Inner Reflections
March 8, 2021
Episode 1

The Beginning

It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 months since my last podcast release. Many of you have been messaging me, “Travis, what’s up?! When are you going to release another episode?”

Well, I’m back, and ready more than ever to dish out thematic talks with inspirational stories, practical takeaways and daily wisdom.

Oh, and we have a NEW name for the podcast. Be Ultimate just became DARE TO AWAKEN, and in this episode you’ll find out why!

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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “Dare to Awaken Podcast.”]

Welcome to episode number one of the Dare to Awaken podcast. This is your host, Travis Eliot. And it is a pleasure and an honor to have you here for the very first episode.

So the last episode of a podcast that I did for the Be Ultimate podcast was about seven months ago. I think it was August 2020, right in the middle of a crazy, wild year. I mean, personally, I had a baby — well, I didn’t have the baby, but I was the father of the baby. Lauren, my wife, had the baby. And we also moved. We moved from one place in LA to another place in LA. We launched Inner Dimension Academy, which is like the sister to Inner Dimension TV. Inner Dimension Academy is where we are going to release all of our online yoga and meditation teacher trainings. Produced a new series called “Transform” on Inner Dimension TV with many other amazing instructors, and just got done actually filming a brand new epic program for Inner Dimension TV that’s going to come out later in the spring. And you will hear more about that probably on this podcast and on social media very soon. And just a few weeks ago, we celebrated our daughter’s one-year birthday, which is hard to believe. And just recently, she went from crawling all over the place to standing to taking a couple of steps. And now she’s just walking around the whole entire house like she owns it.

So it’s been a crazy year with the move and all that, and there’s a lot of other things in the works for 2021, 2022. But I had to refocus on priorities, and one of my priorities is this podcast. And I feel like it’s a little bit of a labor of love. It takes a lot of time and energy and money to produce this. We don’t have sponsors right now. We’re doing everything based off of, really, you guys donating to the podcast, which is pretty cool, especially given that my background as a yoga teacher for so many years, for 15 years, was teaching donation yoga at Bryan Kest’s Santa Monica Power Yoga.

And part of the holdup, too, was also moving and figuring out where am I going to film this thing? And I always had the vision when we moved that I would have an area where I could have a little film studio. And those of you that are watching on YouTube right now you can see it a little bit. You can see that back room is actually our practice room where we practice every morning. We do our yoga and our meditation. And then this area is actually our office. Those of you that are listening to the podcast, you can check out my YouTube channel, and you can see what I’m referencing. But visually, we have lights. We have some lights. So we upped the production value, visually. And we also have a new mic, so the audio is hopefully better.

So I figured, you know, if we’re doing all this shifting and it’s been seven months, why not start over, and why not redefine this podcast? So I decided to rename it. I decided to evolve from Be Ultimate to Dare to Awaken. And I’m going to get into some of the reasons why I decided to do that.

But Be Ultimate really came from this word that inspired me greatly in the last decade, especially 10 years ago, almost. Hard to believe I filmed a yoga program called The Ultimate Yogi. And ultimate inspired me because it means the best imaginable of its kind.

But that was 10 years ago, and things have changed. Things have evolved quite a bit these last years as I have as a teacher and a father and a husband and a human being and a student. And this idea of “Dare to Awaken” has been in the back of my head. Honestly, I thought about a book title being called Dare to Awaken.

And then 2020 hit.

And of course, we went through the pandemic of COVID-19. We’re still going through that in many parts of the country and the world. We really got confronted with the issues, the blaring issues of systemic racism in the United States, and of course, in many other parts of the world, it’s prevalent, as well. We also had a presidential election in 2020 that was very intense and very prolific and unprecedented in so many different ways that eventually led to a mob that stormed the US Capitol. I mean, we are living in wild, unprecedented times, and we are also seeing a complete breakdown in many, many different systems; politically, economically, financially, within the healthcare system, within the prison and incarceration systems, the food systems. A lot of issues are being exposed, and now these systems are crumbling, are being destroyed as truth comes out.

And in a way, this is a very healthy process because we don’t want to live a lie. We don’t want to live in an illusion. And so part of the breakthrough comes from the breakdown. And whether you like it or not, we’ve been moving through one challenging experience after another, after another, after another.

