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Episode 32: Swiss 8 Mini Series: Tristan Rose of Blind Tiger Yoga

by Shaun Kober
September 7th 2020

This episode is not for the faint of heart.

Tristan and I served in the Australian Army together for many years, and we have a long history...some of which includes some of his darkest day... More

Can you just touch on? You already spoke about the four principles or the main principles of Swiss 8? Can you go through the eight principles for us? For the listeners. Yeah, so the top four, I mean we call in the top four, Bottom four. So the top four is fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and sleep. Uh and that we we call those the top four because they are the holistic health lifestyle principles um that we we asked we try and get people to start with. First build a routine around those four principles and then once you're happy and you're comfortable that all that has become habit and it is a routine, then we've got minimalism, discipline, time management and personal growth. And they basically life hack kind of principles. Mm You know what is up guys? Welcome to the live transform podcast. I'm your host, Sean Cobra and joining me today is one of my good mates tristan rows of blind tiger yoga trust and I go back probably 15 years or so.

We served in the military together. He's one of my best mates. He's a pioneer in the industry that he's working in. I've got a lot of respect for the guy and I'm very excited to have Rosie on the show. Rosie. Welcome to the live transformed podcast mate. Thanks mate. I'm really happy to be a part of it for those who have been following. I have been rolling through the Swiss Eight miniseries which is a proactive mental health program designed to allow people to schedule in the most important things of their lives via an app that's delivered straight to their phones. So the eight principles of Swiss Eight, our sleep nutrition time management Discipline, fitness, personal growth, mindfulness and minimalism. I've gone through all of those episodes and dedicated an entire episode to each one of those principles. I started the Swiss eight miniseries with an introduction with the founder of Swiss eight, which was with Adrian Soda. I'm now rounding out the Swiss Eight miniseries with tristan rows of blind tiger yoga and basically what we're going to be talking about is how he has implemented These tools into his life and how he uses them to be better at Life Tristan, which one of the Swiss eight principles is most important for you.

Um It's an interesting question because I don't really see that one takes precedence over another. I think that they're all um they're all pretty important and it's unanimous to say that these principles are fundamental for all health and well being great fundamentals for everyone to to begin their health journey on to revamp it or rekindle it. Um and I think that For this to work for the eight principles to work in general and its application, it needs to be almost a symbiotic relationship between the user and the interface and that needs to be held with complete accountability. Um So for it to actually work and reap the benefits you really have to develop that co existing relationship with what you apply yourself to one of the principles that I've been working on in this period of covered because I'm forced in Melbourne at the moment is sleep.

So as you know, we've spoken about this many times over the years, that my sleep is just shocking through physical injuries and roughly sleep for 35, 40 minutes and then have to get up and frozen shoulder, then have to move um you know, readjust myself and then go over the other side and then repeat the process. So 3.5, 4 hours a night was my norm for probably Going on 10 years. And and this time, this downtime I've been able to actually reset my relationship to sleep because I haven't had the demands of my current schedule and lifestyle. So sleep has been a major focus for me. It's unbelievably important in everyone's life and I've had to adapt my sleep regime from unconventional means and methods in the last few years. So I would say that sleep is probably one of the biggest ones that I've been working on.

Yeah, man, that's a really good answer. Thank you for sharing that. So obviously sleeps a big one for you at the moment. How have you found that um having some processes around um potentially a nightly routine that's going to allow you to get to sleep. How have you found that that's affected your day to day, mental and physical health well, to give it a bit of context because I teach usually quite late in the evenings and I'm home quite late in the evening. Um I can't start my sleep routine until maybe 10 30 11 o'clock at night, which is just ridiculous for most people. Um it's not healthy, it's really not healthy. So in this time period that I've been able to have a regular sleep schedule, I've been able to, you know, eliminate electronic devices before bed. Um the use of blue lens glasses and screens have been phenomenal. I found a phenomenal impact from those, um not looking at my phone directly before bed, um leaving that imprint on my mind, um use of soft lighting, um really getting into my socks, um you know, getting into the tub chilling.

Um as you know, I'm a devout reader and I like to fill my head with stuff that's completely away from my normal day to day activities. So really setting out a two hour time period before bed, like I proposed to be in bed by this time, I'm going to start the process now, changing my lighting, changing my atmosphere, changing my relationship to technology, um you know, invested in a decent bed christmas time, which was fantastic. I'm like, how the hell did I not do this every five years? Like, it's definitely worth it. Um yeah, it's been a bit of process, that's for sure. Yeah, there's a couple of things that I want to touch on there because you did mention blue light now for the listeners. I have done an entire episode on sleep, but to recap that our body has feedback systems and our visual system is a big part of that.

Now. What happens when we wake up in the morning is light hits our eyes and that starts producing certain chemicals and compounds and hormones and things like that. That basically tell our body evolutionary speaking, it's time to get up, seek out food, water and shelter. So when we're exposed to these artificial lights, once the sun goes down where our brain is essentially receiving this feedback that the sun is still up and it's still producing these hormones, what's supposed to happen is your, once the sun goes down, the hormone profile is supposed to change and your body starts decreasing adrenaline and cortisol and those types of things that kind of create a stress response that allow you to get shit done. And it's supposed to start producing melatonin, which essentially allows you to down regulate central nervous system, chill out, relax and get to sleep. So that's been a massive one for me as well. Do you notice the difference when you're not using your blue light blocking glasses or what are some of the practices that you use once the sun does go down?

Well, it's quite interesting when I stumbled on the blue lens glasses, maybe two years ago I was driving home from, from teaching and because the class is pretty sort of dim lit and you know, it's quite a relaxing sort of atmosphere when I get in my car and drive home, my eyes were extremely sensitive to light. And I think it was as well when we were in, when I caught up with you last in Thailand and you know, we were just out playing some pool and I was like looking at the lights and stuff and I was just like, man, like I gotta go get my eyes checked because I'm just, I'm just getting this over stimulus and now we finished pool and went back to bed and we'll not together, obviously they'll be with, but hey, 20 bucks is 25. Um but I went back to the villa and I just found myself being just overly stimulated by just sensory input.

