Mindfulness and meditation are buzzwords nowadays; they are advertised as the mother of all solutions.
We hear people talk about them as the foundation for success, from regaining control of our lives to becoming millionaires.
But what if it can actually help us lose those extra pounds that refuse to leave our bodies?
In this episode, the outstanding meditation teacher and speaker coach Simone Tai breaks down the secrets of how meditation can be instrumental in helping us lose weight. She shares tricks to stay motivated and meditate daily, simple meditation steps for beginners, and she unravels why meditation appears so tricky for many people.
Tune in and learn how to use meditation to lose weight, help to deal with anxiety, overcome eating disorders, and more.
Simone Tai is a former TV producer who used to work on top-rated shows like Masterchef (Fox), Fastest Car (Netflix), and Comic Relief (BBC) for almost 20 years.
She turned into a meditation teacher and speaking coach after she experienced improvements in her own life and wanted to help other people overcome their anxieties and thrive in the workplace and beyond.
Now, Simone teaches weekly sessions and workshops for leaders and creatives at companies and Networks such as CBS, NBC, Hulu, and Activision. She helps leaders, entrepreneurs, and high-performers get out of their heads and speak from their hearts in order to improve their public speaking skills.
Connect to Simone Tai
- How did Simone become a meditation teacher
- How meditation changed Ted’s life
- How to stay motivated to meditate daily by adding this hack to your meditation sessions
- How meditation helps with anxiety
- How to use meditation to overcome eating disorders and emotional eating
- Simple meditation steps for beginners
- Meditation explained
- The power of mindfulness
- The two biggest reasons why meditation appears so difficult
- Is meditation better for you than exercise?
- And much more…
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Podcast Transcription: How Meditation Could Be The Missing Piece Of Your Weight Loss Puzzle with Simone Tai
Ted Ryce: I’m super excited to share this episode with you today because it’s all about meditation. I have Simone Tai who is a former television producer, turned meditation teacher, and we’re going to dive deep into meditation today.
And I’ll tell you more about that in a second, but before we jump into that, I want to say, if you’ve been listening to the show for a while, and you’ve been enjoying the show, please share this show with a friend or with someone who could benefit from it, especially if they’re interested in today’s topic, which is meditation.
And if you’re new to this show and you’re not sure what you’ve gotten yourself into, this show is all about upgrading your mind and body. So, if you’re looking to make a breakthrough in your health, and level up your life, you’re in the right place. So, make sure you hit that subscribe button wherever you listen to podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, Pod bean, wherever you listen, there’s so many places, hit that subscribe button so every time one of my episodes goes live, you’ll be the first to know.
So, back to the episode, back to meditation. What I really like about Simone is that she comes from this high-performance world of television producing. As you can imagine, there’s so much pressure, and you’re going to hear about the behind the scenes of what goes on for a television producer, and how that job and the stress in it led her into learning how to meditate, and eventually becoming a meditation teacher, and leaving job behind, leaving that career behind.
You’re also going to hear about Simone’s struggle with eating disorders, and how she was suffering from stress eating, and compulsive eating, and basically running on chocolate and coffee to power through her days as a television producer, and how meditation was the cure she was looking for, was that thing.
And she’s very knowledgeable about health and fitness, her and her husband, I met the both at Rhythmia in Costa Rica, and very knowledgeable, very polite people.
But for Simone, it wasn’t until she learned about mindful eating, and until she was able to get a handle on that. And you’re going to hear about what mindful eating is, and just about meditation in general, and how to get started on it. But we’re not going to talk using flowery language about enlightenment or chakras or anything about that.
We’re going to talk about the science and the real-world benefits and stories about how meditation has affected our lives personally. Yes, I even chime in and share a few stories myself. So, you’re going to learn a lot, I’m super excited to present this episode to you today. So, without further ado, let’s step into this interview with Simone Tai about the power of meditation. Simone Tai, thanks so much for coming on the show today.
Simone Tai: Hi, Ted, how’re you doing?
Ted Ryce: I’m doing great, especially because we’re connecting again, and I think it might be kind of fun to talk about how.
Simone Tai: Yeah, it’s been a little while. I know that we met in very unusual circumstances. It’s funny, because I’ve actually met quite a few of my very close friends in this same scenario. And when people say, “Oh, how did you guys meet you? You must’ve known each other for years and years.” I’m like, “Wow, we met during a ceremony, we met in Costa Rica,” and they’re just a bit like, “what? What were you doing?” Yes, we met partaking in a plant medicine ceremony in a beautiful retreat, one of the medically licensed ayahuasca retreat and facilities. And we met there last December, 2018.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, we closed out the year there, and what’s so cool is that I’ve come to learn so much about you since then. But when you’re at Rhythmia in a situation like that, nobody cares about what anybody does, everybody’s just going through the experience together. But come to find out that you’re a television producer, turned meditation teacher. And once I found that out, and that you teach meditation at one of the biggest, most popular places in LA, I had to get you on the show.
