Joining us for this episode, which was recorded live on Facebook, is behavior coach, author, and podcast host Eric Zimmer. He is on an endless quest to understand how our minds work, and create the lives we want to live. Eric was homeless and struggling with drug addiction at the age of 24, and even facing jail time. In the years since, he found a way to overcome these obstacles and now helps others drop their resistance in order to be free from suffering.
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On this episode of the Live. Love. Engage. podcast:
- Why resistance causes more suffering
- How you can start to drop your resistance
- Why it pays to start small when it comes to making a change
- What is a spiritual habit, and how can you cultivate them
- What to expect when you join Eric’s Spiritual Habits program
Connect with Eric
- Join the Live. Love. Engage. Community
- Intuitive Business Coaching
- The Live. Love. Engage. Book
- Support the Podcast with BuyMeACoffee.com
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Gloria Rand 0:02
Welcome to live love, engage the podcast where we share practical advice from a spiritual perspective on how to create a life and business with more impact, influence and income. I’m your host, Gloria Grace Rand, the insightful copywriter and founder of the love method. My mission is to help you stop doubting yourself. So you can live fully love deeply and engage authentically
and namaste, and welcome to live, love engage. I am delighted to be coming to you live today for those of you who are listening on the rebroadcast and are watching on YouTube later. Yes, I’m actually doing this live on Facebook today. And I’ve got a wonderful guest waiting here who I’m going to bring in actually right now. And I’m going to welcome to live love, engage Eric Zimmer. And I should say welcome back,
Eric Zimmer 1:02
actually, yes, Hello, nice to see you again.
Gloria Rand 1:06
It is good to see you again, as well. We actually had Eric on the podcast last November. So if you want to check out live love engage the episode was called spiritual habits and behavior change. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that again today. But let me tell you, we’re going to go into some other stuff too. But let me tell you a little bit about Eric, he is a behavior coach, podcast host of the one you feed podcast, and author, and he’s been on an endless quest for greater understanding of how our minds work, and how we can learn to create the lives we want to live. And he’s no stranger to actually suffering and struggle, because when he was 24, he was homeless, dealing with drug addiction, and even been facing jail time. And he’s lived to tell the tale because he’s here today, he figured out a way to overcome these obstacles to create a life worth living. And now he helps others do the same. So we’re we’re gonna be talking today about resistance and suffering. And I thought you could start Eric by explaining a little bit about how how these subjects are related. And maybe, yeah, we’ll just go with that. How are they? How are these subjects related?
Eric Zimmer 2:28
Well, there’s a, quote, an equation that a, a meditation teacher shinzen young once used, which was that suffering equals pain times resistance. And I think this really speaks to that. And I’m going to go into that more in a second. But I think first, it’s worth talking about what I mean by resistance, because there are types of resistance that are absolutely noble and helpful. You know, there are resistances out in the world that I don’t know if we lost you. are you there. No, I’m
Gloria Rand 3:04
here. I’m here. I’m just having you out there, I’m showcasing you for a moment.
Eric Zimmer 3:10
All right. I mean, I’m not as familiar with this. So there’s, there are types of resistances that are really important, you know, resisting unfair policies resisting for social justice. So that’s not the kind of resistance that I’m talking about. I’m talking more about the subtle resistances in our lives, to the way that either things are or the way they might be. And so, so that that’s the kind of resistance so if we take that equation of suffering equals pain times resistance, and we think about it, let’s just take a take a pain in life, let’s just let’s use physical pain, it’s easiest to kind of understand in that scenario, let’s just say I’ve got a pain in my back. And let’s just give that pain of a factor of let’s just say it’s a four out of 10. So I’ve got the pain in my back. And now I’ve got my resistance. Well, what do I mean? What sort of resistances might I have? Well, there’s the very basic resistance, which is like, I don’t like this. I don’t want this. I don’t like it.
