June 13, 2020
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/thewedge
[00:01:29] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:14] Guest Introduction
[00:07:57] What is The Wedge?
[00:17:21] The Concept Of “Neural Symbology”
[00:24:10] How Kettlebells Build Trust And Allow The Body To Relax In The Face Of Stress
[00:32:09] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:16] Findings on Carbon Dioxide CO2
[00:58:00] The Truth Serum
[01:07:30] Scott's Projects And Biohacks
[01:12:45] Closing the Podcast
[01:13:58] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Scott: What literally happened for me is I envisioned a wedge pushing that space between the stimulus of the ice water and the reaction that my body had. It's scary when two guys face off against each other. This is usually not about cooperation and love or anything, right? This is about I'm going to murder you with this weapon in my hand. And all of a sudden, this confrontational sort of dangerous exercise turns from danger to dancing.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Welcome to the show. I've been getting crazy people on the show and today's journalist is no exception to that rule. His name is Scott Carney. He just wrote a really, really great book. I've been reading a lot of good books lately. You may have heard my podcast last week with James Nestor on his new book “Breath.” And this book, I would say, falls into the same category as a thrilling read for anybody who wants to learn a little bit more about how the body ticks from a physical and mental optimization standpoint. I'm going to shut up because you just got to hear the interview.
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Well, as you guys know, I love to interview immersive journalists. Sometimes I like to think of myself as a little bit of an immersive journalist, but I come nowhere near some of the folks who I've interviewed who have gone out and done crazy expeditions and adventures, come back and written really thrilling and inspirational titles based on what they learned. One of my favorite guys who does this, his name is Scott Carney. And Scott was on my podcast episode a couple years ago. He wrote a book called “What Doesn't Kill Us“, why your body needs freezing water, extreme altitude, and environmental conditioning. And we jammed on a lot of stuff about like getting, what, hypoxia, and getting way high up in the mountains does for you and what super cold conditions do for you. And essentially, as the book implies, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and we just really, really geeked out on hormesis.
And so, if you didn't get a chance to listen to that episode, I do highly recommend it. And I will link to that previous episode I did with Scott if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/thewedge. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/thewedge, W-E-D-G-E. Why “The Wedge?” Because Scott just came out with a new book that I think was just as good as “What Doesn't Kill Us“, and the name of that book is called “The Wedge.” You're going to find what the wedge is during this show, but essentially, it's a book chock-full of what Scott calls the keys to human resilience. And I am all about making yourself harder to kill, not for your own ego, but so that you can better equip yourself to make as big an impact on this planet as you can during the time that you are walking the face of this Earth. And I think that being resilient and hard to kill, whatever that means for you, is a good skill to have.
So, Scott wrote this book and I was able to get my hands on it. I read it, I had a lot of pages folded over. So, I wanted to get into everything he talks about from the subtle language of how your body responds to your environment, to some of the stuff that he did at this cutting edge neuroscience laboratory at Stanford, to kettlebell tossing, to some updates on Wim Hof breathing, to plant medicine, CO2 inhalation, a lot of stuff in there. So, Scott, welcome back, man.
Scott: Hey, man. This is so fun to be back here and I am — what a great intro, man. It's awesome to have somebody who's actually read my book interviewing me, which is — it's an honor.
Ben: Well, you know what, when I get books sent to me by publishers, they inevitably come with the 8.5 by 11 piece of paper that says, “Here's what this book's about. Here's all the questions to ask the author.” And that thing gets crumpled up and thrown in the trash right away. I don't even want it in front of me because I don't want my thought pattern interrupted by the questions that you would expect me to ask. I instead like to come up with my own questions based on, shocker, having actually read the book.
Scott: That's great. This is going to be a fun conversation.
Ben: Yeah. And my rule is always if I get through the first two chapters, or if it's a Kindle, if I get through the preview and there's nothing compelling to me and I don't fold over a single page, or I don't chuckle, or I don't highlight, then I don't continue. And maybe I miss the meat of a lot of good books with that rule, but I find that that tends to be a pretty good rule. Like if it's not turning your head within the first couple of chapters, it's a tosser. So, your book though, your book got some pages folded over right off the bat. And really, one of the first things that I came across was this term I wasn't really familiar with called “The Wedge,” which is, of course, the title of the book as well. So, can you get into what the wedge is?
Scott: Yeah. So, first, this is in a way a continuation of my book “What Doesn't Kill Us” because, in that book, I was hanging out with Wim Hof in Poland. I was actually the first journalist who had really ever written about him in a sort of serious way. For those of you who don't know the training, and we're not really going to go into it too much here, but it's essentially hyperventilating, exhaling, and holding your breath until you can hold your breath for really long periods of time. For me, it's like three minutes on a stretch.
Ben: On an exhale or on an inhale?
Scott: On an exhale. Yeah, on an inhale, I can hold it a little longer. And then, the other part of the Wim Hof method is jumping into ice water and sitting there, and then controlling your response to that freezing, clenching stimulus. And then, over time, you do these two things, you get pretty resilient. You find that not only are you really good at handling ice water and holding your breath, who cares, you find that you have a lot of less anxiety, you have autoimmune changes. That book is really great, “What Doesn't Kill Us.” Dive in.
Ben: If I could interrupt you, I want to throw in two quick things regarding Wim Hof, and I think we'll talk more about breathwork because you have some really cool new shit on breathwork in this book. But A, you mentioned getting into the ice, and I should clarify because a lot of people get confused about this, you don't get into the ice bath while you're holding your breath. Usually, you use the breath-holds as a breath-up to prepare your body with that kind of inner fire type of breathing to get into the water. So, everybody listening in, don't get into water with your breath held, it's bad idea.
And then the other thing that is cool, just relevant to this discussion, is I just finished — during quarantine, I figured, “What the heck? I might as well equip my children's immune system with something other than vitamin C and vitamin D and zinc.” And so, we did four weeks of daily Wim Hof breathwork and ice baths. I have this thing called the Morozko Forge right outside my office. You got to really like plunge through the ice, get in. And my little boys just went through four weeks. We did almost like a gong, like it was about 48 consecutive days of ice baths and Wim Hof. So, it's fresh on my mind right now because there's no way I was going to make my kids do it without doing it myself. So, yes, I've been deeply immersed in that practice of late.
Scott: That's great. And yeah, the Forge is actually a really cool thing because it keeps the water cold all the time. And if you have some trouble having access to cold water, that's a good solution, although a little pricey, I will say.
But anyway, so the question was what is the wedge? Right? So, imagine you're jumping into that ice water and your body's natural response is to clench up, it's like, “Oh, no, I'm fighting this,” and you're releasing adrenaline, cortisol, all those great stress hormones that let you fight through that situation.
What you do in the Wim Hof method though is you relax. You're trying to will yourself into a different state. And when I first did this with Wim — this was in 2011. I'm in Poland. I'm in some sort of icy lake with him, and he looks at me and says, “You must relax.” And what literally happened for me is like I saw this vision in my head of like — or I envisioned like a wedge, like this thing pushing that space between the stimulus of the ice water, and that was the reaction that my body had. And I was just pushing that space. And by doing that, I created time before my body naturally did that, and then I gained control over that bodily response. So what the wedge is, the easiest way to think about it is separating stimulus from response. And I know there's other techniques out there that also have the same definition. Mindfulness has this in there as well. But we're really trying to dig deep into the body, put ourselves in stressful situations, and then change the way that we respond and react, and that creates biological responses in our body. Let's do all sorts of things that we didn't expect.
