AS Seen On

By: Stephan Spencer


Tim Ringgold
“No one knows when their game of life will end. That’s why it’s important to embrace and play the game to your fullest ability.”
Tim Ringgold

Surviving addiction and deep personal loss has given my guest on today’s show a pretty profound perspective on this journey we call life.

Tim Ringgold is a board-certified music therapist, author, and award-winning international speaker. He was the first person to give a TEDx talk on music therapy in 2012, and over the years, he’s shared the TED stage with some of the top minds in music, the brain, and personal development.

In this episode, Tim begins by discussing his relationship and bond with our mutual friend and founder of Genius Network, Joe Polish, who has been a true connector in Tim’s life and many other people’s lives. Incidentally, Joe has been on my other podcast, Marketing Speak.

Tim also talks about the solace he’s found in his belief in this divinely orchestrated universe, where we are like cells in a mind-bogglingly huge and infinitely intelligent organism. He’s come to realize that we’re actually working together to co-create some meta-health/meta-existence beyond what we can see in this little “flesh rental suit” that we’re occupying for a very short period of time.

If all of this makes you think, “Wow, I need to hear more of this,” then you’re in the right place! So without any further ado, on with the show!

In this Episode

  • [03:36]Tim Ringgold, a board-certified music therapist, shares how he became friends with Joe Polish.
  • [09:01]Tim expounds on the concept of the ripple effect.
  • [11:44]Tim explains the power of faith in your life. He also differentiates the benevolent universe from the malevolent universe.
  • [17:23]Tim recalls his experience of losing a child and how he wrote about it.
  • [22:23]As Stephan explains how our understanding hinders our ability to receive wisdom from God, Tim discusses how much we rely more on earthly view than spiritual sight.
  • [29:30]Tim defines resilience and relates it to human experience.
  • [32:26]Tim shares his experience of losing his loved ones and giving up the illusion of control.
  • [35:30]What was Tim’s wake up call when his daughter died?
  • [52:49]Tim explains art as the expression of feeling and life as a medium.
  • [56:32]How does Tim define our level of awareness?
  • [62:24]Differentiate physical immunity from spiritual immunity.

Jump to Links and Resources

Tim, it’s so great to have you on the show.

Stephan, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

We have a couple of masterminds in common. One of them is METal (Media Entertainment, Technology, and Alpha Leaders), a great brotherhood founded by Ken Rutkowski. Before you got involved in METal, I knew of you through Joe Polish’s Genius Network. I want to share something cool before we start our conversation.

I was at the Genius Network annual event. I did it with intention when I opened Joe’s new book, What’s In It For Them? I wanted to demonstrate to somebody what bibliomancy means and how it works. I learned that term from Yanik Silver, the founder of Maverick1000. I interviewed him on this podcast too.

Anyway, I opened the book and ended up on the page where he talked about you. That was awesome. I knew that wasn’t random. That wasn’t a coincidence. Let’s start by sharing why Joe Polish put you in his book and what that mention was about.

Joe and I are long-term friends. We both share publicly that we’re both in long-term recovery from sex addiction. We met in a 12-Step Program community in February of 2003. We became friends inside that fellowship.

We need to co-create a meta-health or meta-existence: Life exists beyond our temporary flesh, and our time on earth is fleeting. Share on X

Quickly, I was accepted to college in California to go to school for music therapy, and I was going to leave Arizona, where we met. I remember sending him a text saying, “Hey, I want to stay connected as friends. I think you’re funny.” We have a very funny East Coast kind of smart-aleck banter.

That was always the nature of our relationship. We also added much value to each other’s lives. We began this long-term friendship, and it’s based on banter, which anyone who knows Joe knows that’s his love language.

He loves picking on Jim Dew at every Genius Network meeting.

Yeah, Jim can take it, and Jim can give it back. That’s what’s great about that. That’s what you must know, and you must be able to throw it back at him. If you can, he respects that. He doesn’t always like it, but he respects it.

Having set that up, I have no idea why he put me in his book except to give his book some value finally. That’s the only reason. He was like, “Maybe I could put something in this book that will actually be useful, so I’ll put a story about Tim because that’ll make it useful.” That’s just a nod and a wink to Joe. Anyone who knows Joe gets that.

What’s in It for Them? by Joe Polish

Joe is the master connector. That is his superpower. He has this radar for who is doing great things in the world and whose Wonder Twin power could connect with that person to amplify it. Throughout our recovery journey, we both wanted to help other addicts along the way.

There’s a handful of different people in the world. Some people get addicted to something, and they’re not even aware of it. Some people get addicted to things, and then they become aware of it, but they never find any liberation from that enslavement, which is the Latin origin of addiction. Then some people get addicted to something, find liberation, and continue with their life. But then there’s this other group, which realizes they’re addicted to something, find freedom from it, and then spend the rest of their life turning around and reaching their hands to free others.

Joe and I are in that category. That mutual mission we both are on individually, but at the same time, has kept us friends, even though I live now in Southern California. I’ve been here since 2004 with a mutual commitment to making the world a better place to reduce suffering whenever possible and in whatever way possible. The highway that we traveled together on that road is the road of addiction.

He had connected me like how he does. That’s his verb: connect. I was showing up in service for him for something. Before you know it, we’re spending time together while I’m trying to help him manage a tough situation in his life while he’s trying to show up for someone else and in a tough situation for them. We’re thinking about just addiction, as we often talk about.

Suddenly, it’s like, “Hey, let’s talk about music’s role in recovery.” “Oh, you know what would be perfect? Let’s get Akira on the phone.” We’re just creating and combining forces for good.

