Ep 18 – Buddhist Boot Camp’s Timber Hawkeye

Ep 18 – Buddhist Boot Camp’s Timber Hawkeye
Live Fit Podcast

 
 
00:00 / 1:02:44
 
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Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye | Live FitIn this episode of the Live Fit Podcast, I interview author Timber Hawkeye of the book Buddhist Boot Camp. This book has been printed in several languages and is available in many forms (even audio). He has spoken at a TED talk, has a huge Facebook following and has a great website with many resources.

Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye

Timber Hawkeye, author of Buddhist Boot Camp, offers a non-sectarian approach to being at peace with the world, both within and around us. His intention is to awaken, enlighten, enrich and inspire.

I found Timber to be a fascinating and compelling guy to talk to. This interview went longer than most and could have gone much longer.

Timber has a unique outlook on life and the nature of things, including people’s behavior and thoughts. Unique in that I have not met many people like him. His perspective is similar to other  Buddhists I’ve talked to, but unfortunately this attitude is not a prevalent as some others.

His over-arching attitude is gratitude and acceptance. His book is an cumulation of letters he sent to friends over years while he was learning psychology and religion and about himself.

Timber has a rich and varied history of being a chubby, pasty teenager, then swinging to the other extreme and being a stripper with the stereotypical muscular body, to working in a cubicle office building, then selling all his possessions, moving to Hawaii and finding himself. But, it wasn’t till he lived in a monastery for several years that he really found himself and his purpose in life.

Timber shares much insight in this interview but one that stuck with me the most is that “happiness is not “out there” it is within each of us”; we are what we take in, that goes for food and the media, your past does not have to equal the future, you can write your own story; and you can be happy, slim, fit and smart – if you choose to be. On this subject, he quoted Carlos Castanada “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”

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He also explained the difference between feelings and emotions and how the easiest route to a destination is not always the best. In fact, it is often the longest and hardest. Think of the perils of quick weight loss. He also stressed the power of belief, such as if you believe you will never lose weight, you are right.

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Glenn: I have on the line with me today Timber Hawkeye. He is the author of the book called ‘Buddhist Boot Camp.’ He also has a website. He’s been on TEDX. He’s a quite eloquent speaker after having watched his talk on TEDX. And I would like to speak to him today about how his philosophy and Buddhism can work into a person’s overall general health and fitness. Timber, how are you?

Timber: I’m fantastic. How are you?

Glenn: I’m doing great; it’s a beautiful sunny day up here in Portland. You’re down in Southern Cal?

Timber: I am.

Glenn: It’s probably the same down there, right?

Timber: Yes.

Glenn: So, I would like to start off by giving a little background or having you give us a little background of yourself, and then sort off work into what you’re doing now and how you got there.

Timber: In a nutshell, the shortest version I could encapsulate the journey into, I was working in a corporate world. And I witnessed one of the other paralegals at the law firm celebrating her 30 year anniversary. And the fact that she was celebrating 30 years in the cubicle terrified me. And, I realized that if I don’t get out of that world right away that I would, that would be me.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: So, I sold everything I ever owned and moved to Hawaii without any place to Live, land up without a job, land up without any money saved up but no debt, just I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew what I didn’t wanna do.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: And that included working under fluorescent lights and just ending up, just you know existing instead of living. So, when I did this, my friends ask that I keep in touch with them. And I started sending them monthly emails to let them know what’s going on with me. and I got a job working only 15 hours a week and that afforded me a lot of time to focus on what I really wanted to focus on, which was studying both religion and psychology, simultaneously ‘coz I was more interested not just so much on what people believe but why they believe what they do, what gets us to accept certain truths, reject others, what motivates us. And it’s been a very interesting journey to understanding why people do what they do.

So I started sending them these emails that the more I studied, the deeper in meaning they became. And after about 8 years, my friends convinced me to take these emails and make them available publically on a blog. And that blog eventually, turned into the book that we have today. It is just a collection of those emails, journal entries from throughout my life. And that’s why every chapters only about a page long ‘cause it was just an email and they’re not written

Glenn: Right.

Timber: So that’s kind of brought me to where I am. I was born and raised in Israel. And I moved to the U.S in high school, not speaking a word of English and never having been exposed to all these different cultures and religions. So, luckily instead of getting judgemental, I got very curious. I wanted to know why and how come about everything. And, I’m still quite curious. I ask a lot of questions. I think that’s what I do more than anything else. I wanna understand so much of why we are the way we are. And, it’s quiet fascinating what you find out or what you think you know.

Glenn: Yeah for us, as puzzling as the body is the mind is a thousand fold more confusing and complicated; just when you think you have somebody figured out, they do something that they can’t explain and…

Timber: Yeah.

Glenn: I have young children. And they’ll do something that was just ludicrous. And I’ll ask them why. “I don’t know.”

Timber: Yeah, absolutely. And there’s not that big of a gap. And there is a certain connection between the body and the mind. And, you know especially in your field, I’m sure you would love to unravel some of these disconnects you know when the mind says one thing but our behaviour says another, and how do we bridge that gap between our beliefs and our actual behaviour in the world.

Glenn: Exactly, that’s a great topic, I studied psychology in college. And I only minored in it so I was dabbling in the thought of going into it as a profession. But, it really, really opened my eyes on people’s behaviour, my own and my family and my friends. And not that I’m anywhere near an expert on it but it certainly enlightened me a lot and it has helped with my clients.

Timber: Absolutely. Yeah, especially I mean so you’ve dabbled into cognitive dissonance.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: And understanding it how we justify behaviours.

Glenn: Yeah. Yeah.

Timber: Yeah. So, it’s definitely worthwhile to study it, absolutely.

Glenn: And I’m constantly working with the students and clients who are attempting to quit smoking. And you know I say, “Well, you know it’s not good for you, right?” And they said, “Yes, I know that.” And I say, “When you started, you know it wasn’t good for you, right?” And they said, “Yes, I knew that.” And I say, “So, why did you start?” And they’re answer is generally some version of I don’t know.

Timber: Interesting.

Glenn: Some version, sometimes to be cool or because my friends were but essentially, they don’t know.

Timber: Yeah, and I find that more contusive is not necessarily to ask them why did you start but why you’re still doing it because that’s where the dissonance gets in. That’s where a new thought is introduced to justify a behaviour that we otherwise know isn’t good for us and ‘coz the mind can’t rest with two opposing thoughts. We have to give it something to rest with. And so we say things like “Oh well, it’s not cocaine” or you know “I don’t eat as much when I smoke.” And obesity is a problem. So really this is just the better of two evils or whatever reason we give ourselves has to be introduced or our mind would be stock with two opposing thoughts: smoking is bad for you, and I smoke 2 packs a day. And so, a new thought is introduced. And that’s why they started why they did things 5, 10 years ago. Yes, one method of therapy is definitely to go back and unravel the reasons. And another method is you know “Forget the past. Let’s focus on today.” What can we change today? And that’s definitely my approach. I think that’s kind of the boot camp in the… And the boot camp is you know, “Start now. Start what you’ve done in the past and the things that have happened in your past,” and they do not have to define who you are today. You get to do that right now. And that’s very empowering.

Glenn: I love that. That’s a really good point and that could certainly be used with smokers or drinkers. And in my line of work, it can be used with eaters and non-exercisers.

Timber: Absolutely. Yeah.

Glenn: I heard that before where somebody will say “Well, I’ve never been an exerciser”. Well, okay, so let’s do something about that.

Timber: Yeah, we’re not what we have done. We are who we choose to become. And that’s such to me an invitation. Moment by moment, we can change that. People say “Oh well, I can’t helping angry. I’ve always been angry or everyone in my family is angry.” It’s like you can break that cycle. That’s not a valid excuse so to speak. It may be why you’ve accepted it as part of yourself because doing so maybe easier than working with it. But it does not explain why you are the way you are today. Yeah, I don’t buy that.

Glenn: That’s great. Those are words of wisdom. And that’s why I wanted you on here. I knew you’d be able to just kind of cut to the chase and tell us the obvious, because, yeah, we can really become who we want to become and we can change. You know someone’s been overweight their entire life and they’re 30, 35, 40, well, so what? What’s the rest of your life gonna look like?

Timber: Absolutely, and that’s really the invitation is to, you know yes like you said “We can become whatever we want to become” but a lot of us are very unclear about what that is. We, quiet often, want to emulate somebody else. We want to look like somebody else. But the goal, the intention is so far in this, away from us that it seems so unattainable which stops us from even taking the first step. So, my invitation is always to instead of trying to be like somebody else, take out a piece of paper and a pen. Write out a paragraph the kind of person that you want to be, not your beliefs, not you know to the tee of what you want in a way necessarily but what kind of person do you want to be. Write it out, what are your values, and then cross referenced that with your behaviour and see “is my behaviour in lined with my values? Am I actually on that journey to being this most incredible version of me that I can imagine?” and that’s a great invitation because no one else is telling you what you should or should not to. You’re inviting yourself to step up. Nobody likes to being told what to do.

Glenn: No.

Timber: Which I’m sure makes your life really hard because they hire you to tell them what to do because the voices in their own heads tell them to do something else. So, they need that counter but….

Glenn: Well, it is really interesting because they hire me to tell them what to do because they even tell me, tell me what to eat, tell me what to do and I’ll do it.

Timber: Yeah.

Glenn: But at the same time, they don’t like being told what to do but they would rather somebody else tell them what to do than themselves if that makes sense. It’s like I said it’s all very convoluted and complicated. And one person’s one way and another person’s another way. I’ve one client who likes me to almost put her down, not quiet insult, but say, “I don’t think you can do that.” And then, she’ll step it up. If I give her praise, then she just sobs.

Timber: Yeah, and that’s the beauty of your job is you get to dock and dive around these different personalities because there is no one regiment that’s gonna work for all of them. You know so you find out. You know people always ask me about meditation, what’s the best way and I’m like it’s the way that works for you, you know like I can’t tell you what’s gonna work. It’s like learning you know. As I mentioned to you earlier, I learn visually. So you know for some person to sit there and look up a black board all day. It works just fine. They can read a textbook and walked away all the wiser. I’m an experiential learner. I’m visual. I need to see it, feel it and experienced it before it can actually sink in. So we have to you know change at the way which we deliver the message. And that’s why I’m so grateful that there are so many messengers out there. The message is quiet often always the same. It’s the delivery of that message that changes. And I’m under no impression that you know my book for example says anything new. It doesn’t you know spoiler alert, there’s nothing in there you don’t already know. It’s just delivered in a different way that resonated with me, for example. And I didn’t use any difficult terminology. All the chapters are only a page long. Everything is just straight – like you said in the beginning of the interview – straight to the point.

Glenn: Just sort of a brain flow. You just had a thought on your mind and you just sort of a let it come out. And that was it. Is that how it happened?

Timber: It was…

Glenn: Mind dump, if you would.

Timber: How did it happen? It was I think every chapter started out as you know 10 to 15 pages long. No one’s ever gonna read an email that long.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: And I know that it was that long because as I was writing it kind of came to life and it made sense. But the journey to the epiphany, for example, does not need to be spelled out but the conclusion needs to be applicable to as many as possible. So the details don’t need to be there. If a story is too detailed, a lot of people won’t be able to relate to it because then it would just be classified as “oh, this is true for you because of your experience.” but if you just take the lesson that was learned or applicable and leave out the details, people can apply it to so many different situations. And again, like with what you do you know the intention is to be on a journey and get started even from today on a weight lose program or a muscle toning program or just strength and endurance, whatever the…. And being on that journey is the most difficult part. It’s like losing weight is easy – maintaining the weight off is the hard part so that as you know….

Glenn: Yeah. You know that’s something I don’t share with everybody right away, because everybody thinks losing weight is the most difficult thing when in fact maintenance is much more difficult.

Timber: Absolutely!

Glenn: But you’re also able to handle it better if you’ve lost weight the right way

Timber: Yeah, which is why I think you know… and this applies to everything else. If you to go about anything gradually and you actually start witnessing and experiencing the benefits from whatever the exercise, the meditation, the letting go of the negativity in your life, whatever it is, if you regularly check in with yourself and say, ”Well, how am I feeling today?” And you say ‘Well, I’m feeling much better than I did yesterday’ then, even after you’ve lost the weight, you don’t even have that urge to go back to the way you work because you feel so much better.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: But you have to be able to raise that level of mindfulness and awareness that the hard work that goes into it is so worthwhile.

Glenn: And how do you raise that level of mindfulness, awareness, body awareness in connection?

Timber: Oh man, I focus a lot on gratitude. I think by giving our self credit for how far we’ve already come for where we are is a really important to not look so much on how much farther we have to go, you know and is give our self credit for how far we’ve come, and be grateful for what we do have or what we are able to do. A lot of people, for example, wants to lose weight but perhaps have had a back injury that makes it that much more difficult for them to be able to do that.

Glenn: Uhum.

Timber: And someone else may not. And so, “okay then I’m grateful to have the opportunity, I’m grateful to have this great personal trainer. I’m grateful to have you know functioning lungs and a beating heart and for waking up this morning and for a support group and for a health food store down the street.” And the more you feel so rich because you are listing all the things in your life, the alternative is this you know thinking about everything you don’t have and how much longer you still have to go. It’s your entire approach to life is so different if you approach it from a place of gratitude. You feel empowered. You feel strong. You feel ready to face whatever comes.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: You know how it is if you just list all the things that are missing from your life and how many more pounds you still have to lose instead of many you’ve already lost. It’s that ever transparent dangling carrot in front of us that we’ll never get to. Especially here in the U.S, you know we are entitled the ‘Pursuit of happiness.’

Glenn: Not entitled to everything.

Timber: Yeah, but not happiness, mind you. It’s in our language. We’re not entitle the happiness just the pursuit they’re out. And that’s so discouraging

Glenn: I have never thought of it that way, but you’re right; we are entitled to the pursuit but we never seem to achieve it. Some do, of course, and they seem to have this magic key. And I really wanted to ask you why people tend to focus on the negative more than the positive. I mean not to say that you have all the answers to everything but, yeah, gratitude is great. I’m totally with you. I’m on board with you. I understand it. I’ve used it. But I’ve also been victim to being trap to focusing on the negative and not seeing the positive things around. So how can you, me, and the other people find the gratitude and the positive in their life? And keep it. I mean it’s easy for me to sit down right now and you know having a good conversation with you and looking out my window and it’s beautiful and sunny out. But, what about tomorrow and next month then etc.

Timber: Especially in Portland.

Glenn: Yeah, It’s gonna be great eventually.

Timber: And that’s a really interesting thing, the idea that the negativity is inevitable. I just don’t see it that way. I don’t know if I just have a different vocabulary with which I define my life, but you know gray is not bad, overweight is not bad, eating ice cream is not bad. I don’t label these scenarios.

Glenn: Unless it’s perceived as bad.

Timber: Exactly! And so you know it has a lot to do with the people we keep around us. It has a lot to do with the internal dialog in our head as you know we look at a situation and we judge it. Good, bad, right, wrong. And so just saying it is what it is you know. And the question I ask almost everybody regardless of what it is they’re being challenged with or whatever it is that their practices are is you know how is that working out for you. And that’s you know it stops you in your tracks because someone says “Well, I do this and I do that and I protested against this and I’m angry about this. And I hate my boss. And I hate this and I hate traffic. And I hate commuting. And I don’t like the weather. And I just go after each one; I ask “Well, how’s that working out for you?”

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: You know and they said they’re not. I’m like, “Then stop doing it.” And it is that simple that you know. My dad told me a joke growing up. He said a guy goes to the doctor and says “Doc, every time I drink tea, my eye hurts. Every time I drink tea, my eye hurts.” and it is because he left the tea spoon and the tea cup and he poke himself in the eye every time he took a sip. And that, I just always go back to that. Most of our sufferings are self-inflected. And we tend to want to put the blame on somebody else. We look for something else that caused us to lose our temper, to gain weight, to be upset, to be stressed. it’s somebody else’s fault. My invitation is to go “okay, don’t point the finger away from you. look within. How did you contribute to the situation? Not in the way to punish yourself but to empower yourself to change what it is that’s not working. And there’s a chapter in the book called ‘Life is a piece of cake’.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: And it’s a lot about to do with looking at your life, looking at whatever you’re struggling with at the moment and going “Okay, if it is a piece of cake and it taste bitter, there’s something in it that’s not working for you.” What we tend to do especially here in the U.S is try and find things to put on top of it, put more frosting on top of it, add more sugar, add more whatever, whip cream to make that bitter taste go away, to drown it out. And, we do that with alcohol, we do that with whatever it is that we can mask our struggles with in order to make them go away. But it doesn’t make them go away. Your cake still has that bitter ingredient in it. It just has a bunch of chocolate on top.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: So my invitation is to stop it with the chocolate for once, look at the ingredients, what is in your life that is the detrimental to your ultimate — not goal necessarily but to that paragraph of living in line with your values? And whatever that is taken it out you know. People are asking “Do you think the Dalai Lama would lose his temper if he was stuck in traffic?” And I’m like I don’t think because the problem isn’t traffic. The problem is in patience.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: And if he has patience then it doesn’t matter if he’s in traffic or standing in line at the post office because the problem isn’t outside of us, it’s inside. So the work has to start from inside. And that is the invitation is to step with in and go “Okay. I am responsible.” And that’s a hard thing for people to admit is to say that I’m responsible. And so they look for other things to blame. and I think that’s why in a very roundabout way and I’m sorry it took me so long to get to answering your question, it’s so easy to point out the negative because you have all these people to blame and all these circumstances to blame for what’s wrong in the world as opposed to stepping up and saying, “I contributed to the problem.”

Glenn: Uhum.

Timber: So we focus on all of that because those become our allies. Those become our ego boost to say, “Well, it’s not my fault.” I didn’t know…

Glenn: You’re saying this and I totally agree with you but I am also replaying some conversations I’ve had with clients just over the years and many of them tell me that they don’t like their body and they want to exercise, they want to lose weight, they want to tone and firm and shape and sculpt and also get rid of excess body fats so they look better.

Timber: Uhum.

Glenn: Any words of advice that for me to tell when somebody tells me they don’t like their body?

Timber: Yeah. Well, it’s funny. There’s a chapter in the book called “Insecurities” in which I specifically talked about that. When I moved to the states, I didn’t know anything about fast food and very quickly became infatuated with it. And I gained a lot of weight so much so that I failed P.E physical education in high school.

Glenn: Wow.

Timber: And I remember my mother making a comment about how chubby I was getting. And it hurt. It hurt really bad. And I vowed right there and then that I was going to be a stripper, because in my mind – mind you, I’m 17 years old here, right? And I’m thinking the only way I can overcome this is if people pay me to take my clothes off, then that must mean I’m no longer this unattractive, pale, chunky kid staring back at me at the mirror. That’s the only way I can validate that I’m no longer at this place. And true to form, I went out. And I remember that… it’s on the book. I got this a ab roller. I don’t know if you remember that back in the early 90s. And that’s what started it out. And sure enough by the time I was, I think, 18, 19, I was a stripper.

Glenn: No kidding.

Timber: No kidding. And the more I went into it you know at one point my biceps were bigger than my head, these huge pecks. I was triangular. I was tan. I was fit. The problem was, the pale white fat kid was still staring back at me—

Glenn: Uhuh.

Timber: –in the mirror you know. It didn’t matter that people paid me money to take off my clothes. The problem in the first place was that I didn’t accept myself the way I was. And that problem never got solved. All I did was changed my physical body but I never changed my mentality. So I’m not saying that we should all just accept necessarily our obesity and say, “That’s just the way I am,” it’s saying who is responsible and what do I wanted to do about it. And the goal isn’t to drop down to you know 165 pounds. it’s to be on a journey to be okay with where we are whether its 5 pounds lighter this week, only 2 pounds lighter the next week, whatever it is but to just enjoy the process, rather than say “I will not be happy until…” That’s the problem with the concept of the pursuit of happiness is that put its happiness at a point somewhere in the future. Happiness is not out there. And it doesn’t matter if you say “I’ll only be happy when I drop under 200” because trust me, you’ll drop under 200 and then you’ll say “Well, I won’t be happy until I get to 180.” And you’ll get to 180 and you’ll say, “Well, I won’t be happy until I get to 160.” it’s a never ending vicious cycle because we keep pushing happiness out into the future. It can actually be available to us right here and now.

Glenn: Uhum.

Timber: And it’s again, it’s up to us. I’m sorry that I keep having to say this and I’m sure your listeners are gonna be just as upset that there isn’t some easy-go-to-pill solution to get there.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: It requires work. And it’s more a combination of mental and physical work because… And that’s obvious I think to anyone. It’s not just going to the gym. It’s that first… I think the hardest part of working out of going to the gym, isn’t the exercise at the gym, it’s the getting out of the house and going there. I think that’s the hardest part of any work out. Never mind that you know as soon as it is over, you’re gonna be glad that you did it, you’re gonna feel good.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: You know this but that’s not quite enough to get you out of bed.

Glenn: The hardest part about working out is putting on your gym shoes. And you know I very much mimic or parallel… our train of thought is very parallel because what you just said about it being hard work to improve yourself and to accept yourself and to be happy is right in line with what I teach to my clients with exercise and with my weight management program. I do not have a quick fix, get-slim-fast diet or weight lose program. And because of that, it’s not glamorous. It’s not trendy. And I don’t get a lot of people coming into it but once I do get are ready for change. They’re more mature people. They are ready to make the change and accept that “well, maybe I can’t eat fried food every day. Maybe I am gonna have to get off the couch. And take a walk or at least do some push-ups during the commercial break.”

Timber: I think what help me is eliminating the idea that I am somehow sacrificed fried foods, or that I somehow sacrificed eating meat and fast food. I didn’t sacrifice any of that. I exchanged it.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: I exchanged it for feeling amazing. I went from failing P.E to the athlete I am today. And that didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t even occur to me until one day I’m like ‘I don’t recognize myself. This is not me” you know but it is me. it’s an inevitable next step is you feel good; you’ll start doing more things that feel good and the deep fried food is not gonna even be appealing to you after awhile because you’re gonna associate it with feeling crappy. And you just not gonna want to go there. Does that make sense?

Glenn: It makes total sense. And something I say to people is “The less you have it, the less you want it.” That goes for sugar, fried food. And the more you have it, the more you want it. And I don’t… I eat you know some junk food now and then. I will splurge on some high sugar, high fat or whatever food now and then but it’s not a regular thing. And most of the time, I feel lousy afterwards. And I don’t mean mentally guilty because I don’t usually feel guilty about that because I eat it sparingly and I think about it first. And it’s usually okay. And even that if it was, let’s say “accidental” fine, I’ll get over it. I ate something or too much that I really shouldn’t have but you know I can fix it the next day by not doing the same thing.

Timber: Yeah, and dropping the shoulds, that’s a really important thing. don’t should. Don’t should all over yourself. don’t should all over the people.

Glenn: Right. Right.

Timber: It’s so detrimental. Even calling it as junk food, there’s no such thing as junk food. There’s junk and there’s food.

Glenn: Right. Right.

Timber: And so being really mindful of the language with which we look at the world, we look at our food and avoiding the extremes which is challenging for me to even acknowledge because I’m so prompt to extremes in every aspect of my life you know from going to corporate world and to design a furniture to living on an island, to living in a monastery, to you know; it is just from going to being promiscuous to being celebate you know. It looks like “Wow, it’s like the pendulum swings,” but what it does give me is a reference point. and when I find that middle, that’s where I know where to rest because I get very sensitive whenever the pendulum swings a little too much to one side or the other.

Glenn: So what point did you go in to the monastery?

Timber: At what point? It was…

Glenn: You moved to Hawaii. And you had a 15 hour week job. And you were writing emails to your friends.

Timber: Yes.

Glenn: And did monastery after that?

Timber: I started visiting temples and meeting with llamas and talking with my teachers and travelling and doing retreats and the stays got longer and longer. And at one point, I ran ahead and moved off the island and to monastery, that is actually off the grip. There’s no internet, no cell phone connection at all. And that’s when my friends hand me up letters and said, “Be happy or happy, but you gotta get out of there man because we miss hearing from you.” And it was interesting. I think we’re here to learn to be completely selfless. And when that letter came in the mail, I realized that by being in a monastery, I’m actually doing the most selfish thing in the world. I’m there because I want to be there but I’m of no use to the outside world.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: So I realized that while being there was fantastic and I don’t regret going, I wasn’t living in line with my values. I wasn’t being of service. I wasn’t selfless. And so I got out. And I moved in to another temple, call it a monastery with wifi.

Glenn: Wow.

Timber: I think it would be the Buddhist version of the middle path.

Glenn: Right. Right.

Timber: And that’s when the ‘Buddhist Boot Camp’ was born. I started putting all my stuff online and making it available. It just took off from there. It’s been an amazing journey. It’s available on multiple languages now. It’s very strange how that happened. I just surf with it you know, brought me here to Southern California. And I never know what’s next. And I’m okay with that. Yeah.

Glenn: And so is that your main thing now? Is that what you do your primary focus and goal in life and income, is your book?

Timber: Income… No, I insisted that the book remain affordable to everyone. And so it is hard cover that’s about $10. It’s like $7 on Amazon right now.

Glenn: I saw that.

Timber: Which is… I don’t know how that’s possible because that’s less than what I can buy it for from the publisher’s myself and I’m the author so.

Glenn: Wow.

Timber: So by all means, go get it from Amazon. My intention was never to make money off of this you know. I live… When I put the corporate world, moved to Hawaii, I made approximately 7 or 8 thousand dollars a year during those 8 years. And I feel still like the richest man in the world.

Glenn: Wow.

Timber: And because it has nothing to do with the stuff that I have. When I was there, everything that I enjoy doing was free. Playing tennis was for free. Playing volleyball was free. Reading books, libraries, those are all still free. Take advantage of those things.

Glenn: Oh yeah.

Timber: Because you know it’s… There’s so much out there and spending time with friends and teachers and all that doesn’t cost anything. Meditating is free and it is entertaining, believe it or not, because you’re watching the mind. It’s more amazing than anything.

Glenn: Uhum.

Timber: And I think that’s another part is realizing that… to answer your question from earlier about these people who say they wanna look differently and a better body and all that, we don’t just eat with our mouths; we eat with our eyes and our ears as well. We are consumers. And it’s just as important as it is first us to say “you know what? I’m not gonna eat that toxic food anymore,” to make a decision to not to eat toxic information anymore. and if everything you’re reading and all the TV you’re watching and movies you’re watching is feeding you this toxic information that you are somehow less than or incomplete or not beautiful or that you need to lose weight in order to be accepted or loved, that is just as bad for you if not worse than deep-fried Oreo cookies you know. It’s just when you decide on any diet, be sure to eliminate those very negative influences from your diet as well, and don’t eat them with your eyes and your ears. Does that make sense?

Glenn: It makes sense to me but that’s a hard sell. I’ve tried convincing people of what their input does affect them so what you eat affects your body, garbage in, garbage out. But it’s the same thing with watching certain TV shows, a lot of reality shows and sitcoms, the things you read, it does affect your mind and it does make a difference. And where do you draw the line? I mean how can I say this show’s okay, that show is not.

Timber: Well, I didn’t know where to draw the line so me being prone to extremes as I have been, I just eliminated all TV, all newspaper, all radios, all magazines, all of that back in I think it was 1999. Last time I watched TV, Ally McBeal was on.

Glenn: Holy cow.

Timber: And initially, that’s what I have to do. In a sense, you can call it detox. I just needed to just stop going to rehab, you know negative input rehab and just eliminate it altogether. And yes, initially the only difference I noticed was I didn’t have anything to talk to people about or around the water cooler worked, because I didn’t know what happened on ER the night before. But after a few years of this, I realized that all my thoughts were my own. I wasn’t being told what I was hungry for or what I was craving or how I should look. All the answers came from within me. And what didn’t sit well, I just didn’t entertain you know like ‘this isn’t working for me. I’ll stop doing it. My stomach hurts when I eat this so stop eating it.’ It’s just made sense, you know I would try to go on a hike with friends and I would be out of breath long before they were. And so I said “Okay. This is detrimental. My habits, my habitual tendencies are detrimental to my well being.” And so, I change that.

Now where do you draw the line? I think it’s different for different people. I think there is just as much positive out there in the world right now. You mentioned TEDX, ted.com. If you wanna watch TV, if you have 20 minutes of free time to do something that you don’t necessarily want to read a book right now, you just want to just… I go to ted.com. It doesn’t matter which talk you watch, you will learn something.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: And it’s entertaining. And there’s the hundreds of thousands of them I think available. And again, so you’re still being — I’m not saying you need to move into a monastery or that you need to sell everything you own and move to Hawaii, although it’s quiet nice. I’m just saying there find what works for you. And if watching these TV shows or these whatever — I’m not even familiar with them but I’m sure there’s still magazines out there that show you know, these “perfect bodies…”

Glenn: Right.

Timber: And mind you, I did graphic designs and photography for 13 years. I had people come to me and ask to be photoshoped and air brushed to look different than they do. And I admit I got quiet good at that. And one day, I cross-referenced my job with my values and said you know, “What I’m doing is a form of deceit. I am lying. And this is not in line with the kind of person I want to be.” And so I stop doing it. So you know I think the answers are different for everybody. I know everybody‘s listening to this will know exactly which magazine that is they’re reading, that is not good for them to read. They’ll know. It may not be so easy to stop that subscription or to stop looking at them, but they’ll know exactly what show or what magazine or what friend that they hang out with is actually feeding this negative outlook they have of themselves. And that’s why I can’t tell you or watch this TV show and don’t watch that one, you’ll know. Every single person out there will know.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: And again, the idea is the personal responsibility, taking charge of your own life and saying ‘I’m responsible’ I can just say ‘no’. Does that make sense? Is that too difficult a task?

Glenn: For me, it’s not. and I’m trying to sort of parse it down to a… because a lot of people — if they’ve been kind of smothered with this stuff for so long, have a hard time separating it. Like okay you know I do personal training, people ask me “How many reps, how many sets should I do of this exercise?” And honestly, I don’t tell them to do sets or reps. I say, “Do it until you can’t do it anymore, as long as you keep perfect form.” And I say, “You have to challenge yourself. you have to go beyond your comfort zone or it’s not gonna do you any good.” and that is a difficult answer for some people to really internalize and know when to stop, but I do that because if I say, “Okay, lift this weight 10 times,” they’ll do it and they’ll do it forever. But they won’t continue to improve because they’re doing the same thing over and over. But they’re not internalizing it, they’re not owning it. They’re just following somebody else’s directions, blindly. I guess what you said there you’ll know it. You might not admit it but you’ll know what stuff you should eliminate, right?

Timber: Yeah, and it’s important to admit it. And it could be on writing. It could be to yourself. It could be in a diary; write it down. I think writing it down solidifies it. It’s really important to do that. And the way to motivate yourself is no matter how hard it may seem, think of the alternative.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: You know people say, “Oh, that’s easier said than done,” an easy trek in the wrong direction you know. An easy trek downhill in the wrong direction is significantly harder than an uphill climb towards euphoria. And so, you may take the path of “least resistance” because it seems so appealing but it’s gonna take you farther from where you want to be. So even though the alternative route is uphill instead of downhill, it’s in the right direction.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: And if you zoom out and you look at the big picture, you realize you know, “I can do this for the next 10-15 years and end up being miserable or I could do this for the next 2 or 3 and not just be on the path to euphoria but be euphoric while I’m on it” because I’m, at least, headed in the right direction. Again, I’m such a visual person. Does that make sense?

Glenn: It makes perfect sense. And before I forget about it, you said something early on and you were on a roll so I didn’t want to interrupt you but you were talking about hanging on to the past and how the past doesn’t define you, it’s where you go in the future. But I wanted to know what your kind of advice would be for people who have a hard time letting go of the past and trusting that they can go forward in the future being different. Let’s say an overweight person, they’ve always been overweight ever since they were kid. And they don’t know any different. They’ve tried and failed 20, 30, 40 different diets. And they don’t trust that they can actually be a non-overweight person, you know how do they let go of the past?

Timber: It’s interesting you know. A lot of this are these emotional decisions. We are ruled by our emotions. And it’s important to us to distinguish between a feeling and an emotion.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: A feeling lasts about 45 seconds to minute and a half. It comes and it goes. You get angry. You get sad. You get happy. You get excited. All of this within a 5 minute period. We’re bipolar. And that’s fine, it’s totally okay, it comes and it goes one feeling leaves and another one takes it place. And that’s just how we are. That’s fine. An emotion, however, is a feeling that came but you never let it go. You built a story around it. It’s like trying to take a cloud and put it in the jar. And we build a story around this feeling. And somebody upset us 10 years ago and we wrote a story about how terrible it was and “how terrible it made us feel.” And it just… we keep feeding that story which means 10 years later, we’re still gonna be just as angry then as we were 10 years prior. Even though that incident came and went, it’s gone, that person may not even remember what happened but it’s just as real to us now as it was then because we keep feeding it.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: I think realizing, first and foremost, that whatever it is that was true back then, may have been true back then but it’s no longer true today. The thing with truth is that something is truth which we used to believe in it and if you believe that you will never lose the weight, then you will never lose the weight. I don’t know how else to say it you know. In the conversations with God, I really love this concept of “If you pray saying ‘I want more money,’ you will get exactly that.” You will always want more money. You will always want more money.

Timber: To create the wanting of more money, you’ll never be happy with what you have. But if you say “I’m grateful for the money I have,” you’ll generate a lot more of it. So part of the thing I’ve letting go of the past stories is realizing you’re the one who wrote that story. And that’s a whole new, fresh perspective like “I’m the one who made that incident” means so much. I’m the one who wrote that story which means I’m the one who can go back and rewrite it. I can write a new story around it. I have the pen. We are not victims of these things. Let me think. There’s a really good exercise we had during which we had to think back to a very sad moment in our lives and you know, really picture who was there with us when somebody close to us past away or when a love one left or a dog died or whatever it was. And all of us in the room, you can see that everyone’s posture changed and some people started tearing, some people started crying. And then we were asked to think back to the happiest moment in our lives, whatever that is. And everyone’s posture in the room changed again. Their faces lit up. They started giggling to themselves. And they started thinking back to that really happy memory. And the power behind that exercise is that we were in complete control of how we felt through the power of our thought. We just you know Carlos Castaneda said “You can make…” What is it? Oh man, I quote him all the time. “Make yourself happy and you can make yourself miserable,” the amount of work is the same.

Glenn: Nice.

Timber: It’s perfect for this because we’re the ones in control and that exercise made me realize how in control we are of how we feel. We think certain thoughts that generate certain feelings. But how many times, Glenn, have you heard people say “oh, I can’t help the way I feel”?

Glenn: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Timber: Or worse yet, “You make me feel…” We even put the responsibility of our feelings on somebody else. they made me feel this. No, they didn’t. You chose to feel this way.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Glenn: Thank you, I was just gonna say that.

Timber: Yeah, and I think no can make you feel anything without your consent so that ties back in to the news or the TV shows or the magazines that we read. If you say, “Well, this magazine makes me feel fat,” well first of all, the magazine can’t make you feel anything. Second of all, you chose to read it and you chose to make it mean something. The finger just… Again, point it back at yourself. You’re in control. And it may be tough to give up the subscription to whatever magazine is out there.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: However difficult giving up the subscription may be, it’s much easier than looking at those pictures for another 5 years.

Glenn: True. True.

Timber: That’s the choice we make. Every single time we buy that magazine, that’s the choice we’re making. I’m just gonna keep eating this junk.

Glenn: And another way to look at it is making change is hard, and letting go of the past might be hard because that sort of what defines you. But you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see; but are you gonna like that in 5 years if you don’t change?

Timber: Exactly.

Glenn: It may be hard work. In fact, it’s gonna be hard work. It’s gonna be hard to maintain, but in a year, in 5 years, will you be happy with yourself or mad at yourself?

Timber: Yeah.

Glenn: So I think it’s worth it because like what you said, it’s the same amount of work to be happy or sad but which do you choose to do.

Timber: Yeah, do something today that your future self will thank you for you know so to speak. I forget who said that but, yeah.

Glenn: I love it. I’ve really, really enjoyed talking to you. I think you have a really interesting perspective, one that I don’t hear, unfortunately, all that often from a lot of people. Maybe I don’t hang out in the circles that you do and that might be the reason why. But I have one last question for you before we wrap it up.

Timber: Yeah, go for it.

Glenn: What motivates you to keep fit? Stripping?

Timber: Those days are long gone, let me tell you, so are those biceps and so is that 8 pack.

Glenn: The Zen stripper, there’s a new book right there.

Timber: Yeah. There’s a chapter in the book about this. I’m not kidding.

Glenn: Okay.

Timber: And that’s really about the book is very honest. It’s very raw. It’s transparent. And that’s really the best way to do about it to go about it and not… I’m not claiming to be different than anybody else. I struggle… we were all battling with the same demons, not coincidentally. And it’s really important to recognize that when we do good, we feel good. And when we do bad, we feel bad.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: So what motivates me to… I mean I’m a beach volleyball player. I’m a tennis player. I feel good when I do. And if I let myself go, so to speak, if I go awhile without it… First of all, I need to not punish myself for that. I did the book the book tour. I was three months on the road in a car driving 8-10 hours a day.

Glenn: Wow.

Timber: There was a really, very little to no time to exercise at all. And I’m still recovering from that.

Glenn: Wow.

Timber: But that’s okay. That’s what I needed to do then. And I did it. And I’m glad that I did it. It was fantastic. And I can get back to where I am now. It’s not like I ate terribly while I was doing it. I did what I could. And that’s really important is to give yourself credit for what you are doing for instead of always focusing on what you can do more. It’s so detrimental to always look at the negative cause much like everything else that’s a habitual tendency.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: What is Buddhism all about? It’s about breaking our habitual tendencies, creating new ones that work for us, that are beneficial. Do what works and revisit because what may have work 5 years ago, may not work anymore today. It’s just we’re different. We’re different bodies. We’re different minds. We have different schedules. We have different lives. You have kids. Things that you could have done 10 years ago, you can’t do now. So you can’t go, “Well, I hate that I don’t look the way I did when I was 18.” Well, you’re not 18 anymore you know.

Glenn: So what does motivate you to stay fit?

Timber: Feeling good.

Glenn: Okay.

Timber: Sorry, I know long answer.

Glenn: You did say it, but it… I was waiting to see if there was something more. And I know you gave a better explanation but, yeah, it definitely… Well, it feels good to feel good.

Timber: Yes.

Glenn: And I like what you said about people striving for perfection essentially. That’s not exactly how you said it but do the best you can when you can. I was talking to a client earlier today and he said he couldn’t exercise because he was staying in his daughter’s house and there’s not enough room. And I said, “Was there a room for you to lie down on the floor?” And he said “Yeah, I could have found a spot and move the kids’ toys out of the way.” “Okay. So you could have done push ups.” “Oh yeah, okay.” And I said, “Well, you could have used that same amount of space to do anything. “Oh yeah, well.”

Timber: We could always come up with excuses that’s you know…

Glenn: Yeah, we could, but it is important to just do the best you can when you can. If you can’t do an hour work out on the gym how about a set of 10 push ups. Boom! You’re done. At least, you continue on with your habit of exercising.

Timber: And that’s the habitual tendency that we are trying to birth, so to speak.

Glenn: Exactly.

Timber: That you did something. You know I quiet often can’t do as much as I’d like to, whether it would be exercise or meditation.

Glenn: Yeah.

Timber: I missed the days of sitting for 4 or 8 hours a day. But you know with school now, I can’t do that.

Glenn: Right.

Timber: But I do what I can.

Glenn: So, Timber, thank you really very much for taking the time to talk with us today. Where can people find you?

Timber: Online, buddhistbootcamp.com and mostly on Facebook. I think that’s just with the time restrained, that’s the best way to get a hold of us is the buddhistbootcamp.com, yeah.

Glenn: And go out and buy his book, ‘Buddhist Boot Camp.’

Timber: Yeah, and share it with others. My hope is that for every book ordered, at least four people read it. Don’t let it sit on the shelf. Keep passing out.

Glenn: My wife bought and she read it. So I’ve read parts of it but not the whole thing yet. I was looking at the audio version. I almost downloaded it but sometimes, I prefer audio over reading it. I can do it while I drive. I love podcast too; hence, why I’m here right now.

Timber: There you go.

Glenn: Okay, Timber. Well, you have a great day, a great life. And I hope to be hearing more from you.

Timber: Thank you so much. Aloha.

Glenn: Aloha.

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