[0:00:59] Podcast Sponsors
[0:04:23] Introduction to The Podcast
[0:08:15] What is Vishen Up to at the Moment?
[0:13:39] Beginnings of Vishen and Mindvalley
[0:19:00] About Meditation
[0:22:22] Back to the Beginnings or Vishen
[0:26:26] Silva Method to Mindvalley Intuition Training
[0:30:24] The 113 Points That Are Measured in The Mindvalley Program
[0:34:06] Vishen's Own Personal Habits and Biohacks
[0:40:01] Podcast Sponsors
[0:42:53] Asperger’s Geek Syndrome
[0:44:04] 6 Phase Meditation
[0:50:00] Continuing Vishen's Own Personal Habits and Biohacks
[0:57:26] How Vishen Fixed His Eyesight
[1:03:38] Vishen's Sleep Routine
[1:08:17] The WildFit Quests
[1:18:29] Beauty and Longevity Quest
[1:24:00] Mindvalley Events
[1:27:24] Closing the Podcast
[1:29:27] End of Podcast
Ben: I have a master's degree in physiology, biomechanics, and human nutrition. I've spent the past two decades competing in some of the most masochistic events on the planet from SEALFit Kokoro, Spartan Agoge, and the world's toughest mudder, the 13 Ironman triathlons, brutal bow hunts, adventure races, spearfishing, plant foraging, free diving, bodybuilding and beyond. I combine this intense time in the trenches with a blend of ancestral wisdom and modern science, search the globe for the world's top experts and performance, fat loss, recovery, gut hormones, brain, beauty, and brawn to deliver you this podcast. Everything you need to know to live an adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life. My name is Ben Greenfield. Enjoy the ride.
Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield. I don't know why I'm talking like Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh. By the way, Winnie-the-Pooh, that new Winnie-the-Pooh, it's actually a fantastic movie, Christopher Robin. I watched it with my kids. I love all the little sayings that Winnie-the-Pooh has in there. I wish there was a whole book full of Winnie-the-Pooh quotes. If that exists, let me know. I'll totally go out and grab it and just read Winnie-the-Pooh, read myself to sleep with Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet too.
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Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield. As promised, I've got my friend on the show today, Vishen Lakhiani. And he has been a previous podcast guest a long time ago. Vishen will tell you a little bit about his backstory during today's show but one of the things he's done among his huge range of accomplishments is he has designed meditation apps. And way back when I hosted him on the show to talk about meditation and how to use apps to meditate better, since that podcast, I mean the whole app world for meditation has freaking exploded, from Oak to Calm to Headspace to all these newfangled apps. But, Vishen was one of the first.
So, I'll link to that first podcast with him in the show notes for this episode, which you'll be able to access over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quest. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quest. Why Quest? Well, because Vishen has gone on and really taking a deep dive in the world of transformational education. You may recall if you're a podcast listener for the past year or so that myself and my family lived in Estonia for a few weeks over the summer and we were specifically there to attend Vishen's university.
He actually does a university every year called Mindvalley University in which entrepreneurs and forward-thinkers from all over the globe arrive often with their families to learn from some of the world's best teachers. He creates these really cool transformational learning experiences and he'll tell you a little bit about those too on today's show.
In addition to that, however, he also creates these amazing online courses on things like nutrition and fitness. There's a great one in there on kind of like building your ideal life using something called The Life Book. My friend Jim Kwik has a really good one on brain biohacking and memory. There's a whole host of Quests. We'll talk about those because they're very unique. They're not like you've seen before, like Udemy or Khan Academy, far different. So, we'll chat about that a little bit. And he also has an incredibly popular book that I recommend called “Code of the Extraordinary Mind,” one of the most popular books on Amazon for a while, and I'll link to that one as well.
So, again, I'll put tons of goodies for you over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quest if you want to stalk Vishen even more than you're yet to stalk him on today's show. And recently, I even worked with Vishen and his team to create something called A Beauty and Longevity Quest, a beauty and longevity quest. So, we're going to chat about that a little bit too because Vishen got the flight to my house and spent some time in the cold pool and doing snow angels out in the frigid icy tundra. So, Vishen, welcome to the show, man.
Vishen: Hey, Ben. Thank you so much for that introduction. That was humbling. Firstly, I got to say this. I listen to a lot of podcasts and when I introduced you on stage in Tallinn, Estonia and I said, “Ben is the guy I listen to most often,” that was the truth. I love your podcast. I love the guests you bring on and the topics you cover and that crazy awkward sense of humor. So, it's an honor to be on the podcast that I actually listen to most. And I guess everyone listening, kudos to you, you've got great taste.
Ben: That's great. Let's try to make this as awkward as possible then. We'll just stay awkward the whole time. What part of the world are you in right now? Because I know you bounce all over the place.
Vishen: I'm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I'm Malaysian by birth. I'm about to fly to New York to film with eight different authors, including the guy who founded Spartan Race. I'm so excited about that.
Ben: Oh, Joe.
Vishen: Yeah, yeah. I'm doing an episode with Joe. My entire team right now — well, not my entire team but a good chunk of them is training for the Spartan Race. So, we are a Spartan Race-obsessed company.
Ben: Oh, wow. I had no clue. I literally was just with Joe over at Spartan World Championships in Tahoe. He's nuts. What he tried to do when I showed up–first thing he did after I saw him was, he wanted to stick me in a container for 24 hours and have me run in a treadmill while eating bananas as part of a fundraiser campaign. I politely declined because I had work to do while I was there and I was racing. But he convinced five other guys to do it. So, he had these young men running on a treadmill in complete darkness and sensory deprivation with literally bananas and water for 24 hours to see who could run the farthest. And, of course, the complete mind-F part of it was that none of the guys in the containers knew how far the other guys in the containers had run. And Joe comes up with all these harebrained ideas. So, that'll be interesting to hear your interview with him.
Vishen: You know, that sounds like a Fox television reality TV show.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Vishen: I would pay to see that.
Ben: Except he probably does stuff. Yeah. He probably does what the television shows can't do for reasons of like litigiousness and liability. But ultimately, what you mentioned, your team doing the whole Spartan Race together. That's what I've really been impressed with on Mindvalley. A lot of people listening in may not even know what Mindvalley is, and I certainly want to get into you and your life because you do a lot of biohacking and brain and body optimization. But before we delve into that–
Vishen: I just want to finish that train of thought. So, I'm going to New York to film with eight different authors. So, what we do is–my goal is to develop this singular best program in every field in transformational theory. So, for example, as you know, we're working with you, Ben, on the longevity program because I love your work. We're working with Neale Donald Walsch on a program on awakening consciousness, with Jim Kwik on meta-learning and super brain. And so, I'm obsessed with science and data and technology, I'm a computer engineer by training when applied to transformation.
So, Mindvalley, we're around 300 people globally. Our headquarters are in Kuala Lumpur. We have an office in Tallinn, Estonia. And what we try to do is develop the singular best online learning experience for any type of ability that people want to gain that is in the field of transformation. So, I go to New York, I interview these authors, and I try to identify who is the next great author that we can bring on to our platform. Right now, we put about 100 authors on stages globally and there are 20, just 20, that are on our Quest platform. And these authors, we create world-class quality filming with their work and we put them on a technology platform that's crushing it in terms of student results. Like right now, it's 8x above industry average. So, anyway, that's what I do. But I'm going to New York, going to Tallinn. We're opening up an office over there. That's where we run our global seminars and events. And I'm going to Vienna to teach meditation at the UN. I'm super excited about that. And then, I'm coming back home to see my kids again.
Ben: Wow. Speaking of kids, by the way, according to my children, probably the two top authors you should interview would be whoever wrote “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Captain Underpants.” So, add those to your list because in the Greenfield household, those are the two top authors of all time.
Vishen: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” incredible book, and I know the author.
Ben: Really? No kidding.
Vishen: Yes. I have a connection with that author. Anyway, that's a great tip. Please, thank your children for me. I've always known your kids were geniuses. But, they just bet I'm literally going to make that happen.
Ben: They would flip if there was a Mindvalley Quest with those guys. I don't know what you'd actually learn from “Captain Underpants” and Wimpy Kid but I'm sure you could pull some kind of knowledge out of those cats. Go ahead.
Vishen: Well, remember, when your children said they missed 4th of July and I organized a 4th of July party in Estonia for them? Well, same thing. We're going to make this happen. Because your kids are human beings I listen to.
Ben: And just to give you guys a little sneak peek of things like the Mindvalley University or A-Fest, Mindvalley University, Vishen throws all these amazing parties. That's one of the things they're known for with their Mindvalley events. There are just these amazing parties and after events and he decided, after my kids said they were going to miss 4th of July, to literally throw a giant U.S. American flag, a hotdog, French fry, beer 4th of July party right out in the middle of freaking Estonia. Furthermore, when I was at A-Fest, where were we? We're in Sardinia, Italy at the A-Fest for longevity every single night. I mean, we were out 'til like 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. one night out on the beach 'til sunrise just basically partying and dancing and having an amazing time. So, if you haven't yet tapped into any of his events, I'll put links to them in the shownotes. But Mindvalley is doing some really cool things. So, any of you who haven't kind of taken a deep dive into that, check them out.
