Yung Pueblo Diego Perez on Meditation, Going Inward, and Clarity & Connection


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Katie: Hello and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com. That’s wellness with an e on the end. And I’m so excited for this podcast episode because I am talking to Yung Pueblo, who is a pen name for Diego Perez, who’s a meditator and a “New York Times” best-selling author. He’s widely known on Instagram and all over social media from his pen name, like I said, Yung Pueblo. Online, he has influenced over two million people, and his writing focuses on the power of self-healing, creating healthy relationships, and the wisdom that comes when we truly work on knowing ourselves.

 

He has two books, “Inward” and “Clarity & Connection.” They were both instant best-sellers and I’ve really enjoyed both. So I was so excited to bring him on today and chat about his own journey and what led to his writing, and some of the steps that he writes about, and that helps kind of do that inner work, and start to let go of the inner burdens. So, very fascinating interview. I’ve learned a lot from him. I really, really enjoy his content, and I know you will too, so let’s jump in. Diego, welcome, and thanks so much for being here.

 

Diego: Thank you so much for having me, Katie.

 

Katie: Well, I’m excited for this conversation because your writing has been really impactful for me personally, but before we jump into the details of that, I would love to hear the story of how you came to the pen name, Yung Pueblo. I know your name is Diego. I would love to just hear the background of that.

 

Diego: Yeah, definitely. So Yung Pueblo means literally young people, and it’s kind of, like, upbringing together of my Americanness and my Ecuadorianess. So I was actually born in Ecuador and came to the United States when I was about 4 years old with my family. And I think it just really…one, it was a name that kind of just dawned on me randomly when I was signing onto Instagram, but then it took on a lot of meaning when I started meditating and I started realizing that not only am I growing as an individual, but when I look out at the world, to me, it seems like the fundamentals that we were taught as children, you know, how to clean up after ourselves, how to treat each other well, how to not lie to each other, how to not hit each other, how to share. These fundamentals, we don’t know how to do them as the human collective at all. So to me, it seems like humanity as a whole is very young.

 

Katie: That’s really beautiful. I didn’t know that backstory. And how did you come to the meditation side? I know you moved here when you were young, but how did you get into the meditation world?

 

Diego: It was pretty accidental. I grew up in a Roman Catholic background in Boston, but I was never really exposed to meditation. I actually learned about it through a friend of mine that I went to college with. He was traveling in India, and he was going through a pretty transformative period in his life. And it was funny because this was a friend of mine who I had partied a lot with, you know, I had learned a lot with, but we had never talked about, like, wisdom. You know, we would talk a lot about, like, philosophy, but it would never err on the side of, like, love and insight or compassion. But after he did his first 10-day meditation course, I was pretty shocked by his email to me and a few other friends where he was talking all about love, compassion, and goodwill. And I was like, “What the heck is going on?” You know, like I’ve known this guy for a bunch of years now, and I’ve never heard him really even utter these words. But that kind of hit me at a point where I was trying to really start my healing journey. And I had stopped, you know, doing a bunch of hard drugs, and I had started fixing my eating habits, started working out, but I knew that I needed to do a lot deeper healing. And when I heard that he enjoyed it so much, I was like, “I need to try that, too.”

 

Katie: Yeah. I have a feeling that will resonate with a lot of people, and I’ve shared some of my personal healing story and my past trauma story on this podcast before. And I think a lot of people, especially now, the last two years have been a beautiful nudge in that direction for a lot of people. And I think a lot of people are knowing that they need to make that move into that area of healing, and a lot of people listening to this podcast even are very knowledgeable about the physical aspects of health, and like you, probably have their diet pretty dialed in and their movement and all those factors. And I feel like the healing component can be a little bit tougher for one to get into if you don’t know kind of your starting point, and even meditation as well. I feel like a lot of people by now have heard how great meditation is, and they like it’s something they should be doing, but they either don’t know how to do it or they, like, feel like, “I can’t just sit still and think about nothing.” And I know there’s a misconception there. But what do you feel, like, is maybe, like, the jumping-in point for that journey, or what was it for you?

