CC 008 – A Year to Live – Making Pain Your Guru with Traver Boehm
What would you do if you had one year left to live? How would you spend your days, what would you do, where would you go?
Traver Boehm was in the midst of a divorce, addicted to pornography and social media, and was the most unfulfilled he had ever been… and then decided to give his life an expiration date. This self discovery period began in darkness (literally) and ended in the most transformational experience of his life.
Traver’s TedX talk: “How to Make Pain Your Guru”
“The Gift of Fear” (book recommendation)
For any questions regarding Cured Nutrition products or our movement please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cured Collective listeners, welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I cannot tell you guys enough how impactful the presence of today’s guest has been in my life in such a short time. Today’s guest Traver Boehm. Traver, T-R-A-V-E-R, not Trevor. I have said that multiple times. Traver is building a movement of 1 million men who express their masculinity by celebrating the primal nature that flows through their veins and ripples across their back, while simultaneously flooding themselves with the deepest levels of consciousness, tearing down the armor around their hearts and loving the world in ways it has never been loved before.
Those words are so fucking powerful. His mission is unlike any that I’ve seen before. I looked up to him in so many ways for the way he is diving into this journey. Him and I will talk in as an entrepreneur myself. We sit there and say, “I don’t know what I’m doing but this is my mission. I know that I will figure it out.” Traver is no different. He is the author of Today I Rise. He’s also a TED ex-speaker, one of the talk speak, How to Make Pain Your Guru. Go ahead and check him out on Instagram.
Check him out on YouTube. You can find his TED talks. Check out his website. I know you guys will be extremely interested in learning more about him after you listen to this podcast. Today’s podcast is titled, a Year to Live based off of a year to live experiment that Traver went on years ago after a very difficult time in his life where he literally lost everything and put himself through this journey. Now has been able to use his pain, use his struggles, used everything that he’s gone through to now have such an amazing impact on me.
I sat with him at uncivilized men’s group last night where six of us sat in the circle and one held the hatchet, and we got extremely vulnerable while that person was allowed to speak and talk about what was going on in their life. What they’re building. Where you don’t have … Where you may be losing integrity. Men, I’m fucking impress and super stoked to have him in my life. I know you guys are going to love this podcast. I will stop rambling and just let you guys dive in to today’s episode.
As always if you guys are enjoying the show please, please, please leave us a rating review but most important share this platform with people around you that you believe would align with this that would be impacted by the message that the Cured Collective is putting out into this world. Take a screenshot while you’re listening to it on your iPhone, smartphone. Tag us, tag Cured Nutrition. Tag myself Joe Sheehey. Tag Traver Boehm. Tag our listener of the day on Instagram.
We are looking forward to seeing you guys on the other side of this and hearing on what your thoughts are on today’s podcast. Without further ado, Traver.
Joe: It’s a pleasure to have you here man.
Traver: Thank you. Its pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me
Joe: It’s the first day we met there up in Boulder, sitting across in the little … I guess, it’s the men’s community group with [Lulu 00:04:07].
Joe: We connected and I was like, “All right.” We both kind of felt like this is a … There’s something going on there. We’ve gotten together a couple of times now. I’m super excited to help you with in any way that I can.
Joe: I’m super excited-
Traver:Me as well.
Joe: To have you here and share your story on the Cured Collective podcast. This is basically a collective of human beings that are all just trying to figure it out.
Joe: I’m happy to have you here and share your experience.
Traver: Thank you.
Joe: What you’ve shared with me so far since we’ve known each other is very … There’s a lot there. There’s a lot-
Traver: There’s a lot there.
Joe: That you’ve been through and a lot that you’ve learned and been able to take that. Then pour out into the world when you talk about making pain your guru. I want to dive into all of that. I guess just to start this. Well, we can start before the event four years ago, if you want to.
Joe: I know that that was a very transformative event.
Joe: Let’s talk about life before that.
Joe: Where you were and then lead up to what happened before you-
Traver: Well, things changed.
Joe: Yeah. Yeah.
Traver: Sure. Sure. God where to begin. I love when people ask up my bio. I grew up in Wilton, Connecticut, very small town. I had my first let’s say left turn in life. In 5th grade my family moved to Japan. We spent the next five years there. That was a radically different experience and anything I could have fathomed as a blond haired, suburban, white kid from a boring little town and then moved to the dead center of Tokyo, came back, finish high school. I played water polo and swam for Boston College. I always had an athletic background.
Then first thing out of college, this is really interesting story, Joe, I read the book The Gift of Fear by a guy named Gavin de Becker. You haven’t read it I highly recommend everybody reads his book. He’s a threat assessment expert and like a stalking expert and talks about murder and weird people and all like the subculture of that. I read this book on a flight, fully just dive into it and land in LA. For the first time in my life I wrote an author a letter and I felt like such a dork. I was like, “Hi, I feel like a dork. I love your book.”
“It changed my life. Do you have any recommendations for like body guarding schools?” I knew he had a private protection team in his company. He sends me back a job application. I filled the job application out. I have very little experience as far as that goes or none. I had a medical experience. I’ve been a lifeguard, et cetera. For the next six years I work for this guy and his company, flying all over the world with billionaires, with celebrities, with a high level ex-military who are on the same teams.
Joe: No shit.
Traver: Have this wild seven year adventure of literally 150 million yachts, private planes and sitting outside of the backdoor of an event center for 12 hours and be like, “Don’t let anybody come in.” “Okay.”
Joe: You saw both ends.
Traver: Yeah, like, “Can I read a book?” “No.”
Traver: “What do you guys want me to do?” “Just stand here.” Yeah, really interesting chapter. The last year of that chapter I was like, “I don’t want to babysit rich people.” Like this takes no personality. It’s nothing about me. Right? I’m just a body here. I was on this wild trip in the Caribbean. I remember talking to my client at the time he’s like, “What the hell are you going to do? Like you’re not going to stick around in this business.” I was like, “I really want to find a way to affect people and help them change.”
The most direct way I could think of it was health, like if you change someone’s health you change their life. I didn’t want to go to med school. I didn’t want to go through, okay, give someone a pill you may not change their life. I enrolled in Chinese medicine school. It was a four year masters for acupuncture, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine. Then I ran into a problem on my first year. There was so much sitting like we had four hour classes, 6pm to 10pm.
