Reconnecting to my Heart through transformation
Mark [0:00] I just want to welcome Bill Hunter to the Heart of Connection Podcast. I’ve known Bill for many years and Bill’s an engineer. He was doing some amazing medical research for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In almost, what I’ve seen of it nearly two years of incredible research into developing a medical piece of equipment to help people in the third world countries. I’m just really pleased to be able to have this opportunity to sit with Bill and have a conversation with him about the Heart of Connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is.’ Welcome, Bill. Thanks, Mark. Do you want to just elaborate a little bit more on the brief bio, the brief introduction to your kind self?
Developing Medical Testing Equipment for Developing Countries
Bill [0:52] So this was back when I was probably over 15 years ago that I started work, or in this particular area. It was really about trying to deliver developing countries with particular items of equipment for pathology and for making health diagnoses for people. We wanted it in a way that was more affordable and better able to be more widely disseminated in developing countries. Where problems like malaria, and Dengue fever and so on, were pretty endemic. It was very hard for people to get access to testing to proper testing, which would confirm, whether they in fact, had this disease or not. So I was in a sort of a vanguard of engineers, I guess, at the time that was spearheading this development of what I’ll call small and low-cost technology. This would be able to be widely delivered to all sorts of different remote parts of the world, and enable people to have access to better healthcare. It was a very long journey, a lot of that equipment is now starting to find its way out into the world. So now there are there have been 10s of thousands of these instruments sold, and many millions of tests performed. With some amazing outcomes, with things like tests for river blindness and so on, that have come from this technology. Yes, it was a very interesting, very rewarding, and very, very long journey, shall I say?
Mark [2:37] Can I, as you sharing, watching your laugh there, would you do it again?
Medical Technology takes Energy, Time & Money
Bill [2:43] Well, I would if I had the energy, but I’m now 57. So, one thing people don’t realize with medical technology development is just the amount of time and humongous amounts of money that it costs. So it frequently takes 15 to 20 years to get something to market and often 10s, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. So, at 57, I really just run out of time to probably do it again.
Mark [3:13] Coming back to the conversation, the Heart of Connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is,’ I remember yesterday, at the World Heart of Connection Day gathering. You raised the question about, there weren’t too many men sitting with the group. There may be three of us. Yourself, myself and Stuart and John. The Heart of Connection to Self, Others, and ‘All That Is,’ is there a difference from your experience between men and women’s connection at the heart level?
Men Connect to Ego Driven Pursuits
Bill [3:47] Yes, I think so. I think women intuitively are able to make those kinds of heart to heart connection. Women are intuitive, I think I won’t say in all cases, but frequently less ego-driven, and more in touch with their, their Soul and their self than men are.
Bill [4:14] Whereas many men get caught up being ego-driven pursuits that end up just taking over their lives. As a result, they – it becomes difficult for them to relate to other men on anything else other than on an ego level. So, on that sort of level that says, what I’ve bought, or what I own, or what travel experiences I’ve had. The conversations don’t really go beyond that terribly much and they don’t go into areas which really matter, in my view.
Mark [4:54] How do you connect to yourself physically, mentally, emotionally & Spiritually?
Connecting to my Authentic Self
Bill [5:02] Well I think, the only way I could answer that is to say, until recently not very well at all (laughter). I was caught up just as much in the ego-driven track, perhaps as much as anybody. Although I would say that, the work that I was doing in the medical devices area was there was a bit more to it than that. I was genuinely working in that area, not because I wanted to make money out of it. I felt like we could actually really make a difference and leave something behind. To get away from the ego-driven pursuit that men sort of somehow land themselves up in including me and to redirect one’s life. To me, that’s been a very difficult process. It’s been, you know, working with you, particularly over the last year, it took from a major health scare to kind of upset the applecart I guess. I’ve described it to you before as a transformation, a journey. This isn’t some, for me, in my case, anyway, wasn’t some sort of magical transformational journey, it was a journey where I felt had been ripped apart by what happened completely ripped apart. It’s taken a, you know, a year with a lot of joy, but and a great deal of suffering to actually get back in touch with myself.
