Mental, Physical, Emotional, And Spiritual Healing Using Natural Alternatives With Michael Roviello

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

 

There is a lot more to recovery than just going to inpatient treatment, seeing a therapist, and going to 12-step meetings. While these things are important, you also need to find long-term solutions that can help you recover and continue living a happy, joyous, and free life. You need not only cut out bad habits from your life, but you also need to form healthy ones in turn. Bringing someone who can help you out on this new path, Tim Westbrook sits down with Michael Roviello, the co-founder of Optimyze, which is the only human optimization center in Phoenix designed to align your mind, body, and breath with the four elements of nature. Here, they talk about mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness using natural methods, including red light therapy, breadboard breathwork, and cold water therapy. What is more, Michael also shares his journey with pain and medications that later on took him to the Amazon jungle exploring healing modalities used by indigenous people to explore the mind-body and spirit with great results. He then founded the Wim Hof Method using cold water, breathing exercises, and a change in his mindset as a tool for self-healing and a deeper understanding of self. Join in on this insightful and jam-packed conversation to learn more about the importance of holistically working on yourself for long-term recovery. 

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Mental, Physical, Emotional, And Spiritual Healing Using Natural Alternatives With Michael Roviello 

My team and I, over the course of many years, have helped thousands of people on their path to recovery. We started this show because there’s so much misinformation about addiction treatment, mental illness, and recovery in general. There’s so much more to recovery than going to inpatient treatment, seeing a therapist, and going to twelve-step meetings. Those things are important and AA saved my life. However, to find long-term recovery and live happy, joyous and free, there’s a lot more to it than stopping the drinking, drugs or any addictive behavior. To live a new life, a person needs to develop new healthy lifestyle habits. Taking care of the mind, body, and spirit are crucial aspects to the recovery process as well.  

I’m here with Michael Roviello. Michael is the co-founder of Phoenix’s only human optimization center to align your mind, body and breath or elements of nature, Optimyze. We’re also going to talk about physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness using natural methods including red light therapy, breathwork, and cold water therapy. As a New York City native, Michael chose to leave his hometown of Queens to join the US Navy in 1999.  

With years of conducting helicopter cert rescue missions deployed around the globe as a helicopter rescue swimmer, combat search and rescue crewman, and anti-submarine warfare operator deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. With cervical spine issues, their logical pain and degradation, Michael turns to natural methods after fully exploring Western science, medical practices, spine surgery, pain management and pharmaceutical intervention.  

The funny thing about pain is that it comes in and out. Click To Tweet

After declining the professional recommendation for a second cervical surgery, Michael explored alternative methods and ideologies to healing putting a lot of emphasis on trying to understand the mind-body connection with hopes that this would put an end to anxiety, depression, insomnia and neurological issues. Michael’s journey took him into the Amazon jungle exploring healing modalities used by indigenous people of that region using medicinal plants, diets, and ancestral practices to explore the mind-body and spirit with great results.  

Michael also found the Wim Hof Method using cold water, breathing exercises, and a change in his mindset as a tool for self-healing and a deeper understanding of self. Using the cold water therapy, breathwork and sauna, Michael committed to a daily practice seeing great results in pain management, improved sleep, inflammation, clarity, peace of mind, energy and resilience. Using these natural methods and living a life committed to working on himself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, there never has been a need for a second surgery, pharmaceutical intervention or pain management.  

Using lessons and research from his journey into natural and alternative methods of learning from some of the best in their fields, Michael became a Wim Hof Method certified instructor teaching across the US and Mexico, XPT, which is breath, move and recover, coach combining contrast therapy training, breathwork and pool training to others around the valley. Michael is a teacher by nature and has Master’s Degree in Adult Education and Training. He considers himself a student for life in the area of self-exploration, biohacking, wellness and ancient practices that have stood the test of time.  

Michael, it’s so good to have you here.  

That’s a mouthful.  

That’s definitely a mouthful, but it’s appropriate and necessary to tell people who you were.  

Thanks for the introduction. It pretty much covers a wide stand of my life so up until the present day. Thank you for having me on your show. I appreciate it.  

You’ve had quite the journey. Tell me what it was growing up in Queens.  

Queens, New York, a concrete jungle. It was a great experience in many ways and a challenging experience in other ways. Like anyone growing up, we’re sponges. We’re taking it all in. We’re learning from our environment, and my environment was the hustle and bustle of the inner city of New York. I was born in Jamaica, which is a rough neighborhood, and was raised in Ozone Park and Flushing, which also are rough neighborhoods. I was raised by a single mom who was raising four children on her own.  

Mom was doing her best to put food on the table and take care of things. Us, siblings, had to grow up fast. We had to figure things out for ourselves, get to school, and get home from school. I didn’t notice later on but I realized that I lacked a lot of discipline and mentorship at a young age. That was something that was lacking. The other thing was nature, which is a big part of what we’re going to discuss. New York City doesn’t have a lot of nature. You have Central Park. In Upstate New York, you have the beaches but in everyday life, you are surrounded by buildings, noise, traffic and buses. didn’t realize until later on in life how important it was to have access to nature, the healing abilities, and the power of nature.  

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

Natural Healing: The interesting thing about surgeries is that everyone’s willing to give you drugs.

 

That was early life. I learned a lot of things. I learned how to communicate well, figure things out fast, sense danger at a young age, and figure out who’s playing me and who’s not. You can learn a lot of good communication skills but there are also a lot of obstacles as well growing up in that type of environment. There were high stress and high anxiety, and I didn’t have great role models except for my mom, who’s extremely hard working. Some people in my family are good role models but I lack that mentorship and discipline for sure.  

Did you have siblings?  

I did. I have three older sisters. 

You, your older sisters, and your mom.  

It was a house full of women in the ‘80s. 

I can relate to that. It was me, my two sisters, and my mom. I was in the middle.  

It’s hard to find an open bathroom. It’s nearly impossible. 

When did you start experimenting with drugs and alcohol? 

I started at an early age, which is funny because later on in life, I learned, “I was young,” but at the time, growing up in that neighborhood is pretty standard. I started drinking at the age of thirteen years old in the neighborhood parks. The older kids in the neighborhood were always at the park. New York City is a big place to play handball and I know it’s not too popular out West, but if you’re watching the movies, there are always these handball courts and everybody congregates around the handball courts. As a young buck, you had to wait your turn to play. If one of the older guys would let you play doubles with him, it was a big deal. I was good at handball.  

The older guys embraced me and I would get to hang out with them. They were already 16, 17, 18, and up so they’re already drinking and smoking weed. I was surrounded by that at age thirteen. I was looking up to these guys because these guys are cool. These are the top guys in the neighborhood. They had pretty girlfriends, have clout, and they also helped to keep you safe. If people know that these guys like you and you are part of their crew, then other people are going to leave you alone. There’s a lot of psychological positioning that’s happening in that type of environment. By the time I was thirteen, I was already drinking and smoking weed. 

More self-care, less self-expectations, and participate in less toxic behavior. Click To Tweet

Were you getting in trouble when you were younger? What was high school like?  

