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Kasper van der Meulen on the Breath and Enhancing Your Life⎟Unbeatable Mind Podcast

Today Mark is talking to Kasper van der Meulen, renowned Dutch educator and scientist. Kasper has worked with Wim Hof and is the author of MindLift: Mental Fitness for the Modern Mind. Kasper overcame his own difficulties with weight and smoking to become a better role model for his students through breathing and fitness. Now he offers his Breathwork Masterclass and has been a speaker at the International Center for Breathwork Festival.

Hear how:
-Breath has to do with everything—once we grasp this, then we can be free
-Focusing on WHY you are optimizing your life rather than HOW is more effective
-Using the breath will allow you to unlock your intuition and develop spiritually

Listen to this episode to understand how you can use the breath to optimize your life and lead you to your path of purpose.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THIS VIDEO

hey folks this is mark devine with the

unbeatable mind podcast thanks so much

for joining me welcome back i hope

you’re doing well i’m recording this the

first week of january 2021 so

happy new year uh this probably won’t be

released for a few weeks so that may

sound like old news but boy tell you

what

getting through 2020 was quite a journey

for many of us so good job i know and

if you’re listening you’ve got an

unbeatable mind so you probably sailed

through

although if you’re like me also it

wasn’t without its

challenges and requiring us to really

really hunker down

into our practices and and go inward and

really

check in with what’s real and what’s not

so good job

and we’re going to continue that

discussion as per sop or standard

operating procedure today

with my guest casper van der meulen it’s

going to be an extremely

interesting show so just stay tuned

we’re going to talk about

all sorts of things around mental

training and breath work and

overcoming stress and you know really

going inward to transform your life

which

as you know is something i’m i believe

is incredibly important for all of us

uh having um said all that and before i

you know

bring casper on it really does help

us um podcasters to have reviews

and ratings and so if you haven’t

and you feel inspired please rate this

podcast at itunes

or wherever you listen to it

um it just helps other people find it

and unbeatable mind podcast is in the

top

ten it’s one of the top ranked podcasts

in health category on itunes so i’m

pretty humbled by that we have i think

over a thousand five star reviews so

it helps to keep on doing that because

that motivates me to keep on doing this

right it’s not it’s not easy it’s a lot

of work involved in podcasting for those

of you who do it you know

at any rate um i love it and i love

people talking to people

like casper and having a fun

conversation so casper

um casper is an author he’s an

adventurer

uh he is committed like me to helping

people unlock the power

of the breath and the mind uh casper

at one point in his life and i can’t

wait to hear the story in person was

overweight and burned out and unhappy

you know wow imagine that like most of

humanity seems to be like that

suddenly he turned himself around and

now he’s

teaching he’s teaching how to optimize

your life how to really ramp up and

and biohack but more importantly go deep

into the lifestyle

of you know of um

tapping your full potential as a human

being right this guy

has run and ultra marathons in his bare

feet like what what’s up with that

you know um he’s done a ton of stuff

and he like me has really gone deep on

the uh the esoteric side of it you know

the

the traditions that really have inspired

me like yoga and

and um the breath work of the of the

masters so we’re gonna and also he

worked for wim hof we’re collaborating

with wim hof for

many years so this guy knows his stuff

um

casper thanks for joining me today super

stoked to have you all the way from

holland

yes all the way from here happy to be on

here

yeah no i’m super stoked you made the

time and um how are things over there

these days and

are you uh locked down or you open up or

what’s this we’re a lockdown

we are locked down yes people are people

are on all kinds of sides of the fence

and i’m just i’m just trying to stay the

course

stay the court yeah right we can’t let

ourselves get too

drawn into the dramas right because that

could be extremely distracting

and kind of keeps on amping up the

stress meter

that’s for sure kind of fly the middle

path or just stay above it almost

and recognize that’s always there’s

always going to be some drama no matter

if it’s a pandemic or

you know some self-induced drama that we

create

that’s very true and i think this is

always

an important part of doing the inner

work which is recognizing what is inner

and what is outer what is my external

world

and and how is my inner world being

shaped in relation to the external world

and it seems that yeah right now people

are on a

let’s say like on a global generalizing

skill people are

more focused on the externals than i’ve

ever seen

um which to me is an incredible

opportunity to finally recognize

that turning inward and kind of

disentangling that

you know what is my circle of influence

and how is the how am i kind of at

effect of the world or how can i have an

effect on the world that those things

are really now

kind of open for researching within

ourselves sure finding our own truth

but i i honestly think that um people

have always been externally focused i

mean that’s generally the human

condition until you learn to look inward

it’s just that they haven’t been

externally focused on

at a cultural and systemic level so much

they’ve been doing it at more local

drama their their

family their disasters their business

disasters

but because the we’re so globally

connected now in the past

20 years and especially with social

media the past

five to ten and the news cycle is so

rapid and it’s become the vuca world

that everyone can’t ignore anymore now

they’ve expanded their scope of drama

yeah that’s absolutely right and also

the scope of drama is so

vastly fastly more like enormous

right than what we can then the part of

that that we can actually influence

right it seems incomprehensible and

completely out of control whereas

yeah people thought they could control

their family members they thought they

controlled their businesses

even though they were mistaken well it’s

an interesting you know if you look at

if you look at it evolutionary biology

biologically

we’re social animals right so if you

live in a small tribe of 150 people then

having gossip and being up and up in the

latest news and knowing everything that

goes on in your direct surroundings

everything that you then learn has to do

directly with you you know including the

weather and including

whatever which animals walking where and

which tracks your brother has seen or

you know whether the chief is okay with

his wife all of that is vital survival

information and we still have that same

brain

except now we don’t have 150 people

