003. Thomas Droge: Body work, writing, and parkour culture

003. Thomas Droge: Body work, writing, and parkour culture

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Thomas Droge discusses balance and falling, as well as the physical and mental implications of each. He unpacks his thoughts on recovery, body work, injury and eastern and western medicine. Thomas also shares about the book he’s writing, his goals, and finishes with his thoughts on the culture of parkour. 

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Guest Introduction

Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.

Thomas: And I’m Thomas Droge.

Craig: And this is Parkour, They Said. Thomas has been practicing Tai Chi and Qigong and many other consciousness awakening practices for the past 30 years. He’s been a healer, an acupuncturist, a bodyworker, a herbalist, a truth teller, and spirit whisperer for the past 20 years. He’s taught Chinese medicine, Qigong, and meditation classes across the country and has attended numerous trainings in Daoism, Chinese medicine, meditation, and healing, and [00:00:30] of course he practices Parkour. Welcome Thomas.

Thomas: Hey, what’s happening?

Craig: We’re doing a podcast recording.

What else would you like to share?

Craig: So, one of the goals of our project is to connect people’s personal Parkour practice to the larger aspects of their life, their personal interpretation of their Parkour to the other things that they know. And I have a quote from you that I want to read, it’s not a trap, and the quote is:

The misconception is that there is one way to do it, or that once your discover balanced, you are done. What we learn from [00:01:00] Tai Chi and Qigong is that balance is a dynamic state of transformation that we must experience, adapt, and respond to, and experience again, and again. This is the practice of finding the infinite in the moment.

So, what I’d like to do is just have your thoughts on that, and maybe help me unpack that a little bit for everybody.

Thomas: It’s a good quote.

Craig: Thank you. I only copied it, I didn’t actually write it.

Thomas: Yeah, so I think the problem that everyone comes up against is that they seek balance [00:01:30] as a static state, as an arrival point, as an end game. And if you’ve ever balanced on anything, which is at least half of what we do in Parkour, the process is a constant micro-adjustment of the environment, and yourself. Right?

Craig: Your physical and internal process. So, why would I think that’s a static thing?

Thomas: I’d say to a listener right now, pick your right foot up off the ground, and tell me how calm it is to balance. [00:02:00] And the answer is, at first it’s not very calm, but once I stop thinking about everything else and just focus in on balancing, the amount of attention it takes to stay balanced allows you to obliterate all the other thoughts in your mind, and you get into this awake conscious state really fast. So, to be in any kind of balance state, especially if it’s new, is incredibly [00:02:30] valuable to bring you into this moment. And because the moment is in constant change, that’s why we call it infinite, right? There’s no, you can’t grab hold of it and then be there. The second you’re there, it’s gone and you’re in the next one, and that’s this awake kind of living. And balance is the fastest way to enter into that space.

Craig: But that’s also a space that you could conceivably enter into through martial arts practice. You could decide we’re going to perform this physical repetition over and over [00:03:00] and over until you lose yourself in it. There are other ways to get to that state. But balance is particularly fertile ground.

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, if you think of the term balance as a dynamic adaptation, it can be a conversation with your partner over like a difficult issue where you’re constantly both adjusting to try and balance each other’s viewpoint of this material in the middle. Like maybe when I’m on time, you think it’s late, you know, and all of the sudden you [00:03:30] realize that your projection into that moment changes the viewpoint of the information to balance with your partner, with another person is to link the two of you to a separate central balance point in the middle, and then you can play that game with another person. And it’s the same thing physically when you hold someone’s hand and both lean back.

Craig: Right, right. And you and I talked earlier about there’s that balance in just a very simple superficial level in conversation where if you say to your kids as they’re heading out into the streets, “Stop! Don’t…,” [00:04:00] and the communication can either be perceived as an aggressive one way transfer of energy or ideas. And you had pointed out that actually there’s a subtler, deeper level to the communication. Yeah, you’re actually saying things like, you know, “Don’t get injured, I love you, I want you to live,” not “Don’t cross the street.”

