The Curation Of Masters With Tom Rapsas

27 Mar , 2024 podcasts

The Curation Of Masters With Tom Rapsas

CMO Tom Rapsas | Spiritual Practices


Life is a journey filled with questions that help us uncover who we are. We are spiritual beings walking to find the deeper meaning of life. Embark on a transformative journey with our guest, Tom Rapsas, writer, author, and blogger known for his column at Patheos, Inc. In this episode, Tom shares his origin story, highlighting a pivotal realization that sparked his transition from ego-driven success to a purpose-driven second mountain. Join us as we explore the integration of spiritual practices into the workplace and the nuggets of wisdom from Tom’s recent book, Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritually Curious. Uncover the essence of a life well-lived, moments of peace, and the profound concept that the journey itself is the path. This episode is a captivating blend of personal anecdotes, spiritual wisdom, and practical strategies to awaken to life’s profound beauty. Tune in to not miss out!

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The Curation Of Masters With Tom Rapsas

Insights For The Walk With The Deeper Meaning Of Life

In this episode, I welcome author, blogger, and creative director Tom Rapsas. Tom has been writing the Wake Up Call column at since 2012. It’s the most popular column on the site’s New Vision channel. Over the years, his stories have drawn over five million views. In January 2024, a book based on his top stories from the past ten years was released appropriately called Wake Up Call: Daily Insights For The Spiritually Curious.

He has also self-published two other books. He has spent an enormous amount of time learning, researching, and sharing so much of what he’s learned from many different sources. What I love about Tom is that he has explored the deeper questions and shared this curation with others, all while managing a vibrant career in the advertising industry as a copywriter and creator director for 40 years. While Tom has spent much of his time in New York City, he lives on the Maryland Eastern Shore in the good company of his wife and a small herd of cats.

You can find him at and view his weekly column at Tom and I talk about the many different ways to explore life’s unending questions, the questions we are always asking ourselves as we try to understand this journey called light. We talk about the practices that can make all the difference in how we meet challenges. He is a wealth of knowledge and I am grateful that he has shared so much with us in our conversation. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Without further delay, please enjoy the conversation with a very wise, Tom Rapsas.


Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. I know that we had a great introductory conversation. I am super excited to dig into our conversation.

It’s great to be here. Thank you. I’m looking forward to it.

Without any further ado, let’s get going here. Let’s begin at the beginning because we all have a story. One of the best things about talking to people on this show is seeing how the story of our lives translates into what we’re doing then and how we serve other people. Can you share with us your origin story? What do we need to know about Tom? Believe me, I know that you can’t tell your story in a short time. Maybe give us the highlight reel.

Stages Of Life

I’ve worked in advertising for about 40 years. I’ve had a long career and I think there was a point in my career, maybe fifteen years where I found I wasn’t satisfied. I found I was jumping jobs quite a bit and climbing the ladder as they say. I got to each new job thinking it would be nirvana, but I still came up short. At the end of the day, I was still wondering, “Is this other is.” I was in this cycle of, I called it work, home, sleep, repeat each day.

There was a little bit of an emptiness inside me I think it wasn’t until I began to engage my spiritual side that I began to find a little more contentment, a little more satis with life and with work. That process was a long process. It started innocently enough with a friend giving me a book that had some spiritual aspects to it. From there it snowballed for me. I read one book that caught my interest. I went back and read it after 30-something years it wasn’t that spiritual. It was about sensitivity training for Green Berets. It opened my eyes to say, “Maybe there’s another dimension out there.” In time what I was able to do is partly one story to the next and grow from there.

I think that’s amazing. I know when we first met Tom, one of the things that I think resonated with you because we’re in such a similar life stage, 40 years, I’m 35 years in, and you do start to look at life very differently on these different paths. I know I’ve heard you say this in other conversations. I think you referred to Arthur Brooks’s Phases Of Life. Richard Rohr talks a lot about the second half of life. Talk a little bit about not only from your own lens, but what on how the first part of our lives is so much about proving and egoic and accumulation, but then that starts to change at some point.

Arthur Brooks breaks it into four stages of life there’s another guy, David Brooks, not related, who breaks it into two stages of life. That might be simpler. He calls it the first mountain and the second mountain and the first mountain is our career. It’s climbing that mountain of our career. We’re more or less interested in satisfying the demands of our ego. We want to grow, go up the corporate ladder, we want to make more money, get more things, keep up with the Joneses, bigger houses, bigger cars. We all sometimes reach this point and it’s at the top of the first mountain where we say, “It’s not satisfying.” That’s when we begin to perhaps come down that first mountain and then approach the second mountain.

