Karuna: Hi, I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director of Mind Oasis, and I’m super excited about my guest today, Jonathan Troen. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jonathan: About myself? Wow. That’s a whole lifetime journey. But today, you know, who am I? I am the good spirit who radiates love. Awesome. That is my life purpose and it’s who I am to the core.
Karuna: A good spirit who radiates love.
Jonathan: It’s who I am, you know, I know one of the things I’m going to talk about is the self-love revolution and it’s one of the things that I work with people on since they worked with me on it. To be clear, I didn’t make all this up, but it’s how we show up in life and how we make decisions. We all get so overwhelmed with everything. I never really have to make a decision of whether I should do something or not, I just simply say if someone throws an option out at me and said, I’m the good spirit who radiates love, I see if whatever someone threw at me resonates with a good spirit and then I get to say yes or no, even though a part of me wants to be nice and say yes, and in whatever it is, you just go, no. I have a long story of who I am, but at this moment. That’s who I am.
Karuna: And you say it like a sankalpa in action. It’s a statement of being.
Jonathan: It’s a statement of being with something that being does. Right. So it is who I am and it’s to be clear, you know, it’s kind of a picture of my future self. You know, one of the things we do is we picture who we are becoming. And there’s a whole journey to get there. We picture who we are becoming so much the good spirit at every moment. No, I do the best I can, and it’s a guidepost for me to move forward to this person in life and relationships and career and family and any path in health, in any path there is. It’s a guiding. It’s a guidepost.
Karuna: I love it, it’s actually that’s how my name works, so I wasn’t born Karuna and I was born Kelly Marie Vohs and then I was given a set of vows. And part of my vow name is Karuna. And many people take those vows and never use their name nominally with other people. But Karuna means compassion. And am I compassionate? Anyone who knows me would say, hell, no, I’m not compassionate all the time. But it is a reminder that I aspire to be compassionate at all times. And it’s a really nice keep yourself in check sort of way of being.
Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, it’s a really important point because most of us live our life according to values that other people have set up for us. Our parents instilled their values, teachers instilled their values. The marketing messages we see every day, you know, by the latest iPhone, the old one isn’t good anymore, all that kind of stuff. You know, we live according to other people’s values and we need to rediscover, not discover because you knew what they were when you were a kid, but rediscover what our values are and then live according to our own values. That’s what brings joy.
Karuna: Totally, and if not for joy, what? So I should just say that this is Meditation, Happy Hour Tea Talking Truth with Karuna, which is my podcast and you’re my guest today, which is amazing. And one of the things that we’re going to get into and we’re just going to do it right, right off the bat here is you are all about self-love. And so why don’t you just tell us a little bit about self-love and how you became sort of a self love revolutionary.
Jonathan: So I want to be clear, it was not always this way. I spent 20 years in Hollywood, I worked in the music business, worked in the entertainment business. And the truth is, I was living the life that I had planned for myself. I was interviewing the biggest stars in the world, just what I wanted to do. I mean, I was meeting my idols. It was really a blessing. And I was having great times. I lived three blocks from the beach. I could see the sun set outside of my window. I could have my feet in the water in 10 minutes. It was on paper. It was all there, right? Everyone wants to achieve the six figures, so that was there, too. Everything was there on paper. But there is still something inside of me that was unhappy and it took me a while to figure out because, you know, you meet people and I was single at the time. So I go on dates and and see what I’m doing. And then all you’re producing this now. How cool. So it really blew my ego up. Huge, huge ego. But I was my biggest enemy. I was my biggest bully. At the end of the day, every day I didn’t know what I was doing it at the time. I only discovered it later. But at the end of the day, every day I would look in the mirror and I would go over everything that went wrong or that I screwed up or made a mistake. Big ones, but also the little ones, I’d say interviewed someone and go, hey, you should have asked that question. I’d ignore all the great conversation we have. And I focus on the one question that I did ask and shouldn’t have or I forgot to ask but wanted to or whatever it might be, you know, maybe a follow up didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to go. I’d beat myself up all day about it. And then I couldn’t go on anymore. I left the entertainment business without knowing what the heck I was going to do. Truly now I was lucky I had sold assets of a company, so I was lucky and had money in the bank. So I spent a year figuring out what I was going to do for the rest of my life. And I did a lot of research on what makes successful people and how they live, what they do, and not just success in the bank. Because I had that and I knew a lot of other people who were wealthier than I was also beating themselves up. And this is what I learned, is