Mind Mastery Is Life Mastery – Ep#063 Justin Caffrey, Elite Mindset Coach
There are a lot of things in this world that we can’t control. But the one thing we do have 100% control over is how we choose to interpret the events in our lives. People who recognize this and undertake the courageous inner journey to work on their mind and emotions and listen to the wisdom of their bodies are able to tap into remarkable self healing powers to overcome all kinds of adversity.
Today’s special guest is an inspirational example of what can happen when we become the masters of our minds by finding the medicine in life’s challenges. He’s Justin Caffrey a recognized thought leader in Mindfulness, Resilience and Wellbeing based in Ireland.
After the traumatic loss of his son in 2011, Justin turned to Buddhist psychology, eastern healing and neuroscience, to help aid his own recovery. He would come to leave behind a prestigious career in the finance world to become a highly sought after coach and speaker spreading the message of holistic health and authentic living.
Learn More: https://www.justincaffrey.com
Meditations and Classes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZgSMnIHmDKGMecLoh7QKZw
Join His Free Mindfulness Master Class: https://www.justincaffrey.com/courses-1
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.
Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello, and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening today. So we’ve all heard the famous quote. Life is 10%. What happens to you and 90%, how you react to it and underscores that when it comes to the quality of our lives, attitude is everything. Our attitudes inform our feelings, actions, and results. There are a lot of things in this world that we can’t control, but the one thing we do have 100% control over is how we choose to interpret the events in our lives. People who recognize this and undertake the courageous inner journey to work on their minds and emotions, listen to the wisdom of their bodies are able to tap into remarkable self healing powers and overcome all kinds of adversity.
Christine Okezie (1m 8s):
Today’s special guest is an inspirational example of what can happen when we become the masters of our minds. By finding the medicine in life’s challenges, he is Justin Caffrey, a recognized thought leader in mindfulness, resilience and wellbeing based in Ireland. After the traumatic loss of his son in 2011, Justin turned to Buddhist psychology, Eastern healing and neuroscience to help aid his own recovery. He would come to leave behind a prestigious career in the finance world and become a highly sought after coach and speaker spreading the message of holistic health and authentic living. I can’t wait for you to listen to this inspirational conversation that reminds us that while others can support us, the ultimate power and responsibility to create the life we desire rests within ourselves.
Christine Okezie (2m 2s):
And if you do like the episode, I’d be grateful if you could leave a rating and review, and if you haven’t already hit that subscribe button, please do so. It helps people find the podcast more easily. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the episode and welcome Justin to the podcast. Thanks so much for being here today.
Justin Caffrey (2m 20s):
Thanks Christine. It’s a pleasure to join you. I appreciate it.
Christine Okeze (2m 24s):
Thank you. So I would love if you would, please start out with just telling us your story and what, what catalyzed you on your journey and the space that you work in now.
Justin Caffrey (2m 36s):
Sure. Thanks. I suppose the catalyst for me was PTSD post traumatic stress, and it was something that, that crept up on me after the, the loss of our second child 10 years ago. So our second son Joshua died just before his first birthday. And that really in terms of how I felt I was dealing with it. And then how I was dealing with it were really two quite distinctly different things. I kind of wrote in from the, you know, macho strengths position of, I can get through this.
Justin Caffrey (3m 21s):
I can get over it. And, and even after Josh was death, I was probably advocating and probably would have even went to the podcast. If I was, if I was asked to say, you know, we can get through these kinds of things. It’s okay. And you know, you’ve just gotta find your passion and move forward. And my passion was building businesses like an extensive career predating Joshua’s life and death, where I worked in private equity and built and sold many businesses. So four weeks after Joshua’s funeral, I set out to build another company. And it took me two years into that to be hit one day with a panic attack.
Justin Caffrey (4m 4s):
And in contrast, I could see that my wife was grieving in nature. She was walking in the mountains, we’ve got a new dog. We moved from the UK to Ireland after, after we lost Joshua. But I thought, oh yeah, that’s kind of how women grieve. And this is how men grieve and that doesn’t work. Okay.
Christine Okezie (4m 27s):
Oh my gosh. Okay. So you, it, it took you to down the path of working with Eastern healing systems. What about Eastern healing really clicked for you and resonated?
