In the eyes of the public, Ron Baker had already become an international success, performing over sixty leader roles in operas and Broadway shows around the world. However, on the inside, he felt empty and insecure. Something important was missing from his life and then, a chance encounter on a bus changed everything.
What follows is an epic saga of spiritual empowerment like no other, full of practical guidance that will help you take powerful steps on your own journey as well as priceless clarity about the unprecedented shifts that are taking place in the world today. Bright Lights Big Empty invites you on the adventure of a lifetime, revealing a depth of personal transformation that few imagine possible.
Here’s my conversation with Ron Baker.
Welcome to The Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Benji Block and today, we’re honored to have Ron Baker on the show who has just authored a new book titled Bright Lights Big Empty: A Journey of Profound Awakening. Ron, welcome to the Author Hour.
Ron Baker: Thank you so much, it is great to be here.
Benji Block: Let’s start here for listeners who maybe a bit new to your journey and story, tell us a bit of your background, Ron and what prompted the writing of this book?
Ron Baker: Goodness, the book is a memoir of my journey basically. My journey of discovering self, awakening self and the background is that I started out as a performer and did over sixty leading roles in Broadway shows and opera all over the world and something so profound was missing. It was not fulfilling, it was empty and I was on a search for resolving that, no matter what and as I eventually began to gather the pieces and the answers and the clues to put all that together.
My transformation was so meaningful and then I began to share with other people, what I was discovering and when they also began to make major shifts in their lives based on the way I was putting together the information into really practical nurturing tools, I was like, “You know what? I think I’m done with the performing world. I want to be much more directly connected with people and make a direct difference rather than being up on the stage and singing to a dark audience.”
All I can say is that it surpassed every expectation I ever had and I did a bunch of studying and preparing in different ways in order to enhance what I was putting together and created a school of self-mastery twenty-five years ago and I’ve had the opportunity to now guide and nurture thousands of people from all around the world and so, that is the background.
When I decided it was time to reach a lot more people because I was so jammed full of clients that I couldn’t reach more because my man hours were tapped. I said, you know, “I think writing books is going to be the way to now do this as an introduction” so I wrote a book which is not this one.
It’s the foundation of the process that I teach. Then, I gave it to a good friend of mine, Chris Car who is a bestselling author over at Hay House and she said, “Ron, I know who you are and in her words, they’re probably aren’t five people in the world who can do what you do and I know this process is going to help so many people.”
“But people are not likely to pull it off the shelf because they don’t know you yet. I think this needs to be your second book and your first book needs to be your story” which has been again, in her words, “Profound and meaningful in all those things.” I was like, “Okay”, I sat down and began the process of writing this journey.
I’m hoping that by my sharing my journey in such an intimate revealed way that it will help people understand the map of a journey of claiming self and awakening into potentials that most people have never even been taught are possible. That’s a little bit of the background.
Benji Block: You doubled it up, you wrote two books before you released one. That is a journey right there, man, that’s incredible and I’m excited to dive into some more direct parts of your story here in a minute. Let me ask you a couple questions as you’re working on this book and this project specifically.
Ron Baker: Yeah.
Benji Block: Who’s the ideal reader to you, Ron? Who do you want to go pickup this book and to consume it and get something from it?
Ron Baker: Well, it’s so interesting when I’ve done preparation of the marketing of getting my work out there, people always ask, “Who is your ideal client?” or reader or whatever and I say, “If I just look at the clients that I have attracted over these 25 years, the spectrum is huge” from CEOs to firemen and policemen. From artist to housewives and the really cool thing to me is that 50 percent of my clients have been men and in the world of transformation and emotional healing, that is not the typical deal.
My ideal client or reader is really just someone who wants to take their life to the next level and wants a very practical, nurturing approach that has already been proven for twenty-five years and it doesn’t really get down to a tiny niche of people because so many people are searching for something to put the pieces together and create a clear context and to understand that our lives can actually be focused on the evolution of self which then makes every part of our lives better, our sex life, our relationships, our friendships, our jobs, the intimacy that we can create with every part of our lives become so much more meaningful, so I hope that answers the question.
Benji Block: It does. Let me ask one follow-up there. Do you think that maybe the common denominator is less the person I love that there’s 50 percent men that have chosen to be a part of this work with you but do you feel like there’s a life stage? Is it a hitting of a ceiling where they’re going, “Okay, I want an evolution of self but I feel like I can’t go any further alone” is that kind of the common denominator you’re seeing?
Ron Baker: It is certainly the common denominator but it’s not really so much a specific stage of life because some people hit the wall when they’re in their early 20s, that is not more common thing. You know, it’s generally 30s and 40s that the bulk but I have people coming to me in their 70s and I say, “I don’t care if I’ve got thirty more years or twenty more minutes, I want to make it as meaningful as possible” and people are making major transitions at seventy. It is the coolest thing to watch. Yeah.
