T – Thoughts {ABCs of Health}

*This is a transcript of my interview with Ali, from mindwave meditation. Here are the links we mention:
Mindwave meditation website
Mini course: Dare to discover
Instagram: mindwave_meditation
Youtube channel
Self-talk videos: Part 1 and Part 2

Aline
All right! So, hi everyone! Welcome. This is the ABC’s of health we’re on letter T and I’m super excited today because I get to chat with Ali from mindwave meditation. I don’t remember how I found him, it was on Instagram somewhere, it popped up on my feed and I have obsessed over the videos ever since. He’s very good, you’re going to hear his voice, it’s nice and it’s calming and it’s wonderful and he has wonderful things to say. So today we’re going to talk about our thoughts. Welcome. First of all tell me what you do.

Ali
Well do I talk in this voice or…

Aline
Do you want to use your guided meditation voice or your regular voice?

Ali
So yeah, I’m Ali and lovely to finally connect. Obviously is great, after all this time of chatting back and forth and hearing about what you do it’s been so wonderful to actually connect as a human, you know, instead of just texting. But yeah, I’m a mindset coach essentially, I started out teaching meditation and through the sessions I’d hear troubles about family and jobs and people not knowing their purpose and all of this stuff and my sessions just kind of morphed into coaching, so I kind of just branched out. I guess I’m coaching now! So yeah, it’s just really mindset, to kind of start with the mind before anything else and just realigning and figuring out who you are and what you need to be doing, and just kind of breaking it down to simple steps really, so we can all just get through life easier.

Aline
And that’s why you’re the perfect person for this letter! Yay! So here’s the thing, when we talk about health the first thing we think about is exercise and food, which is super important, and that’s a big. I mean, you make and break your health in the kitchen, but there’s so much more to it than that. So, what is it that our thoughts and our mindset, why do they have to do with our health, and what do they have to do with our health?

Ali
Yeah, it’s so true and when we were kind of growing up that was health, you know? It’s food and exercise, and even that wasn’t taken that seriously. So it’s only recently, till recently that mental health is such a big thing, and words like anxiety and depression are actually looked into, and it really does start there. That’s what we’ve got to really understand, is your mental health, it doesn’t have to be like a word that makes you go “oh, you know, well, my mental health’s fine”. It doesn’t have to be like that. It really just means about starting at the roots. And the way I like to see it is we have hearts and mind and if we just focus on what our mind’s thinking about and where it is, is it really in the future? Is it really in the past? Or are you actually being present with what you’re doing? And then, what are you doing? Is what you’re doing, is it’s serving you, is it helping you, is it fulfilling you? And you know, that connection from heart – from mind to heart is just like the perfect marriage. If we just really focus on those two things and nurture those two things and everything else kind of works in our favor, or works itself out.

Aline
And the focus, right? Well you’re answering it! What do our thoughts have to do with our health, because like you said, that’s where it starts, right? You can’t… people talk so much about motivation, right? You have to be motivated, motivated, motivated. Motivation has very little to do with it, right? It’s… you have to go through the process of saying: okay, I recognize a problem, and I could do something about it, and go there. And for you, what is something that you think – let me find the right words for my question. How can someone recognize that they need to clean up their thoughts a little bit? That they need to clean up their mindset a little bit to improve their health – be it mental, because mental health of course is associated with our physical health, but in both aspects, what are some things that maybe some red flags, that you would say okay you need to pay attention to this?

