007: Ryel Kestano - Transform yourself, your relationships, and the world

Ryel Kestano is Co-Founder and Senior Course Leader of ART International, also known as Authentic Relating Training. Prior to co-founding ART International, Ryel oversaw all training operations at the Integral Center in Boulder, a world-renowned leader in transformational workshops. He is also the co-founder and visionary behind Virtuance, one of the largest providers of real estate photography in the world, and the co-founder and visionary behind Pink Mammoth, one of the Bay Area's largest and most successful creative arts collectives. Ryel has four beautiful kids and lives in Boulder, CO.  I caught up with him after his return from the Summit LA18 Conference in Los Angeles to discuss ART International and all of the great work they are doing for individuals, groups, businesses, and even, prison inmates.  We talk about their approach to bridging the divides that are so prevalent in our world today through their process of developing ways to relate and have deeper connections with each other in a truly authentic way.

About ART International:

Our Team

We are a team of experienced and passionate facilitators, leaders, coaches, entrepreneurs, and volunteers dedicated to the practice of authentic relating and the production of authentic relating trainings. We're committed to bringing about a world of healthy, conscious, connected, revealed, enlivened, and intimate relationships, with both self and others.

We live and breathe this work in our own lives, and have watched ourselves and each other radically transform toward greater and deeper connection with all those with whom we're in relationship. 

From breakthroughs in intimate partnerships to profound connections with absolute strangers (who rapidly become friends and allies), we've all seen how hugely impactful and immediately applicable this work and practice has been. 

If you’re interested in working with ART in any creative capacity, get in touch with us anytime at info@authenticrelatingtraining.com.

In this episode we talk about:

  • What’s it been like, launching an organization like his in a world that’s becoming more disconnected and tribal

  • How we perpetuate disconnection and sidestep our authentic selves

  • The amazing work they’ve been doing with inmates in prisons all over Colorado that is changing lives and making a huge impact

  • The 5 Practices of Authentic Relating and how they work in our daily lives


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Ryel Kestano: 00:00:00 You know, I really just want to encourage anybody listening to consider the quality of their relationships to themselves, to people around them as well as to "the other side, the other tribes", you know, there are groups of people that they don't have much in common with and, you know, consider the invitation and calling to see what it would like even just as a thought experiment to explore having deeper, more, vulnerable and transparent and heart centered relationships with those people. Welcome to the vitalic project podcast where you'll learn how to find your own voice in a world filled with noise.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:49 I'm Gabe Ratliff. I'll be your host as I sit down with fellow artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to learn more about their work and how they serve others so that you can tap into your creative purpose and live a life that's drawn, not traced. All right. I'm stoked. Let's get to it.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:01:10 Hey guys. Thanks for joining me on this episode of Vitalic Project. This is episode seven with Ryel Kestano. Ryel is co founder and senior course leader of ART International, which is also known as Authentic Relating Training and Ryel and I go way back. I actually sold him when I was a buyer for Bart's, in Boulder, Colorado. I actually sold him his first records and he has gone on to do some pretty amazing things since. He's a serial entrepreneur. Before he started ART International, he oversaw the training and operations at the Integral Center in Boulder, which is a world renowned leader in transformational workshops and, which is very akin to what they're doing now. And before that he was the co founder and visionary behind Virtuance, which is one of the largest providers of real estate photography in the world. And shortly after I met him, he co-founded Pink Mammoth, which is one of the bay area's largest and most successful creative arts collectives. And he's got four adorable kids.e's, He still lives in Boulder, Colorado. Like I said, we've been a longtime friends and it was just a really great opportunity to get to catch up with him. He just got back from the Summit LA18 conference in Los Angeles, so we sit down and we discuss his new business art international, which is just absolutely fascinating what they're doing. I love where he's, where his he's come and the arch that he's taken from when we first met. During our conversation. We talk about the great work that they're doing for individuals groups and we dive in later into some work that they're doing with prison inmates and that is really starting to take off and it's really making some waves and I love it and we talk about their approach and how they bridge the divides that are so prevalent in our world today through their process and their focus is around developing ways to to to relate and have deeper connections with each other in a truly authentic way. Some of the other key points that we talk about are what it's been like launching an organization like his in a world that's become more disconnected and divisive and tribal and how we perpetuate that disconnection inside step our authentic selves, which this week specifically is very relevant with our momentous midterms that we've, we've just had. So her midterm elections that we just had. So, it's pretty powerful stuff to be having a conversation about this as we're in the midst of some pretty, pretty phenomenal change. And then we talk about how we perpetuate that disconnection and sidestep or authentic selves. And finally we talked about the five practices of authentic relating and, and how they work in our daily lives. And he leaves some really Nice breadcrumbs throughout the conversation for you to take with you and really think about ways that we interact with each other or don't in our daily lives. And in no matter where we are. He even talks about a game that he plays when he's on a plane. And the invisible barrier that we can sometimes set up when we're on planes sitting next to strangers. And it's, it's pretty fantastic. So, I hope you enjoy it. I surely did and I'm really interested in, in diving a little deeper and what these guys are doing and I'm seeing how that can personally affect me. And I hope you'll do the same. All right, let's jump in.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:13 Ryel, welcome. You are here. I am so, so, so excited to have you here brother.

Ryel Kestano: 00:05:21 Right on. I'm excited to be here. Thanks for the ask and looking forward to our conversation.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:05:26 Yes sir. Me Too. Especially with what you do. I thought maybe just to kind of kick us off here that, you know, maybe you could just fill us in on. I kinda like the Cliffs Notes. I'd love to get for the Vitalic audience, what, what's the Cliff's Notes of your life? You can go back as far as you want. We can get as I, you know, keep it as high level as you like, but I mean, we met, I sold, you know, some of your first records in Boulder, back when I was a buyer at Bart's, and you have done a lot since then and so I just thought, you know, mean pink, mammoth, a ECODater, Virtuance, the Boulder Integral Center. And then now with art. So I just thought maybe you just kind of take us through a little little chronology of your life the last several years just to get us started.

