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058 - Dan Mager

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

“Guilt was weaponized.” Dan Mager joins us from Vance Johnson Recovery Center. He talks about recovery, his various books including “Some Assembly Required: A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain,” breathing and mindfulness, and the messaging we use with ourselves. Enjoy.

The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates ( They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.

Transcript (no grammar):

guilt was weaponized dan major joins us from the vance johnson recovery center he talks about his recovery his various books including some assembly required a balanced approach to recovery from addiction and chronic pain breathing in mindfulness and the messaging we use with ourselves enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt knighter i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collections simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry-leading reporting improve your practice's cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates today dan major is joining us i'm super excited to have dan dan is the author of some assembly required a balanced approach to recovery from addiction and chronic pain he's also the author of roots to wins mindful parenting in recovery he writes for psychology today does a blog on psychology today and he has a master's degree in social work he has a lot of other specialties and things that he brings to the table and dan super excited for you to come on today and share with us thank you so much shelly i'm delighted to be here let's um let's maybe start out by maybe sharing with our listeners some of your background um how did you end up in the recovery industry and um and and these books these titles to your books are pretty profound like these are intense when you couple addiction with pain and trying to manage that for people who have chronic pain that's a serious that's a serious thing that's pretty challenging and and i think we're still learning a lot about how to do that so i'd love to kind of hear your history of how you ended up kind of where you're at right now well it's uh it's been a fascinating circuitous adventure shelley in that um you know the social sciences were always where my head and and heart were um and i learned how to meditate when i was 16. that was uh that was over 45 years ago um and that was a really fortuitous turn of fate when my mother strongly suggested it to uh an impressively rebellious oppositional teenager and you know knowing that it could be helpful for me and although my initial inclination was to say no absolutely not i figured let me give her or once something to not push back against and then when it didn't work i could say see i told you so but i wouldn't be blamed for having dismissed it out of hand so so i learned a particular form of medic meditation and actually gravitated to it in a way that's that surprised me and so i've been meditating if there were there were a handful of years where i didn't do it regularly but basically i've had a daily meditation practice for over 40 years now i'm going to jump around a little bit and so so my daily meditation practice and and interest in in the connection between the mind and the body and the mind and the heart led me to increasingly be interested in other mindfulness practices and mind mindfulness as a general way of shifting the activity of our central nervous systems to effectively deactivate the sympathetic division of our autonomic nervous system uh basic and shift away from the stress or threat response which happens with disturbing consistency uh among the vast majority of people were caught up in in various often low-level states of stress anxiety fear and and so forth often that we're not even conscious of uh and and mindfulness and meditation as as a primary mindfulness practice help us to literally change the activity in our nervous system activating the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system and engaging the uh the part of our body that's active during relaxation and and calming uh and that in and of itself is a significant mental and emotional as well as physical health intervention so so how does this relate to my interest in addiction and and moving into into that area in terms of professional endeavors well i mean basically even though i had been pretty successful in in school and you know in in sports in in high school graduated college with honors and and moved into what what was a very successful behavioral health career uh the bottom line is that i had been using substances all manner of substances although i had different phases and different preferences at at different times consistently since i was about 16. i started when i was 11 or 12 and used one thing or another often more than one thing almost every day from the time that i was 16 until 47 when i got to the point that i could no longer walk this tightrope of functionality um you know keep keeping my active addiction in check enough where i could you know maintain my job and career uh what had been a successful marriage relationships with two at that time teenage daughters and uh and it got it got to the point that that i fell off effectively fell off that that tightrope as everyone does inevitably when they when they use alcohol and and other mind and mood altering drugs for for for long for long enough the ability to uh to to balance oneself and live that live that double life always has an expiration date and i dragged mine out for as long as i possibly could until i had done enough damage to my my uh my marriage uh my uh my my career that i really had very few options but to