Travelers: A Spiritual Quest for Proof of the Metaphysical World

In this episode of the Skeptic Metaphysicians podcast, hosts Will and Karen interview Donald Altman, a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, mindfulness expert, and award-winning author. The discussion centers around Altman's book, Travelers, and the spiritual quest it takes readers on, with the goal of proving that the spiritual world exists beyond our 3D perceptions.

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Embarking on a spiritual journey of self-discovery, former Buddhist monk Donald Altman uncovered a powerful, life-altering secret within the depths of his soul. What mysteries will be unveiled when readers explore Donald's book, Travelers?

“When these anomalies happen in our lives, these things that we often think are coincidences maybe are not coincidence.” - Donald Altman

  • Discern the differences between mindfulness and meditation, unlocking their advantages in everyday living.
  • Delve into Donald Altman's transformative experiences as a Buddhist monk and his pursuit of self-improvement.
  • Illuminate the connections between mental health struggles, spiritual awakening, and extraordinary realities.
  • Probe into the world of synchronicity, quantum consciousness, and transcending the limitations of the material world.
  • Triumph over fear while discovering significant therapeutic methods and embracing spiritual development.

For a lot more information about this episode, visit our blog for the full show notes and summaries:

Other episodes you'll enjoy:
The Witch of Amesbury and Expanding Consciousness

Using Meditation for Radical Awakening

A Former Intelligence Agent's View on Metaphysics

Donald Altman is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, international mindfulness expert and award-winning author of over 20 books translated worldwide. Featured as an expert in The Mindfulness Movie and profiled in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project, he currently writes Psychology Today’s Practical Mindfulness Blog. His best-selling The Mindfulness Toolbox won two national publishing awards. His books, Clearing Emotional Clutter and The Mindfulness Code, were both chosen as “One of the Best Spiritual Books of the Year” by Spirituality & Practice.

Past Vice-President of The Center for Mindful Eating, he has taught mindfulness to over 15,000 health care and business professionals. His newest book is Travelers, a mystical and spiritual odyssey about a grieving psychiatrist who meets a mysterious Traveler in a story of healing, hope and renewal.

Donald Altman’s Author Page

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Donald Altman Video Edit

Will: [00:00:00] Karen? Yes. Will this show. Was originally created in an effort to find if there really was more to us than justice, three dimensional bodies we inhabit. Mm-hmm. And for the most part, we've been exploring all the different modalities that come along with the potential of proving that the spiritual world actually exists.

Mm-hmm. Well, On this week's show, we're blessed to welcome someone who has dedicated his life to doing just that. Ooh, wait. Providing proof of that world just outside our 3D perceptions. He has proof. Well, let's see, because he's written a book that dives really deep into this topic. Well, he's written many books, but we're gonna talk about one particular, we're talking about travelers, a book that takes readers on a spiritual quest that shifts consciousness.

Ooh, I like that. Ooh, me too. Welcome to this Skeptic, meta Physicians.



Today's story's from The Living Gida by Swami Sachi. Ananda. Once a fellow went into the jungle and became very tired, he found a beautiful tree and sat beneath it, but the ground was thorny. He couldn't lie down anywhere. Oh, how nice it would be if I had a small cot. The minute he thought of it, he found himself sitting on a cot.

Oh boy. I have a cot. So he lay down. Well, this is very [00:02:00] comfortable, but I'm also hungry. I could use something to eat, maybe a banana. Well, immediately a bunch of bananas appeared. What's this? He couldn't believe his eyes. It seems that Whatever I want, I can get here. Well, then how about some gourmet cooking?

Well, immediately plates Filled with delicacies, delicious dishes, pudding, desserts. They all appeared right in front of him. Well, he ate sumptuous and then thought it would be nice if there was someone to massage my feet to put me to sleep even as he thought it. There was already a beautiful angel like person there massaging his feet.

Understandably. He became very excited. Oh, it looks like whatever I'm thinking I'm getting now. I have a comfortable bed, a good sumptuous meal, and somebody to massage my feet. Uh oh. But what if while I'm getting the [00:03:00] massage, I fall asleep and suddenly a tiger comes from the jungle. What's gonna happen then?

Well, immediately he heard the roar and a tiger appeared and devoured him. well, what do you do with a person like that? Yeah, he was under a Boone giving tree. Whatever he wanted, he got. Unfortunately, sometimes people are like that. They can get everything they want, but they don't know what to ask for.




Will: Hi, I'm Will. And I'm Karen. And today's main topic has won very dear to my heart. Donald Altman is a psychotherapist, a former Buddhist monk, an international mindfulness expert, and an award-winning author of over 20 books translated [00:05:00] worldwide.

