451. Enlightenment on Demand: Meditation for the Masses & Breathwork Without Borders w/ Manoj Dias

Manoj Dias

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Manoj Dias, creator of the awesome mindfulness app, Open, joins the show. Through meditation and breathwork practices, Manoj has helped thousands of people around the world trade mania for pause so that they may live fearlessly in honor of a happier and more meaningful life. 

Manoj knows that meditation and mindfulness are too vast and wise for any one person to own. So he’s learnt from some of the most respected teachers of our time, including Channa Dassanayaka, Dr Miles Neale and Joe Loizzo as well as studying at the Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science in New York City. He married the best of ancient wisdom and contemporary science to bring the power of awareness, compassion and wisdom to organizations such as Netflix, Google and Slack alongside his role as an associate at the Melbourne Business School’s executive leadership program.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Happy New Year everyone. We survived, and hopefully thrived, in 2022. Man, what a wild ass year that was. But the point is that we made it, and we can probably make it this year too. Now, I chose a very special episode to kick us off with maximum positivity as Manoj Dias, creator of the awesome mindfulness app, Open, joins the show.

Through meditation and breathwork practices, Manoj has helped thousands of people around the world trade mania for pause so that they may live fearlessly in honor of a happier and more meaningful life. And that, my friends, is exactly what you're going to learn today.

In addition, Manoj and his team were generous enough to grant Life Stylist listeners access to their incredible meditation, breathwork, and movement app, Open, free for 30 days. To access your free trial, visit lukestorey.com/open. When you get there, remember to use the code: LUKE.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

00:03:45 — Manoj Dias: Background & Inspirations 
  • Guided vase breathing exercise 
  • Dropping into the body 
  • Disassociating through analyzing
  • Upbringing in Sri Lanka and Australia 
  • Struggles during a two-year spiral  
  • His first meditation class
  • You are not your thoughts
00:16:23 — Separating Teachers & Spiritual Teachings
  • Identifying the teachers around us
  • Ripening your karmic seeds
  • Presence in the presence of others
  • Finding safety in relationships
  • Teachers fuck up too
  • The complicated legacy of Chögyam Trungpa
  • Being your own guru
00:46:54 — Reconciling Forgiveness vs. Enabling 
  • Luke reckons with putting limits on forgiveness 
  • Dropping the hot rod of resentment
  • Compassion is drawing a boundary 
00:54:58 — Open to New Possibilities
  • lukestorey.com/open
  • Exploring somatic mindfulness
  • Vocal toning exercises 
  • Finding community within the app
  • Designing with the user in mind
  • A new dawn for mindfulness 2.0
  • Making breathwork accessible 
  • Learning from Channa Dassanayaka
  • Lessons from his mother as she passed

More about this episode.

Watch on YouTube.

Manoj Dias: [00:00:06] The story of the Buddha saying that walking around holding anger and resentment is like holding a hot steel rod and expecting the other person to be burnt. And I think of that often. It's like, okay, forgiveness for me is me dropping that rod. I'm Manoj Dias, and this is the Life Stylist Podcast.

Luke Storey: [00:00:28] Happy New Year, everyone. We survived and hopefully thrived in 2022. Man, what a wild ass year that was! But the point is that we made it and we can probably make it this year too. Now I chose a very special episode to kick us off with maximum positivity. And you know what? We'll likely need it. 

So here's what you're going to learn and experience in this episode. Our guest, Manoj treats us to an exclusive live guided breath journey. We discuss his unique upbringing, born and raised in the Teradata Buddhist tradition. He also talks about the creative process for his meditation app called Open, which has some of the most well-produced, gorgeous mindfulness videos I've ever seen. 

We also discuss common misconceptions about meditation, and which mindfulness practices have proven most impactful in Manoj's experience. We also cover practical changes you can make to practice forgiveness without enabling abuse. Remain in witness to the now moment, even when stressed and so much more in the realm of practical spirituality in the modern world. 

This one really packs a punch, you guys, so make sure to take some notes as the tools offered have the potential to make this year the best one yet because this is Episode 451: Enlightenment on Demand: Meditation for the Masses and Breathwork Without Borders featuring Manoj Dias. You'll find those juicy show notes at lukestorey.com/manoj. 

Now I love spending time with our guest on this one. He's such a centered and grounded guy. Once tethered to a life of self-management instead of self-awareness, he now intimately understands what it means to be healed from the inside out. Through mindfulness and meditation, Manoj has helped thousands of people around the world trade mania for a pause so that they may live fearlessly in honor of a happier and more meaningful life. 

And that, my friends, is exactly what you're going to learn today. But before we start, listen up. Manoj and his team were generous enough to grant Life Stylist listeners access to their incredible meditation breathwork and movement app, Open, free for 30 days. It's called Open and you get it for 30 days. 

And I got to say, this is the best possible way I can think of to start your new year off right. To get access to your 30-day trial, visit lukestorey.com/open. And when you get there, remember to use the code LUKE. Again, that's lukestorey.com/open and you'll understand why this is important as we get through the interview. 

Okay, family, let's get ready to activate some powerful piece codes with the one and only Manoj Dias on the Life Stylist Podcast. And don't forget to share this one with a friend who could use some mindfulness. One Love. Man, here we are in the Life Stylist Podcast.

Manoj Dias: [00:03:08] I'm so excited to be here. This is such an adventure to first come out to Texas but to be able to speak to you. This is a great honor.

Luke Storey: [00:03:16] Thank you. I'm excited. Well, I thought we could do something a little different today and have you start us off with a short guided meditation or even a breathing exercise. It's something I often forget to do myself before I start interviews. And I start, I don't know, not anxious necessarily, but just not centered. And then it takes me a while of listening to someone talk as my guest and me going inward and breathe in. And then I land 10 or 15 minutes into these things. 

So I thought maybe today we could do it in a new way and you could guide us in something. And that being said, I'll just leave it up to you and just take a couple of moments. I might add, in case you forget, if anyone's listening to this while driving or doing anything that requires your full attention, perhaps skip 3 to 5 minutes ahead to the interview.

But if you can really take a moment, whoever's listening or watching this, drop in with us, because this man really has a gift to be able to really drop you into a really beautiful space.

Manoj Dias: [00:04:16] Thank you. Great. Okay. So this is a practice. It's called Vase Breath. It is a Tibetan Buddhist tantric practice that was taught around the Nepal Tibetan region, as a way for us to get rid of speedy energy in our body. So before our podcast, interview, first date, this is something that I would do, and it's a really simple breathing exercise. We'll just do five rounds of them.

For the duration of the practice, you're going to keep your mouth closed and you can do this walking, you can do this cycling. If you are driving, you do it very lightly, but it's fairly safe. Don't close your eyes, obviously. 

So whenever you're ready, you just take a slow, deep breath in. Now imagine your breath. It's filling up the front of your belly and the sides of your belly. So it's creating a vase-like shape. So I'll later take a deep breath in. And then hold your breath at the end of your inhale. So the belly expands, the sides of your body expand. And we're going to hold here for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Keep your mouth closed, and gently breathe out.

Take another slow, deep breath in the same way. Expanding the belly, expanding the sides of your body. Hold at the end of your inhale. And then release. We'll do that one more time. Slow, deep breath in, and imagine you're filling this vase-like shape, which is your stomach and body. And then just hold here. 

8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Gently release. Very quietly. And just land in your body for a moment, relaxing your shoulders, and just notice how you feel. Whenever you're ready, you can come out of your practice.

Luke Storey: [00:06:51] Thank you.

Manoj Dias: [00:06:52] Thank you.

