Deep dive conversations that celebrate self-experimentation and ask what it means to cultivate embodied wisdom.
Speaker A [00:00:06]:
Come on. Come on.
Speaker B [00:00:09]:
That's so great.
Speaker A [00:00:10]:
Unbelievable. How is that even possible?
Speaker B [00:00:13]:
Like, perfect timing.
Speaker A [00:00:15]:
I didn't even touch the table. That's just incredible. Heaven's sakes. All right.
Speaker B [00:00:24]:
It's going to be a thing.
Speaker A [00:00:24]:
That that was delightful. Okay, here we go. Maybe this, maybe this something. I don't know. All right, that's atrocious. One more second. Let me give us one more shot. Hold on, hold on. Trust me, I am also a person. I see what's happening. Truly horrific. I feel like this is all done to sabotage me somehow.
Speaker B [00:00:56]:
It's part of the great cosmic joke.
Speaker A [00:00:59]:
I know. Can you imagine? Somehow your clap managed to ring through a time zone. How is that even possible?
Speaker B [00:01:13]:
It was a quantum clap.
Speaker A [00:01:14]:
It was a quantum clap. That's like a superpower. Truly. All right. This fuck, I don't even know.
Speaker B [00:01:27]:
Speaker A [00:01:28]:
Great. Right, moving on. Fantastic. Love it. Every part of it. Welcome.
Speaker B [00:01:45]:
To the Curious Humans podcast. Michael, how are you feeling in this moment? In three words.
Speaker A [00:01:54]:
Energized excited, optimistic.
Speaker B [00:02:01]:
Speaker A [00:02:03]:
Optimistic. Question mark.
Speaker B [00:02:06]:
Well, I'm really excited to have you here, and based on the conversation we had before, I just hit record. I think this is going to be a friggin phenomenal conversation. But before we get into all that good stuff, I like to begin this conversation by asking, were you exceptionally curious as a child? And if so, do you remember a story about something you were curious about?
Speaker A [00:02:31]:
Categorically. Yes. That has been my downfall. This is so fantastically. Freudian. The first thing that popped to mind. Just in the interest of being transparent, I will tell you, my mother was a clinical neuropsych PhD. I was born in Russia. This is the Soviet era. And the first this is so embarrassing. My credibility is just going to go out the window, but I'm going to commit to it anyway. She tells a story about how when I was, whatever, like, 18 months, being potty trained in the beautiful city of St. Petersburg, she walked in. I had just had my baby poop smeared all over the bathroom. So curious. Yeah. I'm sure from a very young age, just trouble via curiosity. Yeah. To maybe paint a slightly less absurd picture, we discovered psychedelics very early. To just jump right into what I think we'll be talking about here in a second. Yeah, very early. I grew up in a very unusual household. I referenced my mom a lot, to be honest, because she has somehow managed to be accidentally on the forefront of everything, honestly, everything, when it came to health and wellness. And she was in the Soviet Union. She was getting her clinical neuropsych PhD, which is such a big deal back then. It was much more exciting than medicine because it was this era of blending new neurology with sort of theoretical psychology, psychiatry. So she worked at the Pavlov Institute, and so she had this background. So I grew up in that environment, but then there were always books of, like, the vedas were thrown around. There was, like, Jung all over the place. There was yoga books all over the place, which, it turns out, I learned later, life is not what the traditional household looks like. I grew up with all this other kind of stuff to where all these things that now, 40 years later, our patients or friends or people come to me and say, you're not going to believe it. I went and I took a mushroom trip. Yeah. You're 30 years behind the curve. Good for you. Fantastic. I love it. So, yeah, shockingly curious. And I've studied in a lot of different domains. I was a history guy originally in university and then went into medicine and then did PhD work in mental health. And we've done so many wonderful things kind of all over the place. Yeah. The curiosity for me is probably the most important, most interesting thing about being a person. To be honest. For me, like, that intellectual thing is just like, 100% of everything.
Speaker B [00:05:36]:
Yeah. So I'm curious about the oh.
Speaker A [00:05:46]:
Speaker B [00:05:49]:
You froze for a moment, but you are back now, so I'm going to proceed as normal.
Speaker A [00:05:53]:
Speaker B [00:05:54]:
Yeah, internet is good. Thank you for that. So I'm really curious about your journey to what you're doing today. What was it that drew you about history, and then how did you make the transition from being the history guy into mental health? PhD, like neuroscience land.
Speaker A [00:06:17]:
I I had a mentor. I grew up an only child. I grew up an only child. I have a sister who came along 19 years later who is a wonderful, special, angelic little MD who just graduated medical school a year ago. She's magical. But for 19 years, I was solo. And so I had a friend of mine in high school who's a couple of years older than me, who I admired so, so deeply, and he was this sort of older brother figure for me. And I went off to college, and in picking my major, I consulted him, and he was at Berkeley. And we all kind of grew up slightly radicalized on the west side of Los Angeles. West side in Santa Monica, a bunch of lefties. It was a little different then. It wasn't the sort of super rich, glamorous tech hub that it is now, where everything was shockingly unaffordable. It was still very much a melting pot. So there's a lot of immigrants. There was a lot of low income there's. High income. It was an incredible experience, truly, to have spent to have gone to high school there. And I called him up and I said, what are you doing? Because, well, I'm a history guy. And I said, well, maybe that's what I'll do. He said, yeah, you should do it. And it really fit in with my ethos then and to be frank, my ethos now, which is I have a real I don't know. Are we allowed to say these things? I have a real sort of Marxist orientation, and I can qualify. Have to. I'm going to have to. Now, what have I done?
Speaker B [00:07:56]:
All these listeners out there like, okay.
Speaker A [00:07:58]:
I'm going to stop listening now what have no, no. He was just a historian. No one gets mad about Schopenhauer. No one gets mad about Schopenhauer. Honestly, he writes, know, two books with a couple ideas and just people. Now, it's wild. It's wild. Anyway, history for me, satisfied that curiosity. Itch so much, and I dove into it really hard, and I studied across the spectrum. I studied Asian history, Latin American history. I studied European history, modern, ancient. I took enough coursework to have completed over two degrees worth of history, which maybe that speaks to the fact that I should have done other things, but history is everything. It's just everything that happened up until this very second. So it's all historical. So I did political history, economic history. I did social history, so all these things across various domains, and, man, you can answer a lot of questions if you just dive into the stacks. I spent a lot of time in the libraries just reading and reading and reading and reading, and that's what that was, and that served as an interesting foundation. I never thought I'd go into anything medical. I thought I would go into international finance, if you can believe that. If you're an immigrant, I think that there are two itches you want to scratch, and they're usually independent of each other in a lot of ways. You want to come from a poor place and be rich in America, or that you take kind of these intellectual curiosities, and you become an academic, and I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was torn in both ways. I left undergrad, and I went back to Russia. I worked in a little venture capital, private equity setup, very briefly. It's very exciting. It's when Soviet time was transitioning over to Russian time, which meant that all these technologies that were formerly government stuff were now in private hands. So you can imagine, incredibly. Really, really cool. Really cool. I left and moved to the Bay. San Francisco Barrier. I worked for Elon. I worked for Elon's first company before PayPal, which dates me quite a bit, but I was his sales guy for all of San Francisco. It was a very poor match. Not me and him, to be honest. I met him once for a split second. I knew his brother and all this stuff, coincidentally. How do I know Boulder?
