Integrating Ancient Living into Modern Life for an Optimized Brain and Body - An Interview With Kyle Kingsbury

Integrating Ancient Living into Modern Life for an Optimized Brain and Body - An Interview With Kyle Kingsbury

What follows is a transcript for the podcast Ancestral Living - Kyle Kingsbury - Human Optimization.

Topics within the interview include the following:

  • Cold therapy,
  • Connecting with the food we eat,
  • Psychedelics, and 
  • Cultivating an abundance mindset.

Shifting States Using Temperature Therapy

Dr. Dan Stickler: So welcome to Collective Insights. I'm Dr. Dan Stickler, the medical director of Qualia, and I'm here hosting the podcast today. And I've got a very special guest, a very good friend of mine, Kyle Kingsbury. He's a former football player with Arizona State and a retired American mixed martial artist. And while fighting at his highest levels, and during his sporting career, he really became fascinated with nutrition, performance, and recovery. Since his MMA retirement, his focus has shifted to learning more about longevity, plant medicine, and inner space. And I have to say, Kyle, that does not do justice for you, man. Kyle is truly one of the few super special human beings that I know. And I have had the honor of knowing him for several years now, and always enjoyed spending time with him, and I was excited to have this conversation. We were forced into it, because we haven't been making time to have our conversations lately.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah, this is always great. It's always a bummer when it's like, "Man, life gets so busy that we don't get to just hang," but the second there's the podcast. It's like, "Hey, it's in my schedule. It's going down. Now you get an hour of [crosstalk 00:01:19] time, and I love. It's probably a little easier than having Bear and the kids running around causing ruckus, too.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Oh, I miss Bear and the kids, though. I haven't seen Wolf since she was born. Shortly after.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah, she is a bull in the china shop, just like her brother.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. So, today I want to talk about how we can work with performance and optimization in the current world, while bringing in the wisdom and knowledge from ancient living. And I know this is an area that you have a great deal of expertise in because this is what you've been working on. So how do you see this interplay between the modern and the ancient right now?

Kyle Kingsbury: That's a great question. I think Ben Greenfield once said he wanted one foot in his ancestral living, and one foot in the miracle of modern science. And I dig that perspective. I had a boxing coach when I was fighting in the UFC who was a Mayan elder, his name [X ts'unu'um 00:02:19], meant the hummingbird. And he was the first guy that started teaching me some of the things, and bringing me into just more indigenous wisdom and working with sweat lodges, and temazcal, and things of that nature. And of course I was getting into the guys at Paleo f(x), and coming out and speaking with them in Austin, that's what landed me the job here at Onnit.

And really just that frame of mind starts to think about what we're doing now, you take good and bad out of it right or wrong. And you just say like, "Oh, it's really awesome and convenient that my temperature stays 72, whether I'm in the car, in my house, in the office. What was it like when it wasn't that way?" And all it takes is going hunting in the wintertime. And you're like, "Damn, I'm super thankful that someone created this ultimate overalls pants and coat that can keep me warm here, so I don't freeze to death while I'm hunting." But there are some great biohacks out there, and some really cool things that I'm interested in from a technological point. And then at the same time, nothing really replaces quality sleep, eating clean, and training in different ways, and then working with the elements.

So if it's consistently 72 degrees, then I don't plan on just letting the temperature do whatever it wants, and living without air conditioning in the summertime. It's a good idea that I still entertain that in intervals, and sauna and ice bath, I think are two of the most important. It's funny because it never really went away, but it's obviously something that's super hot right now and cold. But they're simple things that can fundamentally shift every part of you, and you know this from having done them. But entering the sauna and doing the ice bath, it goes well beyond the science of Wim Hof, and the science Rhonda Patrick beats the drum on it. It actually changes the way I think, feel, and operate on a daily basis. So sure, detox. Sure, fat burning. Sure, anti-inflammation. All that's great stuff, but there's a state change that occurs.

And those are the things that interest me the most, because like Wim says, "Feeling is believing." And there's a lot of things that people do with an idea in their mind of why it's important, or somebody will try to lose weight because the doctor says so, or the wife says so, but it's different when you actually feel the difference. When you feel that, that's the thing that becomes addictive. That's the draw each day when you wake up early at 5:00 AM and you're like, "Oh man, do I really want to? I think I need another hour of sleep." And then you're, "If I drag my in there, that changes my entire day." And I don't get in there every morning, but thankfully I work in a pretty cool spot. And Aubrey still has his office, even though Onnit sold, and I can walk right across the street to Kuya, and jump in their sauna and ice bath after I work out. And that makes such a massive difference in my everyday outcome, and quality of life.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. I love how you put that because I was in that world, I went into optimization. And optimization was about everything modern and technical, I wanted all of that. I wanted to take advantage of everything, and I didn't see any of the benefits of outdated stuff, the way I saw it. And then eventually science starts bringing in epigenetics, and I did a deep dive into epigenetics, and it starts showing all these changes that occur in gene expressions with all of these different things. But again, that wasn't the full story.

And I love what you said, it's the state shift. And it truly is. We talk about the science of this and we can talk about it all day, and then a lot of people will talk about the ritual of it from the ancestral standpoint. But what you said is really hitting home with me, is that state change. I really love that. When did you actually, playing football, I know you were probably very much on the technical edge of advancements and how do we improve performance and everything. When did you shift and start incorporating the ancestral, or had you always done that?

Integrating Ancestral Living into Modern Life for an Optimized Mind and Body

Kyle Kingsbury: Well, it really came in layers. And I had to have bits and pieces of it throughout the way. When I was playing football at Arizona State, it was mostly Ivan Drago, Rocky four. So if we compare the two as Rocky in Rocky 4, versus Ivan Drago, Drago's got all the state of the art stuff. They're measuring each punch and his punching power, he's running on a treadmill. And then Rocky's out with a log on his back, going through four feet of snow each day, and doing sit ups, and that stuff. Arizona state was state of the art, and it was awesome. We had a seven figure gym put in, we had one of the best strength coaches in the world.

