#3 This week I bring you Jeff Lieberman. I absolutely loved this episode and we go down multiple rabbit holes.
We cover his journey overcoming depression, looking within and what science and learning quantum mechanics taught him about spirituality.
About Jeff: Having finished four degrees at MIT (Physics, Math, Mech. Eng., Media Arts + Sciences) and a successful TV show called ‘Time Warp’ on the Discovery Channel, Jeff thought he had it all.
Yet he found himself very depressed and went looking for answers. In this episode we discuss what he found and how science and spirituality crossover.
Links & Resources For Jeff Lieberman:
Guy: Hi, I’m Guy Lawrence and you are listening to the Guy Lawrence podcast. If you’re enjoying this content and you want to find out more and join me and come further down the rabbit hole, make sure you head back to the guylawrence.com.au. Awesome guys. Enjoy the show!
Guy: Jeff. Welcome to the show, mate. Thanks for coming on.
Jeff: Yeah, thanks for having me again. It’s great to be here.,
Guy: Mate! It’s a pleasure mate. I got a I got to admit as well. I was looking at a bit of your bio on your website and I was like, Oh, this dude’s come with a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff,
Jeff: I got to change the bio.
Guy: So I’m intrigued to hear this answer because I’ve been, it’s a regular question of mine on the show for quite some time. And that was, if you were in a cocktail party and a stranger came up to you and asked you what you did for a living, how would you answer it?
Jeff: And right now I would just probably say, I’m an artist, it’s the easiest, simple way to start a conversation. And usually artists leads to more things. There’s, you know, there’s other things I could say like that I study such and such, and that usually leads to less curiosity than artists.
Guy: So, and then it starts from there. Well look mate, like I do with all the guests on the show, um, would you mind just taking us through a little condensed version of your backstory because, I was fascinated as well. Cause I, I watched your TEDx talk on science and spirituality and I just, I was like, that’s Spall and that’s my mind, like, you know, it was so amazing how you broke it down and made us look at some of the bigger questions that we kind of aware, but we’re not aware we think about, but we don’t think about, you know, I loved it. And so I was curious like, who’s the Jeff behind that? Like what led you up, I guess to that point, let’s start with that.
Jeff: Yeah. You are one minute or a hundred minute version.
Guy: highlight real for sure.
Jeff: Yeah. Okay. So first 20 years of my life, we’re
Jeff: doing art and doing science and math. We live in kind of two separate lives. And when I got to MIT, I started working on math and physics, but intersecting those with art as I worked on robotics. And so those kinds of worlds started to fuse together in ways I wasn’t expecting that I could actually have all the aspects of my life in the same orientation. And that led me to start making art. That was about perception, um, slow motion, art, optical, illusion, art that leverages the fact that your eyes have certain ranges of their perception. And you can actually make things that exist outside of those ranges. And then your eyes will see something that just is impossible in the universe that you know, um, so as I got into doing that, I ended up doing a TV show called time warp on discovery channel. That was all about revealing the slow motion world.
Jeff: This was before everyone had a slow motion camera in their pocket. So it was about 10 years ago. Um, and right around that time that the show ended that was some of the most stressful time in my life. And not in the way that maybe most people experienced it was specifically because I had, you know, I had the job I wanted, I had the girlfriend a good place. People would recognize me on the street. I had social esteem, you know, I had all these, all these things and felt completely unsatisfied. And most people don’t get that luxury to really notice that the things outside are not ever gonna fill that internal hole of lack, that there’s something more fundamental there. Um, and so in some way, I got really lucky to find out for sure that the externals were not gonna ever do it for me.
Jeff: And that really was a turning point in my life. I, you know, I really lost all the external motivation to do anything for a couple of years and started just reading and, you know, eventually, you know, coming from a really deeply scientific place, I wasn’t even really open to meditation until I read neuroscientists talking about meditation. And then I said, okay, maybe these guys are saying something that’s valid in my time. And I can see how my thoughts are causing my own discontent. And over the next couple of years there, I just got deeper and deeper into meditative practice and into understanding consciousness evolution. And the way that our mind is, is just the way that it happens to be in 2018. And it wasn’t anything like this 10,000 years ago, and it’s not going to be anything like this 10,000 years from now, but we just kind of take for granted that as soon as you’re an adult, you’re conscious, you just learn new content, but your consciousness itself doesn’t change.
Jeff: Um, and the people that are from the meditative traditions for the last thousands of years, they very clearly talk about all these other ways that it can change through further attention. Um, and that really just started to completely change my worldview and forced me to relax a lot of the things I knew for sure, uh, about physics. And that really started the path on where I’m at now, where I spend a lot more of my attention on, on the limits of consciousness and really understanding human potential and where, where the human mind could be.
Guy: Yeah, got it. Well, it’s interesting you say that because I’ve pretty much been through the same journey with my company and 180 nutrition. Cause I actually started the company. I was 30 grand in debt. I had a failed business and then I just did something from heart and I just kind of like everything. It was almost like my purpose and my passion and everything kind of aligned up for some reason. I can’t even explain it mate. And then I just kind of went for it without the not outcome oriented goal. But then I kind of, all of a sudden felt new success. You know, within three years we would achieve in business awards, we would have national media. Right. And I had, my life had dramatically changed next. I went to with and amazing people on podcasts, but there was always this thing that I’m like, what is it what’s missing? Because as things grew, there was still an unfulfilled need within, you know, it has it’s bizarre. So, so I guess my question from that for you, like how did, was it like a rock bottom for you? Like, was it like a depression or a hollowness or was it just kind of, Oh, you know, I’m not quite satisfied. I’m going to start reading some books and carry on with my life.