Ryel Kestano: 00:06:20 Try to keep it brief, the background bios. I was born in the UK in London, and grew up in Switzerland and then New York City. So I had a very kind of, you know, by national international upbringing. My Mom's, from Kansas, my dad's from the Orthodox Jewish world in New York and London, so I had a very kind of hybridized upbringing and exposed to a whole spectrum of different cultures that actually has been of great service, in my adult life. So I'm grateful for that and yeah, I just bounced around a lot, went to boarding school in England, college in Connecticut, worked in the hedge fund world in New York City after college and wasn't too long before I realized I hated that. And moved out west, you know, like the whole classic of go west young man and sought my fame and fortune out here and a first bounced to Colorado back in, let's see, 1997, uh, in my early twenties and had a blast out here in Colorado. Just fell in love with the whole culture and a community and the outdoors and all that good stuff. From here, then I went to a Los Angeles and went to graduate school for creative writing at USC. Spent some time as a writer. I got a book published, and then, uh, got into Buddhism of all things and went over to Asia and lived in Central Asia for a period of time studying Buddhism and then came back from that back to Colorado actually and lived up in the mountains for a bit of time. And then, from there got into music and deejaying that brought me out to the Bay area and spent, an amazing couple of years out there. Got involved in the Burning Man community. And that's, yeah, that's kind of where we dovetail and it's exactly right. I bought my first records from you and it's a total trip that here we are years later doing this now. Yeah, it's been a wild ride since then. Uh, I've lived in the Bay and met my now ex there. We moved to Colorado and made a bunch of kids. I've got four kids together and been more or less based in Colorado ever since, but, spent a bunch of time now traveling for, the work I'm doing now in teaching authentic relating around the world. And yeah, between doing that work and parenting and spending time outdoors here in the local area, a got a pretty full life. We also have a nonprofit branch that teaches work in prisons. That's another, a big endeavor that I've been really committed and committed to and passionate about. So I would say that that's it in a nutshell.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:09:03 Big Nutshell.

Ryel Kestano: 00:09:04 Yeah, it's a big nut.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:09:04 So, you know, we're, we're definitely going to get to the prison work. I'm really excited to hear more about that from, from you directly, but I, I thought maybe we could start with telling us about ART, authentic relating training. I'd love to hear, you know, what that is and you know, that's been about a almost two years now, right? That's been going on

Ryel Kestano: 00:09:37 About a year and eight months or so since we officially founded the company. Uh, and yeah, I had, I'd been a student of it, a very dedicated student of, of the practice of authentic relating for number of years and it had experienced profound transformation of a kind that I'd never even known possible let alone experienced myself. Uh, I was just seeing extraordinary, a deepening of my relationships both at the personal and at the professional level and very quickly realized, at least in my world, that this was the kind of social technology that addresses a lot of the breakdowns and divides and, um, wounds and pain points in today's world. And so, um, I kind of tucked in the back of my mind to wait for the right opportunity to launch our own vehicle for bringing this work as far and wide as possible. And so that time came last year when I met my fellow co founder, right? I had already known him, but we just had an opportunity at that time to coalesce our respective interests and passions and bringing this work further out. And so we launched a art international, uh, authentic relating training international, uh, it may of last year and it's just been an absolute whirlwind ever since. And, uh, we're really validating how hungry people and communities are for the practice of authentic relating and authentic. Relating in a nutshell is a set of skills and tools designed to cultivate deeper, more conscious, more intimate, more vulnerable relationships between human beings across the spectrum of social domain, from the workplace to home life, uh, to, you know, interacting with strangers, uh, and travel and everything in between.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:11:29 Well, so there's plenty to dive in here. So one of the things I was wondering is, you know, what, what is this last year and seven, eight months. What does that been like, getting that an organization like that off the ground and then your co-founders. That's Jason, is that right? Jason Digges.

Ryel Kestano: 00:11:49 That's right. Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:11:51 What's that been like for you?

Ryel Kestano: 00:11:54 Well, you know, I've been a long time serial entrepreneur, so, you know, I'm not a stranger to the process of starting from scratch and turning an idea into a full scale operation. And in fact that's what I love more than anything is that, you know, nascent stage of taking something that just exists in our minds and hearts and the building an entire, you know, infrastructure and, and team and company to convey and transmit that idea out into the world. It's where I feel most alive, it's where I feel all of my skills are called into being an action. Um, and so I love it and you know, it's definitely obviously very stressful at times. Plenty of breakdowns along the way. Many mistakes. Um, but, uh, I love the process and uh, you know, I think we really hit on a particular frequency and, and a particular business model that I think is really relevant in today's world. And what's awesome is that our demographic, our target audiences, everybody, we don't have any restriction around a particular demographic that we serve. I mean, if you're a human, you're designed to be in relationship and connection with other humans. Uh, and I would say the radical, vast majority of us never got the kind of education and, uh, participate in a conscious relationship. And so we're really filling in that educational gap by providing what we think is a really potent and readily accessible, a set of skills and tools that are designed to have people both participate and a guide and lead their own relationships into a deeper connection.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:13:45 Wow. Yeah. That's not that big of a thing. Yeah, it's just mind blowing to me how just, you know, to be on a similar path myself, wanting to, you know, share stories of, you know, people like yourself, um, you know, and, and even to share my mission in the midst of this, of sharing your mission, you know, like it's this very meta thing, but it's also, it's just so amazing to me that you can start a business like this that is not only just so relevant, but it's also a, it goes beyond just being relevant, right? It's just, it's something that's also so necessary in today's time where we're filled with such distractions and, you know, it's so easy to get you feel connected because we have this global capability of connection with through social media and the Internet. But as studies keep showing, you know, the, the, the, the deeper we get into the interwebs, the more disconnected people are getting in. And one thing I loved about, um, something you mentioned on your questionnaire for this show is that you talked about people are becoming more tribal and it's becoming harder and harder to break these barriers down across. You know, people that are living in these same silos and in these tribes it's great that people are, are, are becoming tribal in certain ways, but it's also creating these even deeper seated silos. I would imagine, um, that, like you said, it's just, it's something that's part of the challenge of doing something like this.

