Pedram Shojai on Why NOW Is The Right Time To Change Your Health

Content By: Ari Whitten & Dr. Pedram Shojai

In this episode, I am speaking with Pedram Shojai, OMD – the founder of Well.Org, the NYT Best Selling author of The Urban Monk, Rise and Shine, The Art of Stopping Time, and Inner Alchemy. We are going to talk about ways to fix your energy and live your life at your full potential. And why now is the right time to do it!

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Pedram and I discuss:

  • Why NOW is the right time to change your health
  • The power of meditation, tai chi, and QiGong for a healthier mind and body
  • The importance of listening to your body
  • A meditation exercise to calm your system

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Ari Whitten:  Hey everyone. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I am here with my good friend Dr. Pedram Shojai, who is a man with many titles. He’s the founder of The New York Times bestselling author of the book The Urban Monk, Rise and Shine, The Art of Stopping Time, and Inner Alchemy

He’s the producer and director of the movies Vitality, Origins, and Prosperity. He’s also produced several documentaries series like Interconnected, Gateway to Health, and the upcoming Exhausted series. Which I’m actually featured in as well. I’m very excited about that one because it relates to energy.

And in his spare time, he’s also a taoist abbot, a doctor of oriental medicine, a kung fu world traveler, a fierce global green warrior, an avid backpacker, a devout Alchemist, a chigong master, and an old school Jedi biohacker working to preserve our natural world and wake us up to our full potential. Eh, just like in his spare time he just dabbles in all of those things. So, welcome, my friend, always a pleasure to connect with you.

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Great to see you. Man, it’s exhausting hearing all of that. Who the Hell wants to do all of that?              

Ari Whitten:  I know it. I don’t know how you do it. I’m exhausted just reading it.

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  The moral of the story is one bite at a time, right?

Ari Whitten:  Yeah.

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  You know, it took a while to get there.

The critical importance of inner peace during these times

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. So, we’re in crazy times right now with COVID-19, people are scared. People are living in constant fear and anxiety watching the news. Which is obviously not helping the fear and anxiety. And is more than anything feeding into it. 

There’s a need for inner peace right now. And that obviously relates in a big way to energy and to superhuman energy levels, because fear and anxiety are huge energy drains. So, what I really wanted people to get out of this interview with you is what can people do for inner peace and serenity? Do you want to give kind of a broad overview of your thoughts on that?

 Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Yeah. I mean, first off, COVID-19, the virus sucks, don’t get it, right? I mean, it’s pretty obvious that the people who are getting and getting really sick are in bad shape, right? So, it’s a real deal. This isolation thing is a real thing. 

To me this is an amazing opportunity for those of us that are fortunate enough to be healthy right now, let’s be mindful of those who, you know, are struggling. But those of us that are fortunate enough to be healthy and, you know, Amazon’s still delivering food our houses and things like that are happening. You know, society hasn’t broken down, I haven’t shot any zombies, right?

Like this breakdown of civilization hasn’t happened. It’s just a very inconvenient thing. 

First off, I have all of these friends that are doing these Zoom cocktail hours. I can’t think of a worse idea than increasing the permeability of your gut, dehydrating your system, impacting your immunity in a way that is already compromising. And then maybe Advil or something that also impacts the gut microbiome and makes you much more susceptible to a virus that can basically kill you. Because your gut-associated lymphatic tissue is now not working, and you are making bad choices. Addictive substances that will ask you for more usage of addictive substances the night after, right? It’s just a terrible idea.

So, let’s reframe this and say, “You know what it’s time for a sabbatical.” There are very few people in our world that have the wonderful opportunity of being able to take time off and go on sabbatical. 

Man, look, I go on my computer I click around on Amazon and books show up. I have a meditation cushion that I always complain about not sitting on often enough. Now, I’m doing it more, right?

