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Benny Fergusson joins us on the pod today. Benny is the founder of the The Movement Monk Project and long time friend of SuperFeast. The Movement Monk Project is a method of functional movement, developed with the intention to restore the body to its natural powerful state. Benny guides his students along the path to physical mastery, empowering them to discover how to become injury resistant, highly flexible, strong and fluid in the way they move. Benny has been working as a physical therapist and movement teacher for over 16 years and is also a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Patterning (NLP). If you're interested in living a long, vibrant and pain free life today's pod is for you!
Mason and Benny discuss:
- Proficiency in practice.
- Moving from your centre.
- Perceiving the frequency of existence.
- Reaction vs response in life and in movement.
- Approaching life from a parasympathetic state.
- Strength and flexibility; are they the same thing?
- Tension in the mind reflecting tension in the body.
- The value of looking within, non comparison and jealousy.
- The quality of one dictates the quality of all; in movement and in breath.
- Experiencing love and gratitude for the gift of having a physical body and moving from that space.
- Embodying your own unique expression of movement, putting the 'you' into any exercise or practice you participate in. Making it your own.
- The importance of self inquiry in your movement practice, getting clear on what personally inspires or motivates you to move in the way you do.
Who is Benny Fergusson?
After living with chronic scoliosis & pain for years, and getting no lasting relief from mainstream fitness and therapies.. Benny embarked on a journey to heal his body and get to know himself better. Through years of research and the practice of movement & meditation arts, Benny found a way to restore his physical freedom, leading to profound personal growth. Benny now shares his findings with his students at MovementMonk.xyz.
Check Out The Transcript Below:
All right. Hey, Benny, you've gone for... You've dropped-
I just jumped the gun, didn't I?
Yeah, you've jumped... No, that's good. You've dropped your hydrogen, your molecular hydrogen, into your water and that signifies we are officially on as our water gets effervescent with the reaction with our hydrogen with the water ready to be the ultimate antioxidant entering in through out, into the deep nuance of our cells and our brain. On top of, you're on the tonic herbs, people don't realise how much the antioxidant potency there. Also, through the movement that you've got taking stress off, tonic herbalism, training systems in order to take stress off and not create excessive inflammatory cytokines. And then, grounding, getting earthed and then hydrogen. A very good combination of not being overly oxidized, and that's an intense antioxidant right there, the molecular hydrogen we've just dropped in our water. Cheers.
Let's get that while it's really fresh.
It's like it's steaming.
Thanks for having us.
That's our first SuperFeast pod.
I think for those in the SuperFeast community, Benny is a really, really good friend of mine. My movement mentor and we've known each other... It must be seven or eight years now.
Yeah. I recon It's pushing eight. Yeah.
Yeah Pushing eight. And so we're going to be talking about, well let's dive into it cause I don't know really completely know where we're going to go today, but what's really...
Lots of topics we could cover.
Well what's tickling you at the moment in the, in maybe just if... Just share with people. Because when we talk about movement, are we talking about primal movement? Are we talking about ancestral movement? Are we talking about the fitness industry? Are we talking about lifting weights, CrossFit, Parkour are we in a functional movement? Is that what we're talking about here? Or as your brand name Movement Monk says, are we talking about like more Shaolin style movement, TaiChi, Qigong. There's so many things that there's so many like blanket statements, terms that we can use for movement. So maybe just give, we'll get some people some like bread and butter context of what you, what we mean by movement.
Yeah. Well our, first of all, I will say that we're talking about your movement. So...
you're talking about Mason's movement today.
Mason's movement. Whoever is listening, like your individual movement expression and all these systems are great as long as we bring yourself to it first and there's a, that takes you on a whole labyrinth that like I've done lots of functional fitness and I started a long time ago as a personal trainer and not making that any less than where I am. But like back in those days I was doing kettlebell lifting and I suppose functional type training, maybe CrossFit type training before CrossFit was even a thing. And that was my way of expressing my body. Definitely led me down a path of some deeper questions.
What was your Gym called in Melbourne again?
Cohesion that's right. yeah, that was a pretty, that was a rad space.
It was a cool space.
In that and you had the big ass tires and the ropes sitting everywhere, people doing like handstands and monkeying about you walk in you go wow, yeah this is a place where functional movement in accordance with the way that the human body was designed to move like that this is a space where I can go and like segment my life and do that movement and therefore move properly and healthfully. Like why would you move away from that?
Yeah, that's a really good question. So the, I reached a point of somewhat of a conflict of what I perceived people needed and what they were asking for. And this was quite a challenge because at the end of the day, even though we did.. Pardon me, what I saw as an upgrade to the traditional gym setting of machines and treadmills and like I suppose the going in with your headphones on and not connecting with other people. And we created a place that was all about like movement and philosophy, kind of like the Greco Roman gymnasium. And so, but the challenges with that was the environment that it was in. We were still a gym. People would still come in and get their one hour, 30 minutes or 45 minute kind of workout and then they'd go out into their world. And what I noticed is that we're bringing in their habits, their stresses, their, like all of the things that were challenging them and then putting exercise on top of it.
So that was then like if you imagine that you've got something that's bound up and then you do something that is like muscular activity and causes contraction and all that sort of stuff. Intensity based. Everyone wanted an intense workout to get a sweat on to get those endorphins. But then you notice that things accumulate in the system. So this is when I started to ask deeper questions of, okay, I don't want to be part of accumulating stress in people that are already stressed. We need to start to be able to balance that equation. It's not to say we need to go the whole other way. But there needed to be education on the way that we relate with the activities that we're doing with the body. So it's not necessarily a change of do a different exercise style or this exercise style's bad or that exercise is superior to the other thing.
It's more so how do I relate with the thing. And I noticed there's a really, really interesting thing that comes up when just the relationship that we have with our body and then the way we apply it to, that the way we use it, particularly through physical exercise, structured physical practice. And this can come out in CrossFit, it can come out in yoga, it can come out in Qigong, it can come out in all sorts of different practices. Like the fundamental thing that I intend to connect people with is what's my unique way of expressing myself through that thing. So then the mind and the body can start to be in a more harmonious relationship.
Do you find it's a difficult, and I kind of, I don't know, I'm fishing cause I do find this, but if you go into say something like CrossFit, which we've had James Newberry on the, on the podcast is a great CrossFitter like I mean he's fifth strongest man in the world, and talks about like skeletal variation and things like that in his CrossFit gym and so things are like moving like that. However, like that's a fortunate gym to be walking into in the CrossFit world. But what I'm thinking, what you're talking about is like presenting yourself first, your own personalised, unique intention based. You can't help but go really cosmic with your own intention and who you are when you get into the essence of what we're talking about.
Very relevant, very relevant to your life and where more importantly you don't walk into a CrossFit class and all 30 people in there have the same personal physical expression goals for when they're 70 or 80 years old, therefore it's not personalized enough I'd say in my opinion a lot of the time. But going in first to like a judo dojo, Brazilian Jujitsu dojo, a CrossFit gym even a yoga class and trying to make hoping that that space gives you what you need in order to tune into what is personally required in your tailored approach and explanation of your own body. I find difficult, I find it's not many places that are going to completely offer that, like the amount of time and space because it is often just a half an hour, an hour and they want, you need to, you're given something to do during those times.
And I think this is what's tripped me up over the years and where it's just led me that constantly like just can't avoid for me personally that going into my own unique space. That is a personal practice exploration in place of exploration. So I can really get to know why do I want to be strong and what is strength and how does strength relate to flexibility and what is flexibility to me and start weeding out my own, I like superficial goals, but I like them when they're relevant to me. Now I don't like old ones and I especially don't want ones that I've adopted through the culture that I've, I live in.
So I think it's, what we're talking about is having a work of what I like. What you do is you allow for the creation of that sacred place where you get in touch with your own body, or practical place even if sacred isn't the word for you where you can get in touch with what's real and what's not real and what's relevant and and you can explore who am I in that in that space and then go on, apply that real knowing of who you are to the dojo, to the gym, to the yoga class.
Very, very key concept because I think I've found myself in this conversation quite often. I didn't make that a nuance and if I didn't have that progression. And I found myself getting a little bit like scoffy towards the, what the dojo is we're offing and what the gyms were offering. When it's not, that's not the problem. you have a personal responsibility when you step into some crazy fucking asana practice to be able to navigate your body through it so you don't like jam up your shoulders going through your going through your sun's and whatever, whatever it is. So this is what we're talking about in this in this instance on a very practical level, which is what I like and I really want to hit it for everyone because it seems like, yeah, I do that in my gym. I do that in my yoga class, but it's like I'm just like, I guess suggestion that there is, there is another place that you can personally explore and procure and it exists even when the gyms and the dojos and the yoga teacher goes away.
Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And a question like, because it's... The thing with, because effectively what we're talking about here is perception. My perception of my relationship to physical exercise, physical activity to my body and all this sort of thing. And the thing with the perception is that you go into these different communities and we'll all kind of, this is not about right or wrong, but we'll often go what I'm doing is, is good for me.
So this perception kind of like in there, you can kind of look at it from another angle in terms of your perception of it. Therefore what's motivating you to go and do these things in the first place?
Yeah, totally. Totally. And I would then question the difference between motive. Like motivation and inspiration. So like if these things, these cultures that we exist in therefore got their own motives, then it's clearly externally visible. So if you go into it and you try to take that into your body it's like trying to kind of force something in like a, what's the term, like a round peg in a square hole and that sort of thing. But if you develop the inspiration inside, this is my intent toward this thing, then there's an opening, there's an allowance for you to use that as a tool rather than a tool using you.
I mean, and having I think in that instance we were, we were talking with Jenny a little bit about it. whether you're looking at a system that's rather new and maybe not so complete like CrossFit and complete in my instance compared to something a very traditional Taoist or yogic system that has many, many nuances and layers and thousands of years of like making it kind of complete.
No matter what you need to have respect for any world or system or technique you go into, whether it's CrossFit, whether it's Taoism, there's, you've got to have a respect for the knowledge and expertise within it. But as you were saying then where, what's the, what's the key like when do you become susceptible to the identity? it's like the real, and it's pervasive and it's, and to an extent it's really nice to identify in the beginning with like I'm exploring whatever CrossFit or Jiujitsu, I'm exploring Taoism.
At what point does it become enough and this, because whether it's a skill or whether it's because you have that connection to your own inner like intent, you can actually go in and navigate that system and then emerge from that system without having the tattoo across your forehead of like, I'm a Yogi and I go, I'm this or that. Not that I don't find it's bad to use these terms. I talk about Taoist tonic herbs and my systems, but more and more it's that slipperiness of knowing that I don't identify that word can completely go away. And I think the people who were the original Taoists and yogis, the reason they were, people needed some way to like encapsulate them and label them. Wow.
These people let their following the way of like this, okay the Tao, the Taoists these people are yogis. And I think that's what then paves the way for the students of the future to get lost and not achieve what the original masters were able to achieve because they identify with a system or a label or a thing which makes you, it makes you rigid and therefore rigidity is going to like, yeah, it's going to inhibit your way forward. Right?
Yeah. Well one thing to consider is like the rigidity is all a reflection of consciousness, is all a reflection of our relationship to the things. If you look at any system, like whether it's CrossFit, whether it's Taoism or some kind of ancient mystical form of some sort of energetic practice or whatever it is.
TaiChi falls into that.
Totally like we're in this age of where information is abundant, it's addictive, it's everywhere. Like, and we can start to at least think that we know what things mean. Like we look at CrossFit seeing 10,000 examples through social media and the internet and all of that sort of thing of what CrossFit is. So then you get this person and then they go, "oh yes, I resonate with that". But then they're only seeing what they want to see. when, if we were to look at how CrossFit emerged, it was sort of from, at least my understanding, it just happened, it was a system that they were using that they've found was working and then it caught on. Other people got more and more into it and it got more and more popular. And then they picked up some athletes and special forces people and all that sort of thing. And then they're like, yeah, I do this and I do that and then we get all these people. Then that aspire to be that image but if you could just look at it like really it was like this essence of people wanting to get the most out of their fitness. Like how to kind of make fitness more measurable, more challenging, more quantifiable because we came from this era of like bodybuilding and aerobics and all this sort of stuff. So when CrossFit came in as an idea, it was a revolutionary concept to go from like a long steady set cardio or like heavy weight training to bring it all into one thing.
