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Welcome to episode #75 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Kevin Ellerton, a meditation guru and publisher of Meditation Magazine. His hobbies include meditation and going on walks with his daughter.

Top Talking Points

  • Normalizing meditation practices from a young age.
  • TRYING to meditate defeats the whole purpose. In order to meditate you can’t be trying to do anything.
  • The only meaning of life is to enjoy being alive.

Resources & Links

Connect With Kevin at meditationmag.com

Subscribe to The Morning Upgrade Podcast

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Morning Upgrade Podcast. If you enjoyed my conversation with Kevin, be sure to subscribe to the podcast…and please leave a review.

Episode Transcript

Ryan 

Hey guys, it’s Ryan real quick. So my mission with the Morning Upgrade blog and podcast is to raise awareness of morning routines and personal development. And I now have two products that are also helped me with this mission. The first product helps you start a 20 minute morning routine. And the second product is a book that outlines how to use personal development, upgrade your life and business. You can get full details on both products over at morningupgrade.com. Thanks for letting me share. And now on to the show.

Announcer 

Welcome to the Morning upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan  

Hey, Kevin, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast. How are you?

Kevin  

I’m well thank you. I just did breathwork a few minutes ago and I feel pretty relaxed and energized.

Ryan  

I’m sure yeah, you’re the perfect guest for this podcast. You know you got the meditation magazine and all the personal development work you do. So I’m excited to dive into some of these questions.

Kevin  

Awesome. You too. I’m excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Ryan  

Let’s talk about who you know, who you are, what you do for a living, and then maybe one or two of your hobbies.

Kevin  

Okay, so who I am is basically the fundamental nature of the universe, you know, sort of the fabric of reality, I guess we are all that, right? That’s we’re just like all kind of one universe or multiverse or if you want to call it that. But this body that, like people call Kevin is, I guess, just kind of regular dude, but I guess he likes to do entrepreneurship. I like to build companies, I built a company when I was 22. That was like a real estate brokerage firm. And that got pretty big then I realized that I knew how to build companies and then started traveling around the world. And actually, I didn’t feel fulfilled doing the real estate brokerage thing. So I left and I started traveling around, I went to a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. And in that monastery, I was in this really long, silent meditation. And it had been about a week or so of silence. When I had this very powerful moment where I guess I had been struggling, I’ve been struggling with a sort of like my demons, you know what I mean? Like my anxieties, my fears, my stresses, about life, and my future and all that. And, you know, I kept thinking that meditation was supposed to be like, this peaceful and blissful thing. And I felt like I wasn’t doing it, right. And then at some point, maybe like, seven days into this meditation, I just gave up and completely gave up. I just, it wasn’t like an intentional thing. It wasn’t like, oh, I’m going to give up right now. Like, it was just an accident. Like, I was just like, okay, you know, this is too much, I can’t, it’s not going to happen, it’s never gonna happen. I’m never gonna be like, completely peaceful inside. And then just ironically, I mean, that’s kind of how it works. Like, in that moment of just stopped when I stopped trying. And I just gave up and I was just like, you know, what, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna sit like, like, I wasn’t even, it wasn’t a technique just gave up. And I started feeling like, happy, like, all of a sudden, I was just relieved. And I just felt that peace. And I felt completely here and now. And the next few days, and the next few weeks, I was really just walking around on clouds, like, I literally felt like I wasn’t touching the ground. And during that time, that I was in that monastery, I had this realization that you know, I’ve been looking for this, something that I could do with my life, to really make a good impact in the world. And I had all these things in my head like I was going to make like an alternative energy company, and I was going to do technology and whatever. And I realized that you know, all those things are great. And they help sort of humanity in the short term. But what people really need is to be happy, and to be at peace, and to not be hating each other and fighting with each other, and creating war and strife and conflict on small scales and large scales. And I thought, if I can help bring this mode of consciousness that I’m experiencing right now, into the rest of the world, then I will have had a life well, well-lived. And that I realized that that would be my mission for the rest of my life. So that’s sort of what happened and why I started writing about meditation and why I made a meditation magazine and started making meditation courses and teaching meditation. That’s sort of been my journey until this point, I forgot the rest of your question, but I think that’s pretty much where you can tell me the rest of your questions again?