Ali
Yeah, I mean for me I started reading spiritual texts and all these things when I was about 15, 14, 15 and it was just straight over my head. But I knew that it was awesome! That was the word. I hope this is awesome, this it looks amazing, and I knew it had some worth in it, but I just didn’t get it. Because my mind was just in the future, and I was thinking about what I wanted to do, and I was replaying all the past, and I was constantly swinging between the two. And the books were constantly telling me to be in the now, and I just couldn’t grasp it. Like what is the now? Like I don’t get it! Gratitude, all of this stuff. I just didn’t get it. And then later on it all kind of just made sense, and what I realized was my mind was either in the past or the future, and that was where the suffering was coming from. Because the future is where anxiety is born. If we’re not playing thoughts of the future and wondering oh how’s that gonna work out, or like what if that doesn’t happen, and what if, and I can’t figure this thing out in the future that may not happen. That’s where the overwhelm comes from. And then the past, is… we think about the past and we replay it, and we replay it again, and we change the ending. And I used to do this all the time. For weeks and weeks after a conversation I had with someone. Oh, I know what I’ll do. I’ll play it again and change the ending. And now, even just saying this, because I’m so far removed from that, it feels like a different person. And how would I even do that? But this is why I do what I do, because I really relate to it, because I was a completely different person. Depressed, no self-worth, no direction, all the rest of it, and constantly in the future. So by practicing the now and being here, and tuning into the breath, and recognizing where your mind is at during the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. Probably the greatest advice I could ever give to someone is to say just start with where you are right now, and where you are right now is okay, and it is what it is. And just in the morning, decide from the moment you wake up till midday, just to use awareness. I always say awareness because it helps us remember. That it’s just a simple word, and it will help everything. Just be aware of this monkey mind swinging from branch to branch. Is that thought in the future? Is it in the present? Or is it in the past? And then simply just say: oh yeah, future. And then come back to the breath, come back to what you’re doing. And if it’s in the past: oh yeah, I’m thinking about the past. Come back to the present. And it’s a game of just recognizing where the mind is at and being kind to yourself. Again, that’s okay, I’ve been in the future for a day. Come back to the present. Breathe. Realize that it’s the future, and it doesn’t exist. Realize that that’s the past, and it’s already gone. It’s okay to let it go and just constantly return to the present. And if we do this regularly then we start to rewire the brain, and we start to create new pathways, and we get into a new groove, and the groove looks like this: it looks like waking up in the morning, and not being in the future or the past. So, what are you left with, you left with the room that you’re in, maybe the loved one that you’re next to, or you know the flat or house that you live in, and then you can just play in gratitude. And if you dive into gratitude, and even force yourself just to be grateful for being able to breathe, having four walls, for having a job, even if you don’t like your job, just for having that paycheck. And just reel off a gratitude list, then you propel yourself into the now and then when that future thought comes back, you go: oh, you’re the future. I hear you, but I don’t need you right now. And then the same with the past, and then we really just use the past and the present – the past and the future for reference. You know, where are my keys, oh yeah I left them there. Oh, I need to plan this. So we jump into the future we play around in the future, we dream up something, and then we come back and the whole point is just to constantly use these two, but come back to the present. And lastly on that point is one of my favorite sayings: just remember this. If you are depressed, you’re in the past. If you are anxious, you’re in the future. And if you’re, what is it? If you’re present you’re in the now – if you’re at peace you’re in the present. And just those three lines just summarize everything and help you go: okay, I got it this. I can do this.

Start where you are right now,
and where you are right now is ok.

Ali Epstone

Aline
And what’s your… I love all of that, and I love how you explain it. But what do you say to the person that says, okay Ali, that’s beautiful, that’s fantastic, it’s such a colorful world that you live in, right? That’s great, and I mean I strongly encourage anybody, everybody who’s watching this go to his youtube channel, listen to part of his story, because it takes away some of the glitter from your words when you hear what you went through, when you actually listen to a bit of your story you say, okay that’s not just… his life hasn’t been just rainbows and beautiful things, but what do you say to the person that says: okay, that’s all great, but I have two or three kids, and they all have their different schedules, and I have my job, and I have to cook three times a day, and we have a vacation coming up in a month… what do you say to this person? Because life is busy, right? I mean your life is busy, we talked about this this morning! So, what do you say to this person? How do you balance that life is happening, and there’s a lot going on, with also just focusing in and being in the now? Where do you go in these two places?