So like at one level it's a wonderful thing if we know how to use the dosage of these things. And so like what I would say is for someone to go into any of these systems, you need to go with all eyes and ears open and listen to how that's not just relating with your interpretation, like your perception of the thing, your relationship. And I like how you identify with it but, what's your body saying as a result, not just from workout to workout or practice to practice, but in a macro perspective over the course of a month. Listen, "what are you feeling body? "Over the course of if you do something for a year, over the course of a year.
That's kind of what I'm talking about in the catch up in the place that I'm working on, my body is the place where I go and do these things. Too many people are absolutely annihilating their body in yoga practice because particularly yoga sequences are often designed for people with particular skeletal structures. And so people go to the yoga in order to feel their body and do to an extent because they're actually in their breath and feeling their body and activating the body. So this then noticing and moving primary Qi. However you're talking about after the practice or in and around a month of that practice, going and feeling how your body is relating to the way that it's moving in that dedicated time, which is people like, well, no, I don't need to do that because I go and do that at CrossFit or at yoga.
That's why I do it.
That's why I do it. It's like, yeah, but you're outsourcing, you're outsourcing the time, which I agree with. When you're a busy mum or dad and you've got kids and a job and you need to be able to go...
You don't want to think about it.
And you want to go and segment, and I'm like going, I'm like throwing stones. What it says like he who judges say well, whatever, whatever it is.
Will throw stones.
Yeah, exactly. I'm like, so I definitely haven't mastered this by an extent, but it's cause it was why I can talk to it with, with such passion. But sometimes it's like, oh gosh, I've got enough going on. I can't think about that. I want to be, I want to run through like a martial arts system that's going to help lead me to a little bit of like Nirvana in my daily life.
Whereas I know enough times that it doesn't work like that. If the goals are super superficial in terms of just getting shredded, maybe you're going to be able to get so far. But if you start actually growing a little bit beyond that superficial, and that just might be because you are aware of your muscles at one time and then when you start getting aware of sinew and emotions relating to your physicality and then you also start getting aware of tension, you're going to want to go deeper. And at that point you realise, shit, I can't outsource that time. I really can't. It can be somewhat facilitated, but you need to, that needs to be facilitated by someone who has a lot of patience and knows to really let you go and do that on your own accord. Maybe just suggesting tools.
Right? for you to go and do that you and you need to feel how you actually feel. That's really difficult to do because how it's... Then how do you interpret it? It's like, well sorry, develop your own system at this time of interpretation. Take things from yoga and Taoism and your fitness instructor, whatever it is, as insights but they're really, they are here. I mean their level of like, they, how they are human and how there's no possible way they could get an insight as to what's really going on within your human body. You need to develop the non-English based perceptive system of yourself and knowing how you feel, how you react to particular situations and what you need or to what, what do you need? Why do you need to be optimal?
Why do you need to be strong? What the fuck does that mean? Total human optimisation is like a weird statement.
because if your optimal, shouldn't I as a human, if I look at people who are, if I look at like not that I don't love like the optimisation culture and biohacking to an extent, it's really fun. But I technically, if I look at the like super optimised crowd, pew, pew, pew, ultimate biohacker, ultimately like I should, if they're optimised as a human, shouldn't I genetically look at those people and get this urging and yearning to be just like that person because they're optimised and I'm not like, it just doesn't work like that. I just they're exploring some stuff and using very shiny language.
There's, I feel like we all, we all do, but why, what do you, what do we actually exploring here? Why do you want to live to 150? Why do you want to live to 200? These questions are very real. And I think what we're getting to as well as they're, they're going to emerge, say more so than be extracted these answers and they're going to emerge in, are they going to in real like a flurry of movement, sometimes, but they're also going to like emerge when the Lake is still. Yes. Right. And so that's like, I guess to an extent make it really simple. We're talking about stillness practice in personally designed by you. For you.
Yeah. Yeah, totally. Like, and you've touched on so many facets and maybe I'll pull some threads out.
Yeah. Well, I'm going to just chill out for a minute.
First of all, if we look at how do we utilise this wonderful vessel, because the body is a serious piece of tech, that most people don't have the user manual to even interpret, yet it's giving us signals all the time. And so like one thing when I first started working with people is we, we don't do a lot of movement. like we just, we observe the body just being able to look at the body and, and just listen, to not try. And I think with the thing with, if you go into any system, the system, it'll give you what you asked for.
and I should probably talk about you, the people you work with I think are a combination of maybe people like maybe, I don't know if I was in this position, but people who have a hangover from being extensively in the fitness industry. I think that's a core...
People who have done this, done that, done the other thing.
interesting thing I was looking like, just like recapping in like, where my inspiration around tonic herbalism came from and a lot of it was from Ron Teeguarden and his teacher Master Park. And when you look at Master Park's story, he was a Korean who was just this hectic martial artist, it's like four black belts at like these actual serious Doritos, but hit this glass ceiling of like I'm not actually developing as a human. So he went into the mountains to find a hermit and eventually learned the way, how to unify with Yin Yang and learned Tonic Herbalism in order to procure his own dislike.
I feel I know myself a little bit more now and I feel like it's that kind of I wouldn't like put you into like it, I'm not trying to say you're a Taoist hermit living in the mountains of Korea, but maybe to, to an extent we're all trying to find our similar way, in finding our solitude so we can explore but. There's that vibe there where you find people going, Oh gosh, I've gone like, I'm like this hectic, like muscle up one arm pull up, kind of like.
I was totally that guy.
Yeah you were. And like I can, I can do crazy lizarding along the ground and I can squat for this amount of time and I squat through this much every day.
and then it's just like, now what? Not that it's bad. It's a progression. I think that was that, that was kind of like, I was kind of a little exasperated by the world, but then it took me a while to still bridge and I'm still a bit of a ratbag in terms of, I'm trying to like, like how do I still not look outside first for something that's going to motivate me to get in and explore my body. But I'm working in that working on that with you as you know. But then there's the people who are just in chronic pain, which is really, I mean that's your last program, right? And you haven't really, Oh, maybe it will be released now I can go for...
Break Through Your Pain.
Breakthrough your pain. We'll put that in the show notes because it just talking to you about that.
That's, I mean I think that's interesting because when I met you, you were about to put out a handstand course and.
Which I developed.
Which you developed and then didn't release it. And then you've ended up working with people who aren't in the movement scene they're probably, maybe they've got a few specialists who are helping them out on their in their specialties. So then people who are living long term with chronic, pain you've had your crazy scoliosis, that you've worked through and without it being like just use this particular system. It's just five minutes of this a day, it's five minutes of that a day. And you can work through your pain. But actually teaching principles that will impart sovereignty for that person to then go and practically work through, feel what's going on in their body and over time overcome that pain. They're the kinds of people that you're working with and the people who are still into like hectically optimizing their movement and exploring it. Just creating that kind of, that center. I just wanted to bring that context before you go on.
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's a really useful context cause I've been in both sides of the coin. I've been in a high performance sporting, strength training or like strongman type kind of...
And table tennis.
I love table tennis. I still do actually.
Didn't you Go into the states or something, the state final. Like who is that?
Yeah, I was playing at a state level. For a time as a kid, that works against me cause none of my friends will play me.
Oh, let's go play downstairs after this.
Yeah, be gentle on me.
I'm a bit rusty. So yeah, it's all like very finite timing and rhythm with that..
But um... So you're going to like, I love all that. I love that raw physicality and then I couldn't do it. So I had to look at a totally different way of relating to the body.
Is this when you injured yourself.
Yeah, yeah. Like that's when, and that was, it was an acumen... I hadn't noticed the whispers of my body so until I wasn't able to listen or maybe I was, but I wasn't choosing to and then it just turned into an all out scream. I'm just like, no fucking hell you can't do that.
Is this the scoliosis?
Yeah, totally. Like that was a manifestation of the pain and that sort of thing because I couldn't sit up straight, couldn't stand up straight, I couldn't breathe deeply.
And this was, even though you were like climbing ropes like really quick and you were doing muscle ups and so you were seemingly ideal, you would have been able to like get like 100,000 on Instagram, like bang.
We've talked about this. You don't have the Instagram skills.
That's true. That's true.
Anyway. But yeah, I like that. That's the realm of it because that's one thing I've kind of, because I have, sometimes a bit of a no, maybe not these days, but for like two years up til two years ago, like a wandering eye when my watch someone like he knows anything. Rock climbing, ocean swimming, dislike, Parkour just been like far out, like I feel like I compare, I got, I've really, that's the level, that's what I've got to get back to.
Like I can't just go and like, with my body surfing, I'm an avid of body surfer and my whole thing is.
You're like a dolphin in the water.
Thank you. And I like look, sometimes I look at like the, I'm literally looking at like the top 10 body surfers in the world. And I'm like, right, that's the level I've gotta, I've gotta get to. And so it's like, I've got this, it's about me and the pressure I put on myself and give an inch, take a mile. In terms of my what I, what I have to do, but it's also a bit of the projection for optimal health in the realm of physicality and just from, do not ever get jealous ever. You do not know what that ripped guy is dealing with in terms of tension, in terms of whether he can really lift his arms up and hold something above his head.
Like there's like even the CrossFit kind of like arena, even in that like in the primal arena, I'm, you just claim little bits because like as you were saying, you had your scoliosis going on yet I'm sure people would come into the gym and be like, yeah, I really want to be like Benny. Benny's hectic in the gym. Look at the way he cartwheels and everything like that. Yeah. There's this silent scream underneath it and quite often it's an emotional silent scream. So I was like, don't project too much onto these like people that you see, like especially yogic ones that you see on Instagram.
Totally. Yeah. Like I the thing that we're bringing out is that if you look at this concept of like be, do, have and like I just, I observed that, we're human first before we do anything, like we've got to look at ourselves at our level of being like, who am I being right now in this thing? And if I want to be someone else and that's my motive to do it, well then that's, you never know what it's like to live in someone's skin. And if you're so focused on what someone else has achieved, you neglect the purpose of even existing because you're not aware of your own inner inspiration for why you do things.
And for a long time I wasn't, like I was doing physical practice because I was afraid of being judged of being like this young kid when I, it's like quite small and perceived to be weak and like I'm a sensitive guy, that's my nature. But I covered it up with muscle for a long time. So a lot of my journeys are being about reconnecting back with that. And now seeing that, well muscle for me that's moving house, that's picking up kids, that's like playing around, that's not getting injured or being more resilient to injury.
That's other people's kids ladies, don't worry he's not taken.
Yeah. So it's a fundamental difference so now the love that I have just for using my body is there, I just, if I'm crawling on the ground, if I'm standing, if I'm walking, if I'm breathing, like there's a love there that I experienced that's unquantifiable that I bring to whatever I'm doing. So it might look like, and I do a lot of physical practice, but for some people it might look like, Oh, he's training for all these hours a day. And he, this kind of, there's a discipline and an intensity and all that. I've got to do that to be that, but for me it comes from a totally different place. And it's something that I've noticed with, with all people who really thrive.Like you were saying like the higher level parkour people or body surfers or musicians or business people or anything like that.
They've discovered their own way to it and like my thing is I've just realised that we've all got something in common. We've all got a body, and even if you are the top body surfer in the world, the top business person in the world, the top whatever in the world, we've gotta remember the basic nature of this body. Like we've got to have freedom of breath. We've got to be able to like relax our body at deep levels, while we're doing stuff not just on the couch?
Well its something very interesting there. You said about like that inherent love of moving your body because that was important for me to remember to not just Poopoo what I was doing with my exploration of pure physicality because I was getting off my ass and moving and exercising and these are amazing things because I had momentum and there were obviously shreds of just pure spontaneous joy that I had because I was just, oh my gosh, I'm alive and I'm exploring and that and that's amazing. And like remembering that that's like, that's the inlet, that's the way the water goes. The path of least resistance for me to continue to cultivate and procure like my own practice because an inherent love, that's something I sometimes, especially when I'm busy, I really, it's the first thing to go and I fall into that.