 

Diego: I think that’s a great question. What’s really fortunate about the time we live in right now is that there are a lot more entry points than before. So, you know, you can go as simple as, like, downloading an app like Headspace or Calm or something like that and learning a pretty simple technique and, you know, doing it through your phone, which I think is how a lot of people start nowadays. Or you can search online and find if there are any retreat centers near you and try to find something that just kind of meets you where you’re at and what you’re, like, willing to try depending on your own sort of mental conditioning, because there’s anything from, like, a few hours to day-long retreats or 10-day long retreats like the one that I did.

 

Back in 2012 when I did my first course, wellness wasn’t as abundant as it is now. And, you know, I didn’t really know about a lot of other options. But I was fortunate because that 10-day long retreat, the silent one that I did, it’s called Vipassana Meditation, it’s taught by S.N. Goenka, it was perfect for me. You know, I still do the same technique today, and I get so much out of it, and I know it’s not, like, for everyone, right? But that’s the beautiful thing about this like healing generation that is emerging now is that there is just such a wide variety of techniques for you to get to know your emotional history and for you to do a lot of that deep unbinding work so that your mind will eventually feel lighter.

 

Katie: Can you talk more about that, the idea of that unbinding work, and what that process looks like because I feel like for a lot of people it’s hard to even get over that initial hump of just stilling the mind enough to let the process begin to happen?

 

Diego: Yeah. You know, it starts with realizing how much tension there is in the mind because we don’t quite see how we have all of these narratives that we’re creating on a daily basis, but we also have these sort of old things that we’re carrying in our mind, really imprints from the moments where we reacted very intensely in the past with a lot of sadness or anger or whatnot. And a lot of us carry trauma. So there’s a lot that we’ve felt that is…you know, we may not be thinking about it on a daily basis, but the imprint of that feeling is deep in the mind. So to be able to do that unbinding work, you know, literally letting go, I mean, that looks pretty different for different people. That’s why some people will work with a therapist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist.

 

I mean, there’s just a wide variety…a large spectrum of what you can do. And for other people, you know, there’s meditating now. All these different techniques and formats and methods, they don’t all necessarily hit at the same space of the mind, but it really depends on, like, you know, what are you ready for? You know, can you be alone and silent for 10 days, be totally with yourself and just, you know, feel and accept whatever comes up? You know, if you can, great, do that because that’ll provide you an immense amount of healing. If not, if that feels, like, too much for you, then that’s totally fine. There are other entry points that you can access that can still help you do pretty substantial letting go work.

 

Katie: I’d love to hear a little more of your personal experience. I think a 10-day retreat might be difficult for most of the moms listening, but I’d love to hear what that was like for you. And were there, like, layers of inner work that happened throughout those 10 days, and maybe also some detail on what the techniques you used during that time?

 

Diego: Yeah, definitely. So, I mean, especially the first one, it’s incredibly difficult. And, you know, not only is it…yeah, it’s hard to get 10 days off, but it’s something where it’s a big investment in yourself now that, you know, this style of meditating, it doesn’t actually cost anything. You can go there, and at the end of the 10-day course, you can donate if you want to, but none of it is obligatory. So it’s just a place that you go to, and they have centers all over the United States and the world, and all they want for you is to teach you a technique that will help you be happier, which I think is just so wonderful, the selflessness in it. But, you know, tons of moms go. And often, you know, on the women’s side, there’s more women than men.

 

So people do end up making the time, you know, that big investment, but it’s deep because it helps you, you know, you go in there, and for the first three days, you do a technique called Anapana, which just helps settle down your mind. It helps you be aware of the natural breath, which is something that, you know, we’re all breathing all the time, but we’re not quite aware of it, and doing that can just help really concentrate your mind.

 

And then after those three days, you start doing Vipassana, which is just observing the reality that’s happening within the framework of the body. And by doing that, you get really in touch with the truth of change, which is quite a powerful thing to fully embrace, right? We all understand change at a certain level, but we don’t quite understand how immersive it is. It’s happening everywhere, at the atomic level, at the mental level, at the physical level, at the cosmological level. Change is happening everywhere. And a lot of our suffering happens because we’re rejecting change. So that’s something that is just quite transformative when you just get more comfortable with the truth of change, and you’ll find a lot of healing through that.

