knowledge with the world and we have to become healers. So when did that happen?

JULIANNA:       That’s interesting. Well, just three years after I started training with Shinzen. Now, it’s funny because it’s not as though the light switch went on and I was like, “I must share this.” Something in me thought, “You know, I’d probably be pretty good at communicating this.” And…

NICOLE:           And that’s the artist too. It’s like, “I can express this to people.”

JULIANNA:       Yeah… Yeah, I know how to communicate it in a way that people might be able to hear and understand. So back then, it was like I was three years in and I thought, “Yeah, I’d like to learn how to offer this to people.” But it was quite casual. I wasn’t really thinking anything more than, “I think I’m good at sharing this and I want to because it’s had such a big impact on my life.” So I began doing that then and I did it mostly within the community. And then momentum built over time. Really just a few years ago, this kind of industry of mindfulness burgeoned where a tipping point was reached. A few years back, I participated in a study at UCLA. So they took MRIs of our brains. And they had experienced, long-term meditators and people who would never meditated. And they found these results. They’re finding all sorts of wonderful results in research about the benefits of mindfulness practice or meditation practice in general. And so what they saw on my brain was what they’ve been seeing consistently which is that it really slows the degeneration process.

NICOLE:           Wow!

JULIANNA:       And it enhances neuroplasticity. So…

NICOLE:           It’s great.

JULIANNA:       So what’s happening now… I think the reason that there’s this burgeoning industry is because there’s all this scientific proof around and hard science and mainstream science. Not “woo woo” science.

NICOLE:           Yeah, that’s exciting! Yayyyy… We can get on board with that because we’ve got actual proof…

JULIANNA:       Yeah… And when I saw my brain next to the control because I had someone my age and, you know, same left-handedness, etc. When I saw that, it reminded me of when you go to the dentist and you see those gingivitis pictures.

NICOLE:           Oh my gosh! Yeah…

JULIANNA:       You know, it’s like….

NICOLE:           Where you’re like, “Oh!”

JULIANNA:       Where it’s like, “Okay, I just lost my teeth!”

NICOLE:           “I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna brush and floss.”

JULIANNA:       That’s it. Because I remember when I didn’t floss my teeth and then I had to build that habit into my daily routine. I was like, “Oh! Another positive habit I’ve gotta build. I don’t want any more of these. What’s it gonna be like?” And then I had this vision of like “The older you get, the more positive habits you have to build in.” So it annoyed me from that perspective but seeing those MRIs against one another, I was like “Ah, right. This is just the same as flossing.” It’s like, “Do you wanna end up with your gums receding and with all kinds of illnesses from your…” It’s really that straightforward.

NICOLE:           You know what? I’ve never heard it put that way exactly. Thank you for sharing that! I think I can really get behind more meditation now.

JULIANNA:       Yeah! Well, I have to tell you too. I mean, certainly when I started I thought, “Well, maybe it will help with my anxiety.” That was sort of my idea around it. It helped with my anxiety, it helped with my depression, it helped with my immune system which I never would have imagined. I mean, I rarely get sick and when I do I bounce back really quickly now. So, I mean it helped in a foundational way. It helped with my creativity and expression. It helped in so many different aspects of my life and that’s something that’s hard to fathom before you start training. And then once you get into it, you realize “Oh, okay. Yeah, this is…” It’s like it’s feeding the roots of who you are.

NICOLE:           Wow…

JULIANNA:       And then that manifests in all sorts of different limbs. You know?

NICOLE:           Yeah… Wow, I’m excited about that. So for the Epic Wellness listening, can you share some tips on how to, like if we’re just starting out to meditate? Like, what would you tell someone who’s just starting out and then maybe some thoughts on deepening your practice?

JULIANNA:       Sure! So when you’re starting your practice, there are three skills you wanna develop: Concentration Power, Sensory Clarity, and Equanimity. And if you want more info on this, you can check out my website. But maybe we should do like a quick guided practice for people. You wanna do that?

NICOLE:           Absolutely! But first, can you share your… I know you have a really great opt-in that is super valuable. Can you share that?

