“And so the idea of meditation, spirituality, was inherent in every physical activity. You brought the meditation into the physical activity and vice versa.” — Sanjay Rawal
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Sanjay Rawal is an award winning Documentary film director with “Food Chains” and “Challenging Impossibility“, with his most recent called “3100: Run and Become.” The film is about a 3100 mile race in Queens and the spiritual value of running. From Japan and Africa, Rawal points to various cultures that use running not simply as a form of exercise, but a way to reach enlightenment. He and Mark talk about the importance of understanding that the physical is an extension of your spiritual journey.
- The monks of Mount Hendai in Japan and their 1000 mile running challenges
- The Kalahari bushmen of Botswana and their form of hunting which involves chasing their prey for several days
- The ancient Long-Gom-Pa monks of Tibet, who had trained themselves to bound endlessly across the terrain
Listen to this episode to hear how many cultures use physical activity as a spiritual tool, exercise for your mind and spirit as well as your body.
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Hey Folks, Mark Divine with you with the Uneatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much or your time today. Welcome back. I have super-interesting guest. Sanjay Rawal with me today. We’re at Dodger Stadium where I was interviewing Joe DeSena of the Spartan Race and lot of other folks. Been just an incredible day.
And I… before I get into the interview with Sanjay, I want to remind you about our initiative this year to support vets who are suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress. So we are doing 22 million burpees–that’s a big, hairy, audacious goal. I need help. I can’t do it all alone. If I could I would, but it’s more fun with a team.
So we’re raising a team to do 22 million burpees. Go to Burpeesforvet.com. We’re already 8 million committed. We’ve raised over 150 thousand dollars. So we’re going to go all the way. burpeesforvets.com. Check it out. I need your help.
And the latest edition… the new edition of my book “The Way of the SEAL” is due to be published on Memorial Day, so go to wayoftheseal.com to check that out and also get a free PDF of all the exercises and journaling exercises.
All right. Sanjay Rawal… I just met Sanjay. He’s a videographer and a runner, I imagine? So I’m winging this cause I don’t have any prep here, but Sanjay is working on a project called, “3100…”
Sanjay Rawal. “Run and Become.”
Mark: “Run and Become.” And it’s based upon a 3100 mile race. Thirty-one hundred mile race. And also as part of this project he’s chronicling running cultures where running was not a sport, but it was done for spiritual development or spiritual practice. Like the running monks.
This is just a fascinating subject to me Sanjay. How did you get interested in this subject?
First of all, tell us a little bit more about the subject, because my fumbling intro did not do it justice.
Sanjay: Mark, it was a perfect introduction, because I think that we’re coming at this field of ancient practices from the exact same place. Looking at modern manifestations of these ancient ideals.
There’s a race called the 3100 mile race. The self-transcendence 3100 mile race, which was actually founded by an Indian spiritual teacher called Sri Chinmoy.
Mark: Okay. Not Native American, but Indian.
Sanjay: East Indian. The race has taken place the last 22 years in New York City in Queens. Around a half mile loop.
Mark: Why in Queens? I mean, it seems like this would be done out in the wilderness on some trail somewhere across the countryside.
Sanjay: That’s a great question. People have to run at least 60 miles a day for 52 days. And when you’re doing these multi-day races, one of the most important tools you can have to get into a zone is consistency.
So it’s like they’re circling this block over and over and over, but every half a mile they have all the aid they need. All the medical attention they need. Porti-sans. But at the end of the day, 3100 miles, it’s not about the physical body. No matter where you do it. It’s gotta be ab0ut the heart. It’s gotta be about mental control, and finding joy in what most human beings look at as excruciating pain or mind-numbing boredom.
And it’s the opposite of that. It’s an experience of bliss, it’s an experience of transcendence, and hopefully takes the participants a step closer to enlightenment.
Mark: Wow. That is amazing. And so throughout history there have been pockets of native… probably “native” is not the right word… but ancient cultures that have used running for spiritual development. What are some of those? And do they still endure today?
Sanjay: So our movie comes out in August in theaters. But making a movie about people running around a block would be the most boring movie in the entire world.