And we also had this giant cold tub that was 40 degrees year round. And it could fit 10 or 12 of us in at the same time. These are big dudes, so it was really cool. But we got to have that, I was getting massages, even though I think I was second or third string, most of my career. And I got to see like, "Oh, I'm actually optimizing in a way, because I can check in on calories, I can count the macros, I can make sure I'm gaining weight appropriately just by the numbers, and I can train myself appropriately. And then I have the recovery aspects baked into the equation." And so when I left that and got into fighting, I was trying to take as much of that as I could. ASU was turnkey. That's something that a lot of guys don't realize from fighting is that, when we get into that, there's no universal how-to guide for mixed martial arts because it's so brand new.

So it's not like everyone does strength training this way. And it is not even on the same team. I trained with some of the best guys in the world, King Velasquez, who was a heavyweight champ. Daniel Cormier, one of the best of all time, light heavyweight and heavyweight champ. Luke Rockhold, middleweight champ. And all of us did different strength and conditioning, all of us had different recovery styles. And because of that, that really forced me to think. And then research. I didn't have the wrestling repertoire that Cormier and King had. I didn't have the jiu jitsu background of Luke Rockhold. And I needed it. I absolutely needed any edge that I could give myself, and thankfully due to podcasting, I was able to learn about these guys. I was able to find out about Dr. Kelly Starrett, who I think ran MobilityWOD at the time. He wrote the book Becoming a Supple Leopard, absolutely fantastic. A head to toe guide on how to do physical therapy for yourself, and maintain your body, and proper mobility, and range of motion.

And that stuff really matters when you're chronically tightening yourself. I was training two or three times a day in fighting, and just beating myself up, and really limping into the fight like most fighters were doing. So in that frame of when I was in the game from 2008 to 2014, there really was a whole lot of learning. It was like the wild west. It wasn't like right in the beginning of the UFC, when you had one guy coming in as a jiu jitsu black belt who knew nothing else. And then a boxer, who only knew boxing and nothing else. The game had evolved since then, but there was no real finality, I guess, when it comes to sports performance and things of that nature, even though it's gotten significantly better since I left. And so that gave me, see a need, fill a need. I knew I had holes in my game that my coaches would work with me on. But there were holes in the sports performance and optimization side of things, that really was the driver for me to want to continue to learn and dive into this stuff, head first.

Having the boxing coach working with me on indigenous wisdom, and sweat lodges, and plant medicines, that broadened my perspective, a great deal. And then when that ended in 2014, I realized, "Shit, I've been hit in the head a lot." I wasn't seeing too many signs of that, but having people I was close to just two or three years older than me starting to slip up, completely lost the frame of thought. And it may happen on this podcast where I'm like, "Shit, what was I talking about?" But I'm talking, they would lose the fact that they were in a conversation. So I remember having conversations with guys who would stop, and they'd be staring at me and I'd pick up where they left off, "Hey, you were just telling me about such and such," and just blank stare, "What? We were talking?" That level. And I was like, "Wow." Seriously, I retired at 32, and they were 34, 35 years old.

So right when I got out, knowing I wanted to have kids, and knowing that fighting wasn't the end all, be all for me. And plant medicines really gave me that, they allowed me to rip through the identity and the hook of, "This is who I am as a person, And I'm different than other people because of what I do," all that got eviscerated, and thankfully so. And so I really changed the focus there to longevity and cognitive function. I got into nootropics and started diving deep. I was an avid listener of Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss' podcast, and had heard of Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, many others, and that just kept the fire going. So the amount that I've learned since retiring in 2014 is really, I've never put that fire out. And of course, spirits match that. You know how the universe works, if you follow what you love, you will find a way to make that your vocation.

And I went on Rogan's podcast. He encouraged me to start my own, I did. Met Aubrey Marcus when I was a speaker at Paleo f(x). We shared the same flight home, and just traded war stories, on ayahuasca, to fasting, to healing the brain, to optimizing and performance, and all that stuff. And from there it was like, "All right, you're going to come work it Onnit." And here we are. So it's been one long and awesome curve to get here. But I think, to speaking to where you're at with diving head first and optimization, a lot of people do that, but you cannot leave the basics alone.

One of the greatest teachers I've ever had, he's a dear friend, is Paul Chek. He wrote the book How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! Which fundamentally changed the way I viewed food, and the world. And he also wrote a follow up to that, it's an ebook called The Last 4 Doctors You'll Ever Need. And the four doctors are Dr. Quiet, that's your meditation and your sleep practice. Dr. Diet, what you put in your body, food, water, supplements, drugs, anything. Dr. Movement, you can underdo that or overdo it. Or you could focus on one thing and get really stiff, like a power lifter that needs could use some more mobility. Or you could be hyper mobile, like my wife. You’ve got to balance that with strength training. And then Dr. Happiness, which is really, it's our dream. And Paul says that there's two ways you can learn in the world and create effective change. Most people learn through what he calls the pain teacher. So a crisis occurs, I've got cancer, or my loved one just died, now I need to do something about my health. A lot of people learn through the pain teacher.