Ryan  

Just hobbies. I think you kind of touched upon that too.

Kevin 

I think it sounds like well, I guess my main hobby, I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but like meditation has been really important for me. It’s like helps me stay sane and happy while growing your business. I guess. I’d like to take my baby daughter, she’s six months old, and I take her on a walk every morning. It’s really nice, I guess you’d call it a hobby. We go, I think I’ve been averaging around three miles every morning, and it’s keeping me healthy. And yeah, I like to watch Netflix sometimes. I know that’s not like a normal meditation II thing. But there’s this new show called the foundation. Apple TV. I’ve been really into it. It’s like a sci-fi show from Isaac Asimov. And looking forward to the new Witcher. So yeah, I guess that’s, that’s a little little bit of my hobbies. I’m sure I have other ones. But those are the ones that come to mind.

Ryan

At what age when you introduce meditation to your daughter?

Kevin 

Well I mean, she sees me meditate every day, I’d when I take her on the walks I take, there’s like the pond, duck pond, and she like looks at the ducks. And I’m like meditating. And she sees me doing it. And she gets scared sometimes when I do the breathwork, because it’s like, very intense. And it’s like I’m hyperventilating. But I think it’s good. I think it’s good that she gets, like a sense that like, this is something that people do, even before she even knows what that means. Yeah, I think it’s just going to be organic like that. I don’t think it’s going to be like, Okay, you’re 11 years old. Now, we can start meditating. This is such an organic process.

Ryan  

Like, yeah, like our mentor. But I think you’re right, it’d be like, it’ll just be her norm. Like, she won’t know any, any other thing. It’s like, oh, he’s meditating doing breathwork. It’s what people do. Do you know?

Kevin 

Yeah, kinda like just like, kind of like walking or like eating or things like that, that are just natural things that people do.

Ryan  

Do you have a morning routine?

Kevin  

Yeah, I do, actually. So when I wake up, I mean, I’ll tell you, my daughter has really helped me in doing a morning routine, because I’m the type of person that has a hard time dragging myself out of bed in the morning. For whatever reason, this is how my brain works. It’s always been like that. And, you know, in the monasteries, I had to get up at four o’clock in the morning was like the worst part of the monastery’s experiences. But it was great, but it was also very hard. But with the baby, it’s like, if she starts crying, and I have to take over from Giovanna at 7 am. So basically, if she starts crying, and it’s six o’clock in the morning or 6;30 in the morning, I’ll usually be the one to get up and take her outside. So I just take her out in the stroller, like I tried to get out of the house as quickly as possible. Because if we’re in the house, we kind of fall into like an inertia kind of thing. So I tried to just get her in the stroller, get her milk, and all that. And just take her out for a walk around the pond, try to get like at least a few miles of walking. And meditation is really important for, in the morning routine, I tried to avoid looking at my phone, though I’m not always successful, because there’s sometimes crazy stuff happening with the business-like people customers, asking questions in the middle of the night that I have to respond to and things like that. But basically, I try to avoid looking at the phone, I tried to be in the present moment, I tried to look at the ducts and like feel the air around me. The air flowed in and out of my body. I tried to like enjoy the experience of being alive at least in the morning for some time. And I guess between those two things, the walking in the meditation, that’s probably the main part of my morning routine. I’m sure there are other things like brushing teeth and stuff like that, but everybody does. So yeah, I guess that’s my main morning routine.

Ryan 

But how long do you meditate every day? Is that longer than an hour?

