Mindfulness meditation is the practice of strengthening our attention muscles and increasing awareness. I’d say that’s the foundational practice. Anything you do with more awareness is going to be that much more impactful. So if you’re walking, have greater awareness while you’re walking. If you’re running have greater awareness while you’re running. I think things that involve all three are best. I feel like yoga is one of those activities that encourages breath, movement and awareness.
As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jay Uecker (pronounced EE-ker).
Dr. Jay’s educational journey has taken him from Lincoln, Nebraska where he received a Bachelors Degree in Education and Exercise Science, to Minneapolis, Minnesota and Northwestern College of Chiropractic where he received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree. Along the way he also served in places like India and Peru. Currently Dr. Jay is the founder and owner of BioSoul Integration Center in Louisville, Colorado.
For two decades Dr. Jay has been supporting people in the Boulder area. Over the course of that time he’s worked intimately with nearly three thousand people, helping them navigate the ups and downs of their healing journeys.
Those who seem to be most drawn to Dr. Jay and BioSoul Integration tend to be those who have felt the strong calling to do the work of consciously leaning into their growth and evolution as human beings, to do the work of integrating their Soul’s gifts into their physical bodies.
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 grew up on a farm in a semi-rural part of Nebraska. I spent many hours playing alone in my back yard, by which I mean the hundreds of acres of grassy pastures, corn or bean planted fields, ponds, creeks and wooded areas that my family lived on. We also bred and raised hundreds of cattle and pigs. I was fully immersed in the circle of life and consequently nature became one of my major teachers.
Along the way there were a number of physically and psychologically intense incidents that shaped me but there are two important turning points in particular that seemed to be pivotal in setting my life on a certain course:
One might say that I was a sensitive and emotional little kid; quick to express vulnerability. I started picking up on the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, messages from my Midwestern culture that being emotional and expressing vulnerability wasn’t really acceptable. I remember one Christmas when I was about eleven or twelve years old, I watched as my younger brother and sister ran into the living room to see what Santa had brought them. They were positively giddy with excitement. I remember in that moment thinking how silly, immature and in some way, weak, their impulsivity and uncontrolled emotion made them appear. Right then and there I decided that I wasn’t going to express my emotions like that. In that moment I suppressed my vulnerable, emotional side and, in the process, disconnected from a really important part of myself. Fracturing myself internally like that would set up an immense, internal pressure in my body and being that would lead to a lot of psychological life-struggle down the road and would prove to be the underpinnings for a lot of the physical pain I would later experience in my body, both of which I’m only now beginning to really free myself from some thirty-five years later.
As I find is often the case in the lives of the people I work with, at about the same time that I made this pivotal decision, I also had a significant accident. One day I was climbing some tall, steep piles of dirt with my treasured ATV. As I crested the top of one of those piles, the front end of the machine reared up as it started to come over on top of me. There was a brief moment where time completely stopped. From within this window of “no-time,” I was able to observe the situation and consider my situation. It was immediately clear that, “this could be it.” Despite the fact that severe injury, or even death, was close at hand, I felt relaxed and unafraid. And then time started moving at regular speed and in a split second the three hundred pound machine was on top of me. I just remember feeling a body-wide, crushing blow that seemed to hammer the life out of me in an instant. Everything went black. Somehow I’d made it into the house and into my room. The next thing I remember was waking up in my bed, alone, hours later, feeling like I’d lost a wrestling match with the Incredible Hulk.
Initially it seemed that my young body had bounced back but later it became apparent that I hadn’t escaped without injury. In the weeks and months that followed the accident I started to experience all sorts of strange and uncomfortable symptoms: intense pain in my back, numbness and burning behind my right shoulder blade, strangely my knee joints would lock in a bent position and I wouldn’t be able to straighten them.