Luke Storey: [00:06:53] It's almost like nothing needs to be said after that. That's a wrap. We're good. The whole point of these conversations really is to help us learn the various ways and means by which we can attain a greater sense of presence.

Manoj Dias: [00:07:06] Yeah. I also find that particular practice, it gets me out of my head, especially before an interview where I'm thinking, what should I say? Am I going to sound stupid and what's he going to ask me and just drops your little body--

Luke Storey: [00:07:18] Are you shy too?

Manoj Dias: [00:07:19] Yeah, all the time. But I find this dropping into the body such a new experience for so many of us, myself included, because we're so heavily cognized. We're so in our head a lot of the day. So just a moment to just drop into the body and you experience the feeling state, it enables a deeper connection with whoever you're with, but it also enables you to connect with the environment you're in.

Luke Storey: [00:07:44] Very much so. I realized it's probably about a year, year and a half ago. I just had a really profound realization that I had never truly been in my body. I would say largely in response to early childhood trauma. And there was this dissociative like it's not safe. I'm out of here. And this is after years of dedicated meditation and yoga and all of these things. 

But it was just one of those moments. You have these epiphany moments where you see things from a totally different perspective. And I saw the moment that I left my body and I never really came back all the way. Even through all those practices, it was just there wasn't really a depth of being actually alive. Every cell in my body and experiencing myself in a whole and complete way was really profound.
And then begs, of course, the curiosity of how can I actually take that into my life, which seems like that's a lot of the work you're doing, with the Open studio and the Open app, which of course we're going to talk about.

Manoj Dias: [00:08:47] I think what you said is actually a modern condition. A lot of us aren't in our bodies and it's a byproduct of our culture. It's a byproduct of our society. From the moment we wake up like my phone is my alarm clock. So as soon as I hit wake-up, notifications, I look in my calendar, I'm getting emails, I'm getting text messages. 

And so the very first thing that we wake up to is the mind waking up. It's all this activation, cognition, planning, and analyzing. And so we leave our body and this is amplified throughout the course of our life when, as you said, me as well, from a young age, we had experiences which made it unsafe to be in the body. 

So going into cognition, going into the thinking is a safety mechanism. And it's why, especially when it comes to meditation, it becomes so much of a mental experience where traditionally, especially in somatic mindfulness practices like what I'm learning and teaching and Miles and things like that as well have talked about, it's so much of it doesn't exist in the mind. 

It's part of it. It's integrated, but it begins in the body. And we have this word in Buddhism, it's called Gita, which is called the Heart-Mind, which we don't point to one place where the heart is or where the mind is. It's in between. And this integration is really the practice of somatic mindfulness, and it's what we learn to uncover after realizing we are disconnected to come back home to the body. It's to make a relationship with it again.

Luke Storey: [00:10:20] So I think something that's interesting about your journey. From what I understand, is that you were born and raised in consciousness, mindfulness, Buddhist tradition. And I find that to be, I would say on the rare side, typically people that I sit down and talk to are just people I interact with in my life that are deeply committed to spiritual practice and that type of evolution, have arrived there in response to failures in life or some trauma or pain.
It's definitely the case for me. I had no interest in spirituality in any capacity until I was in enough pain to go, wow, this isn't working. I need something else. So tell us a little bit about your upbringing and how your family influenced you to become interested in such things.

Manoj Dias: [00:11:10] It's funny you say that because a lot of people, my teachers would always say, you never come to this practice when you're on a winning streak in life. You usually have to be beaten around by life a little bit to realize, "Oh, maybe there is something to exploring my mind and my tendencies."

But no, I was born in Sri Lanka. And Sri Lanka is primarily or largely a Buddhist country, but the practice of Buddhism is more centered around the religious context. I wouldn't say a religious context. It's more angled towards ethics, good tendencies, more around the showing up in temples and things like that, less about the meditation practice.

Luke Storey: [00:11:52] Got it.

Manoj Dias: [00:11:52] It's more around the cultivation of wise conduct, we call it. And so I was born there, but I migrated to Australia when I was five and then was really disconnected from Buddhism for a long time. Even though my parents were practicing Buddhists, they didn't have a meditation practice. And we grew up as immigrants in Australia. Far north Queensland was the location that I grew up in and was a very rough place to grow up and to experience life, especially as an immigrant.

Luke Storey: [00:12:20] Why so?

Manoj Dias: [00:12:22] Well, I think back then it was the '80s, looking different, being different. We were in a part of the world that was felt very hostile and Australia has its own relationship to racism and immigration as well. And so for us, we didn't have many friends or family there. So we were like literally the only people that looked like us.

Luke Storey: [00:12:40] Oh wow.

Manoj Dias: [00:12:41] So it just took a little while to adjust to that. And that no doubt influenced my practice in later years. But I was disconnected from Buddhism for a long time and then went to college, got a good job, just like my parents told me to do, was in marketing and finance, was a director, and got really sick. And the sickness started with an anxiety attack, a really big anxiety attack at work in front of all my stuff.

And then that really opened the door for about two years of really deep, deep suffering, so from everything depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addictions, everything in that two-year cycle. And eventually, it was a friend of mine who randomly came and saw me. He's like, "Hey, man, come and do a yoga class with me." And I say this all the time, but the joke was like, "I don't own any Lululemon. I can't go."

And he's like, "No, no, no. Just come. There's hot girls there. Just come. And that was how he tried to drag me to this class. And I went and it wasn't really a yoga class. It was a Buddhist meditation class in which we did some stretches before. And then we sat and there have been very few instances in my life where I've met someone and I've looked at them and there's something inside of me that's like, "Oh, I've met this person before." And it was like that with my teacher and it feels very metaphysical and esoteric as I even recount it. 

But there was just something in me that said, "Oh, this is going to be really good for you." And he taught me in that very first class the nature of suffering. And he said that you are not your thoughts. That was the first thing that he said. And when he was saying, you are not your thoughts, I was lost in a train of thought. So I was thinking, oh, what am I going to have for lunch? And I should do this more often. This feels calm. Where are all the girls? All of these things going through my mind.
But at that moment I realized I didn't have to be a victim to the thoughts that were arising in my mind. And that was for me, revolutionary at that point because up until then, any thought that popped into my mind I would listen to it. It's like, oh, take another pill. Okay, have some more to drink. You're a failure. I'm a failure. All of these thoughts were going through my mind. 

And then here's someone saying, "No, no, you can actually train yourself to not experience these thoughts and believe these thoughts. And you can actually become happy. And here is a roadmap on how to become happy and suffer less. And I was just like, "Oh, wow. How come I didn't know about this before?"

So that really just began the journey for me of-- I started practicing with this teacher every day for five years. I was at a point where I was like, "Maybe I'm going to take robes and become a monk." I seriously considered that for a period of time. I didn't probably, thankfully, in the end. But then eventually I was dating someone who was doing a yoga teacher training and she's like, "Hey, come and do this yoga training with me."

And I wanted to impress her. I was like, "Okay, I'll come and do it." And in this training, they offered me a job to come and teach. And the rest was really history.

Luke Storey: [00:15:56] Wow. So you had a little bit of a foundation with your family, but then went astray and was led into some of your sufferings. So the pain-to-purpose thing is in there.

Manoj Dias: [00:16:09] Absolutely.

Luke Storey: [00:16:10] It was just maybe a return to something that you had lost more so than something you had just never encountered, which was the case for me. It's just zero spirituality to suffering, to really committing myself to the path.

Manoj Dias: [00:16:23] I think there's nothing more spiritual than suffering.

Luke Storey: [00:16:26] Yeah. How so?

