Transcript: Thanks Allen. This is David Brower with Your 20 Minute Podcast. Our special guest is Jake Eagle from the big island in Hawaii. He is a licensed psychotherapist, in private practice for 25 years. He’s a game-changer and expert in consciousness reassignment, developing a healthy ego, relationships, dating authenticity. And he and his wife, Hannah, have created books, online courses, retreats, and programs. And what a thrill to talk to you Jake. Aloha.
Jake Eagle: Aloha. Nice to hear you, David.
David Brower: You as well. So, you’ve been doing this for a while, and it sounds like you went from psychotherapy private practice to let’s go explore the rest of the world and see what’s out there?
Jake Eagle: Yeah, we did that both geographically and also in terms of the way I work with people, that’s changed, as well as where we live has changed.
David Brower: Nice. Because you were in Santa Fe, right?
Jake Eagle: We were in Santa Fe for 25 years. Both my wife and I were in private practice there, and then we lead these retreats, different locations around the world, and two years ago we came here to the big island of Hawaii and we just fell in love with it. And we both felt 20 years younger and we said, “Why are we living this way?” And so a year and a half later, here we are.
David Brower: 20 years younger, I’ll have what you’re having.
Jake Eagle: Yeah.
David Brower: Have you repackaged that so you can use that in a retreat.
Jake Eagle: In a funny way we have. Or that’s what we’re in the process of doing. I think that I look back now and I realize that although I feel good about the work that I did with clients and I certainly had a successful practice in Santa Fe, but my practice, like most therapies, psychotherapy and many others, it was focused on people’s problems. People come to us because they’re in pain. People are frustrated, and we basically, in my opinion, we healers, therapists, I think we make a mistake in that we buy in to the fact that people have difficulties, problems, challenges. And I’m not saying that they don’t, but I think that the degree to which we spend time talking about those things largely reinforces them and makes it almost more difficult to change.
David Brower: Oh, wow.
Jake Eagle: Yeah. And so-
David Brower: And so not to generalize, but it would seem to me that a lot of therapists in different types of work would be doing, “Well, this is the way we’ve always done it,” kind of thing. Is that right?
Jake Eagle: They would be, yeah. And they’ve been doing it this way for 100 years. Let’s take it back to Freud. It’s a very fundamental approach to helping people is the assumption that they do have problems. And as I said, people do have problems. They have challenges, but I think the fundamental breakthrough for me was realized that there are different states of consciousness. And when I say, “Consciousness,” what I’m really saying is just different states of mind. And I’ve broken it down into three. I’ve said that there’s safety consciousness, which is basically where we live most of the time. It’s about being productive, taking care of business, getting things done, making sure we’re secure, have enough money in the bank. All the things we do, creating boundaries in our relationships with people. Very necessary, essential to life.
Then, there’s another state of consciousness, which I’ve labeled heart consciousness. And what I mean by that is very simple. It’s a state of gratitude. It’s a state of appreciation for the most fundamental things like being alive, being able to make choices, appreciating the beauty that surrounds us, knowing that there are people who love us and that they’re people we love. It’s a very different state of being when we wake up and we live inside of that awareness. And when we do that, and then we look at the problems we have, a lot of them don’t seem like problems, or they certainly seem less significant.
David Brower: I live in the hard one.
Jake Eagle: You live in the hard one?
David Brower: Yep.
Jake Eagle: Yeah, not the heart one, but the hard one.
David Brower: No, I live in the safety and the hard one. Both. I don’t know what your third one is, but the first two have certainly spoken to me, so go ahead.
Jake Eagle: Most people do live in safety, and I do too. And I lived there productively. Was successful and was reasonably satisfied or happy. But here’s what happened. We move to Hawaii, our private practices were gone, our community was gone, our reputations we left behind, and all of the sudden, I wasn’t really that happy. And I looked at my wife, I have this great wife, we’re living in a beautiful place, we’re reasonably healthy, and I asked the question, I said, “Am I thrilled to be alive?”
David Brower: Oh, wow.
Jake Eagle: Yeah. And that was my reaction. I kind of woke myself up. I said, “Am I thrilled to be alive? I’m here in Hawaii with this great lady. We’re building a little dream house.” And the answer was, “No. I’m not. Why am I not thrilled to be alive? Well, I’m worried about this, I’m worried about that, I wonder what the future’s going to hold.” And I just thought to myself, “This is really crazy. This is crazy. What am I doing?” And so I started this process with a colleague as a friend, and I told him about it. I said, “I had this epiphany that I’m not thrilled and I should be.” And he has a great life too. And I said, “Then how about you? Are you thrilled.” And he said, “Not thrilled.” He said, “I have a good life, but I’m not thrilled.” So I said, “How about this? You know there’s that rumor that it takes 21 days to create a new habit,” which I actually don’t believe.
David Brower: Right. [crosstalk 00:06:23]
Jake Eagle: But I said, “So for 21 days …” Yeah, I said to him, “For 21 days let’s just check in with each other by email every day and explore why we are or are not thrilled. And we’ll give each other feedback.” I said, “I’m not going to do any therapy with you, but I’m going to keep reflecting back to you that you have a great life because you do.” And he said, “Well, okay. I’ll do the same for you.” Anyway, we did this thing for 21 days, and we’re both blown away. We’re blown away by how much happier we feel, how much lighter we feel, how our relationships are easier. And this was about six months ago.
