Jason Garner is a father, husband, former concert promoter and spiritual student who spent the first 37 years of his life working his way up from flea market parking attendant to executive at a Fortune 500 company – an impressive feat that took countless hours of energy, hard work, and dedication. As the former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation, he worked with rock stars and sports legends, and was twice named to Fortune Magazine’s list of the top 20 highest paid executives under 40. Sounds pretty great… unless you consider the fact that Jason firmly adhered to the belief that in order to be loved, he had to be the best at everything that he did.
The sudden death of his mother from cancer caused him to re-evaluate what was important in life… and to finally, breathe. He discovered that true happiness in life is not found in a paycheck or job title, but comes from within. In this new phase of life, he has spent thousands of hours studying with some of the world’s most renown spiritual teachers, including traveling to China to learn from the monks at the Shaolin Temple. He is the author of the upcoming book And I Breathed: My Journey from a Life of Matter to a Life that Matters – a collection of essays sharing the perspectives gained by the lessons he learned on his journey, and which he continues to discover along the way. Here’s Jason with some of the best tips, tricks, and lessons he’s learned about finding peace from within…
When I feel overwhelmed I...
Take long deep breaths and repeat the mantra, “I love you for who you are, not for what you do” over and over again. Overwhelmed usually means that I have attached my self-worth to a particular action or outcome. I remind myself that I am loved just the way I am, regardless of what’s happening in the moment, and then allow the breath to deliver that message to my body.
My favorite way to take a break is to...
My wife and I take a walk every day and use that time to reconnect, to sort out the day’s lessons and to breathe and move our bodies.
Daily necessity for sanity:
I believe that a daily practice is the key to staying on the path you have chosen. Life always presents detours and distractions. My daily practice is my touchstone – that one thing that always gets me back on track and insures that I never can get too far off course. Our family has a morning daily practice that consists of yoga, Taoist breathing, and meditation, topped off with a decadent cacao smoothie for breakfast.
Best tactic for staying calm under fire:
Breathe. Our brains are really good when it comes to fight or flight. So when a stressful situation arises the brain thinks it knows exactly what to do. The challenge arises when fighting or running isn’t the preferred outcome. In those moments, (which are most of the time), long, deep, controlled breaths tell the body, cell by cell, that all is well. By sending the message that all is well, you dismiss the brain’s fight or flight and allow your heart and intuition to guide the way.
Fave way to detox:
My wife, Dr. Christy, is an expert on detox. I’d like to tell you that I have a special ritual. But the truth is I just do whatever she says! I also find that writing is a spiritual and emotional detox for me. It allows me to release trapped energy, feelings and thoughts into my blog – it’s like a detox for my soul!
Fave way to refuel and replenish energy:
Herbal Master Ron Teeguarden taught me how to brew Chinese herbal teas. Each week I apply his teaching and make a tea for the week. I consume herbs like Wild Ginseng, Cistanche root and Reishi mushroom, to tonify and strengthen my body. The wisdom and power of Chinese herbs is unparalleled and have been used for thousands of years. It’s my secret weapon for health and longevity.
Green juice. I know that we usually associate green juice with heath alone. But all the stress we feel is transmitted to our cells, and stressed out cells constrict and prevent the flow of nutrients and energy that our body needs. I’ve found that telling my mind to not be stressed in a stressful situation is often a futile exercise, like telling your small baby not to cry when she’s hungry- it just doesn’t work. A green juice tells my cells they are loved, it allows them to expand and breathe, which in turn allows my body’s energy to flow freely and that message is transmitted back to the brain. When I know I am going to be in a stressful situation I make sure to have a green juice.
Monthly must for self-care: I
I have a very special teacher in Los Angeles who is like a father to me, Guru Singh. I make sure to see him at least once a month. His wisdom, love and presence really brings me back to center and clears up any blind spots I am experiencing. I really believe that surrounding ourselves with people who practice what we want to practice is essential. They crowd out the negativity and societal programming that we want to avoid. Guru Singh is that for me. It’s the reason I created my blog, to share all the lessons I have learned and to pay them forward.
Mantra for slowing down: When
When we say slow down, what we really mean is to be present. A lot has been written about being here and now – from Ram Dass to Eckhart Tolle. The best advice I’ve heard on this came from Dr. Vera Dunn who taught me to breathe and find colorful objects to focus on. In nature this might be the delicate petals of a red rose, at the office it could be a florescent yellow marker, at home it’s often my wife’s beautiful blue eyes. The point is to be where you are by really seeing your surroundings. And then life just slows down all by itself.
Thing that always brings me back to center:
It might sound funny, but I find that a good cry is often so healing.When my mind has made a mountain out of a molehill, and it all seems overwhelming, I sit down on the floor, get in touch with the fear and pain, and then just cry for a few minutes. It’s a very honest way of honoring my experience and then letting it go. After a few minutes I feel so much lighter and freer. Society often attaches a stigma to crying, but I choose to use it as a tool.
Circumstances under which you turn off your phone:
Working, parenting, and living in a world where our phones provide so much of our daily info, this is a really tough one that I think everyone is still figuring out. I turn mine off when I find my mind is instinctually reaching for the phone even when there is no need. That realization is a tool for me to know that it’s become an unwanted habit. So I turn it off to remind myself that it’s unnecessary. The other time is when my family makes me aware that they need dedicated presence. Sometimes we are all sitting together and everyone is one their phones and I’ts just silly. Without the phones we can really connect and that’s so much more important that Angry Birds or Twitter updates!
What's your curfew:
We all know that feeling of wondering how we used to stay up so late as kids! We start our morning practice at 6:30 am so my body usually sends me to bed early. It’s a very rare night that I am awake past 10pm.
Where do you find sanctuary:
It’s so difficult to find external sanctuaries. I really believe that the only real sanctuary is my heart. That’s why a daily practice that includes meditation is so important to me. The practice of meditation gives me a place to go when life gets tough. For me that place is my heart and the path there is my breath.
How do you find rest in a chaoticschedule: I
I remember being with my mom at the daycare center she ran. Every day they would put all the children down for a short nap in the middle of the day. When I feel tired, I put a gentle mantra on my ipod (I love Deva Premal and Miten’s, “In The Light of Love”) and just close my eyes. Sometimes I take a full nap and sometimes it’s just a five-minute respite from the chaos of the world. Either way just a short get away, on a lunch break or a free moment in the day, tells my body that I am listening to it and provides the rest I was seeking.
Best piece of advice ever received on balance:
One of my teachers, Taoist Grandmaster Mantak Chia told me simply, “When you boil all the great teachings down, they all simply come back to balance.” I love the simplicity of that message because it makes spiritual peace available to us all. Beyond all the modalities and tactics if we just take small, daily steps towards balance we know we are on the path.
My mom was a single mom who worked three jobs to make ends meet. I remember so many times where she just needed to be told that she was loved. My inspiration comes from all the people, like my mom, who are just doing their best. My mission is to share simple messages that provide the peace of mind my mom didn’t have…to say simply, “You’re not alone. I understand you. And here is what I have learned to help.”
Best reads/resources on the topic:
I’m a little biased right now towards what I am sharing on my blog – it’s a compilation of my observations on the world and the great lessons I’ve been blessed to learn in business, wellness and spirituality. If I’m not plugging myself (just kidding!), here are three books that I personally love: The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton, Buried Treasures: The Journey From Where You Are to Who You Are by Guru Singh and Real Happiness at Work by Sharon Salzberg.