[Transcript] – Alternatives To Alcohol & Plant Medicine, Growth Through Ayahuasca, A Shower Routine That Grows Your Brain, Is Eating Bugs A Mind-Control Experiment & More With Mike Cernovich.

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From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/mike-cernovich-podcast/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:10] Who is Mike Cernovich?

[00:03:19] Experience with Ayahuasca

[00:06:04] What's on the other side of fear?

[00:11:07] Is our era the era of increased distractibility?

[00:14:28] Smart drugs, nootropics, and micro-dosing with plant medicine

[00:27:18] Crazy Gorilla mindset morning routine

[00:39:45] A helmet-wearing controversy

[00:42:56] Mindfulness exercises when walking

[00:47:33] How does Mike deal with nasty comments on the Internet?

[00:52:42] Mike's “Eat bugs, live in a pod”

[00:57:32] Closing the Podcast

[01:00:19] End of Podcast

[01:00:42] Legal Disclaimer

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Michael:  You are confronted by superintelligences. Some people believe they're demons. Some people believe they're friendly spirits. Other people believe they're archetypes, apparitions of your mind. Jung wants to call it your own shadow. Everybody has their own take on it. Regardless of that, you're confronted with something far greater than what we think we are. That was one of my larger realizations of plant medicine is, “Okay, so whatever I think I am, I'm not that tough. I'm not really anything compared to whatever exists in this realm beyond our normal conscious processing.”

Ben:  Fitness, nutrition, biohacking, longevity, life optimization, spirituality, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Life Show. Are you ready to hack your life? Let's do this.

Alright, well, my guest today is Mike Cernovich. You pronounce it Cernovich, not Cernovich, right Mike?

Michael:  Right, or Cernovich, I guess, is the proper way, but we go with the Anglo colonization of it.

Ben:  Alright, well, I'm going to go with Cernovich. I think that sounds best. So, if you guys aren't familiar with Mike, he's pretty prolific on Twitter or X or whatever you want to call it now. And, he has some really cool kind of off-the-beaten-path discussions of life and culture. And, he also has a book he wrote several years ago called “Gorilla Mindset” that I actually read leading up to this podcast where he talks about culture and current affairs and how to live a better life. But, he's got some pretty cool tips in there that I'm hoping we get a chance to talk about today, as well as a really interesting idea he has about fear and what is on the other side of fear.

He produced the film on media propaganda called “Hoaxed“. It was a top 10 independent film for two weeks in a row, dominated the charts on Apple TV and iTunes, obviously a controversial topic, but Cernovich is a controversial guy. He was also, you might be familiar with his name behind this, instrumental in bringing the story of Jeffrey Epstein into popular consciousness. And, he filed a lawsuit to unseal hidden court files in a case that was involving Epstein. And, he has broken dozens of other stories of significant interest. And, as a result of all of this, he created a lot of controversy, not only on his Substack, which is fantastic, but also on Twitter where he has over a million followers.

And, we've interacted a few times on Twitter. This is the first time we've actually talked live on a podcast, but I'm looking forward to chatting with you, Mike. So, welcome to the show.

Michael:  Yeah, thanks. I read your stuff a very long time ago. And then, your controversial, depending on how you want to describe it, discussion of ayahuasca, I thought, was very cool and promoted another important conversation, which I follow.

Ben:  Oh, yeah, the idea of plant medicines. Yeah.

So, by the way, regarding the ayahuasca thing, is that something that you've messed around with much?

Michael:  Yeah. No, pretty extensively that's why when people call me controversial, I always find that interesting because I like controversy even in things that I disagree with or that I like. So, I've had positive experiences with plant medicines. And, when I read your articles, I read the books that you recommended. It didn't offend me or make me feel attacked that, “Oh, wow,” that they believe something about this that's completely negative and see it as detrimental. I wasn't offended by it even though I have maybe a different point of view. So, I always find it interesting that when people get angry when their own views are challenged when I'm constantly challenging my own views, and always promoting information that contradicts things that I've said, and then people can decide for themselves where they lie. 

Ben:  Yeah, totally. What was your experience with ayahuasca? Like? Yeah,

Michael:  I've had multiple and I've had different realizations through multiple encounters over about 10, 15 years. And, my experience was very transformative in terms of opening up my other senses and opening up first the realization of a spirit world that what we see here is clearly not it and not even probably the most interesting part of living. And then, you reliving experiences or reframing experiences not through the context of the mind but through the context of heart or feeling, emotion, whatever people want to describe it. So, it taught me a lot about being more of a compassionate person and being more of an empathetic person, even if that isn't always seem reflected in what I say or how I conduct myself.

Ben:  Yeah, I think I heard you interviewed by I believe it was Charlie Kirk. I feel like he jumped down your throat when you mentioned plant medicines or ayahuasca. Do you guys ever wind up having any more chats about that?

Michael:  A little bit. And, I talked to Alex Clark, who's also somebody who's part of that network, the Turning Point network. And, I didn't mind that because I understand that maybe the Judeo-Christian view or the Christian view is seen as pharmakeia and people could have religious objections to this. And, nothing like that offends me or bothers me.

Ben:  Is that something that's related to the Substack article that you have? I didn't get through the whole thing, but it's something about the other side of fear or conquering fear or breaking through to the other side or something like that. Was that related to your experience with Ayahuasca?

Michael:  Yeah, yeah, 100%. It was a meditation. So, it was a meditation, I guess, on fear, and real fear versus imaginary fear, and the way that fear holds us back in all areas of our life from making changes in life or developing spiritually from being vulnerable. Fear really is the nasty little demon that influences everything we do from when you're trying to start a business. “Oh, what if I fail? Well, people are going to laugh, customers are going to say no. What if I do this thing on the internet? People are going to make fun of me.” And, you list all these litanies of so-called fears and then you realize, well, first of all, those would be good problems to have. As you know, as you've been around this for a while, me too, the best thing that can happen to you is people making fun of you because you exist. Far more likely, nothing's going to happen to be honest.