One of the things that’s amazing about Joe is that he will come together in a very brief moment. He’ll see an opportunity and take immediate action to make that further down the road. He’ll connect to people at that moment. One of the great things that have happened over the years with Joe and why Joe is so amazing is; I’ll get these random videos on my phone. 

Joe has just met this person, but he can already tell there’s this Venn diagram between Joe, me, and the person. Joe wants me and the person to connect, explore that Venn diagram, and continue. Joe does that without any finder’s fee, commission, or affiliate. There’s nothing in it for Joe other than moving the world forward to reduce suffering. His eulogy should be for all the things Joe does in the world to create income. But the impact that he creates is exponentially more because of this very thing he does daily.

We’re constantly moving through time and space. The ripples go out beyond our vision and horizon.

It’s true for everyone that our ripple effect is much larger than we realize. It spans universes, even.

And you don’t get to see how it ends up. That’s the beauty of it. I like to think of ripples in a pond. When you throw a pebble or a rock into the pond, you see the impact, but you don’t see the water ripple up at the far end of the pond seconds or minutes later. You’ve already moved on to your next adventure as a kid.

I think about that as a human. The impact we have, we don’t stick around. We’re constantly moving through time and space. The ripples go out beyond our vision and horizon. That’s fascinating. It gives you this opportunity to be responsible for the EMP that you are.

Anyone of us gives off this energy wherever we go. That energy affects influences and impacts. We are not aware of its full. I’ve lost the view now because I’m still going this way down the road. There’s an acronym that I like to use, which is ABC. It means ‘always be cool because you don’t know and can’t control the impact.’ You just don’t know where those ripples will end up and how they will return.

You meet somebody in a chance situation over here. You don’t know that bing, bang, boom, the ripples come back around, and suddenly, you get interacting with that person in a much different situation a year later. You had no idea that would ever happen when you met him the first time, so send off that good energy the first time and every time. It feels good.

If you think about you being Neo in The Matrix, everyone you interact with is part of this matrix illusion. That doesn’t mean that they’re not a human or they’re not a soul. It means that there’s a divine power in this whole thing.

If we are cognizant of that when we’re interacting with somebody, and we’re not just thinking about that interaction, but we’re thinking that God’s acting through this person to deliver a message or an opportunity for me to deliver that person a message, or for an opportunity for us to collaborate and co-create something amazing, then every moment is a miracle. We just wait to see it unfold. Sometimes we don’t see it unfold until much later and even after passing back on into non-physical. We see the true ripple effect of our actions, words, deeds, and thoughts.

That’s a really powerful point because many people want to see the return on their investment now and see why things happen the way they happen or get to the promised land, to use an Old Testament reference. I remember having this conversation with my dad early in life, where something tragic had happened. It was before anything tragic had happened to me.

I had plenty of tragedies happen to me along the way afterward, so it helped me. He said, “Oh, you’ve got to the point where you’re struggling with why bad things happen to good people.” I was like, “Yeah. My dad was a philosophy major.” He likes to think about meta-conversations.

It made sense because I don’t get to see the whole thing from where I am, so I have to trust in the fact. I love that people think about the universe as either benevolent or malevolent. If you think it’s malevolent, I could try to convince you it’s not, but ultimately, you’re the one in your head who makes that decision.

Faith is the belief in something without knowledge. It is a gift you give yourself.

Faith, which is this belief in something without knowledge, is a gift you give yourself because if I give myself the gift of the belief of a benevolent universe, inside of that framework, I see everything happening for me. If I think about the universe as malevolent, I see everything happening to me.

You can’t convince me otherwise. I’m the one who makes that ultimate decision for myself. I think faith is a powerful game-changing gift you give yourself because no one can make you believe something without your consent, and no one can take it away from you without your consent.

One thing that inspires me is a belief in this divine universe, where you and I are cells within a much larger body. We’re working together to co-create some sort of meta-health, meta-existence, beyond what we can see in this little flesh rental suit that we’re occupying for a very temporary period and space. This tiny thing does not stick around very long. It doesn’t go far, but it’s a blink. It thinks it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it is just a blink. That comforts me. It helps put my suffering and drama in perspective.

Wow, that’s beautiful. It’s funny you mentioned the concept of a benevolent universe versus a malevolent one because that’s the topic of the book I’m working on: ‘Living in a Friendly Universe: A Skeptics Guide to the Unseen World.’

That’s brilliant. Things are happening. This is the thing about being a human. Things are happening, and then we’re trying to understand what’s happening in our heads.

The whole making sense thing is an inside job. What’s happening out there, the meaning I give it, is all here.

I’m pointing to my head when I say, “This is happening between my ears, my sense of whether this is good or bad for me. This is good for the planet, and it’s bad for the planet. All of that meaning is being made up in my head. At least, I believe it is.”

Faith is a powerful, game-changing gift. No one can force you into faith, and no one can take your faith away from you. Share on X

My experience of the out there, I grew up playing sports and watching sports. I have this analogy: when you watch the Super Bowl, the game is being played. Depending on the score, you have three reactions out there or in people’s heads when the time’s up. (1) It was great, and that’s if you’re a fan of the team that won. (2) Making sense of that event is terrible because you’re a fan of the team that lost. (3) A third person out there, the neutral, didn’t care about the game. They just wanted to watch the commercials. But it’s the same event.

