Mindset Means Everything: Fasting, Ketamine, & Meditation


Episode 240

Oz Garcia

Renowned nutritionist Oz Garcia joins host Paul F. Austin to share his journey from artistry to expertise, diving into the transformative power of fasting for health and longevity. Oz shares insights on cultivating the right mindset and humility for a fulfilling life, drawing from personal experiences including ketamine therapy for PTSD and long COVID recovery. Oz and Paul delve into the profound intersections of nutrition, spirituality, and healing, exploring topics from sleep and trauma to the evolutionary advantages of altered consciousness.

This conversation is a deep dive into holistic well-being and the integration of ancient wisdom with modern practices.


Oz Garcia is recognized as an authority on healthy aging, age reversal, and fortifying the immune system. His client list includes A-List celebrities, Fortune 100 CEOs, and more recently, those dealing with Covid and Post-Covid health issues. Oz Garcia's unique and customized approach to nutrition, functional health, and self-optimization, combined with more than forty years of experience, have made him one of the most recognizable names in the industry. Oz Garcia has lectured worldwide and is known as a trailblazer in the study of nutrition, ensuring quality of life as we age, and learning to survive Covid by creating a strong immune system.

Oz is the best selling author of five books: The Food Cure for Kids, The Balance, Look and Feel Fabulous Forever, Redesigning 50, and After Covid. He was twice voted best nutritionist by New York Magazine and is frequently called upon by some of the most respected names in medicine and media for his up -to-the-minute views on nutrition and its role in aging and longevity. Oz has served as a Nutritional Advisor for Equinox Fitness as well as a Wellness Partner at Fairmont Hotel Spa in Century City.

Oz has been featured in Vogue, Elle, Travel and Leisure, W Magazine, Forbes and The New York Times. He has also made numerous television appearances, including on NBC's Today Show, CBS's This Morning, ABC's Good Morning America, 20/20, 48 Hours, Fox News and The View.

Podcast Highlights

  • Experiences at Mindvalley and A-Fest
  • Exploring the Human Potential Movement
  • From artist to nutritionist
  • Running as a spiritual practice
  • The evolutionary basis of intermittent fasting
  • Oz's journey into fasting and nutrition
  • Understanding fasting types and protocols
  • Mindset is everything
  • The humility of being alive
  • Healing trauma with ketamine and meditation
  • The evolutionary benefits of altered consciousness
  • The transformative power of illness

This episode is sponsored by Neurohacker Collective’s Qualia Mind premium nootropic for mental performance.

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Podcast Transcript

0:00:00.0 Paul F. Austin: Hey listeners, welcome back to the Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, connecting you to the leaders and pioneers of the psychedelic renaissance. This is your host, Paul F. Austin. Today I am speaking with Oz Garcia.

0:00:13.4 Oz Garcia: The plant universe, plant medicine, plays a really critical role, both in terms of how I look at the world, how it's contributed enormously to my healing post-COVID, my perspective on just about anything. You know, having been a flower child in the 1960s, and here I am hurtling towards my finitude, and I'm connecting with plant medicine all over again.

0:00:45.2 Paul F. Austin: Welcome to the Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, audio mycelium connecting you to the luminaries and thought leaders of the psychedelic renaissance. We bring you illuminating conversations with scientists, therapists, entrepreneurs, coaches, doctors, and shamanic practitioners, exploring how we can best use psychedelic medicine to accelerate personal healing, peak performance, and collective transformation.

0:01:17.8 Joseph Anew: If you are listening to this podcast, you know we believe that psychedelic medicines are humanity's most potent tool for personal and professional growth and transformation. There's a problem in the psychedelic space right now, but for the right person, it could also be the perfect career opportunity. The medical model of psychedelics is an important step, but it cannot and likely will never meet the actual demand. It's too expensive, it's too controlled, and even if you can afford it, it's only for those with the right diagnoses. But there is so much more to these medicines than healing trauma or depression. Rediscovering purpose, enhancing creativity, expanding your sense of aliveness and well-being, your spiritual connection, healing your relationships, creating higher performance and leadership skills, and so, so much more. So what's happening is that curious individuals are having to hit the streets, find substances where they can, and trust that the underground facilitator or guide has been properly trained, has the right experience, and the right intentions.

0:02:23.1 Joseph Anew: It's created an ecosystem with a lot of opportunity and many unqualified, undertrained, and inexperienced people out there serving psychedelic medicines and hosting ceremonies. Bringing professionalism and ethics to the psychedelic space and the underground is something that we have been committed to since our launch in 2015. On our website, we have all of our trusted and vetted professionals listed for all to find for free. And for those looking to step in at a higher level themselves, who want to become educated, either to launch a new professional psychedelic practice or take an existing one to the next level, I invite you to check out our 10-month psychedelic coaching certification. We brought together an incredible faculty covering every aspect of psychedelic work: Mind, body, and spirit. The certification is by application only and explores the depths of psychedelic medicines as well as our own proven five-step model for their safe, intentional, and responsible use from microdosing to heroic dosing. For more details and to enroll yourself now for our next certification program beginning soon, please visit psychedeliccoaching.institute now. That's psychedeliccoaching.institute now.

0:03:43.8 Paul F. Austin: Hey listeners, this is Paul F. Austin, founder and CEO at Third Wave, and today I am joined by renowned nutritionist, Oz Garcia. Oz is recognized as an authority in healthy aging, age reversal, and fortifying the immune system. His client list includes A-list celebrities, Fortune 100 CEOs, and more recently, those dealing with COVID and post-COVID health issues. Oz Garcia's unique and customized approach to nutrition, functional health, and self-optimization, combined with more than 40 years of experience, have made him one of the most recognizable names in the nutrition industry. He has lectured worldwide and is known as a trailblazer in the study of nutrition, ensuring quality of life as we age, and learning to survive COVID by creating a strong immune system. He is the best-selling author of five books, The Food Cure for Kids, The Balance, Look and Feel Fabulous Forever, Redesigning 50, and After COVID. Oz and I met at a private event in Miami, this Jim Kwik book launch. We were introduced through mutual friends, hit it off there, and then I invited him on the podcast. And Oz is an OG. I mean, he's been doing psychedelics and personal development work for a very long time. And so it was cool to dive into his story today.