Ryel Kestano: 00:15:40 Yep, exactly. You know, and I don't know exactly what to attribute that kind of, uh, increased isolated tribalism too. I think obviously technology certainly plays a role, uh, and you know, there's definitely a lot of talk out there with the kind of algorithms that underpinned these social platforms that encourage a, what we call the echo chamber and reinforcing people's already beat us those perspectives on what's happening and, and you know, at the expense of being exposed to alternative and oppositional view points and value systems. And I think we're, you know, I think that's one function. I think it's also happening in the traditional educational paradigm that we're losing the value for teaching critical thinking and to be constantly coming from a place of questioning our own beliefs and finding the gaps, finding the holes, finding the places that were basically wrong about how we see the world and giving us an opening to ask the questions of ourselves and each other to fill in those gaps and to get a more rounded, comprehensive, synthesized a perspective on big issues that we're facing in the world. I mean, I'd like to think that really nobody's right and nobody's wrong. We all contain a part and portion of the overall picture and so the more people that I can engage with that genuinely curious about and really get to the root of how they see the world, the more of those missing pieces I can start to fill in a and the broader, more expansive is my a perspective on what is happening and I think that's where the most effective effective solutions come from is when those solutions are tailored and designed to meet both the values and the concerns of different kinds of people. Coexisting and living side by side, and what we're seeing now I think is, um, you know, and narrowing and a constraining of people's, um, scopes of view and perspectives. Uh, and so, and a lot of the system is set up to encourage people to think how they see the world is the right way and how other people see the world is the wrong way. And yet we're all coming from that, you know, sort of, uh, you know, false way of seeing things where we all think we're right and the other side is wrong. And then, you know, when challenged we have to defend our perspective and our way of seeing things. Um, and that's the breakdowns that we're hearing and seeing. And, you know, you certainly see that, for example, right now, I mean today is election that midterm elections. And, uh, you know, I, when I, for example, looked at my facebook feed and I see, you know, many people from my community, just hurling a incredible degrees of vitriol and, and, uh, you know, name calling and, and judging of people who they disagree with and now, and I know that's happening on the other side as well. Um, I don't see how that's going to ever guide us towards a common solution that addresses and gives attention to our different respect of a values needs, uh, and, and, um, you know, the ways that we function and see the world, you know, again, like if I can take somebody who disagrees with me as oppositionally as diametrically oppositional, he to me as possible, is there still a way that I can find my way to seeing the world through their eyes and validating and legitimizing that perspective. And when I've done that, I noticed that the attachment to my own view starts to soften and dissolve and expand and then I can hold more. And, uh, and that's been my own trajectory. And, uh, my views have definitely changed and expanded over the years. Particularly since I've been implementing this practice of authentic relating and in, you know, the kinds of dialogues that I want to have with people. Can you, could you have an example of one, one or two ways that your perspective has changed? Sure. I mean, you can take any of the hot button issues that people are talking about today. I mean, immigration for instance, is a big one, right? So, you know, generally speaking, people who trend to the left end of the political and cultural sociological spectrum, uh, once more open borders, more porous mess, uh, easier access for a immigrants to come into the country and they recognize the value that different perspectives that different immigrants from different backgrounds can bring and add to the overall mix. I'm a diverse mix of who we're coexisting with and how we solve some of the problems that we're facing collectively. And you know, I definitely recognize and celebrate that value. And then on the other side, you know, those people who trend more towards the right end of the spectrum want more security and safety and you know, more of a process for people who come into the country, uh, to go through to vet, you know, their motivations for coming and to ensure that we uphold common, consistent values associated with our American way of life and American culture. Um, and I, I recognize and see that value as well. And so, you know, where is it that we can synthesize these different values into a common solution that doesn't favor, you know, or reward one side over the other because you just constantly going to be disenfranchising the other side. So, you know, I, I really want to support people and you know, softening and setting aside their own rigid perspectives on how things should be to learn and, and, um, and ask, you know, ask questions and learn from the people who have oppositional perspective and let's see through that kind of dialogue if we can arrive at a solution that addresses everybody's concerns.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:21:52 Yeah. Hear! Hear! Yeah, I agree. And I actually heard, um, I heard a comedian commenting on how we just continue to just kind of play tennis back and forth with our two primary parties and how, you know, it's, it's, it gets bad with one and the other one stands up and gets it back, which is what's currently, you know, what a lot of people are striving for today and literally today. Um, and, uh, it, it, it is, that's something that I constantly think about myself, is that we just continue to, I, I worry about the fabric of the human, our humanity continuing to tear further and further apart as we continue to ramp up, I guess is a good way for me to put it, you know, just to continue to feel this escalation. Uh, and I know this isn't new. We were seeing this, you know, decades. Um, I mean in the sixties with the civil rights movement and things like that. I mean, there's been animosity and rage and this kind of tumultuous environment over decades. So it's nothing new. But I also continue to wonder. I mean, when you have things like this happening, there's always got to be some kind of a lever or, or, or a release valve that has to occur where, you know, something like say nine slash 11 happens and it brings people together through tragedy rather than through, hey, while we're in peacetime, why not just step back and sit down and have a conversation and share each other's side without yelling at each other and, you know, hitting each other with cars and, and, you know, whatever, whatever it is, whether it's physical or verbal. Um, so I, I love, I love knowing that that's a, where you're coming from and um, that that's the part of the mission that you're trying to accomplish. But then it also is, is this openness to everyone at the same time or, or, or in tandem with that, you know, that, that it's around how to do that in, like I said, in, in peace time or anytime. It's to be able to have those conversations. And I know we're gonna get to this in a little bit, but I, you know, the, I was so moved to read about your expansion into the working with prison inmates in testing what you're doing with art in that kind of, uh, of, of a realm and especially here where we have so many people in prison for, you know, ridiculous things up to horrific things. But it, we all, many of us know that once you're in the system, it's just like debt. People have been working years and years and years to keep people down with debt or to keep people down with the prison system and to keep them out of being able to have a, a quote unquote successful life, you know, that's fulfilled. And, you know, part of my mission here is for people to live a life of vitality, creativity, and fulfillment. And that's what you're trying to do with these, for these people through this program. So thank you for that. First of all. So one of the things I wanted to ask you about is, um, you know, w when we talk about, I want to get a little deeper now and talk about the actual courses. I know that they're, uh, the art of being human courses. The levels one, two, and three. I was just curious, you know, in the, I know that there's more than just that, but what can people expect in a training like this? And what does this look like?

Ryel Kestano: 00:26:07 Great. Well, I would say at the core of how we teach and disseminate the practice of authentic relating is making the implicit explicit or making the unconscious conscious. And so it's recognizing how much of ourselves, both at the personal and collective level exists a below what we're conscious of and yet informs and drives us in our behavior and how we show up and the choices that we make and what will you react to how we are triggered by various circumstances. And, uh, and so a lot of authentic relating is expanding and deepening what we are conscious of and claiming more of that territory that up until that existed in the subconscious, in the shadow. And so a lot of the tools and skills that we've designed in offer are a specifically designed to claim more of that territory to see more of the hidden, uh, to reveal more of the hidden. And we believe that when we can become more conscious ourselves and each other, we gained power. And, uh, in that power, we have choice. We have choice in how we show up and how we react and how we relate with each other. Um, and then, you know, it's also, I think, you know, there's a, there's a kind of social convention and script that so many of us, uh, follow in our relationships with other people just automatically without even realizing that we're following a kind of imposed cultural or social script on how we engage with other people. And what we want people to see is first that script objectively and then be able to come from a place of genuine and authentic presence. And awareness and how they show up with each other and so, you know, I can certainly look back at the pattern of my relationships and now that I've become conscious to the deeper levels and layers of my own shadow mateRyel and I can see where I've been wounded, you know, as a child, uh, and as a young person and how those wounds have manifested as protection, as avoidance, as suppression, as disconnection and how they've been impacted, negatively affected my relationships. Now I have access to those things and I don't let them, or at least to the degree that I'm vigilant, I don't let them bleed into my relationships anymore and it's vastly deepen the kind of relationships that I have. I have a whole set of skills and tools that I can use to make connection with absolute strangers and experience a depth of intimacy with them very quickly. Um, and that's been just amazing to be able to, you know, move about and travel around the world and experience intimate connections with people very quickly and efficiently and easily using these very basic foundational tools that authentic relating presents as well as gotten a lot deeper with the people that I'm already in relationship with. Um, a lot of what we teach is being more in the here and now. So much of our conversation, uh, so much of where we go together in relationship is talking about a whole variety of other stuff that's not happening. It's either happening somewhere else or at another time and authentic relating brings us to what's happening here. And now. How are you feeling in this moment? How am I feeling really in this moment? How are we feeling together? When you share something, what's the impact me in real time when I started something? How is it to share that in real time? And as it turns out, the present moment is an incredibly rich place to live and relate inside of a. and there's so much to notice and my ever unfolding ever evolving a moment to moment experience in mine and in yours and in the space that we share. And so really for me, authentic relating has been a portal to accessing an incredibly rich and fulfilling and a soulful way of connecting with other people. Um, and what's cool about it is that, you know, in many ways we're reclaiming how we were as children. When you look at, you know, everybody that we share our community with the most proficient, authentic, relaters are kids. And you see how they relate with each other, how they relate with adults. They haven't developed the kind of filters and you know, conditioning that has them over time start to follow the social convention and these, uh, cultural scripts. And they just say whatever the hell is on their mind, they ask whatever question they want to ask and they, and they do it like genuinely. And several, a lot of authentic relating is guiding people back into that more childlike and liberated and free way of being in the world and not being so constrained by the filters. And, you know, fears and insecurities that we have developed a overtime since then,

