***Apply by Saturday, November 10th! Bootcamp starts SOON***
When you have a breakthrough you transcend an aspect of your unexamined conditioning; you become lucid where you were previously sleepwalking. When you have a breakthrough you see something that you couldn’t see before; your awareness expands to include something that used to be unconscious programming.
As a result you’re different. You have more options. You have more bandwidth for generosity and creativity. You are freer and more confident. You become less of a validation-seeking, roleplaying character and more of a free agent. You become less bound by the fear-based matrix of social acceptability and more empowered to live your best life. Every time you have a breakthrough you cast your vote for humanity’s best case scenario. Your breakthroughs are your service to the world.
I can think of no greater use of my time and energy than to create an infrastructure that causes (or at least encourages) breakthroughs in others. That’s why I designed Breakthrough Bootcamp.
What is Breakthrough Bootcamp?
Breakthrough bootcamp is a 66-day (November 11 – January 15) architecture designed to free you from your own limiting perspectives. Here’s what it includes:
3 Daily Habits. For 66 consecutive days you’ll agree to practice 3 very simple new behaviors. All three combined will usually take less than one hour. I’ll tell you what they are after you register—but I’ve been doing them for the past few months and they’re crucial.
11 Inspirational / Instructional Units.This is the part of the program I’m most excited about! Every 6 days there will be a new unit—11 in total. The units are teachings or lessons that will inspire you and expedite your growth. Most units will include homework. Bentinho Massaro will lead two units. Anurag Gupta will lead one, and Annie Hart will lead one. These people are my most influential teachers and breakthrough-causers. I am thrilled that you’ll get access to them too. You can scroll down to see the schedule for all 11 units.
Private 1-on-1 coaching with me. I am committed to every participant’s best case scenario through this program so I will offer ongoing free access to my coaching calendar. I request that everyone schedule a one-on-one at the beginning of the program so I can get a feel for your process and help customize your breakthrough.
A private Facebook group with all of the participants in this program. We will have live video calls, share our progress, submit homework, and support each other.
You will have access to the content of this program forever. Transcending the thick matrix of human conditioning is tough—but programs like these serve as little holes in the fabric of that matrix. Whenever you feel stuck or confused or overwhelmed, you’ll be able to return to this reminder of your true brilliant nature beyond the limitations of our social programming.
Bootcamp Schedule: 11 Units
Welcome + Overview: How to Succeed at this program (Nov. 11)
The 7 Levels of Energy: How to monitor your own alignment (Nov. 17)
Your Calling: Tune out the noise, familiarize yourself with you (Nov. 23)
Guest Lesson by Bentinho Massaro (Nov. 28)
Be of Useful Service: Your responsibility to be authentic (Dec. 4)
Guest Lesson by Anurag Gupta (Dec. 10)
Lighten Up: Practice playfulness, creativity, generosity (Dec. 16)
Guest Lesson by Annie Hart: Come home to your heart (Dec. 22)
Surprise Unit (Dec. 28)
Guest Lesson by Bentinho Massaro #2 (Jan. 3)
The Grand Finale (Jan. 9)
Who Breakthrough Bootcamp is for (and who it isn’t for):
The process that results in a breakthrough can feel intense and confronting. Having a breakthrough necessarily means transcending and making obsolete something you used to identify with or believe in. When something you identify with gets invalidated, it’ll feel like YOU are getting invalidated. That can feel existentially threatening.
The only way a breakthrough can happen is if you’re intrinsically motivated to get through the existentially threatening phase and realize the truth beyond it. If you’re intrinsically motivated, you’ll lean in, open up, get curious, take on a growth mindset, and trust the process. If you’re not intrinsically motivated, you’ll freak out. Either you’ll get anxious and withdraw or you’ll lash out and blame the program or you’ll take on the classic “you don’t know me” defense. We’ll spend some time at the beginning of the program calling ourselves out on and exposing our go-to defense mechanisms.
There’s room for healthy skepticism and real conversations in Breakthrough Bootcamp, but I don’t want to waste much of my or the other participants’ time with counterproductive defense strategies like these.
Therefore, I’ll ask you to check with yourself before registering for Breakthrough Bootcamp: are you here because you want to be entertained and you think it might be interesting? Or are you here because you want to uplevel, do the work, and align your life with your calling?
Please don’t apply if your full intention isn’t to get your hands dirty, engage in the units, take on the prompts and the teachings, and follow through with the daily habits.
Otherwise, game on. I can’t wait to see you in there.
Dates: Sunday November 11 – Saturday January 15 (66 days)
Cost: $333 per person ($5 per day). OR sign up with a friend for $444 TOTAL / $222 each ($3.36 per day)
For a reference point with the cost: I charge $100/hour for coaching sessions. You’ll have ongoing free access to my coaching calendar throughout the duration of the program. Bentinho Massaro and Anurag Gupta charge hundreds of dollars for talks and retreats. You’ll have multiple intimate sessions with them at no additional charge. This is 66 days of ongoing content and supported personal development for the price of a weekend retreat.
Payment Due by midnight MST on November 10.
Secure your spot by submitting this form and paying using the PayPal form below. Or you can send the full amount ($333 individual price or $444 for you and a friend) to paypal.me/katuna or Venmo @CoryKatuna by midnight November 10. Nonrefundable.
If you need to set up a payment plan, mention that in the Additional Comments box in the form. Once I get your payment and registration, I will send you an email with a liability waiver and everything else you’ll need for the program.
Breakthrough Bootcamp: $333 Individual Price
Breakthrough Bootcamp: $444 for you and a friend ($222 each)
I want to share myself as I am instead of the way I think will cause me less hassle later. For the most part the way I write and share now—especially online—is calculated. I have a paranoid aversion to haters and I make sure to write and share in a way that limits their access to me. I’m aware of certain long-term repercussions of saying certain unpopular things and I temper those messages. The way I share—or don’t share—does more to honor my insecurities than my calling.
