Episode 167 with Christian Minson
What’s up everyone? Drew Manning here with another episode on the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Now if any of you guys listened to episode 166 last week, you know that I talked about my Ayahuasca experience. I’m curious to know what you guys think of it. So please feel free to reach out to me on social media or leave a review on ITunes. I would love to hear you guys response to that. Now the next three weeks, like I mentioned, will be people from Rythmia. This first episode is with Christian Minson. He is the monk, or the former monk. He used to be a monk. He was a monk for 10 years. But he is the one who was in charge of breathwork. He is a breath practitioner. So this is what he does. He is a professional. Anyways, that was the first experience I had at Rythmia, was the breathwork experience and that was amazing. I had a very profound spiritual experience and it was really cool. And like I said, I got emotional. It was interesting and this was just from breathing oxygen. *laughing* It was an amazing experience. So today’s episode is his story, Christian’s story and why breathwork works and how we can use that as a tool to better ourselves. Also how those experiences that we need to really help shape our beliefs into what we are and what we are here for. A lot of amazing miracles can happen just from breathwork. I am a big believer in it. That’s why other people in the industry have talked about breathwork as an amazing tool. A lot of us here in western society don’t want to use it a whole lot, right? We breathe kind of shallow. Anyways, I am really excited to interview him. You guys will really enjoy this episode with Christian, so stick around to the end. I think you guys will learn a lot from it and hopefully you apply it in your life as well.
Drew: Christian, welcome to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. How are you doing today?
Christian: I’m great. Thanks for having me on.
Drew: My pleasure. My pleasure. You’ve done a couple of Podcasts before, right?
Christian: I have.
Drew: Ok. So, I kind of want to start out by introducing you to my audience. Talk about …. because you were a monk for 10 years and that’s obviously going to come up in our Podcast today. Can you connect the dots for us of how …. I doubt you were born and then said, ‘I want to be a monk when I grow up, right?’ *laughing*
Christian: Yeah. *chuckles*
Drew: Connect the dots for us and tell us how you became a monk.
Christian: Wow, that could be a long story or ….
Drew: We’ve got time. *laughing*
Christian: Well, you know from a young age I was a seeker.
Christian: My mom tells me that back in Sunday School, I used to ask all the hard questions. You know, why is this happening? Why? The Sunday School teachers, of course, just wanted you to take in the knowledge and regurgitate it. From there, really through high school and into college, I really started a spiritual journey. Actually my spiritual journey really got a kick start using psychedelic medicine in my senior year of high school, which ties into Rythmia ultimately.
Drew: Now where did you grow up again?
Christian: I was a military brat.
Drew: Oh, ok.
Christian: So I grew up all over the country and the world.
Drew: What age was your senior year of high school?
Christian: Senior year of high school was 1985-1986.
Drew: Ok, and how did you get introduced to the psychedelic world in 1985?
Christian: Through …. an unconscious exploration probably. *chuckles*
Christian: It kicked me into conscious exploration.
Christian: You know, by the grace of God or what have you, my party exploration turned into a really more conscious experience of the medicine. I really had what I would call a ‘god experience’. I can remember looking up at the clear blue sky. I mean there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect uniform blue color and there was just this sense of a communication going on, like God was speaking to me. There weren’t any words. There weren’t any ….. you know there wasn’t this firework show or anything. There was just this sense that I was in connection with this divine spirit. Then to cap it off, a little bumble bee came flying around and it just landed in my hand. We sat there communing for about 20 minutes before it flew off again. I mean that really solidified what had already been in my consciousness, that there has got to be something more to life than what I was experiencing. And so when I went to college, I started exploring spiritual paths. Different meditation groups would come into town and give their presentation to whoever wanted to show up. The TM people came through. I got ….
Drew: That’s transcendental meditation?
Christian: Yeah, transcendental meditation, yes. Exactly. I ended up meditating with a group from the Master Chin Joy, some people may know that. He used to be based in New York, Queens New York. He came from India. He is no longer in the body. All that led me to a book called “Autobiography of Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, who is an eastern master and who came from India in the 1920’s to America. He set up the organization ‘Self-Realization Fellowship’ to start to disseminate these eastern teachings of meditation and service to the western world. He really is one of the primary figures responsible for all of the …. these days it’s pretty common to see people walking down the street with a Ganesh t-shirt or you know, Yoga, Namaste, all those kind of things. *chuckles*
Drew: Namaste. *laughing*
Christian: Right. Even back when I was in high school, yoga was something that I got laughed at for trying to practice.
