Jan. 10, 2022

E175: Destroying Debt and Wealth Blocks With Daoist Meditation with Nate Rifkin| Trauma Healing Coach

In this episode, we have guest speaker Nate Rifkin. When I had this conversation with Nate, so many parallels hit home to me in this way that it's tough for me to describe because I've never dived into the conversation about the money trauma that I...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e175destroying-debt-and-wealth-blocks-with-daoist-meditation-with-nate-rifkin-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes

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In this episode, we have guest speaker Nate Rifkin.

When I had this conversation with Nate, so many parallels hit home to me in this way that it's tough for me to describe because I've never dived into the conversation about the money trauma that I have. Growing up homeless, poverty, watching bills, never get paid, the water turned off, the electricity turned off, heat and gas turned off, and just always going through this.

And so, this conversation was so interesting because Nate talks about these parallels, which I think are incredibly important between your mindset, meditation, habits, and wealth.

When Nate Rifkin began his journey, he was suicidal and drank alcohol every morning to get through the day. He dropped out of college, went broke, bankrupt, and even worked on street corners waving around a sign.

However, Nate learned a little-known spiritual discipline that helped him transform his thoughts, emotions, financial life, and find love. He’s described his journey and the transformative practice he learned in his book, The Standing Meditation. Nate lives in Golden, Colorado with his lovely wife.

This is one of my favorite episodes in a long time, I'm very excited about it. Take some time to listen to this episode because Nate brings you a tremendous amount of value today!

-Be Unbroken.

Learn more about Nate Rifkin at:  https://www.thestandingmeditation.com/

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world today. Super excited to be joined by my guest Nate Rifkin. Nate is an author and an incredibly interesting human being who has found a way to step into creating massive change from failure. Nate, my friend, how are you today? What is going on in your world, my friend?

Nate: Well, all kinds of stuff I'm talking to you. So thank you for having me Michael, I'm excited too.

Michael: Yeah, it's my absolute pleasure, my friend. Those of you who don't know are not familiar with you, you have this experience of finding really effectively what we can call rock-bottom transforming that and putting yourself in a position where now you become a number one, best selling author and in your journey I see so many parallels in mind. And so before we dive in and we get started, I'd love for you to take a few moments and talk about your journey and your experience of how you got to where you are today.

Nate: Yeah I'd love to, be my honor. So I come from a really emotionally shut down, really cold family, a really distant household and I was really angry, depressed, kid growing up. As I got older and older and older, I got more and more depressed like I didn't really make any friends in school, didn't care about my grades and I could not get a date to save my life, I mean, prom night, I stayed home and watch TV. So I got to college and I thought things would be different but I was still the same awkward kid, even though I was around a whole new group of people. So I started thinking more and more about like why am I spending all this money to be in a place I don't want to be and we're on miserable. So I actually dropped out three semesters dropped out, I said goodbye to nobody. The only person, you probably knew I was gone was my roommate because he probably walked back into a dorm in those like empty or half empty. So I actually dove in to self-help and and I want to be an entrepreneur. So I started studying all kinds of self-help, I start setting all kinds of goals, studying marketing business advertising and create an online startup is actually in the health niche and I use my own credit cards to do all this by the way. So I had some hit or miss success by start going deeper and deeper into credit card debt, I mean I would get a bill credit card, bill in the mail and when I started maxing them out and I started having like less and less money in my bank account, Oh, just take the bills, put them on the floor and I drop another bill on top and then another letter on top, to hide it all, which is a terrible financial strategy, by the way, it did not work.

And I started getting more and more scared because I started wondering is the floor just going to drop out underneath me when all this debt just gets too much to handle, that was bad. But what was even worse is I was just still that same depressed guy and I supposedly an adult I was in my early twenties this time, but I still I felt like that same kid, I didn't know what to do and at my worst I'd have these looping looping, thoughts of just hating myself and sometimes I'd end up on the floor in the fetal position like silently crying to myself and I felt so frustrated because all the goals I setting, financial goals, relationship goals I never achieved a single one.

I've had a vision board that I made and a glue stick the thing and when on the rare occasions we'll come over I'd hide it because it's just so embarrassed about it, well, I didn't get anything on that vision board to come true either. So, I actually got so bitter and jaded and frustrated, that something was missing from all this, like, self-help that I thought would work. I thought, I really thought it would work, but I got so jaded about, I gave all that goal setting up and and I really gave up on myself and I started drinking alcohol every morning. So I pour like a couple of shots of vodka and a glass and top it off with like an energy drink and that was my breakfast. And that was my coping mechanism for how I was really like – drowning out suicidal thoughts because there were times when I was on the floor in the field position, I thought about killing myself.