Gloria Rand 4:20
Eric Zimmer 4:20
Right. But then there’s all kinds of other sort of subtle resistances which are me telling myself what it means. Oh if my back hurts this bad at 50. What am I going to be like when I’m 70? And it’s not fair. Why is this happening to me and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to rock climb again and all this stuff. And let’s just say that that resistance is somewhere let’s just call it I’m resisting on on a scale of on a scale of 10 I’m resisting on a five. Right so I’ve got four points of suffering a little bit of pain, five points of resistance. 20 total points of suffering. If I can turn that suffering down. Um, excuse me, if I turn that resistance down just a little bit, if I can turn that resistance down from say a five to a three, a little bit more accepting it a little bit more going well, alright, you know I can, I can be with this a little bit less like when my brain starts to run away with what’s a little bit more like, Well, you know, I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future, let me focus on what I’m doing. Now, I can turn that resistance down, let’s just say I turn it from a five to a three, I just went from 20 total points of suffering to 12. And I didn’t touch the pain itself at all, right? So if we look across all the different situations in our lives, that we might be able to say, are painful as in, we don’t really want them or like them. Then if we’re resisting them, we’re just increasing our suffering. And again, this is if I could, if I can make my back pain better, then I should probably focus, you know, start there. But once I’m at a certain point where I’m like, well, this just kind of is what it is. Or, you know, I can’t change it, there’s nothing else to be done about it, or I’m not going to change it. There’s lots of things in our lives that we might be resisting, that we’re simply not going to change. Like, you might be resisting, taking your kids to school in the morning, but you’re not going to stop taking your kids to school. So that’s an that falls into the category of something that just is. So if it’s something that we’re just going to be doing, if we can turn the resistance down a little bit, we suffer a lot less so. So that’s the the fundamental relationship.
Gloria Rand 6:45
Yeah. And I was just thinking just reminded me, I’m a Star Trek fan. And I just remember the the old phrase, I think it was from next generation Resistance is futile. And this really, you know, it really illustrates it, because when we do yeah, or even the phrase, you know, what, what you resist persists, as well. So yeah, so how can we? How can we learn to I guess accept these things? And not and not do? You know, spend so much time in resistance, since it just really does ratchet up the pain?
Eric Zimmer 7:19
Yeah, well, I think the first is to get that clarity on, is it something I can change or not? I believe very strongly in that idea of the Serenity Prayer, right? You know, grant me the serenity to change the, you know, the courage to change the things I can courage to do, accept the things that I can’t change the wisdom to know the difference, right? So I think first is sort of looking at it and going, Okay, can I do something about this? Is there wise action to be taken here? And if there is, again, I’m a big fan in taking the wise action, you know, I don’t just go well, my back hurts. Nothing I can do about it. Right? I do stretches, I do physical therapy, like I try and take care of it. So I think that’s the first place is to sort of tweeze that out. Is there something I can do about this? Or again, is there something I’m going to do about this again, like the the taking the kids to school is a classical and lots of people get, it’s just a source of frustration, right? But you’re not gonna not do it. So if you recognize that it is something that’s just going to be you know, that acceptance is the right route, then we then we sort of move into that. And I think by taking that first step, we sort of go Oh, yeah, all right. Nothing I can do about this. It’s really interesting. If you look at it at, at people in the way we behave, when we know there’s nothing we can do about something, we very often once we get that wisdom, we shift into making the best of it. But we get really stuck in that in between place like because we think there is something maybe we can do about it. So I think the first step is just to get that clarity. There’s two types of, there’s a psychological idea of there’s problem based coping, and emotion based coping. problem based coping means you focus on the problem, and you try and solve it. So this is sort of the courage to change the things I can aspect of it. And then the other is emotional based coping, which is I focus on my response or on my emotions to it. I think we really need both of those tools in our toolkit. But assuming we’re we’ve gone through the problem based coping, we’ve gone all right, there’s nothing I’m going to do about this. Then we start to move in to resistance and I think the first is to look at what are all the ways we are resisting it. A lot of times there’s a lot of spinning around in our head of like I said, it may not look like resistance At first, but if I’m noticing what’s happening around my back pain, there’s the I don’t want this, I don’t like it, Oh, I wish this would go away. Or there’s the extreme language I might be using my back is killing me. There’s the stories I’m telling so so we start to recognize all that that’s happening. And and then we try our best to sort of skillfully disengage from it is, and so this is much easier to say than do.
Gloria Rand 10:30
Yeah, I was gonna say,
Eric Zimmer 10:33
maybe like, what just drop the resistance, you know, there’s a, there’s a Sue monk Kidd quote, and I won’t get it right. But she said, I think we’ve made a mistake, by thinking that, you know, letting go is just something you just do all at once, you know, and she says it’s more of a winding process, right? It goes on and it spirals. And we do a little bit more of it, and a little bit more of it. But the more we get clear, oh, I’m in resistance. Another thing that I do, which I think is really helpful. And the spiritual teacher, Adi Shanti, said this to me, once, he said, my teacher used to say me all the time, less of this, more of this, the open hand, right? You know, closed fist versus open hand. And I really like that. And you could actually do this right now you can squeeze your fist tight for a second. And you feel what that’s like. And then let go. That’s what you’re trying to do inside, in your heart in your mind and your spirit. So for me doing that, sort of that, I feel that and I go, oh, okay, let me try that inside, let me just try to open up, let me try to increase the space. So those are a couple couple ways of, of starting to wade into these waters.