Now he's been featured as an expert in the mindfulness movie. He's been profiled in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project. And currently writes Psychology Today's Practical Mindfulness Blog. His bestselling, the Mindfulness Toolbox won two national publishing awards and his books Clearing Emotional Clutter and the Mindfulness Code were both chosen as one of the best spiritual books of the year by Spirituality and practice.

And if that wasn't enough, his newest book. Travelers. It's a mystical and spiritual odyssey about a grieving psychiatrist who meets a mysterious traveler and a story of healing, hope, and renewal. I could not be more thrilled to welcome Donald Altman to the show. Welcome, Donald.

Donald: Hi, will and I care. It's great to be here with you today.

Will: I definitely wanna dive really deeply into your book. But before we do that, It's not often that we get the chance to talk to one of the four most experts on the topic of mindfulness, so we'd be remiss if we didn't [00:06:00] ask the obvious question.

What's the difference between mindfulness and meditation, or is there even a

Donald: difference? Well, well there is a difference, and that's a good question. Meditation is really about when you're. Focusing on something. It could be you're focusing on the breath, focusing on an object, or you're saying a mantra, but you're bringing your concentrated energy into one thing where mindfulness is really more about being aware of what's happening moment by moment, whatever is entering your sense fields and paying attention to that.

So noticing your thoughts in the moment, noticing as I take this breath. Uh, noticing the colors on the screen as I'm talking to you. So it's really all of that as you're moment by moment going through your day. It's a very different experience. It's kind of a meditation. It's a meditation on the moment, you might say, rather than any one particular thing, which is more meditation.

Karen: So it's like being present, but on

Donald: steroids. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's very much on steroids. [00:07:00] Uh, yeah, I think that's a good way to describe it. And, and you might think of it as, uh, you know, being, uh, a, a little scary for some people because, you know, we're so distractable all the time, aren't we? You know, we're looking at screens all the time.

Everything's trying to grab our attention. But mindfulness also brings in the idea of. Intentionality that I can harness my attention and I can use it the way I want to. So for my benefit and for the benefit of others.

Will: Mm-hmm. Now, now, Karen and I. Have, started a meditation practice.

I've started it a little bit longer than Kean, not to rub anything into any wounds, but Mr. Meditators, and yet, and yet you are so much better at it than I am right, right off the bat. But a lot of the meditations that we run into have a lot of mindfulness in it, right. the calm app and the mm-hmm.

Headspace. They all do mindfulness. Meditations. So when we talk about meditations, we're talking, I mean, there's a whole gambit of types of meditation, but just as much, [00:08:00] there's a whole gambit of types of mindfulness practices, right? Because weren't you the vice president of the Mindfulness eating

Donald: Yeah, actually the Center for Mindful Eating, and I was vice President. Wow. There. And I, you know, and I, and I think one of the things that led me into mindfulness, actually, Was, I was a mindless eater and I used, I used food in a, yeah, I, you know, I never met a cookie I didn't like, and if I was, uh, uh, you know, emotional about something, I couldn't deal with something, I would, would eat food as a way to, you know, kind of medicate away my difficult emotions.

So I was an emotional eater and probably, you know, most of us have done that at some point or another. And I, when I went into the monastery, I actually, uh, spent time as a Buddhist monk and one of the things that really interested me was how I might be able to, uh, learn how to eat differently or understand my emotional eating and.

Uh, one [00:09:00] of the things that happened, it was very funny, so I went in, I went through this incredible two to three hour initiation into the very ancient practice, and then I got back, uh, they showed myself and two other novice monks, so room, they said, you're gonna be staying here. There were three. Uh, beds on the floor.

I just sat on one of those mattresses and I suddenly, I had buyer's remorse, you know, oh my God, what was I thinking? And right in that moment, I, I really couldn't used some food to distract me or make me feel better. But I had taken a vow not to eat after 12 noon. Now the months we get up very early in the morning, we would meditate by around six by get up around.

Three 30 in the morning, be meditating, doing chanting at around six o'clock. You'd have a 30 minute breakfast, and then from 11 to 12 you'd have lunch, but you wouldn't eat after that. And I really, that was my greatest fear was could I do this? I, I didn't know. But anyway, here I am. I get in the [00:10:00] monastery.

I'm sitting on that futon thinking how I needed something to help comfort me. Some, you know, some food would've been nice. And uh, and right then I looked to my left and there was a bookshelf there. And on this bookshelf I could not leave my eyes. Uh, will and Karen was a giant Cadbury's chocolate bar. And my first thought, yeah, I saw that.