Ali
Yeah, perfect and that’s a great reminder as well, for me as well, even just saying that – I think before I said to you like ‘oh it’s one of those busy days’ and what I actively try and do is remind myself that busy isn’t a badge of honor, you know? We say this like ‘I’m so busy…

Aline
Why is that good right?

Ali
Yeah, like why is that good? It’s… we’re putting ourselves into this stressful state so before we dive into that question, is try and change even that to getting things done. It doesn’t have to be like everything’s all rosy and life is all rainbows, and all the rest of it, but busy… by even saying ‘oh I’m really busy’, we do that face… and we put that stress face on. Everything tenses. If you’ve got to do, if you’ve got to pick up the kids, you’ve got to make the food, go do the washing, all the kind of just admin things, and all the rest of it… try and change that to I am joyfully getting things done. And even if you’re not joyfully getting them done just…

Aline
Fake it till you make it?

Ali
Yes, and then even bypass that as well. Just make it, you know? Sometimes faking it so you make it is almost still saying ‘I will get there’. Just be there. Like, I’ve got to pick up the kids. I could jump into that ‘oh, and I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to go to, gotta gotta gotta go. Together if we transcend that, just by deciding that we’re all busy. Top people, with multiple companies, with kids, with all this stuff coming, with hundreds of emails, and we talk through this sort of stuff and some of these people say things like: “I choose to just dominate the time, manage my time”, and it’s really about time management and deciding to not allow the mind to kind of get overloaded with just the day-to-day stuff that we are doing, that we have to do, and then if we kind of pepper in on top of that finding your purpose, and carving out time to do something that you love to do. Even if it’s like knitting, you really love knitting but you’re not finding the time. You tell your kids ‘mommy needs her knitting time’, that is what is happening. So, for this time, you go in there ‘mommy needs to go and do this’, if dad needs to go and do this, you tell them that’s what’s happening and you make that time for yourself. And look, I sympathize when there’s two kids running around, and there’s all the stuff, and it’s building up, it’s just about creating time for yourself, and even using the bathroom as… if there is no time in the day, using your bathroom as a zen portal. I’ve got a little simple tip that I call the zen bathroom, and when you open that door, from the moment that you walk in, to the moment that you walk out, you’re not allowed to think of anything. No thoughts. Obviously, thoughts will come in, but when they come in, just acknowledge that it’s a thought, and breathe, and just even sit on the toilet and breathe for three minutes. I used to do this when I was on tour in my band. We’d travel, and it was constant noise. There was not one moment in the day when I could have just peace, you know? I was in a heavy metal band as well, and there’s no peace, and the toilets were my sanctuary. Every venue I’d go to the toilet, I’d lock the door, and I just sit there in stillness for five, ten minutes, and just breathe. And it was one of the highlights of the… apart from enjoying the band, it was a real highlight just to … and just do breath cycles and tune in, and then bring in the gratitude again. Okay, I’m on tour. I’m grateful. I want to be here, it’s just tough. You know I love my kids they’re just a bit much. Oh my god, I love my kids, but they’re just a bit much. So use that time just to go ‘okay I do I love my kids. I love my kids. I love my kids.’ And just rewire. Bring it all back. I love my job. It’s stressful, but I love it. It pays for this house. Love love love love. Tuning into the heart. Just literally tuning in and feeling it, and then breathing is amazing. And if you practice it every day, that feeling gets stronger and stronger and stronger, and the smile gets better, and it’s just a knock-on domino effect from there. So just start really small.

Aline
There are two things there that I just… I just love that. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what I heard underlying all of this: one of them is that set your own boundaries, right? That there are seasons in life either with work, or with family, or that we give so much that we don’t give ourselves space to be ourselves, to invest in ourselves, so set those boundaries. I have a friend that once said this is mommy’s time to do this, you can sit next to me, but this is what I’m doing. And you know what, from experience, the kids get bored. They don’t want to do whatever it is that you are telling them that you’re going to do, so they’ll find something else to do. So first that, right? It’s recognizing that it’s okay to set a boundary, it’s okay to invest in yourself, to give yourself these minutes, and like you said, it’s maybe it’s five minutes of your day but it’s not selfish, it’s not wrong, it’s not. You need that, right? You need that space.