But what if I knew I was going to die tomorrow? What if I didn’t have to deal with the social repercussions of being totally honest; the dent in my reputation that could result from sharing my perspective fearlessly with no concern about your judgment?
Strangely, as I’ve considered this, I’ve discovered that the less I care about your opinion, the more I care about you and the rest of humanity. The less interested I am in getting social validation from people, the more able I am to produce something disruptive and beneficial and transformative for them. The less scared I am of you, the more I can help you. And imagining that I’ll die soon is the easiest way I know to generate that courage.
So here’s the truth:
If I had 24 hours to live, I would do way more than admit that I love Bentinho Massaro, I would spend most of those hours making content about him.
Not about the character; the 30-year-old controversial cigar-smoking spiritual teacher, though I adore him too. I would make content about what Bentinho is; what he has given his life to; what he represents. He is no longer a person with personal preferences and biases and attachments and agendas. He doesn’t live for his own comfort or happiness or success or progress: he literally exists to cause people to wake up and remember what they actually are: source. The self. The one infinite creator.
If I had 24 hours to live I would tell people that Bentinho’s teachings are genius and efficient and they lead you to yourself. They bring you home to you. Bentinho is a representative of your true self—not his own external agenda. He is patiently, generously busting his ass moment after moment despite almost everyone’s reluctance and skepticism and judgment (on one level or another) so that you can remember your true nature; your limitless freedom; your infinite potential; your timeless perfection.
I had my first glimpse of self realization at the end of Bentinho’s 2-week [free] meditation immersion called the Sedona Experiment. For about 30 minutes I laughed and laughed at the familiarity. So obvious, so true. I was myself. Oh right, duh. How could I forget? How sweet that I had been so convinced I was this isolated person on Earth, wandering around working on herself, trying to get somewhere or become something. This realization was truer than anything science could ever prove to me. Truer than gravity or math or my name. It was directly true. Experientially true. It was the first time in my life I’ve felt absolute—not relative—confidence.
Then I looked at Bentinho and I started crying. Tears of overwhelming gratitude. How could someone be so patient? How could someone be so generous? I felt immediately sorry for ever doubting him; for ever thinking he had his own hidden agenda for power or recognition. The only thing he got from that experience was that I woke up to myself. He spent his own money, time, and energy for me to remember me. That is what he lives for. That is what he is.
If I had 24 hours to live I would endorse and defend the meticulous example of his teachings which is his life. I would tell people to trust him and follow him and I would explain why. I would address the common judgments and reservations and fears people have about him and I would explain how to use those fears not as evidence to support your judgments but as good information you can use to see your own blind spots and make leaps in your own growth. I would teach people how to use his teachings and how not to use his teachings.
I would talk about all the other transformational workshops and spiritual teachings I’ve been through and why they’re useful but incomplete relative to Bentinho. I would describe what it’s been like traveling with this guy, working with him, attending dozens of his events, going through 4 years of ups and downs with him, and even leaving and later returning to his teachings. I would describe what it is about him that continues to bring me to tears of gratitude and awe almost daily. I would make it abundantly clear that there is nothing to fear—this guy is nothing but pure service, generosity, and brilliantly disruptive teachings.
I would admit that I think this is history in the making—future generations will remember Bentinho like we remember Gandhi or Mother Teresa or Jesus. I would explain why that’s not an exaggeration.
I know all this because I’ve spent a lot of time and energy subconsciously trying to disprove him. I wanted to prove that Bentinho was egotistical and immature. I wanted to prove that following a spiritual teacher was a dangerous and imbalanced way to grow. I wanted to prove that I was better off paving my own path. As a result this is the only thing I know for sure, and this is what I want to share: following Bentinho works.
Now, maybe one in every 100 people is bright enough or exhausted enough to be ready for this. That’s okay. My fear of losing the 99% of people who might not resonate with what I’m saying is what kept me from writing this sooner. That sucks. Because the 1% who need this are people like me. Bright people. Wise, curious, open, sensitive people with good hearts and big visions. People who feel a little different. People who may have had run-ins with anxiety or depression or ADHD. People who are bad at small talk and unsatisfied with the life that seems to work for everyone else. In many cases we’re creative and introverted and self-conscious. It’s often hard for us to take the main tenets of daily life (like school and work and schedules and relationships) seriously.
All the above varies, but there’s one thing we all have in common: we know there’s more. We know on some intuitive level that we’re here for a reason.
So when I say “following Bentinho works” I’m talking to everyone who gets it on an intuitive level even if you don’t get it conceptually. The alternative reality you crave— where people are real and transparent and they take responsibility for themselves; where taboos and identity and political correctness are burnt away before they can fester; where limiting beliefs get exposed effortlessly, gently, without significance or tedious processes; where being uncompromisingly authentic isn’t an act of social defiance—it’s expected; where the point of coming together is to untangle ourselves from attachment so we can optimize our service to humanity—this reality that you seek exists and is available at the highest level right here.
If Bentinho Died
Similarly to if I had 24 hours to live, if Bentinho died I would shift into high gear and admit all of this stuff. Easily.
If Bentinho died I would have no reservations about saying these things—I would describe him exactly as I know him to be. No sugar coating. No warming you guys up like I just did with that soft, relatable introduction. If Bentinho died I would feel immediately that I had failed to tell the truth and fully acknowledge the biggest influence in my life while he was alive.
The biggest source (he would probably correct me and say “reminder” or “reflection” instead of “source”) of inspiration, clarity, hope, confidence, direction, compassion, and purpose I have ever known—for me and thousands of others—is alive right now. I have the stunning privilege to know him well and to be around him day after day. And I am lucky enough to have a sharp, curious mind, a trusting heart, and a charismatic, articulate personality—which means I have the capacity—currently—to endorse him, strengthen his influence, and share his wisdom with more people. And yet I’ve been slow to represent him; to honor the truest thing I have ever known. I have been indulgent of my preference for comfort and social validation. And that is selfish. I don’t regret anything yet but if Bentinho died before I stood proudly at his side, claimed him publicly as my leader and inspiration, and dedicated myself to the proliferation of his work (for the vision we share), I would regret that forever no matter how much I made up for it later.