Justin Caffrey (4m 39s):
Well, I think from, from the point of view of when PTSD came and, and really took hold of me, which was 20 13, 20 14, I had a panic attack and I had that in a really important meeting. I had some clients in from the middle east and the us and our European office, and I sustained a panic attack for 20 minutes. I’m thinking maybe it’s a heart attack. Maybe it’s a struggle, not too sure which it is, but I think I can survive. I’m okay. Obviously feel like only one side of my body was losing sensation where peripheral vision had completely failed.
Justin Caffrey (5m 21s):
My heart was going to pound out of my mouth, but I kind of resorted back to, you know, stay strong and, and push through. And it was from that point on, I, I, I flew back home after that meeting and my wife just said to me, look at your heart. I really don’t think you’re particularly well. You know, and, and it’s really all happened, which is quite astounding in terms of mental health. I really fell apart over the course of about four or five weeks. I’ve been to hold it together relatively well, but then all of a sudden it just fell apart.
Justin Caffrey (6m 4s):
And in terms of how that unfolded, it was a huge challenge to try and understand what was going on with the panic attack, I think is like the body’s way. If it’s tapping you on the shoulder for weeks beforehand and sore throat. So I had a cold, I was rundown, there were things wrong with it. For me, I had IBS asthma. I had all these things. They’re all appearing. This doesn’t make any sense. Yeah. And then bomb, I was hit and take it out. And I, I, I come from a home where I grew up with my father is struggling extremely, but mental health.
Justin Caffrey (6m 47s):
He was institutionalized when I was a teenager, he was chronically depressed and suicidal. He had electric shock treatment in the AACS and once this came, I thought I can face what my dad has been through. I need to find another way. And, and Eastern practices has always resonated. I did a lot of martial arts when I was a kid. So it was, it was a natural inclination to go there. So I started to research and I wanted to find, you know, psychological support without medication. That was my key focus.
Justin Caffrey (7m 29s):
And I was already pumping. God knows how many steroids into my body for all of the things that, you know, I I’d struggled with since Joshua died, my body was literally dying from the inside out. So I found a, I found a psychiatrist, Dr. Pretty Pachardo who is of Indian origin, but he’s trained and worked in London and Dublin for the last twenty-five years. And about 15 years ago, he gave up on Western psychiatry and reverted to a practice, which is a mix of his cultural background. He’s a Sufi by tradition and religious interests and a lot of teachings that he learned from his grandfather as well.
Justin Caffrey (8m 19s):
And he built a practice that was completely away and separate from anything that he’d experienced in normal psychiatry. And he called it, it’s a mouthful, subjective, emotive, brief therapy, CBT. And I started with him and meditation was a cornerstone of that. Plus, you know, looking at your diet, your nutrition, et cetera. And I was in therapy with him for nine months. And it’s really about getting right in and close to your pain and learning how to help your nervous system refined homeostasis. And we did that work and I felt better than they ever did before.
Justin Caffrey (9m 3s):
And I asked him to teach me which he did. And, and then I went back to my shareholders and my board directors two years later and said, I’m leaving the world of high finance, but I want to become a holistic healer.
Christine Okezie (9m 20s):
That was a change. Yes. Oh my gosh. And have you left that world completely and, okay, so you don’t consult anymore from that perspective, but I imagine a lot of the folks you worked with and you’re familiar with really could benefit from this work.
Justin Caffrey (9m 39s):
Yes. I mean, I probably, my, my kind of practice in terms of my business now is split between half of my work is probably with alpha type personalities in leadership who are struggling or considering, you know, when’s enough or, you know, what am I trying to achieve here? So I do a lot of work around that and coaching at a board level in progressive companies. And, and the great thing is that that pays very well. Hopefully none of them are listening and I then get to, to work trauma therapy with individuals on the other side, which doesn’t pay well and the nature of private work in trauma, but I get to give back and help people.
Justin Caffrey (10m 32s):
Who’ve struggled in many ways with trauma and their nervous system. And, and that’s, that’s hugely fulfilling now in my life compared to finance, which really is fantastic. It brought me a lot of material possibilities to allow me to live my life like this, but you certainly don’t ever feel like you’re doing anything particularly. Mm Hmm.
Christine Okezie (10m 56s):
I think to feed your soul and
Justin Caffrey (10m 58s):
You know, no thing to feed your soul. Definitely not.