Manoj Dias: [00:16:26] Well, I think in those moments, when you are going through hard times, nothing is off-limits. You question everything. You're looking for something in order to get you out of that suffering. And then the binary thinking that some of us tend to have when it comes to meditation or spirituality, or it goes out the door because you're just looking for something that's going to help you. 

And for me, the periods where I've suffered the most have been spiritually the most breathtaking because I'm able to just not shut myself off from things. Whereas now the older I am, the more I'm steeped in certain traditions. The older I get as well, I'm more critical of something that I'm like, "Oh, it's a new age fad or something." But when you're in it, you forget the power of suffering and how all you want to do is be free from that suffering.

Luke Storey: [00:17:18] Yeah. And it brings with it that humility and open-mindedness. Right? Like that desperation.

Manoj Dias: [00:17:25] Absolutely.

Luke Storey: [00:17:26] Just breeds like I'm open to anything. That was the case for me, I think, in the depth of my rock bottom. I think there's anything within the confines of morality that I would have done. So if someone said, hey, you need to take someone's life in order to end your suffering, obviously I wouldn't. But I was so open, you could have led me down any path of spirituality, religion, whatever it was, I would have been open to it if I believed that it had some potential to alleviate my suffering and change my life. 

One of the most powerful tools I've used over the past 25 years of self-healing is the practice of rituals and habits. If I can train myself to repeat something that's really effective, eventually it becomes automatic. So naturally, I'm always interested in using my ritual time wisely by stacking as many positive benefits as possible into the shortest window of time.

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So HigherDose nailed it again, folks, by providing all the components needed for detox, healing, and recovery. Get yourself loaded up at higherdose.com today and use my exclusive promo code LUKE15 at checkout to save 15%. That's higherdose.com. D-O-S-E. And again, the code is LUKE15. You mentioned something earlier. Was the teacher you were referring to, Miles Neal, or was this someone else?

Manoj Dias: [00:19:54] No, that was a different teacher. My first teacher, his name was China Dissanayeke. He was a Sri Lankan teacher, an ex-monk that was living in Australia.

Luke Storey: [00:20:01] Okay, cool. But you mentioned something about just seeing something in that person and having some degree of familiarity. And I've had a few experiences in my life where it's not even a degree of familiarity, but I've gone to see a teacher speak or watched a video or whatever and just felt like whatever this person has, I want it. Metaphysically speaking, it's an essence or an air or a piece, a viewpoint, a perspective on life. 

And I've had a few of those that have come along, and it's such a gift when someone like that enters your field. And even beyond that, what a gift to be able to have eyes to see. Or I'd imagine, how many teachers we've probably met in our life and we just brushed them off because they didn't hold any obvious significance to us in that moment. But some of mine have come in the strangest ways with really a high degree of ambiguity. 

And just like what? How did this even happen? And then takes a while to even see it. Have you had other experiences in your life where you met someone at a pivotal point and they became your teacher for whatever period and transformed your life?

Manoj Dias: [00:21:10] Yeah. Truthfully, I think there are a lot of people that can be your teacher. I think relationships are big teachers for us and the people that we engage in relationships with. My co-founders are teachers in their own way because they elicit certain responses in me and they're teachable moments. 

But that experience I had with my teacher maybe had once or twice before, and it's just this whole body somatic, oh, like this is happening again. Almost like, are you back? And it sounds really woo. Even as I say it, I'm like, "It's funny. I'm saying it," but there's just the feeling of I've met this person. I think it's in a past life or I think there's something here that it's not an old connection. It's like, I feel safe, I feel comfortable. 

And we see each other and there's just something that you can't explain. And I think you do your head in trying to explain what that experience is like.

Luke Storey: [00:22:07] Totally. Yeah. I think those are some of the most auspicious moments when somebody is put in front of us and it's not something you can will to happen. I think it's been for me a few years now since I've been in the presence of someone. I interview a lot of fantastic people, but someone where I'm like, they're my teacher. I'm supposed to devote some time to learning from them and that happens maybe too many of us never even once in our lifetime. 

And if it does, it seems to be infrequent. I think the reason it's on my mind is because that recently happened to me, someone invited me to see a Vedic scholar, essentially an Indian man speak. And then it happened for Alyson and I, both we walked in the room, we listened in for a few minutes and I'm looking at her. She's looking at me and we're like, "Holy shit. Whoa! We are so blessed to be here right now."

Manoj Dias: [00:23:06] Yeah. In the Buddhist context, we would call that your karmic seeds ripening. And what that means is really, in the course of our life, we plant karmic seeds and good and bad based on the actions that we've done. And it might take lifetimes, it might be one life, but you might come into contact with someone so wise and powerful and awakened that at that moment that particular seed ripens and it's like a blessing. It's like, "Oh, I've met my teacher or Oh, I've met this person that's going to change the course of my life." Hey, Cookie. 

And it was it was definitely like that when I met my teacher and I think definitely it was a comic experience, there was something I was calling in and there was a suffering I was going through. And there are things that I probably did in my life that enabled me to meet him because he profoundly changed the trajectory of my life. And who I am today is a byproduct of that interaction that I had.

Luke Storey: [00:24:06] Yeah. What's something we could offer someone in terms of how to identify someone that could be that type of teacher, someone that is perhaps putting your life in a karmic way to play a pivotal role in your evolution. How do we identify them and how do we muster up the humility to become teachable and offer everything? 

For me, what was necessary in those situations is really letting go of anything that I think I know. And really empty in my mind and putting some trust in this person's vision or wisdom.

Manoj Dias: [00:24:42] I think firstly, you have to be open. There is a degree of openness that obviously you and your partner had when you walked into that that room that day. And you might not feel like it at the time, but I'm sure you've cultivate that through all your years of practice to get to that point. 

But the second thing is to have a relationship with the body so you know something's happening here. With me, I didn't see him and think in my head, "Oh, yeah." It's like, no, I felt my body just go. It was like relaxation, feeling like an exhale. And having that relationship with the body really helps. But then knowing you've had that experience and trusting that experience and surrendering because then the mind wants to make sense of it as well, and that can sometimes be its greatest enemy. Is the mind going, "Oh, is this the person?" Yes, "I've been looking for you my whole life."

And instead of trying to do that, just allow your body to speak, allow your body to every time you're around that person to feel like it's settled. And that's what it was like with my teacher. There was no hiding anything. Even if he asked me, "How's your relationship going?" I couldn't lie in front of him. And it was this weird, weird, weird feeling where it was like looking into my soul.

So there was just complete honesty and transparency there. And if we are present to our somatic experience in the presence of someone like that, then that's usually a good indication of someone that's going to have an impact on our lives.

Luke Storey: [00:26:10] Yeah, I love that. I wouldn't have even thought of that if the checking in with your body of accessing your inner knowing and intuition through that somatic experience, I guess that's why I asked that question. I've just had it happen, but I don't know how it happened. I just know like, oh my God, I'm supposed to learn from this person.

Manoj Dias: [00:26:27] Yeah, but that's the best way. Because otherwise you project and there's all sorts of psychological inferences that can happen. Often you hear this story about yoga teachers like Bikram and stuff like that, for example, all the controversy around him. That's because we project what this person should be in our life. There's a teacher there or it's from childhood. We project onto this person our hopes, our dreams, our manifestations. 

But it comes from the mind. It doesn't come from the body. And if we really do check in with ourselves, there is a sense of when we're around someone we feel safe with. A teacher should, first of all feel safe, more than they stimulate our mind and all these other factors. If you feel safe with someone, that can usually be a very good indication that this is someone you should spend more time with.

