Rob O’Kruk On Digital Nomad Lifestyle, Deep Mindfulness & Fasting.

Rob O’Kruk On Digital Nomad Lifestyle, Deep Mindfulness & Fasting.

Robbie O’Kruk is a digital nomad currently living on the island of Bali, a home base from which he runs several online businesses. Most recently, Rob has established himself as a well respected Mindfulness teacher, managing and directing the Mindful Nomads Retreat. A week-long program where students learn about remote & online entrepreneurship, meditation, and yoga. In this episode we dive into a whole set of incredible topics including meditation, fasting, remote work, self-awareness and conquering the fear inside your mind.

Visit The Mindful Nomads Retreat website HERE.

Visit The Digital Nomad Forum HERE.

Read the transcript of our episode below:

Sean Grabowski:

Hey guys, thank you for tuning into this new episode of the mindful steward podcast. I am having a conversation with my friend Rob O’Kruk. I connected with Robbie years ago actually when I was traveling a lot and he was working at an ad agency and he reached out to me and kind of asked me how I was doing it and what I thought about traveling. My response was to basically ask him about how he got into his industry and try and learn more about his work. And coincidentally, it’s a few years later now and I work in advertising trying to accumulate all the skills that he now has and he works as a digital nomad. So right now he runs the digital nomad forum. It’s a website and Facebook group with thousands of users from all around the world where he supports them with their remote businesses and teaches them skills and practices that help them run things more efficiently. And he’s also a mindfulness teacher. He’s done a lot of different meditation trainings. I believe he’s done his yoga teacher training as well and his new venture or one of his many new ventures is that he is running a mindful nomads retreat where he teaches people mindfulness practices, meditation all different things in that realm of things as well as how to run their own international business remotely. So through the internet, I think this conversation turned out really awesome. I’m actually pretty pleased with the different topics that we got onto and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Also, if you guys are enjoying the podcast at all, please subscribe wherever you are listening. Subscriptions and ratings help me get this podcast in front of more listeners. The algorithms tend to like me a little more that way and also within the month, I keep saying this, but I think it will be within December I’m going to be releasing a bunch of mindfulness resources on my own website. So that will include guided meditations. I’m an ebook or two that I’m in the process of finishing up, so hopefully that can be of benefit to people as well.

Sean Grabowski:

So I’m going to introduce you. I tend to do this often. I just introduce people from my perspective of how I know them just before we get into the real conversation. But it’s kind of funny how you and I have ended up actually being in touch with things because you used to work at an ad agency and I was just kind of, I was traveling after school and I was actually kind of a lost soul just doing that because I didn’t know what to do. And that was, it was fun at the time and I don’t regret it at all. Like, and I’m not going to stop traveling. I feel like it brings so much value to you. Your perspective really comes from your experiences and when you do those things young, it really opens up the Breadth of how much you can kind of absorb. At least that’s the way I look at it. But so I think that those are some of the most valuable experiences and times that I’ve ever had. But you were basically asking me, so how were you doing that man? Like, what’s it like kind of traveling around and just having adventure.

Rob O’Kruk:

You were in Nicaragua and I was like, Oh dude, I want to go to Nicaragua. Like I’ve never child up for us. So funny. Yeah. Oh man. How did I remember you laugh man. That’s crazy.

Sean Grabowski:

It’s so funny. And now I’m working at an ad agency in Toronto excited about it. You know, I’m happy about this stage. Okay. But at the time I was completely on the opposite side. We were literally in flipped roles where I was traveling around and you were asking me what’s it like? I might go to Nicaragua and try this remote work, try this kind of lifestyle for a bit. And I was messaging you asking you questions about how did you get into digital advertising, because I’ve traveled around and I met a bunch of people who work in digital marketing and they make these, they make good money while they live in cool places and surf every morning. So I was super intrigued by that and that’s what got me into all of this. And now I actually like it. I find the whole thing interesting. Well that is somewhat of the goal for me is the freedom of doing the kind of thing that you’re doing right now.

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah, man. And yeah, this is exciting conversation, like reflecting back because I know that you’re going to be there pretty damn soon.

Sean Grabowski:

Yeah. I mean, I’m at this point right now. I was talking to my buddy the other weekend about it. I’m at this point right now where if I wanted to just, I quit my job, I would be fine. You know, I have enough skills. I could make it work, I could do whatever.

Rob O’Kruk:

Well, my sister my sisters, you don’t want to, yeah. Okay. Yeah, I was going to say you should come to Bali because my sister and her roommate are both coming to meet me and my partner Haley in Bali at the beginning of February. And so they’re both quitting their jobs and coming to test it out and so, okay. I can’t hear you now. Your mic just, it’s gone. Nope. Oh no, I can hear you.

Sean Grabowski:

Okay. Okay.

Rob O’Kruk:

Okay. So yeah, they’re coming in the beginning of February. So if you wanted to test it at that time, that’d be an excellent time because I’m going to be helping my sister, probably her roommate. And if you came then I could help you to figure out all that remote work stuff and living in paradise in Bali. It’s the best like Canggu, super close by. Awesome surf. Yeah. Anyways, food for thought, February, be there, be square.

Sean Grabowski:

I’ll keep it in mind. I’m actually, I’m kind of planning through my company right now to go and work remotely and want to go somewhere where I can surf. But I think Bali is a little bit far away from this time zone. It might be a little bit…

Rob O’Kruk:

Totally like 13 hours ahead.

Sean Grabowski:

Yeah, like that would be a little bit difficult. I’d probably like to pick somewhere where I’m only a couple hours off at the most, but Mmm. Yeah, I’m trying that out soon. I don’t know when it will happen, but I’m kind of in the midst of figuring it out.

Rob O’Kruk:

Cool man. Well I’ll keep me posted cause it’s interest. It’s been a while since we connected, but I’ve always enjoyed chatting with you and I look forward to so when we can actually hang out in person. So keep me posted on what’s going on.

Sean Grabowski:

Yeah, yeah, for sure. I’ll come visit sometime if you’re still over there. You’ve been there for, for ages now.

Rob O’Kruk:

I came back to Canada actually. I was just in Canada for three weeks, a couple of weeks ago. But yeah, it’s been two years of traveling, more or less.

