Scroll Top
The Accrescent - Podcast Ep. 134 Michael O'Brien - Living in Authenticity, Rippling Love


Michael O’Brien – Living in Authenticity, Rippling Love


Episode Summary

Michael O’Brien joins The Accrescent community to share his near-death experience in 2001 and how this event changed the course of his life and ultimately led to the founding of Pause, Breathe, Reflect.

Where to find my guest:
Connect w/Me & Learn More

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Okay. We could just keep going, going, going. I do wanna give you a chance to tell the catalyst for this pause, breathe, reflect for where you’re at today. And I apologize cuz I’m sure you’ve told it a million times. So feel free to give us the, the cliff notes of that event that really set you on this journey.

And then I have a whole host of questions I’m excited to get into.

Michael O’Brien: All right, cool. We’ll definitely dive in. So I was 33 at the time. We had two, our daughters were really young. My oldest was three and a half years old, and my youngest was seven months. I was the marketing director for my company’s big product. So I was a relatively big

fish in a small pound. I was like, all right, I’ve made it.

It was 2001. So this is. Before social media, right? So this is, back when we had like real phones and stuff like that, before, like all that stuff, I had a

Blackberry, that’s how old this story is and maybe how old I am. And we went out to New Mexico for a company offsite and I brought my bike out cause I’ve been a lifelong cyclist. I have a goal of riding my bike in everyone in the 50 states and around the world and New Mexico had yet to be conquered. So I brought my bike out, found a two mile loop on the hotel property and on the fourth lap of that morning ride on July 11th, a Ford Explorer being driven by one of the employees coming into work, crossed into my lane fully, like his truck was fully in my lane and he hit me head on and it happened so quickly.

I was coming around a little bit of a bend and I had nowhere to go. And I remember everything about that morning just. The sound, really the sound of the impact still

is with me. And then I was knocked unconscious. And when I regained consciousness, I, I was trying to get my bearings and I knew Leigh Ann. I knew like, oh boy, like

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: Like I was in the worst pain of my life. But there was a lot of adrenaline, there was a lot of energy cuz I was surrounded by EMTs, fire, ambulance, police. They called the state trooper in to pronounce

me dead at the scene of the accident because only state troopers can do that in new Mexico. And I just remember like holding on, I was like, don’t fall asleep, don’t lose consciousness.

You just regained it. So don’t lose consciousness, don’t fall asleep, stay awake. Because I thought if I stayed awake, that was my language back then that I could control the situation. I had no control over the situation, and I just remembered just lying there, waiting for the helicopter to take me to Al Albuquerque thinking this is not how it’s supposed to go.

This is not the script. This isn’t the root, I was doing

everything right, whatever right is. And when they put me on the medevac to take me to Albuquerque, I made a bargain. You know, I’m, you’re going through all the different

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Yeah.

Michael O’Brien: emotion. And I said, okay, whoever’s listening, if I live, I’ll stop.

I promise to stop chasing happiness. And I had no idea really who I was speaking to. It could have been Mother Earth, it could have been the universe, it could have been God. But I just remember, whoever’s listening, I, I promise I’ll be better. Like just, just allow me to live and I promise I’ll get my act straight.

I’ll stop this chasing thing. And then I flew, they flew me to Albuquerque in the first surgery. Took about 13 hours. Uh, I had broken a whole bunch of everything. The left femur shattered, which lacerated the femoral artery of my left leg. So that’s why my trauma team, when my wife arrived, said, we’re really not sure

how he survived. Had he been 10 years older or not in shape, he would’ve

died before he got to the hospital. And then the next four-ish days, I was in the ICU and I don’t remember anything at all. I came out, the doctors told me about the extent of my injuries. They said, listen, you’re probably never gonna ride your bike again.

You’re probably gonna walk with difficulty. You’re gonna have a tough life. More surgeries, more pain and suffering. And that whole concept of happiness, I was like, well, screw happiness. I was

Leigh Ann Lindsey: There’s none left to even chase. It’s gone.

Michael O’Brien: no, I was like, I was an angry, I was revengeful and a whole bunch of other things that I personalized.