Ali
And especially on the word selfish as well. Something I’ve battled with a lot is be selfish, if it’s in a good sense, you know, like look after yourself first. You can’t help the kids become the best kids, or you can’t be the best employee at work, and I taught a mum once and she was really we did meditation. She was really nervous because it was so woo to her that she didn’t want to tell her kids. And she… if the kids caught her meditating what was she going to say? And so, I said, just break all that down and explain what it is, it’s just relaxing and calming the mind, and see if they want to do it, and by the end of the week she was meditating with the kids. And halfway through they’d walk off, but still this thing that she built up in her head, future thought, which was causing a stress. We doubt, you know? We looked at that and just said: just have that conversation and the kids enjoyed it and then respected that mum needed that time. And then we’re really kind of like ‘oh she’s meditating’ and she’d hear this, and it became a thing and the same with people that do yoga with the kids, or do it with your friends, and just be open as much as possible. I think people will find that the more open they are with the mental health or anything that they’re trying where people recognize they’re trying to better themselves, people love that and really encourage that. But for some reason we’re wired to go: ‘well I couldn’t… I can’t possibly tell them’. My dad used to chant um nam-myoho-renge-kyo he still does. It’s a Buddhist practice. He used to nam over and over and over again and as a six-year-old, five-year-old, you know, it was like ‘why is that happening’? He goes, I’d go and visit him and he’d be chanting and he was just… he never pushed it on me. He said ‘this is what I do, it helps me feel strong and aligned, and all this stuff, and it helps me. And he never once pushed it, or said you should do this, but I saw all the things that happened to him, and how he changed, that naturally I wanted to do it too. It goes the same for good health, a good diet, a yoga practice, a meditation practice, taking a nap. People see that you become a better person, then you’ll naturally get that respect and people will warm to it I think.

Aline
There’s a great quote I forget which book it’s in, but Andy Stanley says personal choices always have public consequences, right? So, every choice that I’m making, it’s a personal choice but the consequences of my choices always affect someone else. Somebody in my life will be affected by my choices, and when I consistently make better choices, regardless of what area in life that is, that’s going to spill. I’m going to pour into someone else. But that was the first thing that that I got from that, the second one was you talked a few times about gratitude, and you talked about the morning. Tell me a little bit, because this is one thing that I see people struggle a lot with, is I wake up and I’m in go mode. So I wake up and I get my phone – like why do people wake up and get their phones? Anyway, so I wake up, I pick up my phone and there’s a message, and I go on social media, and I do this, and then by nine in the morning I’m frazzled! Of course you are! So, talk to us a little bit about the treasure that is that, for the that first period of your morning. Regardless, for me it starts at five in the morning. Maybe for someone it’s at eight or eleven or… I used to sleep until nine, but things change, so talk a little bit about that. How does how you start your day, what you do, you talked a little… like starting with your breath, starting with gratitude, how does that change you? How does that improve your day, or your health, and how does that help you in the now?