0:05:04.2 Paul F. Austin: And so in the conversation today, we explore Oz's journey from artist to nutritionist. We also talk about fasting and the power of fasting for health and longevity. Oz shares his insights on cultivating the right mindset, for a fulfilling life, and he draws from his personal experiences, that includes his journeys with mindfulness meditation and ketamine therapy to address both PTSD and long COVID. We also dive into the intersection of nutrition, spirituality, and healing, exploring topics from sleep and trauma to the evolutionary advantages of altered states of consciousness. This conversation is a deep dive into holistic well-being and how we can integrate ancient wisdom into modern practices. Okay, before we dive in today, take a moment to follow the Psychedelic Podcast on your favorite app. You can also help others find the podcast by leaving us a review. And if you want to watch the video version of these episodes, be sure to like and subscribe on YouTube. It is a simple and small action that you can take right now to amplify psychedelic awareness and shift the cultural conversation around psychedelic substances. All right, that's it for now. I hope you enjoy my conversation today with Oz Garcia. Oz, it's great to have you on the show.

0:06:20.5 Oz Garcia: Paul, it's a pleasure and a privilege. Thank you so much.

0:06:23.6 Paul F. Austin: So we briefly ran into each other through a mutual friend at a Jim Kwik event in Miami a few months ago. And I'd love just to hear about what brought you there. How do you know Jim? Why were you supporting the book launch and present at that party in Miami?

0:06:38.3 Oz Garcia: Jim and I go back to about 2016. We both lectured for Mindvalley in Sardinia, and we kind of hit it off there really well, we became buddies, and I'm really quite fascinated with his work. Since he lives here in New York, actually in Connecticut. We kinda struck up a friendship, and it's turned out to be more than that at this point, we do a lot of co-support where recently he just designed a remarkable product, it's Kwik Brain, and it's all to advantage us in terms of our thinking capabilities, it's based on a series of nootropics. So that's what brought me to be in Florida.

0:07:28.2 Paul F. Austin: What brought you to Mindvalley in Sardinia? I ask because a couple team members we have on Third Wave, my COO and our head of programs used to work at Mindvalley. I've gone to a lot of A-Fests, so I'd be curious. What brought you out to Sardinia and the Mindvalley event? What was that like even back in 2016, 'cause that was quite, in a way, early earlier days for Mindvalley.

0:07:52.6 Oz Garcia: Sure. It was one of the greatest things I ever did. I was invited to be a speaker, and I got to Mindvalley through dear friends of mine that actually were working for Mindvalley at the time, connected with Vishen, and I was enchanted with them, I wound up giving a talk, a lecture on the value of fasting and intermittent fasting, and it was also an A-Fest, which turned out to be one of the more remarkable things I've ever done in my life.

0:08:27.4 Paul F. Austin: It was fun, I imagine.

0:08:28.7 Oz Garcia: It ended with me... I would never own up to this, but it wound up with me in a dancing challenge with another co-leader, and we were both like strip, practically strip naked with hundreds of participants looking at us to see who would out-win the dance. Needless to say, I lost.

0:08:53.1 Paul F. Austin: But you tried, and you had fun doing it.

0:08:56.1 Oz Garcia: Yeah, but Mindvalley is, but, just rocks it, it's great, great community.

0:09:00.5 Paul F. Austin: They rock it. The A-Fest events, the education that they have, I think they're a great example of new forms of education, right?

0:09:07.4 Oz Garcia: Very much, I'd say an evolution within the Human Potential Movement. I got involved in... We'll call it the Human Potential Movement in the 1970s. I did a course called, EST, you may remember.

0:09:22.0 Paul F. Austin: You did EST. Oh, I wanna hear about EST.

0:09:24.6 Oz Garcia: Yeah, it eventually became the Landmark Forum. I did it in 1976, I was a kid. And from there, I went on, I spent about 10 years around EST and around Winner of Heart. From there, everybody was doing some sort of workshop course, leading some sort of workshop course. So I got really interested in what you and I would call powers of the mind, so I went on to do different workshops, Insight. I flew out to Esalen, I studied in Esalen, anybody that had anything that could point a better way of living, I wanted to know about. And from there, I just continued, I haven't stopped doing coursework in 40, 50 years.

0:10:17.4 Paul F. Austin: An evolving and continual learner, a seeker, I imagine you now. I mean, I'm even just...

0:10:25.8 Oz Garcia: Politics doesn't stop. I recently did a retreat with Joe Dispenza back in July, and that completely re-opened up everything in terms of my curiosity, I found that to be an exceptional course, and I found him to be an exceptional thinker, so I started at EST, and these days I'm spending time around Dispenza, currently knows where I'll wind up.

0:10:54.5 Paul F. Austin: What, I mean 1976, the Human Potential Movement, I'm curious, what upbringing leads to someone at such a young age becoming open and interested and curious about these things, I feel like that's such a gift and a unique path. How many 19-year-olds or 20-year-olds were going to EST and exploring that. So what, how did you end up there? What brought you there, what led to that?

0:11:24.7 Oz Garcia: I come from a background of, I'd say people that are very engaged in the world. My family is very political, I'm from Cuba. We spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between Cuba before the revolution. After the Cuban Revolution, and I grew up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a pretty tough neighborhood. The way out, the exit, out of the kind of upbringing that I had was to study. If you didn't pursue a good educational path, my dad would take his hand and was not the nicest guy in the world. If you didn't have an A on your school card, you would really pay a price for it. Eventually, I got accepted to the high school of art and design, then I went to Pratt Institute, which is probably the leading art institution or college in America at the time. Now, that's a prelude to much of what happened afterwards, I attended University when the war in Vietnam was raging.

0:12:44.8 Oz Garcia: And that altered my political way of looking at the world, certainly my spiritual way of looking at the world. And like many kids like me, we grew our hair out, we began to wear bell-bottom pants, and the next thing that you knew, you were doing any number of mind-altering substances. I was very affected by the work of Timothy Leary. And thinkers of that era that we can delve into a little bit more. But I started doing psychedelics probably at around age 17. So that began my movement towards, which eventually led to EST, right?

