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A Physical Therapist Uses Eastern Modalities Such As Yoga And Reiki To Balance The Body And Mind with Kevin Davi
One of the topics or one of the aspects of healing dear to me is the meditation practice. This is in a much broader word than most people think about. Meditation is anytime you’re bringing awareness to your body and anytime you’re creating a shift in the state of being or the state of mind. There are many different ways to do that. It’s not just sitting and be quiet. You can meditate while you walk. You can meditate while you drive. You can do it however you want. Why I try and bring people to at least try meditation, and you’ve experienced this, is it’s a powerful way to get the body into a state where it can heal.
It totally works. I’ve fought it for so long. No matter how many reps I did with the PT or how many arm lifts or whatever I was able to do then. What lacked in my practice before my stroke, being an athlete and all, doing mixed martial arts, running the hills or doing whatever I was doing was calming the brain down. Meditating for that several minutes a day, I was having my alone time.
There are many facets to it. One is it can create focus, it can intentionally rewrite the neuropathways. If we’re speaking to healing, what it’s doing is it’s the quickest, cheapest, free way to bring your body out of stress and into a state they call the parasympathetic nervous system. All that’s saying is you’re putting the body in a state of relaxation and that’s where your body heals.
You can enhance your performance with meditation as well.
It’s multifaceted. What I did was I took meditation and about ten other core foundational elements of health. I put them all into one offering for people. If you’re interested in hearing a deeper dive onto all these different topics and how you can create a foundation for health, no matter what you’re into, jump on over AdventuresInHealth.tv. Right on the homepage, you can punch in your email address and you’ll get ten or eleven videos. There are five tips for each one.
It’s the easy button, Taylor. I’m excited for you. I’m proud of you because what you’re doing with me and some other people because people come and ask you, “How do you do this? How do you do that?” He’s been offering them advice from meditation to health tips, supplements and everything else. Why not sign up for free and follow him?
I got tired of explaining individually to people. I was like, “Why don’t I put this all in one place?”
It’s my idea. It’s your brain. Let’s call it a spade of spade because the guy sits around and cooks meals that are incredible all the time. People would sit in the kitchen and ask him, “How do you do this? How do you do that?” After a while, the lineup was calling me. I said, “You’ve got to put this down on paper.” It’s his brilliance but it’s my idea. It’s all about me. Our guest hits home with me because he’s a physical therapist and he’s brilliant. What Kevin has done is tied it all in.
He talks a lot about meditation, which is why we brought that into the intro.
He’s groundwork in meditation, but he’s not only a PT from the standpoint of being certified and went to school for it, but he went in early and he came out early. He’s one of these guys who are radical, he’s hip, he’s fun and he’s good-looking. We’re bringing him on the team, and I can’t wait to start working with him because he’s got the next steps for me and stages to help me to get clear on my path.
What he does well is he brings to the table this traditional physical therapy background and he ties it into a lot of the Eastern healing traditions. These are synergistic. They can work together. Why not reap the benefit of doing all the top things out there? Doing just physical therapy isn’t enough.
I’ll be the first one to say that because I’m the guinea pig for it and needed all to do it all.
They call it holistic healing for a reason because it requires all aspects of who we are as human beings. It’s mental, emotional and physical. If we don’t work with all these different pathways, we’re not creating a full experience for ourselves and we’re not creating the best circumstances for our body to care for itself.
Taylor, let’s talk about subscribing in people, if you want to read out a review.
I always like to give a shout out to our community, let you know how you can help us to grow this mission and grow this show. We are two men and a couple of other wonderful people on our team that are trying to spread this message of healing, rejuvenation and all of these wonderful things we’re trying to promote. What we need is help. The quickest, easiest free way to help us is to jump into iTunes and press the subscribe button. If you want to go the extra mile, a five-star review, a quick sentence or two. That helps people find the show. If you know someone in your life or a loved one is strolling through some obstacle, challenge or health concern, do them the simple gift of sending them a show to help shift their perspective. We’re trying to help loved ones in our lives but being direct and telling them they need to make a shift and make a change doesn’t work.
You can’t tell anybody what to do. The show and people like Kevin, as you read all the reviews and start to follow us, you’ll start to see there are opportunities and avenues for you to take without struggling so much. Let’s bring on Kevin Davi.
Welcome to the show, Kevin. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. It’s great to be on with you.
We’re happy to have you. Sean, how are you doing over there?
I’m excited. I’ve got a PT here who knows and understands me, the veterans and how to help people heal and recover.
Will you give the audience who you are and what you do, Kevin, and we’ll roll from there?
I’m Kevin Davi. I have been a physical therapist for a few years now. I’m out in LA. I’ve worked in almost all of the areas of physical therapy, whether it be in hospitals on stroke rehab floors. I’ve worked in sports medicine. I do pediatric therapy. I do in-home therapy. I’m also a yoga instructor and a level-two Reiki certified. I try to work that mindfulness and some meditation aspects into my treatments as well. It’s been a fun ride in my own adventure in health.
It sounds like you’ve got a little bit of everything woven in there. What inspired you first to get involved with physical therapy and that whole line of work to begin with?
I was a big athlete in high school. I played all these sports. I had my injuries here and there. I wound up doing two long stints in physical therapy. One for broken wrists where I broke both bones and had two plates, eight screws, carpal tunnel surgery, all that stuff. On the other hand, concussions and going into neuro physical therapy to try to get my brain working a little bit better. It was something that when you’re eighteen and you’re looking for something to do with your life, it seemed better than any office job I would have. It seemed better than sitting behind the desk. The people I worked with seemed invested. They seemed to move around. They seemed to have good energy. I thought, “Let me look into this.” The school that I went to, Northeastern, had a great program where I could apply as a freshman. They’d smoosh the program together so I could get out in six years as opposed to seven or eight. That’s how I got into it.