So that was like my rock bottom, so it's like you said, we started here. I found my way to it and that was my rock bottom. The upshot though was that I had a teacher in the business realm, who was really passionate about the Daoist Spiritual Tradition.

Now, I never been involved in spirituality and I no idea really what Daoism was, I may be heard of the word but he started teaching some of the foundational meditations from Taoism and something about caught my eyes, like it sounded kind of interesting. I learned about how these, like, Taoism meditation is used by largest it was used by martial artist, people who achieve like enlightenment, so something bad struck, struck me. So I made a promise to myself, it's like, okay, I'll start trying this whole house meditation stuff and I'll do it every day and I decide I do a little meditation after I got up in the morning, like I brushed my teeth, do my thing, do a little meditation and I still went and I drank alcohol after that, so I didn't stop.

And put a funny thing happened, I start with just a minute per day and I just started inching my way up when I add 5 seconds per day and I do more and more and more and I started actually getting kind of a cool buzz like I felt good from doing this meditation and the buzz I felt caught up with the buzz, I got from alcohol. So I noticed this one day because I was feeling pretty good for meditating and then when I went to take a swig of that, vodka energy, drink combo, I didn't feel any better from it, I just felt drunk. So I'm like, okay, this is interesting, I wonder what happen if this trend continues well within a day or two eyes feeling so good from meditating that when I took a drink of that alcohol in the morning, I felt a little bit worse and I actually decided I'm going to stop drinking alcohol in the morning, and it wasn't like willpower wasn't like, oh, I got to stop this, I just didn't want it anymore. And I mean, this is just what happened to me, it's my story, I'm not saying it's like same results, apply to everyone. It's not like a cut out alcohol out of my life forever, but it was interesting to me how I start to feel better about the way I thought about myself and I start to feel like more at peace at home in my body.

So, as time went on, I kept meditating more and more and there I still remember one night, it was a spring night and I was living in Boulder Colorado at the time, and it was around midnight, and it's like the outside I had the window open, the crickets are chirping and I kept doing Meditation and this one time in particular I felt like, my body was like glowing like the sun. It was remarkable, I never experienced anything like it, and I sat down on my futon after and I thought to myself, I'm going to dedicate my life to this because nothing else has worked like this Taoist path has for me on that was about 13 years ago, give or take. And now my mission is to tell others about it because I found the best way to start, ridding yourself of the stuffy don't need so you can live a life that you truly love.

Michael: Yeah, that's right powerful, man. That's quite the journey, you know, I feel so many parallels in that in my own experience and looking back on my life, and taking debt was everywhere around me when I was a child and so, the only thing I ever knew is like, I will never forget this, like, people would call the house and my mom would be, like, never answer the phone because it was always a debt collector. So inherently, I brought this money trauma into my life from her money trauma and though, you know, so on and so forth forever. And it was really funny because I started getting these bills in the mail and I would just put them underneath the other ones, I go, they'll forget about it, they're not going to remember me, I only owe only 8 thousand dollars, why would they care and then slowly but surely you see that actually turns into stepping into these other behaviors that are based on avoidance, right? And those behaviors, those really start to become habits, right? Because we look at it, it's about satiation, it's about removing yourself from the pain of the immediacy of having to make the difficult choice of picking up the phone and calling them and going, I don't have any money, right? And yet we take these habits, and we leverage them, and then, suddenly, they become lifestyle. I know, one of the things that you talked about that I think is really important and powerful where I'd love to go deeper here is about this idea about harnessing the power of your bad habits to more easily create good ones.

Nate: Yeah, I love what you just shared and you brought up actually a memory and me. I remember my cell phone, like I would just get terrified when that thing would ring because I knew someone on the other end looking for me to pay the debt, I owe to them whether it's a credit card company or whether they, farmed it out to a private debt collection firms like, I still remember that. But yeah, I've discovered how to create these good habits from bad ones and I discovered it accidentally because it was like I mentioned earlier, I promised myself, I would start this happen to meditating daily. So what did I do? I figured to myself. All right, I'll do it in the morning after I get up, no problem and I was still drinking so I figured to myself, okay, well I'll do before I drink, like, at least I'll do that and I made no promise to myself to actually stop drinking. But what happened was, I was choosing a time in my schedule to slot in this new habit and I like to mentally like picture it as like an on a bookshelf, you'll have two bookends so you can prop a book between them and slide it right in and won't topple over, I was doing that with habits. So I already had the habit of brushing my teeth, I already had the habit of drinking, so I fit something in between and I didn't say to myself, okay, I'll meditate for like an hour or half an hour, no, I started with just 60 seconds because it wasn't about the time like immediately doing it for like a long time.

