Ep. 48: Tami Simon - Co-Mindfulness and the True Litmus Test of an Interconnected World - Sounds True
Tami Simon is the founder and CEO of Sounds True, a multimedia publishing company with a mission to wake up the world, for over 30 years. Tami has been disseminating the wisdom and guidance of today's leading spiritual teachers. Tami is also the host of the popular weekly podcast Insights at the Edge and the author of the audio book Being True: What Matters Most in Work Life and Love. We grew up with Sounds True over the last 25 years listening -- and being so inspired.
Tami talks about her candid personality and her early childhood experiences cherishing books which reflected back her inner knowing that the world was interconnected.
Working with hundreds of famous leaders and spiritual teachers in her company, she comments that the true litmus test is to observe ourselves and look at how we interact with other people outside of work, books and lectures, backstage. The mindfulness boat is all about “generating greater love, greater understanding, greater appreciation” and deep humility and listening within your daily social interactions.
Tami explains that everyone wants to be heard and that is often more productive to listen from a place of not having a position, so that you can surrender to the moment. Humility, she adds, is letting ourselves not always have all the answers. It’s a lot more interesting to be on a path of discovery with other people.
In this podcast, you will learn how to be vulnerable, and how to love and accept yourself even in your most dark and difficult moments.
What are the most powerful ideas on the frontier? The concept of co-mindfulness - which allows us to see cooperation and understanding in the social structures which drive forward our interconnected future.
More From Tami SImon
Sounds True Website: www.soundstrue.com
Podcast: Sounds True Podcast
Audio Book: Being True
YouTube: Sounds True
Linkedin Tami Simon, Sounds True
BOOKS MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
The Unfolding Now: Realizing Your True Nature through the Practice of Presence by Shambhala
Living in a Place of Surrender by Michael Singer
[02:41] When I was a student in the philosophy department in Swarthmore College I was introduced to the Buddhist philosophy and the idea that there are three marks to existence -- and I'll just be very brief -- but the first is impermanence and then the second is that because everything is changing there's also not a solid self that doesn't change -- we're always changing too. And then finally that our suffering comes from clinging and not understanding that everything's in flux and changing.
[03:37] Everything is interconnected in this changing fluid field because we can't nail anything down. There's nothing solid -- it's just this interconnected web what happens in one place affects what happens far far away. And so I think this feeling and knowing of interconnection was a really big aha for me and I started feeling as if I was a big web being itself connected to everyone and everything in all time in all places.
[04:13] You know I was a weird kind of alienated lonely kid and I remember putting these books under my pillow at night and sleeping with them and feeling that for the first time there was writing and a teacher and a voice that reflected something I knew on the inside it was so important to me. It was like a lifeline if you will to have that kind of validation because when I looked around the world just seemed so insane to be quite honest and I knew there was something that was sane and good and that made sense and that was wholesome in whole. But I needed it reflected and that's what I found in these writings.
[05:31] It's always been part of my nature as a person to not hide and to just be who I am. I think that's just been a natural way of being for me and the only way that I feel at home in myself.
[06:05] I think later I've come to see, as an adult, that I actually believe that the truth of who we are is our gift to the moment.
[06:18] The truth of who we are -- what we sense inside. What we know inside, in an unfiltered way, is the intelligence of the universe coming through us.
[07:09] One of our values at Sounds True is being kind and direct.
[07:53] It's important to recognize we're always connected.
[08:10] We are connected to obviously every other person that we come into contact with with, our biological families that brought us here and our ancestors.
[08:33] So the question is do we recognize it -- or do we experience ourselves as separate beings?
[08:47] Alan Watts used to talk about the “skin encapsulated ego” that we have this idea that we're a separate individual inside our skin. But that's a fantasy. We made that up.
[08:57] I mean actually our skin is incredibly porous and we're connected feeling wise. You can tell when you walk into a room -- you can feel the other people who were in the room hours before -- you know you can feel like -- oh this wouldn't feel so good or oh this room feels like there was a fight in here before I even got here.
[09:16] We're so sensitive and we're always connected. I think a lot of the ways to answer your question that people practice mindfulness meditation is with their eyes shut all by themselves perhaps in a room. And that leads to this idea that we're on some type of solitary journey as a spiritual explorer.