Simone Tai: Oh, thank you. Yes, you’re so right. It is one of those scenarios that the last thing that you care about or interested in is the job, is the things that we label in our everyday life. And we go right to the crux of it, it’s like so, tell me about, you talk about the darkest, weirdest stuff that’s ever happened to you. And then it’s like, oh, what is it you do for a living? It’s the last thing that comes into mind. But it’s an amazing way to bond with somebody, because it’s the purest way.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, and just to piggyback on that a little bit, you don’t have to go to Costa Rica and drink plant medicine. You can go through and experience with other people doing all types of things: whitewater rafting, rock climbing, something that puts you all together, and makes you come together, where there’s the challenge. Of course, you can do the Ayahuasca thing too, but it’s quite a challenge. But I think this is important, because so many people try to network and grow their network, and exchange business cards.
And what I found, Simone, is that going to a place like that, not to turn this into a talk about Rhythmia. But going to a place and going through this together, I’ve made such great friends that I still keep in contact with, and it wasn’t because we exchanged business cards and started with, “So what do you do?”
Simone Tai: Yeah, exactly. And you’re right about the raw or the ways of doing it. I had the same experience doing my meditation teacher training. The class that I was in, the group of people I was with, we were not thrown into such a deep emotionally raw scenario, but again, we would just put together, we were learning together, the subjects that we talked about were emotional, and they were on a very, very deep, deep level, very fast, and it just bypassed all the surface level stuff.
And again, we formed really, really great bonds, but I don’t know, there’s something about it, you know, we were on a rocket ship to the deepest depths of our aura beings. And when you expose yourself so clearly like that to another human being, and you don’t care that you’ve been sick in front of them, and you don’t care that you’ve cried, and you’ve told people the things that you feel most ashamed about, then it’s like, okay, well there’s nothing else, I’ve got nothing else to worry about here, we’re friends.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so it’s such an amazing experience. And let’s jump into it. So, you have been a television producer for 15 years, you’ve worked on a number of different shows, can you talk about what you were doing before as a producer, and maybe some of the shows that you worked on that someone might recognize, and how you transition, and why you transitioned into teaching meditation?
Simone Tai: Sure. So, I, yeah, that’s right. So, I was mostly working in London for 12 years before I actually moved to Los Angeles. So, most of the shows I did was the kind of the big UK prime time shows. I did my forte was this sort of live… I did the studio shows. So, anyone who’s in the UK would recognize, I used to do a very popular date… I was a series producer of a dating show called Take Me Out, and that was a big studio, and it’s in a prime time Saturday night show, and it was weekly. And it was a lot of fun. We had a comedy host, so there was a lot of laughter involved, but it was essentially a game show that was like a dating game show.
So, that was kind of one show that I worked a lot on. I used to do, maybe—I think I did about five series, and worked my way up from a more junior role, and each season I came back, and I progressed and I worked very, very hard, very fast pace. But again, I met some wonderful people doing that job.
Other shows that people might recognize, I did a live telethon show called Comic Relief, which is, it’s over here now, as well. Richard Curtis, the man behind Four Weddings and Funeral. It was his idea to create this telethon show to raise money, and have lots of comedy entertainment, items and packages on the show.
And ultimately, we were on air for eight hours to raise as much money as possible for…It was for anywhere deserving, really. It was originally African charities, and people in absolute dire need, and then that spreads throughout the UK and America, and then the show came out here a couple of years ago. And since I moved to America, I have worked on shows like Master Chef with Gordon Ramsey.
Ted Ryce: Wow!
Simone Tai: I have done… Yeah, that was a little fun.
Ted Ryce: He’s a character, that guy.
Simone Tai: He sure is, he sure is a character.
Ted Ryce: Is he like that in person, screaming in people’s faces, or is that…? Can you share that?
Simone Tai: That would be quite funny when…Actually, when I first started the show, I was like…Because you know, I’ve worked on many shows and you hear stories about the host, and even sometimes I’ve heard stories about someone who I thought would be really nice, and then behind the scenes, they’re actually not so nice. So, I was like, “Oh no, is he going to be shouting at me? Is he going to be…This isn’t good enough.”
But actually, no. He was really lovely, and very, very… I think that ultimately, he’s very passionate, very experienced, and sometimes that can come across as a bit abrasive. And I didn’t take it that way, I’ve actually dealt with personalities who are a lot more difficult. And so no, for the experience I had with him, he was great.
Ted Ryce: Very cool. Well, and when I think about television, the business of television, and all the things that you just talked about, I think of like, yeah, you said you met some great people, got to work with some interesting personalities, some interesting talent. But I also think like high stress levels, long hours, incredibly high standards, because you need to put something out, there’s millions of dollars going into a show, I would imagine.
Simone Tai: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: So, what were the steps, or what got you to transition into meditation? Was it the stress of the job, or what happened?
Simone Tai: You know, yeah. So, absolutely, it definitely, that was a huge factor for me, and one of the reasons that I started to meditate in the first place, it was absolutely the hours I was doing. I worked on one show back in the day, this is, you probably heard, the show, Big Brother, it’s over here as well.
Ted Ryce: Of course.
Simone Tai: But when I was story producing on that, we would do a 27-hour shift. So, we would literally work around the clock, following the stories at the house, and making sure that we oversaw every single part of that day’s story. But we had to physically be there for the 24 hours, and then there was plus a few, because we had a viewing the next day. And I mean, we’d have a couple of days off, but I looked back at that and now, and think, what on earth were we doing, doing 24-hour shift.
