Episode 35: Transcend Beyond Mindfulness with Mark Bunn - AskShivani Podcast

Shivani Gupta (00:16)

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Hi, everyone, welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. Today, I have a guest and I've had the opportunity to listen to his podcast and be quite inspired. And I've also sent a number of episodes to colleagues and clients and friends of mine and his name is Mark Ban, he helps people simplify the shift to health and happiness and high performance. And he has got this amazing blend of Eastern wisdom and Western science. And being somebody who's Indian and born in India and then grew up in Australia. His work absolutely speaks to me. He's also a former AFL footballer, he wrote the bestselling author of ancient wisdom for modern health, which I have a copy of in my bookshelves. He understands the challenging facing businesspeople today, the stress, sleep difficulties, fatigue, he'll talk about the fact that he's Melbourne based. So, he's had to live through a lot of that himself. And he also looks at the secrets of the world's longest living people and the highest performing people. Whatever he does, always down to earth solutions. And the idea that Mark has, and the philosophy has is that don't take more time out of people's days, actually save them time in terms of implementing what he does. We are going to talk to him about relationships and emotional health. He is really that one of these people that will change the way that you think about wellness. He certainly helped me despite having grown up in the Indian culture that I spoke about, welcome up.

Mark Bunn (02:06)

Shivani, great to be with you.

Shivani Gupta (2:09)

It's great to be with you, too. Your background has always fascinated me somebody that's gone from, you know, an AFL footballer and you know, talking about Ayurveda, which is like one of the, you know, the ancient wisdoms that we have in this world.

Tell us a little bit Mark about your journey. Tell us what's got you and some of your highs and lows in terms of what's brought you to where you have today?

Mark Bunn (2:31)

Yeah, well, I started probably around 16, I was always very focused on playing AFL I wasn't particularly gifted, but I, that's all I wanted to do. Even girls were off the scene. For me, it was all about football. And at 16, my mother who was very much into the whole mind, body medicine at the time, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Deepak Chopra. And she gave me all these books. And it opened my mind to just there's more than just physically beating the body and you know, trying to perform from a physical perspective.

And then, in my first year of ISL, I was 19, I've learned something called Transcendental Meditation. And the teacher gave me then a book on sports and fitness and peak performance. But from an Ayurvedic perspective, and the whole, that literally, you know, the lights just went on in my brain, I was studying Western health science or about nutrition and calories, not boring stuff. And then this entry into Ayurvedic, this traditional you know, India's traditional system of health care, but very universal, Eastern medicine. And it basically just showed me that, you know, food was much more than calories and counting fat, it was about nourishing the soul, you know. And exercise wasn't just about getting a six pack or tightening up your backside, it was about, you know, getting into meditational states and developing higher states of consciousness, which was the whole purpose of meditation from their perspective, you know, it wasn't just about reducing some stress or being more mindful, it was about there's doorways to the divine, they would call it you know, that we as humans are connected to this divine inspiration, traditional meditation as a way to access these higher states of consciousness.

So, in in the space of a week or so my whole worldview of what health was and what our purpose in life was, was very much opened up by this what we could call this Vedic paradigm, which sort of has been the foundation for everything I've done since and it's been, it's been beautiful.

Shivani Gupta (04:31)

Wow. And, you know, life always has these ups and downs. And I always say, you know, on this particular podcast, Mark, that sometimes, you know, a deeper challenges are the ones that really transform us into who we are. So, tell us a little bit about some of the not so great things that have helped you get to where you have as well.

Mark Bunn (4:50)

Yeah, no, I totally concur with that. With that idea. The first one was probably the fact I wasn't a brilliant AFL footballer. 

Like, you know, I played 50 games sixth season, it was a great experience, to play with two different clubs. And but it was very difficult to go off, you know, they call it going off the edge of the cliff, you know, 

Like, you know, I played 50 games sixth season, it was a great experience, to play with two different clubs. And but it was very difficult to go off, you know, they call it going off the edge of the cliff, you know, 

Like, you know, I played 50 games sixth season, it was a great experience, to play with two different clubs. And but it was very difficult to go off, you know, they call it going off the edge of the cliff, you know, one week, you're a part celebrity, and you get all your entry into nightclubs and all your clothes bored, and you're making money in the next, you know, the next year, you're no one in a sense, and that was really really hard, you know, what's my, what's my purpose in life now, and I had to, you know, create and most footballers go through, or anyone who's had that sort of experience goes through that year or two of just finding yourself again, and what's your meaning and the other big one was really having the theory of this Ayurvedic mindset, or this Vedic wisdom and how to live life and the longest living people in the world. 

