The HighExistence Podcast

“Epigenetics can be passed down inter-generationally. Indigenous traditions have the idea that what you do in your lifetime will impact 7 generations down from you. There’s actually good scientific backing for this idea now.”

— David Krantz, HEx Podcast #29

It took me nearly an hour to pick my jaw up off the floor after speaking with David.

He's just THAT GUY.

Charismatic and approachable. Able to dig deep into the fundamentals of epigenetics and gene editing, and then play you a song from one of his 5 full musical albums at the end of it.

David is someone who walks the walk.

A polymathic mad scientist designing the minds and mental states for the future of humanity. When I think of someone on the bleeding edge of science and performance, David definitely fits the bill.

Currently, David works as an Epigenetic Performance Coach and the Director of Psychoacoustics at the Apeiron Center.

He came into his work through a series of synchronicities, something we dive into more in the conversation — but seems to be right at home consulting for some major players in the business, athletic, and artistic spaces.

“Your natural bias is to think ‘this is the answer, this is how everyone should do it!’ In terms of navigating that, I find there’s a certain ethos or mentality that I look for, and if I don’t find it I instantly become wary. That ethos is acknowledging ‘Hey, I don’t know everything, and this is just one idea’. When I see people who can say ‘hey, here’s one study, and there’s another that contradicts it, and I’m not trying to hide it.’ And to the best of my ability, I try to do that.’”

— David Krantz, HEx Podcast #29

There was nothing off the table for this conversation, and David has a remarkable ability to distill complex scientific concepts into something easily digestible and understandable, for beginners and experts alike.

Whether you're a seasoned biohacker wanting to dive into the nuances of genetic testing, or someone just starting out in the self-optimization space, there's something here for you.

David embodies the archetype of someone living a HighExistence, doing their best work in a way that is sustainable and pushes the edge of what is possible forward.

I think you're going to love this conversation, Jon and I certainly enjoyed being a part of it.

“If you’re just going to try to change one variable, just change diet and nothing else, maybe that is worthwhile for someone who just wants reductionistic data, but that’s not how things work in the world. So let’s look at everything as holistically and fully as we can.”

— David Krantz, HEx Podcast #29


  • What does an ‘epigenetic health coach’ do?
  • What bio-markers you should focus on for performance, longevity, and mood
  • Davids revealing experience testing his own genome
  • What David thinks about sleep and health tracking tools
  • How do you transition from making music to epigenetic coaching?
  • Noticing the synchronicities in your life and following the path
  • How do you separate fact from fiction in the health and bio-hacking space?
  • How to break free of the ‘healthy normal’ bias in the standard medical paradigm
  • The difference between being healthy and having optimal health
  • What does DNA do in our body?
  • The impact of epigenetics on your genomic expression
  • Exploring the concept of ‘clock genes’
  • The science behind transgenerational epigenetic inheritance
  • David’s personal story of epigenetic inheritance and healing wounds from the Holocaust
  • How your physiology is shaped while in the womb
  • Where the notion of ‘past lives’ might come from…
  • Trauma work and it’s overlap with epigenetics and genetic expression
  • The importance of understanding your family’s past and history
  • What David thinks about artificial light and quick biohacking tips
  • Melatonin and optimizing the sleep/wake cycle
  • Sleep is the cornerstone of maintaining healthy functioning
  • Much, much more…


Direct download: David_Krantz_Podcast_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am EDT

It has to be sustainable. You could have a productivity system of working 72 hours straight at the beginning of the week and get everything done. Cool, you can do that but you're probably going to last two weeks, tops. This is a long marathon. I think the best way to conceptualize it is as a marathon of sprints. So you sprint—you work really hard on something—you stop, you rest, you reassess, you analyze, you improve, and then you sprint again. Fundamentally if that whole arc is not sustainable in the long run, you're just going to crash and burn.

— Eric Brown, HEx Podcast #28

At HighExistence we've had many interns start working with us all excited and eager.

Many told us they had been fans of the blog for years. They would work hard and do anything it takes. They would seize this opportunity with both hands.

Then it came time to WORK.

Crunch time. Effort. Dedication. Good communication. Innovative contributions. Self-discipline.

Let me be clear, many of the interns who worked for us did a stellar job. I'm still friends with many to this day.

But there has only ever been one intern who went from a small unpaid position to a fully fledged HighExistence team member who is not just useful to have on the team, but is indispensable.

Meet Eric Brown: Director of Operations at Apotheosis Retreats, Leader of the Apotheosis Integration Experience, Manager of Social Media, Editor at HighExistence, and all around productivity ninja...

Eric has an amazing ability to practice what he preaches. He's the guy that follows up on his recommendations. Works hard. Meditates. Reads. Organizes. And lives a "HighExistence."

