Show Notes: Episode 17 “Renewing Your Mind”
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 unshakable faith in God.
Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode 17 of The Greg Amundson Show. I want to take you back in time today to my second year at Presentation Elementary School. I was in second grade, and I had a crush on the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I still remember her name to this day, Candice Naylor. She was the most beautiful girl in the entire world as far as I was concerned.
One day, I decided that I would profess my love to Candice in the form of a love letter. I wrote her a love letter, and during the recess I handed her the love letter certain that my face was bright red. I was so nervous, so scared, yet I knew this was the girl for me.
Well, the next day during recess, Candice gave me a note of her own, however, she also said when handing me the note that I was going to be in some serious trouble because Candice had given my love note to none other than our second grade teacher who was a nun who was known by the name Sister Jean, The Mean Machine. This nun terrified me, terrified me. And now Candice has given Sister Jean the love note that I gave in confidence to Candice. I was terrified. What was Sister Jean going to do?
Well, we returned from recess, and I thought to myself in that second grade mindset that two can play this game, and if Candice would dare to give my love note to Sister Jean then I can certainly give the love note that Candice gave to me to Sister Jean.
We’re back from recess, we just finished prayer, I stood up, walked up to Sister Jean’s desk, and placed the love note that Candice had given me right in front of her, and I said, “Sister Jean, I think you should read this.” Well, Sister Jean not only read it to herself, Sister Jean read this note to the entire class. It turns out, for reasons I still do not understand nor ever probably will, Candice never in fact gave my love note to Sister Jean. She just said that she did when in fact I actually followed through giving that note that Candice had given me in confidence to Sister Jean.
Sister Jean reads the love note to the entire class. I started crying because now I feel horrible because Candice was crying, then we’re ridiculed by Sister Jean. We’re told that this type of communication and affection is not permitted in the kingdom of God especially for second grade students at Presentation Catholic School. On and on it went. I just felt horrible because here’s the girl of my dreams, and I’m responsible now for her sorrow.
The reason I began with this story is this story helps to highlight, I think, one of the most in important Bible verses that we could ever hope to commit to memory. By memory I mean not just the memory through the repetitive process of our thinking, I’m referring to a memory in which this Bible verse becomes part of our cellular make up, it becomes part of the man or woman whom we are. That, my friends, is the significance of this Bible verse.
You see, what we have to understand is that Jesus tells us in Scripture that what ever we hold in our heart we will become. In the book of James, James writes as a man thinketh in their heart, so they are. Here’s the key, my friends. In the Bible the word heart is often used as a metaphor for what we now understand to mean the subconscious mind. Think about the implications of this, my friends. The subconscious mind is formed, according to most experts, by the time we turn eight years old which means that my subconscious mind in the context of relationship, trust, privacy, confidence, all those matters of character development from a very young age, in that incident with Candice Naylor, were formed in second grade unbeknownst to me.
Those moments in which I stood in front of the classroom witnessing Candice crying, witnessing my own tears, witnessing the embarrassment, feeling that I had been cheated, feeling there had been a violation of trust, feeling that I had been lied to, feeling that I had been set up, feeling that I had been cheated on, those types of emotions, although I could not justify nor fully explain them in the innocence of a second grade mind yet, nevertheless, they formed the perspective through which I viewed the world and, sadly, subsequent relationships, that incident in second grade played out in the unraveling of my marriage and many other very loving relationships, that’s because I was unaware, for the longest time, of the impact of that incident. It took some deep meditation, some deep contemplation, it took many, many hours in the silence of the presence of Father God in heaven for me to recall that event and for me to see critically how that event was continuing to impact the quality of my life today as an adult.
Now, the good news is that Scripture provides us a specific Bible verse that can help to purify and cleanse our heart, our subconscious mind. I want to give you the context for who wrote this Bible verse. The author of this Bible verse is one of my absolute heroes. The author of this Bible verse is none other than the David as in the story of David and Goliath, an absolute warrior. What I love about David is David had the two qualities that every warrior must strive to cultivate. David had unshakeable faith in God, and he was willing to work his faith.
When I talk about this principle of making faith work and working your faith, the analogy I often use is in the CrossFit gym. We could have a potential athlete come into the gym, and then we could spend hours explaining the methodology, the science, the art of CrossFit. They could have a wealth of information, knowledge about CrossFit. However, all that knowledge will not help them in the least bit in the development of their physical capacity until they start to do CrossFit.
We can talk about pull-ups but in order to get your first pull-up you simply have to get on the bar and start doing pull-ups. That, my friends, has been my experience with spiritual development, with gaining deeper levels of intimacy with God. We can learn about God, however, we ultimately need to apply the lessons that God is desirous of knowing in our life in order to have our faith come alive for us.
So we have to have both an unshakable faith in God, and we have to be willing to have the courage in ourselves and in the presence of God in our life, and therefore, work our faith in our life in order to see the fulfillment of the amazing life, the amazing make up, the amazing purpose that God has in store for us.
David, in later years of his life, wrote nearly half of the book of psalms. One of those Scriptures, one of those psalms that David wrote I want to share with you, and I challenge you, I encourage you, my friends, to commit this to memory at the cellular level, own this, embody this truth. Here we go. Create in me a clean heart, oh, God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Wow. Let me repeat that for you. Create in me a clean heart, oh, God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
In other words, in the first half of that psalm David is saying, “God, purify, cleanse, uplift, renew, restore the quality of my thinking.” David is saying, “God, if there is any thought that I may not even be aware of in my mind or my subconscious mind, meaning that part of my intellect, that part of my thinking, that part of my perception of my reality that I may no longer even be aware of, if there is a thought that is no longer serving me, oh, God, then purify my mind, create in me a clean mind, oh, God. Then put a new and right spirit within me.”
This is so beautiful, this order of events, to purify, to cleanse the mind then. Then when the mind is clear we invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into our renewed mind and so that we can see through the eyes of Christ, and so that our perception of the world, our perspective, the way we view the conditions of our life can be seen through the Holy Spirit, through the eyes of Christ. Remember the Bible tells us we can do all things through Christ who is in us. That means, my friends, that we can see the world through the lens, through the perspective, through the eyes of Christ once our mind is renewed, once our mind is purified, once our mind has been restored into a vessel, a temple, a holy shrine for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that powerful, my friends?
The good news here is that we don’t necessarily have to spend years and years and thousands of thousands of dollars in therapy trying to recall, trying to recollect, trying to reconcile with every incident of our life that may have resulted in any impure perception or perspective or way of viewing the world. We don’t have to bother with that. And, quite frankly, as warriors, we don’t have time. We’ve got to get to work in the world. We’ve got to start to be of service to our community, to our family, to our friends, to our loved ones. Yet, the only way to authentically serve as my dear friend and longtime mentor Mark Divine would say is to master ourselves.
Part of the mastery process, undoubtedly, the most important part of that process is mastery of our mind. Yet, if our mind is unruly, if we cannot control the quality of our thinking, if our mind is running rampant, then how can we ever hope to master ourselves, let alone be of service to other people. And that’s why I love the power of this Bible verse because we’re asking in one fell swoop God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, cleanse my mind, purify my mind, renew my mind, restore my mind, strengthen my mind. Then, Father God, create in me a new heart, put a new and right spirit within me, meaning put within me, oh, God, a new right way of thinking.
Now, to correlate this to the lessons of Jesus Christ, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be fulfilled.” In other words, my friends, Jesus was saying blessed are you who really desires to think righteously, meaning blessed are you who chooses to use your thinking in the most productive, constructive way. In the words of Mark Divine this is saying no less than blessed are you who choose, and desire, and hunger, and thirst to feed the dog of courage for that dog of courage will be fulfilled. And upon fulfillment, mastery begins to take place in your life, then you begin to serve other people, that you begin to fulfill the very purpose of your life. It all begins in the temple of our mind, it all begins in those critical six inches between our years, my friends. That’s the power of this Bible verse.
And let me give you some insight, some perspective on the authorship of this psalm because very often what I found in my life is that when I aspire to be like someone such as one of my mentors, when I look up to one of my mentors I naturally desire to aspire to that quality of being. There’s a trait in that person that I want to reflect in my own life.
So many of the great scholars of our time remind us time and time again that we are the byproduct of the five people we associate most of our time with. Here’s something brilliant, my friends, to consider. Those five people whom you associate with do not need to still be living. For example, one of the people I associate with is Jesus Christ. I spend time with Jesus Christ because I aspire to be like Christ. Another mentor whom I look up to, who I try to recreate through the quality of their words and deeds in my life is David, the figure from the Bible that had the power of the Holy Spirit profoundly upon them.
Let me take you back in time to a story that I love to recreate in my imagery and a story that I love to share. I want to share with you this story perhaps in a slightly new way, bringing in a bit more historical context that can help us really hold David in the highest regard and inspire us to the greatest degree to commit to memory this Bible verse I have challenged you with.
When David arrived on the battlefield, David arrived not as a soldier. David arrived as a brother for three of his brothers were on the battlefield as soldiers. David had arrived that day coming from the shepherd’s field to deliver food to his brothers. You see, David was not one of the thousands of soldiers on the battlefield that day. However, and much more important, David was a warrior.
When David arrived on the battlefield there was such fuss towards the front of the battle line. David walked to the front of the battle line to see what all the fuss was about, and what he saw was a giant. According to Scripture and different accounts of Goliath on the field of battle that day, he could’ve been up to nine feet tall. Most historical records are in agreement he was over six foot eight. Goliath was covered head to toe in bronze armor. He had a spear, a javelin over six feet tall. In addition, Goliath had a shield bearer who was walking and standing in front of him.
So imagine this, a six foot eight giant with a six foot javelin, with a shield bearer standing in front of him. That had to be a fearsome sight. In fact, we know it was a fearsome sight for every single soldier when challenged by Goliath for single combat was terrified and did not accept the challenge. However, David immediately did.
David said, “I can take this giant.” David then went to King Saul and said, “King, I request permission to fight Goliath.” Well, we know what happened next. Reluctantly, the king granted David permission to fight Goliath. David went to a small stream near the battlefield. He spent some time in solitude in the presence of God while gathering five stones. He placed those five stones into his pouch, then David began not to walk towards Goliath, David ran towards Goliath. And while running towards Goliath David said, “I come to you in the name of God, and surely I will bring you down.” What a perfect example of faith and works in action.
And what’s interesting to note, it’s always in that specific order. David said, “I come to you in the name of Jehovah,” a traditional Jewish name for God. I come to you in the name of God, thus faith. I come to you in faith in God. And I will surely bring you down. That’s action. As he is saying this he is simultaneously drawing a rock, a smooth river stone from his pouch. He’s placing that pouch into the net, the webbing of his sling. He is starting to accelerate the momentum of the swing in his hand, and then he loses the rock. His aim is perfect. One shot, one kill, the motto of the modern-day sniper. That rock hits Goliath in the one critical place on his body where there was no ornament, right between his eyes. That shot brings Goliath crashing to the ground.
Here is what is seldom known about this story. On the battlefield that day there were 700 other trained soldiers who would have had the training and the ability to lose that same stone with the same accuracy. You see, the weapon that David was armed with, the sling, was not only a tool for the shepherd in which David could use the mighty power of that weapon to defend against any threat to his flock. It was also a weapon that was utilized in Israelite army. There were 700 soldiers on the battlefield that day armed with the sling that, according to Scripture, had the same skill and ability to fire that same shot, yet they lacked faith. They potentially had the works, the ability to fire the shot, yet they lacked faith. Isn’t that incredible?
That’s the power that David possessed. That’s why he can be held in such high regard because what we see, my friends, when we reflect on those people that make it through the most intense crucibles of their life is they have a perfect combination of faith and works. Reflecting on the crucibles of my life ranging from Kokoro Camp to the incredibly enduring 30-day assessment and selection course I went through while an agent with the DEA when I was testing for the equivalent of their SWAT team, the difference in every single crucible I’ve been through between those people that make it and those that do not has very little to do with the physical body, meaning very little to do with the potential for works. It has everything to do with what’s taking place between the ears and the mind. It has everything to do with faith.
And then we come back full circle to the power of the psalm that David in later years, many, many years after this incident with David and Goliath, David writes the psalms, writing and so that other people could have the insight into the experiences that he had by the mercy and grace of God, one of which was this incredible battle with Goliath.
And what he teaches us is that in order to authentically live in the fullness of the purpose in which God created us to manifest and unfold during our lifetime we have to have a clean mind, a pure, righteous spirit, we must possess a clean heart. Therefore, David writes a psalm which we can all commit to memory. In many respects, this is the battle rhythm, this is the marching cadence, this is the battle cry of the modern-day warrior. Create in me a clean heart, oh, God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Well, my friends, thank you for joining me today. And I really encourage you, my friends, I really challenge you to repeat that verse, repeat that Scripture over and over in your mind. Whisper it to yourself in silence, let it percolate through every cell of your body, let that sink deep into not just your conscious mind, let that seep into your heart, into your subconscious mind. And I promise you, my friends, based on my experience and the experience of hundreds of people I have coached and encouraged to commit that Bible verse to memory, you will see a profound positive difference in the quality of every department of your life.
My, friends I pray that God would bless you and keep you safe. And I will talk to you again soon right back here 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.
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Show Notes: Episode 16 “Welcome to Faith Works Ministries”
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 unshakable faith in God.
Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode 16 of The Greg Amundson Show. My friends, I am super pumped about today’s show because we are going to drop in on a ministry that I gave at my gym, CrossFit Amundson, located in Santa Cruz, California at the inaugural Faith Works Ministry. Several months ago, God put on my heart two really monumental ideas. I knew these were inspired ideas because I was unable to think of ideas this big and this bold on my own. These were inspired ideas that God placed on my heart. One of them was go to ministry, go in to seminary, study my word, learn all you can about me, focus on me, Greg, focus on God, seek God first, and everything else will work out.
When I really sat with that I realized in order for me to authentically, wholeheartedly, passionately pursue God, seek God, learn all I could about God I needed to go to seminary school. I applied and was accepted into Western Seminary. The main campus is in Portland, Oregon. I’ll be attending beginning next week, the first week of September their San Jose campus. And I’ve got to tell you, I haven’t been this excited about going back into an educational system since my first day as a special agent with the DEA when I sat in the front row of the DEA Academy hungry, thirsty for the knowledge, the wisdom that would be instilled in me by those instructors.
Now, several years later, I’m going back to school, and I assure you, I will be in the front row hungry and thirsty to learn all I can from the amazing instructors, ministers, pastors, chaplains that are employed by Western Seminary. I am so excited.
Now, the other monumental idea that God put on my heart was start right away. When you’re passionate about something, the inclination is to share that passion with other people. Quite frankly, that is exactly what Coach Glassman realized in me and many other athletes that were under his tutelage and coaching in the very early days of CrossFit. Glassman would tell me after I left the gym, “Hey, kid, when you get home knock on your neighbor’s door and teach them how to squat.” You see, Coach Glassman realized something really important very early on, and that is the best way to learn anything is to share it with someone else.
I spent 17 years sharing my love for CrossFit. I literally knocked on my neighbor’s door, then I knocked on the doors of law enforcement departments, of military academies, I have knocked on thousands of doors over the last 17 years sharing my love for CrossFit. I realized recently, wow, I need to start knocking on my neighbor’s door and teaching them about Christ because that, my friends, is really what it’s all about. It’s about strengthening our relationship with God, strengthening our relationship with Jesus Christ. That is when we can really tap into a part of ourselves that may have perhaps been dormant.
There’s something I love. It takes place in the CrossFit gym every few weeks. Someone gets their first rope climb. Someone gets 15 feet off the ground, and my goodness, they’re so excited. Sometimes they forget they’re on the rope, they want to start clapping their hands in joy because they accomplished something they did not realize they were capable of. They tapped into their physical strength. They realized, physically, how strong they we’re.
And being physically strong is great. I’ve been pursuing physical strength my whole life yet that’s just scratching the surface of the real strength each and every one of us has at our disposal, and that is the strength that God has in us.
So needless to say I am extremely excited about going into seminary school, and I’m extremely excited about today’s episode because we are going to my CrossFit gym not for a lecture on CrossFit but for a ministry on one of my favorite stories from the Bible, David and Goliath.
This ministry was given at the inaugural Faith Works Ministry which is a ministry that I started within my CrossFit gym. It’s my hope and prayer that there will be other Faith Works Ministries that pop up within CrossFit gyms around the country. The premise of Faith Works Ministries is very straight forward. We began with a workout, then I lead a ministry, and I deliver the ministry in a very unique way, through the perspective of the modern-day warrior, inspiring people to become a modern-day warrior, and using the example of the life of Christ as the epitome of the true warrior.
Then following the ministry, we share a meal together. That combination of exercise-ministry meal is profound. The first Faith Works Ministry was absolutely awesome. The premise, the goals, the intention behind Faith Works is this: Number one, first and foremost, develop faith in God by forging strength in our mind, body, and spirit, number two is integrate physical fitness into worship of God, number three, educate and inspire people to realize straight up, my friends, that faith works. It’s as simple as that. Faith works.
And the reason that our first ministry was so important is that the story of David and Goliath really sets the stage for where the ministry is going because David certainly had an unshakable faith in God yet David was also a warrior, and he worked his faith.
Well, my friends, without further ado, in the words of my dear friend and longtime mentor, Coach Greg Glassman, we are headed to my gym, Santa Cruz, California, for the inaugural Faith Works Ministry. Three, two, one, go.
What’s really special is I shared with you all the inception of Faith Works Ministry, down on the beach with a dear friend of mine, joining hands, invoking the presence of the Lord into the workout, and that man is now seated right here. I firmly believe that at the right time, at the right place God opens doors for us, God brings people into our life who can speak a word of truth.
God brought Robert into my life and God brought me into Rob’s life, we believe that wholeheartedly. Robin and I have been sharpening each other. In many respects, this ministry that we’re developing started that day on the beach with Robert and I and his brother, Eric, holding hands because when we prayed that day something changed. We felt the presence of the Lord in our life in a profound way, and we knew the more often we pray together the more often we can join hands in prayer the stronger we will be, not just our physical strength which is easy to develop, that’s easy.
Anyone that comes in off the street, within a few months of doing CrossFit can become physically strong, that’s easy, yet that physical strength, as we’ll learn today, will only take us so far. We knew that the real strength that we needed to develop was in here, in our heart, in our mind, in our soul, and that the only way to get strong in that manner that makes a difference is this: Prayer, closing our eyes, inviting the presence of the Lord into our awareness, into our heart, into our mind. So Rob, thank you, and thank you for being here today.
Many years ago when I was starting off in the warrior profession, which I am passionate about — I love warriors. I’m a warrior, you are all warriors. I love being in the company, in the presence of warriors. When I was starring in that profession one of my mentors said to me, “Greg, if you tell me the truth, I will believe you. You tell me a fact, I will listen. However, if you share with me a story, then I will remember.” My goal today is that we would integrate stories into the ministry and so we can remember, so that can share, so that we can learn, so that we can grow.
I want to take you back and share a series of stories, and through the use of storytelling we’re attempting today to identify a warrior, the qualities of a warrior, specifically the qualities of a warrior that are told to us in the holy Bible because that’s the type of warrior that I want to be. Undoubtedly, that’s the type of warrior that each one of you wants to be as well, a warrior that stands the test of time.
We go back and we study first a warrior from the Spartan tradition because the Spartans were an amazing warrior tradition. We study specifically one warrior named King Leonidas. King Leonidas was incredible, the courage, the bravery, the fortitude that he had was second to none. In fact, he was able to rally the support of 299 other Spartans who undoubtedly knew that when they marched into battle that would be their final stand yet, nevertheless, they agreed to follow that king.
They said, “We will go to the gates of Thermopylae. We will defend everything that we love against an invading army that completely outnumbers us, that will undoubtedly kill each and every one of us,” yet they agreed to go. And as they marched towards the danger, coming the other direction, fleeing for their life was everyone who these Spartans were going to defend.
One of these people as they fled by the king said, “King, you’re going the wrong way. You’re going towards the enemy. Do you know how many there are? Do you have any idea how many your Spartans are marching against?” And the king said loud enough so that the other Spartans could hear him, the king said, “A warrior does not ask how many are the enemy. A warrior asks where is the enemy.”
And to this day not much has changed. Those of you that are serving in the warrior profession, that’s the question we ask, where is the danger. I move towards the sound of danger, I thrive in that environment, that’s the calling of the warrior. Why do we move towards danger? Well, we move towards danger because inherently there’s someone else moving away from it. We have to fill that gap, we have to be willing to take a stand to say that not through me, not through me. I’m willing to take a stand to make a difference for my family, for my friends, for my community. That’s the essence of the warrior, not how big is the challenge, what’s the challenge. Not how many are the enemy, where is the enemy.
Now we turn to the Bible for one of my favorite stories that really captures the essence, epitome to me of a warrior, and we look to this warrior specifically because in addition to seeing the incredible faith in God that this warrior has, what this warrior did in many respects was faith works. He had fait, profound faith, yet he also knew he had to work his faith through tactics, through strategy, through technique. That’s faith works.
My friends, I’m talking about none other than the epic battle of David versus Goliath. I see some people nodding their heads. Those of us that know the story — this is an amazing story. Here’s the setting, my friends. There’s an army against an army, yet the defending army is severely outnumbered, and in the invading army there is a renowned beast of a man named Goliath.
It’s accounted that Goliath was likely 6 feet 8 inches tall, and that day he is armed with a lance and a sword, covered head to toe in armor. It’s a bright sunny day on that battlefield. And this armor is designed to reflect the sun, to blind the opponent. That’s a formidable sight.
And Goliath is not just standing there. He is taunting the opposing force saying, “Ha-ha, the battle lines of God have been drawn.” He’s taunting them saying, “Come and take it. Come and get me. Who will fight me?” And everyone there that day on that battlefield is trembling.
And then along comes David. And what’s interesting about the arrival of David is David was not going there that day to fight. He was going to bring food to his three brothers who were in the fight. He was simply going to help in a way that he could. He was going to bring food to the frontline. He arrives on the battlefield and he hears the taunting that’s taking place, and he thinks to himself, “No, no, no, there will be no taunting today. There will be no disrespect today.” And he moves towards the sound of the taunting, he moves towards the frontlines of the battle, and he identifies — he clearly sees Goliath. David was a small guy with a big heart.
He sees Goliath and he says, “I can take this guy. I’ve got what it takes. I can bring this giant down.” And goes to the king and he says, “I can take it. I have it. I believe in myself, in my ability to succeed. I believe God is in me. I can take down this giant.” And the king says, “You, you can take down this giant?” David says, “Absolutely. In fact, I’ve taken down lions and bears who had my sheep in their mouth. I took them down and I can take down this Goliath as well. In fact, it’s easy, I got this.”
And the king said, “Very well. You can take Goliath, however, you can’t go into battle wearing that.” He’s wearing the robes of a shepherd. “You can’t go into battle like that. You need armor.” He gave him armor, he gave him armor. He said, “Put this on.” Anyone that’s worn body armor knows that can be a bit cumbersome. David puts on the armor, he straps the belt around his waist, puts the sword in the sheathe, and he’s walking like this. He’s like, “I can’t possibly fight wearing on this garb, all this nonsense,” specifically he says, “I can’t fight in this because I’ve not proven it. I haven’t tested this armor.”
So he takes it off and he goes down by the river. He identifies five rocks, smooth rocks. He reaches into the river and he takes those rocks, he puts them in his pouch. And then he doesn’t just walk towards Goliath. He runs. He identifies Goliath and he runs, and he runs fast. And why can he run fast? Because he’s not weighted down. He trusts in his training, he trusts in his tools, and he trusts in God, and he runs right towards Goliath as Goliath is taunting him. He runs right towards Goliath.
And I want to specifically read to you what he says. This is so important to understand that as he’s running towards Goliath, as he’s running into the battle for his life and the lives of all those whom he will defend against here are his words, “I am coming to you. In the name of Jehovah, I shall certainly take you down.” Boom. One shot, one kill right between the eyes.
Oftentimes the story of David and Goliath is like, ah, the wimp takes down the giant. David was no wimp. He was a highly trained warrior. It’s estimated ballistically that the shot that he fired from his sling was equivalent to a modern 45 caliber handgun round placed right here between the eyes. That is a warrior. He ran towards the sound of danger with the certainly that he would prevail. He used his words in a self-affirming way. I am coming for you, and certainly, I shall take you down. That, my friends, is a warrior.
We have here — I thought it would be fitting — body armor. We have a Kevlar helmet, we have a belt that many of us have trained in here in the gym, we have a sword. The reason I brought in the artifacts of the warrior is it is so easy to identify the pursuit of the warrior with the external gratification.
Externally we recognize these are the tools of a warrior, yet these are the same tools that were offered to David and he denied them. No body armor, no helmet, no sword. He went into battle without that armor. So what armor was he wearing? What armor did he bring with him into the fight that day? What I propose is that the armor that he carried with him into battle that day is the same armor that we need to fit ourselves with every day.
We go, again, to the Bible. The Roman army was wrecking havoc against the followers of Christ. Paul, therefore, was in an opportune position to create a metaphor between this armor and this armor. And he wrote letter and he said, “Be weary of armor that you choose to put on.” I’m going to read you specifically what he said that day, it’s here on the whiteboard. I love using the whiteboard. The whiteboard can be used for a workout and for ministry. Isn’t that awesome?
He says, “Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” Let’s identify the significance of each one of these. The belt of truth. What does the weightlifting belt do for us in the gym? The weightlifting belt in the gym, it serves a very, very important purpose. We put the belt around our waist, we take a deep breath in and singe it in and so that that as we exert force our core has something to press against. That’s the reason for the belt is so that as we exert force with our body on the expansion of our abdomen we’re passing into the belt. It keeps our back and our core safe and strong and stable.
So first he says, “Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around you waist.” And then he says, “With the breastplate of righteousness.” The breastplate of righteousness, the breastplate was a very important part of the Roman armor. The breastplate protected the heart, no different than modern body armor. In fact, modern body armor has extra protection around the breastplate protecting our heart, yet Paul is saying, “It’s not this armor. It’s the armor of God. The breastplate of righteousness.”
And here’s what’s so important, my friends. In the Bible the word righteousness means right thinking, the ability to conduct the affairs of our mind righteously, to think positively, constructively with faith under all circumstances even when facing Goliath. How did David speak? With righteousness.
Next, with the feed fitted, with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. We all undoubtedly have on our training shoes, Reebok, Nike, laced up ready for battle. And Paul is saying, “It’s the feet fitted with the gospel that can lead us into battle,” that’s the readiness we have to aspire for.
Here’s where it gets really exciting metaphorically for the warrior. Paul says, “Take up the shield of faith.” That’s so important to understand, the shield of faith. What the shield did for the warrior, the shield did not protect the warrior holding the shield. The shield was used to protect the warrior on the left or right. Metaphorically, isn’t that beautiful? As I take up my sword and my shield, I’m not using my shield to protect me. I’m protecting you and I’m protecting you, and you’re protecting me and you’re protecting me. So we protect each other with the shield.
Metaphorically, the shield does something very, very important. The shield creates space. The shield was held just offset from the body. And in that space, the warrior had the ability to see the battle clearly. If that shield collapsed around the warrior their vision was skewed. They can’t see anything. So the shield also created space.
That’s so important to understand because as we use the shield of our faith we can use that shield to protect ourselves and each other. We can also use that shield to create a little bit of space, and in that space, that is when we can invite in and be aware of the presence of God, in that space.
It gets better still, it gets better still. The helmet of salvation, Kevlar. Who served in the military? One of the first things we want to do is take this off. No one wants to wear a helmet. No one wants to wear a Kevlar. In fact, in many training battalions it’s a real privilege when you get to go with what’s called soft cap. Kevlar off, soft cap on. Oh, thank goodness. Yet this Kevlar protects our head, our brain housing group as we refer to in the warrior tradition.=
The helmet of salvation is protecting our mind. This helmet will not protect you. This Kevlar will not protect you. What will protect you is the helmet of salvation which is the word of God. Our ability to invite the word of God into our mind, that is what will protect us.
It gets better still, it gets better still. The sword of the spirit which is the word of God. So these are the component. It’s here on the whiteboard. Imagine we’re briefing the workout and I’m briefing the stations of the workout. We want to know the stations that we go to in the workout to maximize our performance. These are the qualities of the modern-day warrior. That’s the battle rhythm, that’s the battle plan.
This is part of every military tradition, of every warrior tradition. Since the beginning of recorded time, warriors gather around, they agree on the plan, they agree on the rules of engagement, they devise a strategy, they utilize tactics, they bring to bear their full training. This, my friends, is the modern-day battle plan, this is the modern-day strategy, the tactics that we can utilize to be David in the face of the Goliaths of our life.
What so important to understand is that oftentimes Goliath is not out there, we’re not facing the Goliath out there. Where are the Goliaths that we’re oftentimes facing? Exactly. Right here, the Goliath of our mind. Our own thinking can severely limit us which is why Paul is saying, “Lean not on these tools. Lean on the very word of God. Lean on the presence of God. Lean on prayer. Lean on the love that God has for each and every one of us.”
Who’s heard of a fortified tower, fortified tower? A fortified tower is a very, very important part of the warrior tradition. There were two elements of defense for a city that was defending against an invading army. The first line of defense was the gates of the city, first line of defense. The second line of defense was the fortified tower. Some interesting qualities about the fortified tower. The fortified tower was located in the middle of the city walls and so that no matter where on the city walls the population had to be it was equal distance retreat to the fortified.
In the event the city was invaded an alarm would sound. Everyone would move within the safety and the security of the city walls. That was their first line of defense. They would retreat to the city walls. And from there they would make their first stand, not the final stand, the first stand. If the city walls were breached another very distinct alarm would sound. In that moment everyone would retreat further into the fortified tower. And they knew, if they could retreat into the safety and the security of the fortified tower, from there they would prevail.
That is why in many cities to this day we see no city wall yet a fortified tower, it remains to this day. That is how strong the fortified towers were built. They were made to defend and prevail against the onset of an overwhelming attack, the fortified tower.
Historically, there was one phenomenal warrior population that neglected the fortified tower. It was the China rule. They spent 200 years building the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China stand over 5500 miles. It would take you 18 months to walk along the Great Wall of China. In some parts of the wall it was 25 feet tall and 30 feet wide. They had things in reverse order in order to defend against the threat who, at that time, was the invading Mongol force.
They had nine military outposts, not fortified towers. The outposts were on the other side of the wall, the wrong side of the wall. They were the first line of defense. They were designed to warn against the invading Mongol army. And in an event there was an invasion everyone will retreat to the safety, the security, the perceived security of the wall, yet the wall was effortlessly, easily breached, not breached in fact, a gate was open, and the Mongol army rode on in. The gate that the Mongol army rode in was estimated to be four feet, four feet wide. It was a gate that was built in the wall to allow peasants to come and go. One spy opened the gate, and the Mongol army rode in unopposed.
This, my friends, is a beautiful metaphor for the power of this because what this army did in all their greatness, in all their strategy, in all their training, this was a phenomenal — the Great Wall of China is one of the great wonders of the world, that’s an amazing accomplishment, yet for all that work someone opened a door and the Mongol army rode on in.
So what we find is that this wall like this armor will not stand the test of time. This armor, the helmet of salvation, our heart, the presence of God, that is our fortified tower. So if we’re putting our faith, if we’re putting our trust in the external realities of the world, in just the wall or the instruments that we think will protect us, we are on a slippery slope because we can be defeated by our own thinking.
Yet, if we’re reversing the tendency of our mind to attach on to external reality and gratification, if we’re focusing on what will be the same yesterday, today and forever — sound familiar? God — then we can do all things, then everything and anything is possible with the presence of God. So it’s not about these tools. It’s about this, prayer, fellowship, asking God into our life, that’s when things get extraordinarily exciting.
Tools and tactics for modern-day warrior, this is a huge part of Faith Works Ministry. It’s so easy to rally energy, it’s so easy to rally momentum and enthusiasm, yet what do we do when we leave. The example would be imagine if someone rolled into the gym right now and they’re like, “Oh, I heard you guys just did a CrossFit workout,” we could tell that person all about CrossFit, yet ultimately in order for that person to have any semblance of an idea about what we just did, what will they have to do? They’re going to have to do some squats, some pull-ups and some push-ups otherwise it’s just theory. They have to experience what we just did in order to understand oh, that works. If I keep doing that, that’s going to make a difference. That works.
Same thing with God. We can talk about the presence of God, we can get excited about this ministry and about going forward as ambassadors and sharing the word, yet we also need tactics and tools and strategies. And that’s what’s so important about sharing the story of David and Goliath, is David had overwhelming faith in God, extraordinary faith in God, yet, in addition to his faith, he worked, he united his faith with his works.
He didn’t just marched towards Goliath blindly. He knew what he was doing, and that is extraordinarily powerful. When we use our faith in God and we have tactics and tools and techniques to further experience that faith in our life, then we are utilizing faith and works to their fullest extent. In the book of James it says faith without works is dead. You show me your faith by your works, and we can do that here and you can do that in every department of your life.
One of the tools that I want to teach you is a tool that you’ve had with you since the day you were born. This is one of the most important tools to invoke into your gaining intimacy with God. So the question I want to ask you is a question that was asked to me years ago by one of my mentors. How many of you know how to breathe? Julie was holding her breath. Raise your hand if you know how to breathe. I would hope every hand goes up, if not, we’ve got a major problem. Every one of you knows how to breathe because you’re breathing right now.
So in 2008 I was going through the DEA Academy, brand new special agent. A gentleman named Col. Dave Grossman, one of the most amazing warriors of our time, asked me that same question. He was giving a lecture to all these future special agents about mindful breathing. And he asked us a question. How many of you know how to breathe? And there I was leaning back in my chair, arms crossed. I’m like, “Who does this guy think he is asking me if I know how to breathe? Does he know who I am? Does he know I’m a CrossFit athlete? Does he know who I am?” My ego just flared up, and I did not listen to what he taught me that day.
Thankfully, two years later in Encinitas, California another amazing warrior leader, Mark Divine, 20-year Navy SEAL, asked me the same question. I’m standing on what’s called The Grinder, getting ready to go through what’s known as SealFit, a 50-hour full immersion course designed to mimic or exceed the first 50 hours of Hell Week. And he asked me before I began and before the other candidates began, “How many of you know how to breathe?” And in that moment I knew God was giving me an amazing opportunity.
In law enforcement we say that if people whom you respect ask you the same question more than once, that’s a clue. I needed to grab a clue that I did not know how to breathe. And so in that moment I said to myself, “I have no clue how to breathe. Mark, teach me.” Well, it turns out that Mark taught me the exact same breathing technique that two years earlier Dave Grossman had taught me. That means that two years of my life went by unaffected by the power of the practice that I’ve been taught because I did not listen, yet that day in Encinitas I paid attention, and since that day I’ve been utilizing this breathing technique with profound results.
The reason that the breath is so important — how many of you were breathing hard in that workout? I know I was. There’s the Hillsong United song that I referenced. Hillsong United, they have a song. It’s your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise, Rob and I, one of our favorite songs. And when the going gets tough in a workout, that’s what we remind ourselves. “Hey, that’s the breath of God in your lungs.” And whoa, that changes things when you breathe in the breath of God in our lungs. And that’s what it says in the Bible. God breathe into us. Through our mouth or through our nose? Through our nose. The breath of life, and that is what created you and I, the breath of life in our nose. And we utilize this tactic here in the gym and in life.
Who’s ready to breathe for the first time? Me too. So when we believe we need to put our body into the position that can optimize the breath. Just experience this. Just roll your shoulders forward in your chair, just slouch.
With that slouching posture, try to take a deep breath through your nose. How effective is that breath? Now try this. Sit up in your seat, roll your shoulders back, root your feet into the ground, lift the crown of the head towards the ceiling. Notice how just that posture almost invites the breath. Can you feel that? It just invites the breath. You’re welcoming the breath in.
Now just take a few deep breaths through your nose, and just close your eyes for a moment. In the Bible there are so many references to you and I being still. Be still and know I am God. Time and time again we’re reminded in the Bible, we can be still and God can fight our battles for us.
Now, in that stillness that you’ve cultivated with the eyes closed, just exhale deeply through the nose, let all the air out. Nice. Now, inhale for a four-count through the nose. Two, three, four. Hold the breath. Two, three, four. Then slowly exhale through the nose. Two, three, four. Hold. Two, three, four. Inhale through the nose, hold, exhale through the nose, hold. Two more rounds. Deep breath in, hold, slow breath out, hold. Good. Last round. Deep breath in, hold, slow breath out. Beautiful. Keep your eyes closed and just take a few more deep, slow breaths on your own.
Nice. And open your eyes and just notice how you feel. Notice how you feel the peace that comes with that breath, that stillness, almost like your mind has just settled a bit. There’s some stillness, some clarity. The imagery I like to use is imagine right now if we’ve gotten a boat and went out in the middle of the Monterey Bay in the middle of a storm. There we are in our boat, and we’re just being tossed around by the waves. And we took a 45-pound bumper plate with us in the boat, and we dropped that 45-pound bumper plate into the middle of the ocean in the middle of a storm. Would we see the impact of that bumper plate as it penetrated through the water? In the middle of the storm, the waves are too big. We’d see no difference, no impact when that weight hit the water.
Now imagine that we go into the water on a perfectly still day, there’s not even a ripple in the water. Now all we need is a two and a half pound plate. We can drop a two-pound bumper plate into the water and we’ll see the rippling effect. Why? Well, because the water is still. It’s the same thing with our mind. God is right there, his presence is right here at all times, yet if our mind is running a mile a minute we’re not aware of his presence yet he’s right there.
That’s the power of the breath. Even a few slow breaths can allow the sometimes turbulent mind to settle. Then the presence of God can become somewhat richer and more accessible in our life. Powerful, huh?
Well, my friends, we opened today with a prayer, and I thought it would be very fitting before we eat to close with a prayer. Prayer in any way, shape or form is very, very powerful, yet what we found when Rob and I were praying is that there is something about prayer in a circle that is extremely powerful, something about prayer on a circle.
And so let’s just take a moment to stand up, and we’re going to try to form some resemblance of a circle here in the gym, and hold hands. I’ll begin and then I’ll turn it over to anyone else that would like to pray and say a few words. And once we feel that we’ve spoken what we need to speak I’ll close our prayer. Let’s just take a moment to close our eyes. And as a group, let’s just take a deep breath in and a slow breath out. Just let’s take a moment of silence together.
God, we’re really grateful. Thank you, God, for this fellowship that you’ve created today. Thank you for turning this gym into a place where your presence can be made known. And, God, thank you for giving us a context in which we can understand your word and your presence in our life. God, thank you for keeping us all safe today, for helping us to develop strength in our mind, body, and spirit. God, it is our collective intention that the strength that we develop would ultimately be used to make people more aware of you, and at the strength that we develop would be used to be of greater service to each other, God.
God, we just pray that you would continue to make yourself known to us. We’re all desirous, God, of greater levels of intimacy with you, greater friendship, greater love, greater understanding. We want to follow you, God, and we’re just hungry and we’re thirsty for your presence in our life. And, God, you tell us in the Bible through your son Jesus Christ that those who hunger and thirst are blessed for they will be fulfilled. God, we’re just asking that you would fulfill us. Make your presence known, God.