I'm just like, it's literally like someone flashing a torch in your eyes and then just be like, relax. You know, you're like, well, you know, I'm awake sort of thing. So, um using the blue lens glasses, I've even got a filter lens, uh sorry to cover on my phone now, um that's made a huge difference and also reversing that process when I wake up in the morning, you know, not exposing myself to mass amounts of light and I even where I look like a cook, but I don't care. I use a mask. Um, so encourage that, you know, complete blackout sort of sensory output. So for me visual stimuli is a huge one but having the time to stop and you know make a routine and a ritual about preparing for sleep, not just watching netflix, it's time to go to bed. Yeah, relaxing in the tub, showering using my breathing techniques before bed.

These are all being beneficial to encourage that um state before going to sleep. Yeah. You make a really good point there mate. We have we have rituals throughout all of our lives. I know when I used to play rugby and I still do it now, I've got a ritual where I'm kind of chilled out, I'm listening to music, I might have a stretch but prior to a game when I'm in the change rooms are always put on my right sock first and then my left sock and then my right boot and then my left boot and then I tie my right shoe laces and my left shoe lace and so on so forth. When I go to the gym, I've got a ritual there, I might take some pre workout um supplementation or have a coffee or something like that. And then I listened to some music to kind of get me in the mood and it's a ritual, we've got a ritual for our morning routine, we've got a ritual um throughout our day like how we set ourselves up for starting work etcetera etcetera. But who really thinks about having a ritual for setting yourself up for a good night's sleep. It's a big part of the process that a lot of people don't really consider um I want to go back to um or I kind of want to make a point here because I asked Adrian in the first episode about which one of those principles was most important to him and something that he said was, you know, he said that fitness for him was the most important thing.

But then he also turned around and said well if I trained well but I haven't slept then I'm going to be feeling like shit, I'm probably gonna make worse decisions with my food etcetera etcetera. So um something interesting that he said was, you know, if obviously nutrition is important, but if you don't eat for a day, you're probably going to be all right. If you don't train for a day, you're probably going to be all right. If you don't sleep for a day, you're going to be in a little bit of trouble. But if you extend that out to a week, obviously if you're not eating for a week, you're probably going to be in a little bit of trouble there, you're going to be hurting, but you're not going to fucking you're not going to die right? If you don't train for a week, you're going to be fine. But if you don't sleep for a week, You're fucked. Yeah, 100%. And you can reflect back on times in the army doing death ops and you know the the craziness that you be with people who sleep deprivation training and it's still amuses me today. Yeah man I've hallucinated so many times when I've when I've been sleep deprived man, you go 34 nights with barely any sleep or only a couple of hours sleep a night man.

And you know it's there's actually research showing that it's um the equivalent to being drunk, like that's how much it fucks up your perceptions, your reactions and everything. Yeah I've definitely been there in the the dangerous side of the um sleep depth through mental health issues as well which we can go into later. That was a very dangerous point of the scale because it was at a point where I was that incoherent from sleep deprivation that people did think I was intoxicated and I was so disorientated. I didn't know where it was and stressing the importance of sleep doesn't necessarily have to be in 18 hour block if you can't get it in that 18 hour block. But if you can get eight hours cumulative over the day, obviously that's it. That's a huge win for instance, I couldn't Get eight hours in one sitting but I could get 3, 3.5 and then throughout my day I'd get another hour here in an hour there etcetera to make up for yeah that's a good point as well, is it's not just about the quantity of sleep, it's also about the quality of sleep and that's where using those tools, like I use an impasse because I've got some ambient light that comes into my room, I live in a complex um and you know, there's lights on in the complex and I can't turn them off, so I use an impasse to try and black out and um I use air plugs as well because sometimes when I'm trying to get to sleep, like sometimes you're highly alert or that low level alert state and you hear every single noise and every single time you're just about to drop off to sleep, you hear something and it kind of snaps you out of that place.

Um So where I want to go from here mate is you said that right now sleep is probably the most important thing for you that you've been addressing on a personal level now. How have you used these other Swiss Eight principles throughout other times of your life? I'm sure that there's been other times in your life where discipline might be more important or mindfulness might be more important or nutrition might be more important. Can you talk to me about that? Yeah, definitely. I mean that's why I began with one doesn't take precedence over another because just like how we evolve with our training for our bodies, So will the process change with our minds and the principles that, and aspects of life that are important at one phase will obviously change if you're still stuck on the one phase for an extended period of time without showing progress well, you need to adapt and modify accordingly. So uh nutrition has been something that I've neglected for a long, long period of time and in relation to the episode that you released in gut health.

And also some of the conversations that um, max and the boys from Swiss eight we're talking about with gut by home etcetera, like that. That really sparked a whole level of inquiry for me that I knew that I've been neglecting for a long time. I'm 100% accountable for. I've never made an excuse for it that really looking at addressing some changes in my diet. So, um I've got my Bs, which I'm going to get further tests and further analysis because I'm just not satisfied with a diagnosis of RBS, I feel it's a bit of a throwaway. Um but yeah, my gut health has just been terrible for some time now. Now I've had a cocktail of medications over the years as well and that's played a huge effect on it as well. And I used the thrive kit um which the boys shared at the end of their episode and just sent it off to the states for a gut by home check and checking your gut flora.

So I found that the information that you provided and what max and the boys discussed in, in that particular area was quite fascinating because as you know, me quite well, I'm a pretty deep thinker and I can get caught up in with deeper layers of philosophy. That's why we get along so well mate. Yeah, definitely. Um, so I would say sleep and nutrition, the two overarching areas that have been focused of the other eight um, time management has been something that everyone has hopefully adjusted accordingly in this period of 2020. Um, because what a fucking year it's been, uh, we're still on lockdown. We're still on lockdown. So it's pretty crazy times. So can you just speak about lockdown for the people that aren't in Melbourne or aren't from Australia that are listening from all over the world? Like what's happening with you guys at the moment?

So in Melbourne, um, we're basically on a stage for lockdown. The rest of the country is partying like it's 1999 and we're sort of like a lot of the lost boys. Um, basically we had to step child. Yeah, yeah, he's stolen the birthday cake and eating it in the corner and not letting anyone else have any, uh, he's covered in crumbs. Um, so we got, we have a strict curfew from eight PM to five AM. We're only allowed out for one hour a day for exercise. Um, You have to wear a mask at all times. The 1.5 million distancing like everyone else. Um all work has been suspended except for a skeleton crew of emergency service workers, very few critical trades. Um, but the economy is in, it is a huge diet or it's in a very dire situation at the moment and will have extreme ramifications for the rest of the country for generations to come.

