Steve Reiter: Welcome to Age Hackers with Dr. Jeffrey Gladden, MD, FACC, Founder, and CEO of Gladden Longevity. On this show, we want to help you optimize your longevity, health, and human performance with impactful and actionable information by answering three questions: How good can we be? How do we make 100 the new 30? And how do we live well beyond one 20?
I'm Steve Reiter and Dr. Gladden, and we just finished up with Dr. Mike Van Thielen, who you met at a conference, right?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, we met at a conference, that's right, back in September, actually. Yeah.
Steve Reiter: So, what was it about him that you had him come on the podcast because he's academically established with a couple of doctorates if I remember right and-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Well, the thing that I liked about Mike right from the get-go is he's an athlete, and in his 40s, he set a world record swimming that was pretty impressive, but beyond that, he has such a-
Steve Reiter: Yeah, for 45 plus, yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, 45 plus, right. He has such a zest for life, and he's really hacking into the whole performance side of life. How do you live your best life? How do you find your sense of purpose? He's written a book about this. We're going to talk about some of the content in the book, which I think is really fascinating, but I think this podcast will fall into the category of really life optimization if you will, and he's going to bring some insights forward that we hadn't thought about before. Both during the regular podcast and then the Age Hackers Plus, some things came out that were really, really insightful, things that we're going to start implementing right away. So, I think you're going to love this podcast.
Steve Reiter: Yeah. For Age Hackers Plus members, you're going to get a treat with one of his tips that he recommends for visualizing the next day, some stuff that I had never thought of before. I was like: "Whoa, I need to do that too."
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, super cool.
Welcome, everybody, to this edition of the Gladden Longevity Podcast. I'm here with my host, Steve Reiter, and today we're going to be welcoming Dr. Mike Van Thielen to the show. He has many doctorates. I don't know how many doctorates he has, but it sounds like it's at least three or four, maybe five. He's a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition. He's a doctor of Oriental medicine. He's certified in Chinese herbs. He's a doctor of homeopathy. He also does acupuncture, and physical therapies, licensed in these practices. So, apparently, he either loves school or he has an appetite for learning. Mike, welcome to the show. It's great to have you.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: It's great being on the show with you guys. Appreciate it.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, great. So, Mike, you and I met at a conference. One of the things that's clear is that you're very physically fit, you're very motivated, and you seem to want to live life really on a higher plane. I think it might be fun to jump into some of that, but maybe you could share with the audience a little bit about your background, how you got to be where you are today, and what got you here.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Sure. Long story short, I grew up with my brother, a single mom. So, she worked really hard to provide for us. It's not that we were poor because we had the basics. We had food, and we were in a rental house. So, no complaints there, but we had to kind of fend for ourselves from a young age a little bit. So I got a few entrepreneurial skills. When I needed something, I couldn't ask my mom for it. So, I would go to, as a nine-year-old, go to the flea market and sell some stuff that I found on grandma's attic. So, that's how it all started, but when I was in-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Where did you grow up? Where did you grow up? You've got a little bit of an accent. It doesn't sound like you're from Brooklyn.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: That's right. Belgium.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Belgium, okay, and where? In Brussels or-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: No. I went to university in Brussels, but a small town, 15 minutes east of Antwerp, about 10,000 inhabitants, so, not a big town. That's where I grew up. Actually, good that you say because that's where it actually all started. In elementary school, I was eight or nine years old, and I was on the basketball team and the soccer team. I was the fastest runner, but I couldn't win the swimming because one of my better friends was part of the local swim team. So I got my ass kicked, for lack of a better word. So, apparently, I didn't really like losing, so my solution was to join the swim team myself, and that's how I found my passion for swimming. So, today, I still joke about it that swimming is actually my worst sport.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: There you go, but I think you still swim to this day. Is that not true, or you swim competitively? You've done some things in swimming.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: I swam till I was 22, 24 years old, and then I took a 22-year break, and when I was 46, I decided I needed to start swimming again. So in 2019, just before COVID, I swam a world record in the forty-plus age group. Yes.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right, and I remember that. What was the world record in? It wasn't swimming in the English channel. It was something shorter, I think.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Well, yeah, it was the four-by-hundred freestyle relay. So, my split was 51/82 in the hundred meters freestyle.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay. That's super strong. Good. Well, good for you. All right. You have big feet?
