Renaissance Podcast Blog: Floatation tank - Alone with your thoughts

What is an Floatation tank, and what are you supposed to do in one? Team Renaissance return to Floatworks, St George Wharf for our 4th visit. My first visit dates back to 2013 and was a very relaxing and pleasant experience. However,  I have now been meditating for over 3 years and my goal this time was to focus on the breath and see if I could repeat my daily 20 minute practice for a full hour in the confines of an Isolation tank.  

The Isolation tank, or floatation tank, or the Sensory deprivation tank, is a fantastic tool to create an environment without distraction that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.  The water level is about knee high and is set to body temperature so that after 10 mins, you lose the sense of where your skin ends and where the water begins.  The water is full of about 1000 lbs of Epson salts, allowing the body to float. There is no sound, no light, no smell - no distractions. Imagine how you would feel for an hour in these conditions.

For many people, being alone with their thoughts is the last thing they would want to do.  We have so many distractions in our daily experience that we almost do not realise the madness of the continuous stream of thoughts that run wild in our monkey brain.  The purpose of this float, was to pay special attention to my thoughts.  

We have on average 60 thousand thoughts a day.  Shocking. Furthermore, we do not realise that spending all day in non stop thought is extremely bad for you health, both mental and physical.  You can search the benefits of meditation online and you will come across an infinite number of articles, videos, research papers that will confirm this.  

 

As opposed to simply 'relaxing' in the floatation tank, I had a specific exercise to complete.  A very short exercise that is as profound as it is simple:

1) Notice a thought as a thought

2) breath and bring the attention back to your anchor.

Easy? Not quite - My first aha moment in meditation was when i was first able to see a thought like a picture on a screen.  This separation helps so much with the exercise. Every time that I notice a thought on my imaginary screen, I take a breath... and the thought goes away.   This 2 step practice has changed my life completely and I practice every morning for 15 mins.  Peace and relaxation are a small benefit to the panacea of benefits that can be reached through meditation, but thats for another time.  (yep, panacea)

Gui  @descartesgui

 

Renaissancepodcast.com

Renaissancepodcast.com

I first found about the tanks on Joe Rogan's podcast and have to credit him for this great journey.  For all this and more, click here to get access to the podcasts.

Podcast for Happiness 1: Living Danishly with Helen Russell

Author and Journalist, Helen Russell

Author and Journalist, Helen Russell

We kick off the new Podcast for Happiness series with a wonderful interview with Helen Russell. Helen is the author of 'The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country.  I just finished listening to it on audiobook and it tells the story of her reluctant move from the UK, following her husband and his new job to Denmark. The book details Helen's mission to figure out the their secrets of Happiness.  Helen has written for the Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independant, The Daily Mail and Marie Claire among others.  

4:22 Helen talks about 'arriving somewhere new and having no friends, no family, no support network and not really any purpose' 

9:28 'There is something about making your home environment beautiful that contributes to happiness'

10:53 'There is not bad weather, there is just bad clothing' 

 13:10 We break down Maslow's Hierarchy of needs -  if you don't know about it, you have to listen in -best bit of life guidance you can get

15:29 'If you're worried about keeping a roof over your head, and keeping food on your table, then you don't have the head space to be happy'

21:30 The biological Danish advantages and 5HTT (the serotonin transporter, associated with happiness and wellbeing) 

24:10 Lego to manufacture its blocks using sustainable materials 

26:10 How Helen was introduced to the Action for Happiness group

30:40 The benefits of singing, alone and in a group - community

Follow up and find out more by reaching out to Helen and be sure to turn up at Conway Hall in Holborn on the 22nd of July. Get tickets here

Click on image

Click on image

Twitter: @mshelenrussell

Facebook: The Year of Living Danishly

Website: www.helenrussell.co.uk

Check out the Action For Happiness website (actionforhappiness.org) for more details about the great work they are doing, find out more about the events they hosting, notably the big one in September, where his holiness the Dalai Lama will be speaking at the event.  He will be promoting his new book, where he does acknowledge Action For Happiness for the great work they do.  Please also visit their donation page there and help to support this amazing charity, where our co founder Lord Richard Leyard is pioneering happiness as a metric to be considered when calculating the 'wealth of a country'.