So it wasn’t, it wasn’t like I was feeling the emotion of anger. I was anger. And except when people called, or when I had visitors. And then I put out my happy face again and pretended that, all right, this is good. This, yay. We’re going to, we’re gonna, we’re gonna make it happen. And as soon as they would leave, I would generally fall asleep, cuz I was.

Pretty exhausted, but then I would just stew in it like how, how freaking unfair all this was. I was playing by the rules and someone changed the rules and whoever that is, I’m gonna find that person. I’m gonna give them a really big talking to. So that’s how it all began.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Okay. What I wanna start with is this piece of I’ll stop chasing happiness. And first of all, I, it’s so curious, and then also not curious that in that moment you’re, you’re not even fully conscious. Adrenaline, cortisol, all these things are coursing through your brain, and yet where your mind goes is, if I live I’ll stop chasing happiness.

And I just feel like something about that moment allow my hunch is that you probably had that simmering underneath for a long time. Like intuitively you knew you were doing that, and something about this event just made it so crystal clear. I’ve gotta stop this.

Michael O’Brien: Yeah, I, I believe with the gift of hindsight, we’ll just call it the universe. The universe was giving me signs months, years before July 11th, 2001, and I was like, Hey, thanks universe. I, I see the email. see the text message, but I got things to do. I’ll deal with you

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Like a salesman knocking on your door, you’re like not home.

Michael O’Brien: Yeah. home. Uh, No packages. Uh, No flyers uh, thanks, but no thanks.

And that’s what I was doing. And then the universe was like, oh, okay, if you’re gonna play that way, we’re gonna give you something you cannot ignore. Cause you have maybe a bigger message to share with the world, as egotistical as that sounds. But we’re gonna basically stop you in your tracks. We’re gonna make you pause because you’re ignoring all of our other messages.

And so that notion that like low level subconscious that I knew I was chasing happiness. And here’s an interesting and disturbing thing. While I was waiting for the medevac to come, one of my first thoughts was, I’m gonna be late for my meeting.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Oh my gosh.

Michael O’Brien: What are people, and we can, we can unpack this trauma. So what will people say about me if I’m

late for the meeting?

I am broken. I am, I have internal bleeding, I am a mess. And I am thinking about what are people gonna say? My colleagues about me for not showing up at the meeting on time. Like it was ridiculous. And so that this notion of chasing happiness and wanting, and really my happiness was a little bit in the stuff, right?

So the cliche is, it’s a little bit

in the stuff like the house in the car, but when I really unpack it, it was about title, it was about

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Yeah.

Michael O’Brien: It was about being heard. And I thought the higher I’d go in the organization, they will hear me because, As a kid growing up, I really didn’t think those around me heard me and really valued what I had to say. I would try to find love through sports. If I did well and excelled in sports, I would feel loved. And I thought, well, maybe that’s a way for me to be heard. But it was just hold, like I never felt really heard. So I’m gonna try to climb the corporate ladder, get to the highest possible position.

So then finally I will be heard and ego in mind, they will finally understand how right I am about everything.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: But yeah. And

Michael O’Brien: So that, that was the chase. So when that happens, Leigh Ann, I will be happy and obviously. There’s no truth in that. So, and I learned it in a very unusual way, how empty that story is. and so,

Leigh Ann Lindsey: I always like to say, let’s bring in the empathy, because even in that 33 year old version of yourself, it was really just whatever, your 12, your six year old self still feeling unheard and un, maybe not fully loved or validated. That’s that, that’s who it is, chasing those things. But we’re working on old programming and old messaging and yeah, like I, I wanted the status, I wanted the titles.

I wanted to be heard. And what is that? Ultimately, it’s. When I’m heard by them, maybe then I can believe I’m worthy, maybe then I can believe I’m good enough and valuable and worth being heard.

Michael O’Brien: absolutely that was it. Now it took me, It took me many years to finally get to that spot because initially I was like, okay, I went, I had some of my aha ahas, which we’ll get to, and I’m like, okay, this is it. And then I was like, okay, well that’s, you’re just scratching the surface like you’re, you’re, you’re quote unquote it was almost like performative. I, I’m doing the work in a performative way, but then I wasn’t really doing the work like fully. And then, but over time I got more and more courageous and I did more and more work so I could drop in and really understand, okay, what, what was this all about to begin with? And it really was like not feeling heard.

