About the Episode:
Meet Akshay Nanavati, a Marine Veteran that is openly and willingly sharing his story around war, PTSD, addiction and more. Learn how Akshay lives off of terrifying himself, and how he explores the world.
Akshay Nanavati has overcome drug addiction, PTSD from fighting in Iraq with the Marines, depression and alcoholism that pushed him to the brink of suicide. Since then he has built a global business, run ultramarathons, spent 7 days in darkness, and explored the most hostile environments on the planet. Combining his life experience with years of research in science and spirituality, he wrote the book “Fearvana,” which the Dalai Lama wrote the foreword for. All the profits from the book are going toward charity. Akshay is now on a mission to help our human family build a positive relationship to suffering in order to create a life of greater meaning, purpose and fulfillment.
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What’s shakin’! Welcome back to ALL IN, I’m your host Rick Jordan. Today we are going to be talking about drug addiction, PTSD, alcoholism, suicide, and coming through that and building a global business and a whole bunch of other things. And before we dive into this, I want to tell you a little bit about how we grow in the show and help more people. It’s only through you. We don’t do promotions, sponsors, or anything. The more you share these episodes, the more we continue to grow. So thank you for being part of that journey and my guest today has overcome drug addiction. If I can speak good lord, drug addiction, PTSD from fighting in Iraq in the Marine Corps, depression, alcoholism that pushed him into the brink of suicide, and since then, he’s built a global business, run ultra marathon, spent seven days in darkness. I can’t wait to ask about this. And explore the most hostile environments on the planet. It’s just incredible. He’s featured literally everywhere. Akshay Nanavati!
Welcome, my man. Welcome.
Thank you Rick, honored to be here.
I want to start by saying thank you for serving. I really appreciate you.
Appreciate you saying that man. Thank you, man.
I’ve always phrased it that way too, thank you for serving because I I know that it really never stops, right?
Absolutely.. Being a Marine is very much part of who I am today. And an essential part of my being so it’s as they say once a marine always a Marine.
Yeah, man, for sure. Now was the drug addiction before or after your service tour in Iraq?
The drugs were before the Marines. I struggled with alcohol after coming back from Iraq, but the drugs were before that. That was when I was in high school. Struggled with severe drug addiction for about a year and a half, and lost two friends to that lifestyle. I was kind of going down that road myself, very self destructive. I still have the scars on my arm for where I stick cut myself and burn myself and just the scars all over, just a very destructive nature that I mean, I did so many things that could easily killed me and somehow, I thankfully did not die. Made it out of that darkness, made it out of that world and watching the movie Black Hawk Down was the trigger that got me out of drugs and into the Marines.
That’s so cool, man. So you were inspired by that movie then to join?
That movie planted a seed that changed my life forever. You know? Just have you seen the movie?
Oh, yeah, sure have dude it’s been a while probably like 15 years but yeah.
It’s an old movie now but one of my favorites and such an intense and powerful war movie. And you know, it’s based on a true story and so watching this movie, and then after the movie, I read the book Black Hawk Down and just started devouring the book. after book after book on the military and life in combat. It just watching and reading these stories about men, sacrificing their lives and voluntarily putting themselves in extremely dangerous positions at the risk of their life and even losing their life in service of another human being was so powerful and so moving, and it just triggered something in me that what kind of human being would have that courage to do that, you know, what does it take to do that? And would I be able to do that and it sort of made me question the very worthless, selfish, meaningless existence I was living at the time and helped me transform that to realize that I wanted to do something more with this life that I’ve been gifted. And so that was the trigger that planted the seed that it almost overnight, stopped doing drugs and decided to enlist in the Marines.
That’s incredible, man. I mean, I remember getting emotional with the movie. I’ve watched it several times, you know, but it has been a while since I’ve watched it. I think it’s enough for me to revisit it.
It’s a powerful movie.
No doubt it is man and all that took place, I think, if I remember right, during the Clinton administration too?
Yeah, that’s right.
It was just an interesting time because I know that you likely served in the second Iraq War, right?