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: No, actually not. I wish I had bigger feet, but it's interesting though because I actually swim faster than I was in my 20s, and people ask: "How do you do that?" Because, obviously, my endurance, my VO2 max is not even close to what it was, but I think at this age, I'm stronger than myself when I was 20. So, I could beat up that little Mike in his 20s, but I'm also smarter, and I need to compensate differently. So, obviously, now suddenly, diet becomes important, supplements become important, the mind becomes important, and strategy becomes important. So, that's where the biohacking really comes in is to take that unfair advantage of having that knowledge and having those technologies available to us.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, that gets us through your childhood, and then tell us about your education. What drew you to medicine? So, you're a young kid; you're fending for yourself to some extent. Walk us through that how you got to where you are.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yeah. I loved sports. So, I went to the University of Brussels and did physical education, which was a lot of fun, but what am I going to do with that degree? So, then I decided to do physical therapy in addition at the University of Brussels, and that's how I ended up traveling with the Belgian Olympic swim team in preparation for the Atlanta Games in 1996. So now, I really got more and more interested in supplementation and see what advantages these athletes were taking to try to get a little edge.
Then after the Olympic Games in '96, they were short of physical therapists in the United States. So, a recruiter called me up and asked me if I wanted to come to live in the United States. I was in my 20s. So, obviously, I said: "Yes, sure." He says: "Where do you want to work?" I said: "Fort Lauderdale," and the reason I said that was because that's where we did our training camps, and I knew all the bars, right?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Oh, okay.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: So, two weeks later-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: All the bars and half the girls.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: That's right. You got that right. So, two weeks later, he calls me up, and he says: "I don't have anything in Fort Lauderdale right now, but I have something in Ormond Beach." So, I go: "Excuse me?" He says: "Ormond Beach." I say: "I don't know where that is, but the beach sounds fun." And that's how I ended up in Ormond Beach, close to Daytona Beach, Florida.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay. So, you came over here with your physical therapy degree and your physical education degree, and then where did you go from there because you've obviously gone way beyond that at such-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yes. Well, I ended up working in a practice where they also did acupuncture and Chinese herbs, et cetera, and I just observed that a combination of those two practices and therapies actually gave much better results. So, I ended up going back to the Florida College of Integrative Medicine in Orlando, which is a three-year program, got my doctorate on Oriental medicine, my license in acupuncture, my bachelor's in professional health studies, board certified in Chinese herb, homeopathy, and those types of things.
So, I started treating people that way, and after another thousand patients, I figured that these were what they call alternative medicines, which actually are the original ones, but I figured that they were less harmful and less invasive than conventional medicine, meaning drugs and surgeries.But, to be honest, I didn't find the long-lasting results either. So, I was disappointed, and I figured I had to go back to basics, and that's when I decided to get my Ph.D. in holistic nutrition, and I started looking at Mother Nature and at animals in the wild because the truth always lies in Mother Nature. By combining the knowledge of holistic nutrition and looking at the truths in Mother Nature, I really became very confident that I can help people regain control of their health no matter what their situation is.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, you've introduced a term here that's interesting, ‘holistic nutrition’. I think a lot of people are familiar with the concept of ‘holistic health’, meaning that you're looking at more than just the biochemistry. You're looking at the entire person, the psychology, living situation, stress levels, physical aspects, et cetera. So, what are we talking about with ‘holistic nutrition’? Because, are we talking about the whole 30? Or eating whole foods? Or we go to whole foods, or what's the whole 30, the holistic nutrition?
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yeah. Well, it's a little bit of everything. It's prescribing nutrition based on the holistic approach, all right? So, it's not because you have high blood pressure that we are going to get you an herb that can lower blood pressure. We still got to look at why there is high blood pressure, what the causes are, and then prescribe the right nutrition for that. So, your initial premise about looking at the body as a whole is still part of that when we want to prescribe something, but yes, it's also going back to Mother Nature, avoiding any manmade foods and drinks, any synthetic colorings and preservatives and everything that's manmade because if we eat something whole or wholesome and/or close to organic, then obviously, our body's going to recognize that and we get a much better cellular absorption. If things don't get absorbed, we really don't get any profit or benefit from it.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right. So now, we're really talking about food as medicine, so to speak, and you're really talking about nutrient-dense foods is what I'm hearing here; nutrient-dense, whole plant foods could be animal protein as well, but this holistic nutrition is really moving back into a very nutrient-dense, organic as much as possible, and really high-quality foods, if you will. So, that's helpful, but then there has to be more to it than that, in terms of how you would prescribe these things for the individuals. Do you want to talk to us-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yeah, and I want to step back just a little bit because humans are not living in pristine areas anymore, and we still are this very simple being that is put in this high-tech society. So, we need to make adjustments because it's easier said than done, "Oh, I'm going to eat wholesome organic food," because even if we go to the farmer's market or even if we go to the organic section in our supermarkets, we need to understand that many of the nutrients have been lost, even though it may be labeled ‘organic’.