that we’re all sitting here beating ourselves up. We’re comparing ourselves to other people who are on different parts of the path. And every day you say you’re not good enough, you screwed that up and I know I’m not the only one. So then I went on a search of how to manage that, and at first I got a lot of good tools, I learned confidence tools, I learned that taking massive action tools and I learned all these great, great tools, you know, working with your inner critics and saboteurs, all this amazing stuff, all of which I do every day and all of which I teach in the program, we clear very important tools. But something was always missing with me and even with the clients at the time, we’d have great successes. And then we fall back down like six months later. We have great successes and we fall back down until I discovered the one thing that I was missing, the missing link to all of this was self compassion. So I still take action. Still have gratitude. I have all I still manage my inner critics, I still utilize my inner team and my inner powers. And I add a huge, massive dose of self-love at the end of the day, I look in the mirror and I say, good job, Jonathan, and a lot of crap went on. Good days, bad days. Right. And every day is a mixture of good things and bad things. That’s just every day. There’s a lot of good stuff that happens, a lot of bad stuff that happens, or maybe not bad stuff, but things that did not go according to your plan. So acknowledge the things that didn’t go according to plan. And I celebrate all the things I did well. And I literally say to myself, Jonathan, I love you and accept you just as you are. I wanted to the first time I said in the mirror. Jonathan, I love you. That was the day I learned that I didn’t like myself, I didn’t know it until that day. I, I think I was online like something like this. And someone was talking about self-love. It was Louise Hayes work. Right. And look in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself, OK? I’ve been practicing yoga for a decade plus and I’m going to go to the mirror. And John, I couldn’t look at myself in the eyes and I couldn’t say the words. And that’s when I discovered I had a problem. And that’s when I started practicing and what I found was there are all these disparate elements, so I found taking action here and I found in the critics here and I found gratitude here and eventually forgiveness was the last thing I added. But the most important. I found forgiveness over here. And I have a daily forgiveness practice every day, like brushing my teeth every single day. I forgive myself and everybody else in the world and I can give you the whole way I do it if you want, but every single day I forgive. It’s like brushing my teeth. And so I had all these different pieces and they were all necessary. But no one gave the whole package, the massive action. Folks didn’t talk about self-love and self kindness, the self-love folks. And God bless it because I’d be a mess without it. Didn’t talk about how to take inspired action and didn’t talk about money, mindset and relationships with money and things like that. So I said, this is crazy. And I decided I started doing all the practices first. I organize them for myself. I said, you got to figure all this out. And one thing, I organize it for myself, OK? Oh holy shit. Am I allowed to say that here? Holy, holy, holy. And I put it all together and I called it the soft love revolution, and I taught it to people here in the place I’m sitting in now. I’m in our yoga studio. It’s in Austin, Texas. I taught it here and I’m picturing the people who are at that first one, just such a massive transformation, beautiful transformation. And people still tell me about it, and I’ve taught it since then and now I’m just going on and on, it’s incredible to experience a transformation. I’ll be clear, it takes practice. You don’t do it once and you’re done just like you don’t brush your teeth once and you’re done. You stop brushing your teeth, your teeth will rot. You stop the practice. You go back to the stories. But it is immensely powerful. And I’m so excited to share this with you.
Karuna: Yeah. And it’s so timely. I’ll tell you, we have a it’s called an intensive. It could also be called a teacher training, but I chose to call it an intensive on Mind Oasis. And I have twenty three really brave souls who signed up and are a part of it. And it’s interesting, each week there is at least a handful who send me a text and say that they’ve had a hard day or that they aren’t feeling that great or some other reason that they can’t attend. I have no problem with that. Life happens. Well, what’s interesting to me is I never let anyone off the hook the first time. So I’ll say to them, you’re welcome to just phone in. You don’t have to be on camera. You don’t have to participate if you just want to be able to, like, kind of squeeze the juice out of the lemon this week. The ones who are brave enough to do it or, you know, have the spaciousness to do it so frequently do participate kind of confessed to a story around whatever they had going on in their life and an almost like an inability to face themselves because they were beating themselves up and beating yourself up is crippling. And so frequently what I get is a little text afterwards that says, I’m so happy I came. I feel so much better. And the words I heard were just what I needed and what I’m hearing from you is that’s kind of an external circumstance and external validation of something that they already had within them. But what I’m hearing from you about the self-love revolution is that you’re giving folks the daily tools that they need in order to find that for themselves.
Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, you said something really important that beating yourself up is crippling. And in general and I’m not talking about the individual instances where someone is attacked and they’re violent things going on and those they happen way too often. They’re horrific. And in general, we are our biggest bullies. We beat ourselves up and we cripple, literally cripple ourselves into not showing up. Right. You have this event. I’m not going to show up because I’m here and I’m going to just sit here and I’ll continue to beat myself up. And what the self-love revolution is and what the practice of self-love is in its simplest form is you stop fighting with yourself. You begin the practice, what’s mindfulness? Mindfulness is simply the practice of accepting the present moment as it is so that this present moment, including your pain, don’t fight your anger, don’t say anger go away, say “anger I see you. I hear you. And I will be here for you as long as you need me to be here.” Now, those are from the mindfulness teachings. I didn’t make that up. But we have to begin to treat ourselves in this fashion, you know, we’re taught don’t cry, don’t be angry, you know, all this stuff. No, I’ve never met a person that hasn’t cried. I’ve never met a person that hasn’t gotten angry. So how can we allow ourselves to experience the gamut of emotions without beating themselves up and over time actually becoming your friend, can you actually become your best friend, the one that holds you and supports you now? Yes, in the beginning. Look, we need community and we go to others for that. Can you be your own best friend and when you are, it allows you to be a greater friend for other people, the judgments begin to, I won’t say disappear, but become less powerful when you’re kind to yourself, your last judgment of others like all this animosity going on in the world today, huh? Oh, my God. It’s from people who honestly don’t like themselves. Now they’ll say on camera, they’ll say, Oh yeah, I love myself, but there’s nobody who really practices kindness and compassion for themselves speaks with such vitriol and anger because you can’t because you see the other human beings, even those that you may a part of you still hate and detest, you see humanity in them. We’re all human. So this is a practice of accepting yourself first, stop fighting with yourself and eventually loving yourself.
Karuna: So it’s interesting, I’m with you, but I am a bold, courageous person that is a part of who I am. I couldn’t possibly have started Mind Oasis or survived the last three years without being both bold and courageous and perhaps even a little foolhardy. But there are people who would not identify as courageous. And to me, in order to sort of start to look within at even the fact that we’re unkind to ourselves takes a degree of courage. Would you agree with that?
Jonathan: Absolutely. And here’s the thing. Courage is a practice. There are people, there are courageous people and courageous people, people are born courageous. And I’ll give you some people are more adventurous than others at birth. Yes, we all have different DNA. Courage is not lack of fear. It’s not the definition. People running into burning buildings, they are not fearless. They have fear and they take action anyway. I am afraid every day of my life I can’t say that back in the old days because I avoided fear, because they taught me fear was bad. Be fearless. No. Fear is a guidepost for something amazing. Fear is an opportunity to practice courage. Anything you practice, you get better at. Courage is a practice. The more you practice, the better you get. And in terms of that fear of going inward, holding you back. One of the managers of the program is Turn Fear into a Friend. I’m going to change it one day, but I have to redo some stuff. It’s really changed here to a superpower because fear is a superpower when you can harness the power of fear from what it was doing, holding you back to encourage you your whole life changes because think of it, every amazing thing that you’ve done was on the other side of fear. You look back at your life, it wasn’t the fear right there and said, I don’t know, I do. And he said, OK, I’m going to do it. Maybe it’s baby steps. Maybe it was a big step. But then it got to the other side and he said, Oh. Every great thing you seek to do is on the other side of fear, and the only way to get there is to practice courage.
Karuna: Amazing. All right, so I think I’ve seen a video of you either Ted talking or south by Southwest saying, is this true? South by Southwest? Yes. So I’ll put a link to the video so that people can get to know you even a little bit more. You’re also going to be my guest during our online retreat, which is the weekend of the 16th, your Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Central, which I think is the 17th of October. So it’s coming up very quickly. And you’re there for about 45 minutes an hours. You’ll be sharing some of these proponents of self-love.