Yeah, for sure and I know that was taking place sometime after in between those two wars, which was the Clinton administration, but it was an interesting time during that period I remember because it was peacetime you’re really right in between those two wars, and there was actually an economic boom but still, it was intriguing to me watching that because there’s still all this stuff man that goes on around the world. When the United States is still enjoying some prosperity.
Yeah, there’s I mean, we are very lucky. I mean, if somebody is watching or listening to this, you are automatically in line for a position that is way better than so many. In our human family across the globe. And as we’re sitting here, having this conversation, I mean, there’s people in war zones and refugee camps, people who are living their lives, you know, as prisoners in sex trafficking in and there’s a lot of darkness in the world and we are like, that’s constantly happening. You know, it’s not it’s and like you were saying earlier, when you would experience some of this stuff, because beyond just being in the Marines and serving in war, volunteered leper colonies, I’ve worked at survivors of sex trafficking have been have worked in post conflict zones, I’ve worked with former child soldiers, so that kind of stuff, it stays with you, you know, and so you’re constantly present to the darkness that is in the human condition. And inevitably, it also it destroys apathy, right like not to say that I was apathetic, but whatever apathy that might have been there before, especially when I was doing all these drugs and that kind of indifference to anything really, because I was numb to it when I was, you know, numbing myself with drugs and then post a warfront with alcohol. It kills all of that and it makes you stay very present to the darkness and pain in the human condition and ultimately wanting to do something about it.
No doubt, I’m going to make a little bit of a controversial statement here and I’m pretty sure you’re going to agree with it too, you know, coming from your background, right? Because when you’re talking about all this darkness that exists in the world, you know, there’s a lot that are just naive to it, that it’s even there to begin with and I’ve seen other things, you know, comments before over the last 20 years of my life towards, you know, individuals with this stance and I respect that they have the right to have a position or an opinion. Of course I do because everyone has unique perspectives. But when I’ve heard things around like it’s not the United States job to police the world. You know, I think it’s such a very limited scope that these individuals see because when there’s this much darkness in the world, I feel it’s the responsibility of those that can do something to actually do something.
I could not agree with you more I think, you know, there’s obviously a lot of nuance to global foreign policy, not to claim to be an expert in politics by any stretch of the imagination I understand any anytime we are being involved or getting involved in things like that, it there’s a lot of challenges to making those decisions, but I but on a moral and philosophical level, I 100% agree that if one has power to do something about it, we should. And as an example of that was the Rwanda genocide. I mean, actually read the read. I wrote one of my history thesis, I was an undergraduate in history. I wrote it about the Rwandan genocide, and that was one of the factors that inspired me to join because we could have done something to stop that or, you know, and I think so when somebody is in power, its responsibility and separate from the politics of the Iraq War. Granted, we shouldn’t go on. I actually did my other history thesis on the Iraq War and had a unique perspective of not only having researched it, but lived it, like it actually was in the war. So granted, we shouldn’t have gone, and all that kind of stuff. But what when we were out there, I believe we were doing some good out there, you know, and we did make a difference. Now history might prove all that wrong, and things could go to hell, as we’re seeing in Afghanistan. But you know, the point is on us, at least on a moral and philosophical level. I do feel like one when one has power, one should do something about it. And actually, the starting quote in the movie Black Hawk Down is from I believe, was Plato who said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, you know, so I wholeheartedly believe that.
You just gave me shivers and I’m not even kidding about that dude, because you’re speaking to my heart today. You’re speaking to the hearts of everybody that’s listening. You know whether they even agree with it or not. You’re still speaking to their hearts, man. That’s the pretty cool thing right about doing these kinds of shows. I love it.
Yeah, absolutely, man.
Sweet brother.. So you did a tour in Iraq. And that was obviously during the time of the Bush administration, right in the United States. You know, when we thought there were weapons of mass destruction over there, and that was Saddam Hussein’s era. And the whole idea was to go in there and root them out, which ended up pretty much happening, you know, and he’s dead now, which is, I think, a good thing for that part of the world, because the guy was just a ruthless dictator. Absolutely. I mean, very similar things to what takes place with the Taliban these days and how he treated women and everything else. Just horrendous, but you were there for how many years, how many years did you have your tour there?
