Chris Grosso: ‘Dead Set on Living’, Meditation, Introversion and Slayer

Author, Chris Grosso, has plunged deeply into the thick of his life to ignite his ability to create a state of peace within irrespective of outside circumstances. Having recently released his compelling new book, ‘Dead Set on Living’, Chris candidly showcases that he has waxed and waned through a variety of life experiences and in turn, discusses the universal impact of debilitating times with a variety of visionary thought leaders. I caught up with Chris for an intimate deep-dive into the mind of a man who has traveled through his own self-imposed hell to set himself free at last through bidding farewell to the past.

What have you learned about yourself throughout the writing process of ‘Dead Set on Living’?

I learned a lot. Almost too much. ‘Dead Set on Living’ was a very different book for me. The first two books that I have written, ‘The Indie Spiritualist’ and ‘Everything Mind’, were each part autobiographical in which they intertwine various teachings or experiences that I have had. I mean, that is certainly still a part of ‘Dead Set on Living’ because the book is based on my experience of nearly dying from a relapse, yet after that is discussed, each chapter is a conversation with different experts in their field. It was a really interesting experience for me to share different perspectives and viewpoints in which at times, yes, we did specifically talk about my own experiences and the relapse, yet I was trying to keep it more broad and focused on wellbeing. You know, asking one another why we as human beings return to these self-defeating behaviors.

Chris, I love that you also tackle where the inclination to dive back into self-defeating behaviors begins, and why we revisit these past tensions that we’ve created even though we know deep within that they stir up our personal hell. I perceive that revisiting these past behaviors and tendencies still ignites a thrill, and throughout ‘Dead Set on Living’, you overall ask individuals why we turn our back on ourselves.

Yes. Absolutely, so true. You know, asking both yourself and others, “What is lacking?”….I can only speak for myself but within the process of writing this book and even after, I recognize that there is this void within me. Spiritual practices have helped. Attending various recovery fellowships has helped. Exercise has helped. Healthy living has helped. Music has helped: all of these things have helped in various ways. I take a very integral approach to my life, but the book really did help open my eyes to a lot of areas in my life that I had all of these voices and perspectives on.

Also, one key takeaway that I have learned throughout writing this book is that there is no singular answer. There are as many answers as there are unique individuals in this world. We all have our own set of circumstances and we all need to find our own way. Yes, we learn from others, but we have to really learn how to tune into our own intuition, feelings and what really works for us. There were certain things that I had learned that I was still doing throughout writing this book that weren’t serving me at this moment. I have taken on different practices and created a different structure because that is what I need in my life right now to keep me alive and breathing. It is that serious for me.

It is important that you have learned that about yourself. It is important that you are serving yourself.  You do seem quite introverted. Tell us about some wellness practices that you incorporate into your daily life to heal yourself from excess stimulus.

Great question. It is something that I actually have had to work on for quite some time. Introverts are introverts and extroverts are extroverts. It is what it is. In my past, it has been somewhat detrimental to my wellbeing when I wasn’t doing various practices because I would isolate and be by myself and over time, the void that I spoke of would get louder and larger. I would end up numbing or quieting down the void with substances.

Let’s take this for a turn real quick: I just want to make it very clear that just because I am in recovery, by no means do I frown upon those who do use substances, etc. I have friends that can use substances, yet I can’t.

Absolutely. You have recognized through experience that substances do not align with you. There are many individuals that can find and live out a balanced life while using substances, yet you know deep within that you cannot. I entirely understand.

Yes. I wish that I could be one of those people who can find balance while still being a social drinker or recreational marijuana smoker, yet I have been there and done that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me. There are a ton of people in recovery that have this dogma created within themselves that deters them from talking or affiliating themselves with others that are still using. I mean, to each their own, yet for me, that is not how I roll. Back to the introverted nature topic. It is quite strange how I have ended up within this line of work. You know, writing is something that I do by myself, but then I go and speak in front of large groups of people and for whatever reason, I am able to put my introverted nature aside. I guess it is because when I am speaking, it is not really about me. I show up in service. My talks are not always about addiction and recovery, they are often about spirituality or general wellbeing, and these talks are also about helping others and meeting them exactly where they are at. The main practice that has helped me reach this place is meditation. Often others hear that word and think of just sitting cross-legged on a cushion…..

