28 Jan Pros & Cons of Mediation
This is from an interview conducted with Christian Bevacqua by Denecia Jones
Denecia: My name is Denecia and welcome to the show. On today’s episode we will chat about meditation, our meditation expert is Christian of Greentree meditation. Hi Christian.
Christian: Hi Denecia.
Denecia: It’s so great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. So you’ve been meditating for a while and you’re also an instructor. Can you tell us a little bit about your unique background?
Christian: Well, I was trained in the world of computer science and that world of computer science led me to wall street in the 1990s, and on wall street I worked for a firm that perhaps some of your listeners have heard of. It’s called Goldman Sachs and it’s considered to be one of the premier investment banks on wall street. And that experience led my 1990s to be now considered what I lovingly refer to as the bad old days. Where I was highly stressed and working all hours for traders doing technical consulting for people who were making very lucrative business deals and I was their technical support and I was also their software developer. So it was a time of high demand and high stress for me. And from there at the end of the 1990s, I decided that change was inevitable. And so I decided that I was going to move out to California because I needed to be near water.
Denecia: Warm water.
Christian: Well, I got the water part, I’m not so sure about the warm part.
Denecia: Florida is warmer, Miami is a little bit warmer.
Christian: Much warmer, but Atlantic is so much nicer. And so I came out to Venice, California, and I was deciding between Venice and San Francisco. And this was kind of at the height of the first internet bubble. And when I took a look at San Francisco, I decided that Venice was going to be much more suited to what I was looking for and one of the things that swayed the decision was I took my first ever yoga class. So you have to picture, this is now 1998. And I had no idea what yoga was. In fact, I said to one of my friends, I said, Hey, what’s yoga? And he goes Oh, it’s this great thing. And I was like, well what do you do? Well you should just come to a class. And I said, great. I said, well what do I bring and what do I wear? And he’s like, don’t worry about all that. Just wear a tee shirt and some shorts and bring a towel because you might sweat a little bit. And I did my first ever yoga class and that’s what convinced me that I needed to move to Southern California and be near the great yoga that was available. And so I practiced yoga for about seven years straight and I still practice today. And it was at the end of a yoga class that I was first introduced to meditation. And meditation, as taught at the end of the yoga class, is about 30 seconds of instruction and they all sit there and close their eyes and count your breaths and see if you can get a seven-second inhale and a seven-second exhale. And so all I ended up doing was counting faster, one 1000, two 1000, three 1000, four 1000, I did it, seven 1000. My body was completely uncomfortable sitting cross-legged on a hardwood floor on a tiny little skinny yoga mat. And my mind was filled with thoughts and I couldn’t clear my mind. And at that point in my life I decided that meditation was for the other people and not for me. I was like Oh can’t do this. I said, Oh, I’ve got the monkey mind. That’s an expression that’s very offensive to monkeys by the way because there’s no way that monkeys are thinking about the things we’re thinking about. Their mind jumping around like crazy. And then in 2005, I got very serious with, I need to actually do this meditation thing because I’ve been practicing yoga at that point for only on the better half of a decade. And now I knew that was preparation for the body so the mind could meditate, but I hadn’t really done it in any kind of satisfying way. And then I met my teacher and my teacher is a man by the name of Tom Knowles, who had been at that point meditating and teaching meditation for 4 years. And even that concept was a revelation to me. I was like, you can learn to meditate from a teacher. Like there’s more to this than sit down on the couch and try to turn your mind off. And my teacher explained to me that there are different techniques of practice and they all have different expected outcomes. And what I learned, which is called Vedic meditation, was a technique that is a transcending meditation technique. It helps you to step beyond thought as opposed to something like mindfulness, which helps you to kind of, in a sense, make friends with your thoughts and be present with your thoughts. This actually helps you to step beyond them. So I said, well, what I’ve been doing has been awful. This is, by the way, when there weren’t any apps and I wasn’t about to try a guided meditation because you know the whole thing about the Sandy beach and the unicorn walking on the beach and stuff. Not my cup of tea.