0:13:32.0 Paul F. Austin: So you go to Pratt, I mean, you're raised in sort of the Vietnam war, what we call the second wave of psychedelics, you go to Pratt to become an artist, you go to EST, sort of leads you down this path, today, you're well known for anti-aging for nutrition for, you know I noticed you're very involved with Equinox, which is a unique path for someone who is studying art at one of the world's leading art institutions. So how did you go from being an artist, what was even your relationship to art and how has that sort of evolved and grown as you've evolved and grown?

0:14:10.8 Paul F. Austin: My mother was an artist and a painter. So certainly I got whatever talent I may have or may have had came from her. And I was very fortunate that I inherited her artistic capabilities, let's say. So that got me into Pratt Institute. And my path was photography. So once I got out of college, I was a gun for hire. I was a very good darkroom technician. I got hired by some of the best-known fashion photographers in New York and went on to work very successfully in the early '70s and late '70s for one of the best-known fashion photographers of that era. Now, at the same time, many people from my... Go ahead.

0:15:00.6 Paul F. Austin: Who was the fashion photographer?

0:15:01.0 Oz Garcia: Oh, his name is Garry Gross.

0:15:02.4 Paul F. Austin: Garry Gross.

0:15:03.4 Oz Garcia: Garry was notorious for discovering Brooke Shields, making her very famous when she was 10, 11 years of age. But he went on to do some of the greatest work for Burlington and Avon and Vogue and Cosmopolitan, and so on. So I was a kid out of college. And my conscience was being informed by many different things. I'd heard about EST. So my curiosity, the same curiosity that got me into psychedelics in the '60s was now moving me to find out more about expanding human consciousness. That landed me in EST. Soon enough, I quit much of what was very popular back then, Paul. So smoking a pack of two cigarettes, packs of cigarettes a day was not uncommon in your early 20s, right? Out of EST, I gave up smoking. Got very interested in the beginning of the Human Movement towards fitness. Nobody was looking to be fit back then. Gyms, Equinox didn't exist. Nike didn't exist. I mean, you and I could go on in terms of...

0:16:20.9 Paul F. Austin: He was like Schwarzenegger in the '70s, right? He was like the guy that sort of helped to...

0:16:29.0 Oz Garcia: And so he was an example for many of us. Right. You would join in New York, the Jack Lalanne's fitness clubs, that was what was available. And they were really dumpy clubs. But that's, that's what we would join. So I joined Jack Lalanne. Little by little, I got interested of all things in running. And I would typically meet my buddies at Central Park. We'd light up a cigarette, right, run around the reservoir, meet up right after the one-and-a-half-mile run, and light up another Marlboro Red, right, and say what a great run this was. It occurred to me after a while that smoking and running weren't compatible. So little by little, certain things were hitting the ground. Smoking hit the ground.

0:17:22.8 Oz Garcia: Drinking three, four, five cups of coffee a day with a lot of sugar hit the ground. I got very interested in the work of the Hippocrates Institute up in Cambridge, and I got very interested in the work of Michio Kushi, who brought macrobiotics to America. So, so, so little by little in terms of dealing with my own health concerns, I was a migraine headache sufferer. My energy wasn't all that good. It was transformative. So moving from high psychedelic era and love, peace and rock and roll to how do you mainstream yourself? And mainstreaming was the Human Potential Movement. Eventually, the running became racing. Eventually, I started talking about the role of food and how it could affect long distance running. I got on a lecture circuit with some of the top running clubs in the Northeast. And that led to doing my first marathon, which is in 1979. So by then, I'd already covered more than a decade of transformative practices, and I went out to run for the last 40, 45 years.

0:18:44.9 Paul F. Austin: Do you still run today?

0:18:46.5 Oz Garcia: I run poorly.

0:18:49.3 Paul F. Austin: You still run.

0:18:50.4 Oz Garcia: I was an insane runner. At one point, I would do a marathon a month, and I did that for years. I was absolutely obsessed with running. My office is on Central Park West and 74th in the upper west side of New York. So I'm literally a half a block from Central Park. And that was by my intention. I always wanted to have access to the park, be able to run whenever I wanted to. And these days, what I do is a lot more upper body. I do very lengthy hikes. I'll run a little bit, but not like I did when I was a lot younger.

0:19:27.0 Paul F. Austin: I would imagine. It's hard on the knees and the joints and the ligaments and... Like it.

0:19:32.9 Oz Garcia: If you run 40, 50 years the way that I did, you get both hips replaced.

0:19:39.6 Paul F. Austin: Right. Yeah. Yeah.

0:19:40.8 Oz Garcia: But the running took the place of using exogenous substances to alter my conscience. So that's not to say that there aren't things that I love doing these days differently, and but going from a very determined user of microdosing back then, believe it or not, the high consumption of cannabis and my total love of acid, it just tapered off once I became a long distance runner.

0:20:19.8 Paul F. Austin: Interesting.

0:20:21.2 Oz Garcia: And you and I both know that running can also trigger many, many cannabinoid receptors and anandamide, different ones that actually get you right there. Ding you right there. So that in combination with fasting, and it was a lot more than intermittent fasting. I would typically fast three or four days a week on juices, water, and then at one point, I got interested in fasting for about a month. So when you would combine fasting and running, you could really alter your conscience, let me tell you.

0:21:00.0 Paul F. Austin: That's... I'm fascinated by all, especially the running as not a replacement, necessarily, but as a new version or sort of evolution of the psychedelic work, even.

0:21:12.6 Oz Garcia: Very much sir.

0:21:14.6 Paul F. Austin: So much... Often we hear just about meditation or breath work.

0:21:19.6 Oz Garcia: Yes. Correct.

0:21:20.6 Paul F. Austin: But there's something very meditative, and obviously, you're breathing, so it feels like the movement aspect, the running aspect, kind of brings all of that together.