Like the movement is thing at a thing on the checklist. And so I either will become just like apathetic towards my practice or I'll just become complacent completely towards it or charge on and do it because it's on my list. And I've kind of like internally agreed that I'd do it. That's what's right. Rather than the practice Then just being to stop and pause and find that inlet. And why was like, it was a beautiful... a Joy to be in my body in the first place and a joy to move. And it's just almost too simple. And sometimes I feel like, oh gosh, that's feels like such a wonky way to fucking spend my morning. And I, that's like what's what comes out and it's, and I honestly have to just like, just hold on a little bit longer with my intent.
Just hold on a little bit longer and find some spark like what where is that like that loving nature for myself. I mean, it's just works in the same, in every single way. Don't take mushrooms because they're going to give you immunity completely. That doesn't last for 30 years as an intention. It's because I love myself and you'd love the the herb and you'd love it. You love your expression of health and rah rah. I don't know whatever, like anything. Don't stay in that relationship because you got married and you, and you should, like, you find that love for yourself and that love for why it's beautiful to be in a relationship with the first place.
And then if it works out then that pause over for the other person. So that's, I mean this is what we're talking about. And often that these are all really nice concepts. But then how do you actually cultivate that? We've done I've worked on a few of your camps and immersions and we've done like lots of handstands and we've done bits of like lizarding around. So I know my body is capable of like some things and my body's capable of like some pretty extensive standing meditations and all these things which are like, Ooh, awesome Taoist.
Kind of like standing meditations and I like doing that because it's our last three month block that we did. It was like for the first month, this is where just going and getting it in a yoga class as a download here and there, it's great, but there's a dedicated practice or like almost daily for that first month it was, what is it for you to approach life from a place of a parasympathetic state and then explore that state...
and allow the color of your approach and your extreme physical practice, your day at your work, being with Aiya, whatever it was in a state of being parasympathetic.
Yes. That was, I... And this is what it takes. And then...
That was like, and this is what it takes in order to like procure and cultivate. What's going to cultivate something? Consistency and practice.
So just again, you started going into like, "Where do we start?"
Can you start talking about in where we start, why you don't give things and practices, but rather you like to teach principles and then layer on practices to those principles?
Yes, yeah. Yeah. So, what I have noticed the power of first, just touch on as we were talking about simplicity, and often it's discounted as "Oh that's too easy" or whatever. But if we really look into simple things, we start to discover that there's ultimate complexity. It's like if you take anything in nature and you put it under a microscope, you're just dumbfounded with how freaking amazing a leaf is. A particle of air, the structure of water. It's the same within all of us. So, if we start off when we have too many things to focus on, well then we get distracted from our essential nature, you know? So, just to link with also what we're talking about with like, to experience a greater sense of love for who we are, for what we're doing, for our bodies, for life.
If what we're able to do with others, I know that's something we taught. It's like the ultimate cliche but you know, you've said it recently and I was just like, "Oh, like Benny's just owning that." You're like, "I just love being of service."
When you said that, I was like oh, fucking, that's really nice, Benny.
I really liked it.
And that has happened because I've continued to discover ways of filling myself up, for discovering who am I? What do I like? And also holding that lightly of going, I can also grow to like this thing that I don't like, and why don't I like that thing? And like throughout this, what I've noticed is like love is not a word. You know, like we can, it is this era of you've got to be loving to yourself. And that becomes an identity in and of itself as well. But love is a vibe. It's a frequency. You know? And I know that that's a really cliche thing because people identified around that in the new age spiritual world as well.
Yeah. I mean, I think even just the fact when you look at, we've got one word for it in English, there's four ways of saying it in Spanish, like 64 in sanskrit, you know, like there's like obviously we're talking about a frequency or something which has got nuance and you know, of course, different sides and shapes.
Yeah, so the question then comes up, you know, when I look at it, and this is the same as when I work with people, is how do we tap into and actually perceive that frequency of existence? How do we perceive these fine things that make us who we are, that are not our language? How do we perceive this highly intricate, complex but very simple language of our bodies. And once we do, like we see, if you look at like, there's such examples that I think we can all relate to with unconditional love, like a dog, you know, like just dogs just, they just give love, you know? And yes, they're different organisms and maybe they have a different consciousness and all of that sort of thing. I don't know what it's like. But you know, the experience of love when that dog that's full of love, like you know, a dog that I grew up with in a relationship for some time, she would just come up and reach up and heart to heart, where you have this moment of connection and it's as my perception of my body's grown, I've started to experience the energetic transference between me and that living organism, you know? And I've realised that there is, we were just a complete vessel of energy and that's moving around us. It's moving through us all of the time.
So if we start off and we try and do exercises just to fix this injury or do that thing and-
Get stronger, get more flexible.
Yeah, whatever it is, whatever the goal is. Not that it's bad because I love, I love physical exercise, you know, don't get me wrong, but I find it's really useful to start to just be simple and just see what's there. You know, like we would, let's say as an example of a practice we might lay on the ground, we might observe our breathing and just observe what comes up for us. So for someone, they might notice I've got certain physical restrictions like muscular aches and pains or I've got, and there's like a stuck-ness as I breathe, or when I come up, when I breathe, I get really, there's emotions that come up at surface. This came to me after I started Qigong practice, different Shaolin forms of Qigong a long time ago, and I noticed I got really angry while I was doing it and I was perplexed by this. I was like, why am I getting angry at this thing that's supposed to make me really relaxed and peaceful and cultivate Qi and all these sorts of things. I have these intellectual ideas of it, but I had no idea of what that actually meant.
That's interesting. I mean that's the same as sometimes when people take Qi tonic, like Astragalus or even its more extreme like Ginseng and they're like, right, this is going to give me energy and they get tired. It's like yeah, you're actually starting to tap into something which won't, you know it's got its patterns but it's going to, your body is going to do what your body needs and you right now you need to be down-regulated for example, or right now, because that's an interesting thing with the Qigong. I don't know where you're going with it, but it's like, rather than go, oh, there's something wrong, it's going, that's interesting. Now, what's next? If I'm not going to be handed these results on a platter, I'm given, oh now there's something else to explore. Now there's another opportunity. It might be the 5% of the time where it's like that practice or herb is just not for you, but that's very rare. Quite often it's like, here's some material to work with. Now where do you need to go?
Exactly. Exactly. So the thing if I link back to the Qigong thing is I might've thought that this is not for me.
You know, and until I started to open my mind and I dropped a lot of the rigidity around, you know, this is the way to prove. This is the way to position my body. I just started to do what I could do. There was a real humbling in that. I banged my head up against the wall of trying to be something else for long enough until I realised that that just goes to more of that. And then I start to look at this art and go, hmmm.. There are fundamental ways of relating with this thing. There are principles underneath that I wasn't noticing.
Just like the principle of moving from your center, as a simple example of instead of me trying to put more of my limbs in different places and try and force them to be there and be there and all that sort of thing, I just started to focus for a while on moving the center point of my body so we could say the hips or we could say like around kind of the lower abdomen area, you know, just to make it simple. And then I just watched how the rest of the body started to respond as I moved my center. And naturally I noticed that, oh, okay, everything's starting to move more together. So then there's less effort as I'm doing this thing. And then I noticed that, oh, when there's less effort, I'm noticing that there's more energy flowing. I'm at least perceiving these things. So, that's an example of a principle.
So basically what I initially get people to do is simple things with their body and to notice how they respond or react to those things. So then we can gather more information because if anyone says to you listening, or anyone that I know what you need to fix you, call bullshit. You know, because they don't, no one knows what it's like to live in anyone's skin. And that's one of the challenges, is we're all, not all, but there are a lot of people, and this is what I experience when people come to see me, is they've experienced the result of delegation of their own self care for a long time. You know, they've delegated it to the chiropractor, they've delegated it to the doctor, they've delegated to the osteo, to the physio, to the CrossFit trainer-
To the yoga studio-
To the yoga studio and the instructor at the yoga studio, to all of these things, and none of it's wrong.
It's like the best time to be exploring your health right now.
Oh my God. Like it's just-
It's just weird. It have such opportunity. And also there's a slippery slope on both sides of that thing.
Of course, yeah.
And so, here you've got all this wonderful information, these ancient teachings that are coming out and there's some people who are really genuine in the way they present it. But then here it is, is the average person has been highly hypnotised. We live in a hypnotised reality. You look at even like a traffic light, you know, like all that it takes to induce hypnosis is eye fixation and muscle relaxation and you can induce a hypnotic state. There's a principle by the way. So, if you look at that, the traffic light goes green. I look at the traffic light and kind of in my own little world and then all of a sudden I'm at my destination. How did I even get there? You don't remember because you were just in another world, you were in a hypnotic state.
So on and on we can go through life, alarm goes off, get up, brush your teeth, do something with your kids or your family or whatever it is. Or if you don't have a family, you get up and you go to work or do that thing that you do. And then on repeat, we're kind of this in this pattern. And so even, you know, I've been self employed for most of my adult life, but still I noticed there's parts of me like get up, do you work, do your thing. I have to continue to check in and go, okay, what do I need today? And often we don't ask that. So what I look to do when people are getting started is to take them to a place where they can reconnect with what is happening in the present moment and get better and better at that. So then we can apply that.
It's a reverse to a lot of the fitness and health culture of, here go do this class and get this thing and then your life gets better. But what I like to focus on is build a bridge from within your practice, but then apply it in your life and then it's a circular nature of like, life informs me. I come back into my practice, my awareness goes naturally higher when I'm just focusing on that thing. And then I apply it to this more complex situation. So in this example, when we did this work, when you were talking about that month of just focusing on your breathing and just focusing on increasing your perception of what it is to be in a parasympathetic or rest and digest state. Because a lot of the time people don't know that, you know, I didn't know that. I was in fight or flight all the time and that's why my body wasn't healing. And that's why tension was building up because my mind was like running hot, you know? And so when I went to do that Qigong, I experienced all that heat. It all started to come out because I started to, my intention was to relax and all that sort of thing. So it started to happen, but it's not always an easy process.
You know, when the body starts to, like in this classic examples of this in say like Chinese Medicine, you get like cupping, you know, you're going, I've got this stuff going on. Maybe it's localised with your back or maybe it's with some of the organs or something. And you, the way cupping works or just an example of it, is you get a cup, it's a glass cup and they put it on the skin and then they heat the cup up and that cup causes like a vacuum and it draws up all like stagnant blood and energy and all sorts of different things out of the skin. So then at the end of it, it looks like you've had this epic battle with this giant squid. The cup marks are on your back and all that sort of thing. So-
You see them more and more these days and lots of people are cupping and I think it's after Michael Phelps did it.
Totally, like all these things become popular. So then, you look at it and if the untrained eye was to look at this, and the thing is, we're training our perception to be able to see things no longer as good or bad. So then we can naturally allow the body to be, to heal, to do what it needs to do to thrive. That's its basic nature, I noticed. We only impose the things upon the body. It doesn't do it to us. The body is so innocent. It's like a little child. Like if the child, if it spills milk or whatever, you know, it doesn't know that's a good or a bad thing. Only the adult comes in and their reaction teaches the child and then that embeds in the physical body and so we go through our lives and we accumulate these things.
All these congestions, all these past experiences, physical in like not just imbalances but habits and emotional habits and thought habits.
All these things, like tension is just often a symptom of conflict between the body and the mind.
And again, just consistency, right? It can be just so simple, but a little bit of muscular tension that correlates to a particular emotion that happens four times a day. It happens around a particular organ. Of course that's going to create a blockage of Qi and then a blockage of Fluids and a blockage of Blood. And of course that's going to be a little bit uncomfortable and give rise to further emotion and then all it would have taken is a little bit of more, you know, very simplistic conversation. But in theory the idea is, if we were just slowing slowing down on a regular, you know, two or three times, four times, five times, you know, six times a week just stopping, slowly feeling, you know, work. I can't really feel in that place. What is that emotion to keep, I'm going to get a sense of it, explore it.
