Ep. 9: Listen

How often do you say you are “listening” but what you are really is preparing to speak?

How often do you feel the person you’re speaking to is kind of listening and how often do you feel that they are just preparing to speak?

Well, how well do you listen to yourself?

What are we listening for and how do we listen?

Might it help to put our hands on our body to listen? To feel?

Let’s explore this concept in this meditation.

Ep. 0: Welcome to Search for Joy Podcast By Gregory Rutchik

Welcome to my this first podcast of the Search for Joy series.  In this first podcast, we will explore some of the basic goals of our 10 minute sit.

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Whether you are a beginning meditator or have sat for 300 plus sits, the goal of 10 minutes is going to be different for everyone and may even be different every single day.  In one way, that is the point. In sum, every moment we are “change”. Can we see ourselves changing under our own eyes and marvel at what we see?

Artwork on Cover (c) 2018 Helena Padial.

Ep. 2: Guided Meditation: On Distractions

This short guided meditation acknowledges and notes the thoughts and feelings that pop us as normal.


Your Portal To Freedom…If You Listen To Yourself

Admit it. You don’t trust yourself.

Once you start this practice, I guarantee you will smile.

Because humans have a negative tendency towards self-trust, we often need tools to see the bigger picture.

This morning I listened to Tara Brach’s podcast on Trust.  I’d like to apply her concept of the Portal of Freedom head on.  Unless we learn to trust ourselves deeply, we feel separate, sometimes anxious and are limited.

No one us want to live a limited life.  I want to get the most out of every moment on Earth.  Don’t you?  Sure, you do.

And yet, if I told you that all you had to do was “listen to yourself” deeply, you would turn me off and probably continue to look else where for an answer.  Frankly, I don’t mind if you turn me off.  Just do not turn YOURSELF OFF.

I finished off yesterday in a funk. Without going into why because it does not really matter (I really believe that), I knew my mind had changed state and that I was not in what I’d call my optimistic state of mind. I watched it happen.  I was aware that my mind had shifted and was like wow, I’m in a funk, what do I feel, what thoughts are going thru my mind?  I literally watched myself in it and thru it – which itself I am quite proud of.  Often, we are not aware that we are in a funk until after we pass thru it – but this time, I say my shoulders roll in, I felt a tightening

I was aware that my mind had shifted and was like wow, “I’m in a funk.” I asked myself, “what do I feel, what thoughts are going thru my mind?”  I literally watched myself in it and thru it – which itself I am quite proud of (and, no big deal, you probably do this too). Often, we are not aware that we are in a funk until after we pass thru it – but this time, I saw my shoulders roll in, I felt a tightening under my left breast muscle and my neck felt tighter.  I even was aware that my mind felt “tight,” what ever that means to you.  It is the closest word I can describe.  I felt limited, quiet and a bit withdrawn. I could see it actually.

So what did I do to change the state?

Well, first, my meditation practice* which is a practice of listening and watching all thoughts and feelings took note.  “Took note?” You wonder?

“Took note?” You wonder?

Yup.  When I started an almost everyday meditation practice I thought the goal was stillness but for me it has become more about simply listening and taking inventory, not mere stillness. By being still in my mind and not chasing any one thing, I can see and more accurately listen to tons of thoughts and even listen and feel for feelings.  I’m just sitting there saying to myself: “Hello thought coming from the left side,” “Hello feeling in my left shoulder,” etc. etc.

Then, to take up Tara Brach’s observation, I can begin to trust myself.  I know that word is a loaded word but really. Once I begin to listen to myself, and not get baited into one or another thought and feeling, I arrive in this place of a big smile.

“A big smile?”

Yes. I caught myself smiling as I just sit there on my internal river bank, watching all of these things flow. I am not one of the things, I am all of them.  I am limitless.

And with that, I build these (to borrow a word, I think, from Master Systema Martin Wheeler teacher) “little kernels of confidence).

If you keep an “I Wish Journal” or set your intentions every day, maybe you will envision what it looks like to trust yourself to listen to yourself.

Maybe you’ll envision what that looks like if you could hear everything inside your mind and body.

What would that look like for you?

And how would it feel in your mind? What about how it would feel in your body?

And what would it feel like to trust yourself?  Despite all of your quirks?

For me, it is mostly wonderful because I know I control so little.  And yet, if I can trust myself and also get better at listening to myself (aka to truly know my gut), how limitless will life be?  Wow. Quite.

Have a great day.


*If you’d like to chat about my meditation practice or want free help with yours, please just ask.

