THIRD WAVE PODCAST
Making Psychedelics Part Of Your Fitness Routine
Physical fitness is the focus of this week’s episode! We’re joined by nutritionist and fitness coach Matt Cooper, who explains how microdosing can help optimize both mind and body. He describes how his experiences with psychedelics have helped him become a healthier person, and where microdosing would fit in with a fitness and wellbeing protocol.
- Matt describes how a mainstream fitness regime actually left him in poor health.
- Switching to alternative fitness concepts helped Matt become healthier and happier.
- Matt says that psychedelics can be part of a fitness routine in a way that optimizes both mind and body.
00:25 Paul Austin: Welcome, back to the Third Wave Podcast listeners. I’m doing this from Koh Pha Ngan, in Thailand, so on vacation, at least for the next few days before I head to Amsterdam for a week and then onwards to Zurich to speak at a conference on March 14. I will be speaking at a Trend Day Conference hosted by the GDI Institute, a Think Tank in Switzerland, where I will be speaking to business leaders from primarily Germany and Switzerland but also France about the intersection of microdosing and self-optimization. So the title of my talk is, “microdosing, Integrating Psychedelics Into Modern Life.” So I’ve been spending a lot of time preparing for that, spending some time just relaxing on the beach here at Koh Pha Ngan and it’s gorgeous and so that’s a brief update of my own personal life.
01:15 PA: Now, for the podcast I did this with a friend of mine who I’ve gotten to know over the past couple of months Matt Cooper who is a nutritionist and fitness coach and in this podcast we basically go into how microdosing fits into a larger holistic health program to both optimize our own mind and through that state to optimize our body. So in this podcast Cooper goes into his own experiences with psychedelics and how they’ve helped him to become a healthier person and then the details of how microdosing can fit into an overall fitness and well-being protocol.
01:50 PA: And as a note to this Matt Cooper, myself, and Derick Yoder, another business colleague are now starting a coaching program. So we’ve rolled out the Synthesis Retreat which we’ll be holding in Amsterdam in April. That is a retreat using legal psilocybin truffles in Amsterdam, it’s a three-day retreat oriented towards personal development, creativity, innovation, insights and as part of this Synthesis program we’re also rolling out customized coaching protocols for those who want to use both microdoses and macrodoses to optimize their well-being. And that could be to initiate flow states, to explore the boundaries of your own personal development. That could be to look at getting in on a potentially groundbreaking program, if you’re a coach yourself. So if either of those programs either the Synthesis Retreat in Amsterdam or if you’re interested in our coaching program just reach out to me through email or one of our team members and we will get back to you right away. So without further ado I bring it to you Matt Cooper.
03:03 PA: So we’re here with Matt Cooper Peak Performance Specialist and someone who has become a friend of mine over the past few months. Matt and I first hopped on a call, I wanna say back in September as he reached out to me with some of the work that he’s doing around holistic peak performance. So Matt I just wanna welcome you to the podcast, it’s great to be able to have this conversation that we’ve had in private in a more kind of public view.
03:26 Matt Cooper: Yeah, man, thanks for having me on, I appreciate you.
03:28 PA: So let’s just start by digging into who you are. So who is Matt Cooper, how did you become a peak performance specialist/Biohacker/Guru on functional fitness, and where do psychedelic play a role in that process for you in terms of really becoming interested in healing the self?
03:49 MC: Yeah, great question. So I’m actually a nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach and then I also… I work with everyday people, and then also student and professional athletes and I work with them on holistic nutrition, pick a panoramic approach to… I’m optimizing sleep, light and of course macro and microdosing fit into that workflow as well. And then closing that loop by having them do some iteration of movement, strength and conditioning things like that and so I actually got started traditionally back in fitness, just wanting to develop myself and then from there I wound up helping others, long story short, I got far enough down the mainstream health and fitness pipeline that I actually wound up making myself pretty sick using what I would call mainstream health and fitness techniques and then I really was forced to change. I went through a lot of hard times in my life at the same time, and then what I wound up doing was I actually wound up using, I would call it a little bit more of alternative health or preventative health, I started going away from Western medicine I learned about things like biohacking, paleo eating, ancestral health and wellness. And then of course what that did was it helped resurrect my health and it cracked me open to new ventures of self-development too. And that has since evolved and included microdosing and macrodosing as well.
05:13 PA: So let’s dig into that story of yours a little bit in terms of what were some of the “standard things” that you were following from the mainstream medical perspective? And how did that lead you into a bottom point or a place where you just realized that this was breaking you, that it wasn’t effective at all and that you were heading towards destruction so to say?
05:33 MC: So I wound up basically following what everybody thinks is a healthy diet. I wound up eating frequent small meals throughout the day, I was doing it to develop my fitness and then I was not really necessarily paying attention to where my foods were coming from, whether it was organic, was it grass-fed, was it wild caught, sustainably sourced, so on and so forth? And then in addition to that I was taking supplements that were more designed for fitness rather than coming from a holistic perspective and these things actually led to me having hormone issues, blood sugar issues. And while I fancied myself somebody who’s helping others with health I wound up a becoming a cautionary tale and mind you this is when I was 24. And that’s a pretty hard pill to swallow at any age let alone when you’re supposed to be pretty close to your prime physically. And so from there I had a constellation of life issues, personal issues and so essentially that’s what caused me to bark up these other trees. And so I was following things that I had always heard and I even was telling at our people were best practice for health, and it honestly wound up crippling me.
06:40 PA: And so, where did the change come then? You’re headed down this path, you’re following maybe a more standard American diet, taking supplements that obviously are ideal. Where does the change come? Where do you kind of come to recognize that the models that you were following are inaccurate and that maybe it’s time to look into a different paradigm for health?