I have these practices like Qi Gong and yoga, which everyone’s like, “Oh, yeah, I wish I had time for that.” Well, what now? You’ve already watched Tiger King, you know what I mean? Like, come on, right? It’s not time for drama, it’s not time for alcohol, it’s time to reset your metabolism. It’s time to tap into your inner awareness and get your consciousness focused on what’s important to you. And decide what the plants are in your life garden that get the water, and redirect your life in a way – I mean, what a wonderful gift to reframe and use towards our own growth and evolution, right? So, that’s – I want to contextualize it by saying, “I don’t have any opinions about this,” right?

And look, attention is the currency of the information age. And our attention has been splintered all over

Facebook and Instagram, and, you know, the nightly news, and wherever the Hell your attention goes. What about a reframe of turning your attention inward, and focusing on what you want this thing called life to do for you in the limited amount of heartbeats you have left, right?

And so, right now, talking about measure thrice cut once. Now is a chance to look at your life and make decisions and plan things, and see things through, and catch up on sleep. Whatever it is, right? If you’ve been exhausted, now’s not a bad time to catch up on sleep, right? It’s not a bad time, you know, to start eating better. If not now, then when? When else are you going to get a chance when life, itself, pulled you over on the side of the road and said, “Stop. You’ve got to wait here for a minute.” Are you going to sit there and have a panic attack or are you going to listen to a book on tape, or are you going to breathe?

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. 

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  These are the moments that we have in front of us. Look, I’m not happy about Coronavirus. But I’m going to deal with it in a way that’s going to move my life forward and not sit here and feel sorry for myself. 

The best tools to optimize your health

Ari Whitten:  Speaking to that health element too – I think, there’s a unique opportunity there because we now have data showing that it’s 86 percent of people in the U.S., 99 percent of people in Italy of the people that died are people who had preexisting conditions. Hypertension, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in particular are huge, huge risk factors for dying from this. Having severe symptoms and dying, and we know that those are directly related to nutrition and lifestyle. They are diseases of lifestyle. 

So, this is really an amazing opportunity as we’re all sitting around for weeks and months waiting to get this virus, basically, to make some improvements in our health. And hopefully, increase our chance. I mean, that’s the most effective treatment we have right now. That’s our best chance of not having severe symptoms or dying. So, with that in mind, what are some of the biggest tools in your toolbelt that you want to give to people to optimize their health?

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Yeah. It all starts with what you alluded to which is lifestyle, right? And so, vitality is a function of lifestyle. It’s diet, it’s exercise, nutrition, which is part of diet obviously. But also, supplementation in this day and age. Sleep, sleep is absolutely critical. And, you know, you speak about it all of the time.

And then, mindset. People don’t really attribute that. But if your mindset is off, if you’re toxic – I mean, look, there’s some statistics right now. Domestic violence is up 80 percent, people are just bottled up and pissed off. And inflicting trauma on each other, right? And so, if your mindset is in that negative spiral, of course, you’re going to eat the Ding Dong, of course, you’re going to drink and to the aberrant behavior that kind of spins off from being pissed off about life. So, now’s not a time to let those things spiral either, right? And so, what is mindset? Mindset is about finding an outlook that makes sense. That gives you something to look forward to in the future. If you’ve been planning a career move, what are you doing about it now? If you’ve been planning on dropping 20 pounds, then why are you gaining weight now, right?

Like, you know, people are joking about the COVID-19. Dude, I haven’t been so healthy in years. I mean, I got a squat rack. I’m doing everything right now because I have the time and I’m loving it, right? And the people who are gaining weight and feeling sorry for themselves, their mindset needs to be tweaked around all of this, right?

So, lifestyle will allow for the vitality of the system to be there. The resilience of the system to be there. But there’s also something that is very powerful, not that many people are talking about this. Because you can’t put in a bottle, you can’t sell it, it’s not something that you could patent. 

But we understand that the genetic expression, the highest level of genetic expression of NF-kappaB pathways are triggered with mind-body exercises. Like Qi Gong, Tia Chi, yoga, meditation. What does that mean? That means we can influence the inflammatory cascades of the body at the highest level. Cytokine release at the highest level of gene expression by learning how to calm our minds and do mind-body practices and bring ourselves to this place of Zen.