And I believe that we are all put on this planet to awaken. I believe that we are all put on this planet to grow. I believe that we are all put on this program to give back as we grow. Whether that growth comes physically or comes financially or comes spiritually, we have to take what we acquire and what we gain and what we accumulate, and we have to give it back to others.

So right now, there is two paradigms. You have this old paradigm, and the old paradigm is fueled by division, separation, greed, lies, ignorance, delusion. But then we have this other paradigm, and this is this new emerging paradigm. And it’s been there for many years, but it’s been growing and growing in momentum. And this new paradigm is fueled by connection. It celebrates diversity. It’s about oneness and generosity and goodness and truth and awakening.

So I keep coming back to the goal. The goal of the ancient wisdom traditions is to awaken. Awaken is similar to become enlightened. But enlightened’s a little bit of a loaded word. I love this word awakening better than enlightenment.

Now, despite what you might hear in the news, despite the negativities and the challenges that I just laid out, there are also staggering, staggering amounts of acts of love and compassion and kindness that are happening right now in this very moment all around the world. More people than ever are practicing yoga, meditation, eating healthy, and living a lifestyle of positivity and transformation. But you’re not going to see that on the news.

The media, very often, doesn’t profit off of positivity in the way that it does negativity because things that are alarming hijack the reptilian limbic part of the brain, and we take notice, and we become addicted to that. And we have to consume that over and over and over again. And the people in power, they know this, and they will manipulate the masses by these fear tactics.

So, again, awakening is about becoming aware and conscious of these things that are happening externally but also happening internally.

Now, I want to share this with you from writer, author Howard Zinn who wrote this in The People’s History of the US:

I keep encountering young people who, in spite of all the evidence of terrible things happening, also give hope. There are hundreds and thousands working for the good everywhere. To be hopeful in hard times is not just foolishly romantic; it is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we only see the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places, and there are so many where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending the spinning top of a world in a different direction. The future is an infinite succession of presents. And to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Wow. So much power within that passage. So much power within this because we do see so much turmoil going on around us, but we get to choose. We get to choose which path we’re going to take. We get to choose which paradigm that we are going to align ourselves with. But right now, these two paradigms are in conflict with each other. The old paradigm will inevitably lead to our demise. The new paradigm ensures hope for generations to come.

Dare to Awaken is about moving beyond the illusion of separation. And yoga – this is called Maya – it’s this veil where we believe that we are separate from each other, that we are separate from animals, that we are separate from nature, that we are separate from this planet. And when we feel this separation and when we’re dominated by Maya, what happens is we suffer. We’re miserable. We’re unhappy because we’re just feeding our ego, and our ego begins to imprison us. It begins to enslave us. And before you know it, we are so lost within that ego, we are so lost within that illusion of separation, we can’t find our way out.

So to awaken is to move beyond the limitations of our ego. To awaken is to recognize that no amount of outer technology will solve our problems. We can all move to Mars with Elon Musk, but we’re just going to carry our same problems with us when we go to a different location.

So the transformation has to happen from within. We have to awaken beyond these unconscious patterns that pollute our minds and that contaminate our hearts. The time to awaken as a global species is now. Now is the time to choose courage over fear, love over hate, generosity over greed, connection over division, light over darkness, oneness over separation. We have a choice, and that choice is either to evolve or to perish.

Now, I am hopeful that we will make an evolutionary leap. I’m hopeful that we will feed this new paradigm more and more and more and that it is here to stay. It is amazing that you can turn on the TV, that you can watch a national sports game, and in the middle of the commercials, you see a commercial for a meditation app. That is wild. It is amazing the amount of people now, all across the world, that are practicing yoga. The yoga community has expanded. Mindfulness has expanded. This is the new paradigm, the paradigm of awakening.

Now, whether it’s a yoga program or a meditation class or this podcast, my mission, my attention is always the same. And it’s to help folks all around the world to dare to awaken, to awaken that you are more than just your thoughts. Isn’t that liberating? Isn’t that freeing?

So the next time you think that thought or you hear that voice, that inner critic that says you’re not good enough, you don’t belong here, you’re not worthy of being loved, you’re fat, you’re stupid, whatever it is, to just be aware that you are more than your thoughts?

There is a deeper dimension to you than the comings and goings of these thoughts. That you’re more than just your emotions and your feelings. So that when you get angry, when you feel the fury or the frustration or the negativity, those are normal emotions, but they don’t define you.