Or you can utilize Dr. Happiness, and create a dream and a vision of your life that goes beyond just what you consider to be the day to day, the norm. And if you follow that thread that can lead you, not only to success and achievement, which are cool side effects, but that can lead you to actually being happy and having a mission in life. And I think following those four doctors, I think that is the foundational piece that's necessary before one embarks on all the latest technologies, and biohacks, and nootropics. Because with those two together, that's the one-two punch that can lead to incredible things, but there's no nootropic on the planet that can eliminate a bad night's sleep. And there's no digestive enzyme that will take care of a shit meal. It just doesn't work that way.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. And I think right now, actually a lot of medicine, a lot of health, and wellness, and medicine, and all of it, is so focused on the mechanistic, the biomechanical approach to human health. And we now know that the human system is a complex adaptive system. And this is something that, in our practice, has driven us over the last 10 years, is understanding this connection with everything. The complex adaptive system is it's processes and systems. It's not objects, it's not organs, it's not cells, it's the interactions with everything. And that doesn't stop at the skin level, we're talking about interactions in the environment. We've talked extensively about the importance of interacting with the environment, even such simple things as eating local. Why would that make a difference?

Well, it makes a huge difference. And we know this from science now, is that there are exosomes in food, even in vegetables, and meats. And a meat that is stressed is going to supply you with exosomes that the body's going to experience. And it's going to get messages that you're in a stressed environment. So we actually are sampling our environment when we're sampling foods, and we're taking foods from diverse places that aren't really relevant to us at the local level. And I know you've talked about this with hunting. And hunting of animals locally, especially, because you can get that message that those animals are getting from the environment, that will inform your cells. And so this whole biosphere, this ecosystem of health is where things need to go.

Why we Need to Connect With the Food we Eat

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah, no doubt. Hunting has been an absolute game changer. And it is something where, Steiner's approach to food through biodynamics in his book, Agriculture is a lot to chew on for a lot of people. But really his understanding on a spiritual level was that everything was interlocked. From the cosmos, and where the stars and the position of the moon was at that time, to the soil health, and quality, and the organic material, and matter within the soil that the plants or the animals were consuming. And then all the way to that kill, as you mentioned. So an animal that's lived in the wild its whole life, and it's non domesticated, and is eating a wide variety of whatever it's called to. Because even if there's a main grass that a ruminate likes, it's still going to eat anything that it needs as is necessary. It's going to sniff out and engage with its environment, and that's how it's going to heal. And there's a process for that whole animal's life.

And then when you get a clean kill, and you harvest that meat yourself, and feel dressed the animal, it's one of the most intimate experiences you can have. And it's one of those things where, I think that is one of the main missing ingredients in modern living, is understanding how you get food to the table, how you cultivate that. It doesn't mean everybody needs to become a farmer, or that everybody needs to hunt for, "The only meat all consume is meat that I've hunted." I'm not going, taking it that far. And I have buddies that do, and that's okay. It's that even just one experience like that, can change the way you view your food, and it can bring you into a relationship with the being that you're taking.

You're taking that being's body, and making it your own. And if it is of the highest integrity, in how you kill and process that animal, then that actually matters. And it matters that that animal was living freely it's entire life, all those things factor in. In the scope of the local area, Dr. David E. Martin, who's a buddy, he wrote the book Lizard's Eat Butterflies. And he talked about how camels, in the desert, will actually eat all the way down to the sand. Because there's high levels of salt within the sand, and that helps them to store water when they can't get water. So there's interactions like that, that we can't possibly understand. Of course then the hunter gatherers out there, they will drink the camel's milk, and eat the camel. And that too is a super high level of sodium, because of what that animal's engaged with there.

So it's going well beyond if it fits your macros. And there is a spiritual lens through hunting, there can be, that is profound. Some of the most profound spiritual experiences I've had were on hunts. And I think that too is something that can be missing. Because if we get this cookie cutter scenario, that's handed to us at birth, which is really the case for all of us. And something starts to not feel, if something just feels missing, it doesn't even have to feel wrong. This can be a way that we connect back to our ancestors, that we connect to our roots. And in that primal action, we can ignite something within us that's been lost.

Dr. Dan Stickler: What do you think is the impact of that loss on human health right now?

Kyle Kingsbury: Well, it's a loss of mental, emotional, and spiritual, as well. But that impact is, I'll give you a perfect example. When I was in college, I was searching for God in all the wrong places. We were the number one party school in the nation, and I couldn't get drunk enough, I couldn't get high enough. Fill in the street drug, couldn't have enough. And thankfully I had football to keep me even keel during the seasons. But I think there are a lot of people there, and it doesn't matter that some people might scoff that and say, "I'd never do cocaine," or something like that, and yet they're hooked on pharmaceuticals. And whatever the thing you is, if it's used to numb, even plant medicine. A lot of people go back to the wishing well a bit too often, and they don't take time to integrate that and ground things into the 3D.

And if that's the case, we're missing the mark and it could be something as simple as, "Hey, there's no path laid before me. It's really hard to figure out what's not here when I don't have any idea, other than the idea that something's missing." So I think people that listen to my podcast or your podcast, fundamentally are past that point. Where they've now started to take matters into their own hands, and they're doing the work on themselves. So, that may not necessarily land with your audience right now, but it's something that for sure might resonate with them from a different part in their life, in the past. I think there's a lot of people right now that are waking up to that. And then certainly in the last two years, people have come to hard grips with the idea that society can't fail, that it's never been better than it is.

We're starting to see cracks in multiple forms of how we govern ourselves, how we feed ourselves, how we educate ourselves. And thankfully there are so many solutions already built into the equation, and people can self educate, they can find podcasts like this, and they can start to train differently, they can start to eat differently. All this stuff is available, and that's one of the beautiful things about all this access to data and information. It can be overwhelming, but with the right pointers from a conversation like this, people can actually start to empower themselves and actually do things that fundamentally shift the way they think, feel, and operate.

Kyle Kingsbury’s Journey With Plant Medicine

Dr. Dan Stickler: Well, I want to shift some gears here, into plant medicine. Because there's no talk that is ever complete with you, without venturing into the knowledge of the mycelia network of this great earth. So I would love to hear you retell the story of how you first were introduced to the Fantastic Fungi?