Highschool is a mix. I was smart, but I didn’t apply myself and I was bored. I wasn’t interested in the curriculum. I would pretty much cut school quite a bit and drink on lunch breaks or during school hours. I get by with some passing grades. I was lost. It’s the best way I could describe it. I had no direct path and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Also, in the ‘90s, this was the movement of the house music scene in New York City. New York City was all these big nightclubs like The Sound Factory, The Tunnel, and The Limelight. These were the Studio 54 of its time.  

As you would imagine, these places are filled with all kinds of recreational drugs. By the time I was 16 and 17, I was going into Manhattan and getting into different nightclubs because I was still hanging out with the older guys. The older guys embrace me. They took me under their wing. That was the era of ecstasy and all of those what they would call designer drugs. That was a big hit in 1997 and 1998, and those years. I got heavily into the house music, club music, and underground scene as well. I started off with alcohol and weed and quickly moved to designer drugs and cocaine as well. 

Where were your three elder sisters in all this? 

Everybody had a different story where you had some sisters that had gone away to college. They were off, gone, and doing their own thing. You had other sisters that were working and had boyfriends. I was the only boy in the house in an ItalianAmerican family. It’s interesting because you get away with a lot. Everyone had this assumption, “Michael does no wrong. Even if he does wrong, we’ll pretend that didn’t happen.” That’s common as well. I didn’t have that strong father presence in the house to say, “I know what you’re up to,” and give me some discipline or sit down and have that talk or anything like that.  

I was a wild young man going with the flow, living life in the present moment. I have amazing years, to be honest with you. I had some great years, a lot of fun and experiences, but those types of behaviors and the drugs especially started to take their toll on me. I was becoming more and more lost. I wasn’t having any clear direction as to where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, or anything like that. I set the bar low for myself as well. I didn’t have big goals or anything like that at that time. When I think back, I notice that.  

You’ve had your struggles with anxiety, depression and insomnia. When did that start? Did that start at a young age?  

It’s hard to tell how those things start or when it starts because when you’re a teenager, there’s so much going on. It’s hard to reflect on what my emotional state was at 18 or 19 years old. There are so many ups and downs. We were either going out drinking, doing drugs, getting into bars and partying. I love partying. A lot of highs and lows, but you don’t look at that as, “That’s anxiety or I’m depressed.” I didn’t quite know how to define it.  

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection

I started to struggle with those things a little bit later on after my military service. I started to classify that may have a problem here and there’s something I need to do to address that but that came much later on. It’s the same thing with sleep. When I was a teenager, I slept like I was dead. We’d party hard and sleep all day. Sleep was never an issue. Sleep became an issue for me after my military career when I got out and separated from the military service.  

How did you end up in the Navy? What made you decide to go to the Navy? 

The way it worked out was at a bar in the afternoon. I was twenty years old, sitting in a bar in the afternoon which was next to a recruiting station. One of the military guys came in to get lunch. He sits at the bar, served alcohol, and lunch and saw me sitting there by myself drinking. He had a conversation with me and asked if I was interested in the military. At that time, life wasn’t going too well. I had some events that occurred. I must have been doing some self-reflection at that time in my life. I was open-minded. I didn’t shut him down. I was like, “Sure, why not? I’ll be open to see what the military has to offer.” The way he set it up and described it to me was, “You go down, you take a test, depending on how well you’ll do on this test, it depends on what types of options would be available to you.”  

I was in community college because I always had a high aptitude. I was smart. I didn’t find myself. I was in community college at the time, and I was passing all my classes with flying colors. It was easy. I was thinking about becoming a firefighter in New York City or doing some blue-collar type of job. That was interesting to me. When I spoke with the Navy, that opened up some different doors. I scored well on my tests and I had a lot of options. I was also into physical fitness at a very young age.  

I was always in great shape. I played high school football and wrestling. I got into weightlifting, bodybuilding, and all those types of things. The recruiters saw me and said, “You’re in great shape. Would you be interested in these job applications for the military that required a high physical fitness readiness?” One of the options was the helicopter search and rescue program. Ultimately, after many discussions with them, that’s the road and path that I went down.  

How did you injure your back? Was it while you’re in the Navy?  

Early on, I had an injury in the military. I had this debilitating pain that would radiate out with my neck. I didn’t understand that because I never had pain like that before. It’s the first time in my life I ever had real pain that didn’t go away after a few days. This was pain that was chronic. It was staying with me every single day. It was a tough decision because you have this physical pain, but you have all of these mental and physical things that you have to do in order to pass to your school. I was in Schools Command.  

I remember, there was a school that I had to go to and it was called the Aviation Warfare System Operator School. This is where we learn how to hunt submarines. You’re pretty much in the classroom eight hours a day learning about all of these different approaches on how to track and hunt submarines from all over the world. Every country has different types of submarines. Some are nuclear, most have battery power, there are diesel submarines.  

Battery, electric and nuclear, which most people are familiar with. It’s very much the Hunt for Red October. If you’re familiar with that movie. My boss was in that movie. It was a famous scene that he was in. That was one of my primary jobs. When I was in that school, I was in a lot of pain but I hid a lot of that pain because I didn’t want to be removed out of the program. I didn’t want to get put into another career field where I was doing some administrative work, supply work or something like that.  

I was in a select group that was going to be tracking submarines, doing combat search and rescue, working with special forces, and also jumping out of helicopters to save people’s lives. I had made it through this program. I was halfway through it and I wasn’t going to let that slip away. I stepped it up. I took Motrin, I dealt with the discomfort and I passed all of the necessary requirements, whether it was the push-ups, sit-ups, runs and swims.  

The funny thing about pain is that it comes in and out. There are times where it was debilitating and I would be holding my neck for the entire class and my teachers didn’t quite know what to do with me, but I sucked it up and dealt with it. There were times where I dissipate and I wouldn’t feel it for a few months at a time and I would think it’s gone. It’s this thing that plagued me for years and come in and out. I had no idea how to explain that or what that was until much later on in my life when I started to learn more about psychosomatic pain, mind-body inflammation, and all those other things that I’m sure we’ll get into. 

How long were you in the Navy for?  

What you think you can or think you can't, either way, you're right.  Click To Tweet

I served a five-year contract. The five-year contract started in 1999 and ended in 2004 but a lot happened in 1999 to 2004. Right out of training, I got sent to a squadron and we were getting ready for deployment. Sure enough, as we’re gearing up training for our scheduled normal deployment, that’s when 911 happened. That was September 11th, 2001 and I was already basically on an aircraft carrier heading West towards Afghanistan as early as November of 2001.  

We were one of the first ships to get there and to start participating in the theater at that time which was Operation Enduring Freedom. I got there early on. We were flying missions in and out of Pakistan, Afghanistan and supporting all of the waters of the North Caribbean Sea. There were a lot of shipping vessels in and out of there, so we were doing all kinds of different things like intelligence work, boarding shipping vessels, maintaining the seas there, and making sure that there are no submarines in the area from Iran or anybody else that wants to get involved.  

