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#64: Fasting, Shamans & Facing Fear - Dave Asprey

by FitMind LLC
February 2nd 2021

Dave Asprey is the Founder of Bulletproof, a 3x NY Times bestselling author, and regarded as the father of biohacking.

Dave's an expert on peak mental and physical performance. He als... More

I found a study that says 15 and up to 50% of thoughts in people's heads are about what's for their next meal. And that's kind of ridiculous, because those thoughts could be going towards and making the world a better place towards your career, towards your family, towards anything, right. But it's just wasted energy. You ate some food, you breathe some air, you made electrons, and then you thought about more food. Hello and welcome to the Fit Mind podcast, where I speak with experts on the mind from neuroscientists and psychologists amongst Navy seals. They share cutting edge research, fascinating stories and proven advice for creating fit mind, one that's full of focus, vitality and joy. I'm your host, Liam the founder, fit mind, a mental fitness company and a reminder to check out the fit mine meditation App, which teaches dozens of the world's most advanced and effective meditation techniques drawn from remote Himalayan caves and now supported by recent neuroscience research

. Okay, my guest today is Dave Asprey, who is the founder of Bulletproof, a three time New York Times best selling author and regarded as the father of bio hacking. He's also got a neuroscience company and has been featured a number of programs, including CNN, The Today Show and Dr Oz. Dave's an expert on peak mental and physical performance. And today you'll hear about his insane adventures with shamans, how fasting benefits the mind and much more. Here we go, Dave, Thanks for coming on the Fifth Mind podcast. I'm super happy to be here, Liam. So you've been all over the world, learning from experts about how toe optimize your mind and your body and also experimenting on yourself and really figuring out what works. I'd love to hear specifically about what you learn from shamans. I was reading a bit about those adventures. I just wrote a new book called Fast This Way, which is based that the journey of the book is based on something that I learned from a shaman

and I realized that I had as a £300 former £300 guy. I had a fear of being hungry because I learned if I don't need six times a day, I'll go into starvation mode and then I'll get help quickly, bitchy. And so there was just this voice in my head is like if you don't eat, you're not safe, right? And I said, All right, I am going to just face that I'm going to hire a shaman to drop me off in a cave for four days into a vision quest with no food. Therefore, I won't eat and I'll just have to face the fear. And I also realized that I had a fear of just being alone. And a lot of people have this and I'm a rational computer science kind of guy. I wouldn't say I walk around the feeling that consciously, but it was an unconscious thing. And when I paid attention to what was going on and like, Yikes, you know, I have this And so my practice has always been. If I'm afraid of something, whatever it is, I'm gonna go do it unless it's something like jumping in a volcano where that's, you know, self preservation is different than fear. So

I hired a shaman and went out to Sedona, and she said, All right, I know Cave and she took me out and dropped me off in a cave and said, You know, I'll be back in four days. Every morning I want you to Thio, turn on your phone. This is before smartphones. 2000 and eight iPhone came out in 2009. So, you know, turn on your phone for one minute and text me and say that you're alright and I'll send you a text is well and otherwise you know, don't and you're to be completely alone. Problem was the first day, she said. Well, there's another person who is going to be fasting. So you'll you'll both doing in silence. But you'll both be in the same cave. So I did the first day in a cave where I was with another person. We didn't talk, but the whole I want to face down my fear of loneliness. I was feeling unsatisfied about it, so I was just thinking myself. Maybe I should walk to another cave because she told me about this other cave somewhere nearby. I bet I would find it, and

the next morning I turn on my phone and she says, Pack up your stuff, come to the trailhead. I'll be there at nine. I'm taking it to the other cave, and I'm like, What the hell eso I asked her in the car Like, how did you know? She's I told you I'd be watching over you last night. You were? You're telling yourself that you wanted to go to the other cave, so I'm taking you there. Okay. What have I learned from shamans? There are people who are more sensitive than others. And sometimes they know stuff that they shouldn't be able to know if what we believe about reality is the only thing that's true about reality. You know, I I have witnessed things. I've done plant medicine with shamans down in Iowa ska. I've done shamanic training with Alberto Vo toe. And ah, lot of this is the spiritual side of things, the spiritual world. And when it comes to something like fasting, every great spiritual tradition and a lot of not so great ones incorporate fasting throughout. And it's a major part of being a shaman. I am not a shaman. You know, I've done very

basic harmonic training stuff, but I've known enough of the great Masters interviewed some of them guys like, you know, shaman Duric and some people who don't call themselves shamans but are in that category. Guys like Dr Barry Moore Galan. I'll just tell you for the rial ones who don't. Just so I tried to Alaska. So no, I'm a shaman, kind of, you know, not rials. There is great ancient and esoteric knowledge. And when you plug into the subtle sensing systems in the body, man, you can know stuff and you could do stuff that is not supposed to possible. But I have seen it enough times. It just takes work, right? Yeah, and we don't understand the mechanisms. They're scientifically yet there's often layered on top of this a lot of new age theories about what could be going on. But the truth is a lot of this stuff and I've had folks. I just had someone on the podcast who is describing crazy things they could do in their dreams That just shouldn't even be possible with our current worldview of kind of how the mind works. But I hear you and I want to focus on since your books on fasting to like