It’s a game being played, yet we have all these different opinions about it, though all those opinions are inside jobs. I think if people can understand and own that we’re making up all this meaning all the time, there’s a lot of freedom suddenly to be like, “Oh, if I’m making it up, why don’t I make up something that’s inspiring, empowering, comforting, curious, or funny, rather than depressing, disenfranchising, irritating, or oppressing.”

We could go with it and play around with it in so many ways. That’s a great thing to figure out. If you can chew on that, swallow it, and suddenly realize, “I’m making it all up anyway, why don’t I make up something that works for me and the world around me?” 

And yet a diehard materialist would say, “But you can’t argue with the fact that X, Y, and Z are happening: war, famine, tsunami, or whatever insert-in-the-blank natural disaster. What kind of a God puts people through that kind of suffering? That doesn’t seem fair.” How do you respond to that?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

That’s always a good one because the arrogance of humans trying to understand God cracks me up. I’m going to tell you a story. Our second daughter was born in 2009 and died in 2010 from a rare childhood disease called Epidermolysis bullosa. She was part of a clinical trial to try to save her. We went to Minnesota in the summer of 2010 to go through a bone marrow transplant to try to save her. The bone marrow transplant worked, but she died of the side effects after spending 100 days in the ICU on life support.

I was our caregiver, and I was in that room for fourteen hours a day. It was a pretty intense experience. I blogged about the journey because I wanted other parents of the disease to know about this trial. HIPAA prevented the doctors from giving too many details but didn’t prevent me from talking about it.

Every night, after the long hellish day I went through, I would blog about that day. I would write until I got to a place of gratitude for the day. Sometimes it took a lot of writing. I had to do mental yoga to stretch all the things that had happened that day to look at it in some positive context, but it became like a muscle.

Then the blog would be read worldwide. I’d wake up in the morning, walk to this park on the way to the hospital, read the comments of support, and then say a prayer.

I would say, “God, please hold my fear. I’ll pick it up on the way out. I do not want to enter this hospital with any fear. I don’t want my daughter to pick up on any fear. I don’t want the doctors to pick up on any fear. Thank you for holding that for me.” This was the morning practice I had.

One morning, as I’m praying, I get a clear signal. A little voice says, “I’m taking her home.” Regardless of whoever you’re listening to, whether you believe in God or you can talk to God, I’ve been talking to God my whole life, so I’m just going to tell you in full authenticity about having this experience. God says, “I’m taking her home.”

I wrote a book called Bella’s Blessings: a Humble Story of Providence because I had seen providence throughout her whole life. I was like, “You did not lead me to Minnesota only to take her home. There’s no way that was part of it. No way.”

It’s up to God, but work like it’s up to you.

He’s like, “Listen, look down. Do you see the ants?” I’m sitting on a park bench, and there’s a sidewalk. The sidewalk is broken into those sections where there’s a little crevice. A bunch of ants go back and forth in the crevice like a freeway.

He goes, “Are the ants in your reality?” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “If you stepped on them, would you affect their reality?” I said, “Yeah.” “Okay, look up.” I look up, and I see the Minneapolis skyline, which I parked myself on this bench every morning so I could enjoy this view.

He says, “Can the ant see what you see?” I put my head back down, “No.” He said, “My son, just because you can see my signs doesn’t mean you understand my mind.” It was like a parent consoling a child having a tantrum over going to bed. The kid doesn’t understand why that’s good for them.

I was tempering because I didn’t understand why, but it wasn’t my place. The fundamental flaw is that people try to equate logic, rationality, and understanding at a level of the divine creator of the universe. You’re not there. You’re a human being walking on a rock in a cold dark space in a meat suit for a very short period.

Sometimes humans just need a kick of humility in the teeth to bring them back down to earth. You have no idea. You don’t even know how your brain works. You don’t know how your car takes you from point A to point B. You don’t understand why your toilet flushes the way it does.

Don’t try to understand the whole thing from where you are. If everything was understood, it would be knowledge, and faith would not be needed.

You are a tiny ant on this rock. Don’t try to understand the whole thing from where you are. That’s why faith exists. If everything was understood, it would be knowledge, and faith would not be needed. Faith is a gift to make sense of what you can’t know. That’s the point of it.

It’s like wisdom. Wisdom is also a gift from God. Understanding can interfere when you receive wisdom because you’re trying to figure it out, power through it on your own, and you forget that miraculous things are going on that you can’t possibly comprehend and need to pray for some wisdom.

When God granted Solomon any wish he wanted, King Solomon asked for wisdom. Because he answered with that wise answer, God also gave him everything else as a bonus. There’s this quote I want to share with you about a miracle, and I want your take on this. I learned this from Kabbalah. “A miracle isn’t defined as when the impossible becomes possible. A miracle removes the illusionary veils that don’t allow us to see the light in every experience and moment.”

That’s great. It’s all right there, just hidden from view. We rely a little bit too much on our earthly sight. The amount of real estate in the human brain dedicated to physical sight is enormous. It’s a ridiculous amount of real estate in our brain to see the natural world around us, so it’s easy to go all in on physical sight.

We know that we only see so much of the visual spectrum as it is. We know we only see a limited amount of the physical spectrum. I think about things like, “What is happening around me?” Like you mentioned, Neo. “Where’s all the code just beyond whatever my block is?”

This is great because I am crystal clear that I’m struggling with this one area of my life right now is me in the way. They’re out there, all the things I want to have. They’re all around me, living in an abundant universe. Others are enjoying them. For some reason, something in me is in the way of me seeing it. That’s clear to me; I’m the one in the way.