Benji Block: Wow, okay, let’s dive into some of the content here. There is a paragraph that was towards the beginning of the book that I thought did a great job of really setting the scene for where we’re headed. I’m going to just read some of your words back to you and here it is. This section stood out to me but you said:
“Wow, you are certainly living the dream, friends and acquaintances claimed when they heard the New York City opera had hired me to perform a handful of roles over the next six months. While I was aware that being part of that historic company was an incredible opportunity, what most of my supporters couldn’t see because I had become so well practiced at hiding vulnerabilities was that on the inside, I still felt like the insecure boy form North Carolina whose father had never engaged in a single conversation growing up.”
I know you alluded to it earlier but I think it is a crucial part of your story to start with. You had achieved some level of success and found it empty. I’d love to hear a little bit of that. That version of Ron that you’re referencing there because it sets up your personal transformation, right?
Ron Baker: Yeah. I literally grew up with a father who never said a single thing to me, not one single conversation that I can remember, except for barking a few orders like, “Go mow the grass” or whatever. It left me so confused and in self-doubt and wondering where I fit and what my value was. Once I discovered some of my talents and I started to get attention, then it became my compensation.
I was like, “You know what? I’m going to go out and prove that I have worth and I’m going to show my dad that he can be proud of me” that was a big motivation early on and so I literally went out and was performing on some of the most well-known stages in the world and I was like, “Oh, there is no achievement that is ever going to erase the fact that I’m filled with self-doubt” and so that sent me on a much deeper journey of looking for clearer answers.
The good news is I got to travel the world performing and so I would seek out teachers of all different kinds and different modalities and different cultures and they all basically said, “You need to learn how to develop a relationship with your inner self” and of course, that’s where I held all my fear and shame and so I didn’t want to look there and yet, when I did, it began a journey that has blown me away more than I could possibly say.
I now believe, for every person that I’ve met and taught that developing a sense of self is the grand prize that we’re all seeking and that it makes a difference in every possible way in each facet of our life as I’ve already alluded to again and I realized how little education about self, there is. I went to school for twenty years, I got three degrees after high school, not one course focused on self.
I realized when I started teaching, what has now been thousands of people, no one has been given a clear education about the facets of self and the how to truly evolve self and the conversation in the world about all this has become so much more accessible in the last thirty years but a lot of people will come to me and say, “I have tons of tools, I just don’t know how to put it together. I don’t know what I’m working toward” and developing that whole sense of self is sort of my specialty at this point and people are consistently surprised at how the quality of their “day to day” lives can become so much better in very practical nurturing ways.
Benji Block: Let me ask you a follow-up question because I know for many performers and those that, I like the way you said it, attention is compensation or attention is proof of worth. When you live from that space for a while, you can then hear, you say you sought out teachers who were telling you to go inward but what I’ve seen is there’s a frustration because you’re so removed from self that it gets really complicated to know where to start because you’ve – it almost feels like you can’t access self, you don’t know what that internal compass is. Does that make sense?
Ron Baker: It makes total sense. I like to say to people, we don’t even know that we don’t know.
Benji Block: Yes, that’s it.
Ron Baker: We’re so disconnected, we’re so unconscious that it’s even an option and so I teach people not just the psychology and resolving the wounded feeling’s fear and shame, et cetera, I teach people how to move energy in their bodies. I discovered in my early 20s that when someone gives me permission, I can tune in and feel where the energy is moving or where it’s blocked in their bodies and the great news is I can teach them to become aware of it and how to open that up, because we become so defended and create all these blockages of where feelings — were not safe and so we buried them, not understanding that that energy was going to become a literal blockage to the life force that wants to move through us.
I teach people how to go in and connect to self and access self in the most nurturing — I keep using nurturing on purpose because it is the core of this approach. I love that in doing this for twenty-five years, not one single person has said to me, “I feel unsafe in this process” and yet, the level of transformation and authenticity, it’s not some cosmic magical thinking of becoming this spiritual being who sort of just – it’s a very grounded, practical, safe way to be fully authentic and feel safe with that and it blows people away.
They go, “It sounds too good to be true” and I go, “Yeah, let’s talk in six months and you tell me” and they all are like, “I would never have believed it.”
The Soul Journey
Benji Block: The transformation that you’ve experienced internally because now you’re teaching this but when you were originally going on this, what would you say was that first step to realization of inner-self, what was that first experience that really, you’re going, “Oh, now I’m starting to develop this inner-self.”
Ron Baker: Well, goodness. There’s so many different directions, it wasn’t like one particular moment but as I began to go inside, I was immediately aware of how many scared, sad or charged feelings I had and to begin to take that capacity to feel where energy was moving or blocked and figure out that, “Oh my god, if I can breathe in this way” and the fact that I had been a professional singer for so long got me more in touch with that but I said, if I breathe in these ways, I can literally move that energy and loosen it up.”