 

But, yeah, for my personal first course, it was incredibly difficult. But even though it was so difficult, I remember leaving there and just understanding so much about, you know, how I got to that point, you know, where I had taken some wrong turns and also just realizing this deep feeling of gratitude that it was okay, right? Even though I have all of these imperfections, and I made certain decisions that ended up cascading into really poor habits, that there was always this, like, point where you can, like, go back into your health, where you can go back into your wellness, where you can start rebuilding your happiness. And I just remember personally coming out and, like, feeling my mind so much lighter than before, and also developing that ability to just, like, pause. You know, not to just immediately react, but just take in the world, let me process what’s happening. How do I actually wanna show up as opposed to just reacting in old ways?

 

Katie: Yeah. And one of the things you just said really stuck out to me, which was that suffering happens when we’re resisting change.

 

Diego: Oh, yeah.

 

Katie: This is an important point I’d love to go deeper on because I hear from people sometimes, especially when I post quotes, even some of your quotes that I’ve posted about like kind of your inner state being your choice and having so much more control over that than we think we do. And I’ll have people respond like, “Oh, that’s great for you, but I’ve lost a child so I can never be happy again, or this happened to me, so therefore I can never be happy again.” And I think like that point that you just said really strikes an important chord. So I’d love to go deeper on that and hear maybe some of your own personal journey related to that, and also how that can be maybe practiced by others as well.

 

Diego: I’m so glad you asked. I think that critical point, especially the point of loss, right, something that I try to sort of walk through life with now is just understanding that everything I have now at one point or another, it’ll be gone. And I think sometimes we don’t even allow ourselves to really fully embrace that truth because it feels daunting, but there’s actually a lot of liberation in that, that when you understand that everything is eventually gonna go away, it kind of ignites this new ability to be present because, you know, the time that I spend with my parents now, I find it so precious because I don’t know how long they’re gonna be around. I don’t know how long I’m gonna be around. You know, so these moments that I have with them and with the loved ones and with my wife, I take them very seriously and try to be very present and give them as much of my joy as possible and try to bring harmony into the situations that I’m a part of because, right, we can’t control all sickness, we can’t control all these external situations, and sometimes really difficult things happen. And the loss happens.

 

And even though we’re not prepared for it or can never really be fully prepared for it because we don’t know when it’ll happen, we can at least sort of train ourselves to understand that everything is gonna change, and because everything will change, that will help us just accept the happy moments without becoming too attached to them, right? We’ll enjoy the happiness that we have now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone, and a difficult moment comes, and then we try to bear it as best as we can and deal with it skillfully. But at the same time, we won’t let it totally overwhelm us because we knew change was gonna happen and we knew change will happen again. So this tough stormy moment will eventually pass as well. So I think understanding change can actually help you love better in the moment.

 

Katie: Yeah. I’m reminded of a quote I say often with my kids is “Every storm runs out of rain,” but also I kind of butchered this with that paradoxical idea that pursuing happiness as a focus is actually this kind of a source of suffering, whereas accepting suffering and being present can ironically be a source of happiness when we aren’t fighting it. And I think, like, very often, at least speaking from personal experience, even when bad things happen, and there’s difficult outside situations or COVID, it was difficult for many of us, including me, it’s not actually the outside thing happening that is the source of my discomfort. It is my resistance to it and my judgment about it and my trying to control the things that are outside of my control. And I think often of Viktor Frankl, who I reread his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” every year, like he was such a beautiful example of that, of there’s so much we can’t choose, but what we can choose is our own inner state, our own emotions, how we show up for those in our lives. And that when we keep that as our focus, it seems to help the emotions attached to the other ones be a lot easier.

 

Diego: Yeah. And just to add onto that, I love that this is like this powerful wisdom that you’re, like, carrying with you because, if you really, really want to get into the nitty-gritty of what’s happening in the mind when a difficult situation occurs, right, someone does something to you or you…you know, whatever external situation pushes on your internal environment, at the end of the day, internally, the dynamic is that it’s your perception that’s pushing your own reaction. So all this stuff is happening in your own mind, and it’s your perception and your reaction that is then going to cause that rippling tension in your mind and potentially cause, you know, that hurt that you end up carrying in the long-term. And though that takes nothing away from the person who has caused you harm, right? They still cause you harm, of course, and they’re gonna have their own sort of repercussions from that. But ultimately, if your perception… Right. Your perception can actually help decrease a lot of the harm that comes your way.