Jonathan: So excited for that. And we’re going to share real tools. You know, I’ll share some of what I shared today, of course, because repetition is necessary. You have to hear this stuff over and over and over in order for it to penetrate into your subconscious. And to be clear, what we’re doing is reprogramming your subconscious belief system. Yes, it’s scary practice, courage, your life changes, so we’re going to go over some of the why it works, why it’s important. I don’t know how many activities we’ll really be able to do, but we’re going to sink into some stuff that you can really do and you can take home with you and start practicing that day.
Karuna: Amazing. OK, and then the really amazing things going to happen starting on October 25th, we’re going to have self-love church on Sunday mornings, the self-love revolution masterclass with Jonathan and it’s, I think, an eight week series. And so you are going and it’s two hours a session, am I right?
Jonathan: 90 minutes to two hours, depending. When I show up for stuff, I give and I can’t give any more. So often there’ll be someone, a person or two that needs personal coaching because some of these are you have to experience it. And it also helps to witness other people experiencing it. So people will go through the materials, people will get coached in front of you. So you can in that moment see how the materials work. And to be clear, you will have to do the work. You’re doing the work. I can’t do the work for you. I wish I could, but really, I wish someone could have done the work for me, but they couldn’t. So I did the work. You have to do the work. But yeah, show ups would be 90 minutes, two hours, however long it needs to go for you to get what you need out of it.
Karuna: So what I love about this is the timing of your series, we talked about potentially doing this in the beginning of 2021. But here’s the thing. 2020 for most of us has been slightly chaotic, maybe even completely chaotic. For a lot of people, this has felt like a real topsy turvy time. I think the world is always topsy turvy. It just might be a little bit of a pressure cooker at the moment. So what I love about this is that you’re actually offering people a tool that works for shifting stuck stagnant energy into something else of their own volition, but through a mechanism that has worked for you.
Jonathan: Yes, and not just me. I mean this is packaged it in a different way, right? Taken all these these disparate elements. But let me be clear also. None of this is new, this is all thousands of years old. All of it, all of it, all of it, all of it, you can Google it all yourself, you can find all the information out there. I do believe it’s in an easier, digestible manner that we have here.
Karuna: You went from the music industry in your own self exploration and that’s part of your qualification. But what else have you been up to in the world between now and then? You know, you mentioned that you’re at your yoga studio in Austin. Talk a little bit about your your journey to becoming a teacher of self-love.
Jonathan: So I left the entertainment business, like I mentioned before, just it wasn’t building me up. At the time what I discovered was I was living other people’s values. I was doing shows other people wanted me to do, I was in some of them I really didn’t like and didn’t honor my values. They really didn’t honor what I want to do. And I started working for entertainment and I put the network down. Great people there. But some of the shows that I was asked to work on we kind of had to find the salacious side of celebrity and find out when they’re hurting and when they’re falling down and highlight those pieces of their lives. And I didn’t really like doing that. It felt icky to me. And eventually it got so icky that I couldn’t do it anymore. So I just left. And then I rediscovered my values, which I knew as a kid. I mean, the reason I got into the entertainment world, the original radio, I remember I was in junior high, I was more the Pickton guy. And I remember going home one day and feeling like crap. And then I turn on the radio, the deejay says something plays a songs when they had DJs and I had a smile on my face. And I said, that’s what I want to do. I want to put a smile on people’s faces. So I went into radio, I had a radio part of my career that I went to and I don’t know if you want to go into the whole thing, but I spent 20 years in the entertainment business. And I forgot about that value, that was not my goal anymore, wasn’t to do that, my goal was to climb the ladder from producer to supervising producer to executive producer. And I climbed in my bank account, and that’s what I was told I was supposed to do. And I’m not putting down money. Money is a good thing. The more money you have, the more great things you can do in the world and contribute to others. So awesome. But it didn’t make me happy. So, OK, so I left and then I took I took this class and then I learned about values. And I rediscovered that my goal is to bring a smile to people’s faces. So what I do now is I help people find the joy inside of themselves, whereas before you spoke about external and internal before so as a radio DJ or a TV producer or I was interviewing, I broadcast concerts for a while and interview bands and broadcast concerts, bringing music out to people that was external. That was great. And except for those horrible shows that made people feel terrible about themselves because they weren’t as good as other people. The last show I produced was for entertainment was Forbes wealthiest women in Hollywood. Which to me was basically a show that says you’re not good enough because you don’t have the houses that Judge Judy and Oprah and all these people have. Last show I ever produced on television. So I had an external framework of I’m going to play a song on the radio or I’m going to get this band online and we’re going to do this great thing and bring joy to people. And it was great. And people would email us and they loved it. It was awesome. But now I do it differently because the joy doesn’t have to come from outside of you, because that joy is fleeting. It goes away because when the song’s over or that experience is gone, when that person is gone. The joy is gone, so this is a practice of how to find the joy inside of yourself. From within you and then you can access it. Any time, any day and even when you’re struggling. It’s not a world that you’re either happy or sad. Right. And I’ll go into teaching the four stages of happiness, but real fulfilled happiness does not just count sadness because you can’t live a happy, joyous life without sadness. It wouldn’t happen. That’s the journey.
