Episode 357 | February 13, 2024

Zen Wisdom for Modern Life: Thriving Through Challenging Times with Sam Morris

A Personal Note From Orion

Welcome, Stellar Life listeners! I’m thrilled to share our newest episode with mindfulness teacher Sam Morris, a remarkable individual who wears many hats with grace and resilience.

Sam is a leadership coach, musician, and wisdom enthusiast whose journey has been shaped by a unique blend of experiences — from growing up on a Maine blueberry farm to traversing the U.S. on a bicycle to the devastating car accident at 24 that left him paraplegic. Sam’s intensive training with movement pioneer Emilie Conrad guided his profound healing and self-discovery. Today, he shares the fruits of those struggles through writing, coaching, and leading retreats.

This courageous conversation illuminates the paradoxes of suffering and peace, and stillness and action. Sam teaches others how to awaken their potential and live the lives of their dreams. Together, we explore what it means to radically accept the moment and respond with wisdom.

I highly recommend this episode for anyone looking to live a deep, full, and healed life. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the show!

In This Episode

  • [02:17] – Orion welcomes Sam Morris, a wisdom enthusiast who is also a leadership coach and musician.
  • [05:16] – Sam recounts his journey of healing and self-discovery after experiencing trauma and paralysis, highlighting his deep work with movement mentor Emilie Conrad.
  • [16:03] – Orion and Sam discuss the addictive nature of social media and its impact on mental health.
  • [26:15] – Sam and Orion discuss the extent of individual agency over the future, with Sam suggesting that we have agency over our own lives and evolution as a whole, while Orion questions the scope of individual agency in relation to the billions of people on the planet.
  • [37:21] – Sam reflects on finding internal peace after experiencing post-traumatic stress.
  • [49:12] – Orion warns of the dangers of psychedelics without proper preparation and intentionality.
  • [60:02] – Sam offers three tips for living a stellar life.

Jump to Links and Resources

About Today’s Show

Hello, Sam. How are you doing today, my friend?

Hello, Orion. I’m so blessed to be here with you right now, and that’s all that matters.

Me, too. We haven’t seen each other for a long time.

It has been a long time.

Four years?

Yeah, since your now college-age, just kidding, four-year-old boy was just a mere infant, I believe.

Yes, I remember.

He was maybe six or nine months old when I last saw him.

I know. You came in with your little dog, and they had a blast together, and he was laughing so much. That was so nice. I’m very honored and happy that you’re here today. I know that this conversation is going to be phenomenal.

Thank you for inviting me.

Thank you. Before we begin, can you share one of your best childhood memories with me?

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I have this memory of when I was a little kid—probably about four. I had this crush in nursery school on a girl named Amy Stephens. She was just this cute little blonde girl. I was totally into her. We were best friends, but something in me already wanted us to be more than friends.

She said, “Here’s the deal. I’ll give you a kiss if you chop down my white picket fence in front of my house.” Her dad had a hatchet in his barn, and I went out and started chopping down the white picket fence to get a kiss from her.

The thing you do for love.

Yeah, anything for love. That’s right. I wanted to prove my commitment to her.

That’s so cool. And what happened? Her dad was happy about it?

I don’t even recall the outcome. I don’t know if I was there to find out.

I like the brains of little kids, and they’re so fascinating.

Right. Sometimes, I really wish to be in that totally wild, open-minded, curious, exploring mindset again. It was such a wonderful time to be alive, and then I think about all the things that I didn’t like about that time, too. I’m grateful that I’m here as an adult.

Most people aren’t really in their bodies at all. Most people are using their heads to govern the direction of their body versus having a relationship with the body’s intelligence.

How did you become an adult? How did you become Sam Morris, whom everybody knows, who does those beautiful meditations and things you do?

It’s a combination of things. I think one of the biggest factors was being surrounded by nature growing up. That was one thing that was very foundational to my life. I grew up on a blueberry farm in Maine, so my childhood experience was a lot of nature and connection to the outdoors.

In nature, there’s just you and peace and quiet. That became part of me, really. It was me being in peace and quiet. It wasn’t until years later that I moved to Los Angeles, where I was surrounded by chaos, but fortunately, I had that foundation of peace and quiet coupled with a few things.

One of the things that I think was a big influence on my life was my experience growing up as an avid skier and snowboarder, which gave me a lot of flow state experience, like what it feels to truly be in flow. You’re not only in quiet because you’re in nature but also moving through nature in a way where the mind goes into this state of total quiet, peace, and stillness. That experience is so profoundly more expansive than the limited mind that we tend to carry around with us on a day-to-day basis.