Kevin  

That’s a good question. So it depends on the day depends on the month, it depends on the year like it kind of goes in ebbs and flows. Right now, I’m in a pretty good flow. Because sometimes it’s just like what’s happening around and you know, some people have discipline where they don’t matter what’s going on in their lives, they have the exact same time for meditation, I haven’t really had the discipline to do that. Except when I’m in monasteries and things like that. But in the morning, I do that walk with the baby, it’s usually like a couple of hours. And I try to be like meditation most of the time. Then in the evening, when I put her to sleep. I sit by her bed, and I just meditate for like half an hour, 45 minutes, or something while she’s falling asleep. So that’s been really good and keeping me regular, I guess, in the meditation sense. But I also try to take meditation with me. So what I mean is in the morning, I’m meditating, I’m in the present moment. And then when I go into work mode, there’s like a tendency to just forget about the breathing and forget about the experience of being in the body and forget about all that stuff. And just go into focusing on work on them and so that’s, that’s, I don’t think it’s a good way to go into work because then you’re, you’re kind of missing the benefits of it. So what I try to do is I try to bring the meditation with me throughout the whole day. So I’m always centered on the breathing always centered in the body while I’m working. And that makes me much more grounded. Especially when there’s, like, work like fires that I have to put out and like, major problems or like that type of thing. I can go crazy if I’m not like centered, and then meditation throughout the day, really helps.

Ryan  

I’ve had more than one person, a bunch of people say to me is that they can’t meditate. Their mind is too busy. I feel like saying, well, that’s why you need to meditate. But what do you say to people who say I can’t meditate? I’m trying, it’s impossible for me?

Kevin  

Oh, yeah, I mean, that I think that the story that I shared earlier about the being in the monastery, and having like seven days of trying to meditate and being frustrated, and then eventually giving up, and that’s when it actually worked. Like, I think that that’s a really helpful story. Because I think that it shows that we have this misconception about how meditation works. And most people do. I mean, I’ve been meditating for many years before going to that monastery. And it’s hard to notice that it’s very subtle. But when you’re trying to meditate, you’re actually doing something. It’s like, it’s an active process of trying to meditate. And the goal, well, it’s a sort of a paradoxical thing, because the goal or nongoal of meditation is to not have goals, and to not have a future focus, instead of a present focus. You know what I mean. And when you’re trying to meditate, you’re doing something actively. And meditation is supposed to be letting go of all action, and just being passive. Do you know what I mean? So it’s, there’s like a paradox there, you can’t meditate by trying to meditate. Alan Watts described it as trying to come down the surface of the water with a flat iron, to smooth out the surface of the water with a flat iron, it doesn’t, it just doesn’t work. So what I recommend is like learning to just let go of the idea that you need to have a quiet mind, because that’s not what it’s about. Meditation is not about having a specific state of mind, the state of mind can come from meditation, there are meditative states of mind that come from meditation. But they’re not that they’re not how you meditate. So if you’re trying to meditate, and you are like, oh, I need to clear my mind, it won’t work. What you need to do is instead, when you sit down to meditate, or you try, you start meditating, don’t try to clear your mind, don’t try to do anything. Just observe what’s going on, passively observe what’s going on in your mind, passively observe what’s going on in your body, what you’re feeling, your emotions, your thoughts, your body, you could even try it right now, as I’m talking, just being aware of your body, being aware of what you’re feeling what you’re thinking. And without judging anything, without holding on to anything without feeling like it’s good or bad. without, like, trying to find the pain or the pleasure in the body without trying to relax or whatever. Just feeling everything, experiencing being alive at this moment, just that experiencing being alive at this moment, without trying to change it in any way without resisting or clinging. That is good. Like, I don’t want to say that, like, there are many different kinds of meditation. But when you do that, when you just let go of trying to get anywhere and just enjoy being here. Suddenly, meditation is not hard. It’s it, there’s nothing, there’s nowhere to get to, there’s nothing to achieve. You just enjoy it at this moment, you just enjoy being alive. And that, to me is the key to meditation. So if somebody is feeling like, oh, I’m not good at meditation, or I’m doing it wrong, I have too many thoughts are like, well, then you are doing it wrong because you’re trying to get away from the thoughts. And you’re thinking that you’re not good at it. You need to let go of all that and just be and enjoy being. And that’s it.

