Ryan Estes - Life, Death and the Space Between Transcript
5:56PM Feb 16, 2022
Hi, everybody. I'm Dr. Amy Robbins and welcome to life, death and the space between Podcast. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and medium and here we explore life, death, consciousness and what it all means. Today I have Ryan Estes on the on the podcast Ryan is the co founder of kick caster. He is an American Buddhist entrepreneur, an overall powerhouse when it comes to work life balance. He owns multi mom, multiple businesses and as an as an avid Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, and an experienced podcast host, so he can probably laugh as I'm stumbling over my words. As the founder of kick cast or a podcast booking agency. He facilitates 1000s of extraordinary conversations. He is a firm believer that vulnerability is the key to a great conversation. Here we are today to talk with Ryan. Welcome, Ryan.
Thanks so much, Amy. I really appreciate it.
Hi, if you're listening to my podcast, when it drops, we made it it is December 2021. It seems insane that a year has gone by just a few reminders, there's several things you could do to support my podcast. And I'd really, really appreciate if you did. So the first one is you can rate and review it. If you haven't rated and reviewed my podcast yet, it just takes a minute of your time. It's in the app, just go ahead, click rate and review. If you want to write something. I love reading what everybody wrote, I can't respond to them. But I do love reading them. Also, please make sure if you can to donate on Patreon, Patreon is a site you can find firstname.lastname@example.org and just put an Amy Robbins and I will pop up every little bit helps to support my podcast. So all of my podcast is paid for out of me. I you know, work hard, and I want to provide you all with amazing content. And so if you could help me sort of like NPR, I would be very, very grateful. Also, please follow me on social media at Dr. Amy Robins, you can find me on YouTube if you want to watch me. Also, I have a new exciting website coming in January. So lots of exciting stuff coming for all of you not to mention my amazing season in 2022. So thank you all for your support and enjoy this month's episodes. Thank you. So I wanted to start today by understanding what it means that the kind of topics that I'm going to be talking about in the next couple episodes are really about spirituality in the workplace and how we integrate spirituality in the workplace because it's something we don't talk about. So can you tell me a little bit about your journey and why you feel like it's important to incorporate?
Oh, boy, what do you start that? You know, I suppose I start right at the end. You know, spirituality to me is always kind of viewed through a lens of technology and techniques, as in something you do, not necessarily something you believe or have to learn about. So I'm like kind of a ritual guy, you know, I like to create routine and ritual stick to it. And I really see that as like a means to to get the outcomes I'm looking for.
So, how but how did you get here? How do you How did you come to this place?
Sure. See, I was raised kind of strip mall Protestant, Christian, you know, so which is to say that a lot of like great education about Christ and His message. You know, in high school, I really got into kind of esoteric traditions and Taoism and Buddhism a little bit, really kind of connecting to the aesthetic. I think more than anything else like that feudal Japanese like style is just so gorgeous that I really loved it. And then I started doing ceremonies with Lakotas here in Colorado and doing kind of bloodshot and sweat lodge and supporting Sundance and stuff like that. Did that for many years and then kind of went into more of a secular period, I think where, you know, as pretty ardent atheist, you know, and I was like, You know what, this all seems like a bunch of phooey. I'm throwing it out on the go. Phone call popped up. And then probably maybe five, six years ago I started doing, you know, ceremony. I was was ceremonies which kind of ripped the atheist scrap crust off my heart in sent me down a new path. That's where I got really kind of devoted and interested in Buddhist techniques and kind of learning more about it, but also just like really incorporating those practices into my day.
Tell me about your experience in the, in the sweat lodges and, and then I'm curious about your Ayahuasca experience and how that then opened you up to because it sounds like you kind of wove in and out of this way of being and and I'm always curious, you know, when people do that, what kind of brings them there initially, what makes them step away from it? And then what brings them back?