I remember hearing this phrase: “I just needed to get out of my way.” I thought that was a funny phrase. I was like, “I don’t understand that at all. What are these people saying? Who is this wannabe enlightened person? I just need to get out of my way. Or I finally got out of my way. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Shame is just the heaviest of emotions that addicts feel due to their behavior.

I remember hearing Brene Brown speak. She does a lot of research on shame. As someone who works in addiction, shame is just the heaviest of emotions that addicts feel due to their behavior. She said, “It’s not so much that people can’t access joy and well-being. It’s that something is displacing it. Something’s in the way.”

It’s sitting like a veil. It’s in the way of joy. It’s not like you don’t get to have it. You’ve got something in between that you’ve got to remove to access it or needs to be removed. One of the great mysteries in 12-step is praying for that understanding of ‘I can’t seem to remove this on my own.’ My effort and will isn’t doing the job.

We can’t even breathe a single breath without the aid of the Creator.

If you have ever listened to Tony Robbins through a spiritual lens, you’ll hear that he is a very spiritual human being. He talks about your heartbeat. It’s like, you didn’t earn it. You didn’t do it. It’s a gift. It was given to you. You do nothing to keep it going, and don’t say beat. It beats.

That’s grace. That was a gift given to you, and breath is the same way. You didn’t earn it, and you didn’t say anything. “Today, I’m going to start breathing. It’s a good day to start breathing. Here I go.”

You’re given breath and onward. I appreciate this conundrum: “It’s up to God, but work like it’s up to you.” How do you surrender the outcome while simultaneously causing the process and find that not to be completely insane? “I don’t know, and I want to control the outcome. I’m putting all the inputs in. I want to see the output.”

How do you just surrender that and let that go simultaneously? That’s a pickle many people find themselves in, and they swing one direction or the other too far. They’d go the secret route, “I’m just going to turn it over, and I’m not going to lift a finger. I will think these thoughts but won’t rub two sticks together to cause the fire. I’m just going to wait for it.”

I need more checks in the mail.

Visualize The Check is in The Mail. I went there in the year it came out.  It turned out that wasn’t enough.

Sonic Recovery by Tim Ringgold MT-BC

That was a good movie, though. That was inspiring.

It’s a very well-made movie. When I listened to the audiobook, she said, “All you need to do to lose weight is think thin thoughts” I thought, “I think something is missing there,” but this is a part of it. This is a piece of the equation. It’s a piece of the secret, and it’s brilliant marketing.

At the same time, “What do you need to do? What do you need to cause?” It’s this conundrum of I want to attract versus I want to cause. One is I’m going to allow things to come into my existence. One is I will go out there and make these things happen. Can they both occur at the same time? Is it an either/or? Is it a combination of the two? That’s a tough one to find balance in.

My take on it is a combination of the two. You have to live in two worlds simultaneously. For example, if you’re seeing the matrix and the illusionary nature of reality, you’re starting to glimpse it and like, “Okay, this is a simulation.”

“I just saw yet another glitch in the matrix. I’m being punked here, and this is a game.” At the same time, you must treat every person—even if you believe with every fiber of your being that person is a non-player character.

That does exist, yet you have to treat that person like they could be your long-lost brother from another lifetime because that’s the nature of the game: to play full out. You’re not sucked into the game. You know that there’s a game and that there are rules. There’s a way to play the game, yet you don’t get sucked into it too much. You treat people with love, kindness, and respect, even if they are running a program.

It is fun. It’s a practice. I’ve been through several tragedies that helped wake me to the reality of life and death. You got to remember our culture, and we’re at the top of the food chain in the evolution of humanity. I live in the United States in the 21st century. It’s as good as it’s ever been.

We invented antibiotics and cesarean section. If you just take those three things, life as we know it has dramatically changed in the last 150 years. Maternal and infant mortality are things of the past, where you used to have nine kids and hope five survive, three wives because two died in childbirth.

These are stories of history. These are your great-grandparents’ stories. These are not your stories. Our adversity muscles have atrophied a wee bit.

Resilience is the ability to get back up after being knocked down.

Resilience is the ability to get back up after being knocked down. We don’t get knocked down too much. Our resilience-ability muscles grow under stress, and bones grow under the stress of gravity. We haven’t had much stress compared to the human experience. I feel we’re a little bit soft in one particular area: witnessing life and death.

We don’t see our food. My kids used to think there were two different types of chicken, the chicken they ate and the chicken on farms. My daughter was like, “That’s not chicken. That’s chicken.” I’m like, “Oh, my God, you have two different chickens in your head?” She’s like, “Yeah, the ones on the farm versus the ones you eat.” I was like, “Oh, you suburban child.”

How did you break that one to her?

That was tough for her. She became a ‘non-chicketarian’ for quite a while, where she would not eat chicken. We’re currently back to eating chicken. It’s a sometimes-food. The circle of life and death in suburban life is very much removed.

It’s so carefully shrink-wrapped in with a nice label and everything.

You can’t even witness how your food’s made. It’s illegal to witness it. That’s crazy. It is a federal offense if you attempt to videotape how your food is made. It is a felony, and you are tried as an eco-terrorist. These are the laws of the land in the 21st century. That is messed up if you ask me, but that’s slightly tangential to where I was going.

If I give myself the gift of the belief in a benevolent universe, I can see everything that the universe works for my personal good. Share on X

But yet you got to see the hand of God and even something wrong.

See, that would be one where I’d be like, “Okay, Stephan, where’s the hand of God in Tyson Foods or Monsanto?” I remember writing an email to Monsanto saying, “Please stop being evil. I don’t understand you.”

Did it make a difference?

