I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing author and expert, Peter Ragnar, about meditation.
I am super excited that we got to interview Peter, an author of 30 books on topics such as meditation, motivation, qi gong, longevity, super strength and natural health. As if that wasn’t enough, there has been written 7 books about him, and he has been mediating since he was a child.
See the whole interview for yourself below, and please comment with your biggest takeaway. I’m excited to hear if this interview has an impact on you and your meditation practice!
Here are just some of the things Peter talks about in the interview:
- How he got started with meditation
- How meditation has affected his life
- How to slow down your thoughts
- The art of finding ourselves in meditation
- His new book, “Finding Heart: How to Live with Courage in a Confusing World”
- When doctors will start prescribing meditation
- His life changing experience of ego loss in the late 70s
- A simple technique to get started with meditation, that anyone can do
- And more
Peter Ragnar’s website:
Here is the video:
Peter Ragnar’s newest book:
Robert: Hi everyone! It’s such a great joy to have Peter with me today for an interview on meditation. Hi Peter.
Peter: Hello Robert! Pleasure to be here.
Robert: Excellent, thank you! Peter is the author of 29 books, not only about meditation, but also on motivation and self-help topics such as qi gong, longevity, super strength and natural health. And Peter has close to 60 years of heart based experience as a martial artist and expert in health, fitness and organic living. Plus a lifetime of meditation experience. But not only that, there has been written a total of 7 books about him. I know that’s only a brief introduction, Peter. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Peter: Well, actually now it’s 30 books because I have a new book that just was released on Amazon Kindle, and it’s called “Finding Heart: How to Live with Courage in a Confusing World”. And it’s a very heart based book, helping people to get more confidence, more courage, and a greater level of compassion in dealing with the life that we have before us. And of course a lot this goes back to the premise or foundation of meditation, and how we can sue meditation as a tool to find ourselves as such. So, it’s been a very exciting project for me to complete.
Robert: Sounds great. I’m looking forward to look more into it. And as you say, I think it fits very well with the topic of the day. How did you get started yourself with meditation? Was it love at first sight, or was it something casual that you gradually fell in love with?
Peter: Hehe. Well that’s a very good question, Robert! Actually I was rather fortunate to have a mother that was very metaphysical. And so I was introduced to meditation at a very young age, and I can recall having my own little spot up in the attic when I was a child. And I’d go up there just so I could be quiet, and sit. Then later as I started reading verious spiritual books as such, I was able to refine my practice of meditation – and that’s pretty much been a story of a lifetime. Now of course, with all that being said, it’s managing one’s life in a way that we have time to be ourselves. We have time away from the busy-ness and the hustle and bustle of life, to reflect on that which we truly are. And that’s where meditation comes in. I mean, even today I spend hours every day. Because it is my practice. It’s not something I have to do. It’s like brushing your teeth, it’s just something you start doing and you continue doing. You like the peace, the quiet, the tranquility. That silence, and how that refreshes the essence of your being. So you know, it’s part of being healthy too.
Robert: It sounds like… You put it in beautiful words, I can’t add anything. And how has it affected your life? You’ve mentioned only positive things. But in positive in negative ways.. I don’t know, if that can [negative ways] happen?
Peter: Well you know, one way that it has really affected my life is by bringing balance to it. If you look at it… let me explore this a little bit with you, Robert. If you look at the ancient concept of yin and yang. Which is basically the pairing of opposites. Yang is a more energetic energy, and yin is a very subdued energy. Well, in our daily life we have a balance of both. Now unfortunately, some of the challenges we experience in life is when the yang energy overtakes the yin. In other words it is not balanced. We have too much activity, and not enough quiet time. Well, what I have found through meditation is that when we balance the yin and the yang.. when we’re coming from a centered spot.. it’s just like if you want to get an accurate measurement of how much you weigh.. when you stand on the scale you set it on the zero point. You don’t set it too much or too little, you set it right there where zero is. Well, that’s what I’ve found meditation allows me to do. When there’s balance between activity and non-activity, it’s very very easy to come from that meditative space. And even when you’re involved in activity, you become the observer. You’re somewhat detached. You’re not swayed by things that would ordinarily upset you. But you look at things from a different perspective. And it’s almost like you’re a spectator in a movie, enjoying the movie, and that’s something that.. people get so wrapped up in the movies of their life that they’re pulling their hair out. But that’s where meditation comes in. It balances us, puts us in the center, brings us to the zero-point. And again, it harmonizes yin and yang.