07:01 MC: I think the breaking point for me was when I had a relative die, and I was having financial issues, and then I just looked myself in the mirror one day and I could see that I looked worse, I felt worse and I kind of broke down and I called the one of my best friends, Ryan Frisinger and he also is a practitioner in the space too. And had some talks with him and I realized that I hadn’t grown personally, as well. I hadn’t been doing these things that I’d wanted to do and I just felt like I wasn’t showing up as myself, day in and day out. And so that was really the pivot point. My friend, Chris Albert, another practitioner in the space, he works a little bit more on what we do, but with veterans. And so he’ll say, “People change out of inspiration or desperation.” And in my case, it was definitely the ladder, and it sucked, but I’m really thankful it happened now because it really helped shape who I am and led me to where I’m at. And so that’s my own anecdotal version of sort of the body keeping a score. And by that I mean, I haven’t ever seen anybody who doesn’t have… Basically, I haven’t seen anybody who has some sort of health crisis, who doesn’t also have some sort of resistance to change, some sort of life issues, some sort of blockage in their life.
08:14 MC: And from there, that led me tying all of my work together too as I helped myself. So, taking more of a holistic approach, I started optimizing not only everyone’s diet from more of a ancestral health perspective, still helping with what I was already good at, the strength and conditioning. And then in addition to that too, also helping people do things like releasing trauma from the body and out of their nervous system and really kind of helping them own their own role in their own life and that’s sort of both where not only myself but my work started to change too and I’ve since helped people in the addiction community with that, and then I’m actually starting working with gang rehabilitation in that space too.
08:53 PA: Well, and so, let’s tie psychedelics into this now, because obviously this is the focal point of our conversation and this is a topic that I touch on from time to time in the podcast is the ability both of microdoses but also higher doses to make us more adaptable to change. So you mentioned this now that a big part of physical illness is resisting change, and being resistant to change. And I think that’s particularly true in our western medical perspective, because so many people have been, we’ve been conditioned to believe in the “Standard American diet,” to believe that low-fat high-carb is quite healthy and now we’re realizing that there were all these profit motives behind it, by and large that the sugar industry paid off certain companies to do research, to show that sugar wasn’t near as detrimental as it actually is. They did specific research to show that fat was unhealthy, when in fact there was actually no relationship between, for example, saturated fat intake and cardiovascular issues.
09:56 PA: So we’re just starting to unwind from this profit-driven, both nutritional and fitness perspective and obviously psychedelics play a tremendous role in this because one other thing that we’re starting to realize as we step out of the Western medical model, is that distinct relationship between the mind and the body. So you mentioned the book, “Your Body Keeps the Score” which is about how when we heal trauma in the mind or as we work trauma out in the body, that also helps to heal the mind. And psychedelics then, are acting as this really interesting bridge that ties the ability to heal the mind to also an ability to heal the body.
10:37 PA: We’re seeing this in anecdotal reports, for example, with microdosing, where people are noticing that as they start to microdose, they’re starting to take more ownership over their life, they’re starting to wake up to the fact that they are empowered to make changes in their health, in their nutrition, in their fitness, with the way that they meditate, in the way that they sleep. And so the key then to that is when we become more adaptable to change, and this is what research now is even showing at Imperial College is that, psychedelics just make us more sensitive to context and environment. So then the key is, if you do start, for example, microdose or take high doses of psychedelics, what isn’t important or isn’t as important, is the actual drug. What is much more important is the environment.
11:22 PA: So this kind of ties well into our conversation, is a lot of people are still misinformed about what an ideal diet and exercise routine is like? I see this most often with people for example who are vegans, and while I think veganism is certainly healthier than the standard American diet, by and large because people are finally eating fresh fruits and vegetables, there are also significant downsides to the fact that most vegan food is not very nutrient-dense. And in fact, having animal fat, has always been a critical part of the ancestral diet. So anyway, all this is to say is… And to wind up with a question and at the tail end of this is, from your personal experience then, how did psychedelics start to tie into this transition for you into a more preventative approach and whether that was microdoses or even higher doses of psychedelics?
12:11 MC: So, in a nutshell, I use psychedelics to reprogram the mind-body interface. And by that I mean, just the same as how I’ll have somebody do trauma relief exercises to help them stop holding tension in their body and help chase some of these ghosts in a machine out of them. Meaning, the way that stress and trauma actually can help, excuse me, can actually help reprogram in a negative way, the nervous system…
12:34 PA: Let’s go into that before we go into the healing. How does stress and trauma genetically reprogram us in a negative way? Let’s go into those details a little bit?
12:42 MC: Yeah, so in a nutshell, what can happen, and this can happen whether you’re just having life stress, or whether there is some type of traumatic event in your past. But basically how it happens for most people is you get almost like a gear shift permanently stuck in some low level of fight or flight albeit permanently or at least much more often than you should be normally. And so from there, this is an evolutionary defense mechanism, your body doesn’t know whether you’re actually just stressed because you have too much work emails, or maybe because something traumatic happened to you in your past, or whether there’s a 300 pound tiger chasing you. So from there, your body is always going to allocate as much energy as it can on defense and survival, it’s just what we’re hardwired to do. And in this case, that means we’re gonna start depleting out our energy from a cellular level outward, from the mitochondria level outward. Flashback to that bio class no one paid attention to, those are the little energy batteries and the energy currency of our cell that fuels everything that we do.
13:44 MC: So from here, picture this, you have all of your energy or at least more of it now being allocated on survival and from there, all of these other systems like hormones, muscle growth, fat loss, detoxification and also balances of neurotransmitters, our brain chemistry, things that make us who we are, all of these things have less resources from which to operate and so we wind up making ourselves sick because of the thoughts that we think, potentially negative emotions that we’re either spiritually bypassing or not dealing with, traumatic events and so on and so forth. And on top of that too, stress and trauma can actually make our nervous system get repatterned in a way that it actually holds tension as well.
14:33 PA: Let’s then continue that in terms of what can psychedelics do then in terms of healing that trauma, healing that stress, particularly in a way that is maybe more accelerated than other modalities?