Seven months. I was there in 2007 and 2008.
Wow, okay, just seven months?
Yeah, Marine Corps deployments are seven months.
It is, okay! Yeah, I didn’t know if you had re-enlisted or had gone back. You know, if you went back for another tour or something.
I tried to because when I came back from Iraq, I was unsatisfied and I could not handle life in this world. So, I wanted to go back to war. like there’s a strange kind of comfort that comes with life and war. It’s very counterintuitive. It’s very paradoxical. It doesn’t make sense to those who have not experienced it but there’s a strange kind of peace that comes from being in war. And again, that does not make a lot of sense. I get that. But if you when you really delve into it, like war meets a lot of the human needs and if this is again, separate from the politics of it on the ground, it meets a lot of the human needs that we all fight for, right like belonging, being a part of something bigger than yourself, camaraderie. feeling alive, like feeling the aliveness in the day to day experience. You feel that tremendously in war, right. You’re part of something bigger, even again, separate from the politics on the ground. We were trying to do some good you’re you’re you have a tribe, you have camaraderie, you have a brotherhood. We all want to feel that human need for belonging, right. So it meets a lot of that and you come back here and this world is much more complicated, much harder to find peace within. So, I wanted to go back and ultimately I did not get a chance, but which is why I ended up going to grad school in journalism because I wanted to then go back to war as a combat journalist. That plan changed again, but that was the original game plan because I just wanted to find a way to go back to those experiences.
Yeah, I don’t know if that’s completely a foreign concept to individuals. I mean, think about the tough family situations that we have, especially coming out of this past year and a half, you know, I’m sure there might be some it’s it’s different types, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised that there were some traumas, you know, I shouldn’t even phrase it that way. I’m certain there’s been some traumas in families coming from the pandemic situation that we’ve had over the past couple years to and even some PTSD from that because imagine people being locked up. I mean, you see divorce rates skyrocket. This past year, think about people being locked up together, but they’ve got the camaraderie, they might have been in the situation where they’re constantly fighting and then even coming out of that, it’s like, well, maybe there should be some sort of different environment we try to create but I keep going back to this situation in my life or maybe even could be a bad job, you know, with a narcissistic boss or something like that. Now it’s where or just something that’s keeping them stagnant in life, but like, I’m going to thrive on that because it’s simple and I understand this combat fight or flight mode that I go into every time I show up in my house every time I show up to my job, whatever.
Yeah, and that can be very destructive if you don’t channel it with a healthy awareness. Like for example, when I came back from the war, and I got out of the Marines at this point, and I realized I wasn’t gonna be able to go back and the wars were ending by the time I got back anyway, so I got out of the Marines, I decided to go spend one month draggin a 190 pound sled for 350 miles across Greenland, it was minus 40 degrees, brutal storms the following year after my crossing, British explorers killed into these storms. I mean, one of the most hostile environments on the planet, right, the polar ice cap on Greenland. And I still do these things today. I’m actually going to Antarctica next week to do a 30 to 40 day expedition in the South Pole. But back then I was doing it just to run away from my demons because I wanted the peace of being in a world where I had to confront life and death. So today, I’m still doing it, but I’m doing it from a very different level of consciousness. I’m not running away from things. I’m going out there seeking something you know, so it’s a different mentality behind it. Even though the craft and the pursuit in it is the same, but point is to say that sometimes when you driving yourself into these hostile worlds, if you don’t do it with consciousness and awareness, it can be very unhealthy and very destructive and I was doing that for a long time until I had nowhere to escape. When I came back from Greenland. I quit. I had a corporate job for a year and a half before that, but quit that now. I didn’t have the Marines and I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have an environment like Greenland to provide me with any structure. So there was nothing external to give me structure. And without that, the demons started to rise right without an external structure to guide me. I inevitably had to face myself within. Now I was building a business at the time but slowly if like, that’s when I started to get worse and worse with my drinking, I mean, I would one day of drinking on a Saturday would become 2, 3, 4, 5 mean to a point that I was literally drinking like I kid you not a seven or 15 milliliter bottle of vodka a day, and this would go on for days on end. You know, I’d be throwing up in the toilet and stop and then keep drinking until one morning after five days, of this I woke up and was seconds away from slitting my wrists because I just felt like this pattern of drinking and then sobering up and drinking and sobering up would never end.