It was doing it daily because once I started doing it daily, it would get more ingrained into my brain as something that I do and once it became in grains deep enough that became part of my identity. So once it was part of my identity like oh, yeah, and part of my morning routine, I meditate that's just part of who I am now, then I could lose the other bookends. I didn't necessarily need to do it right after brushing my teeth and I no longer needed to do it before I drank, in fact, the energy of this new habit and the positive effects who's having on me, like, psychologically, energetically, spiritually it knocked out my bad habit, so and I didn't know this would happen, it just all came about, it was almost like I was taking the life force of the bad habits and putting the energy into the good one. And once it was like, it was like growing a plant, once it got strong enough and big enough, I didn't need that bad habit anymore.

So today, I use that all the time and I recommend that to anyone if they want to instill a new habit, find out where he could slip it into the stream of your day because we all the things we don't want to, you know, do like scrolling on social media, we getting sucked into that drama, or plop it down on the couch and watching Netflix, we all have these things. So I always recommend whatever your good habit is put a little slice of it right before your bad habit. So now you can lease use your bad habits as a reward and once you do that and you do for long enough for it to become part of your identity, your unstoppable.

Michael: Yeah, and I think it's so fascinating about that as I measure this idea of, you know, this is such a habit conversation driven culture that we live in, that I think the area people often missed the boat on is the repetitiveness of it, right? Someone asked me recently they said what was my definition of success? I said unabashedly repeated, like just being so repetitive just so unabashedly like I'm just going to do every single day even though it's boring even though it sucks, even though I don't want to because on a long enough time line that's like, where you really start to see the shift happen. Did you find that in the experience of like, slotting in this good habit, between these bookends that it was through just doing it again and again that it was most profound?

Nate: Oh! Absolutely. I think my 20s was, my decade of figuring out all the boring unsexy stuff that would give me the exciting, sexy results like in my 30s and 40s, absolutely, because it's not as exciting to maybe talk about, it doesn't get you jazzed up, but it's these like habits, it's like the positive version of like water torture where it's like, drip drip, drip, but it's the positive version that because it strips are working for you and building something wonderful. Well, let's look at this way, we're talking about debt, what happens when you go down that downward spiral of debt? The interest starts eating away at you and it's building up and building up until eventually, you could barely afford the interest payments on your debt, that's a negative example of that slow accumulation of something happening day-by-day, that's a destructive version of that, but we can harness the positive version of that and have that slow drip, drip, drip doing the same thing every day, having a workout routine, having a mindfulness meditation routine or having routine for how we're going to consume our food that nourishes us or something we're studying or working toward a career or an entrepreneurial journey we love that same drip can actually become a tidal wave actually works for us. I mean, that's the basis of investment, it's super boring and then you have these people who just had average jobs and they retire, millionaires. Boring; sexy result though.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And I think in that so much of it as you know, looking at life through a positive spectrum, that's not to say that there's not negativity because I mean for sure there is, especially in the age that we live and it's arguably the most negative time in the existence of human history, but there's always positivity and the ability for me and I know this conversation necessarily about debt, but I want to parlay here and find the equator. You know, one of the things that I think about on this is you are your own worst enemy and debt, is this weird thing that carries. I feel like a different weight and shame of with it than most other things. How was it that you went through this phase of, okay, I'm suicidal, I'm drinking in the mornings, I got this tremendous amount of debt, your own worst enemy effectively then leveraging and turning your mind into your ally because I hear so much of this. I don't know anyone and that you can be the first one, I don't know, anyone who has ever created massive change in their life through negativity. So I'm really curious about how you turned your mind into your ally?

Nate: That's a great question. Because that was something I struggled with self-help because it's like – well, I understand the idea of positive thinking but there's so much stuff that's out there that's going wrong and a lot of object entrepreneurs I know they're not afraid to dive into the negatives, you know, problem solving all that.