Speaker B [00:10:47]:
I was at his hair, right?
Speaker A [00:10:48]:
I think that's right.
Speaker B [00:10:49]:
On a ranch here.
Speaker A [00:10:50]:
Yeah, that's right. Kimball. So Kimball's right hand man, who also lives in Boulder, I hadn't seen for 20 years, and I showed up at an event in Boulder maybe, I don't know, five, six years ago, maybe even, I don't know. COVID time, say seven years ago, I don't know. And I met him in this conference, and I saw him on a Friday. I said, I know you. I know you. And we went through the whole thing, and he was very patient until he stopped being very patient, because I literally ran through every single possible permutation of how do I know you game? And then Sunday, after he sort of know, left me alone for two days, a weirdo that wouldn't stop stalking him, he comes up to me on Sunday evening. We're at kind of the final mixer thing, and he says, Michael Yang? I said yeah. He's like, zip two. I said, yes, and he turned out he was my direct manager supervisor. It was the Musk Boys, him and then me. I was the head of sales, and he was the guy that was seeing over that. I don't remember anybody's title at that point. I don't know. I was literally 22. Talk about, like, woefully unprepared for such a high powered position. And we connected. And so that was like my whole Elon Kimball, Boulder, blah, blah, blah thing. It's just this wonderful coincidence. And to which I said, I told you I knew you. I told you, I told you. And then we just had a really good laugh, and it was wild. There was no reason it should have happened, and 20 years later, it happened. I can be prone to tangents. That's great.
Speaker B [00:12:34]:
That would be an alternative name for this podcast, is, like, curious tangents. I think that happens a lot. But to bring us on track briefly, how did you transition into exploring the mind mental health? Like, these things? What was the link there?
Speaker A [00:12:49]:
I ended up leaving the Bay Area. I moved back to Los Angeles. I wanted to get an MBA. I thought that was the way forward. I ended up getting stuck here. I ended up at my mother's clinic, which I grew up in, not liking because it was weird, and I was a kid, and we were Russians, and there's the Cold War, and you want to just fit in and be hot dogs in baseball and thinking none of that. None of that at all. And then I changed. I saw that her patients loved her, and they would bring her baked goods, and this all made sense, and I was like, you know what? Maybe let me give this a whirl. And so that was my transition. And then kind of one thing led to another, and 20 years later, here we are, and I run our clinic. What was her clinic is not my clinic. It's a multispecialty group. We do predominantly mental health, pain management stuff, functional stuff, a lot of that. So what has now become very common, and I would even say over the last maybe even just two or three years thank you very much. Instagram. We have been plying for 20 years, which by the way is no small point of frustration. Here we go. Brief tangent. I'll keep it short. My God, is it frustrating to see the pace at which medicine develops. The things that we were talking about 20 years ago and getting looked at like we had a third eye growing out of our third eye, as it were. Now, fish oil. I'm not talking about weird stuff. I'm talking about fish oil. Literally, fish oil. Guys like, listen, cardiovascular health fish oil. I said that's stupid. And then now it's prescription strength, and you can get it covered on your insurance. And I said, Where were you guys? And what the frustrating part is, is that they will now look at you and act like they own it. And I'm like, well, of course I said no. I was at a barbecue with you. Not of course. Needless to say, I understand the necessity for slow methodical development, safety. I'm not immune to any of that. That would be insane. But on a personal note, I think we all just want the best for people in general, and we wish that things would go at a faster pace sometimes.
Speaker B [00:15:13]:
Yeah, no, that's beautiful. So before we hit record, you made a statement that really caught my attention, and the statement was, we have solved mental health care in a meaningful way. And I think that is a superb kind of jumping off point to a whole barrage of questions that I have. But for listeners, can you unpack that? What do you mean by we've solved mental health care in a meaningful way?
Speaker A [00:15:44]:
I will do my best to defend that statement. I think that we have solved mental health care for a certain segment of the population. I know what that sounds like. I understand the gravity of what that statement is, and I hope I'm right. I feel like we're in the very early stages of it. But what I also mentioned to you, and this for me, is so exciting, truly not in the way oh, this is so exciting. Not in the way that a ride in a new car is exciting. Exciting in the way that a new.
Speaker B [00:16:21]:
Epoch of history is exciting in the.
Speaker A [00:16:24]:
Way that we use the word awesome to describe a tidal wave. Not like a hot dog. That's delicious. This hot dog is awesome. No, a tsunami is awesome. Right? Supernovae are awesome. That we run academy in practice as a part of what we do at the clinic. And it is now my focus and very happily my focus, and it is the culmination, I believe, of my entire curiosity journey. Can we say that? Does that make sense? Because I was going to say academic or professional, but it's everything. I feel like from soup to nuts, everything is funneling into this one thing.
Speaker B [00:17:09]:
Since the day you were smearing shit.
Speaker A [00:17:11]:
On the wall of your since the very first day it's all culminated in this. And I think that's important because what does it mean to change our minds? It's a massive endeavor because we are geared culturally, biologically, physiologically. Is that redundant? I don't know. You know what I mean? We're geared to not change, I would say. And if we do it's slow. It's evolutionary. I don't want to get bogged down and get a bunch of weird people saying well you didn't use that word correctly. Just kind of allow me to not be hyper technical to say that. How many people do you know that have been in therapy for 20 years and are still that same guy? Let me ask you that question. For me the answer is a lot. Yeah, a lot.
Speaker B [00:18:07]:
It's definitely pretty common.
Speaker A [00:18:09]:
Why? What is it? Well they're not changing. Okay? So certainly that tells us that tons of time and tons of resources aren't sufficient in many cases to make meaningful change. And I'll get pushback saying well you know what? Maybe we've maxed out that person's capability anhedonia dopamine receptors, blah blah, blah, whatever. I don't buy it. I don't buy it. I believe that change is possible. I believe that meaningful, substantial change is possible. I think that you just need a lot of time and commitment. And like I said before, I don't mean commitment like bootstrap. It's on you. If you fail, you're a bad person. No, that's insane. It takes a village. In a literal sense, I'm sure we agree on this is that the community and lack of community is such a critical piece of why we are where we are. We can do marks here. I mean here's an interesting sort of historical snapshot, right? It's that alienation component of the way that we are.