Christine Okezie (11m 2s):
Thank you so much. That’s beautiful. I appreciate that. So in your own words, you know, tell us a little bit more about, like, what do you think the effects of holding on to trauma, to holding onto loss, these heavy emotions? What does it do in the body, in your work? What are you, what do you know about that?
Justin Caffrey (11m 20s):
Well, I often try and describe it best to people. As you know, I will say to them, imagine if you were just tightly cleansing your fists, you know, if you clench your fist and you held your fist really tight, I get them to do that. And you know, when you’re listening, now you can try it. And just almost your fingers are kind of burying into the, into the Palm of your hand. And as you clench, you have tightness throughout the arm and it comes all the way up to the shoulder. But I say to them, if you were holding that for hours and hours, days, days margin the throughout the entire framework of your muscular and skeletal system, but also the energy attached to just doing that again, even if I hold it now for a minute, I’m feeling it and trauma we hold onto within the body.
Justin Caffrey (12m 9s):
So it’s, it’s fantastic that we have these incredible bodies and minds that were built in order to allow us to become, you know, the top of the food chain in terms of where we are in nature. Not that we should then abuse that, but that’s another story. But the idea that we would have once been experiencing trauma and then need to get through it is a way that we survive. So 500 years ago, it wouldn’t be unusual for our ancestors to be involved in, in a bottle. And, you know, you might see your family killed. So the, the focus from a human survival is to procreate, to feed yourself and to seek shelter.
Justin Caffrey (12m 54s):
So after we would see something usually traumatic, we’d have the capacity to then be able to compartmentalize it and put it to the back of our mind and then find another partner and another possibility to procreate and keep going. And that’s a very, very capably and impressive mechanism that humans would have used to keep going. However, you know, 500 years later, we have stress that’s constant. So not only do we have to face the traumas and trauma again, which, which, you know, well, Christine is so different, like one person’s experience of a relationship breakdown or the loss of a job or COVID is very different to another person.
Justin Caffrey (13m 40s):
So we can’t just say define trauma based on, on, on the thing. But what I like to be able to show is I can recover from the death of my son and it helps people see that there is a recovery from whatever you face, but recognizing that the trauma gets locked in, it’s held within the body. And, you know, if you look at Chinese medicine, we would take the idea of it, just, it blocks it to find she, you know, the, the movement of energy. So the more you try and block things, you can keep going, but everything slows down. And then we’re often matched with other oppositions in our life that we kind of pop in and locked down.
Justin Caffrey (14m 24s):
And it’s really a case of, you know, having a vessel that’s capable of dealing with so many things, but once it gets to the top and exactly how I had a panic attack, it’s like, sure, Coker starts to shake. You know, there’s no space left anymore and the body is just falling apart. But as we on picket, I get really close to trauma. Like for me, I didn’t want to deal with Josh was death because I’d only ever see him in his last moments dying. But when I went into therapy and when I got very close to his death and revisit it over and over again, like replaying the tape in my head and accepting it, what happens is we can start to move these traumatic memories from the subconscious part of the brain where it’s trying to protect you.
Justin Caffrey (15m 13s):
Right. But move them into the conscious part of the brain. And then behind that trauma, I then found, ah, 11 months of nice memories and great times when we’re together as a family and huge appreciations for everything that he brought into our lives. And then the memory gets filed differently. So now I can say he died and Josh was dead, you know, which is, which is a harsh language, especially when you talk about a child. Yes. But I’m able to own the reality and then the ownership it doesn’t consume anymore.
Christine Okezie (15m 49s):
Yes. And you’ve, reimprinted different emotions and feelings with the memory and the occurrence. And I think this is really, this is the alchemy of being able to work with our, our thought and our mind essentially, you
Justin Caffrey (16m 3s):
Know, and it’s extraordinary, you know, like, I mean, they, didn’t, the neuroplasticity of the human brain is just completely bonkers and so understood. I mean, it’s like we don’t spend enough time realizing that how, how we feel about ourselves and what we say to ourselves can change. And it’s even, I was thinking today, I was just walking back from the cafe, going to grab my coffee. And I had a text from somebody and I read it first and I thought it said something else. And that really produced a huge emotion of concern. I looked at it again. They went, oh, no, that’s not what they said. And I just smiled and thought, isn’t it funny that just words on a phone can have such a profound impact on our mood
Christine Okezie (16m 48s):
And our visceral effect, you know, and this, this, this is, what’s so fascinating. And I love you. You write in one of your, in your, in your blogs, you make the, you know, relevant revelation that when it comes to the psychology and the study of the mind in Western world, it’s only a little over a hundred years old. Right. Whereas we’re going back into again, Eastern healing, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, thousands of years, mind and body have been inseparable. They’re an integrated system. And it’s very, I’ve no, I’ve never heard anyone kind of lay it out that clearly. And that really encapsulates it. Right. Is it, so again, to our point, we were talking about this before we started recording. There’s nothing new age about this.