Sean Grabowski:

Okay. Not bad dude. Mmm. So I kind of, we may as well just take the segway and dive into the digital nomad lifestyle that you’re basically living so, sure. I think a lot of people are really intrigued by people who have careers and jobs where they can pull that off. And obviously digital marketing is probably the perfect example of that. But yeah, I just kind of was curious to hear how you’re doing it, what kind of work you’re taking on and then I can remind you after, because I mean, feel free to rant for as long as you can. Cause these are basically for me or anyone who’s listening to kind of hear about you. But I’m also curious to hear if you find that there’s a downsides about that lifestyle because I know there’s gotta be some, it’s glamorous looking on the outside, but I’ve been there so I know that there are moments where you’re like, Oh man, I wish I was at home or something. Something like that.

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah, for sure. So let’s, let’s do this in two parts because there’s two questions. The first part is like how am I, I guess, doing it right now? And then what are some of the like challenges? So I’ll start with I guess how, how am I living as a digital nomad right now? And we’ve got to go back in time a little bit to get some context. Cause I think this is valuable for whoever’s listening. So when I started the digital nomad journey, it started when I was working doing digital advertising in London, Ontario, Canada, small city of 400,000. Conservative city. Not really an exciting place to live in my opinion. And so I was working at this kind of semi corporate job and you know, realized this is there’s more to life. I want to explore. Got this like travel bugging me after a trip to Mexico with the company, which led me then to go to Nicaragua and I’m like a two week vacation test trip to see if this digital nomad thing was cool For me. So I brought my laptop I to Nicaragua had an amazing time living in a totally different like world and I was productive as well. So shortly after I returned home to Canada and I quit my job. And then a few months after that I took a one-way flight to Bangkok, Thailand. And along that between like quitting and arriving in Thailand, I picked up some freelance digital advertising work from people I knew locally in Canada. And so I was traveling for a few months around Southeast Asia. And then that work kind of dried up and as me, and you were just talking about, it can be a challenge to work with people in Canada while you’re in Southeast Asia cause you’ve got like a 12 hour time zone difference. So that work dried up in Canada and I wasn’t really having success to get more from the people I already knew in Canada. So then at that time I was in Bali and I was surrounded by other people, you know, working remotely as digital nomads. And so I knew there was a way, I was like, there’s gotta be a way to find remote work. Like how do you consistently find well-paid work? And so I started exploring and like talking to people and researching online. And I came across this thing called Upwork. So Upwork is the world’s largest remote work platform. And yeah. And so I heard two sides of the story. Like people were saying, Oh no, Upwork doesn’t work because there’s always people charging like super low rates, can’t compete. Nobody replies to my proposals. But then I could also see with my own eyes, like you can look at people’s profiles and see like what they’re charging on an hourly rate and how much work they’re getting. And I was like, well, you know, tons of people are killing it. Like they’re absolutely successful. They are finding lots of work that’s well paid. So what’s the difference between these people like that say it doesn’t work and does work. And so I focused on the people who were having this success and learning from like, what are they doing that’s like different then these naysayers. And I quickly discovered, wow, there’s a, a huge difference between what they’re doing. And so I spent a lot of time learning about Upwork before I even tried it, like probably dozens of hours researching. And then I tried it with what I learned and had huge success. So I was earning like $30 all right. I guess we’ll keep it in USD. $25 USD an hour roughly. Previously with my freelance work from Canada and basically overnight on Upwork, I started earning like 70 or $80 us per hour. So almost like a three to four times increase my hourly earning without a change in my experience just by learning how to kind of position myself and use this remote work platform called Upwork. And so I rolled with that for a bit and that was going great. I was finding clients and getting paid more than I ever had in my life, like more money than I could ever need. I went to India for yoga teacher training. That kind of flipped my whole life upside down. I really started to think more about like, what do I want to work on? Like what do I wanna spend my time on? And the answer was not on helping companies, I don’t know or care about sell things online, which is essentially what I was doing. So after that training came back and like politely and professionally fired all of my clients and kind of traveled around for a bit, eventually without working, eventually starting to run out of money and I had to figure out how to earn money again, but I didn’t want to like sell out kinda, I didn’t want to work for these companies perpetuating consumerism and other values I was no longer was ignorant of or not resonating with. And so I started to explore like how can I find this digital marketing digital advertising work, which is for nonprofits and charities. And then I was successful in that. So then I started working with just charities and nonprofits. Then yeah, I think along the way, this idea for a project of mine, it’s called the mindful nomads treat came into mine. Cause what I had realized in this whole journey from starting in Canada to now working with charities and nonprofits, is that there’s a lot of other people who want to figure out the remote work stuff. Of course they want to travel, earn money remotely. Amazing. Okay. But even more so there’s I guess desperation in people for sure to find a way to be earning their living from doing meaningful work, which is kind of what I had explored with transitioning into working with nonprofits and charities. And so the idea of a mindful nomads achieve became this one week bootcamp where we were focused on teaching them how to consistently find well-paid and meaningful remote work as well as integrating mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. And so that came into fruition in the end of July of 2018 and it went amazing. We had like 13 people from around the world come and we did this week bootcamp and like people, you know, lives are changed to be honest. And people were crying at some points and laughing and just like, just like an amazing experience where for me, I really tasted what it means to do what you love and also feel financially supported. And that was, that was amazing. And so Since that experience i’ve been exploring, turning some of what the retreat became into like an online course and offering some coaching programs as well as planning more retreats for next year. So it’s still kind of a work in progress. It’s not completely supporting me financially yet, but it’s getting there, you know, one retreat is a huge, a accomplishment that I’m proud of and it takes a while to build, at least. Yeah. I think it takes awhile to build a business a project that is truly what doing what you love and supporting yourself financially. Like that’s just, that’s amazing. And so it’s a challenge. It’s a big challenge. And so that’s what I’m working towards now. And so I’m kind of back into dabbling, I have started coaching some people with the remote work stuff, which is going really well and people are getting really awesome results as well as supporting myself with some more nonprofit and charity, digital marketing work while I continue to kind of build this mindful nomads retreat project. So that was a lot of talking, but that’s what’s going on.

