[00:01:30] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:38] Ben Interviewing with Matt On a Truly High Note
[00:12:37] The “Light” Diet in Its Spiritual Form
[00:14:09] Who is Ben Greenfield?
[00:27:18] Ben's Podcasting and Immersive Journalist Path Over the Last 12 Years
[00:32:29] Whether This Small Ancestral Health Footprint Will Go Mainstream
[00:37:32] Podcast Sponsors
[00:40:48] What Ben Thinks Is the Most Fascinating Part of “Natural Living”
[00:46:59] How to Know Where to Put Your Focus in A World of Information Overload
[01:09:45] Why Ben is a Christian
[01:26:41] Where to Start Your Holistic Path
[01:33:50] Closing the Podcast
[01:36:55] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
We feel this deep knowing inside that there must be more to life than this. There's so much information, and it's a blessing and a curse, and I think that it can tend to get into a little bit more of that curse territory. Wake up in the morning and do the very, very best job that we can with whatever is put on our plate with supreme excellence.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, everybody, welcome to the podcast. I got a chance to sit down with my friend Matt Maruca from the blue light blocking company, Ra Optics. He actually came to my house and he interviewed me while I was high. I'm not kidding. You're going to need to listen to today's episode to learn about why out in my guesthouse. So, this one got a little funky. Anyways, the shownotes for everything you're about to hear you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/maruca, because that's Matt's last name, M-A-R-U-C-A, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/maruca is where you can listen to or access the shownotes for the entire podcast for today.
You're going to enjoy this podcast episode, which is brought to you by Kion Immune. This is a really cool, unique immune system support product that we created based out of a super absorbable form of zinc that we combined with vitamin C in perfectly formed ratios. But now what we're doing is we're bundling that with the other two products from Kion that are powerhouses for your immune system, Colostrum, and then Oregano Oil. And this is my medicine cabinet, Kion Immune, Kion Colostrum, and Kion Oregano Oil. But now we've bundled them altogether for you, then knocked additional 10% off of our already fabulous prices over at Kion for you. And there's no code required. You just go to getkion.com/bengreenfield, getK-I-O-N.com/bengreenfield. No code and it's the immunity bundle. You get Kion Immune, Kion Colostrum, Kion Oregano Oil, and most importantly, total peace of mind that your immune system has all guards fully up and activated. So, it's the Kion Immunity Bundle.
This podcast is also brought to you by the Paleovalley beef sticks. They're grass-fed, grass-finished, amazing flavor because they ferment them. They ferment the beef sticks. They create these naturally occurring probiotics, which are wonderful for gut health. I think even more importantly, they taste amazing. The way they fermented them, really high levels of omega-3, fatty acids, glutathione, conjugated linoleic acid, bioavailable protein, keto-friendly, all made by an accessible family-owned company. And they're doing a lot for environmental restoration and animal welfare over at Paleovalley as well. You can read up on that and order yourself some beef sticks for 15% off if you go to paleovalley.com/ben. That's paleovalley.com/ben, and that will automatically get you 15% off of any purchase from Paleovalley. Check that stuff out and let's go talk to Matt.
Do you want to know something interesting?
Matt: There's no going back.
Ben: There's no going back. And this will be–so this is reminiscent of a podcast I recorded way back in the good old days of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show, where I was beginning to experiment with decarboxylation of marijuana. And I, prior to recording with my sidekick at the time, whose name was Brock Jason Skywalker Armstrong. You can go back and listen to these old Ben Greenfield Fitness episodes. That was my sidekick on the show. And that morning, I had just gotten the day prior something called a magical butter machine, which is this countertop home version of a commercial blender that allows you to make your own edibles, and oils, and tinctures.
And so, I was experimenting with this thing in the kitchen prior to ducking down into the studio to record the podcast with Brock, and was making myself edibles. And I was very young and kind of a gumshoe when it came to anything decarboxylation and marijuana related. And long story short is that I had the math incorrect. And I tasted one of my edibles prior to going down and doing the podcast with Brock and wound up consuming the equivalent of 100 milligrams of cannabis, of THC, prior to the episode, and it hit me about 10 minutes in. And the entire show went to pot. I actually got like a half-hour into the show, and then there was this long pause, and Brock says, “Ben, are you there?” And I go, “Brock, we got to reschedule this, man.” And I went and laid in bed for the next eight hours.
Now, why is this relevant? Well, I'll tell you. So, this morning, glorious morning, woke after a wonderful time last night's eating these steaks that we smoked from US Wellness Meats and the Traeger with a little bit of avocado oil, and citrus salt, black pepper, and cayenne. And yeah, we had a little bit of coconut ice cream, and we played a little concert for the boys, and rock the wonderful night of sleep last night, and then got up this morning, did a workout on the Vasper. So, it kind of biohacked with a little bit of hyperoxia and hypoxia. I did a cold soak afterwards. And then, as I do nearly every morning, made my superfood smoothie, and I made a little extra for you. It's always bone broth, and kefir, and colostrum, and I put a little C60 in there, some stevia, some salt, a little bit of the Organifi organic protein powder blend that's like a vegan protein powder blend with enzymes and probiotics in it, and all manner of superfoods known to man. Then we topped that with Baruka nuts, and I put a little bit of frozen cherry and coconut flakes, unsweetened coconut flakes.
Matt: That was delicious.
Ben: Oh, so delicious. That's just how I love to greet the morning. And so, anyways, everything's rocking and rolling. We're prepared to go out and record this amazing podcast together.
And so, last night, we also did breathwork in the sauna. And during that breathwork in the sauna, I introduced you, Matt. I realized you're supposed to be interviewing me and this is a really long introduction, but–
Matt: Take your time. This is the purpose.
Ben: So, prior to that breathwork, which I've been bringing my boys through for five weeks during this coronavirus shelter in place, I've found breathwork and heat and cold to be a wonderful way to end the day, not only for the flush of nitric oxide and the carbon dioxide, retention, the metabolic alkalosis, just all of these wonderful properties that you derive from heat, cold, and breathwork. And so, we went in and we did breathwork last night before we had our steaks, and our coconut ice cream, and that wonderful dinner.
And I introduced you to this nasal spray called Zen. Now, Zen is formulated by a friend of mine who's a physician down in Florida, Dr. John Lieurance. And it is an extract of an Amazonian tobacco-like plant that's often used in plant ceremonies to clear the head. So, this will often be something that is administered prior to combo, prior to ayahuasca, prior to any type of plant medicine kind of journey. It just clears the head. But I've also found it to be really fantastic for breathwork. It's called Rapé, also known as Rapé. And most often, it is administered intranasally. You snort it up into the sinus passages. I gave you some last night prior to our breathwork because I've found that it just clears your head, makes it clean as a slate, and it's almost like pouring a cup of coffee up your nostrils. How did you feel when you did that?
Matt: Well, I didn't know what to expect. I thought it would maybe be some pleasantly warming aroma. And then, Terran and River said, “I think it burns.” And I said, “Does it?” You said, “Oh, it's fine.” And then, I did it just sure enough to snort two sprays, one in each nose. I preceded the experience, the burn, but then I just pushed the last three really fast and just got over with it, but it definitely cleared things for sure.
Ben: It gets a little bit barbaric, masochistic. For the first 15 seconds or so, you feel like someone has put a flamethrower up your nostril. But the after-effects are extremely pleasant and you're able to tap into that third eye, and you feel as though your sinus passages are opened up. And it really has this really nice head-clearing effect. And again, it's called Rapé, and that is the reason I just used in a lot of these plant medicine ceremonies. And sometimes I'll even do a few sprays of that in the morning. Just kind of charge myself up, get going in the morning, clear the head. And so, long story short–long story long, I suppose, in this case, we were getting ready this morning to go out and podcast, and I grabbed that Zen spray from the refrigerator, and I thought, “Well, I'm just going to clear my head and then head out to the Greenfield guesthouse here and podcast with Matt out in the forest.”
Well, it turns out that what I actually grabbed–and this was about 20 minutes ago, so I'm still on it. And for those of you listening in, yes, I'm high as a kite right now. I snorted ketamine. Now, ketamine is, it's an anesthetic with mild to moderate psychedelic and hallucinogenic properties. Meaning that if I were to close my eyes right now and put on a sleep mask and noise-blocking headphones, I would be on another planet. But instead, my eyes are open and I am lucid sitting here, talking with you, Matt, on your podcast, for what is bound to be a relatively historically notable podcast because I am on a psychedelic, hallucinogenic, anxiolytic drug called ketamine, which I snorted intranasally prior to our episode.
Now, the bright side of this, for those of you listening in, or watching because we're doing this on Instagram live, is that ketamine is relatively short-lived. It's in and out of your system 30, 45 minutes or so. So, this podcast that folks are listening into should progress from me being a blithering idiot full of ketamine, which was compounded with oxytocin, by the way, which is kind of like a trust lovey-dovey woo-woo kind of hormone. It could progress to me actually becoming witty and edgy towards the middle of the podcast. But right now, I'm on–
Matt: You're just going to fall asleep.
Ben: I'm on a full-on psychedelic, hallucinogenic–
Matt: Alright, how long do I have to [00:11:57] _____?
Ben: –intranasal drugs. You got a half hour right now to just toy with me, if you will.
Matt: That's phenomenal. Well, Ben, thanks again for such a great evening yesterday and for hosting me in this beautiful–I love this bed, I have to say.
Ben: Yes. That is the–let me think. I think that's an Essentia Mattress out here in the guesthouse. Fully organic, no animals died in the production of this mattress, vegan. Everything known to man worked into it from an organic standpoint. But yes, that's the Essentia Mattress out here in the guesthouse, fully EMF blocked.
Matt: Yeah. So, this is “The Light Diet Podcast,” which I haven't told you much about other than the name, but the focus is to analyze in more depth the relevance of environmental and mitochondrial factors in health. There's enough podcasts on diet, and supplements, and so on, which serve their purpose, but there are none essentially focused on light and mitochondria. You happen to be, among many other things, an expert in these fields, I would say, or at least extremely knowledgeable, and well-read, and experienced in many types of experiments in this specific field.
Ben: Yes. We've established that, the experimentation piece.
Matt: Yes. Exactly. That was my sort of reference here. And additionally, The Light Diet invokes the concepts of spirituality, and if you will, a diet of light, not just physical light that we're familiar with in universe, but the light of God, the light of consciousness, and that is really–in an old-time, they would say like the diet of worms was like a meeting. So, the alter ego of this podcast is like the light diet, which is my sort of creation of a set of steps to realign oneself with nature, sort of what Dr. Kruse has taught me a lot of. Most of which I've learned from him in that area.
Conversely, this could be the light diet where we sit and have a conversation and discuss about spirituality, which is for me, often more interesting, and I think for many people as well. So, that's the purpose here. And with that in mind, I'd like to start by asking you, who is Ben Greenfield?
Ben: Oh, geez. Who is Ben Greenfield in terms of just my logistical history of how I came to be here?
Matt: I would say something along those lines. You can brevity or not brevity. It can be your joy.
Ben: That's also one of those questions to which the gut responses how long you got.
Matt: Yeah. So, I'd say basic introduction so that as we move into the more higher-level concepts, people can understand. You've been in these Men's Health magazines and Outside. And you've done all the Spartan races and the Ironmans. You have a beautiful wife and beautiful kids, and a nice mountain cabin, essentially. The reason I don't ask who you are you is because that's more spiritual level question. But who is Ben Greenfield? So people can have a bit of an idea of where we're starting from, as you see him.
Ben: Yes. My background is that I was born in North Idaho, and was born into a family comprised of a mother from Detroit and a father from Miami. Both kind of like big city slicker type of parents who had moved to Idaho, both of them on their own volition to escape this very fast-paced, often drug-infused, unfulfilling, hectic, stressful lifestyle that they were living in their respective big cities. And they moved to North Idaho. They met in Moscow, Idaho, they got married, and began to raise us kids in North Idaho in a relatively unconventional way. We were homeschooled, we lived out in the countryside on this acreage and property out in Lewiston, Idaho. Grew up very, very much encouraged to think outside the box, be independent, resilient, creative, and really was raised from the get-go with this idea that it's more important to be your true authentic self than to try to mold yourself into who the world might expect you to be. And that certainly served me well, I think, in my career and in all of my dealings.
The upbringing in Idaho eventually led to me getting really, really interested in this whole concept of physical culture, right? Like I've always loved reading, writing, learning, teaching, singing music, but a big part of it also was a real infatuation with the human body, with the human brain, with spending time outdoors. And increasingly, especially as I got older and began to enter college, science, physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, how does the human body actually tick, how does the human brain actually work. And so, as a teenager, I was very much interested in just wanting to go on and be a professional tennis player.
I loved to play tennis and was very good in high school tennis, and was a top-ranked USTA tennis player, and played tennis for the men's collegiate team from our first couple of years of college. And as often happens, A, became burnt out on tennis, and B, realized that the idea of a professional tennis career was probably not that realistic for me as a kid who started swinging tennis, recognized like 12, 13 years old, and was in no way position to be a true professional tennis player. I realized pretty early on in college that that wasn't going to happen. But fortunately, at the same time, I was pretty immersed academically.
Matt: You look like Roger Federer, actually.
Ben: A little bit.
Matt: A little bit the hair.
Ben: I was playing tennis with my little boy the other day. We play with the family two or three times a week and the boys' hair was getting in their eyes, so mom put the–what do you call it? The hair scrunchie on them and get them both the man bun and they look like little Rafael Nadal's running around out there. So, anyways, in college, I was very academically rigorous because being homeschooled, I never really became accustomed to the idea that you take X number of credits or you finish school at three or you finish school for whatever. For me, just life was learning, right? So, I grew up with a voracious curiosity and just love to learn. There was no real differentiation between like school and play, between work and play, like I grew up, luckily, as a pretty self-actualized little boy. Meaning that for me, a perfect day was just like reading and learning from 7:00 a.m. 'til 2:00 a.m. That's just what I love to do. Still do love to do that. And so, in college, I was taking like 30 credits a semester and everything, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, organic chemistry, chemistry. I took all the premed courses because I wanted to take the MCAT and potentially even become a physician. So, I took all of that to allow that door to be open as well.
And once I came out the other end of university, University of Idaho, in this case, I had a master's degree. I got a master's degree in biomechanics and physiology, and was accepted to six medical schools, and decided to take kind of like a gap year, a work year before committing to any of those schools and going out and becoming a physician. I took a job in knee and hip surgical sales, which for me was great because I was making a lot of money. Well, for me at the time was a lot of money just working in medicine, in knee and hip surgical sales, and at the same time, became really disillusioned with the modern medical system. Just no doctor who I was working with told me that I would be anything but crazy to go to medical school. They had these boats and homes that they had no time to even enjoy because they were just so overloaded with paperwork and these long working hours, and a broken medical system, and $40,000 hip implants going into morbidly obese patients who should have been advised to exercise and change their diet anyways.
The whole thing was just flying at me like bullets out of the matrix when I finally got into the private sector and began working in medicine. And I realized, “Dude, I don't know if I want to be a doctor.” And so, at that time, the only other thing that I really knew aside from medicine, and physiology, and chemistry, and health was exercise because during college, I attained every degree or certification known to man when it comes to exercise, personal training certification, strength conditioning certification, nutrition certification. And so, I was a nutritionist, I was a personal trainer, I was a strength conditioning coach. And so, I remember I walked across the street from the apartment that I was living in in Post Falls, Idaho doing knee and hip surgical sales. Walked into the gym that was across the street from that apartment complex, slapped my resume on the counter, and asked for a job in the same week that I quit the knee and hip surgical sales.
I had a great resume for fitness. And so, they gave me a job as a fitness manager and I just left full into training people, teaching classes, spin instructor, triathlon courses, nutrition classes, community classes, you name it. And so, for the next eight years, that's what I did, was I managed gyms, I wound up partnering with a couple of local physicians and opening my own gyms and personal training studios in partnerships with them. In 2008, I was voted as America's top personal trainer, and that was mostly based on just my continued focus on the utilization of cutting edge science as much as possible. So, I was using high-speed video cameras, and indirect calorimetry, and blood analysis, and all these crazy things that no trainers are doing back in the day. So, I was kind of like early on biohacking, so to speak, with my personal training businesses.
And when I received that award as America's top trainer, I was then thrust into the limelight of speaking at a lot of these fitness business conferences and given a stage presence. I started writing more. My website took off. I started a podcast. I started a YouTube channel and started to do a lot more media type of stuff more than just, say like, whatever, counting dumbbell curls for a soccer mom [00:23:46] _____ in the bikini. And so, I eventually realized that I really couldn't run a bunch of gyms and also be traveling around the country giving talks. I could, I could have definitely just hired a bunch of employees and started a gym franchise and gone that route, but I instead decided to really focus on being more of a writer, and an author, and a speaker, and a podcaster. And sold all of my gym equipments, stopped all my leases, moved my clients onto other personal trainers in the community, and this was right around the time that my twin boys were born as well, which was perfect for me because we wanted to homeschool them. Moved into the house, started a home office, began doing largely a variant of what I do now, which is writing, podcasting, speaking, advising, consulting. Now, I also do some investing and have started a few other businesses like a supplements company on the side.
But ultimately, it started with being homeschooled in Idaho, going out and getting a degree in college, in science, kind of bypassing medicine and going into fitness. And then, fitness took me into more of kind of like a speaking, authoring, podcasting role. So, a lot of what I do now–and obviously, I probably left open a ton of gaps there, but that's long story short, kind of my background and where I came from.
Matt: That's pretty cool. I don't know if I've actually heard that story really told. I didn't know that you were working on being a pro-tennis player. So, that's pretty cool.
Ben: Oh, yeah. That was a dream at one time.