consider can consider going into treatment myself spending some quality time on the other side of the desk and you know doing make doing what was required to pull my head out of the cozy but nonetheless comfortable confines of my of my butt and be willing to to take the incredibly uncomfortable but ultimately very healthy risk of um of changing my life dramatically and entering recovery and at this at this point i've i've been in recovery since uh the beginning of november 2006 so you know well over 14 years at at this point and so my professional work both both of the books in my psychology today blog as well as whatever whatever teaching and and trainings that i that i facilitate is very much informed by this combination of personal experience and you know professional education training and experience and and in terms of addiction and chronic pain as co-occurring disorders that's also an important part of my story because i was going along uh quite quite smoothly working a rigorous program at that time of alcohol and marijuana maintenance you know looking looking looking back on it retrospectively even though even though it didn't affect my career and didn't have many effects on other aspects of my life although obviously i couldn't be as emotionally available or as present centered as i as i would have been but this was a this was a smooth kind of gentle phase of my active addiction and then in 19 1998 i was diagnosed with chronic pain condition two herniated discs in my lumbar spine and i was offered prescriptions for very powerful opioids and this was this was shortly after prescribing practices had been changed dramatically such that people with you know who weren't coming out of surgery or had acute injuries where it was very short-term or had non-cancer pain were being prescribed all manner of of of opioids so in terms of the the opioid epidemic i was at the cutting edge of that um and even even though part of me knew that it was a terrible idea to to uh begin to take these medications another part of me figured well this is spectacular i get to use what has always ultimately been my particular substance of choice albeit in a different form and yet it's perfectly legal and completely medically sanctioned and i think i was able to take the medication as it was prescribed perhaps for two months and then and then and then it was uh running a race i was always behind in running out on a monthly basis uh self-detoxing effectively in a way that was increasingly horrific related to the withdrawals it was really my own form of of a torturous perverse menstrual cycle and it took eight years in order from for me to get to the place where again i had done enough harm to myself and those closest to me that uh that i needed to do something dramatically different and and i went to treatment in a place where at the time it was only one of three places in the united states that did treatment for co-occurring addiction and chronic pain and the medical director there is one of the foremost experts in the country if not the world dr mel pohl who's uh written widely and taught all over all over the world about uh about recovery from co-occurring addiction and chronic pain and so so that that became my initial model that i've since expanded and and built upon and i was able to do uh quite a bit of work we we did some mutual projects together dr paul and i and he was generous enough to write the forward for my first book some assembly required and gave the lovely endorsement for the second book roots and wings so so the writing that i do is really the sum total of all of these different experiences were as as we talked about in the preamble i real i have to believe that the universe has gifted me with these particular experiences including the desperation as we say in my 12-step program necessary to make the profound deeply difficult and uncomfortable changes that help me transition from active addiction into recovery in order to be able to be of service and teach teach what i know help to help others to understand this material and and apply it to the best of all of our abilities um wow quite quite the i mean i love i love your clinical background because it really helps to put some some more technical information in place to help people understand what's going on in the body in the brain so i love that background and that perspective i caught a few things as you were sharing your story and one of them is i've rarely heard anyone say hey when i was 16 my mom suggested i do um meditation i don't i don't hear that very often in the recovery industry so give me a little bit of background on your on your parents and maybe your family life when you were younger that would bring your mother to suggest that oh and and uh you know god bless my mother who who passed during the pandemic in april of not this past year but uh but by 2020 but both my parents were brilliant progressive individuals my father grew up incredibly poor during uh during the depression and became the epitome of a very successful self-made person and well well and the expectations were incredibly demanding and he was a very hard personality there was there was little physical abuse to uh to uh to speak of but there was a ton of verbal and emotional abuse that went along with that so i developed a wide range of defenses and self-protective mechanisms to go along to go along with that you know using claudia black's uh and sharon website are cruises uh paradigm related to family roles i even though i was the oldest of four kids born within six years i was absolutely the scapegoat and uh and played that role really well and you know it's it's one of the fortuitous uh aspects of my my life experience that i got to meet claudia black and worked closely