, Why do you think that is such a common mechanism and all these different traditions that they're using for improving the mind? I did sort of, ah literature review and one of the chapters in the book. I talk specifically about spiritual fasting, and in fact the whole book is kind of leading up to that. You can fast on a daily basis, and you could do that for a variety of reasons. And you don't have to feel pain when you're fasting, and that's the big thing most people like. I won't be able to function. It's gonna be uncomfortable. I'm gonna have to push through hunger. There's hacks to turn off hunger when you're fasting, so fasting is effortless and simple. But then there's times when you want to maybe fast for a couple of days, and you don't want it to be out for a lesson. Simple. And you want to do what I did in the cave, you want to actually go within. And what fasting does in all of these traditions is it turns on senses. One of the cool stories that's in fast this way is from a friend of mine who's was a long range patrol guy. They called lips

, but basically special forces kind of stuff in countries where, you know, maybe you're not supposed to be, and part of their training was Here's an £80 backpack and you need to go to days cross country with no food. And it's one of those carrying an £80 backpack alone. Makes you think you're gonna die, Not to mention long distance, you know, harsh terrain, no food. But he says, Dave, they put a cheeseburger up in a tree at the final point we're supposed to get. They didn't tell us it was gonna be there, and we could smell it two miles away, right? And I was like, Wow, that that's crazy. But what what fasting does is it sharpens the senses. And it does that via Western mechanistic things that we understand now. And this goes back to my book headstrong as well, Where there's this idea that the neurons in your brain want key tones because they can make more power from a key tone than they can from sugar. But the repair systems in the brain that glial cells they actually prefer sugar, two key tones, and they can use both eso the ideas. All

the cells in our body for at least for the most part, are able to burn both kinds of fuel. But we're almost always just burning glucose. And that happens if you, ah, high protein diet happens if you eat a normal carbohydrate diet. But if you go into ah, low carb er, keto or a fasting kind of diet, suddenly you kick into ketosis. And one of the other things that's very interesting is that when you go into ketosis, even just using M C T. Oil is I popularized the bulletproof coffee things that we didn't know about it back then. You get the spiritual clarity of fasting when you do that, and it's it's very interesting the first time people do that like, Whoa, what is going on with me today? Like I just I feel like I'm in the zone. Well, that's the zone of fasting. But something else happens with fasting, and this is just a core part of the whole bulletproof lifestyle. First thing you do is you stop doing the things that make you weak and we are eating foods. In fact, there's four classes of toxins from Mother Nature that are messing with your

abilities, including your perceptive abilities there actually things that slow down your your mitochondria, which slows down your sensing. So when you fast. By definition, you're not eating these plant toxins that are a problem. And actually, there's one protein based toxins when you burn your protein or when it's it's starting to spoil. Those can also inhibit your abilities. But when you're fasting, you got nothing no kryptonite foods that you didn't know about sneaking in there. Then they feed you, but they take a little bit away when they feed you, all that's gone, and then you get key tones for energy, and you're like, Yes, And that's one of the reasons that so many of these different spirituals disciplines require fasting. And many of them, if you read the old stories, it's always the same 40 day fast like, Whoa, I'm having don't think I'm quite going to go there. But that is It's very surprising, actually, that you'll see this almost ever on the planet. And this is what you know, the great stages and all do, and clearly we're not gonna be doing that in the

West, at least not very often. But does that mean that you might do a seven day fast? Was supervision or a 10 day fast? You might, and the results when people do it are profound, even a three day fastest profound. But look, if you have kids and a job and you know 2020 and pick whatever bad thing for 2020 is top of mind for you. It's been a bit of an interesting year, so maybe you just don't want to do that then. But you can do this regular intermittent fasting practice, and you can do many different schedules, and I talk about all the different schedules in the book. But the bottom line is there's three different hacks available to make fasting effortless and painless and give you the benefits so you can choose to just use it as a performance enhancer and a life extender. Or you can go deep right. But the idea that you always have to go deep isn't riel, and the idea that it's always going to be painful and cut your performance. It's not really either everyone, it's Liam. I have a