At the end of “What Doesn't Kill Us“, I'm climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro. It's negative 30 degrees outside. I've gotten up there really fast and I'm in my underwear on the mountain, which I mean was very cold, but I managed to do this and it was because I'm playing with the sensations that I feel in order to modulate my body. I know that, Ben, you are a huge proponent and really, really smart about the world of supplements, about the world of getting into the individual structures of biology. But for me, the object that I work on is sensation because I know that sensation is that key between sort of experience in biology. So, I'm really looking and trying to modulate our reactions to sensation to get physical outputs that are maybe different than what we would expect what's possible.
Ben: Okay. So, if I understand this correctly — and by the way, the extent to which the suffering occurs when you're climbing a mountain in your underwear depends on your definition of underwear because [00:13:20] _____ some pretty badass long woolly underwear that one could climb a mountain quite easily.
Scott: Like a bathing suit.
Ben: Right. Okay.
Scott: Like a modern bathing suit, not like a 1920s full-body one.
Ben: If I ever do it, I'm going with the mankini route. Anyways though, so the wedge, basically, what you're describing is that the stimulus that arise from let's say a stressful signal to the body that travels to the brain and then elicits a physiological response such as a rise in blood pressure or an increase in heart rate or an increase in breath rate, what you're doing is essentially hacking that response via specific mechanisms that you've learned to instead of engaging in a stressful physiological response with something like Wim Hof breathwork and cold being a perfect example, instead almost like a relaxatory response, or at least an inhibition of the stress response.
Scott: Yeah. Well, you can go either way. You can also activate your stress response if you want because the stimulus could also be a very relaxing stimulus that you want to find a different way to modulate. But in general, yeah, that's exactly right, is that when our body senses anything, like if you think about the brain that's like sitting in a float tank in your skull, the only way it knows what's going on in the world is through your sensory channels, through the signals coming from your eyes, your ears, your nose, your skin. And that gets translated to chemical and electrical signals that have to enter up through your spine, get to your brain, and then your brain has reactions, which are automatic and has responses, which are things you choose.
And what I'm doing is making things more responsitory. I made that word up, too. Now you have it, too. But you make these things responses instead of reactions. You said you get into the ice water and then your blood pressure changes. Well, yeah, it can, but you could also intervene in the sensation of the ice water so that when it comes up there, it doesn't trigger panic. And that's by literally focusing on the sensations, like what is the sensation of ice water? Do I think of it as a threat when it comes in? Because it's just a signal, it's just electrical and chemical signals. Or, do I think about that as something that I can welcome into my body and allow to be there? And that's the magic, right? It's the magic of trying to re-identify signals so that your body responds in different ways. Admittedly, in some cases, this can be dangerous, like you don't want to realign fire. You don't want to put your hand in fire and be like, “No, no, that fire is just totally fine, I can deal with this,” because then you're damaging your body.
Ben: Unless you're at a Tony Robbins conference.
Scott: Actually, the Tony Robbins thing is really quite interesting. So, those of you who don't know, Tony Robbins is this big self-help guru, a lot of people love him. One of the things he does is has crowds of people walk over hot coals. So, they're literally walking over and you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you do it. And occasionally, people get burned while doing that, but most people don't. But you know the people who get burned? Do you know who they are? They're the people who are the most confident that they're going to be okay and getting across because the people who — admittedly, when you're looking at fire and your butt's puckering and you're like, “Oh my god, fire is going to burn me,” you actually release just a little bit of perspiration on the bottom of your feet, not very much, but just a little so that when you go across, it only takes like a second to get a [00:16:51] _____. That provides enough thermodynamic insulation that it allows you to survive. But the person who's super confident is like, “Yeah, man. I got this. I am the best. I'm not even giving any rise.” Well, they're actually using the wedge to do that, but they're using it in the wrong way because when they step on that coal, the heat transference is instantaneous and then they get all burned.
Ben: So, a good foot sweater would do well at a Tony Robbins conference. All you need to do is train your feet to perspirate. Now, before I actually ask you about a really interesting example of the wedge that you present early in the book, and how it relates to this idea of creating neural symbology, which was kind of a new concept that I'd come across, probably one of the simplest examples you gave in the book was public speaking, which is, of course, something many people are afraid of, that in death, which is why that old joke goes that you wouldn't want to give your own eulogy at — what is it? Giving a eulogy at your own funeral is probably the biggest fear anyone might have.
But what you talk about is if you have an aversion public speaking and you focus on the nervousness as the speaking event draws near, you're more likely going to panic when you get up there to give the talk. But if you focus on some fun or rewarding aspect of the experience, then you attach a totally different emotional value to it. You created like a different, what you call, a neural symbol for public speaking. But you of course, as part of this book, did not necessarily engage in a public speaking course.
However, one of the things that you did regarding neural symbology was a rather novel use of kettlebells. And I'm curious to hear about how you did that and how that helps to explain the connection between physiology and sensation.
Scott: Well, let me actually dig down on neural symbols because it's a little bit of a complex concept, but it is super important to how we experience the world. So, here's what it is. Again, your brain is floating around in a float tank inside your skull. How does it get information about the world? And this is a thing. This goes right back to birth, like you're born, you're plopped out into the world and you have no experience of anything. And every time you feel something, this is going to create an archive of information that wherein your body learns about the world. And the fundamental process is what I'm calling yet neural symbols.
So, let's take the example of jumping into ice water. Even if you don't do ice water, you can imagine what that feels like. You think about yourself, ice on your body and you're going to want to clench a little bit. That's natural. Now, let's put our hero into that ice plunge, and this is the first time they've ever, ever, ever experienced ice in their life. Let's put them at the very beginning of their ice plunged life. They fall into the ice, and then their skin, all of those neurons go, “Holy crap,” and they send this signal. It goes through the peripheral nerves, it goes into their central channel, in the spinal column, and it is basically chemicals, electricity and there's a volume to it, but there's no character. It doesn't mean anything. It rockets into the brain, the lowest areas of brain stem, which is the limbic system.
And for this example, I like to think of the limbic system as something like a library. And there's a librarian in this library, and she gets this signal, and it comes and she's like, “Whoa, this is really loud, but I have no idea what it means,” because she's looked at all of the books in her library and she says, “No, no ice bath there.” So, what she does is she kicks this over to the paralimbic system, which is like a centimeter away, maybe even less than a centimeter. It kicks over there and the paralimbic system is something like a bookbinder. And he gets this message from the librarian and she says, “Hey, I don't know what this means. Can you identify it for me?” And he says, “Sure.” He takes the signal of the ice water, looks at it, and says, “Huh, this is the current emotional state that I'm feeling right now.”
That's what ice water means. And ice water, because there are actually some innate responses to cold that actually are even before of this, the experience of ice water is unmitigated terror and horror that you're there. So, he's like, “Okay. Ice water, unmitigated terror and horror.” Binds those two things together, kicks it down to the library and she's like, “Cool. I know what to do with ice water now. It's unmitigated horror and terror.” She files it into her library and you go on having the experience of ice water however that proceeds for you.
Now, and this is the most important thing here, is that the next time you jump into that ice bath, that signal rockets through your peripheral nerves as just signal. It comes up your central channel as just signal. It gets to the limbic librarian and she's like, “Cool. I felt this before. It's unmitigated horror and terror because I have the book on the shelf,” and she goes off, and she never sends it back to the limbic librarian, which means that no matter what your experiencing in life, you are living in your emotional past. And neural symbols are like — if you think of the body as like a computer, these are like the bits and the bytes, the ones and the zeros that makeup consciousness because it's not just ice water that gets filed like this, it's every single experience you have since birth has to come in through those channels, gets filed in these libraries, and that's how you experience the world.
So, what we're doing in the wedge oftentimes is trying to fill up that library to have more and more neural symbols there so that you don't just live in your emotional past because the thing that you can do is you can actually hack the way you experience something because you're actually — it's not just a one-time thing or it's not you just get one symbol for ice water, it's every time it comes in, you do have another opportunity to create a new symbol. And if you were having an entirely different emotional bent when that comes in, you have the chance for that bookbinder to create a new emotional attachment to that signal, and then you get a larger library of books. So, that's like the 101 —
Ben: By the way, this is exactly what actually a fellow who you spent some time with in researching this book — and I think he listens to this podcast, we'll say hello to him, Andrew Huberman down at Stanford, he does a ton of neuroscience research. We had a chance to punish a bunch of meat at US Wellness Meats in L.A. a few months ago. And Andrew is a great guy. I randomly ran into him swinging kettlebells actually at Gold's Gym the next morning, and he's also a beast of a man. So, wonderful researcher, very smart guy, off to have him on the podcast at some point. But if anybody wants to check out Andrew Huberman's research lab at Stanford, he's doing a lot of things in this respect regarding neural symbology and kind of reprogramming the brain with stress. You're doing things like virtual deep dives with the great white sharks and all sorts of crazy stuff.
But how does this relate, this idea of neural symbology, to something interesting that you got into in writing this book, this idea of throwing kettlebells at one another?
Scott: Yeah. So, yeah. I was at Andrew's lab, Andrew Huberman‘s lab and he was making me swim with virtual sharks. And the idea was to get into a place which is really scary, and then control your responses to that scary stimulus, and that was sort of a one basic concept of how the wedge techniques can operate. The problem was, is swimming with virtual sharks is just not scary unless you're scared of sharks, which I happen to not be. So, I was like, “This is sort of lame.” Even though he's got great explanations for how we wire our brains together, it wasn't actually that useful and I was looking for a technique that I could use.
So, I was leaving Huberman's lab and I get a message from a friend of mine, Tony Floreal. And he says, “Scott, you got to go meet my friend, Michael Castrogiovanni, because he'll throw kettlebells at you to put you into an instantaneous flow state. And I got this message and I was like, “That's possibly the douchiest text message I've ever gotten in my whole life.” What does it mean? My association with kettlebells at that point was basically overly large Russian dudes swinging things around and I wasn't sure why. Now, I know they're more interesting than that now, but this is my association, but I was like, “You know, I got some time. Why don't I go swing by and see what this Michael dude's all about?” So, we meet in San Francisco, and Michael is a gorilla. Think about a gorilla and that is Michael. He is large, his biceps are as big as my thighs, he's sort of hunched over —
Ben: You have a picture of him in the book with a kettlebell flying through the air like six feet above his head. It looks like about maybe like a two-pood 70-pound kettlebell, literally like way up above his head, the big bearded man standing in a field.
Scott: Yeah. And like legitimately a dangerous-looking guy and he's not, he's really nice, but looks dangerous. And so, we're standing across from each other, and I'm looking at him, and he's holding this kettlebell, and I know he's going to throw it at me and I'm a little bit freaked out because it's scary when two guys face off against each other. This is usually not about cooperation and love or anything. This is about I'm going to murder you with this weapon in my hand. So, I'm looking at him and there's this ritual to kettlebell throwing. And everyone who's thinking, “Wait, he throws kettlebells?” probably at some point in your mind already, you've thought to yourself, “Oh, he's going to break his foot.” Right? That came into your mind. He's going to fucking break his foot.
And at this point, I was thinking, “I'm going to break my foot.” It's going to happen. And so, he swings it and this is the ritual, like first, you look in each other's eyes, right? And then, he does one swing, and then another swing. So, you've been looking each other's eyes. In the second swing, you're supposed to switch your attention from each other's eyes, getting connected to each other to the threat that's going to definitely land on my foot, the kettlebell. And so, we switch our gaze. And on the third swing, he lets it go and it flips through the air, and my butt puckers tighten up, like crunch a diamond probably, and yet it lands in my hand because I am laser-like focused on this thing that's about to kill me. I grab it. It goes between my legs and I just fling it back.
And all of a sudden, this potentially confrontational sort of dangerous exercise turns from danger to dancing. I am literally dancing with a gorilla. And the exercise is not really about getting fit, although you certainly can get fit doing this, it's about connection, it's about empathy, it's about the fact that I don't want to hurt him and he doesn't want to hurt me, and we find that we have this whole language now that that is created by the situation we make because the danger of the kettlebell is always real, and it demands your attention. And because we're both focused on it, on that danger, our movements coordinate automatically. This is a flow state. This is two people communicating and operating as sort of like one mind when we're doing it. And this was like a magical eye-opening experience for me.
Ben: I should throw-in, by the way, that the idea of kettlebells and kettlebell tossing, kettlebell throwing, body awareness in the presence of fear and relaxation, in the presence of the fear of something like a kettlebell landing on your foot is not something I think you necessarily need to go to a kettlebell tossing course to experience because I just got done with my Russian kettlebell cert a few weeks ago, and now I'm training for Russian kettlebell cert 2, and many of the poses do involve the necessity to relax, to do deep nasal breathing with a relatively large unwieldy object often locked out over your head, engaged in movement patterns that you are learning. I am truly convinced, and I actually use kettlebells a lot with the clients I train, too. I'm convinced that kettlebells are one of the best ways to train, not just cardiovascular function and overall strength, but also relaxation when in a metabolically demanding situation.
Scott: Totally. And they're so simple, right? It's just a weight with a handle on it. And yet you can get involved in so many different types. I mean, people get really fit with kettlebells, which is awesome. But for me, that's weirdly the side effect because it's that relaxation you're talking about under stress, which is what is revolutionary for me. And I love seeing two people do it together, although I also will juggle kettlebells like I'm not — juggling sounds like you've got three or four. I'm really just talking about one. I'm sort of throwing it up and catching it, and that sort of thing. But here's the really cool thing. It's like you're training empathy. You go from fear to trust. And one of the most amazing ways to get into kettlebell throwing is to do it with a partner, like your partner, like your wife or your spouse or whatever because what usually happens is that first, kettlebell throwing is really difficult for couples. They throw terribly at first because every relationship has these little islands that we don't want to go to, right? Like the island of — I don't want to talk about your mother because she makes me angry.
And so, you don't really go to that island very often, and it's okay that these islands don't exist — that exist. You can still have a fine relationship, but you start seeing those trust barriers show up in kettlebell partner passing because it's things that you don't talk about. And then over time when you start doing it more and more often, you realize that you're both putting yourself in vulnerable positions. You're both going to have your foot smashed by that kettlebell. So, you have to be very, very careful. And presumably, you love your partner. Presumably, what actually ends up coming out are all the positive emotions. And so, there's a way to do almost therapy with kettlebells in a way that you don't have to go through the actual talking, which can create its own barrier at times.
Ben: Right, right. Well, you might contribute to some domestic violence reports from kettlebells being smashed into partner's heads with the release of this book. And I'm hoping people go about this the right way. What I'll do is I'll also link to Michael's website in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/thewedge if people want to look into learning how to do kettlebell tossing. My wife I think is probably not going to be on board, although I haven't breached this topic with her yet. I think she's probably going to want to stick to our relatively friendly tennis deathmatches, but the kettlebell thing I did find intriguing and it's a good way to illustrate this idea of neural symbology.
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Another thing that you get into quite a bit in the book, and forgive me because I know you talked about a lot more in the book than this, but I have of late for the reasons I dictated earlier found breathwork to be just absolutely fascinating. And you talked about two things in the book that I'd like to spend a little time on if you're game. That's breathwork and also plant medicine because those were two pretty interesting parts of this book and a big part.
Scott: Yeah, right.
Ben: So, the first is this idea of carbon dioxide often vilified as this acidic gas that you would not want an excess in your body yet a very helpful molecule. Now, I've mentioned in the past this idea of CO2 retention. And in doing so, cited the work of folks like Patrick McKeown, who wrote “The Oxygen Advantage,” who gets into things like the long livid potential of say like the naked mole-rat or the bowhead whale, and how part of that is tied to their very high CO2 tolerance. They're simultaneous maintenance of high levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
And for me as a physiologist, the idea of this Bohr effect, the idea that when you have high levels of carbon dioxide, oxygen more readily dissociates into tissue. I've always found that to just really make sense that you wouldn't want to necessarily blow off all your CO2 unless you were, in fact, trying to induce some type of sympathetic aesthetics, something like Wim Hof breathing, for example, which could be used to get you into a very sympathetic state. And part of that breathwork practice is you're breathing off a lot of CO2. But that doesn't mean CO2 is bad. And you took a deep dive into CO2.
Tell me about carbon dioxide and how you played around with it, and your experience with carbon dioxide.
Scott: Well, the first thing to note is that breathwork is the ultimate wedge, breathing. At one moment, you can just take over this process. You can breathe right now to get as deep a breath as you can and you have total control. And yet at the same time, if you stop paying attention, it is a completely automatic process where it just occurs without you thinking about it at all. And this is why going back to any esoteric tradition, breathwork really lies at the heart of everything. One of the first meditations the Buddha ever taught was focus on your breathing. And he had a couple different types. The yogis had pranayama, which is various types of breathing patterns to induce different states.
And I have two chapters on breathwork in the book. One of them is like me messing around with breathwork in order to induce sort of a psychedelic state. And in this, I am hanging out with a Wim Hof method instructor in a large group setting, and I just give it a lecture and I was like, “I'm going to stay for the breathwork.” And the Wim Hof breathing, you start breathing really rapidly in the really long sessions where you're doing like an hour or even two hours of Wim Hof breathing. Your breath-holds get really, really long. In that sort of setting, I can hold my breath for five, seven minutes, because you really start getting deep into your sensations.
Ben: Sorry to clarify again, on the inhale or on the exhale?
Scott: On the breath out exhale.
Ben: Okay. So, that's pretty impressive, yeah.
Scott: I mean, it's crazy and I can't just do it right now. You can't say, “Scott, hold your breath for seven minutes.” No. I have to be like doing it for a while to get to that moment. There's this trick, and I'm not going to detail how to do it on your podcast because I think it can be dangerous for people, but it's like 10% different than a normal Wim Hof session. Like there's just a little thing you do, which is just slightly different that alters the experience because normally when I'm doing the breathing, I'll have like these visions in my mind. You can say that this is chemical neurons firing. You could say it's talking to God. You could say whatever the hell you want. It only knows I see patterns and faces and things when I'm doing this. It could be well be my subconscious.
Ben: Look, man. You might not want to describe it, but I can because this is also something that I wove in with the course that I brought through my boys and — or with my boys, and it's essentially very similar to Wim Hof breathwork, but with an extremely intense, long, full breath in with squeezing every single muscle from your toe all the way up to the top of your head as hard as you can, especially your pelvic muscles, and basically, holding that push all the way up shooting light out the top of your head and often doing that for multiple rounds. And essentially, what you're doing is just hyper charging your pineal gland to produce DMT.
My 12-year-old boys have literally been steeped in DMT at least two or three times a week with this protocol. And of course, we're very careful in the first few times with it lying down. And then because I think your chakra is aligned better when you're in a cross-legged position, we've been shifting to do it in a cross-legged position, but that's essentially what it is. If anyone's driving now, please pull over if you're attempting to try this. But I mean, look, Scott, I'm looking at it right now. I have, and I'm not a huge fan of this, I think you can actually kind of [censored] up your ego and some of your neural patterning, the smoking of the chemical DMT.
But I actually have a DMT — I have a DMT vape pen, and very seldomly I've hit it because I actually don't really enjoy it. I don't enjoy the intensity of it. What I enjoy is the initiation of DMT via my own breath. It feels far more natural and far less potentially damaging to brain chemistry when I'm achieving it via breathwork. But that push, that hold, that squeeze, which is also a tactic often used in kundalini, it is very intense. And one other anecdote, and I don't know if you experienced this, but I have found that my orgasms during sex have absolutely just increased by leaps and bounds in terms of their length, their intensity, and the overall experience of sex after really, really sticking with this DMT style breathwork multiple times per week.
Scott: Do you do it during sex, or do you do it just — you keep that in your practice?
Ben: No. I'm just saying by doing this DMT practice — and we've been doing it about three times a week usually before dinner, in the sauna, finishing up with an ice bath, but then — and my wife isn't even with us when we're doing this, it's just me and my boys, but then, later on, that evening, if I have sex, it's just a complete next level.
Scott: You're in my life sounds like remarkably similar other than I don't have kids. I have two cats and they don't participate in any of this shit. But our lives sound actually remarkably similar, and I would say that, yeah, this stuff goes deep. It rewires you. It clears things out and makes you a lot more aware of possibility in your body. I have very similar results to what you're describing here as well. To continue the story, I did this DMT breathing in Ellie's (ph) class and I basically turned purple because you're holding your breath when you're doing it and you're doing this at the end of like a long breath-hold. Your autonomic breathing responses are off, like you've sort of subsumed them and they'll only regain until you consciously start it up again, which is hard to do since you're blasting down this tunnel of light, or if you pass out and then it will restart automatically there. So, you have a fail-safe.
But Ellie is sort of grabbing me on the shoulders and is like, “Scott, Scott, don't die in my fucking class,” because honestly, it looks really scary from the outside. This is really about the internal sensations. It will not look good on TV. It will not look good on your YouTube channel. It's about really digging in deep. And also, it's important to point out that we do not know what the medical benefits are of this, or if it's dangerous. It's like this is something that we can do that we can induce, and this is on the bleeding edge of any science that will ever get done on this, because I don't think anyone's going to research it in for real. But I do find it really interesting. And I actually do, when I'm doing the Wim Hof breathing, I will do short versions of this on the recovery breath between repetitions. I'll do a minor DMT push and it does push my practice a lot further down when I do that. I always do this lying down. I don't recommend in general sitting up because I've seen enough people pass out and hit their heads on the ground while doing it sitting up.
Ben: Yeah. The way that we do it is we sit cross-legged with our backs against the wall of the sauna, and we all have a folded up towel in front of us. And so, we can always kind of like go head down if we need to. And interestingly, something you might find fascinating, there is a plant extract called blue lotus, and blue lotus is something that actually enhances any type of DMT experience. You can actually smoke blue lotus or, in some cases, take it orally. What we do is we just put a little bit on the upper lip. I have this company called Essential Oil Wizardry that we get the blue lotus from, and that amplifies the experience even more.
And then, the other interesting thing that I found when I was looking into DMT is that calcification of the pineal gland actually really reduces the ability to be able to produce DMT. And in many people who may not have a good response, sometimes it's related to our pineal gland calcification. And two things I've come across that can contribute to that are high amounts of fluoride consumption, like drinking fluoridated water. And then, the other is very high exposure to lots of like EMF, Wi-Fi, 5G, Bluetooth signals, et cetera. So, lack of heavy amounts of EMF, and then also attention paid to like your personal care products to ensure you're not consuming a lot of fluoride or getting a good water filter without fluoride. That seems to help.
And then, the other thing is there's this thing in the longevity and anti-aging sectors that comes out of Russian research. This guy named Dr. Khavinson did a bunch of research on this. It's called a peptide. And upon injection, it has been shown to reduce all-cause risk of mortality. It's one of the best telomere lengthening longevity compounds that exists. But a side effect of it is decalcification of the pineal gland. That one's called Epitalon. And most folks using it do about a 10 to 20-day injection one time a year, and it's wonderful for the pineal gland. So, there's all sorts of kind of cool ways you can hack a DMT experience.
Scott: Sure. And also, one interesting thing about the pineal gland is — so in addition to DMT, it's the source of melatonin in your body, and that's the sleep chemical. But what is so fascinating about the connection between breathwork and DMT is that DMT is only one carbon dioxide molecule off of melatonin. So, that sort of shows you why there's this connection between those two things. Like DMT and melatonin, you add the CO2 to melatonin, boom, you have DMT. It needs to be done in very specific ways in certain organs and whatnot to make it work, but this is why there's that connection with breathwork. It's because we're actually using the CO2.
I mean, maybe in the squeeze, and then here I'm going way off-book, maybe in the squeeze, you're pushing CO2 into the pineal gland. I don't know. Interesting thought. But you asked about the other thing that — the other breathwork that I was doing, and you also very presciently noted Patrick McKeown‘s book, “The Oxygen Advantage.” So, with the Wim Hof method, you're blowing off CO2 in general. And then at the end of the long breath-hold, you've supercharged your CO2 because you blow off, you hyperventilate, and then you hold your breath for really long periods of time. That means that your CO2 levels are now filling up your lungs through respiration. Is it through respiration? I forgot the word for it, but because you're not breathing, your body is just dumping CO2 into your lungs until you breathe out.
Now, with the Buteyko method, which is essentially trying to slow down your breathing, and there's various ways of doing nasal breathing, just breathing slow or there's several ways to get into this, what you do is you build up that tolerance to CO2. And most Americans are, and actually, most people in the Western world, are chronic mouth breathers. We just have our mouths slack-jawed. Again, I am guilty of this, too. I like mouth breathing, I do it all the time, it's super easy, air moves in and out, I get it. But, the problem with this is because the movement of gas is so much less restricted through the mouth that we just end up breathing a lot faster. And if you look to indigenous groups, and McKeown mentions this, but Brian Mackenzie who was actually the guy I actually talked to specifically about breathing in the book —
Ben: Yeah. He's been on the show before.
Scott: Brian's fantastic. Love the guy. He says that in indigenous groups around the world, we look at some sort of old texts together in the book. They were very serious about breathing only through the nose. They would even do the equivalent of taping their mouths shut, there are other ways to do it. Keeping their mouths shut throughout the night so they would learn to build up this effectively CO2 tolerance, even though I'm sure they didn't think of it that way. And the reason why you'll do this is because if you're really tolerant to CO2 and you're always breathing through restricted pathways, when you switch over to the open mouth breathing, you can actually get a lot more oxygen. So, you could actually blow off the roof and have much more intense exertion because you're so used to CO2 in your body. So, it's like restricted breathing builds up the floor of your tolerance, and then letting it go of doing the hyperventilation blows off the roof. So, by manipulating those two methods, you can actually get some really cool events.
But the other thing that's super interesting about CO2 is that it correlates with anxiety. And every creature on Earth going — at least the fruit flies we know gets anxious around CO2. So, if you have like a CO2 heavy room or like a volcanic eruption, fruit flies are going to run away from it. And everyone else evolved down that chain has evolved that because the body doesn't actually detect oxygen. We detect CO2 levels in our body, and that's just sort of a quirk of evolution. But too much CO2 in the ambient environment could be deadly in the ancient history. And so, that's why we're all wired like this.
And when you have too much CO2, if you look at somebody who does cognitive behavioral therapy, which is — it's the gold standard of therapy out there right now. And you can think of CBT as like exposure therapy. And if somebody has panic attacks and the thought of panic attacks makes them more anxious, which it often does, what a CBT therapist will do is will put them in a very safe environment, their office, on a couch, gentle, good vibes setting, and then give them a dose of a 32% mixture of CO2 to induce a panic attack. It's just like a reflexive answer in your body. You'll have a panic attack, but it'll be in a safe setting. And the thought behind this is that you'll realize that the panic attack is just this physiological response. It's not like the end of the world.
So, that's a CBT method. And in general, if you become more tolerant to CO2, you're going to be a less anxious human in general, less emotionally reactive. Now, at one point in this book, it's actually not in the breathing chapter, it's in the float tank chapter, but I'm with this researcher in Oklahoma who says, “Oh, you've been doing a lot of breathwork.” I sort of dabble in CO2 studies on the side —
Ben: Was that the Feinstein guy, Justin Feinstein?
Scott: Yes, Justin Feinstein.
Scott: Mm-hmm, at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. And what he said was he'd been studying the effects of CO2 on people who have damaged amygdala. Now, the amygdala is the fear center in the brain, and that's where fear starts in most of us. And he said these people are generally biologically immune to fear it. So, they just don't do it. Think about that guy free soloing up El Cap. He looks down and he just doesn't have the fear responses that you and I have because of the innate biology.
And actually, I don't know if Alex Honnold, the guy who did El Cap, actually does have this damage, but it's this idea. There's a center that's damaged. He doses them with CO2 and they will actually still have the panic attack because it's even a much more primal, kickstarter for anxiety and panic. So, he said, “Scott, you've been doing Wim Hof method for a while, let me dose you with CO2.” And I was like, “Yeah, I'd love to.” I do stupid stuff, so that's what I did. I sat down and he gives me this bag, and I'm sitting down, I had that mask on. And he says, “Here's how it works. Over the next 30 minutes, I want you to press the button that releases the CO2 mixture into your mask three times, and I just want to see how you respond.” And you can rate your anxiety, and there's like a way to rate it.
And so, I'm sitting there and I'm like, “Oh, man. Here I am. This dude has been doing breathwork for a while. I'm going to totally embarrass myself. I'm going to rip this mask off in the [00:53:38] _____ the room.” And I do not like what I've gotten myself into. But I pressed the button, and then I had this — the acidic CO2 comes my mouth and tastes a little like an orange in a way. It goes into my body. And then instantaneously, I'm transported to the sensations that I have at the end of a Wim Hof breath-hold. And I'm like, “Wow, this is amazing. I'm charging down that tunnel of light again. Wow!” And the doctor is looking at me and was like, “Wait, what's happening?” And I'm like, “No. This is great. I love it. This is joy, this is fun.”
And over the next 30 minutes — actually, he cuts the test off early because over the next 15 minutes, I pressed that button like 11 times because I'm so interested in the sensations that I'm getting with CO2. And he's like, “Wow! I need to study you more because you have obviously changed the way that your body responds to CO2.” And the way I look at it is I have created neural symbols to the CO2, to the stress of CO2 that has identified it differently in my brain matter somehow. And he says that theoretically, this could be a great way just to alter anxiety responses in all humans.
Ben: Yeah. I wonder if this is something that is just as easily achievable via like some of the CO2 — are you familiar with the CO2 retention tables that like a freediver will use or spearfisherman to train for breath-hold? Yeah, the CO2 retention apnea tables. I'm wondering how close you could get to that level of CO2 just using something like a CO2 retention table.
Scott: Totally. I mean, honestly, these are just two sides of the same thing. Wim Hof is you breathe off all your CO2, but then you're holding your breath for a long time, so then you have to build up CO2 tolerance. Freediving tables, there's a great thing called Apnea Trainer if you want to just do some techniques. It's on your iPhone and whatever. Yeah, that will also build up CO2. It's just a different method to get to ultimately the same result, although — and I'm going to point this out again because you did point this out earlier in the top of the episode. Never, never, never mix Wim Hof breathing with diving because you will die. Nine people have died doing this. It doesn't work for diving, but it does for anxiety.
Ben: Yeah. But I mean, for sitting or laying down like these CO2 tables, I actually have it in Chapter 3 of my book “Boundless“, I've got an oxygen retention table and a CO2 retention table. In the CO2 retention table, all you're doing is two minutes of breathing, and then a two-minute breath-hold, then a minute and 45 rest, then a two-minute breath-hold, then a minute 30 rest, and a two-minute breath-holds. You're essentially just like decreasing your recovery times in between each breath-hold. And an oxygen table is just the opposite.
If people want, I'll link in the shownotes, too, the freediving website. U.K. has a freediving website that has these retention tables you can print. So, if anybody wants to mess around with this stuff, what I found most interesting though was the idea that you actually went to a laboratory and inhaled CO2, and that A, that's something that can be used to train yourself for co2 tolerance, and B, you experience something that shock the researcher just based on the fact that you've already done this much breathwork going in.
So obviously, you had trained your physiology without using some type of fancy laboratory equipment. And so, you show at least from an anecdotal standpoint that you're definitely increasing your CO2 tolerance in a pretty profound way with some of these breathwork experiences. Again, and we should clarify because I know this gets confusing for folks, like the DMT stuff we talked about, the Wim Hof stuff we talked about, that's all not carbon dioxide retention. You're blowing off carbon dioxide. That's respiratory alkalosis.
So, blood carbon dioxide is decreasing, but then other forms of breathwork such as what Patrick McKeown talks about, or Anders Olsson is another guy who has a wonderful book called “The Power of Breath,” I think, most of what they teach is CO2 retention. And I'm a firm believer that training yourself how to do both forms, one for more of like a sympathetic arousal, inner fire type of approach or a DMT release, and then the other for more relaxation and tolerance, the stress, is kind of a good approach.
Scott: Yeah, exactly.
Ben: Okay. So, I want to get into just a couple of other things. You had an experience with what you call the “truth serum.” And I believe that you experienced this with your wife. And so, tell me about what the truth serum is and what your experience is with that, or was with that.
Scott: Sure. So, what we're doing in the wedge is I'm trying to find different environments in which to inhabit that then I can control my stimulus in that. A lot of this is external environments like a flotation tank, or the fear of catching a kettlebell. These are all things coming in from the outside. But remember, the way we experience the world comes through the synapses, comes through the peripheral nerves and gets into the brain. So, there's another place you can put the wedge, which is with pharmaceuticals with psychedelics, and what they call, and pathogens that literally alter the way you feel the world, and then you respond to it that way.
And so, what I did is I got very interested in MDMA, which is essentially the street drug ecstasy. And maybe you've heard about the MAPS program or these psychedelic studies that are going on right now to look at the way MDMA can be used in therapy. So, I was like, “Cool. Let's jump in and see how I can use this.” And what I did is my wife, who was actually the real hero of the book, you hear me talking, but my wife is like a partner with me in almost all the crazy stuff that I did. And the miracle of the book is that our relationship survived and is even stronger now because of it.
But what we did is we found two therapists in my local area who had never seen MDMA used before, but they're couple therapists, and we took MDMA in their presence. And there's a whole protocol of how we did it and how we found the drugs, it was sketchy, and how we tested the drugs, it was less sketchy. And then we're sitting there, and what MDMA does in a therapeutic setting is makes you nonreactive. It makes everything that you hear or feel come in in the most positive possible way, and it's just the way the chemical works. Now, again, results do vary. It's a chemical and people can have a variety of interactions. But in general, this is what happens on MDMA.
And what we were able to do is talk about very difficult things in our relationship, but no reactivity. And to give an example, and this is not something that we said necessarily, but was I could say to my wife, “I hate your mother.” And she would be like, instead of usually, “I hate your mother,” and you get in a fight, she'd be like, “Oh, I understand. Tell me why.” And then you'd have a long discussion about that. And the therapist who saw us doing — it takes about three hours to do this. It was like watching six or eight months of couple's therapy take place in just three hours because you were just hearing each other, you're really feeling each other, you're totally empathetic to each other, and then you're looking for solutions, and those solutions then stuck afterwards. I think that MDMA therapy is going to be a revolution once we finally clear the FDA protocols, which honestly, it looks like it's doing it right now.
Ben: Well, I mean, a big thing we need is for ravers, who are largely using this as ecstasy Molly or Mandy to back off and for people to begin to realize, just like — I mean, honestly, I feel the same about cannabis, ayahuasca, DMT, anything else, the therapeutic use and potential of this. And just to clarify, like I'm a born again Christian, like I'm not the kind of guy you would expect to respect or to utilize these type of drugs, but I think everything was created for a noble purpose, for a good purpose, and that it can be bastardized or used incorrectly. I feel the same way about MDMA.
I've personally had four separate times with my wife when we've used it or variants of it and had very similar experience to you in terms of the trust, the connectiveness, and most importantly, the sticking of the integration, like the sticking of what my wife and I call the magic. It's just like we don't fight anymore, we don't argue, we have a very trusting relationship with each other, and our house is just like steeped in love. And I'm not convinced that a drug or a chemical is the only thing that can do that. And I think that integration is important. And I think that there's a lot of other deep spiritual work that needs to be done to really ensure a relationship is as rock-solid as possible. But yes, this so-called truth serum as you referred to in your book, it is some pretty powerful shit when it comes to enhancing the level of a relationship.
Scott: Sure. I find it very interesting that you say you're a born again Christian. I didn't know that. But what is very fascinating is at the end of the book where we do the ayahuasca experience, but did you know that in Brazil and Peru and Colombia, ayahuasca is part of the Christian tradition there? Like, it is integrated into the rituals and the ceremonies in, not all the churches down there, but there's a whole revivalist movement around ayahuasca in South America right now.
Ben: Yeah. There's a Native American church up here that utilizes ayahuasca. I haven't visited them or taken part of any of their ceremonies, but apparently, part of the Christian sector of the Native American ceremonies up here around Washington State also incorporates some elements of ayahuasca as well. So, I think some of these plants can indeed, and I realize is very controversial in the Christian sectors, but I think many of them when used responsibly can bring you closer to God or put you, just like a deep state of meditation, into a spiritual state where you really are conversing with God or speaking with God on a much deeper level. I do not think that you need drugs to go to church, you need drugs to pray, or you need drugs to get more out of the Bible, but they can certainly in a very intriguing way enhance your spirituality when used properly, and also when not — depending on as a crutch. It's not like every time you go to church, you got to take shrooms, but it is really, really interesting. And I wasn't aware of that with South America, in Christianity in South America, but it's quite fascinating.
Scott: Yeah. It's interesting. Terence Mckenna, who is the guy who founded the idea called psychonauts, like these people who use different psychedelic chemicals to have transcendent experiences, he has a very interesting theory, which I find personally very compelling, is that the roots of religion probably come from psychedelic experiences with our Paleolithic ancestors. Right? It's because we know that in the climates where humans first emerged, we were hanging around environments where mushrooms would just grow from ruminant poop, because that's where psilocybin mushrooms grow. They grow in cow and horse poop.
And he says, “It is inevitable that humans would have walked around and seen these mushrooms, and likely, that some of them ate them.” And if they ate them, and since we know they had the same biology that we do, they would have had similar experiences as we do. And since most people experience some very powerful hallucinations that are interestingly similar between people, of god, of death, of coming to terms with psychological things, he believes that this is actually the founding of religion. This is the founding of how we started really thinking about things greater than us, and maybe connecting to those things. Take or leave his theory as you like, but I find it very interesting, very compelling. The only problem with it is that it has the worst name in the entire world of anthropological theories, which is called the Stoned Ape Theory, which is I think why it went nowhere.
Ben: Right. Yeah, yeah. It's a horrible semantics, but it does make sense. Again, that's a super-duper controversial topic amongst Christians because there's some thought that when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden initially and ate of this tree of the fruit of good and evil that perhaps that was a mushroom or psilocybin or something that opened up their senses so deeply that they had this deep knowledge of good and evil, and that's why God didn't want them to consume that. And I personally don't think that was the case. I think whatever they ate was something that humankind got banned from for the rest of all time. We'd get into the weeds on that, but ultimately, I think that the takeaway message here is when used responsibly, a lot of these compounds, whether synthetic or natural have some pretty impressive effects, especially on something like relationships. So, I just found that part of your book absolutely fascinating.
First of all, you intrigued me because every time you put out a book, it just seems to be these new dives into really cool areas, and I'm curious if you could perhaps open the kimono for folks and let people know if there are certain other things you're looking into now or a little biohacks you begun to implement or things you're keeping your eye on for a future title. What's next for you?
Scott: So, the thing about the wedge is that this book is not the 10 techniques to make you super awesome. This is not a cookbook to say, “If you just throw kettlebells and take some drugs and do some breathwork, you're going to be super awesome.” These are all things that have worked for me, that I have enjoyed, that I've gotten something out of. And I think that people can try them, but what I'm trying to do is put people — make them aware that when they do any practice — because the wedge is everywhere, it's in the DMV, it's when you're driving a car, it's when you're a soldier in combat. You're always pushing yourself against stress.
So, I'm trying to give people tools in which they can then generalize this journey and make it their own because you don't want to just follow me around. No one does. No one wants to be me. But you can find that in your own life. You can use them anywhere. So, I got 10 things I do in this book. But where I will go next — I mean, I think that there'd be really something cool to do a sound because I didn't cover sound in the book, and I think that sound can totally — it's the stimulus that is primal. It can make you connected to people, it can modulate your heartbeat, it can go so deep, and I just didn't do that in the book. Maybe that's going to be a one-off that I do next.
Ben: Just a second. You're going to hear my voice get faint because I'm going to walk our own bookshelf. I want to tell you a book I just read, “Sound Medicine” by Kulreet Chaudhary, an MD, “How to Use the Ancient Science of Sound to Heal the Body and the Mind.” Have you seen that one?
Scott: Never seen it, but Chaudhary? Great, got it.
Ben: Yeah. It's more didactic. Like I would love to see a title like this written from a more immersive journalist standpoint because his is more written — as a physician would write a book about sound medicine. But somebody like you getting out there and just experiencing all this stuff for yourself as the type of writer that you are, I think that would be fascinating. I'd love to see you do something on sound medicine.
Scott: Yeah. I mean, I think it's in the lineup, right? So, sound, I'm interested in — there's something called Shaking Medicine, which is interesting. It's like when your nervous system shakes and you sort of go back and forth, it's the edge of a shiver but with anxiety. There's something called Shaking Medicine in the Native American's tradition. I think it's also called TRE, something released. And I think there's something there, I don't know what, but I will look into this. Also, just in sleep. Like, what can we do in dream states to maybe alter the way our habits work?
So, these are the three that I'm playing with. I do not know if these books will ever get written, but certainly, the guideposts are all the things that I'm doing in this book. It's creating sensations, creating stimulus, and then trying to chart of course against or with those stimulus to do things. I talked about the wedge is creating space between stimulus and response. And that's really easy to visualize with Wim Hof. You're suppressing your shiver. But the other way the wedge can work is actually removing that wedge, that there is no thought, it just happens, and that's a flow state. That's what we're doing with kettlebells where we remove the wedge entirely, and then you're just acting automatically. And I think there's just a lot of places that we can insert these wedges to make our lives better and more interesting, and I'm heavily down this road. So, we'll see where it all goes.
Ben: I love it. And I have two last thoughts about what you just said before we part ways. The first is for the shaking piece, I think all you need to do is just get a mini trampoline and that's about it. That's a fast track to the shaky. And I just in part, but I actually jump up and down on my mini trampoline almost every morning now and I feel amazing. And so, I think there's something too like the Tai Chi-esque full-body shaking and the lymph fluid from the rebounding, but I am familiar with this idea of traumatic release through shaking, and it's something that I discussed with a previous podcast guest of mine who does this, and who also, related to the second thing you brought up, has cracked the code on some really intense lucid dreaming principles and is able to control his dreams in a pretty profound way, and who has even appeared in my dreams. And when I call him up the next day, he knows he's been there. His name is —
Scott: No way.
Ben: Yeah. His name is Drew Canole. I've interviewed him and I'll put a link to my interview with him in the shownotes. But if you look at my interview with him, we don't get deep into the lucid dreaming and the shaking, but he would probably be a guy you'd want to go hang out with for a day or two if you write this book. He's in San Diego.
Ben: Yeah. Wow. Okay, everybody. First of all, we discussed a lot of stuff. We discussed all these other books, Scott's book, my previous podcast with him, CO2 retention tables, Epitalon, blue lotus oil. I've just been taking notes this whole time. So, anything you guys want to take a deep dive into, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/thewedge. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/thewedge, and I will put it all there. And then also, you can leave your questions, your comments, and your feedback over there. I'd love to hear what you guys think about discussions with fascinating people like Scott. And Scott, thank you for writing this book and for giving your time and coming back on the show, man.