It's a very simple shit. It's very, I don't say like, you know, I know it's simple, of course, you know, it's like pulling teeth with myself sometimes. But nonetheless, I do what I can so that they don't continue to end up like a grouchy asshole of a 60 year old. I might still have my little angry outbursts, but I ensure that I know the pattern of tension where that's going. And I can, you know, you slowly but surely you start to be able to kind of, you know, doesn't at least not accumulate it, so you don't, so it doesn't, it doesn't explode especially on to other people or anything like that. That's just very simple. It's what the practice is about. And I like it because the way you approach it, I like, especially because I'm not practicing Qigong, not practicing a yogic technique. We can talk about the inspiration, where the inspiration that these things come from, but we don't need to be practicing Tai Chi. I don't need to be practicing Taoist Standing sequences. I don't need to be practicing Kung Fu forms.
Although those things might occur and although there is respect from where inspiration came from. We talk about that a lot.
You talk about where you fucking studied and of course, but what we're gleaming is, is the principles that are ensconced within those systems. Because quite often people think like, no, no, no, no. If you, if you're practicing Taoism, you need to do Qigong in this way and you need to take these herbs and then you need to do these kinds of dark retreats. And that's the system. Don't go outside the system. And to an extent that's true, especially when you're in practitioner clinical healing spaces. It's sometimes dangerous to go outside of the system.
But when we're talking about procuring our own life and exploring ourselves, I feel like it gets detrimental very quickly when you can't go beyond the label and old system. Whereas at the same time, where's the respect for them? The respect is understanding the principles of what was being handed over by those systems and then staying dedicated to your own.... Cultivation of those principles being present in your own life, where relevant. I feel like that's very, I've been meditating on this for many years. I'm someone that gets very attracted, like a moth to the flame. I can get attracted to the shiny things and then get very dejected when I can't achieve them. But I sabotage myself from achieving them beforehand because I know that I knock. I know myself, I know that I'm not going to be happy at the end of that road. I know when I finally hold it, I'm not that happy. I'm not that happy with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I know that, like extensively, and so then balancing out, although I like a little bit of it though, you know, balancing that out with this exploring the principality of you know, of movement and the way you know, the way tension works in the body and the way physical expression works and you know, that's what I feel is different here just in case people are like, what are you guys banging on about? Why do you care if I do very specific Qigong and I'm like well, I don't really care. But you know, I love practicing like Yin Yoga or a particular Yin Yoga sequences. But I mean you can take that practice away and that name away any day of the week and that's not going to touch me. I think that's like, in and around that, you know, can we start exploring what seeds, you know, are you exploring, especially with the chronic pain, you know, what principles are you exploring within the physical practice, you know, and stillness practice, aspect of that.
Yes. So with chronic pain, you know, and this is a reflection of my own journey and then as I made my way out of this chronic situation, you know, and for those who don't even know what chronic means, it's something that hangs around for really generally a period of like three months or more.
Hmm. Yeah. You were hurting.
For a long time. We're talking years, you know, where waking up in the morning was not a pleasant experience.
What about psychologically being a movement person?
Yeah, the interesting thing that I noticed was, I was very good at suppressing my feelings. So this is the paradoxical nature of things is sometimes the mind just like, get on with it. This is where I didn't notice all the whispers. I didn't notice all of the emotions where I felt I needed to say something. But then I didn't want to be judged. So then I just put it down, I squashed it into some dark cavern in my body, which was really like around my hips. So all of these things, these chronic things that are happening, they tend to be a result of something that's happening in the mind.
So if this is where a lot of modalities that don't address that fall short, and none of them, once again I'm putting down, but like if you look at say, I've got a tight muscle. So logic would say, and a common approach would say, well I've got to stretch that muscle or I've got pain in a certain area so I've got to stretch out in other areas, so then I don't get the pain.
I mean it's still like, even you, you're the most, and you've been doing this for a long time, you're really advanced, you get a tight neck, you're like oh stretch out there and it might be relevant for like, you know, the 20% kind of...
Exactly. Stretching is not the problem. But then within stretching, so like if we look at like within a movement, you know, and not just stretching, but then there's the way the human is being as they're doing the thing. And that will determine the outcome of the thing. You know? So for me, growing up I wasn't, I suppose the most flexible kid, but that was reflective of my inner essence. I can be really stubborn, but also that's a real strength, I can be tenacious as well. I needed to learn how to get to know that, you know, actually through my body taught me because it showed me when I was stubborn, because I would get tense, I would get pain, I would get all of these things. So then through my physical practice I started to look at, okay, how can I work with this essence of who I am and then allow that to start to move out more, I suppose expressively, creatively, adaptively through my body rather than this rigid manifestation of a habit.
So like when I work with people with chronic pain or any, actually any stuck-ness, it doesn't have to be pain because like 9 out of 10 people that I've ever spoken to, something's stuck. Something's stuck within their own mind or their body and I like to see the two as the same thing. So I realised that we can't go into trying to address these things. These stuck things by trying to answer things that we do not yet understand. So yeah, we're often going into it. It's like, how do I fix this? How do I release my tight hip flexors?
I was just going to say, we got that question to answer later on Instagram and it's almost like, I can refer you to this conversation.
Yeah, absolutely. Like, you know, how do I do all these things? Well, first you've got to know why the hell it's happening in the first place. You know?
Well yeah, let's talk about that. Why, why?
How do you explore that?
Yeah, and that is the question. So, like if we look at it, you could, you know, and I went down the path of I was diagnosed. Why did I have back pain? Well, because I had scoliosis.
Ah, problem solved.
Yeah. Sweet. There's like-
Go see your osteo-
Yeah, there's a real sense of security in that diagnosis. And that's often what I notice that people, and I don't like peopling people but it's a common thing that happens when people come and see me, is they, they're really clever. They're like, oh, I've got this, I've got chronic fatigue.
Well, how about like, I've got tight hips.
There's a story. I've got tight hammies and tight hips. So I'm confident in that.
Yeah, totally. Right? So like, why do I have that? You know, why do I have tight hips? Why do I have this scoliosis? Why do I have all these things?
Chronic fatigue. Any one, like anything that's chronic, yeah? Is, my experience, and I'm open to being disapproved on this as well, is just, chronic things are things that you do to yourself. You know, so why am I doing this to myself? Yeah. And that's the question. So we've got to first start to, we need a vehicle to be able to uncover these things. So like the process around chronic pain and just reconnecting with the body, is built around questions, you know, questions like that are really clear. Like am I responding or reacting to the sensations of my body right now?
All right, well let's talk about that. How would one, how like because this is something, yeah, yeah, yeah, I respond not react. Taking that from a concept-
For you to go through, say like an eight hour work day where you are responding and not reacting and then going into like a half an hour like class, yoga class, you know or go into an hou and 15 minute yoga class and respond and not react. If you're going to Christmas with your family and there's a value of physical, it is your physical body. And you said, that mind-body connection. I feel like most people, again would, listening would understand that concept that you can't separate the mind and the body. But then in exploring the reality of that, I know sometimes I'm still like, okay, I know it's true. Let's go in and explore that again, to.. So I can actually feel it.
I mean, that process, you know, do we need to walk around like a drugged up monk? You know like, drugged up on meditation, you know, like where's, I know there is, I know the answer. I'm being somewhat facetious, however, still that's like we, sometimes we rely on our rajibaji nature and our willpower, our will. Not our Treasure, like Zhi in Taoism, not that will, that essence of you know, and the five wills that emerge correlated to our Jing and correlated to the five wills that emerged through our Shen and our spirit. Talking about like, you know, it's like, right-
Will, I'm going to will my life through this and I'm going to use that coffee and I'm going to do, you know, that's pure reaction. And what's the patterns through our reaction become very functional sometimes. Of course they're not functional longterm and they fucking, you know, they take our relationships and the way we were like, you know, and our of service and all that and drudges it through the mud eventually, when our patterns are using us because you know, and I bring this up from conversations we've had, but you know, how do we get to that place consistently. I know you don't have a formula or an answer but even just without, you know, without being ourselves, without thinking that we need to be a certain way, you know, I remember even part of me going, because you're a very calm person. You've noted, in our talks, you remind me, remember you're much more of a hectic person Mason, you know like-
We're different, you know.
We're different. But at times I've gone like, right, holy shit. I mean Benny's a very calm guy and I'm like, and I at times I've used that as like my stake in the ground for like how I'm going to go out. Like bringing a very calm, you know, kind of mediated way of speaking, you know, pausing, you know, that's how I perceived you a lot of the time until I was like, all right, that's been useful for a particular amount of time and now I need to, and go and then, and find my own way. So I mean that concept of, responding and not reacting to talk about the principal. And let's talk about the practices.
So first let's clarify, just at least some terminology. So like a response is nothing more or less than a conscious choice.
So just, I am choosing.
Not necessarily the right choice.
This is not about right or wrong.
That's very good.
So it's just, just a choice that you're consciously choosing. And that could just be something as simple as you weigh out your pros and your cons, and you look at both sides of the thing and you go, ah, I'm going to choose this. Not because of something. This is where the trap is. So reaction in my perspective, this is just my own definition and is when something is unconscious. So it's just something that happens, you know, like a knee jerk reaction, you know, which is like, you know when someone in the doctor's office, they hit that tendon and pop, the leg goes like you are not in control of that. And that's not to say that we need to be this controlling in nature.
Well I think in that we know what it's like to be in flow states because quite often we think, I have to react in my line of work or in my sport. I have to be able to react but when you look at say like the greats of any sport of, you know of, whether it's football or martial arts, even in the most high pace situations, it's that phenomena of well, time can slow down and I can still make choices in those instant situations.
Yes, exactly. Exactly. You really, really pinned the nail on the head. So, response is a conscious choice, reaction and conscious. And then what I was saying before was be aware of the because. Right? It's like I'm doing this because of that. Where does that because come from? It's often a product of reason, of rationale. And if we look at that, our rational reasoning mind, it's like a filing cabinet. So like we go through life, we experience things. I stub my toe. Ah, that's bad. I'm going to put that in the bad category. Or you know, like I did this practice and that felt really good. I'm going to put that in the good category. So then we continue to project past experiences into the present moment. So these are reactions.
I mean it works in the same way. Like if you're like me when I did my teacher training and developed this habit of Ujjayi breath all the time. And so I react in my own practice, you know, with a pattern that I've created and a rule that I've created for myself and that can eventually be weeded out and worked out and I can appropriately, use Ujjayi, of course.
But that was a reaction.
Yes, totally. totally. Yeah. So like this is where we need to start to attune to. Like, as I make a decision for my body as I'm choosing to do something, it's.. Like starts to turn into more a knowing. It's like, why do you like something, a lot of people ask me, why do you practice? And I can say, because of this and because of that and all that sort of thing. But actually I kind of don't fully know. I'm still discovering that and I'm on a journey. Like each time I practice, even if the practice is the same, I'm continuing to discover myself through the practice.
Because what would then motivate you to kind of get there to the first place. Is it curiosity? Is it ambiguity as a complete mystery? Is it because you have to do something with your energy or is it that question like who am I and what am I here to do? Which you've stated-
What is it for you?
Yeah for me, definitely that who am I? is an interesting question that I'm, it's interesting as you go down that path at least for me, I'm discovering this person almost like from a watcher looking in, of going, oh this Benny character, he likes these things and all that sort of thing. And that's just the character of Benny. And then there's all these other things that he, pardon me, is interested in and all that. I don't really know why, you know, so you just continue to sort of watch and you make decisions, and then you continue to like, one thing with this is just continuing to decide consciously to just check in like a little gut check per se. I've just like, is this right for me? Is this for my highest good? You know, and it just might be a second. You don't need to dwell on it too long. It's like, is it for my highest good to go to yoga class today or is it for my highest good to go for a walk? You know, like that might be the thing. Or is it for my highest good to do some breathing or go to the gym or whatever it is we need to, I find this really useful to check in, and get better at tuning that muscle.