tribe

in like an enclosed area now we have the

entire world

and it’s a big challenge yeah and you

started to go

uh someplace where i think is really

important and i want to just

kind of talk about this a bit and then

when i get back into your life

is that because we’re so globally

connected we have kind of a new

a new wave of individuals and you know i

include us both in this and everyone’s

listening to my podcast and probably the

year training

and wim hof and whatnot who are starting

to think

you know what we can have a worldwide

impact

right i don’t have to be constrained in

my impact to my 150 person tribe or just

my family or or

or my business that’s just trying to

make profit

like through our actions through our

consciousness through our evolution of

our consciousness

we can have a global impact to move the

world into a more positive place to

counteract some of this negative and

fear and stress that’s going on

and to help heal the environment do you

see that or do you agree with absolutely

100 yeah this is something that

definitely keeps me going

i’m used to teaching i mean i haven’t

spent this much time not traveling and

teaching

well especially traveling in the last

five six years since i’ve been on this

path i’ve been traveling non-stop and

being in front of people but i mean the

last time i spent more than three months

not

teaching in front of an audience was

when i was like 17 you know so

to me it was like whoa what to do now

and i decided to just go all in on

teaching online and sharing as much as i

could and i could reach people and i get

still get daily messages of people who

are have been helped by my work and i

only have this tiny little pocket of

audience

um compared to a lot of people of course

you know and everybody this is so

amazing you know when we start to

optimize our own life and we start

sharing that

which is interestingly always the next

step that people take right as soon as

people realize

oh i can enhance my life i can optimize

my mind i can live in a better way

and the next step they usually take is

to want to start sharing that with the

world

right i think uh like people like you

and a lot of the people in our field

they’re really the modern heroes and

they all have

they’re in their own audience and our

audiences overlap and together we can

literally reach

people across i mean i had a guy from

new zealand who was like thank you so

much for putting your breathing session

online for free like

i’ve been listening listening to it when

i go to the supermarket because i was

too anxious to go out of my house and i

was like whoa

new zealand you know that’s awesome it’s

incredible yeah it’s it’s yeah i agree

i’m very optimistic

i have no idea how many countries of

people listen to the podcast

my podcast or or involved in what i do

it’s hard to know right i mean

yeah but i do know in our coach

certification program we already have

20 out of only we started it two years

ago

400 certified coaches now 27 countries

wow that’s pretty extraordinary my

friend brian johnson runs

optimize and he has a similar kind of

lifestyle optimization business

and his coach program i think has 46

countries involved

wow pretty extraordinary especially

considering that you know i don’t know

any other language besides english

unfortunate to say i know you europeans

generally kind of have a grasp on two or

three at least

i have a little grasp on spanish but

that’s not much use here

but everyone seems to be able to tap

into what we’re doing regardless of

where they are in the world because it

seems like

english has now become kind of the

default which is really nice

yeah absolutely for me anyways at any

rate so

enough on that let’s talk about you more

um

i mentioned in the intro that you know

you were um

you were not the way you are now for a

while

so tell us about your early your early

influences and and kind of what you were

doing and what was the inflection point

like what

what caught you out of your rut well

i was in pretty bad shape for many

phases of my life it was always ups and

downs but i i was struggling with

anxiety and like i was always the chubby

kid in the back of the classroom i

couldn’t sit still i couldn’t really

focus

um i had a lot of issues around panic

and worries and anxiety and

these types of things um but the turning

point was really when

i i think it was about seven or eight

years ago

i was working as a science teacher in a

school at the time and

i was mainly on a mission to improve the

education system

i was really very excited to be a

teacher um

i wasn’t really planning to be a teacher

but it kind of happened it’s another

long story but

kind of ended up in front of the

classroom i was working with these kids

and i was like

this is very interesting because they

don’t really know how to learn and

nobody’s really teaching them how to

learn isn’t it fascinating that

we have this amazing machine that is our

brain

and we don’t really know how to operate

it and even though and i was

as a teacher i was thinking it’s strange

to me at least that as a teacher as an

educator of any sorts you’re

basically a brain programmer but we

don’t

really learn how brains work as teachers

most teachers have no idea how a brain

works

and being a science teacher i decided to

take a more scientific route and be like

okay so what is known

about how the brain learns and how we

can improve

not just the effectiveness of teaching

and learning but also the joy in this

and then i found that actually

increasing the joy and the fun in

learning

and the creativity actually improves the

effectiveness now the reason i’m saying

this is because

i took this approach to the process in

the classroom

but i wasn’t really taking it towards my

own life because i was really taking

this seriously i was overworking myself

i was taking on way too much i was i was

on the verge of

my first burnout i was in very bad shape

i was about 80 pounds heavier than i am

now i smoked a lot i drank

and it was a it was a time where i just

couldn’t i couldn’t even bear to spend

one minute alone with my own mind i

i would literally be you know in bed

with a tv on

and i would try to like almost fall

asleep and then at last minute like

switch it off and fall asleep so i

didn’t

listening to my own mental chatter right

and wow

yeah and what was really an important uh

point for me is that i realized that

these kids they were looking up to me

and i was getting a lot of popularity as

a teacher at the time because i really

cared about their experience in my

classroom and i wanted them to have fun

and i was doing all sorts of cool

experiments with them

and i wanted to really find ways to

improve um

the education system at large but i

realized i have to start in my own

classroom

and a switch really happened when i

realized that i was in a process of

using

scientific concepts and data and studies

to create little experiments with my

students so for example i would realize

oh they have a harder time listening

sitting still so when when they have to

listen for more than 20 minutes and

