Frank Blaney: “Cheerful indifference”

We need to cultivate an attitude of “cheerful indifference” to what other two-legged creatures think of us. To do so goes against a core value we have held precious as humans for millennia; acceptance. To not be accepted in hunter-gatherer cultures meant sure death. Ironically, seeking that same acceptance of others today can drive us […]

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We need to cultivate an attitude of “cheerful indifference” to what other two-legged creatures think of us. To do so goes against a core value we have held precious as humans for millennia; acceptance. To not be accepted in hunter-gatherer cultures meant sure death. Ironically, seeking that same acceptance of others today can drive us insane. Some young people are committing suicide due to negative social media posts about them.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewingFrank Blaney.

Frank Blaney is a Leadership Development and Self-Care Specialist. He is a Certified Instructor and expert in Qigong & Tai Chi and as CEO of “Download Qi,” works as a Self-Care Consultant with top business leaders and their organizations. He earned an M.A. in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding and is the author of “Qigong: The Quick and Easy Start-Up Guide.” In addition, he is a Second Degree Blackbelt in Jujitsu and a Self-Defense Expert. Mr. Blaney has decades of experience as a Business Leader in Executive Level Management, Training and Professional Development and unites these business tactics with the power of Qigong in his training program, “Qigong for Peak Business Performance.”

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was raised as the youngest of three brothers by a single mother in Los Angeles. She worked in low income jobs all our childhood, so we were raised in predominantly low income neighborhoods. In my youth, I was often a victim of gang violence. These conditions instilled in me an empathy of the real world difficulties many young people of color in low income communities of have to contend with. This also instilled in me a passion for entrepreneurship, social justice, healing and a life-long addiction to martial arts.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Honestly, there were no 3D models to follow regarding my career. I discovered Qigong (pronounced, “Chee — Gong”) while going through a personal health crisis over two decades ago. I was having severe heart problems and struggling with clinical depression. I was advised by a PhD pharmaceutical researcher that some of the drugs I had been prescribed had no longitudinal studies to demonstrate their long term physiological effects. They recommended I try a wholistic approach to address my symptoms. Since I was a Black Belt in Jujitsu, which emphasizes relaxation when fighting, I did not want to learn Yoga, which involves lying down. I wanted the relaxation to bleed over into my marital arts performance.

Then I heard about “Chinese Yoga,” also known as Qigong. I started doing it for only 10 minutes a day, and felt significant relief of my symptoms within just a week. I was shocked. Being a natural skeptic, I needed to learn the “why” of how this stuff worked physiologically. After studying that, I decided to get trained to help others.

Since then, I have been traveling the world working with business leaders and their organizations to incorporate this easy form of self-care into their corporate culture. So, there was no real business model for this type of career trajectory. It (like most effective business solutions) just grew organically from the circumstances of a real world problem — — my own personal physical and mental health crisis.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Though my single mother never became successful monetarily, she was very successful as a human being. Growing up without a father, I had to model my whole existence as a man after her behaviors. So what did I learn? I learned that you always do the best you can. You treat other people with respect, regardless of how much money they make, what language they speak, what color their skin is, their gender, their sexual orientation, none of that mattered to her. She was proud of herself as a woman and a mother. Growing up with her, I became what I call an “organic feminist” and an advocate for those who do not have my privileges.

The biggest business takeaway I received from my mother, Helen, was simply to just show up when you say you are going to show up. She mainly had low paying “piece work” jobs in factories and did not have a car. She walked or took a bus many miles to work. Though her shifts started super early, yet she was always there. In spite of her fatigue of raising three sons by herself, struggling to make ends meet, etc., she always showed up. That dogged determination spilled over to me by seeing it modeled in 3D during my formative years. That “Just showing up” mentality has opened many doors of opportunity and helped me maximize them. Get off your ass, get your best clothes and mindset on and “just show up.”

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I hope this does not sound too flippant, but I literally do not believe there is such a thing as an actual “mistake.” It’s called a “learning curve.” No one does anything perfect — — we drill this into our students in martial arts. We always strive for “perfection” in a sense, acknowledging we will never arrive. There is always room for improvement, even with so-called “Masters.” I personally do not like using that term, because in my philosophy is there is no such thing. Some students are simply father along the road than others and have the privilege to help others along the path.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

That is the hardest question of all! One book? I have been an avid reader since I was a child. I love and have learned from so many great books. In particular, I love the Ancient Classics, both from the West and Asia. If pressed hard to pick one, I would say the Bible. It is a profound source for understanding human psychology which is critical in life and in business. It is a source of strength for me and many other peoples over centuries, but it is also greatly misunderstood and too often used to judge and harm people.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Absolutely! I love quotes and use them often in my training with clients. My favorite quote is from the ancient Roman historian and statesman, Tacitus: “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” This resonates with me so much, because when I reflect upon the highlights of my life, all of those experiences involved overcoming fear.