Connecting to Self – A Coming Home to Self
Mark [6:43] Is it long coming home to yourself?
Bill [6:46] Yes, it is a lot. It’s like coming home to the self is, in my view, like, for me, it feels a bit like coming back to being a kid again a bit.
Bill [7:01] When we’re children for those who can remember that far back? We don’t, we don’t have a separate perception of our egos and our self is sort of two separate entities. We just know who we are. We just know what matters to our self, just intuitively where we’re vulnerable. We know we need love when we do. As we get older somehow we get away from that. I don’t know why but we as we get older, we forget all those lovely qualities we had when we were children. This process to me has been a little bit about getting back in touch with those, that self that we had when we were young.
Mark [7:50] As you’re sharing it the word sitting in mind, is there a point in our male journey where we split off from that – that child and step into some form manhood?
Bill [8:06] Yeah, there is but we couldn’t say it happens like overnight or anything, it’s something that happens. I guess as we’re taught, or as we’re expected to, by society, take on responsibilities and take on a sort of the competitive aspects that are involved in being a man in modern society. Then somehow as time goes by we’ve taken on those responsibilities and competitive aspects so much that our ego or our persona seems to just come to completely dominate our lives. I think somehow we make the mistake of thinking that we are our persona that we project to the outside world, we are our egos. We are the possessions that we have. We are our career that we have – our glittering career or whatever. In doing so, we left the most important bit behind somewhere.
Connecting to Our Hearts
Mark [8:08] Is that important bit the heart?
Bill [9:16] Yes, we could call it the heart or the depths of the soul or the Self lots of words of the unconscious, all of those things.
Connecting to Our Emotional Self
Mark [9:26] The emotional self?
Bill [9:27] The emotional self, yeah.
Mark [9:30] I’m wondering as men that splitting off, do we split off the emotion and movement much more into the intellect because of the intellect safer than the emotionality? The emotional brain is not an easy part of the brain to manage (laughter). I’ve heard it’s something like 400 times stronger than the intellectual brain the neuro-cortex if I’m getting that right. As men, are we socially conditioned through early teens and into adulthood to have that separation, that head, and heart separation?
Men Splitting Off the Emotional Brain
Bill [10:13] Yeah, look, I think as men, obviously, not all men are the same. I think what strikes me as being similar for many men is that they do split off into, ideally, something where their coached or encouraged at school or by parents or whatever, to split off into something they can do, which they in many cases, aim to be as good as they possibly can be.
Men Aiming for Absolute Excellence and Perfection
Bill [10:43] They aim for absolute excellence or perfection, or to be the best. That might be not necessarily intellectual, although it was for me, it might be an area of sport that they feel like would excel at all. Something else, whatever that might be, it might be making money. I don’t know but there are lots and lots of differences. For me, it was about a sort of an intellectualizing of everything. Trying to be in my particular goal was trying to be the smartest guy in the room, that kind of thing. So the reason, looking at it in hindsight, the reason I guess why I was doing that was to try to figure out that, I think I was pretty smart, I still am. That was going to be the area where my ego was going to take me. But
Intellectual Knowledge versus Emotional Knowing
Bill [11:45] What’s the word? I can only say that the outcome of all that was that, you could have great knowledge, at the end of all that, but very little wisdom. Does that, do you make – do you know, what I mean, by that?
Mark [12:01] I get a sense of what you mean by that. Is it great knowledge but you’re missing the depth of the wisdom?
Bill [12:10] Well, even missing the wisdom, per se. In other words, all that knowledge doesn’t really can get you kind of nowhere, if you’re not really in touch with your true self if you follow what I’m saying.