PODCAST 39: Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents. Sam Himelstein talks about his new book.

Team Renaissance with Sam's first book -A Mindfulness-based approach to working with high risk adolescents  

Team Renaissance with Sam's first book -A Mindfulness-based approach to working with high risk adolescents  

Sam Himelstein is the author of two fantastic books on how to use and teach Mindfulness to troubled youth.  He joins Team Renaissance to talk about his journey since leaving the Mind Body Awareness project and about his new book, Mindfulness-based substance abuse treatment for adolescents.  He is a licensed psychologist, an author, trainer, and researcher and is currently a Behavioural Health Clinician at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center. 

Click image to order your copy now

Click image to order your copy now

A former troubled youth himself (listen to podcast 23), Sam explains how his new role allows him to spend more time doing what he is most passionate about in the juvenile prisons, working face to face with the inmates there.  To get a bit of perspective on the trauma suffered by these youth, when asked by Sam how many have witnessed a murder first hand, almost 3/4 raise their hand. What kind of detrimental effect does that have on the human brain?

This is Sam's second podcast with our team and we learn so much from him every time. It's one thing to try and learn this stuff on your own but to make it your life's work to take these important skills and share them with people that need it most is going above and beyond.  To support Sam and the great work that he is doing, check out the following:

-Sam's new website - Centerforadolescentstudies.com  Here you can find out more about the great work Sam is doing, watch his latest videos and get access to free courses and training material.

-Get your hands on a copy of his latest book - click here

-Download this podcast on to your mobile device (above)

Below is Sam's talk he gave in 2013 where he talks about the key ingredients of what it takes to really get through to the youth that he works with, the 'qualities of the facilitator'.  This is covered in depth in his first book, A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents - Click to Purchase a copy now


If you enjoy the podcast series and would like to show your support, visit Actionforhappiness.org   This organisation is helping to promote happiness and wellbeing.   Keep a look out for our biggest event yet in September as they host the Dalai Lama.

Monday the 15th of June,  Thupten Jinpa - thought leader and advisor to the Dalai Lama will be speaking at the Action for Happiness event - as he reveals how compassion can help us discover more happiness, less stress, a sense of purpose, better health and a longer life.

PODCAST 38: Floatation tank / isolation tank - Team Renaissance visit Floatworks

Team Renaissance return to Floatworks in Canary Wharf for our second visit. My first visit dates back to 2013 and was a very relaxing and pleasant experience. However,  I have now been meditating for 4 months and my goal this time was to purely focus on the breath and see if I could repeat my daily 20 minute practice for a full hour in the confines of an Isolation tank.  

The Isolation tank, or floatation tank, or the Sensory deprivation tank, is a fantastic tool to create an environment without distraction that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.  The water level is about knee high and is set to body temperature so that after 10 mins, you lose the sense of where your skin ends and where the water begins.  The water is full of about 1000 lbs of Epson salts, allowing the body to float. There is no sound, no light, no smell - no distractions. Imagine how you would feel for an hour in these conditions.

Anh and I explain in the most honest way we can about our experiences of that day, from his 'almost' mini anxiety attack to my battle with the silicon ear buds that I struggled with (to keep out the salt water) .  We talk about about the spiritual side of spending quality time with the mind and have a fantastic conversation about the positive take aways.

We introduce listeners through a 30 second mediation to show how easy it is, and also to highlight that just sitting silently is not meditation.  We also discuss the benefits of continued meditation that is so powerful that it is something Anh and I do everyday.   I first found about the tanks on Joe Rogan's podcast and have to credit him for this great journey.  For all this and more, click on the media player above.

Gui @descartesgui

Click image to visit Action for Happiness

Click image to visit Action for Happiness

If you have enjoyed the content and would like to make a donation, please see the link below that takes you directly to the Action for Happiness website's donation page.  This amazing charity is leading the way in spreading Happiness globally and we support them 100%.