Jeff: Yeah. Well there were two periods in my life that there was very clear depression and one of them is in the, you know, late high school years, um, where I had plenty of suicidal thoughts. Um, not, not really. It was really interesting, you know, like life was so good in so many ways, but that like, that whole was also so unfillable. Um, and when it was that age, there was still plenty of dreams to orient and motivate me with that kind of thing sitting in the background. But once I was 31 and the show ended and I really, I had nothing to look toward, uh, then the depression was pretty deep. Um, there was, there was, I didn’t have any idea of what to do. So I was just kind of around for awhile.
Guy: Yeah. Okay. Because the reason why I raised those, because quite often I can see it in people, myself when I meet that, you can feel that searching that angst, you know, like I’m supposed to be doing all the right things, but yet here I am still not happy. And quite often we still look for external substances and things or whatever to keep us distracted from that. Um,
Jeff: Oh, I still look for distractions all the time.
Jeff: No, no, no. It’s a, it’s a, it’s an asymptote. It gets, you know, closer and closer to going away, but I’m, I’m not pretending that I’m above any of that.
Guy: Yeah, for sure. So what, what, what, what kind of help them turn that around for you? Like, cause you mentioned depression and things like that. Like what can, can start to fill that gap for, I guess where you’re, where you’re at now to where you were then?
Jeff: Yeah. There’s, I would say there’s two main camps. Um, and one of them was just the, if you want to call it a spiritual path, if you want to call it understanding who you are or fundamentally, uh, that was one of the major life turning points for me was really getting deep into studying my own mind. Um, and there’s a million different forms of meditative practice to do that. Um, there’s one tradition called the advice of a Donta that comes from Hinduism with people like ramen and Maharshi and this, I got oughta in India. And when I started reading them, especially this guy in the saga about that, he was, he was really incredible because he was a cigarette salesman, his whole life, he didn’t claim, you know, it didn’t sit on a high clean pulpit or anything like that. He actually sat in his cigarette store and it was filled with people asking him questions for 50 years because they could tell that something was really special about him.
Jeff: And you can look at footage of him and he’s just yelling at everybody. He’s a classic like Bob Bay, Indian guy. And he’s basically, if you read the translations of what he’s doing, whenever anyone asks him a question, he’s just yelling at how they’re question is based on false assumptions about reality and how they can do what’s essentially a science experiment on their own mind and then understand what they’re misinterpreting about their own reality. And as soon as I came upon that, he was the first guy that was kind of talking my language because I was such a scientifically rigid background that you couldn’t come to me through talking about blind faith or anything like that. I wouldn’t have listened to you. In fact, for a while, I thought that that was the problem in our world, you know, and I was very kind of Neo atheist about my beliefs about reality, but, but here’s a guy who’s just basically giving you science experiments and he’s saying don’t trust anything I say, but look at the nature of this sense of, I am this sense of existence that comes online when you wake up in the morning and really study what that is, you know, cause we take for granted that it’s the same as your personality and it’s the same as your body, but as soon as you actually start questioning it, none of that really holds up.
Jeff: And so, you know, just that’s, this is all the first branch was, was really getting in touch with all the lies that my mind was telling myself about reality. Um, and I don’t find that that kind of work is ever like taking on a new belief. It’s actually always been letting go of false beliefs and learning. Yeah. And seeing like, wow, I just, I believe that for 39 years I held myself to that belief and it’s never been true. And the world seems to get freer and freer, as you find your own prison, you know, as you notice the prison that you’ve built for yourself, it seems to start to fall down crumble. Totally. I often liken it to like a bowl of wool and this whole time, and that’s what we’ve been doing a whole life. And we just slowly just trying to, you know, under the knots and unravel it and yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. It’s like the mythical Gordian knot. Um, so yeah, I think, I think the nature of the mind changes a lot when it starts to introspect and you know, some traditions call it Involution. You know, we’re always evolving on the outside and developing new things on the outside, but there’s a certain way that you can evolve by looking deeper and deeper into the nature of your own operating system. You know, just like a computer as code. Like what is the code here? Because the code to be the tunnel that you look through, it’s not the content that you’re looking at. It’s just this invisible thing that interprets everything. And once you start looking at the interpretations, then, then the world starts crumbling. You know, your whole idea of, of everything starts crumbling. Um, so that, that was one major, major thing for me, just kind of looking in inward and, and the second one was doing more deep, emotional work.
Jeff: And I had one emotional, uh, coach who, who just said the phrase that I, that I wish I had heard 20 years earlier. And I hope that people listening to your podcast can just hear this phrase. Cause especially with depression, people, people don’t think depression is intelligent. People. People tend to actually not believe any longer that our emotions are intelligent. We think that if we can get rid of our negative emotions, whatever negative means, then all we’ll have is positive emotions. And that’s where we’ll find joy. And actually the resistance to all those negative emotions keeps us from so much of our joy. And, and when I started to question like, what if all our emotions are actually intelligent and what are they trying to teach me then I’ll, then that changes your whole life as well. Because he stopped trying to get away from them.
Jeff: You start asking them, what are you here for? And one of these emotional coaches that I work with, Joe, he, he said, one time he said, the word depression means to press something down. What are you pressing down? And that just hit me like a ton of bricks because no one ever said something like that. To me, they just said, Oh, you’re depressed. Let’s give you some drugs. So you feel better. And let’s change all the symptoms and never actually get to the bottom of this. And it turned out I was holding lots of things down, but mainly I was holding anger down. I had, I had anger from things from when I was four and five years old that had happened. That happened to all of us, nothing like I didn’t have a really extreme, you know, abusive childhood or anything like that. But we all have these trauma of our own.