And, but in a Western culture, that's very difficult, you know, we have our own stresses and our whole society doesn't often support those ways of living, and I was married, within a few months of being married my wife, who'd been in a very toxic environment, our record for many years, you know, female, very caring, sort of heart based person and sort of the literal sweep things under the carpet. And then I did the same and, you know, she'd end up getting breast cancer.

And that whole journey of, you know, into the bones, and, you know, a seven year journey of, you know, we might have the theory of how to live a healthy, happy life, but sometimes the universe gives you these lessons of, you know, this is a real challenge of how to do it, and she ended up passing away after about seven years and that, that whole experience just really grounded me, I guess, and just that, you know, we can have the best theories in the world and everyone out there is doing the best they can. But you know, our life in particularly in western world, you know, busy and stressors, it's not always easy to live it. So, I'm trying to get that balance where we make things practical in that real empathy and sympathy for what many people are going through today.

Shivani Gupta (07:04)

Yeah, I can imagine that Mark, you know, losing your wife, and your, your loved one and your partner and your soul mate like that. That's you know, almost another podcast in terms of how do you, you know, deal with some of that.

And so, you've spoken about some of the challenges that have come your way do you have when challenges come your way and I know you're based in Melbourne, for our audience. I know that Melbourne’s had a number of lockdowns, the world's been, obviously in and out of turmoil, and we're certainly not out of the year, even though there feels like there's some light at the end of the tunnel. And so, do you have a process? Like? Do you have a way that you deal with challenges whether they be in your personal life which you've shared, just then, or in your business life? Or do you have a philosophy? Do you have a way that you kind of attack when you have challenges come your way that you deal with?

Mark Bunn (07:50)

Yeah, probably two things, I'd say. One is one that I do very well and always have, and one is that I've been terrible at not just learning to get better bit, the first one. And it's from this my sort of training, I guess in Ayurvedic wisdom, and that is that consciousness is the basis of all of life. So, we have problems, you know, very much usually on the surface of life, you know, the relative, you know, we've lost a job or lost a partner. But the Ayurvedic wisdom is that, beneath all of that, whether we call it, you know, that intelligence of the universe, or that non-physical part of us that no one can touch that we always have access to, if we can connect to that, and that's through obviously meditation and yoga and things like that. And it just, it grounds us and it gives us that, I think of it as a broader worldview, that life is about change, everything changes, but there's one part of us that doesn't change, and if we can connect with that, then it's like, you know, the waves on the ocean, were grounded deep in the ocean, then all the ways can go along the surface, and they don't grip us so much.

So I've always been good at retreating into myself, it's that whole idea of pulling the arrow back and, you know, just that time to yourself and meditation and sort of that clarity comes and then the other part, which I've been terrible at, particularly as a man, you know, we know, know, very well now in our societies, that men tend to sort of keep things in and don't communicate, don't speak to their partners or their family and their loved ones. And I was terrible at that, you know, as a running joke in my family that, you know, when I was growing up, that, you know, I wouldn't tell my parents anything, you know, how's your day? Good.

But, I guess from the research very much from a Western perspective, now that we all are aware about over the last decade is the importance of social connections and, you know, males and females, you know, speaking to people that, you know, have their best interests at heart and just that, that ability to share things and get things off our chest.

It actually helps us cope with those difficulties. Even if the person can't solve the problem, you know, they can't fix it. But just that ability to communicate, be vulnerable, embrace the fact that we're all human. And we're going through these things together is something that I'm gradually getting better at. And I really, when I go do it, I find so much benefit to it. But something I haven't been historically great at. So those two together, I think, have been my go-to’s to get through difficult times.

Shivani Gupta (10:33)

Yeah, that's, it's so great that you just spoke about the fact that men need to do more, you know, there's great groups out there now that are doing that. But certainly, in my experience of working with men and some of those male clients is, there's still a lot of that shame around that.