He is someone who is always striving to improve without any of that frantic, frustrated stress most of us have.

To Eric, self-improvement is not about running away from a person he doesn't like, but about skipping toward a reality he prefers.

What you're about to listen to is a 3-hour conversation between Eric and I, and as you might imagine, we cover a lot of topics!

There is more that is real than what you can touch. When you touch money, you're touching cotton or paper. Money is an idea; a country is an idea; a government is an idea, so there are things that we consider real that we can't touch. Once I accepted that... that was a big catalyst. Because then you get into exploring emotion, exploring subtle energy in the body, and so on.

— Eric Brown, HEx Podcast #28


  • How does one balance spirituality with powerful work ethic?
  • The systems-based productivity approach Eric learned from startup culture.
  • Why everyone needs to start a blog, and how to do it.
  • The fear we all have of putting our our creative work and what to do about it.
  • How everyone wants to be successful but nobody wants to start at the beginning.
  • The comfortable good is holding you back from the difficult great.
  • The incredible but forgotten value of apprenticeship.
  • Erics step-by-step approach that made him indispensable at HighExistence.
  • How to design your own optimal productivity system.
  • The way Eric prioritizes his tasks to get a lot done while remaining happy.
  • How quick fix culture is preventing us from practicing deep spirituality.
  • Mindfulness of the present moment is the foundation Eric's life.
  • Jon and Eric make public productivity commitments.
  • Eric explains how we can manage our time to get that mysterious "work/life balance."
  • The value of psychedelics for both work and contentment.
  • Analogue vs. digital productivity tools.
  • Why no system will work without the right intention setting ritual.
  • Eric's view on the pomodoro technique, with pro tips.
  • Why we need to focus on THAT ONE THING each day, instead of multitasking.
  • Jon and Eric's favorite mobile and desktop apps.
  • How to get rid of bad habits and replace them with good routines that stick.
  • How we run Apotheosis retreats and what they're all about.
  • WAY MORE...
Direct download: final_eb_and_jb_podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33am EDT

"A lot of people talk about art and creativity being as being a spontaneous thing. I don't have those views. For me art is a developed practice as well. You can be truly artistic but have zero developed skill. And you can be not artistic and have a developed skill. There are multiple examples if you go and research it of whoever you think is the most creative painter you can imagine, you'll find that they did hundreds of hours developing a skill."

— Justin Noppé, HEx Podcast #27

Justin from a young age knew he was smart but struggled with learning. He later found out that it wasn't actually learning that he struggled with, but rather poor learning systems that were being used in his school. He set out on a life's journey to learn... how to learn and share his findings with the world. After graduating Justin went on to teach languages to people for 15 years, further decoding the patterns that take someone from fumbling in the dark with foreign grammar to entirely fluent in the shortest amount of time.

"The very simple thing to ask is when you are reading, what do you want? A lot of people are seduced by this idea of being the most efficient reader and speed-reading techniques. But speed reading techniques don't guarantee comprehension. As many people who I've met who say, "I can read a thousand words a minute" I can show you just as many studies that show that after 450 or 500 words a minute there is no more comprehension. So that person was only comprehending 50% of what they were reading any way."

— Justin Noppé, HEx Podcast #27

Justin has an encyclopedic knowledge on learnings systems, memory, the brain, and information processing that makes him able to chunk and complex skillset down into learning curve that is not only fast but extremely effective. I learned a ton just from speaking to Justin, and I know you will too.


  • Deep vs. shallow learning
  • How to turn raw data into a developed skill
  • The best ways to read for maximum absorption
  • How knowledge of self is the first step for good learning
  • The role of raw talent in creative pursuits
  • How to "download" a martial art into your mind like in The Matrix
  • The science of drilling and repetition
  • The way to use coffee in combination with napping
  • Justin's personal morning routine categorization process
  • How to use video recordings to cement knowledge in you mind
  • Justin's favorite books of all time
  • How to actually become wiser not just more knowledgeable
  • Tons more...


If you like this podcast, please remember to subscribe and leave a review! <3

Direct download: Justin_Noppe_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:52pm EDT

"To me a visionary is someone who really knows that we create our reality from the inside out and has the courage and the willingness to actually go within and create a vision, an image, from within the inner realms of our own mind that we can really hold to and picture on a daily basis and really connect to that vision. And literally from a neuroscience perspective, our mind doesn't know the difference between what we hold in the inner realm of our mind and what we see out there in reality."

— Laura Dawn, HEx Podcast #26

Laura Dawn is a true visionary. The child of two entrepreneurs, Laura learned from an early age that it is indeed possible to manifest the realities you envision, no matter how "crazy" they sound to others. At just fifteen, Laura took her first high-dose of psilocybin, which changed everything for her and opened up previously unaccessible dimensions of reality.

Today, Laura is a published author, speaker, and sacred plant medicine expert who runs visionary retreats. Her business accolades include growing her first online brand to 1.5M people on Facebook, and building a volcanic hot spring retreat center from scratch, all using the visionary techniques she practices and teaches.

"It's been a huge teaching for me understanding the subtlety between trying versus aligning. Trying to make something happen, pushing and striving versus aligning and allowing and really opening to divine alignments and what wants to unfold synchronistically without really me having to make any effort at all."

— Laura Dawn, HEx Podcast #26

I was first introduced to Laura through HighExistence co-founder Martijn Schirp, who worked with Laura at Synthesis retreat, and in this episode you will get to hear Laura and my first ever conversation.


  • What is a visionary?
  • Are visionaries born or made?
  • Laura's upbringing and what she learned from her parents.
  • Why we have lost faith in our own inner visionary.
  • How do we visualize properly?
  • The nuances of embodying the visionary archetype.
  • What are the psychological mechanisms behind visualization?
  • The difference between trying vs. aligning.
  • How Laura manifested her vision for a retreat center.
  • How one might use sacred plant medicines like Ayahuasca.
  • The power in paying attention to the voice of our intuition.
  • Laura's early experiments in micro-dosing.
  • Why wee need to check ourselves for spiritual narcissism.
  • The problem with viewing psychedelics as a "magic pill."
  • Laura's favorite books and thinkers.
  • The path of the bodhisattva.
  • Laura's advanced visionary retreat training program.
  • How might one integrate their psychedelic experiences.
  • The ways Laura balances outward productivity and inner work.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LAURA DAWN — Laura's retreat website — Laura's personal website

@LiveFreeLauraD — Laura's instagram


Getting Unstuck by Pema Chödrön

Noble Heart by Pema Chödrön

Bodhisattva Mind by Pema Chödrön

The Places that Scare You by Pema Chödrön

From Fear to Fearlessness by Pema Chödrön

If you like this podcast, please remember to subscribe and leave a review! <3

Direct download: Laura_Dawn_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EDT

“The Stoics can teach you how to find a sense of purpose in life, how to face adversity, how to conquer anger within yourself, moderate your desires, experience healthy sources of joy, endure pain and illness patiently and with dignity, exhibit courage in the face of your anxieties, cope with loss, and perhaps even confront your own mortality while remaining as unperturbed as Socrates.”
― Donald J. Robertson, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

Donald Robertson is one of the world's leading experts on Stoicism, especially how it relates to cognitive science and therapy. Donald has spent decades as a clinical psychologist and has been studying the great Stoic classics for just as long. Recently, Donald released a book, part biography, part self-improvement, about the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. It's a truly amazing read, as practical as it is enjoyable.

“When we reason well about life and live rationally, we exhibit the virtue of wisdom. Living in agreement with Nature, in part, means fulfilling our natural potential for wisdom; that’s what it means for us to flourish as human beings.” ― Donald J. Robertson, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

In my first interview with Donald, we covered a lot of general Stoic principles, but in this episode we look specifically at decoding the mind of Marcus Aurelius so we can start living more like this philosopher king.

“According to Stoic philosophy, when we assign intrinsic values like “good” or “bad” to external events, we’re behaving irrationally and even exhibiting a form of self-deception. When we call something a “catastrophe,” for instance, we go beyond the bare facts and start distorting events and deceiving ourselves. Moreover, the Stoics consider lying a form of impiety—when a man lies, he alienates himself from Nature.”
― Donald J. Robertson, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius


  • The Stoic training of Marcus Aurelius
  • The role of compassion in Marcus' life
  • The battle between Stoicism and sophism
  • The biggest influences on Marcus' development
  • How Marcus journaled and reflected on his day
  • The biggest mistakes and misconceptions when practicing Stoicism
  • The Stoic view of pornography and other temptations
  • Donald answers, do Stoics ever see themselves as victims of life
  • The incredible emphasis and techniques Marcus used to manage his anger
  • The hardships that beset Marcus' life
  • The level of plagiarism found in Stoic texts
  • Western philosophy and psychedelics
  • The role of mysticism and psychedelics
  • Much, much more!

If you like this podcast, please remember to subscribe and leave a review! <3

Direct download: Donald_Robertson_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40pm EDT

Most people have heard of Stoicism.

It's a philosophy dense with practical wisdom.

But how many Stoics do you know?

I don’t mean people who have read Meditations or Letters from a Stoic, I mean actual Stoics…

Individuals who are comparable to the authors of these books in their tranquility, wisdom, self-discipline, and joy.

This was a question I kept asking myself as I embarked on my study of Stoicism 10 years ago.

