Clear conversations Episode #1 Dr. Justin Tan
Bryce: Hello everybody and welcome to clear conversations. This is a weekly podcast where we discuss the power of the mind, its effect on the body, reflect on our personal reality and the world around us. This is our first podcast and we are honoured to have Dr. Justin Tan Join us for the very first ever clear conversations.
Dr. Tan studied biological sciences at U of C. He studied health sciences at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He has his doctorate in chiropractic from Palmer College. He is a clear float spa brand ambassador; he’s also lululemon Legacy Brand Ambassador — the first ever chiropractor to be a lululemon brand ambassador.
He’s a health coach, he works with the Property Brothers which we will discuss a little further on in the show, and exactly how that all works out ‘cause I’m a little curious to learn a little bit more about it as well! He works with Team Canada as a medical and performance therapist. He’s also the inventor and creator of Rollax which is a therapy for movement and mobility, and it’s a program that he’s developed and we will chat about that as well. And without further ado, here is our first ever clear conversations with Dr. Justin Tan. Thanks for joining.
Bryce: Welcome everybody to our first ever clear conversations podcast. I am honoured to have our first ever guest Dr. Justin Tan. Me and Dr. Tan — well I’ll call him JT the rest of the show, I’ll just call him doctor on the intro. Me and JT go back, quite a few years now. We met through a spa that I run — a float spa, where we run sensory deprivation pods, and people get to float. And me and Justin were introduced, I believe … through Kate Mak who’s also a good friend of ours, and hopefully a future, a future podcast guest as well. And we just became really good friends and we float quite regularly and get into really interesting conversations. And I thought he’d be the perfect first guest. JT, welcome to the show.
Dr. Justin Tan: It’s such a privilege and an honour, Bryce, as always, to be in your company and also to be on the clear conversations podcast.
Bryce: So, JT we’ve known each other for a long time, so I know a ton about you, but why don’t you just tell the viewers a little bit more about you.
I gave them a bit of an intro already, but tell them a little bit about yourself and you know, kind of how you got kind of attracted I guess, to the mindfulness community and into health and wellness.
Dr. Justin Tan: Well fundamentally it started with my education. I’m a doctor of chiropractic and with that, it’s a very holistic health lens. And so it encompasses you know, trauma, toxins and thoughts. And thoughts being a primary things for health and wellness, and so mindfulness seemed to be like the key. I also really enjoyed movement practice, so I have a thorough yoga practice and a big component of yoga is mindfulness and thought training. So, yeah it just naturally fit hand in hand.
Bryce: Cool! What attracted you to the health and wellness business to start with? Obviously it started with your education, but what, what spawned that as passion for health?
Dr. Justin Tan: Fascination for movement started really young with me. I was — in high school and junior high — an athlete, and just fascinated with the human body.
I was really fortunate to have a phenomenal sports medicine teacher and my wrestling coach, Mr. Webster and he really just paved the way as to how to look at movement and how to look at the human body and how to not only, in wrestling, break the human body (laughs), but also in sports medicine, how to heal or tend to injuries.
He really took me under his wing and showed me the philosophy and a whole different environment for our health and well being.
That really attracted me to that kind of way of life and lifestyle.
So that kind of put my trajectory into chiropractic. Through school we learned — I went to Palmer West in California, San Jose — and we go through quite a bit of philosophy as well as evidence informed science. Having the balance of both worlds really engaged my own philosophy and where I feel health and wellness encompasses a lot of mindfulness training. I have always found ways to kind of dabble into how I deepen my awareness? How do I cultivate more intention? How do I act with more virtue?
So that’s kind of been my pathway so far.
Bryce: Cool. So we always talk about post-float, we’re always talking about our mindfulness toolboxes and what we kinda use — and obviously, currently we’re in the middle of a pandemic, which is obviously a challenge for people. Like you had mentioned, it kind of brings out the best in people and potentially the worst, and that’s where a mindfulness toolbox is very important.
Can you talk a little bit more about your mindfulness toolbox and what you use, especially during more trying times whether it’s pandemic or it’s just a really rough week? I mean, it’s really very comparable, whether it’s small or big, that’s what mindfulness is all about is preparing yourself for those moments.
Dr. Justin Tan: Absolutely. You know, I love the term ‘toolbox’ because there’s so many schools of thought, so many practices, tips and tricks as to how to really unlock the potential of your mind. And you know, fundamentally for me, my practice comes down to the breath.
It truly is for me the easiest and the most autonomic, or automatic kind of tool to go to, for a lot of reasons. I think because it’s the simplest, you know, you do have control over your breath and you know it’s just an easy reminder that is always readily available. Secondly, because of the many health benefits and just being able to tap into a very mindful and very deliberate breath practice, has for your immune system and your body.
So that’s definitely one of my go-to tools. Mantra is another go-to. Mantra is basically a tool of mind, and it can be a statement. Usually in San Kalpas (a one-pointed resolve to focus both psychologically and philosophically on a specific goal) start with “I am.” But it can be as easy as “thank you”. That’s one of my go-to’s, is “thank you” in moments of stress or in moments of comfort.
