Mark England is back to share the common stories that are popping up with his clients in light of Covid 19, language , breathwork, and how you can shape your mind.
Table Of Contents
- The Client Has Their Answers
- The Story Breath
- Stories Emerging From Covid-19
- Meeting Byron Katie
- Get Your Thoughts Down On Paper
- On Covid-19
- Watch What Everyone Else Does, and Do the Opposite
- Country Living Feels Better
The Client Has Their Answers
Mike: I'm curious. I'm curious. What are you working with right now? You work with clients every day. You're on the phone with clients every day, you're doing Zoom calls with the clients every day, you're helping them with distress, you're helping them with anxiety, you're helping them with … Some people are like, "I just want to optimize." But I imagine that there's a lot of perceived threat right now, which puts people into a much more sympathetic nervous system state where they start going in a fight, flight, freeze. They start making choices out of, what I call survival.
"Okay. I'm now in survival. Now I'm making decisions from, usually, a very poor place." So, what are you witnessing right now, with clients, that's coming up?
Mark: Talking a lot about breathing, man. I used to coach hard, Mike. I thought that I had to have the answers. I thought I had to be the wise one. What I have realized over the years is that the client has their answer, and it's right in front of their face, right under their nose, right between their ears. 90% of the time, if they down regulate, if they get their breathing in their abdomen, they can come to a conclusion, they can make choices that are out of that survival state, and are in much more of a, I know you've used this word before, creative state.
Same stories coming up
Mark: What I'm seeing in individual coaching calls and group coaching calls is while there's more virtual connectivity, there is less opportunity for people to be heard. So, my clients will get on and they'll just talk for 15 minutes, about the things that are stressing them, and a lot of times they're talking fast about it, Mike, because this thing is real, and it's in their face, and the threat is here. 90% of the time right there, I would say, "Cool, great. Take a couple of deep breaths. Tell me all of that again."
The past couple of sessions this week, it's the first half of each session has been each person really repeating the same story a couple of times, maybe three times at a slower and slower pace. So, they do get to down regulate, they get that sigh of relief of pressure. They're much more easy to talk to, and a lot of times they're able to see their options as opposed to their problems. Breathe. Breathe, motherfucker. Wim Hof said it. He said it and he was right.
The Story Breath
Mike: I don't even know if you've named it. I talk about it, the story breath. It's a vicious cycle. If you're breath is out of alignment, then your story is going to be a certain way. Your story is a certain way. It's going to cause your breath to do something. Can you tell us about that?
Mark: Yeah. So, Mike and I, we met in January of 2017, and in October 2016, I'm sitting in a bungalow, in Thailand, and having done years of story work alongside yoga communities whether it was individual classes that we would craft, or five day long yoga teacher training courses, and the reason that we were invited to do that work is because we're about to very simply and clearly show the link between what we think and say, and how we breathe. So, I'm sitting there. I've taken maybe two months of CrossFit classes that summer in 2016, and I thought, "I have something to say to CrossFit about this."
Those guys and girls are cool. They work out together, it's tribal, it's some different training, so they got to have open minds, they got work ethics. I reached out to some people and we got put in touch. As fate would have it, here we are.
Inflamed story, restricted breathing
Mark: When someone goes into an up regulated state, and this is how I used to live my life, I used to live my life as a fast talker, and a tight, rigid person. They go hand in hand. When someone is in a stress state, up regulated state, sympathetic nervous system response state, pick your words. They're going to be breathing in their upper chest. That is a very uncomfortable place to live. When home is uncomfortable, obviously the story that we tell ourselves is going to be uncomfortable. When the story is uncomfortable, it's going to make the way we feel in our body that much more uncomfortable too, and it all comes down to education. We're not taught this stuff in school translation.
We have to go on a search to find this information. I was a teacher before I got involved in this work, and I have a degree in education. The only spelling, the only information about language that we got taught was grammar, and definitions, and spelling. No courses, or classes, or conversations on how our words influence our breathing, and our posture, and our imagination, and our feelings and emotions in ourselves and other people. So, like you said, people do get, and it does need to be named.