I was also a musician from an early age. When I was jamming with other musicians, I would enter a state similar to that experience on the snowboard or on the skis, where time just expanded and dilated into that flow state. The more my thinking mind came on board, the more it would distract me from the music. It would distract me from the now. Those were very big parts of my childhood and early adulthood.

When I was around 16, I started to explore psychedelics as well and realized, “Wow, there are whole other ways of experiencing reality that I had no idea before.” It created this sort of sensitivity in me to anything that felt purely of the mind. I could feel into people in a way where empathically, I was sensing if they were embodied in their present moment truth from a level of soul embodiment, or whether they were in their heads and their idea about themselves.

In fact, that energy became somewhat repulsive to me. I don’t mean repulsive as in disgusting, but repelling. I would say, “Oh, this doesn’t feel right to feel someone caught in their head and ego.” I could detect that if someone was present in their soul.

Discover the music inside of you.

I started to have a very intimate relationship with this nature of presence at 16. While my brain was still developing, I was developing around that attunement to when someone is truly embodied in their presence and a heady or egoic state. All those things contributed to how I began to become a young adult.

When I was 24 years old, I had just finished cycling across the United States, leading a group of teenagers on a transcontinental cycling trip. Two and a half months later, I was in a car wreck, which left me paraplegic.

I really had to take everything that I was connecting to with respect to presence and embodiment, as well as what I was learning about the nature of Zen and Buddhism and the teachings about non-attachment. I had to apply them on this very personal level from moment to moment in my life because I had gone from being a high-functioning, athletic, 24-year-old, 6’3″ man to now paralyzed from the waist down, living in a wheelchair.

I had to let go of the attachment to even my body being the way that I thought an adult functioning body needed to be to feel like a whole, thriving human being. I spent the years following that doing deep work on myself to reclaim and build upon a new sense of wholeness without things going the way I thought they should go. That’s a bit of an origin story.

Unwinding the body’s dysfunctional human history to go into an evolutionary exploration, you can re-excite the cells to start moving in and teach you ways you don’t even know.

Thank you. It is so traumatic to go from being an athlete to being in a wheelchair and experiencing all that. Also, the aches–physical and emotional pain. So much pain. You said you did deep work. What kind of deep work? What was your deep work?

My deep work started with a mentor named Emilie Conrad. She died about ten years ago, in 2014. In early 2000, I started to study movement with her because she was the only person in the world at the time who had succeeded in helping people with paralysis recover body function. I was like, “If there’s one person in the world who can help me, I’m going to learn from her.”

I studied under her for a while. She created a movement practice called the Continuum Movement, which was extraordinary in its scope because it was really about helping those with paralysis. That was the leading edge of where she was going with her work, but her work was really about understanding that so much of the movement, even in able-bodied individuals, was largely encumbered by how we have learned to use our bodies. Most people aren’t really in their bodies at all. Most people are in their heads, using their heads to govern the direction of their body versus having a relationship with the body’s intelligence.

Her whole premise was we’ve lost connection completely to the body. The body has been industrialized by society. It serves primarily a utilitarian role, and it’s not meant to be that way.

Her whole thing was, what do we need to do with meditation, movement, breath, creating sound vibrations, and so forth to let the body return to its evolutionary potential? What do we need to do to go back to the type of native intelligence that the body had pre-industrialization, even pre-human, when we started to have it taken over by this disconnection from nature? What happens when we disconnect from nature, and how has it impacted the body?

Her whole thing was that if you unwind the body’s dysfunctional human history enough and go into an evolutionary exploration, you can re-excite the cells to start moving in and teach you in ways you don’t even know. Your modern mind is unfamiliar with what the body holds still in its native awareness. Her whole thing was about unwinding all of the conditioning of humanity and allowing the body to reclaim its evolutionary birthright.

That sounds grandiose. I can’t even imagine what an exercise or this type of teaching would look like.

It’s impossible to even know without actually watching. If you see some videos, you can look at Emilie Conrad’s Continuum Movement on YouTube. If you watch some videos of her moving, it literally looks like you’re watching an octopus or a jellyfish because she has gone back even pre-earth creatures into the cellular potential of the aquatic origins of the body.

You see the body moving in these ways. It’s like, “What is that?” When I first saw her move, I asked, “What am I seeing right now? This is crazy.” I’m trying to even start to replicate it in my hands.

There’s no way I can even do it, but this undulating, fluid, dynamic movement, where every body part was moving simultaneously in this open, exploratory manner like an octopus would. To see that that was a human body was blowing my mind. Anyway, I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent to take you away from whatever you want to follow, but it was a really powerful experience.