You know, just where turbulence is on the table right now, that’s kind of my go-to because I know there’s always some sort of a silver lining amongst what we’re experiencing.
Bryce: Just a gratitude practice essentially. But it is tying it back to the words which is very powerful.
Dr. Justin Tan: Exactly. Yeah. Why I love both the breath or mantra is that it’s an internal and an external cue that triggers a certain emotional response, like gratitude. The breath, you know, even just being able to take in that fresh air… it’s just really a moment to be grateful for.
Bryce: Do you use any other practices in terms of tying say, practices like that or our practice of gratitude, physiologically? ‘Cause I used to always practice gratitude where I would actually just grab my thumb and just pull it out and it would kind of squeeze it. I would eventually start to train my body, if you will, to release endorphins and to be flooded with those emotions. It would really start to … very similarly to being tied back to the breath.
And then the breath also kind of tied into that, which is just another kind of another physiological tie-in I guess, to make it a little bit more powerful for me, personally.
Dr. Justin Tan: Wow, Bryce, I love that, you know, the idea of having this other physiological process is such a great tool for embodiment.
And so like what that means, like, you know just having a thought form is fantastic and it’s the first step in this kind of process, but also being able to create some sort of sensation, a feeling, a tangible experience can trigger that emotion as you’re talking about, or an endorphin release or some sort of hormonal tie-in.
For me, you know, whether it’s a moodra… you know that I’ve created this process called Rollax — or an experience called Rollax — and it’s a mindfulness training experience. It’s like yoga and mobility training and foam rolling kind of amalgamated in one.
That whole practice is actually about having an external cue to create a physiological effect that allows you to tap into more of an embodiment process, rather than just being in the thought form. And so when I’m in my own movement practice, I first and foremost start off with rolling the balls of my feet and allow myself to get to that gratitude process, ‘cause it’s just, you know, another physiological cue.
If I’m not around like a mobility ball or any of my tools, an easy go-to place is actually just pinching through here (between my thumb and pointer finger) and that’s what I do often. First and foremost because we do a lot of ‘text thumbs’, so that muscle will be quite tender and tight and overused. But it’s also part of the Lung meridian, which allows me again to tap back into my breath.
So definitely a physiological or another embodiment tool that I use along with mantra.
Bryce: Cool. Where did you get this passion, I guess, for all these other things? You went to chiropractor school and obviously it was very holistic, and then you got into — but when did you fall into yoga and start tying kind of Eastern philosophies in with chiropractic and all your other philosophies as well?
Dr. Justin Tan: Well, actually, yoga was first.
Dr. Justin Tan: I would say before I went to chiropractic college and got my designation, I was already practicing quite a bit of yoga. I worked at lululemon and the grassroots of lululemon was founded in yoga. And so I was very fortunate to be my community, and a collective that are just movement enthusiasts and sweat enthusiasts and are also very mindful individuals.
And so being ingrained in that culture early on, you know that kind of mentality was already there. And then just having such a — Calgary has so many amazing studios and instructors that I was able to tap into, early in my day. Jeff Mobb was and still is a huge movement mentor.
And, I just really loved the way you navigate the human system as well as the mind in a movement practice. And that just kind of layered into my chiropractic knowledge as I start to dive more into the intricacies of the body, whether it’s the anatomy or biomechanics, physiology, neuroscience, it all just kind of created the foundation from there.
So I started with yoga first and after the education, everything was just in the formation. When the philosophy of chiropractic really kind of layered on top of it, and that holistic view of wellness just made sense to me.
Bryce: Cool, very cool. You touched on it there in terms of Calgary being a hotbed for mindful people and the yoga movement at lululemon, et cetera.
Why do you think Calgary is such a city center that’s focused on health and wellness? It feels like much more than any other city I’ve ever visited; that it is a huge center for health and wellness and there’s businesses absolutely everywhere focused on that. Do you have any theories as to why?
Dr. Justin Tan: Man, Calgary is such a unique place.
I’ve had the very fortunate opportunity to live elsewhere, like in the States. I was in Australia for a year and you know, been able to travel. But I always was magnetized back to Calgary, and there is something about like the … there’s like a magnetic field in this city which is, which is really nice to feel.
And I think it’s like the creative, the innovation … there is a sense of like a higher achievement in Calgary. And I think this just attracts individuals that want to push their comfort zones, and also try to expand not only business, but also health and wellness, and how that industry is just flourishing.
So, I don’t know but you’re so right; Calgary does have an interesting vibe to it.
Bryce: Yeah, sure it does and it’s pretty incredible how everyone’s innovating right now too, in terms of going virtual and online classes and how people are continuing wanting to move and the community continuing to support that, is pretty incredible to see as well.
Speaking of new cool stuff… Rollax. So when did you come across Rollax and well, you didn’t come across it — you created it — but how did that get inspired and continue to kind of grow and where’s it headed?
Dr. Justin Tan: Great questions. Rollax… so rolling, foam-rolling myofascial therapy has all been around for many, many years.
I came across it as an athlete back in junior high and high school. But what I’ve found with my training, and also again with my passion for yoga, was that you know we can really tap into the benefits of foam-rolling (or myofascial therapy) when we have cultivated a better sense of awareness or intention. And we might need more context as to what we exactly are feeling and what can experience what we’re putting ourselves through, in a practice like Rollax.