One of my passions is learning, or more specifically learning through systems.

I’m the guy who measures every workout at the gym, keeps detailed spreadsheets for my martial arts progress, and has pretty much every habit tracking app available on his phone. I believe technology, if harnessed correctly, can be an incredible tool for wisdom.

This is why, when I first started getting into Stoicism, I was disappointed by most peoples answer to “How do you ACTUALLY become a Stoic?”

Most of the time the answer was something like the following:

Read the original Stoic classics multiple times. Reflect on your day by journalling. Do a few visualizations throughout the day. Focus only on the things you can control.

It’s not a terrible answer, but it’s far from great. I needed a roadmap. I needed to know that I wasn’t going to be wasting my precious time focusing on the wrong things. I needed a system.

Since there weren't any available, I set out to create one (this would go one to become The Stoic Quest).

When I first started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu two years ago I realized the deep value of embodied wisdom. You cannot watch technique videos and expect to beat opponents at grappling. So much of the learning comes when you are faced with challenges you must overcome.

With Stoicism, many people spend time filling their heads with ideas and not putting any of it into practice. This means the time spent reading about the Stoic principles acts more like a distraction from problems than an antidote to them.

So how do we get around this? How do we get actually bridge the gap and put theory into practice and stop wasting time in intellectual lala-land??

That's what we discuss on the podcast today. On this episode, I relinquished my usual role as podcast host so I could sit in the hot seat. Fellow collaborator at HighExistence, Mike Slavin wears the interviewer hat and together we explore topics such as:

  • How I used Stoicism to overcome my social anxiety
  • The exercises I developed for reducing intense fear
  • The right and wrong ways to learn Stoicism (and anything else)
  • My favorite technique to live with more gratitude
  • The key components missing from modern Stoicism
  • My thinking process behind the Stoic Quest
  • And tons more

Visit to learn more about the Stoic obstacle course.  

Direct download: Gamifying_Stoic_Philosophy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06am EDT

"In the last couple years there's seemed to be a... decided shift [in my mind] in the direction of dethroning rationality as... the primary tool that I use to parse reality, and putting it in its proper place... And through deep listening and deep internal experiences and even mystical experiences, arriving at a sense of a felt at-home-ness in reality and in the present moment, in which you're trusting and surrendering to the flow of reality..."

— Jordan Bates, HEx Podcast #23

Today I'm excited to share one of the best conversations I've ever had. 

In sunny Costa Rica just before our recent Apotheosis retreat, I sat down with my brilliant colleague Mike Slavin to talk about transcending rationality. 

Especially in recent centuries, Western culture has placed rationality on a lofty pedestal, increasingly glorifying it as the most powerful tool for parsing / understanding reality.

This misguided over-valuing of rationality has resulted in untold misery.

Rationality is a wonderful servant but a dreadful master. Employing it as one's primary tool for parsing reality tends to result in nihilism, disenchantment, existential aridity, and a paranoid sense of being a stranger in a hostile, alien universe. 

"And that's where mystical experiences or psychedelic experiences can temporarily melt away those linguistic filters so that you come into raw, unadulterated contact with the all-enfolding Ocean of Reality, and you see that you are a wave on that Ocean, just as the tree is a wave on that Ocean. And when you have that direct experience there can be a direct apprehension of this Sacred Sigh of Relief: 'Oh, wow, I don't have to think this rationally, but I just know this in my heart: Everything is Okay.' Everything is deeply, truly Okay, and it's where it needs to be, and I'm where I need to be, and I see now that the neurotic rabbit holes and spirals of my rational mind have functioned as a nihilism-producing trap that was preventing and blocking me from having this direct apprehension of the gloriousness of Reality because I was attempting to use the rational mind for a function for which it is not well-suited."

— Jordan Bates, HEx Podcast #23

Humanity is presently being summoned to transcend obsolete and unsustainable modes of being, and one aspect of this level-up is dethroning rationality, becoming trans-rational, and rediscovering deeper, wiser, intuitive levels of human intelligence that re-enchant / reconnect self and Nature. 

Intrigued yet?

I hope so.

Mr. Slavin and I undertook a mission to spelunk the rabbit hole of trans-rationality, attempting to illuminate the failure modes of rationality, its appropriate function, and to map out a blueprint for transcending rationality to attain a more expansive sense of at-home-ness in Nature. 

This was a tall order, but I must say that I think we did a pretty damn good job...

You can decide for yourself. Without further ado, here is my extra-ordinary conversation with the luminous legend, Mike Slavin.


