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How You Can Choose Love and Acceptance in Hard Times with Barron Steffen


Barron Steffen is a Siddha Yoga practitioner, a big band crooner, and a widower. He is also the author of the book, “The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance – 13 Days,” where he shares the story of the death of his wife Dr. Seana Lowe Steffen and the 13 days that follow. It is a joy to speak with him, and it is an honor to have him share his journey of saying goodbye to the love of his life, and the peace and joy that came with that journey. Barron now focuses his life’s work on “The Yoga of Mindset,” a program that helps children and other people to give them the “tools necessary to live harmoniously among our thoughts,” and spread the art of mindfulness.

In the book, Barron shares about the death of his wife Seana. One night while he is out of town at a retreat, he receives a call that informs him that she is deceased. The book chronicles the next 13 days, and how he grapples with her passing. He calls it a love story disguised as a tragedy, and in it he shares his own personal journey, as he faces the pain of loss head on:

“It went into this bizarre dual thing of both agony and beauty. Feeling the pain of that loss when I got that he said don’t avoid everything with the practices, but then to feel it.

I don’t know. I think it’s an alchemy, and I’ll be honest with you, of the truth and the trueness of my particular spiritual path and having done the practices truthfully and earnestly for so long. That was the gift to feel that life and death was a coin and on both sides is life and death on the side, and beauty exists simultaneously with love and loss. I felt it.”

Finding Joy in The Messy Middle 

Barron has much to share about sitting in the midst of a messy middle, and I appreciated him being open to talking about it in this interview. One thing that stood out to me is that he recognizes that all of the spiritual work and practice he has done through his life is part of what made it possible for him to experience the loss of his wife in the way that he did. Without “practicing” for years ahead of the loss, he would not have had the ability to embrace the loss in the way that he did.

For those of us now sitting with the messy middle of the pandemic and our lives, he offers that we should try out empathy:

“I would say first of all it’s empathy. I have such empathy and compassion for everyone. I can see the immense fear and anxiety. I think the biggest misunderstanding is that it’s out there. The only place in my experience that I can start is ever with myself, and I make it a rule to never offer advice or try to teach anybody unless they ask for it, for help, because everyone is where they are for a very good reason, they have to be there. We’re where we are because we are where we are, we’ve learned what we’ve learned until this point. There’s no point judging it.”

Resources

Pre-order Jump Start Your Joy, the book coming out February 16, 2021

Barron Steffen’s Website

Yoga of Mindset Website

The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance – 13 Days by Barron Steffen on Amazon

Transcript

Paula:  Welcome to Jump Start Your Joy. This week I am so delighted to have author Barron Steffen on the show. He’s the author of The Final Gift of the Beloved. Thank you so much for coming on this week, Barron.

Barron:  It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Paula:  Would you like to tell us what you loved most as a child or in school, what were your earliest sparks of joy?

Barron:  It was my family. Even though, as you know from the book, there were very dark times, it was literally having two sisters, my mother, and my grandfather. Such present moments of love and lightness that were so profound that there was no forgetting that, so even when things became difficult and dark later on, there was always that neuronal memory.

Paula:  I love that. It’s interesting because so many people go to the things or the events of their life when that question comes up, they loved animals or they loved being in nature. I love that you’ve focused in on the present moment and the love that you knew was a total reality for your family. I also see that playing through in a beautiful way in your book. So, it’s interesting.

You wrote an amazing book, which I really enjoyed reading, The Final Gift of the Beloved. It’s a really artful telling of the love story between you and your wife Seana, and also at the same time her leaving this Earth. Would you like to tell us a little bit about the book and how you got to the craft of telling the story?

Barron:  The full title of the book is long, and I’m going to say it because it actually gives away the entire book in the title. The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance – 13 Days. Ultimately, as you know from the book, that was my wife’s final gift to me, her disappearance, and how I was and still am able to perceive and almost accept the gift of the gift as a gift is why I wrote the book and what it’s about.