And so just a little bit more context, we basically use mobility balls, foam rollers in class and we pair it with yoga asana or movement, and breathing and mindfulness cues, meditation. And I’m delivering it all in one experience so that we can really layer through not only the physical, but also the psychological and ultimately the physiological layers of our system.
It really started to amplify when I was working with Revolution Human Performance, a local gym. With one of our close friends, Morgan and Dionne Alexander, who owned that facility and took me in as their medical professional. And so the collaborations from there were incredible.
We kept on thinking, how do we, how do we create an environment where we have our athletes and we’ve dealt — we’re currently still dealing with — with very high performance athletes… but we want to create an environment and experience where they can still work on their hardware, basically their body, but also down-regulate their software; their mind. And how do we curate that kind of experience for them? So that we can create an optimal high-performance? That kind of got my gears turning and it birthed Rollax.
I have to give tribute to individuals in the movement field already, like Joel Miller and Kelly Starrett. These guys have paved the way, as far as taking home mobility to the next level. And so learning from individuals like these, and kind of taking my own spin, I was able to come up with the class Rollax. And I’m super fortunate again, to have individuals like Kate Mak, as dear friends who really believed in me and believed in the process and really enjoyed the experience of Rollax. And you know it brought me into Yoga Santosha which was the first home of Rollax and it really flourished from there.
Eventually getting to Junction 9 Yoga & Pilates as well, and working with different Olympic teams, both like the skeleton national team, the bobsled Olympic team and junior national climbing teams. So it really kind of just like took off and we realized that individuals really appreciate being able to work again on their bodies, but then also being guided through more of a mental and mental resiliency and an emotional intelligence experience. So that was really fun, that it was received that well. I did some certifications with that, taught a lot of workshops in Calgary and was taken on by lululemon as an ambassador. And uniquely what they shared with me, is that they said that Rollax is kinda like the glue. Because every mover has a body, and Rollax was able to be utilized by any mover, anyone that has a body, basically. And so it worked in the run community, the spin community at the CrossFit, the community, the yoga community, pilates, climbing… like it really just kind of spread throughout all these different communities and they were such a great vessel to be able to reach out to so many of these collectives and really help people with their mindfulness and their performance.
So where is it going? I’m diligently working on it now, since I have more, way more time availability, as we all do. Yeah… is creating an accessible online resource for individuals where, not only is it, you know, the protocols and frameworks for rolling so that you can take care of your own body during these times, where human touch is not as accessible. So online resources for that…
Also creating a bit more context as to, you know, what do I mean when I’m talking about ‘mental resiliency’, and how does Rollax connect to that? What do I mean when I say ‘emotional intelligence’, and how does Rollax allow for one to experience and dive a little deeper in movement performance? So that’s really exciting right now, where I get to kind of be creative and create these kinds of resources and a library of what I’ve been able to cultivate for the last six years into something accessible for individuals at home.
Bryce: Well, I can’t wait to continue to do Rollax. I did one the other day with you and Kate on Instagram Live. And it can be painful at moments, just warning everybody, but you really need to sink into that and feel, feel everything fully.
So in working with the skeleton and bobsled teams. Obviously you’re working on … do you work much on mindfulness with them personally, or is it more on movement and et cetera? Are you working actually with them on mindfulness training? I know that they have, you know, tons of practice on that particularly.
I think we’ve all seen ‘Cool Runnings’ with the athletes, in the bathtub, mentally going through the exercises. I am an athlete myself and I’ve always visualized ahead of time, but can you tell us a little bit more about what they’re doing at such a high performance level?
Dr. Justin Tan: Yeah, well, the Olympic arena is, again, it’s a world-class stage and there’s immense pressures and stresses that go along into performance and everything.
And that sport particularly is down to a hundredth of a second. And so when you’re at the start line there’s, there’s definitely a lot of mental preparation and physical preparation that goes into less than a minute of activity. It’s crazy. Yeah, it’s a pretty phenomenal sport. And my primary role with them is as a therapist, and so working with them on the table.
Though when you’re in that experience with someone, as a therapist then on the table, you always have these amazing conversations and you learn so much from the athletes and your clients. And so there’s always a mental capacity to it as well. I’m very fortunate that I, you know, have a toolbox as we talked about, that’s been constantly curated.
But I’ve been able to share some tools with the athletes. They all also have — I got to say — they all have their own, you know mental performance coaches, support performance coaches, but to be part of their toolboxes is definitely a privilege.
And Rollax has been a really fun tool to play around with, with them. Not only is it a great mobility and body therapy, which is what the lens is generally taken as, but you know as I start to layer in more of that mental intelligence and resiliency and the mindfulness concepts, I feel I have to layer in a little bit more as to how they can show up not only physically, but mentally.
Bryce: So you’ve worked with high performance athletes, you’ve been practicing mindfulness for a long time. What would you say to someone — I mean, I hear it all the time — I run a float spa and people just say, “I can’t shut my mind off” or “I can’t do that. I can’t meditate, I can’t.” How do you get someone, I mean, I have a few answers myself just from speaking to people at the spa, but what would you say to someone that is just getting into meditation? Like “Oh, I’d love to be more mindful,” or “I’d love to practice meditation”? How? How would you kind of go from there?