Speaker B [00:19:09]:
Speaker A [00:19:11]:
I really shy away from the word capitalism. It's just too triggering at this point. When I was younger it wasn't it was just a word to describe the current state of economic affairs. Now it's become something much bigger. So I say in our current socioeconomic environmental climate we in many ways seem to struggle with a community element that seems very much built into the grain of who we are. And I'll land the plane. I promise you I'll land the plane. Hold on, I'll get there. The picture is just broad, right? The picture is vast and that's why it doesn't hold up well to 140 characters, right? We have to be able to take in the whole picture and what have we done? We have taken the springboard of psychedelics. What that means in terms of making the brain squishy. That's a word I use all the time and dislodging. If we look at it, if we look at personality from a memory structure standpoint, right? Ever since Freud before Freud. Frankly. But let's just back it up to 100 years. Go to Freud 150 years and say that the memories that form the basis of who we are are hard to dislodge. We can talk about it and talk about it and talk about it, and we will struggle to make significant changes to dislodge those memories. It's very tricky to solve a feely problem with a talkie solution, right? So we get into phenomenology experience. The ineffable, right? Patients will come out and I can happily admit this, I will go to bat and say that if you're prescribing, as any kind of clinician, if you're prescribing ketamine or psychedelics and you've never done them, I don't know what we're doing. I don't know what we're doing. The number of times I've heard this from different therapists, whatever. Oh, yeah, sure, I can talk about this with a pay. I said, what is there to talk about? They have touched the face of God and you have not. It's like a virgin talking about sex.
Speaker B [00:21:28]:
That's going to be the title of this podcast. I love that.
Speaker A [00:21:32]:
Well, I'll tell you what my next book is called. It's called scared and horny. I swear to God. Listen, if that doesn't encapsulate the entire human experience, I don't know what it does. You tell me. Is Scared and Horny not basically like the through line for everything. So it's an ineffable experience because we need that to dislodge the things that hold us back. I'll tell patients all the time, very much jokingly, obviously, they come in and they don't feel good, they're depressed. And I'll qualify to say this is not a suicidal level depressed patient. Of course, this would be a crazy thing to say, but give me a little bit of lane to say that if somebody comes in, they're feeling sad about that. They're feeling kind of sad. And I say, if I put a gram of cocaine in your nose right now, will you feel sad for the next 40 minutes? No. Just no? Categorically no. Okay, well, then, what does that mean? If you come in here with a diabetic ulcer and I gave you a gram of cocaine, do you still have a diabetic ulcer? Yes, absolutely. So what does that tell us about the nature of the thing? I think it's very curious and can we dislodge temporarily or again, make squishy some of these notions and then go in there aggressively, by which I mean lovingly but persistently aggressive in that, right? In terms of quantity, can we give somebody something to think about and ruminate on in a way that will change their mind, like we said at the beginning? Right? One of the elements of Zen meditation is the koan, a poem, a story. It makes sense. It doesn't make sense. It makes sense at first and it doesn't make sense, but that's not the point. The point is you give the brain something to fixate on, fixate on. And it just choose and choose and choose and choose and choose. And it's not about the sound of one hand clapping. What does that resolve? Literally nothing. But that focus is the thing that can transform in a way that I don't understand. I think this is the thing that neuroscience is trying to crack, right? That circuitry, the default mode network, blah, blah, blah. We throw all these words around. I don't know. We're not there yet. Boy, is it interesting. And absolutely over my pay grade at this point. It's hard to keep up with anything that's happening. But the Vedas talked about it 3000 years ago. The hierarchy of consciousness, right? We exist up until the point from sensory to interpretation of the sensory to the egoic levels. And yet we get this glimpse of something beyond that doesn't have words, that everyone has felt it to varying degrees. I think that it's very safe to say that we touch, if we are to believe, 3000 years of mystics. The average person scrapes at the very edge of it sometimes. And no, it's not. When you're playing tennis, I'll qualify that because I play tennis three times a week. I love it. And people talk about the zone. People say, oh, I meditate. I get into the zone when I'm on the treadmill. I said no, that's different. I would argue you're actually sliding the opposite direction. Not in a bad way. Like you're sliding into the animal level of consciousness where you are detaching and you're using the brain to get into those fine motor, just like that zone thing. And that's beautiful and it's very cool, but I think it's heading in the opposite direction where what we're describing is getting into some sort of altered state that gives you a glimpse of a higher consciousness. Many people will dispute this. Materialists will dispute this. That's absolutely fine. It's a serotonin h T two a receptor that gives you this perception of a higher blah blah blah. We can talk about that for years. I don't know if it's really fruitful, because if I can take a moment to go down yet another little side road a patient asked me this week. Young guy, 26, history of depression. He says, why bother? Why this? And not in a dramatic way, just in a very matter of fact way. What's the point? And I said, Well, I think you have two rational choices. One is hedonic right? Make money, get boats, have fun. You have 85 years and then it's over. We killed God 150 years ago. Sorry, god whoops? And then if you don't believe in again, I'm ready for the pushback. If you don't believe in some sort of meaningful post death experience of some variety, then everything's up for grabs. If you're screaming into a death universe and you zoom out to cosmic scale, what does anything mean? Nothing means anything. The universe in 4 quadrillion years goes into atomic death, right? Maybe not. Look, I'm not a cosmologist, but you get what I'm saying. Certainly. This podcast is absolutely futile. We can agree on that. If there's one thing we agree on, this is absolutely meaningless. Meaningless to the millions of followers that you have, I hope to arm wrestle each and every one of you. So I said, yeah, on that level, you're absolutely right. But I believe that existentialism is a humanism right. And that sounds so smart. That's pure camus. That's pure sartre right there. That's nothing. I'm just basically quoting, but in the sense that if the universe is blind to us, then we have the ability to step in and create that meaning for ourselves. And I would say that there's a biological imperative there because I'll bring it back. Watch me do it. I'll do it. Is the animal that we are. When we create the terrain of meaning, when we impose that terrain of meaning, either individually or culturally, an itch gets scratched. An itch gets scratched, and we feel stuff. And I said, the other version is, do the things that you intuitively want to do. Create community, make other people feel nice. Make yourself feel nice. Feel nice, and this other chain starts to get enacted, right? And I believe that that's the ineffable thing where, okay, rationally, yeah, of course, no meaning, but we're not purely rational organisms, right? We have developed rationality, but there are layers of our experience. Whether they are transcendent or whether they are material, they exist nevertheless. The subconscious mind is running our kidneys right now. It's running most of the show. It's running the vast majority of our sensory inputs that it's choosing to pay attention to and not pay attention to. So it would be foolish to think that the conscious experience is paramount. There's so much more going on underneath. And if we give you a boatload of Ketamine, not the right phrasing, you know what I mean? You know what I mean? If we give you a completely appropriate dose of a controlled substance that allows you to shift gears enough to where you are open to receive some of this experience, it sets off a chain reaction. And I believe that we have solved a portion of the mental health conundrum in that combining that springboard with consistent daily commitment on a moment to moment level. Does this sound exactly like Buddhism? Because it might to some people. We've rediscovered budhism. I'm not a genius. I think we've done it in a way that fits and aligns with 2023 realities. And it works. It works. Listen, how many sad people do you know? Infinite sad people. Let's change the world. Come on. What are we even waiting for? Okay.