But the restrictions have been in place. Um, the stage four were four weeks into a six week period, but we've essentially been on restrictions since the beginning of covid nearly seven months. That's crazy man. And we've got to think that that's going to be having, that has to have an impact on people's mental health because we are social creatures. We evolved to be part of communities. We evolved to contribute to our community, our society and people being locked up like that um, has to have an effect on mental health and I think I heard something recently about there being a spike in suicides and things like that recently, particularly in Australia. Do you know much about that. Can you speak about that? Um Unfortunately, yes, so as you know, advocate for mental health and also men's mental health in particular, getting meant to talk about their um, their mental struggles and issues in an open, non, non judging and free form and basically because my work has ceased in a physical capacity, I've been doing roughly 30 hours a week of counseling with members and that's just the veteran and emergency services community.

Sorry, can we just pause there for a moment because I obviously know you very well but we just spoke about the mental health concerns that we have with the covid pandemic. Unfortunately we both got some bad news over the weekend. Our five our our brotherhood um of boys that we served with, got some news that one of the boys took his own life on the weekend. And for me I received that message whilst I was sitting in a cafe having breakfast on sunday morning and I just broke down man, I started crying in the middle of the cafe and I was just getting these weird looks but I didn't really care how did that affect you? Um I share the same sentiments. It sent a huge ripple effect through our whole whole community. Um I found out through a mate and a student that via text message and look rather than that than read it on facebook or see it on social media before someone would notify me.

Unfortunately had to go through this same scenario for countless times now and it doesn't get any better and it doesn't get any easier. And the overwhelming feeling of grief associated with it. A whole lot of mixed emotions man. Yeah, understandable. And just to give a little bit of context to the people listening at home, you are basically a sounding board for a lot of people. You essentially start, we'll get into this in a moment, but you essentially started blind Tiger Yoga to go through use it as an alternate therapy to deal with your own demons. And um then decided to basically start sharing these tools with other people that were dealing with the same thing. Um so your line of work has you dealing with people that are struggling with anxiety, depression, pTSD um other mental health implications. So you are exposed to this a lot, man and I really feel for you bro. Um but what you're doing is absolutely amazing, but it certainly must take its toll to be, you know, hearing news like this fairly regularly from your perspective.

Yeah, look, I think a lot of people here yoga meditation teacher um pretty much along the lines of your episode with mindfulness about blissed out hippies that don't really provides a society. I've got a good chuckle out of that um and there's a lot of them that are exactly that, but with what I do in the unique nature and what I'm actually doing. Um and the way that we have means of communication these days dealing with on average on top of my work, week 20-30 hours of just responding to people's cry out for mental health assistance. Now you've got to look at our society and go if whole range of veterans professionals, even mental health professionals contacting a yoga and meditation teacher in regards to their mental health that just goes to show, but there is a fracture in our community.

Yes, there most certainly is. And it's one of those, it's one of those things, man, we live in this society where it is essentially the safest time in human history to be alive. We've basically, particularly in the Western world, we've got everything we want at the touch of a finger tip and people don't really, in my opinion, people have lost the ability to deal with adversity. Oh definitely, I mean there's there's still so much stigma around men's mental health and may I copped it at the full front of it and took it on the chin numerous times and I get it, and I have a lot of compassion for guys regardless of what the situation that they might be dealing with, but it also can become deafening. Um I see a different element of the veteran community that very few people are exposed to. And I think a lot of people go into helping this community without the full comprehension of how heavy it can get.

People just see the space that you provide for, a place for them to switch off to learn new tools to adapt to them, physical and mental health, um to work on their performance etcetera, but they don't see or even get to experience the countless hours of work that is all off my own back with, no intention of reward. And it's just because I didn't have that, I didn't have any of that. And I understand how critical of a role it is to have someone to be able to facilitate that. Yeah, you are providing a brilliant service for people, but you also need to look after yourself. And we've spoken about this numerous times affair in our own personal conversations because I know what you're like, man, I know that you give, give, give, give give, but you also need to look after yourself because you can't pull from an empty cup, right? Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Well, I've I've had three burnouts in four years and you know about this quite intimately and I think of talking about it openly because there's so many, there's so many snake oil salesman in the industry that are pretending like that they've got their shit sorted and that this higher enlightened being when you uh yeah, you are not resilient.

It's not it's not resilient, but you are not any different from being exposed to all these range of human emotions because you practice yoga meditation, you're a fucking hypocrite if you think that you're not going to be exposed to that and you're going to feel the effects of it. But definitely the practice does help in dealing with it. Yeah, of course. And for me, all of these things are tools, right? So again, going back to the principles of swiss say like each one of those tools need to be applied at the appropriate time to elicit the correct response, you know, one is not more important than the other, it's the seasons of life, right? We go through the seasons of life where you know, maybe our relationships are the most important thing that we want to work on because we're a little bit rocky, so we need to, you know, that means we need to sacrifice in other areas of our life, so we need to build those relationships, build that report, build that trust, build that loyalty, and then once that's good, then maybe we need to work on our career, maybe we need to do some personal growth, some self education and all that type of stuff.

So for me it's looking at all of these things and like you said, it's symbiotic, like all of these things work well together, but it's about prioritizing what's going to bring you the best results and give you the biggest bang for buck at the appropriate time in your life. Yeah, definitely. And look if something is not working for you, you've got to have the ability to step back and go, you know what? The fact that I've tried this, the fact that I've been open minded to give it a crack and I don't mean once or twice and then going, no, that's shit, give it a proper crack. Um but the fact that you've given it a go, that means that you're open minded to try something else and I think that's a fundamental aspect of your own personal growth as well. Yeah, that's the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Yeah, definitely, definitely. But you know, I'm, unfortunately, I've, I've probably dealt with more suicide than the average person my age have been to more funerals in the last two years that I've been to weddings in my entire life.

Um, you know, and seeing how people respond and relate and express grief is been a quite interesting process. There's no right way to do it. There's no wrong way to do it. That I guess out of the weekend is still fresh of it. It's only a couple of days ago along with the shock and the processing of everything that's associated with the terrible loss of craig and what it's doing to his friends, his family, his loved ones. I've also felt a sense of gratitude, gratitude of where I'm at my own personal journey now, I don't mean that with any disrespect to anyone in any way, shape or form. This is just my personal experience, but the journey that I'm on and where it's taken me to now. I could have been that dude from a permanent solution to a temporary problem and understanding, I understand the thought process actually taking the action of causing self harm, but also now that I'm working with guys that are dealing with a whole range of stuff going on and just humans, I can physically see it in others when they're not looking the best or when you can almost predetermine that there's some combat indicators that things aren't going the best for them.