But we get entangled within our thoughts. We get ensnared within our emotions, and we think we are the thought. We think that we are the emotion. We think that we are the physical sensation. But just like thoughts and emotions, your sensations come and go. And nothing, nothing that comes and goes is who you really are. Those things are temporary. They’re impermanent, what the Buddha called anicca. And who you are is pure consciousness itself beyond the comings and goings of fleeting phenomena.

Can we dare to awaken? Can we awaken to that realization? This is the path of spiritual awakening.

Now, recently, Lauren and I were watching this show called Long Way Up with actor Ewan McGregor where him and a friend of his ride electric Harley motorcycles from the tip of South America all the way up to Los Angeles. And Ewan McGregor, famous for his cult classic Trainspotting and going on to do movies like Moulin Rouge and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, tells his beautiful story in another journey that he took called Long Way Round.

And in that adventure, they were somewhere out in the middle of Mongolia, and they had just been moving through days and days of horrific conditions. The roads were muddy and dirty. The bikes were falling. They were falling. They were barely making headway. It was just awful conditions. And eventually, they came to a fork in the road. And one path could take them out of Mongolia and into Russia and would make life way, way easier. The other path was the path that they had already been on and would be more of the same. And after some long, deep soul-searching, they decided not to take the easy way out. They decided to stay the course.

And as they continued down that same road, after some days, they ended up at a Mongolian orphanage. And it was heartbreaking because here were all these kids, many of them that had been completely abandoned. And there was one girl in particular that really stuck out to Ewan McGregor and his friend Charlie. And it was this little, beautiful, sweet girl of two years old named Jenna. And she had just been abandoned by her parents, and she had only been in the orphanage for a couple of weeks, and she was like a deer in headlights. Can you imagine what was going on in her head and the sadness and the despair that she must have felt just being in this new environment with all these strangers, and not knowing how she got there?

And she made a big impression on actor Ewan McGregor. Eventually, they finished the trip. And when he got home, he was just haunted by thinking about this girl over and over again. And so he decided to adopt her. And it took him about two years doing the paperwork and the interviews, and eventually, he was able to legally adopt her and bring her to the US.

And he tells his story, and he says, “Had we have taken the easy way out, I never would have met Jenna.” Tears rolling down Ewan McGregor’s face. And then here she is in this latest documentary, a young woman, and he just can’t imagine a life without her.

And I share this story because it’s not always about the easy path. Again, I believe that we are here to grow. And how do you grow? You grow through struggle. You grow through moving through challenges. You grow through moving through things that test you to the very core of who you are. Maybe that’s why, on a global level, we all have been moving through one challenging experience after another. Can we have the courage to dare to awaken?

Tolstoy says, Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” We want to control. We want to control what others believe. We want to control what others think. We want to control people that we’re in relationships with. But you know what happens when you try to control others. It never goes well.

This podcast is about controlling the things that you have control over yourself. It’s about going within. It’s about, again, working with that inner transformation and working with that inner technology that the ancient wisdom traditions have practices for.

And throughout these episodes, we will explore different themes and different practices that you can bring into your life. So this isn’t just something that you’re listening to, although that has value to it. But there’s also key takeaways so that you can transform yourself. And then naturally, by transforming yourself, the world around will begin to transform.

As Dante, the great master poet says, “A mighty flame follows a tiny spark.” Focus on yourself. Be the tiny spark, and when all of these tiny sparks begin to combine and to bring their collective energy together, then that mighty flame begins to blare. Then it begins to illuminate. Then it begins to awaken.

So never underestimate what’s possible by purifying your own mind and liberating your own heart. I want to finish with a last quote by the Persian poet Rumi, who writes:

You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You’re not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.

So I look forward to flying with you every week here on the Dare to Awaken podcast. Again, each week, we will explore a powerful thematic talk filled with stories, practices, daily wisdom to live that life of growth, fulfillment, and deep meaning. At the end of every Be Ultimate podcast, we’d finish with a prayer, and I’d like to do the same here.

So if it feels right for you, as long as you’re not driving or on a treadmill, bring your hands to prayer position. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing and stay safe.

May we bring strength where there is weakness. May we bring courage where there is fear. May we bring compassion where there is suffering. And may we bring light where there’s darkness. May we dare to awaken.