Ben:  Right.

Michael:  Far more likely, it's going to be obscurity for a very long time, it's going to be a very long slog. And, I didn't come up with this coinage, other people have said it, but you always want to look at what's on the other side of that fear. And, you find that a lot of times what's on the other side of fear is the lack of belief in yourself, a lack of value in yourself, a lack of trust in yourself, a lack of trust in other people, a lot of it, of course, is imagination and stories that you've told yourself. And, we always want to be probing was on the other side of that because at least within the context of ayahuasca, and that's why I've read the books you've recommended and I read your article, I've talked to other people about it. You are confronted by superintelligences. Some people believe they're demons. Some people believe they're friendly spirits. Other people believe they're archetypes, apparitions of your mind. Jung wants to call it your own shadow. Everybody has their own take on it. Regardless of that, you're confronted with something far greater than what we think we are. That was one of my larger realizations of plant medicine is, “Okay, so whatever I think I am, I'm not that tough. I'm not really anything compared to whatever exists in this realm beyond our normal conscious processing.”

And, when you're in that situation it's quite terrifying, traumatically terrifying in a lot of ways. You're confronted maybe with your own death. And, in one case, I experienced what would be the entire cycle of a death in a near-death experience. For all practical purposes, I had died. And, when that happens, there's tremendous fear. And then, what do you do? What do you? Do you live in fear? Or, you say, let's let the fear pass. Let's see what's on the other side of fear. Let's see what the message is on the other side of fear. Let's try to see what the spirit is. And, that's actually something else I got out of ayahuasca is if you read my book, “Gorilla Mindset” from way back in the day, I still like it and I still stand by it, but it's very much about controlling your emotions in autoregulation, which are, I think, important skills. But, I've realized those are beginner-intermediate skills, and that as you really get into development, spiritual and emotional development, there's a lot to be said for, “Man, I'm really angry.” Okay, well, why don't I just go be in a room by myself assuming you have the time, and just sit with this anger, right? Why am I so afraid of being angry? Why do I not want to be angry? Why do I not want to feel this way? Why do I want to go eat a cookie, or an ice cream bar, or go drink coffee, or go tweet or go distract myself, or turn on the TV, or watch sports to distract myself from this feeling? And, I think that's because as men, we were never really taught, “Hey, man, just sit with it. It's okay. Just go in a quiet room by yourself or maybe listen to some music, drums, whatever, whatever your vibe is, and just sit with it, and let the waves flow and see where it takes you.” And, I've had a lot of realizations about where maybe certain feelings come from. And, that process began primarily through excursions into plant medicine.

Ben:  Do you think it's the fact that, well, let's say you use the example of men and anger, I suppose we could just also say human beings in general and our lack of ability or refinement of the skill to identify our emotions and to ask ourselves why we're experiencing those? Do you think that's a result of upbringing? You mentioned men not being taught to do something like that. Do you think it's also distractibility? Because I've thought about this a lot. I mean, I even recently heard someone I forget where, I believe it was in a podcast, talking about how back in the day if say you were some ancient hunter and you took a shot in an animal with your bow and arrow and missed, you'd have the next four to five hours to just sit there and dwell upon that and analyze your mistakes and process the emotions of that failure or disappointment. And nowadays, you can just move on to Netflix or Twitter or whatever the next primarily digital distraction is. Do you think it's an era of increased distractibility that might also be ripping us from being able to just sit with ourselves?

Michael:  Yeah, but it still links back to the original root cause. So, we are running from ourselves. That's something that I came away from understanding with the plant medicines is — I'll give you an example. I was really deep under and I was experiencing some really horrifying scenes with my eyes closed. I had the eye mask and then I said, “This is terrible.” I took the eye mask off to try to look and orientate myself to reality and I heard a voice say “You can't run from yourself. Stop running from yourself.” And, that's not something that I had ever thought about myself. Oh, maybe a lot of my ego-seeking activities are a way to distract myself from running from emotional vulnerability or running from trauma, which is, unfortunately, taking on too much of, it's being a little bit overused now, but running from pain maybe that we have from childhood. And, I think that the reason we do that as we get older because one, it's easier to distract yourself. But, two is we never learned the skill.

So, if you think back to childhood, especially with young kids–I remember as a kid, if a kid cried in my parents' generation, what a parent would say was, “I'll give you something to cry about,” right? “Stop crying or I'll really give you a reason to cry.” And, especially if you're a boy, that was sort of how you were raised. And, why? Right? Why? Why? What's the problem? What's the problem? Your kid's sad, your kid's going to cry? Why do you need to just make that stop or why do you need to tell them, “Hey, quit crying, quit making a scene, quit making noise, quit having emotions.” But, that was for the fall, I think, of parenting for most of modern times, and certainly was how I grew up and how my peers were raised.

Ben:  It's interesting because I think that a lot of that time spent in something like ayahuasca or plant medicine, in many cases in a somewhat sensory-deprived state sitting with yourself, I think it does result in some pretty incredible breakthroughs for people. And, I've experienced similar ego death and even full-on really truly thinking I'm dead and I've passed away and the emotions and breakthroughs that accompany that in my own past forays with plant medicine. But, despite me not even anticipating as going deep into this topic, yeah, I should probably link in the shownotes to the articles that I wrote about that. And, I believe that book that you mentioned was “Pharmakeia,” the book that got me thinking about, “Well, gosh, these things are opening us up to the spirit world that we got to be really careful with.” And now, primarily my use of a lot of those compounds involves microdosing for creativity or for mental enhancement or neurogenesis or neuroplasticity or the like. Have you messed around with that much, this whole realm of smart drugs or nootropics or microdosing with plant medicine or anything like that?

