Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Four”
Welcome to The Greg Amundson Show. This is a podcast where Greg will educate and inspire you to live with purpose, passion and a burning desire to develop strength in your mind, body and spirit. Through a disciplined use of our words, thoughts, awareness and attention, we can achieve a mindset of positive expectancy, personal belief and an unshakeable faith in God.
Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode 4 of The Greg Amundson Show. I’m so grateful and happy to be with you on the show today because I have got a couple great stories and I’m going to be introducing to you one of the most remarkable men, one of the most incredible mentors in my life. So, get ready, my friends. In the words of my dear friend, Coach Greg Glassman, “Three, two, one, go!”
Many, many years ago, there was an old wise man who was charged with standing in front of the city gates, welcoming every single visitor that passed by. One day the old man is standing guard at the gates, and along comes a weary traveler. This weary traveler, even from a distance, it’s evident that he is having a bad day. He has a frown on his face, his shoulders are slumped, and rounded forward. He’s not breathing deeply or fully. This traveler approaches the old man and in a bit of a harsh, grumpy voice, says, “Old man, what kind of people are in this city?” The old man answers that question by asking a question of his own. The old man replies and says, “Well, what kind of people were in the city from whence you just came?” The traveler says, “Oh, well, you should have seen them. They were grumpy, they were mean, they were downtrodden, they were just negative people.” The old man sighed and said, “Well, you will find those exact same people here in this city. Welcome!”
Shortly thereafter, along comes another traveler, only this traveler is practically skipping down the path while whistling a joyful tune. This traveler approaches the old man and with a big smile on his face says, “Old man, I’m here! What kind of people are in this city?” The old man says, “Well, traveler, what kind of people were in the city from whence you just came?” This traveler says, “Oh, I wish they were here with me now. You would just love them. They were kind, they were openhearted, they were gentle, they were full of love and passion.” The old man says, “Well, I’ve got some great news. You will find those exact same people here in this city. Welcome!”
Isn’t that a great story? One of my favorites and the reason that’s one of my favorite stories is it ties in so beautifully to one of the key messages from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. You see, Christ taught these powerful words. Christ taught that whatever it is that we are seeking, we will find. Whatever it is we are asking for, we shall receive. And whatever door we knock upon will open. What’s so important, my friends, for the modern day warrior is to understand that in that amazing lesson from the life of Christ, Christ did not quantify this lesson, meaning that he said, “Whatever it is you’re asking for.” You see, he didn’t say, “All the good things you’re asking for, you shall receive.” He said, “Whatever it is.” Right? There was no inherent warning. He didn’t say, “Be careful not to seek these things because you will find them.” Instead, he said, “Whatever it is you’re seeking, you will find.”
And in the lesson regarding knocking upon a door, when Christ was teaching the karma of our actions, he said, “Whatever door it is that you knock upon, it will open.” Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t that bring that message from Christ to new light? A new perspective? A new understanding? A greater appreciation? What profound wisdom the Master was teaching us, my friends, and it ties in beautifully to the story. Because here you have one weary traveler. What is he seeking? Negativity. What will he find? More negativity. The other traveler is seeking positivity. What will he find? Exactly what it is he is looking for.
My friends, this insight alone can be potentially life-changing, because this can allow us to achieve greater discipline in our lives, discipline in ourselves, to speak with positive expectancy, disciplining ourselves to use our vision, our eyes, to see with new eyes, as it says in the Bible, and then disciplining ourselves to be mindful of the actions that we take in our life, because everything we say and everything we do creates a rippling effect throughout the universe. It ultimately touches every corner of our life, and whatever it is that we put out ultimately, in time, will return to us. This is what’s known as the Law of Attraction, and there’s nothing mythical about it. It’s very simple. Christ taught this same message when he says, “What you sow, you will reap.” This is why the metaphor of the farmer, I think, is so profound. You see, when the farmer planted a seed, there was no question in the farmer’s mind that if the farmer planted an apple that an apple tree would grow. A week after planting the seed, the farmer would not go into the field, dig up the soil and check if an apple seed was growing. He knew. He trusted that in time, when the season right, he would harvest and reap the benefit of what he’d sown: the apple seed.
