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Episode 230 | Brian Berneman | Using Ancient wisdom and modern science to help you live a more healthy, balanced and meaningful life

Episode 230 | Brian Berneman | Using Ancient wisdom and modern science to help you live a more healthy, balanced and meaningful life

"On this episode of Watts Involved, our guest speaker discusses the importance of conscious living and being present in the moment. They explore how many people are living on autopilot and not making conscious choices, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression. The podcast explores different ways to live consciously, including practicing meditation, understanding the balance of work and life, and integrating all aspects of oneself. The guest speaker shares their personal journey with spirituality and personal development, highlighting the importance of creating space and time for new habits. Listeners will gain insight into how to connect with their body, feelings, and energy, and how to integrate all parts of themselves to live a more conscious life rooted in personal values and beliefs."

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In this episode, I chat with Brian about his life and philosophy and how it can help you change your life.

Brian is a well-being leader and facilitator who has helped hundreds of people worldwide lead more balanced and meaningful lives. 

With a background in neuroscience and more than 15 years of experience teaching and practising yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and different healing modalities, Brian can synthesize modern scientific knowledge with ancient wisdom to help his clients get the results they desire. 

Well-versed in various techniques, including Tibetan Yoga, Reiki, crystal and sound healing, Family and Systemic Constellations, Del Arca technique, Buddhist philosophy and psychology, breathing techniques and mantras, Brian can draw on a wide range of tools to guide your transformation. 

Having taught hundreds of workshops worldwide, Brian has empowered people from all walks of life to realise their full potential and enable them to live a stress-free and meaningful life.

​Brian studied Tibetan Buddhism, Yoga, and meditation from the Tibetan Lama Tarthang Tulku's teachings at the Ratna Ling Retreat Centre for a two years deep immersion. 

Committed to conscious lifestyle practices, Brian also co-founded Conscious Action, a movement of people committed to living more intentionally, and You Being You, offering practical lifelong, well-being pathways for Heart connected conscious living.


David Watts [00:00:00]:


Once more. It is Watts Involved. And a special guest today, as always. And I'm fascinated about what this particular guest does because he does a lot of stuff, but his main focus is living consciously. He is a leader in the field of well-being and a conscious way of living. Who is he? He is Brian Berneman. Hello. Brian. How are you?


Brian Berneman [00:00:28]:


Hello, how are you? So glad to be here.


David Watts [00:00:32]:


It is fantastic to have you on the show with us. I'm hoping to ask a lot of questions and get them answered as well. But let's start off with a little bit of your background. Brian, where were you born, your early years? What led you to the place now where you are so active in well-being and conscious living?


Brian Berneman [00:00:56]:


Yes, definitely. So I was born in Buenos Aires. In Argentina. I was born to a wonderful family, wonderful parents, siblings, grandparents. It was a really nice childhood. I think that I'm really fortunate to have the family that I have. And I was, like most kids, interested in sports a lot on video games and things of that nature. And as a kid, I wasn't sure what was my path. I was seeing my siblings and they were doing really good at school, and I wasn't that good at school. They were doing really well with art and music, and that wasn't the case for me. And luckily for me, my parents started to be more interested in their personal development and their spiritual path. And through their path and their own journey, I started to feel drawn to those things. So I started to feel drawn to some of the practices that they were doing and some of the healing modalities that they were exploring. And by the time

I was a teenager, I was reading a lot of books on spirituality, on Buddhism, healing energy and different ancient wisdom traditions through that, and then starting to go to classes of meditation, Tibetan yoga, starting to go to different healings. I found my thing, I found what I resonated with. And with that, I started a journey that now has been for more than half my life of exploring what experience and realities are about and what my path is and how to expand my awareness and see things differently and explore my inner world and then explore my interconnectedness with the outer world.


David Watts [00:03:30]:


Wow, okay. And this is definitely a continuing journey, but I believe because people, a lot of people, when they hear somebody like yourself talking about Buddhism, mindfulness Tibetan meditation and yoga, things like that, they go, oh, no, that's all sort of weirdo hippie stuff. But you've got a background in neuroscience as well, haven't you?