Robert: Excellent. Is that.. for our readers at DailyMeditate.com, what is the best tip you have for starting to meditate. Like if you only tried it a couple of times.. maybe just went with the flow. What is in your experience the best way to get started? A technique, or an exercise, or..?
Peter: Ok, that’s a very reasonable question. Because I know a lot of people ask, you know.. “how do I go about this?”.. “what am I going to experience?”. Well, you know the very first thing that people experience when they sit quietly is that it’s not so quiet.
Robert: The monkey [referring to the Buddhist concept of the monkey mind]..
Peter: Absolutely! You start noticing ALL of these thoughts, and crazy ideas and images that you never realized were floating around in your head. Well, here’s a very valuable point. If you’re just beginning, don’t get upset over these things. Don’t make them anything other than they are. They’re just images on the screen of your consciousness. Just allow them to come, allow them to go – don’t judge them. Just observe them. And then you’ll say “Oooh! You know, that’s an interesting thought. Oh, here comes another one”. Well, the funny thing happens, that as you start noticing – and noticing is the key word here – when we become aware of what’s floating across the screen of our consciousness, it starts to magically slow down. That’s the trick. When you notice – and you don’t judge – you allow it to be what it is, the thoughts now begin to slow. It’s pretty much as if you were watching a freight train or a big train rushing along the railroad tracks. Well, it’s going so fast that you can’t see the individual carts, or you can’t see between them. But as you begin to notice, the thoughts start to slow down. So the thoughts are like cars on a railroad train. As the train slows, now you can see between the cars. You can see the horizon. You can see something that is far vaster than you ever believed possible. And that happens as we begin to meditate. We start seeing beyond our thoughts. And beyond those thoughts is a very very beautiful place. That’s where we meet ourself. Our real being. And that is eternal.
Robert: Excellent. I have another question I kind of, I hope tied into that. But I think you might have already answered. But I’ll ask it anyways because I think it’s something that people think about. If you’ve been meditating for a while. You’ve maybe done what you say, or at least you’ve tried, and you sort of feel stuck, or you want to take it to the next level. It’s not really what you thought of meditation as being before you started meditating. Do you have any advice? Maybe go back to what you just said, that maybe it’s the wrong way of thinking.. the wrong question.
Peter: No, it’s an excellent question, Robert. What happens is that people want to try to force things in meditation, like they do in their regular everyday life. It’s not about pushing anything. You know, if you’re in the river, a good swimmer can float. They don’t need to trash about in the water. And that’s the thing we do mentally. We try to trash around in our consciousness, trying to make it into something rather than allowing it simply to be. And it’s relaxing into that space. Now, meditation isn’t about accomplishing anything. Which some people come and approach it from that standpoint. There’s nothing to be accomplished. Now, people say “what am I doing it for?”, “what do you mean, I want to accomplish something”. Well you know, that’s just the problem. That’s the thing that gets the mind all wound up and stressed. It’s when we stop trying to do anything with it. We just surrender to that beautiful space. And in that space we lose our worries. We all of the anxiety, the fear, the apprehension. And all of that is replaced by peace. And the peace comes when we stop doing. So the more you try to do something.. “do it” in meditation, the further away and the more difficult it becomes.