And I think you've come from that sporting background, it's also been so great not only in AFL, but just to see other male sporting role models starting to come out and you know, talk about that they need that support, I saw this, you know, the fact that a sock has pulled out of a number of different things, saying that she's going to focus on some of her family, I just think it's great that people are finally starting to speak about the fact that they need space to do these things.

Mark Bunn (11:12)

Absolutely. It's and sports such a good and because it is particularly male sports, you know, it's that much of bravado. So if men are coming yet, particularly from that background, and you know, saying they do need time for mental health, one of the great examples I use with when I speak to business groups is the Richmond Football Club, which in 2016, are at the bottom of the ladder, the captain was supposed to be the worst captain in the league, the coach was just on the edge of getting the sack, morale was an all-time low.

And they instituted a program called heroes, highlights and hardships. And it was on the preseason of the next year where the coaches would get up, and the assistant coaches and a player maybe once a week, would just share the heroes in the life, their highlights, but most importantly, the hardships, you know, what was going on behind the scenes that people couldn't see that, you know, their partner was sick, or their kids were sick, or their, you know, financial trouble, or addiction. And it just created so much empathy within the group that people realized, you know, what, and the same in a business, you know, someone's not pulling their weight, or they're not working to a certain performance level, rather than just punishing them or you know, what's going on behind the scenes. And they would realize, you know, the reason that they might be turning up late to training or they're not performing is because they got a, you know, a young child who's, you know, just been diagnosed with cancer or their relationships in really tough situation and, and the bond that that created with a team, they really, and of course, as you know, they went on to win the Premiership that year, three premierships in four years, and you can see it, when you see them play, you know that, that they're just so connected. And it's and they laugh, and they enjoy the process. And it's just created such a shift. And I think we're seeing more and more that in business circles and families. And so, it's great, it's really great.

Shivani Gupta (13:04)

It's such a great example, really great and so great, I didn't realize that that program is in play. And yeah, I can see that. I love AFL, And so you know, I can see that when I watch that. But knowing that history behind a bear that puts that so much more into context as well. 

And Mark, what about your aspirations for the future? other things, obviously, personally, that you want to do around business? Tell us a little bit about what's happening. And what are you hoping that you want to really focus on over the next couple of years or even five years?

Mark Bunn (13:38)

Yeah, well, again, it's this funniest dichotomy of always these two answers always coming into my head. It's like that the paradox they say of nature, or is these two to choose but um, initially, there's two books I'm writing I wrote, I just said, ancient wisdom for modern health, which has been really successful and a great joy when people read it and can make changes in life. So, I've got a sequel to that, in fact, it's a three-book series. So, the second book in the series will hopefully be out.

Maybe in a year or so. And then I'm just finishing off a book on all that transcendence. So, it's called, “Don't just meditate, transcend”. And it's based on, you know, this history of the importance of what's called transcendence, which is not just being mindful, mindfulness is absolutely wonderful. And I know so many people get benefits and I do various mindfulness practices. But there's also this deeper wisdom that we can go beyond just being mindful, as we touched on earlier, transcending and going beyond all levels of mind, body and motion to experience, what we call pure consciousness.

And in that situation, we then over time develop these higher states of consciousness, what traditionally are called you know, enlightenment of Nirvana, Self-Realization, which we often think about are these mystical states that are, for people that, you know, go off and be reclusive in caves, and they're not practical for modern people in a Western life, whereas like they actually are. And we put in the book, the science that backs it up that, you know, if we can do these practices regularly, then we too, can experiences those states with time. So, they're two books. And then the sort of the other thing that comes to mind is having just turned 50 that my goal from now on is really to do what nature wants me to do. That sounds weird, I guess. But for the first 50 years of my life, I was very, in the head, you know, it's the mind over matter, you know, set the goals, this is what I want to do. And this is what success looks like. But I'm learning that sometimes nature has a different path for us. And sometimes we just need to follow the wisdom of the body in the gap, rather than just what the mind tells us.

So the second answer is, I don't really know, what my ambitions are, the ambition is to just sort of do what nature caused me to do and at the time, and sort of follow that sort of subtle wisdom rather than just, you know, speak here and write the book here.

