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Cold Therapy & Breath Work with Benjamin Berry (EP#193)

Benjamin Berry or Your Mate Benny as he's fondly known, joins Mason on the podcast today to chat about the medicinal value of functional breath work and cold therapy, and how these practices can create mental, physical and emotional resilience when applied appropriately. 

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Benjamin Berry or Your Mate Benny as he's fondly known, joins Mason on the podcast today to chat about the medicinal value of functional breath work and cold therapy. Benny came into the global spotlight at the time of the infamous flooding that decimated much of the Northern Rivers landscape in 2022.

As a civilian on the ground responding to the needs of his community, Benny's presence began permeating the wider populace via a series of Instagram posts calling for stronger government intervention, many of which received thousands if not millions of views. Throughout the flood relief effort, what Benny did was show us that with persistence, heart and authentic care; people power works.

People can only be as powerful as they are adaptable, which leads us to the theme of today's episode; how the practices of breath work and cold exposure can create mental, physical and emotional resilience when applied appropriately. 

Throughout this conversation, we get a sense of just how potent the effects of these practices can be, especially when an individual is faced with a challenging situation. Benny carries a distinctly reassuring calm and grounded energy, one that is reinforced by the daily lifestyle habits he keeps and shares through his powerful work.

Like any health-promoting protocol that rises to fame, there is plenty of misunderstanding and misinformation around the useful application of breath work and cold therapy, so it is a great pleasure to have Benny, one of the leading Australian advocates for these crafts, on the show today to graciously guide us through. 

Enjoy.

Image Of A Sea Pool

“Anything in a cold body of water would be cold immersion. And then we have ice baths. Ice baths would be defined with below a certain temperature, maybe five degrees, with ice in there. Right? Now, cold exposure, any of those forms, cold water immersion, that can be done by anyone. But any type of ice bathing would be done by a trained practitioner.”".
- Benjamin Berry

Benny & Mason discuss:

  • The role of community at times of big life transition.
  • Benny's involvement in the Northern Rivers 2022 flood relief effort.
  • The importance of using integrity when holding space in breath work ceremony, and how this influences positive outcomes.
  • The experiences that lead Benny to the work he offers today.
  • The difference between true ice bathing and cold immersion.

Who is Benjamin Berry?

Benny has dedicated his professional career to assisting the community in times of need. From an Ocean Lifeguard, Underground Search & Rescue Team Leader and a Firefighter, he has been faced with some of the most challenging circumstances that can be presented to humans. 
Through injury, Benny not only found the power to take his physical health into his own hands, but the ability to connect with the essence of what it is to be human. With breath work and cold exposure guiding him, his life broadened from rolling through the motions of everyday living, to the expansion of discovering himself as his own man with the power to choose the life he wants to live.
These skills also served him during the catastrophic flooding in the NSW Northern Rivers in 2022 where Benny was called into action throughout the rescue and recovery efforts.

Resource Guide

Guest
Benny's Instagram

Mentioned In This Episode
The Wim Hoff Method
Conscious Club
Solhouse Studio Website
Solhouse Studio Instagram

Relevant Podcasts
The Yin and Yang of Hot and Cold Therapy with Dr Marc Cohen (EP#179)




Check Out The Transcript Below:

 

Mason:

All right. And we're off. Benny, welcome.

Benny:

Mason. Thanks for having me, mate.

Mason:

Yeah, it's a nice Friday morning. You've just done Conscious Club, which I've only been once up there in, gosh, where is it again? Not Burringbar.

Benny:

Newrybar.

Mason:

Newrybar.

Benny:

Yeah. Newrybar Hall, Friday mornings. And mate, what is it now? Just past nine o'clock, I feel charged for the weekend.

Mason:

Yeah? Do you get in?

Benny:

No. So I don't breathe and I don't get cold on a Friday, but I get the energy from it.

Mason:

Yeah. Hell yeah.

Benny:

Feeling great.

Mason:

I'm really fascinated to talk about where you landed so quickly here. We did an event at Yulli's Brewery a little bit ago, a few weeks ago. So I got a real download about where you are going full-fledged in the breath work. But I came across you going onto, what was it, the project, what was it? Was it one of those morning shows with...

Benny:

Sunrise.

Mason:

Oh, Sunrise with Kochie.

Benny:

Yeah. Yep. Yeah, my mate, Kochie.

Mason:

Your mate, Kochie, during the floods.

Benny:

Our mate, Kochie.

Mason:

Our mate. Yeah, exactly. We can't rip off the branding.

Benny:

Yeah, I thought this might start there. So a lot of people would know I'm a Wim Hof method instructor, but I'm at pains to tell people that's not really what I'm a hundred percent passionate about. To give the background on that, we obviously had the devastating floods last year. And just a couple of months before that I was kind of wrapping up my professional career that was based around emergency services, rescue, those types of roles. And I was working for a particular government agency at the time and they'd made the decision to mandate a few things, which I didn't agree with. And made the big decision to let that go and try and support a family with kids and a mortgage and whatnot.

Mason:

Can I just ask you about that?

Benny:

Yeah.

Mason:

I mean, especially from, it applies to everyone, but as a dude making that transition, because you are such a grounded individual, but I'm sure that was, you seemed like you had it really all together during that time, but there was some chaos internally in terms of making that transition. How is this going to work? There's just a lot of guys I know, and I'm sure women and everyone else, a lot of guys needing to make that transition, just not sure how to do it and have faith, but have practical faith. Are there things in particular you did during that time?

Benny:

Ah, just followed my wife, to be honest. She's the strongest person I know. And I knew the decisions that I was being told I had to make, I knew what those decisions were for me. It was just a simple, "Well, no, you can't tell me what I'm going to do with my body and my life." I don't think that's a fair thing to do as an employer or a government. But the practicality of it was, "Fuck, how do I support a family?" I've got two daughters, I've got a wife, single income family. I've got bills like everyone, we've got to put food on the table. So standing in that power in that decision, it sometimes felt like a selfish decision. I was doing it for myself. I had to really be brought back to the present moment for my wife. And when I had doubts, she was the one standing strong saying...

Mason:

Is that what you mean, following her conviction?

Benny:

Yeah.

Mason:

Yeah.

Benny:

Yeah. So in those moments of doubt for myself, thinking, "Oh, maybe I just cave in and I just go with the flow because I've got to support my family," she just had absolute power and said, "I don't care if we lose every material part of our life. We know where our north is and we are heading there. It doesn't matter what's going on around us." So listening to her and following her when I was feeling a bit stressed, down, unsure, I think that was my little ticket through.

Mason:

Yeah. Because you walking blind, you're going through a transition like that, you're walking blind, the lights are off.

Benny:

Yeah.

Mason:

That's great to have, whether it's a wife or a partner or a friend.

Benny:

Just a solid influence. Yeah. I see that with not people who necessarily have that in a close relationship, but those close community groups or friendship groups in the aftermath of all those things that happened for those couple of years, they're the people that are really true to themselves at the moment. Those ones that had that support network around that were just encouraging. They don't necessarily have to have the same beliefs, but just encouraging and accepting of everything, of all beliefs and all choice. They're the people that really thrived.

Mason:

Can you show me, give me a clue, because I think it's a confusing thing sometimes when you're going through the lights off stage of a transition, you're like, "All right, next time," everything needs to be like perfect when we come out the other end. You've already started saying, you are known as somewhat as a Wim Hof instructor, and it's not necessarily your passion. There's so much that you do, but that's easy to relate to. So when you were going through that transition, you were like if you're following your North Star, what's the North Star verse? How it kind of rolled out that people could relate to your work. I'm sure there's many other things besides work that would've come about it. So were there at times you were going to drop the Wim Hof stuff all together and then you just let it organically rise up again?