Drew: *laughing* Yeah.
Christian: So I got involved in his organization, which anybody could get involved with. It was kind of like church, you know in a deeper, spiritual way. Then that led me to just getting deeper and deeper in to it and after a while it was like I spent most of my days and evenings at the temple. I got a job at the retreat that they had there. The next step was to just make my life 24/7 dedicated to that and so I took that leap and jumped in head first.
Drew: Ok, let’s push pause there and I want to get back into that. But what were your parents, your family, like what did they think of all this? Was it foreign to them? It sounds like they grew up in some type of Christian religion.
Christian: Yeah. Well in the military especially, it is kind of like you are either Catholic, Protestant or Jewish basically. *chuckles*
Christian: They are all …. there are three separate churches and sometimes if the base is small enough, all that is just conglomerated into one. I was basically a non-denominational Protestant, In growing up anyway.
Christian: I think my parents felt their obligation to send me to Sunday School and give us at least a sense of that, of some sort of spiritual or religious background, but they weren’t terribly religious folks themselves. My father came from a Mormon background. My mother came from an Episcopalian background. If you know anything about either of those religions, they are supposed to stay within in their own ….
Drew: Yes, actually I do. *laughing*
Christian: *laughing* So right off the bat, I was born to a bunch of black sheep.
Drew: *laughing* So, as you were going on this spiritual journey, like in your college years, were they supportive at some point? Like they didn’t understand it, but they supported you and loved you anyways? Or was their any kind of ….
Christian: They thought I was in a cult. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Ok, that’s what I was going to ask. So they thought you went off the deep end?
Christian: Yeah. That was the serious vibe. They were like, ‘What are you getting in to? Eastern religion, even just 20 years ago, was not as prevalent and accepted as it is now. I think a lot of just yoga, the physical yoga we see everywhere, has helped soften people’s opinions and that kind of thing. But back then it was very new and very weird and especially to people who are pretty straight laced and conservative. They thought that I was making a big mistake. Now that being said, once I was in the order and they came and visited and they saw that I wasn’t being brainwashed or being taken advantage of, or my bank account wasn’t getting cleared out and all that, once they met the people that were there, they really saw it’s a true path. A path that is dedicated to the highest endeavor of self realization and of awakening ourselves to our soul nature and really living in that truth.
Drew: Wow. That’s really, really cool. So at this point, it sounds like you were interested in doing it 24/7 and back then there was probably no book or website on how to become a monk 101. *laughing*
Christian: *laughing* Yeah, there were no websites back then! There was no internet back then.
Drew: *laughing* That’s what we are all wondering! I have never met a monk or someone who was a monk in real life and so how do you become one? What do you have to go through? Is it a process or school? How does it work?
Christian: Well it’s not easy actually.
Christian: You know, first you have to make the intention and say, ‘Hey, I am interested in this.’ I met with some of the monks who were in charge of admitting people and then they kind of do a casual interview of you. Then if you are still interested, what they would typically do in this particular case is send us off to one of our Ashram Retreats. So it was a place where monks lived, but it was also a place where men could go and retreat. They could stay for a few days, a few weeks, even a couple of years. They would have us live there. They would place us there and then we wouldn’t hear from them for many months.
Christian: You know? That was really the place where you found out internally whether you really wanted it or not. Because most people would start to get a little antsy. Are they going to communicate with me? What did they leave me there for? Of course, the life you are living …. you are living the same lifestyle as the monk even though you haven’t taken all the formal vows yet or the commitment there.
Christian: On Friday night when you are normally out having a good time or going to the movies or whatever, you’re there and having to be with yourself and meditate and introspect. Those who weren’t ready for that finally snapped and decided that the worldly life was for them. Those like myself, who really wanted it, found that place and applied the teaching that we were being taught at the time and the meditation techniques and all that and started our journey on that life. It was just a test of time basically. It was about a year and 3 months or something before they actually gave me a formal interview, like the admissions interview.