Sean Grabowski:

That’s incredible, dude. Wow. Okay. It’s kind of neat hearing this right from you because I’ve been seeing what you have been up to for a while now, but we haven’t really had the chance to catch up and actually, and I haven’t really actually heard the story of what’s going on. So that’s really actually a lot more than I than I expected you to talk about. But that’s amazing because on a similar note, I have very similar interests as to just exactly those, those two things that you’re talking about. Like I’m really becoming more and more into mindfulness. I think it’s an incredible topic that is so important in this day and age. And I’ve honestly kind of subconsciously, I’ve just been researching it and just reading it because it’s the content that I’ve been interested in for years now. And I’m at this point right now where I’m meeting a lot of like minded people in Toronto, you know, Toronto, a really great city to find a community of people that are, are like you. You know, it’s the biggest city in Canada, one of the biggest in North America. You’re bound to meet these people. And I’m just realizing how deep I actually am into this stuff just by slowly very casually reading books about it because I was slightly interested. And I’ve always been kind of thinking, well, I haven’t always been thinking about it, but more recently I’ve been thinking what, what can be done in this area? Like, what more could I do with all of these, these interests? So it’s really cool to see that you’re doing that and that you’re obviously kind of finding a lot of passion in your work because that’s how I think you really provide really valuable, valuable offerings to clients or anybody really is when you’re actually really interested in it.

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah, no, you’re totally right. When, when the passion is there and that’s when the, I like the perfectionism, but the impact comes because if you can be passionate about what you do, not only is it enjoyable to work on it, but what the end result looks like is just infinitely more amazing than something where you’re kind of dragging your feet and no, just doing it because you have to, that kind of mentality doesn’t, it doesn’t, it doesn’t bring beautiful fruits To fruition, if you know what I mean.

Sean Grabowski:

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And you enjoy, you enjoy the work. You know, there’s a lot more to it than just the simple process of the end result or not the process of the end result. There’s a lot more to it than just the process. But I liked that you brought up consumerism in there too. I’m kind of curious to hear if you found this, I’m almost sure that you probably did, but when you travel for a prolonged amount of time in places like Bali or Nicaragua, Mmm. Central America is basically where I did it for the first time. You have these incredible experiences and they’re easily, for most people, they’re easily in the top, wildest things that you’ve ever done. And you really experienced the value of them and they’re so simple. That’s the thing. It’s just you on a beach probably you have like a beer in your hand, you’re wearing board shorts and a tank top and sandals and you realize, I realized really, I feel like I actually wrote an article and it’s short. I’m really trying, I don’t really write articles like that as much anymore, but it was, I became a minimalist by accident and I just kind of talked about how I was just, I was just bouncing around. Yeah, yeah. Up to this point where things felt like things, having things, physical things felt burdensome and then make you think in all these privileged ways as well where you know you’re like thousand dollar iPhone is glitching out and you get all stressed out with that. It just, it brings so many more, it just complicates things and I mean I’m thinking about it now and I’m like, I haven’t done a really long trip in a place like that in a while and I’m realizing that I’m kind of living that way more than I have in a long time, but it’s refreshing. That’s what I really find refreshing about, about going to third world backpacker type places is you get there and it’s just you and the place that you’re in again. And you’re also just fully awakened to the fact that people live so different than you could ever picture without having seen it with your own eyes. And most people on the entire planet live that way. Like in Toronto and people in London, Ontario, you know, we forget that so often.

Rob O’Kruk:

I couldn’t agree more. Like that’s definitely one of the biggest takeaways that I’ve personally learned to travel is, you know, yeah. When you’re living in a place like Canada where we ha we are so fortunate to have like a really high quality of living. You hear about like, you know, the state of the world and how other people are living. I would wager and argue that, you know, for most people, like 90% plus you just, you really have no true conception or understanding of what that actually is like until you see it and experience it for yourself. And I think I have a nice story I could share about this that might be interesting for your listeners.

Sean Grabowski:

Yeah, go for it. Please share.

Rob O’Kruk:

So I was after my yoga teacher training in India. I continued to travel throughout India exploring and I can’t remember which city I was in, but I was traveling with my friend Annerude at the time. And actually funny backtrack. So when I was working in Canada and corporate there was this Google support that helped me with some projects and the guy on the Google support was named Annerude and he was from India and we worked together over the phone, across the world for like over a year. And you know, we became as good of friends as you can kind of working together on the phone with someone similar to your age. Mmm. And so when I had quit the job and I started traveling, like months later when I was going to India, I realized, Oh man, Annerude is from India. So I reached out to Annerude and he actually came and flew the farthest he’d ever been away from his home to meet me in his home country and then travel together across India for a few weeks. And so that was, yeah, that was humbling. Amazing. Like who, what kind of person? Like this is this just amazing, like there’s people out there who will, okay. Go the furthest they’ve ever been from their home just to meet you and welcome you to to their country. Like wow. So that was like just humbling. And in our two-week adventure, we spent traveling India Mmm. Together. And we stayed in a home through couchsurfing, right? So it’s a, you know, for people who don’t know, it’s a free app that connects you with people who are willing to host you in their homes for nothing, for no money. What is really expected out of it is just connection. Just, you know, meeting that person who’s hosting you and talking with them and just exploring, I don’t know, being human together really. And so we stayed with this small family a mother, father and their young son in their extremely humble and small home in a Indian city. And so we literally slept on like a, a pallet with a small mattress in their kitchen because there is no, there’s no guest bedroom, there’s no even guests bed. There’s just this spot to lie in the kitchen and there’s not really, there’s no true running water like the water they have comes from a storage tank on the roof of the apartment houses so many other people’s homes. And so there’s no shower and there’s no flushing toilet to shower. You fill up a bucket with water and with one hand dump it over yourself with the other hand, kind of scrubbing yourself down. And when you have to take a dump, you have to use your hand to clean yourself off and then you wash your hand after. But there’s no toilet paper. There’s no you know, so this, coming from Canada all of this like no shower, no toilet, like using your hand to wipe yourself off. Well, he’s just like holy moly like, it just like blew my mind and just like deeply humbled me because so many people in India live like that. And so many people in other countries in the world live like that or worse, like these people could be considered fortunate by many around the world. And so after you, you live that after you, you know, have your own asshole with your finger and you’ve never done that before, that changes. That changes your life. It really does because you can’t forget or you know, not know anymore how people are living.

