December 31, 2019
Have you noticed that the New Year has a magical way of putting you into a state of mild introspection? On top of setting a New Year's resolution, you may find yourself evaluating your life, wondering if you're really happy where you're currently at in it, if you could maybe be doing more with your life, or just generally evaluating your purpose. Maybe you're seeking a little bit more fulfillment.
Well, the reason that I wanted to write this article is because I'm often asked what kind of practices I personally engage in to achieve that state of happiness, that state of fulfillment.
Sure, I talk a lot about biohacks, fitness tools, dietary tactics, supplements, medications, etc, but I haven't really taken much of a deep dive into how I build my spiritual muscles in the same way that I might build my physical muscles or grow new neurons in my brain.
The fact is—especially if you're a fitness enthusiast and you've spent any amount of time in a gym—this pursuit of lower body fat percentages, finding the perfect diet, climbing your own personal Mount Everest of a triathlon, Spartan race, or CrossFit competition can leave you feeling extremely empty inside.
As I age and observe great thinkers and philosophers and continually seek wisdom, I've become increasingly convinced that caring for one's spirit is as important—no, actually more important, than caring for one's body and brain. After your muscles have atrophied, your skin has sagged, your brain has degraded and accumulated with plaque, your blood vessels have become clogged, and your nerves have become weakened—long after your relentless pursuit of fitness or longevity or anti-aging has become a vein effort—your spirit can be just as strong and as bright as ever. Yet sadly, it seems that the spirit is the most oft-ignored component of our human vessels, and that's because of a near-complete neglect of disciplining ourselves spiritually.
When I say disciplining spiritually, I'm talking about things like meditation, gratitude, prayer, fasting, study, fellowship, celebration, charity, and more. Most of us know these things are important, but we somehow shove them to the side because let's face it, life gets busy and it just seems far more practical and immediately useful to go hit the gym rather than sit cross-legged on the floor, meditating, spend an extra 10 minutes in bed journaling, or prioritizing a family dinner.
Fact is, I spent about 20 years of my life up until I was around 35 completely neglecting my spirit—the part inside so many of us that is a shriveled, shrunken, and neglected. In the same way that there are physical disciplines like lifting weights, exercising, a sauna or a cold practice, there are spiritual exercises. I've come to discover many of these over the past few years, and in today's article, I'm going to share them with you.
What I've Used To Educate Myself On The Spiritual Disciplines
Think of something you're attached to, whether it's a drug, medication, person, or activity—something or someone that if you had to go without it, you would feel as though it would absolutely crush you. Now say to that object or person, “I really do not need you to be happy. I'm only diluting myself in the belief that without you, I will not be happy, but I really don't need you for my happiness. I can be happy without you. You are not my happiness. You are not my joy.”
If your attachment is a person, he or she is not going to be very happy to hear you say this, but go ahead anyway. You can also say it in the secrecy of your heart if you're more comfortable with that.
This exercise is something I recently learned from a book called Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. It forces you to make contact with the truth, to smash through a fantasy. Happiness is a state of non-illusion, and dropping the illusion is the first step in getting there. Considering the things in your life you may be attached to for your happiness that are actually an illusion—that really you don't need for your happiness—is a powerful way to begin the path to true happiness. We all carry lots of things like these in our lives, including our fitness, our food, our supplements and our biohacks, right?
Anthony phrases it like this:
“Do this little exercise for a few minutes: Think of something or someone you are attached to; in other words, something or someone without which or without whom you think you are not going to be happy. It could be your job, your career, your profession, your friend, your money, whatever. And say to this object or person, “I really do not need you to be happy. I’m only deluding myself in the belief that without you I will not be happy. But I really don’t need you for my happiness; I can be happy without you. You are not my happiness, you are not my joy.” If your attachment is a person, he or she is not going to be very happy to hear you say this, but go ahead anyway. You can say it in the secrecy of your heart. In any case, you’ll be making contact with the truth; you’ll be smashing through a fantasy. Happiness is a state of non-illusion, of dropping the illusion.”
Awareness is just one of the many books I've read recently that have been guiding me in the spiritual disciplines. Anthony De Mello, who wrote Awareness, comes from a Jesuit background, and there are a lot of really good Jesuit books on the spiritual disciplines. One of the best is a very popular book called The Jesuit Guide To Almost Everything by James Martin. Filled with funny stories and anecdotes from the heroic and inspiring lives of Jesuit saints, priests, and brothers, The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything is appealing to fans of all faiths.
Another one that I have personally found to be really helpful is Celebration Of Discipline, The Path To Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster. Foster divides the disciplines into three movements of the Spirit and shows how each of these areas contributes to a balanced spiritual life. The inward disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study offer avenues of personal examination and change. The outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service help prepare us to make the world a better place. The corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration bring us nearer to one another and to God.
Another one that I think is really good is called Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney, which teaches how each spiritual discipline will help you grow in character and maturity and offers practical suggestions for cultivating them.
Next, I want to walk you through how I've personally been incorporating what I've been gleaning from these spiritual disciplines guides into my own life.
Morning Spiritual Practices
Before I even get out of bed and before my whole family comes together for our daily gratitude practice, I always have something spiritually uplifting on my bedside that I begin my day with.
I literally roll over, pull off my eye mask, turn off my little sleep stream noise that I listen to while I'm asleep, and I lie there in bed and read.
So what am I reading? In the past year, it's been all of the books I just mentioned on the spiritual disciplines, but right now I'm reading the Proverbs from the Bible. I'll only read for about five to ten minutes (about one, sometimes two, chapters) per day. I don't just read though. I do as many of the great leaders of religions would do, I read then follow that with meditation and prayer. This is something I learned from Richard Foster's book, Celebration Of Discipline. For example, after reading I simply close my eyes, sit up (usually in a cross-legged or kneeling position) so I'm sending a message to my body that something new is going on aside from just sleep, then I meditate upon what I've just read for five minute. Sometimes I'll repeat a mantra like ‘generosity' to myself over and over again. Other times, there will be something I want to memorize, so I'll simply meditate upon that verse for five minutes.
Something I'm really digging right now that I learned from the book Mind To Matter is Dawson Church's EcoMeditation. Even though I start off each morning with a quick meditation, I will also try to find time in my day to do this 21-minute EcoMeditation. I've been traveling a ton lately and have adopted this meditation as my nightly evening routine. I found it to be quite good for sleep but also found it to be quite energizing for the day when done in the morning. Another very good series of meditations are from Joe Dispenza's book, Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon, which you can check out here.
There are also a couple of tools I regularly use to enhance meditation that I've found to really help out with taking my practice to the next level.
- Essential Oils. I dab a little bit of Third Eye Essential Oil on my third eye area, or the area right between my eyes. It supposedly increases the activity of the pineal gland just a little bit. I've found that it enhances my ability to be able to enter a deep meditative state. It's made by a Dr. Nick Berry of Essential Oil Wizardry. You can listen to my podcast with him here: Psychoactive Sleep Edibles, Essential Oil Wizardry, Cosmic Orgasms & More With Dr. Nick Berry.
- Vielight. Another thing that I found to really be able to enhance meditation is a Vielight. It's an infrared device that produces a gamma wave, which is very similar to what you get if you were in this deep state of meditation. I've found that it vastly improves the effects of meditation. It was originally developed for Alzheimer's and dementia, but it's also very effective for cognition. It's kind of like a smart drug that you wear on your head. Listen to my podcast “How To Use Low Level Light Therapy and Intranasal Light Therapy For Athletic Performance, Cognitive Enhancement & More.” to learn more about it.
- Psilocybin. The last thing I do to enhance meditation, on about a monthly basis, is take a microdose of psilocybin. I tried this after reading Steven Kotler's book, Stealing Fire, about how plant medicine and certain groups' celebratory worship, dance songs, etc. can be enhanced via the use of psilocybin. I'll also occasionally do this before I go to church, and I find that it makes my worship practice far more intense. Again, I'm not doing a trip dose or anything like that—I'm not seeing a unicorn rainbow coming out the head of the preacher. This small microdose of psilocybin just seems to enhance the merging of the left and right hemispheres of my brain, allowing me to more easily enter into that spiritual place.
This might seem out of the ordinary for a good Christian boy from North Idaho raised with a Judeo Christian background, but I truly believe that everything on God's good earth from psilocybin or hemp that grows from the earth or things created by people such as fermented beverages and synthetic LSD or MDMA, allow us to kind of hack the spiritual disciplines in the same way that we might hack the physical disciplines with blood flow restriction bands or an oxygen training mask for example.
After I have finished those five minutes or so of meditation (and I'm not using a timer or anything, this is just approximate), I then go into prayer.
There's just something incredibly settling about being able to talk to a higher power. I realize there are many people who may or may not believe in a higher power, but I find a great deal of hope and stability and a great feeling of foundation in my life when I know that in the spiritual realm, there is a great power that is in charge of my life that I can actually speak to on a daily basis. I was raised Christian, so for me, that's the Judeo Christian God. This morning it was about generosity and I was thanking God for his generosity to me, and at the same time praying that I would be able to offer that same generosity to others. Okay. So that was my prayer this morning.
Next, I get out of bed, go downstairs, and put on some hot water for a little cacao tea or some Kion Coffee. I've been drinking this stuff called MiCacao lately, which is a cacao shell tea that my friend Tucker Max turned me on to. It gives you this incredible hit of dopamine and theobromine and is a really, really cool way to start your day. It's especially good combined with sea salt, cinnamon, and stevia.
As the water for the coffee or tea or cacao is boiling and steeping, I spend about 10 to 15 minutes doing stretching and deep tissue work—meaning making love to a foam roller or doing a series of yoga stretches.
There's this really cool series of stretches I do called The Five Tibetan Rites, from the book The Five Tibetans: Five Dynamic Exercises for Health, Energy, and Personal Power, by Christopher Kilham, which are very similar to exercises you might see in Tai Chi. My friend, Stephen Cabral, who's been on my podcast before, did a podcast on them recently. If you don't know any stretches to do in the morning, these work really well. Just use a foam roller for a little while, then do these five exercises. Keep in mind, I'm always listening to something spiritual or uplifting during my morning stretching routine.
For this, there are a couple that I really like, including Our Daily Bread, The Solid Joys, Daily Devotional, and then the last one is just a guy named Gabriel Fernandes who prays over you (I convert his YouTube videos into audio using a YouTube to Mp3 website and then listen to them). I've found benefits from all of these, I'm giving you a few options so you can find one that speaks to you most. If you have little spots throughout the day where you're, say, out for a lunchtime stroll or commuting to work, you can listen to all of these to make good use of this time and build your spiritual muscles.
Once I've finished that and after I head down into my office, drink my coffee, read research articles, get ready for the day, and my family is awake, I gather them together to do our daily gratitude practice.
I've taught my boys to both get up in the morning and do the same study, meditation, and prayer practice that I do. The way I taught them to do this was pretty simple. I'd first crawl out of my bed, go into their bedroom, and do exactly what I just described to you that I do in my bed (read, meditate, pray). I would close my eyes and say something like, “Boys, right now dad's meditating on generosity,” then take a deep breath in through the nose, out through the mouth, and just walk them through it, and eventually they just started doing it on their own. My wife has her own practice in the morning, so after we've all completed our morning study, meditation, and prayer, we then all come together for our gratitude journaling.
This isn't some hour-long process or anything, but is rather a simple 10-minute gathering as a family to kind of jumpstart the day, and we use what's called a Christian Gratitude Journal for this.
We start by going around the room and saying one truth, write it down in our journals, and we also share it with the rest of the family. After our one truth that we discovered from that day's reading, we do the same with one thing we're grateful for that day, and then one person who we can pray for, help, or serve. If you do this 365 days a year, then that's thousands and thousands and thousands of people you're going out of your way to send positive energy towards or going out and helping, so it really adds up and is a really cool way to help a lot of people throughout the course of your life. Then, if we have time I'll take out my guitar or my ukulele, and we'll end with a song—usually a hymn, a psalm, or some positive uplifting beat to get the day going. Don't underestimate the positive energy that you get from singing together as a family or singing as a group. It's why I think singing at church is so powerful. An enormous chorus of voices is incredible, not only for your spiritual life, but for your nervous system. We know that the vagus nerve gets toned through chanting, singing, humming, etc. We see group chanting and group singing as a big part of a lot of ancient tribes, we just don't do it that much, at least not in America.
Afternoon Spiritual Practices
Before I jump into work for the day, at some point during the morning, I then like to find a half-hour where I can just break away, which for me, usually involves a long walk in the morning sunshine or my sauna/cold pool practice.
I use a Clearlight Sanctuary infrared sauna to do about 20-30 minutes of flow yoga and deep breathwork.
Sauna alone is wonderful for detoxification, the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, longevity, and more, but you can even upgrade your sauna experience in the same way you can upgrade your meditation experience. So here are a few things that I recommend for the sauna:
- Hot Beverage. I like a cup of coffee or some green tea because the caffeine and theanine can enhance the burning of fatty acids if you're doing your sauna practice in a fasted state. Or, something I've recently gotten into is black pepper tea which will really help you get a sweat on. Just make hot water and put a few grounds of black pepper in there, and sometimes I'll add some turmeric as well.
- Essential Oils. The other thing that I've been doing is using a blend of essential oils from Essential Oil Wizardry called Respire, which was developed for lung function and cardiovascular performance. I like to sprinkle that all over the sauna before I go in, and it just feels like I'm getting these big, refreshing breaths of air inside my sauna. I've also been sprinkling a little bit of this inside my hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber when I get the chance to go in there.
- Topicals. Another thing I've found to be amazing is this topical, almost like a rub-0n Viagra, that you rub all over your body before you get into the sauna to open up your pores and make you sweat buckets. It's called Prototype, and it's made by the guys at ATP Science—you may have heard my interview with them. Not only is it black pepper that you're rubbing on your body, but also rosemary, rosehip fruit oil, beeswax, aloe leaf juice, peppermint, and more—basically a bunch of things that bring blood flow to the surface of your body.
- Cold Plunge. I always finish with a jump into either the cold pool back behind my house (learn how to make your own here) or my Morozko, which is basically a smaller cold pool, but it'll stay freezing cold in the summer.
Whenever I get into the cold pool after the sauna, I have a quick prayer that I say, and I say this every time I get in. I've found it to be really helpful because just about everything that I want to manifest is expressed through it, and I just find it to be a very settling prayer, so please feel free to use it yourself:
Our Father in heaven,
I surrender all to you.
Please turn me into the father and into the husband,
Who you would have for me to be,
Into a man who will fulfill your great commission,
And remove from me all judgment of others.
Grant me your heavenly wisdom.
Remove from me my worldly temptations.
Teach me how to listen to your still, small voice in the silence,
And fill me with your peace, your love, and your joy.
Now, on to breathwork. I work a ton… 10 to 12 hours, sometimes 15 hours a day, and I love my job, but it can get stressful at times so I always take brief Pomodoro pauses throughout the day for movement, stretching and breathwork.
During this work time, I'm podcasting, reading, writing, making videos and content for Kion, working on supplement formulations, advising and investing in different health and fitness companies, speaking at conferences, you get the idea. Throughout all of this, the one thing I've found to be very useful to control stress is breathwork, and I've basically got three methods that I really like and that I incorporate throughout my day.
- Box Breathing. This is super simple. Just breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold for four seconds, then repeat for as many times as you'd like or until you feel more relaxed.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing. Also fairly simple. Breathe in through your left nostril using a finger to pinch your right nostril closed. Next, pinch your left nostril and breathe out through the right nostril. Then in through the right nostril, and out through the left nostril, and repeat. This is very good for activating your parasympathetic nervous system.
- Four Eight Breathing. I especially like this one to just lull myself to sleep at night. Four-count in, eight-count out, four-count in, eight-count out, and repeat. Sometimes I won't even remember falling asleep when I do this one, but it's also really good in traffic or if you're sitting on a runway and your airplane's waiting to taxi for a half-hour. I discuss this form of breathwork in more detail in my podcast with Dr. Andrew Weil.
I'm also going through a really good breathwork course with my kids right now. It's The 21-day Soma breathwork course taught by a previous podcast guest of mine called the Renegade Pharmacist, and it teaches everything from holotropic breathwork to Wim Hof style fire-breathing to some of the breathwork I just described. If you want to become a real breathwork Ninja, that course is awesome. You can learn more here, and use code BEN to save 20% if you're interested in trying it out.
Evening Spiritual Practices
Finally, at the end of the day, we gather for a family dinner, and I believe this is the most important part of the day for me and my family.
We see near-120-year-old, cigarette-smoking, gin-chugging grandmas and people from some of the Blue Zones who are healthy despite their nutrition and lifestyle because they all have one thing in common: a robust social life (a huge player in overall happiness purpose, fulfillment, and even longevity).
This is why we really prioritize family dinners at our house. We all gather at the end of the day for these wonderful family dinners, but it's not all about just sitting there and eating together. There are a few key components that I found to be especially precious parts of our family dinners, which I consider to be a big part of the spiritual disciplines.
First, we always start off dinner with some kind of meditation or activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and an expression of gratitude. One I recently learned that I really like is from a prayer that one of the gentlemen gave at a retreat I was at. Everyone closes their eyes, breathes in, and then says, “I'm aware of my body.” And then you breathe out and say “I smile at my body.” Then you breathe in and say, “I'm aware of my food,” and breathe out and say, “I smile at my food.” Finally, you breathe in and say, “I'm aware of my company,” then breathe out and say “I smile at my company”. So I really like that one. My kids do too, and we always say a blessing over the food after.
Another pre-meal practice that we sometimes do is three centering breaths right before we say a prayer of gratitude and bless the food—in through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Then we'll bless the food, say our gratefulness to God for the food, then open our eyes and eat.
Occasionally we will also go through our gratitude journals and share those at the end of the day if we haven't had a chance to share them earlier in the day. But typically it's one of the aforementioned two prayers.
Dinner at the Greenfield house is just an amazing, fun time. There's no TV, no phones—instead, we have a bunch of different games that we play. The favorite in our family is Table Topics, a game where you draw a card, and the card will have printed on it something like, “Which superhero do you wish was here having dinner with us and why?” Or, “If you could go back and change one thing about today, what would you change?” Another one is a comic website called The Oatmeal, and we love the games that they make. They're these hilarious card games and we're just all roaring with laughter as we play these things. One is called Unstable Unicorns, one is called Bears Versus Babies, and one is called Exploding Kittens. Then there are three others that we really like. One is called Gubs, a game of wit and luck and that's kind of like a card game similar to the others I just mentioned. The other two are a little bit more educational and award-based. Because our kids are homeschooled/unschooled right now we sometimes pull out the educational games. Two that we really like that are like dinner-friendly versions of Scrabble called Quiddler and Boggle. Having games like these out at dinnertime just makes it so much easier to engage in conversation and have fun and not even think about the TV or grabbing your phone.
After dinner is done, the kitchen is all cleaned up, and I've finished any lingering work that I have to do, we all come together and finish our day with family bedtime.
The number one thing that we do for our family bedtime routine is some sort of music. I'll grab my ukulele, guitar, or sometimes it's just acapella, and we'll always play/sing a song together. I like the app Ultimate Guitar Tabs, which allows me to just pull up any song my kids want me to play and have the tablature right there. We then always end the night with a prayer, something simple like praying for a refreshing night of sleep, that God will give us sweet dreams, and thanking God for all the blessings that we had during that day.
We also really have been enjoying the practice of eye gazing lately, which is really amazing. All you do is you look into each other's eyes for anywhere from one to four minutes. If I'm doing it with my son Terran, like I was a few nights ago, for example, I was just running my hands through his hair and he's kind of like rubbing his fingers against my face, we're touching each other, looking deep into each other's eyes. There's no rule that you need to talk, but sometimes we will talk, and It's always a no-judgment zone. We can say anything we want to each other—anything from “I love you so much” to, “You're getting so big” to “Dad, I didn't really like it today when you were yelling at me to go outside and do push-ups.” It's really unfortunate how little we do that with other human beings these days. The eyes are the window to the soul, so it's really important to be able to make eye contact with one another, and the easiest way to start doing it is simply getting that practice with your own family. I had my employees and their loved ones do this at Kion's Christmas party a few weeks ago, and I'm fairly certain most of them enjoyed it. It definitely can take some getting used to, but your family would be the least awkward people to do this with.
People tend to dwell upon, and dream about, whatever they have dwelt upon prior to sleep. This is why it's important to me that I do that last little burst of work before I've started into that evening routine and reconnect with my family versus getting all that out of the way and then going down and working and then coming back to bed. Another thing that's important is that you don't have a lot of fitness, business, or productivity books at your bedside. Instead, focus on more uplifting literature or something that I really like is the Benjamin Franklin journaling approach of self-reflection. It reflects the type of questions that Benjamin Franklin would ask himself before he went to bed at night. It contains questions like the following:
What good have I done this day?
What could I have done better on this day?
What mistakes did I make?
What triumphs did I have?
What failures did I have?
It forces you to analyze your day allowing you to make your following day that much better, repeating the same successes or avoiding similar failures. Or it can just be a moment of quiet reflection or journaling, reflecting on what good you have done that day, or what things you could have done better that day, or some other form of self-reflection. There are many different ways to do it.
My wife and I have been married for 15 years, and it was only very recently that we really understood true, Tantric, spiritual lovemaking, and I think it's that way for a lot of couples raised in traditional Western society. But sex can, and should be—rather than some sort of strip club experience in your bedroom—a deeply meaningful and spiritual experience.
My wife and I have two chairs called Back Jack chairs, and we put them in the bed, sit legs intertwined, facing one another, and just chat for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes before we go into lovemaking or before we fall asleep. It's an incredible way to connect at the end of the day with your lover, and in many cases, it just leads to the next natural step, lovemaking, but in a more spiritual connected sort of way versus what I consider to just be mutual masturbation.
We also use candles, incense, red lights—it's just an amazing spiritual discipline to be able to connect with your partner this way just as much as you're physically or mentally connected to them in a similar manner. One of the ways that we really began to tap into the ability to be able to do this is through couple's plant medicine therapy. Rather than going off and journeying on our own with something like ayahuasca, ketamine, or MDMA, we instead do couples therapy where we're experiencing these plant medicines together. I would say of all the most transformative things that we've done for our relationship, couples plant medicine therapy has been the most transformative. Jessa and I both have a very deep connection to God, a very solid prayer practice, and a very deep meditative practice. If you're going into plant medicine equipped spiritually, you'll get far better results.
I believe way back in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve, prior to the fall of man and sin, I think their sex was probably the most amazing thing that a human being could ever experience. And I think sex has been bastardized with everything from pornography to strange fetishes to all the ways that that sex has kind of like been decoupled from a deep, spiritual union. We might have far more societal stability and more happiness with couples, less divorce, and less sexual dissatisfaction if sex was really considered a more spiritual experience rather than the Baboonesque, pornographic sex that is becoming more prevalent in our society. If we were to begin to focus on the former more, couples would be far happier with each other sexually and there'd less of a desire to go off and taste every last corner of the sex world. That's really the difference between animals that have sex and humans that have sex. I believe deep human spiritual sex really is what differentiates us from the animal kingdom, and it's definitely something to consider when it comes to your sex life and your relationship with your significant other. Another good book to delve into this concept is Finding God In Sex by David Deida
More On Plant Medicine
There are two other disciplines that I've found to be very effective when it comes to plant medicine. One would be psilocybin combined with holotropic breathwork, and the other intranasal ketamine compounded with oxytocin.
Holotropic breathwork was developed by a guy named Stanislav Grof as a way to tap into all the effects that LSD gives you without LSD—the merging of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, creative and analytical thought combined, and a big release of DMT and Nitric oxide.
A lot of cool things happen during holotropic breathwork. The 21-day Soma breathwork routine I mentioned earlier will teach you the version of holotropic breathwork that I do 1-2 times a month lying flat on my back in my sauna. It's an incredibly spiritual experience. Typically, I'll do it very early on a Sunday morning prior to church. For this, I actually take a little bit more than a microdose of psilocybin beforehand, and it's been a real game-changer for me as far as being able to dissolve my ego and write down a lot of thoughts I have about family, spirituality, and even business.
Intranasal ketamine compounded with oxytocin is something I'll do about once every two weeks. I do this to increase things like trust, feelings of love, even the sensation of human touch. I'll blast my body on either side with really good, deep healing music like Wholetones by Michael Tyrrell or some other deep spiritual uplifting music then take the ketamine and the oxytocin intranasally. (Sometimes I'll combine that with a little bit of THC, which I think kind of just helps drive me into a little bit more of a deep meditative state) Then I'll get a massage on my pulsed electromagnetic field table, which opens and closes cell membranes and seems to blast any plant medicine to the absolute next level. So kind of similar to how a gamma Vielight lamp worn on the head will enhance a meditation, doing any meditation or plant medicine in conjunction with pulsed electromagnetic field therapy is also absolutely amazing. It's very similar to what you would get if you were grounding, but concentrated in very high doses, and it almost shakes your whole body. It's amazing.
This, for me, is a big spiritual escape. I'm an extremely hard-charging, high-achieving guy, and the way my brain is wired, I just constantly dwell on business, work, and achievement. This massage is one of the few times every couple of weeks (along with the holotropic breathwork session, sex, and working out) when I get to check out of being in that state.
My Thoughts On Vision Quests
I am of the belief that anyone who plans to embark upon something like an Ayahuasca retreat, use plant medicine, or go to Burning Man—or any of those things that our culture seems absolutely enchanted with these days—should first go about things in a more stoic way.
Meaning rather than the Epicurean approach of ingesting a bunch of drugs and going off and losing yourself, you should instead go off into the wilderness almost like Jesus Christ did. Go off into the wilderness or the forest, or even take a staycation for anywhere from two to five days and just focus on silence, study, meditation, and fasting.
The personal breakthroughs, integration, and the awareness that you develop during those few days, I guarantee will be as profound, if not more profound, than the somewhat less disciplined approach of just popping a pill. I think that should be a rite of passage not only for our youth, but I think it should be a rite of passage for any adult who wants to delve into plant medicine. I think that the ultimate scenario for a human is to do both—to have periods of time where you have fasting, meditation, silence, solitude, etc. Once you've grasped this, you then move on to the more hedonistic approach where you're actually going off and doing something like a high dose MDMA therapy, an Ayahuasca retreat, or something in which you might have different breakthroughs than you might if you were fasting, meditating, or being in silence and solitude for a while.
The way that I set this up is I have a once a year practice of just going off completely by myself—no kids, no wife, nothing. Usually, I bring a collection of books, and I just have some solid alone time to read, journal, and fast. I'll bring some water, minerals, electrolytes, multivitamins, etc, but not much more than that because you want to stay relatively low-calorie as possible so that your mind becomes even more focused because food can be a distraction from the spiritual disciplines in some cases.
By the way, we have a book at Kion called Fasting Decoded. It's a free fasting guide that goes into all the supplements that can help you through a fast, so I definitely recommend checking that out before beginning any fasting practice.
So sit down with your shiny new 2020 calendar and find that two to five-day slot at some point the new year where you can tuck all these books that I've mentioned into a backpack and just spend days and days reading, journaling, fasting, and meditating. You can learn more about vision quests on my podcast, “How To Go On A Vision Quest & Embark Upon A Rite Of Passage.”
I'm in no way claiming to be an expert in the spiritual disciplines. I'm probably 10 times stronger physically than I am spiritually, but there's no use being strong and fit if your soul and your spirit are shrunken and shriveled up inside you. As the Bible says, “What good does it do a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”
There are areas in my life that need a lot of improvement like local volunteer, charity, and community work. In his Spiritual Disciplines book, Donald Whitney talks about how charity doesn't have to be something that you hate and feels like a chore. If you don't want to serve unhealthy meals in a soup kitchen, then don't do it. I love music—making music, singing—so a real focus for me in 2020 is that I'm going to be going out into my community and sharing music with people who would have joy brought to their hearts by this sort of thing or who might otherwise be lonely. I also have a weak connection with my local church community. Sure, I go to church, but because I travel so much, it's been hard for me to get as involved in my local church community as I'd like to be.
I'll leave you with another quote from Awareness by Anthony De Mello, the book I mentioned at the beginning of this article, about just being happy with where you are, being aware of where you are, and not necessarily trying to have it all and thinking ahead to the next thing…
“…continue to be aware, to live life from moment to moment. How marvelously it is described in those words of the gospel: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns … Consider the lilies of the field … they neither toil nor spin.” That’s the real mystic speaking, the awakened person. So why are you anxious? Can you, for all your anxieties, add a single moment to your life? Why bother about tomorrow? Is there a life after death? Will I survive after death? Why bother about tomorrow? Get into today. Someone said, “Life is something that happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.” That’s pathetic. Live in the present moment. This is one of the things you will notice happening to you as you come awake. You find yourself living in the present, tasting every moment as you live it. Another fairly good sign is when you hear the symphony one note after the other without wanting to stop it.”