JULIANNA:       Oh, sure! Yeah…

NICOLE:           And then… Yes, I’d love to do it.

JULIANNA:       Okay, cool! It’s really easy. It’s freemeditationlesson.com

NICOLE:           Oh, that’s great!

JULIANNA:       So you can just go there at freemeditationlesson.com and you can check out… We give you a guided meditation to try and some videos. So, great…

NICOLE:           Awesome! Thank you for sharing that.

JULIANNA:       Sure!

NICOLE:           Okay…

JULIANNA:       So, yeah let’s do like a quick five-minute little practice here. Everybody can close their eyes now. Wherever you are sitting, try to straighten your spine. Relax your shoulders. Relax your jaw. And go ahead and bring your attention into your body and I’d like you to locate any area where you notice relaxation in your body. And just choose one area and bring your attention there. It might be at the breath. Sometime people find the exhale relaxing. It might even be something like your hands. Your hands may feel kind of neutral and relaxed. And you just notice the relaxation. You become curious and interested in what relaxation feels like in your body right now. And every time your attention wanders, you just bring it back to that feeling of relaxation. Doing your best to appreciate it. You don’t need to make it go anywhere. You don’t need to make it get bigger. Just allow it. Allow the relaxation to come and go as it will. And do your best to appreciate it when you notice it. And again and again bringing you attention back to the relaxation wherever you’re noticing it. And that’s it. That’s a quick, little practice just to give everybody a little idea. I talked more than I normally would on a guided practice but…

NICOLE:           That was great!

JULIANNA:       Good, thanks!

NICOLE:           I feel refreshed.

JULIANNA:       Well, good. Yeah. I wanted to kinda point out the skills that you’re developing so that process of bringing your attention back again and again to the relaxation. And by the way, relaxation is what’s called your object of focus. Your object of focus can be anything at all. I chose relaxation because so many people want to use meditation to find restfulness.

NICOLE:           Absolutely. I would say one of the big things that comes up with the Epic Wellness community is overwhelm and energy and you know just feeling like their world is spinning anxiety.

JULIANNA:       That’s right. So when overwhelm happens, there are two possibilities. Either you bring your attention to its opposite. Find relaxation and cultivate that and ground yourself in that experience or sometimes the overwhelm is so intense that you can’t stay with the relaxation. The relaxation is just too subtle and too hard to concentrate on when you’re beginning. So then you have to find ways to work with the experience of the overwhelm. You have to find ways to understand what it’s composed of and break it down so it becomes more manageable. So basically what you’re doing is you’re cultivating your attention and then you strengthen your attention by focusing on whatever you’re focusing on, whether it’s relaxation or whether it’s, for example, maybe fear as part of the overwhelm system. Right?

NICOLE:           Yeah.

JULIANNA:       You learn how to work with it in the same way. In either case, you’re developing concentration by bringing your attention to the experience. You’re developing sensory clarity by appreciating the experience even fear. Discovering it.

NICOLE:           Yeah. Bringing that awareness to it and then say, “Ah, I know what you are.”

JULIANNA:       That’s right. Discovering it. You’re just noticing where is it located, does it move, does it stay still, how intense is it, what’s the quality, what’s this like, “what is fear like in my body right now?” For example.

NICOLE:           Yeah…

JULIANNA:       And then you’re doing your best not to fight with it, not to push and pull on it. Because when we fight with it, we’re actually fueling it. So we learn how to develop a different kind of relationship to fear or to relaxation so that it can come and go freely as just an energy moving through our bodies coming and going freely. That’s equanimity.

NICOLE:           That’s huge and you know I’ve actually found this recently. Just the other day, we had to speak in front of… Remember? We had to do our little five minutes and that’s something I want to do but oh man the fear… Feeling the fear. But I went through this thing where I was imagining like the outcome of just people enjoying that experience. Before, you know that I kinda centered myself and when those feelings came up I was like self-talk. I’m gonna crush it. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be good. But I definitely was like recognizing the fear. I think that’s the first step in a lot of things like…

JULIANNA:       Well then you just pointed out the 2 ways of working.  Again, it’s like you can turn towards a positive feeling and you can potentially focus on the positive and turn your attention away from the fear and then the positive outweighs the fear. That’s one way to go or if the fear is too intense, you’ve got no choice. You’ve gotta turn towards the fear and work with the fear. And that’s equally productive. So there is no wrong move in that sense.