14:47 MC: Absolutely, so psychedelics can recreate the certain setting biochemically speaking of flow states. And so from here, part of that is also a relaxation of the nervous system and that’s what helps drive this out of the body. Further more, psychedelics also can provide a boost to your neurotransmitters especially, glutamate, serotonin, things like that and having a proper balance of these neurotransmitters, will help you show up as yourself day-to-day. And then from there you’ll have more motivation to make changes in your own life, not to mention the changes that the psychedelics are gonna make on your nervous system and health in and of itself. Furthermore, what I like to do is I actually like to put people on specific types of diets after we do our health intake, and these diets also provide the requisite backdrop, if you will, an environment for the psychedelics to be further enabled even better. So I guess that’s something that people who are already maybe not dealing with all these issues but simply wanna optimize their microdose experience that’s something for them to consider too.
15:56 PA: Well, let’s dig in on that because I think this is really what I wanna start to flesh out in this conversation is this relationship between diet, exercise, sleep, and then potentially something like microdosing. Because I see a lot of people, particularly those who are healing from traumas, we could call it PTSD, depression, addiction, and I see people in the psychedelic space as well who tend to rely exclusively on one modality, psychedelics for healing and insight rather than really looking at the holistic picture and we were talking about this before we went live on the call but from my perspective and understanding even when I was getting into psychedelics earlier on, when I was 19 or 20, psychedelics are what kicked me off on kinda my personal development path in terms of looking at what I could do to optimize my own life to minimize suffering, to find joy and to be content with where I was, to find meaning and purpose and work all of these things.
16:54 PA: But what it took after that psychedelic experience, was in utilizing the insights to make concrete changes to diet and when I mean diet, that’s when I started to eat a paleo diet, eating ancestral health diet, it was a lot of vegetables, high in nutrients, meat, and really looking at where everything came from. That’s when I started to look at crossfit, so functional fitness and paying very close attention to how I treated my body and then also sleep quality. So for example, making sure that I slept in a dark room and that I tried to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. And what I noticed, and I think this is true for things like depression and other issues that diet, exercise and sleep is about 80% to 90% of what you actually need in order to heal and that psychedelics should ultimately not be something that is used exclusively but that should be used as, what we were talking about earlier, as a, like a ace in the whole. So I’d love to hear your perspective then as we dig deeper into that.
17:55 PA: So first let’s just start by laying the ground-scape for neurotransmitters. What are the main neurotransmitters that people should pay attention to, and if they’re lacking to some degree, what, from a diet perspective, exercise perspective can be done to improve certain neurotransmitter levels? And then after we talk about diet and exercise, then let’s dig into psychedelics a little bit in terms of how that can also help.
18:20 MC: I love the workflow. So the main neurotransmitters you’re gonna wanna pay attention to are dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin and GABA. And dopamine is gonna be a big one for this self-optimizing crowd and so is GABA, they’re all big. So when I first start with people, I have them take a personality test that actually unveils their underlying balance of neurotransmitters, it’s almost like a scientific astrology test, it’s a lot of fun. And from there, people who are very dopamine dominant, let’s say they have a dopaminergic mind and what that means is you’re very achievement driven. The Michael Jordans, the Kobe Bryants of the world, the Tim Duncans, the Warren Buffets, the people who have… They’re able to put an abstract goal, off on the horizon and do the requisite things day in and day out, to get there.
19:12 MC: And when your nervous system is re-programmed in a negative way, by stress or trauma, it can create a sort of a deficit in some of these neurotransmitters and guess what, if you have a deficit in dopamine, you’re probably gonna have a difficult time finding joy in life. You’re gonna have a difficult time finding joy in achieving some of these little things that ultimately are tied to self-development. And not only that, you’re also gonna have a difficult time with fitness as well, and getting that requisite dopamine hit off of your training regimen, whether you’re a high-level athlete or like most people listening, just an everyday individual. And so, the other side with the neurotransmitters, that people are gonna wanna pay attention to is those of you who are listening who, your head is always swirling with thoughts, and you have trouble being present, and you have trouble getting to sleep at night, and you feel like sometimes you can’t just let go, and you’re often living in the future or the past. People like that, often have an imbalance of GABA, yeah, and Glutamate. And so what that means is that your neurotransmitter balance is shifted and you don’t have enough of the ones that relax and calm your mind like GABA and serotonin. And you have too many excitatory ones.
20:33 PA: Is Acetylcholine more excitatory then?
20:35 MC: Yeah, dopamine, acetylcholine, glutamate is another one that we can kind of amass in large amounts ’cause of the common American food supply. Those are the main excitatory ones and norepinephrine too. But that isn’t often triggered as much or present as much. But basically, balancing those out is something that psychedelics can really, really seriously help with, and the right kind of diet can help with that too. And so, part of what I’ll have people do in a diet, we’re talking ancestral things like that, I’ll have them really, really optimize their Omega 3:6 ratio. And sometimes I might have people do a [unclear speech] fish oil, like a mega-dose bio-hack, another thing my friend Ryan originally turned me on to, and I’ll do things like that. And there’s some other things too we can talk about that make the nervous system and the brain as pliable as possible, via something called neuro-plasticity. And so, through that, I can then sprinkle microdosing into the mix and they will be… You’ll get about as good as a microdosing experience as you will ever have. And I have done it in myself, I’ve done it in folks who are trying to just self-optimize and just show up as themselves, day in and day out, they have some sort of interior goal they’re working on.
21:51 MC: I’ve also had it with professional athletes and maybe people who train at a high intense degree, like people cross-fit and stuff like that. In those crowds, they can get hyperactive reflex times, the game or whatever they’re doing, seems to slow down. And even for every day people, it’s like you’re gonna have a easier time finding the right muscles that you’re trying to work and develop, and again, you’ll have more energy and focus, so your fitness sessions will be better, no matter what level you’re at.
22:18 PA: So let’s dig into this a little bit more than in terms of what’s been your personal experience with microdosing when used within a self-optimized regime? So what are days that you microdose? What do you do on those days? How are you intentionally integrating microdosing to help bring things to the next level?