Christian: Then I was there with like 4 big monks who were like staring at me with beady eyes, asking me hard questions. We had to fill out an application form that is 10 pages long. All that was designed to really just get you stimulated to think why am I really doing this? Do I really want this? What are my motivations? Am I trying to escape something or do I really have in my heart that self-realization is the pinnacle of life? Do I know this path is going to take me to that?
Drew: Ok, gotcha. That is what I was going to ask you is what was your motivation, but it sounds like that was your answer. Just curious, who’s paying for this? Do you pay for this for the whole year and a half of living there? I am assuming you had to eat and live somewhere?
Christian: Yeah. They have what is call a residency program so if you went on retreat for a few days or a week or two, you are expected to donate. People use that term a lot these days meaning it’s obligatory, but we don’t want to say obligatory payment. But if you were to stay on for the residency program, which was 6 months, a year, or a couple of years, you didn’t have to pay but you served. So this was a farm Ashram, it was in the hills of Escondido California, which was a very tranquil place. We used to farm basil, fresh basil. So we would farm it. In fact it was this organization that was one of the pioneers in the fresh herb movement.
Christian: These days you can see herbs in little packages that used to be McCormicks. Dried herbs was all you could get, then this fresh wave came out and we were on that forefront of that front. So it was like farm work. I was an irrigation specialist. I had to water the basil. I had to repair all the pipes and lines. So in exchange for working, you had your room and board and of course, the program that you participated in.
Drew: What was the majority of nationality that was there? Was it American, white American?
Christian: It was a majority of American, but at that time we didn’t have …. 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. As well, we didn’t have a President that was closing down the borders and that kind of stuff. We had a lot of foreign influence. A lot of people from Europe and South America. My friends came from Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Canada, India. Now the Master Paramahansa Yogananda came from India, so there was a sister organization in India. But the way that they organized it, they generally kept westerners in the western Ashram and they kept the Indians in the Indian Ashram.
Christian: Sometimes there would be an exchange program, but ….
Drew: Gotcha. At these places, what were the rules? Did you have to follow strict rules? I am assuming if you want to become a monk, like what were the rules you had to follow?
Christian: Well as a monk, there were four basic vows that we took.
Christian: Simplicity, obedience, loyalty and chastity. And that chastity one always gets people. *chuckles*
Christian: That was usually the one that most people are interested in. *laughing*
Drew: Ok. *laughing*
Christian: Those were the four vows. Of course it was a very disciplined lifestyle. As we stressed in the order, it was self-realization. So it wasn’t like there were police monk always looking over your shoulder making sure you are doing things right. You are expected to follow the rules, not because you had to, but because you wanted to. You understood that the guidelines were there to help keep your focus on the highest endeavors you were there for. We willingly subscribed to the restrictions that were there. Now that being said, some people made it through the initial process, but then once they became a monk, eventually they cracked and started to go to basketball games and things like that. I could tell you all sorts of stories. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* No, it sounds very similar growing up in a strict religion. We had very similar rules that you had to follow as a missionary. But you see it in other religions too. Priests that take on these vows of like I will sacrifice this to become this. I totally respect that. One last question about this process is you mentioned how psychedelics helped kick start this journey for you. Did the monks that you were a part of have a similar view or did they not buy into that philosophy?
Christian: No. They did not buy into that philosophy. As monks, we didn’t drink. We didn’t smoke. We didn’t engage in any kind of altering substances, including coffee.
Drew: Ok. Interesting.
Christian: Except for sometimes we snuck coffee.
Drew: *laughing* That was your drug. *laughing*
Christian: *laughing* Yeah. Coffee and food. We were allowed a lot of leeway with food. But we were vegetarians. It was a vegetarian order. I was vegetarian before I even came in so that wasn’t a problem for me. But for some of the guys, they were used to their burgers and all that kind of stuff.
Drew: So, once you become a monk, what’s your purpose? What is your role? Do you live there on the compound? Are you training other new recruits? I don’t know what the purpose of a monk is. You see movies of monks and …. we always make up the idea of what a monk really is.
