Kenneth Castiel is the author of The Hero and the Villain Within. He is a businessman, based in Gibraltar, who began his career selling books door to door. He then went on to found a multimillion dollar financial services corporation that held 50% of Gibraltar’s citizens as their customers.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to connect with your subconscious
- How to discover your big ‘Why’
- Simple exercises that will help you live a fuller, happier life.
Charlie Hoehn: If you had to pick a meal or a drink to couple with your book, what would you pick?
Kenneth Castiel: I would pick split pea soup, pepper tender tuna steak with fresh vegetables and for dessert, apple crumble with warm custard.
Charlie Hoehn: What would you say is the big idea in the book?
Kenneth Castiel: First of all, to expose social conditioning. It’s really, “Are you ready to wake up?” Are you really ready to realize that there’s what I call the hypnosis of social conditioning?
“You’re living a life that is invented.”
You put two people at the top of the building and they jump off, and one is a saint and one is not a saint. They’re both going to end up with the same fate: they’re going to die. That’s a universal truth, gravity. But everything that we do, everything that we do that we don’t even realize comes from social conditioning.
It’s almost like a hypnosis. We think that we have to do things in a particular way.
My book explains this with stories and situations to make you realize and to capture the hypnosis of social conditioning in your life.
The Things We’ve Always Done
Charlie Hoehn: What’s your favorite story or example from your book?
Kenneth Castiel: There was a girl called Jane, and she used to watch her mother, every Sunday, prepare the roast. The mother used to cut off both ends of the roast, put that extra meat in the fridge, and put a much smaller piece of meat in the oven.
She used to ask her mother, “Why do you cut off the end pieces? Why don’t you put in the whole piece of meat in the oven?”
“Her mother used to say, “Well I don’t know, that’s how your grandmother taught me.””
Christmas came along, and grandmother was with them, and Jane asked her grandmother, “Why did you teach my mother to do it that way, why not keep the whole thing?”
Her grandmother said, “I didn’t teach your mother to do that, when your mother was growing up, we didn’t have lots of money. We had a tiny oven, and the piece of meat didn’t fit in the oven. So I used to cut off the bits at the end and put them in the fridge so that it would fit in the oven.”
The mother thought that this was the correct way to prepare Sunday roast. But there’s no reason she shouldn’t put the whole roast in the oven.
We just do things.
People live by the way the guy looks that is driving the car in the advert or the way the girl looks that is going into a store to buy some clothes.
“A lot of the time, people are unhappy because they’re unhappy with the mirror that they’re using to look at themselves.”
We believe all of that, and it’s all a lie. It’s not true.
Recommended Reading from Kenneth Castiel
Charlie Hoehn: How did you break out of that hypnosis?
Kenneth Castiel: I’ve been reading and reading and reading and reading ever since I was 15, 16—I would read about these things.
My grandfather and my parents believed in freedom. And freedom wasn’t just a physical thing. It was freedom of the mind, freedom of how we think, being critical thinkers.
When I did my master’s degree a few years ago, that was a big thing for me because critical thinking was huge. Nothing is taken for granted. You scratch the surface and keep scratching until you find all sorts of perspectives, not just the obvious one that everybody accepts.
So I’ve read lots of books that have helped me to break out of that hypnosis, that slumber of social conditioning.
Charlie Hoehn: Do any of those books come to mind as particularly worthwhile?
Kenneth Castiel: The Four Agreements is one of them. There’s another one called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and one called Silence by a Buddhist monk called Fitchnat Hung.
Then there’s an amazing book in marketing which I suppose is the flip side of all of this, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries and Trout. It says the aim is for an organization or a corporation to own a piece of your mind’s real estate, so that when you think of computer you think of Microsoft, and if you think of fizzy drink you think of Coke.
For that to be happening instantly, they need to own a piece of your mind so that your mind relates to it even before you say it.
You don’t even have to say it. All you have to do is listen to a fizzy sound and you think of coke.
“People lack confidence because we tend to lose ourselves. We don’t know who we are anymore.”
We keep trying to do what we’re told to do and wear what we’re told to wear and use the right perfume.
Then there’s the social condition that happens as a kid is growing up. Somebody’s saying, “Don’t be clumsy,” but we don’t really know how to the extent that a derogatory instruction to a child about herself impacts right through her life.
Breaking Out of Hypnosis
Charlie Hoehn: What would you instruct that person to do to break out of that, to recondition her mind and to apply the principles in your book?
Kenneth Castiel: My book gives you the tools at the end of each chapter. The only thing is that I ask the reader to actually go through and do that introspection.