 

And that’s one thing that, you know, it points to the Buddhist teaching, which I love that, you know, you kind of highlighted at was that the truth of suffering, right? And you can also define suffering as dissatisfaction, but dissatisfaction is there, right? There’s so many moments where things can be going extraordinarily well and still some craving or another arises for something more. And it’s like, “Wow, why can’t I just be happy with all these beautiful things in front of me? And I’m still craving for more?” Well, the mind has this trend of craving that, actually, if we let it run wild can cause us so much more suffering. So being able to understand that dissatisfaction, that suffering, it can actually help you be proactive to not let it get out of hand, and it’ll open the door to a lot of happiness.

 

Katie: Any tips for practical steps to learn to do that? Because I also understand that this is not a thing that you can just choose and then you’re perfect at it. And actually, this past week, I got to look kind of face-to-face with some of the parts of me that I’m still working on in that area, where I start each year with a 10-day fast, which is not actually for the body at that point, it’s a spiritual practice. And by the last two days, this time, it was really difficult, and I was fighting and I was seeing my emotions that I could normally keep very easily under control just kind of flare. And I actually love that mirror inside, but it made me remember like, “Oh, there’s still work to do here” because I can still very much be affected by these things, especially when my resilience is down. So for someone learning to be present and to remember those things, any tips for helping get the process started?

 

Diego: Yeah. I think one thing is that we have to be patient with ourselves. We have to realize that the way that our conditioning works now, it’s been created out of so many countless reactions. Like, we’ve literally been reacting our whole life, right, with either anger, or sadness, or more craving, or aversion, or whatever it could be, anxiety. So we have, you know, built these reactions over time through these pretty, you know, unconscious ways of dealing with our environment or what we’re feeling inside, but they accumulate. And to be able to move in a new direction, to be able to develop new characteristics or new ways of being, that’s gonna take a long time. So when you’re healing yourself, when you’re trying to develop a lot of personal growth, get ready for a long journey because it took your whole life to develop these certain habits.

 

So it can take a very long time to be able to really do that unbinding work and sort of really essentially train yourself to be happy and train yourself to show up in your most authentic way because oftentimes, we’ll show up in a defensive way, or we’ll show up in a way that is more aligned with how we used to be or how we used to feel the world like show up ready with this shield of our past traumas in a way. But to be able to show up as you’re like, “Okay, how am I actually feeling right now? How do I want to deal with this difficult situation now?” Well, that’s gonna take a lot of intention. So not only the intention of, like, training yourself to come back to the present moment, right? With or without meditation, you can train yourself to come back to the present moment because so often we’ll be, like, in these narratives and, you know, swimming with, like, some sort of tension or another, but then we can try to snap ourselves back and just refocus our energy and be like, “Okay, I’m here. You know, what am I actually trying to do, and, you know, how can I not continue fueling any of this fire that’s already happening in my mind?”

 

And the other side of that is set yourself up for success by learning some sort of technique or another. Like, whether you’re working with a therapist, whether you’re trying to learn some simple meditation or another, we’re all very busy people, but set aside a few minutes every day, you know, even a few minutes can be quite substantial, or setting yourself up to just like, you know, start cultivating a new type of mental habit that will…eventually, those small steps really do end up adding to a pretty big transformation over time.

 

Katie: And I think you’ve partially already answered this, but somewhat in line with that, like, what advice would you give to people who are just maybe recognizing they have this, like, heavy mental burden that they’re carrying, or that have, like, always thought of everything else as the problem, or like outsourced the reason for their unhappiness to someone else and are trying to kind of undo that pathway? What would be your advice to someone who’s just starting that?

 

Diego: Yeah. I think challenge yourself to have humility. I think it’s quite important because there are a lot of, you know, trauma response that I think happens in a lot of people when they’ve experienced a lot of trauma when they’re young. One of the ways they end up dealing with it is by externalizing the blame, and it’s never your fault, it’s always someone else’s responsibility for the way you feel. But taking that responsibility into your own hands, you know, even though people may have done really terrible things to you, if you’re constantly externalizing the blame, then you’re also externalizing your potential happiness. That means that the same way that’s someone else’s fault that you feel bad, then it’s gonna have to be someone else’s duty to make you happy. And already you set yourself up for failure there because that’s just impossible.