Christine Okezie (17m 29s):
You know, it, it it’s quite, you know, ancient wisdom at its best at its core.
Justin Caffrey (17m 34s):
Yeah, totally, totally. I mean, I’m some, my, my own personal practice, I, I was exposed a few years ago to a Japanese tradition called Shendo and Shanda is a mix of Buddhism and Shinto. But the, I suppose the cornerstone of the practice is some of the teachings of the butter, which are, which are very enlightening and beautiful. But the main focus is I’m nature. Your nature, the trees are nature of the animals or nature. The sky is nature. The air is nature of the plants in my room or nature. And it’s the more, the more we can maintain our connection, the happier we are.
Justin Caffrey (18m 18s):
And the further we disconnect, the less happy we are. And it’s that idea of recognizing that we are in terms of a oneness within the planet and, and then each other. So we need people and we need connection to the earth and these things on their own, you know, bad news for pharmaceutical companies, but on their own, those things can help you feel so much better without having to take medication, not to say that medication absolutely at times is a hundred percent needed, but healing in terms of slowing down, paying attention to yourself, listening to the wisdom of your body and being in nature is astounding.
Christine Okezie (19m 4s):
It’s fundamental. And thank you. So, yes, of course, we, we can appreciate the benefits of Western medicine and especially when dealing with acute situations, you know, but I’ve found it to be true, that there’s a lot of lip service and emptiness when it comes to their ability to talk about preventative care, you know, and how to really kind of live, you know, live healthy. You know, I it’s, there’s such a distinction when you go to a doctor in Western medicine, they’re always looking for what’s wrong, you know, and, and it’s, it’s, it’s kind of, you know, interesting to think about that. Cause you know, you don’t get credit for being healthy. You don’t get credit for, you know, staying ahead of, and we all forget that, I think.
Christine Okezie (19m 45s):
And so to your point, when we come about stress and anxiety and you know, in the age that we’re living in now we’re getting warning signs all the time, right? That, that I call it like the pressure. It’s like a pressure cooker. We need a release valve. And if we don’t find those release valves on our own terms, well, like to your point, we exploded and the body has a very defined way of getting our attention otherwise. Right.
Justin Caffrey (20m 12s):
Hopefully I remember having IBS, leaky, gut asthma, chronic sinusitis, multiple allergies, chronic pain, migraine, and seeing all these different doctors and consultants. And at no point was anybody saying to me like, emotionally, how are you? You know, anything happened that we need to know, but oh yeah, my child died. Nobody asked the question. He was like, let’s treat the symptom with more but more steroids. So let’s inflame body because the body’s already inflamed because it’s an emotional pain. And we were just pumping fuel on top of the fire.
Christine Okezie (20m 50s):
Wow, my goodness. Thank you. So why do you think it’s so hard for people to pay attention to those signs? Why is it so hard to get out of, and you said you work with sort of alpha type personalities, you know, go, go, go, go, go to the max. Why is it so hard to get out of those self-defeating patterns?
Justin Caffrey (21m 12s):
Conditioning is, is a key part of it all. You know, I think especially behind alpha type personalities, you’ll always find something generally in my experience, in, in the parenting side. And whilst I had, my father was really unwell. My mother was, you know, if she, she was, she was, I was born in 1975. If, if, if it was 20 years later and my mother probably would have been, you know, a multimillionaire, but she was in the wrong space and the wrong time, but she was volunteering. She was involved in some of the organizations. She was always busy. You know, when you had to be busy, get out, be active, keep going, keep going.
Justin Caffrey (21m 54s):
Yeah. So I think a lot of us get to get a script when we’re younger and that’s the desire that we’re pushing for. And often when I’m working with people and they’re, and they’re stressed or they’re trying to re-evaluate their lives or find which one of your parents did, you want to pay attention to you and they weren’t paying attention to you, you know? So it’s like, yeah, maybe your mom comes to all of your soccer games and your, and your father was absent. Maybe the relationship was broken up or maybe he was in the relationship, but he wasn’t at your games. And you find them that there’s an aspiration to get that person to pay attention. And we carry that into our adult life.
Justin Caffrey (22m 34s):
So you’ll often find that the boss that you’re trying to impress looks like the parent who wasn’t paying attention and you repeat the pattern. So the, the, the obsessive nature of getting ahead is generally, and quite often, not for your own benefit, it’s often for the optics of everybody else. And that’s at the behest of what’s going on. It’s kind of like, you know, you’re, you’re, you’ve jumped out of yourself and you’re kind of running alongside, looking at your own body desperately trying to get ahead and running out of fuel, but you’re forgetting, oh yeah, I’m actually in control. If I jumped back in again and just stop and refuel and take care of, then we can move ahead.
Justin Caffrey (23m 16s):
So it doesn’t, I don’t think we need to say if we, if I take care of myself and I pay attention to myself as that selfish, it’s more a question of, I need to just take the time to make sure that I’m in good shape and then I can achieve all the things that I want. But my mantra for people is the idea of just doing less to accomplish more like slow down, do less slow down, and then you have greater focus. The termination.
Christine Okezie (23m 46s):
Thank you. Yeah. And so paradoxical, right? Yeah. Against conditioning and societal expectations and norms, especially in the finance world, in the high finance world, you know,
Justin Caffrey (23m 59s):
Take a painkiller, you have a sore troth, take a painkiller, you have the flu take painkillers. So all the time, your body’s basically saying to you look, pay attention. My teacher, Dr. Pretty, I said to me, you have a sore head. You lie down and go sleep. You have a sore throat. You take a day off and you rest and you give your body what it needs. And in that basic principle of just minding yourself, you have a radical change in terms of your own health regime,
Christine Okezie (24m 28s):
Couldn’t say it any better. And, and to your point about covering up the symptom, it becomes, it just creates more and more layers, you know, you know, popping the pill and the medication, treating the symptom. So getting to that root cause, you know, and that can be an addiction to busy-ness to an addiction to kind of, you know, gotta do, gotta do is we literally lose connection. And I think that’s what I want to talk to you about meditation is, you know, how has meditation changed your life? And you know, how do you invite people, you know, in your world who are in this cycle of stress, anxiety, how do you invite them to slow down and explore meditation?
Justin Caffrey (25m 9s):
I think the best way that I describe that to somebody is if somebody comes to reach out to me and they want to work with me, and then I bring in the idea that part of the recovery plan and the structure that we’re going to build, there will be some meditation in there. And then there might be, I don’t really know if want to do that. My, my immediate response is, well, you know, look, you’re here because what you have been using and doing hasn’t really worked out so well. So the alternative to always moving is to stop is to slow down and to invest in yourself. And I always refer back to my first account for meditation, with my teacher and in my first therapy session.
Justin Caffrey (25m 57s):
And he said to me, look, you’re going to have to do some homework. And that will include some meditation, not, not immediately because as you probably know, Christine as well, like people who are really ill meditation and mindfulness is not necessarily the right first step because you kind of open yourself up to a lot of things very quickly. So depending on how people are in their frame of mind, if somebody is really chronically, stressed and anxious, I would slow down, be in nature. Breeze, do a lot of that before you go to meditation. But he said to me, in that first consultation, if you do the homework and you know, you can focus and bring herself to have 20 or 25 minutes every day for you before you do anything for anybody else.
Justin Caffrey (26m 42s):
He said, not only you feel better than you do right now, which was pretty bad. I was, I was right on the cusp of planning my own suicide from her in this conversation. But he said, you will feel better than you’ve ever felt before. And as somebody who’s driven and determined as I was in my business life for many years, I just thought, well, okay, that’s a no brainer. So I just follow what you do. And I can be more effective than I’ve ever been before. Great. Where do I sign? And that opened me up to meditation. And, and generally for, I rightly for alpha type personalities, they, they really want to quite well because it’s like, here’s a formula for you to become a more effective human.