I mean, I remember looking at a picture of Robin Williams maybe 10 years ago and I was like, he's going to tell himself, and even just listening to the words of Anthony Bourdain and going, wow, there's a lot of pain there, and I think that the gratitude that I've got from this whole scenario is the appreciation of how long it takes in this journey to hell, Some don't make it, and some are just starting their process. Look at all the guys that have come together from the battalion and they are talking and communicating with each other, reaching out, expressing nothing but love and kindness to each other. It is the epitome of the warrior Monk. In my my mind is that you can be equal parts warrior and equal parts Monk at the appropriate application. So, in this pain and suffering and loss that's happened, it made me actually go out and just be reborn with life in the morning and just go, I'm fucking grateful for the people and things in my life right now and there's no shame in telling people that you love them and you care for them and yep, I didn't have that years ago when I was in that frame of mind and it was just momentary point that stopped me from doing it second.

Yeah, yeah man, I, and I've known you through the entire process and I've seen, I saw you spiral down, I saw you get into a deep dark hole and I've also seen you climb your way out of that place. Do you mind sharing how you got to that point where you were in a dark place and you were thinking those thoughts? Let's share that story first. And then I want, I want to talk about the tools that you've used to, I kind of dig your way out of that place and get to the point that you are at now and and basically share the tools and the um the protocols that you've used to um basically turn things around to be at a point where you do wake up in the morning and you are grateful for life and you do have a purpose and you do have a direction. Yeah, look, um I was at a point post afghan, um my drinking got out of control um to a point that, you know, I was drinking a carton of beer and a bottle of whiskey before I'd meet the boys for pre drinks, you know, I had a high tolerance for it and even though I'd be blackout drunk people will be like, you stood straight, you had a conversation with me for hours, you know, you had had a bull is fine and for your the man, yeah, you know in your head you're thinking, oh look, you know, I'm having a great time, but the guilt that was associated the next day and relationship broke down, obviously we lost a couple of guys on our trip, still processing everything, but also my family, which was my mate rural exiting, you know, and I had a lot of physical injuries that I needed attention.

Um my time to process and transition out wasn't at a hand at that stage, and I remember going in to work several times and saying, look, I think I've got some issues around, I know I've got some issues around drinking and I need some help and because I was such a functioning alcoholic and I think we all were yeah, we were the fittest functioning alcoholic. I remember like, you know, I'd be at the pub or the bottle, maybe five in the morning and then six AM battle pt stomping, and I'd be at the front of the pack, you know, giving people banter and I remember getting punishment push ups and just just laughing because they just weren't going to break me and and I remember talking to the boss and he just goes, rosie not only are you meeting and going above the standard, but it's not impacting your work. I mean, I studied a couple of degrees by correspondents whilst serving a full time career and I was holding down all these things that my personal life was just spiraling out of control.

And it got to a point where I was about it's getting quite frustrated because all these mechanisms were in place. If you've got problems with this, talk to this person, if you've got problems with that, there were structures in place, but when I actually went to go get the help that I thought that was in place, I was quite shattered because I was like, no one is taking me serious because I was always the the angry optimist, you know, I was quite aggressive, but I was also which you needed to be to be a soldier, definitely needed to be aggressive, you know, that that was the culture and that was the appropriate um matter to behave to a point now when I was asking for help and people were paying me off and my sleep was getting worse, my injuries, I was still waiting on further surgeries, et cetera. My shoulder was popping out what, 14 times a day I'd get people at the pub to either bring it back in on the wall or I think everyone in the battalion had to go and put my shoulder back in at some point.

And I remember I went about I can't remember correctly, but I believe it was a week, a week or so without sleep. And I had about You know, 2030 minute bursts here and there. But I wasn't sleeping at all. And I remember I was cleaning my rifle at home, my personal rifle and I was just like, oh, I know how I'm going to get rest, you know, literally sleep drunk and I was just like a couple of couple emotions, Magowan chamber the round, put it in the mouth and squeeze. And I had literally my mouth and the barrel in a split second. I thought to myself, holy shit, my mates going to come home and see this, then there's going to be the poor police officer that has to come in and do that, That's going to screw him up as well. And then I had all this, it was like an expanded view very, very quickly in a very it was a fraction of a second I unloaded the rifle, put it on the bench and I left, I just walked out of the apartment.

I vividly recall that because steno fucking called me freaking out man and he's like the right those rifles on the bench, there's rounds there, the bolts missing. Like, I don't know where Rosie is and I was like, holy fuck man, we need to, we need to find him. Yeah. And look, I I was in a pretty dark place, It was in a really dark place and I didn't know for one of the first times in my life, I didn't know how to articulate what was going on. And I was picked up by a police car halfway to Catherine walking from Darwin to Catherine, No idea, no phone or wallet or nothing. And the police couldn't, couldn't believe that I've walked that far. And I remember the next day, they were really cool. They were just unbelievable about the whole thing. And that was just like, man, like you look, you look haggard, like you look haggard. And I went to the RFP the next day because my feet were just cut to absolute crap.

And it wasn't until a civilian nurse name is Sue Jamison, I think is the name Sue Jefferson. She was a very eccentric lady, just larger than life, but heart of Gold. She saw me in the waiting room and she came over and spoke to me and I said, I need to help. And she's just like, you're not doing too well. I, and I'm like, I told her what had happened and you know, I had a chat to her and everything like that. And it wasn't a premeditated thing. It was just a series of events that packed upon events upon events. And it was a momentary lapse in judgment that could have been a permanent solution. So that was my introduction to two suicide, I guess and suicide ideation. And I didn't, you know, as soon as I got, she gave me some sleeping tablets and I slept for nearly two days and I went back into work and then I got referred to uh army psych and they asked me about how much cricket I watched overseas and deployment and I was just like, what the fuck?

