Rebel Buddhist is all about freedom - inside and out - so if you want to tame your mind but not your life, this podcast is for you. In each episode, Master Certified Coach Ana Verzone, DNP, will teach you practical, effective tools from the fields of psychology, eastern spirituality, and self-coaching so you can train your mind to work for you instead of against you. Learn how to get out of your own way and cultivate the compassion and resilience you need for this wild new world. Explore how you can discover your own path to enlightenment and live an adventurous life with no regrets. Start now by downloading the free Rebel Buddhist Training Kit at RebelBuddhist.com
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
This episode is all about the most common ways I see people misuse thought work and mindfulness.
When I coach people on how to self-coach, I get so many clients who are confused about the difference between a) changing your life, b) changing your feelings about your life, c) truly processing your emotions from those original circumstances, even if you’ve already changed them.
That last one so important.Because usually, when we try to change the external world and circumstances without first understanding our current thoughts and allowing the hard feelings about it, we end up carrying the unprocessed emotion from that circumstance with us to the next one.
So we have the same thoughts, same emotions and therefore the same actions...and even though they might be happening in a different circumstance, because we didn't change them, we create the Same. Damn. Result.
If you're carrying the same thoughts and feelings into a new circumstance, you’re going to show up very differently than you would if you were showing up having already processed those emotions, right?
So that often leads us to wonder:
Should I change my life, or change my thoughts and feelings?
Should I stay, or should I go?
In This Episode You’ll Learn:What the top two mistakes are that people make when trying to use the Model to either change their feelings or change their circumstancesThe importance of processing unresolved emotions before moving onto the next thing in your lifeWhy our brain can hold us back from reaching our highest potential – and how to do the hard thought work necessary to change thisHow to get your power back and trust in yourself to make the decisions that are best for you, in any situationResources:// If you’re feeling like you need to back up and learn more about what the Model is and how to use it before you can really take in what this episode offers, check out Episode 18 – it’s all about how to coach yourself using applied mindfulness.
// Want more help making decisions? Check out Episode 25 on Decision Clutter.
// If you’re new here, grab the starter kit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll get access to the private Facebook group where you can ask me questions! Once you join, there’s also a weekly FB live called Wake the F*ck Up Wednesday, where you can ask questions that come up as you do this work – in all parts of your life.
Circumstances are neutral.
Another way of saying this? Things are empty of inherent qualities.
Today, we’re digging into what a practical application of emptiness looks like in our everyday lives.
This concept is really revolutionary in my book. So many buddhist conceptions are (even though they’re often seen as these quiet, calm, benign principles).
In Buddha’s time, it was (and still is) revolutionary to accept that suffering comes from our own minds and not something outside of us.
In our times, following these principles is truly rebellious. Because most of the world thinks that suffering comes from shitty situations, bad circumstances, mean people. Most of the world believes circumstances are not neutral.
As rebel Buddhists, we know that learning to free our minds is the most rebellious act we can do in our lifetime. And being willing to explore our own paths, to find out what is true for ourselves – that is a key part of freeing our minds.
The simple truth?In the same way that our thoughts about our emotions are what creates our suffering, it is our thoughts about our circumstances, and our arguments against them, that affect us the most.
How we choose to think about a particular event or circumstance or statistic is what causes us to feel a certain way, not the thing in and of itself.
The event itself is empty of inherent qualities, not empty of facts.
This can be a tough concept to grasp, and I work through the important nuances using specific, real-world examples in the episode.
But the key is this: our attachment to the way we want things to be, instead of how they are, is what makes us suffer.
No matter how horrific your past, no matter how horrible the event, no matter how awful someone treats you, the only thing that ever causes us emotional pain is our thinking about it.
This realization is very empowering.Because you are the one that gets to decide what things mean. You are the one that gets to decide how you're going to feel about your circumstances.
Accepting the things we cannot change is one of the most powerful things we can do. It seems almost paradoxical to think of acceptance as a powerful action, but it is.
Many of my newer clients also believe that if they accept reality, that they lose all their power to ever change it.
But the opposite is true. Give the episode a listen to find out why.
And remember: there is a huge difference between accepting and condoning.
All this is not to say that racism does not exist. Or that patriarchy does not exist and that oppression does not exist. Those are facts.
Accepting the way things are does not mean we agree with them or condone them. It just means we're not trying to change something by pushing hard against it. We are choosing not to go to battle with reality.