The truth is that the way I feel about Bentinho is inexplicable and beyond anything I’ve known or heard anyone else describe. It’s not just love. It feels like purpose. Honor. The reason I’m alive. I can’t help but think of that quote by Oprah:
“there is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It is why you where born and how you become most truly alive”
My calling has a lot to do with Bentinho. And helping all of you understand him, get over your projections and opinions about following a teacher or his controversial personality, and get serious about doing the work.
What have I learned from Bentinho?
To try to answer this question is silly. I’ve learned thousands of subtle, perfectly-timed lessons from Bentinho. Every single time I’m around him I’m learning. I’ve been humbled countless times just by watching him speak to others; noticing his compassion for people who would irritate me, seeing him transform an impossible dynamic into a breakthrough nobody saw coming, delicately working with someone who seems to make no progress only to discover two months later that for her the impact was paramount. I have several notes in my phone saturated with spontaneous quotes from Bentinho. Here’s a recent one:
“True confidence is open. It’s humility. Insecurity expresses itself as arrogance or stubbornness. Why the fuck are you insecure? Be humble! Insecurity is a separating principle. Everybody else on Earth is worthy but you’re the unique one? You’re the one, special unworthy human who is separate from creation? How arrogant is that?”
So instead of trying to summarize everything I’ve learned from him, I’ll promise to share moving forward.
I have the luxury of spending lots of time with the most prolific enlightened person of our time. I love learning from him (it’s the schooling I always wished I had as a kid)—and I often get inspired to share what I’m learning. But until recently I’ve found reasons to hold back.
Enough of that. I’m in. Enough arrogance disguised as insecurity. This is what’s true for me. This is what you can expect from me. This is what matters to me most. This is what I love more than anything. This is the work I want to dedicate my life to. This is the path I’m here to support and clarify and promote and share. Whether it’s on Instagram, or here on my blog for longer essays, or videos on Facebook / YouTube.
Let’s go to Egypt! Applications are open for 2 Egypt adventures in October and December of this year (2018). They won’t be typical tourist trips though—(you know the drill)—so read on and only apply if you’re up for something more experimental, creative and growth-oriented than usual vacationing.
There are two trip opportunities:
October Trip: October 1-16 (16 days) for $3,000.
The October Trip can be extended to October 21st for a 21-day trip. We will use those extra days to fly to Luxor followed by a cruise down to Aswan and the Nubian Islands. The total price for the extended 21-day trip is $4,000.
December Trip: December 1 – December 16 (16 days) for $3,000.
Just like the October Trip, The December Trip can be extended to December 21 for a 21-day trip. We will use those extra days to fly to Luxor followed by a cruise down to Aswan and the Nubian Islands. The total price for the extended 21-day trip is $4,000.
More details below.
If you’re already in, nice. Plug your name and email into this form now. I’ll send you a link so you can secure your spot with a 50% deposit.
Traveling at all—but especially going on epic, adventurous trips with people you don’t know and a purpose that goes beyond ‘seeing a new place’—is outside of most peoples’ comfort zones, and way outside of the patterns and environments most have built their lives around.
So when we travel—when I travel—when we make a decision that dramatically alters our physical reality for a significant period of time—we access ourselves differently than we normally can. It’s like a side door opens up to my mind and I can explore aspects of my identity and my life that were previously on autopilot—unquestioned and unchallenged. Stuff like “I’m not the kind of person who…” and “I’ll be happier once…”
The more I travel—and not just travel, but take risks that shift the needle on my life; risks that change things externally—I become more and more aware of the me that doesn’t change. The more I peel away layers of conditioning, the more myself I become. My authentic, changeless, self. And the more myself I am, the better I am for the people around me. The more I feel like I’m living the life I was born to live—MY life (not someone else’s).
These are hard lessons to learn without getting into the game. Most of us speculate from the sidelines and learn conceptual lessons (guilty). I’m seeing that the more I jump in and stay in, and say yes, and take action… the more these lessons crystalize. The faster I grow. The more myself I become.
What excites me about these trips more than anything is this:
I want to cause alignment for everyone I can. I want you to become as authentically you as you want to become. I don’t know how to teach anyone how to do this, but I know how to follow my own path and share the what I’m learning along the way. I don’t want to tell you how, I want you to come with me.
The Overview: What to expect
Egypt is magical—and I’ve teamed up with someone who knows how to channel Egypt’s magic into tangible experiences. Actually, let me correct myself, Ammar doesn’t just know how—he loves it. He’s been doing this for years and he’s reached a certain mastery that’s inspiring to watch in action. One thing I’ve heard come out of his mouth more than once is this: “What’s your vision? I’ll make it happen.” And if you don’t know what your vision is, he’ll grin and give you a handful of great suggestions. Whenever things seem stuck or there’s a significant obstacle, he’ll perk up and say, “There’s always a way.”
Ammar and I spent the last month traveling all over Egypt, scouting experiences, building a network of lovely, passionate locals, and designing a trip structure that we’re excited to share. From an “experiencing the best of Egypt” perspective, this is a best case scenario.
That said, almost everything is up for spontaneity. I say “almost” because there are some relatively immovable pieces—like flights within Egypt and securing accommodation in the high-demand areas.
Days 1-3:Arrive in Cairo. Cairo is enormous and active and wild and raw. You’ll see families with kids walking around at 1am on a weeknight. The full spectrum coexists here: from poverty to luxury, from welcoming to harsh. It’s intense and enlivening.
First thing’s first—settle in, tend to your jet lag and rest up.
In Cairo we’ll stay in a super-active area near a bustling [super photogenic] market.