I’m always curious about what got people into things in the first place. Usually, it’s something to do with what happened to them. Clearly, it’s what happened to you. You were going through injuries and you’re looking to heal. With physical therapy, I know you mentioned meditation, yoga and Reiki but did you mostly start approaching the body from a physical perspective?
I started PT school at a super young age. I went in as a freshman. I was eighteen. Everything you learn is by the book. Everything I’ve learned about the body, my base, my foundation is all as Western medicine as it could possibly be. Whether it’s a protocol for how you rehab an ACL replacement or where the body moves, the integration of the different systems. None of the meditation, mindfulness got involved until I was a little later into my program. I found meditation in college and it helped with some of the leftover stuff I was having from concussions. I started to weave it into some of my PT school and I did a huge project on some of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work on meditation and pain management.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, he’s super famous as far as meditation is concerned for Western medicine. He puts together probably the most well-backed meditation experiment that’s been done for Western medical research. What he did was he took two groups of people and he did this test where he would give them a painful stimulus. It was a heat lamp or something. They would grade their painful stimulus and he would also take a functional MRI of the brain to see what was going on. He took the two groups, then he taught one group mindfulness meditation and taught the other group nothing. When he came back months later, the group that was taught mindfulness meditation had much lower pain scores than the other group.
What he found in the functional MRI was that the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, wasn’t lighting up. These people were still having the response that, “There’s a hot sensor on my forearm,” but they weren’t having the response of like, “Why is there a hot sensor on my forearm?” When I read that, I equated it back to my own practice, my own meditation. I saw how important mindset was to healing and not healing. As a PT, you have people come into your office every day and some people you’re like, “This person’s going to get better.” Some people you’re like, “I don’t see them getting better.” It’s a mindset thing more than an injury thing.
In a scientific way, what you explained through that study as this non-reactive mindset you can create through meditation. Would you say that’s right in your perspective?
Yeah, exactly. A good example they use there is stubbing your toe is the worst pain ever. It’s the worst pain ever because you weren’t expecting it and it shouldn’t have happened. If you stub your toe and you take a second, you’re like, “This isn’t that bad,” but chances are you were doing something else and you’re like, “Where did this come from?”
It almost shocks you. I was at the gym working out in flip flops. I was lifting weights in flip flops and I clang my toe on a weight rack. This hurt bad. I took one or two deep breaths. What you’re speaking to is building this, “That happened to me, but I’m not going to take it on past that moment.”Just giving yourself some space to process it without going through the thought of processing it. Click To Tweet
It’s something that happens. There’s the initial pain of it, but then the sensory part of the pain is to let your body know that, “You’re in a bad situation.” If you touch something hot, the pain is supposed to let you know you stop touching that. After that, it’s done. You pull away and then you should be good as long as you haven’t completely burnt yourself.
Kevin, everything you’re saying is spot on. How do you deal with people like me or the community who have been through a stroke? Unfortunately, I wish it was just a stubbed toe but for us, we’re a little paralyzed at times. I know you’ve been through the neuro side of it and worked on the stroke ward, which is phenomenal and thank you for your service of that. The big thing I had to get through after a few years, and I’m getting through it, is acceptance of where I’m at this moment in time. What do you tell people, “You’re paralyzed on a certain side. You have a weak side?”
These people would tell me to meditate in the beginning and I’ve got to tell you, I was about ready to kill them because I was like, “Get me into the weight room,” because I’m used to active running, active jogging. A lot of the people I talked to were marathon runners or people who did tough marathons and Spartans. I don’t know how I attracted them in my life, but they’re agile and equipped to do some intense things with their body. All of a sudden, the stroke put them out. As you know, it takes a long time for recovery. What are your thoughts? What can you recommend to people of that nature?
That’s the tough one, especially I listened to your story too and from the place you were at beforehand to the place you wound up when you woke up in the hospital, that’s a huge loss to you. That’s something you have to deal within. I don’t think I’d necessarily recommend meditation to you right away because I’d expect that response.
We have people who are veterans in our audience. One of my guys who served or was not active at the moment came into my therapy, came to my recovery room and I had a big whiteboard. He wrote in big letters across the whiteboard, “Don’t be soft.” I was like, “What are you saying don’t be soft?” I got a helmet on my head. I’ve got a feeding tube. I’ve got a PICC line. I want to get in the weight room. I’m on all these meds that I don’t even know what I’m doing. I got into it and he goes, “Continue to have what you have now.” At that time, I had to control my anger because my anger turned me into getting out of there and walking again. As bad as it sounds, it kept me alive. That was the inner rage or whatever you want to call it. I look back, it wasn’t the right thing, but it got me to where I was.
Me, Taylor, and the yoga community out here have an interesting thought on anger and negative energy that like, “Be positive.” That’s BS, but use your anger for a good cause. If you’re angry, use that to work as hard as you can in your physical therapy treatments. The biggest thing for meeting someone like you would be if I came into your room and I’m talking to you, the first thing I’m going to tell you is like, “I understand where you were at beforehand, I do. I understand you were a badass in every way. You’re equating the badass to the physical abilities that you had. What we got to do is get that into the mental capacity you have.” Where we’re starting is nothing but your start point. Let’s say you were training for Tough Mudder, but then we were going to do something completely different. You’re going to swim five miles. Day one is day one. It doesn’t matter what day one is, but it’s a few improvements you make each day to get to where we want to go. You have to find your day one line before you start training towards anything.
