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Episode 613
The Doctor's Farmacy

How To Create Meaning In World Where So Many Are Lost

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

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I know many of us can relate to feeling disconnected from each other, the natural world, and the things that really matter in life.

So how did we lose our way and how can we make better sense of the world? It takes some inner work but also means cultivating truth and connecting with community, in order to reshape our narrative and change the collective conversation and state of the world.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I have a deep conversation on rediscovering meaning with Jamie Wheal, about reclaiming our inner passion, courage, and conviction.

Throughout our conversation, we get into the various practices that help us seek transformational states. Jamie explains this can happen in a variety of ways, using the core elements of healing, inspiration, and connection that we gain from traditions around the world.

We discuss how trauma has become woven into our culture, from microtraumas to big T traumas, and the importance of community in healing which has been taken away from our current social systems. There are five drivers based on ancient wisdom that can help us heal and reconnect with ourselves that Jamie and I dig into, including bodywork practices like massage, specific breathing techniques, and even working on our sexuality in an intentional way, which Jamie refers to as sexual fitness.

Self-discovery is constantly at our fingertips, and we have the ability to access it using a few key tools. I hope you’ll tune in to learn more.

This episode is brought to you by ButcherBox, FOND Bone Broth, and InsideTracker.

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InsideTracker is a personalized health and wellness platform like no other. Right now they’re offering my community 20% off at insidetracker.com/drhyman.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Here are more of the details from our interview (audio):

  1. What does it mean to recapture the rapture?
    (8:43)
  2. Personal growth vs. self indulgence
    (10:33)
  3. How the foundations of our understanding of the world are collapsing and transforming
    (23:39)
  4. Finding meaning and purpose in our modern world
    (30:00)
  5. The power of healing in community
    (33:38)
  6. Using breathwork, embodiment, sexuality, substances, and music to help us reconnect to ourselves and each other
    (33:38)
  7. Applying the tools of Hedonic Engineering to real lives and relationships
    (57:16 )
  8. Research Jamie conducted with real life couples
    (1:09:24)
  9. Why we need ethical guidelines to steer through our own personal explorations
    (1:19:16)
  10. Ten ethical guidelines that Jamie developed
    (1:22:22)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Jamie Wheal

Jamie Wheal is the author of Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex and Death In a World That’s Lost Its Mind and the global bestseller Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work and the founder of the Flow Genome Project, an international organization dedicated to the research and training of human performance.

His work and ideas have been covered in The New York Times, Financial Times, Wired, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc., and TED. He has spoken at Stanford University, MIT, the Harvard Club, Imperial College, Singularity University, the U.S. Naval War College and Special Operations Command, Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, the Bohemian Club, and the United Nations.

Show Notes

  1. Get a copy of Jamie’s book, Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex, and Death in a World That's Lost Its Mind, here.

Transcript Note: Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Introduction:
Coming up on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Jamie Wheal:
You don’t have to become an athlete. You don’t have to become a yogi. There’s nothing extreme about it. It’s just learning how to adjust the knobs and levers of our bodies and brains for greater health, greater resilience, and overall higher well-being.

Mature Language Warning:
Hi. This is Lauren, one of the producers of The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast. Just a quick note before we dive into today’s episode that this conversation includes some mature language and topics. Listener discretion is advised.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. That’s farmacy with an F. A place for conversations that matter. And if you’re stressed about the world we live in, if you have a sense that we’ve lost direction, disconnected from each other, from the natural world, from things that actually matter, I think this conversation’s going to be an important for you to listen to, with an extraordinary thinker, kind of a futurist in a way, a man named Jamie Wheal, who’s the author of Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex, and Death in a World That’s Lost Its Mind, which is a great frigging title. He’s also the author of the global bestseller Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work. And he’s the founder of the Flow Genome Project, an international organization dedicated to the research and training of human performance, which sounds great, and it’s very in line with functional medicine. How do we optimize ourselves in the world we live in?
He’s been featured in New York Times, Financial Times, Wired, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and TED. He’s spoken at Stanford, MIT, the Harvard Club, Imperial College, Singularity University, the US Naval War College and Special Operations Command, Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, and the Bohemian Club… which don’t seem to go in the same sentence… and the United Nations. No small feats. And his voice and his message are really important, I think, today in a world that’s increasingly lost its way. And the concept of “recapture the rapture” is a very important concept that, I think, speaks to the loss of our sense of connection with everything, with ourselves, with the natural world, with each other, with meaning. So Jamie, welcome to the podcast.

Jamie Wheal:
Oh, thanks for having me on.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All right. So, we were chatting a little bit earlier, over lunch, about your post-Burning Man experience with your wife and discovering a doorway to states of being and feeling and meaning that you previously had not accessed in the same way. And it led to work that you’ve been doing over the last 10 years that finally led to this book and to talking about some of the existential challenges and crises we’re facing globally now, economic, political, social, environmental, climate. I mean, the list goes on. Health. And it can be a very disillusioning time. The headlines, the news are all pretty depressing, whether it’s the war in Ukraine, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s increasing degradation of our health and the polarization of society, this disconnection from each other.
So we kind of have a world where it’s hard to make sense of what’s happening. It’s hard to make sense of where we’re going and what we’re doing. And it leads to what I think you referred to in your talk that you just gave at Harvest Festival, [inaudible 00:03:25] in Bodrum in Turkey, leads to something called micro-PSD… PTSD, micro-PTSD, which, I think, is a very interesting term, talking about the sort of little traumas that we all face that sort of degrade our sense of well-being and happiness and health. So how did you sort of come to this concept of recapture the rapture, and how do we start to sort of make sense of the world and how we lost our way?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, I mean, funnily enough, I think it was probably… I mean, it was ages ago. It was probably 2015. And I just remember seeing a news clip of some American politician, House of Representatives kind of fellow, maybe from Iowa… It might have been that Steve King fellow or something… stridently holding forth in front of a microphone about women’s reproductive rights, which has, obviously, come back to the fore lately.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
For or against them?

Jamie Wheal:
No, massively against. And I was like, “Well, what on earth does this old white dude…” And I think there’s some crazy statistic that members of Congress, only 30% have passports.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Jamie Wheal:
And you’re like, “What?” And so here-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s staggering.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. So here is this old white guy, evangelical, alt-right leanings, holding forth stridently about women’s reproductive rights, about which he knows next to nothing and yet has this strongly, strongly held, convicted opinion that is actually going to be shaping legislature, politics, and the actual on-the-ground realities for half of the world, all the women. And I thought, “My God, what a crazy situation we’re in, where the…” This goes back to William Butler Yeats’s poem The Second Coming, the one about slouching towards Bethlehem. That kind of thing. But he has that great line where he says, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with a passionate intensity.” And in that moment that kind of-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Jamie Wheal:
Right? There’s just that sense of [inaudible 00:05:15]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The best lack all conviction, and the worst-

Jamie Wheal:
Are filled with-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… are filled with-

Jamie Wheal:
… a passionate intensity.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… passionate intensity. Yeah.

Jamie Wheal:
And that, to me, was the seed of writing this book, which was, “Oh, my gosh, the crazies have hijacked the mike of our collective conversation on both sides of the political spectrum, and the moderate middle, right, the best of us, the rest of us, need to find a way back to shaping the narrative of where’d we come from, what’s going on, and what do we do now.” And that was really it. It was the idea that, at a high level, rapture ideologies, the idea that the world as we know is doomed. It could be a spiritual, religious, ethical interpretation, because of moral degradation. We’re sinners and-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Armageddon.

Jamie Wheal:
… [inaudible 00:06:05] to pay. Or it could be a techno-utopian rapture. Right? It’s systemic over-consumption, collapse, population, whatever it would be. So we need to build underground bunkers or-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Create it on Mars.

Jamie Wheal:
… create space colonies. Right? Either way, we are being increasingly in the grips of these rapture ideologies, and all of them share the same trait, which is they’re one percenter solutions. Now, how you slice and dice who gets to be in the 1%… It could be the religiously observant or pious. It could be the technological best and brightest. It could be meritocratic like that. Or it could be simple socioeconomics, who has the money and the cash to build a ranch in New Zealand. They’re all 1% solutions for our collective challenge. And that leaves 99% of us, right, high and dry. So how do we reclaim the story and the narrative around our collective future?
And then, also kind of a double meaning of the word “rapture.” Right? So not just a sort of biblical end times or a techno-utopian Kurzweil singularity, but also our lowercase rapture, the idea of our bliss, our healing, our inspiration, our connection, our agency. How do we reclaim that? Because if we can’t reclaim that, then we sure as hell can’t engage the capital R Rapture conversation. So it’s a sort of a dual interpretation of the word. How do we reclaim our inner passion, courage, and conviction so that we can have the bigger conversation about what do we all do now?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So sort of in a way, healing of the world starts with us.

Jamie Wheal:
Yes. And, right, that’s a slippery slope for folks that are socialized and conditioned to believe in the kind of personal growth slash New Age spiritual bypass, right, because often, when people of privilege and access to personal development and growth, biohacking, optimization, spiritual seeking, hear that, they get agitated about the state of the world, and then there’s that quick, quick, quick movement into a spiritual bypass of “Oh, change comes from within. We can’t heal the world until we heal ourselves.”
And that becomes a convenient excuse to go back to my weekend workshop, to seek stillness on my meditation cushion, to do my yoga practices or my psychedelic therapies, my medicine journeys, whatever it might be. And we’ve effectively bypassed our social responsibility to people who don’t have access to those opportunities, people where we absolutely need to be acting on collective behalf of social justice, inclusion for the bottom four billion people. So there’s a lot of well-established critiques on kind of 1950s to now McSpirituality.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, you sort break it down in ways that make sense to me, which is kind of cultivating our own ability to connect to source or truth or meaning, or you call it rapture. But that has to happen within the context of… You call it ecstasis, or ecstasy states. Right? That has to be connected to community, and that has to be connected to the context in which we live and also the healing, general healing, of our larger toxic culture.