Robert: Excellent. I don’t know if you’re back in sync. I think we might have lost just a little bit there, but I think we got the main parts of the beautiful answer. You mentioned it a little bit.. speaking of [that] there’s no goal in and of itself. One goal there is though, which is more like a bonus, is that there are so many benefits to meditation, and it comes just from doing it. Like reduced blood pressure, increasing your concentration, to treating depression, anxiety and adhd. It’s amazing, really. My dream is that doctors will start prescribing meditation instead of medication. And on this perspective, do you have any thoughts on, since the society, ’cause I think you’re maybe mentioning [it] in how you described your new book, with the quick pace [of society] and there’s even more and more distractions. What’s your thoughts on.. when will doctors start prescribing meditation?
Peter: Hehe. Well, that’s one.. When will they? Robert, when they become more conscious. Hehe.
Robert: Hehe. Such a long question, such a short answer. No, but that’s brilliant. Thank you. And yeah, I think you condensed a lot in just a few minutes here. But for the general.. what should I say.. interest in meditation, or things like this. Do you have any books or resources where people can go if they’d like to feed their interest, or maybe try out different types of techniques? Or you know, where to go next on the intellectual level, you know?
Peter: For the intellectual level.. Good question! Well, I naturally would recommend my latest book, “Finding Heart: How to Live with Courage in a Confusing World”. In the book, Robert, I go into various ways to approach meditation. And there are a number of techniques that anyone can use to bring them into a meditative state. And of course, just as you mentioned a moment ago, when we “accomplish” that, and I use that word very delicately (accomplish). When we surrender to meditation, a lot of physical benefits, and mental benefits, are accrued. Such as changing brainwaves, calming the nervous system.. and there’s so many studies on that already, that show the power of meditation. And it’s incredible. It’s incredible what happens. One of the things that happens is that the minute you start to lower your stress levels, your mental acuity increased, and, let’s look at it this way.. What does stress do? When we get really stressed, when we get really stressed the glucose in the brain gets interfered with. In other words, the brain can not lay down memories, or retrieve older memories, because of the stress levels. And this is because of stress hormones, and other chemicals such as cortisol, which disrupt brain function. Now, most people operate on a 24 hour basis with disrupted brain function. This accounts for not only confusion in the workplace, difficulties in domestic affairs – domestic relationships – and bad dreams. All of this comes down to the accumulated load of stress. Well, the remedy to stress is doing it’s opposite. Stress is.. you know.. stress is just like if you eat too much. If you’re eating and eating and eating, and you never use the bathroom, then you get constipated. And all those toxins fill the body, and confuse the body’s operation. The same thing happens mentally. If we keep jamming the head full of thoughts. Thoughts and ideas and worries and anxieties.. all of these things. And throw in a few fears, the things you’re afraid of. Chuck that all in your head, and then never let it process out, you start going crazy. Meditation is the medicine for that. It allows those things to settle, and float out of our conscious awareness, and float out of our existence. Then, we physically become healthy. We mentally become healthy. And we start transcending so many of the problems that confuse us in just day to day living.
Robert: Excellent. You mentioned transcending.. I remember you, a couple of years ago, I think in an interview similar to this. You went a little bit into detail about an experience you had after meditating for an intense 10-12 years or something, and then you stopped. And then you had some transcendental experience, or spiritual experience, or.. It changed you. It’s something I’d like you to elaborate on if you want to, and I think you can give people an idea of what some people end up getting as a benefit of meditation. But by no means all of us, I think.