I started to complain to my dad about the pain which was often brought on by my various farm chores. My dad made a rather progressive move when he took me to see a chiropractor. The chiropractor took a set of x-rays of my whole spine and put them up on a backlit wall. Pointing at the x-rays, he assured my dad that I was not making the pain up. He explained that, for all intents and purposes, I had broken my back — in many places, in fact. I had sustained endplate fractures to almost every vertebrae in my spine. An endplate fracture is what happens when the spine is compressed by the force of a severe impact. The immense internal pressure causes the spongy insides of the spinal vertebrae to actually push out through the vertebrae’s boney walls. He explained that, over time, it can create debilitating arthritis, as well as negatively impacting the nervous system’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. He looked at me and said, sincerely, “You are going to be just fine, though.”
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
There have been many people who have inspired me along the way but initially I’d say the chiropractor that I mention above and the experience I had of my body healing was the first inspiration I had for what direction I might go in life.
This chiropractor was, what I would call, a conventional chiropractor. By conventional I mean that a visit at his office was typical of what most people probably picture in their heads when they think of a visit to the chiropractor. On a weekly basis I would lay on a table and he would put specific forces into my spine which would create a, often surprisingly loud, cracking or popping sound which could be internally heard and felt. As shocking as a chiropractic adjustment was in the moment, the after-effect was the awareness of an expanding space and ease in my body. What’s more, this expanding space had a scintillating quality to it that I couldn’t quite put words to at the time. Looking back on it now, I would describe it as a light expanding inside of me.
My body started to feel better and work better. I felt stronger and more complete, somehow. After a few weeks of regular treatment, the numbness and pain and burning started to ease. But then some other symptoms started to change too, symptoms that I had grown to accept as normal since they had been present for as long as I could remember. I normally had frequent headaches and I would also get a nasty bronchial infection once or twice a year. Those things started to go away, too. In addition to the physical benefit, there was a knowing that had always been subtly present in the background of my mind, which these visits to the chiropractor seemed to be confirming and pushing powerfully to the forefront of my thinking: The power to heal comes from within. It was then that I thought, “Hm, maybe I’ll be a chiropractor some day.”
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?
Like I said there have been many. I want to acknowledge my parents of course because they have always been there to help. But when you say encouraged me to become who I am today, I think of a mentor and teacher of mine, a man named Lawrence Conlan. He is a long time chiropractor and healer in the Boulder area. He holds these retreats which are designed to help a person more fully embody their soul’s gifts and essence. I’ve felt through many layers of protective armoring and the protective senses of self that went with that armor at his retreats.
At his retreats he used to have a part at the end where he would support healing practitioners like myself to deepen in presence while you were working with someone. During one of these instances I was working with someone and he said simply, “Watch the river of chi.” At the time I was surprised to realize that I knew exactly what he was talking about. From then on the healing work that I’d been doing with others took on a whole new depth.
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?
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
First I would say learn to know that sensation you get when something lights you up. That’s where the juice is. Learn to trust that and follow that.
Second I would say to think hard about what success is. Is it money? Notoriety? Or does the level of success depend on how much you’ve been of service to people. In my experience if you focus on serving others, things like money and notoriety will follow later.
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?
A book that’s had a huge impact on me is a book by the world renowned spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle called “A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose.”
While reading that book I had a mystical experience, a direct experience of God in myself. A number of things changed in my life after that experience. I had aligned myself with something big and the things in my life that didn’t align with that started to fall away of their own accord.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Another teacher of mine Dr. Donald Epstein is the genius behind a transformation healing modality that is the foundation for the work I do, known at Network Spinal. He said something to the effect that: “If you’re not living your life’s purpose, it’s supposed to hurt and nothing is supposed to take that pain away.”