Vishen: I just want to make sure people aren't getting the wrong idea. We do not organize parties and festivals. We organize great transformational events. Our goal is to be like–part of our goal for our seminar division is to be like the TED of Transformation. But what we find that I'm sure your listeners will relate to this, we connect best–in today's world, I think we connect best with people who share our passion for transformation. So, if you run Spartan Races, you are going to love to be around people who run Spartan Races. If you meditate, you love being around people who take that seriously. And when we bring these people together at these transformational events, they click so well, they click so well that they want to stay up 'til 7 a.m. talking. And we just create these beautiful experiences for them to connect because connection is one of the most important things you can give someone in today's world.
Ben: Yeah. It's a good point. It's not quite exactly the burning man type of experience I could have just painted it as. But yeah, it just seems to be such a cool group of people that inevitably it turns into kind of a combination of learning and transformation and then just this amazing social time. Good food, too, by the way.
Anyways though, so Vishen, this whole thing with Mindvalley, before I get into some of your own help packs, the brain and body optimization things that you do, the fact that you reverse degradation in your eyesight, enhance your vision just recently which I find fascinating and I want to ask you a little bit about that too, when did you actually launch Mindvalley and why?
Vishen: So, I used to be a computer engineer and in 2002, I moved to Silicon Valley with these ridiculously big dreams of starting the next great social media/internet/MySpace-like/distributed community/technology. And it turned out that I was absolutely clueless and I ended up losing all my money including $30,000 that my father had loaned me. So, I found myself broke, unemployed, couldn't even afford to pay for insurance, got into a car accident, and now, I owed all of this money to the car I hit, had a wrecked car, couldn't afford rent, was renting a sofa from a college student in Berkeley. I had this fabulous degree but I had no money, was broke, and I had to hide it from everyone except my girlfriend at that time, Kristina, who's now my wife.
Now, I was sending out my resume to every company on Facebook but it was tough because the bubble had burst. I remember in April 2001; 14,000 people were laid off. So, what happened was I got this shitty little job dialing for dollars. Basically, I had to pick up the phone and call law firms and sell them on technology and I sucked at it. I mean, I was a computer engineer. What did I know about selling lawyers tech? And when you're in that job interrupting the day of an American attorney who's ridiculously busy, as a telemarketer, you will hear more FUs than you possibly can imagine in your life. So, there, I was 26–25, 26 years old being yelled at 10 to 20 times a day being told that I was a meaningless piece of, you know what. And all of this made me go into a depression, and I was thinking, “Holy shit, I spent five years getting a computer engineering degree. I moved to Silicon Valley with these big dreams and this is what my life has come down to?”
And so, in desperation, I got online and I Googled for help and I can't remember what I put in. I think it was maybe a phrase such as, “Why does life suck so bad?” And I discovered a class in meditation. So, I flew down to the class. It was in Los Angeles. And the reason I took the class is because in the advertisements, the teacher who was teaching the class spoke about how she had used meditation to boost her results in sales, and that meditation was so much more than just clearing your mind.
So, I took the class. I flew back to San Francisco. Now, the crazy thing was when I showed up for that class, I was the only person who showed up. Today, according to the book, “Altered Traits” by Daniel Goleman, 44% of the Fortune 100 will have a meditation program for their staff. But back then in, this was 2002-ish, I was the only person in that class. It was really kind of embarrassing. I felt bad for the instructor. But I fly back to Silicon Valley. I fly back to San Fran and I go through my regular week, sales week. But now, I'm applying meditation. I'm applying creative visualization. I'm applying empathy and connection techniques. I'm applying intuition techniques. I'm applying the concept of accessing altered states. And what I find is that in one week, my sales improved.
Now, remember, I'm a left-brained person. I'm an engineer. Everything to me must be logical. I couldn't explain how I was getting these bursts of insights, these bursts of almost intuitive experiences, but I could see the empirical data because sales is something that's highly measurable. You know how many phone calls you make, you know how many you close, you kind of average it out. And in one week, my average doubled. In one month, it doubled again. In the next month, it doubled again. And long story short, in four months, I was promoted three times. And I realized, “Why the hell didn't I learn this sooner?” So, I go to my boss. He was this—
Ben: I'm going to interrupt you for just a second because I know people are going to want to know. I mean, some forms of meditation involve, for example, manifestation. There's actually a great book called–it was one of the original books called, “The Master Key,” “The Secret,” and “Think and Grow Rich,” and all these subsequent books were developed off of that. Simply it involves subconsciously directing your thoughts towards the success that you want to achieve. But then there's like transcendental meditation, there is mindfulness meditation. Were you practicing a specific form of meditation as you were kind of having all the success happen?
Vishen: Absolutely, absolutely. So, I'm going to come to that form in a moment. I'm going to come to that form in a moment because I don't want to distract the audience. But this particular style of meditation was invented in Texas, believe it or not, by a dude by the name of Jose Silva, a Mexican American, and he founded this whole early system. It's not really available anymore. It's called, “Silva Mind Control.” But he wrote a book about it in 1977. It became a best-seller. So, in the '80s, Silva Mind Control was really popular. So, what I took was an adaptation of that called Silva UltraMind. And recently, recently as in this year, so it's now been what? Like 15 years since this happened, more actually.
This year, I did a deal with Silva UltraMind to bring their program, which was kind of going under, into Mindvalley and we called it the Mindvalley Intuition Training. I got certified. I've spent 10 years mastering this and I'm teaching the class now in L.A. But, what this program was about is going into altered states, mainly, alpha brainwave frequency, beta brainwave frequency, being able to get to waking theta consciousness and then tapping into intuition and inspiration.
Now, I know this sounds bizarre but if you read “Think and Grow Rich,” if you study Edison, you will see that there's a constant theme of great men and women across the world who were able to access altered states for ideas. For example, I believe it's in “Think and Grow Rich.” There's a story of a guy by the name of William Gates II. He has around 30 patents to his name. But what he would do is go in a sensory deprivation chamber. Now, he didn't call it meditation because this was in the '60s. And he would, in a darkened room with a pencil and a piece of paper, with sensory deprivation start writing down ideas. He got 30 patents to his name.
Then there's the famous story of Thomas Edison. It is rumored that Thomas Edison would take these famous naps holding a brass ball in his hand. And as he would nap, the ball would fall. He'd have a metal plate below his sofa. It would clang, jolting him out of his nap, but what he was doing was accessing what is the theta level frequency. It's when you're in a mild state of sleep. And if you look at biohackers like Dave Asprey, biohackers are now talking about theta as a level you want to access to tap into intuitive and inspirational idea.
So, that was what I was doing. So, specifically, this is what happened and I'm going to ask that if you're listening, please have an open mind. I cannot explain this. I'm an engineer. I'm a computer scientist. I cannot explain this but this is what I experienced.
So, back then in 2002, all the sales guys would go to the San Francisco Public Library, check out the Yellow Pages. My territory was San Antonio and Portland Oregon and I had to call every lawyer from A to Z in the Yellow Pages, right? So back then, we use these big bulky Yellow Pages. Then we'd go back and check them back in into the San Francisco Public Library.
Now, it was a rote process. You go with the lawyer starting with AA then AB and so on. Now after I learned this class, what I did was I would get into my relaxed meditative level of mind, give my mind an instruction, and that instruction was I want to only call lawyers, attorneys who would be a right fit for our technology, who would welcome my call and who, if we went into a business contract, would see their firm benefit and our company benefit. Okay. Then I would run my hand down the Yellow Pages and very rapidly, I would listen within. And if I got a gut impulse, yes or no, yes or no, if I got a gut impulse yes, I would circle that lawyer's name and I would only call the yeses. In one week then, I doubled my sales just listening to my gut. That was the first big, big revelation I had.
So, that was what got me obsessed with meditation. So, 18 months later, I was so productive at this job. I was given two roles. I was head of business development and I was also one of their top, as they referred it back then, top-gun salespeople. They shipped me out to New York to run the New York office. And I did that for a while and then I thought, “I want to do more with my life than interrupting busy lawyers in the middle of the day to sell them technology.”
So, I decided to quit and become a meditation instructor. And that started five years of my life where I was broke, my wife, I think she was pretty upset with me because if you quit a high-paying corporate job from a Silicon Valley company to become a meditation instructor, you probably want to ask your wife for permission. But what happened was that five years, I really went deep in the field. And then, I decided to apply my engineering skills, build programs, build platforms, and that's how Mindvalley took shape. So, anyway, that was my journey, that it started because I was mystified by the powers that were unlocked in me as I started going deep into this concept of accessing altered states for productivity.
Ben: Wow. So, the “Silva Mind Control Method” book, I know you could still buy it on Amazon. I mean, is that good enough for people to get to start to wrap their heads around this?
Vishen: No, no. So, I'm now working with Jose Silva's daughter. So, Jose Silva's daughter and son, Diana and Jose Jr. If you were at Mindvalley University, I think you left before we conducted this, but I took the Silva method to the next level and we conducted a mass intuition training event at Mindvalley University. We literally trained adults and kids using concepts rooted in hypnotherapy, subconscious programming, auto-suggestion, and alpha/theta brainwave states to access intuition to the point where they could literally, on command, get ideas downloaded, and also to then use this to accelerate healing. As you know, there's a huge mind-body connection.