It gives you exercises and ideas that will, little by little, open up your mind and encourage you to catch yourself doing that social conditioning.
So that you suddenly smile at yourself and say, “Hey, look at what I’m doing. I believed in doing that all my life, and now I realize it’s invented.”
It’s a “how-to” book, so it’s not just reading and accruing information. The major part in the book is to actually take action.
I will be running workshops based on the book, so if you were to come to a workshop, you’ll be doing a lot of the work that is in the book but in a structured way with me.
Charlie Hoehn: Why does it really matter for the listener to wake up?
Kenneth Castiel: It’s not so much where you end up, it’s the quality of your life that matters.
“Mindful living is when you work on yourself so that you don’t have to be thinking all the time.”
Let me give you an example: Our mind works like a monkey jumping from branch to branch and our minds jump from thought to thought to thought to thought—but there’s never reprieve.
Even when we’re not speaking or communicating with somebody, our mind continues to work all the time.
You’re never present, you’re thinking about things that happened in the past, particularly if you’re resentful. It’s like an animal chewing their cud. It keeps coming up, and they chew it again. You keep reliving the situation or conversation.
I tell a story in my book about a young lady who came for an interview at my company. I spoke to her about university and she became very nervous—I could see she was gasping for air.
Later on, I found out that she had had she had been bullied at university to the extent that she had to leave.
Just by speaking to her about university, her mind took her back to that horror situation that she lived through. Our mind will take us back to a reality that is not a reality because it’s only a figment of our imagination.
“We sit in the movie theatre of our mind, and we are the producer, and we are the camera person, and we are everybody.”
This can also be in respect to the future. The future hasn’t happened yet, but nevertheless, we may lose our appetite worrying about something that’s going to happen a week from now, even though it’s not true.
We are creating in our minds this film, this event. We are deciding what outcome the event is going to have.
An Exercise in Mindfulness
Charlie Hoehn: Would you walk us through one of those exercises?
Kenneth Castiel: Most good things are simple. What I’d like you to do is to become aware of your breath and become aware of your inhale and become aware of your exhale.
Inhale and exhale four times, and be aware of it. Normally, we’re not aware of it. We’re just having conversations and we’re not even aware of our breath. Be aware of your breath. Then become aware that the breath is happening in the now.
If you’re aware of the breath, you’re in the present moment, you’re in the here and now, you’re not in your head.
For the few seconds that we’ve had this conversation, you have been in the present moment by being aware of your breath, your inhale and exhale.
“You’ve had a reprieve, you haven’t been jumping from thought to thought. You’ve been here, present.”
Present is a place of healing because it’s peaceful.
They tell you when you sleep, you repair. It’s good for your health to sleep because your conscious mind—which is the mind that incessantly thinking—gets out of the way when you sleep.
Charlie Hoehn: Was it the Dalai Lama who said the best form of meditation is sleep?
Kenneth Castiel: The best form of meditation is sleep and being awake in the present moment.
So when you’re breathing, you’re in the present moment. You are not asleep.
Suddenly you become awake and you become aware of the chair against your legs and that it’s happening in the now.
“Every time you are conscious of the chair, the feeling of the chair against your leg, you’re in the now.”
You’re not in your head all over the place—you’re here and now. You’re in the refuge of this place, and it makes you feel a lot more relaxed, a lot more happy, a lot more present.
Mindfulness and Health
Charlie Hoehn: Do you think people end up getting sick because they’re so in their head that they are not listening to their body at all?
Kenneth Castiel: I believe that completely. I mean I don’t have to say it—modern science tells you that stress kills. That says that stress creates all the critical illnesses, cancer, stroke, heart attacks, they contribute to those illnesses.
Of course there are other things like your lifestyle and so on and so forth, maybe genes, but stress is a killer. You cannot be in stress if you’re fully present.
You need practice and patience to learn this, but this is something that will save your life. This is not something that is you’re going to do it just because you want to try something new. It’s going to give you a quality of life, longevity, and it’s going to keep you safer from critical illness.
So it’s really like a journey. If I’m in planet earth, living in my body, and I’m always jumping from branch to branch like a monkey, I will never enjoy my life.
“I could live until I’m 90 and say I was never in my life, I was always in my head.”
This is why this is important to be mindful.
When I eat, I eat. I am not having conversations about my business when I eat.
Mindfulness is an ongoing meditation, I like to say, because you are constantly meditating.
So you can be in business, sitting at a high powered meeting, relating to an important strategy for the people you work for or for the company that you own—and you can still be present.