they’re sitting still they can’t focus

and you get these behavioral problems so

what if i just

set a timer and i started working with

something very similar to like the

pomodoro technique for example

and then after 15 minutes the timing

would ring and we’d all have to get up

and walk around the classroom and get

the blood flowing

and then they would sit down and their

focus was back so i started to get this

perspective of wait we need to

incorporate the body

we need to understand physiology and

from physiology we can create little

experiments and interventions

that improve our mental state and that

was kind of the

the the thing that i was in and i

started to realize that i had no idea

how to

apply that to my own mind and

these kids were looking up to me and i

started to realize that

is actually my first responsibility

should be to get my own health in check

to get my own mind in check

and from there to start being a role

model also

in terms of how i appear in front of the

classroom how i keep my own mind right

how i do my own lifestyle

so that was really a turning point to

make it a step bigger than myself

you know i love that because a lot of we

we have that kind of a

wake-up call with a lot of the leaders

that we coach

is that if you want to have any you know

long-term effectiveness and

and expand your capacity as a leader

you’ve got to lead yourself first

yeah right because eventually either you

burn out or people will start to see

that you

lack the overall integrity you’re trying

to you’re saying one thing and you’re

doing

another thing so absolutely you got to

work on yourself while you work

on your students or with your students

yeah that’s a sea change for a lot of

people because you go from

you know that externally focused i mean

this to do this for other people and a

lot of people

even in in service and philanthropy

they’re all doing it for other people

and then

you know their own life is a bag of

you know

yeah and also if you it’s me and we we

got to take care of ourselves in order

to take care of others

exactly and the more you the more you

have in terms of energy and passion the

more you can actually give and a lot of

people

sacrifice their own energy and then they

can’t give any more yeah

that’s fascinating so you started to

experiment you first started

experimenting with the kids

and then you you started to turn the

lens back on yourself so

what did you do like what were the some

of the strategy you used to

to turn your own mind around well the

one of the first things when i was

really in a rut and i was really

depressed

and i i couldn’t bear being around my

own thoughts for

a second was i started getting into uh

into meditation and i actually learned

it first through

self-hypnosis i went to a hypnotherapist

and i learned all these mental

techniques to kind of

dissect within my own mind what are

these thoughts and to get a little bit

of distance and

um these mind-focused techniques were

really helpful to me

but the the the biggest shift really

came when i started to

uh understand my physiology more and to

really look at it at

at the state of mind from a

physiological perspective

so i saw for example a lot of kids with

anxiety and with stress and i was like

well i know these problems

and i could recognize them in them

because they were literally

hyperventilating in front of my

classroom right

and i was like wait i’ve been i’ve been

struggling with these issues my whole

life

i know how they work you know i stud i

study to be a biology teacher i teach

science i know

how catecholamines work but i’ve never

learned to apply

physiology and biological understanding

to lifestyle interventions i was like

why didn’t why didn’t i ever do that

so for example one experiment i ran with

my students is i realized they’re

they’re in the sympathetic nervous

system they’re stressed they’ve got you

know adrenaline

cortisol pumping and i read this study

that said that you know

um mammals humans when we see baby

mammals we have

a release of a chemical called oxytocin

and it calms us down and it down

regulates us out of the sympathetic

nervous system so i was like wait that’s

interesting

so i started for example to um if my

these kids would have to make a physics

test for example they’d come in and have

this

projector screen in the classroom and i

would have this uh compilation on

youtube of cute kittens and cute puppies

playing on the screen i thought you were

going to say you brought some kittens in

but

i wish i wish that would be that would

be amazing and but the first assignment

would literally be stare at these

kittens until you

relax and then we’d go ah oh these cute

and i could see like

now i know i could see their vagus nerve

stimulating basically activating

and they would calm down and later on i

found a study that said hey if you slow

down your breath

um you will stimulate the vagus nerve

and calm yourself out of these stressful

states

right so these are some of the ways that

i started looking at it

and i had done a bunch of diets before i

had

a bunch of different meditation

techniques um i tried to get into

working out and

and losing weight but the whole time it

was still me

really forcing myself into those things

instead of really understanding how they

work

so as soon as i started understanding

how they worked and i realized that my

body was chronically

stuck in a sympathetic nervous system

mode in a fight flight state

then i could start to more specifically

pinpoint

things that would move me out of that

state and bring me back and funnily

enough

it had to do with um basically

overloading my sympathetic

system with intense challenges like for

example you know i started running i

wanted to

run barefoot i set myself a challenge to

run a barefoot marathon on an empty

stomach

and i was like all right so that means i

need to retrain my feet

i need to start i need to start working

with fasting with intermittent fasting

and i did a lot of cold training also

you know ice baths and cold showers and

i started to really

look at the my nervous system as almost

like

a graph you know every day i would look

at the graph of my nervous system and be

like when did i move

up when did i move down what moved me

there what what could move me back

so um a lot of things that people would

consider extreme like taking ice baths

like

doing longer fasts uh i tried a lot of

different

diets um and different meditation

techniques

and out of all of that i found that the

the common thread

within all of that was basically the

breath that the breath

whatever you do whatever change is

happening in your

external environment your internal

environment needs to adapt to that

this is what resilience really is and my

issues were really a lack of resilience

a lack of adaptability to external

circumstances

and the first thing that needs to adapt

and this is what i always say is the

breath the breath

is the first responder of the nervous

system so as soon as input comes into

the system from the outside

and you need to either increase or

decrease metabolism you need to either