Well, my friends, I sincerely hope you enjoyed the inaugural Faith Works Ministry at my gym in Santa Cruz, California. Faith Works Ministry meets on the first Sunday of every month at my gym in Santa Cruz. And every ministry will be recorded and available here on The Greg Amundson Show. If you are local to the Santa Cruz area, you are welcome to attend the live events. If not, you can hear the ministry right here on The Greg Amundson Show.d
My friends, I would like to take a moment to pray for you. I’ve been so inspired recently by my dear friend, my yoga teacher, Rolf Gates. I’ve mentioned Rolf before. Rolf is a really interesting guy, former Army Ranger, world champion wrestler, best-selling author, expert on meditation, world-renowned yoga teacher, just an incredible guy. What drew me to Rolf was what I anticipated to be a very robust physical practice of yoga. After all, he was a champion wrestler and an Army Ranger. Yet what I discovered is the practice that God really wanted Rolf to share with me was the inner work of the warrior known in yoga as pratyahara, turning the attention inward, seeking first the kingdom of God which, of course, is within you and within me, within all of us.
I really appreciate the great mentorship that Rolf gives me to this day. In fact, Rolf preview, Rolf and I are working on a book together. More on that later because that is going to be an amazing contribution to the world of yoga and spirituality. I’m really excited about that project.
The reason I mentioned Rolf is Rolf taught me a prayer, it’s a prayer that I always began and end every yoga class that I teach with. You’ve heard this prayer before here on the show. I would like to pray this sacred prayer again.
My friends, I pray that you would be safe, I pray that you would be happy, and I pray that you would be healthy. I pray that you would discover your freedom, that you would find enduring peace. I pray that you would walk through the world with ease.
Well, my friends, until we speak again here on The Greg Amundson Show. Take care, God bless you, and I’ll speak to you soon.
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.
[0:50:53] End of Audio
Show Notes: Episode 15 “Special Guest Joshua Mantz”
Greg: Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode 15 of The Greg Amundson Show. I’m so grateful, I’m stoked, I’m happy, I feel very blessed to be able to introduce this show to you, because in the introduction of today’s show, I’m also introducing you, my friend, to one of my best friends, seated across from me, here and now, Joshua Mantz. By way of introduction, let me set the stage for you with my friend Josh. Josh was shot and killed by an enemy sniper in Iraq. Well, that went thinking for a moment. Josh was shot and killed by an enemy sniper in Iraq. Yet, you heard me correctly, I am introducing you to Josh. Josh is seated across from me right now.
So without further ado, let me introduce Josh, and we want to set the stage for you. Josh and I have been on cloud nine since last weekend. We had an opportunity for just a remarkable experience. We were in the company of people that Josh and I both consider heroes. We’re in their company, and as a result of that weekend, so many doors have been opening for Josh and I, and for the collective group that was formed. So let me turn this over to Josh because I want Josh to talk about this weekend, and then we’re going to get more into learning about this great man, this hero, Joshua Mantz.
So Josh, take it away brother. Where were we last weekend? Tell them what happened out there.
Josh: Hey, thanks, Greg. First, thank you for having me on the show, man. I’m not only a friend, but I consider you one of my deepest mentors and inspirations as well. The work that you’re doing is just phenomenal.
Greg: Thank you.
Josh: So I’m just very humbled to be with you here and doing this. Yeah, what an experience last week at the TriggrCon Conference in Tacoma, Washington. Greg and I are part of this network of — we’re both very humbled to be part of this network of authors, called the Patriot Authors Network, and we were invited to go speak, give three back-to-back talks and a bunch of interviews and what not at a conference called TriggrCon, which is a weapon’s tradeshow that focuses on innovation of the arms. As you said, we were doing an interview together.
Josh: We brought in these speakers to focus on innovation of the mind.
Josh: One, the event was just phenomenal, but I think even more impressive was our opportunity to share our time with some of the other people and their company.
Greg: Well said.
Josh: I mean some of these folks, it’s just mind-blowing. We had Jay Dobyns who’s the first undercover agent to ever infiltrate Hell’s Angels. Now, you read the book No Angel, which is an international bestseller, I think it’s in about 18 different languages now, phenomenal book, and just released another one called Catching Hell which focuses on the emotional impacts of his career, which are very deep. That’s really the message he projects now is helping people understand and heal from the demands of an incredible career such as that.
Then we had Jay Redman, author of The Trident, Navy SEAL for 21 years. The guy was shot in the face by a machine gun, and literally has a T-shirt made after him. It’s a skull shirt and it’s constructed after actual CT scan of his skull, after he was shot since he’s just been doing some phenomenal work inspiring not only veterans but a slew of other people through the Overcome Academy and a lot of others in his projects.
And then we had — obviously, you were there. We had Karen Vaughn there who tragically lost her son Aaron, in combat who is a Navy SEAL, and she just gives an incredible talk. I just really, deeply appreciate her strength and her ability to at least give some semblance of peace to other people who have lost not only loved ones but their sons and daughters from combat or whatever the situation might be.
And then, of course, the founder of the network, Rob Vera. He was one of the most incredible people I know. I swear he descended upon my life from out of nowhere like an angel.
Greg: Well said.
Josh: I joke with him, kind of only half-joke, he is some kind of guardian that appeared out of nowhere. He wrote the book, a bestseller called A Warrior’s Faith that’s just a highly inspirational tale of Navy SEAL Ryan Job, who was one of the first to climb Mount Rainier blind after being wounded in combat, and it goes through his recovery and the relationship that him and his wife shared and ultimately his unfortunate death in a subsequent surgery after he was already back home.
So all of the authors in this network, we definitely share one thing, that are just some of the most incredible stories you’ll ever hear, which is one thing, but that’s not the least of it. They’re all people who have derived meaning in that suffering, derived meaning from those experiences and are now projecting very positive messages of hope in the lives of others. So I’m humbled, man. What an event. What’s your take from it?
Greg: Brother, well said. I think the most exciting introduction I had that weekend, and I told you about how amazed I was that I was going to have an opportunity to meet this person and that was Jay Dobyns. That’s because as a young DEA agent, Jay was held in the highest regard in our department. I mean he was the stuff of legends. He’s the modern-day Wyatt Earp, the epitome of a law enforcement warrior. When I found out he was part of this Patriot Authors Network and that I was going to meet him, oh man, like the nights leading up to the event I could barely sleep just to be able to be in the company of truly one of my heroes. It was just awesome.
Josh: He is a true hero, man.
Greg: He is a hero.
Josh: I think it’s worth dropping that you led Jay through his very first CrossFit workout.
Greg: Not only that, the workout, because you were there as well. It was a team.
Josh: It’s the warrior spirit, man. We kept the practice going even in Tacoma.
Greg: We did.
Josh: We found a great gym at Tacoma Strength and they let us kind of do our thing, and you led us through some pretty challenging workouts every morning before the clocks.
Greg: Well, the workout we did with Jay Dobyns that morning, that was the workout that Coach Glassman had programmed for me in December 2001. So how fitting for Jay’s first workout to be my first workout programmed by none other than Glassman.
Josh: How awesome is that. How awesome is that.
Greg: That was so cool, so cool.
Josh: Yeah, that’s incredible. What an experience.
Greg: Yeah, that was amazing, amazing. So to bring this full circle, today this show is being recorded at CrossFit Amundson in Santa Cruz. Just a few hours ago, we had the inception of Faithworks Ministries, which is a ministry that we’re launching through the gym, using the gym and using exercise as a context to develop grater intimacy with God. What’s amazing is that the day you and I met was on a live radio show. Special shout out to our dear friend, Dave Ramos.
Josh: Dave was here today.
Greg: He was here today at Faithworks Ministries. So Dave invites you and I on his radio show. You and I are essentially putting on the recording equipment while simultaneously extending our hand. “Hey, I’m Greg, I’m Josh.” And we’re live on the radio. I mean hear we are. During that radio show, this idea of Faithworks Ministries was being developed essentially live on air, and it’s just amazing that the timing of events is perfect. God’ plan always unfolds perfect because here we are recording our first podcast together, and what’s really special is that Josh, you are the first guest on The Greg Amundson Show. Super humbled and blessed to have you on the show.
Josh: That’s an honor.
Greg: Yeah, it’s awesome. And we’re recording this just a few hours after the first Faithworks Ministry of which you were a huge part of. So there’s so much synchronicity, the unfolding of events between what happened at TriggrCon, what happened today, the future events which are just around the corner for the Patriot Authors Network, really some incredible opportunities for all of us as a team. Just an immense blessing.
Josh: And it was so great to see this, your concept develop over the last couple of months. It really was this inception of an idea that started on the radio show. I remember coming down maybe a week or two after that to do a community workout with you that you’re hosting at CrossFit Amundson. I think it might have been just a whim or it just sort of happened, but it was the three evolution workout and in between the breaks of the evolutions, which might have been two minutes or so, you were launching into this deep spiritual messaging, inspirational messaging, and it was so powerful to combine that messaging in between these physical iterations. And then we just kind of naturally shared coffee and a meal together afterwards. That was really the first test run.
Josh: That just happened on a whim and it worked so well. To see it all come into fruition today, and frankly, man, I really think you were called to do this work. I think you’re at your very best today.
Greg: Thank you.
Josh: I hope to see this Faithworks Ministry modeled spreading across the country in every CrossFit gym.
Greg: I’m excited. There’s a few CrossFit gyms I’m strategically reaching out to with the hopes that they’ll create an affiliate ministry. Ideally, the long-term path as we discussed with Bob Vera is that as veterans are graduating from the program in Arizona, what is the program?
Josh: Boulder Crest.
Greg: Boulder Crest. Thank you, yes.
Josh: And in fact, we actually did a hike up Mount Rainier with the Patriot Authors at the end of TriggrCon.
Greg: I saw. With the sign, right?
Josh: With the Boulder Crest flag at base camp along with Firebreather Fitness.
Greg: Thank you very much, when fire meets ice. So what Bob and I had talked about is that when people are graduating the program, they’re asking themselves two questions, two profound questions. They’re asking themselves who am I and who is God. Those questions need the support of a group of likeminded people in order to successfully be answered. Thus, Faithworks Ministry, where if CrossFit gyms around the country can develop a Faithworks Ministry, when graduates of the program are in search and looking for answers to these questions, they can have a group of people, a network of people that can help those profound questions ultimately be answered. So Faith Works Ministries, I really see it serving the veteran community and all those people who are challenged by the effects of PTSD, which is so prevalent I the warrior profession. Yet, everyone, as you will discuss, everyone is subject to experiencing trauma in their life, and that unresolved trauma can wreak havoc on our mind and on our heart and our relationships unless it can be resolved.
Josh: Absolutely. Trauma doesn’t discriminate. It comes in many shapes and forms. It impacts all of us from every walk of life. Regardless of what our background is or how strong we think we are, all of us are susceptible to it at any time. A traumatic experience can fundamentally alter the way you believe the world should work. If that’s a really significant event or series of events, it can really start to question your central meaning of not only yourself but your faith, your spiritual awareness and your general meaning in life.
Now, one of the key facets in resolving that is a combination of wellness practices and the power of human connection, the power of each other. You’re bringing all of those together in the same workshop here. Like you said, because I think this is so important and this model is just fantastic on a lot of different fronts, but we’re having coffee again in the development of this thing and we kind of just started talking and a perfect analogy pops up. There’s this analogy that in CrossFit, or really in any sport, what’s the focus for any athlete? It’s developing the core, the core strength of their body. I think we walked out of that meetings and you know what? What if the spirit is the core, what if the soul is the core, what if the Higher Power is the core of our life? And if we’re not working on strengthening that in terms of life, then we’re either overextending ourselves, we’re looking backwards and we’re making our life a lot harder than it needs to be.
Greg: Yes. Just after that conversation, it really started. The metaphor was growing for both of us. What I recall sharing shortly after is reflecting on Coach Glassman and on the early days of my CrossFit training trying to get some semblance understanding about the program. I knew the program was working. I wanted to know how. What is happening here in these workouts? Why is it so effective? I proposed that to Coach Glassman. His mind is genius. The guy is genius. What he explained, for me it was hard to grasp and even now I’m fascinated by what he’s created. Essentially, what he said is that in order to achieve elite fitness, you have to focus on intensity. He explained that intensity was the single variable, the independent variable that maximizes the rate of return of return to favorable adaptation, which is a bit of a mouthful.
Josh: Well said.
Greg: Yeah, well said, coach.
Josh: Well said, coach.
Greg: A bit of a mouthful, but essentially, he broke it down. He’s like, look, what that means is that intensity is the secret to achieving success in the gym. You just do that one thing. That’s the independent variable that will maximize your success in the gym. In order to achieve intensity, we utilize functional movement. One of the characteristics of the functional movement is core to extremity. They radiate power from core to extremity. So now we reverse-engineer this in the context of spirituality, like, whoa! So what’s the independent variable for you and I? God.
Greg: This notion of core to extremity, well, what’s our true core? As you said, our soul, our spirit. When we focus on that one variable and strengthen that core, well, as you and I both know, that’s when things get really exciting. What’s interesting too is we don’t want the listener or someone who is interested in Faithworks Ministry to get the wrong idea. I don’t think you and I are the same. Look, when you believe in God, it’s all flowers and rainbows at that point.
Greg: Not in the least. It’s just that the context changes because we realize that our strength, no matter how strong we become is always limited to the human experience where strength in God, that’s unlimited strength. So the conditions of our life, of course, we’re still subject to life, we’re still human beings and we’ll experience the ebb and flow, the challenges, the trauma, the sadness and the joy. We’re going to experience the full spectrum of emotions as we go through life. Yet, when we have God in our life, that can be the foundation from which we can understand and ultimately navigate through every subsequent condition.
Josh: Right. It really is a refuge. It’s a journey for me and it’s a journey that I’m still on. I think a lot of us are still on it. But you brought up so many good points there. I might just share a quick part of my experience really that kind of hit me. Just up front, as Greg kind of said at the beginning, yes, I was shot and killed by a sniper, right. I flat lined for 15 minutes straight before being revived.
Josh: This was back in 2007. There’s a lot of very, very weird things that happened that day. That day, for example, they literally got their defibrillator paddles in that morning and had to take them out of the plastic to use them on me in order to revive me. If I wouldn’t have them, I would have been dead. I just happened to be only about ten minutes from the closest trauma unit. Any longer I would have been dead. I had a severed femoral artery. There just happened to be 250 plus pound former lineman who was doing chest compressions on me for the full duration of that time, pushing whatever little blood I still had through my brain to keep me alive or bring me back. But I mean, even being brought back, at that point, the medical standard when somebody flat lines, the point at which a surgeon or a doctor will typically call it is around six or seven-minute mark because that’s the point when catastrophic brain damage starts to set in.
So being dead for 15, it was a miracle that they brought me back at all to begin with. But if I woke up, they expected catastrophic brain damage. I woke up about two days late in the green zone with like no trace of it, like almost full recollection of the event just as I’m explaining now. It goes on and on. I mean there’s just so many things about that experience that are difficult to explain. But one thing that I think is really pertinent here that took almost ten years to really start to dawn on me, and this is really recent, and even I have been cognizant of it for a long time, I have perfect recollection of that experience of dying, all the way up into the point I took my very last breath. I did not have an out-of-body experience per se, like where you might see the white light or you’re floating over your body. I’m not disregarding anyone who has maybe experienced that. But we know there’s some scientific controversy over what that might be. Is it a trick of the brain? Is it a very quick dream you’re having? Is that, in fact, real and out-of-body experience? What I’m about to describe I was absolutely still conscious for it. It happened literally after I took my very last breath.
I went through this progression of dying, which in that case from blood loss really felt like suffocating. It felt like doing Fran, the CrossFit workout Fran and just not being able to stop. It’s anaerobic pain is what I was experiencing. But when I got to that last second or two, the only way that I can describe that feeling is one of absolute and complete submission to something much greater than ourselves. Frankly, I still don’t try to define what that is because it was so powerful. It’s like every good, every bad, every positive, every negative, every doubt, every hope, it all just vanishes. You’re in the hands of God. You are in the hands of something much, much higher than ourselves, however you might define God to be.
I learned at that moment, I would soon come to learn that the experience of dying was actually the most peaceful occurrence of my life. Now, the flipside of that is it took me ten years to really recognize that. It took a ten-year journey that was filled with suicidal spirals, bouts of serious depression, anxiety for a lot of different reasons. Trauma is very complex and cumulative especially when you’re viewing it through the lens of moral, spiritual, ethical wounds, which is something that our society as a whole did not do a very good job of. It’s very difficult to describe that stuff. It’s very difficult to dive that deep.
That’s the essence of what I focus on through the company Darker Souls and through the messages I have now, but that recently, and you know my background, you’ve kind of read the pre-copy of the book, one thing that I say is trauma is not always what it seems. Many people overtly kind of look at this “big traumatic experience” of getting shot down and coming back to life and almost assume that “Wow, that must be the Holy Grail of Trauma. It can’t get any worse than that. Surely, it can’t get any worse.” We have this natural tendency to compare ourselves with others’ experiences, which basically negates our own experiences.
While we have a tendency to do that, I assure you that shame and guilt do not. For me, I found out that it took me a long, long time and a lot of very deep introspection to give myself permission to understand or to acknowledge that it was everything before, everything after that was much harder for me to navigate emotionally than was the experience of dying.
I suddenly realized, and I don’t know what the trigger for this was, a couple of months ago, but it just dawned on me is that there’s a big clue staring me in the face the whole time, and it goes back to that powerful sense of submission that I experienced in my moment of death. Something that I always knew was there but never fully internalized or acknowledged how powerful that really was and frankly what a privilege it was to be able to feel that. That’s a healing of absolute mindfulness, complete and pure awareness that many people will strive for their entire lives to try to attain a state like that. The difference is I was forced into it by my injury. I realize now that maybe the greatest opportunity in life is to achieve that state and feel that experience while you are still conscious, which every single one of us has the opportunity to do.
Greg: Yes, yes. And then the question is what are the practices? What are the techniques and strategies we can utilize to experience that submission while conscious?
Josh: Well, yes, I think my biggest gateway to that and I realize I think the golden standard starts with breathwork. I think the breath is the gateway to that experience. Now, obviously, I do understand, deeply understand that I’ve been in positions before and states of minds before where I probably wouldn’t have listened to this message or wouldn’t have internalized it. I appreciate, as I know you do, what it feels like to be in a truly depressive state, what it feels like to truly be hopeless and to come out of that. That’s really the nature of my work is focusing on the resolution that as we help get people back to baseline at the point where they can internalize the power of what we’re about to talk about here, which is the breath.
I found it interesting because you not only at TriggrCon took the audiences through breathwork exercises and explained this. You also did it today as part of Faithworks Ministries. The story that you share about how Dave Grossman years ago asked you the question, “Do you know how to breathe?” And you go of course I know how to breathe. Who are you talking to? You get all arrogant. I probably had 10 people tell me to do this every day. And then a couple of years later you ran into Mark Divine and he asked you the same question. All right, there must be a pattern here.
I really had the same experience. I’ve had a couple people in my life, a couple therapists that I’ve periodically worked with who were all emphasizing the importance of the breath. For me it was actually a yoga instructor who got me to internalize it, Olivia Kvitne, who runs a program called Yoga for First Responders and exclusively does yoga that’s tailored to the first responder community. I remember being in about a three-hour session with her one day, and the way that she worded it really stuck with me. She said as you’re going through this breathwork exercise, because the key of this is being able to shut down your cognitive mind, shut down your thought processes, and just be aware. Instead of just completely negating that, can you just take that thought and set to the side for 30 seconds or a minute. Give your mind a break and you’re welcome to come back to it after.
It was this sneaky subversive way that got it to hit. It was like a nonintrusive way where I kind of gave myself permission to do that. Even though it was for a couple of seconds, I got a taste of it. I was talking to Dan Brule, our friend, our international breathwork expert, who describes it as kind of dipping his hand into this pool of water and reaching down and tasting this experience of pure awareness through the breath.
So it’s ironic that our paths have aligned in a lot different ways but also in the breathwork too. I really think that alone, one conscious breath a day has made the most fundamental impact in my life over the last probably at least six months.
Greg: That’s so important what you just said, one conscious breath a day. Dan Brule says the same thing. I’ve mentioned Dan Brule on this show as one of mutually our greatest mentors. I asked Dan after a breathwork seminar that I attended, “Dan, I want to develop a breathwork practice. How many breaths do I have to take? What constitutes a breath practice?” Thinking I’m going to have to carve out significant time in my life. I’m adding an additional practice on top of martial arts, yoga, CrossFit, prayer. Oh, my goodness. How long is this next practice going to be? Dan is like, “Ah, Greg, one breath a day is an entire breathwork practice.”
So I think it’s really important what you just said for the listener to try to embody the wisdom in that. All we’re saying is that if you are able to take one breath, by conscious breath we mean you are aware that you’re taking a breath because breath runs automatically. It’s an autonomous system in the body. Yet, we can bring awareness to the breath. We can essentially observe the breath. Then it gets exciting because well, what are we observing? Well, we can observe the quality of the breath, we can observe the feeling sensation of the breath, we could observe the length of the breath. There are so many components to the breath.
And then the breath, well, what constitutes a breath? There’s four parts to a breath. We have our inhalation. We have retention of the breath, exhalation, suspension. So in every breath, granted it’s one breath, but my goodness, there are so many opportunities even in one breath to really have an experience of these four components of the breath, and that’s just one.
Greg: It’s just exciting to think how much is in store for us with one breath a day.
Josh: The reason that I think one breath stuck with me is — and I remember this, I had a colleague of mine really pushing me to wake up and immediately just stay lying in bed and do 10 breaths. And then during this time of my life, I was just getting over a really, really bad end to a relationship. I mean, frankly, it was the worst emotional spiral that I was ever in.
I mean the anxiety that I was experiencing was crippling coupled with depression and anger. The last thing, the last thing that I was going to do was lay still in bed. I realized it’s not healthy, but we do it. So there is no way that I could buy into — not buy into, but I had a really difficult time following that guidance.
But what I did do, I was still receptive to it. It’s not like I was rejecting it altogether because I recognize the value in it even in the state that I was in. What I did instead really on my own accord is all right, I know that right now I can’t do this 10-breath sequence because I’m just straight up in an angry rage and want to go to the gym right now, but what I can do is that one breath. I can start the day with one breath. I can focus just on that. When I’m in the gym, I can maybe do another one. You know what happened, what just naturally happened? It worked. I felt that despite the emotional state that I was in, when I really did that, when I paid attention to it, to how it felt, to how it filled your lungs to the count of the retention, I noticed that I wasn’t thinking about everything else. I noticed that it was basically turning a dial down on that emotional switch. Because it naturally started to work, I naturally evolved into a more substantial breath practice, and now I incorporate it all the time. I’m sitting in traffic. I’m at the gas station. Well, a gas station is not the best place there because you’re going to inhale fumes. You know what I mean.
Greg: Understood, understood.
Josh: How do you apply it daily? Because I will say that in terms of our practice, because I’m sure we’ll get into, I do follow pretty closely the Firebreather Fitness practice, which I think is fantastic.
Greg: Thank you.
Josh: But how do you kind of find yourself getting into this?
Greg: As you and I have both experienced through the military and subsequent warrior profession training, the terminology in the warrior profession is priorities of work. This is what Stephen Covey described as putting first things first. By priorities of work, we have to put what is most important over what is least important. I turn to the Bible for direction on what is most important. The Bible says seek first the kingdom of God, number one, the kingdom of God. As you mentioned, one of the gateways to resolving trauma is the breath. What I found, one of the gateways to proximity and intimacy with God is the breath. It’s the unifying human experience.
So I begin every morning with breathwork. That beginning then creates a rippling effect to every corner of my life. I’m more likely, as I go through my day, to retain the feeling sensation of breathwork, breath awareness as I roll through my day if I make that number one. So I begin my day with breathwork, and I end my day with breathwork. Every moment in between the beginning and end of my day, when my mind is idle, I become aware of my breath. As we practice this, we simply spend more time in breath awareness.
For the spiritual devotee, the more time we spend in breath awareness, the more time we spend in the awareness of the presence of God. One thing naturally leads to another. It’s very hard to focus on God and not be aware of the breath. I think it’s very hard to be aware of the breath and not simultaneously be aware of God. Those two things are equally yoked. Two sides of the same con.
Josh: They really, aren’t they?
Josh: I also now, as part of a practice, to start with some breathwork. I do the workout and then afterwards you’re pulling out yoga and meditation. What I’ve noticed is like this is absolutely true, like just out of experience, it’s really going through a meditative practice. Even if it’s just 10 breaths, 20 breaths, whatever it is, even briefly after workout, almost every time about an hour later, two hours later something will come into my mind that is just like this wise thought. There’s like a wisdom that is derived from being in that state of pure awareness. When everything else in your mind is shut off, something comes to you.
I noticed that almost every time. Sometimes it’s something larger than others. Sometimes it’s just the minor thing like I need a follow-up for the — I have an idea about how to clarify the conversation I had yesterday with that friend. That is something.
Here’s like kind of one way that I point to, and I’d love to get your thoughts of this. I talk about that absolute state of awareness that I was kind of forced into through this near-death experience. That submission truly was the most peaceful experience of my life, indescribably peaceful. Just as it’s almost impossible to describe in human words, which are flawed, it’s almost impossible to describe this state of pure awareness that we’re talking about right now. Much like happened to yoga, there’s kind of a stigma around it. It kind of got overmarketed, and people are trying to make a ton of money off of it and people have this misperception of what the core of yoga actually is which is breathwork by the way.
It’s almost like mindfulness has become the same thing. It has become this corporate buzz word, like, oh, we all need to be mindful, we need to practice being more mindful, and we’ll slam our fist on the table and we’ll try and we’ll try. Well, the point is the second you’re trying to be mindful, you’ve already lost it.
Greg: Yes, yes, well said.
The Bible often describes the voice of God as a still small voice, as a whisper. So there’s something about the stillness that we create in our mind that subsequently leads to these insights as you describe. You achieve the surrender of your mind. You penetrate beneath the conscious mind to awareness. Then two hours later, you got this brilliant idea that undoubtedly bubbled up from that pure awareness, the still small voice of God, bubbles up through your awareness two hours later.
Josh: In a sense, I think it almost ties to the story you spoke to today of David and Goliath. Maybe you want to share it. You brought up this concept that David was supposed to go and then wear all this armor that everyone was wearing, and in the end he said, “I can’t wear this armor. It’s going to slow me down. I can’t do it.” And he ditches the armor and then goes doing something that nobody thought was possible. That came from faith. It came from realizing and acknowledging that he wasn’t in control of the situation. It’s almost like when you retreat to that refuge of the breath to that moment of awareness, it’s almost like an acknowledgment that you’re not in control, and that you’re open to that and that you’re kind of letting everything else guide you.
Again, something that I’ve definitely come into was always trying to push and fight against the grain and make things happen. Every time Greg, every time I would get ripped back down. Whether it’s a gunshot wound or a divorce or Crohn’s disease or another relationship failure or whatever, it’s like the universe is slapping me across the face and getting me back in check until I finally reach like absolute rock bottom where I was, okay, I learned my lesson now. I realized that we’re not in control. And the more that we submit to that, the more that we practice submitting to that, so it is a practice, right, the more that we strengthen the experience, the more powerful we are in every other facet.
Greg: Very well-said. There’s something I’ve mentioned on the show before, and that is that the universe or God has an interesting way of increasing the level of intensity for the lessons of our life until we learn them.
Josh: That’s a really interesting way.
Greg: We’ll have as many opportunities as it takes to learn the lesson. The path of the warrior is on developing the ability to learn the lesson at the lowest level of intensity, which can only be achieved through silence. Silence can be cultivated through the breath. So if we think about the work that you and I both really enjoy, we talk about this often in conversation, Viktor Frankl’s work.
Josh: Oh, yeah.
Greg: A Man’s Search for Meaning, required reading for the modern day warrior. What Viktor Frankl proposes is that between stimulus and response, there’s a choice. We always have an opportunity to decide how we will think about the condition of our life, which is a radical concept because the tendency of the mind is to base our emotions on the conditions of our life without realizing that the condition of our life is independent of our thinking about it. The analogy I’ve used in a yoga class is that if you and I in this moment observe here on Portola Drive, the roadway in front of the gym, a red car drive by, red Honda Accord. We both observe the red Honda Accord, we see the same circumstance, the same condition passes in front of us. It just so happens that I had my first kiss in a red Honda Accord. It just so happens that you were involved in a very traumatic car accident, you were struck by a red Honda Accord. You and I will see the red Honda Accord entirely differently. Yet, it’s the same red Honda Accord.
Therefore, what determines how we saw the Honda Accord? Our thinking about the Honda Accord. Not the Honda. Our own thinking. So, our thinking is therefore responsible for how we perceive and view the world. The only to wrap some control over our thought processes is to gain awareness of the quality of our thoughts. What I found I know Dan Brule and Mark Divine, these amazing teachers of breathwork agree on is that there’s a direct link, a perfect correlation between the quality of our thinking and the quality of our breathing. So, in those moments of turmoil and stress and anxiety, we are breathing in a manner which is only reinforcing those emotions.
The good news is that simply shifting awareness to the breath takes care of the quality of the breath on its own. Anything that we bring our awareness to is improved. This is so evident in a relationship, you just bring your awareness to the other person. Love is increased. In the gym, you bring your awareness to the skill that you’re utilizing, the skill is improved. Anything we bring our awareness to is improved automatically by just bringing awareness to it. That’s the essence of breath work, is that any given moment if you’re breathing shallow and unaware of it, just bring your awareness to the breath and all of a sudden, the length of the breath increases, the duration of the exhale increases, it just happens effortlessly just through your awareness.
Josh: Beautifully said. I think what’s so encouraging is we were talking a little bit before the show, modern day neuroscience is backing that up, beginning to back that up. The historical perspective on emotion for example is that, emotions are universal. Like wherever you go, if you and I feel angry here in the United States, somebody else in the Middle East or in Africa is going to feel the same type of anger. What neuroscience is actually proving now is that emotions are constructed based on our inputs in the world and stemming all the way back to the very day we were born for every one of us. It’s just our minds think so fast and they act so fast that these emotions feel like they’re part of us, they’re internal to us.
But this is very kind of cutting-edge stuff that the academic community hasn’t fully caught up to yet, different pockets of sciences, but it’s really going to be something to keep our eye on that I think is only going to continue to reinforce even scientifically everything that we intuitively believe and know through observation right now. So amazing.
The other point is you spoke to something that sparked a thought, a really powerful line that a therapist once told me in Monterey, California. It was this. As you speak to Frankl, and Frankl tells us in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, that without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.
Despite the truth in that statement, it can be very difficult to internalize that in the face of trauma, but where the resolution of trauma really starts to occur, like that definitive moment, is when we to derive meaning in those experiences and in that suffering. Not only do we have the capacity to derive meaning in it, then we have the capacity to grow from it. Actually, even though it might be hard to believe now if you’re in that state, there will come a point where you’ll be much, much stronger for those experiences to have a much deeper perspective, which is why Frank is such an inspiration. That is not a journey that we should take on our own.
A therapist in Monterey really put this just in such a great way — the concept of suffering productively. She told me once, I was shadowing a group session with her and she said, “Josh, I think the role of a therapist is to help people suffer productively as opposed to allowing them to suffer in vain.” Now, this doesn’t just apply to the therapeutic community. This applies to friendships. It applies to mentors. It applies to the closest people in our lives. But what we gain from each other is perspective, and that perspective can be enough to help keep us on the centerline of that highway instead of diverting off to the right or left way too far and hitting that rumple strip. It’s the process of deriving meaning in our traumatic experiences and our suffering throughout our lives whatever they are. It’s going to be painful. It’s a journey that requires you to continuously harden and overcome, as our friend Jay Redmond would say, right?
Greg: Well said.
Josh: But if we try to do that in isolation as I did, as many of us do, just naturally because what we’re feeling is just so incredibly complex sometimes that we don’t think that anyone else can resonate, every time I believe that, I ended up proving myself wrong because there’s always someone in my life who had the strength and courage to plant these seeds in my mind. But if we’re in isolation, we have the capacity to really go off and do something that might be irreversible. I was in that state more than once.
There’s a lot of people, unfortunately, that do hit that state, that state of complete hopelessness. And if there’s one message that I can project right now, resist the urge to journey down that path alone. At least give yourself the opportunity to reach out to the closest people or person in your life and give them the opportunity to prove you wrong. I can almost assure you that that phone call or that experience is going to be worth it.
Greg: Well said, brother. Well said. I think what will be really powerful for the listener is something you and I are passionate about. It’s been a huge topic of discussion today. Independently we teach this practice. It’s breathwork. In the same example I used during the Faithworks Ministry today, the example was someone comes into the gym and they want to know about CrossFit and so we tell them. They gain very little from that experience because they didn’t do it. Yet, if they did a few squats and pushups and pullups, oh, they’re going to have quite the experience now.
Well, we have talked about breathwork. How powerful would it be if we led a breath? And we’re inviting you, the listener, right here, right now to join Josh and I with this breath. What do you say, brother?
Josh: Take the lead, brother. I love it.
Greg: So for this breath, we teach to breathe through the nose. Breathe in and out through the nose. So if you’re driving right now you can continue the practice; yet, keep your eyes open while you’re driving.
Josh: I recommend that.
Greg: If you’re not driving, close your eyes. Just notice as the eyes closed inherently there’s a little bit of stillness. Notice that stillness, that silence that naturally comes with the eyes closed. Then begin to breathe through your nostrils. Just be aware of the breath. Simply watch yourself. Observe yourself breathing. Then let all the air out through the nose. Exhale. Now inhale through the nose for four counts. Two, three, four, hold the breath. Two, three, four, exhale through the nose. Two, three, four, hold the breath. Two, three, four. Nice. Open your eyes and just take a deep breath in, and a slow breath out. Josh and I are looking at each other across this table. Powerful practice.
Josh: Yeah. I almost forgot you’re here. It’s that fast.
Greg: It really is powerful. And in the Bible it says, “When two or more gather in my name, I am there also.” So think about the power that we have to take a breath with a friend, to take a breath with a loved one. That’s a powerful practice just to be still with someone that’s close to you and to share a breath. That’s one of the major practices that Dan Brule encourages, breathing with a brother, breathing with a sister, breathing with a loved one, bringing the breath into our relationships is extraordinarily powerful as you and I just realized and as, hopefully, the listener realized as well.
Well, Josh, one of the ways that we always close this show is a prayer. So I thought it will be fitting, brother, for you and I to join hands and to pray over listeners today.
God, we’re just really grateful. What a day it has been of ministry, of exercise, of shared brotherhood, God. And God, we just pray, Josh and I, that the listener of today’s show would be blessed by your presence, that the message that Josh and I are so passionate about sharing, about breathwork, about productive suffering, about faith in you, God, that that message would really resonate with the listener today. And God, we also pray a blessing of safety and peace and strength over the listener, that they would achieve greater understanding of your word and greater awareness of your presence. God, thank you for this time here with Josh today. What a blessing he is in my life. I’m so appreciative of his friendship, God. And thank you for bringing him into my life God. God, we love you, father, so very, very much.
Well, my friends that tuned in today, thank you for joining Josh and I. Until next time, be safe. I’ll talk to you soon back here on The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
[0:52:44] End of Audio
Show Notes: Episode 14 “In The Company of Heroes”
Female: 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 unshakable faith in God.
Greg: Hello, friends. Welcome to Episode 14 of The Greg Amundson Show. I am so excited about the show. Now, I know that is how I normally introduce The Greg Amundson Show by saying — I am so excited — but I really am excited about this particular show because we are going, in just a few moments, to Tacoma Washington.
We are dropping in on a lecture that I gave at the 2017 Triggercon conference which is a renowned weapons industry conference that focuses on innovation in that field. What’s extremely special to me about this lecture is that seated in the lecture hall while I’m speaking are some heroes of mine, some people that I consider mentors, people that I now consider dear friends. The theme when these people and I reflect over the weekend is, without a doubt, we are in agreement. Our meeting at the specific time and place that we all met this past weekend in Tacoma was a divine intervention. God’s hand was in our hand. He brought us together this weekend.
Seated before me while I’m speaking was a gentleman who I have spoken about at great length on the show, Joshua Mantz. By way of introducing Joshua Mantz — check this out — Joshua Mantz was shot and killed by an enemy sniper in Iraq. Yes, my friend, you heard me correctly. Joshua Mantz was shot and killed by an enemy sniper in Iraq. And he was seated very much alive during this lecture. Joshua Mantz is the author of a book which will be available in just a few months — I’ll be the first to say, it’s a New York Times bestseller — called Beauty of a Darker Soul, a renowned speaker, amazing leader, a great man, someone I consider a dear friend.
Also seated in the lecture hall this day — my gosh, this is still hard for me to even fathom because this is someone that I have held in legendary status, and I still do, I consider him a friend now but he’s my legendary friend — and that is Jay Dobyns, author of two books, one which I read when I was a young agent with DEA called No Angel, his newest book called Catching Hell.
When I was a young agent with DEA going through undercover school our undercover instructor says, “Hey, all you agents, you want to know what real undercover work is like, read the book No Angel.” I read that book. I could not put this book down. It is absolutely incredible. The life and the work, the service that Jay Dobyns has provided to our country, the inspiration he’s provided to me and thousands of other agents and officers who work undercover is incredible, incredible.
What was so special about meeting Jay is that I led Jay through his very first CrossFit workout. Special thanks to Tacoma Strength and Conditioning for opening their doors to us. Jay’s first CrossFit workout was the exact same first CrossFit workout that Coach Glassman gave me in December 2001. I thought that will be very fitting for a legend.
The other person seated before me during this lecture that we are going to attend in just a few moments is Kevin Briggs. Kevin Briggs is a retired CHP sergeant who was stationed for the majority of his career on the Golden Gate Bridge. This man is of a legendary proportion in mental crisis intervention, suicide intervention. He has saved countless lives. He is the author of the amazing book Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge, a great man, someone I consider a dear friend.
Then Jason Redman, United States Navy SEAL, author of a book that’s just awesome called The Trident. Jason teaches a very, very powerful mindset called I overcome. A very special moment took place with Jason and I. Jason and I and Jay Dobyns were seated all side by side signing books at this conference. And a young boy — maybe seven, eight years old — comes up the book signing line to speak with Jason Redman, and says to Jason, “I want to be a Navy SEAL.” And in that moment I was able to capture a photograph of the conversation that then took place where Jason taught this young man the I overcome mindset.
I tell you what, Jay Dobyns and I agree that young man is forever changed in a profoundly, positive way. If you get an opportunity, that photograph is on my Instagram, Facebook and website. It shows the photograph of the young boy’s face in that moment when Jason Redman is providing him with the inspiration and encouragement that he will need as he continues through life.
The other person seated before me is a woman named Karen Vaughn. She’s the author of a book I highly recommend and endorse called World Changer. Tragically, her son was killed, United States Navy SEAL who lost his life in Afghanistan. And her book is one of the most inspiring books that I’ve read because it inspires me to develop an even deeper and more intimate relationship with God.
Then, last but certainly not least, is the man who was responsible for this gathering of authors and speakers. He is the founder, the inspiration behind what is known as the Patriot Authors Network soon to also include the Patriot Authors Speaking Bureau, I’ve mentioned his name before, Robert Vera, the author of an awesome book called A Warrior’s Faith.
So there I am trying to get my wits about me to give a lecture in front of people who I consider to be some of the greatest Americans, the greatest warriors, the greatest leaders, and some of my greatest friends. Needless to say, I was a little bit nervous. Good thing, however, that I’ve been trained by Mark Divine on how to feed the dog of courage which is what we all learned about in this lecture.
And so, my friends, without further ado, in the words of CrossFit founder, Coach Greg Glassman, three, two, one, let’s go to Tacoma.