Jeff: That happened really early. And they just shaped the way that you live your life. And in my world expressing anger was not safe. And so when I was probably two or three years old, I just turned off the expression of anger and just held it in. And if you’re someone who does this, what you tend to have is you tend to get pissed off and frustrated at stuff, but you never express it. You know? And we all know plenty of people like this. I know a ton of my friends. I think I get along with them because we had that all in common for years. But as soon as this guy said to me, you know, what are you holding down? And we started exploring that. And I started realizing that I, it was never safe for me to express anger. And then I started actually practicing, like retraining my nervous system.
Jeff: That, that, that was okay too. Then all of a sudden I realized that the, the deep sense of determination in my life and the deep sense of self motivated action in my life, you can’t have those unless you’re okay with anger, you can’t hold back the anger because the anger actually, when you have anger and you treated it as intelligent, what is it it’s, it’s telling you that you have a boundary in your life. That’s been crossed that you’re not okay with. And when you look at someone like Gandhi or Martin Luther King, you see someone who’s totally okay with anger. They’re not like yelling at everyone because there’s, they’re so uncomfortable with anger, but they feel injustice and they feel inequity in their lives. And they say, that’s not okay. And what I have found more and more is the more I’m okay with my own anger and my own anger at situations in the world.
Jeff: The more my own motivation comes back online to do things in the world instead of to just be sitting there in depression. And I wish that people just knew that that was the case, that most people that are depressed are actually don’t feel like it would be okay if they got angry. And what can you do if your body has anger and it’s not okay to get angry, it has to just suffocate itself. It has to numb itself to the anger. So it doesn’t feel so damn uncomfortable all the time. So that was a huge turning point for me. My change relationship with anger, which I think is still like kind of taboo, even the talk about, um, was one of the most fundamental shifts in my actually feeling deep joy about being alive. Wow.
Guy: Amazing. Amazing. And what, were there any particular tools you use to kind of start to look at the feelings you were suppressing? Like if I may, my I’m right in the term sematic and sematic and sematic being what the body holds, is that okay?
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. So somatic therapies started, I’m sure they go ancient history, but the kind of modern somatic therapies started with Wilhelm Reich who was a contemporary of Freud’s and they got into this kind of fight about the fact that trauma actually lives on in the body. It’s not just your thoughts and you’re in your head. It’s actually, you know, you hold tension in your body because of things that have happened to you. And it was a way in some sense to suppress the emotion that you weren’t comfortable feeling. And so somatic therapies, they, they don’t just work with you in the mind. They work with you in the body at the same time. And you know, if I’m going into some situation that brought up anger in my life, that person I’m working with is going to get me up and I’m going to start pounding my fists on something and yelling, you know, I’m not just going to say, Oh yeah, I was really angry back then.
Jeff: And that’s really, you know, I’m going to actually go there with my body because your nervous system learns completely differently when you’re in your body than it does when you’re learning something like on a Blackboard. And first, you know, I would actually say, if you, you know, you want to give an experiment to all your listeners. If you’re, if you’re good with anger, then it’d be pretty easy to just get in front of a couch and start hitting it and start screaming. No big deal. If you’re not cool with that, probably you’re not cool with getting angry in regular life. And it’s an amazing practice. It’s so powerful to just give yourself a chance to stack some of the cushions on your couch, make sure no one’s around. That’s going to, you know, the dog’s not going to get too frightened or something like that.
Jeff: And just beat the crap out of your couch and make noise. And it feels so good once your body actually remembers the safety of that and the power that’s inside a human being, you know, we’ve really forgotten how powerful a human being can be physically and emotionally. And at least most of the people in the U S I don’t know how it is in Australia, but we clamped down on our emotions. So deeply that just letting yourself express them can just change the whole day. I know sometimes I’ll do that for three minutes in the morning and I’ll just walk outside. And like the whole day will feel so fast. And it’s like, wow, I don’t, I don’t drink coffee or anything like that. I just like, I hit the couch.
Guy: I love it. I love, I got to try that in the morning. I’ll do a meditation. I’ll come out and I’ll just like, just beat up the pillow and let it,
Jeff: yeah. Yeah. We’re going the opposite order, you know, let all that stuff out and then see what happens to you. The state of your mind, one guy, I forget who it was. He said that he said, we’re not trying to, you know, there’s that line about the monkey mind, like trying to settle the monkey mind. And he says, he says, that’s not, what’s really going on. We’re trying to settle the monkey heart. And if we actually can emotionally express and we’re okay with that, the mind is we’ll just sit in such a, some more settled space it’s sitting around because it’s trying to settle all these unsettled emotions. So we sometimes try to solve this like mine problem without actually feeling at ease.
Guy: Yeah. It’s, you know, it’s so interesting. You say that because a and I used to talk about this all the time that, um, many years ago I used to, um, I was a fitness trainer and I used to facilitate large boxing classes. I’d have like 30 people come into the room and, but I used to crank the music up, but I would never, I purposely never wore a microphone. So I had to shoot at the top of my voice and I was doing this for one hour and I always used to come out, go, and Todd was amazing. Like, there is this thing that came off the back of that. And I used to do that twice a week for years and hands down, it was therapy hands down. I just never had that relationship with, like, you just spoke about them with that. I mean, I questioned that. I wanted to ask you, yeah. Being assigned, you know, from a science background, I’m guessing left brain very analytical, like you said, and you had to get beyond that into the different world and with when it comes to science. And actually I got, see, I got questions coming from when it comes to science and spirituality. How much of a crossover do you think we’re seeing now?
Jeff: Um, wow. That’s a big question. That’s good. We have some time. Um, there are pockets of the world right now where they take it for granted that those two are reconciling with each other. And then there is most of the world that thinks that they’re like either completely separate viewpoints on the world that will never overlap with each other, or that one is a fiction than the other one is the only reality. You know, those are the kind of still dominant opinions in our world, um, in the communities that I see, they, there’s just a deep understanding and intuition of the different ways that those, that science and spirituality are actually different ways to tell the same story and that’s become clearer and clearer to me, the trick now is, you know, and I can speak to this as like a recovering scientist. You know, I think science is incredibly beautiful.