The second mountain becomes less about the ego and more about the true self. It’s about, “What’s my calling here? What’s my purpose? How can I contribute to the people and things around me?” I think that takes time. Get caught up in that phase where it is all about success. At one point we’re pursuing romance, then we get married and then it becomes this climb to get more stuff. The funny thing is that the ego’s never satisfied with more stuff. It’s a momentary bout of happiness.

The ego is never really satisfied with more stuff. It's momentary. Share on X

You get that new car in the driveway and by the next day, it becomes what’s next. You’ve got to start looking within and ask yourself, “Is there something else inside me that I need to satisfy?” Richard Rohr calls it a yearning. It’s that yearning, I think for spirituality. I might say a yearning for God that eventually we all have to face and all have to try to satisfy if we want to try to find true contentment in life.

You mentioned moving jobs and people changing relationships. We get into these conversations all the time with people because it’s so much about looking outside of ourselves and not inside of ourselves. That to me is the true work because all these things are dopamine hits and distractions, and we’re all in it and we see it.

I know it when I’m in that space of trying to fill something that makes me feel good for the moment, but it’s not the deeper meaning. Why do you think you were drawn to go on this journey? We’ll talk a little bit about the lab and how it’s been brought into the business world, but I talked to a lot of different people on these topics. I’ve got the folks who choose to not go down the rabbit hole and others who go very deep. What do you think, was it about you that made you want to learn so much?

I was raised in a fairly religious household. I was raised as a Catholic. Church was part of my life pretty much through high school. It was a little bit, not discussed at home, but it was expected you went to church every Sunday. We didn’t talk about it much afterward occasionally you’d pick up a piece of wisdom here or there, but often it came up short. By the time I was in my late teens, it felt like a big waste of time. I walked away from that. I walked away from religion and any spiritual aspect for many years.

It’s a process of looking at the true self and saying, “What’s missing in my life? What’s the missing component?” For a lot of us, it comes back to that. If we can get out of that drive, that is the societal norm to fill the whims of the ego, the pursuit of material goods. At a certain point, I imagine there are some people out there who are satisfied with that, with the bigger home, the bigger car, the bigger job, and the stress that comes with it. I think then you have to look even not just at yourself, but what’s your connection with those around you, with your family, and friends. How tight are you with them?

For me, that missing component pointed back to spirituality. Doing it without church, I didn’t suddenly decide I was going to go back to church. I heard a quote by Bono that said, “Religion sometimes gets in the way of God.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that. It’s something a lot of people do that don’t want to address their spiritual side because they equate it with religion I’m here to tell you that you can separate the two.

CMO Tom Rapsas | Spiritual Practices

Spiritual Practices: A lot of people don’t want to address their spiritual side because they equate it with religion, but you can actually separate the two.


Spiritual Practices Into The Business Environment

Let’s talk more about that because. In the Compassion Lab, as we bring some of these practices into the business environment, it’s as much about human flourishing as anything else. Are we living at our full capacity? Are we grounded in our true selves? Are we aligned with our values? Are we cultivating resilience? Are we learning how to manage our emotions? Those things involve practices like learning to breathe and learning to be aware.

The lines can get blurred and people can get a little, “Is this a religious conversation?” I think we’re living in a time where that perspective is expanding and people are understanding these practices are about living in your most expansive way. Talk more about what you’ve seen change. You’ve been on this journey for a long time and in the business world. How have you seen it shift?

I can talk personally. Work has been a funny thing. There was a time, and I want to say it was going back many years ago when work-life balance became a topic of conversation. I think we lost that a little bit right around when COVID hit when people were working from home when the hours blurred about what were the proper work hours and what work. I’m not sure we got back to that work-life balance yet. Going back to how I treated it, I have been fortunate that I’ve worked for several bosses who believed in this work-life balance, and who didn’t want you working nights and weekends. would step in if they felt you were in a more stressful situation to get you assistance if you needed it, work assistance. I do think that varies from organization to organization and from group to group within companies.

I’ve been blessed to work for these people who recognize the need for that work-life balance and to pursue things outside of work. I think you mentioned how this works with work. Maybe that was the previous conversation we had, but I think there are ways to introduce spiritual practices into your everyday job. I know there’s a guy by the name of Shawn Askinosie. He runs this global chocolate company. He sources chocolate from all over the world. Askimosie’s big thing is he has a practice called The Five Dings A Day Spiritual Practice where he sets up his phone that rings at different periods throughout the day five times a day. It’s like the Muslim call for prayer.