My first thought was, I'll never forget it. Somebody set me up like, you know, like, oh yeah, they knew I was gonna go to that, to that futon. They knew that I was gonna, they put this big chocolate bar. I mean, nobody knew I had this eating issue, but when I saw that chocolate bar, my mind went into a war.

We've all been there. You know, one side of me was, I want that chocolate bar. That'll make me feel better. The other side was, no, you took this vow. You know, you can't eat after 12 noon, you've, you, you, you know, you can't eat the chocolate power. And there was this war going back and on. It was, you know, it was really amazing.

And then [00:11:00] after, I think it must have been an hour of hearing this war, suddenly it was like, I got jolted and I was watching these two voices, and it occurred to me right then and there. Well, I, you know, who says I have to do one or the other? I can do both. I can crave the chocolate bar, and yet I can still follow my vowel.

Right. And, and it was showing, you know, I, I learned an important lesson in that moment about how we can be, uh, provide ourselves, we can be a container for all that exists within us, the challenges, the good things, the bad things we can, we can hold it all and, uh, find wholeness Actually in doing that.

Instead of getting reactive. Mm-hmm. So it was a powerful lesson for me and I, and I found out that nobody set me up. Nobody put the chocolate bar on that shelf to, uh, to get me, so to speak. But I, uh, you know, people would donate things to the monks, all different kinds of things, and they would put 'em in different places throughout the monastery.

So it wasn't, [00:12:00] uh, nobody was personally trying to. To, you know, catch me with that chocolate bar. Sure,

Will: sure. Well, you, definitely are a kindred spirit. I'll tell you that of mine. So I

Karen: have two questions. Yeah. When did you go to bed? You can't eat after 12. Like, could you go to bed at one? Right. Especially, especially you're getting

Will: up at three.


Karen: Yes. What, when was

Donald: bedtime? Well, we would, in the monastery, you know, we would. Meditate, do all different kinds of meditation throughout the entire day. And I think we, uh, probably about nine or 10 go to bed. But then you get up at like 3:00 PM Yeah. Nine or 10 at night. Wow. And you get up at 3, 3 30 in the morning and start doing your, your, did you wake up ravenous?

You know, it was a funny thing. This was a really amazing thing to me, was that. You know, here I was. I, I didn't believe that I would be able to do this, uh, not eating after 12 noon. In fact, the day before I went in the monastery, I went and I had this huge meal at this buffet that I knew [00:13:00] about. It was gonna be with my, my last meal, right?

But I the same thing. What I discovered was that by, uh, using my concentrated energy like I was, and focusing my mind that I was not hungry. After 12 noon, it kind of shocked me. You know, you could have a, a tea or something to drink in the afternoon, a juice or a tea, and that's all I would have. Uh, but I did not have the kind of hunger that I thought I would have.

It was really kind of amazing. You know, I think it was the, the, you know, the quality of focusing your mind, paying attention like that. Mm-hmm. Um, that I, I didn't have to need all these other distractions. I didn't need food to, uh, you know, to medicate away anything.

Will: it's amazing the, the power of the mind right.

To, to, to get you beyond certain limitations that you've put on yourself really, for the most part. Mm-hmm.

Donald: It's really incredible. I mean, [00:14:00] yeah, some of the, uh, some of the, uh, you know, Tibetan monks have a thing called turmo, which is a practice of heating the body up and now, Uh, Tibet is a very harsh climate, really cold, but they're able to go out mm-hmm.

And actually melt the snow around their body and, and bring their body temperature up. Pardon my, uh, I, and actually it's really interesting. If you can raise the temperature in your extremities, like your hands, your fingertips, and your, and your toes, that will actually lower the stress in your body. And I've had people in, uh, in, in.

Therapy sessions where I would have them put a little finger thermometer on the tip of their finger and I would teach them how to focus on bringing heat to their extremities. And in a matter of minutes, five or 10 minutes, they could lower their, the temperature in their finger or raise the temperature in their fingers rather about five or 10 degrees just in a matter of minutes.

That's, yeah, the power of the power of the mind is amazing.

Karen: [00:15:00] Not unlike the power of menopause, because I know a bunch of hot flashing women, they could probably melt some snow themselves.

Yeah. But, um, I, I wanna know what brought you to that monastery? What made you decide you wanted to go and enter this monastery?

Donald: You know, what brings us to do most things that, uh, you know, that are, are gonna be challenging or difficult? Is probably that the, the pain of not doing that is even worse. And I was suffering a lot at that time in my life.