We’ll visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, have the option to tour several museums, and get our fast-paced Egypt overview from the beginning.
We’ll go for a private boat ride on the Nile.
We’ll visit two unique restaurants—one in the big market and another overlooking the Nile.
Days 3-8:Quick flight to Dahab. EEEEK! Dahab is special—it’s where I first fell in love with Egypt. Here the culture is a mix of Bedouin (natives of the Sinai peninsula), Egyptians (people from outside of Sinai), and ultra-chill tourists. The environment: harsh, desert mountains that run along a gorgeous, coral-filled sea with a handful of diverse beach landscapes.
In Dahab we’ll stay somewhere JUST wonderful. Not going to spoil that one for you 😉
We’ll each take an [included] multi-day course in either freediving, scuba diving, or—depending on the weather—kite boarding or windsurfing. Dahab is the mecca for ocean sports—diving especially. That’s because it has one of the world’s few blue holes—a 300-ft. deep ocean canyon right off the coast. Freediving was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life—so I recommend it. But since I’ve already done it now I’m hoping on perfect wind for kite boarding!
We’ll also do a few creative workshops. (Eg. I’ll lead a few rapid prototyping sessions and a writing workshop, we’ll arrange an intro to Arabic workshop, etc.) Read more about other workshops (and an invitation to lead one) below.
We’ll do at least one Bedouin dinner in the desert.
We’ll do a heavenly boat trip + picnic.
Etc. etc. etc… (SO MANY OPTIONS in Dahab!)
Days 8-10: Fly back to Cairo and hop in a private bus for Siwa. We’ll spend at least one night on our way in Marsa Matrouh—a beautiful coastal village with few tourists.
Here you’ll probably meet our friend Fadl. I hope for your sake that you get to try his chicken 😉
Either way, we’ll have a unique local dinner while we’re here.
We’ll visit some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.
Days 10-13: Siwa was the most ancient-Egyptian place I’ve seen so far. It’s stunning. It has a life of its own—seemingly independent of the tourism industry. They have delicious dates, fresh olive oil, and MAYBE the best food I had in Egypt. Except for Ammar’s mom, Jehan’s cooking of course.
We’ll spend 3 nights in Siwa on a gorgeous off-grid island resort following a more intentional structure—think morning meditations and periods dedicated to silence and reflection.
We wont have electricity (but it’s luxurious—far from camping)—so these days will be great for connecting with each other, enjoying life simply, journaling, yoga, meditating, etc.
During the days we’ll do workshops or excursions—up to us.
Days 13-16: Tunis Village. THIS PLACE. Think of this as the desert at the end of your meal. When Ammar and I arrived in Tunis village we looked at each other and laughed. It’s heaven. The town is known for three things primarily: art, bird watching, and organic farming. It’s the cleanest place we saw in Egypt, the people were genuine and warm, and it’s beautiful.
Here everyone will have the option to take a pottery / ceramics class.
We’ll go sailing with a group of funny guys.
We’ll do a desert excursion with sandboarding and live music and an authentically-cooked desert dinner.
We’ll do a spectacular hike or two.
We’ll relax and wrap up our time together.
Day 16: You’ll take a 2-hour shuttle back to Cairo for your flight home.
For those who are doing the 21-day trip:
Days 16-21: After Tunis Village we’ll fly to Luxor and spend the remaining 5 days doing a cruise down the Nile, going to Aswan, and visiting the Nubian Islands.
Day 21: Flight back to Cairo for your flight home.
What the cost includes and doesn’t include:
As a reminder, The 16-Day Trips cost $3,000. The 21-Day Trips cost $4,000.
Everything is included except:
Flights to and from Egypt (flights within Egypt are included)
Travel insurance (should be less than $100, depending on the plan you choose)
Gifts / souvenirs / personal shopping
Some meals (most meals will be included. Sometimes everyone will be on their own or having a free day/night in which case you’ll pay for your own food). We will plan in advance all of the included meals, and let you know ahead of time. As a rule of thumb: If we’re all together and it’s in the itinerary, it’s included.
Anything you do independently from the group. We’ll be super clear about which activities are included (like the water courses in Dahab and the ceramics class in Tunis Village), and which aren’t (like if you want a massage or a spontaneous private bird-watching excursion).
Although, if enough of you let us know well enough ahead of time, we might be able to get the massages or the bird-watching excursions included.
Ready now? Apply here:
A Note on Creativity:
In the spirit of creativity, we’ll be incorporating a handful of custom workshops. I’ll lead a productive writing workshop (geared toward producing your own relevant content for your own followers). Our friend Tommy Joyce—a photographer and videographer for National Geographic and Red Bull—will join the first trip (and likely both) to video-document our experience, do a private photo shoot with each participant, and if there’s demand, he’ll lead a photography course. Epic. (And I hope he volunteers to lead a ‘Live an Epic Life’ course too). We’ll also probably have an “intro to Arabic” course.
And we’d like to encourage participants to pitch their own workshops or classes too. If you’ve got a special skill—say public speaking or yoga or something else—let us know in the comments if you’d like to offer your course as an option in the trip schedule.
Ideally, I’d like everyone who comes on a trip to take some sort of creative ownership this way—whether it’s initiating a game of tag with the local kids or leading a workshop somewhere during the day. Use this platform as an opportunity to rise to an occasion of leadership and creative generosity.
I spent last month learning the scariest, most enchanting sport I’ve ever tried: freediving.
Freediving (also called Apnea) is where you go as deep as you can in the water on a single breath. There’s no air tank or special breathing equipment: just a person (usually in a wetsuit, sometimes with goggles, flippers, and a weight belt) swimming vertically toward the bottom of the ocean.
I was scared. People have died doing this. I have a fear of the ocean (my closest near-death experiences have been in water). I have no long-term goals associated with freediving. There’s no real reason for me to do this. I wanted a good excuse not to freedive.