During these times when the bell rings, he takes a specific action for him. It’s usually he does a quick prayer. I think we all need that thing if we’re not recognizing this side of ourselves to basically have these points throughout the day where we find the time to take a breath, smile, and clear our heads. There was a fellow by the name of Meng worked at Google. He had the title of Jolly Good Fellow.

He introduced into work the idea of a breath a day. When he talked to groups, he said, “I’m going to talk to you about meditation and breathing practices and such, but where I’m going to ask you to start is with a single breath a day. What I want you to do at some point today is to find the time to focus on a single breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s it. That’s where the practice starts.” It can start that simply. I think there are ways to bring this spirituality into the workplace and do it undercover without alerting everybody in the office, “It’s time for me to meditate.” There are different approaches you can take.

So much of it is about self-regulation. It can be a very personal journey, but can also be a journey in community, which is what we’re experimenting with in the lab is how do we come together in community and normalize the conversation about, “I’m overwhelmed. I’m burned out. I’m not sure what my purpose is.” All of a sudden you’re in with a bunch of peers and you’re like, “It’s just not me. Everyone’s struggling with these same things.” All of a sudden it’s a different conversation because you realize that you’re not the only one because sometimes I think we’re at a business dinner or we’re at a meeting and we’re all talking about news, weather, and sports, but underneath we’re all trying to figure out the same thing. I’m like, “What if we dug in deep right from the start, what type of conversation might we have?”

Have you had those conversations at your workplace?

We have, and part of what we’re doing with the lab is we have our weekly, we call them refresh sessions, which is a play on the pause that refreshes with the Coca-Cola company. We will come together and have conversations. Usually, we have a facilitator who was talking about, “Maybe it’s about overwhelm. Maybe it’s about the power of gratitude. Maybe it’s how to be more present.” The group on that call is able to say, “This is my experience. This worked for me.” All of a sudden you’re in a community conversation and it’s unjust to a personal journey that you’re having, but those always run in tandem.

You’ve got what you’re trying to work out personally, that private journey that you have, and then you’re able to come together and share that. We’re all climbing those two mountains you talked about. We’re all in different stages, but we’re still making the climb together. There’s something very comforting when we understand that it’s a common quest, that it’s not just us. I think that’s what’s evolving now in the space. COVID was a catalyst because this stuff was a bit more covert before COVID, but now I think we can be more overt because we’ve been through so much.

That’s fantastic that it’s happening in your workplace. That’s great. Honestly, in my profession, in advertising, I haven’t seen it too much. I think what I have tried to do, and there are exceptions, I was with a company where we had an annual day of the meeting where we did talk about these topics, but you talked about it for a day and people talked about starting programs and it went away. If you don’t have access to these programs at your workplace, I think you’re blessed if you do. If you don’t, you have to find a way to start on your own, taking care of yourself and finding the time to start a small spiritual practice. I’ve written about the steps for a spiritual practice quite a bit, but one of the ones I always come back with is the bedrock of this you’ve got to find time alone.

You’ve got to be able to find a fifteen-minute period. I find it early in the morning. For some people, it’s better late at night when you can sit and be and just contemplate. That’s without a phone and without the TV on. For me, I would do it in the morning. If I could sit down for fifteen minutes with a cup of coffee, I might focus on my breathing, but I might sit and be. This time of year, there might be a fireplace on in the background where you can light a candle. Something to get centered, when we do that, when we find these moments to make a nod to our spiritual nature, it can help us throughout the day. It can carry. It can go with us throughout the day. You touched on meditation as well, and meditation for years, I was reading spiritual books left and right and avoided meditation at all costs.

CMO Tom Rapsas | Spiritual Practices

Spiritual Practices: When we find these moments to make a nod to our spiritual nature, it can help us throughout the day.


Why were you avoiding it? Was it just, did you find it too hard?

Yes, I thought it was impossible.

The monkey mind, busy mind.

You learned these mind tricks. They’re the simple ones because when you’re sitting there and you’re focusing on your breath, breathing in, breathing out, and all of a sudden the thoughts in your head are gone. The other trick, of course, is a mantra. The standard mantra, which never worked for me. What I did is I evolved it into a phrase. The phrase I have used in the past was, “Thank you God for all the good in my life. Thank you for all the good.” It became a gratitude practice. By repeating that phrase over and over a ten-minute session, it puts the mind in check, then you get out of your head and go into someplace deeper inside you.