I’ve gone from like this high action lifestyle to this. At the end of the year I was like, “I’m dropping out for at least a year. I’m going to fly to Thailand. I want to fight Muay Thai over there and train.” Came back and said, “Okay, I’ll finish the next three years of school but the only way I’m going to be able to do this is if I also professionally fight MMA.” Let’s have both … I can sit in the classroom for four hours and just fine.
Joe: You’re expanding energies somewhere.
Traver: Yeah. Someone punched me in the face all morning totally good to go. Yeah. I’m good to go. I had this oddly juxtaposed life of two very different sets of friends, two very different sets of conversations, two very different experiences both on the ends of extremes. Like literally getting knocked unconscious in the morning and then driving to school and sitting there with people who have like crystals and oils before their quizzes. It was wild.
Joe: Yeah, that is. You have some type of yin and yang going on there whether you like it or not.
Traver: Completely. Yeah. It was very, very bipolar healing people. I said this in the talk like I would go to the Venice Family Pain Clinic at night and help people whose lives had been ruined by chronic pain, who had lost jobs, who’d lost families. You don’t think about this, a guy who throws his back out, so he can’t drive his truck. He can’t drive his truck. He can’t get paid, so his wife leaves him.
Like holy shit that’s a crisis. Right. It’s because of back pain. We don’t think of that downstream effect. I was sitting with people who were in that much pain, who had dealt with just extraordinary things after literally spending four or five hours that morning studying and learning from some of the best people in the world how to inflict pain.
It was this unique experience. Carrying on, I did after my first fight my cardio was so bad that I went and looked and found CrossFit. I was like, “I need something.” Right. I wasn’t doing my curls in the gym to prep for the fight. Like I didn’t … That wasn’t the best idea. I find this amazing CrossFit gym in LA. Fully dive to that world, stop fighting and planning to graduate from school and open acupuncture practice.
This was like three, four weeks before I got out of school. I had this patient come in and … Because you’re doing a clinical internship for your last year, so you’re seeing patients. This woman comes in, and she says, “I’m here for a weight loss treatment. Like can you help me loss weight?” She is like 70, 80 pounds overweight. I was like, “Okay, I’m going to stick needles in you. It’s not going to… You’re probably going to walk out the same way you came in. Right?
Unless you put a lot of needles.
Just going to set some expectations here. I actually like, “How about this. Let’s talk about like a program for you. Like are you willing to walk to your mailbox and back? Are you willing to do these things? I spent half hour with her. At the end she goes, “No, I don’t want to do any of the stuff. Will you mind just stick in the needles in me?”
What had come out right before she said that was, “I should probably tell you too I had two Big Macs last night.” I was like, “Holy fuck. What are you doing?” I said, “Why did you do that? If you know you’re coming here for weight loss, why did you do that?” She says, “I got a coupon in the mail.” I went, “Okay, this is what I’m up against. I’ve just been to school for four years straight. I have all-”
Joe: They didn’t teach that.
Traver: “Of this knowledge and I’m up against a coupon.” I made the decision there to not open just a practice but to open a CrossFit gym. I was like, “You don’t need needles hon. You don’t need herbs. You need to walk your ass down the street. You need to have someone to rip your kitchen apart and then put whole food in here.
We need to inspire you to live a completely different way that my one hour a week of needles isn’t going to touch. I did. I graduated, opened a gym in Santa Barbara, open an acupuncture practice. In the process this will be the foreshadowing, married my study partner from school. Thought, “Okay. My life is now … I’m set. I got a gym, I got a practice, I’m married.
Joe: Married. What else could you want?
Traver: I’m on a coast for the next 20 years. I’m in great shape. I work out every day. I show up in a pair of shorts. Like life is easy. It’s good. I did it. Boxes checked. Boom. Then it all fell apart.
Joe: Things started … So we’ve talked about this a little bit.
Joe: I want to kind to dive into details and talk about what you can share there and what you want to share there.
Traver: I’ll share all of it. Yeah.
Joe: I mean basically, when you … What you told me was basically one day like you’ve lost it all.
Joe: I guess that’s to preface it.
Joe: Just kind a dive in to this story and then we’ll talk about everything after that. You basically you’re sitting there and you have, like you said-
Life’s been [crosstalk 00:14:05]
Joe: You have what you want.
Traver: I’ve got a kid on the way. That’s the other factor of right before all this happened my ex-wife and I got pregnant on purpose because like, yeah, we’re starting a family which was the last box. I was like, “Okay.” I literally was like the pathway ahead of me is crystal clear. I’ll get to the asterisk of this story afterwards. Very quickly unfortunately we had a miscarriage. It wasn’t shortly thereafter that I was sitting at breakfast with my ex-wife. We just spent the day in bed or the night in bed in the morning, kind of playing with the dog and laughing and joking.
I asked her, “What are you going to do today?” She looked at me across the table and swear to God without blinking she says, “Oh, I’m going to move to LA. I don’t want to be married to you anymore.” I just sat there and at first was like, “No, no, no, come on.” Like, “What are you going to do?” She was like, “I’m dead serious. I’ll be gone within the hour. I threw up because I knew it was real. I knew that … I just got chills.
Joe: I was going to say I just did well, chills and like, yeah.
Traver: The house of cards just started to fall. Twenty-four hours later I moved in with my business partner because I didn’t want to be in my house. My business partner at the gym would’ve been the guy I’ve known for 20 years. The next morning we had breakfast. He was like, “What’re you going to do?” I was like, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure what’s happening. Like the rug just got ripped out from under me.” He was, “Well, maybe you should consider that we don’t keep working on together either.”
I’m like, “Oh, fuck. Okay. Something is going on here that is beyond of me. For whatever my belief system at that time I wasn’t a religious person. I’m not a Christian. I’m not in any specific faith. I had a sense like in that moment. Okay. I lot of shit is about to be cleared out of the way. That doesn’t happen unless there’s some other reason for it. Here’s the asterisk. The asterisks to all those boxes being checked was that I was miserable. I was a chronic drinker, a perpetual from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed pot smoker.
My ex-wife wasn’t home. I was home looking at porn. I was addicted to Facebook. It sounds so fucking stupid to say but like literally-
Joe: I get it.