My friends, this is exactly what our experience in our life would be with everything we say and everything we do, and ultimately, everything that we think. Oh, yes. You see, our thoughts are vibrating just like our words and our action. What we think about cultivates, grows in our mind. Christ warned against this as well. He said, “It’s out of the heart of man that could potentially defile him. For that is where decisions are first formulated, in our heart, in our mind. Then from that production factory, we act on what we’ve been thinking.”
My friends, without further ado, I want to introduce you to an amazing man who’s been a profound mentor in my life. I write about this man in my book Firebreather Fitness. This man’s name is Kyle Maynard. I met Kyle in 2012. We were asked to speak together at the Wounded Warriors Summit in Austin, Texas. Kyle and I shared the stage that day, although, in fact, truth be told, Kyle completely stole the show. He had the audience and me spellbound from the moment he introduced himself. He’s a captivating speaker with a life-changing message.
Here’s what he shared with me that day, and this is going to be really exciting because we’ll be able to see first-hand how all the previous episodes, all the lessons that we’re learning, this foundation that we’re laying, my friends, is now really starting to blossom. If you’ve been tuning in to previous shows, this should be exciting because now we’re really beginning to develop the mechanics of our mind, and of our spoken word; and just as Coach Glassman said, mechanics, consistency, and then intensity. So behind me on my whiteboard, and I remember saying once that I can change the world with a whiteboard and a dry erase marker. Where do you think I got that from? Exactly. That’s Coach Glassman.
So behind me on my whiteboard, I’ve got two diagrams. We’re going to go into both of them. But first the diagram that came from 2012 at the Wounded Warriors Summit, with Kyle Maynard. What Kyle drew on the whiteboard that day was three circles. There was a very small circle in the center, then a slightly larger circle that surrounded the very small circle, then finally a very large circle that encompassed the two within it. What Kyle said was profound. He said, “The large circle is the circle of what.” This, you see, is where most people exist. Most people go through their entire life unconscious, unaware of the fact that they are existing entirely in what. You even hear this played out in conversation. When two people greet each other, that common greeting of “What’s going on?” “What’s up?” Then to answer that question, you reply by replaying everything that’s happened to you, all the what’s of your life. So if you’re existing in the state of what, you are very reactive to the circumstances that are playing out in your life.
Well, the good news is that Kyle proposed there is a deeper level that we can go, and that level is known as the how. Now, this is exciting because rather than concerning ourselves too much with what’s happening, we begin to bring greater awareness to how we respond to the circumstances of our life. You see, a great insight, my friends, that was first proposed in my life through the work of Viktor Frankl in the book Man’s Search for Meaning in that it’s not so much what happens to us in our life; it is our thoughts about what happened which dictate how we reply, how we respond, how we act. That’s an insight right there that can change your life. What a profound bit of wisdom from Viktor Frankl.
Now back to the diagram and the lesson from Kyle Maynard. Here’s where things can be completely awesome, my friends, because there’s one final level the warrior is striving to go, and that level is the level of why. That is in the center of these three circles. The why of our life is the most powerful place to live. Once we begin to navigate into the why of our life, that’s when those greater questions begin to arise in our consciousness. Those are the questions that lead us to asking and answering the question “Purpose of my life?” “Why was I born?” “Why does God put on my heart these desires?” “Why was I born with these innate gifts?” Those are those life-changing questions. And remember, just like the words of Christ, “Ask and you will receive.” So what better question to ask than “Why was I born?” Wow, what a potentially life-changing question to put on our heart. One of the great mentors of our time, Tony Robbins, was quoted as saying, “It’s the quality of the questions in our life that determine the quality of our life.” That’s amazing to consider.