Head, Heart, Body Connection

Let’s talk a little bit about the head, heart, and total body, because I think especially in the Western world, and you mentioned these fifteen minutes of being, it can be revolutionary in a society of productivity, distraction, and movement. You were in New York. You were in the middle of that energy of going right all the time. I think we struggle with giving ourselves that silence. The other thing I notice, especially in the West, is that we’re very mind-centered. We try to figure it out. We try to understand. You talked about all these books that you read for us to try to understand, but there’s a place in us that is a deeper place of knowing. It’s out of the head it’s maybe into the heart. It’s into the body.

I know you had, from the introduction to your book, and we’re going to talk more about your book Wake Up Call in a moment, but in the intro, you talk about moments in your life when they were more mystical, things became more real, more unexplained. It wasn’t about the head. Can you share some of those stories of how this journey has impacted you in other ways?

It’s about the connection to something greater than ourselves. You can find this in a number of ways. You can have that connection. Some people find it out in nature and sense a greater presence there. At other times, this connection to something greater pops up in unusual ways. It’s happened a couple of times in my life. At one point, clearly, after I was living in Houston, Texas at the time. I was a major runner. I had done a 6-mile run when everything fell quiet and silent around me I heard a voice in my head that I could tell you was not my own. I’m not sure where it came from, but it gave me a series of instructions to leave the job I was at, to pursue another job in New York City by chance, and to reconnect with a woman I was dating, who I ended up reuniting with in New York City. She became my wife.

I’m not sure where this guidance came from, but I do think you talked about getting in touch with the inner true self, that there is a deep-seated intuition that we have. Ralph Waldo Emerson called it lowly listening. It was being able to quiet everything and listening to what was going on within. We could sometimes receive guidance. It doesn’t always come through as loud and clear as it did for me that one day in the park. It literally changed the direction of my life. I think that guidance is out there and sometimes it pops up like that. Other ways it pops up are events in your life, things we chalk up to, synchronicity that maybe there’s a bigger picture out there that things out in the world are connected.

The fifteen minutes of quiet that you mentioned, I think sometimes there’s guidance coming our way, but we’re too busy to hear it and we drown it out, or we’re not paying attention. I think sometimes it’s paying attention. You mentioned synchronicity, but it’s understanding that there is a mystery that is working. Chance meetings, chance encounters, and different things that happen in our lives as we look back, we can connect the dots.

I remember there was a fairly famous speech by Steve Jobs, about how he had taken calligraphy in college and he had done some of these very unusual non-traditional things. Some of his friends were like, “Why are you doing that?” In looking back, all those dots connected into the path that he was destined to live I think often these practices can help us get in touch with that deeper why of maybe why we’re called to make a move or to connect with a friend because these are all ways that we’re being guided in 1,000 different methods.

There’s a guy by the name of Henry Newand. He was in Christian monasteries for many years. Later in life helped the disabled. He had a series of ways to listen to what the world was telling you that he used God there, but it can be the world or the intuition. One of the ways that stood out to me was to pay attention to the events in your life because a lot of the events in your life and experiences you encounter, the people you run into, they’re there for a reason and they can propel you to new things perspective, to a new direction. You’ve got to be aware. You’ve got to pay attention. What happens in the work world is we can get into this fog of work.

Pay attention to the events in your life. The experiences you encounter and the people you run into are for a reason and they can propel you to new things. Share on X

I’ll tell you a quick experience I had. It was when I was working in New York City, and I was doing this salacious commute from the Jersey Shore. For any readers who know that area. I was commuting two-plus hours a day each way. I would come home exhausted and my wife was kind enough to have dinner ready for me when I would get home off the bus, usually about 8:00 at night.

One day, I was sitting at the dining room table and she said to me, “Do you notice anything different in this room?” I looked around and I said, “No, I don’t see anything different.” She said, “Look around again.” I looked a second time and I saw some pillows on the sofa. I said, “New pillows on the sofa over there.” Those pillows had been there for months now, then she pointed up, she was sitting across from me, above her head and above her head, and it was at a dining room table. There was a dining room chest. On the chest was a perch, this 3-foot-long wooden figurine and reddish in color. It was a mermaid who was hearing over the side looking at me.