Maybe it’s really important for someone listening right now to research that. I even feel like I’m very connected to my body because I used to take dance classes, martial arts, different types of dancing, and some yoga. I find myself disconnected from my body many times, especially in this day and age where life is distracting, and there is so much going on.

Absolutely. There’s more that is occupying the mind than probably ever before. That can be a real liability.

Yeah. With everything we are being bombarded with, all those YouTube reels, Facebook reels, and Instagram reels are so fast. Everything is so fast, and your brain goes, “Ah, I can’t focus on one thing because I’m so used to eating this quick-cut candy.” This instant dopamine hit. How can we deal with this and heal from it?

One thing is recognizing just how addictive it is. I know I’m far from being the first person to say this. This is not a noble idea, but I recognize that even for me as well, I’ve practiced mindfulness, I teach mindfulness, I teach discernment, and I practice discernment inside of myself on a day-to-day basis. I still find myself going into that scrolling dissociation space and looking for those dopamine hits because it is incredibly addictive. The rational mind does not have that much of a negative implication until we realize just how much time gets spent with it.

Not only time but also how our minds track the input they’re receiving constantly and normalize around this being the way the world is. No matter what that is, our minds and subconscious don’t know the difference between what we’re feeding in and what is valuable.

Our minds track the input they’re receiving constantly.

The subconscious gets trained to believe that “This is the ordinary world. This is reality.” Each one of us has our own version of crazy right now because our subconscious is now being trained to believe that the feed that we receive is reality.

The feed we receive is exactly the feed that we, as individuals, receive because everybody has a different feed. If I scroll on my husband’s phone, it will be completely different than if I scroll on my mom’s or friend’s phone.

That’s right. We are further isolating ourselves into an individual egoic reality. There’s nothing wrong with an individual reality because we all have subjective reality. It’s always going to be the case that we always have a subjective experience, but it gets muddied and distorted by a specific type of individual reality that we did not create ourselves, which is being fed into our subconscious to believe that that is reality. The trick is that our subconscious doesn’t know the difference between what it sees and what is reality. We’re all creating our own version of crazy, for sure.

Right. I don’t know if it’s some secret government dictating what we need to see for us or if the AI is already independent. It dictates to us what it is. We are immersed in the matrix. Even if we just talk about social media, almost everyone I know is immersed in this matrix.

I couldn’t agree more.

Some people are detached, but the largest percentage of the world’s population is immersed in this matrix. I teach mindfulness, mindset, subconscious, therapy, and all that. And yet, both you and I still fall into that trap. So maybe you can teach me how to get out of it.

What is so challenging about it, too, is that the mind naturally seeks comfort in refuge.

Yes. It’s an escape.

When it finds comfort and refuge in the familiar, and if the feed is familiar to us, and that’s reconnecting us to our familiar reality day in and day out, then it is so insidious because we are constantly seeking refuge in the familiar. We’re seeking refuge in that comfort. It’s the same reason in a way that people smoke cigarettes, even if they know that they are bad for them. They seek refuge in the comfort and familiarity of it. Even in addition to the physical addiction, there’s this familiarity and comfort associated with it.

The mind naturally seeks comfort in refuge.

The challenge is the true awakening into your individualized potential. It’s only hindered by comfort. That is the big challenge because anything that reinforces familiar comfort reinforces an egoic sense of identity disconnected from the soul’s intelligence.

The soul’s native individual intelligence is only on the other side of deep discomfort and of a willingness to stay with the discomfort until the discomfort starts to lose its grip until we can let go of that discomfort and something else can percolate up from the depths of our being as long as we have these distractions that keep us in the familiar and comfortable world, that gets prevented. It’s like a roadblock to a deeper expression of our selves.

I see a difference between a day where I take the time to meditate, fly high, connect, and feel safe inside myself. I feel God’s love, I feel oneness, and I feel a part of everything. If I slept well the night before and meditated, I’m so good at resisting this. But life is life. My kid was sick four nights, and I didn’t sleep.

You wake up, are tired, and don’t have time to meditate. Your willpower is so low, and you just go there. I think the answer is a connection because every addiction is based on pain. We’re looking to feel relief from the pain, but we don’t know that the source of pain relief is bringing us more pain. It’s in the back door.

That’s so true. It reminds me of something Emilie Conrad, the continuum teacher, said about technology. This was only in the early years of the internet when she said it, and it’s only gotten more pronounced since then. She would say the internet is a technological crutch for a biological imperative.

Essentially, there’s a biological imperative inside each of us to create connections outside of us with nature, the globe, and, eventually, the cosmos. We’ve found a technological replacement for that biological imperative.