Yeah, I figure I'm probably just like a stereotypical seeker out there looking for information and knowledge and, and, and things like that just intrinsically kind of drawn to it, you know. So, you know, with the Lakotas. I just happen to stumble on into, like a family and, and they kind of took me in and, you know, they're just friends of mine. So I got to do, you know, traditional ceremony with them, which was wonderful, you know, folks who've done sweat lodges, particularly Lakotas, I mean, the singing and the intensity of the heat is purification, you know, and the culture is, has a lot of that I really resonated with like humor. And there's kind of a sweetness to it. And of course, there's just a lot of like, residual pain from, you know, our recent history. So maybe some of that kind of appealed to me too, because there's, there's a palpable, like, friction in their spiritual tradition, you know, as kind of I moved away and lost touch with a couple of friends, you know, kind of my involvement, those ceremonies kind of also faded away a little bit, unfortunately, you know, and just kind of transition. So, you know, I, I, it's it's kind of it's not a direct line, I suppose. A lot of these these decisions were kind of circumstantial, and in brought me to, maybe a place I am now, but I think maybe that curiosity is maybe the one driving force that kind of keeps pushing me through.
And how about in the Ayahuasca? Like, what, what resulted in you seeking that out again?
Well, a buddy of mine, you know, I think probably since high school, I've always dabbled a bit in psychedelics, and, you know, it was a fun thing to do with friends or go in nature and take a walk and loved it, you know, so I'd always kind of heard about iwoca. And, and kind of what that's about, I had a buddy that went and did it. And basically, I just forced myself and just invited myself, you know, Hey, man, let me I want to do I want to go, I want to go when I don't go. So he kind of made a connection and introduction for me. And I started that work, you know, that was few years ago and spent, you know, three or four years, kind of pursuing it pretty hard, you know, doing I think 15 ceremonies and, and working with kind of inside that medicine and kind of that that tradition. Which I don't know if you've done any kind of ceremony there. But it's, it's pretty extraordinary.
Yeah, I've had people on the show talking, who have researched it, who've talked about the experience of it, but 15 is a lot.
But it depends on who you ask.
It sounds like a lot to me. I mean, the Ayahuasca experience doesn't particularly appeal to me,
but it's wise. Yeah. But the
psychedelic experience I'm absolutely curious about so. But the whole process of the throwing up and all of that, like the purging and that's not something that I would
well, yeah, it's not. It's not pretty I for whatever reason, though, I don't purge in ceremony, you know, I suppose yawning and things like that. But yeah, throwing up and the other end, it was never, it doesn't affect me like that. Or maybe I just push it. I don't want to throw up. Yeah. So I keep it down. But um, you know, it's, again, it's a traditional way that that I use kind of those ceremonies and, and that one in particular, it's, they've been doing it for, I don't know, hundreds, maybe 1000s of years. And so, you know, with the right kind of shaman, then there there's kind of support and technology and, and infrastructure around this experience that I didn't find, you know, it's like a knucklehead, you know, doing mushrooms with my buddies. You know what I mean? It's, it's intentional, and it's also extraordinarily powerful and strong, you know, so you You know, there's, I think, early on, you know, I got really, really into it. And there's kind of a evangelistic characteristic that happens oftentimes with folks that go through this, I definitely jumped into that. But I think now I, you know, people are curious about it, I kind of recommend probably not you know, it, uh, it opened some doors for me for sure. But also kind of created a spiritual mania in me in a certain way that I was able to kind of tame the dragon a bit, so to speak, but
it definitely throws you in the deep water real quick, you know, so one should be, we should kind of follow that path cautiously.
So how do you integrate spirituality and entrepreneurship?
It's good question. How do you integrate them? You know, again, to me, it's like things I do on a daily, daily manner. You know, so, from a business perspective, there's kind of three criteria that I'll all address every qualify every kind of business idea, you know, is it fun? Is it of service, endeavor, make money, you know, it's, it's got to do all three things, otherwise, I just can't do it, because I just don't have any time. You know, so the service part is important. And I think oftentimes, it's up to us to kind of spin the narrative of, of the impact importance of our work, in order to maybe observe that and, you know, wake up in the morning and feel gratitude. It might not come naturally, at least it doesn't for me, I have to put gratitude practice into my day, otherwise, I will, you know, think that like, inner hater, you know, why is everything so good for everyone else is so bad for me, you know, has been loud at certain times in my life. So, you know, his spirituality can be kind of esoteric, but ultimately, I think it comes down to kind of rooted practice, you know, so the basis of my spiritual practice is metta, you know, loving kindness, meditations, and I do those in the morning, when I'm really kind of on my game, in the middle of my day, I'll go sit for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and kind of recalibrate to that, you know, do some Vipassana stuff as well. So, you know, to me, it's really just like about setting a pace for the day, you know, in the same way, you might think about, like, Hey, I'm doing leg days on Monday, because I know, it'll be I'll be sore all week. And by the time it gets to the weekend, and I can go do run a marathon, or whatever I want to do, I'm not right. But in this, I treat it as I would treat training my body, it's just training for the mind.
And how does that translate into the work in your company?
Big stack? fat stacks of cash, just barrels out? No, I'm just kidding. No, I think ultimately, it's, it's, it makes me a little bit easier to work with, you know, bringing calm and peace is always a net benefit, in my opinion. That's, that's always going to be how I want to show up, you know, and I show up at work, we got HQ here in Denver, and I want to make sure that that's kind of the basis of where I'm coming from. So the other results, you know, maybe you see their long tail that comes down the road, but really like how I'm showing up to work is going to be the best integration of kind of spiritual practice in my day,
is, how does that translate to the people you work with? Like, do they bring a spiritual bent when you're hiring? Is that something you talk about? You know, how does this really weave itself other than just how you show up? How does this weave itself through through the company?
Not at all, you know, only because, you know, we've got, we've got Buddhist folks here, Christian folks, Jewish people, Muslims, we got the whole spectrum that work here. And everybody's like, relationship with religion and Christianity or religion and spirituality is totally different. And it's almost unquantifiable to see where people are. So it's not my job. You know, it's not my job to like, have any curiosity of that or like, particularly as leader, I don't feel like I want to encourage that either, because that could be coercive, there's kind of power dynamics that happen. So really, I'm I'm just I'm curious conversationally, but it doesn't become a pulpit I'm standing for because I don't have a Messiah Complex. You know, I'm also really interested in kind of Ken Wilber ideas of integral theory and and I think another thing that can kind of happen with spiritual practices spiritual pursuit or stuff in the workplace is you create a functioning hierarchy like how enlightened Are you? And if you're really enlightened, then somehow you're better than or greater than or have achieved something that somebody else hasn't. And I just don't think that's true at all. I think there is probably a spectrum. And you know, there are people that are higher, and just talented or start there, there's people that are lower. But I don't think there's anything that's better. You know, if I can go back and do it again, you know, maybe I would just watch football and put a beer in my lap, because that seems like a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon. So, bring it into work is is not something I am intentional about doing at all, except for kind of the way that that I behave.
Mm hmm. And, and what you talk about being an American Buddhist? What exactly does that mean?
I'm trying to figure it out. I don't know. I saw the Dalai Lama speak in Switzerland when I was 19. And he spoke in English, which was awesome, because everybody else there spoke, they probably spoke English too. But there's translator and stuff. And one of the things that he had said was, you know, it's, it's impossible, whereas words for Americans to be Buddhist, because they don't understand Buddhist culture. You know, you know, I kind of took that as a blow to 19 Okay, but wow, it's impossible. Great. You know, but it's also kind of a voice, David. And Dalai Lama is a incredible person, because everything he says, has a twinkle in his eye, and a little wink and a nod, you know, so it's kind of a ridiculous statement only because there's a billion Buddhists, they all have different cultures. So which culture is there. So, you know, an American Buddhist tradition was really kind of founded with, you know, all those hippies that went to Indian took acid, in static gurus, feats, and, and started learning some of these techniques and brought them back, you know, Alan Watts, and, you know, ROM Das, and Jack Kornfield. And, you know, just the American folks, and they started kind of bringing those techniques and those teachings to the States, but, you know, naturally, the culture will be affected in a positive way, with Buddhist ideals. It's one thing historically, I really get excited about, about Buddhism, because it's not a dominator religion, and the ways that the other big ones are, you know, they, it just kind of seeps in and enriches, whatever's happening and kind of grounds it with these techniques, as opposed to like, a club and a crown. It kind of evolves into it. So that's happening in America, you know, so, Suzuki, and like, all these guys, teaching is like starting to sink into our culture. You know, so in the past, where, you know, it's really attracted to kind of Buddhist ideas, aesthetically, it was like, almost like, I want to emulate that, like, I really want like the, the paper walls, and I want to wear this silk kimono and sit down in this beautiful room. But that's not the point of Buddhist thought, you know, it's not to make me need to be somebody else. It's like, just make me be the best person I could be with what I'm doing, you know, without adding or taking away. So, you know, what's an American Buddhist? I don't even know, you know, I do like, practicing in traditional ways, whether it's Zen or Dzogchen, and things like that. But maybe that's the American component is kind of sewing these disparate kind of ideas together, you know, which we have now in abundance. Because of the internet, you know, there's really no secrets left, you know?
Well, and it sounds, it sounds like too, and I'd be curious, your thoughts on this. One of the things that I talk about often on this podcast and something that I see sometimes is people taking these concepts and sort of using them as a spiritual bypass as saying things like, I'm, I'm, you know, spiritual, for lack of just just saying they're spiritual, but then not acting in that way. So how do you really integrate that?
You just got to check yourself all the time, you know, as best you can, I mean, trunk paw, and that book, spiritual materialism spiritual bypass, all that, you know, I'm wearing beads, but it's like, yeah, how much of your personal identity are you wrapping around your spiritual path? Dangerous, you know, that's just, that's, that's the hole, you can fall into a never get out of, you know, the pious trap. You know, so, I think maybe a technique that also comes from my personal culture was just like, trashing it. You know, don't don't mate. There's no holy cow. You know what I mean? Like, make fun of yourself. Be self deprecating. really realize when you're an idiot, you know, if I show up to the barbecue, and I got a toe ring, you know, in some Birkenstocks. I hope somebody calls me out. Like what are you doing, man? Are we here yet? We have toe rings now. Not that there's anything wrong with toe rings. But that it's is really important. It's it's a very common trap, especially when people start to have awakening experiences is that you know, there's a whole component of people that think they're Jesus now, but then there's kind of a step down or word
or where. Exactly, exactly is is like, you know, keep it easy. Keep it humble, you know what I mean? Like, don't none of this should be taken so seriously, you know, it's like oh, what's his name name escapes me. I was gonna say EQ, but it's not him. It's like, you know, but before enlightenment, chop wood carry lumber, you know, after enlightenment, chop wood carry water, Park, blue, that quote, but there's something to that. It's like, you got to keep yourself in check. And you should definitely read those books, you know, about spiritual bypass and Jewish materialism. Because it's just, it's, it's the it's part of our ego that keeps us safe. You know, so, just gotta be careful of it.
So hard you lean on podcasting? How does that fit in with the is it fun? is easy to serve serving a greater purpose? Doesn't make me money.
Yeah, well, fun. It's definitely fun. I never shut up. I love talking. I love connecting with people. Podcasting gives you an audience of one person and their undivided attention, which is amazing. I love that, you know, it makes money because we have a podcast booking agency. So we booked people that want to have these conversations on other people's podcast, you know, so we're seeing growth there. And it's, it's doing great, you know, and then of service, you know, folks around here probably get tired of hearing me talk about it, because I'm so corny. But like, truly, like, we're at this weird place in time, right? Where we have these extraordinary challenges, whether it's socially and obviously, the pandemic, and we've got supply chain stuff, we've got the environmental issues, we have all these things, we have polarized like population with, with differing opinions and views, and it seems like they're at each other's throat, you know, so there's really only one way that we can fix it, there's only one thing that's just talking to each other, you know, that's it. That's, that's the, that's the key. That's it. That's all we can do to make things better as talk to each other. So as far as service, you know, around here, we talk about celebrating good conversation, because I believe that's the only way forward. So only way we work it out is by talking to each other. So as far as being of service, I get a lot of satisfaction from that.