Traver: I couldn’t go … I would send my class out for a run, be like, “Go run 800 meters as a warm up.” By the time the last person left the gym I would be back in my office like refreshing Facebook.
Joe: No shit.
Traver: Isn’t that insane?
Traver: Absolutely insane as someone who is also a meditator, responsible for people’s health, counseling people on their health, getting people sober, like giving great counsel.
Joe: Both ends of that spectrum that you were just talking about earlier was still there.
Traver: Still there. Yeah, still there. I also felt in that moment, “Here’s the opportunity.” Like the house of cards just fell. Everything I had built was built on no foundation. It was built on lies. It was built on numbness. It was built on disassociation. It was built on I don’t want to look at this these things in my life that aren’t really making me happy because I’ve been told that they should make me happy. I’ve invested so much goddamn time, money and energy into them so they have to make me happy. How could they not because I’ve done all of that.
Joe: It’s what I’m supposed to be doing, right?
Traver: It’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Right. Like every box, Joe, like there was no one who looked at my life at the time. When it all fell apart people were like, “I literally thought you had the perfect life. There’s nothing about your life that wasn’t out of a book.” Yet, what they didn’t know was the whole other story which was I didn’t slip for shit. I was stress out of my mind. I would wake up some mornings and throw up. It wasn’t from alcohol.
Like I wasn’t a big drinker but I drank every day. Like three, four beers a day. The guys listen to this were like, “You’re not an alcoholic.” It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t okay in a room by myself for more than four minutes. Like my ex-wife used to joke and say, “I’ll come home. You’ll have a beer in your hand. You’ll be high as a kite. The TV will be on with no sound. You’ll be playing music. You’ll have your computer open to Facebook. Your phone on your lap and a notebook next to you.”
She would ask like, “Are you sure you’re okay?” I will be like, “Fuck you’re talking about of course I’m okay.”
Traver: “Look at my life I’m married to you, the gym is making money. I’m 8% body fat. What else does a dude would want?”
Joe: You get literally everything taken from you?
Traver: Everything but my health.
Joe: When that happened were you able to turn inward and like we’re sitting there now and you’re saying, “Okay. I was doing this, this, this and this.” Did you recognize that right away? I think that sometimes it’s hard for people to really be like, “Oh” … I mean you said it. Like that transition of looking out here, everything is good out here but like what’s going on here. Sometimes it’s hard.
Traver: It’s hard. I mean I fucking struggle with that every day still. That’s the thing is like sometimes it’s just looking in the mirror is the scariest thing.
Yeah. There was an intuitive sense and I heard from whatever you want to call it like a feeling, a whisper of something that was saying, “Hang on, this is not going to be fun.” If you use this and do it right, your life will actually turn into everything you ever wanted it to be but you’re going to go through fucking hell. Hell like you can’t even imagine before you get there.
Joe: Where did it send you in the beginning, in the weeks, in the months after just literally losing everything?
Traver: It just sent me to rock bottom, right. It sent me to … I was useless in my job. I owned a gym, I would teach two classes a day, I would go home and get back in bed or I would go home and get on the couch, just lay there like staring at the ceiling. Trying to get some kind of movement going and I would dive into books of people who had lost and then recovered. I got into spiritual books I got into listening to videos on YouTube of people that I respected [Tony Roh 00:21:19], any speaker we in dire, Caroline Myss.
I was like, “Okay, if I’m going to be miserable, I’m going to be miserable and try to learn something at the same time.” That was like nine months of my life, just a waste. I mean I don’t mean to say a waste, it was just lying in the shit, right?
Joe: Yeah. When you can’t put one foot in front of the other, yeah but you’re going to look at that and be like, yeah, you look at those nine months and if you don’t feel any progression it feels like a waste.
Traver: It still felt like it was getting worse and worse and worse.
Joe: Now, I can’t remember the name.
Joe: We talked about the year to live.
Traver: Yeah, the year to live project.
Joe: Now, was this right after this happened, within the nine months because I know that this was a transformative experience for you so I wanted to dive into that and if there’s anything in between them I would-
Traver:Joe: I didn’t know that that was-
Traver:Joe: Maybe like a spark of hope?
Traver:Right? Yeah. It was like fuck again, again, again.
We’re communicating, we’re having really good … We meet and we sit and talk for three, four hours, I’ve now quit drinking, I’ve quit smoking pot, I’ve quit looking at porn, and I’ve gotten rid of my Facebook, like I’m present for the first time ever. Maybe she’ll feel that and realize that I did have this potential the whole time and we’ll get back together. There was a ton of that, like she didn’t file I think for nine, 10 months, and even was saying I don’t want if I want a divorce, I just want … Which now I know in hindsight it’s like yeah, I’ll leave that to the side. Yeah, let’s skip that one.
I don’t know if I’m going to be around. I haven’t figured out with my partner, it’s still my business so we haven’t sorted out like no, I’m not leaving, or yes I would like to leave or may I’ll stay part time or what because the fucking rug just got ripped out. It’s really hard to make decisions when first of all I don’t know if I’m going to be reconciling with my ex and everything was up in the air. Long story short, a month or two later, I do find out I’m getting divorced. I do figure out that my business partnership is over.
If you want a funky story, I had those two conversations with my ex-wife and with my business partner who weren’t speaking to each other within 45 minutes of each other on the same day. She tells me like I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to reconcile, I’m going to file for divorce. Then, literally 45 minutes later, he’s in my house saying I don’t want to do this anymore like we just got to cut our ties and go on separate ways like please sell me the business. That was a big, that was an interesting day of my life.
People who are going through processes like that will have specific days that you go, okay that was wild like within an hour. I’ve seen this idea of the year to live, right. I’ve also given a talk at my gym on pain just because like a free thing because I was still active there. One of the members in the audience is hooked in with TED. She comes up to me after that talk and says, “You really need to give this talk at TED.” I say, “There’s no fucking way.” Like, I’m still throwing up … My life is not good.
Joe: Who am I to … Yeah.
Traver: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have a great day when I get out of bed. The TED’s day just isn’t happening. She calls me and says, “Hey, I can get you on TED LA. Here’s what they want, they want their speakers to do a six week social experiment, so here’s what I think you should do, I think you should take 16 people and run them for six weeks through your pain protocol like coach them, help them, et-cetera, and have empirical data,” because that’s what TED’s looking for.