If you'd like to listen to a podcast in which I delve into even more detail about everything you've just read via audio, you can click here to listen (and also access even more spiritual discipline resources in the show-notes, including a handy list of additional books). Finally, beginning this very week, my family and I for the next year and a half are going to go through one chapter every two weeks of The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun and I certainly encourage you and your family to join us in this journey of spiritual muscle-building!
Leave your comments, questions, and feedback or your own tips, tricks, and things you do to build yourself up spiritually in the comments section below. I'd love to hear them!
20 thoughts on “The Most Important Muscle You Own (& Exactly How To Train It)”
One of your best Ben.
More like this please
Thanks for the information. I do sports occasionally, but I hike a lot with my dog, so it’s usually around 2-3 hours, and this article was very eye opening for me!
Hi Ben. Where does the morning exercise routine that was made available as part of the Boundless pre-order fall into this routine? Is that routine an every-morning-of-the-year thing (and if so, when—after the foam rolling?), and do you perform that workout routine regardless of whether you have a weightlifting session planned for later in the day?
When you follow the Vielight link it gives you a lot of options with no info to help you choose-qhere to find that info?
It's all on their website, unfortunately just takes a lot of clicking back and forth to compare models. For example, if you click on the Gamma, it'll list the differences between the Alpha and the Gamma: "The Vielight Neuro Gamma’s 40 Hz pulse rate correlates with EEG gamma brain oscillations, which has a stronger effect on memory and cognition enhancement. This pulse rate differs from the 10 Hz pulse rate of the Vielight Neuro Alpha, which has an overall effect on neuronal health."
Where can you find microdoses of Psilocybin?
Thank you Ben and family.
Great article Ben! I really respect and admire the transparency you give to your life style especially this new path of sharing spiritual practices/disciple. I think your 2020 is going to be monumental. I am curious what your church is like or what denomination it is. Would you mind sharing or do you have anything you have shared about this? Thanks
Hey Ben great article, I saw your Instagram post on cold water therapy in 2020 so I’ve filled up a plunge pool and I dip in every morning, I can only do about 30 seconds tho, Will this gradual build up, thanks in advance
Thank you Ben so so much for sharing this powerful, transformative post. You are changing lives and I am very grateful. Thank you so much for this incredible post. I CANNOT wait for your book to arrive. I have a feeling you will attend one of Joe Dispenza’s week long advanced retreat and experience many miracles, then write a lovely post and hopefully do a podcast with Dr Joe Dispenza too:-) I hope you keep posting posts like this and I wish you and your family tremendous amounts of joy, love, light, success, abundance and miracles. Happy 2020 to you all
Thank you for being Christian in a world that often mocks it. Your post takes courage and will be rewarded.
Wow, thank you for this. What a comprehensive breakdown of how to develop and maintain spiritual muscle; it’s proof the spiritual is (or at least should be) part of every aspect of our lives.
Would you be willing to recommend *the one book* to read first of all the resources you recommend above? The Gratitude Journal is on my list for sure, but book wise, I’m looking for a foundational guide on spirituality. To a wonderful 2020, and thanks again.
Well, The Bible, duh—that goes without saying! I’m referring to a book that aids in the application of what the Bible teaches us. My bet is that you’d recommend Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. Or is there another you’d recommend over it? Thanks again.
Yes, Richard Foster is in my opinion best place to start.
Mastin Kipp – how to find your life’s purpose ;)
hola–are you able to share more about couples plant medicine therapy?
Due to the fact that many of the substances used may or may not be legal I try not to share too many details about it but you can certainly google “couples therapy plant medicine” to learn more
Enjoyed this inspiring post, I love DeMello and relate to much of this. I appreciate how you go all in with each curiosity and discovery with the physical and the spiritual. You inspire me to improve myself and to live a balanced life. And music is an integral part of it too. Thank you :)