Transcript of How Meditation Can Change Your Life (and the World)
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John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Tom Cronin. He is the Co-Creator of The Portal movie and book and is leading a global movement to inspire 1 billion people to meditate daily. He’s on the road right now touring with the film on his way to Taos, New Mexico as we record this. So Tom, thanks for joining me.
Tom Cronin: It’s good to be here. Sorry about if there’s any background noise, but we’re moving from city to city taking the film on the road.
John Jantsch: So, your background was not meditation. You had another career that you spent a great deal of time in and I wonder if you could lead us up to what brought you on this path in your past.
Tom Cronin: Yeah. I spent all [inaudible] as a 26 year career in finance on a trading room floor. So we were trading swaps and bonds on international finance markets. So if anyone has seen the film Wolf of Wall Street, just imagine that trading room floor that they depicted very, very well in the late 80s. I started my career in the same year as Jordan Belfort, actually in 1987 and it was a fun, furious, fast, hectic time and it wasn’t what I was prepared for or expecting, but it was one of the things that I just sort of slipped into.
Tom Cronin: And so, I spent and ended up 26 years in that career. But the first few years of that I very much fell into the lifestyle that was late 80s, early 90s and that was a lot of drugs, drinking, partying, and working really, really hard. So, that combined and escalated into showing up a lot of stress symptoms in my body. And that’s what led me to eventually meditation because it got so extreme that I had to find another alternative to what I was doing at that particular point in time.
Tom Cronin: And that was about 10 years into my career that I learned to meditate. And that was, the shift that started to happen.
John Jantsch: So you didn’t necessarily just chuck what you were doing, you just changed your lifestyle.
Tom Cronin: Yeah, and that’s an important thing for anyone that’s listening in business or entrepreneur is that, it wasn’t the job that was the problem. It was the way I was relating to the job, the way I was behaving in the job, the way I was thinking about the job. And that was the variable. So, 10 years I had a very extreme stress response to the job and that’s where symptoms show up. And if you think of symptoms, I like the analogy to a red light on the dashboard and that red light is really just a signal that there’s a problem from under the dashboard … Sorry, under the bonnet that you need to look at. And that’s what was happening to me. I was getting all these symptoms, but I was ignoring them.
Tom Cronin: And once I started to change my lifestyle habits and started to learn to meditate and bring meditation as a part of my day, then things really picked up in a big way and my life started to become calmer, smoother, more fluid, and I just got better in my job. And so, I sustained another 16 years in that job without having as many of those stress responses.
John Jantsch: So, let’s talk a little bit about the Portal Movie and book. But I guess maybe the first step is what is the Portal? Why is that the name?
Tom Cronin: Yeah, the Portal is, it represents a couple of things. Firstly, it represents that personal experience that I have when I’m going into stillness into meditation. And it’s that experience of moving away from thinking and feeling and moving away from the forms of the world and moving away from the future, and in the past and then going into this stillness and silence. And then, the Portal also represents on a macro level, what does it look like for humanity in our way forward as we sort of step into this new space, that’s a possibility for us to go forward? And I’m what’s on the other side of that?
John Jantsch: So one of the things that you propose is that meditation is one of the keys to maybe changing the trajectory of the world. I don’t think we probably have to go into what wrong trajectory I might be on. So, how do you profess that that is the solution.?
Tom Cronin: Well, in the film, Mikey Siegel discusses how most of the world’s problems are created by humans. And if that’s a state of mind, it’s creating the problem, then it’s the state of mind that can solve the problem. But the thing is, we can’t solve the problems of the world with the same state of mind that’s creating the problems. And what I saw changed significantly in my life as I was just continually doing the same thing over and over again, nothing really significantly changed until I started to get out of that program that I was in, that indoctrination, but also my own program and my own belief systems and get into this clearer state of just awareness without the condition thinking.
Tom Cronin: And then what happened was I started to be able to watch my actions or watch my thoughts and then have a very different set of ideals about the life I wanted to live and the life I could live. And I see this and we see this happen in the film as well. All these stories, six stories that had really diverse backgrounds, but very challenging experiences in their life and this ability through the use of meditation to be able to shift the trajectory of their path of life and start to create something that was new and more profound and more, I guess progressive and more harmonious.
Tom Cronin: And if we multiply that into 100,000, a million, 1,000,000,007 billion, then we start to see a significant change on the planet. And I think where I come from with the inspiration for the film and the project is to start to have our shifting states of mind, our level of awareness, our sense of interconnectedness, not just with other humans but also with nature itself. And then what happens is a very significant shift will start to prevail I think on the planet.
John Jantsch: How much, again, those are all very practical as far as I’m concerned, but sometimes people need something more tangible. How much connection between mind and body? In other words, how much of a role do you feel meditation can play in some of the physical ailments that many people are fighting with nothing but drugs today?
Tom Cronin: Yeah, it’s ground zero. It’s the basis for change I think on a physiological and biochemical level and that’s a result of the body. For me particularly, this was the state it was in and for most people on the planet currently I reckon, which is this state of fight, flight or sympathetic nervous system state. And it’s a system within the nervous system or a system within the body that is a defense mechanism to protect us from dangerous situations. And we think it’s normal to be on our phones and to be using technology as much as we do driving through lots of traffic and lots of meetings and lots of busy sort of lifestyle. But if you look at our history over thousands and hundreds of thousands of years what we were doing in the last 10 years or 20 years is just exponentially overwhelming for our nervous system.
