December 21, 2019
[00:02:04] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:30] What makes green tea special
[00:06:29] Low or No Cost Natural Biohacks
[00:15:15] Ben Greenfield’s Morning Meditation Routine
[00:21:07] Hunting Zen And Interdependence with Our Fellow Man
[00:30:03] Podcast Sponsors
[00:32:22] cont. Hunting Zen and interdependence with our fellow man
[00:36:14] Love as The Greatest Currency
[00:40:06] The Two “Mountains” In Our Lives
[00:45:48] Practices that build indomitable connectedness in your family
[00:57:53] Closing the Podcast
[01:00:26] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
He's like, “Thank you,” and that feeling washed over me. Okay. We're all interdependent humans. And then I turned around, just had to sprint back down to a coffee shop to make sure the bicycle was still there. It is a mountain that we climb with others. It's a mountain where we discover interdependence, and community, and human primal urge for connection and relationships.
Aaron: What do you think that has been most pivotal for you to start to recognize that?
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
So, I was recently in Venice Beach, California and I jetted up the road through Santa Monica to go visit my buddy, Aaron Alexander. He's quite an interesting character. He's got like biomeds and bodywork tools literate all over his living room, this kind of like ghetto ice bath freezer in his backyard that he climbs in there and shiver the ass off inside with the sauna across from that, a bunch of like bongo drums and musical instruments. It's kind of crazy. It's not creepy, but crazy. And we recorded a podcast when I was there. We did breathwork before the podcast at an ice plunge. I think he may have been shooting his bow back there somewhere at some point because there were arrows and bows. And yeah, interesting guy. So, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/align, that's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/A-L-I-G-N, that is where you can get all the show notes for everything that Aaron and I talk, including his new book, which is actually really great. It's kind of like a toolbox for realigning your body. So, I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well. It just came out.
Now, what else just came out is the Kion Fasting Challenge we just launched. I know there's a lot of conflicting information out there between keto, and carnivore, and paleo, and vegan, and pegan, and every other diet in the planet, but there was one thing that every health expert agrees upon. There is some benefit to some element of fasting and we have created a complete manual at Kion that guides you through all things fasting. It's absolutely free. All the different forms of fasting out there from ADF to IGF to IBB to GFZ, all the fasts are in there.
And we're also doing an annual five-day fasting challenge. Last year, we had thousands and thousands and thousands of people join hands and not eat, or do any method of fasting. Many people do an intermittent fasting to like water fast for days, like you choose your own adventure, but it's all supported by Kion and it starts at a perfect time of year, January 6th. So, you go to getkion.com/fasting, getK-I-O-N.com/fasting to get your hands on that fasting manual and join me and a whole bunch of cats in this fasting challenge.
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What kind of tea are we drinking? What is this?
Aaron: This is some green tea from–you probably know the guy. Do you know Teedragon, Ron Teeguarden? Teedragon, that was incorrect.
Ben: Green tea makes me nauseous.
Aaron: Oh, perfect.
Ben: Yeah. This will be a great bump. Healer's tea, dragon tea.
Aaron: I'm glad that we're starting off.
Ben: What makes this really good green tea?
Aaron: You know, I would like to learn more about green tea out. That's why I have you here is ask you questions about things of that nature.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I mean, the primary most research component is the EGCG, the epigallogimicatechins, something like.
Aaron: I feel like you're making that up.
Ben: I was somewhat close. It's epigallocatechin something, EGCG is far easier, however, and that's the potent antioxidant. But this stuff also has goji berry, schizandra, which is amazing. That's a really good adaptogen.
Aaron: Yeah. With the name [00:05:31] ______.
Ben: Schizandra also. I was having dinner with someone a couple weeks ago and they informed me that one of the best things you could do for your sperm and your fertility is to regularly consume schizandra. So, I suppose the opposite could be true as well. Probably the most potent contraceptive is to never take schizandra.
Aaron: I feel like that's going to be an ongoing thing, like every six months to a year, there's a new–
Ben: A new something that helps [00:05:57] ______.
Aaron: New something that helps you, your sperm.
Ben: Yup. And Great Salt Lake trace minerals. Wow. It's kind of like east meets west. They got salt from Utah and green tea from Japan.
Aaron: Yeah. We got the whole thing.
Ben: Also known as Honeymooners Tea for those engaged in frequent sexual activity.
Aaron: That's why I brought it out, man.
Ben: How cool.
Aaron: We were just nude —
Ben: We were just —
Aaron: –[00:06:20] ______ minutes ago.
Ben: Your heart-shaped cold pool plunge. I suppose since we video recorded it that it's likely that folks listening in are going to somehow get their hands on that video that we did, but we did a breath-up before we got in the cold pool, and I'm glad we did that because a lot of people don't realize how much easier cold thermogenesis is after you've done that breath-up. You were kind of the leader on that, but it's basically those 30 breaths, those 30 kind of like–and then to finish with the exhale.
The cool thing is the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, right? So, you don't have that harsh mammalian dive reflex when you get in the cold pool in that sharp intake of breath. When you get in, you feel as though you have this peace and calm, so you don't have that reaction to the cold. And then from a physiological standpoint, you get that nitric oxide release, which is why some people get a little bit lightheaded, not only breathing off the CO2 but that opening up of all the blood vessels that if you're not careful can actually cause you to pass out.
Aaron: Yeah. Then with the nitric oxide release, the other thing that's interesting in that is just doing something as simple as humming. That's been shown, I think it's like 20 times increase the nitric oxide production in your bloodstream, and then beyond that is just generally breathing through your nose.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, which is cool. All this stuff stacks because at the same time that you're doing humming or chanting, or singing, or even gargling, you activate the vagus nerve, you increase your vagal nerve tone, which further feeds into that parasympathetic activation. So, it's almost as though you are inducing stress resilience before you get into something that is mildly stressful like cold.
