Russell Simmons: “Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple” | Talks at Google

Russell Simmons: “Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple” | Talks at Google


CHRIS MORROW: Well, thank you. Thank you for having us. We thought we’d actually start
with a couple questions for you guys, and then we’ll get
into our rap a little bit. Just with a show of
hands, we’re curious, how many people here might
consider themselves meditators? OK. How about, how many people
have tried it, but thought it quote unquote
“just didn’t work,” or they weren’t good at it? OK. And it’s all right to be
honest, how many people are skeptical that it
works, haven’t tried it? All right, so not a lot
of skeptics going here. RUSSELL SIMMONS: They
all read and shit. These are smart people. The research is crystal clear. So it does work, obviously. CHRIS MORROW: It does work. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Yeah. I mean, well that’s what the
neuroscientists are saying, right? Everybody’s saying that. And they say the
greatest gateway to happiness, right, meditation. You hear it, and you hear it
enough, you kind of believe it. But if you have faith
in something, you do it. Right? You have total faith,
absolute faith, you do it. If it makes you
happy, you do it. Meditation makes you happy,
that’s what they say, that’s what the research says. Meditation gives you
greater brain functionality. You people work at Google,
you’re all brainiacs, right? Greater brain functionality,
greater memory, calm nervous system, get
rid of your ADD, lower your blood pressure,
all that stuff. You know all that, because
you’re sitting here. You probably studied it
quick, like the quick studies that you are. So you already know
what meditation is for, and what they say it does,
and you kind of believe it because the proof
is everywhere now. CHRIS MORROW: Well let’s
rewind it for one second, because when we asked if some
people had tried it and thought didn’t work, a lot of people– RUSSELL SIMMONS: But the
skeptics, no one would say– CHRIS MORROW: No one’s
a skeptic, all right. But the people who said
they tried it, and it quote “didn’t work?” RUSSELL SIMMONS: We’re going
to teach them, that’s easy. CHRIS MORROW: Well
let’s address that. Is it possible to
do meditation wrong, or is everyone doing it right? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Well, yeah,
wrong if you don’t– the one thing you everyone has to have
in order to be a meditator is patience. You have to have
a bit of patience. You know, my name is
Rush, so I can meditate. And my kids, they
didn’t want to meditate, and their mother said,
sit your [INAUDIBLE]. They became meditators,
they said, don’t move, you know, and you sit there. And the mind’s
crazy, like a monkey. It bounces around in the head. It’s like, go to
the refrigerator, get something to eat, hit
her before she breaks out, she’s gonna leave,
get her this morning. All kinds of stuff. And you’re sitting
there, and your mind’s telling you, stop, stop. And you’re saying, I can’t
stop until the alarm goes off. I can’t. The alarm goes off,
so you can scratch, you can do whatever you want,
but you can’t go nowhere. So the mind is bouncing around
like a monkey in a cage, and then it settles, and you
say to yourself, oh shit, I’m meditating. And then it bounces
around some more, and it transcends the
thoughts even more. And as the nervous system calms,
the mind always goes after it. That’s the process. It’s simple, right? The reason that we wrote
this book is to demystify it, meditation. It’s something I’ve been so
passionate about for 20 years, and I want people to do it. I want kids in schools to do
it, I want adults to do it. I want the world to
become a better place. And if I could get
more people to do it, then I would lift the
vibration of the planet just a little bit,
and I’d really have contributed something
besides entertainment. Really contribute to the
happiness of the planet, or to the planet’s ability
to get along with each other or love each other. And so that’s why this
book is so important to me, and I really have done a
lot of work [INAUDIBLE]. Chris, you’re watching me. You’re kind of surprised, right? CHRIS MORROW: What
am I surprised about? RUSSELL SIMMONS: That I’m
busting my ass, I’m everywhere. CHRISMORROW:Oh no, he’s
working for this, it’s true. RUSSELL SIMMONS: I mean, I
give the money to charity for my books, I don’t
make any money on them. I’ve been working, the book’s
been on the best seller list, like seven weeks. I’ve been consistently working,
and it’s going to continue. I want to put it in
schools in Chicago, where the most violence is. I want people to watch
the reduction in violence, and see the schools’
vibrations change. I want to see that happen
with people watching, not like the schools
we have all the country where it’s going on, where
the research is clear. But I want everybody to
watch us do it in Chicago, because I want to make
it happen everywhere. That’s just a big ambition, and
so that’s why I keep pushing. CHRIS MORROW:
Well, let’s take it back a little bit for the people
who haven’t read the book yet. Talk a little bit about– RUSSELLSIMMONS: No
one’s read the book. CHRIS MORROW: Or for everyone
who hasn’t read the book yet, talk about your own
journey to meditation. What led you there? RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Well, I went to yoga a little over 20 years
ago, because there was no guys there, just girls. All just beautiful girls. They didn’t have
Lululemon see-through, no shit like that, just shorts. You know? And I went to yoga, and there
was a gay guy or two there, but no guys, you know. So anyway, I went to class. And when I came out,
I was high as hell. I was like, oh shit,
if I keep doing this, I’m not going to
make any more money, because– little bit of freedom. And I used to think that–
the neurotic kind of person I was, the noise that was always
in my head, the rethinking and rethinking,
and the insomnia, and the things that
I was afflicted– that those things were part
of the formula for success. That working,
overworking, overthinking, was part of the process. And so I came out, I
was a little worried, because for a moment there was
a little freedom from that. And I learned since then
that the seconds of stillness are the only time you can ever
make an informed decision, be creative, or ever, never happy
in the future or the past. So the fluctuations
of the mind are the cause of
suffering and sadness, and the stillness of the
mind causes happiness. You know, every prophet has
said it in every language, and it’s promoted throughout
all religious dialogue, always. But we have not embraced it. And now all the
doctors are saying it, and they have all this proof,
and so we should embrace this. This idea of quieting
the mind, consciously working to quiet the mind. Everything that we do, really,
is geared towards this. Everything we do– take