Thomas: Right, right.

Craig: And I’ve had situations in cars where people are arguing in the front seat, and the driver’s thinking we’re talking about the factual speed of the car, and the passenger is talking about you’re scaring me, and they’re disconnecting, and [00:04:30] they’re just not balanced there.

Thomas: Yeah, that hidden message that every time a parent screams at a child in any way to save them from something. Yeah, they’re screaming, “I love you, and I desperately want you to live like a happy, fulfilled life.”

Craig: Right, right. That’s an excellent point.

Thomas: Yeah it’s also, we talk about falling a lot in class, and that’s another thing that we like to do is to … And it’s funny because we just came out of class of falling yesterday. But, that process of being able to fall in all kinds [00:05:00] of ways. And as much as you can, at least, try to let go of a prescribed pattern to land in. That puts you in that space of new information all the time too. And that also throws you into the moment. So, any way that you can create an un-repetitive experience, yeah novel experience. Even if you’re doing a repetitive motion, right? Seek the novelty within the repetitive motion, and then you keep coming back into the moment, and that’s how you activate those [00:05:30] flow awareness states.

What else would you like to share?

Craig: Everybody who does Parkour eventually becomes this self-administering, self-medicating, self-physiotherapist sort of practitioner, and we all have inappropriate relationships with our foam rollers and Lacrosse balls and stuff like that. And what I want to know is, do you have any specific suggestions in the vein of sort of the recovery aspect of training? Which some people just completely skip, and like for example, I’ve heard about what they call Dit Da Jow, if I’m pronouncing that correctly, and there are other some basic [00:06:00] things that are a little beyond myofascial release, and basic massage. I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about maybe from the Chinese medicine point of view?

Thomas: I still want to know what inappropriate relationships with your foam rollers means?

Craig: That’s when you’re in the other room with your foam roller, and your spouse arrives, and goes, “What are those noises you are making?!”

Thomas: Yeah, you’re forced, I think the maybe the first thing that people who don’t know it should know is that bodywork’s usually painful if it’s any good at all. [00:06:30] And on some level physical people must have a bit of a masochistic streak. Or something like that. Yeah, Dit Da Jow is the old hit medicines that came out of the martial arts traditions. Every culture has some version of it, but mine are Chinese because that’s my medical training, and they are always this combination of some kind of vasodilator, some kind of vasoinhibitor, [00:07:00] and then these different agents that will either thin the blood, or quicken the blood, or cause a fluid to pass across the skin and draw out of the surface of the tissue.

Craig: And I think if I understand correctly about the Chinese medicine, the sort of big picture strategy is the liniments aren’t necessarily the way we think of it in western medicine. “Ow, I have a pain, take a pain killer,” but the Chinese medicine is usually a balance, where there’s components that are meant to, one [00:07:30] is meant to steer the system in a direction that is the “fix,” with quotes around “fix,” and then there’s also components which are meant to keep the system balanced once it gets over there. So, you don’t want just drastic swing to, “Now I feel no pain.”

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, so the classical saying is, “Where there is pain, there is stagnation,” and then the question for an injury becomes, “Well, what kind of stagnation is it?” So, if you have like a small bruise, or you bang yourself, or you’re sore after working out, that’s usually what we would call Chi stagnation, which is, the muscle’s been worked, there’s micro-tears in the tissue, [00:08:00] there’s a little bit of strain in the tendons. It’s the normal, what we would call, healing inflammatory process. So, the wound healing process, the first phase of wound healing is inflammation.

Craig: Right, and that’s a local process. It’s just the cells are physically crushed, and that releases chemicals, and then things respond. It’s not like the brain says, “Oh, there’s damage over there.”

Thomas: Yeah, no, it just happens. It’s like if you put water on a piece of toast, it’ll soak it up.

