In this video I’m talking to Tenzin Josh, an internationally renowned meditation master and spiritual teacher, trained in both Eastern and Western disciplines, with over 35 years of experience. With degrees & masters in both psychology and philosophy. Tenzin is passionate about helping people to find inner peace, joy and wellbeing through ancient wisdom and modern science, and, luckily for us, he’s part of the Tree of Life anti-cancer lifestyle community and programme.
In this interview we find out about Tenzin where he grew up, the journey that led him to become a meditation master; we talk about the importance of debate, why improving stress management and emotional wellbeing is the foundation of health, what inspired Tenzin to do what he does today, and his proudest professional achievement to date.
This is part 1 of a 2 part interview. In part 2 Tenzin and I talk about the power of community and then get into Tenzin’s 21 Sessions Challenge For Cancer & Other Chronic Disease Patients.
Transcript of the Interview
This transcript was computer generated and might contain errors.
James Walters: Okay today I’m with Tenzin Josh and internationally renowned meditation master and spiritual teacher trained in both eastern and western disciplines with over 35 years of experience with degrees and Masters in both psychology and philosophy. Tenzin’s passionate about helping people to find inner peace. Joy and being through ancient wisdom and modern science and luckily for us. He’s part of the tree of life anticancer lifestyle community and program Tenzin. Hi.
Josh tenzin: All right. How you doing James?
James Walters: Yeah, all good. Thanks so much for joining us and we’re separated physically by quite a distance. I’m the UK your Thailand but the beauty of Technology we’re with together online.
James Walters: So all good now for those that don’t know we start with a bit of backstory. Maybe tell us who you are where you grew up and what you love to do when you were a child.
Josh tenzin: So as you briefly mentioned there my background is in both Western philosophy and psychology and also although Eastern Traditions. I probably spent more time and studied more deeply Within. And my coming to those things came about basically from a very fairly normal upbringing but one in which I always was very conscious of the fact that there must be something deeper in life than what most people were aware of. And that was something we’ve drove me very strongly when I was young and when I was even a small child, but particularly as a teenager and led me in the end to traveling finding my Tibetan Buddhist teachers and becoming a month or for 15 years. I was a month with alongside de la Lama
Josh tenzin: and during that time I spent many years in meditation, but I also spent a long time in a study Monastery studying up to PhD level into that language the Buddhist teachings. And since that then I’ve combined those two things to try and bring this wisdom this happiness This Joy and particularly as with what we’re talking about at the moment this ability of using the power of the mind to heal the body. Then I brought that. What I’m doing doing now. so my history is both Western and Eastern but probably more Eastern than Western I come from a very traditional and
Josh tenzin: Philosophical Buddhist philosophical background it’s one which has been there for very long time and it’s very well in understood and very well practiced and very well experienced as well as by If not hundreds a millions of people and meditators over the last couple of thousand years. So it comes from that very ancient tradition, but my work also has elements of the modern scientific interpretations as well.
James Walters: but yeah, so I suppose it a nice combination of being a normal person in the world and with the kind of training and background and interest in more of a spiritual more connected approach to life I suppose.
Josh tenzin: Absolutely, and I think that when I look at those two aspects of my life when I was a monk and now not being a monk then actually not being a monk has many benefits not just personally but for my teaching as well because it’s enabled me to see the world as as most people live it and to be sort of directly engaging with worldly things which doesn’t always happen when you’re a month. So I have found that it’s now 15 years since I left the monastery that those years have been If not more useful if anything the month was Basic training but coming out and living in the world has been where the training is ready to come to life.
James Walters: Yeah brilliant. I think it’s important. I am a few years ago actually in the first covid lockdown in the UK. I wanted to take on an allotment and grow and some of my own fruit and veg again because I had a bit more time not going into the office and I took a bio Dynamic gardening course and at the start of that course the lecturer was talking about Cosmic influences.
James Walters: And I’m curious but I’m not fully spiritual or religious and I actually found that at first it was a bit while I’m not quite sure what you mean by Cosmic influences. but then he was very able to actually translate that into something that I suppose. Most people would understand such as Gravity from the Moon is a cosmic influence.
Josh tenzin: right
James Walters: So it sounds like you’ve got a really good mix of being able to translate a spiritual approach to life to regular people. I suppose all to me and normal people.