Looking around? Just thinking, am I on like a prank or something like what, what do you think I did on deployment? Where are you talking about? Yeah, and I was just like you're a boob and he said to me, he goes, can you explain to me what the infantry does? I'm just like, if I have to explain to you what we do, then this ain't gonna work. And I ended up getting um it was at a point where I had my physical surgeries for shoulders and everything else for people at home. Of what, 16 surgeries to date and I was lying in hospital and all my physical, all my physical coping mechanisms, boxing, rugby surfing, you name it, everything was taken away from me, you know, and the damage that was to my shoulders in particular was quite extensive, that I was basically told, you know, your career is dumb.

Now I had at that point to fit force face everything that I've been mentally putting away and suppressing for so long. And if I didn't have a basis in meditation and techniques that I've used since I was a teenager made that it probably could have been a a second attempt if I didn't have that understanding and that those skill sets and those tools that were available to me, that is great awareness and this is this is a good point. I just want to pause here for a moment for the listeners to be able to take some lessons from this is that there's going to be times in your life where certain coping mechanisms that you have used in the past no longer work or they're no longer applicable in that certain situation. So you essentially buried those thoughts and emotions and you channeled your aggression um in a physical manner.

And once that physical capability was taken away from you, you had to front up and face the mental side of things. Can you talk about the different tools that you used to help you deal with that process, it's got polarities to right now to people in Melbourne, you know, our physical outlets are social outlets that people are accustomed to have been taken away from people. Choice has been taken away from people and that's probably one of the hardest things that people aren't addressing. Now when I was faced with the position that you're most likely going to be medically discharged due to your injured, the severity of your injuries, my physical body gave out, then my mental capacity gave out. It wasn't my mental and then my physical, it was the other way around. So for me, I was forced if well I can't do these things. So I need to be able to adapt and modify.

I need to be able to and this is ingrained in our training. He's a task, get it done. I don't care how you get it done. Just get it done. Just don't do anything illegal or if you or if you don't get caught. Yeah. Yeah, don't get caught, don't tell me about it, deny, deny, deny. Um and look, I thought to myself and I had this time of processing that, well what it is in my control, what can I control? What is the variables here that I can control? The breath straight away? The breath just coming back to the breath, understanding the breath again. And it's something that we so overlook such simple in nature Yet 75% of us are doing it incorrectly. Yeah. Who gets, who gets taught how to breathe? Yeah. Well pretty much um it was lost in Western culture. I mean it's been the techniques and teachings have been around for thousands and thousands of years, but we lost this particular around about 10,000 10,000 Bc.

Um but I could go into that at a later stage or another podcast, but breathing techniques and then awareness and then looking at the realities of what I can do. So what was in control of my immediate environment and this was a moment where I said to myself, not only is this physical stage of recovery going to be a long period of time, but the mental aspect is going to be even longer. Yeah, it's going to be probably four times the amount of time than the physical aspect. Yeah. And so I just want to pause you there for a moment because I don't want to I don't want to let this conversation get too far away and then have to come back. But one thing that I always say is that we can only live four minutes without oxygen. We can live four days without water, 40 days without food and 40 plus years without exercise. What do you think Most people focus on?

People go to fitness first usually and then they pay off breathing and sleep probably last. Um you know, very few of them like, oh look at some of the high performance athletes that I've talked to coming over to Tiger muay thai and teaching over there. I'm looking at some of the UFC fighters and looking at how they breathe and I'm just like, oh I would love to have some time with them to just talk about breathing and the amazing thing about the space in which you are teaching and facilitating in over in Thailand is that people are actually there for performance. So they listened, they take it on board. Yeah, 100 percent men. I told this story on one of my reason. I think it was a mindfulness podcast but I was telling the story about how he'd been in Afghanistan for a couple of weeks and shameless. My sniper team leader got shot, put him on a helicopter within an hour. The rest of our sniper team almost was blown up by an I.

D. That luckily didn't go off and there was a period of a couple of weeks there where where I couldn't sleep and I recall talking to you about this many years later um and saying you know, I literally just focused on my breath. Like I I couldn't I was running what if scenarios in my mind and it was keeping me up at night and I couldn't get to sleep. I was waking up fucking tired um you know, which was which was affecting my ability to perform as a soldier. And I literally just started focusing on my breath and counting my breaths every night and you looked at me and you're like you know you're meditating, you know you're practicing mindfulness and I was like okay yeah, yeah. I still remember that day were on the front of the boat, just about just post first dive because I was watching you. Um I've been diving for shit, you know since before I could walk and I remember watching you in the water, you're the only dude that I've ever met even in the commercial diving industry that doesn't use wait yeah, you know not not even a weight belt just for accessories.

I'm a rock. I just think no, but I look at it from a different perspective is that someone that can do that has an unbelievable amount of self control with their breath. You know, and it is a is a skill that we pay off for people that are listening at home. One of the most insightful books that I've read recently is called breathe by James Nestor. Um if you he's got audio book as well, he's done a podcast with joe Rogan, the research that he's done in regards to the origins of breathing techniques, etcetera. It's phenomenal if there's one book to buy this year, is that I'm going to get onto that. I'm just going back to what you were saying before about the breath now for those listening at home. I have spoken about this in the past on previous podcast, but Tristan was the mastermind behind getting a partial grant from the Australian government to qualify 10 veterans in his style of yoga to take back to their networks and be able to use that as an alternate therapy for people dealing with anxiety and depression and being able to manage their mind through being able to manage their breath work.

And that's an interesting point is we can elicit different responses with our breath. For example, if I start hyperventilating, that's going to increase my heart rate, my respiratory rate. That's going to put my brain or my autonomic nervous system into a sympathetic state, which is essentially fight or flight. Whereas I can go the other way and I can slow my breathing down and I can do some box breathing and I can take long in house and even longer exhales and that's going to drive the parasympathetic nervous system, which is rest and digest. Now I use this with my fighters. If I've got them training hard for five minutes, for example, then they've got one minute rest in between rounds, the 1st 30 seconds of that one minute rest. I'm getting them to take these nice deep, long, slow breaths. So instead of walking out into the second round where their heart rates still up at 170 beats per minute. Now they focus on that breath work, they drive that parasympathetic nervous system, they down regulate that heart rate And now they're walking out into the second round where their heart rates at 120 beats per minute.