They want you to present something not just be like in pain is okay. she tells me that and I go, there’s no fucking way. I can’t be responsible for 16 humans, I can’t responsible for something that lasts eight weeks or 10 weeks or whatever.
Joe: There’s some irony there.
Traver: I’m taking things day by day by day and I hang up the phone with her. I sit there for like 15 minutes and I went, “You know what, you know what I’m going to do? Call right back and say, tell TED LA I will come back in 12 months and I’m going to do a personal social experiment and I’m going to live the next 12 months as if it were my last year on earth and I’m going to document the entire thing and I’ll give one hell of a talk there and hang the phone up and instantly knew what I was going to do from three months forward on for the next year.
Joe: You briefly talked to me about this experience and I think you were saying that the actual talk that you ended up giving was on a specific month so I want to talk about that. This entire process of a year to live, you went through the entire thing correct? You’re talking about the things that you need to … The people that you need to forgive a month in darkness which I really want you to talk about.
Joe: What else, what was that 12 months like?
Traver: What I did first Joe is I sat down … This may sound weird to people, I sat down in front of a white board, so it’s a cross for coach, so white boards are friendly. I meditated for about two hours and anything that came through to me, anything, I just stood up and wrote. The very first thing literally I’m sitting there and it goes, “vroom.” You’re going to volunteer in hospice and I was like, oh fuck I’ve never done that before, write it down. Where are you going to do? Like where am I going to do that? 15 minutes later, New Mexico.
Okay, I’ve never been in New Mexico, wrote it down. You’re going to do this, write it down, write it down, write it down. All of these things to answer not just the question of like for people listening, not just what would you do because I think this question gets bastardized and kind of cocktailed partied and when it becomes as a bucket list. It wasn’t like do I want to see the Eiffel Tower? Do I want to have a threesome, do I want to yada, yada? Right, it was what do I need to do so that if it were true that on December 31st at 12:01, I would take my very last breath.
I would take that breath full, that’s where we’re after here. Not just cool, I saw some things and I went sky diving, it’s no. What do I want to experience and give as a human so I kind of set the year up in two ways. I wanted to go all the way back through my past and heal as much as I could because there was a reason I was drinking and getting high and looking at stuff from my marriage. I didn’t come into that perfect and then the marriage fucked me up. I had never done any work whatsoever about family history stuff, abuse, you name it.
That never been the therapy ever who was just like, yeah I’m fucking fine, I’m a dude. Again, look at my body fat, look at my income, how can I not be fine. Yeah, stop me asking me stupid questions, duh, I’m fine.
Traver: Yeah, come on now. I wanted to go all the way back and work through stuff. Then, part two of the question was what would I need to learn and what experiences would I want to have as growth experiences so in case I did leave for another 40 years I would have those and those next 40 years would be radically different than the first. I set this up as this wild, I sat down with an ex-girlfriend and asked her what the hardest thing was about dating me. I sat down with another ex-girlfriend who hadn’t talked to in like six, seven years and asked for forgiveness because I ended that relationship really poorly and treated her really poorly in it.
I hired an intimacy coach and sat down with this dude, he’s another TED speaker who he just literally was like you want to learn about intimacy? I was like I don’t fucking know a thing about it. First of all, this word scares a shit out of me. I fought in a cage but yeah, yeah, yeah like don’t use the “I” word around me.
Joe: There’s no soft in me.
Traver: Yeah. Dude, why are you looking at me first of all? Yeah, it was all these really crazy experiences, the dark which we’ll get into. Boulder after survival schools, so I spent a month in the woods like kind of [hawk finning 00:33:58] and like just having an adventure which turned out to be hellacious that we can talk about too.
Joe: I’m sure.
Traver: Yeah, imagine a month in the woods with a knife, a water bottle, a first aid kit, and a blanket in Utah in the fall. Like snow rain hell, like I lost 26 pounds in those 28 days. Yeah.
Joe: You put yourself into it?
Traver: I did it all voluntarily, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s one of the best things I ever done, highly recommended, you should do it. Yeah, yeah, you’re going to lose some weight and eat squirrels and-
Have a [crosstalk 00:34:33].
Traver: Yeah. Meet with my family, talk to my parents, I did have a dysfunctional relationship or challenge relationship with my family.
Joe: Do you look at your childhood and say like there was like development stuff that then led to relational stuff that-
Traver: Of course.
Traver: I did not grow up in a communicative household, I grew up in a violent household where nothing was talked about. Everything was swept under the rug. There’s one emotion in that house and that was anger. What do you know, I get in a relationship and I don’t know how to talk, I don’t know how to communicate, I don’t know how to even express that I am angry. I just know how to get angry. I don’t know how to speak even though what other feelings there are.
I don’t know how to say I’m sad, I’m frustrated. It really hurt my feelings that you just said that. I’m triggered about this. This makes me feel like you’re going to leave and so I’m doing X, Y, and Z to combat that but that’s kind of fucking up our relationship. I don’t know how to say any of that stuff because it wasn’t thought. I know the Pythagorean theorem because I graduated from high school but no one ever said, how do you feel right now? I don’t know a squared plus b squared equals I’m fucking fine, right?
Joe: Yeah. Fuck man, that’s-
Traver: Yeah, it’s a lot there.
Joe: There is a lot there. I think that it’s … I mean you’re literally like relearning or maybe learning for the first time who you are.
Traver: Yeah, completely.
Joe: Maybe why you were the way you were before?
Traver: Definitely, yeah.
Joe: Did you say you knew yourself before all this or you thought you knew yourself and now?
Traver: I didn’t like myself so that was the thing is I hated to do it in the mirror. I didn’t trust them, I didn’t really like them, I was articulate, I was a good speaker, I was a good writer, I was strong, and you had to fight but I had no sense of who I was. I have no relationship with myself so how could I develop a positive relationship with myself if I had none.
Joe: Let alone anybody else.
Traver: Let alone anybody else.
Traver: That was presenting them the façade of who I wanted to be or thought I should be not the person I actually was and was constantly afraid that they would leave me if they found out who I was. I don’t even want to know who am I, because if I know who I am then God forbid they may find out and then they’re going to leave.