Christian: Right. Well different orders have different missions. St. Teresa went into Calcutta and her mission was what we call Karma Yoga. The Yoga of service. She got into the dirty streets and helped the poor hands on. Our mission in the Order of the Yogananda was to disseminate the teachings of Kriya Yoga. To get the understanding out there to the western world that we needed some balance to all of the intense activity that was driving people to high blood pressure and extreme stress levels and all this stuff. We really believe that these techniques in meditation were some of the highest forms of getting us connected to our true selves so that we could sit in meditation, get connected, get perspective so that when you went back into your active life, you weren’t just sucked into the stream and a pawn to the mechanism, the big machines so to speak. But that you remembered your connection to the divine amidst your daily tasks. We really were encouraged to transmute our activity into service, which meant that we weren’t acting for ourselves, but we’re acting for the greater good of mankind.
Drew: Yeah. That’s beautiful. There is a lot of similarities between all religions, but it’s very similar with the mission of helping people realize that they are better than they are and the gift of service and how that brings joy and fulfillment in people’s lives. It’s not the external sources of happiness like cars, money, women and the cool things of the world, right? Ultimately you were a monk for 10 years. Why did you leave and what was the reason behind that? Where are you at today?
Christian: Well, partly after 10 years, I started to get this inner calling to leave. This was a very disconcerting time because I had made the vow to stay there. I was planning to be a monk and like being married, you don’t plan on being 10 years, you plan to be married for life, right? So that was my intention. I was living the life and I enjoyed the life. There was nothing about the life that …. some guys got really angry at the organization. They saw the flaws. Every organization has flaws and they didn’t feel it was so spiritual. They would get a chip on their shoulder and leave. None of that was happening for me, but I was getting this inner calling that it was time to go. It wouldn’t go away. So, to make a long story at least a little shorter is that I came across the techniques of breathwork and this segways into what I am doing today. I was introduced to this technique of breathwork that helped me start to get in tune with my emotional repressions essentially. As a monk, it was a very high level endeavor, but what I came to realize over time was that it didn’t really address our lower nature and all of the trials and tribulations that we have been through in our lower nature. So a lot of people would use spirituality to mask their …. you know, the things that weren’t functioning right, the dysfunctions. On some level, I was doing that too. I recognized that even though I had gained a lot in spiritual understanding and spiritual experience, there is still an emotional dimension to myself that hadn’t been addressed and that I had repressed and suppressed. Of course being in a military family, being a man, being in a family that didn’t really express feelings, we didn’t sit around the table and say, ‘How do you feel today?’ It was like, get things done and suck it up and all of that kind of stuff. The breathwork brought out these emotions. One, it helped me actually understand I had emotions, which may sound funny to some listeners out there. But for somebody who wasn’t used to expressing them, some of these energies coming up, being able to identify them as these particular emotions was a significant revelation. Two, it gave me a safe container to start expressing these emotional energies. So instead of holding it in and repressing it and trying to circumvent it, actually allowing it to come up and be there and be ok with that. But the third and probably most significant part of this whole thing that breathwork gave me was the ability to integrate that emotional energy. In other words, to help me clear it from my system. To express it for the sake of actually bringing it to completion rather than just expressing for the sake of expression. But we don’t necessarily move that energy along. In that it helped me get clear. It helped me tune in with what my heart was telling me that I really wanted and/or needed. When I tune in, I weighed the options of staying or going. Do I stay in this life that I’ve dedicated 10 years to, that I made vows that I would stay with for life. It was the last stop on my spiritual path and all these things people tell you or do, I go down this path of leaving where I don’t know where I am going. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a place to live. I don’t even know what the world is like after 10 years. I got out and the internet is there and email. I can remember the first time, just as a side story. In training, we are totally cut off from the world. So this was about 2 years of training, when I got out of training, in that two years the internet had come into existence. So it wasn’t there when I went in. It was there when I came out and email. We all got email. I was like, ‘Wow! This is so great! I can communicate with 5 people at once and send them the same message rather than putting 5 pieces of paper in different mailboxes.’
Drew: Yeah. *laughing*
Christian: So that was my great revelation coming out of the Ashmar.
Drew: That’s interesting.
Christian: It got me into me with these choices and my heart was really resonating with the choice to leave. When I took a deep breath and I stated that, I can still recall to one of my superiors, in fact I write about this in the book that I am part of on line, “Shifting The Paradigm of Entrepreneurial Success”. I talk about decision making in that. I use the story, because I was wavering on this decision. When I finally said my heart is telling me to go, it’s like literally this weight lifted off my shoulders. You hear that expression all the time, but this is the first time I actually felt it. All this heaviness just lifted and I was excited. I was light. I skipped all the way to the phone booth. I think I called some friends. I called my parents. My mom and my sister in law popped a bottle of champagne that night when they heard that I was coming out.