For example, if we store asparagus for two weeks, 90% of the vitamin C is gone. If we pick an apple from a branch, 30 minutes later 50% of the enzymes is gone. So, yes, I'm an advocate for wholesome organic foods, but we also got to realize that if we don't pick them straight from our own hydroponic system in our backyard, our organic garden, a lot of nutrients get lost. So then, high-quality supplements become almost an insurance policy because we don't live in pristine areas anymore. We have an onslaught of chemicals and toxins just in the cities and towns that we live, the chlorine fumes from our showers, our cleaning products that are sitting there, the electromagnetic frequencies and radiation, and the list goes on. So, we need to make extra efforts to get all the right nutrients to neutralize those toxins.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: I think this is a great point that you're making, which is that even when we're doing our best, trying our hardest, it is almost impossible to actually get the diet that you would like to eat. Unless you're growing your own food or you've hired somebody to grow your own food, whatever it is, it's virtually impossible to get it. To your point, if it's picked, you lose nutrients from the moment it's picked, let alone the fact that it's grown in different soils at different times of the year, and nutrient densities of soils have such a big impact on everything. Then you've got the rain that's bringing in the glyphosate from the field next door, and then you have so many things to deal with it.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Exactly.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: You're doing your very, very best; it's almost impossible. So, that being said, I still think it's important for us to eat as best we can, but then realize that it is going to be inadequate on some level. So then, do you have a system that you utilize to identify people's nutrient needs or where they're deficient, or is it more just based on performance levels, or how do you go about that?
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Well, there are different ways, but yeah, of course, we can always do objective tests. We can do blood tests, but again, what do they tell us, right? I mean, we know that most of those ranges that they came up with for nutrients or even cholesterol or whatever it may be, that they were based on our soldiers in World War II to ration them and keep them barely alive. So, if we fall in a, quote, unquote, "normal range", it just means we're barely alive, and we are not in the business of surviving. We are in the business of optimal health.
So, we need to be way above those normal ranges in order to be in optimal health, and what are those ranges, right? So, it's hard to figure out, but as you know, Dr. Gladden, there are many objective tests that we can employ to see if our strategies, whether that's upgrading our diets or employing certain technologies or working or not, whether that's a blood test, whether that's a methylation epigenetic test, whether it's telomere lengthening test, whether that's a gut biome, whether that's a body composition analysis.
So, obviously, we can measure the effectiveness of what we put into place, but to your point, everybody has a different starting point. So, if I get new clients, I usually and very generally put them into three categories when it comes to health. Number one, and that's where, unfortunately, most people fall, is we need to regain control of your health because they're either in pain or they have a medical diagnosis or a medical condition. So, the first thing we need to do is resolve those and get back to what we call, quote, unquote, "normal". Nobody likes that term ‘normal’, but it's easy to visualize what that means. Most people are below it, so we got to get them back to normal. So, that's where most people, unfortunately, fall in. The next step, then, is to optimize health.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, let me just-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yeah, go ahead.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Let me just interrupt you for a second. So, getting them back to normal, just to bring in this concept of holistic nutrition, so I assume that part of your plan in getting them back to health is a combination of things like acupuncture, maybe physical therapy, maybe some herbs, and things like that, but also a dietary recommendation. Is that the general approach you're using or-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Well, yeah, I don't even use necessarily acupuncture or physical therapy unless their pain is directly related to them overusing a certain part of their body, which causes a structural asymmetry, and we need to work on posture, or we need to work on balancing their things because pain, in my opinion, comes from major, commonly, to sources, number one, systemic inflammation, which we can talk about, obviously, which causes pain. That's easily, well, easily, and we know how to subdue that and control that. Then secondly, a lot of people have chronic pain because of a structural asymmetry caused by faulty posture over many years or overuse of certain muscles compared to their antagonists.