Because I didn’t want to write the book. I had friends ask me to write it so they and others could better understand how it was I was able to respond the way I did to something so devastating to so many. Seana was globally known and loved. We can get into that a little bit later, but she was a great leader of women globally.

The book is the true story of the 13 days following my wife’s fatal automobile accident. It’s a moment-by-moment chronicle beginning with the officer’s words, “She is deceased.” Those 13 days were unlike anything I could have imagined, both from the devastation, the agony, and the beauty. That’s what was so disorienting and also transforming is that it could be both. To be honest, it was the love that had the upper hand.

One way I describe it in a shorter way is it’s a love story disguised as a tragedy.

Paula:  That definitely came through so loud and clear. I was really taken aback. I think some of it was both your spiritual practice of yoga and even being in the midst of a retreat when you received the news, but having the presence to trust what it was that you needed.

I know you asked the first person that you met after you got the news, “What should I do? I don’t know.” Your intuition was to stay where you were and see the day through. I don’t know if you want to talk about that, how you had that deep sense of knowing that that was the next right step. I’m impressed by that when people can have that presence.

Barron:  That is a result of my Sādhanā, which is the Sanskrit word for spiritual practices, because I’ve done them for so long and for so many years. Even though Seana and I weren’t on the same path, we still had this innate trust of whatever happens, whether it’s amazing or abhorrent, we need to look for what the lesson is in it for us. This just had been my path for so long that when life took away Seana, all I had left was the only other thing I’ve truly loved, which is my spiritual path.

In one sense, that’s also why I wrote the book. The purpose of the book is not to promote any specific or particular spiritual path. It’s important to know that my path of Siddha Yoga is a philosophy and not a religion, and that there are people from many different faiths within it. What I wanted people to understand, and in your question I hear this question again, which is, “How did you respond that way?” I had given for many years myself to the teachings of my path.

Those teachings came to my aid when I needed them most. Which is why when I got out of the car, I had absolutely no thoughts. From a western point of view, it’s completely understandable. Right? My neurons had never asked the question that was the unaskable question of, “What would you do if your wife suddenly were dead?” I would never had contemplated that. So, my mind was completely blank.

Because I had meditated every day for an hour for 25 years, and all the other things I’ve done, I was familiar with that emptiness, so I knew something unbelievable had happened and I had no way to understand it. I also knew, on the other hand, that the tidal wave of grief was going to come. It hadn’t come yet, and I didn’t let it come. Again, I attribute that to my spiritual practices, for understanding that to honor that wave of grief and my wife as was fitting of her stature and greatness, I had to put myself in the perfect place to receive it, undistracted.

Paula:  That’s powerful. We’ve had several people on the show, some people that are experts in grief, like Julia Samuel, who is a British psychotherapist, but other people who have talked about grief and losing someone very close to them, and it always feels like there’s somewhat of that balance of wanting to do things, like to immerse themselves in an action to get away from or to numb out from pain, but also knowing deep inside that you also have to be present for the emotions.

I loved one of the things that I believe one of your teachers said, something about you don’t want to pole vault the feelings with practices. I had to reread that line several times because it was like someone has just said that in the perfect way. To really honor the immensity and the importance of someone in your life, just getting through it isn’t usually the point of the thing, like you were saying.

Barron:  And yet we have to get through it. That’s what was so profound about it. In the book and in truth, I spoke to one of the monks of Siddha Yoga, Swami Ji, and that’s what you’re referring to is at a later date after the 13 days I told him what he was happening. Because I had used my practices of meditation, chanting, prayer, journaling, all of those things that I had learned over so many years, to keep me away from the abyss, because it a very real abyss. I can imagine someone losing a child or something and when it happens unexpectedly it is almost an infinite looking depth of abyss. When he said that, I got it, just like you just got it.

So, there is this amazing balance, almost juggling of things in the air at the time you’re dealing with the grief, of doing whatever you know to both honor and feel the grief. But one of the best things we can do is do what they say on airplanes, put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you put it on your children. In that way, that’s what I was doing with the practices. As I progressed down the road of dealing with everything, from realizing my beloved was gone, I got it. My heart kept breaking open and I thought, “How many times can a heart break? How many times can I be completely annihilated?”