I said, “When did you put that there?” She said, “Two weeks ago. I’ve been waiting for you to notice.” The title of the book is Wake Up Call, but we have these wake-up calls in life where I say, “I am getting too buried in work. I have to take a step back. I have to take a breath. I have to start paying attention to the things around me and the people around me a little bit more.”

It’s true there are all these little moments in our lives. Whether it’s at work or whether it’s at home, where maybe if we’re paying attention, we’ll notice the tone of our child’s voice that they need to talk about something, but we have to pick up on it. We have to see it or our partner, a friend, in the business environment, or the customer and we sense something else is going on with that customer. If we are in a zombie mode, we’re asleep at the wheel going through the motions, and we’re not there. We’re not even present in our lives.

We get caught up in the drama of our own lives and as we should not be much we tend to, and this is the ego focus inward on our own needs, thoughts, and desires. What about the person across from us, be it somebody you work with, a friend, or a family member? I think I once wrote a story. The title was The Greatest Gift You Can Give Someone, and it’s your attention. It’s the one thing that a lot of people don’t do as they engage with others. You have to be fully present. You have to listen instead of waiting to talk. The key listening to the person across from you.

The greatest gift you can give someone is your attention. Share on X

It’s a huge difference in the energy of that interaction when you have that we talked about the power of presence in one of the lab conversations we talked about even if you’re on the phone with someone and you’re not visually seeing them, you can feel if someone is multitasking, like doing something else because there’s a di there’s a different energy in their presence to what you’re saying. It’s such a powerful thing. Our gift is to give people that presence to be there fully.

We were talking before we hit record about your graciousness in rescheduling our conversation because our previous date was, I ended up having a meeting that was going to be super tight. I knew from experience I would be distracted. Come time at the end of our conversation, I’ll start watching the clock. I’ll start thinking about this meeting and how much we have to even plan our days so that we don’t get into those situations where we’re lost in the chaos of what we’re trying to do because we’re trying to do too much.

The best way to zap yourself out of that is to take those mini breaks to learn how to, “Let me take a break, even if it means I’ve done it before going into the men’s room and sitting in a stall and saying, ‘I’m going to focus on my breathing for a moment here to get things together and come back out with a fresh perspective.’”

One of the things I can recall telling my daughter, I remember saying to her one day when she was going through a rough spell, “Each day is another chance to get things right, but each moment is another chance to get things right.” If you find that you’ve done something off, if you haven’t given someone the attention they deserved, if you’ve maybe been rude to someone each moment, it’s another chance to fix it and to get things right. Sometimes to do that, you have to do a quick mental reset, whatever that takes.

Each moment is another chance to get things right. Share on X

Wake Up Call

All of the things that you’re talking about are these practices that help keep us awake to what’s happening, awake and aware, “What’s going on inside of me? What’s going on with the person in front of me, and how do I continue to be aware as best I can in this process?” As I am talking about your book and your book is called Wake Up Call, beautifully titled, I think you were published in January when the book was released.

CMO Tom Rapsas | Spiritual Practices

Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritually Curious


I love the way you put this book together because you divide it. You can take weekly bite-size portions of this about how to drive awareness, how to drive your intellectual curiosity, how to drive your practices, and all these different ways. It’s cool the way you did it. Two questions about the book. 1) It goes all the way back to your origin story, what called you into writing about this journey? How did this book come to be? You’ve written many stories through your blog, how did you distill it down into this book? Can you share the story of the book?

It was tough. I’ve been writing and readers can find me at Patheos. I write the Wake Up Call column. I write a story a week, and I’ve been doing it for many years now. When an editor friend came to me with the idea of compiling the best stories in a book, it became tough. I literally printed out every story I had written. I had this big room I used to work in. It was papered from one corner to the next then I had to do the cutdown process. Even after I did, it became, I got the 500 stories down to, and ultimately it became 112.

I did the first cut, how do I organize them? While I knew that spirituality was going to be a big part of the book, know that there’s more to life than spirituality. As you mentioned, the book is, if you read a story a day, it would take you 16 weeks because over each week there are 7 categories, a story for each day of the week. I wanted to put in stories about things like character and inspiration then I veer into spirit spirituality a little more with some open-ended ideas or stories around contemplation.

The book itself was tough to cut down on what I thought were the very best stories. In fact, when the book was ready to go to print, there was one story that I had written that rubbed me the wrong way. I pleaded with the publisher and I said, “Story 87 is not right. I don’t like my tone in there.” We swapped one out at the last moment.