0:21:29.6 Oz Garcia: Oh, yeah. And I do miss it. I do miss the high, the runner's high, which is incomparable. For many years, I'd say from about 2010 to about 2018, I was also doing yoga. And for me, Bikram hot yoga was the thing. It gave me the same headspace that I would get from running. Right? And bit by bit now, past the pandemic where we're at in terms of my age and so on, getting back to yoga and carefully managing my running and hiking, I can get to the same place.

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0:23:44.5 Paul F. Austin: I want to talk a little bit about fasting.

0:23:45.7 Oz Garcia: Sure.

0:23:46.9 Paul F. Austin: Because it's something you've already brought up a couple of times, I would say in the last few years, three, four, five, six years, there's been a lot of talk about it. There's been a lot of talk about intermittent fasting. Even some folks who talk about 24 hours, 48 hours fast. Peter Attia, sort of the biohacking Silicon Valley Tim Ferriss crowd. Because the science shows that it helps with mitochondrial plasticity, ATP production. It can help with the, I forget the specific term, but the death of cells, certain cells that are no longer...

0:24:21.0 Oz Garcia: Apoptosis and I'll think of the other term in a moment.

0:24:24.5 Paul F. Austin: Kind of like a cleaning out. So I've even heard some people say if you fast for a week, once a year, you'll never get cancer, as an example.

0:24:35.2 Oz Garcia: That's crazy. I would agree with that up to a point. And I'll tell you why.

0:24:41.6 Paul F. Austin: Please.

0:24:42.7 Oz Garcia: Okay. So let's just say... The other term is autophagy. Autophagy...

0:24:49.2 Paul F. Austin: Autophagy. That's it, yeah.

0:24:52.3 Oz Garcia: Yeah. Autophagy is really what you're looking for, where you're going to clean out zombie cells in your body, and you're going to replace unhealthy tissue and you're going to rebuild mitochondrial tissue. You're also going to accelerate neuroplasticity, what... Human beings, the way that we're designed neurologically, neurochemically, is to underfeed and then feed and overfeed.

0:25:19.6 Oz Garcia: So when you look at the history of human being, if we go back 100,000 years, typically and... You got to remember and, even though we're prey and we look like lunch to a lot of animals, big canids and so on, we're also terribly predatory. We're omnivorous, predatory animals. We can eat anything. We're, in fact, we're eating ourselves off the fucking planet. So when you think about how we're built structurally in terms of the fact that we're bipedal and have a great capacity in terms of our vision to be able to see something that we want to hunt and kill off in the distance.

0:26:02.2 Oz Garcia: It made us remarkable at being able to track an animal for long distances. So although we're not the fastest animal, we can outlast just about anything that we can hunt. If we're looking at an antelope, some did somewhere off in the distance, probably there are other eyeballs looking at it. So even as you take off to get it, you may go several days without getting a kill. And during that period of time, you're going to eat low-hanging fruit, what you can grab on the side, some insects.

0:26:40.3 Oz Garcia: So you're underfeeding until you get a nice big hit of fat and protein. So intermittent fasting is pretty much designed and built into our bodies. And when you've eliminated the need to actually go out and provide for yourself, kind of like the standard American diet where people are just eating all the time. That leads to a tremendous illness, and we know that. The problems with obesity in our country, the problems with poor mental capacity overall, the rise in type 2 diabetes, all of these are problems that arise with the inability to stop eating. The reason we have the appetites that we have is because we actually evolved in an environment that would trigger you to stay hungry so that you can actually go out and pursue what's gonna be for lunch for me today or tomorrow, the day after.

0:27:45.5 Oz Garcia: So when you have that feature, the feature to eat like a wolf. Where if you look at a wolf, where you look at most predators that are out there that are competitive in terms of going for the same things that we want, a predator is always hungry until it gets its kill. And then it's going to back off, relax and take it easy. But being predatory is a natural state to be in. And when you're in a predatory state and you're eating three, four meals a day, every day and over consuming food, then you've got the malaise of the sick American, right? With the sick... First world individual, where we're over consuming calories and doing great damage to our microbiome, our bodies, our brains and so on.

0:28:38.1 Paul F. Austin: How did you first learn about fasting? Because again, it's become quite prominent the last few years, but my sense is you understood a lot of the benefits of fasting for up to probably 40, 45 years. So I'm curious, like, how did you get into it initially? And like...

0:28:55.9 Oz Garcia: Sure.

0:28:56.2 Paul F. Austin: How was it to be a person who was really aware of it when it wasn't really talked about when many people weren't doing it necessarily? How did you communicate some of the potential benefits early on and get clients to...

0:29:11.0 Oz Garcia: In a very, very simple way. I had a friend who was a martial artist back then, and he was visiting me and he wanted to talk to me about whatever, we're just hanging out as buddies. And he was already into raw foods. He left me a book called The Miracle of Fasting by Paul Bragg. Now Paul Bragg, you probably have heard of, you know, Paul Bragg apple cider vinegar, Bragg aminos. So Paul was a big advocate of water fasting. And I used to suffer from migraine headaches. Both my dad and my mom were migraine headache sufferers. And in college, of course, I started to get migraines. And the path out of a migraine back then was to put you on some pretty nasty drugs.

0:30:06.0 Oz Garcia: They'd get rid of the headache and you in the process. So my buddy left this book, and he said, "Why don't you read this? I think this could help you." And in my egoistic way of being, I dismissed it. What could I possibly learn about fasting? What's that going to do for me? Well, I got a brutal migraine headache and I decided to read Paul Bragg's book. And I thought, "You know what, I'm not going to eat anything. I'm just going to drink water for a couple of days and see what happens." I did it. The migraine headache cleared up.

0:30:44.1 Oz Garcia: And to this day, I was in complete disbelief that I didn't have to take Fiorinal, Cafergot, any of the powerful, really insidious medications that were given to people that deal with migraines. And my head had cleared up. And to this day, I remember breaking it by having an orange and half an avocado. And I thought, "Okay, there's got to be something to this." That was the beginning of fasting, giving up coffee, giving up sugar, giving up fast food, reading about macrobiotics, learning about Hippocrates Institute.

