If I were to tell you that an Instagram influencer under 40 is a source of healing and wisdom for millions of people, you’d probably be skeptical. Instagram is the source of social comparison and makeup how-to videos. It’s not where people interested in meditation (like I am and you are) traditionally go to find wisdom.
Maybe some of that is true, but a big exception to this rule is Yung Pueblo (Diego Perez). Perez is a former community organizer and now famed writer who has published 3 books (with a fourth on the way) and has a following on Instagram exceeding two million. He healed himself through meditation after struggling with emotional turmoil, conflict, and addiction. Then he started sharing the insights he gleaned from the practice in short poem-like verses on Instagram.
At the time, this was almost unheard of on Instagram. That platform is filled with glossy and well-manicured photos of celebrities and curated video content meant to sell. Against this backdrop, though, you can almost see how someone bold enough to share only a white background and simple text might stand out.
And stand out they did. Yung Pueblo – writing for “young people” – got the attention of millions of followers and ultimately secured a book deal. How did he garner this attention? With insights. Pure and simple.
Insights? Maybe you’re reading this and you feel like it’s a let down but I assure you it’s not. I haven’t written much about insights on this blog because they are hard to describe. You can’t really meditate to get a particular insight. Instead, if you do vipassana (“insight”) meditation, you often just sit with very little structure and await the arrival of wisdom.
In many cases, these insights are so basic that you could easily mistake them as merely mundane or insignificant thoughts. But, when you slow down in the course of meditation, you realize that they are more than statements of the obvious. Instead, they are acknowledgments of fundamental truths that you may normally overlook in your busy daily life.
For instance, here’s this little gem from Perez’s first book Inward
you can love people and
simultaneously not allow
them to harm you.
Many of us logically know that this is true, but who doesn’t need a reminder about boundaries every now and then? I mean, how easy it is to get love confused with obligation or to not know how to balance self-compassion and compassion for others?
Or how about this understated little gem that is so easy to forget:
I am calm
Now that you’ve prepared a bit, try this one on for size:
self-love is doing the work
we need to be free
Again, these are hopefully obvious to most of us. But imagine you saw this on Instagram after scrolling for minutes to avoid thinking about some stressful situation at work. Then think how you would respond. In my imagination, I’d double tap and probably comment with something like a “100” emoji followed by a few flames.
Now imagine that you follow and have more of these statements showing up in your feed on a regular basis. Who couldn’t use reminders like these? Of course, we all can. Though meditation is a great way to see insights in our own lives, it never hurts to have some support from other wise people.
More recently, though, Yung Pueblo has shown he can offer even more than the modern-day equivalent of The Tao Te Ching. In Lighter, Yung Pueblo offers a work in full prose that is part memoir and part self-help. He shares his story as a first generation American after his parents emigrated from Ecuador. He details his struggle with addiction and how meditation helped him heal. And he even offers insights about how mindfulness can help us achieve positive social change and healing across the world.
This book was stylistically different than the others but it offered many of the same insights you’ll see in Yung Pueblo’s other works. In general, Yung Pueblo’s work doesn’t focus on meditation practice, but it gives you a clear idea about why you might want to meditate. He’s not a meditation teacher per se and doesn’t describe himself that way, but I wouldn’t call it a stretch to call him a teacher of insights.
This is not to say that I think you could read Yung Pueblo as a substitute for meditation practice. But his gentle reminders to let go of what you don’t need and pursue what really matters can sure help. Whether you meditate or not, Yung Pueblo offers a wisdom that is well beyond his years. For insights, healing, and calm clarity, find him on Instagram or check out his books:
- Clarity & Connection
- The Way Forward (to be released October 10, 2023).
Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.
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