Kyle Kingsbury: It started with Fantastic Fungi. So, [Mistro Wetsi 00:22:02], my boxing coach, we were doing these sweat lodges. He'd bring a lot of fighters in, sometime he'd bring guys from east side, San Jose, neck tattoos, guys who had hard lives, and we'd do the temazcal, which is a gnarly sweat, it's not like a sauna. And he would do warrior sweats, and he would sing songs, and we'd have conversations, and he'd talk about the ways that cultures live differently than the way that we live now. And it was education, in many ways probably after a year and a half or two years, I looked at him and I was like, "Coach, when are we going to use [foreign language 00:22:41]?" And he just burst out laughing, and he was like, "Oh, I've been waiting for you to ask.

And the first medicine we worked with was psilocybin mushrooms. And we would actually, and this is completely non-traditional. So for all the traditional folks listening about temazcals and [foreign language 00:22:57], that is a ceremony in it of itself. And it's usually not combined with medicine. But for whatever reason, he combined those with medicine. So we would take psilocybin after the blessing and intention, and we would sit in the sweat lodge while it activated. Then we'd come out onto the reservation, which was, being in college, every reservation had a casino on it. This had no running water, no electricity, no lights, nothing. It was completely untouched, other than what the caretakers of that land had put in for gatherings, and things like that.

And so being in a safe space, where I don't have to worry about cops showing up or anything like that, and being in a place where there's no one else there, it's not like camping and you have "Oh, I might bump into so and so," you're just there by yourself with your coach. And that really allowed me to surrender to those experiences. And he taught me so much more than the experience itself. He taught me the importance of reverence and respect for the medicine. I had had a couple experiences with psilocybin, prior when I was at school. I was drinking, I threw them all on a frozen pizza and the, but that didn't turn out well. So the geniuses that laid out the path before us, the Terence McKennas, the Timothy Larrys, set and setting does make a huge difference. And that was the palpable feel that I took from that.

And really in that's where I started to bridge some of the Eastern mysticism that I had read about, but had never had firsthand experience of. I'd ask questions about reincarnation, and it would show me viscerally how even my body doesn't die. It just changes form. That truly everything is infinite. And animism, that concept from indigenous cultures that whatever is animating me, whatever soul I have, exists in all things. It's permeating through everything. Through this desk and this computer right now, there's an animating force that livens all things seen and unseen. And I could talk about that now, Ted Dekker used a great example. You could have the best artist on the planet, paint an avocado, and describe you the avocado, but that's not the same thing as eating the avocado. You don't know the avocado until you've eaten the avocado, then you know the avocado.

And the mystics called that gnosis, G-N-O-S-I-S. That's the difference between knowing, K-N-O-W. And these spiritual teachings were now being gifted to me in a visceral way where it became gnosis, and it became so undeniable that I could no longer look at the world the way that I used to. We weren't huge into the church growing up, but I did go to Sunday School on occasion, and things like that. And I had a lot of questions that weren't answered in those gatherings, and this fundamentally was able to answer any question I had. Not all of them, but many, and much more than that. They have the saying, "You don't always get what you want, but you get what you need." And I think that's certainly true for plant medicines.

I've always gotten what I needed and then some. And so I have the utmost respect and gratitude for those experiences. And I've had some hellish, dark night of the soul experiences from medicines as well. And thankfully, I've been able to track myself back, having people like Paul Chek, and different great masters to learn from that have been down the rabbit hole quite a ways, and have found themselves out, as well.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. You're pretty well known for some of those heroic ventures. It reminds me of that old country song, "I'll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again," you'd never do 'shrooms with Kyle again. Taking your wife on her first journey was quite the story. And then the story of you doing 30 grams at one time. Tell me about that.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah. Well, it wasn't me that dosed my wife on her first journey. I'll just state that one. I brought an ounce of Golden Teacher, and we were going to have... It was supposed to be my wife and I, her first journey, and about five other fighters. And one by one, on my way to the reservation, they'd call me up and cancel. Last, last, last, last minute. And so we get there and I tell Wetsi, I said, "Hey, it's just me and her. Everyone else canceled, give us what you think we need," knowing it's her first journey, "And take the rest as a gift." So out of the bag, he pulled out two stems and caps, dehydrated it, and split the rest for us. Now, I'm not great at math, but that's probably pretty close to 13.8 grams, each. Your first journey, about half an ounce of piece. So, yeah. And she did fantastic.

Dr. Dan Stickler: I was going to say, she had a great journey too with that.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah, he knew better than I, and he trusted in that, and I trusted him, and it worked out perfectly. The 30 gram, it's funny, the guy I learned it from, I had a... We'll talk about Fit For Service in a bit here. But I had one of the members from Fit For Service, who I'm very close with, Carrie who works at Kuya. She sent me a video from [Kalindi 00:28:22]. And Kalindi, who recently passed away, he was a guy who was known for doing 20 to 30 gram journeys for probably two decades. He was an older guy, not super old, but I think late fifties, lifelong martial artist, he understood the history of plant medicines in Africa, and just a brilliant, brilliant dude. And first thing I saw it, I was like, "This is bullshit. Who would take that much?"

My guess is, most people is that there is a ceiling, and that anything past that didn't make any bit of difference. And having had a couple of five gram Terrence McKenna heroic doses, I just thought it was nonsense. But then after I sent that response, just something kept pulling at me. Like, "No, watch the video, don't discredit this guy." And so I watched one of his videos. Then I watched all of his videos on YouTube, and I was blown away by his presence, his groundedness, his ability to articulate what those journeys were like, and not get lost in the translation of a trip report. And he was more grounded than many people I'd bumped to in an ayahuasca circle. And I really respected that.

And so I had had a few journeys in the Amazon with ayahuasca, where I had asked, like, "How do I engage at a level like this when I'm home?" And it showed me these golden mushrooms with a black canvas behind it, like mushrooms, sprouting, and growing. And I was like, "Ayahuasca's teaching me to use psilocybin right now. And then I asked the dose, and it showed me seven, seven went away, 9, 11, 14. It just showed me how to tinker my way up. And I was like, "Really?" This is of course before Kalindi came along, in my field at least. So knowing I had the nod from Aya to start to increase doses and really coming into deep resonance, I felt like he was giving me permission. And one thing he says, and I'll warn the listeners is that you go up in two gram increments. If five grams' your highest dose, don't jump to 30, jump to seven. And play there, and then jump to nine. Don't do what I did.

But yeah, I'd had a 14 gram dose. I'd had other big doses. I had 10 grams of [penocybe 00:30:36] at one point. Now, the reason I got to the 30 grams of penocybe, which is a very strong strain of psilocybin, is because I didn't think it was penocybe. I'd had a microdose before I fought Jason Ellis in a charity boxing match. And it was phenomenal, I'd never microdosed when I fought in the UFC and I was like, "This is the way. This is amazing." And so I took that same dose with this new batch before I rematched him. But a number of other factors were off, and it didn't quite feel the same. I didn't fight the same. So I made the assumption, those were not the medicine I thought they were. Only later did I find out that those were in fact, the very potent strain of penocybe?

So I had set my intentions out quite a while, months ahead of time, I did everything I could to ground and be in my body. The preparation was, I fasted for 24 hours. I saunaed and ice bathed to clean and purify. And I did a long session with the Joovv Light, to really activate the mitochondria and switch my cells on. And of course, prayer with tobacco, and writing out the intentions, and all that. And I ground those up and I drank them in a shaker cup of water, and the onset was like nothing else. I was to DMT level within 15 minutes probably, and this lasted three and a half hours. So it wasn't as long as a normal journey, likely because of fasting and everything else that I had done with that. Soon enough, there was no such thing as time.

And most of the experience was that I was out of body for it. My main takeaways, I saw my son's soul for the first time, where I really got to see the amount of wisdom his soul carries. Fundamentally change the way I parent, because I saw him as my wise teacher, not the other way around. And that's something I continue to circle back to as a dad. When I have to parent he's being a six year old is like, "I recognize where you're at right now. And I also see the full length of time of what you're carrying with you. And I'm going to honor that."

But that was my first real trip into darkness. It was also the first time I saw beings. I've never seen beings on DMT or anything like that, but there was a couple beings at the edge of the bed, and they looked as Kalindi described. Large eyeballs, insect-like, and speaking in a clicking tongue. And I didn't understand it, I literally said, "Look, I don't know what you guys are saying. Is it cool?" And they would just touch me at different places on my body. And I'd feel a ball of love and warming energy move through that part of my body. And settled me down, and I realized, "Okay, there's [inaudible 00:33:21] for me. I am being guided," even though it was a solo journey. And it allowed me to relax into that.

And at a certain point, there was a mandula front of me, and it started spinning, and coming onto my chest, and I was waving it in like, "Come here, little buddy," not afraid of it at all. And I could see, it looked like this glass you're drinking right now. I know we're doing just audio, but a cup of water that's filled to the top. You can see that blurred rim on the outside, and it had that blurred rim separating it from the rest of the room. And I looked inside it and it was pitch black. And I was like, "Oh, you're the darkness." And I just asked one question, "Can I, is it okay to go in there?" And I thought for a second, and the answer was yes. From that point on, I had no recollection of anything that happened prior. I didn't remember taking the mushrooms, any of it. And I went through five layers of my personal hell.

The first of which, my wife and I had miscarried in between Bear's birth and Wolf's birth. And we desperately were trying to get Wolf to be born. We had been trying for several years, and finally we were pregnant again. And so that first layer was her miscarrying again. And I relived that over and over and over again, the only way out was to fully surrender to it. It was only when I didn't give a shit, like completely didn't give a shit. Not on paper, there was plenty of times where I was like, "Please no more. Okay. I get the message, I get the message, turn it off." And it was gut wrenching, and disgusting in many ways, graphic as graphic can be, me witnessing these things. And I remember telling Duncan [Trussel 00:35:06] about that, and he said, "Oh yeah, that reminds me of Dante's Inferno. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

And I was like, "Holy shit, that's it. That's the key code, abandon all hope, ye who enter here." And I really thought about that. I thought that was like a "Hell is bad. Don't come here. Abandon all hope," like a warning sign. And I realized, "That's the key code out." And so it was only when I relinquished any hope of it being different, and finally came to terms with that, that I got to move on. And a lot of people asked me, like, "Would you ever do that again?" Or, "That really sucks. I don't even want to take five grams now." And I said, "It took me a while to integrate and understand it, but that was the greatest report card I ever could have asked for," because what it showed me were first and foremost, my conscious fears that I was living with. And then a lot of unconscious fears that I had, on those later, later, later levels of hell. And whatever fear I'm carrying with me, fear is a good thing, you're never going to eliminate it.

How Chronic Negativity Impacts the Body

Kyle Kingsbury: Chronic fear, not a good thing. Chronic negativity will have its impact on the body, it will create disease. No matter where that stress is coming from, that will manifest physically, if I don't get rid of that or attend it. And so really what it was showing me was, these are the fears that I walk with every day. This is the background chatter that's influencing the operating system. And until I actually release that, I'm not free. And I haven't done it since then, that's how much respect I have for it. But it is something that, one of the few journeys that I hold in the highest regard. And in no order, but it's a top five for sure, one of the most important experiences I've ever had in my life, and the scariest by far, no doubt.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. I have found that the journeys that create the existential crisis tend to be the most growth oriented in the end. Sometimes it takes some time to integrate, but in the end it truly is the growth oriented. Everybody wants to have the really fantastic journey, and see all the great visual, and meet all the great people, and just have a grand old time with it. But if you don't embrace the suck sometimes, you're going to miss out. So yeah, I appreciate that.

In talking about [Tash 00:37:36] and the kids, you guys have incorporated a great deal of the ancestral, into the parenting. [Mikra 00:37:47] and I always say you guys would be great teachers of how to parent a child in this new bringing together the ancestral and the modern, because I mean Bear is truly exceptional. Bear's a six year old that, he's like a super muscular Mogley from Disney's movie. And he walks, he's barefoot everywhere he goes, he's got this long flowing golden hair, and he's the most inquisitive kid I've ever met. He's truly exceptional. And then we, Mikra and I, had the honor of being present the night before Tash delivered Wolf. And just the, I guess, four or five of us there. And Vylana Marcus, she did a sound bowl prayer for them, and it was just absolutely beautiful. So talk a little bit about the way you've approached parenting, and child birth, and child rearing here.

Parenting Using Indigenous Wisdom

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah. Thank you for that. And that was incredibly special, Vylana's one of a kind, there's no doubt about it. It is a process of learning. And as I talk about stuff, I have the tendency to say the how-to guide, without first saying like it is a mind fuck, and one of the most challenging experiences anyone will ever go through. And I think there's some reason for that, the Hopi said that no parent was allowed to parent the kids. And even in conversations with God, God says, if you want to believe that's God talking through Neale Donald Walsch, that child rearers were never supposed to be child raisers. That once you were unable to have kids, is when you were qualified to raise kids. And so that is one of the uphill battles that we face with, especially in the west, without having multi-generational homes, and without having a tribe. It does take a village, it truly does. Thankfully, we've got so many great aunties and uncles, and through the podcast and the desire to learn more, we've had access to great experts and different people that have recommended books along the way.

But there are some easy principles that have really landed home with me. Steiner who created Waldorf schools, he was really big into pacing kids. That it wasn't about shoveling information down their throats. Early on, they do three years of kindergarten, they go four, five, and six, and then they learn how to be a rookie, a middle school, and then the elder that teaches the younger kids. And then they also know every grade they go through, a kid two grades ahead of them, and two grades behind them. It's a brilliant approach, but they don't start really diving into anything until third grade. That's when they learn a second language, that's when they get introduced to music. And so I think one of the misnomers right now is, A. We're comparing everybody to some standard, B. We're doing a lot quickly, and that leads to issues around buy-in. And I'll bridge into that, discipline issues and modern medicine in a second.

But really, for me as a dad, if I can take off the need for him to do all of these things and be all of these things as a whole, that's going to help. But one of the biggest takeaways I've had from many medicine journeys is play. Play more. So I think that's one of the most perfect ways to bridge the gap with your child, whether they're bouncing off the wall, or not listening, or anything, is to play. It's to meet them there, in play. And in doing so, getting outside as often as possible, you can't beat that. You really can't. And we were talking about how we are completely interacting with our environment, and science is just catching up to that. I remember when they posted at Onnit, we wrote an article of about forest bathing, because a Japanese study had come out and said "60% reduction was found in depression, if you went for a 30 minute walk in a forest, and that wasn't seen if you went for a walk in a city."

It's like, "Why is that?" Well, there's all sorts of stuff you're engaging with, from the trees, the smells, and the polyphenols, and the pheromones that are being released, that's interacting with you. So that should be for the kids, as well. That should be something where they're not stuck in a desk. And really thanks to the guys like Aaron Alexander and Kelly Starrett, you've eaten at our house, everything's on the ground. We have a Japanese sized table, that's like a coffee table, with the yoga bolsters that we sit on, Indian style. And that's where we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our couches have been deconstructed. So, it's just couch cushions with pillows on the wall, on the floor.

Now that's great for newborns, but it's just great for adults, as well. How often you get up and down off the ground makes a big difference, not just in your physical nature, but in how you think, feel, and operate. So we've got a hundred square feet of MMA mats in the downstairs where it's hard, and then upstairs, we've got two king size beds as our couches, also on the floor, no box spring. So everything's an invitation to get on the ground. Everything's an invitation to play. For Christmas this year, Wolfy got a big giant wooden jungle gym that she can climb on, and slide down, and do stuff like that. And not to my surprise, Bear loves it. When his friends come over, all they want to do is play on that thing. And it was designed for smaller kids, but it's awesome. It's absolutely awesome.

And so it's engagement in movement practices. And they actually teach that in Waldorf, they call it eurythmy, where sound and spatial awareness are taught as one. So through a song, you follow the teacher, hands come in, hands come out. And bear sings that prayer, "Hands together. Hands apart," and he goes through the whole thing, where they're mimicking the bees, and the butterflies, and the flowers, and the connection to nature. A simple song like that, if you understand it, goes so much further than just, "Hey, memorize this song." It has to do with reconnecting us to the greater whole, reconnecting us to our planet, reconnecting us to where our food actually comes from. Thanking the earth, the soil, the bees, the sunshine, the water, all of those things are baked into a song like that.

And while they're doing that, they're moving their body in different ways where they can learn spatial awareness. Anybody's got a young kid, a close talker, or the first time your kid jumps right on your balls. You're like, "Hey man, I need some space here. That ain't going to work." So I think songs like that is a part of education, and music is such a big deal. Anybody who's experienced any plant medicine, altered state of consciousness will recognize if music was played, you have a completely different relationship with music after that. It changes your relationship to music. And when you can take that further into something. My first journey with ayahuasca, they played it on an iPod. Fantastic songs, but there's a big difference between that, and someone singing live to you. Singing Ikaros or playing guitar, that's a completely different experience.

And it's this engagement with that environment, with the technology of sound, that does all sorts of stuff to our being. And so we've got Handpan and Native American ceremonial drum, and Native American flutes, and just all sorts of little toys scattered around upstairs and downstairs. So anytime they can grab an instrument and start playing. And of course, we got Sonos speakers through every room, and we play a lot of different music from different cultures. They listen to a lot of Indian music from the east, they listen to native American music, they listen to hip hop, they listen to all of it, classical music. Best of Tchaikovsky is one of their favorites. And it's this engagement with things that really brings joy, it settles them when they're uncomfortable, and then being outside.

Bear's been saving up money for a while, from the tooth fairy, and from allowance, and things like that. And he made his first big purchase. You got to teach kids about money, too. That's something that's also not taught in education primarily. But he took, I think, $200 out of his piggy bank. And he spent half, I told him I'd meet him halfway, and he bought a standup paddle board. We use that all summer long and all fall. Barton Springs, out at different places in Wimberley, just all over Texas there's water. And I think getting outside is one of the primary focuses we have, getting on the floor, wrestling, and tickling, and playing. Even if you didn't fight in the UFC, just engaging with kids that way.

So much, you look at animals, they're always engaging. They're always playing like that, whether it's a puppy with it's other puppy sisters and brothers, or a lion, they're always fucking with each other. They're always wrestling, and bit on each other, and playing that way. And I think both Tasha and I, I think, and Bear and Wolf likely, touch is our most important love language. And so with that's such an easy way to engage that outside of massage, and back scratches, and things, which also are important. But just playing on the ground and wrestling, I think those are pretty key things.

I know I'm getting long winded here. But I wanted to bring up one more point from Dr. Thomas Cowan, who was on my podcast recently. He talked about the book Deschooling Society, by Ivan Illich. And I think it's one of the best books I read in 2021. And he gave an example, he said that if Steph Curry from the Golden State Warrior announced on Twitter, he was going to have a shooting seminar. How many people do you think would show up? And I was like "Everyone and their mom." And he said, "Of course," and he goes, "Do you think there'd be anybody acting out or having a disciplinary issue?" And I was like, "Hell no, you're showing up for Steph Curry in a shooting seminar." And he is like, "Okay, well, what if someone did? What if one kid did?" You're like, "Well, all the other kids have beat his for not," because everyone has whole buy-in.

And that's such an easy story for us to say yes to, when there's buy-in you fully eliminate disciplinary issues. No kid has ADHD when they have a hundred percent buy-in. So you wipe all that out, when you get somebody who really wants to learn what they're learning. And so an example he gave was a Waldorf teacher who had left that school. And she just works with four kids between the ages of 10 and 12, and of those four kids when they met her, not a single one of them knew how to read. And within two years they were taking college level courses in what they wanted to know about, what they wanted to learn. That's how fast.

You know the potential of humans here, when we take them out of the cookie cutter, run of the mill, sit down, do this, do that, do this. And people don't know why, but you're still told it's important. When you take a kid out of that environment, and you allow them to focus on the things they're really curious about, they're really good at it. They really want to know, and you can see how fast they learn. Bear can tell you anything about volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis. He loves natural disasters, so that's what we're focusing on. And a little bit of Hooked on Phonics. And that's great. That's all he needs. Let's be active, let's move our bodies, we'll practice some fine motor skills like sewing and different things like that, that can help him zero in.

I've been taking him to gun range, as well. He loves that, he's getting bullseye after bullseye. Santa brought him a Baretta M9, shoots a 22LR, and he's just drilling bullseye after bullseye with it. He loves it. And that helps him zero in, and that helps him really listen and be quiet. And it's really just thinking about that, what are the different things that we can do that provide variety? And then letting them decide from that variety, what do they really love and want to focus on?

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. I can remember, I think it was probably the first time I met Bear. He took me up to his room to show me his rock collection. Told me all about the geology of the rock, but also told me about the spiritual characteristics of the crystals that he had, as well. I was just like, "Okay, this kid has got it. He's figured it out." But You talk about the importance of play for kids, and I think this is a nice segue into talking a little bit about Fit For Service, you're in Aubrey's collective there. But adults don't play enough, they don't get on the floor and play. And one of the aspects of what you do with Fit For Service, is teach people how to play again.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah, no doubt about it. And look, make things convenient. That was another thing I learned from Aaron Alexander. If everything's on the floor, you've only got one option, I gotta get down. And there's plenty of science on what are the first things to go, hip mobility, things like that. Can you get up and down from the floor properly? That's life extension. That you can think about telomeres and all these different things, but grip strength, and can you get up and down off the floor? Those are pretty important when we're talking longevity. So you curate that. I bought a sauna and an ice bath when I didn't have the money for it. I paid for it on credit, and it chipped away at other purchases now. But I did it at the time because I knew that having it would give us the opportunity to use it more often.

And so it's really about creating your environment at home and everywhere you go. Where if I walk by that ice bath for three days and I haven't been in it, there's a part of me that's like, "Get in it now." And I'll listen to that because it's right there. So Fit For Service was something that Aubrey came to from a journey at Don Howard's place, Spirit Quest, working with the medicine Huachuma. And he really saw it as a way to build community, and a way to bring people together that wanted to know everything we were up to. What is the behind the scenes stuff that we weren't talking about at Onnit, the most transformative experiences we can give legally, and go through those things together. And it's really turned into something far more than we ever could have imagined.

We're in it, this is our fourth year coming up. Or right now, we're in year four. But in the three years that we've had, we've had some people stay with us all the way through. We've had a lot of people come and go, but everyone stays in contact with one another. So some people, when you say they're making lifelong friends, how can you tell only three years in? Well, we've had people meet and Fit For Service who are now married with kids. So whether they like it or not, they're going to know each other for the rest of their lives. And that says a lot. It says a lot more than how many businesses were started because of this, or any of that stuff. These are the intangibles that actually matter.