22:35 MC: So, I did the classic every fourth per day and that was with psilocybin specifically. I’ve also experimented, if we’re just talking strictly microdose for the time being, I’ve also done microdose marijuana, things like that. Although what I got in all my experiences, whether it’s macro or micro, what I got the biggest benefit out of was when I was doing the “psilocybin cycle”. And when I was doing that, the first few times I did it, and then I went to go train, I increased my vertical jump at a pretty noticeable amount, at a ridiculous level. And that’s interesting for me, because I was so far down the fitness and body building pipeline for a while before I started training, and what’s known to a lot of people potentially listening, is more of a Marv Marinovich style, that’s my training style. I basically kinda de-programmed some elements of my athleticism because I was too far down just the building the body spectrum. And then, it was interesting because when I was microdosing, I noticed my muscles were actually able to not hold as much tension. Again, the neurological cascade has other benefits too. And I noticed that I was able to contract, basically reload. So I was able to fire, reload, and then re-fire quickly, which is what athletes need to do in sports.
23:53 MC: And so that was… That was just an anecdotal benefit for me. I know not everybody’s trying to get more athletic or anything like that, but just to tell my own story, that was the first thing I noticed, and I really surprised myself. All my movements, everything was really fluid. And I also noticed that I had a healthy, higher pain tolerance too and was able to exert myself more when I was training, and my focus was off the charts.
24:16 PA: So that was your experience with micrdosing? But that was enabled by your diet and your exercise. So, we haven’t really gone into the specifics of that yet. What do you eat on a day-to-day basis? What does your diet look like? What does your exercise regimen look like? How are you optimizing these other things that we talk about in terms of diet, exercise and sleep?
24:34 MC: Great question. So I should also say it isn’t like I went from starting from absolute zero to making all these changes and then it’s like, “Oh, well which variable is doing the work.” No, actually, in fact, I was doing the diet and training piece beforehand, and really had been… I’ve had a lot of mileage under the tires with that, so by the time I was able to introduce microdosing. It was strictly as a new variable, a solo variable. And so, it was pretty clear to me that that was the only difference in this routine. Again, there’s little minor things, how you’re sleeping day-to-day, things like that, that can always fluctuate with this, stress, stuff like that. But I’m happy to say that there definitely was some magic in that. Now day in and day out, I am a proponent of… For a lot of folks, intermittent fasting and I’ll qualify that statement with women, I’ll dose it a little bit lighter, just because the hormonal system’s a little more complex, but…
25:29 MC: For me daily and a lot of the men listening, I will actually fast by skipping breakfast each day and then I will yolk all of my food intake into roughly six to eight hour window, and then from there I’m basically eating a lunch and a dinner. And so each meal is consisting of being like protein-centric or meat-centric and I’m always using something that’s ethically raised, sustainably sourced and coming with the right set of nutrients. I eat an abundance of vegetables to get enough nutrients. Honestly, you’re looking at like probably roughly 8, maybe as high as 12 palm-size portions of vegetables a day. So it is still a Plant-based diet even though I’m eating meat. I usually, on my days of rest or when I’m not doing a whole lot, I’m going pretty high in healthy fat. Sometimes that’s coming through the meat, sometimes I’m adding things like nuts or avocados. Primal Kitchen dressing is a favorite of mine, though vested interest I cause. And then a couple of days a week, I actually engage in a strategic carbohydrate re-feed and that’s more so just to enjoy life, ’cause the palate’s one of the gifts we’ve been given in life, and also because of the way the effect it has on my body. It helps my performance and maintains my physique enough to the point where I feel like I’m fit enough.
26:44 PA: Sure. So it’s a nutrient-dense diet, you throw in the fasting. Let’s go into the fasting a little bit. What research do we have about the efficacy of fasting? I know it’s something to do with mitochondrial plasticity. I know it had something to do with anti-inflammatory, anti-inflammation, which is obviously linked to things like depression. So yeah, just if you could go a little bit into then what is the science that we have and why fasting is a viable and excellent modality to use.
27:09 MC: Absolutely. So, I’ll give a few answers for health and fitness in general. And then, since it’s mainly microdosing focused, I’ll go into how that ties in a little bit heavier. And so, from what we know about our ancestors, we evolved with much more time spent in a non-fed state than in a fed state. And so, part of the issue that I had with my own health and now I know a lot of people, they have now is they think they need to eat small meals, super often, or they end up grazing and eating too frequently. It’s not necessarily that they eat too much, that they eat too frequently. And so, if you’re always putting water in the reservoir, so to speak, you’re never able to get to the water that’s at the bottom of the reservoir. And so, it’s the same way in the body. Your body, when you’re fasting and spending less time overall eating is essentially cleansing weaker disease containing cells, and pruning them and replacing them with newer ones. And, there’s a few processes: There’s the protein folding or proteostasis, there is cellular apoptosis, and then there’s autophagy.
28:10 MC: And through that, you are getting a few different benefits, fat loss, disease prevention. You’re actually getting a lot more focus, which also that’s where microdosing can tie in as well and you’re sort of optimizing your hormones too. And then from there, it’s actually helping with something called, that I mentioned before, neuroplasticity. It’s actually helping your brain function, your cognitive function, your neurological function, and that’s where you can really bio hack the system by adding in the microdosing because the microdosing is going to super charge that effect.
28:47 PA: How, how will that super charge the effect?
28:48 MC: Essentially, from how microdosing works, with your neurotransmitters, the nervous system in a brain. By having your brain be a lot more pliable for these effects, you’re essentially enabling the microdosing to take place a lot better because of things like BDNF production or Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor and then also kind of co-supporting the production of neurotransmitters and a flexible “nervous system”.
29:13 PA: Let’s kinda now zoom out a little bit. So we’ve been talking a lot about the concrete, we’ve been talking a lot about practical tips, talked about diet. Actually, before we get into the more abstract, let’s just briefly go over then exercise and sleep, if someone’s looking to dial in these other modalities. What are you doing from an exercise perspective, and what are you doing from a sleep perspective to make sure that those are optimized as well?