Jeff: And for people that aren’t scientists, I would say like, to me, the definition of science is using the scientific method to solve problems. And the scientific method is a specific thing that most people don’t understand. It’s just saying, okay, let’s assume that this thing is true and let’s try to disprove it. Okay. Let’s take this theory as if it were true and let’s try to cut it down as much as possible. And you know, when you do that with theories and you are unable to cut them down after repeated attempts, it builds this kind of strength that it’s probably the case. And, and the thing about that is incredibly powerful. It’s led to microchips and it’s led to cancer drugs. And, you know, it’s like incredible understanding of the galactic and the atomic, but it’s also one way to understand the world. It’s one process.
Jeff: It’s not the only process. It just happens to be incredibly freaking useful for the things that we do in this world. Spirituality has a, an aspect of that, but it’s a very different process by which to understand your self and your relationship to the world. And, and to me, it’s actually a scientific kind of process because you’re running yourself through experiments. Um, but for example, it’s not only trying to, to disprove things. It’s not only trying to cut apart hypotheses and see if they still stand up, but it’s actually saying what’s possible if I allow possibility in my mind. And the interesting thing is that that can land in different places than if you just start with a closed minded critique of something it’s odd how that can work, you know, becoming your own human experiment almost. Yeah. Like, I mean, if you, if someone does the experiment where they, for some amount of time assume that every single thing that comes into their life is coming for a reason and is intelligent.
Jeff: If they actually do that experiment, most people can’t do it because they’ll do it until something inconvenient comes along. But if you can actually do it, everything in your life is going to change. Totally. You know, but there’s, but you can just tell that to the average scientist, they’re not going to give validity to that because it doesn’t have universal truth. Right. But it does in its own way have universality, like, but it depends on a different kind of psychological predisposition. Yeah. So, yeah. That’s, yeah. That’s great with your science background. Now, most people are not going to have the understanding of science. Like I woke up, I had a coffee this morning in the cafe, you know, I wouldn’t be having a conversation. I can pretty much guarantee everyone that I’m having with you right now. Right. So, you know, you’ve definitely got a unique understanding of what makes up the world, like you said, it’s been to your advantage and disadvantage as well over time. How much of that role is then played in your everyday life to help you understand, I guess, the new way of looking at it, because most of us wouldn’t have that background behind you saying how much of the science that I know you, I use right now to understand the world and how much has it helped you?
Jeff: I would say the biggest challenge for me, knowing all the science that I know is to let go of more and more of it. You know, how do I give a parallel here? Like I play a lot of music and I know a lot of music theory. And at some point, knowing the theory actually gets in the way of just listening to music. Like when I hear music, I’m automatically like figuring out the harmonies and stuff in my head. And there’s a mental construction that you can play with music, but then there’s actually just listening. There’s just the sound washing over you. And someone that doesn’t know, music theory, all they get is the experience of the sound. But as soon as you learn it and you have this kind of conceptual understanding that can actually block you from just hearing anything. And the same thing happens with science.
Jeff: You know, there’s actually, the world is offering all this information all the time. But if you come to it with this idea that, you know, already what’s going on, then you might miss all of the magic that’s happening right underneath your, your supposed knowledge. And you know, for me, the classic, the biggest example of this in the current paradigm of physics is that we’re still in a materialistic paradigm. We’re still in a belief system that the universe is made up of things, right. It’s made up of solid objects and gas and liquid, but it’s made up of nouns. You could say, and these nouns do things. And that’s been the belief system for hundreds and hundreds of years, if not thousands of years and on a human level, it makes a lot of sense because it seems like I’m looking at a bunch of things when I look around.
Jeff: Right. But here’s the, can I curse on this shot? You’re going to believe me, here’s the mind. Fuck the mindfuck is how do I know that this object exists? Like, how do I really, if I really don’t take for granted that I know that this is an object, because someone told me when I grew up that this world is made up of objects, how do I actually know? I only know because I’m touching it, which means I feel, and I see it, which means I see, yeah, I have no proof of this thing except through my senses. And no one ever has, no one’s ever seen this thing or felt this thing in another way, except through their senses. And so one of the big riddles that’s being, I believe teased apart right now in, in the kind of crossover between science and spirituality is what’s more primary that there’s this thing that exists fundamentally, that we then sense or our sensory experience.
Jeff: So that is a, is it fundamentally nouns? And then we have learned to interact with those nouns and verbs, those nouns, like see and hear, and taste and touch those nouns. Or can we be honest that the most primary thing that we know is that we’re having an experience is that we’re tusk, we’re, we’re, we’re smelling. We don’t need to know that we’re smelling something. The primary thing is that I smell, I had this experience right now. I’m having an experience of sight. I’m seeing, I think I’m seeing you, but you’re actually secondary. Like, even if I close my eyes, I can’t stop seeing, right. It’s not even, it’s not even gone. It’s just this like purple black thing that’s existing. And any object that I think exists in the world is actually secondary to the fact that I have to be here experiencing first to prove the existence of that object.
Jeff: So does that mean if you went in the room right now and there was no one in the room, would that object be that well? So that’s a, there’s a, there’s two ways to answer that question. And one way is, well, there’s many ways to answer that question. One is of course, dipshit of, you know, of course, I’m not going to ask about that kind of raw reality. Cause it’s so obvious the second way to say it is who has ever found out, like there’s not even a way to find out. Right? And so there’s some, like, to me, there’s a deep humility and a kind of honesty that we have to just say, I have no clue. I have to come back in the room, you know? So that, those are, those are where you start putting question marks back in your life, where there were periods.