Connecting to My True Self
Mark [12:27] The journey to you getting in touch with your true self, what has that been like for you of recent times?
Bill [12:39] I’m laughing because you’ve been there for some of it. Obviously, for me, it’s been very, very turbulent. There’s been no other way of putting it. As I said, that process of feeling like being ripped apart comes from a realization that the obviously very great deal of knowledge that I had stored up and my abilities to think scientifically and rationally about everything and be able to solve problems for most people, which I do for a living. Suddenly, all that wasn’t of any use to me anymore. I was struggling with my reaction to a health issue that had been diagnosed. Then started struggling with some as a result of that some mental health issues around anxiety and depression, insomnia, things like that. These were all areas where the tools that I had, in my knowledge bank, so to speak, were of no used to me. So, it was – the transformation, the difficult part of it was not knowing where to begin, not even quite as understanding what was happening to me.
Bill [14:03] Or how to deal with it, or even whether I could deal with it at all, rather than just probably the most helpful thing to know would be just letting it go. Letting the whole thing kind of unwind in its own sweet time. That was the heart. The hard thing was just feeling so vulnerable and out of control. This process of feeling like you were sucked into this never-ending black downward spiral with nothing in your arsenal to actually be able to do anything about it.
Connected to Dark Night of Soul
Mark [14:39] It sounds like the dark night of the soul?
Bill [14:41] Yes, very much.
Mark [14:45] I’m wondering whether that process that you’ve embarked on, and I’m wondering whether that prevents a lot of other men from going there? Do they prefer to stay up into the intellect, rather than traverse the inner landscape of their self-discovery?
Bill [15:06] Yes, I think that’s absolutely true. I think I wouldn’t wish what I’d been through on my worst enemy. Having said that, I’m also very glad that I’m still going through it, but I have been through, I hope I’ve been through the worst of it. It’s been an incredibly powerful journey of transformation for me, but it would have been much easier and many times, I suppose I wish to go back to the person I was where I didn’t necessarily have to think about my mental health or worry about it. It would have been a whole lot easier just to have avoided it and keep what I’ll call playing ‘extend and pretend.’ Just playing the ego game for longer and longer until death actually would have been a lot more comfortable to have done that.It's been an incredibly powerful journey of transformation for me Click To Tweet
Connecting to the Paradox of Inner Journey Work
Mark [16:00] There’s a paradox in the inner work. The inner journey work is learning to develop comfort within the discomfort. I guess when we’re in there, it’s the emotional brain, the emotional work – to me that a lot of our emotions underpins our mental health. It’s a landscape that we’ve – it’s not easily reversed. However, by reversing it, and the flip side of traversing, what have you noticed, it’s done in terms of developing your connection to yourself and others?
Bill [16:42] Goodness? Well,
Bill [17:47] Well, I think the thing about – prior to this whole period of transformation started for me. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and tried to control things quite closely, very much to my wife’s chagrin shall I say. She’s sitting over there.
Connecting to the Perfectionist that’s Run Me
Bill [17:18] With being a perfectionist, I think there’s a bit of this sense that, the rewards in life are always off in the distance. Things are never quite perfect, but you kind of keep telling yourself over and over when I’ve gotten over this problem, or when I’ve achieved this goal in five years’ time, then I will be happy. You get to the five-year point where the goal is and think, achieve the goal now, but I’m still kind of not really happy or content anymore. So you set yourself a new goal and you stretch. So, it’s sort of like, you’re condemning yourself to a life of unhappiness, really. We can never be perfect. So the part of this transformation is really about letting go of all of that. It is now saying, I’m good enough as I am, I don’t need to look for perfection or be perfect anymore. There’s a big release in letting all of that go. In my case, anyway, I’ve ended up living much more day today. Mindfulness is just such an overused term these days. I really do feel like I’m much more mindful now. If I go for a walk in the forest, I can just enjoy it, just as it is, even though I’ve done the same walk 10 or 20, or 50 or 100 times I can still find something in it to really enjoy. Rather than thinking, gee, wouldn’t it be great if I was walking in Switzerland or something right now? Does that make sense?
