Tag: mindset

An Ayahuasca Experience: Why I Did It and What It Did For Me

If you are into biohacking, a follower of Tim Ferris or work in Silicon Valley, you may have heard of Ayahuasca. If not, you may be asking what the heck it is. A long time follower of Tim Ferris and an avid biohacker, I became interested in Ayahuasca years ago as a potential treatment for someone I knew that was suffering from anxiety and PTSD. It wasn’t until recently that I started seriously researching it as a potential treatment for me.

So, what is it? Ayahuasca is a type of plant medicine used in traditional ceremonies among the indigenous tribes of the Amazon region.  It is an entheogenic brew made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (Ayahuasca) and the Psychotria viridis leaf (Chacruna plant).  Chacruna contains DMT, a powerful hallucinogen, and the Ayahuasca vine contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These work in conjunction to produce a hallucinogenic experience that can last for several hours.

Studies have shown that Ayahuasca therapy may be effective in the treatment of PTSD, depression, addiction, and anxiety. This has led to increasing popularity and acceptance as an alternative form of therapy. The medicine works by breaking down the control that the prefrontal cortex has over parts of the brain, triggering vivid hallucinatory memories and emotions. By reliving traumatic memories and being aware of them within a safe, controlled environment, Ayahuasca allows the brain to reprocess and eliminate conditioned fear responses, commonly referred to as triggers.

Why did I want to do this?  For most of my life I have suffered from chronic PTSD, the result of being trapped in a basement with a house fire burning above me as a child. Add a handful of unpleasant experiences throughout my life and most recently a toxic, abusive marriage to that, and I was finding myself triggered in everyday situations – anxious, angry, and unable to get through some days  without crippling fear and anxiety. Those days were usually followed by horrific nightmares that I was unable to wake up from. Not fun. I tried various modalities of therapy to no avail, so I needed to do something different. I chose Ayahuasca because it is proving to be a faster and more effective  way to treat PTSD than traditional therapies.

Finding someone to administer and guide this was not easy. It took months of researching. When I finally got serious and was ready to commit to it, my healer kind of just appeared. They say you are called to do this and when you are really ready it just falls into place, which is exactly what happened for me. Two weeks later I was sitting in front of this man, ready to change my life. I chose to do multiple sessions, or ceremonies, in succession, as you can get deeper healing with each additional experience.

What was the experience like? Incredibly peaceful. After the initial set up, during which I was a bundle of nerves, I drank the medicine and laid down to wait. There was intense and beautiful music playing, and I quickly relaxed. My first night was all calm, healing energy and I felt more refreshed than I ever have the next morning.  There was some purging partway through (they don’t call this medicine La Purga for nothing) but it wasn’t violent or overly messy. My guide was well prepared and had it all under control.

The second night was filled with vibrant color and at times was almost like watching a movie that I was the star of. I was guided through some pleasant times and through painful experiences but without the deep emotion connected to them. There were a few interesting visions and some that were dark and difficult to face, but overall it was a beautiful, calming experience. While I made significant headway on the PTSD, other things also came up that I didn’t expect and were unaware had been the root of some present issues. The second night lasted significantly longer and I reached a greater level of insight and depth.

When I awoke from day two, all the negative emotion had been erased. It was no longer tied to the events.   I had an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. I felt physically refreshed, and like I had been emotionally reset.  I am now able to think about these experiences and take what I good I can from them. I am able to salvage some happy memories instead of the memories being overpowered by negative emotion because of who was present.  I am finally able to learn and grow from these same experiences that I couldn’t even think about prior to the Ayahuasca. I no longer react to some of my frequent triggers either. Time will tell on the rest of them as they are less frequent. And, unexpectedly, I also feel like some of my brain fog has cleared and I have better word recall.

It hasn’t been that long since the experience, but I haven’t had a nightmare since. I have noticed increased confidence and increased decision-making ability. I have also had multiple people tell me they can see and feel the difference in me.

I feel an immense amount of healing, and that I can finally move past all of the negativity. Truly past it, not just the kind of “past it” that happens with time.

My healer joked at the end that it is said that there is life before Ayahuasca and life after. So far, I like life after.  I feel rewired, reset. I am calm and at peace, finally.

This was a fantastic experience and I am ecstatic to have found a treatment that really worked instead of just masking the symptoms. This was truly life changing. Words cannot even convey the power of the experience and the depth of the healing that this brought on. For the sake of anyone suffering from emotional trauma, I hope this continues to gain acceptance as a form of treatment.

If you are considering this and would like more details about the experience (I know I wanted to talk to people who had actually done it before committing) you are welcome to reach out to me privately through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I am happy to share my experiences with you and help you reach the level of healing you seek.

🙏 💚

The Power of Mind Over Matter

I knew I was healing when I stopped hating weekends. I was the only person I knew that hated weekends. I hated that my spouse was home with nothing to occupy his time except me. I was supposed to entertain and if I didn’t do a good enough job there would be consequences. I dreaded that and as a result, I hated weekends.

Being in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship had left me with some side effects, and none of them positive. Living in constant fear of another person left me jumpy at home but also afraid to leave the house (more consequences). Although I starting forcing myself out immediately after leaving the relationship, months later I was still a home body that could now run the occasional errand.  After years of being screamed at for talking to anyone I was now learning to talk again, but it was a slow process because I had become so comfortable in my own head that I would go hours without speaking, even in social situations.

After years of control, explosive anger, unpredictable moods and unimaginable verbal abuse, I had escaped and was now trying to put my life and myself back together. A few months in it hit me that I hadn’t dreaded the past weekend. I had actually enjoyed it. This was my first clue that I was healing.

You see, I had been depressed but I didn’t know.  While that may sound unbelievable, it is the truth. Apparently others saw it, but I was oblivious. How was this even possible?

I am naturally a happy person. When my life abruptly changed and I found myself in an abusive situation (it happened suddenly and without any warning, almost immediately after getting married), I was still a happy, optimistic person. Years later, I had retreated into my own head, where I still had that same happy optimism. I had also accomplished a great deal in the year before I left, and as far as I knew, depressed people don’t do that.

During the years of living in the situation, I still felt happy and positive inside, but had retreated so far into my own head that I didn’t notice how I had changed outwardly. I didn’t even realize that I no longer left the house. In fact, I didn’t do anything at all, except work – and only work like writing or working on my website. I didn’t see my friends. I didn’t listen to music or watch movies. I didn’t wear any color anymore. Heck, I didn’t even wear actual clothes anymore. I lived in gray sweatshirts and black yoga pants. Dressing up was putting boots and a sweater with the yoga pants. Toward the end I didn’t even exercise out anymore and had put on weight.

I finally escaped and was not living in that toxicity. However, it wasn’t until a few months later when I started to heal that I realized that I had been depressed and had no idea.

How had I been depressed for so long and not even known? I think it is because I biohacked my way out of feeling it.  I hacked low energy with Bulletproof Coffee and workouts. I hacked overall pain with workouts and sauna.  Most importantly, I hacked my brain. I have covered what I did in both my book and this blog, so I don’t want to bore you by covering it again, but I do want to touch on it.

My brain hacking recipe was this: meditation, sauna, BDNF, brain games and personal development.

Meditation calms an overactive mind. As your breath and mind work together, your brain waves slow down and your breath lengthens. This calms the body and gives you a relaxed feeling – even when surrounded by chaos. It became something I did regularly and almost without thought. I got to a point that I was being screamed at while I was sitting there meditating and calm.

Infrared sauna helps with cellular regeneration. Clearing out the toxins the body created by stress was exactly what I needed. I went twice a week for 30 minutes, and for added bonus, I meditated in the sauna. I would go in a ball of stress and come out relaxed and clear of body and mind.

BDNF is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that controls memory and cognitive function. You can take steps to increase your BDNF, which decreases as we age. I believe that increasing my BDNF allowed me to function under extreme stress. When I would have otherwise been an unfocused mess, I was able to perform at a higher level cognitively because I learned how to increase this.

Brain games (like Lumosity, soduku, etc.) sharpen your focus. Depression and stress decrease your focus. Through brain games I was able to increase my focus, even during this toxic period. I also learned to tune out chaos by playing games in noisy situations, like on a bus or in a crowded coffee-house.

Personal development is different for everyone, but for me, I focused on strengthening my mind, my sense of who I am as a person, and my confidence. I read, listened to podcasts while driving, and surrounded myself online with positive, affirming people. I journaled to keep focused on future goals and what I was grateful for each day. I am now very stable emotionally and have developed an unwavering sense of self. It seems like the toxicity that was my every day was allowing me to grow in ways I wouldn’t  have otherwise. I gained  self-control. I now respond rather than react when challenged. When my integrity is questioned, I no longer question myself. I can now look objectively at my own behavior and change behavior I don’t like without feeling like less of a person.

All of these factors led to me living in a chaotic, stressful environment and being in a depressed state without being aware of it. To me, this is testament to what cane be accomplished with biohacking, and a testament to the power of the mind. We have the ability to control our own experience much more than we realize.

Please do not misunderstand me – I am not saying that everyone with depression can biohack it. I am saying I think that is why I didn’t realize I had a problem. However, my depression was caused by the perceived hopelessness of the situation I was in, and not something chemical. I am also not suggesting that anyone in an abusive situation retreat into their own head and biohack how they feel. Safety and sanity are the goals, and getting out of the situation is the way to achieve that. However, or the average person who experiences normal mood swings and minor depressive incidents, maybe biohacking can be part of the solution.

I get better and better as I get farther and farther removed from the situation. I feel very fortunate that depression did not get the best of me. I am hopeful that I can find a way to help others through situations like this at some point. For now, I hope this helps you understand what you can accomplish through biohacking. Regardless of where you are on your journey, keep experimenting and trying new things. You won’t know what works until it works and when it does, it can be amazing.

 

 

 

 

Dealing With Chronic Pain or Illness

There is more to chronic pain and chronic illness than just how the illness makes you feel physically.  There is an enormous mental component to it as well.  You are suddenly forced to accept that your life has changed drastically in a negative way and by something you have no control over. That takes a toll.

When my endocrine issue began, I was so focused on how to hack the problem that I don’t think it ever really set in that this could be permanent. Also, it’s an annoyance, but something I am relatively easily able to handle. I was more frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t get help from traditional medicine than anything else.

That is not the case for most people who have a chronic condition. The reality for someone learning they have a chronic illness is that their life changes instantly and completely. Not only are they dealing with a physical condition, but it suddenly becomes about doctor visits, days stuck inside because of pain, family that say they want to help but are busy with their own lives, friends that disappear because they don’t want to make accommodations or just can’t deal with a sick person, health insurance not allowing the treatments you need, and the often insurmountable cost of medical treatment. Life changes, but not in a positive way.

This can be often be worse than dealing the illness itself.

It is easy to say that if you are dealing with a chronic condition, seek therapy to assist with coping.  However, that doesn’t help much when you are laying on a sofa alone, watching everyone you know out enjoying themselves on social media. No matter how many coping skills the therapist gives you, you still know you are missing out.  You feel so alone and isolated. If you are a parent or loved one trying to help someone through this, it’s very hard to watch this play out.  Chances are that no matter what you try to do to help, it will be little more than a short distraction. In this article at themighty.com, the author outlines things that come with chronic illness that you don’t realize – things like sleeplessness, having to ask others to do too much for you, and the need to give up hobbies you love.

When faced with a chronic condition, some will rise up and fight it. Others will retreat and wallow in self-pity. Sometimes the choice to do either isn’t even a choice, it’s just what you have to do. I am continually amazed by the determination and resolve I see from those who face their condition head on and fight it with everything they have (check out @marcusaureliusanderson and @im_taylor_on Instagram; they will inspire you). There are countless people who can barely face a Monday, yet these people soldier on the face of adversities most of us can only imagine.

And while a chronic illness isn’t a death sentence, it is a life sentence that can mean the death of certain things. My daughter was starting to record her first EP when struck with an inflammatory bowel disease (as of the time of writing this we are still waiting on further testing to determine which type). It made singing too painful for to keep going, and for her could mean the loss of her hobby and potential career.  Not wanting to accept that, she hid her symptoms at first, afraid that everyone would be upset that she couldn’t go on and out of fear of being too needy. (Of course when she finally told me I felt awful for pushing her through what I thought was just teenage laziness. Parent guilt is fun too.)

If you are dealing with a chronic condition, find kindred spirits. I found mine online and in targeted groups. It can be extremely helpful to find others who are dealing with your condition, and learn how they handle it.  It is inspiring and gives hope to find people who lead relatively normal lives. You may end up with new friends that “get” you, when all your friends no longer do. There is immense power and comfort in community.

As we embark on this life changing process for my daughter, I am learning about conditions that I had no idea existed and that people I know are living with them – people who I had no idea were suffering. I cannot imagine having to deal with some of the issues I am learning about, and sadly, I wonder how often I have been less than compassionate because I did not know.  I am a very driven, no excuses, get up and do it kind of person, and I fear that I have been intolerant at times with others that aren’t like that, possibly because they can’t be. I can already see a more compassionate being emerging. Hopefully this post will inspire the same in you. Try this – post something on social media to see who is dealing with a chronic condition and watch the responses you get. I bet it will surprise you. It surprised me.

Let me know what happens in the comments or on social media. Together let’s make this a better place for chronic sufferers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Beat Brain Fog

Do you ever find yourself in a room with no idea why you were there? Waking up sluggish? Drinking a third cup of coffee and still not feeling like the brain has turned on? That has been me the last few weeks. I have been experiencing some serious brain fog and even though I am certain it is because I am juggling multiple things right now, I need to take control.

If you are not familiar with the term brain fog, it is loss of focus, inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and memory issues. It’s that feeling you have when your brain is “tired” but not at a time that it should be.

Some of the main things that can cause brain fog are stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes. diet, medications, and medical conditions. I am going to stay away from the latter two, as these are things you should be discussing with your doctor. Aging is another one, which is considered a medical condition, but I will touch on that today.

Chronic stress is a biggie. Not only does it wreak havoc on your brain, but it can cause a number of issues affecting the entire body.  It can also lead to lack of sleep and cause hormonal changes – both of which increase brain fog.

Diet is one of the main factors of brain fog. Allergies, food sensitivities, an overload of carbohydrates or sugar can all trigger that foggy feeling.  Vitamin deficiencies, specifically B-12, will give you brain fog as well. And, unfortunately, if you are past the age of 40, you know all too well that you are just not the same cognitively anymore. Years of stress and dietary miscalculations create the perfect recipe for brain fog.

So what can we do? Fortunately there are several things.

Hands down my favorite, Bulletproof Coffee is one. Your brain needs fat to function optimally, and the combination of grass-fed butter and MCT oil give it exactly what it needs. The caffeine gives you a little boost and gets the neurons firing on all cylinders as well. If you want to skip the caffeine, you can make a sugar-free bulletproof hot cocoa with water, a scoop of cacao, grass fed butter, MCT oil and stevia. (I have a recipe if you want it). It also works well with tea. Fat bombs are also a great way to give your brain a quick hit of the fat it needs.

Another way to quickly banish the fog is with B-12. If you are not able or willing to have B-12 shots on hand, you can get a liquid that goes under the tongue. It isn’t quite as effective, but you will still notice the effect. You will feel the fog melt away pretty quickly with this. You can get B-12 injections over the counter in some countries, but in the USA it is prescription only. You can also get them at the local med spa. Liquids are available online and in most health food stores. Quality is key, and remember that you get what you pay for.  I don’t recommend relying on multi-vitamins for B-12, as you don’t absorb much of what is in them. The exception is a live vitamin like Sport Formula.

If you have read anything I have posted, you probably know what is coming next… exercise. Get up from your desk. Take a walk. Run the stairs a few times. Even doing  some stretching at your desk can help stave off that feeling. A morning workout can rid yourself of brain fog for the entire day, and an after work session will banish the stress and anxiety that builds during the day.

And of course, get some sleep. If sleep doesn’t come easily to you, check my bog post on sleep. My current favorite is California Poppy Seed Extract, followed by Brandon Burchard’s Release Meditation. This combination has finally allowed me to stop falling asleep to old television shows and sleep in the dark like a normal human.

As I wrote this I literally took my own advice. It is too late for coffee so I chose a B-12 shot and a fat bomb. Feeling better already!

 

My Favorite Productivity Hack

OK, no judging…I am sharing my favorite productivity hack with you because I love you and want the best for you. Even if it means sharing something I am slightly ashamed of!

 

 

For more productivity hacks, check out the podcast from BioTrust Radio,

titled 7 Steps to Be More Productive:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/biotrust-radio/id1307215363?mt=2&i=1000417452066

Don’t Skimp on Sleep, No Matter What Your Mentor Says!

I am exhausted today and cannot think straight. I wanted to write a post about good supplements vs. bad ones, but I can’t seem to organize my thoughts. Why am I telling you this? Because sleep is important, and if you are burning the candle at both ends, you are shortchanging yourself!

It is very common for entrepreneurs to be sleep deprived. We work in the business during work hours doing the work itself, and at night, we work on the business. However, it is important to remember to take care of yourself because you are not at your best during the day when you are sleep deprived. You can’t think as quickly, you can’t focus, and you can’t multitask. If you can’t be focused or unfocused at the same time, you have a problem!

You are physically slower when you are tired. You are weaker and less likely to work out. Plus, you look awful. And who wants to do business with someone who looks like the walking dead? You are less efficient, and you can’t remember anything. You snack on sugary foods to stay awake and pour in the coffee with an IV.

If sleep doesn’t come easy to you, there are a few things you can try. A good evening routine will wind down your mind so when you hit the pillow, you are already relaxed and primed for sleep. Turn off your TV and phone, try some chamomile or reishi elixir ( I hear this one is awesome but I haven’t tried it yet), and read a book.  To calm the monkey mind and fall asleep quickly, I like California Poppy Seed extract (click here for the one I use). Trying to go to bed a regular time can also help you fall asleep faster.

A cool, dark room is the ideal environment, so try room darkening shades or a sleep mask. A recent study published in ScienceDaily.com links the small amounts of light at night to sleep interruptions, which can increase insulin resistance. I am experimenting with a sleep mask, and have noticed an increase in quality of sleep when using it. (Its too early to comment on the effects on insulin resistance.)

Sometimes you cannot help the disturbances,  like when your neighbor decides to light fireworks off in the middle of the night. However, keeping pets out of the bed and getting kids on a schedule will help with that too.

You owe it to yourself to get some zzzzz’s. You will be a better person and a better worker for it. So hit the sack, and don;t feel guilty about it!

As for me, I need some more coffee today…

PROMO ALERT!!

Free Kindle downloads this weekend in honor of the audio book release!  You can also get the audio book for free here.

Click on the link under Get the Book to grab your free copy starting tomorrow.

Happy reading!

A Must Listen To Podcast Episode

Short post today because I want to say only one thing:

You must listen to this podcast.

If you are: keto, thinking about keto, curious about keto, just getting into biohacking, have any health issues you want to find a way to get rid of, looking for a way to increase energy, looking for a way to lose weight, want to erase brain fog, want to improve your memory, or human in any way, you MUST listen to this podcast. 

This episode is from BioTrust Radio and it features Shawn Wells (my biohacking mentor, formulator of most of the supplements I use and founder of Zone Halo Research – you can find him on Instagram @zonehalo, or on his website). It is called The ABCs of the Keto Diet: Avocados, Bacon, Coconut oil, and beyond!  You can find it on iTunes as well as here.

I am fired up about this episode because not only is it everything keto, it goes into so much more that we are all struggling with. It may be a long episode (just short of 2 hours) but it is worth every second. Play it in the car while stuck in traffic if you have to, just get through it. It is jam packed with great information. Shawn Wells is a wealth of information and we are fortunate that he shares it with us…and for free! You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take advantage.

So, happy listening! Hope you find something useful.

Favorite Biohack #9 – External Testosterone Cream

Another disclosure on this one:  Consult your physician before using this.  This is my experience based on my particular situation and it may be different for you.

Back when I was trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me, I had a full panel of lab work done and in doing so, discovered that I was not producing anywhere near the acceptable level of testosterone.  Because my health insurer decided I didn’t need the prescribed medication regardless of what my doctor said, I turned to biohacking.

Enter testosterone cream. I tried a few before settling on the one I use now (click here for the details) from BioLabs Pro. I like this one because its not greasy and absorbs well, so it easily fits into my post-shower ritual.

I noticed a huge difference in my attitude using this. For example, I stopped crying over EVERYTHING, which was really annoying. I gained my normal edge back, and a little more bravado as well.  (I did manipulate this when I discovered I don’t like going over obstacles during Spartan training. A little more cream and over I went with no problem. I don’t condone this, fyi. It worked, but probably not the best idea I have ever had.)  I would like to say I put on more muscle using this, but it could also be from increased weight training. I would also like to say I was leaner (before getting sick) but that may also have been due to the increase in workout intensity.

You will deal with some acne while adjusting to this, as it is a hormone, but it went away after a few months. The annoyance factor of that was offset by my skin healing faster.  I also noticed a need for stronger deodorant. That did not go away. Be prepared!

There are also some nasty side effects to testosterone supplementation, such as an increased risk of cancer. and some lesser ones like increased hair growth,  changes in sleep and appetite, and headaches. (For the full list from the Mayo Clinic, click here.) Definitely get your lab work done before taking this on because if you don’t need it, it may not be worth the risks.

Small annoyances aside, I feel better overall when I use this cream. I simply function better.  To me, it is worth trying just for that.

*image from BioLabs Pro site