And, and some of it was brought up through my mom’s health decline as we’re trying to figure out how to best care for her. And a lot of those old little gremlins came up cuz I was offering a different perspective than some of the other family members. And I didn’t And I was like, I was like, oh wow, snap.

That’s it. That’s the stuff that’s, that’s the, that’s the wound, if you will. That’s the maybe little T trauma or a big T trauma depending on how you wanna look at it. That ultimately led to my Big T trauma to say, okay, we need to like stop you. You need to like slow down and we’re gonna like get this right.

So then you can move forward and with some hope, put out a more beautiful ripple

Leigh Ann Lindsey: yeah, yeah. Well, and just on that note of that family experience, it’s probably from a child. The story being told when we don’t feel heard is I, I don’t feel like they’re hearing me, so they must not value me. I must not be valuable enough. And thankfully as we go on that healing journey, we can start to, even if that tug is still there, reaffirm the new story, which is, you know what?

Them not hearing me doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t value me and, or maybe they don’t value me, but that doesn’t affect my inherent worth that’s here. No one can add to it, no one can take away from it. So, yeah, I love that though. I think that’s a perfect, perfect analogy. Bringing it back to chasing happiness.

So I’ll stop chasing happiness. What I’d love to know is what did that start to practically look like in your everyday life after that accident? And I think you’ve already alluded to, it’s a journey. It wasn’t like a switch flipped all of a sudden everything’s good and great, which of course, but yeah. What did that look like a little bit practically for you?

Michael O’Brien: Yeah, I was really trying to appreciate more of the smaller moments. I like to say the moments in between all the moments. So I was sort of living for the big moments, like the big meeting or this big thing. Maybe when it came to my daughters or as a couple, I started to. Be able to see some of the smaller moments. So it’s like that moment, this took a while to get too. This wasn’t initially something I was really keyed into, but that feeling you feel when your, when your feet hit the ground in the morning for the first time. Because through my recovery, I found gratitude in, and then back then again, this is 2001.

There’s, there’s no Ted talk to around gratitude to tap into. There’s,

Leigh Ann Lindsey: There’s,

not millions

Michael O’Brien: I didn’t,

Leigh Ann Lindsey: inspirational posts on Instagram to lift you up.

Michael O’Brien: yeah, yeah. Interest wasn’t a thing. so I, I didn’t know much about gratitude and then a mentor said, why don’t you try to start a gratitude practice? And I was like, well, what’s that? I was like, well, it’s trying to help you see what you still have and can do. And when you get like really in tune with it, you can even be grateful for the muddy moments of your life.

So in the spirit of no mud, no lotus, so. Now I can, I can be grateful if I’m having a tough moment or even longer, I can be grateful for that cuz usually it’s not a guarantee, but usually there’s some type of growth that comes from going through that. So when I’m in it, I can, I can allow myself to be in it cuz I know that there’s probably something good on the other side of it.

As opposed to before my accident, I’d be, in this moment I’d be like, I hate being in this moment. This moment stinks. It’s horrible. I wanna get out of this moment and now I can just

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: So it, it was really around those like moments in between the moments I, it’s gonna sound pretty, hokey or cliche, but it’s, it’s like seeing the fall foliage, like driving.

Driving home up our, up our road, be like, okay, that’s pretty cool. Right. So that’s, I, I like, I would have more of those moments and appreciate, appreciate life, I think more fully and not get so attached to those big huge moments that we, current day, we wanna Instagram. I was, I, I became a, a fan of the micro moments

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm. I love this and I think it’s a perfect segue into that gratitude practice and something I see so often. I think this is really worth talking about and it’s something I try and educate my clients on as well is absolutely grati. I mean, it’s scientifically proven. Gratitude can impact things. It can be the little thing that shifts that downward spiral into a positive spiral. Into a positive ripple. However, the one nuance that I just wanna start talking about more and more is I find a lot of individuals are using gratitude as emotional bypass.

And we, I kind of put this down later on, the concept of you said no more bad days, that after that accident was my last bad day. And I just think this is so important. And it’s not to say that we should stop using gratitude, be grateful, but. Take a second too, kind of to your, to your practice and to your business.