Floatworks, 32 Skylines Village, Limeharbour London, E14 9TS Nearest Station: South Quay DLR

Floatworks, 32 Skylines Village, Limeharbour

London, E14 9TS

Nearest Station: South Quay DLR

PODCAST 37: Return of the Mind Body Awareness Project - Executive Director, Roger Miller and Senior Instructor, Micah Anderson

Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankl famously wrote 'Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude, in any given situation.'  Imagine your current situation is locked up in prison, possibly the worst place on earth.  For anyone to say that they can chose to be happy or not is pretty remarkable especially when society and its laws have condemned you to time in jail.   We are joined again on the podcast by Californian based Mind Body Awareness Project who are pioneering the mindfulness movement in US prisons.   Their techniques and methods are being scaled out globally thanks to the amazing research and experience that this wonderful organisation brings. 

Their mission is to help youth transform harmful behaviour and lead meaningful lives through mindfulness meditation and emotional awareness.  Executive Director, Roger Miller and Senior Instructor, Micah Anderson fill us in on the highlights of 2014 and the plans for this year too. 

Executive Director, Roger Miller

Executive Director, Roger Miller

Senior Instructor and former guest Micah

Senior Instructor and former guest Micah

A sad statistic is that 70 -80% of youth are re-arrested in 2 to 3 years and 38-58% (depending on geography) are found guilty of new offences within a few years.  This sounds like a system that is failing and demonstrates that the Prison Systems is set up as a business and not as a place to rehabilitate and nurture good humans beings.  We are depending on organisations like the MBA Project to help find a solution to this tragedy  and help to make a positive dent in the reoffending numbers.  

Recidivism : A tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially : relapse into criminal behavior.

Many of the inmates are without role models or mentors that we all need in order to improve our lives and help to find meaning.  The seeds being planted in the youth by the MBA Project deals with are techniques that can be used at anytime.  It's a teaching that helps people to see that they have more control of their thoughts, and with this comes an ever growing list of benefits, of which less stress, more compassion, maturity, less suffering are all on.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is on their board of directors and has praised this group highly by saying that the MBA Project have developed a powerful language that can get through to the hearts and minds of these troubled youth and that can be scaled out.

In the last 5 mins of the podcast we touch briefly upon the subject of Vepassana -One translation for this word is, insight into the true nature of reality.  We begin to explore the deeper, more spiritual aspects of mindfulness.  This is a subject that I cannot get enough of and we will be revisiting this subject on future podcasts.

PODCAST 36: We guide best friend Eddie through his first 2 meditations - reactions and questions ensue...

This podcast begins immediately after Eddie's first mindful meditation.  The very brief 60 second excercise was sufficient to trigger the interest that allowed for the rest of the Podcast.  Meditation is not sitting silently, nor is it praying or doing anything remotely religious.  Eddie is one of my closest friends and introduced me to Eckhart Tolle's amazing book 'the Power of Now' almost a decade ago.  Having said that, he had never formerly meditated.  We wanted to convince him that the daily practice is different than just understanding the concept. Co-host Anh and I use this Podcast as a revision of what we have been learning but also to put it into practice. With the help of YouTube videos featuring Russell Simmons, Eckhart Tolle and Sam Harris (videos below) we break them down with our own comments and thoughts.  We never intended this to be a Podcast, but the experiment of guiding a 'newbie' through a meditation would be a great learning experience all-round.

When trying to explain Mindfulness, what better way than to refer to the videos that have inspired us?  Below are the time stamps for when we discuss certain topics.  I have also added the videos that we are referring to and I would recommend everyone to watch. 

-What are the benefits of daily meditation? why is there unnecessary unhappiness in my life? what is a thought? : 31mins22secs  

-Eddie is guided through his second meditation - listen in as we discuss his experience: 18min45sec

-Whats the difference between being religious and being spiritual? 43min 

-Oprah interviews Eckhart Tolle about the ego: we discuss this: 44mins

-Are we separate from our thoughts, the dissolving of the ego - self identification with the stream of thinking :47mins25secs

Russell Simmons: 51mins someone who has all the money he needs, explains why the most important thing is being 'present' and this is also where happiness comes from. 