In a similar way, what is happening with AI and everything related to social media is that it’s also a technological crutch for a biological imperative. What our systems naturally innately want to do at the level of biological, when it gets replaced by something technological, our systems on some level recognize that as a positive, but the positive is actually in a certain way at the negative because it’s taking us away from our agency to do that on an organic level.

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That’s true. Nobody remembers phone numbers anymore, including myself. Now, with ChatGPT, you can write an incredible essay in five minutes and get an A+. This is just the beginning of the beginning. We’re going crazy and just touching the tip of the iceberg. Going back to the blueberry farm, connecting to nature, and hugging a tree might be the best solution.

Who do you think we will be on in five years or even ten years?

I have no idea. I think it’s bigger than I can imagine because it’s so fast. I’m just looking at the Middle East right now, and I’m looking at the Iranian octopus that is sending his terrorists to Hezbollah in Lebanon and keeping all the Lebanese hostages in their own country. I see that they control the Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis of Yemen, and all those big arms of terror everywhere.

Everything’s heating up, and the US wants to get involved. I’m like, “Are we on the verge of World War III?” There’s so much fear-based influence on our lives right now. There is a lot of pressure. There’s social media, and there are global wars. I have no idea what the future holds. My husband is like, “It’s all for the greatest good. Everything is amazing. We’re on the verge of awakening. This is awesome.” I’m just like, “No, this is stressful, I hate it, and I’m afraid of the future.”

I was listening to a friend share something on social media, so I suppose we get most of this information these days. I resonated with it because it was about how our minds constantly manifest on some level, no matter what. That’s the brilliance of the mind, even if we don’t believe in our capacity to manifest, even if that manifests a certain reality.

We don’t have to believe that I’m a real manifester. All we have to see is that the nature of reality is manifested through our current perception of self and the external environment. We are manifesting whether we like it or not. Whether we believe we can do it or not, we are always manifesting.

AI and everything related to social media is a technological crutch for a biological imperative.

He was talking about how when 50 million people watch some kind of dystopian movie. That creates a collective energy, which then creates that much more possibility that that collective energy will define the future. I really resonate with that. That’s my experience as well. The things that we choose to focus on are the things that have the most chance of creating the type of outcome that we desire.

We might think that we don’t desire the outcome of a dystopian future. Again, it comes down to the subconscious mind and what it receives. It imprints as desire. If we’re receiving that input, then the subconscious mind is like, well, that looks like it’s what’s happening. That sounds true to me. Then, it starts to generate that possibility, even though we are afraid of that possibility happening.

It comes down to the discernment of what we choose to bring into our field, into our psyche, allowing the subconscious to recognize. This is the greatest lesson of all: to recognize that. Even on an individual level, we have agency over the future, not only of our lives but of evolution.

Do we have agency over everyone’s future, or do we have agency over our future? How does our agency affect the agency of the other billions of people who live on this planet?

We could look at the two as being totally integral. On the one hand, we have to start by recognizing that the personal self is largely an illusion, to begin with, but it is the focal point where there is some type of ability to somewhat control or dictate outcomes. Depending on what I choose to do, what types of foods I choose to put in my body will dictate how I feel in a few hours.

If we expand that beyond into who we choose to interact with, the ideas we choose to consume, etc., that will then affect this localized personal being. But at the same time, one can never separate one’s individual being from the greater humanity. Even in this conversation, you and I will leave with a certain type of integrated and integral experience that is shifting the timelines of human potential simply from this conversation alone.

They can’t not. Not to over-inflate anything. It’s just reality. This is the same reality as two people having a conversation over lunch about their issues with their boss. That will shift the timeline of their collective reality, shifting the timeline of the collective reality on some level of the greater whole.

Our minds constantly manifest our realities.

It brings us back to this moment of recognizing that while our contributions might seem infinitesimally minute, they are also very important on a certain level because the spirit of those conversations impacts not only the two or three people having the conversation but also the greater possibilities outside of us, our worlds, too.

I want to create a reality where there is world peace. People love each other. They just love each other. They’re in love with each other. They smile at each other, they wake up happy every day, everybody’s healthy, and nobody’s addicted to social media. How do I do that? I want it.

I do not want to focus on the fear, and yet sometimes fear consumes me, especially because my family is in Israel right now. There is a war going on on three fronts. What can bring peace from the inside out?

Something that each one of us, no matter who we are, gets a way in which we create unnecessary obstacles towards that vision on an individual level is getting caught in the drama of the pendulums that always exist outside of us, always existing in the outside world.