What I got was that there is no end to the love unless you decide so. Ultimately, I had to feel the pain as well. Boy, that’s when it went into this bizarre dual thing of both agony and beauty. Feeling the pain of that loss when I got that he said don’t avoid everything with the practices, but then to feel it.

I don’t know. I think it’s an alchemy, and I’ll be honest with you, of the truth and the trueness of my particular spiritual path and having done the practices truthfully and earnestly for so long. That was the gift to feel that life and death was a coin and on both sides is life and death on the side, and beauty exists simultaneously with love and loss. I felt it.

I’m saying these words, but they don’t come close to describing what it was like. It was so much more true than the voice you’re hearing right now. It made so much more sense than even you and I talking right now.

Paula:  Yes. I get the sense that it is one of those deep intuitive knowings that when you’re in it you’re like, “I understand this with my being. I can accept this and there aren’t words.” It’s one of those beyond human communications.

Barron:  As it has become for me, it becomes one’s lighthouse. Nothing in my life has ever felt as true as certain what I call prime number like episodes in my life, one-of-a-kind things. Afterwards, if we talk about them, because we can’t put things into language of that level and depth, they can sometimes almost feel false and be proved as wrong by outer perspectives, but only I know the truth of something that I felt at that level. It will always be true, even when I look at it from a shallower level and I can’t quite get there again, I remember the veracity and I will never forget that love.

Paula:  That’s powerful, too. One of the things that I thought was so beautiful and moving was there are several people that come in, especially during those first few days, and the one friend that said something about people need to hear from you to know that you’re okay. I could understand withdrawing and being like, no, I just can’t talk, there aren’t words for this. You putting it out there on social media, but then the turn, the shift of it, because people were getting upset that Seana had passed away and been killed in a car accident.

Barron:  They were furious.

Paula:  And understandably so. But then the turn of it, of what can we do to focus, again returning to the deep-seated love. Can you tell us about the 13 days and what that means, and what you put out there for people really as a pillar of hope and beauty?

Barron:  If I forget to what you said about the turning of the tide for everyone else, turn me back to it. The 13 days is basically an eastern concept, I don’t know if it comes from Hinduism or whatever, of honoring the death of someone you love for 13 days, and on the 13th day you release them from anything that would hold them to this physical plane. You thank them and you say, “Go into the light and love that is your nature. I’ll be fine without you.” You don’t want to hold them here, so there’s this process of honoring and thanking them.

Swami Ji the monk told me something really important. He said, “I suspect your wife is nearby you watching you, and she is looking to see for how you’re responding. I would sit before your puja,” the Sanskrit word for alter, “and I would thank her, and I would talk to her.” As soon as he said that, I shifted from half empty to completely full, because I knew that was the new expression of my grief and whatever I was going through was to talk to her, of course.

For anyone going through grief, I would just say it was a turning point for me to be able to still talk to her. It was profound to sit in front of my alter and invoke her presence and to send her blessings, which was the one and only intention I had. What else would we want to do when someone we love dies?

Paula:  Right. Yes. I don’t know if there was more that you wanted to say about the turning of the tide with others.

Barron:  It’s funny, when I talked to John on the second day, he’s a dear friend and he’s been in Siddha Yoga even longer than I have, so I deeply trusted him. In fact, he was the one who married Seana and I on the beach. Not that he’s a pastor, he’s just this amazing lighthearted beautiful being. He said, “Barron, there’s people out there that are really worried about you.” The funny thing was I was like, “Oh, there are?” That’s what I thought in the moment. In one sense my grief was so selfish, everything was about me and my pain. Even that went through this transformation.

What I got when I finally went online, I don’t know what day it was, day three or whatever, and saw how people were responding on Facebook, there was such a global outcry because, as I said, Seana was known globally, that it prompted me to say something to, as John had suggested, turn them in the direction Seana and I would want them to receive this devastating news as.