become more active or more calm you need

to be more alert

all of these things they start with a

change at a cellular level

so a metabolic change and that metabolic

change is

provided uh uh if by the breath

so this is really kind of like my path

of trying all these different things and

then realizing

that there are core principles at the at

the source of all of these changes and

all of these lifestyle things and if we

can understand those

then we can be free in our choices yeah

i agree with that that’s really

interesting

although i wouldn’t think the breath has

much to do with running barefoot

well it’s definitely it does have to do

with the cold bath right because you

know

cold showers in the end breath has to do

with with just about anything i mean

that

the bare feet was more to add an extra

layer of challenge and also to be more

immersed in the experience right you

know i can see that when i walk in the

beach we walk barefoot i walk barefoot

quite a bit and but i do

i live in san diego so it’s a little bit

easier for me to do that

that’s beautiful so um

you went through this huge phase of

experimentation now can you

can we get into kind of what you

distilled or kind of settled on

as some best practices for things like

and i’m going to draw from my own

languaging here

because as you alluded to breath can

create all sorts of both physiological

and psychological state changes

as well as long-term breath practices

can lead to

stage changes in terms of who you think

you are like developmentally

conscious conscious awareness like

shifts

so what are some of you know let’s start

out with like

mark one motto what i learned in the

navy seals around concentration you know

learning to really

control our attention and stay

concentrated on our mission

until we’re like done period you know

home safe that is a technique or a skill

that i learned

ad nauseam first through zen my zen

training and then you know basically in

the navy seals

how you know what is your best practices

around that because that’s

something you already alluded to you had

to get good with kids on

right yeah so um

focus and staying

on track is very much about limiting all

the other options

so to have a very very clear place where

you want to put your

attention attention is a mental state a

mental function

that or i should say focus like focusing

your attention as a mental function is

very expensive it costs a lot of energy

in the prefrontal lobe

right so we need something to allow us

to stay

with that and as soon as something else

comes in that might be more interesting

or more dangerous or more

you know it distracts you then it takes

a lot of energy to stay with this one

thing

um so the mind has this tendency to move

ahead or to move back or to move to all

these different places

so we need to have something that

anchors us in in

the here and now in the present and of

course all the esoteric practices are

focused on being in the present

now very practically i have found that

lengthening so consciously lengthening

and exhale

is the most powerful way to maintain

focus so to really just

have the inhale in any way you want

because the inhale is more of a

sympathetic function

and then lengthening the exhale for

maybe 10 seconds maybe 20 seconds

depending on the situation that you’re

in

so as and this is the same thing for

like running that marathon

marathon or taking on challenges as soon

as i would lose

the control or the consciousness of what

my ex hill was doing

i would generally lose focus and i would

get you know sidetracked

so i think that being able to

consciously

and there’s a lot of research to this

and the yogis have described this at

length

of course also um controlling your

exhale that’s really where the window of

opportunity really lies to keep your

your concentration your attention with

whatever it is that you need to do

i love that that synchronizes 100 with

um

some of our teaching around breath

control being the first

and and kind of master practice right

yes

that leads your mind and your body leads

your body toward de-stressing and toward

you know ultimate balance homeostatic

balance but it leads your mind toward

that

kind of focused but also calm state

because you can be focused and agitated

and you’ll have less energy over the

long haul

but if you can be focused and calm

then you just keep on regenerating your

energy and this is how

running an ultra marathon becomes

somewhat easy once you kind of get this

right because this is one foot in front

of the other inhale

slow exhale yes and you’re just

regenerating while you’re going right

because you’re maintaining that stress

response

parasympathetic that’s absolutely i love

that and now we

i like the the mother’s breath that that

nice slow exhale is a beautiful breath

to bleed off stress and i’ve never

thought of it as a way to

maintain concentration but that i could

definitely see that working really well

we use the breath hold practice of box

breathing

where are you concentrating on the whole

pattern all four all four

patterns inhale hold exhale and hold and

that seems to work really well for us as

well

that’s amazing so you talked about

presence right and the the minds of you

know propensity to skip

to the future skip to the past and i

honestly don’t think

many people in the world are truly

present

you know the way we would understand you

know like the taoist or the

the you know the yogis would talk about

presence

how do you maintain presence and

and how do you teach that i think

presence is a constant

practice it is really

recognizing when you’re out of it as

often as possible and then kindly

lovingly

lovingly bringing yourself back to it

there’s

in the modern world there’s so many

things that move us out of it

and especially now you know like we

talked about in the beginning of people

being so concerned with all the external

opinions and influences and and changes

and all of this stuff that

it’s so easy to not be present with

yourself

at all and for me presence is very much

about

building a practice of which i know that

is going to allow

me to be more present and the funny

thing is well at least to me

allowing is a really important word

there because

i’ve i’ve tried for years and years

to because i understood the concept i

was like yes i’m anxious you know and

i’m worried

and i’m depressed and that is me not

living in the present moment

and then there’s this this this present

moment on the other side that apparently

i have to get to and then i would use

this anxious worried mind to push myself

towards the present which is this

game that costs so much energy you can

and you can play it your whole life it

doesn’t work

so instead of making it happen i was

i i’ve learned to focus more on allowing

it to happen

letting it happen and letting it happen

really is first of all about

circumstances so the question is which

circumstances do you build into your

life

and how do they either allow you or

disallow you to be present so

for example very very basic things very

simple things that are that are

you know difficult uh on a day-to-day is

for example not

looking at my screens and my social

media or anything the first two hours of

the day in the last two hours of the day

to know

that i start and end the day with my own

mind on my

terms this is such an important thing

especially

if you like you know like me like us

work in social media because that’s

where you

you reach your audience you know and

there’s always another question and

there’s always something else to do

so really um having a way to start the

day where you know

this is going to allow my attention to

be there with me

another one is to understand uh the

physiological state

that allows for presence of being if you

are

more at rest so if you’re metabolically

more close to a homeostatic

rest right so you’re which basically

means that you’re comfortable you know

you’re at a place where

your your body knows it is safe there’s

this internal perception of safety

then it’s much more easy to be present

so presence can actually be pointed at

as a nervous system

state when your parasympathetic chain is

active it is far

easier to be present and as soon as a

hint of danger or unsafety comes in

you start to you know look in the

corners of your eyes and and

seek for a way out or see what is the

next threat and

this is a physiological state and this

is in my teachings a very important key

key thing that yes we have top down

regulation which means we can take our

mind

and we can will our body into a

different state however

the body is usually more powerful

because it’s uh you know the larger part

of our

autopilot is made out of the body so if

we can bring

the body into a state of calmness

of safety then we can bring our mind to

presence and this is why box breathing

like you just said is such an amazing

example

this is you know the people who

developed this they clearly understood

that in those cases that these

operatives would need to calm their mind

we can give them all kinds of things to

think about we can give them

affirmations we can give them stuff to

say to themselves

or we can calm their breath which

gives an immediate perception of safety

in the body okay

the switch from being out of control of

breath to in control of breath is a

switch to

being completely out of control which is

unsafe and

much more too much more feeling much

more safe

now as soon as there’s this internal

perception of safety it is much more

easy to be like

okay what’s going on here you know

um where does my attention really need

to go

to observe yourself in a certain moment

so breath again is a very important one

getting the right amount of amounts of

sleep getting the right amounts of

movement you know these are

really physical things uh the kind the

right kind of food these types of things

very very physiological based

interventions that allow you to be there

but it’s only if you can really decide

to

take control over the circumstances and

again you can’t take control over the

circumstances of the world

you can’t decide you can’t control the

political situation

this virus situation what you can

control is your direct environment and

whether or not you’re going to look at

your screen

at all of this external information

right one of the things that’s coming up

with me now which i think is

again simple but not easy but it’s

profound if

people can get this is that most people

when they begin to think about oh i’ve

got to get my

control of my life they will they will

think about

things like exercise and nutrition and

sleep

and all the all the biohacking and

as you’re aware that there is some

efficacy in that

but if you could flip it right and think

about

regulating your breath beginning to

practice breath control

and to begin to eradicate the negative

patterns

you know so through mindfulness that are

causing you or preventing you

from feeling worthy or feeling good

enough that going to the gym and

not putting that extra cookie in your

mouth and staying up you know to watch

that extra movie because you just

like you said you just can’t stand being

with yourself you actually start

from the inside out then you’ll have

much more effective time you’ll be led

automatically

to change those exteriors and so then

they work together

and it’s a much quicker process it’s an

acceleration of your

absolutely because it’s more integrated

it’s it’s yeah and it comes from within

and i really i really like that you said

that because

it this is really also about the why of

these things you know if you are living

in a life where uh for example you have

a corporate job that is really like

sucking your soul i’m not saying all

corporate jobs are like this but i meet

a lot of people who are i’ve been there

yeah exactly and i mean i work with so

many like elite professionals and ceos

and people climbing the ladder

and they’re asking me to help them you

know hack their energy levels and their

focus and improve their sleep and

they’re like i’m anxious and all these

things and i go like well i could take

you through this whole program

of getting the optimal nutrition and the

optimal breathing practice and the

optimal movement all this stuff

but if you’re only and the question is

why are you doing it

what are you optimizing your life for if

you are only doing it

to be able to perform within for example

a corporate system that is toxic to you

and it makes you unhappy

or you work for a corporation that does

something that doesn’t add anything of

value

to your to the way that you want to see

the world for example and you don’t

really believe in what you’re doing

then all of that optimization is only

going to make you incrementally better

well it’s going to make you better for

sure but it’s going to make you better

at something that makes you miserable

so you’re going to end up with you know

in the same spot later on

i love that we call that horizontal

development where you get better at

the skills you already have but it

doesn’t change who you are

exactly yeah so that’s okay but what we

want is vertical development where you

are you’re

asking better questions and you’re

getting better answers so your why

shifts and it becomes a

much more inclusive why and when people

have those paradigm shifts those

transcendent include moments

oftentimes they’re like well i don’t i’m

not even sure why i’m in this

this you know it’s like that song this

is not my beautiful wife this is not my

beautiful car or home like what am i

doing here why am i doing this

so we want to shift and change ourselves

while we become more effective

at also doing the things that we need to

do yes

that’s powerful so that’s kind of

alluding

to or kind of pointing me toward one of

my favorite topics is

um using breath to really

unlock intuition and to develop

spiritually because when we’re talking

about your why we’re talking about

you know like krishna and arjuna’s

conversation on the battlefield like

why are we doing this you have you know

arjuna questioning his life

that’s spirituality to me you know it’s

like getting clear about why we’re on

this planet

what our karmic energy is what our

dharma or what our calling is

it is nothing to do with you know i mean

spiritual energy can be enhanced and

maybe

enlightened through reading scripture

and going to church and all these things

but it’s really ultimately the

internally being able to answer those

questions with clarity

right and so how do we use the breath to

open up our intuition and to develop

spiritually from your perspective oh

that’s such a good question

yeah i love this topic because it’s so

fascinating

um first of all

not being connected to purpose not being

connected to spirit

is in a way a function of the mind so as

we are born and i see this

in my own daughter you know we we are

born into this world as a buddha you

know

and we’re enlightened and we’re present

and and we don’t even need a purpose yet

because life is just living

right at some point we develop layers

and these are layers of protection

which are completely functional for a

very large part of our life

and these layers are usually behavioral

layers that that are very much

in the mind so we have an experience we

interpret that experience from that

interpretation we draw a conclusion

about who we are who we need to be in

the world

you know for example you it starts very

simple right it’s like you’re a kid and

you throw something and it falls and

then it breaks and it makes you sad and

then you go like oh i shouldn’t do that

or

or you throw something and it falls and

it breaks and your dad gets upset and go

like oh

apparently i can make that upset i

shouldn’t do that or or you throw it and

it falls and dad gets upset and you go

like hey i can control dad’s emotions

and

that’s interesting right so whatever way

you have experiences and you interpret

them

and based on that you decide how to

interact with the world

so if you’re if you’re very young and

for example you learn that

your parents are fighting and if you’re

super happy and jolly and

and and perfect then your parents are

you know are a bit more balanced and you

feel like oh so who i am in this world

is i need to be the person that

sacrifices themselves for the harmony

for the people you become a pleaser

other people learn to you know get into

the fight or actually like try to always

have to win in order to

show that they are alive or that they

are worthy

so basically we condition ourselves we

build conditioning

that gives us a sense of safety

but that fundamentally moves us away

from

our truest deepest inner truth and inner

feeling

so we get this disconnect through um

conditioning

and this disconnect is from that that

feeling of purpose and its spirituality

now this is of course been written about

in all the ancient scriptures and modern

psychology all of these things but how

does

this interact with breath work well

right our mind

tries to control so our conscious mind

our cognitive thinking

tries to control as many variables as

possible in order to keep the old

survival systems

in check when we do intense

breath work so this means for example

superventilative practices

where you do very intense breathing

there yeah the and the moth method there

has different protocols for that there’s

holotropic breathing transformational

rebirth well there’s

so many amazing methods for this we

start to increase our breathing pace

which means that we offload a lot of co2

when we offload co2 we get

vasoconstriction in the extremities

but also in our brain now as soon as

what also happens is we’re going

as soon as you start to speed up the

breath the

body and the brain they kind of assume

that there is

a reason to go into fight and flight

right so if you

have to whatever run a bit run away for

a threat you’re going to fight in flight

and you start to breathe heavy but it

also works the other way around you

start to breathe heavy

your body goes into this heightened

state so what we’re now

having is a cocktail of effects where we

have basically

vasoconstriction we have less oxygen

going to the prefrontal lobe which is

our thinker

which means that our thinking brain our

logical thinking brain

has to kind of calm down a little bit

because it’s the most

expensive function so our mind becomes

more quiet

and because we have triggered the

sympathetic nervous system our

autonomic nervous system needs to come

become active and we’re

for example working with the fear system

which is part of our limbic system which

is our emotional brain so

consider that we have this cognitive

thinking brain

our rational mind costs a lot of energy

and it almost sits on top

of this emotional brain and it tries to

suppress it so our inhibitions live in

our

conscious mind so with our conscious

mind we try to control life i’m this

person and i identify with this and i

need to do this in order to be good

enough

and then we do breath work and suddenly

that function of your brain starts to

come down a few notches

and then the other things that are also

living inside of you that you usually

don’t allow yourself to feel that you

don’t allow yourself to experience like

for example

heavy emotions sadness you know grief

anger or even

memories of very intense moments that

happened

in your childhood life that you

associate with this safety

those things are certainly more capable

of coming to the surface but also

releasing if you do this in a safe

setting and you’re being facilitated and

you feel safe to finally allow those

emotions to flow

then you can get that conscious mind out

of the way not fully out of the way of

course but i’m kind of like trying to

say it as simple as possible um and

those emotions can flow and when these

emotions flow

we are getting back in touch with our

emotion which means we’re

with our heart right our emotional heart

we’re having moments of healing we have

a moment of transcendence

to give that a practical definition we

transcend so we lift

up from our normal day-to-day thinking

because we enter a different state of

consciousness

through this process and in that state

we can release the emotions that we’ve

been pushing down and then finally we

can actually start to listen

to our intuitive self without being

afraid of listening to our heart and

suddenly have to feel like

you know sad or have to feel grief or

have these memories come up because you

know

you can actually release them and and

deload them from your system

and if we do that more often we can

start to trust more and more that if we

check in with ourselves we center

ourselves

we check in with our heart we check in

with our emotional state we

really tune into what we feel and then

we can ask wait is this thought that i’m

having

is that really the most important thing

to me or is this core

heart and gut feeling that i’m having is

that’s what’s most important to me

and i think that really leads us to

becoming more intuitive and more

spiritually aligned

i agree well said i love that

description

and with our training we do something

called a breath empowerment which is

it’s you know similar to what we’re

talking about um

and it’s about 45 minutes long and three

sets and

we’re always you know the experiences

that you’re talking about always happen

you know it’s it’s like magic you

you the breath just does not fail to

deliver every single time

absolutely and everyone like you know i

i’ve run them these many times but i

love to have my

tai chi master will potter is just

magical at running them just something

about the energy that it brings and

so everyone thinks oh well you’re

amazing and will’s like

i didn’t do anything exactly you know

it’s the breath

and so emotional we tend to see um

people first having physiological

reactions twitching and

you know all sorts of weird

happening

and then they have the um the emotional

kind of response

you know the tearing up and you know and

then

they start to have the intuitive and

spiritual

and so this can happen in one setting

like

kind of in that order right because my

sense is

you know a lot of people have to kind of

get through the physical layer you know

like think about that

like a kosha’s thing you know from the

yoga tradition go through that physical

mental layer to get into that emotional

air then

once you kind of get through that

stuckness

then you have access to that intuitive

and a spiritual messaging

or it can happen kind of in that

general progression over time right so

if you start a

a practice like this you know first

you’re going to experience it physically

and you’ll feel different and then

you’re going to start opening up all the

emotions

and then starting to recognize your

emotional life and the you know

the patterns and the trauma and the

shadow and then once you start to deal

with that then

you start to experience and so it

follows a similar path to um

to like a meditative process if you’re

stick with it

like my experience with zen i stuck with

it for four years before i went in the

seals and i went through a very similar

process

first it was experienced physically then

emotionally and then intuitively and

spiritually

i’m just kind of like piling on top of

what you said i don’t know if i have a

question here but

what a question that’s always come up

with me with regards to

this work is a lot of people say after

these breath work sessions

gosh you know do you have a tape because

i want to do this every day

and my my warning is always don’t do

this every day

right this is too it’s too intense right

so you’re not really

ready for it this is kind of like maybe

the kundalini world has

driven a few westerners crazy because

kundalini is

super intense breathing and and if your

mind isn’t ready for you’re moving too

much

energy right do you agree it’s like i

don’t think these practices are meant to

be done every day once a week you

probably get away with

once uh every other week even or maybe

maybe if you’re a healthy individual and

you’ve been training physically and

you’ve got a

strong uh strong

um egoic structures let’s say it that

way

if you’ve got strong egoic structures

it’s much safer if you have attachment

disorder and

serious childhood trauma that you’ve

masked over then this breath work this

intense breath work can be extremely

dangerous for some people

yeah it should only be done under good

guidance and every now and then

i i am i train a lot of breath coaches

a lot of people that have been breath

coaches for a very long time and they

want to they want to work from a

deeper level of mastery that’s really

where where my main field is

and uh i always have to remind them stop

chasing the high

yeah don’t chase the highest that’s

right i think if people have this one

moment of like

wow oh my god yeah they have a

breakthrough peak experience and they

work exactly

every time right and and and then they

want to have that every day but the

question is how do you take that moment

and how do you integrate that in your

daily life

because you know people feel that same

way after having a near-death experience

for example but i wouldn’t

want that every day because we’re

basically creating a physiological near

death through this breathing practice

now i’ve i’ve been able to

i’ve been really nerding out on exactly

what happens in the nervous system with

these different breathing

patterns and i’ve been able to get

people to that state quicker and quicker

and understanding how

how to get them there but even then even

if it’s a 20 minute practice still

it’s something that’s very intense and

people really want to

skip to that feeling that they have

afterwards where they’re like now

everything makes sense

but you can’t always live there it’s

kind of like that thing of like

you know before enlightenment chop would

carry water take out the trash

exactly so my very important principle

for me

is minimum effective dose so if you look

at you have this

breathing practice you have this

tremendous awareness then you need to

come into meditation and preferably in a

guided setting with somebody who can

integrate and help you

find locate literally that feeling of

elation that feeling of safety of

of of transcendence find that somewhere

in yourself

in your body and then create anchors in

order to get

to that feeling without having to do the

extreme

uh breath work to get there and even

just with a few breaths

you can start to anchor yourself into

that state and remind yourself

of that moment without having to

necessarily do the entire practice every

single time

because the the whole idea is to take

less and less work less and less effort

less and less breathing to get to that

same spot so the first time

you needed you know 45 minutes and a

whole lifetime of trauma processing to

get there

but what if you could get there within

two breaths a year from now

right and eventually we want to let go

of

all the practices yes and just live in

that state

and that’s absolutely you know what the

tr you know the traditions teach is that

eventually you want to like let go of

the crutch of having to do this practice

and then that practice and this practice

and that practice you know as westerners

we think the practice is the thing but

it’s ultimately just a it’s a pointing

it’s a pointing mechanism

that’s that’s such an important thing

i’m happy you said that because when i

started out on this path i needed so

much practice to even get through the

day without being depressed or without

eating junk food all day or like without

smoking cigarettes so

i was literally like every second of the

day i had some kind of thing

some kind of anchor something like a

breathing practice and a workout and a

mental training and an affirmation i’m a

whole house full of affirmations

and i know what you’re talking about

yeah you described my life for many

years

exactly and it’s and it’s an important

phase i mean i’m not condescending to it

at all right you’ve got to go through

that you know very few people there has

to be a point here and then it becomes

your autopilot

and it becomes more automatic and now

people ask me like hey how many like how

many hours do you practice breath and

meditation

per day and i go like well barely

anything if i wake up and i can do a

two-minute

like meditative self-check-in and i can

see where my breath is and i can feel my

heart rate variability and i can feel