For example, the Israeli-Gaza situation is a perfect example because there is a strong, almost violent urge inside of culture to take a side. This is wrong. You either take this side because of this action or because these people are wrong. There’s this energy around it, too, that is this very consolidating type of war, violent energy, even inside the culture. Even for people who don’t even have any direct involvement, there’s this insistence around taking a side. Especially the closer you are to the culture itself, the more that insistence will be insisted upon.

This requires a really nuanced level of self-awareness because the mind wants to do that. Because we are so tribal in how we orient, we want to be like, “Yes, there is a right, and there is a wrong.” There is a clearly defined right and wrong here. On some level, maybe yes.

The nature of reality is manifested through our current perception of self and the external environment.

On some level, if we actually want world peace, we also have to neutralize internally that desire to side against a perceived other because the other is an illusion. On a certain level, the other is a perceived opponent. On another, more broad cosmic level, the other is essentially just the mirror for the one. It’s very nuanced to neutralize one’s energy around this oppositional side-taking orientation.

There is a murderer on your door that is claiming, “I’m going to come and kill you and your kids.” And you’re telling me, “Stay neutral. It’s not real, don’t take sides.” For me, I’m like, “How can I not take sides if my family is at risk from all the bombs that are dropping there? How can I not take sides with all this?”

It’s really not possible in the experience of trauma because that trauma completely hijacks one’s system. It’s up to those who are not currently embodying trauma to work with the trauma of the larger cultures as a whole, recognizing that we are all participating on some level. Even if we are not seemingly personally involved, we’re all personally there.

If we are at all safe inside of ourselves, then it’s important. The way I see it, it’s important to keep neutralizing our sense of inner conflict and recognize our own universal experience of love, neutrality, etc. This is spiritual work to help mitigate the conflict that is occurring.

When we don’t believe that there’s any kind of possibility of a sense of emotional neutrality, then there’s an inevitability of violence. The polarities are going to always be there. If we believe that we have to take sides and fall into the story of what if it was me, “Yeah, what if it was me? I’m really glad that it’s not.” But what we’re asking about is our personal agency right now.

Since I am not being attacked now, I could hold a vision for peace. Holding a vision for peace is creating something. It is contributing to something, whether it seems like that or not.

Some people might say, “Ah, he’s just full of sh*t.” This is the spiritual bypass. This is egoic nonsense. They want to see it that way. If that’s the level of judgment they want to come from, that’s fine, too. I understand that. I would understand that reaction.

We have to start by recognizing that the personal self is largely an illusion.

I also understand on a deeper level that forgiveness and creating harmony in one’s life is always where to start. “How will I contribute to global peace if I have regular arguments with my partner? How can I contribute to global peace if I’m in my internal war inside of myself?”

That’s a good question. How do you find internal peace?

First of all, to recognize that the mind is always going to dramatize everything.

Honestly, when you’re talking about October 7th, you can’t make this thing sound like that. The mind cannot dramatize more than has already happened there.

I’m saying the echoes and ramifications. That’s a great example because it happened at a particular time, and now you and I are talking about it. We are experiencing because we’re aware of what’s happening in the world when we reflect on our internal experience. We recognize that the drama is playing out inside of ourselves, even though that was isolated at a specific time.

Absolutely. I can tell you I’m experiencing post-traumatic stress from what happened. Thank God I wasn’t there because it activates everything. It activates epigenetically from my ancestors. It activates on many levels, with friends and family there.

When you are experiencing post-traumatic stress, how do you find peace? You did that because when you had that accident, you had to go there, and you had to work on experiencing your internal peace and dealing with your post-traumatic stress.

To me, it is making peace with suffering; it’s not getting suffering to go away.

How do you make peace with suffering?

It’s something that I continue to work on to this day, 24-plus years after my spinal cord injury, is making peace with the suffering, recognizing that as things come up, “If only I had the whole functioning of my body. I’ll share something personal, but I don’t mind sharing it because I’ve come to peace with it. If only I was able to have a normal sexual function,” and not have a complete—that was a big one for me to have the very feeling of manhood. It’s even associated with being a man.

It’s important to keep neutralizing our sense of inner conflict and recognize our universal experience of love and neutrality.

To have that taken away from me at the age of 24, the suffering that that caused was extraordinary. It’s not something I could make go away by just thinking it away. Instead, I had to be with the suffering, pain, and all of the if only.

This is occurring to us internally on an individual level all of the time. There is what is happening, and then there are all of the projections that the mind says about if only. “If only I had more energy. If only I had had more sleep last night. If only this car in front of me would fucking turn at this red light. If only this food weren’t total sh*t right now. If only I had more income. If only this, if only that.”