Ryan  

Yes, in my experience, and not that I meditate at the level that you do, but I’ve been doing it for a while and I found just being with my thoughts. And you know, it’s weird because as I’ve done it longer, the thoughts have been less, I’m more just there in silence with myself, you know?

Kevin 

Yeah, it does. It does happen that way. Exactly. So like, I think that people describe these benefits of meditation of like, the mind is quiet and like they’re the thoughts are like chill and you’re you feel relaxed and like the people describe those benefits of meditation, and then people think that that’s what they’re supposed to do in the meditation. And that’s the problem is, those are outcomes. But to get those outcomes, you need to stop trying to get those outcomes. That’s sort of the paradox of it. Because in the West There’s this sort of like a drive that you have to, if you want something, you go toward it directly, like you have to go straight toward it. And you have to, like, keep taking steps in the right direction. The problem is that that doesn’t work for peace of mind. Because you can’t take steps toward peace of mind, you can only find it by letting go and stopping, taking steps. And just being here, you can set up an environment that’s good for peace of mind. Like you can make a nice meditation area or whatever. Like, that’s good, but that’s not what’s gonna get you there. What’s gonna get you there is to just sit back and relax and enjoy being alive.

Ryan  

Have you always had these deep thoughts? Like, like what you’re talking about, like when you were younger? As a young kid?

Kevin  

Yeah, yeah. Thank you for asking that. That’s a great question. Yeah. Like, when I was a little kid, I remember when I was like, a few years old, like four or five years old. I remember I was talking to my little sister who’s like, a year younger than me a year and a half, must have been six or seven, actually. And I remember asking her, how do we know that? Like, if you think that that’s red, and I say that that’s red? We both say it’s red. But what if we see it as different colors? Like what if what I see as red is what you see is like it’s in your perception is great. Like, I definitely phrased it differently. Obviously, I was like, seven, six, or seven-year-old kid, but I remember she, like understood what I was saying. And kind of got freaked out by it as like a five-year-old or whatever. I think it’s just something in my family. Like, we tend to have this sort of deep, deep ways of thinking. And also comes with anxiety that like deep thoughts tend to also come with anxiety, because you also think about life and death and things like that. And mortality can be a scary thing. But yeah, I’ve kind of been thinking this way since I was little. And it also comes with scary dreams, but not like crazy imagine. Yeah. Like, like, like thinking that I woke up inside of a dream. And then, but I’m actually still dreaming and then realizing that I’m still dreaming. That’s something to freak you out. Do you know what I mean? Yeah.

Ryan

I’ve got one last question for you, Kevin. Time flew. It’s going to be a doozy of a question. I feel like I need to ask you. I’m just interested to hear what your answer is. And this question, like, it’s personal to everyone, and the answer, but will change based on the season of life you’re in? But I still want to get your perspective on it. Yeah, the whole meaning of life, like why are we here? What are your thoughts on it?

