An Interview with John Gray, PhD
By Nancy Eichhorn, PhD
I first ‘met’ John Gray in the mid-1990s on the pages of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex, his New York Times #1 Best-Selling Relationship book. When I heard he was a keynote speaker at the USABP Fall 2016 conference on Sexuality, Spirituality and the Body, I flashed back to a scene with my first husband:
It was 1995. We were idling just outside of Loon Mountain in Northern New Hampshire, waiting to see a Crosby, Stills, and Nash (a 1960s folk rock group). Stuck in a snarl of traffic, we decided to listen to a cassette tape our counselor had recommended: Mars and Venus in the Bedroom: A Guide to Lasting Romance and Passion. Perhaps the volume was a bit loud but it was difficult to hear John talk above the chaos of cars and people eager to park for the concert. We had the windows down and the sunroof open. It was a humid summer New England day with thunderstorms predicted late afternoon; the pressure felt heavy. I was immersed; this man spoke a language that resonated with me. All the while I noted skepticism on my former husband’s face. He was not engaged, at all. A biker pulled up beside us decked in black Harley leathers with his lady laid back against the rear bar. She took a long drag off her cigarette with a nonchalant attitude of “I’m cool and don’t care” reflected in her posture and facial expression. Then the tape, well John’s words were loud and explicit and while I can’t remember the exact wording or sounds I can easily recall the embarrassment my husband felt. He ejected that tape almost instantaneously as the bikers transitioned from a state of cool deflection to rapt attention to finger pointing laughter. He collapsed in the seat as low as humanly possible.
I’ve held onto those cassette tapes and books ever since.
When I arranged to interview John, I thought I knew all about him, based of course on reading two books he wrote over 20 years ago. I had no idea who he was, what he has since accomplished, and where his practice was focused today. Results from my preliminary research were astounding. John has published over 20 books including a slew of Mars and Venus topics such as: Mars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of A loved One; Mars and Venus Together Forever: Relationship Skills for Lasting Love; Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress; Mars and Venus on a Date: A Guide to Navigating the 5 Stages of Dating To create a Loving and Lasting Relationship; and Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance-The Key to Life, Love and Energy. He and his daughter, Lauren, have a website: Mars Venus, Down to earth advice on life and love, where he provides the male perspective and she the female. And there’s also a slew of other resources available including his books on ADHA and more.
John has taught gender differences and ways of understanding communication styles for over 40 years now, and he continues to evolve. I learned that he realized healthy human relationships depend on more than strong connections, understanding our differences and good communication skills—they are also influenced by our physical health: “If you aren’t healthy in your mind and body, it’s hard to be healthy outside your mind and body. So if you feel sick, tired, exhausted, stressed and generally unhappy, this will cause your relationships to feel the same way” (www.marsvenus.com).
Body to Mind
His enlightenment began as a child: practicing yoga from age 3 on; excelling in his karate practice at age 12 that guided him into a deeper understanding of discipline, meditation, and ‘the best defense’—avoiding conflicts in the first place. While friends attended Woodstock, John immersed himself in Transcendental Meditation (TM). He spent nine years with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, becoming his personal assistant and leading training workshops (John taught over 15,000 TM teachers in over 300 TM centers worldwide). At first he meditated three to four hours a day then increased to six, eight hours. He ate simply, twice a day, from a stainless steel cup, slept on the floor, and started the day with a cold bath. Had his brother not needed assistance in 1978 with bipolar disorder, John may still be meditating. He moved to Los Angeles, California intent on finding a cure for bipolar disorder. Life’s experiences such as love, marriage, divorce, remarriage, child rearing and so forth taught him what he needed to know, guided him to write his books and extend his practice, as well as formal academic education including his doctorate from Columbia Pacific University.
John cites the time he spent with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and in meditation as a large part of his awareness. “I developed a quiet mind, the spaciousness to observe emotional reactions. You have to witness your emotions, embrace them, and create space for them to exist. Anger, sadness, disappointment, fear, concern, embarrassment, regret, you have to embrace your inhibited desires and not be concern if they are not fulfilled. We all want to be loved, to be of service, to support others and be supported. When desire is free from negative emotion, we can feel the pure heart’s desire and the positive emotions including: gratitude, empathy, wisdom, and appreciation. Contained within these positive desires are the seeds of knowledge that we can have what we want. There is an intuitive pathway back to the true self.” John explained, then added that through the spaciousness created in meditation, the intimacy of our sexuality, and the peak state of love, we can sustain happiness, which opens our heart. “By spending hours in mediation, you can hide from the world,” he said, “but your truth will show up in relationships.”
You can read the complete interview here.
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