Re-Connecting to My Inner Happiness
Mark [18:51] As you’re sharing the next question in my consciousness was, what’s it been like to begin the journey connecting to your inner happiness? In the here and now?
Bill [19:06] Um, well, for me, it’s been a process of letting go of a fair amount of work, which was causing me stress. I now engage in some things that I’ve been doing which, which are more in tune with my inner self. Music has been a huge part of that journey. Picking up trombone again, which I hadn’t played for 40 years and joining some local bands and orchestra. Not just loving playing with those groups, but really loving the group of musicians that I’ve been playing with and that’s been really very restorative for me.
Mark [19:49] So have you noticed as you’ve re-engaged, are noticing a different connexion to members in the band, to the orchestra?
Noticing My Connection has Evolved
Bill [20:00] Yeah, absolutely. The people that I’m talking to and interacting with there, are not people who are doing things for an ego type pursuit their – we are just there for the sheer joy of making orchestral music. We had one concert we did about a couple of months ago in St. Mary’s Basilica in Geelong. It is a beautiful old Cathedral and we played some of Dvorak Slavonic dances and some excerpts from the Handel’s Messiah. It really moved me. I could almost hardly play some of the pieces because there were tears streaming down my face. We all felt – there was this, even without speaking, there was this connection with other people in the orchestra afterward. It was just almost on a level, you couldn’t put words to-to say to me that we did that. That was really special and powerful but I can’t even put words to it to explain why.
Connection beyond Intellect
Mark [21:01] Is it a connection beyond intellect?
Bill [21:04] Totally. Yeah. It’s not. It’s reward, where it happens, where the emotion is felt as either tears or sometimes, the French have a word called ‘frisson’ which means when you have an experience, where you have a shiver that goes down your body, from the top of your head to your toes, and you can feel goosebumps coming up. It’s an emotion that you might, people might remember when they fell in love for the first time and it’s very much like that.
Mark [21:39] What’s it like to connect to that feeling?
Connecting to the Essence of Our Spirit Nature
Bill [21:42] Well, if you could sell a drug where you got that kind of emotional response, you would earn a great deal of money from being able to sell it.
Mark [21:55] Let’s try and bottle it up (laughter). That connection? If you could learn to anchor into that connection that you just described, how would life be? How might life be different?
Bill [22:12] Well, I don’t think you could anchor into it all the time. It would just be, I think, I remember excuse a little bit of intellectual in me. I think I remember a passage in a George Bernard Shaw play, once called ‘Man and Superman.’ He said, in one of the passages to be happy, or all one’s life, no man alive could bear it. It’s a bit like that you couldn’t actually live on that kind of high plane. To experience that sporadically, even, especially when you’re not actually looking for it to happen. It just comes from some magic thing that just happens out of the blue is just, you know, and that’s what we live life for. Really, those are the moment that living just seems so magical and joyful and powerful, makes everything worth it.
Connecting to the ‘All That Is’
Mark [23:07] Can I use that as a segue into the next part of the conversation about the ‘All That Is”? I was just wondering whether that connection that you just described is like a connection to an ‘All That Is’?
Bill [23:23] No how do you mean I’m sorry?
Mark [23:27] When you’re in that zone, you said, we can’t live in it all the time, but we can access it and when we access it. Do you go beyond yourself? Do you go to a different zone? Like the ‘All That Is,’ this is just, wow, an incredible space? It’s just, I’m there. The intellects not there. Something else, it’s just there, it’s just like a magical connection.
Bill [23:52] Yes, it’s a feeling of something that’s within the self, but also, how can I put it – something that also feels to be much greater than the self as well. Something where we feel somehow magically connected to the rest of the universe, out to infinity. Just for a very brief fraction of time, it’s like, at this moment, we just, deeply get everything.