Aaron: Yeah. It's amazing to me how many of these beneficial variables that we have access to that we completely bypass throughout the day. I think I personally feel like I'm almost–can be addicted to the stress state. And then we have those brief moments, typically someone–in this case, it's like I usually start out making fun of it and being silly about it, then afterwards, it's always like, “Wow. I'm so glad that we did that.”
Ben: Yeah. The same could be said of sunlight, right?
Ben: And like the growing body of research on sunlights. I was looking at one study today on insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation in response to sunlight and the shift in what would be called metabolic flexibility or substrate utilization. Meaning that you would ideally want your cells to very efficiently shift from glucose utilization to fatty acid utilization in the same way that you would want your heart to be able to respond to cues from the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, right?
That is the definition really of increased heart rate variability or good vagal nerve tone is the ability of the heart to respond in a very precise manner to input from sympathetic and parasympathetic and how that innervates the heart via the pacemaker of the heart, the sinoatrial node. And in the same way, you want your cells to be able to shift very efficiently from glucose to fatty acid utilization. A lot of people think you should just be in a state of ketosis, pure fatty acid utilization all the time, but that's not necessarily the case. You want to shift from carbohydrate to fat utilization depending on whether you need to quickly burst or sprint or climb a flight of stairs to going back into fatty acid utilization when you're sitting at your desk so to speak.
Sunlight though is a cue for increasing that metabolic flexibility. You can increase your ability to be able to utilize these different substrates if you're getting light exposure. And of course, there are tons of benefits that I'm sure people listening in have heard from the sun from the vitamin D activation to the mild cellular resilience effect you get from the UVA and the UVB radiation, to the nitric oxide, to the activation of the–there's the reason a lot of people use those infrared light panels, the cytochrome c oxidase in mitochondria, like you shift that into greater production of ATP in response to sunlight. I mean, cold, breathing, sunlight, being outside barefoot, I mean, all this stuff just stacks.
Aaron: And it's all free. It's all simple. Most of the stuff, that's the most expensive. Like Carl Jung talked about retrogression is going to be the most sustainable and the most cost-effective way to be healthier, to be more mindful to do all things. When we seek out new advanced technology, typically it's more expensive and more short-lived.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I was in San Diego two months ago and these biohacking clinics are becoming more common. They pop up and people put the cryotherapy, and the sauna, and the PEMF, and the fancy technologies, the negative ion structured water that you breathe. I was in San Diego and this company reached out to me on Instagram and they're like, “Why don't you come over to our clinic this morning and you can do the pulsed electromagnetic field therapy and get the Schumann resonance from the earth, and do the cryo, do the infrared, and maybe we can get you infrared Joovv session where you're under the lights.”
I'm reading this and I'm like, “Four blocks from the beach.” I'm like, “Actually, I'm going to walk in my bare feet to the beach under the sunlight, jump in the cold water, chockfull of negative ions and minerals, get out and walk back to my little condo I was staying in and get all that for free in a far more natural way.” Not that biohacking technology should be dismissed, but those should be stacked on top of the natural living or used when you don't have access to that stuff like whatever. You're in Las Vegas, you're going to be there for three days at a conference, yeah, go there with your grounding and earthing mat that you can sleep on, and maybe a portable infrared light panel, and maybe a little portable PEMF unit, and you'll use biohacking to simulate nature in an environment where you're not going to get exposed to much nature. When you get a chance to choose between nature or biohacking, I mean, nature is always usually a more prudent choice.
Aaron: So, I think it's the difference between a supplement in the whole food when you're biohacking some aspect of nature into some technology. It's like taking like pectin off an apple or carotene or it's like–
Ben: Lycopene from a tomato.
Aaron: What we miss with that is the equation that you jump your biology into when you jump into the ocean. It's so much more complex than most of the specific isolates that we take out from that plugged into a wall.
Ben: It's the entourage effect. And of course, that's most well-known in the world of cannabis, right? We know that all the constituents of the hemp plant put together are more beneficial than like a synthetic CBD extract that you might take to help you sleep. The exception to that though would be when you do want the bullet train, I don't–I guess I am going to just like start shamelessly plugging, but if you look at something like the Joovv light, like these infrared light panels that you can spend 10 minutes in front of and get the equivalent of the infrared light that you would need to be out in the sun for two hours to get. And maybe risk excess UVA radiation from the sun trying to get that big of a dose of infrared all at once.
Well, arguably, the biohacking technology actually is a hack. You're shortcutting your way to getting even more infrared than you might normally be able to get. The same could be said of like the big, powerful, high milliGauss potential PEMF tables, the ones that produce a very high amount of that frequency like 7.8 Hertz that you'd get from the planet Earth, but they just concentrate in a very high dose so you're almost amplifying the anti-inflammatory effects of earthing or grounding, but in a faster manner.
So, I have nothing against better living through science, about using even more powerful versions of what we might be able to get from nature, but return to that whole entourage effect the idea of it being free, the idea of being more connected to the planet that we live upon. I still think that too many people put too much time into the biohacking technologies and not enough time into the end of the nature of technologies.
Aaron: Yeah. What about meditation? Has that played a role in your wellness?
Ben: I don't meditate in the sense that I think a lot of people think of meditation that much. There are a few forms of meditation that I tend to do on a regular basis such as one called Eco Meditation designed by Dawson Church. I like it because it combines breathwork. In this case, about six count in and six-count out with tapping. And so you're basically getting yourself into a state of mindfulness and loving kindness, and then tapping when you're in that state so that when you're out of that state simply by tapping, you can access it more quickly. And that practice also involves gratefulness, involves sending beams of light and love out to the universe, but then into your body, into areas that might be tense that feel like they might need a little bit of extra self-love. I really like that one and you can google it. It's like a free MP3 you can download, and it just works for me because it stacks all these things at once. So, that one's called Eco Meditation.