Dr. Justin Tan: Well, the lens that I take for this is to ask the question: “What’s your AIM?”
In Rollax I have an acronym and it’s you know, what’s our AIM? And AIM is Awareness Intention Mechanism. And I feel like meditation’s basically the same thing. It’s you know awareness training, it’s “can you fortify your intention?”
It’s a mechanism for awareness and intention training. So you know the intention, when you’re asking, “I can’t meditate. I can’t shut my mind off,” it’s well, that’s not necessarily like … that’s not what mindfulness is. It’s that the mind will constantly ramble. It’ll always be going and the intention may not just be shut off and be clear and silent, but maybe it’s just to be aware of the thoughts, to notice the stream, to gain better awareness.
And then maybe with your intention, you know, is it to pause or is it to deepen with the breath? Or is it to, you know, what is the intention there? When people ask me that question or ask about mindfulness, I really just go into, well, “what’s your awareness and where’s your intention?”
Bryce: Got to love acronyms, man. Makes it so clear. I started meditating a long time ago and I went through kind of a spiritual awakening through that process and had some mind, like mind blowing, blissful moments. And through your experience with yoga and focus on health and passion for that, would you say that you’ve kind of gone through a spiritual… Oh, I don’t want to say ‘spiritual awakening’ for lack of a better word (I don’t want to put words in your mouth), but did you feel like you’ve kind of taken a shift and see the world a little bit differently through the study and embodiment of these different practices?
Dr. Justin Tan: Absolutely, there’s a huge correlation. When you start to dive into the many limbs of yoga, or when you start to cultivate a deeper presence within yourself and deeper awareness within yourself, you start to ask some deeper questions. You just get this sense that there’s something greater and more beyond than just this physical form.
So personally, as I’ve gone through my education, you know it’s always alluded to this idea of like, the innate intelligence. Intuition, right? You know, soul. They’re all alluded to in all these different spiritual contexts and even evidence-informed context. That I myself have gone through quite a few moments of epiphanies and self awareness and self realization. And it’s an ever evolving process. And I think that’s the most… that’s the fun part about it. We’re never exonerated from this, this beautiful work we get to do. And we just expand into ourselves more and more. So it’s constantly evolving, and super fun.
Bryce: Yeah. Tell me about it. Yeah, it’s really, really fun.
The other day, well recently we went for a float and we were just chatting a little bit about your parents and just chatting about life in general. And you were just saying that — you’re going to have to correct me on this quote — but you were seeing that everyone is focused on the virus, but no one’s focused on the host.
Dr. Justin Tan: Yeah, so the strength of the virus versus the strength of the host.
Bryce: Yes. Can you expand that a little bit further for anyone that’s kind of listening?
Dr. Justin Tan: Yeah and you know, this is actually coming from one of my colleagues back in Palmer and Life West Chiropractic, where my education was, and my teacher Dr. Brett Jones, an amazing chiropractor in the Bay area.
He was talking about the idea of the strength of the virus versus the strength of the host. And this concept is actually super relevant to what’s going on in our current environment. You know we’re being bombarded by the media, and the numbers and the prevalence and the new infections of this virus. And that it’s so contagious and the ways that it’s contagious, and what it’s doing to the human system, and you know, just all the red flags that it’s providing. There’s so much information about the virus.
When we talk about or switch the lens to the strength of the host, we have to be reminded that we have such a robust immune system. That we have so many innate mechanisms within our body that allow us to maintain our health equilibrium. And you know the scales are heavily weighted the other way, where there’s so much information about the virus, not so much empowerment about what’s going on with the host and the capabilities and the potential of the host. And so you know with my lens and how I like to engage with this as you know as really understanding that we have a robust system. Our immune system and what our body does for us is so intricate and there’s so many things going for us that we can still remember, about how we get to be. And learning the different tools as to how do we, how do we increase our immune system? Now that we have so much time availability, what are the strategies? What are the actions or the habits that we can cultivate now that allow us to strengthen the host.
Bryce: Of course, yeah.
Dr. Justin Tan: Right, and for me it goes back to Optimize, a life coaching certification that I did last year. We really focused on these fundamentals and energy. We have three fundamentals which is: eat, move and sleep. So what are we eating? How are we moving? And how are we sleeping?
And if we just focus on optimizing those three fundamentals, eating, moving, and sleeping, you know our immune system and our capacity to handle stress and our capacity to deal with these turbulent times increases immensely. And now is the time where we actually get to do that because you know, we are in our homes, we’re not really having other distractions …
Bryce: And we have a full pattern break, which is important for the mind, where we’re stuck in the, you know, automatic, you know do this, then this. And we just kind of go about our days. This ultimate pattern interruption completely feels like, I mean, it’s a familiar environment in the sense that it’s our home, but it’s a new landscape. Which, as you know whenever there’s a pattern interruption, it’s a great time to insert a new habit.