Michael:  I've always said for years that almost no one should think about ayahuasca, and almost everyone over a certain age should think about microdosing psilocybin. Once I got into microdosing, many years ago, all I thought was, “Why didn't I know about this my entire life?” I quit drinking alcohol years ago, but I never would have even felt the urge to drink alcohol, which is, I think, why a lot of people are quitting drinking. Because once you do find out what a real brain enhancement is, you don't want to dumb yourself down with liquor, you don't want to feed the ego via alcohol, which is primarily what that's doing is validating your ego. And, with microdosing, especially psilocybin, I view that as unless a doctor prohibited, said or the person's specific medical history prohibits it, that's something I can't imagine not doing. Whereas, I think with ayahuasca, I think people are getting a little too curious now. And, a lot of people who really have no business even thinking about it are making it seem like, “Oh, this is a cool experience. Woo, woo.” Everybody loves this, and not enough people tell the other side of it like you did, which is, “Hey, man, maybe you're talking to demons.” You ever think about that? Maybe think about that for a minute, maybe talk to your religious leader, if you're going to do it, maybe just don't run into it, or even someone like me who's more down the middle. And, I don't necessarily agree with everything in the books, but I do think that it's a tremendous undertaking. I remember the first time I did it many years ago, I prepared at least a month. And, for the last five days, I took off work and all I did was hiked, ate fruit, drink water, and all I could think of is like, “Why am I doing this? What's my intent? What am I doing going into this?” And, a lot of people aren't doing that. They're not even quitting drinking before doing it. They're not cutting off. They're not following even.

The [00:18:08] _____ are overhyped, I think, and there's a lot of mumbo jumbo around that. But, there are certain practices you should have, and people unfortunately are not really doing that. So then, they go in, whoa, they have this mind-blowing experience, maybe assuming it goes well. But then, they don't know how to integrate the experience because they didn't prepare for it. So, you might go into a saying, “This is what my intent is. This is what I'm focusing my intent on. Here's what I really wanted to see.” And, in my case, I had said, “I really want to just focus on how fear is holding me back.” And so, I'm kind of like, I'm focusing my intent on my fear. What am I afraid of because it was so fake? But, that's how fear tricks us is it's an emotion or a spirit. As I've gotten older, I'm less concerned with how people perceive me. I think fear is a spirit, which is as taught in religious contexts as well. I think it's an actual spirit. It tricks you because once you have gone through the wringer enough times, you think, “That's it? That's what I was worried about? That's what was holding me back? That was the big problem here?” And, it's laughable, but again, then the fear will resurface in other ways. Oh, life's good now, why would you take on this new challenge? Life is good because you go through multiple phases, right? You go through the phase where you're young, you don't have anything, you got to put your mark on the world. And, fear takes on a different meaning. “Oh, I'm afraid of failure, afraid of looking stupid, afraid that my friends will make fun of me. I'm afraid I'll have to go back home and live with my parents. They'll look down on me. But, I'm going to go through it anyway because I'm young man. That's what young men do, go out and conquer.” Great. 

But what a lot of people don't talk about is, “Okay, great, you succeed. Woo, woo, you're a success now.” And, it isn't like you're on Mount Olympus now and everything somehow changes. That's the biggest illusion that I had. And, I imagine you have a lot of people had is, “Oh, I've made it. Everything is happily ever after now like in a fairy tale.” No, no, now, you have a new set of fears. What if I lose it? Do I want to take a drastic action? Everything's good. Everything's good. Why take on this new challenge? And, that's where the fear takes a different kind of form and a different phase in life, but it's always there hounding you and haunting you.

Ben:  Yeah, I'm really glad you brought up that part about intentional time prior to engaging with something like say ayahuasca or psilocybin or something like that. I'm in the same boat, Mike. I always approach that stuff with a great deal of reverence. And again, despite me not really using those compounds and those types of doses or settings anymore, I would have weeks of Bible reading, prayer, soul searching, fasting from certain compounds, meat restriction, alcohol restriction, cannabis restriction, and basically total cleanup mentally and emotionally and biologically, followed by making sure the calendar was totally cleared for anywhere from three to seven days afterwards for integration, for journaling, for allowing new habits to become ingrained without the distractions that pull you back into what Napoleon Hill may call, that devilish hypnotic trance that we all get pulled back into once we become less aware or less mindful of where we're at based on just life's busyness.

So yeah, I totally agree and I'm glad you brought that up. I think that's one reason people get a so-called bad trip or bad journey is just that lack of integration and cleanup and a real seriousness and somber and reverence about the whole experience. But then, I mean, I think it's, it's kind of interesting that you also brought up the alcohol piece. And, I think it is true that a lot of people go into alcohol because they're even aware of all these other ways that you can spin the dials, socially lubricate, relax, and increase creativity in that relaxed state without necessarily having a couple of margaritas. And, when you look at the fact that there's the byproducts of acetaldehyde that you see built up with alcohol, which you can mitigate. I mean, there's things like milk thistle extract like dihydromyricetin or DHM is one really popular one a lot of people aren't aware of that works like gangbusters to digest acid aldehyde.

There's another one, that's a newer product. I actually just did a podcast on it. It's like a genetically engineered product or probiotic called ZBiotics that can work similarly. You're still potentially dealing with calories, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, et cetera. So, I mean, there's so many interesting alternatives. You talked about psilocybin, microdosing with that. I have a ton of friends now who literally when they go out instead of drinking alcohol, they're doing club soda and lemons and bitters, and they've got a microdose of psilocybin. And, I think that works pretty effectively for a lot of people who are looking for when it comes to alcohol. Alcohol also makes GABA. That's one reason why when you drink a bunch of alcohol and it wears off, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. So, once that GABA is out of your system from the alcohol, you wake up, like that's at 1:00 to 2:00 a.m. I had three beers when I was out and about wakeup time, that can be pretty annoying, but you can instead get a slow release of GABA.

