While discussing the differences in accountability between men and women, John noted this movie starring Jack Nicholson in which the actor's character a romantic novel author is asked, "How do you write women so well?
And I take away reason and accountability. John recommends Arjuna's work. John is also co-authoring a book with Arjuna called "Conscious Men". John, welcome to the show. It's so great to have you here. Thank you so much. And you've had such a long career. You've had the longest career I've ever known in this area. We've spoken to a lot of people and there was a few differences; have you been doing this for 35 or 40 years or how many exact years?
And so it's been the seminars, the books, but it's actually a lot of contact with just thousands and thousands and thousands of people. How many people do you know you've contacted in seminars and that kind of experience over time? Hundreds of thousands of people and it's hard to remember them all when they've seen me.
I'm sure you can't. You kind of think, "Oh, yeah, I remember that time I worked on you one-on-one in front of the audience or whatever. I do fake it sometimes. They just can't get the perspective. I'm sure it's a bit like Tony Robbins' kind of thing. He comes into the same number of people and contact, so I can appreciate that because I've been to his seminars. We love to have people on the show who have a lot of experience like you. Just having dealt with so many people, you're obviously just a wealth of experience.
The other thing I found really interesting was that you've studied so many things. Some of the things I've picked up, I'm sure I haven't found them all, but there's things like [unclear Could you give us a perspective of the different angles you've taken over time and where you've got to today, in terms of which perspectives you find are most useful?
Well, 35 years I've been teaching relationship issues; 10 years before that, I was the personal assistant to Maharishi Maheshio [unclear And as a relationship expert, I was a monk; I was a celibate monk. I was totally into it. I guess that's what's unique about me when I do something, I get totally into it. I'm an extremist, but now I'm an extremist in moderation, so a little bit of everything.
So people say, "Well, how did you get into relationships and sexuality? Well, if you haven't had sex in nine years, that becomes the biggest interest. That's right, it was obsession. I started teaching classes. I said, "People, look, I've been interviewing women for the last year that I've had sex with and what makes them feel good.
There's sort of this idea you're the guy, you should know, but when I told them I'm a monk, I've been celibate, I need to learn, teach me. So I learned about sex in that year, then I started teaching classes on it and I would say, "What we're going to do here is just basically talk about what makes sex great for you and what doesn't.
It's keeping the loving connection. And not that I wasn't in love with the women I was with, but it was a lot and then you start narrowing down and you see how true love grows and you focus on one person and you grow and then becomes family. So I'm just teaching as I go along and I think that of all the challenges that I've faced, but being a monk and being in the TM and having a form of meditation, and I think TM's a great form of meditation, there's lots of forms of meditation.
There's no one right way, but there is something called practice that you do with some discipline and you put your heart into and be regular with it. Before I got into heavy duty relationships and sexuality with women, I was able to find a center, a relaxation place inside me.
I remember when I was reading some scripture or something, there was this phrase that popped out and said, "My mind has found its resting place. I can just rest. Without falling asleep, my mind can just go into this calm relaxed place and that's a really important skill that people can learn, but it doesn't learn overnight; it's regularly practicing one of these mindful meditation, breath meditations, all kinds of meditations.
But if you're regular with it, then when you're in a relationship and it's inevitable that when you get in a relationship with a woman, she pushes button to upset you. You're always this guy who's enlightened, always happy and fulfilled and got in a relationship with women and suddenly, they say something or do something and I would totally shut down and inside I'd feel furious, rage or I'd go numb.
I go, "What is this? I think it's really important for anybody who has practiced meditation and so forth, is that they learn to rise above it and there can be other ways you learn to rise above your emotions. That's a good skill because that means you can always rise above them if they get control of you.
But then it was time to reenter and embrace all aspects of who I am, which is the emotional part of my being and that's a big journey as well, but such that my emotions don't control me in any way. If I'm upset, I can process quite efficiently and come back to a state of openness, love, focus, motivation and interest, but these are all important skills that in a lifetime we want to learn and that's life mastering.
I know from coaching guys, something that they struggle with is being reactive to the situations like you're talking to, so would you recommend meditation, TM? I think TM is one, I would certainly recommend that. There's a lot of others. There are people that have been spinoffs of TM that maybe don't charge as much. I do think it's good to learn from a teacher.