How do you get a reference for the outcome there, in terms of your highest good? Has that got any anchors?
Yeah. So, and it's a good question because I look at things through the interface of the body because the body is less allusive than the mind. It's like bound by physical laws and principles. And so when stuff's happening in the mind, the body will tend to show if we can listen. So when I look at a response, I tend to look at, there's a few things, you know, and this is, as I take people through this breakthrough, your pain process. This is one of the first things that we do of, okay I can observe my breathing. So how is my breathing responding or reacting to this situation? You know, whether I'm doing a practice or whatever. What am I noticing about my breathing? If my breath is tensing up, if it's becoming really erratic, it's not good or bad, but I can start to choose that. I can choose the situation I put my body in and might be like, you know, I was talking with someone on a call the other day and he was doing a practice and you know, it's a practice that I had given him to explore. And yet he wasn't aware at that time, in his own learning process of as he was doing it, he was holding his breath, right? So therefore his breath’s in a reactive state. So he could watch that and go, oh, my breath is being held. That's not really going to help my body being free and open and available to move in this case or any case because breath's the life force of life. So we can look at our breath and then we could choose, oh, you know, maybe I need to make this a little easier. Then things might come up.
So then one other thing that we can respond to is focus, right? So as I'm going into, you know, like if I look at stretching out an area, releasing pain in an area and all that sort of thing, what am I choosing to focus on? Right? If I'm looking at, this muscle's tight, I'm going to zoom in on that. Well then you lose reference to its relationship to the whole.
Well that's like when my knee was niggling and as soon as I took my attention off the breakdown of the nuance of the compartmentalisation of this problem being within my knee, had very, very quickly dissipated.
And I wasn't doing any physi-
physio style movements or anything like that.
Yes, on a common approach, a common reaction.
Yes. Which is of course, for some people in some instances I think that might be useful, but we've got like... I'm talking about this instance where... My knee, there could have become problems and were problems heavily until I started actually going barefoot. This is over 10 years ago and running in an appropriate manner. And then just again recently, lots a time in the office and things like that. Again it comes up and I think all you said was the knees are just quite often this bridge.
Yes, the messenger.
The messenger. I just look at it. And almost your, wasn't nonchalant, but your nonchalantness to an extent was what made me go, "Right. You know what? Yes, this isn't anything to be alarmist about. I will just notice... And I don't have any particular answers, nor do I want fucking answers of what it was and what was happening. I was very aware of my feet and my hips and the way that I was, been in touch with them as I was walking and moving and running around, and that was enough.
Exactly. Yes. If you go a little further on that, you look at that example of the knee or a tight muscle or a painful area or an ankle, whatever it is, we can respond with our breathing. We can choose that. Response is a conscious choice. We can respond with what we focus on. Notice where your focus goes reactively, unconsciously. I focus in on the tight thing, the pain, the whatever. I focus in on the future.
It's a reaction.
These are all reactions, right? They're not you choosing what's happening in the moment because all that matters is what's happening here and now. If you want to get better at your body, get better at being present.
When you have people who have been chronically in pain over three months, I'm sure years a lot of the time, they're programming their, Western programming in terms of what they still are focusing on, whether it's still stretching that area or they're still... Because I know what it's like. You're like, "What other options do I have? I need to just keep on focusing on that and that at least keeps me afloat." Often you're either inviting a new way in how to not react because our old patterns and our indoctrination comes off into manifestation as our reactions. And you quite often need to be like, "That physio way of looking at it is fine. Gleam a little bit. Now let's make that not necessarily the chosen action. Well, let's not react with that just because it's what you know."
Yes. A great example is, the physio model, it can work.
And does often.
Yes. They wouldn't be there if they didn't work.
I think that's true. I know people, and I know physios that are really effective, but that statement is very amicable of you, but also there are institutions that exist because there's a faith and almost a Stockholm syndrome, even though they're very, very ineffective.
That's very true. Also, very true. When we say something like physio, there's 10,000 different variations because it's all dependent on the practitioner. I've got some good friends who are great osteos and that sort of thing, but the great osteos, they're not osteos. They're people who have fallen in love with the body and they just call themselves osteo so people can recognise what they are.
It's a perfect example of what we're talking about. You're right. We'll use a label. I mean, how else are people going to know what the hell to get? That's why I'm happy to use the word adaptogen at SuperFeast. It's not what I do. That's a very reductionist way to look at a herb. It's why we practice Taoist Tonic Herbalism, but of course I use the word adaptogen. You use the word osteo.
Yes, why are they good? Why are they effective?
Yes. That's what I'm fascinated by and not just me being... I've noticed through my own cultivation, my ability of healing others is much, much higher than what I could have comprehended. I barely ever do it because that's not what I'm here for. I'm here to impart that to someone else to heal themselves and to also realise that they don't make healing because they're not broken.
Well, you're talking about a healing in terms of getting back to a sense of somewhat normality that's livable, therefore you're healed, right?
More so to return to your center.
No, I'm talking about the other one. If you are going to impart healing on someone, then that's getting someone to three years remission after cancer and going, "All right, off your pop. I've given you chemo and your radio and your three years afterwards. Now we've healed you. Tick." And then that person dies a year later and it's like, "Well, we healed you." I think that's what you're talking about in terms of that ability you have to get people back to a working place they can, "Oh, yes. You've given them the healing, the system, just keep that up." Of course, it's not them so they're not going to be able to take that consistency and they're going to go and fuck it up again.
That's true because there's a fundamental... I sometimes use this analogy of the body's this wonderful river and when there's stuff going on, it's often the result of someone taking a piss upstream. And your focused on the current downstream, but sometimes you've got to look upstream to where it came from. Grab that little kid...
I was like, "Oh, what's he going to grab?"
By the ear, by the scruff of the neck and say, "Don't piss in my river anymore. That's not a okay." They go away and then you have less stuff coming through the system. This is all the stuff that's coming through the river. We can react or respond to.
Well, that's very interesting in that analogy. We can react and yell or we can respond and go, "How are we going to ensure that this doesn't continue long term."
Totally. If you consider the relationship, you go back to that little kid. If you're really strong with him and you, or her, you make them, force them to do something against their will, right?
Anyone who's a parent knows that works with a toddler, a little kid. Likewise, it happens with our inner child, right?
Absolutely. We always rebelling against ourselves. You go and if you try and rip them out, put them somewhere else, they're just going to come back because they're like... When you're not looking.
I've got attention on me.
Whatever, great. I don't care if it was bad. Remember when it was bad attention, it was attention nonetheless. I'm not going to get it any other way.
Yes, you go upstream, you see what's happening. You look at it and you start to see why that's happening. This is the process of responding better and better, right? And then you can see then how the body, all the things that are happening in the body as a result of this seed. But we wouldn't have got that information if we just focused on the pollution coming down the river. The symptoms, the symptom of pain, the symptom of tightness, the symptom of emotional trauma. All these things are symptoms that came from somewhere that at some point I've noticed we chose. I've been through my own traumas in my childhood. I was beaten because a best friend of mine at the time told other people that I had a phone and they should rob me. That was a pretty traumatic event. That sat in me for a long time and it caused this very subtle stirring of my whole energy system that was manifesting physically.
You're talking about something here. Of course a therapist is going to exist for a reason when you're in the dark and there's no way of getting yourself out, but we're also talking about inner child, we're talking about traumas and patterns from when we were children and in the same way, again, we're so reductionist, that it's only going to be valid for us to explore these things a lot of the time if we go to the specialist and into the clinic. It's the same with herbalism and health advice and of course there's so many charlatans and shit heads out there just capitalising and putting out psychological information and health-based information. You need to be discerning and that's why if you run things through your inner filter and if you've got your own personal practice, long term it's not going to be realistic to go to the shrink, the naturopath, the herbalists, the osteo and everyone.
You need to be taking a little bit of that power back. Being able to chop wood and carry water daily in our practice and feel these emotions and how they're relating to us is going to be actually sustainable, just going and relying on a therapist for the rest of your life. There may be in some instances it is useful, but majority of the time it's not going to be right. With your pain people, the pain people, you look at them.
The funny thing is I don't even like to use the term pain.
Well, this is something I've just come up into me. That wasn't very PC, Mason, not because of that reason.
The program where I share this process is called Break Through Your Pain. I don't see pain in the same way, but it's an entry point because we can resonate with that to start and that's a gateway. It's like osteo is a gateway and a good osteo will start to transcend the limitations of the label of being an osteo, of the modality, and I find a good, good in inverted comments, but more effective approach to pain relief is it's not about pain.
In this instance, in taking people into the process that you're laying out for them to explore, just through working with lots of people and going, "Hmm." And working in old systems as well and going, "These are patterns that seem to work." Because they don't exist in the Western model, I think a lot of the time there's often people will get to you by exasperation, maybe because they trust you. They've tried many different things, but it's still hard in a reductionist Western model to have faith in these kinds of practices. I still find it...
Do what it's like? I was talking about activating the placebo with tonic herbalism. 2,000 years ago, these herbs were documented and they were called the superior herbs, and this is after what we know about 5,000, definitely more, years of usage and documentation within the most advanced herbal system. These are the 50 most incredible fucking herb's that we include in our diets and they help us keep everyone healthy and tone our Jing, Qi, Shen. Now people in the Western world didn't grow up with that. Where's the faith going to be? They don't know?
Yes, they haven't had that cultural background.
And it's the same with this movement... Of course these herb's work, of course these practices work, we know that. But you don't have the faith yet. What's your process of allowing people to, what I call in the herbalism, be consistent with the herb's for 30 days, 100 days. Then you feel how much they are, "Holy shit, these are legit. You've activated the placebo." I call this. How do you get people to activate the placebo? What are the initial principles and practices for getting into that place?
I tend to focus on people not giving their power away to something. It's a common thing of... Sometimes people ask me, "Oh, okay, what's the science on that?" I'm like, "Well, science can't even document a lot of these things. How can you document the happening of the body?" I've got friends who are top surgeons and that sort of thing and we would have conversations, and they would say, "I know every single muscle in the body. You're saying muscles I've never even heard of." And it's not even that, but he acknowledges, this is a friend who's a urologist, that there's things that we do not know about the body that cannot be explained.
Oh, God, the fact that he's admitting that is amazing
Here's someone, he's a very renowned surgeon, but he's really good at doing his thing. In a way, I love science. For me, I suppose I'm a bit of a scientist of research. I love discovering why things work, but also I sometimes just see when they do. And the thing is, is that things don't work, you make things work.
That's such a good distinction. Of course there's going to be, we need it in the Western world. We need to be able to verify things and we need to be able to validate things for a mass scale, but when you're talking about your own body, sitting back and waiting for the data to confirm something rather than allowing yourself to go and be able to discern it through your own physical and emotional perception, and spiritual perception even to an extent possibly, but not even that. It's physical perception. That is grade A scientism. That is grade A, you been attached to an ideology because you're shit scared to take responsibility for yourself and move forward. Unfortunately those are going to be the people that are going to start plugging themselves into virtual realities rather than coming back into closer communion with nature.
Potentially. It's definitely a direction.
There is that opportunity.
I love a little bit of virtual world. I love social media. I absolutely love it. I love navigating those places, but you got to watch it because I think there's like a split in the genetics coming for people that really hand them their own Jing. They'll literally hand their Jing over to these systems because ideologically you hand over your Jing basically. That's what you're doing.
At the end of the day, a big focus, and this has maybe been to my detriment from a business perspective and that sort of thing-
Yes, but because you're doing the thing that's true, it means you can actually continue doing it because you wouldn't have kept on doing your thing if you don't.. It's like when I do my talks, everyone's like, "Mason, slow down. The crowd won't like it." And I'm like, "Well, you know what they won't like even more? When I get bored of talking when I do it in your bullshit structured way."
Yes, exactly. A big thing has been for me to intentionally not to try push things upon people, like a label, a modality. A lot of the thing that I noticed that I do, and I say I noticed because I'm continuing to observe what I'm doing all the time and that's evolving, is to not put people in a box. We're covering a lot of different things and really it's about someone developing their own inner trust for themself to do whatever it is that they're doing. Once you've established that, then we can start to have a conversation that's more based on collaboration, that's more based upon discernment. Then we're working together rather than this thing of, "Here, I'm going to do this thing. Just trust me blindly and I'm going to fix you."