drugs, dumb the mind down, get the noise out. So it’s cloudiness or
clarity, are the two choices. CHRIS MORROW: But haven’t you
always been looking for that, even before you understood
what meditation was? RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Before I took drugs? CHRIS MORROW: Well,
yeah, because I remember there’s a famous story
that Rick Rubin tells– RUSSELL SIMMONS: I started
taking drugs very early. CHRIS MORROW: Yeah. But from that era– RUSSELL SIMMONS: I took
drugs really early. Before that, I didn’t
think about it much. Did I misunderstand
the question? CHRIS MORROW: I didn’t
even get the question out. But I mean, what I’m saying is,
he tells a story about– this is probably like early
’85 or mid ’80s whatever, living in NYU dorm rooms. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Are you on the
[? past ?] steam room story? CHRIS MORROW: Yeah,
the steam room story. RUSSELL SIMMONS: We all
do– I mean everything– CHRIS MORROW: Do you guys
know the steam room story? RUSSELL SIMMONS: No,
they don’t [INAUDIBLE]. Everything is geared
towards quieting the mind. We don’t realize
it, we make the mind go crazy while trying
to quiet the mind. We want the mind to be
still, because that sunset– the basketball players,
we want to be in the zone. You want to see the ball
coming, catch it with this hand, put it around here,
and hand it to your man so he can dunk the ball. Right? That’s what we
want to do, right? Ball players, and they
want to see it coming. When the mind is fluctuating,
you can’t even catch the ball. But when the mind is still,
the rim is as big as this room, you can’t miss. That expansive mindset is
what we’re all looking for. In a car accident,
everything’s moving slow, because you’ve carved out the
past and future, everything’s oh shit. That’s the way the
world is really moving all the time, that slow. It’s the fluctuation of
your mind keeping you from seeing all the
miracles as they unfold. All the stuff given to
you, all this beauty, you don’t see any
of it because you’ve got the noise in the mind. We want to quiet the mind. And when we quiet the
mind, we see it all. You’ve read this stuff–
because you’re all smart people, you’ve read– it’s true. And having faith in it
gives us more opportunity to move towards it. That means you have the
tools available to you– you have meditation, you
have do-good karmic work, all the shit. All this stuff goes together,
but the meditation– of all the tools, of all
the eight parts of yoga, of all the religious teachings. Of all the things that are
meant to quiet the mind to give you this consciousness,
this heaven on earth, no tool is greater
than quiet time. Because in here,
is where it all is. CHRIS MORROW: All
right, but there are a lot of different
types of meditation. The type that we talk
about in the book is mantra based meditation. What brought you specifically
to that style, or that approach? Or did you to try
other ones first? How did you settle on mantra? RUSSELL SIMMONS: I think
I’ve tried a lot since, but I mean I started
out, my first teachers taught me to let go. It’s good, it’s a good mantra. It’s a mantra based meditation. And then they taught
me candle gazing. That’s good. They taught me
concentrating on a thing. On a thing that won’t move. You ever been in
the water in a pool, and you’re just chilling right? You want the water
just to like– and you’re just chilling,
that’s meditation. You just feel the fluctuation. So concentration is a
good tool for meditation. Single pointed
focus– read a book, and you forget to
breathe– that’s still. That’s why when you like to
do your work– you make music, my god you make music,
and in between one snare drum and the other like
is a lifetime, the melody it’s beautiful, it sucks
you all the way in. So we want to be fully
engaged in life, fully engaged in its beauty, and meditation
is the greatest tool that I’m aware of. This is why I want to
give the world this tool. CHRIS MORROW: Let’s talk
a little bit about what trips the people up
who do try, it and feel like they weren’t
doing it right. Because I know
that when you first started talking to
me about meditation, I’d be over at your
house, and you’d be like, let’s meditate for 20 minutes. And I would sit there, and
I’d go through the motions, and I’d have my eyes closed,
and I’d have the right posture– but in my mind I kept
thinking, this isn’t working, I’m faking this. It isn’t happening,
and the reason– RUSSELL SIMMONS:
People expect to– CHRIS MORROW: Well
that’s the question. RUSSELLSIMMONS: I’m
going to answer it. CHRIS MORROW: OK. RUSSELL SIMMONS: I know you. CHRIS MORROW: For
everybody else’s benefit. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Will
you ask the question? CHRIS MORROW: For me, at least– RUSSELL SIMMONS: I’ve been
working with this guy a lot of years. [INTERPOSING VOICES] CHRIS MORROW: So
I kept thinking, my mind isn’t turning off. I’m still having thoughts. I’m thinking about the fact
that I’m not meditating. I’m thinking about
the fact that– RUSSELL SIMMONS:
You know I’m going to include that in
my answer, right? CHRIS MORROW: OK. So the question is, for someone
who feels like their mind just can’t turn off, why
is that something that they shouldn’t
let trip them up? And do you even
ever get past that, or is that just
part of the process? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Like
I said, the mind’s like a monkey bouncing
around a cage. You’ll have seconds of
stillness, and maybe not. But calming your nervous
system and rebooting the mind, it’s just like working out. You do a push-up, you might not
get a muscle after one push-up, but it’s good that you did it. You kind of feel all
up in your chest, you feel like a muscle man. You do 10 push-ups, shit,
and the guys looking at you like, you’re the
same motherfucker. You haven’t changed a bit. But you feel like you– So it’s how meditation is, you
know, the mind needs to settle, needs to rest. In your sleep, your
mind’s going crazy. Your mind’s doing all kinds of
shit while you sleep, mostly. But when you meditate,
it’s calming some. Some days more than others. Every day your
meditation is different. Never the same, always
infinitely different. But you have to sit and
let your brain settle, let it rest, reboot. So people expecting
something from meditation, not going to work. You will see results– if
you meditate regularly, you will see dramatic
results and changes in your relationship
with the world. Changes in the way that you eat
food, you’ll be more mindful. The scanners will show more
gray matter on the brain within six weeks of
constant meditation. The left side of the brain and
the right side of the brain will start to reconnect–
it starts disconnecting at eight years old, it
starts to reconnect. You want that, right? Your brain functionality
will be improved. You don’t have to look for that,
that’s just going to happen. So in the short term,