So let me tell you story, when I was in my mid-20s, I was in my financial downward spiral, but I still trying to get some kind of an entrepreneurial venture going, I had my online based business, I was buying some advertising, and I was really, really hoping it work. And at this time, I had to get a day job to support myself and it was a job spinning signs on the street corner, by the way, started, like 10 bucks an hour. So, I remember one day I had bought, like, I plunked down, like, $900 for an advertising campaign, and I was really, really hoping it would work. I just wanted to make back as much money as I could, and I remember the ad was set to go out like, on a Tuesday morning and I was driving to work, so Tuesday morning, I packed my lunch and I'd get my car and I drive to work. I have no idea how the advertising campaign is going to go; I just know it's going to happen while I'm standing on that street corner. So that was a long few hours, I get there, I'm working on, I've got my headphones in, I'm working my shift and I'm like,

How's it going? How's this campaign going? So finally, like 6 p.m., I drive home, I go upstairs, open up my laptop, check the stats, the ads and the ads went out and I actually lost every penny; every penny, I didn't make a single sale. So I'm, like – I'm crushed, on the fetal position on the floor again, not even crying this time, now I want to throw up. So I go to bed and the next morning I get up to go to work again and that's when it really hits me, it's like Nate, you're driving to this job, to work it again and you don't have any way out. You were pinning all your hopes and dreams on that ad campaign, what are you going to do now?

So I'm driving to work, feeling awful and then a voice pops in my head and goes Nate, are you going to succeed eventually? I go, yeah and a voice said so this you could just see this as a bump in the road, right? Yeah, not only, is it just a bump in the road. You can look back on this and when you finally do get your business together, get your life together, get out of debt, you could tell the story as like an inspiring story, how you were facing all this adversity and use did you can still manage to succeed. I said, yeah and a voice said; so why not just feel, okay right now? If you really believe this, why not just feel good about yourself right now? You don't have to love where you're at, totally but just feel good about yourself when we were headed. So by the time I pulled into the parking lot, I was feeling way way better. So the reason tell the story is because when it comes to positivity, I always like to be specific, I'm very, very positive about myself and my trajectory, and my ability to succeed and that I deserve to get there. Now negative stuff may be happening and maybe it's good idea to be skeptical of what I'm doing like let's say if you start a new fitness routine, you could be skeptical about the kind of exercises you do, and make sure that they mesh with your body, type your metabolism, where you're at in life, test it out. But always be positive that you are eventually going to figure it out and succeed.

Most people are the opposite, and that's why they don't succeed, they get really, really positive and in love with whatever technique, they just bought or learned, but they still have that negative self-image; they need to flip that around. Be positive about who you are turning into be positive about your transformation, but you can be negative and skeptical about the specifics that you test out that are outside of yourself. So that's how I kind of keep that balance of realistic mindset about testing what I'm going through but positive mindset about inwardly, who I am.

Michael: Yeah, I love that and I think that there is such, I don't want people to miss out on something that you said that I think is incredibly important. You said, eventually; will I be successful eventually? And the thought was, yes, patience is everything in this game of life, right? And I think we often get focused on right now like what can I do today to change my life forever?

And I'm like, well, do you understand the impact you could actually have 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 35 years from now. I measure the goals that I write down every single day, there are 37 years away, I'm not even remotely close to hitting the things that I want to do, but I'm always putting things into forward motion right now, while trying to operate through my value system and honestly, not negotiate with myself.

You know, I think that when you're in this position of man, I'm at rock bottom, I'm at debt, I'm spinning signs like everyone is saying, dude, I think it would be dismissive not to talk about this, everyone who's ever driven down the street has seen the person spending signs, and be like, how the fuck did you get there? Right? So in that, within that context, and that's not a judgment thing, right? I mean, I've had menial jobs, I've worked labors jobs, warehouse jobs, have been a server, I've been a cook, I've been a manager at fast food restaurants, I've been a ditch digger, I've put roofing on houses, I've done, so I've done all of it. And I think that the thing that people miss out on is sometimes, we're just trying to figure it out and that's the thing that fit’s in the moment.

Having that moment of driving to work, thinking about your future, being willing to acknowledge, which I think is a very important word here that eventually you'll be successful, there's also a catalyst here and I think that catalyst is action and I think that action and why it's so important its measured against somewhere in this, your capacity of self-belief. So to create context here, because I really want people to hear this. How the hell do you go from sign spinner to the number one, best-selling author? Because I assure you from the outsider looking in perspective, I go, it's not impossible but damn, that's gotta be hard.

Nate: It was hard and I'm glad you mentioned patients because it took a while, but let me take you through the few steps. Step one, was that I had a daily discipline to work on my inner self, my inner worthand it for me it was meditation and the key is to find something that resonates with you and brings you that result where you start to have that self belief and you have something that you can turn to to build that resiliency and that feeling of self-worth, when you are, you know, curled up on the floor like, I was. So it starts with that inner practice and making that a daily self-care habit.