Tom Cronin: And so, what’s happening is we’re in this constant state of fight flight and when we’re in fight flight, what happens? Our brain starts contracting in the frontal region of the brain, which is the CEO type region of the brain. Our biochemistry starts changing where we’re shifting a lot of cortisol, adrenaline are pumped into our blood and we’re reducing the production of melatonin, oxytocin and serotonin, which are biochemicals that help us sleep, feel happy and feel love because we’re in this fight or flight and about to go to battle or run from a side to a tiger. And so, there’s no levels of compassion and empathy and love and no ability to sleep well. And so, all these symptoms are arising from a society that’s overwhelmingly stressed or in a stress response.
Tom Cronin: We start storing fat cells because we might be on the run for days. We’re getting a lot of obesity. We start coagulating our blood because we don’t want it gushing out. If we get stabbed, which is leading to heart disease. We start converting high blood sugar levels because we might have to run from the saber tooth tiger, which is why we’re getting a lot of diabetes. Now, all this is just an anomaly. It’s simply a result of many people’s bodies being in sympathetic nervous system state.
Tom Cronin: Now the beautiful thing is what meditation does is it shifts the body out of that state very quickly and into parasympathetic nervous system state. And think of parasympathetic P for peace, which is the rest state that the body goes into when it feels safe and secure. And there’s a calmness that prevails and all of those anomalies of the sympathetic nervous system state to suddenly reverse themselves and we start producing melatonin and oxytocin, serotonin, the brain that’s function getting better. We get better creativity, we have better relationships, we get better productivity, we have better energy levels. Our body starts to restore balance and optimize itself. And that’s what meditation can do very, very quickly.
John Jantsch: So one of the challenges I think with, I hate to say it, but a solution that’s not pharmacy based is that there aren’t any great trials and studies and science and money put behind some of those. But at what point will the science be there to where traditional Western medicine will start prescribing?
Tom Cronin: I think what we should do at this, and at that point of that level of conversation is we should look at the science of the current research that’s done on the pharmaceuticals. And what we find is that generally most pharmaceuticals run on a success rate around eight to 12%, which is fairly successful for a pharmaceutical. And it gives it the green light to say, “Yes, this will work, let’s put it into the system.” And it doesn’t really have a lot of deep [inaudible] into what are the longterm ramifications of that because the people that are doing the science experiments are the people that are funding the development of the drugs. So it’s not in their interest to spend a lot of money doing research on what are the longterm ramifications and negative ramifications of using those drugs.
Tom Cronin: Now, if we look at placebo effect, placebo affects generally works on a level of 60 to 70% consistently, that is where you take a pharmaceutical drug that has a proactive and active ingredient in it, and you take a sugar pill that has no active ingredient in it and you tell the person that they’re taking something that’s going to make them feel better. 60 to 70% generally across the board of all placebo studies has been proven that that’s worked effectively, which is far superior to any pharmaceutical studies done. So, this is other areas that we have to start exploring. Now, it’s not to dismiss anyone that’s using pharmaceuticals, it’s not what we’re here to do is suddenly say, “Just stop taking them.” That’s not the way at all.
Tom Cronin: There’s definitely role and relevance for these and in life itself, but what we want to do is do our own individual personal research. That’s what I always say to people, is that if you do your own personal research, there’s no harm in trying. There’s a reason why it’s been around for five to 10,000 years and stood the test of time. There must be something in it, and in the tens of thousands of books that have been talked about it, and in the film, what we didn’t do was give you a lot of information about why you should do it. What we did was we showcased six personal stories that validated for them their personal experience of why it was effective. And that’s what I usually use in my own sort of, I guess not promotion of meditation, but wanting to inspire people to meditate. It’s just simply use my own personal story because it was clear as day that that was effective way of me changing the way I was living my life.
Tom Cronin: And so, we use personal stories a lot because it’s something you can’t invalidate. It’s true for that person and therefore it’s true black and white. And it doesn’t mean it’s going to be true everyone, but it’s definitely true for them.
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John Jantsch: So talk a little bit about the making of the movie. I’m assuming you don’t have a Hollywood background and had to figure this out. Is that an accurate assumption?
Tom Cronin: Yeah. I’d never been involved in film at all, so it was just an idea that we had that we’d use film as a device to showcase the power of meditation. But for anyone in business listening and the entrepreneurs listening that you had a lot of time, you’re reaching new ground and you’re having to go into areas that you may not be familiar with. And what we did with film or what I still do to this day is just draw on people that have walked that path before me. I have consultants and advisors and people that come on the project that can not just hold your hand but really be part of the vision and the project and I guess the facilitation of you getting to your end goal and it’s not like you need to know everything, but there are people out there that can support you with that.
John Jantsch: So you want to share a couple of the stories about who we’ll meet in the Portal?