Sean Grabowski:

Yeah. That’s an incredible story because that’s about as authentic of an experience as you possibly can have, honestly. That’s what I’ve heard about India. You know, that’s like India is on my bucket list. I was talking to someone about this recently and they, they asked me where is the first place you would go if you could go anywhere in the world? And I said India and it threw them right off. To me it’s just completely intuitive. It’s because it would just be a life changing experience. And Mmm. My dad and my stepmom, they have a, they have a, I have some friends who are a couple and they’re really, yeah, their friends are really adventurous. They basically been around the world and it’s not even like they’re backpacking or anything, but they reached out to them and said that they have a huge deal on like a Contiki tour, kind of a trip in India for, I think it’s two and a half weeks. And I dunno, I guess they see me as a well traveled person. I don’t see, I see myself as somebody who has a lot farther to go to ever be able to consider myself that. But they’re asking me my opinion and my response was, you have to do that. They’re going to be freaked out. Like completely. Cause they’re not, they’ve never done that kind of traveling at all. But I think the value in seeing that you have to see those things, honestly, I think you have to.

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah. It’s, I think it’s important. And a friend of mine, who I’ve made from, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia who I’m going to visit again for the third time in the last two years, in a few weeks, he shared his perspective on India as a country for, you know, really providing those humbling experiences because India is like, like everything. It’s like a Kung Fu punch right in the face. You can’t ignore it. It’s got so much beauty and richness of culture and delicious food and just, you know, it’s a whole other world and it’s got the challenging sides of it as well. It’s got intense poverty and crazy smells and just things that a lot of people who aren’t from that country are not used to. And he talked about he ever had kids. Like one of the first things he would do when they are of a suitable age is take their asses to India. Yeah. And just show them like, you know, Oh, you complain about like, you know, not having your ice cream or something, you know, insignificant like this and then them being there, being living in India and seeing how people live so much more humbly and with so much less than many other people do. And I was just like, yeah, like after my experience and yeah, I was like, I’m going to do that too. If I ever have kids, they’re going to India boot camp to kind of get an experience of, of humbling. I hope, that would be my intention and just, you know, experiencing the difference in how this country lives and hopefully providing that perspective of we are so lucky to be from where we are and enjoy the, the quality of life that we do.

Sean Grabowski:

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean I think those kinds of experiences can be really, really good for someone’s mentality like that. Because I mean, if you want to talk about mindfulness, which is basically, you know, approaching, there’s a lot of different ways you could describe mindfulness, but one aspect of it is approaching your thoughts in a very, [deep breath] in a conscious way, you know, choose those thoughts and be aware of them. Choose them when you can. But if you can kind of like, this is a funny way for me to draw a parallel, but [deep breath] I’m from A completely immigrant background. My grandpa came to Canada after the war because he couldn’t go back to Poland. Mmm. And, and my mom’s side is from Portugal and they were like literally poor farmers, like super poor living in a hut kind of thing. And to me, I never thought anything of it. I just, you know, grew up with those grandparents. My one grandfather is still around and I never thought anything of it. And then when I started traveling, Mmm, I kind of saw all these poor lifestyles that people live and I finally realized like, Oh my God, this is literally the reason my family’s moved to Canada is to get away from this kind of thing. And for me that’s like the most humbling thing. I feel like that is literally the best thing I have going for me is that I have finally realized what my grandparents went through and what kind of lifestyle they lived, because I’m like humbled by, I’m humbled by that almost every single day. It’s like I could have Mike situation could be so much shittier. Honestly. I’m literally, and my grandparents, their whole life was devoted to kind of changing that for their grandkids, you know? And I’m finally here. I live in Canada. I have all the opportunity in the world. There’s like nothing that I can really take for granted and it’s a cool thing to finally, be able to be awakened to that? Mmm. But I’m going to kind of twist this into the mindfulness stuff. So I’m kind of curious to know on your retreats, or even if you’re doing mindfulness teaching kind of on the side, what is your approach to that? Are you, is it more, is it highly ingrained in meditation and mindfulness type teachings? Or is it more about the digital nomad type of information?

Rob O’Kruk:

That’s a great question. So what the first retreat we did, I feel like it was really kind of evenly split, like to give everyone listening and idea of what a day at the retreat looked like. It was you know, we’d wake up fairly early in the morning and, and we’d practice yoga together for about 90 minutes, eat some breakfast, then we would have about two hours of kind of business focused, digital nomad remote work stuff. And then lunch, another two hours of remote work, digital nomad stuff. You would have an evening meditation and then dinner and then bedtime. Also worth mentioning is the food was all plant-based, which is definitely coming from a mindfulness based approach as being a mindful about what kind of food are we putting into our bodies. Like do we want quality delicious food? Do we want food that hasn’t caused any sentient beings to suffer? So the food, the meditation, the yoga, and then having one on one sessions in between the breaks. And in between all that stuff I just mentioned where people can loop in with each of the teachers about their challenges, whether that’s more the remote work and digital nomad stuff, or maybe it’s more about the meditation and yoga. So I guess we provide kind of a fairly even split and then give people a bit of freedom to explore and learn what, what they need, what’s going to be most helpful and nurturing for them.

Sean Grabowski:

Very cool. So from your perspective, how would you describe mindfulness? I know everyone kind of sees it from a different angle. I’m kind of curious to hear how you, how you see it. This is a great segue for me later today because later today I’m planning to record a video on what is a mindful digital nomad. And the way I was going to break it up was by starting with what is mindfulness. And I don’t want to claim to anyone listening that I am the guru and I know what mindfulness is. 110%. So I’m just going to share what mindfulness means to me. And mindfulness to me is just basically the awareness and mindfulness of what we do. So when you eat something, are you just eating like whatever the first thing you see is, are you thinking about like what is going to nurture my body? When you think about what you’re going to work on, like are you just doing what other people are telling you to? Are you maybe thinking about, you know, what, what was going to be good for me and the rest of the world? It’s just, I think being aware and present with the intention and reason behind our actions rather than just being on autopilot and just kind of going with the flow of everyone else’s kind of interest and desires.