NICOLE:           I love that.

JULIANNA:       Yeah. It’s just a matter of recognizing, “Ah, what do I need to do right now? Based on where I am at. Is this too much of an uphill battle for me to try and find positive feelings because the fear is overwhelming or can I? So you discover, each person has their own… It’s like we’re each cutting our own path through this process but we need to know what tools we’ve got available to us so we can pick up the one that’s ideal for this moment.

NICOLE:           Oh, I love that. So you think of meditation as a tool in your toolbox kind of?

JULIANNA:       Well, meditation is all the tools.

NICOLE:           So it’s like the tool belt. It’s the toolbox. The hardhat…

JULIANNA:       That’s right. It’s just a matter of what technique and strategy you wanna use right now.

NICOLE:           Wow.

JULIANNA:       So it’s like, “Okay. Do I wanna focus on the fear? Do I wanna focus on positive emotions? Do I wanna…” The object of focus that I mentioned earlier can be anything in your senses. It can be the sounds outside your window. It can be what you’re seeing in your environment. It can be a mantra. A lot of people do mantra practice. It can be the breath. A lot of people focus on the breath. So…

NICOLE:           Oh, that’s cool. I like that. I feel like that it gives you a lot of choices and I know that I do that in nature like, “Alright, I’ll focus on the blades of grass moving or tree or the leaves dancing in the sun.” And I’ll just be like, “This is so amazing! Does anybody else see this?” You know. So that’s one thing I do. I just didn’t know I was doing that.

JULIANNA:       Exactly. That’s right! As long as you’re developing those skills — Concentration, Clarity, and Equanimity — you can focus on anything. Any experience at all. That’s tremendous choice and empowerment. It also means that your whole day, your whole life can be a meditation.

NICOLE:           Ah… Oh my gosh! I love that! That is so empowering for us.

JULIANNA:       Yes.

NICOLE:           I love that you’re just… It’s such an expansive point of view versus like “You have to do this. You have to sit cross-legged. You have to…” Yeah? You know. That’s amazing! So how did you discover that anything can be a meditation? Or is that part of your teaching?

JULIANNA:       Well, I got good teachers. Yeah… What’s cool too is that I’ve gotten two different styles of the same message. I’ve trained in mindfulness as I’ve mentioned for eighteen years and I’ve trained in Zen for fifteen years. And they both take a different approach to that same message. Mindfulness does it by giving you specific techniques and strategies that you can bring into your daily life. So in that way you can make anything a meditation. You just bring the intention of practice to it. And sometimes life meditates you as your momentum picks up with your practice.

JULIANNA:       Sometimes, you just drop into practice so there’s a balance between efforting to intentionally develop those skills and then also being meditated as your skills increase over time letting it happen to you.

NICOLE:           Yeah… Allowing… The ease of allowing it to come in and be like, “Oh, look what’s happening.”

JULIANNA:     That’s right. Exactly. So that’s the way it is in mindfulness and in zen, zen relies heavily on the retreat environment. So when you go on a zen retreat, it’s pretty intense. It’s like boot camp. You’re up at 3AM and you’re finished around 10 at night and you’re meditating the whole day and what they do is they ritualize every activity. That enables it to become a meditative process because you don’t have to make decisions. You don’t have to think. Even down to the meals you’re chanting from the sutra book and you’re laying out your bowl set in a particular way. You’re putting your cup in a particular place. You’re setting out utensils in a particular way and you’re continuing to do the chant at the same time. And that’s all designed so that you don’t have to think about, “Gee, what am I gonna have for…” You know, as they send the food bowls down.

NICOLE:           Great!