For a couple years, I practiced TM after taking a TM course and it didn't quite have the time to do the full 2 by 10 to 20 minutes a day and almost felt as though I was frustrating myself by not doing it with the frequency with which it's actually recommended. So, I didn't stay on the TM bandwagon, although I occasionally still do that, for example, on a plane when I can't sleep but I want to still relax my mind and just go into a mantra and stay there for a while. When I wake in the morning, I typically will be in bed for about five minutes just doing deep breathing, giving myself that affluence of time before I leap out of bed. Then I read something typically devotional or scriptural, and then gratitude journal. “What am I grateful for today? What truth did I discover in today's reading? And who is one person who I can pray or help or serve this day?”
And for me, that breathwork and gratitude practice when I first wake, it has the flavor of meditation, like it leaves me with that same type of feeling as though I've meditated. Before every meal, I typically do about 5 to 10 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to activate the parasympathetic system in almost a brief mindfulness meditation snack. And I realize that this is something that I think kind of annoys a lot of meditation devotees. I consider my exercise to be moving meditation. Like if you see me exercising, there is never hard-driving rock music in my headphones, anything like–occasionally, an audiobook or a podcast, but my workout sessions are very focused around breath. They lead with piranhas, so I'm always focusing on the breathing in through the nose, usually out through slightly pursed lips the same as when I'm walking, it's always moving meditation typically with like a four count in, four count hold, four count out, four count hold.
Or based on Patrick McKeown's teachings in the “Oxygen Advantage,” or Anders Olsson's teachings in his book–I believe it's called “The Power of Breath” or the power of air or something like that, 10 count in and a 20 count out. So, I'm retaining oxygen and carbon dioxide simultaneously. And when I walk like that for 30 minutes or 45 minutes or 60 minutes especially in the sand, on the beach, on a forest trail, to me, it's almost better than seated meditation. I feel more grounded when I do that. And the workout sessions, when the going gets hard and when you're getting up towards your VO2 max, I will shift into breathing through the mouth sucking air.
But then the trick is after that set's done after that high-intensity interval bout is done, I'll then return back into that nasal breathing. Very similar to the way that Paul Chek teaches, for example, you'll do a set of kettlebell swings and that would be the working out and then you follow that up with the working in, which would be very slow, almost like Tai Chi-esque bodyweight squats where you're just in flow breathing through your nose, focusing on reactivating the parasympathetic system.
And then one other cool way to do that related to the ice, and I do this with some of the folks that I coach, I call it the 3×3, they'll do three minutes of some kind of like a high-intensity cardio, like the Airdyne bike or treadmill rowing machine, whatever. And following those three minutes, they will then get into the cold, deep nasal breathing, box breathing, activate the parasympathetic nervous system in the cold. And then out of the cold, you'll back into the high-intensity interval training. So, you're basically training sympathetic, parasympathetic, returning to that idea of being metabolically flexible, substrate utilization. You're again training yourself to be flexible with parasympathetic, sympathetic activation.
Aaron: Yeah. I think so many of the practices that we do can–there's so much minutia in them oftentimes and we can become consumed by the specific details, but I think in large part, the details are valuable. But then also in large part, one of the greatest values is just that we're starting to pay attention. I found that with archery at this point, hunting soon, going to the archery range and paying attention first to the positioning of my feet. Okay, cool. I might ground it through my feet. Okay, cool. And then drop the shoulders in. Okay. Then pull the elbow back and retract the scapula. And then from there, okay, cool, now I got to get the sight, now I got to now breathe. [00:21:27] ______ hold my breath, actually. Okay. Emphasize breath out, calm down. All right. That moment, it's really hard to be thinking about bills, girlfriend, whatever the thing is.
Ben: You can't. I'm excited for you, especially because I know you have a history of meditation and mindfulness and a great deal of body awareness. I'm excited to see how that manifests for you once you get out on your hunt coming up in Maui and you need to activate all of that that you've made automatic when there's an actual animal in front of you. All of a sudden, there's an enormous responsibility. There's a life on the line. There's potential suffering for the animal on the line.
There is, from a deep primal standpoint even though you probably have like a few canisters of protein powder at home and a few things you could survive on for a little longer, there's like that idea of, “Oh, this is my food. I'm not going to live to see another day unless I put this animal down and bring something home to the tribe, to the village to cook.” And that sounds silly to a lot of people who say, “Oh, you don't have to hunt for food. There's grocery stores everywhere.” But for some reason, at least I've experienced like that same primal mechanism kicks in to where you're like, “Is it do-or-die? I have to survive to live another day, so I need to put this meat in the freezer.”
Aaron: Yeah. We all have that in us. Have you ever heard the book called “Paradise Made in Hell?” It's about essentially the value of natural disasters or people going through like times of war or 911. These seemingly terrible things, they end up snapping us back into reality of like, “Okay. You're my brother.” Homeless guy on the street or a woman that I typically wouldn't talk to because she doesn't have enough Instagram followers. Like, no, we're in this together.
Ben: Yeah. It's that feeling of interdependence that–again, I realized I keep saying that that people don't do enough of this and people don't do enough of that, but I think that feeling of interdependence, whether it's volunteering in your community or making yourself dependent on others by asking for help is again something that's often neglected. I mean, I had this wonderful, wonderful feeling washed over me today. I told you I stopped by the coffee shop on the way up here to grab a smoothie. And when I rode my bike in and docked at the coffee shop, there's a man in a wheelchair trying to get across the street. And I see him over there and we locked eyes, and he asked me if I could help him across the street? He said, “Can I have a push?” So, I started pushing him across the street. So, I'm pushing this guy in a wheelchair and it's one of those homeless guys in Venice Beach and he looks like he's got all this world's belongings right there in a little–what do you call it? Almost like a bicycle basket, but for a wheelchair. I don't know, wheelchair basket.