Speaker B [00:30:42]:
Speaker A [00:30:43]:
Speaker B [00:30:44]:
That was fantastic. I'm going to jump in. My brain is firing in so many different directions right now. I think that this place I want to kind of drill in on is around. You mentioned, like, squishiness of the brain, and some people might hear that and be like, oh, neuroplasticity. Like, we need to increase neuroplasticity. And I think what I'm curious about is, what is it about ketamine? You use the word springboard, it creates that springboard into, let's say, a slightly more squishy place of consciousness where that change, that rewiring, is possible. What type of rewiring do you think happens both in the short term during the journey and then afterwards? And I'm also curious how it's related to this piece around meaning as well. Because on one level, you could say you integrate parts of your psyche that were exhaled in traumatic memories from your childhood. And at the same time, it sounds like there's a more kind of existential rewiring where there's a sense that you're not alone in a meaningless universe. There's a sense that meaning is kind of inherent in this process. And so how does that unfold? Maybe over the course of someone works with you for a few months, what are the specific things that you notice and what are some of the specific practices that you think contribute to that radical transformation whereby someone walks in depressed and sad and anxious, and a few months later they're like, oh, I feel great. What does that look like?
Speaker A [00:32:26]:
That's so big. I can confidently say, I don't know, which is just a delightful position to step into. I don't know. The chemistry is being elucidated on a daily basis, right. So the idea it's funny, a patient just asked me, I think was it yesterday? Literally yesterday? Yesterday morning? I think it's basically the same question. And I said, for people who ketamine is a funny drug, right? It works on multiple receptor sites, which is why it has, we believe, these varying capabilities, right? It's used as anesthetic it's used in pain management. The use of it as a psychedelic is I was going to say it's new. It's not new. It's actually they were doing this since from the very beginning. They figured it out very early. But as a predominant use in a sort of current clinical setting, that's certainly not its major use, which is, by the way, one of its incredible strengths is that we tell patients all the time. My chief nurse, he works at Children's Hospital as well, so he's used to working with little kids and he will tell patients, and I've adopted this. He says, the dose that I will give an eight year old is eight X what you will now be receiving. It is so safe. It is so safe. It's wonderful in that regard. I think it really puts patients minds at ease. But what is happening on a chemical level? You see patients who are for instance, there's a patient that comes to the clinic and she is manic depressive, suicidal, and has been for many years. She's tried, as you can imagine, everything. And routine ketamine therapy keeps her from feeling suicidal. She is still sad. She is still sad. But that's a really big change. That's a huge deal. So there is a chemical thing that happens, right? I don't love the expression. There's a chemical thing that happens because, one, it's. So shockingly vague. But also it separates this idea that there's chemistry and then there's psychology or personality or experience. Those things are obviously one in the same. To separate the two would be absurd. You can't have if I remove the chemical from your brain, how are you going to feel anything and vice versa? How can you do the opposite, right? If you put chemical in the brain, you are going to feel something, right? When people say, oh, I take Prozac, I don't feel anything. But you do feel better? Yes, I feel better. Okay. You're not like falling over and wetting yourself. Our threshold for experience of what I quote unquote, am feeling and not and not feeling is very as a side note, I think people ask a lot of the times like, oh, Ketamine versus psilocybin versus MDMA versus whatever. I said, listen, go outside of a bar at two in the morning and tell me that alcohol is not a therapy drug when you have 45 year old grown men crying on each other's shoulders. Tell me that alcohol is not a sufficient vehicle for transformative mental health. In the right container. In the right container. Altered states of consciousness in general, right? We can do it through breathing. We can do it through literally just about anything, whether it be external chemical or internally modulated or something. It's just that changey thing, right? Promote the squish. There's my bumper sticker. Promote the squish. Sorry. Going back to your question.
Speaker B [00:36:37]:
Yeah, well, intervene briefly on that. Promoting the squish. I wonder if there are almost like different, and I think there are subjectively that there are different, maybe psychedelics that intervene depending on what someone's experiencing. So I imagine Ketamine is great for someone who's maybe having suicidal ideation and maybe MGMA is great for someone that struggles to connect with their feelings or has a lot of self judgment and criticism. Maybe psychedelics is good for someone who's a kind of materialist and existentially numb. It feels like there are certain chemicals which tend to promote certain types of experiences which might be the right type of squishy.
Speaker A [00:37:22]:
I think that's fair on a smaller scale, and I would agree with that. On a macro scale, I'm not sure it matters. But the psilocybin patients ask me that. What psilocybin? Because a lot of them are not drug naive. They've already had some experiences. I'd say, well, you know, patients, people, humans, they will take a psilocybin like, oh, look at this leaf. Oh my God, you got to come see this. It's infinite, it's the universe, blah, blah. And so you find kind of the universe in the small, beautiful, natural and it's transcendent and then you tap into the universal oneness beautiful consciousness thing. Ketamine is, I say the opposite direction instead of micro in it's. Deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, disconnected to the point. I have people this is not uncommon. I have people who will be quiet, quiet, quiet during the experience. Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet. And in this tone of voice, they ask me the following. They have the mask on, headphones on. They're speaking into the void. Am I dead? In that tone of voice, they are questioning their annihilation in a voice of saying, I would like onion rings, please. Am I dead? To which I respond no, you're not. And they pause and they go, okay, and then go back in. Can you imagine what it takes where you have to be in your consciousness to calmly ask the most important question of all time? Am I alive? Holy cow. Holy cow. And you get to that stage to answer your question from a few minutes ago, experientially existentially, right? If you get a flavor of, oh, my God, am I dead? Okay, somebody just told me I'm not dead, and I'm still thinking, right? So it's that weird fragmentation where I am both dead and very much still here, okay? Am I God? That comes up less frequently, but occasionally, and obviously not in a mega maniacal way. Am I God in the sense of, like, am I everything now? Because my sense of individual, subjective, objective thing has completely faded away, yet I still am conscious on some level. So now, is everything me? Am I everything? Man, you're not going to get that driving in your car, listening to your favorite tune like, oh, I'm in the zone. I went running and I really was in the zone. Did you fade away into a universal consciousness? No. Well, then I would argue that maybe there's a different place that this takes you, right? Yeah.
Speaker B [00:40:11]:
Unless the music was the Co On on repeat and it somehow broke their brain, cracked them open.
Speaker A [00:40:16]:
You know what? If we find that track, I will immediately call you. Honestly? Honestly. Although if I can be a dick about it, I feel that maybe in a semi proverbial sense, this is that track. This is that track. The co on is that track, right? This whole process is that track. It's just that it works on a the track is just longer, right? You want a three and a half minute jam that Taylor Swift is going to sing to you that's going to blow out your brain, you're going to become an enlightened Buddha. I would argue that maybe that's even possible, except that track needs to be about three years long.
Speaker B [00:40:55]:
Do you think that whilst, let's say, the lead up can be longer, someone spends five years in and out of meditation retreats. Do you think that the kind of existential hangover that happens after that is more integrated? Because it's something that I've certainly experienced is like these psychedelics can feel like a rocket ship that will take you to almost like the endpoint, but then I kind of come back down and the next day, whilst I'll have the memories, I'm still in what feels like a pretty similar mode of consciousness? Do you have a sense of like is the neuroplastic changes that come through meditations or contemplating Cohens? Is that longer lasting? Does it land more deeply in the system?