 

You know, you can have the most beautiful relationship, a wonderful partner, and at the end of the day, if you’re not igniting happiness within yourself, then that’s always going to end up dampening and sort of bringing this weight onto the relationship that it really shouldn’t have. I think a lot of relationships actually end up breaking under that weight of expecting your partner to heal you or expecting your partner to make you happy, when in reality, you know, it’s really up to you to be able to deal with your emotional history in a productive way and come out the other end so that you’re fully empowered.

 

Katie: Yeah. I think that’s so profound. And I think maybe the last couple of years of intense closeness have put many couples kind of in a pressure cooker of that. And I’ve heard from a lot of people and seen this play out a little in my own life as well like kind of that idea of trauma bonding, and that until you start doing this process, like the trauma in you and the trauma in someone else can work really well together until they don’t. It is like your traumas kind of interact, but then it’s stepping beyond that and letting your authentic selves actually interact and realizing that kind of, like, interdependence instead of codependence and not depending on the other person to complete you, but coming in fully complete and wanting to be with someone else is a different process.

 

Diego: Yeah. I think, you know, especially during this, like, pandemic arena, right, like that we’ve all been going through, especially for couples, I feel like it…one thing that my wife and I basically rather consciously and unconsciously started building was a system for how we’re going to handle when we individually feel difficult moments, like, inside of us, right? Because my wife, she’s an avid meditator as well. And when you’re a really serious meditator, especially the technique that we do, like it’s a technique for mental purification, so that means that there are gonna be sometimes when you just feel stuff coming up, you feel like anger or sadness or whatever, you know, old conditioning is there that’s starting to burn away at the surface. You may feel a little bit of that heaviness as you move through the day. And what my wife and I do is that we’ve noticed that trend where if I feel bad, my mind will automatically try to make it something else’s fault, right?

 

Like, even if I just simply wake up and I just don’t feel that great, anger or sadness or something will come up, my mind will still try to figure out, “Okay, how can I put this blame on her?” And similarly, she’s told me the same thing. Like, I love there was this one particular moment where she was, you know, working in one room and I was working in the other, and then she came in and she was like, “You know, I just spent the last few hours trying to figure out how this tension in my mind is your fault, and it has nothing to do with you.” And we just both laughed about it because that’s just this common reality where, whether it’s any type of emotion, whether it’s, like, joy or happiness, or whether it’s, like, sadness or anxiety, all emotions like to spread, they like to consume, they like to include other people. And that’s where a lot of narratives will end up running wild.

 

So what we try to do instead is on a daily basis, or whenever it comes up, we try to let each other know, you know, “Oh, I have a lot of anxiety coming up today, or I have a lot of, you know, just, like, tense feelings or anger coming up,” and just letting the other person know, “It has nothing to do with you, but just know, you know, that’s how I feel today.” And we try to also say it in a way where, you know, “I have anger coming up” as opposed to saying, “I am angry,” right? Because it’s a temporary thing. It’s not me fully identifying and saying, “I am the anger,” it’s more so, “Anger is passing through me.” I think that also…and that was also, like, kind of an unconscious thing that we kind of learned through meditating. But we’ve realized that we were starting to do that, but it makes sense with the training that we received through meditating. And I was like, right, because I’m not any one of my emotions, these are all just passing, changing phenomenon. So why attach myself to any particular one? But just letting each other know how we’re feeling and also reminding ourselves that this is a changing situation, it’s helped a ton with our personal harmony.

 

Katie: I think that’s such an important statement about not attaching the word, I am, to anything that you actually want to identify with. I think that is so profound and it seems so simple, but makes a huge, huge difference. And that’s one of the things I tell my kids a lot. And I don’t say that…don’t use the words, I am, to say something that you aren’t or that you don’t want to be that’s in the positive because your subconscious listens very closely to those words. And just like if my kids say, “I can’t do something,” I’m always encouraging them, “Put the word yet on the end.” Like, our language is so important. You know, like our subconscious is constantly listening, and I’ve realized in my own trauma journey in processing that, I was largely…my subconscious was responding to the questions I was asking and the statements I was making. And when I learned to ask myself better questions and make more positive statements, my subconscious started responding differently.