So then they can work a lot harder for a lot longer, definitely, definitely. So rosie from here, may I want to rewind a little bit back to that transition period of getting out of the army because for a lot of veterans discharging and getting back into the civilian populace. That is a difficult transition process. And I've spoken about this before in in social media posts and previous podcasts and things like that. But it is very fucking hard to go from a situation where you're working with highly professional soldiers in this highly sympathetic driven state where you're constantly alert you constantly on the lookout for danger to then getting into the civilian population and having to deal with people that maybe aren't as professional orders, aren't as disciplined, aren't as reliable. How was that process for you And what were the tools that you use to kind of help you deal with that process? Because I know that I had to I had to reinstate my S.

O PS. My standard operating procedures that I had in the army. Once I got out I just stopped getting out of bed at the same time and I stopped shaving and I stopped training and I stopped doing all of these things that have made me such a good soldier, but I very soon realized that I was floating and I had to reinstate and repurpose those standard operating procedures. And once I started rebuilding that structure back into my life, you know the things started falling into place and I started moving in the direction that I wanted to be. Can you talk to me about your process? Yeah. So look I I had a shocking transition to be honest, my exit from the defense force wasn't great. Um And there's a number of variables to that um That it also came down to the education that was available to people at the time as well. You know, the expectation that your combat leaders, officers etcetera, they're not mental health clinicians, you know, they're dealing with their own stuff as well.

So you've got a whole bunch of people that dealing with a whole range of their own shit, their own life. Everyone is dealing with their own story, right? And trying to navigate this, my coping structures and people that I would go to like you guys were all transitioning out and I'm not exactly as tight with my family as as most people would be. I really felt that I was very isolated and I was doing it alone. It was a very short period of time that I had to cram a lot of education in about diagnosis is an understanding and comprehension of depression and of anxiety etcetera. I had to seek specialists myself. It was a civilian duct up that referred me to her civilian psychiatrist and it took maybe seven psychiatrists to hit the right one You know, the trust process, everything that was involved with.

That was a long, painstaking frustrating and at points and times, that's when I probably did have a point of, I'm going even further down backwards because the support structures that are in place aren't working. I had one particular specialist that um she said, tell me what's on your mind and I said, I don't think you want to handle what I want to unload. And she goes, I deal with veterans and she got really high on a horse and I just fucking rip that band Aid off and she got up, she burst into tears crying, got up, walked out, left the door open and didn't come back and I was just like, she probably went called her so well yeah look um I had the receptionist come in and say look we're going to have to refer to someone else and I'm just like these are the supposedly leading experts in veteran mental health at the time.

And then I tried another specialist and they like, I will do E. M. D. R. Therapy and they said this is the phrasing was around this was that this is your last resort. And I just laughed at it. It just didn't do anything for me. And I remember going to the pub afterwards and thinking to myself, let's just break down that phrasing that this is your last resort. Now someone with less mental fortitude, this could be the moment that they tap out. I've tried everything so therefore I'm going to submit. But as I said to myself, no, I'm actually going to, you know, it takes me back to the japanese proverb of uh Nanako roby Yoki, which is full down seven times. Get up about perseverance. You know, it's ingrained in this and like, yes, I might be struggling. Yes, I might not be at the physical capacity that it used to be. Yes, it might not be at the mental capacity that I used to be. However, I'm going to try someone else and I finally hit the right one and he's amazing.

Um, the process around my discharge of you look fine and the culture of you look fine in men's mental health as well of not looking for the combat indicators and understanding what people look like when they're struggling as well was a whole education process in itself. But there was a huge amount of humiliation and a huge amount of ridicule when I did put my hand up and openly say, hey guys, I'm struggling And I'm seeing a professional about it and I had 11 people remember it clear as day openly laugh at me and I remember just going to myself, I'm going to use that as ammunition to get better. I'm going to use that as a miniature to persevere and get through this and overcome this the best of my ability. You know what, It's still a work in process, I'm still working on it. But nine out of those 11 people or contacted me months down the track or years down the track saying I need help.

And I didn't use that as a point to go, ha ha, I use that as a point of just going, great, we're changing the narrative, we can talk about this. But I was openly ridiculed by people that I thought that cared about me, civilian friends that I couldn't relate to or talk to my whole world experience was completely changed. Um, and not having that circle of mates around me that I could just quietly just sit in a room, not even say anything that's quite acknowledgement. So I had to find this growth process myself and it was on reflection when you think about it that when choices taken away from you, when choices taken away from you that you have to leave from medical reasons that changes the relationship to the grieving process of leaving If you know that you can go back. I did 10 years and I planned on being in for life, you know, so exiting from the military wasn't on my plan, my radar.

So this this whole process was sort of like I have to navigate this but not only the, the process itself that I had to educate my girlfriend, I had to educate my family on stuff that I just thought was basic, basic knowledge, you know, have you heard the or you're bound to a field, the expression, what's wrong with you? People just use that in conversation or people saying there's nothing worse then and then start putting something trivial behind it. I hear that all the time but fucking grinds my gears. There's nothing worse than a flat soy chai latte or whatever it is and you just like go talk to a do with testicular cancer. I'm pretty sure that that trumps your chai latte, but yeah, it's all about perspective, right, definitely. And look I after I discharge like getting into yoga meditation more deeper in and finding that pathway and using the tools filtering through all the bullshit that was buried, there's so many golden nuggets that's buried in there, but we have culturally misappropriated um a lot of the practices to make it into this scene rather than this practice is why so many people run away from it.

And I was using these tools Complimentary, just like the eight principles and being a symbiotic relationship to it is that I needed to put them in practice, I needed to put them in motion. I needed to try unconventional methods that didn't fit the ordinary mold because I'd reached their capacity. So what I'm, what I'm taking from that is that you were accountable and you talk ownership for your own shit and went, well, this therapist is not working for me, I need to go and find another one and I need to educate myself, I need to read books, I need to listen to audio books, I need to listen to podcasts, I need to go and do my own research so that I can get to the bottom of this and I can find the tools that are going to be appropriate for me at the appropriate time, definitely. I mean that you've just hit the golden, the golden piece of knowledge that should be parted on to every single individual and this came in a shocking way and reality to me is that No one is coming to help, yep, no one is coming to help, there is no support team, there is no CAS eVAC that's going to come out and you know, make sure that you're okay and this, this whole perception that there is all these services and support networks that are out there etcetera, you have to do the freaking work, you have to put in those hours, you have to put in that effort, No one can do that, but you now in that sort of mindset when people say to me, well, like I remember you as this aggressive dude that used to love the beers and punching on and rugby etcetera and everything like that and I get a smile and go, well this is still part of me that does love that, but but but I also practice yoga and meditation, I use it as a tool, warrior Monk, the warrior monk now in that process and in being accountable, the thousands upon thousands of hours that have put into my own practice the thousands upon thousands of different books, the different courses, the different modalities to look at has been inexhaustible, you name it, and I'm I'm probably going to give some time into reading about it and going into it now in this process of changing and putting the time and effort in.