Just to give you a brief, Seana’s vitae is very long, but here’s a few things for our women listeners. Seana was invited by Jimmy Carter to facilitate at The Carter Center when he invited a group of religious leaders from around the world to discuss how to help women stop being so persecuted through their religions. Seana worked for years with Tostan International, a U.S. based nonprofit organization, based also in West Africa, and they were the first organization to get over 8,000 villages to voluntarily curtail female genital cutting.

The outcry online was shocking to me when I looked. The posts, everyone was devastated at the same level I was. To hear so many people saying that the turning point in their life was from an interaction with my wife. I knew this because I had been around her students and her colleagues and all that, and I knew that they’d idealized us as a couple, which is why I put in so much of the challenges that we went through in our marriage, but I had no idea that people felt she was so seminal.

The only thing to do was to let them know how I was approaching this and allow them to infer that this is how Seana would want them to as well. How can we use this in the most uplifted way to open our hearts to become humble, and generous, and kind, and understanding? That’s all Seana ever wanted. So, that was my few messages online.

Paula:  It’s also an amazing to be in where you’re the grieving one, but I think as a society many of us don’t know what to do with extreme emotions, ever. That you took the words of John to heart and said here’s the framework with which we can do this together. I feel some of it was clearly that you invited people in to both celebrate her life but grieve with you, and let them know what you would be doing then on the 13th day and how that was so meaningful to you.

That’s just amazing. I think that’s something that I’ll take is that there’s leadership in that. Knowing Seana was a leader, that’s probably also the kind of leadership she had. Just beautiful.

Barron:  Thank you. I would never have been able to respond emotionally in the way you’re saying had it not been for all of the work I’d done on my path up until then. I want to make that really clear. I really do want to share that none of how I responded, as I say in the book, I don’t think I would ever have even met Seana had I not already been on my path for so long, because I simply would not have been ready for it, I wouldn’t have been mature enough for her.

Paula:  That is super interesting as well. A spiritual practice of any sort is so fundamental, even though it always feels really hard to sit down and meditate or whatever it is.

Barron:  It is very hard work.

Paula:  It is.

Barron:  But look at the outcome and results of an unobservant, undisciplined mind. Look around the world, that’s what we’re seeing right now.

It’s bizarre to me – I taught elementary school for 18 years, third, fourth, and fifth grade – that we never teach children how to use their thoughts so that they’re not used by them is insane. It’s insanity. We all grow up not understanding both the power and creativity of our thoughts. We never even suspect that the average human being has 60,000 thoughts a day, because we can’t even remember five from yesterday or any from the day before. If we’re so unaware of something, how can we possibly know how it’s actually affecting us?

This is something I brought into the classroom in whatever I could. The way for me as a teacher was through growth mindset, the educational theory from Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University. One way I made it real for children is before tests I would have them write down their growth mindset thoughts and their fixed mindset thoughts.

On one side they would write, “I’m going to do great with this,” and on the other side they might write their thoughts of, “I’m going to fail this. I’m going to do horrible in this.” Then because we had such a community and we understood that we were all out for each other’s growth and that we were all working on something, including Mr. Steffen, some of them would be brave enough to let me share.

I remember particularly one student who had written and let me say out loud to the class, “Joey said, ‘I’m horrible at this. I’m going to fail.’” I went to Joey’s ear, with everybody watching and listening as well in the classroom, and I said, “What would you say to someone who walked up to you and said you’re horrible, you’re going to fail this test, you’re worth nothing?” Everybody, these fourth and fifth graders, were like, “Tell them to get the heck out of here. Tell them to get away from me forever.”

The point we were getting across every day was why would we let our thoughts tell ourselves that. We’re never ever taught that. We assume that the mind filters out bad thoughts and only keeps good thoughts. It is not true. The mind keeps both. The mind can’t tell the difference between what is true and what is imagined, which is why we can get so startled by things. There are so many proofs of this.

Ultimately, as I say, I just delete the thoughts that I don’t want. I say delete, like on a phone, I delete them. I just don’t let them grow. Because we end up believing even those random thoughts that come out of nowhere and mean nothing. Like you’re driving down the street, you see an accident, and somewhere in your head, if you’re paying attention, you might hear something really radical or stupid that’s not you at all, “I hope something bad happens.”