quick favor to ask. We don't run ads here, but if you're finding this podcast helpful, please take 10 seconds to share this episode Now, with one friend who could benefit, for example, by tapping the three dots in the bottom right corner of apple podcasts. There is the option to text it or email. This would help us out a ton and spreading the good word and really appreciate your help if you feel moved to share. Okay, back into it. Yeah, so there's definitely So there's this more extreme end. The longest I've gone, I think, was 72 hours. I was in a closet, my friends closet in darkness. So it's kind of the combined sensory darkness with, uh, the fast and that was pretty intense. But yeah, and you learn a lot about your mind and you, you know, you have some altered states of consciousness. But then there's this more practical level that you're talking about here. Three. Intermittent fasting. If someone wanted to get started, what are some basic tips? You know what? What's the basic protocol here For someone who wants to

do this safely, the basic protocol is going to sound really weird. Skip breakfast there you did it. E mean, it's not that hard. Let me let me make up like 17 different cool names for that which is out there, and it's good. People are kind of trying to brand the different things. But really, that's the basic intermittent fast. Now, my spin on that when I was not Metabolic the healthiest I actually I'm not gonna be able to be a V p at a big company starting bulletproof and being a dad and a husband. And do that because that's just I have more demands on me than I believe I could handle it that time. So the let me just walk you through the three hacks that I write about in the book that make fasting palatable for people even if they're new. One of them is just black coffee, and the reason for that is that the amount of caffeine in two small cups of coffee doubles ketone production, and you don't feel pain from fasting when you have enough

key tones and normally takes 2 to 3 days, which is why people say all day, too. I suffered greatly day three. I was okay. I wasn't even think about food at all. That was when the key towns kicked in, so if you could get him to kick in earlier or faster, you just feel less pain and you still get the fast fasting purists out there will say, If you have anything other than water because that's what the mouse studies did, then you're not fasting, and that is there's no scientific validity to that. That's just dogmatism it. It doesn't make sense. What fasting really is is just two words going without. And when you look at that, okay, if you're fasting from carbs, we have a word for that. It's called the Keto diet, but you also can say I am going to fast from alcohol. It's called abstinence right or that's not absence that's called teetotaling. There's fasting from sex, which is a spiritual practices well, or at least fasting from orgasm. And so when you realize this weight, what if I fasted from junk food? Yeah

, you could do it for a brief period. You could just say this month I'm going to go on a junk food fast and see how you feel. And maybe like that's a permanent change, and maybe you just pulse it. But most of the time, when you tell someone you're not going to eat for a day, the immediate responses but I would starve and what's happening? There goes straight back into what we talked about with shamans and all that. And you know you're not going to starve because it takes at least 60 and probably closer to 9120 days to starve to death like there's no doubt you won't starve, even get a need for a week. You'll just feel like you're gonna starve. But the fear that comes on with that is such a big thing. That's what we've got to get over. Its fear is feeling comfortable with things like this. So one of the things that really informs my work is what I learned writing a book about mitochondria and the brain in that book. When you look at the algorithm of all life forms, whether we're plants

or animals or bacteria doesn't really matter. We're all doing the same basic actions. And because we are powered by and run by ancient bacteria called mitochondria, dis applies to us, and the algorithm for any species is number one, run away from kill or hide from scary things, and you have to do this because of something easy. Right now, it's game over, and it's game over for the survival of the species from the algorithm of life. Like don't die. See? But 10 times more effort on things that are scary, um, than it's worth. So your energy goes into that, you become focused on it and it it changed your metabolism. It changes everything about you. And when you're not doing that, you look at Well, what else has killed most life forms? Famine. So the first one's fear, the segments food you put five times more energy on food than is necessary because we have a history of famine. And this isn't you choosing to it. This is your cells choosing to do it, and then you make you feel it, and then

you do it. And then you tell yourself the rational reasons why you did what you felt. Even though it wasn't rational, it was all feeling based. And the third f word. So the first one to stay alive or to keep you know, life alive. Over time, you you've gotta not die. Eso you got You got your food. Third f word. You can think of that. All life has to do to continue fornicator fertility that gets three times more attention than it deserves right. And the reason is just that all life has to do those things. Or there won't be another generation if something kills you before you reproduce. If you starve to death for you produce and if you don't reproduce, there will be no more humans and the cells in your body don't understand. There's other humans around. You don't have to do any of those things, but they feel like strong needs. But none of those is a need and the act of for a brief period of time, going without any of those things, being free of fear, being free of hunger

or experiencing fear and experiencing hunger and showing yourself that you don't die. Uh, even fasting from sex for a brief period of time or fasting from orgasm, especially for men, is really important because, well, let me ask you this, Liam, have you done anything in your life that you're ashamed of? That didn't come from one of those three urges. That's a really powerful question. I think anger has probably led to some anger is usually fear, in fact, that 40 years, then the neuroscience program, we show people how emotions nest, but they always lied to fear, right? So angers want apathy is actually the worst ones you like, just don't care. Like actually you're afraid and anger didn't work and sadness didn't work. So you went to apathy. You have apathy, sadness, anger. So if you're just a anger, you're actually doing pretty good because you don't have to peel is many layers away to get to what's really going on there and actually have that backwards. When I said that sadness is