Brian Berneman [00:04:00]:


Yes, as well. So I was really interested in understanding how all of these ancient wisdom traditions, how are they actually, in a more logical sense, how can we explain them? How can we bring the science to prove those things that have been tested throughout time. Like a lot of these wisdom traditions, they come from 2000 years ago, 3000 years ago, 5000 years ago, they have been tested through time. Yet our modern science up until quite recently, didn't know or hadn't really grasp. How does that work? For me through doing my postgraduate neuroscience. What that gave me was a better understanding and a way of connecting with those people that might not be open to seeing some of these practices and some of these ways as beneficial just because there might be that stigma of this is only for Hippies or this is only for greenies or whatever it is that they might have that idea. And to be able to bring this for everyone and the benefits of it, from looking at the brains and looking at the neuropathways on how that works and how the benefits of these practices, like now with science, we can actually show that that benefit is real.


David Watts [00:05:46]:


And that, I think, is the wonderful thing because I've maintained for a long time that there's really nothing new under the sun. A lot of the stuff that people talk about and the ancient teachings and secret wisdom and everything, it's been around. It's been around for a long time. And then we just decided that not everybody should be a hippie vegetarian that spends their day like sitting in a lotus position meditating. And it's not like that at all. And in today's times, we've got a massive challenge. We're coming out of a global pandemic. I still think the sort of backlash of Coronavirus is going to still manifest itself in terms of our emotions and our emotional state because for a long time we were just in survival mode, so this all makes sense. And living consciously is something I believe people are becoming more aware of. And in fact, they started on this journey of a shift in consciousness, I think before Coronavirus. I certainly noticed it in my podcast and the people that I was talking to. What have you found though, Brian? Are people more open and more receptive to these ideas?


Brian Berneman [00:07:10]:


I would say yes and no. I would say every time that there's a crisis, and this was a big crisis globally, there are a lot of people that are going to be open to see things differently. Because the opportunities there to actually take the time to review their lives and to review the way that they are living and potentially coming closer to the things that they actually value. So for those people, yes, there's much more of an opening to exploring some of these ideas of how to live more consciously. Yet. On the flip side, there's a lot of people that get caught up in the crisis instead of the opportunity, get caught up in the fear, and they close down even more and they react in a way which is completely normal to react in a way that the way that our system usually works. That it's either going to go into the fight or flight or the freezing mode. And that happens to a lot of people. So if they are stuck in fear, then it's harder to be open to exploring how to live more consciously.


David Watts [00:08:34]:


And again, that's something that happens today. And I think we live in that fight or flight mode so often and our brains, there's still that sort of ancient part of our brain which is where that fight or flight response lives. And we haven't realized today that there isn't a saber tooth tiger coming to eat us or the next village over the mountain is coming to raid us and steal all of our property. And yet in our day to day lives, we carry on like that. So we're always tense. And you can speak to many, many business people, I certainly have, and they'll say this is normal. This is normal to do this and to be in that state of heightened awareness, but it's not because invariably you burn out. And I've done that a couple of years ago. I just absolutely hit a brick wall. But I think, Brian, when we come back, let's dive a little deeper into what conscious living then means. So we'll talk about that when we come back. My guest is Brian Berneman. We'll be back in a bit. And we're back. Watts Involved it is and my guest Brian Berneman, and he's all about conscious living, meditation and got to say, I love chatting with you, Brian, because you have, you've got this incredibly calm, centred energy and I think that's something that so many people would like to have. I remember one of my mentors who sadly has passed away, but he always used to say to me, David, are you a human doing or a human being? And I spent a lot of time thinking about that. I think I'm still probably guilty of being a human doing and not just being. So talk to me about conscious living, Brian. Where does one start with conscious living? Because I thought living was something we kind of did until we didn't anymore.