Check out my other writings on Thrive Journal: https://journal.thriveglobal.com/@garutch

Ps. This takes my other concepts from outside Does Your Mind Search Search for Joy?, to a purely internal search.

pss. Tara Brach reminds us that “Namaste” technically refers to: I see the good ness in you.  She suggests we start by seeing the goodness inside our self. For more on Tara Brach


What works for you when you are stuck in fear?

More time must be spent on the tools that help us now.  For me, it is belly breathing.

I hear many words like “stuck”, and “sudden onset of uncomfortable feelings”, “anxiety”, “fear” as words that describe being stuck.  Your words may not be my words but we may share the feelings.

I want to share something that I have found that has helped me tremendously, and it helps instantly.

Question: Do you have a breathing practice

Huh? you say?

Well, you wake up, brush your teeth and probably do some exercise, maybe have a yoga and maybe even have started meditation.  A practice is something that requires near daily dedication.  Say that out loud, daily dedication is a practice.

It takes practice – daily or near daily – to develop a practice.  But the pay off is huge.  If you learn how to belly breathe, you will tap into your vagus nerve – that runs from behind your neck down your throat and behind your heart and into your belly to bring about physical calming.  Google vagus nerve.

Let’s jump right in!

Here is step one of belly breathing.  Let me know if this helps you get started.

Do you notice how I use the hand and finger simply as guides?

Does it help you to see what I am trying to do?

Please let me know your thoughts below.  Thanks.


“The most profound mystery of all the universe…this love”

What does love have to do with deep inner healing?

Well, Let me tell you a quick story.

Recently I was about to negotiate an agreement and took a moment to see whether I could connect deeply with the person on the other side OR if they would let me connect.

Because they did not want to engage in small talk and quickly desired “to get down to business”, I was reminded to simply listen for what that meant about the agreement I could possibly forge.  So after our first session, I went for a run and had an epiphany I’d like to share that may apply universally.

If you don’t list to podcasts, you need to start and listen to this particular one.

This morning on my run, I listened to Krista Tippet’s 2015 interview of Martin Sheen (link).

Yup, the actor. Never expected what I heard but I wished I had heard it before.

He spoke directly to love and joy. It isn’t about religion but it is about spirituality.

For example, he saw himself at a very young age as an actor on the screen.

“I think all children know at a young age something deeply personal about themselves that is hard to communicate…”

But it was what happened from minute 31:00, that made me really think.

Sheen is asked to talk about “love” – and he says:

“Yeah, the love that I longed for, and I think all of us really long for, is knowing that we are loved.  A knowingness about our being that unites us to all of humanity, to all of the universe.  That despite ourselves, we are loved.  And when you realize that, you begin to look at everyone else and you can see very clearly who in your vision knows they’re loved and who does not. And that makes all the difference.

He isn’t talking about being loved by someone else.

In fact, he acknowledges that the love that he has for his wife of decades is deep and real.    “I’m deeply loved. I am married to one of the great people I’ve known in my life…”

He is talking about a deep inner love- a knowingness love – that is internal – that is linked to the self that never ages. That inner self that we must cultivate.

I think a “knowingness” of love – of ourselves is learnable.

Here is the complete dialogue below:

I think it is important to note a few elements that Sheen adds to help us on our journey – compassion and being of or in service to others.  I agree.  In fact, when we look at Buddha’s teachings – empathy comes from being in service to others.



Finally, Sheen leads us to one of the purposes of our endeavor – “experiencing true, personal joy.”  We all go about getting there a different way but when I listened to Sheen’s own words, his humility, and the awareness that it gave him into his self – I felt awe.

In his own words,


Profound for sure.

If not for joy, then what is it all for.  If all we do in life is to teach ourselves to truly know that we are loved AND to find joy (at least more joy than pain), then haven’t we accomplished something truly meaningful for ourselves?

I urge you to listen and to share your comments with me.  I’d love to hear from you.

And please subscribe to my blog.




Does Your Mind Search Search for Joy?

If you go to sleep with a ‘racey’ mind sometimes, or even wake up all ‘racey’ about the things you “gotta do”, you are frustrated that your mind is winning.

You wake up exhausted again and by 2:30 or 3 pm, you are a bit downtrodden, right?

You have not made any progress on your long list of to-dos and you keep getting caught up in forgetting to do what the others in your life (co-workers, life partners, clients) need you to do first in their list of priorities.

Until, of course you change your mindset.

Try this:

Step One:

Rather than end your day with a list of things you gotta do, end your day asking your brain to “search for joy.”


Step two:

Literally do a bit of self-talk and say “ok, mind that is all powerful and working all the time, go out there into my world and search for joy.”  Just try it.  It cannot hurt.  Science tells us that the brain is task oriented.  And if you give it the task to “search for joy” while you sleep, after a few days of this, or even that very first night for some of you, it will find little tidbits of joy.