Now, step two is because I was able to have that inner worth, I was able to start mentally sort of rising above, pure survival mode and that pure like day-to-day. Let me just limp along with my like coping mechanisms and actually start rebuilding my financial life. So I actually went bankrupt, I filed for bankruptcy and I went through that whole process and instead of feeling ashamed, I treated like a financial baptism I starting over. So when I started over I made a similar commitment to when I started with 60 seconds meditation, I decided, okay, I'm going to start saving money like for real, and I don't care how small an amount it is. I'm going to start saving money because if I want to get wealthy, well, then I have to build wealth. Well, what is the very definition of wealth? It's having more abundance financially. So, I started saving $30 a week, I went to the bank, and I made a special savings account, and then online, I every time I got paid, I had a weekly paycheck. I would take thirty dollars put into the savings account, and I also gave away 30 dollars to charity and I calculated everything.

So that was able to financially do this, I moved into the cheapest condo, I could find and I cut out all extraneous expenses so all I did was spend money on food, rent, gasoline, car insurance, to get to and from work and Internet to my internet bill. I was probably living the closest to the razor edge. I'd ever been and I was putting weight $30 a week and I was also sleeping the happiest I'd ever slept and I felt the safest I ever felt because I was finally building wealth.

By the way, another thing I did when I found pennies and nickels and dimes on the street corner, I brought them home, put them on my mantelpiece and I every time when I went out the door at, look at them and say I'm building wealth, I literally am. So I was real rewiring my psychology because finally, I wasn't saying, oh no, I mean, keep going to dead because eventually I'm going to get rich, no. Instead, I said to myself truthfully, I am building wealth right now and I was so it started rewiring my confidence and start it started rewiring my vibe when I was talking to potential business partners or any negotiation or entered anything I did in the business from. I was coming at it from a position of a guy who was getting wealthier and wealthier. Okay, so there was that and then as I had my day job going, when I got home from being a sign spinner, I was still doing the best I could to network, I was doing the best I could to still meet mentors who could help me out. And I'll fast forward through a lot of that because essentially, it was a couple of years of meeting people locally and working with mentors and building real relationships with them. And then what happen eventually is that after the sign spinning big ended and I actually I was loading trucks for a living. I remember one of my mentors, he introduced me to a company that was looking for people to help them with marketing and and writing advertising copy and for years I had all these entrepreneurial failures, but throughout the whole time, I was building skill sets that were actually valuable to this company and I realized something and it took me years to get even throw my failure. As long as I was building up healthy skill sets, I was turning into a person that could create value for another person.

So eventually a mentor actually introduced me to a company and I drove across the country because I still in Colorado the time, so I drove across the country start working from on the East Coast. Packed up all my stuff in my car, gave way everything, I couldn't pack into my car, left my condo and started a new life and I was willing to make that massive transition because I realize it would be a scary change and it was totally not what I was predicting my life would turn out to be but it was so worthwhile and that was about seven years ago.

Michael: Yeah, that's so powerful. You know, I think that there's so many pieces we can take from that, not only belief, but holding yourself to your commitments. I mean, I want people to really hear that because when you hold yourself to your commitments and you stop negotiating, with yourself, which I'm sure like everyone we've done that a bazillion times, it puts you in this place where you start to be accountable, we're like I said, I'm going to do this, so I'm going to do it. One of the things that I'm curious about in this journey, and for me meditation has played such a huge role in my life and a practical way that I can't even really describe but I found that and you may agree with this there's an energy shift and I'm going to lead us down a path here because I want to talk about the interaction between meditation and wealth, but first off, I want to talk about this idea about how Daoist meditation transforms your energy? Because I believe where you put your energy, your attention follows and vice versa.

Nate: Yeah, and it was interesting because when I first started I didn't really know anything about this. I just started a practice and I knew it worked. So what happened after years and years of practice has, I started diving deeper into, like, well, what's really going on here? And I started learning, there's some interesting science by meditation and I mean going deeper than just I mean there's thousands of studies showing it increases your well-being and all that, but I'm like, is there more to it? So what I found out is that the Taoist mapped out channels of energy in our body called meridians. Now, if you've ever heard of acupuncture gotten like an acupuncture treatment where they stick needles in your body, that was a practitioner working on the meridians in your body.

So when I start learning by this, I'm like, wow, that sounds kind of Wu's is that like, you know, something that someone came up with a few thousand years before modern day, Anatomy physiology, I didn't know.