Aaron: Wheelchair basket.
Ben: Whenever you carry your stuff around.
Ben: I pushed him across the street and he's like, “Can you push me up that hill because the street starts to go up?” So, I keep pushing him up the hill and then there's a full another block. And at this point, I'm getting nervous because my bike is parked out of the coffee shop, my cell phone is just sitting in a basket in the back of the bike. So, I pushed him for a good like six minutes all the way to the Santa Monica Beach. He's like, “Thank you,” and that feeling washed over me. Okay. We're all interdependent humans. And then I turned around, just had to sprint back down to a coffee shop to make sure the bicycle was still there.
But when you experience something like that, and this is the same reason I do that gratitude practice in the morning of who is one person I can pray for or help or serve today, you tap into that primal sense of us all being on this planet as a tribe and interdependent on each other. In the same way that I think everyone should get sunlight, or earthing, or grounding, or cold, or heat, or fresh air, or any of these natural practices on a daily basis, I think everyone on a daily basis should figure out some way to go out of their way and help someone or just be helped themselves, be interdependent and express that vulnerability to others.
Aaron: Yeah, yeah. There's a [00:25:51] _____ recordings, old recordings of Terence Mckenna, and one of the things that he said that stood out was that culture is the biggest separation between your own enlightenment, education, and decency. So, when we become, we have nationalism and the belief that our country is better than your country, my color is better than your color. Essentially, what that does is it just puts you into this isolation, but being able to break outside of that, I think that's where all the juice is at.
Ben: Yeah. And related to that, C. S. Lewis, and I'll completely bastardize this quote, but essentially, he says in one of his books that we're all spirits, we're all souls at our core. I really get this one and when I gaze into someone's eyes, the windows to the soul, like you make that connection and you realize this is a spirit, this is a soul, this is more than a chunk of flesh and blood that I'm talking to. It's something that's far deeper, something that's even eternal, that spark of light inside of us that is our ethereal being. And what C. S. Lewis says is that we're all spirits or souls and every single person is capable of being a horrible monster or a god or goddess walking upon this planet, like each one of us has that capability for our soul to go one way or the other. And so it's one of those situations in which you almost need to be cautious, careful that you not only care for your soul but you realize that you have potential to do great harm or potential to do very, very great good.
Aaron: Yeah. I think people carry, I carry almost like a certain contraction or fear around the demon inside of me, or like the evil inside of me, or the potential to–I hear things of like some serial killer, or some rapist, or some Hitler, or whatever. For that to exist in humanity, my belief is that exists inside of me and it exists inside of you. And we push that down and pretend that these things don't exist and we shame ourselves for having genitals, like we put certain things in a box and then certain other things are acceptable. But I wonder if there's something to loving all of that.
Ben: Yeah. For me coming from a Christian background, I think this is something Paul says in the Bible about all of that evil and the people walking around who have twisted their soul or their spirit into becoming a monster. He basically says something like, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” We all have that potential and we should never take for granted the fact that we could easily stray into that same kind of Hitler-esque moment unless we're constantly careful, constantly watching ourselves because that is our bent in a way.
Aaron: Yeah. My feeling is Hitler didn't want to be the Hitler that we know today when he was like six and playing baseball.
Ben: Mm-hmm. Right. Exactly, exactly. Yeah. A big part of that is we tend to err towards what is societally acceptable, and as happened in Germany, if everybody else is doing it and it turns into the social norm, it becomes that much easier for us to do it to stray from that sense of what I really think is almost like that inherent built-in sense of what is right and wrong and that internal moral compass that I do think we have to instead go almost more towards this epicurean approach of like, well, there is no sense of universal morality, it's just like this is what gives me pleasure and this is what gives me pain. If everybody's getting pleasure from this certain activity, then it must be right, it must be okay or justifiable.
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Aaron: Yeah. There's a guy, James Prescott, that I mentioned in my–the book that I've recently finished up and it gets into war in societies and the amount of touch that they had growing up. He said with 80% accuracy he was able to connect how much war there would be within that society just based off of the amount of contact they have from their mother and–
Ben: Skin-to-skin contact you mean?
Aaron: There's kind of completely other side of the spectrum research around the amount of contact in MBA teams in pre-season, the teams that have the greatest contact butt slaps, “nice work,” [censored] chest bumps, like, “Yeah, man. We're together.” That cohesion and that atonement manifests itself into more victories.
Ben: So, A, we should probably hold hands for the rest of this podcast.
Aaron: Yeah. What they do all over the place [00:33:20] ______. It's normal.
Ben: And then probably, get oxytocin into the drinking water. Replace fluoride with oxytocin and the world would be a happy place.
Aaron: You just biohack touched.
Ben: Yeah. I use intranasal oxytocin sometimes. It is a pretty amazing substance. It's the trust hormone with that same that's released during breastfeeding or sex or hugging. The problem with it, of course, is you actually wouldn't want a lot of that in your system if you're going to go negotiate to purchase a used car or something like that just because you become so trusting, so loving, so vulnerable.
Aaron: So, all the conversations of–it's really helpful to love each other and connect, and touch, and not be selfish, and all that stuff. Why do you think it is that humanity, typically at least like Western post-agriculture humanity tends to veer towards autonomy and disconnection, and my own, and my bank account, and all those things that the studies say that when you give somebody a dollar feels better than getting a dollar, but nonetheless, this seems like the tendency is to go the other direction?
Ben: Yeah. The independence at the cost of interdependence, I don't know, but I suspect part of it is due to the idea that we can take a great amount of pride in being self-made humans, self-made men, self-made women. We live in an era where you're taught from an early age that you can be whatever you want to be, and that through almost like this puritanical hard work mentality that you can go it alone and be a lone wolf and still experience or possibly experience a greater amount of success like you've made it, you've become, whatever, a lone wolf warrior. For me being homeschooled K through 12 and very self-dependent, I think I err towards that even more than a lot of people just because I had to be completely independent all through education and very self-reliant.