Well, once this lecture was concluded, I went up to Kyle to compare notes and I said, “Kyle, brother, that was absolutely awesome.” Here’s the words Kyle said to me that day. They still burn in my memory. Kyle looked at me and he said, “Greg, the greater the why in your life, the greater your life will be.” Wow, isn’t that awesome? This leads us back to previously recorded episodes together when we discussed the passion of our life purpose. As you’ve undoubtedly heard me say, I firmly believe that God innately gave us each a mission to accomplish during our lifetime, a unique purpose that only you and I, my friends, can fulfill. There is something that you were born to do that only you can do that you’ve got to do, and until you are doing that, there will be a big gap, a big hole in your heart. At first, we try to unconsciously fill that gap with the material world when, in fact, that hole can only be filled from within, from the presence of God and through the fulfillment of our life purpose.
Now, before we go live to a few very special lectures and stories that I’m so excited to share with you, I want to share with you here and now one final lesson. This again comes from the work of Viktor Frankl, and once again, we go to the whiteboard to really understand this lesson, because I found in my own life experience this visual diagram, when imprinted on our consciousness, helps us tremendously during the ebb and flow of our life. What I’ve drawn behind us is for many people going to be a bit of a radical proposition. What I’ve drawn behind me is two circles spaced apart. One circle has an S contained within it. That S stands for Stimulus. The other circle has the letter R. R stands for the word Response. Now if you look at the diagram, you can see that there’s some space between Stimulus and Response, and in between that space I’ve written the word Breath.
You see, what normally happens during the course of our day, especially when during the course of our day we’re facing some challenges, normally what happens is stimulus and response, they bang together. There is absolutely no space between stimulus and response. That means that once again, the warrior has become responsive to the circumstances of our life. Where what the warrior is striving to do, what we’re disciplining and cultivating in our life is space, which gives us awareness, which gives us more choices about how we think and how we can respond. That’s a huge difference from the way that most people go through life, completely reactionary to everything that’s happening around them. The lesson here, my friends, is we have a tool with us at all times that can help us create space between stimulus and response. That tool is the breath, our constant companion. As my dear friend Dan Brule would say, author of the book, Just Breathe, our constant companion is our breath. What the breath can do is it can crack us open. It can literally create physical space, both in the body as the breath expands the body. Yet, more importantly, it can create space in the mind.
My dear dad, Dr. Raymond Amundson, he said to me once, “Everyone’s got to be a little cracked to let the light in.” My dad was a chiropractor, so he was referring both to the manual adjustment, which could crack the spine to open the spine, creating space between vertebrae. He believed that in that space, the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, could pour in. Well, he also taught me that that same space needs to be cracked open in our mind. The breath can be that fulcrum that can crack the mind open.
Now, here’s where things get amazing and rather comforting. You see, what the breath does is it creates space and who can join us in that space? Yes, God. The presence of God is available to us. Yet, we’ve got to create space for Him to flow into our life.
Well, now, my friends, we’re going to go live. First, we’re going to return to Encinitas where we’ll pick up where we left off, sharing stories about the warrior tradition. One of the amazing mentors I’m going to introduce to you once we get to Encinitas is none other than my senior drill sergeant from Army Basic Combat Training. Then we’re going to go to another previously recorded lecture back at SEALFIT where I’m going to share with you one of the most profound, yet one of the least heard stories from the warrior tradition, known as The Story of the Tea Master. So, my friends, in the words of Coach Glassman, “Follow me. Three, two, one, go!”
The conditions of our life, the experiences of our life, we essentially plant in the very fertile soil of God’s universe every time we say something. Here’s what’s exciting. Think about our workout today. Our workout today was on the premise of every repetition counts. Every rep counts, AMRAP.
Do you see the greater implication of an AMRAP? It’s not just every physical repetition counts. What we’re beginning to understand is that every thought counts. Every word counts. So in the same manner that we bring awareness to the quality of our range of motion, we need to cultivate that same awareness, that same discipline, bringing that same willpower to our thinking and to our speaking. So what tools then do we have at our disposal to ensure that we are in alignment with the desires of our heart? What tools are at our disposal to help us cultivate greater awareness of our thinking, and greater awareness of our speaking?
