This is an excerpt from Finding Mastery #135 in which actor, producer, and comedian, Michael Rosenbaum, shares why mindfulness matters to him.
Michael Rosenbaum: The key is being present. I mean, everyone talks about that and I didn’t understand what that meant. People forever have said, “Just be present. Be in the moment.” And I remember even as a child, even today, going to Disney World with my family and having the video, the camera, the camcorder and filming everything and my uncle said, “Michael, you’re missing the whole trip. You’re recording everything.” And I feel like that spoke volumes to me. I just remember him saying that and he’s a psychologist. But, regardless, it was a good point, he was like, “Just be present, enjoy-” and I think that’s what everybody does now. I think with their phones, no one has the connection and it’s hard.
Michael Gervais: Should we kill selfie sticks?
Michael Rosenbaum: Huh?
Michael Gervais: Should we kill them? We should kill selfie sticks.
Michael Rosenbaum: Maybe, I think we should. You know what? I just find that it’s like even a moment, if you’re lost in it and you’re filming everything or you’re taping stuff or your Instagramming, just be mindful in saying, “Hey, I’m going to take this much time each day and just be present.”
Michael Gervais: How do you do it? So, what is your work right now?
Michael Rosenbaum: You know, I wake up every morning. I don’t feel fulfilled unless I wake up and I meditate and for me, with ADD, I need some guided meditation and I hit this app, it’s so simple and it’s 15-20 minutes and I just … even when you start thinking about, “Oh my God, I’ve got to do this,” I get brought back into something, my breathing or sounds, or whatever it is. Almost nothingness, just being here and my dog, I can hear his little collar bell and I go, “Okay, I hear that, I’m present. I hear some trees, the leaves.”
Michael Gervais: So what you just said, it took me a long time to figure that out. Which was, so when the dog rings, many people, myself in early days, was like-
Michael Rosenbaum: That’s a distraction.
Michael Gervais: “God bless it, I can’t.” Like the dog-
Michael Rosenbaum: “I can’t focus.”
Michael Gervais: Yeah, right. But that’s the moment of awareness, like I’m aware of
that and then I have the choice.
Michael Rosenbaum: Yes.
Michael Gervais: Do I want to go further with that or bring it back to, I don’t know, whatever I was focusing on or the intent of that 15 or 20 minute meditation. So, that’s a big time awareness. That is the skill of awareness and refocusing, which is you just have to practice it.
Michael Rosenbaum: Yeah, my mind will go, “It’s okay.” In fact, this woman who is speaking in the meditation is like, “It’s okay for your mind to drift into thought. Thoughts are not the enemy.” And I’m like, “Okay, yeah,” and then I start thinking about the ex and you know, oh my gosh all these things that happened and then I just go, “Okay, that’s enough thinking of that. Let’s go back to the breath.” We acknowledged it. It’s fine. I’m not being punished for thinking and I get back to just this space of like, “Hey, let’s be here. Let’s be now,” and for years I think growing up in Indiana, a small town, sort of bible belt.
Michael Gervais: What was the name of the town?
Michael Rosenbaum: Evansville, Indiana. Newburgh, Indiana. But Evansville, I think a few years ago, was ranked the number two most obese city in the country and number five in depression, so I’m doing really fucking well, Michael.
Michael Gervais: Yeah.
Michael Rosenbaum: Yeah, but if I was kid and someone said, “Mindfulness, meditation,” you’d get the shit beat out of you. Or even now, people you talk about … like I go home and I have some good friends there, so I’m like, “Yeah, meditating.” They’re like, “Man, what the hell is wrong with you? Meditating?
Isn’t it amazing how you say, “Well, screw that. I’m too tough for that. I’m too cool for that. That’s hippy shit,” or whatever it is, people think that. It’s like this, “I can get through. I don’t need therapy. I don’t need anybody. I’m a man,” and then you realize you’re not. You’re not that tough. Or no matter how tough you are, you need some help. You need some guidance. You need some presence. You need to kind of be grounded. You need to figure shit out because we’re all going to the same damn place, man.
Full podcast available here.