I noticed something as well from particularly from the veteran community and that was that people weren't letting me change people's perception of me wasn't changing and it wasn't until they have met them face to face again, that they were like whole like I previously stated, and it was like, oh this guy's got a mental health problem or etcetera etcetera. I'm trying to step away from the story and evolve. I look at that point where I had that temporary moment lapse in judgment where I almost made a permanent decision as the best thing that's ever happened to me because I wouldn't be where I am right now in the issues doing what I'm doing and finding my own way, trying to figure it all out if I hadn't been at the bottom of the lowest lows of the lows. But now I like to look at myself that your idea of me is not my responsibility to live up to.

If you remember me from that person in the past, that's fine, but can I introduce you to me now? I love that, you know, and some some people don't accept it, that some people do, man and I've gone up and mended relationships with people that were tainted because of those periods in my life where I didn't handle things the best and I went up with full accountability and an open heart and said I'm sorry for my actions at that point in time in my life. I hope that we can move on, trying my best to to live a better life etcetera. I hope that you can find it within yourself to accept my apology and we can establish a friendship. And I've had grown men open up and cry and that in itself just shows people can change. People definitely can change as well.

If you're allowing to do it, you need to be allowing if you want to change. If you want to change. One of my favorite sayings is before you heal someone ask if they're willing to give up the things that are making them sick definitely. I mean I hate to to go back to the the notion of self harm. But I had a very powerful experience two years ago when I had two suicides 5 days apart and the first guy told me that he had intentions of self harm for an extended period of time and I got him into hospitals, specialists helped him with different medications, et cetera. Like that. Really tried to navigate as best I could in the limited capacity that I had at my disposal. And I got a call one day from a clinician saying we need to have a chat to and I'm thinking, oh shit, what have I done wrong?

And I was losing so much sleep over it and he goes, we need to chat to you because he's going to do it. He's going to take his own life. You just need to prepare yourself for. And he was released from the facility, jumped out of a cab leaving the facility and jumped in front of a train and the second suicide that happened five days later, I was only talking to the individual two weeks prior and that individual said to me, look this is fucked, develop this, this, this, this and this, this this and just went on this huge tangent. And I just asked him, I said, so what are you doing for yourself? And he said, what do you mean? And I probably sent through four a four pages of triple column modalities of things that he could try. And he said, I've been to the pool twice in the last year and straight away. I was just like that's the level of effort. You know, it's sort of, it was sort of insulting me that the amount of time and effort that I've put into my own recovery and those eight principles in particular, you know, and the dedication that I've put in applying them and being accountable for when they are and are not working and how to test and adjust.

And then I found out about a suicide. Now the lessons to take away from that is the first one. You can't help someone that's mind is made up. Uh if their if their mind is made up in something in any aspect in life, good luck trying to change it, lost so much energy and time and emotion and stress because of that unfortunate scenario. And then the 2nd 1 just didn't want to change 1 1's mind was made up, the other one just didn't want to put in any effort and I won't say their names. Um but It was just two polarities within five days and I was just like and there's so much that I can take away from that. Yeah I hope that people that are listening can look at that and go wow if you want change to happen, what's your mechanism of apple application?

Whether it be a tool like the swiss side, whether it be it could be the most obscure thing. I mean for me yoga do you know like ex rugby player more german you know um ultra heavy weight me getting into yoga, it was so freaking obscure but it was my jet. It worked. Yeah so that was the that was the right tool for you at that time. And you know what? The tools will change. My meditation has changed so much since I was 15 to now that I'm 35 that I know that prime example I used to get up at 3 55 every morning practice for two hours in the morning, two hours before bed. Religiously I got my 10,000 hours of self practice down part within a year. And then yeah like a very very short space. And that was just that was just personal practice at home and then there would be practice at the studio and then there would be private and then they would be trainings and all that sort of stuff.

So there was a lot of self work in that area that now, like it used to take me 36 minutes to 19 minutes to start switching off now 35 minutes. Oh yeah, I don't need it in that capacity anymore. I don't need to do that much of it because I've tuned in to what I need to take away from it, I can cut out all what doesn't serve me. I know the pathway which works for me as an individual and then I can go all I need, it's five minutes now, long days of the gone gone of me going on 10 day silent meditation retreats, meditating from four in the morning till 9, 10 o'clock at night and silence, you know, I can get that same benefit from a 10 day silent retreat In five minutes now. Yeah, I just want to pause you there for a moment because that for me is a very important lesson.

One Is that you did that 10 day silent retreat, so you've been there, you've experienced that, You took the lessons from it, but now you can get those same benefits with 5 to 10 minutes. I think that's the important thing to take away here is that a lot of people don't fucking try something and then they try it once and they go, oh that didn't work for me consistency man, you need to fucking step up? You need to be consistent? You need to do these things every day. Here's the thing, I got this from a strength and conditioning coach and one of his philosophy is, one of his sayings was, is that if it's important, do it every day. Yeah, make 100% look. Um I walked out of my 1st 3 yoga classes and the teacher just cornered me in the hallway, I'm like, don't trap in, you're gonna get an elbow or knee and and she just said, tristan, you can't pick up a rifle and be a great shot the first time, you can't lift weights and be ripped a wish, but if I had the chassis of either you or Heston Russell, I'd be a pretty happy man, but that's just not my reality.