You’re doing it right now. You might not be really aware of the fact that you’re using the greatest tool at your disposal. Yet, right now, each and every one of us is utilizing the greatest that we have in our toolbox for the cultivation of awareness of our thinking and speaking. It’s this [Inhales and exhales]. It’s our breathing.
Where did our morning begin? Where did we go? Outlook Point? What did we do? Box breathing. What happened after we did Box breathing? Heartfelt prayer. Intention. Mantra. Affirmation. That all preceded any physical work that we did. The breath is the opportunity to create a little bit of space in our mind. I’d like to think that Heraclitus, when he was surrounded by that enemy force, which we now understand might have been his own thinking, as he was surrounded, as the dog of fear was starting to bear down on him, he came into his mountain stance and he went through several repetitions of pranayama, mindful breathing, and every breath he took pushed back that enemy force. And once he had created a little bit of space, then he dropped into that meditation. Yet, he needed to cultivate and create space first.
In martial arts, in particular Brazilian Jiujitsu, the mantra is “Space Equals Escape”. Isn’t that neat? And we can create that space in our minds through our breath. So what I’d like to do is I’d like to go back to the beginning. Let’s conclude our session today where we started, which is in mindful breathing. Then, instead of simply coming into a heartfelt prayer or intention or mantra in our mind, we’re going to go one step further, and I’m going to teach you a very, very powerful practice that I teach in my book Firebreather Fitness. This practice is what’s known as First Words. This is the practice of a warrior. This practice alone, when combined with mindful breathing, this practice alone can radically and positively influence the quality of your life. This practice has the ability to change the direction of your life by one degree. Even a half degree of change in your life can make a profound difference. If a plane left New York with the intention of going to San Diego, and was half a degree off on its flight path, it would land in San Francisco. So one degree of change over time can have an awesome effect on your life.
Here’s how the practice works. We’ll come in a moment into our mountain pose. I’ll cue you through mountain pose. Then we’ll go through four rounds of box breathing, utilizing the ujjayi nostril breath, which I taught you out at Overlook Point. At the end of that, we will have created a settled effect. One of my yoga teachers said, it’s like the sand settles and the water becomes clear.
Then into that clarity we’ll begin to have greater awareness of the quality of our thinking. We come into our mind, and we’re going to determine what we want to say in the form of a mantra, an affirmation or heartfelt prayer. Whether it’s a mantra, affirmation, or heartfelt prayer, the key is to always think and speak in the positive tense, always imprinting on our mind, always planting the seed in the soil of what we desire, not the lack or absence of it. Positive tense speaking.
Then, First Words. In the form of a whisper that only you can hear, you will then speak what you’ve cultivated in your mind. So we now yoke the entire practice together. The body, the mind, the spirit are yoked in that moment. And my friends, you will be in for an amazing experience. I can assure you that the seed you plant today in this level of power, as we join together, for this practice will sprout in your life, sooner than you could possibly realize. So really take this practice seriously. This is just as powerful as the as many reps of pull-up, push-up and squat as possible, perhaps more powerful.
Mark Divine recently said it’s the 20X Factor, where working out, as much as we enjoy working out, the real excitement, the real battlefield to engage upon is working in. That’s the 20X Factor, and we have the ability to practice that today. Sound good?
Let’s stand up.
Mountain Pose. Stack your feet directly underneath your hips. Your feet are essentially on railroad tracks, facing forward. Tuck the tailbone down and in. Then pull the belly button back to the spine. Beautiful. Roll the shoulders back. Notice how that opens the heart. Then rotate the palms forward. Energetically start to shine some energy, some light out through the palms of your hand. Then imagine there’s a silk string on the crown of your head, just lifting the crown of your head, lengthening the spine up towards the heavens, towards the sky. Then close your eyes. You may notice the gentle sway of your body. Then bring awareness to the breath. Set the intention to transition into nostril breathing. Then I’ll lead you through a full round of box breathing.