Jamie Wheal:
Absolutely. And then there’s also that, I think, a potentially helpful guideline, which is sort of 80-20 woke to broke.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Tell me what you mean by that.

Jamie Wheal:
Well, the idea that, again, in the kind of commodified personal growth space, there can be an almost preoccupation with the perfectibility of ourselves. And I might have access to these-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The navel-gazing, basically.

Jamie Wheal:
The navel-gazing, the narcissism, the spiritual materialism of like, “I am going to keep seeking peak states and keep seeking them until, at some magical future, I am free from all of my worldly constraints and suffering and problems.” Because there is that kind of Pareto principle in effect. Right? The first 20% of our access to peak states, whether that’s meditation, body work, group therapy, psychedelic experiences, music, whatever it might be, the first 20% typically gives us 80% of our hits, of our growth, of our insight. And then the Pareto ratio shifts.
And if I didn’t know that the 80-20 split was in effect, I might go, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve just spent 20% of my time. I’ve had 80% insights. I’m going to keep going. This is the most amazing thing ever,” not realizing there’s a diminishing returns on those things. So then I become quite self-indulged, and I spend all my time, all my money, traveling, chanting, seeking, seeking, seeking versus hey, take your proverbial red pill. Realize you were maybe into a socially conditioned world environment, series of choices, life. And then remember what you forgot. Remember what’s yours to do. Mend where you are debilitatingly broken. But after that, get back up, and then report back to the front lines because we’re needed. We’re all needed.
I mean, one of my dear friends is a SEAL Team Six commander. And we got to experience some of their base in [inaudible 00:11:21], what they call their Mind Gym, which was where they did all of their body-brain training for operators coming off deployment. And I was just thinking of them one day, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, they come to this amazing place with all the biofeedback, the float tanks, the body work, all this stuff, but they don’t spend the rest of their lives there.” They don’t decide they’re going to quit the teams and go and get their yoga certification or massage therapist accreditation. They’re like, “Patch me up. Put me in, Coach. I have a mission that is greater than myself. I have a commitment to my brothers, and I want to get back to the front lines as soon as possible to serve a greater good.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, that’s interesting-

Jamie Wheal:
And that feels good for all of us.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s interesting that you bring that up. And I had a friend who’s a Navy SEAL, and he was deployed in, I think, Iraq. One day, someone put on the steps of his trailer How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. And he read the book, and he came back and explored the psychedelic space and ended up realizing that even though he thought he was in an elevated state, he was really kind of in a robotic state. And that changed everything he thought about what he’d done and what he wanted to do, and actually ended up ending his career as an Navy SEAL, as a result of those journeys. So it’s interesting.
And the other thing you sort of speak about just reminded me that this is not a new conversation that we’re having. I studied Buddhism in college, and there was this sort of framework of Buddhism that was the sort of original Buddhism, which was called Theravada Buddhism, also known as Hinayana Buddhism, which means “lesser vehicle” because… It was not named by them as lesser vehicle. It was basically about self realization, that the highest good was to become awake yourself. But as it evolved, the same problem occurred, which was not just about enlightenment for yourself and salvation for yourself, but about, “How do we heal our greater society and culture?” And that’s where the model of Mahayana Buddhism, also known as “the greater vehicle,” came into play, and the concept of the [foreign language 00:13:24], who reaches the gates of enlightenment but then turns back to help relieve the suffering of all sentient beings. And so essentially it’s what you’re talking about. It’s like, “Okay, well, you can get yourself straight, but you got to come back in the game.”

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, I mean, even Japanese Zen has another very, very similar story of the Zen ox herding parable. Right? There’s 10 panels of art, and it starts out with the individual seeking enlightenment, that in this story is represented as the ox. Right? He chases the ox. First he sees it. Then he chases it, and he follows it into the forest. Then he mounts it and becomes one with it. And I read that in college, and I was like, “Oh, wow.” Everything I thought was the pinnacle of human consciousness or seeking is like panel number four out of 10. And then there’s all these esoteric distinctions of “ox forgotten and self alone.” And there’s just a mountain. There’s no ox. There’s no dude. There’s no nothing. But the final one is… It’s beautiful because it says, “His doors and windows are locked. Even the wisest scholars cannot find him. He is down in the marketplace among the people, with helping hands.”
And that notion of hero’s journey 101. You start out at home. You go away on your adventure. You return home. And the idea of going to sort of ordinary enlightenment, and the fact that all the bells and whistles, and all the fancy state-seeking, and all the pretty lights ultimately should dissolve into complete human ordinariness. In the wisdom traditions, that’s often sort of known as the twice-born human. Right? We’re all first born. We all get born into this life, into this world.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Born again?

Jamie Wheal:
Well, yeah, that one’s got more problematic connotations. But they are speaking to something really true and beautiful, which is none of us, unless you have some faith, some preconceived conception of it, none of us chose being born the first time. Our parents got together. Happily or accidentally, we were conceived, and we were in this womb-like, amazing state. And then we were birthed into a world cold, scary, loud, kicking and screaming. And there was that instant fall from grace. Some of us, if we were fortunate, had families of origin that kind of kept that womb-like container. Many of us didn’t. We get booted out early. But all of us, at some point, are kicked into a cold, hard, unforgiving world that doesn’t really behave as we imagined it should have or might have. It’s not safe. It’s not fair. It’s not always kind. It’s not always predictable.
And so many people want to get out of this world. We seek some form of escape. We seek states. We get snookered into addictions. It could be surfing the Web. It could be pornography. It could be gambling. It could be substances. It could be food addiction [inaudible 00:16:22].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They all attempts to get to the right place, but they’re all maladaptive.

Jamie Wheal:
Yes. And they’re all attempts to kind of get out of this raw deal, right, of life. And so it feels like it’s not until we have the chance to experience some form of a death practice… And they’re ubiquitous across the traditions, but also around the world, of things that, either literally or figuratively, give us a chance to have that choice to come back to this mortal experience with gratitude and without apology or reservation. And you see it in Jimmy Stewart in A Wonderful Life. Right? That’s a classic. Ebeneezer Scrooge is another. Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. All that idea of, “I went away. I risked it all, only to come back to a profound appreciation that there’s no place like home.” That is arguably the sub-structure of almost every esoteric initiatory tradition around the world for thousands of years.
And once we come back, then we say, “Oh, my gosh, it’s not the amazing transformational states. It’s not the esoteric experiences. It’s not all of that endless seeking to get out of this life that’s the incredible thing. It’s this, here and now.” It’s this eight or nine decades we’re blessed to have opposable thumbs and prefrontal cortexes, and we’re the existential mayflies of the universe. It’s the brevity and the mortality. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I guess we are mayflies in the context of human evolution. I heard you say we look at human evolution, we’re like .4 seconds before midnight or something in terms of our current state.

Jamie Wheal:
And you think of all the stories, right? The Greek gods on Olympus, right, are always somehow kind of jealous of humans. And the angels were. And even vampires in the sexy vampire stories, right, they’re always like, “What’s up with you guys? You guys seem to care so much more than we’re able to.” The immortals just have ennui. They’re just like, “Yeah, it just all comes and goes-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
[inaudible 00:18:19].

Jamie Wheal:
… and nothing matters. How do you guys care so God damn much?” And it’s because of our mortality. So it’s just kind of Shakespeare is the Greek tragedies, and that’s-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s interesting because, as I’m working my new book about longevity, there’s scientists talking about longevity escape velocity, which essentially means we never die. Science advances far and fast enough we can outpace death. And I don’t know about that concept. I don’t know if it’s possible. I don’t know even if I like it because it changes our humanity in a very material way.

Jamie Wheal:
Fundamentally, I think I’m with Elon on this one of just that dying is actually an essential part of human progress. And I think… It wasn’t Feynman. It was-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mark Planck.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, that physics advances one funeral at a time.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly. He said we don’t advance science by convincing our opponents and helping them see the light, but because they eventually die, and a new generation grows up that’s familiar with it.

Jamie Wheal:
Exactly. So I feel like live, live fast, live well, and then clear the lane.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So one of the things that I found very helpful in your book, is sort of the deconstruction of the sort of stage we’re in, in the evolution of humanity. We went from a stage of very organized beliefs, organized religion, shamanic traditions, things that really were very well-constructed worldviews, whether they were right or wrong, whether they were doing good or bad. They were sort of infrastructures that we all lived within as guideposts to meaning and purpose, and why we’re here, and what we’re supposed to do. Those have kind of crumbled in many ways. And there’s still sort of the rise of fundamentalism and Islamic traditions, Christian traditions, and Judaic traditions. But we’ve now kind of let go of a lot of that in our Western culture, separation of church and state. America’s a great example of that, which is kind of ironic because a lot of our state is controlled by the church in America, and the fundamentalist [inaudible 00:20:15] drives the election process. Right now we’re facing the challenges to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court because we’re in this polarized society, often because of this fundamentalist abuse.
But for most of us, we’ve sort gone away from it. I’m Jewish, and most of my friends who are Jewish have become more secular Jews and didn’t relate to that old, sort of stodgy, stifling traditions. And then we sort of adopted a new view, which you call Meaning 2.0. That was Meaning 1.0, and now we’re moving into Meaning 2.0. So can you unpack that a little bit for us? And I want want to get into how we kind of recreate meaning in a new way, and how the title of the book and the rapture conversation is really about recapturing something that can be very positively viewed and not stifling or constrictive these old ways, but actually liberating.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s Meaning 1.0 if we just say kind of any faith-based, tribal set of beliefs, usually mediated by a sort of shamanic or priest class, so somebody with anointed or appointed authority to interpret divine dictates. Honestly, that’s how we’ve been for pretty much 100,000 years. I mean, now there’s even studies on Neanderthals. It even predates Homo sapiens, some form of ritual and belief in organization.
And then you fast-forward to 10,000 years ago, to 5,000 years ago, the rise of what we now know as the kind of the Axial Age in religions. Right? And all humans everywhere, forever were part of kin, clan, tribe, and faith, and that told you who you were, what your role was, how you ought to live. So let’s just say 100,000 years, up to roughly 1990s, that’s how we made sense of the world. And so when we read things like the Pew Research foundation studies on the rise of the nones, or the sort of, “I don’t identify as religious, but I might identify as spiritual, agnostic, atheistic-”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They call it SBNR, right? Spiritual but not religious.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, exactly. Right. That’s [inaudible 00:22:26]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Did you come up with that term?