Sean Grabowski:

Okay. I love that explanation. I think that really simplifies a thought that I’ve been kind of drumming through for a little while now. Mmm. Yeah. For me, I think mindfulness is, Yeah, It’s funny I asked this question before I’ve even thought about it myself, but to be totally honest, I mean I’m a very chill persona. Like I’m a very easygoing person. I think that’s both a blessing and a curse sometimes. But I have, well, I have a really overactive mind and at times in my life I felt a lot of anxiety over certain things. In particular it may not have seemed like yet, but when I was kind of in limbo, avoiding starting my career, just traveling all the time, I was really uncertain about what was going to come next and how to make it happen. And I would psych myself out. And I think I, I got into a really introspective point in my life where I started observing, why am I having these like self-doubting thoughts? Why am I having these very confused thoughts? So yeah, very similar to your explanation. It’s kind of, it’s like basically consciousness of like, instead of just thinking all these things, kind of watch them and be like, why do I think these? And Mmm. More recently, I’m going to say in the last couple of years, I’ve kind of really actually tried out kind of all these approaches about pre-programming those automatic responses. So instead of just acting on autopilot, you can kind of teach yoursubconscious mind to have an autopilot of your own choosing.

Rob O’Kruk:

Mmm, definitely.

Sean Grabowski:

And I found a lot of success in that and basically the whole root in that is that like if something triggers you and you’re just act out, if you act out of fear, like I’ll use a really good example because someone sent me a video the other day about anxious and avoidant relationships and there’s people in relationships who are very anxious and attached in an unhealthy way. And then there’s people who are avoidant whenever something freaks them out and if you’re feeling insecure and you’re just going to act out on that and it’s going to damage your relationship, that’s not what you want. Like it’s okay to feel insecure, but you need to not allow that insecurity to be the decision maker in your own life.

Rob O’Kruk:

Exactly.

Sean Grabowski:

I think that is, that’s the big picture view of what I look at, what mindfulness is. It’s not allowing those automatic responses to me be the decision maker in your life, but they’re not going to go away. Well, you can teach your mind to think in better ways, you know?

Rob O’Kruk:

Totally. And I guess I’m thinking I’d like to share with everyone is, you know, when you think about the people, when you hear stories from someone like myself or from Sean or whoever else is doing things and you’re like, wow, like I wish I could do that. At least for myself I think is really important to share that. I feel lots of fear. I definitely face anxiety. I have just as many challenges as anyone else and sodas, pretty much every single other human on this planet. So the difference between the people who like become a digital nomad or actually go traveling is not that they don’t feel fear and they’re not scared and you know that they’re just like, ‘Oh, this will be easy’. It’s that they feel that sensation, that emotion, they recognize it. Okay, it’s there. But then as you just said, they don’t let that guide their action. They still make the action. It’s like going through the fear, it’s pushing through it. It’s like you still feel it. It’s uncomfortable, it’s definitely not pleasant, but you still make the challenging step. You step up basically, and you work through that fear. So it’s, we’re not, nobody’s superhuman, nobody doesn’t feel this stuff. It’s just that some people choose to make set to take action in the face of those unpleasant sensations and emotions.

Sean Grabowski:

Absolutely. And the funny thing about all of that with pushing through and kind of making decisions that scare you in the first place is that that’s how you build up your confidence. And, I can honestly say that there was a point in time where I avoided doing any of that because I didn’t have the confidence and I came across some really awesome content that kind of changed the way that I look at things. And it basically was preaching that the way to build your confidence and build your purpose in life is to just get down to work. It’s going to suck. And it’s going to be terrifying. But once you’ve created kind of, a floor, you’ve built the floor for your house, then you’re going to feel a little more secure putting the walls up and then the next floor and, that’s how confidence builds, you know, taking those risks. It’s like a very cliche thing to say, but you grow when you really step outside your comfort zone. Like do little things every day. Let’s say you’re really shy. Mmm. Because this is a real thing that I, I’ve gone through at points too. Just say hi to someone once a day. Just say hi the lady at the grocery store. Once a day. Yeah. A few weeks later you’re going to be comfortable just talking to that old lady. Few months later, you’re going to be comfortable talking to young people your age. And then a few months later you’re gonna be comfortable talking to girls when you’re at a bar or something. Not that I do that anyways. Like I’m not really go to bars to meet, meet girls, but but yeah, you know, its all stepping stones. Exactly. I love it. I was just going to say, I totally subscribe to a stepping stone philosophy. It’s not that like you need to quit your job and travel the world tomorrow, but maybe it’s that you start, you know, finding a little bit of remote work on the side of your existing job and you slowly grow that to a point where you would feel comfortable quitting your job. And then you stay at your home country doing that remote work for a little bit and then you travel on like a two week test trip. And then after that if it went well, then you take the leap. But you don’t have to you know, jump into the Arctic ice water that you’re like deathly afraid of. You can just, you know, start with a little bit of wading in the kitty pool. And I think this is what I love so much about mindfulness practices, yoga and meditation, is that they are very much practices that give you strength and power for taking those little steps. Like for example, yoga, like a yoga asana practice, which is the actual movement of the body, which is what most people think of when they think of yoga is it’s not about moving your body one huge aspect of it is kind of finding this edge, you know, this challenging point where you’re like, ”Oh, I’m really tired. Like you’re just wanting to kind of like let your arms down and instead of letting your arms down, you hold them up for a one second or five seconds or 10 seconds and then you put them down. But you show up each day for that practice of where you’re finding your edge and your edge is changing each day and it’s just all about, yeah, it’s about changing that subconscious kind of autopilot too, instead of when something challenging comes up, just to kind of drop your arms down to just hold for one second for five seconds, for 10 seconds, and so it’s that practice of being at your edge, staying there that you do in your yoga practice, but then it extends into the rest of your life in a similar kind of philosophy and experience happens with meditation and you know, any other mindfulness-based practice will have amazing benefits that you get to experience in the short term while you’re actually practicing it. But the longterm value is in how it then creeps into the rest of your day, the rest of your life.

Sean Grabowski:

Yes. I love that. I think Joe Rogan talks about it a lot. I’m a huge Joe Rogan fan. But he [deep breath] he just talks about discipline and just fostering discipline and for him he talks about it often, but going to the gym for most people it’s not about getting jacked. It’s about the discipline that it fosters. And then [breath] you know, if you hold that, hold that habit steady for a long time, you’re going to start being disciplined with your, your other goals. That’s kind of where a lot of you can call them self help people. They literally start by saying, do you make your bed in the morning? Do you clean your dishes every day? Do you leave shit all over your apartment? Or are you clean? Like literally do that. Do those things. Be an adult and care of those things. Yeah. And then take care of organizing your schedule at work better and then everything, you know, having an organized life and the discipline to do that is a habit that helps in everything and it’s just, you don’t have to make massive progress all the time to be a good person or a good human. But just keep the ball rolling. Just don’t the momentum, just Let the ball keep rolling. It doesn’t have to roll like insanely quick to be showing anything, you know?

