Posts

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. 

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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.  

You can't really experience growth if you're not willing to be uncomfortable. Click To Tweet

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.  

Life will always move you in the direction to try to break down those walls. Click To Tweet

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.  

Discipline is the key to happiness. Click To Tweet

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. 

Important Links: 

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.

Peer Support: Standing Proud Helping One Another

Recovery can be a challenging process for anyone. Change—even change for the better—can be one of the most stressful aspects of life, and recovery is all about change! Remind yourself that you are not alone in your recovery. Your peers will be proud to help you. Peers in recovery have been through similar struggles and may have overcome similar obstacles. They might have tips on recovery or coping skills that they can teach you. Overall, your peers can support you and help you to build a sense of community in your recovery process. You may also help your peers during their recovery by listening to them, helping them when they struggle, and supporting them as partners along the pathway to wellness.

Support as a Pillar of Recovery 

Support is one of the five pillars of many recovery programs, along with accountability, structure, community, and purpose. Support is incredibly important for you to both begin and maintain your recovery. While in a long-term recovery treatment program, such as a sober living home, you might be living with a group of peers and staff within a supportive environment. Not only will you be supporting one another in recovery, but you will be supporting one another in your daily life. Your peers may help you in your recovery by teaching you new skills or by leading group sessions. Your peers may be further along in their recovery, in the same stage, or newer to the process. Wherever your peers are in their recovery, they may offer support in solidarity, as you offer them the same, during your treatment.

Group Therapy Sessions and the Power of Vulnerability

While you are in a treatment program, you will likely be invited to participate in peer support groups. Some of these groups may be separated by gender; by addictive behaviors, like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous; by co-occurring disorders, like Anxiety Support Groups; or by specific issues, like a Bereavement group. During your group therapy sessions, you will hear from others, who have experienced issues similar to what you have experienced. Your peers in group sessions may have an understanding of your struggles in a way that others cannot comprehend. Sometimes, when speaking to our immediate supporters, like family and friends, we may feel that they cannot relate to our problems. Group therapy sessions can help us connect with others and allow us to be vulnerable as we open up about our emotions.

Our vulnerability can be a powerful aspect of our recovery, as we expose deep emotions to others. While we may not feel comfortable opening up to others, with support from our peers in group sessions, we may feel inspired to express otherwise hidden emotions as we hear others express themselves. Healing from painful emotions can be difficult and often require us to re-experience the pain to recover. We may need to open up old wounds during recovery. Being vulnerable may be much more bearable in a supportive environment surrounded by peers, who have also been in similar positions. Group therapy sessions offer us a safe place to express painful memories and emotions while learning from our peers. You may benefit from finding peer support by seeking groups specific to your current struggles and addictions.

Learning to Care for Yourself by Supporting Others

For some of us in recovery, we struggle with not having supportive families or friends. Maybe our family and friends have the best intentions, yet they do not understand our struggles. They may also have given up on helping us due to the complex emotions they feel about our past behaviors. When we surround ourselves with people who do not seem to care for us or who enable our addictions, we may not know how to take care of ourselves. Recovery programs can offer us the support we need to deal with our struggles and provide us with opportunities to help others.

While you are in a recovery program, you may find yourself helping others through their issues, as you work through your own. Sometimes, learning how to help others can be a model for how to help ourselves. For example, if the voice inside your own head is negative and self-defeating, consider talking to yourself as you would talk to another peer struggling with the same issue. When we help others, we learn how to help ourselves. We also may learn from the examples of others by observing other peers supporting one another. As you help your peers and offer support, you may discover a sense of belonging and community within your peer group. You and your peers may help to hold each other accountable for achieving your recovery goals. By standing proudly to help one another, peers can build a supportive environment where recovery is possible. 

 

Finding a supportive environment for recovery is a key component to success. Some of us do not have support in our homes or communities. We may continue to struggle separating from those enabling our addictions. While we know that these environments may not be healthy or helpful, we might feel afraid of being alone without them. Peer support can help you to find a sense of community and belonging that you may be lacking. Support is one of the pillars of many recovery programs, and peer support is a way of connecting with others, who may share our unique experiences and struggles. Camelback Recovery offers a safe and supportive environment within a sober living home for you to learn healthy lifestyle skills for your recovery. 

Call us today at (602) 466-9880 for more information on how we can help you or someone you love!

Will My Children Ever Forgive Me?

As a child, seeing our mothers’ experience and struggle with mental illness is an incredibly difficult thing. We see them struggling day in and day out, and that can be confusing for a child who has yet to develop a stable conception of the world. Our mothers are our examples, our inspiration on how to act and behave.

When we see them behaving oddly or differently from how we have been taught to behave, we can be thrown for a loop. Furthermore, there can be a certain amount of blame that we can put on ourselves, which is even worse. A child who feels responsible for their mother’s sadness is more likely to experience heightened senses of anxiety and depression, as shown in research.

According to a new study performed by researchers at Southern Methodist University, children who feel blame for the sadness of their mothers can be more susceptible to these kinds of emotions and negative feelings themselves.

What Do Experts Say?

As explained by SMU family psychologist, Dr. Chrystyna Kouros: “Although mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms face increased risk that their children will also experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, our study showed that this was not the case for all children… Rather, it was those children who felt they were to blame for their mother’s sadness or depression … that had higher levels of internalizing symptoms.”

Kouros explains how vital it is for parents, or anyone else who frequently interacts with children, to pay close attention to the kinds of comments children make about their mother. If the child is expressing a belief that they are to blame, an adult must intervene.

The research was based on surveys completed by 129 mothers from the Dallas-Fort Worth community through schools, flyers, and the internet. On average, children included in the study were 13 years of age. The mothers in the study were asked to agree or disagree with 20 statements, such as “I could not shake off the blues” or “I lost interest in my usual activities.”

These answers were used to assess whether or not they were experiencing any kind of depressive symptoms. The study results found that nearly 12% of the women surveyed showed potentially clinical levels of depressive symptoms. The mothers were also asked whether their kids were experiencing any symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Why Do Kids Blame Themselves?

The kids were asked to complete a total of four surveys to see if they were dealing with any of these symptoms and whether they blamed themselves for their mothers’ symptoms. As Kouros explains, there are two possible reasons children may be likely to feel this blame for their mothers’ emotional struggles. The first is that children who feel this blame may be more likely to ruminate on their mother’s emotions.

Research shows that rumination on stressful things, especially those out of our control, can cause anxiety and depression to form. Second, a child who feels the blame can be more likely to try and remedy the situation with improper coping techniques. As a result, children experience feelings of loneliness, failure, and low self-worth—all of this because the child was misattributing their mother’s struggles to themselves.

The Way Forward

Of course, therapy can be a great way to help a child who is struggling with this blame. If you know a child, either your own or not, experiencing some form of guilt for the way their parents are feeling, consider recommending a therapist. Therapies that target negative thoughts can be especially helpful for such a child.

The study also notes that further research needs to be done to see if there is a link between a father’s issues and their child. The tie between a mother and her child is an incredibly strong one. The stressors affecting one can quickly impact the other as well.

Understanding that link is vital to understanding how we can improve these relationships and help children in need. They don’t deserve to feel any blame for something that is out of their hands, and they must be taught not to feel responsible for these things.

Starting the right conversations with kids can help them become better prepared for life ahead. We don’t need to let our children suffer along with us. Instead, we need to affirm to them that they are the bright spots of our lives. Our sadness is our own, and we are working through it. Once we can express this adequately to our children, we can relieve them of the burden of guilt.

If you’re a parent in recovery, watching the impact of your addiction on your children is heartbreaking. Fortunately, you have found a way out and can begin repairing your relationship with your child. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Sobriety is not as uncharted as it may seem. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.

Finding Ourselves in Nature

Staying holed up inside for long periods can lead to some very unhealthy habits. You are more likely to start avoiding people, developing an anti-social pattern of behavior. Pushing yourself to go outside can help you build a lot of social skills and help you construct a reliable support system that you can depend on. But it is so much more than just meeting and talking with people – going outside is the best way to get in touch with nature.

You don’t even need to be with anyone. There have been many studies proving that if you are struggling with something or feeling low, the best medicine can be to go outside and into nature. While there are benefits to taking a walk in your neighborhood, there is something remarkable about going into nature and away from civilization. Hiking is a popular pastime for many reasons.

For one thing, getting into nature is calming, which means that it can be a perfect medicine for anyone who is dealing with mental illness or substance abuse. We have known these effects for a while, with a study coming out in 2015, proving that nature can do a lot to help you overcome whatever may be ailing you at the moment. The study confirmed the idea that nature really is a safe place and something that deserves to be respected and preserved.

Studies Show The Benefits of the Natural World

The study was designed to compare a group of people who went for walks out in nature with a group of people who went for walks in a more urban environment. The two groups would go for 90-minute walks, one in an open, wooded area and the other in a traffic-clustered, busy area.

Afterward, the researchers measured heart and respiratory rates, performed brain scans to see any differences in activity, and had the participants take part in questionnaires. While the researchers found very little difference in physiological conditions, there were noticeable differences in brain activity.

Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex decreased among the participants who went for a walk in nature, as opposed to those who went for a walk in the city. These findings point to the impact that nature can have on a person’s mental health. They also indicate that the increase in urbanization is related to an increase in mental illness.

The Problems with Modernity

More than half of the world’s population lives in an urban setting, which means that a majority of our population is poised to develop some kind of mental illness. The risk of having anxiety from living within an urban area is significantly higher, as well as the risk of developing a mood disorder. People who are born and raised within a city environment are more likely to develop severe conditions, like schizophrenia.

This means that urban planners and builders have to keep this kind of connection in mind when considering expanding or moving into natural areas. While it is essential to give people access to places to live, it is also vital for our mental health to have access to nature, particularly when we are facing something tough. It can be a safe haven for us to escape to when life is getting to be too much for us.

It is another reason why people are so defensive of our natural areas; it isn’t just about sticking up for other species of animals, plants, and more – although that is very important – it is also about preserving a place that we find comforting. We seek the comfort of nature to help us feel level and human again.

Use Nature as a Balm

So the next time you are struggling with something and finding yourself wanting to stay inside, consider going for a hike. It is something that you can do alone, and won’t have to worry about socializing with other people. It can be the perfect compromise so that you aren’t keeping yourself cut off from the world.

Like we said, doing so will cause some incredibly unhealthy habits to form, and that is something you need to avoid. All you have to do is a little research to find a place you can go to in your area. You don’t have to go far, necessarily, just anywhere where you can feel in touch with nature.

Once you do, you have found a place of safety for you, a sanctuary. That is something incredibly valuable for someone who is struggling. So don’t worry about finding the next appointment, medicine, or doctor; sometimes, the best thing for you is just walking out the door.

Nature is an exciting place to calm our minds and soothe our souls. Without a solid foundation for recovery, however, we’ll hardly be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of Mother Nature. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Sobriety is not as uncharted as it may seem. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.

Are There Any Alternatives to Talk Therapy?

Most of us have heard of traditional talk therapy. Typically, it conjures up images of lying on a couch while discussing our problems with a therapist, who then provides insight and feedback about our feelings. While talk therapy may be useful for some clients in recovery, those with traumatic past experiences or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may find it challenging to open up to a therapist. Often, this is because reliving the traumatic experience is too painful for them.

Two other types of therapy worth considering for clients struggling with traumatic memories include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Brainspotting. Both EMDR and Brainspotting are similar to talk therapy because they both require you to speak to a therapist about traumatic memories. However, EMDR and Brainspotting incorporate the “mind-body connection” to help you process your traumatic memories.

By combining these connections into the therapy, clients can discuss their feelings while simultaneously feeling calm and safe. When clients with trauma and PTSD feel safe, they find opening up about past experiences to be less painful. Before discussing each therapy, let’s clarify what we mean by the “mind-body connection.”

What is the Mind-Body Connection?

Alternatively known as the brain-body connection, the mind-body connection is the idea that our emotions, including traumatic experiences, are held in the physical body. For example, did you know that even faking a smile can help to alleviate negative feelings? The brain associates the muscle movements of a smile with positive emotions. In other words, feeling happy makes you smile, and smiling can make you feel happy!

Similarly, traumatic experiences and symptoms of PTSD create connections between the mind and the body. A client with a history of trauma often reacts in their bodily movements when thinking about past events. Additionally, a client might notice that specific physical movements trigger them to experience feelings of trauma. Both EMDR and Brainspotting incorporate the mind-body connection to treat clients dealing with negative emotions from traumatic experiences. Let’s look at a brief overview of each to understand the similarities and differences.

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, was developed in 1989 by Francine Shapiro. During an EMDR session, a therapist guides a client through repetitive steps to help desensitize the client to their negative emotions. The client is asked to discuss and to focus on the traumatic events and emotions while experiencing bilateral stimulation, or rhythmic movements between the left and right side of the body.

Examples of bilateral stimulation include eye movement from left to right, body tapping from one side of the body to the other, or auditory input from the left and right ears. Bilateral stimulation creates a calming and relaxing effect on the body and mind. As the client experiences the positive, calming effect of bilateral stimulation, they can gradually begin to lessen the negative feelings associated with a traumatic event.

EMDR works on the premise that healing from trauma is similar to healing from physical pain. Think of EMDR like stretching after a workout: the muscles recover from the stress of exercise by stretching and allowing the body to relax. EMDR allows the mind to heal by processing the feelings associated with trauma while the body is calm and relaxed. When the brain feels safe enough to explore traumatic feelings, it can begin to heal. The client can also experience their emotions in a non-threatening environment with the guidance of a therapist.

Brainspotting

Like EMDR, Brainspotting also treats trauma using the mind-body connection. Developed in 2003 by David Grand, brainspotting begins with the therapist identifying a client’s “brainspot.” A “brainspot” is a spot in the client’s visual field that, when focusing the eye in this area, causes the client to experience the negative feelings associated with a traumatic event.

To find the brainspot, the therapist waves a pen-shaped object in a specific pattern in front of the client’s eyes. Once the client’s eyes are focused on the brainspot position, they will have a reflexive response occurring outside of the client’s conscious awareness. Examples of reflexive responses can be eye twitches, swallowing, yawning, coughing, or shifting the body. Most commonly, the unconscious response will be in the form of facial expressions. The therapist looks for these responses while following the client’s eye movements.

Once a brainspot is found, the therapist will hold this eye position as the client focuses on and discusses the traumatic experience. Brainspotting, like EMDR, allows the client to experience negative emotions in a safe environment with a therapist’s guidance. Brainspotting does not involve as much repetition as EMDR. However, some clients prefer the rigid structure of EMDR. Both therapies have been shown to alleviate symptoms of trauma and offer an alternative to traditional talk therapy.

If you’ve suffered trauma or PTSD secondary to your addiction, recovery is not out of reach. Every day, people find alternatives to traditional recovery strategies which work for their specific psychological profile. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Through a holistic recovery program, you can overcome the trauma of your past – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.

Why Family Members of Addicts Should Seek Treatment Too

Addiction does not only affect those who are using. It affects everyone around them, leaving loved ones feeling betrayed, traumatized, angry, overwhelmed, sad, and lied to. Often, there are fights, slammed doors, and sleepless nights fueled by anxiety and stress. For these reasons, it is crucial for the family members of addicts to seek treatment to address your needs and help you learn how to support your loved one properly.

The Roles of Family Members During Addiction

There are various roles that loved ones of addicts take on to survive the stress of the addiction happening in their world. Many family members overcompensate for their addicted loved one, typically falling into one of three categories:

  • Persecutor: This person is often controlling, angry, distant, and believes that punishing their addicted loved one will fix the problems in the family. They also tend to isolate themselves from the issues and other family members.
  • Protector: This person is more naive and takes on a caretaker role, which often results in enabling addictive behaviors as they believe love will fix the problem. They tend to become overly involved in the situation.
  • Blamer: This person avoids taking responsibility for the problem. Instead of dealing with it head-on, they tend to project the blame onto others in the family in a form of scapegoating.

Benefits of Family Treatment

Addiction is a chronic disease. Treatment and support can offer a better understanding of addiction and the recovery process, so family members can help their loved one in the proper ways. Treatment and support can also help family members heal from the damage and pain that has occurred, enabling them to empathize with others who have gone through the ordeal of loving someone who is suffering from addiction.

Utilizing the resources offered by support groups can give you the necessary coping skills to take care of yourself first and then learn ways to help your loved one through this difficult time. Families as a whole experience various emotions during the process of addiction, as their loved one refuses to get help. These emotions encompass sadness, anger, and grief. Other emotions commonly felt include fear, doubt, and worry once the addict enters detox or rehab.

Support Groups

Support groups are typically free of charge, which can be a big help when money is being spent on your loved one’s recovery in a rehabilitation program or treatment center. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can be expensive, but this does not mean there are not affordable options for you to seek help.

Support groups such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Co-Dependents Anonymous are free of charge and open to those who have someone they love going through substance abuse. These groups can help by allowing you to discuss your thoughts and feelings in a judgment-free zone with like-minded people who empathize. They can also teach you to recognize enabling behavior, set boundaries, and talk with others who understand your situation.

Educate Yourself

Your loved one needs all the support they can get. But when a recovering addict sees their loved ones making an effort to get help and understand their situation, they will be more likely to stick to their recovery plan. In fact, studies show that when family members take an active role in the recovery process, relapse rates are lower.

This is likely because family involvement shows the recovering individual that they are actively participating in their efforts as well — everyone is working towards the same goal. The family will also benefit from getting help by being able to speak openly and honestly from a more educated position.

Alleviating the Guilt

Loved ones of addicts often feel tremendous guilt concerning the addiction. It must be said that addiction is a chronic disease that can never be cured, but it can be treated and managed. Therefore, curing and healing your loved one should not be your responsibility.

When you learn about addiction and all that it encompasses, you can begin to actively support your loved one in a healthy and more informed way. Thinking that you can and should do certain things to help them heal are misconceptions, often hurting you and them more than helping.

Take into account the three C’s of recovery offered by Al-Anon:

  • I didn’t CAUSE it.
  • I can’t CURE it.
  • I can’t CONTROL it.

These are written specifically to teach family members of addicts that it is not their fault their loved one fell into the grip of addiction. Understanding this fact can alleviate feelings of guilt and allow you to take the proper steps to help yourself and your loved one.

You Are Not Alone

Remember that you are not alone in your pain and grief during this difficult time. There are groups of like-minded people who have been through what you are going through and can offer support.

Loved ones of addicts are often forgotten as they try to help the person going through substance abuse. Trying to help your loved one is virtuous and important, but you cannot properly help them without first taking care of yourself and your needs. After all, you cannot pour from an empty glass.

Educating yourself on addiction helps you to take the necessary steps to provide support for your loved one. With transitional living homes across the state of Arizona, Camelback Recovery is available to answer any questions you may have. We understand exactly what you’re going through, and we are here to help. Call us today at (602) 466-9880.

Explaining 12-Step Programs

Addiction support groups and treatment centers utilize 12-Step programs to help those struggling with addiction as they go through recovery. These programs lay out a definitive list of actions to gradually move the person forward towards a life of sobriety.

Step One

“Admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step One is all about admitting that addiction is beyond your control and the way you have been living your life just isn’t working. After accepting this, the person is more likely to accept help and enter recovery.

There are two words that are crucial for this step: powerless and unmanageable. Understand that you are powerless to addiction, as it is a chronic disease. You can work to treat and manage it, but it will never be cured. Addiction causes your life to be unmanageable. Better decisions must be made to live a healthy and fulfilling life of sobriety.

Step Two

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

This step is about hope and being able to gain guidance and strength outside of yourself. You must put aside your ego to accept help from a higher power. This doesn’t necessarily mean religion — it could also be fate, karma, your sponsor, or even the recovery process itself. Finding inspiration to help you stay sober outside of yourself is crucial to your recovery.

Step Three

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Again, this is not about religion, but “God as we understood Him.” This refers to whatever your higher power is. This step is more about action by getting out of your own way and placing your faith in the higher power. You are less likely to give in to urges when you are putting faith in something other than yourself.

Step Four

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

This step helps you to eliminate denials and justifications. You cannot change without knowing what needs to be changed. Take an in-depth inventory of yourself that is open and honest. Being vulnerable can be difficult, but you must be ready to acknowledge your faults and properly analyze them to recover.

Step Five

“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

This step is crucial after taking a personal inventory, as it discusses the things you have learned about yourself during the process with someone else. This step can relieve you of guilt and shame by putting these things out in the open. As the saying goes, confession is good for the soul.

Step Six

“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

This step involves releasing all of the past behaviors and attitudes you analyzed in the previous steps, which changes your perspective and moves you more forward towards recovery.

Step Seven

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

This step is reminiscent of the third step but is more specific. Here, you learn the virtue of humility by admitting that your way of living wasn’t healthy or right. You recognize your flaws and limits in order to understand the power that your higher power holds. Your higher power can change your life in ways you cannot.

Step Eight

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

This step helps you understand how your actions hurt others. By taking the perspective away from yourself and focusing on how addiction affects those around you, you are reminded of the ways you hurt your loved ones. Here, you will confront the guilt associated with your addiction to prepare to make amends.

Step Nine

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

This step requires you to show your willingness to make amends with those you have hurt by asking for forgiveness. Have courage when facing those you hurt when you were in the midst of addiction. However, do not put yourself or others in harm’s way when doing this, such as experiencing further trauma or implicating others in a criminal act.

Step Ten

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Step Ten is about continual growth by reinforcing the lessons of the preceding steps. Here, you focus on consistently improving yourself instead of making excuses and giving up. This step works to prevent you from ever going back to using or drinking again.

Step Eleven

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

A spiritual step, this is about talking and listening to your higher power. Prayer and meditation show an active effort in trying to understand the path that your higher power has made for you. Set aside your ego and listen.

Step Twelve

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

This step is all about being selfless and helping your own sobriety by helping others who are struggling. It reminds you of where you came from. By helping others, you will have a sense of purpose and help those in need through empathizing.

Camelback Recovery offers a 12-Step program to help its residents recognize and overcome their addictions. These sober living homes are changing lives through the use of fellowship, recovery coaching, therapy, sober companions, and more by providing an independent living home with structure. Those in recovery can learn to manage their life on their own, and the 12-Steps help with this in many ways. To learn more, call Camelback Recovery today at (602) 466-9880.

Why Do Sex Addicts Need a Supportive Community at the Start of Treatment?

Like any other addiction, starting treatment for sex addiction can be a challenging yet hopeful experience. Having a supportive community around you can mean the difference between relapse and long-term recovery.

The Definition of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction can be characterized by a multitude of different damaging actions with oneself or with others that are caused by a compulsive sexual desire. Common actions of those with sex addictions include:

  • Not being able to set limits on their sexual urges
  • Having guilt and shame because of their sexual behavior, but they cannot stop
  • Having negative consequences because of their sexual behavior (i.e. losing a job, breaking off a relationship, financial troubles, legal problems, etc.)
  • Ignoring personal obligations and responsibilities so they can take part in more sex or sexual fantasies
  • Using resources such as porn, prostitution, and cybersex to fulfill their desires
  • Needing to escalate their sexual behavior to get the same high
  • Spending an unprecedented amount of time chasing after or engaging in sex
  • Trying to stop their sexual behavior but relapsing when they are confronted with stress

Sex addiction is often accompanied by other mental health concerns. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Trauma or PTSD
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders (especially binge eating)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder or OCD)
  • Other behavioral addictions (i.e. gambling, shopping)

Treatment for Sex Addiction

There are various types of treatment for sex addiction. Medication, therapy, 12-Step programs, support groups, treatment centers, and other research-based models are used to treat those in need. Treatment is mainly focused on having a community of support to lean on as you learn to cope with your addiction.

Support Groups

 

Individuals going through recovery for sex addiction need a strong support network. This is important because everyone in the support group holds themselves and each other accountable in their journey to recovery.

Therapy

Various therapies can be used to treat different aspects of sex addiction. Sex addiction can be extremely damaging not just to the individual, but to their loved ones, their family, and many other aspects of their life.

Therapies commonly used for sex addiction include:

  • Individual/group therapy
  • Couples therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (and other evidence-based therapies)
  • Experiential and alternative therapies
  • 12-Step programs (i.e. Sex Addicts Anonymous)

Treatment Centers

Treatment centers combine a number of tools to help someone heal from sex addiction. The different programs and services offered are primarily focused on building a community of support for the individual to lean on as they go through the different steps to recovery.

Community Support

Community support is crucial in healing. Treatment centers focus on this to make you more comfortable with sharing your struggles and concerns openly and honestly. With a supportive network of other past sex addicts, you can support each other through your shared desire for healing.

Therapies

Treatment centers offer a number of therapies, including the ones listed above. These help the addict learn to open up, trust again, and explore their feelings towards their addiction. Learning the causes of their addiction and how to cope in healthy ways can be transformative in the healing process.

Relationship Rebuilding

Support from your loved ones is everything and can often help prevent a relapse. At a treatment center, you can work on skills to rebuild your relationships with loved ones to help regain their trust and understanding.

It Takes A Village

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have been drawn to living and working amongst other humans. The core of this is the feeling of belonging. Humans want to feel as though they are a part of something bigger. This is why community support is vital in recovery for sex addiction.

Leaning on others in a time of need can help with feelings of isolation and depression. Being around other people with the same goals as you can also help your mindset. You help drive each other to the common goal. This way, you aren’t surrounded by those who could tempt you into bad habits. Socializing with others in recovery can help them empathize with you and help you learn how to have healthy, lasting relationships with like-minded people. Remember, “sober relationships support sober lifestyles.”

Your best bet in recovery is to seek out others who are also getting sober to create a support network. This way, people can empathize and give advice when you have bad days because they have lived through the experience. By cultivating these relationships with other sober individuals, you are encouraging open and honest communication. A sense of fellowship will create a deep bond between you, creating a stable foundation for your recovery.

Giving Back

Giving back to the community can give you a sense of purpose. It can also keep you bonded to these individuals who constantly encourage your healing. You can give back by mentoring others, educating those in need, and sharing your story. This can be incredibly validating for those just starting recovery, so they can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Finding a support community can be difficult if you are unsure where to look. Sober living homes are a great option to learn how to cope with your addiction so you can lead a happier, more fulfilling life. You can also learn new techniques that have worked for others to help maintain your abstinence from harmful sexual behaviors. Your supportive community is waiting for you! Call Camelback Recovery today at (602) 466-9880.