Jamie Wheal:
Did I?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Jamie Wheal:
No.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh. I was like, “Wow, where did that come from?” I heard people talking about it, and somebody identified that group of people now as like 30 to 40% of the world’s population.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. At least in the US, and I think Western Europe also, it’s the fastest-growing and largest group for the first time in human history. So that’s radical. And for most folks, whether it’s the Christopher Hitchens or the Sam Harrises of the world, the kind of new atheists, right, there was the cheering of that that. They were saying, “Down with superstition. Religion’s the opiate of the masses,” that kind of thing. “And we’re all going to move into evidence-based, atheistic kind of modernity, right, the real world, science, progress,” all these kind of things.
And for a while, that seemed to be holding true. But in the last… Take your pick on where you start seeing the wheels come off this, but 2008 is an example, for sure. COVID in the recent kind of fracturing of collective meaning. Those were serious hits to what we would call Meaning 2.0, which was sort of modern liberalism, the ideas that came out of the European Enlightenment. Civil rights, democracy, free markets, science, empiricism, all of these kind of things. We sort of took that as sacrosanct.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it seemed to be the highest goals of humanity, but maybe they’re not.

Jamie Wheal:
Well, it was supposed to be clear, impartial, based in reality, eternal truths, those kind of things. And of course, now the foundations of that have been collapsing and crumbling. And so even international organizations like the WHO, the CDC, the UN, things that used to be, with all their faults, used to still be seen as some form of unbiased truth, even BBC News-

Jamie Wheal:
Some form of unbiased truth, even BBC News or major American networks, all of that has been critiqued in question. And religion 1.0, or meaning 1.0 offered salvation at the cost of inclusion. So if you believed in our tribe or our people, you were saved. If you didn’t, you were a heretic, you were a pagan, you were something even denied human rights.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, or part of the stake.

Jamie Wheal:
Yah, so offered something awesome, salvation, but at the expensive inclusion, meaning 2.0, AKA, modern liberal world offered inclusion at this expense of salvation. Separation of church and state, God is dead, no one will tell you what to believe. And so the question is now, in this vacuum, as those two pillars have collapsed, we haven’t just had everybody waking up coming to their senses. In that vacuum, we’ve had a pull to the extremes of fundamentalism, people doubling down on convicted beliefs. And this isn’t just religious, you’ve got cryptocurrency fundamentalists, you’ve got all sorts of fundamentalist thinking. QAnon is fundamentalist thinking. There is an overarching, hermetically sealed, unassailable view of the world that is always and exclusively true, fundamentalism. But you also have nihilism. You have people saying there’s no meaning, there’s no point, I give up. And we’ve where we see the rise and the spike in diseases of despair. We have addiction, depression, suicides, those kinds of things. So that’s where we are. And the question is how do we put the roof back on and create a shelter under something new and different that can balance inclusive salvation meaning for everyone?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So that meaning 3.0 is that framework?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And how do you describe that to people? How do you conceive of it? What is meaning 3.0? It’s not religious, but it’s spiritual.

Jamie Wheal:
I think it’s fundamentally, and some colleagues of us at Harvard Sacred Design Lab, who have been studying this at Harvard Divinity School, basically came to their research of what makes religious communities healthy, happy, useful, and sustaining. And it was basically healing, inspiration and connection. Those were the sort of nutrients that regardless of your particular deities or origin stories or moral codes, those three things help people become well adjusted, integrated, connected. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General has written on that in his book [inaudible 00:26:28].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, even on the podcast.

Jamie Wheal:
Those ideas that our alienation, isolation and lack of connection to profound sources are all eroding us. So meaning 3.0 is how can we provide access to healing, inspiration and connection, the core elements that traditional religions used to offer us, and at the same time, do something on the inclusion piece. How do we make sure that everyone everywhere has access to that? And so the goals there would be like, okay, how do we make it open source so that this isn’t hidden, this isn’t in the tabernacle? This is accessible and available to everybody. Scalable, which means it needs to be pretty much cheap or free to meet the bottom four billion of the world who have limited resources, and potentially anti-fragile meaning that it can actually survive contact with hard realities and still persist. And if we can do that in a way, my hope with this book was to say, “Here’s the neuroscience, here’s the anthropology, here’s the psychological building blocks.” What does the blockchain or WordPress of culture architecture, how do we build healthy institutions? How do we build healthy rituals and habits and customs, not tops down, like they were done in the past, but bottoms up so that everyone in the world, their own communities, their own cultures, their own preferences can build with these tools, skin it how they would like it, and then create communities of practice that serve them?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s a beautiful vision. And I think it speaks to our need for meaning and purpose and connection and things that I think are the basic fundamental ingredients for health and wellbeing. And I think they’re not often seen as that. And I think the data is really striking on this, that if you’re part of a community, if you’re part of a tribe, you’re part of even a bowling or knitting circle, that you’re healthier and you live longer, independent of what you’re doing with your lifestyle. That if you’re social isolated, disconnected, you live shorter to independent of your lifestyle, or smoking. And that there is a deep need for all of us to have meaning and purpose. And then without that, our lives become frayed, and then we see these crises of mental illness and depression and anxiety and trauma.
And one of the things you do talk about is this concept of microtrauma, but also the bigger traumas that we all suffer from, and how part of our cultural framework has been always putting this back on the individual instead of on society. And I think when you look at the context of trauma and suffering, if we don’t deal with it in our collective toxic culture, it’s very hard for us to deal with it as individuals. So in a sense, we need to reimagine how to live as individuals in community, in society. And we don’t really have a good roadmap for that because all the guideposts and benchmarks have been taken away from us. And like you said earlier, if you were born into a tribe or culture, you had all your rituals and all your ceremonies and all your rights of passage and the context in which you heal.
And I had Wade Davis on the podcast and he was talking about how in Lakota traditions when someone was sick, it was an invitation for the community to heal and for them to do it in community. And I remember being in Nepal when I was a medical student up in the mountains and someone was sick, and the shaman didn’t just take them into their little clinic office and do a little ritual. The whole community was there and they were all witness and they were all part of the ceremony. And it was striking that we don’t do that anymore. We’re in these sterile isolation rooms in medical care, which take us out of the community. And I’ve actually found that the biggest lever for healing is actually bringing community into medical practice, which I’ve done through faith-based wellness programs, which we’ve done in Cleveland Clinic through shared medical appointments.
And bringing people into connection creates far more effectiveness. And we’ve published data on this, far more effectiveness in creating healthier outcomes than one-on-one visits with the doctor.

Jamie Wheal:
And what do the faith-based wellness programs look like? What do they entail?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I did a program called the Daniel Plan. Are you interviewing me? I like this. Okay, I’ll answer the question. It’s called the Daniel Plan. I created with Rick Warren. I’ve talked about it on the podcast before. But essentially it was born out of this idea that disease is a social problem, not an individual problem. And that whether it’s spiritual disease, mental disease, physical disease, these are things that arise in the context of the world in which we live. And so we can’t heal without community. And basically I worked with Rick Warren in his big megachurch in Southern California to create a faith-based wellness program where people heal in community. And they had a curriculum they followed. There was no healthcare providers, just me and the others that created some basic lifestyle curriculum. It was based on functional medicine with the intel inside of how to create health. But they did it together in their small groups, which were already built to help each other live better spiritual lives, but they now could live better physiological lives as well.
And the results were astounding. We had 15,000 people sign up, they lost a quarter of a million pounds in the first year and they reversed all sorts of chronic illnesses. And I remember this one woman came up to me after we had a six week recap of our first rally, and we had brought people back after they’d been on it for six weeks, and this woman came up to me and says, “I don’t understand, Dr. Hyman. I’ve been depressed my whole life. I’ve been in and out of mental hospitals. I’ve been on every drug you can imagine. My marriage is falling apart. I can’t function in work anymore. I just was ready to commit suicide. And three days of doing this, I totally changed everything. And I feel completely different and my depression went away. Is that possible?” I’m like, “Well, yeah, it’s possible because it happened to you, and it’s because of what you were eating and the things you were doing to your own body.”

Jamie Wheal:
Geez, three days.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Three days, yeah, of just changing her diet. And I see this all the time. I just did a workshop here in Bodrum at Kaplankaya Six Senses on basically how to resurrect your health in a very short time by just taking out the insults and putting in the right inputs. The body has a capacity very quickly to regenerate and heal and activate old healing systems in the body.
And I think that’s what your work really does. And I of want to jump now into the details of how do we recapture the rapture? How do we as individuals, as communities in society, actually start to embed tools and strategies and practices that bring us back without keeping us in the constraints of organized religion or structured political parties or frameworks that keep us all separate? And you talk about five drivers that can really help us to actually reconnect with things that matter that are based on ancient traditions and ancient wisdoms and technologies that we’ve sort of discarded, whether it’s breath or being in our bodies in different ways, sexuality, the use of various kinds of substances and plants and music and dance. How do we start to think about these things? Can you talk about how you came up with these concepts, why they’re important, how people can access them? And then we want to get into some of the research you’ve done to show how this actually can be played out, because it’s very interesting what you found.

Jamie Wheal:
Sure. I think the simplest inquiry for me was back to how do we create the Lego building blocks that everyone around the world can make use of? And it occurred to me doing a free diving workshop with Kurt [inaudible 00:34:05], who’s one of the champion coaches for world champions and record holders.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Free diving is when you go dive deep under water and hold your breath for long periods of time [inaudible 00:34:13]

Jamie Wheal:
Without scuba tanks. So you’re all self-contained, so it’s just you holding your breath and going as deep as you can go. And as he was describing, he’s like, “Oh, when most people have this urge to breathe, you would think you’re out of oxygen, but you’re actually not, you actually just have a buildup of CO2. You probably have 40 to 60% of your usable air, your usable oxygen still in your body. It’s just your early warning system.” And I thought, “Well, that’s really interesting that we have such a huge built in buffer,” which is basically saying, “Hey, human diving for oysters or shellfish or lobsters back in the day, don’t cut it too close. Because if you cut it too close you die.” And it just felt like it was like, wow, that’s a brilliant, very strong biologically encoded driver. If we don’t breathe, we die.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Basically four minutes.

Jamie Wheal:
At the same time, if you modulate your breathing in a host of different ways, either by hyperventilating and breathing deeply and quickly or breathing extremely slowly to calm yourself down, you can upregulate yourself. You can create yourself an energized focus state. You can downregulate yourself, you can become more calm, less stressed. And if you do varying more complicated practices, you can even straight up shift your state. So almost gas, pedal, breaks. And I was like, “Oh, well that’s really interesting, and Mother Nature encoded it.” So if we can find ways to tweak it or change it, that’s a very strong intervention.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it’s free.

Jamie Wheal:
And it’s free. Zero tech. And the same with sexuality, which has all sorts of taboos and strongly held feelings around it. But if you just look again from the evolutionary imperative, if we don’t find a way to procreate, none of us would be here. And for the overwhelming majority of human experience, there weren’t instruction manuals. And there certainly aren’t for any primate cousins or anywhere else in the animal kingdom. So you’re like, okay, so that is purely hormones and incentive structures baked into our mammalian bodies to encourage that behavior. Well, not surprisingly, evolution through the kitchen sink at pair bonding to ensure that we did it, it runs and governs most of our lives on autopilot, often to negative effect. Lots of trauma, lots of grief, lots of unhappiness. But if you can untie the puppet strings of evolutionary imprinting, what can you do with all of the sexual nervous system? And John Lilly, the famous renegade University of Pennsylvania neuroscientists back in the day, mapped in the early ’50s that the entire basically pleasure centers and network of a human nervous system map one to one with the sexual arousal system, not because there’s anything sordid or salacious about it, just that was mother nature’s job one. And then all of our other pleasure encoding and sensation seeking is mapped onto that preexisting circuitry. So that’s another one. And then you get into the body and you-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And sexuality, to speak to that, it’s something we really haven’t seen as a vehicle for awakening and for connection, other than the obvious ways. But this is something that’s been in ancient traditions. There’s the Kamasutra from India or there’s Tibetan…

Jamie Wheal:
Vajrayana.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Vajrayana practices of tantric yoga. And I remember being in a Tibetan monastery up in Northern India with the abbot of the Bon tradition, which was the pre-Buddhist, indigenous shamanic tradition of Tibet. And he was very cute. He was probably in his mid ’80s, and he’s a monk. And I’m hanging out with him and we’re having lunch, and he’s so excited to show me this book that he has. And this guys sort of a sensibly enlightened master. He was the Dalai Lama’s meditation teacher. He brought over to the Himalayas the text of the Bon tradition and single handedly rebuilt the whole religion. And he had this book that he wanted to show me, which was of the Dalai Lama’s secret temple. And behind the Potala Palace in Lhasa in Tibet-

Jamie Wheal:
Yes. Sitting on the island in the lake?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, there’s a lake and then there’s this island and only the Dalai Lama can go there. And essentially it was this tantric sexual murals explaining how to wake up through sexuality, which I thought was kind of funny to be in a Buddhist monastery, but they’re all into that.

Jamie Wheal:
Oh yeah, absolutely. The seventh Dalai Lama was actually like the Lord Byron of the Himalayas. He was a total dissolute dilatant and just spent all of his time on that little island.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Incredible. So that’s sort of a different framework than most of us think about with sexuality. And I want to talk about how do we start to activate that, because most of us haven’t even really touched the surface of our body’s capacity to feel, to sense, to experience what we can through sexuality. So I want to come back to that, but going to the next one, which is embodiment.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. Obviously, the more integrated and aligned and balanced we are in a physical bodies, the healthier and happier we tend to be. There’s a whole field of embodied cognition supporting that, how our bodies and brains are affects our hearts and minds. And that’s fairly straightforward, established science at this point. There are several in particular that most folks don’t know about them and they have really helpful balancing effect to our whole system. And one is our fascia, the sliding surfaces of our body that is arguably an interconnected sort of organ, toes to tops of our scalp. And if anybody’s ever seen chicken or you’ve ever had meat from the butcher, and you see that white almost filmy layer, that’s the fascia. And typically, for most of us, when we get wounded or injured, it freezes and bonds to prevent injury. But then when the injury is healed, it kind of stays fused. And keeping those sliding surfaces supple and fluid is really, really helpful for all sorts of health.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Or yoga. Massage.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. Even the big trend these days in theraguns and percussive massage and ways to break up those tissues. So that’s a beautiful way to take metaphors like, “I’m centered or I’m balanced or I’m flexible in my life or in my relationships,” and actually just make it palpable and physical.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so interesting, Jamie, because just as a doctor, I see so many people disembodied, not living in their body. We are so gifted with this extraordinary organism to feel, to sense, to do, to move, to play, to experience. And so many people are just so disconnected. And it makes sense given our trauma culture, one in four people are sexually abused. And then there’s all the other kinds of trauma we experience as children. And so in order to survive, we disconnect from our bodies. That’s why somehow someone can get from a normal weight as a kid to 600 pounds. It doesn’t happen overnight. And how does that happen? It’s because we’re so disconnected. And I think these practices, again, are accessible. We don’t learn them, we’re not taught them, they’re not part of our culture, but they are part of other cultures, whether it’s Tai Chi or qi gong or yoga or various kinds of martial arts or dance or movement that have always been in human culture. We go to clubs and party, but that’s about it.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. And then even a couple of big metronomes to our entire physiological systems, as you well know, are the endo-cannabinoid system, which most folks aren’t even aware of. In fact, I think there was a study maybe about 10 years ago, but it said that 90% of US physicians weren’t even conversant in it as a system or its impact. But there’s been phenomenal studies in Israel on that since the 1960s. Raphael Mechoulam is the pioneering physician. He actually did it with NIH grants from the US for that whole time. And it’s the system into which cannabis interacts, but it’s not because of cannabis, that’s just a lucky fluke.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, the body already had that going for it.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, right. Sea sponges from 500 million years ago have an endo-cannabinoid system. So the fact is that it governs everything from bone growth to stem cells to brain health. The Israeli military studied it for TBIs, for traumatic brain injuries, and being able to flood the body in all of those things. There’s studies at Cornell Medical Center on the impact on mood. And fundamentally, anandamide is what they call the bliss molecule, which is endogenous to human brains. And that is what the endo-cannabinoid system produces.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, and we call it endo-cannabinoid receptors or opioid receptors, they’re actually metabolizing and interacting with molecules that our body already has.

Jamie Wheal:
Absolutely. And in fact, there’s an interesting genetic variant where Nigerians have an unusually higher amount of an anandamide. And there’s a couple of other cultures around the world to do. And typically, it reflects in less anxiety, greater fear extinction from adverse events and overall a generally higher set point. So that’s amazing and has all these profound impacts that virtually none of us are aware of. But it governs huge swaths of our physiology and resilience. And then the vagus nerve, which is becoming increasingly more known through Stephen Porges’ work and [inaudible 00:43:30] and others. But it’s largely unknown. And it goes from our brain stem all the way down to our root. And again, is this huge metronome governing all kinds of internal regulation. And you can improve it by gargling, by singing, by humming, by massaging your throat. There’s pacemaker interventions, there’s more high tech pharmacological stuff, but just those alone, just fascia, endo-cannabinoid system and vagal nerve tone. You don’t have to become an athlete, you don’t have to become a yogi, there’s nothing extreme about it. It’s just learning how to adjust the knobs and levers of our bodies and brains for greater health, greater resilience and overall higher wellbeing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the practices that help you do these things are in the book, right?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, absolutely. And particularly easy ones like respiration. Here’s just ways to become more in charge of your respiratory awareness. And I’m sure that many of your listeners are probably familiar with breath work. They might have heard of folks like Whim Hof or other folks.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, we’ve had a number of those folks on the podcast.

Jamie Wheal:
Progressing the conversation, James Nestor wrote that great book, Breathe. But I think people often these days still fixate on a specific version of breathing, often hyperventilatory state shifting, assume that’s what breath work kind of is, versus the goal is to be conversant across the entire range of rate, rhythm, and depth for desired outcome. And then we can just be in our own skin.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I was a yoga teacher before I was a doctor, they call it pranayama, which is all these different techniques for modulating your breath and changing your biology through breathing.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, and Aleister Crowley, the infamous western sex magician who wrote dozens of books and never said anything straight, it was always hidden in riles and verses and all this kind of stuff, the one thing he says out loud on the page is pranayama, pranayama, pranayama, pranayama alone is everything.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so powerful. So you have breathing, you have being in your body, you have sexuality, and then you have substances and music.

Jamie Wheal:
You can consider those, depending on how you want to make the argument… Ron Siegel at UCLA has talked about the urge for animals to seek non-ordinary states or intoxication, is not only ubiquitous across human cultures, it’s not only ubiquitous across primates or even mammals, it even goes to birds.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Really, who seek non-ordinary states of consciousness? What do you mean, there’s tripping parakeets?

Jamie Wheal:
Yes, absolutely. And fundamentally, he was saying that other than air, food and sex, you can make a case that it’s our fourth biological drive. So you can either see it as an amplifier. Oliver Sacks, the famous neuroscientist, said say what you will about drugs, but they offer transcendence on demand. They actually work in a predictable way, which is part of the reason why the psychedelic renaissance is generating so many radical insights into theories of mind and consciousness is because you can predictably give somebody a molecule, a compound, park them in an FMRI machine, or whatever other measurement you’re going to be doing, and you will get a repeatable result, versus getting a Tibetan lama to be chanting or meditating or something harder to pin down or more esoteric. So substances and specifically state shifting, and my inquiry in the book tended to focus on those compounds which were both available and accessible, they weren’t either strictly controlled or wildly esoteric. So they were available over the counter, off the shelf, by prescription, schedule three, four compounds, those kind of things. But also from functional, what do they do, some of the most interesting compounds to provide that kind of peak state experience, that kind of death rebirth experience. So those that drop your neural EEG down into delta wave states.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which is what you get for meditation.

Jamie Wheal:
Well, very esoteric meditation, into the Vajrayana traditions. A lot of meditations are sort of alpha to theta. A, there’s no singular meditation. They’re all very different, produce different things, as you well know. And their neuroelectric signatures vary comparably. So delta is typically only accessible to most of us in deep and dreamless sleep. Waking delta is a very rare, pretty esoteric state because it’s…

Jamie Wheal:
… [inaudible 00:48:00] delta is a very rare, pre-esoteric state, because it’s down to damn near brain dead, so four hertz and less, and that has super intriguing correlates with near death experiences. So, Karl Deisseroth at Stanford has done all that work on optogenetics, and the ability to source different states via tweaking things, obviously in mice and that kind of stuff, but in human patients, they had epileptic patients and they gave them the compound ketamine, which is a dissociative anesthetic, which induces delta wave states, and then correlated that with a sense of egolessness or ego death, and correlated that with antidepressant effects. And so, what they realized is that they isolated the region of the brain was coming in right around three hertz was the sort of signature that they were picking up when patients were under the influence of ketamine, and reporting a sort of selflessness, or an out of body experience.
Then what was really interesting is that they then went back in and electrically stimulated that same three hertz signal in that same region without the drug, without ketamine, and patients still reported the same states.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Out of body experience.
Wow.

Jamie Wheal:
And then as a result of that work, another group started researching nitrous oxide for its potential-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Laughing gas.

Jamie Wheal:
Yes, exactly, what folks use at dentists, what doulas and midwives use to ease childbirth, that compound, because they were like, “Oh, maybe there is an analog for nitrous oxide as antidepressant also,” and it has actually proven out as well. And then the anesthesiology team at MIT did research on nitrous oxide and was shocked to find that it actually doesn’t, not only does it delta wave sleep or state for three to 12 minutes after a 50/50 oxygen nitrous oxide gas blend infusion. So sort of wearing a mask and breathing it, but for three to 12 minutes you get double the amplitude delta wave oscillations in the brain before the brain then normalizes out.
So you get all of these experiences and you realize, oh, delta wave activity is arguably the signature of a sort of near quote, unquote, death experience. Right. AKA what has been, as you were saying in the west in the wisdom traditions, a death rebirth initiation protocol. So you’re like, okay. So those are potentially super interesting because it’s not just that… This is that old movie Flatliners with all the med students go into the basement and take turns paddling each other and there’s always the cautionary tale of don’t play God. Right? But we are close to getting to do that in more controlled and more responsible ways now. And the interior content of those experiences are often quite profound and provide as much access to the healing to the antidepressant anti-anxiety effects as the physiological experience itself.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And they can help heal traumas?

Jamie Wheal:
Well, I mean there is strong evidence to suggest that, and I just don’t think we are anywhere near teasing this apart. And you and I talked about this, at lunch of isolating factors. What of even more broadly, all of the research into the psychedelic renaissance, whether that’s Ayahuasca, MDMA, Ibogaine, psilocybin that the compounds that are under fairly intensive comprehensive study, it’s hard at this stage to really separate out what is pure neurochemistry, resulting in decrease in depressive symptoms, anxiety, et cetera, whatever they’re studying versus what is the interior content, the inevitability, the mysterious nature, the profundity, whatever.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Once you see God, how can you turn back and not see it? Right?

Jamie Wheal:
And I don’t know if we’ll ever truly unravel which bit, which tail is wagging which dog on that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So in the sort of service of this sort of conversation that there are some substances you talk about that are accessible and legal, whether it’s ketamine or nitrous oxide, in many states, cannabis as sort of doorways to help us access these altered states which you say are non states of consciousness that humans and primates and other animals seek, which is actually interesting to me. And I think we’re all looking for that, whether it’s we pray or whether we dance or whether we listen to music or whether we take substances or addictions or all attempts to change our state cause somehow disconnected from something that makes us feel whole and complete. But these are in a way very more adaptive and more therapeutic strategies than often we’ve used. And you’ve sort of codified them in a way that is very interesting. And you actually created a research project to look at these things in a more objective way.
And I’d love for you to talk about this research project because essentially you took people and put them through a three month program and measured objective scientific metrics to look at the changes in their state and the changes in their biology and the changes in their psychology. And you discovered some pretty interesting things. So I love you to share about this concept of hedonic engineering, which is what the larger frame of this conversation, it’s not about hedonism, it’s about how do you activate these altered states which help us then be more connected to ourselves, be more connected to our partners, be more connected to the social fabric in which we live, and how did you create these experiences for people? What were the elements of them and what were the findings of this study?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, I mean it was really interesting because as I was doing this research, I basically just started just keeping my eyes and ears open for any published research that was indicating any interaction with the body and the brain, at the air, and in the realms of neuroanatomy, neuro electricity neurochemistry. So what was going on and where was it going on and what parts of the brain was it being informed by? Cardiac state or coherence or condition endocrine system, any sort of does any intervention positively inform or help boost the metrics of wellbeing and all the way into non-ordinary states? And if you sort play that fill in the blank, bingo, you end up in this unavoidable place of sexy biohacking, because most biohacking is about what pills to take, what headset to wear is very kind of geeky, very technological and often consumer driven people advancing the biohacking movement tend to want to sell you the thing that they tell you solves all the bits.
So basically we wanted to see if as we were putting together this chart or matrix of all the different ways to affect the elements of our body and brain to create healthy outcomes, we sort ended up in this strange or curious spot, which was sort of sexy biohacking. You’re like, well it seems like if you’re really looking to intervene in our bodily systems, the sexual arousal pleasure centers are a sort of helpful to non-negotiable part of it, which puts this into the realm of consensual couples practices. So not that was in any way unique or specific, it was just evolution through the kitchen sink at pair bonding, and back to John Lilly’s original insight, our sexual arousal networks map one to one with our pleasure centers. So it’s seemed the easiest and simplest way was to have preexisting couples come in, being willing to practice some version of a sexual fitness protocol.
And we were drawing quite heavily on Kinsey Research Institute fellows, Dr. Helen Fisher and Dr. Nicole Prause’s work because both of them have gone deeply into the neuroscience and psychology of arousal and then even physical and psychological healing. This is Prause’s work, especially via orgasm and via sexual arousal. She’s actually doing work on women’s orgasm as prescription pharmaceutical effectively to alleviate pain, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, all sorts of things. So you realize, wow, how interesting. And again, cheap and accessible to everybody. So that’s kind of where we were starting. And we also wanted to track not just subjective reports, did I like this? Am I happy or sad? But actually try and use metrics that are available for the entire academic research community, including citizen science. And so we took a couple of metrics that are of gold standards in the fields for peak states.
If you were conducting a sort sexual yoga practice, are you accessing non-dual, non-ordinary transcendent states? If so, how often? How deeply? As well as day to day kind of flow states, and how much is it shifting your ease and focus and concentration in daily life? And then also on the trauma, on the healing, a self assessed trauma score. So how many long term adverse life events have I had? How deeply did they impact my day to day, my emotional resilience, those kinds of things, as well as biometric, because sometimes we’re not great self reporters, especially of traumatic events. So how do we deal with that micro PTSD we were talking about earlier, just my nervous system is fragged and fibrillating. So we just used biometric devices. We’re both wearing an Oura ring.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Measuring heart rate variability.

Jamie Wheal:
And measuring overnight heart rate variability is a sign of how well balanced is my nervous system. And then also connection because again, back to evolution, throwing the kitchen sink at pair bonding, it’s like that’s the one relationship in our lives, that and the children that result that evolution has strongly, strongly, strongly encoded us to do well. And so if we can’t figure it out at that level, it probably just gets harder and weaker downstream with strangers, with anybody else.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I know I was thinking about this, talking to a friend of mine about who’s an example of a healthy relationship these days? It’s hard to find.

Jamie Wheal:
And it’s kind of a raw deal that many couples get into, which is, and this is back to Helen Fisher’s work, all the original hormonal imperative to mate the testosterone and the estrogen and then all of the bells and whistles, the fireworks of early attraction, the sort dopamine and the norepinephrine and the drop in serotonin, all those things kind of fizzle over time. As you then have a child, you then get into the grind, sleep interruptions, the hassle of domestic life.
So the question there is if you engage in a deliberate sexual fitness protocol, not something esoteric, not even something romantic, just saying, hey, this is an essential part of our nervous systems in physiology. When we cycle it, we are healthier and we’re also signaling to our body, I’m still alive, I still matter. Don’t stop phasing me out yet. Right, exactly. Does it improve connectivity? Does it improve intimacy with a partner and does it improve your overall affect or positivity on life?
So you do all those things. And again, now we’re waiting into delicate waters. There’s probably not a more intimate and strongly held sense of life then my sexuality, how good I am at it or not at it? And what do we do behind closed doors? So weren’t going to be overly prescriptive. So we just said, here are some basic protocols to do on a daily basis, a weekly basis, a monthly basis. Here’s the baselines that we just want everybody to engage in how they see fit. And then gave everybody your Lego set, gave everybody a menu and said, “Here’s how you increase nitric oxide. Here’s how you boost vagal nerve tone. Here’s how you engage your endo cannabinoid system. Here’s how you do all the things that we’ve been discussing.”
And there’s kind of mild, medium and spicy. You choose. And under the advisement of a functional medicine doctor, you guys can engage any of those combinations as you see fit. And just report back on that in your subjective logs. So over 12 weeks then the results were, I mean, fundamentally an increase in connection, a decrease in heart rate, or increase in heart rate variability, meaning decrease in stress.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
This is a good thing.

Jamie Wheal:
And a boost in mystical states, and particularly for women. So women had higher self-reported trauma at the beginning, but they also had the largest delta or positive improvement over time. And then in a majority of subjects reported that during that practice with their partner, they experienced the highest mystical state or state of sacred, state of the sublime that they’d experienced in their lives. And then the end results outperformed talk therapy and even in sort isolated psychedelic therapy as well.
And it would make sense.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s a big change.

Jamie Wheal:
It’s a huge change since that’s the kind of lead candidate right now for addressing our social ills and the beauty of it is that it does it at the level of pair bonded family unit. So any benefits that an individual experience goes into their partner, goes into their children if they have them, family unit, and it can hopefully radiate out from there. So it’s very much kind of the most grassroots way of DIY healing and integration that I’ve seen because Rick Dublin, the founder of MAPS, the multidisciplinary association for Psychedelic studies, I’m sure again, many of your audience are familiar, rick and I were at an event on a panel and then we were talking in between breaks and I just wanted to catch up. I was like, “What’s happening with the phase three trials? What’s the latest and greatest and what’s happening on the neuroscience?”
And he said, basically what we have found in our studies is that the benefits, I mean a couple of interesting things. One was is that moderate dose MDMA, a 85 milligrams versus like 150, was actually better for the psychotherapeutic. So it was actually more helpful not to simply just get love bombed and just kind of be in a puddle of goo, just fired up and stoked on the world, but actually kind of a threshold level that allowed people to access traumatic memories, process them with a therapist, rework the memories, and then kind of put them back on the shelves of their mind. And then he said, “Yeah, that the high prolactin, oxytocin, vasopressin signature that we’re seeing in those patients where they’re having such positive results, the closest analog we can see is the post orgasmic state.” And that’s what led me to Nicole Prause’s work where she was doing the orgasm as prescription pharmaceutical. You’re like, okay, why on earth is in everybody, across cultures around the world, why don’t we all have some sexual fitness practice?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term, sexual fitness. It’s a very new idea. And what you’re doing is you’re sort of stacking a lot of things from a lot of different areas of exploration and human therapy and consciousness and neuroscience and putting them all together in a cocktail, which has never really been done before, in an intentional way. I think people have probably played with it on the margins. And what you’ve discovered was something quite profound. And I think you’re using the doorways that the human body already has for activating these states, whether it’s nitric oxide pathways or whether it’s vagal nerve, which is your relaxation system or your endorphins and dopamine system, which are your pleasure molecules or oxytocin, which is the molecule that gets released in a moment’s breastfeeding. Or when you’re making love or testosterone and adding in all these plant based or other psychoactive compounds that, whether it’s cannabis or ketamine or GHB or 2CB or MDMA or things that are actually kind of emerging as… they’re not necessarily natural molecules, they’re kind of manmade molecules, but they can activate some of these states and pathways and various kinds of other psychological therapies.
And I’m putting them all together in a set of simple practices that are safe, accessible, scalable for the most part. Now some of these compounds are hard to get, but that help people change the way they think they feel, they see themselves, they see their place in the world and create meaning in a way where there was a lack of meaning. We’re in a crisis of meaning. And that’s really what Recaptured the Rapture, I think, is about how do we recapture meaning and how do we capture connection? How do we recapture intimacy with ourselves and each other and our world?
So I think it’s kind of brilliant, and I’d love for you to talk about what you actually have these couples do because it’s kind of sounds to most people I think a little odd and strange and weird, but it’s actually pretty interesting and some of these practices are ancient practices too. So can you talk about what the instructions were exactly and what these couples actually did?

Jamie Wheal:
Sure. And obviously for anybody who is in a student of neo tantra or originating in eastern traditions or western sex magical schools, this will seem remarkably tame and sort of beginner level. But the intention was to make it accessible to folks. And so we borrowed from Nicole Prause’s work where she had been studying subjects doing 15 minutes of clitoral stimulation of the female-identified patient or practitioner.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s oming, what’s been called oming.

Jamie Wheal:
It has been. I mean that’s how it was branded and then very problematically kind of captured in that space. But yes, fundamentally the idea of just simple, no frills, not as foreplay, just as almost a think of it as sort of tactile medication, just stimulation of the high nerve endings and concentrations in a woman’s clitoris and just using that to create the neurochemical cascade on a recurring basis, on a daily basis, and just having that as a baseline practice. And then engaging in, as we discussed all the bodily elements. So time massage, which is a very beautiful practice with two partners where you basically yard on each other’s limb. So you’re pulling and pulling traction and doing all these things to open and expand the joint capsules, lengthened ligaments and tendons and muscular chair. It’s a very nice kind of grooming, practicing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Like partner stretching.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, good old bonobos, grooming each other. We stop doing that. And yet it’s essential. So that using foam rollers, rollout tools, theragun, percussion massage, those kinds of things on a daily basis. And then two 60 minute sessions a week, typically Tuesdays, Thursdays where you would engage in all of that, and then leading into 30 to 45 minutes of basically partner erotic play into potentially sexual intercourse. But just doing it, if folks are familiar with the coital alignment technique, which is a very specific adaptation of the missionary position where the male will be on top and can sort of push forward. So it’s pubic bone on pubic bone and you just have that experience, but then engaging in focus movement and breath practice. So it’s not kind of like wild mayhem, it’s just can we create this bodily hookup? Can we stimulate our nervous systems in these ways? And can we breathe in ways that are focused and intentional and then see what results. Yeah, so it’s not like romantic-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not like the end game of just having an orgasm.

Jamie Wheal:
No, it was just truly that sexual fitness practice. And then once a week, ideally a sort of self-identified Sabbath like experience, just some half a day where you turn off the phones and close the doors and dedicate to reconnecting and potentially including hyper ventilatory breath work.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You include breath work as part of this too.

Jamie Wheal:
Yep. Because I mean that goes back to the respiration embodiment, sexuality, substances, music, so the whole suite of interventions. And then potentially once a month, depending where people’s tolerance for intensity and able to stably hold it, you could introduce cannabinoids, so edible cannabis and or smokeable cannabis if that was congruent or available legally in your area, and then potentially breath work with, and this was functional med doc overseen, which would’ve been oxygen and or carbiger and or nitrous oxide. So you could begin breath work practices with, instead of just breathing the available air, actually specifically choosing to super saturate your lungs with different gas blends. A little bit, how scuba divers will blend different gas blends. And then they were open to choosing that up to and including oxytocin, ketamine nasal spray, which would be a sort of primer to put you in a sort ironically at low doses like that as sort of embodied disembodied state.
So it almost serves a disinhibitor and kind of a sensorium as well as the oxytocin potentially increasing feelings of connectivity. There’s some question of blood brain barrier crossing and absorption and viability of that, but that’s still to be determined. And then everybody just kept journals over the 12 weeks and I mean a number of people reported, not surprisingly, if you’re doing this with a practice partner and you’re intensifying the frequency and the consistency and even the intensity of your sexual fitness practice together, good things and bad things are going to come up. You’re both going to have higher highs, like, oh my gosh, we’ve reclaimed our love passion where we feel like teenagers, again, you’ve reanimated the polarity of the early attraction phases, even in a longer term relationship. But then also running into the rocks of a little bit like the MAPS research with trauma sufferers.
That idea of like, oh, I’m now in that safe and secure connected state, so some part of my system is saying, okay, now is a time that it’s okay to bring up the deep thing, and it could be relational issues, past things. It could even predate the relationship. It could be adolescent traumas, early adult traumas, often sexually relationally coded. And it can even include sort of access to almost transpersonal senses. All women everywhere or all men and people start interacting with that. And similar to the MAPS PTSD studies as partners took those memories off the shelf as it were, and explored them, discussed them, in the state of safety, connection, belonging, the vasopressin, oxytocin, some those states, they were able to rework them and release them.
Now, there were a couple of couples that actually ejected out of the study-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Because?

Jamie Wheal:
Well, we started with 12 couples, we ended with 10 because they came up against anything from just life compatibility and fit, they simply weren’t able to stick with the program to another couple that it uncorked harder stuff than they were able to deal and so that’s also really important to know that, that it’s not simply a Willy Wonka ticket to the chocolate factory. It is a very intense, I kind of think of it as sort of NC-17 fifth class rock climbing it. It’s not for kids and the falls can kill you. Right?

Jamie Wheal:
… kids, and the falls can kill you. But it doesn’t mean that we blame it on the mountain. If somebody goes up there unprepared and falls off, you teach it, you train it, you have systems and safety and backup and you and a traveling partner. And if you do that, then you can stand on the top of a beautiful, beautiful peak at sunrise.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s amazing. So basically sort of unveiled a way for us to access healing states through sexuality that incorporate multiple modalities from body work to breath work to substances, to our own sexual energies, actually help us release things that keep us from ourselves and from each other in a way that heals trauma and has the potential to create a greater healing within the culture, sounds like.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. And if you stay with that practice, it sort of spins up like electromagnets, basically, where the rotation of the copper wire on the metal poles creates magnetism. So you can literally learn to make love. You can engage…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Literally.

Jamie Wheal:
… the protocols that create the neurochemical signatures and profiles of everything from lust to attraction to long-term love. And it’s literally practice-based. When you stop the practices, it powers down and the polarity dissolves.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s like fitness, right? You stop exercising and you get unfit, right?

Jamie Wheal:
A hundred percent. And that’s really one of the biggest unlocks that a lot of the subjects noted in their journals, which was, oh my gosh, committing to sexual fitness as Iron Cloud practice. I don’t wait till my teeth are shining and I’m smiling to floss my teeth. I floss every day because I know. I don’t wait till I feel like a million bucks and I can bench press a car to go to the gym. These are long-term incremental practices. And that was one of the biggest insights I think that a lot of the subjects had was like, “Oh my gosh, this is game-changing.” To commit to this practice whether we want to or not. And then the question is is now my cup overflows?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Sometimes you don’t feel like going to the gym, right?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. But to have it your nexus, a thriving, stable, love-filled relationship where my nervous system is defragged, where I’m integrated, where I’m connected to my closest, quote unquote, stakeholders, is a great place to start from. And then the question is is can we take the dyads or the pairs and turn those into dozens, a group of people that are close and connected, and can those dozens connect with dozens of dozens and can we actually just one pod at a time expand that kind of care and connection and commitment to each other more broadly through the culture?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, wouldn’t that be interesting? And that would, I think, help us, like you said, rethink God, sex, and death in a world that’s lost its mind. Jamie, this is quite amazing and I think for those interested in the details of the study and what they did and how they did it, the book is a great explanation of those, which is available everywhere you can get your books or you can go to recapturetherapture.com. I’d love to talk about, lastly before we close, something you wrote about in the book called The Ethical Guidelines That Can Help Us For Own Personal Explorations. And there’s a whole bunch of them. Do the obvious, don’t do stupid shit, let the mystery stay the mystery. Can you kind of unpack those for us?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, well that was actually a subset when we were talking about meaning 3.0, and how do we make that available to everybody around the world so they can build their own. In the same way that the Harvard Sacred Design Lab was like, hey, healing, inspiration, and connection. Make sure you don’t miss those. There’s also the sense of, well, what were the core elements? What’s the toolbox?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It allows us to get the healing, inspiration, and connection.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, for building meaning 3.0. And it sort of felt like you need a metaphysics, you need some way to pass the numinous or the sacred and not get unstuck in wooly or magical thinking. And as we can see these days with everybody from anti-vax conspiracies to QAnon conspiracies to lizard people and various, various things, we’re not very good at unpacking non-ordinary states these days. So having a clear and concise metaphysics is essential. But then we also need an ethics. We need a way of governing what ought I do. And up till now, organized religion, at least in the Western world, was Abrahamic.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Ten commandments.

Jamie Wheal:
Ten commandments. Thou shalt and thou shalt not. And those were binary and they were moral and they were absolutist. And there was a reason for that, which is if you left it up to the judgment or discernment of the everyman, the everyman was going to bugger it up nearly every time. So they were very, very strict, and they coded for the lowest common denominator. But an arguable distinction between morality and ethics is morality is absolutist, and ethics is, it depends. It’s situational, right? It’s not the act, it’s your relationship to the act that determines it’s rightness or wrongness. And so, instead of the 10 commandments, we just kind of playfully said, “Well, how about the 10 suggestions?” Can we have a checklist that that’s not absolute.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Suggestions? How many tablets is that?

Jamie Wheal:
But can we play with this in just sort of here are known issues, here is kind of collective wisdom on going down this path where you’re not shunning ecstatic states, you’re not outsourcing healing, but you’re going to take these under your own advisement and what are some good ways to proceed. So having a set of ethics feels really important. And then the last two were scriptures. What are the stories that inspire us and provide us how we ought to live? And then ultimately, deities as well, which is like how do we invoke some living relationship to the deities? And you spoke of Tibetan traditions. They have cultivating wrathful and benevolent deities. They have that sense of, I’m going to… Marsha McLeland, you become what you behold. So that idea of meditating on and articulation of the divine, the Catholic tradition has veneration of the saints.
There’s lots of sure instances where we… And these days, it’s the Kardashians and TikTok influences. We have them on our walls or on our screen. So the idea is like, can we actually create healthy relationships to all five of those things? And the 10 suggestions was just kind of the guidelines to try and help people not put it in the ditches [inaudible 01:18:04]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So what are they?

Jamie Wheal:
Gosh. Well, I mean you [inaudible 01:18:06] the list.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
All right, do the obvious. I’ll cue you.

Jamie Wheal:
Do the obvious is basically sleep well, move often, get outside, eat real foods, mostly plants, not too much. Michael Pollen 101.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly.

Jamie Wheal:
Make love, be grateful. The entire self-optimization movement is arguably tripping over itself to spend so much time and so many dollars overinvesting in the perfectability and the fine-grained this and that, and the next diet, paleo, then it’s vegan, then it’s something something. Just do the obvious, the things that have always worked for humans, and then you’ll be alive and vital and healthy. And every culture’s had this stuff. So let’s not overthink that, and let’s get it online and then go back to being helpful.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The next one’s do stupid shit?

Jamie Wheal:
Don’t do stupid shit.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Don’t do stupid shit.

Jamie Wheal:
Because no matter what, if we’re saying we’re not under the shackles of traditional meaning 1.0, we’re under our own recognizance to play with all of these techniques, which up until now have been highly esoteric, tightly controlled. So if we’re open-sourcing all this stuff, that comes with a caveat of don’t do stupid shit. So don’t end up in a body bag, a cult, a mental institution, divorce court caused by any of those things.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I did the latter a bunch of times.

Jamie Wheal:
Well yeah, but I mean obviously these things happen as life events, but don’t do it in your pursuit of putting all this stuff together. And let the mystery stay the mystery is just very much, at least in the transformational scene these days, there’s an awful lot of carpetbaggers of catharsis where everybody’s telling you their journey. Everybody is reciting in excruciating detail all of their breakthroughs, their last profound teary session, what it all means, what their star tribe is saying, whatever whatever. And it’s kind of like, look, the numinous or the non-dual is infinite in all directions. And whatever we’re just bungee jumping into at this date is just one pinpoint, bound by the prison house of language, selfhood, identity.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
[inaudible 01:20:04] too wrapped up in your own story and nonsense is what you’re saying.

Jamie Wheal:
So let the burning bush burn. And then let’s get back to awe and humility and wonder.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What’s 80-20, woken to broken?

Jamie Wheal:
Well, that’s the one we were speaking of earlier, which is just that idea of-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, yeah.

Jamie Wheal:
… of just… Have this peak state, to remember what you’ve forgotten, because that that’s a fairly common subjective experience. And typically it gives you a punch list of the places you’re still broken. Go mend yourself to the point where you’re functional and helpful, and then instead of devoting all your excess time and money to chasing the imagined long tail of your perfectability and getting your head above the clouds, turn around and help someone who’s just struggling at their head above the water. and be helpful because arguably, even if you’re selfish, helper’s high is still one of the best ways to provide life satisfaction. So if you’re missing that final bit-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true. I mean altruism hits the same receptors as cocaine or heroin. [inaudible 01:20:58]

Jamie Wheal:
Absolutely. And there’s so many of our brothers and sisters that need help. So if you’re able-bodied, show up joyfully.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And what’s the one about F your journey?

Jamie Wheal:
Oh yeah. I got dragged to a hot yoga class in Austin and there was this-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What’s wrong with hot yoga? I love hot yoga.