Brian Berneman [00:10:44]:


Yes, and thank you for sharing that. That's actually something that I shared a lot about with a lot of the people I work with is being that human being not a human doing. And for talking about conscious living, I think one of the most important things is understanding whether we are living or we are just alive. For me, that's key because there's a lot of people in the world that they're just going through the motions. They are not choosing consciously anything that they are doing. They are living in an automatic pilot, they are living in a reactionary way, they are not showing up in a way that they want. They are not responding to life. So for me, there's a big difference between responding to life and reacting to life. The action might look the same, but where it's coming from is very different. One is. I am consciously choosing from an informed place. From a place, perhaps, of understanding my own experience, my feelings, my sensations, my state of mind, my energy and understanding what's involved in the circumstances, perhaps in the other people. What are they feeling? Having compassion to understand that everybody has their own baggage that they are bringing into any given situation. So being open to that as well, when there's any interactions or anything to do, when I'm able to show up in that way, it's very different than when I'm showing up in a way that is automatic, that I'm just reacting and that I am most likely not going to feel compassion towards myself and towards others. And most likely in that scenario I'm going to make a bigger mess of things and I'm going to continue to live life that is talking about stress, a life that is stressful that might lead to anxiety, to depression and to a life that it's not really that worth living. And I want to flip that. And this is one of the things that I aim to bring into this world, is the idea that there's a different way of living, a different way of being. That we can live without stress, that we can live in a way that it's beautiful, that we can enjoy life, that we can be not only alive, but living fully this present moment.


David Watts [00:13:25]:


And Brian, that sounds absolutely wonderful because everybody wants to live their best life. And by their best life I don't mean the pictures you often see on social media of I've got this big house or this big car, whatever. Living my best life. I think it is something as simple as being able to wake up in the morning with joy and look forward to your day and just take the day and be as sort of aware and as productive as possible. I know about this stuff. I've studied the same sort of stuff for many, many years and yet I'm caught in it. I'm caught in it now as we speak. And that's that cycle of eat, sleep, work, repeat, it's a horrible treadmill and once you're on it, it's a difficult thing to get off of. So living without stress, is that even possible?


Brian Berneman [00:14:30]:


Yes, not only it's possible, but also as you mentioned before now it's so normalized and also it's so glorified. A lot of times it's a badge of honour for someone to live stress out and then perhaps even suffer burnout. And I think that society has normalized so many things that are not natural and stress is not natural. What is natural is tension. Tension is natural and stress is not. Stress is what we create from our experience. And this is a lot of times it's never mind and not really processing and integrating what is actually happening, the feelings that we're experiencing. Therefore we start to accumulate unprocessed experience. And when we do that, we don't allow physically, physiologically, mentally and emotionally, we don't allow ourselves to move on and to be present. We are all of the time carrying this, like 100 kilo backpack or a rock. That is not going to be helpful. So one of the things for this, and this has been my experience, I used to be, when I was a teenager, very stressed out. And when I started to implement some of the practices that I now share, it completely changed. And I haven't been stressed now for over 15 years. So I know first hand that it is possible to live without stress. That doesn't mean that life is going to be everything is perfect. There's no challenges. No, there are challenges. Yet how I respond, how I process those experiences, is the key. So for me, for example, the fact that most people are just using their health, they are not using their bodies, they don't know how to feel their feelings, that was me. I had no idea about anything below the neck. So I had to reconnect with my body, I had to reconnect with my feelings, and I had to learn how to stay present in the moment with the experience and really feeling it, really being able to process it so that there was nothing that got stuck, there is nothing that got blocked, and I could move forward with whatever life brought. So the fact that most people are just using their heads, that is one of the issues. And there's nothing wrong with our heads. Our heads are amazing, our brains are incredible. Yet we need to integrate, and we need to integrate all of our parts. And by bringing the feelings from the body into our awareness, we allow ourselves to not get stuck in the past, to not get stuck in the potential future. As you were saying before, there's no tiger that is coming to kill us for most people in the world. So a lot of times the worries and the anxiety about what happened before, about what's coming, that's not real. So what's real now is this present moment and those other things that might pop into my awareness. What is the experience that I'm feeling when that happens? And then moving on from that.