JULIANNA:       Every activity in your day is ritualized. You get maybe an hour and a half of free time through the whole day and otherwise, you’re in practice. There’s sitting periods and then there’s walking periods. Everybody walks and step with each other. And then there’s work periods but during the work period you are implementing your skills. If you are sweeping the halls, you’re getting engaged fully with your whole body and mind in sweeping the hall.

NICOLE:           Wow… That is so interesting. Have you had amazing breakthroughs from going to those retreats?

JULIANNA:       Yeah, all of them. The mindfulness retreats and the zen retreats. I happen to be a big fan. Retreats are where I first discovered the potential of practice. It blew my mind.

NICOLE:           Like that immersion?

JULIANNA:       That’s right. That immersion. It showed me, “Oh my, this is so much bigger than I ever could have fathomed.” And that only happened because I committed to doing a bunch of sitting for few days in a row. I mean, if you think about it in the scheme of things that’s not a big deal. But it seemed like a big deal.

NICOLE:           It feels like a marathon. As I’m thinking about it, I’m feeling it in my body. I’m like, “I want to try that!” But it feels like committing to going on a marathon or something which also scares me.

JULIANNA:       Yes, it’s a bit scary from that perspective. And you know what? To this day, I’m always like, “Hmmmm, what’s gonna happen?” Because you do. It’s immersive. You go deep. But what’s wonderful about it, it’s an inward bound kind of experience. You know outward bound. It’s an inner adventure and each sitting period is different than the last. So you sit down, it’s not like you’re just tortured for… You kind of think like, “Oh my God. This is getting really boring.” Sometimes it is boring, but a lot of times it is fascinating and unexpected and each sitting period is a lot like a whole new world is unfolding inside you that you never would have expected or imagined.

NICOLE:           I’m excited about… I think this is something I need to do because I’m actually such an extrovert that I find that meditation is definitely calming me in a way. Because I tend to work things out by talking them out like even by myself. Like I’m talking in my car. Recently, I had some amazing breakthroughs from just going to the spa and they have a Himalayan Sea Salt room. And I always feel so grounded after that. But I was really meditating in there, in the different parts of the spa and I just had this like boom! breakthrough. I was like, “Oh, I’ve been pushing a rock up the hill.” And I needed to just be at ease.

JULIANNA:       Yeah. Really important to… It’s good to think. It’s also really good to learn how not to identify with your thinking.

NICOLE:           Ah yes…

JULIANNA:       Thinking happens, right? A lot of people think too that meditation or mindfulness means that you have to stop your thoughts but actually it’s more about understanding how to not identify with your thoughts. How to not get caught in your thinking. Thoughts come and go. It’s like a stream of water. If you relate to it as a stream of water. If you relate to it as something that is meaningful, that you have to figure out, that you have to own as your thought and then figure out the meaning of then you know…

NICOLE:           Then you know like going on all these little adventures… yeah… like they could take you down the little rabbit holes and you’re like…

JULIANNA:       Yeah, our conditioning tends to lead us down some unfortunate rabbit holes. So you wanna learn how to not always identify with whatever thoughts are popping up into your head. Let them float by.

NICOLE:           I have a friend who says, “There’s no cheese down that hole.”

JULIANNA:       That’s great…

NICOLE:           I know…

JULIANNA:       That’s perfect.

NICOLE:           Wow. This has been wonderful. So I’m curious. What are you working on now? Like, I wanna hear what’s up for you.

JULIANNA:       So I’m actually working on a book that is for performers because that’s my history. Spent a lot of time on stage and actually got to… I started practicing early on so got to do some pretty fun gigs or I was practicing mindfulness in front of thousands of people whether they knew it or not.

NICOLE:           Yeah, totally…

JULIANNA:       I talk about how performers can… I basically help performers deal with stage fright and stuff like that. But also how mindfulness can enhance the creative process, enhance personal expression. So you’re giving up yourself more completely. Right? More fully. The fullness of the personality can arise because there’s nothing interfering with it. You’re not getting hooked on self-doubt, self-criticism, and pre-occupied with that. So you’re freer to express yourself more fully.