Justin Caffrey (27m 30s):
And I don’t say to people, I’m not saying let’s become the 2.0 or the better version of you or anything else let’s say to people, what would it be like to just be you to make that like authentic connection back to yourself and then see what it’s like to really inhabit your Bali, your body in a whole sense of the word, you know, not constricted by medication or anxiety or stress. And they liked that and they get it. I think a lot of the times for holistic approaches for non alpha personalities, which is, which is the majority of, of society, it can be challenging because if you want to heal in a holistic standpoint, you have to be willing to wake up every day, show up for yourself, do the work that’s needed, you know, watch your diet, watch your sleep, watch your meditation, get your movement in, hydrate your body and then go to bed and then get up and do it again.
Justin Caffrey (28m 24s):
And that can be quite monotonous. You know, that’s why the drive and the termination of the pharmaceutical companies wins. And the broad spectrum, because the option is do all this work over here or take the blue pill.
Christine Okezie (28m 37s):
Right, right, right. But it’s like a credit card, you know, eventually you’re going to have to pay the credit card. And then, and so that’s the idea again, you know, that sort of short term, you know, fixed, but not really a long-term benefit, quite the opposite longterm, you know, cost.
Justin Caffrey (28m 55s):
So yeah. I gave a talk to the European ME Association a few weeks ago, and these are extraordinary group of people who know absolutely everything there is to know about their nervous system, the Vegas nerve. Wow. What they knew was, was incredible. So it was really rich to have a conversation with an audience and it was maybe three or 400 people in, in my talk. And then at the end, some people were asking questions and I had to, I had to be really blunt and harsh with them because I said, look, I’m going to say some things that are difficult. And I think the biggest, the most important thing that somebody ever said to me was nobody’s coming to save you.
Justin Caffrey (29m 38s):
You have to do the work yourself. Yeah. And I said, as the father of, of a child who died, I expected there to be, you know, a bright light and something magical that would save me, but I realized I need to do the work. And for people who are struggling with autoimmune and chronic diseases what’s needed in terms of consistency is huge. And a couple of the people who came on and asked questions, they said, oh, you know, I’ve tried meditation for a while and that didn’t work. And then I tried, you know, intimate fasting and that didn’t work. And then I, I was using cold water therapy and I was really trying to express the fact that it’s bringing a broad church of experiences and being consistent is where you find the solution.
Justin Caffrey (30m 22s):
Christine Okezie (30m 23s):
Thank you. That is the key word. There is consistency, right? Because it’s the energy that you bring that creates that consistency that ultimately is the medicine I found, right? It’s that switch off that says I’m worth the time and attention I’m worth the time and effort. And it’s a heroic journey. You know, it really is to be able to, as you said, you know, we’re not glossing over, we’re going straight into, you know, from a relative perspective into the pain, into the suffering, into the parts of ourselves that maybe we don’t want to look at, you know, that we’ve spent a lot of energy over the, you know, our lifetime, you know, not wanting to look at that consistency. And that’s a really important thing, I think in holistic health, because to your point, I have the same, you know, kind of experiences people.
Christine Okezie (31m 8s):
Well, you know, I tried this and I tried her essential oils and I tried, you know, transcendental meditation. I tried yoga and there’s no fix. Those are tools. You know, those are practices designed to facilitate an internal process. Right. And in fact, that’s really interesting because these days we might even get caught up. And to say that we kind of are vulnerable to that allopathic approach still with all the menu of holistic tools. Right. You know, so consistency is important, internal commitment, conscious commitment, really important to in, in your work, what do you, what’s the non-negotiable in your self-care?
Christine Okezie (31m 51s):
Like, what did, do you have a morning routine, an evening routine? What does that look like for you?
Justin Caffrey (31m 58s):
So the non-negotiable is sleep. You know, I will say to people all the time, you can, you can do everything else. You can have meditation, cold water therapy, breath, work, the right diet, intimate and fast and go plant-based everything that you can possibly imagine. But if you don’t sleep enough, your body just believes there’s always something wrong. So we’re, we’re predisposed that if we’re not sleeping, our nervous system, things, we’re under threat something’s happening. So it says, Hmm, I’m tired, but I won’t sleep because something’s wrong. So you kind of then move into this cycle of insomnia. So what happens is you start sleeping with one eye open and then people will always say, oh, I’m being treated for insomnia, but insomnia is a symptom of something else.