It’s defending me from that moment and I didn’t want to hear it. I listen to you and it touches my heart because there are many people who are left with nothing and everything is taken away. Because of my mental aptitude at the time and is committed to walking again, I destroyed everything around me. I didn’t want to listen to anybody else or I wanted to put that foot forward whether it worked or not. I get what you’re saying, thank you for that. It is day one of that journey, it’s what most people say, and Taylor’s been great with that.
I appreciate you saying we’re part of the yoga community and it tends to be this happy go lucky, everything’s awesome. My perspective is feel your emotion regardless of what it is and have a complete experience. I was reading a book called The Science of Enlightenment and what he talks about is not judging one experience as good or one experience as bad. If you’re going to be angry, have a complete experience. Don’t judge yourself for being angry because in certain situations, it’s completely reasonable to be upset, angry, frustrated and scared. Allow that experience to have a complete round trip.
I’m sure you’ve met these people too and I do not hate anybody, but you meet the yoga hippie. You look at him, he’s living in that seventh chakra, his feet are on the ground and you’re like, “Am I talking to a person?” That’s not a complete experience either. You want to be Gandhi. That’s not the typical human experience. You’re not going to get all the ups and downs if you decide you’re going to be a saint. My thought is if you want to live the life most of us are out here living, then lean into your anger. Utilize the anger and don’t think, “I had a bad day. I’m a bad person.” Everybody has bad days. We can work with that.
The one word I got from what you’re speaking is balance.
Kevin, it’s a scene from one of the Rocky movies. He’s brilliant when he says, “It’s not the matter of how many times you win, it’s how many times you get knocked down, come back up and keep fighting.” That’s what you’re saying to me and the community that we share. You’re going to get knocked down. You’re going to stub your toe and it’s going to hurt. You’re possibly going to get into an accident. You may have a shoulder replacement, a hip replacement or a stroke. It seems like an eternity, but it is the moment in time you’ll get through it. It’s about those people who have the wellness trend and the community around them to fight through it at those times to make a difference.
It speaks to you as a person. Your story is an incredible story, but you continue to be the badass throughout the whole story. As you were feeling good and before everything happens, you were seeking out obstacles. You were seeking out obstacles everywhere you could to see like, “How can I challenge my body? How can I be better? How can I be the best possible version of me?” All of a sudden, the universe throws this huge curve ball at you, but the challenges remain the same. You’ve got bigger obstacles. They weren’t the obstacles you wanted to face, but they’re obstacles and you set up your life that you can overcome obstacles. Those are opportunities for you to get better.
You’re better than any psychiatrist and shrink I’ve been to. Thank you for saying that. I’ll give you another hint, Kevin, which I came to realize. My stroke was not caused by a choke. My stroke was caused by self-inducing anger and pain that I had before my stroke. Someone said, “You were training with the military, got choked out and it caused a stroke.” If I were on stage with you or with anybody else talking, I’d say, “It was my mental, emotional disarray that caused my stroke to happen.” It challenged me in a way I had to become either a messenger or meet people like you, Taylor and Thai, where I can create a group, give back and be of service. I was not of service to anyone but myself, my kids and my family at the time. I didn’t know compassion. I didn’t know what it was to love something or to give.
I love my children, but the love and I see what I want to be is that person, to meditate and to breathe. I’m addicted to meditation. If I don’t do it twice a day, I’m a jerk. It’s my drug. If you’d asked me this a while ago, I would have said, “Who are you?” I would’ve tried to slap you. I would’ve tried to take you down and that’s not a good thing either. I’m not like that anymore. I had to give up that person to me to say, “I can fight for other people, but I don’t need to fight myself in the mirror.” Taylor never met me before my stroke. Neither did Thai or you and there are a lot of people out there. You guys may not have liked me either. That wasn’t arrogance. It was an ego that I didn’t know how to control. God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “We’re going to set up a new mission now.” Everything you’re saying resonates with me. Thanks a lot.
It’s interesting you say that too because with my history of concussions, seeing all the work that comes out with CTE and guys playing football, pass or repetitive trauma. Throwing them into the situation where afterward they’re all depressed, they have problems, then the suicide rates are high. You can’t deny the science behind injuries to the brain that something’s going on and there’s damage there. I also think not dissimilar from your story is that you have this NFL football player who the world revolves around him. He turns on the morning TV and they’re talking about the touchdowns he scored. He plays for a certain amount of time and then all of a sudden, it all goes away. He’s not in the news. Nobody’s talking about him. He didn’t get the deal to call games afterward. That’s a scary place to be in. NFL players come out of the league around 28, 30. The guy who doesn’t know himself and he identifies with this position of, “I’m this elite athlete,” if they don’t find something to fill that void, they can become that super angry person and keep going down that path. They’ve got to find something to fill that role almost.
My buddies all played in the league for many years. Troy Aikman, that’s a guy who played too long and too far. I watched him all the time even though he went to the wrong school at UCLA. He was a legend. If you look at him in Fox, he has trouble remembering certain things and that’s because of the many hits he took.