The mind, and this is what meditation teaches is that it just throws up thought after thought and none of them are who we are. Because we never come to the understanding and are never taught that we’re not our thoughts, everything we see in the world is our fear of ourselves, because our thoughts are just so out of control. I describe it as the garden of the mind, but we let both weeds and flowers grow there. I’ve seen it in children. It’s just a difficult place to live and we can’t trust our thoughts.

Paula:  That is super powerful. It strikes me, too, that that kind of understanding of one’s mind and the power of your thoughts, there’s a larger application for that whole thing right now in today’s world. I feel like a lot of it, especially in the political cycle that we’re currently in, there are a lot of messages of be afraid of everything.

I don’t know if you have reflections or thoughts on it. Obviously, I feel like healing happens at the individual level. Is there something that we can all do as we sit in the middle of all of this to try to turn the tide?

Barron:  That’s a huge question. There’s a lot of answers to it. On the one hand, we can only start from where we are. Hearing me say something isn’t going to give you 25 years of daily meditation. Right? I don’t mean that in any way other than simply let’s get real here.

It was like me when I started teaching 20 years ago and didn’t understand why things were so off in the classroom. I simply hadn’t done the work and didn’t understand that I had to start where everyone was. I expected them to be fourth graders, but many of them were reading at first grade levels, and many of them had stunted growth in math. Starting where I thought they were supposed to be was the wrong approach, because it brought about judgment.

I would say first of all it’s empathy. I have such empathy and compassion for everyone. I can see the immense fear and anxiety. I think the biggest misunderstanding is that it’s out there. The only place in my experience that I can start is ever with myself, and I make it a rule to never offer advice or try to teach anybody unless they ask for it, for help, because everyone is where they are for a very good reason, they have to be there. We’re where we are because we are where we are, we’ve learned what we’ve learned until this point. There’s no point judging it.

That’s one of the great things that teaching gave me, which I knew it would, was watching the beauty and innocence of a child throw a tantrum over there and realize that afterwards if I’ve judged her or him in any way, I feel terrible because I get it, it’s false, that’s not who that child is. That child is completely beautiful, but they’re working through something.

It’s this empathy of we’re all where we are for a reason, and I need to work on myself a lot more than I need to tell anyone else what to do.

Paula:  Thank you for that. It does strike me that we are all in the midst of many things right now and that there are many lessons being learned and taught and things to observe. It’s an interesting time.

Barron:  That’s why your podcast is so important. Though I know little about it, I know the title, Jump Start Your Joy. Even just a title can give us so much insight into what is possible right now. I think most of us learn to live in the past and the future, we project our past into our future because that’s our beliefs, but we’re never right here and now. If we look right here and now, nothing is going wrong right now, unless it’s in our thoughts. I’m grateful for what you do.

Paula:  Thank you. The cornerstone quote for the whole thing is around joy being a choice and that we must keep choosing it. When I arrived at the end of your book and saw that the gift was both choice and acceptance, I was like, Of course.” I really appreciated that, too. There’s a definite resonance there.

Barron:  How perfect. I get it now. Right at the end of the book I say I found that I had a choice. The power of that choice has revealed every devastating shard as love. That’s why we do the work. That’s why we work on our emotions and don’t let our old reactions control us anymore. It’s why we do the work through meditation on our minds. Because that gives that choice more power. In the moment, instead of it washing away, we need strength, life takes courage.

If I forget to say it, on my website I have The Yoga of Mindset. Because I’ve taken these lessons for over 20 years and I read them every day, I wrote and recorded three months of them for free on my website so that people can benefit in the way that I benefit every day.

I went for a run yesterday. What did I do? I put in my headphones and I listened to my lesson, simply to change the recordings that are going through my head into positive more uplifting thoughts.

Paula:  It sounds like on your path now you’ve moved into that position of you’re working in The Yoga of Mindset. Is that the focus now of all of your work?

