Our guest, Daniel Gutierrez, is a beloved mentor, sought-after motivational speaker and author whose latest book ‘Radical Mindfulness’ takes us on his six-year adventure to uncover the secrets buried within each of us—from head to heart. Among his many accomplishments, he is one or eighteen world-renowned thought leaders in the area of transformation and leadership featured in the documentary ‘Luminous World Views.’ Learn more about Daniel and ‘Radical Mindfulness’ at www.danielgutierrez.com/
Listen to the podcast and view the video now at: http://www.understandingautoimmune.com/Daniel
SHARON: Tell us a little bit about your story. Why “Radical Mindfulness”?
DANIEL: Wow! I guess, in order to do that, I have to paint a picture. So, if you will just follow me along. Imagine yourself in New York City. I was in New York City in a November-December timeframe. I’m sitting in an extremely high-end restaurant and a membership-only restaurant. I’m in a big fat leather chair with, at that time, my $250-dollar shot of cognac. I’m wearing my custom-made suit and custom-made shoes.
And I’m looking at the window just full of myself. I was just like, look what I have done!
I’m looking outside and the snow was coming down. I’m on the 35th floor in Manhattan. It’s the sexiest scene you could ever imagine. It’s like, wow, this is stuff out of It’s a Wonderful Life.
It’s coming down and I look at my reflection in the glass, and there’s a tear coming down my eyes.
For a moment, I kind of went into a little bit of a gaze, so to speak, and I hear this voice. And the voice says, “Who are you? What have you become? And what values did you sell to get to where you’re at?”
And I thought to myself, what?
I never wanted to say that what I was experiencing was not success but, all of a sudden, it was turned upside down. The truth is, I had gotten to that level of success with a whole lot of stress. My motivator was stress. It was not peace and tranquility.
Now, I have to go back a few years ago forward. When I was seventeen years old, I was a licensed Baptist minister ─ and I don’t say that very often. Back then, I got the idea of spirituality; and even though I didn’t pursue that lifestyle for a long time, I had a basis of understanding as to what “values” meant.
Fast forward to sitting in the chair, I think this voice was saying, “What happened to Danny Boy? What happened to that seventeen-year-old? Who are you today?”
All of a sudden, I was empty. All of a sudden, looking around, I realized that all of the things I had called “success” no longer mattered; it was that fast. And I’m looking around and going, well, now, what?
I decided that I would leave it all ─ Manhattan. At that time, I was president of one of the most prestigious C-suite organizations in New York City. I was managing from Los Angeles flying back and forth. I was an advisor to the Department of White House Personnel for the eight years, and I was a very successful high-paid speaker.
And I had no reason to leave. I had absolutely no reason. But I did. I gave it all up. I said, “Alright, now, what?”
So I decided that I would travel for the next six years. I literally took myself off the market. I no longer made the White House calls. I wasn’t engaged. I was ending my presidency in New York City. I, literally, just said, “Okay, now, what?”
I traveled to the heights of the Himalayas to work with the monks. I traveled to the Amazon to work with the maestros of the Amazon and the heights of the Andes for the in Peru.
After five or six years, I remember stopping at some point and going, oh my gosh, what did I do?
I was getting close to broke.
Why did I leave?
All of a sudden, it was like I woke up again.
What were you thinking? Why did you walk away from all that?
And then, I was sitting at home, one day, and I got a call from my siblings. One of my sisters called and said, “You need to come home.” My mother had been sick for two years. Her health had taken a turn for the worse. And I said, “I’m coming home.”
My siblings had been watching my mother in the hospital so I said, “Why don’t you, guys, go home and let me be with her? Let me attend to her. Let me be here for her. And you, guys, go home and let me take care of her.”
I’m sitting there taking care of her and I’m watching her. As you know, there’s no hospital room that’s made for anyone that is staying there to be comfortable.
I mean, the couch was half my size and it was like thirty degrees in there. I couldn’t sleep because the bells were going off and I was scared. I was scared she was going to die.
Inside me, the struggle was the ego and my humanness: “Poor me, I’m losing my mother!” and “You horrible son! You should have visited your mother more often. What were you thinking?”
All these things were going through my mind.
Then, all of a sudden, I remembered what the Buddhist monks taught me. And I remembered what the maestro from the Amazon taught me. And I remembered what I learned in the Andes.
I realized that, in that moment, I needed to be still and very present. So I put those thoughts aside. I put aside the pain that I was feeling. I put aside the emotions that I was feeling. I put aside the human reaction to a parent dying beside. And I stayed very present.
I’m watching my mother and about two o’clock in the morning, I’m just kind of staring at her ─ nothing else to do. I begin to feel the struggle of her liver inside my own body and I begin to feel her heart struggle in my own body.
I could feel the struggle for breathing and I didn’t know what was happening.
How can this be that I’m feeling this in my body?
And then, before I knew it ─ and I don’t know if this was thirty seconds; the time just kind of slipped away ─ I looked over at my mother where she was laying and she was no longer my mom. She was a light.
There’s this beautiful light and I’m just looking at it going, what is this?
Immediately after that, I was a light. So I was no longer Daniel and she was no longer Mom. We were two lights.
And she spoke to me: “Many lifetimes, you made me a promise before we incarnated into this body.
You promised me that when I needed you most, you would be here. And you are. I release you from your contract. Thank you.”
In a second, the light was gone. And I was just sitting there crying.
What a gift! What an amazing moment!
My whole life was designed for that moment, that moment that I could share with that spirit that was called my “mother.” It was the most incredible thing I had ever experienced in my entire life.
All of the craziness, the mosquitoes in the Amazon, everything I had done ─ the answer to the question “Why?” was because this was my path.
In that moment, that’s when the word came: Radical Mindfulness. I realized that mindfulness isn’t just awareness. There’s more to it. The radical part is that moment-by-moment constant redirection of your thoughts and ideas toward the common goal that you have.
If it’s autoimmune, if it’s cancer, if it’s business, if it’s stress ─ if we don’t stay present, then, we miss the gift.
And I was present and that’s where the word “radical” came from.
That moment, I had been signed to write a book with a very famous agent. It was called “Dancing in the Chaos” and we couldn’t sell it.
When I experienced that with my mother, I realized that, again, I was getting caught up in my ego and getting caught up with corporate “Buy my book and what I need to say for them.” And I called the agent on my return home and I told the agent, “You’re fired.”
“Are you crazy? I’m one of the best agents in the world. You can’t fire me.” I said, “I just did. It’s not because I don’t like you. It’s because it’s the wrong book. I have to write a book about my experience with my mother. I have to write from my heart. And if you don’t like it, that’s okay. The right people will show up.”
And so, I began writing Radical Mindfulness which is now ─ finally, after twenty months. It’s very painful to write because I talked about this experience with my mother in much greater detail. There’s so much that happened in those three days.
I left her on Valentine’s Day because I had to bring my son back to school ─ the hardest thing I ever did in my life but also an incredible thing for me. But I had to leave. I came home on Valentine’s Day and she passed away four days later on the 18th.
That was my experience in realizing that my entire life was so I could experience that. And there are no words for that. What I realized in that moment was that the things that I had to do to stay that “radically present” ring true for all human experiences whether they’re diseases, relationships, or financial matters.
Our ability to stay present and recognize that we have absolutely no power anywhere but in the present moment and that our connection to the divine, our connection to source, or our connection to the universe ─ whatever you want to call it ─ is only in the present moment. It is only in that present moment that I can absolutely do things that will shift my human experience to something I desire rather than I don’t.
And that’s kind of what this book is all about.
SHARON: Thank you Daniel for sharing your wisdom. Everyone, have a great week whatever your adventures. Join me next Friday for another brand new episode and leave your thoughts and comments below. As always, enjoy!