The final part of the podcast was really fun for me and its something we will be doing more of.  We play a video and pause it regularly to reflect and discuss the bits we find fascinating 1hour34mins.  The video below is the full length film that we are basing our comments on.

PODCAST 35: Action for Happiness Director - Dr Mark Williamson

The Renaissance podcasts have changed in direction and flavour throughout our evolution and one of our key objectives has always been trying to understand what makes us happy.  This question has lead us to have many great conversations but has also put us in touch with a global group that is leading the way in happiness research and awareness. 

Action for Happiness Director, Dr Mark Williamson

Action for Happiness Director, Dr Mark Williamson

If you think you have an idea of what happiness is, or are completely at a loss, then you should probably take the time to listen to this podcast and hopefully it will open your eyes to new ideas and philosophies. Although quite simple, the effects can be life changing.  Co-host Anh first introduced me to this organisation a year ago and since then have supported its events and followed them closely through their website and videos.  This is also where I was introduced to the idea of Mindfulness and it's been a blessing in my life ever since. Check out the short video below: 

Mark talks about Neil Crofts book, Authentic: how to make a living by being yourself.  3 simple questions that could help you to understand your purpose in life. 

1)What are you really talented at?

2)What are you really passionate about?

3) What makes you angry? What do you want to change in this world? 

If you can answer these questions authentically and can combine the answers, you could find your purpose in life.  Check it out and let me know if that triggers something inside you. 




Click on image to access the website

Click on image to access the website

'The biggest challenge we face as humanity is our belief that our progress is tied to perpetual economic growth and consumption of stuff...It's not just killing our planet, it's killing us.' -8 mins 45

I was fortunate enough to get some time with Action For Happiness Director, Dr Mark Williamson over a beer, following a talk he gave late 2014.  Following several email exchanges we were honoured to have Mark join us on the podcast.

Mark has been Director of Action for Happiness since October 2010. Prior to this he has an amazing resume of education with an MBA from IMD business school, holds a PHD and 1st class Hons degree in Electronics and communications from Bristol uni and is a Sainsbury management fellow and chartered engineer. Mark spent nine years as a management consultant at Accenture. and before this he also worked for Hewlett Packard Labs and Orange. After more than a decade of corporate life, Mark decided to change direction and is now using his energy and leadership skills to help build a better society.

Click on the image below to find out more about the 10 keys to happier living:

-The Dalai Lama became a patron for Action for Happiness last year and even mentions this organisation in his upcoming book .  Check out 50 min30.

-Mirror Neurons : We are wired to care and have empathy for each other 23 mins33

Team Renaissance

Team Renaissance

PODCAST 34: Dealing with Death - Team Renaissance

Losing a loved one is a very tricky thing to deal with.  Team Renaissance are in the house to talk about dealing with death.  My granddad passed away last week and we discuss the difficulties of trying to find happiness and mindfulness during these stressful times. The daily meditations that I was becoming so used to doing were almost impossible to do once I found out my Pappy had passed.   This has only encouraged me further to improve my mediation abilities, especially to prepare me for these extreme situations.   As we talk about death, we also play some of Sam Harris' video on this subject and we also play some of Steve Job's Commencement 2005 speech where he too touches on the subject of death and life.  ''If you live each day as if it were your last, some day you'll be right''  Turn death into a motivator and a driver to exceed in life. 

Listen to the media player above for the full episode and also take a look at the videos below for amazing inspiration. 

RIP Mum, Pappy and Mammy.  Love and miss you all. Through Mindfulness, strength is known.

RIP Mum, Pappy and Mammy.  Love and miss you all. Through Mindfulness, strength is known.