NICOLE:           Wow. Sounds like a book I’m definitely gonna read. I can’t wait.

JULIANNA:       Cool… Yayy…

NICOLE:           Well, let us know when that comes out.

JULIANNA:       I will.

NICOLE:           Give it a shout out.  So how can we find you, follow you, support you?

JULIANNA:       Yeah… So there’s a Facebook page. The Basic Mindfulness Meditation Facebook page. So facebook.com/basicmindfulnessmeditation. And my music website is juliannaraye.com if anyone is interested about that.

NICOLE:           Yeah, I saw that. I was checking that out. It’s great.

JULIANNA:       Like I said, if you wanna try some like a free guided meditation you can go to freemeditationlesson.com.

NICOLE:           Great! Will definitely put that in our show notes and hook that up. So the next part is I’d just like to take you through the Epic 8 round and just kind of we like to pick your brain and shorten the learning curve for the listeners and just give them something they can do right away.

JULIANNA:       Fantastic.

NICOLE:           So the first is a mantra, quote or a spiritual guideline that inspires your epic life.

JULIANNA:       Yes. So the spiritual guideline. I guess it has to do with… So there’s a core… I guess you could say a core discovery at the heart of any meditation practice. Mindfulness, zen, or whatever it is. This core discovery has to do with understanding the truth of who we are. Our true selves. That we’re not separate. That we’re not limited to this identity. This body-mind identity. At the heart, it’s not who we truly are. And so for me, my guideline is to discover that again and again and again. More and more deeply, more and more consistently. That’s what I see is my job as a human being and as a teacher of mindfulness. So that’s number one is this discovery process of this truth of who we are. And then for me, the next part of the guideline is to contribute. To be of service. So whether that’s being of service through offering that particular wisdom that you offer as a teacher, or whether it’s just in the many ways that caring for other people can manifest. However that happens. Even down to the way you smile at someone when you pass them on the street.

NICOLE:           I love that.

JULIANNA:       So those are my guidelines. You discover the truth more and more deeply and consistently and you are serving other people.

NICOLE:           I love that. And I love that you said just a smile or opening a door or just being kind to someone. Like, often times we think we have to do this big thing to be this big way and it’s very much in the simple moments of life.

JULIANNA:       Yeah, absolutely.

NICOLE:           Yeah, I love that. So obviously, I think I know what your tool is when you get stuck but do you have any other tips and tricks for, like, when you get stuck? Like, creatively in life. As an artist.

JULIANNA:       Yeah. You know my favorite…

NICOLE:           You meditate but maybe like even just are there reminders that remind you to do that or do you have this triggers or something?

JULIANNA:       Yeah. I do like a change of scene. I like to go for a hike just like on a purely practical get-out-of-my-head. See beauty. You know… Let’s see… Sometimes, I’ll allow myself some distractions in the process just because I need a moment to reset. So I’ll do a little bit of distracting whatever that is.

NICOLE:           I do that too!

JULIANNA:       Yeah! Then I come back from distracting. It’s okay as long as you’re getting done what you need to get done. You know, sometimes the greatest ideas come when you’re in a shower or are doing some other activity. Driving or whatever it may be. So sometimes the mind needs a little bit of distraction in order to create. But yeah, of course, sitting in practice is a big part of how I connect creatively.

NICOLE:           That’s awesome.

JULIANNA:       Yeah…

NICOLE:           So everyone as an artist is creating their life, right? So we were all once an apprentice and I know you said who your mindfulness mentor was. But have you had any other mentors in this journey?

JULIANNA:       Yeah. I would say my mindfulness teacher is the big one because I teach people his system. And also my Zen teacher is a big influence because I trained with him for so many years. I guess I’ve had musical mentors — my mom. My mom was a big mentor. She had a loving… like an ability to really get to the heart of any challenge that you’re facing and reflect back to you what you didn’t even know you were thinking. You know, so you’d be talking about a problem and she would hear it and say it back to you so that you discovered it. That was a wonderful gift to have and we had a very close connection.

NICOLE:           Yeah. We all knew there’s people that are that beautiful mirror in our lives.

JULIANNA:       Yeah and I’ve accepted the fact that there will never be anyone who cares as much about the little details of my life as she did.

NICOLE:           Yes. God love our parents. They do care so much.

JULIANNA:       They do. They do.

NICOLE:           Awesome! Well, thanks for sharing that. So in The Art of Epic Wellness, we talk a lot about wellness as a practice actually and how we were up-levelling which is adding in the good practices which kind crowd out the bad.

JULIANNA:       That’s right.

NICOLE:           And we can unburden those things that are toxic or taking up space or unneeded, right?

JULIANNA:       Hmmm…

NICOLE:           So I’d love it if you could share an epic unburden and then one up-level and that could be related to mindfulness or literally health and wellness. Whatever you see it as.

JULIANNA:       So, wait… An unburden is…

NICOLE:           That’s something you do to remove from your life or to stop giving energy to…

JULIANNA:       Oh, right… Hmmm… Let’s see… Well, I guess yeah this connects to… For me, mindfulness is a foundational tool but sometimes you need a precision tool.

NICOLE:           Hmmm… Interesting…

JULIANNA:       So… Yeah. So there have been certain situations like I had a chronic back condition for a couple of years. And mindfulness would not have resolved it but this ten dollar book called “Healing Back Pain” did.

NICOLE:           Wow, that’s awesome.

JULIANNA:       Yeah. The main message of the book was that the back pain is like a diversion from some repressed emotions that are happening and you turn you attention away from the worry around the back pain towards what might be triggering your emotional reaction. Usually, it’s anger that you’re trying to repress. So what conditions in your life at that moment are pissing you off?

NICOLE:           Wow.

JULIANNA:       As you turn your attention towards the things that might be pissing you off. Your mind gets the message, “Hey, this diversion isn’t working” and the pain stops. It’s the most surreal… it’s kind of amazing. This was a long time ago that I had this condition but it completely reversed it. I had chronic pain for two and a half years. If you’re finding yourself deeply pre-occupied by symptoms that doctors are telling you are not really…

NICOLE:           Like not real?

JULIANNA:       Yeah! Or that don’t seem to be there. There doesn’t seem to be anything serious going on.

NICOLE:           Pain… Pain types of things…

JULIANNA:       Yeah, exactly. Like stomach problems or headaches or back conditions even fibromyalgia kind of stuff… That’s right. If you’re finding that the diagnosis you’re getting is not satisfying, you know, like they’re kinda saying “Hey, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with you” I recommend checking out this book and unburdening yourself of the worry around the physical discomfort because so much of that was… I saw how the worry was fueling my idea that the pain was real. Which was was real pain. But that the pain was gonna lead to something terrible. And you know, like I’d be permanently handicapped from… because it was so excruciating, the pain.

NICOLE:           That sounds so horrible.

JULIANNA:       It was horribly scary but ultimately I saw my worry and preoccupation with the pain was reinforcing the pattern.

NICOLE:           So you were like, literally, like shoring up that narrative… that synapse in your brain…

JULIANNA:       Exactly. Without realizing it. So that was a huge breakthrough and a huge unburdening for me. And then once I got to that then the mindfulness was very helpful in support of me stopping that. But I had to get to it through this book.

NICOLE:           So you had a precision tool in that case.

JULIANNA:       That’s right. Exactly.

NICOLE:           What about one up-level? Obviously, I think the big one is…

JULIANNA:       Practice.

NICOLE:           Yes, practice. And so if you’re… What if we only have like five minutes? Like how do we fit it in?

JULIANNA:       If you can at all, ten minutes would be great. Like just ten minutes a day. That’s it.

NICOLE:              Okay. We all could do that. Come on…  I could do that.

