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NL: Hi everybody. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show, I have a very special guest who’s written a new book called “Fearvana”, which I have right here. We’re going to be talking a little bit about facing our fears and how we could use that as a way to create a life of fulfilling and purpose. But before I get in to introducing my special guest, I just want to remind you that once the show is over, don’t forget to click the link below this video to be able to download the free ebook version of my bestselling book “Never In Your Wildest Dreams”. So let me introduce my special guest Akshay Nanavati. How are you Akshay?
AN: Doing very well. Thank you for having me on the show. Appreciate it.
NL: Pleasure to have you here. Now Akshay and I are going to be sharing a very intense experience in October, where we are going to Liberia, the country. And we’re going to be doing some incredible work there and we’ll talk a little bit about that at the end of the call here. But what I want to do is talk about “Fearvana”, with this particular book. So why don’t we start actually with your story and how you got to writing how we can navigate through our fear.
AN: Yeah sure. So a little bit about what lead me to Fearvana. Back in high school, so I was born in India and moved to the US at 13. Soon after that I got heavily in to drugs, lost 2 friends to drug addiction, was headed down that path myself. But thankfully I got out, I joined the Marines. Despite 2 doctors on the Marine Corps bootcamp would kill me because of a blood disorder I was born with. But obviously, I survived and out there I learned the value of engaging struggle and pursuing my fears. So I spent 6 years in the Marines, got heavily in outdoor sports as well, like mountain climbing, skydiving, ice diving, you name it. In 2007, I was then deployed to Iraq and when I came back a few years later, I was diagnosed with PTSD, with struggle with depression, struggle with alcoholism, until I got to the point of where I considered taking my own life. And coming out of that space is when I spent years researching neuroscience, psychology, and spirituality. Initially just to heal myself but that lead me on this more meaningful quest and ultimately to this idea of Fearvana and leveraging fear as a tool to ultimately reach enlightment itself.
NL: Right. So what exactly is Fearvana?
AN: So I define Fearvana as the bliss that results from engaging our fears to pursue our own worthy struggle. And our own worthy struggle is our path. We all have that path right? And when we engage it, it’s hard but there’s beauty in that struggle. So ultimately Fearvana is about helping people build a positive relationship to struggle however it shows up and reframe their idea of this so called negative emotions like fear, stress, anxiety. And realizing that there are no bad or good emotions, there’s just emotions and we can do anything with them. Any emotion can be useful. So Fearvana is about helping people develop a positive relationship with struggle however it shows up so they can find, live, and love their worthy to struggle.
NL: Right. And so do you think fear is the biggest barrier between people where they are now and creating the life that they want?
AN: It absolutely is and it doesn’t have to be. That’s why I wrote Fearvana because it was sort of my own experience taught me that, how beautiful fear was. I mean, everything I did from going to war, and one of my jobs in Iraq was to walk in front of vehicle convoys to look for explosives before they could be used to blow up our vehicles. So somewhat dangerous as you might imagine, right? But everything I did, from going to war, joining the Marines, to climbing mountains, to even writing a book on fear was terrifying but there was beauty engaged in that fear. And yet we live in a world that says people should be fearless, don’t be scared, eliminate your fear. When people hear the word fear they don’t think of it as positive they think of it as negative. So Fearvana was to kind of combat this demonization of fear and to help people develop a positive relationship to it because then it doesn’t have to be this barrier. They can use it as a tool to grow.
NL: Right. And so I am assuming that there are certain steps that people can take to be able to move through, I mean I’m with you, I think fear is an important part of our life process because if we are not stepping outside our comfort zone and feeling some kind of fear, then you know, nothing exciting happens inside the comfort zone, let’s be honest, you know. So what steps can people use or take to be able to move through their fear?