Jeff: Totally, totally. And it’s triggered another question, Jeff. I wanted to mention on the show and that’s perception and you touched on it at the beginning and the way we perceive the world, because ultimately we are perceived in the Willis road, five senses, and that information is coming in. So from your science background, how does that work? Because the lens on which we’re looking out on life, if I’m not mistaken is our interpretation of the information. That’s not necessarily, it’s the, it’s not necessarily the information. Would that be a correct way? Right. So it’s a, yeah, it’s interesting. It depends how much we want to get into the semantics of it. Like it is, it is an interpretation of something, but it’s also all we’ve got, you know, and sometimes saying, it’s the interpretation of saying gives us this idea that it’s, that there’s some other way that we get information, but it’s like, no matter what, even if you’re using a scientific instrument to get information, you’re you sensing that instrument to get it into your own consciousness?
Jeff: There’s no way to kind of actually just have information. It has to come through the windows that we have. And it’s an amazing mystery that we have these windows at all. You know, when we try to, you know, when I try to sit around and think about like, what are the universe actually feel like a billion years ago? Because we didn’t have like these advanced minds that we have now that can think conceptually, but there’s like, yeah, maybe it’s a weird thought experiment. But if you think about the experience that you’re having right now, it’s super complex, right? There’s the senses. And by the way, there’s like 12 senses. There’s not even five. There’s like, you know, the labyrinth incense that gives you your sense of balance. There’s five different types of sensing, et cetera. You have so many of these channels coming through and then think of something like a dog it’s, it’s gotta have overlapped a huge amount of our experience, right?
Jeff: It has taste and touch and smell and sight and sound. It has less, it doesn’t have language at all. So it can’t sit around thinking it probably doesn’t think much about planning for the future. It doesn’t seem like it does anyway, but it has like a huge amount of sensory experience shared with us. So there’s, there’s something inside yourself that, you know, you could say smaller, but it’s like more a subset of your experience. That is a dog’s experience. Right. It also has better sense of smell. But ignore that for a second. Something in me more fundamental is a dog’s experience. And something, if I go back further in, I say, well, what about like an iguana or something like that? It has a lot of similarities too, but it doesn’t have like an advanced emotional system the way that a dog does, but it still has sight.
Jeff: It’s still a smell, all those kinds of senses. Right? So something in me, again, a subset of my experience is shared with that iguanas. Yeah. Where does this end? Right. If I go back to like a flee, there’s a very simple set of sensory experience, but there’s definitely something. It definitely has sight. All those are. So there’s probably something in me that is the conscious experience of a flee. And if I go further back, that’s probably true with a bacteria as well, a single cell organism. I don’t know what that is unless I do a lot of experimental study on my experience, but where, where it ends becomes a hazier and hazier boundary and to stop at like an insect or even a bacteria is crazy to me. I’m, I’m more and more things that when you go all the way back to an atom, there’s some form of extremely fundamental experience that’s happening.
Jeff: That doesn’t look human in any way. There’s no thought there’s no seeing, but there’s some feeling of existence that I share still in here right now, fundamentally. And I think when, when people go into meditative practice, a lot of, depending on the style of practice, they’re actually tracing down into the subtler and subtler layers of their own experience to find what’s ultimately shared by everything that exists. But I think it’s a, it’s a, it’s one way that you can actually sit down and you can do a little meditation anytime and you can sit down and just kind of look at earlier, earlier points in evolutionary history and feel into yourself like, well, what of me would still be here if I were a bacteria? Cause there’s probably some kind of existence still being experienced. Yeah. But it’s a, it’s a, yeah, that’s a, it can go deep pretty quickly.
Jeff: That’s amazing. Now with meditation, I’m curious to know as well, because you, do you practice daily now or is it something that you just sort of bring in and out or what answer on top of that? How much has it changed you? Because I think a lot of people listening to this will kind of get everything we’ve spoken about so far. We definitely need to listen to it again. But, um, I’m interested because of the relationship with meditation and the effect that it has on the relationship with ourselves and relationship it has with our day and the things and how we perceive. Yeah. Um, uh, to answer the first part first, right now it’s not a daily practice for me for probably six or so years. It was a daily practice for me. And it, it fundamentally changed everything. I guess you could say it’s changed.
Jeff: Not only does it change the relationship you have to the voice in your head, which I think is, is one of the most critical things that it can change. You know, like for example, my depression was in the form of rumination, you know, like you’re going to sleep. And you’re just thinking about everything that happened that day and analyzing it and what was wrong with what this person said, all that you has, everyone has a version of that kind of thing. Some people more extreme than others and mine. There would be plenty of nights where it took me three hours to go to sleep because of the amount of noise. Now you can tell, someone will sit, sit in meditation. And the goal of meditation is to just notice that there’s a voice talking in your head all the time and just sit with it and just notice and see what it likes to talk about.
Jeff: You know, no like no violence toward it or anything like that. Just what it, what, what is going on there all day? You know, what is it focused on? And that kind of witnessing perspective on, on your own internal monologue can, it just changes everything about it. You know, even the idea, even sometimes you’ll be like, God, I’m so sick of this, a voice in my head. Right. And then you realize that that’s just another voice in your head. And you’re like, Oh man, everything in here is just this one, Gordian, not like you were mentioning before. Um, and it, and it starts to give you a different sense of who you actually are because until you notice there’s a voice in your head, you think you are the voice in the head. And as soon as you notice it, w I think one of the most fundamental things for me was that anything that you notice, you have a subject object relationship with, you know, I notice you right now, you’re the object in my perception.
Jeff: I’m the one seeing you. But I also notice my hands. Somehow they’re an object. They’re not me as the feeling of me. There’s something I’m looking at and there’s me. And I can do that with my faucet as well. And that’s a really a puzzling thing because as soon as I notice, Oh, there’s a thought, wait, I’m this thing, listening to this thought, this stop is not me. You know, I’m there when the thoughts comes in, when it goes and this feeling of me stays exactly the same. So what’s that about? You know, and to me, it’s like, if there’s actually, if someone actually studies that even for five minutes and gets really confused, what greater motivation for meditation is there. Cause then you’re actually, you’re on the hunt to understand this puzzle, this deep mystery, about the way this is something that you’ve been taking for granted in your whole life.
Jeff: And then the moment you can stop observing that more and more, the more than you don’t have to buy into the salt. Right. Right, right. Yeah. There’s even practices of there’s active practices of thought deconstruction. Um, you know, the mind is so good at arguing for stuff. If you catch it, if you catch yourself believing something, you can invert the belief and see if your mind can argue for the exact opposite. And probably your mind can come up with reasons to believe the exact opposite. And there’s these ways to kind of like notice that your mind is just making up theories all day long as no reason that any of them are true. And every time one of them comes up, it believes that they’re true. Like it’s got a pretty bad track record, actually. Lots of silent retreats. I’m curious. Yeah, I’ve done a couple. Um, they are, yeah. I think we are so prone to distraction in our world. That’s sometimes just like biting the bullet and saying, I’m going to myself 10 days to really see what’s going on in here. Um, I think is very illuminating, uh, for my school.
Guy: Yeah. I’ve, I’ve had, um, I’ve not done one yet, but it’s on my to do list. I’m just sort of getting my new business in a position where I could probably disappear for 10 days and, and do it, but I’d be intrigued to see what comes out of it. Cause I’ve had several friends that have done them and they’ve always come back to Slack. Some belief for construct they’ve built their whole life kind of gets broken and the lens is just changed again, you know? And it’s, it’s quite amazing. So I’m definitely curious
Jeff: for sure. Yeah. I think it’s um, well, yeah, now that you brought it up, I I’d feel remiss if I didn’t say like there are arguments to be made that almost all of our culture exists specifically because of how uncomfortable we are. If we are sitting in an empty room, anyone can try it, you know, sit down for 10 minutes and don’t do anything. See what happens, you know, it’s like you watch people in a line for 30 seconds and they’re antsy to be on the next thing, right?
Guy: May I make me laugh? Sorry, there was this I can’t, I’m paraphrasing you. And there was a study and they threw a kid in a room or a couple of kids or something and had to be in there for 10 minutes. And they said, and there was a machine in the middle of, they said, don’t touch that machine. Cause it’s gonna hurt, like give you an electric shock if you do. But he got like, they kept putting these people in the room by themselves, I think. And I think everyone ended up touching the machine.
Jeff: Exact thing is why humans go to war? You know, it’s really, it’s really deep. It’s it’s the incessant mind the need to do. And where is it getting us? Yeah. People would rather shock themselves than the Nadu. I even told her friend one time I was going on a meditation retreat and she was like, Oh, I’d love to go on one of those. I need some time to think about some things. And I was like, that’s not what it’s about, but people just want to. Yeah. The, the, I like to think of the mind and thoughts as life forms on their own. And like, they just want to stay alive. Lifeforms just want to stay alive. Just like a human being wants to stay alive. Like the beliefs in your head. They want to stay alive. And usually they want to stay alive because if they let go, you’re going to have to feel something that you haven’t been feeling that you don’t want to feel.
Jeff: You’re either going to feel a loneliness for the first time in awhile. You’re going to feel grief. That’s leftover from something from a long time ago, you’re going to feel rage about something like the mind. It’s very, it’s very wily. It’s a very tricky machine. Like it will actually get you in a mindset where you’re unhappy and you’re frustrated at it all to actually keep you from a way more difficult to feel emotion. So it’ll feel like, well, why would I be frustrated if it’s keeping me from, it’s actually like way more comfortable sometimes to just be like, should I do this? Or should I do this? You know, like if I’m stuck in this, should I do this? Or should I do this? You know, with my career or whatever, that’s actually potentially way easier to feel than wow. I feel worthless. Yeah. Wow. I don’t feel like I have purpose. And so we can sit ourselves in these like locks in our mind for years thinking like I haven’t been able to choose my path when actually we might need to have sat for 10 minutes and felt the grief that we don’t feel capable. And like all this activity might have been trying to just keep us from feeling that for 10 minutes once. And yeah.
Guy: So, so goes the world. Yeah. Yeah. It’s so true that we avoid those feelings and it takes courage. You know, I think it takes, definitely takes courage to stop looking and unraveling.
Jeff: I agree. I would say most people, you know, if you’re sufficiently comfortable in life, you’re probably not going to start looking at that kind of thing. You know, for me, it was actually the motivation of depression, the motivation of deep pain. That, that is the deepest motivation, right? Like what motivates us like pain is just like, you know, you can’t, you can’t ignore that kind of,
Guy: you know, it’s funny. Hey, we always, we always, I think it was something like Tony Robbins said this, but we we’ve moved quicker away from discomfort than we actually I’m being pulled by our dreams. So we need to get uncomfortable to then pursue and Slingshot that’s into the other direction that we’ve always wanted to do. But we’ve just kind of went out and do it next week. Um, just to wrap up this little bit of questions for our listeners, then what one, let’s say somebody listening to this, they don’t meditate. They don’t know where to start. They’re curious about looking within what one tip would you give them like a practice daily or something? Or what would you suggest to somebody? If I just stopped you on the street, you got two minutes from me, man. Why do I start? Like, what would you suggest? I would give you two really quick tips. Beautiful. One of them would be noticing
Jeff: voice in your head. It sounds a lot like your actual mouth voice, but it’s not the same. It speaks the language that you speak out loud, but it’s not saying the same sound and notice that that’s not you. And if you can notice continuously that that’s not you, everything in your life is going to change. And if right now you’re listening to this and you’re saying, I don’t have a voice in my head. That’s, that’s the exact voice that I’m talking about. It’s that thing that you didn’t say I’ll allow it. I don’t have a voice. It’s just this thought. And if you can, Whoa, I had this thought like everything will change. That, that to me is part one. And part two is see what happens if you believe that your emotions are intelligent. Every other animal that we know of that has an emotional system uses its emotions to determine every decision it makes in its life.
Jeff: And every one of those animals is incredibly intelligent. And human beings are the only ones that I’ve seen where we have that same emotional system. And we totally don’t trust it at all. And we think instead that we’re supposed to try to do everything we can to get away from all these emotions so that we can finally be happy. And in my experience, it’s actually the more, I’m able to accept all of the emotions as forms of intelligence in my life and learn to love them. The more I find real joy, it’s not from getting away from some of them. And, and I, that would be the experiment. I would want someone to try to look for the intelligence inside their feelings. Yeah. Perfect. Perfect. Thanks for that, man. I’m got to change gears. I got a few questions. I ask everyone on the show.
Jeff: So the lightning round they’ve sparked off some more deep conversations on previous podcast. What’s one of your biggest failures you’ve had, right. But later in life, turn into a win I’ll answer it. Won’t exactly line up with the words that you use, but I think it will get at, um, okay. We spoke earlier about my relationship with anger and I would say one of my biggest failures earlier in my life was the inability to trust anger that it was intelligent. And, and what would happen is I would continually get in situations that would frustrate me. And I wouldn’t express that frustration. I would just sit frustrated with it. And instead of saying like, Oh, actually my frustration probably is really an intelligent, something wants to change here. And this would actually happen in a lot of my relationships where I would get frustrated at someone.
Jeff: And instead of coming to them with my frustration, I would disconnect from them more deeply. And so I’d get to like, I’d be in a relationship with, with a partner for, you know, maybe two years. And I won’t have had any like, really explicit conflict with them, but inside I would have had all these frustrations that would make the step further and further away from them. And then I would just send the relationship probably surprising to them that some of the time, because it’s just like, we never fought. And I find that actually allowing those conflicts to be back in my life has just been joyous. Like letting myself believe in my anger that it, that it probably means I need something, you know, like trusting that really deeply, um, has just been, yeah, just been super joyous.
Guy: That’s huge. And I think everyone listening will be able to relate to that at some level. I know I’m very guilty of that. And, and the one thing I try and remind myself these days now is about just, just live in my truth and if it needs to upset another person, but I feel this is what’s right for me, then it needs to be said.
Jeff: Hmm. Yeah.
Guy: And it’s kinda uncomfortable often. And I hate like, I, I, I’m definitely a lover, not a fighter man,
Jeff: you know, but
Guy: at the same time, you know, there’s more, I’ve been doing that too. The more I feel I own myself and it’s been very empowering, so yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. And I want to, you know, since we talked several times about anger, I don’t want to give the MIS misperception that what I’m saying is that you should go to your partner and be like, you worthless piece of shit. You know, that’s, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if you’re feeling that then probably you have a need that is not being met. And if you can actually look and say, Oh, I’m so angry because I’m not getting met with the safety that I need, or I’m not being seen in the way that I feel I need to be seen. That’s an anger that you can bring to your partner. You know, I feel unmet. I’m not okay with being unmet. And the more that it gets comfortable in your system, the more it looks like, Hey, I’m just not cool with a relationship that doesn’t meet me in a certain way that I need, you know, it ends up being like, Oh, I’m actually, it’s great that I have needs. And I love my needs. And I demand that my life actually satisfy my needs. Um, but that’s like a, that’s still anger.
Guy: Totally. And you’re using that, the anger as a signal to then express it.
Jeff: Yeah. The anger is a signal. And I got to say, yeah, also a one Oh one kind of anger tip for someone who’s not like comfortable with moving anger. Um, you can ask for, for what you need, if you need space to let out anger. Sometimes the most powerful thing to me has been to tell a partner, like, can you just give me five minutes? Can you just like go for a walk for five minutes? I got frustrated and I’m too flustered in my frustration to know how to communicate it right now. And then they go outside and I beat up the couch and they come back five minutes later and I’m like, thank you. First of all, for trusting me with that, I got to move, feel the thing. And when you feel the thing, then the wisdom comes back in and I felt judged by this. And I felt unsafe about this. And all of a sudden my needs become really clear. Yeah. I love it. That’s awesome. That is absolutely awesome. It’s been, it’s what pisses me off the most is that we don’t just learn this by default in school. Like this would just be, you know, the thing I tell everyone is I learned quantum mechanics before I learned about anger and that’s ridiculous like that, that is not the way we should be teaching human beings, how to live. I know I, you
Guy: know, that and the thing is, like you said, it can hold a back for 10, 20, 30 years or a lot of our life. And then when we actually get to paying enough to step into it and go through it, and it’s almost like you’re remembering, and then you’re like, Oh, why didn’t I do that 10 years ago? You know? Totally, totally. Yeah. But I guess we need to learn from them and they keep going. Right. Well, I mean,
Jeff: say, for example, in this case, like the fact that it took so long for someone to tell me about anger is one of the main motivating factors that is propelling me to work on getting this an education. So it’s like needed to happen. Yeah. It happens that way. And hopefully it doesn’t always have to happen that way, but you know, it’s funny how our, our trauma and our pain also become our deepest gifts. Yes. We often don’t like to give any, you know, acknowledgement to our pain, but it’s like, man, all the things that are deepest to me that I love the deepest come from, those pains, all those things, all my capabilities of listening to people now and working with people on their own transformation come from my pain inextricably linked.
Guy: Totally. Totally. I got another great question for ya. Alright. If you could have dinner with anyone tonight in the world, no timeframe. It could be from the past present wherever, and you could have dinner with them tonight. Who would it be and why?
Jeff: Um, yeah, right now I think it would be Einstein. Um, Ooh. Um, it might be Buddha, you know, if, if Buddha was historically, uh, an existing human being, I’d have a lot of questions for him. Um, and maybe really similar questions for Einstein. You know, for me, I’ve been letting go of the kind of physical paradigm that I learned, you know, the way that physics talks about reality. And I think actually Einstein had a lot of incredible ideas about physics that didn’t make it into the mainstream. You know, he has this line where he said a time and space are not conditions in which we live, but modes by which we think. And that’s kind of like how we started this conversation, that you are the proof of the object, not vice versa. Um, I think he was actually speaking about that, you know, a hundred years ago. And I think there’s ways to look at things like E equals MC squared in terms of consciousness and not just a materialistic universe. And I would love to like brainstorm with him about how that might be all coming together. Now.
Guy: I bet, I bet I watched that show genius when my wife, a few months back, I don’t know if he’s saw it, but it was a TV show online Stein, like they’ve made a, um, is it based on the goal? Yeah, it was wonderful. I learned so much. Yeah, totally. I
Jeff: highly recommend people checking that out now. I don’t need to have dinner with him. I’ll just watch the series. Well, what’s the one thing about yourself? Most people wouldn’t know. Hmm. I think we talked about it already. Cause I think it was the anger thing. I would say the, the fact that I, most people thought of me as like a super gentle person, my whole life, including myself. I never felt angry or anything like that. And, and then I realized late on that it was because I had repressed it so deeply that it never even got to come. You know, there was no tip of the iceberg that ever even came up and, and it turned out I had an enormous amount of rage about, you know, things in my childhood and
Jeff: I don’t think people knew that because I didn’t know it, you know, until I was 35 or so. Yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. Thanks man. Um, before we wrap up the show as well, I’ve got, I’ve seen that thing in behind me. It, because it looks beautiful and that was a mistake and there was a crowd funded project and it was called slow dance. Yeah. It’s a little hard for me to bring over because it’s plugged into the wall over there, but slow dance is a machine I invented, uh, as I said, early on, I worked on, I work on sculptures that take advantage and exploit the limits of human perception. And this piece only works because your eyes have certain limits to the way that they see and because it hijacks them and it takes advantage of those limits. It can make objects look like they’re moving in slow motion, which is physically impossible, but you can actually have that kind of perception.
Jeff: I’m looking at these objects. Wow. So they’re not man. They are moving, but they’re not moving in the way that you would ever be able to see with your own eyes. Yeah. You’re actually, this is, you can look it up a line and see how it works and everything like that. I don’t want to explain it cause it’s Bruins the mystery, but, um, yeah, you’re seeing about 1% of the actual reality that’s going on. And because of that, I can make them do things that are completely physically. Wow. And I would just put in my plug, which is a wonder machines.com. If anyone wants to buy one, they’re all about a thousand per sale. They ship all over the world. Yeah. We ship plenty to Australia. Oh wow. It looked amazing when I saw that, I was like, how the hell did he do that? Like it looked magical. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. It’s been amazing to, I worked on it for about two or three years before anyone got them in their hands. And so it’s been really special in the last two months I shipped about 2,500 of them. And their response has been really beautiful people. One said it reaffirm re he gave them back faith in humanity. That was one of the best comments I’ve ever heard about something.
Guy: It’s something you you’d resonate with straight away. Like I looked at that and I was like, Oh my God, I got to get one. The beautiful.
Jeff: Yeah. I think if it does its job, well, it makes you remember what being a kid feels like, where you’re just looking at stuff, you know, you’re looking at the magic, that’s all around you and yeah.
Guy: Yeah, yeah. Beautiful mate. Um, would you like to add anything else? Probably listeners to ponder on before we wrap up,
Jeff: uh, we’ve we’ve given, we’ve given so much already. It’s a, it’s hard to think of anything specific. Although the, the one, the first thing that comes to mind is, uh, you know, you were talking about those little experiments and, and one other one just came to mind just when you asked the question now, I don’t know why, but it was, it was to ask yourself if you’ve ever been able to leave the present moment, most people take for granted that there’s a future in the past. And when you start to question where life actually happens, um, you can’t get away from right now. And some reason we, some of us, I have been a victim of this, for sure where I’ve, I’ve prioritized the future in the past, over the present. So deeply in so many ways that it actually took away where life really happens. I think that’s another interesting experiment was like, see if you can actually get to the future or the past.
Guy: Yeah. Yeah. I can get out now. Totally make totally for everyone listening to this and they want to get more Jeff Lieberman. Where can I send them to you, mate?
Jeff: Yeah. They can go to my website, which is bea.st in the word beast.
Guy: Got it. And if they want to check out the slow dance, could you repeat the website for that too?
Jeff: Yeah yeah. Thank you. It’s wondermachines.com.
Guy: Wondermachines.com. Beautiful. Yeah. I’ll link in the show notes anyway, but I certainly recommend everyone checking the balls out. And Jeff, I just want to acknowledge you make A for coming on the show and B for everything you put out there in the world mate, this is amazing. And you’ve certainly inspired me unknowingly, probably, you know, when I stumbled across you already a year ago with your work. So I just want to, um, yeah, thank you. I’m deeply, deeply happy that you came on the show and that was amazing. Absolutely amazing.
Jeff: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me guys really fun talking.
Guy: You’re welcome, mate. Thank you.