So, the program is now called the Mindvalley Intuition Training. So, Mindvalley now runs this program. If you go to mindvalley.com–well, I'll give you a link. I'll give you a link. The seminar is happening in Los Angeles, December 1st and 2nd. This is the first time I'm bringing this program to the United States after a 10-year hiatus where it was basically in sleeper mode. So, I last thought this in 2008. So, it's been 10 years.
Ben: Wow. So, this the Silva method, about how long does it take per day, the type of things you're teaching?
Vishen: Two days, eight hours a day. And this was the original program I took. Two days–
Ben: Well, no. But I mean like once you learn the method, how often are you actually doing any type of training each day? Like is it part of your life? Like transcendental meditation, for example, it's twice a day for 10 to ideally 20 minutes. Is this that type of thing?
Vishen: No, no, no. So, the reason why–I think transcendental meditation and Vipassana meditation have a purpose. But as Emily Fletcher, the great New York meditation instructor–so Emily says this, “There's a difference between hermetic meditation and modern meditation. Hermetic meditation is about getting good at meditation. Modern meditation though is about getting good at life. It's the meditation design for the Western mind.”
Now, I don't think it's realistic to tell people, “You need to meditate for an hour a day” or “You need to clear your mind.” In Emily's words, asking someone to clear their mind is like asking someone to stop their heartbeat. You can't do that. So, Silva and then the meditation that I developed separate from Silva, the 6 Phase Meditation, which was just written up in Ebony magazine and Billboard magazine, these are based on modern meditation. So, we bring in modern science, modern data, and it's designed in the same way minimum effective dose exercise is designed. So, it's designed to give you optimized results in less time. That's the first difference, optimized results in less time. It takes 10 to 20 minutes a day. But at the same time, it's also designed to help you not step away from the modern world but to actually crush it in the modern world. It's designed to give you more compassion with your coworkers. It's designed to help you move towards your goals faster. It's designed to help you get more creative. Now, there's a lot of study, a lot of science emerging on this.
And so, the two forms of meditation I teach at a basic level, it's 6 Phase and–so 6 Phase just blew up in popularity because last week, Billboard ran an article on how the R&B star, Miguel, before he gets on stage, he takes his entourage and they meditate to the 6 Phase. So, the 6 Phase Meditation looks–it looks at compassion. It's the intersection of compassion, forgiveness, creative visualization, and so on. It's six different phases. And I'm happy to go into that later, and it's free. So, I teach this free online. If you Google 6 Phase, you'll find the program is free, the articles are free, the audios are free. I just wanted to get this out.
Now, Silva, Silva is a program where I got the rights to from a legend who passed away in 1999, the one and only Jose Silva. And me and my team are now working to upgrade it for what has emerged in meditation science in the last 18 years since Jose passed away. And we are looking at popularizing that and bringing that back to America, after it being on a hiatus for around 10 years, which often happens to great programs when the founder moves on.
Ben: Wow. So, those are the kind of things you do with Mindvalley. You basically kind of like acquired or licensed the IP of a lot of these famous authors or folks like Jose Silva and his methods?
Vishen: Yes. We do that but we also bring in a lot of research and a new program is really rooted in big data and AI, right? Now, what this means is that when measuring everything on students, we're measuring like 113 points and then we are bringing machine learning to identify–to bring an adaptive learning model. So, the future of learning, Ben, is basically this. If you want to teach someone meditation, there's a different meditation that's suitable for you based on whether you are a father, in other words, a mom or a dad with kids, whether you are in a creative field, whether you are over 50 or under 20. And the way we analyze this is by getting millions of people to take these programs, having them take assessment or soon, hooking up our platforms with wearable devices and measuring sleep activity and so on, and then, being able to create adaptive learning model.
So, in the future, if you take a program with us based on your age, on your gender, on your medical history, you get a different recommendation on a different day. That's really where we are going. We want to build the big data platform for transformation.
Ben: Wow. So, when you say you're measuring like 113 points, what kind of things you're talking about that you're measuring?
Vishen: So, right now, the 113 data points that we measure is based on an online assessment. Now, this was developed, Ben, by a mutual friend Jon Butcher of Lifebook. So, one of the things I'm doing, Ben, is I'm unifying different models of personal growth. So, for example, I look at Lifebook. And Mindvalley now runs the Lifebook program globally within partnership with Jon. And Jon designed an incredible self-assessment for measuring the quality of one slide. Now, we take that self-assessment and we apply it to Silva. So, you take that assessment before you go to a Silva class, a Silva Intuition Training Class by Mindvalley. You take it one month later and we see how once quality of life has improved. And, of course, on top of this, there is a certain amount of data analysis that comes into play. But by unifying the field in such a way, we believe that we get to create the best results for everyone.
Ben: Interesting. So, the Lifebook thing, by the way, for those of you listening in, I have a whole different podcast I'm going to be doing with Jon on that. It was one of the most transformational experiences that my wife and I did. We actually did it in Estonia while we were at Mindvalley U. We got locked away in a room for three days, but it was a cool room. It was like a castle and a medieval museum with a little chocolate shop outside. So, it could have been a lot worse.
Vishen: And so, Lifebook is now a Mindvalley program. It's exclusively a Mindvalley program. And Silva Intuition is now also exclusively a Mindvalley program. So, we are actually merging with companies, acquiring companies, bringing them altogether on one platform, and then leveraging the assets of these different transformational models to make all–to like a rising tide lifts all boats. That's really where we are going with this.
Ben: Amazing. Yeah. The Lifebook program, you literally map out your entire life from financial to character development to family to your social life. And I actually have it here in my house upstairs, this big, black, beautiful bound book that is basically Ben Greenfield inside a book. I could hand it to my kids if God forbid, I was about to die and they would basically be able to tuck that under their arm and it has everything in there that is dad, everything I stand for, everything I believe, everything I want to achieve, everything I hold dear. So, I'll definitely be doing a separate podcast with the great Jon Butcher on the Lifebook and you guys are going to get to learn more about that. But that's also something that Vishen now offers through Mindvalley. That is a must-do experience, in my opinion. It's a bucket-list experience.
Vishen: And just for the people who are listening, all of these programs when we bring them in, we actually lower the price, right? Because our goal is to make this accessible. So, Lifebook used to be an incredibly expensive program. Only like really wealthy entrepreneurs could take it. We've made it affordable to the masses. And in one year, it grew attendance by 300%. So, anyway, that's our intention. We want to make transformation available to the masses.
Ben: I like it, yeah, because Lifebook I think used to be some like–when I first looked into it, it was like $10,000. You went to Chicago at Jon and Missy's house. I mean, it was cool but it wasn't really scalable for a lot of people. So, I like that you guys are packaging these in the more palatable and affordable options for folks. I don't want to sound like a freaking salesman but it is kind of cool that you can just go to Mindvalley and kind of have a lot of it there. Of course, I'll talk more about some of the Quests that you guys do because I know you've got a diet one, you've got a memory one, and I actually want to delve into some of the things that you've personally learned from putting together those Quests, Vishen.
But before that, I want to get to know you a little bit better. You did all this. You learned the meditation. You launched a successful company. You've learned a lot. And I'm curious what your typical day looks like. Like, do you have morning routines, afternoon routines, evening routines, biohacks, must dos? I mean like, what are kind of your personal habits?
Vishen: Absolutely. Well, the first thing is my life is extremely structured. I've shared this from stage, Ben. I have a slightly bizarre brain. I have Asperger's and one of the downsides of Asperger's is that it's like growing up not being able to read body language, having weird quirks like for example, Ben, I don't look people in the eye. When you have Asperger's, you tend to look at the mouth. It's this weird thing, right? And so, I'm slightly eccentric and I just want to get that out of the way.
Ben: Yes. It's almost like–sorry to interrupt but is it almost like just extreme social awkwardness because you have difficulty reading people or understanding what people are truly saying or thinking?
Vishen: Exactly, exactly. It's this extreme social awkwardness. However, the flipside of Asperger's is your pattern recognition goes through the roof. So, I have this incredible mind for processing data, like I can read 10 books and then I can write a summary intersecting the data from all of these 10 books. Now, you will see that manifesting in my life as I intersect all of these different personal rote programs. So, that's my superpower. Now, the other thing about Asperger's is that you get super obsessed in your work.
Now, the reason I say that is because to understand me, you got to understand that I'm obsessed with my work, and my work is this. I want to build the next massive education brand in the world. Twenty years from now when people ask themselves, “What is the number one computer brand?” It's going to be Apple, of course. Number one shoe brand? Nike. Number one education brand? I want it to be Mindvalley, and I want this Mindvalley brand to be focused on one form of education, which is transformational education. It's what you do, it's what I do, it's what I believe leads to the greatest source of human happiness and fulfillment. It's learning how to be better human beings. It's learning how to ensure that you're living in the healthiest way that you're raising your kids as conscious parents, that you are a lifelong learner, that you're training your super brain, that you have a life book that you're tapping into your intuition.
It's not the education in our modern schools today that emphasize history, geography, math, and nothing wrong with that. My mom is a high school teacher. But the fact is we are heading into a world where according to Ray Kurzweil, by 2029, all of us will have our own version of Ironman's Jarvis AI in our smartphone. All tax data knowledge, all of this we will have in our backup brain with personalized artificial intelligence. So, what do you teach people?