Um maybe in the next lifetime, but I said to myself, I'm going to go back, I'm going to go back, you know, I'm just going to go back and put this through its paces because I've never quit anything in my life and for me to just walk away from it and dismiss it without peeling some layers away. I remember being on the map and finding the right practice for me and is the first time that I cried and I don't know how long, maybe since I was a child? And I was like, what, what's this? Subcutaneous fluid coming from my teeth like from, from my eyes? I was just like looking at it just like, am I sweating like is it hard? And I'm just like, oh, this is what an emotion is. Well, you know, but you know, and I literally six months prior went over to the UK to bury my dad, not a tear was shit and it was in the, on a yoga mat with the right facilitator, the right block that worked for me in the right language, in the right setting, that I started to learn these tools to peel back things and I made time for it and it just hit at a point that now I wasn't like connecting into different chakras and all this, like people might say and different theories, et cetera like that, it was the first time that the connection of my body and mind was in a non physical capacity, like I would find through boxing or surfing or you know, rugby etcetera, it was, it was pretty profound and I was like, I need to make more time time for this, this becomes a priority.

And it's the same with nutrition when you find the benefits are going to start working for you, make time for it, when you start saying, you know, the effects of how much sleep will change for you, you make more time for you, make time for those things like you said, that will give you impact and if something doesn't work for, you, just try something else, try the next level. Yeah, exactly, you will never run out of tools that are on this planet. And if you're the type of person that says I've tried it all well I'm sorry. Yeah, yeah, remember when we were hiking, so after discharge, we're hiking through Nepal, um you know, just got into commercial diving, um playing around with under or underwater explosives and stuff. And we went hiking in Nepal and you went south to India and I stayed in Nepal for a bit and I was at this um the Himalayan yoga institute and I was just resisting everything and I tell the story quite often in my classes because the relevance is, is pretty relevant, relevance is relevant uh is um is pretty on par with the veteran community and he saw that I was resisting everything, I wanted to get involved with things, but I was just like, man, this is too out there and he goes tomorrow morning, five a.m. Maybe on top of the hill.

I'm like, That's interesting. That's how you get your organs harvested. Just uh running off with a strange Yogi and top of the hill and there was probably 200 odd um nepalese people on this hill At like 5:00 AM. And I'm just thinking, man, this is, they're looking at me, selves, I'm looking at themselves, I'm already planning my escape route and everything. I'm just like I'm going to choke that guy out first and then move to this and blah blah blah and then they're slaughtering Ox over in the corner. Yeah, I'm just like, oh man, I can't be in some satanic worship right now or I could love it, but people started these two lines and he got, saw the teacher has come over here because every morning for the last couple of 100 years this town has been doing this and you grab your hand with the person in front of you, you shake their hands, lock eyes and you laugh and I was just like, oh man, this is, I don't want to do this.

I was just like, no, I don't want to do this. And I had this Mr Miyagi looking dude slash um grandpa Simpson guy walk over and they muddled something to each other in napoli's and just like, he's got more wrinkles in his face than pork crackling and Gordon Ramsay's forehead combined and I'm just like, how am I going to laugh with this dude? And he grabbed me the strongest gripped and just went, his face just lit up like a christmas tree and I just lost it and then you would move on to the next person and then the next person and the next person and at the end of it, you were in just such this elated state and then I spoke to him afterwards and he goes, you go see what happens when you start like, you know, just immersing yourself in things and when I was walking back down this, this massive heel, it dawned on me that if I wasn't allowing, if I was resistant to that and I wanted to be angry grunt of no joy angry sergeant.

You know, um, I wouldn't have been, I wouldn't have been able to see that experience for the amazing opportunity that it was and I realized how I was living my life and how I wanted to change and how I didn't want to be the angry person, the former version of myself that was useful at the time. But I needed to evolve and I use that in my teaching all the time about resistance and allowing a place on a map in meditation is where I can allow myself to just be present with what's happening. And I think that if you look at every single principle that is in the suicide app, if you look at every single modality of health, well being, unless you're allowing to give it a go an open heartedly go and laugh at it and just go, hey, I tried this, this didn't work. You know, cool man. The fact that you gave it a crack and if anyone laughs at you in a negative way, no, you don't need them in their life.

We laugh at what we don't know, especially in Australian culture. We laugh at what we don't know, we pay it out, it's easy to pay things out and laugh at it, but if you're allowing and go I'm just gonna get amongst this and give it a crack, this is a pretty amazing things can happen. And I've taken that aspect from that moment forward to where I am now And I've talked to over 11, a 1000 veterans and emergency services in four years with no government support, no external funding or any initiatives from anyone. And I think to myself, if I wasn't allowing to put myself in the most uncomfortable place that of everybody in my entire life, I found my place in life of literally just holding that space and teaching people tools to reconnect with themselves in a non software. Just a complete neutral way that people can get some benefits from switch off and move on with their life and when this stops working for me I'll move on to the next thing and when that stops working I'll move on to the next thing after that mate, that is extremely fucking powerful man.

Thank you very much for sharing that. I'm just mindful of the time mate, I've got to start wrapping it up. But the name of this podcast is live train perform and that stands for live life to the fullest trains your potential and perform at your best. What does that mantra mean for you straight away when I hear it a smile and just think sean co but it's not only your business ethos, that's that's the way that you live your life, which I love. Um some people don't know how to take you because you are so direct and straightforward but I love I love that. It really works for me now. I think of when I hear that the parallel to that to me is from Benavente Vanna Bonta, sorry Cellini, I think the pronunciation is incorrect there, but The quote is a 50 renaissance man and he says that the a well rounded man should be an artist, a warrior and a philosopher and I think that you've embodied that in your live train perform mate.

Thank you so much. That means a lot coming from you man, I'm very proud of who you are, my friend. Um I'm really grateful to call you one of my best mates. I am absolutely behind you 100% of the way with everything that you're doing. I'm proud to also Be an ambassador alongside yourself for the Swiss eight model and it's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show mate. Um I really appreciate your time and I fucking love you bro I love you too. And look I wouldn't be the man I am today without you helping me along the way. So full kudos to you, my friend, cheers, rosie, we'll chat soon. The western world is in the middle of a mental health crisis and our veterans have taken action Swiss, its team of combat veterans have built a proactive mental health program that is delivered through a mobile app. The app offers users programs in eight categories of health and lifestyle, all proven to reduce anxiety and depression. This holistic model forms your daily routine, aiding you to build structure, improve discipline and take ownership of your life.

Once these habits are formed, the app will teach you new skills, skills that can form identity purpose and encourage physical interaction to rebuild your tribe and reduce isolation.

Episode 32: Swiss 8 Mini Series: Tristan Rose of Blind Tiger Yoga
Episode 32: Swiss 8 Mini Series: Tristan Rose of Blind Tiger Yoga
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