Gloria Rand 11:57
And I would think one thing that I know has helped me too, is sometimes just doing something as simple as taking a big breath, and just kind of like, sort of, you know, break whatever is going on a little bit and be able to reassess and say, Okay, how do I want to be in this moment? And is, is that something that? I mean, you know, breathing, I guess is good, but but is it helpful to really focus in on what’s going on right now, as opposed to, you know, a lot of times we spend times worrying, worrying about, you know, okay, is this back pain ever going to go away? As opposed to spending time just focusing in on the now when, what’s your opinion?
Eric Zimmer 12:44
Well, again, I think it gets back to that idea of, am I, Is there something I can do about this? So, you know, I think that we sometimes in in spiritual circles, we get the idea, we’re told that thinking is bad, you know, we should always be in the moment, we should, you know, thinking is, and and I don’t think that’s true. I mean, I think it’s thinking is one of the best things that we as humans can do, right? I mean, if we, if it’s our only thing that we do, it becomes problematic. And so I think it’s really helpful to ask ourselves, you know, as we as we’ve got, what we would consider a problem or a pain, is we ask ourselves, as we’re thinking about it, is this thinking useful? Is it helpful? Sometimes it really is. Sometimes, it might be like, well, I’m thinking about my back pain. And I’m like, Well, you know, you haven’t been doing your stretching exercises lately. Maybe you could do them. And let’s think about when tomorrow we could put it in the calendar. That’s useful, right? That’s, that’s going to be helpful. Going, when I’m 70, I’m not going to be able to move is not useful. Right. Right. So so I don’t think the answer is always come back to the moment, but it’s a good place to come to when you’re not sure where else to be, you know, it’s a good resting place. And what we’ve, what they’ve found from doing lots of studies on things like mindfulness with chronic pain, is that it actually does help that conversely very often, coming back to the moment and paying actual attention to the pain itself, the sensations actually works and helps lessen the overall impression of pain. I you know, I mentioned before extreme language, you know, I will I will find myself saying, My back is killing me. And then I’ll stop and I’ll be like, well, hang on. Well I’ll actually check and I’ll go like, Well, let me let me just pause for a second. Like you said, Let me take a breath. Let me feel into my back. And I’ll be like, well, yeah, there’s some sensations. Down there that I don’t love, but it’s not that bad. I can be with these. Let me explore them just as sensations. Now the thing about that idea is that and I say this in spiritual habits a lot, is it’s really helpful to practice on things that are not the worst thing in your life. So when I say drop the resistance, everybody immediately goes, so I should drop the resistance to and they just named the worst thing.