There had been some repetitive, um, destructive patterns and I wanted to know, you know, how can I understand this in a deeper way? And that's why I went in the monastery. I met him book and, and it was funny at the time, somebody said, oh, there's a mock. I, I think, uh, I'd like you to meet. And maybe that's a cautionary tale for people because you meet this muck and the next thing you know, you're, they're shaving your hair and you're going in the monastery.

But, uh, but for [00:16:00] me, it, it note to self, don't make that note. Right. What I learned, you know, you don't have to go in the monastery, but you do have to be willing, I think, to look within and, and, and, you know, look at the dark places in ourselves, right? Look at the suffering that we have. Look at how, uh, You know, and everybody's suffered.

Suffered in some way. I, you know, I like to say if you have a human, uh, if you're in a human body, if you have a human mind, you're gonna experience loss, you're gonna experience aging different things. You know, how do we, uh, deal with that in a way that is compassionate, kind to ourselves and to others? So there's tremendous lessons to learn.

You funny, when I met this mock, what? What drew me to him was this incredible, palpable sense of compassion and kindness that he had about him. That I, you know, I grew up in Chicago, and I have to tell you, I didn't find people like that monk hanging around on the street corners of Chicago. Um, they just weren't there, but I wanted them [00:17:00] How did You would, right?

Yeah. I wish I had. Yeah. But I wanted to know how did he become like that? And is, is it possible for any of us. To attain a different kind of, you know, profoundly different way of thinking and being and, and what, you know, what's what I discovered when I got to meet him in the monastery, because he was the head of the, he was like the Abbott, or they called the cido of the monastery.

It was a terra Vata Buddhist monastery. They, they were all Burmese monks actually. And he was a Burmese monk. And, but he, uh, fortunately he spoke English well. Uh, but he, he what he loved, yeah. That was a, that was a luck lucky thing. What he loved to do was teach the loving kindness, medi meditation. That was, and, and that is I think, how he profoundly transformed himself within, within, by doing that, in that practice.

Karen: I like that. Loving kindness [00:18:00] meditation. Yeah. Everybody should do that. Especially these days. My goodness. We need it.

Donald: Oh gosh. Yeah.

Will: Well, we've got a lot to talk about before we get into the meat of the topic. I think we probably should take a break so that we don't interrupt the flow of our conversation. So, we'll take a quick break right now, but when we come back, we're gonna dive into the book Travelers. And specifically I wanna talk about the spiritual quest that is involved in his book.

you mentioned that, there's more to the material world than what we can normally feel or experience ourselves. And I really want to talk to you about, quantum consciousness, angels, even maybe by location, things like that. All of that when a whole lot more when we come back right after this.

 Welcome back to the Skeptic Meta Physicians. We are talking to Donald Altman, who is a former Buddhist monk,[00:19:00] and a prolific author of over 20 books that have been translated into, different languages across the world. His newest book Travelers is a Spiritual Journey, and it is interesting because.

This is not your typical spiritual awakening book. This is actually a story that's kinda wrapped into, a spiritual exploration. what motivated you to write this book?

What's the, what's the story behind it?

Donald: Well, I, you know, it's, it's funny. I think the story wrote me actually, to tell you the truth, uh, and the, and the characters. I mean, I. I didn't really know where this was gonna go. It was, it is, uh, you know, I had this idea for a book about, you know, why are we here? When are we, you know, about the spiritual journey?

And I actually tried to write it as a non-fiction book and it would refuse to be a non-fiction book. And I thought, you know what? The, I, I've gotta bring this alive in another way. And so I decided to do it as a novel and it's not, I have to. [00:20:00] Say though it's not a, uh, you know, if you want a fluffy, breezy read, uh, this summer, you know, this is not that book.

Uh, but if you want, you know, it's really, it's more of an invitation into the unknown and into the dark places in our souls or the dark places in our lives, into the things that we have to face, whether it's a mental illness or a loss, you know, and how do we get through that as a family? There's some, you know, uh, and I think that is what drives us into the spiritual quest.

You know, you talked about, you know, the material world and uh, you know, I think we're, even the mental health field, I think is very steeped in a mechanical view view of things. So take a pill, you know, uh, you know, it's, is these kind of simple ways of looking at things when actually we're very complex. I mean, how can you replace an emotion, right?

I mean, I, I don't know. So I, you know, I wanted to, [00:21:00] uh, uh, have an invitation for people to step into the unknown here through this book, and to challenge the reader actually, and to taped them to some places, maybe they're, you know, not really comfortable being, which is that, uh, that non-ordinary reality that, that place where, Uh, you know, transformation can happen where miracles can happen, where the unseen, uh, becomes known, and I think we're all capable of doing that.