Dr. Justin Tan: Right, I love that. You know there’s this concept that we need a disruption for newness to occur. And so when we’re in this stream of thoughts, perhaps we go back to mindfulness and mental training, you know we have these things called ANTS; autonomic negative thoughts. And we can have a stream of them happening.
And sometimes we need a disruption for us to create an awareness of like, “Oh my goodness I was really just for, you know, five minutes just berating myself or berating that person or judging that person”. And you know, there’s a disruption that can occur where you just like, have a new perspective.
Bryce: I used to just go look in the mirror and go “BLAH” and then laugh at myself, where I was like, “what the heck was that?” But it would create a pattern interruption in my mind where it was just like, that was such a random moment. You kind of laugh at yourself, you’re like, “why would you do that?” But then you can then kind of interrupt and insert new beliefs and new patterns from there.
Dr. Justin Tan: My favorite one for myself is just saying to myself, “That’s interesting,” while having a chuckle.
Bryce: Yeah, I used to do that, a friend taught me that in traffic. If I was ever, you would just go, “Oh, isn’t that interesting?” And even if you’re angry, you’d be like, “isn’t that interesting?” And then when it pulls you out and it pulls you kind of into observer mode where you’re like, it is actually interesting because they’re probably going through something completely different when you’re looking at it from a lens of, of learning or learning about yourself, which we always are. I think that’s a pretty powerful way to look at it, in a new way to, as soon as you have a new observation or new perspective on things, that’s when your life can start to change, right?
Dr. Justin Tan: And so coming back to this whole experience we’re having right now, it’s like a huge disruption and our regular normal day to day activity. And so with that there’s fertile ground for us to be able to notice and, you know, have greater awareness and, you know, insert and kind of really be deliberate with what and how we want to be.
And I trust that people are seeing this as an opportunity, as a huge pause to really kind of do an inventory check of you know, “Where am I first and foremost of my level of joy, level authenticity in my relationships; my level of health and my caring for myself, and my fitness and the loved ones?” And really prioritizing these things because we get the opportunity to do that right now, and in doing so we strengthen the host again, you know, by creating and being more intentional with where our energy is going.
Bryce: Absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s a powerful time for many people, and to be mindful of the emotions that do come up, whether it’s anger or frustration, those are okay emotions, and what is that about?
What’s the focus of that and why are those emotions coming up? I think that’s very powerful, rather than just ignoring it. Because a lot of people feel anger, and frustration you know when they’re not in a pandemic! And why is that coming up then? Now’s a good time to kind of explore it, because we have the time to look, to look internally and to really delve deep into that.
Dr. Justin Tan: And coming back to, you know those, those old disruptors, like “that’s interesting.”
Bryce: Or going, “BLAH!”
Which, I think your strategy is a little bit more practical. You can’t just go “BLAH!” out in public. But sometimes I’ll just say it quietly in my head.
Whenever there was the mirror around, I would do it because it was a more powerful pattern interruption.
Dr. Justin Tan: I might choose to do the “BLAH” once in a while, just for fun.
Bryce: It’s funny at the very least, to get a really good giggle, and through that laugh and you can kinda disrupt from there.
Dr. Justin Tan: What I love about the “that’s interesting” thing, is that it sparks that curiosity as well, right?
You know “interesting” is innately based in curiosity, and that childlike curiosity is such an important mental tool to have so that when we are experiencing frustration, when we are experiencing fear or grief or doubt, worry, stress. And we say, “well that’s interesting”…like yeah, why? Why is that?
And we have an opportunity now to kind of do a little bit of a deeper dive into our internal world to see like, what is actually beneath the layers that’s not as just superficial as what’s going on in the external environment, but what’s happening in the internal environment. It just gives us that opportunity to peel back the layers slightly.
And not to say you have to do the whole gambit all at once, but it just creates a nice invitation inward to see where those seeds of emotions, of negative emotions, or lesser emotions are seated in.
Bryce: Cool. I love it. What would you say, just out of curiosity and more for my own benefit and well hopefully the listeners as well… but what do you, what do you think is your biggest learning throughout this last couple of weeks or month?
I guess it’s been almost a month now! Was it five… five, six weeks, maybe a little bit longer for you? ‘Cause I know you took back from my trip and were pretty deeply quarantined for about two weeks there. But what would you say is your biggest takeaway thus far? We’re not just through this yet,
Dr. Justin Tan: Oh, wow. That’s a great question, Bryce. I’m noticing what I identify my joy with, has been a huge awareness. And what I mean by that, and I kind of had this… this is like an extension of making a pivot a year ago in my career. But you know being externally validated by so many resources and so many communities, and just external influences is where a lot of my joy was being derived from. And when those things are gone, again there’s this disruption, it’s you know questioning — it’s like “Hey, where is, or where do I derive joy, where do I generate that joyfulness and not just authenticity, but that happiness? And do I even do it on an internal basis?”
Right? So this awareness, or this event, has been a great opportunity for me to be like, “Oh!” And on these days I’ve actually felt less joy and it’s become like getting these external validations. And so how do I start to create the patterns and the habits and the affirmations internally to, you know, make a robustness in my own experience?