So, those are the two things, but when it comes to really having people regaining control of their health, I have a very simple principle, and I believe that the cause of all disease is toxemia, which literally means toxins in the blood, but in a little bit more detail, what it means is as part of daily life and metabolism, we obviously produce waste products and toxins, but in a normal healthy body, those toxins are eliminated by the body, so no harm is done.
It's when we are exposed to or ingest far more toxins than the body can possibly eliminate that we accumulate those toxins in the body, and that's what we call toxemia. Toxemia causes two things: number one, free radical damage because those toxins are stealing an electron from a healthy atom, which then becomes a free radical, causing damage even on a cellular or DNA level. Number two, our body is now in a constant state of emergency because those toxins are floating around, and there's a fancy term for that in Western medicine. It's called ‘systemic inflammation’, which they now recognize as the cause of over 90% of all diseases.
So, if toxemia and systemic inflammation are the cause of all diseases, then there's only one solution, and that is to keep toxemia in check. So, simply said, how do we do that? We need to do everything we can to eliminate or reduce the exposure and ingestion of toxins, which is not just manmade foods and drinks and medicine, but also the exposure to environmental toxins, polluted water, polluted air, and our electromagnetic frequencies.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Let me interrupt you for a second. So, this is interesting because we live in such a toxic environment, right? It's not the coal-burning factories of the 1800s. We're not in London right back in the 1850s, or whenever it was just almost unbearable, I suppose, but still, it's a very toxic environment for all the reasons we know about, lots of air pollution, very difficult to get clean water. All the basics are basically polluted. Then virtually, there's stuff in everything else that we're trying to eat, even if we're trying to eat healthily.
What I've discovered is that different people have different genetics with their ability to detox. So, some people are gifted and can actually pass these things through quite readily. Other people are paralyzed by ortho gasoline. I mean, they can't really deal with that. So, optimizing their genetic function and up-regulating detox genes becomes important. Trying to minimize the environment becomes important, but it just seems like there's no escaping the fact that we live in a toxic environment, right? I mean, I don't know how you get around that.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: I do think we can keep it in check. Again, it's just that we’re going to try to limit the exposure and the ingestion of the toxins, right?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Sure.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: That, simultaneously increase the nutrients that fight theoretical damage, systemic inflammation, and repair DNA because, like you said, we can't avoid all of it, but we can try to mitigate as much as we can and then the toxins that do cause DNA damage, we obviously can do things to mitigate that because we all know we have an innate DNA repair system. Most people don't know, and the reason it doesn't work in most people is because it requires fuel, and the fuel is NAD+. So, we got to make sure we have enough NAD+ and also NADPH in the battery of our cells. So, there are many things that we can do and teach people to make sure there are enough electrons in our reservoir, the NADPH, that we have enough NAD+. So even if there is damage caused, our own body has the ability to continue to repair the DNA that has been damaged.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay. So, I think these are all good points. I'm going to superimpose this onto the aging process itself because we know that as we age, inflammation rates go up for a variety of reasons. In fact, increasing inflammation is one of the hallmarks of aging, and it comes in various forms, which we won't go into right this minute, but inflammation keeps increasing. When you have increased inflammation one of the real problems with increased inflammation is that it does result in increased oxidative stress at the tissue level.
So, why is inflammation so damaging? It's because it's excess oxidative stress. To your point, there are toxins that are driving the inflammation, but then the body itself, as an aging organism, is driving the inflammation. There's inherent inflammation that feeds on itself. So, the idea of a clean environment, eating well, all those kinds of things will optimize an individual at whatever point they are in their lifespan, but it's still not enough to get at the root causes of what's driving that aging inflammation, if you will.
So, there's an environmental process, and there's an internal process, both of which are contributing to the inflammation, and you can age more quickly if you're in an environment that has more toxins in it, more inflammation drivers, but you're going to age anyway. Even if you lived in a bubble, you're going to age. So, being able to understand the nutrients that can have an impact on mitigating the endogenous inflammation becomes important too, right? Being able to go after NF kappa beta and being able to prune senescent cells and downregulate, using xenomorphic to downregulate the secretory status of senescent cells and things like this. So, there are lots of different things that interlace with all of this. So, in your approach, are you looking at it through both lenses, or are you primarily focused on the environmental piece or however you go about it?
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: No, you're 100% correct because, remember, I said there were three steps where we look. Number one: we're going to regain control and get rid of their pain disease. Number two: we're going to optimize health, and optimize health just means incorporate lifestyle modifications that we've just been talking about for them to be vital, fit, and strong again, in control of their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual well-being. But only then, Dr. Gladden, optimal health becomes the ideal foundation to maximize the benefits of biohacking, and that's what you just explained. Now, we are going to try to implement strategies and tips, and technologies to objectively reverse our biological edge. So, now, it's about not only repairing but also re-engineering tissues, and that's what you just explained, and that's the last step, step number three.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay. This is great. So, for the audience, this is really important to understand. If you're interested in biohacking, let's say you're interested in biohacking, it's so important to understand that you actually, if you're not doing the basics, jumping to the end, it's like: "Okay. I'm going to start doing the exercises that will build my sprint muscles," when you don't even have the general condition to be able to support that process, right? So, it's like you can't get the cart before the horse. It's why diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, good relationships, all the things that are foundational to health have to be in place for you to really benefit from the sophisticated stuff-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: For even your body to be able to respond because it's going to-
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: That's right.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: ... always prioritize putting out fires, and if they're not put out, it doesn't matter what you put in your body to biohack.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: That's right. That's another good point because you can have a very good therapy, and you can have a very good intervention that's super powerful. I'm thinking of one in particular, but it's too esoteric to talk about right this second. It's a vasointestinal peptide that's used actually to cure mold toxicity, but it is the last step of 12 steps before you're actually, your body's actually ready to take that peptide. So, people need to understand that they're looking for a quick solution, and we all want to do things quickly, but you have to build that base before you drop in some of these other age hacking, biohacking things and expect to get the benefit that they can provide, right?
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: That's correct, yes. That's why we have those three distinctive steps. So, people contact me for biohacking, but unfortunately, we got to start with steps one or two and guide them through there before they actually will experience the benefits of what you and I do.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right. Exactly. So, let's talk a little bit about performance because you're an athlete; you're a high performer. We've met in person on a couple of different occasions. I think we had lunch together one day. I don't remember what you had to eat, but anyway. So, I know you're a very high-performing guy. So talk to us a little bit about your concept of what it is to be a human being. I mean, you're really on the planet to be a high performer. It's how I sense that. Just talk us through about that and then how you think about that and what you do to actually optimize that.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yeah, I mean, it's all about, in my new book, I think I got you a copy there, Dr. Gladden, but I call it superpowers, right? I think everybody has a superpower. Everybody has a reason to be on the planet, and unfortunately, the majority of us don't even know our superpower or barely tapped into it, and that is a little bit the fault of society, I guess. When we're born, we're supposed to go to school, we're supposed to go to college, we're supposed to work for somebody till we're 65, and then hopefully, we can buy an RV and enjoy our golden years, which never happens or we have our parents that steer us in a certain direction because dad's a lawyer, so he wants you to go to law school, et cetera, but we never stand still and wonder what our passion is or what our purpose is.
So, the first step that I do with mentees or people that want help is we really need to re-identify or confirm our purpose in life and find out what creates passion and fire in our stomachs. Unfortunately, many times, it's not where our credentials align, or it's not what our job currently is. So, the first objection I get is: "Oh, well, I don't have any time for that," or, "I can't just change my life around." So then we have to put a plan and strategy in place to slowly transition into that, which means freeing up some valuable time so we can start working on those passions and dreams because without that fire, without that passion, you're never going to perform at your highest potential. So, to me, that's the foundation to identify what your passion and fire is before you ever can be a winner or perform at the highest potential.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Let me just interrupt you again for a second because I think this is another really interesting point, and one of the things that I've realized in life is that it is very, very important to get in touch with what you're passionate about, but I can tell you that passion does not necessarily equate to purpose. So, I can be passionate about riding my mountain bike, but my purpose in life is not to be a mountain biker. So, you can have many passions, but don't be confused that that necessarily equates to your purpose. That being said, you will be incredibly passionate about your purpose. So, just to make that little distinction there. I'm sure you guys could-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: You're 100% right. That's why I have an exercise in my book, and I really make people distinguish about that. So, the first part of the exercise, I ask them to write down three or five topics that they would talk about during a TEDx Talk, knowing that a few million people will watch. So, they write that down and take their time. Then I ask them to close their eyes and stand on top of a mountain, and eventually, eight billion people will be sitting at the base of the mountain, and you have 10 minutes to delay or to deliver one message.