Deep Connections Beyond We Let Go of Our Mental Health
Mark [24:24] What do you notice happens to your mental health when you connect into that moment?
Bill [24:29] Well, it’s not, it doesn’t even come into play. I mean, there’s no anxiety there, or depression, none of those things even remotely, come into the consciousness. So, from that perspective, it’s in the moment, the idea of mental health doesn’t even exist. After the moment is finished, it’s, of course, no doubt, extremely therapeutic. It’s therapy music for the reason that if something – if we then spiral back down again, and we do feel, sad or depressed or anxious, we can always come back to that moment and say, but I can always get back. I still always have the hope of getting back to that time, where everything feels joyful and magical again. So those are the things that – those are the moments that, well in my case, anyway, keep me going.
Mark [25:28] What else do you do to be able to connect to that ‘All That Is’ – is to touch in with nature. Does nature help connect into that space as well? As the music?
Connection to Nature ~ we are Small Part of the Infinite
Bill [25:39] Yeah, so in my case, really, again, since this journey started a year or so ago, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time in nature. I’m very fortunate to live in a beautiful place on the south coast. I’ve got great access to the forest and so on around here. I spend most days, I spend an hour or so or more a day, just walking in the forest, and just connecting with nature, really. Just feeling like I’m a small part of something its a cliche, but feeling like I’m a small part of something that’s infinitely greater and older, and gonna be here a long time after I’ve gone. And it sort of puts your life into perspective, not only in terms of being, you know, a relatively small piece of, you know, not just the life on this planet, but whatever else might exist out there in the universe. So a very small particle in space, so to speak. When you’re surrounded by cliffs that have got fossils in there that are hundreds of millions of years old, you also feel like, temporarily, in other words, in time, you’re a very small part of the time in history. So you’re small, where each of us tiny, infant, infinitesimally small, both in space, and in time, and yet, we’re also all equally very important. So, in other words, we matter entirely, and we don’t matter at all.
Mark [27:20] Can you describe what happens, the sense of yourself, when you’re out there in nature in that smallness? Or just how you’re describing? Where does your sense of self? What happens to the sense of self in that?
Connection to Nature ~ we lose Our Ego
Bill [27:34] Well, a sense of self from an ego standpoint, it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter at all. I feel like, I’m a part of all this. I do matter. I do connect to it all and as does everybody else. I very lucky to be able to be there, and being able to experience it and feel it.
Mark [28:01] Can I ask a really weird question. I was just watching you, as you’re sharing that with me. When you connect, where do you go? When you connect in that, to that universe you’re out there in nature? Do go out there with nature?
Bill [28:17] Yeah, very much so. I think as I look at a tree and I see a tree that’s, got, for instance, might see a tree where it’s been split by perhaps lightning or something. It might have some dead branches growing off it, but the main trunk of the tree is, is still alive, and you might see its roots exposed. You think, well, e’s this tree, it’s been there for goodness knows how long and it’s damaged. It’s weathered a lot of storms and things over the years. It is still there, and it’s still alive. Those roots that are there in the ground, are still, notwithstanding all it’s been through they are still solid. It’s still a robust tree, it kind of causes me to look back on my own life and think, well, you’ve been through some storms too. Maybe you’ve lost a few bits and pieces here and there. You’re still here, and you’re still kicking on. So, it just – it’s funny, I kind of find it inspiring in a way.
Connecting to the Peaceful Loving-Kindness in Nature
Mark [29:29] Is there a peaceful loving kindness and in nature?
Bill [29:37] There is but you kind of can’t force it. There’s a peace that comes on a sunny day in a forest that where everything feels – like you feel connected to nature in some way. That’s impossible to put into words. Everything feels all connected together. Me, the earth, the forest, just wildlife that’s around, the insects, just everything feels. There’s oneness. People talk about oneness and that feels like you’re part of this oneness. I can’t describe it any better than that.