That creates internal resistance and conflict with “what is, that is,” generating the experience of suffering. When that’s happening at an individual level, that’s where we have some agency. We can learn to be with the suffering as it’s occurring and say, “Okay, I’m experiencing all of this, “if only.” I’m in a place of deep conflict with the way things are right now.”

Okay, if I just breathe with that, bring my attention into my whole body, and ground my energy, I can notice all of that and all of the distress that that puts on my system, but not be in a space of reaction around it, not be in a space of, ” I have to fight this. ” What’s happening at an individual level and a larger cultural civilizational level are the same, just at different scales.

The most significant war we need to win is the war inside.

That’s right.

The war between our ears.

It’s true. It’s always been the case. There has always been war, and there has always been love, too. Looking back throughout human history as we know it, there has always been a war in modern civilization, yet love has prevailed somehow.

I love that.

How did love manage to make it through all of that? Throughout all of the wars, famines, and plagues that have happened throughout history, somehow, love made it. “Wow, this pure and innocent thing where we can still look into a child’s eyes and see this pure expression of love, or look at a dog and see the dog’s pure expression of love. How did that make it through?”

Communication extends beyond words. To communicate is a dance of vibrations that reminds us of our essence as vibrational beings. Click To Tweet

It’s important to recognize that love will always make it through. It might not look like the vision of global peace that we wish to. It may or may not, in some new orientation, be a new awakening.

I try not to hang my hat on that possibility, but I can look at the evidence through the darkest periods of human history. Love has prevailed, and love has always remained a possibility inside me to feel. In fact, I’m feeling it right now. My face might not express it, but I can feel love inside of me as a counterpoint to all the chaos of the world and the chaos inside of my mind.

That’s beautiful. The answer is, as cheesy as it sounds, always love. There is no other answer ever.

When we speak of global peace, I hope that enough people experience it at an individual level that it spreads like a meme. But even a meme is an idea. What we’re speaking of is not an idea. Love is a foundational consciousness. It spreads like a positive virus throughout the world.

Just put MDMA in everyone’s water, and it’s going to be perfect.

This may be a good start. I laugh, but I wonder. Sometimes I wonder because I don’t know who I would be or how I would orient around my reality and the greater reality of the world had it not been for these very expanded psychological states induced by MDMA, psychedelics, etc., that showed me that there was a different way to be, that we did not have to be constrained by the violence of the mind.

Resilient, unconditional love will always prevail.

You said that psychedelic journeys opened up your mind to experience different realms and different ways of being that are bigger and more expanded than this current human experience, which is very small and, narrow and restrictive. There are a lot of people who are offering psychedelics as a way of finding enlightenment. What do you think about that?

It’s very much a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I think it might be essential. It could even be essential to the greater connection of the greater world with respect to accessing much more profoundly deep states of consciousness than what is available at the superficial level of the mind, let’s say.

My reservations around them come from how there’s a cult of personality that tends to surround the psychedelic community with this pseudo-enlightenment experience that is not enlightenment at all but a new egoic identification with a sense of a more spiritual and awakened self. That is precarious territory because psychedelics will give you an opening to a possibility, but they are not a result. They do not give you what you’re looking for. They give you a window to peer through, but they don’t take you out of the window and out of the house if that makes sense.

It’s like, “Oh, wow, an open, expansive space outside of the house of my mind. Wow, that’s incredible.” Then, many people, I believe, exist outside of the house of mind, but they’ve created a new house with prettier, more colorful objects inside of the house, which is no less or very much less restricted than the previous house.

It’s like a new trap of ego that is reinforced by the subculture of psychedelics, which makes people all feel like they have a common unified family and that it’s up to the rest of the world to catch up to their level of enlightenment. Then, there would be global peace if it were only that simple. It’s not that simple.

One can never separate their individual being from the greater humanity.

Psychedelics frequently give you a preview of a possibility, and then what tends to follow that possibility is one’s own dark night of the soul, where one has to go through an experience that can be very tenuous. That is an inherent part of the human condition. We have to have those dark nights of the soul. Without them, there’s just no bypassing. There’s no way to bypass and go from one limited sense of self to this new expanded sense of self. It’s a real trick of the mind to believe that that is actually possible.

There really has to be a real sense of a death of sorts, a death to this illusory notion of a personal self to recognize anything that is a more actually truly individualized self, if that makes sense. I’m curious to hear your thoughts about that. That’s my experience.

I think psychedelics can be incredibly helpful for people if they are done with the right person and in the right container after the person has worked on themselves a lot because not every mind can handle psychedelics. Some people get lost. Like you said, it’s a double-edged sword. Even for people who think, “Oh, I’ve done that. I know that I’m so strong. I’ve been through that, and you never know what you’ll get or what experience will come.”

I believe doing it with the right person with intentionality, only when you’re ready and coming from a place of being completely humble, is the right way to do it for the purpose of healing, not for the purpose of just having fun or when it’s like, “Oh, my God, my psychedelic guru looks so cool, she’s wearing feathers and collecting whatever.”

There’s the pseudo appearance of a guru and what they look like. I can see many young people gravitating to that, just like they are gravitating to an influencer on Instagram. It’s all an ego game. Into this ego game, you pour psychedelics that are going into the deepest layer of your psyche—extremely dangerous and can destroy someone’s life.

Those who consider themselves more evolved would look at a lot of the propaganda that the government was creating around psychedelics back in the 60s, 70s, and on, with great disdain and judgment and so forth about the danger of bad trips and this and that. I understand, but it’s not entirely untrue.

I’ve had horribly crazy making trips where I’m like, “I’m going insane.” There’s no way that a sane version of me comes back from this experience. Who I knew myself as is completely gone. In one sense, that’s par for the course because there is this ego dissolution.

Make peace with suffering.

I caution anyone to recognize just how fragile our egos are and to recognize these constructs of who we believe ourselves to be. While we want to expand past these constructs, we have to recognize just how safe these constructs seem to make us. Like you said, I think you just put it perfectly. Without proper guidance and experience, someone holding the space who knows how to navigate these waters can and does backfire regularly. We just don’t hear that much about it because people share the more positive experiences on social media.

In our governments or in positions of power, you can find a humongous percentage of narcissists. They live their life in a way where they can step over people, lie, and do whatever they want to get to where they want to get, and still, people love them and adore them. They put this very friendly, kind front, but you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.

I see that also with spiritual leaders, the spiritual narcissist. They’re so good. They tell people exactly what they want to hear, they look the part, and they have tons of followers. What are your thoughts about those people?

I think it could be incredibly misleading and incredibly destructive, especially since there’s part of us that will always yearn to improve upon our present conditions, whether that’s to improve spiritually or whether that’s to improve financially. There’s a whole market out there for people willing to—I would say somewhat innocently. I don’t think it even comes with any kind of malevolent intention at all.

I think on the part of the guru, and it’s frequently totally innocent because they believe their bullshit. They believe so fully that they think, “Oh, I can help you discover your full potential.” Being in this space as a profession is, for me, another double-edged sword. I must really walk this line mindfully because there is a lure.

It’s a game that I never want to play because I can see. I don’t want to give people false hope in this future potential related to anything financial, spiritual, or anything. It’s a world where I, personally and professionally, swim in these waters in a way where I try to be incredibly mindful of that, communicating what feels deeply true to me and resonant.

There are a lot of people who don’t do that. There are a lot of people who take on this spiritual ego, financial ego, or whatever it is. This problem solving I’ve got, I’m going to solve all your problems, you’ll never have to suffer again type of thing. I find that it’s distasteful and it’s naive.

Yes. I’ve been in the spiritual development world for a long time, and I think I’ve done more seminars than anybody I know.

Our mind is always going to dramatize everything.

Are you sure about that?

Absolutely. I think I’m in the 99.9999% of the world population, as far as the amount of knowledge I consumed, rubbing shoulders with some of the most famous people, and putting them on a pedestal just to see that it’s not needed because you need to separate the guru from the method. A lot of those people have great knowledge. Incredible. As long as you’re not getting sucked into their thing in a cultish way, and as long as it serves you and you can separate the method from the guru and take what you need, it’s super beneficial.

I feel like I had to go through a lot in order to actually see that for myself and be more awakened in that sense of not being blinded by what people say or by people’s facade, and actually looking straight into their souls and being like, “Okay, I see you. I see the good, and I see the bad. I appreciate you, but I’m going to take it with me.” You can keep what’s not necessary for yourself.

Well said. I feel like some of the most important spiritual teachers that I’ve had throughout the ages are those who would never identify as such. They just simply hold an energy that taught me without even them trying to convey anything. They weren’t trying to teach me. They weren’t trying to suggest that they had any kind of answers, any fixes, or any type of methodology.

This whole methodology thing is so crazy. The mind loves methods. It loves strategies. It’s like, “Oh, it’s just a package. I just have to follow the thing that’s in the package.”

The most profound spiritual teachers I’ve ever had never had any methodology. They never had any kind of package. They didn’t even care if I listened to what they had to say. They were just holding an energy that felt healthy. It created a transmission that taught me through their silence.

Through their beingness. It’s something in their energy field and their beingness. Without you knowing it, it’s rubbing on you. You’re like, “Oh, I like this elegance, I like this kindness, I like his lack of confrontation where she doesn’t agree with something.”

I’m thinking about this specific person in my life: my mother-in-law. She’s such a beautiful, gentle soul. It’s just the way she carries herself. I never thought about her as a spiritual guru, but now I’m like, “Okay then.” Me and all my seminars, and look at her. She didn’t take even one.

I love that, yes. Ask her if you can pay her $10,000 to sit at her feet for a week.

I love that. You can learn from anybody. One of my greatest teachers is my son. I’m a way more evolved person because of him.

What is one of the greatest teachings that he has communicated? Can you articulate it in words?

Unconditional love. Really, unconditional love. Even on days when I’m not at my best, there’s unconditioned love. I love that.

Probably because he’s still so close to the source of it, given that his body has only been here for four years, he’s still conveying. He’s still resonating with that source of energy.

Feel the rhythm in your soul. Music resides in every heartbeat, waiting to be heard and expressed. Click To Tweet

And because he’s special; he’s my son. What are your three top tips for living a stellar life?

For one thing, stop using your phone so much.

Yes, that will make my life the best life ever. I am not. I’m actually doing better. I keep crying about it, but I’m much better. So that’s good. I’m better. I don’t drink as much as I used to, just 1, 3, 4 bottles a day.

That’s good. I love that. Another tip that I find very personally helpful is recognizing the musician in you. Even if you don’t identify as a musician, recognize that music is a living, breathing entity that exists inside of all of us. Even the sounds we make now with our voice, while somewhat monotone, have a certain rhythm, resonance, and vibration. Everything is happening in rhythm. Everything is happening in a vibrational context.

When you can recognize that you actually have agency, one of the greatest things about music is you can recognize that you have agency to work with those vibrational frequencies. As a result, that naturally extends to the world around us. We can communicate vibrationally with one another, and that vibrational communication reminds us that we are more than mere mental objects. We are vibrational beings. So, learn to find the music inside of you.

What’s the third one?

The third one for living a stellar life is really practicing as much as possible. Bringing your attention inside of your breath, inside of your body, and grounding in the physical bio-energetic intelligence of the body. We, as bio-energetic beings, human beings, are innately bio-energetic. That is not something that is woo-woo psychology. That is not something that is new age-y. It is simply true.

We are bioenergetic beings. We are givers and receivers of vibration and consciousness. The more we can be grounded in the unique antenna that is our own bioenergetic being, the more we can naturally attract that which is here for us and repel that which is not here for us.

Amazing. Thank you. Where can people find you?

Zenwarriortraining.com or anywhere you put my name, Sam Morris and Zen Warrior Training. You can find me at sam@zenwarriortraining if people want to email me directly.

Perfect. Sam, thank you so much. It was a pleasure. Wonderful conversation.

Thank you, Orion. I’ve enjoyed it.

Yes, thank you. Thank you, listeners. Remember, stop checking your phones so much, learn to find the music within you, be grounded in your bioenergetic being, and have a stellar life. This is Orion till next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓}Pay attention to your breath and your body. Devote daily time to sit quietly and feel your breath move through your body. Discover areas of tightness, ease, pain, or relaxation as you breathe.

{✓}Ground yourself in your bioenergetic intelligence. Walk barefoot, hug a tree, or lie on the earth to restore your natural rhythm.

{✓}Forgive others to create harmony in your life. Make a list of those you need to forgive —including yourself. Forgiveness can release you and give you freedom.

{✓}Create a vision for peace. When your reactive mind takes over, intentionally reflect on your vision to gain understanding and promote goodwill.

{✓}Practice emotional neutrality. Remember that no emotion or situation lasts forever. Consciously remind yourself that “this too shall pass.”

{✓}Explore movement practices to encourage connection with your body’s innate intelligence. Movement practices like Continuum Movement can help you tap into your body’s evolutionary potential and rediscover its innate wisdom.

{✓}Practice discernment in what you consume. Align with your values and choose input that positively contributes to your growth.

{✓}Limit distractions and cultivate mindfulness. Reduce your phone use to enhance presence and focus in your daily life.

{✓}Seek activities that induce a flow state. The flow state allows your mind to embrace solitude, peace, and quiet.

{✓}Learn more about Sam Morris by visiting zenwarriortraining.com. Explore his books, online courses, one-on-one coaching, and retreat offerings. Sam’s teachings focus on mindfulness, embodied spirituality, and how to transform adversity.

Links and Resources

Connect with Sam Morris

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Previous Stellar Life Episode


Further Resources

About Sam Morris

Leadership coach, musician and wisdom enthusiast with a dose of paraplegia for resilience training.



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