Drew: *laughing* That’s funny. Wow!
Christian: So that breathwork basically helped me make that decision, because it was such a profound transformation in myself. I started on the fast track to becoming and getting all the training to become a facilitator and to ultimately become a trainer and then a senior trainer with the Transformational Breath Organization. Then 12 years later, here I am.
Drew: Gotcha. So really quick, did you learn breathwork as a monk or is this something outside of what you learned?
Christian: Not formally. I mean it wasn’t part of the monk training.
Drew: How did you discover it?
Christian: I was a little bit of a deviant monk.
Drew: Oh, ok! *laughing*
Christian: I snuck off to learn this part.
Drew: You were on YouTube looking at how to do breathwork, right? *laughing*
Christian: No. *laughing* Actually one of the other monks, he was a guy who was always into new and interesting things. And he was like, ‘You’ve got to try this breathwork, man.’ He’s the one who introduced it to me. I got it from a book and a little practice CD. From there, I snuck off to a seminar. *laughing* That’s where it helped me make that decision.
Drew: So what is it about breathwork that is different from meditation and prayer? Because some people believe you can receive the same answers or the same revelations through these other methods? And those are still awesome methods that a lot of people practice, but what is it about breathwork specifically that brings that out in people that is different?
Christian: Yeah I think they are all tools of the same. Breathwork, meditation, prayer, plant medicine for that matter. They are all there to help us uncover our higher self and to get a glimpse of who we truly are in our gloriousness. Coming from a meditative background, I feel that breathwork is really a great precursor to meditation. They work symbiotically. If you do some breathwork, you kind of clear that emotional field so that stabilizes. So when you actually go into meditation, you can spend time meditating versus spending the first half hour, or 45 minutes just trying to calm your mind or calm your emotions.
Drew: I love that.
Christian: That being said, a lot of people don’t resonate with meditation. They are either physically uncomfortable trying to stay still. Mentally they just can’t keep their mind still. So breathwork doesn’t require stillness of the body or stillness of the mind. It requires just to focus on this continuous circular, cycling breath pattern. Your mind can go anywhere. You can move your body and you can adjust. But in that, through the breathing, we are accessing life force energy, where we are bringing abundant amounts of oxygen into our body. That oxygen is imbued with prana. The prana is a Sanskrit term which means life force energy. This life force energy is the energy which brought us to life, which made us living, thinking, feeling beings. In bringing that life force in, it activates our consciousness. It creates the experiences we can have in meditation and prayer and all that. In fact, it’s interesting because it often does it quicker.
Christian: I can say that I’ve paid my dues with meditation. We used to meditate about 4 1/2 hours each day.
Christian: For those 10 years. Then on Sunday’s we would have a six hour long meditation. So I did a lot of meditating. You know, breathwork brings about the experiences that meditation does, but it seems to just bring it around faster and easier. It’s like the CliffsNotes version of meditation or something. Again, that’s kind of with plant medicine as well, I think this is why Rythmia exists is because these methods, plant medicine and breathwork are the short cuts. Jerry, our CEO, even says that with his opening talk. When he got the download that he was supposed to open this place, it’s like the two shortcuts to realizing who we truly are plant medicine and breathwork. That’s the main difference is that breathwork really shortcuts. Now that being said, life is not a shortcut. Life is a marathon. The shortcut is like the 100 yard dash. You can have an experience that helps awaken you, but you’ve still got the rest of your life ahead of you to live, right?
Drew: Yeah. *laughing* Yeah. You’ve still got to run the marathon. Yeah.
Christian: It requires diligence, patience and discipline to perpetuate that. And I still recommend meditation, prayer, breathwork and all that on a regular basis.
Drew: The consistency is the key thing versus trying it once and you are done. It’s kind of like working out, you can’t just work out and be like, ‘I lifted. I’m strong. I’m physically strong. I don’t need to do it anymore.’
Drew: It’s something you have to stay consistent with, right?