Ben: I was going to say you think that'll make people stupid because we don't have to learn how to do anything?
Vishen: Actually, no. I think it'll make people smarter. But here's the thing. It's not about knowledge. It's about transformation. Knowledge is data and you can forget data. You take in data, you take in facts, you forget data. The cell phone simply becomes a better way to back up data and intersect data. But transformation is what truly leads people to have a more fulfilling human life. Now, transformation is interesting. Transformation is a shift in your worldview. It's when you see the world in a different way.
For example, a common transformational model that many people get is that they start to realize that happiness comes from within. Once you understand that, your mind expands. And an expanded mind will never shrink. That is transformation. It is an irreversible shift in one's model or schema of understanding the world. Now, the model of transformation, Ben, is what you preach which is that our bodies are so much more powerful than what we think they can be, that we can fine-tune our bodies, that we can reverse aging.
I remember when you shared your story of reversing aging, I can't remember where it was, that shifted me because I realized, “Wow. When I become 65, I'm not going to look like my grandfather. I'm not going to die at that age.” because that was in my mind as a kid growing up in Malaysia where the lifespan is like 70 and I saw my grandfather die of cancer at 65. I always assumed that when I hit 60, I'm old. When I heard you, when I started following men like you, I realized that this was bullshit and I literally, I literally transformed my body and my mind and my eyesight in two years. That was when my eyesight shifted. That was when my body fat went from like 22% to 15%. That was when people literally told me that I look younger and when I went to doctors, I literally had become younger. You see, that was an irreversible shift in how I saw my body.
So, transformation is where we want to take the human species. We want to get the human species to look at transformation from all of these different categories. Now, the 12th category model that we use is the one from Lifebook. So, you're looking at transformation of character, transformation of emotional states, transformation of health and fitness, transformation of our loved relationships, transformation of how we understand ourselves as parents. And what I want to do with Mindvalley University is to accelerate human transformation to such a point that by 2038, our species has had the biggest jump in consciousness we have ever experienced since Homo sapiens appeared on this planet. That's what I'm obsessed with. So, everything I do is about building the next Hobbit University, dedicated to transformation. And that's how I run my day today.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show to tell you where I buy my almond butter, my almond butter that has one ingredient in it, almonds. You'll get a lot of almond butter. It's like sunflower oil, safflower oil and sugar, cane sugar, agave sugar, blah, blah, blah. Well, I have found a company that everything they sell is just pure. Paleo, gluten-free, vegan, kosher, ketogenic, you name it. And they also, not only have nut butters but they're far less myopic than that. They have personal care products, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, safe and non-toxic beauty products, kitchen staples, organic baby food, a bunch of kids' products. Their entire line though here's what I like about it, 70% of their stuff you can't even find on Amazon because they're that specialized. And it's marked down to 50% to 60% discount. So, it's crazy. I mean, you can actually get healthy, holistic groceries for dirt cheap. It'll blow you away when you go to their website at the savings. And, they're also adding another 25% off your first order. That's huge. I mean, I would just go there and buy all your groceries for the whole month aside from the stuff that you need fresh locally. I mean, anything you buy this package, you can get there and you can have the peace of mind that it's not full of crap ingredients because they have an extremely rigorous filtration process for all their stuff.
So, it's Thrive Market. And here's what you do. You go to thrivemarket.com/ben. Just like it sounds, thrivemarket.com/ben. You get 25% off your first order. You don't have to type in a code or anything. Just thrivemarket.com/ben, one of my favorite websites to shop for groceries, my favorite website to shop for groceries. What am I saying?
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You know, I think it was the Wired magazine article they call Asperger's Geek Syndrome. Have you seen that article?
Vishen: Oh, I got to check it out.
Ben: Yeah. It's basically just about how many successful folks in Silicon Valley seem to have children with Asperger's because for some reason, there is this link between intelligence and the ability to focus and recognize patterns, and specifically, the type of things that tend to be successful when it comes to things you're talking about like learning or education or programming. And so, Silicon Valley has this higher than normal percentage of folks with Asperger's and they actually call it Geek Syndrome in the Wired magazine article. I'll link to it in the shownotes if any listening in want to check it out, but it's fascinating. What I find even more fascinating of course is how you've kind of hacked your life to take this gene and turn it into a huge amount of biological and personal success. So, what kind of things do you do?
Vishen: So, that focus, Ben, means that I make myself the number one human guinea pig. But everything that I try that works on me, I try to optimize it, tweak it, modify it and get it out to the world, which includes Silva, it includes Lifebook, it includes all of these other modalities. So, I start my day in the following day. So, firstly, I start my day with the 6 Phase Meditation. And you guys can Google that, 6 Phase Meditation. It's a meditation system I pioneered but it's based on taking yourself through six different phases of what I call transcendent practice. See, meditation tends to be a BS term because everything is called meditation right now.
So, rather than the word meditation, I use the phrase transcendent practices. To transcend means to go beyond the physical. If you are a religious person and you pray, that's a transcendent practice. When you practice gratitude and you internally close your eyes and think about what made you happy in the past couple of days, that's a transcendent practice. So, the 6 Phase stacks together six different transcendent practices in around 20 minutes. The first one is compassion. You see the world, you see everyone in the world, and you give them a blessing. This is rooted in Buddhist philosophy.
Now, the second phase is gratitude. Gratitude has been studied by science in hundreds of different studies, and gratitude is the human characteristic with the highest correlation with overall well-being. So, the second phase is you practice gratitude. The third phase is you practice forgiveness. Now, there have been lots of studies in forgiveness and what they have found is that forgiveness actually improves both your mental capacity and your biological capacity. For example, one study in Israel found that forgiveness, when you forgive people who hurt you in the past, your endurance goes up. Another study at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands found that forgiveness actually increases your vertical jump ability. I mean, go figure. So, you practice forgiveness–
Ben: It's crazy.
Vishen: Yeah. You practice forgiveness because it heals your heart. It has been shown to create better sleep, reduce back pain. It gives you more feelings of kindness and compassion to the people around you. It reduces a psychological condition known as fundamental attribution error. So, that's the first three phases. I repeat, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness. Now, those are all rooted in thinking about the present; the present and the past, right?
Now, the next three phases are future-oriented because remember, as Emily Fletcher said, we are not practicing hermetic meditation, we are practicing meditation for the modern world. And the modern world, especially if you live in the West, is let's create, let's build, let's invent. The next three phases are designed for that. So, phase four is essentially creative visualization. It's seeing your life three years in the future. It's seeing that vivid vision. This is where you look at your life book and you pick something that appeals to you and you visualize and you play and you daydream. You do that for about three minutes and there's a particular protocol.
Then phase five is you visualize today. What are you going to do today? And here, you practice a model where you set an intention for how every particular segment of today, that important meeting, that project that's delivered, that dinner that you have with your spouse, how each of those segments go. And the final phase is a simple prayer. So, whether you're Christian or you're Muslim or whatever your religious belief, or even if you're agnostic or atheist, the final phase is called a blessing, and you pray to whatever higher power you believe. And I know some people today kind of don't believe in prayer but I think it's important that we see prayer, whether you believe in God or not, as something that is essentially about asking for support from whatever higher power you connect to, whether it's your own internal mechanisms of abilities and fortitude, or whether it's Jesus or whatever higher power you believe in.
So, those are the six phases and we stack them together. And the funny thing is, Ben, the first five of those phases, there's remarkable evidence for, remarkable scientific evidence. It's rooted in science. The final phase, prayer, is rooted in our experience as human beings over thousands of years in believing in a god. So, it doesn't matter again if you're atheist or whatever, but those six phases are stacked together and that is how I start my morning.
Ben: Well, how long does that take?
Vishen: You can do it in 20 minutes. The various audios on the 6 Phase out there are mostly recorded by me at 20 minutes.
Ben: Oh, okay. So, you can just literally just listen to an audio and lay there?
Vishen: Yeah. You could listen to an audio. But I do it for about 30 minutes.
Ben: Oh, wow. That's going to be hard for a lot of people to stay in bed for 30 minutes every morning.
Vishen: Well, you would sit up on the chair. But again, you can do it in 15 minutes. If you find six phases too complex, do three phases or four phases. So, this was the exact methodology that R&B star, Miguel started talking about and it's caused like a massive upsurge in people taking it. And I decided to just make it free. So, there's an entire program on it. It's completely free because I just want to get it out to the world if there's nothing you have to pay. So, that's the first thing. Now, the second thing I do is I practice–
Ben: Okay. But hold on, hold on, hold on. I have one and last question. Could you do this anytime of day? Like could you do the 6 Phase thing like in the evening if you wanted to?
Vishen: You can do the 6 Phase in the evening. You can do it in the morning. It's whatever works for you.
Ben: So, I could do it all in a sauna?
Vishen: Yeah, you can do it in sauna. There's a 12th-day program on the Quest app. We'll give you guys the link later. It's the same Quest where your program is coming out, where you can just enroll in that program for free.