with her for a period of several years uh in the uh 201 and teens and in fact uh she wrote a wonderful endorsement for roots and wings uh which is which is you know something that uh it's uh it's it's an exquisite blessing uh and so so getting back to to my experience you know i think my mother did the best the best she could and in part she was you know just trying to find a way to get me to be more okay and to help me somehow become less of an [ __ ] pardon my language because because even though again i you know it was i have this this long history of living kind of a double life and taking care of business really well in some areas while acting out in others and i you know i i did well in school i was a varsity athlete student council vice president uh but also also was a notorious pot dealer and and uh was act rebellious and oppositional in other ways and i think my mother was simply looking for potential solutions and uh and and so so came across this and thought well maybe this could be something that would be that would be helpful and as i mentioned i had an open enough mind or at least did want to provide an easy excuse i mean very very basically i've had i i always had an ambivalent relationship with with my with my parents and learning how to negotiate that has always been an incredible challenge i mean part of part of my experience is that i knew you know from from the time that i started my professional education i knew i wasn't a sociopath because i always felt extremely guilty when when i acted in ways that were that were inappropriate that created suffering for myself as well as as those around me and that's part of the deal with with my family too it was progressive jewish family and metropolitan new york and guilt was weaponized so you know one of one of the things i've learned really well and this has been reinforced in my 12-step program as well as in my professional education and experience is that you know the voices that our primary caregivers talk to us in and the messages that they give us the predominant prevalent messages become the voices in that we talk to ourselves in they become our internal voices and those messages become the messages that we tell ourselves and in fact my first my first sponsor uh put it in in these terms that the lies other people told us once about us once upon a time become the lies that we tell ourselves and uh that's that's so much so much speaks to the heart of the wounding that so many people experience those and those small t traumas and that you know one of the things that's become really apparent and and more and more research bears this out over the last 20 30 years is that whether or not people have experienced the so-called big t traumas you know us assaults physical or or sexual uh natural natural disasters acts of terrorism uh and you know and and and so forth almost everyone has experienced a variety of small t traumas in their formative in years their early childhood experience these small but significant tears in the fabric of connection where those that we that we are explicitly dependent upon physically and materially as well as emotionally simply aren't there for us emotionally if not if not also physically and those those tears in the fabric of connection uh acute accumulate over time and they they um have great meaning in how we view ourselves as worthwhile our sense of self sense of self-worth and and and self-esteem and uh and so so much of the healing that can benefit everyone and this is obviously significantly true of people uh who are struggling with active addiction or have have come or have come through that but it's true of the vast majority of of people it's simply part of being human especially in uh in in us and and western culture and mind mindfulness has has a really exquisite perspective on that experience so the natural normal automatic self-talk that's unconscious sends us the message i'm not good enough whereas mindfulness adds the exquisitely enhanced perspective that oh i notice that i'm having the thought that i'm not good enough it is a van you know a small difference in language perhaps but a vast difference in perspective and you know one one of the things we know is that when we change the way we look at things the things we look at change and that certainly includes how we view ourselves and coming coming to terms with who and how we are they're working working to progressively learn and grow and heal which is a lifelong process as far as i'm concerned and is really the definition of recovery in the in the big picture an ongoing process of learning growth and and healing but an essential aspect of that is coming to terms with learning to accept observe and be present with the parts of ourselves that we struggle with because everyone has them no matter how successful or immaculate they may look uh from from the from the outside everyone has their stuff everyone had you know struggles with certain stories that the continuous waterfall of thoughts and images that the human mind creates that drag them back into the past or propel them into the future taking them away from the present moment here and now which is where where recov you know recovery happens one day at a time it happens one moment at a time life happens in this moment right here right now and whenever we're somewhere else in the past or the future based on the seductive compelling stories our thoughts are are telling us we are unable to be skillful in this moment you know we're somewhere else with with other with other people and that's that's where so much of the mental emotional anguish and suffering comes in when we allow ourselves to get caught up in those stories because we we think them so we assume that they're true we we