Tom Cronin: Yeah, we’ve got some amazing stories. We’ve got six individual stories, very diverse backgrounds and Booda is a veteran who was in the army in Afghanistan and Iraq and he had some challenging experiences in his childhood and also has some very extreme PTSD symptoms after going through some challenging times serving for the US. We have Amandine who was from France and she was the United Nations Human Rights lawyer and she as well also had some extreme PTSD after serving in some extreme situations around the world.
Tom Cronin: And Heather, she was a US track athlete and she just won the US Nationals and the 800 meters and not long after that had broken her back on a training sort of run where they were jumping off some clips into water. So, and [inaudible 00:14:43], he’s a Vietnamese refugee who had a very challenging upbringing in Philadelphia in a very poor and then got to Harvard and she faced some challenges getting to Harvard thinking that was the ticket to freedom, but just faced new confronting challenges of being in a very challenging environment that was not something she was familiar with.
Tom Cronin: So, they’re just some of the glimpses into the stories, that are all quite moving and intimately filmed. And me and Jacqui, we’re directors, she is a phenomenal director that really who co-created the project with me, just really brought this intimate experiential process for them, which is really profound. The way of making the film was very different and a unique way of making the film. As someone said last night when we’re at one of the screenings in Santa Fe. “Wow. That was just not a linear film, I was used to linear films.” And that kind of wasn’t linear at all, but it just all fell into place and worked. And I think that’s the power of what this is.
John Jantsch: So, before we started recording said you were going from Santa Fe to Taos, I think right now, and you are on the road screening the film. So, tell me a little bit about that adventure and maybe how if somebody is listening and they want to bring the film to their town, is there a process for that?
Tom Cronin: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re filming in quite a few cities around the US. We were in Santa Fe last night, Taos tonight. Then we go to New York, which starts on the 15th through for a week I think. But we’ll be in New York from the 15th through to the 17th doing Q&A’s and that’s it. Village East, or East village, I think it’s called. And then, if they can’t see, so all the cities that are screening at our on the website, but if people can’t see it in their city, we’ve got this wonderful facility where people can actually host their own screening and they can just apply for that through a website. It costs them nothing. And we provide the cinema, the film, marketing materials, Facebook, event ticketing. All that sort of stuff and just make it a really simple process for them to be able to actually, yeah, experience the film in the cinema and that’s where we want to keep it for a while.
Tom Cronin: The option is obviously go straight to digital [inaudible] run, but we’re really, really interested in trying to keep it in that communal experience as long as possible. It’s going to the universities, the high schools, prisons, until eventually it might even be 12 months, who knows? We’re just going to keep playing it by year and keep having that experience for the community in that shared space.
John Jantsch: So I’m sure that you in your travels and your Q&A’s, I’m sure this question has come up, either somebody has said, “I tried meditation and it just didn’t work for me or I couldn’t stick with it.” Or I’m sure you also have people that just say, “How do I start?” So, if somebody was either tried it, couldn’t make it work, is thinking about it, what’s your best advice for, how do I start?
Tom Cronin: Yeah, I mean, it’s a great question and I think it’s time for a lot of people to start exploring that because the world seems to be getting more and more stressed. I think they can go into their local area and just Google Meditation Center in their local city and find a community where there’s a teacher that’s going to be able to teach them. And there I put into four categories, there’s the concentration meditations, which are more like the Buddhist style focusing on the breath or the third eye where you’ve got to really focus on one thing.
Tom Cronin: We’ve got the contemplation meditations, which are like guided meditations where you might listen to that in an app or YouTube or something like that. And that’s where you’re using the mind to proactively create a scenario in your mind to facilitate an outcome of calmness or an intention you want to manifest.
Tom Cronin: You’ve got chanting meditations where you might do it in groups in your local community, it’s called kirtan or at the end of yoga. And then you’ve got these transcending star meditations, which is where you have vedic meditation or transcendental meditation and they can look up some of those centers. Primordial sound technique is another one of those techniques where they have a sound that you repeat inside your head.
Tom Cronin: So, the first step would be trying to find somewhere in your local community. The second step would be you can go to my website, tomcronin.com, has got some meditation programs they can learn. We disrupted that transcendental meditation and … Not disrupted but I guess offered an alternative for people that couldn’t access it where they can learn to use those deeper style meditations through a 21-day meditation program and they can get that at Tom Cronin or Stillness Project and it’ll be on the Portal website soon as well. So, that’s another option where they can learn it with me. But in a digital sense where I’ve got a nice video I send to them every day and they can listen and share that meditation journey with me.
Tom Cronin: And then otherwise, just go to YouTube. The next option would be go to YouTube and where they can learn it. There’s a lot of free meditations on YouTube.
John Jantsch: So, we’ll have tomcronin.com, The Portal.
Tom Cronin: Enter the Portal.
John Jantsch: Entertheportal.com, we’ll have all those in the show notes as well. So Tom, thanks for dropping by, safe travels.
Tom Cronin: Thank you
John Jantsch: And I look forward to … I think right now you’re, you’ve been on the coast, but maybe you’ll have to bring this to the Midwest before too long.
Tom Cronin: We’d love to make it across that way. So thanks for having me on. It’s been great to be here.