So that’s when I had no structure, I was forced to face all that and obviously it sent me down a dark road, but in the long run, I needed to face that out again, I didn’t do it in the most constructive or healthy way at the time. I’ve learned a lot since then, of course, but you can’t avoid that stuff. You know, it’s only like Carl Jung puts it really beautifully, he says, “Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” You need to bring that stuff to the surface and make it conscious. So you can now channel it and decide what you want to do with it. And he also says, to build off of that he says, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” And the thing is and it’s so profound, because we all have that stuff within us. We all have our demons in our darkness and our struggles and our pain. And if we don’t confront it, if we don’t bring it to the surface, and it’s a very hard journey to do that, to go into the depths of that darkness is very, very hard. So we often do everything to avoid it. You know, anything we can will avoid confronting our own soul, but going there will allow us to now channel it purposefully and ultimately create a far better life. So you have to go through the struggle to come out on the other side of it. Otherwise, it’s just gonna stay kind of buried within you and laying dormant but always controlling your identity and controlling your worldview, unless you face it.
I’m noticing that even in your story here on how you’re talking about you know, because when you it seems like that when you came out of Iraq and your even almost your whole purpose and going to Greenland, was to create that simplicity in a hostile environment. Absolutely. Because of your PTSD. Yeah, but now you’ve channeled that because you’re not stopping these extreme things you’re doing, you know. So what was the difference, though? Because if you’re doing the same things, I mean, I understand the mentality of it, right? But how did you make that shift? And what does that shift mean to you? Because when you continue these things, how do you channel that into something good now?\
Great question. You know, so as I said, back then I wasn’t nearly as self aware as I am now. So wanting to seek the hostility of these worlds. But today I’ve gone deep into those spaces. I mean, after coming out of that, that point where I was on the brink of suicide when years of research into neuroscience, psychology, spirituality initially just to heal myself, but obviously then, to take everything I’ve been learning to help others navigate their suffering because of course, I’m not the only person who suffered we all suffer, right?
And then and then when I came out of that I eventually I had gone through a really chilling divorce, broke my sobriety, when and when I break when I do anything, I do it pretty hard. So I broke my sobriety hard, and that’s what led me into darkness retreat, where it’s been seven days into this so point of all this to say is I’ve spent a lot of time and energy doing that inner work. I’ve gone into the dark, like the deepest, darkest spaces within my soul. And I’ve brought that stuff to the surface of all the things that lay within the darkness as well as the light. And so now when I do these things, I go to Antarctica, and I’m going to Antarctica in one week to spend 30 to 40 days skiing to the South Pole. And I’ll be walking where only 49 Human beings have ever walked, you know, and right after that I’m climbing the tallest mountain in Antarctica, and then I’m going to the Arctic to ski to the North Pole. So I’m still doing these things, but I’m not doing them because I’m trying to run away from my demons. I’m not doing them to run away from something in this world. I’m doing them now with a seeking with the seeking of a new evolution is seeking for new awakening that only comes from going into places you’ve never gone before. Because if you live in all, if you stay in the world and the reality you only know you’re only going to get more of what you’ve always got. So, to step outside of what I know to go into places I’ve never gone and I don’t just mean externally, I mean more importantly, internally, Antarctica ultimately, is of course, a new world that I’ve never been to one of the most hostile environments in the planet, minus 40 minus 50 degrees, brutal storms, of course, all that deadly environment that can kill you. But that is ultimately a vehicle for me to seek something within myself. The suffering that I inevitably will go through out there when you’re, you know, in the brutal cold, dragging a sled for 8 to 12 plus hours a day, for 40 days straight. You know, the grind of that, the monotony of that, the struggle of that. That’s ultimately the meaning, not the purpose, right? That is the means to something and the something that I seek by going into