Yeah. I just like to go into things really truthfully and just say, "I don't know what's going on and neither do you and that's why this is happening. Let's work together. I've got my own experiences, I've got the benefit of having a pretty attuned eye and not being stuck in your own habits. I can see the pen stuck behind your ear because I'm just outside of you and I care." Whereas you might have just become accustomed to that pen being there forever and not notice the obvious.
I don't need trust. That's the thing. All I ask for is that someone trusts themselves and continues to work toward developing that trusting relationship where they don't give their power to me, where they don't give their power to anything externally of them and then they start to realise, "You know what, I'm really powerful. My every thought is a physical action that ripples through my body." And that's incredibly powerful to then apply that to any way that you use your body and that's where we go to. It takes some time. It's not easy, but it is the thing that.. You're in the driver's seat of your vehicle.
Well, as you said, a lot of the time it's not easy and I think that what you just said in terms of their perception of how powerful you are or whether it's that magical language that emerges of, "I've got some ability to move here. I've got some room to move within my own body." That realisation's insane. It's almost the silver lining, I can imagine of that initial aspect of when someone's practicing with you. And then because it's so easy to forget, that you continue in your practice. I assume where we will for the rest of our lives. When that's happening in the beginning, are you looking at releasing tension so you can perceive how a thought and the breath are moving through the body? How everything is interconnected in that sense, is that your initial physical steps?
Yes. Yes. If we look at that first layer of respond and react. What I tend to look at next is the breathing and this concept of whole body breathing. Every breath that we take has a potential to cause pressure changes that affects the whole body. Just as a visual, it goes in through your nose or your mouth depending on how you choose to do that breath and one's not necessarily better than the other. They have their purpose. It goes into the lungs, the lungs expand, the diaphragm starts to expand and it can then push on the organ systems and start to create movement. It's useful for that movement to ripple through the whole spinal column and for that then to effect the hips and that to effect the shoulders, which then can ripple out to the feet and all that sort of stuff.
Then if you're sitting here, like we are sitting now, or you're standing there or you're walking or you're doing an exercise, there's a greater potential for movement throughout the whole system. Then the question is, how do we get there? This is where I find it's really powerful to ask a question, am I able to breathe with my whole body? You don't necessarily know the answer to that question, but you know very quickly, yes or no. If no, then you start to then identify your own personal need and then where I come in is I give simple practices. We start at the basic of basics. Laying down on the ground and observing this principle. There's simple ways to do it and then we start to apply it more complexly to... Some people, when they're stretching, they just think about the stretch, the muscle that they're stretching. But what about as you're doing a stretch, the whole body moving, never being held. There's life flowing through it. There's physical subtle movement moving through it. Well, then that's a very different way to stretch.
It's very different. It's taken me a long time, so it should, so it still should to really understand the depth of that and to emerge from my, "Just really got to loosen these hamstrings. I've got to focus on these hamstrings before I allow the stretch to get to other places within my body when I'm doing a forward bend." I've indoctrinated myself very heavily into that and because I was in the yoga world, and I don't have a traditional yoga body, I had really great teachers who weren't judgmental or anything like that and would try to teach me otherwise because I was young and wanted the thing. I had the harshness of judgment on myself and, I guess, that's what's actually happening within my stretching practice at the moment. Why am I so resistant to this thing? What is it? Okay, going it again. And slowly but surely...
Which is an incredible... With no agenda and where's the agenda coming from? Whose physical output agenda are you working with?
Yes. You're working with your own in the moment as it changes. What you just said was the power in all of this is the layering of principles. What you just said then was you brought a conscious choice, in terms of where you're focusing on and how we're breathing, to a stretch. People don't look at these things. They just think, "Oh, a stretch. The same way I stretch in my gym class when I was in high school."
Do the shape.
Yes. Do you do the shape. Force my body in this position. I'm fortunate, I think, that that never worked for me. Then I started to ask why doesn't it work for me and why does it work for these other people?
Well, it works to an extent. It works in the beginning to get you hooked a lot of the time.
Potentially. It didn't work for me though. I couldn't even get into, you know?
Right. See, for me, Yin Yoga, which still has hooked me to an extent, but the shape shapiness of it rather than the principles. I learnt a lot of the principles from Tahns. I think that's why I think it's a good example of someone practicing a thing Yin yoga, but then people will go to one of Tahnee's Yin Yoga classes and be like, "Oh, why we're just talking about shapes and meridians and doing things to get particular outcomes." It's like, "No, you're exploring in through that practice." I've got a little bit of movement in through my hamstrings initially, which was that whole like, "Oh, hang on, there's something here. That's really amazing and I'm going to keep on going." And then many times if you focus on the shiny thing, the shapes, the cues, the outcomes, then you're not going to progress any further and you're going to hit this crazy plateau, but you're trapped because you know the thing works, but you possibly need to then go and alter your intention. You haven't been able to bridge over into more of an internal exploration.
Yes, that's very true. Yes. One thing we need to be adaptive with the body, with the continual sensations and signals that the body's giving. I find if you're a carpenter and you've got your tool belt. If you haven't got a tool for the job, you can't do the job and whereas try and unscrew a Phillips head screw if you haven't got a Phillips head screwdriver or a drill bit. Maybe you can fumble the Flathead to fit in there, but if you haven't got that tool, you can't do the job. And this is often the same case when people are using their bodies, like stretching for example, there's many facets to it or relieving pain, there's many facets to it. And if you don't know tools, I'm not saying these are the only tools, but it's better to have some tools than no tools.
I've got something to share it because I was just thinking about recently because you're quite good I think of going, "I'm going to introduce you to a tool and now remember that you are going to open up, you call it a tunnel. You're going to open up a doorway and you're going to walk down that developmental hallway, and remember at some point you're probably going to reach the end of that hallway and you'll open up and you will exit.
And that won't be so useful. Maybe that tool will still be there, but it won't have the same amount of relevance. Because I just thought about say, in the beginning, say we're exploring these principles that you're talking about, which we've touched on a few of them and we're going to keep on doing podcast guys to explore these things and we'll keep on sharing, but Benny's courses or cheap as chips. Well, they're not cheap as chips, I don't want to make it seem like they're the value of chips.
We're releasing all new offerings in 2020.
Well, the value is insane and it's very easily accessible. We're going to explore them, but as you move along, even in the beginning, you still might have your yoga mat and your, "I do this style. I do Taoist yoga." I've still got my rings downstairs. I've still got some kettlebells lying around. I've got my mace that I like. I like my rebounder and I like these things, however these tools, because we were talking about Bush Mechanic. I was thinking the carpenter, I was thinking, "Oh you know what? You think of a mechanic that needs all these hectic tools. And then it's nice to know that at any point you can drop every single little bit of equipment and every technique and be like that Bush Mechanic."
I tell people with the mushrooms and the herbs, you want to get to a point where if I take all of that away, you can still absolutely know how to get yourself back to your balance state and you want to be able to do that with your practice. Mentally, I do standing meditation, I do spinal waves. How do we drop all of it? And I'm going to be like a Bush Mechanic. I don't need any of the tools. Then you can go back to them of course.
That's what I've had to do to continuously.
Right, that's interesting.
That's come up so many times where I started to become dogmatize by my own practice.
Following your own guru.
Exactly, exactly. I still have teachers as well because I find them really useful to have someone who's an external lens who sometimes cares about you more than you care about you, to invite that level in. For me, stillness practices, standing meditation have been cornerstones of what I do for a long time and I've been known to stand for extended periods with an ideal focus on enlightenment and all these sorts of different things.
What are you talking about in terms of extended periods? Are we talking half an hour? Three hours?
Two, three hours sometimes. That might be in the morning and it might have been in the evening. These are probably for monthly focuses. For me, I was interested in not just what I could do but also what's happening here. When I first started stillness I didn't like it. Bloody hated it, but I knew that that's why. That's why I went further because I'm like, "This is challenging me in this way that I've never even experienced and I'm only doing this simple thing."
Can you maybe explain to people what a standing practice, very basic what it entails?
You stand still and you observe and you breathe and that's all. You could look at alignments and all sorts of different things. But what I find is, if your consciousness is distorting the body. Let's say that a thought that you have or emotions that you have and not just the ones in the moment, because sometimes people say, "Oh, well I feel angry and my body doesn't change." But what I'm talking about is the congestion, the build up of those thought patterns, the build up with those emotions. As you're standing there, you will likely experience the buildup of those things that have accumulated over time.
Right. For me, I guess my anger might not impact my body on a perceivable level at times, but it does impact what's going to be possible for me to do in two or three hours time or six hours time, or at the end of the day how I'm going to relate to my daughter because it might burn through a little bit of stuff then.
Yes, it accumulates things.
Sorry, go on.
Yes, the main thing I was saying is, it's a common thing of focus on your alignment and that sort of thing, but if we push that and we don't honor that there's all these things that are starting to pull us out of alignment. There needs to be an allowance to move towards better alignment so then the circulation can flow better. But this is still all a byproduct of mind. The beautiful thing of just standing there being still is, I love seated cultivation meditation practices, like laying trance meditation, they've all got their purposes, but standing sits really in a nice place in between, like Yin and Yang doesn't exist in isolation. There's a bit of Yin and a bit of Yang.
It sits right in the middle of that conversation of just, I'm actively using my body, so I'm using my muscles, I'm using the raw visceral thing that makes me, a physical human being and also I'm working on the inner aspects of me. From my energy flows, from my consciousness, from my circulation, from noticing my organs and all these sorts of different things. It merges the internal and the external really nicely in the most basic way possible because it's a common thing of you can be really attuned to what's happening when you're standing, for example, but if you don't really fully digest and embody those principles that are there, and there's a lot, then we lack the ability to apply it into movements in everyday life. What we're talking about ultimately is standing's just a start point.
But I realised I started to atrophy in lots of ways. I'd start to get into rock climbing again, I lost that powerfulness that I liked, the muscularity in those moments when I needed to pull myself to that other place. And I'm not the best rock climber in the world, nor do I need to be, but I noticed that I got so indoctrinated to standing meditation, stillness, relaxation is the way, that I started to just put myself in my own pit of dogma, which was then limiting for me.
It's almost like that's a core principle that's the most useful thing in a teacher, is being able to see the teacher having embodied something and also coining that terminology to be able to lay it out and to have the skill or the space to be able to go, "Okay, I've noticed my threshold. I can recognize this pattern where I'm going to start indoctrinating myself into this... Current formula that I've used, and now I'm going to let it go and I'm going to move on." And I'm also, in the instance where you have teachers, the most important thing is to be able to actually share, "All right, this is what I've learned. This is what I saw are my entrapments and now I'm going to move on." Because then it diffuses via osmosis, that skill, because that's why everyone gets bent up, crazy into CrossFit and veganism and carnivore and Taoism and all these kinds of things.
People, they basically metaphorically might've got tattooed on their head: Taoist, vegan, whatever it is, it's there and so you're going to look mighty stupid if you start backtracking now and realize, "Oh, hang on, I'm going to explore other things right now." It's a very important message there with the physical practice, not to dig yourself an identification hole and be able to recognise that. That's a good principle.
Yes, absolutely. For me, a really useful indication that a practice your progressing well is that the practice dissolves. I'm no longer doing standing meditation. For me, then it started to become, "I'm doing it right now. I'm doing all the things that I've embodied right now." I'm not building up back pain as I'm sitting here talking to you because I've built up some perceptions, some conditioning to a degree and all that sort of stuff. Now I can apply it. As I go rock climbing, I still love to do that. Now I climb, I don't necessarily climb to go to high grade necessarily or I don't fully relate with, "When I can do this, then I'll be someone." But now when I just put my hands on the wall, it's a much more joyful experience of just I can feel where my body is in space. Every little crevice of my body, I'm attuned to. The instance of injury and all that sort of thing would be much, much less because I've integrated a set of basic principles through that simple practice to a high enough degree that now I can apply it to more complex situations.