Denecia: Me either.
Christian: So I said I’ll give this a try. I have nothing to lose. And my experience was after the first week of doing it consistently, I felt lighter. I felt happier, I felt a big difference. And so I remember saying to myself, where was this when I was in high school? Where was this when I was in college? Where was this when I was on wall street, I needed this then. But now, here it came to me and then the true litmus test came after about six months of meditating, I went to go visit my parents. Now to put a little framework around this my parents are dyed in the wool, Brooklyn, Italians. If you’ve ever seen the television series, the Soprano’s remove all the gangsterism, all the other mannerisms are my family to a T. And I remember them saying after I was there for about a day and a half, I kind of had to slip away and do a little meditation and they said, Oh, that’s what it is. I was like, what do you mean? And they said we noticed a difference in you. So whatever it is that you’re doing, keep on doing it. And then I said, well, great, and I have some news for you. I’m thinking about becoming a meditation teacher. And my dad looked at me and he said, I better not catch you at the airport with the tambourine. I Said, dad, don’t worry about that, that’s not this kind of a technique. But anyway…(Laughter)
Denecia: Well at least he knew something about it. He was like, I know what these people do. At Least he knew but he knew the extreme side of it. The gifts of light, it’s not the extreme side of darkness it’s like a gift of lightness. I want to help the world feel this way. That’s how that person serves.(Laughter)
Christian: So I’ve meditated for about a year of quite regularly and I took some advanced courses and went on some retreats and really was taken under the wing of my teacher and then I was given the opportunity to go away for three months and study under him directly to become a meditation teacher. So this was a bizarre thing because I had never once in my life desired to teach anyone anything or to be a spiritual teacher or to be a yoga teacher or any of that kind of stuff. And the desire bubbled up inside of me and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was like, well each meditation, you know. Okay. And I remember saying this, I said, if the universe wants me to be a meditation teacher, I’ll make myself available. But the universe has to organize all the details and pretty soon… I mean I kind of let go of the whole concept and said, I’m available, you organize the details. And of course all the details got organized. And in 2007, I graduated as a meditation teacher and I’ve been teaching regularly ever since.
Denecia: Wow, so no hint that it was going to ever happen until it just happened?
Christian: No personal desire whatsoever.
Denecia: Amazing. How many students have you served so far?
Christian: Now I’m coming up on 3000 students. So people that I’ve taught to meditate over the past, now it’s 2020, so it’s about 12 and a half years of teaching. But what’s even more glorious about that is that since 2014 I have been working with my teacher to train new teachers. And so at this point, I’ve probably helped train about 50 new teachers. And then you think about what’s the ripple effect of that, how many other people have learned to meditate from that.
Denecia: Wow. That’s amazing. Well, congratulations, just for being the light and taking that sacrifice. A lot of folks, you know, they’re in the corporate world and they hear those nudges inside and they feel it, but they just don’t know how to do it because of pressure from family or pressure from a spouse that you just said, you know what? I’m going to just go with this? Oh, kudos to you for doing that. There’s a lot of people who want to do that, that are probably watching the show. Amazing. So what do your parents say now?
Christian: I’ve taught both my parents to meditate.
Denecia: Oh my goodness, that’s amazing.
Christian: My parents met in a bowling alley in Brooklyn and my dad has always been in bowling leagues. Within three weeks of learning to meditate, he rolled his high game, which happens to be 279. For those of you who know anything about bowling, that’s almost all strikes and then he got a nine on the last ball or something. So he says that meditation has helped him quite a bit. My mom meditates, but here’s what they also say. They say, they call me Chris, Chris, people from California are weird.(Laughter)
Denecia: We know, but we changed the world, you know what I mean. We’re weird in a good way.(Laughter)
Christian: I say, I live in California and they look at me and they say, well, you’re a little weird too. Thanks, mom.