connected to my purpose

i’m not going to spend any time on my

meditation cushion i’m going to i’m

going to do my work because i’m on my

i’m on my sacred path of purpose in life

so

i can spend on that exactly yeah totally

i love that

we could go on like this for hours

especially now that we’re kind of

heading into the really cool stuff but

um

we’ve already been going for about 45

minutes uh i do want to talk about your

um you mentioned to me you put well let

me back up

both of us participated in my our friend

mutual friend dan burleigh’s um

breathing festival right and so i wanna

and

and that was neat and i really enjoyed

doing that it’s such an important

subject and it’s super i don’t even know

if it’s

if they’re charging for this thing i

think it’s free isn’t it or are they

charging just

now they’re charging but it’s it’s not

much it’s it’s barely anything compared

to

right it’s like 100 bucks or something

and you get some amazing

breathing instruction from like 20 or 30

of

the world’s most phenomenal you know

breath teachers including you casper i’m

in there dancing there

i don’t know if wim hof ended up doing

it but tons of others

this is how you and i met and i wanted

to um

point that out to listeners that um

this is it’s it’s it’s basically doled

out to you where you can kind of like

listen to it

asynchronously you don’t have to like

sign up and do

you know take a weekend out of your life

or anything like that so i think it was

great the way they put it together

um the the link to it will be on the

show notes

uh in the podcast but if you don’t end

up

seeing that and you have a good memory

it’s https you know because it’s a

secret protocol

colon you know double backslash anyways

but the main url is

the c f b

the i c f b i the international

conference for breathing is that what

that stands for breathing festival yeah

i see fps breathing festival yeah

the the international conference for

breathing festival something like

that.com

and then my uh particular url

has a slash six eight slash festival

and i’m sure uh you probably have your

own url but

i put that out because it’s my podcast

of course the

six icfb.com slash festival and you can

check that out but then um

casper you are have created a new uh

breathing certification for coaches i’m

actually really interested in that

personally

tell us about that and and where we can

learn more about that yeah so it’s

called breathwork masterclass

and i it started out as just a five-day

masterclass where i was like i can

easily i can just teach everything i

know in five days and that’ll be it and

then i realized i need more education

because there’s so much going on

um so yeah i’ve got three levels the

first one is called breathwork biohacker

it’s an online course so especially now

in kofi times everybody’s more

interested in breathing and really

understanding what it’s about

and it’s a super extensive online

masterclass and then i have some events

where we do some pretty cutting-edge

stuff we actually go and we dissect

actual lungs from animals we look into

the tissue we use microscopes and

scalpels and we dissect hearts and we

really get into the tissues

really try to bring together the most

innovative teaching practices that i

could find we work with

micro dosing psilocybin for example in

combination with breath work

um interesting nootropic supplements and

we’re really

you don’t do that online do you do that

part no we don’t do that online

mushroom cutting into sheep lungs we do

that here in the netherlands where

everything is very legal

and um yeah and and we have these events

that are so we do all this really cool

stuff on a professional level but also a

really deep

personal breakthrough is where i teach

people how to so

it’s really principle based which means

that in my

way of working the same core principles

that are fairly

simple to understand can allow you to

coach

a top-level ceo to have less anxiety it

can allow you to coach a

olympic athlete to perform better on the

field it can allow you to

give some help somebody have this

transcended emotional

breakthrough it’s all based on the same

principles so we don’t focus on any

specific method or technique but really

at the core of how does this work and

how can we help people a step beyond so

this is this is my biggest

project now very excited about it and uh

it’s launching this month

uh it’s it’s we’ve been doing it for a

while but it’s we’ve now really put it

into

into the proper shape and form that it

needs to be

awesome so if anybody wants to check

that out you can check out

breadthworkmasterclass.com

or if you um want to check out some of

my i have some free

online breathing sessions also that

people can just follow um

and you can find it actually find me on

instagram is the easiest at casper’s

focus casper with a k

k a s b e r s u

and a link in my bio you can find uh all

kinds of cool free

resources to get started on nice

well i appreciate that so

breathworkmasterclass.com i’m gonna

check that out myself this sounds fun i

would love to come over and play with um

some of your dissection and getting

under you know

looking inside a heart i remember we did

a dissected cadaver as part of my it

wasn’t

part of the seal curriculum but one of

our

instructors was fascinated and was you

know slated to go to med school and so

he ended up arranging for us to go to

the core wow

it was fascinating it’s um not for the

faint of heart that’s for sure

it is not winner casper thanks so much

for your time

and for doing this um valuable work like

it’s really important

that everybody listening you know get

control of your breath

and begin to turn inward and to be the

change you want to see in the world and

then to

let that just let that naturally ripple

out into everyone you touch and

she’s you know one person at a time

right

we’ll surely start to slow down the

rattle and hum of this world

absolutely make it less vuca so i

appreciate what you’re doing and

if you’re ever over in the united states

i’m in san diego let’s let’s arrange a

get together and do some breathing

together

i’ll be back there soon absolutely thank

you thank you for your time and for your

awesome work

yeah thank you very much julia all right

folks

that’s that’s fascinating huh so

casper uh vander muellen go check it out

his

instagram please say your instagram

again casper’s focus

casper’s plural focus yeah got it

casper’s

at casper’s focus um

the breathworkmasterclass.com

that’ll be launched by the time i think

by the time this podcast

is uh live for sure yes awesome

it’s important stuff what a fun

conversation thanks very much again

thank you all right folks that’s it

that’s a wrap for today so

take a few deep breaths inhale five

count exhale 10

let that be your concentration practice

and let’s give it uh

let’s give that 30 days let’s give it a

try and uh let’s let’s prove casper

correct that that in itself can be a

path to mastery

and until next time stay focused and be

unbeatable

this is mark devine

 

Written by kasper

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