Well as it turns out today, we're finding out is we have tissue in our body called fascia tissue and previously scientists figured well, it's just this inner tissue, that kind of holds your organs in place, it's almost like saran wrap, you know, a wrap within your body. Well, as it turns out, this fascia issue has channels running through it and these channels aligned with the maps of meridians that the ancient Taoist figured out, not only that, fascia tissue is capable of generating and transmitting something called piezoelectric energy. So these electric energy, it also runs through a collagen in our bones by the way. It's this energy that sometimes some scientists are figuring out actually governs the way our stem cells behave and our stem cells that's how our bodies are created in the first place.

So in this is all pretty preliminary and if you go any deeper and it gets over my head because I'm not a biologist, but what I'm realizing, is that when we meditate and we really dive deep into it, what the Daoist discovered is that it increases the flow of energy in our meridians and as a result, it can start to work through the trauma that's been buried into our tissues.

And when we work through this trauma, and this is happening all below our conscious awareness, we start to get over the self-sabotage that is trip us up our whole lives. It's another valuable tool that we can work that works with our psychological tools, that works with our habit building in our willpower to get away from the influence that are traumatic experiences had in their childhood. Like, if we, grew up in a household that was riddled with debt and we took that on in our bodies, meditating it's like we're self cleaning oven, we can finally rid ourselves of that.

So that's what was going on for me, when I was meditating every day and I had no idea why, all I knew is, I started to feel better about myself, I started to be able to finally turn myself around in terms of my habits and I love to say turning my mind from an enemy into an ally. So the energy and the psychological and identity, even the spiritual, I think they're all intertwined. And when someone is not engaging in a meditative practice, I think it's missing, it's like a building missing part of his foundation. So that's why I'm so passionate about talking about this sort of thing.

Michael: Yeah, that's such an interesting thought that it's like a building missing its foundation that really strikes me because I think about the fact that I meditate every single day and before I did, life was very different. Like, in real time this is a thought happening where I sit and I reflect, I go back to my life, 9, 10, 11 years, ago deathly prior written, stepping in like moving meditations, like yoga and things of that nature before having those moments of those experiences, man, life was so chaotic because there's something so powerful in the introspection of looking at and making, meaning, and assessing your life in a way in which to be frank, you find yourself in this just really tremendous arena of not only vulnerability, but I mean, for lack of a better term, you look at your life and you go, oh, I got some shit, I gotta work on but when you're distracting yourself all day, all the time, you can't get there. And again, this is real time for me, I think about everything prior to meditation and everything after meditation.

So I'm a huge proponent of talked about it on the show multiple times, I think it's everything. And I also think there's a tremendous amount of healing that's involved in it, to your point. I'd like you to go a little bit deeper there, about looking at this healing way to look at trauma and what that means?

Nate: Yeah, absolutely. So it kind of loose to what I was mentioning earlier. Everyone on this planet when we're born into this Earth, we're going to get hit with traumatic experiences, we're going to get with shocking experiences and it's not like you get a user manual for how to process this kind of stuff when were born. So a lot of it is going to end up, it's almost like it gets congealed with in our physiology. And we can see this in fact if I mean you can walk down the street or even observe someone on a zoom meeting and they might have their shoulders, like really tightened because they've got a defensive posture because that's their body's way of defending themselves against something that might have hit them, 20, 30 years ago and they haven't really processed it, so they're still at the ready.

So again, this is how meditation can come into it, because it will work beneath our conscious awareness to start to resolve all that pain. So that we can finally relax and this is why often times when we meditate, feelings come up that are anything but peaceful and we're and will feel anything but calm and we might or or even actual memories, where's this like – Oh, I haven't thought about that in 30 years, what is going on? This is actually a good thing because it's that self-cleaning oven finally working. And we're finally busting through that trauma and we can finally rid ourselves of it.

One other thing is that we rid ourselves of in layers. So there's also nothing wrong with with something coming up for, like, the umpteenth time we're like, I thought I process through that, you process through a layer, so you qualify to go for the deeper layer. So, it's actually a good thing, you're not stuck, you’re going deeper. And you know, in preparation for a conversation there's one thing I kept on thinking about and I was like should I say it or not? So I'm just going to go there. In the Daoist spiritual tradition, a lot of other ones, they talked about how when we are born and we go through a lot of traumatic experiences, what that is? Is that our eternal soul?

This is just what I've learned, not necessary, as not necessarily saying everyone has to ascribe to this, but our eternal soul before we came into this life, looked at what would happen and went I'm ready for that. I can go through that because I'm strong enough to do so and then I can learn from it and turn around and help others.

So that's why I really love the Unbroken concept of your show because it's about how if we've gone through some really horrible stuff, it's because our soul knew we could handle it, it's not a bad reflection on reflection allows it's a good one, it's because somewhere deep inside we’re like, no, I got this, I got that. This time around, in this go in this life I got that, I have what it takes to grow stronger from it. We're never going to get hit with anything in life that we cannot handle, it may be awful but somehow, we knew that we could handle it. So I want to put that in there, too.