maybe just rest. The rest and perfection
a little bit, the idea of operating
from a calm space. We want the end result, right? Imagine just sitting in a
calm space, needing nothing. This idea of needing nothing,
that’s what meditation is. OK, watching your
thoughts come and go. In the world, being
thoughtful in your choices, not worried about results,
being present, awake, and thoughtful in
your work, focused. The work is the prayer,
after all there’s no payment. They can’t give you shit. In life you want a
comfortable seat, that’s all you really want. If you can have a
comfortable seat in life, then that is the goal,
that’s happiness. You’re here to be happy. And from that
comfortable seat you operate from what they refer
to as operating in abundance. So that’s really purpose. And then from there you
become this great servant, because when you take care of
this you become a good servant. And good givers
are great getters, so the toys come, and the
cycle of giving and getting speeds up, even
though you slow down. So that’s kind of the rationale. It’s why I always put
success in the books. You know, I called my book
“Super Rich” before this, and everybody bought
the book and said, how can I– there’s
no [INAUDIBLE]. The first chapter, the
state of needing nothing, they say, well, I’m going
to throw this shit away. But as you listen,
it’s a prosperity book. The state of needing
nothing– needing nothing attracts everything. When you go to work
needing nothing, and you just do your
job, forget results– it’s really important,
it’s really– it’s a thing. You get happy from
doing the work. Making the song is the fun part. Listening to the song and making
the song, that’s the fun part. If you’re a record producer,
you remember making the record, you don’t remember the check. You get the car, you drive
the car around the block, park the motherfucker, and say,
damn, $400,000 for nothing. It doesn’t mean anything,
the toys, the results. All of us have to let
go of the needy thing, because that is like
this much happiness, so quick to come and
go, it’s nothing. But the state of consistent
bliss from a calm mind. I know you know all this. I’m repeating– there’s
nothing in my book new, and nothing I would
tell you that’s new, but it’s just
remember to remember. You know, why we’re here,
and what our purpose is, and what makes us good servants. Prosperity is the result. CHRIS MORROW: Let’s bring
it back to the success thing though. RUSSELL SIMMONS: It
always comes back to that. CHRIS MORROW: It always comes
back to the success thing. We’re speaking at Google,
a lot of, like you said, smart, ambitious people
focused on their careers. So specifically for
you, as an entrepreneur, as a business person
who’s juggling– I can attest to– a lot of
different things at one time. How has meditation helped you? How has it sharpened you? RUSSELL SIMMONS: I can
say that I actually, look– every day I meditate
twice, that’s 40 minutes. I go to class, that’s
an hour and a half. CHRIS MORROW: Yoga class? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Yoga. Every day, physical practice. I don’t give a shit
what city I’m in, I find a hot yoga room or a
nice vinyasa practice, and I go. Every single day. So that’s a lot of
time out of my day. I think I do twice as
much in half the time. I think, especially as a
person who– and all of us all are– people who
have to make decisions, thoughtful, smart decisions. Get a little distance. And when you meditate, the
first thing that happens is all the thoughts come
racing into your mind. And you take inventory. And you see them for
what they are, as opposed to every thought giving
you an emotional reaction. CHRIS MORROW: Now you’ve
talked about that’s when some of your
best business ideas have actually come to you,
is that first initial stage of meditation. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Yeah. In the first part, in
the first instance, it really is usually
a lot of noise. Very seldom I sit down
and say, ah, gone. No, I sit and it’s
like– should I just– thoughts– I was
going to say a bad– but the thoughts come, and
you watch them differently. You watch them. And what you want to be in
life is why we meditate. We want to live in
moving meditation. Want to be a meditative person. So in life, you want
to be the watcher. The watcher is
the greatest doer, because the watcher’s
watching and, oh, let me just move this button. And everybody’s like, oh
shit, you see what he did? The watcher. You know, the brain, you know,
a little piece of your brain when you meditate. I always think of
the basketball thing, because I’ve had it many times. And I’m not that good,
in fact, I’m old. CHRIS MORROW: I
was about to say. RUSSELL SIMMONS: I don’t know
why you were going to say. CHRIS MORROW: Anyway. RUSSELL SIMMONS: But
I’m much older now, I don’t play
basketball that often, and certainly not– I don’t have
young guys putting their knee in my chest while
they stuff the ball, that shit’s not
happening anymore. But there’s moments
of when you’re really doing your thing, because–
He keeps like shaking his head like, yeah
I’m nice, I’m nice. Are you a basketball player? But the idea of being
awake, fully awake. You know runners, you get
there, everything moves slow. You say, oh shit,
I’m not even tired. I’ve been running for 300
miles, I’m not even, ah, awake. We don’t know how to
induce this state. We can’t as a basketball
player run out on the court and say, I’m gonna get in the
zone, I ain’t gonna miss shit. I’m gonna shoot 12
points in two seconds, like Reggie Miller in 1912. When did Reggie–
you remember that? CHRIS MORROW: ’93. RUSSELL SIMMONS: ’93? Thank you. He shot everybody’s eyes out. Why? Because he couldn’t miss. It was impossible. CHRIS MORROW: So if you
owned the Brooklyn Nets? RUSSELL SIMMONS: The
brain has that capacity when you’re awake. If I what? CHRIS MORROW: I was saying, if
you owned the Brooklyn Nets, would you make meditation part– RUSSELL SIMMONS: Of course. Phil Jackson did that for
his Lakers, but of course. I don’t own anything, and
I want people to meditate. CHRIS MORROW: But do
you– you don’t actually– RUSSELL SIMMONS: I
gave Oprah a teacher, she made her staff meditate. I gave Ellen a teacher, she
made her staff meditate. Everybody I’ve given
a good teacher, and they learned to meditate,
they gave it to their staff, because it’s important. And once you experience
it, you want it, too. That’s why Rahm Emanuel’s got to
sit, never mind just giving him this idea, and the
chancellor in Chicago have to sit, that way they
can give it to all the kids. Should we get questions
from these guys? CHRIS MORROW: Well, I thought
before we opened it up to questions,
maybe what would be helpful is to
actually– all right, let’s say someone sits here
today, they listen to this, they grab the
book, they read up, they decide they
actually want to do it. Can we walk them through the
actual steps of how to do it? RUSSELL SIMMONS: We’re going