So yes, of course, elements like that, we always do long hours, especially when you’re recording. So, it absolutely did start to take its toll, and it filtered through to all areas of my life. So, I thought I was coping with it, but things like emotional eating. So, there would always be some chocolate on my desk. I would go through phases of, you know, it was like coffee and chocolate, and coffee and chocolate, just to keep myself going. And I just felt horrible, a few days of that, and you’re not going to feel great, are you?
Ted Ryce: Absolutely not.
Simone Tai: Yeah. And it will go through phases, and then the show would finish, and you’d have a little break, and then you’d be like, “Okay, I’m fine now.” And then another show would start, because I was freelance and then you get back into the same rhythm. So, I wasn’t the only one; we were all in those kinds of crazy hours situations. And yeah, the deadlines and the pressure, and the pressure to… And it’s like, we’re not saying lies, but it felt like sometimes that the quality that was expected, and the pressure to make a really great quality show, and the show that people would watch was felt all over.
So, yeah, that definitely was one of the reasons I first turned towards meditation, and I’d heard good things about it, and friends had told me about it. And I would say that that was really, you know, I started dabbling in and out, I try it for a bit, and then I go back to being busy, I was too busy to meditate, way too busy. And then I’d have a little bit of time, dabble in it again. And I definitely felt little effects, but I never, I think ultimately, I didn’t quite know what I was doing, and I didn’t quite know how to implement it as effectively as I could have.
Ted Ryce: That sounds like so many stories that I hear of people who, they hear about meditation… I’ve talked to a lot of people who either become my clients, or people who reach out to me from listening to the show. They’re like, “Wow, I really liked the idea of meditation, but every time I sit down to do it, I can’t turn off my thoughts, I can’t sit there, I can’t focus, I get bored, I get anxious, and I want to do it,” or maybe they get into trying it like you did, Simone, and they do it for a while, but they fall off, and they keep going on and off. And obviously, I mean, it’s because they don’t have the big breakthrough with meditation.
For me, I did the same thing. The big breakthrough happened when I hurt my back really bad at the end of 2016, I herniated a disc in my lumbar spine. And I was in such incredible pain, more pain than I ever had in my whole entire life, because it was nerve pain, there was just no way to turn it off or deal with it.
And I couldn’t sleep, so I was on the floor in my apartment, because the bed, I couldn’t lay in bed, the bed made my back even worse. And meditation was the thing that I turned to at like, three in the morning, or four in the morning. And I did it, and it got me back, it allowed me to get some sleep, and it started to help me disconnect from my pain, and not focus on it so much.
And now I meditate every day, but I’ve gone through probably like you, of course not, I haven’t done my 400-hour teacher training like you have. But I’ve gone through a journey where, what I’m doing now is way different, way more beneficial than what I started doing with the Headspace app.
So, could you talk to someone about—talk to the person right now, who’s either struggling, they hear about meditation, but they get the Headspace app or Insight Timer, or Waking up with Sam Harris. They try it, they definitely feel a little bit of a difference, but it’s nothing major, and they keep going back and forth. What is that person missing? What would you tell them to do differently, to start getting the benefits of meditation, to the point where you’re motivated to do it, I would imagine every single day?
Simone Tai: Right. Yeah, I think you’re right. Sometimes, you mentioned it was a breakthrough moment for you, you felt like you had no other choice. And it happens for me as well, it was ultimately going through fertility treatments over many years, and it was more of an emotional—I hit the emotional rock bottom. And so, I think that often it does take something to happen for someone to feel motivated to do that.
However, there is, what the great thing about all the research and studies that come out these days is that there is so much— I mean, you can go online, Google it. There’s a ton of information about the significant benefits. So, if you want to be productive at work, and you’re kind of like a high achiever and a goal setter, you are probably more drawn to mindfulness or meditation, because you’re thinking, well, I want to be at my best, and I want to be productive, I want to be creative, I want to have great focus.
So, that can often be the doorway in for a lot of people who are the high achievers. On the other hand, like I said, there’s people like me or yourself who hit the rock bottom, and they’ve got no other choice, and it’s kind of like, “I do not want to live like this anymore, and I don’t want to feel like this anymore, so I really have to stick at something, or try something for a certain amount of time at least, to see if that works for me.”
For those people who are just coming to it and trusted it, and really just want to be as healthy and happy as they possibly can. Then I would say to them, life is always an experiment, it’s about trying…Yu’ve got to see it like a trial and experiment. I have a lot of students, people come to me in my classes and they’re kind of like, “Oh, I just find it so overwhelming. Do I have to sit here for 30 minutes every day? And do I have to sit cross leg like a monk?”
And I’m just like, those are the things that she put me off in the beginning. And I just say to them, it’s more important if you can develop a habit of it. So, if you can take even just a few minutes a day, set your alarm clock a little bit earlier in the morning, and build a habit of going into either a separate room, or just taking a little bit of space and having that time just for yourself.
And yes, you might not see anything happen in the beginning, but if you start to build a habit of it, and maybe can extend it a little bit more to five minutes. What you might just start to notice, and it might just be little glimpses of it, a little bit of calm, a little bit of spaciousness. You might feel—especially when you can use the amazing apps that are out. There are so many different styles.