Michael: Yeah, that's an interesting concept to me. You know, for a long time I would look at my experience and go you know what? This is nonsense, I can't believe I have to deal with, this is unbelievable, and you add on all the negative connotations that you could to having such a traumatic background. And then, when I started to be of service, I started looking at it from a different perspective and it's in alignment with what you've just said and it's very much, okay, what can I do with this?

You know, it's the old adage life is working for you, not against you and I would blame the world and I would carry the shame and the guilt of the experiences and I would let that be the precursor and the catalysts for all the activity in my life and then I thought to myself one day, well, what if I didn't? And became this really profound shift and I hear that so much in your journey too; What if you didn't spend signs on the street? What if you didn't waste your money? What if you didn't go into debt and start to transform to be of service? And I think that's so practical and so powerful. One of the things and leading up to the question I wanted to ask earlier,

I think about this idea about building wealth and I think I want to parlay with this. Building wealth after bankruptcy, which people would hear that and go, I don't even understand that, that's insane, you filed bankruptcy, your life must be over, you're the scum of the earth, you know, when you start hearing all that because of the alignment with it.  What is the intermingling between all of these concepts of the experiences of your life that have helped you put yourself in a position to build wealth? And then how does someone take that information and apply it to their life and their experience?

Nate: That's a great question. You know, one of the benefits of going through so many challenges like that, is that I allowed it to mold, who I was. I like the metaphor of gold being refined like when gold is unearthed from the ground and then put through the refining process of the pure gold comes through and all the other minerals are burned away, they are literally burned away, it's not a pleasant process, the gold has to go through fire. So when I went through my journey of my startup and maxing out my credit cards, and going debt, and going into debt and going so far they actually went bankrupt, all those experiences were shaping my perception, and shaping my financial acumen, and I guess I needed to go through the painful way, but I came out the other and a lot savvier because before I'll be honest, I was pretty arrogant beforehand like I was 20, something years old and I thought I knew exactly what it took to become wealthy and I was going to go out there and do it, I needed to be humbled.

Now, I did at the same time though. I do not allow those humbling experiences to demoralize me, it's like we talked about earlier eventually that key phrases eventually, I will succeed and I will do the boring stuff over and over again, but at the same time, I'm going to do it with a much humbler clear mindset because when you're humble it, expands your perception, it allows you to take off the rose-colored glasses not only about the world but about your own self and about what a word of my real strengths and weaknesses. So I think humbleness in a clear perception, go hand in hand and both of them are absolutely required to become wealthy because the money it's a very objective. If you work with money in the correct way, you can amass more of it, if you don't you'll mass less of it and it doesn't care what your feelings are on the subject.

So I think anyone can look at their own past experiences and make that shift, you know, is similar to the shift you made where instead of feeling bad about it. Shift to what was the lesson in that, and yeah, it was a painful lesson but what was the lesson in that? Because once you do what, and once you start developing that emotional maturity and that emotional resilience, you can start to use that and you can start to think, okay, what is the lesson I took from that? How can I apply that in the future? And that way, I don't have to go through that pain again because I think everyone goes through painful experiences, but if we're able to extract the lesson, we only have to go through them once now, it might set us up in there might there's plenty of lessons to go through but when people go through the same experience over and over again, it is the world hitting you on the head trying to shout in, you're saying there's a lesson here. And once we go through it once we don't have to go through it again, and once you go through enough; enough of them, that's how we can start building wealth.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And I think about this idea that, you know, the first time you learn something you were meant to learn it, the second time you learn it, you weren't paying attention but the third time, you're making choices that what I'm saying, when you eventually come to this place where you look at your life and this is a hard truth and it's one that makes people uncomfortable and I know it's one that people don't want to hear, but at some point you're making a choice to be self-destructive, right?

And that's how I found myself, especially in this context of debt and my early 20s, I was making a six-figure salary, working paycheck to paycheck like and in tremendous amount of debt. Now, obviously, there was unresolved money trauma there; there were trauma in general, that needed to be healed, but looking now and having the information that I do it's like now I don't repeat those behaviors because if I did, that would be choice-based.

One of the things I'm really curious about, what do you think if someone is in this position because I know like that, such a huge part of the human experience and people are like, yeah, I get it, you're talked about meditating, everybody's talking about meditating, and they're just jaded by this whole thing. Because, to be honest, you have this conversation with me 15 years ago, I'm like whatever Nate. And so what I'm curious about is what's one practical thing like an actual realistic practical thing that's applicable to let's call it, the majority of people who are going to listen to this, that they can adapt into their life immediately like right now, today to start heading into building wealth in their life?