0:31:24.6 Oz Garcia: Bit by bit, I got into coffee enemas. Bit by bit, I got into macrobiotics. I got into growing my own food. So literally, if you'd gone into my bedroom into my bedroom in 1976, '77, I had shelves with sprouts, mostly wheatgrass, alfalfa, rasp sprouts. And I had a wheatgrass juicer. And I would literally make my wheatgrass with my hand, cranked wheatgrass juicer every single day.

0:32:01.0 Oz Garcia: And at a certain point, I became vegan. So that's a whole chapter. I was vegan/vegetarian for about five years, and it was a remarkable learning curve. I was very, very driven by these kinds of practices, at a very young age. There were two books that impressed me a lot, besides Paul Bragg's book. One was called Sugar Blues by Paul Dufty, and the other one was, Diet For A Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé. She advocated greatly for a vegetarian diet, that if we ate a lot of cow meat and so on, we were gonna destroy the planet. At a very young, 20 plus years old, this affected me dramatically. So, you can see the ways that I moved. Eventually, I was a vegan runner. I can't even believe that I did it, but I did it for years. And then fasting, it became a way, not only to heal the body, but it also healed my mind a lot. It was a very spiritual experience and for many people that are going to approach fasting, I know the methodology and it's fascinating to me now, that intermittent fasting has become such a big deal, when I was doing it in my 20s and now I'm in my 70s.

0:33:26.9 Paul F. Austin: So what's the difference between, let's say a water fast, where it's literally only water... Is tea okay? I heard you mention juice fasting. Provide us with a little bit more nuance in terms of, some people have some juice, some people might have some other herbal teas or how should folks think about that? What have you learned from that?

0:33:52.8 Oz Garcia: I've done them all. And there... I find very little difference whether I'm juice fasting, whether... Water fasting is somewhat more stoic. And I'd say it's a bit rougher, although if you can stick it out, the benefits are immeasurable, certainly the clarity of mind, the equanimity, the peace of mind, the stability that you experience. So, water fasting, I'd say just about any fasting is gonna... They're all gonna get you to the same point. You're gonna wind up in the same place. I'd say for individuals that have the courage and are interested, you start with a small fast, an intermittent fast. I think that the porthole's doing lengthier fasting of a one day fast, a two day fast, a three day fast. Whether it's with juice, water or with just one small meal, you gotta get into it.

0:34:55.8 Oz Garcia: You need to ramp into it. So typically, it's about a three day entry point where I'll probably start cutting back on just about all animal protein. I'll get down to rice, steamed vegetables, maybe a pea flour smoothie, like Ultra Clear, and then I'll jump into juices. So you could go to any number of juice emporiums and buy all ready six juices, ready to consume over two or three days, for instance, and as much water as you want. I'd say that, for the beginner, probably doing a juice fast, 24 hours, is the way to start. But same thing, you kind of wind down, you have a day where you're just on steamed rice, steamed vegetables, maybe bone broth, and then you're gonna do 24 hours on green juices, mixed green juices, and then you pop out the following morning with a good smoothie, a bowl of steamed rice, some roasted vegetables, some salad greens, and then by 48 hours, you're back into introducing, let's say, some fish, poultry, and then you're back to normal eating.

0:36:10.7 Oz Garcia: So I always advocate to start with a one day fast. For most people, I would recommend starting with intermittent fasting. If you can, do get all your eating done within an eight hour feeding window. And if you do that and you knock off your last meal around 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 o'clock, and then you don't eat again for say 12, 13, 14 hours till the following morning, have bone broth, have very dilute miso, have teas, but go to bed on an empty stomach. The effect of even going to bed with an empty stomach is unbelievable for many people.

0:36:58.0 Paul F. Austin: Yeah. Because it really helps with sleep. I've heard to not eat after 4:00 PM, I think this is from "ayurvedic" sort of lens.

0:37:04.6 Oz Garcia: Sure.

0:37:04.7 Paul F. Austin: But whenever I eat early, I sleep better. Like I wear the Oura ring and I can see it in the data. Exactly.

0:37:11.3 Oz Garcia: Yeah. Oh, it's unbelievable.

0:37:14.0 Paul F. Austin: It does a lot.

0:37:15.1 Oz Garcia: Your heart rate variability scores go right through the roof. If I eat late and I look at my HRV the next day, it's substantially down 20, 30 points. If I skip dinner for three days in a row, my HRV levels are unbelievable. And so it's telling you, right there, that eating close to bedtime, it doesn't seem to be all that healthy.

0:37:44.0 Paul F. Austin: No, definitely not. Okay, so we've talked a lot about your past, and I want to talk about where you're at today and even dig a little bit more into your philosophy, because we've started to unpack that a little bit with fasting. We heard about...

0:38:02.4 Oz Garcia: Sure.

0:38:03.2 Paul F. Austin: Your background as a runner, as an artist, but you've worked with the who's who, you've been at this for 45 years at this point, almost 45 years. You're a pioneer in so many ways. And so, I'm curious, what are your principles of nutrition? What are your principles of healing? Just what are some of the... I don't know, juiciest bits of wisdom that you could share with our audience about living, nutrition, health? I feel like I'm sitting across from a master and I just want to get like, what are all the... What are the golden nuggets?

0:38:48.9 Oz Garcia: I think mindset is about mindset is about 90% of the goal. [chuckle]

0:38:51.7 Paul F. Austin: Mindset?

0:38:54.5 Oz Garcia: And I'll tell you why. Three years ago, right now I was in Mount Sinai Hospital fighting, or my life. I contracted severe COVID pneumonia and I didn't know it. And I went in January of 2021 for elective sports surgery on my neck. And the world, was just coming out from the lockdown. And you had that little window of hope. God only knew that things were gonna really get really bad again in February and March of 2021. So I was early to getting Delta Plus. I went into the hospital, got my neck, my cervical bones repaired, 40 years of running. I'd done a lot of damage. And I picked up COVID in the hospital from the gentleman that I was sharing the room with.