The vicious cycle of trapped breath, inflamed story. Inflamed story, restricted breathing. Sympathetic nervous system response, threats abound. That's very real and it's a very real feedback loop, and blessings from about that begins the process of dismantling that in themself. Adam Chen, let's talk about him. He said it. He said, "If you're comfortable, if you are comfortable in your own skin, if you're comfortable with yourself, then you've won." A lot of the self help that I've looked into I've done, facilitated, done on myself. If I boiled it down to one thing, I was searching for and still continue to practice facilitating being comfortable in myself, with myself.
Language and Stories That Gets In Our Way
Mark: Habits and patterns as in our own, and the ones we've inherited. Language is an inheritance. The stories our parents told themselves, about themselves. They heavily influence us. The stories that our parents tell us about ourselves. You'll never grow up to be anything. You say that maybe just once to a kid, and that stuff sticks. As an elementary school teacher-
Mike: It doesn't even have to be said that way by a parent. It only needs to be perceived that way by the child. It's more important about what you heard versus what was actually said, and we remember things wrong a lot.
Mark: Let's go a majority of the time for sure, and there's glitches in our language that helps us take things personal. I don't want my mother to be so sad all that time. Well, maybe she's only sad part of the time. If she's sad all the time, maybe I'll try to make her happy. Let's say that didn't go so well, because I couldn't make my mother happy, that means I'm not good enough, and so on, and on, and on. It's a very common story. I know you've seen this in your work a lot.
Stories Emerging From Covid-19
Mike: I'm curious about the story. These are the stories I'm seeing emerging. We'll pick one at a time. I want to hear you, how you've dealt with this because I imagine, you're running on the same thing. I don't know where my next paycheck is coming from. I am experiencing uncertainty in my career, I'm experiencing uncertainty with money. I'm saying it the way that I like to say it.
How are people's get it, then what are you seeing as far as common themes on unwinding that?
Mark: I want them to get the whole thing out. Take some notes, get the statements. Get the statements that sting the most, then tell me more of the story. I want them to get it off their chest. A little bit of down regulation, a couple of better breaths, and again, the whole thing is a lot more malleable. From there, it's a lot easier for them to start to look at possibilities at options, and some of those entail cutting off expenses, some of those unnecessary expenses. If someone can save four, $500 a week with canceling subscriptions of things, that's a thing.
One of the scariest things for people right now is their perceived inability to participate. They can't do anything. Those statements right there, they just block. They block us from being creative. Yes, let's get them down on paper, let's externalize them. We talk about externalizing the story a lot. The thoughts that loop around in people's minds, a quite magical thing happens when someone writes them down. Get them on paper, and it makes it more manageable. Wonderful. From there, I want to know what all of their options are, or at least more of their options are. A lot of times, people have options. It's hard to see them when we're stressed, intense, and afraid.
The ability to anticipate things
Mike: What's this process like when they say, "I'm just going to wait for this to pass," to take action, to do whatever it is they really want to be. "I'm just going to wait for this to pass."
Mark: That's a very good question. I want to know what are the potential outcomes for waiting to take action, and I want them to write them down. Very few people, and that's another thing. Even the worst case scenario, once someone writes it down and looks at it is 100 times more manageable than the monster inside. I might have to move back in with my parents. I might have to sell my second car. All the things that they don't want to do, once they get that down on paper, and they look at it, and they're like, "Okay. That might happen."
Well, Tony Robbins talks about it. He said, "The most powerful force in the university is one of anticipation. Your ability to anticipate something." Even a bad outcome. We talk about running the simulation a lot. Run that worst case simulation. Actually, verbalize it. Actually, get it out in the open. If you're feeling really brave, write the thing down. People do. People are more resilient than they give themself credit for. It turns out, the boogie monster in the closet is usually not that scary, in the case you acknowledged.
Fear is a great driver to take action
Mike: Yeah. My experience is that the things that are scary for people or just the things that they never experienced before, if I do ts thing … My experience with this whole corona virus, I did things that I wouldn't normally do because it was a new thing. I was like, "I don't know what's going to happen. I've never seen entire countries lock down globally." Not just one or two or five, all of them, 180-something. Everyone locks down, our own government goes into a state of emergency, I'm going, "I've never witnessed this before. I actually did not think I was." There was a part of me, it was like, "Oh, I'll see something like this happen in my lifetime." Then another part of me is like, "I don't know. It's going pretty fucking good."