And really over the last two years, it's something you can't look away from anymore. Something where we really do need each other. And I think that's one of the greatest teachings, one of the greatest gifts of lockdown, is this understanding that you cannot replace face to face. You cannot replace hugging and holding somebody. You cannot replace being in an ecstatic dance with 200 people, and not giving a shit what anyone else thinks, but just letting your body move you. And the breath work that we do, after working with you guys, I definitely follow you and Mikra on the Zen style breathing, half the belly in, half the belly out. That's my primary breathing, for many reasons. But if I save that Wim Hof style, the transformative style, simply for a ceremony, which it can be, I can be as profound as plant medicine. And that's perfectly legal. And that's one of the things that we take people through, and full on, it's a visionary state, it's an altered state of consciousness.

So when Aubrey came to me and he said, "Hey, this is something I want to do." I was just ecstatic. I was like, "I'm in." So we got me, we got him, we got Eric Godsey, we got Caitlin Howe, and Vylana. And we bring in experts from every field. We've had East Forest come and play ceremonial music. We've had Paul Selig come and channel for the group. Matias De Stefan for Gaia TV's initiation come and do a lot. And Jamie Wheal come into our next event, one of the [inaudible 00:54:24] Qualia guys, a dear friend of mine. So we grab people from all walks of life that, where their knowledge base stretches far beyond ours. And those are the people we bring in to help teach and guide.

And then we walk people through these transformative experiences. And what happens on the other side, it's more than quantifiable. And these things can shift people and change people in a way that's lasting. And that's really what we wanted to do, it's what we wanted to create. And it's been a real treat to be a part of that. And again, just as fighting did, it lit that fire under my ass to learn more. We get so many questions, every week we're doing Q&As, and engaging with the group, before and after we have our five day meetup. That to me, has been another great fire lit under my ass to know more and understand more.

And we're doing a lot of different stuff this year. We've got immersives coming up for the first time. So we've shrunk the length of time for the main events, still a five day meetup, but they're going to be 10 weeks long instead of four months long. That actually gives us a break, haven't had a day off in three years, that was very nice of Aubrey to suggest that. And we get to do immersives, this first one's sold out, but I'm going to be walking 30 people through a five day fasting mimicking diet. We're going to do that together. They're going to get medically cleared through [Ways To Well 00:55:39], we'll have blood work done beforehand, all included. Emily Fletcher's Ziva meditation, people are going to be getting online access to that and learning how to meditate, some of which the first time. That was one of the most powerful meditation programs I've ever gone through. I worked with her for three days straight and immersive, and that fundamentally changed the way I meditate.

So many gifts, many practices, we get to do all these tools that I've amassed, we get to actually do them together, in a small group. And have a deep have on dream analysis with Godsey, and internal family systems, and all sorts of cool stuff. And that's just one of many. We've got a couple's one coming up in February, for people that want to learn how to date. Singles, but equal male to female. And sparks will fly, there's no way around it. And I think of things like that, these smaller immersives that can be more intimate, where we really do get to know everybody that's there. And then really adding to the core, the core meetups that we have, we're going to do one here in Lockhart. Aubrey just got that 120 acre ranch that my wife and I will be caretakers of, super pumped to be on that land, and have people there.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Oh, you're going to be living there?

Kyle Kingsbury: We're going to be living there. Yeah. It's that important.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Nice.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah. I love it. It's only 30 minutes from the airport, 45 to downtown. So not too far.

Dr. Dan Stickler: It's got nice quarters on it already, too.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah. We are absolutely stoked for that. So we'll have people there. We're going to do an event in the big sky, somewhere in Wyoming or Montana. That'll be more burning man style, a two or three day festival, we'll bring in Nuco, and East Forest, and a lot of the great musicians. We'll probably bring in [IN-Q 00:57:18] to do a poetry workshop, and some other people that we've had in the past. And then a lot of just fantastic talks, Charles Eisenstein has been out to one of our events, and he's just phenomenal, one of my favorite people on the planet. Then we'll finish, as we do every year, in Sedona at Aub's ranch there, which is like no other place, you know it.

Dr. Dan Stickler: It's really interesting to see how this is happening though. It's funny because our small group of people me, you, Aubrey, Jamie, they all have their own little groups of collectives that are all bringing together their communities into this. And we create this network among them. Jamie's flow groups, and then our Arete Collective, and then the Fit For Service. And it's funny because they're all in Austin, too. They're all centered here, even though we go other places, but it's a great community here. And seeing how these grassroot communities are growing, in small groups that are interconnecting with each other, is just beautiful to see. It's not something we've seen before, especially with all of the deurbanization, and all that we're seeing here in the world, we lose a lot of the community aspects.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah. Well, it's the comeback that's long been awaited for, and is the divine time, for sure.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Yeah. And actually this is one of the founders of Qualia, Daniel Schmachtenberger, he's preached this since, I can't remember when. And now it's actually starting to really manifest, so it's beautiful to see.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah. That's incredible. Daniel's an incredible mind, as well. I think he just recently did another one on Aubrey's podcast, that I'm just starting to chew through. It's always fantastic hearing what he's got to think.

Dr. Dan Stickler: Well, Kyle, as usual, it was absolutely fantastic to talk with you. We've had great conversations just sitting around talking, and I always say, "I wish we recorded it," now we have one. So, perfect. Let's get together soon though. And thank you for your time.

Kyle Kingsbury: Yeah brother. Absolutely. I got to get you and Mikra on mine, as well.

Dr. Dan Stickler: For sure. All right, man, take care.

Kyle Kingsbury: Thank you, brother.

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