When I graduated high school, I set out on a 4000-mile solo bicycle journey through Native American reservations of the Western United States, much of it through the Rocky Mountains. I almost died two times on that trip. Many people told me not to go alone, but I did. For me, everything good came from something dangerous people warned me not to do. Yet, my desire for adventure outweighed my fear, and it all came out gold. Face and defeat your fears. Let go of vain attempts to cling to safety. So-called “safety” is an illusion and does not exist. Go for what your heart’s desire tells you to go for. That is the only true safety in our brief lives.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

One key project excites me right now. I recently completed an online training program called, “Qigong for Peak Business Performance.” It condenses the trainings I have done with business leaders worldwide into an online format that can be delivered to employees to help them increase their inner strength, laser focus, and centered power. These are the three key units of the program. It combines my years of successful business principles into kinetic, subliminal, as well as cognitive pathways that drill in positive attitudes, clear mindsets, and centered calm. As a beautiful byproduct, it also boosts the student’s immune systems via the Qigong movements, which we need more than ever during this COVID-19 pandemic.

I had always wanted to create this online course so I could spread these tools beyond where I could physically be. When COVID-19 hit, I knew I needed to complete this a.s.a.p. My hope is to get as many business leaders and employees doing these movements and learning these success principles as humanly possible. Then, we can turn the profound hit the COVID-19 pandemic has been into a long term win. We can improve our health, focus, and our quality of life.

Frankly, our society needed a wakeup call to take our self-care, time and health more seriously. I believe wise business leaders can turn this pandemic to their advantage by investing into the health and personal development of their greatest resource; their people. Stand by and empower your people, and they will fight hard for you and your organizational mission.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

First of all, I think it is helpful to begin to rethink our approach to breaking down these aspects of our being into separate components. Part of the reason our Western society falls so short in these areas is due to this cultural reflex we have to compartmentalize that which is intrinsically one unified whole.

For example, if your emotions are reeling due to your lover cheating on you, this will radically affect our mental health, our spiritual health, and certainly the physiology of our physical health. We all know this of course, but the sooner we can outgrow this tendency to dichotomize reality, the easier it will be to instinctively sense how to heal ourselves as a one unified being. The truth I teach my clients is that we can enhance our power by training to unify our mind, body and will into one cohesive unit. This is what I call, “Centered Power.”

Yet, in regards to focusing specifically on our mental wellness, here are three tools:

  1. Simplify and prioritize your obligations. The less extraneous issues and responsibilities you have on your plate, the more free and spacious your mind will feel. This takes focus and discipline, but will save you a lot of mental anguish. Mercilessly and systematically cut your obligations back. This will free your mind and spirit.
  2. Cultivate a default mental reflex of flexibility. John Allen Paulos said, “Uncertainty is the only certainty that exists.” This last year or so has made this fact obvious to all. We will ride these perpetual waves of uncertainty out much better if we actively cultivate flexibility. Flexibility can also be trained in kinetically, with arts like Qigong, Jujitsu, Tai Chi, etc. If we cultivate this as our core mental/physical “Superpower,” we will thrive in business and in life no matter what changes appear on the horizon.
  3. Learn to tap into the enormous potential of your subconscious mind. Research indicates our conscious mind can process about 2000 bits of data a second. Our subconscious mind processes 400 billion bits of information a second. The subconscious drives 80 percent of our behavior. It is our supercomputer. We can learn to channel it to work for us, heal our wounds and improve our effectiveness and happiness in life.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

They are all good and help create the physiological conditions for healing to take place. Yet, I am partial to moving meditation modalities, like Qigong. Many people, especially those raised in our instantaneous, high tech culture, have a difficult time being still. A moving meditation is easier to get into because you have one simple thing to focus on; the movement. You achieve the same relaxation effect, but for people with ADHD, or with problems focusing, it is a powerful hack to be able to move, while simultaneously slowing down inside your mind.

The other advantage to moving meditations like Qigong, is that the peace and centeredness we experience can be carried over more easily into our everyday busy lives. We are busy, always moving. If your form of meditation is sitting on a pillow in a quiet room with no interruptions, then it is harder to maneuver that inner peace into real life. If your meditation is a moving meditation, you can take that with you into board meetings, sales pitches, or even when driving through traffic. It bleeds over into our real everyday life much more easily.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Well, we just touched one key area — — some sort of mediation or deep diaphragmatic breathing to regulate our Vagus Nerve and parasympathetic nervous system is crucial. There is a lot of recent clinical research indicating that modalities which engage in deep, diaphragmatic breathing such as Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, meditation, etc. have a massive impact on challenging disorders like auto-immune diseases. It is estimated that 80 percent of all doctors’ visits are stress related. Proactively learning diaphragmatic breathing modalities helps prevent those visits. They are free to do, and have a massive ROI in relation to the time and effort invested.