Matt: Yeah. That's pretty cool. I mean, it definitely was a huge–I can imagine being a huge part of your life, especially knowing how in gear you are when you get into something.
Matt: So, it's got to be probably a pretty good forehand and backhand.
Ben: Yeah. And when I decided that I probably wasn't going to make it as a pro-tennis player and was just getting my ass waxed by all these guys from Sweden, and Portugal, and Spain, these folks are just light years ahead of me on the tennis circuit. I still love to compete. I love sports. In college, I continued to play whole set for the water polo team. I played middle for the men's volleyball team, and we went all the way to Nationals. I got into amateur bodybuilding after that, and then competed professionally and on amateur level in triathlon and Ironman triathlon for 10 years during the whole time that I was running all these personal training studios and gyms, and even beginning to speak and write more. I was hardcore in the triathlon and endurance sports community and really made a name for myself as an endurance expert, endurance coach, which a lot of people still associate me with.
And then, from triathlon, five years ago, pivoted into obstacle course racing and race professionally for Reebok for about three years. And then, last year, started to hang up the hat and realize that competing on that level of intensity and masochism was not something that was going to keep me put together and healthy for life. And so, I've moved on to greener pastures like swinging kettlebells and taking ice baths. But yeah, I certainly have woven physical activity into the mix quite a bit along that journey.
Matt: Nice. So, you said that when you began to pursue the more media-focused writing, speaking type of path, what you were doing then was essentially a variant of what you're doing now. So, could you explain? Because obviously, I'm here, I'm seeing you, and first of all, it's amazing. It's inspiring to see you because you're so passionate about what you're doing, and you do it with so much enthusiasm. You're in the zone and you have all these devices on you in the morning, and the Joovv, and you're totally naked in front of the Joovv, the whole thing. So, how did that working from home podcasting routine look 12 years ago or 10 years ago when you were first getting into it to now? If I were here following you around, then what are the biggest changes that you've implemented now since then?
Ben: Well, first of all, the fitness community that I operated in for so long is of course based around this idea that if you eat healthy and you move right, then you will be healthy. And for the longest time, I relied upon proper dieting and exercise to keep myself at a level of what I thought was supreme health. And I began to realize as I became more and more steeped in not only an ancestral approach to human optimization but also learned to begin to identify a lot of these so-called evolutionary mismatches we're surrounded by. EMF, specifically non-native EMF, lighting, error, poor quality water, even stress, and emotions, and relationships that affect us biologically. But there's a lot, lot more that goes into health and longevity than just eating right and moving right.
And so, along the way, I began to change my own personal protocol in terms of everything from my exposure to natural light to the type of water I drink, to the type of air filtration mechanisms I'd use in my home, to the amount to which I'd mitigate EMF, to self-quantifying things like HRV and sleep cycles. And so, for me, part of it was just becoming more aware and more educated on what really, truly makes one healthy combined with as so-called immersive journalist and someone who's out there writing about, and podcasting about, and speaking about a lot of these things. I'm constantly exposed to all these companies, and products, and technologies, and even questions from listeners, and from readers, and from fans about, “Have you tried this? Can you test this out? Can you see if this works? Can you give this one a go and write about it?”
People go from asking 12 years in a podcast, how can I bench press more to now? How can I, whatever, combine methylene blue, and chaga extract, and shilajit with photobiomodulation for mitochondrial optimization? So, it's like as my audiences' questions get more and more fringe, I'm diving into these deeper, darker rabbit holes. So, it's all just been a journey, but the journey has been, A, a realization that there's a lot more that goes into being healthy and then just exercise and eating, and B, a constant, constant daily influx of new things to learn, driven by questions my audience is asking me, and businesses that reach out to me just to show me cool new shit they're working on. And so, every day it seems like something new is getting implemented into my life, just based on new things that I've learned. So, it's not as though I one day snapped my fingers and said, “I'm going to move out here in the forest on 10 acres and put a bunch of biohacks in a house, and wake up in the morning and do my red light, my trampolining, and my BioCharger, and my sauna. These are just things that have just developed along the way.
Matt: I think 14 years old and a freshman in high school, well, that's when I started really looking into health because I was really struggling with allergies, gut issues, headaches. Among other things, acne was sort of vanity, was what triggered me to start reading about diet and exercise. And so, that was when I first learned about you. I think I first read somewhere on some forum, in the depths, the catacombs of the internet, I found out about the Whole30, and then it was like, “Well, I don't have any money to pay for that. So, let me just figure out what that is. And then, so I learned about Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and your blog, and it was really interesting. I wouldn't have imagined that we'd be sitting here recording a podcast six years later.
Ben: Yeah. It's all kind of a small world, this whole network of I guess the ancestral fitness movement or whatever you want to call it. Yeah.
Matt: It's still really small.
Ben: Kind of a very small crowd.
Matt: When working with blue-blocking glasses and seeing that that is our market for the most part right now and realizing that, man, that's not even a million out of 330 million states, maybe a million-plus, but you know the numbers better than I do. It's very small, but it's growing, which I think is really cool. There's more organic food, at least I think, than there was before, at least the awareness, maybe food is–
Ben: Yeah. It's still dwarfed by the old school fitness industry. I mean, you go to any idea fitness or bodybuilding convention or whatever down in Vegas, compared to something like, whatever, Paleo (fx), or the Ancestral Health Symposium, or some of these forums or conferences where I think people really, truly are pursuing a more ancestral approach to living healthy and optimizing the human body. The fitness movement as a whole is massive compared to this tiny little ancestral health footprint that we're living in. Right now, it's largely still whey protein shakes and energy drinks. And I guess they're probably going to go out of business now, but Gold's Gym, or Life Time Fitness, that's still what being healthy and fit is in America at least is gyms, whey protein, tanning beds, that's still the majority of what fitness is.
Matt: So, when I started to learn about the diet stuff, it was one really interesting angle that made sense. Just like, I guess my path and your path, and many others run in parallel, seeing that there's the diet, the supplements, the movement, then there's the light, sunlight, circadian rhythms, sleep, air, all these different environmental factors that impact our ability to utilize our food properly and our ability to detox from all those chemicals we're exposed to. So, that's evolving. I'm curious, do you see that reaching mainstream anytime soon? I'm going to be with this podcast and the things I do working on pushing the knowledge about blue light, and it seems that companies are starting to have awareness around blue light, the big Warby Parker's of the world, and EyeBuyDirects, all these online companies. They're offering blue blocking coatings granted they're a reflective coating, like you mentioned in “Boundless,” that doesn't actually block anything beyond 420 nanometers. So, they're essentially ineffective.
Matt: But nonetheless, that's reaching the mainstream, the blue light glasses you need to block the screen. So, that's something beneficial. Sunlight has more obstacles to crossover, obviously, because of the whole skin cancer concern. People don't know about what you mentioned on the podcast–
Ben: But it is [00:35:30] _____ Outside magazine, arguably a mainstream magazine. They had an article in last year's issue about how–I think they said sunscreen is the new margarine, is the way that they said it. And they highlighted some of these studies about folks who have regular exposure to sunlight.
Matt: I didn't know about that article. That's amazing.
Ben: Yeah. Actually having lower rates of skin cancer compared to those who get large boluses of sunlight on the weekend, during a trip to the beach, for example, and they questioned the ingredient profile of a lot of these sunscreens, the potential carcinogens, or xenoestrogens, et cetera. And so, yeah. I mean, I think that people are becoming more aware of living in a way that more closely parallels something that does not present ourselves with as many evolutionary mismatches. We've also seen this before. We've seen cycles before. I think it was back in the–I think it was like the '50s or the '60s, there was a big physical movement culture and a lot of people shifting towards like a paleo-esque diet, and lifting sandbags, and kettlebells outside, and going barefoot, and swimming in rivers, and moving like animals, like Erwan Le Corre type of movement protocol.
But that was like back in the '60s. And then, that all got replaced by the marathoning of the '80s, and the gym culture of the '90s, and what we were just talking about, whey protein shakes, and tanning beds, and Gold's Gym, and Life Time Fitness. And the entire gym and fitness industry just swallowed up that whole natural movement, natural health industry. And I see us getting back slightly into a cycle of people moving a little bit more naturally, or living a little bit more naturally, and would hope that it's here to stay. But yeah, I mean, it seems like it's catching on and it makes sense.
Well, hello. I want to interrupt today's show to tell you about the thing that you see on my head, not my hair, the other thing you see on my head all the time in my videos. So, I don't know if you ever heard of Italian acetate before. Italian acetate is this special material that's designed for strength, rigidity, durability, and a nice Italian touch. And it's combined with reliable and durable metal, probably the most reliable and durable metal in the world, German-engineered steel. So, you take Italian acetate, you combine it with German-engineered steel, and then you add lenses. I'm talking about glasses, frames, but I'm talking about blue light blocking glasses that actually look good and are developed with extreme engineering.
They're the only blue light blockers that I wear because they have the most effective lens technology for blue light protection for your face, daytime options, nighttime options. It's exactly what my wife uses. It's what my kids use. And these are the frames, and the lenses, and the blue light blocker systems made by the company Ra Optics, R-A Optics. The guy who developed the company, Matt Maruca, one of the smartest guys I know when it comes to light. So, this isn't some random suit and tie-wearing CEO [00:38:42] _____ he can make money off of blue light blocking glasses. This is a dude who changed his life by studying light and then brought you the coolest technology that's actually done. While most blue light blocking glasses, they don't work. They're cheap, they're imported from Asia, and then the price is marked up. And that's literally I know what's going on behind the scenes with a lot of these blue light blocking glasses companies. Ra Optics does not do that.
Italian acetate, German-engineered steel, overengineered lenses. It's crazy. Most blue light–if I can talk. Most blue light blocking lenses, they block like 3% of harmful blue light. The Ra Optics, even the daytime version, blocks over 95% of the damaging range of blue light while giving you maximum color perception and their proprietary pigment blends. So, it's raoptics.com/ben for 10% off of anything from Ra Optics. R-A, like the sun god, the Egyptian sun god, raoptics.com/ben for 10% off. Get them because they're flying off the shelves right now.
And then, also, speaking of flying off the shelves, want a game day pack? A game day pack, because the big game's coming up. That's right, Super Bowl. New members to ButcherBox. Get one rack of St. Louis-style ribs, one pack of bacon, and one pack of pulled pork, perfect for any party, not just Super Bowl party, for free in your first box when you go to butcherbox.com/ben. That's butcherbox.com/ben for 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef, free to roam on pasture, hogs raised on pasture and in hoop barns, chickens with outdoor access with no cages, crates, or overcrowding, fish raised with strict fishing and handling practices when it comes to wild-caught, sustainably harvested seafood, all shipped straight to your front door in eco-friendly, 100% recyclable boxes. That's ButcherBox. And then I mentioned, you get a bunch of goodies with your order, pack of bacon, pack of pulled pork, and a free rack of St. Louis-style ribs, all for free at butcherbox.com/ben with your first order. Butcherbox.com/ben. Check them out.
Matt: So, of all the things that you have learned about in this newer, or I guess you could say older model of natural living in line with the circadian rhythm, ice baths, things that really impact the mitochondria, what has been the most interesting to you, like something maybe you learned writing and thought, “Well, this is fascinating?”
Ben: I think related specifically to your question, and probably your audience also, the concept of human photosynthesis I've found lately to be pretty interesting, this idea that we can, in response to photons of light, actually shuttle electrons into the electron transport chain and activate or increase the activity of cytochrome oxidase if we have certain factors present. And essentially, there are certain protein structures or compounds that can harness those photons of light, so to speak, and use them to split water and produce electrons. And one example of that would be melanin, which we have naturally in our skin anyways, but that can be consumed orally via something like chaga mushroom extract.
We know that a couple other compounds that act similarly would be anything with appreciable amounts of chlorophyllin, like cilantro or chlorophyll, for example, or chlorella rather, the eligible extract chlorella. Another one would be methylene blue, which is now becoming pretty popular as a nootropic. It's also sold as a fish tank cleaner online, so you want to make sure if you use it that you get like good, pure, pharmaceutical grade methylene blue. But pair–
Matt: Not fish tank cleaner?
Ben: No, not fish tank cleaner. But pairing things like chaga, like methylene blue, or shilajit is another example, or chlorella, or cilantro with photobiomodulation and sun exposure, or infrared, near-infrared, far infrared light exposure. I've actually been experimenting with that quite a bit myself lately, and I feel an uptick in energy levels when I stack those two modalities. So, that's one thing that I've been pretty interested in recently. And there's that book, “The Human Photosynthesis,” I think I shared with you.
Matt: I have a copy of it [00:43:10] _____.
Matt: This is to me, fascinating, all of it. I had a bit of a lightbulb moment last night when on our little Instagram live, you were mentioning how sunglasses also reduce the production of alpha-MSH or that melanocyte-stimulating hormone just via the eye. You didn't say alpha-MSH at that moment, but then these three things that–other two experiences I had. I was in Mexico over the winter looking at these retirees sitting in the pool at this one place I was staying, and it would be just baking in the sun. I was saying, “How are they staying in the sun so long?” And I realize, “Oh, they have sunglasses on.”
So, these natural mechanisms that we have to say, “Okay. I've gotten enough.” I believe it's pretty clear, sunglasses undo that. And additionally, they also undo the production of the protective mechanism as well, which is just fascinating. That with the work of Alexander Wunsch, who I imagine you're quite familiar with, he has described how light via the eye contributes to the production of serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, and alpha-MSH. So, that click, when you said that last night, oh, that's how it works. So, if people wear sunglasses, it's really, really increasing our risk of having a problem because we can't protect ourselves properly.
Ben: Yeah. I mean, I rarely wear sunglasses unless I'm at risk of snow blindness when skiing or snowboarding. On a bright sunny day, you do need to eliminate some of that glare because you can cause some retinal damage with really, really concentrated bright bursts of light like that. For example, for eye protection, if you're out boating or out on the beach and the sand is blowing or whatever. There are some use cases for sunglasses, but I view them more as eye protection. And for me to wear sunglasses as a fashion statement is something I shooed many years ago as I realized that I really just wasn't biologically interacting with the sun via my built-in lens the way that I should be. And so, yeah, I rarely, rarely wear sunglasses. And considering that I used to lose sunglasses all the time anyways, it's been quite nice for my budget just not to have to buy sunglasses and lose them.
Matt: Yeah. Now, it's the blue blocker budget, but it's okay, we got you covered.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. I told you I'm a bane of your existence because I've also–
Matt: I love it. It's fine.
Ben: I'm notorious for losing watches and glasses. So, I always wear just like a cheap ass $10 to $15 Timex because I know in my last two months were losing anyways. And then, the blue light blockers, I misplaced those things like gangbusters. There's got to be so many hotel maids or hotel security agents with a fine, fine pair of raw blue light blockers because of random blue light blocking glasses I've left on hotel bedsides.
Matt: Good for the world. We're spreading all the love. So, this is really fascinating. I love the discussion about light because again, it's so kind of under-discussed. Now, to transition a little bit, I love to, like I said, watch you do your routine here because I want to get myself more and more to a place where I am focused on the high leverage things that I love, which for me is I think pretty similar to what you do, the reading, the writing, the researching, and maybe less on the daily operational management of growing a business. So, it's not that that's not fun. It very much can be, but it's not what I think could be the highest use of what I'd love to do so. And obviously, you're doing that now.
So, with so much–we discussed briefly last night information overwhelm in the world today. There's so many different health strategies and this and that, and the other thing. There's not just health strategies, but just things to read and learn about. How do you discern? How have you become okay with just saying, “I'm going to just focus on these most important things,” and then not maybe read every great article that's coming out because it's too much? What does that process been like for you and how have you got into that point where you're more than anything focusing on what is the highest expression of your passion and your use of time?
Ben: Well, like I was telling you last night, we do indeed live in an era where we have access to libraries of information that kings of old would have killed for. And we literally have a wealth of resources at our hands and something as simple as the smartphone in our pockets that literally give us something similar to the equivalent of the wisdom of Solomon, literally in our back pocket, which is a crazy amount of power to possess. It's like in J.R.R. Tolkien, having the ring is one thing, but having the control to be able to will that ring with the right kind of power and responsibility is a completely different thing.
And when you have access to this amount of information, it is something that can create some serious, serious overwhelm, FOMO, and constant feeling of needing to catch up, needing to digest, needing to listen to yet another new podcast that has come out, or yet another series of books, or YouTube video, or interview, or Twitter thread, or blog post, or blog feed, or blog aggregator. I mean, there's so much information, and it's a blessing, and a curse, and I think that it can tend to get into a little bit more of that cursed territory towards people who are voraciously curious like you and I just because we could literally wake up in the morning and spend our entire day reading books, listening to podcasts, listening to audiobooks, visiting websites, and learning, learning, learning, and filling our heads with information because there's so much information out there.
There's a couple ways to come at this. A, we definitely want to position ourselves to be able to use the unique skill set and the unique purpose that we were born with to make the most impact on this planet. And by delving into activities that distract us from that purpose, or that don't serve our best purpose, we really aren't doing that. And this is why, for example, Tim Ferriss' “4-Hour Workweek” was a huge influence on me as I was building my business because from pretty early on, there were a couple of years there where I was coding all my own websites and designing all my own PHP scripts for newsletters and emails, and writing programs that would allow different companies to drop ship things when folks would fill out an order form on my website.
And I was doing all my own copy, and all my own videos, and all my own audio editing, and I was pretty much wearing every single hat in my business. My wife can tell you, I'd come home from the gym training clients at 8:00 p.m. and I'd work 'til around 2:00 a.m. or so. Just go from the gym onto the online business that I was creating, and I did it all. The blessing of that is that I now kind of sort of know what's going on when someone from my team is asking me a question about a website, or an email, or a form, or whatever. But of course, the curse of that is that you do tend to–because you know a little bit about what's going on, a little bit about everything, you tend to want to micromanage everything.
And so, one of the best things for me was that 4-hour workweek-esque approach where I realize I just need to start outsourcing as much as possible to the people who really crush what they're good at to free me up to be able to do what I'm actually good at, or what I'm passionate about, or what puts me in the zone, or what feels like play to me, or what reflects what I like to do when I was a kid because when something satisfies all that criteria, it's indicative that you're actually doing and living your true purpose in life versus just putting out a bunch of fires and micromanaging things that really aren't your responsibility or your true calling. Gary Keller has a great book about this that I think is free right now on Amazon called “The ONE Thing,” about how you should–
Matt: Yeah. That's amazing.
Ben: –crush that one thing that you're good at. And so, for me, part of it comes down to freeing up the time to be able to interact with all of this content we're surrounded by, all this information where we're constantly–and sometimes overwhelmed by. Well, I certainly free up hours in my day by outsourcing and by paying other people to do things like the web programming, or the email funnels, or the research, or the shopping, or even the mowing of the lawn, or the cleaning of the house. I'm a huge, huge fan of outsourcing. And I think too many entrepreneurs don't begin to outsource and hire early enough because they are concerned about Maslow's hierarchy and being able to pay the bills, and how can I afford to hire another employee or outsource to another assistant this month. And in my opinion, taking on debt to hire an assistant, or to outsource, or to build out a company, is actually prudent because that is something that will be paid off based on the amount of time that it frees you up to be excellent at what you do. So, that's part of it.
Now, the other part of it is of course once you have freed up that time, once you have outsourced, once you have learned not to micromanage, and once you have identified the things that you're really good at, and focused on just crushing those things, then what's going to happen is that you're still going to have more information than you know what to do with, more books than you'll ever have the time to read, more podcasts than you'll ever have the time to listen to, and more opportunities than you'll ever be able to take on all at once. So, learning to say no and having a no filter is really important. And I say no with increasing frequency now. I say no a lot and say yes to only those things that are the hell yeses. And how do you know what's your hell yes? Well, you have to have a single, succinct, very clearly defined purpose statement through which you filter everything.
Like, my purpose statements right now is to–and purpose statements could change, by the way. They don't have to be the same throughout your entire life. But mine is to read and write, learn and teach, sing and speak, compete and create in full presence and selfless love to the glory of God. That's my purpose statement. And so, if I can take anything that's [00:54:20] _____ because it weaves in everything I think should be woven into purpose statement, which is when I say to read and write, learn and teach, sing and speak, create and compete, those are all things that I love to do when I was a kid, those are all things that put me in the zone now, those are all things that spark deep and impactful joy when I'm doing them. And I could have put programming in there, I could have put painting in there, I could have put woodworking in there, I could have put travel in there, but none of those things actually satisfy the key core criteria of things that really give me joy, put me into the zone, and reflect what I really like to do when I was a kid.
But I could tell you right now, reading, writing, learning, teaching, singing, speaking, competing, and creating are all things that light me up, and that I love to do. And so, if an opportunity comes across my plate that doesn't fit into one of those categories that I can filter through my purpose statement, then it's not really going to be a hell yes. And then furthermore, with that purpose statement, if it's all about me fulfilling my Maslow's hierarchy, making more money, getting a nicer car, having a bigger home, wearing more fashionable clothes, et cetera, all of that is also going to be pretty unfulfilling at the end of the day, if that's what the purpose statement is motivated by and geared towards, taking care of oneself. But if you can develop your purpose statement and then go forth into the world and with that purpose statement, love others, follow the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and live out your purpose statement and selfless love towards others, you don't have to worry about Maslow's hierarchy, right? The rewards will come back to you. You give, give, give, and the world will take care of you. People are reciprocal and you'll find that the more you can love others with your purpose, the more success will come back to you.
And then, finally, for me as a Christian, when I finish my purpose statement, to read and write, learn and teach, sing and speak, create and compete in full presence and selfless love to the glory of God, what I mean by that is that I believe that we were created and we were created with this stamp, with this image that reflects God. And that's a pretty big responsibility when you consider that you were made to be like a God, literally. And when you consider the magic of the world that we live in and the bodies in which we operate, and you consider the deep, deep, unfathomable complexity of this universe and how great a creator must exist to have put that in place, then one of the best things you can do to love, and to glorify, and to magnify that Creator, which I think we really are called to do, is almost like a gift that we give back to the being that put us on this planet in the first place, is to wake up in the morning and do the very, very best job that we can with whatever is put on our plate, with supreme excellence, and by simply taking your purpose statement. Say, “I'm going to love God or glorify God with that purpose statement.” What does that mean? It means I'm going to do a really good job. I'm going to do a really good job and I'm going to be excellent at whatever I do.
So, if you have your purpose statement and you're saying, “I'm going to love as many people as possible, and then I'm going to be really, really excellent at that, and I'm just going to pride myself on supreme craftsmanship in any of these things that I do,” well, that reflects back and glorifies God. And so, coming full circle to your question, with the information overwhelm and all these opportunities that we have put before us, A, outsource to free up time so that you're really able to crush out what you do and learn those things that you deeply passionately care about and want to learn. And then B, really hone your purpose statement so even when you're in that situation where you have more free time to learn more, you're really only choosing those things that allow you to live out your purpose statement more fully.
So, I'll give you an example to drive this home. Let's say that you wake up in the morning and you, Matt Maruca, have the opportunity to listen to an audiobook or a podcast interview with, let's say, Alexander Wunsch or some other amazing person who's talking about light, and your purpose statement might be to bring the knowledge of biological and spiritual light to this universe, something like that. And then, you also get a call from a friend who just got a Groupon ticket for golf lessons, and you've got the opportunity to go out and learn how to play golf and play 18 holes of golf. And you ask yourself, “Well, I don't know. What's my purpose statement? Does golfing fit into my purpose statement? Is that something that really lights me up? Is it something I love to do when I was a kid, that puts me in the zone now? Or is this a shiny penny or a distraction compared to me going for hike in the forest and listen to this two-hour-long interview with this dude about light because that's what I really feel called towards, that's what my purpose is?” And so, that's a simple and maybe stupid example, but I just pass everything through that filter of, does this better equip me or enable me to live out my purpose in life? And I say no to a lot of coffee shop meetups, and investment opportunities, and books people want to send me, et cetera, just because they don't fit into that purpose statement.
Matt: For me, that's really where I am right now with business and starting to outsource more and more things slowly but surely. I feel like when we finally die and move on, it's kind of a cliché, but not a lot of things are necessarily going to have mattered or matter I think much at that point on our deathbed, and I'm very confident that how many podcasts I consume, and articles, and blogs, and books I read, or maybe wrote one day, won't have the biggest impact as much as those few really meaningful things like the things that you've aligned in your purpose statement as being really important.
So, to me, I feel like I've gotten a lot clearer, although I'm still trying to get it all together, but just having a goal and having a clarity of purpose like you said and then going from there. Otherwise, it's always going to be more, more, more, and it's never going to be enough, but we're already–even if I never read another health book or any book for the rest of my life, I'm still me or being. It's something that I think is great to do if either it aligns with my business goals and I want to be more educated first on something for a business reason, or if it aligns with my personal passion. But if it falls outside of those categories, it's like, “What's the purpose? What's the point of even engaging with anything at that point?” Maybe helping others. So, I appreciate you in that answer.
Ben: Yeah. And you learn and you digest information, not necessarily to become a library because let's face it, in an era of Google and massive digital libraries in the cloud, you're never going to even come close to approximating the knowledge base one could get anywhere else. So, just learning for learning sake is relatively unfulfilling at the end of the day, and nothing you will be necessarily proud about on your deathbed other than that it was an interesting way to pass away time, like having your nose in a book. But if you're learning to teach, if you are learning to love, not mean learning how to love, but learning so that you can love, and you are learning to be able to pass on information to friends, to family, to children, to the world, to your audience, to your fans, to make their lives better, then the goal of that learning suddenly becomes honorable and quite fulfilling. I would much rather on my deathbed have said about me, “Ben read 3,000 books in his life and turned the information that he learned from those books into helpful, actionable tips that made people's lives actually better,” versus, “Ben knew a lot of shit because he read a lot of books.” But what's that mean, right?
Matt: Exactly. What does it mean in the end?
Ben: You have to be able to turn around and translate the information you've gathered into something that actually helps people and specifically helps people in a way that fulfills your purpose statement. And so, really, I think again, that's how you handle the information overload. And I think I was telling you this last night. I've even had to change my approach a little bit, like I used to say for the longest time that I read a book a day, which I did for many, many years, all the way up until about five months ago, I read a book a day, and that was just my rule, read a book a day.
Matt: And this is skimming, or actually, you read every word?
Ben: You open the book, you crack open the cover, you read the table of contents, you flip to the back to see the back is laid out, you flip through the book to see how the book is laid out, and then you take a pen. And there are really good books on speed reading. Jim Kwik has a good resource on this. His new book “Limitless” is really good about this. But you basically just trace each page, trace down each page, trace the next page. You gradually learn how to digest information in chunks rather than word by word, and you never regress as you read. Meaning, I always have this rule where I never turned the page backwards, which means that I'm reading with the conscious realization that I must be grasping what I'm reading and not just looking at words or looking at chunks of information because I've told my brain, “You're not going to see this again. You're not allowed to turn the page back.” So, I'm always reading consciously.
And by reviewing the contents, reviewing the books, seeing the layout of the book, going through it with a pen, scrolling the pen down through the pages you go, so you're using your peripheral vision to gather information, and you're engaged with chunks of information as you go through the book, it's almost like you get to the point. The best way I can describe it, because I've been doing this since I was six years old, is you're essentially taking a photograph of a page, photograph of the next page, turn photograph of a page, photograph of the next page, turn. And I can get through a pretty decent sized book in an hour and a half or two.
Matt: So, like “Boundless,” if you were speed reading and it wasn't your book, how long do you think it would take you to consume the 650 some pages?
Ben: Well, “Boundless” is an atypical book. I'm not just saying that narcissistically, but that book is a little bit bigger than the type of book I would take on to read in a day. But “Boundless” would probably be like three days to do something like that.
Matt: Okay. Yeah. That's pretty amazing.
Ben: However, I have now committed to quality over quantity. And what I mean by that is I am reading my books more slowly. I'm not drinking them like a smoothie. I'm eating them like a wonderful complex salad, chewing every bite 40 times–
Matt: And a ribeye coated with apple coating, yeah.
Ben: And a ribeye coated with pesto. And I am creating a shelf in my library full of the–as Ryan Holiday would say, the so-called perennial bestsellers, the books that I want to come back to over and over again. And I'm taking my time and savoring books, and even choosing the books that I do read more wisely, and just slowing that pace of consumption and going for quality over quantity. And I'm finding that to be quite satisfactory because of two reasons. A, the books that I really, really want to read I could spend a lot more time in and get a lot more out of. But I still have in my back pocket that speed reading skill to where if I'm going to interview somebody for a podcast and I just need to get through their shit quick, so I know what I want to ask him for the show. I can do that. And so, yeah, I'll still pull out some books and just like read them in an hour. But I've given myself permission to slow down the pace not for my identity around being that guy who reads a book a day, and I'm instead trying to read books more slowly, digest the information more slowly, be more aware, be more present when I read, and hopefully, harness even better information out of those books that I can help people with.
Matt: Yeah. I resonate with that highly because I first heard about the book a day from a Tai Lopez YouTube advertisement in his garage with his Lamborghinis that some people said aren't his, but whatever. That was like something I still feel FOMO if I think, “Oh, I should be able to read a book a day. Oh, I should be able to get through all this content.” Once I have the business more outsourced, maybe I'll be able to focus more. But like you said, even at that point, there's so much more information than I could ever hope to assimilate, even if I had every day all day where my business is running itself.
So, I think that idea of focusing and filtering and doing it for a higher purpose, which is what I would like to get into, personally, for me things have evolved from, well, I grew up from a spiritual side of things, at least I grew up in a normal life and I was kind of like an atheist and so on. And then, I got into my health quest, I guess you could say. And as I learned about the light and all this stuff that I was learning from Dr. Kruse in the books that he recommended, light shaping life about biophotons in the body and the body electric. All these books were implying that there's this–not only did the paleo diet make me think, “What else have I been taught that isn't true?” Because it was such a 180 from what I thought I knew about health and whatnot.
So, I was open, and then these books just opened my mind further to the possibility of what people now say, “God,” and all of these things. But when it comes to this trying to achieve, I get this feeling like, you know what, it's sort of like a competition in some sensor. For some people, it's like a competition, right? And I feel like when I, or anyone buys into that competition, it becomes a struggle because you're never really going to win, and no one's really going to win if it's just all about reading more and becoming the guy who reads a book a day and whoever makes the most money in their drop shipping store, whatever per day.
It's like there's these competitions that they're kind of bottomless pits. And my understanding has come to the point where it's basically the monk philosophy in some sense, like, you can just sit and basically do nothing and connect with God, and become a really powerful soul, and that will lead to much more fulfillment than the person who achieves all of these things in the material world. This, too, is almost like a cliché, this concept of not achieving that you won't get satisfaction necessarily from material things, but it's only cliché in the sense that people speak about it all the time and don't really read into it. Really, it's eternal truth, you might say. It's in the Bible and that sort of thing.
So, with all that being said, I really want to ask you about your faith and your experience how did you become a Christian, or were you raised a Christian? And how does having God in your life affect the way you do things and drive your every day and give that sense of general calmness and centeredness to the things you do and allow you to be such a high achiever and still maintaining such a strong family presence and sense of–you seem very grounded. With just running into you, it's like I'm amazed at how grounded you are for how much you are all over the place, it seems.
Ben: Here's the perspective on that. First of all, to directly answer your question, yeah, my parents were first-generation Christians. What I mean by that is both of them did not grow up in Christian households per se, but became Christians when they were in midlife prior to when I was born. Around the time they got married, they were both so-called new Christians. And I was raised in a house where we read the Bible in the mornings, and we sang hymns, and we went to church, and we prayed over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a basic evangelical Christian family. I think that for me, this concept of Christianity comes down to the Hero's Journey. I truly believe that the Hero's Journey is embedded into our DNA on a really deep level. There's a reason that the most successful pop culture productions on the planet all tell this story of a person in the ordinary world having a call to adventure, crossing a threshold, connecting with mentors and allies, eventually going on and going to battle against the final enemy, nearly being defeated, nearly being destroyed. And at the very last moment, somehow making it out alive and then returning back to the village, or the city, or the people, or the civilization with the magical elixir and saving humankind.
Matt: Yeah. And when this would be like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings.
Ben: Star Wars, Frozen, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Rocky, you name it, like it's all the Hero's Journey. And the reason that I think that we resonate so deeply with the Hero's Journey is because we as a human race, we're a part of this Hero's Journey. We feel this deep, deep knowing inside that there must be more to life than this, right? Which sounds like a Disney princess song, but it really is, at the end of the day when people take some time to meditate, and think, and be with themselves, and slow down the pace of life, and question themselves, and question all their belongings, and all their fulfillment, and all their striving, whether they're rich, whether they're poor, whether they're the mightiest king on the planet, whether they're, whatever, a warehouse worker barely getting by, we all have this thought, “Gosh, there must be more. It can't just be I do all this stuff then I die, then game over.”
And I think that the reason that we think a lot of that is because that's actually true that there actually is more to life than just walking around this planet, that there actually is this eternal bliss that we have the opportunity to be blessed with. That goes on forever and ever and ever, and I don't know exactly what it looks like, but I do know that it's heavenly. I do know that from descriptions that you hear from people who have near-death experiences or prophets from the Bible who have seen heaven and seen God, that you're somehow bathed in light, and music, and deep, deep love and a connection with God unlike anything that we experience in these physical bodies compared to what we might experience in say like a celestial body or a spiritual body that we would be encased in in this afterlife and the so-called afterlife.
When we look at the Hero's Journey, I think that Christianity for me reflects that in a really profound manner. Meaning that here was this Son of a God, Son of God. There's many gods, but this was the God, and the Son of this God, this greatest God, this greatest being, this greatest creator that existence has ever known living their ordinary, comfortable life as the son of God, eating angel's food in heaven sitting at the right hand of God on the throne in heaven, all of a sudden has this call to adventure that must have been met with great resistance, right? Like, here is this entire planet teeming with people, created in my image, and they're messing things up big time, and they have messed things up big time, and they've broken all the rules, and they are killing each other, and they're raping the planet, and they are just loss in their own selfishness and sin. Can you go down there and save them? And not only save them, but save them by taking on all their sin, and all their shame, and all their suffering, and taking on the form of a human flesh from being God, and going, and dying. Literally, like go down to Earth and die. Just fix all this, experience the most pain, and suffering, and shame that someone could ever experience and fix this. Be the hero. Right?
And so, we have this story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who crosses that threshold. All of a sudden, it appears as a little baby, which must have been horrible for a God to actually be stuck inside of this tiny little broken human form of a baby, and then grow up for 33 years on this planet, 33 really wonderful years, teaching philosophies, and teachings, and insight, and wisdom that we can now open up a book like “The New Testament” and delve into the sermon on the mount or any of these other wonderful teachings that Jesus passed along during his time here on this Earth. But then, perhaps more profoundly becomes this time when he's 33, when it is time to actually take that deep, deep dive and go to battle in the way that he is probably the greatest hero mankind has ever known. Was called to go to battle for and he has a crown of thorns placed on his head that dug deep into his skull, three to four-inch thorns, piercing down into the skin of the skull, blood dripping down the face, beaten, carrying a giant, heavy wooden cross through the streets, and then getting nailed to a cross.
And no human being can have nails driven through their wrists without–I would imagine just screaming in pure horror. We probably would have been vomiting if we have been at the cross, at the crucifixion watching this happen. I mean, this was not pleasant, like the idea of a crucifixion. It's a pretty horrible way to die. It's kind of funny because we–it was not funny. It's interesting that we now wear crosses or people get cross tattoos or cross t-shirts. It's kind of like having an electrical chair or like a poison injection vial hanging around your neck. That's what the cross was, right? It was a horrible, horrible way to die and kill a human being.
And so, not only that, not only does he get nailed upon across, crown of thorns, spear stuck in his side, dies in a very, very horrible and shameful manner, but then after that death, crosses over into the spirit world. And anybody who has done plant medicine knows that there is a spirit world. And I've certainly done a lot of plant medicine and have been to places in the spirit world that have left me coming back with an undeniable realization that there's way more going around us than we can just see with our eyes, or feel with our hands, or touch with our feet, or anything like that. And there's this deep spiritual world, and he went into that world, and he went straight down to the depths of hell, and fought Satan for three days in this epic battle, and took on all the shame, and all the suffering, and probably suffered like way more horribly in that spirit world than ever could have occurred on the cross. Like, that was just the beginning, battled and battled and battled for three days like a freaking bloodied crusader.
And at the very end, at the very end, when he was supposed to be dead and rotting in a tomb as human flesh, all of a sudden, I like to think of it as like this hand pops up from the ground, and it's reaching towards the sky, and it's like, “Oh, wait, I'm still here. I made it out alive. Not only that, but I've come back with the elixir.” Right? And so, the giant rock on the tomb is rolled away and this blast of light comes forth, and all of a sudden, we have for the very first time in all of human existence, a human body that died that was actually a God that went to battle, defeated sin, took on every last bit of shame and suffering that we have ever had or ever will had, or ever will have, and came out and said, “Alright, I defeated it. I won. I took on all this. We've ended this cycle of sin, and suffering, and shame.”
And the beautiful, simple part of that, and the magic of it is what that means. Like, that most unselfish thing that anyone could have ever done for anybody else means that for us, whether we were raped, or traumatized, or abused, or beaten as a child, whether we have committed what to us are the most guilt-stricken, shameful, embarrassing things that we ever could have done in our lives, every last bit of that, all we have to say is I believe that story. I believe that that Hero's Journey actually happened. And I cast all my cares on Jesus. I believe that that Hero's Journey story actually happened and I am saved. And as the Bible said, it is literally as simple as a little child believing, a little child saying, “Yes. That happened. I no longer need to carry that burden. Jesus carried it for me, and all of a sudden, it's just like the most enlightening, peaceful, hopeful state you can be in knowing that every single day, you can wake up, and no matter how bad things have gotten or no matter how bad you messed up the day before, how much you may have hurt someone, how much you may have made the wrong decisions that you can just cast that all upon Christ, and he carried it all.
And when you enter into that state and you realize that everybody is just as much of an F up as you are, and we can all cast it on Christ and nobody needs to carry shame, nobody needs to carry suffering, nobody needs to carry embarrassment. Well, to me, that kind of Judeo-Christian Hero's Journey is about the most fantastic, wonderful, magical tale that one can live. And I think it's built into our DNA. I think it's the story that we crave, and I think so many of us live our lives wanting to be the hero because we resonate so powerfully with that journey. We want to go out and save all the people, and we want to go out and start all these businesses and create, and impact and all of that is great. That's all of us satisfying that craving.
Remember how I said we're made in the image of God who is a creator? Like, that's one of the coolest things that a human being can do is create. But even I carried the burden for so long that I have to be the hero. I have to be the white knight. I have to save all these hurting people, and I would even judge people or shame people who didn't seem to be rising that same level. And I've grown to realize that it's not our job to be the hero, it's not our job to be the judge, it's not our job to project shame, it's not our job to carry shame. Our job is to wake up in the morning, love God, and to love others. And as much as is within our power, tell that Hero's Journey that I just told to all the hurting people who need that hope. And at the end of the day, I think that's the most fulfilling thing that you can do with your life. Just love God and to love other people, and to give people that hope so they can realize they don't need to be the hero, and they also don't need to feel that shame. So, that's why I'm a Christian.
Matt: That's amazing, truly. I don't know if there can be anything else after that, but I'd really love to just ask you, when I had reached out to you months ago, I had been feeling more and more and more for the last many years that there's got to be something beyond that rat race that I was sort of trying to put my fingers on verbally just earlier on. There has to be something beyond that. It just can't be this rat race and monkey mind experience on Earth. And so, we had that phone call many, many months ago, and you recommended that I read the book “Soul Keeping.” So I did.
Ben: Yeah. John Ortberg.
Matt: And that was just amazing because I really started to embody the things that I was implying earlier. You know that it isn't going to matter what I have when I die. It's going to matter who I am, and who I became, and who I loved, and how I loved, and who I touched, and how I touched, and all of those things, and that's the same I think for everyone. So, that sort of basic knowledge and wisdom that he shared in that book was so beautiful, and I think that that's something that really everyone could benefit from so much, and I'm just starting to benefit from. I'm reading the Bible, but there's also so many other, and we began to chat about this last night briefly, and I mentioned that I'd like to ask you about it.
Kind of in closing the question really is how do you–with all of your experience and wisdom in these fields, and what you just shared is really beautiful, what can people do to really begin to embody this love and lifestyle? And to add to the question is, in the world today, you have so many places to start for increasing spiritual strength and our own energy and connection to God. So, I'm sort of asking a multifaceted question, not just pursuing the Bible and Christian God, but really the holistic spirituality. For example, things like breathwork that we practiced last night. I guess what I'm really asking is from all the different energy practices, where do you recommend people start to in their journey?
In breathwork, there's Dr. Barry Morguelan who you interviewed in his energy disciplines, and Joe Dispenza, and Bruce Lipton, and tons of different Indian and Chinese energy practices. And there are so many others, too. Where do someone begin? How do someone make that choice for themselves rather than getting overwhelmed by feeling like it's another FOMO, “I have to do breathwork and I have to do that, and this and that?” And how does that tie into in your mind, not only cultivating our own inner light, because that's one of the key parts of this light diet, but also connecting with the light of God, God as you see him?
Ben: Right, right. A lot of places we could go there, but here's the deal. When you talk about an author like John Ortberg, great author, wonderful books. That book “Soul Keeping,” fantastic. He highlights in that book how many of us are walking around, caring for our bodies, caring for our brains. And the one most important part of us, our soul, our spirit is neglected, shriveled, shrunk up, and not tended to because it is so easy to understand and to feel the immediate impact of fleshful activities. I feel really good after that workout. I have such energy after that cup of coffee or after that smoothie, that sex was amazing that we sometimes don't care for that part of us that's going to go on living forever and ever and ever, that spark that goes on for eternity after this body has faded after this brain has degraded.
And so, the question then becomes, well, okay, if I understand that my soul and my spirit is so important to care for, how do I actually care for that? Like, how do you actually care for your spirit as much as you'd care for your brain, or for your body. And there are some resources that I've found to be particularly helpful because if you look at physical health, I think that eating healthy and moving soundly are important, and I think that when stacked with light, earthing, grounding, heat, cold, water, and minerals, you're supporting yourself physically on a very profound level from a mitochondrial standpoint. And when we take that same approach to our spiritual lives, there are certain key activities that I think are just non-negotiables each day.
There is an author named Richard Foster. And Richard Foster has written a couple of wonderful books on the spiritual disciplines that were some of my favorites and my introduction to this idea that just like the physical disciplines of lifting, or cardio, or nutrition, or stretching, or mobility, or anything like that, there are spiritual disciplines. And they are things like fasting, gratitude, meditation, prayer, silence, solitude, worship, celebration, service. And there's a list of them. Richard Foster has I think eight or nine in his book. There's another book called “The Spiritual Disciplines Workbook” that I'm taking my family through right now that literally has, I think, close to 40 different spiritual disciplines, right? And we're in a new one every single week. Like, last weeks was presence with God. And I think the week before that, it was going on a pilgrimage.
And so, you could delve pretty deeply into these spiritual disciplines, but I think the very, very best place to start and things that move the dial the most for me are very, very simple. And that is a daily breathwork practice, typically combined with meditation and prayer. Okay. So, at least once a day, I'm ducking away, I'm doing some form of centering breathwork without a lot of distractions. And typically, that's starting and ending with prayer. And as part of the breathwork, there's meditation woven in. Meditation and breathwork are almost synonymous in a way.
I read my Bible at the beginning and at the end of the day, and that's another big one. That would be the spiritual discipline of study, just filling my mind in my head with those things that I know will feed my soul. So, we have meditation, prayer, breathwork, study, and then I would say the last three that are kind of like non-negotiables for me are a daily gratitude practice that's writing down one thing that I'm grateful for each day, and also sharing gratitude with the family in the evenings. The next would be relationships. Meaning, prioritizing family dinners, being with others, and just not being a lone wolf, not using, say, social media and digital devices as the primary means with which to communicate and connect with people.
And then, the last one would be worship. Meaning, songs, hymns, guitar, ukulele, what have you, but this idea of just making a joyful noise. And so, those are examples of spiritual disciplines that are woven into my own life. But yeah, I think that Richard Foster's book is really good, as far as like a systematized approach to learning each of these disciplines. That would be a really good place to start. I think it's called the “Celebration of Discipline.” You can always feel free to thumb through my library. You can even take a photo of some of the books if you want, but I have a whole massive library, and there's at least 10 books in there just on the spiritual disciplines alone. But kind of a long-winded answer, but those are a few places to start.
Matt: That's amazing. Well, thank you very much for coming on the podcast and sharing all these things. I think that, as you mentioned to me, it seems like people get to a certain point and some people ride the physical wave the whole way, but I doubt that people ride the physical pleasures throughout life without a tremendous amount of struggling, suffering, and a general sense of lack of some sort of purpose. So, when you expressed that to me that you feel even in the health community, that's sort of a place where many people aren't looking, it's just this routine and that routine, it really resonated with me and made me think, “Wow, I don't want to be neglecting my soul because it ultimately determines my life and who I am.” And some would argue how every single cell and atom in the body resonates.
Ben: Yeah. And if I could bring this full circle because I know we've talked about a lot, I think the happiest and the most fulfilled anybody is ever going to be is when they've honed down their purpose statement into that one single succinct statement that we talked about. What did you love to do when you're a kid? What put you in the zone now? And what are you naturally good at? You go forth, and you love God, and you love others, and you're very present with that purpose statement. As you do so, you stay physically fit and physically sound so you can care for this vessel that your insight is you can make maximum impact on this planet with good health span and good lifespan.
You feed your soul with these spiritual disciplines, gratitude, prayer, meditation, worship, silence, solitude, family, et cetera. And then, finally, and perhaps most importantly, you understand that it is so, so simple to connect with in a very deep and meaningful way, this Hero's Journey that is built into all of our DNA, and this is probably the greatest thing that you can do is you simply close your eyes and you say to God, “I believe, I believe that happened, I believe in magic, I believe in something I can't really explain with science, but I believe that you sent your son to die, and that all I need to do is cast all my shame, and suffering, and burdens on Christ, and then go forth and do the very best thing that I can with everything that God has put on my plate for that day.” And knowing that you're saved, and that you have no shame, and that you go on to eternal bliss afterwards no matter what happens here, it's just the coolest darn way to live that I can think of.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
In this special episode of the podcast, recorded live at Ben's house in Spokane, Washington, Ra Optics founder and light/circadian rhythm expert Matt Maruca interviews Ben Greenfield.
Ben takes you along his 8-year brick-and-mortar journey in the world of fitness and explains why he eventually switched into writing, speaking, consulting, and podcasting.
You'll learn more about Ben's experiences since starting the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast, what the world of podcasting offers now, what ancestral health is, whether Ben sees their small footprint making its way to the mainstream route anytime soon, why Ben recently began managing his daily information consumption through a “quality over quantity” perspective, Ben’s experiments with the magical butter machine and ketamine, the light diet in its spiritual form, how Ben created a name for himself in the fitness world, what fascinates Ben most about natural living, how we make the most impact on this planet, how outsourcing eliminates information overwhelm, spirituality through the lens of the hero’s journey, the idea of finding true fulfillment through spirituality, and much, much more!
In Ben's conversation with Matt, you'll discover:
-How Ben began the interview with Matt on a truly high note…07:15
- US Wellness Meats steaks (use code BEN to save 15%)
- Vasper machine
- Ben's Superfood Smoothie Recipe
- Barukas Nuts(use code BGF to save 15% off first order)
- ZEN Nasal Sprayproduced by Dr. John Lieurance (use code BEN to save 5%)
- Ketamine Nasal Spray
- Essentia Mattress
-The “light diet” in its spiritual form…12:40
- Diet to realign oneself with nature
-Who is Ben Greenfield?…14:15
- Born in North Idaho, parents from big cities wracked with very unhealthy lifestyles
- Raised to be creative, unconventional in thinking
- Developed a keen interest in the human body, physiology
- Accepted into six medical schools; opted to enter the job market in the medical field
- This led to a disillusionment with the Western medicine system
- Immersed in fitness world for 8+ years
- Got out of the personal training/gym owner role and began writing, podcasting, speaking around 2009
- Became known as an endurance, obstacle course racer
-Ben's podcasting and immersive journalist path over the last 12 years…27:45
- The fitness community is obsessed with diet and exercise
- Became more and more interested in ancestral health, evolutionary mismatches
- Personal protocols changed
- Changed understanding of what comprises true health
- Immersive journaling, self-experimentation
-Whether this small ancestral health footprint will go mainstream…32:30
- Paleo f(x)
- Ancestral Health Symposium
- Gold's Gymstill represents what fitness means to the mainstream
- Outside Magazine article: Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?
- Cyclic nature of human awareness and understanding of fitness
-What Ben thinks is the most fascinating part of “natural living”…40:50
- Human photosynthesis
- Chaga Mushroom Extract
- Methylene Blue
- Regenerateby Sayer Ji
- The Human Photosynthesisby Arturo Solis Herrera
-How to know where to put your focus in a world of information overload…47:15
- FOMO – always feeling like you're not taking in enough info
- Use the unique skill set and purpose you're born with to make an impact in this world
- The 4-Hour Work Weekby Tim Ferriss
- The One Thingby Gary Keller
- Entrepreneurs don't outsource enough right out the gate
- Taking on debt to hire an assistant is a prudent move
- If it's not a “hell yes,” it's a no
- Learning to fulfill your purpose, not just for the sake of learning
- Limitlessby Jim Quick
- Quality over quantity while reading or listening
-Why Ben is a Christian…1:09:45
- Christianity reflects the Hero's Journey
- Hugely popular movies and books resonate with the Hero's Journey
-Where to start your holistic path…1:26:50
- Soul Keepingby John Ortberg
- The Celebration of Disciplineby Richard Foster
- The Spiritual Disciplines Handbookby Adele Calhoun
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
- Daily breathwork practice, combined with meditationand prayer
- Study – reading the Bible at the beginning and at the end of the day
- Daily gratitude practice; writing down what I'm grateful for every day
- Relationships; prioritizing family; being with others
- Worship; songs, hymns
- Hone in on a purpose statement and feed your soul with…
- Embrace the Hero's Journeyfor your life
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Matt Maruca:
- Ra Optics(Use code BEN10 to save 10%)
- What Time Of Day Can You Eat A “Cheat Meal,” How Cold Can Make You Unstoppable, Lies We’ve Been Led To Believe About Sunlight & Much More!
– Podcast and articles:
- A New Style Of Meditation That Helps You To Stress Less & Accomplish More – The Emily Fletcher Podcast.
- The Ultimate Breathwork Ninja Guide: How To Banish Stress & Kiss High Cortisol Goodbye
- Sabbath Ramblings: You’re Not The Hero – The Dark Side Of The Hero’s Journey.
- Regenerateby Sayer Ji
- The Human Photosynthesisby Arturo Solis Herrera
- The 4-Hour Work Weekby Tim Ferriss
- The One Thingby Gary Keller
- Limitlessby Jim Quick
- Soul Keepingby John Ortberg
- The Celebration of Disciplineby Richard Foster
- The Spiritual Disciplines Handbookby Adele Calhoun
- Christian Gratitude Journal
- Spiritual Disciplines Journal
– Food, gear, and supplements:
- US Wellness Meats Steaks (use code BEN to save 15%)
- Ben's Superfood Smoothie Recipe
- Barukas Nuts(use code BGF to save 15% off first order)
- Essentia Mattress
- ZEN Nasal Spray(use code BEN to save 5%)
- Ketamine Nasal Spray
- Chaga Mushroom Extract
- Methylene Blue
– Other resources:
- Paleo FX
- Ancestral Health Symposium
- Gold's Gym
- Outside Magazine article: Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?
–Kion Immune: Kion Immune is a blend of two of the most-studied, clinically-proven nutrients for immune health: vitamin C and zinc. It may sound simple, but the truth is these two nutrients are essential when it comes to the immune system functioning properly. BGF listeners, receive a 10% discount on your order when you use discount code BEN10.
–Paleovalley Beef Sticks: 100% grass-fed AND grass-finished. Keto friendly and higher levels of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Receive a 15% discount on your order when you use my link.
–Ra Optics: Purchase a pair of Ra Optics Day and Night Lenses to optimize sleep quality, energy, levels, and health in the modern, electrically-lit world. Receive 10% off your order when you order through our link.
–Butcher Box: Delivers healthy 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork directly to your door on a monthly basis. All their products are humanely raised and NEVER given antibiotics or hormones.