So that’s been a really interesting process. Learning again, that you know it’s okay to give myself and allow myself to take a break. Being, you know, fortunate to have amazing communities and individuals to serve and be resources for. I’m constantly on the go, thinking about the next thing, how to serve better, how to you know create connection, and you know, be more creative and achieve better.
I’ve been able to like, kind of dial that down and just be like — hey, it’s okay to rest. It’s okay to not have to do anything in the moment; to pause and just be … simply. Play guitar for my own joy, or you know just to read for my own joy; to go for a walk and not have the next thing on the list.
And so really giving yourself that permission has been, really nice. And the third thing I would say out of this event was redirecting. Where is it that my energy is the most useful and where my influence can be the most effective? And you know again, coming back to the idea that I’m constantly looking how to be a resource outward. I was like, well in this time where health needs to be more robust for everyone, who am I serving in the moment that is my priority? And so I’ve taken it, for me to connect with my parents and make sure that, you know we’re moving way more often. This has made us all a little bit more sedentary working from home. You know, whether we’re on our phones or laptops, you know isolated into the confines of our home, a little bit more sedentary.
So you know, I’ve tried to make it a huge priority. It’d be like, “Hey Mom, Dad, let’s, let’s go move!” ‘Cause I know that I can be a resource for them, and if I’m making an impact with them it’s going to be the best for my future and their future as well. So those are the three biggest learnings for me so far.
Bryce: Cool. Cool. Do you have much of a mindfulness routine? Do you have something that you wake up in the morning, you meditate, or what’s your mindfulness routine like? I mean obviously it’s all about practice and consistency. What do you do to build up that consistency in your life, and try to make it a consistent habit? How do you keep to it?
Dr. Justin Tan: Yeah, great question. The routine that I have is… it begins first thing in the morning where literally the moment I open my eyes, it’s, “thank you” And that has been a huge shift for me, ‘cause a lot of times, you know what, how do we wake up in the morning?
You know, “I want to go back, I want to snooze.” I was like, “Oh man, it’s another, like another day, I gotta do all these things!” You know, there’s, you know there can be a stream of ANTS — autonomic negative thoughts — that you just wake up to. And I’d rather start my day with, on a positive note and gratitude.
Again, the power of gratitude is just… there’s so much science behind it, so thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And I just say that to myself. You know, deliberately, in-between thoughts that may be coming out, otherwise it’s thank you! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And it goes right into a breathing routine that I do in the mornings, while I’m still laying in bed in the comfort of my own bed. So I’m just, you know, really just starting to train myself to set that emotional or energetic kind of platform as to how I want to move into my day.
Then I always make my bed. As soon as I get out, I just make my bed. And you know you’ve — I’m sure you’ve read many of the same self-development books and have followed some of the same kind of influencers. But there’s this habit of making your bed, it’s like creating success in the morning.
Bryce: You can check one thing off your to do list right away. You did something hard. No one wants to make their bed.
Dr. Justin Tan: Right, and it’s you know for me it’s just my environment; I like it to be tidy. I like it to look nice and beautiful. And a clean environment for me is a clean mind. And so I would just tidy up my bed, make it how I would like to and I know that when I come back at the end of the day, I’m coming back to success as well.
So really it’s just kind of a book ending, the beginning and the end of my day as to what am bringing into my life? After I do my gratitude, or say thank you, breathing, making my bed, then it’s some sort of just like, embodiment. How do I get energy to move through my system? How do I get things moving?
We’ve been hopefully laying down or sleeping for up to seven to nine hours. And if we’re doing that, you know, I want to make sure that my body’s with me before I start to dive into my day. And so usually it’s something simple. But I go through a functional range conditioning series called Controlled Articular Rotations, and a little qigong practice along with some breathing, which has helped me get really intentional and deliberate into the first thirty minutes of my day. And then from there I just ask myself, “Hey, like, how am I doing?” Let’s check in. Right. And that’s just a nice kind of baseline, If I don’t get a good gauge as to how I’m feeling in the moment, then I don’t know how to serve myself in the moment.
And so I just ask, “Hey, how am I feeling right now on a physical, mental, emotional level?” And then what are the things I need to do just to kind of level up or just to be content and just like really be grateful for? All right. I’ve moved from there.
Dr. Justin Tan: Yeah. How about you?
Bryce: I have similar practices. I wouldn’t say that I’m as amazing at being grateful, right when I wake up. I’m a pretty positive guy.
I don’t have a whole lot of, what did you call them? ANTS. Yeah, and so I wouldn’t say that I have a whole lot, which ‘cause I’ve just been practicing mindfulness for a very long time, but I wouldn’t say the first words out of my mouth are, “thank you”.
But I usually roll over and I see Fiona, so I’m grateful right off the bat! But I need to start, as you start practicing, by saying thank you to her immediately, and I’m sure she’ll be very grateful for that. And we can both kick off our mornings pretty quick. But first thing I do is go pick up my baby. So it’s my responsibility to usually wake up Theo and change his diaper, and it immediately brings me just the most intense amount of joy. I can… that I literally just get tingles just right now.
So I start off my day with an intense amount of gratitude. I used to practice some Wim Hoff in the shower, but I haven’t been practicing as frequently. You’re still doing Wim Hoff?