Traver: It was a mess, right? 39 years old and going holy shit, I have no fucking idea who I am, what I want, what my real desires are, what I want to build in this world, what makes me happy when I’m alone. Right, it was all women, women, women, the feminine makes me happy. Happy wife, happy life. Upset life, let me stop everything and make sure everything, how do I fix this. Just co-dependent as fuck.
Joe: Yeah, I dropped that codependency no more book, the first time we met I mean you’re like, that’s you over there.
Traver: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Page 46-
Traver: Damn it, no I didn’t want that book but yes I needed that book. Yeah. Talk about the month in darkness.
Traver: Sure. For people to give you context, there’s something called the dark retreat which is a period of time from zero days to 49 days in usually a small room that is completely pitch black dark 24/7 and know your eyes never adjust to the darkness. I choose a period of 28 days and spent that amount of time completely alone in a concrete room with literally nothing to do but meditate and with myself and not see. It was a wild experience. It is as underwhelming as it is overwhelming.
I thought perhaps like they shut the door behind me, and then I’d have like astral travels, and visions, and it would be hallucinations. Some of that came at the halfway point but I just sat there and I was like, there’s nothing to do and I’m a dude. I’m a doer. I’ve got 24 hours a day, seven days a week to do nothing but sit, experience, meditate, and see what this experience has in store for me as opposed to what I think I’m going to have in store for it. Like it took me and it does with most people, it took me on a ride. It was a thing, right?
Joe: Is that the most transformative piece of that year? Or I’m sure all combined into one massive-
Traver: Yeah. It’s harder thing to answer, it was unbelievably yes. It was unbelievable transformative, right? I’ll share it with you that the first week was boring. All right, I did squats and pushups and sit ups, I had like a little routine, I meditated but I was like nothings really happening here. Then on the 8th night I noticed I dreamt that I was walking down the beach with my ex-wife and the child that we have lost.
I woke up and was fucking furious like all of the emotion I think and the pain and the anger of that experience just started flooding out of me. Then, I was trying to punch holes in the walls, I was screaming, it just was like okay, you’re ready. Like getting to the top of a roller coaster and then dropped and for the next eight, nine days man, like I didn’t get off the floor. I just cried and fucking cried and cried and passed out and woke up and cried and had just visions in like old mental movies and metal pictures.
It’s like all the loss of my entire life that I’d never dealt with came flooding in for that week period. It was absolute pure hell. There is nothing that we hide from. In that room, there’s nothing to hide from.
Joe: It’s the worst punishment, solitary confinement.
TRaver: Think about it right now, if I say something that’s offensive to you and then we get off the podcast and you have options when you live here. You can call your friend, you can look at social media, you can read a book, you can listen to music, you can write, you can journal, you can talk to your assistant, you can look around the room. You can make it go away by interrupting it with something else. If we take away everything, like that shit just run through my head like it owned me.
There was nothing I could do to stop a thought. I’ll be like, I’ll literally scream like stop and then two seconds later it’s back. I didn’t sleep from essentially that point on. I’d sleep in this little fits like maybe half hour and then I’d be up for another four hours sometimes with the same thought and it was just sheer brutality. All right, so I have these eight day, nine day expense and then it kind of breaks and I’m just exhausted like literally exhausted that I can’t sleep. For whatever reason my circadian rhythm as well fucked up, couldn’t sleep.
Joe: Yeah. No light, no cycle, yeah.
Traver: It’s just weird shit. At the halfway point man, I ran out of water. They give you a big bottle of water and so I wrote a little note to the people taking care of me and there was just to let people know like there was food so there were three times a day someone would ring a bell and then like outside door of like a mailbox would be opened and they put Tupperware in and then they’d close that and then I would open my side and then I could eat. There was a toilet in there, there was a shower in there just to give people context. Eating in the dark is very difficult.
Joe: Yeah, for sure.
Traver: Drop something it’s gone. Taste, you don’t know, you can’t see what you’re eating. A whole another mind fuck of like what am I about to put in my mouth? At the halfway point, I ran out of water. I write a little note which I think says like I need water, it must have because someone came that night. Yeah, they didn’t bring like soup, they brought a jag of water. I have to wear these blacked out goggles and they opened the door and I get like this rush of one sound, two smell, three air, there’s no air movement in this thing.
Joe: Yes, yeah.
Traver: Like think of what you have to do to keep something perfectly dark. There can’t be a crack, right. There were vents but it was weird, vents was like I don’t know how to describe this without visually telling people like think of like tubing in the wall that would go up eight inches over an inch, down 10 inches over an inch, up six inches and then out so like light couldn’t sneak its way through that.
Joe: Yeah, tortuous path.
Joe: That’s what we call it in engineering. That can be a seal between two services but I think-
Traver: Yeah, this is good, this is good. Yeah, it reminds like I know exactly how I felt in this room like come in tomorrow, there’s like old dark room.
Joe: Do you need another one?
Traver: That’s another conversation.
Joe: It’s true.
Traver: They changed out the water and the woman who was in charge of me was running the thing, this beautiful like 26 year old yogi and she sits down in front of me and says, “How are you?” This is the first time I’ve talked to anyone in two weeks and I’ve gone through the worst experience of my life. It was such an overwhelming question that I didn’t even know how to answer it. I just said, “This is really hard.” That was all I could get out. I hadn’t spoken, right, this is only like two weeks.
I put my hands out and she put her hand in between mine and I held it for maybe 20 seconds and that’s it. Then, she gets up to leave and says, “I wish you strength,” and then they leave, they shut the door. I put my hand on my heart so I can still feel the warmth and then just cried just from human touch for like another four hours I’m fucking crying. Wake up the next day in a pit because I realized I’m at the halfway point. I still have to go through all of that again. This is not fun. This is not enlightening, this is not hallucination.
Joe: Can you pull the plug?
Traver: Anytime. This is a little bit of the mind fuck, there’s a key on my side of the door that I would touch every single day that you can leave anytime.
Joe: Fuck man.
Traver: Yeah. I had made the decision, and this sounds sociopathic but I don’t want it to be. I was like I don’t give a fuck what happens to me in there, I’m not leaving. If they need to come get me because the foods piling up and something’s happened, that’s okay. I want this full experience. I chose 28 days so it would be longer than I could handle because I wanted to go to the depths of the depths. I figured if I’ve lost everything I fucking care about why not look five feet deeper because hopefully I never get here again.