David Watts [00:18:14]:


And you see, this is where I think, for a lot of people, and me as well, it becomes difficult because we are so used to living in our heads. I've lived in my head almost exclusively for a large part of my life, because to feel you were going to get hurt or there was negative connotations to feeling, and I could think and rationalize everything out. I mean, you would talk to me about something like meditation, and I'll say to you, I can understand it, I understand the process, I understand what it can do to your brain, but you can't meditate with your brain, I've found. So how do we bridge that gap? I think that's the question that we can ask and maybe when we come back, we can have a look a little bit about that, how we bridge that gap between your head and your heart. This is Watts Involved. My special guest is Brian Berneman and we're talking about conscious living. Back in a bit. And we're back with Brian Berneman talking all about conscious living, living without stress. So just before the break, Brian, I said maybe with this when we come back now, we should talk about how we make that connection between head and heart and get into those feelings. Where do we start?


Brian Berneman [00:19:43]:


Well, first of all, starting with the fact that we are where we are right now. So each of you that is listening to this, you are where you are in this present moment. So if you have been brought up and all of your life, you have just used your head perfectly. Okay? So first is about being kind to ourselves and also knowing there's also more. So there's your body, there's the feeling, and there's a lot of the energy that is moving. And that is what I want to invite you to focus on because as you mentioned earlier, the fact that a lot of people have had a lot of really challenging experiences means that the body is protecting them from the feelings. So the feelings were too much at a time in their lives. So the response or the defence mechanism from their body was shutting down, not feeling and just using the head. So we need to reorganize the orientation of how we experience by creating space for the body. So with a lot of my clients, for example, that have never done anything with their body, they don't need to go and practice yoga. They just need to create space during their day where they bring their awareness back into the body. Just creating space and being kind and just being able to focus on the sensation level, not on the feeling, not on the emotion, just on the sensation level so that the head is not too involved there. Because for example, if I put my hand and I touch my belly, there's going to be if I start to rub it, there's going to be a little sensation. And I want to stay with that. I want to familiarize myself with there's a sensation there doesn't mean anything for now. Later on we start to add different layers, but at the beginning is, okay, let's start to just feel that. Let's start to notice how does it feel when I'm breathing in and when I'm breathing out. How does it feel when I'm walking? How does it feel when I'm jumping? How does it feel when I'm doing any kind of exercise or any movement from a sensation level? And that is to start to be reacquainted with that capacity that we have a feeling and that is the key for me to start.


David Watts [00:22:36]:


Okay, no, that makes sense now when we start this process and we start just being aware and seeing and you mentioned the breathing and that's something that helped me a lot because my mind jumps around like a drunken monkey. And when I first started with meditation and just trying to trying to be quiet and with my personality, I wanted to start meditating and by the next day I wanted to be able to meditate like a Zen master. But eventually what I had to do was just sit quietly and learn to ignore this monkey mind of mine that's chattering and carrying on in my head and just focus on breathing in and out and what that feels like. Is this something that we should do then on a daily basis? Do we put some time aside in the morning or in the afternoon? Or is it something that just during the day just check in what's the best way to go there?


Brian Berneman [00:23:43]:


The best way is to understand how does our body work and our body and our mind, all of the patterns of behaviors that we have. If we want to create a new habit, we need to do things differently and we need to create the space and the time to do that. So it's going to be much helpful for people to actually set up a time specifically for that instead of thinking that they might be able to do it whilst they are doing something else. Which with time, that's where we get to we get to the fact that now I'm talking to you and I'm doing the same as if I would be sitting meditating. I am working and I'm doing that. But at the beginning is about that about creating the space to do something differently. And one of the things that you mentioned that I think that also is really important for me is when thoughts occur, if we're trying to meditate or we're trying to create space for feeling the feelings, thoughts will happen because that's what's been happening all of our lives. So what I invite instead of ignoring or trying to push away thoughts is including them. So we want to include all of our experience, yet what we want to change is where are we placing our awareness. So it's not that there's no thoughts, it's that I am placing my awareness on the feeling sensations. I am placing my awareness on my breath. And anytime that the thoughts occurs, it's perfectly okay. I don't try to push it away, I don't try to ignore it. I just allow it. Knowing that just like the clouds in the sky, thoughts come and go. All that I need to do is not cling onto them. And by doing that, I create that space and that time for the breath, for the feelings and for processing what's actually happening in this present moment. And the more that I can open myself to this present moment and to experience the more that I expand my awareness, the more that I can allow into my life and the more rich and full my life is. And I can do so many different things. Yet I'm rooted and grounded in this moment in my body, fully integrating and balancing all the different aspects of myself, the inner, the outer, the breath, the body, the mind. I'm integrating and balancing all of it and that is the way of moving towards a more conscious life that is rooted on me and my values and what I believe that is true and not what anybody else believed that it's true how I want to live my life. And I can only do that if I actually go in and I question the things that I thought that were true. If I don't do any questioning, then I'm going to be settling to what I've been conditioned to believe. And what I've been conditioned to believe doesn't necessarily is true for me. That was true for my parents, that was true for my family, for my culture, but not everything is going to be true for me. And as soon as I started to do that, and as soon as we all start to do that, we hold ourselves in our power, we stand up for what we believe and then we start to live more consciously.


David Watts [00:27:25]:


Wow. Okay, all right. Just by chatting with you, Brian, I can already sort of feel the ease with which you move through the world and I think that is something that is amazing. Now, I've spoken on this show to many, many entrepreneurs and overwhelmingly, if I ever bring up the topic of work life balance, they would go come back to me and go, there is no such thing as work life balance. If you're an entrepreneur, your work is your life. There is no balance. Do you think it's possible that we can achieve some sort of balance? And if so, when we come back and wrap up this chat, let's get into that first. This is Watts Involved my special guest, Brian Berneman. And we're back with Brian Berneman, my special guest, talking about mindfulness, we're talking about living consciously. So Brian, what do you say to the statement I made just before the break?


Brian Berneman [00:28:32]:


So I would say a couple of things. The first is understanding what our meaning of those words of balance of work and life are. Because for me, work might actually mean something very different than for a lot of other people. For me, work is the way that I am showing up in the world and what I am doing, how I'm bringing my gifts into this world. So whether I'm being paid or not, what I'm doing during the day, that is my work. And I think that that already perhaps is very different than what a lot of people are doing. So for me, there's definitely balance in life and understanding that if I am balanced, my life and my work are going to be balanced. For most people one of the issues is that they are doing something in terms of work that they don't want to be doing. They don't know why they are doing it, they don't understand how they are showing up to it and therefore there's this noise or something that is not fully aligned. Once we get to that place and we start to get stress of course then it's very difficult to have that so called work life balance. For me the most important thing is life and the balance is more life and work. Work is secondary in a sense for my life. Work, as I said, is how I'm showing up in the world. For most people, work is what they are doing in order to bring money to be able to live their lives. So when we start to allow ourselves to understand, as I was saying before, more of the balance of our experience, the body, the breath, the mind, then that enables us to be more present during the day, to show up in a way that is going to be a bit more awareness with more energy, with more satisfaction and better communication. And allowing ourselves at work not to go to that place of stress, not to take home the stresses of work, not to take to work the stresses of life at home. So when we allow ourselves to be present, we allow ourselves to move from moment to moment to what is and that's when we find that inner balance then our outer life finds balance. So then that is possible. So this is always this very interesting dynamic and this dance of the inner and the outer. If the outer is having too much problems, too much stress most likely that is a reflection as well of the inner environment. So I can perhaps if that's the case, sit down and review what's bringing that into my experience. How am I experiencing it, bringing back again to the feeling sensations, to the breath and working with the outer world as well? How am I communicating with those that I'm working with? With my co-workers, with my team? Am I communicating from a place of trusting, of kindness, of compassion, of honesty, of openness or not? Or am I deceiving, manipulating or trying to do things in a way that it's not actually going to be supportive of a good environment? Am I actually knowing my own boundaries and communicating my boundaries, communicating to my co-workers? If a day I'm not feeling that well then they can actually know that I might be struggling with something and they can support me. But if I don't communicate that creates problems the same at home, if I don't create a nice environment there, the same thing happens. And one of the key things that one of the ways that I work with a lot of my clients as we go through this process, because sometimes it's a process of creating that change is that when they go to work, they take a few moments to make a transition. So just allowing moments of transition from so called home to work, and the same when they leave work, creating a space, whether that's five minutes, ten minutes, or however long, to create the transition, to bring gratitude. For what? Is and to not take anything on that doesn't need to be taken on to what is next and being able to be fully where you are. Because if there's something from work that I didn't finish and I cannot do anything until tomorrow, why would I take that on during the entire evening at home? So allowing myself to create those spaces, to integrate and to transition from cycle to cycle.


