G43: Jon Dwoskin

Meditation Saved My Life (with Jon Dwoskin)

Losing half your relatives, losing your mother, losing your father, getting diagnosed with cancer yourself: that’s not an easy path to walk as a young adult. Jonathan Dwoskin was forced to grow up real early, real fast — and, along the way, he managed to find support and develop some tools that allowed him to not just overcome trauma but literally save his life.

The first tool that helped Jon recover from trauma was therapy. His mom and pretty much her whole side of the family died within about 10 years, and it was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. Then his step mom suggested therapy, and he started developing even more healthy coping mechanisms.

The next tool that transformed Jon’s life was meditation — and Jon very literally credits meditation with saving his life. The mindfulness practice made him more present in his own body, it helped tune his intuition. And as a result, one day, he just knew something was off. So he went to see a doctor and got screened for cancer, but the doctor said he was fine. He came back 30 days later, still not feeling right, and this time the tests came back positive; he had cancer. But through this intentional awareness, Jon was able to catch the disease and put an end to it in the very early stages.

Now, as a coach, Jon brings these same practices to leaders and executives… but, sometimes, he has to sneak it in. There’s still a bit of a stigma around practices like meditation, especially in the business community, but the results are undeniable once you experience them. So he starts with data and some creative rebranding — he introduces it as quiet time — until the people he works with can feel the difference.

I am so grateful to Jon for sharing this story, for sharing his meditation practice, because I think a lot of people still look at meditation as a New Age oddity, or exclusively part of ancient spiritual tradition. Meditation is just intentional self-awareness, and it’s not some secret tool only available to some of us. It’s profoundly powerful, and it’s quite possibly the most valuable free resource available to any of us.

What Brett asks:

  • [02:40] How did the unconditional love from your family in early childhood affect you?
  • [05:15] Tell me more about having to start adulting as a young teen
  • [16:20] What was it like having to live two lives: the young, happy kid and the somber, exhausted adult
  • [18:35] What was the spiritual part of your household and upbringing? 
  • [20:20] How did meditation save your life?
  • [29:30] How can meditation be part of your work and your life (and how can you package  it in a way executives will accept)?
  • [36:00] What did you choose to do with your life after overcoming such extreme trauma and health problems?
  • [43:05] Getting what you do into alignment with who you are
  • [50:00] What other tools are part of your practice?


Lessons for intentional living:

  • The best gift you can give yourself is your breath. Meditation, quiet time, recentering — whatever you want to call it — doesn’t have to take up a lot of time or look any particular way. But giving yourself even just a couple minutes with yourself, and making that a practice, can be transformative in every area of your life.
  • If you feel stuck in the pursuit of what you want in life, or if the stories that other people told you are dominating how you live your life, write yourself a three-year narrative: write out what you want your life to be three years from today, in present tense, as if it already happened. That makes it a lot easier to write your own narrative, instead of allowing society to write it for you.