Rob O’Kruk:

It doesn’t even have to roll at all. I think it’s just about doing your best. If on one day you push that ball and it rolls far amazing and on the next day it doesn’t move an inch. That’s okay. It’s just did you show up and do your best and your best is going to change, but it’s about what you can do each day.

Sean Grabowski:

Absolutely. One thing that it’s kind of funny, I was actually, have you ever heard of Aaron Doughty?

Rob O’Kruk:

I’ve not heard of Aaron Dowdy.

Sean Grabowski:

Okay. He’s kind of a spiritual, he’s a little more on the mystical side of things, but I dabble with watching his YouTube videos once in awhile and I watched one of his videos like a year ago and it really opened my mind about something. And I watched a video like two hours ago when I got home from work and I was just eating dinner and it was like basically about the same topic. So I think he just rants about the same thing every day. But anyway…

Rob O’Kruk:

A thousand ways to say the same thing.

Sean Grabowski:

Yeah, exactly. But he, he was talking about basically resistance, like experiencing resistance and kind of the mindfulness side of that. And I don’t know about you, but when it comes to all of this process with me, that was the hardest thing to get over. And I think I’m just starting to embody this practice more now and personally I think it’s probably one of the best things that people can do. But you know, really in the end, mindfulness in general, like as long as I can remember, probably as long as modern Western civilization has been around, people are just trying to be happy. Right?

Rob O’Kruk:

Exactly.

Sean Grabowski:

We’re just not necessarily doing it in the right ways. We’re like buying cars or I’m sitting on dating apps just bouncing from person to person, trying to make ourselves feel better, whatever the approach may be. You know, one has their vices. Everyone has their things. Everyone’s been that, those places at different points in time in their life. But it’s kind of just a really confusing time right now because there’s so much overstimulation with phones and with sitting on Instagram kind of comparing yourself to other people. And life is hard enough as it is, you know? So for me, literally the hardest thing was seeing where I want to be. Most of the time, probably seeing that on Instagram, to be totally honest. Seeing people who live these lifestyles, who I want it would like to have. And that’s why I follow them on Instagram to kind of see what they’re up to, to kind of be inspired by that. But the resistance that I would always feel…I’m just going to literally use an analogy that Aaron Doughty used in one of his videos that, that I was watching. So basically, let’s say I’m at one corner, literally trying to cross the street and I just really want to be on the other side of the road. And the other side of the road could be anything. It could be a relationship that I want. It could be literally a specific person. I want to date. It could be a job that I want. It could be an accomplishment. But if you’re just kind of staring across the road and that you’ve put too much importance on that, then you’re just sitting there feeling all this resistance inside yourself, telling yourself, Oh, I want that so bad. I want that so bad. And you’re really just emphasizing how much you don’t have that. When really what, what you need to do is think about what you need to add, how you need to act, how you need to need to think, and how you need to feel to get over there. You know, embody it. If you want this kind of lifestyle, what do you have to be to get over there? You know what focus on becoming basically the kind of person who that would happen naturally for. So in, in your resistance, you might sit there and freak yourself out and you’ll like stutter and you’ll go to walk and then, and then it’ll turn red and you won’t be able to cross. And you’ve just kind of self sabotage yourself when just think about the kind of person who would just walk across the road. They would know where they want to go. Mmm. They would believe that they can get there. Obviously they would just walk across and that would be the action that they do. You know, it’s like when you almost put too much importance on things and put them on a pedestal, you create this resistance in your life that actually makes it so much more difficult to get to that point. It’s a hard concept to verbalize.

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah. I think I know what you’re getting at, but I agree. It’s something, maybe the logical mind likes to try to, understand and find a solution too. But then in our experience on, we’re in that moment where we’re feeling that resistance, it’s can be really challenging to kind of push through it and then, yeah, whatever it is, walk across the road or whatever you need to do. And so I guess, you know, what are, what are some of the things that we can do to kind of move through that resistance when we feel it. And I dunno, I, it’s, for me, that’s what, that’s what the meditation, that’s what the yoga, that’s what all these practices are for. It’s for those challenging moments.

Sean Grabowski:

That’s what they’ve become for me as well. Mmm. I’m kind of curious to hear what your take is on social media these days and the way that it might affect your mind.

Rob O’Kruk:

Okay. Hmm. Well, I definitely think that, Mmm. It’s very addictive because it’s engineered to be so they earn, you know, Facebook and these other companies earn or money when you spend more time viewing more ads. So they make it really addictive and it’s not with the interests of providing the best experience to the people. It’s with the interest of making the most money. And as we know from time after time of example of history, like when the interest of money is first, it hurts everyone below that. So that’s, that’s us. The people are using social media. Mmm. Like many things. It’s kind of a tool though, so it can be used for good and bad. One quick tip I have for everyone is you can get an ad blocker that works with Facebook. That’s the best thing in the world. I think, and you can not see ads on Facebook, which I love because the good sides about Facebook are, is community and social. Because, you know, when I’m traveling the world, I can talk to people from where I grew up. I can reach out to my parents and my siblings easily and I can find Facebook groups. I love Facebook groups for people. It’s just a helicopter going by second. I can’t even hear it. I can’t hear it. Amazing. Then I’ll continue. Yeah. Wow. It’s loud. So, Mmm. Where was that? Yeah, the groups on Facebook are amazing. Like what you said about being in Toronto, a big city where you can find people with like same interest and you know, find your tribe. Well that can be harder if you don’t live in a city with like 8 million people around. Right? So Facebook groups are amazing to see, connect with you will have the same interests as you and to make friends because friendship doesn’t always have to be in person. It’s amazing when it is, but sometimes that’s not possible. And so friendship really comes down to connection it’s connection between humans and connection between humans can be in person, it can be on the phone, it can be through social media. It can be through many things. So it’s a, it’s a slippery slope. It’s a dangerously addictive platform and something I wrestle with all the time because I’m using social media to, connect with people, interested in the projects I’m working on, but also thinking like, man, I don’t think people should spend time on social media. It’s like I kind of look at it where I’m almost using social media to connect with people. Like let’s say they come to my retreat where then we practice and learn the things that are actually going lead them to not using social media. So it’s almost like, I dunno, using the system to, take down the system. But does that make any sense? Because in the first place I’m using it I guess my overall sentiment about social media is that a high degree of like caution and wariness is healthy, but also, yeah, just realizing at the end of the day, it’s how you use it. That makes it good or bad and you have the choice, but it’s really addictive so it can be hard to use it for good only. Yeah.