AN: So when you notice that fear shows up, pause and acknowledge it. Ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Why am I afraid? What’s the worst case scenario? How do I prepare for the worst case scenario? So you know, I mentioned while writing this book on fear, I was terrified. So I studied from great authors like Chicken Soup for the Soul author Jack Canfield, like Tim Ferriss, I have studied how do they write a book, how do they market a good book? And as a result, like I trashed tons of months of work, hundred thousand words worth of work, but it was necessary because I was afraid, I wrote a better book, if I wasn’t afraid I could have just put something out there, you know. I was afraid so it allowed me to prepare. I engaged my fear. I was also very clear on what’s the reward on the other side of those fears. So I know you talk about visualization right? Like visualize what’s on the other side of those fears. And that means being clear about the reward as well. So being clear about the reward, visualizing, embracing the energy of fear, using it and isolating yourself from the fear so you can leverage it as a tool to prepare. Like when I spent a month dragging a 190 pound sled across Greenland, I was obviously terrified. It was a scary and hard journey so I used to train by dragging tires around the streets of New Jersey. Because I was scared, again, my fear allowed me to prepare better.
NL: Right. And so I know that there was a couple of times you’ve mentioned like you’ve been addicted with drugs earlier and alcoholism when you come back from the war. I mean, what was it within you or what was it do you think that got you from that point in to looking at “okay well, this is how I’m going to live a life of purpose.”?
AN: You know, when I started my healing in both cases, drugs was actually a little bit easier because again, at this point when I got out of drugs I knew that I wanted to be a Marine and almost overnight stopped and all consumed the alcohol, I broke my sobriety a few times. But recognizing that this is not something that has to define me because we often self identify with our emotions, with our thoughts, with our patterns in the past right? But we are not our brain, we are not our thoughts, we’re not our emotions, we’re something so much more than that. And realizing that, realizing that okay I had just developed a pattern, my brain had created this pattern but there is this physical structure of the brain and then there is my consciousness which is something more, right? This higher being, we all have of course. And acknowledging that I’ve developed a pattern, the drinking, but I’m not going to let myself be identified with that pattern. My brain has it but I don’t have it. Like the higher eye doesn’t have it. And acknowledging that space between the patterns in our brain, I mean we are far more machine-like than we think we are. We think as human beings we have free will and we’re autonomous creatures but we are very much the product of our patterns and are creatures of habit. Our brain has formed these patterns since everything from our genetics from the very day we were born, it’s created these things inside of us. So by acknowledging that we are just very machine-like, we can actually cease to be a machine because then we have that space between the automated behaviors and our conscious behaviors. So that was really the first step, is separating myself and then allowing myself to be consumed by my worthy struggle and letting that really take over my soul in the most beautiful way.
NL: I know because you dance between the signs and spirituality of this journey. So you are talking about our brains, like what is it that happens with us when we go from this place of automation or habit, how do we, like what is it that happens to our brains to get us to a place where we can make a choice?
AN: So acknowledging, so that’s why the first section in the book is actually called Awareness and Acceptance. So recognizing the awareness, recognizing we’re a machine-like state. So there’s a great quote from this guy, P.D. Ouspensky, who wrote this book “The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution”. He says, man is a machine but a very peculiar kind of machine. He is a machine that by recognizing he’s a machine can cease to be a machine. And this is so essential. So recognizing that we’re automated, then allows us to stop, then allows us to recognize there’s a space, then through conscious awareness, this is why everything, I mean, what you talk about, what we’re doing is consciousness awareness, by consciously saying, okay, I’m noticing this pattern is there. Like for me, again, to make it tangible, stress equals alcohol, I used to, anytime I felt a little stressed out I would run to drink right? By pausing and saying, okay my brain has this pattern. I noticed the trigger of drinking show up, I can rewire it by focusing on something. Now I get stressed out about everything I have, from running across the world to building businesses, it stressed me out like to no end. But there is a beauty in that stress. It’s a stress that I’m seeking because I’ve consciously learned to say stress can equal something else right? Like by channeling that energy, that focus in to something, we ultimately build a new brain, we’re building new neuronal pathways in our brain that create new habits.
NL: Absolutely. So that’s the signs side of things, what’s happening with our brain. So what’s the spiritual part of this that plays in for you?