these places, that is a constant experience of self transcendence, to transcend myself in service of not just something beyond myself, but even in service of myself, like in service of my higher self, right, like suffering forces you to in order to face suffering and keep moving forward. You have to transcend that pain and that transcendence is what I seek now, that transcendence you can call it enlightenment, call it experiencing the divine, call it God, like the universe, that transcendence taps into something within the soul and I don’t just mean my individual soul, I mean, the Human Collective Soul, the human spirit. It taps into something to that which is so profound and so powerful that either way becomes its own kind of addiction again, if you’re not careful, but I doing this now with a great degree of awareness as to what I’m what I’m looking for, and why I’m going out there and knowing that I will balance the the the suffering I seek in these environments, with coming back and channeling into the other edge of that duality, right so the duality of suffering, I will tap into that so I’m not just going all in into only like a life of suffering and misery and struggle, which is obviously one part of what I seek. But there’s it’s tapped into and it’s confronted. It’s balanced by the duality of that which is the play, which is channeling. That suffering into wisdom and service, which is experiencing the lightness and joy as well right like so. Now I’m playing on the edges of all dualities in order to experience like a greater awakening that comes from dancing on the razor’s edge as I like to say, if that makes sense,
Yeah, it sure does, man and that’s something too because I mean, we all will. It is a basic need, as you said, a basic human need to actually feel alive. Exactly. And that’s something that of course, can be transcendence, you know, in one place of living to a higher form of living. That’s what I see you doing, man. It’s absolutely incredible. I mean, you’ve come through so much, you know, can you tell me you mentioned the seven days of darkness, that’s right after your suicide attempt around the being on the brink of suicide, right?
That was a few years later. So after after going to the suicide attempt, when I began the the, or on the verge of that suicide was, I began that years of research and that’s what led me to my work with Fearvana to writing the book Fearvana, to creating this ethos off fear bond in and of itself, which is fundamentally everything of what I do. And the idea of Fearvana is, you know, fear and Nirvana, two seemingly contradictory concepts, talking about what I was just saying about the duality, right. There’s two seemingly contradictory ideas. That is often framed as opposites. But the reality is that they’re not opposites. And these seemingly contradictory ideas can in fact, coexist, and they are very much complementary. That fear is not the antithesis of Nirvana, but the access point to it. And that’s what Fearvana is all about. It’s uniting these two seemingly contradictory forces, and ultimately falling in love. With both edges and embracing them to attain our next awakening. So if I just sort of summarize fear in one sentence, what it ultimately helps people do is to help people develop a positive relationship to not just the experience of fear, but suffering of any kind, and turn that into their bliss to transform that suffering. into doing three things: finding living and loving their worthy struggle. That’s what I call your path in life, your worthy struggle. It doesn’t have to be climbing mountains or skiing across icecaps. It can be hosting a podcast, raising a child, playing the guitar, playing basketball, whatever it is, but any worthwhile path in life will be hard and that’s why call your worthy struggle because it’s your worthy struggle. It’s the struggle worthy of who you are and who you want to be. And that struggle is beautiful. So if you’re honest about helping people, find the beauty in that struggle and then translate it into an experience of bliss and ultimately Nirvana itself. So coming out of the darkness led me to all of that. And then a few years later, I went through this very challenging divorce, and when I broke my sobriety from that, that’s what drove me to go into the darkness retreat, which was, I think, now, two years, three years ago, two years, two and a half, three years ago, so not that long ago. Um, but the reason is I wanted to go when I broke, I didn’t like that part. of myself. I didn’t like going there. If you know, I didn’t like that, what it drove me to so I knew something was missing. And I wanted to go deeper within to find some answers. And as with everything I do, I do it in a fairly extreme way. So seven days of darkness was my way to really go deep within to see what I would find.