Denecia: Yeah, right. They love you but you’re bringing the weirdness to them. That’s great, Oh my God. I love it. I tell friends, I’m like, California is its own special place and we’re just the black sheep. That’s just how it is. Some people love us because we bring great weird ideas that they never would have thought of before because people are scared to kind of step out of their zone in other States, the cultural dynamics and everything else, but it’s like Yep let’s do it! Out here in California.
Christian: In some ways I feel that there’s a lot of leading-edge thinking that goes on here and of course some of it really goes out into left field, but I think we have the ability to export that thinking because we do that through media. And now not only through the film and television industry, but you may know that Southern California, especially around my neighborhood in Venice is we have Google here, we have Snapchat here, and then everyone else who wants to be bought by Google, they are starting their little startups here. And so we really do export this kind of thought process out to the world through media. We’ve got that going for us.
Denecia: Exactly. I’m okay with being the black sheep. It’s okay, I’m fine. So anyway, that’s awesome. Yeah, I agree. I love it here. I’ve lived in other States and I love other States. I’ve lived in Oregon and also in Nevada. And I liked most of those places too. But there’s nothing like being in California where most of the innovation is happening.
Christian: I agree.
Denecia: That’s amazing. So can you share three tips for folks that want to learn how to meditate, what are some tips that you can give that will allow them to be successful?
Christian: I think that the first thing is to understand about meditation is that meditation isn’t about the subjective experience that occurs with your eyes closed. Obviously when we meditate, you’ve seen pictures of people meditating, they have their eyes closed. It’s not really about that as much as how you feel outside of your own practice. And it’s easy to get caught up in measuring meditation by, Oh, I have too many thoughts or I’m not getting any depth or I’m not feeling any relaxing aspect with my eyes closed. But really the concept of meditation is to see to what extent it can imprint itself onto your daily waking state experience of life. And this was my experience, I started to meditate and I started to feel a little bit more calm. I started to feel a little bit more connected. I come from an Italian American household where going from zero to 60 is normal and then back down to zero. So to feel more calm to feel more connected, to feel less reactionary to the world around me. That was a big benefit. Even though when I was doing my practice, especially in the beginning, I was having thoughts in meditation. So not judging by within, but judging from without. I think the second thing is regularity. And I think that there is a tendency for people to kind of not stay regular with their practice. So some people say, Oh yeah, I meditate. And that might be every once in a while at the end of the yoga class they might do a meditation. But I think meditation needs to be something that is done as part of your daily routine of hygiene. So we think about, especially here in Southern California, we pay a lot of attention to our physical hygiene. You know, we have to be all exfoliated and we have to have pilates and yoga bodies.(Laughter)
Denecia: Drinking those green smoothies. That I love! (Laughter)
Christian: Drinking our kale smoothies and stuff. That is fun, that’s a good part of hygiene. But we also have to pay attention to our mental hygiene. And our mental hygiene is something that meditation is perfectly suited for. Mental hygiene is not, Oh, I’m going to check out and watch Netflix, that’s just kind of pushing the pause button on your worries and concerns. What if I can actually do something that enriches my mental hygiene? And for hygiene to work, you have to do it every day. Right? You can’t just brush your teeth once a week. You’re going to lose a lot of friends if you take that approach.
Denecia: Oh my God. (Laughter) I’m glad you said something. I know some folks probably they can change their life by hearing that.
Christian: And I think the third thing is, and of course this is going to be very much in line with what I do, get in-person instruction. Find a teacher who will teach you a technique. It’s so important because I spent about a year and a half groping around in the dark. Am I doing this right? Am I doing that right? Is this how to meditate? Why am I having thoughts? And I didn’t have any instruction whatsoever. So finding someone who can guide you through a technique and to check your meditation to make sure you’re actually doing it right and getting the benefits that that technique brings. I think that’s very important. And there’s so many different meditation teachers and techniques out there. You know, every once in awhile I have students who spend years and years reading books and trying apps and all those different things. And then when they finally break down and come to learn, they’re like, oh, I didn’t realize it could be so easy. And it is. It’s just like with anything, you want to get a good website, hire an expert, you want to get your car fixed, go to a mechanic. Now you want to learn to meditate, go with someone who knows how to teach it to you.