So, usually, that message on top of the mountain comes from the heart. While the other five messages, those could be about your mountain biking or could be about related to your job as a cardiologist or a coach, or a healer. They're more from the brain because there's usually also some monetary benefit behind the topics that you want to talk about on a TEDx Talk versus the one on top of the mountain. That's something coming from the heart.
So, yes, you're 100% right. We need to distinguish between that passion and that purpose, but once we identify that purpose, we're going to have to start. The next step is we need to take control of our life because most people are controlled. They're just in this vicious cycle of running, running, running every day and being in a field and worrying and being uncertain and having anxiety and having depression because we don't know what tomorrow brings.
So, we really need to make sure that we start taking control of our life by controlling our agenda, by controlling our calendar, by really doing all the things to avoid procrastination, staying focused, and taking an incremental step every day towards that goal. So, that's phase one of the IZOD method, being in the zone, on demand, purpose of life, and taking control of our life.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Let me just add one thing here because I think this is another great point that you're making. I think that for me, what I've figured out, and Steve has heard me say this previously, but I think when we feel anxious, when we feel depressed, when we feel worried, when we feel uncertain, when there's ambiguity about what to do, ultimately, it leads us to a feeling of not being safe. So, when we don't feel safe, it can be paralyzing, and people get anxious, they get depressed, and they start to worry about the thing.
So, one of the key things that we work with clients around is, how do you feel safe? Then realize that nothing external to us can ever make us feel safe because money can be taken away, relationships can be broken, people can die, and anything can happen. All these things can be taken away. So, how do you ultimately feel safe?
Your ancestors lived through World War II, I mean, directly through World War II, so talk about lack of safety and all the things that could come depending on your nationality, et cetera. So, how do you feel safe regardless of what the external events are? I think if people drill into that, they can come away with some really deep spiritual insights and some really deep psychological insights about how to give themselves safety and feel safe. I think when you combine safety, feeling safe, and having a massive sense of purpose, the passion is able to flow, and you're able to be so much more productive because now you have everything you need to move forward. So, that is what would be my take on that.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: That's true, and that's why the taking control of your life and being in control and knowing what tomorrow brings, what next week brings, next month brings, is so important because control creates clarity and clarity omits stress.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, I think that's right. I think control is another technique that we use to feel safe. It's another strategy that we use to feel safe, but anyway, in your thing, I really, really love your image of somebody standing on top of a mountain with eight billion people at the base, and what message do you want to deliver? Really, it's really what do you want to contribute at that point, right? What do you want to give? It's not really what do you want to take, it's what do you want to give. So, I'm curious for you, what is that? When you stand on top of the mountain, what do you want to do?
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yeah, again, it's a process we have to identify, and it's exactly what I'm doing now. It's helping people unleash that superpower because 99% of us are not doing what we're supposed to do. So, I want to stop people in their tracks and make them think about it because, especially in today's world, we need everybody's superpower right now.
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Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: What I've enjoyed about it is actually seeing the depth to which my meditation takes me. It's like instant feedback. It's such a cool thing. It's like you think you're meditating; well, how deep are you? Then when you go really deep, and it maxes out at 100%, it's like, ‘Oh, okay, I guess I just got there.’ Although as soon as you look at it, you drop down to 60, but it's fun. It's really fun. Focus Calm, train your brain to better focus, and a calmer mind.
That's really well said, and you're right. The educational system doesn't push us through this. Our parents don't push us through this. It becomes a really a process of self-discovery. So, I think if you're listening to this podcast, I mean, know that for you to really find your purpose, if it's like, ‘Well, geez, I don't know. I go to work, but I don't really have a sense of purpose,’ it's really a big process of self-discovery to actually get to that.
You have to be willing to take risks, so to speak. You have to be able to make yourself feel unsafe to make the transitions that are required to actually get to the point where you can really be living out your purpose. So yeah, that's interesting. Steve, if you're on top of the mountain, I'm just curious, what message do you want to deliver? I have some sense of it, but what would that be?
