Momentum Podcast: 846

Microdosing on the Fear of Death

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

As an entrepreneur, one of the most valuable skills we can develop is leadership.

Growing as a leader can be incredibly difficult when we have so much going on around us that is demanding our time, effort, energy, and focus. One of the fastest shortcuts to blocking out the noise and focusing on growing as a leader is nervous-system regulation. 

In this podcast, I discuss how cold plunging has radically increased my capacity to lead my team. I was introduced to cold plunging by a friend who is a healer and breathwork instructor, Shane Saunders. I started cold plunging after several months of hesitation and gradually increased the time they spent in cold water from 10 seconds to a minute and a half, with a noticeable decrease in bodily tension. 

Through this consistent practice, my presence and awareness with my team has increased, and microdosing on the fear of death has increased my capacity to lead them well.

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Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum podcast.

As visionary entrepreneurs, we are evolutionary hunters. And the people working on your team are evolutionary hunters as well. They're just not at the level where they want to run an entire team. So you are an evolutionary hunter surrounded by a tribe of hunters. And the more you can regulate your nervous system, the better you will do in leading the team and leading your clients or members and leading your company to the highest level of success. In this podcast, I want to share one of the strategies that a friend of mine calls microdosing on the fear of death. But it's so good for nervous system regulation.

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for Empire Builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Should we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.

So it's been a while since I've done a podcast just on physiology and on some of the biohacking stuff, some of the hacks I use to regulate my nervous system and what I'm gonna share with you today is something that I never would have in a million years thought I would be sharing with people. But it's something that I do probably 5 to 7 days a week these days. And that is getting in a cold plunge. Now, I know there's kind of a steps up to cold plunging. I get in a, I actually have the cold plunge if you can get one of the cold And I think if you use my name you get some type of a discount and. It is one of the most effective things I've ever done to regulate my nervous system. Now, I'm aware that there is like this backlash against cold plunge. And I saw a meme the other day where a guy was holding a sign on a street and it said, you can cold plunge without telling everybody about it because it's become something that is like in people's stories on Instagram. It's something that people share. They talk about it on Facebook. But I think there's a reason because if you've ever tried this or if you ever start plunging, you start seeing a complete change in your own behavior.

Now, let me just share with you a little background on this pre-COVID. So like 2018 or 19. A friend of mine, Shane Saunders, and his wife Angie and their daughters came out from Australia and spent a day at our house. It was in the winter, so the pool in our backyard was probably at around 40 or 45 degrees. And Shane and I were talking and he's an incredible healer and breathwork instructor. And I worked with Shane personally for a couple of years, one on one for breath work, and I was in his breathing studio for a long time. Just an extraordinarily gifted instructor, coach and healer. And he suggested to me as we were talking and we were doing some body work and some stretching, he said, “You know, we should go do a cold plunge. Let's go to the backyard and you can jump in the pool and I'll be there with you and I can help you count through it.” And my immediate reaction was like, ‘No way’. I didn't realize this until that moment, but I had an extreme fear of getting in cold water and we went into the backyard. By the way, this is like probably unselling the cold plunge. But I'm going to get to the good parts in a minute. I just want you to know my personal experience in case you have any reservations about this or think it would be difficult. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I jumped in the water in the backyard. It was freezing cold and I had a meltdown. I started crying. I had this complete childhood response where I was crying and I was scared and my nervous system became disregulated. I started breathing really heavily and I remember trying to get out and Shane's like, “No stay in”. And you, like, put his hands on my shoulders and held me in the pool. Not, not like, held me but encouraged me to stay through physical touch. Wasn't like he shoved me down, kind of maybe a little bit of a shove. And I stayed in. And when he finally let me out, I'm like, “Shane, how many minutes was I in there?” And he goes, “Minutes” said, “You barely made it a minute”. He started laughing, and then I'm pretty sure he proceeded to jump in the pool and just hang out in there like nothing was happening for like 5 minutes. And I watched him and I realized how hard it was for me. And I'm like, ‘How did he do that?’ And I wish I could tell you. I went and did it the next day, but I didn't. I was so scared from that first time that I didn't cold plunge again for probably 3 to 6 months. But in the back of my mind it was bothering me. It was bothering me that I couldn't do it. It was bothering me because I had read of all the positive benefits, how it triples the dopamine you have in your body, how it calms the nervous system, how it changes things for you. And then Shane shared this phrase with me that he uses to describe both cold plunging and breath holds, breath holds are where you do some breath work, and then you blow all the breath out of your body and you hold it with no breath, which is incredibly hard. And he describes both as microdosing on the fear of death. And I remember him saying that and thinking like for some reason that compelled me. That made me want to do it again. That made me want to get back in to cold plunge. That made me want to get back in cold water. And so I finally started and it was still winter. And so I went to our backyard and I got in the pool and I'm like, ‘I can make it 10 seconds’. And I did it. I made it ten whole seconds. And then I jumped out and waited until the next day. And the next day I thought, ‘maybe I can make it 15 seconds’. And I did. And that progressed day after day where I went from 10 seconds to finally getting to a minute, to finally getting to a minute and a half. And something really intense happened. When I finally got to a minute and a half, my body let go. The tension in my body let go. I was able to breathe deeply. I could feel the fear and the anxiety and the emotions coming out of my body. And it was calming. And when I got out, I felt incredible. And then I started going from 90 seconds to 2 minutes. And very quickly I made it to 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes. And these days I do about 4 minutes a day. And if I have a little extra time, I'll go six or 8 minutes in 45 to 50 degree water.

And here's what happens every day when I get in the cold plunge in the morning. It's never easy. There's a voice in my mind trying to talk me out of it every single time, every time. I've been doing this for years now, and every time I get in the cold plunge, there's this voice that says, “You don't need to do this. You could take the day off. You can just go up and take a shower”. And I have to calm that voice, overcome that voice, that voice of hesitation, that voice of anxiety, that voice of procrastination. That voice that so many of us here, for so many different reasons, not just cold plunge. And I hear it all the time for all types of stuff. I have to calm that voice, overcome it, and get in the water. I set a timer and I jump in and the first thing I do is go underwater and I count to 20 with my head underwater. Of course, plugging my nose, because, man, if you ever get cold water up your nose, it is a pain like you've never felt before. And then I come out and I sit there and I do breathing exercises and I breathe really slowly in and out, or I do box breathing of breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds. And every time, every day, I've overcome that voice of anxiety. I've overcome that voice of procrastination. I've done one of the hardest things I'm going to do all day, every single morning. And by doing this consistently and habitually, here's what I've noticed in my life. I'm far less triggerable. I'm much more calm and in my body when something frustrates me. I can actually see the frustration. Understand what my reaction should be and approach it in a much more rational manner than I used to in the past. I now know that when I hear that voice of anxiety, that voice of procrastination, that voice of you don't need to do this now. I know I hear it all the time. And so these days I hear it, acknowledge it, and just keep moving on and do exactly what I need to do. I get stuff done so much faster now than I used to, and I used to be incredibly productive. That has become exponentially more productive now by doing this very hard thing every morning. And what I've also noticed is I can sit in discomfort in a way that I've never been able to do before. If I am in a meeting that's uncomfortable, if I'm in a place where something's somebody saying something that's uncomfortable for me, if there's something uncomfortable going on with my kids, I can observe that place of discomfort without having a reaction in a way that I've never been able to in the past. And I think it's due to a lot of the work that I've done. But I also think it's because on a daily basis, I put myself in a place where I'm microdosing on the fear of death. I'm getting into this incredibly cold water. I'm showing my nervous system that I can overcome it. I'm showing my conscious and subconscious mind that I can do an incredibly hard thing, survive and come out, and it feels incredible. If you've never done a cold plunge, cold shower is a great way to start and seeing how you feel before and after, because the exposure to cold water does so much for us as human beings. It triggers a nervous system response where we do eventually start to calm down. It releases stem cells. Cold shock therapy actually releases stem cells from our body. It gives us this boost that is good for longevity. It's good for our immune system, for our nervous system. It calms us down in a way that we probably can't really access in other any other way. And it's been this extraordinary strategy for me. And so I share this with you today, because if you've never tried it, I think you should check it out. And when the water in my pool started getting warmer, the year that I started doing this, I would go on my way home two or three days a week and buy a five or £10 bag of ice, throw it in the tub and do a cold plunge there. And then I did it so often and so frequently and started to experience so many benefits that I finally bought a permanent cold plunge. And it's in my backyard and that's what I use on a daily basis. And so know that you can walk before you run here. Know that starting with a cold shower is a great place to start, and working your way up and being able to do it in a way where you can remain in control in the face of adversity will allow you to, in your life, remain in control in the face of adversity. And as evolutionary hunters, as entrepreneurs, that's a place where we live. That's not a place where we experience every once in a while. That's who we are. We put ourselves in adversity. If we're not chasing some massive goal and have a ton of stuff going on and feel the energetics of all of those things, we don't feel like we're alive.

And so if we can improve our cognitive function, our thinking ability, our presence and awareness in a place where the average human being would check out, it improves everything we do. And cold plunging, cold water exposure has been a life changer for me. That's why I'm sharing it with you today. And if you're interested in getting more information that can help you grow as an evolutionary hunter. Join our Facebook group. I run a company called Simple Operations. You can go to Facebook and search Simple Operations: Operating Your Business Just Got Simple. And I share hacks like this and so much more in that group. And we would love to have you as a member. Take a minute now. Go to Facebook, look up the group, answer a couple of questions on the way in for my team. Yes, you have to answer those. We will approve you and we'd love to have you as part of the community.

Thank You For Listening!

I am truly grateful that you have chosen to spend your time listening to me and my podcast.

Please feel free to reach out if you have a question or feedback via our Contact Us page.

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With gratitude,


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