Then when I learned and applied various ways to release the old scared feelings and replace it with tons of new experiences that were safe and nurturing and clear and guided, so it is a combination of the discoveries that came from all the guidance that I sought out and then making it real and practical and experiential because what we experience is what we actually trust the most.
Benji Block: Yeah.
Ron Baker: So if you can create new, safe, nurturing experiences where you feel clear what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, then you can literally commit to these new experiences, which give an alternative to the old wounded and then you can truly repair the nervous system to become this more expanded, safe, empowered being that we all seek to be.
Benji Block: I want to ask a question around spirituality because it’s something that you are into but I also know that our backgrounds like different listeners are going to have different experiences even when they hear the word spirituality, so what was the kind of home that you grew up in around spirituality and then how has that morphed and evolved over your adult life and where you are today?
Ron Baker: Well, I love that my spirituality did not get birthed out of religion. I am not making anything good, bad, right or wrong. I’ve had the opportunity to explore tons of different religions. I even cantered in a Jewish synagogue for four years when I was in grad school and I’d grew up Protestant and I have explored Buddhism and all kinds of different religions and it seems to me that they’re all seeking the sacredness of self.
When I think back to my childhood that happened to me at a camp. It happened for me when I went to this inter-dominational spiritual place and it was the people. It was how they acted. It was the love and the care and the nurturing, no one talked about dogma of religion at all and it was literally being in this sacred space and then one other place that it awakened was when I would go to meetings as a child because of my family.
I was included and I would hear people stand up and talk about my experiences that were truly meaningful to them and then by the time I was about ten, I started having these feelings like, “I feel like I am being prepared for something. I don’t even know what that means and I feel like I am very protected and I don’t even know what that means” but it was an awareness of spirituality, which is just the essence of us as beings on soul journeys.
It doesn’t have to be limited in any way to a particular religion or approach and so I have spent a great deal of time getting to know what that means from various perspectives. The soul journey, well, that is the journey of self, that is the journey of love and value and it doesn’t have to be couched in some separate part of our lives. It can literally be infused in just the way we treat ourselves and one another and that’s the spirituality that I am most moved by.
Benji Block: I love that you brought soul journeys to the conversation. It is a question that I wanted you to kind of go deeper into here for a minute because it’s one of the key truths that surfaced for you. Talk to us a little bit about and maybe even define what exactly you mean by a soul journey and our soul journey and what’s included in that.
Ron Baker: Yeah, what I love is creating clear simple maps and so when I begin to work with someone, I introduce what I call a map of the whole self and that we have three primary facets of self. One is child, one is adult and one is soul. When you are a child, like a six-year-old, if I came to you and said, “There’s an adult held inside you” that would make no sense to you as a six-year-old.
There is no reference point and yet, we’re all in the same bodies now that we’re adults that we had when we were six and clearly that potential was held inside us. And I now say to my clients, there’s a soul held inside you and believe me, it is just as expansive out of what you are used to experientially as the child to the adult and they’re like, “Okay, I have no idea how to reference it” and I go, “Exactly.”
Let’s just use what we’ve already experienced in order to imagine the possibilities of a very practical wiser part of ourselves like we could now look back as an adult and say, “If I could talk to my child, I would say this and I would apply this nurturing that was missing” and that’s a big part of what happens in my book. Well, imagine the soul doing the same thing to us. Well, how does it get set up?
In our lifetimes, the soul chooses the specific challenges and gifts that we will need to take our next perfect steps on a much bigger journey. I feel actually compelled to go into a tiny bit of a backstory to get there, is that all right?
Benji Block: Let’s hear it.
Ron Baker: So when I was a little kid, I was like, “I don’t understand so many things about life as I am seeing it. Help me understand. You’re telling I have one lifetime, why in the world if that is true does this person only live a few days, another person only lives a few years and another person lives a 100 years? Why is this one born into money and this one is not? Why is that person so intelligent and this other people are struggling?”
It doesn’t seem fair or loving in any possible way. Well to me, that was my soul getting me to see the limitations of the approach I had been introduced to and when I went around the world, I realized, “Wow, way more than half the world already embraces the concept of a soul journey whether they understand it practically or not and many, many lifetimes” and all of a sudden, when I said, “If I look at life as we’re all in the school together here, learning together but we’re in different grades and different majors and different focuses and different challenges and if we have tons of lifetimes to explore different facets of life and self, then it all seemed fair and loving. I’m just getting what I need and everybody else is doing the same but I had never been introduced to that growing up.”
When I introduced that the soul sets up the exact challenges and gifts that become motivators in our lives, it is to guide us to the specific arenas or interest that we need to focus on such as my father not nurturing me in any way growing up, brought my focus to the challenge of, “Let me figure out what’s missing” and because I then put so much energy into it, I was able to identify very specific ways that we all need to be nurtured and now, what have I become?