Karen: So you said that you're exploring, you know, the, the dark places we all have. so by dark, is it always, is it always grief or, something negative, or can it be just something that we don't know about? So it gives us that fear and makes it feel dark?

Donald: Yeah, it could be our own fears of something. It could be our own shadow.

It could be our blind spot. Thing that we don't are, you know, are not really willing to look at in ourselves. And it could be something we share with [00:22:00] another. It could be, um, uh, it could be dealing with that difficult, uh, situation at the office or that, that, or, you know, with, uh, uh, not having things go your way in life.

Mm-hmm. I mean, it's so many different things we have to face. It's not just grief. Loss comes in many different packages and, and shapes and forms, doesn't it? So, uh, but whatever it is, it, uh, I think if we can open up or open ourselves up and a willingness, uh, to enter, um, the unknown right, enter our own world of, of.

You know, even our dreams, think about how amazing our dreams are. Our dreams take us out of the ordinary reality, and it may be something to our dreams that, um, you know, a lot of people have solved problems creatively by just, uh, dreaming people. Some people have written books in their dreams, [00:23:00] you know, it's pretty amazing how we can tap into a different world just in that way.

But I, you know, you guys are doing meditation. That's another wonderful way to connect with the non-ordinary world.

Will: and you are touching on some points that I really wanted to make sure we talked about, because in your book you do talk about certain key phrases that, in metaphysical and spiritual space where if you mention these topics, you automatically get someone's attention. Things like quantum consciousness and Yeah. By location, things like that. Yeah. And in your story you say that there's a lot more to this material world than we can normally perceive.

Right. Uh, but you say you have proof of

Donald: that, right? Well, here, I'll give you an example. This, this really happened. Uh, you know, I had written the book and several months after I'd written the book and the publisher had it, I was out hiking in a wilderness area I live in, uh, outside of Portland.

And this is an incredible wilderness area. And this area is also mentioned in the book. And in the book, the character is out in this area doing [00:24:00] a spiritual question. It's at night. And it's a dangerous area, and he has an accident. He falls and he gets injured in some different ways. And in a, in a, a part of the park that I actually at the time had, I'd been to the southern part of the park, but never the north part of the park.

And I described the part of the park that I didn't really know, but I described it. And here I was in reality, several months later out hiking in that part of the park and I fell. And had an, uh, injur, sustained injuries that were the same ones that my character had sustained in the book. Wow. And um, and then, uh, fortunately my wife was there and she helped me out, um, with the character, didn't have that luxury.

And as I was going out of the snow center of the park, I started looking around. I'm like, oh my God. I described this in the book. What I was in, in very. Precise detail in the book, and I had never been [00:25:00] there, so. Okay. You know, that's astounding. So it was just an example of me when it happened. I was kind of shocked and, and maybe that was helpful to, uh, alleviate some of the pain I was in, but it, it was kind like here.

Sure. Across time and space. Something had happened there that was, you know, what you'd call maybe a synchronicity, something that was unexplainable, right? Mm-hmm. And yet, uh, two events linked together, uh, that seemed non, non-local, right? But they were connected. And so it was almost like an affirmation of me, of what I was trying to say in the book.

And, and

Karen: it's almost like, it sounds almost like a chicken in the egg thing. Like did you, was this a prophetic thing when you were writing it, or did you manifest it when you were writing it?

Will: Hmm. That's

Donald: an interesting question. The book wrote him. Well, that's, yeah. Yeah. That, I mean, that's a really good question.

That's true. Um, you know, I heard [00:26:00] about how, uh, the horror writer, Stephen, um, king, had written about that killer car, uh, I think it was called Christine. It written that album, and then he almost got killed by a car some years later. But again, I mean, who, what is a chicken in the egg? I don't know. And I'm not sure if it, which came first?

Yeah, I don't know which came first, but it really shows that, um, you know, when these, when these, um, Anomalies happen in our lives. These things that we often think are coincidences maybe are not coincidence. I mean, Einstein didn't believe that any of these things happened are coincidences. He felt that all things were somehow, uh, connected and determined.

He, he didn't understand, uh, the quantum world. They called it, uh, he called it, uh, spooky, um, action at a distance or whatever it was because he could not. Understand, well, how does this really happen?[00:27:00]

Will: makes you, think twice about writing certain things, doesn't it?

Karen: Just, just be a historian?

Donald: I mean, I've had some other, uh, experiences of things that happened, uh, moments after I thought of them one time, and it's many years ago. I was in my twenties. And I was, had a dream that I, and at that period of my life, I was trying some acting, some different things, and I had this dream that.