0:39:54.1 Oz Garcia: British, very well known rugby player. Delta Plus is out of control in Europe and in England at that time, as you remember. He had flown over. My suspicion is that he had tested negative. Although we already know now that you can test negative and be positive, right? It may take a few days for the test to show positive. So they put me in the room with him to recover. I never recovered. Went home, was in a lot of discomfort and pain. And as the days went on, I thought the surgery had gone wrong. Went back to the hospital 12 days later and they took one look at me and it was clear that something was not right. And it wasn't the surgery. So I spent almost a month in the hospital. I had severe COVID pneumonia. And had you asked me three years ago today, right, that you and I would be talking and then I'd be back to working out and talking about what we're talking about.

0:40:54.3 Oz Garcia: It was just not in my reality. I was trying to literally stay alive. I went from 145 pounds to 98. So, I went to under 100 pounds as a consequence of COVID. And then I suffered from long haul COVID for a while. The mindset was everything. The mindset of having been a runner, to having been a marathoner, to having been the son of immigrants, having been raised in... That way of thinking is what I now attribute to my philosophical perspective on life, right? I'm real clear that anything that you and I are enjoying, is a consequence of the effort that we put in, right? The effort to educate ourselves. I think reading is critical. I think journaling is critical. I think meditation is critical. I think kindness is critical. I think doing the work to actually take apart, egocentricity is critical, right? So there are the more existential practices besides, Hey, I'm gonna do a cold plunge. I'm gonna do a sauna. I'm gonna do intermittent fasting. I'm gonna do my high tech bio-hacking devices, of which I've got two dozen, but all of that's great. But I think it's rude.

0:42:32.4 Oz Garcia: How it is that you manage your thinking is critical. I think that you and I would both agree that not being your own counsellor, right? Knowing that there are many people that know a lot more about what's going on and exposing yourself to, like exposing yourself to Jim Kwik, people like that, right? To know that the journey in terms of self-education and being driven by awe and curiosity is never ending. It's going to be all the way until I drop dead. So I think what drives me is this great curiosity about what's next. Working with Joe Dispenza taught me that I don't need to fear the future. And I think if you scratch the surface of what some, most people's minds, they're either ruminating about the past and what could have been and my regrets. And if only if I made the right turn instead of the left and, oh, my God, what's gonna happen down the road. And the kind of, built-in neuroses that people live inside of, right? That, the reason to meditate, to be mindful is to actually quiet that, right? To just be quiet inside your head, to understand that there's a lot going on around you. That's a lot bigger than in the confines of my 6 inch x 6 inch skull.

0:44:10.3 Paul F. Austin: Right. Yeah. And there's humility in the spiritual practise of that, which I think is what you're getting into.

0:44:18.7 Oz Garcia: Yes.

0:44:18.8 Paul F. Austin: That there are practical things that we can do to help get our mindset back on track.

0:44:25.5 Oz Garcia: Correct.

0:44:26.4 Paul F. Austin: But the most effective things are not always practical. The most effective things are much deeper than that.

0:44:40.9 Oz Garcia: Very much. And I think it, to your point about humility, Paul, to be in a hospital and you're dying, one day you're a rockstar and more than anything, you're a rockstar in your head. And you think that you're really special because to your earlier point, the kind of clientele that I enjoy and so on, that that it didn't really matter when I was dying, it just really didn't matter. My chances of leaving that hospital as I understood it, were about 50-50. I was given a 50-50 chance of going on a mechanical ventilator. And we know that if you go on a mechanical ventilator, chances of coming out alive are less than two out of 10. So 80% of individuals that go in mechanical ventilators don't make it back alive. Right, and the two that do, they've got lung damage. Remember that if they need to stick a ventilator into your body, they need to sedate you.

0:45:45.7 Oz Garcia: So you could be sedated for a day, a week, a month, God only knows what that does to your brain. So coming out of all of that, you come out pretty humble, right? And to know that humility is part of your shadow self is, I think a critical part of how you construct your mindset. So getting up in the morning is a series of rituals. Yes, I get up, I try not to look at my phone, run my tub so that I can throw in 40 pounds of ice.

0:46:20.8 Paul F. Austin: Same. [chuckle]

0:46:21.3 Oz Garcia: While I'm doing that, I'm making my matcha tea or a little bit of Cuban coffee. And while the tub is filling up, I'm doing my journaling. So I'm trying to get my mind in the right place. And I suspect that doing all this kind of work makes you, reminds you, that being alive is one of the most remarkable things of this universe. That you and I are here to breathe and we've got a little vacation from nonexistence, maybe 70, 80, 90 years if we're lucky before we evaporate. And then God only knows what's on the other side.

0:47:07.6 Paul F. Austin: And that's so true. And what's coming up for me is the humility is important. The spiritual awareness that we're here for such a short period of time.

0:47:24.8 Oz Garcia: Oh, yeah.

0:47:24.9 Paul F. Austin: I think, psychedelics have really helped me to first become aware of that.

0:47:29.6 Oz Garcia: Yes, yes.

0:47:29.6 Paul F. Austin: They really brought my awareness into that truth. And then it feels like if it's not through Psychedelics, life has a way of reminding us every now and then how grateful we are to be here. And I'm also reminded of Viktor Frankl, like that was also coming up as you were telling your story, Man's Search for Meaning.

0:47:52.6 Oz Garcia: Yes.

0:47:53.0 Paul F. Austin: If there's a...

0:47:54.9 Oz Garcia: A remarkable book. And points again, what...

0:47:57.1 Paul F. Austin: Yeah, there's like a why you can withstand anyhow, basically. And my sense is with you even, like, I mean, I remember talking with one of my spiritual teachers, this was later 2021, body worker in California, we're talking about COVID. And this may be quite controversial to say, but I get what he was saying. He's like, a lot of people just sort of gave up. Like, COVID was bad, and a lot of people got very sick, but he was speaking to the power of mindset that if you really want, like if life is holding something very special and meaningful for you, the likelihood of coming out of that is much higher. And I sense that for you that there's, you're just having too much fun and doing too many interesting things to be done, right?

0:48:46.9 Oz Garcia: Oh, yeah.

0:48:50.7 Paul F. Austin: There's a lot of good life left.