Ali
Yeah, well, I mean they say how you start your day sets you up for the rest, and it actually does. Scientifically, if you start your day snoozing, then you’re jarring yourself and you never really get into that kind of upward momentum. So, for me, it’s about just getting ahead of what we do, our habits. If our habit is to wake up and snooze and then go on the phone, just jump into the future, play that for a second, and just watch what you do. And then just using awareness, again it’s just to recognize ‘okay, this is what I do. I do this, and I do that, and do that’. Then we just have a conversation with ourselves. What do we want to do, and if we want to get up earlier and make more me time, or just start the day a bit… not like that asleep to Instagram. Just have that conversation, and I mean Instagram… they’re designed to keep us on there, to wake up is exciting! Did anyone like the things that we posted yesterday, what’s all the lights and everything, it’s designed to steal our attention. So, one thing I love to do is to wake up, and before I do anything, while we’re in that window of time that hypnagogic state, it’s that state where we’re coming out of sleep and into consciousness, and we’re kind of in between the two it’s the perfect time to reprogram your subconscious for what you do want, how you want to be, the intention for the day. So before my feet touch the ground, I’ll program myself every morning and say: I love you. Thank you. And say this to yourself, from yourself. So just I love you. Thank you. And say in your mind 10 to 20 times, and make this a non-negotiable. You’ve got the rest of the day that’s on on on. And the other, before you just look at your phone, what’s two minutes just to program love and gratitude? The most powerful things you could possibly do is dive into love and gratitude. And once you’ve done that, yeah have a look at Instagram, or even better don’t! Get out of bed, meditate, or just breathe in six breaths. Even if you can just get that in, it’s phenomenal how much that’s going to change your day if you start off um tuning in, or just realigning to what the day is about. Not what you’ve got to do, just who you are and how you feel, and if you don’t feel great then that’s okay too, just decide that that’s something that you might need to work on, and maybe that’s the video you’re gonna look upon youtube that day instead of just scrolling other people’s achievements, or the news. What do you need today? Tune in every single day and ask you ask yourself what you need.

Aline
Yeah, and the habits, right? When talking about exercise, so many people find that the best time for them to do that is in the morning. You wake up and you…

Ali
not me!

Aline
I mean whatever workout it is, but for example, for you, you have a very intentional practice, right? Either a meditation, or whatever it is you do, and for lots of people the exercise is that, because I’ll tell you! A few years ago, if I were to meditate when I woke up I would go back to sleep because I can sleep anywhere! So those are things that you work towards, right? And even when you say that… you didn’t one day just do that! This this is a process…it’s having that intentional whatever it is that you do in the morning, but really, do something for yourself intentionally. I heard someone speaking once that the first thing he needed in the morning was coffee, so he’s like ‘okay, I need my coffee, okay’. But he decided that while his coffee was brewing, he was gonna do push-ups. So, as long as it took for his coffee to brew, he was doing push-ups! He said ‘that was a gateway for me, and then I started investing a little more in my health, and working out’. But it’s just that giving to yourself, right? It’s so easy for us to give… and even when you say ‘I love you and thank you’ so simple right…

Ali
effortless

Aline
so powerful. And we’ll do that for other people. We know the importance of telling our spouse, our partner, I love you and thank you. We know the importance of doing that to our kids, to our friends, why can’t we do it to ourselves? It’s just, start with that, start with that.

Ali
If you want love, and if you want to be really thankful, start with yourself and something I never did. I would have been like, ‘what I’m not doing that!’ So that would have been my ‘what are you talking about’! But if you think about, it if you decide to propel yourself into a state of love and gratitude and cultivate that feeling and do this throughout the day as well. I do this morning, afternoon, evening, it’s check-in time. I went to get the old haircut, which I hate doing, I hate sitting there, it’s not something I enjoy doing. But on the way down I just did this practice of love and gratitude, when I sat there in the chair it was a great experience because I was in this heightened state instead of just being like ‘oh haircut’. But back to the morning thing, you know I said before like I don’t do the exercise in the morning, like go for the run because it doesn’t feel right to me. Other people need to get up and just go, and that’s awesome, do the weights or the intense workout because if they don’t do it then they’ll never do it. So, what I said about tuning into yourself, get to know the times of the day that’s good for you, my wife needs to do it in the morning because she just won’t do it in the afternoon, and I’m the opposite. So, the more you get to know yourself, the more that you can see what parts of the day are best for creativity, and you know the nap! But yeah, it’s…

Aline
because it’s super fun and it sells books to do the formula, right? To say this is when you have to do this, this is the solution for your life, but wait a minute! No, right? We’re different, so the solution is to know yourself, is to actually give yourself time to know who you are, to invest in yourself. Yeah.

Ali
absolutely

Aline
Okay, this has been amazing, and I could talk to you all day, but all the medias have a limit to how much they want me to do a video and I do want to end with one question. What is something that can be done right now to improve your thoughts, to improve your mindset, to improve your awareness?

Ali
Okay, so the best thing I think you can possibly do to really start this journey is not all overwhelming, and there’s more meditation, yoga, and all this stuff is just start here. And if we look into self-talk, what are we saying to ourselves? One of the greatest things we can learn is we are constantly saying negative things, it’s like 6500 negative thoughts a day they say, or something. It’s just ridiculous, and we don’t say anything to ourselves that we wouldn’t say to a child or a niece and nephew. So, you drop something, and it smashes, ‘oh, you idiot!’ Stuff like that. Catch all of these thoughts, and what we want to do is catch that thought like a butterfly and just recognize that we’d said it, and maybe it’s something we say a lot. Like people say ‘oh I’m so fat’, or ‘I’m an idiot’. I used to call myself an idiot multiple times a day because I was dyslexic as a kid, and people used to say that, or you’re stupid, or whatever. Then I started saying it, then I started believing it, and then I started playing into it because it became my identity; like ‘oh it’s just the way I am, you know, I’m just… I’m just a bit stupid’. I used to repeat it, and words are like spells, and that’s why they call it spelling. It’s so powerful, and through neuroplasticity which is the study of how the brain can be malleable, they’ve realized that whatever we’re programming up here and repeating is just going to continue. So, if we say we can’t do something, or even I said then I hate the hairdressers, so let me catch that now. What we do is we say: in the past, I hated going to the hairdressers, but now I’ve decided to enjoy it’. And we always pull it back to the present and say: ‘but now I’m improving’, or ‘now I’m going to change that story’. So, I used to call myself stupid but now I have self-worth and I would never say that to myself again. So, we just reframe. We don’t lie to ourselves, we just catch thoughts and reframe it in the present and let it go, and this process is beyond powerful. I’ve got a couple of videos on my channel about this thing, and it’s called self-talk. So, scroll through or I’ll send you the link and if we rewire the brain and we set new positive affirmations, then everything will change, and we’ll get more self-confidence and all the rest and it really is whatever you say after I am is. So, I have this, or I am this, that’s when you start changing the game. I would start there, the awareness of the past and the future, and then what you’re saying to yourself and notice other people, what they’re saying to themselves. That’s how we notice it in your text, what are you writing? Go through your text and see where you’ve been self-deprecating, or you’re in victimhood, or any of these things, and just notice and reframe and that will change everything.

Whatever you say after “I am” is.

Ali Epstone

Aline
It truly does. It even changes our effort, right? Like when you go into… there’s this guy that he always talks about instead of saying ‘I have to’, you start saying ‘I get to’, right? Because of that, because it’s just a trigger of how am I feeling about this?

Ali
absolutely

Aline
Yes! I have seen the self-talk videos; I will post the link. The transcript goes into a blog post, the link will be there. And again, everybody, this is Ali from mindwave meditation. Go set some time for yourself and his channel because you will be watching video after video, it’s wonderful. If you want to try out meditation, he has some amazing meditation videos there – guided meditation, go do some. If it’s too woohoo for you, do it when no one’s home, and see how it feels and then you’ll start doing it, you’ll stop being scared of people knowing that you do it. It’s really good, he’s not weird, he’s just… he’s great…

Ali
I’m a stealth hippie!

Aline
It’s not super weird. But Ali, again, thank you so much! This was…

Ali
thank you

Aline
…wonderful. We should totally do it again, and everyone keep following along. We’re almost at the end of the alphabet and thanks for being here.

Ali
Thank you.

**I highly recommend you go back and watch Letter L, Loving Yourself. That was another priceless interview on self talk and self love.

Keeping it simple,
Aline

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