29:35 MC: So for sleep, what I’m doing… You mentioned them as well. I’m actually having people sleep in as close to a pitch black room as possible with an eye cover or essentially blackout shades. I’m having people unplug their electrical devices within about four feet of the bed, power down their WiFi at night, put what you call anti-blue light settings on, on their devices at night. And then, if they’re really into optimization, which ideally they would be, they would… ‘Cause it’s a set it-and-forget-it type bio-hack, but they would buy amber light bulbs from Amazon and then put those in their apartment or house. And then from there, the one other thing is you can wear blue-light glasses, if you are gonna look at screens. And they’re not fool-proof because some light can get in and outside of that, but you’ve taken those other precautions then you’re probably not… You’re doing a hell of a lot better.
30:25 MC: And as far as exercise goes, it really just depends on the goal. For most people listening, I’m having them go high intensity, low volume. So they’re doing about two to three sessions of strength training a week, and maybe a couple of sessions of movement or walking or conditioning. With the general pop the gen pop crowd, there’s a little bit more room for flexibility there, so I try to just find something that someone’s gonna enjoy doing anyways, and then have them do that, because they’re more, most likely to do that, at least in the beginning. If it’s an athlete then they’re simply just doing their Atheltic Development Program, whatever that might be, some of those Marv Marinovich type protocols that I’ll have people do. I nerd out on that personally because you’ll actually be able to train real athleticism, instead of just making people get better at exercise, and so microdosing can really help with that too.
31:16 PA: So we’ve got into a lot of the practicalities. We’ve talked about a lot of these obviously, I think one higher end note to emphasize is based in evolutionary biology. A lot of the things that you’re recommending from a sleep perspective, from a diet perspective, from an exercise perspective are based in our roots and what we did as Homosapiens for tens of thousands of years. And obviously then the advent of agriculture and civilization has brought on a number of lifestyle changes, particularly in the 20th-century that have proved to be tremendously unhealthy for us as human beings. And so, I’d be curious to hear first your thoughts on, “Where do psychedelics then play that role?” Because you know, one thing that I often think about is the more that I analyze larger trends, the more I see us moving back to this kind of neo-tribalistic… Living arrangement where we’re living in shared living facilities, where we have these festivals like Burning Man that encourage self-reliance and autonomy, where more and more people are transitioning to these ancestral diets and the functional fitness. Where do you see psychedelics fitting into that sort of evolutionary biology framework in terms of being an ideal modality to encourage holistic health?
32:26 MC: It’s interesting because I think at some level with technology, we’re looking at a transhumanist type movement where we’re actually guiding our own evolution, things that Ray Kurzweil would talk about. But at the same time, as you mentioned with the neo-tribalistic movement, we’re actually looking at doing things like recreating rites of passage that have been lost in our society and doing more tribesmanship type activities and ways of living, and also re-evolving the way we eat and live, just enough to run parallel with our own genome, you know what I mean and then we can dose ethically and properly technology. So, I see psychedelics working in both ways. Honestly, I see psychedelics working to help self-development and that might mean relieving stress and anxiety. It might mean being sort of a kickstarter or jumper cables for some sort of goal or self-optimizing path. I see them also in a macro-dose, being used as a substitute for a rite of passage in our society where we really don’t have them.
33:27 MC: And then on more of a technological bio-hack in self-optimization side of the spectrum, I see ’em being used for things like we were talking about, like bio-hacking your health, your athletic performance, your fitness and also just other aspects too, that might not even be related to fitness, but our biological brain function, creative output and again, tying the mind and body together in such a way that you’re optimizing both. And that, in and of itself is really kind of an in-context definition of a holistic program.
34:01 PA: Absolutely, and I think then the one final piece that we’re missing, which I’m sure a lot of listeners are also thinking about, “How much has been on my mind,” in which we’ve probably discussed at some point, is… Obviously this movement towards self-optimization is great, but some might say that it’s reminiscent of typical millennial push, which is this navel-gazing obsession with the self. This navel-gazing obsession with, “I’m just gonna make myself perfect. I’m gonna optimize myself. Who really cares about what’s going on outside of me?” But I’d be curious to hear your thoughts then. How does optimizing the self enable us to be better and bigger contributors to community at large?
34:39 MC: So, I think it, at some level it comes down to just, it’s simple as how I look at relationships is, you gotta be able to fill your own cup before you can fill someone else’s cup and you’re not in a position to help others unless you fully healed and hardened yourself. And it’s not to say you can’t be nice or give back or do charity when you’re in that state, but really it’s sort of the way of the shaman. You have to eat the sin and get sick yourself before you can teach others and help others. And so, that’s actually where I’m gonna pivot slightly and use myself as an example here. The unique journey that I’ve had where I’ve gone from, as a kid, if I was growing up today, I probably would have been on the autism spectrum and finding things that I found and for lack of a better word, cured a lot of those issues that I had and that I also then exacerbated later in life. I’ve sort of done a neo-shamanistic version of that. In fact, I joke I’m a sport shaman now ’cause I work with the athletes still too. And so, now that I’ve been able to go through all that, I actually truly can help others, but I had to then first go through it myself. And now, if you want a little insight into the business model, my 30,000-foot view is to essentially work with a small stable of high-level professional athletes, NBA players ideally for the most part and people I wanna work with.
36:03 MC: And then free up even more of my own time to just simply use my gifts and knowledge to give back, whether it’s having people come to the facility for getting rehabilitation and have them do trauma release exercises, me, go to places like that. And also online too, and give seminars on healthy eating, things like that, ’cause there is a shockingly high amount of this country that even in left and right coast that doesn’t eat healthy and doesn’t source their food properly and things like that. And I just see how it’s gonna trap a lot of people in these states and so that’s just sort of my mission, it’s to use my gifts of health, fitness, performance optimization to help people with some self-transcendence and also simply just getting better health, fitness. And by doing both of those things they’re gonna co-enable. And just to tie this back to the general point now, I think you really have to know how to help yourself before you can really know how to help somebody else.