It's less of an... A thought, I haven't done upstanding meditation in a while. Maybe I should do a standing meditation and see if there's something in it with me. You've explored that space, you understand the underlying principles, which is not about the shiny thing, which is the practice of standing. It's about the space between the shiny things, space between the stars, which is the when you have both, an awareness of both. Therefore, you can go, "What I'm noticing is that it would be useful for me to touch back and explore that a little bit more." Every now and then I will then go, "Oh, that practice matches this intention or this principle." Yes, I think it's very mature and smart and I think it's progressive. I think it's hard to not get caught up into achieving things. When I can stand for 10 minutes in the morning and do that for 20 years, this particular sect of Mountain Taoist did, then I'll really be-
[inaudible 00:00:05], then I'll really be on track to do something.
It's very hard, I find, to let go of that.
It can be.
But it's a worthwhile pursuit.
It can be.
I mean, I'm speaking for myself.
Yeah. Maybe one thing if I add, because I just feel it might be really useful, is for me I thought that the longer I would meditate or the longer I would practice, in any given practice, the better it would be. But then I've realised that's a limited measure of progress and that's actually a sign of you're not building proficiency and-
Yeah. That's a very good point. Okay, so explain what you mean. Like you're not developing proficiency.
Yeah. So for me, like a mark of my improvement in skills like meditation, if we were to call it a skill, I just don't really see it as a thing anymore. Or like standing meditation, in this case, where you're standing and being present, at a basic level. As I went through those processes, I needed some time to start to... First, there's a period of settling where I got out of my head and into my body. That in itself was a skill. It used to take me maybe 10 minutes when I started-
To even just be able to focus on my body. Because I was in a flurry of thoughts and stresses and reactions to the day and all that sort of stuff. So I needed that to even start practicing. So you're practicing something different to start. As I got better at that, that would take one minute, so-
Well, I think what the other thing... A little bit of this is the same for you because you are someone that learns heavily in the practice as I am as well.
And you were talking about your standing practice occurring now. Those principles are occurring right now.
And so, of course, I'm a chronic personal. I'm self-aware in the sense that I'm constantly analysing myself and my own interactions and of things coming up in everyday life, of course. So there's like a meditative element there, if you can hone it.
And what I've noticed with my own personal practice in meditation and whether I can drop in deeper, yes, practicing is going to make me better. But it's just one thing I've just, through observing myself and then giving myself a little bit of time in the day to just process that is how, if I am a creatively expressed, which I can be in my role, however, it's my responsibility to create an environment where I can go full power, creatively expressed, and still be a functional adult-
And handle all my responsibilities that I've committed to. If I can do that, which I've started creeping back towards it, it's a new expression, I'm dropping in way quicker. And so I guess, though, like I kind of because I need to point it out to myself. Like, yes, look at your stillness practice and your stillness cultivation practice. But don't forget, it's like the hamstring. Don't just look at the way that you are being when you sit, allow yourself to look at the whole-
And perceive the whole-
And there are going to be factors and principles that are going to be impacting your ability to get, say, more skillful, dropping in, in a meditative place.
Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. So being able to access these... Like, for example, stretching. Flexibility is often seen as the tissue lengthening. And yes, there are tissue adaptations that I've noticed. There's like a hardware part of flexibility, but most of it is software. By software, I mean your perception of pain. Because when you go into this, the body gives a signal and it's like, Oh dude, if you keep going you might hurt yourself. And if we react to that signal, well then we do create tension in the body.
So this is like where being able to go into deeper ranges is often an ability to be able to relax more readily. So as we get that signal, we then can think consciously, whether it's by our breathing or whether it's by just the way we relate with the signal, then the body can start to open up and allow you to go into that range. And if you spend more and more time doing that, then flexibility naturally increases.
And I only noticed that because I pushed myself so hard for such a long time trying to go down that outcome. Stretching longer, stretching harder, doing all these different things.
Oh, yeah. And reacting to stretching in a particular way because you want to be able to be bendy like that person.
Yes. All of that sort of stuff. When I had to realize that, okay, this is about me, here I am in a challenge, a physical challenge. So what I've got to do, it's like a Rubik's Cube kind of work out this challenge for my unique body, for this specific situation.
So relevant. I mean the amount of tendons getting ripped in dojos and yoga studios because we go, I want to be able to do that asana or I want to be able to achieve that kind of kick. That when we haven't looked at can I physiologically, literally, can I achieve that or do that? Now there might be some, well we haven't even started to explore that, so we might be able to do it, but the way we're going to try and do it the way that person doing particular movements and stretches and asana, isn't going to work for our unique body.
And there is always that possibility, that maybe your skeleton just doesn't move that way.
And maybe what I like to look at, and maybe to even take that further-
Great. Because you always have really great intakes and takes on these.
Yeah. Thanks, man. Thank you. I find that really useful to have that big goal.
Just like, even for me, for a long time, it's like I want to do the splits. There was a part of me that thought, no, you can't do that. And I thought structurally, and I looked at some research on different hip architecture and all of that sort of thing, but there is a part of me that found it really useful to overlook that and just the power of setting the stakes high and then fucking loving every step of the way, even if you never get there-
That's really powerful. If just being on the path that you chose because you'll go higher than if you would've limited your perception and start off going, maybe I can't even do that in the first place.
Right. You had a goal for something physical within the environment of an overall love for yourself.
And so you've got friends and students who I've known. Like they're gorgeous people. Like he was like rocking, I'm talking about your Austrian friend.
Florian, he's rocking the splits-
And then needed to come back.
Because he didn't regress-
In his movement. Even though he officially got there and could claim the splits, he, like as many people do in yogic asana and in martial arts, you hit it. But what's the quality of you hitting that goal?
That is exactly right. And this is where... I've worked with ultra marathon runners before, like people who are good runners, they're doing good times. They don't need to improve their running, like kind of your average person. They've already got stuff. So they come to me, in this example where they're good at doing a thousand steps and I could run beside them and we could work on different breathing techniques and different gait techniques-
So, they come to you for optimisation.
Exactly. In this case, because I work at both ends of the coin. I noticed, like people who are really haven't been connected with their body for a long time and people who are ultra connected with their body. And I kind of do those fine tweaks like a Formula One race car, or something. So what we focused on in this case, and I generally approach things in this way, is let's look at the quality of one step, of one breath.
And this can even be challenging for that person of going, no, but this is how I've trained for such a long time.
And I'm like, if you're going to do that one step, how many million times across an ultra marathon and however many breaths you're going to take, what is your relationship with each breath that you take? What's your quality of the step, your quality of the breath? And that quality of one will dictate the quality of how you finish, wherever you end up. I'm generally not, I don't gravitate toward running as myself, personally, and I've done a half marathon.
Ah cos you don't like scar tissue on your heart.
I don't know why. It's just I can run. I can run away from something. I can run towards something. And also, I like just kind of slowing down, as well, and that's me, personally.
But I noticed when I did that a long time ago, I never thought that I had knee problems. But then toward the end, this knee problem started to develop. It was because I'd never challenged that minute habit that was there.
Oh, that's interesting.
Every step it added up, it added up, it added up, it added up, it added up, until it showed itself. And this is where I find continually having a vehicle where we can test what we're made of to challenge ourself. It can all these little things that you might not never noticed, sitting at the chair, walking on the flat ground, because we live a very easy existence.
We are also kind of talking about, what's the difference between healing and harming.
And exploring a pattern to the extent where it's healing. Because you're beginning to understand that. But if your egoic competitive kicks in, then you go, well, it's not worth me having gone for a run if I don't sprint for like at the end, or if I go for another couple of Ks and then you enter into that realm of harming.
So you haven't been able to actually work on the quality of that step to the extent where you're actually being beneficial to the system.
So that you can then go and do those sprints without actually causing that blockage [crosstalk 00:01:55:25].
Totally. We've become a lot more robust and resilient. And like all those things are symptomatic of the mind attempting to dominate the body.
Yeah. Fucking... You just explained the West.
Yeah. And the medical system.
Yeah. And I don't want to put them down and create energy of you're wrong, because I think that creates oppositional energy. But what I like to do is create an invitation and say we can do better. We can bring the East and the West, which are two, I suppose contrasting cultures, into our own philosophy and start to explore how that manifests.
Because I think we're in this time where we're becoming a global community.
We need to start to look at, okay, how do we choose to, like as human beings moving forward, beyond cultural background. We've got all the cultures, they're converging together. We're becoming more and more multicultural. Now, the West has to adapt or I think it will... it'll either dominate or become non-relevant, the same as the East. I think we've got stuff that we can all bring to each other.
Absolutely. And just in terms of, especially in the East, of those who are like really like those... Well, it's humans everywhere. It's not in the East. It's humans that have procured Shen and wisdom, which is just experience, and they're practical, and they're like this is useful for me to do this, and not useful to harm myself. Whatever.
It really comes forth in the teaching, when I was doing tiger stance.
In the beginning doing it, it was like, see, I'm like, Oh yeah, I'm feeling so Kung Fu right now, because it's a really nice movement. And you feel, Oh, I still feel beautiful. My body really feels beautiful in that crouching movement.
But even just recently in that last block of mentoring I was doing with you when I was exploring that, and exploring the fact that I can go deep, relative to myself, considering I don't really stretch. I don't really train. I don't really do anything. It's my life. I don't go to a dojo. I don't go to a gym. I think that's one of the outcomes. That I really became peaceful with that. It was one of my outcomes.
But I was just going that little bit too far and I was able to actually keep on moving from like cocking each knee. Each knee staying really nice and low, and going into that nice, stretched out tiger stance.
And you just pointed out that... Well, what's our intention with this? It's even... We're looking to widen the breadth of our foundations so that when we're standing in a normal space, that's just such a small scope of the possible. It's like in a horse stance. It's like being able to not just sit there and achieve three minutes in horse stance, but to be able to widen what's actually possible for ourselves to stay in a stance but still stay very structurally sound.
And so, I did back off a little bit and felt this mental tension. It was really profound for me. I felt this mental tension. This program I'd created for myself. This pattern of achieving and looking good for no one in particular, but for this idea of myself just peeled off. And of course, it's still there, but I can notice it now and I can create that space between reusing it and reacting to it and then acting upon that stimulus.
It took me backing off a little bit. Whenever you bring up you're doing the splits, and going whenever I'm doing the splits... I had to back off and go nice and slow, because what's the point of being able to do the splits? For you, and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but for you, being able to... When you are standing there, you know that you, even if you're doing the splits and you've got your feet down as well and you're holding yourself into position, that's possible for you. So when you're standing there just in everyday life and walking around, you know you've got all this additional space so you can ease into further comfort within that place of just standing.
I found it really profound, because I'm just like, that's right, again, it's not about the splits.
And watch that creep up in me again because I dare the dream. And I'm scared of my dreaming because I don't like where it's taken me before, to be honest Benny. That's why I tapped out of yoga. It's not yoga's fault. It was just my projected, my own... And I just got to these places where I'd like achieve these asana's and these things in my body, and I'm just like... I still don't feel amazing or like I feel okay, but it's like I still personally feel superficial. I mean the thing there is to like project that upon the practice or the teacher, when it's just like three fingers pointing straight back at you.
That's a step up. Yeah. That's taken all the stress off me and it's always... I often think about that. That's why I brought up Florian's splits thing because you were like, look you can get there. How long can you stand there? How you integrate it. And at that point... Well, what's really different between strength and flexibility?
Yes. That's a good question.
Well then, can you talk to that?
And I know we've been going on a while, so we should probably wrap it up. Shit, it's one o'clock. Because that was a very nice... It's nice to segment things, of course.
I like that you've got a flexibility course that's tied up, segmented. It's like what you were saying about pain. It's like maybe, adaptogens. We need to dangle something. So we communicate effectively.
Yeah. That's true.
However, can you talk about this nature of how strength and flexibility really are the same thing?
Yeah. It's all like... And this is a really common thing... And I do it to help communicate of... Let's say we have a focus on strengthening the body.