Uh, this guy was offering me a job to work with this woman who I had met, and we'd be, it'd be at a, at a trade show and I'd be dressed up in a lab suit and she'd be dressed so and so, and, you know, we'd, we'd be performing at this show. And, um, so I'm having this very vivid dream and then my phone rings and I woke me up and I pick up the phone and it's the guy.

In the dream who would offer me the job is on the phone offering me the [00:28:00] job. And describing Yeah. What, and describing to me exactly. Oh, you'd be working with Nancy. That was the woman in the dream and you're gonna be lab, you're gonna be like, uh, dressed up in lab technician attire. And, and I had dropped it moments before.

Down to the details. Yeah, down to the detail wow.

Will: I think we're gonna call you spooky Donald Altman now on,

Donald: well, that hasn't happened, uh, very much since then. It's maybe, I'm kind of happy that it hasn't, you know, it's, I can just, I can just enjoy my dreams, not worry about them coming true.

Will: now in the book, you really, the, the protagonist, for lack of a better word of the book, is a psychiatrist.

Right? You open up the entire book saying, Hey, full disclosure, this stuff has happened. I can't explain it, but, you know, I just wanted to, to kind of put it out there. You talk a lot about psychiatric wards and things like that. Do [00:29:00] you have experience in these types of environments?

Donald: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I've worked in psychiatric, uh, intensive outpatient clinics in the story.

It's a residential unit, and I've been in several residential units and actually had somebody who works in a residential unit, um, read through and make sure was accurate in all, in all, uh, as aspects, what is it as to what it's really like in there, what it looks like in there. Um, and, uh, but I have had, uh, you know, as a psychotherapist, been in those units.

Um, so it's, uh, I I wanted to bring people into that world too, because I think it's a world a lot of people maybe wonder about or haven't really experienced. And, uh, sure. And, and the psychiatrist, you know, he's kind of a cynical character. He's seen it all and he's lost. He's had a great loss. I don't wanna give anything away in the book, but he's had a great loss in his life.

And the interesting thing is he can't heal himself, right. [00:30:00] But here he is trying to work and, and heal others. And through this journey that he takes, he actually is able to, uh, transform how he feels about the loss in his life. And the relationship with him and his wife is a very key part of the book as well.

It's about, you know, you know, a loss that affects two people. Everybody heals in a different way. From a, from a, mm-hmm. Profound law. So, you know, that's also a part of the book, but he's invited to take this journey and he meets some strange, this strange, uh, traveler character, uh, and her dog who's ace, sentient canine.

And, um, they, bring themselves into his life in ways he can't imagine.

Will: I am so in, you're speaking my language. I love these kinds of stories. Mm-hmm. So you're talking about a, a spiritual awakening type of story that takes place in a psychiatric ward that. Is fascinating. Which brings up my next [00:31:00] question.

There's a lot of people Yeah. That talk about schizophrenia and things like that as maybe it's not a mental illness. Maybe they're just perceiving other worlds that we're not privy to. What are your thoughts on that?

Donald: Well, uh, you know, there can be, uh, I, I think there, there, there can't be a small number of cases maybe where somebody's having a spiritual awakening experience that that can.

Maybe mimic what schizophrenia is and um, but in those cases that would not be persistent. So somebody might have an awakening experience of some way, a spiritual initiation at a time of great duress in their life. In fact, I experienced that, uh, actually in my, in my twenties when I was experiencing a major depressive disorder myself.

And, um, had, uh, Some experiences out of body experiences that I didn't understand at the time, [00:32:00] but, uh, that I thought, who jealous? Yeah. And I, you know, it was almost like a release valve was that it gave me a sense of relief. I wasn't, um, uh, uh, focused on it or obsessed with it. It didn't affect my ability to function.

Uh, but it, it said, Hey, there's more to the youth than just this physical world. And it made me. And it gave me a sense of hope actually, or a, or a schizophrenia is, uh, really a, you know, something's happening in the brain where, where hallucinations and delusions become so powerful that people can't get beyond them and they can become persistent and they can actually, uh, Hinder someone's ability to function in this world.

So then is when you would want a course medication. And there are whole new ways now, you know, of, of, of working with schizophrenia. If you get somebody very early and you, you know, in the [00:33:00] first, um, couple of years, two, two to five years when they're first getting these symptoms and work with them, you can have good success.

But, uh, often it becomes a persistent problem. And medication can help really tamp down on those hallucinations quite a bit and help people function more. So it, um, but I think in a very, very small number of cases, it, it can maybe appear to mimic schizophrenia. Now, when I was experiencing that, I did not share that with my, uh, with the person who was treating me for depression at the time.