One example of that would be there are GABA creams now that you can get and you can apply them right behind your vagus nerve by your upper jaw. There are GABA troches. There's one called TroCalm made by the company Troscriptions that works really well.  There's also a nootropics company. I think it's pretty cool. They have some pretty cool compounds. They're called Nootopia. And, one of their products called Upbeat literally gives you that same kind of surge and feel goodness and social lubrication and a GABA kind of not a flooding but it definitely increasing GABA. And, that one's called Upbeat made by the company Nootopia. And then, one other I think that's interesting, I've been experimenting with a little bit lately, that if you're a fan of microdosing with psilocybin, it's this new smart drug/nootropic company called WUKIYO. And, they have one product called Bliss that's a microdose of psilocybin, blended with all these other blood flow agents and neurogenesis enhancing compounds as just like one tiny little white capsule. And, that thing's pretty amazing.

I tell people now if they are interested in something like an ego dissolving type of what you might call a journey or that merging of left and right brain hemispheric activity or slight ego disillusion that you might be looking for via some kind of a breakthrough with ayahuasca or high dose psilocybin. Nowadays, most people I say, well, if you don't want to engage with some of the cautionary experiences, like entities or elements of the spirit world, et cetera, but you want something similar, I think ketamine is a decent option seems safe, it's synthetic. Some people don't like that. But, I've never had anybody experience like entity or weird spiritual activity with something like a ketamine journey. And then, the other thing is they kind of fly under the radar but there's a company down in Nashville, and it's called Clara Vita. And, it's basically this cocktail of smart drugs and ketamine and nootropics, and all sorts of stuff that you take the pills and capsules and an injection in your shoulder and then, if you want to call it this, journey for four or five hours. But, it's not, again, something that has the same spiritual dimension feel as something like ayahuasca or psilocybin. It's kind of clean, it's a little bit more in your head mental, but it's kind of like being on a smart drug and being kind of like laid out on ketamine all at the same time and you're recording the whole thing with a digital voice recorder. And so, I tell people, if you want to do a Peru-like ayahuasca experience without the potential baggage, I like that Clara Vita place down in Nashville.

So, there's all sorts of interesting rabbit holes we can dive down here, Mike. But, one of the first questions that I had written down that I wanted to ask you was whether you're still doing this crazy Gorilla Mindset morning routine that you talk about in your book that a few people in the internet have written articles about. It's like cold shower and counting and reciting and memorizing, but are you still doing something like that?

Michael:  The cold shower, unfortunately, went away because my water doesn't get cold enough where we ended up moving. And, the brain warm-up is when I'm in gear, 100% do the brain warm-up. And, I can tell when I don't do it because I haven't done it recently. And, that is one of the best ways to get your mind going, get your verbal dexterity going. And, especially what is interesting, and that's one of the things that I noticed about microdosing is once–so, for those who don't know, there's a whole brain warm-up in the book that I found in another book that I credited the other book for, obviously. And, part of it is you want to link a letter to a number, you want to think of different words on the alphabet. So, you go down like A, and you start off real simple like, “Okay, A, apple, B, butterfly, C, crystal, D, whatever.” And, you go down your vocabulary words until you start to get down, of course, X, Y, Z, which are harder. And, what you're doing is you're warming your brain up, the verbal part of your brain. People say hemisphere stuff isn't valid. I don't really, not really interested in that debate necessarily, but you're getting your mind working.

And then, what you'll notice on a microdose, especially if you stack it with lion's mane is there are words that you haven't used since high school and you think I didn't even know that I knew that word still as you're going through that warm-up because what you're also doing is you're doing an inventory of your vocabulary and you're realizing, “Oh, I've been saying the same ones for the past three days. I got to come up with a different one for B. I had to come with a different one for N. I need to come with a different one for O.” And then, you find with the lion's mane, I think they call this the Stamets stack. Paul Stamets, I think, is one of the people suggesting it. As you go, “Ah, there's a nice word. There's a nice word that I haven't even used.” And then, what's even stranger is then you can remember, “Oh, I remember where I was sitting in high school when I learned that word.” So, your mind, it's like a Marcel Proust book, “Remembrance of Things Past.” Your mind starts to take you back to these deep linkages to where I was sitting here in this desk and I remember that was my teacher and this is where the book was open. And, that's when I learned that word.

But, the microdosing, you're able to–because I know I've read some studies and people have their doubts about it, which is fine because it's not on me if people microdose or not. But, I've had so many experiences where I've been microdosing and had realizations that we're always there but they weren't accessible to me because my brain was on the current track. And that's, I guess, how I describe microdosing is. You get into a pattern of thought. Okay, I'm going to wake up. Kids. Because I got three kids. Okay, wake up. Kids, they got to be here at this time. Here's this. Practice this. Okay, this. Okay, this. And, you're so occupied all day as you have to be that you have to be to be an involved parent. And, the spouse, there is a lot of routine, and a lot of which just scutwork, but then your mind becomes so zeroed in on those areas that you forget how to shift. And then, with a microdose, it's just subtle. You don't even know what it says.

I think another misconception of microdose, people would take more than a microdose and then go, “Well, I'll never do that again.” Or, they'll take a microdose and say, “I didn't feel anything.” Yeah, yeah, you're not supposed to necessarily feel anything.

Ben:  Yeah, subperceptual, right?

Michael:  Right. But, if you're doing work involving especially verbal work or you're doing the brain warmup or you're playing little brain games or word puzzle games, you'll find yourself re-accessing vocabulary that had been long since forgotten. And then, as you do that over the years, you'll start to have these trippy flashbacks where you'll remember where you were when you learned something specific.

Ben:  I would imagine I'd certainly get to a point at which I quit using the word “xylophone” every time I got to X and come up with something better. It probably be a pretty good way to become more proficient in scrabble, I suppose, as well if you did this warmup each morning, but my notes, just to clarify for people listening, and of course, I'll link to Mike's book, “Gorilla Mindset” in the shownotes, which are going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Cernovich, BenGreenfieldLife.com/C-E-R-N-O-V-I-C-H. So, I'll link to his book “Gorilla Mindset,” but my notes are you get in a cold shower or you do a hot cold contrast shower if you just don't have the nuts for the cold and you count backwards from 100 to zero and you're trying to go fast.

And, the next thing you do like Mike just said you find a noun that fits each letter of the alphabet, A through Z, and you imagine some type of word or you say some type of word related to each of those letters and then you say 10 female names out loud and you can't repeat the names, then you say 10 male names out loud and you can't repeat the names. And then, you close your eyes and you take 10 deep breaths preferably trying not to huff in cold shower water. And, according to what you wrote in the book, Mike, I think it's only 10 minutes or less to go through that. I haven't actually done it yet. I'm very interested in doing it and just seeing related to what you were talking about with the Stamets stack, that mix of lion's mane and niacin and psilocybin, how it feels as far as activating my brain and how it might even feel if I were to take a stack like that which it appears there's some evidence could increase neuroplasticity or back to that controversial topic you brought up, activation of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

And, by the way, I think that's interesting because I think some people are a little bit more left-brained analytical, some people a little bit more right-brained creative. And, I do think that you can train yourself to use both regions of the brain simultaneously a little bit better. And, I mean, you even look at sports that lend themselves well to anti-aging or longevity or even staving off of Alzheimer's and dementia. And, the working theory here behind these sports, I think Dr. Daniel Amen has talked about this a little bit, by the way, a pretty cool brain researcher with the Amen Clinic is that sports like ping pong, tennis, pickleball and generally racket sports and then also the sport of swimming both help with longevity because both of those involve a lot of left and right brain hemispheric activity, meaning tennis, you're swinging, you're moving, you're engaging in multiple patterns and you're kind of playing chess at the same time, and then swimming, you're using left arm, right leg, right arm, left leg, certain breathing patterns and that also would cause for some of these merging of the hemispheres of the brain, so to speak, or at least using different brain regions simultaneously. But, is that the kind of controversy you were talking about when you mentioned the hemispheric activity research or the questionable idea behind that?

Michael:  Right, exactly, because there's always people who listen to stuff like this and they'll be in the comments, so you need a source for that. It's like, “Bro, we know there's controversy. We get it.” Not everybody agrees, which is why frankly it doesn't bother me because most of what research is turning up is rediscovering ancestral knowledge of what people know.

And yeah, adding to your list like outdoor cycling other than the risk of getting hit by a car is the same way because you're engaging in 3D space. And, that's because for me I definitely fall into the left-brain person. I'm wrapped up in my mind, highly introverted. I'm the kind of person who before I had children and stuff, this happened to me multiple times where I would be by myself for so long that I would go to order coffee or something and I would forget how to talk. I would try to order from the coffee, “Wait, wait, I want coffee” because I can be with myself in silence forever. And, in some ways, that strength because most people can't do that but that also makes me bored, myopic, self-involved, you sitting with yourself for too long. There's an expression, do the work, which I like, we all need to do the work, but that can unravel and become its own form of self-imposed trauma because you spend too much time with yourself. And then, you can find stuff wrong with yourself all day and nitpick yourself all day and drive yourself crazy.

So, for me though, yeah, I'm very left-brained, verbal, and had to, over the years, work harder to get in 3D space because it was even the same thing. When I trained in jiu-jitsu, mediocre, any kind of sports, I played sports, I was a stronger guy because I lifted and especially a lot of people didn't lift. But, nobody thought that I had unique athletic talent or even being inside your body, which I think is another controversial concept unless you're an athlete, in which case you're like, “Duh.” The idea that people like me, I don't live really inside my body, I have to think and sort of tell my body what to do. “Okay, body, we need to get up and we need to kind of walk around and we need to kind of move.” And, if you try to show me an athletic movement, I have to think about it. What does that mean? I have to put into words. Whereas, a natural athlete will watch you swing a tennis racket and they'll grab the racket and they'll just swing it or they'll hear music and they want to dance. 

So, my younger daughter, for example, she's very lives in her body. So, the music turns on and she jumps and she's dancing. And, I'm kind of jealous in a way because she's so in tune with different frequencies that I'm not, which was with me, even as a kid as a small kid, music would go on and the other kids would start dancing. And, I thought, I don't get it. You're first grade or whatever and the teacher puts on a record album and the kids are getting up and running around and I'm sitting at my desk thinking, “What are they doing? I don't understand this. I don't get it. Okay, I guess I'll stand up and move my arms around a little bit.” That's how wrapped up in my own head, I guess, I am naturally.

Ben:  Yeah, I don't think it's any secret that people who are highly intellectual tend to be often somewhat spastic when it comes to body or spatial awareness. They're not the first people who are doing front flips on the trampoline or even learning a dance move as rapidly as they're more body-aware peers. Of course, the trade-off there is that you do tend to have a little bit better intellectual firepower it seems. I know I'm stereotyping between the meathead jock and perhaps the hyper-intellectualized, I don't know, cross-country runner, but I think there is something to that.

It's interesting that you said that about cycling, by the way, because I've seen some of that data on cycling and longevity or cycling and intellect, and I've always wondered if it's a chicken or an egg thing, because cycling is an expensive sport with the carbon bikes and the nice shoes and the cool Arrow helmets and maybe attracts a slightly higher income demographic of executives who like to ride bikes together and chat about business kind of similar to golf. But then, at the same time, I used to race back when I went to University of Idaho, obviously did a lot of Iron Man Triathlon and racing with that, and there is a lot as far as reaction time, as far as awareness of your gearing, as far as looking ahead and anticipation. So, I would imagine there is a little bit of a brain training effect. There is, of course, as you alluded to the head injury potential. 

It's kind of funny, total rabbit hole, Mike, but I was reading a study a few weeks ago where they looked at cyclists who wore helmets compared to cyclists who were helmetless. And, while you'd assume that the former is probably the least intelligent way to ride a bike, they actually found that the attitude of drivers in terms of the areas of the brain that lit up in drivers who saw the cyclist wearing helmets showed far less activity in the human recognition regions. Meaning, when you wear a helmet, you look less personal and less human to a driver, thus dictating that perhaps if you wanted a driver to avoid and swerve at all costs to keep from hitting you or pay a lot of attention of this human coming down the road, you could not wear a helmet. I'm not advising that, but at least it's interesting to think about.

Michael:  Yeah, I've seen those debates on the cycling forums too and I find it interesting because I think there was one, it was a ride-share company maybe, the details that kind of got in trouble because they had read that research and they didn't include helmets with their bikes and then that caused a big controversy among cyclists. And yeah, because you see the logic both ways and there is a sense that a person on a bike is robotic. All you see is the little green and you don't realize there's a brain under there. So, you have to weigh the risk of you falling down and hitting your head without a helmet in which case you're done so versus it's usually cars that are going to put you in that position in the first place. And, it's a difficult, difficult choice either way, but that's why I don't do any road cycling myself because I see how drivers treat cyclists on the road. And, I mean, if you read what people are saying on the internet, it's pretty gruesome stuff. So, it's one thing I would like to do is do outdoor road cycling, but I definitely don't want to risk my brain to do it.

Ben:  Yeah, I still do quite a bit of commuting and road cycling, but I'm absolutely in camp helmet. Of course, walking is a safer activity arguably for the chronic repetitive motion, a low-level zone two cardio type of approach.

And, you talk about walking in your book and how much you pair that to mindfulness and how critical it can be to forming increased mindfulness. Are you still doing a lot as far as mind-muscle connection and certain mindfulness exercises that you do when you walk?

Michael:  Oh, yeah, more than ever. So, walks are for me–because when I wrote the book, phones weren't that as cool as they are now, there's just much less to do. So, I did “Gorilla Mindset” 2015, and back then, you had some primitive Instagram app, a little bit on Twitter but it wasn't — The distractibility factor was much lower back then. Nobody was talking about cell phone addiction in 2015 or almost no one was. So now, especially, yeah, it's cell phone-free zone as long as I can, three hours is a good day if I can get those in which is harder with the kids making space. But yeah, the mindfulness element of it was and remains is just hearing the sounds of your shoes on the ground. Because I have these hiking trails that I go to and just click, click, click, click, click and it forms this sort of routine. And then, as that's happening, I'm not necessarily trying to direct my thought, although sometimes I am. 

I guess the thing I like about walking while I've always been obsessed with it for 25 years or whatever and especially as you get older and it's harder to recover from those intervals, it's a lot harder to recover from hill sprints at 46 than when I wrote “Gorilla Mindset” or when I was 32 or whatever as you want to get as much walking in is if you have a problem, if you're mad at your wife, put your phone down take a walk. You probably won't be mad by the end of the walk. Probably not. So, you're having a bad day, go take a walk. You're having a business problem, just walk and think about it and dialogue with yourself and interrogate the situation, look at it from all angles, and reflect on it. And then, the pure mindfulness, the stillness is another aspect and you can have all of the above sometimes in the same walk where it's like calm being wound up, you got a bad call or something happened and you start walking and you're a little pissy. Finally, after 20 minutes, 30 minutes maybe, you've calm down a little bit, you're a little bit sober now. And then, the last latter part of it, you're in a state of walking meditation and walking mindfulness and lack of judgment, total perception, everything's calm. And then, you're like, “Where'd the time go? I didn't even.” It's almost like when you've been on a long road trip driving and you forget that you've been driving for an hour and you get home and think, “How did I get home? Did I just zombie out that much?”

Ben:  Yeah. I think I was probably maybe 38 or 39 when I had that light bulb moment that I really liked walking a lot more than I liked running, and I felt just as good afterwards with far fewer injuries or aches or pains. So, I'm now on the 10,000 steps a day bandwagon and sometimes hit up to 20,000. I'm walking here while I'm talking to you during the podcast and I don't do as much silent walking as you do even though I do have this phrase if my wife and I do have a disagreement or if I'm going through a difficult time emotionally is that I pray on it, I walk on it and I sleep on it. And, if I can do all three of those when I'm in an emotionally or spiritually or mentally difficult situation, it helps a ton. I walk on it, I sleep on it and I pray on it. But, when I walk a lot of times, I'll use little 5-pound hand weights. I like to use a weighted vest. Sometimes I'll use a breath restrictor device like the Relaxator is a good one to teach myself to how to nasal breathe and to get some inspiratory and expiratory muscle training. I'll sometimes drop and do calisthenics like I have this one walk by my house where there's telephone poles every four minutes or so. And so, I drop and do 20 push-ups every telephone pole. So, I'm constantly mixing things up when I walk. But yeah, I mean, it's fantastic especially for the catharsis type of effect that you were alluding to.

And, I'm just curious for you, Mike. You got to have people who piss you off on the Internet or who troll you or say bad things about you. I know that you're probably not doing things right in life if somebody on the Internet isn't saying something bad about you, but how do you deal with that emotionally with as prolific as you are on Twitter and all these controversial topics that you dive into? What do you do about the nasty comments and the trolls and people saying bad things about you?