This is not about going away and sitting at the top of the mountain. This is about living in modern life, owning a business or working for a corporation, and being more effective because you’re fully present.
Breath in the Present Moment
Charlie Hoehn: Is there a reason why we focus on the breath and mindfulness rather than the beating of the heart?
Kenneth Castiel: I think it is easier to focus on the breath. We control it, it’s there all the time, you suddenly come back to something that is sustaining you.
The fragility of life is in the next breath you breathe. If you don’t breathe it, you die.
“Breathing ranks up there as the most important thing that sustains on a minute to minute basis, but it is also easier to be aware of your breath.”
I am speaking to you, and I bring myself back with a breath. It’s much easier.
The other thing that I teach in the book is sound.
Really and truly, the overview is your five senses—anything that you experience through your five senses is in this present moment.
What you’re looking at is like looking out from behind your eyes as if you are looking out of a window.
Whatever is in front of you is in the present moment.
So for that split of a second, you look at the book in front of you and that book is in the present moment. Come back to now if only for a split second, but for a split of a second you can heal, you can be here, and then go off again in your journey in your head. But keep coming back to now through your five senses.
“If you are listening to my voice, my voice is in the present moment.”
I used to have a neighbor. Lovely neighbor, but he had a dog that barks and barks and barks and he barks. Rather than get upset every time the dog barked, I said, “The bark of the dog is in this present moment.”
It’s like having an alarm clock. The dog was bringing me back to the present moment because sound is in the present moment.
The Power of a Decision
Charlie Hoehn: How has your book affected people?
Kenneth Castiel: Let me give you this example: a decision is a conduit to somewhere.
You go to the airport to catch a flight, and they tell you the flight is cancelled and you’re stuck. You are not going to go anywhere. And in the same way metaphorically, when we don’t make a decision, we’re stuck where we are.
That’s one of the things I deal within the book that has affected a lot of people in my life. The power of making a decision, the power of breaking out of procrastination. The power of taking yourself down the conduit.
“When I speak to people about being fully present, they think it’s about just meditating and sitting on top of a mountain, but it’s not. It’s about taking action.”
When you are in your head, you are worrying about things. You are creating a situation that doesn’t exist, like watching a horror movie at 1:00 in the morning at home and all the lights are out and you keep looking back because you think that the villain or the horror or the mummy is actually sitting behind you, coming to get you.
We are very suggestible. Coming back to this present moment gets rid of all of that. It frees you from the suggestibility of the human mind and gives you that empowerment to carry yourself forward in a way that is real and not invented.
Connect With Your Future Self
Charlie Hoehn: What is the thing people can do from your book to change their life this week?
Kenneth Castiel: Ask yourself this question: “What is it that you are prepared to let go of for you to live the life of your dreams?”
And let me take that further: “What is it that you want in the future that you will be prepared to let go off that no longer serves you now?”
The reason why those questions are pertinent is because we all do this. We all hold onto something, a narrative of who we are and whether we can do this or not. When we put the excuse on the relationship, it doesn’t allow us to take ourselves forward.
Consider you are flying out of your head and find the direction of your future. Fly down that future timeline until you get to three years from now. When you get there, I want you to turn around and look back towards as if you were looking down a time tunnel.
Notice that you’re happy and that you feel very satisfied with what happened in your life in the last three years. Now ask yourself as you are looking down the time tunnel towards now:
“What is it that has happened in my life both personally and professionally that has made me so satisfied with my progress?”
Do that exercise and see what needs to happen in your life in the next three years for you to be satisfied with your progress both professionally and personally.
Charlie Hoehn: How do they know that this is truly what they want versus what the social conventions have hypnotize them into wanting?
Kenneth Castiel: I deal with this in the book as well—there’s a whole chapter on this. We need to learn how to connect with our unconscious mind. You might say, “Well how do you do that?” Because anything that is happening out of your conscious awareness is happening in your unconscious.
In other words, you don’t have to know anything about biology for the blood in your body to circulate and to keep you alive and well.
You don’t have to remember all the telephone numbers that you need to phone if you were to call your mom or your friend or whoever. You are not conscious of their telephone number now, but the moment you think of them you think of the telephone number. So it’s stored away for you in your subconscious mind.
So when you connect with your subconscious mind and say, “What would I like three years from now? What should have happened in the next three years for me to be happy with my progress?” your subconscious mind is going to give you a feeling.
“If that feeling is blank, if it’s just something that you can invent it out the top of your head, then that might not be something that resonates with you.”
You are looking to connect with something, to things in your life that resonate with you.
Charlie Hoehn: How can our listeners connect with you, follow you, maybe take one of your workshops?