Now, the next thing I do, Ben, actually came from you. I practice intermittent fasting. Now, you've taught me that one night in Tallinn, Estonia when we were gorging ourselves on like crazy Northern European food–
Ben: I remember that. We're eating like elk and bear and honey mead. I think that was at a–what's it called? For people listening, if you're ever at Tallinn and you got to go to Tallinn someday because it's a cool city. There are some places I go to I never want to go back to like freaking Bangkok. Unfortunately, it's one of those cities I just don't like that much. But Tallinn, they have all these restaurants and they're inside of castles. They serve these medieval experiences. You even told me, Vishen, they stay so true to the medieval experience.
They, for example, don't serve any nightshades because apparently, they didn't eat things like potatoes and tomatoes and eggplants in medieval times. They just don't have them on the menu. And they call you “My lord” and serve you spiced wine but they call it spi-ced, not spiced. And yeah, I think each of us ate an entire shoulder of pig or something like that when this came up.
Vishen: Yeah. It's amazing, right? So, what I learned from you is intermittent fasting and I've been doing that two to three times a week since getting back from Tallinn. Now, I remember your lessons on metabolic efficiency, which is basically combining intermittent fasting with a short walk, with caffeine with hemosis, I think you called it.
Ben: Cold thermogenesis.
Vishen: Yeah. And I don't want to talk about that because that's your thing but I want to give credit where credit is due and I learnt that from you. And then, I create a healthy morning shake. And this one, I brought in ideas from WildFit, Dave Asprey, JJ Virgin, and a ton of different people and it's basically a nutritional supplement. Very low calorie but it's designed to just fuel me with all the nutritional content I need.
Ben: Oh, you can't leave us hanging, dude. You can't leave us hanging. What's in it?
Vishen: So, I add a lot of products including coconut oil, butter. Look, it tastes disgusting. I'm going to–
Ben: Oh, really?
Vishen: I'm going to say that–right off the top. But I'm living in Malaysia so I don't have access to a lot of the supplements that you guys get in the United States. So, I basically get raw green powders, wheatgrass, acai, coconut oil. I dump all of this together with protein. Now, I use GNC Gold Standard Whey Protein. I add some creatine to it. And basically, I use this as a way to also fuel myself with protein because the other thing I do is super slow strength training, which I know you believe in as well. The model that we use is derived from the work of Doug McGuff, who wrote the book, “Body by Science.” So, Mindvalley has taken that and developed a philosophy called 10x. And so, I practice my 10x routine two to three times a week. So, I spend about an hour a week in the gym just working on muscular growth.
Ben: Now, since the 10x program, like the super slow, it's five exercises. Chest press, pulldown, shoulder press, seated row and leg press. But that's like 15 to 20 minutes. Are you doing a lot of like mobility and interval training and things like that apart from the super slow training?
Vishen: Yeah. I do but not much. My exercise routine is actually not very complex. I found that that minimum effective dose really matters to me. So, I like to get my exercise done in a short amount of time. I remember when I came over to Spokane and I worked out with you, it was like one hour and it was freaking amazing. But–
Ben: Yeah, where you're carrying sandbags up an icy driveway.
Vishen: Oh, I totally loved it. I totally loved it. But right now, I'm just focusing on super slow strength training because what I'm aiming for body wise is a concept called the Adonis metric, which is basically the–it's this philosophical idea. And again, guys, this is just pure–maybe I guess it's a little bit vanity as well. I just want to look good in a t-shirt. I want to be healthy but I also want to look good in a t-shirt. So, I'm applying 10x with clear set goals, and the goal is–so here's the Adonis metric, if any of you guys want to try it.
The optimal male body which is typically a V-shaped body, well of us has V-shaped body, should be six point–your chest size should be 6.5 times your wrist size. So, I know that the chest size I'm going for is 107 centimeters. I'm going to speak in metrics. And then your waist should be 0.7 your chest. In my case, my waist would be like 75 centimeters. When you do that, you have a really nice physique. But it's not just about vanity because it's a challenge getting there. It can take two to three years. But as part of that challenge, you work out, you change the way you eat and so on.
So, I'm aiming for that Adonis metric. And so, I work out and I eat well and I exercise to get me as close to that as I can. And it's fun. In the last one year, I was super proud of myself because I shaved off like five centimeters off my waist. I had to get all my pants altered but it got me one step closer to that metric. I'm still far from it but that is what I'm going for.
Ben: Yeah. The Adonis Index is fascinating. I used to geek out on that one. I was a bodybuilder. It's technically like 1 to 1.6 something for the actual ratio but I got so geeked out on that. I don't think I ever told you this. I actually created like a 24-week program. I called it something like the V-Body and it was basically designed for dudes to get the Adonis Index. I should look that–if I can look that up and find it, I'll put a link for you guys in the shownotes. But yeah, that's very cool that you're actually measuring that.
Oh, and by the way, before we get past your shake and your strength training routine of this super slow effect with the Adonis Index ratio tracking, I should mention that yeah, the shake you described to me sounds like it tastes like ass. But you need to get your hands on some of the Omica Organic Stevia. Omica Organic has like a vanilla stevia. And for example, tonight after we–we're recording pretty late. It's like almost 9:00 p.m. my time right now. But I have this like valerian root, chamomile. It's just this powder that's got every herb known to man that can enhance sleep but it tastes like you're eating a barnyard.
So, I blend it with ice and a little bit of coconut water but I add this vanilla stevia to it and I swear, like there's this other thing I use called Triphala. It's an herb that keeps you from getting constipated, especially when you travel. That also tastes like freaking sludge. But I'm telling you, you add this stevia to anything and it just makes it like vanilla ice cream. So, I'll try it. I'll try and send you some if you can't get it there in Malaysia.
Vishen: That's awesome. And then, Ben, now the final thing is then I dive into work and my work is planned like a regimen. It's like eight hours a day. I actually work relatively few hours compared to most of my friends who are CEOs, but it's eight hours a day. I have a team of around 250 to 300 people globally. And then, it's just super, super, super organized and it's all about like growing our numbers, growing our OKRs as a company. And then, I get back from work and it's just family time, and reading time and study time.
Ben: Wow. Okay. So, I got to ask this because I know I alluded to already. You somehow fix your eyes. What do you do for that?
Vishen: Yeah. Okay. So, firstly, eyesight, I did LASIK 12 years ago. And LASIK is wonderful. I strongly recommend it. But when I did LASIK, something went wrong during the surgery, as surgery sometimes go.
Ben: Your surgeon should have done your 6 Phase Meditation.
Vishen: Right, right, yeah. So, my left eye got slightly botched and that led to a slow development of astigmatism. So, 12 years after my LASIK, I found that I had astigmatism in my left eye. My right eye was starting to get astigmatism. It had become slightly myopic and so I needed glasses. So, I was wearing glasses for a while. I freaking hated it. And then, I started searching for vision correction. I worked with two different cultures. I found an online course and I was shocked at how rapidly I could heal my vision, literally in two weeks–my vision went from 20/40 to 20/25 which is about two lines down the eye chart. And right now, it's around 20/25.
Now, that is just myopia. I want to confess, I've not been able to reverse astigmatism. That's the next challenge. But there are a couple of things. I wrote a blog post on it. So, if you search for Vishen, V-I-S-H-E-N eyesight, you'll probably find that blog post. But the first thing is get your eyes checked with a proper doctor not at an optometrist. The problem with optometrist is that they want to sell you glasses and what people don't realize is that your eye power can change from day to day, from week to week, from month to month. And if you go to an optometrist and you get diagnosed there without a proper diagnosis and you buy a pair of glasses, you've just locked yourself onto a pair of crutches based on how you were feeling on that particular day. And your eyes will not have anywhere to go except worse.
Okay? So that's the first rule, get a proper medical checkup. Now, the second rule is then you want to get glasses one increment down from your actual vision. So, even after I got a proper medical checkup, I got glasses one increment down. Then what you want to do is install a vision chart, an eye chart in your home. So, I have one in my home. I use it on myself. I'm going to use it on my son. There were many studies done that showed that simply having an eye chart in your home and just testing your vision, testing your kid's vision once a week can reduce the onset of vision problem.
So, one study was done in Forks, North Dakota by William Bates. They put eye charts in schools for around 2,000 children. And what they found is that at the beginning of the year, 6% of the kids were nearsighted. Just having an eye chart in the room caused nearsightedness incidents to drop from 6% to 1%, and not only that but many kids developed beyond 20/20 vision, which means 20/15 or 20/10 and it was just weird. Just having an eye chart in a room is like having a gym in the office. We don't fully understand why but it seems that eyesight is a lot of function of the brain and not just your eyeball shape, and you're training your brain to get used to seeing in richer detail.
Okay. So, having an eye chart at home is phenomenal. And then you want to get a vision coach. Google for vision coaches. Google for online vision courses. There were many out there.
Ben: Well, that's a thing, that's vision coaches.
Vishen: Yeah, yeah. So, Dave Asprey was telling me that. So, how I realized that thing is that Dave Asprey was telling me that he hired a vision coach for 12 weeks. It was one hour a week for 12 weeks and he completely reversed his eyesight. He said it was one of the hardest things he had to do in that one hour. He said literally, his brain would be so tired he had to go to sleep. But in 3 months, 12 weeks, he reversed his failing eyesight.
Ben: That's amazing. Have you ever heard of The Vision Gym?
Vishen: Yeah. Okay. Since you brought it up, Vision Gym is the one that I've been using. It's not perfect. The way the content is organized drives me nuts, but it is one of the best I found, thevisiongym.com.