Peter: Well, I think probably you’re referring to an experience I had back in 1977. Well, I think it was ’79. I was basically living in a log cabin that I had built by hand, out in the forest, and I had been doing long meditation, and this.. finally you know, I just said you know “to heck with everything!”, you know. I gave up on everything. I was just, you know, fed up to here [pointing at his neck] and.. So I was just going about my simple life, and sitting before the fire, as I did every evening, and.. I would just naturally.. just meditate. But it wasn’t to gain anything. I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything. I was just a very peaceful thing for me to do. It had nothing to do with any religious affiliation, or any spiritual ideas. I was just being myself. And all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, I had this very profound epiphany, or a experience. And it actually frightened me when it was happening, because it was so unusual. It was not like anything I had ever experienced in my entire life. And I felt as if anything I knew to be myself was dying. And I was trying to hold on to it, and I was, you know, holding and trying to grip what was torn away from me. And actually it was, like I said, it was rather unnerving. But finally, after a while, my body had become almost as if it were stone. It was like I was paralysed in my seated position. I couldn’t move out of it. And then all of a sudden it broke, I changed. And I came out of that experience totally changed. It was the same world.. But different. Everything was different. It was like I took a long long journey, and forgot about my home. And then finally ended up returning. That strange feeling.. Everything was there, but it was not.. It was like it was before, but it wasn’t. It was all new. It was like a, like a perpetual déjà vu. Well, I went out after I was finally able to get up, and I walked out into my outhouse. And I remember it was in May, and it was a full moon that was shining. And I don’t know what time it was.. early in the morning hours. I had been there.. seated there for hours.. And went out into the outhouse, and I kept the door open so the moonlight could come in so I could see. And I’m sitting there, and here comes this fox. Comes right up to my knee, and looks me in the eyes. And it was as if we were speaking with one another. And it was the strangest thing. Then later that morning I went out to my garden. Still rather shaken by this whole experience. You know, not knowing what to make of it. But it was very peaceful. And I remember sitting down to eat some lunch in the garden. And a crow jumped out of the tree, right next to me. And you know, it was like he was talking to me, you know “can I have some of your lunch?”. So I handed him some of my food. And that began a long relationship of unusual connections with animals. And a lot of people have photographed these things, and seen these things that have been around me. And it’s just.. But all of a sudden you have this sense of unity, this sense of oneness with all of life, that you have expanded in some way. You don’t have that self-identity as such, but you’re identified with all different things. And it’s.. You’ve really gotten out of your own way. Well, you know.. that was the beginning of the journey for me. And it was the beginning of my.. of when I started talking about it. You know.. I guess you could say it was the beginning of my teaching of meditation. So that back in the latest 70s, and here I am 2015.. you know.. It was like it was yesterday. Time is illusion. It’s illusionary. And that is the other thing, Robert. That there is no sense of time. I don’t know what time is. I just don’t.. you know.. I know I have to look at a clock and I know that we had arranged to speak at a particular time as such, but it doesn’t exist. And that’s the strangest part of it. That you have no.. you don’t have any concerns about it.
Robert: Wow! Hehe. We’re closing in on half an hour. Do you have any parting thoughts for our listeners on.. maybe going back to your journey.. If they’ve started their journey, but they’re unsure about where to go next. In relation to meditation maybe, or some other things to add.
Peter: The easiest thing for everyone to do.. and they can do this at any given time through the day.. is: just take a moment, and just listen to your breath. Just take a moment and count three breaths, or ten breaths. That’s all! Just be aware of your breath. And the more you become aware of your breathing, the more it will slow down. And as your breath slows down, your mind slows down, and you have greater degree of peacefulness that occurs from that. And I go into a lot of detail on all of this in the new book, “Finding Heart: How to Live with Courage in a Confusing World”. And once again, it’s available on Amazon. There I have my plug of the book, hehe.
Robert: And for people to read even more they can visit LongevitySage.com, or anywhere else you’d like to send your listeners?
Peter: That’s perfect. PeterRagnar.com, you’ll get there. And there is a few other places. My wife, Katrina, and I have a beautiful site on simple living, called LivingDiary.life. But if you go to PeterRagnar.com, sign up for my free newsletter, and.. You know.. I’m available!
Robert: Sounds great. Thank you so much for doing the interview with me! It was [a] great pleasure. And I wish you a super great day.
Peter: Thank you, Robert. I’m honored!
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