Barron:  It is, and it isn’t. Having retired from teaching, I moved back to Hawaii, where Seana and I met. I’m like two blocks from where I used to live when we met, which is really ironic. I thought that would have something to do with this book that I wrote or these lessons that I wanted to put out there for free so that people could benefit, for whoever wanted to benefit, but I get that this life is mysterious.

If no one comes, it’s fine. I have no agenda, I guess is the best way to say it. I’m not worried about it. I’m not trying to promote anything, and I don’t want to.  

Paula:  I understand that. Starting out on even the journey of this podcast, I kind of thought it would be one thing, and then it definitely was not. It was going to be the marketing arm of a life coach practice. Then it became its own thing, clearly because it was just meant to be.

That has been really interesting as well, not clinging too tightly to what my interpretation of what anything would be and just letting it evolve into whatever creativity came in and said let’s do this. It’s a dance, it’s always a dance. That has been a really interesting practice for me as well, and then trying to listen where does it go next.

We’re in season six now and I think it’s more about talking about how do we find the joy in the messy middle, which is where we always are, but I think we’re even messier right now than maybe we had been for several years.

I appreciate your insights, too, on how you sat in truly the messiest of middles.

Barron:  I want to come back to why I thought of including those parts about Seana and I. Because her students, colleagues, and people around the world idealized our marriage, because Seana was so looked up to, I wanted them to know how hard we worked every day and how many times I tried to leave her because of my old conditioned negative patterns from childhood, what I grew up with. I wanted to both let them know and also give them some of the tools that Seana and I used, like sitting back-to-back in the meditation room and things like that so that we wouldn’t see each other’s faces when we had these incredibly difficult things to work through.

I put all of that in there both because I knew her students for sure would say, “Oh, okay. Seana said this, then I should try this,” because Seana is so respected, but I also wanted them to know because they’re all getting married or have partners, whatever that may be, to expect it to be messy. That we get so fooled here when things don’t look the way we think they’re supposed to look and we give up on them, and we give up on the very things that were our reason for coming into a body.

That’s what I almost had wished Seana so many times. I based it on, “Am I happy?” Well, that’s a foolish measurement, because as soon as you’re not happy then you blame the outside world again, “It must be her fault. It must be his fault. It must be that I didn’t do this or that. It didn’t happen my way.” This is the basis of all sadness and sorrow is the blaming, not taking responsibility for our thoughts and emotions. I came so close to abandoning the love of my life so many times because I hadn’t quite learned the lesson all the way.

Just for those listening, the only way I was able to hold onto it, which I share in that meditation room episode and afterwards, was the letting go of the evidence. What I got was that if I stayed in the mindset and perspective I had, which was I had created this huge poster of all of the things that were wrong with Seana and the evidence behind it and I put it on the wall in the meditation room, and this is what we met to talk about and were we going to stay together or not. What I finally understood was from so many perspectives what I wrote, all of that evidence is true and people would agree with me, but ultimately that’s not why I came here. I didn’t come into this body and mind to prove myself right or to be more right than her, or any of these things.

If I wanted what I really wanted, which was more than the love of our relationship, but to grow and evolve as a human being, then I had to turn and face and take responsibility for that part of me that I want. That allowed me to drop all of my evidence with Seana, and that’s why I went upstairs with the poster and ripped it into tiny pieces and hugged her on the floor with our St. Bernard and rolled in waves of love and tears and apologies. It was powerful.

Paula:  Yes. It really is. I think it’s interesting because sometimes life gives you those moments. Also, on my own path the birth of my son was very difficult, and I was diagnosed with PTSD. One of the things that I saw was – I’ll make a bizarre Battlestar Galactica reference here – they talk about the only through some things is to roll the hard six, meaning you have to go through it. There is no other route, you have to go right through it.

I think sometimes life gives us those. I can kind of see Seana’s departure of this Earth being maybe an example of a hard six for you. There was no other way through that thing. Grief is often that way. It’s also through that that the lesson becomes so apparent. It’s so hard in the moment, and yet it is the only way and it’s also the way that you learn so much.

