Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube

Meditation has become wildly popular in the past decade or so.

So popular, in fact, that’s it’s easy to write it off as another “woo woo” fad, like water fasting, cupping therapy, or lectin-free diets.

It’s not, though.

While the health benefits of meditation are often overblown, it’s hard to argue with the subjective benefits it provides.

I don’t have much personal experience with meditation, so I wanted to pick the brain of someone who does: Ben Pakulski.

Ben has been through intense highs and extreme lows in his life as a professional bodybuilder, and he’s used meditation to help him grow from these experiences for over a decade.

So . . . if you’re curious if carving out some time every day to meditate can actually improve your ability to cope with and benefit from life’s many stressors, this episode is for you.

Time Stamps:

5:50 – Why are you getting into meditation and what does it do for you?

13:21 – How did it look before and after you had overhauled your ability to focus?

19:57 – Do you find it hard to switch hats from a businessman to a family man every day?

21:44 – Have you written down the traits of each of your avatars?

36:59 – What’s your plan for your new venture?

46:07 – What does spirituality mean to you?

51:04 – What’s an example of an altered state of consciousness?

52:18 – What do you think experiencing an altered state of consciousness means?

1:21:28 – Where can people find you and your work?

Episode Transcript:

Mike : [00:05:46] Big Ben, thanks for coming back on the show, man.


Ben : [00:05:49] Mike, I’m so grateful that you had me on, man. You’re a gentleman I look up to from afar and I’m grateful to always have a chance to talk to you.


Mike : [00:05:56] Thank you. Thank you. So had a few little ideas that I wanted to pick your brain about. That’s why I wanted to ask you to come back on the show. So I’m just going to jump right into the first one. So I thought that you had recently got into meditation, we were just talking right before we started recording, it’s something you’ve been into for some period of time now but you’ve gotten more into it recently.


Ben : [00:06:23] Yeah.


Mike : [00:06:23] So tell me about that. I’m curious what it does for you and then why are you getting into it more? You’ve mentioned getting more into a spiritual or just looking more into spiritual things as opposed to just getting bigger muscles.


Ben : [00:06:40] Sure, man. So I started meditating in 2007, so I was aspiring to be a professional bodybuilder, I wasn’t professional at the time. And I had a guy who came into my life, kind of by accident, he was actually a therapist, a physical therapist and, you know, laying there on his table, he’s doing manual work on me.

And, you know, I tell him about my life and tell him about the problems I’m having, the stresses I’m having and how people are, you know, rubbing me the wrong way. You know, there’s certain people in everyone’s life who rub you the wrong way. And he goes, “well, why do you let them do that to you?”

And I was like, “what do I mean? I’m not doing anything, you know? It’s them,” like, getting a little snappy and defensive. And he goes, “well man, you know, maybe that’s saying more about you than you realize. Maybe the fact that you let other people influence you is something you should think about.”

And I was like, “well, you know, tell me more about that.” You know, asking questions and he’s basically like, “well, ultimately someone outside of you shouldn’t be able to influence who you are and how you act and the person that you are ultimately the person you bring to the world.” So he mentioned this thing about meditation and controlling your emotions and controlling your reactivity to stuff and becoming more responsive and rather than reactive.

And that was really my first kind of exposure to that thought process. You know, up to that point, in my life, I was 25, 26, I just kind of existed. You know, I hadn’t been aware of the reality that there was an opportunity to respond rather than react. And he’s like, “Well, why don’t you try this, you know, try to meditate.” And so he gave me a book by Wayne Dyer and sat down and read the book.

I wasn’t that much of a student at that time. I’d been through university and such but my passion was bodybuilding so I thought all I have to do is lift weights and eat protein. So I read this book and, you know, ultimately that changed my life. And made me realize that no one or nothing outside of you should influence who you are and what you bring to a situation. And that was just my weakness as a human.

And as I started to dive more into this meditation thing, I realized that I had the ability to not only control my thoughts, but control my actions, control my words. And to me, that’s such a powerful place to come from, right? Like, I am in control of everything that comes out of my mouth. I’m in control of everything that goes through my mind and the way that I act, the way I react or respond.

So, you know, meditation for me started back then. Meditation in kind of spurts throughout my bodybuilding career because you could imagine being a big bodybuilder, sitting in a meditative pose wasn’t a comfortable thing. [Laughing] And I didn’t realize that was part of it, you know, like that was part of the benefit of meditation. I think people missed that.

Like most people sit down in, you know, a cross-legged pose on the floor or even just sitting in a chair and then like, “oh, I can’t do this for a long time. I can’t. It’s uncomfortable. It hurts my back, hurts my hips, or whatever.” That’s part of the meditation. You know, that’s the ability to focus through that, to calm down your mind, calm down your nervous system through those anxious, uncomfortable situations.

That’s the meditation. And when I started to realize that like, if you can’t, you must, that just became this road for me that was so appealing. I’m like, “God, if I can’t do something, I have to.” So now I literally look for situations like that where I’m like, “why am I uncomfortable like this? Good, I want to stay here. I want to learn how to breathe through this. I want to focus my mind on something other than, you know, the massive amount of discomfort that I’m in right now. And when I finally started to see how …


Mike : [00:09:56] What types of situations?


Ben : [00:09:58] Sitting in a meditative pose. Can you sit cross-legged on the floor for 30 to 60 minutes? Most people are going to start getting itchy, then they get uncomfortable, they want to scratch their nose, move their leg, hips are going to start getting tight, legs can fall asleep. Realizing that all of those things are just manifestations of remind and your nervous system.


Mike : [00:10:13] I’d say probably an even easier place to start that still would be difficult for many people, maybe even for me, would be just sitting in a chair comfortably for 30, 60 minutes …


Ben : [00:10:24] With a straight spine, right? You have to keep an arrow straight.


Mike : [00:10:29] You’re not watching TV, you can’t. You just have to sit there and just be there comfortably for 30 to 60 minutes, right?


Ben : [00:10:36] Now, imagine the value and the power that brings to any situation. Mike, you sit down and write books, you sit down and read books, you sit down and have a conversation with someone, who’s an employee, even your spouse. Like the ability to be there, and be present, and be focused, and not distracted, and not picking your nose, and not scratching the itch, and not fidgeting, but actually being able to be there and be present in the conversation or in the situation is maybe the most powerful gift or the most powerful power that anyone could bring to a situation.

And the reason you’re a successful business guy, Mike, is because you have focus, and the ability to train that focus is a superpower. So soon as I kind of discovered that which, to be honest, in its entirety, wasn’t until after professional bodybuilding, and I’ll tell you a little bit about that story quickly. But, you know, my life has changed, man.

My ability to deliver high-quality, focused content, focused results, focused output is tremendously different. I’m a different human being, you know? I’m different in relationships, I’m different in business, and different in everything. So just to kind of extend the conversation, why this or how this spiritual journey kind of transcended …

So I was a professional bodybuilder for 10 years, you know, competed in the highest stages in the world. The Arnold, the Olympia, all that fun stuff, and I loved it and I loved it when I was doing it. And then when it was time for me to leave and there’s many reasons why I left, my health was great – the primary catalyst for me leaving was this realization that I got to the pinnacle. I got to what I thought would have made me fulfilled and happy as a human.

You know, I got to the Olympia multiple times, I got to the Arnold multiple times, and I was not any different than the insecure boy that started, you know, I was now a man. And ultimately the level of insecurity that I had was still there and it didn’t make me happy. It didn’t make me happy to be on stage at the Olympia, it didn’t make me feel fulfilled, I didn’t love it anymore.

So I was like, okay, well, I made it to this mountain, to the top of this mountain that I thought was gonna be everything I always wanted in life, you know? And I got there and I realized, “oh, well, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be.” So, well, what is? Where’s the journey? And then you realize that – I think most people have this realization at some point in their life, you know, you’re trying to accumulate external things.

Whether it be money or material goods or in my case muscle. And you finally reach that goal that you set for yourself. You know, I want to make 50 million bucks, I want to put on 100 pounds of muscle or whatever. You get there and you go, “oh, this isn’t what I thought it was gonna be. I’m not happy.” You know and the idea of you’re not fulfilled, so where does the attention turn? It almost always inevitably turns within, right? That’s how everyone starts their spiritual journey. You notice with every successful person the world, they’ve accomplished all their external things, their material goods, and then the journey turns inside and that’s really what’s happened for me.


Mike : [00:13:22] Yeah, that makes sense. You’d mentioned the focus point in particular. I just wanted to really highlight that because I agree. Cal Newport wrote a book called Deep Work that I really liked that I recommend. So I recommend anybody who’s listening who hasn’t read that book to read it. And I’m just curious for you, so how did that look before you had overhauled your ability to focus and after. And I would think that bodybuilding would have trained that to some degree, right?


Ben : [00:13:55] Sure.


Mike : [00:13:56] I mean, because isn’t that kind of the thing? You’re in the moment, you’re working on whatever you’re working on.


Ben : [00:14:02] I’m glad that you acknowledge that and you notice that. So my business now is muscle intelligence and I teach people intelligent muscle-building strategies and health optimization strategies. And the way I teach muscle building is a very mindful process. You have to be present, you have to be focused, it’s an internal focus. I can focus on what’s happening inside my body, connecting with my body.

Most people train completely disconnected, right? They turn the music as high as they can, they become totally mindless about it. So they’re going through the motions mindlessly. So as much as, you know, exercise, like many things in life, can be a meditative, focused opportunity, most people just use it to disconnect rather than connect. And, you know, for me now training is meditative, man.

90 percent of the time my eyes are closed. I don’t have music in my ear. I’m ultimately meditating, connecting with my ability to feel my body, connect with my body. But again, like I said, most people don’t do that, actually do the exact opposite. And I really suggest that most people at least try. Try to connect with yourself, try to use it to become a better version of yourself every single day, rather than just mindlessly blanking out, turning off, you know, turning on whatever stimulus you can’t turn off your brain and numbing out.


Mike : [00:15:17] Yeah. I mean, that’s something that I keep in mind in my training. Sometimes I find that if I didn’t sleep enough or sleep well, which is a thing these days, mostly because I have a one and three-quarter-year-old who is not accepting sleeping by herself. But I’ll find that sometimes it’s harder to really focus on what I’m doing and I’ll find myself sometimes going through the motions.

But I’d say, on the whole, that’s something that I’ve been mindful of. You could say that mind-muscle connection, which actually, I’m sure you know this, there’s a bit of research that shows you might also get a little performance boost out of really focusing on the muscles, at least on the smaller muscles, isolation exercises is a bit harder on a squat, for example, or a deadlift because there’s so much that’s involved. But these days, I also don’t train with music and I really try to just focus on at least what the primary movers are and in maintaining proper form. And so …


Ben : [00:16:24] But most people don’t even know what it is, Mike. Like when you think about proper movers, most people don’t even know what the hell they’re training. And can they feel a muscle? What is the actual action of this muscle? Am I feeling that? Like, most people, they just don’t know. So that’s what my business is, right?

It’s like, hey, at very least, if you’re trying to build a muscle, you need to know what the function of this muscle is or what the action of this muscle is. And you should be thinking about that. And is this muscle actually the thing doing the work? That’s all you need to focus on. You need to look at your setup, you need to look at curating stability, and then you’re looking at, is this muscle doing the work 100 percent of the time?

And that’s your focus. It’s like, am I challenging a muscle? The objective is not lifting weight, right? The objective is challenging muscle if your objective is building muscle. So obviously, if you’re trying to lift weight to be a powerlifter, a different thing. But if you’re trying to build muscle, build a physique.

The only objective is challenging muscle. So the only thing you should be thinking about is this muscle. And the reality that this muscle has two ends, right? You have an origin insertion, that doesn’t matter, but it has two ends, one and has to stay completely stable, meaning not moving at all and the other end is moving and one end is ultimately bringing the insertion closer to the origin. That’s it. If you think it was something other than that, you’re missing it.


Mike : [00:17:30] Yeah. And I’d say the easiest place to start for anybody listening with that is, just keeping your mind on what you’re doing. Just do what you’re doing when you’re doing it. And that’s a good place to at least begin. Even if you’re just doing curls or something, it’s not a difficult exercise per se, keep your attention on it.

I mean, for me for example, if I’m doing curls again, I have my attention on what are the prime movers here. So I have my biceps, usually, I have my attention a little bit on my grip, keeping my grip strong, and then just form. And not work, if I had an argument with my wife the night before, if we’re disputing over something, I’m not thinking about that or anything else that might be popping in my mind.

Really just try – when I’m in the gym, I’m in the gym. And I guess that’s also something that has served me well in my work because I tend to be that way with my work as well. No matter what’s happening in my life, good or bad, when I’m working, I’m working and I’m rarely allowing my attention to stray off to anything else. And when I’m done working, then I can go put my attention on these other things.


Ben : [00:18:49] Yeah, you’re 100 percent present, man. You’re anchored, right? And that’s something that I teach as well, man. You know, take three to five minutes before you train, take three to five minutes before you go into work, take three to five minutes before you go to your home and become the person you need to become to optimize that scenario, right? You’re anchoring yourself to that person.

So I can’t be the same person I am at the gym as I am when I go home to my beautiful five-year-old daughter, right? So how do I anchor that? Well, I think everyone needs to take that three to five minutes and breathe man and create that person you are in your mind, and that’s a meditation session. That’s literally all meditation is, right? It’s, either I’m going to create my mind first or the world’s going to create it for me.

You never want to go into a situation – like I can’t go into my home and have dinner with my amazing family being the same person I am in the gym or my business. It’s a disconnect. So I have to make sure that I’m anchoring that scenario. And you’re obviously doing that naturally, Mike, and you know, realizing to become the best athlete in the world or one of the best bodybuilders in the world, I had to become a very particular personality, a very particular character to do that.

So you know, there could be a massive disconnect if I went home and I was still that kind of ruthless, angry, driven person in front of my family. To me, it just wouldn’t make sense. So that’s a big thing for people to start to realize. Start creating avatars, man. Start creating an avatar you need to be at work, you’re a leader, you’re a charismatic business owner, you’re whatever man. You’re someone who dominates business and life, you better not damn well be that person when you go home and spend some romantic time with your wife.


Mike : [00:20:17] Do you find it’s hard to switch between those different hats, so to speak? Because I have.


Ben : [00:20:23] Absolutely.


Mike : [00:20:23] It’s hard to turn some of that stuff off.


Ben : [00:20:25] It’s hard to start. It’s hard to start. Like anything, right? The first time you do it, you’re like, “yeah, that’s impossible.” But after a while, it’s the only way that I know how to be now. I literally anchor myself as I stick my key into the door in my house, I’m changing, I’m wearing a different hat.

You know, in the movie that comes to mind is  Over the Top with Sylvester Stallone, turns the hat around backward and you guys are all fucked, you know? It’s like, the same thing happens in the gym, right? I come to the gym and what’s happening? Well, I intentionally always change my clothes before I go and train. I’ll never wear my gym clothes to the gym, I always come to the gym and I’ll get changed.

I’m anchoring that state and it could be anything as simple as when I grab the door handle of the gym, I’m anchoring. Or maybe I’m sitting in my car before I go into the gym, like you have to anchor. Maybe it’s a song, maybe it’s a smell, maybe it’s a taste. You can anchor your emotions to these different people, these different avatars, and ultimately create that person that you need to dominate that situation or be the best you possibly can in that situation.

Again, complete sidetrack from the conversation we want to have but I think it’s a very interesting thing for people to think about, you know, you shouldn’t be the same person when you’re reading a book, you should be in student mode than when you’re doing a set of squats. We have to acknowledge that those are different people, ultimately those are different versions of your personality.

So how do you anchor those things? Well, it literally could be as simple as three to five breaths and a little bit of conscious intention to say, “hey, this is where my mind needs to be now. I need to be at the point where I’m absorbing this information in this book,” or, “I need to be at the point where I’m giving a 100 percent effort on my nervous system when I’m squatting,” and I hope everyone’s acknowledges are different and if you really want to succeed at life, it’s important to start creating avatars.


Mike : [00:22:05] Have you done that consciously? Have you written down, “these are my different …” How do those look?


Ben : [00:22:10] I only have three, man, it’s business, home, and training. That’s it. So I try to keep it simple because obviously I could create 100 of them if I wanted to. But really, most of my life is relatively the same person, right? Now in business, I can be kind of the same person that I am at home. With my team, I can be the same person I am with my family or similar.


Mike : [00:22:31] Really? I’ve found that – I’ve fallen into the bad habit in the past, I’m better with it now, I would say I’m much better with it now. I don’t think I was particularly bad, but I would tend to still have my boss hat on at home. You know what I mean? In certain situations where I would expect my wife to get certain things done in the way that I would expect people at work …


Ben : [00:22:55] Yeah, I learned that the hard way, man.


Mike : [00:22:57] Like, “why isn’t this done? Why isn’t that cleaned up? What’s going on with this?” Where at the office, even those types of communication are totally acceptable, especially with the people that I work with. They’re not very sensitive people and they understand that. Also, my personality, I tend to be, I think in general, wouldn’t say harsh, is it? 


Ben : [00:23:20]  Stoic.


Mike : [00:23:20] Yeah, maybe. That makes me sound better than it is. But like I’m a blunt person in general and I appreciate people being the same way with me. So sometimes I’ll communicate something that is not completely sugar-coated and maybe it sounds a bit more harsh than I mean it to be. But anyways, my point is, that’s one way to operate it at work but that does not work at home. And so I’ve had to consciously just change that and use maybe a different approach, a softer approach with my wife than I would with my employees. How’s that been for you? 


Ben : [00:24:05] I learned that the hard way, man. But mine tends to go the other way where I tend to come and be too soft on my employees. But I found as long as I give them very clear marching orders and they’re meeting expectations, then everybody wins, right? My only limitation happens if I don’t give them very clear objectives and manage expectations.

So as long as I’m doing that well, everybody wins, man. I could be kind, I could be nice, and they’re getting the job done. And if they’re not, they’re not going to be on the team for long. It’s really that cut and dry. But I learned to not take my work home as much, certainly again, it still happens to me, we all have stress sometimes. But I’ll tell you, I am very good now in not bringing that shit home.

Ultimately you can’t be the same person. Like if I go into a business meeting where I’m talking about an investment or I’m talking about bringing on, you know, shareholders, I can’t be the same person, that would be a big problem if I want to start talking to my shareholders as I was with my five-year-old, you know? So I think if you want to be successful in anything, you must practice these things.

And I’m at the point now, like I say, where it’s almost as simple as two or three breaths. So I’ll give an example, Mike. Like if I tell you to quickly think of a situation where you were joyful or you had a sense of achievement, at first, it’s kind of hard to do that. You’re like, “give me a second let me think about that.” But if you do it every day, then you have the same list of two or three scenarios where you’re like, “God, that was so awesome.”

And like, if I just said, you know, think of your daughter’s smile, your child’s smile, whatever it is, right? Like, “okay, that’s joyful.” That’s all it takes. Just bring that feeling back into my nervous system and now I feel that. Now I can walk into any scenario and have this overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy as I walk through the door, but I just created that in my mind rather than bringing the bullshit with me that I had at work from something happening business-wise or something not going my way.

I just literally anchored that situation in, you know, three to five breaths, it’s literally an instant. So it’s just practice, man. And at the same time, if I want to bring back that ruthless guy who fucking destroyed people in the gym for 20 years, I can bring that back. You know, I can go there in a second because I did it so many times. Like, I know what that feels like to go back there. It’s just a few breasts and a few thoughts away, and bang, it’s there. And I think that’s a powerful superpower.


Mike : [00:26:17] Yeah. Yeah, I agree. You’d mentioned earlier that in bodybuilding you had kind of achieved your goal and it didn’t fulfill you maybe in the way that you thought it was going to, going into it. What does that mean for you now? Because, I mean, I’ve had that experience multiple times in my life and in multiple aspects of my life, but just taking my work, I have fully accepted that there’s no – there’s satisfaction that comes with accomplishing things but in terms of happiness.

I don’t think that I am going to be happy – I don’t think it’s a good idea to think in the way of, “oh, I’ll be happy when blah.” Especially if it is related to some external thing, whether it’s money or recognition or any other many, many ways. You can measure …


Ben : [00:27:23] What keeps you driven then, Mike? 


Mike : [00:27:27] For me, I would say there are a few things. I have a three to five-year plan that I’m working on. My number one focus right now is my career and my work and there are different elements of it. There are financial elements, there are just kind of personal satisfaction, like for example, I recently rewrote from scratch, I think I sent the men’s book to you, my books for men and women.


Ben : [00:28:05] I didn’t see it. I didn’t get if you did.


Mike : [00:28:08] I would like to send you one then. Really? I think we must have gone back and forth, maybe the email chain got dropped or something, but I’ll make a note of that. There we go. And so I’m really proud of where these books are at. This is the third edition and there have been multiple, multiple iterations, not just three. There was the first edition and there was one point one, and then one point two.

And so I’m very proud of these books. And so there are some other just, kind of, I don’t know, personal milestones that would be cool, things that I would be proud of where I go, “that’s that’s neat, I just like that.” And then there’s the personal element, it’s nice to see what my work is doing in people’s lives and I get to see that directly via emails with people and social media messages with people.

And also once a month I bring someone on my podcast who either has read one of my books and applied it and gotten great results or gone through my coaching service and gotten great results. So it’s cool just to connect with people and I found that matters now. Let’s just say that is more emotionally satisfying, just getting an email from someone that is saying, “hey, I just want to let you know, I read your book a year ago and it changed my life and here’s how?” And even just a few paragraphs, “keep doing what you’re doing, thank you,” kind of thing is more emotionally satisfying than any amount of money in my bank account, honestly.


Ben : [00:29:42] No question. So I just got back from a month in Australia and, you know, I planned kind of this synergy of going over there to do some seminars and bring my family over so we got a vacation out of it. And, you know, we put up this group of seminars, three seminars in three weeks and, you know, sold them out relatively quickly, which is, you know, gratifying in itself to realize that we have such a massive following over in Australia and then being there, like walking into these ridiculously remote places and having people come up and go, “man, you know, you changed my life?”

Like in a gym, yes. You know, you get 20 or 30 people almost in every gym we went to. But it’s like walking into … I was three hours north of the most remote city in Australia and somebody walked up to me when I was walking down a trail. And I’m like, “wow.” And he’s like, “oh, man, I’ve been doing your stuff since 2011 and everything you do changes my life. I’m still following what you do.” Just like, wow. Like, fuck. [Laughing] I wasn’t expecting to see somebody here, like we were doing a nature walk with my kids, man. And that stuff is incredibly powerful to hear.


Mike : [00:30:41] Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree. And so, yeah. So there’s that for me. And then I also just kind of like to win, you know what I mean? If you’re doing something and you’re winning, it’s obviously inherently fun. And I would say feeling like I’m – you know, I have a family so that also has been a good shift for me as a person, because growing up, I was always someone that did exactly what I wanted to do. And I was always kind of a selfish person for sure.


Ben : [00:31:15] [Laughing] Preaching to the choir, man.


Mike : [00:31:16] Yeah. So I think it’s good for me to have two kids. So there’s an element of duty that comes with it in terms of being a provider, right? So, you know, it’s one of those things where – there’s a part of me that would be satisfied doing any sort of work whatsoever simply because, one, I enjoy working, it’s kind of a flow activity for me. Talk about focus, right? Like you get that edge.

I like that feeling when you’re fully focused on something and you kind of lose track of time and you are enjoying doing what you’re doing just for the sake of doing it, and for me work – most types of work is a flow activity. Especially that deeper work where you really can focus. If it’s blasting through a couple hundred emails. Even that, though, actually, now that I think about it, you have done it so many times, there’s a flow to that.

I guess some types of work don’t lend themselves to wealth, maybe some sort of dysfunctional meetings and shit are just kind of annoying. But a lot of work for me, I just enjoy it for what it is. And so having that feeling that I’m serving something greater than me, I guess is probably also something I’ve realized that for me that matters and it matters more than money. Like I’m more interested in serving a cause than just making money so I can have shiny things.


Ben : [00:32:41] Yeah.


Mike : [00:32:42] What about you?


Ben : [00:32:43] Well, it’s funny you bring that up, man. So as I told you, I’ve been taking on a bunch of mentoring clients. So, like my fitness business is relatively well known and I made a lot of mistakes, as I’m sure you have, taking up business coaching clients, mentoring clients and the first thing I make everybody do and something I’ve done myself is create your 25-year vista. And so, everyone’s like, “I’m going to do a five-year plan, maybe a 10-year plan.”

That’s great and I think those are very, very important, those are definitely an aspect of it. But you think 25 years ahead, most people can’t do that. Good, do it. So, you know, how long is it going to take you to accumulate, you know, say “I need to make 50 millions bucks.” “Okay, great, how long is it going to take you?” “10 years, 15 years.” “Okay great. What happens after?” That’s always the question, right?

Because I’ve seen the top of the mountain and I realize that there’s always another summit, there’s always another mountain after that. And so this first mount that we have in the front of our mind, maybe 3 to 5 or 10 or 15 years away. But what happens after that? And I want people to start thinking about that because that ultimately, in my eyes, is their true vision, their true purpose.

So once you’ve transcended this big mountain that’s in front of you, this external mountain, you’re like, “yeah, man I want a plane, and I want a boat and want a car, and I want a house in this place, and this place. And I wanna have this much money and I want to feel secure.” “Awesome, you got it.” You know, snap my fingers, “it’s yours.” What’s after that?

And that I think is when you actually start to find people’s true passion and purpose, when you get their brain to transcend the need for comfort and security. So once I’ve accumulated comfort and security, awesome you got that now, then what? And it almost seems like the inevitable succession after that is helping people, right? But how? You know, and getting people to get clear on that, that’s where you really start to find your true purpose and true passion.

So for me, you know what my 25-year plan literally includes – so when I started my fitness business, in 2011, my vision was to be the catalyst for intelligent muscle-building around the world. And, you know, if you ask most people in the fitness industry who is synonymous with actually intelligent muscle building, it’s me. It’s our business.

So I think we’ve done that and we become the catalyst now, you realize that there’s millions of people out there, maybe hundreds of thousands of people teaching this, you know, intelligent approach to fitness and I certainly couldn’t say that I was the only guy that started it, but when we started, we were probably the only ones that anyone heard about.

So, you know, that’s a cool thing to realize that we were a big part of that. Now it’s like, “okay, well, how do we actually change the paradigm of the entire fitness industry?” Because you still have to admit, and you get this, that in probably 80 to 90 percent of people out there have absolutely no clue what they’re doing.

And if you give me five minutes with them, I could change the course of their life forever when it comes to understanding how to empower them with the knowledge and skillset to change their body. So five minutes in the gym, I’ll give you the understanding of what you actually have to do to train that body part, to build that body part. Okay, great. That’s cool. But I can’t be in the gym with everybody at the same time.

So how do we create something that’s powerful enough to give everyone the internal belief that they have the ability to change their body? And it starts with changing the paradigm of the next generation, man. The 12, 13, 15-year-old kids who ultimately go into high school gyms, no idea what they’re doing, creating bad habits, creating eating disorders, creating insecurities because they don’t love their body, they don’t feel like they have the ability to control their body.

So they don’t take ownership over it. They put all the power outside of themselves, they blame the genetics, they blame the environment, they blame their past. So I love the idea of empowering the next generation with the knowledge and skillset to change their body, to believe that they have the ability to do anything, man. So, you know, “hey, you wanna build muscle? No problem.

You want to use fat? No problem. You want to learn how to love your body? No problem, here’s how you do it. Want to overcome anxiety and stress? No problem, here’s how you do it.” Like that’s where we need to be looking, man. At least for my belief, like if we’re going to really change the scope of the world, the direction of the world, you have to start with the young generation, man.

You know, the older generation is obviously the catalyst for it and we can certainly lead but I think if I’m going to really, you know, leave a dent on the rock, it’s got to be by shifting the thought process and the paradigm of the teenage generation and their belief that, “hey, man, you can do any of these things.”

So, you know, think about the potential effect of that, right? Like, Less bullying, less insecurities, less gang potential. You know, and these all may be lofty, wild dreams but I really believe that if you give people confidence in their body, their built, they feel ownership over who they are. I think we power them to take ownership for their life, every aspect of life. So that’s kind of what my purpose is now.


Mike : [00:37:18] And how do you plan on going about doing that?


Ben : [00:37:22] Well, I have a unique distribution mechanism that I’m not going to share, because if I share it, it may go away. But I’ll share it with you after the call.


Mike : [00:37:33] Cool. So you do have a plan? I like it.


Ben : [00:37:37] Oh, yeah, of course.


Mike : [00:37:37] Awesome.


Ben : [00:37:38] It’s just a matter of executing.


Mike : [00:37:39] Yeah, cool. I totally agree, I mean, it’s a matter of being proactive, right? So there are a lot of people who are having a lot of health problems now that hopefully, the younger generations are not. Hopefully, they’re not just going to repeat the exact same mistakes. Hopefully, we can learn from the, really I’d say the driving factors of the obesity crisis, right? 


Ben : [00:38:06] But even if they didn’t change their diet, even if you just went like,”Hey, man you know, if you just exercise a little bit, or if you walk here and there …”


Mike : [00:38:12] That’s what I mean.


Ben : [00:38:12] Yeah.


Mike : [00:38:16] For the average kid out there, for the average teenage kid – and actually, I hear from teenagers fairly often, usually the ones I hear from, you know, they’ve seen the YouTube videos of these random idiots who are on steroids they don’t talk about it, of course, but you have some, you know, 19, a 20-year-old kid who has been on drugs for a few years and probably has an eating disorder and sits in the gym two hours day and looks good and runs around showing off all the attention he gets from girls and blah, blah, blah.

And so I hear from teenagers who write to me and ask, how do they get a six-pack or how do they look like this guy? Right? And so my advice is always, one, I have some stuff I’ve written recorded on steroid use and I’ll send it to them and be like, “here, first read this or listen to this so you understand what you’re actually looking at and why I don’t recommend that you go down that same road.”

And it also will help with expectations, so let’s change the expectations and make them a bit more realistic. And then also, you’re 16. Right now, you should focus on, I mean, you could say exercise, but I always ask, “do you enjoy sports? Great. So just do that. Sports, if you want to get into some weightlifting, I think it’s smart and you gotta put it in, you know, a simple strength training program or, you know, a barbell-centric program.

Start building some muscle, start getting strong. And as far as diet goes, save the eating disorders for later. Don’t get into the never-ending calorie deficits and always trying to be as lean as possible, especially at your age for physiological and psychological reasons. Let’s just focus on eating, you know, a bunch of nutritious foods and eat according to your appetite. And you can follow some simple guidelines.” That’s the kind of stuff …


Ben : [00:40:20] I think you know much harder than that, though, right? Most people don’t eat because they’re hungry because either they’re trying to mask the feeling in their body. So if I have this constant feeling of anxiety in my body and I take in some food that makes that go away, I’ve had net positive results in my physiological feeling in my body, so guess what? Well, now I want to always chase that net feeling, that improvement in my body. So most people aren’t even hungry, they’re not conscious, right?


Mike : [00:40:47] Right. 


Ben : [00:40:47] You have to start with like, “okay, what are the triggers? I know that you have anxiety. Why do you have anxiety?” “Well, because who knows, I’m stressed? I’ve never been taught an internal mechanism of dealing with it with anxiety and stress.” I have a twelve-year-old son, stepson, he comes to me two years ago, he goes, “hey, Ben, I have anxiety.”

I said, “okay, buddy, let’s talk about that. What does that mean? I have anxiety? You’re just giving yourself a possessive, ‘I have this.’ No you don’t, you don’t have anxiety. First of all, let’s exchange words. ‘You get anxiety.’ You don’t have anything, you get it.” “Okay, let’s do that. I get anxiety. Why do you get anxiety?” “Well, because I’m a little stressed about something.”

Okay, well, how do we deal with that? Do we give him a pill? Like as a parent what do I teach him as a coping mechanism? Do I go, “hey man, you probably need a Xanax,” or “hey man, you probably need theanine or something.” No, it’s not that, “hey man, how about we sit down and we’ll first discover what the root of this is, what the trigger is. Second, let’s give you a coping mechanism.”

So do I just throw him a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and go, “hey, man, this will make you feel better.” No. I go, “let’s sit down, let’s breathe together, man.” I’ll sit him on my lap and I’ll put him chest to chest or chest to back or whatever and I’ll be like, “hey man, I want you to feel my calmness.” This may sound weird, but like if it’s your child it’s your child, “I just want you to feel better and I want you to realize that, like, the ability to change this is within you.”

So if we sit down and we breathe for five minutes, all of a sudden he goes, “you know that really uncomfortable and I hated that but my anxiety is gone.” So the next time, okay maybe now it only takes three minutes and then subsequent times, “okay and I can get rid of that in 60 seconds or less.” So you just empowered him with their belief to go, “oh, I can get rid of that.”

And it’s not some bullshit outside of me like, “I gotta go smoke a joint, or go smoke a cigarette, or I got to take a shot of alcohol.” Now, it’s an internal coping mechanism. That’s what people need to be empowered with and that’s why I’ve taken this stance toward this spiritual journey, man. Because ultimately our physiological being is just a result of our chemical state in our mind for the most part, right?

Some people have obviously a genetic predisposition to certain chemical scenarios, which again, I’m not an expert on that stuff and that needs to be dealt with accordingly, but most people, I’d say 90, 95 percent of people, it’s just a chemical response to your environment or your situation. So how do we change that? Well, create a coping mechanism, man.

Is it going to be easy and massively effective the first time? No. It’s going to be hard. Say fucking, “good”. Say, “thank you it’s hard because now I know I’m getting better.” And then in three months all of sudden, “good, I can breathe the way my anxiety and five breaths. Now I’ve got internal lobes of control, I’ve got self-confidence that I know I can change anything in my life.” This is the kind of shit people need to be talking about with their kids.


Mike : [00:43:20] I totally agree. That’s a great point. And for people listening, if you want to see it firsthand, you can use – I think they call it the box breathing technique, right?


Ben : [00:43:29] Yeah. Four, four, four, four. 


Mike : [00:43:31] Four seconds in, hold it for four seconds, four seconds out. I actually like to do that, unless I’m very tired and I’m just out at night, if I’m not asleep within 10 minutes or so, I’ll do that at night just to calm my body down. Just because I mean, usually I’m okay at night it’s not like my mind’s racing or anything. It’s just I’m not asleep yet.

I think even though I’m not doing it formally, but there’s body scanning, right? So usually I’m just relaxing. I’m trying to relax all the muscles in my body, including my jaw. I would notice that I usually just sit there with kind of a tensed up face [laughing], relax all the muscles in my face, relax all the muscles, my body, and just do kind of slow controlled breathing and it’s a nice relaxing way to fall asleep, if nothing else.


Ben : [00:44:21] Yeah, man. That’s where everyone holds their attention, right? It’s either your jaw. So this is just like the back, your throat, your jaw, your shoulders are gonna be the most common places for holding tension. And it’s literally just as simple as like, “hey man, pay attention to it.” Like, if you can do that, you can change it.

And that’s why I think – coming back to meditation, like that’s what meditation is for me, is like this daily inventory of my body like, “what am I doing?” I’m like, “am I clenching my jaw? Okay, let’s stop doing that. Am I furling my eyebrow? We’ll stop doing that.” You know, it’s just like, “oh, I could start paying attention and realizing I can control it.” It’s powerful, man.


Mike : [00:44:50] Yeah, I pay attention to my facial expressions as well. Because, you know, there’s research on that. That if simply smiling or frowning will affect your mood. Generally speaking, of course, it’s not everybody all the time. But that’s just like a good rule of thumb. If you’re sitting there frowning, if you just start smiling, force yourself to smile, you will probably feel better immediately.


Ben : [00:45:11] And I don’t even open my eyes in the morning until I smile and I tell you my routine, it’s kind of funny. I’m very blessed to have three young kids who are just amazing and so before I even open my eyes, I do three minutes of gratitude in my bed and I start with things that are close to me. So usually it’s my wife, and then it’s my kids, and then it’s my house, and it’s my business, and then it’s my employees and my team.

And you’re going through this kind of circle, this ever-expanding circle, and you do three minutes, and by the time you’re done with that man, I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude my first emotion is always a massive smile and then, “God, these are good, man.” Like rather starting the day going, “oh fuck, what do I have to do today?

I haven’t gotten out of bed before I put myself into a state of going, “my life is really, really blessed.” No matter how shit things are after that, you still started your day with this massive smile, you can end your day with this massive smile. And then all of a sudden, hey man, what happens in between “I can’t always control it, but I can certainly control the way I start and the way I finish.”

And I mean, chances are what I’ve noticed is the things that happen between start to go a little bit more positively when you start and finish your day with that positive sense of gratitude.


Mike : [00:46:13] Yeah, yeah. I’ve been to something similar for some time now, which is just three things that I’m thankful for, I just keep it simple. I usually do it when I get to the office, I put them in a spreadsheet because – I don’t know, OCD. [Laughing]


Ben : [00:46:25] It’s your brain, that’s alright, man. Whatever it takes, right?


Mike: [00:48:04] So tell me a bit about your spiritual life, what does that mean to you? I’m curious because you say that but then at the same time do you think we’re just brains and we’re just squirts of chemicals or where are you at in terms of spirituality?


Ben: [00:48:23] [Laughing] Good question, man …


Mike: [00:48:24] Like have you taken it further than meditation? It sounds like you have.


Ben: [00:48:27] As far as what? Like psychedelics? 


Mike: [00:48:29] I mean, have you …


Ben: [00:48:31] Most people don’t want to go down the psychedelic road.


Mike: [00:48:32] I’m actually personally not interested. I think that – I mean, this is me, maybe it’s just because for whatever reason I’ve never been interested in drugs. I’ve never even been drunk. I just don’t care about drugs at all whatsoever.


Ben: [00:48:43] Sure.


Mike: [00:48:43] So I’m biased and I actually couldn’t even tell you exactly why. But I’m biased in that way. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if, and cliche to quote Jordan Peterson, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his take on it – at least his take resonates more with me, which is: there are interesting things that can happen, yes with these drugs. But it seems to be a cheat of sorts in terms of accessing states that otherwise you couldn’t access, and if you do that enough, you cheat enough, and there are consequences, basically.


Ben: [00:49:19] No question. Man, I’ll tell you, very similar to you, man, I grew up, you know, very religious, I grew up in a family of alcoholics, actually and so for that reason, I never drink. I didn’t do drugs, you know, never smoke weed. None of that shit, it just wasn’t my thing.

And, you know, since now, you know, being 37 years old, I have tried psychedelics and I do see benefits and it’s because I have a belief that now I am in control, I have the ability to choose consciously and not want to do it multiple times that I can chooses as a consenting adult and say, “hey, man, I want to try this and see what it does.”

There’s definitely benefits, but I can also see how people just use it as an escape, right? So are you using it to challenge yourself and grow as a human or are you doing it as an escape? And I’d say a large percentage of people are just you doing it to change your state, like, nobody smokes a joint because they want to expand their consciousness, they smoke a joint because they want to feel better.

And cool, if that’s what you want to do, that’s not my thing. But so now again, going down the road to psychedelics. But, man my spirituality is exploring me, exploring who I am, why I’m meant to be here. You know, are there other things that exist that we don’t know about? First of all, I think it starts with knowing yourself.

So what are my unconscious beliefs? What are the things holding me back from living my true happiness? Who am I inside? What do I feel like I am at my core? And how do I allow that to live its fullest? Meaning, you know, the person that we are now, you know, Ben Pakulski for whatever reason that name that somebody put on me as a child is just the set of stories that I’ve told myself up to this point, the set of activities and experiences that I’ve had up to this point.

That’s who ultimately I’ve become, or at least the personality that I’ve developed in response to all these situations that I’ve had. So is that actually who I am or is that who I’ve become to be accepted in this world? Right? So as a child, you know, you find out, “Hey, man, if you say this word, you get in trouble.” So you don’t say that word. If you act this way, people don’t love you, so you don’t act that way.

So you develop this personality that’s a reflection of whatever it took for you to belong in society. So whatever it took for you to get love. “Is that really who I am? Is that really what makes me fulfilled? Is that really why I’m on this earth?” So that’s really where my journey is, man is like, “okay, let’s let’s rewind all this and let’s unravel all these B.S. stories that I put on myself about who my family is and why I can’t do certain things and why I do certain things,” and really just explore who I am at my core and why I’m on this earth. And for me, that’s the spiritual journey. I’m starting to just peel back the layers of the onion, you know?


Mike: [00:52:09] Yeah.


Ben: [00:52:10] You peel back one layer, there’s another one there, and keep going deeper, and deeper. And the reason I think psychedelics are a useful tool is because, yes, it is going to accelerate that journey. And as long as it’s the realization that it’s not meant to be like this perpetual thing, you know. If I do psychedelics, it’s like, you know, once a year or something. And so you do it and you see things and you’re like, “okay, now I’m aware of this.

I’m aware of what’s going on there.” And then now I spend the next 12 months trying to meditate on that and understand it. “What was that I saw? How can I explore that consciously?” And you realize, “hey, I can reach these psychedelic states or these altered states without psychedelics. Oh okay, now I could access that stuff in my meditation. I can, you know, access different brain states through meditation.” Well, that’s a powerful place. But had I not seen it in meditation or psychedelics, I don’t know that I’ve ever got there. So, again …


Mike: [00:53:00] What’s an example of that? I’m genuinely curious. If there’s one that you don’t mind sharing.


Ben: [00:53:06] Yeah man, no problem I’ll share anything, I’m an open book. An altered state of consciousness, meaning you’re in a state of meditation and you leave your body. And so you’re ultimately awake, aware of your body, but you are not your body.


Mike: [00:53:18] So you’re saying that’s like a specific example of something that you were like, “holy shit, what?”


Ben: [00:53:23] Yeah. It’s an altered state, right?


Mike: [00:53:24] Yeah.


Ben: [00:53:24] So that would be like, a similar experience that you may have if you’re taking a psychedelic. This exiting of your physical body and realizing that you’re this energetic being that lives in a body. You are not your body. You live in a body and you step outside your body, you watch your body and it’s sitting there.

Like, “oh, okay, this is interesting what is happening and how can I explore this a little bit more?” And then, you know, the idea that, you know what happens when your body goes away? Who knows? But does the energetic being that lives inside it go away or does that just change forms? You know, who knows?

I don’t know the answer, we could claim that’s a little bit out there, a little bit woo woo, but I don’t fucking know the answer, I don’t think anyone will ever know the answer, it’s just about your beliefs. So, you know, explore it. Why not? See what happens. And I think the idea of having a creative exploration of these altered states is very interesting.


Mike: [00:54:14] What do you think that means? I’m sure that if having that experience led you to at least start reading up on what other people say about this or what – it could be in the sciences or it could be in religion, be more of the Eastern tradition, obviously. Something more like, have you looked at Buddhism? I’m just curious, what are your thoughts? What do you think that means?


Mike: [00:54:38] My greatest influence on that thought process is a guy named Wayne Dyer. Ironically, the first book I ever read when it comes to spirituality and self-improvement was 2007. And still to this day, he’s the greatest influence on my life. And I listened to a podcast he did last week with Oprah and again opened up my mind to this whole new realm of possibility of what life really is.

But, you know, he gets into the thoughts. The irony of Wayne is he’s extremely spiritual, but he’s also very religious. He’s a big believer in God. You know, the Bible, but he’s also very spiritual. And this idea of this physical body is a physical manifestation of energy and the energetic being that exists inside of it exists without the body.

So when I go to sleep at night, what goes to sleep? My body goes to sleep. My consciousness still lives there. You know, you still can access consciousness when you’re asleep. So you can actually train yourself to ultimately be completely conscious while your physical body sleeps. So now that gives us a good idea that maybe this consciousness actually could exist without this physical form.

So, “okay, well, if that’s the case, maybe after this body tires out, expires, the mitochondria can no longer produce energy.” Well, where does consciousness go? Maybe it could continue to live on. You know, maybe it needs to find a new being to exist in, maybe it can exist in a different dimension, in a different realm. Who knows?

You know, with our five senses, we’re limited to what our five senses can feels and sense. So maybe there’s things that exist beyond our five senses. That to me, is just a fascinating exploration. And that’s why I believe now the journey has to be within, man. That’s the only thing worth exploring.

This internal dialog with yourself about who you really are at your core and what is fulfilling to that being, and how can you provide greater value to the species, to humanity? Ultimately, we’re the laziest generation of the human species ever. Well, how can we change that? How can we help this species actually evolve rather than devolve? It’s a very interesting conversation that I ultimately don’t have any answers to, man. I’m just exploring what my fulfillment looks like, what my passion is now. You know, how can I be a contributing member to the species?


Mike: [00:56:57] Yeah. I mean, you could imagine if that were true, that changes everything. I mean, if that were true, are you familiar with the reincarnation research that is coming out of UVA?


Ben: [00:57:09] No, I’m not.


Mike: [00:57:10] Oh, dude, you should look into it. So it was started by, I want to say his name was Ian Stevenson and it was his life’s work. He was a prestigious scientist, published in major journals, decades of work, decades of case studies all around the world. And so he died some time ago but his work was carried on by his protege, Jim Tucker.

Stevenson wrote books, Tucker has written books, and the team has grown to several individuals. I don’t know exactly how many now. I listened to a lecture, it was a panel of five or so and that was a lecture that they gave a year or two ago. And so basically – you can go check it out, Ben, you’ll find it fascinating or for anybody listening, you just Google UVA reincarnation research and find all kinds of stuff on it.

But basically what they have is they have thousands and thousands of case studies, mostly with children, younger children, it’s most common for them to talk about having lived before, right? So it could be a kid and there are, I’d say, “themes”, and these themes are consistent everywhere in the world, different culture, doesn’t matter.

So they might be talking about, you know, you might have a four-year-old, your four-year-old might come up to you one day and say, “Hey, how is my family doing?” And you’re like, “what do you mean?” And they say, “oh, well, my wife Mary and my kids, Billy and,” I’ll say, “Romi,” my daughter, and you’re like, “what are you talking about?”

And they’ll tell you a story about, you know, this is what they were doing last lifetime and this is what happened to them. And so they have thousands and thousands of these, but what is even more interesting is that about half of them, I want to say 1,700, 1,800 are solved cases. Meaning: so it starts with something like that and then the team gets information from, again this is like a four or five, six-year-old kid and then goes and verifies everything that they were saying and finds who they were in their previous life and finds, “oh yes, this person so-and-so was married to Mary and did have two kids.”

So there was like one particular case that made the rounds in the media. I don’t know, a few years ago. So there was a kid, long story short, he had a lot of trouble sleeping, he would have this recurring dream of being trapped in the cockpit of a plane and it’s on fire. And he was obsessed with World War II and dogfighting and that’s all he would draw, is dogfights and planes on fire and the parents were a bit concerned.

But, you know, kids go through weird phases and whatever. But it wasn’t going away. And when he got a little bit older they started to ask him about it. Like, “so what is it? What is it about all this shit that matters so much to you?” And he told them that he was in World War II and he was shot down in Japan and it was a very traumatic death. And he’s stuck on this, right?

And so the parents who are very Christian and were like, “okay, whatever, dude.” But as it continued, and they got more information out of him and he said, this was my name, this was the squadron or whatever that I was in. And so eventually they went and checked it out and lo and behold, there was a person by that name in that squadron who got shot down over a bay in Japan. And so at that point, they were like, “whoa, wait a minute.”

The kid was young, I don’t remember the exact age, six, seven years old. There’s no way this kid is making this shit up, you know what I mean? So they also arranged … there was one, if I remember correctly, a guy, Charlie-something, who is still alive, who was in that squadron, they arranged a Skype call with their son, didn’t tell them who the guy was. “Hey, there’s someone we want you to meet.”

He sees them on Skype and starts crying. “Charlie, how are you? How’s blah, blah?” You know, “how are your kids?” And so at that point, the parents are just like, “okay, we don’t know exactly what this means or why God has … why is this kid not in heaven?” Or, “why is he back? We don’t know but this happened.” So it ends with the story.

There was a film company that bought the rights to make a movie about it, and they flew – the movie may have come out actually, I don’t know, I never saw it. It obviously wasn’t some wide release thing. But they flew him out to Japan, where they found the plane on the bottom of the bay and he held a funeral for himself in his previous life.

And afterward, that was the end of the dreams, that was the end of it for him. That was closure and he was able to move on. So that’s just one of the many stories that has come out of, the many case studies, that have come out of the UVA team that is looking into reincarnation.


Ben: [01:02:05] Again, our paradigm is only as wide as what we’re taught as children, right? So if nobody’s ever explained this to you or tried to explain to you, you can’t believe it. So I don’t doubt anything, man. Like, I live my life as a skeptic, but also an open-minded one. I don’t know. I can’t say yes, I can’t say no. But it sounds like these things are very possible. I’ve had many things in my life happen that are just too coincidental to be coincidence, right? It’s incredible, so who knows?


Mike: [01:02:35] Synchronicity.


Ben: [01:02:37] And it just happens too often, man. 


Mike: [01:02:40] Remote viewing is another fascinating documented evidence. A lot of documented evidence. There’s no question that some people have been and are very good at this. And it’s just, how do you explain that? 


Ben: [01:02:55] And then you bring the question in Mike, what if everyone’s good at that? But we’re also …


Mike: [01:02:58] Oh yeah. I mean, if you just – I’ve watched interviews with people who participated in the original, going all the way back to the original Stanford program and then to the – what was it? It was over here in Maryland, actually, it was based out of. It had different names, Stargate was one of its names, right? And basically saying that, even today, he holds seminars and he teaches people. And everybody has the latent ability, it seems. It’s just some people can tap into it easier than others. Some people seem to have a talent for it, are just very good at it, right out of the gates and other people it takes more time to develop.


Ben: [01:03:40] Yeah. You know, I think people have so many more abilities than we’re aware of. But how many hours a day, Mike, do you spend by yourself exploring your thoughts, exploring your consciousness, exploring your feelings in your body? Like nobody does that, right?


Mike: [01:03:54] Or, I mean, doing anything other than writing articles, writing books, recording podcasts, just being busy. I mean, I’ve thought about that. When you just think about the paradigm of our society, let’s just take all the advertising money and all the work and everything that goes into just demand for shit. What if all of that were channeled into something else, for example, into stuff that we’re talking about?


Ben: [01:04:20] It can’t be, right? Because the world will ultimately be anarchy. [Laughing] I think that that’s maybe what happened.


Mike: [01:04:27] Well, no, I mean, that’s economics. I’m saying like we run an economic system that it seems like it’s prime directive is to just expand, it’s just, engulf everything, right? But it wouldn’t necessarily have to be like that. It’s just that’s the system that we have right now, in my opinion.


Ben: [01:04:43] Yeah, I guess. It would certainly take some time to change it, right? It takes a big shift.


Mike: [01:04:50] Oh, of course. 


Ben: [01:04:51] But ultimately the powers that be don’t want to lose the power. And if you keep allowing people to expand their consciousness and question the control of the governments or the direction of material goods and ultimately the economy …


Mike: [01:05:03] Social media? I’d say social media at this point probably has more brainwashing power than anything else at this point, even more than mainstream media probably, because mainstream media’s audience is more limited than social media.


Ben: [01:05:23] Yeah, man. Who knows? And I think that the powers that be will always reign supreme because they’ll always find a way to control the masses. You know, I’ve got some unique insights into what they call covert influence. I’ve been studying that a little bit, some people made me aware of it and just how we’re influenced and we don’t know about it.


Mike: [01:05:45] What do you mean?


Ben: [01:05:46] You know, social media, how they’re intentionally influencing your thought process. You get it man, like Google’s listening to your calls they’re influencing what you see, how the TV stations are influencing what you see, and even your conscious state, like always living in a state of fear and limitation drives the economy, right? It drives purchase, it drives impulsive behavior.

Like, the reason the media is so powerful and they want to control your conscious thought is because they don’t want you to be thinking. They want you to be unconscious. So you purchase more things. They don’t want you to be going down these spiritual journeys and start questioning your existence because ultimate doesn’t drive the economy.

Ultimately, it drives anarchy, because if people start to question why people are putting limitations on them and it’s a huge cohort of people, it can cause a big, big shift in the world. So, you know, cover influences. If you just look it up, you’ll find some interesting stuff around what’s happening in the media, what’s happening in social media, how they’re literally building that into social media platforms where like they’re building the addictive behaviors on purpose. It’s so interesting.


Mike: [01:06:47] Of course, these people are not our friends. We are their customers.


Ben: [01:06:52] Once you actually get to meet them, or get to talk to them, you realize just how bright these people are, man. Like you’re a bright guy, Mike. I consider myself a relatively bright guy and, you know, the fact that I think about it, I think puts me ahead of most people, most people are just completely asleep to it.

But when you’re in a room with these people you’re like, “holy shit, these guys are so smart, so good at this one specific thing,” and they can manipulate anything you do, anything you see throughout the day at any time and they’re consciously doing it. And that’s just interesting. I don’t want to give my opinions on it.

But it’s very interesting that exists in the world. And which is why I’m sure you’re aware like – I shelter the shit of my kids. Like, I don’t let them see T.V. I don’t let them see social media. I want them to at least allow their brains to develop to the extent that they can be, you know, high functioning human beings or adults in their adult lives and not be guided through someone else’s conscious desires. Not to get into the conspiracy stuff, but that’s ultimately what it is, man.


Mike: [01:07:53] Yeah. And I actually don’t like that – I think it’s less of a pejorative now, even the word conspiracy, “but all that’s a conspiracy theory.” Only an ignorant person says that. Period. I mean, somebody who’s literally just ignorant of history. Of mainline history. History is driven by conspiracies. Period.

The vast majority of all the major events in history that have shaped the world and gotten us where we are were conspiratorial in nature. There have always been, for example, people in power who conspire by definition worked secretly behind the scenes to accrue more power and to crush their enemies and to shape the world in their image.

It’s kind of like a paternalistic where they think that because they’re so smart or because they have so much money or because they’ve been so successful, they have the right ideas about how the world – and because they have the agency to do it and they have the resources and the wherewithal to do it – that they should be the ones to determine where the world goes. And that’s just human nature.


Ben: [01:09:10] But you can also argue on the other side of that, where it’s almost better that they don’t tell everybody, you know? Like, think of seven billion people being aware of some of the ongoings of the world. Like if you’re aware of some of the military stuff that goes on behind the scenes and you’re like, “if everyone knew that the world would be fucking anarchy.”

Because the people are so, not a lot, but a lot of people have so low-level education or are of such a level of education that it would just turn into a complete chaotic existence, I think. Like, some of the fear-based things that actually exist that they hold from us, I’m like, “that’s probably a good thing, man.”


Mike: [01:09:49] Yeah. No, I agree. I mean, there’s a need to know if you’re talking about military stuff. But I think the problem is more – I’m speaking from well, having read thousands of pages of stuff on that. This has been a topic that I’ve been interested in for many years. And just for anybody listening, if you want to get a taste of it from somebody who you could never just dismiss as a quack or a “conspiracy theorist”, Check out the Anglo American Establishment by Carroll Quigley, who is a professor at Georgetown University, you can check him out.

And also, if you have the balls, read Tragedy and Hope, which he lays out how a very small group of people over the last 100, 150 years have taken over the world, basically. And again, look into who he is. Bill Clinton said that Tragedy and Hope was the most influential book he’s ever read.

That’s who Carroll Quigley was, right? And so, as far as I’m concerned, I think the major issue is, some of the most powerful people in the world, really that it comes down to is people who have accrued so much wealth and then deployed it so intelligently that they can push the right buttons and pull the right levers to, you know just to effect their will, basically.

Whatever it is that they want to do, they’re above governments, you know they run international financier circles and that these people, their vision for the world is, to be specific, read A Brave New World or just Brave New World. That’s it, that’s their vision for the world. And you know, Julian Huxley, who I think founded UNESCO.

One of the big higher-ups in the U.N. early on, Aldous Huxley’s brother, straight up said, “oh, yeah, Brave New World is a plan. This is a vision. It’s not just a fiction story.” And we see it unfolding before our eyes. And again, I think that the bigger plan is going to be great for a very small minority of people and very bad for a very large majority of people.

And why that is, is probably because a lot of these people are psychopaths and sociopaths, a lot of people that, again, you don’t hear about them, they aren’t on any Forbes lists, and they have incalculable amounts of wealth and power. And for anybody listening going, “oh, yeah, conspiracy theory,” I challenge you to read Carol Quigley’s – and I could send you off down a rabbit hole to read a lot more stuff, but start there.

And the reason why I love Quigley’s work is because of who he was. You simply can’t dismiss him as saying, “oh, what the fuck did he know?” Like he had a top-tier pedigree. So anyway, Carol Quigley, The Anglo American. [Laughing] Anyways, now I’m just ranting about the current state of things.


Ben: [01:13:10] You can look back through the history of time and look at the people who fancied themselves with a God complex. And that seems to be what it is, right? If you’re raised in a family where, you know, from the time you’re born, you’re told that you’re special, you’re told that you own the world, you’re told that ultimately you can have anything you want, nobody can tell you what to do, you can tell anyone what to do.

You’ve got maids, you’ve got servants, you’ve got whatever you want at any time. Eventually, by the time you’re, you know, old enough to probably form sentences, you probably have some degree of superiority complex. And that can evolve in the wrong environment to someone who’s just like, “well, I’m going to do whatever the hell I want.”

Like, “I can drive what I want. I’m above the law. I don’t have to fucking pay attention. I can drive. I can do anything.” And imagine where that could go in the wrong type of creative mind where they’re just like, “oh, I want to run the world. I want to be the most powerful man in the world. I want to see …” it ultimately becomes a game or maybe it becomes just a conscious endeavor to, you know, do their will, so interesting.


Mike: [01:14:14] Yeah, it’s a manifest destiny type of thing. John Rockefeller was very much like that. If you read Titan his biography, I mean, it’s a kind of a whitewashed biography, but you get an absolute sense of that. He thought that he was blessed by God, basically, and that’s why he was able to monopolize the oil refining industry, and that’s why he was able to make all this money, and that it was his duty to get as rich as he possibly could, his duty to God.

That’s why he was placed on this earth. And with that also comes, you know, again – well, that’s what he wanted to do in oil refining, but what did he want to do in education? Well, he could do that? What did he want to do? Not everything he did was bad, of course, and quite a bit of his philanthropy was beneficial, but it also, quite a bit of it was not and puts an education system in place that we’re still reeling from.

Yep. And anyway, so you see that. George Soros, another example in one of his, I think was a 60 Minutes interview where he was saying he has a God complex. He was just saying …


Ben: [01:15:27] I’m going to read about him on Wikipedia. So it says attended Harvard, where he got his BA, MA, and Ph.D., he taught at Princeton, and then Harvard served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Navy, and the Smithsonian, and the House of Select Astronautics and Space Exploration. [Laughing]


Mike: [01:15:44] And then he also, that’s not even in there, but you’ll see what he did at Georgetown University, right? 


Ben: [01:15:49] Yeah, says he retired from Georgetown in 76.


Mike: [01:15:50] Yeah, with foreign services and founded that whole department.


Ben: [01:15:56] Did he die of old age or did he get killed?


Mike: [01:15:57] Actually, I don’t know. Probably old age, I don’t think he was killed. And the story of the book is interesting as well. Tragedy and Hope was the book, that’s his magnum opus, that was his life’s work. And the fact that …


Ben: [01:16:14] Sorry, which one was it? 


Mike: [01:16:14] Tragedy and Hope It’s like 1,400 pages.


Ben: [01:16:16] Oh wow.


Ben: [01:16:17] Yep. And scholarly, the fact that I got released was an anomaly because of who he was, it must not have gotten vetted really. So it comes out, I think it was Macmillan Publishers, back in the 50s or 60s, comes out and 1,300, 1,400-page book. It’s a tome but because of the information and it, which is, he was an interesting person in that he didn’t disagree with the overall assessment of the world and what needed to be done in even what was being done.

He disagreed that it should be secret. He thought that it would be better if it were just known and that people could then understand. “Look, this is the problem that we have, there are hard realities we have to deal with.” You know, I feel like now I’m talking with libertarians, right? Where Libertarian, it sounds cute, it’s a utopia. Yes, if you have a high IQ, high agency, high trust, ethical people, you can have your libertarian utopia. That’s not the fucking world. Libertarianism is just as workable as communism in my mind.


Ben: [01:17:22] Right.


Mike: [01:17:23] So Quigley saying, “look, the assessment of what is wrong with the world and what do we need to do as a species to evolve and to not obliterate ourselves, basically,” He agreed and even agreed I think overall with the plan. He just didn’t think that it should be kept secret. He thought, “hey, if we can educate people on how did all of these smart people … because you have you know, you have these people at the top with all the money and ultimately really, and all the power, but you have think tank kind of roundtable groups full of very, very smart people that just sit around all day and think about the big problems that we are facing as a species and what do we do about it.

And I do think that a lot of what comes out of that has a negative slant because of again, I do think that a fair amount of the people who are really in charge are just inherently bad people. And so they might say all the right things and you might think they have all the right intentions, but the results are ultimately just far more destructive than they are constructive.

Which for me, is at least a decent definition of “bad”. You know what I mean? Something’s bad if it destroys more than it helps or harms more than it helps, destroys more than it creates, probably bad. Anyway, so Quigley then, he writes this book and just lays out: here’s how these people have gotten into the position that they’re in.

Names, all of them. I mean, it’s exhaustive, right? In detail, chronicles everything. Book comes out and it becomes an immediate bestseller, which is surprising for a 1,400-page book. That again, it’s like academics reading. And then word gets around what’s in the book, right? And so there’s pressure that’s put on McMillan. They tell Quigley, “it’s not selling and we’re not doing more print runs.” And they actually destroy the plates as well so that the book has just killed.

Completely killed. And now it’s back because I’m assuming it must be Quigley’s estate, because for a while, the only way you could get it – it was re-released later, but stuff was taken out, it was an edited kind of abridged version, right? The only way to get the original was to buy them used and they were thousands of dollars.

But now it looks like Quigley’s estate, assuming that what you can buy on Amazon now, “it says this is the original unabridged,” and it looks like their estate finally got the rights back to publish it. So it’s wild. And then he also wrote other books, too. The reason why I recommend The Anglo American Establishment is because it’s shorter.

It’s a couple hundred pages and it gives you a taste. It’s really something like, if you can even conceive of the possibility, if you’re willing to face that this might be reality, then keep going. If not, it’s the quintessential matrix moment, right? “Here, you’ve just tasted the red pill. If you want more, keep going.

If you don’t like it, take the blue pill and just pretend like none of this is happening and everything is just for the best, and free markets are just going to take care of everything, and we’re going to be 3D printing cool stuff, and everything’s going to be great.” “Okay.”


Ben: [01:20:52] And it’s interesting because you get guys like Bezos and Tony Hsieh coming in and becoming billionaires and they’re probably the guys who – or even Zuckerberg – could come in and actually influence some of this shit.


Mike: [01:21:03] I do think so.


Ben: [01:21:05] And you wonder how their motivation is going to sway the world, you know? Because these massive companies that come in so fast, they become what we call the wealthiest people in the world, then you can argue that Bezos, just cause he’s listed as the wealthiest doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the truth, but …


Mike: [01:21:22] For anybody listening, just go poke around into the Rothschild fortune for example, dwarf spaces.


Ben: [01:21:30] Because it’s not just one person. It’s distributed amongst, you know, probably 30 to 50 people and, you know …


Mike: [01:21:37] And innumerable trusts and holding companies and …


Ben: [01:21:42] Anyways, you gotta wonder if they can actually make a dent and then maybe there’s hope, you know?


Mike: [01:21:47] I think so. I think so. I mean, yeah. Let’s take a guy like Bezos right, with the wealth that he commands and let’s say if he were the people that he would be trying, I mean, at that point to be going up against, would have many, many, many times that. But it’s enough money to make a difference. I mean just a portion of it would be enough to make a difference if it were deployed intelligently.


Ben: [01:22:12] Not the direction we were planning on going, Mike. But still a pretty awesome discussion, man.


Mike: [01:22:19] [Laughing] If people are still listening, it’s because they want to still be listening. We’re just at the end having fun.


Ben: [01:22:27] Yeah. And, you know, if anyone questions the legitimacy, this stuff is like starting to question your own thoughts. I’m sure you get this a lot too, people will just come on, listen to something you say and discredit it rather than thinking about it. Like hey, think about it? You know, the fact that it’s even a possibility, you don’t have to judge it, you don’t have to believe it or not, but at least start thinking about it and making awareness about it.

And I think living a life that’s informed and educated is absolutely essential and always your choice, whether or not you choose to let it influence your actions or not, right? But knowing is definitely step one in anything in life. And simply with this stuff that I teach man, you could choose and say, “hey, man, you know, I don’t wanna know this stuff like I choose to just train mindlessly and train like a monkey.”

But I think knowing it is step one in anything you do, so you know, this is why creating awareness around as many things as you can in life is useful and why people probably love your podcast.


Mike: [01:23:18] Well said and a nice wrap up. So let’s just let everybody know where they can find you and your work. Do you have seminars coming up, like what kind of stuff are you getting into?


Ben: [01:23:30] I’ll be the guy who’s reading Quigley’s book for the next 10 years. [Laughing] So if you want to find me …


Mike: [01:23:35] Start with The Anglo American Establishment That’s a good advertisement. [Laughing]


Ben: [01:23:37] If you want to find me, I’m going to have a really long beard and probably have all my electricity turned off and be reading by candlelight somewhere for the next …. [Laughing]


Mike: [01:23:44] But you’ll finish the fucking book all 1,400 pages.


Ben: [01:23:47] I’ll be back.


Mike: [01:23:47] [Laughing] It’s kind of like Atlas Shrugged. It’s like a rite of passage, is you’re able to say, “I read Tragedy and Hope.”


Ben: [01:23:54] I’ll be back in 10 years and we’re going to another podcast. My beard might be a little bit longer, might be a little bit skinnier, but we’re going to do it, man.


Mike: [01:24:03] Last time we spoke, you said you wanted to, maybe you’re done losing muscle, but if you want to lose muscle maybe there’s better ways.


Ben: [01:24:09] It’s more the lack of necessity to walk around at 300 pounds. And, you know, people assume like, “oh, you’re gonna stop competing, you’re gonna lose a bunch of muscle,” and that doesn’t happen because my muscle was earned. [Laughing] You know, it’s 20 years of relentless dedication to what I did.

So I’m taking a much more relaxed approach to my fitness and nutrition and training the way I feel is right and still trying to maintain strength and maintain mobility. And my kind of articulation of what I’m trying to do with my life is: a brilliant mind, resilient body. So I want to have, you know, the ability to read great books and have great conversations while still being able to do all the cool things I want with my kids. So that’s that.

And to answer your question, man, where people can find me, the Muscle Intelligence podcast is on iTunes, teaching people intelligent strategies to build their greatest body and live your greatest life. And muscle is launching very, very soon, the site is done, we’re just finishing up the server details. So that may be out by the time you launch the podcast and if not, so Muscle Intelligence is the extended version of MI40, which is short for Muscle Intelligence. So MI40 is the business, Muscle Intelligence is the new version. That’s it. That’s me.


Mike: [01:25:21] Awesome man. Thanks as always, it’s fun chatting.


Ben: [01:25:25] Next time we’ll schedule a three-hour podcast and we’ll talk about Quigley. 


Mike: [01:25:29] I like it. I like it.


Ben: [01:25:31] Alright buddy, I appreciate your time, man. Thank you

Mentioned on the Show:

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Reincarnation Research from UVA

The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley

Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley

The Muscle Intelligence Podcast

Ben’s Website

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!