Mark: Yeah, that sounds pretty boring. There’s only so many images you can use.
Sanjay: Exactly. So we did go around the world to try to find the last few remaining cultures that do what we did 100,000, a million years ago. And that was literally…
Mark: We were born to run, by the way. Human beings were meant to move and to run through the woods, and to climb and we felt good.
Sanjay: That was the first form of religion. We prayed with our feet. We prayed with our breath. We learned to breathe in Mother Earth to step towards Father Sky. And we all did this.
San Bushmen of the Kalahari
But not very many cultures still are in existence that do that. so we went to spend 3 weeks hunting with the Kalahari bushmen, the San bushmen of this gigantic desert in Botswana that are one of the last remaining cultures in Africa that hunt 1, 2, 3 days at a time, and wear out animals. Get them exhausted.
Mark: No kidding. They just stay on them until they collapse, huh?
Sanjay: Yeah, like if you try to think about it, what was the advantage of ancient men and women in the Savannah? We were up against hyenas, lions, giraffes, wildebeest. And we weren’t physically better than any of them.
There were 2 things that we had an advantage regarding. Number 1, we stand on two feet, so our breathing isn’t coupled to our gait. If you can imagine, the elongation of like a horse stride. It’s when the legs are spread apart, the animal breathes in. But when the legs collapse together, the lungs are forced to expel air.
Our breathing wasn’t coupled to our gait. But secondly–unlike any other animal except a camel–we could carry water. So what we ended up doing was finding an animal that we wanted to hunt…
Mark: Hang on. You just blew my mind. So those 2 things… when you started that little dialogue, I was thinking, “Yeah, what makes humans different is that they had a brain. They could visualize an outcome, and they could create tools and hunt as team.”
All that’s true, but I never would have thought of breathing being associated with gait, but you’re absolutely right. That’s fascinating.
And that changes physiology. And it changes endurance, probably?
Sanjay: Exactly. So we’re talking about a time before there are any real tools except stones. You’re not going to be able to kill an elk with a stone, unless the elk is wiped out and you’re like 5 feet away from it.
So the idea was to carry a skin full of water…
Mark: Carry water and your tools…
Sanjay: And then you end up… you know where all the watering holes are. And you can track an animal expertly. So you chase the animal away from the watering hole.
It takes off at 30 miles an hour. You lose sight of it within 5 minutes. But you track it. You find it again.
Mark: He’s going away from water, which means his time is limited.
Sanjay: Yeah. So across one of two days you’re consistently chasing a single animal you’ve identified.
Mark: And they’re running.
Sanjay: They’re running. Jogging, walking, running. You end up over 2 days exhausting an animal. So when the 2 days are up–or when the day and a half is up–when you get close to the animal, and the animal can no longer run away from you, then you have the opportunity to kill an animal that even if it’s an herbivore–like a gigantic elk–it could still kill you if it charges at you.
But it’s so tired and exhausted that you could get within 5 feet of it and club it. You can throw rocks at it.
You end up killing it on site. If it was something as big as a giraffe, you don’t need to butcher it and take it back to your village. You send a runner back to the village, and the entire village moves to the site of the kill.
Mark: Comes and gets it, huh? Interesting.
Sanjay: So right now the Bushmen are not allowed to hunt anymore. The government discovered mineral wealth in their desert.
Mark: You’re kidding me.
Sanjay: And so hunting is banned. But we found a couple of Bushmen that are so passionate for their cause that they went on a traditional hunt with us. Made us film it. And at great risk to themselves–like, if they were caught hunting, they would have been shot by rangers.
Mark: Even if they didn’t kill the animal at the end?
Sanjay: Yeah. The rangers have a “shoot to kill” policy.
Mark: That is hard to believe. What country is this again?
Sanjay: It’s a black African country, but you see this around the world. Where the Western educated mind-set is so anti-indigenous, so anti-ancient. Like look in the United States.
They didn’t have horses until 400 years ago. People ran for transportation. People ran to hunt. People ran to trade. People ran as a culture.