Scott: Great. Yeah. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And also, I've got a website, scottcarney.com. I'm on all the other places. I'm sure you're going to have links in your shownotes to all of those spots, too.
Scott: Yeah. And I really hope that people dig deep, right? We've got one life to live. Let's go feel things deeply and see what happens.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I agree. Well, Scott, you're doing it and I appreciate you coming on the show. So, folks, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Scott Carney signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
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.
My guest on today's show, an immersive journalist and self-experimenter named Scott Carney, first joined me for the fantastic episode entitled “What Doesn’t Kill Us: Why Your Body Needs Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude & Environmental Conditioning.“
Today, Scott—a New York Times Bestselling author—is back to discuss his brand new book, which I found to be a thrilling and inspirational read: The Wedge: Evolution, Consciousness, Stress and the Key to Human Resilience.
Thrive or die: That's the rule of evolution. Despite this brutal logic, some species have learned to survive in even the most hostile conditions. Others couldn't—and perished. While incremental genetic adaptations hone the physiology of nearly every creature on this planet, there's another evolutionary force that is just as important: the power of choice. In an explosive investigation into the limits of endurance, in The Wedge, Scott discovers how humans can wedge control over automatic physiological responses into the breaking point between stress and biology. We can reclaim our evolutionary destiny.
While writing the book, Carney submerged himself in ice water and learned breathing techniques from daredevil fitness guru Wim Hof. It gave him superhuman levels of endurance and quieted a persistent autoimmune illness. At the core of those methods is a technique called The Wedge that can give a person an edge in just about any situation.
In this thrilling exploration of the limits and potential of the human body, Carney searches the globe for people who understand the subtle language of how the body responds to its environment. He confronts fear at a cutting-edge neuroscience laboratory at Stanford, and learns about flow states by tossing heavy weights with partners. He meets masters of mental misdirection in the heat of a Latvian sauna, experiments with breathing routines that bring him to the cusp of transcendence, searches his mind in sensory deprivation tanks, and ultimately ends up in the Amazon jungle with a shaman who promises either madness or universal truth. All of this in service of trying to understand what we're really capable of. What can we accomplish when there are no true human limits?
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-What exactly “The Wedge” is…18:00
- It's a continuation of Scott's book, What Doesn't Kill Us
- Learned in depth from Wim Hof(breath holds, ice water)
- Less anxiety
- Improved immunity
- Breath holds prepare the body for the ice water
- Ben did daily Wim Hof Breathworkwith his kids for 4 weeks
- Morozko Forge(use code BENFORGE for $150 off the retail price for any Forge)
- Natural response to ice water is to crunch up; Wim teaches you to relax
- The Wedgeseparates stimulus from response to stressful situations
- Change (or hack) the way we respond and react to stress
- Focus on the response vs. the reaction
- Tony Robbins' walking over hot coals
- The people who get burned are the most confident they'll get across okay
- Fear releases a slight amount of perspiration on the feet which may assist getting across the coals
-The concept of “neural symbology”…18:23
- We create an “archive” of information every time we experience a new sensation (neural symbols)
- Someone experiences ice water for the first time
- Signal goes to the brain: chemicals, electricity, volume, but no character (to the limbic system)
- Brain receives the signal but can't decipher what it means
- Signal goes to the paralimbic system (like a book binder)
- Paralimbic identifies ice water as terror/horror due to the body's response to it
- The next time we have ice water, we experience terror/horror due to our previous experience
- We're living in the emotional past
- The Wedgefills up the library with more and more neural symbols to not live in the emotional past
- Creating new symbols with each experience (grow the collection of books in the library)
-How kettlebells build trust and allow your body to relax in the face of stress…24:10
- Andrew Hubermanvirtual shark tanks to simulate a scary situation (which didn't work because Scott's not afraid of sharks)
- Introduced to kettlebellthrowing as a way to create a legit scary situation
- It's more about focus, empathy, connection with the other person vs. getting in shape
- Relaxation under stress
- It's a great way to strengthen a bond between spouses
- Kettlebell Partner Passing, invented by Michael Castrogiovanni
-Scott's findings on carbon dioxide (CO₂)…37:09
- Breathing is the ultimate “wedge”
- DMT breathworkto induce a psychedelic state
- Benefits of DMT breathwork
- Vape pens can be intense
- Better achieved via breathwork
- Better orgasms
- Creates awareness of possibilities in the body
- Blue Lotus from Essential Oil Wizardry
- Calcification of the pineal gland inhibits production of DMT through breathwork
- High amounts of fluoride consumption
- High exposure to EMF
- Epitalon creates calcification in the pineal gland
- DMT is one CO₂ molecule off of melatonin (which is created by the pineal gland)
- The Oxygen Advantageby Patrick McKeown
- Buteyko breathingmethod builds up tolerance to CO₂
- Mouth breathing is very problematic (listen to BGF podcast with James Nestor)
- BGF podcast with Brian MacKenzie
- CO₂ correlates with anxiety (body doesn't detect oxygen)
- CBT method to counteract panic attacks
- Justin Feinstein Laureate Institute for Brain Research
- CO₂ apnea table
- Apnea Trainersmartphone app
- Never mix Wim Hof breathing with diving
-How Scott and his wife condensed 6 months of couples therapy into 3 hours…58:00
- MDMA (ecstasy) or what Scott calls “Truth Serum”
- Scott and his wife took MDMA in the presence of 2 couples therapists
- Ayahuasca is part of the Christian church in S. America and small parts of N. America
- Terence McKennatheorizes that the roots of religion come from psychedelic plants during the Paleolithic era
-Projects and biohacks Scott is currently working on…1:07:30
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
– Podcasts and articles:
- With James Nestor: Biohacking breath
- With Brian MacKenzie: Performance breathing
- With Drew Canole: Lucid dreaming
- With Scott Carney: What Doesn't Kill Us book review
- With Patrick McKeown: The Oxygen Advantage
- With Dennis McKenna: Ayahuasca 101
- Ben's article on Epitalon: The Little-Known Russian Wonder Compound & The Fringe Future Of Anti-Aging Medicine
- Ben's article on Smart Drugs: Limitless & Lucy – Your Ultimate, Done-For-You Guide To Nootropics, Smart Drugs & Psychedelics.
- The Wedge,What Doesn't Kill Us, and other books by Scott Carney
- The Oxygen Advantageby Patrick McKeown
- Sound Medicineby Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary
- Breathby James Nestor
- Morozko Forge(use code BENFORGE for $150 off the retail price for any Forge)
- Mini trampoline
– Other resources:
- Wim Hof Breathwork
- Tony Robbins' walk over hot coals
- Huberman Lab
- Michael Castrogiovanni's Kettlebell Partner Passing
- DMT breathwork
- Blue Lotus or Third Eye from Essential Oil Wizardry
- Buteyko breathing
- Justin Feinstein of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research Feinstein Laboratory
- CO₂ Apnea table
- Apnea Trainersmartphone app
- Article on The Bioregulator Company: Epitalon And The Pineal Gland
- Article on FreeDive UK: CO₂ and O₂ Training Tables for Freediving
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