Craig: Mmmm… Toast…

Thomas: That’s a strange [00:08:30] analogy. But anyways, so, there’s a process at hand and as usually with Chinese medicine, because the medicine’s developed around analogs in nature, it’ll look at that and say like, “Oh, well how does nature handle that?” And then, if it’s like a young tree that gets bent over in a wind storm and it bends but it doesn’t snap all the way open, then that’s like a sprain, that’s not a fracture, right. So, it’s going to require a certain amount of restorative fluid but it’s not going to [00:09:00] have to be splinted, or like cut and reset, or something like that.

So, to look at your body as a landscape, that way when you injure it, and say, “Okay, well if I smash myself on the ground, and I immediately swell up and turn red in that location, and I can’t move very much,” then that means that the level of injury is pretty severe. So, you have to stop what you’re doing, and then you need to assess it. What’s happened in our medicine is that you would wrap with [00:09:30] Dit Da Jow, and you’d maybe put some kind of support on it like a little ACE bandage or something like that; and then you’d start to gently explore and move through the different potential range of motions, and see how it’s recovering. Then you take internal herbs to support the process on the inside, and increase the body’s ability to shunt blood into that area, because blood’s like the main tool for recovery.

Craig: Right. And sometimes you might want the body, you might actually want it to overreact, in the sense that, “I’m not in love with the reaction [00:10:00] level. This isn’t going to heal fast enough,” so I actually need to psych my nervous system and those things into reacting with a larger magnitude response. So, you might take things like, is it camphor or –

Thomas: Yeah, camphor’s a big one.

Craig: You know, which actually makes the body go, “Whoa,” you know, like respond to that, and you’re really just tweaking the tools.

Thomas: Yeah, so there’s a book called “The Body Electric,” where they talk about the current of energy. Where this guy practiced, he’s an MD who was looking at fractures that wouldn’t heal, and [00:10:30] he went around snapping the legs of lots of frogs. Terrible. But that was how they tested to look for what was happening. Because they started by cutting off salamander tails and watching them grow back, and they were trying to figure out how it happens; and they found that there’s this electrical current in your body, and there are concentrations at the main nerve clusters at the neck and at the hips that are very positive, and then moving out towards the exterior they get more and more negative. But then when you have an injury, [00:11:00] you get a sudden increase at that site of a particular frequency.

Craig: Electrical potential.

Thomas: Yeah, it’s like 10 megahertz or something like that. Millihertz, I don’t know. Anyway, read the book.

Craig: Read the book.

Thomas: Becker. But what happens is that charge draws the body in, and it only lasts for a certain amount of time. And in chronic injuries or injuries that are there longer, if you stimulate the nervous system, it’s kind of like creating that –

Craig: Begin that process again.

Thomas: Yeah. So, that’s the same [00:11:30] thing with bodywork where they dig into you, it’s a pro-inflammatory process.

Craig: Right.

Thomas: Where they create inflammation to tell your body that something is going on there, and then your body fixes the whole area because it doesn’t differentiate.

Meet the team: Kristen

I love the Movers Mindset project because it gives me the opportunity to connect with movers from all over the globe, and interact with people I would never have gotten a chance to meet otherwise. I think the project is very unique in that way; it uses the resources each of us has and gives us a platform to connect on a deeper level.

~ Kristen – Project manager

What are your goals?

Craig: Thomas, what are some of your current goals? And by that, I mean, it can be work goals, like I know you’re working on your business in New York City. But also, people have a lot of personal goals, relationship goals, goals with your kids. Or if you want, goals specific to Parkour.

Thomas: I like all of those.

Craig: Okey-dokey. [00:12:00] I try.

Thomas: Yeah, I only have one real goal at this point in my life and maybe that’s smarter than I used to be, I hope, which is to just continue to evolve and explore. And even though that sounds really simple, I apply it to everything.

Craig: That doesn’t sound simple to me. I don’t know what the listeners are thinking, but that sounds complicated.

Thomas: So, I’m writing this book, it’s just about done. It was a great exploration for me to write a book, [00:12:30] and to be in that space and take my thoughts about bodywork and put them all down.

Craig: Actually, word-smith, is that your first book that you’re –

Thomas: It’s my first non-fiction book, anyway. And it’s the first one I’ll publish, so that makes it my first book, really, out in the world.