It didn’t make a difference. I’m not sure anyone read it. I didn’t get a response, but I felt called to say something. That’s as activist as I get right there.

I lost my dad when I was 25 and my daughter at 38. My five best friends were murdered when I was 22 in a small town in Connecticut, and that’s the kind of place that doesn’t happen. I had to learn quickly that tomorrow does not necessarily follow today.

We live into a future like Lean on Me, the song. It says, “We know that there’s always tomorrow. Lean on me.” Except there’s not always tomorrow. When you’re playing the game, how do you play the game like there is both a tomorrow and yet there may not be a tomorrow for you?

One of the things I’ve had to find is a way to be complete right now, yet still not be satisfied, still hungry. If you remember the movie Gladiator, he had this African sidekick who survives. In the last scene, he’s praying to his ancestors, saying, “I may join you one day, but not today.” He wanted to put a vote in for himself that today’s not the day he’ll join his ancestors.

For a long time, every time I got on a plane, the illusion of control got ripped from my precious little hands because I knew I was no longer in control because I was not flying the plane. When I took off, I would say a quick prayer to my daughter and dad, “Today might be the day I might see you guys. I’m getting on a plane, or I know how this will turn out. But for what it’s worth, how about not today? I would just let go while I was flying.”

Flying was an immensely serene spiritual experience because I had given up control of my life. I was just floating through the air, and then we’d land when the plane would hit the ground—that little moment. I practice Wim Hof breathing every morning, which we have breathed together in METal in the breathing group virtually on Zoom. As a part of my practice with Wim Hof breathing, you exhale, and then you’re not holding your breath because there’s no breath in your lungs. You’ve exhaled. It’s like it’s not a breath-hold. To me, it’s simulating death, that was my last breath because you die on an exhale.

Every morning, I practice this little bit of spiritual death, where I’m like, “Okay, this is what it’s going to feel like.” Then I imagine who will be there and what the feeling is like, and then it’s time to take a breath. I’m like, “Okay, it’s not today.”

I rehearse my death. I know that might sound bizarre to people listening to this, but here’s where I’m going with all this. To your point about the game, I’m willing and ready to play it today, and I’m also really willing and ready for the game to end today because no one knows when it ends.

The big wake-up call when my daughter died was, “Oh, wow, nobody knows when the game ends.” I had to explain to my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter about her sister’s death. You got to get concrete. I said, “Babe, you know about our soul in our body. These bodies are just rentals. The funny thing that makes the game interesting is you never know the day you have to turn it back in, and Bella had to turn hers in.”

That made the whole game sense, so I could rock this rental until I had to turn it in. I remember the day Bella died. It was like, “Oh, today’s the day.” She was living and fighting. We walked into the hospital on a Monday morning, October 10th, 2010. She was no longer living, and she was dying. You could see it. It was like, “We fought a good fight, and today’s the day.”

Flying was an immensely serene spiritual experience because I had given up control of my life.

Here’s the thing, going through that journey with my daughter is a gift. To witness the birth, life, and death of another human being while I was still alive was a huge gift to how I see life. It has opened my eyes to what this gift is. It wasn’t revealed before that. That’s the only way I know how to explain that.

Wow. She opted in and volunteered to do that for you.

Yeah, we had an extraordinary ride together. My wife and I felt complimented that she wanted to come through us to do what she was here to do and that she felt like we were up to the task and could be good play buddies in the sandbox. We played together.

Kids with her disease go at any time for multiple reasons, so you didn’t know how much time you had with them. The bell curve of her disease is that almost everybody dies by their teenage years, but they die randomly at any point in between. They call it an occult infection, but frequently their body stops because of the rigor of the disease.

That in-your-face temporariness of it all versus you and me, we live in decades. It’s easy to think there will be much more where this came from. But when the finality of it is right in front of you, it was like I had to shift the way. I thought about the whole thing again, “How do I make sense of all this so that I can get out of bed in the morning, be useful, and then turn my brain off at night and go back to bed without thinking about what’s going on.”

There’s a test for faith. I don’t care what you believe in, so long as it inspires you to get out of bed, be the best version of yourself during the day and then comfort you enough to turn the monkey mind off and fall asleep. If your mindset and worldview can check all three boxes, more power to you. That works for me.

I get bummed when people get hooked on what I believe. It’s like, “Why do you care what I believe as opposed to what it produces?” You and I don’t have to believe the same thing so long as the outcome for both of us is that we’re unleashed, empowered, and increased. The best version of us shows up in the world. The world is increased and blessed by our being in it. I don’t give a rip about how you organize your mythology or your beliefs.

Bella’s Blessings by Timothy Ringgold

That’s the funny thing about beliefs. When I went to India and got my first spiritual awakening, it was at a Tony Robbins Platinum Partnership trip, and Tony brought in these oneness monks. When one of them touched me on the head, it gave me a psychedelic experience. It was a oneness blessing. I had never experienced any kind of drugs before. That was wild to have that kind of psychedelic trip. Everything was in technicolor. The deep connection to the Creator, and I was agnostic up until that point.

That’s nothing to sneeze at. That’s a big deal.

Yeah, it is a big deal. I’m so grateful for that. That opened the door to incredible, miraculous transformations. This is a phrase that stuck with me that I learned from the monks, “The divine is an experience, not a belief.”

What I had was an experience of the divine. I could learn, study, and get indoctrinated. I could go to church and get beliefs, but it pales in comparison to the experience of God.

I like it. I resonate with that.