You can find meditations that not just only helped with your focus, you’re training, your awareness, but meditations that can also help with emotional problems, like things like attitude meditation, or loving kindness. You know, there’s so many different styles out there, so I think it’s really important to trial out, find, experiment with different styles and classes, and see what resonates with you. And some teachers as well, will also hit a nerve, and some will be like, “I’m just not feeling that, I’m not into that style.” I think that that’s what I would say.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, that’s great advice, treat it as an experiment, make some time for yourself, and you may not notice that much at first, because it takes practice, it’s a meditation practice, isn’t it?
Simone Tai: Totally.
Ted Ryce: It’s not something that happens, you know, you don’t reach enlightenment in a 10 minute meditation on Headspace.
Simone Tai: Exactly, exactly. And I always say that kind of—it’s a very simple analogy, but it’s this sort of going to the gym, is going to the mind gym, you are not going to expect to have a muscle, an amazing bicep in just a few weeks of training. You are going to have to put that little bit—well, maybe a lot of time in each day, each day, just to build up, to build up, to build up that strength. And all you’re doing with meditation is building an awareness strength.
So, for me, that helped a lot when I was kind of like, “Oh, so I’m building this strength, the more, it dose dependent, the more I invest in this, the more time I put into it, the more I’m going to start to get out of it in the long term.” But there is a bit of faith in there, but the great thing is, like I said, there’s so many stats and research and science out there that you don’t need just to have to have faith in it. Everyone says it’s amazing, but you are your best teacher, and only when you do it yourself is when you’ll start to see how it impacts you in your life.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so well said. It’s such an appropriate analogy, using the gym, because you don’t get into the gym, do work out and really see a difference. It takes a while.
Simone Tai: Absolutely.
Ted Ryce: But you should feel a difference, a little bit, right? I’ll share just a couple of things, because you mentioned the science. A couple of things that really changed the game for me was, I suffered from a lot of social anxiety, and I can’t say I still do it, it happens every once in a while, if I drink too much coffee, or something like that.
But if I’m just normal, I don’t have the anxiety levels, but I used to have so much anxiety, that I’d have to drink alcohol quite a bit of it, just to take the edge off. Now, I don’t do that at all. Part of that was learning communication skills, learning how to speak better and connect with people.
But a big issue was my anxiety levels. And ever since I started meditating, I don’t even drink, I don’t drink anymore, it’s so weird. Now we know that meditation actually changes your brain over time, it puts that prefrontal cortex in charge, that part of you that has your dreams, your goals, what you want to accomplish in your life, and it takes that fear part of your brain, your right amygdala, and it can actually make it smaller and less reactive. So, you don’t feel as much anxiety, you don’t feel as much fear, or any of those other negative emotions.
And I think that’s special…I want to get into this with you, Simone, because a lot of the people who come to work with me, they are high-achievers, which means that they work really hard, and are even harder on themselves psychologically, like, “Oh, I’m such a loser, I got to do better than this.” And I can hear the stress in their voice, and when they sign up, and they’re like, “Yeah, okay, yeah, let’s do this, let’s get in shape.” Both the men and the women, and I’m like ha, the first thing when I hear that, that tension, that stress, that, “Okay, I’m always on, I’m always on top of things.”
I want to get them to meditate, just to calm them down, because the issue is, how are you? You can’t just follow a program and expect the program to work magic. You’ve got to make some internal shift, and I’d love for you to talk about your experience with meditation, and the mindful eating, and how it affected your experience with some of the eating disorders that you’ve struggled with.
Simone Tai: Yeah, of course. Absolutely, and I totally, the point that you made about the self-beating, the celebrating, that’s, you know, we all have it and sometimes we don’t even notice it, because it’s been so ingrained for so long, and what’s even scarier is, and both me and my husband have talked about this a lot, is this sense that sometimes that we don’t want to let that go, because we feel that well, how else are we going to be motivated to achieve greatness?
I need to be beating myself, but it’s absolute BS, because we can be still highly motivated and do great things without whipping ourselves. We can remove that layer, the layer of the beating ourselves up, and actually even achieve greater things, because we have more clarity and focus around the subject.
But I totally understand the fear of letting that go, because I used to think it was a brilliant asset, you know, like, “Oh, you have to beat myself up, I’m going to go out there and be very, very motivated.” And you know what? The more I meditated and the more I was less inclined to also, could step away from that voice. I feel like I’ve achieved more in the past couple of years.
Having that kind of attitude that I did before, it really just clouded my judgment. But when it came to emotional eating, and yeah, I was saying that I haven’t, it’s funny because for many years, this is something that have been one of my biggest struggles, absolute biggest struggles.
And I feel like I tried everything you can imagine to help with this problem, and I haven’t really thought about it a lot, because I think it’s only recently that I’ve just started to feel like I actually have overcome my biggest challenges. So, I would say, over 20 years, I’ve struggled with compulsive eating, and it always got worse at work when I was stressed and tired. And yeah, whenever I was just in a difficult situation, or even when I was bored, it was like, “Oh, what should I do? Oh, well, I’ll make some food.” I wasn’t even hungry.
So, yeah, and the bingeing, and it was horrible, a horrible, horrible cycle I was in. And I just remember many times feeling like, how am I ever going to get out of this? I feel like this is who I am. This is going to be for the rest of my life now. I’m always going to be stuck with this. I feel like a slave to food. And then the first turning point, I actually read, I was seeing a therapist, and he recommended there was some amazing books by a woman, her name’s Geneen Roth.