Karuna: It’s an amazing journey and people are going to love it. I’m very excited for the series, so we skipped over a few things I do with with everyone for every Meditation Happy Hour. But I’m not going to let you off the hook for my final question, which is probably the most important one. So, Jonathan, what’s your truth?
Jonathan: My true truth is I’m the good spirit who radiates love. And I have no idea. And that’s OK, that I have no idea. Because every time I have discovered the truth. I have later found something deeper. I don’t know what next year’s truth will be. Right now, it’s a self love revolution. There is no truth except love.
Karuna: We talk a lot about love on Mind Oasis, I posit that we are love. And that were never anything other than love, even when it looks sideways.
Jonathan: And we’re born to share that with other people. And that’s why we’re here together and there are outside forces that don’t want you to do that because it makes them a lot of money. And I wish them well, but it takes away not just your power. But it takes away your love. And you’re the reason you are here on this planet right now. Is to love yourself and to love others. If that weren’t the case, you’d have your own planet. Seven billion people on this planet take many more billions of planets out there in the various universes. We don’t have our own planet. But we were all put here together. So that we could love ourselves and love each other.
Karuna: I love it, we’re working it out on this planet Earth. So self-love revolution master class starts on the 25th of October with Jonathan Troen, we will put a link up to your South by Southwest talk. We’ll put a link up to register for the master class and you can find out more at mindoasis.org. Jonathan, thank you.
Jonathan: Thank you so much. What a joyous conversation. I won’t lie. I am curious about what those other questions were that I missed, but I really love.
Karuna: Yeah, so I always ask people, how the heck did you start your day? I like to know what the day has looked like so far.
Jonathan: Oh, how do I start my day, I peed. And then in the bathroom I told you about my first experience trying to look in the mirror and telling myself I love John. I told you I couldn’t say it, but now I practice it so much that it’s a habit. I walk by any mirror anywhere and I look in the mirror. I say, good job, Jonathan. I love you. I do whatever. I do it in the airport. If I look in the mirror every mirror I walk by. I send myself, lovingkindness.
Karuna: Amazing. I love it. Every bird, I hear, I try to remember to send out compassion. So when I hear the song of the birds, I try to remember that it’s a song of compassion. I forget. I remember. And then I forget it isn’t ingrained as much as you looking in the mirror. But it’s something that since I was in Hawaii in August that I’ve been trying to practice. I love that. And when the wind blows and I can remember the feeling of the air on my skin, that everything changes, that everything is workable because everything changes.
Jonathan: Yeah. Oh I feel chills. Nice.
Karuna: Yeah. It helps. Right. It’s helpful to have these little sensory reminders. OK, so the other thing I usually do is I’ll say it’s Talk and Truth with Karuna, we got through the talk, we now got through the truth. So the question is, do you have any tea? And I’m drinking water today.
Jonathan: It’s water, it is delicious.
Karuna: Water is the source of life. That’s right. Jonathan, thank you again. Have a great rest of your day.
Jonathan: Thank you so much. We’ll see everybody next time.
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