believe them and really they're just stories they're just they're just neurochemic neurochemically created past conditioned to a fair extent [ __ ] well dan you you talk about it like it's so easy right like like we just have to change our thoughts and we can change everything else but but the piece that's a little challenging i was talking to somebody the other day um and and they were you know they're starting a new relationship and they want to know if this is a good thing and and my suggestion was look you know you've talked about all of this trauma in the past and you've talked about relationship problems in the past and the idea that this person that you're engaging with doesn't like any of that stuff and they're you know dedicated to leaving that all behind the fact of the matter is it's within their system they've picked up on these cultural um dynamics right the mirror neurons in our bodies pick up on those that that when we get stressed and when we um are in situations we go into automatic pilot right our body and our mind shift in such a way that we're in automatic and we will repeat those patterns no matter how much we hated them no matter how much we're resolved to change them unless we can be aware of them and be mindful like you talked about and so it's linked in so many deep levels and the way the limbic brain and that protective brain or that you know survival part of our brain kicks in and links all of those pieces together like you talked about it's pretty complex and it takes an awful lot of effort but i i do absolutely agree with you that that meditation and mindfulness is the way to observe and recognize that these things you've done your whole life that seem normal because it's the only thing you knew actually are just like you said it's just a story in our mind it's just a reaction and we get to choose when we can slow it down enough to be aware it's going on exactly shelly and and and there's there's nothing easy about it it takes a tremendous amount of awareness as well as action to begin the process of changing these these well-worn patterns but uh one of the one of the beauties is uh is the existence of neuroplasticity where the more we practice being consciously aware when in the past we've been unconscious and in that form of automatic autopilot uh the more we practice conscious awareness and various forms of mindfulness the uh the more our neuroanatomy and chemistry changes through repetitive experience but it but it doesn't happen easily or quickly it had it's uh it happens over time certainly not overnight and it requires it requires you know the only way to get better at anything is to learn the techniques that work and to practice them with persistence and with when with consistency now knowing that that that the best we can do is be perfectly imperfect but uh but that's that's why this is effectively the work the work of a lifetime and you know so so much of these these patterns this past conditioning come from how we learn to you know there are our defense mechanisms or the ways the modes of self-protection that we learned that helped us maintain mental and emotional integrity and to survive whatever our experiences were but you know as as we know comes a time those those protective mechanisms no longer serve an adaptive purpose they know it's no longer about survival now they just now they just interfere with our ability to live life in a more direct and full way you know constraining our psychological flexibility and uh and limited limiting our our ability to tolerate this stress regulate our our emotions in ways that promote overall you know mental emotional and spiritual as well as physical well well-being um and you know some so much of a wonderful place to start for anyone who's interested you know is to simply become aware of what we're thinking because that that provides an instant separation of sorts from our thoughts instead of being the actor in the movie were were observing the movie um at a little bit of a distance and then we can make some conscious informed choices as to how we want to respond versus unconscious automatic reacting

but but another wonderful skill is simply to tune in to the quality of our breathing to become consciously aware of it and to slow and deepen our breathing just even taking three or four slow deep breaths on our inhale and breathe out fully and completely on our exhale because one of the things that happens in the body when we're caught up in various states of anxiety fear and stress is that uh part of the body's preparation for flight fight or freeze in which which is which is what's happening when we're in that stress or threat response mode our breathing becomes fast and shallow and that that helps us prepare to run away to fight to protect ourselves uh and and so we can counteract that process by becoming consciously aware of our breathing and intentionally shifting the quality of our of our breathing and just you know as an example of how challenging this stuff is i've been meditating daily for 40 years and i've been i've been practicing these other these other techniques these other skills for 15 or 20 years including intentional breathing and any given day there are multiple times during the day where where i catch myself oh um my thoughts are telling me some crazy stories which don't have anything to do with what's happening right here and right now let me bring my attention back back to the present oh what's my breathing like oh my you know i'm consistent with the stories uh i'm caught up in uh my breathing is is out of balance it's faster and shallower let me take a few moments and just focus on making it slower and deeper you know and earlier on in my practice i would be very self-critical impart consistent