Craig: I was just fishing to see if you were like a novelist under a pen name that I didn’t know about.

Thomas: I am, but not a published pen name.

Craig: Oh, okay.

Thomas: We’re not going to get into that book though. But the book that’s going to come out, it’s called “Elemental Bodywork,” [00:13:00] and the funny thing is I used to say that it was the book I started because I thought it would be the safe book to write, and the book that I really want to write is this other book that’s more on the spiritual transformation path that we all walk through in life called “The Field.” But it turns out that as I’ve written this bodywork book, which forced me to really admit to myself what I think is important about bodywork and what I think is not important, and the way that my mind [00:13:30] works is that when I try to understand something, I look for the through lines in it that fit in with everything else that I know and that are true through every aspect of a thing. So, when I went into the bodywork book, I found these six principles of all bodywork, everywhere, and then I was like, “Oh, okay. So everything exists within these. That’s easy. I can handle that.”

Craig: And then it’s just word-smithing. Not.

Thomas: And then from there the five elements are the rubric upon [00:14:00] which we look at different bodies, and minds, and spirits, and how they come in and out of balance, and that’s what the whole book is. But the thing that happened, unexpectedly I guess, was that as this goal keeps pushing me up and down the sine wave of development as I’m writing the book, suddenly elemental bodywork also shows me elemental medicine, and elemental Qigong, and we practice in New York at the [00:14:30] Element Center. And at some point I realized that I could create a through line through everything I do connected to the –

Craig: The book is just one point of the… uh-oh.

Thomas: … elemental transformations and that makes every time I approach something it has this central theme, and so then I just started to see the whole thing as the periodic table. And each thing was just a different element. And then I thought about Chinese Qigong, which is all about internal alchemy and the elemental charts, and I was like, “Oh, so I see. This is like the alchemical [00:15:00] transformation of life that you move through in these different practices.” And all that came out of writing the book. So, the goal of writing the book, which was to –

Craig: What you thought was a, “This is a straightforward goal. I can do this.”

Thomas: Right. And then it turns into this other thing, and that’s how it always happens, for me. I think it’s pretty common that it happens to us that way, even if we don’t realize it.

Craig: I agree. I was trying to write. I write short form stuff. I was trying to write about goals, and I quickly realized it’s like, you know what works best? When I have a bunch of goals, then they’re [00:15:30] out in front of me in a spread, and they basically pull me in a certain direction. But as soon as the path I’m on is veering, “Oh, I’m going to go that way,” it’s time to move the goals. And you never want to get to the goals.

There’s this great story about the Apollo program, and they tried to run the first simulations on the computer programs, and the computers crashed before they got the space craft to the goals. They realized, “Well, it’s a problem of finite adjustments and as the time goes to 0, everything blows up.” So, they just moved the goals. It’s like that’s why there are all these scenes in movies about them stopping and having to re-key [00:16:00] their positions, because they would just reset the computers, and like, “Well, if we get any closer to the goals, it’d’ve been a problem.” So, I was like, “Oh, once again, somebody else figured this out before me.” So, yeah, I think having those multiple goals and letting this goal, I’ve injured my shoulders trying to reach little goals, and just like learning to, yeah, move toward the goal, and then when you feel you need a new goal just move the goal post.

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, you plan a trip, right, to go somewhere? The doing of the trip is never what you think it’s going to be. And that’s why the trip’s [00:16:30] interesting. The plan’s fun because you set this whole structure up of what you’re going to do, but you know after you’ve done it once, that the doing of it is a whole other animal.

Craig: Yep. Life is a journey.

Thomas: Life is a journey.

What are you working on now?

Craig: So, you have these goals. You’re working on your book, and then the goals get bigger and start shifting, and how do you break that apart? How do you accomplish that task and move toward this huge goal that you’re not really even sure how to wrap your brain around yet?