The number of hits too and you do not have the resources to heal and recover from the number of hits. If anyone reading wants more of a deep dive into the NFL and what’s going on there, we did an episode with Eben Britton. He goes all in-depth into what’s going on behind the scenes and what he was doing to help recover. It’s a crazy world, and they’re shooting you up on meds to keep your shoulder lodged in and keep fighting.In certain situations, it is completely reasonable to be upset, angry, frustrated and scared. Click To Tweet
He was 6’6” and 330 pounds when he played. He’s become this yoga guru meditation master. He’s now 6’6” and 240 pounds but built like a beast. If you saw him, he looks like The Hulk, but he’s the nicest guy on the planet. He’s doing a podcast with Mike Tyson. Warren Sapp was a partner of mine too in the past and he’s an animal. I couldn’t hang with him for longer than ten minutes because the amount of anger he has is too overwhelming for me and me being an empath. Tell us about what you’ve got going on? You did the PT stuff, but Taylor says you have a whole new world of what you practice.
I’ll refine that a little bit. You started your world in physical therapy and traditional. Would you say that you’re connected very much with that traditional learning or you’ve gone on your own path?
I’m very much in it because I can never take away what I learned in school, my foundation of everything. There are a million healers out here too, especially out in that LA yoga community. I don’t take anything against them, but I have that foundation of going through the rigors of, “You either pass this test or you don’t.” You take that board exam to make sure you’re okay, then you get this big stamp of approval. All of a sudden, I can call myself a doctor. It’s all a hoax when it comes down to it because at the end of the day, if you put in the work, all of the information is available to you. Someone could do exactly what I do if they put in the time and put in the effort.
That being said, I am related back to physical therapy. I treat from a physical therapy perspective. I’ve exited health insurance. What I do is I was working in a clinic down in Santa Monica. On my busy days, I would see 24 people in a day. We had scheduling where it would be 45-minute visits, double-booked. I had an aide I worked with who was good, but you’d see me. If you came in for your 12:00 appointment, I’d see you from 12:00 until 12:20. I pass you over to my aide and he’d do what I told him to do with you. I trained him as good as it could be. In a case like this, how much good can I do in twenty minutes?
It’s not enough time to even begin to get anywhere with someone.
The thing I’ve realized since I’ve changed out of that is there’s no way you can ever tell anybody, “Hurry up and heal.” You can’t do that. That’s not how the body works. I stepped outside of that realm. I worked with insurance for a moment trying to broker deals to pay me to go to houses. It didn’t work out that well because health insurance is a bit of a mess in this country. What I decided was like, “I’m going to charge out-of-pocket prices.” When we charged out-of pocket-prices, essentially what I’ve done is I charge a certain amount for my initial visit. Based on that, I like to take into account what people would expect of me is for me to take insurance. I’ve juggled some things.
In the case of someone who needs a little bit more help, we package that deal up to make it affordable for them. At the end of the day, what I realized is I want to work with people that want to work with me. If we’re a good vibe when I see you on that first day, I think I can help you and you can help yourself whether through a combination of PT, massage therapy, yoga meditation, breath work, if you’re down and you’re going to vibe with me as a healer, then we’re working together. I’ll make the other things work. I’ll figure out my rent other ways.
Not necessarily thinking about what you can do for someone, but is this person going to show up? In my experience, it doesn’t matter what I can do, or you can do for someone you’re working with if they’re not going to meet you at least halfway.
That’s completely why I got my Reiki certification. I got attuned in Reiki not because I wanted to put it on my website that, “I do Reiki healing as well.” I got Reiki certified for completely selfish reasons. I found that if I was working on people, especially if you have 24 patients come in per day, you take on the energy of those people being in the same room with them. Not only that but listening to their stories. Some of them are like, “My back hurts a little bit,” and some of them are intense. I’m listening to you guys’ first show and I had to turn it off a couple of times because it’s an intense story. If you’re an empath at all, you feel it.
What show was that?
It’s episode one.
It’s the first one where you’re telling your story. I want to dig in here because one thing I always am trying to do is help people understand a deeper perspective. In your words, what is Reiki? Why do you choose to believe in that practice?
My Reiki master would say that I butchered this explanation, but in my experience of Reiki, Reiki is energy work. Everything has the energy to it. If you’ve ever been in a room with someone, that person that walks into the room, lights up the room and everybody in the room can feel that. They have this great energy then you know there’s certain energy to people. Reiki work is essentially utilizing some of the energy of the universe to soften energy blockages for people, whether that be in the chakras or sometimes more muscularly about it. It might be two feet above the muscle as opposed to the right down in it.
The reason I wound up utilizing it so much was I would have people come in and some people identify with their pain. Some people will come in and the first thing they’ll tell me, or you used to tell me was, “I have chronic back pain. It’s always hurt. It’s hurt for years. I’ve seen 100 different people and I’m not sure this is going to work.” My first thought is like, “What are we doing?” Those people, if you wind up working with them, they do have an effect on your day. What they want is to feel the intensity of what they’re feeling, which I understand because we all want someone to sympathize with us. My thought is, “I’m not here to sympathize with you. I’m here to get you better. I’m here to get you on that path.”
If I saw that person at 9:00 in the morning and they completely wiped out my energy, then the next ten people I see are not getting the same healing I know I’m capable of. What I work with in my Reiki practice is essentially blocking off my energy and protecting myself from taking on other people’s things. What I want to do is if you have low back pain and I’m here to help you, I want it to be clear that this is your low back pain. This is your journey. I’m here to get things done and show you what you can do to help it. I can’t go home thinking about your low back pain as part of my low back pain. That can’t transfer to me because then I can’t help you. I’ve got to stay grounded in me before I can help you.
You’re speaking to something we’ve dealt with over here. We have a lot of deep, emotional, intense conversations with people who have these stories of overcoming trauma. Sometimes by the end of a show, we’re overwhelmed, beat down and broken. We called a friend of ours, Mark Nelson, he’s a psychic medium. We were like, “What do you do when you have these conversations with people?” For him, it’s, “I pick up a book. I start reading a book to get my mind off of those thoughts and ideas.” What we distilled it down to is any way you can create a state change for yourself. Any way you can get out of the feeling or moment you’re having. Get outside and go for a walk or anything you can do to take yourself out of that space and into a new one.When you've got a hammer, every problem becomes a nail. Click To Tweet
It’s about processing it, but not necessarily going through the thought process of processing it. It’s like if you work out, your body is recovering the rest of the day and you’re not thinking about like, “I’ve got to send blood flow to my biceps so that they can be ready to go.” It’s happening.
Kevin you’re hitting on it because you do PT for whatever you can do for 45 minutes or an hour, which is a lot for anybody, especially with the neuro world because we get brain tired. It’s the amount of rest, sleep and nutrition which are needed, which Taylor’s been such a help on that. The brain and the body can’t go eight hours a day, work out for four hours of that, and expect to get the same results. What I hear from you is to work your butt off, but it’s also important to work your butt off to get some rest.
If you see somebody in PT that’s been through surgery or been through a traumatic injury, even if they show up with the right attitude and they’re like, “I’m going to run that Spartan race. I’m going to show up and I’m going to do this. Let’s do more.” Sometimes you’ve got to say, “I get it. I appreciate where you’re at, but you’ve got to slow it down too because the body takes time to heal.”
My perspective has always been the body needs to be in a state of ease and the nervous system needs to be calm before any healing can ever happen. I stumbled onto this when I was doing personal training full-time, where I would sit down, and I went through hundreds of consultations with people. They’re like, “I’m doing this. I’m working out five or six times a week, but I do not see results.” All I ever wanted to do is tell those people like, “Take a day, sit on the couch, put the Netflix on, eat a pint of ice cream and be okay with it.”
It’s self-care. My favorite yoga to teach is restorative or some version of restorative. You teach at Hot 8 and I taught at CorePower and Equinox. CorePower and Hot 8, I’m pretty sure are essentially the same deal. They miss that component sometimes of the restorative practice. People come in for this, “I do it six days a week and I’m doing yoga.” I get a ton of clients I see that will ask me. They’ll be like, “I don’t understand why my body doesn’t feel good. I do yoga seven days a week.” I’m like, “That’s why your body doesn’t feel good.”
I’ll add on that note, especially in yoga, it’s not how many times you’re practicing. It’s how are you treating yourself while you’re practicing. Many people get in those rooms and I used to be this person. I used to be the person who showed up to yoga class and was like, “I’m going to be relentless in here and I’m going to hold every pose as intensely as I can for the entire class.” The more I put in, the more I might get out. What I learned and caused myself was chronic low back pain for several months. I went to a yoga teacher one day after a couple of months of dealing with it and said, “What do you think is going on here? I’m doing yoga three times a day and this, that and the other.” He looked at me, smiled and goes, “Have you tried not trying so hard?”
They’re in the deep pose and you can see the jaw super locked in. I like to cue my students, “You don’t have to go further because I’ve cued you into this deeper posture. How about rather than going as deep as you could possibly go, give it a little slack and see if we can stay here for a while.” You’re not happy when you get into a handstand. If you can hang for it there for a while, that’s cool. It’s finding that balance of how to utilize your practice for health. That’s why I loved yoga because I came to it from the other perspective that I was working ten-hour shifts in a PT clinic, seeing the 24 people a day. I was shot. I was done. I couldn’t bring myself to the gym because I was on my feet all day. I’m doing manual work. I would get to the gym, realized I did two exercises and I was like, “I’m going home. I’m going to sleep.” Yoga was cool because I could basically use it as my self-evaluation. It moved slowly enough that I could see like, “What works in my body? What needs some help?” I would do my own PT assessment of myself through yoga practice.
Everything you’re saying is real because Taylor got me back in the yin. The Yin restorative is amazing because I showed up in the beginning and I hated it. I used to do CorePower all the time in San Diego. I took some of my Navy SEALs, the Marines with me and we did it like clockwork. I don’t have that same body as I do at the moment. I fought it. I’m in Yin and I did my own style. I do what I can do. Yoga is for anybody who wants to go. The teacher is a messenger to assist you and you’re there to assist him or her. I’ve learned that I see Taylor get into a pose where he levitates. He’s on his big toe and he’s off the ground. He’s in this pose and he’s sweating. The next thing I look over and he’s snoring. It’s beautiful because it taught me he is doing his own pace and whether or not he wants to do a handstand, walk up the walls and hang from the ceiling. The next thing he’s out cold. It’s okay for me to do the same because there’s no judgment. Nobody’s judging anybody in there. It’s a safe haven, plus I can turn off my cell phone and not be with it for an hour.
I’ll be in the middle of an hour power class and Sean saying, “I’m good. I’ll lie down and take a nap for the rest of the class.” It puts people off because they’re like, “He’s not trying,” but it’s coming from this perspective in my mind if I’m creating this relationship with myself and finding this balance of effort versus relaxation. If I do not feel if I can execute a pose well, I don’t even want to go there at all.