with the messages that i received once upon a time you know i'm not doing it right i should be better at this by now i should be more advanced more skillful and so forth but one of the things i've learned is that it's simply part of the process and it's part of the human condition uh and uh and and so so now now it's it's no big deal and so you know related to what i was talking about before such an essential part of the overall healing process and this has been reinforced in my personal recovery as well is learning self-acceptance when we can accept ourselves the good the bad and the ugly you know while making a good faith effort to improve in the ways that we can but accept ourselves even with all of our challenges all of our areas of difficulty our relative weaknesses that that is an essential part of the path of healing and death well i think it's vital what you share is that without that acceptance really i don't know that much healing happens because there's always that voice in the back of your head that says it may be true for everybody else but it's not for me and so that acceptance is a really big piece of of having self love i had somebody we were we were doing a podcast here not too long ago and somebody was talking about how their perception of a scripture um in the bible that said do unto others as you do unto yourself or you know be kind to your neighbor as like you would be kind to yourself that that scripture that became very different to them in the sense of it wasn't just to be kind to your neighbor and do good to others but it was you've got to do it to yourself too you've got to love yourself and be kind to yourself too so that came up for me i am i'm curious dan i've got this burning question that i suspect other people are wondering too is is that you've been doing meditation for 40 years and you started it at age 16 on some level and have been doing it you know found value in it but it wasn't enough to stop you from using from using and self-medicating but i imagine it had a played a role can you talk about what that looked like in your life as you practiced meditation and how it shifted as you became sober uh that's that's a great question shelley and in fact so my experience is an excellent example of how meditation won't won't uh get anyone clean clean uh indoor and or sober but once once i made the commitment to to find and keep recovery you know meditation is integrated into the 11th step of the 12-step programs we saw it through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with god with our higher power as we understand that um and and uh so so it was clear to me that my previous experience would be a wonderful resource that i could draw upon to enrich and deepen my the quality of of my recovery and and in fact in the you know one of the things that i've experienced is that a great many people and i've been i've i've been blessed to know and consider my friends hundreds of people in recovery from from every state in the us from different countries in the world many of whom have 20 25 30 35 40 and more years of recovery but because meditation you know has this mystique uh and it's it and and it's so different for so many people that even even many people with long-term recovery have had difficulty accessing it making it part of their of their recovery never mind their their daily practice so this was simply a a significant advantage that uh that that i was that i was gifted with um and and you know and it's and it's funny it's like you know there are many stories this is actually i think in the introduction of some assembly required but there are so many wonderful stories about people who overcame their act of addiction went on to become addiction counselors behavioral health professionals and so forth well like so much else in my life i did things very ass backwards and uh you know up until the tail end of my active addiction i had been a very successful behavioral health professional including working in addiction treatment and then then i found recovery would have been would have been simpler and more straightforward easier in some respects if i had gone the conventional route but uh that wasn't in the cards for me i'm just i'm just thinking about you as this very successful behavioral health practitioner who's in the throes of addiction teaching others to recover from addiction did that feel like a double bind for you a little bit absolutely you know when when i allowed myself to to consider it consciously and you know i i kept it at a distance uh an awful lot of the time uh you know intellectualization being my favorite defense mechanism personally deep down part of me absolutely felt like a hypocrite and that was you know that was always really always really challenging which was why i didn't allow it conscious even the thoughts conscious expression much much of the time but uh but you know my career wore the manifestations of significant degrees of success you know promotions and excellent performance evaluations including 360 degree performance evaluations and and partnerships with uh with many significant people in the in the community in terms of the health behavioral health and and and government uh uh governmental quarters of the communities where i lived in new york and tucson prior prior to this happening and now i've been in las vegas for for 12 years um but uh you know one of one of the beauties of recovery is that is that uh that's that's a struggle i no longer have and do not have to have to have to worry about it doesn't take up to space in my in my thinking or way on my on my uh on my consciousness or my conscience for that matter yeah which is heavy that's heavy um so i'm i'm wondering and this is an interesting you may may not have