Meditation is so much more than that.

It really is. There are hundreds of different styles of meditation. I am glad to see that meditation has become more accessible for people than it has been in the past because the benefits are incredible. The physical, emotional, spiritual and mental benefits of meditation are tremendous.

Yes. I perceive meditation as a way of being.

Yes! Absolutely. Sure, I certainly think that a formal meditation practice is important because it does lay the groundwork or foundation for an individual, but the thing for me is that I don’t leave meditation on the cushion when I go about my day afterwards. I bring meditation with me.

Yes. I perceive that meditation is a universal way of being in which the practice serves as the beginning point of reflection highlighting the daily world that you desire to create for yourself.

Yes. 100%. The cool thing is that when you are cross-legged and within the “practice”, you are there. You have shown up, present. I have written in past books about having very spiritual and interconnected experiences. For instance, some of the most vibrant meditative experiences that I have written about were through listening to bands such as Slayer, Motorhead and Van Halen. You know, three bands that you typically wouldn’t affiliate with anything that has to do with meditation or anything spiritual. But then again, that is because people tend to put their preconceived notions on what is or is not spiritual.

There is a band that has been broken up for quite some time by the name of Isis. They were very doomy, yet transcendent and pulsating. I remember listening to them prior to being intrigued by spirituality. I did have the opportunity to interview their singer, Aaron Turner, shortly after Isis broke up. I forget exactly what he had said, but Aaron was likening their riffs that would go on and on and on as meditative.

Yes. Those ongoing riffs lead listeners into transcendental states.

Yes. Exactly. It made me think back to how I would drive for 45 minutes back and forth to college back in the day. I would listen to Isis and next thing that you know, the commute would be over; I would be at school. I wouldn’t remember the drive at all. It wasn’t because I was lost in thought, it was because I was literally meditating on the music, but I didn’t have any spiritual context to put around it. I was lost in simply being a human being which makes me think of how we all categorize ourselves. I feel more like an experience sharer rather than an Author or a Writer.

Isn’t that something? Respectfully, I perceive that the reality of the matter is that within our modern-day, it is elemental toward one’s growth to brand themselves and place themselves into that narrow “title” and definition. It’s the nature of the game.

Yes. For me, that has been a part of the hindrance because I am terrible at branding, marketing and self-promotion. Yes, I do post about my books and I do play the social media game because I do believe in my work, but it’s hard for me. My books do well enough, I mean, they are all out with major publishers, yet I think that if I was better at branding and playing the game that I certainly would be doing a lot better.

Chris, it doesn’t seem like you’re out for shiny stars and your name on billboards. It seems as though you are out for a life of peace and wellness. It seems as though you are out for what you have discovered that you desire for your life to be.

Yes. Thank you so much, it is nice to hear that from an outside perspective. You nailed it. I am grateful that you have perceived me in the light that I would like to be perceived in. At the end of the day, that is where my heart feels calm. My heart feels calm when I am being of service in a very authentic way that does not compromise my own values or integrity. I receive messages every single day from people who have either heard an interview, read a book or saw a talk that I did on YouTube. These people take time out of their days to tell me that what I have shared was beneficial to them in some way. I respond to every single message that I get, no matter if it takes me one day or a week. I don’t ever want to get to the point in which I can’t. I don’t have an assistant. The human connection matters.

Yes. Absolutely. It builds deeper meaning within the purpose of your journey. You are so seasoned. If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would you say?

You know, I was actually asked that question a couple years ago. My answer then was…

“Breathe and chill the f*ck out”

In retrospect, I would tell myself to breathe and that it is going to be okay. Today, there is a quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti that really resonates with me.

“Do you want to know what my secret is? I don’t mind what happens.”

That is so universal and expansive. It showcases the mental conceptions that we subconsciously create and how simply being is where we are our highest selves.

That’s it.

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