You’re only showing up for you. There’s nothing to prove. In the yoga world, especially coming from the PT side, me being a patient, a student, a teacher at the same time, it’s okay to go in there, expect nothing and allow yourself to heal. It’s my place of healing. One of our producers, Thai Starkovich, texted me and he said that he didn’t give himself time to heal after the war. He’s finding that time to let himself heal. That healing can come from the mindset. It can come from the body, giving a chance to reconnect. That’s what yoga will do for me. I’ve got to come to take your class because I would be honored and grateful.
One of the things I talk to my students about or the way I sequence their set, try to set up my class is one of the big things is the intention. Take a moment to have our intention for class. I don’t do my intention until at least ten, fifteen minutes into the class. What I tell my students is, “You might have this big, earthly intention of like, ‘I’ve been working super hard on flipping upside down and I’ve got to work on the strengths. That’s why I’m here and that’s what I’m doing.’ If in the first fifteen minutes of moving your body around, you’re going through the systems and you’re like, ‘That’s not working. That needs some love.’ That’s not the day you push for a handstand.” If you’ve taken those ten minutes with that open mind and that no expectation that you mentioned, then all of a sudden when I say, “What is your intention?” Your intention isn’t something your mind came up with. Your intention is something that your mind and your body devised together that best serves you the whole, and then your practice can take off.
What you’re getting at, and this has been my learning experience in yoga as well, is you have first to assess your physical body. Where are you feeling tight, tense, sore and in pain? In an hour class, how can you serve that? Even if the teacher is going through a sequence, “My hips are hurting now.” As we go through the sequence, I’m going to bring my awareness to my hips. How can I subtly tweak this pose or modify it a little bit to work on what I need at that moment? That’s beautiful that you have people get in their body and then set that intent so they can work on what they need.
What I’ve learned too with Taylor had taught me and I’m going in specifics because I talked stroke and the community is part of that. My shoulder is dislocated. It’s subluxed. It’s a three-inch subluxation. The pain I go through daily, it’s because my brain and my shoulder aren’t connecting. It’s being held by the skin and by random tendons. It’s always tight. It’s always spasming. The pain could be eight, nine or ten. What we’ve done in yoga is he takes my arm, puts a three-pound weight, extends my arm, it opens up the blood flow and the circulation. What Taylor has done for me is amazing. Do you know what the orthopedic surgeon wanted to do? He wanted to fuse my shoulder. What good is that? I can’t rehab it and if I fused my shoulder, it’s gone forever.
What Taylor’s done in a matter of a few months has been awesome because he does it with my hip, my shoulder, but it’s simple things like that we’re giving advice to people who have similar injuries as myself. Take the arm out, whether it’s a knee, it’s chronic pain or it’s scar tissue. After a few years, I have a lot of scar tissue and it can rebuild itself, but I’ve got to flush it out first, and that’s what we’re doing. If anybody out there who has a weak side, affected side or paralyzed side, it doesn’t matter if it’s a spinal cord injury or anything. If you want to stand again, you’re going to stand again but it’s going to take time. It’s going to take hard work. You’ve got to let your body heal and release those toxins that are created by the mind and the body.
You couldn’t be more right with something like that. I’ve seen that subluxation following stroke and it’s gnarly. There are not a lot of quick fix that you can do for it, one of them is to fuse the shoulder. Surgeons are interesting people. They’re incredibly intelligent and some of the smartest people I’ve ever talked to. When you’ve got a hammer, every problem becomes a nail. For a guy like you, if they knew anything about you and knew anything about the lengths you’re willing to go to work on your body to get you where you need to be, then surgery isn’t even a question. You’re willing to take the time, you’re willing to put in the hours, and I would never talk to you about surgery because that’s the easy way out. You’re by no means taking that in anything.
There’s no quick fix. Taylor, what is the quote from the chiropractor?At the end of the day, if you put in the work, all of the information is available to you. Click To Tweet
Dr. Joe Dispenza was a chiropractor who ultimately started teaching people meditation to heal on an extreme level. People show up to his workshop in a wheelchair and walk out. It’s that level of profound healing he has cultivated. His whole line that Sean was asking me to repeat is, “The intelligence that made the body can heal the body.” He brings people in and teaches them how to get out of the way so the intelligence of the body can do its thing.
This guy was hit in a marathon or a triathlon by a car.
I forget the details, but he essentially fractured his spine in several different locations.
They wanted to put steel bolts in there. He literally laid on his stomach or back for weeks, meditated, realigned his whole spine and walked out.
They told him he would never walk again. In eight weeks, he walked out.
He’s on the movie Heal. It’s on Netflix or iTunes. It’s one of these things that he’s one of the speakers on it. I believe the mind is powerful. It can heal anything.
What I’ve discovered following this train of thought, the intelligence that made the body can heal the body. How do I take that phrase? How do I bring it into action? My perspective is through my meditation practice, what I’ve discovered is when you’re trying to control the experience, you’re having either in meditation or in life, you’re going to meet resistance. If you get out of the way and you observe the experience that’s happening to you, then you’re allowing the body to use its innate intelligence to take care of itself in any way.
If you want to run through a wall, good luck. If you want to find cracks and adjust your body in certain ways that you can slip through the cracks, that’s probably the better way. You’re never going to see the opening two feet down the wall if you’ve got your head down and the crown of your head buried into that wall. As far as the body healing itself and even this guy realigning his spine, one of the phrases used in yoga a lot is like, “Roll your body one vertebrae at a time.” Anybody that’s in their first yoga class is like, “What does that mean?” You’ve got seven cervical vertebrae, you’ve got twelve thoracics, you’ve got five lumbar.