I wanted to come up with stories my goal with each story I write is I want the reader to come away with a core message from there. As you know, from the book, I’ve read a lot of books. I will do that with books. I will read a book and then I will try to, in 1,000 words come up with, “Here is the core of this book.” In some books, I have to do two stories because they cover much ground, but that is my goal with every podcast I listen to that I will occasionally write about, or maybe it’s a series of newspaper articles or a book, “What’s the core message in there?” and try to simplify it so anybody reading the column can get something out of it.

I love that. I think we all have our own gifts, our own superpowers. I think about you as a curator because what you’ve done here is you’ve taken vast amounts of wisdom that you have read about and curated it into a way that it’s very accessible to people because not everyone’s going to go down the journey that you have and read all of these books. You’ve done a beautiful job with this. I want to share as we’re talking about it, as I have been enjoying digging into your book in preparation for our conversation. You do such a wonderful job of putting it into a way that you could not only understand the concepts but apply them in your life, which is wonderful.

Thank you. Definitely, I also write from the perspective of, I think some people, and I know some people who have done this, they go on a spiritual pursuit and then the next thing you know, they’re traveling to India and they’ll be at an ashram for the next year or two years. I’ve known a few people like that, but I think you and I are part of the working world. We have to put up with choice. I’ve enjoyed what I do and by choice, but the question then becomes, “How can I blend these two aspects of life? How can I blend spirituality or my spiritual nature with the demands of the work environment?” I’m always aware of that. I’m not going to recommend somebody go into some intense practice that’s going to take them away from the everyday world because I’m a part of it. I think most of my readers are a part of it. How can we better engage with our everyday lives?

Clearly, I agree with you because I’ve chosen the same path when you do begin the journey, you hear these people who go on silent retreats and off to India and on these vision quests. For some people that is the path they’re meant to take. Most of us are living our everyday lives. We have families, friends, jobs, bills, dogs, cats, and all of those things. In Buddhism, they call it a householder. You’re not in a monastery. You’re living life quite honestly, I think it’s the path with the deepest lessons because every day you’re confronted with the world and all the things that trigger you right at work and in your personal life. How could you learn more than that? We’re learning so much.

I think you have to have the will to engage with that side of your nature. I know you mentioned David Arthur Brooks, he breaks life. It’s based on a Hindu system that breaks life into four quarters. They’re roughly separated by 25 years of life. Those first 25 years of life, you’re learning. You’re going to school, or college or you’re starting your career. That next phase usually lasts for most people from about the age 25 to 50 where they’re on that pursuit of ego gratification. There’s nothing wrong with that. I pursued that as well, where we want to climb the corporate ladder, we want to grow our careers. We want to enjoy the better things in life. We want a nicer house. We want to go on nice vacations. At a certain point, and for most people it’s at this third phase, it’s right around the age of 50.

Some people get stuck in phase two. They never get out of it for people that are elderly and they can’t give up this pursuit of ego gratification in various forms. Ideally, at that third stage, you’re beginning to step away a little bit. You’re still working, but you’re engaging in these other spiritual pursuits, trying to satisfy this aspect of ourselves that I think is within all of us if we realize it. It’s that yearning inside us for a connection to something greater. The funny thing is the fourth phase, and it comes at various times for different people by the age chart, it’s at 75. I think I’m going to get there quicker. You begin to take a deep dive into the spiritual subjects that interest you. I think that’s next. I think it’s next for you as well.

Impactful Books And Teachers

I think you’re already there. Since I’m holding this book in my hand that is full of insights, I think you’re definitely already there. It’s a fascinating path that we’re all on. We do get there in our own sweet time for what makes sense for all of us. I’m curious about this because you have read so much and you’ve distilled so much into this book. Are there certain teachers and patterns you’ve seen as you’ve taken all that have been the most resonant for you? What stands out? if I were to say what are, give me the best of the best, what’s the greatest hits? What would you say are some of your favorite teachers, and some of your favorite things that have made the biggest difference for you?

Going back to something we talked about, one of the first books I read in a spiritual vein was Dan Millman. I always go back to that book, the title alone tells the story, No Ordinary Moments. That becomes a perspective that takes a while to get used to, but it is this idea that as you go through life, there are no ordinary moments. I turned back to that book about once every ten years. I probably read it, three times. I’m due for a fourth, a book that had a real impact on me. As far as authors go, Thomas Moore has, and he was kind enough to write a blurb for the cover. I’ve been in contact with him over the years, but Thomas Moore has written a dozen books about the soul. His first big book was called Care of The Soul.