behind anger. So when you get rid of anger, like actually I'm sad about that. And then, actually oh, I was afraid about that. And then no, actually, I'm okay. And I have equanimity, which is what shamans were seeking. And what all great spiritually people are seeking is just to be okay with things, right? And so, if if those were the things that are driving us, what fasting is is going without. So you go without the things that you think you need it. So going without safety, it's called bungee jumping. Right? Okay. You're afraid of heights. You do that. You went without safety and you showed yourself you didn't die, and it creates more stability. in your biological networks and in your spiritually networks, and you also get to it cause it's exhilarating, right? But it's exhilarating because you face death. There's a reason Tony Robbins has you walk across coals because every vibrant you're being says that will kill you, and you do it anyway and you don't die and you become stronger as a result. Same thing, frankly, in the early days of bullet proof that first time that you would take a pat of butter, which you have been told

by the advertising industry is going to kill you. And you put it in your blender on purpose and you hit blend, and then you intentionally drink what you have been told is poison, and then, no, you're not die. But you feel really good, like wait a minute here. But it's that facing your fear thing, fasting is about that. And so there's a whole spiritually narrative in fast this way, where every chapter like Here's what happened to me on Day one. Here's the story in my head. Here is the actual biology going on my body, you know, here's here's the side of fasting that we don't talk about because now we're like, Yeah, like I lift I fast, you know? But that's not really what it's about. It's about I learned to go without, without wasting an ounce of energy on fear on the voices in my head and things like that, I want to say, wasting energy Well, I found a study that says 15 and up to 50% of thoughts in people's heads are about what's for their next meal. And that's kind of ridiculous, because those thoughts could

be going towards making the world a better place towards your career, towards your family, towards anything, right. But it's just wasted energy. You ate some food, you breathe some air, you made electrons, and then you thought about more food. Mhm. It was unnecessary. So it's having that level of of safety that you teach yourself and you teach the systems in your body that are automated. That frees up a lot of energy to do mawr of the energetic stuff that you talked about and okay, so turning up the energy is that side of things. But then the fasting side of things is wasting less energy on worrying about fear, worrying about food and worrying about getting some on. If you just bring that energy back to turn up the energy, stop wasting energy on those thoughts. All of a sudden, you're like, Wow, I didn't know it could be easy. My path has been shamanic. It has been, you know, Eastern stuff. I went to Tibet to learn meditation

from the masters. I've done yoga and breathing for many years. I also have done a lot of neuroscience with 40 years ascend. So my neuroscience company, where you put electrodes on your head to figure out the voice in your head so that when it's telling you things that aren't true, you can tell the voice in your head you can show it another way. So it'll stop bothering you about stuff that isn't riel. And that's that's what fasting and do for you. Yeah, that's fascinating. And a lot of connections were just form there in my head when you're talking about you know, the common theme here that you're facing basic biological ingrained like evolutionary psychological survival fears, which I think is at the root of a lot of our thoughts and a lot of our daily concerns, even though they don't need to be. And this idea that a lot of things that are good for us like fasting, even things like cold showers. There's this dramatic effect as a result of facing your fear. You're not gonna, you know, freeze to death. And so it makes so much sense in the context of fasting, not just being about fasting for food. But, you know, you could go on attention fast

. You could fast from social media, whatever you feel like you, you need. So listen, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your and your story. And finally, there's a question that I like to ask everyone who comes on, which is that you get a 15 2nd commercial that goes out to the world. What would you say? I'd want people to hear. Look, it feels good to help other people. And that means that if you ask people for help, they want to help you. And if you'll just ask for that, you'll receive it. Wonderful. It's a great lesson I live by. Yes. So where can folks find more about you? Where can they find your book? Etcetera? Well, if you go too fast this way dot com and you can preorder fast this way right now. Whether you like to do it, send me a receipt on that website and I will put you through a two week program where I'm going to teach you on a daily basis with thousands of other people. The fasting hacks that let you do fasting without pain so fast this way dot com. Thanks for coming on

the podcast. Really feeling my pleasure. Thank you for checking out the fit mind podcast. If you enjoyed the podcast, please take the time to leave it a review. I really can't tell you how much I appreciate reviews. This allows us to reach others who might benefit from these conversations as well. And if you'd like to keep hearing expert insights on the mind of meditation when the episodes come out, please subscribe to the show. Thanks for listening. And I'll see you here next time

#64: Fasting, Shamans & Facing Fear - Dave Asprey
#64: Fasting, Shamans & Facing Fear - Dave Asprey
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