Another key habit is getting adequate sleep. I talk about this a lot in my program. Clinical research shows a direct correlation to heart diseases and other serious life threatening conditions due to sleep deprivation. We need to learn that this mentality of “grinding” is taking us to an early grave. So many of the successful and driven business leaders I work with tell me, “I will get plenty of sleep when I am in the grave.” Unfortunately, in depriving themselves of sleep, they are accelerating their relocation to that unwanted real estate.

Exercise is a medicine. No matter what you do. It can be low key like regular walking, or high gear stuff like training for an Iron Man competition. I found that most of my clients hate working out. Not because they are lazy, but because it is boring to them. So, I ask them to think about what they enjoy. I love martial arts, so I have been doing that physical exercise consistently for decades. Not because I am particularly disciplined, but because it is fun.

Find something fun to do that makes you move; golf, bird watching, softball, bowling, running, tennis, gardening, whatever! Just move consistently. This is one of the key factors for cultivating longevity and healthy life. Skip the fads, and the torn ligaments that too often come with them. Just move doing things you love.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

There is a lot I could say about that, but I will keep it simple. We need to slow down our eating. There is a movement called the “Slow Food Movement.” They advocate eating simple, local, healthy, home cooked meals slowly in good company. I lived in France for a while. Their diets, technically, when viewed from a “nutritional ingredients” perspective is “unhealthy”; lots of fats, gravies, they drink lots of wine and beer, lots of the dreaded “gluten loaded carbs,” etc., etc. Yet, they are much healthier than us Americans. Why? Because they take their time at meals, slow down and rest, appreciate what they eat, are much less stressed than us, and hence digest their food better.

There is a similar perspective within the Indian Holistic health tradition called, “Ayurveda.” They emphasize the psychological component of our food. They believe that the attitude of the person cooking will affect the health value of what is served and eaten. A stressed cook who does not want to be there, will infect the food with that negative energy, even though you have the best and healthiest ingredients. A mother or grandmother who is making a traditional dish that technically, may have some unhealthy ingredients in it like lard, or MSG, or whatever, is investing her love into that food. That energy will be absorbed and affect us positively.

Diet is a complex issue. We need to keep in mind that it is not merely what Western science tells us in regards to the chemical quantification of ingredients. There is a deep psychological dimension to it, an energetic dimension to it, which subsequently has a very real effect upon our physiology in digesting and absorbing the nutrition of the food. Just slow down and have deep gratitude for what we can eat. Bless the hands that farmed it and cooked it. Bless your organs as they digest it. Experiment with those simple tools.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Let’s first address our primary emotional energy drain; fear. Fear is a proactive faith in evil and negative outcomes. Obviously, there is a rational form of fear. But in our modern societies, we self-generate 99 percent of our fear in the imagination factory of our minds. Unfortunately, our bodies do not know the difference between valid fears which can lead to death and the imaginary fears we create. So our emotions and bodies suffer.

There are tools we can use to tame this monster we too often feed. It involves a lot of work with our subconscious, our bodies, as well as our cognitive paradigms. We need to develop the habit of mentally, physically, and emotionally taming this monster and showing it for what it is; a barking dog with no teeth.

A second key habit we can learn is to delete our useless emotional files. They take up too much space. We need to drop our resentments through the healing power of forgiveness. Resentment is a poison we administer to our own souls, believing it will harm those who harmed us. In fact, it gives them more destructive power over us, only this time via our own self-administered dosage. There are ways to get into our subconscious with Qigong, subliminal neural pathway development exercises and cognitive reframing practices that can help cure us of this poison we damage ourselves with.

A third key habit to cultivate is to immunize yourself against other people’s opinions. Immunize yourself against other people’s criticism, as well as their praise. We emotionally torture ourselves with our conceptions of what we think others think of us. Its lame and destructive.

We need to cultivate an attitude of “cheerful indifference” to what other two-legged creatures think of us. To do so goes against a core value we have held precious as humans for millennia; acceptance. To not be accepted in hunter-gatherer cultures meant sure death. Ironically, seeking that same acceptance of others today can drive us insane. Some young people are committing suicide due to negative social media posts about them.