Mark: You just sparked a memory of that really amazing movie, “The Last Mohican.” Where they were running. Running warriors. And that’s they outflanked and outsmarted the Red Coats were they? I think it was.
Sanjay: Yeah, you get your energy from the Earth. And it’s a very physical elemental form of worship. Where you’re sustaining yourself not based on nutrition. They weren’t taking 10,000 calories a day like the 3100 mile runners do. They were taking little bits of corn. They knew where all the watering spots were. But they were energized by their breath.
Mark: Right. That’s very yogic. I want to come back to that. It’s just fascinating to me.
Mark: What other cultures though have you seen? Ancient kind of practices have you seen in your journey?
Sanjay: We were fortunate enough to have access to a group called the Senichi Kaihogyo. In the West, they’re called the “Marathon Monks.”
Mark: I’ve heard of them. They’re Japanese, right?
Sanjay: Yeah, they’re based outside of Kyoto. And once every 12 years they pick a man or a woman to do 1000 days of running. Doesn’t sound like much. The thousand days are split into 10 100 day chunks. So each year they’ll do 100 days or 200 days.
The first chunk of 100 days requires that they do an 18 mile circuit on a single track, wooded pathway in sandals. Doesn’t seem like a lot.
At the end of their last 100 days, they’re up to 56 miles a day. But the stakes are as high as the can go. It takes a warrior mentality to even start this, because if you don’t complete your daily mileage, you’re forced to kill yourself.
No one’s killed themselves in 100 years because they’re a lot more careful on who they select. But that’s the stakes. And plenty of graves are strewn across this mountain of monks that have failed the challenge.
Mark: Really? So you have to commit ritualistic Seppuku essentially?
Sanjay: You’re given a rope and a knife. So you have a choice at that fateful moment.
Mark: You’re kidding me. And people go into this knowing that the only way out is for me to finish this or to kill myself.
Sanjay: And so we talked to them about that idea…
Mark: Reminds me of SEAL training, cause I went and said in order for them to get me to quit, they’ll have to kill me…
Sanjay: That’s the exact thing. They said, number one, that purity of consequence makes their tradition remain pure. The severity of the consequence keeps their tradition pure.
But number two, they said nobody enters in to the challenge thinking about suicide. Because the only way to get through it is to find deeper and deeper levels of joy,
But it keeps the tradition pure. It keeps the practice pure. And it prevents them from diluting what is eventually a transformative experience for one person every 12 years…
Mark: My mind is just like… I don’t even understand… Why one person every 12 years? Why don’t they do it every year? And why don’t they take ten people?
Sanjay: They require a series of challenges to get to that level. Number one, they make the initiates do 100 straight days, and they wear these Star Wars looking Jedi robes and they’re in bamboo sandals. So it’s like blisters galore.
So if you don’t make it through the first 100 days, you don’t have to kill yourself. You’re out as a monk.
Then they put you in a temple that’s probably 40 feet, by 40 feet…
Mark: So there’s more than one monk–new monk every 12 years. That’s just the pinnacle experience,
Sanjay: Yeah. They have a whole bunch of monks that join but they pick one out of all those who join to ultimately do this 1000 day quest.
And after they complete it, if they complete it, they’re considered in Japan as living Buddhas. Because they’ve gone to the edge of death. They’ve understood what it means to actually be mortal. They’ve seen the other side of the veil.
Mark: Probably easier ways to pierce the veil, I think, you know? 1000 days on the meditation bench might do it.
Sanjay: It’s true. But it’s that idea of looking like a rite of passage. Like, you guys focus on what’s a rite of passage between stages of consciousness. And when you get up to a level where the ultimate stage is enlightenment, the physical rite of passage is going to be more than just like a long run, or a hike. It’s going to be something that requires a decade of preparation, and–like you mentioned–the willingness from the participant to end their life in the pursuit of that goal.
Mark: That’s fascinating. So are there other cultures? There’s 2–the Bushmen and the running monks–both of whom have these insane lifestyles. What else have you encountered that’s out there right in front of our eyes but we don’t see?