Christian: Yeah. I use that example a lot. Yeah, you lift weights one day and you are feeling good. You don’t lift again for another 3 weeks. I’s like yeah, it does not work that way.
Drew: Exactly. *laughing* So tell us about Breathflow and how that came about. We will put a link in the show notes to this and your book as well.
Christian: Great. Thanks. Breathflow, breathflow.com is my company that when I left the order, I said I got on the fast track to becoming a facilitator. I did it. Probably in about 6 months, in January 2007, I opened my doors for business. That was my official opening. Breathflow was the name I chose for the company. I felt like it was a great description of really what we are trying to do to get what I like to say, in the flow. I have a concept of the flow as like the force of life, you know? That life itself is an energetic flow. If you think about it, what defines life is movement.
Christian: If we stop moving, the cessation of movement ultimately is death. By learning how to flow with your breath, you learn how to flow through life. I use the phrase, as your breath flows, so your life flows. It describes if you want to live a fluid, graceful life, you want to practice breathing in a fluid, graceful way. If your breath is stilted and short and choppy and all that, your life is going to be stilted. It’s going to be …. you are going to experience difficulty in the challenges of your life.
Drew: Yeah. I remember when you said in our breathwork, you said something about if you want to have deep relationships, you know, your breathworks are kind of a reflection of your relationships. Deeper breaths and deeper relationships. Shorter breaths, shorter relationships.
Christian: I was talking about in that particular case, getting back to the life force. The life force, you could think of it as the particle of spirit. So as we breathe in this life force energy, we are actually developing a relationship with our spirit. Like any relationship, you could either make that a shallow relationship, if you breathe shallowly, you are going to have a shallow relationship with your spirit. Most people don’t find shallow relationships to be too satisfying.
Christian: They are surface level. There is always something, you know. I wish there was more there. But as you learn to breathe deeper and more fluidly, you’re bringing in abundant amounts of that life force energy through the abundant amounts of oxygen you are taking in. As a result, you are developing this deeper relationship to spirit. That has many beneficial consequences. As you develop a deeper relationship with spirit, it’s like anything. You develop a …. you are a weightlifting guy, you develop a relationship with a master weightlifter, you start to learn something from him. You learn tips and tricks that you didn’t know, shortcuts to how to improve your practice and all that. In the same way here with spirit, only it’s much more on an intuitive level, you know? Our perception of spirit ultimately is an intuitive experience. As we bring more of that life force energy, that fundamental energy of spirit into our being, we start to train our consciousness to spirit itself. Therefore we start to think, feel and act in alignment with spirit, which is an alignment with the flow of life itself. Instead of acting out of alignment with flow, which is where we feel like, you know, I’ve tried to get this project going. I can never get it happening. I try my best, but there is always a roadblock. That is an indication that you are not in the flow.
Drew: Yeah. I love that. That was a beautiful description and a great analogy, I think for people listening of how breathwork can actually relate to their everyday life and how it correlates. For me, I think breathwork has become more mainstream with people like Wim Hof. Wim Hof is very popular, the Wim Hof method of how breathing. If anyone out there doesn’t know who he is, go check him out. He is an interesting character, but very brilliant at what he does. So what is it about Breathflow? What is your technique or is this a course people can take online? How does it work?
Christian: I came from the school of transformational breath. Wim Hof does what he calls the Wim Hof method of breathing that he developed. Transformational breath is a particular method. If you look out there, many people researching breathwork will probably come across a technique called rebirthing. A technique called holotropic breath and/or the technique of transformational breath.
Christian: As well as dozens of other variations of those main techniques. The difference in the techniques is there are little tweaks and differences in the physical way that you do it. But more importantly is the intention behind the technique itself is what really brought about and defines the difference. For instance, rebirthing was originally brought about because we realized that we experienced trauma at birth that we are not even in control of.
Christian: We realized that this birth trauma affects the way that we live life. They discovered that by going through this process we could actually integrate that birth trauma and not let it affect our lives anymore. The holotropic breath stems off Grof, who started that. It was actually teamed up with Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary. Richard Alpert who is known as Ram Dass these days.