Steve Reiter: For me, I think it's the importance of human connection. It's the importance of, no matter what's going on, having a loved one there, even if you're in the hospital like my late wife was.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think for me, my biggest passion, well, they intersect, but for me, it's really changing the entire glide path of aging for the entire human race, where people don't have to go through decline and disability the way that everybody suffers. I think it's just such a tragedy that we have to go through that. So, really, changing the whole glide path of aging and, at the same time, optimizing people's capabilities in the same way that Mike is talking about to really take on your superpower, be your best self. The whole life energy circle is around all those things. So yeah, I think that would be my message. Then really, the idea of love. Really, I can't get away from that love, sending love to everybody, realizing that we are connected, and there really isn't a reason to move outside of that. So, anyway, okay. Well, now that we've covered that-
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: We got three very strong superpowers here. There we go.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, we do, actually. So, now they're going to make a movie. We're going to be with capes and whatever else. So yeah, it's like an action comic book. Anyway, what are the things that you're doing? I'm curious now. So, I understand what you're doing to help your clients, but what I'm really curious about now is what's the growing edge for you? What are you doing to actually hack and optimize yourself? I think I'd like to hear about that.
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yeah, of course. That's the third step is just upgrading your body and your mind. I've always been, because I was in sports, more focused on the body aspect, but about a decade ago, obviously, I'm open-minded, and I really started seeing the power of the mind with things like Joe Dispenza and his videos, et cetera, and it's like, ‘Oh, my God, if you could be floating above your body and heal yourself, you also can swim more records,’ because you won't feel any pain. So, you would be in control of everything. So, what a power to have!
For me, it was, at the time, it was very difficult to say: "Okay. I'm going to meditate." I went to a meditation class. So, if I don't see any results quickly, it becomes frustrating. I think that's the problem with most people today. When you say meditating, it's like they try a few times, but then they give up because there's no significance or instant gratification, but I think today, Steve and Jeff, I think today, there's so many technologies available that facilitate and speed up us being or getting those results such as nootropics, but also BrainTap, binaural beats, music, breathwork that gets us into that special brainwave that we want to be in much, much faster.
Then once we experience it, obviously, we're going to be addicted to it. Now we are going to get further, right? So, I think today, it's much easier to get those results or at least experience some benefit of controlling the mind because the mind controls our destiny, right? So, it's about the blueprint, it's about your thoughts, it's about controlling emotions and feelings, and it's about having no doubts.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: So, when you talk about a toxic environment, most people's minds are maybe their most toxic environment, right?
Dr. Mike Van Thielen: Yes, of course. Yes, their thoughts.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: All the beating up of themselves, all the reasons they can't do things, all this chatter in their brains. I think, to your point, learning to get to a higher plane where you do step outside of the mind, the thinking mind, if you will, and go to a different plane, I found Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now to be very, very helpful in that regard, reading that and reading sections of it at a time, but I think that if you're really going to be a high performer and reach your purpose, you have to be able to do that.
So, to your point, it can be frustrating to learn how to meditate, to go to that place where you empty your mind, and you don't have thoughts. It can be frustrating to try to do that. To me, the analogy is riding a bike. When you rode your bike, how many times did you fall off your bike before you rode it? You should give yourself that same space when you're learning to meditate. It's going to take a while to figure it out, but once you feel it, just like riding a bike, once you feel it, then you can get back to that feeling. Then you start to work with that. I think these hacks can be helpful. Steve, we did a podcast with a band that-
Steve Reiter: Focus Calm.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Focus Calm, yeah.
Steve Reiter: Right here. We've got it right here ... When I start my day, I throw this on, or if I need a break during the afternoon to refocus. I love this stuff.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yup, exactly. So, Focus Calm is basically measuring what brainwave frequency you're in, and it helps guide you back towards it. I used it a little bit when they first sent it over, and it was interesting. I've gotten to the point where I can put myself there, and sure enough, I was at 90% or 95% right off the bat. As soon as you start to think, then it starts to drop, but when you just go there, you're there. There are other devices, too, like BrainTap. We're going to do a podcast on BrainTap, which is another technology, really, that you can utilize to help meditate as well, but anyway, so in your own world, you were frustrated with it, but now you've hacked into it. So, where has that led you with regard to control of your mind? Where do you feel like you are in that process?