Gloria Rand 15:29
Eric Zimmer 15:31
Same thing with pain, you don’t you I’m not saying that. Like, if you just broke a bone, you’re gonna tune mindfully into it, and everything’s gonna be fine. I came across a great example of this several weeks ago at the rock climbing gym. And I sort of tore my hand on a on a climb, I tore off a little bit of skin. So I went in the bathroom, and I’m washing it and I’m putting soap on and it’s stinging it a little bit. And I’m just noticing it. I’m like, Oh, yeah, it’s just sensations, you know, I can work with them mindfully I can accept them. I’m feeling kind of good about myself. I’m like, I’m looking at mindfully I’m working with the pain and really be progressing. And on my way out unthinkingly, I just grabbed a thing a hand sanitizer and squeeze it on my hand and all this
Gloria Rand 16:17
Eric Zimmer 16:18
the only thing in my mind is make it stop Make it stop make it stop right. So that’s an example of where like, practicing with lesser pain actually works if I wasn’t skilled enough to deal with that level of pain, so So wherever you are, and whatever you’re trying to resist, I wouldn’t start by going to your hardest, your biggest demon I’d start with things that are a little bit easier. And as we begin to develop the skill of resisting less of coming back to the moment of checking in mindfully with what’s happened you know, as we start to build some tool sets around that we can we can take on more and more difficult things. Yeah,
Gloria Rand 16:59
absolutely. And I can what’s wrong way there? I mean, it’s like any other thing that you do you know, you know, thing issues that you have that like habits that you want to change and sometimes because they are perhaps causing you some difficulties and things and and so you you want to be able to change them but it’s sometimes you can you know, do things cold turkey and and, and do it I mean, my mother actually quit smoking that way. She just decided one time that it was like that was enough. Of course, she was motivated in the fact that she wanted to pay for my dance lessons. And so she did have a good reason. But she decided okay, that’s it, I’m gonna stop and she did. But I know it’s not that easy for a lot of a lot of different things. I mean, myself, I’ve dealt with weight issues my whole life and and, and I’m still working through that. So sort of went the other way this year, and put on some excess pounds that I’m not happy about, but I’m working now and getting them off. And, and it’s and it’s it is it’s when you do resist, when you’re like, it just makes it it’s like you find ways to maybe go around it but you’re not facing it. Does that make sense? It’s like It’s like you’re sort of avoiding it, instead of trying to deal with what what you’re doing. So I do like how you suggested going, you know, starting with small things to be able to build that. I mean, even when you’re doing like starting a new exercise routine, they always say, you know, start small, and to be able to start gradually doing that, um, you talk you talk about like spiritual habits. I know, I know, you’ve got a new program that’s coming out. But can you explain a little bit about what do you mean by spiritual habits versus you know, other habits that we have.
Eric Zimmer 19:00
So spiritual habits is a is a program I created and the problem I was trying to solve is that many of us get lots of spiritual information. It’s it’s basically endlessly available to us now. We read the books, we read the blogs, we watch the videos, we all the different things, right? But information is not the same thing as transformation. And so what I what I realized was how do we actually take these ideas that we believe in and live them more? So you may experience you read a book or you hear something like this? And you’re like, Oh, yeah, I see a new possibility. I could not resist. Okay, there’s, there’s something in us opens up, we like it, but then we just forget. And so I see forgetting is the biggest problem. So um, what I did was I took some basic spiritual principles that everybody would agree with, like, yep, that’s a good idea like, you know, acceptance. And I then looked at my other my other passion besides spiritual principles and spiritual life is behavior change what we know about how behaviors change, and I sort of combined the two together. So a spiritual habit is a way of taking spiritual ideas. That means something to us that we believe in that we value and using principles of behavior change, to tie them into actual habits that we can do more and more often in our lives, so that we’re actually changed and transformed by these ideas, instead of them being something we believe in or read about.
Gloria Rand 20:49
Hmm. And, and then doing this, I would assume, I think it helps you then in this process of being able to drop the resistance, you know, that we’ve been talking about, and being able to, to free yourself from suffering, once you start applying these habits in your life, would you say does that, Does that seem reasonable?
Eric Zimmer 21:09
Yeah, it’s, it’s a matter of Yes. Practicing, it’s a matter of remembering often enough, I’m trying to drop the resistance, because again, you’re not always going to be able to do it. Right. And you may do it. And like I said, Before, when I was given that, that math example, and I said your resistance is at a five, I wasn’t like, let’s drop it to zero, where you have none. I’m like, What if we turn it from a five to a three?
Gloria Rand 21:34
Eric Zimmer 21:34
So but in order to do that, you have to remember, you have to go Oh, yes, that I’m resisting. that’s causing me to suffer, I want you to resist less, okay, here are you know here are, you know, when I do that, I find myself and what I do is I’ll do the squeezing in my hand and letting go remember, that’s one, one potential thing, you know, I might have a phrase that I use, you know, what I resist persists. I mean, there are there are different. But but we need to remember to do it. The other key idea of spiritual principles of spiritual habits is that little by little a little becomes a lot. So if you’re interested in spiritual transformation, we see one model, which is people go off, and they go to a monastery, and they become a monk. Or maybe they do week long month long retreats, they get away from it all. And they, and they do that, and they deepen their spiritual practice. That’s one approach one model. But most of us that’s not the approach or model that we’re going to do, we’re not going to join a monastery and become a monk, maybe we get away for a week, a year, at most, maybe a month for like, really dedicated people. So we don’t have that kind of time. So what we do have, though, is lots of little moments. So what we need, the way that this works is that little by little a little becomes a lot, we do these things a little bit, little bit, little bit, little bit, and it adds up over time. And slowly, we start to transform and change. And as we do that, more and more moments of that, we start to change. And as we change our perspectives change our views change the way we see the world changes. And, and this all feeds on itself, but it’s done by lots of little moments. So so with resistance, it’s, you know, there’s not one moment where you just suddenly drop all resistance, although that actually is possible. And I’ve had some times where that has happened. And the results have been deep mystical experiences and oneness. And so occasionally that does happen. But it tends to happen in times, you know, for me when I’ve been away, and you know, it doesn’t happen all at once, but little bit by little bit. I drop a little bit of resistance, a little bit of resistance, a little bit of resistance, and I go, Oh, boy, I’m suffering less. I feel better. So I don’t know if that answered your question.