Barron:  It gets a lot easier to roll that hard six when you realize that it’s not the universe giving you this, that you are the one that’s giving you this. Literally, that’s what I got. Seana and I planned all of this.

When I really got to the space of taking responsibility and accepting and loving the idea that every single thing in my life – of course this is what yoga teaches, but boy it’s hard to get to that point – is simply a reflection of my own self, it makes rolling that six so much easier because you begin to wonder, “Why would I do this to myself? Why would I give myself this?” But that’s the question that opens the door. That’s like the unaskable question in that instance.

As soon as that unaskable question gets asked just a little bit, wow, suddenly new perspective and fresh life can come, and you will roll that six.

Paula:  Yes. I fully agree. You begin to observe the thoughts of why does this seem impossible, or hard, or confusing. You’re right, it’s just the perspective, completely. Once you know I’ve got this and I can do it, it’s all my thoughts that are making this hard.

Barron:  That’s why your podcast is so important. I’m going to say this again. I mean it honestly. I really do mean it. Through yoga I’ve learned, and I say this in lesson one or two that I give for free on The Yoga Mindset, the most basic way that life works is that whatever thought we’re thinking in each moment is what we are experiencing in that moment, until the next thought comes along, and then we’re experiencing that thought as true. This is how we make our way through life.

What we have to get through, which is why meditation is so important, is understanding that these thoughts are literally describing our life to us like an announcer at a ballgame and telling us how to feel and what to think. The only way to get past them is to hear new words and thoughts.

What’s a podcast, Paula?

Paula:  Words and thoughts spoken out loud.

Barron:  There we go. So, I mean with my whole heart.

Paula:  Thank you.

Barron:  That is the benefit of something like this. It is why I listen to my lessons every day for 20+ years, because I understand the inherent power of thought and how it literally determines my experience of my life and who I think I am.

Paula:  That is powerful. Thank you.

Barron:  You’re welcome. Thank you.

Paula:  If someone is listening and they would like to find your book, where is the best place to get that?

Barron:  Of course, it’s on Amazon. But many of Seana’s colleagues and friends don’t like Amazon, so on my website at BarronSteffan.com I have the book in many different alternative websites in addition to Amazon where you could buy the book, the ebook, or the audio book, which I recorded which was a trip in itself. You can buy it from a local bookstore and that kind of thing.

Paula:  Wonderful. I will link up to your site. If somebody wants to listen to your free class, where can we find that?

Barron:  There’s a link to TheYogaofMindset.com on BarronSteffan.com. They’re there for free, the audio is free, the PDFs are free. The lessons are about six to eight pages long, but at the request of a mother I made a two page version of each one, too, for her 10 and 11 year olds, so they could have it around the house and just talk about it. They’re free, so you don’t even need me. You don’t, but I’m there if you want to ask me questions.

Paula:  Very cool. I love that it’s accessible for everybody. That is lovely. Thank you for this. I have one last question before we wrap. First, I guess I should ask is there anything that you would like to add that you feel like we haven’t touched on?

Barron:  I’m just amazed at all the places we’ve gone in this conversation.

Paula:  Me too. It’s been a real treat. The thing that I like to ask everyone before we end is what are three ways that you can think of to jumpstart joy in your life, in the world, or in other people’s lives?

Barron:  I’ll just stick with me since I get that I’m my biggest work, I am my own sculpture. I would say for me it’s deepening moment by moment my practice and devotion to taking responsibility for every thought and feeling I have, for never blaming anyone or anything in the outside world for causing me to feel anything, because there is no one that can make me feel anything except me. I don’t expect everyone to get that, but having done what I’ve done for so long it’s where I focus now is taking full responsibility.

Number two is number one. Number three is to let everyone have their own experience of life, to have great empathy and compassion for everyone, because life takes such courage and it’s such hard work. Seana taught me above all it’s not our differences that divide us but our judgments of them that do. I take to heart Seana’s words. I choose love and acceptance.

Paula:  Thank you so much. It has been such an honor to have you on the show.

Barron:  Thank you, Paula. What a great pleasure. I wish you and your listeners well.

Paula:  Thank you so much.