to meditate at the end. CHRIS MORROW: We’ll actually
meditate at the end, but I want to
like– oh, you want to take some questions now? RUSSELL SIMMONS: I’ll teach
them when I teach them. I’ll teach them
when they meditate. CHRIS MORROW: So we’ll take
some questions from them. RUSSELL SIMMONS: You’re going to
meditate with us for a minute? You got a few minutes to
meditate at the end, right? You’re not going to leave,
oh shit, now they’re going to meditate,
I’ve got to go. I mean, why did I sit here
through the whole thing if I don’t learn
to meditate, right? She’s like, let me out now. It’s like watching paint
dry, but I promise you you’re going to like it. All right? All right, let’s
go to questions. And there are going to be
like, no questions, right? AUDIENCE: Hi, thanks for
speaking, first of all. You mentioned at the beginning,
you wanted to bring meditation to the schools in
Chicago, and I was curious if you had, kind of,
what work you were doing there, if you were doing any at all. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Very little. AUDIENCE: What plan you had. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Very little. I write blogs about there. I have peacekeeper
programs in 25 cities that I work with people on,
and I have especially the three in Queens. You know, because kids are
so violent, communities– we don’t talk about it. One hot weekend, 60 kids
could get shot in Chicago, and you won’t even
read about them. More kids got killed in a
20 block radius in Chicago, than at the height
of the Iraqi war. You don’t talk about
it, no one gives a shit. So I want to go there–
and they do care, CNN did a series of specials,
there’s some discussion– but there’s no solution. But Quiet Time is a
part of a solution, or it might be even
a greater solution than people could imagine. It certainly is in other
cities where we’ve had success. CHRIS MORROW: And the David
Lynch Foundation is doing it. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
I’m going to do it with the David Lynch
Foundation, yeah. CHRIS MORROW: They are
doing a lot in that regard. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Lots of
cities, lots of schools. AUDIENCE: Thank you. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
I’m on the board. We really do do
a lot in schools. AUDIENCE: Thank
you for being here. I have a question. So how has your approach
to business and to life changed since you
started meditating? You mentioned some things
about, like maybe you were partying before, but
I’m more interested in how your business decisions, how
you treat people, and in general what impact it had on
you and your businesses? RUSSELL SIMMONS: I
like to think that I’m a more compassionate person. I think I may be easier to
work for, but maybe not. You know, because I want people
to be good at what they do, and I think the
way that I motivate them is different from yelling. I used to yell. What the fuck is wrong with you? Why did you? You know. I don’t ever do that any more. I really don’t have
any experiences lately that I can think
of that I was yelling, well fuck you, then bam. I used to do it all the time. So I think that my
relationship with my executives is different, and with
my business associates is different, and I think
I’m a lot more productive. I’m running a lot of stuff
now, three digital companies, a fashion company, a financial
service company, a music company– there’s
more– four charities, so I’m running a
lot of stuff now. And I feel like I can do more. And also, I sleep at night. Sleep. I was an insomniac,
now I sleep well. I do better. My personal relationships,
I think, have improved. I think I’m much better. AUDIENCE: Thank you. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Thank you. AUDIENCE: So I
was just wondering if you’ve encountered
this, especially in rolling out meditation
to younger people, sometimes my
experience is that when you talk to people
about meditation, or you’re having a
discussion about it, they tend to have this
almost cartoonish image of, you’re a swami on
the Ganges in India, you know, and you’re meditating. RUSSELL SIMMONS: I’m a Swami? AUDIENCE: No, the person
that you’re talking to. Maybe you are, I don’t know. But I’m just
wondering, particularly in terms of sort of rolling
it out to young people– who tend to be more
skeptical, I would think, of these kinds of
things– how you plan, or if you’ve had
successes overcoming this sort of knee
jerk reaction to it? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Well, I’ve
had lots of experiences where I got people who would
not have meditated to meditate. Ellen DeGeneres, I’m on her
show, I talked her into it, she got the meditation
teacher, she joined the board. Oprah Winfrey, I was on her
show, we talked about it, she took in a meditation
teacher, she taught her staff, she’s not only
joined the board– she’s the queen of
America’s new consciousness. This idea, not
necessarily religious, but the spiritual
awakening that’s happening in some
parts of America, with some people in America,
Oprah is the queen of it. And opened up lots of
people’s minds about it. In the schools that we have in
both, respectively, in Africa, and these people
sit in Quiet Time. So they help to spread the word. And lots of people, I mean even
Puffy– P Diddy, a meditator? So I taught him to meditate. So yeah, people
would not meditate, a lot more of them
are meditating. AUDIENCE: But what about young
people, that was the question. Have you found them
more receptive? RUSSELL SIMMONS: I like to think
of P Diddy as a young person, because that makes
me think I’m young. No, I mean this– no. I go to schools sometimes, and
work with principals and people like– I’ve been in
schools like, lots of them, but I’m thinking in particular
about Dr. Rutherford’s school in Washington, DC, in the hood,
where they were so violent. And he’s just turned the school
around– the middle school and the high school
around dramatically– through Quiet Time. He’s a Maharishi, a real
transcendental meditation guy, he taught them all, they
all have their own mantra. He did the work,
and the school has a dramatic shift in everything. Graduation rates, the scholastic
improvement is dramatic, the reduction in violence
is dramatic, everything. Complete turnaround. I think I relate to
kids a little better than some of the people. I’m not ideal, it’s
not like I’m Drake . You know what I mean? But I can talk to Drake. Drake would pick the phone up
if I call him, which is good. Justin Bieber sent
me a tweet that said, Uncle Rush,
teach me to meditate. Sent me a tweet. I was like, retweet
that shit, retweet that. We’ll sell some books. Rita Ora, the it girl. My daughter is in love with
this new singer, Rita Ora. You guys all know
who she is, right? In love with her. She tweeted out that she’s
really enjoying my book. It’s big deal, because
my daughter’s 14, and Rita Ora just