If I were go back in that room tonight, it would be a completely different experience because I’m not walking in there reeling from loss so fuck it. Like let’s peel back every single layer and go as deep as possible. About a week after she left the room, I spent about three days Joe on the floor not sure if I was alive or dead which sounds weird to people listening but imagine three weeks of no sleep, such an emotional week of just hellaciousness and then no light, no people, no touch, no sound, and then I think I just went a little fucking crazy.
I was like touching my face and trying to figure out like is this for real? Shit, if I die and this is where I’m stuck. It was this wild experience that it’s hard to articulate but I also got this, this was the gift of it. It’s like this is death. At some point I will be in a pitch black box in the ground, people will still be going their lives, babies will be born, marriages people will be breaking up. There’ll be people eating meals and I won’t be a part of it. Okay, that’s profound. A guy had told me coming in, one of the reasons I did it was he said if you want to experience death after a year it’s about year to live you got to do this to experience what death is without dying.
That was a wild fucking trip because I felt in that moment two things, I am insignificant. The world did not stop when I came in this room and holy shit at some point my whole slate is going to get wiped clean so maybe I come out of here and I start swinging for the fences. I can fuck up all over the place, I can be the most hated guy in the world still going to die. I can be the most beloved guy in the world, still going to die so let’s get after it.
Joe: You’re on a fucking mission now dude?
Traver: I’m on a mission now.
Joe: You’re an author.
Joe: The TEDx talk was after this, let’s talk about your mission man.
Traver: Sure, sure, sure, sure.
Joe: Let’s talk about uncivilized because it’s so fucking exciting and like I’ve been around you only a couple of times and I’m like you send me a picture that says uncivilized and I see the power in it, and I see you and I see what you want to build without even like saying it, it’s just a picture and how you sent it to me and I don’t know what you said but you said it was like … You said over fucking joyed, that’s a lot so what are you doing?
Traver: I am birthing, I can see this now you know because it sounds a little arrogant but I don’t give a fuck. The paradigm of masculinity that I believe is missing that from what I looked at the world, when I came out of this whole experience, I did write, I wrote a book on divorce and started having men contacted me being like “Hey, I’m all fucked up from my divorce, I’m all fucked up because of my marriage, I’m all fucked up because of X, Y, and Z.” I went, “Okay, let me take a look at the male landscape,” and what I saw was epidemic of unexpressed pain in guys.
I went, “Holy shit, you sir who just called me, you were me, I was you two years ago. You make a $150 million, that’s how much you have and yet you are distraught because you don’t know who you are.” At the same time me too hit, so every morning I’m waking up to another dude who’s done something stupid, who’s done something fucking horrendous, who’s done something illegal and/or just the crashing down of the paradigms of masculinity. My idea was or what I saw Joe was really quickly two common paradigms that were acceptable and one was being pushed into.
The first was the 1950s Marlboro paradigm which was us, which was me. I’m fine. I don’t have emotions, I’m still look like shit. If I feel something, I’m going to run from it or numb it. That was a lot of our fathers, that was a lot of our grandfathers. Why? Because they had to storm beaches, they had to get draft into Vietnam, they had to build this country. There wasn’t a lot of like hey, do you want to go in the beach or you don’t feel good, okay you can just sit in the back of the boat.
That was like no, no, no, go get slaughtered. That paradigm existed and it still exist in masculinity. The other paradigm, the other end of the spectrum was the sensitive new age guy, the nice guy. The guy that is so ashamed of his masculinity doesn’t want to have anything to do with his masculinity, identifies as like I’m not even sure if I want to be a man but yet still has fucking testosterone running through his veins and still has all of the archetypal patterns of being a man.
What I saw most was guys defaulting into the 50s Marlboro man or being pushed into the sensitive new age guy, and I went, “Well, both of them are going to lead to the same problems addiction, violence, sexual acting out, numbness, and doing bad shit in the world.” What if we took them both? This was the idea, like one of them the 50s Marlboro man all primal. It’s like that hunter gatherer stoic dude. The other guy was all divine, the conscious, and yogic, et-cetera. What if I brought them together and said to guys no, no, no, you don’t get to not be strong.
You have to fucking be strong, you have to own the part of you that’s predatorial, you have to own the part of you that’s protective. You have to own the part of you that once you provide for your family and your community and that may involve fucking shit up. You have to own that and you actually got to go train that, you have to say, “No, no, no, I’m not afraid of that, I’m not apologizing for that, even though that makes me dangerous in quotes,” yeah we need dangerous men in this world.
One of my big challenges as a side note with the idea of toxic masculinity is we still ask men to do our killing for us. We still ask men to do our dying for us every day as a society, right. Wow, what do you know? There’s a little bit of a carry over for the people in the street of wow, there’s killers and diers. Let’s just label it something super simple and say don’t be that but by the way, we need you to go out and kill for us.
What if we took that primality celebrated it, stopped apologizing for it, and then add it in consciousness, add it in conversations like this said two men you are equally responsible for having a full range of emotion and being able to express and communicate that as you are to have multiple lifts in the gym or multiple ways to make money. You have to know this, it’s your job to be conscious, it’s your job to be able to communicate. It’s your job to understand your triggers in your partner especially if that person is a woman.
It’s your job, it’s fuck apologizing for being protective of the feminine. We need to be given what men are doing to the feminine. What if we again crash these two ideas together? The image you talked about is a screaming ape and the Buda and that was my primal and divine coming together.
Joe: It’s fucking beautiful man and it’s powerful.
Traver: Thank you, yeah.
Joe: It makes me want to go fuck shit up a little bit.
Traver: Yeah, good.
Joe: Also meditate.
Traver: Good, right both. Both.
Joe: Yeah. That’s the thing is I’ve think a lot of us have felt both ends of those spectrums and I’ll say when I’m a very meditative yogic state, that’s all I’m doing sometimes I just need to go fucking punch something and I need to run and I need to go lift weights. I need to listen to loud music and I need to yell because that is-
Traver: It’s part of you.
Joe: That’s all part of us.
Joe: Same with females, like they have that as well.
Joe: If the males aren’t recognizing both ends of that, and the females aren’t recognizing both and how are we ever going to meet and say that’s just … I see your masculinity and I love that part of you and I see your femininity and I love that too. How do you ever meet somebody it’s a half and a half right?