0:48:50.8 Oz Garcia: Yeah, but to your spiritual advisor's point that you got, you're gonna have to, you need to fight for your life every single day, right? And I say that with how I would carefully define fighting, not like you're at war, but yes, we have to earn our place in the world, right? I need to earn my stability. I need to earn my peace of mind, right? And there are any number of things that I need to move through any day just like you and anybody that may be listening to us. And I don't take for granted the fact that it's all hard, right? And so what? Right? So into that, the plant universe, plant medicine, plays a really critical role, both in terms of how I look at the world, how it's contributed enormously to my healing post-COVID, my perspective on just about anything.

0:50:04.3 Oz Garcia: Having been a flower child in the 1960s, and here I am hurtling towards my finitude, And I'm connecting with plant medicine all over again.

0:50:19.0 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:50:19.4 Oz Garcia: There are many thinkers from my generation that are rediscovering it. Pollan with all his books on his psychedelic experiences, currently, how to change your mind. I mean, who the fuck would have thought that Michael Pollan was was dropping psychedelics? Here's a guy who's all about food. And the next thing that you know, he's talking about how you can actually become more you by partaking of psychedelics. And you think back about people like Cary Grant and how ahead of his time he was and how my parents were in total disbelief until I finally went and did acid and thought, oh my God, this guy was beyond what anybody could ever imagine. Part of my healing was also doing ketamine. I did ketamine. With a brilliant doctor here in New York, and a lot of it was to deal with the trauma, coming out of the hospital, the conditions that I suffered under, you get very PTSD-eed and unbelievably traumatized. So, although I've done a lot of trauma work, it's like anything in life, something's gonna happen. You're gonna get re-triggered again. So, I did a lot of clinical, ketamine sessions, and that was also remarkable in terms of getting my peace of mind back, getting back to where I needed to be.

0:52:03.1 Paul F. Austin: What was that experience like? I've done ketamine a fair amount of times in a clinical setting. Also in a non-clinical setting, but I have done it in a clinical setting. What was that like for you? What was the experience like? For me, I was... It's like blissful. It's opening, it's like surfing The universe a little bit.

0:52:23.9 Oz Garcia: Heartbreaking. The thing I like about ketamine therapy, when done properly, I'm not a big advocate of doing it at home, right? And having a therapist on Zoom, talking to afterwards, that's my opinion, may work for some people. I don't really get it. And I think that it's exploitive. I think, working with individuals that really know their shit and you're in a clinical setting where you're there, you've got somebody that afterwards can sit with you, is really the way to go. And so for me, it was heartbreaking Paul at the beginning. I would come out of a session an hour and a half later and I would be just completely, caught up in my tears. The first number of times were wherever the experience would take you.

0:53:16.3 Oz Garcia: Right? And the beauty of it all, I think the fact that ketamine can suspend judgment and then elevate you euphorically, gives you the room to actually see things as they are, right. So you can see the patterns of trauma and eventually when I would come back to sessions, I could come in with an agenda and I could really see where the origins of that particular pattern and trauma began. So I absolutely found it to be one of the most powerful means to deal with my PTSD. Just beautiful shit.

0:53:57.3 Paul F. Austin: I'm curious for long COVID, what I'm hearing from you is the ketamine was helpful to release that PTSD, to work through the PTSD, not only of COVID being in a hospital for a month. Right. I think that's even more horrifying.

0:54:14.3 Oz Garcia: Very much so.

0:54:17.3 Paul F. Austin: And part of it may have been physiological as well, like how do you, obviously, there's no separation between the mind and the body. They are one. But how impactful do you think healing that PTSD from the ketamine was in allowing you to heal from long COVID in and of itself?

0:54:31.4 Oz Garcia: I'd say two elements come into that, actually three. So one is meditation, So mindfulness meditation, and certainly doing it in a context like with Joe Dispenza, you're seven days, you're meditating 8-10 hours a day, hardly sleeping at all. And it's very physical. The experience in terms of clearing out a lot of trauma was remarkable. I think that after having done my ketamine sessions got me to the point where I really knew that I wasn't a long hauler. And so you begin to understand, let me put it to you this way, even though I was getting better, my conversation about tiredness was, oh, the reason you're tired is because you're still a long hauler and you gotta go home. You gotta be in bed by 6:00, men, and two, three times a week. That was my experience. You can't go out tonight. You don't know if you're gonna wake up tomorrow with long haul exhaustion. That ended with the combination of ketamine and deep meditation dives.

0:55:52.1 Oz Garcia: Now when I'm tired I'm well aware that I'm tired because my sleeping score shows that I went to bed too late. I didn't keep the room cool. I got up at 5:30 and I stayed up till midnight. In other words, there's evidence I can tell myself, no, you're tired because you're tired, not because you have long haul. And the end of that conversation came about, through my work with ketamine, got clinical ketamine and my work with Joe Dispenza.

0:56:29.2 Paul F. Austin: Wow. Well, and it's almost when sometimes when we are sick, or we identify with the sickness, it becomes intertwined with our ego. And there's a way in which maybe even subconsciously we continue to perpetuate, that illness or that way of being.

0:56:46.0 Oz Garcia: Sure.

0:56:46.5 Paul F. Austin: And so what I'm hearing is the ketamine and the meditation allowed a spaciousness for you to go, that happened, that was real. I no longer, feel that way. There's a choice that's opening up, and I'm gonna basically go into this new direction where I feel like, I am healthy, I'm invigorated, I can do what I wanna do.

0:57:14.0 Oz Garcia: Well, also what it pointed out to me is that trauma's really real. You read about it and you hear about it, and people are talking about trauma now, like what? Trauma. Right? And it's, become almost faddish to talk about it and how people are doing.

0:57:38.1 Paul F. Austin: Exactly.