Luke Storey: [00:27:18] It's a great indication for a romantic partner, too.

Manoj Dias: [00:27:21] Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Luke Storey: [00:27:23] Safety is often the thing that we're looking for with the least amount of attention. Right?

Manoj Dias: [00:27:29] It's not sexy, right?

Luke Storey: [00:27:30] Got excitement. He goes, "Safety. What? Who wants safe? I want to feel like I'm about to die if they're not around."

Manoj Dias: [00:27:36] Yeah. I'm not sure if this is a real Buddha quote or not. There's a website that debunks Buddha quotes, but how they often say when you get butterflies, it means you're around someone that you're meant to be in love with. This is a belief that it's actually the opposite in our tradition, where if there's no butterflies, there's just the sense of like, you're calm, you're safe. That's usually a good indicator of someone that you can grow with.

Luke Storey: [00:28:03] Wow, I like that. That's been my experience. A hard-earned lesson. But yeah, you brought up something. You mentioned the Bikram fellow, and there's a phenomenon that I would say fascinated by because I spent a lot of time and energy, but it's something I have pondered wherein you have a human that has ascended to a certain level of consciousness and become some of a public figure or spiritual teacher, thinking to just give a classical example would be someone like that or an Indian yogi or something, right? 

A mystic wherein they have a high degree of depth and truth that they're able to share. They start to amass devotees. And then at some point, sometimes even a very demonic, I'll dare say, fall from grace. Right. And I've always found that to be such a strange phenomenon that someone can have truly legitimate spiritual gifts and even be able to impart shock, teapot transformative, transcendent experiences too, and for their devotees, yet have this active, really incredibly dark shadow side at the same time. 

It's not like they gained spiritual powers and ascension and then fall and then now they don't have the powers. Some of them still have these powers. Cities and whatnot, even while they're misbehaving and their conduct is abhorrent and has fallen from grace. What's your take on why that happens and how someone maybe themselves can avoid that happening as they start to grow and evolve spiritually and maybe things to look out for in our body or our experience to avoid teachers that are potentially dangerous in that way?

Manoj Dias: [00:29:57] The somewhat simplistic answer to this is that everyone is human. They are the byproduct of causes and conditions. So you put the right conditions around someone and anyone can either flourish or they can go the opposite way. 

I think where we fall short is that we think that a teacher or a guru, whoever it is, is not human. We think that they are beyond the realms of their desires or bad things. And I always think having a strong internal moral compass is important. And ethics and morals can have their shadow side, too, because it can feel like you're good, you're bad, and do this, and then you'll be good and decent. You're bad.

But I think it's something for each of us individually to explore, like, what is my moral compass? What are the codes of conduct that I exist in this world? Teachers muck up, they fuck up, they do things. And I know teachers. I've studied with teachers that have been like that too. And it's really hard when you're really absorbed in their teachings and you've dedicated so much time to them to then realize that, oh wow, they did this really bad thing. 

And I think that's where we have to separate the teacher from the teachings. If we think the teachings, we throw them out the door because this person has done something bad, then I think we have to look at ourselves individually. We all have done lots of really, really bad things. 

But what can we glean from the teachings? Because often the teachings aren't just from the individual. They come from a lineage or they come from a text, they come from somewhere. Most of the teachers I've studied with anyway, they haven't just made it up. It's come from a lineage. And so there's a lot more confidence that I have in the teachings as opposed to the teacher. 

And yeah, there are many teachers that, for example, that first teacher I studied with him for so many years and we're still very close, but at certain points I was like, Oh, I don't really agree with the direction he's teaching now as an example. And that's okay. We have many teachers in our lives. There's still tenderness and warmth and appreciation for that. But I think as our own spiritual intelligence develops, we'll start to see teachers everywhere. And then we'll also develop our own codes of conduct, and we'll start to form our own belief systems. 

But we have to be careful because there are people that will take advantage of followers that will blindly fall down at your feet. It's sad, but so many traditions have that. It's not exclusive to Bikram. It's every tradition. In the Buddhist tradition, it's like that, in Catholicism. Yeah, in the new world, spiritual world as well. So it's just like they are humans and humans contain multitudes.

Luke Storey: [00:32:45] It's a minefield out there. It really is. Over the years, I've been collecting and using dozens of different healing technologies at home. But if I had to pick just one device to keep on hand, it would likely be my Ozone System. It's actually hard to imagine living without it at this point. 

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Part of your answer, there's something really important in there in that we at times can put someone on a pedestal because of the energy that they're able to transmit or the degree of wisdom that they've amassed. And we categorize them as infallible and therefore we become gullible and naive to their shadow side. I think that a really important part is to always be open-minded, but also practice discernment before laying one's life at the feet of a self-proclaimed master and then being duped into being exploited in some way.

Manoj Dias: [00:35:26] Absolutely. Critical thinking is part of a spiritual practice. And I don't think it's all about surrender everything. It's about critical thinking. Like, does this feel true? And one of my favorite quotes is from the Buddha right before he passed away. And he said, "Don't believe anything anyone has said, even if I have said it unless it agrees with your own heart and reason." And that for me inspires me to question things. 

And anyone that doesn't want you to question things, you better question them. That is the question, I question. Okay. This person is saying this. Does it feel true? Check him with your body. Like if your body is just doing all these things, it's usually an indication that you need to explore that a bit further.

Luke Storey: [00:36:08] Yeah, absolutely. And there's another piece in there with adhering to the tradition of teaching, but divorcing yourself from the actual deliverer of the teachings, and I think that's tricky. I'm thinking of the case of Yogi Budge, the person that supposedly brought Kundalini yoga to the United States, to the West Coast, and all that. And so ensued a really beautiful practice that had a tremendous impact on my life. 

I never really resonated with his teachings per se. There's a lot of videos of his lectures, and many of my favorite teachers would quote him during class. And his pictures on the wall and he's very much part of it. But I just never really resonated with him. But I really liked the yoga. 

And then a few years ago, there were all of these allegations of abuse and things that came out. And to be honest, I had, I don't know, just emerged out of that practice a bit myself at that time and wasn't really involved in the community. So I really don't know the exact details of it, but it seemed there were enough allegations that there was something credible to it. And it was interesting for me because I still really enjoyed the practice and there was undeniable ways in which my life had benefited. Even now, sometimes I'll do a little cry or whatever for my teacher training books and things like that. I'm like, "Oh my God, I forget how awesome this is." Just because I get busy and you move on to some other practice. 

But it was challenging for me because I'm like, okay if these allegations are true, I don't know that I even want any energetic tether to the person who delivered these teachings that are now in my teacher training book. And I think I was able to reconcile it at a certain point with essentially what you just said. It's like, "I don't even think this guy made this stuff up. It was brought from somewhere else through a lineage. And it's unfortunate that if that's true, that this one person fell to the corruption of their own unconsciousness and shadow." 

That sucks, but it doesn't seem right to negate that entire body of work and the benefit that thousands upon thousands of people around the world have derived from the practice.

Manoj Dias: [00:38:18] Yeah. And without touching on something that is like a minefield--

Luke Storey: [00:38:24] To that, I just opened up a mind field, and I don't know what the answer is. I'm just having a dialog. In other words, am I supposed to for the rest of my life write off anything related to Kundalini yoga because I don't even think the things that he taught, I don't even believe really there is Kundalini yoga. It's like these are ancient practices from Tibet and probably Nepal and India and all over the place that this dude happen to put together. But it's not like they're his practice.

Manoj Dias: [00:38:52] Exactly.

Luke Storey: [00:38:53] It's a practice. So anyway, I don't know what the answer is.