Then that will start to help someone go, Oh, well, I can identify that I need that. And then we completely change the conversation of strengthening the body is about moving the body under better control.
So if you look at flexibility... and I don't personally like to do this, but I use it as a tool. It's kind of the making movement like macro nutrients, of like strength is like your fats, and flexibility is-
Strength has got to be protein.
That's true, that's true... It's this compartmentalising of, well, there's this highly complex thing that why would you break it apart? So if you put it all under the banner of movement, then it becomes, what is the intent of that movement? Right?
Because flexibility in a hyperbaric chamber, I think it's like in isolation, is inherently limiting. Because then we like push ourselves. We go passive in the movement and all that sort of stuff. It hasn't got life force in it. And strength in its own... And I've dived into both worlds. Without this kind of balance of flexibility, becomes rigidity. So you then become a product of either contraction or too much relaxation, and that sort of thing. So, if we put it under the banner of movement, and then movement that's applied to... Let's say you like to get into a certain range of motion, then like the splits is a great example.
Like with Florian, he could do the splits, but he was more passive. So we started to work on, all right, well if you'd like to apply that quality of balance between strength and flexibility, then that applies to when you're standing up, when you're stable.
Right. That's relevant. It's actually relevant to us.
Yeah. So I just look at all these qualities... And so if you're contracting, can you also have options to relax? That's strong. Because when you can relax, when you're exerting yourself, then you can use more of your body, rather than isolated muscle groups.
Like if you're using more of your body in a deeper range of motion, and you can contract and relax, then the body starts to the nervous system. Yeah. It's basically kind of perceives the signal of safety, in a way. It's like you're not going to break yourself because you've got options.
If you push it all the way down the path of like, I'm at 99% of my capacity because I haven't got this balancing factor. So if we put it under movement then you can look at these qualities of strength and flexibility and go, when as I'm doing this particular intent, then do I have movement? And that could be movement of my own perception. Like it's...
That's huge, man. Because I think quite often that's what I forget.
Movement and my perception of what's my own dynamic in that time.
Yes. Totally. Yeah. Like movement of my muscles. Do I have these simple options? Movement of my breath. Yeah. If we put it all under these things, the pathway toward them might be a little more specific, but it's still ultimately the same sort of thing. Like to improve flexibility, generally you need to spend more time at end ranges of motion, starting to cultivate movement. To improve strength, generally we need to focus on getting more things working together.
Well that's like my two week practice. It's like essentially strength for five minutes in the upper body, five minutes in the lower body. And it's just like very slow dynamic. Like a push up either on a wall or a chair, maybe on the ground, exploring the absolute nuance, very slowly, of that movement and how my body cooperates rather than just achieving 20 push ups a day, which I've done. And again, I just feel shallow at the end of it. Not that everyone would. Like some people, it's their spiritual practice. It's just not mine. And likewise, with the lower body. It's just like a kind of dynamic, one leg behind the other. It's kind of squatting down and tying into a knot very, very slowly in an explorative manner.
It's not rocket science.
No. It's not.
Because I'm sometimes a gadgets person, and I'm like, what interesting Shaolin practices are we going to do this week?
Yes. And so I go, fine, just keep on. I'm like at the point where it's like, okay, Mason come on, you've got to surrender to this a bit. Just surrender to this simplicity and we're not even doing a practice here. We're just slowly going up and down-
Yeah. And having experienced those Shaolin practices in my own way, they're seriously mundane practices-
Well, yeah, it's just the branding, there's not much there.
Look at the Shaolin and look at all the things that I can do, but how do they get there? Because they've got bread and butter basics that they do consistently. And, I would say, at the higher levels, either they did it since they're a child, there's some Shaolin forms that are only available to children because the body's more malleable then. So you can't learn it as an adult. Well you can. But you're not going to demonstrate those abilities if you didn't start when you were four.
And what's the relevance for yourself now to actually demonstrate it.
Yeah. Maybe you can give it a go, and you'll feel probably a lot better. But why try to create something that was born, as a four year old? And so, here all these fancy things are a byproduct of these simple things. Like being able to focus, focus on a posture, and you see them in extended periods of horse stance and doing the same forms over and over and over again. Their focus, often single point of focus, is a key principle of these arts of just focusing on one thing. Whether that's breathing into a certain area of the body, or just on the form itself, until it changes you.
Well it changes you is an interesting one because we look at what their expression of their most virtuous nature and it might be a physicality because they've got that bend or that-
But it might be in the way that you relate to your family or to-
Or to your staff or your colleagues.
That might be your modern day, or your life little, very minor, superpower that emerges and that's something I constantly need to remind myself of.
So for people, simple steps for them to get going right now.
Yeah. Well, I would just say pay attention to what's happening in your body right now. Listen to that. It could be as simple as just stand up, take a breath and just stand there and be willing and open to see beyond what you think your body is, beyond who you think you are. To really start to just connect with what is happening and do your best to see that beyond this kind of reactive reason of why you're having this experience.
I'd just challenge you to invite another possibility that you have more latent potential within you and even if you never touch it, that's okay as well. It's just this... You're going to travel a few breaths in life, you're going to travel a few steps. Just consider what would it be like to improve the quality of that, and then what are the ripples of that into your world? As you start to feel like this is the best breath ever, and this is the best breath ever. And once you start filling up like that, you start to overflow. And like I said, to bring things full circle, like where we started, like the cultivation of loving the body, this is where it starts.
I love your simple take. There's so many different breath practices and the simplicity of our initial practice that I was just doing, it was like a nice... However long the count was, it was fluctuating day to day, but like a nice big in-breath, four seconds, six seconds and like really feeling me bringing in everything that I made in that nourishing essence. And that was like, yeah. And the turning into the reality of that and then slight retention, and that retention, letting it seep into my cells and seep into my organs. And then on the out-breath, sharing out there with... And I've shared that with a couple of people just in passing. And I just think, a lot of people obviously talk, that's not revolutionary, but for a lot of people they were like, I didn't realise how stuck I was in that. And then release what you don't need.
And so then the focus is on what you don't need.
And in that sharing of, I'm filling up and what's pouring over or what I don't need anymore, I'm sharing back out there with others, with the world, with whatever, with the trees. That is a very uplifting experience and it's something I really want to... I love the idea of just having that as a mural depicted, not necessarily as a reminder. It's just like, that's a bread and butter that I can get behind.
That's heirloom, three-day raised sourdough, with spring water. And really biodynamic, best grass ever butter. That's bread and butter that I can get behind.
And if it works, and it flows into that little, beautiful space of a personal practice as you commented, it's like, right, let's explore how we create a personal practice space that's like a magnet for you.
That really pulls you in rather than something that you feel like you have to do in order to be super healthy. You need a practice. It doesn't... Who gives a shit? And it's going to look different for everybody. But nonetheless, there is some reality if it's you, in your space.
Totally. You're master and commander of each moment. And I reckon that's one of the most liberating things that I have started to experience is the power of my own choice. And also one of the most confronting things as well, just to realise how powerful we are. And I reckon if we can all... Even if just an extra percent of human beings, realise how powerful they are, then we won't have all these power struggles in life-
Of trying to elicit it in relationships. Trying to elicit it... it's just like, Oh, I'm full within myself. I've taken in what I need. So then when things don't go to plan, I've got surplus to work through this, and my quality of life improves. It's just as simple as that.
Yeah. It's simple. Man, I love it. I think by the time this comes out you would have released the new format for your courses. When's that coming out?
Yeah. We're anticipating around January 2020 so-
Okay. Cool. I think that we'll hold off, anyway. So movementmonk.xyz still?
Yeah. .xyz, xyZed, whichever [crosstalk 02:12:41].
Oh, yeah. Zed. inaudible 02:12:44].
It's the Sesame Street in me. Far out.
No, well it's-
Elmo just got in me as a kid. [inaudible 00:27:56].
Oscar the Grouch got into me.
Bloody Muppets. So yeah, I really think it's a great tension release. I've got to remind everyone, but I've bought that for the crew here at SuperFeast. It's a good thing to offer in a workspace, or do it as a family. I like the idea of watching the videos together or doing it with a couple of people. I like that practice. But the other thing, the flexibility, the embodied flexibility, is that the still the name?
That was the first thing I ever did with you as an online course.
Yeah. We're simplifying all of our offerings in 2020.
Yeah. I'm focusing on really three areas. So, for people that are getting started, we've created a physical freedom challenge which basically, if you've listened to some of the concepts that we've been talking about and you want to experience that physically, I introduce them to the whole curriculum, basically. It's a very short period of time to get to know your body better and to see the potential for the mind and the body to be working together better.
It's super relevant. And I think quite often people might've heard in the Jost podcast, talking about the fact that if you do go into the space of... When you go into real personal cultivation, which you can get here, it's what to an extent, we're cultivating more of ourselves.
That's when the ketonic herbs become very, very relevant.
They're relevant, anyway. When, as I said, there's always like mum and grandma, just putting them in the soup to make sure that everyone stays healthy. Like everywhere I go in China, they're the people who are growing these herbs. They might not be Taoists, but they're drinking schizandra / schisandra wine. It's ginseng tea, the whole family, it's there in the flow.
But when you really get into the cultivation of yourself and get on the front foot a little bit more, these herbs, they're ingredients. And in these movement and these stillness practices, as you release tension, they really get to work.
They really do.
And you've been sharing herbs with me for some time and basically got me into all these things that I wasn't aware of. It's such been an interesting thing of like, you gave me the QI blend and just-
Coming out February 1st.
Yeah. [inaudible 02:15:27].
That's okay. No, no, no, that's good. I'm sharing the process with everyone so that when we launch... Sometimes it's difficult to launch because traditionally the way you do it as a company is you make a big hoo-ha...
It's my phone. You know, bling.
I think it's mine.
Oh, it's yours.
All right. Well, that's okay.
It just makes sense. You make a big hoo-ha about these things and then what I find is people in the community, as this range gets really big, all of a sudden it's got that like, all right, now I'm buying this one. Why am I buying that one? You know?
And when I release it, I want everyone to be very, very clear where it fits into the system and know quite intimately whether this is an appropriate one or if I do buy it, where it's going to fit into their own personal apothecary. So yeah, we've been talking about it quite a bit.
Yeah, the tea blend's been going all right for you?
Yeah. And all the different herbs, all the different mushrooms, they have different personalities. I notice I can do a different dance with them. And it's as my perception of my body's grown, then my relationship with the herbs has grown, as well, as it's growing with everything.
If nothing else, it's fun. It's a really insightful journey. Whereas me going, Oh, this herb's going to fix me. It's like this herb's a tool to show me something. To give me some indications of how my body processes this thing. It brings forward certain stimulus for me to look at.
But that's perfectly summed up, the core intention and philosophy. And that's what the core intention of doing the podcast and having an insane amount of... An admin team that is highly trained talking to people because people, the gateway is going to be like, I need to fix this problem with myself.
Where we'd eventually like to land is there. You need to learn, first of all, like the herbs can do this to an extent as well too. Like the way the movement does is like, holy shit, I'm in control here. I can take things and act in particular ways that more or less heal me.
But with the QI blend, I liked the feedback. You were talking about a kind of a...
Yeah. For me, I was equating it to the experience of like if you shake up a bottle of like you've got maybe the red bull type energy of like it's fizzy, it's explosive, it's kind of short-lived. Where this, it felt like when you get really good carbonated water or something like that. Like this really kind of smooth bubbling, with this kind of stirring kind of experience, and like-
Well, if we're talking about Qi being organised energy, to an extent organised electricity, but that's not fully capturing it. Being the potential and the source of movement and movement itself and Qi leading Blood and having so much to do with the procuring of Fluid in the body and lubrication of particular organs. What happens with water. You can even see this water.
So everyone like we've put hydrogen in it before, but you know when you get like a spring water and you leave on the side of your bed and in the morning it's got those bubbles. Like even a flat water that isn't carbonated has gaseous elements within it that are releasing and then that goes flat. Same way a beer is going to go flat or a Pellegrino is going to go flat.