From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/jay-shetty/
[00:01:53] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:31] Jay and Ben's Catch Up
[00:12:09] Ben's Love for The Water
[00:18:08] Sleep hygiene, light discipline, and mindfulness of circadian rhythms
[00:34:42] Podcast Sponsors
[00:37:25] Making Your Bed A Sanctuary and Optimizing Sleep
[00:47:36] That Time in The Distant Past That Ben Didn't Feel Boundless
[01:01:36] How Our Health Affects Our Quality Of Life, For Better Or Worse
[01:10:08] Where We Go Wrong When It Comes To Changing Habits
[01:16:41] Jay Shetty's Rapid-Fire Questions
[01:20:09] Legal Disclaimer
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast: None of this is fulfilling. I can literally pose on the cover of a magazine, whatever, with girls draped off of each arm, eating $100 steaks for dinner every night, and experiencing what many people would covet as an amazing life. But, I got news for you. I'm not happy. I, after 20 years, realized my own mistake. I'm just beating up the body, expecting it to bounce back and thinking that was true fitness.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, well, well, today is fun episode with my friend, Jay Shetty. Jay Shetty, for those of you not familiar with him, is a pretty influential content producer, one of the top podcasts in the world, actually. And, I was down in LA, had a chance to swing by his place. And, we just had a fantastic chat. We talked about physical, emotional, and mental presence. We talked about fitness. We talked about sleep. We talked about water. We talked about the inability to disentangle the body's fitness and the spiritual fitness. We talked about stimulating your body safely with technology. We talked about siestas, a ton of stuff. So, this is a great show, wonderful chat.
All the show notes, you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Shetty, S-H-E-T-T-Y. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Shetty. And, I hope you enjoy today's show.
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Jay: I am so deeply grateful for our trusted committed community that shows up every week. And, today's guest is someone that I met a few years ago now. We've been going back and forth trying to make this happen with both of our schedules, with the pandemic, with COVID, with everything else that's been going on. And, I have to say that I'm pumped and I'm so excited that we're finally in the same room together. I'm talking about none other than human performance consultant, New York Times bestselling author, self-experimenter, and one of the most wild, crazy interesting, curious people that I know, Ben Greenfield.
Ben, thank you for being here. Thank you for showing up. And, even just a few moments we spent together, I'm already looking forward to this.
Ben: It's bittersweet, though, because the last time we hung out, we were eating wonderful Italian buffet-style five-star resort Sardinian food surrounded by amazing people and music, that whole–was it Mindvalley University?
Ben: Yeah, it was Awesomeness-Fest, A-Fest. I don't think they even call it Awesomeness-Fest anymore because that word's dated. But, yeah, they had–it was almost like a Disneyland in Sardinia, some giant resort. I remember the food was amazing, great parties. And then, I met you. You were sitting at a table at dinner. And, you and I had never met before. And, Vishen Lakhiani was there. And, he introduced us. And then, we thought about doing a podcast. And, that was two years ago.
Jay: Literally, three, I think now.
Ben: And then, finally, the other side of the world, we finally hooked up. But, yes, Sardinia. You know what's interesting about that? Sardinia is well-known as being a longevity hotspot
Jay: Is it?
Ben: Nicoya and Loma Linda and Okinawa, one of these so-called Blue Zones, even though there's some controversy about the whole Blue Zones and whether or not the demographic data was accurate, or whatever. But, either way, people live a long time there. But, when you look at the populations that they studied in Sardinia, it was a lot of the old people up in the Dolomites who were hiking up hills with their goats milk and their wine and eating small cold-water fish and herbs and spices and teas and living this outdoor lifestyle combined with social relationships and love and all these things that we know now feed a good, not just healthspan, but lifespan. And then, we got to Sardinia. So, that was the picture I had painted in my mind.
But then, when we got to Sardinia, we weren't up in the craggy hills with old Italian people drinking table wine over small fish and tea up in the mountains somewhere. This was a full-on five-star resort with golf carts and man-made beaches inside giant walls. And so, it was interesting for me. I kept wanting to slip away up into the Dolomites and be like, “Well, this is interesting.” But, what's the non-touristy side of life? Regardless, though, the food, I think, was amazing and probably something the longevity enthusiasts up in the mountains would have killed to [00:07:36]____.
Jay: Yeah, absolutely. I hope we were eating seasonally.
Ben: I think it was seasonally/what the locals there thought would impress people [00:07:51]____.
Jay: Impress people.
Ben: But, I've eaten in Italy before, I guess, more the locals. So, my wife and, I early on in our marriage, we flew into Rome. Didn't have a lot of money. It was either senior year of college or right after we both graduated. And so, this was back in the day when I had to fax all my reservations in and my credit card number to the different places that we wanted to stay and stuff. But, our harebrained idea was we wanted to rent bikes in Rome and just zigzag ride them all the way up to Florence. And, that's what we did. We rented bikes. But, I planned ahead and mapped out the whole route. And so, I would fax my reservations into these agricolas, which are farm stays, where you stay with these Italian families out there farm, or little hostels or beds and breakfasts, because that's, basically, what we had the money to afford.
And so, we got in the room. We start riding. And, basically, because I already prepaid for all these reservations by faxing them in, it was come hell or high water, we had to get to where we were going that day. And, most days were 35 to 50 miles of riding, which isn't a whole lot. But, these are heavy touring bikes with panniers on either side, these bags where you keep all of your belongings, your clothing, your toiletries, whatever. And, inevitably, the trip goes on. And, we buy wine and buy cheese and buy souvenirs. These bikes would get heavier and heavier as we'd go. Every city there is built on top of a hill, like an old medieval village with walls. And, you got to climb a hill.
So, every day, at the end of the day, the very last thing we do in our legs were already toast with just climb, climb, climb to the top of these hills, and then hunt down wherever we'd actually put in a reservation to stay at. But, I remember the most special thing was every single day, you'd finish, you were sweaty, you were tired, your legs were aching. And, you knew that there was a homemade Italian meal with some table wine that rivals a $50 glass of wine you'll buy here in the U.S., and wonderful people and smiles and a bed to stay in. And, I just remember every single day riding up those hills, thinking gelato, homemade ravioli, red wine. You got this, Ben. You could do this.
It was a cool trip. We got all the way up to Florence. We put our bikes on a train, and then just took the train back down to Rome and flew home. So, years and years later, I have twin 13-year-old sons. And, when they're 15, so year and a half or two from now, we're going to replicate that trip. We're going to take them back. So, now, I've got them starting to train and learn how to be comfortable on the roads. The Italian roads have no shoulders. So, you got to know to handle your bike on roads and know how to ride a big fat touring bike instead of a road bike. And so, that's going to be really–I'm super looking forward to that.
Jay: That's such a beautiful plan.
Ben: The next trip to Italy with my boys riding through the Italian fields and hunting down Florence again.
Jay: That's a beautiful plan. I love hearing them. And, they're lucky boys. And, I remember that, as a young man, my parents would drive us to Italy. That was their favorite place in Europe. So, we would drive from London, would get the ferry into France. And then, from France, we would drive again to Italy.
Jay: So, we'd drive to Venice. We'd drive to Naples. We'd drive to Rome. We just drive to a different place. And, we drive across Italy because we didn't have the money to fly there. And, my parents preferred doing a road trip. And, we didn't get on any bikes or anything like that. But, even what you were saying —
Ben: I was going to say weak family, if you guys, were really, you would take in bicycles. [00:11:22]____.
Jay: You were taking a bike from London —
Ben: Bike from London.
Jay: –to Italy, yeah. We were 8 years old, about that. But, I have good memories of visiting Italy with my parents as well. So, I can only imagine how your boys are going to feel when they go there.
Ben: My only concern is the girls because I got two 13-year-old, maybe, 15 by then, blonde-haired, blue-eyed American boys, and just having taken my wife there and seeing the reaction to–My wife's blonde-haired, blue-eyed. The men there were very, very forward, catcalling as she walks down the street.
Jay: Oh, wow.
Ben: Then, when I took my sons to Thailand a couple of years ago, same thing. All the time, people just flock around them. And then, the women are practically swooning as these little blonde-haired boys walked through the streets. So, we may have to bring some fly swatters to keep the wind off of them.
Jay: I love it, Ben. I love it. My friends' memory of you actually was in Sardinia. I knew you were going to be there. We were both speaking at the conference. I was learning about you and learning about your world. I'm not a biohacker. That's not my background, in the same sense as you are. And so, I was intrigued. And, I loved your sessions that you did. But, my first experience of you was we had an evening party. And, we were on this bridge, if you remember, at the hotel. And, you literally jumped in to the hotel lake/pool. And, the reason why I say lake is because it wasn't a swimming pool. I've got to give Ben credit. And, it was evening. So, it was cooler. And, you dived in, and you swam, and you got out. And, you made it. And, we were all like, “Wow, that is the way to enter it.”
Ben: I didn't think you remember this.
Jay: You remember it?
Ben: Yeah. And, that was early on the trip. Honestly, dude, I love water.
Jay: I know you do.
Ben: I'm at home in water. I competed for years in open water swimming, in Ironman Triathlon. And, the biking and the running was okay, but I did and I still do, just love.
Jay: You could see that.
Ben: I love the water. I love the ocean. I love spearfishing. I'm not a big water man in terms of surfing and kiteboarding and things like that because I don't really have that up in Washington state. So, I can't practice it. And, I tend not to really be passionate about the things I suck at because I can't practice them. But, I think water is almost woven into my DNA somehow because my dad, all of his side comes from Australia. And, I'm a big believer in the fact that we do carry a lot of things epigenetically in our DNA, not only trauma, but also the things that our ancestors were good at or love to do.
My son, River, dreams a lot about snow and ice in Finland and trekking up snowy mountains in the cold. And, it's interesting because my wife, Jessa's whole side is northern European up in the area around Finland and Estonia and Switzerland and some of these more snowy white places. And, it's funny. That's a repeating dream that he has. And, I suspect that it's woven into his DNA in the same way that a love for water is woven into my DNA.
And, I'm actually super excited because, right before I left to come down here to LA, I received a package in the mail. This company called a Finis sent me these headphones that you can attach to your goggles and their bone-conducting headphones. Meaning, that you can listen to stuff while you're swimming or while you're under the water or while you were spearfishing or whatever. So, they conduct the sound through the bones on either side of your head, rather than your ears. So, you don't have to worry about the wires and everything. And then, they sent me these goggles that have an in-screen display as your swimming that show you how many strokes you've taken and how far you've gone.
So, perhaps, it will just suck all the enjoyment of swimming out of me because, sometimes, excess technology can do that. But, just water toys like that, absolutely love.
Jay: That's beautiful.
Ben: And, we don't live near water. We live on about 10 acres of isolated forest land up in Washington state, which is great. We have goats and these cute little Nigerian dwarf goats and Icelandic chickens and a bunch of garden beds and all sorts of old-growth forests where there's all sorts of wild plant edibles, like mint and plantain and nettle and white-tailed deer and turkey and coyote. It's a great place, but there's no water right there. So, now, I'm building this natural pond. And then, just to scratch my swimming itch, I got one of those swimming pools. It's 20 feet long, but it has a super hard jet. And, you attach a–it's an elastic band to your waist
Jay: I know exactly what is that.
Ben: Then, you can swim against the current.
Jay: What do they call it? There's a name for those boards.
Ben: Mine was called an Aqua Fitness. It's the ones you see Michael Phelps advertising in the back of airplane, that kind of thing. But then, I keep mine because I'm a huge fan of the power of cold thermogenesis and cryotherapy just for fat loss and your nervous system health and your cellular resilience. I think most people live in the comfort of temperature too much. And, when we look at longevity data, when we look at health data, when we look at nervous system and cellular resilience, constant exposure or regular exposure to stresses of heat and stresses of cold is so good for the human body. So, I have a sauna. And then, I have this pool. But, I keep it cold.
What I mean by that is I don't heat it. So, in the summer, I'll swim at 60 degrees or whatever it gets up to. In the winter, I'll go out there and swim. And, it'll be almost break through the ice temperatures. But, I get in that thing almost every day and swim. And, it puts a big smile on my face.
Jay: I love that. I've been going to this place called Pause in West Hollywood.
Ben: Is that Pause?
Jay: Yeah. So, I'm going there every week with my wife.
Ben: They have float tanks there, too.
Jay: Yeah. So, we go there every Saturday and we do the sensory deprivation tanks for about an hour. And then, we'll both go and do three cycles of the sauna and coal plunge together for another hour.
Ben: You feel like a million bucks afterwards.
Jay: We do it every Saturday morning. It's become a morning routine ritual on Saturday. We wake up. Once we've done our meditation 10:00 a.m., we head over. And then, 10:00 a.m. to noon, we're there. I've heard that for a long time. And, as monks, we took cold showers. We were in India. So, it was hot plenty of the time. So, you always experience uncomfortable amounts of heat. But, doing that since I've been back where my body has acclimatized to wanting a more comfortable temperature, and the temperature at home is always perfect. But, also, I've started sleeping at 66, 67 Fahrenheit. And that, even though, is cooler in the beginning, that kind of sleep temperature has really helped. And, we wake up sometimes feeling cold. But, I can notice that that's doing some good for my body, too.
Ben: Sleeping in the cold, the positive effects on sleep architecture have always been surprising to me because it's such simple low-hanging fruit. When you look at sleep hygiene, we have light as being one component of sleep hygiene. So, what I mean by that is your sleep cycle begins in the morning, meaning that the more sunlight, the more of these if you're looking at this from more of a biohacking standpoint, the infrared light panels that you can use to simulate sunrise in your office, that you can shine on your whole body, or an infrared sauna, or these blue light boxes that they sell for desktops that are used for seasonal affective disorders, or, of course, sunlight being the top of the totem pole for any of this stuff, blasting yourself with light in the morning, combined with turning your room into just a light cave at night–I've replaced all the cans in our bedroom with red incandescent bulbs instead of LED or modern fluorescent lighting.
Jay: So, that's the late evening before you turn off the lights.
Ben: Yeah. So, my master bedroom, my son's bedroom, and our master bathroom are all red incandescent bulbs. No regular bulbs.
Jay: [00:19:21]____ whenever you turn on the lights.
Ben: Yeah, all red. No dimmers because dimmers–and we're getting into the weeds a little bit here. But, dimmer switches on lights, they cause a lot more what is called dirty EMF or a high amount of non-native electricity that doesn't jive well with human cellular function. And so, we don't use dimmers. But, we just replaced all the cans with red incandescent, the reason for incandescent being that, even though there's slightly bigger power hogs on the electrical supply, it's not that big of a deal. Might be an extra 10, 15 bucks in your electrical bill every month. So, it's nothing too big to worry about. But, also, they simulate the natural red spectrum of sunlight and the same as our ancestors might have experienced during torchlight or firelight at night.
Jay: Oh, really?
Ben: So, all of the bedrooms, anywhere where there would be a sleeping place or a place where you might get up to pee at night, it's all red incandescent.
And then, all the computers, my son's computer and my wife's computer, my computer, we have a program installed on that called Iris. And, Iris just sucks all the high-temperature light out of the computer screen at a specific time of day. So, it's very eye-friendly as the night comes in.
Jay: Can you have that on your phone as well?
Ben: No, but for the phone–So, I do Iris on the computer. And then, for the television, even though we don't watch much television, I have a box installed on that called a Drift Box that decreases all the blue light from the television. And then, for the phone, obviously, a lot of phones have built-in native night mode. But, for the iPhone, in particular, which is what I use, you can Google iPhone red light trick. And, you can actually set your iPhone so it literally just sucks all of the blue light out of the phone. It turns it dark red, like a lot of people who will do a dopamine fast will switch their phone to black and white for a week, which I think is a great idea. This will switch it to red.
And so, you combine all those factors, along with preferably–and I'll do this a lot of times when I travel because I just don't have as much say of the light bulbs in the hotel room or whatever.
Jay: Of course.
Ben: Wear the blue-light-blocking glasses at night, especially. So, basically, you're just blasting yourself with natural and blue light in the morning. And then, complete absence of that same light at night. You want to get as close to just what would looking at fire look like at night.
So, light is one. And, it's interesting because light can also be used to shift your circadian rhythm backwards or forwards. So, let's say we weren't sitting here in LA. Let's say we were in New York. And so, my wake time in New York being, let's say, 6:00 a.m. would dictate that if I were back home on Pacific Time, that's 3:00 a.m. And, if I'm in New York for a week, when I get back home to Pacific Time, my body is all of a sudden waking up at 3:00 a.m., which is annoying and problematic. And, I don't want to get up at 3:00 a.m. because there's not a whole lot going on. I'm a total fan. I'm an early morning guy.
Ben: I actually get up 4:30 or 5:00. But, 3:00 is pushing the envelope. 3:00 is like you're dead by 11:00 a.m.
Ben: You can't talk to people, you need a nap. So, anyways, the trick there is when you're waking up at 3:00 a.m., if you do wake up and you have to get out of bed and you're going to get up here, maybe, whatever, go do some yoga or read a book or whatever, you trick your body into thinking it's still night time by keeping your phone in night mode, by not turning on any lights in the house, by putting those blue-light-blocking glasses that most people wear at night on, in the morning instead. And, when the time rolls around, when you actually want to send a message to your body that this is the new time to wake up, let's say that's 6:00 a.m., then you flip on all the lights and you blast the body with light.
And, after two to three days of doing that, it's remarkable at how quickly you can shift your circadian rhythm backwards or forwards using light.
Jay: So, you won't be waking up until.
Ben: And, again, back to the whole biohacking realm, there are even, in addition to those light-producing boxes that you can put on top of your desk, they make ones that you can put in your ears. They look like headphones. They're called the HumanCharger. And, they blast your head with this blue light in either ear.
Ben: And then, there's also a pair of glasses that you can use called Re-Timer.
Jay: So, you don't even need to see that light.
Ben: Your entire body is a light receptor machine. And, that's interesting because you could wear a sleep mask at night but if your room is really light, if you don't have blackout curtains or there's lots of blinking things in the room or you walk into a hotel and you turn off the lights and all of a sudden, it looks like a spaceship because of the TV and the Wi-Fi and everything. Even if your eyes are covered, all that stuff hits your skin.
Ben: So, when I say dark in the room, I make sure it's really super dark. But, you were talking about temperature, too. Obviously, temperature, that's the second component of sleep hygiene. So, with temperature, I think you said you're doing, what, 65, 66?
Ben: Because I coach some people still for their health and for their sleep and everything. So, I get to look at a lot of data from an Oura ring or from a Whoop or whatever wearable somebody is using. And, I've identified that about 63 to 65 Fahrenheit is even better.
Jay: Got it, so even a bit lower.
Ben: My metric is if you're one of those people who–and I think this is a good idea for staying cold–who likes to take off all their clothes before they get into bed at night or sleep in their underwear, if you have mild cognitive resistance to taking off your clothes at night before you get into bed because it's a little chilly, that's a pretty good sleep top. So, for me, it's a little chilly when I take my clothes off, that's perfect.
And then, in addition to that, I actually have this pad underneath the top sheet in my bed. It's called the Chilipad. And, it circulates 55 degree-cold water under my body while I'm sleeping. My wife doesn't do most of this stuff.
Jay: So, you just have on your half.
Ben: Yeah, the shoemaker's wife wears no shoes, dude. So, I just don't bug her. But, I let her do her thing. She likes to garden and hang out with the goats and chickens and go on walks. And so, she just does her thing. And, I don't force anything on her because I know what will happen. If I want to give my wife health advice, I'll tell one of my friends who's a doctor. I'll be like, “Text this to Jessa.” And then, they'd text it to her, because I just know that to [00:25:28]____.
Jay: She's going to know now when she watches this.
Ben: No, because that's the thing, is she also doesn't —
Jay: She's not going to watch this.
Ben: She wouldn't even know how to download a podcast. So, that's just who she is. So, anyways, though. So, I have the Chilipad on my side. And, my sons both have one, too. And, they love it. So, we have these big, glorious family dinners at night. And, right before dinner, all these boys run upstairs and turn on our Chilipads, so we can sleep better. So, the beds are already cold when we get into it.
Another thing that you can do, and it's a little bit paradoxical, but it actually works, is you can pull on wool socks before you go to bed at night. And, when your feet are warm, there's these little vessels that are called anastomosis or something like that. But, it actually allows the rest of your body to stay cool when you warm some of those tiny vessels in the hands or in the leg. So, you'd think wearing wool socks to bed to will keep you warm.
Ben: But, just wear wool socks and a little else. And, you can actually cool the body with that method, too. And then, finally, regarding cold, you don't mind me just geeking out on all this.
Jay: No, this is beautiful. I love this.
Ben: I feel like I was going on.
Jay: No, sleep is going to be everyone's–
Ben: Everybody sleeps.
Jay: –everyone's going to try this out because sleep's something that everyone is struggling. So, I'm very happy with this. Please, geek out.
Ben: So, the thing with the cold is that, if you do break the rules because there's all these rules now that all the scientists in their institutions have come up with that are annoying us, like you're not supposed to workout hard within three hours of bedtime and you're not supposed to eat a heavy meal within three hours prior to bedtime, which for me can be socially problematic because I love to have big glorious family dinners with people and go out on the town and visit new restaurants. And, let's say you're going to be at 10:00, how often are you really going to be done with all that at 7:00? Unless you're just a total, I don't know, just boring social outcast. Sorry to all the people who aren't eating dinner.
But, basically, it's not that hard. You just get the body's core temp back down. So, if it's the winter and I finished at dinner, I'll go for a brisk walk outside in the cold weather. And, if it is the summer or a warmer season, just a lukewarm or cold shower before I go to bed. My sons and I just went down and watch the fights down in Vegas when it was 115 degrees on the strip. And, we'd walk every night. We'd walk home from the fights and the shows everywhere we went. And, every night, before I get into bed, there is a little bit of resistance to this, but that's okay. You can overcome the resistance. But, just take a cold shower before you get into bed. And, that helps to lower the core temp, if you have had to exercise or you've had a heavy meal in those three hours prior to bedtime.
So, you've got the light, and you've got the cold with the ambient temperature, and then your sleep surface, and then your body itself that you keep cold. The other two that you want to think about for sleep in addition to light and cold, the first is noise. And, in the city, this is a bigger issue. But, even I have got roosters that like to get up early because they're naturally programmed to wake you up. And, I live out in the forest but there's a road nearby that sometimes semis go down. And, I can hear off in the distance the breaking, the [00:28:39]_____, when semis go downhill.
So, I wear earplugs, just soft wax earplugs, to bed. But then, they've actually done studies on the different forms of ambient noise that help you to sleep at night. They make sleep machines that will make white noise and brown noise. And, one of the forms of noise that they make is pink noise. And, pink noise, it appears, is the best background noise to have playing in the background.
Jay: What is pink noise? I've never even heard that.
Ben: I don't know why they give colors to certain noises. But, it's the frequency and the pitch of that noise. So, I've got an app on my phone called Sleep Stream. I think it was free, or the cost was incidental. But, it's got all these different sleep tracks on it. And, I don't use anything on it except the pink noise function. So, my phone goes in airplane mode next to my bed. And then, I push pink noise on. And, I put the earplugs in. And then, I'm covering up all those ambient sounds. That technique works a lot better when I'm traveling, when I'm staying in a hotel near busy roads, when I have a roommate or something like that, if I'm at a conference and I'm sharing room with somebody and they're getting up early or they're going to bed late. So, the sound is another component, especially, if you're a light sleeper.
And then, the final component is safety. And, a lot of people don't think about the safety component. So, your bed should be a place where, from a nervous system standpoint, you're not wired up in work mode. Your sympathetic nervous system is not activated. If anything, the bed is almost like an anchor that activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Well, if you are one of those people who has business books on your nightstand, or maybe you open your laptop up at night, or really, at any other time during the day that would give your body the impression that the bedroom or the bed, particularly, is an appropriate place to work. I would say, even, that television, just because, psychologically, we as humans are still hardwired to see that television. And, it's as though a whole bunch of other people and other experiences are in your bedroom, not to mention the fact that there's some really interesting data that television can replace dreaming. So, essentially, we live now in an era for the past several decades where all of the colors and imagery and imagination and visualization and creativity that your brain should be churning out during sleep at night to process memories and to process trauma and to process creativity, a lot of that can be replaced by staring at a television before you go to bed at night. So, I don't have a TV in the bedroom for those reasons, and also, for the light reasons, and also, for the reason that I want my body to associate the bed with pretty much nothing but sleep and sex. And then, I'll keep a boring book or a work of fiction next to the bedside.
Now, I used to, when I get to a hotel room, I would just plop on some, especially, a small hotel room, a suite, usually, you've got more than enough room, even the smaller towns' little crappy workstation in the corner or whatever. If that, I'd just pop on my stomach on the bed and open up my laptop. I think a lot of people know what I'm talking about. And, just lay there on your belly and work on the laptop. It's a comfortable spot to do that. And, the problem is that it sends your body this cognitive signal that the bed is the place where you work.
So, now, I always make sure my laptop, even in a single hotel room, is not in the bed. And, that sends the body message that the bed is a safe place, not a workplace, not a stressful place, not at emails jumping out from your computer place. And, if you really want to take that safety thing one step further, this has become quite popular now, this idea of gravity blankets, meaning folks will sell these 10, 15, 20, or 25-pound gravity blankets. And, it sounds like it would be totally paradoxical to what I was saying about staying cool because it sounds heavy.
But, a lot of folks are doing a good job making a gravity blanket that will stay cool. That one company I was talking about Chilipad, they even sell a gravity blanket that will circulate cold water through the blanket. But, there's something about very similar to how when you were swaddled as a baby, you felt protected, and you felt like you were in this quiet cave. It's that feeling when you pull on the gravity blanket. And so, when you combine all that stuff, the light, the cold, the management of sound, and then presence of safety in the bedroom, you create a real nice nest for getting those hours that are arguably the only hours during your life, arguably that third of your life, that your nervous system should be repairing, that your body should not be wired up to have everything activated, that you shouldn't be exposed to lots of electrical signals.
And, I'm not one of those guys who's go full-on, move up to the mountains, don't use internet, cut yourself off from everything. But, it appears that the issue with constant exposure to all these electrical signals that our bodies, from an ancestral standpoint, haven't been exposed to for thousands of years is the fact that the cells don't get a break. So, when we're looking at Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and the constant opening of what are called calcium channels in the cell that allow a whole bunch of ions to spill into the cell that disrupt metabolism, or they give you brain fog later on in the day, that's actually all pretty repairable. The body is actually pretty impressive and magical in terms of how quickly can bounce back from certain things, just in the same way they could recover from a hard exercise session and remove all those muscle fibers or repair all those muscle fibers, if you give it rest, if you give it recovery.
The thing is it's the same thing with electrical exposure. If you can turn your bedroom into a safe quiet, cool place that also doesn't have a whole bunch of plugged-in Wi-Fi routers and phones, etc., you're all of a sudden giving your cells a chance to just go [breathe]. It's like when people camp, just cut off from all that stuff, and they feel great when they come back. So, it's not as though you have to live like a Luddite. It's that, sometimes, you have to press the pause button, give your body a chance to step away from all that electricity for just those seven or eight hours or however long you're in there and then emerge back out, repaired and ready to tackle the day again.
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Jay: Now, you just told everyone how to make their bedroom into a sanctuary.
Ben: A sanctuary, it's okay.
Jay: Yeah, that's what it sounded like, what you were describing out. And, that's what it has to be, a sanctuary, a safe, a sanctuary.
Ben: It has to be. And, I think a lot of people beat themselves up, too. And, there's a lot of really great sleep researchers out there now. You've got guys like Matthew Walker and Nick Littlehales, and, gosh, there's another person who has been doing a lot of work on sleep. Michael Breus is another guy. But, over and over again, what you see is you're supposed to sleep seven to nine hours a night. And, a lot of people feel bad because they don't.
Jay: And, I'm good.
Ben: And, I felt bad for the longest time because I didn't. And, I'm like, “Well, can I die of cancer early, or is my body going to fall apart? Am I going to accelerate aging, because I've got too much going on?” Or, my body just my eyes open wide at 4:30 and I just want to go crush the day, which I think, many people who are dialed into, perhaps, some of the things that you talk about, like your ikigai, your life's purpose, your plan de vida, speaking of Sardinia, this idea of your purpose for life.
Well, if you have a really strong purpose for life, sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you're just like, “Baby, let's go bring it on.” And, for me, with our big, glorious family dinners, and I read my son stories at night, and I play the music on the guitar and I'll make love to my wife and read some fiction. So, even with all that, I can usually do a pretty good job being close to a sleep by 10:00. But, getting up at four 4:30, that's six to six and a half hours. So, the thing is that if you do that, but also, you take a nap, a post-lunch siesta, for example, the siesta, even if it's 20 to 45 minutes long, can simulate what you get out of a full 90-minute-ish sleep cycle.
So, the way that I live my life is I sleep six to six and a half hours a night. And then, clockwork after lunch every day. Or, if I have a meeting after lunch, sometimes, it's slightly later in the afternoon. I'm not trying to push it too close to bedtime because you want some sleep drive going into the night.
Jay: Of course.
Ben: I take a nap. I take a siesta. For me, it's 20 to 45 minutes.
Ben: This is where some of the biohacking comes in. I'm like, okay.
Jay: Give it. I want to hear it
Ben: That 20 to 45 minutes, I want to make this effective. So, what I do is, A, I have something similar to that sensory deprivation float tank that you use down at Pause. I actually had a float tank for a while, but it was too much upkeep for me.
Jay: I can imagine, yeah.
Ben: I got rid of it.
Jay: The magnesium, yeah.
Ben: Yeah, and my whole basement looked like a freaking pool house. So, I have what's called a hyperbaric chamber, which is this chamber that they use in hospitals for repairing wounds. And, they'll use it for cardiovascular problems and increasing red blood cells. And, it pressurizes you at about what's called 1.4 atmosphere. So, it's like you're 23, 25 feet under the ocean with the pressure. But then, you're breathing pure oxygen.
And so, the combination of the pure oxygen plus the pressure drives that oxygen into the tissue accelerates repair, clears the brain. Even if you weren't napping in it, you feel amazing when you get out. And so, I climb in that. And, I like it, too, because I have to zip myself up. And, it's like nobody can get to me. It even takes three minutes to decompress me. So, if the house caught on fire, I'd be screwed. But, I climb into that. So, I'm locked off from the world.
And then, I have a couple of technologies that I use. One is called a HapBee.
Jay: Yeah, I've seen those.
Ben: You've seen this?
Ben: It's super cool. I've been messing around with it for five months now. It uses a magnetic signal that simulates the same molecular signal of a few choice compounds. For simulating wakefulness, you could choose the caffeine setting, the nicotine setting for–It's got an alcohol setting for —
Jay: What's it doing?
Ben: So, basically, all it does is it causes your cells to respond as though that particular molecule were attached to the cell receptor without you actually ingesting a compound or taking a supplement or consuming something that's going to stay in your system for a long period of time. So, let's say I want to wakey-wakey prior to going out to a dinner party, I could put it in coffee mode, put that around my neck or on my head, get that wakefulness-producing hit of caffeine. But then, when I take it off, it's not like the caffeine's still floating around in my system. Same thing with a nap.
Jay: So, it's in your system only for as long as you have it?
Ben: It's as though I were blasting with the electrical signal of coffee without you actually having to drink the coffee–
Jay: That's what I like.
Ben: –which has a half-life of, whatever six or eight or 10 hours, depending on how you're genetically wired up. So, it's really cool. And, I didn't really believe–I'll interview a lot of people on my podcast. I'm like, it's a little woo. But then, I tried it, and it actually works surprisingly well. So, my preferred mode for nap is the one that's called Relaxed. But, it mimics CBD, which is nice for me because it just settles down some racing thoughts, gets me down at the end of the day. So, I put that on.
And then, I also have this other device that works similarly, but instead of using a magnetic signal, it vibrates. And, it's a tiny vibration that elicits a brain wave signal that could be an alpha brain wave signal or a hyped-up beta brain wave signal or a deep relaxation, like theta or delta brain wave signal. And, that's called an Apollo. And, that also, similar to the HapBee, has a wakefulness mode, a social mode. I even put that HapBee one, which also has an alcohol mode on it. I gave it to my son who wanted to try it out at dinner one night. And, it was in social alcohol mode. And, he got super funny. And, he was joking. He's really relaxed. And, as soon as I took it off of him, he was just normal again.
Jay: That quick?
Ben: I wasn't giving my son actual alcohol. This is just simulating the effects. So, I put the Apollo in relax mode. I put the HapBee in relax mode. And, I climb into that hyperbaric chamber. And then, I've got lavender essential oil in there. And, I lay back. And then, I play this track. And, I discovered a lot of things through podcasting. A lot of stuff I learned is from talking to people.
Jay: I'm learning right now.
Ben: Super-duper smart, who'd normally never give me the time of day. And, I get to pick the brains of these scientists and physicians and physiologists —
Jay: Well, you're doing that for me today.
Ben: –for 90 minutes twice a week. So, it's way better than my college education, just talking all these people and find out what works and what doesn't. But, a couple of years ago, I interviewed this guy who has a company called NuCalm. And, NuCalm has an app that place special signals. And, this sounds like 8 billion other apps out there that will play relaxing signals at night. There are a dime that does it on the App Store.
But, this one, in particular, it just seems to work for me, most notably, in the way that I can put it on 20 minutes. And, I'm dead to the world within two minutes of that thing playing. I'll wake up at the 20-minute mark. And, I feel like I've slept an hour.
Jay: This isn't the pink noise. This is something else.
Ben: This is something else, yeah. As a matter of fact, I asked the guy when I interviewed him, well, could this just replace the pink noise that I play at night? And, he said, no, don't do that because it pushes you through a sleep cycle so well that if you put it on to sleep at night, you'd go through your sleep cycle from, let's say, 10:00 to 11:30, then you'd wake up wide awake at night. So, this is something that's better, in my opinion, for naps. The other time, I'll sometimes use it is if I wake up, let's say, at 3:34 and I want to snag an extra 30, 40 minutes of sleep or whatever, I'll put it on that.
So, I do the nap with the Apollo, the HapBee, the hyperbaric, the oil, and then that HapBee. And, even though I'm sleeping six to six and a half hours a night, I get up from that nap and I'm groggy for 10, 15 minutes. But, what I do is I go and I jump in that cold pool. And then, I'll have some kind of stimulant. I'll just pop a piece of nicotine gum or have a little leftover coffee from the night before or whatever. And then, boom, it's like I have a second day. I feel amazing. I'm fully present with my family that night at dinner. Whereas, if I push through that afternoon slog, it's a dinner and you're just like, “I can't wait until bedtime.” And, I don't like that feeling, personally.
Jay: I'm just impressed of your charging skills. You must have the most organizing charging schedule for all these devices.
Ben: What's this thing? Oh, charging.
Jay: They all need to be charged. They will need to be–Most people can't even charge their phone. You're here charging seven devices. So, it's amazing. And, I mean that genuinely. I'm not trying to be funny.
Ben: I've got one charging station in the dining room that I just keep everything plugged into. So, yeah, I've got four or five devices that I'm charging during the day. Or, the reason that I plug them in is not because they have a low battery life and they need to be charged. And, this is important for people to know. Any of these devices or anything I try, I have a hard and fast rule that it must be able to be placed in airplane mode, for the reasons that I stated earlier.
So, if somebody is trying to sell me or have me try some crazy new sleep system, mattress, self-quantification device, or whatever, one of the first questions I ask is, well, can I disable the Wi-Fi or can I put it in airplane mode so that during the time I'm using it, especially, for rest, I'm not getting bombarded by signals?
Jay: I'm so happy you brought this up, Ben.
Ben: And so, most of them can. But, the problem is, when you place a device in airplane mode, typically, to re-connect it to your phone, because most of these are run via some kind of app on your phone, you have to plug it back into a charger. And, I'm not an engineer. It takes out airplane mode, basically.
And so, a lot of times, I do have to plug things in, get up from my nap, plug the HapBee and the Apollo in so they're ready for the next day. But, yeah, there are ways, especially, in our day and age, that you can definitely get by without just swallowing hook line and sinker the eight to nine hours of sleep a night message. There's a lot of ways around it.
Jay: Tell me about it, Ben, when, you've always been athletic, you are an athlete, you've been an athlete, you spoke about that before, but you also mentioned that there have been times when you didn't feel this way. And, I want to hear a bit about that, about how your life was before you really understood the body as deeply as you do today.
Because, I feel like, for a lot of people, when they see you, to me, as well, and I really mean this in a genuine way, I see you as, wow, this guy just really understands the body, really understands the mind. And, you're an expert, so you sound like an expert. But, I know for a fact that you weren't born that way. And, that's not how you've always been. And, I'd love for people to hear about that journey around tell me about a time when you didn't feel boundless, when you didn't feel as like now, it's like, “You know how to turn this and you play with this. And, now, it's an experiment and it's fun and you enjoy it.” Tell us about did you ever feel broken, health-wise? Did you ever feel like everything was just a mess? Were you ever in the place that most of my audience may be feeling, like, well, they're just like, “Jay, I'm just struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I don't sleep. I've got bloated. I'm feeling gassy?” Tell me about when you felt like you were at your worst as opposed to what we see now.
Ben: There's three things that I want to tell you right now. When I was a kid, I was homeschooled, K through 12. The emphasis of my homeschooling was really more on a classical education centered around Latin and logic and rhetoric and the great books and tons of reading, which I loved. My happy place was the library. And, my parents would have to take me out of the bedroom and almost threaten me with punishment if I wouldn't come out and socialize with people because I just wanted to be in there with my books.
I played the violin for 13 years. I was president of the chess club. I love to take part computers and design video games and figure out how my hard drive worked, and was an early adopter of a lot of these technologies in a very geeky way, prior to the advent of social media, etc., when you actually had to have a working knowledge of some of these technologies. And, I was pretty much a geeky little Christian homeschooled kid. I remember the stuff I got mad about when I was a kid was when some kid would quilt a doily at our homeschool talent competition and beat out my watercolor painting.
Jay: Was your mother and father were both–Was the home school there was a group of kids and teachers?
Ben: We had a pretty good homeschool collective, so I didn't completely miss out on social life. I was a weird kid in that I was very independently driven to learn. And, I am still that way now.
Ben: My parents would literally just give me books and walk away. They would literally give me the whole year's math curriculum and then just make sure I took the tests. My siblings were not the same and needed a lot more handholding. But, I've always been curious and driven from an independent learning standpoint. And, it really wasn't until I discovered the sport of tennis that I became interested in physical culture at all. When my parents wanted to create a really cool environment for all of us to grow up. And so, one day, they announced that they were going to bring in some folks and we're all going to pitch in and learn a little bit of construction and lay asphalt and build a tennis court. So, we built a tennis court. And, they hired a tennis instructor. And, her name was Michelle. And, I had a big crush on her, which helped with my motivation to play more tennis. But, I also loved tennis, and I got really good at it. And, it came really naturally to me. And, I started to run up the hills behind my house. And, my dad took me down to the local sporting goods store to buy little 10-pound dumbbells. And, I started to figure out how to drink milk to get strong and the things that made me faster and how to stay hydrated in water and minerals.
I had a couple of mentors. A guy who was my younger brother's best friend's dad was a bodybuilder. So, all of a sudden, I'm learning about nutrition and working out from him. Another friend is a powerlifter. So, by the time I'm 15, I was done with high school. So, I'm like, I don't want to program computers or paint watercolor. I want to learn more about this body and tennis. So, I walked onto the local college tennis team when I was 15 and started playing tennis, started studying exercise science, got a master's degree in physiology and biomechanics and wound up opening a whole bunch of personal training studios and gyms in Washington and Idaho and just have been hardcore in the health and fitness and nutrition scene ever since then.
So, initially, I really wasn't interested in much of this stuff at all. But, at that point, I spent 20 years competing in all these crazy hardcore obstacle course races and Ironman triathlons and open-water swims and adventure races. That was my life for 20 years, was using my body as a Guinea pig, using all these races and events as a battlefield to test stuff out. I was coaching. I was competing. I was traveling.
And, I thought I was the bee's knees when it came to fitness. I would say that if you were to look at me and judge me through what our world considers to be fitness, which I think is a bastardized version of fitness, I was one of the fittest humans on the planet. I really did look good in spandex and could ride my bike really fast, run up hills. And, to reply to the meat part of your question, it was about nine years ago or so when I really got into self-quantification, testing of blood work, testing of biomarkers, sleep, nervous system, all these things that we can easily test now that you normally would have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars for at the Princeton Longevity Institute or some executive facility only available to wealthy CEOs. We can now get all these tests in our own home. And, I got super interested in this stuff. And, I started to get all these tests. And, I realized, crap, I'm fit on the outside, but I'm dying on the inside. High inflammation, low testosterone, dysregulated thyroid, gut inflammation, and gut issues and constipation, and brain fog, and all these issues that technically somebody with low body fat and muscles who can run and lift weights you wouldn't expect to have.
But, really, true fitness is not about going to a little fake box at the beginning of the day and pushing fake heavy things around for an hour and then walking out and assuming that you're good to go and maybe eating healthy, like a protein bar, Trader Joe's, or whatever. There's so much more. There's so much more when it comes to the body. And, that's what I began to discover. And, my first big book that I wrote called “Beyond Training” was just that. It was, so, as an athlete, there's all these other things, like digestion and hormones and endocrine system and inflammation and blood sugar regulation and immune system integrity and all these things that we don't think about when it comes to what it truly takes to have long healthspan and lifespan.
And so, what I discovered along the way was all of these things, “Men's Health” magazine or “Women's Health” magazine, whatever, will tell you how to exercise and how to eat healthy. Maybe, sometimes they miss the mark a little bit. But, for the most part, it's not rocket science for somebody to go out there and figure out eat real whole food that's recognizable, that preferably is as close to earth as possible, and then move your body, lift heavy stuff, and occasionally breathe hard, playing tennis or soccer or high-intensity interval training or whatever.
We've cracked the code on eating healthy and moving. And, most people can find that information for free pretty readily. But, what most people don't pay attention to are all the things that the body really truly needs to be optimized, to produce ATP, to produce energy. And, this is a big part of what my last book, “Boundless,” was about, light and how the photons of light interact with the human body to charge up the mitochondria to allow it to be able to produce ATP, the negative ions, and the electricity produced by the planet Earth that, when you're outside barefoot or you're touching trees and rocks, you're soaking up all those negative ions and just restoring the natural state of electricity of the body. The body, which is like a battery, is supposed to be in, when you get exposed to stressors of heat or stressors of cold, there's enormous variants that spring up in the human body, like heat shock proteins and cold shock proteins, and blood flow and nitric oxide. When you drink pure clean water that's chock-full of minerals, trace liquid minerals or sea salts or things like that, that carries that electrical charge through your body.
And, I began to realize, holy cow, I thought you're just supposed to go to the gym and eat a protein bar to be healthy. But, oh, my gosh, it's sunlight, it's magnetism, it's water, it's earth, it's heat, it's cold, it's positive relationships and love and gratitude and all these things that we forget about when it comes to being a full, complete human being. And so, that was when the lightbulb happened for me, when I realized I'm healthy on the outside but I'm dying on the inside. And, there's all sorts of avenues that this entire fitness world has yet to explore when it comes to what it truly means to have, what I talk about in the book, what I call boundless energy.
So, number one is, no, I didn't always like this stuff. But, I gradually developed a love for it. And, I think my curiosity, my independent drive to learn, and the fact that I was a real geek just tended to fuel my drive to learn a lot of these things about how people can really feel good. And then, number two, I, after 20 years, realized my own mistake of just beating up the body and expecting it to bounce back and thinking that was true fitness. And then, finally, C, and this is where I'm really driving a lot of my platform, my teachings, what I really want to focus, probably, for the rest of my life on, is the fact that we can achieve all these things we've been talking about, Jay. You can sleep like a champ. And, you can have, if it's important to you, whatever, six-pack abs or veins in your abs, or be able to do a triathlon or an obstacle race or just rule a CrossFit box or anything else that might be important–to have a full head of hair, defy aging, lower wrinkles. How many close-to-billion-dollar industries have sprung up around us trying to optimize ourselves as human beings. And yet, at the end of the day, because I see this over and over again, not only in having experienced this myself, but having seen this in many of the wealthy and successful executives I coach and pro-athletes I've worked with and people who appear on the outside to be crushing it in life, at the end of the day, none of this is fulfilling. None of this is ultimately fulfilling.
I can literally pose on the cover of a magazine, whatever, with girls draped off of each arm, eating $100 steaks for dinner every night, and experiencing what many people would covet as an amazing life, but I got news for you. I'm not happy in that state. And, I've seen a lot of people also not be happy in that state because there is a yearning in our soul. There is a hole in our soul. There is this deep longing for some kind of fulfillment that, in my world, we throw fitness and a healthy diet and the way you look and the way you perform into–other people will throw cars, throw money, throw stocks, throw homes, throw experiences, throw anything else that seems like it might be that one thing that you finally discovered that's going to be the ultimate key to fulfillment. I'm finally about to cross the finish line of that Ironman triathlon. Oh, boy, life is going to be different after this. It's going to be different. I've done it. And, now, I can just be on cruise control the rest of my life because I've checked that fulfillment box. But, at the end of the day, none of that stuff is fulfilling because people came before me who have identified this, this isn't new information that I came up with myself, but there is this, as great writer and theologian, named Blaise Pascal, would describe it as, a God-shaped hole in our hearts, eternity in our hearts. And, the only thing that's going to fill an infinite abyss and eternal abyss, a God-shaped hole in your heart, is God, is some type of fulfillment that's everlasting, that's eternal.
And, once I realized that and realized, oh, my gosh, I could train my body all day long. But, even though physical training is a little bit beneficial, it's nothing compared to training for forever. It's nothing compared to gratitude, relationships, sharing with others, loving others, to volunteer, to service, to community, worship, to having something greater outside of you, and believing that a story is written for your life.
Now that I understand that all of these things I've learned, all these fun little biohacks that we talk about, at the end of the day, are interesting, but not going to make you ultimately happy–Well, now, if you have been doing those things and if you are taking care of your body and you do have a really good body and brain, you're biohacking and you're fit and you're healthy and you're eating well, when you put, not what I would call the icing on the cake or the cherry on the cupcake, but really, lay that on the core, on the foundation of a deeply meaningful spiritual life, then you're firing on all cylinders.
And so, I think that's what's really important for people to understand, is the wool socks and the Chilipad and the hyperbaric chamber, at the end of the day, what you should view those as is you should view those as a way to equip yourself to be more impactful with the purpose that you've been given in life, not as your source of happiness.
Jay: Ben, that was so powerful. And, the way you just shared that and the way you even talked about biohacking and mastering the body from the beginning of this interview, you can tell that it's to have these beautiful exchanges with your family, to have a meaningful dinner. And, when I hear you talk about these things, it resonates so deeply with me because what you just set up is exactly why we do need to do these things. Who wants to be at dinner with their family and have brain fog and have confusion and be stressed out and just be looking forward to bedtime or to be spending time with their partner but not having the energy to go on a beautiful walk or a hike or whatever it may be?
And, that's the challenge we're having that our health is negatively impacting our relationships. For those of us who are experiencing fatigue, for those of us who are experiencing bloating, for those of us who are experiencing inflammation, that's leading to stress and agitation in your relationships. You think that you're just not getting along.
Ben: It is. You cannot disentangle the body and the spirit. And, there are some people that have taken this to extremes. If you look at the Gnostics, a very popular religion about the same time that Christianity was rising in 50, 60, 70 A.D., they believed that all things fleshly and physical are evil and bad and that the only thing important was the spirit, and that marriage was bad, and that good food was bad, and anything that even remotely reeked of Epicureanism was bad, and one should be stoic but stoic to the nth degree.
And, the fact is that the body is sacred. Food is sacred. It's not just this physical-biological interaction with your taste buds. Sex is sacred. It's not just two bodies rubbing together in mutual masturbation. Fitness and even the movement of electrons for the body, in traditional Chinese medicine, they call that the chi, the life force, the prana, the energy. In Western medicine, we call it the mitochondria. But, it's the same thing. There's a deep spiritual aspect to that. And so, we are bodies with spirits. And, the body must be treated as a temple that is to house the spirit. And, the spirit must be treated as the one part of us that we care for the most because that's what's going to go on for eternity. And, that's what we really use our deep fuel and our fire every day.
And so, in an ideal scenario, when you wake up in the morning, in addition to impacting this world fully with whatever purpose you've been given with your life in a spirit of loving others, you should also be asking yourself, how can I equip both my body and my spirit today to be as impactful as possible? And, it's both and you can have both. You don't have to be, no offense, Jay, but whatever, a skinny yogi monk who can't hold up a heavyweight without their bones breaking. You also don't want to be an Adonis at the gym who just basically doesn't even know what a gratitude practice is or how to pray to God or anything like that. But, human beings, we are some of the most complex, if not the most complex creature, on the face of the planet. Maybe, a platypus or something might be up there, interesting. But, we have the ability to live our lives with this amazing body and an amazing spirit. And, in my opinion, there's no reason that you can't have both. And, man, when you get into that state of literally having your cake and eating it, too, on the highest level, life is amazing.
And, everybody, every single person listening in right now has the capability to get to that level, as long as they realize that most people around them have settled for status quo. And, if you realize that you actually can rise above and you can train your spirit and you can train your body and all of this is learnable, all of this is teachable, all of this is practicable, and habit-formationable, and I'm going to stop making up words now, but anybody has this within their power to be able to accomplish.
Jay: Well said. And, I feel the same way. For years, I focused extensively on the mind, I focused extensively on intention, I focused deeply on gratitude, service. And, that's where I spend most of my life because that's what I naturally gravitated towards. It's what my monk training was based on. It's what my heart was drawn to. And, everything you just shared, and I find myself now coming over to the other side and wanting to learn more about the body. And so, what you just said, it sits very closely with my heart because I grew up as someone who dive deep into the spirit and the mind and the heart and the soul, which has been the foundation of anything that I do today. But, I have come backwards almost, and I'm not saying it's backwards or forwards, I just think I've come to that realization that my spirit can only do as much as my body.
And, it's crazy because, as monks, the order of our priorities were meant to be health, [01:06:49]____, and service. And so, health is health as you're saying it, your physical, your body, your temple health. [01:06:56]____ is your daily practices of gratitude, intention, prayer. And then, sava or service is you then sharing that with the world. So, the pyramid was meant to be that, but some of us, including me, decided to skip that first one and do two and three.
And, the reason why speaking to you is so powerful and some of the things that I've started experimenting with and playing with, probably, in the last couple of years, have been totally that direction of I now want to understand my body so that I can serve better, so that I can serve for longer, so that I can have more deep, loving exchanges.
Ben: And, that's the goal. When you come out with love others, not how do I look in the mirror?
Jay: No, and that's why I never focused on it.
Ben: Or, how fast can I run. It's loving others. And, in the very same way that the best businesses are not necessarily built on a monetary goal, but are built upon a goal of how many people can we serve, how many people can we touch, how many lives can we affect, and the money will follow. For me, as a business person, I have to make a living. And, I'm a content producer, like you, a lot of my business is driven by me educating people. And, when I write an article or when I record a podcast or when I'm doing Instagram posts or whatever it is, I tell myself, my goal, even if there is a product, a solution that's offered here as part of this post or this podcast or this story that someone can go by, my goal is that someone finishes digesting this content, listening to this audio, reading this essay, looking at this post, and walks away a better person regardless of whether or not they actually purchased anything. They walk away, whatever, knowing more about the gut, knowing more about the hormones, knowing more about the brain, knowing more about gratitude, knowing more about whatever it is that I'm producing content about.
And, I'll tell you what. When I write in that way and I teach in that way and I produce content in that way, I don't have to worry about money. That just follows. And, honestly, it follows in a better way because you create a more hardcore audience that trust what you have to say because you actually care about them, and that's why you're getting out of bed in the morning.
And so, it should be the same way for yourself. When you go to the gym, and try this if you're listening in right now, if you go hit the gym tomorrow or you go out, or your basement and you're breathing hard and beating yourself up and doing your burpees or whatever the case may be, think about how you're equipping yourself to be impactful at work, to be present for your family, to have a lifespan and healthspan that enables you to be passing wisdom on to your great grandkids or your great, great grandkids, that level of motivation that you experience when you're doing things to love others or, arguably, also doing things to equip yourself to just be able to more fully savor this amazing planet that we are on, all of a sudden, man, compared to what's the [01:10:01]____ today, it's just a much, much more empowering way to training for health.
Jay: I couldn't agree more, Ben. I couldn't agree more. Tell me, before we get–We have final five questions at the interview. We're nearly at the end. I want to ask you, you very emphatically stated that anyone who's listening to this, anyone who's watching can do this, can have both. I'm with you. I agree with you. I'm aligned with you. Tell me about, when you said earlier you were saying, Jay, I still work with a few people on coaching, and you were sharing to me I should sleep between 63 and 65. That's going to be better for me than even 65 to 67. So much of this is habit change. You've created so many new habits in your life, experimented. For those of you who have not read “Boundless,” when you pick it up, what I love about the book is you break it down into tiny sections around explaining each part of the science, but then giving a practical thing that someone can do today. You have technology there if people want to adopt it. Habit change is a huge part of what you do. Where are people going wrong in their habit change? What have you seen through your extreme experimenting where habit changes actually worked for people?
Ben: I would say what comes to mind for me first when asked that question is a big, big part of it is relevance in understanding why you're doing something. When I was in high school, I really hated math and science. And, when I got to college, I just became a standout in math and science because I had a teacher first year of college who made math relevant by tying in a lot of wealth preservation and savings and investing components that made math super relevant to me. And so, at that point, I just developed this wonderful love for math and a habit of studying math because it was relevant that I knew why I was doing it. So, [01:11:50]____ for math and a habit of studying math because it was relevant and I knew why I was doing it. So, understand why you're doing something. I think that the importance of education, when it comes to habit formation, is very important.
Another one that I rely upon on a daily basis for either stopping habits or making habits is making something as accessible and convenient as possible. Meaning that I am probably, from a fitness standpoint, and a consistency of fitness standpoint, probably, just about as fit as I've ever been in terms of true health and some of those parameters we were talking about earlier because partially, I really haven't had to leave my house to go to the gym and was forced into that because of COVID. So, everything I need is–I got to step over kettlebell to walk into my gym. I got to walk underneath the pullup bar to go down the stairs in my house. I have to basically walk past a cold tub every day. And, there's just healthy food strewn all about the house. This idea of surrounding yourself and making everything convenient down to the point where if you're going to go for run in the morning, having your running shoes and your shorts right there beside the bed so there's very little cognitive resistance to starting. That would be a second thing that I found to be really useful, is making things convenient.
I think the last one is, for me, personally, and I don't know if this is the way for everybody, but I like, especially, when it comes to health habits, to be able to stack things. So, anytime that I'm getting healthy, I'm also making myself a better person. For example, I really rarely listen to music when I'm working out. I view my workout as also a chance for me to go to university. So, it's always podcasts, audiobooks. When the going gets really hard, there's actually some studies that have shown this to be a cool tactic. That's when the music goes on. When you need it the last minute, so you're saving your brain to get to the point where it really, really needs the music. And, it's not just used to the music at that point and can actually push past. I do the red light therapy and the grounding and the earthing mats and the essential oils and the special water repair device called a NanoVI on my desk. But, I don't go in there and just do all that stuff and have it be unproductive time. That's the time when I bang out my first 45 minutes of emails for the day.
So, I always figure out a way to make something more palatable in terms of tying that habit into something. I got out of the habit because I'm a big fan of reading scripture and reading the Bible every morning. And, I even found myself–and this happened a few months ago. I was sitting in the room with my Bible, I'm like, why am I just sitting here reading the Bible? Aren't there other things that I could be doing? And, you'd think they'd be distracting. But, now, I read my Bible while I'm sitting in a pulsed electromagnetic field chair with a BioCharger on. And, I'm still reading, but my body is getting better at the same time.
Jay: Totally. I love that.
Ben: So, I love to stack healthy habits. And, it's very rewarding when you stack them all and also figure out how to still be productive during the day. So, it's not like you're having to robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's like you're paying Paul and Peter at the same time. So, those are the top three things that come to mind.
Jay: I love that.
Ben: Educate yourself about why you're doing, what you're doing. Surround yourself with what you need to maintain positive habits while hiding the things that would cause you to form negative habits. And then, basically, stack habits and make the habit fun or meaningful or productive, so you don't feel like you're wasting time engaged in that habit.
Jay: I love that. Ben Greenfield, everyone. Ben, that is amazing. You need to come home for a part 2, but we can't wait this long as we waited to do a part 1.
Ben: Well, yeah, maybe, we can go to some other longevity hotspot. I don't know. Okinawa would be interesting.
Jay: Have you been there before?
Ben: And have sushi and purple potatoes. I've spent a lot of time in Japan. I used to race over there a lot. And, I've spoken over there a couple of times. But, absolutely, I love the food. Depending where I'm at, I like the culture. I would say probably one of my favorite places over there would be Kyoto, just great touring, great walks. I'm a fan of sushi.
Although, now, I know we're trying to wrap up, but I'll finish here. I've been making my own sushi. I found this service called Seatopia. And, they deliver sashimi-grade fish to my house every week.
Ben: And so, it's spoiled me. I literally take out my sushi knife, cut it in strips, put it in nori wrap with some sushi rice, some mustard, whatever I want to sprinkle on there. And so, my sons and I make pokey bowls and sushi all the time now. But, I do enjoy a good actual legitimate Japanese sushi restaurant occasionally.
Jay: Of course. Amazing, man. Well, Ben, we end every episode with our final five, which are our fast five.
Ben: You can go fast.
Jay: So, answers have to be one word to–
Ben: One word?
Jay: One word to 10 words maximum each answer.
Ben: Alright. And, words have dashes. That's the most important point.
Ben: So, the question number one is what is the worst health advice you've ever received?
Ben: It would probably be, and I won't have a whole lot of time to explain this too much, but it would be eat a post-workout meal.
Jay: We'll save that for part 2. Is that in “Boundless?” Do you talk about that in “Boundless?”
Ben: I talked a little bit about that in “Boundless.”
Jay: In “Boundless,” alright, great. Question number 2, what's the best health advice you've ever received, or given, or heard?
Ben: Get out in the sunlight more. Charge the battery.
Jay: I need to do that a lot more. I was talking to someone in my health life recently. And, they were like, because of the color of my skin, I have to really be out there.
Ben: So, I'm a sun-worshipper. I'm a sun-eater.
Jay: I love being out there, but I'm not out there enough even though because of my skin.
Ben: We have a giant battery in the sky, and barely any of us use it.
Jay: Love that. Alright, third question, what would you describe as your current purpose?
Ben: To read and write, learn and teach, sing and speak, compete and create in full presence, in selfless love, to the glory of God.
Jay: Beautiful. I love that. Alright, question number 4, what is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do before you go to bed?
Ben: I walk over to the sink and I scrape my tongue from the back to the front using a copper tongue scraping tool. Ayurvedic. At the very end of the day?
Ben: Very end, very, very last thing?
Jay: Very last thing, yeah.
Ben: I put my arm around my wife and I say a prayer with her in bed.
Jay: That's beautiful. I love that, man. Thank you for sharing that. That's amazing. That's great. My wife say Ayurvedic, [01:18:31]____.
Ben: So, you know what's coconut oil [01:18:32]____.
Jay: We do, yeah. My wife, that's how it works.
Ben: I love it.
Jay: Alright, fifth and final question, if you could create a law that everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be?
Ben: Every day, write down the name of one person who you are going to help. And then, you go help them on that day.
Ben: I actually do that every morning.
Jay: I love that.
Ben: It's super meaningful.
Jay: Thank you, Ben. Everyone who's been listening or watching, thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate all of you. Make sure you go and grab a copy of the book, “Boundless” and “Boundless Cookbook.” That's out as well. We'll put the links in all of our captions. Ben, thank you so much for doing this. There are countless parts of this episode that I'm going to use my own life. I'm going to go home and tell my wife straight away to switch us from 63 to 65. That's going to change. We're going to be getting a few more changes in our bedroom, I think, based on this episode.
Ben: Your bedroom's going to look like a nightclub now with all the red lights.
Jay: Yeah, I love it. So, thank you. And, everyone who's been listening or watching, make sure you tag me and Ben on Instagram to let us know what resonated with you, what stuck out to you, and what you're going to experiment with. That's my hope. My hope is that this episode gives you a whole new list of tools to experiment with and try out to see what works for you. And, of course, Ben's books are a great guide. They truly are a guidebook and a map into some of the depths of all of this. We've just scratched the surface. If you want a foolproof plan of how to practice this, the “Boundless” book is going to help you do that.
So, Ben, thank you for being here.
Ben: Thank you, Mr. Jay Shetty.
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I have a life that many people may covet.
But I've got (what may be shocking) news for you. I'm not necessarily doing exactly what I think I was meant to do for the rest of my life.
Now, that doesn't mean that I'm not grateful for the journey I've taken thus far. But what served me earlier in my career is no longer fulfilling. I have been beating up my body for 20 years in the name of “fitness,” but as I near my 40th birthday, I am looking to realize and share many redefined thoughts on optimal bodily and spiritual fitness.
Recently, I had the chance to discuss this shift—along with many other topics including longevity, my love for water, and habit change—with my friend Jay Shetty.
Jay Shetty is a highly influential content producer. He's the host of one of the top podcasts in the world, On Purpose with Jay Shetty, the New York Times bestselling author of the book Think Like A Monk, and a recipient of the Forbes “30 Under 30” recognition. Jay has taught more than 2 million students worldwide on success, habits, and purpose through his free online course Genius.
Jay Shetty has a fascinating story. At age 21, he heard a monk speak and it changed his life. For the next three years, he went back and forth regularly between working for a large financial organization and also living as a monk in India. At the end of that time, Jay chose the life of a monk, rising daily at 4 a.m., meditating for 4-8 hours, studying timeless wisdom, and serving local communities. When Jay did eventually leave his life as a monk, he found that he was able to take with him a changed perspective on gratitude, realizing that it boosted his immune system, his mood, and his quality of sleep. Mastering his mind helped Jay manage negativity and overcome overthinking in addition to promoting calm. Discipline gave him the means to make an impact, and meditation allowed Jay clarity, confidence, and focus. Jay says he owes everything to the lessons he learned as a monk.
The last time I hung out with Jay Shetty, we were eating incredible five-star Sardinian food at the transformational event Mindvalley University. I was sitting with the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, who is also an entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. Vishen introduced me to Jay and we hit it off right away.
Now, three years later, Jay Shetty and I met up on the other side of the world when I had a chance to swing by his place down in LA. We had a fantastic chat about physical, emotional, and mental presence, fitness, sleep, water, the disentanglement of bodily and spiritual fitness, and much more.
In this discussion with Jay Shetty, you'll discover:
-What Jay Shetty and Ben say when they catch up on time shared together, Blue Zones, and more…04:25
- Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
- Podcasts with Vishen Lakhiani:
-Ben's confession of his love for the water…12:15
- Woven into the DNA via family heritage
- Trauma, skills transferred via DNA
- Finis bone-conducting headphones
- Finis swimming goggles with in-screen display
- Aquatic Fitness training pool
- Cold thermogenesis for cellular resilience, longevity, etc.
- Morozko Forge
- Podcast with Jason Stauffer and Adrienne Jezick:
- Clearlight Sauna
-Sleep hygiene, light discipline, and mindfulness of circadian rhythms…18:05
- Sleep cycle begins in the morning
- Joovv infrared light panels to simulate sunrise
- Light box for computers and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
- Infrared sauna
- Turn rooms into light “cave” with red incandescent lights
- Dimmer switches on lights cause dirty EMF
- Simulate torchlight at night our ancestors may have known
- Iris blue light filter software
- Drift Box to remove blue light from tv screens
- iPhone red light trick
- RaOptics blue light blocking glasses
- HumanCharger (use code BEN2 to save 20%)
- Skin is affected by light as well as the eyes
- 63-64°F is an optimal temp for sleep
- Pull on wool socks when you go to bed
- Sleep Stream app
- Your bed should be a place where you're not in fight-or-flight mode (no laptops or business books)
- Television can replace dreaming
- Gravity blankets
-Making your bed a sanctuary and optimizing sleep…37:25
- Sleep researchers:
- Sleep 7-9 hrs per night (or within a 24-hr period)
- Post-lunch nap can simulate a full 90-minute sleep cycle
- NuCalm device and app
- Podcasts with Jim Poole of NuCalm:
- Hyperbaric chamber
- Lavender essential oil
- Apollo Neuro
- Lucy nicotine gum (use code BEN20 to save 20%)
-That time in the distant past that Ben didn't feel Boundless…47:35
- Education was centered on classical education (Latin, reading the classics, etc.)
- Tennis was the first exposure to physical activity, learning about the body
- Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield
- Boundless by Ben Greenfield
- “Healthy on the outside, dying on the inside”
- There's a yearning in our soul for something beyond earthly pleasure
- “God-shaped hole” in our hearts – Blaise Pascal
- Devices and biohacks are the means by which we better achieve our purpose in life
-How our health affects our quality of life, for better or worse…1:01:34
- The best businesses are built on making an impact, and the money will follow
- We often neglect physical health while pursuing spiritual or emotional health; we need all three in balance
- Know your motives for exercise; to love others rather than look or feel a certain way
-Where we go wrong when it comes to changing habits…1:10:08
- Understand why you're doing a particular thing
- Make things as accessible and convenient as possible
- Stack or multitask biohacks and other tasks whenever possible
-Jay Shetty's rapid-fire questions…1:16:42
- The worst health advice Ben has ever received
- The best health advice Ben has ever received or given
- Ben's current life purpose
- The first thing to do in the morning, and the last thing to do before bed
- What universal law Ben would ruthlessly enforce on humanity
-And much more!
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– Jay Shetty:
– Podcasts And Articles:
- My Favorite “Health Hack”, How To Get the Best Night Of Sleep Possible, And How I Took 17 Years Off My Biological Age, with Vishen Lakhiani.
- The Giant Cold Thermogenesis Episode: Everything You Need To Know About Ice Baths, Cold Therapy, How Cold, How Long & Much More With Morozko Forge Cold Bath Experts!
- The Best Biohack For Stress & Sleep (Simulates A Full Sleep Cycle In 20 Minutes While Blasting Away Stress & Giving You A Deep Meditative Experience), with Jim Poole.
- How To Simulate A Full Sleep Cycle In 20 Minutes, The Best Stress Biohack That Exists, Vagus Nerve Stimulation & Much More!
- Why Wild-Caught Fish Isn’t Necessarily Better, The Truth About Farmed Fish, How To Get Guilt-Free, Gourmet Seafood, Delicious DIY Sushi & Sashimi Recipes & Much More!
- Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain.
- Sabbath Ramblings: Who Am I?
– Other Resources:
- Finis Music Player With Bone Conducting Headphones
- Finis Swimming Goggles With In-Screen See Through Display
- Endless Pools Aquatic Fitness Pool
- Morozko Forge
- Clearlight Sauna
- Red Incandescent Lights
- JOOVV Infrared Light Panels
- Light Box
- RaOptics Blue Light Blocking Glasses
- HumanCharger (use code BEN2 to save 20%)
- Wool Socks
- Sleep Stream App
- Gravity Blanket
- NuCalm Device And App
- Hyperbaric Chamber
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Apollo Neuro
- Lucy Nicotine Gum (use code BEN20 to save 20%)
- iPhone Red Light Functionality
- Iris Blue Light Filter Software
- Sleep researchers:
–Kion: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science
–Organifi Gold Chocolate: This superfood hot chocolate is loaded with herbs, medicinal mushrooms & healing ingredients to help the body fight disease during sleep. Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code BENG20.
–Butcher Box: Delivers healthy 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork directly to your door on a monthly basis. All their products are humanely raised and NEVER given antibiotics or hormones
–Lucy Nicotine Gum: If you are looking for a cleaner and tastier alternative to other nicotine products, then this product is for you. The gum comes in three flavors – Wintergreen, Cinnamon, and Pomegranate – and the lozenges in cherry ice. To save 20% on any order, just use discount code BEN 20.