I enjoy the solitude working alone, the silence, being solo, being a lone wolf. And it's really only in the past several years and increasingly as my boys grow older and as I grow more connected to my family that I realized the importance of this interdependence and the idea that independence lone wolf success, despite often being a good way to make it in the world and to, whatever, make a lot of money or be hyperproductive does not bring happiness as much as being with people and being dependent on others.
Aaron: Yeah. It feels to me like the greatest currency any of us can possibly have, the only currency that's not going to go away is connections and relationships and doing good by others.
Ben: Yeah. It's the greatest emotion, love is. And I tell my children this, if you ever do not know what to do in any situation, whether an interpersonal conflict or an argument or not knowing what to say to someone in a specific situation, you cover everything with love, something as simple as “I love you”, or figuring out a way you can care for someone, just anything like that. I mean, I've even had some conflicts with my wife before. We've gotten arguments and we've had disagreements. The only thing that seems to be able to just smooth things over at the time is just like a huge hug, “This isn't worth it. I love you.” And all of a sudden, love just like frickin' melts away you know all the pain and all the conflict. That's simple, but that sometimes takes dissolution of the ego. It takes humbleness, it takes deciding that it's more worth it to simply say, “I love you,” and to hug someone rather than to keep on figuring out a way to win the argument or to prove that you're right.
Aaron: Yeah. What do you think that has been most pivotal for you to start to recognize that?
Ben: When it comes to love, for me, it's been my family, the realization that they're the most important thing to me and it's impossible for me to stay close and connected to my family without the Greenfield home being absolutely filled with love, eye gazing, snuggling, sexual connection with my wife, dates and time, mindful, devoted, focused time with my children. The amount of happiness and fulfillment that brings, that pouring that amount of love into my home brings, that's where it started for me. And then from there, realizing that that same type of familial love that you give to your wife or your spouse or your children is the same type of love that you can take out into the world, into your career.
I don't think I have even come close to bringing to the world from stage, on my podcast, in my writings, in my interaction with people, I haven't come close to expressing the same amount of love in those scenarios as I do in the Greenfield home, when I'm just there with my wife and my boys. And I'm currently on almost like a quest to take that same love that I've experienced with my family and bring that forth into the rest of the world. But for me, it had to start at home with my wife and with my boys, the deep realization that it's love and connection with the family that kind of equips me and empowers me to go forth and bring that same love to the rest of the world, because my MO for the longest time was like, “You have your family time, then you go out in the world, and then you're that lone independent wolf who's all about business and very didactic education, teaching others about fitness and health and nutrition, but with nowhere near the amount of love that's expressed with the family, on the home front,”
I recently read a book. I believe it was called “The Second Mountain” or something like that. But it's about how we spend much of our lives climbing this first mountain, career, success, finances, like making it almost from like a business standpoint, and we reached the top of that first mountain in a very independent way. And when we get to the top of that first mountain, sometimes cancer, or sickness, or conflict, or bankruptcy, or something can throw us down from the top of that first mountain down into a valley, and that sometimes what happens is we're down there in the valley.
Sometimes they're just still at the top of the first mountain and we get that realization that there's not as much fulfillment and happiness that we've gotten by climbing to the top of that first mountain as we anticipated or expected when we were climbing it. And at that point, we realize there's a second mountain, and that second mountain is a mountain where the top of it is where true fulfillment lies. It is a mountain that we climb with others. It's a mountain where we discover interdependence, and community, and family, and some of those things we were talking about earlier, that deep human primal urge for connection and relationships, and that second mountain might be something completely different, like founding a charitable organization or taking your time that you spent on the business and focusing instead on music or art that touches other people's hearts, or building a community, or getting to know your neighbors better, or whatever the case may be, but it's that second mountain that's the most important mountain. And I feel like for me, I'm kind of like 120th of the way up that second mountain after climbing that first mountain and realizing that there's a lot freaking more to life than what you experience on the top of that first mountain.
Aaron: Yeah. I feel like one of my biggest fears would be that I would die, leave this body before reaching the fall summit of the first mountain. And at that point, you essentially missed out on life.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, you did. I guess the thing is it's not like the first mountain is bad. The first mountain is Maslow's hierarchy. You have to get shelter, and food, and currency, and to a certain extent, the ability to be able to get by and survive before you're almost like fully equipped to climb that second mountain. I think that some people climb the first and second mountain at the same time, develop a business that's just extremely others facing and is doing a great deal of good in the world. I think that that's a very fortunate place to be in, but I don't think people should beat themselves up before trying to make a career and get some money in their bank account and figure out a way to become somewhat financially independent before turning around and say, “Okay. What's next? What's greater than this now that I'm set, now that I've put on my own oxygen mask? How can I then go forth and help others?” So, I don't think they're shame in that first mountain. I just think that you definitely shouldn't fool yourself into thinking that that's the end-all.
Aaron: Yeah. Do you think perhaps isolating those two mountains, and I'm sure there's lots of more mountains beyond that, into their own separate buckets? Do you think that is a Western culture, again post-agricultural age, technological age, like any of that? I'm more natural in quotations, whatever the heck that means, hunter-gatherer tribe or whatever society. Do you think that those buckets would naturally more converge?
Ben: It's possible that mountains might not be the best analogy. Perhaps a better analogy would be chapters in a book. Chapter 1, you're getting to know some of the characters and laying down the background scene in the ordinary world and in Chapters 3 and 4 and 5. Maybe there's a realization that there's more to life than this and there's that resistance to the call if we're looking at the book that's the classic hero's journey, and then eventually crossing the threshold toward something greater. You're progressing and progressing and progressing, and you're never reading a book like that, any classic hero's journey, “The Wizard of Oz” or the Disney movie “Frozen” or the story of Rocky Balboa or any of these hero's journeys.