 

So as a very simplistic example, when I used to say like, “Why can’t I lose weight? Why is this so hard?” My subconscious was like, “Oh, well, you can’t lose weight because six kids and thyroid disease. And let me give you all the reasons, and this is why it’s hard.” Whereas when I shifted that to like, “How can this be so fun, or how can I love and accept my body even more?” My subconscious was like, “Oh, let me show you. It’s easy.” And so I feel like those little things like that that seem so simple can be so deeply profound. And it also makes me think…I don’t know if you have kids yet, but I feel like these are all foundational habits that I’m learning as an adult and many of us are learning as adults. And with my kids every day, I think like how can I impart some of these things to them early? And especially right now with my youngest, I hear her make statements about how she’s unhappy because someone else did something else. And I’ve been wondering like, “How do I help impart these foundational skills and help her understand that she has more power over her happiness than her friend made her mad today?” And I know it’s different with kids than with adults, but I’m curious if you have any insight there.

 

Diego: Yeah, I think… No. So I don’t have kids. My wife and I are thinking about having kids in the near future, but one thing that immediately popped up is like, if, you know, someone’s telling you about a difficult thing that happened in someone doing something that they didn’t like, right, something unwanted happened, you could ask them, “So what was your reaction to that,” right? And it brings it back to your own sort of like, “How did you personally respond to that?” And not just, like, even using the word respondent, but, “What was your reaction?” Because reactions often are impulsive and teaching that…you know, literally trying to teach them, “Okay, there’s, like, this impulsive side of you, but then is there also…you know, how would you have intentionally tried to respond to it if you had given yourself a little bit more time?”

 

But both of those questions, I think, bring back a person to their own power. And I think that’s great that you’re developing that because that’s something that I found happening with, like, my small community out here, you know, between me and my wife and our other friends who live out here who are also serious meditators where we’ve all kind of developed this lingo of not…you know, totally being aware and owning and honoring how we feel, but not allowing ourselves to just completely identify with every single emotion that we’re having, right? We’ll try to observe it as opposed to be it. And they’ll also have that same lingo where it’s like, “Oh, I have a lot of stuff coming up today.” And, you know, knowing…you know, and stuff can be like general, right, some sort of tension or another, but because we’re all speaking in this type of language, I think it just makes it so much easier for all of us to know, “Yep, this is just another temporary thing that one of us is feeling.”

 

And it’s also a signal where, like, if one of us doesn’t feel good, right, the rest of us will try to be pretty gentle towards that person, or like, “How can I help you? Like, you know, do you need anything today?” So that we can help the other person pass through whatever mini-storm or another that’s occurring. But building that type of culture, that intentional culture within your community actually helps everyone so much.

 

Katie: And as a little bit of a side path, I’d love to hear how all of this…I’d love that we get to go deep into kind of your own work on this, how this turned into a writing career because you’ve become a best seller. And I really love “Clarity & Connection,” which just came out pretty recently, I think. But I’d like to hear your story of how that began.

 

Diego: Yeah. It was pretty…I think I just never saw it coming to be so, so honest. Like, I thought I was gonna have either a career in organizing and social activism or in finance as I was really thinking about going into finance for a while because I grew up really, really poor in Boston. And I, you know, feel very devoted to my parents and trying to, you know, help them come out of this cycle of poverty. But when I was sort of, you know, figuring out where I was gonna work, and when I moved to New York City with my wife, you know, she ended up finding a job very quickly, but I felt really intuitively that I need to give myself a chance to write. I remember after the third 10-day course that I did, I just felt my intuition kind of just telling me so clearly, you know, write. You know that you don’t know everything, you know that you’re still on your way, you’re not fully wise, you’re not fully healed or anything like that, but just write. You know, share a little bit of your journey, share different things that you’re understanding because…you know, encourage other people to heal, to heal themselves. That healing is even possible.