That might sound a little dark I guess but in my experience in working with people over the years, and in my own life, I’ve seen how pain is a tool that life uses to nudge us in the direction of our evolution. The solution to pain is always to go towards it as opposed to trying to avoid it. When we do go toward it we discover that the pain or the painful thing in life contains the wisdom that is needed to resolve the pain and we are transformed in the process. If we try to squirm away from pain life will turn up the volume. Really it’s doing us a favor, cornering us until the only option is to look at the pain. And that’s what that quote means to me.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Well, I’m constantly in the process of deepening and fine tuning my own work. I call it BioSoul Integration. I’ve helped thousands of people from my office in Louisville, Colorado over the last 20 years. But recently I’ve felt called to cast a wider net. I’ve been working on a book, an online course and have been offering my work online over zoom and learning about online marketing in order to help connect with people far and wide. It’s been really fun in that I’ve started making connections with people all over the planet.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
We are creatures of habit. So much of position we find ourselves in in life has to do with the conditioned thinking, feeling and doing that we’ve been engaging in, often unconsciously for years. Those unconscious conditioned feelings and thoughts and behaviors are the small hinges that swing big doors. A one degree change in the rudder of a ship will take it to a completely different port over the course of a thousand miles. We have to realize that certain feelings, thoughts and behaviors will take us to certain ports. Which port do we want to end up in in life? What ports do we want to avoid?
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
A habit that has created success has been to keep getting up when ever I get knocked down. Another habit is to not trust my thoughts so much. Our mind hijacks our thoughts and uses them to maintain the status quo. A habit that has absolutely change my life comes from Eckhart Tolle’s book again. He said that the most powerful thing you do for your health and life and success is to let at least some part of your attention rest on the sensations in your body at all times, no matter what else is happening. Being present in our bodies like that and connected to the sensations in our bodies connects us to the same intelligence that creates and maintains the universe. By presencing ourselves that way we align our bodies and lives with that Intelligence.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
The presence that I just mentioned is the key to both. When we are aligned with the Intelligence I mentioned we start to express that through our physical bodies and beings onto this physical plane. The lost and fragmented parts of us that are responsible for the bad habits will be exposed and the parts of us that might manifest in good habits will come more and more to the surface.
Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.
Once again, presence kind of connects all three in our bodies and lives. Breath, movement and awareness are three, maybe not habits, but pillars to presence that will definitely lead to optimal wellness.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
So anything that encourages breath, movement and awareness. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of strengthening our attention muscles and increasing awareness. I’d say that’s the foundational practice. Anything you do with more awareness is going to be that much more impactful. So if you’re walking, have greater awareness while you’re walking. If you’re running have greater awareness while you’re running. I think things that involve all three are best. I feel like yoga is one of those activities that encourages breath, movement and awareness.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.
Once again, presence is the key. When you’re present with the sensations in our body you tap into the intelligence that animates the universe. Then relax around trying to make sense or understand, go with your gut. Then say yes to the fear that is probably going to come up. Welcome the sensation of it into your heart. And keep doing that. Watch how things unfold perfectly in work or sport or relationship or wherever.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Once again, mindfulness meditation, also known as, vipassana, is key and a foundational practice for developing the skills mentioned above.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.
Keep part of your attention resting on the sensations in your body at all times. There are only three options. There are physiological sensations caused by organs doing their thing, emotions cause sensations and then there are physical sensations from say, the clothes on your skin, etc…
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
You just have to start paying attention. Some floundering at first is natural.
As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
I’m going to start sounding like a broken record. The absolute fastest route to experiencing flow in everything you do is to let your attention rest on the sensations in your body. Trust that everything in life is happening for you and not to you in order to nudge you toward your authentic self.
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.
Well, one of the things that happens when we increase the amount of presence that we live with is that our actions align with the greater good and we find ourselves living out our purpose. In the political world there’s so much talk of creating jobs. But if everyone was connected to their authentic self I have no doubt that there would be no need for jobs. Everyone would be doing what they loved and what they were doing would magically be what everyone else needs.
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 🙂
You know who I would love to sit down with would be Joe Rogan. He’s seen by millions on his podcasts and yet he seems so authentic. That kind of authenticity is what I strive for.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Myself and BioSoul Integration can be found on the web as www.biosoulintegration.com. BioSoul Integration can also be found on youtube, facebook, twitter, instagram and linkedin. I have a podcast as well and the BioSoul Integration podcast can be found where ever people find their podcasts.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.