Manoj Dias: [00:38:56] No, I think you reconcile it really well there, is that there's so much controversy around the appropriation of Hindu practices, Sikh practices when it comes to Kundalini as well. And if what you're saying is the practice itself was really transformative for you, then that's great. The practice itself is transformative, keep practicing it. Where it becomes something for you to internally explore or for anyone internally, and to explore is when the context around how that practice is delivered begins to become part of your experience.
If he starts to quote his language or career, then it's something every person should individually explore. But for me, I'm a believer that the intention of any practice is to not do harm, first of all. And if your practice is not doing harm to yourself or to anyone else, do it.  

Luke Storey: [00:39:53] Yeah. In my old podcast studio in L.A., I had this frame. Actually, I still have it, and it has just a round cutout where you can put a photo in it, but it's a big square frame. And I just couldn't find a cool photo to put in there. I was digging around and poking around on the Internet, and this is before the Yogi budge and stuff. 

And I found a really interesting picture of him with his beard and turban. And it just looked cool. It just was artistically, it could have been any guy wearing the same garb, essentially. It wasn't so much about like an homage to him. And I put that in there and it was up in the background of my podcast after the stuff started to happen that I didn't know it was happening and someone's like, "Dude take that thing off your wall. He's an accused pedophile, and rapist and all this shit."

And I was like, Oh my God. It's like there's sometimes, someone could have come at me for that. Like, "Oh, you have this demon on your wall." Meanwhile, I had no knowledge that that was even in the space. So it's interesting.

Manoj Dias: [00:40:51] It's a very sensitive world we live in. People make mistakes. People do bad things, but I think part of me is also like these practices, and an example that is very similar to Kundalini is there's a tradition within the Buddhist landscape called Trungpa, Shambhala actually was the name, and then he died of alcoholism. And so all this--

Luke Storey: [00:41:18] Right. Is that Trump overemphasized?

Manoj Dias: [00:41:20] Yeah, yeah. [Inaudible].

Luke Storey: [00:41:21] He's a notorious boozer, right?

Manoj Dias: [00:41:24] Yeah. Yeah. And so there was all these stories around, he would party with his students and be drinking and there was talk of sexual liaison, stuff like that. And a lot of my friends who were teachers and that lineage essentially left. 

But the teachings are true because they came from the Tibetan Buddhist system or the Mahayana Buddhist system. But as you said early on, you just remove it from the deliverer and the practices are still powerful. You just have to break that connection that you have to this projection of a guru or a teacher because ultimately, I think all teachers, the best ones I know, are the ones that point you towards yourself. They are the manifestation of your own intelligence, of your own wisdom.

Luke Storey: [00:42:05] Totally.

Manoj Dias: [00:42:05] And if it becomes about them, then there is just more questions for me.

Luke Storey: [00:42:11] That brings to mind a really beautiful principle. I've had this happen with a few teachers, but primarily one actually was the first teacher that ever posed the question to me that you always had to you, just the suggestion that you are not your thoughts, you're not your mind. Or he would say things like, I would say something and he would say, who's the one that had that thought? Just like now, I consider them to be just basic fundamental spiritual tools. 

But it was the guy that introduced me to the reality that these thoughts and these emotions aren't actually who I am and that I was just so deeply identified with them for so long that I believed and experienced myself and my reality as that rather than as my sole or higher self or that kind of thing. Anyways, that guy. 

But we used to call him the Oracle because me and this other little group of recovering addicts would go to this guy and any problem you had, he would just look you in the eyes and figure it out. He was like, "Oh, do X, Y, and Z," boom. And he essentially just laid out some now rather obvious spiritual principles that needed to be applied forgiveness, surrender, humility, acceptance, whatever, being honest with someone. 

So he would give us the answer to our problems. But then there came a time when I would be like, "Oh man, I'm in this jam with my boss or this girl or whatever. What do I do, man?" And I'm like, waiting for that fix, right? And it got to be really almost an addictive thing, like, Oh, I need his energy. And it became disempowering. I think he knew that. So his answer started to become, "Well, what do you want to do?" I be like, "If I knew that, why would I be calling you?"

But it was one of those subtle teachings that was really what you just alluded to. It's at a certain point we are going to become disempowered if we're not our own guru. If we're not our own self-teacher and self-correct or able to access our relationship with the creator or our higher selves or our heart or intuition to be able to meander through life's challenges.

Manoj Dias: [00:44:09] Yeah. Otherwise, you develop a codependence with the teacher the same way you would in a relationship. You'd find these teachers because they ultimately point you toward the truth. And the truth is that you are the experience you're suffering a lot of it. You can create your freedom. You can free yourself from that too. 

So suffering, freedom, compassion, joy, everything is contained within our experience. It's not outside. It's not pointing to this other partner who will make you happy or this other job that will make you happy. No, because it'll be the same experience. It will probably replicate. But internally, if you find the conditions, if you cultivate the conditions to awaken yourself, then those for me are the true teachers. I think there's such humility in that in not claiming to be the Oracle, and I'm sure he didn't claim it himself. But the people that point you towards yourself, there's so much richness and depth in those people.

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Speaking of people and their unconscious misconduct, one massive spiritual tenet across many traditions Christianity, Buddhism, and so on is forgiveness. And something that I've wrestled with, I think at different times in my journey is reconciling forgiveness with enabling, right? Or it's like forgiving the perpetrator with the understanding that ultimately they're also a victim of their own experience and circumstances, their own unattended wounds and instinctive drives that lead them into being a perpetrator. 

But I've witnessed in myself, there's a certain limit to my capacity for forgiveness because there are certain acts that I believe are truly unforgivable. And it's taken me a while to wrestle with that and arrive that that's okay with me. Speaking specifically of perpetrators of harm in my life, where I gave them a blanket karmic pass of forgiveness because I was able to see them as also a victim. And also to not be disempowered by seeing myself as a victim and just erasing that dualistic victim-perpetrator model from the experience, but really going deeply, deeply into it. 

This is over the course of many, many years of reinvestigating it. But I have arrived in certain circumstances at a wall where I actually don't think I'm supposed to forgive them. If there's even a question in that, I'm just kind of riffing on something that I've been wrestling with inside and see what your perspective is on, how do we reconcile forgiveness when sometimes that entity or action is not actually forgivable?

Manoj Dias: [00:48:46] So let me ask you a question.

Luke Storey: [00:48:47] Yeah.

Manoj Dias: [00:48:48] So as you work towards trying to figure out this person and you've come to the conclusion that you can't forgive that person, how does that feel?

Luke Storey: [00:48:57] In this particular instance, this one person, it actually feels pretty good.

Manoj Dias: [00:49:02] And does it feel like you forgiving them would be you condoning them? Or their actions?

Luke Storey: [00:49:10] It feels like forgiving them would be a betrayal of my integrity. And a betrayal of my honor and magnificence as an imperfect human soul. So it's like somebody steals something for me or scratches my car and doesn't leave a note. That type of shit. The trivial stuff, super easy, like, Oh, my God, how many times have I been an asshole in my life?
I've done some horrible things in my early years in my unconsciousness or just micro forgiveness. You have a disagreement with your partner or something and they say something that hurt your feelings. I can instantaneously forgive people in the moment, but with trespasses of a certain degree or nature I have forgiven and then had to gone back and been like, "No, actually I don't think it's supposed to."

And so where I've arrived with it and open to any interpretation or take on this, this happened quite recently. I was just really working with this piece and I kept trying to go back in and forgive. It just wasn't happening. I wasn't able to do it. And then if I went one level above that, I was able to forgive that God or creation had created this polarized duality in which a perpetrator of evil and harm existed. 