 

Because I remember…right. This is back in, like, 2012, 2013, and to me personally, at that time, I was like in shock and awe that healing was even possible. I grew up in a way where, you know, whether you had some physical illness or some mental, you know, situation that was happening, that you had it for the rest of your life, and you just had to deal with it. That’s how I grew up, and I was pretty surprised by that. So when I saw that real changes were happening in my mental state, I was like, “Whoa, is this real? Like, can this really be happening that I actually feel better and through meditating that this is happening?” And I wanted to write about the fact that healing was possible.

 

And that’s kind of how it all started. You know, after my intuition gave me that push, it really took me about another sort of year and a half to actually start, you know, very intentionally writing, developing my voice as a writer, and putting my things out there on Instagram. And then over time, it just started taking off. I think I started around 2015, and it was about 2017, 2018 when it really started getting bigger.

 

Katie: And can you talk a little bit about each of your books and the premise of each just so people can have a starting point to dive in? I also highly encourage you guys to follow him on Instagram. I’m constantly reposting your quotes because I love them. But talk about the books a little bit.

 

Diego: Yeah, definitely. So I only have two books out right now. I’m working on a third one that’ll come out later next year. But my first book is called “Inward,” I-N-W-A-R-D. And that book is mainly about personal development. It’s about trying to really develop a lot of self-awareness so that whatever your healing journey looks like, right, because your healing journey is gonna be pretty unique to you, that you can conceptualize yourself in a different way. That book of personal transformation, I think it’s really reflective of, like, personally my writing period between 2015 and 2017. And that was, like, a pretty foundational point in my life where I, like, you know, started meditating every day because I had before then, you know, for about two and a half, three years, I was going to retreats, you know, a few times a year, but I hadn’t yet quite started meditating every day. And I think, you know, there’s a lot of, like, talk about strong determination, things about like, you know, trying to build consistency, build new habits in that book that sort of reflect, you know, me trying to, like get it together in my daily life so that I could really get this healing journey underway.

 

And then I ask myself, you know, what happens after you sort of stabilize your healing journey and it’s well-founded and you’re continuing, you’re making progress, how is your life affected? And for me, it felt clearly that “Clarity & Connection” was next because I was noticing that in my life, you know, I felt like I had a lot more mental clarity than I had before. And automatically and very naturally, that clarity was enhancing and deepening my connections with other people, whether it was friends, family members, or with my wife. And that’s where “Clarity & Connection,” my second book, really came from.

 

And “Clarity & Connection,” it does have a lot of pieces that are still about personal transformation. But it has, you know, a bunch of pieces about friendship, about intimate relationships that really try to focus in on how your personal healing will profoundly and positively affect your relationship. And a lot of these pieces were actually constructed during the pandemic, during that first wave, where my wife and I were just really kind of testing out everything we had learned up until that point to see, like, how we can continue trying to understand each other at a deeper level, how we can, you know, use any conflict that comes up to try to really honor each other’s perspectives, and to really try to see, you know, like pretty, you know, define in my book these systems that we’ve been learning about how to not let any narratives run wild and cause any unnecessary arguments. We try to put that all together in “Clarity & Connection.”

 

Katie: Like I said, I highly recommend them. I’ll make sure they’re linked in the show notes if you guys haven’t checked them out so you can read them. They’re wonderful, deep, easy reads. And I really, really thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

 

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You also mentioned that previous or before your meditation journey, you had already done a lot to improve your health. And since this podcast focuses a lot on the physical side of health as well, I’m curious what some of the ways are besides meditation that you support health and wellness in your life?

 

Diego: Oh, yeah. I love health so much. So I think back then, and just to, right, like when I first, first started knowing that I needed to make some big changes in my life, I remember superfoods were so popular and like up and coming, and just talking like 2011. I think one of the first things I did was get this, like, big tub of barley grass, and I owe so much to that tub of barley grass because back then I had very little nutrition in my diet, and I was totally unaware of that. But when this new nutrition started coming in, like I felt so energized than ever before, and it helped me, you know, start going to the gym and start just doing all these hard things that I really needed to do for myself. But nowadays, I’ve really been getting a lot from Mark Hyman’s “10-Day Detox.” That’s something that I’ve been following. I try to follow pretty rigorously and especially with like the morning shake, like that’s, like, my go-to thing where, you know, I try to have a shake of like collagen, spinach, blueberries, cauliflower, cacao powder, hemp seeds, and water and hemp milk. And it’s pretty simple, but it’s, like, super nutritious and just, like, gets the day going.