David Brower: Wow.
Jake Eagle: And since then, this has become my passion and my focus. And I don’t think it’s applicable to everyone. I think there are people who need to learn basic skills, communication skills, relating skills. But I think most of the people I deal with are people who have done a lot of work on themselves and they’re stuck on the hamster wheel of continuing to work on themselves. And they’re just going faster and faster, but they’re still in safety consciousness.
David Brower: How fascinating. So it sounds like, and just at first blush, it sounds like a course in solid, steady, consistent affirmation related conversation.
Jake Eagle: Yes. The hesitation in my voice is I’ve always been a little skeptical about affirmations because sometimes they strike me as superficial or unrealistic. Like a person who’s overweight, you look in the mirror and you say, “I’m thin and beautiful.”
David Brower: Oh, gotcha, sure.
Jake Eagle: There’s something in us … Right? Because now that’s not true. But the stuff that I’m talking about is actually true from my point of view. I mean, I’m incredibly lucky to be alive. And I can walk and I can think and I can make choices. And I have so many wonderful things in my life, but when I become preoccupied in safety consciousness, the wonderful things drift to the background. And my perspective changes. And what I do is I start reinforcing the idea that I have problems. And I do that primarily by the stories that I tell myself. And so what happened when I went through this 21 days with my colleague is we challenged each other’s stories.
I remember one day, I got on a call with him and he said, “How you doing?” And I said, “Well, I’m in safety today.” And he said, “How come?” And I said, “Well, I got to run a board meeting. I’m a chairman of a board of a small company. I got to run a meeting. And that’s tough stuff. People, conflict, tension.” And he said, “BS.” He said, “Hey man, you can run that meeting in heart consciousness. You know it. And if you did, it would be more effective.” He said, “Don’t make excuses.”
David Brower: Love that.
Jake Eagle: And I did too. And I said, “You know what? You’re right.”
David Brower: I got goosebumps on that one, man. That’s a good one.
Jake Eagle: And I went into the board meeting and I took an extra … I’m going to say an extra three minutes to connect with people in a way that was more than what I typically would do. I was a little bit slower paced. I was a little bit more personally revealing. I was a lot more appreciative. And it was probably the best board meeting I’ve run.
David Brower: Wow. Did people … Did you get a sense that people were looking at you like, “What did you do with Jake?”
Jake Eagle: Yeah. I think people knew something was different, but they didn’t know what. I had one … There were five people in the room and one of them came up to me afterwards and just said, “This is the way I would like to see the meetings go from now on.”
David Brower: That’s huge. Wow.
Jake Eagle: Yeah.
David Brower: That is huge. So you have safety, you have hard, and do you have a label for the third one?
Jake Eagle: Yeah, the third one’s called spacious. Spacious consciousness. And that’s basically a contemplative state that we access through meditation. Very valuable. It’s most valuable to deal with what I call existential anxiety. Existential anxieties, the anxiety we all have because we’re concerned about uncertainty, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. And we’re also concerned about the fact that we’re going to die someday, even though we don’t like to think about it or talk about it, but it’s in the background. And so if I can spend time in spaciousness, a lot of that anxiety will go away, because spaciousness is a place that’s timeless. There are not words to describe it, which is one of the challenges. But it’s interesting, like as I’ve been talking to you, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, I kind of slowed down a little.
David Brower: Yes, you did.
Jake Eagle: Yeah. So I’m shifting towards spaciousness, and as I do, I’m just naturally going to slow down, calm down. If we keep talking I’ll be come inarticulate, won’t be able to say anything.
David Brower: Welcome to my world. Okay. That’s funny, man. I got to tell you, I’m sitting here reflecting on my own stuff while you’re describing all of this, and I just started spaciousness seriously about a week ago, meaning that I dabbled in meditation off and on, and, “Yeah, that’s cool, blah, blah, blah.” And then, I was talking to some friends of mine, and we had been talking about mindfulness and meditation and physical activity and all kinds of different things. Wonderful conversation. And so I thought, “You know? I need to back to that meditation piece.” And so now, first thing in the morning, every morning, 5:30 AM, 6:00 AM, doesn’t make a difference, whenever I get up, I’m doing a 20 minute meditation with a 10 minute recoup if you will. And man, my day is like … I mean I get up from that, my shoulders are down, I’m breathing normal. I’m ready for the day. It’s just so cool.
Jake Eagle: Yeah. I have exactly the same experience. Have a 10 minute and a 20 … I have a 4 minute, a 10 minute, and a 20 minute. If I don’t have time, if I’m rushing, I’ll squeeze in the 4 minute. But makes all the difference in terms of the quality of my day.
