Tom spent 26 years in Finance in a trading room, just like the film 'Wolf of Wall Street.' The movie depicted the system very well in the late 80s. He started his career in the same year as Jordan Belfort - 1987. It was a fun, furious, fast, hectic time, but it was a journey Tom wasn't prepared for or expecting.
The first few years of the career, Tom feel into its lifestyle, that was the late 80s-early 90s, and that was a lot of drugs, drinking, partying, and working hard. So, that combined and escalated into showing up a lot of stress symptoms in his body. That lifestyle led him to meditation because it got so extreme that he had to find another alternative."It wasn't the job that was the problem. It was how I was relating to the job, how I was behaving in the job, and the way I was thinking about the job. And that was the variable."
For ten years, Tom had a very extreme stress response to the job, and that's where symptoms show up. It was like a "red light on the dashboard," the red light is just a signal that there's a problem from under the bonnet that you need to look at. Once he started to change his lifestyle habits and learned to make meditation a part of his day, things picked up quickly. His life started to become calmer, smoother, more fluid. He got better at his job and sustained another 16 years without having as many stress responses.
What is the 'Portal'? Why is that the name?
The 'Portal' represents a couple of things. It represents the personal experience that Tom has when going into stillness, into meditation. "It's that experience of moving away from thinking and feeling and moving away from the forms of the world and moving away from the future, and in the past and then going into this stillness and silence."
The 'Portal' also represents on a macro level, what does it look like for humanity in our way forward as we step into this new space, what's a possibility for us to go ahead? And what's on the other side of that? Tom's ultimate goal with the film is to inspire 1 billion people worldwide to embrace meditation daily. Tom saw, not just in his life, but in his students' lives as well, how so much improved in their life and the lives around them once they started meditating. Tom intended that once the film was made and watched by people worldwide, it would be a catalyst to help them begin meditating each day.
The decision to make the 'Portal'?
Tom decided to make the film after watching the movie 'The Secret.' This was one of the first films to bring the esoteric subject matter to the world's households. This gave him the idea, and Tom could do the same about meditation. This started his journey into creating a movie that would show, through personal stories, the transformational power of meditation. And now The Portal film which has been released on digital platforms around the world.
"Meditation is one of the keys to maybe changing the trajectory of the world."In the film, Mikey Siegel discusses how humans create most of the world's problems. If that's a state of mind, it's making the problem, and then it's the state of mind that can solve the problem. Tom doesn't exactly believe this."We can't solve the problems of the world with the same state of mind that's creating the problems."
He saw it changed significantly in his life because doing the same thing repeatedly didn't significantly change anything. Things only started to shift after he began to get out of that program that he was in, that indoctrination. However, it wasn't a matter of breaking the continuous cycle and his program and belief systems and getting into this clearer state of just awareness without the conditioned thinking.When he did that, Tom watched his actions and thoughts, to have a very different set of ideas about the life he wanted to live and the life he could live.
This can be seen in the film as well. All six stories had diverse backgrounds, but very challenging experiences in their life and the ability, through the use of meditation, to be able to shift the trajectory of their path of life and start to create something that was, according to Tom, new, more profound, more progressive and more harmonious. And if we were to multiply that into 100,000, a million, or even a billion, we start to see a significant change on the planet.
That's where Tom's inspiration for the film and the project came from. "I come from with the inspiration for the film, and the project is to start to have our shifting states of mind, our level of awareness, our sense of interconnectedness, not just with other humans but also with nature itself. And then what happens is a very significant shift that will start to prevail, I think, on the planet."
The role meditation plays in some physical ailments
According to Tom, it's the basis for change on a physiological and biochemical level, resulting from the body. This was mainly the state it was in and for most people on the planet currently, the state of fight, flight, or sympathetic nervous system state. "It's a system within the nervous system or a system within the body that is a defence mechanism to protect us from dangerous situations."
Tom explains that we think it's normal to be on our phones and use technology as much as we drive through lots of traffic and lots of meetings and lots of busy lifestyles. But if you look at human history over thousands of years, what we were doing in the last 10 or 20 years is just exponentially overwhelming for our nervous system Therefore, we're in this constant state of fight or flight. This will start contracting the frontal region of this brain, or the CEO of your mind. The continuous state of stress has several effects on our biochemicals, the ones that help us feel love and happiness. There are no stillness levels of compassion and empathy and love, and no ability to sleep well. All these symptoms are arising from a society that's overwhelmingly stressed or in a stress response.
The beautiful thing is that meditation shifts the body from that state very quickly and into the parasympathetic nervous system state. To explain this, Tom asks to think of parasympathetic 'P' for peace, which is the rest state that the body goes into when it feels safe and secure. There's a calmness that prevails, and all of those anomalies of the sympathetic nervous system state to suddenly reverse themselves. We start producing melatonin and oxytocin, serotonin, the brain that's function getting better. "We get better creativity, and we have better relationships, we get better productivity, we have better energy levels. Our body starts to restore balance and optimize itself. And that's what meditation can do very, very quickly."
What are three simple tips to make meditation easier?
Tip 1: Learn a technique that you resonate with from a qualified teacher.
Tip 2: Make it a regular daily practice
Tip 3: Let go of the outcomes of your practice. Don't expect it to be all still and Zen every time.
Tom Cronin is a transformational coach, speaker, retreat host, author of six books, meditation teacher, and also a film producer of the hit documentary called The Portal. He spent 26 years in financial markets as one of Sydney’s leading bond and swap brokers. Tom discovered meditation in the early stages of his career, when the anxiety and chaos he was experiencing had hit a crisis point, and it completely transformed his world, both personally and professionally.
Founder of The Stillness Project, a global movement to inspire one billion people to sit in stillness daily, Tom shares his passion for meditation and its benefits of reducing stress and finding peace.