Benny:

It was just one part of a way to provide for my family really. I was passionate about it. I had come across the Wim Hof method, particularly, about four years before that. I was practising it for myself maybe five years before that. So it helped me recover from a back injury. It really improved my mental health. It really opened me up as a man and as a husband and a father and a lover. I just saw so many benefits to it. And I decided to do the facilitated training under the Wim Hof Academy for no other reason than I was just really into it. I wanted to know more. And it was the first decision I'd ever made in my professional career that I did for love. So before that, I'd done unlimited training courses, but I was just told to do them and I did them and I wasn't in there for love. I was in there for career progression and to look good to the employer, whatever those reasons were. But I did this one just out of love and interest.

 

So when crunch time came, it was one part of a plan that would help provide for the family. So before that, I'd done the odd workshop here and there. I'd done a lot of just friends and family, word of mouth, a group of five friends here, 10 friends there. But it came crunch time where I had to provide for a family without a stable income. So when I took the leap, it was time to really ramp that up and maybe do a bit more in that space, a bit more workshops and facilitation and put myself out there. But as I said, it was one part. So I had friends who had large businesses in Byron, who I was just going to work in their factory packing boxes. I was going to labour for a friend who's a carpenter. I was just going to make ends meet. And I had the full support from my wife on that. And I suppose that's where it grew from.

Mason:

When was this in relation to the floods? Was this a bit before the floods when you made the transition?

Benny:

So I was stood down from that job in November, 2021. And the floods came February, 2022. So three months later.

Mason:

That was wild. All of a sudden, every single person I knew had your reels and videos being shared up. It was just incredible. I was looking at what, and I'm going over to your Instagram and you were saying your wife set it up for you. Is them just going, "You got to have one," and you're like, "Nah."

Benny:

Yeah. So I did my training through the academy and there was only 11 of us that did it. And all of them were, there was a whole kind of module on social media.

Mason:

That's cool.

Benny:

And how you portray yourself and what you say. And I just tuned out. I just said, "I don't need this part because I'm not going to have social media." Social media is something I dabbled in a few years ago just personally and just thought it's not for me. I don't see a healthy way to use this. So I got rid of it all. And yeah, November came, stood down. And my wife just said to me, over a period of weeks, "I think you really need to dabble into social media just for the workshop space. So you get your word out there." And I resisted. And so January 30, 28 days before the flood hit, she created one for me, an Instagram account only. And just as a joke, she called it Your Mate, Benny. And when she told me, I was like, "Ah, that's just silly. I don't want Instagram." And she goes, "You can change the name later. I've just put a few posts up for you. Just so people can get the word out." So less than a month before the flood hit, I got on there.

Mason:

Yeah. And I guess at that time when the response was happening, it was getting covered in the news, it was all kind of sweet and the army was doing things. And you were just getting a little bit more vocal about advocating for like, "No, we don't have our needs met. We don't have supplies, we don't have anyone doing rescues." Was that the tone when you started doing your videos?

Benny:

Well, yeah. So on the 28th, the first kind of morning after the flood hit in Lismore, I went out on a boat with my mate, Sully. And I mean, that was kind of my career for the majority of my professional career, but not to that scale. That was a mass natural disaster. And I'd never seen anything like it. But there was no word getting out. We don't have a TV, we don't watch the news or anything, but we just had no help, we had no resources. And I was getting really frustrated with what I saw on the ground from the emergency services and not at the people on the ground. They're awesome, they're locals, they live here, but they were just as frustrated as me with the lack of resources that we had.

 

So I got home and I had a few little videos that I took and I put that on my Instagram account for just one purpose. You don't have to be a rocket surgeon to understand that that water needs to go somewhere and it's going to come out the mouth of the river. And it typically takes about 48 hours to traverse from Lismore through all the river towns, Coraki, Woodburn, Broadwater, and come out at Ballina. And I think I had 120 followers on Instagram at the time, and I thought well, a lot of these are locals. They're in Ballina. A lot of them are my friends. So I'll just put something on there to say, "Hey, there's no warnings. The government's doing fuck all. Think about getting out because this is a once in a 500-year flood that they're predicting for Ballina and there's no warnings." And so I put that out and, yeah, that got shared around quite a bit, which was good.

 

But the next couple of days, I had media people, producers and whatnot contacting me and I just refused. I deleted their messages. I felt I was really disheartened with all forms of media at the time. I felt like they contributed a lot to the social divide over the last few years prior to that. And I didn't want to engage in that at all. But it got to the point where some friends, family, even myself, I thought, "You know what? I can actually make a difference. I can tell people what we need." Because days had gone past and we still didn't have any resources turn up. It was still just community led. And so I agreed to go onto Sunrise with our mate, Kochie.

 

And I just had a few conditions. I spoke to the producer, who I haven't found out since, but she purported to be local and affected by the floods. And she was very sympathetic and said, "Look, you can make up your own questions, that's fine." And I said, "I just want to do it live. That's all. I don't want to be edited and I want my own questions." So I gave them four questions and their proviso was that they wanted basically a hero story. And I said, "Yeah, OK. I'll tell you about one particular rescue that we did, but I need to make clear what we need and when we need it." And so I had four questions and I got on there live and they asked me two, just about the rescue that we did and weren't the questions that I gave them. And I thought, "Shit. I know where this is going." And then they cut me and the producer came on and she just basically said, "Oh, thanks very much. We don't have time, we've got to cut to other news." And I just remember I had fire in my belly and I said, "What is more fucking important than this right now? There is nothing in the world that's more important than this." And then she hung up on me.

 

And so I was a bit of a mess just crying into my laptop and I recorded about a five-minute video, which obviously, is not the way Instagram works. That's not what people want to see. I hit send on Instagram and I just got in the car, bawling my eyes out and drove to Lismore. And I turned up to someone's house who I didn't know and just shovelled shit all day, just trying to get that anger out. And by the time I got back in the car and Liv, my wife, called me, she said, "What you put out has already been shared a couple hundred-thousand times. And my Instagram account had started getting lots of followers. And over the course of a week, I think that got viewed two and a half million times, that video. And yeah, I've then found myself doing Instagram lives and all this crazy shit of social media, which I'd never heard of.

 

I think I just look back on that and think, "Well, I don't know what I was thinking going on Sunrise, but what am I going to achieve for that? There's probably going to be 300,000 people that watch it. And how many of those people watching a morning TV programme are going to be called to action by someone pouring their heart out on there?" But two and a half million people in a week, that's about 10% of Australians, the equivalent looking at that. And that really ramped up, along with a lot of other things, obviously, but I think that really contributed to ramping up the help that we got. Very long-winded. Sorry.

Mason:

No, no, no. I think it's actually short-winded for how, because that was the impact on me. It was such a rally for and there were so many people playing roles like that during the response on so many different levels and you were such a key one. And I remember seeing that pop up in 10 stories of my friends and after the fourth time going, "OK, I better watch this one." And yeah, it really rallied just in such a, and I guess what I can't stop thinking about, the values, your North Star for the family and the values of the work offerings you're doing. So I want to kind of lead in there because it was just such authentic sharing, it was just so organic and it was just a part of the response. And it just shows the whole community was in such a, it was such an organism in how we were responding to the crisis and there were so many different waves. And every time we'd start kind of stumbling, something like that would happen that would create more backup for that wave and in a particular area.

 

So it had a lot of integrity. It was in such contrast to what Sunrise is. And it was so nice to kind of sense just how real this community was. I don't even know what I'm saying here. It's just a blur, just trying to tune into it. But from there, I'm just curious when you said follow North Star, because it seems, I don't know why I'm really interested in taking that leap and that leap being so graceful in a way. I'm sure it was very stumbly internally. I'm sure you guys had dark days when you made that transition. Throw the floods in there, get bolstered, I'm sure that helped a lot. I don't know, maybe it was way more significant than what I'm thinking in terms of exposure for the work. But you were already there making that, had made that transition at the time. Am I right? You were already working away?