And it's probably a good thing, thing I didn't bec because it was temporary. And it didn't leave me feeling bad in any way. Right? Mm-hmm. So I think there's, you know, um, kind of a difference. I'm not telling people to, not to share with someone if they're experiencing, uh, you know, symptoms, but, [00:34:00] uh, you have to, you know, ask, you know, am I able to function in this world?

And that's the important thing. Sure.

Karen: And that is really great information because time after time when we're speaking to different guests and they talk about their spiritual awake and they, the kind of one thing they all say is, I felt like I was going crazy. You know, I was hearing these voices or I was saying things that I wouldn't normally say or, but now with you saying more, it's like if it's prohibiting you from living a normal life, that's the difference.

Yeah. That's actually good to know.

Donald: Yeah, I mean, if vo if voices are, uh, persistent and they're telling you to do things that are not helpful things, there's a problem there. Mm-hmm. And that needs to be treated. Um, you know, it, but it's a spiritual awakenings or different kinds of spiritual experiences can happen and mm-hmm.

Oh, that can happen when we're awake, you know? Uh, but again, the idea is how are we, uh, [00:35:00] Able to, you know, keep moving forward in our lives. And if they're stopping us, if they're creating fear, if they're creating paranoia, then, then that's not normal.

Will: Well, in your book, staying on the mental health topic, in your book, you seem to say that there are other ways of healing mental illness other than the traditional ways.

Can you recommend some?

Donald: Yeah, I think, uh, you know, one of the ones that I've been, that I work with is mindfulness as a, as a tool for helping people. Mindfulness has come into the field. Of mental health and, um, is helping, uh, a lot of people heal from depression and anxiety and actually reducing those, uh, symptoms as much as, as, uh, in some cases medication.

Now, I'm not saying it's a substitute. I, I think everybody's different and some people need medications. Mm-hmm. Some people can use a combination of the two. Right. Different kinds of [00:36:00] coping skills, coping tools. There'd be many, many different kinds of those. Um, and I think what's important is, you know, when you're, when you're, when you're asking for help, is that you meet with somebody who you have a rapport with.

Uh, and that connection with the healer or the therapist is really important. Uh mm-hmm. You know, it's been shown that that connection is more important even than, uh, the modality you're using. No, there's a, there's a sex, there was a moment in the book when the, when the character says something, uh, the, the psychiatrist says something to his patient and he blurts out something that he doesn't mean to.

And, and, uh, you know, he apologizes in that moment for it. And they end up having a moment together where they laugh, you know? And, and that is very healing. And, you know, it's funny, I've had those moments with clients, those moments where something happens. Uh, Like off the wall and you start laughing at it together.

And that's a very healing moment. I mean, [00:37:00] you can't replicate that as a, you know, sometimes therapy comes in un you know, really uncertain, unexpected ways. Unexpected ways.

Karen: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that's also another good key point, you know, just because you might not have that connection with, with the therapist, so maybe try another therapist, but don't give up on therapy.

Donald: Right. Because a lot

Karen: of people That's a good point. And it just didn't work, so I'm

Donald: not going back. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And, you know, um, interesting thing about therapy is, you know, I've had, I've gone, I've had people come to me and they'll say, well, Donald, tell me what I should do here. You know, you must know you're, you know, you're, Got experience in this.

And I'll say, well, no, I can't tell you if I tell you what to do and, and it doesn't work out, who are you gonna blame me? Or, or sign this his favor, please. Yeah. Right. Or if it does work out and you're gonna think, well, that really wasn't my idea. So, you know. Yeah. So really it's about just, uh, trying to [00:38:00] help someone find their own wisdom, find their own path mm-hmm.

Their own journey and. You know, that I think is, is wonderful where I think we're all here on a journey in a way, and that's really what traveller's about, is how do we, you know, open up and, and explore the different pathways that are available to us to see things in new ways. Right.

Will: Absolutely. getting back to your book, quickly, cause we're, we're running out of time, but I wanna make sure that we really focus on it for a second.

who did you write this book for? Who should go out there and get it right now?

Donald: You know, anybody? I think this book is for anybody who wants to explore, uh, deeper meaning. For themselves. Anybody who wants to overcome grief, anybody who wants to find, you know, what's stopping them, what's blocking them, and how they can connect with the world, with nature, with [00:39:00] the, with the, uh, magical parts of themselves that are maybe hidden from view.

And you know, overcome fear. That's also what this book is about. If you're being blocked by your fear of the unknown, your fear to do something, to be brave and take a chance, and I think this book is for you.

Will: Hmm, well, I'm a sucker for way the Peaceful Warriors, less Prophecy, these types of books that tell a story, a narrative, but that contain great messages inside of it.