If you think about the Holy Grail of medicine, inflammation is the mother of all disease. And now, I’m citing, and there’s tons of studies on this, there’s all of these studies showing how if you just do this and you start messing with this NF-kappaB pathway and suppressing this cytokine release hypersensitivity of the immune system, the inflammatory cascades – that is the elixir. I mean, that is the fountain of youth. You can’t sell it.

Here’s the problem, man. You got to do it. And for like a guy like Ari Whitten it’s not a problem because he already gets it. And he’s exercising, and he’s fit and, he understands you’ve got to do it. But most people, and look, I’ve seen tens of thousands of people and patients, and I’ve been around the block. Most people are waiting for me to hand them a solution. Most people are waiting for, you know, “Oh, this book didn’t do it,” “This book’s going to change my life.” Or “This guru’s going to change my life,” right? “I just haven’t found the right functional medicine doctor,” or “Astrologer.” And they’re waiting for a fix from the outside.

This fix comes from the inside. And the fix has to come from an internal locus of control that taps into this thing that no one’s talking about. Which is your consciousness. What the Hell is that, right? And who just asked that question? Those questions, I mean, when else, to turn your attention in and go, “Who am I? Who am I really? And how do I control this meat suit and this flesh going around? And how can I coordinate my breath with this movement and go back to the elemental primordial things like movement and breathing? And then, kind of build from there and come back out as a conscious being?” That to me is the correction for 90 percent of the crap we’re dealing with in society, let alone with their immunity, and their and health, and our nervous breakdowns. And what better time than now? 

The role of Tai-Chi and Qi Gong in health

Ari Whitten:  So, there are some people out there who are totally unfamiliar with pretty much everything you’re talking about. And maybe who, you know, they’ve maybe seen on TV some video of some elderly folks in China who are, you know, doing Tia Chi in the park or something like that. And they’re like, “Well, what in the Hell is that going to do for me? And what are these goofy looking movements going to do, and how does that relate to consciousness and health?” 

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Great question.

Ari Whitten:  What is the link there? 

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  So, okay, let me preface this by saying, the Chinese people are an incredibly pragmatic people. In 1.4, next time I blink it’ll be 1.6/1.8 billion of them. You know, there’s so many Chinese people that for 5,000/7,000 years have been practicing these things like Tia Chi and Qi Gong religiously. A pragmatic people would stop immediately if they didn’t see benefits, right? Pure and simple, this stuff works, right? You know, I did it my first time and I was like, “Holy crap what’s that?” That was it. I was pre-med at UCLA. I was a scientist. And it was just like I experienced this thing that I could not deny the experience of. 

So, what is it? It’s the coordination of eyes, mind, body, and breath. It’s the ability to take all of these disparate pieces of ourselves that we take for granted. I mean, breath forget about it. This is an autonomic thing, you do it in one day, all of the sudden if you get shortness of breath you become aware of your breath. But other than that, it’s a thing, right? It goes under the radar.

Bring that back into the light of awareness. Now, your body movements. When’s the last time you focused on those while slowing down and breathing and integrating the sensory-motor strip of your brain. Bringing yourself back from the amygdala up to the prefrontal cortex.

Let me get into a little bit of dorky neuroanatomy here. When you’re in fight or flight when you are so stressed out about your bills, and so stressed out about the world, and, you know, what’s happening out there that you feel like the walls are caving in. You go into this sympathetic nervous system response where the blood drains from your prefrontal cortex. Goes back to your hindbrain and your amygdala and it starts to make emotional irrational decisions. Because you’re panicking and you’re just running around flailing like a crazy person, right? 