And that sort of thing. So yeah, it's an interesting transition.

Shivani Gupta (16:23)

Oh, that sounds great. I love, you know I remember picking up your book. I think I remember stopping and all of those. 

And grabbing the book. In fact, I thought it was published by, because the colors and stuff I've heard and, and I just really, really enjoyed it. So, I'm looking forward to your next installments of your wisdom and being able to tap into that. 

What about do you have leadership philosophies Mark that you live by? You know, certain people go? Yeah, you know, sometimes it's people's values, other times their philosophies. Or do you have philosophies that you go, yeah, that really ring true to me. And this is how I, you know, I choose to live by them.

Mark Bunn (16:52)

Yeah, I always remember a quote, and it's paraphrasing, but it was..and they said when you're leading, or people respond to 25 percent of what you say, 75 percent is who you are. And it’s sort of a subtle variation on the whole, lead by example, you know, that, it's who you are. And it's the example you set that really most influences, people. So that one's that really stands out to me that you know, and you see it everywhere, whether it is in business, or in a family or as a parent or as a in sport, you know, people that just live by their values.

And they said when you're leading, or people respond to 25 percent of what you say, 75 percent is who you are. And it’s sort of a subtle variation on the whole, lead by example, you know, that, it's who you are. And it's the example you set that really most influences, people. So that one's that really stands out to me that you know, and you see it everywhere, whether it is in business, or in a family or as a parent or as a in sport, you know, people that just live by their values.

Shivani Gupta (17:54)

Yeah, great. It's a nice way to actually do the percentage around that, isn't it? Because one thing is having that philosophy, the other is to say, you know, here's a percentage, and then going deeper into that particular philosophy.

And Mark you look pretty fit, I know that our audience can't see that, you've just told me and shared with the audience and made that you're just turned 50? What are some of the things that you do for your wellness? I know you've spoken about TM, or Transcendental Meditation. 

Tell us about some of your wellness rituals, whether you do them daily or weekly, or maybe even annually, what are some of the things that you do? And how do you keep yourself well?

Mark Bunn (18:32)

Yeah, well, I finally I've just did a podcast on what's called the Ayurvedic daily routine, which so in Ayurveda, they have an understanding that we humans are designed to live in tune with nature, you know, and there's a daily rhythm, a daily cycle, a 24 hour clock that we're designed to do different things in tune with that. So, it's like riding the waves, you know, we swim with the current life flows, everything's good, good energy, we sleep well, rather than going against those.

So, my daily routines very much where I can, and that's all about being practical, and sometimes you travel and sometimes things come up and it goes out the window. But um, so my start to the day is generally early. So, I like to do things like scraping my tongue, they call it tongue scraping a gaggle with sesame oil, I put some things up my nose, and all these sort of things that then I try and get outside for some morning sungazing if the sun's out, or I'm in a place where I can actually see the sun, get some sungazing or indirect sun exposure, a little bit of yoga, and then I do my TM practice. And there's a sort of advanced practice of that, too, that I'll do in the mornings.

Exercise fairly, sometimes I'll do it early, depending on the structure of the day. And then yeah, sort of these seasonal cycles that I do, too, so I'm just trying to book something in Perth next month if I can get in from Victoria, if they’ll let me in which is called panchakarma. So, on the change of seasons, or at least once a year, there's a pact, which is all about massage and you know, heat therapies and enemas, and all that sort of fun stuff. But it's about just cleansing the body a real deep purification and sort of rejuvenation. 

So, yeah, so there's things I do on a daily basis. And then sort of seasonal, you know, diets and exercise change with the seasons in Ayurveda. So, you don't do the same thing all year round. And then things yet every year or two, you might do a sort of bigger purification or rebalancing. So that's a bit of a taste of some of the health things I do

Shivani Gupta (20:40)

Oh, that's amazing. You know, Mark, I grew up in an Indian household, and my parents like really Indian Prime, they live in Australia. I've lived in Australia till 11. But one of the things I love is like, I've got all these Indian, you know, family members, none of who practice Ayurveda, they all know about the benefits of it, but none of them practices. And here I am speaking to an ex AFL footballer who practices daily. And so, it's pretty inspiring, really, the fact that you, you know, have created those rituals and do that. And do you get? You know, this is not one of my questions I'd prepared to ask you. But I've got to ask you this now is that do you get people like?