Jamie Wheal:
No, it’s fine, it’s fine. I’m a cold weather athlete so I prefer to be someplace like in the water, in the mountains. But anyway, I was in it and I was feeling a little salty because I was dragged there, and the teacher was like, “Well when my journey began three years ago,” and this neon sign just popped in my head of your journey. Because, A, I was captive in a hot yoga class, but I was also just thinking how much time we spend belaboring the stages and steps of our own process. And if we are fortunate enough to find ourselves in a flow state, in the deep now, in a place of grace and what the Greeks would’ve called kairos, that sort of sacred time, then everything that got us there is redeemed in the unfolding.
You look back to divorced parents or abusive dad or whatever, you look back to the bullies in grade school, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, they were all part of my road to get to this ineffable moment, which is dropping me to my knees in gratitude.” So therefore, St. Paul said, he said, “Love keeps no record of wrong.” So if we get to that place then it’s all comes out in the wash. So shut the (beep) up about it. How I got here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s actually reminds me of the Buddhist parable of the crossing the river to get to the other shore of enlightenment. And when you cross the river, with a boat, you don’t carry the boat on your back for the rest of your journey. So, very similar. And the other one is do the hard thing?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. I think a lot of times when people get initial access to peak states, and that could be something as simple as a performance state, like flow states, playing basketball or music or whatever it might be, or more profound breakthrough states. There is a sense of ease, there’s a sense of effortlessness, there’s a sense that everything is unfolding without anybody at the wheel or according to plan. And so people can get hooked on, “Oh, if I’m not feeling it, if it’s not easy and effortless, then I’m not going to do it.” And I think actually what you really want is some version of a sort of stoic Daoism, which is the Daoist part is kind of go with the flow. So wherever you can, don’t fight the forces of nature, life, reality. But on the other hand, there are times where you got to dig a son of a bitch to get through that closeout set of waves. And there’s a time for active, aggressive striving in the face of adversity.
And the ironic thing, I mean the Mark Twain thing is if you’ve got to eat two frogs in a day, eat your ugliest one first. So there’s that sense of the, I think stoic Daoism really kind of embodies, I guess, where I’ve come down, which is go with the river of life wherever you can and dig like a son (beep) when you have to.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The next of the ethical guidelines that you talk about is never lose the one.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. Well I mean I think a lot of people are losing the plot. So they have non-dual experiences or peak state experiences, and they effectively just go off the reservation. They sort of lose contact with last known point of shared reality and consensus, opinion or reality. So they start espousing all kinds of wack (beep), to put it technically. So what I was thinking about is both music and action sports, where a musician, you’ve got the beat, you’ve got the chorus, you’ve got the drummer and the bass player, and then a break comes and either the guitarist or the percussionist or somebody who goes off on a solo. And the more they tease it, the more they lose the one right to go off on their rift, but then come back and nail the one, the more satisfying the solo is. But if they’ve then just lost it and they don’t come back, the whole thing collapses.
And the same in action sports. In martial arts it’s your [inaudible 01:25:11] or [inaudible 01:25:11]. It’s the center, two fingers down and two fingers in from your belly button. If you think about surfers, snowboarders, halfpipe skiers, everything we saw in the Winter Olympics and most Red Bull films, it’s athletes deliberately flipping, spinning, twisting around their center, around the one or the pulse in this case, in a bodily sense, and then they stomp the landing. Of course, if you lose the one, upside down in space, whatever it is, you eat shit, and it’s not nearly as fun. So we all want to tweak what is the beat, what is the pulse. And the more we tweak it, the further afield we can go and land it, the more joyful and delightful it is. And the same can be said of our metaphysical explorations. So for me, not now to kind of stack a metaphor-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You tie that back to never lose the one metaphysically.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, well for me it’s a little bit like, now I think of mountain guiding, using a compass in a whiteout. You can go anywhere you want beyond the back country access gates at your ski area, into the back country, provided you can navigate back to that gate. If you just go out there and you just start wandering like, “Woohoo, we’re doing it, just like in the movies,” and you’re lost in your casualty. But if you can say, “We’re going out into dangerous terrain, we’re going out into uncertain spaces,” but I know how to reverse my tracks and get back to the gate and back to civilization and back to safety and consensus reality, then I have permission to wander further a afield and potentially even to help or guide others. And so that to me is the idea of just you can go anywhere you want and you can think anything you can think of provided you never lose the one.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Amazing. And the next ethical guideline is it’s not that either, or either.

Jamie Wheal:
Well I mean, look, one of the classic terms, and we’re seeing piles of it these days is apophenia, where people get an excess amount of dopamine in their systems, and that could be their own chemical balances or imbalances, it could be a state experience, it could be whatever’s going on, and then start seeing patterns everywhere, and they engage in a sort of false certainty. it shows up in schizophrenics, and it also shows up in conspiracy theorists in particular. So when people have outside of wisdom traditions, without a…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
[inaudible 01:27:21].

Jamie Wheal:
… wise teacher smacking them down and saying, “Ah, that’s not that, go and chop some more wood. Do your thing.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not that either, right?

Jamie Wheal:
The idea of we people often fixate on the glimpse they have seen, and they experience apophenia. They get that false certainty that they have seen the light, the truth, the way. And just to remember that it’s not that either, that anytime you mistake a lowercase truth for a capital T truth, you screwed the pooch. So just that idea of take your insights for what they are, honor them, cherish them, but keep going and hold [inaudible 01:27:54]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That sort of reminds me of the Buddhist parable again, another, this kind of stuff is not new. Don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. So we have a lot of ways to get there, but we often kind of get fixed on the technique or the vehicle or whatever instead of actually the thing itself. Practice resurrection?

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, well that one…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That sounds exciting.

Jamie Wheal:
Well again, that’s Wendell Berry’s phrase, from that same poem we were talking about earlier. So that’s how it ends. And to me it was such an evocative phrase, because again, here we are, it just seems like we’re just giving lots of love to the Tibetans today. But that whole notion of they spend 3, 4, 5, 7 decades just trying to prepare for a conscious death. And if at that moment of dying, they can stay awake to it, not get suckered into the bardos, then they can step off the wheel of incarnation and you’re like, okay, that is a pile of effort for one at bat.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, one at bat.

Jamie Wheal:
And if you slip on a banana appeal, get hit by the proverbial bus, you might have blown it. So I think Wendell Berry’s injunction to practice resurrection. What does it mean to die to my preferences, to die to my stories, to die to my pleasure, die to my pain, die to my history, die to my rightness, die to any of it in any given moment? Can I then go from marching along in this chronological life of ours, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain? Can I yield to annihilation in that moment? And all those practices that we were talking about, those death-rebirth practices, are not just metaphorical. They’re literal. Back to that delta wave EEG, like almost brain death.
If I can experience any of those moments of dying, I have a chance in that spaciousness to choose a different pathway, and/or to potentially bear witness to, or… Yeah, I would say bear witness to a different, deeper and richer way of being in the world. But it’s hard. And the trick with dying, even if it has been simulated in stage, is you have it a few times. You’re like, “Oh, I got the hang of this.” And my experience at least it is incredibly hard and it happens out of your white knuckled hands every single time. And if it didn’t, it wouldn’t actually be dying. So we have to practice it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I mean, I think again, Tibetans have a model for this called dream yoga, which is lucid dreaming, and it’s a different state of consciousness to where you’re awake in your dream, and you’re able to direct your dream and access states of knowledge and experience and consciously, you can. And it’s their practice for dying, essentially. And the last is above all, be kind, which seems obvious, but unpack that.

Jamie Wheal:
Well, that was Aldous Huxley’s last… among his dying words on his deathbed, with his wife Laura. And in all of the neuroscience and the fancy waistcoats, now all of the fascinating cultural anthropology and the studies of this and in all of the excitement and possibilities that we each might experience as we kind of go down these roads of discovery, I think it’s just kind of easy to forget that essential. If that the Hopi grandmothers had a phrase for when the men were getting too big for their britches and talking too much (beep) around the fire, which would be yes, but does it grow corn?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Does it grow corn.

Jamie Wheal:
Right? Is this helpful? Does this help our people? Is this life affirming, is it life sustaining? And the being kind part is to, again, in a world that feels increasingly unkind, and there’s so much lack of care and concern to remember that, and again, Houston Smith, the famous comparative religious scholar, he said, “May your passing illuminations become abiding light.” And that just feels like a really good kind of way between Huxley and Smith there. Those are some elders of our time. And just to be more loving and more compassionate and potentially more courageous, not just for ourselves, but on behalf of the least of our brothers and sisters in a world that really needs it. Feels like a good place to…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It remind me of that book, Everything… What is it? About everything I learned in kindergarten or something, about basic rules for being a human.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. Playground rules.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Share, be kind, be nice.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah. Put things back where you found them. Leave it better than you found it. Women and children first, which can sound chauvinistic until you realize it’s actually caregivers and their dependents first. And if you’re a free-wheeling, healthy able bodied person, these rules work for standing in the line at the fire department during a fire evacuation or a drought or an interruption in service. This works in aid camps and refugee camps. These are hardcore, instilled, cross-cultural sets of values and fairness and reciprocity of how we do this thing. We know. We know how to do it. It’s just getting back to the basics.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow. Well Jamie, thank you for an incredible conversation, unpacking the ways in which we’ve lost meaning, how to get back to meaning, how to recapture the rapture, through both tools that are easily accessible to all of us, and by simple principles for living, that I think can take us back to a better world, which we desperately need right now, because it’s very unsettling to be at the end of the fire hose of the crises that are our global environment right now.
This is sort of a breath of hope and fresh air and possibility. I invite everybody to take a look. They can go get books wherever you get your books. Recapture the Rapture, Rethinking God, Sex and Death in a World that’s Lost Its Mind, and [inaudible 01:33:38] be recapturing your mind. So Jamie, thank you for the work you do. I can’t wait to see what’s next. And it’s been great having you on the podcast.

Jamie Wheal:
Yeah, man. Awesome to chat.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And for those of you listening, if you love this conversation and people who are struggling with finding meaning and how to recapture that and recapture their connection to what matters, share this with them. I bet they’d love to hear it. Leave a comment how have you found your way in this crazy world. We’d love to hear. And subscribe wherever you get your podcast and we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Pharmacy.

Outro:
Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their Find a Practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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