Christian: They were experimenting with LSD back in the late 60’s, before the experiments got shut down. They were experimenting as scientists trying to understand this. The government shut that down. But Grof was like, ‘I wonder if you can attain that same kind of experience without the chemicals.’ That is what led him to develop the holotropic breath pattern, which was designed to help us get into that psychedelic experience without chemicals. The transformational breath really started on a foundation of understanding that we are spiritual beings. Our deepest connection, our deepest experience and our most satisfying experiences is with our spirit, with the spiritual essence of who we are. And understanding that often times on our way to that, or to realizing that spirit, there is a lot of debris in the road. That debris is our emotional traumas, our emotional repression and suppression. The technique could help integrate those. Once those were integrated, it could actually help us to realize, to really grasp our highest nature and our highest potential.
Drew: That’s awesome. So really quick, I want to share my experience, which I kind of talked about in detail before this. But, I was skeptical going into it. I’ve done some breathwork, but nothing that brought out an emotion or was a psychedelic type of experience. So we did the breathwork here with you and that was the first time I met you. I think it was 60 minutes or 90 minutes we went for?
Drew: I’m like, ‘Man, how am I going to keep breathing like this for this long?’ I didn’t know how it worked, so I just trusted the process and I did it. And it was amazing. I obviously had a very emotional experience. The emotions came out of it that I didn’t know. I’m open to talking about it. But, it wasn’t just me, it was so many people in the room had emotional experiences. You see this all the time?
Drew: So, you’ve seen it happen so many times before. When you do this yourself, do you still find things that you are learning? Do you have emotional experiences yourself?
Christian: My emotional experiences have quieted down, just personally as far as 10 years into it. I don’t have these big cathartic emotional things anymore, in fact. But how I use the process more in my own life, which is really what I see the value of it is ultimately, is when an emotion comes up. I’ve got a spiritual background. I know how to navigate life. Ideally I’m even minded on most days. But life always throws you curveballs.
Christian: Some days it gets my goat and then you are frustrated or you have an experience that produces anxiety or something that brings about sadness or whatever. In those moments of that emotion arising, I go into the breath process. So that I can actively be with those emotions. One of the main premises is that we don’t deny how we feel. We allow our feelings to be present, but we don’t allow them to be present and take us over. There are two extremes to the spectrum. Either we are over emotional, where our emotions get the better of us and we are kind of controlled by our emotions. Or like in my case, we are under emotional, where you are very stoic and you are holding all this energy in. As a result, the flavor of life isn’t as exuberant. It’s not as wonderful. For me the whole process was learning how to …. again as I explained earlier, how to have emotions, express them and ultimately integrate them to where I wasn’t afraid of my emotional experiences and would invite them and learn from them. This color of life is in our emotional experience. I often say if you are denying some of your emotions and you are hoarding others, it’s like a painter who works with a limited pallet. Imagine if you are trying to paint a wonderful landscape, but you have only got blue and red, you know? That’s all you can paint with. It’s not going to have quite the same vibrant quality as if you had all the colors of the spectrum. All those colors include black, browns and grays. All those metaphorical experiences that we are trying to avoid, the darkness and all this. The more that we can come to terms with that this is part of the spectrum of life, actually the less that the darkness seems so dark and actually the more that we will start to appreciate that there is some value in there. There is a lesson or a message that comes out of it.
Drew: Yeah. So for those listening, just because we are coming up on time here, that want to learn more about breathwork and specifically at Rythmia, how does breathwork`work at Rythmia? Let’s say that someone doesn’t want to do plant medicine or they are just not ready for that yet?
Christian: You have got two options there basically, you can either do the regular Rythmia program which starts with breathwork at the beginning of the week. Then it goes through 4 days of plant medicine, which if you are not in to medicine, you can skip. Then at the end of the week you have got a couple days of breathwork that you can do. We also started with Rythmia a breathwork week, where the whole program is breath medicine, or original medicine. So we eliminate the plant medicine aspect of that for that week and all the ceremonies that happen Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that would normally be plant medicine, now are slightly expanded and slightly modified breath ceremonies.
Drew: Hmm. Gotcha.
Christian: So you still get the ceremony at the beginning of the week, that you normally would. You get the ceremonies at the end of the week. But then the four days that would be plant ceremonies, are now breathwork ceremonies. I have to say that whether you are unsure about plant medicine or you just don’t want to do it, or you are medically unable, or maybe you are taking medication that would let you. People here …. each week I always ask just to see, but by the large the majority of people agree that their breath experience was equally as powerful as their plant medicine experience. There is always a handful of people that will go on record as saying that their breath experience was even more powerful than their plant medicine experience.
