I was in my 20’s. It was Christmas Eve and we were celebrating the holidays as a family. My Mom decided to put on some old family videos of when my brothers and I were younger. We all dreaded the family videos but none the less we all sat there in the living room to please Mom. After a few minutes of watching myself, I must have been four years old at the time, I couldn’t help but wonder where this joyous, happy spirit went. As a kid I loved being the center of attention and constantly found myself in trouble for talking too much. One teacher was at a loss for how to handle my energy so she decided to take my chair away for the day. Of course this only made matters worse so her next move was to put my desk in the hallway for a few days. That worked! I hated being isolated from the rest of the class so I begged to be let back in.
Things started to change around grade 7. Out of the blue, I would get these sudden rushes of anxiety and as I got older these rushes became more and more frequent. As a way to protect against this I would go out of my way to avoid people and potentially awkward situations. I would just spend hours in the basketball gym shooting hoops alone or with a few friends. My anxiety got progressively worse to the point where I had very few close friends and to cope with the anxiety and fear I would further isolate myself.
I played basketball throughout high school and one year in college and my fear followed me onto the court as well. Every time I shot the ball fear would be right there in my ear whispering, “Don’t miss, everyone is watching.” I tried to fight these voices off at first then I tried to ignore them but it didn’t help. I just had to deal with it and my game and life suffered as a result.
I played one year of college basketball and quit; after that I was completely lost and unmotivated. Every day I would get up, move to the couch and watch the same reruns day after day. This lasted for months and eventually I lost all contact with friends and felt very alone. I couldn’t escape the fear; it effected all aspects of my life. Any time I wanted to ask a girl out, go to a house party or just hang out and have fun my anxiety and fear would kick in and I’d resort to the safe option and stay at home.
After college I needed to find a job but I couldn’t even go to local businesses to handout resumes. I would drive to stores and just sit in the parking lot visualizing how they were going to reject me and my resume. Along the way I tried to start a shaved ice business. I bought all the equipment, I used the kitchen as my testing lab trying to get the right consistency and taste. I couldn’t get the recipe right so I decided to contact companies to get more information on different stabilizers and thickeners that I could experiment with. But when the time came to make the phone calls I froze the same way I did in the car attempting to handout resumes. For fifteen years I felt like a prisoner in my own mind.
Little gets discussed about mental health. In North America, I believe it’s the single biggest determinant of overall health, more than diet, fitness, sleep or environment and yet it’s the least talked about. In my case I was afraid to open up about it. I didn’t feel I had anywhere to go for help. On the surface I appeared healthy and physically fit but deep down I was sick. I had mental blocks that didn’t allow me to fully enjoy my life.
I saw others in my family exhibit similar patterns so I wasn’t sure if what I had was hereditary and genetic or a result of some past trauma but I didn’t care. I felt that if given the right opportunity and tools I could overcome it. That’s why when my friend and current business partner Isaac talked about opening a float center I jumped at the idea. I barely even knew what floating was at that time but I didn’t care. I needed a new challenge, something to direct my energy towards. I was also hoping that this experience would help combat by fears and it proved to be one of the best decisions of my life. Since opening FloatLife I've begun a transformation that has completely altered my outlook on life. I’ve had so many amazing and enriching experiences that have allowed me to breakthrough my fear and anxiety.
Three things that had the greatest impact on me were Podcasts, Floating and Psilocybin. I would spend hours listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast while working on the business. His mind blowing conversations transformed the way I viewed the world. Some of my favorite guests were Aubrey Marcus, Graham Hancock and Duncan Trussell. On many occasions I would listen to their podcasts then go for a late night float and ruminate on different ideas discussed. I could feel my world view shift with each podcast.
I remember one episode in particular where Rogan was talking about some of the challenges he experienced in his life. He talked about how at nineteen he was so insecure and anxious that he was afraid to talk to a bank teller. It's hard to believe that was the same guy that's now a successful comedian, UFC commentator, podcaster with millions of fans and ex TV show. Seeing his ability to overcome it gave me huge hope that I would as well.
Psilocybin was also instrumental in allowing me to breakthrough my anxiety. Just recently Psilocybin completed its 2nd Phase of clinical trials and the results that they are showing improvements for such as depression and anxiety are amazing. This isn't surprising given how much its improved my life. The first time I tried it I took a few grams in complete darkness. It was the most healing experience of my life. It allowed me to feel a love and connection with everything and everyone that I had never felt before. It also gave me a greater appreciation for life and a surge of energy to push forward and fight against the resistance I felt.
I used floating as a tool to integrate what I learned from those Psilocybin experiences. Now any time I'm feel stressed or experience anxiety I go for a float. It slows everything down and allows me to step outside any negative thought patterns. For the first part of every float I think about all the things I'm grateful for. After that I just focus on my breath and nothing else.
The intense work I did on myself allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and ask my beautiful wife out on our first date. It allowed me to write this blog post. It gave me strength to be a better more selfless human being. I'm so appreciative of all the enriching experiences I've had over the past three years and I continue to search for new things that will enhance my life as well as those around me.
I will continue to write more about my journey and the things that have been most beneficial. If you’re going through a challenging period or you just want to be a better version of yourself I encourage you to spend time expanding your knowledge, trying new things, and exploring this amazing planet. Also find your medicine; those few things that will recharge you and reinvigorate the soul. For me its floating, podcasts and plant medicines as well as running which I just started to do again and forgot how great it makes me feel. For you it could be dancing, creating art or building something. Whatever it is I encourage you to find it and embrace life!
Any time I come across something that inspires me I bookmark it and save it for when I need a pick me up. One I would like to share is an amazing blog post by Jon Morrow. I encourage you to read it and dream about your limitless possibilities.