Mark [30:13] You’re describing it really well and I can sort of see it in you. As you’re sharing it, is it there in your body now?
Bill [30:20] Yeah, absolutely. The energy.
Mark [30:24] Yeah, the energy is just there, as your sharing the story.
Connecting to My Spirituality
Bill [30:29] Well, I think, you know, a few years ago, my wife’s very spiritually in tune. For an engineer with a rational brain word like transpersonal energy or energy with other parts of nature. That, to me all sounded like, you know, great piles of b/s but when, when you actually do experience it, and you experience it as a real thing, it’s amazing yeah.
Mark [30:59] It’s amazing going to just share the space with you just now. There’s a connection there is sharing it. It’s hard to put that into words. That rational, logical and it’s like the intellectual mind just can’t. It doesn’t have the language that the emotional, the spiritual self does.
Bill [31:22] Yeah.
Mark [31:23] It’s totally out there. I’m wondering as men, the more – ‘a woman once said to me, she said, “I just wish my husband would connect the dots done there.”
Bill [31:34] Yeah.
Men’s Mental Health is in Crisis
Mark [31:34] I’m wondering what the more we men do, begin to explore, to connect the dots, those deeper dots to the soul wisdom? How might that then change the way men operate in this world?
Bill [31:51] Yeah, well, that’s the $64 million question I guess. They’ve been for men I think that been luminaries who’ve have looked at these issues and realized that our egos can only take us so far before we need to reconnect like this. I’ve spoken to you before about, I feel Carl Jung was one of those people who really got that. In the history of religion, there were many people who’ve been well aware of that. In fact, probably for thousands of years, particularly, men have been much more aware of the fact that their Souls. They know souls need feeding, more so than the ego probably does. You could trace back to Greek mythology and find plenty of examples of that. It’s not just me saying, of course, but since the industrial era, men have just become so focused on achievement and hard work. They have sort of abandoned, they’re emotional sides. At the moment, I think, for many men, in my opinion, anyway, we’re facing a crisis in, men’s mental health because of it.
Mark [33:11] I’m wondering, since the industrialized, is it that women don’t want to fail in it?
Bill [33:16] Yeah, I agree.
Men Avoiding the Emotional Heart
Mark [33:18] That’s a scary thought, very painful thought, let’s not go there. Let’s stay up in the intellectual brain trying to be successful and win.
Bill [33:26] Yeah, well, the sad side of that is that for men who, who do fail and I’ve been so fortunate, I’ve had so much great support around me, when I’ve been going through all this, that I don’t see what I’ve been through in any way as a failure. It did probably feel like that a bit at the start of the journey. If you had such – if you are feeling like a failure as a man and you didn’t have a good support system behind you, for instance, you have been divorced or you are alienated from your family, or your kids or wife or whatever, then and you didn’t have access to good, you know, people cared for you I can, I don’t know how I would have gotten through this period without, especially without my wife, being able to help me through it.
Your Advice for the Young People on their Journey
Mark [34:15] Well done. Just one last question, Bill, before we close. What advice would you like to give young men falling behind you in their journey?
Bill [34:28] Good, good question. Stay, don’t lose your sense of self you had when you were a kid. Keep looking back to the things that you loved when you’re a child. What really grabbed you and follow that. If you can align that with something where obviously you can make a go of things in the world, and that’s going to be the best of best of ideal worlds. Yeah, keep that child intact.
Mark [35:00] Thank you for that advice and thank you for the lovely opportunity to have a conversation with you about the Heart of Connection to Self, Others and ‘All That Is.’
Bill [35:09] Well thank you Mark, and as you know, you’ve been a big part of helping me through all this and I’m forever grateful to you for that as well.
Mark [35:16] I appreciate and honor the trust is we journey through it together.
Bill [35:20] Thanks again.
Mark [35:21] Namaste.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai