#197 Today, my wonderful guest is Gary Gorrow. Gary is a Vedic Meditation teacher, a qualified Ayurvedic health coach, and the creator/director of SOMA, a renowned retreat in Byron Bay.
During our episode today, we talk about how in order to embark on a spiritual journey and benefit from it fully, we do not have to withdraw from society. Gary talks to us about how there is a way to integrate our spiritual journey with all of the things that our modern existences offer. We also discuss the roles of gurus and spiritual teachers, the importance of staying grounded, and how certain struggles in life can prove to be a blessing.
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About Gary: Gary Gorrow is a Vedic Meditation Teacher. A Qualified Ayurvedic Health Coach. Mindfulness Expert. The Creator/Director of SOMA, a world class retreat in Byron Bay. He’s also a highly sort after Consultant, High Performance Coach and Inspirational Speaker. With over 17 years experience, Gary has earned a reputation as one of the best in the business and is respected among his peers as a ‘teacher of teachers’. He has worked with thousands of people from all walks of life and his services are sought after by some of the world’s leading companies for his innovative meditation and mindfulness programs.
Gary is passionate about empowering people with techniques that enable them to re-engineer their lives inside and out. His approach synthesises the best of modern science and ancient consciousness-based practices. His students come from a range of backgrounds and include Google, GWS Giants, celebrities, CEO’s, health practitioners, athletes, lawyers, creatives, grandparents and children. He runs retreats, workshops and various training courses throughout Australia.
Key points with time stamp:
- Finding Peace & Harmony in A World of Chaos (00:00)
- Making a living out of teaching meditation (00:12)
- Balancing a spiritual path and a traditional western lifestyle (03:28)
- How can the wisdom passed down from gurus and teachers be defined? (05:12)
- Was the transition into spirituality smooth for Gary? (10:17)
- The importance of tuning into yourself (13:19)
- Our changing views on meditation and spirituality (14:43)
- Growth and evolution as a result of hardships (16:52)
- Daily practices to help ground you (21:15)
- Is life meant to be a struggle? (25:43)
- Gary’s journey with running retreats (32:20)
- “My suffering was one of my greatest blessings” (39:23)
- How connecting with nature can contribute positively to our mental state (42:16)
- The importance of having a morning routine (42:20)
- Some books that might help you on your spiritual journey (46:09)
- The importance of thinking critically (47:49)
Mentioned in this episode:
- Thom Knoles, a.k.a Maharashi Vyasanand
- Mark Divine
- Autobiography of a Yogi, 1946. A book by Paramahansa Yogananda
- The way of the peaceful warrior, 1980. A book by Dan Millman
- The Bhagavad Gita
- The Untethered Soul, 2007. A book by Michael Alan Singer
- The Surrender Experiment, 2015. A book by Michael Singer
Please note, this is an automated transcript so it is not 100% accurate.
There we go. Gary. Welcome to the podcast.
Thanks, guy. Thanks for having me.
Deeply appreciate it. It’s funny, we’re not that far apart. And here we are in technology. world we live in. I love to ask everyone on the show, starting out if, let’s say we were at an intimate dinner party, and you sat next to a complete stranger. And they got talking to you and ask you what you did for a living these days? What would you say?
I can never answer that question properly. I feel my answers are ridiculous. Would anyone take it seriously? So I teach meditation, but you hardly think that that’s a that’s a job or something that you can actually learn a living doing. But anyway, that’s what I predominantly do teach meditation.
Yeah, beautiful. What? What led you into that? Because like you say, predominantly, how do you make a living out of that in the first place? What’s your story? What got you into sort of leaning into this work? Have you always wanted to explore these concepts since a child because I find that quite often when I speak to guests, or was it a gradual breakdown to breakthrough kinds of things.
I think I was very always from a very young age, I was always very interested in things of a deeper nature. And I didn’t really have context for that I didn’t have any sort of informal teachers or instructors or anything like that. But my mum was very spiritual. And she fostered that, in in us boys, she had three sons. And yeah, I think I was always like, looking inward and try and understand like the nature of existence and, and myself and get in touch with something more profound than you know what we experienced just with our five senses. Yeah. So it’s very, very, very deep thinker as well. I think I thought too deeply as a kid that I got myself into a bit of a mess. I didn’t really know the answers to the questions I was proposing. And, and so I remember feeling a little bit afraid. And so I stopped asking those questions and forgot about spirituality for a little while. And then I guess, when I was probably, you know, in my late teens, I really began in earnest again to kind of connect spiritually with myself and and then I fell into a bit of bit of drama and grief, and I got in trouble. And then that kind of led me to really pick up a meditation practice and
right and what age was this when, when you started to get into the dramas in life?
When I was 21, is when I really started to change my life. I learned meditation, and then I had this huge shift in basically 21 Yeah, I remember feeling like I wished I’d learned 10 years earlier, but a lot of people think God that was so young. So I think I learned a formal practice. And I then came under the tutelage of a great master, a great teacher, and has, you know, studied a long time with him and spent a lot of time with him. And that really revolutionised my whole understanding of myself the world and how to fit in what the what I should be directing my time my energy towards so it was like 2021 was a massive turning point. I guess it’s been, yeah, a pretty special journey ever since then.
Yeah. Incredible. And what was your day job? Like we work in at the time? Or did you like go overseas to study under a guru or something? Like, what? How did you fit that into your western life? Some people just kind of pack the bags and disappear for a year or two.
Yeah. And I was planning to do that. That was my, that was my grand plan. And I was 20. I thought I need to, I need to go run me Teacher, I’m just gonna let go of my life. And I’m going to go renounce everything and live in India. And I’m going to do the classical, find a guru sit at the feet and just absorb whatever I need to absorb. So I was fully prepared to do that. And then, when I was 21, I actually met Tom Knowles, who also is known as Maharishi vs. Ananda. And he’s great, great, great master, but a householder, so he taught me that, you know, there is a way to integrate and not have to withdraw from society and you know, all of the things that modern existence offers. You don’t have to renounce that you can actually be fully integrated and be woven into everyday material existence yet be having a real spiritual experience within the midst of that, and that was kind of quite revolutionary for me because all the books that I was reading and the Masters I was interested in, were enunciates you know, lower classic people who had no interest in worldly sort of affairs or families and things like that, for the main part. They were more just directed towards their own personal spiritual quest and and you know, my teacher Tommy’s got 10 kids now they only had about seven or so. So yeah, yeah, little kids. And so he was the embodiment of now this is this is integrated household grew hosta living.
Yeah. Wow. Incredible. So when you there’s a couple of there’s a couple of directions that sparked in straight away is most people are not familiar with a guru or having a master and someone to speak to how, how do you define the wisdom of those teachers that are passed through into your life, because I do find it fascinating. And I’ve grappled with this in my own life, sometimes there’s a part of me that just thinks I just want to retreat from the world. Like it’s, it’s getting uglier and uglier. And I want to bury myself in the hills of Byron Bay grows and veg and just shut off from the world. But then there’s another aspect of me going, Wow, now more than ever, there needs to be a message, I’ve learned enough to know that I can pass on some wisdom in my life to generations that are coming through at the same time. So I kind of battle with this in my own in my own world as well, if you like, you know, so
yeah, definitely. And there is that idea that, you know, the yogi’s will withdraw. And you know, you there’s these, you know, these enlightened beings that are sitting far away from society, and people could argue with, they’re not making any contribution, like how are they standing on the frontlines opposing, you know, the rise of communist Australia or whatever it may be. But then you realise that these people are silently supporting creation, yeah, upholding the fabric of consciousness and emanating a lot of, of their own strength and support in a subtle manner. So I think everyone, everyone plays their role in different stages of life, you might feel drawn to, you know, dive right in, and then withdraw completely. And so I’ve gone through similar phases, but what I’ve learned to do is just trust, whatever the energy is calling from within me to participate in and sometimes it is to engage and other times it is just to work on self elevate myself create that influence within my immediate sphere of influence, and then, you know, that’s that, that can be powerful in itself. And if everyone did that, if everyone was, you know, nurturing, cultivating high consciousness, the world would never be able to descend into misery.
Yeah, but it’s very hard concept to wrap your mind around, if you haven’t thought about it in those terms, in any shape, or form, you know, like, I can only go for my own journey because like, you know, I was, it’s, it was just my life as a Welsh rugby player, you know, drinking beer, and not even seeing a yoga, not even seen a yoga studio in Wales, at the time growing up, and like, I, I never went to church, I never had religion, I never had any, any kind of framework or anything, I was kind of just left to my own devices. And slowly, I guess my heart took me to the teachings and wisdom of the very things that you talk about, but it took me a long time to get there. And then, you know, I got smacked over the head. And it’s like, Oh, my God, like, yeah, what’s what’s going on? You know, where we’re listening to you, like you, you think quite incredible that, to me, in my mind, you were 21 Looking at this work is just blows my mind, honestly, you know, when I when I only have my own lens to compare it to?
Yeah, well, I think what you suffered from was a cultural thing where we don’t have a structure which the the next generation can grey and gain enlightenment or can accelerate their personal development or the development of their mind and understanding. Because basically, you know, we get engendered into a philosophy and a belief system. And this is why like the Vedic culture, the Indian culture is like, so exquisite, because it has this deep understanding that there’s this more profound element to life, that most other cultures, you know, aren’t really tapping into. Not only, you know, they have spiritual foundations, but they have all these systems and, you know, Ways and Means and rituals to help others become like devotees of that element of life. You know, they want to call it something like a spiritual devotion. And it seems like that has been corrupted over time. But from my experience with the Vedic knowledge is it’s still got its purity intact. And that’s the role of a guru to act as like someone that is a catalyst for growth change to accelerate their personal evolution, because it’s like someone else can do it on their own. But could you imagine trying to learn you know, the English language or learn about maths or discover you know, that what are the elements that exist in nature’s way easier if someone just teaches you that? You know, so this idea of our schooling systems the same that we have these People who have knowledge, people who don’t have that knowledge, and then they rapidly acquire it through an education system. So that’s the role of a guru to create, I guess a mental and physical and spiritual unfolding,
which can be terrifying, in some respects, you know, I, again, just referring to my journey, when, when there was my identity started breaking down, even when I was talking to you off air about how I sold out of my company, like that was a huge transition and started to trust something greater than myself. And I’m actually following my inner compass now, and not actually what the outside world is, I guess perceiving dictate to me on who I should be, and how I should present myself and in that space, it’s like, you’re like this fragile sprout, you know, coming through, and it’s and so I can see whether the teachings and the masters and people like, obviously, I had my own support when when coming through that, that transition myself, when you were 21. Did it feel like that for you? Or was it because you had a foundation with your, with your mother thing? Like you said, she was very spiritual that allowed you to have a smooth transition? Did you work in fashion? Did I hear that?
Yeah, I used to, I worked in, in television, in film, and also had, I had a fashion label as well. So I was I was working freelance and juggling a lot of different things. And I was getting pretty, you know, pretty burned out, pretty stressed out. And that’s kind of what led me led me on my quest to, to pick up a meditation practice, because I realised that was not headed in the right direction, and wasn’t feeling good to be in my skin.
And then what point did you decide to have you stepped away from all that? Or do you still entrepreneurially have multiple businesses and things going on? Or you just like, kind of,
yeah, I guess like, my mom, she, she worked in welfare. And she was very selfless. And she was very much into spirituality and wisdom and living a very conscious life and making a contribution. My dad was a real entrepreneur, and he was very, I guess, interested in forging his own path, not conforming to society. And so I’ve taken on both of those, I guess, ways of approaching life. So I think I’ve got this creative entrepreneurial side, but also got this deep devotion to, you know, higher consciousness. So I think my life tends to reflect that now. Like, I’ve got a retreat, and I’m quite, quite good at integrating the both needs of life, the physical material and the spiritual aspect, or whatever you’d like to refer to it as, like creating that harmony and balance. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, I run a retreat, and I do a lot of coaching work, personal development work with people, you know, work with football teams, or work with kids. I do a lot of work of different, you know, different kinds, but mostly, you could say it’s, it’s psychological.
Yeah, fair enough. And yeah, yeah, cuz there’s always a sort of crap I’ll never forget interview and I can’t remember who it was on there. And he said, yeah, it because most people I’m talking to, in similar fields to you are in the health space and everything. And he said, Yeah, all this wellness is making me sick. You know, whether he was just like pushing, pushing, pushing. And, like, there’s definitely a subtle art to finding that balance isn’t there, you know, it’s easy to stray,
you got to have a good inner compass, like you were talking about before. That’s the that’s the only way I can do what I do is just really practising deep listening, tuning into myself, and where the energy of life is kind of assuring me to go and I never override that. And so that’s how I’ve been able to sustain you know, the high level of what I do and the integrity of what I do, because everything can be corrupted. We know power corrupts money corrupts all these things corrupt. So the same thing, when you’re someone who’s in a position where other people look to you for something, it would be very easy to manipulate or take advantage of that. So I make sure that that I’m always just in integrity am I representing this? This tradition, this lineage which I’m part of, and my playing my role and most generally supporting people? I am I in Integrity and Authenticity, each edge each you know, each day in my life, and that’s the most important thing to me.
Ya know, beautiful, beautiful. Why did what do you find where people out when they come to see you? Like, because it seems to be quite a bit like you said, football teams, that you work with football teams, but what would you be on a football team to say somebody that’s just Burning out, struggling, you know,
like, yeah, I guess a mixed bag. When I first started teaching, there was stress was the huge feature. Okay. And, you know, people would come because they’re struggling with stress, anxiety or insomnia or they’re feeling, you know, really down and out, or they’re professional burnout, whatever it may be. And now I’m like, over time, I’ve noticed that there’s an extension happening, like people that go growing increasingly curious about, is there more to life? How do I tap into, you know, a deeper part of myself? How do I really get to know who I am? How do I bring more meaning significance, purpose to existence, and I think there’s, you know, there’s been this enormous proliferation and growth and awareness around meditation itself. And I think Mastering the Art has been something that people struggle with, but the awareness is there. And I feel there’s just like a longing because the world is changing dramatically. When I learned to meditate, you couldn’t really talk publicly about it without being shamed or laughed at and you know, something that you couldn’t really share with even your close friends, because I think you’ve gone off the rails, whereas now it’s so different. And there is like, this amazing consciousness revolution happening, where there’s this so much enthusiasm for people doing the inner work and exploring different aspects of themselves in life and all the different kind of layers of truth and getting in touch with what is what is reality. Whereas, you know, fulfilment, how do I remain whole and happy in this world that seems you know, obsessed with stuff. And so I think there’s a, like a big quest for deeper understanding. And there’s a hell of a lot of ignorance on the planet, which there always has been, but I feel as this this rise in his interest to grow and evolve for people
massively and not that I’m expecting you to solve the world’s problems in a podcast or anything, but what do you make of the last, you know, 18 months, two years of what’s been happening? What’s your take on it? Because that’s actually how I discovered you believe it or not my dear friend Fiona Chadwick. I don’t know if you know, Fiona, but she shared a video of you speaking on a Facebook Live when everything was like, wow, this guy talks about sense . And then I started following you from that day forward.
Yeah. Here. Yeah, that’s a tough one. Like, you know, I think I would start with just saying that there is this thing called life, there is this power, this sacred force. And we’re all in it’s in its embrace. You know, we come into this planet, we come into these bodies, and we start to participate in this thing called human existence. And this does seem to be a deeper power, which is conducting the flow of all things. And so as a human being, you know, sometimes you can think, Well, why is this happening, and this isn’t fair, and this is wrong. And so I always like to come back to well, this is what life is doing. And we have to trust life has intelligence, and wisdom, and intent and purpose, as part of its nature, or life is just chaotic, and random, and nothing really makes sense. And we better, just like, you know, somehow inoculate ourselves against the chaos. Or we can realise the chaos has a purpose. The chaos is there to generate growth and awakening, because how does anyone ever really grow or evolve, if it’s not for the weight of like pressure and suffering, like, sufferings an amazing teacher, one of the best. And I think it’s one of the the teachers that always creates movement. Because no one tends to grow or make changes when they’re comfortable. So people who have like a really deep connection with their internal like energies, we’ll know when there’s a shift in that, and then they’ll start to adjust. But a lot of people aren’t really in touch with that they’re more kind of outwardly directed. So meanwhile, while the internal energies are saying, you know, make change, make change, make change, and they don’t, then the world starts say, Well, we’re going to have to start to be the voice for that. And so external life can start to be challenging and fall apart and do all those sorts of things. And then you get to a point where, okay, I’ve got to, I got to do something I have to act, because now I’ve got a sore back, or I’ve got a disease or my marriage is falling apart or whatever it may be. But no marriage falls apart like that, or no one gets injured, generally, just like that. There’s all these precursors that we’re not paying attention to. So I feel that you know, as a collective, we’re going through like, a massive initiation into, I think, a higher truth or a deeper understanding. And I have to say that I have my opinions, personal opinions about what’s going on. And I’m happy to share those but I I was very disheartened at various points along the way thinking what is wrong with people? Can they not see like, the reality before their very eyes was everyone like, so full of fear and this and that, and, and then I was looking at what the government was doing and thinking, wow, I’m really losing faith in this great country of mine. And humans can be so gullible sometimes and so easily directed just with like a headline, or, you know, something, some announcements. And so what I’ve seen in more recent weeks is this massive uprising of people actually starting to use their own discriminatory logic discernments and critical thinking, which seems so absent. At the beginning, you know, like, Well, okay, so sometimes we just have to keep the camera rolling. And from the darkness can come goodness can come at these huge shifts. And so I feel like what humanity is going through what make full sense until we’re a little bit further down the road, and then we can reflect back and go, Okay, this is what was born of that. And it could go either way, certainly, for this. It’s certainly a lot of psychological warfare happenings is
yes, it’s an incredibly unique time, isn’t it? It’s an incredible time. You know, again, you’ve sparked a couple of thoughts within all that, because I’ve noticed in myself, like, like you say, we talk about the collective energy, there’s, there’s been moments when the collective energy of fear is in palpable, like, there’s no escaping it, and you’re like, Oh, my God, this feels absolutely suffocating. You know, and I’m curious to know, because what are you? And I think this will be really beneficial for listeners, you know, how do you bring in a snapshot of how do you manage that in your personal life, because we’re all fallible, we can all get fall from grace daily, you know, what I mean? And, like, what have been some of your key, I guess, rituals or things in your life that allow you to stand in your own truth, while chaos is happening externally?
Yeah, for me, it’s having a daily practice that that allows you to transcend. And by that, I mean, to transcend means to move or go beyond. So we can understand that, most of the time, people are living in their thought forms, you know, their mind tends to govern and absorb their energy, their focus. And so I meditate every each and every day, a couple of times, morning, and, you know, evening. And so that allows me to withdraw myself and it lets my body defrag and release whatever friction or tension or artefacts of life might have, you know, been acquired. And so I can, I can clear myself in body and mind every day. So keep my spirits strong and keep myself really anchored and grounded in myself. So it means that fear and confusion and uncertainty and just the weight of you know, life, it doesn’t get embedded and it doesn’t take over. So for me like that is one of my real critical, critical things. And I’ve done that ever since I was 21. And I think I’ve benefited massively just from having that daily daily regimen, daily routine and the other things that I do, just pay attention to life. That’s it pay attention to inner and outer life, and just really doing all I can to remain present in the moment and attune to what’s what’s alive and awake and moving in me and also, what’s happening outside. So I’m always trying to harmonise those two worlds and just monitoring myself moment to moment what’s happening now, where am I at? And just where am I at mentally with my awareness and how’s my body has my breathing, am I on the path or off the path? So I kind of feel like there’s like a tightrope that we walk in as maybe maybe it’s not as narrow as a tightrope walker. But it feels like there’s this dharmic path. And when we’re really living in a way that our individuality is intended to be living, we feel a sense of grace, a feeling of lightness, a feeling of purpose and belonging. And then when we deviate from me, I noticed I feel a little bit off and I feel a little bit uncomfortable in the cues can be just really subtle, but the more I deviate the more those keys get heavier. So I’m always just navigating and just checking here where am I at how are we tracking? Am I doing this? Well I’m on on course is this right? Should I you know, I just letting just saying stay in touch with that guidance. And just really moment to moment. Just just staying in harmony?
Yeah. Ya know, beautiful. I always remember my old mentor used to say to me be he always had a guide like through meditation is what you do with your eyes open during the day. Be present. Yeah, you know, check in and And there’s so many distractions now in life like, no wonder, we don’t know ourselves.
And I feel like I’m pretty lucky that I’ve got a, you know, I’ve got a forester on my property. And I’m just communing with that and getting to know you know, the natural world more and more and more. And that’s a real incredible source of enlightenment for me is that that world is just so deep, so present in all different energies that you experience when you’re there. And just the wonder, the wonder of being in the natural world is something that I’m finding deeper and deeper affection for? Yeah. Yeah.
I ask you a deep question for a moment. But do you think life is meant to be a struggle? Or do you feel life is meant to be of joy, bliss, and harmony, or somewhere in between? I’m curious to know, because I ponder this myself, I never forget, going to a weekend workshop. And there was a guru that had flown in into town. And I’d never been in a guru was quite funny, Gary, because I was the only one I was in Sydney and my cross Vicki missing, and everyone was dressed in all the white gear and everything. And I felt like a real anomaly. But I really connected with this guy. And the whole weekend, he kept cracking jokes, and he was a joy to be around like he truly was. And completely changed my perception of, of what I didn’t know anyway, you know what I mean? Cuz you make a belief system. So coming away from that, I was like, wow, that’s completely that sort of challenged my old paradigm. But anyway, what are your thoughts?
Yeah, I think all gurus are different. Some have this incredible lightness of heart. And others can be because everyone has a different personality. And just because someone gains enlightened doesn’t mean their personality disappears. You know, so we find that generally, there is a lightness of heart and a playfulness, to realise masters because they’ve broken through the illusion that life is, you know, this big, serious ordeal. They realise it’s a play of consciousness, and they’re, you know, in the world, but really not in this world. You know, this world is a dance to that to the senses and to the mind, and so they can be more more lighthearted and humanists and playful in it. So because life is regarded as being like a Leela in the Vedic food, like convenes a sport or a game. Okay, Lila, yeah, yeah. Lila. Yeah. So it’s interesting. So we’re all players, and we’re all playing this sport. And some people are so caught up in the, in the game that they forget they’re playing a game and that they should be having fun. So I think like Nancy answer your question, I think life is is joy and struggle. And it depends on which level of life you’re you’re living from. So if you find life has three different layers to it, there’s this superficial this there’s the surface of life, where there’s all the matter and the dance of all the different forms. And then you have beneath that there’s an energetic field. And then beneath that there’s a field of infinite, pure unboundedness. What’s not known is in Taoism, as the Tao in Vedic sciences, as Brahman, or, you know up my role, or this pure field, without content. So when you’re in touch with that field, you’re in a state of bliss. But if you’re disconnected from that field, and you’re living on the surface of life, life is very mercurial because we have night and day light and dark birth and death that so that realm of life is full of contrast. And I feel that one of the great mechanisms that creation uses to get people to go into that field of the Void is to make life unbearable, uncomfortable and difficult, because it causes us to turn inward and ask deeper questions and look for answers and promote the change that we need in order to not suffer anymore. So suffering is we mentioned in the very unique teaching tool, and it triggers us to seek a way beyond suffering and then we start to seek out God for some people that word is very evocative, but we start to seek out something which is, you know, is vast and powerful and is supreme we and we, we look more to the source of life. And we’re in touch with the source the the, the, the quality of that that it brings is this feeling of comfort, joyfulness ease, trust, inner stability and Then I think when you’re grounded in that, then you can enjoy the play and you can enjoy the waves of life. And so it’s really about being anchored in your inner being being anchored in that field. And then that brings this, this joyfulness or it brings some this capacity to, to enjoy the waves of life. Because often we think I don’t want life’s not wildlife doing this, this is not fair or fun, or I want something other than this. But the surface of life isn’t designed to be like that. It’s never meant to be flat, like a mirror. Like the ocean just flat and all that and non activity because that’s not life on that Eclipse Express level. Life on the Express level is change is fluctuation is dynamic. And we look at it another way. It’s impermanent, like nothing lasts or remains on that level of life, as it is for very long, whether it be someone’s health, or fame, or wealth, or whatever it may be. There’s, there’s there’s a time limit to all of that. And even like someone I feel good today, well, okay, let’s see how you feel tomorrow by the same amount of change, because that’s what the physical body’s always doing. But there’s something that remains that’s permanent, and that it has lots of different names. And it’s that that we need to get in touch with, and that’s the joy of doing that is the reward for doing that is this feeling of wholeness and joyfulness?
Yeah, no beautiful explanation? You know, I remember interviewing Mark Devine, I’m not sure if you’re not familiar with him. He’s an ex Navy Seal, very conscious, made incredible human being like, and, you know, and we were talking about Iran, you know, and, I think, viewed many times, but he summed up that, you know, suffering is a form of separation, you know, and I always think about that, and I never really understood it. But when I think about, you know, like, I always say source energy now, you know, what, what gives rise to the human? The more stray from that, the more I normally end up in my protective ego itself. And, yeah, and that’s when the second judgments and stories come in, you know, yeah, exactly. Yeah. I’m curious to know, on your journey, why did you decide to then lean into retreats, and, you know, you’ve, you’ve gone and set up a retreat centre, I don’t know if the timing was perfect with with everything that happened in the world, but what’s been your journey there?
Yeah, I started to teach meditation was working, you know, one to one with people and then working with groups. And then it was, I’ve done many retreats during, during my time with my teacher and, and it just felt like a natural progression. So I started running retreats, and they were enormously popular. And I started doing retreats locally in Australia, and then I started to do them abroad, mostly in Bali. And you just realise, when you can capture someone and hold them in a space and immerse them in, in a, in a process and experience, the change you get is extraordinary. Because like peppering in practice, midst all of the other demands of life, it’s like the spiritual practice will take you forward three steps and then life will sort of take you back to so the the momentum that you get is stifled somewhat, whereas when you do it retreat, it’s a massive acceleration. And so I love holding that space challenging people and watching the transformation they go through and, you know, giving them techniques which are, you know, very, very powerful and effective, and letting them engage them for you know, many many days whether it be five days, seven days, Bali itself was a seven day retreat. So I think you can you know, I’m always wanting to help people as much as I possibly can. And when you look at what you can do with some one in like an hour consoles, or you know, over the course of a half day or whatever it may be you can you can do a lot but there’s so much more you can achieve when you’re like okay, cool, you’re captive, you’re here you come, you know, in with deep intention, and here are the techniques and let’s just practice them day in day out day in day out. So for me that was kind of the pinnacle for me like that’s the what I can imagine is the most high end sustainable and achievable thing for people because you couldn’t you can always take someone away for three months or six months or whatever it may be. But you can do these you know these week long intensive so you know, reasonably long intensive that allows them to then take that back to their life and feel the effects and then do a daily practice. to support its continued unfolding. So retreats are just like a wonderful way. It’s like, it’s like being a DJ and having all these human beings to, you know, to help, you know, the trigger to have different experiences. Yeah, exactly.
Yeah, there’s, there’s something about taking oneself out of your current environment that’s constantly reaffirming who you think you are. And then when you put them in a completely different environment with completely different people, in that in itself can be transformative, let alone the practices that come with.
Yeah, that’s true. That’s so true. And I mean, this place has a lot of power, just that the energy itself, and then all of the techniques that you practice here, and, and like you said, sometimes just not doing the things that you always do, allows time for reflection and revelation to happen. And also just letting go of bad habits. I remember one guy came in to Bali retreat, and he said, Gary, if only the only thing I got here was just no phone, no emails, and no demands or pressure from all my everyday life. So that would be enough, he said, but I also got all these other stuff, but then just eating good food, and going to bed on time. So that was like, that would be powerful enough. And that wasn’t even really part of the programme at all. It was just something that happens, of course, you eat good food, and you you know, you’re rising the right times and going to bed at the right times.
Yeah, yeah. Now fantastic. And what inspired you then to do your own retreat centre itself? You know, because it’d be I guess it’d be kind of easy to continue to, you know, hire other places and venues. And, yeah, you’ve, you’ve created something very special. Here up in Byron Bay, what was the rationale behind that?
Yeah, the motivation was just, I’d always had this thing inside me saying, you know, you’ll, you’ll have a retreat someday. And so for years, I’ve been dreaming about it and collecting different things and include things I would include when one day I would have one. So I always knew that it was some some way there. And I think it was born of a few different needs. One that there is a need for this work on the planet, there is a need for you know, the space we’ve created. And I think it’s, you know, there’s, we need a lot of these in the world. But I didn’t find any that I really liked. And that we’re we’re set up, right, a lot of things are created, and then someone buys them goes, Okay, we’ll just have to, like, you know, make this place work. So, you know, you don’t find anything that was like a blank canvas that had a retreat in mind. And, and a retreat that’s appealing as well, because a lot of places that I’ve sort of heard about, I wouldn’t go to them personally, because they don’t match my sense of like aesthetic, that kind of have programmes that I feel are like anchored in, in ancient lineage and culture and a deeply like authentic and spiritually efficacious. So I kind of felt like there wasn’t really much out there that I was drawn to, or impressed by. So I just do it myself, and me and my brother. And, you know, he created the look of the place and he was instrumental and, and then one of my clients who’s also one of my best friends, he’s my, you know, my partner on summer. And so it just seemed like life didn’t really I just was, you know, the midwife helping to bring it into the world.
Fair enough. Yeah, no, it’s a hell of achievement, mate. I really congratulations on what you’re doing. It’s, it’s incredible. It’s funny, because I watched nine perfect strangers when my wife and I actually had no idea. It was filmed at Soma. And then somebody told me, it was like, Oh, I had a grand tour of your of your place, because I just wanted to watch it. Because it was the retreat industry. And I was curious to see how it was portrayed. And, and what came out of it. But yeah, I find it fascinating.
Yeah, yeah, we were. Yeah, we’re very fortunate that to have those guys here. And the timing as well, because it was just at the start of COVID. We weren’t running much for wouldn’t have been running many retreats.
But everything’s starting to open up for you now. There.
Yeah, yeah, we’re back rolling again. Which is good. Yeah.
Fantastic. Fantastic. Gary. Um, I asked a few questions on the show that asked every week and I’m always curious to know what comes out of them. But what I like to ask people is what’s been a low point in your life that you can reflect upon later, that’s been a blessing. What springs to mind?
Yeah, when I was 21. Yeah. burned out, stressed out last. Didn’t know didn’t know how to fix things. And that’s when Yeah, I found the practice in the path and that changed everything and I see that That’s kind of like why life put me there. Because that was exactly exactly that the shift I needed to make, you know, needed to turn a corner and I wouldn’t have been able to do that unless I struggled, like majorly. So I feel that that was like one of the greatest blessings, you know that that that’s suffering that I endured.
Yeah, yeah. Beautiful. What is your morning routine look like?
It varies because I’ve got a couple of kids and they’re with but they move between me and my mum, their mum. So it varies, but I generally you know, wake up early I do the Ayurvedic routine, often scrape my tongue brush my teeth, having cleansing drink of water, will often do I be younger, which is the oil massage, and then I’ll do a long meditation, and then generally eat something healthy and start my day. If the surfs, great, then I upright, prioritise that and I’ll go and surf and so that’s an I’ll meditate on the beach or whatever it may be. So I tried to kind of keep my life moving, I don’t like to be sort of locked in. But meditation is always there. That’s definitely like a non negotiable. It’s something that I always, always do each and every day. And other times I’ll do you know, breath work and clear sets and, and I try to spend a portion of my day just in Holy Communion, you know, just getting in touch with the natural world, because, you know, my land is very, very beautiful and Monica 22 acres. So I tried to make sure that I tap in and just get in touch with the land what’s happening here and developing, you know, continuing to develop that relationship. And when people come to the retreat, they realised man this land is, is very sacred land. So, as as the present custodian, I feel like I’ve got a responsibility to, to, to nurture and commune with it and just stay in touch each day.
Yeah, beautiful. It is a pretty special part of the world. I’ve been up here about seven years, I think and I can’t imagine myself going anywhere else. It’s kind of got that hold on me.
Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Yeah. Do you have you served your whole life just Yeah, yeah. Wow. I am yeah, it’s it’s one thing I grew up not near the not really able to swim not near the ocean. Nothing you know, culturally, it just wasn’t it’s too cold in Wales. But yeah, it’s been a big part of my life these days. Yeah, I do get a slight bit of envy when I hear people that grew up surfing in that now like wow
I think that’s one of the greatest blessings to be born a surfer incredible
massively massively. Most people I know that surfer pretty chilled out as well they kind of you know, they live more in the moment
it’s a beautiful culture Yeah, it’s there’s so much to be said for it because you know, you you connecting with the ocean, which is beautiful. And all the animals in the ocean, the dolphins, the Turtles, I mean, a couple of sharks every now and again. And it is it can be a spiritual practice, because surfing, you know, you have to really harmonise yourself you have to like read a wave, you have to learn flow, and you have to learn movement and how to adapt. And when you go into the surf, it can be like peak hour traffic, there’s a lot of other people wanting to catch the waves and it can turn into a real shit show. And you know, the, the energy when there’s conflict in the water just spoils the experience. So as surfers, you have to learn to like read other people and you also can be a really soulful pursuit. And often there’ll be great ways with a lot of people out of the crappy ways with no one and most people if they’re honest, they’ll say, I prefer to surf the crap waves. Just because when there’s a lot of people it taints the experience it loses its like its its ease, its grace, its pleasure. And it’s you know that just the the naturalness of becomes like a frenzy. Surface you know, in there, you know, most surfers are really soulful, they want to have like a, you know, a really unifying experience when they get into the ocean. It’s where you leave the world behind you go and you play and you have fun. So I feel it’s like, how I have the most fun and exercise at the same time. Hmm. That’s incredible. Like, because it’s not always those two things united. Ya know, the most pleasure pleasurable thing is the most healthful thing.
It’s funny you say all that because reflecting on my journey of learning to serve, like I’ve got a longboard now and I can hop up and write across a web nothing exactly flash, but, you know, it’s the it’s one of the few things that make me feel like a kid. You know, when I when I catch that wave, and I light up and And this but it’s been hugely challenging like you say overcoming the people and the crowds and it really makes me think about myself and how I’m behaving and, and where my confidence lies and like you say, having to deal and work with other people and, and not getting caught up in and all that, you know, I think that was the biggest challenge for me not actually learning to surf but overcoming the crowds and working with people. When you’re out there was something you just didn’t expect.
Yeah, that’s the that’s the biggest problem with surfing is just that there’s a you know, there’s a finite number of waves that come through and a lot of people in the water and and so it does at times feel like you’re having to fight and hustle for waves and it takes completely away from the experience for me anyway. Yeah, yeah. It’s just part of it. So you just go That’s why surfers go on the quest and they travelled to the far reaches of the earth, you know, travel for miles and miles and miles getting multiple planes and boats and cars and then like, okay, here I am on this outer, you know, reef and surfing these waves in the middle of nowhere. It’s such a wild pursuit are very adventurous people.
Yeah, for sure. For sure. Fantastic. Yeah. What is the been a book that’s made an impact on your life?
There’s been a lot of them. It has been a ton of them. I guess the first one autobiography yogi was was certainly a major influence. I think why have the peaceful warrior came next? These were real game changers for me when I was younger. And then yeah, the Bhagavad Gita is is a is a beautiful work. That there’s there’s been a lot. I’ve recently enjoyed the Untethered Soul. I thought that was really beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. And also, yeah, Michael singer. And then the surrender experiment, is kind of very much his his his journey, like I would gone through summer and everything that transpired to make that happen. And I was hearing his journal. Oh, my God, there’s so many parallels, of course, yeah. And what really struck me was just how he was just practising surrendering to life. And that’s kind of my philosophy, as I was mentioning earlier, just, you know, what’s happening in me what’s happening outside of me and what, what’s life, cueing me to do? And so just mastering that, that dialogue, mastering that ability to listen. So I think those books are really that really reinforce that for people. Yeah, and there’s, there’s, I think I’m very Vedic in what books touched me. So it’s mostly things to do with the with the ancient wisdom.
Yeah, fair enough. No, there’s anyone listening to this, that will be in the show notes as well. So people can dive back if they want to check them out. Yeah. Great read. And last question. With everything we’ve covered today, which has been quite a lot, actually. What would you like to leave the listeners to ponder on?
I would like people, to learn to think critically, would be would be one thing, especially at this time. That would be my big thing. Because that’s the reason people end up in trouble. When they lose their powers of discernment, the ability to critically think, to question things. You know, and to trust their own innate wisdom, and not allow themselves to be dictated to by a power outside of themselves. Yeah, and if you believe in something stand stand for it.
Fantastic. If people want to find out more about you, Gary, where can we send them?
They could, I guess, follow me on Instagram, Gary Goro. Or follow Salma, which also on Instagram. So some adopt Byron. That’s probably the best places to get in touch. And they even on the summer website, some a bar and Comdata you join the newsletter, they can also come and learn to meditate with me or do any other retreats at Soma. So that would that would be the best space to interact.
Fantastic. And do you have a podcast as well?
Yeah, the Soma Collective podcast. Yeah,
yeah, we’ll stick that in the show notes as well. Thank you, Gary, thank you so much for giving me your time and coming on the show today. I thought I’d bring glued mate it’s been fantastic and we there’s so many things I didn’t even touch on it just organically went in its own direction. But I appreciate you sharing your wisdom for everyone. All of us here today and everything that you do in the world.
Thank you too man, you’re Yeah appreciate it Thanks for Thanks for inviting me on the show.
you’re welcome Gary. Thank you.