Sanjay: So we spent a lot of time with a Navajo ultra-marathoner named Shaun Martin.
Mark: I’ve heard of Shaun, yeah.
Sanjay: He’s got a race called the Canyon De Chelly ultramarathon that he’s the director of. But he comes from a now pretty marginalized tradition of Native American elite runners. Most tribes relied on runners to be able to trade. To be able to pass messages. And so they would train those runners.
And in many tribes, those runners were expected to live a monastic tradition. To be celibate even. To be a vegetarian. And to be so connected to the earth that on a moment’s notice, they could run 70 miles… they could run 100 miles.
And so there are very few tribes that have been able to keep that tradition unbroken. And when they have they’ve kept it very secret. Because it’s one of the last things that they’ve kept pure and away from the capitalist colonizers.
Shaun’s dad’s a medicine man. And one of Shaun’s dad’s roles is to keep that school of Navajo running spirituality alive.
So we spent a lot of time with Shaun.
Mark: Does he have Navajo students? Or is he just trying to keep the knowledge of this past tribe alive.
Sanjay: Both. So his day-job is as the athletic director of one of the biggest high schools on the Navajo reservation. It’s at altitude. It’s at 5,000, 6,000 feet. They’ve got the most beautiful running trails in the entire United States.
And Shaun, and an organization he’s part of called Wings of America based in Santa Fe, they don’t see any reason why the next generation of champions shouldn’t be coming from the Navajo reservation. Or from the pueblos or those southwestern reservations. At altitude, where people are literally–like you said–born to run. They understand that running is the way you commune with Mother Earth. It’s through your feet.
Mark: That’s awesome. So let’s talk about the spiritual component. You mentioned that they’re taking in energy through their breath and through their feet. They don’t need to eat much when they’re running. What do you think’s happening from your point of view, your perspective?
Sanjay: You know, this has been one of the most fascinating concepts to me. That 3100 mile race was started by an East Indian spiritual teacher–Sri Chinmoy. And one doesn’t think of East Indians as running…
Mark: They think of yoga. Yeah, ashrams, right?
Sanjay: They think of soft arts. But that said, Tai Chi was given to China by a master yogi.
Sanjay: And so the idea of spirituality and physicality was at the root of East Indian and Buddhist philosophy. It’s only been in the last 400 or 500 years that that’s been separated.
Mark: Yeah, I’ve often said that. In fact, yoga has a very martial lineage, especially in northern India. And one of the oldest martial arts… I don’t know how to pronounce it… Starts with a “K”… Not Kapulanai, but something like that.
And when you look at imagery of people practicing it, it’s like a hybrid. One moment they’re doing a Down Dog, and the next moment they’re flying through the air, you know?
Mark: That’s pretty interesting.
Sanjay: This race is called the “Self-Transcendence Race.” And from an East Indian perspective, that concept of self-transcendence is the highest form of spiritual bliss. Elevating your consciousness, going upwards level by level in terms of your ability to understand and process consciousness.
But at the same time, I think East Indian and Eastern teachers use the martial arts as a way for people to understand that you could experience little bits of self-transcendence instantly through the physical. If you have a better workout today than you did yesterday, you get a taste of that joy. And it’s ultimately much easier to understand spiritual concepts if you’re also practicing them physically.
And so the idea of meditation, spirituality was inherent in every physical activity. You brought the meditation into the physical activity and vice versa.
Mark: That’s brilliant. I love that. Cause that’s what we teach at Kokoro yoga that all movement is a meditative practice when done with that intention. And with the alignment of the breath, and moving the breath, which moves the mind, which move the body, which moves the emotions and it all aligns and integrates. And I agree with you, transcendence is to begin to transcend the separation between feeling that you’re a physical body with a brain, with an emotional life to really appreciate that your consciousness exists independent of all that.
Sanjay: One of the reasons why I’m so inspired by the work that you do is it seems so obvious but people unfortunately don’t really take it as importantly as they should. You can’t live a happy life if you wake up sick.
Sanjay: And so conversely, the stronger your physical is, the more in shape you are, the more potential you have to achieve happiness.