Speaker A [00:41:43]:
That question is we can end with that. We won't. But this is the crux of it, truly. And I will tell people my exact metaphor is you are a 6th grade science student and I'm going to put you on the shuttle and take you to the space station. It will feel scary. It will feel weird. It will feel exhilarating. It will feel somewhat familiar because you're somewhat familiar with what you're going to experience. And it will give you this incredible view, this broad view that you could never have from down on Earth. And then you are going to come back down.
Speaker B [00:42:21]:
That astronauts have. They talk about the overview effect where.
Speaker A [00:42:24]:
They actually that's right. The awe space. The awe. Right? So you'll get the awe, you'll get the we. As in you and I. You'll get the we and you'll get the we. You'll get those things and then you'll come back down. And now you realize, okay, I need to spend 20 years becoming an astronaut. You are not an astronaut because you went to the space station. Right? Jeff Bezos is not an astronaut. He went into space. Is he an astronaut? No. No one would say that. It's ridiculous. The drugs give you that experience and then you come back down. And to mix my metaphors, we spend time walking around the forest and we literally lose the forest for the trees. And this takes you up on a hot air balloon and says that's where you need to go. And you realize, oh no, I've been going over this way. I've been going south southeast. I need to just be going directly south. And then the balloon comes back down and you can reorient yourself and keep going. And you have to keep going, and you have to keep going. And that's the metaphor. That's the slow, steady change. And what this does is it gives you the ineffable experiences, whatever the moments of awe, whether medical, drug or otherwise induced birth of a child, massive experiences, these types of things. Death of a loved one. Right. These types of experiences. Which is why, of course, the standard literature people will routinely rate their first psychedelic experience on par with the most meaningful experiences of their lives. Right. Well why is that? Right. On a chemical level, huge dump of serotonin, whatever. I'm not even going to pretend to be able to really accurately biochemically describe what it means to have a child being born in your arms. I don't know. I'm single. I don't know. So there's that glimpse that you get and then you come back down, just like you said. And I wouldn't qualify it as a hangover. I think it's the opposite. There is that sense of like, oh, that felt so good. That felt so awe inspiring. That felt incredible. And at first this is why I say a series of visits, whether whatever you're doing the first time and I think this is where a lot of the research gets it wrong the first time is, wow, I didn't know, and that's great, but that's not the thing. What I want you to come back for is the second visit is a little bit less wow, more familiar and just whoa. Right? The wow is exciting. The roller coaster is exciting, but that's not what the what are we doing this for? Are we doing it for a roller coaster? Yeah. One and done. Awesome. Go in a safe place. Have somebody keep an eye on you. Go the distance. It's meaningful. It's exciting. It's interesting. I think it's fueled a lot of art. Fantastic. Are we trying to transform a system that is resistant to change? Okay, let's get more serious. Let's dig in. This is going to take time, and we're going to have biochemical springboard, as it were. But go in there again. I haven't lost track of your question. The experiential phenomenological thing, right? Go in there and now feel your way into it. Feel your way through it. And that takes repetitions. It just takes reps. Let's see. Did I cover the bases? Launched into space. Okay. As a model, an inspiration. Oh, I think it's worth mentioning that when you come back and you do your meditation, whatever that is right. The experiences that you can hold on to work as a good guide within your practice. I think here we go. Follow this metaphor. I think this is really apt. If you want to get big muscles, you know where to look. Go look at bodybuilders. They have the biggest muscles you can have. We have a clear people. We're not that advanced. We have a visual system that says, okay, big muscle. What did he do? She do all right. We don't have an Arnold Schwarzenegger for enlightenment. Who do you look to? The Buddha. How do you know?
Speaker B [00:46:57]:
I guess the knowing comes through practice. I mean, someone like Ramdas, where you listen to enough of his lectures and it's like, this guy gets something.
Speaker A [00:47:08]:
Or he's bullshitting you.
Speaker B [00:47:10]:
Or he's bullshitting you.
Speaker A [00:47:11]:
Speaker B [00:47:11]:
Speaker A [00:47:12]:
Or he's bullshitting you. Right. You know what I'm saying? Of course. I don't think he is. That would never cross my mind. But you look at the Dalai Lama.
Speaker B [00:47:22]:
There'S not like a litmus test of.
Speaker A [00:47:23]:
Like, is he an older Asian man? That is bullshitting you. Or has he achieved something that is Olympic level? That thing? We don't have a clear litmus test. And I think as because of that, there's a lot less buy in individually and culturally. We know what rich looks like.
Speaker B [00:47:42]:
You want to get rich, harder to measure?
Speaker A [00:47:44]:
Go start Amazon. You want to get jacked? Go take a bunch of steroids, hit the gym. Like we have a clear pathway, a clear end goal. And I would argue that in some way, taking people into these experiences gives them at least a taste, a sense, an, oh, my God. I've had a personal experience once. I'll tell you, I think this is fine. A very deep psychedelic experience where I was with another person, and the details are not, I think, really that important. But I experienced a sense of compassion that I did not think was physically possible, humanly possible. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I'm not a person of a small imagination. I think that I would imagine that that's what saints feel like. Maybe more, I don't know. But at the very least, it wasn't a I've been compassionate four out of ten, and now I am compassionate six out of ten. It was I have known what I thought was compassion, and now I have a whole different definition of the word. It turns out it's not the same thing. It was like a fax machine and a bicycle. They are not the same in kind. It's not like a bigger bicycle. It's a faster bicycle. No, you transitioned, and I'm sure you can relate to this. It's a quantum shift. And now that is now a point where I can think to, okay, when I say the word compassion, when I describe it, that is the target. Or it may not be the final target, but man, it is really so much more accurate of a thing. So that's where these experiences can take us so experientially. Why is it powerful? That's why it's powerful. I think we really get lost in this idea of, you know, what we should develop is a psilocybin that you can't feel. I'm sorry, what now? Yeah, what are we doing? Oh, you want a new SSRI? Cool. Great. That's important. That's going to have high utility. I think that's wonderful. Are we missing something big? There is controversy. I'd say yes. Definitively categorically. Yes.
Speaker B [00:50:12]:
I was just at the Maps conference in Denver, and that was one of the talking points, and I'm very much in agreement with you. And I think this actually ties into another curiosity I had in that I believe you've spent some time traveling in South America and presumably being with some of the indigenous cultures that have these medicines as part of their culture. And I think the question I have is what is it that we're missing with the kind of medicalized model that we're funneling psychedelics in through, which may be missing part of the kind of the actual core medicine of it being within community, in ceremony, with a sense of sacredness, which is a word that the medical institution wouldn't touch with a ten foot barge bowl. Because how do you measure sacredness? But what do you think maybe the question here is, what have you learned from spending time with these people? And what are some ways that you think people like yourself can integrate those ideas into your practice.
Speaker A [00:51:15]:
Two things, I have to admit, I'm kind of thinking this on the fly. So this is subject to change. I think that the Ayahuascaros of Peru could do their thing without ayahuasca.
Speaker B [00:51:30]:
Could you say more to that?