Michael:  There are a number of things. Some tied in a higher space of mine and then some in a lower. And, depending on my mood, I vacillate between the two of them. So, when I'm in a good space and higher vibrating, then I just think, you know what, I was that person. At one point, I was a young man uncertain about life, maybe a little bit mad at the world, maybe mad at myself and I would read something and I would want to demonstrate that I'm smart or impose my imagined power on this person. And, that was me, man. I'm getting karma payback for me. I was a reply guy. Now, I have reply guys after me. How am I going to judge that person when I'm just getting back what I put in and then, of course, when the worst side of me, the lower side of me comes out. I mean you guys haven't done anything in your life. How dare you even talk to me this way? Which is I don't like that part of myself when it surfaces, but occasionally it does which I'll look at some and I'll think, “What do you think that you have to tell me? Where in your mind does that register?” Because although I certainly have a lot of opinions on things, if you check your notifications, Mike Cernovich has never told Ben Greenfield how to do an Iron Man Triathlon because that would be the stupidest thing in the world that I could ever–right, it would just be stupid if I'm, “Oh, I can't believe you're doing an 80/20 blah, blah, blah.” And, imagine I just start typing, “Your training is,” you would think, “Mike, you're out of your mind here. You've never done a triathlon. You don't know what you're talking about. What are you doing?” And, that's often the case with people who are interjecting on things. It would be like somebody telling you how to do a triathlon and you think, “Oh, man, you've never given this issue any thought at all.” And, it could be a little bit annoying sometimes, but I've been through the ringer so many times.

And then, especially with plant medicine journeys and everything, you realize how lost people are. That's another thing I guess I took from the plants is getting over myself, which again people might not always perceive it that way based on my writing style, which has a certain kind of punch to it because a lot of people don't understand that there's a way to get a message out. And, that's also probably why it doesn't really bother me when people yell at me as much on the internet because I understand that what they see is an avatar and not reality. They see a very punchy point of view where you might not even be sure what I'm saying and you're wondering if I'm implying something that I'm not implying it and whose side are you on and what are you really getting at. And, I know that that's what you have to do to penetrate the thought bubble and to provoke a conversation. But, I know that that's not my heart. I know when I insult someone who insults me, I'm not doing that maliciously, that's just kind of part of the show. It's part of the show. And, having the spectacle is in a lot of ways what brings people to conversations like this, which is more real like what's the real me. This conversation is in so far as there's a real you that exists when you're engaging with other people in a social manner because there's always going to be aspects of front-facing your best self but to the extent there's a real me, it would be this conversation. It wouldn't be a one-dimensional kind of rant occasion. Although we do have a lot more vulnerable topics, I guess, on Twitter too. So, that's not necessarily fair. But, even the nuance that you're going to hear in this podcast is not the way you write because that's not effective writing style, especially for short form.

So, I just have to understand and charge it to the game that people are going to misunderstand me and people are going to believe things about me that aren't really true. And, you know what, that's fine. That's the other side of the energy. I'm putting out an energy and I realize that I'm doing it for a good reason for a good cause to try to help my country and try to help humanity and people are going to misinterpret it and code it a certain way. And, you have to love people enough to know that they're going to do that and accept it.

Ben:  Yeah, I'm glad you decided not to be the fake you on this podcast, Mike.

Just in the spirit of perhaps generating even more mean comments for you, maybe in the shownotes for this show, I did notice you tweeted out and we do have a lot of people who listen who are interested in nutrition, so I figured I'd ask you about this. You tweeted “Eat bugs, live in a pod.” What exactly did you mean by that?

Michael:  I think that's why I'm good at Twitter because what does that even mean? There's so many different layers of it. But, that goes to a number of memes which, the World Economic Forum, there's an organization that's kind of a networking group where all the rich people get together and they talk about the agenda for humanity. And, they do this in open even though that's called conspiracy theory. And, in one promotional video, they said, “Well, you will own nothing and you will be happy.” And, people of course most of your people are pretty awake and they understand this kind of stuff, but when you're in the world of people who aren't awake, they would tell you that's not true. That video is not real. Okay. Okay, it is. They deleted it once people found it, began discussing and it was deleted, but they said, “You will own nothing and you'll be happy.” But, of course, that doesn't include them, they're going to own everything. But you, you're going to own nothing and you're going to accept it. And, that's where the pod comes in where everybody can kind of sleep in pods. And, the equivalent being in a some kind of weird low-security prison where everyone's in a pod and you get your daily serving of bugs because they're anti-meat, they don't want people eating meat, they want people eating crickets and bugs. They want people eating bugs and they push that.

What was that movie, “Soylent Green” or?

Ben:   Yeah, “Soylent Green.” Yeah.

Michael:  Right. So, that's been rebranded as bugs. So, the meme, I guess, would be almost of a demarcation of a world view is, are you going to be a bug man, which is another meme. And, the bug man is the kind of person who doesn't aspire to any kind of heroism, doesn't aspire to anything beyond being in his pod, eating his cricket chow, playing video games, maybe has a VR headset watching pornography. And, that's the extent of his existence. It's as if he had never really lived. And, that I think is the zeitgeist that we're fighting against.

Ben:  If I would have tweeted that, I probably would have said something like “Eat beyond burger, live in a pod,” mostly because I've had some damn tasty cricket protein powders and cricket protein bars sent up my way in the past. And, even though we don't actually have, thank God, a cricket or insect-based protein sponsor for this podcast episode that we just lost, I think bugs can actually be pretty cool. I've done some cool cooking with crickets and grasshoppers and bugs and the like. But, you're right, engineered, highly processed, highly palatable food that keeps people living in boxes, traveling in boxes, working in boxes, and in their constant as Michael Easter says in his book “Comfort Crisis” certainly lends itself well to people being more controllable or at least less adventurous. If you handed everybody a bow and told them they needed to secure their own protein, you'd see a lot of people growing in a lot of new ways and probably a lot of misplaced arrows randomly getting scattered around the neighborhood.

Michael:  Yeah, the cricket thing is funny because I remember that startup that was a cricket protein bar back in maybe 2011 or '12 and they were good. So, I've eaten plenty of crickets and people would be lucky. That's why I guess it's a funny meme because that's what makes it a meme is it isn't always literally true, it's a broader discussion. People will be lucky if we're getting crickets. You're more likely to get the soup of highly processed canola oil with a soybean or something. That's the chow you're going to be getting. So, there might come a day when you're lucky if you're getting cricket protein instead of this swill.

Ben:  Yeah. Well, maybe I will try to hunt down a good cricket protein sponsor for this episode. I forgot the name of that one that you mentioned, but yeah, I used to go to this event called Paleo f(x) in Austin. And, increasingly over the years, it seemed there was more and more I think it's called etymology. I get etymology and entomology mixed up. Anyways, the eating of insects seem to be quite popular because it's very primal and ancestral.

Hey, Mike, where's the best place for people to follow you? Is it Twitter or actually I should ask you this, do you call it X or do you call it Twitter? Million-dollar question, most important question of the show.

Michael:  Well, I call it Twitter, but to try to push the name change, I do call it Exxon. I do call it X whenever possible because if Elon put up that amount of money to protecting or fend free speech and he wants it to be called X, the least that I can do as a mere mortal is call it X as well. So, I do try to be disciplined in calling it a post instead of a tweet and X instead of Twitter. And hopefully, we can push that language forward. I think the Substack, MikeCernovich.substack.com is a good place to start because it's a little bit more longer form, a little bit more nuanced. Reading my Twitter if you've never read it can be a pretty jarring experience. I don't recommend it for a first impression.

Ben:  I've got some brave and courageous listeners. They can give it a try.

Michael:  If you go to my Twitter, wait a couple days and you'll see that there's a vibe. You can't just jump in on one. And, that's the biggest mistake people, I think, make, which is also why I can't take it personally when people make certain assumptions about me is if you only read one tweet, you think, “What? What is this? This is an insane person and I don't even know what I'm doing here.” But, as you read more, you go, “Oh, there's kind of a flow to it. Alright. Okay, okay, okay, I get it. He's still an insane person, but there's at least a methodology to what he's doing and it does kind of makes sense. And now, I at least understand it a little bit.” 

Ben:  Yeah. Well, I dig following you. You've got some interesting takes and I agree with much of what you say on there, actually. So, I'll link to your X profile in the shownotes if folks go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Cernovich, C-E-R-N-O-V-I-C-H. I'll also link to Mike's Substack and this book “Gorilla Mindset” even though like Mike mentioned, it's a few years old and he's even grown since he wrote the book to perhaps being a little bit less programmed with each and every part of the day and kind of more expansive in terms of self-introspection. I think that the book's a handy little read. I just got it off Kindle and read in a couple of days last week. There's some cool tips in there. So, feel free to check that out as well.

And Mike, thanks for joining me, man. I'm glad we were able to connect.

Michael:  My pleasure. Glad it was able to happen. Thank you.

Ben:  Alright, folks, I'm Ben Greenfield along with the great Mike Cernovich signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

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Michael Cernovich, a luminary in the realms of journalism, literature, and filmmaking, has consistently piqued my interest through our Twitter connection, weaving unconventional discussions on life and culture. In 2015, Cernovich left an indelible mark on the self-improvement landscape with his best-selling opus, Gorilla Mindset, a guide illuminating the path to a superior existence. His written works, a tapestry of cultural exploration and a roadmap to a more fulfilling life, reflect a profound emphasis on confronting the unknown, as encapsulated in the question, “What lies beyond fear?”

His cinematic exploration, Hoaxed, a riveting exposé on media propaganda, achieved unprecedented success, reigning as a top 10 independent film on Apple TV and iTunes for consecutive weeks. However, its abrupt banishment from Amazon remains a testament to the provocative nature of his work.

Cernovich's impact on public awareness is undeniable, notably in thrusting the Jeffrey Epstein saga into the limelight through a tenacious legal pursuit, unsealing concealed court files and reshaping the narrative. His journalistic prowess extends to the revelation of a powerful Congressman's secret settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit, triggering the dignitary's resignation.

In the digital realm, Cernovich's narrative unfolds on Substack, where he delves into the complexities of parenting, seamlessly blending political discourse with insights on mental health, fitness, trauma, and the transformative power of plant medicines. On the Twitter stage, he commands a legion of over a million followers, oscillating between the intricacies of political subjects and the ethereal controversies surrounding ayahuasca.

Beyond the confines of the written word, Cernovich's philanthropic spirit shines through his contributions and fundraising efforts for a veterans' charity, pioneering solutions for PTSD and addiction through the exploration of ibogaine.

In the sacred domains of family, Cernovich is not just a storyteller but a devoted husband and father, orchestrating the harmonious balance of life with three children and eagerly anticipating a fourth. His journey, an exploration of the human experience, resonates through the corridors of culture, challenging norms, and inviting us to confront the uncharted territories of our own existence.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-Mike Cernovich…06:06

-His experience with Ayahuasca…08:11

-What’s on the other side of fear…11:00

  • Substack article — “The Fear” — a meditation on fear and how fear holds you back
  • Fear is the nasty little demon that influences everything you do
  • A look at what's on the other side of that fear is a lack of:
    • Believing in yourself
    • Valuing yourself
    • Trusting yourself
    • Trusting other people
  • A lot of it is the imagination and stories that you've told yourself
  • Plant medicine brings you knowledge and helps you realize where certain feelings come from

-Living in the era of increased distractibility…16:02

-Smart drugs, nootropics, and micro-dosing with plant medicine…20:33

-Crazy Gorilla mindset morning routine…32:19

-Helmet-wearing controversy…47:46

-Mindfulness exercises when walking…50:58

  • Hearing the sounds of your shoes on the ground
  • If you have a problem, go for a walk
    • You will calm down and get into a state of walking meditation
  • Ben tries to do 10,000 steps a day

-Dealing with nasty comments on the Internet…55:34

  • Tries to understand the person that is nasty to him
    • He used to be that guy in the past
  • Sometimes he gets annoyed at people who comment on an issue they don't know anything about
  • Learning to get over himself
  • On the Internet, people see an avatar, not the reality
  • Having the spectacle brings people to conversation

-Mike’s “Eat bugs, live in a pod” tweet…1:00:51

-And much more…

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Resources from this episode:

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