told her that she’s enjoying my book on meditation. And then Khloe
Kardashian tweeted out, my Sunday afternoon–
I asked her to, but then she read it, and
called me, and said I loved it. Because she has eight
million Instagram followers– and I don’t know how many, she
must have 20 million Twitter followers– and she
Instagramed and tweeted it out. That’s how I made the best
seller list, Khloe Kardashian. So that kind of support system,
changing young people’s minds about it, that’s the process. And they need it. They’re the ones
with the anxiety, they’re the ones who are worried
that they’re not good enough. Never mind that half
of you are like, oh my god, you wake up
nervous, anxiety, over nothing. And meditation teaches
us it’s nothing, really. Right? [INAUDIBLE] AUDIENCE: You mentioned
earlier that major thinkers and philosophers throughout
time have said over and over, in various different
ways, that stillness is the link to happiness. And that every religion
has said in its own way. And I was wondering,
in your experience, if you had any
religious background that either contributed to
your involvement in meditation, or how it might
have played into it? RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Well, I told you, I think, it was because
of chicks in class. That was 20 years ago. I like to say it because
it’s stupid, people laugh. It’s not that
stupid, [INAUDIBLE]. My brother’s a
preacher, he’s a kind of non-conventional preacher. My father and mother
are Christians. I fainted, I was like
12, or something– I don’t know why, I
never fainted again for the rest of my life–
I fainted at the bus stop, coming home from church. They never made me go again. Like I don’t know, I
could have staged it, but I didn’t, it just happened. And they came and got me,
and said, what happened? You fell down. You were out for two seconds. We took you to the doctor. All right, OK. Mom picked me up from
the doctor, that was it, I never had to go
to church again. Now I go to churches to
speak about meditation, or about spiritual matters. But I do read all the
propaganda associated with yoga. The Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad
Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Textbook of Yoga
Psychology, you know, all the Yogananda stuff,
I’ve read all that stuff. I like that, because
it’s non-religious– until you get to some
of the deity stuff, and that relates to Hindu
stuff– but before that, the Yoga Sutras is only a
science book for happiness. The core– 6,000 years ago this
Yoga Sutras– and you read it, and it’s like, so relevant. It’s like 194 threads– a
sutra is a thread– So the Yoga Sutras. And yoga is– the
second sutra is [SPEAKING SANSKRIT] in Sanskrit. It means, yoga is a cessation
of the fluctuation of the mind. Or God Consciousness comes
when the mind is still. And that’s beautiful, that’s it. We all know we– you know
you came out of the ocean, and you grew a lung,
and you stood up– you know that, right? That Adam and Eve shit is
hard to digest [INAUDIBLE]. So you know that you came out
of the ocean, you grew a lung, we believe that, some of us. And I like what
Krishna said, and what yogis have said about union. If God were the ocean,
we would be a cup of God. Why do I believe that now? Because quantum physicists are
starting to believe it too. Right? That we’re all connected–
all the animals we abuse, all the
planet we fuck up, all this shit we’re with–
that’s us we’re fucking with, us. We’re all connected. So that’s a spiritual– but
in the basis of a lot of what the prophets said too, although
it’s not what we teach, it’s separation to me. I’m not knocking religion, but
it’s kind of separate in cases, and you have to double
check what they tell you. All right? The imams, rabbis, preachers,
they might say some shit, might put some
people [INAUDIBLE], they might do anything. They do horrible stuff,
religious leaders. So I kind of shy
away from all that, even though I’m the chairman
of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and I
have imams and rabbis in 40 countries exchanging
pulpits and working together. Including, in Israel
we have 20 programs, so it’s a real–
I really believe in religion as a way
of helping people, but I don’t personally
subscribe to any. CHRIS MORROW: Well
how about this though, I had an incident–
and this kind of ties into your question– on
Easter Sunday, where my aunt– who’s a born again Christian,
and very serious about that– came up to me, and took
me aside, and said, she’d read the book– and I
could tell she was a little nervous– and she was concerned
that meditation would interfere with, or kind of– RUSSELL SIMMONS: Thinking
for yourself is a problem. CHRIS MORROW: Well, hey. Anti-prayer, I think,
was the term she used. It would somehow
affect her prayer. [MUSIC PLAYING] CHRIS MORROW: That’s you? That “C.R.E.A.M.”? RUSSELL SIMMONS:
That’s “C.R.E.A.M.” CHRIS MORROW: All right. RUSSELL SIMMONS: [INAUDIBLE]
You like that, Wu Tang Clan? Yeah, you know, the Buddha
said check for yourself. Right? Check for yourself. Double check what they tell you. Turn this thing off, I just
want it to stop ringing. CHRIS MORROW: I don’t know if
that answered your question. RUSSELL SIMMONS: I
think I did, right? AUDIENCE: Yeah. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Did I
answer the question, or no? AUDIENCE: Absolutely. RUSSELL SIMMONS: You
asked me about religion. I don’t personally
give a fuck, but I believe it’s good for people. And I have not found a
religion that suits me. Compassion, religiously
practice compassion. And the Buddha guy here,
on the bottom of the OM, the OM is really– and
they just put him here, he doesn’t get in
too many fights. I like him because he
has the least fights. CHRIS MORROW: That’s true. I’m going to take a
question over here. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
There’s no yogis at war. AUDIENCE: So my name’s Keith,
it’s great to have you here. I really appreciate your time. So I’ve got a pretty
simple question. I moved to Manhattan, about a
year ago, from San Francisco. And I feel like any time
you move to this city, you just have this
tendency to want to like, triple your workload. Manhattan is just
moving so quick. And so I did that, and
realized that I was just kind of going stir
crazy, and I needed to sit down and meditate,
for the first time. So I try to work it
into my daily routine. So I was trying to
do it 10 minutes, every morning, before
I walk to work. And I remember the
first three times I did it, like I
thought I was crazy, listening to all the
thoughts in my head, I mean there was just
so much going on, I’d never done this before. But eventually,
I kind of gave it up, because I was trying to
do everything else, you know? RUSSELL SIMMONS: If you
don’t have 20 minutes, you need two hours. AUDIENCE: Yeah, I
mean it was tough. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Did you hear me? AUDIENCE: It was really tough. [INTERPOSING VOICES] RUSSELL SIMMONS: If you