Mark: That’s right. Peace of mind. So let’s define happiness. Happiness to me is peaceful.
Sanjay: And what’s more spiritual than the pursuit of happiness? The pursuit of peace of mind? And if you can get there faster by including this great tool of the physical body, why wouldn’t we?
Mark: I love that. You’re absolutely right, Sanjay. And said another way, if you’re broken or dis-eased. Because you’re out of balance. Health is homeostatic balance. If you’re physically out of balance then guess what? Your brain is going to be out of balance. And your brain is the executive agent of your mind. Your mind is how you experience and perceive reality. So if you’re physically unfit, then you’re mentally unfit. And if you stub your toe, then you have a brain injury, so to speak. I just had that conversation the other day with someone. It was blowing me away.
But there’s a lot of truth… it’s conflating a little to the objective, materialistic realm. But to think that if I stub my toe, or if I have a physical injury or a disease that’s the same thing as an injury to the mind. Because it’s my mind that’s perceiving that injury. And that limitation that’s preventing me from being a whole person in this moment in time.
Sanjay: Here’s a question I have for you, that I’m sure you answer over and over and over. But in the 3100 mile race, you could either look at it as a series of injuries, going from blister to shin splints to trauma.
Mark: Trauma to trauma to trauma to trauma…
Sanjay: How do you transcend that? What do you need to do to be able to understand that none of these things are actually problems?
Mark: Again, in my opinion–this is the way I do that type of thing–is to recognize that none of that is real. It’s a perception. Pain is perception. Injuries are temporary and the human capacity is… we say 20 times more. Someone just told me that it’s 100 times more, so we gotta up our game. And so if you have purity of intent and a mission to accomplish… cause I’m not saying that the physical body could perform forever and ever and ever and ever in an injured state. Eventually, you need to take time to recover.
But with 3100 miles, now we’re seeing… Wow. Nobody would ever really think that’s possible. To run for 3100 miles. Because like you said–you’re going to be injured. You cannot run that far without doing major trauma to your body, to your limbs, to your joints. And so the mind just has to create a new association with that pain to where that is not real. That’s perception.
My perception of reality I’m in control over. Right? And so I create a new relationship with that trauma and that pain, which is going to allow me to get into this transcendent state where all of a sudden it goes away and I make friends with it. And I’m able to keep going.
Sanjay: This is really beneficial to me, because the longest distance I’ve run was 6 days. And I got injured after about 15 hours. And I stopped for a few hours to rest, and stopping was so painful, that I realized that if I kept moving, I would feel better.
And so I stayed in the race. And I had a pulled hamstring. And after 4 days, the hamstring healed. I’ve pulled hamstrings before and they’ve taken 3 weeks of sedentary rest.
Mark: Cause you gave that hamstring a new reality. And your body/mind system said, “Okay. Normally, I’d stop and recover. But this knucklehead isn’t going to let me do that. He’s not doing that. So I better get my recovery game going, and heal on the fly.”
Sanjay: You nailed it. I’m like nowhere near what the elite, multi-day runners do, but the first day, I was at about 65 miles. Then I got injured. And I was doing 36 to 40 miles on a pulled hamstring. And it healed.
No doctor would ever tell you, “Go do 40 miles a day on a pulled hamstring.”
Mark: That’s against all conventional wisdom.
Pain as Perception
Mark: I tell this story about Hell week. Everyone knows about Hell week, but not many people get to experience it. There’s only a few SEALs out there. They’re not mass produced.
But over the years, there’s been thousands of guys who’ve gone through Hell week. Our experience is always a little bit different, but it has commonalities. One of the commonalities for me–six days, non-stop, round the clock–it’s not dissimilar to what you did. No sleep. And lot of micro-trauma going on. Little injuries and tweaks here and there, but you just ignore them. I have friends who ran on broken legs for 3 days. Full-on stress fractures. They just ran on them.
Sanjay: I believe it.
Mark: Just change your relationship with the pain and just kept going. But for me, by Thursday of Hell week–started Sunday, so now we’ve been going for 4 days, round the clock, no sleep–I started developing muscle mass.