Nate: That's a great question. First, we can learn from what I accidentally discovered which is right after I got up in the morning brush my teeth, I did that 60 seconds and meditation. I've been through the rodeo of meditation before and I was like geez after I'd go with you to 15 minutes of I'd be like, I want my 15 minutes back, I do I just feel kind of hazy.

So here's how to go about it, if you want to really get some solid benefits from meditating and really start getting them quickly, take your left hand, place it on your belly, your right hand place it on your chest and you start breathing. Now, as you breathe, make sure your left hand that's on your belly rises and falls with your breath, and your hand on your chest, make sure it stays more still, because that way, you're getting real-time feedback for breathing deep into your belly. So, what this does is, your fully inflating and enlarging your lungs, what's the word inflating? There we go, all right. So you're fully inflating your lungs down. Now, what is this do?

Number one, you're engaging your diaphragm, you're signaling to your central nervous system to calm down and by the way, when you're more calm, you're going to be more creativenot only that, but you're supplying your body with more oxygen, not only that you're giving your internal organs a massage. So remember, when we talked about meridians earlier, those channels of energy, they course and spiral their way through your organs. So when you breathe deeply, you're actually massaging those organs, and your ridding them of some of the hidden stuck traumatic energy that's still been stored in them. So, what are we doing? We're breathing deeply but we're actually about to turn into a meditative experience because when you breathe deeply on this, you take your mindset and you place it and you place your attention on your belly and you feel for the sensations of the warmth in your belly and you ask yourself, I wonder if I can feel that even more, I wonder how good it can feel to focus on my belly.

So you're turning your mind from analytical to actually receiving sensory information. What happens when you do this is eventually, as you keep breathing deeply, your thoughts will get quieter and quieter and you'll slip into that meditative state. So instead of trying to meditate like battling thoughts and like getting more worked up and frustrated, you're doing a deep breathing exercises that you turn into a meditative experience. And all I want you to do is just 60 seconds because once you start establishing the habit, you can add more time and once you start adding more time, you are starting every day with more optimized hormones so that your brain chemistry is changed. You're starting your day by ridding yourself of more of that traumatic energy, and digging deeper and working through all the that self-sabotaging behavior, all beneath your conscious awareness, then everything else you do throughout your day, every interaction with another person, every decision you make is going to be colored by that deep breathing experience you had in the morning and I get it, I know if people are just like, oh, you're going to tell me to just do some deep breathing, it's like, I'd been there, did a time in all this day, I was there, I was suicidal, this is not weak sauce stuff, it's as powerful, and as sacred, as you want it to be, and as you make it with your belief, in your faith, that you can make it work for you. There's a quote by Bruce Lee; I fear, not the Martial artist who practices 10,000 moves one time, I fear the martial artist who practices, one move, 10,000 times.

So take an exercise like this and make it, your one martial arts move, and you figure out how to take it as deep as you can, and that's how you're going to get the magic out of it. And as far as money goes, it's going to have a ripple effect on your wealth as well, that's there's no way around it, some stuff.

Michael: Yep. I agree. I'm right there with you. My friend Nate before I ask you my last question, can you tell everyone where they can find you?

Nate: The best way is the website thestandingmeditation.com its name of my book in fact, right now that website goes straight to the page on Amazon where they could pick it up and I wrote that book, the idea, it's like, all right. Let's just start at square one, on open up on page one and I take you through my entire journey, all the hard lessons I learned and everything I figured out as a result that you can apply to your own life.

Michael: Powerful, my friend, my last question for you is, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Nate: It means that I'm remembering that I am that eternal soul. I'm not just this tissue, I'm not just a collection of all my old memories and all the stuff I went through and I'm not my mistakes. I am that Eternal Soul, that gets to watch it all and gets to be on this Earth and live this life and turn around and help others, that's what unbroken means to me.

Michael: Amazing. Well said my friend and I'm right there with you. Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.

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And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

-I'll see you.

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Nate Rifkin


When Nate Rifkin began his journey, he was suicidal and drank alcohol every morning to get through the day. He dropped out of college, went broke, bankrupt, and even worked on street corners waving around a sign.

However, Nate learned a little-known spiritual discipline that helped him transform his thoughts, emotions, financial life, and find love. He’s described his journey and the transformative practice he learned in his book, The Standing Meditation. Nate lives in Golden, Colorado with his lovely wife.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.