  • What may truly be deserving of the word "God"
  • Dethroning rationality as one's primary tool for parsing reality
  • Realizing rationality is a wonderful servant and dreadful master
  • Embracing, trusting, and flowing with the Mysterious River of Being
  • How to feel at home in the universe
  • The false security of being over-attached to one's models of reality
  • Why the map can never be the Territory
  • Why rationality can never quench one's existential thirst
  • Why dogmatically clinging to castles of concepts has plagued mankind for aeons
  • How Western culture has misguidedly glorified rationality as the ultimate tool for parsing reality
  • The immense power and value of mystical experiences
  • How mystical / psychedelic experiences melt away linguistic filters, allowing one to come into raw, unadulterated contact with the all-enfolding Ocean of Reality
  • The Sacred Sigh of Relief: Directly perceiving that everything is deeply, completely Okay in all moments and everything is where it needs to be
  • Much more...
Direct download: Bates_Mike_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

In May 2019, Jordan Bates and I (Jon Brooks) met up in London to attend the Rebel Wisdom summit.

Having not seen each other in the flesh for 6 months, we thought we'd celebrate our reunion by recording our first ever podcast together.

Jordan and I have always had incredible, dizzying, profound conversations about topics that frequently come up on HighExistence, and we've been intending to start recording them and releasing them as podcasts for quite a while.

There is this segment of the spiritual or psychedelic or new age community that seems to be participating in these things more from a place of ego and kind of trying to really wear the costume and have this kind of spiritual chic clothing and have all the markers of spirituality. It's kind of like spirituality and psychedelia are a fashion trend for some people, and it's kind of all about what's on your spiritual resumé, how many ayahuasca ceremonies have you had, etc. There's this kind of misguidedness around what spirituality actually means. And some people don't even realize the extent to which they're using spirituality as a persona and another game of appearances and status and virtue signaling rather than being deeply invested in the inner journey which is largely a thing that no-one sees. 

— Jordan Bates, HEx Podcast #22

Personally, some of my favorite podcasts are not strict interviews but more of the "hanging out" genre, were I get to see individuals I'm interested in riff on topics I'm curious about.

If you're a regular HighExistence reader, or anyone interested in spirituality for that matter, I encourage you to hang out with Jordan and me in this episode and leave a comment with your thoughts and questions. Let's keep the conversation going!

Here are some of the themes we delve into on this episode:

  • The toxic elements of modern spirituality
  • The psychological need to create personas and identities
  • The benefits and traps of "not caring what people think"
  • Spiritual narcissism and the shadow
  • The hidden danger of rebellion and non-conformity
  • The beauty and magnificence of ordinary folk
  • The limits of mass psychedelic healing in society
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a spiritual practice
  • The art of letting go 
  • And tons more...

If you enjoy this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review! 


Transformational Breath is a type of conscious connected breathing. It's a breathing awareness practice, and it's also a breath control practice. Essentially we breathe in what I'd describe as a conscious, rhythmic way where we don't pause between the inhale and the exhale. So we breathe in one continuous loop. And this type of breathing can help us tap into altered states. So we can use different types of breath to induce a trance-like state.

— Philippa Wilkin, HEx Podcast #21

Philippa Wilkin is a radiant, beaming healer and facilitator who uses the transformational power of the breath to help people let go of blocked emotions and live a flourishing and free existence. 

I first met Philippa at the first HighExistence Apotheosis retreat—she agreed to facilitate in a last minute change to the itinerary.

When I attended her breathwork workshop I was expecting good things, but what actually happened I could never have expected.

It was totally mind blowing and changed my opinion on the breath forever.

The breath is a profound healing tool, and if you're not using it you are missing a very important area for transformation.


  • What is transformational breath and how it links up with other self-improvement tools.
  • Philippa's involvement in Apotheosis retreats.
  • Jon's own experiences doing breathwork sessions with Philippa.
  • The amazing benefits practicing transformational breath.
  • Philippa's unlikely journey as a facilitator.
  • The approach Philippa takes with self-improvement and spirituality that differs from the mainstream.
  • How we can be better at practicing self-care.
  • Philippa's view on having prophetic visions and how they fit in with her understanding of the world.
  • Tons more! 


Direct download: Philippa_Wilkin_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:39pm EDT

Akira is something of a musical-philosophical wizard.

He's been called the DJ of the Intellectual Dark Web and is the innovator of a new genre of music called Meaningwave.

He samples Terence McKenna, Alan Watts, Jordan Peterson, Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace, Elon Musk, Jock Willink, David Goggins, and a variety of other philosophers, thinkers, artists, and inspiring figures.

And he synchronizes these samples in delicious ways with a wide array of gorgeous beats he conjures to create a uniquely enchanting and mind-expanding listening experience.

His album 'The Path' with Jocko Willink has been particularly influential for me lately; it's a ridiculously motivational album and I highly recommend it, along with the rest of his work.

We'll be interluding some of his music throughout this episode so you can get a taste of his art.

Akira is an extraordinarily insightful and entertaining individual, and we had a lot of fun in this episode exploring a truly vast expanse of territory.

We discuss everything from space migration and the Jungian shadow to transcendental experiences and the wonders of being alive in 2019.

Without further ado, let's get into it; I hope you enjoy this technicolor journey as much as we did.

Direct download: AKIRA_THE_DON_PODCAST_smaller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25am EDT

You may be having the most extraordinary psychedelic experiences. You may be communicating with DMT-entities. Mamma Ayahuasca might be visiting you nightly. But if it's not making you a kinder person. Then it's just a holiday. It's just a thrill. You might as well just be watching a movie. You might as well be watching Disney's Fantasia because it's not making you kinder person. It's not making you a more loving person. It might even be making you a worse person because you're becoming a self-regarding, vein dick.

— Jules Evans, HEx Podcast #19

If you look at the literature on ecstatic experiences, it often just focuses on psychedelic experiences, and it says this is the type of experience you can have when you're on LSD or magic mushrooms or MDMA and so on. That's a rather narrow way of looking at it. In fact, people have similar kinds of ecstatic experiences in lots of different domains, in lots of different fields of human activity. I'm a big admirer of Aldous Huxley, because I think he more than anyone else had this kind of bird's eye view of all the different ways in which people get out of their heads and go beyond their ordinary egos.

— Jules Evans, HEx Podcast #19

Jules Evans is a practical philosopher, writer, helps run the largest philosophy club in the world, and played a key role in the modern resurgence of Stoic philosophy. Jules' first book Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations, explores how ancient Greek and Roman philosophies (particularly Stoicism) can help us flourish today. His second book, The Art of Losing Control, explores how people find ecstatic experiences in modern western culture.
In this episode, we discuss:
  • The wonders and limits of Stoic philosophy
  • Near death experiences
  • Why Aldous Huxley was so great
  • The value of ecstatic experiences
  • Ayahuasca retreats stories
  • The dark side of psychedelics
  • Jules' most recommended books
  • And tons more...


What to you is the point of philosophy? [02:54]

How Jules became interested in Stoicism and Greek philosophy. [04:10]

Was your PTSD triggered by a bad LSD experience? [07:27]

What Jules could have done differently to manage the fallout from his difficult LSD trip. [10:06]

Jon discusses how he believes his levels of neuroticism has declined as he's gotten older. [11:36]

Jon shares his interest in Stoicism. [12:36]

Jon explains how he used Stoic techniques to help him cope with the fear of jaw surgery. [13:21]

How Jules used Stoicism to help him cope with social anxiety. [14:09]

Was simply learning about CBT and Stoicism enough for you to reduce your social anxiety, or was there a practical element too? [16:46]

Jules explains how cognitive bias, perfectionism, and poor coping strategies prevented hindered hindered his recovery from anxiety. [19:35]

Jules explains what happened in his near death experience (NDE). [22:02]

How Jules' epiphany from his near death experience led him to CBT. [30:54]

Stoicism is about being true to the god within you. [32:28]

How Jules connected his mystical experience with Stoicism, CBT, and eventually Buddhism. [32:54]

Jules explains his role in the modern resurgence of Stoicism. [34:17]

Some of the areas of human nature Stoicism doesn't address. [37:01]

Why did you call your second book The Art of Losing Control? [39:34]

Jules explains the wide-ranging states of ecstatic experiences. [41:04]

What are the main paths to losing control that you discovered in your research? [43:54]

Alcohol as a means to escape ordinary consciousness. [45:44]

Jules explains what he calls "The Festival of Ecstasy." [46:59]

Jules discusses how war, violence, and crowd rallying can be seen as ecstatic experiences. [52:12]

The worship of technology as a substitute for religion. [55:34]

The 1960s as the antidote to the Enlightenment's pathologizing of mystical experiences. [57:04]

Why is it normal for many of us fear going beyond our ego and have ecstatic experiences? [58:59]

What is a spiritual emergency? [01:05:46]

Jules explains how any route to transcendence can become unhealthy if it isn't approached wisely. [01:09:26]

How ecstatic experiences and psychedelics can lead to ego inflation. [01:13:44]

Jules discusses his first ayahuasca ceremony. [01:14:18]

The easy and the hard path to becoming a shaman. [01:16:34]

The dark side of psychedelics. [01:17:39]

What can we do to prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of ego-inflation when having ecstatic experiences? [01:19:11]

The only value of ecstatic experiences. [01:23:42]

Jules explains how after finishing his two books he then saw the limit of them. [01:25:03]

The mature Buddhist view of ecstatic experiences. [01:27:11]

How do you live your life both on a daily basis and in a more general sense different after doing the research for these two books? [01:29:03]

Jules discusses his post-Ayahuasca dissociated experience. [01:31:46]

The importance of understanding spiritual emergencies: a spiritual awakening which has temporary psychotic features. [01:34:27]

The things that can help people through spiritual emergencies. [01:37:04]

Jon shares a story about a friend's spiritual emergency. [01:40:11]

The danger of seeing your experience as unique and special. [01:42:37]

The rise in reporting of mystical experiences. [01:45:46]

Why we need a mature, nuanced terminology for ecstatic experiences. [01:46:54]

What are your favorite books on the topics you write about? [01:48:06]

Pema Chodron's personal crisis. [01:53:06]

Closing remarks and where to find out more about Jules. [01:54:18]


By Jules Evans:

  • Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations
  • The Art of Losing Control

On Stoicism:

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus

On Ecstatic Experiences:

  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
  • Moksha: Aldous Huxley's Classic Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience by Aldous Huxley


  • The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron
  • Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa
  • Ram Dass' Podcast

Other Books Mentioned:

  • The Making of a Counter Culture by Theodore Roszak
  • Spiritual Emergency by Stanislav Grof


Jules' Official Website:

Direct download: Jules_Evans_and_HighExistence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:18pm EDT

"If someone says, “I’m a fucking loser,” that’s a form of dishonesty. What you actually are is a collection of atoms talking to each other. To say that you’re a loser isn’t accurately describing yourself. To say, “right now I’m having a thought that I’m a loser and engaging in some self-pity around that,” that’s more accurate."
— Dan Munro, from HEx Podcast

“When I say I was working with criminal offenders, really I was just coaching people, and now I’m still coaching people it’s just they’re less likely to be in a gang these days.”

— Dan Munro, from HEx Podcast

I heard about Dan Munro from a friend who had received coaching from him. My friend was telling me how amazing this coach was and that he was even going to receive more coaching from him in the future.

I wanted to talk to Dan about coaching, so I arranged a call with him to pick his brains about this topic as well as connect in general. I was blown away by Dan's groundedness and willingness to share his ideas with me. As the call progressed, it turned out that Dan and I were already connected.

Dan told me that Donald Robertson, the Stoicism writer, was writing the foreword for Dan's new book on honesty. Quite the synchronicity considering I had recorded a podcast with Donald a few days prior.

Who is Dan Munro?

Dan Munro is a Confidence Coach based out of Auckland, New Zealand who now lives in the Czech Republic with his fiancé. Dan created the Brojo men's mastermind group which is growing every day, and is the author of The Legendary Life and Nothing to LoseDan also worked for many years as a probation officer where he learned how to make lasting change with the worst coaching clients you could wish to have—people who didn't want coaching.

Dan used to really struggle with authenticity, honesty, and making "real" connections. And as we know, it's usually the people who suffer in a particular area that go on to master it and become the best teachers.

There is nothing quite like hearing Dan's ideas straight from the man himself, however, so If you'd like to live a more authentic life, and walk through the world with more ease and confidence, give this episode a listen:

In the podcast, we discuss:

  • The role of honesty in confidence
  • The difference between good and bad coaching
  • How to deal with manipulators
  • The dark side of the pick up industry
  • What it means to "be yourself"
  • Dan's confidence boosting 30-day challenge

(Please remember to leave a review because it helps us to improve the podcast!)


  • What who Dan? [04:25]
  • Why do you focus so heavily on "confidence"? [05:27]
  • What is confidence? what does the word mean to Dan? [08:15]
  • The power of having core values. [11:55]
  • What did you used to be like and how'd you end up here? [14:15]
  • Dan's time studying pick up artistry and how it relates to authenticity? [20:25]
  • What kind of effects does "honesty" have on your coaching clients’ dating life? {25:25]
  • Jon Brooks talking about his experience with authenticity and dating. [30:25]
  • Should a self-hating person “be themselves”? [32:25]
  • The power of focusing on accuracy when trying to be honest. [36:15]
  • Do you ever lie or tell white lies, what is your relationship with the truth on a day to day basis. What would it take for you to tell a lie? [39:25]
  • How would you deal with coaching clients who are caught up in pathological relationships that are founded on lies? [44:25]
  • You mentioned that you worked with criminal offenders? How did that experience inform your understanding of psychology? [52:10]
  • How was your fear of confrontation obliterated when you were a probation officer? [57:42]
  • What is gaslighting? [63:35]
  • Who do you deal with invalidators or manipulators? [1:07:25]
  • How did you transition from being a probation officer to being a confidence coach? [1:12:10]
  • What is the difference between a good coach and someone who’s a bad coach? [1:15:17]
  • People who are avid readers, practicing good self-care, etc., might think, “I don’t need a coach.” Do you still think there would be value in coaching for this type of individual? [1:22:22]
  • Can coaches actually change their clients or is something else going on? [1:28:20]
  • Dan's thoughts on improving clients vs. revealing them to themselves. [1:33:39]
  • The power of human connection in successful coaching. [1:37:40]
  • What challenge would you give someone listening to improve their confidence? [1:43:55]
  • Where can people learn more about you? [1:47:22]


Direct download: dan_munro_podcast.mp3
Category:HighExistence -- posted at: 5:23pm EDT

Donald Robertson is the expert of experts when it comes to Stoicism—the ancient blueprint for living the good life.
Donald spends his days now residing in Canada writing books and creating online courses on how Roman and Greek philosophy can help us live more wisely. Prior to this, Donald spent over 20 years working in London as a psychotherapist.
What's so amazing about Donald is that he interweaves his academic career as a clinical psychologist with his love of philosophy to bring to life a very practical, wise, and ultimately healing ideas that we can all benefit from.
If you are at all interested in Stoicism, this podcast episode is a "must-listen."
Some things we discuss in the podcast:
  • The best books on Stoicism you've never heard of
  • The overlap between Buddhism and Stoicism
  • The intersection between psychotherapy and Stoicism
  • The Stoic version of enlightenment
  • How to think like Marcus Aurelius
  • Some of the criticisms about Stoicism
  • And tons more...




  • Why did you want to write a book about Marcus Aurelius? [00:48]
  • Why would anyone want to think like Marcus Aurelius? [10:08]
  • What is your experience as a psychotherapist? [11:35]
  • Did you ever combine psychotherapy with stoicism? [12:52]
  • What mental health problems will Stoicism help most with? [15:00]
  • Do Marcus and other Stoics live up to the hype? [19:26]
  • When did Marcus start training in Stoicism? [24:32]
  • What are the philosophical origins of Stoicism? [26:44]
  • how does one actually embody the stoic philosophy? [31:30]
  • What is the view from above exercise? [36:00]
  • What are the best books on Stoicism? [36:45]
  • How do you read Stoicism books? [38:26]
  • The role of socrates for aspiring Stoics. [42:40]
  • How do the Socratic dialogues relate to Stoicism? [44:00]
  • On a personal note, how has stoicism affected your own life? [46:36]
  • Why the ancient stoics are so iconic and memorable? [51:38]
  • What is the overlap between buddhism and stoicism? [53:55]
  • Do you think there’s a Stoic version of enlightenment? [56:43]
  • Modern stoicism focuses a lot on how to be, but what Stoic techniques can we use to cultivate more joy? [59:00]
  • Tranquility vs. virtue in Stoicism. [01:05:26]
  • Derren Brown in his book Happy says that an issue he has with Stoicism, a philosophy he generally loves, is that the stoics tend to demonize anxiety and anxiety is sometimes useful. What are your thoughts on this? [01:07:00]
  • The Stoic perspective on voluntary vs. involuntary emotions. [01:14:40]
  • Closing remarks, and more information on Donald Robertson. [01.20:00]
Direct download: Donald_Robertson_Stoic_Interview_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49pm EDT

"For those who would say that sugar is addictive, if that was truly at the root of the addictive nature that people have with some foods, you wouldn't see them seeking out cookies, you'd see them seeking out sugar packets. You'd want that raw cut at its most basic form. Heroin addicts don't want things cut with their heroin. So I think we need to think about it in a broader perspective."

Eric Helms is one of the most insightful, unbiased, and respected figures in the nutrition and exercise industry. For most of Eric’s career, he has worked as a coach for drug free strength and physique competitors at all levels.

But he’s not just a coach. Eric is a competitive athlete himself, and has pro status with the Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association and competes with the IPF at the international level as an unequipped powerlifter.

As if that wasn’t enough Eric has also published multiple peer reviewed articles on in exercise science and nutrition journals. He’s taught undergraduate and graduate level nutrition and exercise science and speaks internationally at academic and commercial conferences for fitness, nutrition, and strength and conditioning. He has a Bachelor of science in fitness and wellness, one masters in exercise science, a second masters in sports nutrition, and PhD in strength and conditioning.

Eric is perhaps most well-known for being one of the 3D Muscle Journey coaches and his amazing Nutrition and Strength Pyramid books. 

If you’re even slightly interested in your health or physique, this episode cannot be missed. Eric and I discuss intermittent fasting, how to spot bullshit advice, the problem with formulaic diets, whether sugar is toxic, how you can educate yourself properly, the benefits of lifting weights, and a ton more.

Direct download: Eric_Helms_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38pm EDT