Yeah, for sure. What do you have because you do some extreme things of course, but what’s uh, in this concept of Fearvana, what’s the best way to face your fears? You know, because fears I think of like a visualization we all have fears. It’s a very basic human emotion. And I think of the individuals like when you’re freaked out in a moment, like if there’s something that happens or whatever, like, even last night, not getting last night, I woke up in the middle of the night. It was like in the state, I wasn’t having a bad dream. It was actually a very, very good dream, but I don’t know. I think I just had a muscle spasm in my shoulder or something. And it felt like somebody pushed me, you know, on top and in that moment, like that split second, I was like, WTF, you know, and in that moment, I’ve had training so I’m just like you so I can look around and everything. But most people that I’ve seen when they’re in their state of fear, they seize up, right? They don’t move at all, almost like, like rigor mortis paralyzed kind of kind of thing. But that’s situations in life, you know, because that can be metaphoric or to not doing anything right. Continuing an alcoholism, continuing in a bad relationship, continuing a poor job, whatever because that is like the same thing as seizing up. You are there. How do you get past that moment, man, to where you can thaw out, see clearly, think clearly and move past this stuff?
Yeah, so the first step in doing that is to not demonize the experience of fear. And what I mean by that is, you know, we often hear things like Be fearless, don’t be scared, and we attach words like order to at some point. It’s so destructive because what it does is it goes and not just fear, right? anxiety, stress, for example, one of things I do in many of my talks is I’ll show words like fear, stress, anxiety, suffering, pain, adversity, struggle. How many of you think of these as positive words and you can do this anywhere in the world? Nobody thinks of this as positive words.
We have a negative relationship to this because we’re told, you know, be stress free. We attach words like disorder to anxiety and stress. And that is the first problem is that in and of itself, that’s why the when I said when I talked about what Fearvana is the first step is helping people develop positive relationship to suffering and not demonizing it because when we demonize it we think of ourselves, we think there’s something wrong when it when it shows up and I see this all the time. Like I worked with a client once who was traveling to Iceland on his own for a vacation, right, very chill vacation, nothing crazy staying in a hotel, but he was feeling really scared. Now, he was beating himself up for feeling fear, because he looks at the things I do, and he was like, you know, you climb mountains in the Himalayas and you’re not scared, like, why am I scared? But the thing is, it’s not that one, it’s not that I’m not scared when I climb mountains I’m terrified. The only reason I wouldn’t be scared traveling Iceland on my own is because I’ve done those things. So my brain has different references than his. It’s not because it takes no courage to do something if there’s no fear. So it takes no courage on my part to travel to Iceland. The only reason his brain showed up is fear because he didn’t have the references to say, “hey, that’s an OK experience.” He had never done it before. So anything new is normal. The problem was not the fear, the problem was him judging himself for feeling that fear. When we let go of that judgment, and we stop demonizing fear, stop demonizing stress, stop demonizing anxiety, stop demonizing guilt, I mean, take Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For example, when I came back from the war, as I mentioned, I was diagnosed with PTSD, right because I had symptoms of post traumatic stress like I was struggling with survivor’s guilt. I was very jumpy and hyper vigilant with loud noises. I didn’t like crowds. Now, these were all things that I was told were symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. As I started healing myself and delved into the research, I realized that look, these are not posttraumatic stress disorder. This is post traumatic stress and post traumatic stress is not indicative of a disorder at attaching the word disorder onto post traumatic stress completely changes our own relationship to those experiences.
That’s when I started to say, look, this is not a disorder. This is a normal human response to war. If I spent seven months in a war zone where loud noises equals death. Inevitably, my brain said look, you better be more alert of too loud noises because it could kill you. Totally normal, functional response, right? But when I frame it as a disorder, now I think there’s something wrong with me and that creates this horrible downward spiral because I’m judging it instead of letting it go. Like another example of survivor’s guilt, you know, everybody told me “Don’t feel guilty” and look, rationally I get it. We can’t control what happens in war. Bullets fly where they fly, right? But that’s just the nature of war, but emotionally it didn’t change the fact that the guilt was still there, because my guilt was just an expression of love. The only reason I felt it was because of the camaraderie and the Brotherhood I had with my tribe with my brothers in the Marines. So, instead of trying to let it go, which I couldn’t, everybody said, you know, “don’t feel guilty. It’s not your fault.” The reality was, it was there and it was an expression of love. So instead of trying to fight it, I embraced it, and I used it. So for a long time, I had a picture of my friend that I lost in the war, and it said, this should have been you, earn this life. Earn it. And this was an intense thing to look at, but my guilt became my fuel, my guilt became my ally. So point is to say that the first step, and this is very hard to do because we are so conditioned to believe there are quote, unquote, bad emotions. And the reality is, look, there’s more challenging emotions. Like fear, stress, anxiety are more challenging, sure, than happiness, joy, calm, whatever. But that doesn’t mean they’re negative. They just are. The reality is there are no bad or good emotions. There are only emotions, and it’s up to us to decide what we do with them. So when we stop demonizing the emotion and accept it, embrace the isness of whatever shows up, and a simple way to do that is literally just talk out loud. What is the emotion? Neuroscience has actually shown that when you label an emotion, it reduces activity in the emotional parts of your brain and increases activity, the part of your brain related to focus and awareness, that’s the prefrontal cortex, the front part of the brain, and essentially what that means is, it’s allowing you to respond to your emotion instead of reacting to it. So it creates a space between you and as you between the emotion and you as the feeler of that feeling. Right? So and that space is everything, that space will shape your destiny. So you have to train to recognize that space and like a simple mantra that I use and help others and share this with others, is to constantly remember you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, you are not your experiences. You are the thinker of your thoughts, the feeler of your feelings, and the experiencer of your experiences.
There is a space between what shows up and who you choose to be outside of what shows up. So to master fear, or any challenging emotion, the first step is to not demonize it to acknowledge there is a space between it, you know what that emotion is and who you choose to be outside of it. Then channel it into something worthwhile channeling to something you’re into your worthy struggle, and then there’s of course the practical sort of tactics. But more of the mindset is the first step. But you know, there are strategies like you mentioned, visualization is a very powerful tool, knowing what is your why on the other side of your fear, then being very clear. What’s the why like, why am I pursuing this struggle? I do things like I’m not not scared of going to Antarctica. It terrifies me, but I know why I’m going there. So to me the fear is worth it right. So knowing what is the reason for visualizing yourself facing that obstacle, transcending it, overcoming the struggle, also engaging the fear of inaction, like when I wrote my book, Fearvana, I was terrified. I was terrified of putting a book out there. People could judge it, hate it, think it’s dreadful, potentially get that dreaded one star review on Amazon, right? But I was more scared of dying, never having shared my message. And that fear was more scary to me than the fear of actually doing the work to write my book and put it out there. And I would actually have to engage that fear, I literally do once a month I do a death meditation. I confront death on a regular basis because not only with what I do but even unconsciously in my mind, because it helps me stay present to the gift that is this life and it helps me take action towards the things I want to do because that’s literally what I did when I when I was writing my book, and I would procrastinate, which I did. I would, I would think of myself dying, having never shared my message and that was a terrifying thought. So I was like, Okay, if that’s more scary than the book, and you better get your ass to work and write this book, right so that when you engage the other side of the fear, the fear of inaction, it’ll often fuel you because look, whatever whatever path you choose one way or the other, write this book, don’t write it, work in a business, start a corporate job, be single be in relationship, every crossroads, there will be a struggle. So the question to always ask is which struggle are you willing to endure?
Went on a long rant there.
That’s good. That’s what it was supposed to be. You know, even you brought up this word demonizing a lot too, you know, and I would almost propose that you take the DEA and PTSD to post traumatic stress demons. Because if it’s, if it’s that thing, right, because it disorder kind of as you were talking about this, right, you were talking a lot about the external things right, versus the internal stuff that an internal choices, and it’s almost like the the D and disorder almost becomes like a demon like you know, you’re afflicted by these external demons and all these things, and it’s almost like you have no control over it. When you call it a disorder. Like it’s something external and then you become like, well, I got it. Right. And you don’t do anything about it because you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it because it’s a disorder, you know, something external, but really, you know, that’s what I’m saying like a demon almost kind of like afflicting you and you have no choice but to just kind of go into a fetal position and just take that beating from that thing, whatever it is, versus eliminating that because and understanding that dude, if it’s post traumatic stress or if it’s anything anger, fear, guilt, anxiety, and just accepting that those are okay to feel, those are all right now all of a sudden, you can unclench and start to be like, “Okay, let me sit in this for a sec. What does this mean? Yeah, do I need to go with this? It’s okay to have this.” That’s fine. As long as it’s momentary.