Dr. Justin Tan: I still do cold showers.
Bryce: Yeah. Do you practice in it, or you do your kind of own breath work with that?
Dr. Justin Tan: I think you’re kind of forced to do Wim Hoff in cold showers (laughs)
Bryce: True. True. For those of you listening I’ll try to find someone … maybe I can bring Jey on and we can talk a little bit more about Wim Hoff. But Wim Hoff is an incredibly powerful technique that actually helps kill viruses within the body as well, which is interesting. But it helps immensely with your immune system and it’s a breathing technique and it’s practiced in the cold. That’ll be for a separate podcast.
But… yeah, just throughout the day, I’ve tried to practice mindfulness. I do float quite frequently, a little bit less so now that Theo’s around, but that was a consistent part of my life. I was going for a float. Probably four or five times a week. So there’s four or five hours of meditation a week that I was practicing.
And then practicing meditation in my home as well. Me and Fiona are frequently meditating and getting ourselves into the state of gratitude and mindfulness. So it’s really a throughout-the-day process. We’ve been practicing a lot more yoga here at home as well. I had some, as you know, shoulder issues that I’ve been working with and I had a neck surgery this year, so this year has been a little bit different in terms of movement on the body. But now I’m back in and consistently practicing yoga. So I think yoga and floating — which is meditation — and meditation has really continued and continues to boost my mindfulness practice. But really it is a you know, an hour by hour, minute by minute practice that you just have to catch yourself.
If you’re getting a little bit too far ahead of yourself or too excited, you can kind of just take a deep breath and come back to present.
Dr. Justin Tan: Thanks for sharing, man. What I really appreciate about the share, is that your joy that you get from Theo … so contagious!
Bryce: I literally feel it when I get in there and I just, oh man… So back when I was meditating every so often, in my kind of early twenties maybe twenty-one or twenty-two, I started meditating for half an hour in the morning, half an hour at night.
Super consistently for probably about a year and a half to two years straight. And I was reaching just incredible bliss, like literally whole body body orgasms — for lack of a better word — spiritual orgasms, I would say. ‘Cause I didn’t really even feel like I had a body at it at the time, and it was just immense gratitude.
So … I’ve been blessed to be able to bring myself back to that state. Usually just because of consistency of getting to that state, and now I don’t even have to do it, ‘cause I just literally grab Theo and it’s just like there’s a body rush of endorphins and dopamine and gratitude and he’s a very happy baby, which makes things a lot easier to love him.
So, my practice of gratitude is pretty easy. I just get the glance over and take a look at him.
Dr. Justin Tan: He is such a happy baby, and that is definitely some incentive to have children one day, for me as well.
Bryce: It is a pretty powerful experience, my man. And then having a partner as amazing is Fiona makes it so easy and I’m grateful for her everyday.
So the practice of gratitude comes easy. Well, it comes easy because I’ve practiced it, I suppose. I mean, you know, early twenties to just be grateful for things out of nowhere is…is not something that everybody does. But I really, really focused hard, and I would write out things to be grateful for on my wall and literally write them all down.
I’d write my values and where I prioritize family and friends and money and all these different things and really, really focused hard on that and now it’s become a little bit more of ingrained in me. But for those of you just starting out, that’s all it takes is just not being hard on yourself and just trying to be mindful and tie yourself back to your breath, and really all the things that Justin has talked about.
But I think a lot of people look at and they go, “Oh, I can’t meditate!” or “I can’t do these things.” But they just, they have the wrong misconception of what meditation is or what mindfulness is, and that it’s hard, or that it’s this thing that you need to do and achieve enlightenment when it’s not.
It literally just comes down to being aware of your thoughts. Yeah, back when I first started meditating, I would just literally sit there and I would just say, every time a thought came into my word, I would just say “thinking” to bring awareness to it. And so what I would do is I would sit there for half an hour and just say, “thinking, thinking, thinking.”
I was just constantly thinking, and I was about two weeks in and I was like, you know what? I don’t really feel anything. I’m just sitting here. Saying “thinking” over and over again and focusing on my breath.
And I felt kind of relaxed, you know. I was getting more and more relaxed as things went on. And then I was like, you know, I’m going to give it another couple of days. And I was probably about two and a half weeks in and it was just one moment where it was, you know, “thinking”, pause, “thinking”… and it was that little pause and I was like, “Whoa, that was really cool.”
And I, you know, I didn’t build up that I needed to get back to that state. I just continued to kind of get into this relaxed state and it continued to grow and develop from there, but it was, it just takes practice. So anyone that wants to do it, it could be five minutes, could be twenty minutes. It could be an hour in a float pod.
It could be two minutes. It could be one minute. If you just devote the intention of starting that up. And then it continues to kind of grow from there. And it’s a very powerful practice that leads into so many different things, and opened the world for me. I literally see the world in a completely different way through meditation and mindfulness and it’s been a powerful practice for me.
Dr. Justin Tan: And truly Bryce, like, it doesn’t have to be sitting.
Bryce: Yeah! You could be eating and being aware and fully feeling the senses and really enjoying the meal and tasting every bit of it. Or tasting wine.