Thomas: Well, the way that it works for me is that I see the finished [00:17:00] experience, and I think, “I want to have had done that,” right. So, it’s in the past in a way in my mind, of like, “Oh, I want to have had done that,” and then I’ll be like, “How do I do that?” And then when I sit down and start breaking it down, I’m really good at kind of looking at the whole process and saying like, “Well, okay, first I’ll outline a book, and then I’ll make the outline, and then I’ll think a little bit about each part,” and usually somewhere around there I’ll [00:17:30] stop, and I’ll have done it in my mind enough that I feel kind of done. At that point I require these other people, and the other people are all the people in my life who have the skills that I don’t have, who often don’t have the same skills that I have, and we find each other. And together we are able to complete all of these tasks that we wouldn’t be able to do alone. So, I’m great at the big vision. They call [00:18:00] it, the people that I work with call it like, “Come into Thomas’s mystical dust, and explore the unlimited potential possibilities of what we want to do together.”

Craig: Right. There are no walls. There’s no box. There’s just this thinking space.

Thomas: Exactly. And then at some point they have to stop because they get really overwhelmed, because they’re thinking about how much time it takes to do every single part.

Craig: Yeah but, yeah but, yeah but, yeah but… how do I [crosstalk 00:18:23].

Thomas: Like The Bridge with Kevin Courtney, it has like nine different pieces to it that [00:18:30] we will probably never do, that I talk about all the time because, for me, they’re done if I’m thinking about them. So, I have people that keep me on task, I have, I mean, my wife saves me all the time from my own self-sabotage of just not getting things done. She’s like, “Did you get those chapters in, yet? Hun.” So, to know where your strengths are, and then find people who have the skill sets you don’t have and bring them [00:19:00] into the project. That realization that nothing is done alone that is great. That’s is always tons of us together that like make big things happen.

Craig: Those people are really treasures when you find them, because it’s not just they have the skills, they also have to fit, or they have to be accessible to you.

Thomas: Right. Yeah, because often they aren’t, right. Like if they have those other skill sets, you’re the kind of person that drives them crazy.

Craig: Right. Good luck with that collaboration.

Thomas: Yeah. But it’s, when you find them, it’s true, it’s really lucky, and it’s kind [00:19:30] of amazing because usually there’s enough crossover in the two personalities that you each have something that the other person wants to understand or wants to have in themselves as well. So, you kind of unlock it for each other even though you can’t do the other task.

Craig: Right, right. Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be, we’re talking about goals here like at this big grand scale, and this little micro-scale here of knowing that you have an unknown and you need to find somebody who can work with you. That works at like the daily practice level. There have been countless times where [00:20:00] people have said something to me, and I’ve been like, “What? You find that inspiring? What are you talking about? I hate that. I wish I could figure out how to stop doing that,” and they’re like, “I don’t understand how you do that,” and just like these little moments. You like to jump on rails, and this person is scared to death of rails, and suddenly you have the greatest three minute session on rails, and the two of you find something new in that space. So, it doesn’t have to be a goal like, “I want to be the first person on Mars,” or something; it can be a very localized, small goal.

Thomas: Yeah. It’s a really good point, actually.

What does your practice mean to you?

Craig: [00:20:30] So, one of the things that I find I have to work on a lot is learning how to accept assistance from people. I don’t mean like the physical lift up on a wall climb up or something, I’m great at that, “Here, give me a push.” But when people try to help me and I feel like I should know this material myself, and that’s something that I struggle with. When people want to just cheer you on or offer you some words of encouragement, I have trouble accepting that.

Thomas: Yeah, many of us do. I think for me it’s [00:21:00] not only that but also, as much as I don’t want to, I do walk around with a chip on my shoulder that I know a bunch of things or something, and like all of us I’ll often make assumptions about other people. I’ve had that experience, I remember once I was in class, and I’m 53 years old almost, in a month, and most of the people are about 30 years younger than me or more –

Craig: Right.

Thomas: … and we were doing [00:21:30] something, it was one of those day when I remember my son –

Craig: C-word?

Thomas: … asked me if, he looked at me like he was worried I was going to die or something because I was breathing so hard.