What is your Judo jujitsu training? And how does that circle in with all this? I mean, you have so many different components to who you are. As an entrepreneur,
you know, one thing, it's just it's just like sports, and I love sports and be a physical since I was a kid, always kind of done martial arts. Maybe my first martial, I was like wrestling, you know, and start doing jujitsu. I do Capital One as well. What is that? Kappa? Yeah, it's also like a Brazilian martial art kind of dance. There's a lot of singing, and music. And it's, it's got a really interesting history. It's also really, really hard. So there's something about martial arts, just for one. It's just like, if you're kind of a person with extra energy. And you know, that in the West, we can diagnose that with many different things. But for me, it's more comfortable just being like, I got extra energy has got to get out. jujitsu gives you a good opportunity. It's a it's a grappling martial art. So you know, it's like strangulation joint locks, that kind of stuff. In because but because there's no striking, you can spar, 100%, you know, you can go as hard as you possibly can, you know, someone gets their arm around me, they're about to strangle me out. I just You just go, No, tap, tap. And then everything stops and you start again. So it is relatively safe. I mean, it's much more safe than say skiing, or something where you're really on the verge of like, blunt trauma impact. So I like that I love the camaraderie of being on a team, you know, and like having these folks that you train with, you get to know them, you know, there's people I know, I know the extent of their hips, hip dexterity, but I don't know their last name, you know, just kind of a weird relationship to have with a guy by the snuggle struggle, you know? So it's great and it kind of weaves in it was probably the most challenging time and pandemic and quarantine was like not being able to train, you know, and that really is not good for my head or my routines and rituals like I was talking about So
what would you like to leave us with today? And then I'm going to I do open it up for questions at the end for anybody who's in the audience listening and might want to hop on and ask questions. But what do you want to sort of leave us with today in terms of bringing spirituality or really incorporating spirituality into our work life?
You know, what do we want to leave you with? I spoke a little bit about meta, and if folks aren't familiar with that, troll everybody
has now because Facebook?
Oh, yeah, they co opted that. It's a Pali word mad at me. TTA has to t's not Zuckerberg, whenever he's trying to make us do. I don't want to live in virtual reality. What are we doing?
Know Me? Hard enough in this reality, right?
Exactly. I like to eat my food with my mouth. I don't, I don't know. Call me weird. I'm old fashioned. So you know, Metta meditation is just a way of projecting loving kindness, it happens to be a pretty potent healing technology, at least it has been for me, you know, you start with your intention for yourself, in the same way that like you might, you know, if your planes going down, you put oxygen on yourself before you put it on your partner next to you. But it's just a series of affirmations. And it could be as simple as like, you know, may I be a piece, maybe a piece, maybe a piece, you know, something like that, where you start with yourself, and then use you after you're done with yourself, you project that onto the people that you love, you know, maybe it's your partner, maybe two kids, mom, whatever, it's a little bit easier than doing it for yourself. But then you're like, hey, my mom may be a piece may be a piece. And then you move to someone you're indifferent about, which is maybe that barista you see every morning at Starbucks, you know, may you be at peace. And then you if you've kind of can make it this far, you know, start thinking about the people, you're in conflict with people that are challenging to you, and start working different affirmations for them. You know, one thing, I think where it's been kind of helpful for me is that, you know, I have this inner NARRATOR That's going over conversations that happened in the past, or things I should have said, or the ways I could have made it better. And all these different, nonsensical, totally not useful conversations in my head all the time. And if I can catch myself and just use that as an opportunity to practice metta until that thought kind of slips on to something else. It's just helpful, it's a nice way to bring kind of kindness and in peace into your day. There's lots of ways to do it, there's no ways to do it wrong. So, you know, if folks are new, and they want to try a new technique, Metta me TTA is a great one to check out.
So I'm trying to think about this in terms of the psychological piece of it. So if you are, which a lot of people do, right, I get a lot of people who are in my office talking about rumination thoughts, like I shouldn't have said, what I said, I wonder what they think of me, oh, my gosh, now they're gonna think poorly of me, because I did this because I said this, how would metta incorporate into that?
You know, I think the first one is just to see that those one, the rumination and if you're thinking about the future projection, give it a name, you know, call it whatever you want. Maybe that's Francesca. And you can see those thoughts coming in to like, oh, Francesca's here, you know, and, you know, these rumination thoughts have kept my ancestors alive for forever, is torturing me right now. But like my ancestors, were able to ruminate on things they should have done to change their behavior in the present. And that's why I'm here. You know, so we can be, we can be thankful and grateful to Francesca and then also just allow her the opportunity to leave. And the opportunity to leave sometimes that doors not open, sometimes you got to open a door. And I think that meta meditations do that they give you an opportunity to refocus your, your thought those ruminating thoughts into a new direction, you know, so it's important not to be judgmental, it'll think about, about ruminating thoughts, but also provide an opportunity to do something else. Personally, I believe that 99.9% of my thoughts in my head are totally unnecessary. You know, like this ruminating isn't going to make anything better necessarily. For me, I can see the advantage it had biologically with my ancestors, but for me, I'd be much happier just, you know, using this metta meditation to put it into that situation. So it's, it's not like you're trying to turn something off rather you're just putting a different patina on that kind of thought.
So when you sit in meditation in the morning, this is is a meditation that you practice or you incorporate it throughout your day?
Yeah, both both, you know, I start all my sitting practice with metta is just kind of a grounding kind of base ritual to put me in a place where I feel good. You know, I feel gratitude, you know, is ultimately the providing, like, emotion that is important to me right now.
Okay, so walk us through it one more time. So it starts with, with you, with you, yourself, you start with, may I be at peace,
you could do that I'll give you kind of the one I use, okay? So I say, May I be happy? May I be healthy, may I be free from suffering, may be free from mental anxiety, may I feel safe, may pass my time in life at ease. And I say that four times. And I kind of hold myself in attention as I say that, and then I'll go to someone I love, may you be happy? May you be healthy, may you be free from suffering, may you be free from mental anxiety, may you feel safe, may pass your time in life at ease to that four times, you know, going through the people I love. So I'll start with my wife. And then I go with my firstborn daughter, and I go with my son, and then someone who's You're indifferent for. And then at the end of that, you know, start working on people that it's challenging, you know, in your life and relationships that are maybe not where they want to be, you know. So I'll do that to begin by sitting meditation. But then if, as I catch myself driving in traffic or anything else, as much as I can, I'll use that as like just a tool to fixate my thoughts in a direction that I want to be intentional about, rather than let rumination kind of wander in and just take control of the ship, you know, want to have some agency here? So I'll use it then too.
So it's, it's similar to a mantra.
Yeah, absolutely. It is a mantra for sure. I think the differentiator is just that the intention is love and kindness, as opposed to whatever other mantras there are, if it's the rosary or something, you know, I'm sure if people already have mantras, you know, use the rosary, you know, use your prayers in that way. With that intention. It has the same effect for sure.
Well, Ryan, thank you so much. I'm going to open it up for questions. But if people are curious about you, and what you do, can you tell us where they can find you?
You bet. Like I said, I co founded a company called kick caster Kitc as Te r.com. And we book entrepreneurs on top podcasts. So if you want to be a guest in be interviewed on top podcast, like Amy's that's what we do. So you can you can check us out there. I'm on LinkedIn, you could email me directly as a sick kid caster calm, I'm always happy to talk about talk to anybody about podcasting, for sure.
Alright, and if anybody has any questions, sometimes people do sometimes they don't. So I will wait just a minute and see if anybody wants to come up on stage and ask any questions of Ryan and how he thinks about spirituality and his work and in his play and everywhere, so just a few people. We all clap for him. I feel like, isn't it? I know, it's a fun platform. Really? I feel like we should have like the Jeopardy music dude. All right. Well, if no one wants to come up and ask any questions, then we will wrap it up for today. Ryan, thank you so much for your time and for telling us how you think about spirituality in the workplace. I think it's important. Certainly as we are in today's society, thinking about how we incorporate kindness and love towards everybody, but particularly the people we tend to spend the most time with, which is the people we work with.
100% Now Amy, I appreciate the time and appreciate your audience for listening in.
All right, thank you like what you heard today and want to hear more, wondering what comes next and what it all means. Head over to Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or anywhere you get your podcasts and hit subscribe. Also, if you could take a minute to rate and review my podcast, I would really appreciate it. Stay tuned as we continue to explore life, death and the space between