Speaker A [00:51:33]:
My sense is a friend of mine who has since passed away, he did his PhD on the Ayahuascaros of Peru, specifically. This is something I'm more familiar with than other traditions per se, and the cultural component, I believe, is stronger. How about this? You know what? Perfect example when you go to a fundamentalist Christian church and you see people talking in tongues and they're not faking it, they haven't taken any drugs. These are people in our culture. This is not some sort of distant foreign language in America. You can go to a church tomorrow and watch people have a ceremony that puts them into a deep altered state of consciousness, drug free. So again, does it help? Does it springboard? Does it make it easier? For sure. And again, please, there's a substantive difference between speaking in tongues in a church versus going and having your brain blasted apart with ayahuasca. Certainly. But how long term, fundamentally different are those things? I don't know. I will say this, though, transitioning slightly. I spent a little bit of time in Guatemala many years ago with a woman who was a Guatemalan native. She was the designated shaman of her village, and she was a very powerful female activist. If you're familiar with Guatemalan history, it's very fraught, very violent for many years. And I think that it's worth mentioning, and this is a good moment to say that is that the other piece that is really critical to what I do in my work is I'm not trying to get you to feel good to buy another Volvo. I'm trying to get you to feel good so you can turn around and make substances change in the culture on the planet, in your community. That is my marxist. That's actually a really stupid thing to say because I believe that that has nothing to do with Marxism, that has everything to do with being a person. John Stuart Mill would have said the same. Any any thinker no thinkers out there going, you know, you should do you should get good for yourself and then just forget about it. Yeah, but that's the thing, is that we have this slightly skewed opinion that I need to feel better. I feel bad now. And everyone says, you feel bad now, you need to feel better. And one of the things I remember writing at some point recently saying that people will come in and they say, I'm so lonely. I don't want to feel lonely. My goal for you is, of course I want you to feel better immediately. I don't like suffering. Suffering sucks, obviously. But my solution to feeling lonely is not to stop feeling lonely. My solution to feeling lonely is to feel connected. And I think that's not wordplay. I think that's a subtle but very salient differentiation of the two things. So if we believe, why do we let's talk about something more fundamental. Why do we feel so shitty? Is it the nature of the human being to feel that way? I don't think so. I don't think this doesn't make sense. If you step back and think about it doesn't make sense. Yes, there's suffering. Yes, there's pain. Yes, we will die. Okay? Am I to believe that through 6 million years, we have just sat here and felt terrible about it the whole time? I don't believe that. I do believe that. If you look at some of the traditions, right, look at the Aztecs, for instance, and this is a bit of a stretch, but just roll with me here. They had a whole philosophical culture that was existentialist in nature and that was you can look at their poetry. I can summarize a lot of it. Dance hard because you are going away soon. And of course, people talk about aspects. It's like chocolate and murder. That's all Aztecs are chocolate and murder. Yeah, there's a lot of chocolate and murder, but there's been a lot of chocolate murder all over the place. It's not like Europe is somehow exempt from chocolate and murder. They just didn't have the chocolate. Europe is just like murder and murder. So the springboard isn't to feel good. The springboard is to feel good to make everything else better. And to make everything else better. I think that it doesn't take a big brain to realize that that means to recommit to each other and to our communities. And it sounds very kumbaya. And this is where the ineffable part comes in. Literally. Yes. I swear, when I say yesterday, I mean I'm not lying to you. Literally. Yesterday. Yesterday, I swear to you. I'll bring her on. First time patient, first time ketamine treatment. She said to me, after we're doing our integration, I call it talking. We talk afterwards. We do an integration session. People love to ask me, like, do we do an integration session? I said yes. I'll talk to you. I'll talk to you about what happened. The naming of things is so funny, right? The medicalization, medicalization of it. We're now integrating. It felt like talking. I felt like we were talking. No, we're integrating. All right, cool. 200 more dollars. Yes, got it. Perfect. Why did you spend that money? Well, we were integrating. Shut up. We're not integrating now. Your whole life is integrating. Like, every second you're integrating. She said, I felt that I was part of a tree and the roots were around me. And she said, and this is a very sensible thinky person, she said the gaia thing, man. She says, I have a new sympathy for the hippies. Her words. I said, yeah, I know, I get it. She said, and the roots, and they were part I said, I know. I know what you mean. The words will fail you right now. Watch. She's like, I just don't know what this I said, yeah, I know. I had a guy last week, 56 year old man, who started crying about pilot whales. Pilot whales? He comes out and he's like, the whales? What have we done to the whales? It's hysterical. If it weren't real, if you saw it on TV show, you'd say, my God, could they have written something less original? But it's true. This is a real human being, and he feels the planet. He has a sense of consciousness about something that he didn't an hour ago. Will it fade? Yeah, of course it'll fade. That's not the point. Something changed that will never he will always remember the fact that he flipped out and a grown 56 year old man cried cried in front of another grown man about pilot whales. I mean, it's hysterical. Say it out loud. I cried for ten minutes about what we've done to the beached. Pilot whales ineffable there are no words. There are no words, right? Love is everything. That's so stupid until you feel it. You know what I'm talking about. You can't talk about sex in a meaningful way unless you've had it.
Speaker B [00:59:47]:
There was a former podcast guest that described it as effing the ineffable, which I thought was very well put. And yeah, as you're speaking the words of Daniel Schmachtenberger, I think he talks about global intimacy disorder and how that's kind of like the root crisis that is beneath all of the other crises. And it sounds like these rememberings maybe like reawakenings are addressing that global intimacy disorder in a very meaningful way. Yeah. And then the other thing that was coming up for me was around this might feel free to just pass on this question, but I had a phone call with a philosopher called Christopher Bash last week, and he'd done 73 high dose LSD journeys and written a book about his experiences. And one of the themes that really struck me was this idea that he shared, like suffering is grace was kind of like the pithy phrase that came from it. And I'm wondering maybe not the perspective that you share with clients. If someone comes in and they're miserable and you say, Suffering is grace, they'll probably slap you. It's not a very compassionate thing to say. But having experienced what you've experienced and having seen what you've seen, what is your view on what suffering actually is? Because for me, speaking personally, it has been a vehicle for greater opening and compassion and joy, frankly, and feeling. And so I'm wondering, what have you learned about the nature of suffering through your own experience and through the work you've done?
