I’ve Been spending the past two weeks ear-reading three books.
All of them interweave concepts, ideas, scientific studies, that culminated in formulating one compound question in my mind: What is the human being’s threshold for next-step evolution and can we cross it in this lifetime?
Biohackers are often labeled as charlatans, maniacs, weirdos, iconoclasts, rebels..and lately, even as “dangerous people who like to play God.”
The playing God – yes, admittedly, the Biohacking movement can indeed go that direction, but it’s not the direction toward which I desire to steer.I believe the human body has many hidden facets that we haven’t discovered, and thus, haven’t harnessed.
But how do we discover them?In the book DEEP by James Nestor, he explores the capacity for human beings to redevelop “lost skills” – abilities that have atrophied due to the urbanization of humanity.He believes that with consistent exposure to a particular condition, the human body will train itself to acclimate and activate the necessary mechanisms to keep the organism alive and functioning.
He talks about blind humans who develop the skill of echo-location and magnetoreception, or the use of the bounce back of sound to assess one’s environment and to find true North.
He believes this was a skill that humans used when forests, not skyscrapers, comprised our normal environment.
In the Philippines, our very own Badjao have enlarged spleens, allowing them to hold their breath for over ten minutes in 200 feet of water.Indeed, these are very controlled situations where the humans involved choose to push the envelope (such as freedivers) or have no choice to find alternatives (such as the blind).But what about when you find yourself in a distressing “life or death” situation?
Scott Carney wrote “The Wedge” as a follow up to his spectacular book “What doesn’t Kill Us,” which features humans displaying seemingly impossible feats using their own internal armor, in the case of daredevil surfing legend Baird Hamilton and the man who thrives in frozen lakes, Wim Hof.
The Wedge is this space, a “pregnant pause” if you will, between stimulus and response, that enables you to take action that is pro-survival, rather than the opposite, which is usually precipitated by panic.Being Proactive instead of Reactive.
In his “opening scene,” he features NeuroScience expert Andrew Huberman, who was partaking in a shoot with a Great White Shark, the footage of which he uses to produce VR material for his projects in Stanford.
Huberman gets in a dangerous NO-Air situation while underwater, in a cage, with Great White Sharks patrolling nearby.
The choice was either to 1) panic and rush out of the cage and shoot up to the surface…and possibly get bitten by Great Whites and eventually injured or killed, or 2) to collect his wits and THINK of a way out.He found the Wedge and thankfully, survived the ordeal.
In Biohacking, the Wedge is most easily achieved through the technology of Heartmath. The algorithm within their gadgets trains the Nervous System to become resilient. It provides biofeedback that tells the body when it is in this optimal mind/body/spirit state, called “COHERENCE.”
Since I’ve been training with HeartMath for over 4 years now, my parasympathetic muscle is pretty well-built. When it kicks in, it really brings me back to center so that I avoid my usual temper tantrums or road rage, and severe impatience.
Being in sympathetic states is not comfortable and can leave one stewing in a bath of stress hormones for hours, weeks, months, and even years!
Being able to come back to calm and ease without effort, is a life-extending gift that only HeartMath has the technology to achieve.What’s the alternative?
Meditate in a cave for 40 years, for which, I simply do not have the time…nor the patience Having read the two previous books, fresh questions came to the fore as my favorite book of 2019 came to mind.
In this absolutely riveting book, Deep Survival, the author talks about both survivors and non-survivors who suffered unexpected grave circumstances:Victims of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, a plane crash deep in the amazon, shipwrecks and castaways, snowmobile-induced avalanches, fatal mountain climbing domino accidents, etc.
He talks about what makes up a “Survivor’s Mind” – the difference between CHOOSING life and just giving up.
While we don’t think much of it right now, especially because you might be sitting in a temperature-controlled area, on a comfy couch or office chair, tea or coffee in hand, in warm, comfortable clothes, when we get right down to a “life or death” situation, who knows what your pranayama, meditation, Instagramming, biohacking, keto-dieting, kettlebell sessions, juice cleansing will do for you at that moment?
Possibly nothing.It doesn’t have to be life or death…it could just be a hairy situation.
I remember when I was just a novice diver in 1997, I rented my BC (Buoyancy Compensator) from the resort because I couldn’t afford one yet. Our instructor was taking me and my buddy on a fun dive.
We were three. And diving in threes: Another No-No in the diving book.
In Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzalez says accidents happen BEFORE they happen.