the answer to this this question but you're teaching addiction recovery principles and skills while and i can tell that there's a lot of um avoidance of your own you know your own situation while you're in that well you're using and in that space but you're teaching all these skills you're very familiar with them you've got a pretty good handle on them but in and of itself that wasn't enough to um recover from your own addiction and your own patterns i'm curious what was what was and you've probably talked about this a little bit but what made that shift for you what do you feel like changed well ultimately um ultimately uh i got in i got in trouble with the uh with the licensing board in the state of arizona where i was practicing at that at that time um and and to her credit my my ex-wife had been telling me for many years you're an addict and you need to do something about it and impart aided by my professional education experience and success i had exquisite lines of rationalization and intellectualization and you know one other one of the bottom lines shelly is that is that hero also you know related to neuroplasticity the neuronal connections related to using the need for reward and relief was so deeply ingrained in in my in my neural anatomy and as well as you know my my life experience that the idea of of not doing that the idea of not using on a daily basis even if it was you know always after work at that time was was really inconceivable to me and it was it was it was terrifying also and we know that that that the familiarity is always much more comfortable than the unknown and that's one of the dynamics that keeps people stuck in a place of that that that is often deeply unhealthy and sometimes quite literally dangerous it's it's one of the reasons why people stay mired in active addiction for as long as as they do it's what keeps people uh in in violent absolutely dangerous relationships when people are telling them you have to get out you're gonna get more seriously injured you're going to get killed and even even with the various facets of denial and minimization on some level deep down the the individual has some sense of that but but the uncertainty of the unknown is is more scary than the certainty of the horror that they know with everything that goes along with it and that's one of the reasons why it's so profoundly difficult to make uh significant life and lifestyle changes like like that well and i love the way you describe that and hopefully those questions did not come across as any kind of criticism but more lending to the power of addiction and just how profound and how influential it is and and you're right those reward centers and the bodies saying yeah now we're going to protect this at all cost because we need this and and we need this self medication and and and then the rationalizations that we you know i'm successful and it's not involved you know it's not it's not compromising my relationships and my work enough right and the pain is not enough but addiction is powerful and you're exactly right so i didn't ever want that to come across this criticism but just addiction is so powerful um i do i have another question for you dan that i'm curious about you said that you come from a jewish background um and and so i i don't know what kind of you know length or um what kind of practices that you had in your home on a religious basis but i'm curious how that has influenced you you know there's a lot of people that talk about little t traumas like you mentioned in some of those shaming controlling environments right that sometimes religion can can bring um but also does it play a role now and what does that look like now um you know that's that's a that's a good question shelley and uh no worries on your previous question uh by by the way um you know we were we were not deeply religious and that was an area that i rebelled against uh really is from the from the time that i became uh that that relig any sort of religious or observance was kind of foisted on me um and in fact i was uh you know so and we uh so we were more although you know we we were affiliated with the synagogue and and went on sundays when i when i was a kid um it was never something that was that was going to permeate very very much for from me and in fact uh as a result of acting out primarily being a class clown and and so forth and being oppositional i successfully was was uh booted from hebrew school when i was in sixth grade and so uh i was bar mitzvahed having memorized uh cassette tapes that were made for me of the hebrew portions so well that i could recall a significant parts of them five six six years later but uh but my bar mitzvah was also my retirement from any involvement in organized religion and you know i consider myself a deeply spiritual but not at all religious person and you know i identify with judaism culturally rather than rather than religiously in my in my first marriage and now in my second uh and with with with with our kids from my first marriage he always um my wives have been have been non-jewish so we've we've celebrated as an adult i've celebrated the the big jewish as well as the christian holidays you know we did we did christmas and hanukkah we did we we did we do passover and and easter fascinating you talked about this idea that spirituality has become a really big piece separate from religion which i like that distinction and i'm going to just note one of the chapters in your book that that's called if you meet buddha if you meet the buddha say hello um talk a little bit about maybe what's what that's what's behind that and then how spirituality has played a role for you well that was that was such a remarkable experience um you know as as uh as that uh as