Gabe Ratliff: 00:31:11 Mhmm. You mentioned a little bit ago about when you traveled and being able to utilize these tools to connect on a deeper level with people quicker or quickly. Um, could you maybe provide a couple of, of, um, methods that you could, that you're able to share with the audience of, of like how you've been able to do that or something that they can maybe take from this to try?

Ryel Kestano: 00:31:45 Yeah, sure. Yeah. I mean, I, I was, and I went when I was traveling a lot on plans, on flights, um, around the country in the world. And I would kind of play this, this personal game where I would, uh, the game was basically deep connection with whoever I happen to sit next to, on an airplane. That's what I want to achieve. And, and, uh, you know, move towards, you know, and it's like, you know, I think we can all relate to the phenomenon of getting on a plan and sitting next to somebody and there's this sort of invisible wall that separates each of us. And we're just, you know, in our own worlds for however many hours that the flight takes, and yet here's just another human being, you know, and who knows what kind of treasures and fascinating insights and perspectives are contained inside of this person that just remain locked up as long as I don't have the courage and the willingness to open it and to explore it. And so basically I just made the commitment to a open conversation, whoever I would sit next to, and I'll tell you, it's one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had a deploying this practice out in the real world. I mean, I, I still have friends that I've made a firm just sparking a conversation with people I sat next to. I've been absolutely riveted by people's stories. Um, and, and have really sat with the value of what people have shared and reflected. Um, you know, in the context of those conversations. So I think it's know, like a willingness to transcend these socially imposed boundaries and walls that we put up around ourselves and be willing to extend through them and reach out and be willing to be rejected. Be Willing to be judged negatively and in all of these things, it's all a, I would say it's all worth it to experience the kind of connection and, and all of the fruits and treasures that that connection can provide. Um, I, you know, I think we can also ask to all relate to the phenomenon that when we're deep in conversation and engrossed with somebody's time, pass as much more quickly, you know, then when, then when we're just trying to like figure out what to do for, you know, two, four, six hours on a flight and uh, it's been something that's been really useful. And so, you know, I've, I've taken that out everywhere, you know, I'm standing in line waiting in line, even at the grocery store or somewhere else, like spark up a conversation with somebody next to me and see what happens. And, um, I, I like to bring the belief and the faith out into the world that everybody wants connection. No matter how many layers of isolation they might be inside of, underneath those layers, they want connection. And human beings are nourished by connection. To me it says important of a form of nourishment as you know, water and food and sleep and shelter. Well, you know, it's like, I mean, that's one of the first experiences that we have when we're born, right? I mean, there's plenty of research demonstrating that when you isolate an infant and a child, it has massive detrimental effects on their physical and mental health. You know, we need that connection right out of the womb. And if that connection is provided a, it has all sorts of Marriott beneficial effects. And to me that doesn't change throughout our lives. And you know, right now I would say rates of isolation and loneliness and associated depression and you know, uh, and I'm sure physical health associated with that is, is increasing. Uh, and you know, people are more lonely than ever. And so, you know, for me, connection is a prescription, uh, and necessity to be a healthy human being.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:35:44 Hear! Hear! I'm also an ambassador for that because it's really important to me is something I actually, I don't know if you can see behind me, but, um, it's actually my second source commitment for my business, um, and like what I want to put out into the world. Um, and you know, there was going to mention, there's a great ted talk, a friend of mine turned me onto that. That's about the Harvard study that it's the longest study in history about, uh, these generations, um, that they start. It's about 75 years old. Um, and they've actually gone through, I think it's three directors because it was such a long study, but they were following these families and they, you know, every year would do a new survey and they would do tests and all these things. And they found that the people that live the longest weren't athletes and people that were really didn't do anything dangerous or adventurous, wasn't any of that stuff. It was the people that had connection and they had community, they were the ones that lived to 100 over 100 and that was a repeat that they just kept finding was that it had nothing to do with what you ate, you know, sleep, any of that stuff that it was around connection and community and continuing to keep that connection going into, you know, your elder years. And I just found that so fascinating that from, like you said, from birth to death, it's really that, that is one of the extra, um, you know, lifeblood things that we need to survive besides what our physical bodies actually need.

Ryel Kestano: 00:37:32 Yup. Exactly. Yeah. And that's what's so compelling to us, you know, to go into prisons because, you know, I don't think you can really get a place that is more isolating and disconnecting A. I mean, I remember going into prison recently and uh, I shook hands with one of our participant inmates and he told me that um, over the 17 years that he'd been in prison, the most intimate contact you've had with a human being was a fist bump a. and um, and I just, it pains me, it really hurts to consider, uh, how deprived, uh, these, uh, these people are in such an important and critical aspect of what it is to be a healthy human being. Um, and that to me that's the worst punishment of all is the depriving of a physical and emotional and soulful contact with other people. Um, and uh, and then when we come in and really facilitate and cultivate space in which they can have that and experience that, again, it's just extraordinary. I mean, within hours you're seeing these men come alive again and you can feel them again and see them again and you know, feel their hearts again. And it's been a really profound and beautiful experience to be bringing this into that world. Yeah. How many prisons have you worked with now and how many inmates? Uh, so our program is the only program of its kind that's been approved by the Colorado Department of, of corrections a. So we're starting to expand our work and some more facilities right now. We've been. So for a facilities and sites, as soon as I wrap up with you here, I'm on my way to a. So the rifle, a correctional complex to deliver a course out there. Um, so yeah, so we're starting to make more inroads, you know, the administration is starting to pick up and notice the impact that this work is having on the population. Uh, and they're in big support of it and we've probably reached about 120 inmates so far. Something like that.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:39:40 Wow. Wow. Kudos man. That's awesome. Yeah, that's not something to, to bulk at. That's awesome.

Ryel Kestano: 00:39:50 Well, you know what, I mean, I had to work through all of my own layers of resistance and fear. Just that world, you know, I mean, I've never been, I've never spent any time in incarceration or anything at all. Um, and you know, I, I noticed very quickly the way that, you know, society and culture had programs me to have a certain perspective of criminals and know prisons and prison life and all that and you know, these guys are just out there to, you know, mess you up and hurt you. And Rob from you and all this stuff, um, and I had to really work through those layers of resistance to show up. Um, but as soon as I did, I mean almost immediately when I really sat down with these guys and started connecting with them, I realized all of that was, was bullshit, you know, it was real, um, it was all coming from a place of fear and uh, I've learned so much from these guys have developed a incredibly deep bonds with them and I stay in touch with them after they're released and they're, by and large, they are good people, good hearted people who made bad mistakes and who got swept up and, you know, I'm a kind of way of being in a way of life that, uh, that just suck them down. Um, and they just didn't have the resources and opportunities to navigate through those challenges, uh, in a, in a healthy way, in a way that to keep them, you know, a functional member of society. But underneath all that, they're, they're really sweet guys. Um, by and large ends. Um, yeah, it's been really beautiful work.

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Gabe Ratliff: 00:42:05 What was that? What was the reality for you? You know, if we step back a little bit. So take us back to when you, the first day that you went, I remember reading some of your posting about this. So I'd love to just kinda take us back. You know, when you, when you first went, what was that first day like and, and, and you know, what, what were you feeling and, and, and how did that, how did that all flush out and then, and then, you know, what was it like after the experience?

Ryel Kestano: 00:42:36 Well, my first experience was taking a tour because as a volunteer I mentored, at first I was a mentor for a couple of years working with inmates one-on-one, to be approved for that. I had to, uh, take a tour of the jail is here in Boulder, Boulder County, Boulder County jail. And I remember walking in the first time and just feeling like this shudder, you know, this like I'm kind of tragic sadness. So seeing these guys locked up, I'm on the other side of these thick concrete walls. Um, and uh, just like caged animals. So it really disturbed me. I left feeling very disturbed. I mean, obviously I know, you know, it's not like I'm naive enough to not know that this is a thing that we put away people and lock them up, but to see it firsthand and to viscerally experience what it looks like and feels like it was a whole different experience. Um, and uh, yeah, it, I felt definitely, uh, definitely left feeling disturbed and, and like wow, like I can't believe what we do to each other, you know, in this way. Um, and part of me never wanted to go back, so, you know, that definitely took some, uh, some time to and motivation to come back around and be willing to step back into that and then, you know, and then, uh, and then I started meeting with my first a inmate mentee, uh, soon after and I really just got the sense from him right away, you know, that he was, he really wanted to have another chance. He wanted to learn a way of functioning in society and community. There was contributive and healthy and vital and, and all these things. And I also got the sense that he really took responsibility for his actions of the past. He wasn't trying to create an blame anybody or come up with excuses, you know, he really took on responsibility for it. I mean, this guy was a high ranking gang member, uh, here locally. I'm covered in tattoos and I had done a lot of pretty gnarly stuff, you know, over the course of his gang career. Um, but, um, when he, when he showed up and then we first interacted at, he occurred to me as humble. Um, and uh, and gentle and, and really willing to face his own demons and turn his life around and learn the skills to function in a healthy way in relationships, in society. Um, you know, a lot of these guys, a lot of these guys are in for various drug related offenses and it's just remarkable how much of a catastrophic role, uh, drugs have played in so many of these people's lives. Um, and then, you know, you can ask, start asking the deeper questions, you know, why, why do we even have relationship with some of these, you know, more destructive drugs. Um, and for me, from the time that I've spent in prison and talking to these guys, it's their only, you know, tiny bit of relief and comfort and, um, you know, and even joy, I'm in an otherwise very bleak and dark and challenging existence. And also they don't have any alternatives. They don't know of any alternatives that can provide them that experience other than this sort of shortcut of I'm taking drugs and then becoming addicted to them. And that's what's led a lot of that into a life of crime. Uh, and a lifeline barts.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:46:16 Yeah. I, um, I wonder what can you speak to, you know, maybe an example where it wasn't someone like that that was willing, you know, did you have any kind of examples where it was more of a challenging kind of a, uh, um, um, situation or a person who is just not open to this kind of thing? Or did you find that most people really, really are, they, they're not anywhere near what they're painted to be, that they really are just these humble souls that are looking for redemption and looking to move forward in their lives and this, this kind of connection?

Ryel Kestano: 00:47:00 Well, I would say what unites them all, uh, you know, certainly making a generalization, but in my experience, what unites them all is paying and how much pain they carry within the, how much pain they've endured over the course of their lives and you know, to really face that pain and confront it and welcome it and work with it and ultimately integrate. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of, you know, they're just not ready for that kind of work. Uh, you know, they still find whatever outlets and means and mechanisms of avoidance and suppression to not feel that pain, uh, and to stay numb, you know, whatever it is, and, you know, to some degree, I think that's a function and the phenomenon, you know, far beyond prison walls and it affects many of us. Um, you know, I'm still exploring, you know, the deeper layers of pain that I've carried around inside of me that I've manifested in destructive and unhealthy ways. Uh, and it's hard work. It's, you know, I remember I'd think of the movie the Matrix, you know, and when you wake up out of the Matrix, it's not this like paradise at all. It's a pretty bleak and, and a difficult and challenging world, you know, but it's a liberated world. Um, and so that, that's what I'm after and that's, that's what I want for myself and that's what we're trying to invite people into. And, and, uh, let people know the value of and the work that we do, whether it's in prisons or for the public, uh, is. Yeah, we recognize the, the pain that can come along with the process of waking up to ourselves and taking responsibility for all parts of ourselves. Um, and it's not pretty, you know, we're stirring up a lot in these guys, uh, through the exercises that we facilitate and um, you know, a lot of, you know, some of them at least a don't, don't want to do that kind of work. It's much more comfortable to just stay in more numb place. And I can acknowledge the ways that I've developed tools and devices to continue to numb myself to the parts of myself that I don't want to feel. Um, and uh, you know, and I'll, you know, it's, it's been, uh, it's been an ongoing process to continue to point and focus these tools of authentic relating on myself, uh, to keep waking up and continue to set aside these devices, have a, of numbing myself and claiming and reclaiming more and more of myself, um, and over the long run as I do, uh, I feel more whole in myself. I feel much less, you know, driven and controlled by my inner demons. Um, and more like, more generous, like I'm more resource to support and be with others going through challenging times and a lot of us are going through challenging times. Um, and uh, you know, it's been through this work that I've been actually able to show up in prison and sit with these guys and hear their stories and love them through it and, you know, create trust with them. I mean, I remember sitting across from one guy at a recent prison course and uh, all I said was, you know, man, like I, I trust you. Um, and that was enough for him to, to feel something really deep, but he hadn't felt and you know, he tears came to his eyes and you know, you're not, you can't cry in prison. And he was trying to run them away very quickly. Um, but we had a moment of profound connection in that moment and all it was was just tapping into the experience of being trusted. And um, these guys had been denied that, you know, most if not all of their labs.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:50:58 Yeah. Well, and then, and now because of where they are, it's like the stigma that society leaves on them. It's like the stamp or this tattoo that they can't take off, you know, because, um, you know, because because the people outside of that space that are not trusting, they're done, they're not trusting them and they have exactly what you talked about, you know, they have these ideas of what we've all been imprinted that it means to be in prison or to be a prisoner or to be an inmate who did these, you know, dark or evil or you know, bad things, you know, to whatever degree, um, you know, and I agree. I think there's a lot of these guys and gals that, you know, these circumstances, like you said, you know, these things happen and it just sits them on this path and they're just looking for some kind of, some kind of joy and they can fall into drugs or who knows what gangs. That's what gangs are, you know, it's, it's family and connection and trust and looking out for each other and that they're just feeling that. And um, yeah. So that totally, it totally makes sense. Um, so what I mean that, that that's definitely like a, a positive thing that you just shared, but I'm wondering regarding this work at the Boulder County jail and these other prisons, you know, what, what are some, do you have any high points or you know, wins or triumphs that you can kind of take away outside of obviously the, um, you know that Colorado is now recognizing the work that you're doing more and more and seeing the positive results from it. But are there any other high points or wins that you can share that have come out from it that you know personally for you or examples of someone that's achieved a higher level or you know, has gone through these courses and something has changed for them positively? Or do you have any examples of that?

Ryel Kestano: 00:53:15 Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I mean we haven't been doing it that long so we know we don't have that much of a track record to be able to really track the impact that this work has had with people in the long run. But we get letters from inmates all the time, you know, who, who say, you know, this work has completely changed my whole outlook on myself and on life. This was the most powerful program I've had my entire time behind bars a I look at, you know, like my relationship to myself and to the people on the outside is completely transformed, you know, I can't wait to get back out and apply these skills and tools to my relationships. Um, we have had a couple of guys you know, who have been released and I'm still in touch with them and, and they're, you know, a couple of them are really thriving, uh, and absolutely applying these skills directly to their lives and relationships. Like we designed everything that we do to make it as easily applied in people's lives as possible. Like, you know, we encourage people to take this out immediately, like tomorrow and start applying these to your relationships to how you navigate life and you'll see a difference like unquestionably. Um, so yeah, so, you know, we're getting more of that and you know, we're starting to groom some of our, uh, the inmates have been most touched and committed to this work. We want to groom them to come back around and be on staff with us, uh, when, uh, when we go back into facilities going forward. And so that's happening. Uh, and so we're just waiting for some of those guys to be released and to get on their feet and then, you know, basically they have a role waiting for them to bring their own experiences back into those places and spaces and, you know, there's something about us walking in as civilians and you know, instructors or whatever, that automatically has a separation between the inmates and us. But, you know, when it's one of them, you know, coming back with us and one of them, you know, is saying guys like pay attention. Like this stuff really works. You know, like, my whole life has been transformed by this practice. Uh, it adds a whole other level of, you know, trust and validation. Um, and, uh, an opportunity, an opening for these guys. So that's what we're aiming towards and I'm excited to, uh, continue implementing that program as time goes by.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:55:47 Yeah. Wow, that's awesome. How do you, how do you navigate the more challenging, whether, whether this is in the, you know, within mates or out in the world? You know, I mean, you can get just as much opposition from people. Right? We know that that's true. You know, whether you're, you know, you know, higher status, lower status, you're an inmate, you're a ceo of a 50, a, a fortune 50 company, whatever that is, you know, but you know, when you've got someone who say is more educated against someone who is, say less educated, you've still got all those same issues to work through as far as um, uh, opposition to what you're trying to present. How do you, how do you navigate those kinds of challenges with people when you're trying to initiate this program?

Ryel Kestano: 00:56:51 Well, you know, obviously we can't compel anybody, you know, to, uh, to come and really participate in this work. But I mean, there's no doubt that we're seeing more and more and more real hunger and real appetite and demand, uh, for this work, uh, in people's lives and, you know, both at the personal level as well as in the workplace and work environment. Um, and I think more and more people are really seeing a how negatively impactful, uh, these, you know, this sort of tribalistic, um, you know, sort of paradigm is that we're living in. And I just read something recently that, you know, something like, only 10 percent of people on the left and 10 percent of people on the right are really at the fringe that the radical fringe. And yet they'd take up like 90 percent of the bandwidth, you know, in what we actually here and what the media picks up on and disseminates to the rest of us. And then you've got 80 percent of the rest of the rest of us who are just kind of sick and tired of this polarization. Uh, and um, and every increasing entrenchment of oppositional ingroups and outgroups and, uh, and are really looking for a prescription and got no way of healing these intractable divides and um, and integrating us back together and, and, you know, supporting and facilitating dialogue again. Um, so, and, and they don't get the kind of, you know, media attention and mouthpieces and platforms that the people on the far French's get. So I think it's a pretty skewed perspective that we're, we're being exposed to and you've got this huge swath of people in the middle who actually really want this and want to take it on and um, and don't have such a fixed and rigid and entrenched a perspective on things. Um, so, and then, you know, a huge part and focus of our practice is the value of being willing to be uncomfortable in service of growth and awakening and self awareness and awareness of other, you know, part of expanding that comfort zone is necessarily the ability to be uncomfortable and to stay with the discomfort as we start to stretch into some of these more challenging dimensions of our, of our personal and collective territory.

Ryel Kestano: 00:59:31 So we really guide and, and hold and support people to stretch into their discomfort zones, uh, and to stay there and to look around and to start charting more of that uncharted territory and the practices and skills of authentic relating directly serve that ability to both step toward what makes us uncomfortable and to stay there without retreating back into our familiar comfort zones. So it's pretty well encoded in the practice, uh, to, uh, you know, to stretch into what's uncomfortable. Um, and then, you know, very quickly you start to see the rewards that are available when you expand that comfort zone.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:00:21 I love, you mentioned the divides and I love the language that you use around, you know, creating bridges, using us as bridges across these divides. A, I wonder if you, you also mentioned the five practices of authentic relating. What are those five practices?

Ryel Kestano: 01:00:41 Yeah, so we, um, we developed five practices as a backbone and a framework for the entire practice of authentic relating and so they're very easily related to, I mean they're not esoteric or you know, fancy like that. And so, you know, at the very least, people can hear these and apply them to their own lives and explore their relationship to them. Uh, so the first one is welcome everything and it's the first one for a reason because we can't take a single step towards healing and wholeness and awareness without welcoming all that arises in our field of awareness and it's welcoming, uh, the parts that are uncomfortable and nasty and 30 and don't feel good as well as welcoming all this stuff that's easy to welcome. So, you know, it's like when I'm in conversation or dialogue with somebody I violently disagree with, can I still expand my ability? And capacity to welcome the humanness and in them and welcomed their perspective. It doesn't mean that I agree with them, but it means that I'm in relationship with them and I give them the space to be their own human and to have the perspective that they have. So welcome everything. The second one is assume nothing. And we've noticed time and again, and I'm sure everybody can relate to the experience of how assumptions, uh, get in the way of real connection, how assumptions get us into trouble, how we confuse our assumptions with actual reality. And often we're applying those assumptions based on past experiences that don't have anything to do with the current set of circumstances. And so we're late. We're layering our assumptions over actual reality and it does everybody a disservice when we do that. So we have people check out their assumptions, like notice the assumptions that you have about other people and then check those assumptions out with them. And more often than not, much more often than not, you'll notice that your assumptions were inaccurate.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:45 It's actually, sorry to interject, but that's actually something I, I really wanted to share his. Have you read the four agreements? Yeah. Are you familiar with that book? So my aunt introduced me to that book and I, I call it, we call her Yoda because she's just so wise and, and awesome. Um, but she turned me onto that book and I actually, that's part of my mantra in the mornings is around not making us, you know, it's being impeccable with your word and not taking anything personally good or bad and not making assumptions and doing your best. And that is one, it is so hard because there's so many assumptions that we make throughout the day. And I'll, I'll make one and not even realize I made it and then it'll happen and it'll be the opposite of what I assumed and didn't even realize I was assuming. And I'll kind of say to myself there, you know, there's another example of doing that and how, how integrated it is into our lives. Um, and when you, when you have it, I've been so blessed to have read that book and found that that mantra, because it really does help remind you everyday that all four of them, you know, to the extent that we can kind of forego that throughout the day and how sometimes that can be truly detrimental to relationships when you, when you do create something that you feel is so innocent and you don't even realize it's actually there. So I totally connect with that one. So I just wanted to share that

Ryel Kestano: 01:04:23 it's indescribable how much suffering has been caused by the confusing of assumptions with reality over time. Uh, the third one is reveal your experience. And so that's an invitation and acute to let people see you and know you and feel you and touch you as you are with all of your shadows and demons and insecurities and fears and judgements. Let the light hit all those things. Let yourself be seen and known for all of those things. It's what we all carry a version of those that it's part of what makes us human. And so revealing your experience as an opportunity to be fully seen for who you really are in all of your stuff and all of your layers and all parts of you, you know, especially more and more with technology these days. We're only portraying the parts of ourselves. We want people to see and we isolate and hide all the other parts that we don't want people to see. And that keeps us out of authentic connection. Then we're only connecting with the facades of each other. We're not connecting with each other as the whole human beings that we are. So reveal your experience. The fourth is own your experience and that's taking responsibility for your experience. You know, we see all too often how we ascribe responsibility for our experience to other people and to the world and to circumstances outside of us. And we say following this person was different. Or if only they would say this thing or not say that thing and only we had a different president or different leaders. If all nate dot that dot, then I would have the experience that I want to have. And it's a disempowering way of looking at it because you're outsourcing the responsibility for your experience beyond yourself to things that you have no control over. And so you're basically setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration and anger and all the rest of it. And so owning your experiences, taking all that back and tracing it all back to something within yourself and looking deeply within yourself for the source and often that sources and as an old and painful wound or trauma from the past, uh, that owning your experience gives you the opportunity to see and to integrate and to release the world and other people from that responsibility for your own experience. Uh, and then the last and fifth practices, what we call honors self on or other. And the point of that is to recognize and see how we. So typically we'll prioritize our own experience at the expense of others or prioritize other people's experience at the expense of our own. And that's very much based on the models of relationship that we grew up with. Certainly in my relationships, I would prioritize my partner's experience over my own, you know, and I would completely compromise and pave over what I needed or wanted to keep her happy and um, you know, to support what I thought she wanted and yet it was destructive to us both when I did that and so on herself and honor others and invitation to look at the choices that I make in the world and try to find the sweet spot that honors both myself and others at the same time with every choice that I make. And so these basically these five representative, you know, a way of life. I mean, we don't just teach it for the sake of the workshop or the course. That's what we live by. And in fact it was, we actually were living this work in practice and it was from the living of it that these five just emerged out of how we live our lives. You know, it was never like, let's figure out, you know, the best way to practice authentic relating. Okay, it's, these five now will live according to those. It was living at first. Uh, and so some way the practice itself, as you know, illuminated these five for us and now we're able to, uh, to teach these and share these with others.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:08:24 Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing that with us. I want to honor your time. I know we, we've got a hard out here coming up, so I want to go ahead and start kind of shift into our wrap up questions. I feel like that was a great sort of bookend to what you're doing with art. Um, and, uh, unless, is there anything else that you'd like to share before we move on with some questions? No, go for it. Okay, great. Um, and, uh, I'd, I'd, I definitely want to have you on again some other time because I really want to talk to you about your trip around Europe and I know that's going to have to be another, another, uh, conversation. Um, because there were some things that you, you wrote about that I was like, Oh man, I gotta talk to him about that. Um, so, uh, yeah, we'll go into some wrap up questions I got here for you. Um, what is something that you believe that other people think is insane?

Ryel Kestano: 01:09:28 That was something that I don't think is insane that I think other people think is insane.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:32 Yeah. Something that you believe that other people think is insane. That seemed like a good question for the, the crusade that you're on.

Ryel Kestano: 01:09:48 Yeah, sure. Um, I mean, I don't know the first thing that comes to mind. I don't know how insane people think it is, but you know, for like, you know, pretty privileged white guy like made going into prisons and hanging out with, you know, a bunch of hardcore criminals and gang members, uh, might occur is pretty crazy. Um, and uh, I'm just like, thank God I did. I mean I'm a better person for it. These guys have taught me so much, and I would say, you know, of all the volunteering opportunities I've ever considered. I mean this one is just head and shoulders massively more rewarding than anything I could imagine doing with my spare time. And, you know, I'd, I'd be down to go into, you know, like maximum security, like the most hardcore places and spend some time, uh, with these, uh, with these human beings on the inside and hanging out with them. I mean, you know, like things like, just probably like the generic things you might think of skydiving and, you know, free solo rock climbing and, you know, more like physically dangerous things like that. I, you know, I love doing those kinds of things.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:11:00 What topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a ted talk on something outside of your main area of expertise?

Ryel Kestano: 01:11:10 I mean it's, uh, it's hard for me to break out the breakout of the default, which is really speaking about. I mean, it's using the work that we do in prisons as a metaphor, you know, for recognizing the places in our lives and ourselves and society that we've disconnected from, that we've are disintegrated ourselves, that we've split off what, what you might call the shadow, you know. And I'd want to use the metaphor of us going into presence as an invitation for people to connect with the darkest, most shadowy, most, uh, uh, most fearful parts of ourselves and of our societies. Um, yeah, I think. And then beyond that, you know, like, uh, I mean I'm really passionate about travel adventure, like really getting yourself out of your comfort zone in familiar places and getting out there where you're exposed and vulnerable and you don't know the language and the people look different and learn about yourself and learning about the world in those places. There's incredible value from that

Gabe Ratliff: 01:12:12 Hear! Hear! I absolutely agree with you. I was not fortunate to get to travel when I was younger and after I met my wife, we have continued to travel repeatedly over our 12 years together and it's been some of the best, if not the best memories outside of our wedding day that we've had. Um, we just did a, as I mentioned before we started, we just did our scuba certification and coursework and we just booked our, our trip to cozumel for the open water dive part. And uh, I have to say when you first get there, I've wanted to do that since I was a kid. So that was like major bucket list for me. And, um, you wrote about, I'm going to pause for just a second to talk about this because you wrote about sailing when you were on your trip and I was so moved by that post because I also loved sailing. I actually have my ASA Sailing Made Easy book that, um, that's actually what I'm going to study this winter. But it was, it was so moving to me to read that because I, I connected with every word of it and it was just like in like your photo from up on the mast was just epic and I was just like, ah, I want to do that same thing. And um, so that was just such a, uh, even though we're thousands of miles from each other, I was such a bonding moment for me. Um, but doing this scuba certification class was, man, it was crazy because I wanted to do it since I was a kid. I love it. I remember watching Jacques Cousteau when I was a kid and you know, just, I love anything with the ocean and so does my wife and um, she actually grew up next to the ocean most of her life and so she had that ability whereas I didn't. And it is, it's real when you get down there and you're doing these exercises and you're, you're taking your regulator off and you're taking your mask off and clearing it and you're, and you realize how vulnerable you are in this environment and it's just really powerful. But one of the things that I think is so beautiful about it is that the top two rules are don't panic and keep breathing. And it seems so true to me about that's a lesson for life, you know, just keep breathing and don't panic. And so I continued to find that and the areas, whether it's business or my life or, or whatever it is, scuba that, just keep breathing and don't panic, you know, and then, um, so anyway, I just wanted to share that. How do you deal with overwhelm?

Ryel Kestano: 01:14:55 Well, I mean, I, the reactive responses to freak out like probably most people and you know, uh, I, I usually go into victim mode and like, Oh know woe is me, but if I'm being, you know, like conscious and aware and, and all that, it's actually just slowing down within my own system and just like you said, taking us your breaths, creating the intention to slow down of looking at, you know, the aspects of that are contributing to the experience of overwhelm and breaking those down into their constituent parts and then, you know, I'm creating more of a strategy to address each of those smaller pieces in turn, but I actually rarely feel overwhelmed. It's not a very common experience for me.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:15:44 Fantastic. I know several people, including myself that, that is something that comes up often. And so it's a question I'm always curious to find out about, Is there, is there anything else like last parting words or anything else that you'd like to cover before we wrap up?

Ryel Kestano: 01:16:09 Yeah, I mean, just, you know, like I've been enlivened by the conversation, um, you know, really just want to encourage anybody, you know, listening to consider the quality of their relationships to themselves, to people around them as well as to quote unquote the other side, the other tribes, other groups of people that they don't have much in common with and, you know, consider uh, you know, consider the invitation and calling to see what it was like even just as a thought experiment to explore having deeper, more a vulnerable and transparent and heart centered relationships with those people. Um, you know, I'd love for people to consider where are they isolating themselves, where are they, you know, guarded and protected from both parts of themselves and from parts of others and aspects of relationships. And just to take a moment and explore, uh, some of those pieces. And if it turns out that they want to dissolve or soften or transcend those protective mechanisms, uh, the social technology is available. Um, and, uh, we're, we're one of the people who are offering a solution and a way of being that has us a start to dissolve those edges and those boundaries and those protective devices and really open ourselves up to feeling really deeply nourished from connection and from relationship and from shared exploration of what can be challenging, painful, scary territory. Um, there's great strength in numbers and, uh, these tools that we teach are very basic. We're not, it's not fancy stuff, you know, but they're very powerful. Uh, and, um, yeah, and even if anybody's listening is interested in knowing more and I'd love to chat.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:18:19 Speaking of which, where can people find you on the interwebs?

Ryel Kestano: 01:18:24 Yup. Our website is authentic relating dot CEO. Uh, the organization is art international. Uh, we offer our courses around the world. I mean, just just off the top of my head in the next few months. We've got London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Toronto, Washington, DC, Seattle, Bali, looking at Australia. So, you know, there's many opportunities to play. Uh, we also really enjoy working with organizations and companies and helping them. And supporting them in establishing a context of communication and authentic relationship. Um, so yeah, lots of ways to interact with us, but those would be the primary conduits.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:19:13 Fantastic. Well brother, thank you so much man. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the amazing work that you're doing and uh, keep it up brother. So happy. So proud of you.

Ryel Kestano: 01:19:27 Thanks brother. It's been a pleasure. Thanks Gabe.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:19:30 Hey gang. Thanks so much for listening. If this is your first time checking out the show, then thank you so much for being here. I hope you enjoyed it. The Vitalic Project podcast comes out bi-weekly and is available every other Thursday for your enjoyment. The show notes for this episode can be found at vitalicproject.com/007. And all the links from this episode will be in the show notes. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to the show and feel free to leave a rating or review on iTunes. If you'd like to be a guest or know someone that would be a great fit, please go to vitalicproject.com/guest. Feel free to share this or any other episode with your friends and family, and thank you so much for listening. Until next time, keep being vitalitic!