JULIANNA:       Yeah. So just ten minutes. Make sure the practice time is solid. In other words, that you understand what you’re doing, to the best of your ability. I gave you a little guided practice there. We didn’t get into some details like using labels and things like that. To label what you are experiencing. Like you could say the label REST every time you focus on the relaxation. You just say that label REST each time and that helps make your practice time productive because your attention can’t wander too much if you’re saying the word REST out loud every time you notice the restfulness. So it shores up your ability to focus your attention. It keeps your practice time productive. Yeah. So do make the most of that ten minutes.

NICOLE:           Okay. I like that! And I think that we’re gonna challenge this community to do it and then like we’ll talk about it in the Facebook group.

JULIANNA:       Awesome. Great.

NICOLE:           Awesome. Let’s go into the future a little bit. I wanna know if you’re at the end of your life and you’re looking back and you’re thinking, “This is the most amazing journey.” Like, what have you created? What is it that you’ve done on this Earth? What have you accomplished?

JULIANNA:       Well, you know I’ve always had this idea. It’s a very interesting time now that science has gotten engaged in contemplative… There’s a meeting of contemplative practices and science. It’s kinda gotten cool and interesting. There’s a lot more cultural interest in it and that’s exciting to me because for many years that I practiced I sort of felt like a bit of a freak. Number one…

NICOLE:           I know what you mean.

JULIANNA:       Yeah. And number two is you’d go off and you do this intensive practice and then you come back and your environment didn’t really support it.

NICOLE:           And people are like, “You did what?”

JULIANNA:       Yeah, right!  You’d struggle to maintain the habits. You know, the positive habit that you acquired there because you came back and faced an environment that just wasn’t accommodating.

NICOLE:           Dismissive…

JULIANNA:       Yeah! It was dismissive or just wasn’t accommodating or didn’t understand or wasn’t doing it. Simply, the other people weren’t doing it. My excitement is that now that there’s this tipping point happening, I envision that more and more people will do it. You might be sitting on a bus next to people who are meditating.

NICOLE:           I love that!

JULIANNA:       And to me, a culture in which it’s happening more, I think that it could accelerate everybody’s growth rather than a few people going off and spending a whole lot of time. Maybe a whole bunch of us could come together and spend a lot less time. Because the one challenge of practice is really… not many people are gonna commit their lives the way I’ve committed my life to doing it. And I hate the thought because the rewards have been so profound. And so my hope is that actually if a whole bunch of us do it, it would be enough to experience the rewards because it is a collective experience, more deeply. You know what I mean? So my vision is like, “Wow, if I can get as many people on board with doing this practice to the degree that you can, maybe it will have a collective influence that can be deeply, deeply impactful.” Do you see what I’m saying?

NICOLE:           Yes, absolutely. I see this as a potential solution to all the world’s pain. I mean, really it’s profound.

JULIANNA:       Yeah. It’s a deeply empowering practice. It’s something you can do for yourself anytime, anywhere. No can stop you.

NICOLE:           You’re right! That is personal power.

JULIANNA:       Yeah…

NICOLE:           I love that. Well, okay that brings me to my last question which is if there is one thing that you could tell us to do right now, a “take action” challenge. Because we always like to leave people… when we turn this podcast off and go do something. What would that be?

JULIANNA:       Yeah. Here it is: Turn this podcast off and go try on your own the little practice that we did in this podcast on your own

NICOLE:           Or just rewind it to the…

JULIANNA:       Yeah, exactly! Rewind it and listen again. That’s right. Either way.

NICOLE:           Awesome. Or go to your meditation website and do it: http://freemeditationlesson.com

JULIANNA:       Whatever will get you to do it.

NICOLE:           Awesome. I love that. Well, thank you so much Julianna. It’s been a true pleasure. So eye-opening and I can’t wait to try these things I’m learning from you.

JULIANNA:       Well, it’s been super fun. You definitely are wonderful at drawing people out. It’s so lovely to sit here and look across at your shining face. That’s really sweet to have this moment with you, so thank you.

NICOLE:           I know. I’m so grateful to do this in person with you.

JULIANNA:       Yeah, it’s a pleasure.

NICOLE:           I think we’re helping people together.

JULIANNA:       Ah, me too!

NICOLE:           Awesome. Awesome.

[END]