don’t have 20 minutes, you need two hours. AUDIENCE: Yeah. RUSSELL SIMMONS: The thoughts
should bounce around, they should have fun,
and they should settle. And they will
settle for everyone. No one is exempt. Everyone will
meditate if they sit. And patience, don’t
look for anything, don’t expect anything,
and I promise you, there’s no way you
can’t meditate. And if you have more work–
they say oh, Russell, your schedule– like
assistants traveling, we’re going somewhere. So you get up at 6:00 AM, you
go to do these eight radio stations, then you do this
TV, then you have the event, and after the event you have
to go to meet with this person, then you have this meeting,
and then you have that event, and then you have your
yoga at 4:45 to 5:45. It’s only an hour class? Yeah, it’s an hour. OK. Then from 6:00 on, you’re going
to just be doing interviews. Do I have my meditation
and my yoga class? With that, the rest of it’s
a game, I do what I’m told. The idea of the sickness
that comes from, the anxiety that comes
from the schedule– I don’t know where
I’m going next, I just go where they
fucking tell me. I mean, if I have to be
prepared, they prepare me. I just go, I do what I’m told. You don’t have to have
anxiety over your work. Your work is a fun challenge. Work has to be fun. I don’t look forward to seeing
the accountant for an hour, but he’s on the schedule. I’ve got to see his ass
and listen to him talk, and I’ve got to do it. But it’s OK, I don’t have
to get anxiety over it. Going to the studio,
it should be fun. And I do have preferences,
I’d like not to have any, I’d like to be blissful in
all things, and even keeled, but to some degree I’m not. But more often than
I used to be, I am. This is why we
meditate, so we can have an even keeled,
happy disposition. And about doubling
your workload, that should be exciting, as
long as you take your time, go to the gym, whatever you do. What do you do for yourself? Work out? AUDIENCE: Yeah, I
work out a little bit. RUSSELL SIMMONS: But do
you work out like aaaaaah? AUDIENCE: Like that, I mean, I
play some basketball, as well. RUSSELL SIMMONS: So
you get in the zone? AUDIENCE: What’s that? RUSSELL SIMMONS: How dope is it
when you’re like, high as hell, right? When you get real high? AUDIENCE: When I came
here to Manhattan, I was playing on
the courts on the– RUSSELL SIMMONS: No more
time for that now, huh? No time. AUDIENCE: I mean it’s hard,
juggling all this stuff. RUSSELL SIMMONS: You’ve got to
make time to play basketball. AUDIENCE: Where do
you find the time? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Do
you play violently? Do you elbow people,
are you mean? AUDIENCE: I try
not to, it depends. If I get an elbow
in the rib, then– RUSSELL SIMMONS: You
get elbowed in the rib [INTERPOSING VOICES] AUDIENCE: It makes
you a little mad. RUSSELL SIMMONS: But you have
to be happy in your work, and you have to take
care of the Muladhara chakra– the first
chakra– first. Take care of yourself. Meditate, do some work
out, work out your brain, reboot your brain, and promote
circulation in the body. Beyond that, there’s
nothing else. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] RUSSELL SIMMONS: Oh,
don’t eat animals. You eat animals? Wait, do you eat dairy, and egg,
and fish, and shit like that? AUDIENCE: Yeah. I eat steak, chicken,
duck, all that stuff. I just ate some duck last night. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Do you eat steak? You eat steak? Did you guys know
the new steak shit? Did you hear? You heard? That if you eat steak
as 30% of your protein, and that’s what
you do regularly, it’s equal to 20
cigarettes a day. I know. The first day I started
promoting my book was seven weeks ago. I went to Dr. Sanjay, and
I went to a few others, and I went to Fox
and fucking Friends. And “Fox & Friends,” they were
discussing this new research. They wouldn’t say it
if it wasn’t true. Not them. That’s how much
cancer you’re putting in– 20 cigarettes a day? I firmly believe that
the worst karmic disaster in the history of the
world is the abuse of 40 billion animals, made
to be born into suffering. They fart– the greatest
cause of global warming, times twice all the planes,
trains, and automobiles. Then they give you cancer. They take all the oil, the
water, the grain, everything. They make you sick. This is why we
meditate, so we can choose whether we
want to participate in that karmic disaster, or not. We don’t want to be sheep. Want to check our
temperature, what do we think about
the abuse of animals, dominion over the animals. How can you say dominion over
the animals, and then do that? It’s so hurtful. So that’s why we have to
meditate, because society, sometimes we go
on a wrong course. Whole societies,
whole communities, just say, oh let’s genocide, or
we don’t like their religion, let’s kill them,
put them in an oven. Horrible, horrible stuff. So you have to
decide for yourself what you want to
participate in, and that’s why we meditate also,
because then when you have the thoughts
settle you say, naw, I don’t want to do that shit. They can have that. Or maybe I’ll speak
up against it. Maybe I’ll use my voice. AUDIENCE: So, not to take up
too much time on my question– RUSSELL SIMMONS: I know I
didn’t answer your question, I just went on a tangent. AUDIENCE: How do you
find time for this? I mean you’re a super busy guy. You say that it’s on
your calendar but– RUSSELL SIMMONS:
It’s on my calendar. AUDIENCE: I feel
like it’s something you need to do every single day. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Every day’s different. I have a lot of
businesses, it’s true, and I have a lot
of smart people. Everybody around me
is smarter than me. Everybody. So that’s key, I think, in my
position you need smart people. Unless you’re smart. Especially smart, I
mean, like really. AUDIENCE: All right, thank you. AUDIENCE: I think she was first. CHRIS MORROW: OK. RUSSELL SIMMONS: OK. AUDIENCE: Hi, my name is
Andrea, thank you for coming. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
What’s your name? AUDIENCE: Andrea. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Hi, Andrea. AUDIENCE: Hi. I was just interested
more in this idea– RUSSELL SIMMONS: Do you
have a diamond in your eye? AUDIENCE: Yeah? No, it’s an eyebrow ring. In this idea of
religion, and dealing with people who may be
resistant to meditation or yoga, I’m interested in how would you
persuade someone who may not be interested, for perhaps,
a religious reason. For example, I teach
yoga, and I have a sister who is very religious. RUSSELL SIMMONS: You teach yoga? AUDIENCE: I do. And similar to the story
you mentioned earlier, she’s very resistant,
I think she’d be someone who could
benefit from meditation, but I don’t really know
how to approach her, because I know her
views really influence the way that she thinks. So what would you say