Yeah, me too. There’s one concept I wanted to share with you that I learned recently. I want to get your take on it. We get five potential off-ramps off the freeway and five potential death dates, and we can choose. There was one for me when I was in my early 20s. Having been driving all night, I fell asleep behind the wheel and hit this huge lamppost going 65-70 miles an hour.

It popped out of its socket, my car spun out, I was towing a U-haul trailer, and the car was completely totaled. I walked away without a scratch. That was one of the death dates, potential off-ramps I chose not to take. My soul chose not to take that. What do you take about it? What do you believe or feel to be true about this idea of our death dates?

That’s a really interesting concept. I’ve never considered when it comes from that autonomy or agency level. I can look at my experience and wrap my brain around what I’ve observed. Even still, if I think about it like I’m thinking through it, I notice ascending ladders of where I’m thinking from. The first place I just went was like a human, and then I thought, “Oh, no, let’s think about this through a spiritual lens.”

Life is your medium: Your lifestyle is your personal, expressive creation. Share on X

As soon as I did that, I said, “Oh, that’s interesting.” From that lens, we chose this whole thing—with Bella, maybe it was the second or third day she was born. I was already running out of adrenaline. I was slightly nervous—almost like a psychotic break in the bathroom that morning. When I woke up and realized I went to go to the bathroom half asleep, then when reality and consciousness kicked in, the overwhelming nature of what was going on blew me away.

My daughter is in the ICU in one hospital. My wife is recovering from a C-section in the hospital next door. A tunnel connects the two, and I must be simultaneously in both places. I have another daughter at grandma’s house that I’m supposed to be parenting somehow at the same time. I was breaking apart.

I was sitting in the neonatal ICU. I’m sitting there looking at Bella and like, “No way this is a coincidence.” I had just become certified as a NICU music therapist, and Bella became my first patient. The cosmic events that had to occur, the training to become a NICU music therapist, were happening that week of the scheduled C-section.

I couldn’t go to Florida to do the training. I asked them, “Can we do it sooner?” Not knowing that she had a diagnosis of this disease. It was undiagnosed. They bent over backward to accommodate me. They let me do the training. They did a private one-on-one training with me so that I could do it in the timeline that I was hoping to do it in, none of us knowing that I would be literally in the hospital with my daughter. She’d be my first patient. It was just this cosmic coincidence.

There were multiple levels of that. Finally, I just looked at her and said, “Okay, let’s think about this through a spiritual lens. We’re here playing a game in the sandbox. This is not by accident. 

The veil forgetting is what it’s called.

Yes, the veil of forgetting. The Men in Black pen, I think that happens.

Another one is spiritual amnesia.

Spiritual amnesia, exactly. Interestingly enough, I think the pen has some design flaws because it seems I have some memories, very clear times before and times in between that I can still access, that I’m just like, “I wish that pen were a little more complete.” 

I’m sitting there with her, like, “We had to dream this up together.” There was no way we didn’t dream this up. Then I began to think, “Bella, you must be an old soul to have thought, this time, you want to come with a disease, where your skin’s not connected to your body, and you’ll die in childhood. How many lives have you lived where this seemed like the next right thing to do, spiritually? You must be the teacher, and we must be the students.”

On day three, she became the master. I took my cues from her, and I took my cues from God. I said, “This is where the school is clearly in session. This is all the hand of God. This is providence. I’m in. I get it. That’s how I’m going to make sense of this.”

I leave the NICU and take the shuttle bus to the parking garage. As I’m on the shuttle bus, Providence comes to mind. I’m like, “That’s what this is called when the hand of God is making this all happen.” As I think about it, I look out the window and am on Providence Street in Orange, California. Then I look past the street sign. We’re at a stop sign next to the Providence building. It’s giant.

You know those Trump Tower letters like providence. It’s huge. I’m like, “Okay, I get it now.”

The impact has nothing to do with the length of time.

When she left, it said, “Okay, your work was done.” What was fascinating was the day she left was the day in the clinical trial for them to do a biopsy of her skin—it was a bone marrow transplant—to see if Ali’s bone marrow in Bella started to produce marrow that would produce Ali’s skin on Bella, but from the inside out, not a skin graft?

What’s interesting about that was that when Bella died, it was that day that they could do a biopsy of her throat because she was dead. They couldn’t have done a throat biopsy if she was still alive. They could biopsy her throat and discover that 25% of the cells were Ali’s. And 30% was all you needed for a working tissue. They would never have been able to prove that even internal skin, which is your epithelial tissue, they would never have been able to test that. It was a complete scientific breakthrough that she picked the day so that it could happen exactly how it happened because she was here to be part of that study. It was clear that we had a book outside of her hospital room, where we had the staff write, “Bella is here teaching us all. What did you learn from Bella?” It was a journal. There are these journal entries in there that are so touching from all these different staffs, from who knows what walks of life, but they all interacted with Bella, and they all learned something. She was here as a teacher.

She also taught us that impact has nothing to do with the length of time. She didn’t need to say anything because, in fact, she never did. She was intubated. The only thing she said the night before she was intubated was no—we were trying to suction her mouth because all her skin was falling off inside and in her throat. She was choking on it, we were trying to suction it out, and she was fighting us. She was fighting us, we suctioned her, and then she said, “Aww.” Those are the only two words I ever heard her say. Her whole life was lived through her being, not words.

Be who you want to be in the world.

It was a great reminder to be who you want to be in the world. Don’t talk about it because humans learn through action, through observing other humans in action. That’s how we learn. The language you spoke first, no one taught it to you. You just observed it.

Be the thing you want other people to learn how to do. Don’t spend your time talking about it. Go out there every day. The person in front of you who cuts you in line today, just be love to that person. It doesn’t take any words. You may not have it tomorrow.

Don’t think, “Well, I’ll do it tomorrow.” No, you may not have tomorrow. You may have decided today was the day. From her journey, it was clear that she had picked her on-ramp and off-ramp. 

In Arabic, there’s a word called Maktub, which means it’s written. I learned this from the book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Where’s free will if it’s already written, this whole script and movie?

The idea that I’m co-creating at the moment, having forgotten that I already wrote it out. Let’s put it this way. As a musician, I’ll never forget one day, I was in school, and I was very lucky to go to a school with this famous master choral conductor. One day, we learned all the parts and script. He said, “Okay, now let’s make music out of it.”

I didn’t know what he meant because following the script was making music. It was like, “No, that’s just the script.” How do we express the script in a way that’s art? How do actors take words off a page and make us cry? They’re just words on a page. It’s something in the process that’s magical.

Growing up as an athlete watching the Olympics, watching figure skating, they get two scores. They’d get technical merit, and then they would get artistic merit. I don’t know if they still score that way. I haven’t watched it in a long time.

Words create different worlds.

When I was a kid, I remember there were these two things. It wasn’t so much that you did it. It was how you did it. It’s the process. What did that make others feel? Because ultimately, that’s what art does. It makes you feel something.

I love this quote. “People don’t remember what you told them. They remember how you made them feel.”

Absolutely. If that weren’t important, art wouldn’t exist. For me, art is the expression of the creation of feeling. It’s a process. It links us. Life is a medium because your lifestyle is a creation and expression. Even if you had written the score already, it’s not enough to have written the score. It’s how you perform it.

The orchestra has the score. But we all know that certain performances of great works get recorded and listened to, and certain performances don’t. It’s the same score, so it must not be the score. It must be the execution.

For me, therein lies. The game is, how do you want to express yourself? How do you want to express the notes on the page? How do you want to make music out of your life? That sounds interesting.

Art is the expression of the creation of feeling. It’s a process, and it links us.

All right. If our death date off-ramps are already set, it’s preset by us. We’re co-creating this reality. We wrote the script with God. We got lots of scripts and wrote all of them and their timelines. We can choose to jump timelines. The more benevolent we are, the more outside our comfort zone we go, outside our normal timeline and script. That’s where we get a timeline upgrade and a new script that we also co-wrote. That’s my understanding of it.

Let’s say, for example, in this timeline that we’re on currently, there’s a war. But in a timeline that we do not currently occupy but want to occupy, we have faith in God. We have trust that everything is for our highest and best good, and we are focused on what we want, not on what we don’t want. That’s the law of attraction. That’s not like I want checks in the mail. I put my attention to where I expect to be, quantum jumping or timeline jumping. If it’s not on this timeline, you feed with your energy and attention the timeline you are currently on or want to be on.

By being more benevolent and outside your comfort zone, if you’re in robotic consciousness or autopilot mode, you give $5 to each homeless person you see. Still, you empty your wallet this time because you get a nudge from above. That’s outside my comfort zone, but I did it. And then that person can buy the medicine they couldn’t get because they don’t normally get enough money other than just to feed themselves, so they skip their medicine. That’s where we get the timeline upgrades. Everything’s already written, Maktub, but we can choose from many scripts, depending on our benevolence and focus. That’s my understanding of it.

It reminds me that the levels of existence have no boundaries. At the end of the movie Men In Black, the very last scene is where it zooms out of the planet, then zooms out to the galaxy, then the universe. 

The galaxy or the universe itself was a marble being played with. It was one of a set of twelve marbles that were on the ground. The being picks up all the marbles, puts them in his bag, and pieces them out. What I loved about that scene was trying to understand levels of awareness coming in waves—just the idea of multiple scripts.

Remembering that in one part of my brain, the idea of this quantum world of infinite possibility was first introduced to me in What the Bleep Do We Know way back in the day. It was hard to wrap your brain around. I had to create some new brain cells.

By the way, it’s 111, right at this moment. I was looking at the clock.

There you go. I said, “Okay, there’s more than I think daily. The idea of the multiple scripts and upgrading reminds me there’s always more going on beyond that’s just outside of my awareness.” That’s part of the game too. “How do I ascend awareness and upgrade awareness?”

Awareness is consciousness in the world of recovery from addiction I work in daily. It’s waking up layer by layer, almost like a ladder. We go back to this very boots on the ground bringing it back, which is when you know better, you do better. Let’s start with one thing: did you know stress triggers cravings? Did you know your brains are designed to do the behavior? These little nuggets.

They’re like, “Whoa, so then stress matters?” “Did you know when you breathe through your nose, it relaxes you? When you breathe through your mouth, it arouses you?” “Thank you. Boots on the ground.” Now I’ve just woken up to how to regulate my body to help me through my current experience.

If I don’t get back down to boots on the ground like I’m in this organic suit that does have some cause-effect things, I’m going to start there, and then I’m going to work my way up, then there’s no end to it. There’s no finish line. I subscribe to the fact that there’s no finish line. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t pursue fast cars and big houses because I can’t take them with me.

Our body is in our soul.

By the way, I learned not long ago that our soul is not in our body. Our body is in our soul. Our soul is much larger than our body. Taking that analogy a bit further, you’re renting this meat suit. If you’re receiving thoughts instead of making them yourself—I learned this also in India from one of those monks—we are receivers, like the FM receivers.

Yes, like an antenna. 

Those thoughts are not ours. So, we don’t need to feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment over those thoughts if they’re not the highest, most pure thoughts. We just recognize, “Oh, that’s not my thought,” and then we can dismiss it. We can send it away.

I learned this exercise from receiving it directly from God. Just imagine yourself in the center, your energetic heart center. This light of your being just explodes outward. It’s not that it’s incinerating. Whatever is attached to you is whispering into your consciousness because your vibration is a bit lower, and it’s found a crack to whisper something not helpful to you. It’s that you’re sending it to the infinite light. Ein Sof is what it’s called in Hebrew.

You’re sending it to the creator for transformation. It’s the thought and whoever is behind it. Whatever entity or unhelpful soul that hasn’t crossed over or whatever, who’s hitching a ride, enjoying the addiction with you because, perhaps, they had that same addiction when they were incarnated, you send them to Ein Sof. It’s just instantaneous. It’s boom, done, just like a flash. I do that myself dozens of times a day.

When your immune system is working, it chews up all the bugs already knocking.

I want to share this quote with you encapsulates this concept of being impeccable with the thoughts that enter your consciousness, to get them out if they don’t serve you or if they’re not a vibrational match with who you want to be and who you truly are. “Guard the gates to the mind. Satan keeps knocking, polluting our thoughts, seeing if we’ll take the bait. What he’s selling is all an illusion.”

That’s good. Earl Shoaff has a quote, “Stand guard at the doorway of your mind.” That’s a cool quote, and it’s interesting. It’s like spiritual immunity. When your immune system is working, it chews up all the bugs already knocking. They’re in there waiting for you to be weak.

It’s not that they’re not in there. They’re just waiting. That’s physical immunity. Spiritual immunity, Satan’s waiting, just hanging around waiting for you to get tired and low energy.

He’s up-leveling with you. As you climb the spiritual ladder, he’s coming up with you. You should be careful not to get fooled by him because he might sound like a guide.

That’s an interesting thought.

I got fooled by him big time.

There’s a great movie called Devil’s Advocate with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. Not that Keanu Reeves can’t act his way out of a paper bag, but the concept at the very end of it is that he sings right back there where he started with Keanu Reeves’ character.

When Keanu Reeves thinks he’s outwitted the devil, the devil says, “Hahaha, hold my beer. Watch this. Now I’m going to plead. Now I’m going to play this card.” You’re like, “Oh, wow, okay, talk about vigilance.” Vigilance is required because this guy is cunning and will appeal to any angle to get in. It’s like not beneath them.

What I love the most about this is who the devil works for. Everybody works for God. You start to see God’s hand in everything, including to circle back to earlier in our conversation, Monsanto.

Why is this in my movie? Why is this in my script? Oh, because I’m resisting evil instead of not feeding it my fear and attention.” There’s a great quote from Neville Goddard, “There is a great difference between resisting evil and renouncing it.” When you resist evil, you give it your attention and continue to make it real. When you renounce evil, you take your attention away from it and give your attention to what you want. Now is the time to control your imagination and give your energy to what you want.

Law of attraction. That’s great. I’m glad you just used the word renounce. Resist versus renounce. There’s power in the distinction of language. Words create different worlds, and I’m a big fan of that. That was helpful for me. Thank you.

This has been so fun and amazing. You’re just a bright light in the world. Thank you so much for all you shared in this episode; good work and miracles you deliver in the world for others. You’re an amazing human.

Thank you, Stephan. I appreciate that. Thanks for having me. This was a blast.

Yeah, awesome. If our listener or viewer wants to get in touch with you, follow you, learn from you, read your book, Sonic Recovery, and perhaps even work with you on music therapy services, how would they get in touch?

The easiest place you can find me on the web is at You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram. Although candidly, I mostly post about my world of pickleball, which I discovered two years ago, and I’m now a total crazed advocate and addict of pickleball. If there is such a thing as a healthy addiction, pickleball is that. Find me online, and let’s have a chat.

Awesome. Thank you, Tim. Listener, I appreciate you, and I love you. I thank you for being a listener and supporting me on my mission. Share this episode with somebody you care about so that we can share that and spread the light together. We’ll catch you in the next episode. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.

Important Links

Checklist of Actionable Takeaways

?Be mindful of the energy I emit and acknowledge the profound impact of my actions. Remember that my energy and actions create ripple effects.

?Believe in a benevolent universe. By choosing to see the universe as benevolent, I open myself to possibilities and find meaning even in challenging circumstances.

?Explore the importance of human connections and how they can lead to extraordinary collaborations. Reach out, connect, and co-create amazing works.

?Find empowerment and inspiration in my experiences. I have the power to assign meaning to my experiences, whether they are good or bad, and that power can transform the world around me.

?Find comfort and acceptance in the providence working in my life. Unseen forces work to remind me to have humility and fully understand God’s vast presence in everything.

?Expand my perception and seek answers beyond my immediate reality. At times, I may be the one standing in the way of my abundance and joy.

?Remove barriers to joy and recognize the obstacles that block me from experiencing true happiness. These barriers can be self-imposed or rooted in shame and past traumas.

?Learn to balance surrender and action in life. I need to surrender the outcome to the higher power and actively participate in the process.

?Appreciate the gift of life and embrace the resilience that allows me to bounce back after setbacks.

?Visit Tim Ringgold’s website at for more information about his music therapy services, blogs, and other amazing resources.

About Tim Ringgold

Tim Ringgold is a board-certified music therapist, author, and award-winning international speaker, having shared the stage with some of the top minds in music, the brain, and personal development, including Tony Robbins. Tim was also the first person to give a TEDx talk on music therapy in 2012.

Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.


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