I invite you to sit with this.There is so much freedom when we release resistance against what our circumstances are in the moment.
We can act from a place of peace and fierce love and still move towards change.
It’s very normal to need to move through the fight phase when you’ve been overly passive. But I urge you to see how much this is sucking your energy, to recognize how much more lovely it is when you can trust in your Ziji, your radiant inner confidence, to have your own back.
If you understand that everything that happens in the world is neutral and that your interpretation is what defines your experience, you will also start to see that you are so much more powerful than you could have ever imagined.
You get to decide how you will use each situation in life to either serve your life and your higher purpose, or take energy away from it.
So hear this, rebel: freedom from the fight in our minds is where we must begin if we want freedom in the world.
In This Episode You’ll Learn: What I mean by “circumstances are neutral” and how to apply this practically to your lifeWhy accepting
The Power to Choose Your Feelings
I’m going to let you in on a golden nugget of truth that maybe you’ve never heard before: feelings are optional.
Yup, you read that right.
The ability to feel a full spectrum of contrasted, complex emotions are an inherent and integral part of the human experience – it’s what makes our species who (and what) we are.
But we do not have to be at the whim of some emotional rollercoaster. Feelings don’t happen to us. We get to choose how to feel.
Try to wrap your head around this.The most fundamental truth of my work revolves around this teaching: Our thoughts create our feelings, which influence our actions and the results we create in our lives.
Today, we’re digging into why our emotions are not actually caused by external factors, but by our own thinking – and how to work this to our advantage.
So here’s the thing: when we stop feeling bad about feeling bad, we feel better.
This does not mean that you should try to choose to feel great all the time. There is a huge difference when you decide that feeling sad is what you want to feel, versus believing that an emotion is not within your control.
If you feel like your anxiety, frustration, sadness, grief, or pain is caused by the external world (which you’re unable to control), you will be tempted to buffer – to escape what you’re feeling.
You will be tempted to avoid your emotion because you think there is nothing you can do about it.
But that’s not true. Because the world doesn’t cause you to feel what you feel, your thoughts do – and only you are in control of your thinking.
By and large, our inability to manage our emotions is the root cause of our suffering – so we need to learn how to do that better.
But it’s a process.
Step one is developing an awareness of our emotions. Step two is being willing to feel any emotion, for as long as it takes. And step three is where we’re at – learning how to change our thoughts about our emotions.
It all starts by asking yourself: What are the feelings that I want to experience in the world? What emotions do I want to be able to feel in order to have the full human experience?
If we don’t consciously reflect on this, we get into what I call ‘feeling habits’.
We get stuck in a pattern of experiencing only a small repertoire of feelings and begin to think that they are part of us – our temperament, who we are – and we close off to new and different feelings.
But when we really understand why we’re feeling the way we do, what we’re thinking and what’s causing it, then we can start to understand that these habits we have include feeling.
So I invite you to start paying attention to your thinking. Decide what you’re going to feel on purpose and deliberately change your thoughts to eliminate the feelings that aren’t serving you.
Not just to feel better. Choose emotions that will help you evolve.
Because to be willing to add new emotions to our repertoires, we need to:
:: Allow unwanted feelings in order to release resistance
:: Eliminate the indulgent feelings
We have to earn the ability to change our emotions. Only then can we experience new emotions and practice including them in our lives in ways that will actively help us create our dreams.
And rebel, you – and you alone – get to decide what that looks like.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:How to gain control over your thoughts instead of rejecting and resisting your emotionsWhy the external world doesn’t cause us to feel what we feel – our thoughts about our circumstances doHow to stop compounding your thoughts and emotionsAn exercise you can do to figure out which emotions you want to keep in your back pocket, and which you want to let go ofHow to break your “feeling habits”Why, if you want to feel better, one of the best ways to start is to accept that not feeling good all the time is part of being humanR
Welcome to Being Human
Humans go through life thinking that feelings happen TO us. We think, “Ugh I am so stressed out, I wish it would stop!” Oftentimes, we act so confused about where it is coming from.
Or we say, “OMG I am so irritable today.”
Or in a funk.
Or sad...maybe there’s some grieving going on.
We feel powerless a lot of the time. Like our emotions can just take over and make us victims of a bad mood.
The antidote?Really learning about feelings and how they work; making a concerted effort to learn how to manage our emotions instead of letting them control us.
We all think we know what feelings are, but we often struggle when it comes to labeling what we’re feeling, or naming why we are feeling different emotions – and what the hell we want to DO with those feelings.
Do we actually let ourselves feel them?
Resist them? Or avoid them?
React to them?
Here’s the thing: Feelings are part of the human experience, not an aberration. We are supposed to feel different feelings all the time.
What we often miss is that it is also totally normal to have a contrast of positive and negative feelings.
Truth is, you need the dark to see the light; you need the contrast. They can’t exist without one another.
We wouldn’t be able to distinguish joy without sadness.
Energy without fatigue.
In spite of this, most of us are under the assumption that life “should” be better than it is.
We desperately want there to be more good in the world than bad.
But what we don’t realize is that this one belief has caused more pain and violence than has ever been necessary.
In today’s episode, we dig into why accepting the first noble truth of Buddhism – that suffering exists, that it’s part of being a human – will enable us to take an actual step towards freedom.
I introduce you to a new way of looking at the world, which might change the way you think, feel, and ultimately, the results you create in your life.
So, I invite you to hear this, to let it sit with you::: Get to know the shadow side of your life – work to understand it, not hide from it, resist it, or pretend it’s not there.
:: Change your internalized narrative that you should be happy all the time, and that negative emotions are something to eradicate. Embrace the necessary balance that contrast offers.
:: Stop trying to escape reality – redirect the energy you spend buffering (overdrinking, gambling, overworking...etc) toward learning to manage your emotions, the highest ones and the lowest.
When you do this, your power to effect change in the world increases exponentially.
Because this gift of feeling the range of emotions – it’s part of our journey in this life, in this body, on this planet, in this community we are in.
And remember: whatever is happening right now – it won’t last. That's the nature of things. Change. Impermanence.
Something wonderful will happen. Then something hard. Then something awe-inspiring. Then something heartbreaking.
My friends, welcome to humaneness.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:Why the human experience is a balance of positive and negative emotionsThat we have the ability to create, allow, or resist emotion – and why this matters big timeWhat the 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism are, and why learning to accept these truths is an immensely courageous actWhy the Brooke quote “Discomfort is the price of your dreams” hits so close to home for me, and (after listening) hopefully it will for you tooHow to start choosing your emotions – and some tips on cultivating true self awarenessWhy being 100% happy and positive all the time is NOT the end goal – and what it takes to be fully present for this beautiful messiness that is the human experienceResources:// Check out Episode 24 on How to Feel ANY Emotion
// If you’re new here, grab the starter kit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to st
Clearing Out Decision Clutter
In case nobody ever told you: life is about making choices.
The ability to choose is an incredible power that we humans have, but it takes some serious skill to be able to use it wisely.
Research shows that the average person makes roughly 35,000 remotely conscious choices per day. Assuming that most people spend around seven hours a day sleeping, and therefore choice-free (depending on the type of dreamer you are), that means we make about 2,000 decisions per hour...or one decision every two seconds.
Decisions free up our energy; they make us live a more conscious life.But here’s the thing: as your level of responsibility in life increases, so does the range of choices you’re faced with.
Each choice carries certain consequences – both good and bad. All these decisions wear us out and zap our energy, leading to decision fatigue.
Much in the same way that consumer debt (or clutter from all the things we don’t let go of) can leave us feeling spent, we often feel tired, stressed, and anxious when we have a bunch of decisions looming over us.
We form this ongoing to-do list in the back of our minds of stuff we need to “clean up” but are trying to ignore (like the pile of clothes on the floor or that stack of college books we think we’ll read again).
But when you make a decision in your life, it moves you forward. Saying “I’m going to do this thing,” or even “I’m not going to do this thing,” moves you in a new direction either way.
What happens when we don’t make decisions, when we put them off and procrastinate?When you’re living in this state of “I’m going to think about it” or “I don’t know” or “Not yet” or “Maybe” or “I’m confused”, you have an unfinished decision hanging in the back of your mind, sneakily draining your energy and robbing you of forward momentum.
When we make a decision, we can then harness our energy and focus it on the actions we need to take in order to create the result of that decision.
Making a move, changing jobs, leaving a toxic relationship.
But when we think about making all those decisions, we are afraid we’ll screw up.
We choose instead to stay uncomfortable in the way we are because at least we know what it IS – no risk; maybe it’s shitty, but at least we know what kind of shitty.