David Brower: Absolutely. I’m stunned by it. And the other one that I’m … I mean, I’m really passionate about all three of these to be honest with you. The hard one came to me as a surprise. I was a cancer survivor 11 years ago, and so I came out of the doctor’s office and I was just sobbing. I had no idea why, and my wife didn’t have any idea why. And we went to church that Sunday and I was sobbing again. And I asked my pastor, I said, “All of the sudden I’m having these uncontrollable sobbing moments.” And he just looked me straight in the eye and he said, “Gratitude.” I’m going, “Oh my God.” That was like the biggest epiphany ever, and so I’ve lived my life as best as I know how on any given day just living gratitude. And it changed my life.
Jake Eagle: So do you primarily live in what I call heart consciousness and with gratitude every day?
David Brower: Every day.
Jake Eagle: Or are you mostly in safety?
David Brower: Every day.
Jake Eagle: Really?
David Brower: Yeah.
Jake Eagle: And are you thrilled to be alive?
David Brower: Oh my God, yes.
Jake Eagle: I got to tell you. I’ve asked 300 people this in the last six months, and only two people now have said yes.
David Brower: It’s just, it’s fascinating to me. Because I mean I go to bed at night, I’m filled with gratitude. I get up in the morning, I’m filled with gratitude. I walk my dog. I have a gratitude tattoo for crying out loud.
Jake Eagle: How much of this was the result of the cancer experience?
David Brower: I believe it has always been there at some level. As I look back on my life and think about things here and there and whatever. So I think there’s always been a piece of that that I wasn’t paying attention to or acknowledged. And then when the cancer piece came, and the sobbing came, and the definition of gratitude came, all of the sudden it was like this light switch. And, “Okay, let’s stay here for awhile.” And that was 11 years ago.
Jake Eagle: That’s beautiful. I mean that’s one of the ways to generate gratitude is whatever happens in our lives we ask what’s the gift?
David Brower: Yeah.
Jake Eagle: And so you have this experience with cancer, which most people think of as bad news and scary. And it sounds like you walked away from that and the gift was gratitude.
David Brower: Absolutely right. And the other piece I found interesting is now, and I’m not sure I haven’t always done this, but I always have to have something to look forward to, every single day, whether it’s walking my dog, going on a Harley trip, having lunch with my wife, whatever it is. I have to have something to look forward to every day, and then I’m always looking at anything that used to be potentially a problem, a concern, or frustration, for the most part, I look at those as opportunities now. And I never used to do that.
Jake Eagle: Yeah. Yeah. And that, again, is I believe is because you are living largely in that heart consciousness or gratitude, and when we’re there, it is amazing how it sheds a different light on everything.
David Brower: And everybody around me.
Jake Eagle: And everybody, right. Absolutely. Yeah. So did you experience a significant shift in your relationship, in your marriage?
David Brower: You know, yeah actually. Because it was interesting time in my life. I had what I call the 101 days of hell. I’ll just briefly, in 101 days I had back surgery, I had diagnosed prostate cancer, I had my prostate removed, and I had a stroke.
Jake Eagle: Wow.
David Brower: And so after all that stuff and going through and realizing that I’m here for a purpose of which I don’t know, my wife and I of course became much closer, our faith is through the moon, and yeah. Our relationship is unbelievable. And it always has been, but it’s like on steroids now.
Jake Eagle: How long have you been together?
David Brower: 14 years.
Jake Eagle: Nice. So actually, having gone … You went through this relatively early, right?
David Brower: Correct. In our relationship, absolutely.
Jake Eagle: Yeah. Yeah. I would say in some ways it’s fortunate, because what I see, I work with people that have been together 20, 30 years, and sometimes, they have such deep grooves of unhealthy patterns that it becomes really difficult to change them.
David Brower: Oh, that would make sense.
Jake Eagle: Yeah, and so we have couples who come to our retreats, and if they’ve been together two or three years, I’m always so excited for them because they’re laying the foundation early. And by learning certain skills and learning the things you and I are talking about, how to be in heart consciousness, bringing mindfulness into your relationship, learning healthy ways to communicate, their relationships can be so much easier. And I actually believe that marriages and partnerships can be easy. They don’t have to be hard.
David Brower: Yeah, agreed.
Jake Eagle: Yeah, yeah.
David Brower: Although I had a hard one.
Jake Eagle: That was previously?
David Brower: Yeah.
Jake Eagle: Yeah, yeah. That’s in the past.
David Brower: I was in a whole different place too, and it just, it makes you appreciate … I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for the horrendous things I went through.
Jake Eagle: Yeah. Yeah.
David Brower: You know?
Jake Eagle: Yeah. And it’s part of where I think we develop our own compassion, because with go through those tough times and we realize some of what other people are dealing with.
David Brower: Yeah, yeah, true. So when you do your retreats with your wife or by yourself or wherever around the world, are they focused on these kinds of things? Are they focused on different things? How do your retreats … How do your retreats, rather, work? You’ve been listening to part one of our amazing interview with Jake Eagle.
Allen: Your 20 Minute Podcast with David Brower has been brought to you by Audible. You can listen to any of David’s podcasts anywhere podcasts can be found, including iHeartRadio, the Spotify mobile app, and at DavidBrowerVO.com/Your20MinutePodcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.