What a blessing. I’m thrilled to be here. Special thank you to Robert for having me among these other amazing speakers and authors. My friends, by way of introduction, let me take you back in time. Many years ago one of my dear friends, a mentor of mine, said these words to me, he said, “Greg, if you tell me the truth, I will believe you. If you tell me a fact, I will listen. However, when you share with me a story, then I will remember.” My goal today, of course, is for you to remember the lessons that I share with you and that the other amazing authors and speakers share with you. And that, my friends, is through the context of sharing stories.
Many, many years ago, a young man was searching, day in and day out, for the purpose of his life. He knew he had a purpose. He believed he could find it, yet, he was perplexed because he’s been searching for so long. The young man goes to meet with the village elder and asked the village elder to help him find the purpose of his life. The village elder says, “Ah, yes, the age-old question, life purpose. Follow me.”
This young man and the village elder leave the safety and the comfort of the village, and they go deep into the woods, and they hiked for hours and hours through the woods. And suddenly, they come across a beautiful stream. There, gathered around the stream, are people who are prospecting for gold.
The old man says, “Look at these people who are here prospecting today. There are three distinct types of people. One of these prospectors will put their pan in the water, and immediately they will strike gold, and they’ll leave, and they will live happily ever. There are some types of prospectors that are here, and they’ve been here day in and day out for months now, and they keep coming back. They have perseverance. They keep coming back because they know there’s gold in the water. They’ve seen other people strike gold so they know, any given day now, they too are going to strike it rich.
And then there are some people that come, they’re here for a few days, maybe a few weeks, they don’t strike it rich immediately, and they leave. They live their life in poverty.”
The young man says, “Okay. I get it. There are prospectors here. But what does this have to do with my life purpose?” The old man says, “Ah, yes, yes, back to the age-old question, life purpose. Well, you see, there are three types of people who are searching for the purpose of their life. There are some people that, from a very young age, they knew what they were born to do, and they struck it rich from young age. They’re very happy, very content, full of daily joy because they’re on the path of their life purpose. And there are some people that are still searching. They know they’ve got a purpose, they believe that God made them for a special mission, and every day they wake up searching for that purpose. And then there are some people that have given up the search. They live their lives in poverty.”
And with that, the young man feels some joy, some hope. And he looks to the old wise man and says, “Well, what is my next step? What do I do?” The old man says, “Take comfort, easy does it, because sometimes the purpose of your life is searching for the purpose of your life.”
Life purpose, my friends, has been something that, to this day, I am so passionate about in my own life and in inspiring other people to realize that each one of us in this room right here, right now was born with a unique life purpose. In the warrior tradition we refer to this as a mission. There was a mission that God gave you that only you can fulfill during your lifetime. And it gets better because in order to fulfill this mission that you’ve been given, God also gave you unique talents, special abilities, skills, unique ways of expressing these abilities, talents and skills. In fact there’s something that you can do better than anybody else in the entire world. Isn’t that amazing? What a blessing.
And here’s what’s exciting, here’s what I want you to understand. When you start to step onto that path of achievement of life purpose, there will be two voices in your head. One voice in your head is saying, “I was born for this. I can do it.” Another voice in your head is saying, “No, you can’t.” And that balance between I can do it, no, I can’t, that is the path of the warrior.
When we look to the historical stories of the warrior tradition, when we look to some of the greatest leaders of all time, we find the same battle taking place. Essentially it’s the classic, timeless battle of good versus evil. We can look to the holy Bible. We can look right to the life of Jesus Christ, the greatest warrior leader who ever lived.
Greg: When Jesus was in the temple preaching publicly for the first time, He read from the scroll of Isaiah. He essentially, in that moment, declared to everyone there the purpose of his life. He said, “Behold. The spirit of the Lord is upon me.” And then he laid out the purpose of his life. And no shortly after he proclaimed the purpose of his life, then someone in the audience said, “Hey, aren’t you Joseph’s son?” meaning, “You’re just a carpenter. You didn’t come to save the world. You can’t do what you just professed you would do. You’re a carpenter. Who do you think you are to make that statement of life purpose?” And so you see, even Jesus Christ was faced with the same battle between good and evil.
For years, I’ve worked as a special agent with the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration. I know there are many other law enforcement officers including my brother Jay Dobyns in the back, but I personally think DEA is the premier law enforcement department in the country, if not, the world. CHP sergeant, he’s like, “What?” Jay Dobyns, “What?” DEA is an amazing organization. I really wholeheartedly believed in their mission.
I was stationed right out of the Academy on the Southwest border. And at the time I was stationed there, it was a battle, it was a war zone. That’s where, as a young DEA agent, you wanted to be. Drugs were essentially falling out of the sky. The place to be as a young agent. I found myself challenged because here I was trying to hunt down and capture the greatest drug cartels in the world, yet, what about the kids on the Southwest border who, without direction and leadership, would essentially grow up to be the next cartel leader. So I asked permission to speak to the kids in school and to try to educate and inspire them to pursue a path other than the violence and the gangs and the drugs that was so prevalent along the border.
I got done speaking one day, group of fourth grade students. A young boy who was in the audience walks up to me when I’m done speaking. He points at my shirt. And that day I was wearing a black shirt across the chest in bright yellow, it said police. The young boy points at my shirt and says, “When I grow up I want to be a police just like you.” And I thought, “I’ve done it. I’ve gotten through to one.” I got down like this about to his level, raised my hand for a high-five, and I said, “You can do it.” High-five never came. He just stood there and shook his head and said, “No, I can’t.” And I said, “Why not?” And he said, “Because my dad told me I’m going to grow up and be just like him.”
Now, if you know me, you know I’m a bit of an optimist. So I thought to myself, “Well, maybe his dad is a rocket scientist. Maybe his dad’s an astronaut.” It does beg the question though, what does your dad do. So I asked him. And he looked at me and matter-of-factly said, “My daddy’s in prison for dealing drugs.” And he told me, “I’m going to grow up and be just like him.” It devastated me. It made my entire career, up to that point, in law enforcement seemed fruitless.
And I realized, in that moment, two critical insights that I want to share with you. The first is that as we go through the course of our day, we just never know if that one little word of hope, that one little word of encouragement, that one little word of you can do it, we never know if that will be the first time that person has heard that word of hope and encouragement and love and support that day, that week, that month, that year or, maybe like that little boy, that lifetime. That little boy had never heard from his father, “Son, you can do it. Son, I believe in you. Son, you were made for great things. Son, you were born with a purpose in life.” He never heard that, and I heard that from my dad every night before I went to bed.
So that was insight number one. We never know when we will be the voice of God encouraging someone on the purpose of their life because imagine if that young boy’s purpose in life was to be a law enforcement officer, and his own father was telling him, “No, it’s not. You can’t do it son. In fact, you’re going to do the opposite.” In that case, it’s going to be up to you and I to be that voice of encouragement in that person’s life.
And number two, sometimes that voice of encouragement, my friends, do you realize where it ultimately needs to come from? Exactly. Sometimes the voice of encouragement we need to hear the most is going to take place right here, in the temple of our mind. This is what my friend, Jay, would refer to as the overcome mindset, the I can do it mindset, the I believe in myself mindset, the overcome, I got this, hooyah, mindset. Sometimes that voice needs to come from within. How do we cultivate that voice, how do we listen to that voice, how do we discern that voice, that is the path of the warrior. The good news is that there are some tools, there some specific strategies we can utilize to harness, to hear, and to speak that voice for ourselves and for other people.
In 2010, while still an agent with the DEA, I went through an amazing 50-hour full immersion course called kokoro. Kokoro means the merging of heart and mind. It’s a term that comes from the samurai tradition, a tradition I’ve been fascinated by from a very young age. The samurai believed on the path of a warrior. In order to cultivate that spirit, the heart and mind had to be merged into one. Kokoro was created by a gentleman named Mark Divine, 20-year Navy SEAL, an amazing martial artist, New York Times best-selling author, incredible leader. He designed this course. It was designed to mimic the first 50 hours of the true Navy SEAL hell week. Needless to say, the whole point of this course was to challenge you to the core.
I volunteered to go through this not really knowing what I was getting myself into. I was standing in Encinitas just outside San Diego on what’s called the Grinder where this course was going to launch from, standing in a typical platoon style formation, green camo pants, white T-shirt, my name across the chest. I’m standing there that day with some of my friends whom I knew, most people I did not know. Most of the people were in the Navy with a goal of going through and successfully completing BUD/S. They’ve been training with Mark Divine for months in preparation for that course. Mark Divine stands in front of us. Let me paint the picture. Mark Divine is about ‘6″3, huge, strong, muscular guy, yet, because of his martial arts training, moves with the grace of a ballerina. Beautiful to watch in action. He just glides in front of us.
In a commanding voice, he barks this question, he says, “What dog are you feeding right now?” Everyone that had been training with Mark was trained in how to answer that question. They shouted back in unison, “The dog of courage.” And meanwhile I’m looking to my right, looking to my left thinking to myself, “I don’t even have a dog. I have no clue what’s going on right now.”
Well, what Mark taught me was absolutely profound, and I’m thrilled to share this with all of you. What Mark taught me is that in the warrior tradition it was believed that each and every one of us has within us two dogs. In the Native American warrior tradition it was referred to as two wolves. These dogs that are inside of us are starving for your attention, yet, what they’re starving for specifically in terms of your attention is quite different. One of these dogs is starving for courage, the dog of courage. The other dog is starving for fear, the dog of fear. Good and evil, light and darkness, positive-negative.
The good news, my friends, is that whichever dog grows strongest in our life, in our mind is up to us. We ultimately get to decide which dog we are feeding. The primary fuel source, the primary nutrition, the primary food these dogs both want is your thoughts and your words and your actions. Notice, however, that I introduced it in that specific order; thoughts, words, actions.
When I was in bootcamp with the US Army Drill Sgt. Oliver, my senior drill instructor, someone I will always remember, one of the most profound warrior leaders I’ve ever known in my entire life, he stood in front of me on my first day in indoc and he said, “I want warriors. And warriors think a certain way. In bootcamp your thoughts will become your words. Your words will become your actions. Your actions will become your habits. Your habits will become your character. And your character will determine your destiny. And I want warriors.”
In that moment, I was standing at attention, and I started to lean in as close to this man as I could because I knew in that moment God brought him into my life. I needed to be tempered and forged, and this was someone that was going to help me do it. What’s abundantly profound about what this senior staff sergeant in the US Army said, those words, my friend, are in fact a quotation from none other than Gandhi. Profound. Your thoughts will become your words. Your words will become your actions. What determines the thoughts we entertain? Our ability as warriors to feed the dog of courage.
Right now, whether you realize it or not, you have with you the greatest asset you can begin to imagine that can help you in feeding and cultivating that dog of courage. You’ve had this tool, this skill, this gift with you since the day you were born, however, you may not be aware of its power in your life.
Let me ask you a question that was proposed to me by a gentleman named Col. Dave Grossman. Col. Dave Grossman was a career US Army Ranger, New York Times best-selling author, an incredible warrior leader. He asked me this question when I was an agent with the DEA. He said. “Do you know how to breathe?” And there I was thinking to myself, “Who does this guy think he is asking me if I know how to breathe? Does he know that I do CrossFit? Does he have any idea who I am?” The ego reared up its ugly head. And I, sadly, did not pay attention to the question he asked me. Do you know how to breathe? Not are you breathing. Do you know how to breathe?
Thankfully, when I was a candidate going through kokoro with Mark Divine, he proposed the same question to me. Do you know how to breathe? And in that moment, God was giving me another opportunity to learn a profound lesson because, you see, in the universe when you’re proposed the same question multiple times, we call that in law enforcement a clue. I had to get a clue that I did not know the first thing about breathing. Mark taught me — what’s incredible — the same breathing technique that Col. Dave Grossman taught me. Two great warrior leaders teaching me the same breathing skill.
I’ve done this breathing technique every day since. I challenge you, I encourage you to utilize this breathing technique in your life as well because this breathing technique is the merging point, it’s the bridge that yokes or unites, as we say in yoga, the mind, the body and the spirit.
What we are going to do is create in the mind stillness, stillness. Imagine this, imagine if your mind was like the ocean, big waves rolling through the ocean. And we went into the middle of the ocean on a stormy day, and we took a great big rock, and we dropped that rock right into the ocean. Would we even see the indentation or moment of impact the rock made with the mighty waves? It would make no difference at all.
Now imagine same rock, same boat but we’re on a lake, the lake is perfectly still, and we dropped that rock. Will we see and notice the rippling effect the rock has? Absolutely. In fact, we can probably drop a pebble, a single stone into that river, and we would see the effect. Gandhi said a single stone can change the course of an entire river. Metaphorically that’s what happens in our mind once our mind is still. Once we still the mind, then we can very attentively discern, “Ah, yes, that is the dog of courage,” yet, we need stillness first, and that is what we are going to cultivate.
Take a moment to sit up nice and straight in your chair, feet planted firmly on the ground. Press your back into your back rest and roll the shoulders back. And notice, when you roll the shoulders back, that automatically draws a breath in. Just the posture of the body invites the breath.
Now imagine that on the crown of your head is a little string. And I take that string and tie it to the ceiling and then tighten up that string. So the spine just naturally lengthens. Nice.
Now close your eyes. Just notice how when we sit physically still and close the eyes, physical stillness of the body lends itself to physical stillness in the mind. In the Bible it says be still and know.
Now just begin to bring awareness to your breath. Just notice the fact that you’re breathing. Feel the breath come into the body. Notice the subtle changes in the body as you breathe in. Notice the shoulders naturally rise. Notice the abdomen fill. Really enjoy the breath, savor the breath. The breath of life is falling into you right now.
Now, for this breathing technique I’ll teach you, we’re going to utilize the nostrils for both the inhalation and the exhalation. So let’s begin by letting all the air out. Gentle exhale. Nice. Now inhale through the nose. Two, three, four. Hold the breath. Two, three, four. Exhale through the nose. Two, three, four. Hold. Two, three, four.
Inhale. Two, three, four. Hold. Two, three, four. Exhale. Two, three, four. Hold. Two, three, four. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Hold. One more round. Deep breath in. Hold. Exhale. Slow breath out. Beautiful.
Keep the eyes closed. Continue the breath on your own. Natural respiratory cycle. Just notice the stillness in the entire room. Notice the stillness in your body. Notice the stillness in your mind. The sand has settled. The water has become clear. That lake in the mind is perfectly still.
Now, find that perfect mantra that speaks to your spirit. Mantra, affirmation, prayer, Bible verse, perhaps even a singular word, faith, courage, overcome, love. Perhaps it’s a mantra. I can do it. I overcome. I press forward. Perhaps it’s a Bible verse. I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. Greater is my God who is in me than He it is that is in the world. Find that perfect mantra, that perfect affirmation. Begin to play it in your mind. Repeat it to yourself in your mind so clear so you can hear your voice in your mind. These repetitions of your mantra in the stillness of your mind are so powerful, my friends.
Then just take one more deep breath in. Slowly open the eyes. Powerful practice. That is a profound way to start every single day of your life. Every single day of your life you have an opportunity to remove yourself from the temptations of the world, the distractions of the world, to turn your attention inward, practicing what’s known in yoga as pratyahara, turning the attention inward. We see this direction in the Bible. Behold. The kingdom of God is within you reversing the tendency to project through the senses onto the world. Every day, you can practice that sacred tradition of closing the eyes, becoming still, and connecting with your life purpose.
In closing, my friends, I want to share with you one more story. This story comes from one of the most important figures in my life, my dad. Just before my dad died, he said something to me that changed my life. I was seated at his bedside, Dameron Hospital in Stockton, California. My does was battling with cancer. I sat there, and he opened his eyes.
Up to that point in my life, I’ve been very focused on external pursuit. Part of that external pursuit was driven by pride. Everything I did was for pride. Pride in my team, pride in my department, pride in my profession. Pride was driving everything I was doing. And so, of course, the last few words I want to say to my dad are about pride.
And I stand up, moved to his head, and I leaned over, and I whispered, “Dad, I’m going to make you proud of me.” He looks at me and blinks and smiles, and voice is a bit scratchy, he says, “Son, whatever you do, do it for love.” That changed my life. Maybe it can change your life too.
As we step onto the path of the purpose of our life, I challenge you to simultaneously pursue your dreams, pursue your aspirations, pursue your goals, relentlessly wake up every day and go for it. Yet, simultaneously, I challenge you to do everything that you do, from this point forward, for love.
Well, my friends, may God bless you and keep you safe. Thank you all so much. Thank you, Bob, for having me. Thank you.
Well, my friends, I really hope you enjoyed that lecture as much as I enjoyed presenting it. What a special moment in my life to speak before people whom I consider to be dear friends, mentors, legends. Even though I know Jay Dobyns does not like it when I say that, to me, the guy will always be legendary, heroic status.
Well, my friend, I just want to take a moment to pray with you. And if you recall, one of my favorite prayers was taught to me by one of my yoga teachers, Rolf Gates. Rolf Gates, before he found the path to yoga, was a United States Army Ranger, a true warrior, world-class wrestler, an amazing man, author of a book I highly recommend for those of you on the path of yoga. It is called Meditations from the Mat. The prayer that he taught me really resonates with my heart, and I want to include it on our episode today.
My friends, I pray that you would be safe. I pray that you would be happy. I pray that you would be healthy. I pray that you would find your freedom, that you would discover your peace. And I pray that you would walk through the world with ease.
My friends, until next time. I pray that God would watch over you, inspire you, provide you with a burning life purpose. And, my friends, I will speak to you again soon back here on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
Female: 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.
[0:37:20] End of Audio
Show Notes: Episode 13 “Your Gift to the World”
Female: 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 unshakable faith in God.
Greg: Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode 13 of The Greg Amundson Show. My friends, today, I have a special treat in store for you because we are going to leave the comfort of your car, of your home, of your business, of your gym, wherever you are right now. We are shortly on our way to Brighton, Michigan. Brighton is a small city on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan. And we are headed to a renowned ice skating program called Competitive Edge Skating. This program was founded by a dear friend of mine named Jennifer Matras whom I met in 2014 at the Unbeatable Mind Retreat in Carlsbad, California.
The moment that I met Jennifer, I knew this is someone who has the spirit of the Lord profoundly upon them. Jennifer really understands the significance, the importance, she understands the necessity of completely integrating the mind, the body, and the spirit. Jennifer runs a program that is designed for kids to help educate and inspire them through the perspective and through the lens of ice skating to ultimately accomplish all of their dreams and goals both on and off the ice. And when Jennifer asked me last year to come speak at her program, my answer was a resounding yes. And when she asked me to come back this year, of course, my answer, again, was yes.
And so, my friends, without further ado, let’s drop in on the lecture that I gave to the athletes. And what’s really special is the parents of the athletes who were in attendance on this very, very special day in Brighton, Michigan. In the words of my dear friend and mentor, Coach Glassman, three, two, one, let’s go.
[Brighton, MA] Thank you. It is so good to be back speaking with all of you today. I was here last year. How many of you were in the lecture that I gave last year? Outstanding. So my goal today is to review some of that material because repetition is one of the first laws of learning. So everything that we want to learn and master and be good at we simply have to repeat over and over and over. So today, we’ll repeat some of those very important exercises.
Many, many years ago, one of my mentors, a very good friend of mine who remains a very dear friend to this day, he said these words to me, he said, “Greg, if you tell me the truth, I will believe you. If you tell me a fact, I will listen. However, if you share with me a story, then I will remember.” And my goal today is that you would remember the stories that I share with you because wrapped inside every single story is a very important lesson. And if you abide by and practice the lessons that you will learn today, you can achieve anything that you want, any goal, any dream, any aspiration that you have now when you put these lessons into practice you can achieve.
We begin by asking ourselves one of the most important questions that we can ask, and that is what is the purpose of my life, why was I born, what am I here to do, what is my unique mission that I have to fulfill, why I am alive.
How many of you have contemplated or thought about the answer to that question? Every hand should go up. That question should be burning in our heart, burning in our mind every single day. And the reason for that is that each one of you has a unique gift, unique talents, unique skills, and very special ways of expressing these talents and these skills and these abilities that only you can do.
You can do one thing better than anybody else in the entire world. Did you know that? God gave each of you a special gift and a unique way of expressing that gift, and that gift and its expression is why you’re here. Isn’t that exciting? There’s one thing that you can do that no one else can do. And the good news, my friends, is that everybody else wants you to do the one thing that only you can do. Isn’t that great? It’s a win-win. You get to do what you were born to do and everybody else benefits from that.
So we begin by contemplating this question: Why was I born? What is that purpose of my life? And for the answer to this question we go to our first story. Many, many years ago, there was a young boy who wanted earnestly to know the purpose of his life. He really desires to know. So he went to the village elder and he said to the village elder, “How can I discover the purpose of my life?” The village elder, very, very wise, said, “Ah, the age-old question of life purpose. Follow me.”
This village elder led the young boy out into the forest, and they hiked through the forest. And suddenly, they came across a clearing. There in the clearing was a river, fast-moving river. And gather around the river there were people who were panning for gold. The wise old man said, “Look at these people who are panning for gold.” And the young man said, “Well, they all look the same.” The old man said, “No, no, no, no, no. There are some key differences between these people and the manner in which they are panning for gold. There are some people that put their pan right in the water and immediately, boom, they strike gold, a huge nugget of gold. They take that gold and they live the rest of their life happily ever after. Then there are some people that put their pan into that fast-moving body of water, and it takes them a long time to strike gold yet they know there’s gold in the water because they’ve seen other people strike it rich. So they just know if they’re persistent and if they keep every single day panning for gold they will find what they’re looking for.”
The young man says, “Well, what about the third type of person?” The old man says, “Ah, well, the third type of person is unfortunately all-too common. The third type of person puts their pan into the water to mine for gold. A couple of days go by, they don’t find any goal, and so they give up, they leave never to return. And that person wanders around never really satisfied because they never found gold.” And now the young man says, “Well, okay, I get it. I get that there are people out there panning for gold. But what does that have to do with the purpose of my life?” The old man says, “Oh, can’t you see? There are types of people who are searching for the purpose to their life. There are some people maybe like you that from a very young age you know exactly why you were born.”
There are some people here right now who know with conviction, with certainty, “This is the purpose of my life. This is my dream. This is what I want to do when I grow up.” Then there are some people that aren’t quite sure. They know they were born for some special reason, they’re not quite sure what it is yet, but they’re going to keep searching for it.
And then the young man says, “Well, what about the third type of person?” The old man says, “Well, there are some people that think they know what they were born for, and they try to work for it for maybe a few weeks or a few months, and then they give up. They wander around life aimlessly because they’re not pursuing or living out the purpose of their life.”
And the young man says, “Well, which person am I?” The old man says, “It’s up to you. You get to decide which of those characters you are.” Ultimately, the choice is up to each and every one of you.
Now, this young man in the story could equally be a young woman in the story. This young person in the story, they really want to know the purpose of their life. They’re passionate about living and fulfilling their dreams and goals. So this young person says to the old man, “Well, is there a strategy? Is there a technique? Is there something I can do every single day that could help me learn what the purpose of my life is?” The old man says, “Yes, as a matter of fact there is. Follow me.”
And they go back into the forest. They leave the water and the clearing and they go back into the forest. And they hiked through the forest for miles and miles. And the young person start to get a little irritated because the hike seems to never end. And the young person says, “I thought you were going to teach me a manner in which I could find the purpose of my life.” The old man says, “In time, in time. Let’s keep hiking.”
And an hour later, out of nowhere, rather abruptly the old man raises his hand and signals them to stop. The old man says, “Listen. Can you hear that?” The young boy says, “Hear what?” All the young person could hear is the chatter of their mind, the chatter of their mind. Their own thinking is all that person could hear. The young person says, “Hear what?” The old man says, “Listen, listen very carefully. You’ll hear something.” So they stand very still. The young man listens.
And all of a sudden they young boy hears way off in the distance the sound of a river, the unmistakable sound of a river. He hears the river running downstream. He hears the river crashing against rocks. He hears twigs and leaves rustling through the moving water. He hears the sound of the river. And the young man says, “Yes, I can hear the sound of the water.” And the old man says, “What did you have to do before you could hear the sound that was so far away?” The young man thought for a moment and then realized, “Ah, I had to be still.”
How many of you like exercise, like to workout, like to skate, like to run? What are some of your favorite physical activities? How many of you like pull-ups? That makes two of us. How many of you like push-ups? How many of you like to ice skate? I imagine every hand goes up. All right. So there are certain physical skills that you are good at. How did you acquire proficiency in the physical skills that you’re good at? What did you do?
Child: Be still.
Greg: Well, if you were practicing a physical skill, were you being still or were you moving?
Greg: You were moving. You have to move to acquire proficiency in the physical skill. As a matter fact, what you likely have to do is practice the specific physical skill that you want to get good at. So imagine if you had a goal to improve on your pull-up, what are you going to have to do with your coach in the gym?
Child: Practice. Keep practicing pull-ups.
Greg: Exactly. You have to keep practicing your pull-up. And imagine if I came to you and I said, “You know what. I want to learn how to ice skate,” what are you going to tell me that I have to do?
Child: Practice ice skate.
Greg: I got to skate. I had to put on skates. And where do I go?
Child: Ice rink.
Greg: On the ice rink and I practice. And do you think I’ll fall over?
Greg: What? Of course I will. I’m going to fall over. Then what do I do when I fall over?
Child: Get back up.
Greg: Get back up and I keep practicing. So what we agree on, my friends, is that if we want to be good at a physical skill we have to move our body. Well, one of my friends, a Navy SEAL for 20 years, his name is Mark Divine, he told me something once that I will always remember. He said, “Greg, a warrior has to be skillful both in action and non-action, both in movement and stillness.” Isn’t that an amazing?
So very often because of the joy and the excitement and the team atmosphere that we associate with physical activity, that is where we gravitate. All of you are athletes so we gravitate towards doing physical activity, yet that’s only one part of the equation.
The other part is equally important, and that is the skill of being still, of stillness. And the reason that stillness is important is in that stillness of our body and of our mind, that is when we can begin to communicate with the very person who assigned each one of you the purpose of your life. God is available to communicate with us when we’re still. Isn’t that amazing? So the skill of stillness is equally important as the skill of physical movement.
Why do you think Mark told me a warrior has to be skillful both in action and non-action? Why do you think he used the word warrior? What does a warrior mean in our society today? Do you think warriors are only those people who serve in the military?
Greg: No? Do you think a warrior is only that person who lived a long time ago, was a medieval knight or a samurai?
Greg: Do you think a warrior is a person who only serves as a law enforcement officer?
Greg: Or is there something more? Is a warrior something more that maybe each and every one of us has within us? It’s my contention and sincere belief that every single one of you has within you a quality of a warrior, and that warrior quality, what I refer to as the warrior spirit, is very important to cultivate because only your warrior spirit within you can help you in the achievement of your life purpose.
A warrior takes a stand. Do you agree? A warrior’s sticks up and stands for what is right? Do you agree? A warrior has courage. Do you agree? A warrior serves society. Do you agree? A warrior protects and serves other people. Do you agree? Me too. It just so happens that all of those qualities that I described — courage, taking a stand, doing what’s right, protecting and serving — those qualities are necessary when you begin the pursuit of your life purpose.
How many of you have played in a competitive hockey tournament or a competition? What happens when you’re on the ice and you’re facing another team or an opponent who is really, really good? What is that other team when they’re really, really good help you do?
Children: Get better.
Greg: Get better. Isn’t that amazing that when a warrior faces challenge, the warrior uses the challenge to improve. That’s a key difference between the warrior spirit and those people that are lacking in that warrior quality, is that a warrior actually looks and goes out and seeks a challenge because they know inherently that when they’re challenged they rise to the occasion. When a warrior faces a challenge they are at their very best.
Purpose of life. One of my dear friends shared with me something profound that I want to share with you because this will help you as we pursue that purpose of our life. His name is Kyle Maynard.
I met Kyle in 2012 in Austin, Texas. I was there to speak at the Wounded Warrior Summit. I was speaking with Kyle before a group of Marines, soldiers, airmen, corps men who were severely wounded in the war, severely wounded. Some of these brave men and women came back from Iraq and Afghanistan missing arms, missing legs. We were there to give them some encouragement.
Kyle was born with no arms and no legs. Wouldn’t you think that someone born with no arms and no legs would have a fair amount of excuses for not being a warrior in life? Well, let me share with you some of the amazing accomplishments of Kyle. Kyle became an NCAA wrestler, college beckoned as an NCAA wrestler. Kyle was a mixed martial artist. Kyle hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. Kyle became a world-class bench presser with no arms and no legs.
Kyle was an amazing speaker that day. He was so full of inspiration and education for everyone in the audience because many of these soldiers who came back missing arms and legs had great despair, and they thought to themselves, “My life is over. I’ll never be the same again.” And Kyle was there to share with them your life has just begun. You can do anything you want. You can accomplish your dreams and goals because the greatest muscle that we have — do you know where it is? In our heart and in our mind. With the heart and mind merged, we can do anything that we desire.
On the whiteboard that they were three circles. I’ve drawn those three circles here. I’m a very visual learner and so when Kyle explained the significance of these three circles it really stuck with me. What Kyle said was there are three circles that determine the quality of your life. The third circle, the largest circle, Kyle said that is the circle of what, what is happening in your life. Most people live entirely in the circle of what. You even hear this in conversation. People say to each other, “What’s going on?” If we’re talking about what’s going on, it means that we’re reactive, we are reacting to what is happening in our life. And as we’ll learn, warriors are not reactive.
The next type of person is living in a more profound, more meaningful way. The next type of person is concerned with that middle circle, the circle of how. So that type of person isn’t as concerned with what is happening. They’re more concerned with how they are going to respond to the conditions of their life. That is much more powerful. For example, let’s take it to the ice. Imagine you’re facing a very, very good team. This team is undefeated. And, of course, your goal is to win this competition, to win this game.
Do you think it would benefit you and your coach and your fellow athletes if you thought to yourself, “Oh, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? This team is so good. They’ve got the best players. What are we going to do?” Or do you think it might benefit you and the team if you thought to yourself, “Here is how we’re going to win.” What’s more powerful? “What we going to do?” or “I got. Here’s how we’re going to win”? What’s more powerful? Exactly. Here is how we can do it.
So another example would be rather than thinking to yourself, “What’s happening to me?” you can think to yourself, “Here is how I can respond to the conditions of my life.” And I thought, “Whoa. That’s powerful.” And Kyle said, “Yes, you think that’s powerful? It gets better.” He said, “Look inside those three circles. There’s still one circle left right in the middle. That,” Kyle said, “is your circle of why.”
Remember this. He said the more powerful the why of your life the more powerful your life will be. Let me say that one more time because, my friends, this is amazing, this is amazing. The more powerful the why of your life the more powerful your life will be.
Do you know what Kyle was referring to when he spoke about why? Why is purpose? So essentially what Kyle said is when you really come home to the purpose of your life when you know what the purpose of your life is, when every morning you wake up full of energy, full of enthusiasm, full of excitement, full of love, full of joy because you are certain that you know the purpose of your life, your why, then your life will become extraordinarily powerful.
There is a specific skill I want to share with you, a technique, yet before I teach you this technique and explain its significance let’s me ask you a question that one of my coaches asked me years ago. How many of you know how to breathe? I hope every hand goes up. Everyone seems to be breathing okay. So everyone, therefore, knows how to breathe because you’re here right now breathing as you listen to me speak.
Well, I was asked that same question in 2008 in Quantico, Virginia. I was seated in a classroom, brand new DEA special agent, a gentleman named Dave Grossman, former Army Ranger, a colonel which meant that he not only was an Army Ranger, he led Army Rangers, and Army Rangers are some of the finest soldiers in United States of America. And Colonel Dave Grossman was a leader of these soldiers. He stood in front of me and the other agents that day and asked a question. He said, “How many of you know how to breathe?” And I thought to myself, “Come on. I know how to breathe. I’m DEA Special Agent, former SWAT operator. I played water polo at UC Santa Cruz. I’m a CrossFit athlete. I ran track and swam in high school. Who does this guy think he is? I’ve been breathing my whole life. I know how to breathe.”
And Dave Grossman that day taught me and the other agents a very powerful breathing technique. Unfortunately, I did not pay attention. Well, thank goodness, God gave me another opportunity to learn that exact same breathing technique. In law enforcement when you learn the same thing twice from two people that you admire greatly, you know what we call that in law enforcement? A clue. It’s a clue that oh, I better pay attention because someone is trying to teach me something.
The second time I learned this breathing technique was from a gentleman named Mark Divine who I already mentioned. Mark Divine, 20-year Navy SEAL, yet not only a Navy SEAL, a commander of Navy SEALs. Navy SEALs are some of the most elite warriors of the United States of America. And Mark Divine led those elite warriors. He taught me the exact same breathing technique that Colonel David Grossman taught me.
In 2010, I went through a program called SealFit. It was devised by Mark Divine, a 50-hour course, nonstop crucible evolutions. The whole point of those 50 hours was to weed out people who were weak, who didn’t have what it took to graduate from the program.
Brutal conditions, brutal training, brutal evolutions. And before it began, I was standing with the other candidates on the Grinder in San Diego, California. The Grinder was the historic location where this SealFit program took place. I was standing there in formation sweating because I was so nervous and scared and afraid about what was going to take place.
And then in front of me walked Mark Divine, someone I knew at that point to be a great warrior, a great leader, a great educator, very tall, very powerful, command presence. He stood in front of me and the other candidates. And here’s what he said. In a booming voice he said, “What dog are you feeding right now?”
Well, some of the other candidates who were going through this program with me were already in the Navy. They’ve been training with Mark for months in preparation for that next 50-hour evolution. They knew how to answer that question. They shouted back in unison, “The dog of courage.” Meanwhile, I’m looking to my left and my right thinking to myself, “I don’t even have a dog. What is going on? What is he talking about?”
Well, here is what I learned from Mark. In the warrior tradition it was believed that each and every one of us has in our soul two dogs. One dog is known as the dog of courage, the other dog is known as the dog of fear. The dog of courage is starving. The dog of fear is starving. Here’s the difference between these two dogs. The dog of courage is starving for one particular type of nutrition: Positivity. The dog of fear is starting for one particular type of nutrition: Negativity. And I remember thinking to myself, “Whoa. Two dogs inside me: Courage, fear. Which dog will win?” Mark explained which ever dog you feed.
The question, my friends, is up to you because in this moment and in every moment of your life those two dogs are very hungry, they want your attention, both of their tails are wagging. They’re trying to get you to pet them and play with them and entertain them and feed them. The question is which dog will become stronger, which dog will grow up and be wise, which dog will grow up and be your faithful, loving companion. It’s up to you. Which dog will you feed and how do you feed these dogs? What are they hungry for? Positivity and negativity. What fuels the positive and the negative? Right here. You’re thinking, your own thoughts are the source of nutrition that these dogs want. They want your thinking.
What type of thoughts does the dog of courage want? What do those thoughts sound like? They sound like this. I can do it. I believe in myself. I’ve got this. I’m strong. I’m courageous. I’m healthy. I’m faithful. I’m committed. I’m disciplined. I’m skillful. I can do it. What does the dog of fear want from your thinking? I can’t do this. I’ll never learn that. That team is too good. I don’t feel good today. I’m weak. I can’t do it.
Do you feel the difference? Energetically, do you feel in your body the difference? What happens when we say to ourselves or when you hear me say, “I can do it, I believe in myself, I got this, I’m strong”? Do you feel the energy? What happens to your breathing, to your posture, to your mind as opposed to, “I can’t do it, I’ll never learn that, I’m not strong enough”? What happens to our breathing, our posture, our energy? Do you see how they shift?
That’s why it takes a warrior because only a warrior can discern the difference between the positive and the negative. It takes a warrior to feed the dog of courage.
Now, the good news is that after Mark explained the dog of courage and the dog of fear, after he taught me that which ever dog I need will grow stronger in my life, he taught me how to get both dogs to sit down because imagine if you had a dog that you wanted to feed. What does the dog need to do before you can give it a treat?
Child: A trick.
Greg: A trick? Absolutely. Do think that trick could be sitting down? Yes. For example, my dog comes to me I say, “Sit. Good girl,” and I give her a cookie. Why? Because she sat down. And when she sat down she was looking at me, she was still, she was paying attention. It’s the same thing with our mind. We need to get our mind to be still, to pay attention to what we want.
That is why Mark followed up the question what dog are you feeding right now with the question do you know how to breathe. And when he asked that question this time, thankfully, I was wise enough to say to myself, “I’ve got no clue. I do not have any clue how to breathe. So Mark, please teach me.”
Do you want to learn that technique? I want to teach it to you and I really want you to learn it the first time. So really pay attention. It’s a very simple breathing technique. We’re going to breathe in a very specific manner. We’re going to breathe through our nose. The reason for the nostril breath known in yoga as ujjayi breath is the nostril breath is the breath of a warrior.
Did you know that when you’re afraid, when you’re feeling stressed, you automatically breathe through your mouth? When you feel confident, when you feel courageous, when you feel close to God, you automatically breathe through your nose. When you breathe through your nose you send a signal to your brain, you send a signal, a message to your brain. You’re telling your brain, “I’ve got this.” Nostril breath. I can do it. So we’re going to utilize that style of breathing with this breathing exercise. We’re also going to do something very important. We’re going to synchronize the body with the breath.
And so before we start breathing together let’s take a moment to sit up in our seat. Put your feet on the ground then bring your back against the back rest of your chair. Nice. Roll your shoulders back. Beautiful. Then imagine there’s a string attached to the crown of your head with that string up to lengthen your spine. Nice. Nice and straight. Beautiful. Now direct your attention to this diagram of the box, and I’ll lead you through the breathing exercise.
Begin by letting all the air out. Exhale through the nose. Good. Now inhale through the nose. Two, three, four. Hold your breath. Two, three, four. Exhale through the nose. Two, three, four.
Hold your breath. Two, three, four. Inhale. Two, three, four. Hold your breath. Two, three, four. Exhale through the nose. Two, three, four. Hold your breath. Two, three, four. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Hold. One more round. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. Hold. Good. Now, just take a deep breath in and a slow breath out. Just take a few moments to feel the energy that you’ve cultivated in your body and your mind. Notice that quality of stillness.
So in this moment the analogy, the example we use is that both of these dogs are still. And now you get to decide which dog gets your attention. Which, of course, is going to be what dog?
Greg: The courage dog. Exactly. So what that courage dog is hungry for is your thinking. What type of thinking? Positive thinking. Well, guess what else that courage dog is really, really hungry for. Positive speaking. They want to hear your voice. Because — think about it — if you’re training your dog, can that dog read your mind?
Greg: So how do you direct the dog to do what you want? Your voice. You tell your dog sit, lay down, roll over, come. You tell your dog what to do and it listens.
So we’re going to use our voice for what’s called a mantra. Mantra is a Sanskrit word. It comes from yoga. Mantra means mind tool. It’s a tool of the mind. It’s a technique. So imagine on the ice, are there specific techniques you learn on the ice?
Greg: Well, guess what. There are specific techniques that we can use off the ice that will help us when we get back on the ice, and one of them is mantra. Mantra is mind tool. We’re going to speak a mantra. I’ll teach you a very basic mantra that serves me well. I can do it. Seems simple, right?
Greg: It’s supposed to be simple because we’re training a dog, and dogs need to keep it simple. So I can do it will be the mantra that we use. Now, listen to the way I say that mantra. I can do it. Do you believe me?
Greg: How about now? I can do it. I don’t believe me either. How about now? I can do it. Some belief there? What did I do before I spoke?
Children: You took a breath.
Greg: What type of breath?
Greg: Nostril breath. What did my body do when I breathed?
Children: [0:43:43] [Indiscernible]
Greg: Yes, I stood up, I rolled my shoulders back. The breath of life came into my lungs, and I spoke with power and conviction. So now we’re taking what’s called box breathing. Why do you think it’s called a box breath? Yes.
Child: [0:44:04] [Indiscernible]
Greg: Exactly. Our breath does four of each. Perfectly said. So our breath, therefore, makes a box. Well, when we practice the box breath we do four rounds, yet when we need the box breath in life all we have to do is this’ breathe in and speak. Because as we speak what happens to the breath? Exactly. We are exhaling as we speak. So I inhale the breath of life and I exhale the dog of courage.
So we’ll practice this as a group. We’re going to sync together everything that we’ve learned. So sit up nice and straight, roll those shoulders back. We’re going to inhale through the nose and then, out loud as a group, we’re going to say I can do it. And I want to believe you. You ready? Inhale nose, exhale mantra. I can do it. Good. One more round. Inhale nose, exhale.
Children: I can do it.
Greg: Now stand up. Good. Roll the shoulders back. Okay, ready. Inhale nose, exhale.
Children: I can do it.
Greg: Now make me believe you. Inhale nose, exhale mantra.
Children: I can do it.
Greg: Now use your hands or hand and pump it up. Let me hear some energy in your body. Ready. Inhale nose. I can do it.
Children: I can do it.
Greg: Now I want to hear one more. I want everyone on the ice to hear you. You ready for that? Send this message through the entire arena. Ready, last one. Inhale nose, exhale. I can do it.
Children: I can do it.
Greg: Yes, you can. Give yourselves a hand, guys. All right. Have a sit. And thank you so much for your attention and your participation. You did an awesome job. What are your questions? Any questions that maybe you had from last year that you want to ask today or maybe it’s the first time you’ve heard me speak with you and you have a question. Any questions. You guys get it, huh? You get it. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Let me hear from one or two of you what is the purpose of your life. How many of you really know what you want to achieve in life? Not just the gold, not just winning a competition or getting your next pull-up but something bigger than that. Who feels that sense of knowingness? Who’s that character here in the room that put your pan in that water and struck gold right away? I know there’s someone here, there always is. Let’s hear it. Yes.
Riley: I want to play college hockey.
Greg: Outstanding. College ice hockey? Now, here’s a question for you. What’s your name?
Greg: Riley? So Riley, you want to play college ice hockey. If Kyle Maynard were here, do you know the follow up question he would ask you?
Greg: Why. So why do you want to play college ice hockey?
Riley: Because I love it.
Greg: You love it. Why do you love ice hockey?
Riley: Because I can escape from all my troubles.
Greg: So when you’re escaping from troubles what are you experiencing?
Riley: I feel free.
Greg: You feel free. Do you feel joy?
Greg: Do you feel love?
Greg: Do you feel enthusiasm, maybe even close to God?
Greg: Yes, exactly. So when we are expressing the unique talents that we have, those are all the qualities that we will feel. So I’ll tell you this, Riley, there is something about the purpose of your life that is really integrated with your expression of those qualities on the ice. So one of the questions we can ask ourselves when we’re pursuing the purpose of my life is what do I do and when I’m doing it feel really good. So maybe when you exercise you feel amazing. Maybe when you’re encouraging your friends you feel great. Maybe when you’re playing hockey you feel incredible.
God gave you specific skills and abilities to use just like any gift. Imagine a gift that your parents gave you, and you really wanted that gift. And now you’re playing with the gift that you received. How do you feel? You feel great, you feel happy. Well, it’s the same thing with fatherly gifts, gifts from God. When we use them we feel great. That’s the whole point of the gifts that we have. And here’s the good news. When we use those gifts in the fulfillment of the purpose of our life, that is when we can achieve anything that we desire.
Well, my friends, I hope that you enjoyed that lecture and presentation, and in respects, that ministry that I gave to the families and the athletes who were part of that special day in Brighton, Michigan. In the same manner that I prayed that day for those kids and those athletes and those parents, I want to take a moment to pray for you.
God, I just pray that in this moment, God, that you would abundantly bless the listener of this show, God, abundantly bless every department of their life. And God, I know from the experiences in my life and the experiences in the lives of my mentors, God, that the real abundance we all seek is abundance in our mind.
God, I pray, therefore, that the quality of every thought in the listeners’ mind right now would increase, would expand, would enlarge and would come to life, God. Bless their mind. Put a new and right spirit within them. God, keep them safe and help them to discover the purpose of their life and to fulfill that purpose every day.
Well, my friends, take care, and I will speak to you again soon back here on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
Female: 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.
[0:51:06] End of Audio
Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Twelve”
Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode number 12 of The Greg Amundson Show. Thank you so much for joining me today. My friends, I am very excited to share with you today’s message which is called Meditation on the Warrior’s Path. I remember when I was in first grade at Presentation Elementary School in Stockton, California. This school was associated with Presentation Catholic Church and was presided over by a senior priest named Father Michael Kelly. From grades one through six, my teachers were nuns. This was a very, very traditionally one Catholic school. We began every single morning with prayer, both silent prayer and prayer as a class that was led by either the nun who was teaching us, or on Fridays, we would have a special visit from Father Michael Kelly.
On one particular morning, after we prayed the Lord’s Prayer with Father Michael Kelly, he challenged us to repeat in our mind ten times the word “amen.” The challenge was repeating the word amen ten times perfectly clearly in our mind and to count every repetition of the word amen. In the event we were trying to think the word amen, yet another thought entered our mind, we simply forgave ourselves for not being able to reach ten repetitions of amen, and then went back to the beginning. This process would repeat itself over and over until in our young minds we were able to count ten repetitions of the word amen.
Well, although Father Michael Kelly did not refer to this particular practice as meditation, that was my first introduction to the power of meditation. It’s amazing what Father Michael Kelly instilled in me that day. The ability to focus the mind on one particular word is what is known in the meditation practices as transcendental meditation or mantra meditation in which we focus the mind on one word or one particular sound that may or may not have any meaning whatsoever. We simply repeat the sound or the word over and over and over, and that word or sound acts like an anchor that drops through our consciousness, through our thinking mind into the very depths of our soul. It allows the mind to still. It allows the mind to settle. It allows the mind to become clear. And, my friends, the real joy to be had in meditation is that once the mind becomes still, then we can experience the presence and the peace of God.
There’s a fantastic story that is told in the warrior tradition of martial arts. The story is of a young martial artist who comes to his master instructor and says, “How do I know when I’m ready?” This young man wants to have some certainty that his technique has reached a certain level of proficiency that would allow him to defend himself should he be attacked. His teacher promptly sits down in a meditative posture and then says, “When you can sit in silent meditation and not the roughest ruffian would dare make onset to your presence, then you’re ready.”
I just love that story because how often do we find ourselves assuming that it is the next accolade, it is the next physical accomplishment, it is the next object of our desire that will lead to our happiness, that will help us to feel like we’ve got it, now we’re ready. The physical pursuit within the world is so tempting. Yet, time and time again, the wisdom tradition from the Bible to the martial arts teaches us it is in fact our ability to be still both in our body and in our mind that is the pathway, that is the gate to all happiness, to all joy.
This is, in fact, why Jesus Christ warned his disciples about the illusion and the temptation of looking over here or looking over there, referring to the tendency of the mind to project itself through the senses onto material objects of our desire. Christ said, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” And it is our practice of meditation that allows us to come into very real contact with the kingdom of God, with the very presence of God.
My friends, I introduce basic meditation in my new book Firebreather Fitness: Work Your Body, Mind, and Spirit into the Best Shape of Your Life. And I thought it would be fantastic to turn to this book and the particular chapter that I wrote on meditation. The feedback that I have received from Firebreather Fitness has been fantastic. It’s been wonderful. And the particular section that people find most captivating and most helpful on their path is the section on spirit. And of course within the section on spirit, we find the specific chapter on meditation.
We pick up on page 179 which is titled Building Strength and Resilience Through the Practice of Meditation. One of the best ways to experience the benefits of meditation is to become aware of our energy and to witness the quality of each breath. We tend to think of energy production in the external sense of the word. However, when you become still and silent during meditation, an entirely new world opens up right before you. You become more aware and sensitive to how closely thoughts and emotions are linked. During the course of our day, we tend to focus on the external objects passing through our field of vision. This draws our energy out into the world. Unfortunately, when focused on the outside world, the mind tends to resist change, working instead to control our external circumstances, forgetting that the external world is outside of our ability to control. Meditation helps to reverse this tendency of the mind to attach to the external world and to reverse the flow of our life force from the outside to the inside.
During an advanced meditation course, master yoga teacher Rolf Gates offered me this visual representation of the effects of meditation. Rolf said, “Greg, when you sit down, close your eyes and become still. The sand begins to settle and the water becomes clear.” In other words, non-action and non-activity allow us to settle down, and in this settled state our minds become clear.
But it is important to note that meditation is not necessarily the absence of thoughts. Meditation is, plainly put, the returning of your attention to the meditation. Let me repeat that one more time. Meditation is, plainly put, the returning of your attention to the meditation. For example, you may choose to focus on your breathing. In this manner, you sit down, you close your eyes and become still. You begin to cultivate your witnessing self and watch yourself breathe. You essentially witness yourself take a deep breath in, you witness the moment of retained breath, then you witness yourself exhale, and then witness the suspended breath. In the moments that you are absolutely one with your breathing, you are experiencing meditation, and a deep sense of peace will be your natural state.
Now, my friends, sometimes that is easier said than done because the tendency for the mind is the following: You take a deep breath in then think, “Oh, man, did I lock my car?” The mind jumps away from the intended focus of meditation. However, rather than judging this experience as negative your task is to simply take notice and gently return the awareness back to the breath. In doing this you resist the temptation to judge yourself negatively with negative self-talk or with criticism. You simply return to the work, you return to the practice, you return to the meditation.
Along with the felt experience of watching my breath I employ another meditation technique frequently, which is the repeating of a mantra within my mind. The mantra meditation is wonderful because it allows the mind to enjoy its natural state of activity in a focused manner. For example, the tendency of the mind is to jump from one thought to thought, from one idea to one idea, from one memory to another memory. By introducing a mantra, the mind settles around this word or sound, repeating it over and over until thinking becomes more subtle.
In this meditation, it is common to experience internal silence between the thoughts or what Deepak Chopra refers to as slipping into the gap between your thoughts. The great wisdom teachers instruct that the space between thinking is the universal space of pure awareness. You directly experience the universal mind, pure potentiality and the unlimited nature of your spirit. In yoga it is very common to use the mantra of the sound “ohm,” and in my early childhood as I already mentioned in the Catholic Church with Father Michael Kelly, he taught me to repeat the word “amen.” Isn’t that wonderful, my friends? That’s from my book Firebreather Fitness.
The reason that I recommend and endorse meditation, my friends, is because it works. It has worked tremendously in my life. When I look to my mentors, what I always look for within my circle of mentors is what are the universal themes, what are the universal strategies, what are the universal recommendations that my mentors are making to me. And, my friends, what I have found is that every single one of the great mentors in my life ranging from my father to my early childhood experience with Father Michael Kelly to more recent mentorship with Rolf Gates — Rolf Gates, by the way, if you have not yet tuned into previous episodes, had an amazing career as a US Army Ranger. He served as a captain in a phenomenal infantry unit, ultimately left the Army to pursue the path of yoga. Rolf Gates is a warrior yogi. Rolf Gates was my second yoga instructor following Mark Divine. And as I’m sure you know, because I speak of him so often, Mark Divine was a US Navy SEAL, a SEAL commander. So these two great warriors taught me the power of none other than becoming still.
The reason that I share the story of the young student approaching his master teacher hoping and thinking that “Oh, I know. There must be one more physical pursuit. There’s got to be one more physical technique that I can learn. And when I learn it I will be ready.” And what did the master say to the student? “Be still.” He essentially said, “Meditate.” When you can sit in such a way that not the roughest ruffian would dare make onset to your presence then you are ready.
You see, what I understand now within that story is the teacher was instructing the student to so cultivate the quality of his mind, that his mind was at peace, his mind was clear. You see, our mind takes on the quality of a great megaphone. We project into the world everything that we think within the temple of our mind. By the law of attraction, we therefore attract into our reality every thought that we entertain. So as a martial artist, if we can discipline our mind to be still, to be at peace, we create peace in our environment.
This is why in The Art of War, the author describes the power of becoming still in your mind and he writes that to win a thousand battles without fighting is the essence of the true warrior. Win first in your mind and then walk onto the field of battle, for only then can you always prevail. My friends, that is meditation.
Seeking first the kingdom of God is meditation. And believe me, when I met Mark Divine and when I met Rolf Gates, I was a lot like that student that was approaching these great teachers thinking, “Oh, this is the next step on my physical journey. I’m going to learn from these great teachers the practice of yoga.” And I was associating yoga with yoga asana or vinyasa as we refer to it in the West, meaning the poses of yoga, when in fact that was really the last thing these teachers wanted to teach me because they knew, “Greg, you do not need another physical pursuit. What you need is to cultivate silence. What you need is to cultivate stillness. What you need is a practice of meditation.”
Here’s what’s really fascinating, my friends. One of the stories that I share very, very often about one of my dear friends and long-time mentors Coach Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, is this: Within just a few months of training with Coach, I wanted to win every single workout. Winning a workout was equivalent to living or dying on the street. That may sound a little bit extreme. It probably was. However, at that time in my life I was a brand-new deputy sheriff, and to me, winning in the gym was giving me the confidence to win on the street. I could simply not accept in the gym anything other than first place.
So I went to Coach Glassman one morning after taking second place in a workout and I said, “Coach, I don’t get it. I feel like I’m working physically harder than every single one of these athletes. I’m attending more classes. I’m practicing the physical movements on my own. I was essentially doing double and triple day workout. Yet, I was not winning the workouts.” And I said, “Coach, what do I have to do? What physical skill, what type of workout, where do I direct my attention?” And I felt certain that Coach was going to spend time with me working on technique and the productive application of strength. However, what coach said was, “Kid, what’s your nutrition like? How are you eating?”
And what’s amazing is at that time all I could say was, “Well, I’m eating.” Yet, I really had no awareness. I had no clue as to the quality or the quantity of food that I was putting into my body. And Coach helped me. He basically took sympathy, he felt bad for me, and he created CliffsNotes of the book Enter the Zone. He broke it down for me, he wrote for me a menu, and I really haven’t a changed that menu too much to this day. You see, Coach was the first person that inspired me to understand the power of physical nutrition.
Now, the reason I emphasize the word physical nutrition is that there is another type of nutrition that is equally important, and that his mental nutrition. One of the stories I’ve shared before on The Greg Amundson Show I think is fitting to share again because it is about the power of meditation and nutrition and how closely the thoughts that we think and the stillness between our thoughts allow us to ultimately influence the quality of our thoughts. Jesus Christ was one day accused of breaking the sacred law because, well, he did not wash his hands before consuming food. And Christ said, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you, it’s what comes out of your mouth.” Isn’t that amazing, my friends? It’s the quality of our spoken word, and we know that what affects the quality of our spoken word is the quality of our thinking.
And back to meditation, the only way that we can ultimately cultivate a pure mind is by allowing our mind to rest in the presence of God. In the Bible it says, “Create in me a clean heart, oh, God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Again, when we remember that the word heart means subconscious mind, what this is essentially saying is “God, Create in me a clean mind. Cleanse my mind, God, of all unrighteousness.” Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and everything else will be provided. Righteousness, my friends, simply means right thinking, the ability to conduct within the temple of our mind, a disciplined way of thinking, a clean temple.
In the Bible it says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Well, my friends, in the Bible the word house is many times used as a metaphor for our mind, the house of our mind. It is essentially saying as for me and as for you, within our mind we will serve the Lord, we will direct our thinking onto God, onto the presence of God and his son Jesus Christ.
My friends, I want to now turn to my book God in Me: Daily Devotions for a Heart Like Christ, and read to you from the devotion from August 11th. We began with the words of Jesus Christ. Christ said, “But to you who are listening, I say love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
And now on to the devotion. One of the great lessons Christ taught was to love your enemies. However, what do you do when the enemy you face is your own negative thinking? Hidden in the rich metaphor of the book of Luke is the secret to this enduring question. You must discipline your mind to think of love, forgiveness and encouragement. In the same manner that a wise carpenter uses a good nail to drive out a bad nail, you can use a positive thought to replace a negative thought. Do not wrestle with the enemies of discouragement, anxiety, fear, uncertainty or despair. Instead, call upon the presence of God in you and elicit the great allies of hope, encouragement, faith and love. Isn’t that a powerful devotional, my friends? This, again, is the power of meditation. What we develop in meditation is the ability of our great witness to witness the quality of our thinking.
A great story from the wisdom tradition that teaches the essence of this very practice of watching our thinking unfolds in this manner: A young man is walking across a beautiful pristine field and suddenly he comes upon an old man. The old man is lying on his back looking up at the clouds. The young man walks up to the old man and says, “Old man, what are you doing lying on your back here in this pasture?” The old man says. “I am watching my thoughts pass by.” And the young man said, “Well, it looks like you’re watching the clouds pass by.” The old man replies, “Ha, young man, don’t you see? It is the same thing.”
Isn’t that a great story? And I love that story because using nature, using the creation of God all around us enables us to really gain perspective on the power of meditation. Using that story, the great witness that I often describe, this is the same great witness that Mark Divine describes, the great witness in that story is the sky. The thoughts are the clouds passing beneath the awareness of the sky, and what we discover through the practice of meditation is that thoughts come and thoughts go, just like weather comes and goes, just like clouds come and go, yet, the sky remains the same.
And for those of us on the path of the warrior, what we discover during meditation is that God remains the same. This is why the Bible says God is the same yesterday, today and forever more. And when our mind settles on the presence of God, we can become still on the rock of his foundation. In that stillness we then cultivate the ability to watch or witness our thoughts pass by. We discipline ourselves not to attach to the thought. The only way a thought gains power is by our attachment to it or our aversion from it. In and of itself, a thought has no power. We simply breathe life into it when we focus on it.
Meditation, my friends, has been such a singular powerful practice in my life, and the good news is that those people whom I am now mentoring and encouraging on the path of the warrior, they have confirmed the power of that one addition, that one variable in their life — meditation. And so, my friends, I encourage you if you have not already started a basic practice of meditation to begin today. I remember the words of my dear friend and mentor, the one and only Pit Master, John Hackleman. He says, “NTLP, baby, there is no time like the present.”
Those of you that have already started on the path of meditation, I give you the advice that one of my drill sergeants gave me in US Army basic combat training. He said, “Stay the course.” Stay the course. Commit to your practice. The practice of meditation, just like the practice of breathwork, just like the practice of gaining greater intimacy with the presence of God, needs to be a daily discipline, my friends. Meditate every day, even if it’s only for a few moments.
Remember Dan Brule, one of the great modern-day warrior yogis, a renowned breath master. He told me that a breath practice can be as simple as taking one mindful breath a day. And what we find is that meditation and breathwork are very, very closely linked. They are two sides of the same coin, because as we take a deep breath in and as we witness that breath, we are engaging in the practice of meditation.
Well, my friends, I just want to take a moment to pray with you. God, I just pray that wherever this person is who is listening to my words in this moment, God, I pray that you would bless them. I pray, God, that you would bless them with peace. I pray, God, that you would bless them with clarity of mind. I pray that you would renew the quality of their thinking. God, I pray that you would put a new and right spirit within them. God, I pray that you would create a clean heart within them. And God, I pray that you would keep them safe and healthy as they continue to embark on the warrior’s path.
Well, my friends, thank you for listening to the episode today, and I will talk to you again soon back here on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
[0:30:37] End of Audio
Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Eleven”
Greg: Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode number 11 of The Greg Amundson Show. Today’s show is essentially a continuation of Episode 10, which was titled Encouragement on the Warrior’s Path.
Episode 10 introduced us to the notion that every single one of us, my friends, is born into the world with a very special mission to accomplish during our life. The company commander, if you will, the person who has assigned with this unique mission that only you and I can fulfill is none other than our heavenly Father. We’ve been given specific talents, unique skills and very unique ways of delivering the skill sets that we have to the world. These skills are what are known as gifts from the Father, heavenly gifts, gifts from God. God gave us these very special gifts and these unique ways of expressing these gifts because in order to fulfill the purpose of our life we need our unique tools, gifts and abilities.
My friends, to begin our episode today, I want to share with you a very, very special story. Many years ago, a young man went to see the wise old man in his village. The young man said, “I don’t know what to do with my life. How in the world am I going to find my purpose?” “Follow me,” said the old man. Silently they trudged together to a faraway river where they found dozens of prospectors who were panning for gold.
“There are three types of prospectors here,” the old man said. “What do you mean?” the young man inquired.
“There are those who strike gold right away. Excited, they take their plunder, their bounty, their wealth and they cash it in and they live comfortably for the rest of their lives. Then there are those who pan for years and years. They just know there’s gold in there. They’ve seen others find gold. And so they persist until they too find the gold that they’ve been searching for.”
“What about the third type?” asked the young man.
“They are the individuals who get frustrated that they haven’t found what they are looking for. So after a day, a week or maybe even a year they give up. They walk away and they never find gold.”
Well, this slightly confused the young man and the young man said, “Yeah, but what’s this got to do with finding the purpose of my life?”
“Ah, yes, purpose to life, the age-old question.” The old man smiled and looked onto the young man with love and compassion in his eyes. Then he said, “There are those in life who look for their purpose and seem to find it almost immediately. From a young age they have a clear sense of purpose and pursue their dreams with energy and enthusiasm. Others have to look a bit harder, perhaps for many years, but they just know that if they persist and keep looking, they will find something to live for. Finally, there are those who want to know their purpose, yet they become frustrated by the search and they give up too soon, returning to a life of meaningless wandering.”
“Can everyone find their purpose?” asked the young man, full of renewed enthusiasm.
“Is there gold in the river?” the old man laughed as he replied.
“So how do I find my purpose?” inquired the young man, once again with boundless enthusiasm. “Keep looking,” replied the old man.
“But what if I want to find it now?” asked the young man. The old man replied, “Patience, patience. There are no guarantees that you will find it quickly. The only guarantee is that if you have the courage and the persistence to keep looking, then you will find it.”
And so, my friends, when you reflect on that story, where are you in your search? Did you know from a young age what God innately directed you to do during your life? Are you now in the process of searching for your life purpose, or have you become frustrated by the search? This question of life purpose is something that I have always been so passionate about. Undoubtedly, this enthusiasm was gifted to me by my mom and dad. They encouraged me from a young age to pursue my dreams and goals, and they were a constant source of encouragement in my life.
One of my dearest friends, she is a yoga teacher renowned around the world. She is the co-author along with Mark Divine of the fantastic book on yoga called Kokoro Yoga. She is the head yoga instructor for Kokoro Yoga. She is an author of a new book that will be released later this summer on meditation. Her name is Catherine Divine.
Catherine and I have been friends for many, many years. She’s someone I consider a dear mentor in my life on the path of yoga and meditation as well as breathwork. Catherine is equally enthusiastic about discovering and teaching the principles of life purpose. And what’s really exciting is we are going to drop in my friends on a conversation that was recorded between Catherine and I. This conversation took place at SEALFIT headquarters inside the Kokoro Yoga studio. This was filmed live for Unbeatable Mind and Kokoro Yoga Online, and we have a special opportunity today to drop in on this recorded conversation, which is all about the purpose of our life. Without further ado my friends, off we go to SEALFIT.
Catherine: Hello, welcome to Kokoro Yoga Online, I’m Catherine Divine and this is Greg Amundson. You hopefully have gotten a chance to practice with both of us at some point, whether it’s a breathing exercise or a movement exercise. And today, we’re going to do a little conversation around purpose, which in the Sanskrit it’s called dharma, dharma, your purpose, what you’re born in with. It’s something Greg and I have talked about quite a bit over the time we’ve known each other, and it’s evolved in our conversation. So I just want to start out with that question to you to talk about how you view purpose, how it’s evolved in your life as you’ve walked to your path. Yeah.
Greg: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think first and foremost, we are all born with an innate purpose in life. So the context for that for the warrior is we all have a mission that we have to accomplish. The means for the fulfillment of the accomplishment of the mission are many. We can take different routes to that instate. Sooner or later it will be fulfilled. Yet, the sooner that we can begin to contemplate and understand and ultimately move the direction of our life towards the purpose of our life, the better, because that’s when life really takes on a new flavor, and life gets exciting and meaningful because we’re moving towards our purpose.
Catherine: I’ve used the story that you share a lot about the plane setting trajectory to go to, say, Japan. And then if you change one degree, then it’s going to land maybe San Diego.
Greg: Yes, not Japan.
Catherine: Not Japan. So what you’re saying, I hear that in that, is that, okay, we’re going to get there, but there might be some detours that are unnecessary if we make choices that we either as we cultivate the warrior intuition, we know isn’t in alignment with our purpose, or we know that we need to do something different that what’s in alignment for service to, say, our families, or our path we’re already on, knowing that we are going to make another turn at some point.
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. Another metaphor, in addition to that plane being a degree off is GPS, because we all know the function of Garmin in our life. We get into our car and we program our desired destination. Put the car in gear and away we go. And we approach the first turn and Garmin says “Turn right” and we think what? No way, Garmin. I’m going left. And thankfully all is not lost because Garmin recalculates, and Garmin will continue to recalculate until we get back on course.
Therefore, if we can discipline ourselves to make the first right turn, we are going to be at our destination with so much less heartache and suffering. The good news is that if we’re a bit stubborn and we’re imposing our will on the direction we want to go, so be it. Sooner or later we will recalculate and we’ll recalibrate the system and we’ll get to our destination. Yet, you could see in that metaphor or with the plane metaphor if we can just set our course from the beginning and know what it is, that route is going to be way more fun, way more scenic.
Catherine: Right, way more scenic, right.
Greg: It’s getting more enjoyable.
Catherine: You could see the waves, the urchins, the dolphins jumping.
Greg: Yeah, absolutely.
Catherine: So I know for myself when I have gone down the route of my life around being in alignment with what I thought was my purpose and then started to spend more time in seated meditation and surrender to the higher calling that I heard messages about my purpose — and that’s one of the things that I’m getting a little meditation plug here of why it’s so important to sit in silence in that state of awareness that there is this innate wisdom that’s greater than ourselves that will provide for us answers if we’re willing to be open enough and still enough to hear them.
Greg: Yeah, beautifully said. We need to cultivate the space in our thinking because if we’re solely identifying with our conscious thought process, that means that we’re more likely identifying with our ego. The ego is very fearful of losing that identity. The ego is very fearful of a challenge that they’re not certain they can accomplish. Your life purpose is beyond the reach and the grasp of your ego. Your life purpose is, by design and by nature, afraid of no challenge. The life purpose knows that it will be fulfilled. It’s only a matter of time. The only way to begin to witness that is through space in our own thinking, and the only way to create that space back to the plug is this. Boom! Mediation, silence, stillness, meditation.
Catherine: And seeing the repetitive thoughts even whenever the distractions come in. And then another piece around this that you and I have talked about was that sometimes that fear of the ego says, “Who am I to do this?” We were talking about this a little earlier today and I had contemplated a lot on that conversation and thought, “Well, who am I not to?” Right? That’s where I’m starting to come to, and there’s a great poem about that. Our job is to be the bright light. I don’t know it exactly, but this idea of wait a second. Once I know what this is and it’s the warrior path and the fear is knocking at the door, that wolf of fear, and then there’s the courage wolf that says, “Hey, wait a second. No, I’m going to take a step forward towards this calling, towards what fires me in my belly and my heart and is in alignment with that peaceful state of mind.”
Greg: Yeah, it’s beautiful. The Bible talks about metaphorically a lamp that is covered, and you can’t cover a lamp. It needs to fulfill its purpose, which is light. So we have an innate calling in life, and to deny that, to suppress that is of no service to anyone, including ourselves. We were born to shine our light. We’re born to fulfill our purpose. And the good news is that when we step onto that path doors are opened for us. The universe conspires in the fulfillment of our own purpose because we’re part of the universe. And as we accomplish and as we move forward in the fulfillment of our mission, of our purpose we synch up with the mission of the universe, which is fulfillment and greater growth and expansion. So it’s part of our destiny.
Catherine: Right. There’s something beautiful about that, what you’re saying about those doors opening up because I think that’s a good sign for all of us if we’re in alignment with our higher truths or out of alignment, because the out of alignment I know for myself it will feel like I’m almost like that banging my head up against the wall. Well, this is the same story again. Or I feel like I’m having to, and you had said this earlier too, imply my will instead of like more of a surrendered state and I always describe it as like being in that flow state that people talk about or plugging in, like if you plugged the lamp into the universe, right, using that metaphor from the Bible too. It’s like, okay, I’m plugging in, so now it’s just going to flow.
So I’m going to happen to be standing in front of someone in line that has that piece of information that I really need to get me to call this one person. They have the phone number. And then I call that one person and they know exactly the next turn I need to make and it is that easy. It’s not. And of course, this is one question I had for you. Of course there’s times where that warriors need to focus and work comes in. I’ve been saying that to you as we were filming earlier. It’s like you can see that beauty of your [0:16:06] [Indiscernible], your heat, your discipline and focus. And if you get to just talk about that and like how that lines up with living purpose and how it’s inspired you.
Greg: Sure. We have an ability, an innate ability to utilize our free will. That’s a gift that God/the universe/spirit has bestowed upon all of us. When we are able to utilize our free will in the fulfillment of our purpose, that’s when our power takes on a new quality that we may not even be able to fathom. When we are imposing our will out of alignment with our innate purpose, granted, we still have an ability to impose the will, yet the level of potential for that fulfillment of will will be significantly less.
So a good metaphor would be imagine a muscle-up, very challenging CrossFit gymnastics skill. No amount of sheer strength will allow the fulfillment of that skill to take place. In order to fulfill that skill, it has to be the right application of the strength, the right production of the strength, the right alignment of the strength. That’s how our will can be utilized. When our will is imposed in alignment with our life purpose, that’s when we can have that laser focus. That’s why I think in the warrior tradition, we see the symbols of the spear and of the sword, because the warrior is able to use that sword to first cut out of the warrior’s life distraction, noise, and then to pierce into the heart of what their purpose is. That’s that single-pointed intention that allows it to come to fruition.
Catherine: Yeah, it’s interesting that you say that too. The more I study symbolism and different images from all different cultures across the times, there are those key ones that show up in almost every single culture, and it is something like the sword.
Greg: The sword. Well, in the warrior tradition, it’s the sword and the shield.
Greg: So, again, we can look at the modern-day use of the shield. Symbolically, the shield is protecting us. It’s the helmet of salvation, as the Bible would say it. It protects us from negativity.
Greg: So we use the shield in one hand to guard us against negativity, ego, self-doubt, and simultaneously as we block, we pierce into the heart of our intention. So for the warrior, like those symbols, they have relevance even today.
Catherine: Right. And look how beautiful you just worded that, in that peaceful way of alignment and purpose. It’s truly to have that focus. So in that, I think that one thing I’ll share and then maybe you can share a personal story. For me, was I had, and I think I’ve told you this, but I had arthritis in my hands in my early 20s and then I started to meditate and do yoga. I had a meditation where my hands told me like, “We’re going to keep hurting until you use us for wiring this body.” That’s to put on people and help move energy and heal and like a massage therapist does or other energetic modalities. The minute I started teaching full time and putting my hands on people, I had some pretty, and still do to this day, interesting experiences that people would speak back to me, my hands stopped hurting. That was a message that I received, taking it into action and still taking it into action slowly but surely, and seeing that transmission or the transition of my own physical pain dissolving because of the resistance that was going on. It’s pretty phenomenal.
Greg: Awesome. I love this testimonial.
Catherine: Yeah. So I’d love to hear one from you and then —
Greg: Yeah, sure. I think I was from a young age very aware of the power of the spoken word, and that was a gift that my dad gave me. So my earliest childhood memories, I’m in my dad’s car going to the YMCA to physically exercise, and on our way there we have a cassette tape of Wayne Dyer or Deepak Chopra. So my dad is integrating for me at a very young age the synchronicity between the capability of our body, which is fueled by the power of our mind, which is sparked by the words that we speak.
The nice thing about using our words in a self-affirming way is that that innately helps fulfill any life purpose that we have. So ultimately, in order to fulfill your life purpose you have to use words in a self-affirming way. You have to declare what your purpose is and in that declaration you state in the positive tense this is why I’m here. This is the purpose of my life. And I just love , again, going to the Bible to look for inspiration because one of the first recorded moments in the life of Christ is when he was in the synagogue and he said for the first time, “This is why I’ve come.” He publicly announced, “This is the purpose of my life. This is why I’m here.” And what was shocking is that many people who heard his purpose said, “No way, you can’t possibly fulfill that purpose.” And whether or not people in that moment actually said that or it was doubt in Christ’s mind, hmm, interesting way to consider the story, because the moment that we declare the purpose of our life there is simultaneously self-doubt, and oftentimes, we’re surrounded by people who are going to try to put out our fire.
So this is why to have a purpose in life requires the warrior spirit. Because as we declare the purpose of our life, we simultaneously ignite the opening of doors to assist us and we also spark opposition and resistance. Those two things are arising at the same time. So yes, doors are opening, and yes, there’s going to be a voice of self-doubt that says, “Don’t go through that door.” Isn’t that amazing? So that’s why the modern day warrior, that archetype is so valid because we can, in fact, engage on a very real field of battle every single day of our life and ultimately be victorious every single day of our life.
Catherine: Right, it’s our world-centric warrior image that Mark speaks so beautifully about and that we are all here in our Kokoro Yoga community working with, yeah.
Catherine: And so in that also I would state that that’s part of our purpose is to share the learning and the growth of our own practices, our own evolution, and that’s the calling to teach and something we’ve both been doing for a long time, and I feel so grateful to have gotten to spend this moment with you.
Greg: Oh, this is awesome.
Catherine: It’s awesome. Thank you all for being with us and being part of our community. Starlight, her purpose is obvious.
Greg: Yes, she has been great joy, great joy.
Catherine: Great joy to this planet.
Greg: One note too is my mom and dad have both passed away, huge source of inspiration in my life. In terms of a clue into everyone’s life purpose, my mom said something really interesting. Just before she passed away, she said, “Everybody can encourage somebody and be supported at the same time.” So I think there’s something about our life purpose that innately provides encouragement for other people.
Catherine: That’s beautiful.
Greg: Haven’t you noticed that? I mean, this is the sense of what you just said, like we’re here as a source of encouragement. And we really are, like as Catherine and I and as you, as we begin to move the direction of our life towards the fulfillment of our purpose, I’m certain that as part of the warrior archetype is in service of others.
Greg: That must mean that as we move towards the purpose of our life, we are serving others, which must, therefore, mean we’re an encouragement to others. So it’s like if you are in doubt, if you’re looking and contemplating “What’s my purpose?” where in your life are you finding yourself encouraging others? That’s likely a clue into what you were born to do.
Catherine: And that gave me goosebumps everywhere.
Greg: Oh, it’s all right too.
Greg: Yeah, love you.
Catherine: Love you.
Greg: Well, my friends, I sincerely hope you enjoyed that amazing conversation with my dear friend Catherine Divine.
My friends, I sincerely pray in this moment that wherever you are on the path of your life, whether you are certain that you are on fire with your purpose, or if you’re feeling like the flames of your purpose are being put out by opposition, or if you’re still searching for the purpose of your life wherever you are in this moment, my friends, I pray that your greatest source of encouragement and inspiration would be the presence of God in your life.
My friends, until we speak again here on The Greg Amundson Show, I pray that God would bless you and keep you safe. And we will speak again, my friends, right back here on the show. Take care.
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Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Ten”
Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode number 10 of The Greg Amundson Show. I’m so happy and grateful to be able to share this time with you today. And my friends, listen carefully. I sincerely believe that wherever you are in the great journey of your life, in this moment you need to hear this message. Our episode today is dedicated to providing you with encouragement along the warrior’s path. Let’s look carefully at the two words in our title. Encouragement and warrior. My friends, I sincerely believe that every single one of us has an innate warrior spirit within us. And it is absolutely vital that we embrace and harness and forge and temper that warrior spirit. Because that spirit of the warrior within us is absolutely vital and necessary in the accomplishment of our life purpose.
One of my favorite bedtime stories when I was growing up was told to me by my dad. I’ve always cherished this story. This story is very popular in the Christian faith. This story’s title is Footprints.
Many, many years ago an old man came to the end of his life. As he ended his life on Earth, he awoke in the loving embrace of Christ. And Christ and this old man begin to walk along a beautiful seashore. Together they were reviewing all of the ebb and flow of this old man’s life. And the old man noticed that there were two sets of footprints in the sand. Yet he also noticed that during the very challenging, in fact the lowest times of his life, there were only one set of footprints. This greatly saddened and troubled the old man.
So the old man looked at his Savior. He looked at Christ and said, “I was told that when I believed in you, you would always walk with me. Why is it that when we reflect over my life at the lowest points of my life, when I clearly needed you most, there were only one set of footprints?”
And the Lord looked at the old man and said, “My precious child, I love you. Those times in your life when you were at your lowest and you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I was carrying you.”
Wow. What a powerful story. The message in my mind as I share this story is my hope for you that you can find in that story and in the totality of the message that we share together today a great a deal of encouragement. Isn’t it encouraging to know that as you and I go through our life, as we experience the ebb and flow of our life, we are always in the presence of God. In any given moment of our life, we can look to God for help, for support and for encouragement.
Let me share with you something remarkable that my mother once told me. And what’s really incredible about these words I’ll share with you in just a moment is these are the last words that my mother spoke to me before she passed away. My mom had been in and out of a coma following a severe stroke that she had in, of all places, Jordan. My mom was in Jordan serving with the Peace Corps, had a massive stroke from an undiagnosed huge growth in her brain. And she was medically evacuated back to first, UC Davis Medical Center then she went to Dameron Hospital for a period of time and ultimately back to UC Davis where she passed away. Yet it was at Dameron Hospital with me seated at the foot of her bed that she came out of this coma that she was in. And she looked at me and with a great urgency in her voice. As if she was sharing a message with me that was given to her from beyond our understanding of space and time.
She looked at me with this urgency and enthusiasm. She said, “Greg, everybody can encourage somebody and be supported at the same time.” And after that my mom and I held eye contact. And I embraced her. And she stayed with me for several more minutes and then dozed off and fell asleep. Those words, to this day rings so true in my mind because as I reflect over my life, what I found is at the critical junctions in my life, I was supported. At the critical junctions in my life, there was someone there that was able to give me a word of encouragement. And the words of my mom are so important for you and I to understand. Because my friends, I believe that very often, God is speaking through you and I a word of encouragement to another person. Perhaps that person is a loved one. Or perhaps that person is a complete stranger.
Let me share with you an amazing moment in my life. When I was serving as a special agent with the DEA, I was stationed in El Centro, California. When I wasn’t actively pursuing with my co-agents the major drug cartels in Mexico, I was speaking at low-income schools in the San Diego and Imperial Valley. I was speaking to young kids about the dangers of drugs, about the dangers of violence and about the dangers of gangs. And it was my hope that I could reach a child at a young age and provide them with encouragement and support. And so that they would not be tempted into the life of drugs and violence and gangs that was so tempting along the US-Mexico border.
One day, I finished speaking to a group of fourth grade students. When I finished, a young boy came up to me. He pointed at the shirt I was wearing. And I always spoke when wearing a black shirt and across the chest it said “Police”. Well, the young boy points at my shirt and with a great deal of enthusiasm in his voice, he says, “When I grow up, I want to be a police just like you.”
Now, the young boy was much shorter than I was so I bent down to his approximate height, reached out my right hand for a high-five while simultaneously saying, “That’s great! You can do it!” I was expecting the high-five. Yet the high-five never came.
And the smile faded from his face. And he started to shake his head and said, “No, I can’t.”
And I said, “Why not?”
He said, “Because my daddy told me I’m going to grow up and be just like him.”
Well if you know me or if you’ve read any of my books or tuned in to this podcast then you probably know that I’m a very optimistic guy. And so in that moment, I thought to myself, “Well, hopefully his dad is an astronaut. Or a rocket scientist. Or a doctor. Something amazing.” And so of course his dad wants him to grow up and be just like him.
Yet either way, you can see how this begs the question to the young boy: “What does your dad do?”
The young boy looked up to me with innocence in his eyes and said, “My daddy is in prison for dealing drugs. And he told me I’m going to grow up and be just like him.”
Well, in that moment, time stood still for me, my friends. Time stood still. And I realized that this young boy who was in my presence in that moment had never heard from his father a positive word of encouragement. He’d never heard from his dad, “Son, you can do it. Son, I believe in you. Son, you can accomplish your dreams and goals. Son, I support you. Son, I will encourage you.” He never heard those words. And those were the words that I heard every single night before I went to bed from my dad. And this young boy had never heard a word of encouragement from his own father.
And I started to think to myself, “When’s the last time this young boy has heard a word of encouragement?” Not just from his father, but from anybody in his life. Was that word of encouragement that I had just given him moments before, that “You can do it!” Was that the first word of encouragement that he’d heard that day? That week? That month? That year? Maybe that lifetime? And it made me realize, my friends, you and I never know. We can’t even fathom the way that God is working through our life through our very voice on a day-to-day basis. Doesn’t that make you want to cherish your words? To be a little bit kinder. To be a little bit more gracious. To be a little bit more loving. To be a little bit more encouraging with everything that you say?
Something else remarkable about that young boy and that moment in his life. When it comes to walking the warrior path, pursuing our life purpose is that there’s an incredible story about Jesus Christ. In His declaration of His life purpose, He was told, “That is not your purpose. And you cannot fulfill it.” You see, the first time that Christ publicly ministered in the synagogue, He read from the scroll of Isaiah.
And while reading from the scroll of Isaiah, He said, “Behold! The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. I am anointed.” And then He went on to tell everyone who was there that day in the synagogue the purpose of His life.
To which someone in the audience said, “I know you. Aren’t you Joseph’s son?” Meaning, “You’re just a carpenter.” Because at that time, a boy would grow into the footsteps of his own father.” Isn’t that amazing, my friends? That that young boy whom I spoke to in El Centro told he was going to grow up and be just like his dad. And that is the exact same prophecy that a complete stranger gave to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. And what it makes me realize my friends is that when you and I step on to the warrior’s path. Meaning that when we commit to pursuing the purpose of our life, it’s very likely that there will be opposition along that path. The opposition may very well come from loved ones. From family members. From friends. Perhaps from strangers. Or this challenge that we face, this opposition to our life purpose may very well come from within our own mind. From within the temple of our own mind. Our own thought process may try to defeat us.
And this is why our episode today is encouragement on the warrior’s path. Because as we pursue the purpose of our life, we need to embrace the warrior spirit. It will take no less than the spirit within you, my friends, to accomplish and to fulfill the purpose of your life.
Along the path of the warrior. Along the path of your life purpose, it is absolutely vital that you discipline yourself to be very mindful of where you are giving your attention. The reason for this is that Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount said, “If thine eye be single, then thy whole body shall be full of light.” And my friends, that’s statement is the summation of all truth. If thine eye be single, then thy whole body shall be full of light. You see, my friends, whatever you are giving your attention to, that is the thing that will govern your life.
I recall when I was preparing to give the very first CrossFit goal-setting seminar. God put on my heart this statement that has been with me ever since. God put on my heart, “Greg, whatever you focus your attention on will increase in your life. Energy will flow from you onto the object of your attention. Therefore, the object of our attention, meaning our focus, our attention needs to be first and foremost, on God. The tendency of the mind is to direct our attention onto the material world, which is always changing. Whereas if we direct our attention to the presence of God, which is the same yesterday, today and forevermore then and only then as Christ tells us will our body, meaning the experiences of our life, only then will they be full of light.
My friends, I also want to read you a very short few sentences from a dear friend of mine’s book. This book is called A Warrior’s Faith, by a genius author and dear friend of the warrior community named Robert Vera. In his book, on page 134, Robert writes I think the most beautiful few sentences in the totality of his book.
He writes, “This life that we have all been given is an amazing event in the history of the universe. For a short time, we will walk in the Earth together and commune with each other. And when our work is done here, our Creator will take us home.”
And so my friends, you see what I really want to do is encourage you that on this life, on this path, on this journey that you and I are all on to be a little bit more loving, supportive and encouraging of each other. Yet remember, oftentimes, when we’re on this path, the enemy that we really need to be aware of in our life is our own negative thinking. And so I’m also encouraging you not to only be encouraging to other people, meaning the external environment in your life, but to be a little bit more loving and encouraging and supportive of none other than yourself.
My friends, to conclude our very brief episode today, I want to read to you from a chapter or rather a devotional in my book God In Me. One of the questions that I get from the friends in my life, the loved ones in my life, and those people who I mentor and coach is, “Greg, what’s the purpose in my life? Do I have a life purpose? I can’t seem to identify what the purpose of my life is.”
And I always answer in the same way, and that is, “Yes, I sincerely believe that God gave each and every one of us a very special, a very unique life purpose. A mission in essence. A mission that each one of us has to fulfill. And this particular devotional speaks to that truth that I hold in my heart. This devotion is from June 30th.
Although you can choose to follow any path during the great adventures of your life, only one path was made just for you. You have unique talents and ways of expressing your divine gifts that God intended exclusively for you. These talents and gifts are for your benefit and for the benefit of everyone you come into contact with. When you shine the great light within you, God magnifies the intensity of your power. Therefore, do not let anyone or anything dim your light or convince you to follow a path you feel distant from. Hold tightly to the hand of God and allow His leadership to guide your thoughts and actions. You were divinely created for goodness, for justice and to joyfully express the great heart within you.
Well, my friends, I just want to be a voice of encouragement in your life today. If you haven’t heard the words, “You can do it!” If you haven’t heard the words, “I believe in you!” If you haven’t heard the words, “I believe that you have what it takes to accomplish your dreams and goals!” Then I’m grateful that my voice can be that voice in your life that you may need to hear today.
My friends, in conclusion I pray that God would bless you. That he would watch over you. And that ultimately God would be that great source of encouragement and fulfillment in your life. Take care, my friends, and I will talk to you again soon back here on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care!
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Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Nine”
Hello, my friends, and welcome to Episode number 9 of The Greg Amundson Show. Today’s show is dedicated to identifying the qualities of the warrior spirit. We often talk on this show of the warrior. The modern-day warrior. The warrior tradition. The warrior spirit. The warrior class. Therefore, we need to be consistent with our terms. This was the brilliance of my dear friend and longtime mentor, Coach Glassman, in the formation of The CrossFit program. The definition of CrossFit is: “constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.”
Now, in the early days of CrossFit, people were making a pilgrimage to that small gym on Research Park Drive to learn from Coach Glassman. However, many people also came because they wanted to share their developed expertise in functional movement with coach. Let me tell you, my friends, that over the seven or eight years that the original CrossFit gym was opened on Research Park Drive, we saw some rather bizarre definitions of functional movement. People came into the gym claiming to be teaching functional movement. Yet what they were teaching was not consistent with the methodology that coach was teaching. And very soon we realized, well, if we claimed to be doing functional movement, we need to define our terms. This was the brilliance of Coach Glassman. To really define, to articulate very specifically, exactly what he meant when he said, “We do functional movement at high intensity.” He defined to the ninth degree every quality of functional movement. And so that when we claim to be doing functional movement, we were speaking a language that we all agreed upon and understood.
When I teach The CrossFit Law Enforcement Seminar, I often joke and I say, “Imagine, my friends, if we all got into a bus and traveled around the respective town that we find ourselves in and we went into a gym and we asked the trainer in the gym, ‘Are you doing functional movement?’ What is that trainer going to say? In regards to doing functional movement? That trainer is going to say, ‘Yes, I am.’ And if we asked the clients whom that trainer was coaching, ‘Are you doing functional movement?’ Those clients are going to also say, ‘Yes, we are.’ Imagine the opposite. Imagine going into a gym, approaching the trainer and asking the trainer, ‘Are you doing functional movement?’ And that trainer sounding off with a resounding “No. As a matter of fact, in this gym, we do non-functional training.'”
It just doesn’t make sense. Everyone in this day and age, claims to be doing functional movement. My recollection in 2001 when I first found coach is that I thought I was doing functional movement. I mean, after all, that’s what the Academy Instructors at South Bay Regional convinced me I was doing when I was running long, slow distance. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. And was partaking in body-building movements, such as bicep curls, deltoid raise and calf raise on Tuesday and Thursday. They claimed that was functional movement. Then I met coach, I realized, “Whoa, I’ve got this all wrong.” There’s a unique definition and prescription in which I have to abide by if I want to achieve this elite level of fitness that I was witness to in that gym with Coach Glassman.
Therefore, my friends, if you and I are using terms, such as “warrior spirit”, we have to ensure that we’re consistent and understanding and agreeing upon the specific qualities that define a modern-day warrior. Because after all, if we go into a gym or we go into a martial arts dojo and we ask the athletes and the martial artists, “Do you have the warrior spirit?” Everyone’s going to say, “Yes!” We all love to make the claim, “I’m a warrior!” However, we really need to identify specifically what is a warrior? What are those qualities of a warrior that we long to display in our life?
Oftentimes, we associate the warrior with what the warrior does. For example, for the longest time, I was associating my warrior spirit strictly with the profession of arms. The fact that I was a law enforcement officer and military officer was enough. Obviously, I’m a warrior. Well, thank goodness for my dad who inspired me to realize that a true warrior is defined more by what is taking place between their ears, not in their external reality. And this brilliant insight from my dad is exactly the same insight that Coach Glassman provided me in regards to CrossFit. When Glassman said, “You know what, kid? The greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears.” When we look to the Bible, we see this time and time again. Christ is teaching us that granted, our actions are also important. However, the formation of every action we partake in our life begins within the temple of our mind.
So when we begin to identify the qualities of the warrior spirit, one of the first places we go, my friends, is between the ears. We go to the heart of the matter. We go into the mind of the warrior. To understand and identify what makes this man or woman different from every other class of society? What can we learn from this man or woman? In what manner is this man or woman thinking? That is where everything begins and ends, my friends, in the temple of our mind. As we begin our episode today. I would like to read to you from my book God In Me: Daily Devotionals for a Heart Like Christ. This particular devotion is from June 12th. Let’s begin.
To develop a heart like Christ, you must first discipline yourself to think like Christ by conditioning yourself to see the good in all the conditions of your life. You gradually move the direction of your life towards the good. Similarly, as you begin to life the quality of your thoughts towards the good, you will begin to attract conditions, experiences, opportunities, people, attainments and powers, which further express your ability to see what is good. Regardless of the conditions of your life, goodness is always present because God’s presence is always with you. Instead of relying on external conditions to determine your emotional state, turn your attention inward and feel God’s eternal love. God is always the same and his love for you is always available.
My friends, the reason that I chose this particular devotion to read to you today in our study of identifying the qualities of a warrior spirit is that this is the beginning. This is the inception point. This is the insertion point in our development of the warrior spirit. I open by writing “to develop a heart like Christ, you must first discipline yourself to think like Christ.” We could substitute the word Christ for warrior or better yet, Christ is a warrior. So to develop a heart like a warrior and like Christ, you must first discipline yourself to think like Christ and therefore to think like a warrior. You essentially have to condition your mind to think good thoughts in spite of the conditions or the circumstances you may find yourself in. And that is the tipping point, my friends. That is the tipping point for the warrior.
Oftentimes, unless we are very disciplined in our thinking, we rely on our external conditions and circumstances to dictate the quality of our thought. Where the warrior, independent of the circumstances or conditions in their life maintains a positive mental attitude. That is the warrior spirit. To further elaborate on that, my friends, let’s look to some of the cherished stories from the warrior tradition that further elaborate on the power of this warrior mindset.
Many, many years ago one of the greatest warriors of all time, King Leonidas, the king of the Spartans was leading 300 Spartan warriors. Handpicked for their courage, their fighting prowess. Handpicked indeed their warrior spirit. He was leading these 300 into battle. Every single warrior that followed the great king knew that this would likely be their final stand. For they were preparing to fight an enemy force of overwhelming odds.
When they arrived at the battlefront, known as the Gates of Thermopylae, the great king sent his most trusted scout to conduct a reconnaissance of the enemy force. This scout crept within just a few meters of the enemy force to assess the potential number of invading. He counted the mounted cavalry. He counted the infantry. He counted, oh my goodness, he counted the archers and what he realized as he counted the number of archers on the battlefront that day terrified him. It terrified him so much that he removed himself from concealment, ran back to King Leonidas and said, “King, we must withdraw. There is no hope. There are so many archers. So many archers. King, not just the archers. There are also infantry. There are also mounted cavalry. So many. Yet, King, the archer element alone is so vast that when they loose, their arrows will block out the sun.”
Without missing a beat, the great king said, “Good. Then we will fight our battle in the shade.”
Oh, I love that story. It’s the perfect opening story for our investigation of the quality of the warrior. Because here we see, if there ever was a time in the history of a warrior for the king to speak words of fear. If there were ever external conditions that merited words of fear. Words of uncertainty. Words of negativity to be spoken, the battle at the Gates of Thermopylae would surely suffice. Yet the reason that King Leonidas was leading 300 warriors because he had disciplined his mind, he had disciplined his tongue, he was able to speak like a warrior, independent of the conditions and the circumstances he found himself in. And I just love that the first word he spoke after that report of doom was “Good.”
Despite the fact that so many arrows would be in the air. That the arrows, as they rained down on him and his men would block out the sun. Despite that fact, he spoke words of positive expectancy. He spoke the words of a warrior and said, “Good. We will fight in the shade.” And his men shouted triumphantly. They believed in their king. They believed in themselves and their ability to succeed, independent of the circumstances they found themselves in.
So, my friends, we see that one of the key characteristics of the warrior is mastery of the tongue. Mastering the spoken word. What is it about the spoken word that is so critical for the modern-day warrior? Well, as we’ve discussed and investigated, and even solidified in previous episodes is that our thinking precedes our speaking. You see, if King Leonidas in that critical moment was able to speak words of positive expectancy by saying, “Good. Then we will fight in the shade.” we have insight into the mind of the great King Leonidas. His mindset. His internal self-talk. The dialogue that took place between his ears must have been in alignment with the words that he spoke. Because thinking precedes speaking.
For our next story, we turn to another great king. I think it’s important in the study of the warrior spirit to not only study great warriors but to study great warrior kings. I want to know about those people that were leading other warriors. I want to know about their quality of mind. Quality of body. Quality of spoken word. Because not only were they warriors, they were leading warriors. For that leadership, we turn to King Henry V. And we go to one of the best sources for the investigation of the warrior. And that, my friends, is Shakespeare. We go to the master author Shakespeare to help us learn about the quality of the mind and the voice of a warrior. To set the stage for you, our scene opens much like the scene with King Leonidas.
King Henry and his men are on the battlefront. The great king sends one of his most trusted couriers and scouts Westmoreland to conduct a reconnaissance of the enemy force. And just like King Leonidas’s trusted scout, Westmoreland returns with a very fearful report, encouraging the great king to retreat. Or if the king is persistent in going to battle then at the very least, requesting reinforcements. To which, the king replies, “What? Reinforcements? What’s he that wishes so, my cousin Westmoreland? My trusted scout? No, no, no. Not my fair cousin! If we are marked to die, we are enough to do our country loss. And if to live the fewer the men, the greater the share of honor! Oh no, do not wish one man more. But rather proclaim it, Westmoreland. Through my host that he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart. His passport shall be made. And crowns for convoy put into his purse. We would not die in that man’s company that fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called The Feast of Crispin. He that outlives this day and comes home safe will stand at tiptoe when this day is named and rouse him at the name of Crispin. He that shall live this day and see old age will yearly on this vigil feast his neighbors and say, ‘Tomorrow is St. Crispin’s day!’ Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars and say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s Day!’ Old men forget. Yet all shall be forgotten. But he’ll remember with advantages what feats he did that day. Then shall our names familiar in his mouth as household words be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. This story shall the good man teach his son. And Crispin shall ne’er go by from this day to the ending of the world. But we in it shall be remembered. We few. We happy few. We band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”
Shakespeare nailed it in King Henry V. That is a testimonial to the warrior spirit. The great king says, “No! We need not one more man. We are enough.” We are enough. Speaking words of optimism. Words of positive expectancy. My favorite part of that speech from the great king comes at the end. One of the great quotes we see often spoken in the warrior society is, “We few. We happy few. We band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.” What’s key, my friend, is the sentence “We happy few.” Not “We happy multitude”, “We happy few.”
I like that sentence so much. It gives me comfort. Because what it does for the warrior is it helps the warrior understand the journey that we’re on. The path that we’ve decided to pursue is no easy task. It’s no easy task. Remember, in both of these critical stories for the warrior, King Leonidas and King Henry V, how do both scenes open? Before we have the testimony of the great king, we have the spoken words of a trusted courier. A most trusted scout. And those words, those reports are fearful. Those reports are essentially feeding the dog of fear. That is very common. We witness that time and time again. And that is what it means to be a warrior is independent of the reports about us. Independent of the reports around us. Independent of the conditions or circumstances we find ourselves in, we take on the quality of King Leonidas. We take on the quality of King Henry V. We speak words of positive expectancy. We speak words of optimism. We speak words of hope. We speak words of love. That is the way of the warrior.
Now, I’ve saved what I believe to be the best story for last. We look to the life, the teaching, the ministry, the example of Jesus Christ. After Jesus had taught for several days in a row, the multitudes thousands and thousands of people were witness to the testimony and teaching of Christ. These multitude had traveled with Christ and his disciples a great distance. Needless to say, the disciples and the multitude were physically and mentally exhausted. They were hungry and they were thirsty. One of Jesus’ most trusted disciples essentially acting as a scout went out and conducted a reconnaissance of the multitude. And realized just how many there were. And he also realized just how little food and water they had to feed the multitude. And this disciple acting as a scout came back to Christ and said, “Christ, what are we to do? There is simply not enough food to feed these 5,000 people. What are we to do?”
Christ took what little they had and gave thanks. Then a miracle was performed. From a few loaves of bread and a few fish, Christ fed over 5,000 people. Now we look to this story because this story really summarizes and helps us understand this critical element of not only speaking positively but of being grateful for what we have. It is our gratitude for what we have in any given moment in our life that ultimately defines our destiny.
My friends, here is the key I want you to remember: in any given moment of our life, we always have the temple of our mind. We always have the free will over how we will speak. And therefore how we will think. Independent of our circumstances, my friends, we can remain optimistic. Independent of the conditions of our life, we can speak words of hope. We can speak words of love. And my friends, we have to remember, it’s all or nothing. We are either feeding the dog of courage or the we are feeding the dog of fear. The results we enjoy in our life or the results that we dread in our life are determined by the quality of our thinking.
In the Bible it says, “A house divided cannot stand.” That simply means you cannot simultaneously be feeding the dog of courage and the dog of fear. You cannot simultaneously be speaking positively and negatively. Because that house will not stand. In the Bible, very often, the word “House” is a metaphor for the temple of our mind. Your mind cannot stand strongly on the Word of God, if you are speaking the Word of God and simultaneously speaking the word of fear. Speaking the word of negativity. We have to be all in. We have to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the warrior spirit. Which means we have to wholeheartedly commit ourselves to speaking the words of a warrior. Which means we have to wholeheartedly discipline ourselves to think like a warrior.
Now, my friends, I want to give you a little bit of encouragement. Because very often, the feedback I get from my books and my lectures is, “Man, Greg. I am trying so hard to feed the dog of courage in my life. I’m doing the best that I can to stay positive within the temple of my mind. Yet, nevertheless, despite my best efforts, I still witness the quality of my thinking. And in that state of witness, I identify despite my best efforts, a little whisper of the dog of fear. What am I to do?”
And what I always tell those people is, “The first thing I want you to do is rejoice and be glad.” Rejoice and be glad. Here’s the reason why: When you witness the quality of your thinking and in that moment of witness identify the fact that you are not in alignment with your true nature, which is the presence of God in you. That my friends, is a moment to rejoice. Because before the identification of witness took place, you were simply identified only with the negative thinking. The mere fact that you are able to pull back on the negative thought and witness the thought means there must have been a gap between the thought and your witnessing. And my friends, in that gap lies your free will. In that gap lies the piece of God. In that gap lies the opportunity to re-calibrate the mind. To refocus your eyes. Both physical and eyes of your heart onto the positive mental attitude. Onto the Word of God.
In fact, this concept comes right from the teaching of Christ. Christ says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” What’s so amazing about that is that Christ says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” he’s saying that after he gives his followers the assurance that “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those that do hunger and thirst for righteousness. For they shall be filled.” So he’s offering us all these promises when we begin to identify with righteousness. And in the Bible, righteousness simply means “right thinking” about all departments in our life. Christ first gives us the assurance that when you are seeking righteousness, you will be fulfilled. But then it seems like he contradicts himself and says, “But blessed are you still when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Yet what we have to understand is that when we identify the fact that we are being persecuted, where does that persecution begin? Christ is referring to not the external conditions of our life but our own thinking. Our own thought process.
Therefore, when we identify that we are persecuting ourselves. In other words, when we identify that we are feeding the dog of fear. When we identify that we are entertaining negative self-talk, rejoice! Rejoice and be glad for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven in that moment. For you’ve identified the fact that your mind is no longer set on the Word of God. And in that moment of identification, we can refocus. We can re-calibrate.
The analogy I used for years with great success when I was teaching The CrossFit Goal-setting Course was the analogy of the physical application of our training. Imagine, for example that you are a coach of an athlete. You’re watching this athlete perform a pull-up. As you observe the athlete perform the pull-up, you identify the fact that the athlete has performed a repetition yet their chin did not go over the bar. How would you rate or judge or assess the quality of that repetition? Well, in my gym, it’s simply a matter of identifying the fact the range of motion or the alignment of the technique was not sufficiently met. The next thing we do is we immediately perform another repetition ensuring that that next step is in alignment. Is performed correctly.
Now, to take this analogy one step further, imagine now that you, as the coach, are removed. Now, rather than observing the athlete, you are the athlete. You’re performing a pull-up. You identify the fact that on the prior repetition, your chin did not go over the bar. Do you, my friends, count that repetition? Or do you simply replace that rep, which did not count for it was not in alignment, with another repetition that is in alignment. That performed to the standard. That is performed through the entire range of motion. Well, you know the answer, my friends and so do I. We waste no time fussing on the repetition that clearly did not count and we spend more time focusing on the next rep. We spend more time ensuring that repetition will count.
Well, you can see the beauty of that analogy to the temple of our mind. When we identify the fact that we have performed a mental repetition, which is not in alignment with our true nature. With our highest self. With God in us. We simply replace the thought process that did not count. Remember what Christ said, “We resist not evil with evil.” We do not waste time wrestling with the fact that we’re speaking to ourselves negatively. No, we go right to the source of our power, which is our tongue. Which is our mind. And we speak words of optimism. We speak words of hope. We speak words of love. We speak words of righteousness.
This is where The Law of Repetition can really become extraordinarily powerful in our life. When we repeat over and over and over in the temple of our mind the right word structure. The right affirmations. The right mantras. When we speak the Word of God over and over and over within the temple of our mind, it is much more likely that that becomes the background music in our mind. For example, an athlete performs over and over and over again the desired outcome of the physical application of any technique they’re performing. Whether that be a martial artist, a swimmer, a surfer or a CrossFit athlete. That athlete spends time in practice performing the desired range of motion. The desired physical application of the technique. And sooner or later, that athlete achieves what we refer to as muscle memory.
Well, my friends, remember everything we understand in the physical realm can be applied in the mental realm. Through repetition, we can achieve a set mind on positivity. Through repetition, we can essentially set our mind on the Word of God. We can set our mind on the warrior spirit. We can set our mind on the dog of courage. In order to do that, let me share with you some of my favorite mantras and affirmations.
The first I will share is a particular affirmation that I have made for two very dear friends of mine that really embody and, I feel, exemplify the warrior spirit. One of these gentlemen is none other than Gray Maynard. One of the greatest UFC fighters I think the world has ever seen. A phenomenal mix-martial artist and a world-class wrestler. A world-class man. A great husband. A great father to his daughter. Just an amazing man. I created this affirmation for Gray because when Gray and I were training together doing his conditioning for his fights, we realized like all great athletes sooner or later understand, everything begins in the mind. And when we can condition our mind in the positive tense. Every other condition of our life will follow suit. The affirmation is this: “I believe in myself. And I love myself. And I constantly reaffirm my ability to succeed.” Oh, it’s so powerful. I’ll say it one more time. “I believe in myself. And I love myself. And I constantly reaffirm my ability to succeed.” That is a powerful affirmation. That affirmation, when repeated in the temple of our mind with significantly influence, in a very positive manner, the quality of our life.
The other gentleman whom I utilized that mantra and affirmation for is another world-class mix-martial artist and jiu-jitsu fighter. His name is Nathan Mendelsohn. One of the best jiu-jitsu fighters in the world. A black belt under a dear friend of mine, Claudio Franca. That same affirmation has served Nathan Mendelsohn extraordinarily well. As many other dear friends of mine have laid testimony too. That affirmation is powerful.
Another affirmation that I encourage is from the Bible. I’ve mentioned this before. It’s very popular in the CrossFit community. And that is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s another fantastic affirmation. That’s right from the Word of God. “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”
Another solid affirmation I love to utilize is “For greater is my God who is in me than he that is in the world.” That really enforces in the warrior spirit the fact that God is in us. God is strengthening us. God is residing over our mind. When we turn to his presence, anything and everything is possible.
Well, my friends, I want to sincerely thank you for joining me today. And I’d like to repeat the prayer from my dear friend, Rolf Gates for you again on today’s episode. Because some of the feedback that we got from our previous episode was so powerful. People really resonated with this prayer. So let’s utilize this prayer again. And what we’ll see with this particular prayer is this prayer is the prayer of a warrior. For this prayer is reinforcing the quality of our mind.
My friends, I pray that you would be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy. May you discover your freedom. May you find enduring peace. And may you walk through the world with ease. My friends, may God bless you and keep you safe and I will speak to you very soon, back here on our next episode together on The Greg Amundson Show. Take care!
[0:41:09] End of Audio
Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Eight”
Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode number 8 of The Greg Amundson Show. This show has a very, very special place in my heart because on today’s show we are going to introduce, investigate, contemplate and practice the power of one of the most important tools for the modern-day warrior. That tool, my friend, is a tool that will become your constant companion. That tool is your breath.
When I think back on my childhood, there were two really key defining moments in my life that took place at Presentation Church in Stockton, California. My longtime priest when I was a young boy attending this Catholic school was a gentleman who is still very influential in my life: Fr. Michael Kelly. Fr. Michael Kelly during mass one Sunday morning said two incredible statements that resonated with my young heart and young mind. In fact, one of these statements became the impetus for my book God In Me. I share this story in the introduction, the profound impact this insight had on my entire life. The first thing that Fr. Kelly said was that, “God is desirous of his sons and daughters developing a heart like Christ. If we want to be like Christ, we have to develop a heart like Christ.” What we now know about the word heart in the Bible is that the word heart means subconscious mind, the mind that runs every detail of our life, yet we may not be aware of it. So essentially, what Fr. Kelly said that day is rather profound. He said that in order to become like Christ, we have to think like Christ. What a profound statement.
The other thing that Fr. Kelly said that day was equally profound, equally moving and to this day really resonates in my heart. What Fr. Kelly explained is from the book of Genesis. In the book of Genesis, it says that God took the dust of the Earth and formed the body of man and then breathed into the nostrils of man the breath of life, and the man became a living soul. What Fr Kelly explained is that before God breathed the breath of life into our soul, we were simply a body. Yet, in the moment that God breathed His breath into our lungs, we awoke. We became fully integrated. The mind, the body and what Fr. Kelly said, the soul, all integrated through the breath of God in our life.
Well, as you can imagine, there I am, a young boy and I’m just feeling on top of the world. I’m feeling overjoyed, so excited. I think to myself, “Wow! Fr. Kelly, you mean to tell me that I can become like Christ if I think like Christ and that the breath of God is in my lungs? My goodness.” I remember looking over to my mom and dad and my younger brothers all seated there with me in mass that day and thinking to myself, “This is incredible!” I wanted to share that message with the world, and in many respects, that’s exactly what I’m doing today.
In order to reach the potential that each and every one of us has, in order to maximize the unique gifts and talents that God bestowed upon us, we have to abide by certain principles. One of those principles is right thinking, known as righteousness in the Bible. The other principle is right breathing.
I know oftentimes on the show, I mention a dear friend of mine, one of my training partners to date, one of the most incredibly gifted athletes I have ever known. His name is Robert Guerrero. He’s known in the boxing community as The Ghost, one of the best boxers in the entire world. Robert is preparing for a big fight on July 15th in New York. We are training incredibly hard. He makes daily improvements in his physical fitness. Every Sunday we attend church together at Four Corner Church in Gilroy, California. And a few months ago in church, there was a song the choir was singing. Now, I’d heard this song before. I am obviously familiar with the Bible verse this song is based upon. I just shared it with you from the Book of Genesis. Yet, as I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, oftentimes what we need is the right circumstance, the right environment, the right context for a message to be fully grasped and understood. And there was something about that day in church, standing next to Robert, singing this song, that it dawned on me the power and the greater implication of this Bible verse for the modern-day warrior. The song is “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise. It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only, God.” Forgive my singing.
I’ll tell you what. That song is running like background music in my mind every time I work out, that song. It’s the same for Robert. That’s the background music in our mind, because think of the greater implications of that song and that Bible verse and that message from Fr. Kelly. Every time you draw in a deep breath, that’s the breath of God in your soul, my friends. What power you possess through the breath of God. It’s not that you’re breathing in; it’s that God is breathing in to you. Wow!
Today’s entire episode on The Greg Amundson Show is dedicated to the breath. Understanding the breath, maximizing the effectiveness of the breath, essentially becoming, as my dear friend Dan Brule would say — the author of a book I highly recommend called Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business and Beyond — as Dan Brule says, “We need to become a lover of our breath.” A lover of the breath! And of course there’s so much to love because that’s the breath of God flowing into our mind, into our heart, into our soul, into every cell of our body. In my book Firebreather Fitness, in Chapter 14 there is an entire section dedicated to really investigating this power that we all posses every time we breathe in and every time we breathe out. That power is there whether or not we’re aware of it. The beauty of the breath is that, remember, the presence of God is always there whether or not we are aware of it. Therefore, as we develop awareness of the breath, we simultaneously begin to develop awareness of God. The breath allows us to fully integrate the very presence of God, especially when every breath that we partake in resonates with us at the deepest level of the fact that that is the breath of God flowing into every cell of our body. What I thought would be special is to go right to the source. I want to open up Firebreather Fitness to Chapter 14 and read with you some of the key paragraphs from this particular chapter on the power of the breath. Here we go, my friends.
The most simple yet effective techniques to hone strength and resiliency are those aimed at stress reduction. Combating stress in order to relax the body and quiet the mind builds your spiritual strength and aids you in every endeavor of your entire life. The majority of the great spiritual texts and disciplines teach that the fundamental cause of suffering is the mind’s tendency to either regress to the past or project itself into the future. The solution, therefore, is to discipline the mind to remain centered in the present moment.
During meditation, the tendency of the mind is to leap out of the present moment becomes extremely apparent. Indeed, we find that holding the attention on the present moment can seem harder than the most demanding physical workout. In many respects, as my dear friend Mark Divine would undoubtedly agree, learning to work in is more challenging and much more important for the modern-day warrior than learning to work out.
In my military and law enforcement career, I noticed how easy it was for my mind to project itself into the future and to worry about what might happen. In these moments, because my mind was resting on a future creation that had no bearing in the present moment, I was unaware of my body and my breath. As a result, my body was tight and my breath was shallow, which only exaggerated the mental sensations I was entertaining.
Learning to remain present with the mind, continually realigning to the body and the breath is a powerful practice that can have a profoundly positive effect in every department of your life, be it your workout, your relationships or your career. Remaining present helps you gain perspective on what is permanent versus what is temporary. When we become still and silent and begin to witness our thoughts, we awaken the part of our consciousness I refer to as The Great Witness. This ability to create a little bit of space between our thoughts and our great witness helps us discern when we are focusing our attention.
You see, your mind, it’s like a giant magnifying glass, and what you focus on will therefore tend to increase in your life. Let me say that one more time. It’s so important, my friends. Your mind is like a giant magnifying glass. And, here’s the key, what you focus on will therefore tend to increase in your life. When you focus on a problem, the problem only increases. The real insight here is that the majority of the time, the problem that we are focusing on is our perception of a situation and not the situation itself. In other words, it’s our thinking that determines the quality of what we are seeing. And when we change the way we look at something, what we look at begins to change. Everything begins in the temple of our mind.
Again, let me reiterate that for you, my friends. If all you took away from today’s episode was this, it’s a golden nugget. It’s our thinking that determines the quality of what we are seeing. And when change the way we look at something, what we look at begins to change.
A strong, spiritual practice that helps cultivate your ability to meet and greet stress in the present moment as it arises in your consciousness is the breath. Engaging stress as a warrior means dealing with it on the field of battle at the moment the stress presents itself. In this context, the stress can turn into a strengthening experience and an opportunity to discipline yourself to remain in the present moment. Breathing, my friends, breathing is one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal to help you remain in the present moment. The practice of watching your breath teaches stability, and helps the mind discover what action can be taken in the present and what you illusions of the future or memories of the past may need to be resolved or perhaps, more importantly, forgiven.
When I teach yoga, when Mark Divine teaches yoga, when Dan Brule teaches yoga, when Rolf Gates teaches yoga, when every teacher teaches the practice of yoga, we teach the student to bring awareness to the four parts of the breath. Here’s where it really gets exciting. Here is where we really develop the warrior’s ability to understand the power of the breath. Every time you breathe in, even though you may not be aware of it, there are four distinct moments because there are four distinct parts of every breath that you take: the inhalation, the retention of the breath after inhalation, exhalation, and suspension of the breath after exhalation.
Now, let’s look a little bit closer at these four parts of the breath and the quality that determines the benefit of each of these distinct moments. The in-breath, the inhalation, should be long, slow, subtle, deep, and the inhalation should evenly spread throughout the entire body. Isn’t that beautiful? Imagine that every breath that you take in is evenly spreading throughout every cell of your body. And remember that every breath in is the breath of life, the breath of God flowing into your body. There’s no need to rush the inhalation. Instead, savor the length, the duration of every inhalation that you take. The in-breath draws energy from the atmosphere into the cells of the lungs and rejuvenates and restores the life force within you, by retaining the breath once it’s drawn in, the energy if fully absorbed and evenly distributed throughout all systems of the body through the circulation of your blood.
The slow release of air, during the exhalation carries out and removes accumulated toxins, both mental and physical. By pausing after the out-breath to a level of comfort unique to every moment, all mental stresses are purged away and your mind is therefore naturally drawn to the present moment. As you continue to draw your attention to the inner movement of the breath and become sensitive to each of the four parts of the breath, or as my friend Dan Brule would say, you become a lover of the breath and each part of the breath. It essentially becomes impossible for your awareness to remain attached to the external senses, the past or the future, because you are so absorbed with every moment of the breath. Even one breath, my friend, this is the key insight, even one breath taken in absolute present moment awareness is enough to release the grasp of the past or the tempting illusion of the future.
Meditation on the breath is a powerful step in the withdraw from the external engagement of the mind with the memories of the past or the tendency to plan, wrestle with, or even be remotely concerned for the future. Wow. The power of the breath, my friend. It is absolutely amazing. It is one of the greatest tools for the modern-day warrior.
On Sunday, May 28, I was featured on the Veterans Take Charge Radio Show. What an amazing experience. And what made this experience so profound was the gentleman whom I was featured with on the radio show, Joshua Mantz, the author of a book I highly recommend called Beauty of a Darker Soul. Joshua Mantz is one of the most amazing warrior leaders our country has ever seen. This man is absolutely amazing. Just a little bit on Josh, because in a few episodes, there’s going to be an entire episode dedicated to this amazing man. A little background on Josh:
Josh was a platoon leader in Iraq when he was hit by a sniper’s bullet. Josh was clinically dead for 15 minutes. Josh came back to life, had a miraculous recovery and then volunteered to go back into combat and finish his tour of duty with his men. Josh now travels all around the nation teaching the principles of the modern-day warrior, which have more to do with the mind and the spirit than with the physical body. Indeed, Josh embraces the principle that Mark Divine and I teach of working in rather than focusing on working out.
There, Josh and I are standing side by side as we’re being interviewed together on the Veterans Take Charge Radio Show, and where do you think the conversation immediately diverts to? The power of the breath. And what Josh said is through his healing experience, which continues to this day, the greatest asset that he has, the greatest tool, the greatest friend, the greatest companion that Josh embraces on a regular day-to-day basis is the breath. The question that often comes up when I travel and teach, the question that often comes up when Josh travels and teaches the principles of the power of the breath is “What constitutes a breathing practice?”
Well, let’s pose that question to none other than the breath master himself, Dan Brule. In conversation I asked Dan that same question. I said, “Dan, how much time everyday should I be devoting to my breath practice?” I have a good understanding of my physical practice. I know approximately how much time I should be investing into my CrossFit workout, into my martial arts training, into my yoga practice. I have a good understanding of how much time I should be spending in meditation, in communion and prayer and intimacy with God. How much time should I spend on my breathing practice?
And here’s what Dan said. He said, “Greg, it’s really simple, brother. All you need to take is one mindful breath a day. One mindful breath taken every single day for the rest of your life constitutes a complete breathing practice.” Wow. Isn’t there some peace in that? What I’m proposing to you, my friends is that if you take one mindful breath a day, with full awareness, passionate commitment. If that breath that you take in becomes an opportunity for you to experience the very presence of God flowing into every cell of your body, that in and of itself constitutes a complete breath practice.
And we can begin to see the genius of all the great spiritual texts and historical practices in welcoming and inviting a breathing practice. The breath essentially becomes the moment of integration between the mind, the body and the soul. The breath anchors us to the present moment. The breath rejuvenates the body. The breath restores the tranquility of the mind. And the breath allows the awareness of God to resonate in the forefront of our consciousness. We gain intimacy, communion and present moment of awareness of the presence of God with every breath that we take when every breath we take is taken with mindfulness, with concentration, with complete and utter awareness. When we tap into the great witness within us, and when that great witness within us is fully aware of the breath, we achieve the peace and the presence of God.
Well, my friends, as you undoubtedly know by now, I am a big believer in, as my friend John Hackleman would say, there is no time like the present moment. NTLP, baby, as John Hackleman would say. And for those of you that don’t know John, John is the owner and founder of The Pit Fight Team. You may know John by one of his most accomplished fighter athletes, Chuck Liddell, former UFC Champion. Well, John Hackleman is Chuck Liddell’s coach. And one of the famous statements of John Hackleman is, “When you want to do something, when you want to effect change in your life, there is no time like the present moment.” And one of the mantras of John is, “NTLP, baby.” No time like the present.
So, my friends, in the spirit of NTLP, let’s breathe together. The particular breathing technique I’m going to teach you has some unique history in my life. I first learned this breathing technique from one of the most amazing modern-day warrior scholars in the world. And that gentleman’s name is Col. Dave Grossman. He is the author of the amazing book On Combat and the book On Killing. Dave spoke before my Academy Class when I was a young DEA special agent in Quantico, Virginia. What Dave posed to the class that day was that the modern-day warrior needed to learn how to breathe. Dave posed this question to my class. He said, “Do you know how to breathe?”
And of course, I thought to myself, “Yes, I know how to breathe. I’m a CrossFit athlete, former SWAT operator, military officer. Of course I know how to breathe.” And undoubtedly, that’s what all the other young agents were thinking. Of course we know how to breathe. We’ve been breathing our whole life. Well, what I realized is that the power of the breathing practice that Col. Dave Grossman taught me on that day in Quantico, Virginia is one of the foundational breathing practices that most of the modern-day breathing experts teach. It is simply known by different names. And sadly, I must confess to you, my friends, that although I learned this breathing practice in 2008, it would be several years before I began a dedicated breathing practice utilizing the breathing technique that Dave Grossman taught me. In fact, it would take another great warrior scholar, none other than Mark Divine, to pose the same question to me when I was standing on the grinder during the Kokoro in Encinitas, California. Mark asked me, along with many other amazing athletes, some of the best athletes in the world, in fact, the likes of Tommy Hackenbruck; a former Teams Games Champion, Mikko Salo; Individual Games Champion, Kristan Clever; Former Games Champion, Rob Orlando, the founder of the CrossFit Strongman Course. He posed this question to all of us, asking: “Do you know how to breathe?” And thankfully, in that moment, I said to myself, “I’ve got no clue how to breathe. I must need some help because the universe is posing this question to me again.”
Well, it turns out that the breathing practice that Mark taught me that day in Encinitas, which he refers to as box breathing, was the exact same breathing practice that Col. David Grossman taught me in Quantico, Virginia nearly four years earlier. David Grossman refers to the practice as combat breathing. Mark Divine refers to the practice as box breathing. When I teach this practice, I refer to it as warrior breathing. Dan Brule refers to this practice as spiritual breathing. It is known by many names, yet the practice remains the same.
My friends, during this practice, my recommendation to you is to utilize the nostril breath. Nostril breathing when combined with the combat breathing or box breathing or spiritual breathing or warrior breathing technique that I will teach has several additional benefits. The hair follicles in the nose help to either warm or cool the breath before the breath enters your lungs. The nostril breath also tends to pull the breath into the lower diaphragm filling the lungs from the bottom to the top. Finally, the nostril breath triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, essentially communicating to your brain to rest, digest. It triggers the emotions of tranquility, peace and ease in your mind and body. So, my friends, let’s begin.
Whether you’re seated or standing, take a moment to ensure that your spine is straight. Roll the shoulders back. Open the heart and the space around the heart. Imagine that you’re lifting the crown of your head up towards the heavens. Then begin by letting all the air out. Exhale through the nose and we begin.
Inhale through the nose. Two. Three. Four. Hold the breath. Two. Three. Four. Exhale through the nose. Two. Three. Four. Hold the breath. Two. Three. Four. Inhale through the nose. Two. Three. Four. Hold the breath. Two. Three. Four. Exhale through the nose. Two. Three. Four. Hold. Two. Three. Four.
Inhale through the nose. Hold the breath. Exhale through the nose. Hold the breath.
Last round. Deep breath in. Hold. Slow breath out. Hold. Now take a deep breath in, followed by a slow breath out.
Notice how you feel after four rounds of box breathing. Notice how you feel after four rounds of spiritual breathing, combat breathing, warrior breathing. As I mentioned, this breathing practice, although it is known by different names, follows the same principle, follows the same methodology, follows the same system. That, my friends, can be the beginning of your breathing practice. The breath that we just took together, let that be the NTLP in your breathing practice. No time like the present moment. The present moment is upon you. You’ve just engaged in your first round of breathwork, of spiritual breathing, of warrior breathing, of combat breathing, of box breathing. You’ve just embarked upon what may very well be one of the most important paths that you embark upon on the warrior quest, on the spiritual journey of your life, my friends.
I want to conclude our episode today on breathing with a wonderful story from the warrior tradition that brings to life and enhances what we are trying to accomplish through the breath.
Many, many years ago, a young student of the breath approached his master teacher of the breath and said, “Teacher, what am I trying to achieve with the breath? What are the qualities of the breath in my life? How do I know when I am approaching the results of the practice? What will the results begin to look like? What will the experience in my life be as I begin to mature in my breathing practice?”
His teacher said, “Imagine a rock that is very, very dry. Imagine now that that dry rock has a line carved into it. A line etched into it. A line cut into it. Now, take that rock with the line etched into it and place it at the foot of the seashore. How many years would it take the ocean and the tide and the waves and the sea to wash over that rock before the line that you’ve etched into the rock was made smooth?”
The student said, “Well, it would take an eternity. It would take years and years and years for that rock to be made smooth.”
The teacher said, “Exactly. And that rock with the line etched into it represents the student that has not yet begun a breathing practice. And now, imagine that rather than drawing a line in the rock, you draw a line in the sand at the foot of the seashore. Now, how many waves, how many tides would it take for the ocean to smooth out the surface of the sand? How many tides, how many waves would it take for the sand to be made smooth, for the line to dissolve?”
The student said, “Well, it may only take one tide. Perhaps even one wave could effectively turn the sand to its inherent nature of smoothness.”
The teacher said, “Exactly. And that is a metaphor for the student who has begun a daily breathing practice. And now imagine,” says the teacher, “that rather than drawing the line in the sand, you walk out up to your waist in the ocean and you draw a line in the ocean water with your finger. Notice that as you drew the line through the ocean, the water would immediately turn to its innate form. This is a metaphor for the student that has made the breathing practice a part of their daily life experience. The breath has become an intimate part of everything they do.”
“And now,” says the teacher. “Imagine that rather than drawing a line in the rock, or in the sand, or even in the ocean, you simply draw a line with your finger through the air. That is a metaphor for the student that has become one with the breath.”
My friends, as we close our episode today, I ask you to take a moment to contemplate where that story resonates in your mind, in your heart, in your soul. Pose that question to you without judgment, “Where does that story hit you?” In the mind, the body, and the soul. Which character in the story are you in this moment? Are you the rock? Have you not yet begun the breathing practice? Are you the sand? Are you the ocean? Are you the air? There is no time like the present moment, my friends. Begin today. Begin the journey of the breath practice today, my friends. Let today be the first day of the beginning of your life.
My friends, my dear, dear mentor in yoga, breathing and meditation, Rolf Gates, he is the author of a book I recommend called Meditation from the Mat. He ends every yoga practice with a beautiful prayer. To honor Rolf, I’d like to offer this prayer to you, my friends. I pray that you would be safe, that you would be happy, that you would be healthy. I pray that you would discover your freedom. I pray that you would find enduring peace. And I pray that you would walk through the world with ease.
May God bless you, and watch over you, and I will speak to you very soon back here on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care!
[0:42:18] End of Audio
Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Seven”
Hello, friends, and welcome to episode number seven of The Greg Amundson Show. Tonight we have a special edition show for you, my friends, and I am thrilled about the message and about the two stories that I have for you. Let’s get right down to business, my friends. Here we go!
Many, many years ago, there was an innocent man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to a life of imprisonment. On the day of their sentencing, the jailer took custody of this innocent man, led them down into the depths of the castle dungeon. Once they approached the cell, this jailer threw the innocent man into his cell and then abruptly closed the door. There this innocent man sat, lost in the sorrow of his own thoughts.
Days and days, weeks and weeks, months and months, years and years went by, and the only contact with the outside world this innocent man had was with the same jailer who locked him up on the first day of his life sentence to imprisonment. Every day that jailer would come and give him a loaf of bread and a bowl of water. That was the only contact this innocent man had with any other human being. And this innocent man became so depressed that he began to consider taking his own life. Yet, his moral conviction would not allow him to commit suicide and so he devised a plan that the next time the jailer came to feed him a loaf of bread and a bowl of water, he would attack the jailer in hopes that the jailer in self-defense would kill him, putting him out of his misery.
And in that state of great depression, great sadness, he walked up to the door, put his hand on the door and, creak, much to his surprise and delight, the door to his jail cell opened. Now open closer inspection of the door that had been closed, he realized there was no lock on the door at all. He’d been imprisoned for nearly 20 years with a jail door that did not have a lock on it.
Now this man is standing in the hallway of the dungeon. He looks to his right. He looks to his left. There’s no jailer in sight. And off in the distance, down the hallway, he sees that the stairway that 20 years earlier he had been led down on his first day of confinement. He walks to that stairway, nervously looks up and there is no jailer. He walks up that staircase to the foyer of the castle grounds and there is no jailer. He looks and sees the gates, the drawbridge, the moat that leads to freedom and once again, there is no jailer. He walks across the drawbridge into a life of happiness, joy and freedom.
Wow, what a story with so many layers of meaning and message. Now, my friends, as we learned on a previous episode of The Greg Amundson Show called The Art of the Story, what steps we take when we hear a story are extremely important. One of those steps is listening to the story and assessing which of the characters we are.
So my friends, as you listened to this opening story, who are you as you hear, as you listen, as you contemplate, as you receive this message, this story? Who are you? Are you the jailer? Are you the man wrongly accused? Are you the jail cell itself? Are you the door? Are you the bridge? Are you that beautiful pasture of freedom the man ultimately walks into? Who are you as you listened to the story tonight? And that’s such an important question to ponder when we hear a story because what the story teaches us is how we can experience life. In any given moment of our life, we can contemplate what role am I playing right now? And ultimately, it comes down to two roles. Am I playing the role of the victim in my own life or am I playing the role of the victor? Who am I as I walk out the door of my own home? Who am I as I experienced the quality of my day? Am I the victim or am I the victor?
As anyone who’s studied the brilliant work of my dear friend and long time mentor, Mark Divine, I’m simply paraphrasing the great question he asks his students to contemplate: What dog are you feeding right now? Are you feeding the dog of fear in your life or are you feeding the dog of courage? And in both of these questions, “What role are you playing? What dog are you feeding?” what we realize, my friends, with a great deal of gratitude is that ultimately, the choice belongs to us. You see, that man had been locked in a jail cell without a lock on the door to his own imprisonment for 20 years. That means at any given moment of his sentence, he was ultimately free to go. That’s the nature of our mind. Our mind can either keep us in some degree of captivity or it can release us into the greatest realm of freedom that our heart has ever desired. The choice is ultimately up to us. What role do we want to play? What dog do we want to feed?
There’s this beautiful Bible verse I really want to share with you tonight. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” Now, righteousness is a key word in the Bible. Righteousness in the Bible means nearly not right conduct but right thinking on all subjects in every department of life. That’s so important to understand because what that means for the modern-day warrior is it’s just not the quality of our actions which define the man or woman that we are; it is in fact the quality of our thinking. Righteous means right thinking, the ability to conduct business in the temple of our own mind, which is ultimately a private place. Yet, nevertheless, within that privacy, we have to keep that temple clean.
Now what it says is really special. It’s saying, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” So, my friends, consider this. The great law of the universe is that whatever you think about in your mind, you will produce in your experience. As within, so without. You cannot think one thing and yet produce another. Listen to that one more time because it’s so important to understand. You cannot think one thing and produce another. Everything that you’re producing in your life is a result of the quality of your thinking, which means that everything that you are experiencing in your life in this moment, you thought into existence.
Wow. How empowering is that? That means, my friends, that in any given moment of your life, you can begin to garden and tend to the soil and the quality of the seeds that you are planting in your life. If you want to experience a great harvest, then take time now, today, in this moment to begin to plant this seeds of you desire. Where are those seeds planted? In the temple of your mind. Now, the good news, it says, is that when you really hunger, and when you really thirst for righteousness, which means right thinking, when that becomes the desire of your heart, when you are hungry, when you are thirsty, when you are starving to feed yourself with the right quality of nutrition, with the right words, with the right thoughts, you will be blessed. You will be fulfilled. So the effort that you put in will be perfectly matched by the product, by the end result of how much effort you are putting into your practice. That’s such a beautiful concept to hold onto.
When my friend Mark Divine and I teach on this subject of feeding the dog of courage, this really becomes a significant point of blessedness for the modern-day warrior. For those of us who are stepping onto the path, what it’s saying is that the time that you take to feed the dog of courage is time well spent. The Bible is affirming that effort that we put in. It’s saying blessed are you who feeds the dog of courage for that dog will be fulfilled. Your life will begin to reflect the fact that that is the dog that you’re feeding. When you commit to being the victor of your own life, when you are victorious in your mind, that effort that you produce in the mind will be experienced in the quality of your life. Wow, what a blessing. There’s so much joy to be found in that. There’s so much joy to be found in that.
My friends, the reason this is a special edition is that this show exists in between our regular scheduled show, which is the first and third Sunday of every month. The reason for the special edition show is to really drive home a point, a point that can make a profound difference in your life. And what you’ve got to understand about making a difference in your life is that a very small degree of change in your life over time can produce the most radical effect.
I mean, consider this: if a plane leaves New York with a destination of San Diego, California, yet that flight path is off by one degree, the plane ultimate lands in San Francisco, which is nearly 800 miles away. So as that plane travels across the country, the one degree change, which seemed insignificant, over time becomes extraordinarily significant. That is the impact that a small daily change in our life can have over time.
What I’m here to share with you, my friends is that the daily practice of bringing awareness to the quality of your thinking is time well spent. And we’re finding affirmation of that in the Bible. In the Bible, Jesus is telling us, “Blessed are you that takes a daily inventory of the quality of your thinking because you will be blessed.” You will experience blessedness in your life, because you are taking the necessary time every day to hunger and thirst for righteousness, for right thinking. So we find affirmation, we find confirmation, we find assuredness in the Holy Bible that this practice that we’re adhering to of right thinking, and therefore right speaking is time well spent.
Wow, I just love that. I love that the Bible can confirm for us that we’re doing things right. We’re on the right path. What a great source of affirmation. When the Bible is affirming that what we’re doing is right, I take great delight and comfort in that.
My friends, I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions one of my mentors who is sadly no longer with us, Ken Gray. Such a remarkable man. The heart in this man, oh my goodness. I wish he was still alive. I would have him as a guest on this show. Even the sound of his voice brings comfort and joy. Oh, I miss Ken so much. Ken was a real man of theology. He loved to study the history of the Bible, and he loved to look at how different cultures shared stories from the Bible.
I was raised Catholic and one of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Moses parted the Red Sea. In the Catholic faith, the way I heard that story told from Father Michael Kelly, of Presentation Church in Stockton, California when I was a very young boy, is that Moses stood on the shore and with his staff in hand, said: “Part, you seas!” And immediately, the seas parted. And I love that version of the story. That there was so much authority and righteousness in the words of Moses that the sea immediately adhered to what he said. He spoke and the seas obeyed. He spoke, God heard, and a miracle was performed. I just love that version of the story.
Well, Ken shared with me a unique Jewish tradition version of the same story, and when I heard it, I fell in love with this version of the story as well. I really resonated more with this version of the story, and I’m so happy to share it with you tonight. Here we go:
Many, many years ago, Moses stood on the seashore. Thousands of his people were dependent upon his ability to perform a miracle because an army was raging down on top of them set on murdering every single one of them. They were essentially defenseless, and dependent upon one person, Moses, to save their life.
Moses stood on the seashore, before the sea. With his staff in hand, he raised it overhead and he said, “Part, you seas!” And nothing happened.
Then Moses took a few steps into the sea, the water up to his ankles. Moses raises his staff overhead once again and says, “Part, you seas!” And nothing happens.
Moses now walks into the sea up to his knees, raises his staff overhead, and with a bit more authority and conviction in his voice, says, “Part, you seas!” And nothing happens.
And now, his people are beginning to get a little bit nervous because the army is rapidly approaching.
Moses goes into the sea up to his waist, raises his staff. “Part, you seas!” Nothing happens.
Moses goes in the sea up to his chest, raises his staff, says, “Part, you seas!” Nothing happens.
Moses goes in the sea up to his neck. He tilts his head back, raises his staff and says, “Part, you seas!” And in that moment, the seas part.
Wow, isn’t that amazing? What an interesting way to share the story. And my friends, the reason I love that version of the story is that that’s been my life experience. And perhaps that’s your life experience as well. It’s not the first iteration nor the second nor the third round of prayers or affirmation or mantra or conviction that we make. Oftentimes, it takes numerous attempts, numerous prayer requests. However, what Moses did is he retained faith. He continued to walk forward, he continued to maintain faith in God to hear his prayer, and he continued to keep his prayer in the positive tense. Always affirming, “Part, you seas” always walking forward in faith, always trusting God to hear and answer his prayer.
So my friends, tonight, the challenge that I place before you is this: Take a moment after this show concludes to take inventory of the quality of your life right now. What aspects of your life are you extremely grateful for? What are you extremely grateful for? What do you feel so blessed to have received in your life in this moment?
The reason we’re taking inventory for those qualities of our life which we’re desirous of and thankful for is that means that at some point in our life, we must have planted the right seed. So we’re grateful for the fact that we’ve created a condition in our life that we are now grateful for.
The next step takes the courage of a warrior, because the next step requires us to take inventory of an aspect of our life which we are not desirous of. And we have to have courage, my friends, because what we must realize is that in the same manner that we thought a condition into our that we are grateful for, well, if we take inventory of some aspect of our life that we are not grateful for, that we are no longer desirous of, we have to understand that at some point, we must have planted seed that was incorrect. We never wanted to reap a harvest from that seed. Yet, nevertheless, we planted that at some point in our life. And now we’re experiencing the result of that quality of thinking.
Well, here’s what we do now. We take that seed and we dig it out of the garden of our mind. Then we plant the seed that we are desirous of reaping. What do we want to harvest? What is the equal and opposite condition of what we’re no longer desirous of experiencing. We plant the seed that we do want. And here’s where all the stories begin to tie together. When we assess the quality of our life, when we take inventory and we realize, “Wow, I’m no longer desirous of experiences I never wanted to experience this in the first place.” In that moment, we are that innocent man locked into the jail cell, yet the door is unlocked. That’s the realization, is that in any given moment, we can open that door. We’re only hostage to our own mindset. When we set our mind on something that will free us, that door opens and we can step out into complete freedom. Then, once the correct seed is planted, we maintain faith. We maintain faith in ourselves and most importantly, we maintain faith in God, that the quality of every seed that we plant will be harvested. We will ultimately experience everything in our life that we are now thinking.
So as the warrior, we’ve got to come back to the brilliant words of the greatest teacher who ever lived, Jesus Christ, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
So my friends, I want you to hunger and thirst for right thinking. Begin today. Begin right now to feed that dog of courage in your life. Begin today to be the victor in your own life. Begin today to really desire righteousness, right thinking, with the assuredness that you will be filled.
Well, my friends, I pray that God will bless you and watch over you and keep you safe, and until the next time we meet, God bless you, take care, and I’ll speak with you soon right back here on The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
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Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Six”
Hello, friends, and welcome to episode number six of The Greg Amundson Show. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to welcome you to the show today, because today we are going to discuss one of the most important topics for the modern day warrior. That topic is understanding the nature of karma or cause and effect, or as Christ taught, “Reap what you sow.”
This understanding of the nature of causality in life is so important, my friends, that I cannot overemphasize you really taking the time to deeply contemplate how your life is unfolding. Here’s what’s so exciting to understand and comprehend: Everything that you are experiencing in your life right now, in this moment, you thought into fruition. So we live in a world of cause and effect. The cause of everything that you are experiencing in your life, therefore the effect, resides in your mind. You are the cause for every effect in your entire life. Now, that is a radical concept, because what that means is we are responsible for everything that we are experiencing. That’s a scary thought sometimes, is it not? Because so often, the tendency of the mind is to project blame.
I recall when I was working as a deputy sheriff it never ceased to amaze me when I was interviewing the suspect of a horrific crime, trying to get to the root of why they committed the crime. More often than not, the person would say something to the effect of, “Well, they made me do it.” And inside, I used to laugh a little bit because I would think, “How on earth could someone make you perform the heinous act that you just did?” Yet, in that person’s undeveloped mind, they really did believe that the reason for their behavior, the reason for their action, thus the reason for their thinking was because of some external effect in their life. When in fact, as we step onto the path of the modern day warrior, as we begin to walk the spiritual fulfillment path that God is desirous of all of us eventually taking step onto, we learn and we come to grips with the hard fact, the hard truth that we are responsible. And the beginning of that responsibility takes place with the quality of our thinking. And thank goodness, Christ, in teaching this message, said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Because it’s only a moment in time that we may feel sorry for our self or that we may experience self-blame or self-judgment when we realize, “My goodness, I am responsible for everything I’m experiencing because I thought it so.”
Yet, here’s the real insight, and this is the meaning of “the truth will set you free.” If we thought a condition into our life that we’re no longer desirous of experiencing, guess what else we can do? We can think another thought and thus reap the benefit of that new way of thinking. We can create a new life. We can be born again in any given moment of our entire life.
Well, I’ve got a couple of really wonderful stories here in store for you today. However, I wanted to begin by once again reading to you from my book God In Me: Daily Devotions for a Heart Like Christ. This particular devotion is from May 3rd in the book. However, it is so fitting for our episode today that I wanted to share it with you.
“During challenging and difficult times, do not mistake the problem for your thinking about the problem. When experiences arise in your awareness, the habit of your mind is to label them as either good or bad. As you continue to mature in your relationship with God, you will learn to see everything through the perspective of Christ. Once you realize everything that you experience is ultimately for your good, you can begin to commune with God and ask his spirit to guide your thinking. Your thinking affects your life like a perfect karmic accounting system. Every thought you think and word you speak adds to a permanent mosaic, and your actions ripple through the fertile manifesting soil, which is God’s universe. In time, you will experience the harvest of every karmic seed you plant, and in this sense, you can experience the joy of heaven on earth. Therefore, draw close to God, and ask him to show you the opportunity and blessing in every moment of your life.” ~ God In Me
My friends, in a previous episode, I mentioned to you one of my dearest mentors. So sad that he’s passed away, my dear friend and longtime mentor Ken Gray. This passage that I read to you in many respects is dedicated to Ken because what this passage teaches is the essence of another law of the universe that Ken taught me. That law is known as the Law of Polarity or Contrast. You see, in every seemingly difficult challenge that we face, and every upset, and every discord, and every moment of sadness or pain, there is an equal and opposite return waiting for our discovery. That is the Law of Polarity. God can help you and I uplift the quality of our thinking in any given moment. He can essentially show us, in any given moment, regardless of what we’re experiencing, the silver lining, the bright side, the sunny day. It is always available to us. We simply may lack the eyes to see it. However, thank goodness for the presence of God in us because God can uplift our eyes. He can elevate the quality of our thinking. He could put a new and right spirit within us. He can create a clean heart within us in any given moment. We simply have to draw close to his presence and trust that everything we’re experiencing is ultimately for our good. Therefore, in a moment where we have had the tendency to label an experience as bad, we simultaneously know, despite our errant thinking that it’s bad, because either way our thinking makes it so. Yet, nevertheless, if we label a situation or an experience as bad, we can ask God to uplift the quality of our thinking and to show us the blessing that may be in disguise. Wow, isn’t that just awesome? I just love that way of thinking because that way of thinking can change your life. It can change your life in a profound way.
I want to read to you one additional passage from God In Me because this also brings to the forefront a very important topic, and that is the topic of focus or concentration, the power of our awareness. This particular passage is from July 31st in the book God In Me.
“In this very moment, every desire of your heart exists as formless energetic potential in God’s universe. Therefore, it is never a matter of getting what you want; it is simply a matter of receiving what you already have. This is accomplished in three ways. Number one, seek first the Kingdom of God. Number two, focus on what you desire, not the lack of it. And number three, praise God for his ability to provide all your needs. When your thoughts, words, emotions and actions are in harmony with God, the desires of your heart will be effortlessly placed at your feet. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and everything else will be given to you.” ~ God In Me
This is so important. This principle I have mentioned before on two occasions on our show together. That’s because the significance of this particular Bible verse, “Seek first the Kingdom of God,” and the lesson that it entails and teaches is so profound. I have a hard time getting that Bible verse out of my mind. I’m constantly meditating on the profound blessing of that Bible verse because, my friends, it makes things so potentially easy. It makes things easy. It makes things effortless. It teaches us how to think. It teaches us what to do.
I remember, years ago, one of the most common questions that Coach Glassman would receive was, “Hey Coach, what is CrossFit?” And Coach Glassman answered by replying, “CrossFit is what CrossFit does.” And I just love that, the simplicity of that answer. CrossFit is what CrossFit does. It keeps it simple. What does CrossFit do? Well, CrossFit does high intensity, functional movement with constant variance. As simple as that. It’s brilliant. Coach Glassman’s simplicity was brilliant.
And, my friends, that’s the brilliance of this Bible verse. What do you and I do? What is our mission? To seek first the Kingdom of God. Why? Because when we seek God first and his righteousness, everything else is provided, and everything that is provided is ultimately for our good. I just love the teaching of Christ and the manner in which he taught because he was teaching people who are like you and I, simple-minded folk. We need to keep it simple. The KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Silly! And that’s the way that Christ taught because we need to comprehend a profound lesson in the simplest of terms, and Christ lays it out. He makes it as simple as could possibly be that even a child could understand. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Know where to focus your attention. Know where to focus your thinking. Know where to focus your hearing. Know where to focus your seeing, your perception. Focus on God and everything else will be added to you.
In modern psychology, in modern teaching, in the modern law of attraction, this is simply known as the Law of Supply. Knowing that our supply is unlimited. So rather than focusing on lack, focus on supply! Who is the source of ultimate supply? God. So let us put our focus on the source of our supply. Not worrying about what is to be supplied. Let’s go right to the source.
What I want to share with you first, a story, from the warrior tradition, and then I want to get into a few of the amazing lessons that I learned from my dad, Dr. Raymond Amundson. Before I go into the lessons that my dad taught me as a young man growing up, I want to share with you just an amazing story from the warrior tradition.
Many, many years ago, a great spiritual teacher was walking with his student through a forest. The student was greatly perplexed, greatly troubled for they had been searching for God for years. They’ve been on the spiritual path for years with a great deal of what they perceive as unfulfillment. They felt they were getting nowhere on the path. They wanted to find God, and it seemed to the student God was evading them. So in a moment of great despair, the student asked the teacher, “Teacher, how do I find God?” The teacher made no reply but kept walking for several minutes.
Now, the despair, the stress, the anxiety of the student only increased. The sound in his head was screaming at him. It’s all he could hear, was the sound of his own thinking. And suddenly, the teacher made a signal to stop by raising his hand in the air. The student stopped and a few moments later, the teacher said, “Can you hear that sound?” And all the student could hear was the sound of his own voice in his head banging between his ears. The student said, “What sound?” The teacher said, “Listen, about two miles away, do you hear the sound of the river?”
The student became very still, very silent, and then he began to hear the faint sound of water, running downstream, brushing against rocks and leaves and twigs, as it made its way to the ocean. And in that moment, “Satori!” which is a term for immediate instantaneous enlightenment. The student was enlightened. They’d found God in that moment. And with a great deal of gratitude, the student said to the teacher, “I can hear the sound of the river.” The teacher said, “Find God from there.”
Then their journey continued through the forest, and for several minutes, the student was still overjoyed with their moment of awakening, and then, like all things, it passed. Once again, the student returns to a mindset of despair and says, “But, Teacher, what would you have said if I would not have been able to have heard the sound of the river?” The teacher said, “I would have replied, ‘Find God from there.'”
Oh, I just love that story. There are so many levels, so many lessons contained in the simplicity of this story. I really want to touch on two. The first is the importance of stilling our mind. In the Bible it says, “Be still and know I am God.” I think that’s one of the most profound statements in the Bible. For all of you who are considering taking the daily practice of meditation, I think the direction in the Bible in that verse is very clear: “Be still.”
There are two qualities to stillness that are so important for the modern day warrior. The first is physical stillness, becoming physically still. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race, so to speak. It’s so easy to put all of our focus, all of our goals on the external, to include the external accomplishment of our own physical potential. Believe me, I was caught in that for years. When I first found CrossFit, all I wanted to see was my name and my score on the whiteboard. I recall, Coach Glassman used to say, “Men will die for points, but please don’t.” There’s nothing that we want more, our type A personality, than to win a workout, than to see our name on the whiteboard, than to set a new record. Yet, as my dear friend and long time mentor Mark Divine taught me, “A warrior must be skillful both in action and non-action, both in movement and stillness.” I elaborate on that profound lesson in my book Firebreather Fitness. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to that lesson that Mark taught me and the profound importance of meditation, of stillness for the mind and the body.
So the first lesson contained in the story that we open with today is the importance of being still both in the mind and the body. Notice the first thing that the teacher did in the story was he signaled for a halt. He ensured that the student and him were physically still. That physical stillness leads to the opportunity for the mind to settle.
My dear friend and mentor in yoga, Rolf Gates, former army ranger, now a modern day warrior yogi. I just love this guy. He wrote the book Meditations from the Mat, which I highly recommend. In a conversation on the quality of meditation, here’s what he offered me, because most of my mentors know me so well, and they know I’m a very visual, kinesthetic learner. So I either have to visualize it or I have to physically do it. So what Rolf offered me was a means to visualize the quality of meditation. Here’s what he said. He said, “Greg, imagine if you had a bottle of water, and in that water was some sand, some sediment. And imagine your intention was to make that sediment settle in the bottom of the water bottle. Would it do you any good to hold that water bottle in your hand and shake it up? No, of course not. That would only further agitate the sediment, the sand in the bottle. All you have to do, it’s so simple it’s probably overlooked, is you in fact have to do no thing. You do nothing. You just put the bottle down, and in a few moments the sand will settle and the water will become clear.”
Aw, man. I just love that lesson and that imagery, because, my friends, I promise you, when we sit down, we allow the mind to settle, and our vision, our perspective, our awareness can become clear. In that clarity and only in that clarity and stillness of mind are we able to experience the peace of God. We have to become still first. That’s the first lesson contained in this story.
The second is we have to develop the ability to discern the nature of our thinking. If all that we are doing is entertaining our lower level thought processes, God could be standing right next to us yelling in our ear and we would not be able to hear Him. He will not impose upon our free will. Where does our free will begin? In our mind, our thinking. That’s what separates us from every other creature, is our ability to think our reality into existence. And God will not impose on that.
Therefore, if we’re desirous of inviting God into our mind, if we want God to literally uplift and renew the quality of our thinking, we have to open the door. We have to welcome Him in. And the way that we open the door is by becoming still. There’s this beautiful saying in the spiritual tradition that “the door of our soul opens inward.” Isn’t that beautiful? We have to open the door of our soul and invite God in. He’s always there. His presence is always with us. We just might not be aware of it, because our thinking is so loud. The volume of our mind is turned up. We have to become still.
That stillness is created in two ways. One, being physically still. And number two, allowing the mind to settle. In a future episode, we are going to dedicate an entire episode together on the quality of meditation; the scientific method of stilling the mind through meditation. Yet you can begin today. All you have to do is sit down, close your eyes, and begin to bring awareness to your breath. Quite frankly, it’s as simple as that. Our mind was designed to experience the presence of God. All we have to do is set the condition, and the meditation will arise spontaneously. The condition is set when we sit down, close our eyes, and begin to bring awareness to the breath.
Wow, meditation has been such a blessing, a gift in my life, and what’s so unique is that is the one consistent factor that every single one of my mentors have shared. Every single one of my mentors, whom to this day I hold in the highest regard and if they are still living, I continue to seek them out for higher levels of education. Sadly, many have passed away. Yet, those that are still alive, I continue to seek their guidance, and what they continue to guide me to do is spend more time in meditation, putting first things first.
And here, my friends, is where we begin to see how all of the themes of not just our show today but of every previous episode that we’ve shared together are beginning to unite, or yoke. In order to put first things first, what do we have to do? What is the first thing? The first thing is the presence of God, seeking first the Kingdom of God. How do we begin to experience His Kingdom? By the direction we find in the Bible, in regards to meditation, “Be still and know I am God.” Wow, such a profound direction and there’s so much peace in knowing that you and I don’t have to do anything. God is more than able to handle every single detail of our life, if we just let him. And believe me, this is easier said than done. As someone who has spent the majority of my adult life in the warrior profession, I am hardwired to do things. I am hardwired to get things done. I mean, gosh, I taught the CrossFit Goal-Setting Course all around the country, and world, for about three years. What was the nature of my course? Set and achieve goals, and these goals were to be achieved in the world. These were for material achievement, these were for physical achievement. These were goals in the tangible realm.
Well, my goodness, now what I’m here to say is that the most important goal is knowing God. That’s number one, my friends. Seek first the Kingdom of God, just like it says in the Bible because that’s the master key. That’s the great secret. When we seek God first, when we put first things first, when we know how to prioritize our time, our energy, our attention, our awareness, everything else is not worked for, everything else doesn’t have to be subsequently achieved. Oh no, everything else is provided. Everything else is added to us.
Well, my friends, I want to share with you some of the wisdom from my dad. My dad, Dr. Raymond Amundson was a doctor of chiropractic, and a pastor. To this day, my mom and dad, who have both sadly passed away, have provided me the greatest spiritual guidance, the greatest spiritual leadership, the greatest example of a heart like Christ that I have ever known and likely will ever know. I’m so blessed because of my mom and dad. My dad played such a role in my life that even to this day I’m still unpacking the gifts of intellect, the gifts of education, the gifts of inspiration, the gifts of wisdom that my dad provided for me. In fact, many of the lessons that I’m only now beginning to unpack or unravel or inherit or understand, the lesson itself, the moment in time that my dad taught me was over 15 years ago, and it’s only now that I’m fully beginning to understand, fully beginning to appreciate what he taught me.
When I was a very young boy, I was beat up in a really bad way by a school bully whose name was Devon King. Devon King beat the heck out of me, because unbeknownst to me, in the school lunch line, I made a flirtatious remark to a beautiful woman named Rebecca, and I didn’t get the memo that Rebecca was apparently, according to Devon King, his girlfriend. So there I am, standing with many of my friends, sixth grade students, on the lawn waiting for my mom to pick me up, and suddenly a group of men approached me, eighth graders, one of whom is Devon King. He pins me against a tree, knees me in the groin, elbows me in the chest and then the neck and then the head, while the whole time saying, “Man, if I ever see you talking to my girlfriend again, I’m going to whip your ass.” And believe me he whipped it pretty good that day, so I certainly didn’t want another ass-whipping in the future.
Now there were so many layers to the despair that I experienced that moment. One was being unable to defend myself. I was so severely unprepared for that level of strength that he displayed and violence, the severity and speed of the onset of attack. I was completely caught unaware. The second great despair was, as this was unfolding, I recall looking to my friends for help. And they were just as terrified as I was, and they were backing away. They wanted no part of that beating. So there’s also that part of being let down, being let down by myself, being unable to defend myself, being let down by my friends. Then there’s all the other layers of ego-identification, the ego bruising that takes place, the feeling that my pride was lost, the feeling of embarrassment. On and on it went.
Well, I go home, beat up, and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my dad, because my dad is a bodybuilder, one of the strongest men at that time that I’d ever known and he was also a great martial artist. So I thought, “This is great. I’m going to learn from my dad tonight how to defeat that bully. Give me a couple of weeks, Devon. I’m coming for you, man. You better watch out. I’m getting my revenge.” That was my thought process. “I’m coming for you!”
Well, my dad gets home that night, and I tell him what happened, and I’m really hoping that my dad is going to begin the martial art lesson immediately. Instead, what my dad says is, “Well, the next time that happens, just turn the other cheek. Greg, never resist force with force. Never resist violence with violence. Turn the other cheek.” Then he went on to bring out the Bible and conduct a Bible study with me on the lesson of Christ.
Well, at that time in my life, on that evening, that wasn’t what I needed. Looking back now, I see the great gift that my dad gave me. Yet in that moment, what I thought that I needed, what that young boy needed was a lesson in anti-bully. That’s what I really needed. Then to complicate matters further, I go to bed that night, and my dad wakes me up in the middle of the night with a startle, and says, “Greg! You know I might have made a mistake. Tomorrow let me teach you how to throw a strong right punch.” Now, I couldn’t go to sleep the rest of the night because now I’m really confused. What is it? Is it resist not evil or is it throw a good night big right? I’m confused as all heck.
In the morning, over breakfast, my dad says, “You know, Greg, I will teach you how to defend yourself. Everyone needs to know how to achieve a certain degree of self-protection from harm. Everyone needs to know that. Yet if I find out that you used violence against this person, I will be really, really sad. I’ll feel that you would have missed the mark. Because the best way to ensure that you never ever have to experience the effect of a bully again is to change your thinking about what happened.
And that is when it hit me. That’s when I understood. That’s when I began to realize that the pain of the beating, the pain of the fight, the pain of the assault was gone. It was over. It actually didn’t hurt that physically. What hurt was my thinking. What hurt was my thinking that it’s going to happen again. What hurt was my thinking that “Oh, my friends. They’re not going to like me anymore because they saw me get beat up.” What hurt was my thinking, “How am I going to face Rebecca again? What am I going to say to her? Now that she knows that I got beat up?” What hurt was my thinking. My thinking was causing me pain, a great deal of pain. And what my dad taught me was that if I could change my thinking, I would cease to attract another condition that had unfolded the day before.
Now, this is a fairly advanced concept for a sixth grade boy to understand. And even to this day, I’m still doing my very best to understand the true teaching of Christ, which is that everything that we experience in our life begins in our mind. We’re the architects and the building block that we have at our disposal is our thoughts and our words. That’s what it boils down to. And that is exactly what my dad taught me.
What else I want to share with you regarding my dad is the power of right thinking, the power of prayer. As I grew older, I began to take more and more interest in chiropractic care. As I mentioned, my dad was a chiropractor. He would create health in people by creating an adjustment. The way that my dad described to me the nature of illness in the human body was that the human body is in itself a perfect creation. God made you and I in his image. Therefore, you and I are perfect. We’re made in the image of God. We’re perfect. The only thing that prevents that perfection from manifesting in any area of our life is misalignment, being out of alignment. Therefore, the adjustment would put the body, the spine, the central nervous system back into proper alignment, and in that alignment, the presence of God was able to flow through every nerve of our body. Every cell would then radiate with His presence, and we would naturally return to what was our birthright: perfect health. The body naturally returned to health once we were in physical alignment.
Well, for years, my dad’s understanding of the adjustment was on the physical level. And when I would go into my dad’s office and watch him adjust his patients, when I would watch the interactions which always fascinated me that my dad could put his hands on someone and apply very specific focused pressure to a vertebrae on the spine and health could be immediately almost instantaneously achieved, wow, I thought he was working miracles. And in many respects he was. I used to love to just be in that presence when these adjustments took place, and I loved to have my own body adjusted by my dad.
Well, something began to shift in the way my dad continued to adjust his patients as his relationship with God began to grow stronger. As my dad began to deepen his relationship and understanding of the power and word and healing potential of God, my dad ultimately began to gravitate away from physical adjustment, to mental and spiritual adjustment. So what would begin to happen is before my dad would go in to the adjustment room and consult with the patient, my dad unbeknownst to the patient would pray for the health of the patient. He would pray in such a manner that he was praying not only for the physical health of the patient, but the mental health. And as my dad gained greater and greater understanding of the power of the mind, my dad would pray for the mindset of the patient, that the patient’s mind would radiate with thoughts of health and wellness. Then once that prayer was set, my dad would go into the room with the patient and he would still give a manual adjustment. However, the number of adjustments he would give was far less than it had been a few years prior. And as my dad’s journey continued, as his relationship with God continued to grow, and as he gained greater understanding of the power that we all have to heal ourselves and each other, he would cease to lay hands on the patient altogether. It was simply the prayer and then his presence in the room with the patient that created health.
And let me tell you something, when my dad passed away, there were over 2000 people at Presentation Church, in Stockton, California that came to pay their respects. The majority of these people, I never knew. And here’s what’s really amazing. Many of the people that came to pay their respects to my dad had never personally met my dad. It was the son or the daughter, the husband, a wife, a friend of a patient of my dad’s because my dad had taught them that power of right thinking. My dad had instilled in them the Word of God, and when we get filled with the Word of God, we naturally have an aspiration to share, and teach that Word with others. In many respects, this show is a perfect example of that. I’m simply continuing to share with you what my dad shared with me.
So my friends, to wrap up our show together, I really want to leave you with the words that my dad said to me once. I think this is such a fitting way to end our episode together. When I asked my dad as a young boy when he was still very focused on the physical adjustment of the human body, when I asked my dad what an adjustment did, here’s what he said, “Son, sometimes you have to be a little cracked to let the light in.” And as anyone that’s received a chiropractic adjustment knows or anyone that has physically manipulated their own body in such a way that they can hear the audible adjustment, the crack take place, we know that in that moment of crack, great health is possible. And just like my dad said, that crack lets the light of God in. And as my dad’s journey continued, that crack that he was offering people had far less to do with a physical adjustment and more a mental adjustment. For when we crack open our old ways of thinking, then a new and right spirit can be within us. The presence of God can enfold our soul. We can be lifted to the highest realms possible.
So, my friends, until next time, may you be a little bit cracked open. May the light and love and life of God fill your mind, your heart and your soul. God bless you, my friends, and I will talk to you back here very, very soon on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
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Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode Five”
Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode Five of The Greg Amundson Show. I’ve been so overwhelmed with gratitude on the number of positive responses to The Greg Amundson Show that I have received, and among these positive responses has been a request for, rather than a bi-monthly show, a weekly show. Well, my friend, here is my thoughts on the matter. I appreciate the interest and the encouragement for the weekly show. However, for the time being, I am convinced that having two shows a month is adequate because the content of each show is so rich in wisdom, in information and in opportunity for you to do additional research. For example, all of the mentors whom I mentioned on every show have their own resources. They have books, they have shows, they have podcasts, they have seminars, they have workshops, they have opportunities for you to continue your education. So for the time being, I think twice a month here on The Greg Amundson Show is going to be sufficient for us to build the foundation of the material that we need for where I ultimately plan on taking you.
Now, that being said, what we will do is meet in the middle. So what I mean by that is every once in a while when the inspiration and impulse hits me, or when a great question is posed by one of you, the listeners on the show, then what we’ll do is have a special show to either ask and answer that particular question or, as in the case with tonight’s show, we have a special opportunity to learn a skill-set that will become very, very important in every subsequent show, and episode, and series that we share together.
Tonight is one of those special shows. Tonight’s show is dedicated to understanding the art of the story. As many of you know, I am passionate about sharing stories. The reason for that undoubtedly has to do with some of the great mentors in my life. One of whom in particular told me these famous words. He said, “Greg, if you tell me the truth, I will believe you. If you tell me a fact, I will listen. However, if you share with me a story, then I will remember.” I just love that because when I reflect on some of the great lessons that my mentors instilled in me over the years, it was always through the context of a story or a unique experience, a setting, a circumstance that allowed the lesson that my mentor was desirous of teaching to really stick. Tonight, I want to share with you one of my most favorite stories of all time. This is a great story to utilize for the lesson of understanding the art of the story.
Years and years ago when the warrior tradition was rich and alive with storytelling, the elders would gather the young warriors around a fire to share these stories. In ancient warrior tradition, it was believed that life would give the young warrior of an increasing level of intensity, as many opportunities as it would take for that young warrior to learn the lesson. If the warrior was very, very skillful, perhaps they would be able to learn, comprehend and understand the lesson the universe was trying to teach them on the first iteration at the lowest level of intensity possible. And such a warrior would be very blessed as they moved through life, for their rate of acceleration and advancement would far surpass their peers, because they were able to learn and understand the lessons that they were being handed through their experiences on a very fast basis.
Well, my friends, that has been one of my most passionate subjects for teaching and learning in my own experience is contemplating that question in any given moment. What is the universe trying to teach me in this moment? There’s such a wonderful Bible verse I keep coming back to in moments of sorrow or despair or uncertainty or anxiety or stress, and it’s been a great source of comfort in my life, because it’s a Bible verse that allows me to have a very fast, very radical change of perspective. And that Bible verse is “My God supplies all I need according to His riches, in the glory of Christ Jesus.” What’s so beautiful about that Bible Verse is the key phrase “everything that I need”. That means in any given moment of your life, regardless of how you might be judging or labeling a circumstance, or an event, or an experience in your life as either good or bad. In fact, whether you label it as good or bad, the experience is independent of your judgment. The experience is independent of how you label it. The experience is provided by God because in that moment, you need that experience. And in time, every experience of your is ultimately for your good in the glory of Christ Jesus.
The key, therefore, is for you and I to cultivate the ability within our mind to see everything that is happening in our life as an opportunity for advancement, as an opportunity to become stronger, as an opportunity to grow closer in our relationship with God, and in our understanding of His Word and His power in our life. Everything really boils down to our perspective, the way we choose to see things. This is why I think the work of Victor Frankl, the author of the book Man’s Search for Meaning is so important, so vital for the modern day warrior. He teaches us that regardless of what it is that happens in our life. No one can ever touch our last human freedom, which is our ability to think for ourselves. Within the temple of our mind, we always have an ability to influence and ultimately change the quality of our thinking.
Here we go, my friends. Let’s share our story and then investigate the nature of the story so that in every future episode together, we have a new context for how to listen, how to experience, and ultimately, how to share a story.
Many, many years ago, a young man was walking along the seashore, following what had been a horrific storm. In fact, this young man could not recall another time in his life when he had experienced such a powerful storm. He never experienced anything like the wind, the rain, and the crashing waves in his entire life. So after the storm had passed, he decided to walk along the seashore. And as he was walking along the seashore, in front of him, approximately 100 meters away, he saw what he thought was an old man. And what was very strange about his observation of this old man is it appeared to him from this distance that the old man was dancing, in a very erratic, strange dance, up and down the seashore. So the young man decided to get a little bit closer and to inquire as to what the old man was doing.
So the young man walked up, closer and closer and closer, and suddenly, what the young man saw startled him. It took his breath away. What he saw was the beach was absolutely scattered, littered with hundreds and hundreds of starfish. The storm had washed all these starfish onto the seashore and now that the tide was going out, and the sun was coming up, these starfish would soon perish. So the old man also knew this and he was not dancing. No, no, no. You see, in fact, the old man was running as fast as his old legs would carry him, picking up as many of the starfish as he could and he was throwing the starfish back into the sea, to save their life.
Yet, there were so many starfish. The young man thought to himself, “This old guy can’t possibly make a difference.” And he was so certain in his conviction that this old man could not make a difference that he went up to the old man and said, “Old man, what are you doing? There are so many starfish, and the sun is nearly overhead. Soon, all these starfish will perish. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
With that statement, the old man smiled, and then he bent down, picked up a starfish, and with all his strength, he threw it as far as he could, back out into the ocean, and then he looked at that young man, smiled, and said, “Well, sonny, it made a difference to that one.” And then the old man got back to work, and so did the young man.
Isn’t that just a beautiful story? So when we hear a story, we experience the story three ways. This was understood, you see, in the warrior tradition. The young warrior would hear the story that was shared by the village elder in one of three ways, depending on their experience in that moment. The young warrior would either hear some words that were spoken about a starfish and an old man, by the village elder. He would just hear some words. Now another warrior with a different set of experiences in their life, they would not just hear the words of the story, they would listen to the story. And then, there was that warrior who had been so cultivated through their life experiences that they didn’t only hear, nor did they just listen, this warrior understood the message contained in the story. And in any given moment of our life, this is the blessing and the nature of, not just a story but an experience in our life. You see, in any given moment, experiences are happening to us. We’re either the victim of our circumstances and the experiences of our life, or we’re starting to contemplate, “Hmm, why are these experiences happening the way they are?” “Hmm, why is life unfolding the way it is?” “Hmm, in what manner can I learn from this experience? And so that perhaps in the future, this experience will not repeat itself in increasing levels of intensity?”
So, for example, in tonight’s story, let’s take a moment to consider, first of all, who we are. In this story that we’ve shared of the parable of the starfish, my friend, in this moment, who are you in the story? What character are you resonating with in this moment? Are you the young man, who thinks, “Ah, that old guy can’t make a difference, there’s too much”? “There’s too much to do, there’s overwhelming odds. We can’t make a difference. I can’t make a difference. You can’t make a difference.” Is that where the story hits you tonight? Or are you the old man, who is making a difference? Or are you the starfish that’s being thrown back into sea? Are you the ocean that is receiving the starfish? Who are you in this moment that this story is shared? What character do you resonate with? Are you happy with whom you’re resonating with? If not, how can this story begin to shape your life in such a way that you can gravitate towards that character you would be more desirous of resonating with?
And you see, my friends, that’s the beautiful aspect of a story in our life is the story allows us to uncover the various layers of our current ego identification. Where are we identifying? Are we identifying, in any given moment, with our ego? Or with our spirit? Our ego often says, “Ah, we can’t make a difference. You can’t make a difference.” Our spirit says, “I was born to make a difference.” And oftentimes in life, what the great spiritual teachers have been doing their very best to remind us of. You see, that’s the word, my friends, “Remind” us. Not so much “Teach” us, yet remind us that we need to focus on identifying with the spiritual aspect of ourselves. Not with our thinking, nor with our egotistic mind, yet with our spirit. For in those moments that we identify with our spirit, it’s those precious moments that we become a combination of the old man who is making a profound difference in the lives of people, and we simultaneously become the ocean, for we begin to lead people back to their spiritual nature, back to God, back to the loving embrace of our Father in Heaven.
So, my friends, until we meet again, may God bless you and keep you safe. I look forward to being with you in one short week here on The Greg Amundson Show. Take care!
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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.
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Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode 3 of The Greg Amundson Show. This show originally was intended to air on the first and third Sunday of every month. However, this month we had an extra Sunday and I did not want two full weeks to go by without having an opportunity to continue the momentum of the show that we are establishing. So in many respects, Episode 3 is a bonus episode, and what a bonus this is going to be, my friends, because I am really excited about the message that is going to be contained in this episode.
In this episode we are going to introduce and begin the study of an extremely important topic. That topic, my friends, is understanding the nature of law. There are essentially two types of law that exists in our awareness. The first type of law is very easy for us to understand. That is the law that has been established by you and I, the law of man. Anyone serving in a law enforcement capacity understands the nature of law. We have to abide by law and there is an entire profession that has been established to enforce the law that man has created.
The other type of law is much more important than the law that you and I have established because the other type of law has been established by God. Now, I say that with a great deal of respect for the law enforcement officer who enforces the law of man because I am still in the law enforcement profession. For 16 years I served in a full-time capacity as a law enforcement officer and I used to love to learn all I could about the law that had been established by man because as any good law enforcement officer knows, the greater understanding a law enforcement officer has of the established law, the greater effect they will have in enforcing and in investigating the law.
Well, my friends, what could be more important than understanding and aligning our self with the law of God. It’s my contention that nothing is more important than understanding God’s word. And when we understand God’s word, what we uncover within the word of God is the law of God. So we’re going to begin this investigation today by introducing two of these laws which God has established, which God has created and which God so much is desirous of you and I abiding by. And here’s the reason God wants us to abide by his law. God wants us to live in a state of grace, a state of abundance, a state of prosperity, a state of health, a state of love, a state of joy, a state of bliss. That is the state that you and I were born to live into. The reason that so often we experience during the course of our life disease, disharmony, sadness, despair, anxiety, stress is that whether or not we realize it we’re breaking the law. Not man’s law, God’s law.
And here is the key detail, my friends, that we establish right away during our investigation of law. Whether or not you and I are aware the law exists is irrelevant to the fact that if we are in alignment with the law we experience joy, happiness, bliss, abundance, and if we violate the law we experience the equal and opposite of that.
Here’s an example of what I mean by this. When I was serving with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office as a young deputy sheriff, I used to love to conduct vehicle enforcement. I would stop a car because I was well versed on the vehicle code law and if I noticed that there was a violation of the vehicle code law, I would stop the car with the intention of educating the driver on the rule or the law they had violated. And what I found used to crack me up because as I approached the car and as I did my best to explain to the driver as kindly as I could the reason that I stopped them, nine times out of ten here’s the defense the driver has for me: “Well, Deputy, I didn’t know that was a law. I didn’t know I could not conduct a U-turn at that intersection.” Well, sadly, not knowing that they had violated the law is not a defense that’s been agreed upon by you and I for violation of the law. Just because we didn’t know it was the law does not allow us to break the law. Either way, we will experience the repercussions of violating law that has been established by you and I. Well, my friends, it is the exact same thing when we violate the law that has been established by God.
So the two laws that we introduce today are the law of repetition and the law of order. I’m really excited about the law of repetition because this law is very easy for you and I to understand because whether or not we know it, we have been practicing the law of repetition since the day we were born. Everything that you and I have learned up to this point in our life, we learned through the law of repetition. The key to understanding the power of this law is that everything that we repeat we learn.
However, in the establishment of law there were no conditions placed upon the law that God created. So whether or not we are repeating thoughts, words and actions that we are desirous of experiencing in our life is irrelevant to the fact that if we repeat it enough times we will learn it. It will become part of our nature. It will become part of the person that you and I grow into.
Let me read to you one of the devotionals from my book, God in Me: Daily Devotionals for a Heart Like Christ, because this particular devotional I think does a great job of laying out the significance of repetition and it emphasizes what of course is the most important use of repetition in our life. This particular devotion is from May 18th. Here we go, my friends.
The Word of God is alive with power, potential and strength. Bible verse repeated both out loud and in the silence of your mind has the ability to heal your heart and restore your weary soul. The more often you repeat God’s word, the greater his word will be in your life. With any new skill, repetition is the first law of learning. When you have repeated God’s word so often that his voice plays like background music in your mind, then you will have progress. Grace will become your natural state of being and you will increasingly grow in the likeness of Christ. Let me repeat one sentence that’s so important from this devotional: With any new skill, repetition is the first law of learning. Isn’t that just wonderful, my friends, to realize the power that you and I have. If there is a skill, whether it be a physical skill or a mental skill that we’re desirous of learning, all we have to do is begin to repeat that thought process or that behavior, and then over time, through repetition, we learn the behavior or the thought process that we have been repeating.
I just love learning about law and the law of repetition is such a wonderful law to understand and embrace and respect and appreciate because everything that we’re introducing during our time together here on The Greg Amundson Show can be learned through repetition. Repetition is going to be ultimately our best friend, our greatest ally, our constant companion.
My friends, as I’m sure you know I am really passionate about sharing the profound wisdom that has been handed down to me by the incredible mentors in my life. Today I’m excited to share with you and introduce you to two mentors that I have not spoken a great deal about in a public setting, yet all of that is going to change because it recently dawned on me just how indebted I am to these two remarkable men.
The first gentleman I want to introduce you to, his name is Ken Gray. Sadly, my dear friend Ken has passed away. Yet, the legacy and the knowledge that he left me and many of the other students that sought him out for higher education lives on. So it’s my great pleasure and honor to essentially continue the legacy of Ken and the profound wisdom that he imparted to me.
Those of you that are avid readers, I’m sure that you may have come across a book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. That is an amazing book, life-changing book. Well, to put the power, the wisdom, the knowledge, the credibility of Ken into perspective, Ken was a first generation student of Napoleon Hill. Wow. Ken was also a long-time student of Bob Proctor, who was another profound teacher.
So Ken, my friends, was just an amazing man. I used to love to spend time in his presence. He was in many respects a grandfather to me. One of our favorite meeting locations was the IHOP Restaurant on 41St Avenue in Capitola. Ken, for some reason, was adamant that IHOP served the best coffee. So we would meet there for a cup of coffee and we would dig into the Bible, into the word of God and into some of the other great texts that are based on the word of God. One of those texts was, of course, Think and Grow Rich.
Another phenomenal book that Ken introduced me to that we studied for approximately two years together — that’s the depth of knowledge that these books contain — is a book by Raymond Holliwell called Working with the Law. This was the book that is in many respects the penal code of God’s law. This lays out the law that God established section by section with a great deal of detail. Ken was the person that really inspired me to embrace the law of god, in particular the law of repetition. Because you see what repetition does in our life is repetition focuses our attention.
As I taught for years in the CrossFit Goal Setting Course, one of the rules that we established in the first hour of that course is the rule of awareness, and that rule dictates that whatever we pay attention to will increase in or life. Repetition allows us to focus our attention. Therefore, whatever we are repeating in our life will expand, will grow, will become stronger, and those thought processes or actions that we do not repeat and thus turn our attention away from will not grow. They will ultimately fade away.
So the law of repetition can be used to our advantage. If there was something that we want to increase in our life, we simply need to repeat that way of thinking or that way of acting, understanding of course the way of acting, understanding of course the hierarchy in the way these things are laid out in our life. Everything begins and ends within the temple of our mind, and if we should discover that there is an action or an established habit in our life that we are no longer desirous of maintaining and nurturing, we simply need to stop repeating that behavior and that thought process and immediately replace it with the activity, the action or the thought that we are desirous of increasing in our life.
So this law of repetition is extraordinarily powerful, yet extraordinarily easy to understand. And that’s the kindness and the graciousness of God is he wasn’t trying to trick you and I, he wasn’t trying to create a standard or a law that we could not abide by. Quite contrary, God established law that you and I could easily abide by once we understand the law.
The other incredible teacher and mentor that I want to introduce to you today is a gentleman named Londale Theus. I just cannot begin to speak highly enough about Londale. This guy is the man. Let me take you back in time and I’ll introduce you to the manner in which I met my dear friend, Londale.
In the winter of 2001, December to be exact, I met on a cold winter morning none other than Coach Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit for my first CrossFit workout. Well, five days later, I am in Santa Monica, California at Krav Maga Worldwide. I was serving at this time in my life as a deputy sheriff and I had heard that Krav Maga was a very effective defensive tactics and martial combative system for law enforcement. So I found some information on Krav Maga and realized my goodness, the headquarters in the U.S. is in Santa Monica, about five hours south of Santa Cruz, I’m going to go take an introductory course.
So I drive up to Santa Monica for this course and I checked in and I’m greeted by Londale Theus. And the moment I meet Londale in the same manner that in the moment I met Coach Glassman I just knew that God had ordained that meeting. That was an ordained meeting. That was meant to be, both the introduction to Coach Glassman and the introduction to Londale Theus. I assure you, my friends, that was meant to be because Londale had some profound wisdom to pass on to me. So much of the journey and the direction that my life began to evolve is based on the influence of Londale, an amazing man. And I know that many of you in the law enforcement profession have likely heard of or perhaps even been blessed by the opportunity to learn and to train with Londale. And anyone that has met Londale says the same thing. This guy is a man’s man. He is a warrior’s warrior, a profound, profound instructor, a great guy.
One of the things that I really learned and appreciated form Londale is the martial arts principle of constantly emptying their cup or emptying their mind. Imagine if you had a cup full of water and it was filled to the very top, you simply could not pour any more water into the vessel. Well in the same way, if we lived under the assumption that our mind is full, that we’ve learned it all, the universe could be attempting to provide us some incredible information, yet, our mind is full, the ego is full and we’re not going to be able to receive it. Well, what Londale taught me was the opposite of that. He taught me that we constantly have to be emptying our cup and so it can be filled back up.
Londale practices what he preaches even to this day, and let me show you what I mean by that. About three weeks ago, I was back in Santa Monica. I returned to Krav Maga Worldwide on a nearly monthly basis to continue my education in the martial art I’m so passionate about which is Krav Maga. There are four rooms at Krav Maga Worldwide. One of these rooms is a CrossFit room. Well, on this particular day, my class is gathering in a dedicated Krav Maga, Room 2. Yet, in order to access Room 2, you have to walk by the CrossFit room. I walked by the CrossFit room. The lights are off. The doors are closed. Yet, I see someone practicing what looks like rudimentary capoeira. I looked a little bit closer through the window into the CrossFit room, and lo and behold, who is in there learning at a later stage in their life a brand new martial art? It is my friend, Londale. I just love this guy and how amazing the lesson. He is still emptying his cup. I just love this guy.
Well, what I want to share with you is one of the principles that Londale taught me in early 2002, during one of my testing sequences in Krav Maga. On this particular day, I recall being just exhausted. Londale demanded from his trainers, in particular, those people that were going to go back to their departments and teach Krav Maga. He demanded excellence. Every repetition that we performed had to be performed with 110% commitment. Anything less than that, you would not pass his course because Londale believed in the law of repetition. He knew that we had to repeat the desired behavior perfectly during training and so that it was available for us during times of fear, stress, uncertainty, fatigue on the street when our life really depended on it. And perhaps more importantly, we could then teach the skills that we had been repeating to our fellow officers and fellow deputies.
Well, on this particular testing sequence, I was so exhausted that when Londale was close to me and when he was watching me perform the techniques, well, I really brought it. I gave 120%. Yet, when Londale turned to watch the officers or deputies next to me, I turned it down a little bit. I was trying to conserve some energy to make it through this ruling test. Of course, Londale catches on to what I’m doing. He stops class, he pulls me aside and here is what Londale says to me. He says, “You know Greg, there are two types of pain in this world. There is the short-term pain of discipline and the long-term pain of regret.” And he says, “What type of pain are you experiencing right now?” Ouch! He called me out in a big way. What I’ve been doing is I had then lacking the discipline to go 120% on every repetition. I was going to regret that should my life depend on it. Oh, I just feel so blessed for that moment in time because what Londale was teaching me in that moment, my friends, is that we have to repeat the desired behavior, the desired thought process, with 100% commitment every chance we get because we never know in what moment we will be called upon to exhibit our established competency in the skill or the thought process that we have been repeating. So I just can’t emphasize enough how important this first law of repetition is, my goodness.
In fact, to really bring this point home, let’s go into the Bible. Let’s look at one of the amazing moments in the life of Christ when Christ just knocked it out of the park, when he taught the power of infinite numbers of repetition. On one particular day, during the life of Christ when Christ was ministering on the power of forgiveness, one of the apostles said to Christ, “Christ, how many times should I forgive my brother? Seven times?” Christ replied, “Seven times seventy.” The reason that’s significant is that in the Scriptures, seven is the number of completion and a zero added to that same number is infinity. Wow, imagine that! Christ said seven times, no, no, no, no, no. You may need to forgive you brother in infinite number of times, meaning that you may need to repeat the behavior of forgiveness an infinite number of times.
The reason I just love that story from the life of Christ in the context of understanding the law of repetition is you and I as warriors, we have to be prepared to continue to repeat the desired behavior, the desired way of thinking every day for the rest of our life. That’s the nature of the warrior, to wake up every day, to empty our cup, to empty our mind, to step into the field of battle, and to be ready to be at our very best.
You see, this is the manner which my dear friend Mark Divine teaches when he proposes that deep inside, you and I, my friends, in any given moment, there are two dogs or two wolves that are starving for our attention. One of these dogs, as my dear friend Mark Divine teaches, is our greatest ally. That is the dog of courage. The other dog is the dog of fear. We have to continually feed our courage dog by repeating the desired process of right thinking, because, you see, these dogs whether it be courage or fear, the type of nutrition that they are starving for is our attention, and we best direct our attention through our thinking. So by feeding the dog of courage, we think through the context, through the lens, through the perspective of positive expectancy, positive self-talk. We repeat to ourselves over and over and over and over again, positive affirmation, positive mantra, Bible verse. In any way that we can, focus our mind through focusing our thoughts on to the dog of courage. Whatever it takes, that is the direction that we march. Those are the drums that we march to, that’s the rhythm of our life, feeding that dog of courage by repeating in our mind positive affirmation, positive mantra, Bible verse.
Well, my friends, I want to share with you now as we begin to wrap up this episode, I want you to share with you the next law, and that law complements the law of repetition because this is the law of order. I think it’s best to introduce the law of order by sharing with you a story. This story happened to me and Coach Glassman. Coach Glassman gets the credit for helping me understand and come to love the law of order. In the early days of CrossFit between 2002 and 2004, Coach Glassman used to just love to travel around the country teaching a course that he had established called the CrossFit 101. This was two or three-hour seminar conducted exclusively by Coach Glassman in which Coach Glassman would answer the question, “What is CrossFit?” Well, Glassman used to like to arrive at the location he was going to teach at the day before the event started because Glassman really liked to get a perspective and a boots-on-the-ground, analysis of the location he was going to teach at. In addition, he used to love to meet with the affiliate owner and the athletes that were training at the gym he would be speaking at the next day.
Well, on this particular day, we were in a gym in Rancho Cucamonga. We arrived fairly late on Friday night, so late, in fact, that the gym had already closed. Well, Glassman gets out of the car, walks up to the gym door, because adjacent to the gym door there’s a large window, and Glassman looks through the window into the gym to get the idea of where he would be speaking the following morning. And all of a sudden he pulls back away from this window, and he says, “Hey, kid, get over here. Look at this.” Well, I walk over, stand next to coach, look through this window into the gym, and at first, I noticed the gym. It’s not tidy, it’s not clean, but I just can’t see what it was that caught Glassman’s attention in the manner in which it did. So I say, “Coach, what is it?” And he says, “Kid, look at the bumper plates.” So once again I look through the window and I focus my attention on to the bumper plates and now I see what it is that caught Glassman’s attention. My friends, these bumper plates are stacked in such a manner that it is simply a miracle they are remaining stacked. It seems like even a slight breeze would knock these bumper plates over. It is an accident just waiting to happen. And here’s what Glassman says. “Hey, kid, I question the affiliate owner’s ability to maintain the alignment of their athletes’ spine if they can’t even stack bumper plates.”
And what Coach taught me in that moment, it’s just profound. What he taught me essentially is the law of order. You see, in the universe that God created, everything counts. God didn’t waste any resource in the creation of the universe. Everything counts, even the little things count in our life my friend because a lot of little things repeated make a big thing. And that is how we begin to join and yoke and see the relationship between all of God’s law and in particular the law of repetition and the law of order.
This is also where we can turn to the Bible verse for further confirmation and affirmation in understanding the law of order. Thankfully the Bible makes it very clear for us my friends in the establishment of the order. What the Bible says is “Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you.” Oh, man, I just love that Bible verse. One of my dear friends is a professional boxer, six time world champion, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. We trained together four, five days a week and this Bible verse is constantly on our heart and constantly on our tongue. Robert has a huge heart for God, and this Bible verse has taken on profound meaning and significance in our life. And it should for you as well, my friends, because what joy, what hope, what promise, what could be a better Bible verse to commit to memory and align our life with than “Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added for you.”
In many respects, this is what the author Stephen Covey was teaching when he told in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he told a story about the power in putting first things first, knowing how to prioritize what is more important over what is least important. And God makes it abundantly clear. What is the most important? God, seeking God first. When we seek God first, everything else is added to us. Everything else will work out in a pattern for good when we put God first. Part of putting God first is understanding the nature of God, part of understanding the nature of God is to understand God’s word, and part of understanding the Word of God is understanding the law that God has created.
Well, my friends, I really, really do hope that you have enjoyed today’s episode. It was such a pleasure and honor to spend this time with you. I pray that God would bless you and keep you safe, and I will speak with you soon back here on our next episode together of The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
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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 unshakable faith in God.
Hello, friends, and welcome to the second episode of The Greg Amundson Show. I’ve got some great stories in store for you today, plus a very special treat because I am going to take you back in time to a lecture that I gave at SEALFIT in Encinitas, California. Now, at this lecture, some groundbreaking insights and stories are woven into the fabric of the message that I share. You’ll get to be with me and with those athletes that heard that lecture live that day. So this is going to be a really exciting fun episode. Plus, this is an opportunity for some of you to hear my voice on the podcast while others are going to be joining us here on the YouTube channel. So here we go. This is going to be an awesome episode.
In 2010, I was serving as a special agent with the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration. What an amazing group of agents to work alongside. I hold the DEA in the absolutely highest regard. An amazing group of true warriors.
However, I also knew that I was not yet fulfilling the purpose of my life. I really enjoyed the work of a special agent. I was drawn to the warrior archetype and felt compelled to serve in that capacity. Yet, every night before I went to bed and every morning when I woke up, I just felt this tug in my heart and I felt God was calling me to something greater. God was calling me to another pursuit, another means of using the great gifts that God had given me in my life. One of the ways that I’m sharing those gifts was by teaching young kids — third, fourth grade students. I was teaching these young kids about the dangers of drugs, gang violence. I was trying to educate and inspire these young kids from the inherent risk that was sadly awaiting them living so close to the border with Mexico. So when I wasn’t pursuing the cartel leaders, essentially I was trying to prevent their kids from following in their parents’ footsteps.
Well, here’s what happened. I had just finished speaking before a group of fourth grade students. On that particular day I was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and across the chest in bright yellow it said “Police.” I was speaking in a very low income school on the outskirts of El Centro. As I finished speaking, a young boy came up to me. He pointed at my shirt and then he said, “When I grow up, I want to be a police just like you,” and he pointed at my shirt. I was overjoyed. I thought oh wow, maybe this is working. Maybe I’m getting through to these kids. So I kind of bent over so I could be closer to his height. I extended my right hand for the high five, which never came. Instead this young boy looks at me, shakes his head and he says, “I can’t do it.” And I said, “Why not? Of course you can do it. If you want to be a police, you can do it.” He said, “No, I can’t.” And I said, “Why not?” He said, “Because my dad told me I’m going to grow up and be just like him.” Matter-of-factly he said that.
Now, if you know me, if you’ve tuned to this podcast or any other lecture or seminar that I’d given, you know I tend to be a bit of an optimist. So in that moment, when he is telling me that his dad told him he can’t do it, I’m hoping that perhaps his dad was encouraging him to do something else, maybe to follow in his dad’s footsteps. So I say to this young boy, “Well, what does your dad do?” And he replied, “My dad is in prison for doing drugs, and he told me I’m going to grow up and be just like him.”
Whoa. Ouch. That young boy had never been told by his dad, “Son, I believe in you. Son, you can do anything your heart desires. Son, you’ve got what it takes to pursue and achieve your dreams and goals.” He never heard those words. And I heard those words, thank God. I heard those words every night from my dad before I went to bed. My dad’s encouragement in my life was undoubtedly the inspiration that I needed to achieve those dreams and goals. And this poor young boy, he never got that motivation, that encouragement, that support, that love from his dad in the way that he needed it most.
And in that moment, at that school, just outside San Diego, El Centro County, in that moment, time stood still for me. And in that moment, two great insights occurred to me. The first one is that you and I, my friends, we never know when our words of encouragement will be the first words of encouragement that someone has heard that day, that week, that month, that year or maybe like that little boy at that school, that lifetime. We just never know as we go through the course of our day, if we are going to be that source of encouragement, that word, that voice of “You can do it!” in someone’s life. It made me realize that is exactly the manner in which God works through us, my friends. In the Bible it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person can sharpen another.” More often than not, it’s our words that are that sharpening stone that are allowing us to keep each other sharp. It’s our words that are allowing us to be the voice of encouragement in other people’s lives. We have to really be mindful of what we say in the company of our loved ones because our spoken word holds such immense power.
In any given moment of an interaction with a loved one or a complete stranger, we never know what that person is dealing with. Heaven knows you and I are dealing with the circumstances in the events in the conditions of our life. Well, guess what, so is everyone else. And what everyone else, including ourselves, is therefore a bit more desirous of is love and encouragement. I mean, I keep coming back to the wisdom which my mom shared with me shortly before she passed away. She said, “Greg, everybody can encourage somebody and be supported at the same time.” And this is essentially the way that karma of “Reap what you sow” can be experienced in our lifetime. As you and I become the voice of encouragement for other people, we allow ourselves and open ourselves up to the opportunity for the universe to then bring people into our life who can encourage and support us.
So the first insight was let’s all be a bit more encouraging of each other because we just never know when that opportunity will present itself for our word of encouragement to be a life-changing moment in someone’s life. That’s number one. Number two is sometimes do you realize where the voice of encouragement is going to need to come from? Within. Within.
Sometimes that voice of encouragement, that voice of, “You can do it,” that voice of, “I believe in you,” that voice of, “You’ve got what it takes,” that voice sometimes in the dark night of our soul needs to come from within. This is what is referred to in the warrior tradition, the warrior archetype as intrinsic motivation. The warrior develops the ability to turn their attention inward, to rely on themselves, on their inherent self-worth to accomplish their dreams and goals. Therefore, as the warrior begins to work within, as we strengthen our hear, our mind, our soul through the constant repetition of feeding the dog of courage, as my dear friend Mark Divine would say, as that happens, as we fill ourselves from within, as we provide ourselves of all sorts of motivation, as we receive encouragement, support and motivation from other people, it only enhances what is already there. We’re not dependent or relying upon any external condition or circumstances including the encouragement of others for we are ultimately relying on ourselves.
Now, that being said, as we turn the attention inward and learn to develop intrinsic motivation, this is that sweet moment when we also open ourselves to the presence of God. This is when things get really exciting for the man or woman of faith. In the Bible it says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and the Bible continually reminds us that God is in us. Therefore, as we begin to turn the attention inward, developing intrinsic motivation, strength within, that strength within is not based on our own strength. It’s based on the strength of God in us.
And then these two things can become yoked. We can begin to use our voice to encourage others, our self-talk, and the way we speak to others becomes a means by which we communicate with ourselves. And that support, that belief, the way that we use our voice is then based on our faith and the word of God. And that, my friends, is when we begin to tap in to more power, more opportunity in our life than we ever dreamed possible.
Let me share with you what happens when we really begin to tap in to this power that is within each and every one of us. So very often, the great scholars, the great teachers, the great mentors in our life are encouraging us to be mindful of our pursuit of life purpose. You see, I firmly believe that every single one of us was born with a very specific mission, a purpose in our life to accomplish. And as we move closer and closer and closer to the pursuit of the purpose of our life, we realized that our words are one of the main means in which that life purpose can be fulfilled. As we begin to speak with that certainty that we were born for something so great that we can barely fathom it, we become very, very careful about the way that we use our words, very, very careful because our words hold such immense creative potential. Every time we speak, our words are, therefore, either moving us a little bit closer or a little bit farther away from the purpose of our life. And as we move closer to the purpose of our life, God begins to open some big doors for us.
Consider the analogy of a parent. Any parent begins to increase their level of trust in their children as their children show their parents that they can be responsible with the power and the trust that they are entrusting them with. Well, God is our Father and he operates the same way. As we show God that we are beginning to understand and fulfill the purpose of our life, he will entrust us with greater and greater power. And as we show that we are being responsible with that power, the cycle begins to repeat itself. More power, more responsibility, more power, more responsibility, it continues on and on and on in really amazing profound ways.
This, my friends, get super exciting because this is when we begin to tap into that realm of miraculous. This is when our lives are completely changed. This is when our lives are never the same. Have you heard that term coincidence? Oh, it’s coincidence. There’s no such thing as coincidence. When you are experiencing coincidence in your life that is God winking at you showing you you’re on the path. He’s opening doors for you. He’s bringing people, events, circumstances, learning opportunities into your life that you need in order to take that next step.
Also, here’s an insight for you, my friends, and I’m kind of laughing as I say this because this continues to humble me as I realize the immense power in this particular Bible verse. In the Bible it says, “My God supplies all I need according to his riches in the glory of Christ Jesus.” Let’s look at that in the context of the Law of Attraction. In the Bible that is the Law of Attraction 101. God supplies everything we need. You see, God is always supplying everything we need, just like the Law of Attraction is always bringing what we desire into our life. It’s always happening. Sometimes we think oh, the Law of Attraction is working. Oh, God is favoring me. He’s bringing things into my life that I’m desirous of. This is wonderful. And then when something occurs in our life that we’re not desirous of, we think well, the Law of Attraction must be broken. God must not be fulfilling his word in this moment. No, the Law of Attraction is always working. You are always attracting into your life what you’re focusing on, what you’re speaking about and what you’re thinking about. And everything that you’re attracting and experiencing in your life, you need. Ultimately, it is for your good. That’s what’s so beautiful about that particular Bible verse, “My God supplies everything that I need according to his riches in the glory of Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:19]
Everything that we need, God is providing for us. And as we step on to our life path, as we begin to pursue the purpose of our life, God begins to open doors for us. The key is to understand that we’ve got to trust that in time everything we’re experiencing in our life, both those things that we’re adamant are this awesome and those things that we’re adamant this is horrible, both what we’re desirous of and what we have an aversion to are ultimately in time for our good.
Before we go to SEALFIT and I share with you some of the stories that took place there, which I know you’re going to love, let me just share with you something that recently happened, which further ties in to everything I’ve shared with you thus far. This is really quite incredible. So behind me I have a painting that says, “I am with you.” This painting and several others were part of a collection that I made after God put on my heart this idea for spiritual truth, where I was puling only small excerpts from the Bible and bringing them to life on these large 36 by 36-inch canvases. That particular painting behind me and several others, were part of an art show at my favorite coffee shop here in Santa Cruz called Coffeetopia right next door to my gym on Portola Drive.
This particular painting that says “I am with you” was positioned right in front of the front door to the coffee shop. So as you walk in Coffeetopia, boom, right there on the wall in front of you, right above the espresso maker, is this painting. Your eye is just drawn to it. While I was getting a cup of coffee about a week ago, this young woman recognizes me from a photograph that was on display where I was explaining the meaning behind the art. She recognized me from that photograph, and she said “Oh, are you Greg? Are you the artist?” And I said, “Yes, I am.” I reached out and introduced myself and said, “I’m Greg, how can I help you?” And she said, “Well, you know, this is kind of awkward but I’ve never believed in God. And then my grandpa died, and my grandpa was my everything. He raised me. He was like my dad. I loved him more than anything. And after he died, I felt absolutely alone. The one person that I know loved me was no longer with me, and I was shattered. And the day after his funeral, I came to Coffeetopia to get a cup of coffee, and when I walked in I saw your painting that said, ‘I am with you.'” And she said, “I’m not sure what it means to believe in God, but when I saw that painting, I started to believe in God. I knew that God was with me and I knew my grandpa was with God and that he was with me too.”
Wow, talk about being brought to your knees. How amazing. How amazing. And the reason I share that and that I opened our episode today with the story of me as a DEA special agent telling that young boy you can do it is again this is how God works, my friends. As we begin to move closer and closer to the purpose of our life, this is exactly the experiences that God will bring into our life. This is exactly how we can be that encouragement for others. We just never know, but we’ve got to trust that every day in every way possible, as we draw closer to the purpose of our life, our life purpose touches other people.