CMO Tom Rapsas | Spiritual Practices

No Ordinary Moments

He put out books after that, A Life At Work, The Soul’s Religion, The Soul Of Sex. He looks into this side of ourselves that a lot of us don’t recognize. We talked about the true self, and some people might call that the soul, what’s deep within us. The soul doesn’t want what the ego wants. It doesn’t want what society wants for us. It has its own agenda. I found it extremely enlightening reading these books about the soul from all these various perspectives that the more introduces us to the then opens up this world that a lot of us aren’t exposed to.

When I think of the soul, I always think of the spirit being. If you think of a house, the spirit is brightly lit attic. The spirit’s up there. Our hearts are maybe on the main floor, but the soul is something deep within us. The soul is the basement, and it’s a dimly lit basement, but that basement goes deep. It goes way back. I think the soul is something we’re all born with. Once we get inside and recognize our true selves, I think the soul holds the key to our purpose in life, our calling in life, and what direction we should head to.

I think what’s beautiful as a curator is that you’re able to look across all of these authors and teachers and people who have gone on these explorations, take much of what they have shared, and bring it all together in these patterns and all these ways that you can accumulate this knowledge into one narrative. I think it’s amazing. I know you mentioned Michael Singer before. What I love about him, I know he wrote Untethered Soul. He has The Untethered Soul At Work. When I listen to him, he boils it down in such an attainable way because some of these people talk very, and you’re like, “Do I understand what you’re saying?” He makes it very approachable. I love it. That’s fantastic.

I love Michael Singer. I communicated with him in the past as well. Singer’s got this great concept that I think is true. I wrote a story about it. I think the title is How To Shush the Critical Voice In Your Head, but he calls it the roommate. He says, “You have this bad roommate that follows you everywhere and is always talking at criticizing you or telling you what to do and you got to quiet the roommate.” I know another guy, Sam Harris refers to it. He says, “You walk into the house and you’ve let this maniac in with you who badges you everywhere you go.”

It’s true you’re smiling as we talk about this, because of the conversation about the inner critic, we get into that conversation so much in the lab about imposter syndrome and how these brilliant, beautiful, powerful, wonderful people you know, in your life got an inside dialogue going on that, “You’re not this. You’re not that. You’re not good enough. You need to be more.” We need to get rid of that roommate.

That ties back to meditation, which I avoided for long. Some meditation practice is the best way to quiet that voice then you find once you start a regular meditation practice, and I meditate once or twice a week now because I know when that voice is talking to me, when you’re used to meditating, you know how to quickly go into that space and quiet that voice and put it to rest. Usually, it’s not helping you.

I think part of this is learning to know what is true about you that voice is not true. That voice is a lie. These are why all these practices are perfect to get us into these places all these different teachers and authors that you’re speaking about, many of them point to a similar state of being, but they use different language. They use different ways of talking about it. The more you can look at the different languages of these different people, it makes sense to one person, another person makes sense to someone else, but they’re all pointing to very much the same thing.

I talked about it with the God concept. A lot of these concepts, you read enough books and you say, “I’ve heard this before. It’s being presented in a slightly different way.” What happens to us as a society is we are always going after the latest fix, “What’s the easy way out? What’s the latest book that might solve everything for me?” I think the answers are out there. You have to put the time in to find them because they are available to you like you said, different people, once you start reading, there’s a lot of belief out there in ideas that are the same. They’re presented in slightly different ways. Once you read an idea a few different times, presented in a few different ways, you start thinking, “They’re onto something here. Everybody’s reaching these same conclusions.”

The answers are out there. You just have to put the time into finding them because they are available to you. Share on X

You say the answers are out there, and many of the answers that are out there are pointing back to the answers that are in here internally. It’s a dance between external mastery and internal mastery for most of us.

Another great point that you read over and over is the answers are within us.

Rapid Fire Questions

It’s a powerful and magical journey. Are you game for a couple of Rapid-fire questions before we close out? The first question is, what would surprise people about you?

I have to check myself every few days that I don’t think we totally mastered these lessons completely, or I haven’t yet because about every third day I will catch myself, self-reflect, and say, “Why did I say that and why did I do that?” I don’t think I, by all means, have it totally solved. I’m an archivist. I can point to the answers yet I don’t always follow them myself. That takes time. As time goes on, you get closer.

