El Ten Eleven on meditation and mindfulness - The Mind Map
By Rebecca Durband

El Ten Eleven on meditation and mindfulness

“Try to see the big picture and return to gratitude.”

Published 06/07/2018

With its three syllables and clinical sounding name, mindfulness might sound like it it’s not for you. But broken down, it simply means being in the here and now and taking a breather from your chatty brain. Californian duo El Ten Eleven formed in 2004 in Los Angles, creating frenetic Beethoven via Simple Minds inspired post rock. We caught up with Kristian from the band to discuss bereavement, mindfulness and a whole range of sporting pursuits.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

I’ve gone down an Isaac Asimov hole that I may not come out of for a while! I think I’m on his fifth book in the Foundation series. It’s brilliant. I’m currently writing my second novel, which is science fiction based, so there is a lot of inspiration there.
Music – Moses Sumney, Joan Of Arc, Sego, Lo Moon. TV – I just finished Wild Wild Country, which was fascinating.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

Probably the death of my mother. At the time my solution was to immerse myself in my work and art and ignore the pain.  Then at somewhat regular intervals dive into the pain and soak in it. This seesaw technique probably wasn’t the best choice, but it’s what I did at the time. Now that meditation and mindfulness is a part of my life I think I would have dealt with such an experience differently.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

That the anxiety I lived with my entire life was something that could be attended to and attenuated. CBT, meditation and, frankly, wisdom that comes with getting older, were all massively helpful.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

It would probably involve some sort of physical activity. Skiing, rock climbing, playing a show, surfing, trap shooting… I find that these things force anxiety out of my body almost completely. There would also be time spent with loved ones. That could be my family, friends or band/crew. Ending the day seeing Bill Burr in concert and laughing my ass off would be fantastic.  Laughter really does seem to cure all!

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Everything really. Looking around the world at how most people live makes me feel very privileged for what I have.  But it all starts with family. I’m one of the lucky ones who had a relatively painless childhood and was encouraged to follow my passion (playing bass). And people who know not to end their sentences with a preposition! Well done!

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

No anxiety today please, thank you!

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I loosely follow the Nourishing Traditions way of eating. Lots of fat (from animals that were raised ethically and were eating what they would in nature, not soy or some other man made garbage),  foods with natural probiotics such as raw milk, butter and cheese, sauerkraut (we make our own at home, it’s surprisingly easy), very little sugar, really no refined sugar at all.  Basically I avoid man made “food” such as vegetable oil (coconut oil excepted!), refined sugar and salt, margarine, anything “low fat” or pasteurized, anything with gluten (celiac disease runs in my family), processed meat, fast food, etc.  I’ve become convinced that gut health leads to mental health.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

I have a routine.  A few days a week I go to a local rock climbing gym and either climb or do yoga. I also take my dog to a park where I let her off the leash and have a nice walk for twenty minutes to an hour depending on how much free time is available to me that day.  When on tour I have an 80 minute aerobic workout onstage several nights a week!

Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground every day and loving it – can you share a similar memory?

Yep!  We would also ride our bikes around town looking for adventure. I simply needed to be home by sunset. Sadly kids don’t get to do that anymore.

What three songs lift your spirits?

The Replacements – I Will Dare
Fedde La Grand – Put Your Hands Up For Detroit
Sego – The Fringe

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

To try to see the big picture and return to gratitude.  Not easy, I know. I struggle with it myself. And I always recommend checking out meditation and mindfulness. A good place to start is the Headspace app for your phone.  It’s free at first and is geared towards people who don’t know anything about meditation but are curious. And the sessions are just five minutes long.  Anyone can come up with five minutes to give it a try. I’m not associated with them at all by the way!