It was wartime and it was getting a lot of publicity because everybody was super patriotic at that time. The whole country was, in a way, united which is different from what it is now. We had all kinds of publicity. I had Jay Leno on my ship. He spent one week. He did a full special. We had Tom Brokaw. We were flying a helicopter with Tom Brokaw and he was filming some event. History Channel was doing something. Pamela Anderson wound up coming out to aircraft carriers to do signings. It was this big show. It’s interesting to reflect back on. I was there for all that.  

You hid this pain the entire time. 

I hid it. 

You sucked it up.  

I sucked it up. The doctors knew because I would go and tell them but in the military, there are a lot of fakers. There’s a lot of fake pain. I hate to say it but there is. A lot of guys that want to get out of stuff. We call them State Called Warriors. They didn’t want to get involved in the physical training so they would say, “This hurts, that hurts.” There are real injuries too, don’t get me wrong, but still easily give you some pharmaceutical medication and move you on your way. I was okay with that because I wasn’t trying to get out of work. I wanted to keep up with the pack so I did that.  

I kept up with the pack and I did what I needed to do to continue to fly and operate. I was good at what I did and the leadership liked me. I was climbing up the ranks fast, becoming a flight instructor and rescue swimmer instructor. I also had a couple of rescues under my belt as well. My Navy career was going well and I had also been selected as Air Crewmen of the Year for the entire United States Navy at one time. Everything was falling into place. I wasn’t willing to let all of that go so I could sit behind some desk and do some administrative work.  

When did your back start bothering you? You finished the Navy in 2004. When did you start thinking, “I need to do something about my back because it’s bothering me?”  

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

Natural Healing: Our perception of life has so much influence on everything.

 

After the Navy, I separated. I went into the corporate world, which is common. They call it from Navy blue to corporate gray. It’s a good transition for the military because it’s structured in a corporate environment. I was supporting the military. I worked for the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs at that time and I also was working my way up in that career. went back to school and finished my undergraduate degree. I wound up doing a Master’s Degree and I went to get a second Master’s Degree. I was an overachiever. I was taking it all in at that time of my life.  

I was still having the ins and outs of the pain, where at certain stages of my life, I was feeling little to no pain, and certain stages of my life, it was really bothering me. I started going to doctors here in Phoenix and Scottsdale area, and I was getting a lot of different opinions. The one thing they all had in common is they were all pharmaceutical-based. It was lots of painkillers, anti-inflammatory type of pills, muscle relaxers, and steroid injections which were the pain management clinics. I was doing all of it. Sometimes it was effective temporarily but the pain kept haunting me. It was trying to tell me something, that’s for sure. 

I wasn’t changing my habits either so I don’t want to be a victim here. I’m here now and everything is all at me. I wasn’t taking care of my bodymind and spirit. I was still drinking heavily on the weekends. That was part of the culture. It was 2004, 2005 and 2006 in Scottsdale. Everything was booming. There was lots of business and everybody has money. I was making good money as well. Even though I was working out and lifting weights, I wasn’t stretching and doing any flexibility training.  

I wasn’t doing anything to help my situation therapeutically. I was pumping iron, thinking that’s healthy and good. Although I had lots of muscles and I was strong, it wasn’t necessarily healthy. These are all things that were my armor. All of these things were part of my armor. They’re a part of my mask. It’s the mask that I wore. It’s the mask that I showed people. It’s the piece of me that I wanted other people to see that I was this ex-military, successful business guy, well-educated, and had money in my pocket.  

I have no interest in being vulnerable. I have no real interest in sharing the fact that I was in pain, I had sleep issues, I may have had anxiety and depression. Those were the types of things that I wasn’t sharing with anybody. I kept them all to myself until it got too problematic where I had to take some action. That point came when I started going to a chiropractor. I learned that the pain quickly turned into complete numbness for a period of time.  

At first, I was happy because I was like, “The pain is gone,” but I was losing all functionality. I was losing strength in my hands, my balance, and ultimately losing feeling. That had me concerned as it would with anyone. It had the doctor’s concern. They sent me to a specialist, a neurologist, and they thought I had multiple sclerosis because I was losing physical function. My body would shake out of control. I had tons of muscle tremors. I had loss of feeling and neuropathy. All these things were happening. My health was declining fast. I wanted to see a surgeon shortly after that appointment.  

Once they found out that I did not have multiple sclerosis, which was great news, but I also found out that my spinal cord was being choked and I was losing spinal fluid. It was leaking and I was losing all kinds of motor function so they needed to give me emergency surgery at that time. That’s exactly what I did. I had emergency surgery. Shortly after the surgery, I started to get better. Things start to get better for a moment.  

Tell me what unfolded after your first surgery.  

The interesting thing about the surgery is that everyone’s willing to give you drugs. It was like, “This is interesting.” I started to take Percocet at that time and painkillers. I was taking medication but I was also keeping up with bad habits, which was drinking too much on weekends and stuff like that. I didn’t have that self-discipline that I needed. Ultimately, the combination of that was bad. I didn’t make a lot of healthy changes. I took the protocols that they gave me which was to lay off the weights, the physical fitness, and recover. I did that. 

For a period of time, I did feel better. I didn’t have that same loss of function. My body recovered fast. I noticed that my genetics and my healing abilities were good. About 9, 10, maybe 12 months, somewhere around there, I started to have all the same symptoms. I was having throbbing pain from my neck, more loss of function in my hands, my hand strength became weak, and I was also having a lot of muscle atrophy.  

Vulnerability is power. Click To Tweet

I have to go back. I have to see the surgeon and tell him what’s going on. It was back to pharmaceuticals. I was getting more of the steroid, pain management, clinic injections, back on the muscle relaxers, and the anti-inflammatory pills. Because I had so much medication for such a prolonged period of time, it was starting to affect my organs because my blood work was coming back with elevated numbers, readings, and stuff.  

Once again, I was inflamed, puffy, retaining water, weak and having pain. They recommended me to do a second surgery. At that point, I said, “I had enough. That was it. I’m not going to do a second surgery. What I’m going to do is find another way. This was a turning point in my life. This was the point where I was starting to look within. I had an interest in alternative therapies and medicine. I was exploring that. It was basic, but some people had come into my life to introduce some new concepts to me. Ultimately, I never went and did that second surgery. I went down the rabbit hole of natural therapies.  

It came into your life and opened your eyes to the possibility of something different.  

Possibility of something different, different way of thinking, and the fact that I had all of these unresolved issues inside of me that needed to be addressed. That was critical for me and it led me to a lot of different things. I started to explore myself. This is the first time in my life I honestly say that I took an interest in trying to find out what was going on inside. I was interested in learning about me for once. I want them to know who I was, what my journey was, what my trauma was, and what was unresolved.  

I started to slowly break down the ego and even learn about what the ego was. It wasn’t even part of my vocabulary at that time. I started to do different things. I became interested in workshops. I went and did Landmark. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them. That opened up my mind to see things from a new perspective and understanding how important the power of perception was. I started to learn about people like Eckhart Tolle. I was reading his books and understanding the mind, the present moment, and how you’re spending too much of your time thinking about the future that will lead to anxiety. If you’re spending too much time reflecting on the past, that will lead you into depression.  

I started to understand how much control and influence we have over our lives, and how important the present moment was, and why that was so powerful. That attracted me to meditation. Meditation was one of those things that everywhere I looked, everyone was doing it. There was no bad data on meditation. It was one of those things that were universally good for you but I couldn’t do it. I could sit there as if I was meditating but honestly, I had such a busy mind. My mind was thinking about stuff. What do I need to do later? How long has this been? It wasn’t effective for me. I was listening to a podcast at that time and that introduced me to floating, which was the sensory deprivation tanks. That helped out. 

Is it like True REST? 

Yes. True REST is one of them in the Valley. That helped because it helped take a lot of the sensory input away. I started to learn about this journey of going within and that took me down in many different rabbit holes. Some are good therapies. I tried it all. I was interested, I was exploring, and I was trying out different things. Some things I went to were very effective. I went to spend a lot of money. I have a session with somebody and it wasn’t that effective but then some things were effective.  

The most important thing and why I share this is because I was getting my own feedback. I was trying things out and figuring out what works for me getting my own feedback and that was taking me to different places as well. Ultimately, it led me to learn about indigenous cultures, their ways, their spirituality and medicine, but it also took me to the Wim Hof Method, biohacking, and all that other stuff that I’m into now.  

What I’m hearing you say is that you learned how to be present and pay attention because the Western way or the way that was prescribed to you was to have another surgery, take a pill, and go through pain management that leads to lots of other issues. You decided, “No, I’m going to be present. I’m going to pay attention.” That allowed you to try all these different things out.  

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

Natural Healing: We are not a victim anymore of our environments, our surroundings, and our situation. We actually are in the driver’s seat.

 

There was a book called The MindBody Connection by Dr. Sarno and there was a concept that I never even explored before. Basically, that psychosomatic pain can cause physical pain in the body. Nobody had told me that before. No one ever said, “Michael, you need to sit with your thoughts or find out what’s going on emotionally,” or explore that aspect of it, which was more mental and emotional healing. Everything was like, “You’re like a car, a piece of machinery. It’s like your alternator in your car. If your alternators mess up, you remove it, rebuild it, put it back in and get the car back on the road.” I always looked at medical practices, much like machinery engineering. These types of people, Dr. Sarno, Eckhart Tolle, and Edgar Cayce started to open up my mind to mental-emotional mind-body connection stuff and how impactful that was on pain management.  

It was recommended that you get another back surgery and you decided against that. How long did you have to deal with this pain in your back? How long did it take before you’re able to work through it and not experience pain? That seems a pretty hard thing to do.  

It was quick. Once I started to change my mindset and my perception on pain, things started to dissipate. As I said how the pain would come and go, I was finding out that there was more go than there was coming, which is good. Every time I reflected back and I said, “Michael, you get to reflect back in your meditation. You’re going to think about a time where you were experiencing the most pain. What was going on in your life at that time?”  

I would look back and I would think back to that time. What was going on in my life? I had high stress. I was making poor decisions. I wasn’t treating myself well and had bad thinking. My thinking was toxic. It was self-love, call it what you like. It’s interesting but once I started to change that and make the shift into better and healthier thought patterns, more self-care, fewer expectations of myself, participate in less toxic behavior or invitations like the big events that they have every year, the Birds Nest, and all these other big events. I said that I’m not going. People were like, “We’ve got to go. Everyone is going. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a day drinking from 10 AM to midnight or whatever.”  

I didn’t go. I stopped participating. I started saying no and that helped. I changed my perception. Honestly, I started to feel better more. Although the pain, neuropathy, and those types of things were not gone, I learned that I have some influence over this. That’s when my body started to tell me that I was on the right path. I started to believe that this stuff worked. It wasn’t as foo-foo stuff that was in some self-help books. It worked. I started to believe in it and trust it. That helped me out. That helped me to be on the path for sure.  

The mind is a powerful thing and as they say, “What you believe or don’t believe it’s true.”  

Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way, you’re right.  

I was something along those lines. It’s all about your mind. What you think and what you put your energy into thinking, a lot of times, it comes true. What do they say, “Most medication,” and I’m making this up, “they’re high percent placebo effects?” 

Yes, high percent placebo effects which no one talks about.  

It’s a high percent placebo effect. It’s all in our minds. Someone that thinks they’re sick a lot is probably going to be sick a lot.  

The beautiful thing is there’s a science to that. It’s not this notion of power, positive thinking. The guy that is doing the best job of describing how that works, how the DNA works, and how our genetics work. This is epigenetics on how important the environment is in our life. We always were told that our genetics dictate so many different things in our life. We’re learning more and more that our inherited genetics only make up a small portion of things that our environment has a bigger impact on our genetics.  

This term, epigenetics, Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about it a lot in his research and work. Also, Dr. Joe Dispenza talks exactly how the placebo effect works from a scientific perspective. It’s a beautiful thing because what it does is it gives you back power because your environment is not only, “Is it cold outside? Is it hot outside?” There are all kinds of things. It’s the people you hang out with energetically. Whether you’re getting involved in dramatic types of things, dramatic types of people and toxic relationships, we all know somebody who has everything. They have the money, the lifestyle, the career, and the title, but they’re miserable inside. They’re depressed, anxious and suicidal.  

We all know the person who has little to nothing from material wealth but has that can-do, I love life mentality, and they’re happy. Our perception of life has so much influence on everything. Guess who controls them? We do. That’s the beauty in this type of work. We are not a victim anymore of our environments, surroundings and situation. We are in the driver’s seat. We get to turn the wheel, change direction, hit the brakes or hit the gas pedal, influence our lives, and our outcomes. Those are the things that you don’t learn in school and at the university.  

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As I told you, I went back to school. I have a Bachelor’s and two separate Master’s Degrees but they don’t teach these things. These are things that you have to go digging for yourself. Sometimes, life is going to push you in that direction if you’re not getting the signal. Unfortunately, sometimes it has to push you into a bad situation where you have experienced some pain and downfall because you’re not getting the memo. That’s what happened to me. I was thick-headed and I wasn’t interested in showing this vulnerable side of myself because I have a big ego.  

I had to learn much later on in life, which is less than I would have loved to have learned earlier, that vulnerability is pure power. That’s why we’re so drawn to people who are vulnerable or willing to be vulnerable. We’re drawn to people who know how to express themselves freely. It’s one of those things that humans are in awe of because we know it’s not an easy thing to do. Some people are naturals and some people work hard to develop certain skills, but they’re good skills to have. 

It seems much safer to put the walls up.  

We think it’s much safer.  

It’s much safer and put the walls up, not be vulnerable, and you don’t want to get hurt, or you got hurt in the past so we put up the walls. We’re not vulnerable, we don’t truly connect with other people, and conversations are much on the surface. That doesn’t lead to fulfillment because that’s what we all want. We all want fulfillment.  

Think about this. You can have those stuff. You can have your wall and your armor. It’s a safe place and it’s okay. You can have it, but you quickly experience growth if you’re willing to be uncomfortable. There’s always a give and take. You’re not going to have this growth that you might be desiring, reading about, or watching in a documentary, film, or whatever is inspiring you at that moment. You’re not going to be able to have that growth if you’re not willing to be uncomfortable.  

It’s like how you’re not going to be able to find true love whether it’s with yourself or external true love without being willing to be vulnerable. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Life will always move you in the direction to try to break down those walls. Sometimes, it’s more subtle but sometimes it can be dramatic. It might be that car accident that set you into a place where you have to spend time to reflect on life because you’re tied up on the bed in the hospital for a period of time or you’re nursing a broken leg. Your life has been trying to tell you to slow down.  

You’re getting all these hints along the way. People were telling you. You’re getting subliminal messages in all aspects of your life, but you don’t want to listen. Now, you’re forced to slow down and you can’t move. You’ve got to go with it. Life will push you in that direction. I learned that it doesn’t always have to be so dramatic. I don’t want to get hit in the head with a baseball bat every time I need to learn a lesson. I’d rather get a soft little nudge and I’ll say, “I got it. Thank you. I appreciate that,” and get life back on course. I try to stay away from baseball bats these days. 

Tell me about Wim Hof. How did you discover Wim Hof?  

The way I discovered Win Hof was the VICE documentary called Becoming Superhuman with Ice Man. It’s a famous VICE documentary on his life. I was fascinated. Honestly, I thought this guy was interesting. I liked the character. I loved this aspect of the medical, influencing your immune system and all these types of things. I had already been going down that rabbit hole and learning about health, mental health, physical health, emotional health, science, anatomy and physiology.  

All of these things are subjects that I had to go back into the books to relearn because it was touched on in school. I was ready for his work. I was prepared for that moment to learn about this method. I was also much into esoteric stuff because I learned that healing isn’t just the mind and the body, but spirit is of equal importance. It’s mind, body, and spirit balance. Finding the balance of all things mind, body, and spirit. I was reading esoteric stuff and spirituality. I was researching, searching and finding.  

What I learned in my journey was I was working on my mind and my body as I started to make good healthy changes but spiritually, I was a big fat zero. I wasn’t working on my spirit at all. That’s mainly because I left religion a long time ago. I lost a little faith in that process growing up as Italian-American Catholic. I left it back in New York. I never took it with me. Spirit is equally important. I want to stress that it’s important. The Wim Hof Method was one of those things that I saw as a complete method. By practicing the method, you can access your mind, body and spirit all in one practice. The three pillars of the Wim Hof Method help you to connect that.  

I did many different methods and techniques. Some are effective. Some were not. What I liked about the Wim Hof Method, it worked immediately. It was simple and cost-effective. I implemented that right away. I started to go down the rabbit hole of learning more about science. That took me to learn and understand a lot about our immune system, which is great because all of that knowledge that I acquired helped me for this time in our lives, which is this pandemic and everything. It’s all about immune health. If you are starting from zero in understanding the immune system and immune health, you’re behind. I was ready to go ahead. I was able to prepare my body, mind, spirit and immune system for these times. It served me well. It allowed me to teach many other people and help them on their journey during these difficult times.  

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

Natural Healing: Vulnerability is just one of those things that humans are in awe of because we know it’s not an easy thing to do.

 

With the Wim Hof Method, you’ve got the cold water therapy and the breathwork. What’s the third pillar?  

Commitment, which is also known as a mindset, is the pillar that is the most important. If you think about Wim’s story, Wim hikes Mount Everest in his shorts. It’s great feat. It’s extremely dangerous. He’s been to the full ice caps. He ran a marathon in the African desert without water. He’s done a lot of interesting things with 26 Guinness records. He acclimated to the poll and he’s had some adaptation to cold. He knows this magic breathing exercise that can automatically make a human superhuman.  

That makes Wim Hof so unique. In my experience, in my opinion, it’s the power of his mind. He has very strong and powerful mind. He’s got a strong commitment and strong discipline. I believe that discipline is the key to happiness. When we say what we’re going to do and we follow through with it, that helps us to feel better, happier, more alive and all of those things. The three pillars of the Wim Hof Method are breathing exercises, a very specific one, commitment, and cold therapy. It’s all in one combination.  

Of the three, which do you think is the first one that a person should learn more about or experience?  

The first thing to touch on is all three all at once because what you can do is easily go to a workshop and learn about everything. I teach locally, here in the Valley, five of our Fundamentals Course, so people can learn how to do breathing exercises, apply commitment and discipline to their exercise, and what is the science of the theory of cold water therapy. You have access to all of it. You have access to it by doing a breathing exercise, which you could do from the comfort of your own home, in your bed, in a safe space. You have the ability to follow through commitments to do it on a daily basis and put it into action to see how it impacts your life in a positive way, and you have access to cold showers.  

Cold showers are going to be out the door soon because the weather is starting to warm up here in Phoenix. Anywhere else around the country, cold showers will linger for quite a while but you have Optimyze with cold water seven days a week, which you weren’t aware of. I recommend doing all three because, in combination, they’ll work. It’s a practice. You’re not going to be perfect the first time you do it. You implement it and you get better. All of these techniques, what’s amazing about the breathing and cold water, as you know we’ve done and you’ve come to my classes before, in common, they both take your attention inward. They allow you to bring your attention inward, taking away all the busyness of the day, the mind, all that chatter that’s out there, and have you focus on yourself. That’s good practice for humans. 

When you’re jumping into a 32 degrees water ice bath, you’re not thinking about anything else. You have to completely surrender.  

Yes. If you don’t, you suffer. It’s a great lesson. It’s depth, realtime, or suffer. You could suffer if you want. You might learn something by suffering. A lot of my life has been suffering and I’ve learned many things or you can learn to accept, surrender, and find peace with it. It’s a great training ground for the mind, body and spirit. That’s why I use it seven days a week as you do as well. 

With breathwork, a lot of people are like, “I know how to breathe. I know how to do breathwork. I breathe every day.” I didn’t realize that either. To do breathwork is work. Why would someone want to put this energy into doing breathwork? Because it works. Most people breathe shallowly throughout the day. First, what is the negative associated with very shallow breaths that most people take throughout the day?  

Shallow breathing is a type of stress. If you think about it, what happens when you step into the cold water? You breathe rapidly and shallowly. What happens if you get a phone call in the middle of the day and it’s terrible news? You get this emotional, panicky feeling. You got some bad news that you lost your job, you lost a loved one, or you lost anybody. It’s some loss or grief. It’s a sign of stress. What’s beautiful learning about breathwork which the name can turn a lot of people off. It’s like, “What does that even mean?” It has other names like breathing exercises. You can do that, but then people start to think it is a Lamaze class for pregnant women. 

It is like Lamaze class. 

You’re learning how to breathe to modulate pain. That’s what they’re doing.  

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Not that I’ve ever taken a Lamaze class or anything about it. I’ve heard that breathwork is similar to a Lamaze class. 

You’re learning how to modulate pain and different things. I’m not too familiar with what they teach in that class. For the readers that are curious about breathwork, you have two different types of people. You’ve got people who are interested in the spiritual aspect of the breathing exercises and they know that there’s something there, and then you have a science. You heard about the science. For science folks, you have access to your autonomic nervous system. Your nervous system responds to the type of breathing that you do. When you inhale, you’re activating the sympathetic nervous system. When you exhale, you’re activating the parasympathetic mode of the nervous system, which would be like the brake of the nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system would be like the gas pedal. 

When you have access to your autonomic nervous system, that means you also have access to your heart rate. If I breathe fast and shallow, my heart rate will go up. If I slow and calm, my heart rate will go down. Most people don’t realize that they have access to this because they think, “It’s automatic. I don’t have to tell my heart to beat. I don’t have to tell myself to take a breath.” It’s true. It is automatic. Thank God. If you ever think about every time you needed to take a breath or your heart needed to beat, it will take all your attention and focus so you wouldn’t have much energy to do anything else.  

Like a car, you can switch to manual mode at any time. When you switch to manual mode, you start to focus on your inhales and exhales, and change the way you breathe by extending an exhale or maybe breathing more rapidly, then you start to influence other systems of the body. It would be your brainwaves and also your heart rate. If I breathe shallow and fast, the heart rate is going to go up and I’m going to most likely have a little bit more brain arousal. My heart rate is going to go up and my sympathetic nervous systems could be activated, which means it might release different types of hormones into my bloodstream.  

If I breathe calm and slow, where I’m breathing in for eight seconds and breathing out for eight seconds, I’m calming everything down. Now my brainwaves are starting to calm down. The frequencies are starting to come down. We’re getting into alpha brainwaves, theta brainwaves, and then the heart rate is also going to come down. You also have influence over your blood pressure. You can increase blood pressure and decrease blood pressure also by the way you breathe. If anyone is interested, what it does is it puts you into the driver’s seat of this wonderful, amazing machine that we’ve been given. This body and this operating system of our mind that nobody gave us directions.  

We weren’t born with, “Here’s the operating manual for this machine.” You spend the whole life trying to figure out how this thing works. We only have scratched the surface of what our body is capable of. Wim Hof has shown the world that we are more capable of what we think we can. That’s the beauty of breathwork. We can talk about breathwork for a whole show. For anyone interested, you have access to how the machine works if you learn how to control your breathing and optimize your breathing, then you can have a beautiful, powerful influence on your state of stress, ability to sleep, ability to relax, recover, and your ability to drive energy up as well.  

You can make your own medicine, which is even beautiful too. I know that looks crazy but this is science. There’s scientific research to show that breathing exercises release epinephrine, which has a positive effect on inflammation. Your body is a pharmacy. When you start to learn how to operate this machine, you get to be the driver and not be driven by somebody who has installed cars running amuck in the neighborhood. Now, you’re having to pay bills for that. You get to operate this beautiful, wonderful machine that we have called the body.  

The other thing that happens with breathwork is you can bring your body from an acidic state to an alkaline state. People talk about drinking pH water because they want to get to an alkaline state, even eating foods that are not acidic or foods that are alkaline. We take 25,000 breaths per day. Bringing your body to an alkaline state through breathing and breathwork seems like it makes way more sense. You take 25,000 breaths a day is way easier. 

The ancients say that we only have so many breaths in a lifetime which is this esoteric principle of don’t breath too much. Science supports that too. One of the main benefits of learning breathing exercises is it will help you to breathe less. If you were to take an inhale for five seconds and exhale for five seconds, that’s a ten-second period. Multiply that to how many breaths you are taking in one minute. That’s only six breaths. That’s not many breaths in one minute. Look at a dog. How many breaths does a dog or a cat take? They breathe so rapidly. Even when they’re in a relaxed state, they breathe super rapidly. If they’re laying on the floor, their belly is moving. They breathe a lot. They take 20 to 30 breaths a minute or something like that. It’s fast.  

Look at a turtle, I forget how many breaths per minute, four or something, even less. They don’t breathe much. Look at the lifespan of a dog or cat. It’s not long compared to a turtle. Breathing less is one of the keys to longevity. Focusing your attention on your breathing will automatically cause you to breathe less. Talking less makes you breathe less. That’s why our Native American brothers and sisters talked a lot less in many ways. They listen more and talk less, which we all know are good skills and important. We could get into all the CO2 oxygen stuff. If you talk a lot, you’re scrubbing CO2 and all that kind of stuff. Learn how to breathe less. It doesn’t mean holding your breath or anything like that. It just means slowing down your breathing and being in natural rhythm.  

A lot of the breathing techniques that are out there ramp up the nervous system and ramp down the nervous system. Ultimately, what they will assist you with is your body can utilize oxygen more efficiently in a higher CO2 environment and you have a higher CO2 tolerance. You will have to breathe less but deeper, fuller breaths which are providing oxygen into ourselves because all of our cells need oxygen all the time. It’s one of the things that we cannot go without for long. We can go out without food for quite a long time and we can go without water for a significant amount of time, but we cannot go without breathing for 1 minute or 1.5-minute. You’re in trouble. Breathing exercises are important and a big part of that, of course.  

James Nestor wrote the book Breath. He talks about overbreathing. People overeat and overbreath. What does that mean?  

That’s taking too many breaths within the day. They’re shallow breathing. You’re going to breathe more, which is going to put your nervous system in a more sympathetic tone, which is the fight or flight tone of the nervous system. It means you’re going to be producing more stress-related hormones, which are going to negatively impact the body. When your body is in this chronic stress state for long periods of time, now you have inflammation problems that can eventually turn into autoimmune problems. It can potentially turn into cancer problems because everything is harmonious.  

The body is at harmony. Cancer is competing with your body for resources. Autoimmune is over-replication. The body is at harmony. You want to find balance in all things. You want to find this homeostasis. Stress is anytime our body is out of homeostasis. How fast that we rebound back to stress is important. It’s good to train your body’s stress response with stress. Back to your original question. Overbreathing will lead to a shorter expiration date, so learn how to breathe less. That book is a great reference because they teach the five-second inhale and five-second exhale as one of the techniques. 

I’ve been doing breathwork for a couple of years. The first thing I do in the morning before I get out of bed is I’ll do three cycles of the Wim Hof Method, I pray, and then I meditate for ten minutes. My blood cells are filled with oxygen and I’m wide awake by the time I get out of bed. I wake up early. Even if I don’t get a lot of sleep, I’ll still do my breathwork. I’m awake, alert and ready to go.  

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

Natural Healing: Your body’s a pharmacy. When you start to learn how to operate this machine, you get to, once again, be the driver and not be driven.

 

It enhances all that, providing more energy because of the ATP reaction. It helps you to be more focused. It has an anti-inflammatory effect which is the epinephrine that you’re releasing from that type of breathing exercise that you’re doing. There are a lot of great benefits to breathing exercise. It’s also great because the second thing is you pray, which is affirmations. You’re putting spoken words into the universe and spoken words in vibration and frequency.  

That helps to call in good things into your life. Its hard to get into a meditative state. Your mind is extremely busy thinking about one million different things. Your brain is in a beta wave stress life state. Trying to meditate is almost impossible but when you do breathing exercises prior to the meditation, it allows your brain to get into lower frequencies, more alpha and theta wave frequencies. That’s around 5 to 8 hertz for theta and alpha is above that. It makes the meditation a lot deeper, better, and more beneficial so it’s a good tool.  

When I do Wim Hof Method, I realized there was a period of time, my first breath-hold on the exhale would be two minutes. Second, 2.5 and third, 3, 3.5, or even longer. I was also able to stay in the cold plunge for a longer period of time and then I realized I wasn’t able to hold my breath this long. It was a struggle to get to two minutes and I was not able to stay in the cold plunges long. I read Wim Hof’s latest book and I realized that he’s talking about going from an acidic state to an alkaline state.  

He also talks about how Olympic athletes and professional athletes are more in an alkaline state, which makes it where they can tolerate more pain. I also realized that I wasn’t belly-breathing. That’s the other thing I read. I was lazy. I was still doing the breathwork but I was lazy. Because I was lazy and I wasn’t belly-breathing, I wasn’t able to hold my breath for as long on the exhale. I was not in an alkaline state. This is what I make up about it anyways. I wasn’t able to stay in the cold plunges long, which part of it I’m sure was in my mind. 

There are some things that I could touch on there. The alkaline state is interesting. Without getting into all the science because it’s scientific and confusing, when your body is temporarily stressing, your blood goes alkaline. It’s called respiratory alkalosis. Many times, your blood pH increases above neutral, which is 7.3. You’re in more of an alkaline state. They measure them at 7.8 or so. It’s slightly alkaline. Most people go, “What does that mean? What is that doing?” That’s a good thing because there’s all this craze about alkaline everything, alkaline water and alkaline food.  

To be honest with you, you don’t want everything to be alkaline because your stomach is acidic for a reason. It’s acidic because it breaks down food and it doesn’t stop that way. There are different aspects of the body that probably benefit from being more alkaline and there are different aspects that benefit from being more acidic. When your blood pH becomes alkaline temporarily, respiratory alkalosis, your body has the ability to bypass certain pain receptors. There’s a whole science of how that works that I won’t get into, but that temporary ability helps to modulate pain.  

That’s why the hyperventilation techniques used in Lamaze classes and the Wim Hof, that rapid breathing, you’re scrubbing CO2. By overbreathing, CO2 starts to decrease and oxygen increases, but that doesn’t mean that all the oxygen becomes available. It’s just free-roaming. When that’s happening, you’re changing the chemistry of the body. That’s making the body temporarily more alkaline for the time being, which has a positive impact on pain modulation. Hopefully, you found a lot of information there, but that’s how it works. It’s a good thing and it’s effective.  

As for why you can’t stay in an ice bath longer, there are a lot of different factors that can be like where we are emotionally and mentally at that time, our ability to let go and surrender, and our ability to go within, and not be thinking about stuff. There are too many factors to say, “It’s because of this.” I never said a problem. I’ve been practicing this. I teach this. There are times that I have a hard time holding my breath for a long period of time or my ice baths may not be as long, which I don’t subscribe to the idea of a long ice bath either. 2 or 3 minutes is fine but it’s just human. What’s most important of all is always trust your body.  

Let’s talk about cold water therapy. What are the benefits of cold water therapy and ice bath?  

Cold water therapy has been around for thousands of years, although it’s common and trendy now. Cryotherapy is out there and lots of people are posting pictures of doing ice baths on Instagram. I want people to know this is nothing new. It’s super old. I could get into all the different cultures that did cold water therapy. Let’s be honest, hot water heaters are not that old. Everyone was taking a cold shower not that long ago. Hot water heaters are the thing that’s in the present. Cold showers and cold water bathing has been around forever.  

There are different cultures that talk about cold water therapy for spiritual aspects. There are different native groups that use cold water therapy for preparation for other ceremonies that they would do. They stated that it cleanses the body and restores the body’s vital energy. You know, just from optimizing and when you get out of the ice bath, you feel home, electric, and you feel the energy. People get drawn to that feeling. They want more of that and that’s why they’ll keep doing it. There’s science supporting what that is. There are ATP production and all that kind of stuff.  

The core benefit of doing cold water therapy is inflammation. I would say that’s probably the most important because inflammation is the cause of all diseases. There’s this pro-inflammatory cytokine called TNF alpha. It’s much related to all types of disease from diabetes to any disease that’s out there. You’re going to find an abundance of this TNF. Something that we don’t want necessarily a lot of but in therapy, our body releases something called norepinephrine also known as noradrenaline. It acts as an inhibitor of TNF alpha, which is this pro-inflammation cytokine.  

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It’s helping our body to reduce inflammation naturally without a steroid injection, medication, pill over the counter, pharmaceuticals, or anything like that. That’s going to have side effects. Noradrenaline does that on its own. It’s creating some medicine. Other things that I like that I consider a positive benefit of cold water therapy or ice bath is you are training your nervous system. When you stay in cold, the first thing that happens is your breathing changes. You can catch breath, rapid, shallow breathing. You go into a fight or flight mode, which is an activation of the sympathetic nervous system and your body and mind are saying, “Get the hell out here.” 

With training, using different techniques and methods, changing everything, and mentally surrendering, you are learning how to adapt to stress in a positive way because you are living in stress, breathing through stress, and surrendering to stress. This is a type of hormesis and allows us to react and adapt to stress in a more positive way which builds emotional and mental resilience. Those are two benefits. You get other benefits such as metabolism. Your body will use visceral fat to produce heat. It’s a process called thermogenesis. Our body will start to brown fat.  

Once it starts to brown fat, it will use the visceral white fat, which is the stuff around our organs and stuff that leads to cardiovascular disease. It will use that visceral fat as key production, which means it’s reducing visceral fat over time so it’s great for metabolism as well and aid in weight loss. It’s good for mental because big doses of norepinephrine are released into the bloodstream almost immediately. That has a positive impact on mood, focus and attention. That’s why we feel that presence. We feel a little bit more connected.  

Also, it has been shown to have a positive effect on our brainwave states because it’s taking our brainwaves out of this high beta range or external thinking into the lower brainwave states, which are like alpha and theta wave states. You’re not worried about what you need to do later on or what you should have or could have done earlier this morning or yesterday. It’s much right here, right now. That’s the beauty of it. When you get into those moments of right here, right now, your brain starts to calm down and becomes less aroused. Your inner world starts to become more real than your outer world.  

What’s beautiful about this is your mind is more suggestible when it’s in the theta state. You do your prayers and morning breathwork, which is a great time to do it. My personal practice is I do my prayers and affirmations in the ice bath because my mind is in this suggestible state and my attention is internally within. I’m using these mantras, prayers, and attunements to help change my vibration, frequency, and calling good things in my life.  

There’s another benefit that I see from cold baths. I produce more energy. We’ve talked about the feel-good hormones, and the positive effects on inflammation and metabolism because of visceral fat reduction. I would say those are the main ones. There are other benefits like circulation, so think about it. When you go into the cold, your blood is pulling from the extremities into the core. This is like a survival mechanism. It’s going to keep your organs at the temperature that it needs to be at. When you get out of the ice bath, what’s happening is that all that blood is reflowing back to the extremities. We have 100,000 miles of the circulatory system in our body blood vessels. It’s hard to even fathom.  

I just googled it. Don’t take my word for it. That’s how much blood circulation we have in our bodies. Think about that. By opening and closing, because vagal constriction occurs when you go cold or when you go into the heat, or you get out and start to open up, you’re starting to move blood and make this vascular system less rigid. Improved circulation is one of the key indicators for health and wellness. It’s overlooked quite a bit and it’s not talked about enough. It’s important for overall health. There are some benefits of cold water.  

There are a few benefits. For me, there’s a drastic change that happens after I do an ice bath. I go over to Optimyze almost every single day and I feel amazing. Any racing thoughts that I had are gone. I’m able to be present. I’m not thinking about the future and the past. I’m completely present, I’m in a zen state, and I sleep well. I’ve got nothing on my mind. It’s a beautiful thing. Let’s talk about red light therapy. People ask me, “Do you feel different?” I don’t know if I would say I feel a drastic difference. It’s one of the things I do, but I want you to talk about it. What are the benefits of red light therapy? 

A little bit of history first because I love history. It was originally created by NASA to help grow plants in outer space. That’s where it comes from. The sun also emits infrared rays and red light therapy. When people refer to red light therapy, I want you to notice two types of technology that they’re working with, which are red light wavelengths and near-infrared rays. That’s what your body is absorbing when you’re standing in front of those panels that you see out there on social media or wherever else. When the sun is coming up in the morning and when it’s coming down in the evening, one thing you will notice is that it’s amber.  

The amber is what’s producing a lot of those red light rays that are being put out into the field at that time. This is all point photobiomodulation, light therapy. Our bodies need light. In ourselves, we know that. Our body is made up of millions and billions of cells and our cells have mitochondria. Mitochondria is like little battery packs. To decline in mitochondria is agent. We can correlate agent with the decline of our mitochondria. If you smoke cigarettes, have a lot of unhealthy habits, want to drink a lot, don’t want to get good sleep, want to stare at screens late at night, do all these bad habits, eat high inflammatory foods and all that kind of stuff, if you want to live a life like that, you can.  

Essentially, what most likely will happen is that aging will occur faster and the decline in mitochondria will occur faster. If you want to slow that down, take care of yourself, and slow down the aging process, red light therapy is a great therapy. It was originally created by NASA. What he found was it was healing the scars on his hand. He was like, “This could be used as a therapeutic device,” and then it’s come a long way, but now they use these LED lights. It was originally lasers. LED lights help your mitochondria to create more cellular energy. When your cells are energized, they do their job better, just like anything else.  

When they do their job better, they’re going to produce collagen. They help with pain and inflammation. For men, they can help raise natural testosterone levels because of link cells. They can help with scar tissue but also produce more energy. Ultimately, when you’re doing red light therapy, you are helping your mitochondria to create more ATP energy. There’s some science for you. It’s great therapy and it’s only ten minutes a day. That’s why I love it so much because it’s easy and cost-effective.  

What are some of the main bullet points? If you were to give me six bullet points of the benefits of red light therapy, what are they? 

ILBS 23 | Natural Healing

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Number one cellular energy, for sure. The other one would be it helps with pain and inflammation because of the near-infrared rays. It helps with the production of collagen, which is skin health, which of course we all want. Whether it’s trying to kill a tissue or it’s just looking more youthful. It’s been shown to improve sexual health because it’s a vessel dilator. It’s opening up the vascular system, which is improving blood flow and circulation, and also nitric oxide, which is also a vessel dilator, which essentially how arousal works if you want to get into it.  

Testosterone hormones are wonderful. I have my personal story of how it helps to get your body to create its own natural testosterone rather than having to rely on pharmaceutical and medical intervention as you get older. Naturally, as you get older, what’s going to happen is testosterone is slowly declining especially in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and so on. If you keep your hormones up, you have more of that longevity, more vibrant, more energetic, and all those types of things. Cellular energy, inflammation, circulation, sexual health and pain are the main bullet points. 

What do you want people to have taken away from our talk? 

Thank you for asking. There are many things we covered. We covered a wide variety of topics. We covered science, theory, and the story of how I got from A to B. I don’t have all the answers by any means. I’m just a seeker. I’m always looking to be better. My take for the audience would be not to stop exploring. You have more influence than you think you have, especially as you dive and learn more about how this operating system of the mind and how this machinery of the body works. We have more influence and we are more capable than we think.  

Lastly, I would say that discipline is the key to happiness. If you’re looking for happiness, which we all are no matter what our differences are, because we do have lots of differences, but we’re more alike than we are different. If you apply discipline in certain areas of life that you’re lacking in your physical fitness, diet or sleep patterns, it results in a wide variety of the spectrum. You’ll learn that when you follow through, you say what you’re going to do and you do it, ultimately, you will feel better in your nervous system, serotonin, and all those things. The science stuff will respond to those behaviors in a positive way but you need to apply discipline first.  

I’m not perfect. I have bounced around. Eating poor and getting away from some of my better habits, but I always find my way back. The fast you can find your way back, the better. If you take two months, where you get off track for months, now you’re in trouble. If you get off track for a week and now you’re back on track again, then you’re doing all right. Don’t be so hard on yourself either. Be smart, reduce the amount of time that it takes you to get back on track. Hopefully, you’ll be feeling better with that. It’s all about the journey. There’s a lot to explore. It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful time to be alive.  

Michael, how can people find you? 

I’m the Cofounder of a center here at Phoenix called Optimyze. We’re on 38th Street Indian School right in the heart of Arcadia. We have another extension that will be opening in Tempe. We would love to have you come and do an Optimyze set or session and get access to these benefits. You can find me personally on Instagram. I go by @Michael_The_Arc. I also have a Facebook page. I also teach the Wim Hof Method Fundamentals course here in the Valley. If you’re interested in these types of discussion, these types of lessons, and going through the process and being guided, then you’ll love this workshop. I invite you to come and check it out.  

I would attest to that. I took the Fundamentals workshop and it was amazing. It gave me such a great foundation for the Wim Hof Method. I was doing ice baths and breathwork prior to doing the Fundamentals course and after the Fundamentals course. Digging in and learning more about it was such an amazing thing. There were six people in the class when I took it and there were 200 pounds of ice in the ice bath.  

The water was at 28 degrees and all six people got in that water for 90 seconds. It was such an amazing thing to do breathwork correctly around people because there’s the energy of the people and the energy in the room. Every one of us was able to do the ice bath for over 90 seconds, which was a beautiful thing. Michael, thank you. I appreciate you. I got a lot out of our conversation. Thanks, everybody. I hope you have a wonderful day.  

Thank you. Thanks for allowing me to share my story and hopefully inspire someone else to try these different techniques. Thanks again, Tim. I look forward to seeing you soon.  

It sounds good. 

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About Michael Roviello

ILBS 23 | Natural HealingFrom my previous role as U.S Navy Helicopter Search and Rescue Swimmer our Motto is “So Others May Live” to my current career embracing and sharing Wim Hof’s message of “Healthy, Happy and Strong”, and co-founder of Optimyze, Mind, Body, Breath, Michael continues to learn and grow gaining a deeper understanding of self and how the elements of nature can help us to understand our mind, body and spirit.

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