0:57:38.8 Oz Garcia: I would say often plant medicine inappropriately thinking that this is gonna solve their trauma. Getting rid of trauma is a lifetime project, and I'm not saying that doing ketamine the way that I did is gonna solve your trauma. In my case, it's against the background of doing a lot of work for many years. And being able to then use that as a tool to get further clarification and clear out the trauma dump after COVID. So, I think that if you think that doing plant medicine or ketamine is gonna solve your problem, you gotta think twice about it. I think doing a ceremony is wonderful, but, how are you prepared? How you prepared to enter it? How you prepared to do it, how you're preparing to exit and how do you reintegrate? So, working with people that are skilled in that capacity is really critical. And so that you really derive the benefits that are gonna get you there and get you the experience that's gonna make you more you again. Bring you back and bring you out of trauma.

0:58:54.3 Paul F. Austin: Yeah. Willful, the sense of willful choice. I am willfully choosing how I'm coming into this ceremony, why I want to heal? What I often talk about is psychedelics can be great catalysts. They can help to open up an awareness, but you still have to show up, be committed, and devote to the process and ultimately be a secret and be curious about your own path of healing. And that sovereignty, that feeling of, I can change this. I am, "in control" though, that has a different meaning than I would prefer, I have agency. That I think is a critical aspect of feeling like a healthy human overall.

0:59:41.9 Oz Garcia: No question about it. You and I both know that if you look at the history of human being and if you study the work of Terence McKenna, for instance, you know that all animals, but certainly mammals, probably other species of animals but, animals, I would say many species of birds worldwide, hummingbird seek out whatever they can find in nature to alter their conscience. So an elephant will go out of its way to find fermented fruit, and you'll get herds of stoned elephants walking around. We could say the same is true for different primate species that will go out of their way seasonally, let's say in the Venezuelan Amazon when mushrooms that are the size of flying saucers show up at the same time that tens of thousands of apes come out from the jungle and just are sitting there stoned that out of their gourds. They're putting themselves at high risk. They could be eaten by just about anything. So there must be something in terms of evolution that's making the altered experience so valuable that even at the cost of one's life, there's something occurring where you've got many different species of animals that will at risk of their own limbs, alter their conscience.

1:01:17.8 Paul F. Austin: I love that. And it goes back to what we were talking about before, even with fasting, that these behaviors that are rooted in ancient evolution, even in our body physiology, our biology. There's a natural attraction and pull that we feel to them and honoring that attraction and pull, if it has, like we've talked about with psychedelics, the container, the structure, even with fasting. Juice fast before you do a water fast, before you do a much more extended fast. It's like easing our way into that. And when we're in that, it can be life changing, profoundly life changing. A death and rebirth.

1:01:55.3 Oz Garcia: Correct. And no question about it. So, you and I would agree then that as mammals and as primates, these remarkable apes that we are being able to alter our conscience may have evolutionary benefits. We have cannabinoid receptors in our brains. What are they doing there? We've got receptors for the different psychedelics that we do enjoy, there must be a reason. And it shows up certainly when we do do any kind of plant medicine. And I would... Again, I'm an advocate for it being in a ceremonial context so that it always turns out to be safe. The event should bring you to a certain point of view about your divinity and your place in this world, certainly in this universe.

1:03:00.6 Paul F. Austin: Correct. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Yeah. The mystical experience is what they call it in research, and I just say it's connecting to the divine, to something greater than ourselves, to the mystery, And as you experienced in Esalen, in the EST in the '70s and with LSD, way back, you've continued to honor and devote yourself to that path while simultaneously sort of playing in some of the highest echelons of culture and society. And so I think that that is...

1:03:34.8 Oz Garcia: You can do both. It's...

1:03:38.0 Paul F. Austin: It's a very rich, not financially, but a very sort of rich, nourishing way to live, I find is balancing those, being part of each.

1:03:47.4 Oz Garcia: Let's just say that if you're a hedonist. And you're on a hedonic treadmill, you're not gonna be happy at the end. So, if you're doing plant medicine as a hedonistic pursuit, I suppose you may get something out of it or not, but, I would question your hedonistic tendencies. So, if you're living in New York City and you're on a hedonic treadmill, nothing's ever enough in terms of material wealth, the things that you desire and...

1:04:32.2 Paul F. Austin: Consume, I would say in some ways.

1:04:34.1 Oz Garcia: Consume, yeah. That material, material stuff that you're gonna consume, nothing's ever gonna be enough in that regard. I think that for me, what was pivotal was getting as ill as I did. That really brought me to a point where what was I doing before I got sick? So, it wasn't so much about, yeah, I would do my excursions and I would do a vipassana, but eventually you come back and the value system isn't altered. It's still like, I got my rock and roll office and my rock and roll persona, or so, I would believe, and so it matters. And when you come that close to dying, all of a sudden it's like, what? It's like Neo in in the matrix. There's the scene where Fishburne offers him an option, the blue pill of the red pill. If you take the red pill, you're gonna go back and you're gonna think that everything is the way that it is, although you're just not gonna see reality for what it is, or take the blue pill. And after being really sick, I'm on the blue pill the whole time that it's rare that I'm gonna buy into the hedonic way of living in New York City. That just makes you a miserable fuck in the end anyway.

1:06:07.8 Paul F. Austin: Oz Garcia, Oz, it's been an honor to sit down with you for an hour. We could go for another hour at some point. We'll extend this conversation.

1:06:22.8 Oz Garcia: Of course, anytime you want. It's great story.

1:06:25.3 Paul F. Austin: This was so fun. Ozgarcia.com if you wanna learn more about Oz. And you're pretty active on social as well. Instagram?

1:06:33.0 Oz Garcia: Yes. Oz Wellness on Instagram.

1:06:35.2 Paul F. Austin: Fantastic. Well, it's been an honor, thank you. Thank you for sharing everything that you've shared, for opening up the way that you have. And I just had a ton of fun with you today. It was a really good time.

1:06:48.5 Oz Garcia: Same here, Paul. Remarkable. See you soon.

1:06:55.3 Paul F. Austin: Hey, listeners, Paul here. I hope you enjoyed our episode today with Oz Garcia. Remember to head to the link in the description to go deeper into this episode with full show notes, transcripts, and all of the links that we mentioned in this conversation. If you found this conversation meaningful or inspiring, please consider sharing it with someone you know. Thank you for tuning in today to The Psychedelic Podcast, and we'll see you next week

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