Speaker A [01:01:31]:
I'll start just to completely not answer the question, but just kind of just very briefly say, I tell you, as someone who's done a fair amount of reading in my life. I really struggle with the global theory guys. The theory of everything, guys. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around crisis of meaning. Like the things that it's hard I think it's hard. I think it's hard in the same way to encapsulate the ineffable of a LSD experience, for instance. I think it's also hard our brains struggle with trying to make really big things medium and trying to make really small things medium because we live in medium scale, right? We don't have any sense of atomic interactions and we don't have any sense of galactic interactions. That's not what these sense organs are made for. We don't have a telescope and we don't have a microscope. And sometimes I think that it's fun to think about those things but they also feel like a little bit of a hobby thing when if I may be so bold, you and I both know the answers. Every nine year old knows the answers, right? Be nice, stop dropping bombs on children. Do things that are meaningful and helpful and useful. What else do you that's it. I don't know if we need much more than that. And yes, I understand that I'm oversimplifying things, but I think that over complexifying things is also a little bit perilous. Suffering, suffering person my essay on suffering. I believe that suffering is the litmus test between AI and humans. I think that's what carries water. It's clearly not logic, it's clearly not intelligence, depending on how we define it, et cetera. I think suffering is the thing. I don't know if non biological entities will be able to suffer. Maybe, I don't know. But for me, until further notice, that's the cutoff. So that's not just me spouting about AI because I want know plug something, put me on a podcast. Somebody. I have an idea about AI. Somebody is AI popular now. Blockchain. Blockchain AI. Psychedelics. Oh, you know what a hot take? Here you go, here's your hot take. Ready? I think in three years no one gives a shit about psychedelics. Yeah, sure, I'll do it, I'll do it. Put a pin in it. Come back to that.
Speaker B [01:04:13]:
We'll schedule round two for this in 2026.
Speaker A [01:04:17]:
Hardcore. You're like. Oh. Blockchain 2.0. Psychedelic. What were psychedelics? I don't even remember what that was. So suffering is the thing that makes us human. And to say that to a person who is suffering is completely wasteful in the moment. I completely agree with you. I think that suffering what separates an adult from a child a lot of ways is you have seen and experienced hard, bad things. It makes for compassion. Why do teenagers not give a damn? Because they can't cast themselves into the role of other people and they haven't had it hard that way. And they're certainly capable, right? You fill the container which you are given, which is why you can take kids and send them to a difficult part of the planet or town, and all of a sudden they'll come back and then be like, mom, oh, my God, I saw this thing. I can't believe it. We need to do something. So they're certainly capable, but in large part, they don't have those experiences. They don't have that point of view. Suffering, I feel with our pain patients I'll speak personally every time I hurt myself playing a sport or something or get sick or whatever it is, it creates, unfortunately, a fairly temporary heightened sense of compassion and awareness. And that's why I think a lot of people in the medical profession can be so callous because they haven't had that experience. And again, tons of pushback. I know. Like, oh, you know what? It's because they're so overwhelmed, they're so overworked, and because if they felt everything all the time, it would be overwhelming. Yeah, all those things also true. But also, if you look at the callousness with which some unfortunate medical interactions go, it's hard for me to think of another alternative. And I have been there myself where somebody comes in in pain, and I think, oh, okay, here's my pain patient at 330. Oh, my God. That's a human being.
Speaker B [01:06:33]:
Speaker A [01:06:36]:
I'm not sure I fully understand what suffering is grace means. I don't mean that in a critical way. I mean that in a literal way, where I'm not sure exactly what that means. But I can certainly attest to the fact that what I have experienced and what I have seen amongst other people is that the suffering is something so critical to who we are. And of course, it makes sense. Like, biologically, it makes sense. Evolutionarily, right. Suffering is the thing we avoid more than anything else because it's what keeps us alive. We have to avoid suffering to stay alive. Otherwise, if you suffer, you die. Now, our mechanisms for gauging suffering and avoiding said suffering, I would argue, are really off kilter in a way, where we need to excite our fight or flight instincts .1% of the time in modern 21st century America, thankfully, right? Unless it's a car crash or you are being held up at gunpoint, which happens almost never to people in my universe. Certainly you understand what I'm saying? And yet people are so frequently in that zone, to varying degrees, disproportionately. It's not hard to imagine what having the fire alarm constantly going off is doing to them. Totally biologically, physiologically, psychologically. So the suffering I desperately want to say something really profound. I don't have a good suffering is grace thing. I think it's important. I think it's what makes us human. I think that the underpinnings of why we have it is if I were a religious guy or I mean, how about this? We can easily point to a lot of these classic texts and how much of it revolves around suffering and the interaction between the deity and the person and. Why have you forsaken me, right? Why have you made me suffer? You have the option to not give me suffering. Why have you, O Lord, given me this suffering? Why? What a through line in Western civilization. Amazing, right? Like it's really just kind of about that in so many ways. Oh, my girlfriend, my boyfriend, my suffering. It's all about the suffering, right? And then you look at maybe a different tradition. I'm going to just mangle all sorts of stuff here, so just bear with me. Different perspective on maybe say a budhist perspective. There are tons of different budhist perspectives. I'm aware of that. 3000 years. Just go with me. Maybe the suffering isn't a preordained, some sort of this superimposed. Maybe the suffering is built in and we should approach that differently. Again, we'll go bring it back to the very beginning in a certain sense where if you don't believe in a post death world, suffering becomes a really critical thing that we need to attend to and understand because it exists and it's a guiding principle of how our lives unfold. So putting attention onto that is paramount. And I don't know if I was able to clarify my opinion here. I do think it's quite nuanced and sort of multivalent. But just give me 1 second to pause and think if there's anything else I can I can add to that in a meaningful way. How about this? That the attention to suffering is a bigger deal than the attention to happiness or enjoyment because we don't need to be happy and enjoy to survive. And our primal architecture, at least on the meat biological level, I can't attest to anything greater than that revolves around that, right? Pain avoidance. Everything is pain avoidance. And figuring out how to manage that is probably at the heart of all of it.
Speaker B [01:11:28]:
Beautiful. Yeah. Thank you for that answer.
Speaker A [01:11:31]:
Beautiful or confusing? Let me be honest, it's such a big question.
Speaker B [01:11:35]:
Yeah. I think there's so many different dimensions to it, honestly. And it really depends on what someone's constellation of life experiences are. And I think there are many different ways to relate to it simultaneously. So I think it's a very complex topic and it's also deeply interwoven with a sense of meaning as well. I think if you can find meaning in the pain, in the suffering, then that in some ways unlocks everything because suddenly you're not avoiding anything at all if you can find meaning or value in it. But I've just looked at the time, I'm like, oh shit. There were so many other questions I want to run by you and I've got a few more kind of like quick fire questions. But before we go there, you mentioned before we hit record that you've just written a book and I'm curious if there are any ideas or anything that you feel like is worth kind of dropping into this conversation that feels relevant to what we've been speaking to or what listeners might find interesting.
Speaker A [01:12:42]:
Holy cow. I think that just two nights ago I finished the first draft. Finished, finished. And it's a book that's designed to shepherd people through their psychedelic process. This was specifically written for people at my clinic. I intend to take that program out to the world at some point, maybe in the next six months or so. I have some patients who are well known folks who are artists, who are very excited. So there's some interesting collaborations coming down the turnpike. My goal would be to be able to get these types of programs out to people who don't have immediate access to come to a clinic. I think that we can do a lot of this meaningful work without necessarily having an in person Ketamine experience. Whether that means getting them this is, again, controversial, getting them the Ketamine through distance, through telemedicine. So we're exploring that very seriously. And even without that, there's a lot of fruitful territory there to say this. If I were to give someone advice, and this piece of advice, maybe nothing else, I would say get with some big ideas and mull them over hard. The questions that you are asking and the experiences that you are having have been had by wait for it, by greater minds. Right? We live in a bell curve. We're probably somewhere in the middle. There have been some authors out there who are on the edges, and they were gifted for whatever reason. This is the premise of the program, I believe, that going in there and mulling over these hard questions can transform you. And if you combine that with a meditation practice, for instance, of just, I'm speaking your language right now. Nervous system mastery. At first I was like, oh, those three words. That's too simple. No, I think you crushed it. I think you crushed it. Nervous system mastery. I'll be honest, I use that phrase in my clinic now, I do, and I say, you're not going to get rid of suffering. That's a thing that's part of this experience. Can you master your nervous system? It takes an hour or two a day for years to learn to play a concerto. No one doubts that. No one doubts that. Why is there an assumption that you are somehow good at this? This misleads us constantly.