Traver: What we deny in ourselves we can’t accept in somebody else. We have this idea that the divine feminine has reason and if we look at the history of femininity over the last 40 years it most certainly has and the divine masculine within femininity has reason too which is why women are out there crashing shit in the world and why we aren’t.
If we have two halves of people, we’re never going to be able to be in relationship with each other. What we deny in other people, what we deny in ourselves we can’t be in relationship with someone else. We see in the last 30, 40 years this idea of the divine feminine rising. If that term freaks people out, women have evolved faster than men have. They had to, right?
Joe: That’s right. How do you even like-
Traver: They have to think about this.
Joe: … put in a sentence but it’s fucking true?
Traver: 30 years ago, 40 years ago it was okay as a boss, a male boss to be like, “Hey, you want to advance in the company? All you have to do is sleep with me. If you don’t, I’m just going to fire you.” Like that was okay, so feminism had to come in and be like, “Hey, guess what fuck faces. We’re going to rewrite the script here, we’re going to take back power.” We’re going to write inequality and yes there’s still a lot of fighting that needs to go on and they’re still doing it but what didn’t happen was the masculine didn’t evolve with them.
Now, I fully believe it is our time that if we look at the state of men, if we look at just the statistics, right? I don’t give a shit about the boys are lost, men are lost. Okay, cool, what’s the solution? I hear that every day, I don’t hear a lot of solution. If we look at statistics, we’re in trouble. We die 10 years earlier than women do. Our suicide rates are exponentially higher, our murder rates exponentially higher, our obesity, our homelessness, our prison, our addiction, its all off the charts. Why? Because we haven’t evolved into a new evolution of masculinity. We’re stuck with 19 fucking 50’s software in 2019.
Joe: I think I’ve heard Joe Rogan say it quite a few times but I think he’s … I can’t remember maybe he’s quoting somebody else but most men live lives of quiet desperation.
Traver: Yeah, he’s quoting … God, I can’t remember who it is but it’s true. For 30 years, 40 years, we have heard from women, we don’t need you. On some level, they don’t. They don’t need our paychecks. For in most developed nations they don’t need us to protect them, so we have to figure out some other job for ourselves. The vast majority of people in relationship with women still have a service to provide. We now have to be of service on the inside, right?
We have to be of service of holding space, of growing of relationship, of leading the relationship as opposed to, hey honey, I just came home with a paycheck, here you go. Now I’m going to go check out and watch TV and drink in the corner while you raise the kids. We’ve reached this odd inpass Joe, this is something that I’ve said publicly I’ll stay here and people get really upset about it but I don’t care is that women don’t need us and pussy is free on Tinder.
Men don’t need to be in relationship now to have access to sex which was the driving force for why we did most things in the world. It was to have get a good job, be able to provide, to get married so that, now I can have sex. Now, it’s 2019, you actually don’t need even need to buy a cup of coffee.
Everybody just take a deep breath, now we get to choose whether we come together in a relationship. Now, we get to come into relationship because we want to use it as a vehicle for growth and transformation and as an actual partnership, not this ulterior motives which we had for the last 40 years of I need a roof over my head.
I’ll marry this guy and I know I’m being stereotypical and I want to fuck her a lot so I’ll marry her. We have to have this sense of togetherness and dudes, our work is on the inside, right? We know how to build shit, we’ve built western society and yes there’ve been of course there’s been contributions from great women. What we haven’t done is build our interior lives. Women in the 70s and onward, they got really, really powerful in the “masculine domain.” They joined the workforce, they crush it.
They’re entrepreneurs, they’re killing shit in college. In that outward expression of life which to me is the masculine domain, women are kicking ass and then we look at the interior domain which is emotions, feelings, space holding, evolution, and dudes were like little scared white belts in the corner of the mat. I don’t even want to go. We’re terrified of it. We don’t have the drive of inequality that they had pushing them so we have to find some other drive and that’s why I wanted to make this enticing to say, “You’re going to fucking feel amazing.
You will actually have a sense of peace. You will have a sense of confidence. You know will know why you’re on this earth. You will have a mission, you will have a mission, you will have a purpose, you will get up feeling great every single day because you know why you’re here and what you’re doing. You will be celebrated for what you do. First, you will be celebrated by your brothers then and only then can you be celebrated by your women.
For homosexual relationships, same thing, celebrated by your brothers, then celebrated by your partner. I don’t give fuck what people’s relationship construct is.
Joe: Whatever you want to call it, yeah.
Traver: That’s where we’re at.
Joe: Yeah, man. How are you doing this?
Traver: I have no idea what I’m doing, but let’s just throw it out there.
Joe: That’s my favorite line. It’s my favorite line.
Traver: Well, let’s be honest I said that.
Joe: I say all the time. I don’t know what I’m doing either.
Joe: I know I can figure it out and I know that you can figure it out. You’ve showed yourself that over the last couple of years like… I was sitting here and I was thinking I was like what would the Traver of five, six years ago sitting next to you, think of this version and vice versa and what would you say?
Traver: I look back on who I was and I don’t even recognize the guy. I’ll be like, “What are you doing?” You got to stop, stop running. Stop hiding. Stop being afraid to face your demons like I fought in a fucking cage, that was scary as hell. You can do this and literally nothing you do until you do this means shit because it’s all going to crumble. I have equal parts compassion for that human who I was then. Actually it’s just a lot of compassion Joe, because I didn’t know better. People beat themselves up about how they were in the past but no one had showed me this stuff yet.
No one had taught me, it’s like skillset issue. It’s like looking back on who I was as a white belt in jujitsu and being like, “Dude, how the fuck could you have lost all those matches?” Because I didn’t know the defense to that arm bar, I didn’t know how to protect against that choke, I didn’t know how to use my hips. Same thing here, I wish I … I don’t know how else to say it other than that.
Joe: No, that I mean you wouldn’t be you of today without you of five years ago and I think that’s tough for some people like that word compassion is very powerful because literally just that sense that I said is capital T, truth that you had to be that, to be this because you wouldn’t know the difference if that weren’t the case.