Pause, breathe, reflect, and then let’s close out with that gratitude. Let’s close out with that positive. But if we’re just like, if we’re feeling down or we’re feeling upset or we’re feeling hurt and we shut ourselves down and go straight into gratitude, then kind of to what we were talking about earlier, we still feel unheard, but even by ourselves, we feel unseen, even by ourselves.

So I’m so much like, can we pair them together? Can we pair emotional attunement with gratitude? Thoughts, questions, comments?

Michael O’Brien: Yeah, like so perfect because I do think. A, as more and more of the population understands contemplative practices, something really good, we can over-index or amp them up and then something pretty good can actually be harmful. So I do think like gratitude can be that, and it be, it becomes unicorns, rainbows and sunshine.

And we’re denying what we’re feeling, cause we, we feel so much, what I try to share with folks is try to have more emotional acumen or more emotional agility. So there’s more than just six emotions, you know? Uh, like really like step into and, and learn all the different emotions that are out there.

Like sort of in the spirit of Brene Brown’s atlas of the Heart, right? So she, she dives into many, but not all. So for me, the whole, my, cuz I call the accident date as, you know, my last bad day. So at first a lot of people will say, well, you’ve never had a bad day since. Like, Is like, it’s toxic

Leigh Ann Lindsey: yeah.

Michael O’Brien: So that’s some people, that’s an initial reaction. I’m like, Nope, nope, let’s back up. I’m not saying that when I think of bad, the, the other side of the coin is good. I had a good day or I had a bad day. So it becomes really binary. And what I didn’t want for the rest of my life was to play in these binary traps of good or bad or right or wrong or black or white. That, that I was gonna embrace the

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: I was the middle way, if you will, if you listen to Buddhist, like the, the path down the middle or, or just having more, again, emotional range. So I’ve had plenty of. Angry, frustrating, irritating sad, despair. The list can go on on moments and some of those moments last into the next day. So it’s not denying what I’m feeling, but for me, if I have my daughters and my wife and people who love me, and I have people who, who I can love in my life, then I can’t chalk the whole day up as a

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: So I’m gonna feel what I’m gonna feel. I am going to try to be patient with myself and not rush through that because I know I have a tendency as someone who likes to get stuff done to say, okay, I felt that.

All right, good. Now moving on. So I have to give myself a little bit more space and a little bit more grace to say, Hey, don’t rush through it. And I learned this a lot through C O V I D. Because of the loss. Just like, you know, sometimes we just have to process the processing takes a while, and grieving is something you can’t rush.

So I’ve learned e even the last few years, how to, how to have this be a little bit more, uh, more in tuned or, or sharper, if you will. So for me, like my last bad day is, it’s, it’s really, it’s, it’s almost a a counter to the binary options that we tend to run through life of good or bad and say, okay, I’m gonna have bad moments.

These moments are going to literally last more than a moment. I don’t want to give though that moment any more fuel than it deserves. So let’s say you have something bad that happens. It could be you’re late for work or your tech doesn’t work. So let’s put this into perspective. Let’s not get too hijacked on this where it ruins your day.

It’s only traffic, it’s only tech. And so I don’t want to give that moment any more fuel because it takes my attention and intention away from the other moments I wish to live. said, if I had during Covid, I’d lost my mom.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: so that’s a moment that’s gonna last a a while, that grieving process.

So I’m not going to quickly go through that. I’m gonna sit with that. But even as I dealt with the loss of my mom, I still had a lot of other healthy or different emotions, if you will, like love and kindness in my life and gratitude. So each day is filled with a whole bunch of, a whole bunch.

So I tried to be a little bit more creative with how I label my days, and not just simplistically say it was good or bad because life is much more complex and richer than just those two options, if that makes sense

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Yeah. And what I’m hearing in the undertones of that is you’re able to keep a broader lens versus oftentimes in hard and sad and difficult moments. It gets very tunnel vision for us, and it’s, it can start to feel like, I feel this way now, and I think the subconscious starts going down a road of, I’m probably gonna feel this way forever.

And, and ev this is bad right now, so everything is bad. And being able to hold a little more nuance and go, this piece of this day is bad, but this whole day isn’t bad. This piece of my life is off right now, but my whole life isn’t off.

Michael O’Brien: Perfect. I think the word that you just shared, nuance is key to all this. It’s it’s holding space. It’s holding space for competing emotions or competing thoughts and sensations in the body that it’s not. That this moment’s not gonna last forever. It gets to the transient nature of life. The Japanese have a, have a phrase for it called um, mono Noah Wark.

And it’s, it really comes up during spring and cherry blossom season or fall in the fall foliage that the beauty of the cherry blossom or the beauty of the fall foliage is there because it doesn’t last forever. Right? those those moments pass. And so, and that, I think that’s why the most valuable lessons I’ve learned through this whole journey since my accident is that each moment’s going to pass.

I could have, I could have a really awesome moment right now, and that too will pass.

If I’m having a tough moment, that one will pass. We’ll go into the next moment. And so it’s appreciating all the little tender moments between the moments that make up our, our lives. And. Now I have to get like too caught up in, in our labels cuz one of my mentors during my accident shared with me.

He was like, Michael, all the events in your life are neutral until you label them. And I was like, oh, say that again cuz that was pretty drugged up. Everything is neutral until you label it. And I was like, okay. And I didn’t really get it at first. It took me a while. And then I realized yeah, there’s, there’s a space, right?

Victor Frankl talks about this and man’s search for meaning. There’s a space between stimulus and response. And in that space, that’s where our freedom is. That’s where we can grow. And I’ve tried through pause, breath, reflect to give my life and hopefully others a little bit more space so we can be less reactive and maybe a little bit more intentional about how we

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I love it. I’d love to hear more and something I wrote down cuz I was listening to another conversation of yours and you were saying, when I first started getting into mindfulness, you were saying I kind of was keeping it to myself.

I wasn’t really sharing it. I maybe was concerned about what people would think or this or that. Can you share a little bit about that? And then I have some, some thoughts too.

Michael O’Brien: Yeah. Um, Yeah, it wasn’t kind of, I was not sharing this with anyone. This was like a deep se secret cuz I went into it thinking this is crazy, crazy stuff. No serious business person does this. Like only people from California, no offense Leigh Ann. So, um, do like mindfulness or, or it was a really a hippie.

People will say woo woo. So I felt all that back in 2001, but I was

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: I just wanted to get out of the hospital. I wanted, I just wanted to feel normal. I, I wanted to, here’s what’s silly, maybe not silly. I just wanted to use my own bathroom. I wanted I wanted to be able to care for myself. And when you can’t use the bathroom by yourself, like that is a low point in your dignity. It was like, cause you feel like a child because when you’re a baby, you have to have your, your parents or your guardian care for you, like in those moments. So I really wanted to get out of the hospital and just feel normal. And I was like, what do I have to lose?

I’m gonna do this breath work stuff.

We didn’t call it breath work back then, but I knew, I knew the breath was important as an athlete and I did a box breathing pattern and I was like, okay. Okay. I had a good day. I had a the way I saw it back then, I was like, okay, it was productive, it was meaningful. I had a good therapy rehab session.

I was like, all right, we’ll do it again tomorrow. And then we kept going with it. But when I left the hospital and went back into my corporate life, I wasn’t gonna tell anyone. Cause all those folks were like, yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s whackadoo. Like you no serious person does that. And then I, I worried like if I start doing a little bit of this contemplative hippie dippy stuff, they’re probably gonna think I had a traumatic brain injury and I’ve lost it.

And I’ve lost my, I’ve lost my edge as a sales executive and as a marketing executive. Cuz it was like, charge, charge, charge. Make it happen. Make it happen. You should have done it yesterday, type of thing. But I did it and it was like my, yeah, it was my little secret. It helped me. Navigate a new script and get to the executive suite on my

terms. Cuz that was the one thing that was critical in all this, was that I went back to my job, but I went back to my job through a different lens, in a different

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: I was like, I’m, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna keep doing what I was doing. I’m gonna, I’m gonna do this differently and I may not be really public about it, but I’m gonna be quite stealth about it.

And I was like, I started working my little magic, the magic I thought I had. And it was like, okay, it’s working. It wasn’t until I left my corporate job, so this is late 2014, early 2015, and I started writing about the value of pausing, breathing, and reflecting. And I got a little bit more courageous.

But along through those years from 2001 to. 2015, I was doing my study, I was listening to other meditation teachers, I was reading books. I was really trying to do the work on my, my own for the most part until I went out on my own. I was like, okay, I need to share it with people. I think I have a responsibility to share one of the things that came out of my recovery that was essential in helping me get to, the point I was at back then.

So I became more open about it and then when Covid hit, I was like, oh, universe is just, cuz I started getting better, listening to the hints. The universe would drop

Leigh Ann Lindsey: The nudges. Yeah.

Michael O’Brien: thought, okay, nudges I was ignoring, I was like, no more forgetting your nudges. I’m not gonna listen to you. And I, I just thought the whole pandemic was. An invitation by the universe for all of us to live more mindfully. And cuz it, it forced us all to pause. Mm-hmm.

And I don’t think enough of us are really living mindfully right now. We paused, it was like, okay, time to catch up. And I think that’s what, what we’re feeling a lot at the end of last year, this year of is this, this tug of war between those that want to live more intentionally with purpose, more contemplative, more maybe lovingly.

And those that just want to get back to how it used to be.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and there’s so many things going beneath the surface. I think just as a society, as a world, this difficulty slowing down, there’s so many things going on. One, I get my value from working hard, from my status, from my income, and so I can’t slow down or no one taught me, no one modeled emotional attunement for me.

No one modeled what pausing looks like, and so I pause and then I don’t know what to do with myself or you know, as a kid. Tensions were high. There wasn’t a safe space. And so my subconscious goes, no, actually pausing is dangerous. Emotions are dangerous. So there’s so many things going on there, but what I love is we need more individuals like yourself modeling what this could look like and how it can help us, and doing it from a really gracious, empathetic way.

This is something, I mean, there were kind of two things as I was listening to you, that conversation that you were sharing about keeping it to yourself for a while, and I was like, it’s twofold. And I resonate with this so deeply on both sides of this. Number one feeling like I, I have a story to tell. I have a perspective to share.

And it could help people, but at least for me, from my perspective, it, it becomes ego. What if people don’t like it? And if they don’t like it, I don’t wanna share it rather than, and then it, it becomes about I’m gonna share this to get their validation back rather than I’m just gonna share this and let the universe kind of do what it will with it.

Michael O’Brien: Oh God, so much beauty in what you just shared because I went, I went through a bunch of that. Cuz you leave a corporate existence, which it nothing’s guaranteed in corporate life. Nothing’s guaranteed in life, but you have, you feel like somewhat secure in your status. Cuz I was, a high level executive and now I’m going out on my own, with no benefits on my own.

And I’m like, all right. Will people like, will people like this version of me? Because I think people like the old version of me, but will they like this version of me and will they buy into this whole concept of pausing, breathing, and reflecting and what does that say about me if they don’t? And, and for the most part, I was not on social media up until the time I left my corporate life except to have a pretty dormant

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: So I, so now I’m in this whole other world about, well, if you wanna get your word out, you gotta go on social media. And I’m like, oh my God, this is like a disaster. So, cuz I, I, I, I wasn’t really sure what to do and I’m, I don’t even think I know what to do current day, but I, I wrestled with all that in the beginning, and especially comparing my beginning to someone else’s middle and.

I haven’t felt that recently developing my app because there are other mindfulness apps out there and some of ’em are quite well known and very popular. And I, my mantra was don’t compare your beginning to their middle. Don’t compare your beginning to their middle. Like put, put your goodness out there and the right people will find it. So don’t compare your to someone else’s middle. And, but it’s, it’s so, it’s so easy to say, it’s so much harder to live. But part of my mindfulness practice is understanding when I get there, cuz I can feel it in my body because that’s one of the things that came out of this whole thing, is being much more attuned to what’s happening in my body.

Cuz I believe our body whispers to us before it screams. So now I can, I’m like, oh, what’s that? Ah, that’s what that is. Like, It’s a little bit. It’s a little bit of the chase, it’s a little bit of the validation, a little bit of the ego, and then I’m like, okay pause.

Slow it down. Alright. Is this how you really wanna show up?

And it gives me, it gives me that space to course correct if I want to.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: And then I know we’re running out of time here, but this is something I ran into so much is you do care. You care so much for the people in your lives, for the, your audience, whatever it might be, your community. And sometimes that turns into very zealously sharing our message and what’s working for us.

And I had to learn this really early on that I can’t be the gas in anyone else’s engine. I’ve gotta, I can absolutely share what’s working for me and the resources and the information I’m stumbling across. But it’s very much a here’s what I’m learning. Here’s the gift I got, and I’m gonna place it here on the table.

You can pick it up if you want to, but I’m not gonna force you to take this gift and, and run with it. And I think you, I feel like you modeled that really beautifully. Hey, here’s what’s working for me. Here’s how I’m living it out on a daily basis. And it’s like your own life became the testimonial for what you’re sharing.

Michael O’Brien: Yeah, that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I think especially with mindfulness and meditation, you can’t get up there and preach and force people into a contemplated practice like meditation and mindfulness cuz there’s so many there. There’s so much out there. people can grab onto to say, yeah, it’s not for me.

Like I don’t have time. My head’s too noisy. I think it’s still woowoo. I’m like, I have other things to do. So forcing people into it or shaming or guilting people into that, you should have a practice like this, that that does not work. So what I try to do each and every day is show up with intention, try to honor my first principles or my values, and one of them is kindness.

So I try to ripple kindness out into the world, and then I share some of the things I’m doing and I try to be very open to say, here’s what I’m doing. This is my formula, but it’s not gonna be your formula. So you have to find your formula. And so there are plenty of tools that you can pick up. Some that you’re gonna place in a toolbox, some you’re gonna carry with you on a Swiss

Army knife cuz you need to be, and you’re gonna experiment.

And some of the tools that you have today may not be tools you are going to utilize five years from now or 10 years from now. So have that agility and that gracefulness as you figure out your recipe. Right? It’s a difference between cooking and being a chef. Like a cook knows how to follow the recipe.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: A chef knows how to experiment and innovate and make, make the meal hers

through her art.

And what I’m hoping I can do is, by the way I’m showing up, is to help people realize they’re, they are their

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Mm-hmm.

Michael O’Brien: So they can follow some recipes. That are in the cookbook that gurus tell them to do, but ultimately they get to spice it up in the way that really speaks to them, that wakes them up to this wonderful thing called life.

And if that happens how cool is that? Right? Because the world needs it. And if they just spend a little bit of time just slowing down and breathing and being reflective, all right. Sort of like my work here now is done. I can feel pretty good about it.

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Yeah. Oh, I love that. I love the chef versus cook analogy. We all need to be the chefs of our own lives. Okay, well, I could, I mean, there’s so many other trails we could go down with this conversation, but I love if you can share where people can find you, the website, the app, social media channels, anything along those lines.

Michael O’Brien: Cool. Well, thanks again for having me on, Leigh Ann. And. I hope your listener’s got a pearl or two out of our conversation, and I, I agree. We could we could spend all day together talking about right different pathways. So easiest place is my website, which is You can find a link there to either the Google Play Store or the Apple Store to get the pause, breathe, reflect app. It’s designed for busy people, so I try to meet people where they’re at. So if someone says, I don’t have 10 minutes in the morning to meditate, I respond in this way. I bet you have 10 times throughout the course of the day where you have a minute. And so I want my 10 minutes in one minute increments.

So I believe in taking our practices off our mat, off our cushion, off the bike, and weave them into the day. So, If you’re someone who is busy that struggles with meditation, there’s maybe some inconsistency to your practice or you think you can’t do it cuz your head’s all noisy through the way I teach meditation.

I try to address all that with bite size, bite size steps, if you will, that you can do over time to really develop a healthy habit. And if you go on to meditate longer, that’s cool, but we’re gonna start with like tiny, tiny steps, small little ripples that you can do over time. So, pause, breather, reflect is the website.

That’s also my Instagram handle, so you can find me there and DM me if you have questions. But again really awesome to be with you. I love what you’re putting out into the world. Keep on, keep doing it like the

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Thank you.

Michael O’Brien: needs. Your your vibe, Leigh Ann. And yeah. So thanks again for having me

Leigh Ann Lindsey: Oh, it was such a pleasure. It was such an honor. Thank you for showing up, giving us all an hour of your time. I’m so, so grateful.