Step Three:

Upon waking, many successful folks express gratitude for all of the great things they have in their lives, the people, the feelings, their health.  Well, I also use this opportunity – those first waking moments to ask my brain “today, search for joy.”

The results for me include:

  • slowing down an interaction to really see what is happening and see the joy in the smallest interactions and events;
  • make a game of it when ever you are able: how many moments of joy you can notice.
  • being watchful of where joy originates – and being amazed that it can come from the fact that the hot water mixed with those first grinds of coffee, make an amazing steam.  I know it is a bit childlike but the greatest creativity comes from a child-like mind.

My goal is simple: If I can experience some joy today, and tomorrow, and the next day, then my life is linked by joy.  Joy is how I remember yesterday if I searched for some joy and found even a little.

It can be as simple as making your first cup of coffee.  Watch the hot water hit the coffee grounds and turn them into coffee.

So, tell me, can you join me in a daily “search for joy” practice?

Let me know how it works for you in the comments below or email me at gregory@thepanicproject.com



And, remember to search for joy.





Therapy, medicine and even meditation not working in the crunch of panic or anxiety? I will show you the one thing that I do that immediately helps and brings more joy into my life.

I look forward to reducing the effects of anxiety and panic on our happiness.

Self-Reflection: Do You Take Time Everyday To Get Perspective?

Busy people do not have time to “self-reflect,” I often hear. 

Getting perspective is only useful if it makes us (a) more effective; (b) helps us see ourselves and/or our goals more clearly; and (c) brings joy. These three things are components of what I would suggest equate to something being “useful.”  

Most of us whose day starts at sunrise, like mine, it is true, there is not much time for all of our responsibilities.

What is “self-reflection”?

For me, it is getting a perspective of myself from some distance.  When we are stressed, mired in something, struggling emotionally or even having a hard time seeing a way out in a work, relationship or even athletic situation (ie. martial arts), having someone who we trust, who is watching us, tell us what they see – ie mirroring – and suggest some openings, a trail, a path, a way thru, we can get to the otherwise.  Self- reflecting is doing this practice for ourselves.  It is not something we can always do immediately and in some situations, we cannot get the perspective.  But is it an objectivity we can develop.

Recently I listened to the Tim Ferris Podcast featuring Krista Tippett and I challenge you – don’t you have ten (10) minutes a day for meaningful self-reflection?


  • Practice is only meaningful if you repeat it often.  Krista carves out ten minutes while her water is boiling in the morning. You might chose to pick an app like Calm to start your own meditation practice.  Regardless of what “practice” you pick, I cannot stress enough that you actually schedule it and do it at least three times a week. Otherwise you will have simply not enough experience to determine whether or not it is helpful.
  • Merely spiritual practice may not be useful. Like Krista, I like physical activities combined with “mental” activities so that my whole self feels better.  But merely physical activities are not that helpful either because they do not provide much opportunity for self-reflection.
  • Fear and doubt.  All of the thoughts that come up during meditation – including all the ‘gotta dos’, worries, things you should have done before you started your “pratice” and things you must do when your practice ends should simply be noted.  Simply note them and most importantly begin to notice how you react do different types of thoughts that come into your mind.
  • Feel. So much of self-work involves taking note of external things you need to do to improve.  With self-reflection, I think it important merely to note how you feel at various times: before you start, while you are “self-reflecting,” and after.  We may not remember what someone said or even what all of the factual details of a movie, book, interaction are, but we more often than not remember how they made us feel.  Take note of how you feel and really explore the layers.
  • Body scanning. One of the easiest ways to start self-reflecting is to do a body scan meditation. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.  Focus on the top of your head.  Identify all of the “feelings” that are happing there.  Do down to your ears, and then your forehead, and so on, all the way down to your toes.  Just note the feelings, tingling or even if there is no feeling you sense at all.  Don’t judge, just note it like youre a note taker.  This exercise can help get you to see what is happening at every few inches of yourself.
  • Sitting next to yourself.  My systema guru/teacher suggested that he often pretends to “sit next to himself,” and tell himself what he sees.  If he has the presence of mind to do that, even in the most tough time he might be having, he can instantly (a) tell himself to chill out; (b) catch himself before he does or says something or even misses something right there in front of him; (c) bring him some humor.  When I do this, I often see myself all up in a bunch and it is funny catching myself before I lose my cool.  In the end, it helps pick a better path.

Are you a natural at self-reflection?

Do you practice?

 What are some ways that you get some perspective?

What did you learn when you go that perspective? Did you feel like you had a new tool that you could bring forward with you and apply in other situations?

Email me some of your tricks when it comes to your “self-reflection” practice.