37:01 PA: And this reminds me of a guy who’s been making the rounds a bit lately within the cultural zeitgeist, so to say, is Jordan Peterson who is this University of Toronto clinical psychologist and who’s been speaking out a lot about the role and power of the individual and the necessity to take ownership over one’s life and really take responsibility for it before you feel enabled to go out and make change on a huge scale. And I think that’s a really important part is there are a lot of people who want to make a tremendous impact or who want to be heard even from an activist perspective or changing the world in a better way, but in many ways, they’re falling short on their own scale in terms of actually working on themselves.
37:47 PA: And I think that for me is where self-optimization plays a key role and I’ll use myself as an example in this framework as well. One of the only reasons that I could take the huge, both financial but also personal risk to my own well-being to start a website like Third Wave which is really the first public website that approaches psychedelics from a non-scientific perspective. So you have organizations like MAPS and Heffter and Beckley and they are still keeping their conversations largely within the institutional framework. And one of the big things that I’ve emphasized of what we’re doing here at Third Wave is we’re looking not at institutions, but we’re looking at generally, culturally how do we change minds and hearts about the use of psychedelics? And that’s a huge risk to take. And I was often, in my early developing years when I was 17, 18, 19, 20… I was called selfish, and I was told that I was focused too much on myself.
38:38 PA: And sometimes I even still receive that feedback. But my rationale, we could say, is the only reason I’ve been able to take on this big goal of changing the cultural perception of psychedelics, is because I’ve done all of the small work of making sure that my diet is dialed in. I’m making sure that I sleep and my sleep is extremely high quality. I’m making sure that, from an exercise perspective, I’m taking care of myself. Even things like traveling. I travel quite a bit because I think it’s important to expand our sense of horizon, and expand our boundaries. That has also played a facilitating role in making me feel comfortable in stepping out about a highly taboo and stigmatized topic. And I know without a doubt that if I hadn’t dialed in all of those little things initially, that I wouldn’t have been able to take the huge risk of doing something like this. And I think this, then dials in to what we’re discussing here, in terms of the role of microdosing in psychedelics, is my early psychedelic experiences and this is with higher doses of LSD, is what really gave me the courage to say fuck all the normal shit that people are going through. Fuck the corporate lifestyle, fuck the standard American diet. I could tell, when I was 19 or 20, that that was all bullshit, and that it wasn’t in-line with really empowering ourselves as individuals.
40:00 PA: And so, it was those early psychedelic experiences that then gave me the courage to go out and do something that was more unconventional. And I think this is representative of what we’re going through as a culture at wide, is more and more people are waking up to the fact that they’re dissatisfied. But not only that they’re dissatisfied, but that they don’t need to deal with this bullshit anymore. That the fact that psychedelics are stigmatized and prohibited is horseshit. The fact that we were sold that a high carb diet is healthy and that a high fat diet is unhealthy, that was also just scientifically, empirically not true. And so, it’s really this… And I could even tie religion into it, which I won’t at this moment, but that was also a big part of me. When we start to leave this old infrastructure, I found psychedelics to be the tool that helped to facilitate and catalyze that total transition into having the courage to step into this new worldview where we really take ownership over ourselves to optimize the way that we live, the way that we interact with others, the work that we do, aligning who we are on an individual level, on a purpose-driven level with what we’re doing externally.
41:09 PA: And so this is why this conversation and why we’ve been able to connect in so many ways about this because I think we’re just at the forefront of a larger movement that’s happening where people are waking up and saying, “I don’t need to deal with this anymore. I wanna live a truly tremendous life.” And we finally now have those tools at our disposal.
41:28 PA: And of course, from my perspective, I think learning and understanding how to work with psychedelics within a larger personal development framework, within a larger framework of taking ownership, is the number one tool that people can use to facilitate and catalyze that transition in a short period of time. And I think this also ties in, then, to what you were speaking about, coming of age ritual, because I think the big thing that everyone has been missing out on, is that coming-of-age ritual. And obviously, psychedelics have been used for thousands, in fact tens of thousands of years for this exact purpose because they are the safest, most consistent, most reliable way to induce this post-egoic experience, where we’re able to see outside the narrow confines of the individual ego of “I just need to take care of myself, I just need to take care of my nuclear family.” Instead, going through that post-egoic experience allows us to see the utility and the beauty of interconnectedness. And I think then once we’re able to operate from that perspective, not only do we take better care of ourselves, but then we also feel a need to take care of our community, and take care of those around me. So that’s my lecture and spiel and kind of big little thing about why I think psychedelics are the number one tool for personal growth and development.
42:49 MC: Yeah, yeah. You’re not on a soap box at all, man. That was very eloquently said, and I couldn’t agree more. And to be honest with you, to be fully transparent, I learned a few things in kind of a rearview-mirror way about my own path hearing you speak. So a, I appreciate you saying that, b, I think, “heal myself, harden myself, change the world,” it’s actually something that my friend Keith Norris, one of the co-founders of Paleo-fx will say. But that resonated with me a lot, whether it was society’s bullshit, society’s version of an American dream, that I wasn’t really consulted on to see if that was what I wanted. And everything else that you said, too. I just… Ever since I was younger, it wasn’t ’cause I wanted to be against society or a rebel of any kind, it just sort of… I would just think through things that everybody else took as the Gospel. That was really just what I took from what you said and how that applied to me too. And I think psychedelics, just to tie it back and not get too far off track, I think psychedelics are, no pun intended, a gateway drug into better things, self-optimization, and through that, it’s gonna come helping other people.
44:00 MC: ‘Cause I know, once I helped myself, I was able to recognize it and see it in other people and then I was like, “Holy shit!” You know, everything from PTSD, people who are stressed out, people who are sick with various health issues, trauma, addiction. I was like, “There’s a biological piece to this that no one is talking about. And how can I now use what I’ve learned to help other people, whether they have a kid who’s somewhere on the autism spectrum disorder, who’s not eating in a way to heal from that, or whether it’s a grown person who needs to heal their body.”