And that’s everyone around us. That’s us in a lot of circumstances. We don’t make conscious decisions. This part of the brain is high moral reasoning, negation of impulses, right? Think about that. And problem-solving. Negation of impulses. I know I shouldn’t eat that cheesecake, but I’m going to because I can’t help myself. That part of the brain shut off, right? I know the guys are, I mean this is a world past, the guys are in town they want to get a drink, but I was supposed to go to the gym and hang out with my wife and kids. Bad decision ended up drinking. Had a bunch of nachos, was grumpy, you know, kick that can down the road. 

All of these bad decisions come from the inability of the prefrontal cortex to do its job because we don’t live here. These mind-body practices have demonstrated time and time again that they bring the blood, they bring the energy, and they bring the locus of control back to the part of the brain that allows you to make better decisions for yourself. That’s like the primary level. They balance your nervous system with proprioception, they help, you know, you see the old people in the park doing it because it helps them with their balance. It strengthens their legs. 

What happens when you have more muscle tissue in the big muscles of your legs, Ari Whitten? More mitochondria. More access to energy, right? I mean, there’s a gagillion reasons to do it. And the only reason it looks weird is because culturally we’re racist, right? You say, “Oh, well that’s a Chinese thing.” Or, you know, “That looks weird.” And that’s all been built into mental paradigms that are crumbling in front of us. Because the healthcare system was designed for what it’s doing right now. 

It ended up serving a chronic illness population because if you just have a bunch of people that can’t manage their own diabetes or can’t manage their own heart conditions because of the diets and lifestyles. And you have a multibillion trillion-dollar industry out it, sure we’ll take it. But then, when everything starts to snap you realize what allopathy is good at and where lifestyle is supposed to begin, right? 

So, the world is crumbling, you stand up, you start doing mind-body practices. You start learning things that are good for you if you want to stand a chance. I mean, it’s kind of do or die moment for people who are now – we’ve got our backs against the wall. You said it best. The virus is coming for you. It’s not like you’re going to hide in your house forever, you’re eventually going to get it. All of this crap that’s happening in the media and all of this crap that’s happening in politics isn’t about you individually. It’s about society at large having enough hospital beds to minimize the deaths.  You’re going to get it and you’re either going to get really messed up and die or not. And it’s a function of your vitality.

And waiting for a vaccine. That’s really controversial, and a lot of people are like, “I can’t wait they’re going to give me the vaccine. Maybe they can microchip me.” And, you know, whatever it is. There’s a lot of like really hot debate about whether that’s a conspiracy or not. I’m not even going to get into that. I, personally, am not the kind of guy that’s going to wait around for a vaccine, you know, that’s going to fall from the sky. And then, they’re going to save me. I’m going to be in the best shape I possibly can be. I’m going to be loaded up with the supplements. I’m going to boost my vitality. I’m going to boost my energy. And I’m going to have this body resilient so that whether its Influenza-B, Coronavirus-19, or, you know, SARS-4.0. They will keep coming, right? 

So, how do you get ready? It sure as Hell ain’t, you know, Doritos and Tequila on Zoom calls, right? And that’s the paradigm that needs to break. Is don’t be stupid. You know, that came is over, you have to love yourself. You have to bring your body back online.  

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. So, Qi Gong? Let’s say somebody’s totally unfamiliar with it. How do they get started?

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  I mean, there’s videos all over the place. All over YouTube. I’ve got, you know, free videos. I’ve got a two-week free trial of my academy. It’s easy just, you know, go sign up, there’s videos, right? Ideally, you do it in person. I already canceled one of my quarterly retreats, and, you know, the next one might be canceled because the world changed, right? But I’ve videotaped a bunch of the Qi Gong I learned.

I mean, I studied, I was a senior student and an abbot Taoist master. So, my grandmaster escaped from the Yellow Dragon Monastery, burned it down, killed everyone. He was the only guy that got out. Went to Chinatown, San Francisco. Moved to L.A., taught my main teacher. Taught me and my main teacher. I come from a lineage. I studied with the Dalai Lama. You know, I study with a number of different Qi Gong masters, and so, they’ve brought this down for thousands of years. I’m not the only guy that teaches this. I’m not saying it’s the Pedram Show. But I’m saying there are people that have devoted their lives to learning this and are disseminating this information. 

The one caveat I want to say, the one thing I want everyone to be careful about when looking for a teacher – is make sure that their orientation, their operating system is about empowering you, teaching you the practices, teaching you how to fish, and let you thrive in life. If it’s all about them, it’s all about the great master, and it’s all about, you know, kind like the guru vibe, run. Because that’s a trap. That’s old world, that’s donkey crap, right? Like, don’t fall for the guru crap. Go to someone who freely shares information, and wants the best for you, right? It’s not about them, it’s about you, right? That’s the only caveat I’d say there. There’s a lot of very well-intentioned people. And there’s douchebags, right? Like there’s douchebags everywhere. 

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. I also want to mention, obviously, Pedram is a personal friend of mine, I’ve known for several years now. And I’ve even taken on of his Qi Gong courses in person. Over the course of a few days, and it’s phenomenal. I highly recommend – this is not a sales pitch. He’s putting out information for free in many cases. But I just want all of the listeners to know like you can get great practices from Pedram, and I highly recommend it.

So, beyond Qi Gong, what other things do you think people should be aware of when it comes to maximizing energy levels? What should people be aware of? They should incorporate a Qi Gong practice, what else are your top tips as an Urban Monk, and kung fu avid world traveler, Jedi biohacker? 

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Yep. All of that, right. Is the answer. And so, you know, we could get into the tactics, right? I spent an hour and a half in my infrared sauna. I did a eucalyptus steam today. You know, I do all sorts of things. 

Because what’s more important to me here is conveying a mindset or an operating system first. Think of energy as cash, right? It is cash flow and it is moving through your life. So, what you want to do is maximize the revenue, maximize what’s coming in, and minimize the expenses, and then, all of a sudden, it’s bearing interest and making you money. And your money makes money, right? Most of us live on this paradigm of living on the breadline of energy, right? I got just enough to barely get through my day, and then I crash and watch some stupid TV show and like wake up, you know, need coffee. And, you know, rinse and repeat. And borrow from tomorrow’s energy today to get through. 

I would love to bust through that paradigm and say, what if you stepped into an energy abundance mindset and were constantly doing pretty much everything you can all day to maximize your ability to generate more and more energy so that you could live a bigger life. A brighter life. Have ultimate immunity, right? Instead of like drinking whiskey, and then taking Advil, and then, you know, sleeping-in. You know, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Let’s shift out of that scarcity consciousness when it comes to energy to just make ends meet into having an overwhelming amount of energy that then you plug into some sort of benevolent thing. Whatever it is for you in your life, right?

And you look at Ari, he builds muscle tissue and that muscle tissue generates more energy. Ari has a big life because Ari has the capacity, he’s the machine he’s built. He’s got a healthy economy. A healthy energy economy running inside this physiology of his body, and that’s been his message, right? For me, it’s the same thing. It’s like, I’m doing all of my pull-ups and push-ups and squats. I’m hiking, I’m running, I’m biking. You know, fortunately, I got the Hell out of California and I live, you know, in a place where nature isn’t shut off. So, I at least have access to nature here, right? But I’m doing all of these things that are energy supportive, right? Because who knows? Kids go to school, they come home with buggers. You’re going to get a hit. You know, like, you’re always going to be exposed to stuff.

My answer is to do it all. And do it all every day. Don’t do it all when you’re like, “Oh, man, I feel tired I should refill the tank.” Keep the tank full. And then, have it overfill.

The top three tools to upgrade your overall health

Ari Whitten:  What are your biggest, let’s say your top two or three biggest, you know, no compromise, you always do these things because they are just so vital and important to your physical health, your mental health, your spiritual health? 

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  I will get up and do a Qi Gong set every morning, religiously. I do it before I pee. It’s like this automatic thing. The first thing you do, you know, normally when you stumble out of bed as you walk over to the bathroom, you pee. Get up and start kind of thinking about, you know, where your coffee is, right? And so, that’s kind of the automatic American, you know, like when you turn on your iPhone it’s the first image see kind of thing. 

I hijack that immediately with a mind-body practice. And I do Qi Gong in the morning. Then I’ll go pee and then I’ll come and sit down. I’ll light a candle and I’ll sit down for about 15 minutes and just gather myself, calm my mind, you know. And then, towards the end, I’ll think about my day, and I’ll see my day through how I want it to go, right? It’s not arbitrary that I’ve written all of these books and made films and done all of this stuff. I’ve had clarity enough to see through the outcomes so that my – here’s the real secret, right? And this will go over some peoples’ heads and I’m sorry, but this is the answer. Is in Chinese medicine and Taoism, the Shen or the spirit that is locked into your eyes is where your focus is. It’s where your attention is. 

Your energy, your Chi, will always follow your Shen or your spirit. And if you can keep your focus on something long enough and have the robust energy system to power energy into that. It’s like watering a plant. The entire universe will eventually start, this matter will start to assemble around it, and you will see things manifest in your life. So, your focus will drive your energy. Which will eventually resolve into a material form. So, what’s it going to look like, right? So, if you’re seeing chaos in your life, it’s a reflection of chaos in your mind. So, the first thing you do is calm the mind and settle the chaos. And then, you spend your entire day doing things that support your energy. 

I guess my second tip would be every 25 minutes I have a timer go off and I get up, I’ll do lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, whatever. I will not – still water, you know, breeds poison. So, I will not let stagnation win. And if I feel like lying down because I’m exhausted or whatever it is, then I’ll lie down for those five minutes. But give your body what it needs. Twice an hour for five minutes each time, and honor that, right?

And then, I’ll always, rain or sunny, it’s been snowing like crazy here this morning, I still take the dogs out. I will always go spend some time in nature and just check-in with the trees. And listen to the cadence of mother nature. Because that’s were my cells came from, right? And unless you’re from some other planet, you have the same situation going on. And so, we have this rapidly accelerating sense of time that creates anxiety, because we’ve created all of these kind of timelines that we hold ourselves to. And we’re, you know, just living in faster time. Go find a tree and breathe with it. I’m not, you know, look I’m not some tree-hugging dude, right? I have very legitimate stuff that I do in my life. I love hippies, I love conservatives, I love people, right? Go see the pace or the cadence of that tree. And if you’re in the northern hemisphere right now, they’re blossoming, and they’re blooming, and there’s this like bubbly energy. There’s like an effervescence happening outside, right?

And if you’re in the southern hemisphere when you’re listening to this then you can see things contracting. What does that mean for you, right? And so, nature will always be your teacher, natural will always give you clues and cues as to how you should run your burn rate. And if your burn rate is out of sync with the natural environment around you, typically, that’s when I found my patients always got sick.

Ari Whitten:  You just made me think of the famous quote from Joseph Campbell, “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe. To make your nature match nature.” Yeah. That was always something that I always felt was just such succinct encapsulation of when I’ve always felt my best.

You know, I went up to the mountains recently. I told you about it, for my wife’s birthday. And we went skiing up in Big Bear. We stayed in a cabin for a few days. And I went for some walks in the forest there, just by myself really early in the morning before anybody else was up. No car noise. No planes. All you could hear was just silence, and then wind going through the trees. And nothing else. And it had such a profound effect on my mind, like very, very noticeable, it was not subtle. It was like an immediate very profound calming of my mind and all of the mental chatter. Just by being in nature in silence.

And it felt good. You know, all of the latent anxiety that’s always bubbling under the surface. All of your million items on your to-do list. So, it was there, it was there it was just like all of that melted away. And it just – and you got to meld with nature for a couple of days, and it felt really, really good.  

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  So, that’s like a homecoming, right? Like that is – you know, I’ve been kind of – I’m just finishing a book right now, so I’m in like philosophy mode. 

We often tend to think that the solution set to our complicated lives has to be as equally complicated. Like, I’m running through all of these thoughts that I got to pick up a piece of paper and start writing stuff and writing stuff. And what if the solution to the complexity was actually simplicity?

And because we’re coming from such a crazy operating system, we feel like simplicity can’t be it, and yet you go out for a walk and all of a sudden you hear the breeze. And it captures you and it brings you to this stillness that is your birthright. And, you know, the rest of it just suddenly is what it is. It’s just noise. 

And you don’t have to react to the noise. You don’t have to come from the noise. If you come from the stillness – there’s a saying in the Esoteric Tarot and the Cabalah, which is, “All of the power that ever was or will be is here now.” In this moment, can you stop time and tap into the ultimate source of infinite energy, right? That’s that other math. Like there’s an absolute fundamentally correct equation of like calories in and calories out and building and all of that stuff. Yes. Yes. You eat, you know, you eat to gain energy. You metabolize and there’s very good well-articulated systems, and people that speak to that way better than I would. 

But then there’s this other math. That I found in Nepal, and India, and the Himalayas. Which comes from shutting the Hell up, and listening to your breath, and following the sound of the wind. That taps into – and the best example I could give is like, you know, watermills work and water just kind of makes them turn and generates energy. There’s all of this energy. There’s cosmic radiation, there’s x-ray radiation, there’s sunlight, there’s all sorts of energy flowing through your body right now. So, if you could stop and put this little watermills or windmills in your body and just allow the movement that’s going through you to become dynamos and generate energy – what would that look like?

If you were to stop time and feel where true energy comes from, what would that feel like? This isn’t a philosophical question like it’s cute to talk about it. The only way you get there, folks, is to meditate. The only way you get there is to do mind-body practice and experience it because talk is cheap. 

So, like I can only lead a horse to water, I can’t give anyone that realization, or that understanding, or that energy, but I can tell them that there’s a pretty good body of work from thousands of years from people that dedicated their lives to doing this for millennia that all concur. That all just shut up, and sit down, and breathe. And there’s a lot of gold there.

Ari Whitten:  Right. With that in mind. I would love to leave, and this is not something we planned, but I know you’re so good that you’ll be able to run with this. I would love to leave people with some bit of a practical exercise from this talk. Let’s say people have no experience with mediation, no experience with Qi Gong, can you take them through a very simple practice right now as way to get started?

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Sure. Let’s close our eyes. If you’re driving in your car don’t do that. Keep your eyes open and do the same thing, right? But let’s focus on bringing on our next inhale, our breath down, about three fingers below our navel to what we call our lower [inaudible] in our Taoism practices. Inflate it like a balloon on the inhale. As full as you go, and then as you exhale release the air and deflate that balloon. In the nose, out the nose. We’ll just take a couple of breaths here and settle our mind down to this point three fingers below our navel. Breathing in. And out.

Tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth. If you’re standing slightly bend your knees. If you’re seated already just relax your legs and keep your spine straight. We’re going to flip our visualization now. Now that we’ve anchored our breath. In the interest of time, you should do that for five/ten minutes every day anyway, it’s just that kind of preliminary breathing.

In the next inhale I want you to pull energy in from every cell of your body all the way from, you know, like around your arms, your shoulder, your head, just like every cell of your body pull energy in deep, deep, deep to the core of your body. All the way to your spine. And just pack that energy in on the inhale. And on the exhale release that energy out towards infinity in every direction, like a lightbulb that just turned on.

Inhale, drink back in, bring energy into your spine all the way up to your spinal column into your brain. And just pack your bones full on that inhale. And then, exhale, just release it out in every direction in the brightest, whitest, pure light you could imagine. Just do this for about three or four seconds. 

Do one more cycle. And then after your exhale, just bring your breath back to your lower [inaudible] and lower diaphragmatic breathing. Take a couple more breaths there. Then we’ll slowly come back. It makes you not want to leave. How do you feel, Ari?

Ari Whitten:  Awesome. Very calm. Very serene. 

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  So, the interesting thing about this, I mean we did it for, I don’t know, three minutes, is it’s an energized calm versus like a Red Bull or a caffeiney type or edgy energy, right?

Ari Whitten:  Yeah.

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  And so, how can we take our life into better directions while staying calm and having energy that’s pure and true, that allows us to kind of make decisions based on clarity, right? And there’s something magic that happened just in the time that we did this. Lower diaphragmatic breathing, tip the tongue touching the roof of the mouth, knees bent having the calves relax. Three of the main triggers to shift the nervous system from SNS or sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system.

So, what we’re doing is, you know, neurons that fire together, wire together, we’re training our nervous to go back to that rest and digest peacetime economy, versus always being at war. Now, people will go, “Oh, that’s great. How long should I do that? Five minutes? Ten minutes?” How about all day, right?

If you can boot this into your operating system and constantly remember to just breathe like this, it allows your digestion to be optimized. It allows your immunity to be optimized. It allows your hormones to function better. Think about it, you want to be an optimized machine. You can’t do it in a wartime economy. People are throwing bottles at each other.

Get your consciousness back to a place where your body’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing and then, yeah, viruses, bacteria, whatever it is, you’re in a better situation. You’re in a better position. You have resilience. You have vitality. And you’re better capable of handling it, right?

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. 

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  So, for me, it’s not saying do this once a day. It’s saying, “Yeah. Okay. Do it once a day and build a habit of it.” But I’m doing it all of the time, every chance I get. I’m like, “Oh, yeah, breathe down.” 

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. I want to say everybody listening to this practice might seem simple. And it might seem like, “Oh, okay. You know, that was nice.” But I want to tell you that this type of practice and I practice Qi Gong and I practice yoga as well – this type of practice, if you make a daily practice and you do not compromise on making it a daily practice. You really make it a habit as part of your life, this little thing that Pedram just guided you can absolutely be the start of something that is genuinely transformative in your life.

I mean, the level of equanimity, of emotional calmness, of serenity, of being able to handle crazy stressful moments in my life and stay in a place of peace and serenity has just skyrocketed as a result of these kinds of practices. So, I really cannot emphasize how transformative this can be.

Pedram this has been awesome. Thank you so much. Are there any final words you want to leave people with? And I almost want to cue you to come back to this thing you said before about [chen] and about where the eyes focus, and about how that helps manifest what you want to create in life. Can you maybe leave some people with a bit of emphasis on that point?


Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Yeah. I mean, so, where your eyes focus, your energy flows and that’s where matter assembles. When’s the last time your eyes closed and you’re focused turned inward, right? And that is where we are losing ourselves, right? The Buddhists call them hungry ghosts. We’re stumbling around looking for someone to tell us what to do and be entertained and all of that. It’s time to come home, right? This is a time of sabbatical. And it’s a chance to turn inward. Figure out who you are. Figure out what makes you happy. Stop doing the things that disrupt your life. Stop doing the things that are toxic and turn your focus inward. And the energy will come inward, and it will start to resolve, and you will step through the chaos, and you will take much better-measured steps. And you’ll start to see the results in your life. 

The energy is the fuel. And if you are fueling chaos, you start to diminish your energy because you don’t want to create more chaos. If you create an ordered system, and your driplines going to every plant that you definitely want to live I this garden, then more water creates more abundance and more happiness. So, cut the chaos, find that peace, and then there’s a reason to have more energy. You can live a bigger life. You can have more meaning and purpose. You have a bigger signature, an imprint in this planet. It’s not just your energy. You’re a conduit of energy here, now, in this world. What are you going to do with this life?

Ari Whitten:  Beautiful. My friend, thank you so much. Brilliant as always. Always a pleasure connecting with you. And thank you for sharing your wisdom with all of our listeners.

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Ari, I’m a big fan of your work. You’re awesome, keep it up, man.

Ari Whitten:  Thank you, brother. The feelings so mutual. Talk to you soon.

Dr. Pedram Shojai:  Thank you.


Show Notes

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