Here’s the hard medicine, though: not making the decision because you’re afraid it’s the wrong one is like failing ahead of time.
When you don’t make the decision, you don’t have to risk being uncomfortable.
Instead, you perpetuate a kind of holding pattern: the idea that you’re doing something by waiting to decide, when really all you’re doing is procrastinating.
So, I want you to think about what your own decision clutter is costing you. You need to ask yourself:
:: What do I want to use my brain energy FOR?
:: If I have a limited amount of energy, what do I want to spend it on?
:: What is the decision I am making, and why am I making it?
You have to make a decision in order to find out what you want. Because the suffering comes when we question our decisions, and when we don’t know what we want.
So many of us aren’t deciding to live the biggest version of our lives because we’re putting ourselves on hold with our own indecision. Today, I challenge you: decide to want what is, or decide to change.
Either way, remember this: you are able to have an amazing life. You can be happy. Whatever decision you make is the right decision for that moment.
When you really believe that, then which choices will you make?
In This Episode You’ll Learn:Why I am a big proponent of making decisions ahead of timeWhat happens when we don’t make decisions, when we put them off and procrastinateWhy most people spend their lives on autopilot – living by letting life happen to them, instead of intentionally deciding what they want and go
How to Be With Any Emotion
The Buddha taught that, to be free, we need to investigate every part of our human experience with an intimate and mindful attention. This includes emotions.
Emotions aren’t “bad” in and of themselves.
It’s what we do when we feel them – the thoughts that ensue, the actions we take as a result – not the emotion itself, that often causes our suffering.
Practicing a mindfulness of emotions helps us to learn about ourselves and our mind. It helps us not get hooked by a difficult feeling, or the buffers we turn to – like overdrinking, overworking, over-Netflixing...etc – to keep from feeling it.
When we can be mindful of our emotions, we can be less reactive And that is when we have true freedom – the freedom to choose how we want to respond, instead of slipping into our default mode.
For many people, the idea of being with an emotion can seem daunting.
Mindfulness enables us to take advantage of what Tara Bennett-Goleman calls “the magic quarter-second” – the space between an impulse and an action.
By being present with an emotion instead of indulging in the stream of thoughts that stems from the emotion, we can use this magic 1/4 second to create a different response than we normally would.
We can stop the spiral of thoughts that might exacerbate an emotion by simply being present with the emotion itself.
So how do we practice mindfulness of emotions?The first step is pausing to recognize that we are experiencing an emotion.
The second step is choosing to be present with our moment-to-moment experience.
We need to recognize the emotions with an accepting, curious and kind attention, without getting hooked; without attachment or aversion.
The result of this presence becomes the capacity to release habitual reactivity, to respond to our life circumstances more skillfully, with a wise heart, and to step out of the looping thought patterns we fall into when we get hooked.
Because the thoughts are what create the drama, what keeps the emotion hanging around longer than it needs to, what keeps us stuck and spiraling.
Why is this importantEmotions occupy a lot of our energy and mind space. And the truth is, our feelings show up in our body – whether we are aware of this connection or not.
I see so many patients that have physical manifestations of their psychological and emotional experiences; people whose deep trauma has led directly to any number of illnesses or diseases.
Doing the work to be present with your emotions now can help you get to know your body and better manage your daily stressors so that you may be able to avoid other serious health issues down the road.
In reality, it takes a strong dose of courage to really be with your emotions. This work is not for the faint of heart, but you can do this
Remember: the point is not to get rid of feelings, or to have some notion of the “right” feelings.
Some people think equanimity means not feeling any emotion. But emotions are an amazing part of being human!
We get to feel joy and feel horny, happy, connection and joy.
We get to feel sadness and grief, anger and jealousy.
ALL the feels.
In this episode, I offer exercises for beginning to live in a more conscious relation to your myriad feelings, and give some tools for how to do this with loving self-awareness.
So I invite you to join me.
Learn to let your emotions season you, not rule you. Because when we can be with any emotion, we are truly free.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
What the four foundations of mindfulness areWhy learning to be with your emotions will help you avoid unwanted habitual reactions – like yelling at a loved one, worrying too much, or bufferingHow to break painful patterns of thought-looping and anxiety spiraling by taking advantage of the “magic quarter-second”Why describing how the sensations of a feeling appear physically in your body is one step you can take to be