Justin Caffrey (32m 46s):
So often it’s the anxiety or stress. That’s what, even if you’re super healthy. And as a classic case at the moment in Europe, we have the European football championship on where all the countries are playing football against each other. And last night was the semifinal. Normally I go to bed at like 9 30, 9, 45, if I’m really going to be living it on the wild side. And I stayed up last night with my 14 year old and my wife and we watched it and I went to bed at quarter to 12, but I always wake up at 5:00 AM. So my, my circadian body clock just moves always to like a per five.
Justin Caffrey (33m 27s):
So I knew that I went to bed at a quarter to 12, and then I wake up at five. So I’ve had like five hours sleep today. And I knew that we’re talking today. So I needed to find a time today where I just found 20 minutes to rest and sleep. Just, you know, there, you can see behind me, is it Sophie? My office? Yes, exactly where I slept. So we have to have sleep because if we don’t, the body’s response to not enough sleep is to be anxious. So, whereas if I didn’t meditate for a day, which is, which is so massively important to me, my body won’t get anxious. So I don’t meditate for day. Put it will. If I don’t sleep for a day,
Christine Okezie (34m 6s):
I love that distinction. Thank you. That’s brilliant. Thank you so much.
Justin Caffrey (34m 11s):
And routine is so important, like routine and structure own the morning, my 5:00 AM. Nobody else’s is awake with me and that’s where I bring in movement meditation. And I go walking I’m out in nature, I’ll go for swam and I can do so many of these things. And then it’s like 8:00 AM and the world is kind of waking up and I’ve taken care of myself.
Christine Okezie (34m 38s):
Thank you. Thank you. Yes. Tell us a little bit about cold water immersion therapy. Is that part of your, is that in your toolkit these days? Yeah.
Justin Caffrey (34m 47s):
Yeah. I mean, how does that
Christine Okezie (34m 49s):
Affect the vagus nerve? If you could just take some time to explain that for our listeners?
Justin Caffrey (34m 54s):
Sure. So what we know about cold water is if you, if you think about it in terms of how you would feel, you know, if you, if you were out in the, in the forest and you were chased by an animal or chased by another human or you’re feeling threatened and you got away and you felt safe. One of the things that we naturally do once we feel safe as we go to water and we throw water on our face or be immersed in water and we think, oh, I feel calm. So it’s, it’s a natural instinct within us. And the vagus nerve, which is cranial nerve 10 is one of the sensory points is on our face. So when we throw cold water on it, we expose our, our, our, our connections, the vagus nerve, and the vagus nerve is the key switch between the fight flight response and the restaurant recovery response and the, the clinical data that we have around cold water, which, which is now quite, quite extensive over the last 15 years, it started to show us that when we’re immersed in cold water, after about three to four minutes, the sympathetic response goes parasympathetic.
Justin Caffrey (36m 3s):
So the stress goes to rest and recover. And I use this. So when I’m working with people, I’m by the beach here. And especially like what we’ve seen in, in Ireland during COVID and, and throughout the world, people who are near water have, have really started to feel the benefits of going into water and being immersed in it. And they think, well, that’s great. I feel good. I go in, then I have chats with people who are by, by my side and I’m kind of catching up with people and there’s a bit of community. And I think that’s why I go. But if we look at the clinical data and we look at the neurological responses, what happens is they go down to the water, they have stress and anxiety.
Justin Caffrey (36m 45s):
They have the kind of perpetual thought process in their head. You know, the negative voices. I’m not good enough, et cetera. And you hit the cold water and your body goes into shock for a few minutes and it’s like switches off. And you’re kind of slowly hyperventilating as you’re in the cold water. But if you can stay in and the key is making sure that you’re safe, but even if you stand in it and just get yourself submerged so that the water is above your shoulders. After about three to four minutes, depending on who you are, if you watch people for three or four minutes, eyes shooting around, hyperventilating, worry, worry, worry, your body’s screaming saying, oh, get out, get out, get out, get out. But then it was a moment that just goes, boom. And the Vegas nerve switches, and you move into a relaxed state, your breathing calms down your eyes, relax.
Justin Caffrey (37m 30s):
You’re very conscious of where you are and now you’re okay. You can spend a few minutes in the cold water when you get out, you maintain the benefits of that for an hour or two. So what happens is people come off out of the water and they think, wow, I feel really nice. I have a coffee with a friend and they have an hour to where they’re not getting all these intrusive thoughts that thoughts come back in again. And they think, oh, that was nice. And I could go back again tomorrow. So people keep coming back. Now. It’s what I stress to people is it’s very helpful. But notice that it’s resolving symptoms of something that you need to pay attention to do the work afterwards.
Christine Okezie (38m 13s):
That’s right. Thank you. Yes. And, and, and a lot of people have shared that they became a quote unquote, addicted to cold water immersion therapy, almost like they would to a red bull or something that kind of, you know, is kind of a shock to the system. And then that’s that in of itself gets a little dicey because if you don’t, as you said, it’s a, it’s an opportunity to bring something to the surface so that you can look at it and work with it and find a way to let it move. You know, then we’re okay.
Justin Caffrey (38m 42s):
Okay. That’s like a lot of young people now are having constant exposure to iowaska ceremonies and great example. I’ve met people who, you know, they’ll say, oh, I’ve done, you know, 18 Iowasca ceremonies, I think 18 iOS consumers. And I said, well, what did you find out in the first one? Oh, it showed me my pain. And the second one showed me my pain. And then I felt good. You know, it’s, it’s showing you the pain right now. We’ll go to the pain. You know, you now need to either a, be able to find that capacity to be with yourself and, and, and go in to understand the nature of your pain, or ideally to find a therapist and a safe space to explore it.
Justin Caffrey (39m 24s):
But don’t just keep going for the experience because that, although it’s an adaptive process at the start and Coldwater it’s adaptive, it makes us feel good over time. It can be maladaptive like food, like alcohol, like running, you know, like people, people can run triathlons because they’re just trying to get away from their pain. Yes.
Christine Okezie (39m 47s):
That is such a nuance. I think it’s really lost in a lot of approaches. So thank you for bringing that up. So what is the number one thing that you learned in 2020? I always ask this to our folks these days, such a crazy year and crazy time. What was your biggest personal lesson?
Justin Caffrey (40m 5s):
Yeah, more nature. You know, I think when, when we, when we locked down and I was such a massive advocate of, of nature, but the more things were taken away from me, the more I realized what I needed was already here and just to be in nature. And even thankfully, like in, in the, in the, in the cities that we live in, we still predominantly have exposure to some areas of green parks and just the simplicity of realizing that slowing down, paying attention, lying down, being on the grass.
Justin Caffrey (40m 46s):
And just noticing that, you know, you have got to pay attention to yourself and in doing so, the rewards are huge. And 2020, without a question, just brought that back home time and time again. And, and so much that the people who can’t work with me or with you, or with therapists, and they may struggle financially, they may not have their health insurance provisions to be able to do it is to say, just take a lead from the nearest Labrador or a golden retriever that you see in your neighborhood and watch, watch his behavior or her behavior mimic that a bit.
Justin Caffrey (41m 27s):
And you’ll feel a bit better, just slow down, lie down, be still, and just allow the body to recover. And that’s the biggest treat you can give yourself. Yeah. Thank you so much.
Christine Okezie (41m 37s):
And it’s free and no side effects, no negative side effects. That’s right. Oh my gosh. So is there anything else that you wanted to tell our listeners that maybe you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Justin Caffrey (41m 50s):
No. I think, I think the biggest thing really is that I hope in terms of my recovery helps people realize that no matter what you have suffered from, and so many people have lost personal sovereignty and loved ones through COVID that you can recover. And if it’s, you know, loss of the job or loss of an income, it is painful. It is difficult. But I think just finding the capacity to take care of yourself, simple little routines, if you can even just put in five minutes or 10 minutes every day. And the first thing you do is take care of yourself. You will speak to directly to your nervous system and your nervous system will notice, oh, it’s us, we’re being taken care of.
Justin Caffrey (42m 37s):
We’re slowing down. And then you will have more resilience, greater and more clarity in terms of your mindset. And it will allow you to build a plan to recover from,
Christine Okezie (42m 49s):
Oh my gosh. Thank you so much, Justin. This has been wonderful, so many, so much because of any words of wisdom and practical, you know, approaches to everyday struggles, you know, big and small. So thank you so much. Thanks so much for saying, and I look forward to seeing your next big thing. Cause I imagine there are many more things that you are going to be sharing with us soon. So thank you so much. All right. Take care now.