Benny:

Yeah, yeah. So I'd already started pushing public workshops and trying to become more prominent in that space. And I was doing a few retreats around here. I mean, we live in the retreat capital of Australia, maybe even the world, in Byron and the Northern Rivers.

Mason:

Yeah. Probably smashing Bali at this point.

Benny:

Yeah. So I was definitely trying to move into that space a lot more. I mean, the prospect of me doing something I love as opposed to packing boxes in a factory, I mean, it's an easy choice to make. It's just a hard move to get there. And yeah, you're right, it definitely bolstered the ability to do that. But I suppose at that moment, that was a furthest thing from my mind. We were very lucky, we had savings and we were just living off those prior to the floods, interspersed with what money I could make here and there.

Mason:

Yeah, I mean, it's such a nice symbiosis. Why not? Even from a crisis, have a bit of a few Phoenix, that's what I kind of think crisis does. Whether it was pandemic crisis, flood crisis, a lot of people made such significant transitions, moving families here or there, decisions were just made. As long as you are already in momentum, decisions got made towards the North Star. And why not it be done, hopefully, in a way that you kind of get a bolster up from things like that? So now you're doing, can you talk about the Wim Hof stuff, why that locked in?

Benny:

Yeah, so I mentioned at the start, a lot of people know me as the Wim Hof guy or maybe even just the ice guy. I get called the ice guy all the time, which is a bit of a funny joke in the Northern Rivers. It's not something you want to be called in the Northern Rivers.

Mason:

No, not in Lismore, especially.

Benny:

The ice guy. But yeah, I'm also a functional breath coach, which is kind of what I practise myself mostly. That's what I'm into. If you've seen me up close, you'll see that my nose is pretty cooked. My brother smacked me over the head with a piece of wood when I was seven, and I've got massive breathing issues from a lifetime of mouth breathing. I only had that rectified when I was 28. So 21 years of my childhood, youth, adolescent mouth breathing. And I'm 37 now and still trying to work out how to rectify that. So that's what I'm really passionate about. I'd prefer people to know me as the breathing guy.

 

But having said that, you can't really have a group workshop for functional breathing. It's a one-on-one type practise. It's like a client, practitioner relationship where you work and it's a slow process and you slowly get benefits and gains from that. And it's very individualised because you need to diagnose different conditions and almost prescribe different breathing methods or training to get results from that. So the group stuff becomes what's seen and the ice stuff is what's visual, so that gets put on Instagram. And all of a sudden, I'm just the Wim Hof guy and the ice guy.

Mason:

What's the training around the functional breath? Where did your expertise come?

Benny:

So it was an interest originally. So I grew up surfing, spear fishing, which is basically free diving for food. And I soon realised that I just needed to get better at breathing or I'd either die trying to get better at the sports that I liked or I just wouldn't be able to push myself as far as I wanted. So I used to read about it. There's no internet when I started doing that. So reading books and trying different things. And I recently finished my advanced instructor course under the Oxygen Advantage Technique, which is Patrick McKeown. He trained under Buteyko, which is a Russian scientist who's had some crazy ideas during the space race. And really enjoy that side of functional breathing. It's just not sexy.

Mason:

Isn't it?

Benny:

Well, I think it is one-on-one, you can get really deep with someone who's into it and you can really understand their breathing patterns and how you can influence that, whether it's just for general wellbeing, athletic performance, whatever it might be, calming the nervous system down, but you can't really apply that in a group setting very well, I don't think. Unlike the Wim Hof method, which is, it's basically one technique that anyone can learn, you can do it in a group, it heightens the experience.

Mason:

Yeah, it's the entry level.

Benny:

Yep.

Mason:

So when people come and have one-on-ones with you, do they know what they're walking into, in terms of it going into more intricacy and function? Or are they just expecting you to go more into a cathartic, take a really hard look into a cathartic breathwork?

Benny:

Yeah. So I feel like I'm in a unique position with the workshops I do. So breath and ice, I call it, it's based on the Wim Hof method, but I get a really mixed group of people. I get people who are well down the track of uncovering themselves and their spirituality and opening themselves up and trying to get a deeper understanding of different things in life, themselves, relationships, whatever. But I also get the average punter that might watch Sunrise in the morning and who's just stuck in.

Mason:

No, not watching their Sunrise.

Benny:

Not watching their sun rise, watching Sunrise. And have never worked on themselves at all, have never looked inward and then come along and they might have been dragged. I always ask if there's any hostages in the group because there's usually people that have been brought along and have no idea what they're doing there. So I kind of feel like I'm almost the first door for some people into this world where, hey, we can open ourselves up, we can explore new things. There's a whole different place out there. And I remember the first time I had those experiences as well and how groundbreaking they can be. And from that, maybe they'll inquire a little bit more and try some other practises and look inward a little bit further.

Mason:

What's your relationship when you've got a group and you've got hostages and you've got people who, you know you've got the people in there who, I know when I came along with you, I've been in quite a few of those workshops, whether it was a Wim Hof one or more of a, there've been quite a few in terms of let's just say more of a shamanic kind of bend, all with the same intention. And I've been in ones where people have just gone, "Let's just go harder, harder." And they almost get off on just how much, when people click into those having those little spiritual moments and they start crying and they start hyperventilating.

 

And I've watched people facilitating who are good at cracking, giving people warning that this is going to actually be a big one. It's the point of it. We've got lots of support, got other people who just get off on, especially in Wim Hof kind of community, people who have broken away, who just get off in taking people harder and faster and just initiating these. They want to see people shaking and they want to see people crying and yelling and they're like, "Yeah, I did that." Who don't hold it very well, so on and so forth. I mean, that's the biggest part of the breath world. That's the thing that you can get this real deep reward that I think is false for a lot of breath, people who facilitate breath. Because can you land people? Can you give them context? Can you give them an understanding that this is just a beginning and we want you to be able to sink your teeth into what you just experienced rather than just have this memory when you had your head blown off?

Benny:

Yeah. Yeah, there's a lot in that. And I think to summarise my answer to start with, it's almost why, it's one of the reasons why I choose not to run my workshops through the Wim Hof Method Academy. I just found, like I said before, I've kind of got that unique position, particularly being in the Northern Rivers and offering something like this with the training I've got and the experience I've got, I don't want to pigeonhole myself for a few reasons. I don't want to offer just a Wim Hof method course because then people are turning up with their expectations of whatever they are, and I'm only opening myself up to those types of people as well that are looking for that Wim Hof method experience.

 

Another reason is because those expectations are coming onto my workshops as well. So people have heard about other Wim Hof method practitioners. And on the whole, they're wonderful. And I know all the current practising Wim Hof method instructors in Australia, even if I haven't met them, we've at least talked or chatted in some type of group. But there's a whole lot of people who have done the training, who are no longer registered, who have gone on that journey, maybe bring the ego into it a little bit too much or that masculine energy particularly, and just trying to have breakthrough throughs. But you're exactly right. Do you have the training and the knowledge and the experience to safely bring those people back down, ground them again, integrate that experience, whether it's one-on-one or in a group? And in my experience, from what I've seen, that's a really dangerous part of our industry, for want of a better word. I don't know if it is even an industry, but it's kind of a movement of some sort.

 

What I really rely on for what I do is basically word of mouth. I don't go hard on the breathing. It's my favourite part of what we do. It's such a beautiful experience. But if we then bring super energy into it and start manipulating the breath in different ways, we're moving into different types of breathing for starters. I try and keep it a basic super ventilation so that anyone can do it, but we're getting the benefits, which we know we get through the Wim Hof method. But then again, especially with the workshops I do, accompanied by the sound that I use and I don't just have musicians there, so I've got sound healers there, which again, have that presence and training to be able to hold that space for people, which is really important. It's such a beautiful way to integrate any type of those DMT releases that people can have. It doesn't always happen for everyone, but it can really happen if it's done in a grounded way. If we slowly integrate that DMT release, we slowly come out of it. I would have to say it's a 100% positive experience for people. In other groups that I've joined, it's definitely not a 100% positive experience if it's not facilitated in the correct way.

Mason:

Is it kind of funny for you landing in, holding ceremonial space? Do you look at it sometimes and...?

Benny:

Yeah, a couple of things that I'm still not comfortable with. One, if anyone calls me a healer, I just see fire. Fuck, I'm not a healer. I'm an ex-lifeguard, firefighter. There's no way I'm a healer and I never want to be called a healer. If people feel healed in whatever capacity that is, that's epic. That is awesome. But that's all them, they've done that. All I've done is just create a space and given them some knowledge.

Mason:

Well, let's talk about the space. Can you give us some insight on what you've learned through the avenue that you've gone through about what the space, how to set up the space maybe and how to close the space and more of those invisible aspects that maybe you go through?

Benny:

To be honest, it just starts with an open hug. And I know that sounds so simple and dumbed down. But especially being a male myself, a lot of people come knowing my background because they might've seen me during the floods or heard me talk or whatever. And you'll know if you see me, I'm not your typical looking alpha male firefighter career in emergency services. And I never was throughout. I learned a long time ago that even in that industry, I don't want to be something I'm not. So I stayed fit and I worked out in the gym, but it was never to get massive and put muscle on. And I climbed my way up through that career, but not through yelling and screaming and throwing my weight around, what little weight it was. But it was just through, I suppose, being myself, being grounded, making calm decisions.

 

And so when someone steps into whatever space I'm using at the time, and that's another thing, I don't have a space. I'm completely mobile, so I need to take that into account as well. I choose my space a lot of the time, all the time for public workshops, but not all the time for private. I need to have something stable there. And for me, it just starts with an open hug to whoever. And quite often it's men that don't want to be hugged. And it might be a little awkward exchange, but it's just making sure that they feel comfortable and, "Oh, shit. Here's a guy who's open, he wants to hug." And that kind of sets the scene for the experience we're going to have because some of that, especially those hostages, can come in not wanting to experience or open themselves up or see the light that might exist on the other side, or possibly the shadow.

 

So being a very welcoming, opening experience. And those workshops that I have, the breath and ice and I have the sound healer there, they're always very connected people, spiritually, socially, they're always there as well, welcoming people as they come in. It's a very gentle start. And I think just the way I deliver, I suppose, critiquing myself from the outside, is I just walk around. I sit next to one person, I sit next to another, I just walk around, I let people chat. There's just no structure to it. I know where I want to achieve, where I want to go throughout the workshop, but I just don't want to talk at people for three hours. It needs to be interactive.

Mason:

Two questions.

Benny:

Yes.

Mason:

Everyone I'm going to say the first, I don't know, I want to talk about your own personal practise and energetic hygiene. Holding a space always comes with a very different energy of making sure your energy is really solid. So before we go to that though, we can't forget about that one, in terms of you've got all these ways that people relate to the business and the offerings. So there's the Wim Hof stuff and there's ice and there's breath and holding space, but what's the seed idea? What's the core evolutionary purpose of this offering? And I'm sure a lot of it's internal to you, but a lot of it is of the business and the offering itself, and you happen to be going in and energising it and facilitating it. So yeah, what's at the very core of the idea that led to you following a pattern that led to this offering being there?

Benny:

So this method particularly opened me up as a man. I held a lot of shit down, like a lot of men do, particularly in the industry that I was in. And that manifested into a series of injuries that I had. And like most men, I thought that was a physical injury, it manifested into a physical ailment. I went down the path of surgery for that, back surgery at 30 years of age, which was just crazy. Looking back on it, I don't regret it because I am where I am right now. And then after surgery, the pain came back and I wasn't healed as I thought I would. And I just realised that that was the culmination of a pattern of my whole life, of outsourcing my health. Which will be a wild concept for people that know who my wife is because she's a very skilled naturopath. But she let me live my life. And I went down the western medical route for years. And I just thought the more I pay, the more health I get in return. And of course that's not true.

 

And I had my own sort of awakening for the first time and I thought, "Well, I'm going to try something different." I found a lot of things. I found the Wim Hof method, but it helped me get out of pain, but what it did was open me up to anxiety and possibly parts of depression that I was experiencing after my injury, different parts of life that I had been neglecting. And for a man, that's a very confronting experience. And I was doing that by myself in my bedroom, on the lounge room floor as I was trying to heal myself from injury and finding myself in floods of tears for no reason and being ashamed and having all of these feelings, which are really common, which I didn't know at the time.

 

And anyway, I worked through that and I learned to love it. I learned that hey, having tears is just like experiencing a laugh. It's just part of the human body experience and feeling the whole range of emotions. And it's actually wonderful to get those out all the time. Not all the time, but on the appropriate occasion when we need it, and having a tool to access that. So me getting into instructing this method was mainly based around that, how it changed my life, how it opened me up to experience more of just the fundamental bloody goodness of being a human, being a man especially. I love it. It's fantastic. But a lot of us don't get to experience that. So I wanted to bring that into what I do, but in a more supportive environment. I didn't have that support. There was nothing around me, apart from my wife who I was hiding all of this shit from.

 

In terms of having that seed for the business. Yeah. It initially started with, "Well, this is something I enjoy doing and there's a need for me to do it to provide for my family." But there was a bigger, like I mentioned before, that North Star. There was a bigger calling for it. I wanted to build something around it. I wanted this to be the core of what I did. I just didn't know how to get there. And what I soon realised was shit, I'm actually curating my own community of people that really like this. And particularly, men who were really opening up and being ok with possibly crying and feeling that range of emotions. And I started to build that slowly over time.

 

And it's built up now into what is the core of the business, I suppose. And it's definitely not exclusively men. I mean, just this morning at Conscious Club, we had way more women than men, but I feel like men are really aligned to this because we get to do something physical. We feel like we're having a workout during the breathwork, but we get that opening as well. And it might just be opening and smiling and having a great time. It could be a flow of tears that we needed to get out for a few weeks. So I think that that was the seed, but the flourishing of the flower is now building that community and having something that I love to come to.

Mason:

Yeah, I like it when you get, because you grew fast at that phase and having talked to you at that event that we did for Sourdough. It was cool. You were just harping on values with such grounded, you were so furiously passionate about the values there. And if you just focus on it, and I kind of related to how when you're growing fast and you're getting a lot of attention and you get people coming in with certain assumptions, you maybe step away from Wim Hof a little bit so everyone doesn't come in going like, "All right, I've seen Wim Hof before and I know what I'm going to get here from you." You're like, "No," you're staying closely connected to this seed intention and these values that you hold to just keep it grounded and keep it connected to not letting it become a homogenised workshop that bends completely to what everyone else relates to it as or what's going to make sense in the market.

 

It's unique and it's got a unique feeling and it's always an interesting, I relate a lot because people are like, "Oh yeah, there's that mushroom guy." And I'm like, "Yeah, sure." You know, you're the ice guy. It's the same feeling. Also, it's nice to be able to go, Yeah, yeah. The mushroom guy," and just know that connected to the virtues of SuperFeast, it's so much more and mushrooms are a part of the pattern, the pattern that comes off that seed. And it's ok for people to relate to you as part of one of the branches and then never let go of that core idea.

 

Just hearing so much in terms of facilitating those experiences. It's just a big sense of what I get here. And that's a core part of it. Which it's interesting when because I'm sure people are going, "Why don't you just do this product? Why don't you do this online product?" And it's always some things seem really logical, I'm sure there's certain things that feel very logical for you to do, but because it's not about just creating a particular type of product, it's about this seed idea of facilitating these processes. Sometimes it takes a while for a product to emerge if it's going to be online, maybe it can never be online, so on and so forth. So it's always cool watching you kind of battle with that product universe and how it gets offered.

Benny:

I'm sure you would understand far more about this than I do, but I can see how people just make a carbon copy business from whatever model and make their fortune, sell themselves out, if you want to call it that. Just from the modest following I've got on Instagram, I could have sold myself out 10 times already from other business and other interests that have wanted to jump on board and just manipulate the following I've got for their benefit and pay me in the meantime. I do think you've got to be strong to do that and you do have to follow those values.

 

And interesting you mentioned before, that chat with Sourdough, I felt like an absolute fraud that day because we were giving a chat to startups and business owners and whether or not they're CEOs or whatever, all local people about wellness in business. And fuck, I don't even know if I call what I do a business and can I be giving people advice on business when I'm just stuck in the middle of it. At the moment, I'm navigating my own way in such a short time. So I did concentrate on values then because that's given me the direction at the moment. But there is going to come a time where, as SuperFeast has gone through, SuperFeast, I think I mentioned on the day, you had values to start with and that was SuperFeast. Then SuperFeast becomes its own beast and now you need to guide it, and it's probably got its own values and its own statements. And so I do see that that's going to happen and I'll navigate that when it comes, but not there yet.

Mason:

Yeah. I think, and not just the classic fraud thing because I know everyone in the entrepreneurial is just like, "No, get past that fraud. You're not an imposter." No, these are genuine, we're allowed to feel these things and they're not always negative. And I definitely know what you mean. But I can also see why I was invited and definitely see why you were invited in terms of, "My gosh, why is this happening so gracefully? How is this brand awareness?" Beyond the floods, the brand awareness is just cranked in this industry where how many people are coming through aware of the Wim Hof. It's hard to get attention in that space and then it's even harder to get differentiated in that space. And there's something just happening so naturally around what, and I think it's not about being grounded, I don't even think it's just that you've gone, stayed in your magic and you're slowly moving along and staying really in your integrity, I guess, for lack of a better word.

 

So yeah, that makes sense. And it's cool chatting with you about these things. You're up for all these ideas. You're not stubborn around, "Nah, nah, nah, that's not new. This is the way I do it." It's just like you are facilitating and you're shepherding this thing along. And so you're probably in the enmeshment stage where you kind of said at one point SuperFeast breaks out and it's like it's own thing and you're like, "Is it me anymore? Is it out there?"

Benny:

I'm at the markets at SuperFeast right now. That's the stage I'm at.

Mason:

Yeah. Which is a wild stage because it is still its own thing. But you need to keep it close and really get a finger on the pulse of what it wants to be, what is going to keep you around because you got to remain interested, which means it's got to stay connected to its core idea and start sprouting its pattern in accordance with what's going to keep you in interested. Because by all means, you could hand it over right now, but no one gave birth to it as you did. And so you are the one that's going to be able to align it with its core and its pattern better than anybody else. Which is what's needed right now because we've got so much homogenization in business and these offerings, and let's maybe not say the healing space, but we know what maybe some people want to relate to you as a healer, but we know around what they're talking about. It's a very ancient role to play where you create facilitation for people to undergo the connection to themselves and maybe a bit of an expression.

 

It is that place, we definitely don't want to start calling ourselves shamans because it's not appropriate, but if you track back thousands and thousands of years, which is what I always try to do in SuperFeast, I think what we all should try and do so we stay aligned to a lineage and then the integrity and the initiations kind of start emerging. You can feel where you're too much of a two-minute noodle and when you need to cool and chill out. You connect back to that original shamanic space where, yeah, you facilitate in simplification to keep the tribe healthy. Yeah, I mean, you can see what people are talking about when they do say you are a healer because you are in that realm, which is very funny creating businesses in that realm.

 

So your pace is really inspiring because I think that's what a lot of people in this area are trying to do. They're trying to connect the spiritual, genuine spiritual or lineage to a business offering and keep their practicality of paying our bills and savings, so on and so forth. And I think a lot of people talk about values and I've walked into so many businesses recently and they're like, "Yep, there's the values," and you just repeat them. And I'm like, "Take me on the journey through those values. I want to know what core principles lie and the constitution of the energetic and physical constitution of your business that says we act in this way, therefore the values emerge." It's not just something pretty on the wall. So I think that's what was really, I'm pretty sure that's why you were invited because there's some invisible skill you have, which is really cool to be around. Which for you is probably natural. Just take it slow, stay aligned. But it's amazing how many people are really trying to get that in business at the moment, especially around here.

Benny:

Well yeah, my previous experience, basically my whole career, values got you contracts. Right? So I was predominantly private industry and values of the company I was working for would change to align with a contract that they wanted to be awarded. So that would be aligned with the client, things like that. They're just chop and change. And for me, I didn't see any issue with that. There was no misalignment with me. I got work, I was happy, provided for my family. But I went through that awakening of myself with those series of injuries. And then one of the other things I did at the time was work with a mutual friend of ours, Nick Perry, who is just one of the world's beautiful men. And I ended up working with him for about two years and values was a part of that. And I had no idea what my personal values were.

 

It took me months and months to really figure that out. And that's when I really understood, shit, I kind of know who I am, I know what's important to me now and they've been super important to me since then. I mean, even in a time where I feel like I'm going to lose the ability to provide for my family, I stuck to those values. And I look back on that and I think I'm kind of proud of myself. That's an incredible thing to do. But in the business world, yeah, I think it's really hard to make that differentiation from a business who's really true to those values if they've got them and who's just putting them up there for a marketing ploy or to get more business. That's a hard one.

Mason:

It's a very hard one. Well, I mean, it's kind of nice on a broad level, you see purpose-based businesses coming about, but purpose is difficult to communicate. And again, the facilitation, you got to feel the purpose and you need to be at the inception points like you do in the breath and the lounge room. Healing yourself, I'm sure you feel the lightning bolt of this seed idea that would come as an offering outside of yourself and probably likewise at trainings. And then this is where I like being around this kind of business, where you've got a key steward of that idea. And where selling out happens is where I think we haven't become clear as the lead stewards ourselves exactly what these principles are and exactly how to explain the purpose, the seed idea in a way that allows other people to get a sense of it and feel it. And they're like, "Ah, OK, that's an objective. Now I know what this is for." And then build the business structure so tightly around ways that has walls around that heart of the purpose. And almost ensuring 100% through HR, through everything, that everyone is going to act in this way and this is how you tell if we're not working well because you won't feel the values emerged.

 

And it's such a long, it's just so hard to take your baby and then build a structure when you've never built business structure and you need some really typical business things and then you need some really atypical things. But when you're, I guess, like us, maybe like me, you see the typical things, "No, that means I'm selling out." And then you're like, "Oh no, actually, that part is fine. I need to build that in order to protect this bit." But as I build up that typical part of the business, then I need to go in and do a little bit more of the energetic documentation of what this core purpose is to balance it out. And then suddenly, you're back and forth, you're back and forth.

 

And then you see some people who have grown and you're like, "How could you possibly grow something from grassroots to this huge operation and still have me believe that there's a soul there?" And you walk in and then you go, "Wow, even though you guys are operating like a real business," which anyone in grassroots, you're like, "I'll never do anything. I'm going to be completely atypical and revolutionise it." When you walk in, you're like everything feels quite normal and you talk to people about what they're here for and they can communicate really, really strongly, "No, this is what is being facilitated here. This is the what we all sense and this is what we're up to." And everyone says it differently, which is always the best because the purpose-driven business at the moment is training everyone on the purpose statement and people are trying to pull rabbits out of a hat.

 

And that's what executives are trying to do. They're hiring funky young executives to come in and give them real convicted purpose statements. And it's just you can feel and see right through it, that they're trying to purchase something when they need someone going and almost facilitating what you are doing because you're helping everyone do this with their own values as well. You need people to be able to go and sit down and facilitate with you. I think we did this maybe a little bit when we did the Sourdough thing. I was like, "Everyone stop and drop into your heart and get a sense of why you started this, why you felt."

 

And then for you, you're walking along just like, "You're not going to get me out of this space. You're not going to get me out of the heart of this space and we'll see what emerges around it. I'm going to trust it." But I think it's just, it's cool. And I know the things go on somewhat in the background for you around, "All right, well, what is that next step? Bricks and mortar. Do you go?" There's probably potential to start going worldwide, keep it just you. Probably going into products. And I'm sure it will all kind of flower at the right time.

Benny:

Yeah, I just wanted to make light from the outside in. And I suppose I'm a little bit in because we get to chat and I hear about SuperFeast from your perspective as well, and you are the leader of this beast now, this beautiful beast. It's cool for me as, for want of a better term, a startup, to see that I can grow and I don't have to compromise on things. And yeah, I might need to have a profit and lost statement and I might to, I do have an accountant now, which blows my mind that I've got an accountant for this. But I'm obviously just learning to crawl in the business world and maybe going to take the first few steps soon. But it's cool to see that not only are there other people out there like that, who really want to keep that business aligned and it's going to run its own course, but it needs to stay within the parameters that you as the leader has have built it on. It's cool to see that it can happen.

 

Yeah, I mean, my wife, Liv, and I with, we've got a company together now, which we'll both start operating as. And yeah, we've got a few next steps to go and they're scary because I've got full control of what I do at the moment and ideas come up to me whether they've come to me in my own head or come from external sources. And I just get the choice yeah or no, what feels good, all right, maybe I'll do it and see how it goes. But I'm going to lose that ability somewhat because yeah, I'll grow, might have more responsibilities, might have rent on a commercial space to pay, might have other facilitators come in. But I just feel this time in this part of my life, I've never been in more alignment with what I do. It's always going to change, it's going to grow, it's going to shrink. The only constant thing is that it's going to keep changing because that's happened in the last 12 months. It just has not stopped changing. As long as I embrace that, I stay flexible, just keen for the ride.

Mason:

Yeah. What a ride? The last point I promised I wouldn't forget about it was because you are facilitating and the business business is going to start running and yeah, so you should have an accountant and get people bookkeeping and maybe someone's going to come in and start doing the booking. Because I think that's what often happens when you are holding the space that you've got, which is an important one and probably one that, I want to know if you'd probably start coming to terms with at some point, it's one that I would eventually be able to step away from and hand over to someone else to be able to come and work with me to do it. I don't know, maybe not.

 

But regardless, there's skills there that if let's just say at some point you want to take six months off and there's someone that you want to bring in and have them facilitate, what are you going to be sharing with them in terms of what you need to be able to have in your personal practise to stay healthy when you're holding a space for so many people? Because that's probably the most invisible, that's the thing I see getting missed when you're facilitating. I know when Tahnee, doing her organ work, she can't unless she's got a lot of space for her own personal practise to keep her Qi really strong. So where do you sit there? Is it anything that you have awareness of at the moment?

Benny:

Definitely, I have got really vivid example. So I find public speaking really stressful. It's not my forte and unfortunately in the public workshops there's 30, sometimes 40, people in front of me and I've got to hold that stage there for three hours. And I'm not talking the whole time obviously. But that's very confronting for me. And what I do for that is, I said before, I'm not the ice guy, but I do my own ice baths at home. I love them purely for the stress. I put myself, and I make my ice baths as cold as I can and I go in purely to move through that stressful state in the brain, come out the other side and I literally feel like nothing can get me that day or the next day. I get that dopamine hit. I'm feeling fantastic.

 

And I had a workshop in Sydney in December last year. Took the family down. My daughters had never seen the city. We did the full tourist things, saw some family down there that we hadn't seen for a few years in the week leading up to it. But I hadn't been able to breathe. We'd just been really busy and, I suppose, absent-minded from my own self and hadn't ice bathed at all. And got to the workshop and I had the onset of a panic attack. And after I got myself out of pain with my injury years ago and I went back to work, I found myself experiencing panic attacks. It was just due to that purging of all that shit inside me. And actually, there's a lot of science to that of how the cells flush themselves out of toxins, but that's how we can open ourselves up emotionally as well through that breathwork.

 

And so I experienced a couple of weeks of just severe anxiety while I was on the job and processing this, I suppose, traumatic experiences that I'd had. And I find now, if I don't ice bath and move through that stress, when I get in a stressful situation, it overwhelms me. The really cool thing that I had that day was, in front of 30 people, I was able to sit there and just tell everyone, "Hey, I know what's about to happen to me. I'm just going to need it 30 seconds here to chill." And I just closed my eyes in front of a group, just took a few deep breaths and I just felt this huge calm come over me. I felt like I'd just ran a marathon or kicked a winning goal in some sport. I just opened my eyes and I said to 30 strangers who I'd just met 10 minutes ago, "Hey, this is one of the reasons why I got into this. I've just had the onset of a panic attack. This is why. My own practise has dropped away. Thanks for hanging with me there. Let's get on with it."

 

And throughout that workshop, people just kept on bringing up what happened at the start and saying, "Shit, that happens to me all the time. How long do I have to keep up this practise until I can get to the point where I can move through a panic attack?" And so I had that really visceral moment of, "Fuck, this is the first time that I've really seen the power of what I'm doing to myself and how I can overcome all this stress in my life." And so, one thing that I would tell someone if they're going to facilitate on my behalf is you've got to practise what we're preaching here. I think my personal story that I let a bit out of in those workshops, it comes from personal experience. It's going to be different for everyone, that personal experience, but what I've got out of that practise, it's tangible. It saved a lot of parts of my life, didn't save my life, but it saved a lot of parts of my life and enhanced a whole heap of others. To the point where with that injury I had, I didn't think I was going to be able to play with my kids again or surf again or do anything I love.

 

And I've come out the other side of that with the Wim Hof method, but other practises as well. So you got to keep practising that or you lose touch with that. I can't just stand up in front of a group for the next 10 years and bang on about something I did 10 years ago, how it helped me. I've got to keep growing in that space. I've got to keep moving through that stress. And that's how I stay grounded. That's going to be different for everyone, obviously. I'm not telling everyone just to go and jump in a ice bath because I suppose that's one reason I don't like getting pigeonholed into the ice guy, but that really works for me.

Mason:

Your ice baths are really icy. It was funny, I'm sure you've been through this, and someone recently seemed to have, was just talking about a morning ice plunge, and they really scoffed at, they were like, "Oh, well, so much plastic." And I happened to be where they worked and could see that they were producing much more waste than an ice bath would be. And I was like, "Well, it's not using plastic." Benny goes down to the, you go down at the fishmongers now on the day before, or the morning of the day before.

Benny:

Yeah, I've got a commercial account at the fishing co-op and I can shovel my own ice into, I've got a trailer with ice boxes. So there's definitely no plastic waste.

Mason:

I mean, I definitely always think about it, I was looking at, there's so many ice baths and sometimes it fills me with mixed feelings. But at the same time, I'm always like, "Well, what are you doing? What's the core purpose of what you are doing here? Is it really? Do you live with no sin? What casts the first stone? Have you got no sin casting stones at people?" Maybe it's not synonymous with everyone doing Wim Hof or doing ice baths, but the intention's so beautiful at the core of it in terms of the manifestation of the capacity to control, to be able to go in and drop in and manoeuvre yourself through a panic attack or to will yourself into greater health or be able to overcome such fear of something that's so synonymous with living on this planet, cold and move past that. It is such a beautiful practise, I think. But I do love, loved going to your workshop and not having to see lots of those Bells ice bags there. That must have felt cool for you as well to get there.

Benny:

Yeah. Yeah, that took me a while to hook it up actually. The co-op people are a little bit set in their ways and wasn't a fisherman. I think I'm the first non-fisherman in 120 years to be able to consistently get their ice. So that was a bit of a boundary. But yeah, I think you did mention when we talked about this podcast, you wanted to cover off, cold plunging and ice bathing. And like you, I'm just a fan of getting cold.

Mason:

Yeah.

Benny:

I'm a fan of not sitting in comfortable conditions all day every day. And you don't have to go and sit outside without a shirt on for six hours to prove how manly you are or sit in the coldest ice bath you can. Yeah, I'm such a fan of just a cold shower. You know? I think the one problem I see is just how every man and his dog these days is a Wim Hof method instructor without any training because they've watched it on YouTube or read his book. We've also got a plethora of ice bath facilitators without any training at all. And I know of many in the Northern Rivers as well who are in commercial spaces putting people through 10-minute ice baths, they're calling it, which just blows my mind.

Mason:

I remember the one time I met Wim Hof, Tahnee and I were in there for about 8 minutes and he was like, "All right, all right, that's enough. Get out of here." And I was like, "Oh. Wow." Even Wim is like, "What's the point of going any further?"

Benny:

Yeah, I suppose it's just getting down to the crux of why you're doing it. Right? So what I would just like to see in this industry, or movement, whatever you want to call it, is almost like a protected term for an ice bath because we hear ice bath getting around everywhere. There's a lot of hate for ice baths as well. It's the new fad, it's the new green juice, it's the new fasting, whatever.

Mason:

Oh yeah, yeah. It's just gotten, well, anything that goes up that hard is going to get brought into harmony.

Benny:

That's right. And I think a lot of the prominence of it has to do with how much access we have to seeing professional sports people as well. And they're constantly in cold plunges. It might just be four or five bags of ice in a garbage bin or a bathtub, and they're doing that for athletic recovery, which is great. Ice bathing is a whole different thing. We're doing it for stress and we're doing it for a short period of time. We're trying to get our body into a deep state of stress to move through that stress and then get out. As soon as you have that shift that any practitioner who knows what they're looking for can see in a person, they've moved through stress, they're breathing calmly, you can get out because we've got half of the benefit that's moving through stress.

 

You jump out and then we build our body back to homeostasis where it likes to live. And that's the second benefit. That's where we build strength. So we get through stress and we build strength. If we can maybe protect that term into it has to be under five degrees and it has to have ice in it, that would be fantastic. Because what I see at my workshops is people who come in really confident because they've, what they would call, ice bathed quite regularly at their local gym or whatever, but they get into the ice bath with me, which has about 400 kilos of ice in it, and they go into a deep state of stress and shock.

Mason:

Because you can feel the ice everywhere. Right?

Benny:

Yeah. Yep.

Mason:

That was like, I feel like I've never had an ice bath like that.

Benny:

Yeah, I'm trying to trigger as much stress as possible. It's completely controlled and you're in a safe environment and everyone gets through that. Yeah. It's just a completely different experience for different reasons. If we could maybe protect that term and then people know, OK, you're just cold plunging or cold water immersion outside of that, or just cold exposure, having a cold shower or just going outside. There's, I suppose, different levels and different extremes to that. And we do it for different purposes as well. And just a severe lack of understanding in that.

Mason:

Well, I think it's also, I've got no interest in going into that extremist world, I've got enough access. I've had enough bitterness coming out of the wellness, the depth of wellness dogma and going, oh my gosh, so many people are getting plucked by this little dogma and some people getting damaged. A lot of people getting major benefits, so on and so forth. I'm not really interested in going there too far because I know it's just a part of the maturation process of us taking something which is a very intricate and essentially ancient practise and trying to find a way in commercial, in modern society where it fits. You're seeing everyone go too far with the cold and just almost get out and then be barefoot and just get more and more and more cold. And it's almost like a pissing contest of don't put socks on, don't put beanie on, don't have anything warm. And you look at all the Russians and they're hard, but a lot of them will go and rug up, no one wants to stay really cold, especially within...

Benny:

I can't stand the cold. I don't want to be cold all day every day.

Mason:

And that's kind of like thinking that we are meant to be able to do that as humans, I feel is probably, and a few people can, especially because they're young. They're in their mid to late twenties or early thirties and they've got real Yang constitutions and they're pumping the chi out. But you see that kind of becoming pervasive, that little pissing contest, and it's nice to be able to do it. It's nice to be that strong. But even the chi masters, at some point they'll show off their skill and then they'll go back and rug up. Humans aren't meant to be like that. And if you get cold in an ancient setting, you're screwed. It's really hard to warm back up. It's one of the biggest benefits of living in a society as we do. It's why I like having a bit of broth afterwards, everyone goes and gets a nice warm drink, everyone rugs up after your workshops. Yeah. But I'm curious as to where you are at with watching that all play out around you and everyone wanting to jump in for another one, go harder, go faster. What's the point? Are there different settings where you're like, "Yeah, I will work with you to break into an entire new place within your mind here, but once you get it, then calm down and come back to just a simple practise," how are you relating to it?

Benny:

Yeah, there's a lot to unpack there. I would like to see cold exposure broken down into a few kind of categories. So first of all, you would just have general cold exposure, which is just getting cold, swimming in the ocean all year round, swimming in waters and creeks and having a cold shower would be in there as well. And that's fantastic. Anyone can do it anytime. You just feel into it as a human and get back to being an animal basically. And feeling the whole realm of temperatures. Exactly the same as getting hot. Anyone can jump in a sauna and jump out. That's fantastic. Play around with that. Then you have cold water immersion, which is getting into a cold body of water, preferably up to the neck.

 

And I wouldn't class cold showers in that. The only reason is we have a lot of studies with cold water immersion where people are in a bath of controlled temperature at different temperatures and we know a shit load of what happens physiologically and psychologically when we're in a cold water bath. We don't have that data for a shower. I'm not a scientist. I don't think it would be that hard to run controlled studies with a shower, but we just don't have them. So I'd put just showers into cold exposure. Anything in a cold body of water would be cold immersion. And then we have ice baths. Ice baths would be defined with below a certain temperature, maybe five degrees, with ice in there. Right? Now, cold exposure, any of those forms, cold water immersion, that can be done by anyone. But any type of ice bathing would be done by a trained practitioner.

 

Now, just in the Northern Rivers, I know of so many spaces commercially that have these ice baths or cold plunges, and people are being facilitated by other people who don't have any training or qualification, it's just a bit of reading. And that's fine because they can do that at the moment. It's not a protected industry. I just think it's very dangerous because especially ice bathing, and even the colder temperatures of cold plunging, we're getting to the point where we seriously alter our physiology and we start messing with our hormonal patterns and our neurological system, stress levels, our psychological patterns. We really need to understand what we're doing in that. So I'm quite happy to see people just cold plunging under a protocol that they might have picked up off a Huberman podcast or something. That's fine.

Mason:

Hashtag science.

Benny:

Hashtag science. Trust the science. But we get to the point of ice bathing. And to answer your question, yeah, so many different things we can target in an extreme cold environment like an ice bath. You need to know what you're doing and you need to be supported while you're doing it. You should not just read about it and do it. You shouldn't do it by yourself. I just recently started a really cool programme with a mate of mine. We're just trialling out some different metabolic programmes, but that's some serious ice bathing. We're in, out, in, out, in, out, putting ourselves under severe stress. But the next morning when we wake up we're feeling that metabolic burn as well, we can fill that inside. So we know it's working. We're just doing our own testing, trying to understand the science that we've read. And that's fantastic. We know what we're doing. We're doing it together. I would never teach that to people until one, I understand it properly, and second, I know that person is going to do it responsibly. They've done the training with me and it's some type of properly designed course, which I don't have yet. I'm not going to be that loose.

Mason:

No, but you'll get there. You got to manoeuvre it. And then sometimes things do need to get out in the world and then it's going to be a little bit messy to begin with until, at some point, everyone goes, "OK, maybe we shouldn't have," I don't know what an example is, maybe we should call an authority and not just be vigilantes walking around here. But it takes a while for things to maturate. Are there any other major, first of all there people with listening to their major conditions that you would be like, "Yeah, you should really consider if you got this intention or this going on mentally or physically, you should really consider it." And likewise, are there any symptom-based things that you'd be like, "I'd really warn you off doing ice baths"?