Craig: oh, yeah, we were doing conditioning. Right.

Thomas: And this other young guy came over to me and said, “Oh, you know if you breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, it’ll help you to recover faster,” and you know, for like a micro-second I had rage, and that I was followed up by, as quick as I could turn [00:22:00] it around from, who do you think you’re talking to? I know what I’m doing, to, oh, here’s this kid in this system of movement that instead of promoting competition or separation –

Craig: Yeah, he didn’t laugh at you.

Thomas: … he turned so to someone who’s 40 years older than him. I must look like a grandpa, practically, to him, and he was like, “I wonder if I could help this guy.” And that’s one of the cool things about Parkour versus almost all other systems that I’ve experienced of like these kind of sports, [00:22:30] like marital arts and all those things, is that the group teaches itself, right. Everybody reaches a hand out to someone and –

Craig: Yeah, it’s like a tribe, where we’re all living outdoors.

Thomas: Yeah, the intent! Yeah, it reminds me of like… Tribe’s a great term actually, because it reminds me of that even though there’s the elder, and even though this one’s the best hunter, and this one’s the best scout, and this one’s … Everybody has something, and everybody’s something is encouraged to come into the soup of the [00:23:00] group environment. They have this great phrase, which you love to say in French, which I don’t know how to say in French.

Craig: On commençe ensemble, on finit ensemble. We start together, we finish together.

Thomas: Right. And that experience of having that was like a huge ego crush for me because I think every time we did conditioning I was always the last person, even yesterday I was the last person and the finally Josh said, “Well, I think you can finish now,” or something like that.

Craig: And then you feel cheated, you’re like “Aww.”

Thomas: But that process of like, you know, you’re in your pushups [00:23:30] and you’re all alone, and then like someone gets down on each of side you and starts doing pushups with you to finish it out. There’s this feeling of like, I mean it’s almost like the Marines where there’s like no man left behind.

Craig: Right. They literally, a lot of people say that, that we don’t leave each other behind. For me personally, I’m always in the back. But now I find that if I am not dead last, my train of thought is, “Oops. What did I do wrong? That I made this exercise so easy on my lazy self that I left somebody behind.” I’m like, “I remember how [00:24:00] hard I worked on the first day. I don’t work that hard anymore. I don’t think I’ve seen many people who work as hard as they did on their first day. They work smarter now.” So, I always, if I’m the guy who doubles back to help someone, I’m always thinking like, “I’m sorry I left you behind,” not “Why are you so slow?” And from the other side of that, when I was the guy at the very end, I felt bad that people were coming to help me, and now I realize that that’s actually done out of like a big open heart. And they would hug me and lift me up if they knew, except they know that I would feel [00:24:30] cheated like, “No, I wanted to do the pushup.” So, I really think that community is … I don’t know that it’s unique, I’ve only done a certain number of other things, but it really is exceptional when you encounter that in Parkour.

Thomas: Yeah. I think it exists in other places depending on the culture that’s being developed by the leader of that group.

Craig: Yeah, that’s a good point about that.

Thomas: But it seems more built into the infrastructure of Parkour, at least in that language.

Craig: Yeah, it seems to generate those cultures. Yeah.

Thomas: And everybody eventually falls and does something to [00:25:00] themselves that’s quite painful and nobody’s immune to that, and I think that’s also known in the group that kind of the playing field’s level no matter what your skill level is.

Craig: Everybody’s human.

Is there a story you would like to share?

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

Craig: Thomas, is there a story that you would like to share with us?

Thomas: Yes, Craig.

Craig: Good, because I thought you were going to say, “No.”

Thomas: It’s funny the weight that comes with the phrase, “Is there a story you’d like to tell us?”

Craig: Right. What’s the statute of limitations on …

Thomas: Yeah, exactly. Right?

Craig: [00:25:30] In Arizona there’s a law –

Thomas: Motorcycle racing and … Right

Craig: I know, right. I miss those days.