Ben: Well, yeah. It's no Mindvalley Quest, but yeah, you get all these little charts and they send them to your home. They're made by–I interviewed him, Eric Cobb at Z-Health. I actually bought it for my wife. So, I messed around with it a little bit and of course she doesn't try anything. I buy her like the best supplements and these amazing hormone herbs and everything and they're just useless in the pantry. So, this thing is somewhere collecting dusk behind me in my desk somewhere.
But yeah, The Vision Gym, it's very similar what you've just described, like its convergent and divergent and these eye charts. You feel like you're going to go cross-eyed after you've practiced for a while. But it's essential. You know, just like training anything. You're training your eye muscles to relax after especially you've been having them contracted by staring at a screen several inches or feet from your face all day. My own tactic is I have a large picture window in my office and there are trees about 50 yards out. There are mountains several miles out. There are mountains beyond those, literally dozens of miles out. And I simply take breaks.
I use this software called Iris Tech. And it not only dims the light on my screen and dims the temperature on the screen but it has little pop-ups that remind you when to take your eye breaks. So, about every 55 minutes, I simply stop and I'll either go outside, or if it's super-duper cold, just look out the window and train my eyes on the close trees than the far trees and the mountains and the mountains beyond those. And when you do that, a lot of people think it strains your eyes to look at things far off in the distance but your eyes actually relax when you look out into the distance, and they contract and spasm when you look at things up close like a computer or a smartphone, not that anybody's doing that.
Vishen: Right, right. So, it's remarkable how much we can train our vision but people don't realize that. And so, they go straight for eyeglasses, which is a crutch and it's a real shame.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, one other thing I wanted to ask you about your daily routine, and then I want to talk a little bit about some of the things you've learned from this Quest, like you mentioned the wild diet, for example. And that is do you have any type of sleep routine?
Vishen: Well, my sleep. My sleep is heavily influenced by Dr. Michael Bruce and other sleep books I've read. For example, Sean Stephenson. So, with sleep, I do have a routine. I've read your sleep routines, by the way, Ben. You are just freaking insane. I can't see myself doing that. But for example, one of the things I do is before going to bed, I wear those geeky orange glasses that you actually introduced me to to prevent blue light from computer screens and computer devices, influencing our brains in ways that are disruptive to sleep. So, I'm actually wearing them now as we're doing this podcast interview. And then I go to sleep at the same time every night, roughly 12:30. I give myself seven hours. I've tested myself so I know that seven hours is optimal. And I wake up and I go straight into meditation. And meditation often does to your body, it generates some of the same qualities as a good night sleep.
Vishen: So, seven hours, I'm super disciplined about seven hours. Now, here's one of the primary rules I have. Nothing, nothing messes with my meditation, my sleep, or my gym. My personal growth always comes first, not my business. And I learned that from an MBA professor by the name of Srikumar Rao. He said one of the biggest mistakes that business schools are teaching on its graduates is that it's all about the business and he says, “No. Your personal growth always comes first. Your rate of learning always comes first. Your sleep, your meditation always comes first.” He said, “Look, if your business fails, nobody cares. The question is did you grow? If your business hits to a billion dollars, who cares? The question is did you grow?”
Now, that philosophy of putting my personal growth first is how I lived my life. So, I have clear time blocked out for sleep, for gym, for meditation and nothing, even if it's like a freaking Oprah Winfrey needs to speak to me, I will not sacrifice those times. So, that, by placing my being as number one, that gives me the fuel to do everything else. And sleep, sleep is the one that we mess up most, right? So, people cut sleep because they have an important project to deliver the next day, not realizing that even a 90-minute reduction in sleep can lead to a 30% reduction in cognition according to Tom Rath in the book, “Eat Sleep Move.” And so, people sacrifice their sleep for these stupid reasons and I think me learning the importance of sleep was one of the biggest shifts, positive shifts I had in my life.
Ben: Yeah. That's something that is very important, what you said about meditation. This is something I've been doing more and more when I travel and I'm simply too busy to nap when I travel because of my conferences or I'm speaking or I'm going from here and there and I have lunch appointments and whatnot, is I meditate for about 20 to 30 minutes. And I actually, of course, as I'm prone to do, have a device that I use called the David Delight, Mind Alive. It's audiovisual entrainment and it plays binaural beats in your ears and then flashes these crazy lights in front of your eyes. You do it for about 20 to 30 minutes and it brings you through like a full 90-minute sleep cycle even if you can't actually fall asleep. So, it's very interesting. It's a little bit different than meditation. You can combine it with meditation. But ultimately, yes, you can get by on less sleep or even simulate a full sleep cycle with meditation. It's crazy.
Vishen: That's incredible. Yeah. So, stacking on sleep and then meditation really helps me get in the best cognitive states I need. So, I can measure myself in terms of my productivity by how rapidly I can think, process data, connect the dots, run a meeting, and my personal growth gives me that ability. But it wasn't like that two years ago. Two years ago, I wasn't exercising well, I wasn't sleeping well. Mindvalley was a great meditation company and I was meditating well, but I didn't have the other things in my life. I didn't have diet, I didn't have exercise, I didn't have sleep. So, it was only in the last two years that we decided to go full on into fitness, and that transformed my life in many remarkable ways.
Ben: Now, before we talk about–because I'd love to hear a little bit more about exactly how these Quests are stacked and how you built them. But one of the Quests that I found fascinating–I actually sat with this guy at that medieval restaurant and we're just talking about–Eric Edmeades, I don't know if I'm pronouncing his last name correctly, but he just intrigued me with this story about humans living along–I think he was describing how we originally lived primarily on coastlines with lots of access to sun and minerals. And he developed a diet that simulates, from what I understand, that of our ancestors. I didn't quite have my head fully wrapped around at night. Even though I have access to all of your Quests, I haven't yet taken his wild diet quest. But you follow this wild diet. Can you describe it to me?
Vishen: Well actually, it's called WildFit.
Ben: WildFit, WildFit. Yeah.
Vishen: Okay. So, most doctors agree, like Mark Hyman has said this, 80% of your body shape is what you eat. Vox, Vox magazine had another expose around two years back that suggested that 90% of your body shape is what you eat. Most people don't get this so they spend a large amount of time thinking about exercise, buying exercise equipment, going to the gym, working out, but not an equivalent amount of time caring about what they eat.
So, WildFit has so far been the most effective anti-diet/diet program I've ever discovered because it's rooted in behavioral psychology. So, Eric Edmeades was an entrepreneur. He ran a couple of special effect studios, did work for “Pirates of the Caribbean” and so on. But he's also obsessed with living with the Bushmen in Africa. Don't ask why but Eric hikes Kilimanjaro, hunts with the Bushmen. He's just crazy about Africa because he was born in South Africa. Now, Eric gained the ability to climb Kilimanjaro in a fasted state. So, literally, this is a ridiculously difficult climb and he does it with nothing but water.
Now, his philosophy is this, “Look, all around us, we are carrying roughly a quarter million calories of fuel.” And he said, “Look, early man, they didn't have daily access to food. It wasn't about a daily recommended allowance of food rather we ate seasonally based on the weather, based on the environment. We ate seasonally. And our bodies tend to store fat and burnt that based on this seasonal way of thinking.” Now, this doesn't map to the Four Seasons completely. It has to do with like where ancestors originated. But Eric developed a diet system based on behavioral psychology because, get this, he used to be a Tony Robbins trainer. He used to train with Tony on stage. He's a brilliant speaker. And applying NLP to nutrition allowed him to create a program called WildFit, which is 90 days. You take it on Mindvalley's platform as a Mindvalley Quest and every week, there's a different level of instruction in terms of how you perceive food, how you understand food, how you recognize, why you eat while you eat, and something that you shift about your diet.
Now, because of the way it's rooted, there is a remarkable level of compliance, 80% to 90% of the people complete the program and see a massive change in their body. And it isn't just losing weight, it's total health transformation. So, what happens is that people's skin clears up. People who are suffering from illnesses that they haven't been able to heal for years, all of a sudden, these illnesses disappear. When I was in Tallinn, this guy came up to me and he had ringing in the ears and it was so bad. He was about to resign from his job. After WildFit, the ringing stopped. Another lady approached me, psoriasis disappeared. So, we underestimate just how much —
Ben: Both of those, by the way, are autoimmune issues. They're autoimmune issues. And so, you can see that a lot of the times with this type of diets, they clean up a lot of things that tend to be immune system assailants against the human, or simply load the body with the wrong kinds of food at the wrong time of the year. I had a podcast with Dr. Dan Pompa where he talked about this. He talked about one Native American tribe called The Sheep Eaters of Wyoming and they lived high up in the mountains and they would adapt their diet by eating bighorn sheep in the winter for survival. But as soon as the summer came around, they're eating like roots and berries and prickly pears and beans and mesquite pods and mustard seeds and acorn squashes and pumpkins. And then, once the summer or the winter rolled back around, they'd go back into like meat and fat, and that was their seasonal diet. And so, this WildFit diet, are you actually changing your foods throughout the year at all?