Christian: So, it’s really the medicine, whether it’s plant or whether it’s oxygen, our original medicine is just the carrier of the experience that truly is our own inner awakening. Like we said before, you could do that with meditation. You could do that with prayer. You could do that with a lot of things, but that breathwork and plant medicine are two of the fastest, the shortcut routes, to getting that understanding.
Drew: Yeah. I am sure you have seen some pretty miraculous stuff with all the people you work with here at Rythmia. One last question for you. This is one of my favorite quotes from Tony Robbins. He says, ‘Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.’ You know we see this all the time in life with celebrities, sometimes rich people. They have this outward sense of success, right? A successful person has all these things, but they are ultimately not fulfilled inside. So my question for you is what brings you fulfillment in your life?
Drew: I know it’s kind of a deep question. *chuckles*
Christian: This came to me just a couple days ago. My mission in life is to love people, like really love people. I thought about that and I was like, ‘Duh?!’ *chuckles*
Christian: But when I thought about it a little deeper, it’s a little edgy, because I don’t love everybody. *laughing*
Christian: It’s like that word ‘people’, it didn’t say love ‘some people’, or love the people that you like! It’s love people. I think really getting in tune with the nature of life is love. So the more that I can be aligned with love, the more fulfilled I am. So, when somebody irks me and takes me out of that love, I’m really hurting myself because I am no longer in alignment of the true nature of life, love. That’s my practice. That’s my fulfillment. I get to it through meditation, through breathwork. But through plant medicine and through diligent daily practice, when I realize I am straying from that ideal, I make an effort to get back on the track.
Drew: Yeah. Ok, one last question. I lied! *laughing* One last question!
Drew: Where do you see breathworks going from here? Do you believe breathwork is something that can be implemented in prisons, high schools, middle schools, teaching this to kids? Is this part of your vision?
Christian: Well, I will ask you this, do people breathe in prison, in high school, around the world?
Christian: Wherever people breathe, breathwork can enhance the experience. So I see breathwork taking over the world. I’ve worked with youngsters as young as four years old. I’ve worked with the elderly, as old as 94 years old. As long as there is breath, there is the power of learning something deeper about ourselves. I believe in the holographic nature of the universe, which means that any aspect of our lives, we can extrapolate information about the greater aspect of our lives. So if we just look at the way we breathe and we analyze how we feel when we breathe and how we are breathing, we can make a lot of references about how our life is going. What kind of things maybe getting in the way of our true happiness in life? It’s such a foundational part of our life experience. As a monk, we practiced back to basics. Everyday we sat down to meditate it was the same thing. Am I sitting up straight? Am I gazing at the spiritual eye? Am I relaxed? We just go through this checklist of basics. The most basic thing in our life is to breathe. How am I breathing? I mean the vast majority of us have never been given any training on how to breathe. We just expect it. We know how to do it because it’s an autonomic process. All the traumas in our life have modified our breath patterns in a negative way. Breathwork can actually habituate ourselves back into healthy breathing patterns and reinforce holographically a healthy life.
Drew: Gotcha. We are running out of town here and I promised that was the last question. But …. *laughing*
Drew: But I have one more that popped up. It’s a yes or no answer. Have any monks ever come to Rythmia?
Christian: Yes, me. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* You! *laughing*
Christian: I don’t know if another monk has. I do know another monk in my order went through another plant medicine, what do you call it, facility. So, yes there are some monks who expanded their open mindedness into these different realms. I definitely think there is nothing wrong with plant medicine. There is nothing inherently dangerous about it, especially if you do it in an environment like Rythmia, which has a medical facility and psychological doctors on hand. It’s comfortable. It’s safe. We’ve been trained to do this. It’s a tool. Plant medicine is a tool that indigenous cultures have been using for centuries to understand the nature of life and their own happiness. It worked for them, it can work for us. We just have to learn how to respect it and not abuse it.
Drew: Yeah. Love that. Christian, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate you.
Christian: Thank you.
Drew: We will talk to you soon.
Christian: Right on.
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