So it's like I was able to forgive the whole karmic system in its entirety, but not the individual actor. And I felt reconciled in that because within that ultimately is a forgiveness of the perpetrator. Right. Because they're under the umbrella of this--

Manoj Dias: [00:51:00] The karmic seeds.

Luke Storey: [00:51:01] Yeah. This karmic dance that's going on universally in the field of consciousness or God. It's like God wants to experience itself. So it creates all the things. Rapists, murderers, pedophiles, they're part of God. And that's been part of the reconciliation to me. But the individual actor is a representation of that karmic system. It's a pass still.

Manoj Dias: [00:51:25] I think the first thing when it comes to forgiveness is really checking in and saying to yourself, "Is there an energy here that I need to transform?" If you've made peace with the incident, then perhaps there isn't anything to forgive. You've made peace with it. Where it becomes challenging is if you haven't made peace with it and there's still tension. You carry around this like, can't believe this person did it to me. I can't believe this person did it to me. Then that's something for you to work with. Now work with forgiveness.
My invitation, though, would be to explore forgiveness not as something that will somehow affect them, but as something that will transform you. And I look at it individually from my own self. Forgiving certain people in my life has just alleviated suffering from my own life because I've been carrying these things that I haven't forgiven. Carrying it with me. Carrying it with me. So forgiveness for me is a practice that ultimately just transforms me. It doesn't condone anything that this person has done. 

And ultimately, as you mentioned before, you look at the grand scheme of things. You look at karma in general, and that's a lifetime to lifetimes and lifetimes and lifetimes of burden that they will have to bear at some point. So when you understand the things that they have done will ultimately come back in some way, shape, or form, that for me also springs compassion. It's like, oh, this person is going to suffer and they probably are suffering now, but they're going to suffer a lot at some point in time. 

And forgiveness then is all about me. Like I forgive this person so I don't have to carry it with me. And it's that age-old example that could be a fake Buddha quote, I'm not sure, where it's the story of the Buddhist saying that walking around holding anger and resentment is like holding a hot steel rod and expecting the other person to be burnt. I think of that often. It's like, okay, forgiveness for me is me dropping that rod.

Luke Storey: [00:53:22] That's beautiful. There's a lot in there. Yeah. I think with that situation as I reflect on it now, I feel very complete. It's not something that I'm holding walking around all that fucker and seeking revenge or even wanting him to meet any suffering or eternal hell or damnation at the hands of his karma, that there is compassion there. But I think it's also a reclamation of my boundaries and my sovereignty.

That's why I think it feels good in my body rather than just like, oh, it's okay. I forgive. Forgive them for they know not what they do, that kind of thing. It's like, oh, he was also a victim. And that might be true, but it's like, no, now there's an adult in the room and the adult within me, my soul, my higher self is like, "Fuck that. I'm not tolerating any misconduct from myself first and foremost, and thus from anyone in my field or experience.

Manoj Dias: [00:54:15] That is compassion. In its purest form, we call it in Buddhism, the fierce sword of compassion. Because sometimes you can feel meek. When we talk about compassion, like, Oh, it's okay, let me go and make sure he's okay. And compassion is drawing a boundary. Like I care about myself enough that I'm not going to engage with this person. 

And it's also understanding that he is a byproduct of causes and conditions and he's reaping his own karmic seeds. So he will have an experience completely devoid of you in this lifetime or another. But that boundary is compassion. It's compassion for yourself saying, "There's nothing I need to complete in this experience. I feel whole. I feel complete. I'm at peace. Let's move on."

Luke Storey: [00:54:57] I love it. So I've been digging into your app. This to me, it's like a virtual studio for yoga, Pilates, meditation, breathwork mindfulness. Super, super cool. And when I log in there, which I usually do on my phone, and today I figured out you can do it on a desktop. I was like, "Oh, that'd be a lot easier to do yoga if I could put on my big monitor. "I was like, Oh, because I couldn't see my little phone.

So anyway, Open and we'll put a link. You guys at lukestorey.com/open wherein you guys can get this app for 30 days free, which is freaking awesome. So thank you for that. But I'm in there and you're doing like you did today. You're teaching all of these different techniques of mindfulness and all of these different breathing exercises that all have a different outcome like I did one today that I think was the two-minute espresso shot or something, right? It was this very active breath and it did. It worked because I had done some of the more calming ones earlier and I wasn't feeling really on point for the conversation we're about to have. 

But as I dig into the app and just sit here with you, I'm curious like, where did you learn all the different techniques? Because you seem to know a lot of different ones and also know the purpose and the outcome of each one. How did you put them together? How long it takes you to learn them all? Where do they come from? Did you make any of them up? What's the deal?

Manoj Dias: [00:56:21] Yeah. Luke, the Open app is all around exploring somatic mindfulness. And so when I talk about somatic mindfulness, I mean experiencing presence and connection in the body, not just from the mind, because there's a lot of that. When we experience things from the body, the breath is the conduit between the mind and the body. And so Breathwork is interwoven into each of our practices. 

And these aren't necessarily practices that we've plucked up out of the air. These are indigenous practices to my breathing. For example, what is the basis of WimHofs breathing practices? That's been around in the Tibetan system for so many years. Then we've renamed things like the espresso shot, it's another yogic breathing practice, but all of it is being designed so we can just arrive back into the body and just feel ourselves in this present moment in a different way. 

So even if we are doing yoga, there is this connection to our body and to the earth. If we're meditating, there's a connection with the breath, and all of it is being designed to just bring us to the here and now.

Luke Storey: [00:57:24] Awesome. Yeah. The other one that I did today, I'm just looking at my notes here was the spacious circular breath, the one that you taught in the app. And I've done a lot of breathwork and as I said, many years of Kundalini yoga, which involves many different areas that are breath centered, sometimes really long and extensive. So I was like, I think it was 10 minutes or something. I was like, "Oh, this is going to be no big deal." It was actually pretty, pretty vigorous.

And I was like, Oh shit, okay. I had to take a pause for a second. And then you invited me and in the experience to go at my own pace. And I was like, "Yeah, that was too fast. I actually can't keep up." So it was pretty intense. And I was like, "Wow, this is cool." Because just it's one of those things like you've just when you think you've tried everything like breathwork and they're done that. 

And I've practiced breathwork almost every day on my own. But as far as all the different techniques and styles, it's really fun to get in there and see that you're cracking different codes and going in different directions. I've been using the app for a while now, but today I wanted to just experience a bunch of different things in preparation for this. But another one I did with this, I think he was a Swedish guy. I forget his name was a vocal toning thing. That was super cool too. 

And it's interesting that I did it before we recorded was probably an hour before you came over and I thought, I need to do this before every podcast. Because oftentimes I'm waking up doing my thing. I might say hi to my wife, but I'm not actually using my voice. And then I sit down on a microphone and try to talk for two or three hours in some cases. And I was like, "Ooh, that has another application."

So I don't know, break down the vocal toning, the different stuff that you guys offer on there because it's very well done and I really want people to be motivated to check it out, especially people that live remotely, I think. Sorry to ramble here on this never-ending question, but I get a lot of messages from people that say I live in XYZ place. We don't have a local community that does yoga and breathwork and mindfulness or plant medicines or whatever. 

Like they just don't have that culture where they live. And so I think that's one of the most potent applications of what you've done with your app. Taking it for people that live rurally or just live in a culture that doesn't have that presence.

Manoj Dias: [00:59:39] Yeah, absolutely. And we launched this app in the middle of a pandemic. So it was designed for people to feel connected.

Luke Storey: [00:59:49] I guess I was thinking brutal because so many people try to launch businesses in the beginning of 2020 and just tank. But do you think that worked to your advantage because people are stuck at home and like wanting to get out of the anxiety of that whole experience?

Manoj Dias: [01:00:01] Yes, but we also had no choice. The other part of all of us were stuck by ourselves. So the app itself has been designed so you can find a community there. We have live classes when you jump on the laptop where you'll see a chatbox going off from before the class to the class ending. And people are like, "Hey, Janice, happy birthday, how's your thing going?" And we've seen a community start to form just around the life experiences. 

But also these practices have been designed to be functional. So just like you said, you were like, "Hey, I'm my voice. I haven't used it before." The vocal toning is a great one because it brings you into your body, activates your voice, it affects the vagal vagus nerve. So you start to feel yourself drop into a parasympathetic state right before a practice like this. But it's also there's practices like the espresso shot, like, Oh, I've got to wake up and I've already had a coffee, but I need something else. There's that. There's a pre-sleep breathing practice or a meditation practice. There's yoga that needs your practices. 

So all of these practices have been designed with the user in mind to drop them into their body and allow them to really choose what outcome they want, whether it's get up and go or wind down and sleep. There's a technology to that that we've designed and we've curated all of these to music, to not just popular music, but we've worked with independent record labels and artists because we know and one of our advisors is an ethnomusicologist, we know the power of sound in just the way that you are using your voice. I'm sure your partner was hearing you. There's also a resonance to that voice as well.

Luke Storey: [01:01:36] I was wondering that when I was down in my office. She's not going to be surprised by any weird shit that I do. But I wondered because I've never done that. And the whole time we've been together, or at least not just by myself. So, yeah, I was wondering, but carry on.

Manoj Dias: [01:01:49] Yeah. There's an intelligence and a technology to sound and breath, and we've tried to merge the two and deliver something that anyone, wherever they're living, can feel like first of all, connected to themselves, but then connected to a community of practitioners.

Luke Storey: [01:02:04] Yeah, that's a really key distinction actually, because the first time I logged on to the app and did a class, it was a live guided meditation with you. And I was maybe five or 10 minutes before and I logged in and I don't know, not registered, but whatever, raise my little hand in the chat or something. And then you're right like all these people started piling on like, "Oh, hey, hey, what's up? Glad to have you."

And then you seem to when you came on, then you recognized different names and we're interacting with those people and that's super cool again, especially for people that don't have, where I live, we're like 30 minutes from downtown Austin. I'm not driving 30 minutes to go to yoga class. Sometimes, but not really. If I could do it at home and not spend all that time driving, I would like it, especially if I can get that sense of community and start to get to know some of the people that are like-minded.

Manoj Dias: [01:02:55] Yeah, I think you may agree with this as well that over the long period of time your spiritual practice needs a community. You need other practitioners to be able to really aid, develop and go deep into your practice, but also hold you accountable and be a support system. And we call it a Sangha.

In Buddhist terminology, a Sangha is a community of practitioners gathering around something. And here at Open, it's a shared belief. It's a shared worldview, for example, and being able to log on even when you don't feel like it some days, and then seeing your favorite person on there and they're like, "Yoh, Luke, what's up?" This something in that, and it's something that we've carefully curated over the years and it's beautiful. It's really beautiful because you can also turn on your webcam if you jump on--

Luke Storey: [01:03:42] Oh really?

Manoj Dias: [01:03:43] If you jump on the desktop, and then so you get to see these people. So it then just doesn't become this 2D app where you're hitting play and stuff.

Luke Storey: [01:03:51] Is this a bot?

Manoj Dias: [01:03:53] Right. You then get to see those.

Luke Storey: [01:03:54] Dynamo state bot, there they are again. Yeah, that's super cool. I've literally never met anyone in my life who doesn't like a little sex from time to time. In fact, some folks like it a lot of the time. 

The thing is that for men, their physical readiness is an important part of making this happen. Remember the last time you were at the gas station and you saw on the counter those horribly branded erection pills? Did you ever take a second to see what's actually in those products? 

They are terrible for you, just super toxic. And the same goes for most of the medication on the market that claims to help men in the bed. But who wants a four-hour erection, nasty side effects, heart problems, and a possible trip to the hospital to get rid of that thing? 

Well, luckily for me and maybe some of the men listening, I recently found this really cool product called Joymode that fills this gap. It's a performance booster, much like a pre-workout, but for sex. It's really cool. Joymode's gig is that they make natural and science-backed sexual wellness supplements for men. Their sexual performance booster is designed to support erection quality and firmness and sex drive. It contains clinically supported doses of l-citrulline, arginine, yohimbine, and vitamin C.

To get yourself primed with the old Joymode, all you do is tear up in the sachet and mix it with a glass of water, just like your favorite electrolytes. And about 45 minutes later it's going to be magic time. You'll notice better blood flow, better erection quality, and firmness, and increased sexual energy and drive. I've actually taken this product myself many times, and frankly, I was shocked that it actually worked and provided zero side effects.

Do you gentlemen want to spice things up in the bedroom and boost your sexual performance? And do you want to do it naturally without those nasty prescription drugs? Well, we've got a special offer for Life Stylist listeners right here. Go to usejoymode.com/luke and enter the code LUKE at checkout for 20% off your first order. That's usejoymode.com/luke. 

Another thing I wanted to give you kudos for is-- just I'm just a visual person, I love beautiful aesthetics-- the site, the app, all the photography, and all the video is really well-lit. And also you mentioned the music. I was wondering that today and I had it in my notes. I was like, "Where are they getting this music?" The music is epic and in the one that I did today, your 10-minute circular breathing one, it's like it was timed and produced beautifully. 

You had your little intro and you're like, "Now we're going to speed it up." And the music hits with it. I'm like, "Dude, you really put a lot actually into the production value." I think that's the word I'm looking for. So how has that evolved? Where do you guys record the audio? The video looks really beautiful and in some far-out-looking studio. It looks like it's from the set of Dune or something. I'm just like, "These guys are doing this shit, right?" What's the secret sauce? How are you guys putting all this together?

Manoj Dias: [01:07:08] I think the meditation world is I'd like the worst marketing campaign of the last 2,500 years where we think it should be something. Should be photos of people in the Himalayas, or people in a bikini on the beach, those seem to be if you Google meditation, that's what pops up. 

But for us, we believe that it's a new dawn for mindfulness 2.0, which is more somatic, more visually engaging. It brings people into the experience. And then in relation to some of the amazing things you've said, we've recruited some of the best people from all around the world to help us create that. We have a director of music. He was our fourth hire at the whole company.

Luke Storey: [01:07:46] Oh wow.

Manoj Dias: [01:07:46] Because we believe music is so central and it unifies people. And people connect to music in a way that's very spiritual and very deeply meaningful. And then our head of production is the one we have to thank for all the beautiful visuals. And then our design was also carefully curated as well because we want to bring people into the experience and not make it exclusive, be it very inclusive. 

So our whole team-- you'll see people from all shapes and sizes, usually people that have different ethnic backgrounds and different looks, and there's a Canadian, there's an Australian, there's people from all over the place and it's all by design because really this practice should be accessible to everyone.

Luke Storey: [01:08:28] How much of your team works in physical proximity like you're based in Venice, right? How many of the team are there versus people all over the world that are making a contribution?

Manoj Dias: [01:08:38] Well, at the start of the pandemic, we were all in different places. I was in Austria, we had a Canadian, we had a team in SF, a team in LA. Now the majority of us are together, but we still have some teachers that teach out in Australia, and some in New York. In different locations.

Luke Storey: [01:08:54] Oh, okay, cool. And where do you guys shoot the yoga videos? What is that set? It's super cool. Oh, my God. I want to live there.

Manoj Dias: [01:09:01] Yeah, it's in Venice. It's in Venice, yeah. It's been designed to look like it's from the set of doom.

Luke Storey: [01:09:07] Oh, really? I'm not the first one--

Manoj Dias: [01:09:09] You are, but now I see the similarity.

Luke Storey: [01:09:11] It does. It has that kind of sandstone and is architecturally beautiful. All right. So again, I'm going to remind people listening, go to lukestorey.com/open and you're going to get to try out Open for 30 days for free. And thank you again for offering that. I think it's super, super useful. 

And also because doing these things in person can get very expensive. If you live in Venice or Manhattan and you want to go to a breathwork and yoga class movement class a couple of times a week, it's not that accessible to some people. Not everyone has that coin. So that sort of breeds this exclusivity. 

And I understand why rents are high on brick-and-mortar spaces and you've got to have a whole team and staff and insurance and all that. So I don't think people are gouging when it comes to that. But if you're going to go drop $55 to do a breathwork workshop or something like that, and not everyone has a budget for that. So I think that's another cool thing about this model.

Manoj Dias: [01:10:12] I think--

Luke Storey: [01:10:12] Just to make it really accessible to more people.

Manoj Dias: [01:10:16] Yeah, and that's a cool value of ours. So no one is turned away ever. So, for anyone that can't afford it, all they have to do is send us an email and we have scholarships that are available. We think our price point, it's just under $20 a month is pretty affordable as well considering what class will be.

Luke Storey: [01:10:31] I'm like, "Cancel Netflix and one of your Amazon things and you got that."

Manoj Dias: [01:10:36] These practices are also ancient. They should be accessible to everyone. And if they are exclusive, it becomes a very strange paradox in which we're living where we're charging someone to breathe like, this is how you breathe and charge us a lot of money for us to teach you that. The price point is very affordable and you'll learn techniques that you'll use in the course of your day.

Luke Storey: [01:11:02] Yeah. And I guess from the ethics perspective, but also understanding that you've got a big team of people and probably investors, it needs to be a profitable venture. It can't be free and everyone just goes broke, and then the thing goes belly up. But I think with all businesses, there's probably a sweet spot where the business can scale and function and be profitable for everyone involved. 

But the end consumer is also not getting ripped off. I don't think, I know it's possible for that to happen because some people like you are doing it. But I'm encouraging inviting more people, more founders to think from that mindset.

Manoj Dias: [01:11:41] Especially if you're doing something that is ultimately healing, it's something that you don't want to be inaccessible, something that is genuinely able to stop or help people suffer less and transform people's lives. And to put a really high price point on that just doesn't feel good. And it's something that we actively talked about as a company that we always want to be accessible. 

And with the money we do get, we want to be able to do good with it. And in order to do good with that, we have to generate some revenue. And we have a really wonderful model in which the money that comes in, we do amazing things, outreach programs, and scholarships locally and internationally. 

And we're also creating a business that we think is going to support a lot of people's lives, all our employees and the teachers. Teachers are people that aren't paid a lot. You've lived in LA a lot. As a teacher, you schlep around from class to class to studio and sometimes you make $20 a class. 

And these teachers give so much, they literally crack their heart open every class to be able to deliver something from that. And so to be able to reward them and to enable them to have a family is something really wonderful that we want to do.

Luke Storey: [01:12:53] That's awesome. Yeah, I love it, man. Who have been three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life that you can share with us today before you go?

Manoj Dias: [01:13:00] The first one was my daughter. I had my daughter when I was 19, transformed my life. It gave me a reason to look outside of myself for happiness because up until that point, it was all about my peak experiences and what I was getting. So she was the first one. 

The second was my teacher, the one that I met, Shina Dissanayake. He taught me compassion. He taught me about generosity and he taught me that being generous in my time, my money, and all of these things wasn't going to affect me in a negative way. It was actually going to be a positive for me. And he was the first one that really showed me unconditional love in my life. 

And the final was my mother as she was passing away. She passed away in December last year and she handled her death, which was from cancer, a very rare form of cancer, in such a graceful way that she had a final lesson, because up until that point, after having my first child, I was very hesitant towards having other children. I was like, "Oh, one's good." I've had her and she's great and we're best friends. And I was just very scared of having any more kids and diving into that world again.

But as my mother was passing away, she had one request and she was like, "I want to be in my home surrounded by my kids and my grandkids." And I had two months with her, and every day I'd ask her, "What is it that you want to do? What do you want to eat?" And she's like, "I've lived my whole life and I just want this one thing." And that final teaching of being surrounded by my brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and my daughter as my mother passed away just taught me that everything else in life comes and goes.

But the ability to be surrounded by your loved ones as you're transitioning into whatever life exists beyond this is something really sacred and special. So that was a transformative teaching for me.

Luke Storey: [01:14:58] Wow. Beautiful man. Thank you for sharing that.

Manoj Dias: [01:15:01] Thank you.

Luke Storey: [01:15:01] I feel it. I'm like, oh, man, that hits. Thank you for your time today. Thank you for creating Open, such an awesome service to humanity when I think we really need it. You could have taken any decade in recent history like, "Oh, we really need help. Humanity is about to go off a cliff." But I think right now, honestly, with everything going on in the world, man, we really need ourselves as individuals to do this work of evolution because it's bleak out there.

Manoj Dias: [01:15:31] If not for ourselves, for our kids, and the generations. Right?

Luke Storey: [01:15:34] Yeah, exactly. So thanks for joining us, man. And have a safe flight back home to my former city of Los Angeles.

Manoj Dias: [01:15:39] Thank you, brother. Thank you.

Luke Storey: [01:15:44] And that, my friends, was the premiere Life Stylist Episode of 2023. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling hella inspired to step up my meditation and breathwork practice this year starting today. And my sincere desire is that you to feel lit up to embrace some of the practices we discussed here.

To make that even easier, make sure to take advantage of your 30-day free trial of Manoj's app called Open. It's pretty damn awesome. Its simplicity, elegance, and ease of use make it a no-brainer to integrate into your life this year. To get on board, here's what you do. Go to lukestorey.com/open and use the code LUKE for 30 days free. So awesome. That's lukestorey.com/open or just click that link in the show notes app on your podcast player.

Now carrying on, continuing the theme of making this year the best ever. Next week's episode is going to deliver the goods, big-time folks. It's episode 452. It's called Home Sick: How Testing and Mitigating Mold, Water, and EMF Can Save Your Home and Your Health with Ryan Blaser. I just know next week's show is going to answer so many important questions about the air, water, lighting, and EMF in your home.

In fact, Ryan came out to Austin and did his old testmyhome.com magic inspection on our house. Then we discussed all the things he found in the middle of the inspection. So obviously, next week's show is an insanely value-packed episode, so please do the following. Click, follow or subscribe on your podcast app so that next week's show automatically downloads to your device. Now, if you want to go to the next level, visit lukestorey.com/newsletter right now. 

Seriously, just do this and get on my podcast publishing email list. This way, next week's link-filled episode will be delivered right to your inbox on Tuesday morning. And trust me when I say you're going to want all the show notes for this one. One more time for the folks and back. Go to lukestorey.com/newsletter and just enter your name and email to join the list and I'll send you all the goods every week. 

And with that, my lovely truth finders and seekers, I bet you farewell until next week's show. Happy New Year and know that you have my full commitment to bring you the best episodes in the world all year long rain or shine. Peace.



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