Gloria Rand 24:08
Yeah, I think so. I think so. So, um, you mentioned you’ve got a spiritual habits program. So what does that look like? For someone if someone was interested, and they want to, they want to find out more about that. Can you share a little bit about what that is?
Eric Zimmer 24:25
Sure. I mean the spiritual habits program. You can it’s it’s offered two ways. One is one on one with me, working very closely together over a 15 week period. And then there’s the group program and the group program is where it’s part you’re part of a group. Last time The group was about 100 people, which does not sound you’re like, well, what good is a group of 100 people. So the way it works is we meet on Sundays as a large group and I basically give the basic lesson as well as what some of the practices are. And those lessons are spiritual principles, but there’s also a lot of teaching and learning about behavior change. So the two of those go together, I give the lesson I give the practices. And then what we do is we divide that big group into smaller groups of about five people. And those five people meet on Wednesday evenings together. And they work to talk amongst themselves about how the program is going. We all those groups are facilitated. So we have a bunch of spiritual habits facilitators that we’ve trained to facilitate those groups. And people get to work with each other about this. And the great thing about it is a lot of those groups continue to meet Well, after the program is done, we’ve got a couple of them, they’re like two years running now, a group of people just last weekend, all met in person for the first time, their group that’s been meeting together, they’ve become really good friends, they just had a weekend at the beach with all of them last week. I love that because with the audience that we have, the question I’ve had, all I’ve had very often is how can we get this, these these folks to support each other, because not everybody can afford to do one on one coaching with me. But when we, when we use the group program, people can get that, you know, intimacy of working with other people of sharing. You know, so much of my life has been transformed by groups, whether it was the 12 step programs that I was part of whether it was men’s therapy groups I’ve been part of I mean, groups have been incredibly powerful to me. And so that’s the, that’s the other aspect of the program. So we meet for eight weeks on Sundays, the small groups meet for eight weeks on Wednesdays. And then during the week, we tend to send out like a daily message every day via text to sort of encourage people to practice and support. And all the videos are recorded, and people can watch all the videos back, they have kind of lifetime access to them. So that’s the basics of how it works.
Gloria Rand 27:08
Well, it sounds awesome. And I would encourage anyone if they’re interested in it to reach out to you and actually how would that work? How what’s the best way for them to find out about it,
Eric Zimmer 27:20
just go to spiritual habits. dotnet Okay, or you can go to our website one you feed dotnet and there’s there’s links there to it, but spiritual habits dotnet takes you right to the page where you can learn all about it. And I think we’re open for enrollment, we do it twice a year. This fall program is open for enrollment until October 12.
Gloria Rand 27:41
Awesome. Well, I appreciate you being here today to share with us some of your wisdom again, and hopefully some folks out there have benefited and learned about you know the habit of small habits that can…
Eric Zimmer 27:59
little by little that applies to anything you’re trying to do. You know, if it’s, you know, if you’re trying to get more movement in your life just move more often as often as you can, you know, doesn’t have to be all one big thing.
Gloria Rand 28:12
Absolutely. All right. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. I really appreciate you and make sure that you’re listening check out spiritual habits dotnet as well as one you feed dot net, which is Eric’s podcast, which is awesome. And and then we’ll hopefully Who knows, maybe we’ll have you on again. But it was a pleasure. pleasure having you back on the show. And I really appreciate it.
Eric Zimmer 28:36
I really appreciate you having me back on also. Thank you.
Gloria Rand 28:39
All right. And I appreciate everyone watching live today and I know we had a couple of comments on Facebook and all of you who are subscribers of the podcast and watching and on YouTube, I appreciate you as well. And, as always I in closing encourage you to go out and live fully love deeply and engage authentically.