I mean, I kid you not, I started packing it on. We were eating a lot and we were just constantly working, and my body just said, “Screw it. This doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to stop. I better start putting some…” And we got all this cold water we’re in… “I’m going to start putting some meat on this boy.”
And I was getting ripped. Because conventional wisdom would be like, “Man. At the end of all that, you’re just going to be like this broken down stick figure.”
Sanjay: Well see, the Bushmen said the same thing. They said that the human body is meant to run under stress. If you were only running to hunt–which is what you did–you weren’t hunting when your belly was full. You were hunting when you were out of food. And so they said the body’s most evolutionarily dependent systems of strength only kick in when you think your tank’s on empty. Mentally and physically. You get into a different physiological zone.
Like, we had to be able to run when we were hungry, cause if we didn’t run, we didn’t eat. So the body had to be able to run 60, 80, 100 miles on zero calories. On very little water. In the heat, and with the stress of having to feed a village.
Mark: So somehow there’s an adaptation that occurs… and it’s probably ketosis now in a modern context we say, “Well, yeah. Now you’re producing ketones. The severe deprivation of actual foodstuff. Macronutrients. Has forced your body into a ketosis.”
And that’s not affected–it may even be stimulated by the running. As long as you get water. You can’t do without water.
Sanjay: Right. When you said at the beginning the mentality of being a warrior is the key to unlocking a lot of that potential. You wouldn’t even get into ketosis. You’d curl into a ball with hunger, if you didn’t have a warrior mindset. “I’m going to go out and hunt for my food to feed my village” So that mental mindset is the trigger for all these physiological processes. I think you guys are at the heart of that, but it’s like Western society is not even close to understanding the power of that reality.
Mark: That’s really interesting. So did you grow up in India yourself?
Sanjay: My parents were Indian. They spent time in West Africa. That’s where I was born. But I basically grew up in Boulder, Colorado and Berkley. Not that exotic.
Mark: So you were an immigrant. Are you a US citizen and…
Sanjay: Yeah. I came here when I was 7 months at old at a time when it was really easy to get citizenship.
Mark: Right. Do you get back to India very often?
Sanjay: I do. I go back there regularly. And one of the things that’s fascinated me is looking at cultures that have been totally westernized. Like India pretty much is. And looking at spiritual traditions that people never realized were practiced.
Like in Tibet there was a running practice, called Lung-gom-pa.
Mark: I’ve heard of that, yeah.
Sanjay: And the monastery where it was developed is still there…
Mark: I think that’s what I was thinking about when I first heard the Running Monks. But it’s actually the Tibetans. And they’re more of a monk… where they all run together. At night, right?
Sanjay: Yeah. Their training was 3 years of deep Pranayama and yogic levitation. They would sit in lotus position and use their breath to elevate their body physically. By maybe use your hip muscles and you push your knees down, you might be able to go up, like, a millimeter. But by the end of 3 years of being isolated in caves doing this, they would be able to like, burst up a meter at a time.
Mark: (laughing) Holy cow.
Sanjay: And like when they were able to hit that physical standard, they were allowed to begin running.
Mark: From a lotus position, they were able to come a meter off the ground?
Sanjay: Yeah. That strength of breath. And complete control over physiology. And that’s what they used in running. So when people saw them–as late as the 30s and 40s–before the Chinese occupation wiped them all out. The people didn’t even recognize it as running. Like, people who’ve witnessed them saw them taking extremely long bounds. They weren’t running as much horizontal as they were vertical.
Mark: Didn’t look like you and I going out on a run.
Sanjay: No, but they were running effectively six minute pace. And they would do runs for 24 hours. But because they weren’t really rolling on their feet, in the daytime people noticed that they were running over boulder fields. They weren’t running on smooth ground, because their feet would touch the ground for such a small period of time, that they were mainly just springing, instead of plunging and rolling and pushing.
And so there are these traditions that we think of as legendary or as ancient, but it was a way of life.