You're never following a book or a storyline like that and thinking that what you've just read, the chapter that you're in, the chapters that came before sucked. They were just all part of the hero's journey. They were all crucial in leading up to the ultimate climax, the battle, the fight for the elixir, the return with the elixir, and the eventual happy-ever-after story at the very end of the book. But if you look at it as a chapter by chapter type of deal, there's no regrets about the chapters that came before. There's just the realization that if you truly want to live out the full hero's journey, you need to have your eyes set on continuing chapter by chapter towards the resolution of the book.
Aaron: Yeah, yeah. And Joe Campbell stuff the same. One of the steps is the process of detribalization, which is the exact same thing that Terence was saying and lots of other people say, like that's a crucial part in stepping outside. I wonder with raising kids, have you noticed the first instance of shame pop up with your kids? Like, pre, when I am my mother and I am a theory of mine all that in the separation happened to be hard to be ashamed of anything. But then there's a moment we're like, “Oh, my penis isn't big enough,” or, “My anus looks weird,” or, “I'm not tall enough,” or too short or whatever.
Ben: I can't say I have. Our house is, from a shame standpoint, it's pretty hippie-dippie. Nobody's got the clothes on, the [00:46:27] ______. The Greenfield boys just walk around naked. And my boys see me doing so many weird things, whatever, all the biohacks and infrared light panels. They'll come in to brush their teeth while dad's laying on the floor of the bathroom doing a coffee enema, like we're just–there's not a lot of I guess potential for shame in the Greenfield house. And so no, I haven't seen that yet.
But one practice that I think has been really beneficial for connectedness, not just with my wife and I, but also with my children has been that eye gazing that I talked about earlier. When I can take River or I can take Terran and embrace them as–usually, this as we're about to go to sleep, like before bed when I'm in there, I've read them a story or played them the guitar or the ukulele, and this is a practice that I've only adopted for the past year. But you look at your child in the eyes and it's one of those zero judgment zones. And sometimes I'll just be like–start to freak out here, but I'd just be going like this just like caressing their hair, looking deep into their eyes, and they'll reach up and start to caress my hair, and you're just making this deep soul connection.
And for me, it's like I see a different part of my child every time, like the shape of their nose has changed or the turn of their lips or I'll see a glimpse of–the shape of my wife's eyes and their eyes, or sometimes I'll look at their fingers and think about how their hands look like my hands looked when I was 11 years old. I think that that's a big part of it too is when you have that kind of a deep connection every day with your parent or with your child, I think it's harder to feel that shame because there's just that deep vulnerable open acceptance when you're right there looking into each other's eyes. The same could be said for sex. I think one of the most powerful things that my wife and I have adopted as part of our sexual relationship is that same type of eye gazing, that deep spiritual connection, that before going of almost like the mutual masturbation that I think a lot of sex really is for a lot of people, I mean, you're rubbing your genitals together until something explodes or something cool happens and that's sex, right? And then you roll over and go to sleep or whatever the case may be. I think that that deep acceptance during sex as well, that deep spiritual connection is also very important with your lover.
Aaron: Yeah. It's interesting with you. It seems almost like you're the father and you're taking care of your kids, but it almost feels as though your kids are–you could look at it from another lens and see that they're here for you.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's a great and powerful responsibility bringing another human being into the world, but it really is just almost like a selfish standpoint, one of the best things you can do for yourself. I mean, not only spiritually, that feeling of responsibility and that interdependence that arises when you have a child, their interdependence on you, your interdependence on them. But just from a pure logistical standpoint, I mean, it was when I had kids that I established a trust, began to build a legacy, began to think more about the future, about my home, my castle, where our roots were going to be, where we're going to live, the connections to family, the living will, the testament, all these things, family traditions.
Well, shit, what is our family tradition for Christmas? What is our family tradition for Thanksgiving? How are we going to begin to build this Greenfield name, Greenfield traditions, Greenfield family that will hopefully go onto for generations and generations, be able to help the world. It reminds me of this quote that I heard a couple of weeks ago that just really struck me. It gave me pause. It was this. “You're not raising your children; you're raising your grandchildren.” When you think about everything that you do with your kids, whether or not you have your phone out at the dinner table or when you're out on a date with your children, do you have story time at night? Do you play music at night? Do you have a gratitude practice in the morning? Do you have a specific tradition on Christmas around Thanksgiving? Do you have a time of the month when you might go and deliver meals on wheels or help someone or bring a bottle of wine up to the neighbors?”
These are the things that your children are going to be teaching to their grandchildren. And if your family practice is watching Netflix while everyone's got a tray and eating dinner in front of the TV and everyone's got their phone out, when you're at the restaurant and Christmas arrives and you just kind of casually figure out if you're going to go here or you're going to go there, like there's no real tradition on Christmas Eve. Everybody just kind of like hits the sack at the end of the night and there's no end cap on the day of gratitude, or storytelling, or music, or anything like. That's exactly what your kids are going to do with their kids, their kids with their kids.
So, what you do now with your children sets up just a generational butterfly effect for what's going to happen on down the line, and that's a great and powerful responsibility realizing you're not changing. It's hard on a Thursday night when dinner rolls around to be thinking about that, take out the gratitude journals and have a moment of parasympathetic silence over the food and have a wonderful chat at dinner and push the chairs away. Everybody cleans up the kitchen together and you go upstairs and maybe have a little Storytime, play some music, do the eye gazing and the snuggling. All of that gets instilled into your children and carries on into the future generation. So, it's a great and powerful responsibility to be able to build that, and it stacks, just that simple practice one night of the week and the next night of the week. It's going to streamline down the future generations.
Aaron: Yeah. At some point, you have to pay the responsibility. It's like you have to invest and do the thing, and you can temporarily push things off and kind of spend on credit. But at some point, you're just squishing the toothpaste around. All of a sudden, you have this backfill on the other end and you'll have to pay bigger at some point. And that's why I think like the way that we started the conversation is how can we effectively integrate all of these health-inducing variables so that I just have this well-being sandwich that I'm moving through the world with. I think that that's like the more that we can do that, the happier life that we will have in the future and the less likely we are to have lots of debt.
Ben: Yeah. The other thing I would encourage to people who are listening is if you have an exercise habit, or you have a meditation habit, or a breathwork habit, or a cold pool habit, or a sauna habit, or any of these things that you use to keep you sane during the day to tweak your biology, to maintain your health. I was once reading in a magazine, it was a triathlon magazine, about being an invisible exerciser. You could get up at 4:00 a.m., you just get all this shit done so that you can be present for your family later on in the day. But I kind of think it's the opposite.
I think as much as you can include, if you have children, your children in those type of habits, like–and I do this with my kids sometimes, when we go to a 30-minute sauna session, they'll come in for the first 5 or 10 minutes, sit, meditate. All right, guys, you're good. Go do your thing. Or I'll go jump in the cold pool and they'll come in and jump in with me and they might stay in a minute and I'm swimming around in there for five minutes. But just these brief exposures for your offspring to be able to get a flavor of these habits that you're using to make your lives better, your life better, that keeps them from, whatever, turning 18, go into college, gaining weight on beer and pizza, having no clue how to be mindful or meditate, starting their job, climbing that first mountain, rinsing, washing, repeating, and re-experiencing the errors that you might have gone through. And then when they're 35, they discover intermittent fasting, and meditation, and sauna, breathwork, and cold. But returning to that, you're raising your grandchildren, not your children. They might not teach that to their kids because you didn't teach it to them. So, the more you can expose your kids to this kind of stuff like early on in life, the better.
Aaron: Yeah. We'll wrap this up. One thing that's just popping up is there's a guy called Albert Mehrabian came up with this thing called the 55/38/7 principle. He is a UCLA professor. Essentially what it was is a 55% of our communication was based off of body language where we move, and then 38% was tonality, and then 7% was the actual words that we're saying. That's based if there is some type of incongruency there. So, if I say something, when my body says something else, 93% of the time we're like, “No. I don't think that's right.” I think it's the same thing with when you're spending time with your family or any relationship, like your kids, my sense is they probably don't give that many shits what you say. It's more like actually being with you, what's your level of compassion and empathy, and listening, and what do you actually do.
And then the other thing that pops up is I think it's really valuable to have momentum going into a connection with somebody. So, you can't just be a jerk off for the whole day and eating the wrong food, and thinking about the wrong things, and looking at the wrong things, and then all of a sudden, “Okay, it's family time.” Your kids are sensitive beings and they're picking up on you from before right now.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. The power of demonstration and practicing what you preach, especially when it comes to parenting cannot be undervalued. And I parent with this love and logic philosophy where you don't tell your kids what to do, you educate them on the consequences of their decisions and then let them make the decision. And you must, in order for that type of parenting to be successful, demonstrate in your day-to-day habits what the right decisions actually are. All right, so it's never like, whatever, “River, Terran, go take your vitamin D supplement.” It's like, “Dad just gets up in the morning. I take my vitamin D, and usually, I'd do it when they're sitting there at the breakfast nook table and they can see me doing what I'm doing.”
And the same can be said for eating habits, like if you tell them that gluten is bad for them, but then the whole family goes out to the steakhouse and you're punishing four slices of that sourdough bread they bring out, then that sends a message to your kids. That's again having children really makes you step up your game.
Aaron: Yeah. Well, man, thanks for doing this.
Ben: Thanks for having me on, man.
Aaron: I appreciate our conversations.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. It's always good to do the breathwork in the ice beforehand to put you in a good place.
Aaron: It's the best, yeah. And then, for folks listening, we'll have the video of breathwork ice and then we'll put some kind of like tutorial instructional thing on how to make that shit happen.
Ben: We'll Photoshop away all the shrinkage that occurs in the ice bath.
Aaron: Oh, yeah, right. That was my first nude ice bath podcast [00:58:20] ______.
Ben: Blur as much as possible. Now, as we were talking about earlier, I think before we started recording, you'll need to blur at least down to my kneecaps, I'm sure.
Aaron: No, that's right.
Ben: There's a lot of blurring stuff.
Aaron: Yeah. It's going to be [00:58:31] ______. Where does people go from here? Where's the best direction?
Ben: Got a new book, boundlessbook.com, and I've been working on that thing for like three years. It's finally out. It's ready and it's just like a massive tome for all things, body, mind, spirit, optimization. So, a lot in there and I'm super proud of it. I guess that'd be my only ask is people go check out the book. So, yeah.
Ben: So, tell people about Aaron Alexander and where they can get more of you.
Aaron: Yeah. So, “The Align Method” is coming out December 24th. And so I don't know when we're going to publish this exact thing.
Ben: “The Align Method” is the book?
Aaron: That's the book, yeah. It's coming up. So, that's been–I co-wrote that with Phil White, who he's done stuff with Kelly Starrett, and Andy Galpin, and Brian MacKenzie, and Laird Hamilton, all sorts of great folks. Each chapter I had reviewed from the world-leading expert on whatever the thing is, breaking down the way that site affects your physiology and sound, and body language, and touching all the things that we have briefly touched on this conversation. So, that's at thealignbook.com is the pre-sale and the Instagram handle is Align Podcast, and this will go up on the Align Podcast as well.
Ben: Yeah, thealignbook.com, and I did thumb through it, you guys, and it's good photos, exercises, practical shit, the likes.
Aaron: it's all practical. Essentially, it's written for like the Instagram age. So, it's written in like breaths so you can take information in and then you can [01:00:07] _____ a moment and you can go to the next heading and there's like humor and philosophy and mechanics.
Ben: Did you get like butt implants or calf implants since it's on the Instagram age?
Aaron: Not on this one, but yeah, I think on the next one, I'll probably have to step up my game.
Ben: Yeah. Just go full-on Kardashian.
Ben: Good man.
Aaron: I think I'm ready.
Ben: Cool. Thanks, man.
Aaron: Thank you, brother. I appreciate.
Ben: 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.
You may remember the amazing, eccentric, crazy, cool Aaron Alexander if you listened to my episode “Exogenous Ketones, Deuterium-Depleted Water, Near Vs. Far Infrared, Scorpion Stings & More! A Special Episode Recorded Live In Panama“…
…well today, Aaron's back.
I recorded live with him at his pad in Southern California and after chilling in an ice bath, doing nitty-gritty breathwork, and getting up to all the other crazy tom-foolery biohacks at Aaron's place, we recorded for you a nice little podcast. Among the topics of discussion were Aaron's new book The Align Method: 5 Movement Principles for a Stronger Body, Sharper Mind, and Stress-Proof Life, which shows readers how posture and body alignment are powerful tools for building strength, achieving peak performance, reducing pain, and approaching the world with a new sense of confidence, and teaches you how to optimize activities such as:
- Floor Sitting
- Nose Breathing
- And much more…
Blending Eastern philosophy with Western mechanics, The Align Method outlines the necessary tools to leverage the power of your own senses and body language to feel more flexible and confident and details exactly how to reshape your environment for enhanced creativity and longevity.
In this discussion with Aaron, you'll discover…
-What makes green tea special…4:58
- EGCG is the primary antioxidant
- Regularly consume schisandra for fertility potency
- Great Salt Lake trace minerals
-Natural biohacks that can be implemented for low or no cost…6:36
- Cold thermogenesis
- Activates the parasympathetic nervous system
- Nitric oxide release
- Humming/chanting increases nitric oxide production
- Activates the vagus nerve
- Inducing stress resilience prior to the stress of the cold treatment
- Sunlight exposure
- Metabolic flexibility is increased w/ sunlight exposure
- Increased HRV and good vagal nerve tone
- Vitamin D activation
- Cellular resistance
- When to choose tech over nature
- Bottom line: Nature is preferable, but there’s nothing wrong with choosing better living through science
-Ben Greenfield’s morning meditation routine…15:37
- Ecomeditation designed by Dawson Church
- Gratitude – into the universe, and into the body
- Transcendental meditation (BGF podcast w/ Philip Land)
- Deep breathing in the morning
- Read devotional or scripture
- Gratitude journaling
- Exercise is moving meditation
- Lead w/ prana
- No music/podcasts in the ears
- Book: The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown
- Book: The Power Of Your Breath by Anders Olsson
- Breathe through the nose as much as possible
- BGF podcasts w/ Paul Chek
- Why Humans Need Winter, How Too Much Christmas Is Dangerous, Rites Of Passage & More With Paul Chek.
- Heavy Rock Lifting, Building Your Own “Water Charging” Station, Biomechanical Fixes, Plant Medicine Journeys & More With Paul Chek.
- The 3 Key Steps To Intuitive Eating, Ego Dissolution, Raising & Educating Children In A Modern Era & More With Paul Chek.
- 3×3 routine: 3 minutes cardio, 3 minutes cold therapy and repeat
-Hunting zen and interdependence with our fellow man…21:43
- Innate instinct to provide, even with modern conveniences around us
- Book: A Paradise Built in Hell
- Interdependence is oft-neglected
- C.S. Lewis: We’re all spirits in human bodies w/ capability to go one way or the other
- Skin to skin contact releases oxytocin; results in greater success in war, athletics, etc.
- Don't sacrifice interdependence for self-dependence (self-made man)
- Connections is the undying currency
-The two “mountains” in our lives…40:07
- Book: The Second Mountain: The Quest For a Moral Life
- Mountain 1: career, business, shelter, etc.
- Circumstances bring us into the valley, and realize Mountain 2
- Mountain 2: we discover interdependence, community, connection, etc.
- Mountain 1 is oftentimes a prerequisite to Mountain 2
- No regrets about the past; using experience to scale Mountain 2 when we arrive there
-Practices that build indomitable connectedness in your family…46:00
- Zero judgment zone
- See different parts of the other each time
- Deep connection reduces shame, increases vulnerability
- Eye-gazing during sex increases intimacy w/ your partner
- “You're not raising your children, you're raising your grandchildren”
- Traditions, practices at the dinner table, etc. are observed, learned and passed on to the next generation
- Encourage children to participate in your exercise routine, even if on a limited basis
- 55/38/7 principle of communication:
- 55% is based on body language
- 38% is vocal tonality
- 7% is the words we use
- Power of demonstration cannot be undervalued as a parent
-And much more…
Resources mentioned in this episode:
-The Kion Fasting Challenge: The Challenge starts January 6th, it's completely FREE to join, and when you do you'll get a bunch of exclusive content including access to a Q&A by yours truly answering all your burning fasting questions. To join just go to getkion.com/fasting
-Beekeeper's Naturals: A wellness company specializing in innovative nutraceuticals made from healing hive compounds and plant-based ingredients. Get 15% off your order when you use discount code: BEN
–Policy Genius: Whether you’re an insurance expert or a newbie, Policygenius created a website that makes it easy for you to compare quotes, get advice, and get covered.
–Fresh Books: It’s cloud accounting software that basically does your invoicing for you and on top of that gets you paid 2x faster. Try it out for a free 30-day trial of FreshBooks right now. Just enter “The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast” in the how did you hear about us section.