Benny:

Yeah, definitely. And again, this is the type of stuff where untrained people just wouldn't know unless they've read the studies themselves. And me, myself, I don't know them all either. I'm not a medical practitioner. I'm not a scientist. I know what I've been taught and a little bit more of what I've seeked out for myself, and that's the extent of it. So definitely, I get questions all the time that are too curly for me and I pass them on to other people that have experience, whether it's our instructor group, whether it's practitioner friends of mine. I know a whole heap of conditions that I wouldn't recommend people to go into an ice bath for. Cold exposure, I would leave it up to them. There's some funny ones. For instance, we just for ethical reasons, don't have studies on children. So according to our science, and even my insurance, children shouldn't get cold. I mean, how crazy is that? They're born with the most significant amounts of brown fat that we have in the humans, but they're not meant to get cold. Having said that, I wouldn't put a child in an ice bath. But fuck, kids are cold every day. They love it.

Mason:

They love it when we have our outdoor bath filled up. They love going, jumping in and out of it.

Benny:

Yeah.

Mason:

Yeah.

Benny:

I get questions on certain chronic diseases all the time. Some of them I'm really familiar with and they should or shouldn't have an ice bath. One that I've had lots of questions about lately for some reason is Raynaud's disease. And that's one where there's no real answer. So the literature that I read and that I've been pointed to by GPs is that gradual cold exposure is actually fantastic for Raynaud's disease, but in general, it needs to be guided by the person who's suffering the disease. So for me as a practitioner, do I leave it up to them, am I covered by my insurance? Are all things that I need to take into account. If I'm doing that or if I've got Raynaud's disease and I'm asking someone who has no fucking clue what they're doing, where's the coverage, where's the due diligence? Those types of things I do worry about because I'm part of that industry.

Mason:

It's an interesting time. It's going to be an amazing time when we get to healing centres that are way more integrated. And there's quite a few doing hypothermia kind of based therapy in Germany. And I think China's got a lot of that healing tourism going on where they're really watching the optics on someone, taking them through that. But it's going to be great when that starts breaking out a little bit more, science starts breaking out a little bit more, bringing in even a bit of Chinese medicine there. You can understand what you need to be doing to get enough Qi to then be able to stay warm enough in your organs that you are eligible to then go and have that kind of cold exposure. All that stuff's going to be really fun when we get, because it is a healing thing.

 

And a lot of people who are not 100% in terms of a lot of people are coming because they have a symptom or they have a mental health symptom or stress symptoms and it's going to be very different when you come, it's a lifestyle kind of based healing modality a lot of the time, but it is a healing modality for people to go and approach. And it's a very different feeling when you're like, "I don't have anything I'm particularly working on," now the whole flavour changes in terms of you go out of a clinical setting and you start going into a, I don't even know, just a basic, keep it up as a habit that keeps me quite healthy and find a sweet spot for it. So yeah, it's must all be fleshing out. But I mean, my gosh, the big part of the population's discovering it right now. And so it's not like it's getting simpler.

Benny:

And even for me, I'm still learning. I'll always be a student. One thing that's clear as day for me is when I did my training, the ice baths, for me, were not an emotional experience. I'd move through stress and I'd feel every ounce of that stress and I'd come out the other side and my thought patterns would be clear and I'd feel great. I enjoyed the dopamine hit, but there was not one ounce of emotional release in there. And when we did our module about what we move through in the ice and when we covered the emotional releases, I probably didn't pay attention that much because I thought, "Well, this doesn't happen very often to me." Hadn't facilitated anyone through an ice bath. And then I started doing my workshops and I saw firsthand proper emotional releases, which I experienced through breathwork, people were having through ice baths.

 

And so I thought, "Shit, I better get a bit more skilled up on this because I need to know how to properly support these people through it. I know how to support them through the breathwork, but maybe I didn't pay enough attention." And I retrained and I talked to people and I sat with people. And I suppose since then I've got a couple of thousand people who have been through my ice baths, I've got that experience, and I'm still learning. I'm still growing in that respect. And that's all parts of what I do. There is not one, there's no average person in history, there's no such thing. We know what the average of a group of people is, but there's no such person as the average person and there's no average experience that happens in either the breathwork or cold. It's all different every time.

Mason:

Hell yeah. Maybe next time we have a chat, we can just jump into all the intricacies of all the benefits and maybe just upping the IQ of everyone listening and how they can go about making sure that they're getting the absolute max out of this. Go maybe a little bit deeper on the emotional journeys and the stress responses. Want to talk a little bit more about the brown fat and that mobilisation.

Benny:

Love to.

Mason:

I think that'd be fun. Yeah. Get into maybe the herb pairing or maybe a bit of...

Benny:

And that's a classic example of me learning. Since we've connected, my knowledge of herbs, tonics, Taoism is minute and just hearing your insights into what you do can support what I do, it's so tangible. And Mase, you gifted me some herbs to try in conjunction with cold exposure at home and just really feeling that connection. And now all of my punters at the Conscious Club are on that journey as well with broth and Qi herbs. And there's just so much to learn, hey?

Mason:

Yeah. I mean, it's slowly coming together. These are also ancient old ideas and they get so isolated when we first integrate them into the west and specialise and then we start spilling over into each other's areas and that's when synergy and alchemy happens. And we need to become more of an organism, kind of like a global village without being a one world government somehow. And the only way, but yeah. Yeah, I think likewise, for me, getting back into, "Why do I want to do this?" I love getting into really cold, wild bodies of water and was just like, "I'll just do that." But then seeing the difference there between an ice bath and even being in a freezing cold river, having them be very different. And I'm quite stressed at the moment with just basically what's going on in life and just remembering that's there and getting a bit of an extra idea.

 

And then that takes me into thinking about how do the herbs work for me? Having a bit of a cinnamon extract and a ginger, something like ginger and some Qi herbs afterwards, just make sure. I'm not pumped full of chi at the moment, so my organs are a little bit more prone to getting cold. So just a little bit more of that. And then it reminds me, gosh, I got to keep up my physical practise. I really should be like I want to be able to walk in and out of that ice bath and feel my organs were able to cop it and warm up or even stop that cold from really getting in. And that's a good practise for the chi. It's really healthy for that accumulated Qi of the Spleen to get activated and get into that defence, that stressed out spot and push the cold out because you want to be able to do that. Because if you can push the cold out, you can push the wind out from your skin.

 

That's what makes you really robust. And so that's an example of, yeah, the ice baths are incredibly magic. That's one thing I've kind of started really exploring again, making sure I've got that base level of health. So yeah, man, I think another part would be great. Going through our protocols. Maybe we should think about it, think about them all a little bit more. And I got a little product development thing I'm developing. I'll give you, it was specifically for this scenario for cold plunging. So I'll go and give you a couple of those and hopefully be able to tell you guys about it soon.

Benny:

Great.

Mason:

But everyone should jump over to Your Mate, Benny on Insta. And then website?

Benny:

So probably by the time this comes out, the website will drop. So that's my wife, Olivia, and I, and it's solhouse.studio, solhouse.studio. She'll be practising under that banner. Haven't really put it out publicly yet, but probably not this year because we are having a third baby.

Mason:

Are you?

Benny:

Yes.

Mason:

I did know that.

Benny:

Yeah. So yeah, mid-June we'll be having a baby and she'll be in the baby cocoon for a while. But probably kicking off next year, she'll practise under that banner. I'll practise under that banner. And we'll just keep growing with a few more offerings under that.

Mason:

Heck yeah. Thanks for coming in, man.

Benny:

Thanks, mate.

Mason:

So good to chat.

 

 

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