PODCAST 33: British #1 Christi Brereton -Chaos Gym

Christi Brereton is the #1 British fighter at 55kg's and she's just defended her Title with a mega 4th round TKO at Unleashed IV in Telford.  A lovely honest podcast with an amazing woman and champion who is paving her own path to achieve her goals of becoming World Champ again. 

For me, she is the next Ronda Rousey of Muay Thai and it's a fighter that I am always very excited to watch.  Her last 3 fights have been wars in which she was victorious against the former English, European and world champion Alexis Roufus and also French Champion Soraya Bucherie who was 54 -4!  On the 30th November, she defeated Helen Wilson of Headhunters martial arts academy.  

PODCAST 32: Double K's Charlie 'Boy' Peters

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 12.00.41.png
Introducing new co-host Dave Tieu  

Introducing new co-host Dave Tieu

 

The videos below are fun short clips that Charlie made on his Go Pro. Check out both his time in Thailand and Amsterdam.  We're gonna Tweet these out and if you like them give them a shout out.  Feel free to comment below:

Podcast 32 and the first in a series of fighter podcasts - Following the success of the Team Tieu interviews, I have had requests from listeners to have more similar style podcasts and I have been fortunate enough to meet the best British and European Muay Thai fighters.

Our guest today, fights out of Double K gym and has an incredible 42 wins and 7 loses.  He last fought at the SUPER MTC show, where he battled it out to take the victory against Team Tieu's Baby faced assassin, Carlton Lieu.  He is a fighter that truly encompasses all the qualities of one of the greats both inside and out of the ring

Listen in as Charlie breaks down the pieces that have contributed to his amazing career.  He left school at 16 and worked full time at Toni & Guy. Was an avid Rugby player but had to sacrifice this as it clashed with the hairdressing job. 

He was taken to his first Muay Thai class at Semtex Gym and this path led to him moving to Thailand where he fought 16 times.  What a way to be thrown in at the deep end - Respect

We talk about the influence  that 3 times Muay Thai World Champion, Kieran Keddle has on Charlie to this day.

Charlies' next big fight is coming up in February 2015 in Portugal, so we will be following that closely. 

Stream the podcast on the media player above or download to your phone  to listen while your on the tube or doing the dishes,

Follow Charlie Boy @Charlieboy_p

On Instagram @Charlieboyp

 

PODCAST 31: Super MTC with Team Tieu

Click media player above for full podcast - In the studio was : Phil, Dave, Matty, Hui, Richard, Carlton and Q. 

Click media player above for full podcast - In the studio was : Phil, Dave, Matty, Hui, Richard, Carlton and Q. 

Team Tieu join the Renaissance team to talk about what went down at the biggest Muay Thai show in the UK.  We talk about the highlights of the day and some of the lessons learned.  With 8 A-class fights, 6 International fights and 3 title fights, Koko's in Camden was electric and packed out.   This one is not to be missed!

MAIN CARD

-Davide Scacco (Italy) vs to David Sa -Team Tieu Referee stoppage, fighter unable to continue

-Reece Thompson, Mungkondam (20-6) vs Joseph Lasri (Italy) Team Tieu

-Soraya Bucherie BMTC France (54-4) vs Christi Brereton, Chaos Gym England (15-4)  This was the highlight for me.  This International title fight went the distance with Christi demonstrating why she is the best in England and continues her amazing streak following her last amazing win against Alexis Roufus.

-Ryan Ward, Stars Gym (5-0) vs Michael Pham, Team Tieu (9-4)

-Sam Gough, Shin Kicks (9-2) vs Ryan Li , Team Tieu (10-1)

-Andrea Castiglione, Thai Way Union Italy (16-4) vs Jose Valera, Team Tieu (27-9)

-IIyess Bouzerouata, France vs Ash Uddin, KO Gym (12-5)

-Charlie 'Boy' Peters, Double K Gym (36-7) Vs Carlton Lieu, Team Tieu 13-3

 

Mr Q and G behind the scenes with the interviews

Mr Q and G behind the scenes with the interviews

The way you are in the ring is the way you are in real life
— Philip Tieu - Head coach and founder Team Tieu