Denecia: Christian was my meditation instructor, How long has it been? Around 10 years ago?
Christian: About that, yeah.
Denecia: It’s been 10 years and I was one of those folks that in the past, for a year I was reading the books and going to the apps and no success and very frustrated. And then I finally just surrendered, and it was just amazing. Meditation transformed my life! I have been through a couple of levels of meditation. There are many things that Christian can share with you on this when you see him. If you decide to meditate, I highly recommend him. But there’s a lot that happens when you just surrender to that calling of just being able to connect yourself in peace, which is so nice. Then things just fall into place for you in your life and your relationship with others. Thank you, Christian for what you do. You are an amazing light and we really do appreciate you.
Christian: Thank you.
Denecia: You radiate wisdom, light, and joy and obviously you have a very contagious laugh. It’s very memorable. You sound like a Buddha. I don’t know if you agree, that’s how a Buddha would sound if he laughed. What is your secret of just being happy and healthy? Give us a secret for entrepreneurs out there who are on the wellness side and those who are on the business side of how to do this. Like what is your secret?
Christian: I have to reveal something about myself as part of that question. The truth is that I used to be an insufferable grouch. Before I learned to meditate, I hardly ever laughed. Before I learned to meditate I was very prickly. I very much had that New Yorker get out of my way, kind of vibe. And it was something that I realized in hindsight, but I didn’t realize at the time that was holding me back in all aspects of my life personally, professionally lives. The things that are who I am now came from having a regular meditation practice. You might want to say, Oh, what books did you read and what did you do and what foods do you eat? It’s all about having a steady meditation practice and everything comes from that. There’s the concept here, maybe it’s a Southern California thing where people might say, you need to be your own guru.
Denecia: I’ve never heard that one before. Were they telling you this?
Christian: There’s somebody telling me this.
Denecia: Wow, interesting.
Christian: There may be some legitimacy to that. But what we have to really take a look at is who is the ME in the be your own guru. And if I’m a stress bag, if I’m in my most excited state and I can’t really settle my mind down in any way, then I’m not going to be the best guru to myself. Really what you need to do is you need to have the tools to develop the wellness to create the inner guru and to be able to really connect with that. What’s made me, me. is I’ve been meditating long enough to release most if not all of the stress from my body. And that’s one of the benefits of the meditation practice that I teach is that we know that there’s a mechanic in the human physiology that if you rest the body deeply enough, the body will start to release stress naturally. This is why when most of us are about to transition from waking state into a sleep state, sometimes our body will get the little twitchy thing that we get, which that’s your body releasing stress. So if we can relax a little bit, the body will let go of stress. And if you have a stress free body, then what’s left is one thing, inner bliss, the inner bliss of who we truly are. And that begins to bubble and shine through. And if I were to do a self-analysis, I would say that that’s what happened to me because 15 years ago I wasn’t anywhere like who I am like today.
Denecia: Interesting. It’s funny because I remember like six months after I took your first class, I’ve taken two classes with Christian. He has multiple levels of meditation classes that you can learn. The more in-depth you get, the more peaceful and things just flow more. And I remember my friends actually saying, yeah, something’s different with you. What is going on? You’re nicer. We like this. And I was like, Oh, it’s working. I didn’t know I would be nice. Like nicer, I thought I was a nice person but obviously I was needing help in some areas and the meditation helped fill in the gaps. (Laughter)
Christian: You were probably already nice.
Denecia: It’s funny because your friends will tell you if you listen. They’ll tell you the things that you don’t want to hear, which is good because they love you and you need to hear it and that’s some of the things that you need to hear because it’s receiving credit for the things that you do. That’s pretty amazing that that happened to you. And you’ve never shared your story with me with who you used to be and now the meditation guru that you are. It’s a full circle.
Christian: I think it shows that no matter where you are now you can get to where we are today, which is happy, healthy, blissful, easygoing. Not easygoing like a doormat for the world. You know, we have a very different way of looking at the world and experiencing the world because for me, I let go of all my anger and I was full of it. I mean anger that is.
Denecia: I was too. Tell me a little bit more about what is going on with Greentree Meditation of Venice, California for 2020. What are you working on?
Christian: We have a whole new teacher training program coming up, which we do in India nowadays. We go and train our teachers in India because our technique of meditation comes from India and we felt it right that we would honor India and have the teacher training occurred there. That takes out three months of the schedule. And then we have retreats that happen twice a year. We have one in the fall that is coming up at this beautiful retreat center in Ojai, California. This place is gorgeous. And on top of that, we have the most amazing chef in the whole world. At times people will say, Oh, I, you know, it’s so hard to schedule in a meditation course with my daily life demands. Sometimes if we can go away for four days and do it in a retreat setting, that is free of distraction, then sometimes we can really jumpstart the practice. And the whole idea is, how can I develop a practice? That is sustainable. And then, I have daily teaching sessions. I probably teach people every day and I have courses running a couple of times a month and people come and they learn the practice. But the hard work is getting people to come and really commit to wanting to learn it. And that is the thing, people have to be ready for this new step in their lives. And letting go of a little bit of prejudice sometimes is part of that. They think that becoming a meditator, it means that they’re going to start wearing strange patterns clothes. (Laughter)
Denecia: Laughing weird. (Laughter)
Christian: And I think that the more that we show the world that you can be just a normal average person and have these wellness practices sustained in your life, it gives people hope to truly believe, “I can do it too.”
Denecia: Absolutely. I like to shed the light on this because I feel like, I think that’s one fear that had me kind of doing the whole let me focus on the apps, let me focus on the books and all that great stuff was, the one fear that I had was making sure that I was accepted by my peers. I wanted to be accepted as like keeping it the same. It was weird, I had like a subconscious feeling of, I don’t want to be weird. I wanted to just keep the norm and I have to tell you, viewers, that you’ll still keep the norm you’ll just know how to blend into wherever you go. There are clients of mine that have no idea that I meditate, they have no idea that this is a side of me that I’m into crystals and Reiki. There are clients that know that I am into these healing modalities and that I am also an insurance person and work-life balance coach. Whoever you are, just be who you are and, and just know that it’s your life. It’s not other people’s lives. You have to live your life and hopefully you’re living it to the fullest with health and happiness. Absolutely.
Christian: My opinion is that wellness makes you more of who you really are. Sometimes if we’re in a grumpy mood or we’re stressed out or we’re having a bad day, that’s not really who we are. That’s kind of the stress talking. And if we can incorporate wellness, then what happens is that we start to reflect who we truly are on the inside, externally to the world around us. Sometimes people worry that becoming a meditator or practicing yoga, they are going to start to turn into their fears. And that is not the case it’s just the simple status of the more myself I become. And that’s what the world wants is you? The best version of you.
Denecia: Thank you, Christian. How do people find you on social media and the web? What is the best way to reach you?
Christian: Well, if anyone wants to see what a 12-year-old website looks like…
Denecia: It is a website. (Laughter)
Christian: Go to Greentreemeditation.com to see what ancient websites look like.
Christian: Yeah, you can find me on, I think it’s Twitter as greentreecenter because they’re just weren’t enough letters for green tree meditation. And I post on that quite frequently.
Denecia: Where’s the retreat information? Is it on the website?
Christian: Yes, It’s on the website. You can find it there, under retreat.
Denecia: Perfect. Well, I like your site, I think it still looks good. I mean, obviously, it works, and it gives you the information. (Laughter)
Christian: It seems relevant, but it doesn’t work too well on your mobile device.
Denecia: Thank you so much for being here. There you have it audience, great tips for reducing stress, and increasing clarity for meditation from our friend Christian of Greentree medication.
If you liked this, and what more tips and tricks on business and wellness topics that keep you uplifted, inspired, and work-life balanced, like us and subscribe to our channel below. To my beautiful souls who are finding their way with grace and ease. Thank you for joining us until the next time we meet, be beautiful, and be well.
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