Sean Grabowski:

I think it’s the habit that we all really need to be conscious of in this day and age. And it’s always interesting to hear people’s takes on it, especially people like yourself who they basically have a lot of things going on through social media. Like I know you have the digital nomads forum and it has a huge amount of people in there. So obviously you want to keep your community engaged. So you would be forced to be active on, on Facebook quite often. But yeah.

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah, I feel it. Yeah.

Sean Grabowski:

It’s such a tricky situation man. But it is tricky. Yeah. Cause it’s, it’s such a double edged sword. You know, I won’t quit it because I do like it. I’m also a very visual person. Like I love going on Instagram and looking at all the surf photography and all the snowboard photography and all the different directors and people who I’m following and seeing what they’re up to and also seeing what all my friends are up to. But I’ll use today as an example. Like I was on Instagram a lot yesterday, so I made the conscious decision I’m going to take probably a couple of days off and just not go on Instagram at all. Yeah. And I feel a lot more calm right now then I would probably on a normal Monday where I’ve looked at Instagram a few times now. And it’s just little subtle differences like that, but it’s exactly that kind of process. Like I don’t think it would be bad, but what bothers me is the fact that I even have to tell myself don’t go on it for two days, you know? And I have to like almost battle this urge because there’s something to be said about having control over those urges that you feel, you know?

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah, no, totally.

Sean Grabowski:

So I almost forgot about this. This is actually, I didn’t even write this down, but I’m remembering that you’ve done some silent retreats and you did some, did you do a full water fast for like multiple days as well? So I have done a three day water fast where I just drank nothing but water for three days. And for the silent a retreat, I think you’re referencing it did one 10 day Vipassana, meditation retreat, which is, yeah, basically 10 days of not talking and just meditating.

Sean Grabowski:

Wow. How did you find, how did you find the meditation retreat? I’ll ask that one first, but I’m really into fasting these days, so I’ve got some questions about that too.

Rob O’Kruk:

Cool. So the Vipassana experience was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But it was also yeah, immensely rewarding. Like we kind of talked about, or I kind of talked about like my perspective on yoga where it’s like each day you’re kind of coming to that edge you know, you’re just holding your arms up a little bit longer and y’all holding your arms up a little bit longer is no, not that hard. We can do it, but, well, Vipassana to me was like, it’s like coming to your edge and then like staying there for like 10 days and it’s really challenging. So the connection there, just, I think we’re back, but okay. I guess we have a pause and really taught me about was kind of craving in aversion. So we’re almost, it seems, at least for me, it’s like always in a state of like wanting something we don’t have or feeling aversion towards something we do have. And that can be like a sensation, emotion, thought, like things. It can be anything. And either way, craving and aversion, it just comes down to suffering. I guess it comes down to this sensation of discontent. And Vippassana teaches a very practical, a nonreligious approach to using a meditation technique to kind of find peace with the moment as it is, whether you want something or you don’t want something, just being at peace with that moment. And so it was, it was life changing and the experiential learning I gained through it has stuck with me now for sure for, it’s been almost a year. And that was it. That’s it. What I would say, just quickly about that experience.

Sean Grabowski:

So what do you think you took away from that experience that would be the learning that you use in your life now?

Rob O’Kruk:

Mmm, wow.

Sean Grabowski:

Or was it just a wild experience that kind of shaped your perception in a, in a different way?

Rob O’Kruk:

I think that is probably more accurate. Like it’s hard to put into words, but I definitely resonate with that. It was a crazy experience that I had like a permanent effect on my perception that is with me now. How that looks exactly, it’s hard to describe, but I would just say that I’m a lot more aware of what causes any discontent in my life. So just understanding a little bit more like, Oh, is this a sensation? Am I craving something? Am I feeling averse to something happening? Like what’s going on? And just being able to step back, recognize that and then having some tools in my tool belt to then work through that, whether that’s meditation or doing something else that I know is supportive for me. Maybe that’s taking a walk or going for a swim or whatever it could be. So I guess it just has helped me step back when I’m facing challenges of discontent in my life.

Sean Grabowski:

Very cool. And so for fasting, I’m kind of curious I would assume that you were doing that on more of a spiritual plane where you were doing it to kind of push yourself to kind of a specific state. Mmm. Like when I say that I’m interested in fasting, I’m not going to lie. I’m interested in the scientific kind of biological benefits that are being discovered more recently, like autophagy and how it helps your body kind of cleanse itself of like shitty old dead cells and things that can potentially cause diseases in you. And in, in the, in that way it can help with aging and whatnot. But since then I’ve been reading a little bit more about it and I’m, I’m hearing a lot more about kind of water fast and what you’ve been up to. And I’ve been really planning on doing a full several day fast at some point. It’s just hard to pull off when I’m like, so go, go, go living a Toronto lifestyle. You know?

Rob O’Kruk:

Yup. So, okay. Your assumption, sadly Sean is incorrect. Well, okay. That’s okay because I guess I went into the water fast with, yeah, definitely more of like, okay, I’ve read some scientific and like physical benefits I’m going to get from it. Amazing. So I was like my main motivation for trying it, but then while doing it and experiencing it just kind of, just being fairly open to whatever was happening. But like the mean first off it was amazing. Like it was challenging and physically unpleasant. But the takeaways were exceptional for me, like first realizing it really connected me with like some of the mental limitations that played in my mind about like hunger and food. Because yeah, it is, if you’re a decently healthy individual you can not eat anything and just drink water for three days. Like no problem. Like I was not that hard. Like I for sure at the end of it was like, ah, it was a challenge, but it wasn’t, you know, I didn’t think I was going to or like it wasn’t that extreme. It was like, Oh wow, I am really capable. My body is capable of a lot more than I thought. And so you realize, wow, well if I had that limiting belief about like what can do in terms of food and survival and water and you know, maybe what are some of the other limiting beliefs I have that just aren’t true. And so that was interesting from a physical body kind of perspective. It brought me extremely closer to, I dunno, just a connection with my digestive system. So that was an interesting side effect of the whole thing was that because I wasn’t eating a lot of new sensations and emotions and things were happening in the body and so it really draws it for me anyways, drew my awareness inwards instead of kind of out on the rest of the world inwards into what’s happening in my body. And then when breaking the fast and like slowly route introducing like juice and then like soft food and then back to regular food you know, really being aware of, Whoa, like how is this food making me feel? Because your awareness has been drawn in, especially to your digestive system so much. At least. Yeah, for me during the three days. And then it doesn’t really change as you start eating again. It does eventually. But once you, for me, when I was starting to eat back again, it really was still, ‘Oh, I just drank thiss juice, how do I feel?’ What’s my energy level like? Like how’s my stomach feel? And really definitely like significantly helped me start to understand a bit more like which foods help me feel neutral, like good, just balance energy, which makes me feel lethargic, which make me feel energetic. And that was amazing because that stuck with me and that’s, that’s really valuable. A relationship to have with your body and your digestive system is like understanding how food makes you feel. And yeah, I think that was probably the biggest takeaway. The other thing was I noticed I just had like, I guess like chronic bloating almost like after that fast. Like it wasn’t that I had lost weight, but my stomach was like, just like way more in. And it’s just like some sort of kind of like, you know, inflammation or bloating from kind of just eating food that’s not healthy for you. And going in that fast, I would definitely consider myself like a pretty healthy person, like eating decent food and you know, doing a lot of exercise and having an active lifestyle, still being impressed with some of the benefits I think you probably read about of how healing and beneficial fast and can be for the body. So I kind of experienced a little bit of that and that was, that was cool.

Sean Grabowski:

That’s so interesting. What kind of foods do you think you were eating before looking back now that were causing that, that bloating that you experienced?

Rob O’Kruk:

I think it probably, what have been, like, I’m 26 now, and I’ve probably been cleaning out my eating now for like a little bit over a year and a half. So, I mean, but there’s still a 24 and a half years of kind of, I wouldn’t say like horrific eating, but you know, eating a Western diet, like a lot of meat, a lot of processed food, refined sugars or, or, you know, refined carbohydrates, all that like, yeah, not, not good stuff like processed food. It turns out it’s not good or your body. And so eat that for 24 and a half years, there’s an impact and that’s why a lot of your body’s made up of can you change that? Heck yes. But it takes time. And so you know, your digestive system, it’s accustomed and has like, not a habit, but like, I guess there’s this, there’s just an impact on all your systems from eating that food for so long takes longer than I think a year and a half to kind of completely clean out. Like, you know, for every cell to have been rebuilt with the new food, like healthier a food diet you’re eating. So, yeah. Yeah, for sure. I think that’s a really, I mean I, I’m not a, I’m not a vegan. I eat meat, but I eat well, I definitely do. I eat almost like entirely plant based and meat. So I’m like, I’m not really eating processed carbs. Not as many. I mean I give in some times to like eating junk food. You know, we’re only human, but when you truly start eating a diet that is mostly made of healthy, like living, living plants and stuff, you know like these are vibrant things do putting in your body that are made of vitamins and nutrients it’s amazing how much your energy levels go up. I think that I do intermittent fasting and I’m doing it pretty aggressively these days. I eat like I would say one and a half meals after I get home from work. Like I probably like start eating some food mid-afternoon and then I eat a big meal when I get home from work. And that’s pretty much it. Maybe snack a little bit here and there. But I’m very conscious of how many hours I’m pushing it every single day and my bloating has like disappeared basically. And I also have cut out eating pasta or carbs. I like don’t really eat bread or anything anymore. Mmm. And it’s funny, like a lot of people kinda think that you’re just taking it too far when you do that kind of thing. But Mmm. My step mom is doing the same thing. My mom is doing it. I have a couple of friends whose moms are doing it and like they’re all seeing insane results. Like I just don’t think that those are all the, like as much as some people might feel like it’s a little bit of a hypocritical thing to say, I don’t know that humans were supposed to eat those things, you know, bread. Sure. It’s been in our culture forever, but, okay.

Rob O’Kruk:

Yeah, I would, I would, What I would say is there’s a lot of different like advice and diet and nutrition systems and formulas that different people recommend. Personally, I mostly eat, yeah, just a plant based diet. Whole foods. Try to avoid processed food. At the end of the day, like people just need to experiment. You need to try something, give it a fair try, you know, try it for a few weeks, a month at least, and see how you feel. Because people’s bodies are different. And you know, we’re all unique, but at the same time, pretty much everyone will benefit from not eating processed food for example. But you got to put it, you just gotta test it. You gotta test it for your own body and see what happens. You know, there’s information overwhelmed when it comes to nutrition. There’s too much different theories and systems. So just try, see what works and stick with what works for you.

Sean Grabowski:

Yeah, absolutely. And I like that philosophy of kind of listening to your own body because for me, that’s something that I heard with eating and that’s kind of where it started. But I think it’s something that applies to everything. You know, literally everything. And I believe that emotions are even attached to that. It’s like, why are you sad and stressed out? Are you forcing yourself to work in a job that you hate? Are you like doing, I don’t know, are you in a relationship that is bad for your mind mentality? Mmm. Were you feeling good? And then you’ve scrolled through Instagram and like compared yourself to a bunch of people and then you felt bad right after? You know, listen to like the way everything thats a stimulus are affecting you. Right? And I guess that goes full circle with the way that you described mindfulness too. Now that I think about it.

Rob O’Kruk:

How’s that

Sean Grabowski:

Mmm. Just kind of observing the way that things Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. Actually affecting you. Yeah, for sure. Cool. Well I think that’s probably a pretty good time to cut the recording. Okay. Some of these up crept out a crept a little bit longer over the hour Mark, but I like to keep them somewhere around there. Yeah. So yeah. Thanks for doing this man. I appreciate the conversation. I definitely well it’s always nice catching up and hearing a what you’re up to cause you’re always doing different, interesting Things that I don’t get to hear about too much from too many people.

Rob O’Kruk:

No, my pleasure, Sean. It was just nice chatting with you. You know, it was like cool ideas and good things for people to hear or just flowing. So thank you.