44:31 PA: And I think to continue that then, both to build off of what you said, and also to emphasize something that maybe I didn’t emphasize enough, is psychedelics are a tremendous tool and this is only if they’re used within a responsible, structured, intentional framework. And so, I think that’s the last point to emphasize is psychedelics hold such a tremendous potential to catalyze change in transformation both in microdoses, but I also think, more importantly in macro-doses. And I talked about this on the podcast before, and we’ve probably shared this information. Macro-doses are great for paradigm shifts. If you’re stuck at a point and you need new directions, macro-doses are great to get that insight, “Okay, I need to go in this direction, I need to do this, or I need to change this or make this adjustment.” Microdoses are really great for the ongoing process. And I think the reason psychedelics are making a come back… One of the many, many reasons psychedelics are making a come back, is because people are searching for something that helps them to make meaning.
45:30 PA: Meaning making tools and that’s whats psychedelics are. But if that’s not done within a larger framework of for example holistic health, physical, emotional, mental, if that’s not done within a larger framework of… “Okay, I’ve had this deep amazing, insightful profound psychedelic experience. Now, what do I step into? Now where do I go?” This is then the role the community plays in the psychedelic space because I think it’s so critical that once you will go through that profound shift in waking up to recognize that, Okay, I need to change something. Then what’s so critical after that is, well what are you changing and how are we providing the best information possible to make sure that you’re making the right change because this is where, again, my thing about veganism versus ancestral diet comes in, it’s great if someone goes from the standard American diet to veganism, that’s a step up.
46:22 PA: But I’m not interested in what’s comparatively better, I’m interested in what’s ideal, and I think from our perspective, and my perspective just again to make an example of this, whats ideal is an ancestral health diet in terms of fitness in terms of generally being as healthy as possible. So when people come out of that psychedelic experience, this is why we do interviews like this, because I think it’s important to emphasize that according to empirical evidence that we have is ancestral diet, in all likelihood is the ideal diet, that people should be following. And I won’t go into macro nutrients, in terms of Carbs versus fats versus protein. That’s a whole another thing of ketogenic diet, this is not ketogenic diet but I think generally eating a balanced source of meat, vegetables, nuts these sorts of things is ideal. And so that’s just one example.
47:07 PA: And so this of course then brings up what we’re getting into, which is building out specific customized protocols and containers for people who wanna make this transformation. So that’s obviously a project that we’ve been working on. We won’t go too into detail on this podcast, but it is something that will be coming out for the Rev audience and the podcast listeners and people who are just generally interested in. Okay, I’m interested in this transition. How do I make it now? What are the next steps that I need to take, and I wanna finish up our conversation with that approach, from you. Let’s say someone has already made some of these transitions, so they are generally eating a healthier diet, they’ve been starting to exercise. Maybe they meditate. From your perspective, what’s the 80-20 of making this transition into generally taking care, better care of the self from a holistic perspective?
47:57 MC: So on a diet perspective, what I would say is on an ancestral level, some of it is about elimination, but what you’re gonna wanna do is, you are gonna wanna essentially… I would almost provide an on-ramp period for yourself where you’re gonna be gate what’s the best word to say? It’s almost like a gateway into the microdosing because you’re actually better enabling the backdrop for it. So what I would do is I would be essentially starting with the ancestral diet, I would potentially integrate fasting, I would integrate the sleep protocols that we talked about, and then exercise, that’s gonna look like whatever it looks like for you whether you are an athlete or not, but just making sure you’re moving, you’re getting some of that.
48:36 MC: At least three times per week, ideally a little closer to five. And then from there, there’s some supplements, that you could be taking too such as a high grade omega-3 fish oil potentially if you have taken the personality test as well, which we can may be in reference in the show notes, you’re looking at maybe rebalancing, and re-calibrating the neurotransmitters. And then something I recommend just for optimal health in general, is that people are on a quality vitamin D supplement potentially with Vitamin K in addition to that, too, you are looking at a probiotic and then if you’re in that space where you feel like you might be stuck in fight or flight, you’re probably looking about at rebuilding your mitochondria as well, which should be looking at something like a PQQ-type CoQ10 blend supplement.
49:19 PA: Great, so that’s kind of the diet, then anything else? Just generally from a mindset perspective, that people should be aware of? ‘Cause I know, for example, in the past when I tried to take substantial steps to improve what I’m doing at times, I’ve bit off more than I could chew. So I tried to do all these things at once what would you say, just as a good timeline. Time frame, in terms of a sustainable way to make integrated changes over long term? What kind of model should people be aware of or be utilizing?
49:45 MC: I would say what you are gonna wanna do is again using the dopamine analogy put your abstract goal off on the horizon and then look at it from a day-to-day perspective. And that’s where the microdosing comes into, that’s what’s gonna essentially address those process type goals. So I would say a 12-week period is ideal. If you wanted to get a little more of a specific answer, at least for a diet in microdosing piece. And then on a mindset, level, again, that’s just that abstract goal off on the horizon and using both the diet and the microdosing to biologically and mentally, emotionally, spiritually, begin to self-author yourself. I would say journaling, writing down your goals, honestly, vision boarding. I’m a huge fan of that. I’m also a fan like when you are doing a project like this, a self project I’m a huge fan of some sort of mindfulness practice.
50:38 MC: And in addition to that, if you can, and you’re really trying to create a change, and you’ve had some sort of resistance to change something like a TRE or Trauma Release Exercises can be phenomenal as well. It’s a series of exercises that culminate in you having what would feel like an epileptic seizure, at least in a physical sense. And so you’re doing things like wall sits and you’re doing things like certain foot exercises and certain bridges that essentially cause your psoas, your pelvis to start twitching and that’s where a lot of… That’s the root of your nervous system essentially ’cause it goes from your brain down your spine and then to the pelvis, and then from there, when you trigger these exercises… These tremors what ends up happening is your whole body starts to ride along where that axis is of your nervous system. You really start to twitch, and then it’s gonna probably last for… At least 15 minutes for most people, and it can be kind of scary.