And he suggested a book to me called Feeding The Hungry Heart. And that was the first book I’ve read of hers. And it really just shifted my understanding of what this emotional need to eat from came from, I used to think it was because I was greedy and I was just lazy, and I have no willpower. And so, this was the cycle of the berating, you know? “Oh, you’ve got no will power, oh, you’re a terrible person, you can’t control yourself.” And then I’d be like, “well, I’m going to eat some more then.’ It was just this very strange cycle.
And it’s funny, because I read actually most of her books, and I’ve been on her workshops, and a lot of the meditation practices she includes, these are the kinds of things that I’m teaching now. And these are the kinds of things that I’m so passionate about, and at the moment I’m creating a mindful eating event as well, so I’m really, really excited about that.
Ted Ryce: Very cool.
Simone Tai: Yeah, and I read, it’s again, I went on a silent retreat recently, been on a couple books. The mindful eating part of that experience on it, it just blew my mind to have silence and to be able to sit and focus on the one thing I was doing. I’ve never had so much pleasure eating food, and I get a lot of pleasure out of eating food, but this is just like, wow, it’s really healthy, tasty food. And I ate half the plate, and I would never normally do that, because I’ve this fear of wasting food, there’s all these layers of problems.
And I could sit there, and I could feel my stomach feeling full, I felt my body being nourished, and the meditation practice that I was doing, as I was smelling the food, and tasting every single morsel of ingredients. I fully, fully was in that experience, whereas normally I’d be distracted watching TV, or working, or chatting to someone. You know, when you go out for dinner, you’re busy chatting, and before you know it, the food’s gone.
So, it was a real eye-opener, and when I came home, I started to incorporate more and more of this. And now I am, yeah, I’m really excited about sharing these tools to help other people. And not just to help them with emotional eating, but just to be like, hey, you know what? Food is great, and you can have an even more exciting experience if you just calm yourself and be quiet, rest and digest. The best place that you can actually digest your food, and have a healthy relationship with it.
Ted Ryce: Oh yeah, I love that. And I had a breakthrough as well, doing a silent retreat. I just did a two-day retreat, and I had never… I’ve been accused of inhaling my food, and people would say, “I didn’t enjoy food.” I can’t ever say I had an eating disorder, but I would eat compulsively, I would eat fast, I always have as a kid. I just did what came natural, even though I don’t really have your average upbringing, I guess. So, we just do what we’re naturally inclined to do, and for me, and I was just scarf down my food.
And I always thought, well, maybe I’m just faster than you, maybe I just enjoy it, but it’s just, I’m just enjoying it at a faster pace. I don’t know what—I was telling myself something like that. But when I was on the retreat, and I would take a bite of food, and I would chew it, and I would taste the flavors.
And then you said something really important Simone, you said, you’d feel your stomach starting to feel up. Instead of being focused on the conversation with friends or the TV show, or whatever it is, you would feel your body, you would taste the flavors, you would feel it, the food working in your body and starting to make you full.
And we’re so disconnected from that these days, and it was a game changer for me, and now, I can sit there and eat half the rice, you know? So, I’m in Asia, so people serve you this huge amount of rice, I’ll eat half the rice now, whereas before, like you, I would just finish my food. And I think this is a missing component in Western society, I think people don’t get the fact that the way we live is really disconnected from the way we’re designed to live.
Now, that’s not terrible or it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but also, I think we also need to be aware that like this whole civilization, modernization experiment, living in cities with cars and honking and lights outside disrupting your circadian rhythms. Like, you need to understand, you’ve got to go a step above and beyond, if you want to be sane and healthy, in a fast placed environment like most of us live. Do you have any thoughts to add on that?
Simone Tai: I just agree, and I feel that when we are in any of other than a relaxed state when we’re eating, it just became very apparent to me that when we’re in that stress place, our digestive system doesn’t perform at its optimal, because we were designed not to…When we have that fight or flight situation, our body starts to shut down.
So, I was starting to realize, especially because I was taking so many supplements to help with all the fertility treatment, we haven’t shown it, when my husband and I, we were working on creating a baby.
And I would take a lot, a lot of supplements, and a few— a nutritionist, and even my acupunctures are saying, if you eat in a rush, and your digestion isn’t working at its optimum, you can eat as much organic food and as many supplements as you want, bell, you might as well be eating a McDonald’s or Burger King. You might as well be eating cardboard, because you will not getting the nutrition from the food if your digestion isn’t working.
And it wasn’t. I was constipated, or I remember just my digestion was never great. And I absolutely put it down to eating in a state of a rush or a stress place. It’s like my psych was saying, okay, you are not in a safe place to be digesting this food now, we want to focus on running away, because that’s the kind of the operation that was going on in my mind, and my body.
And once that made sense to me, I was like, okay, this is why I am not feeling great, this is why I don’t have my energy right now. And again, it was only really through eating mindfully, or/and the more meditation that I brought into my life, that I started to feel the difference.
So, I knew on an intellectual level, but until I started doing the practices myself and putting the time in... And ultimately, you do have to put the time and make space to do this. But I personally know it paid off for me, and I think that it will absolutely make a shift for you— food, everything, your emotional place.
The thing with foods is that, we as a society, and actually many people around the world, we eat, we don’t eat just because we’re hungry, we eat for so many other reasons, we eat because we’re emotional, we eat because we’re lonely, we eat because we’re tired, we eat because we’re bored. And it’s like come on, if we only ate when we were hungry, and ate really great food, then maybe we wouldn’t have so many of these extra problems and health problems.
But it’s so hard to change. I had a lifetime of it. So, it’s like, the rewiring can happen, but it’s a slow process, because you’ve had a lifetime of being one way, but you can absolutely, you can absolutely rewire it.
Ted Ryce: There is so much important points that you made there, I would ask you, what are some things that a beginner needs to know, someone who really wants to either try meditation, or has tried it but just can’t make a shift. Is there a type of… I know you talked about just making some space for yourself in the morning, waking up a little bit earlier, getting into a place, a room by yourself if you can, and just sitting there and making it happen. But what are some other steps or some things that someone listening right now can try?
Simone Tai: Okay. Well, I would definitely say using an app, or if you are fortunate enough to have a meditation center at where you live, and they do group sessions. This is a brilliant place, a great, great place to start. Because again, it gives you the chance to be in that supportive environment, you make the appointment to go, there’s the accountability of it, which is why I actually, you know, there’s these other meditation forms, such as transcendental meditation.
Now, I do practice that myself as well, and it’s just one form of meditation. But the problem I had with that was, because it was a lot of money, and I never really…I was like, meditation should be for everyone. But the way I think it works, or one of the elements I think is it works is because of the accountability of it. You know, you invest in this, you pay a lot of money, so you more likely to stick to it.
But if you’re just starting out, I would, you know, apps like insight timer, you mentioned earlier, and they have so many different options. They’re all free, and it can be a great place to find, maybe a 4-minute or 5-minute meditation. And a guide to do, I think is really important because if you’re brand new to it, and you feel like you’re in the wilderness, like I was, you naturally, like you said, you’re going to be thinking things like, am I doing this right? Or I can’t switch off my thoughts.
And that’s one of the biggest misconceptions, because we can never switch off our thoughts. And I think that’s also one of the things that throws people, because they’re like, well, if I can’t switch my thoughts off, what’s the point of me doing this? And really what you need to understand is, you’re come at this—you’re learning a new skill, not to switch your thoughts off, but almost to lower the volume down.
So, they’re going to be there, they’re going to come and go. But what we’re building towards is, having that social distance from them, that’s one really important point, fact that I say to everyone. It’s, they’re not going to disappear, and equally, we’re not going to be sitting on a cloud of bliss for 30 minutes or 20 minutes.
Meditation isn’t about going to this beautiful, relaxing blissed out state, yeah, you might have essences and elements of that within your meditation, but don’t ever expect to be, that’s what you’re working towards. Really, you’re working towards, especially with the practice of mindfulness, which is a present moment awareness, and you bring in a gentle curiosity to it.
It’s a very, very simple—and actually, one of the most studied forms of meditation, is mindfulness. And I would say that’s probably a really, really good one to start with. And it can be as simple as sitting in a quiet room, and you could observe your breath, you can literally just watch the flow of the inhale and the out hale.
You could also feel inside your body, so it can be feeling your legs against the cushion, feeling your hands against your lap, and just noticing any sensations from the body. And what that does is, it sends a message to the mind that, okay, I’m safe, I’m focusing on my body, and I’m coming into this present moment. And what will happen is, you’ll start to dive at, the thought will come in, and you’ll be like, oh, okay, there’s a thought, you just label it, thought. “Hi thought, nice to see you,” okay? And then you bring your ones back into the body or to watch the breath.
So, they’re two very simple tools that you can use. And there will be a bit of backwards and forwards from all those thought again, thinking, thinking. Now, let’s go back to my body. And you kind of like, “Okay, is this what I’m doing? Just backwards and forwards?” And yes, that is what you’re doing. And that’s designed to start training that awareness, that’s a very simple beginner step to just train your awareness, to be able to notice that thoughts are separate.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so important, and that it’s a little hard to conceptualize for someone I think who may not really have the experience of doing that. So, the analogy that I think I saw in the Headspace videos, which is what I started with that 10-day Headspace challenge, which is for free, by the way. But like you mentioned, I recommend doing it in person, you’ll get so much more out of being with an experienced instructor than an app. But Headspace app made the analogy of that, you are the blue sky, you’re there, you’re always there. If the sun’s shining, if it’s nighttime and the moon’s out, or if there is no moon, the sky is still there.
And your thoughts are like clouds that pass in front of the sky, and sometimes the clouds are weird shaped or stormy, and bring rain and thunder and lightning. And sometimes they’re just beautiful and soft and amazing. But you’re always there, the thoughts, the feelings are those clouds that pass. And once you start getting that distance, you’re going to feel more—at least this is what happened for me. You feel more in control of things, because you don’t identify that anger that you feel, you realize, “Oh, there’s anger here,” instead of, “I’m angry.”
You’re like, “Oh there’s anger here, why is there anger? “You have that space to, I guess realize that, “Okay, here’s an emotion that’s popping up.” But you aren’t that emotion, otherwise you’d be angry 24/7, but you’re not, or you’d be happy 24/7, and you’re not. So there’s something more to it. So, do you have anything to follow up?
Simone Tai: Yeah, no, no, it’s a great analogy, and I love any sort of visuals like that, and it just sparked to mind, because John Kabat-Zinn also says about—he’s this great line, he thought, “Well, we can’t stop the waves.” He meant like the waves are our thoughts and emotions, and the kind of the overwhelming feelings. You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf them. So, it’s kind of like…
Ted Ryce: Oh, I like that.
Simone Tai: Yeah, it’s a good one, it’s that, “Oh, okay.” And you right, it’s what I always say in my classes is, the best way that we can approach whenever we’re sitting in any room, or taking it out into your daily life, is this feeling or this attitude of curiosity. So, it’s imagining yourself as a little detective, and when these feelings come along, instead of having this aversion to them, because which is the natural feeling, is like, “Get this away from me, I don’t want to feel this pain.”
Or clinging to something that feels nice, which is that’s all what we’re drawn to. If we start to look at them as, “Oh, where is this coming from in my body? And if it had a shape, what would that shape look like?” And what you start to do is, you start to see it as something that isn’t threatening, and that isn’t overwhelming, something. And again, that perception allows you to get some distance from it, it starts to shift, like you said, from the right-hand side of the brain, over to the left, which just allows it to be a less of a kind of… what’s the word?
You go from a resistant feeling, to a more of an ‘allow it to be there’. So, that is a really important part of the mindfulness and meditation process. Just to develop the attitude of curiosity, it shifts a lot when you see it like that.
Ted Ryce: It’s a superpower, dammit!
Simone Tai: Yes!
Ted Ryce: You want to be a super person? Start meditating.
Simone Tai: Yeah, why not?
Ted Ryce: But it’s so true. If everybody did meditate, it would change the way people go through their lives, whether they react with anger, or emotion, or feel like if you’ve ever said, oh yeah, I just, I know what to do, but I just can’t help myself. Well, it gives you a super power over yourself, and you start to realize that, oh, well, this is where it’s coming from. You start to disidentify, I don’t even know if that’s a word, but you stop identifying with your emotions, and you put yourself back in the driver’s seat, while lowering your stress levels, and lengthening your telomeres, and changing your brain. It’s just really…
I think a couple of things to go on about here that I think are important are that, a lot of people will get turned off for meditation for two reasons, I think, two big reasons. Number one, people talk about meditation as a way to reduce stress. And it’s like, ah, that’s weak, because I already exercise, exercise reduces stress. But I never—and I’ve done all manner of crazy things, from martial arts, to just all types of wild, crazy experiences with exercise. And not one of those experiences doing exercise or sports or something exciting gave me the experience that meditation did.
The other thing that I think turns a lot of people off are the people who talk and about meditation in a way using that flowery language that doesn’t resonate with people. And that really annoys me, because if I wanted to get you to start meditating, I wouldn’t say, well, you have to experience you mantra and rotate your chakras. It’s like that doesn’t connect with your average, the people who need to meditate, it doesn’t connect with them.
So, could you talk about, do you have any thoughts about those two things? The idea that meditation is just a way to reduce stress, and why would I do that when I can just get a massage, or exercise and then the use, the types of terminology that some of the more spiritual people use about meditation, that turns a lot of people off.
Simone Tai: Yeah, of course, yeah, I totally get it, I’m from Liverpool, and where I grew up, I don’t think I have even heard of meditation, it was something that was very new to me when, it was only when I’ve already started practicing yoga, and did my yoga teacher training. And so, and that was when I was like mid to late 20s.
So, yes, there’s the flowery language, and the kind of the cliché, the slow talking, and all this. It can feel a bit cringy, and like I said, I get it, because I felt that myself. And it was really, I suppose, I guess it was the science side of stuff that was very appealing to me. And I think knowing companies like Google and Apple, and all these big, big companies have invested so much money into their own mindfulness programs. They incorporate this into their business because they know it’s going to make people happier, healthier, and most importantly for them, more productive.
So, they’ve taken the approach and gone into the mindfulness side of things, that is more science-based, it doesn’t necessarily, you know, you do not have to be spiritual to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is one of the most simple forms of meditation. So, if that does put you off, explore, and meditations like the mindfulness practices.
And the thing about the stress, yes, that is the number one thing we hear, it reduces stress, and it reduces stress, and with the chemical balance of the brain, and they’ve also measured, it increases your dopamine levels, and it can increase your serotonin.
So yes, exercise does that as well. But with meditation, it can give you so much more. For me, what I loved about things like the gratitude practice was that, and UCLA do a lot of research on this, is the whole rewiring of the brain, the whole when you’re fire together, wire together. So, they’ve actually seen a whole change in the chemistry of the brain when practicing a meditation, it’s called a gratitude meditation—and there’s other types as well that do the same thing.
But they can literally see the change in the makeup of the brain, because it’s starting to bring in more positive feelings, and more appreciative feelings of your memories. So, because of the negativity bias, and the mind loves to find problems, that’s like it’s one job, and it finds it so easy to do that. We have to work hard to fight against that, well approach, and we use the word fight. But we have to work hard to change that, and bring in more elements of joy or positivity, because it’s not naturally designed to do that, it wants to find the problems.
Dr. Rick Hanson, he also writes a lot of great books, I think he’s a neuroscientist—sorry if I got that wrong. But he’s a very smart man, and he knows all about the brain, and he wrote a book called The Buddhist Brain, and he is all about the—so, he’s done a lot, a lot of research on what happens to our bodies and our mids when we meditate.
So, if that’s something that you’re interested in, I would go to the likes of him, his books, and he does a great Ted talk as well, just breaking down what actually happens to us when we meditate. Sorry, was there another question? I can’t remember what you wanted.
Ted Ryce: No, no, no, that was amazing, yeah, that was amazing, I’ll have to look up that Ted talk. I read an article by him recently, Buddhist Brain.
Simone Tai: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, fantastic information, and definitely want to check out that book.
Simone Tai: Yeah, I also love—so, talking about Google, Chade-Meng Tan, who created the mindfulness program there, he has a book called Search Inside Yourself. Again, it has some really great, if you’re interested in using mindfulness in a more productive career place, this is a very, very brilliant book to help in that area.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, excellent. So, you’ve got a couple of great book recommendations there. I would say, don’t read about it first, read about it later. Just do it.
Simone Tai: Yes, yes.
Ted Ryce: Please.
Simone Tai: Yeah, yeah, that is number one. Our teachers, when we learned, when we did our 400-hour teacher training course. One of the first thing they said to us was, you know, we are here, we’re here to guide you, we’re here to point you in the direction, but dismiss everything you read, and dismiss everything you learn from us, because only when you sit and practice, and have your own experiences, that is when you really going to start learning.
So, sometimes education and books and everything, they’re useful, but they can actually stop us from really deeply having truth and gaining truth and genuine wisdom. So, always keep that in mind.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, thanks for following up there, because I have a podcast, and I tell people, stop listening to podcasts, and go do something.
Simone Tai: Yeah.
Ted Ryce: Please go do something, it’s about the experience, and so, yeah. I’m glad we’re on the same page there. Well, listen, Simone, I could easily talk with you for another hour about this. Today was just—people have been asking me about a meditation episode. I’m so happy with what we’ve done here, I think it’s shutting it down now, and then having you come back on and we can go a bit deeper into some other things that we didn’t have a chance to go into today, but I just want to thank you so much.
I’ve learned a lot today, and yeah, it’s so cool that we connected, and I didn’t know any of this about you, and here you are just such a knowledgeable meditation teacher, helping people with this, and thanks so much for coming on today and sharing your time and your wisdom with us.
Simone Tai: Oh, thank you Ted, it’s been a pleasure, and I’m still learning, I’m loving everything that I do in this new world, I’m learning so much about. So, it’s been a pleasure to talk about it with you, and catch up.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, so much fun. Well, listen, Simone has some information, some audios on meditation. If you want to learn more about what she does, especially if you’re in LA, and you want to stop by The Den, which is where she teaches meditation, or you want to learn more about what she’s up to. Go to www.simonetai.com. And you can find her on Instagram as well @simonethaimeditates. So, those are the two places, is there anywhere else someone should go to connect with you?
Simone Tai: Well, they’re my favorites at the moment, so, we’ll stick with those two.
Ted Ryce: Sounds good. Well, listen.
Simone Tai: And I’m definitely contactable by both those pieces, I’d love to hear from you.
Ted Ryce: Great, so, if you enjoy this conversation, give her a mention on Instagram, and make sure you tag me as well, if you’re Instagram savvy, and let us know that you enjoyed the episode and learn something. And most importantly, that you actually took action on what you heard.
Simone Tai: Yeah, go out there and do it!
Ted Ryce: So, awesome Simone, thanks so much, it was been great catching up, and I can’t wait till we do this again, I definitely want to do this again soon.
Simone Tai: I’d love to, thank you, Ted.
Ted Ryce: That wraps up another episode of the Legendary Life podcast. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, and I hope you learned a lot about meditation and its benefits and why it goes beyond just stress reduction or anything like that. Meditation is such a powerful game-changing method, technique, strategy way to take your life to the next level that you simply can’t get from taking supplements, exercise, nutrition.
Believe me, I’ve been in that for longer. I’ve been in to that for 20 years professionally. And I’ve tried so many things, and so many sports, but meditation, if we’re talking about stress reduction, if we’re talking—I was about to say something more spiritual, but I want to keep it high level and not get too deep here.
But I would even say, even at a spiritual level, it can help you. So, if you’ve been struggling with these things, and also on a scientific level, for those of you who are probably more comfortable with that type of talk. It can rewire your brain, this isn’t new age nonsense, pseudo-scientific nonsense, this has been proven by science. So, this is something that I want you to explore, and even if you have some trouble meditation, keep trying.
And also, one thing that Simone forgot to mention is that if you go to her website, www.simonetai.com, she has some beginner meditations there that you can listen to. And of course, if you want to connect with her on Instagram, @simonetaimeditates is her handle.
And of course, if you got a lot out of today’s episode, and you know someone could benefit, you know someone’s been trying to meditate, trying to wrap their head around meditation, trying to get into it, but really struggling with it and you feel like this could help them, please share this show with them so that they can benefit as well, sharing a show is the highest compliment you can pay me, and so much gratitude for you when you do that.
So, thank you so much for those of you who have been sharing the shows and tagging me on social media, I really, really appreciate that. And of course, if this is your first time listening, and if you want to hear more, make sure you hit that subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts, so that every time one of my episodes goes live, you’ll be the first to know.
So, that’s how I’ve got, that’s my big takeaway from today, I hope you learn a lot about meditation, I hope you take the challenge and start to practice it more. I wish you an amazing week, and I’ll speak to you soon.
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