The way your back is supposed to move is that each vertebra does a little bit of work. As we get older, as we start to get into our habits and the easy way of moving, what happens is one or two vertebrae will do a ton of work. The others start to move less and less, which is why we get stuff like slipped discs or vertebrae out of alignment. One vertebra is working way too much, but I don’t think it’s any dissimilar from learning a skill. If you’re learning to throw a curve ball, you’ve got to take some time and learn how your body moves to get the spin right so that you can cut that. If you play with your spine, even I play with people where I’ll put them on hands and knees, and I’ll touch two vertebrae and I’ll say, “All I want you to do is get these two guys to move,” They’re like, “How?” I’m like, “Try.” That’s it.
Think about it. By the end of the session, it’s one of that rub your belly, pat your head. We get movement from them and then I’ll do the bigger exercise. I’ll say, “Do you remember what we talked about with L4, L5? Move L4 back a little bit and you’ll feel it.” All of a sudden, their squat can line up, but it’s taking that time and creating the pathways. The way the brain works essentially is we have a path of least resistance. The body will continue to do what’s been easy for it over and over again. If you’re trying to create new pathways and you’re trying to get new movement your body is not used to, you have to keep running the circuit over and over again so that pathway becomes the path of least resistance. That’s the way your body moves regularly.
They say that my brain on the right side is black. Some doctors said to me, “Your brain is dead.” I said, “I’m still speaking. I have a stutter. I have a weak left side, but I’m still here. Don’t tell me I’m dead.” What you’re explaining is the body and the brain can remove itself in alignment by using what it has. I’ve seen studies where they’ve taken half of a brain out of a child and that other side of the brain can do everything for that kid.
I had a lot of patients that opted not to get surgery. Let’s say we get an MRI and somebody has a labrum tear in their shoulder. I don’t recommend the surgery for that most of the time because I said, “If you’re not a professional athlete, there are ways around it.” We might have to adjust how you do some things. You can’t go to the gym and absentmindedly start throwing up weight. You’ve got to find things that work for you, but you don’t necessarily need surgery. Your body can make do with what’s given to it.
What I’m picking up on is that you’re teaching people to become more aware of their bodies and how it moves. Move this one vertebra, “I can’t do that.” Figure it out. By starting to create that internal awareness, they become their own advocate for well-being.
I will say seeing is believing. When you see somebody else walk for the first time who wasn’t able to walk or someone who is beat up terribly, this could be a veteran or a stroke survivor and you watched them do it, it provides you with enough hope to get through that crack in that wall or to take out the next wave that’s coming in.
Stories like yours are important for people to hear that, “It hasn’t been an easy road, but I’m on the road to recovery because seeing is 100% believing.” I remember working on the stroke floor and I forget exactly what it was called, but we used to hook up the arm that was not moving, the paralyzed arm to electric sensors. We would set that up and then show you the little ticker and say, “Try to move your arm,” and no movement in the arm, but you could see that there was an electrical signal there. The goal is, “Keep this electrical signal above this line.” We’d play with that because if the mind sees it, then you’ll start to believe it. All of a sudden, two weeks down the line, we’ve got some finger movement. If you’ve got some finger movement, we can get some wrists moving. We’d keep going and going.
What you’re saying is true. There are many times and I see it with myself. It’s one small synapsis. It’s one little thing that needs to fire. It’s like a circuit board. If one wire that’s not in place, but if you can have the wires together, the whole computer’s going to reboot. Most people out there are one circuit away from getting everything back. While they had the downtime, it’s important to meditate and work on that weak side the body whether it’s massage, whether it’s yoga. Keep the blood going, even though it’s not working properly, it will come back. I can see it. I have full use of my fingers, but it’s happening and I believe in it because my brain is saying, “The hand is there and the arm is there.”In yoga, it's not how many times you're practicing. It's how you are treating yourself while you're practicing. Click To Tweet
That’s why meditation is powerful too. I’ve talked to people that I’ve recommended meditation. I start super light five minutes and I’m like, “How were the five minutes?” They were like, “It was weird. I just sat there.” I was like, “Perfect. Do you do that at all through the rest of your day?” They were like, “No.” I was like, “It was 100% worth it because it’s your one time to go internally.” If there’s one synapse that’s not firing, you’re one synapse away from getting it all back, maybe there’s some worth in going internally and looking for it yourself rather than having someone else look for it for you. If meditation can be that journey for you, then that’s awesome.
Kevin, I’m going to have you go a little bit deeper. Someone never meditated, what’s your advice to beginning this practice? How do we demystify it?
There’s a ton of different meditational practices. From my perspective, I’m not super into the mantras and transcendental. It’s never worked for me. If it works for you, kudos, I’m all about everybody finding their jam. I’ll speak to mine and my practice has been mindfulness, and something called zazen. It’s honestly just sitting, for lack of a better term. What I recommend to people is consistency. Pick a week that you start on Sunday, you start on Monday, whatever. You’re going to do seven days where for five minutes you’re going to sit quietly. You don’t have to get into the full lotus position. You can sit in a chair, make sure you’re grounded and sit. What I tend to think happens or what I’ve noticed happens is as I’m sitting, the consciousness doesn’t stop.
It’s not like my mind goes blank and I’ve got this halo above my head. What’s more likely to happen for me is I’ll see every single thing I have to do in my day. If I weren’t meditating, I’d be overwhelming, I’d be stacking stuff and I’d be like, “How am I going to get to this, that and the other thing?” As the thought crosses my mind, I don’t do anything. I don’t react. I don’t get worried about it. It’s like all the thoughts cross in front of your face as if you were sitting at a river, but you don’t do anything. You sit with it. That’s how you teach that mind to be nonreactive that when something in your day happens, which it inevitably will, you don’t have this feeling of like, “How could this happen to me?” It’s like, “This is something that happens and I have to get on with my day.”
The biggest to starting a meditation practice is small chunks. Five minutes is good but do it every day. Hit one week and you’ll feel good about it. There’s no way you won’t feel like it has a positive effect. Getting away from chasing the enlightenment experience and thinking that if you meditate, one day you’ll have it all figured out. That’s not the case because it’s the same as working out. You don’t go to a gym and think like, “I’m going to do a six-month program and then I’m going to be ripped forever.” You either develop that as your personal practice and that’s something that becomes important to you or you don’t. That’s okay too, but for meditational purposes, it’s a consistent practice of the mind to ensure that your mind can deal with the stresses of everyday life.
Where my mind goes, if you want six-pack abs, you go to the gym and you work abs every day. If you want a six-pack mind, work that thing out every day. It’s hard because it’s not as tangible. It’s not as graspable. There’s a lot of mysticism around meditation. The biggest thing you touched on in there is this concept of most people like, “I have to have no thoughts.” You’re never going to have no thoughts. It’s sitting and being the observer of your thoughts. As you sit and observe without judging or without getting too involved in each thought, what starts to happen is you sit and observe the thoughts that are naturally coming to you.
You might get insights into your day to your life, etc. It’s also allowing your mind and your body to unwind in a way that it’s trying to. If you think about what happens while we sleep, and Dalai Lama says, “Sleep is the best meditation,” what happens when we sleep is we’re going through our subconscious. We’re going into this realm of the mind that we ignore, we suppress, and we block by thinking and trying to control the way our mind is running. In meditation practice, what we’re tapping into is this subconscious part of the mind that wants to speak to us and wants to release itself. When we don’t sit and allow that to happen and observe that happen, it never happens.
Everything comes through in my brain. “What am I doing? Where are my finances? Where are my daughters? Oh my God this, Oh my God that, if, then, this, why me?” It feels I’m being shot at by everywhere in the world. Those thoughts come and they go. Do you know where I take myself? Back to the surf, back to the ocean and I have some incredible journeys where I go under the water where there’s 100 feet, 200 feet or 500 feet and I hang out. I’ll come back up and I’ll travel the world. I’ll fly. Taylor and I will meditate together. I was like, “Where you at the same place I was that?” It sounds weird, but we connect. It’s because we free ourselves of all this pain. It’s no different than The Matrix. Free your mind, Neo, you can jump. If he doesn’t free his mind, he’s going to fall, and he’s going to hit himself hard. It’s the same thing what you’re saying. It reinforced me, but it took me many years to learn to meditate because I’m 47 years old, I didn’t understand it, but the best thing I can do.
It’s a practice, where the mysticism comes into play with its ties to religious implications and religion has gotten a bad rap over the years. Everybody’s moving towards spirituality. Even that, people are like, “I don’t even know if that’s for me.” I don’t think meditation is either of those things. It has a religious component to me. It has a spiritual component to me, but for me it’s more of a practice of how I can train my brain. How I can live my life in a better way so that I can deal and I can be with myself. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to be comfortable with the one before you’re comfortable with everybody else. Your relation to yourself is of the utmost important, especially if you’re healing your body. If you don’t love yourself, you’re not getting better. If you don’t think you deserve to get better, you’re not going to get better. Meditation is that time to sit with it.
What is your inspiration?
Honestly for me, it’s the people that do get better. I listened to that first episode you guys had, and I heard your story about the first time you taught yoga. All of a sudden, twenty people in a room are looking at you for advice and like, “Lead me.” You’re like, “When did this happen?” That’s how it hit me when I was in PT. I got out of school early. I was 24 and people coming to me for medical advice and I’m sitting there crapping my pants being like, “Please go see someone else. I don’t know what I’m doing.” You learn as you go and you figure that weight, “I know how to do this, I know how to do that.”
I would say every time I think I’ve got a great handle on the body and how healing works, somebody comes through the door that I’m like, “What are we going to do here?” That’s when you hit the books. That’s when you get back to it. It’s those challenges and those people that you meet that they do the work, they do what you say, they follow the program and you see the improvements. You’re like, “This is all worth it.” Maybe I’m not going to be the person that has a Fortune 500 company or anything like that, but if I can help some people and spend my own little dharma for them, then that’s all I need. That’s what makes me happy.
Before we go, let people know where they can connect with you.
I’m out in LA. The company used to be Zen Body Therapy. You can reach me at Hello@MyZenBody.com. I’m switching over to family health physical therapy. A couple of changes along the way, I was treating a lot of kiddos. I’m working them into my practice a little bit more. I’m treating on the meditation aspects, yoga and all that good stuff too. I wanted to let parents know that essentially, I could take their little ones as well.
Thank you so much, Kevin. We wish you a beautiful day from over here at Adventures In Health.
It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
- iTunes – Adventures in Health
- Kevin Davi
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Tough Mudder
- The Science of Enlightenment
- Eben Britton – Previous episode
- Episode one – Adventures in Health
- Mark Nelson
- Dr. Joe Dispenza
- Zen Body Therapy
About Kevin Davi
Kevin Davi uses his traditional physical therapy background and ties it in Eastern healing traditions to provide the best possible outcome to healing.