Traver: In hindsight it’s always 20/20 and I tell people because I work with a lot of guys who are working through their own shame, their own … Yeah, just shame is the word, guilt and shame about their past. I say you literally couldn’t have done any different given your skills, given the environment, given all the myriad of factors that were going on in your life. You literally could not have done any differently than you did so take a deep breath and realize that it’s easy to learn something new and then look back and go how could I not have known that, but you just didn’t know.
For me five years ago looking forward, I hope he would think that this is everything he always wanted to be. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke pot, I don’t look at porn, I have my assistant post twice a week on Facebook, I don’t give a shit about social medial. I have such rich inner life and actually have an amazing relationship with the dude in the mirror. Let alone building a movement and writing a book and doing TED talks, sure that stuffs great. If it went away tomorrow, I know I could walk this earth happy because I did it for a year and I’ve done it every morning since.
This isn’t a sugarcoat that like of course I wake up with anxiety. I have a company, I have a movement, I have employees, I have the same thing you do, right? Doesn’t mean like suddenly it’s all rainbows and kittens but who you are as a person provides the foundation for all of that stuff to sit on and be okay. I think that’s the best sentence Joe is I know I’m going to be okay. I could lose it all again tomorrow. Going to be like, okay it’s going to suck for couple of months yeah. It’s not going to be pain free but I know who I am.
I heard a guy, probably told you this, four years ago I was at a talk and this guy in … The guy is speaking says you can take my wife, you can take my kids, you can take my house, you can take my business, and since I know who I am and I know why I’m here I’ll have it all back in four years. I sat there with like fucking chills. I was like, I’ve just lost everything you said I’m going on a fucking mission to get it all back in four years. Do I have it all back? No, but do I have a million other things that I never even knew were possible? Yes.
Can I get the rest of it back? Sure. Am I going to be amazing and happy if it comes or not? So be it. I don’t even need it but man that was a kick in the ass sentence.
Joe: Yeah, man that’s fucking powerful.
Joe: I’m excited to watch.
Traver: Thank you.
Joe: This rollout and I know I said to you before help in any way I can be a part-
Traver: Yeah, thank you.
Joe: … because the fucking energy like obviously people listening just can’t see what’s going on here and we’re sitting here having a very intimate conversation and energy that’s flowing is-
Traver: Yeah. This is what I hope men take from this is that I named the movement uncivilized. I think I told you the story, I was in Brooklyn and my roommate at the time, we’ve gotten up at like five in the morning and we’re going to go workout. He asked me just randomly like still Zero Dark Hundred. He’s like, When was the last time you had McDonald’s?” I went, “Dude, I don’t eat that shit, that’s civilian food.” He actually pulled his phone out and started recording. He’s like tell me more about this civilian idea.
I was look around man, you and I are two single guys living in New York. There’s no alcohol in this house, there’s no drugs in this house, we don’t own a TV, we sat up last night and talked about like our childhoods together and what we want to do in the world and we’re getting ready to go workout. We’re not civilized. Then, we went and trained and I came back and was like, that’s it. That’s the message I want to get across and most men are surviving on McDonald’s in every single area of their lives.
A mile down the road is whole foods. A mile down the road is quality. A mile down the road is nourishment and yet we’re like, I’m full. I just say I’m good, thanks, I’m good yeah. That’s really what I hope people listening to this take away from it and anybody who’s gone through trauma or is in the midst of their own shit storm right now, hang on, use it, to take honest accounting of everything you want to change in your life and then get to fucking work. Use that pain as fuel.
Joe: Fuck man, you got me motivated as shit.
Traver: Good, good, good, good.
Joe: I fucking love this dude. How many TED?
Traver: Two TED talks.
Joe: You have two TED talks out there.
Joe: How many books?
Traver: One and then Men Uncivilized the book is coming.
I’m editing like I was up at 5:00 this morning editing chapters, kicking them to a designer and then that I’m fingers crossed the next three months.
Traver: How did people find you and stay in tuned with all this? You didn’t even talk about it, but you coach people yourself now and man, if that last hour or however long that was, that was wasn’t didn’t get you fired up and feel like transformations can be made with connecting with you with just listening to you whatever it is.
Traver: Fuck yeah.
Joe: People need to hear about this, so talk about that first time [crosstalk 01:10:58].
Traver: Yeah, I’ve run guys through a course called Man Uncivilized, so it’s the uncivilized the movement but for men specifically, it’s a 12 week coaching course of a complete redesign of their lives as a man which show for most people they’ve never associate especially the guys. Guys have never thought of, who am I as a man? What are the qualities inherent in a really holistic expression of masculinity? If I adapted them, how would my life change? How would my marriage change? How would my business change?
How would my body change? How would my entire experience of being human change? I work the shit out of them for 12 weeks and reorganize and redesign who they are as men. The results of these are fucking mindboggling of marriages that are literally teetering on the edge and 12 weeks later are radically different experiences. Guys who are struggling at work and then getting pulled into leadership positions over and over and over.
Guys who are failing in their dating lives to just suddenly women are coming out of the woodwork because it’s not what they do, it’s who they become. It’s this divine fucking conundrum like damn it, I have to do the work to change the inside and then the outside it just reflects it over and over and over.
Joe: You got a bunch of different links in your link tree on Instagram.
Joe: How do people find out more about everything?
Traver: Sure, sure, sure. Instagram is where I do almost probably a daily writing and that’s at Traver Boehm, that’s T-R-A-V-E-R B-O-E-H-M and if you want specifically for guys, if you want to read some more thought out articles about my ideas, if you go to menuncivilized.com there’s some longer write ups there that its really to get your base in there. When the book comes out, it’s a wild one man. I’m printing it on a comic book paper.
Joe: No shit?
Traver: Yeah. It’s got imagery, I’ve got a fantastic designer working with it. It’s not just going to be sitting down and looking at print. It’s going to be a bundle of inspiration and it’s going to be raw, it’s unapologetic, it’s offensive. I fully expect to be not popular with a number of communities when it comes out, let’s just say that.
Joe: It’s perfect.
Joe: I love it.
Traver: It’s going to upset some people.
Joe: Yeah, yeah. It wouldn’t be uncivilized if it weren’t.
Traver: Exactly. Right, I’ve got a lot of fall back on that yeah.
Joe: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fucking love it man.
Traver: Thank you.
Joe: Thank you for sharing everything, that was awesome.
Traver: Thank you for having me truly I appreciate it.
Joe: That was awesome, brother.