Thomas: So, I’m a Chinese medicine doctor. I’ve been doing it forever. I spent a lot of time in my life, professionally, learning everything I could about western medicine, and everything I could about Chinese medicine, and trying to figure out everything I could possibly know about doctoring at this very [00:26:00] high level. Although I would always tell people that I was doing it because I wanted to be good at it, I was really doing it because I wanted to be smarter than the smartest people I knew in the field. Then I would spend my time trying to check in and see. So, I’d go hang out with really smart doctors or people with IQs over 160, and I’d hang out with them and I’d like test my knowledge all the time to see if I was keeping up.

And [00:26:30] I spent all this time in my life going around testing myself and other people. I ended up in this constant state of judgment of like, “Am I smart enough?” and “Are you smart enough?” And I would do both of these things. And I became really close with a local doctor here in the Lehigh Valley named Kristin Reihman, who’s amazing. She’s a family medicine doc, and we ended up doing a lot of training together in Lyme Disease. I would hang out with her and we [00:27:00] would talk about life at the hospital, and in private practice, and what’s it like for her to practice medicine, and all the sort of limitations that kept showing up in her life where she couldn’t do the things that I would do in a treatment room because the law was so strict around what a medical doctor could or couldn’t do.

I found myself spending time with her talking. And I remember, specifically, [00:27:30] sitting with her one day and we talking about Lyme Disease, and we were talking about medicine, and healing, and the whole process of how bodies, and people, and sprits all change, and she looked at me and she said, “Why do you spend all this time trying to show me what you know?” And she just caught me totally sideways, like “Why are you doing that? Like, you’re brilliant.” “But I’m just curious.”

And she was being [00:28:00] completely honest, and I said, “Oh, you noticed that.” And I started to talk to her about it, and she said, “Yeah. I think that,” she said, “You know, I think you’re brilliant. I think you’re incredible, but I think you don’t need to, I don’t think you need to do that,” and it was so interesting because she’s a very like gentle, giving person, and it was somehow, she gave me this permission to just accept [00:28:30] myself for who I am. Somehow that just flipped the switch in my brain, and the second she said that I realized that every place I’d been testing I was trying to be good enough, and then get someone to tell me I wasn’t bad. The second she did that I think I let go of like thirty things I was trying to do that I didn’t actually care about at all.

Craig: Crossed those right off.

Thomas: Including western medicine, which I was like, “I don’t actually care that much about western medicine.” I really don’t. And I [00:29:00] was like, “and that’s fine,” and I just got so free in that moment. And I mean, I can’t thank her enough, because it literally was, like for whatever reason in that moment in time, she just turned the key and this giant cage just sprung away from me, and all of a sudden I could be free to do anything I wanted to do, the way I wanted to do it, and that was great.

I want people to know that what you are, and who you are, and the way that you move through [00:29:30] the world, is the best way that you can be, and the less time that you spend trying to get some authorities approval, or run away from some fear of who you wish you hadn’t been in the past, or what you hadn’t done, or who other people thought you were, the more you can let go of all those things and just be you, the freer you will be and the more amazing you will be.

Three words to describe your practice?

Craig: Final question, [00:30:00] three words to describe your practice.

Thomas: I should try to be clever.

Craig: You can be … I love this. This is my favorite part of the whole podcast. You can be clever, you can be deep, you can be trite. Anything you’d like.

Thomas: Deep or trite. So my words are “Be Here Now,” which dovetails with that story actually pretty nicely in that, that’s all there is, [00:30:30] is what’s happening right now. The fear of the future or the regret of the past has no real bearing in their own place. Just what you’re doing right now.

If you’ve got somewhere you got to go, you need to start walking there. But walking there, means taking one step right now. Lao-Tze said like, “A thousand mile journey begins with a single step.” That process is so true, [00:31:00] and the way that horrible, difficult, incredibly long things become fun and easy, is when you just do the step you have to do now. And then you’re like –

Craig: Right. The hardest part is believing you can start.

Thomas: Yeah, you just take a step.

Craig: Thank you very much, Thomas!

Thomas: My pleasure, Craig. So good to be here.