This whole thing goes down, and all these new variables, and fear came up. I think that fear can be, it's a really great driver at times to take action to protect and keep yourself safe. For me, I took some action when I saw what was happening, and it was partly protection on some things that I've done, like stock up on food, be out of the way from the general populace. Then the other part was like, "Well, if I'm going to be stuck somewhere for a while, I might as well be somewhere beautiful. Let's go to Southern Utah and look at some fucking mountains." In San Diego, you can't go out in nature. Out here, you can go hiking and no one is going to bother you.
A lot of that is going on, but fear came up, and it was a driver. So, there's actual benefits to it. I had no fear. I like where it put me. What I experienced was this is a threat I've never experienced before, but what I witnessed when it comes to people's stories, like what's happening internally a lot of times is this was a situation that was brand new and it was thrust upon us.
People are avoiding new experiences that are happening internally, and it's like, "Oh, I don't want to have that conversation with that person. I don't want to confront somebody. I don't want to do that thing that's difficult because I want to avoid this feeling I have.
Meeting Byron Katie
Mike: How can we tell the difference between these two things? What's an actual safety? Fear is present, and fear is informing to take good care of this human body that I've been given, and what is the fear that's just bullshit, that's making my life harder than it really needs to be?
Mark: That's a fantastic question. Fear, it is a natural response. Under certain circumstances, I can think most people being afraid. If a crocodile is swimming after you, and you got to high tail it out the water, that's pretty scary. There's a situation out there that will scare anyone. I don't know of anyone that's not afraid of anything, or is complete immune to fear. Maybe Byron Katie? I did look her in the eyes once. That was a quite magical experience.
Mike: Let's first tell people who Byron Katie is.
Mark: .She's the enlightened grandmother. She would be the sage. The most enlightened material I have ever come across, ever, and I'm a big fan of Daoism. It's called 1000 Names for Joy. It's her breakdown of the Dao De Jing.
Yeah. It is so elevated, it is so beyond good and bad stories that any story that gets close to her, she's like this black hole of love, if that makes sense. She sucks in the story, and it's just gone. It's gone. She's the first person that I learned about projections with. It was one of the hardest pieces of material to incorporate into my own language, was that person just embarrassed me versus I just embarrassed me, and she has a very smooth way.
Mark: She has a four step process where she talks people through, and loosens up their attachment to the story, then turns the thing around. That goes back to what we're talking about, about up regulation and down regulation. You know about her work. It's called a turnaround, where she goes from he ruined my life to I ruined my life. That's a huge, massive jump for most people.
It's too big of a jump. Their neurology, their physiology will fight it because they're stressed out about thinking about that person that ruined their life. What they need to do in order for that concept to land, or all you coaches out there, if you want to make your coaching job easier on you, and get better results from your clients, learn to converse with them in ways. A lot of it is getting the story out of them, loosening them up, getting them breathing a little bit better or a lot better, then they're open to solutions, or in Byron Katie's work, a turn around. I went up and spent five days with her at the Kripalu Institute in 2011, in Vermont, and we did the work about every single thing you can imagine for five whole days.
Get Your Thoughts Down On Paper
Mark: A progression of learning how to do a particular lift or something like that. I like to use that same word with story work too. It's a progression. It's a progression of completely believing our thoughts, and our stories internally. It's so hard to do. Okay. Let me translate that. It's a lot easier to do this work, once it's externalized. I know you're a big fan of journaling for a reason. Ladies and gentlemen, get the stories down on paper.
Mike: Journaling is one of those things where everyone says to do it, but no one knows how to do it, and because they don't know how to do it, well, I don't think people continue to do it. The same with meditation is I meditated once, I didn't get any benefits, so I'm not motivated to do it. So, journaling and meditation both, I started and stopped so many different times, and now I recommend people do something. Do your work, do what Mark England does, use those for journaling, for writing before you even attempt meditation, because that will give you a foundation in which you'll understand what's happening in your meditation. I just want to point that out for people.
Mark: Progressions. Exactly. We have a good friend, Lauren Peters. She went and did a 10 day of Vipassana with little to no training. Just went in there cold, and she said she came out, she didn't have a positive thought for 17 days, and wasn't sure if she was going to get back to normal. When I was living in Thailand on Koh Samui, working at the spa, they had a relationship with a local 10 day of Vipassana. People would come and do the cleanse, then they'd go. The people that had little to no training or practice in it, they suffered, they struggled because they went too far to the front of the line, if we're talking about meditation in that way, which I do. I definitely agree.
The process of inquiry
Mark: Getting your thoughts written down on paper, then looking at them. If you want to go from journaling to journaling 3.0, it's one thing to write out your story and still believe it, okay?
Get your story written down, then just look at it and start to analyze it, as opposed to saying, "Oh, I just wrote that down, so it must all be true." Look at what sentences are more constrictive than the other ones. Look at what parts of the story are more inflammatory than others. What that is, is a very good start. Going back to Byron Katie, to use her words, it's the beginning of the process of inquiry. They do a lot of writing in her work. It's called the work. They do work sheets.
Mike: I really looked at this corona virus thing. I've been big on self care, and preaching it, and doing it. In the last few years, I've taken better care of myself than I ever have in my entire life.
Looking at this virus as a threat, I go, "You know what?" There's part of me that looks at it and goes, "It's not that big of a deal." Look at the science, I look at the stats, the threat is, in my opinion, inflated. There's a lot of hype around it, and yeah, it's a virus that does attack the lungs, and it sucks, and it does kill people. Not as many people as the flu, but it kills people. My attention the last few weeks has gone heavily on disease. My attention has gone on specifically viruses, I started looking.
I have been familiar with how viruses work, I know the basic biology, some molecular biology that's involved there, and I've always just gone about my life going, "My immune system is pretty good." I work out, I do occasional breath work, I do medicinal mushrooms, I take a lot of supplements that are anti-viral in nature, but I was just doing pretty good with it. Now, I go, "Okay." One of the things that is novel about this virus, one of the things about corona virus that is interesting is that it spreads incredibly easily and incredibly fast. I think that's one of the things that's created a lot of the fear is the speed.
I'm looking at it, and I go, "Oh, okay. Well, I'm going to get this." The same way as, "One day, I will get the flu." You just come across it enough times, your immune system is suppressed because it's stressed, or something happens in your life, and now you're going to experience more drastic symptoms of having the flu." Yeah. The last few weeks, I'm going, "You know what? Let's make my fucking immune system as strong as possible. How do I do that?"
A lot of what I've done for self care, I go, "Okay. This is good for this," and I've thrown it in, but I've been taking another look at my self meditation, I've been taking another look at my nutrition in a while, I've been taking another look at a lot of things. I've just been accumulating because these are good for me type of things. I was like, "You know what? I'm going to start living my life like I'm going to get the corona virus." I'm getting it. When it hits me, I'm going to fuck it up.
You and I are the same way in this way. Someone breaks into our house, what is our experience in that moment? I imagine for you it would be the same. There's a little bit of excitement in there of like, "Oh, I'm going to fuck this person up." Someone breaks in the house. Most people crawl under the bed. "I just want to be safe." It's like, "No, no, no, no. We're going to go get this motherfucker." Same thing here.
I'm a big fan of overreacting. I put in quotes "overreacting". As long as you're not creating unnecessary sacrifice in the overreaction, which is like, "Wow, you really took that pretty far, but it didn't harm anybody, including yourself." It's like, "Yeah, it's really good." Going back to your question. Self care. Every morning, wake up, breath work. I work on my breathing mechanics, then I also put myself in a hypoxic state, which boosts the immune system. Additionally, when there is this threat of a virus that attacks the lung, you might as well exercise the airways as much as possible.
Hypoxic state and supplements
Mike: People are also experiencing hypoxia during the sickness. If you can condition your body to do well with hypoxia, which you're doing … Most breath work puts you in a hypoxic state. I'm saying hypoxia. That means reduced oxygen. So, you're having less partial pressure, oxygen in your bloodstream, and it causes your body to respond in a way. So, breath work first thing in the morning, hydration, high quality water, then I take some supplements.
I'm taking a very high end probiotic. I'm taking something. I'll take the metamorphosis probiotic. The Elemental Wizdom. That's wisdom spelled with a Z. ElementalWizdom.com. You can use my last name with anything I'm listing, and you're likely to get a discount.
Another probiotic from BiOptimizers. Again, you get a discount on that. BiOptimizers are probiotic. It's different. The Elemental Wizdom one, it gets into the digestive tract, into your intestines and all that, and it actually creates cultures. It wants to propagate whereas this other one from BiOptimizers, they refer to it as the Navy Seals of probiotics, and those probiotics are specifically there to knock out the bad guys. So, I take both of those.
I'm also taking cordyceps mushrooms. I take cordyceps. The Organifi red juice has cordyceps, and it also has rhodiola, which I love. It helps with just stress in the body. It helps the organs out. So, I'm taking that, then I take extra cordyceps on top of that in my coffee. I put an extra scoop of cordyceps, because cordyceps mushrooms have been shown to have anti-viral properties. So, Organifi red juice because of that. Again, last name. Then another supplement. What was the other supplement? Oh yeah, I'm taking turkey tail.
The Organifi Gold has turkey tail in it, which is good for the immune system. It's a mushroom. All the mushrooms are good for the immune system to a degree. Some are more powerful towards the immune system and not other things, like turkey tail, and cordyceps is specifically good for increasing circulation, and it's anti-viral. So, if I get hit with a virus that is inhibiting my ability to breathe, this is going to help keep things open. I also do Hop A once a day, which is taking a … Hop A is a South American plant medicine. It blows up your nose.
You basically take this ash that goes up in your nose, and it causes vasodilation, amongst many other things. There's some certain formulas that are supposed to be anti-viral in nature. I say supposed to be because I'm careful about claims on things that I don't know 100% for sure. I'm more going off of people that I trust that are experts in that field. So, my morning routine looks like that. It's breath work, that, then I do some movement. I do some really light movement where I'm pumping lymph. I'm getting circulation of the lymph, then I do exercise that circulates the blood.
Then a couple of days a week, I go for a run on these trails out here in Utah. I'm getting outdoors, I'm getting sunlight. I have a red light set up. We use red light therapy in the morning, so as soon as we wake up, red light comes on. We don't use any of the lights in the house. Between the sunrise and the red light, we're getting really high quality light in. Then yeah. Being outdoors, getting sunlight, all these things. Then I'm doing Kamba once a week. I do a one day fast, I do 36 hours of fasting, finish it off with Kamba, which is really great for the immune system. Both those activities are.
If you can tell me something else I can do to boost my immune system right now, I'll fucking do it. That's what I'm doing for self care. Oh, the other thing is, if we want to get really out there, I'm also every day doing some tantric exercises. I'm getting no action during quarantine, but I can still train myself to be a sexual master on the other side. Come out, everyone else is dusty, I'm good to go.
Watch What Everyone Else Does, and Do the Opposite.
Mike: What are you doing? You're on the other side. I'm in Utah.
Mark: I came off caffeine. It makes me volatile, and I've known that for a while, and I bit the bullet recently because when I am smart enough to remember the teachings of a guy by the name of Stewart Wilde, I had a metaphysics teacher once upon a time, and that was him. He would say, "Watch what everyone else does, and do the opposite."
I'm looking at the macro, the big picture, and news. Caffeine, because I can drink coffee, man. I love it. It's arguably my favorite flavor, and it also makes me stiff physically. Part of me is in pain because I'm off coffee, and where I'm going with this is I'm like, "Okay." You and I had a conversation about three weeks ago, maybe four, where you say that you can feel a collective constriction, contraction going on.
I'm with you, man. I can. That sounds weird to say, it would have sounded weird for me to say that 20 years ago, and I can. So, I said, "Okay."
Mike: Everything that's experienced on an individual level is experienced on a collective level, and some people are aware of it, and other people are unaware of it. Everybody is experiencing it.
Mark: Again, I love keeping stuff simple, man. I'm a simple guy. When it came to presenting, giving talks, public speeches, when I identified the one word, it was my north star, my guiding star in that whole thing, which was to be comfortable when I'm on stage. I don't want to be confident, I want to be comfortable on stage. That put everything in place that I needed to do in preparation, to be that way on stage, and I did the same thing here. It took me a little while. The word is loose.
I'm staying loose because I know that the vast majority of people are tightening up, and that is the exact opposite of what I want to do. So, I walk. I go for a walk. I'm out the door in 10 minutes. I walk, I do a little bit of mobility work, and breath work every other day. We also have, I got this thing six weeks ago. It's called a qi machine. We talked about that.
The Qi machine
The qi machine, the "original" is about $450. I got the J-E-A-C-A-N, something like that. I can send you a picture of the brand. That was $300. I had it overnight shipped. It's $300. Dude, I used that shit every day. When I come off of that thing, because what you do is it's a box, it cups your ankles, your feet are off the ground, then it shakes your ankles back and forth, which does this to your entire spine, and it loosens everything up in your abdomen. It's 15 minutes. It runs for 15 minutes. When it stops, honestly, it feels like you're on the tail end of a DMT trip.
Mike: What time of day is your favorite time to use the qi machine?
Mark: Dude, right in the middle of the day. Between 12:00 and 2:00, because I've ramped up enough. Remember when this past summer when we were taking ice baths in the middle of the day?
Mike: Dude, it was so good.
Mark: Yeah. It just broke the constriction of all the action. It's the same thing with that, and it's better than a nap. So, you don't have to nap.
Mike: Napping in the middle of the day can be difficult, because a lot of times, this bad boy is running, I'm pointing at my head, and you get on the qi machine, and it just draws all your awareness into your body.
Mark: It's so gentle, and I get off there. Again, that's my magic word for the corona is loose. I'm loose. A little bit of kettlebell work here and there. I'm not hitting anything crazy. Basically, everything I do right now is controlled, and slow, and smooth. I am stiff, and tight, and tense, and puckered, and volatile, and inflamed. No, no. I'm going over here. I'm going over here. All that stuff helps, man. Yeah. Dude, get a qi machine, Mike
Country Living Feels Better
Mike: All right. Here's the thing though. I got an Airbnb, I've got one pickup truck, and it wasn't completely full when I got here, but it was three quarters full. I've ordered a couple of things that are going to have to go with me when I'm done renting this place. I'm here for a while, so I'm starting to accumulate some things. What I'm afraid of is I'll go to leave, then I won't be able to fit it all in my truck, then I'll have to start making some decisions.
However, I've been nomadic for a while, and this experience has been really nice being in one spot out in the country. If you had asked me even three months ago, it was like, "Do you want to settle down in the country?" I would say no. I need to be close to the action. I need to be within 30 minutes of a great airport. Not just any airport, a great airport, and I want to be in the action. I want to be around people. I have not been around people, I've got two people with me, we are out in the country, we're in Utah, and I'm able to Airbnb a house for less than what I was renting a house for in San Diego, which is usually twice the price, and I started looking at prices at homes in the area. I go, "I can get a mansion for cheaper than what I had. Just a 1200 square foot house in San Diego."
It's good here. I'm really enjoying it. I know that in my future, there's multiple homes and multiple locations around the world. That's given. I did not imagine that one of my first ones might be in Utah, or I've been thinking about Tahoe. Away. Away from a large populace, and largely just out in the quiet end, going days, and days, and days without seeing very many people. That's new for me, and I'm really enjoying it to the degree where I go, "Huh. Maybe I'll just hang out in this Utah spot for a while." Rent something for a year, maybe shop for something to buy. I don't know.
No point to be in the city
Mike: There's no point to be in the city. I've got friends in LA, and I go, "Why don't you come out to Utah?" They're like, "We're going to hang tight." I'm like, "Why? You can't even go watch the sunset right now." You try to go watch the sunset outside, the cops are going to fucking bother you. You're going to get a ticket for watching the sunset. What's the fucking point? I've got a great sunset. Purple skies
I'm hanging out with Ben, I went for a trail run, we're watching the sun set and he goes, "Oh, purple skies majesty." I get the song now. I go, "Yeah." Yeah, man. It's fucking great out here. It's so great out here. I'm loving it.
Mark: How's the air quality, Mike Bledsoe?
Mike: The air is amazing. San Diego is okay, and we're pretty close to Mexico, and we had the wind coming off the ocean, so the air quality is pretty good on the west coast in general. But dude, it's so good out here.