Kevin 

Okay, I love that question. So, I actually would like to just quote a couple of I don’t have the exact words, but Osho and Alan Watts, they both these are two of my favorite philosophers. For the past century or so that there they’ve been like meditation philosophers. And they both sorts of had a similar way of looking at it. I think I’m gonna try to quote it, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get it wrong. This is Oh, show. Life has no purpose. Being alive is is the purpose there. Okay, I definitely got that wrong. He was so much more eloquent than that. But I’m, in my own way. So if you think that life needs to have a purpose, other than being alive, then you’re constantly striving for things and not really fully appreciating just the fact of being alive itself. So to me, to me, like, if and think about it, like if there’s a purpose in life that’s beyond just being alive. What happens when you die, then it’s just where does that purpose come from? Is there some kind of like, magical being that describes this purpose? To me, it’s, there’s no way to have an objective purpose. If there is no higher being that’s like a conscious entity that describes it. So I used to be a religious Jew. I was in rabbinical school in Israel until I was 19. And then I ended up asking too many questions and questioning the dogma and got kicked out. And that’s how I ended up being like a nihilist. And then And then, eventually, like learning to meditate and finding spirituality through not having religion. But when I was religious, and I was Jewish, then God told us what to do, like, told us your purpose is to serve God and you have to do these things from the commandments in the Bible. But when I lost all of that, and I stopped believing that I realized that like, life at that time, I felt life was meaningless. And it was a very stressful and depressing thing. I was like a nihilist like Nietzsche like nothing matters, everything is pointless. And then when I started meditating, I realized that nothing matters everything is a pointless thing it can be feeling like a sad thing or like a pressing thing. But it can also be a really uplifting thing, because if nothing matters and everything is pointless, then all there is really is to enjoy being alive. To me. That’s it’s not Like, mandate like you don’t have to enjoy being alive. But I think that it makes life a lot better if you do. Personally, for me, I’ve extended that to other humans and other animals and trying to help them enjoy being alive also, but that’s just my personal thing. I, I feel like, we’re all one spirit, we’re all one consciousness, as blue as that sounds like we are really all just consciousness at the core, like, You are consciousness, I am consciousness, all of these. And I’m not just talking about like, some mystical thing. I’m like, you know, if you’re listening to this podcast right now, or if you’re, you know, Ryan talking to me, or if I’m Kevin talking to you, it’s all coming from consciousness. Like, that’s what it is, that’s what we are. So, to me, we’re all that same consciousness. And if, if I want to be happy, and if I want to enjoy being alive, then I want you to enjoy being alive, and I want you to be happy, and I want everyone and all the squirrels and the mosquitoes and everyone to be happy as much as possible. So that’s kind of why I live my life the way I do, it’s like, you know, trying to minimize harm. Like my wife and I are doing vegetarian, eating vegetarian for the past five or six years now. Things like that, are just to try to minimize harm as much as possible to other creatures and beings and to try to make people as happy as possible. And that’s why I do meditation magazine, I create this magazine so that other people can be happy and the courses that I make and the meditation classes that I teach, it’s all really just toward that same purpose if you want to call it that just to for people to be happy.

Ryan  

I definitely want to recognize you for what you’re doing with Meditation Magazine. I know it’s not easy to keep that going with all the moving parts and but it’s really cool business and obviously having an impact on your readers want to recognize you for that.

Kevin 

Thank you I appreciate that. It’s hard right now, especially with all the supply chain issues. Luckily we were able to get our last issue out before the paper issues started really hitting the fan there’s like magazines right now all over the country that are not able to print half of what they were supposed to be printing because the paper is like this paper shortage Yeah, hopefully, that will be resolved by the time the neck our next issue is coming out. But it’s been really crazy over the pandemic. Crazy time.

Ryan 

This was great. Kevin, well, why don’t you share? You know, the website they can go to if they want to learn more about Meditation Magazine.

Kevin 

Okay, sure. Yeah, if you’re interested in subscribing to Meditation Magazine, just check out meditationmag.com/subscribe. So it’s like meditation and then mag like magazine.com/subscribe And then if you want to check out my meditation courses, you can go to Kevin Ellerton like my name .com/courses. So yeah, if you’re interested in courses you can go to KevinEllerton.com/courses. And if you’re interested in the magazine, go to meditationmag.com/subscribe. 

Ryan

Perfect. Thanks, Kevin. Great having you on. 

Kevin

Thank you for inviting me. It’s been a really nice conversation. I appreciate you.

Ryan

 Likewise.

Ryan 

Thanks for listening to the Morning Upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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