51:36 MC: But the cool thing is, you don’t even have to know whatever trauma you’re trying to release. You don’t necessarily have to relive the painful memories or even know what it is. If you just think something’s buried in your subconscious, or you’re stressed, maybe it’s not one specific thing, you don’t even have to know what that is and this actually will help emotionally release it, neurologically release it. And afterwards you’re left being really present in your body and out of your head.
52:01 PA: Fantastic. Well, this has been… I’m gonna just do an overview, a 10,000 foot view of what we spoke about, Coop, so that our listeners can have a synopsis of it. We basically started with your own personal story about what drove you into desperation to make that change and look at a more holistic health paradigm, in which you switched to an ancestral health diet. You switched to functional fitness. You really looked at your sleep, and now you’re helping, obviously, coach high performing athletes, students, just generally people who want to optimize themselves to live better lives. We talked a lot about that. And then, of course, we talked about the ace in the hole, which is both microdosing and generally high dose psychedelics to help facilitate the acceptance of change much quicker. Because obviously a huge part of development, our own developmental process, is accepting that we do need to make change. Then not only accepting it, but then going out and carrying that out on a day-to-day basis.
52:58 PA: And with things like neuroplasticity, which can be enhanced by looking at Omega-3 to Omega-6, it can be looked at by paying close attention to neurotransmitter levels, but also, obviously neuroplasticity can be enabled through microdosing and high doses of psychedelics. We’re able to make those changes quicker and lock them in to optimize the self, ideally to be able to contribute more to community, to contribute more to society at large because we have the energy and capabilities to do so. And so, I wanna thank you for coming on the podcast. I also want to make sure that our listeners understand that we now are offering, or going to open up a coaching program that will include work with myself, with Coop, and with one other, and we’ll be sending out more details about that soon. If that’s something that you’re interested in, please reach out to us. We can get you more details about that. Coop, is there anything else that you wanted to add to the end of this before we sign off?
53:52 MC: I think you closed the loop quite nicely. I’m excited about the project, and I’m excited to really be the forerunners here of some really exciting research that I think hasn’t been done before. This integration of body with microdosing, optimizing health, optimizing self-development, the interiors if you will, just excited to help a lot of people. And I think that we’re gonna help change the paradigm and, again, maybe people who come to this program are better equipped to help other people just like we talked about.
54:22 PA: Exactly. Well, thank you so much again for your wonderful contributions. I’m also really excited to do this because I think this has been used, or is being used, by people underground, but I think this will be really the first public program to really help catalyze transformation for people by utilizing microdosing and higher doses of psychedelics to facilitate deep personal insight and personal growth and development. So, again, thanks so much for your time Coop, and we’ll chat again soon.
54:49 MC: You bet, brother. Thank you for having me on.
54:58 PA: Okay, so another excellent podcast this week. And we didn’t interrupt it in the middle, instead, we’re going to bring you a few quick announcement and pieces of news until the next time. First of all, there is more research from the Imperial Psychedelic Research group that’s helping neuroscientists in their effort to model the effects of LSD on the brain. The new imaging shows that when study participants are given LSD and played both unfamiliar and familiar pieces of music, structures in their brain are altered so that unfamiliar music sounds more familiar, and familiar music sounds new. In other words, why does LSD make things that are familiar seem unfamiliar? And we provide a link to that, to the study, in the podcast follow-up.
55:43 PA: The second piece of announcement is that Berkeley declares itself a sanctuary city for cannabis to defend against enforcement of federal cannabis laws. Now, Berkeley is the first city to do this specifically for cannabis. They also did this for medical marijuana about 10 years ago when it looked like that there might be impending enforcements against that. So this is a huge first move on behalf of Berkeley. I would not be surprised at all to see this happen with more city councils.
56:10 PA: The last announcement, which again I mentioned in the beginning, is we are holding a retreat in Amsterdam. If you’re interested in utilizing psychedelics in a safe, structured, responsible way, legal way, then check out more details about our retreat at synthesisretreat.com, synthesisretreat.com. We’ll be facilitating three retreats in April, and then we’ll have additional retreat dates at the end of June and early July.
56:36 PA: One last thing, we had a couple of questions this week. We had one question from Tim Bowling on Twitter, “How do you deal with the fear of taking psychedelics? How do you counter the fear of losing touch with reality and doing something terrible while under the influence?” I think there are two elements to this. First is, going back to the metaphor of learning how to swim. Particularly with people who are new to psychedelics, if there is a deep fear of the intense psychedelic experience, what is best to always start with is obviously a microdose to mini-dose regimen, where you might take lower dose amounts until you feel comfortable with a slightly altered sense of reality, and then just incrementally increase the amount until you reach a specific amount that puts you into a clear altered state of reality. So with LSD, that could be something like starting at 25 micrograms, going up to 50, going up to 100 micrograms, and finally stepping up to 150 or 200 micrograms. This incremental increase enables you to get a sense for an altered state without totally losing touch.
57:30 PA: And I think the second part then is the classic paying attention to set and setting. What is your mindset before you’re going into a high dose experience? And what is the environment like? When I first started taking psychedelics, I did it in a comfortable place that I had been many times in a sober state. This was the Sand Dunes by Lake Michigan, by where I grew up in Holland, Michigan. So when I did them for the first time I had been there multiple times, I was with really close friends, so it wasn’t really a challenge at all. So I think that’s the other thing to pay attention to, is really cultivate a great mindset and an excellent setting for your first high dose experience. And my preference is always the outdoors, because I find that when, particularly people who do psychedelics for the first time, in a more, we could say, “clinical setting,” where maybe they have the eyeshade on and are sitting down in the sofa, that can get really intense. If you’re starting out with high doses, doing it in a more outdoor setting, I think, is an easier transition rather than just jumping right into the deep end of your psyche immediately. So that’s all for this week. If you enjoyed the podcast please leave a review on iTunes, that will help us tremendously. And please do not forget to send us your questions on Twitter or Facebook. Till next time.
This Week in Psychedelics
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