I, the, I, your book is right up my alley. Uh, you definitely have, uh, another sale on your hands now as soon as we Cool.

Donald: Thank conversation. Cause

Will: it sounds like it's a, great book, is there anything else that you think people need to know about, you or the book before they move forward with

Donald: getting it?

Sure. Well, you know, you can find out more about me and I've written a lot of different books and a lot of them, some of them are being used in treatment centers. A lot of clinicians use them. You can find out [00:40:00] It's m i n d f u l and that's my website. Uh, you can join me on, uh, The Psychology Today website, I do the, the prac Mindful, the Practical Mindfulness blog, and also, um, I have a reflect group, like a meditation group on Facebook, and it's n d, full mindful without the I practices.

So you can find me, find me there.

Will: Wonderful. We're gonna add all of those links directly to our show notes, so if you'd like to access any of those, don't need to get a pen. You can go right to skeptic right now. Go to his episode page. You'll see all those links laid in there directly for you.

Makes it super easy and convenient. Donald, this has been absolutely wonderful. Fascinating. Mm-hmm. Exciting all at the same time. Yes. I can't thank you enough for coming and sharing of your expertise with us.

Donald: Well, thank you so much. I [00:41:00] don't know if I was able to prove to you anything, but I tried.

Karen: you did. I mean, you, you gave me a more, what's the right word? Not concise way of thinking about it, but more of a practical way of thinking about things and putting two and two

Will: together. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Cool. And for me, talking about your, release of a projection is what gave you that proof of, the.

Non-material world. It just, it gives me such perfect validation cuz everyone who's listens to the show knows that that's the one astral projection. That's the thing. That's what I need to know for sure. This stuff exists, so I know it. I know it works. So I'm gonna continue on this path.

Donald: Well, thanks again. It was a joy being with both of you. Oh no, likewise.

Will: Thank you. It was our pleasure. Completely. Thank you so much.

Today's listener feedback corner comes from Tim verus, and Tim, I'm so sorry if I mispronounced your name. It's spelled V O R U z. I'm not really a hundred percent sure how to say that, but he sent us a message directly through our website And he was asking us whether or not [00:42:00] we've actually experienced the Indian palm leaf reading modality.

Tim, we've not yet experienced it ourselves, though. We are fascinated by it and do definitely want to try it, but we've not had a chance to do so yet. But I, if and when we do, we will be sure to share with you what our experience was. Now he goes on to say, I really enjoy your show and have listened to almost every show.

I hope you do spin this off into a TV show, but please keep up with the podcast as a way to screen your TV possibilities and keep us informed while we drive. Well, Tim, not to worry. We are not going anywhere. This podcast is our labor of love, and when we do spin off into a television show, this audio podcast is still gonna be around because we can dive a lot deeper into the topics on this show than we could on TV Tim, thanks again for sending us this note. Really appreciate it. And if you would like to hear your message on the air, please feel free to go to skeptic You can [00:43:00] leave us a voicemail or a review or send us an email directly from the site. We'd love to hear from you, and you never know. You might just hear your words.

Here on the air in a future episode.

Well, thanks for coming along on this journey Discovery with us. We'd love to continue our conversation with you on our website at or on Facebook and Instagram under Skeptic Metaphysician Podcast. If you know someone who would benefit from hearing the messages we're sharing on the show, do them and us a favor and share the show with them.

It will help get the word out about us, and it may just change someone's life for the better. And if you're listening to this on the radio and you missed something, well, not to worry. All of our shows, including this one, can be found at where you can also watch the videos or you can send us an email or voicemail directly from the site.

We absolutely love feedback and would appreciate hearing from you. [00:44:00] Well, I hope you've enjoyed this episode as much as we have. That's all for now. We'll see you on the next episode of the Skeptic Meta Physicians. Until then, take care.

Donald AltmanProfile Photo

Donald Altman

Psychotherapist, Author

Donald Altman is a psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, international mindfulness expert and award-winning author of over 20 books translated worldwide. Featured as an expert in The Mindfulness Movie and profiled in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project, he currently writes Psychology Today’s Practical Mindfulness Blog. His best-selling The Mindfulness Toolbox won two national publishing awards. His books, Clearing Emotional Clutter and The Mindfulness Code, were both chosen as “One of the Best Spiritual Books of the Year” by Spirituality & Practice.

Past Vice-President of The Center for Mindful Eating, he has taught mindfulness to over 15,000 health care and business professionals. His newest book is Travelers, a mystical and spiritual odyssey about a grieving psychiatrist who meets a mysterious Traveler in a story of healing, hope and renewal.