Exactly, it’s there. It’s okay for it to be there. Now, what are you gonna do with it, but when you like exactly to your point, when you release that tension of like, trying to fight it and trying to resist it and just accept it, it kind of frees you. And with that freedom, you can now channel it and then of course, you have to train in it. Like the bigger you know, because you can listen to a podcast, read a book, do whatever. But ultimately, nothing is going to train you in the experience like in the greatest lessons on the battlefield. They’re doing right in the arena. So when you do that, you have to work your ladder of risk one step at a time if you can’t go from the couch to Everest right? You have to work. I wasn’t always like this. I mean, I used to be terrified of Ferris wheels when I was a kid. When I was a kid, forget about roller coasters. Like even the ferris wheel scared me, you know, so I wasn’t born this way to just do the Crazy things I do. Now. I worked my way up the ladder first because if you go too hard and too fast, never haven’t done it before. You’re going to kind of find yourself getting paralyzed. But if you push yourself slowly, do the first thing that’s a little scary for you and let go of the judgment because often what we’ll do is we’ll compare ourselves like, That person doesn’t find this scary. He’s braver than me. Like, like, you know if it shows up, except that it’s there. The thought is not you so you know, be with the thought. Don’t be defined by the thought, and then recognize that it’s there. Let me move up. Now once you do enough things, this thing will no longer be scary, then you can do the next thing and slowly you expand what I call the zone of Fearvana your zone of fear of bottom will expand. And it you know, I’m not saying you’ll ever get to a point where nothing will scare you and I don’t think you want to because I would always want to be scared, like on the other side of my fear is my great reward you know, so the point is that you will never all the fears won’t go away but you will develop a comfort with the fear. So even when it shows up you embrace it, you love it, like I do everything I do terrifies me, but that’s why I do it because I know that that’s how I’m going to find something I’ve never found before and open new doors within my soul.
Powerful, man. Akshay, you are an incredible dude. Glad you came on today man and Fearvana.com.
This is an amazing man. You know and those who comment about this and that leave a rating review. I want to send you a book of his to you know, for the first 10 people to do this because this is amazing. I want you to know, and then you know, screw it, the next 10 people that just messaged me, fine. We’re gonna send you a copy of this book because Akshay is incredible. It’s just got to be that way. And dude, I want to see your message. Get out to everybody. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing, man. And there’s a lot of people that can benefit from listening to you from reading about you, reading your stories. And so let this be just something that just to say, Hey, I’m sure you were a little fearful about even coming on the show today.
I do. I mean, I’ve done enough podcast interviews, I am now comfortable, but there’s always that like that. I mean, before I get on every show, I actually watch a very short clip from Blackhawk down. It’s literally this one interview was a one minute clip at the end of the movie where he says, you know, he says people when I go home, people understand and they asked me, you know, what, are you some kind of war junkie? Why do you do it? And he says they won’t understand, but I do it because it’s all about the men next to me and so I always watched that scene before and this is a great technique to actually navigate challenging situations is to create triggers. So, whenever I come on a show, I put that as a trigger to remind me that why I am here is about the person next to me is about the person listening even if I can change one life who’s listening to the show. That it’s worth the journey. It’s worthwhile. It’s worth me being here, you know, so I always put that on as a trigger. Because sometimes hey, look, we all get caught up in the day to day grind. We have a million things to do. I got like 20 million things to do before I leave for Antarctica in one week. Right so there’s like literally navigating all this stuff, but the trigger brings me back to the center place saying “Hey, you are here. Because it’s about the man and the woman next to you but the people here to serve.”
Incredible, Akshay Thank you, my man for being on. I’ve enjoyed you so much.
Thank you, brother. Appreciate you.