David Watts [00:33:39]:


Wonderful stuff. Brian, you've given us some amazing suggestions and insights, but one of the things that I wanted to just get into is you founded what would you call it, a movement called conscious action. And I'm fascinated by this. And the reason I'm asking you about conscious action is you talk about working with your clients. So if somebody's listening to this and they're going, Brian, it's fantastic. I've learned a lot, but I'm the kind of person that is going to need some more help. Is this the kind of thing you do with conscious action?


Brian Berneman [00:34:22]:


Yes. So through conscious action, the idea is to be able to give different tools in different ways to people, to be able to find a way of living more consciously, of taking responsibility of how they are showing up in the world. And we do this through events, through a podcast, through content, through working one on one with people, working with groups, working with businesses. So whether that is different, people need different ways of working. So I love all of those different ways. I love working with organizations and with businesses and their teams. I love working with individuals on a one on one basis, whether that is in person or online. So if anybody, as you were saying, resonates with anything that I've been sharing and is interested on going a little bit deeper, just go and check out our website. Go and check out all of the places on social media that you might be able to find us and get in touch and let's see if you resonate with what I'm doing and I might be able to support you.


David Watts [00:35:35]:


Wonderful stuff. Now, where do people need to go to? I think the website probably the best place. It's www dot consciousaction dot co dot nz. Which implies that you're in New Zealand now.


Brian Berneman [00:35:52]:




David Watts [00:35:55]:


It's a big change from Buenos Aires to New Zealand. And if somebody wants to find out more about you, Brian, that's the place to go. If they'd like to have a listen and maybe subscribe to your podcast, where would they find the podcast?


Brian Berneman [00:36:11]:


They can find the podcast in all of the major network films, Spotify, iTunes, anywhere that you would listen to your podcast, just search for the Conscious Action Podcast.


David Watts [00:36:25]:


It's called the Conscious Action Podcast. Well, Brian, I've thoroughly enjoyed having a chat to you today and it's been very enlightening. And I hope, if you're listening, that you picked up a couple of tips and head across to Brian's website and see what you can do there. Brian, thank you so much for taking the time out and having a chat with us. I do really appreciate it.


Brian Berneman [00:36:49]:


Thank you, David. Thank you for creating a space for the wonderful questions and for being able to share this space with me.


David Watts [00:36:58]:


Fantastic. There we go. Wraps it up for this edition of What's Involved. My special guest from Conscious Action was Brian Berneman, as I said earlier, and check it out, consciousaction.co.nz for all the info there. To each and every one of you, look after yourselves, take care and thank you for listening.

Brian BernemanProfile Photo

Brian Berneman


Brian is a wellness leader and facilitator, who has helped hundreds of people around the world lead more balanced and meaningful lives.
With a background in neuroscience and more than 15 years of experience teaching and practicing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and different healing modalities, Brian is able to synthesize modern scientific knowledge with ancient wisdom to help his clients get the results they desire.
Brian has empowered people from all walks of life to realise their full potential and enable them to live a stress-free and meaningful life.
Committed to conscious lifestyle practices, Brian founded Conscious Action, a movement of people inspired to live more intentionally.