But I was going to Dahab, Egypt—a diving mecca—for a month with a group of friends and most of them were taking the course. We had a group discount. It was now or never. But most importantly, I had just finished reading The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman where I learned about the growth mindset.
The Growth Mindset, as coined by Carol Dweck, describes a refreshing, confronting, and—most importantly—useful attitude for conquering self-limitation. Here’s a snippet from a great overview on brainpickings. (I recommend you click that link and read the whole thing):
“At the heart of what makes the growth mindset so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. Its hallmark is the conviction that human qualities like intelligence and creativity, and even relational capacities like love and friendship, can be cultivated through effort and deliberate practice. Not only are people with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations—they see themselves as learning…”
“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
After reading The Confidence Code I saw that in many areas of my life, I had a fixed mindset—not a growth mindset—and that was contributing to the majority of my dissatisfaction.
Since I discovered this distinction I’ve been able to trace most of my suffering back to having a fixed mindset. Whether I feel anxious or embarrassed or jealous or judgmental or confused—I can reliably identify a conclusion I made somewhere along the way that says: “I don’t have what it takes to deal with this.” Or “I’m never going to get this.” Or “There’s something wrong with me.”
Fortunately, switching mindsets is always available and it works immediately—that’s what I love about it most—it just takes remembering to apply it when you feel resistance; it just takes practice.
I would not have tried freediving if I hadn’t yet learned about the growth mindset—and there’s no chance in hell I would have stuck with it.
I consciously switched over to the growth mindset dozens of times while practicing freediving. But this moment stands out:
It was the end of AIDA 2, the second level of training. Out of our group of around 15 people who started training together, Keilan and I were the only two left. Everyone else either had trouble equalizing (popping) their ears or lost interest or didn’t reach the depth required to move on.
We were at the Blue Hole (a 400+ foot hole in the ocean right outside of Dahab) and Keilan and I were gearing up to finish the course with Lily—the most hardcore of the instructors, a record-holder, and the manager of the center. This meant we had to complete specific safety dives, prove that we could dive to 16 meters easily (though we were aiming for 20), and not make any big mistakes.
Everyone else was snorkeling, doing chill practice dives or sipping mango juice at the overlooking restaurant. I had performance anxiety. I was looking for any excuse not to get into the water.
Then Lily pulled me, Keilan and Bentinho aside and asked me what was up. “Do I intimidate you?” I told her hell yeah she intimidates me. She laughed and reassured me there was no pressure—and told me I didn’t have to complete the course today if I didn’t want to.
Then Keilan made me laugh by calling me a pussy. Then Bentinho said “remember that you’re doing this for yourself.”
Oh right. I’m doing this for myself. The reason I was doing this sport in the first place was to practice the growth mindset; to create a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval; a passion for stretching myself and sticking to it even (or especially) when it’s not going well.This exact moment—the moment where it gets hard and I want to quit—this is the moment to shift my mindset.
I geared up and got in the water, repeating to myself “I don’t want to and I’m going to.”
And then we finished the course.
And then I finished the following course after Keilan quit… pussy. 😉
A few days ago I returned home to Colorado after 5 incredible weeks in Egypt—the last week and a half was the camel trek. People applied. We pulled it off. It was successful.
The word “successful” is a low-resolution way to summarize this trip. It was stunning. It was unexpected. It was inspiring. It was filled with lessons and breakthroughs. It was hilarious. It was intense. It was slow and dry and heart-warming.
In order to give you a good hearty feel for this trip, I’ll give you a practical overview and then I’ll summarize my most memorable moments and takeaways (with photos).
The camel trek itself was 7 days. The two days before were for participants to arrive in Dahab, catch up on sleep, enjoy the ocean, and gear up. The two days after we spent relaxing at restaurants, visiting the blue lagoon, snorkeling, and soaking up our last days in paradise.
The 7 trek days in the middle were full-on: no bathrooms, no rest stops, no beds, no tents, no modern comfort—just 9 participants, 8 Bedouins (natives who are more comfortable in the desert than the city), a seasoned guide named Joyce, and 20 camels.
For the most part we just spent time together. We played. We talked some but not much. We climbed rocks, rode camels, walked, laughed with the Bedouins, ate, spent time alone, meditated, reflected, sat around the fire, and appreciated the planet.
Thanks to the simplicity of the trip, reflection and introspection were more productive and powerful than usual. Whenever I felt tension or misalignment I became immediately (and non-urgently) aware of the stuck point. And due to the nature of this trip, I had the spare time and energy and bandwidth to focus on cleaning up whatever was clouding my experience. With less noise and distraction, the relevant lessons were loud and clear.
I should also note that the group of participants was no ordinary bunch. Georgina and I were surprised when Bentinho Massaro—perhaps the most influential leader / teacher in both of our lives—applied to join our trek. Bentinho brought Anurag Gupta—a former Landmark Forum leader and current high-impact change agent. In addition to those two came Allison McLarty, Ruth Segal, Alinde Prins, Marcelle Wijnand, and Jocelyn Daher. 5 bright, mission driven women with a lot of self awareness and a ‘bring it on’ attitude. The group was awesome.
Here are a few memories, lessons and takeaways that stuck with me:
Memories, Lessons, Takeaways:
Don’t Preach. Be Authentic and Share.
The first night of the trip we were sitting around the fire, laughing and small-talking, and I felt the uncomfortable responsibility to do something; say something; lead; make it intentional; get people talking. I said something like this: “Okay hey guys, welcome, here we are! So I would like to just have everyone go around and say their intention for this trip. Who wants to start?” Crickets.
Finally Ruth spoke up and said “well I want to finish my dinner first but then I can go first.”
Everyone went around and said their intentions but the activity felt dry and heavy. I was uncomfortable the whole time. Bentinho was laughing knowingly. I was eager to go find somewhere to set up my sleeping bag.
The next day I asked Anurag for some coaching around the situation. He was quick:
“Yeah why weren’t you just authentic?”
“Why didn’t you just say what was up for you? Something like ‘Hey guys—I feel some responsibility to get more of an intentional discussion going just to set us up for an awesome trip, but I’m a little nervous and I’ve never done this before. Is that something you guys want too?’”
When he said that I facepalmed. Obviously.
I realized that by trying to direct traffic and make something happen ‘over there’ I wasn’t being responsible at all for the thing I wanted to generate. What makes an intentional dialogue unique is that it’s real and transparent and open. By instructing people to go around the circle and say their intention, I was role-modeling the opposite.
I’m especially grateful for this lesson because I’ll be co-leading another trip to Peru in a month with an emphasis on group activities, digging in, and pushing our comfort zones. (a few spots are still open).
Thinking Is For Doing.
The first few days my thoughts felt disproportionately out of sync with my experience. There were more of them than necessary. There were more thoughts than made sense for what I had to think about each day. I’ve never had that happen before. In my day-to-day life I don’t notice trivial thoughts because there’s lots to do and lots of variety. I get messages and notifications and updates on my phone, I run into people while I’m out. I have to make decisions about what to eat, what to wear, what to do with myself. As a result, my redundant and unnecessary and counterproductive thoughts get camouflaged by all the diversity of experience.
In the desert there’s not much to do. You get on the camel. You ride the camel. You get off the camel. You eat. You pee. You poop. You clean up after yourself. You set up your sleeping bag. You walk around. You look at stuff. You talk to people. You play. You sleep. And everyone else does the same thing. There’s no urgency or pressure or problem solving. There’s not much to think about.
It reminds me of a quote my mom often says: Thinking is for doing. In the desert, thinking for thinking’s sake gets old and dried out. In the desert, the only thinking you need to do is the thinking that precedes doing.
On the second or third day I told Musa, one of the Bedouins, that my brain was too fast. He laughed and told me that everyone’s brain is too fast and I needed more time in the desert. A couple days later he followed up and asked how my brain was. I was glad to tell him it had slowed down. By the end of the trip I felt steady and mentally aligned with the circumstances.
Humans are resilient and adaptable.
On the first night we ate a boatload of Bedouin bread—a delicious stretchy homemade bread they make from scratch and cook on the fire each night. The next morning Allison and I woke up with puffy faces. That’s something both of us expect to happen when we eat too much bread (worth it). That night we ate a boatload of Bedouin bread again, expecting the same symptom. The next morning we both woke up looking normal. Quick adaptation.
Same thing with my sleep. After one day of waking up with the sun I was switched over to a new sleep cycle.
I noticed the same adaptability in lots of areas. After one night we were happy and comfortable sleeping outside on sand and rocks. After a few days we were able to walk or ride camels long distances without getting sore. Even the solitude and the silence was easy to adapt to—by the end of the trek most of us felt like we could go another week or two roughing it in the desert.
I like this lesson because it contradicts a bias I tend to have about us humans: that we’re slow learners, stuck in our ways, and many of us just can’t change. On the contrary, we’re instant learners with a strong capacity to adapt when placed in environments that require adaptation.
This motivates me to be picky about my environment(s) and intentional about what I’m adapting to.
Be Like The Bedouins
If I had to summarize what I learned from the Bedouins in one sentence, I’d say this:
Do less, play, be a good person, pray.
Do less. The Bedouins are minimalists who lack nothing. They use what they need and nothing more, and as a result they seem masterful. They’re precise and tidy and attentive. When they make a fire, they burn exactly as much wood for exactly as much time as is needed to heat the water and cook the food. Then they let it go out. They don’t gather more wood than they need and they don’t burn more wood than is required to heat food.
Play. The Bedouins are funny and playful and chattery. They’re goofballs. One thing Musa kept saying was that they liked us because we joked with them the entire time. We made fun of Ataiwi’s habitual single-cough that produced no mucus. We made fun of our tragic inability to pronounce “bhabecumculco” (definitely not the right spelling) which means “I love you guys.” They made fun of us when we failed over and over to toss bedouin bread. They taught us to play backgammon. We tried to teach them to play a rock-toss game but they turned it into a sprinting-tackle match. The mood was perpetually, authentically light. Even around heavier topics, the Bedouins sustained and shared genuine, contagious joy.
Be a good person. This reputation preceded them. We spent several weeks in Dahab before meeting the Bedouins or beginning the camel trek, so we’d met other Bedouins and heard others describe Bedouins. The Bedouins are good people. Plain and simple. They are lighthearted and honest and generous. They have integrity engrained in their culture and their identities. Before the trek I asked my friend Ammar (a local) if he ever hears Bedouins making fun of western tourists in Arabic. He looked surprised and shook his head. “No. Bedouins are so nice.”
Pray. Every day, five times a day (each on their own, not all together), the Bedouins pray. But they don’t just do a quick prayer before they start eating and continue on—they leave the group, prepare a space, wash themselves, and repeat a physical ritual several times. They are fully present from start to finish. Undistracted and dutiful. Watching them pray was meditative—you can feel the devotion and the honor and the love.
Watching them pray uprooted an assumption I had about religion. My belief before was that Muslims were lost in the religion part of spirituality (the dogma and the judgment and the rules); that they were more radical and therefore less connected to the universal source that is independent from religion. But watching them pray—seeing that their connection was real—made me realize how alike we all are in spirituality. Their prayer is my meditation is an atheist’s intuition. Their connection to Allah is my connection to source is a Christian’s connection to God. I had a bias that stricter religions and belief systems necessarily correlated with a weaker connection to source. What I learned was that someone’s connection to source is not determined by how they got there.
Jump On In.
Toward the end of the trek I felt especially available for people. I felt clear and aligned and happy to share. But whenever we were having group discussions, it was painfully obvious how much more skillful Bentinho and Anurag were at making a difference for others and causing breakthroughs than I was.
At moments when I felt like I had a useful model or strategy or insight for someone, I would stay quiet and observe Bentinho or Anurag jump in. Then I would watch as the entire group upleveled. Instead of just answering their question or reframing their concern, these guys would do alchemy. That’s really how it felt—what used to be a paradox was now resolved and packaged into something that’s useful for each person in a distinct way. Whenever that happened I was grateful that I hadn’t shared when I felt inclined to share.
I told Anurag this and he retorted: “You think I started out like this? You’re going to suck in the beginning no matter what so jump on in.”
And last but not least…
Happy Camel, Happy Trek.
I was paired up with Tunesi. The happiest, strongest, smartest, most affectionate camel of the bunch (in my opinion). Musa (Tunesi’s owner) loves Tunesi and has had him since he was a young camel. You can hear Musa in the background on the video below telling me to “give him more” (cant stop at just half a bottle of water). I think this made a difference—the fact that Tunesi was treated well, had been with the same human for his whole life, and understood his job made for an awesome experience for me. Some of the other camels were just recently traded or purchased from traders and you could tell that they were hesitant or untrusting.
Joyce, our guide and the owner of Desertjoy, runs a foundation dedicated to camel health and happiness. One thing this foundation does is buy camels out of the trade and gives them to Bedouin families so they can get personalized treatment, care and training. This also gives the Bedouins more sustainable income.
By trekking with her and her team of Bedouins we were supporting a bigger mission.
For your pleasure, here is a video of me giving Tunesi some water.
I fell in love with Egypt—Dahab specifically. The people, the energy, the culture, the life. I’m already ready to go back and I want to share it with people. Fortunately, I met a special character who is going to help me make this happen. Ammar (see pic below) is from Cairo and has been in Dahab for 6 years designing wonderful, custom experiences for tourists. It’s his passion. He worked with our group of over 20 people (before the camel trek) so we got to see firsthand what a pro he is. And he’s energized about creating the next Egypt trips with me later this year. (Whenever we start scheming on trip details we LIGHT UP and our brainstorming session flies by). It’s game on.
The details are still in the works, but we’re looking at two back-to-back group trips throughout Egypt. The first one will be the first two weeks of October and the second will be immediately afterward for about 10 days. These will be high-quality retreats. Unique accommodation, excellent service, local access, and options for one-off experiences like freediving or kite surfing courses if you’re up for it. Folks can either apply for the 2 week chunk, the 10-day chunk, or the whole thing (there wont be any overlap on where we go or what we do).
The Theme: Play + Pause. We’re designing a flow that goes back and forth between activity / exploration / discovery / fun—and relaxation / time for yourself / reflection. This theme resonates for a few reasons. First because it’s generative—action and reflection (or play and pause), when balanced well, cause creativity. We want to create an environment that enlightens, transforms perspectives, and inspires action.
I haven’t officially announced these trips yet but if you’re IN and down to pay your deposit as soon as it is announced, let me know (through facebook or instagram or the “say what’s up” link in my menu) and I’ll keep you on the “early adopter” list—ya’ll will get a discount. (Now that I’ve organized a couple trips I appreciate you early adopters!)
Applications are officially open for ALIVE in Peru!
From May 19 – May 31 2018, join me, Anna Skuba, our apprentice Aspen Bentley, and our troupe of 10 wonderful people for an edge-of-your-comfort-zone trek through Cusco, Peru.
There are 7 spots available (10 people total). Early bird prices end after February 28 and second tier prices end after March 9 (more info below). Our goal is to pull together a high-energy, low-maintenance group of leaders who are down to take ownership, stretch their comfort zone, open up, and say yes. Read this page completely and if it doesn’t feel like a “F*ck Yes,” don’t apply.
…But if it does, you’re probably exactly the kind of person we want on this trip.
Cusco Plaza de Armas
Glass Igloo Sky Camp on our Salkantay Trek
Photo of Rainbow Mountain by Emmett Sparling
What To Expect
May 19: Arrive in Cusco (or ideally a day or two before to acclimate to the high altitude—we will get up to 15,200 feet!) We will pay for everyone’s lodging the night of the 19th. For the days before, you will pay an additional $30/night.
At 6pm on May 19 we have a Mandatory Trek Briefing.
May 20 – May 24: Early wakeup on the 20th for our 5-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Click here for the full rundown—it’s enchanting. Here’s a brief look at what this 5-day trek will entail:
Over 40 miles of hiking through different ecosystems—from snowy mountains to a glacier lake (see Lake Humantay photo above) to the tropical rainforest with fruit trees and waterfalls
A day in Machu Picchu (see photo above)
Trekking through the “cloud forest” in the upper Amazon jungle
A private chef, professional guides, and horses to carry most of our gear
Various small towns, base camps, and back trails with few tourists
Organic coffee, orange, and avocado plantations
Sleeping in glass igloos (see Sky Camp photo above), newly constructed jungle domes, and Andean huts
Delicious, highly-reviewed meals every day
May 24 – May 31: After our adventure we will get dropped off late at night on the 24th at our 3-story group house in central Cusco. On the 25th we will rest up, settle in, and gear up for our retreat week. Here’s what you can expect for our week at la casa:
Every participant will be responsible for leading at least one main activity for this trip. In your application below we ask that everyone includes a pitch: What activity might you lead? Be creative! It could be as simple as guiding a meditation or hide-and-seek in the woods, or as full-on as an improv comedy show or a volunteer project with locals or a hackathon at the house. We will help you organize, get tickets, budget and prepare for whatever you choose to lead, but you’re in charge.
Every night we will come together for a big yummy family dinner together. No phones, no distractions, just us. We will dedicate these dinners to sharing and listening (one microphone rule), playing games like fishbowl or the psychology game, going around the circle answering tough prompts, or even challenging ourselves by doing an entire dinner in complete silence.
Every day you can count on having free time to do your own thing (or organize something spontaneous). There’s a ton to do in Cusco. We’ll send out more information to the confirmed participants.
May 28: Full-Day Ausangate Rainbow Mountain Trek (see photo above)
May 30: Last day surprise activity 😉 followed by a send-off feast.
May 31: Check out of our group house and fly away. BUT—Cory, Aspen and Anna are staying an additional week bouncing around hostels, exploring, and possibly making a trek to Lake Titicaca. So after May 31 you’ll need to cover your own expenses, but you’re welcome to stay longer and travel with us.
Apply If This Applies To You…
You have a valid passport
You’re in good physical shape (can trek 40+ miles and up to 15,000 ft. altitude)
You feel alive as you read these intentions:
5 Intentions for ALIVE in Peru:
Adopt an Attitude of Improvisation. We are generating this trip together. We are all supporting actors. In other words this isn’t about you consuming a vacation that someone else is organizing for you, this is us creating something as a team. Here are the 4 rules of improvisation according to Tina Fey:
Agree. This doesn’t mean literally agreeing with what anyone says or does—but instead of flagrantly rejecting or contradicting them, use your energy instead to understand, engage, and move forward.
Say YES, AND. Fully accept the reality that you’re in, then contribute to it. Again, you don’t have to agree in order to accept a situation or a person or an idea for what it is. Listen, lean in, add value.
Make Statements. Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.
There are no mistakes. Only opportunities. SOMETHING WILL GO WRONG. The way you interpret and handle it determines whether or not it was a mistake or an opportunity.
Push Your Comfort Zone: This trek is going to be hard. Spending this much time immersed with the same people could be challenging. Stepping up and leading a group activity might be intimidating. Some of our group conversations might get uncomfortably vulnerable. Expect this. Move toward this. Resist the urge to close down when it gets overwhelming. The edge of your comfort zone is the hardest and most growth-saturated place you can be.
Open Up To Deep Connections: Every night we will get together for dinner without our phones or anything to distract us and we will get to know each other. Everyone will speak and everyone will listen. We’ll look each other in the eyes and connect on a level many of us don’t anymore.
We will walk 40 miles together. We do things none of us have ever done before together. We’ll get playful and lovey and irritated and tired and generous and grateful together. We will lead each other and follow each other.
For these two weeks, give yourself permission to be vulnerable, open up, let people in, and share yourself.
Take Ownership: Ownership changes the game. When people have ownership of a project something shifts: they care and support it and bring it to life. During this retreat you will take ownership for leading or facilitating or organizing some aspect of the trip. Don’t worry—we will help you make it epic—you’re not alone : )
But this is not a lazy, chill-by-the-pool vacation. This is real and present and alive. Add value. Instead of consuming this trip, generate it.
Play. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Try stuff. Be resilient. Compete. Let yourself look bad. Opt in. Get weird.
Early bird (apply by February 28) $1,990
Normal bird (apply by March 9): $2,290
Late bird (apply by March 30): $2,490
Where you been bird: (apply by April 20): $2,690
Lodging from May 19 – May 31
Group transportation in / around Cusco from May 19 – May 31
Group travel insurance (including medical coverage)
This is THE FIRST OFFICIAL international group trip / collaborative retreat / meditation excursion and we’re looking for the right 10 people to come along.
Here’s the deal: read through the description and if it resonates, apply by writing me a short message to let me know why. It’s important to us to curate an incredible group so after you reach out we’ll set up a group call to see if it’s a good fit 🙂
(FYI: If this trip doesn’t resonate, I’ll be leading more this year with different themes and intentions so stay tuned).
From this March 27 – April 6, 2018, join me, my friend and co-host Georgina, a private professional guide, a team of Bedouin (nomads) and a herd of camels for an 11-day trip in Egypt for up to 10 people.
Here’s the main filter—(and be honest, this should either energize you or repel you):
Okay, of course there will be structure. We’ll meditate in the mornings. We’ll eat together. We’ll have our transportation and logistics figured out ahead of time. We’ll play games and encourage each other to lead activities and get to know the Bedouins and probably develop some inside jokes. We’ll get a solid break from our work and our phones and our daily tedium. We’ll sleep under the stars some nights. We’ll spend most of our time silently trekking through the Dahab desert on camelback. We’ll get attached to the camels and probably each other…
When you see “Expect nothing,” take it less literally and more energetically. It’s the attitude we’re looking for from the group we take. We want a group of people who are wide-eyed and ready and curious. People who are low-maintenance and supportive and non-dramatic. People who are excited about being encouraged to drop their expectations and attachments in order to be right here right now. We want to know we’re spending 11 days with people who feel the same way we feel: in love. Present. Light. Grateful. Open.
In other words, don’t apply if you’re looking for a conventional tourist vacation. This trip is not about being entertained or stimulated. It’s simpler (and perhaps harder) than that: be present and open and loving and empty. Over and over and over and over.
The truth is: we don’t know what to expect either, so how could you? But we know [and love] how it feels. If you feel that too, we want you on our trip.
Deadline to confirm with minimum $600 payment: January 22
Deadline to pay in full: February 1 (Absolutely no later than February 15)
Dates: March 27 – April 6, 2018 (11 day trip with 7 days in the desert)
Cost: $1,700 excluding airfare
7-day journey in the Dahab desert (with a professional guide (desertjoy.nl), Bedouin, camels, meals, etc.)
Rooms before and after the desert journey
Group dinners before and after the desert journey
Transportation within Egypt (excluding airfare)
Be open and wonderful
Purchase your own flights into Sharm el Sheikh, arriving on or before March 27
Pay for your own visa ($25 – $35 upon arrival to Sharm el Sheikh airport)
Pay for your own travel insurance if desired
Confirm by February 1 with minimum $600 payment
Pay in full ($1,700) by February 1. (absolutely no later than February 15)
Bring sleeping bag + sleeping mat
We are now most likely ALSO doing this trip in mid October in addition to the March trip. So if that’s your preference, mention that in your message to me.