Immunize yourself against other people’s opinions about you. They are as fickle as the wind. To yield your inner peace to others judgmental opinions is to make yourself vulnerable and invite needless emotional pain.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

I used to think people who advocated that we smile often were being “Pollyannaish.” Yet, having travelled to many countries in Africa, South America, and in Europe, I realized that the human smile is a universal language. It immediately (if genuine) disarms suspicion in almost every culture I have encountered. So, now I smile more when I am out and about. The muscular movements of the smile also release positive neural hormones into our brain, so why not do it more?

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Again, this is such a deep topic. The three habits I would suggest are the following:

  1. Deal with the issue of death within your spiritual practice. The fear of death simmers just below the surface of our minds and causes us great discomfort. Many of our core fears, such as of sickness and poverty, are related to our ultimate fear of the extinguishment of death. The major religious traditions, and even most major philosophies have some sort of theory about what happens in the afterlife. Learn what that is and if it comports with your common sense, come to an acceptance of that. Deeply face your fear of death with the “solution” your spiritual path suggests to you. Make some peace with that inevitability. It will make our brief days of life much richer and more free.
  2. Acknowledge the importance and autonomy of your soul. Our soul is really our key area of growth in this particular time-space dimension. Yet, due to the need to economically survive, our busyness, our need to be accepted by others, etc., our lives can be on one trajectory — — while our soul waits quietly to be tended to.
    “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” yet, our souls are deep, silent, quiet, and are often on their own development schedule. Our souls are in some ways like toddlers; they operate in their own worlds, timetables and seldom adapt to fit our crazed schedules. Set a “date” with your soul on the regular. Spend time with her. Listen to her. She will lavish you with love and abundance that will spill over to deeply enrichen all other aspects of your life.
  3. Realize that your mind, soul, and spirit all move around in the same vessel; your body-temple. In the West we tend to dichotomize our spirit from our body, due to the historical influence of ancient Greek philosophy upon Western animistic and Christian traditions. That is unfortunate. Our bodies are a big element of our spiritual journey.

The Christian tradition asserts that the Creator of the universe chose to clothe itself for a moment in history within a physical human body. The Judaic tradition, as well as the Celtic tradition, is very affirming of our bodies. I train individuals to unite their bodies, spirits, and minds kinetically as one powerful unit. As we train in this habit of unifying mind, body and spirit as one, we can have incredible impact for good upon this earth.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

Nature is God’s art. In my youth and early adulthood, I was a card-carrying atheist. During the solo bicycle tour, I previously referred to, I traveled through the raw beauty of the Western United States. This encounter with God’s art overturned my world and changed my perspective about God and spirit. The power of this masterful artist convinced me there was no cosmic accident in this radiant beauty of nature. I also realized I was a part of the creative beauty.

Nature is a deep well that can heal us. It is a hospital for the body and soul. We need to revive our batteries by regularly “visiting our mother.” We are made up of a pinch of some minerals from the earth, our blood is transmuted from the waters of this earth, and a bio-electric charge whose roots came from the earth. If we do not learn to honor nature sooner than later, we as a species will become extinct. We collectively need to feel our physical/spiritual connection to this earth, or else, we are history.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I have a vision of creating strategic Think Tanks/Learning Centers across the globe. We would help influential, passionate, and ethical community and business leaders from around the world learn new paradigms for sustainable living. By that, I mean in how we do commerce, feed our communities, shelter them, encourage arts, education and culture, everything! They would also be trained in peaceful ways to work out our human conflicts.

This would all involve scaling things down. “Small is Beautiful,” a book by E.F. Schumacher advocated these tactics decades ago. My publishing company is called, “Less is More Press” for a reason. I believe that if we voluntarily scale down and simplify, we will have much richer, healthier, and happier lives as human beings.

These leaders would come to the Learning Centers for at least three weeks to be immersed in training and living in ways that will heal our societal fractures, our broken social infrastructures, and even our earth. Then, those leaders will return to their countries and communities to adapt these principles to their specific geographical and cultural contexts. I hope to one day soon invest my time and money into creating these centers. We have the Pentagon as a center for war. Why not create centers to teach and promote peace and thriving?

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I really respect Oprah Winfrey as a media pioneer, entrepreneur, and most excellent human being. She receives boatloads of criticism for what “she does not do.” She does much that is good — — quietly. She invests in the lives of African women in her schools. Having worked in seven different countries in Africa, and knowing the critical impact that Africa holds in the next 100 years for humankind, I think she is visionary.

I would love to visit with her for a moment, teach her some Qigong, and brainstorm with her. Much respect! She is a good example of what I said earlier, which is to immunize yourself against other peoples’ opinions. She has more critics and haters than supporters, yet she just goes about her mission and does it well. I really respect that.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They contact me by visiting the Download Qi website at:

I also have a YouTube channel, Instagram, and I am on LinkedIn. Just look up Frank Blaney at “Download Qi.”

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent wit/h this. We wish you continued success.

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