[11:08] I have to open my eyes and taken these inputs and really put my relationships with other people first and foremost.
[11:19] Would you say that one of the most powerful ways to practice mindfulness is in our relationships with other people?
[11:26] If it's not generating greater love, greater understanding, greater appreciation -- if it's not lifting everybody up that we come into contact with, I'd say we missed the mindfulness boat period.
[13:15] The most important thing was embodying it in all of my interactions -- and that that was a non-negotiable because that's really where our beliefs are put to the test. It's how we treat each other. In addition to whatever artifacts we create in terms of books and teaching materials it's that daily interaction of how we've impacted people that matters the most. It's the true litmus test.
[14:34] Sister Joan Chittister talks about how could you view every situation through the eyes of love -- through the eyes of a loving God the way God would look at everybody in every situation.
[15:04] If we want to have a mindful relationship I think it begins by actually seeing that inner light and that innocence and that beauty and that preciousness in every single person we interact with.
[15:54] Often our agenda is forwarding our own creative project or some money making thing or the stuff that's on our list to get done or whatever we're trying to do to prove ourselves and that's not as important as what's actually happening right here between me and the other person.
[16:18] It's having a kind of deep humility that says they matter as much as I matter. This person's view and opinion matters as much as my own. I'm not so self-cherishing and so self-involved that I don't see that this other person has equal merit right here in this moment.
[16:53] Everybody wants to be heard.
[18:22] People who really are deeply established in mindfulness and presence can give one hundred percent of their full attention to someone even for just a few seconds. So if we're distracted we're not actually 100 percent there and the other person never gets the hunger inside of them met and they don't get the nourishment that comes if we could be one hundred percent there it only actually takes a few seconds and then we can go on with whatever it is we need to go on with.
[19:18] Listening with your heart and listening with your body.
[19:29] I've really come to see is how to suspend any kind of conclusion about what the person is saying. What does it mean to actually listen from a place of not having a position -- because you know often we listen and we already have a position, right. But what would it be like to actually suspend that? Just put it to the side and say I'm going to completely open my mind. What's the feeling tone underneath what this person is saying? What are they really driving at? What really matters to them? And then furthermore -- can I take their perspective? This is what a mindful relationship might look like. I think it’s the ability to say this is someone is different from me. They have a different perspective. I'm going to step into their shoes and take their perspective. That's such an important level of human development for us to be able to do that. I think that's the way we solve problems. I think that's the way we can negotiate across differences and it creates an incredible amount of understanding.
[21:53] It's okay to say to somebody, I'm feeling a little distracted right now or I'm actually in a hurry or I only have a few minutes for this. Meaning we can actually come forward with how we feel. You can say you know, I don't have all the answers here -- but let me tell you how I'm actually feeling. And that's part of being the truth teller as well which is being able to share with people whatever is going on for you.
[23:11] I think part of being vulnerable was letting ourselves be -- I mean, “a mess” is a little strong -- but we're not always all together. Everything's not always all zipped up. We often have lots of questions inside and then we can share that with people and it allows for a much deeper connection.
[23:35] In terms of humility I think just letting ourselves not always have all the answers. Have you ever been with somebody who seems to always have an answer for everyone and you know it actually shuts the space in the room down. It’s a lot more interesting to be on a path of discovery with other people.
[24:24] To be vulnerable is actually a supremely courageous act.
[24:33] At Sounds True our leadership team -- we have a “Courageous Feedback Award”.
[27:12] There's a movement right now in the workplace environment where people don't want to wear a mask at work. They don't want to do it. They don't want to go home and be one person and then come into an office and be somebody else. And I think that there's something healthy behind that instinct which is that I think that as people we actually want to feel our wholeness when we feel it and we feel that we can be genuine we can be the most relaxed the most creative we can have the best ideas and we can enjoy life to the fullest.
[28:14] I strive to be the kind of person that has enough warmth and nonjudgmental acceptance and space in me that people feel like they can be themselves around me.
[28:39] We can only receive someone else's deep authentic feelings about something -- and any kind of situation -- if we've already accepted that part of ourselves.
[28:55] If we're uncomfortable with anger, then people aren't going to feel OK expressing the fact that they're angry about something around us.
[30:07] I think it's one of the most important skills that we find a way -- that even in our darkest moments, in our most difficult moments -- we have a way of turning towards ourselves and being with ourselves and offering ourselves unconditional acceptance.