Vishen: So, you don't change your foods throughout the year but in a compressed 90-day period, you accelerate. You take your body through a seasonal experience across these 90 days. What you're eating on every week of this 90-day experience shifts and the result is, by the time you get to week–well firstly, when you get to around week six or seven, you're basically going off sugar, and this is when many people have an energy drop and it's painful for one or two days. Then all of a sudden, as Eric puts it, your engine flips. You train your body to burn fat rather than sugar. And then your energy just amplifies a new stock melting away fat.
Like, I was losing around two and a half pounds a week in week seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. At the end of it, I'd lost 14 pounds. My entire body shifted. If you look at pictures of me two years ago, I look different from what I look like today. It was unreal but the other thing that happened was my energy soared like I stopped needing to take afternoon naps after lunch. I stopped getting hunger pants at 5:00 p.m. I started being able to intermittent fast. I could not do that before because I just always needed to snack. And so, it was probably the one of the most revolutionary things I did in my life. And so, when it worked for me, I went and I brought WildFit into Mindvalley and now we're working with Eric to get this out to millions of people.
Ben: Yeah. It reminds me very much of almost like a primal or a paleo approach. For those of you listening, I'll put a couple of links to some WildFit recipes that are just hanging around out there on the internets for free. But one, it's close to the holidays, is the WildFit apple pie, but the apple pie is made of like arrowroot flour and coconut flour and wonderful nutmeg and cinnamon. There's another one that is for WildFit spaghetti and meatball. But you're using like spaghetti squash and really nice olive oil, and again, like a little bit of tapioca or arrowroot powder or to make the spaghetti squash taste a little bit more, like noodles. They've got some really good recipes. So, that's another program and not to get all self-promotioney.
Vishen: And just keep in mind. WildFit isn't about the recipes. There's a huge fan base right now that creates recipes for other fans. But it's really about the 90-day behavioral change psychology. That's what makes it unique. It's not about diet because you don't bring in willpower, you're basically having your brain reoriented using NLP to crave only what is good for you. That's the shift. So, that's a 90-day process. And Eric has a very compelling, almost hypnotic way of speaking. It does the job. We have seen 80% completion rates when most diets barely hit 5%.
Ben: Well, that's the thing. All of your guys' quests, I forget the way that you described the metric to me but they all have these incredible stick rates. You've created them in such a way that as you go through the program, it's almost like tiny habits or there's even a new book by my friend James Clear called, “Atomic Habit.” It's a really good book but it goes into how to actually hack your habits and stack them little bits at a time until by the end of let's say the Quest experience, you're doing a lot more than you were at the beginning but it never at any point seems overwhelming. Is that a fair description?
Vishen: Absolutely. But it's a complex task. So, when you take an online course on anything, you have an 80% chance of completing it according to University of Wichita, 80% completion rate. Our goal is to get that to 80% but it's not one simple fix. It is the platform. So, the platform is rooted in micro-slice learning. So, our Quest at 30, 60 or 90 days and it's less than 20 minutes a day. You're not listening to an hour-long video. Secondly, it's rooted in behavioral psychology. Third, it's rooted in great teachers and great filmmaking, as you know because we have used one of our teachers and we came to film you. And then fourth, we have an entire division studying human learning theory, how to optimize rate of transformation. So, the abbreviation is kind of stupid, R-O-T, rot. But rate of transformation is a very, very important metric.
Now, when you stack on all of these from app design to UX design, to filmmaking, to behavioral psychology, to rate of transformation, to the qualities of a great teacher, you start seeing completion rates go up. But as far as I know, we're the only organization that's looking at it with this level of brain power, science and data, right? So, we're currently at 60% completion rate average. Our best Quest like WildFit can get 80% and our goal is to get to an 80% average. This means we have 10x. We're literally 1,000% better than traditional online courses and that's where we want to go. So, we are super, super, super focused on this. We are not Udacity or Udemy. We do not have 15,000 programs. We literally only have 20 programs as a company. But our goal is if you take our program, you're going to complete it and you're going to see the best results you can hope for.
Ben: Yeah. When you came to my house, it was slick. You had a film crew here for a whole week. We were working eight-hour days to film this Beauty and Longevity Quest and it was just me in front of the camera demonstrating exercise after exercise, walking people through all the mitochondria workouts, the lactic acid workouts, oxygen utilization. We did a lot of super slow stuff, mobility stuff, foundation, low back training. You guys pretty much tapped into every shred of knowledge inside my head but I've never really made an attempt to actually turn it into a curriculum like you guys did. And even more importantly, a curriculum that people can stick to.
And that's why I'm excited about the Beauty and Longevity Quest. It's just the amount of high-end video production combined with habit formation that goes into it. I mean, the whole thing, I think it's–I forget how much–I think we came out to eight weeks, right? It's an eight-week program?
Vishen: Yeah, it's an eight-week program. Yeah. Curriculum design is something that we totally geek out over. The right curriculum leads to the right results. And many people don't do that. I think one of the things we really want to shift about our industry is that it's starting to change now but until a few years ago, it was really about internet marketing. It wasn't about the best curriculum or the best teachers but honestly, it was about who could persuade you to buy their stuff better. And that's something that isn't healthy for the consumer but I guess every industry goes through that shift. But right now, I believe it has to be about results in curriculum and data.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. So, in terms of the Quest, the Beauty and Longevity Quest, I'm just curious because I never actually asked you this but did you have any kind of like major takeaways? You mentioned how you added like intermittent fasting to your program. This particular Quest, of course, isn't really focused on diet and nutrition because you guys have WildFit for that, which actually pairs really well with the Beauty and Longevity Quest that you guys did with me. But as far as anything you changed that you learned as we were kind of going through the process of that Quest, did you add anything in, Vishen?
Vishen: Well actually, in a way, your story and your talks at Mindvalley, A-Fest and Mindvalley University was one of the things that inspired my team to start looking at Spartan Races. So, we had five guys just complete a Spartan Race in the Philippines in the middle of a typhoon with 5,000–
Ben: Oh geez, that's a great way to get people to want to do my class. Thanks.
Vishen: Yeah. So, these were guys who–one of them was Jason whom you met, who is a host here at Mindvalley. And Jason had like 20% to 25% body fat, Canadian guy, loved cheese and milk. Now, he's freaking ripped and it's been one year. And now, we have 20 people training for a Spartan Race in December.
Ben: Which one? Which one are you going to do?
Vishen: It's happening in Johor. Johor is a little state just north of Singapore.
Ben: Oh, geez. I didn't even know they were doing Spartan Races over there. Wow. I should try. I should try a little there sometime and do one with you guys. It would be fun. I can walk you through the course.
Vishen: The one in the Philippines was around 23 kilometers. The one in Johor was 5 kilometers. I'm doing one. I'm doing a starter Spartan Race because I injured my knee. I actually am going to knee surgery in a month. So, I'm doing a starter Spartan Race in January, again with my team. We're hoping to have 20 to 30 people there.
Ben: You got to go for knee surgery?
Vishen: Yeah, yeah.
Ben: What happened?
Vishen: Well, I have a genetic condition. Basically, the muscles on my left knee don't operate as well. It's something I've had for around eight years. So, I'm hoping to fix that so that I can start running, I can start doing these Spartan Races. So, anyway, it's rooted in tendonitis.
Ben: Oh, okay. Yeah. I was going to say you just talk to our buddy Harry about getting it injected with stem cells.
Vishen: Yeah, yeah. I should totally do that.
Ben: Yeah. Even if it's like post-surgery. And ping me after the show because I've got a whole bunch of stuff I've produced as far as recommendations for people to bounce back faster from surgery like high-dose vitamin C and proteolytic enzymes. It can be like cold thermogenesis and infrared therapy. There's a ton that you can do to get the body to heal faster after surgery. So, I'll send some stuff to you later on but the idea, the beauty and longevity thing, and Vishen, I talked about this for a while to kind of decide in the direction that we wanted to take the course, it's all based on things like, not necessarily Adonis Index we were talking about but just general symmetry, like actually creating a body that is aesthetically pleasing.
We didn't design it for extreme athletes or even so that you could go out and do a Spartan Race per se even though you could with the fitness you develop in it. But it's based around actually having a body that functions well and at the same time, more or less looks good naked. And then, what we did was we combined that with all of my longevity hacks, the minimum effective dose of exercise, a lot of research out there on kind of like the ceiling whereby there's an increased risk of mortality with a certain amount of exercise and a decreased risk of mortality with a certain amount of exercise.
And we wove all that into the program. So, it's got stamina mitochondria, lactic acid, VO2 max, strength training, fast twitch muscle fiber training, mobility. And honestly, I know I keep talking about it now but I'm pretty dang proud of what we produce. So, if you guys are listening in, I mean go check out all the Quests, but the name of this one that Vishen and I did is called the Beauty and Longevity Quest.
Vishen: It's going to be coming out in around three or four months.
Ben: Okay, around three or four months. And at the time of this recording, it's three or four months. I don't know exactly when this recording is going to be released but either way, whether the Quest has already come out or whether it's a few weeks or a few months out, I'll put everything over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quest. I also wanted to ask you, Vishen, as far as one of the A-Fest events go or the next Mindvalley event, I know a lot of people are interested in going to that. So, can you reveal the location or is that a top-secret thing or can you share with people where you're planning on for A-Fest or Mindvalley?
Vishen: Well, we have three big events. The first big event is A-Fest, Think TED. Like TED of Personal Growth kind of combined with like some Coachella, so incredible parties and bonding and connection and music. The next one is happening in Bali in four weeks in November 1st. But then we have one in May in Portugal. I can't remember the exact location but I know it's happening in Portugal. And then there's Mindvalley University that happens every July where literally 1,000 entrepreneur type personalities move to a city with their kids for one month to immerse themselves in culture, connection and personal growth, and there are incredible classes for the children and the kids as well.
Now, we're bringing a new event to Silicon Valley, which I think you'll love, Ben. It's called Superhuman Executive. And it explores how to bring personal growth to transform your work because one of the big afflictions in Silicon Valley right now is overwork. And people who are just under so much pressure that their health, their cognitive ability is breaking down. I mean, you've read the news of what's been happening to Elon Musk lately. And I really–
Ben: No. What's happening to him?
Vishen: Well, he did an expose on the New York Times. Sorry, he did an interview with the New York Times. He spoke about how he can't get to sleep without Ambien. He's hooked on sleeping pills. He's overworked. He's been tweeting in a really awkward way that has led to the SEC suing him for his tweets. He's an amazing guy, so much respect for the man but he's had kind of a breakdown and I think the world has so many people like Elon who have incredible gifts that the world needs but they need to learn to take care of themselves. They need to learn the stuff that you're teaching, the stuff that I learned the painful way when I had my breakdown because these men, these women, they are building up our future but they have not been trained to take care of themselves first.
Ben: So that one's called Superhuman Executive and it's in Silicon Valley?
Ben: When is that one?
Vishen: It's happening in September 2019.
Ben: Okay. Cool. I'm very interested in that. That sounds extremely cool, as is the one in Portugal, the A-Fest in Portugal. I've heard amazing things about Portugal but I've never been. So, that's one, if you guys are listening in, you may actually see me at because I've got a thing about visiting some of these places everybody tells me I should go to. So, I'll put links and details to all this stuff over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quest. And dude, freaking Elon Musk, you need to call me up if you want some help with some of those issues. I know he's a regular listener, at least I assume he is, him and his–I think the last photo I saw from him he was on the Joe Rogan podcast with a flamethrower. So, that might be an issue, too. Maybe he just needs to back off the flamethrower.
Vishen, is there anything else that you want to share with folks? And you've been very generous with your time but anything else you want to throw out there, any other last tips for folks, anything else that you would like to express while I've got you captive on the podcast?
Vishen: Well, I think I want to re-emphasize that quote from Professor Srikumar Rao, right? The most important thing you can do for your business is to focus on your health, on your mind, on your sleep, in short, on your personal growth. You have to put yourself first. This isn't a selfish way of looking at the world. This is a way of giving yourself the attention, the love, the quality of rest and downtime so that you can operate at your optimal best. And when you do this, everything else in your life improves; your relationships, your social connections, your happiness levels, and most of all, your productivity at work. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned in the last couple of years.
Ben: Yeah. Even your vertical jump too, your vertical jump. And by the way, for those of you who think that's bunk, it's actually–I found this study and I'll link to it. It's called the Unburdening Effects of Forgiveness, the Effects on Jumping High. It was published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal. And literally, I'm not kidding, people actually test it and had a higher vertical jump after they practice the unburdenness and the lightening that forgiveness can give you. So, if there's nothing at all you learned from this podcast, you now know how to dunk a basketball. Just go forgive some people.
Vishen, thanks for coming on this show, man. This is fascinating. I'm going to link to all this stuff over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/quest. And last thing I want to say, man, is keep up the good work. You're making some amazing changes in the world with this whole transformational education thing.
Vishen: Thank you, Ben. I appreciate that and I appreciate you and thank you for this amazing podcast. I truly enjoyed this.
Ben: Awesome. All right, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Vishen Lakhiani signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Want more? Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com or you can subscribe to my information-packed and entertaining newsletter and click the link up on the right-hand side of that web page that says, “Ben recommends,” where you'll see a full list of everything I've ever recommended to enhance your body and your brain. Finally, to get your hands on all of the unique supplement formulations that I personally develop, you can visit the website of my company, Kion, at getK-I-O-N.com. That's getK-I-O-N.com.
The TED of Transformation
My friend Vishen Lakhiani’s exploration of peak human potential began in 2001 when he took meditation classes to remedy his crushing work stress in a New York technology company. This soon inspired him to launch Mindvalley: a publisher and marketer of online self-help programs. Back then, shortly after he launched some of his first meditation apps, I actually hosted Vishen on the podcast The World's Best Phone Apps For Sleep, Meditation and Relaxation, in which we geeked out on meditation and the meditation apps that Vishen and his team began designing.
After 15 years, 3 million students, and numerous accolades from the likes of Huffington Post, BBC, Inc. Magazine, and WorldBlu, Mindvalley became recognized as one of the world’s top workplaces, and a leading publisher in the personal growth industry. But Vishen’s vision extended further.
He believes many aspects of mainstream education remain dangerously stuck in obsolete industrial revolution-era paradigms. And that the evolution of humanity’s consciousness is lagging behind our innovations in technology. This makes the evolution of our education – or as he calls it, Transformational Education – one of our most pressing concerns. Through Mindvalley, Vishen now works with governments, education institutions, technology innovators, artists, and the world’s best teachers to create deeply transformational learning experiences: the kind that elevate people of all ages and walks of life into empowered, cosmocentric, highly evolved human beings.
Today, Vishen is a leading voice for transformational education and is the founder of annual events like A-Fest and Mindvalley U, both of which I've attended and spoken at. He also speaks on stages across the world on subjects such as personal growth, education technology, and workplace culture. He sits on the Innovation Board of the XPrize Foundation, an advocate of human-centric technological development. And he’s also a bestselling author, including the incredibly popular book “Code Of The Extraordinary Mind“.
But Vishen’s latest mission is arguably his most audacious yet: within the next 20 years, he intends to completely evolve mankind’s approach to learning, by bringing Transformational Education to every country and Fortune 500 company on the planet. One of the ways he's doing that is via the innovative Mindvalley Quests, and in today's podcast, we talk about the new Beauty & Longevity Quest I've created with Mindvalley, the Beauty & Longevity Masterclass that accompanies the Quest, and much, much more!
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-When and why Vishen launched Mindvalley…14:32
- Wanted to start the next great social media platform in 2002.
- Lost everything; owed money; couldn't pay rent.
- Got a job selling tech info to lawyers.
- Ended up depressed. Hit rock bottom.
- Googled, “Why does life suck so bad?” Discovered class on meditation.
- Was the only person who showed up to the class.
- Began applying meditation, empathy, intuition into his work. Sales improved exponentially in 4 months.
- Looking to tap into the subconscious for ideas.
- How Vishen incorporated meditation into his sales calls:
- Gave his mind “instructions”:
- Only call lawyers that are a good fit for the tech.
- Would benefit both sides from a sale.
- Ran hand over names; listened for a “gut impulse.” Yes, or no.
- Doubled sales in one week listening to his gut.
- Quit sales job and became a meditation instructor.
- Took the Silva Mind Control; adapted to his own practice. Has now integrated with Mindvalley.
- “Mindvalley Intuition Program”
- How often do you do the Silva Mind Control?
-The 113 points that are measured in the Mindvalley program…30:20
- Based on an online assessment developed by Jon Butcher.
- Unifying different models of personal growth via merger, acquisition.
- Prices on programs are lowered, more available to people.
-Vishen's own personal habits and biohacks…34:00
- Extremely structured life.
- Aspergers causes awkwardness in social situations, OCD behavior in work.
- Knowledge is data; focus on transformation to live a more fulfilling life.
- Focusing on transformation changed Vishen's outlook on life, physical appearance, mindset.
- Wants to have the biggest jump in consciousness in history by 2038.
- Vishen's Daily Routine:
- Very regimented work program. 8 hours per day.
- Family, reading, study time.
-How Vishen fixed his eyesight…57:20
- Read his blog post about it here.
- Get your eyes checked from a doctor, not an optometrist.
- Get glasses one increment down from your actual vision.
- Install eye chart in your home.
- Get a vision coach, online vision course.
- Eyeglasses are a crutch!
-Vishen's sleep routine…1:03:35
-The diet that Vishen promotes which mimics that of our ancestors…1:08:15
- Wild Fit
- 80% of your body shape is what you eat.
- An “anti-diet” diet program.
- Rooted in behavioral psychology. 90-day program.
- Week 6-7, you go off sugar; that's when the fat starts to shed.
- You end up craving only what's good for you.
-Innovative Mindvalley Quests & the Beauty and Longevity Quest I've created with Mindvalley…1:19:40
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
-Book: The Code Of The Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani
-Book: The Master Key
-Book: The Silva Mind Control Method by Jose Silva
-Ben's “V-Shape” 9 Month Men's Muscle Building Program by Ben Greenfield, based on the Adonix index
-Book: Atomic Habits by James Clear
–Organifi Gently Dried Superfood Greens Powder. Now you can get all your healthy superfoods in one glass…with No Shopping, No Blending, No Juicing, and No Cleanup. Get 20% off your order when you use code here at checkout.
–Thrive Market Organic brands you love for less. It's my favorite place to shop for groceries online! Get 25% off your first order when you shop at my link.