A nurturing father to thousands of people in some ways, a paternal figure and if my father had given me mediocre level of nurturing to begin with, I might never have focused on it and just settled for that. That’s an example of how our challenges set us up for the motivation to focus in certain arenas and interest and so that’s just one facet of the perfection on being on soul journeys.
Connecting With Your Inner-Self and Embarking on Your Transformation
Benji Block: I love one of the things I guess that I would say resonated the most with me is you say that most people have unknowingly remained in the more primitive stages of their potential because very few leaders and caregivers have known how to model the greater depths of nurturing encouragement to connect to the inner-self. It is what you are hitting on when you are talking about even your father.
Because of that, I guess what would you say in your work with individuals — how do you begin to invite them into greater depths of connecting to their inner-self, what would be your nurturing way of kind of leading us along in this conversation and as we sort of start to wrap up here Ron?
Ron Baker: Yeah, well, the journey that I share in the book is me coming to my wakeup call that said, “Oh, this magical thinking of trying to prove my worth through achievement is never going to do it” and so that was my wakeup call and I began to seek out the help I needed. Well, the book journey is me showing up, learning about the power of nurturing, the sacredness of being on a soul journey and then showing up to apply the nurturing to literally go back through my life and introduce the nurturing that I needed all along on the inside.
Introducing and healing and showing up and seeing my child in particular moments when Mommy/Daddy didn’t know how and I show up and literally create a new experience of that. So, there are many layers, many gemstones of clues that people can use by looking at my journey and go, “Oh, I can apply that to mine as well. I can see this, I can see that, I can begin to do what already is making such a difference for lots of others” and of course, I am creating ways for tons more people to come and get direct guidance from me as well.
Benji Block: Do you have a story, an example from the people that you’ve worked with where you’re going, “Man, I love this story of transformation.” I’d love to hear just an example of some of – one or maybe a couple examples of people that you work with.
Ron Baker: Yeah, well, let me start with the seventy-year-old that I was referencing in my head earlier. She realized that she had spent her life trying to provide what was missing in her early life and so what she wanted to do was provide stability, financial reliability and so she worked and worked and worked to provide for her family but wasn’t present for the kids, wasn’t nurturing them but she didn’t know that she didn’t know.
She was doing everything that she knew how but at seventy, she’s like, “Oh my gosh, I was never nurtured. Oh my gosh, even more, I never knew how to nurture my own children. I thought I was doing so much for them and I’m now realizing” and so the great news is she has begun to create completely transformative more nurtured, more authentic shared relationships with her children and her grandchildren now, and finding out that even at seventy that can happen.
Then other people come from jobs where they’re just in a survival level because they think that’s all they deserve based on their early experiences and once they begin to value self, I’ll speak of one person in particular who was just working her butt off in a job all by herself in a one-man team, which so many people do and barely meeting ends and she became a high-level executive at three different banks and owns multiple properties, which is not the success.
The success is her self-value and that she has been able to manifest so much more in a healthy relationship, the same person I’m referring to. Every facet of her life came out of that self-value she built and rather than just trying to manifest more, more money, bigger house, stuff achievement, rather than only focusing outward, which is not going to do it, if we transform the inner and we truly learn to value self, every facet of our lives is impacted.
That’s the bottom line of the reason I’m doing this work because I watch it literally if someone is willing to apply the tools, a hundred percent of the people make such distinct clear forward moves, it is a beautiful thing to watch.
Benji Block: Well, as we close out here, for those that are going to pick up the book, they are going to read Bright Lights Big Empty, they’re going to hear your story in its pages. When they complete the book, what do you hope their main takeaway is or their main feeling when they’re finished reading this Ron?
Ron Baker: The good news is I already have about fifty people who are reading it prior to release and just to get feedback and make sure that there were no tweaks and whatever and they all talk about how moved they are by the level of honest sharing and authenticity, finding out how safe it is to admit our challenges and put them on the table but they feel inspired and clear, clearer than they’ve ever been and then inspired to take some next steps and that to me is huge success.
Benji Block: Well Ron, it’s been so great to get to chat with you. I’m excited for people to pick up the book. If people are wanting to stay connected to the work that you’re doing, what’s the best way for people to do that and to reach out?
Ron Baker: Yeah, through my website, ronbaker.net. That’s the easiest.
Benji Block: Wonderful, I will say the title again here and we’ll encourage everyone that’s listening to go pick up the book on Amazon but the title is, Bright Lights, Big Empty: A Journey of Profound Awakening. Ron Baker, it has been an honor to have you hear on Author Hour with us today.
Ron Baker: Thank you so much, Benji.
Chasm: Bob Goulet