Speaker B [01:15:35]:
It also feels like you're conducting an orchestra. In a way, I think that the metaphor of the conductor and absolutely back into tune and finding these kind of discordant notes and skillfully bringing it back is actually a perfect analogy for what is happening.
Speaker A [01:15:50]:
I think that's absolutely right. And so we can talk about the different sections of the orchestra. We can talk about all of it. And again, I don't know, the metaphors at some point almost lose meaning. Just go in there, spend the time doing the dive, and there's such fruitful territory there. My goodness. And it's all the things that you've talked about a million times, I'm sure already, both in your programs and I'm sure on other podcasts, is the best way to not learn to play concerto is to jump from instructor to instructor to instructor to practice 6 hours once a month. It's not a metaphor. This is just the way the brain works. It's not a metaphor. To be an Olympic level anything requires daily consistent practice. If you want a better experience of your time on Earth, spend daily consistent practice time mastering the vehicle through which you experience reality. It's very straightforward. And from that you will naturally arrive at the conclusions that tell you on a deep level, I should be doing meaningful things in the world and my community. I should be kind. I should be kierkegaard. Kierkegaard, right. For those who don't have that I'm paraphrasing. For those that don't have that much education or maybe capability, but mostly education, it's important to give them a top down, this is how you do it lesson. He's speaking about Christianity, and he said for the people who are the pooh, smearing curious types, they will eventually come to those same moral, ethical conclusions on their own.
Speaker B [01:17:28]:
Speaker A [01:17:30]:
I believe that.
Speaker B [01:17:32]:
I believe that too. Yeah, I really do.
Speaker A [01:17:35]:
Nervous system mastery. If you want. You know, I know a guy who has a course.
Speaker B [01:17:40]:
The link may or may not be in the show notes.
Speaker A [01:17:43]:
I may or may not be getting an affiliate fee for this. It's not complicated. I love talking about it. There's so many like, my God, neuroscience amazing. Can we be honest? What are we going to learn? What are we really going to learn? Are we going to learn it's important to be nice? Are we going to learn it's important to sleep well? What are we really?
Speaker B [01:18:10]:
Then we'll round this up in a moment. But if listeners were to take away, let's say, okay, I'm going to set aside 20 minutes of my day to do what Michael is telling me to do. I'm going to begin this process of making my brain increasingly squishy and master my nervous system. What is one practice that you found to be disproportionately effective? If someone was to dedicate 20 minutes to tuning up their own human instrument.
Speaker A [01:18:38]:
I would take that 20 minutes and talk myself into spending an hour and a half.
Speaker B [01:18:45]:
Speaker A [01:18:47]:
Doing well the outline of my program. Every morning you get passages to read and hopefully you contemplate them all throughout the day while you're doing your normal life stuff and that those profound, meaningful ideas occupy your mind. Instead of did I leave the gas on? I couldn't left the gas on. Did I leave the gas on? Oh, my God. Somebody needs to check on the gas. It will do something. It's a powerful machine. Give it a thing early in the morning, contemplate all day, come home, write on it at right, do a practice at night, meditate at night, meditate as much as you can. Meditate in the moments. I told this cancer patient, I said, Listen, I believe, and this is a tall order, I'm so acutely aware of this if you want to change, you have to change everything. The Marine Corps, the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So take that 20 minutes and convince yourself that every second of your day is a series of options to transform. And I won't be so mean. I will answer your question. I will say this. Take everything that you do, everything that you do, and try to do it at 90%. The pace not at 50%, the pace not at some sort of strange pace is going to get you fired just a little bit slower. And what I have found is that in that gap, that narrow gap, presence appears and it becomes not automatic. And all of a sudden you are present in the moment. And that presence is the thing that nervous system mastery is about. And everything kind of builds from there.
Speaker B [01:20:24]:
Stimulus and response.
Speaker A [01:20:27]:
Absolutely. So just that little act of slowing down. A surgeon friend of mine once told me about how he had an assistant in the operating room and he was making some mistakes and he stopped and said, you need to slow down to speed up.
Speaker B [01:20:44]:
Yeah, less haste, more speed.
Speaker A [01:20:49]:
Right? All the bumper stickers. Absolutely. Just slow down a little bit and allow grace or whatever word we're using. Change, meaning presence, something dopamine, blah blah, who cares? Try it. Try it. Get back to me. Email in the link, let me know how it goes. I think that that is powerful, powerful, transformative stuff.
Speaker B [01:21:14]:
Love that. That's a great experiment. So this has been so much fun. I think we could keep going for another 3 hours at least. So I actually do want to have around to it at some point for listeners who are like, holy shit, I want to learn more about this. What are ways that they can get in touch with you, potentially learn more about your work, this forthcoming book, and what other resources would you point people to?
Speaker A [01:21:38]:
Oh man, it's just email me. Literally just email me. Drmichaelyang@gmail.com. Yeah, post it. Post my email. You know what? Even if you disagree, I would love to hear it. Honestly, I would love that even more because as confident as I am in these ideas, they're only based on my experience. I'm so well aware of that and I would love to have those conversations. The website for our practice is getcare.com that's C-A-I-R-E so that you can post that in the link that talks about specific archetamine practice. I'm pretty easily findable, to be perfectly honest, I give all my patients my cell phone. No, listen, once you're in the family, you're in the family. I believe in being there for people when they need me and I turn off the phone, I go to sleep. Otherwise, here I am. I'm very easily accessed. Great.
Speaker B [01:22:36]:
Well, I like to close these conversations, and this one is particularly appropriate based on what we've talked about with this line from Rilke. And he says, Try to love the questions themselves and live them. Now, perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live your way into the answer. So with that question in mind, with that quote in mind, what is the question that is most alive in your consciousness right now? And what question would you leave our listeners with to chew on throughout the day while they're going so easy, speed.
Speaker A [01:23:09]:
So easy. I just return it right back around. My question is, was he right? Was he right? What you just laid out, I could have saved you an hour and a half of talking to me about is there a profound change available to you by considering the deep questions just in the process of the consideration? Is there profound change there? I believe yes, personally. But that quote, it couldn't be more spot on. Yeah, that's it.
Speaker B [01:23:49]:
Michael, thank you very much. This has been really fun.
Speaker A [01:23:52]:
It was my really deep pleasure. I hope that we can do it again.
Speaker B [01:23:56]:
Yeah. All right. Thank you so much.
Speaker A [01:24:00]: