521. The Self-Initiation of Mike Posner: Overcoming Fame, Finding Freedom & Embodying Love

Mike Posner

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Grammy nominated artist, Mike Posner, sheds light on his life-changing trek across the U.S. that famously included surviving a rattlesnake bite, finding fulfillment, staying grounded, and embracing life’s many challenges as invaluable gifts.

Mike Posner's expansive, multi-platinum discography has earned him global recognition. His songs have been streamed more than 10 billion times, and his pop single "I Took a Pill in Ibiza” was nominated for Song of The Year at the 2017 Grammys. In addition to his own music, Posner has written hits for some of the world's biggest artists, including Maroon 5 and Justin Bieber.

In 2019, Posner walked nearly 3,000 miles across North America in an effort to inspire people to challenge themselves, surviving a rattlesnake bite along the way. He then made it to the peak of Mount Everest in 2021, raising more than $250,000 for the Detroit Justice Center.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

I’m honored to welcome the incredibly talented and inspirational Mike Posner to the show. You might know Mike from his multi-platinum discography. His global hits like “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” have been streamed over 10 billion times, earning him a Grammy nomination and a revered spot in the music world. Mike's also the mastermind behind chart-topping songs for icons like Maroon 5 and Justin Bieber. 

But what truly sets him apart isn't just his musical prowess; it’s his remarkable humility and relentless pursuit of growth and self-discovery.

In 2019, Mike embarked on a near 3,000-mile trek across North America, a life-changing journey that included surviving a life-threatening rattlesnake bite. This extraordinary feat was followed by scaling the heights of Mount Everest in 2021 while raising over $250,000 for the Detroit Justice Center. Through these endeavors, Mike's not just challenging his limits but also inspiring others to explore their potential and discover true freedom and purpose.

In today's episode, Mike and I delve into the profound lessons learned from his incredible experiences. We discuss how challenges and pain can be powerful catalysts for growth and evolution. Mike shares his insights on reaching the pinnacle of success in the music industry, the inspiration behind his monumental walk across the United States, and how a rattlesnake bite reshaped his perspective. 

We also get into the nitty-gritty of his songwriting genius, our shared love for great music, and what’s left to conquer on his dream to-do list. And – for the first time on The Life Stylist Podcast – Mike performs a song, live, bringing his soulful sound right to your ears. 

His journey, from the peaks of musical fame to the highest peak on Earth itself, is a testament to living life with intention, humility, and love as guiding forces. This episode is packed with life lessons about finding fulfillment, staying grounded, and embracing life’s gifts. So tune in, get inspired, and let’s explore the power of transformation with the one and only, Mike Posner.

(00:00:09) Learning to Embrace Challenges as Gifts

  • Lessons from a snakebite while walking across the country
  • Parsing attention vs. love
  • Understanding collective vs. individual identities 
  • Why we feel victimized or identify as a victim
  • The process of transmuting challenges into gifts
  • Can you change the past?

(00:20:36) A Grammy Nominated Artist’s Quest for Fulfillment 

  • Mike’s experience of achieving external success and not feeling fulfilled
  • The turning point in Mike’s life that led him to walk across the U.S. 
  • His best advice for navigating life
  • Exploring how we underestimate ourselves

(00:39:07) Finding Ultimate Freedom & Accountability in Love

  • Mike’s biggest dream for his future 
  • Bringing one's highest potential into actualization 
  • Revisiting what freedom really looks like 
  • What withholding love can do to you 
  • Podcast: The Mike Posner Podcast

(00:51:21) Mike Posner’s Humility Hacks & Tools For Staying Grounded

(01:10:16) Inside an Intentional Cross Country Rite of Passage

  • The logistics of walking across the U.S. 
  • What happened when he was bitten by a rattlesnake
  • The difference between a supported vs. unsupported trek
  • Mike shares eye-opening takeaways from his journey 
  • What the end of his journey felt like and the ceremony that took place

(01:30:42) All About The Music: Mike Posner’s Songwriting Inspo & Flow

  • Where the songs Mike writes really come from 
  • How he opens the channel of inspiration 
  • Mike’s dream collaborations
  • The recording and production process
  • Discussing our love of music and drums 

(01:47:44) Mike’s Favorite Methods for Growth & Evolution

[00:00:00] Luke: The first thing I want to know, Mike, is in the most real nitty gritty sense, what does it physically feel like to be bit by a rattlesnake? Because I think you're the only person I know that's ever had that experience.

[00:00:16] Mike: I'm glad. These are two tiers to the feeling. The initial feeling is one of just pain, how you'd imagine a bite to feel. I got bit on my left ankle, so I felt this pain in my left leg. So it was the first tier of the sensation.

[00:00:39] Luke: From that puncture itself.

[00:00:40] Mike: Yeah, from the actual bite.

[00:00:42] Luke: Yeah. I've had a few of those in my day. They just weren't venomous.

[00:00:46] Mike: Right. I'm glad. And then it took about five, 10 minutes for then the second tier of sensations, which was I guess when the venom started to go through me. It felt like darkness just coming in from the edges of my awareness similar to the end of Looney Tunes when the circles would get smaller and it's, that's all folks.

[00:01:16] I would feel myself fading away and just going away. Then I'd wake up. And that happened to me twice before I got the medicine, the anti-venom. So that was pretty interesting. After the first tier, I was joking around, and after the second tier, I wasn't joking around anymore.

[00:01:42] Luke: Wow. And I think the way we look at the treatment, the anti-venom generally is what we see in films and whatnot, where you get bit and then they introduce the anti-venom and then you just walk out and you're grooving. It probably doesn't work that seamlessly.

[00:02:03] Mike: That's what I thought. It's because of the name, anti-venom sounds like a cure. So I thought I would get that medicine and I would continue my journey. At the time, I was doing this crazy journey. I was walking across the United States. But you're right. The doctor told me, you're going to be in the hospital for a little while.

[00:02:24] I ended up being there five days. My legs, it's like the sides of a elephant trunk. And before I got bit, I was walking 24 miles every day. I couldn't walk to the bathroom. I had a walker and crutches and so it was real medicine. But unlike some other plant medicine, I guess it's not a plant medicine, so animal medicine, I didn't get the lesson in an hour or two hours or eight hours.

[00:02:57] It took me really a month or two to get the gift from the snake bite, which was, I had to-- a, it really hurt because I got pretty darn hurt from it. And yeah, I was in the middle of this journey of trying to walk across the US, and I was two thirds of the way done when I got bit.

[00:03:26] And what happened was I got a ton of attention for getting hurt. The story of Mike Posner getting bit by the snake sounded like-- got picked up by the mainstream, news stations, and suddenly I started to get a lot more popular for being hurt. So there was a part of me that wanted to stay hurt because it had created being hurt with getting love.

[00:03:56] It actually wasn't love. It was attention. They're very different. And I realized, hey, man, I'm actually healing, and now I have a decision to make as I got better from the actual injury. I can either just stop, stay home, or I can go back to this journey that really hurts physically. And it's dangerous. I almost get hit by a car every day.

[00:04:38] But I know ultimately who I am meant to become is on the other side. I have 1,000 more miles to walk. And so I think I realized intuitively, just like the snake, I wasn't quite done shedding the skin, and I had to go back and finish my journey. And once I did so, I went back to the spot the snake bit me, and I started walking again. That's when I got the gift from the medicine, which was I could do pretty much anything. It showed me how strong I was, but it had to hurt me to show me what I could overcome.

[00:05:22] Luke: Wow, that's interesting in your understanding of the attention that you received and the contrast between attention and love. And it exemplifies, I think, a lot of what we see in our culture with victim identities and victim consciousness that's become so prevalent over the past few years.

[00:05:47] Disclaimer, caveat to that is that there are real victims, obviously. You are a victim of the snake, and many of us are victims of different sorts of trauma, and violence, and oppression, and all that. So I'm not minimizing that, but I have noticed culturally that there is a thought meme or a prevalent trend of victim Olympics of like, who is the most offended? Who is the most repressed and oppressed? And I see so many people glomming onto those identities as a means by which to achieve a sense of significance through that attention.

[00:06:34] Mike: Yeah, I agree. The way I look at it is I make a distinction between the collective attitude and the individual attitude. So collectively as a community, we should try to minimize the amount of pain and suffering anyone of us has to go through. We should optimize our society to have the least amount of rape victims, murder victims, any of those things.

[00:07:03] We should try to make that as small as possible. But should you find yourself-- that's the collective-- as the individual no matter what life gives you, even of the most horrendous circumstances, it's never beneficial to you to self-identify as a victim. It's always better for a person across the board, no matter what, to self-identify as a victor or someone who's overcoming something. That's always better. So I think of it like that, as a distinction between the collective and the individual.

[00:07:47] Luke: That's dope. I like that.

[00:07:48] Mike: Yeah.

[00:07:48] Luke: And there's also an inspiring reverberation when someone is authentically victimized and is able to transmute that experience and their suffering into, as you said, being the victor for others to bear witness and see because every person on the planet's going to be victimized to some degree at some point in their life, because there's nefarious people, and dangerous animals, and all kinds of things that they're working against our wellbeing and safety.

[00:08:22] But if one can overcome something, whether that's walking across the country, getting bit by a snake, for me, my big personal victory was overcoming addiction and alcoholism. And I didn't talk about it publicly for most of that, almost 27 years I've been sober. I started my podcast. I was super embarrassed to share that part. And as I did, I found other people benefited from that. And so then I thought, well, it's still embarrassing because I had some shame around it.

[00:08:58] But as I became more open to share it, then other people started coming out of the woodwork, AKA out of the addiction or recovery closet, and we're like, oh man, thank you so much. So it's like, even though my addiction was born somewhat out of victimhood from trauma and things like that earlier in life, and most of the victimhood was things I did to myself. You know what I mean?

[00:09:21] Through decisions I made. But overcoming that, not seeing myself as a victim, has a collective reverberation on the collective, because then each individual in the collective can go, oh shit, maybe I can look at my own life and my own challenges in that way.

[00:09:36] Mike: Yeah, yeah. And you became a teacher. You used your pain. And like my buddy Inq says, you alchemized it into something beautiful, which is part of what you're doing here on your podcast. And look, man, if you didn't go through the pain and the suffering, you wouldn't be able to help others.

[00:10:01] You wouldn't have the insights. You wouldn't have the stories. You wouldn't have the requisite material, knowledge, wisdom to make a difference for others. And so when you zoom out, was that addiction a gift or a curse? How do you look at that now?

[00:10:27] Luke: Yeah, perspective. Dude, I look at everything I've been challenged by in my life not only as a gift, but in many cases, experiences that I either attracted or was drawn to because my higher self knew the lessons that were available in it. We were talking about birth trauma, and circumcision, and stuff like that before we recorded.

[00:10:57] And this took years to be able to recontextualize some of those things, specifically pertaining to feeling victimized, because many of the things that hurt me in my life earlier on were out of my control, which is the definition of victim, is like, did you choose it consciously by making stupid decisions that then resulted in one being hurt, or were there things done to you about what you had no control? But looking at those early things took a long time.

[00:11:31] But eventually I started to see, oh, on some level beyond this version of myself, this identity, this persona that I chose, the circumstances of my birth and my life, because there was material in there for me to work with to give me something to overcome.

[00:11:51] Mike: What you're talking about right now is really ripe, in my opinion, because what you're really saying is you changed your past. You didn't change the events that happened, but as you evolved and your consciousness evolved, you look back at those events through a new lens, and the way in which you saw them changed, and the role in which those events play in your present moment, in your story now, is different.

[00:12:29] And so literally, you're talking about changing your past, which most people say on the service, like the past is done. You can't change the past. But you can. So it's very beautiful, and poignant, and we can do that. The past doesn't change itself.

[00:12:51] So just because your consciousness evolves, you come to a new understanding, you have a new vantage point in life. All of us do as we evolve and we mature. The way you see the events in your past don't change. The role they play in your story and your present moment is still defined by the consciousness you had when they happened.

[00:13:17] And so you have to go back and look and rewrite that story. And maybe it has the same events, but the meaning is different. And I believe you could literally do that with your whole life. That would be too much work. So what events are worth going and changing the interpretation of, the meaning of, changing the lens, looking at the old event with the new vantage point.

[00:13:54] Well, the ones you should look at and reinterpret are the ones that hurt. Why do they hurt? I think because they're calling to be changed. I think life is rigged that way on purpose. They're drawing our attention to them. And the potential there is really exciting for what we can do and to literally view the worst thing that ever happened to you as the best thing that ever happened to you. The snake bite sucked when it happened. Now I wouldn't trade it for anything, anything, anything, anything. What a gift!

[00:14:42] Luke: It's interesting thinking about timelines. I've had some experiences in ceremony, and those experiences, that’s the integration, is having realizations and gaining understanding. But then you come out of an altered state of consciousness and you go back to being your persona and living your life and doing the dishes to the work, I think, in those understandings is how to bring it back into real time.

[00:15:15] But one of the main ones that I've had, and I want to get your take on this, because what you just said to me describes this, the way we look at time is linear and sequential. And so take you or me as the five-year-old boy in whatever year we were a five-year-old boy, that that moment in time, say, where we experienced a hurt, or a trauma, or something, is in the past. So it's gone. It's not here anymore.

[00:15:45] But in reality, in the eternal now or the eternal present, which is infinite, there's no beginning to time, and there's no end to time. It's actually all one congruent, simultaneous moment that is happening all at the same time. So it's hard to describe without a whiteboard, but say we have the beginning of what we consider time of when we're born and then you have the unknown infinite of now.

[00:16:15] We think this stamp right here is now part of the past and that right now, in this present moment, talking to you is the now, but that's only because my attention is focused on this moment, and so it seems like the only real one and the only one that is malleable in the way that you just described our past is malleable.

[00:16:35] In reality, what I've discovered is that all of that time is actually the same time as right now. So you can actually jump timelines and go back and change the past based on what you just said, that tool of changing one's perception. So it's like what I've come to in my own experience of myself and my own growth and evolution is that, say I'm looking at myself as a young child or the inner child, is a term you hear in psychology a lot-- inner child work and healing and whatnot.

[00:17:12] It's not that the five-year-old was in the past, it's just that my perspective now is the 43-year-old. So it seems like the five-year-old isn't here anymore. But in reality, like Russian dolls, it's a matter of unpacking all of those layers of oneself, and that five-year-old boy of me, and I believe of you and everyone, is actually still present in the here and now.

[00:17:36] And one can build a relationship with all of those past versions of oneself and communicate with it, heal it, be the steward of all those versions that we were before when we were less wise and more vulnerable, vulnerable in the sense of being taken advantage of or being harmed.

[00:17:55] And it's like we can actually have sovereignty over every iteration of ourselves from the moment we were born to the moment we sit in now if we look at all of that time as one long moment. It's still ongoing. Everything is totally flexible, and malleable, and changeable, solely based on our perspective. It's fucking wild. It's fucking wild. So thank you for reminding me of that in your own way.

[00:18:27] Something else I think that's really valuable in our individual suffering and things we overcome, whether it's a snake bite or anything, is the empathy that's born out of that and the unconditional love and desire to serve and help others once you've experienced that kind of pain.

[00:18:50] So it's like, say you're out on a hike and you come upon someone who was just bit by a rattlesnake. You're going to have a very unique gift and ability to support and help that person based on your experience and also, I'm assuming, a deep and burning desire to do so based on the fact that you've been there. See what I mean?

[00:19:15] Mike: I do see what you mean. Yeah.

[00:19:17] Luke: How have experiences in your life, the snake bite and other challenges that you've overcome, informed the way you interact with people and your capacity to hold space for them, help them, love them?

[00:19:32] Mike: Well, really is the pain that's caused me to be on that walk in the first place. This is where my passion lies, why I'm here today. So I'm laughing because I'm imagining if I dedicated my life to like snake bite victims.

[00:19:49] Luke: Start a foundation, support group.

[00:19:52] Mike: That's why I'm here today, man. I want to talk about snakes, and that's it. No, but I started that journey. What drives a person to want to walk from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean? I was somebody who had been very successful, and I had been nominated for Grammys. I made a lot of money, and something was just missing.

[00:20:32] I remember I was renting this little guest house in West Hollywood, a house behind someone else's house, and looking into this mirror with the toothpaste spots on the mirror and just seeing what I thought was the truth at the time, this aging pop star who was haunted by the ghost of his 20s, and he was now 30.

[00:21:13] And getting a call that one of my best friends growing up was dead. And just looking in that polka dot mirror thinking, dude, this can't be It. I thought there would be more than this. I thought my life would feel different and I've accomplished so much. I've done all the things I thought elicit that feeling of vitality, of life, of joy, and none of those things were there.

[00:22:08] None of those things were there in my present. We're talking about timelines, and none of those things were there in my future, meaning there was nothing I was looking forward to. And I just knew something was wrong. Something was wrong. And I had taken plant medicine. I had done the meditation retreats, been in therapy, all this stuff, and nothing was working. I would get high for a week, and I just come down.

[00:22:57] And as we talk about the timelines, I chose something which may sound obvious, but the medicine I needed to take at that time wasn't mushrooms or ayahuasca. It was putting something into my future that excited me, that made me smile, that gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

[00:23:29] And so earlier we spoke about, hey, you can go back and change the past, at least the way you interpret it, and that affects your present. It works the other way as well. I put something in my future, which was I decided I, Mike Posner, I'm going to walk across America. That goal fired me up. It made me smile, just like it makes me smile now. It's so much so that this thing in the future also changed my present.

[00:24:04] And it gave me inspiration. It gave me vitality. It gave me joy at times. Definitely gave me excitement. Gave me a little fear too, but I felt alive again. So I don't identify so much with the snake bite victims. I identify with those people looking in the mirror, going, I know there's more than this. This can't be it.

[00:24:32] And this feeling of I have more to give, there's more inside me that I have to offer, and for whatever reason, it's not getting out. I have gifts that are going unused. I want to share what I did when I felt that feeling because I don't feel it anymore. And so I just want to serve those people.

[00:25:04] Luke: It's really fortunate that you achieved this external success early in life and came to that place of going, shit, this wasn't it, so early. This is something that I think most people who are successful in the external ways-- there's a lot of different types of success, but our society measures success on notoriety, album sales, real estate deals, whatever, whatever your professional goals are, etc. Or getting a family, having a wife and kids, whatever, buying a house, all these metrics, these benchmarks of, oh, we've made it.

[00:25:48] And I got a few years on you, and I don't think-- we're close to achieving my potential even on the external levels of life, but I know quite a few older men who bought into this idea that you get an education and you get a high level job or you start a company, become an entrepreneur, get the wife, the kids, the Porsche, the things, and then you're still the same you that you were, and you have the experience like you had, but you were so fortunate to have had that at such a young age. What are you? In your mid-30s now?

[00:26:24] Mike: I'm 35.

[00:26:26] Luke: 35.

[00:26:27] Mike: At the time of recording, 35.

[00:26:29] Luke: You're a deep cat man, and you have a really broad understanding of the nature of the human experience for someone your age. So what I'm saying is what a gift to be able to fast track to that I've made it place and be standing at a wall, going, oh, if this is making it, then I miss something because you still felt dissatisfied.

[00:26:57] And you probably have millions of fans out there that listen to your music and follow you on social media, and they're like, oh man, if I could just have the life he had, I wouldn't feel the way I feel. And you had the life that most people want, at least some version of that, and here you are looking at the toothpaste-splattered mirror going, what the fuck is this? There's something missing.

[00:27:18] What a gift, man, to be able to get that so young, and also to not have burned the life that you built down. Back in the day, there was these shows on VH1 that were like-- it was called Whatever Happened To, about rock stars and pop stars that disappeared out of the public eye and went through personal struggles, and addiction, and stuff like that.

[00:27:42] Mike: Where Are They Now?

[00:27:43] Luke: Yeah. Is that it? Where Are They Now? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I used to watch that. It was just so depressing, but I got it.

[00:27:49] Mike: Was it Behind the Music?

[00:27:50] Luke: Behind The Music. Thank you. That's exactly what it was. And it was usually based on these tragic stories about people that achieved this level of fame and hit that point that you did, and then rather than going, hey, I'm going to put something in my future that lights me up and gives me vitality and a sense of hope, such as walking across the country or doing whatever, those are all examples of people who just turned their back on themselves essentially and went into despair, and distraction, and addiction, and all those things. So I'm stoked for you, man. It's so cool.

[00:28:27] Mike: Thank you.

[00:28:27] Luke: And one of the things I was excited about talking to you about is the fact that you're a person who has this notoriety and you have so many people in the world that follow you in your work that you are in a perfect position to actually affect change. When you're a pop star, famous musician, people are downloading your music, and then you come on a podcast like this and talk about some deeper stuff, healing, transformation, consciousness, etc., you are going to have young kids that are maybe not listening to this show, but other shows you're on or whatever, that are going to save themselves from chasing their version of success knowing that what comes at the end of that is the possibility of dire disappointment.

[00:29:13] Mike: Yeah. It doesn't have to.

[00:29:14] Luke: Yeah. It doesn't have to. So I love talking to people that are influential that have this trickle down impact on people to help them find depth in their lives. It's such a cool thing to be able to do. That's why I have this not-so-secret wish that every CEO, and every celebrity, and every influential person in the world find psychedelics, or meditation, or whatever their path is, to spread the news.

[00:29:41] I'm sure when you produce artists, for example, the experience that you bring to the studio is totally different because of the work you've done on yourself. And then their art is going to be imbued with the consciousness that you're bringing to it, and then that's going to affect people on a different level. It's just beautiful, man.

[00:29:58] Mike: Thank you. Well, there's one thing I want to-- you inspired me when you said that it's a gift I had this realization at such a young age. But for anyone listening, it never feels like you're young. People always feel, oh, because they're the oldest they've ever been right now.

[00:30:20] Luke: That's good. Yeah, yeah. That's good.

[00:30:22] Mike: So when I was 20, I felt old because I was comparing it to being in high school. Man, I'm 20 now. When you're 15, you feel like, man, I'm not 11 anymore. It's a giant difference. And so one of the things like that, I'm always just reminding people love. There's this quote in Stephen Covey. He says, leadership is articulating someone's potential so powerfully that they're inspired to see it themselves. And so one of the things that I'm constantly reminding people when they ask me for some coaching or advice, never unsolicited, is just the beginning. This is just the beginning. And a lot of times we reverse engineer our-- it's weird-- future by looking at our past.

[00:31:32] The situation I'm in right now, my future's going to be like this but 5% different. It's very natural to do that. But in reality, man, God has a plan for you. It's big. And it's bigger than you. It's the people you're going to touch. And so I was just inspired to put that in your episode here, is this is just the beginning. This is just as a mantra for people to try on. And sometimes they're in the middle of that snake bite moment and it doesn't feel like a beginning. It feels like an end. Beginnings hide themselves in ends.

[00:32:18] Luke: Oh, that's good. I like that.

[00:32:19] Mike: Beginnings always hide themselves in the ends.

[00:32:21] Luke: That's tweetable. Jared, mark that down for our future Twitter, the app on which I have zero followers. Maybe since they changed the name, my account will grow.

[00:32:32] Mike: I don't think it works that way, but we can hold space.

[00:32:36] Luke: But that's really good. Something I've observed in myself and other people is that we so powerfully underestimate ourselves based on that. There's one side of it where you achieve some level of accomplishment or success and you go, oh man, I was banking my whole existence and my happiness on this, and then you're disappointed.

[00:33:07] But there's the other side of it where you're like, this is awesome. I've arrived at X on the map, and I feel great. This is as good as it gets. Don't dare hope for more, whatever your version of more is, whether it's internal or external. And I've had realizations like that on a number of occasions where-- it's like when we bought this house and renovated this house, my first house ever.

[00:33:30] It's been a dream of mine for a long time to exit out of the world of being a renter and paying someone else's mortgage, building wealth for someone else. And we did all this work on the house. It got it done and moved in. And it was like I had so much energy and intentionality behind this whole thing that I was basing my whole existence on this house.

[00:33:53] And then one day I had this realization, I was like, dude, Luke, you're thinking so fucking small. In the near future, you're going to look at this house you have as this little rental property you have in Texas that's like, whatever. That's a material example of that, but it's also just, I don't know, other things internally, the way I feel about myself, the impact I have on the world, the number of downloads I have, whatever metric by which I'm measuring my success or accomplishments, I'm always looking at it way smaller than it actually could be in the future.

[00:34:29] I think a lot of success, however we measure that-- not a lot-- maybe all of it is really dependent on how much we can stretch our imagination, into your point of you can actually not only alter your past timeline, but your future timeline. I think it's based on your level of creativity and what you believe is possible for yourself. That's really the only limit because reality is so much what we interpret it to be.

[00:35:03] So what do you right now, Mike, envision for your future? What's the biggest dream you can imagine right now for yourself interpersonally, in your relationships, whether it's getting married, or the number of sales you have, or writing a book, or your next climb up Everest, or your next trek? If you could stretch your imagination right now, what does your life look like in five years?

[00:35:28] Mike: Well, definitely my biggest journey's going to be family and marriage. Yeah, family, for sure, is big because I'm someone who put no energy into intimate relationships for most of my life. It was all about the music, the art, and sharing the gift. There was nothing wrong with that. That's just where my focus was. And so now I'm very clear on how much that matters to me. And for a while, I convinced myself it didn't matter to me.

[00:36:12] That's the biggest one for me, for sure, without a doubt. There's a bunch of others like creative goals, man, financial goals, and things I want to do with my body, and treks I want to take, and stuff like that. But that's the one that like excites me the most, man, because I know it's going to call forth a different part of my soul that no mountain can, no album can. And I'm excited, and scared, and excited.

[00:36:48] Luke: Right on. I agree 100%, dude. A healthy relationship is the most powerful motivator for bringing one's highest potential into actualization. I'm called forth. You'll meet my wife, Alyson. She's around here somewhere. What she calls forth from me is so much bigger and better than what I could ever call forth out of myself. It's hard to explain, but I think you just did. You're already seen that, ooh, there's really some juice in there when you have like a partner.

[00:37:38] Mike: Can I try to explain it?

[00:37:39] Luke: Yeah, please.

[00:37:40] Mike: Because I'm on the other side. Maybe you tell me if I'm off. When you're single, you can turn off more, meaning-- I'm in Austin, visiting. I'm going to go back to my hotel at some point tonight, and I don't have to be-- if I'm not the best version of myself, it's not going to cause any harm to anyone but me, meaning I could just watch YouTube, or some stupid show, or whatever, or I could jerk off, or do whatever distracted behavior. Essentially, just turn off. Stop--

[00:38:28] Luke: That's a good way to put it.

[00:38:33] Mike: Being in the light.

[00:38:35] Luke: Check out.

[00:38:36] Mike: Yeah, check out. But if my partner's in the hotel room with me, the energy's going to be off. And so actually calls forth excellence more of the time. Yeah. Demands that. And I think that's probably just one part of what you feel, I presume.

[00:39:05] Luke: That's very well said. That's very well said. That has been my experience, especially-- trip on this. Trying not to be too self-referential here because I really want to learn about you, but I don't know, our vibe is just a dialogue more than an interview, so forgive me for that.

[00:39:25] We're going to learn more about you too, but this is one of the ways I'm learning about you. Hopefully other people are too. My entire life I was a classic avoidant because I valued freedom. It's one of my highest values. Maybe love above, not romantic love, but just love as a whole above freedom.

[00:39:50] I was like, I got to be free, man. So I'm not going to get married, don't want to have kids, don't want to have a girlfriend. I'm just going to be a free agent for the rest of my life. And I clung to that and checked out in so many ways for years. And what I started to realize eventually was that by limiting my capacity to experience love with another human being by always having these barriers and breaks and walls and all this shit, all these avoidant tendencies and tactics, that I was erecting a barrier between infinite freedom and this very limited and counterfeit version of freedom.

[00:40:39] The version of freedom of autonomy to do whatever I want, when I want, go back to my hotel, zone out, order some food. I'm not accountable to anyone except myself, right? So I think, well, that's freedom, and still hiding from vulnerability, and love, and intimacy.

[00:40:56] And then I started to unpack that and see, oh shit, the freedom that I am clinging to, that I value so highly is not even 50% of the potential of true freedom, which is the freedom to actually be seen and to be vulnerable to someone who, of course, deserves that and is safe to be so with.

[00:41:24] Dude, the freedom I have now, the freedom to be completely seen, to be ultimately vulnerable, to be lovable, to express my love without any fear or limitations in any way is a whole other level of freedom that so far supersedes the freedom of just doing what I want I want, right?

[00:41:51] Mike: Yeah.

[00:41:52] Luke: And within it, as you said, and this is so true, is the accountability to another human being and not doing anything because you're now one unit. You're still an individual, but you're now one unit. And that unit itself, the relationship is its own living entity. There's the you, the person, and then this third entity that needs to be cultivated and cared for, which is the relationship.

[00:42:18] So if anything, I am doing affects that third unit of the relationship, now my behavior is not just hurting me, as you said, it's hurting the other person. And that's where so much of that accountability comes from. But it's not to not hurt them, it's actually to not hurt myself.

[00:42:37] Because that person is calling forth the king in me that actually permeates all of my interactions and everything I do in my life. It's so fucking cool. I would've never, ever known that because my perception of it was like, I'm not going to be held down. I'm going to do what I want, all that shit. And there's nothing wrong with that.

[00:42:59] If anyone's listening, the guys or anyone, no shame. I get it, but I'm just telling you what's on the other side of that is fucking beautiful. So I'm so stoked that that's part of your vision, man, because you have so much to share and to offer.

[00:43:14] Mike: Thank you. Well, you said a few things that were like really inspiring. One was the evolved definition of freedom. [Inaudible], he says, freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Freedom is the ability to choose a course of action and see it through.

[00:43:31] So if you want to maintain-- not you, the rhetorical you-- wants to maintain the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want, I'll tell you one thing from my perspective, things I've done in my life. You're not free to climb Mount Everest. You're not free to walk across America. You're not free to have a relationship.

[00:43:54] Those things are all off the menu if you need to maintain ultimate autonomy to do whatever you want, whenever you want, at any time. And so you're right that that definition of freedom is incredibly limiting. Jocko Willink says, discipline is freedom. It's alluding to the same truth.

[00:44:15] The other thing you said that inspired me was the freedom to express love because I think a lot of pain-- this has been true in my life, but I presume is true in everyone's life because we're all humans. So much of the pain that I have experienced or experienced to this day comes from my love that I know I have inside me being stuck.

[00:44:50] Luke: 100%, bro.

[00:44:51] Mike: There's this love inside and you want to give it, you want to share it, you want to get it out, but you don't because you feel like you can't. You feel like if I give it to this person or thing, it won't be received the way I want it to. I'm scared, so I'll just hold onto it.

[00:45:10] And you think if I give it to X, Y, or Z, they won't give me back the same amount, and then I'll run out. And this is like another fallacy. You said the word fallacy earlier because that's looking at love like it's money. It's looking at love through a capitalist lens, which is like, hey, if I give you 10 units of love, now you have 10 units more of love and I have 10 units less. That's not how love works. If I give you love, you have more love, and I have more love. We both get more. It's actually a trippy thing when you really think it.

[00:45:48] Luke: That's cool. Yeah. I like that.

[00:45:50] Mike: And so we forget that truth, that love works that way, and so we throttle down. Sometimes I throttle down the amount of love I give. Love is like water. It's got to flow. When it stays still, it gets gross. It starts to be a little green algae in there and then it's like some little bugs and stuff. It starts to stink. And all of a sudden that love is dangerously looking a lot like hate. It's looking a lot like anger. It's looking a lot like depression.

[00:46:27] And so that just really inspired me because you said that you had the freedom to express love. And I think a lot of men feel that. Especially men feel that because we're the ones that give the least amount, throttled down the most, and we have a lot to give.

[00:46:49] Luke: So true. I experienced, some years ago, in withholding my love, it was actually breaking my heart. And funnily enough, the day I learned that-- this is trippy, dude, but how I met my wife, Alyson, is I interviewed her on this podcast.

[00:47:11] Mike: Hey, man, I got to get a podcast.

[00:47:13] Luke: Yeah, you got to. I heard you're starting a podcast, so you might meet your one. But we were having a conversation about this very topic, and I realized in that moment-- is Episode 111 for those that want to hear it. And we didn't get together for years after that, but I had the realization that I was breaking my own heart by withholding my love, not just in a romantic sense, but just from the world, of having that governor on, a scarcity mindset around love or of vulnerability, of being open, and then being heard, and things like that.

[00:47:51] So it's so true and so well said. What about being someone such as yourself that has some notoriety, have fans, you have a degree of celebrity, for lack of a better term. How have you dealt with, not just in a romantic sense, but in business or anything, the parasitic tendency that people have to glom onto someone because of their notoriety?

[00:48:24] I worked in Hollywood for a long time in the entertainment industry, and I noticed around celebrities often there were, I don't know, it's almost like when you see sucker fish hanging on a shark or something. It's like they have all these kind of tentacles attached to them, publisher, manager, agent, label, and then friends, handlers, gophers, assistants.

[00:48:53] It's like you have this one person who's generating this energy and this revenue, and then all of these entities feeding on them. And then you see the person in the middle who is blinded to it. And if they start drinking their own Kool-Aid, if they're very ego identified, then they get totally sucked up in all of that, and they become more vulnerable to the parasitic nature of those hangers on. How have you dealt with that in your career, in your life?

[00:49:25] Mike: I think, first of all, that scenario of people being attracted to something that creates value in some ways, like money or clout, I guess, in the entertainment industry, it's not that different than people going to work for a company that makes a product or products, and maybe something they don't believe in, but they go work there because they get a paycheck from it.

[00:49:54] And why are they attracted to that place? Well, because there's money there. And so I don't know if the melodrama of the pop artist or the actor is that much worse, or whatever. But the way I've tried to navigate it, what is distinct from a company to the artist is what you alluded to is at the center of it.

[00:50:24] You start to believe your own thing because instead of a product being at the center as a human being, which in this case you're asked about is me, and if everyone around me works for me, I could get dangerous feedback loop there. And I've noticed that in myself in the past, the worst was tour for me, because a normal job, you go to the job and you go home. But on tour you go back on the tour bus.

[00:50:51] So you live with everybody. They're all great people, but there's this implicit asymmetry in that they all work for me. They all work for me. And when you're living 24/7 with everyone that works for you, that's not the dynamic you want to dwell in all the time.

[00:51:15] So I would try to invent little hacks for myself. I had this assistant, lovely man, super Matt. Still a good friend of mine, and I was be like, hey, man, you got to go on vacation. I was like, I need to carry my own shit. I need to do this. I need to bring thing. I was like, paid vacation. You just go do whatever the fuck you want, but go away for two weeks, man, and have fun.

[00:51:43] So that was one hack I would use on tour. Another hack was, on tour is the band and then there's the crew, and the crew is up early loading shit in doing real manual labor, and they're up late after the show taking it down. And so on a couple of tours, we've convinced the crew to let me work. They would call me a different name. They'd make fun, and I didn't know anything.

[00:52:21] And so I would get up early, and I'd load the stuff in, load the guitars, and the amps, all that stuff. And I'd play the show. And sometimes it'd be crazy lit. Context is everything. I'd play the last note of the show, go backstage, meditate, put on a black hoodie, put the hood up, walk right back on the stage and just start taking shit down, unplugging microphones, pushing the amps, and no one would recognize you because it's context.

[00:53:00] The person looking at that and the audience, they think, oh, that's Mike. Maybe that's Mike's brother, Mike's cousin. You know what I mean? But no, that's me. So that helped too. In the crew world, I was the bottom of the totem pole. I knew the least amount of stuff, and so I was an intern that helped. And then just overall my life, I have what's called like the Detroit test. I'm from Detroit, and I got a lot of amazing friends there.

[00:53:32] And I always just wanted to be able to go home and relate to my community that I came up with. And so sometimes I'm sure no different for you. I'll get to a group of people where they're off the rails. And I'm off the rails. We're both off the rails. Look at this shit.

[00:53:58] We're talking about change the past, all this. We're off the rails in a good way, in a beautiful way. But I know I'm off the rails. You know what I'm saying? Sometimes I get in a community where everyone's off the rails, but they don't know it. That feels dangerous to me because these people, they can't pass their own Detroit test.

[00:54:19] They go home. Their feet aren't on the ground anymore. And so I always keep that in the back of my head. I always want to be able to go home. I'm an eccentric person. I'm a unique person, but I always want to be able to pass the Detroit test to go home and relate with my crew.

[00:54:43] Luke: So you, from the sounds of it, have, over the course of your career, developed humility hacks to keep yourself in check.

[00:54:53] Mike: Yeah, that's a good name for it.

[00:54:56] Luke: Keep a sense of reality about who you are, which is what I think humility is. It's like an acknowledgement of your gifts, and talents, and your greatness, but also knowing that in the broad sense, you're not special. We're all special. You're not special in the sense of having any superiority over any of the other special people. How did you even know to have that idea?

[00:55:21] Mike: I started to feel weaker. My experience of life started get worse. I would go to a hotel or something on my own, and if they didn't have something right, I'd be super pissed off. I'm like, wait a minute, bro. It's nice to increase your standard of living and have nice things only if you appreciate them with the mindset that you had 10 years ago.

[00:55:55] If your expectation of how things should be is rising in unison with your standards, with what you're able to procure for yourself, it's just going to cause you misery because you're going to need everything to be just right. I was getting used to everything being taken care of. And if it wasn't taken care of perfectly, I would be upset. I'd be like, who fucked this up? And sometimes no one fucked it. I was like, I fucked it up, and still-- yeah, it wasn't good.

[00:56:32] I recognized this is not the jam. This is heading in the wrong direction. But it leads to the walk across America because I thought like for years, I was bouncing around this paradigm of, I got to get my external circumstances just right. And if I do, everything will be right, everything will be perfect.

[00:56:58] I have to write one more hit song. I'd have this car, and I'm looking at my WHOOP stats, like, get this many hours of sleep. And if I just arrange all these things just perfectly and I make my life more and more comfortable where everything's lined up the way it's supposed to be, I'm going to feel ultimate peace.

[00:57:21] And it just became a spiral to nowhere. And even my spiritual practices got enveloped into that. Like, oh, I didn't meditate just right. Maybe I need to do one more retreat and that'll unlock the thing and then I'll have it. And it never worked. There was no magic combination.

[00:57:43] I was always tinkering. Oh, I'm going to change my diet this way and da da. And it was like, no. Maybe instead of trying to make your life more perfect and get the sequence right and more comfortable, I should do the exact opposite. I should try to make my life less comfortable. I should try to rid myself of all these things that make me feel good.

[00:58:07] And instead of trying to get a nicer house, I want to walk across the country and be outside all day, and have blisters, and sleep in tents and RVs, and make my life less comfortable. And I found a lot more freedom in doing that than trying to dial in the externalities just right.

[00:58:32] Luke: That's dope. Yeah.

[00:58:33] Mike: Then when I went back to a hotel or even just a house with air conditioning, I was like, this is dope, man. This is awesome.

[00:58:44] Luke: Yeah. That makes sense. It's like the understanding that that pressure on you as a piece of coal is going to make a diamond. But you see, the thing is, though, my brother, that you had to have some modicum of self-awareness throughout that process to have the awareness when you were becoming spoiled and you check into a five-star hipster boutique hotel on tour and you're like, wait, where's my filet mignon or whatever.

[00:59:13] Mike: I said medium rare, goddamn it.

[00:59:17] Luke: To even have the self-awareness to go, oh shit, I'm slipping a little here. I'm a kid from Detroit. I'm losing that grounding. So kudos to you for even having the self-awareness to reel yourself in and to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. I think vast majority of people that achieve some level of success in their art, they have to really hit a wall before they get knocked down a few pegs and develop that self-awareness. So professionally, in terms of the apparatus that grows around an artist, it sounds like you developed your humility hacks, as I'll just copyright them.

[01:00:04] Mike: Yeah, man. It's your second tweet, dude.

[01:00:06] Luke: Yeah, there you go.

[01:00:07] Mike: It's your second tweet. Let's go, bro.

[01:00:10] Luke: Let's go. Moonlighting as a roadie and stuff like that. What about in interpersonal relationships and friend groups and romantic relationships? How did you, or do you know when somebody is gravitating toward you and wanting to get closer to you because of the icon that they see versus the human being that I'm talking to right now? I don't give a fuck how many records you've sold or whatever. I either vibe with you or not that's where I'm in my life. I've been around a lot of famous people who were very unconscious and--

[01:00:43] Mike: Oh, come on, dude.

[01:00:44] Luke: And unattractive to me.

[01:00:44] Mike: You didn't think it was a little cool? I took pill in Ibiza.

[01:00:48] Luke: But you know what I'm saying?

[01:00:49] Mike: You didn't get a little chub from that?

[01:00:50] Luke: Little chub, little corn chub.

[01:00:53] Mike: Little half circumcised chub.

[01:00:55] Luke: But going back in my experience in the entertainment industry, I saw so many noteworthy people that really were just used by their inner circle of like, you see a guy. There's no way that woman would be with him if he wasn't famous, that kind of phenomenon.

[01:01:14] Mike: I reject this paradigm, though, respectfully. Because it's going back to our victim-victor thing. They all work for me.

[01:01:23] Luke: I'm not talking about work, though. I'm not talking about work. I'm talking about you're out at a restaurant, or bar, an event, and someone wants to be your friend or someone wants to date you.

[01:01:31] Mike: Same principle, though. They're only my friend if I choose to make them my friend. And so yeah, that's a narrative a lot. You hear of artists, the manager took advantage of-- hey, it's no different than any business man. You have to develop some ability to hire.

[01:02:00] Luke: Or befriend, or date, or whatever.

[01:02:02] Mike: Correct.

[01:02:02] Luke: So it's like inner, spidey sense discernment that is like, this person's motives are pure regardless of who they think I am.

[01:02:10] Mike: Sure. Like on the professional side, yeah, you got to learn how to interview. You got to learn how to-- yeah. And then mix that with your intuition that you feel, like you vibe or not. And so I'd like to think on the personal side, the same thing. And also, there's another narrative that really has not been my experience, which is that of the music industry has a stereotype that is just full of sharks and bad people. And it just hasn't been my experience.

[01:02:42] I have met some of the most beautiful people in the music industry, honest, high integrity, just some of the most influential people in my life. And some people I would even call like angels on Earth are in the music industry. So I think it's like any other part of life. You get what you put out.

[01:03:07] And are there some shifty characters? For sure, but there're shifty characters for everybody, even if you're not famous. Some guys or girls, they're really obvious. You're like out of a movie. Do you think I'm going to fall for this?

[01:03:28] There's some good ones, man. I've gotten tricked before, for sure. And there's some people that are high level with it, and that's humbling in its own right. Hey, man, your spidey sense, your intuition. There's some people that know how to push your buttons in the right way, and you fell for it. But it's never been that much of an issue for me, honestly.

[01:03:59] Luke: You're fortunate. And I'm glad to hear that.

[01:04:02] Mike: My friends are one of, if not the best part of me. I have the best friends in the world, man. I'm so blessed.

[01:04:13] Luke: When you were walking across the country, I'm curious about the actual logistics of that. When I imagine that, I imagine doing that without the infrastructure of all the freeways, towns, cities, etc., in between the eastern west coast. Like, cool, we're just out trekking like a pilgrim.

[01:04:36] When I think about doing that walk now, I'm like, are you walking on the side of the 10 freeway with like trucks zooming by you and then you go into the woods part of the time? How do you actually route that? And are you just like getting smoked by traffic and smog and shit on the side of the road the whole time? Or are there certain parts where you go through federal land, like national parks and stuff like that?

[01:05:03] Mike: Yeah. Well, the way you described it in the second scenario is actually quite close. Walking on interstates is illegal. But most of the time you're on the side of the road. Now, I knew this going in. There's some beautiful trails in America.

[01:05:20] I might do some of them. The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, all those trails run north to south, and they're trails. Walking across America's different, not on a trail most of the time. You're mostly on the side of a state highway. And it's dangerous. The most dangerous thing is the cars. Apparently, you should look out for the snakes too, but the cars--

[01:05:49] Luke: Were you on a trail when you got the snake bite?

[01:05:51] Mike: No, no. I was on the side of a road, Colorado 10 in between Wallenberg and La Junta.

[01:06:00] Luke: Huh.

[01:06:01] Mike: And it's actually called Rattlesnake Butte.

[01:06:03] Luke: Really?

[01:06:03] Mike: There's a lot of snakes there. Yeah.

[01:06:06] Luke: I'm sorry to digress here. When the snake bit you, did you accidentally step on it or was it just next to your path?

[01:06:14] Mike: I think I may have. I was on a break. I remember that day. I think it was August 8th, I want to say. It was a hot day, really hot day. I had done 16. Eight more to go and I was just ending the break, man. I never saw the snake. I just felt it bite me and then it rattled after.

[01:06:39] Luke: Oh, wow.

[01:06:40] Mike: And I thought, man, couldn't you have reversed those? If you would've rattled, I would have--

[01:06:44] Luke: I thought nature designed this to keep us both out of harm's way.

[01:06:49] Mike: So to answer your question, man, I must have either stepped on it. I definitely surprised it and scared it because it probably didn't see me. And yeah, I never saw it. I just felt it.

[01:07:02] Luke: Well, this is the thing about potentially dangerous animals in the wild that I've observed. There's the city kid part of me that thinks they're coming after me and they want to attack me, a bear, a snake, whatever, mountain lion. My dad lived in Colorado his whole life in the mountains hunting and fishing and stuff.

[01:07:21] And I've talked to him about this, and I didn't grow up with him, visited and stuff, but I've asked him, because he would go out and pack in Colorado in the woods and go hunting and he'd be out there by himself for two weeks with a mule or whatever, and a firearm. I go, weren't you scared of bears and mountain lions like getting you in your tent? And he's like, what? Doesn't even compute. He's like, dude, they're so scared of you.

[01:07:44] It's hard to hunt them. They're not hunting you. And he said the same thing about rattlesnakes. He's like, rattlesnakes aren't coming on the trail to try to bite you. As soon as they fill your vibrations, they're out of there. You can't even get near them. So I'm always thinking, the more sane part of me that doesn't want to be afraid of my natural environment is like, I don't need to worry about it because they're trying to get away from me more so than they're trying to get to me.

[01:08:09] Mike: Yeah. He's right.

[01:08:10] Luke: So when something like that happens to someone, like with your bite, I'm like, why didn't the snake just try to get away from you? So you really must have surprised the shit out of it.

[01:08:19] Mike: Yeah. The only two ways to get bit by a rattlesnake are to surprise it, like I did, or to be like fucking with it, teasing it, trying to poke it, or messing with it.

[01:08:32] Luke: Or doing faith healings with it in a--

[01:08:36] Mike: Yeah. Coaxing it out Palo Santo. Come to me.

[01:08:42] Luke: Totally.

[01:08:43] Mike: Ayahuasca ceremony gone wrong, part one.

[01:08:46] Luke: Exactly.

[01:08:46] Mike: New podcast idea, dude.

[01:08:49] Luke: It's interesting that you referred to that.

[01:08:52] Mike: It was then when he tried to add rattlesnakes to all of his ceremonies.

[01:08:57] Luke: Well, it's interesting that you describe that experience as medicine. And one of the little-- what do they call that? Not cymatics. What's the words? Is it sematics when you use words different ways? But people always refer to--

[01:09:14] Mike: Semantics.

[01:09:14] Luke: Semantics. Thank you. I always get cymatics when you vibrate something that makes a pattern. I always get it confused with semantics, but people--

[01:09:22] Mike: I got to learn more about cymatics, dude. Let's talk about those instead.

[01:09:27] Luke: Wild.

[01:09:28] Mike: That sounds way more interesting than semantics.

[01:09:30] Luke: I could send you some videos.

[01:09:32] Mike: All right.

[01:09:33] Luke: But people give blanket terms for plant medicines, but they always omit the Bufo alvarius toad medicine that's not a plant. And then they loop in fungal medicines like psilocybin mushrooms.

[01:09:48] Mike: So mushrooms aren't really plants, right?

[01:09:50] Luke: I know. That's the thing.

[01:09:51] Mike: That's what I was asking.

[01:09:52] Luke: Yeah.

[01:09:53] Mike: They're not.

[01:09:53] Luke: They're not.

[01:09:53] Mike: They're fungus.

[01:09:54] Luke: They're their own kingdom.

[01:09:56] Mike: Wow. Plant, animal, fungus.

[01:09:59] Luke: Fungi. Their own kingdom.

[01:10:01] Mike: Where's bacteria?

[01:10:03] Luke: I don't know. That's a good question. Yeah. I don't know. Good question.

[01:10:09] Mike: Are the avion part of the animal kingdom?

[01:10:12] Luke: I don't know.

[01:10:14] Mike: What about fish?

[01:10:15] Luke: It's all things we need to learn. But my point--

[01:10:18] Mike: There's a psychedelic fish out there?

[01:10:20] Luke: Is it really?

[01:10:20] Mike: No, I'm asking. How much do you think--

[01:10:22] Luke: Oh, maybe if you microdose the poison of the puffer fish.

[01:10:26] Mike: I think there's one out there. You got to go deep.

[01:10:27] Luke: My point is that you referred to the rattlesnake bite as medicine because of the psychological and metaphysical lessons that you derive from that experience. But it's interesting how some animals that could be otherwise dangerous, like the combo frog for example, there are poisonous animals that literally produce medicine.

[01:10:51] Mike: Yeah, in the right amount.

[01:10:52] Luke: Yeah. It's wild. It's wild. Anyway, back to your trek.

[01:10:58] Mike: You sure you want to go back to my trek?

[01:11:01] Luke: Just for a second.

[01:11:01] Mike: I thought maybe you want to go deeper into psychedelic fish.

[01:11:04] Luke: I want to go there too.

[01:11:06] Mike: I'm touched you want to go deep.

[01:11:07] Luke: But I am curious about the trek in the sense of, I don't know, just the way my brain works, I want to understand how everything works on a detailed level. So when you're on that trek, I'm assuming you have someone maybe driving ahead of you and sussing out your hotel. Is there someone minding you, or are you just out there on your own with a bagpack?

[01:11:29] Mike: Yeah, that's a great distinction. You can do either, and so the word we use is either supported, semantics, supported or unsupported. If you're out there with a backpack or a cart, that's a unsupported trek. I walked supported, so I had one person with me. It was actually two people, and they took turns. And we had a giant RV we called Larry. And when I say that, people get this image in their head of like, they're driving next to me and handing me towels.

[01:12:04] It's not like that. They go ahead of me, and yeah, they scout. You do the route. And mostly what they're doing is getting food because I'm eating a fuck ton of food every day, and they are finding a place for us to sleep. And so at the end of the day, they go ahead, and I walk. And so when I'm walking, I'm not with the RV. I'm not with the other guy ever.

[01:12:33] I'm only with them when I'm not walking. I catch up to them, and they feed me, and I touch some sign, or a fire hydrant, and they might drive me to a place where they found we can sleep. And most of the time we sleep in the RV. The only times we don't is when we get to the cool parts, which is like Mojave Desert, the Rocky Mountains.

[01:13:04] Then we sleep in a tent. And we almost never sleep in a hotel. And yeah, that's how we ran it. Those guys were incredible, Julian and Colin. They took turns, and one would come for a month, the other would rest. They'd come back and forth. And they made it so I had to walk, and they took care of pretty much everything else.

[01:13:30] Luke: What did it feel like when you reached the West Coast? Did you land in Santa Monica, or Venice, or something--

[01:13:36] Mike: Yeah. First of all, I regretted picking to end there because as you--

[01:13:41] Luke: You had to walk through a homeless encampment?

[01:13:43] Mike: I did. Yeah. Literally, literally. And it wasn't the homeless, it was just the whole urban, going back to urban. This was the distinction that you mentioned it with your childhood, and there's teen and your father. I was the same. I grew up and lived my entire life, before this, either in a city or the suburb of a city, 31 years.

[01:14:13] When I walked across America, I walked across three cities. They each took me a day respectively. So the walk was, I think, 187 days, something like that, six months and three days. Only three of the days were in cities. Cities are small mileage wise. Walk across them one day. The rest of the time, six months was in those spaces in between the cities.

[01:14:43] Luke: Interesting. You just blew the whole overpopulation myth out of the water.

[01:14:48] Mike: Oh, dude.

[01:14:48] Luke: You see this when you fly over the US.

[01:14:50] Mike: America is wide open.

[01:14:52] Luke: You're like, there's actually very few people here on this continent.

[01:14:56] Mike: Yeah.

[01:14:57] Luke: Everyone's just concentrated in cities.

[01:14:58] Mike: Congregated in these little epicenters that are cities. And so for me, that was eye-opening in so many different ways. It changed how I saw space first of all. And also culturally, the people that didn't live in the cities, they lived very differently. We talked about time earlier. The timeline their lives were on was very different. At first it surprised me, but a month or two in, if I met a 24-year-old, I didn't have to ask if they were married or not.

[01:15:34] They were married and had a kid. Me and my friends were in the dark 30s, still doing the freedom thing and all that. That's very normal in the city, not there. And so that was very eye-opening in a lot of ways. And it was beautiful in a lot of ways. I went East to West.

[01:15:59] As you go West, the spaces open up more, things get bigger. And so I walked across Navajo Nation, walked across the Mojave desert. It's beautiful. And then when I got to LA, I was like, man, why did I choose to end here? Not because of anything particular against LA but just it was just a city man, and it smells bad.

[01:16:23] Every city smells bad compared to being in nature. And I was like, man, if I could go back, I probably wouldn't have picked to end here. But in some ways, it was perfect and beautiful because my community was there, people I met while I lived there.

[01:16:43] Luke: What did it feel like to get in the water after trekking across the desert and the mountains?

[01:16:49] Mike: It felt like the first day of my life.

[01:16:51] Luke: It must have been like a baptism.

[01:16:54] Mike: Yeah. It felt like it was this moment I'd been dreaming about for a year. And you think about it like almost obsessively as you're going, this moment of ending of getting there, and it hurts. Walking hurts bad.

[01:17:15] Luke: That's a lot of miles, bro.

[01:17:16] Mike: Yeah.

[01:17:17] Luke: I around, walk around here in the neighborhood. I may be walk a mile on a good day, and I'm like, oh, that's enough.

[01:17:23] Mike: It's not sore muscles. It's not like that. It feels like you may be doing some damage to your body that's going to be permanent. It's not clear. It's hard to stand up in the morning, got blisters sometimes like volcanoes. And I just remember the pain in my heels was just insane.

[01:17:58] We talk about that vision of the future, what kept you going. I just thought about that moment so much, and then to actually be there. That final day, I took a vow of silence until I went into the water. So sounds dramatic, but I chose not to speak that day until I went in the water, because I knew people were going to ask me that question.

[01:18:27] How do you feel? It's the last day. I didn't know yet. I just wanted to feel what I was feeling. And we set it up. So we had a little ceremony, and there's about 30 people there, loved ones, and they were in a row parallel to the shore of the beach. So they were standing shoulder to shoulder in front of me, between me and the water.

[01:18:57] I knew the order they were going to be in, and I had a note to each of them that I'd written in my backpack. And I got my friend Adam first, and I handed him the note, and they just said what they needed to say to me. Next was Chad, whom I talked to so much on the phone. And he, more than anyone, knew what I was experiencing.

[01:19:23] And I talked to him on the hard days. And when I looked him in the face, I wept. And I went down the line. My friend Richard slapped me in the face. He's like, you're a crazy motherfucker. My friend, Tini, had had a baby since I left and she handed me the baby and I hugged the baby. And there were all these totems that people had given me along the way, pictures of their father's, picture like a coin commemorating a soldier that had died.

[01:20:02] Luke had given me a patch from his uniform in the army. And so I had this obnoxious, reflective vest that was just full of reminders of who I was walking for, what I was walking for, that wasn't just me. Guitar-picked, this one young woman had given me of her dad that died. I want you to keep this.

[01:20:32] And I went down the line and I opened up that vest, and I just remembered each person, man. I thanked him. In my backpack, I had my father's old bathing suit that somehow I have. And my dad died two years before I started the journey, and I put his bathing suit on. I looked in the sky, and I put four fingers up for me, my sister, my mom, my dad, and I just sprinted in that water. And I said it earlier, it didn't feel like an end. It felt like the beginning.

[01:21:33] Luke: Wow. What a powerful rite of passage. A voluntary, intentional rite of passage, rather than being bit by a snake or any of the other things that haphazardly take place in our lives that we can transmute into their own rite of passage, but they happened to us, and then we can hopefully discover they happened for us. But you did something to yourself and for yourself simultaneously. Sounds like a really powerful initiation.

[01:22:05] Mike: Yeah. I knew I needed it.

[01:22:07] Luke: Yeah.

[01:22:07] Mike: I knew I needed it. And we, I think, lacked those kind of rites of passages, especially for our men, young boys becoming men. It's interesting in the Bible, there's no teenagers. It's boys and men.

[01:22:30] Luke: Oh, wow.

[01:22:31] Mike: Yeah.

[01:22:31] Luke: That's a trip. I never thought about that.

[01:22:35] Mike: And so in a lot of ways, before I did the walk, I felt like a boy in a man's body. It's hard. Yeah, I manufactured this rite of passage for myself. And I knew that rite of passage couldn't be an easy thing. It had to be a hard thing for me.

[01:22:55] Luke: Approximately how many songs do you reckon you've written?

[01:22:59] Mike: Thousands.

[01:23:00] Luke: Really?

[01:23:00] Mike: Yeah, for sure. Since I was a kid. Started when I was eight.

[01:23:03] Luke: Wow.

[01:23:03] Mike: I'm almost 36, so getting close to--

[01:23:08] Luke: Where do they come from?

[01:23:10] Mike: They come from God. Yeah, they come from God.

[01:23:13] Luke: When did you discover that they weren't originating from you and your ego? Because a lot of artists miss, right?

[01:23:22] Mike: Yeah. Well, I think I started to ponder it in my late 20s in conjunction with me starting my spiritual journey, my sadhana, and it really just became more concrete in the last couple of years. I started exploring in the late 20s of, well, where do the ideas actually come from?

[01:23:44] Do I get credit for an idea that pops up in my head? I'm not doing that. It's not voluntary. I wish it was more voluntary. I can create the space for it to happen and clear my channel. I can, yeah, keep my connection clean, but I'm not actually putting and manufacturing the melody or the lyric that shows up in. It's showing up to me.

[01:24:15] The same question you just asked me, I started to ask myself a few years ago. And I could describe the sensation, experience. It's not as mystical as one might think. I think most people have had the experience of a song popping up in their head, like someone else's song. Like, oh, I can't get this song out of my head. It's in their head. Song comes up. It's very similar to that, except I just have never heard the song before and no one's ever heard the song before.

[01:24:51] It's like, that's an idea. That's a piece of inspiration. And then, yeah, you do have to put some elbow grease into it. They're like, okay, that's like part of a-- or it's a melody, or it's something, and then I have to develop it. And sometimes that takes discipline, and intention, and persistence at times for sure. But yeah, man, that's been my journey.

[01:25:25] Luke: What do you do to intentionally open that channel of inspiration? Do you have a ritual where you take a certain time each day and you're sitting down to write music? Or is it just when you're in the process of hanging out and living your life, you just get a moment of inspiration, you seize the moment, open up the channel right then? How much structure goes into the creative process for you in the initial phase of just birthing a rough idea?

[01:25:56] Mike: Yeah. For me, it goes in chapters or seasons. So if I'm making an album, then, yeah, I have time structured in the day. I'll have studio sessions booked with different creators, and we might write something together, and that's like time there in the schedule. I do pay attention to the times of day. I like that moment in the mornings, before I've eaten. Maybe I've meditated, maybe I've worked out, maybe I haven't, but that's a special time to me.

[01:26:31] But also sometimes they come outside of the structured time, and I think it's really important to listen. So when I have an idea, I'm pretty disciplined about at least making a little voice recording of that melody I'm hearing in my head or writing down that idea. Doesn't mean you have to finish it right then, but should write it down because it'll go away.

[01:27:03] Luke: It's like when you wake up and you've had a really fantastic dream, and if you don't take a moment to recall it or record it some way, then by the time you get in the shower, it's gone.

[01:27:15] Mike: It's just like that.

[01:27:16] Luke: I had some wild ass dreams. I know. Maybe in the early morning before I woke up today, I woke up and I was like, oh my God, this means something. And now I can't tell you one iota of what those dreams were because I had no motivation to really record them other than wow, that shit was wild. And then got up and just, poof, they're gone.

[01:27:37] Mike: And also sometimes they're so powerful that you think, there's no way I'll forget this.

[01:27:42] Luke: Yeah, totally.

[01:27:44] Mike: And then you do.

[01:27:45] Luke: Totally. How do you know when some piece of art comes through-- you do document the rough idea? How do you determine if it's worth refining and editing and then potentially sharing with the world?

[01:28:03] Mike: It's all intuition based. It's all intuition based. Every step of the process is heart intuition based. Is this the right snare drummer? That one. Which one feels right? That's the right one. Is this the right lyric here, or could I beat it? Should I try this word? You just know when it's right and you know when it's not right. So I think part of the main part of, I think, being a great artist is not convincing yourself something is done and or right before it is.

[01:28:47] Luke: Sorry to interrupt. Have you ever had a complete song channel in in its entirety and it's a done thing, lyrics, musical?

[01:28:58] Mike: No, not instantaneously.

[01:28:59] Luke: I think that's wild. You hear that sometimes, an artist that writes an iconic song and they're like, yeah, I just sit down with the piano or the guitar and the lyrics, the melody, the arrangement, everything was just, poof, done.

[01:29:11] Mike: Yeah.

[01:29:11] Luke: Jeff Tweedy has written a few songs like that. It's crazy.

[01:29:14] Mike: I had songs where I'm writing and it all comes out in one boom like that. But it's not in an instant. Or I have songs I could pick up your guitar now and write a song right now as I'm singing it. So I could do that, but it might not be good. It might not make in album.

[01:29:41] Luke: Right.

[01:29:42] Mike: So yeah, they come in different ways. And to me, it doesn't matter how they show up. Matters how they end up. They're going to be great. They're going to be great.

[01:29:54] Luke: Are there any artists--

[01:29:55] Mike: Rather have one great song than 1,000 good ones.

[01:29:58] Luke: Yeah. Are there any artists alive in the world right now that you aspire to work with in a--

[01:30:06] Mike: What? Yeah, man.

[01:30:07] Luke: Co-writing or production context?

[01:30:10] Mike: There are so many.

[01:30:11] Luke: Name me a couple that are on your absolute dream list.

[01:30:16] Mike: I wanted to work with Paul Simon. Dude, there's so many great-- Fred Again, right now, I'm really into. I'm trying to think who else I've been listening to lately. I've been listening to a lot of EDM lately. That makes me inspired and gives me energy. Martin Garrix. Yeah, man, there's so many. The world is just filled with amazing artists, dude. And there's more. There's more than ever because of the technology.

[01:30:46] Luke: I know. That's one thing that's been interesting to observe is the way artists collaborate in the era of internet, especially during the COVID stuff, when people couldn't tour, go to studios, and all this. Cats are writing and recording albums living in different countries, sending files back and forth.

[01:31:07] It's so interesting. Someone can just send you a drum track, you lay guitar, and you send it somewhere else. They put saxophone, background vocals over here. Next thing you know, you send it off to mastery and no one was even in the same room ever.

[01:31:18] Mike: Yeah.

[01:31:18] Luke: It's trippy. It's cool. I'm an old-school, analog music fan and sometimes player, so I really like the live experience of people in a room together. But it's interesting.

[01:31:31] Mike: You can't emulate that.

[01:31:33] Luke: Yeah. When you go into a studio, if you have your preference, how much of the ensemble is taking place live? Some of your stuff I'm assuming is like program drums, but if you're working with a live drummer, electric bass player, etc., do you like to record the base basic tracks live if you can?

[01:31:54] Mike: It doesn't matter what I like. It matters what the piece calls for.

[01:31:59] Luke: Okay.

[01:31:59] Mike: So I'll write a song and I have to go down a rabbit hole of getting that recording to be as great as I think the song is. And sometimes I have to try different ways. So sometimes that means just me at my computer making a beat in my keyboards, and it's just me and I produce the whole thing. And then sometimes that means like-- I have a song called Buried in Detroit. It is my father's favorite song, my mom's favorite song, of mine as well. It's beautiful. It's got a full orchestra on it.

[01:32:33] So it just depends on the piece. If I am recording with a band, let's say a more traditional rock style band where there's drums, bass keys, guitar, we like to do it, yeah, pretty live. I don't do that a ton, but when we do it, I like to get a great engineer, shiftman. And then, yeah, we'll have the drums.

[01:32:59] We just have the room set up, and it's like the same room Rage recorded in. That's what I go off, the drum sound. I like the way the drums sound on the first Rage Against the Machine album. So pick that room, that engineer, those mics, and it's pretty darn live. The vocals are after usually. Yeah.

[01:33:17] Luke: Cool, cool.

[01:33:17] Mike: And great players make your job easy, dude.

[01:33:20] Luke: Yeah, yeah. Especially the drummer, man. I think people don't realize how integral a solid drummer is. I think really, in terms of--

[01:33:32] Mike: Who's your favorite drummer?

[01:33:34] Luke: Oh man. All-time favorite drummer, probably Charlie Watts from The Stones, who as far as like, drummers, drummers, your average rock person's going to be like, John Bonum or Keith Moon.

[01:33:47] Mike: That's what I was going to say.

[01:33:49] Luke: And there's a lot to be said for that.

[01:33:50] Mike: Don't despise us Bonums over here.

[01:33:55] Luke: I don't. I appreciate that. My friend Elliot, shout out Elliot, who's not a professional musician, but he can play drums and he can sit down with headphones on his electric drum set and play John Bonum shit. And I'm just like, what? How does a human even do that? The reason I think I called out, and there's a zillion, but Charlie Watts, a, I'm just like a huge Stones fan. But to me, what makes a drummer more so than technical ability is the feel. It's the backbeat.

[01:34:26] It's the thing that makes you go like that. For those not on video, bopping your head. It's like when it's irresistible. I'd also add any and all drummers from '70s era, James Brown Band. That shit, funk, RnB, especially during the '70s, that's like my peak. Soul, RnB, funk, that era, that kind of drumming, that's the shit that moves me. because again, it's simple.

[01:34:59] Back in the day, when I was a bass player, I bought the CD set of how to play James Brown bass lines. And it was super cool because this is pre-pro tools and stuff, but they rerecorded all these classic James Brown tracks and isolated the two guitars, the bass, and the drums. So you could just listen to the drum track. And you listen to the drum track and you're like, what? Boom ta ta ta, boom ta. You're like, I can play that shit.

[01:35:27] But then you throw the bass line on and you're like, oh, this is bumping now. And then you add one rhythm guitar that's barely playing anything. It's very minimalist, just isolated. Doesn't sound like shit. But you throw that in on top of the drums, in the bass, and you're like, this slaps now. So I think funk drumming is probably my favorite, but I can't pick out maybe the guy from the meters or different things like that. But if I could wave a magic wand and play anything, it would be to be a monster funk drummer. Because it makes me feel so good, it must feel so good to be able to play that one.

[01:36:10] Mike: I got to work with Steve Jordan once.

[01:36:14] Luke: Yeah. He is in the Stones now.

[01:36:16] Mike: I didn't know that.

[01:36:17] Luke: Yeah. He took Charlie Watts plays because he--

[01:36:19] Mike: That's crazy.

[01:36:19] Luke: He's played with Keith Richards for a long time.

[01:36:21] Mike: I didn't know that.

[01:36:21] Luke: Keith's two solo albums. Yeah.

[01:36:23] Mike: I knew he was close with Keith.

[01:36:24] Luke: He's a fucking human metronome. That guy's meter isn't-- it doesn't even sound like real drums the most. He's in the pocket. What was it like to play with--

[01:36:35] Mike: Play with Steve, it was interest. I asked him to produce some songs for me. So he put together a band and he was producing as well as playing on stuff. And we ended up not using it. We didn't quite nail it, but the experience was just out of control. The guys, first of all, the band he brought in, as you would imagine, was nuts. But the way he could talk with the drums, I also felt like severely out of place.

[01:37:06] It's my song, so I'm playing my very simple like piano lines with these world-class players, and I'm laying a scratch vocal that I'll overdub after. But he could play a certain fill that everyone knew the song's over now, or he could play a certain fill that everyone knew we're going to the bridge now. He could direct the band with his fills.

[01:37:32] Luke: Wow.

[01:37:33] Mike: And it was so primal. I knew, and I'm not like the same kind of level musician as these guys. I knew exactly like, yeah, end of the song.

[01:37:46] Luke: Wow. That's cool.

[01:37:48] Mike: It was something.

[01:37:49] Luke: That's cool. What a blessing.

[01:37:53] Mike: If you were a snare drum, what kind of snare drum would you be?

[01:37:56] Luke: Oh, man. I like a snare sound that almost sounds like-- you know when you take the chains off a snare drum and you make that reggae snare, like a timpani? I forget what it's called. I like snare with very little snare.

[01:38:15] Mike: Interesting.

[01:38:16] Luke: A bongo drum sound would be the extreme of like--

[01:38:20] Mike: That's so right.

[01:38:20] Luke: That's the kind of snare sound I like. It's one of the reasons I really despise '80s music when they started blowing out, all effects on the snares.

[01:38:29] Mike: Yeah, the cannon shot.

[01:38:30] Luke: I can't stand that sound.

[01:38:32] Mike: I love it. I'm not lying, dude.

[01:38:33] Luke: I can't stand that. I hate that. When I was a teenager and I was a little metalhead and shit, I loved it, but now I'll listen to something from the '80s, I go, God, if you guys would just remix this and take all the effects off the drums, it would smoke. But it's like-- you know that shit?

[01:38:50] Mike: Yeah.

[01:38:50] Luke: I can't stand it. So I think generally, in music, the way I roll, now as I get older too, it's like I'm that guy now that's like, ah, turn that racket down. I see why my parents hated loud music when I was a teenager. But most music I tend to gravitate toward is the most organic sound, less so than anything that's electronically manipulated or derived.

[01:39:15] And not to say that electronic music is any less valid because it still takes someone's creativity to create those sounds and put them together. But yeah, I just sit around listening to mantras and shamanic music, Icaros. I like music that just has a lot of spirit to it.

[01:39:33] Anyway, couple more things I wanted to ask you, which were-- I think I'm enjoying talking about music because it's such a passion of mine, and I don't think I've ever interviewed a musician before. And forgive me if I have.

[01:39:48] Mike: Doyle.

[01:39:49] Luke: Yeah. Where's my friend, Doyle? I've been trying to get his ass on here for a while. But the last thread I want to go on with you here, what role has psychedelics played in your understanding? You're obviously a very deep guy. It sounds like some of this just inherent to your nature. Have you had transformative experiences in that realm that have shaped who you are in your music and in your individual expression?

[01:40:17] Mike: Yeah, I've had some beautiful experiences. I've had some really challenging experiences with psychedelics as well. I think they've been helpful in expanding modes of consciousness, or opening up modes or states of consciousness that I hadn't been to before.

[01:40:43] And then I found once you've gone there once, the firing happens once in the brain. You actually can go back there or experience some version of that same state without using them, which is cool. So definitely, from my vantage point now, when I think of psychedelics, I think of them in that way. And they also become a metric of how I'll measure other experiences.

[01:41:17] I remember the first thing I said when I got off the last repel off of Mount Everest and got off the rope. I was like, man. I was like, that was way more powerful than ayahuasca. So I sometimes reference them in that way for other experiences that are also transformative. And they're like a rubric that I use at times. Presently, they're not my main mode of growth.

[01:41:50] I'll use maybe anywhere from a few to zero times per year, depending on what was called for. My main mode of growth recently has been pain, just looking at where it hurts, and going, okay, what's the lesson there? But yeah, man, that's been my journey.

[01:42:08] Luke: What's your meditation and breath practice look like? Speaking of ways to get to know without putting anything in your body.

[01:42:14] Mike: I've been a meditator for, gosh, maybe it's 10 years plus now. I've been doing mainly TM, although I've done like a vipassana retreat and sometimes I'll mix in other stuff. So I typically have 20 minutes twice a day blocked out. Now, you also mentioned breath work.

[01:42:33] A few years ago, I got to study under Wim Hof and I got really excited about that practice because it's awesome. And I studied and became a Wim Hof method instructor. So I teach cold immersion, and I teach breathwork. Sometimes professional sports teams will bring me in, not to sing, to talk to them, and I'll lead a ceremony, a session, and yeah, it's amazing.

[01:42:59] Luke: Just to interrupt you for one sec, isn't it beautiful with the cold immersion, to see someone reach the point of surrender and to see someone get better? The first time is beautiful, but to see someone master their nervous system and learn how to just let go into that surrender, it's such a beautiful moment when someone gets into cold bath and they're like, and whether you assist them or they just figure it out, to see that moment when it clicks and they go, ah, I'm safe. I'm safe. I love that moment.

[01:43:40] For myself too, that's my goal when I go in the ice bath in the backyard. People are like, how long you staying? And there was this period where I was like, I was sitting there for 20 minutes, and I'm bragging about it on social media. I think many of us go through those phases of broadcasting our bad assery with the cold.

[01:43:59] It's embarrassing now to think about it, but at least I'm aware, and I stopped doing that shit. But my friend texted me the other day. He said, man, I just got an ice bath. So excited. I was like, right on bro. It's going to change your life. And he said, how long do you go in. First, I fuck with him, and I was like, usually 45 minutes to an hour.

[01:44:14] He's like, whoa, I could barely do two minutes. And I said, no, I don't even time it. I 've been doing this for, I don't know, 15 years or something. But for me, it's not about the time. It's about how fast can I surrender.

[01:44:30] Mike: Yeah, that's good.

[01:44:30] Luke: And as soon as I'm totally calm and relaxed, then I get out.

[01:44:34] Mike: Yeah. That's beautiful.

[01:44:36] Luke: Yeah, so anyway, I didn't mean to steal your thunder there.

[01:44:39] Mike: No, it's beautiful.

[01:44:40] Luke: Continue on. So you're going and--

[01:44:41] Mike: My daily practice. Yeah. so yeah, I got these two 20-minute slots. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. And so I might choose one day to do breath work instead in that slot. And I'm obsessed with the ice bath. Wim always says it never stops being cold. But you do gain I guess more proficiency in it. You can access that calm, drop into that calm quicker as you said.

[01:45:15] Luke: Do you find with that ability to calm your nervous system and self-regulate that you're developing through the cold exposure, have you found that that bleeds out into your life and you get a ticket, or a check bounces, or some shit happens that would be triggering to your nervous system and put you in a sympathetic state? Do you find it transfers over where you're able to self-regulate out in the world faster because of the self-regulation training of the cold?

[01:45:48] Mike: I think so, man. Like you, I'm doing a lot of shit at the same time, so I don't really have my variables controlled for, so I think so. But what keeps me going back to the ice bath is just how I feel afterwards. I feel energized. I feel alive. I feel happier. And so it's the mood enhancement for me that keeps me going back in that water. And yeah, if you gave me a parking ticket right after I got out of the ice bath, I wouldn't give a fuck. But yeah. Yes.

[01:46:24] Luke: I think the cold, dude, is the ultimate antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicine on the planet, honestly. Anytime I feel weird, I get in there, I get out, jump on the rebounder for a few minutes, I'm a totally different person.

[01:46:43] Mike: Yeah. It's almost scary how good it worked. It feels like you should have had to work harder to chase that dude off.

[01:46:48] Luke: It's a hack.

[01:46:50] Mike: It really is.

[01:46:51] Luke: Dude, that and, for me, microdosing psilocybin or LSD depending on the day. The combination of those two, it's pretty hard for me to get in a bad mood.

[01:47:04] Mike: I was doing the microdosing psilocybin. I found sometimes my heart would start beating like all hell.

[01:47:11] Luke: Get a little amped.

[01:47:12] Mike: Yeah. And I didn't like that.

[01:47:14] Luke: Yeah.

[01:47:15] Mike: Never happened to you?

[01:47:16] Luke: When I've pushed the dose a bit.

[01:47:20] Mike: Maybe it was too much of a microdose.

[01:47:21] Luke: Yeah.

[01:47:22] Mike: Maybe not quite a microdose.

[01:47:23] Luke: I've definitely had that happen, but I'm very measured about it most of the time where it's imperceptual, which is the definition of a microdose, is that you can't feel it. And I think that's the thing that--

[01:47:38] Mike: So I was doing too much.

[01:47:39] Luke: Maybe. Different people have different levels of sensitivity.

[01:47:43] Mike: It was weird with same dosage, though, and I think I was doing either 0.1, maybe 0.2. And some days I wouldn't feel it at all, and then some days I would be like--

[01:47:56] Luke: It can be a bit stimulating. I've also noticed that I do better not drinking coffee or having any caffeine if I'm microdosing, if I microdose some mushrooms or some or something.

[01:48:09] Mike: Yeah, you don't want to mix those.

[01:48:10] Luke: Yeah.

[01:48:10] Mike: You've got one, dude. Don't be greedy.

[01:48:10] Luke: Yeah. If I top it with caffeine, it's got to be on a day where I really want to be amplified. If I'm just chilling, getting worked done on the computer, doing a podcast, I don't want to be that jacked up. So I'm definitely with you there. But I think some people that start getting into the microdosing because it's like the thing to do and they don't feel it, then they start upping the dose and then what you feel is actually not that comfortable. The other day I coined a term the in-betweenies.

[01:48:44] Mike: I hate the in-betweenies.

[01:48:45] Luke: Yeah, I eat some mushrooms the other night in a ceremonial way here in the house. It's all the story, but anyway, a certain kind of mushroom, and I got the in-betweenies. I wasn't tripping, I wasn't having visuals, and it definitely wasn't a microdose. So I was stuck with myself. I was ready. I intended to go to a deeper place. Put on a playlist, eye mask, have a moment without the full, full send, and I got in the in-betweenies, and I just felt actually just quite uncomfortable.

[01:49:23] It was a good lesson for me, and this is for everyone, but it's either sub-perceptual, true microdose, or it's the full hero, like, I'm going out for a few hours, and I'm going to get some work done. Yeah.

[01:49:35] Mike: See you later. Bye-bye.

[01:49:37] Luke: So you got some past experience with the psychedelics, which sounds like they've been advantageous, but not part of your ongoing routine, breathwork.

[01:49:45] Mike: Been challenging.

[01:49:46] Luke: How have they been challenging? Do you have things come up that were uncomfortable to face?

[01:49:52] Mike: Dude, that's an understatement. It was the worst days of my life, probably, man.

[01:49:56] Luke: I'm trying to stay there.

[01:49:57] Mike: Yeah, man. But that was my experience, and I think I'm someone who if you knew me, knew that that would be a possibility for me. I have other friends where I'm like, this guy will never have a bad trip. It's because they're wired that way. So yeah, man. I had some challenging ones where I was like, damn, dude.

[01:50:24] Luke: Yeah. I think everyone that's explored those realms has had that experience.

[01:50:28] Mike: You think?

[01:50:29] Luke: I think so. There's been crunchy moments in those realms, but through the breath, I've been able to surrender through them. And also, I very rarely have been unsupervised or unguided. So it's like I know there's another human being there that's still in the earthly realm that is my airbag.

[01:50:56] If I start really tripping, I'd be like, hey, man, am I okay? Give me some love. Put your hand on my chest, make me breathe. Do something. I've never had to ask for the help, but just knowing they're there. Am I still alive? Am I okay? Having a babysitter, a trip sitter, or shaman, or whatever's been helpful.

[01:51:12] I've had crunchy moments, but I only had one time where I really resisted and I really tried to make it stop. I was like, I'm fucking done. This is too much. And I sat up and tried to make it stop and the room was spinning. It was on 5-MeO-DMT, and did a podcast about it a couple of years ago with my friend Aubrey. And the podcast was basically the integration of this experience.

[01:51:36] But that's the only time I had what would classically be called a true ego death in a bad trip, where I was like, I do not like this. I want it to stop. I want out. Yeah. And I really pushed against it, and the more I resisted, the more it hammered me. And it was rough. But then a few minutes went by and I had some help. Actually, that's one time I did get help to just bring me back, and then I had a beautiful remaining 20 minutes or whatever. But yeah, it was fucking terrifying. So I talk a lot about these medicines on the show, and I always say, a, they're not for everyone. B, they're not for everyone at all times.

[01:52:12] Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[01:52:13] Luke: And there are certainly people out there that have no business even playing around with it because it can be psychologically and physically dangerous, literally. So it's not my take lightly, but I also have to be honest in that part of why I am the person I am today is because of the help that I've from those medicines, especially in recovery and sobriety, things I could not heal without the assistance of those teachers, just deep-seated hurt that I just couldn't get to.

[01:52:50] Well, you know what I'd really love, brother? I'd love for the first time, officially on the Life Stylist Podcast, for a talented, beautiful soul of a musician to play us a song. How do you feel about that?

[01:53:01] Mike: Let's do it. Let's do it.

[01:53:02] Luke: Excellent. Let's rock and roll, and we'll close it with that.

[01:53:06] Mike: [Playing Music] Virginia Woolf and poetry

[01:53:22] No one seem to notice me

[01:53:24] Being young is getting so old

[01:53:26] Cheap beer and cigarettes

[01:53:29] Life was like a movie set

[01:53:30] And I seemed to be given no role

[01:53:33] But in times of trouble

[01:53:35] I could turn to my mother.

[01:53:36] I know that she gon' understand

[01:53:40] And at age 18

[01:53:42] I cried to my mother

[01:53:43] And she told me, "young man"

[01:53:45] "There are moments when you fall to the ground

[01:53:47] But you stronger than you feel you are now

[01:53:52] You don't always have to speak so loud, no

[01:53:55] Just be as you are

[01:53:57] Life is not always a comfortable ride

[01:54:01] Everybody's got scars that they hide

[01:54:04] And everybody plays the fool sometimes, yeah

[01:54:11] Just be as you are"

[01:54:14] They played me on the radio

[01:54:16] Everything was changing

[01:54:17] So I thought I was all the way grown

[01:54:21] But I still remember in that cold November

[01:54:23] When I realized I'm all alone

[01:54:26] But in times of trouble

[01:54:28] I could turn to my mother

[01:54:30] I know that she gon' understand

[01:54:33] But at age 22

[01:54:34] I cried to my mother

[01:54:36] And she told me, "young man"

[01:54:38] "There are moments when you fall to the ground

[01:54:42] But you are stronger than you feel you are now

[01:54:53] You don't always have to speak so loud, no

[01:55:02] Just be as you are

[01:55:08] It doesn't matter if you become some star

[01:55:24] Life is better when you open your heart

[01:55:33] You don't always have to act so hard, no

[01:55:35] Just be as you are"

[01:55:36] Be as you are

[01:55:36] Be as you are

[01:55:36] Be as you are

[01:55:36] Be as you are


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