 

And, in general, I’ve just been kind of figuring out, you know, trying my best to not really consume caffeine because I’ve actually noticed that, for me personally, it just totally zaps my energy. If I like start drinking coffee and I get into the loop of drinking coffee, then I’m gonna be so dependent on it. And I know, you know, a lot of people out there love their coffee, and I’m just talking about myself personally. But when I get off of it, I have so much more energy after a few days of like my system kind of resetting itself. But generally, you know, we try to just focus in on how we’re eating because that just always feels like the biggest component of health. Like, I love supplements and I love…you know, recently, my wife and I were gifted a sauna bag, and that’s just been, like, the coolest thing to have because you immediately feel how your body becomes less inflamed, and you come out of it happier and it’s wonderful. But then at the end of the day, if you’re, like, not eating in a way that really suits your body and is really like bringing up your nutrition, then it’s hard to like…you know, supplements can’t really fix that.

 

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve said that before. You can’t out-supplement a poor diet, or a lack of sleep, or a lack of sunshine, or all those other things we need as human, animals. I love that. Those are great tips. And also I love to ask…obviously, you have your own books which have influenced millions now, but other than your own, if there are books or a number of books that have had a profound impact on your life, and if so, what they are and why?

 

Diego: Oh, yeah, totally. One of my total favorite books is “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse. That book has just, like, really changed my life, and it also helped inspire me to find my own voice as a writer because Hermann Hesse’s…his writing is just so lyrical and so beautiful that, yeah, it was just a big source of inspiration. That and another book that he wrote, “Narcissus and Goldmund,” that book is absolutely beautiful as well. Also, if you’re into the Buddhist teaching, I would recommend this book by Bhikkhu Bodhi called “In the Buddha’s Words.” It’s a big book that has a lot of selections from the sutras, which are, like, scriptures about the Buddhist teaching. And they’re really valuable to read because a lot of times we’ll, like, learn about the Buddhist teaching kind of second hand from someone else, but learning it from the source is, like, critical, and also learning it from monks is, like, really valuable because they really know what they’re talking about. And I think…oh, and “Sapiens.” If you haven’t read “Sapiens,” that’s, like, a really, really important go-to. Also “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari is also really great.

 

Katie: Awesome. I’ll link to all those in the show notes as well. And as we wrap up, any parting advice for the couple hundred thousand people who are listening to this that could be related to anything we’ve talked about or something entirely unrelated?

 

Diego: Yeah. I think, you know, just don’t be discouraged by the long journey. Like, when you’re really trying to heal yourself, when you’re really trying to deal with your emotional history, you can find some technique that meets you where you’re at, right? You want to try to find something that is challenging but not overwhelming. And you’ll be able to find that special sweet spot for you that helps you deal with, like, old emotional baggage that you may be holding onto, but at the same time, doesn’t do it in a way where it just…you know, too much comes up and then you kind of wanna stop the process. So when you find that sweet spot, you’ll see that you’ll, you know, start getting results, but just don’t expect a total 100% transformation immediately because oftentimes we’ll be so attached to the speed of society where, like, you know, like society is just like, everything is just so fast nowadays that we try to project that speed onto our personal healing, but it doesn’t work like that. It really is a long and slow journey, and it’s okay that it is because, you know, you get a lot from it and it’s totally 100% worthwhile.

 

Katie: I love that. I think that’s a perfect place to wrap up. And I know you mentioned you’re working on a third book, so maybe we can do another round when the third book is available, but for now, I would encourage you guys, check out Diego’s books that he already has out and his Instagram. They are absolute gold. And thank you so much for your time today. It was an honor to get to chat with you.

 

Diego: Yeah. Thank you so much, too, and I have to tell you, my wife is the biggest fan. I’ve been hearing about you for years. So when you reached out, I was like, “Yeah, we definitely gotta talk to Wellness Mama because she’s the boss.”

 

Katie: Oh, that’s awesome. Well please tell her I said hi, and thanks for listening. And as always, thanks to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us both today. We’re so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

 

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.





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