to someone like that? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Well first
of all, be still and know, is in her scripture, right? It’s quiet. There’s no deities in silence,
it’s just being quiet. You can give her a
vibration, or you could just tell her to sit and say let. Inhale let, exhale go. Let go. It’s not against your religion. If there is a piece
of God inside, you maybe can dig
deep– and don’t say it if it scares them– but
the idea that there’s the piece of God inside you,
and if you sit closer to God, it should strengthen your faith. It should, could,
strengthen your faith. And regarding the yoga,
a lot of Christian yogis, and Muslim yogis, and
other religious yogis, or yogis who have
faith already separate from what’s in
the Bhagavad Gita. The deities are scary, right? Shiva, Krishna, Lakshmi,
all this rap, you say, wait, who are all
of these people? But they’re just images
of ideas, you know? The goddess of wealth,
you give and you get, the cycle of
giving, you know? So it’s just there for that. But you could leave them out. You don’t have to
use Sanskrit words. Right? Upward dog, you don’t
have to call it. I think it’s easy though. Yoga, we’re just stretching
to promote circulation. And meditation, we’re just
being quiet to reboot our brain. We don’t have to scare
them, and we don’t need to. And I’m having this discussion
with lots of people, because we have what we
call Quiet Time in schools– we don’t use the word
meditation– Quiet Time. And I think that’s all it is. In the end, that’s what it is. That’s what the research is on,
the Quiet Time, not on Krishna. It’s true. You probably have studied
all the scripture, right? As a yoga teacher? AUDIENCE: Thank you. AUDIENCE: My question– RUSSELL SIMMONS: She’s next. AUDIENCE: Thanks. Hi, I’m Meme, thanks for coming. So I feel like a
common thing, when I try to talk about
meditation, the common push back that I get, which I’m not
sure I have a good defense for, is, what if meditation makes
you too complacent in a world where there might not be room? Like sometimes I feel like for
me it’s like, for example– well this is not
meditation related, it’s kind of an analogy–
like in high school I wasn’t very good basketball
player, because I’m like, well you take the
ball this time, I’ll take the ball next time. Whatever happens, happens. Or like in work, for example, or
in a relationship or whatever, if you’re like, OK is
this just me not liking it or just me not getting
along the person? Or is it just a mindset
that I need to shift, or if you lose something? So I guess my question is, how
do you not become too much of, OK well this is
just a part of life, and these emotions
that I feel are just an instantaneous emotion that
will pass by if I let it go? RUSSELL SIMMONS:
I think by being quiet you get in touch with
a strength, not a weakness. I think that’s the point. It’s like, you sit– oh,
they’re chopping up animals, I’m going to go protest. A lot of meditators, you
find they’re activists. They’re not quiet, they’re
more likely to be activists. To go outside the box, to
do what’s in their heart. If they’re basketball
players, they’re more clear. If they go to work every day,
and they’re focused and present in the moment,
they do a good job. The work is a challenge
that we accept. The relationship is a challenge,
we accept it in the present, we do our best. You gotta get the fuck out. You can be strong. You can say, no, it’s
not going to work. Not mean, but you can be strong. Meditation helps you
to find the strength. It doesn’t make you complacent,
that’s a misconception. And I can say that
in all certainty, you’ll feel more in charge,
more confident, more awake. And so it’s not about
being complacent at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. And that’s just my argument. If you can tell me an example
of how you’ve been a meditator and it made you a doormat, or
made you less likely to fulfill your dharma, then
I can speak to it, but I don’t think you
have those examples. If you meditate, you will take
more control of your life, you’re not going
to let go of it. AUDIENCE: Thanks. My question is related
to– first I guess, my name is [INAUDIBLE]. While growing up in
India, I remember my grandparents used to have the
similar things to what you have any hand, beads and with the OM. And we used to collect in
the evening to do meditation, they just called it quiet
time because meditation wasn’t hip with kids. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Good, [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: Kind of along
the way, come here. At that time we thought were
wasting about almost half an hour to an hour. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Is that
what you thought as a child? AUDIENCE: Because everybody
was studying hard, and I didn’t study that much,
but I used to recall more, I used to remember more. Everybody was surprised,
how do you remember things, like, that was taught
six months ago. I have no idea. But now I kind of lost all
that, because the grandparents are gone, since then. RUSSELL SIMMONS: They
stopped making you meditate. AUDIENCE: Yeah, nobody
is making me meditate. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Yeah, my kids, I think the minute they get
from under Kimora’s foot on their throat, that they’re
going to stop meditating. They meditate every day,
and they’re deep meditators. But I think that they’re, oh
Daddy, and their mother’s like, get in there. And they sit, but in the
minutes– that half an hour you wasted– do you know how
long it is you sit there? And everything was going
crazy, and the next thing you know it’s like,
meditation’s over. Or the next thing you
know, you enjoy it. But kids will still resist if
you make them, I make my kids. But I know– they both go
to school for the gifted. My 11-year-old has
been meditating since she was eight, my
14-year-old since she was 10. They’ve been
meditating a long time. When they meditate,
they’re deep meditators, they just disappear quickly. I don’t want to do it– gone. I look over, because sometimes
they could be fidgeting, or they could be like,
Daddy– they’re resisting. I’ll tell your mom– and
they just go back to it. But then they disappear, and
when they open their eyes, you can just see that
they’re so happy, and they start giggling,
and laughing, and happy. And before meditation
they could have just been, Mom, I don’t want to–
then they open their eyes, and they’re happy. And so I don’t know, you
force goodness on people, you say, don’t eat that, don’t
eat that, don’t eat that. Then one day they’re just
going to eat a lot of it. So that could be true. But you, having had
that experience, and having a greater memory,
and greater brain functionality, and a more expansive mindset and
all that, you don’t miss that. You work at Google, you
don’t need your brains. Go back, meditate. Get quiet time. AUDIENCE: And quiet time, that’s