Do you find people are a bit judgey? about that? That go like what are you doing dude? Like you know, he you practice all these ancient or you finding that those circles are shifting and more and more people that you're hanging around with are following some of these wellness and ancient practices, whether it be Ayurvedic or not?

Mark Bunn (21:33)

Yeah, great question. Well, just before I answer that one, you love this, because when I published my book, it got picked up by Macmillan in Southeast Asia. So, it was published in India and Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And so, I went to India, and I was doing media. And it was hilarious. And so obviously, the Indian journalists will be interviewing me for their magazine or whatever. And they'll just be dumbfounded. It was like this White Australian, is, you know, in India, telling all the Indians, about ayurveda.

Shivani Gupta (22:08)

That’s classic.

Mark Bunn (22:10)

A lot of people in India had Ayurveda in their blood, and you know, the family tradition, but none of them were doing it. And it was this real juxtaposition, which was hilarious.

But, so 30 years ago I started really, and that was the that was the joke that 30 years ago, I was the biggest weirdo of all time. So I'd be meditating in the toilets at the MCG before a game, you know, 70,000 people, you can imagine it all the other players, they walk around with their rock and roll headphones on and they're kicking footballs into the wall, and really rah rah, and I'm sneaking off meditating in the toilets, at the end of the season, where they'd go on their big, boozy end of season trips, I'd be going off to the health retreats, or doing meditation weekends.

And, and I wouldn't tell anyone, because, you know, I didn't want to be a weirdo. And whereas now, it's like, the weirdo is a sort of coming out, and people endorsing what we've been doing for 30 years. So, it's been great. Even speaker bureaus, you know, I've been with Speaker bureaus for about 20 years, and some of them in the last few years have said, Mark, we've got the most phenomenal feedback from the clients, you know, what are you? What are you doing differently? And my answer is absolutely nothing.

You know, I've always been one of these rare speakers that have been saying the same thing for 20 years, you know, that and you have noticed Shivani, in the speaker circles, you've got to change your content, and always come up with this new slant some things and be ahead of the pack. And I'm sort of like, I just keep doing the same thing. And now the audience is actually almost catching up to what I've been saying in without sort of sounding arrogant, but it's, um, yeah, I think that the consciousness of the world is now rising. Where these ancient practices and these ancient wisdoms that have stood the test of time being sort of recognized for the deeper wisdom and so, yeah, that's been really fun over the last few years to have that.

Shivani Gupta (24:10)

That's great. I love that story. And I think when you're talking about things that have been so ancient, I think they're always going to be the same.

Right, there, though they don't shift as the world shifts, it's really going back to what grounds your earth to or kind of makes you connected to yourself or whatever you believe in. So, I think that's really awesome, Mark that you speaking about that. And I think it's great that you're sharing that message and have been sharing that message. I think it's more relevant now than anything else, that we need to go back to some of the ancient wisdom. 

And Mark, I'm sure that the people that are listening will go on “I wanna learn more about this guy”. So how do they find you? How do they connect with you follow some of the work you're doing or being able to hire you. How do they go about connecting with you?

Mark Bunn (24:56)

Yeah, my websites. Probably the best central place. So that's https://markbunn.com.au/ . And from there they can get, obviously social media links.

The book is also on Amazon. So ancient wisdom for modern health. But yeah, the podcasts or the speaking there's a page on all the speaking with various topics for corporate groups or health professionals or whatever it is. So um, but yeah https://markbunn.com.au/ is the best place to find out more and yeah, happy to talk to anyone and answer any questions and it's been great delight chatting with you Shivani.

Shivani Gupta (25:36)

Thank you. I'm so delighted. And I look really look forward to publish this episode and say, what sort of conversations that starts are, that's always what's fascinating to me about doing a podcast is you never know who's listening. And you know, the conversations that are start. So, thank you. Thank you so much for being on here today.

Mark Bunn (25:57)

Pleasure and now wishing all your listeners great health.

Shivani Gupta (26:07)

I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.