There's just something about when you have a coach who teaches you, you've made a commitment to it and they can hold you accountable to it. Things we read in a book go in one ear, out the other, so it's good to be part of maybe even a little support group of people that are doing it and then you hear other people's experiences and it enriches you.
Those are some various options and I think that's a really important skill. My biggest insight that I've had as far as relationships when we're dealing with women, you've got your own issues and you have to learn how to deal with your own issues. We can talk about that today, but even bigger than that is correctly interpreting women. Because we're different, we misinterpret them all the time and that's a big key thing. And since you brought up Maharishi or TM, I'm thinking back to my days when I was studying Eastern philosophy and there was a really key set of underlying message in the Eastern thought which is all suffering, and that's what we go through with women sometimes, it's inevitable; you've got ecstasy, you have suffering, they go hand in hand.
And so you have those moments of suffering. The essence and number one cause of suffering, which was the plight of all these ancient philosophies is ignorance; that was their term, ignorance. A great example of ignorance, and they were using it different from the way we do, I'm basically saying not understanding the situation and the analogy they used was people got all upset, you're in a dark room and you feel this snake and you see a snake on the floor and you panic and you get all upset and you've got to kill the snake, hit the snake, fight the snake.
Somebody says, "Well, let's just turn on the light," and you see there's no snake, it's a stick. That really is a lot of the essence of my message is there's so many things about men that women get upset about, there is nothing wrong with the man, you just have to turn on the light and realize you're reacting and making this big deal out of nothing. But I can never say to my wife, "You're making a big deal out of nothing. Women have got a good hundreds of years of men looking at them like they're crazy because they're emotional than we are and that's another aspect.
It's a sexist thing to say women are more emotional except they are. Men can be emotional, but women are more emotional. I didn't even start teaching that idea until I had the scientific basis. Thirty years ago, you could not say that or I'd be shot as a sexist, but now we've got evidence, biological evidence.
This biology is helpful; it's helpful just to make sense of the situation, so it's not a snake, it's just a stick.
When we look at the brain of a woman and a man, one of the significant differences is the limbic system is much, much bigger and some studies have shown it's twice as big in women than in men; now, that's the emotional part of the brain.
Another study shows that women process stress differently and when they are experiencing moderate stress, that means a problem, but it's not a big problem, it's not a medium problem, it's a little problem.
So when women experience little problems, as reported by women, okay? She's saying it's not a big deal, she has eight times more blood flow to the emotional part of the brain than a man does; that is very significant. What is happening is women get upset over little things, but they're not saying it's a big thing.
Men have just the same potential of negative emotion as women, but we tend to only get emotionally upset when the problem is big and we don't know what to do about it; that's two factors, one the problem is big and we don't know what to do about it.
If the problem is big, no big deal if I know how to handle it. It's, "Okay, I can handle this," and that's not for women. Women haven't even considered whether they can handle it or if it's a big problem, they just have an immediate emotional reaction. We then misinterpret that emotional reaction and say, "You're making a big deal out of this," because if we were that upset it would be because we're saying, "It's a big deal and I don't know what to do about it.
And what's interesting there is you're talking about uncertainty. Guys often aren't comfortable with a big problem and there's a lot of uncertainty about it. I find a lot in our coaching is that guys are in that patch with women because they don't understand how she's operating and how she's working. And so they're in that area of uncertainty and then I think the relationship starts to stress them even more and they may get into a bigger problem because they just don't understand and it's an uncertain environment for them rather than their career or other aspects of their work which are more regulated and stable, as far as they're concerned; is that something you've come across a lot?
Oh, you hit it right on the nail; that's one of the biggest problems is suddenly, a woman being upset. One of the things in Men Are from Mars is a great chapter in there called the Anatomy of an Argument. And I'll say this in front of our audiences and even get laughs, I'll say, "Now look, I've counseled thousands of people here, I've listened to men and women and their fights, I've analyzed their fights over and over again and every time, woman starts the fight.
You would say that, you're a guy. No, I only say that because I'm this big teacher and I'm on stage. If I said that to my wife, it would be death. So I'm on stage teaching this idea. I'm not telling men to say this, but I want men to understand this. This is the anatomy of an argument.
What happens is anything can occur.