Josh tenzin: very much sir. And it really boils down to using the teachings which have come from the East and the knowledge and the wisdom has come from the East but putting it into everyday language so that everybody can use it and not calling it religious or maybe you could use the word spiritual but certainly not calling it Buddhist or Hindu or any other tradition. This is about bringing Joy being and health into your life and that’s there in all those teachings. But obviously it’s a bit inaccessible. If you don’t take those teachings as your religion or whatever is and you don’t have to do that. That’s the point and you can use the wisdom. And in fact, you’re recommended by all my teachers to do that to use the wisdom and use the techniques that are available within those teachings, but you don’t have to become Buddhist or Hindu anything else to do that. you can just use this in your life and they’re very
James Walters: Yeah, Yeah applying it to each individuals kind of unique circumstances or day-to-day. that’s brilliant.
Josh tenzin: Absolutely, absolutely.
James Walters: And that’s brilliant. Thanks for a bit of backstory. What do you so that’s kind of I suppose quite a condensed window of time. you name dropped the Dalai Lama, which must have been a pretty amazing experience. And what do you get up to now in your spare time and how sort of a line is that with what you do as a meditation master?
Josh tenzin: I think whatever you do in life is always going to be aligned to what you do as a meditation teacher because meditation is about your life because your life is your mind your life your experience your happiness your being one of the things which is fun to our lives and certainly to our practice in terms of meditation and working with our minds is the whole idea and the concept that our world is not what objectively out there. It’s not objectively happening to us. It’s much more question of being created by the way. We see it in other words and this is something which is scientifically much more on the table than it used to be and in quantum physics and stuff like that the idea that your consciousness of something makes it what it is rather than it being some sort of objective object out there. intrinsically what it is and that means that
Josh tenzin: everything is related to your meditation practice because although my life now is involved with children. And of course, mostly as it’s like a therapist when I’m working when I work 50 60% of my work is with cancer as well. And that work obviously is particularly focused on working with people and working with their minds but working with your mind is something you should be doing 24 hours a day It’s something which is there. Your mind is always with you and the way you’re experiencing the world the way I’m dealing with my kids and my family and my wife and mother rest of my life is intricately connected with my meditation practice if I’m not practicing which I have to say, I don’t not practical I always do because I have commitments but if I don’t practice then I know things are going to go wrong. I know that life is gonna be much more difficult, but
Josh tenzin: It’s going to uffer my family’s gonna suffer. But my ability to be there for others and be as kind as I can as open as I can as non-judgmental as I can all comes from my meditation practice. And so every part of my life is connected with those things it cannot not And I think that’s what I’ve found personally also with people I work with and especially cancer patients come to me looking for. Getting their mind in the place to heal and often they will start off. that’s my intention. I want to heal from this disease, but as they work and as they move along they find that actually what they’re doing is so much more than just healing from the disease. It’s actually bringing a whole new element into their lives. It’s transforming their whole lives and their lives changing such incredible ways that actually in the end. The disease is far less important and the life change is so much more important even for a cancer.
Josh tenzin: So it’s so connected with your everyday life. And it’s not just Working to hear yourself. It’s working to bring joy into your life to make yourself happy to bring the people happiness to the people around you your family your colleagues your friends and so forth. That’s what it’s all about is bringing joy to your and everybody around you. And when people start to get into that and realize that then it becomes amazing. It was so beautiful. So yeah, certainly. I would say all of my life is connected by meditation practice if I give some specific examples I tend to do things which we should all do more of and that is to try and be in the moment. Things and with whatever you’re doing really with your children on the floor with your children be there with your children.
Josh tenzin: Don’t be thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. And one of the things I love to do now that I’m not a month is dance and I find dancing is a beautiful way to bring yourself into the moment other people may do it different ways. They may be extreme sports. It may be gardening it maybe all different things but those moments in our life when we lose our self. And we’re really there in the movement of moment a very precious moment. And that’s what meditation is teaching you that’s one of the things that meditation is teaching you to do and that’s one of the ways to be healthy because if you’re living in the moment, you’re not anxious because anxiety is always about the future. You’re not worried because worries about the past. Those things are always when you’re living in the present moment. It’s very difficult to have negative emotions. and if you don’t have those negative emotions, then you don’t get the issues that those negative emotions cause both physically and mentally
Josh tenzin: So those sorts of aspects of my own life are also very important when I’m in the moment. It’s not just dancing is one of the favorite things but, being with the kids or we’re going to the beach and swimming or cycling and these are things as well. where you can be in the moment. And so all your life should be connected with your practice actually.
James Walters: Yeah, Yeah, I find personally on my own journey. I found mindfulness and being present. is being such a significant Game Changer historically, I’m a planner and a thinker and historically Ive the future of worried about my pension or worried about retirement.
James Walters: The minimalists have a podcast and one of the mentions worrying about the future is praying for the worst to happen. I just thought that was so spot on so the work I’ve done on myself has been I live the majority of my life in the present and I have a nod to the Future and like you say to be mindful of now means. Yeah, I enjoy my time with my son or enjoy when we go out and have Adventures Outdoors you actually experience what your experiencing now rather than your mind is somewhere else, even though you might be physically in a certain location.
Josh tenzin: Yes, and…
James Walters: So, yeah,
Josh tenzin: it doesn’t eliminate planning for the future from your mind either. There’s a lovely to bend expression actually, which is very well used and very well understood and that is that, very long term plan has long term as you can but live in the moment. so those two things together are really sum it up. It’s a very very good expression very useful. I’m not translating it very well, but the essence is that plan for the future but live in the world.
James Walters: And with them myself and my son we’re together every other week and we are thing now is we have loads of ideas and some of them become plans. So they’re not our expectation is we’re not constantly.
Josh tenzin: Okay.
James Walters: Planning and we don’t have a specific expectation as to what’s happening. We’ve got kind of a broader range of ideas. and so all good. Yeah bit. There we…
Josh tenzin: this
James Walters: So yeah something we can talk about for hours. I …
Josh tenzin: Absolutely.
James Walters: I’ve definitely felt and mindfulness kind of pound for pound one of the best practices for me personally. and…
Josh tenzin: Yeah, it’s not everything and…
James Walters: this
Josh tenzin: one of the things that is important to point out when we’re talking about mindfulness is because of you a lot due to the mbsr and the mindfulness moving in the world that mindfulness has become sort of almost like the goal. It’s not got mindfulness.
James Walters: No, sure.
Josh tenzin: School, which allows you to work with your mind. It’s not the end of everything and just living in the moment is not enough. There’s much more than you need to do that than that. But living in the moment is very beautiful. It’s very useful.
James Walters: They’re great agreed, which is a bit of a segue into your last passionate debate. I love my work with the cancer coach and the people I talked to and deal with them. We are ultimate all very passionate because what we do in our day-to-day life is sorry what we do at work. He’s actually our life which I love and you already touched on that. what was kind of your last passionate debate and how did it go? What was the topic of the debate?
Josh tenzin: Passionate debate when I was a month do you mean or are you talking about after that?
James Walters: That no what was your kind of most recent debate of passionate debate? What you engaged in?
Josh tenzin: Debate to be Debating is something which we did in the monastery. We did many hours a day.
Josh tenzin: And if you want to look up Tibetan Monks debating, you’ll see it’s all very very Vivid and It’s a little movement a lot of shouting a lot of it’s very active to better debating and we spent many hours a day every day debating in the monstry and I wasn’t particularly good at it and also doing in a foreign language that wasn’t easy, but it was very very helpful. It really deepens think about debate is that if you don’t debate if you don’t question what you’re learning if you’re not questioning what you learning you tend not to learn very well. So debate is very important as a learning.
Josh tenzin: And that’s what it has to be. It shouldn’t be done for any other reason. It shouldn’t be done for competition or for winning or those things because then it becomes negative but certainly a back and forth and that back and forth between myself and another person is really important to learn things. So in a sense all of the people I work with there is a degree of debating. If you like from the point of view that we’re trying to establish things and I want those things to be established in their minds not to be something which I was telling people because that doesn’t work. It’s not so effective. So a lot of the way that I work with people is to sort of put things to them and say what you think about this. how does it that this makes sense or whatever and one of the fundamental?
Josh tenzin: Instead of issues which I’ve come across with almost everybody. Some people are very on the ball and they get it very easily but most people including myself. It takes time one of the fundamental issues which we talk about is that one we mentioned before of how everything is coming from the mind because if you don’t get that point if you still feel that there is something out there in the world, which can make you happy forever. Whether it’s food drink a person a holiday money power sets, whatever it may be if you believe there’s something out there. Which has the capacity to make you happy forever. Then you always going to chase. And unfortunately, we live in a world where that’s very much rammed down our throats from media from advertising from TV from all sorts of things from the society. He’s almost designed. in a way that
Josh tenzin: the idea that the more you have the more you possess the more you consume the more you invive into yourself a happy you’re going to become and that’s the biggest lie. That’s ever been propagated. It’s a complete matter and it’s one which is religions have always understood happiness comes from inside yourself. Nowhere else happens is an internal quality of your mind. It’s not something that comes from out there in the world. And that’s the most important point which people need to understand if they want to work with their minds because obviously working with your mind means applying your attention to your mind focusing on your mind getting to know your mind and you’re not going to want to do those things if you don’t see how Important the mind is towards your happiness. But really your happiness is completely dependent on your mind nothing else. and if you don’t get that then why what you’re going to continue to be distracted, even when you try and meditate for example, you’re going to be distracted off to other things because you’re not going to hold your attention.
Josh tenzin: Because you don’t really get the point that’s where your happiness is coming from. And therefore you’re going to be led a stray by anything which comes along mentally or physically or verbally or whatever you comes across you’re going to be pulled away by it. You’re not going to stop yourself being pulled away by because you still feel that’s where happiness comes from. So that basic point about what is it? That makes us happy where does happiness come from? It’s so important to everything that we do in our life. and it’s very relevant here in terms of our healing because healing ourselves, we tend to feel and obviously here the cancer coach we’re doing this we’re following this holistic way of healing ourselves and there are elements to that such as the diet the exercise and all sorts of things which of course they’re very useful and very important but in my experience, it’s very clear that if you don’t work with your mind, then that’s the one thing that you don’t want. It’s not
Josh tenzin: It’s simply not going to work because your body is dependent so much upon your mouth. It’s so dependent. And if you miss that connection, you don’t work with that connection. You can do all the treatments you want. You can meet the perfect food. You can exercise perfectly, but it doesn’t work. I’ve been working with a few. Anti-aging clinics here where I live and I’ve worked with him on and off for years, but they brought me in recently because what they found is they’ve got the great greatest treatments. They’ve got these beautiful ideas. They’ve got mad they’ve got peptides they’ve got anti-aging treatments and IVs and all these different fantastic treatments really, a lot of very new and
Josh tenzin: useful and very effective treatments but what they found was that if somebody comes to their Clinic They doesn’t matter if they’re billionaire and they can book by whatever treatment they want. If they come as with stress, the treatments don’t work. None of the treatments work and they realize that the only way they can get these people to actually benefit from these treatments is to work with their minds first. They have to reduce the stressfets or the anxiety or the fear or whatever mental aspect it is which is stopping because if they don’t treatment doesn’t work and I think it’s a very good example and a very similar thing in terms of what we’re talking about here with cancer. If you don’t work with your mind, you’re not giving yourself a fair chance, you’re really not giving yourself don’t rely upon external treatments. Don’t rely on diet upon exercise. Yes. Those are useful. They’re part of the They’re part of the jigsaw of the most important part and I’ve worked with people who do none of that and yet still recover because they work with their minds.
Josh tenzin: so that’s one of when we’re talking about debates and the stuff that we really need to understand. That’s one of the most important things we need to get and understand.
James Walters: A great yeah, which is I spent one reason why the Tree of Life anti-cancer lifestyle program starts with Stress Management and behavior change.
Josh tenzin: through exactly
James Walters: It’s just management and emotional being because we absolutely totally agree and believe that that is the ation. Of overall health and…
Josh tenzin: Yes.
James Walters: and exactly like you said that there’s a great metaphor that because you were saying of often it’s about looking within yourself rather than trying to buy the next thing you very difficult to buy happiness through things. There’s a great metaphor. That’s like a Sculptor Always starts with a large piece of marble will always remove and remove and remove until you have the beautiful statue. That’s a bit of a metaphor for looking within it’s and again my own personal Journey. I found that removing things from my life and looking at the foundations of who I am and what I’ve got in my mind that’s been really very very helpful. and…
Josh tenzin: Yes, exactly.
James Walters: yeah, and on that we found this I suppose three things related to improving maybe fulfillment or meaning or Overall health it is a curiosity. I suppose the people do need to have a curiosity is to the sorts of things that could change and then absolutely a foundational level is that stress management and then ultimately learning how to change then the rest is possible isn’t it? finding the right diet improving your sleep and getting into exercise routines that all happens
Josh tenzin: And That’s right. And the rest is not only possible but it’s also much more doable because if you don’t get the fundamental point about your mind that that’s where your happiness has come from. You’re still looking for example for happiness in food. You’re not going to want to eat a healthy diet because you don’t like the taste and you miserable because you look that thing that you want to be making you happy is you can’t eat it anymore. So it’s good. You’re gonna be miserable and miserable people don’t get better. That’s one of the fundamental things. I’ve seen over the years again and again miserable people don’t get it. You need Joy you need happiness. You need being inside you if you want to get better and that’s something that’s really important as well.
James Walters: the Great Agreed and now just up to Circle back. You gave us a bit of your backstory, but could you expand a bit more on what inspires you to go on that Journey you gave us a Whistle Stop tour of your journey which and to some people could seem quite extreme and to go into live life as a monk and then coming back into kind of regular day-to-day life. What was an original inspiration or a light bulb moment as a main motivator to seek a more connected life.
Josh tenzin: I think that the very similar to many people and what leads you to try and do those things is looking at life around you and looking at the reality of life around in saying that suffering is endemic in just about it in everybody’s life. And that the normal ways that we tend to look for happiness. which you see around you wealthy people famous people and rich people whatever it may be that normal way of looking for happiness just doesn’t work and that’s what I saw very strongly in my childhood and especially my teenage years the way my parents they were comfortable they were reasonably well off they had everything they wanted and yet there was a lack of happiness.
Josh tenzin: And I saw that around me everywhere the ways that people were trying to be happy mostly was food, drink, and money, cars, houses, whatever. It may be external things, but it just wasn’t working, I could see it wasn’t working, and I tried whatever I could to try as there must be something else, and actually what that consisted of in my teenage years was my experimenting with different things, and doing all sorts of stuff that you do when you’re a teenager; becoming a biker, and a monk all those sorts of extreme things to try and find happiness to try and find there must be something else, which does it and of course those things don’t work either. And it was only when I turned across spiritual teachings, which when I found something actually works, and it really does work and this is the point that.
Josh tenzin: Is so important that it does work. It’s the one thing that I’ve found that actually does work. It makes you more happy. It makes you more confident. It makes you more joyful. And that’s what I found a very likely a young age. So then it wasn’t a question of being motivated or inspired today. It that’s the only option actually not in a bad way not in it in a negative way and that I would like other options. No, it’s a beautiful option. But it was the only one because actually it’s the only one which works. working with your mind is the only way to be happy.
James Walters: Mmm Yeah
Josh tenzin: It really is because that’s where happiness lives. so it was more a question of that. that there was nothing else there was no other Road and so that’s the road I took and I’m very very lucky and very fortunate that I did actually
James Walters: Brilliant. Yeah a realization that it’s just logical. It just felt right it …
Josh tenzin: yes. Yes.
James Walters: exactly brilliant. And what would yes agreed and what do you feel is your kind of in your professional life today? what would you say is a proud moment? so far
Josh tenzin: I’m many but I would say at the moment. I have lots of problem I have about four. I think it’s four maybe five but all women actually that I’m working with at the moment privately the cancer patients every single one of them is always almost cancer-free. And they did that with holistic methods none of them done radiation or…
James Walters: Okay.
Josh tenzin: chemotherapy or even immunotherapy. All of them have done natural treatments they’ve done They’ve changed their lifestyle, but they focus mostly very intensely on the meditation. And that’s what they all strongly believe has gotten through and the reason for that we’ll talk about our different time, but it’s
Josh tenzin: it’s all about that happiness. It’s about that It’s about that transformation within that power within the mind to heal the body if you can get that power in your mind, if you can get the strength the joy and everything in your mind, then you can almost do anything. And so proudest moments are definitely when I work with people and I’ve been fortunate to have that happen many times over the last six seven years. I’ve been working particularly within cancer. And it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing. There’s no better feeling in the world. That when someone messes one of your clients’ messages you saying I’ve just had a test and I’m free. There’s no better feeling. Than that so yes, those are the things I’d be proud of.
James Walters: And Brilliant. Yeah, you are with somebody on their Journey. That is so Intimate and intense that to get that sort of feedback and…
Josh tenzin: mmm
James Walters: and ultimate result is a pretty incredible. So yeah fantastic.
Tenzin is a Supporting Creator for Tree of Life an online on-demand Anti-Cancer Lifestyle Community and Programme for Workplace wellness providers, employee assistance programmes, Insurance providers, Employers, and Individuals at every phase of cancer — Prevention, Diagnosis and treatment, Survivors, and Caregivers.