Exactly. You know, one thing that you alluded to earlier you know, sommeliers are meditating when they’re, you know, they can taste the tannins in wine.
I don’t, I don’t know much about wine. I love wine, but I don’t know much about the specifics of it; what they’re really experiencing, the full taste of it really in the here and now in that moment.
Dr. Justin Tan: What you alluded to earlier is like that creative process of writing as well. And there’s something about that mind-body connection where it’s, you know, you’re noticing, you’re taking your thoughts and you have an attention and you know, just putting it down on paper.
That’s a mindfulness practice as well. And I love what you brought with the sommeliers to taste chocolate, or flour, or rose, or dirt in wine. It takes a very creative process to do so. But you know movement, meditation, you know, that’s what yoga is. It’s just being able to move and just be fully aware of what your body is doing and what your physiology is doing and what your emotions are doing and your thoughts.
That’s just the… that in itself is all just a practice of mindfulness and actually how I work with it with some individuals and clients is, instead of calling it meditation, I call it mindfulness training. ‘Cause training — just like strength training, right? It creates this connotation that it’s a practice.
I got to show up, to the dojo. I’ve got to strengthen it like a muscle. I gotta do the reps and as you were saying, it’s like when I just constantly show up and I see my gains, that pause between “thinking, thinking,” you can celebrate those… those wins, a little bit easier. So mindfulness training is — has been — a really nice term to kind of switch the lens on what mindfulness is or meditating is.
Bryce: Cool. So you were talking to me a little bit earlier about your transition, that’s kind of your career transition. Why don’t you tell me a little bit more about that? It’s pretty fascinating and I’m sure our listeners would be interested to hear about it.
So you’re working with the Property Brothers? I mean, not currently because I mean — you can’t be — but what were you doing just before the pandemic began?
Dr. Justin Tan: So I had a really amazing career pivot and an opportunity coming from, you know a traditional practice having a thriving chiropractic practice and a really great community to serve. I was also in Calgary teaching Rollox on a weekly basis, and the opportunity came about to work with the Property Brothers who are in the media and production industry. And basically they took me on after being introduced by a good friend as a health performance coach. And what that entails is well, is me leaving Calgary, leaving all of the established kind of connection and community that we’ve spent five years building and cultivating.
But, you know I just said “yes” and was very open to life experience and you know, it opened up a whole new arena to be able to build tools so that we can show up.
Individually within myself and also for individuals that really appreciate health and wellness. It’s been such a fun and fun adventure, and I’m super grateful for the guys and the crew and Linda for taking me on this adventure. It’s just a whole new learning experience where you get to explore how much I went up in the moment, and “how can I be of greater service?”
They brought me into Optimize, which is again the life coach certification that I’m doing and it’s just really a whole new different world I’ve been able to experience. So now I get to travel basically year-round. And just experiencing a life on the road providing help, performance tips and how to optimize the lifestyle. Again focusing on a holistic approach to it, to health and wellness and get to be a resource for, for some incredible — incredibly kind and generous individuals.
Bryce: Cool. Tell me more about Optimize. So now you’re, you’re providing coaching for people. What does that entail? If anyone’s interested in it and wants to know more?
Dr. Justin Tan: Yeah. So I highly recommend people looking into Optimize, or the founder Brian Johnson. He created philosopher’s notes. Oh you know, 12 years ago and it’s basically like taking the cliff notes versions of, you know, self-development books — you know traditional wisdom and self-actualization. And he’s done an amazing job of just being able to curate a library of knowledge.
And through that, he is now offering a coaching certification where we take what is the most evidence informed information, so the most current research and take that theory and we actually operationalize it. And there’s a framework where we actually focus on three areas, which is the energy, work, and love, which is kind of the fundamentals of all of our experience.
And how do we optimize those? And how do we show up as our best versions, and these three areas so that we can fundamentally be the most moral and virtuous individual. And so it’s been an amazing program of diving deep into ancient wisdom and traditions, combined with modern day science to you know live optimally in this new age that we get to experience.
It’s been super phenomenal and it’s been a part of my life for, I guess, the greater part of eight years and just a fundamental resource and easily accessible because of the way that they’ve been able to deliver information in bite sized pieces. Or if you want to do, you know, twenty-minute notes where you can just listen to one of the newest books on self-development and a mastery or you want to do like a master’s class? You want to do a coaching certification.
Bryce: Wow, man. Well, JT, I mean, I don’t know. I want to have you back! You’re going to be the second guest. I’ll bring you right back! I mean, this has been a phenomenal chat and we’re kind of running a little bit low on time and I appreciate your time.
Where can one reach you if they’re trying to get a hold of you?
Dr. Justin Tan: So on my social Instagram handles, @drjustintan and then my website is https://www.drjtan.me/ and that’s where the resources will be for Rollax and Optimize Coaching and real life experiences. Those are the best areas to find me.
I am happy to connect and be a resource for everyone and it’s such a privilege to be on a clear conversations with you, Bryce. This is so much fun.
Bryce: Awesome. Anyways, thank you very much JT, and we will talk to you soon!
Dr. Justin Tan: Such a pleasure. Thank you, see you soon!