[30:31] Kristen Neff, a self compassion researcher talked about how developing this skill can be as simple as putting your hand on your heart or gently stroking your own arm or your hand one hand with the other and just saying to yourself, “Darling it's OK, you're going through something right now but I'm here for you.” So we learn how to be there for ourselves and then we're able to be there for anyone in whatever way they present.
[31:24] I think there's an interesting balance between selflessness and positive selfing to make relationships work so I can selflessly take your perspective.
[33:02] I think we have to be able to self regulate in such a way that we manage our own reactivity so we know oh -- I'm being reactive right now. I can feel it. You can feel it in your body. You're not calm any longer you're not listening. You're off to the races, so they say. So we have to each learn to see -- oh I'm reactive right now. I think this would be a good time for me to do some belly breathing. Take a deep breath -- not just one but maybe four or five -- maybe go for a walk outside for 20 minutes. And then when we're calm see if we can understand this position that's so different from mine. What are the underlying needs? What's really going on with this position that seems opposite? Are there are some human needs happening there -- do I understand them? Do I know what they are? Can we find a way together -- where I can voice my needs and I can understand the needs that seem opposing -- so that we can engage in that evolutionary human act of negotiating and finding a way through that best meets both of our needs.
[34:55] I think it's ok to agree to disagree and to do so in an agreeable way. We can recognize our shared humanity and those shared underlying needs and move to a place of the greatest good over the long term.
[36:06] The Unfolding Now by Shambhala. What I like about it is that it's really a contemplative reader where do you work with the book. So at the end of each chapter there's a set of self integrated practices that you do such that your dropping that separate ego self and in different ways becoming the unfolding now in your own experience.
[37:10] Michael Singer, A course Living From a Place of Surrender.
[38:24] We've heard a lot about mindfulness and the next step is something that we could call co-mindfulness. So it's how we're going to actually bring our best quality of awareness and inner sensitivity to each other.
Thank you for joining us on HealthGig. We loved having you with us. We hope you'll tune in again next week. In the meantime, be sure to like and subscribe to this podcast, and follow us on healthgigpod.com.
“Everything's interconnected in this changing fluid field because we can't nail anything down. There's nothing solid -- it's just this interconnected web what happens in one place affects what happens far far away.” - Tami Simon
“It's always been part of my nature as a person to not hide and to just be who I am.” - Tami Simon
“The truth of who we are -- what we sense inside. What we know inside, in an unfiltered way, is the intelligence of the universe coming through us.” - Tami Simon
“It's important to recognize we're always connected. We are connected to obviously every other person that we come into contact with with, our biological families that brought us here and our ancestors. So the question is do we recognize it -- or do we experience ourselves as separate beings?” - Tami Simon
“That's really where our beliefs are put to the test. It's how we treat each other. In addition to whatever artifacts we create in terms of books and teaching materials it's that daily interaction of how we've impacted people that matters the most. It's the true litmus test.” - Tami Simon
“If we want to have a mindful relationship I think it begins by actually seeing that inner light and that innocence and that beauty and that preciousness in every single person we interact with.” - Tami Simon
“It's having a kind of deep humility that says they matter as much as I matter. This person's view and opinion matters as much as my own. I'm not so self-cherishing and so self-involved that I don't see that this other person has equal merit right here in this moment.” - Tami Simon
“Everybody wants to be heard.” - Tami Simon
“What does it mean to actually listen from a place of not having a position -- because you know often we listen, and we already have a position.” - Tami Simon
“In terms of humility I think just letting ourselves not always have all the answers. Have you ever been with somebody who seems to always have an answer for everyone and you know it actually shuts the space in the room down. It’s a lot more interesting to be on a path of discovery with other people.” - Tami Simon
“To be vulnerable is actually a supremely courageous act.” - Tami Simon
“I think it's one of the most important skills that we find a way -- that even in our darkest moments, in our most difficult moments -- we have a way of turning towards ourselves and being with ourselves and offering ourselves unconditional acceptance.” - Tami Simon
“We're going to practice co-mindfulness together and I think where we really start doing that -- we're going to see our organizations change. We're going to see social structures change. We're going to see deliberations between nations change. When we can all start actually saying we really value co-mindfulness.” - Tami Simon
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