Teachers are also the students. We’re always learning. What then brings you the greatest peace?

I’m finding peace more and more in different ways. Personally, I grew up near the beach there. There’s nothing more peaceful to me than sitting at the beach and hearing the waves crash along the shore. I can sit there for hours doing nothing but listening to the waves. My morning practice has done it, and it’s pretty simple these days. I get up, stretch, get the coffee going, and there’s nothing better in those first fifteen minutes before anyone else in the house is up than for me to sit with a cup of coffee and quiet contemplation. You don’t have to do much. I know Thomas Merton once said, “My prayer is my breath.” It’s basically saying breathing can be a form of prayer. That’s what I do each morning and that gets me set for the day ahead.

It sounds very peaceful to me. What is your definition of a life well lived?

As we talked about a little while ago, it’s achieving this level of work-life balance for most of our lives. As we talked about earlier, I’m departing the workforce, but during that time at work, “Have I achieved that balance? Have I been a good employee, good to the people around me, good to my clients, my customers? Have I also been able to balance that with a life well lived? Am I there for my family? Am I attentive? Am I taking care of their needs beyond house and shelter? Am I giving them what they need to progress and grow in life?”

That’s it for a lot of life, “Do I have that balance?” I think when I first started getting into spirituality, I knew that the work part of my life was out of balance. It took me a while, but you have to eventually get to that point where there is a balance between work and life. When you can do that, that’s a life well lived. In the future, I guess that could change as I depart the workforce, but I think that’s what it is right now.

CMO Tom Rapsas | Spiritual Practices

Spiritual Practices: You have to eventually get to that point where there is a balance between work and life. When you can do that, that’s a life well-lived.


What you’re also saying is being, and going back to the title of your book, Wake Up Call, it is being awake and aware. Whether it’s work-life balance or in this next phase of your life of balancing the priorities that bring you and others joy, then it will evolve. It’s about being aware of what’s going on.

It’s almost like in a nutshell, yes. If you want that to work, you have to be totally aware and tuned into your life. That goes back to being in, it’s constantly being in the present moment, not thinking about what happened in the past, not what you’re going to do in the future, but being present.

We did not go deep into this with our conversation, but I think for those reading, it’s also compassion for the journey like you mentioned, the teacher becomes the student over and over again. We are not meant to find mastery immediately. We’re meant to be on the journey to be better tomorrow than what we were today and that’s it. we can relax on the ride.

I think it was Oprah, “The journey is the path. It’s not the destination, it’s this path that runs the journey.” That’s what we have to make count.

We might as well enjoy it. How, other than the book, which I know is available on Amazon another place, but where else can people find Wake Up Call, find your writings, anything they want to know about you want to make sure they know where to find you?

They can find me on my website, The best place to find me to get a feel for the things I write about is to check out my weekly blog at Patheos that’s Wake Up Call at Patheos. If you do a quick search, you will find me.

I wanted to thank you for all that you do in the world, being a curator of wisdom and helping others on their own journey to finding more peace, more happiness, and more awareness. I appreciate the time that you’ve taken to be with me. I would love to give you any last words, parting comments, or wisdom you’d like to share with our readers.

I want to thank you for what you’re doing because it’s a wonderful thing. I’ve listened to some of your past shows and it’s amazing that you are bringing these ideas into a corporate space. Kudos to you. I was thinking about it one day about what I do because of this beach analogy, you occasionally see those guys on the beach with those metal detectors and they’re out there looking for coins, lost watches, or whatever. They come up empty a lot. I think about once a week I come up with something that I think is of value and I find that coin or that watch and I hold it up in the air for others to enjoy, I hope that people do, check out the blog, check out the story. If you like the blog, then I think you’ll love the book.

It is a beautiful book. Thank you for being a treasure hunter for all of us. I wish you continued joy on your own journey until we talk again.

Thank you. It was a pleasure.


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About Tom Rapsas

CMO Tom Rapsas | Spiritual PracticesTom Rapsas is a blogger who has been writing the “Wake Up Call” column at since 2012. It is today the most popular column at the site’s New Vision channel and over the years his stories have drawn over 5 million views. In January 2024, a book based on his top stories from the past 10 years, Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritually Curious, was released by Wildhouse Publishing. He has also self-published two books.

Tom has worked in the advertising industry as a copywriter and creative director for forty years, primarily in New York City. He currently lives on the Maryland Eastern Shore, in the good company of his wife and a small herd of cats. You can find him at and view his weekly column at


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