Have you ever had one of those moments when facing reality makes you want to reach for the vodka? If the answer is Yes then you may understand how today’s guest Nate Rifkin felt when a regular morning routine of Energy drinks combined with Vodka was preferable to facing the self-hatred, career failure and loneliness of his life.
His turning point came whilst practising Taoist meditation whilst standing on a street corner in a silly costume. Six years later, Nate is now happily married, a published author and is using his natural talents to develop a successful career.
What Nate Rifkin brings to this show is the clarity and freedom he discovered from facing the truth of his situation and using the path of inner change to empower him to take the small daily steps required to walk the path of outer change.
Misery and Failure
As a child, Nate’s early life and family was not easy. It was a hostile environment and his coping system was to withdraw and shut down emotionally. As a teenager, this was expressed as anger and later depression. It left him with a distrust of people and limited ability to connect or build any meaningful relationships.
Nate thought going to college would change everything and looked forward to the possibility of making friends and meeting girls. Sadly, he discovered he had brought his baggage with him and he was just as lonely as before.
“You ever walk into a party and everyone is talking in closed circles, that how it felt”
He had chosen to study health and fitness, majoring in exercise science with a view to starting a business in the industry. But the reality of studying was more depressing than inspiring, so he dropped out of college.
He had decided that the way forward would be to partner with people who already had the health and fitness knowledge and needed someone (himself) to take care of the business side of things. As his brother was interested in Yoga, this is where the partnership started. Nate became inspired by writing and marketing work and they had a few successes. But the business side was not working and the misses were adding up. Nate began running up credit card debt and rather than facing the problem he took to just ignoring the bills.
Despite goal setting and affirmations, nothing was working. He still hated himself and felt more alone than ever. Gradually he took to finding solace in 4 fingers of morning Vodka topped up with energy drinks.
An Exotic Introduction to Taoism
What he now realizes is that goal setting was never going to work with his mindset and self-image. The point is he hated himself and it went deep and he really did not care.
But by a stroke of good fortune, he met a mentor who was into Daoism. He explained it as a meditation that was developed by ancient monks in caves. This appealed to Nate’s ego…
“That sounds exotic, it’s like some secret knowledge”
Starting with just 1 minute a day it began to change his life. Although to begin with he was just adding it to his morning routine of Vodka and energy drinks. Within weeks found he felt better without the alcohol so he stopped drinking. This was the start of feeling better about himself and having the confidence to face the realities of his life.
However, he still owed money to a lot of people, including $50k to the IRS. The only option was to get a day job, but the search wasn’t easy. Most of what was on offer required skills he didn’t have. But exploring Craigslist he found a job that would enable him to listen to music all day. It seemed like the perfect starting place.
So Nate became a Sign Spinner, dressed in a foam money costume standing on a Colorado street corner. It was rock bottom, but it paid $10/h and at that point, this was more important to him.
His expectation was it would only be a few months, but in the end, he was there for 2 years. It was the lowest he could go, but surprisingly it was also the turning point for Nate. While standing on the street with plenty of time to think. So he took his simple Taoist meditation and turned it into a standing meditation. This grounding gave him the capacity to sort out his inner life. What’s more, he began to appreciate people, feeling good about them and being Zen with everything around him shifted his mindset.
All He Ever Wanted
The natural progression of sorting out his inner life led him to take steps to change the reality of his outer life. The decision was to file for bankruptcy to clear the debts, he discovered it wasn’t as bad as he expected.
He also became more open-minded to the possibility of something different. He realised that it had always been writing that held the greatest interest and passion for him.
Six years on Nate is now married, has written a book about his experience and Taoist meditation. Its called “ The Standing Meditation” and has started his training for the Taoist priesthood.
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