Feeling stressed this holiday season? A new year is just around the corner, and with it, a chance to readjust your routines and take a breath.
Taking a deep breath is something Rumble creator Paul never takes for granted. He knows that healthy living isn't just about staying active - it's equally important to slow down and take care of your mental health as well.
For Paul, this means finding the time for meditation. In addition to daily practice, he takes off for regular week-long retreats to recharge his mind, body, and soul. All that meditating is making a difference for his health, and he's got the data to prove it.
Q: You're someone who's always on the move, whether on a kiteboard, bike, one-wheel, or taking off for a road trip in your VW Westfalia. When did you start taking time out to slow down?
A: It’s true I do like to keep moving! I am oriented towards action, motion and adventure, but health challenges in my early 30’s really forced me to slow down and tune in to preserve my health.
Q: We tend to focus on the physical stuff when we think about healthy, active living - why is the mind important, too?
A: Without giving ourselves downtime for the mind to rest in simple awareness, we risk taking our thoughts too seriously. That can result in anxiety and insomnia, which both have a direct and negative impact on our physical health.
To me, optimal health is when heart, mind and body are aligned. Tending to the mind is part of that, and of course they are all connected!
Q: When did you first start meditating? How did you get into it?
A: In my late 20’s, cystic fibrosis really took a toll on me. My lung function was declining, so I started researching every potential treatment. I learned that lowering stress and cortisol could help my lung function, so in addition to dietary changes I also started meditating.
My introduction was a book from a friend called Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Q: What does meditation give you that you wouldn’t be able to get from yoga, reading, or just a good spa day?
A: While all of those might great ways to relax, the stillness of meditation offers us a unique benefit: the potential to see directly that we are not our thoughts. Through this practice, I've found myself smiling and laughing more, and generally traveling lighter through life!
Q: How often do you go on retreat?
A: If my schedule allows, I like to do at least one silent retreat per year (7-10 days).
Q: Do you have any favourite retreats or destinations for recharging?
A: To be honest, I really just enjoy anywhere if it’s sunny and warm!
Much to my surprise (and to those who know me!), I really enjoy silent retreats and prefer them to ones where talking is allowed.
I think this is because the peace discovered there is mostly independent of conditions - it’s internal, and I have learned I have a capacity to bring that peace into daily life.
Q: Do you feel that these retreats have improved your health, or are they just good ways to relax and recharge?
A: Most definitely they have improved my health! Part of my condition requires taking daily lung/breathing tests, and I've compared the results before, during, and after retreats. I consistently see a marked improvement after retreats.
Q: Any advice for those who are thinking of trying meditation or a retreat?
A: Start small! It’s super important to realize that thoughts are normal and a quiet mind is not the objective. There’s a great book called One Moment Meditation that I frequently recommend.
For retreats, Vipassana (a Buddhist mindfulness style) is not for everyone, but I do consider a great starting point.
Q: How can the rest of us work mindfulness or relaxation into our own wellness routines?
A: I've felt a great benefit in simply taking 10 minutes, twice a day to sit quietly without any distraction, but there are a couple of apps that make this easy for those who prefer guidance.
I like the Sam Harris “Waking Up” app, and did a 50 day challenge of 10 minutes a day with it.
For those that think they’re too busy, I will leave you with the old saying: “Everyone should meditate once a day, unless you're busy in which case you should do it twice!”