Mark: Right. That’s my brain is trying to wrap around that. That is so amazing. The amount of discipline training it takes to get to that level. Like, how can an average person, in your opinion–for someone who wants to run more for the joy of it and the health benefits. Cause most people think running’s just flat-out painful. But my experience when I was younger–I don’t do a ton of running now–was it was really joyful. It was blissful. I would go out when I was in college and just go for miles and miles. And I would just have this amazing, amazing… and I would always run through nature, and alone. And it was awesome. It was awesome.
How can the average person..? What are your recommendations for people to start that experience?
Sanjay: That’s the key to the film “3100: Run and Become.” Because not everybody’s going to become… Nobody can become a bushman. Nobody can become a Navajo.
Mark: Very few people are going to become a running monk.
Sanjay: No. And people won’t want to run 3100 miles around a block. But the question is like… the answer I should say is that if you can feel that your practice of physical fitness is spiritual. If you can develop spirituality around it.
Not just doing it regularly, but consciously feel that it’s connecting you to whatever concept of the divine you believe in. And know that it certainly is if you believe in it. Then it becomes a lifestyle. Then it becomes a regular part of your life.
Mark: Yeah. You’re running becomes a personal, spiritual practice.
Sanjay: I used to run competitively. And I hated it. And I frankly really only got back into it since I’ve been making this movie. Because I finally realized I’m not running for times. I’m not running for achievements. I’m running for myself.
And not just for physical health, but I’m running because it helps me be happy. And once I decoupled outer expectations and inner satisfaction, I’ve been able to get a lot more joy out of it.
Mark: Wow. That’s fantastic. Very cool.
So the movie you said is out in the summer?
Mark: Okay. And when you’re not doing this, is there anything else you’re working on? What’s next?
Sanjay: I’ve been fascinated by Native American cultures. Not as an outsider or as like an anthropologist–because I’ve come across some stories that Native friends have wanted me to film. I’m working on a film right now called “Gather.” Which is about Native American food traditions. And the historical trauma of colonizers coming in and basically destroying food systems as a way to destroy people. Asymmetric warfare, right?
Mark: Get them sick, and take their food away, and then you’re good to go…
Sanjay: Yeah. Burn their fields. Kill their buffalo. But it was one of the biggest fallacies of this country thinking that it could destroy 10,000 years of agricultural knowledge and expect to create a new and better food system.
Sanjay: Thank goodness there are pockets of Native American folks who have kept that wisdom secret and sacred. And with their permission and their guidance we’re documenting aspects of it to help Natives around the country regenerate their food system.
And my own perspective as a non-Native is that it might take them 20, 30, 40, 50, 60… 100 years to gain food sovereignty. But until they do the rest of us living on what they call Turtle Island. Living in North America. We have no chance.
Mark: We don’t have food security.
Sanjay: We don’t have a chance. We’ve already destroyed the land.
Mark: Could go away in a heartbeat. One off with the lights moment…
Sanjay: We don’t know how to bring it back.
Mark: And the food gets looted and unless you know how to grow food, you’re screwed.
Sanjay: Exactly. So that film is “Gather.” And that’s kind of what I’m working on right now.
Mark: Well good luck with that. We’ll have to circle back and talk about that.
Sanjay: Mark, I want to thank you personally for what you do. I’ve been so inspired by your books. I’ve been so inspired by this podcast.
Mark: Thank you.
Sanjay: And I wish there were 10,000 more of you.
Mark: (laughing) Hooyah. And ditto that, Sanjay. Thanks very much for your time.
Guys check out 3100.film. I can’t wait to see this. This is going to be fascinating. Thank you Sanjay for your time. It was really nice to meet you.
Sanjay: I’m grateful for the opportunity, Mark.
Mark: Me as well.
All right, folks. Thanks again for listening. Super-appreciate you. We do not take it for granted here. We know there’s a lot of things vying for your attention and time. And the fact that you’re tuning in so you can be unbeatable. And live a better life.
Wow. That’s really powerful, and I think I’m humbled by that. So Hooyah. I’ll keep doing it as long as you keep showing up.