On this sunny day in Anilao, we were at 70 feet during our first dive. I noticed my BC auto-inflating. No matter how many times I deflated, it would keep filling with air, making it hard for me to control my buoyancy. It came to a point where I was pulling on the dump valve.
I signaled to my instructor that something was wrong and that I couldn’t inflate. Meanwhile, I was starting to ascend and I was clueless as to what to do next.
My instructor kind of just looked at me and stayed with my buddy at the bottom.
He said AFTER THE INCIDENT that he couldn’t leave her in the ocean and he knew that for me, the only way was UP, so it was OK to let me go.
That explained the indifferent look he gave me underwater.
(Note: I never recommended this instructor to anyone else after this)
I guess in retrospect, I could see his point. But if we were following the recommended buddy safety system (dive in pairs), the situation might’ve been controlled more efficiently.
To cut a long story short, I shot up to the surface in what seemed to me like breakneck speed. I could see nothing but gray and silver water through my mask.
Good thing I didn’t panic. I just went with the flow and continued to breathe because I knew from my training, still fresh in my mind, that a lung embolism could result if I held my breath.
I was extremely fortunate that there wasn’t a bangka right above me or I would’ve broken my neck at that velocity. At the surface, half my body shot out of the water and back down again, the BC, bloated and angrily hissing away excess air.
After this incident, I never rented equipment again. I saved up my money and bought my own gear.If this were another person, who might’ve panicked, what could’ve happened?
Well..a lung embolism for starters.If it were our third or fourth dive, they might’ve suffered from the bends. The person might be left with a severe traumatic experience that might’ve made them quit diving altogether.
Things could’ve turned for the worse. What’s the difference? Maybe the fact that I chose to remain calm and just go with the flow. It was out of my hands, and had to decide in a split second, the best thing to do at that moment.
I only realized the wisdom of my body and my intuition as I read the book DEEP SURVIVAL. I really encourage everyone to read it, not once but three times a year.
The really interesting thing that the book highlights is the fact that “hubris kills.” It doesn’t even have to be hubris, it can just be being “seasoned,”or having “a lot of experience.”
More often than not, the people that die are the ones with a ton of logged activity hours such as the guides, the tour leaders, a strong hunter, the professional mountain climbers, etc.
I know this to be true because last year there was news of a missing scuba diver in a popular diving spot in the Philippines. This diver was very experienced and had no problem treading the deeper waters and swimming against strong currents.
Perhaps this was the very thing that got the better of him: He’s done this many times before and conquered more difficult days; he was sure it was safe to do it one more time.
But one time is all it takes.
His body was never found.
When I go back to the question of the human’s next-level evolution, I know there’s a huge envelope to push. These people who lost their lives for pushing the envelope, isn’t that a step towards trying to overcome one’s limits?
But are we looking in the right place?
Check out the list of unexpected survivors: Children up to 6 years old, a 17 year old girl who walks out from the ruins of a plane and into the thick Amazon jungle, an inexperienced female hiker, a slow paced outdoor trekker with a broken leg, a journalist who knows trends of plane crashes and followed his intuition.
What’s the common thread? BEGINNER’S MIND. AN EMPTY CUP.
The GREAT advice in Deep Survival is as follows: BE HERE, NOW.
Presence is a powerful concept and has been a popular tag word in the restorative health industry the past few years, possibly popularized by Eckhart Tolle in his book, the Power of Now.
Let go of the past and don’t peer into the future.
“NOW” is a gift, that’s why it’s called the “present.”
Perhaps this is what saved me during my Scuba diving mishap.The instruction was: DO NOTHING.
That inner knowing saved my life.
So what is the human’s next-level evolution? I don’t think we should look at the next impossible physical feat. What we should be exploring is our inner space.
What I gleaned from these three books is: The way out is IN.
When we think of conquering the next giant wave, or happen to survive a plane crash, or drift away sea and need to get our lives back:
Find the WEDGE.
BE HERE, NOW.Never before has this been so accessible and practical a concept as now, when the biohacking movement has clawed its way slowly but surely into our realm of possibilities.
At the forefront of these biohacking gadgets, is the tiny little giant called HeartMath.
It targets the first organ to come to life as we develop in our mother’s womb. It then only changes the nature of its rhythm when we take our final breath and transition to another form of consciousness.
LIFE itself couldn’t be represented any better.
“Survivor’s Mind?” I don’t think that’s the only place to look.
A Survivor’s heart is the one that masterfully steers humans toward their capacity to be UNLimiTeD.
There’s no better place to start.
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