that passage details i recently uh graduated uh from my undergraduate work at the university of california in santa cruz and a friend and i were preparing for a backpacking trip in the desolation wilderness in lake tahoe and we stopped at a safeway in south lake tahoe to uh put together some supplies including you know in including uh an excellent value uh based uh cabernet more than more than one bottle to go with the steak that we were purchasing and our and our uh our uh dessert which was uh northern california since maya and so so uh um well what i get on i get online and you know even i have to tell you shelley even after 40 years of daily meditation my patience is still pretty limited as a personal attribute that will be a work in progress over the course of the rest of my life i'm certain so like like a lot of people waiting in line at the grocery store to check out is is no fun and we just want to get through it as as quickly as absolutely possible and the line next to me i look over and uh and there's this cashier and he's he's short he's he's impressively overweight he's bald he's got these really thick coke bottle type black corn rim glasses on and he is having the greatest time you know he's he engages everyone that that he's checking out in this in this wonderful warm sort of emotional bear hug of a of a greeting and he's got this incredible twinkle in in his eye and i was i was drawn to it kind of like a moth to a flame to to my amazement i got out of the line i was in and got on a longer line first time and only time i'd ever done that in my whole life because whatever this phenomenon was i wanted to experience it in a more direct and and a close way so uh so and this this person he was so he was so in tune with with the universe it seemed to me it was almost like he was floating a few inches above the ground even though obviously gravity was a significant influence on him given his uh given his physicality but i get up to him and and and i and he greets me in this you know same warm wonderful uh it's it's it's great to see you my my old friend sort of way that he greeted everyone else and and i looked at him and i just said you know it's it's great to see someone who really seems to know how to enjoy life and and he looked it looked at me low you know he leaned towards me lowered his voice a little bit and said uh and it doesn't cost anything extra and i was i was like holy [ __ ] i mean it was it was so brilliant and so wise and and and profound you know it was it was as if he really was some sort of incarnation of something resembling the buddha or this this highly evolved incredibly present centered being uh and uh and you know and as i wrote it was you know in in that moment uh it was kind of like i i knew everything i'd ever need to know and like like always happens i forgot it soon soon thereafter and and so i mean we can most most of us know a great deal we have a tremendous amount of information knowledge wisdom and and resources that we have access to internally and otherwise part of the human condition and part of the challenges related to active addiction but all forms of human challenge is that we forget what we know and we forget it easily and regularly and so part a big part of of being conscious and being skillful whatever our challenges may be is remembering what we know so that we can apply it when we need to in the unfolding moments of our lives and that's that's how we can become much more aware and much much more skillful dan i love that story um i love that story and isn't it interesting how we can shift and things can shift for us and just these simple moments and often it has to do with connection with another person super powerful um you know we could we could probably talk all day i would highly recommend that um that our listeners read some assembly required and roots to wins those books that you have written because i think there's a ton of wisdom in there we've only you know barely scratched anything there but i love i love what you bring to the table i love hearing your journey and i appreciate you sharing i'm wondering if um if people if people that are listening want to connect with you and talk more what's a good way for them to connect they can reach out to me uh via my website which is which is dan at mindful healing four the number which is the number four life dot com the mindful healing the number four life dot com excellent i suspect there's people that are gonna wanna pick your brain and and utilize some of your experience as well as your your knowledge and wisdom around those meditation and mindfulness and um and your journey so i love that you're willing to share that with us today and um i just appreciate your time thank you so much shelley oh the the other access point um for for listeners would be my psychology today blog which is also titled some assembly required and there's a there's a a mechanism through which uh people can reach out to me uh via via inquiries uh in connection with the blog and i love that you're right for for psychology today that's a pretty um well-known um platform um and says a lot about you so thanks for sharing that as well um this has been a pleasure and and i i have to say i love the name of your book some assembly required that that really brings true to me in so many ways when we're talking about healing and the human experience and um and our approach to that so i again just really appreciate your your comments today thank you so much shelly it's been a pleasure meeting with you and being with you and if at any point uh it would be helpful for us to continue this discussion by all means i would look forward to it that would be fantastic i would love

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