Let’s begin by letting all the air out. Exhale. Now inhale through the nose. Hold the breath. Exhale through the nose. Hold the breath. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Hold. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Hold. Deep breath in. Hold the breath. Slow breath out. Hold the breath. Now continue breathing deeply on your own through your nose. Keep the eyes closed. Bring awareness to the quality of your thinking in this moment.
As you begin to bring awareness to the quality of your thinking, in that moment of awareness, just have the peaceful assurance that in this moment, you are not your thinking. You’re beginning to experience the beautiful nature of your pure awareness, your great witness.
Now imagine that through the practice of the box breathing, your mind has settled. It’s taken on the quality of a very still body of water. And into the center of that body of water, you are able to drop a single stone. And as that stone drops into the center of that beautiful, still body of water, it creates a rippling effect, which evenly touches the corner of the surrounding shore. Metaphorically, that stone, that pebble represents your spoken word. That rippling effect represents the power the spoken word holds in your life. So begin now to determine your intention for speaking, the heartfelt prayer, the mantra, the affirmation you intend to speak. Before we speak these words, repeat them in the temple of your mind. In the temple of you mind, hear yourself speak.
Then keeping the eyes closed, in the form of a whisper that only you can hear, break the sacred silence that you have created by offering up your first words. Then keep your eyes closed a few moments longer. Just trust that that spoken word, that spoken word was a seed that is now being cultivated in the universe. That spoken word took on the quality of that pebble being dropped into the water that is now rippling through every corner of your life. Here’s what’s exciting, my friends. As you go through your day, every time you speak, this process is in fact unfolding. Every time you speak, this practice is in fact unfolding.
And open your eyes. Bring your palms together over your heart. Deep breath in. Slow breath out. All right, my friends. Thank you all so much! You did a great job today.
Well, my friends, I hope you enjoyed the conclusion of the lecture from SEALFIT. Now, come with me, we are on our way to meet the tea master.
Many, many years ago, in Ancient Japan, a tea master was walking along a dirt road, and approaching the tea master from the other direction is a samurai. Accidentally, the tea master bumps into the samurai’s scabbard. The scabbard holds the sword, the sacred sword of the samurai. Well, that is grave insult, and the samurai warrior draws his sword and prepares to cut down the tea master. The tea master begs for his life. The samurai says, “You have committed a grave assault against me, and I will kill you, but I will give you the chance to defend yourself.” They agreed to meet two days later on that very road. Well, the tea master is a master of the tea ceremony, but he’s no fighter, he’s no warrior, he’s never even held a sword.
Certain of his death, he walks through the village, and he comes across a well-respected, old, retired samurai, and he asks this samurai if he will fight this duel on his behalf. The old master says, “No, I will not fight your battle for you, and you will certainly perish during this battle. However, I will join you for tea.”
Well, the tea master sets down his kettle and he prepares to make tea, and he immediately drops into deep concentration, the zen mind. Everything else, including his looming death, disappear as he prepares tea. Now, the old samurai master sees in the master of the tea ceremony absolute commitment, absolute commitment to the task at hand, absolute commitment to preparing tea. And he exclaimed, “Stop! That will save your life.” And the tea master looks up and says, “Tea will save my life?” The master says, “No, the commitment that you display now.” And the master says, “I want you to take my sword, meet that rogue samurai on the path, and hold the sword over your head and clear your mind like you have now. And commit to one cut, to cut down that samurai as he approaches you. Commit and you will win. Commit and you will live.” Well, the master of the tea ceremony is also a good student, and he listens and he understands.
Two days later, there, early, waiting for the samurai, with his sword held overhead is the tea master. His mind is clear. He has committed to one task, to one action, to one purpose. The samurai approaches and is first startled to even see the tea master here on the roadway. But he draws his sword, and he starts to walk closer and closer and clo — suddenly, he can walk no further. He knows if he takes one more step, he will be cut down. He feels the commitment. He can see the commitment of the tea master in front of him, and in that moment he puts his sword back, he bows, and he walks away.
Hello, friends, and welcome back. I hope you enjoyed our time together back at Encinitas. That was really an amazing day.
My friends, I want to leave you with a little bit of a warning. It my experience, there’s something rather unique about the way the universe works. I firmly believe that God will give us as many opportunities as needed to learn the lesson that He is trying to teach us. And in my experience, the way this works, you see, is that God increases the intensity of the lesson a little every time He teaches us the lesson, because He really wants us to get it. So this is exciting, because, you see, imagine if we got the lesson on the first iteration. Wouldn’t that be amazing? We could very quickly accelerate our knowledge, our wisdom, our growth, our maturity, our understanding. We could very quickly accelerate that level of knowledge, if we were able to understand the lesson on the first iteration. Oftentimes, the way these lessons work in our life is a bit like a GPS system. Imagine if we got in a car, we programmed our destination and off we went, and Garmin says, “Turn right!” And you and I think, “I’m going to turn left!” Garmin can’t possibly be right. So we turn left. What does Garmin do? Recalculates. Garmin says, “Make a U-turn.” And again, if we ignore that direction, once again, Garmin recalculates. The route is recalibrated. And the Garmin system of navigation will continue to reroute us until we decide to follow directions, which ultimately gets us to our destination.
Now, we could have ultimately made that first right and gotten to the destination a whole lot sooner. Yet either way, we will arrive at our final destination. Let’s get there a bit sooner, however. Let’s arrive at that destination that God is desirous of us arriving at with the least amount of resistance possible along the way. For this reason, let me share one of the lessons from the warrior tradition. You see, in the warrior tradition, the same story was told three times, the same story three times. The reason for that is that it was believed in the warrior tradition that the first time the story was told, you simply listened. That’s it, just listened. The second time the story was told, you heard the story. The third time the same story was told, you understood.
Now, the warrior was told that if they could understand the story on the first iteration, they would be able to very quickly accelerate their level of knowledge. They would be able to then grasp greater stories containing greater lessons if they were able to understand the lesson contained within the story on the first iteration. This is exactly the way the universe works in our life. If we can understand the lesson that God is trying to teach us during the ebb and flow of our life — by the way, these lessons oftentimes come wrapped in the packaging of a challenge. This is why in the Bible it says, “My God supplies all I need.” Even those challenges in our life, we need those challenges, because contained within the wrapping of that challenge, there is a lesson to be learned.
So as we continue in The Greg Amundson Show, you may notice the theme that oftentimes we are sharing the same story, and the reason for that is that sometimes we need to hear these stories multiple times to allow the lesson contained within the story to seep into our body, into our mind, into our soul, into our spirit. So in that spirit, I want to leave you with one final story, a story that we have heard before; yet, perhaps this time, we can really begin to understand.
Many, many years ago, there was a hawk and a dove, perched upon a tree branch. They were watching the snow fall during this winter’s day, when suddenly the hawk looked at the dove and said, “Dove, tell me, how much does a snowflake weigh?” The dove replied and said, “A snowflake? Well, a snowflake weighs nothing more than nothing.” To which the hawk replied, “Ah, yes, Dove. I thought that same way as well last winter. And so last winter, I decided to sit upon a tree branch and count every snowflake that fell onto the branch that I was perched upon. And I counted all day, and I counted up to 3,743,092 snowflakes. And then the 93rd snowflake fell upon that same branch and in that moment, crack! The branch broke. In that moment, Dove, a snowflake that weighed nothing more than nothing broke the branch of the tree.”
Well, my friends, until next time, may God bless you and keep you safe. I will see you back here soon on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
Thank you for listening to the show. Please subscribe, rate and share this podcast. You can find more info at gregoryamundson.com. Take care and God bless.
[0:45:21] End of Audio