what I was thinking about, on my subway that’s kind of
an hour long commute to home, then my son needs my attention. So adding on to his
question I think, [INAUDIBLE], but I was thinking
like, why doesn’t the subway have screens, where they
just, people say to meditate, or yoga, and then we all in the
subway would start doing that. Because everybody is standing
anyway, just closes their eyes, and then you would
know when the stop has come because it announces now. Have you thought
about putting it– because I can’t do
that in the office, I can’t do that at
home, because I can’t make my two-year-old
stay and sit with me. RUSSELL SIMMONS: There’s
always a place to meditate. Go to the bathroom. Sit on the toilet,
put the alarm on. CHRIS MORROW: I
meditate in my bathroom, I put a pillow on
the toilet, that’s the only place I can get away. Why are you looking
at me like that? RUSSELL SIMMONS:
On the toilet seat? CHRIS MORROW: I mean, I shut it. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
Oh, you shut it. CHRIS MORROW: Yeah. But I meditate on
the subway too. I mean it’s New York, you’ve
got to get it where you get it. RUSSELL SIMMONS: You get the
alarm, you put the alarm on, and you sit. You sit, and no matter
what– the best thing is the alarm, for beginners. You turn the alarm on. A little sunshine ring,
whatever ring you put on there. Who’s that, you waving? Do we have to leave? CHRIS MORROW: No,
she’s saying hi. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Oh, hi. CHRIS MORROW: We should
do one more question, and then we should
teach everybody. RUSSELL SIMMONS: But the idea
is, you put the alarm on, and you sit. AUDIENCE: Is chanting
also a form of meditation? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Chanting is
another form of meditation, of course. Anything that quiets the mind. People chat
themselves into bliss. You know, kirtan, yogis,
they chant, chant. I’ve never been a big chanter. I chant when they tell
me, I do what they say. You know, OM. OK, they do it every class. And they’ll chant a few words,
[FOREIGN LANGUAGE], you know, Hindu prayers. OK, and people do it,
but people really– just like some
people candle gaze. They look at a
candle and they just stare at the fucking
candle, they stare, and they’re just out,
staring at a candle. I’ve done it, it
didn’t really grab me as my form of
meditation, but I’m sure I could learn
to candle gaze or chant more, any of those
things, they all work. AUDIENCE: So I
have a friend who’s gone on these
meditation retreats where you kind of leave for
10 days, and you’re silent, and they have these
people that help you go through this course. And like, 10 days, you don’t
speak, and you meditate. Are there any benefits which you
see to really removing yourself for extended period, versus
the daily– have you done it? RUSSELL SIMMONS: I
know all about it. I’ve heard about it
from countless people who had great experiences. No one’s ever come back from a
10-day silent retreat and said, that sucked. No one. No really, no one’s
ever told me that. They’re always like, oh I went
away, and after a couple days I was like, I was
fucking gone, man. I was higher than the
[INAUDIBLE], and I came back, and I was so relieved. Everybody, same response. And I haven’t taken 10 days
to do it, but I get it. I’m sure there’s benefits,
that’s why people do it. And they get high, and happy,
and it’s good for them. I probably should
do it, I haven’t. OK, now if you want to
get out now, you can. CHRIS MORROW: So
you want to just? Let’s set it up a little bit. RUSSELL SIMMONS: I’m
going to make it short. Seven minutes. CHRIS MORROW: Do we
have time to do– RUSSELL SIMMONS: You
got seven minutes? CHRIS MORROW: Seven
minutes is a long time. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Seven minutes? CHRIS MORROW: You guys
can handle seven minutes? RUSSELL SIMMONS: First of
all, your first experience, you sit at home, you
do what I tell you, you sit for 20
minutes, by yourself. So now we’re all together,
we’ll sit for seven minutes, it’s not hard. CHRIS MORROW: You going
to set your phone? RUSSELL SIMMONS: Yeah. CHRIS MORROW: All
right, but let’s– RUSSELL SIMMONS: I
don’t see why you would say seven
minutes is a long time. Chris, are you keeping
up on your meditation? You write a book with me– CHRIS MORROW: Yeah, I was
up at 6 o’clock this morning doing it. RUSSELL SIMMONS:
All right, well why do you think they can’t sit? Look, she’s like, let
me out of here now. OK, look, here’s
what we’re going to do, I’m going to
give you a mantra, rum. The collective is
going to use rum. We’re all going to use rum, rum. Say rum, rum, rum, rum, rum. AUDIENCE: Rum,
rum, rum, rum, rum. RUSSELL SIMMONS: Say it really
fast, rum rum rum rum rum. Now say it slow, rum. So that’s our mantra, rum. Doesn’t have any meaning,
so don’t think, not alcohol. Not alcohol, it’s just
rum, it’s a vibration. It has no meaning,
but we’re going to concentrate on this word. But we’re not going to
concentrate hard on the word, we’re going to concentrate
lightly on the word, try to keep it in our
sense, in front of us. And we’ll try to focus on
rum, and then the mind’s going to go crazy. It’s going to go into
the– first thing, we’ll do a few tricks
before we start, but that’s going
to be our mantra. But the mind is going to go
somewhere into a thought, and you’re going to think
the thought, if you want. If it’s not worth
it, don’t think it. Think it, think the thought,
understand the thought, digest the thought, and
go back to your mantra. Go back to your mantra,
keep coming back gently to the mantra. You hold the mantra, they
should become at some point, the mantra will be so much more
satisfying than the thoughts. That may not happen today. Nothing may happen today. But if you are not
looking for anything, you will definitely find
great peace, even today. You sit and repeat the mantra
to yourself, and that’s it. Now first thing, we’re going to
do a little breathing exercise. Two fingers. Breath in through
your left side, hold it, breath out
through your right side. Let’s do that 20 times. Go to the right
side now, hold it. Focus on the space between
the breath when you hold it. Inhale all the way,
hold it, release. Now do me a quick
favor before we begin. Close your eyes and think
of everything at one time. Now you all meditated,
because no one had a thought. Right? Everything at once
and no thoughts. So we’re going to sit. Open your eyes and sit. We’re going to sit down and
relax in the most comfortable position that we
can find, and we’re going to start to repeat
our mantra to ourselves. We’re not going to
expect anything, not going to
regulate our breath, just going to repeat the
mantra and rest in perfection for a few minutes. [BEEPING] RUSSELL SIMMONS: Come out of
it, begin to come out of it. Breathe deep. Smile. How was that? All right. It doesn’t cost shit, it’s free. You can do it every day. Thank you so much,
it was a pleasure.