You see, the fulfillment of our life purpose, the mission that we’ve all been given, the unique mission is not for our own self gratification. Oh, no, quite contrary. You and I were born to be of service to others. The purpose of our life is to ultimately encourage and support other people. Isn’t that awesome, my friends?
So now without further ado, I’m going to take you to my dear friend Mark Divine’s gym, SEALFIT in Encinitas, California. We are going to drop in on a lecture that I gave. And in this lecture, I am going to share with the athletes who are in attendance some of the most classic, powerful, memorable warrior tradition stories that have never been told. Yet, you’re in store for a real treat because one of these particular stories is going to be shared through a very unique brand-new perspective. Without further ado, my friends, come with me. We are on our way to Encinitas, California to SEALFIT.
One of the ways we can assess the quality of what’s taking place between our ears is the quality of our thinking. One of the ways we can assess the quality of our thinking is by bringing awareness to the very words that we are speaking. So I want to take you back in time to one of the greatest stories ever told in the warrior tradition.
Mark Divine and I, we are passionate about sharing the stories from the warrior tradition because so much of what we’re desirous of learning and experiencing in our life can be learned and cultivated by walking the path of a warrior. So we go back in time to one of the greatest stories ever told about one of the greatest warriors who ever lived. His name was Heraclitus.
Many, many, many years ago, Heraclitus and his army were surrounded by an enemy force. This was the first time in Heraclitus’s military campaign in which defeat was likely. This was the first time in his military campaign that he had to request replacement soldiers. He wrote a letter to the generals requesting exactly 100 of the best be sent to reinforce him at the battlefront. He gave that letter to his most trusted courier and said, “Ride this letter to the safety of the generals. Deliver this letter, for our lives depend on the quality of the replacement soldiers to arrive and reinforce us.”
The courier took that letter, got on his horse, rode through enemy lines and delivered that letter to the generals. The generals read the letter and realized, “My gosh, Heraclitus is not only surrounded, not only is defeat likely, but he’s actually requesting reinforcements. And so they quickly marshaled up 100 of the most able-bodied men and they sent them to reinforce him at the battlefront.”
These 100 replacement soldiers arrive. Heraclitus does what any good military leader should do in this moment. He conducts an inspection. He creates rank and row and then he walks up and down the rank and row, inspecting every one of these replacement soldiers. He stands in front of everyone and he assesses them. He looks them up and down and assesses them. He brings awareness to each one of these soldiers. And then with a heavy heart, he goes back and writes another letter, gives it to the same courier and says, “Ride this letter home. In the event we should perish in this battle, these words must live on in the warrior culture.” The words in that letter said the following: Of the 100 men you just sent me, 80 are nothing more than targets, 10 don’t even belong here, nine are real fighters, and we are lucky to have them for they the battle make. But one, only one is a warrior and he will bring all the others back home.”
You guys feel that? Where does that story hit you? You feel the energy in that story and how it hits you? When I was hit by that story, I thought that what Heraclitus saw must have been such a physically robust, resilient, strong, chiseled, muscle-bound warrior that I spent years and years and years through the various disciplines I was pursuing trying to develop that physical quality that we’re all certainly desirous of. We all want to physically be the role of the warrior.
Well, last Thursday I was preparing to give a very similar talk at my gym in Santa Cruz. I was at my desk making notes. All of a sudden God puts something really amazing on my heart. Here’s what God put on my heart. He said, “Greg, Heraclitus was meditating.” Imagine if we’ve been misunderstanding the story for all these years. Imagine if rather than Heraclitus being surrounded by an enemy force, he was surrounded by the negativity in his mind. So he used the practices of the warrior, the inner work of the warrior. He pulled back. He achieved awareness, cultivated greater perception of his mind. Rather than being his thinking, he became aware of his thoughts.
Then once he pulled back and he was able to assess his thinking, he noticed in that perception of his thinking there were 100 thoughts circulating in his mind. So he didn’t walk up and down the rank and row and physically assessed other people. He pulled back into the temple of his mind, his soul, his spirit and he conducted an inspection of each thought in his mind and he noticed there were 100. And of the 100 thoughts in his mind, 80 were targets. Eighty thoughts were feeding the dog of fear. Eighty targets needed to be knocked down. They were feeding the dog of fear. Ten thoughts that he brought awareness to were not thoughts of his own. They were ways of thinking that he had inherited from other people, ideas that were circulated in his mind that other people had dropped there. I’m sure we all have experienced that, ways of thinking that are no longer serving us that we’ve inherited over time, habits of thinking, grooves in our brain that direct the course of our life below our consciousness. Yet, that’s the quality of the inspection. He was able to conduct in that meditation deep awareness. Ten thoughts didn’t even belong there. Nine thoughts were good. They were good thoughts. Yet, they still weren’t serving his highest purpose.
And then finally, in his meditation during the assessment, he found the one. He found the one thought out of 100 that were in perfect alignment with his life purpose, perfect alignment with his most divine spiritual nature. One thought out of 100 soulfully fed his dog of courage, and he knew if he could focus on that one thought, it would bring his entire way of thinking home.
The reason I share these two stories is this is a perfect example, my friends, of how we can begin to integrate yolk, as we say in yoga yolk, the mind and the body. Of course we’re all desirous of these types of workouts. We want more reps, we want greater range of motion, we’re certainly desirous of looking the part. That’s wonderful. That’s a great adaptation, as Coach Glassman would say, to CrossFit or to SEALFIT or to a yoga practice, to any physical endeavor. Yet, simultaneously, we can recall the story, the lesson inherent in the story, and we can simultaneously cultivate our mind the quality of our thinking.
Now, I want to share with you another remarkable story, a new way perhaps of hearing or reading or contemplating a story that’s been told since the beginning of recorded history. As many as you probably know, I’m a Christian. In addition to Firebreather Fitness, one of the other books I’ve written is God in Me, daily devotionals for a heart like Christ, and I love studying the life of Christ because Christ was a warrior yogi, without a doubt one of the greatest warrior yogis to ever live.
During his life, like any great leader, his leadership and his message was continually challenged. On one given day or group of spies who have been spying on him and trying to set him up noticed that when he and his disciples were eating, they were not washing their hands before they ate food, which was a grave violation of the law at the time. So they called him on it and they said, “We’ve noticed that when you and your disciples eat, you’re not washing your hands. Do you think you’re greater than the law?” And he replied, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; it’s what comes out.” What a radical concept at the time. Yet all these years later, has anything changed or are we perhaps in a day and age when it’s even more important to cultivate awareness of what we’re saying? Think about the New Year’s resolutions. Safe to say that in this gym many of us had New Year’s resolutions regarding nutrition. We want greater awareness of the food that we’re eating. Yet, consider the wisdom of what Christ said. As important as awareness of what goes into our body is, what’s even more important is what we are saying. It’s what comes out. It’s what we’re speaking that ultimately makes the man or the woman, the quality of our speech.
Why is our speaking so important? Well, what precedes the spoken word in any given moment? Our thinking. I feel like it was yesterday, I rolled onto the grounds of Fort Sill Oklahoma. I was there for a basic combat training. I had enlisted in the US Army. I’d already served for four years in Santa Cruz as a Deputy Sheriff. I was on the SWAT team. I was a sniper. I was a team leader and then I felt God calling me to serve in a new capacity. So I enlisted as a private in the US Army. I rolled out to Fort Sill Oklahoma. I rolled through the gates. The Greyhound bus comes to a stop. The fiercest looking drill sergeants I’d ever seen rush onto the bus and they start ordering me and the other privates, “Get off my bus right now. Line up on the yellow line.”
Well, I stumble off the bus and lo and behold there on the ground are yellow lines. And I stand on the yellow line and the yellow lines make a military platoon formation. I’m standing there, shaking, fearful, nervous as can be, and in front of me walks someone I will always remember, Senior Staff Sergeant AKA Drill Sergeant Oliver. Drill Sergeant Oliver, my recollection is this guy was five feet tall and five feet wide of solid muscle. Terrifying to look at this guy. I never once made eye contact with him, terrifying. He stood in front of our platoon and here’s the first thing he said. He said, “Listen up, prives.” He wouldn’t actually call his privates for nine more weeks we graduated boot camp. He just said prives.
He said, “Listen up, prives. In my army, I want warriors and warriors think a certain way.” I was standing at attention and when he said that I felt my body and my soul and my spirit start to lean forward. I was drawn to him. I knew the universe had brought me there and had brought him there at that exact time in that exact place because he had some wisdom to transfer to me. Here’s what he said next, “In boot camp, your thoughts will precede your words. Your words will precede your actions. Your actions will cultivate your habits. Your habits will make your character and your character will determine your destiny. And I want warriors.” Now, that’s a profound thing for anyone to say especially a senior drill sergeant in the US Army. You know why? Because Staff Sergeant Oliver just quoted Gandhi and that’s the way of the warrior. That’s the essence of the warrior. That’s the heart and the fist. That’s the sword and shield. That’s the true warrior that we’re all desirous of being.
What determined our destiny? We reverse-engineer it. What’s at the foundation of everything? Our thoughts. Our thoughts determine the quality of what we say. Everything that we say takes on the quality of a seed. Over time that seed will sprout. Then we harvest the quality of what sprouted which was determined by the quality of the seed that we first planted. The quality of that seed resided in our mind.
Well, my friends, I hope you enjoyed that live lecture and seminar conducted at SEALFIT in Encinitas, California. Some of my favorite stories were shared there, and as you undoubtedly saw, one of those particular stories about Heraclitus was shared from a very unique perspective.
My friends, I just want to thank you for spending this time with me here today on The Greg Amundson Show and I really look forward to joining you again in two weeks back here on the show. Until that time, may God bless you and keep you safe, and I will talk to you soon, my friends, right back here on The Greg Amundson Show.
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.
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The message contained in this video has the power to change your life. The achievement of your greatest dreams, goals and aspirations, resides in the temple of your mind. Enjoy the video, and share it with a loved one! The second episode of, “The Greg Amundson Show” of which this video is a part, airs on Sunday, April 16, at 12PM. The show is available as a Podcast on iTunes and video format on YouTube.
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 unshakable faith in God.
Hello, friends, and welcome to the very first full episode of The Greg Amundson Show. This is awesome. I am just so pumped to be able to share with you in this format some of the lessons that I am absolutely passionate about. For the longest time, I’ve had an opportunity to share these lessons, these messages, these concepts in a very public setting. For years I traveled all around the world teaching the CrossFit Goal Setting Course of which thoughts, words, goals, intrinsic motivation were a huge part of the course content. I’ve also written extensively about these concepts in the CrossFit Journal. These topics are written about in my new book Firebreather Fitness. I’ve discussed these concepts at great length on a variety of shows, in interviews and on podcasts. Yet, what I think is going to be so exciting is to now share these concepts in a bit more of an intimate learning environment. It’s my hope and prayer that through the podcast and through the online show, I can essentially become a mentor for you.
Keeping in mind, with the most humble heart do I consider myself to be a mentor because the majority of the time that I’m not teaching, do you know what I’m doing? I’m spending time with my mentors. So even teachers need teachers. Even mentors need mentors. And on the journey that you and I are all on, we all have an opportunity to be that mentor in the life of someone. In fact, my mom told me once, and I’ll elaborate more on this, it was such a beautiful sad moment in my life. She told me, that everybody can be supported and encourage somebody at the same time. Isn’t that brilliant? So this is an opportunity for me to encourage and support and mentor you, and you will then have an opportunity to do the same for a loved one in your life as well.
Without further ado, I want to dig in to one of the stories that I absolutely love sharing because this story captures a very important moment in my life. You see, it’s been said that if our life can be influenced or changed by even one degree, our life will never be the same. That one degree change happened for me in 2004. I was with Coach Greg Glassman, a dear friend of mine, a mentor of mine. I was with Coach in Seattle at a gym at the time known as CrossFit North, one of the world’s very first CrossFit affiliate gyms, and Coach Glassman and I and a few other leaders in the CrossFit community were at that gym to teach one of the first CrossFit certification courses that was not hosted at headquarters in Santa Cruz. This was a big deal.
Now, let me take you back in time because, you see, in the old days, the original CrossFit certifications were a little bit different then they are currently taught. In the old days, believe it or not, it was a three-day course. Each day we would average three workouts. These were big workouts. Imagine in the same day doing Fight Gone Bad, Helen, Tabata squats, and Fran. My gosh, all in one day? The joke that Glassman had in those early days was that on Sunday evening, if you were still standing, we grabbed a spatula or a shovel and put you onto a plane, train or automobile and sent you home a brand-new certified CrossFit trainer.
Things have obviously changed due to the influence and the great leadership of Dave Castro and Nicole Carroll. Now we have an ANSI accredited today CrossFit trainer course. Amazing how far the program has come. Yet, from these early days, some really important moments evolved, and one of these moments is woven into the story that I’m now going to share with you.
So go back in time with me. It’s Sunday evening, the course is drying to a close. During the three days, there were two male athletes that had been going head to head together in all of the workouts. These two athletes, although they had never seen each other before, they could have been identical twins. These guys look the same, they talk the same. When the shirts came off, they had the same musculature build. It appeared they had the same command physically of the foundational CrossFit skills. It’s amazing. And these two athletes were finishing workouts within one or two seconds of each other. It was impossible to tell who would have the lead, who would be victorious in any given workout.
And on the final day, these two guys are going head to head and we think between Coach Glassman and I, this final workout might just be a tie. The reason we think that is that this workout had two key stations. One of those stations was barbell clean and jerk. The other station was the muscle-up, and these two athletes finished the clean and jerk station at the exact same time.
Then they started to run across the gym floor en route to the rings at the exact same time. Glassman and I are standing off to the side, arms crossed, really enjoying and taking this all in, watching this competition unfold. Glassman looks at me and he says, “Hey kid, it might be a tie.” Well, the first athlete runs right by Coach Glassman and I on their way to the rings because they’ve still got to do ten muscle-ups to finish this workout. As they run by Coach Glassman and I, the athlete says with a great deal of enthusiasm and personal belief in his words, he says this, he says, “I’ve never done a muscle-up before. Today I’m going to get my first one.” Whoosh, off he goes to the rings.
Now, the other athlete is like a shadow next to this guy, right next to him. And as he runs by Coach Glassman and I, he also uses his words in a very specific way, in a self-affirming way. However, what he affirms is something entirely different. Yet, nevertheless, he affirms it with that same level of personal belief and certainty in his words. What this athlete says is “I’ve never done a muscle-up before. There is no way I can complete this final workout.” Whoosh, off he goes to the rings.
Well, these athletes arrived at the ring station at the exact same time. They set up under the rings at the exact same time. They reach up at the exact same time and both of these athletes simultaneously secure a false grip on the rings. Now that’s important. You see, if you’re not sure what a muscle-up is, a muscle-up in the words of Coach Glassman is the world’s highest pull-up and the world’s lowest dip combined into the same movement. And in order to perform the skill, you need to secure a false grip. So what’s so interesting is that even though these athletes claimed they’d never done a muscle-up, they technically knew how to set the skill up. And, my friends, that’s going to be very important as we dig into further content on the first season together. Knowing how to do something is important, very, very important. Yet, what’s more important is applying the principles that we know in our life.
So both these athletes secure a false grip. With a deep breath and a strong contraction of the upper back and arms, both of these athletes start to pull themselves high onto the rings. The athlete that had said just moments before, “Today I am going to get my first one,” they pull, they pull, they get high on the rings, and then, whoosh, they make that critical transition from pull to push. They arrive in the bottom of the dip. A look of surprise on their face, a huge smile and then they extend their arm. They have completed exactly what they said they would, their first muscle-up. The crowd goes bonkers, especially those people that had heard him make the claim that today I will get my first one, like Glassman and I did. I was clapping my hands. I was overjoyed. It was a miracle.
Well, meanwhile, the athlete that said, “There’s no way I can complete this workout,” that athlete is pulling and pulling. In fact, they’ve even got the height on the ring, but they never make that critical transition to the bottom of the dip. Now, as that athlete is getting more and more frustrated, the athlete that spoke with positive expectancy and assured themselves of their own bright future continued to cycle nine more muscle-ups in a row, only stopping briefly to re-secure that critical false grip. When it was all said and done, the athlete that had used their words in the positive tense and said, “Today I will get my first one,” does ten muscle-ups, wins the workout. The athlete that limited their ability in a self-defeating way, using their words to create a boundary and a limitation in their life by saying, “There’s no way I can complete this final workout,” that athlete ultimately gives up. They do not complete the workout.
Well, here’s what’s interesting. A group of people ran around the athlete that had won the workout to congratulate him. And he continued to use his words in a self-affirming way, essentially building in his mind the certainty that in the future, when he spoke in the positive tense, he would once again, be able to assure himself of the victory he was imprinting in his mind. Because he said, “Thanks, guys. I knew I could do it.” Meanwhile, the other athlete was being comforted by a few of his friends. Sadly, he was using his words in a continual self-defeating way. He said, “Oh, guys, it’s okay. I knew I couldn’t do it.”
Following that moment, Glassman looks at me. Here’s what he says my friends. Here’s what he said. He said, “Greg, the greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears.” Now, listen to that one more time because, my friends, just like it was for me, perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard this story. Or maybe you’ve heard it before yet now you hear it for the first time. Glassman said, “The greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears.” My friends, my life was changed in that moment. Because, you see, up to that moment, I’ve been training CrossFit diligently day in and out under the mentorship and coaching of Glassman. Yet, I had been focused mainly on the physical adaptation. And in that moment, Coach and I both realized, wow, there is much going on here than physical adaptation. In fact, as Glassman so eloquently said, the greatest adaptation will take place between our ears, in our mind. Imagine that. So whether or not you’re doing CrossFit is irrelevant because what Glassman said is universal. The greatest adaptation to any physical endeavor is mental.
And I’ve learned something else, my friends. It gets better. You see, because really what we are all desirous of is not only physical, not only mental, but spiritual development as well. We’re all desirous of an integrated physical, mental and spiritual adaptation to everything that we’re doing.
I want to share another story about my dad. My mom and my dad, as you may know if you watched the inaugural introduction to our first season together, are incredible mentors and role models in my life. I only wish they were still alive. If they were alive, believe me, my friends, they would be on the show with you and I right now. They would be a regular recurring guest. Sadly they passed away, but they’ve left me with an incredible assortment of memories. Woven into the memories I have of my mom and dad are some amazing lessons that I’m now desirous of sharing with you.
When I was very young, I was always fascinated by my dad’s bookshelf. My dad was an avid reader and himself, along with my mom, an avid storyteller. In my family, we did not have television. Instead after dinner, we would gather in the living room, and we would share stories. It’s been part of my life since my earliest childhood memories. One day there I was, young boy standing in front of my dad’s bookshelf looking at the different books and I noticed one book. One book caught my attention. The title of the book is The Tongue – A Creative Force. I looked at my dad and said, “Dad, what’s that book about?” He said, “Oh, son, let me describe it to you this way. Imagine the world’s largest naval vessel.” My dad was a former naval officer, and he loved sharing stories with me about his time in the Navy. He said, “Imagine the world’s largest naval vessel at sea.” He said, “Greg, what turns that massive ship any direction the captain wants it to go?” I thought for a moment. He said, “Yes, son, it’s the rudder.” He could see the wheels turning in my mind. He said it’s the rudder.
And I remember thinking of myself, “Yeah, but the rudder is so small. How can the rudder possibly steer and turn the world’s most massive ship?” But that’s what it is, my friends. The captain at the helm of the world’s largest ship can turn that ship any direction by influencing the wheel which turns the rudder. And my dad explained to me in a way that I could understand at that time in my life that the rudder is an analogy, a metaphor for our tongue, for our spoken word. You see, our words turn the direction of our life any way we wanted to go. And I often reflect about the combined lesson, that moment in my childhood with my dad explaining to me, through the book The Tongue – A Creative Force, the power of the tongue and of our spoken word. And that moment in Seattle with Coach Glassman, when the spoken word in the context of athleticism proved to be the dominant force in what allowed one athlete to succeed and another athlete to fail.
Now, another story regarding the power of the spoken word, the power of our tongue. This is an awesome story. I come back to the story time and time again when I’m studying the Bible. It fascinates me, it fires me up. This is awesome, my friends. Get ready for this. When Jesus was teaching, there were a group of spies who were set out to condemn him and to set him up for persecution. One day these spies noticed that when Christ and his apostles were eating, they were not washing their hands, which was a grave offense of violation of the law at the time. And one of the spies challenged Christ and said, “We’ve notice that when you eat you do not wash your hands. Do you think you are above the law?” Now, what Christ said for that period of time was absolutely radical. Christ said, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; it’s what comes out of your mouth that defiles you.” What Christ said is it is what you say that can either set you up in life or bring you down. [Matthew 15:11]
So here we have three unique ways of viewing this immense power of understanding this immense responsibility that you and I have: an amazing story from Coach Glassman, story from my dad, and perhaps most importantly, a story from the bible, from the life of Christ.
My friends, you and I have an amazing power. We have the ability to in a moment direct the course of our life through what we say. Everything we say takes on life. So we have an opportunity to speak life or speak death. We have an opportunity every time we speak to speak with positive expectancy or negative certainty, one or the other.
As my dear friend, great mentor and leader in my life, Mark Divine, explains this principle. We’re either in any given moment, feeding the dog of courage or the dog of fear. And the primary fuel source that either the dog of courage or the dog of fear is desirous of is our thoughts and our words. And if you want insight into what you or someone else is thinking, just listen to what you or that other person is speaking. Yeah. You see, our spoken word is a little insight into what’s taking place in the temple of our mind. That greatest adaptation Glassman was referring to, it’s evident how far we’ve come on our path, on our journey by how well we have begun to harness and master the power of our spoken word.
Again, to look to the Bible for analogy and inspiration, this is why in the Book of James, the author is describing the means by which a rider can control a horse by the bit and therefore the reins in the mouth of the horse. My friends, with practice, just like any other skill we’re desirous of learning, you and I can learn how to harness the power of our spoken word. It’s a skill we can learn. It’s a skill we can practice. You see, repetition is the first law of learning. So we have to simply repeat for ourselves the correct pattern of speech. It’s really no different than learning a physical skill. If you are desirous of learning any physical skill, you need to practice. Yet, if you’ve ever heard practice makes perfect, that is incorrect. Any good law enforcement officer of military operator will quickly correct you and say it’s perfect practice we have to utilize in order to ensure that in that critical moment we are able to command our body in space and time with the right movement pattern. Therefore, it’s through disciplined practice of our spoken word that in those critical moments in our life we are able to speak with the authority, with the awareness, with the compassion, with the discipline of a true modern-day warrior.
I use that word warrior with the utmost conviction and respect. You know you’re in the presence of an evolved warrior by the way they speak. A warrior, in fact, seldom speaks, and when they do, their words move mountains. Mountains. It’s like that when I’m in the presence of some of the great mentors in my life. One I’ve already mentioned, Commander Mark Divine. Another really incredible mentor, very powerful speaker is a gentleman named Dan Brule. Dan Brule is the author of a brand-new book called Just Breathe. Mark Divine introduced me to Dan. Dan is a breath master. How does someone become a breath master? Well, by taking a lifetime of conscious breaths. You know you’re in the presence of a breath master because when I’m in Dan’s presence, here’s what I do my friends. I go like this. [Breaths deeply] I just take a deep breath. And it’s that way when I’m in the presence of Mark Divine. Suddenly my pattern of speaking slows down. The precision of my words becomes crystal clear. And you better believe when I’m in the presence of one of my physical adaptation coaches like Coach Glassman the quality of my movement improves.
One of the jokes that Glassman and I and many of the early CrossFit athletes had was that, when Olympic lifting guru Mike Burgener walks into the gym, you know what happens to everyone’s record in the clean and jerk and snatch? Everyone gets a new record. Everyone gets five more pounds on their barbell, just because he’s in the room. And, my friends, the good news I want to share with you is that as we practice and as we refine our ability to speak, we have that effect on other people. That’s what so beautiful about the message of my mom, the words of wisdom she gave me. Everybody can encourage somebody and be supported at the same time, and our words can be that very source of encouragement to other people.
And in terms of intrinsic motivation, what’s so important to understand is that sometimes, my friends, I’ve realized the greatest voice of encouragement we need to hear in any given moment, you know whose voice it is? Yes, it’s our own voice. It’s the voice in our mind and it’s our spoken word. Because just in the event we should notice that we might be entertaining in our mind the dog of fear does not mean we need to further feed that dog by speaking the dog of fear. I elaborate on this in great detail in my book Firebreather Fitness. It’s actually those times when we become aware that our self-talk is feeding the dog of fear that we have to be extremely vigilant about speaking out loud to the dog of courage. That can have a radical imprint on our subconscious and conscious mind. The spoken word is extremely powerful. We know that we’re beginning to harness the spoken word when we use the spoken word in a self-affirming way regardless of how we feel. Just because we’re feeling a certain way, you’re thinking a certain way does not mean we have to speak in that same fashion. Our words can change the vibration, the calibration of our mind, of our emotions, of our feelings by speaking positively.
So let me end this first episode by some examples of positive speaking so that you can begin to practice this because just like any other skill, speaking in the positive tense is a skill that we have to practice. The ritual that I encourage you to adopt is what I call First Words. I’m so excited to share this with you because I honestly believe, based on the feedback from thousands of people that I’ve coached and mentored over the years, this, my friends, could very well be that one degree directional change in your life. When you intimate the First Words practice, this can have a life-changing effect in your life, my friends. That’s how powerful this is. You ready? All right, so here’s the way it works. Every morning when you wake up, when you become aware of the fact that you are now awake, remain silent. That silence should extend through not only your spoken word yet any other type of engagement with the word. Therefore, upon awakening, no speaking, no Facebook, no Instagram, no engagement with the word. Keep your mind clear.
With that clarity, get out of bed. Go pour yourself a glass of water. When you drink that water I want you to conjure up the feeling in your mind, in your body, in your spirit. Just feel immense gratitude as you drink that water. Be grateful for the water; be grateful for your ability to receive the health benefits of that water. Just drink that water in. Feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Then move to a place in your home that you might be able to reserve for this what will become sacred practice of First Words. Reserve this space. Always go to this space so energetically you associate this place in your home with spiritual power, a power that you possess. Go to that place and get comfortable, whatever that means to you. Perhaps there is chair that you can sit in. I like to go into child’s pose. That’s a very grounding comfortable yoga pose. Perhaps you sit cross-legged or take any other posture or seat that is comfortable for you. Yet, find a seat that allows you to become still. You see, we’re developing stillness. In the Bible it says be still and know. There’s this part of us that is always still and there’s a part of us that always knows. This practice of First Words is helping us get in touch and cultivate that stillness.
So now that we’re still, just begin to become aware of your breath. My dear friend Dan Brule who I already mentioned told me that you can have a breath practice if every day you just take one mindful breath. What’s a mindful breath? Well, another mentor in my life, Rolf Gates, world-renowned yogi warrior, author of several bestselling books, he described to me this as a mindful breath. He said, “Greg, when you breathe in, know that you are breathing in. And when you breathe out, know that you are breathing out.” Know, spelled K-N-O-W, to know something with absolute certainty. So when I breathe in, I know with certainty because I am 100% focused on that inhalation. Everything else fades into the background. I am 100% aware of the fact I am breathing in. When I breathe out I’m aware of the fact I’m breathing out. Nothing else matters.
After taking those deep breaths, begin to become equally aware of the quality of your thinking. Begin to feed the dog of courage. Bring in to your consciousness a statement in the positive tense. This could be a Bible verse. This could be an affirmation or a mantra. Ensure it’s in the positive tense. It could also be a singular word you’re desirous of experiencing or manifesting or strengthening in your life. It could be the word courage, faith, kindness, love. It could be a mantra: I believe in myself, I love myself, I constantly reaffirm my ability to succeed. It could be Bible verse: My God supplies all I need according to his riches in the glory of Christ Jesus. Popular Bible verse in CrossFit: I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. It’s up to you. Any positive tense statement, mantra, affirmation or Bible verse. Repeat it first in your mind. Then shift from thinking to speaking, break the sacred silence of the morning by speaking your First Words.
As I teach in yoga, your First Words create a rippling effect through every corner of your life. They ripple through eternity, through God’s very fertile universal soil. Also, as you carry through your day, those First Words follow you and you find it much easier to continue to speak in that same positive self-affirming way. Your First Words, therefore, take on the quality of every word that you speak for the remainder of your day.
Well, my friends, I hope that you have enjoyed this first episode as much as I’ve enjoyed recording it and sharing it with you. Remember, The Gregory Amundson Show airs the first and third Sunday of every month. Until we speak again, may God bless you and keep you safe. I look forward to speaking with you again soon back here on The Greg Amundson Show.
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.
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Hello, friends, and welcome to the very first episode of The Greg Amundson Show. Many years ago, one of my dear friends, a mentor of mine, said these words to me. He said, “Greg, if you tell me the truth, I will believe you. If you tell me a fact, I will listen. However, if you share with me a story, then I will remember.” My goal with The Greg Amundson Show is to share with you a series of stories. Here’s the exciting part about using storytelling as a means to transfer a message. Storytelling allows you to not only remember the lessons that I’m so desirous and excited to share with you; perhaps most important, storytelling allows you a context to understand and ultimately apply these lessons in your life.
Now, I got to begin by saying that The Greg Amundson Show was not my idea. I’ve been blessed with having an opportunity to be on many, many podcasts, and following each of the podcasts that I’ve been on, the host would look at me and say, “You know, Greg, you should really have your own podcast.” And after so many of these recommendations and after so much encouragement from the dear mentors and the leaders in my life, I decided to go ahead and start this year with this show. Let’s begin.
I want to go back in time and share with you one of the stories that comes from my life. The reason this story is so important is it has to do with two of the greatest role models, two of the greatest leaders, two of the most influential people in my life, and those two people are my mom and dad. Sadly, both my mom and dad have passed away. However, even to this day, I feel their presence in my life. As a matter fact, I joke a lot of times with my three younger brothers Mark, Stephen and Erik, that one of the books I just got to write during my lifetime is going to be called Dear Mom and Dad, You Were Totally Right, and then outline all the amazing lessons that they taught me. So let me share with you two of the amazing moments in my life in which my parents gifted me with an absolutely profound piece of wisdom.
When my dad was nearing the end of his life, he was at Dameron Hospital in Stockton, California. I went to visit him because my mom called me and said, “You know, Greg, he doesn’t have much time left.” I was living in Santa Cruz at the time, so I immediately dropped what I was doing and I drove from Santa Cruz to my hometown of Stockton, California. I drove right to Dameron, I went upstairs to the third floor of that hospital room, and went into my dad’s room. My mom left so that I could have some private time with my dad. At this time in my life, I was brand-new into the law enforcement profession, so the motivation for moving in the direction of law enforcement at that time had a great deal to do with pride. I had pride in my department. I had pride in the profession of law enforcement. Pride was my motivating influence at that time.
So, of course, I went up to my dad and looked at my dad and I said, “Dad, I’m going to make you proud of me.” As I whispered that to him his eyes were closed, he was laying on his hospital bed, and a little smile crept on his face, he opened his eyes, and turned his head to look at me, and through a strained voice, here’s what he said. He said, “Greg whatever you do, do it for love.” Wow! Talk about a life-changing moment. Whatever I do, do it for love. And from that moment forward, the direction of my life changed, and I realized I had much more intrinsic power in everything that I did because love is the ultimate source of creation. And if I was able to bring love to all of the ideas and the goals that I had, well, I had the power of God moving through my life. And to this day, love is the motivating factor for everything that I do and I owe it all to that moment in time and the words of my dad.
Ten years later, sadly, there I am with my mom ironically back at Dameron Hospital. She is now approaching the end of her life from a very similar illness. She was in a coma that she would periodically come in and out of. As I sat next to her that day, she came out her come which she’d been in for several days, and she looked at me and we started to converse. And for several minutes of our conversation she just wasn’t really making sense, although I was nodding and trying to maintain the conversation as long as I could. And then finally, she paused for a moment as if she was gaining some inspired wisdom, as if God was speaking right through her. She looked at me and she said, “You know, Greg, everybody can encourage somebody and be supported at the same time.” Wow! Now to this day I’m still trying to unravel all the layers of wisdom and knowledge and guidance that my mom gifted me in that simple statement.
But let me share with you what’s currently on my heart: the idea that everybody can encourage somebody. We can all be a source of encouragement to another person. And what’s the greatest source, what’s the greatest means? What’s the tool that we have at our disposal for encouragement? Well, so often, it’s the words that we speak, it’s our spoken language, it’s the way that we converse and communicate with other people. Well, sometimes, the person that we need to encourage the most is in fact us. And how do we communicate with ourselves? What’s the best means we have to motivate, encourage and support our own dreams and goals? Well, once again, it’s the power of our spoken word, and what’s so amazing to be considered about our spoken word is what precedes the spoken word is our thinking, the quality of our thoughts. What we’re contemplating in the temple of our mind is ultimately responsible for everything that we say. We can be a source of encouragement to ourselves and other people by our spoken word.
And then this notion of not only encouragement but support. We need support in our life. We need support from other people. However, we need support from a permanent function, from a permanent factor, from a rock, from a solid foundation that is not subject to change. Even our most loved ones, even the most cherished human relationships are subject to change. So if we base our support on something that’s subject to change and it changes, our system of support and our foundation might collapse. However, if we base our support on God, on the word of God, then we’re building our foundation on something that is changeless, something that is the same today, tomorrow and forevermore.
So in this series that I’ll be sharing with you, so often the wisdom that we are learning through the story will be substantiated and based on the word of God. So right away, as we begin this series, I want to go right to one of the most profound stories in the Bible. The reason I’m starting with this particular story from the Bible is that the first season of The Greg Amundson Show is going to be subtitled The Power of Your Mind. The entire season is dedicated to investigating how much power we have right here between our ears in the temple of our mind. So I want to share with you what I think is one of the most interesting and compelling stories from the Bible, and of course, it has to do with the greatest teacher who has ever lived, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was with his apostles, traveling and teaching and ministering, simultaneously as people were flocking to him for inspiration and education, other people were coming to him in an attempt to set him up and bring the law against him. These were people who wanted nothing more than to unravel and to dismiss the great word and the great ministry of Christ.
Well, one day these people were watching Christ and his disciples interact and they noticed that Jesus and his disciples were not washing their hands before they ate. So these people looked at Christ and said, “Oh Jesus, do you mean to tell us that you are above the law for you do not wash your hands before eating?” And at that time that was a grave offense and a violation of Jewish law and they called him on it, hoping to set him up. Here is what Jesus said. Jesus looked at those people who meant to accuse him and said, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; it’s what comes out of your mouth.” [Matthew 15:11]
Wow! Every time I think about that story or read that story from the Bible or share that story, I just get more and more excited, more and more pumped, more and more stoked about the message and the layers of message in that story because at the time this was a radical notion. Everyone was so focused on these laws and these customs and these traditions and Christ said, “Enough!” Enough! Let’s start to consider the power of the spoken word. It’s what comes out of your mouth that defiles you. Or put in the positive tense, it’s what comes out of your mouth that allows you to create the life of your dreams. It’s what comes out of your mouth that allows you to bring your life experience into perfect alignment with the experience of life that God is desirous for you to have. It’s a power that we have all had for the longest time. Yet, we may not have considered it. Perhaps because just like those people that meant to accuse Christ, we’ve been more concerned with what we’re putting into our mouth, more concerned with the tactile and the physical nutrition that we’re consuming, yet perhaps forgetting about the real nutrition of our soul, the nutrition of our spirit, and that, my friends, is our spoken word.
Yet, as I already mentioned earlier, what precedes the spoken word? Our thinking. Our thoughts always precede everything that we say. And as we bring more and more awareness to the quality of our thinking, then we begin to speak with the precision, with the beauty and with a power that allows us to ultimately achieve any goal that God puts on our heart. It allows us to communicate with the Creator of the world. The Bible says that, “When my word resides in you, then anything that you’re desirous of and anything that you ask for will be yours.” [John 15:7] It also says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” [John 1:1] And God gave us the ability to speak. When we align our speaking with the voice of God, it’s in those moments, my friends, that we are in his presence in a way that we can only begin to understand and imagine.
As you can probably tell, I am so fired up. I’m so motivated to share this message and this is only Season 1. As we move into further seasons on the show I’ve got some great surprises in store for you. Yet, it’s always a matter of returning to the foundation, and we lay our foundation, my friends, in Season 1 as we begin to really investigate and dig into the power of our mind and the power of our spoken word.
Until then, my friends, may God bless you and keep you safe, and I will see you back here very soon as we begin Season 1 of The Greg Amundson Show.
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In the famous words of my dear friend and mentor, Coach Greg Glassman, the founder and CEO of CrossFit, I feel it’s only fitting to commence the launch of my new “Greg Amundson Show” with an official countdown ….. 3-2-1 GO!
Episode One of my new show, called “The Power In Your Mind” is scheduled to officially debut on April 2, 2017. Subsequent shows will air on the first and third Sunday of every month for the remainder of the year. I’ve included below my introduction to the show, and a preview of all the exciting topics we will be exploring during the first season. You can preview the very first episode both on YouTube and as a Podcast. I am really looking forward to providing you with education and inspiration, to help motivate you to achieve the life you were born for! Enjoy the introduction, and I’ll speak with you again on April 2.
~ Greg Amundson
- Introduction to Episode One – Season One [Podcast]
- Introduction to Episode One – Season One [YouTube]
So often as we navigate the ebb and flow of life, our senses convince us to focus on the world outside. We attach to what pleases our senses, and we avert from what does not. However, there is a real awakening that happens the moment we reverse the tendency of the mind to project outward through the senses, and instead turn inward. This is the power that meditation holds for the awakening warrior. In this video, I share the traditional story of Heraclitus and the 100 Replacement Soldiers, within a bold and excitingly new framework. Enjoy!
Can you send love, happiness and health to another person, simply by intending it through the power of your mind? The answer is a resounding yes! Watch this short and transformational video, filmed live during a ministry at my gym in Santa Cruz, CA., to discover more.
Within “The Temple of your Mind” resides untapped potential and opportunity for happiness, love and health. The first step on the transformational journey of renewing the quality of your thinking, is awareness of your thinking. In this video, filmed live during a ministry at my gym in Santa Cruz, I educate and inspire attendees to pursue their life purpose, which is accomplished through disciplined and right use if their thoughts and words.
Over the past 38 years of my life, God has provided me some immense learning opportunities. Although I may not have been able to learn the lessons on their first iteration, God is gracious in that He continued to provide me with circumstances which fostered a greater understanding and dependence upon His Word. Here are a few of the major insights I feel super compelled to share through my lectures and books:
- Our thoughts and words are REAL! Every thought we entertain, and every word we speak, has creative and manifesting power. Through the Holy Spirit, activated through our spoked word, we have the ability to co-create with God.
- What we focus our attention on will INCREASE in our life. This is why Christ taught, “Seek, and your will find.” Our eyes may see, but our mind perceives: Ultimately, we always retain the ability to choose what we think about the circumstances of our life. The most important use of our attention should always be reserved for God.
- God is desirous of our time. Just like any worldly relationship, God wants our undivided and focused attention. By, “Seeking first the Kingdom of God” we gain peace in our lives, and allow His grace to surround us. In the presence and Kingdom of God, we can actually do less, and accomplish more.
Begin today to foster a more disciplined use of your thinking and speaking. Devote at least twenty minutes each day to simply “being in the presence of God.” Bring no agenda before His presence. Simply sit in silence, and allow His grace, mercy and peace to envelop you. As you spend time in the presence of God, you will notice your mind will be restored, your spirit lifted, and your perspective enlightened.