AN: You know, the beauty in learning all of these was how similar the science and spirituality is, you know. Spirituality says the same thing, what it says is that we’re all stabbed by the two darts of suffering as he calls it. And the first dart is the one we don’t control, it’s that emotion, it’s that thing we don’t control. But the second dart of suffering is what we can do something about it. So the analogy I would like to give is if is stubbed my toe against the door, my toe hurting is the first dart, the second dart is when I say things like I don’t, God hates me, why do bad things only happen to me, this house is stupid, I’m stupid, all that kind of self talk. But allowing ourselves to consciousness to rise above it. And that spirituality is that experience of surrender. Surrender to our own divinity. Surrender to the divinity of humanity, of earth. Practicing faith, whatever God or universe means to you. Allowing yourself to practice that surrender to it. I mean when I do these things like running across the world or skiing across ice caps, I feel so connected and united to this deeper self and my own ability to rise above my perceived limitations. Connected to the earth around me. You know that we’re in this journey together. Connected to the people like ourselves, like we’re all together in this. And allowing yourself to experience that, that really, the spirituality comes really from the doing. It has to be felt, it has to be tasted, and you get to see how we’re so much more than we think we are.
NL: So with the book “Fearvana”, who are the people that you think, you did you write if for? Like who are the people that are going to benefit from this?
AN: So when I wrote it, I wrote it for athletes, I wrote it for entrepreneurs, for young kids, kind of like me, right? Like we often say your masses your message, I’ve heard so many say that. So for veterans, but the reality, as you know, everybody experiences fear at some point, you know, fear, stress, anxiety, we all go through it. And I pair the three because neurologically they’re very much the same, we just have a different label for the three but we all go through it. But that’s kind of who I wrote it when I started getting this, athletes, students, veterans, entrepreneurs, that was the frame. But yeah, definitely, if you felt fear or stress this will help you navigate it better.
NL: Absolutely. So you and I are both going to face some fear together in October this year. You’re a little more than alright because you’re going to get there earlier than me. You’ve decided to run across the country. So tell us a little bit about what you’re doing there and why?
AN: Yeah. Why would you do this? (Laughter) I’m going to be running 210 miles across the country, across the entire length of the country. One as a sort of using my vehicle of service which is running, we all have our own, right. One of which is running, the other is my business but running to help raise funds for the sustainable school that we’re building with the group that you’re working with. And I love the project so I wanted to use my vehicle as a way to help support that and also to distribute water filters along the way. Working with a gentlemen in Liberia, who you know to distribute water filters for this water project, to help bring water to those that need it. And using this as a vehicle. You know, I’ve run across 8 countries so far, when again, when I was coming out of sobriety. I knew I needed something, clearly I have a very addictive personality and moderation is not good for me. So I don’t really sit well with moderation so I was like I need something all consuming that’s absolutely insane so I was like, I’m going to run across every country in the world, inspired by an Australian ultra runner, Pat Farmer, who’s just one of the best ultra runners in the world. He ran from the north pole to the south pole and so when I saw what he did, it shattered the limits of what I even thought was a possibility. And I was like I can push that too so that’s why I decided to run across every country and use that as a vehicle for service to support causes in the ground in each country that needs it and Liberia’s next. And Liberia is so beautiful because it’s really a microcosm, a symbol for how humanity can rise above conflict to build something beautiful.
NL: Yeah. Absolutely. And my connection to Liberia as well is being connected with a guy called Jeremiah Burgess, who was in a refugee camp in Ghana, he’s from Liberia. And because of the civil war there, and he tried to get in to the US a couple of times and he wasn’t able to do so. And so through his depression, he’s wandering around, he’s in a marketplace, he sees a stall with books, one jumps out on him, it’s called “Think and Grow Rich”. And after reading that book, it inspired him to go back to Liberia after the war was over and to create a school for this generation of young adults who missed going to school because of the war. And so what we’re doing is working with his particular school which is vocational for adults. So teaching them skills like mechanics and electrician and all that kind of thing. And for their children, because a lot of the students are women, their children can attend the school there as well. And we’re creating, we’re going to be implementing an agriculture program so that they no longer need to rely on donations that they can actually, so they’re self sustaining. And this will be the blueprint for schools throughout Liberia. And so we have a goal to reach $75,000 to be able to set up the different levels of his agricultural program. And I know that, so what you’re doing actually is actually donating the proceeds of the book. So tell us a little bit about that.
AN: Yeah. No, first, it’s just beautiful what you’re doing. It’s just an honor to be a part of it. Absolutely love it. So what were doing with the book, all the proceeds, hundred percent of all the proceeds from every version of the book, the kindle, physical copy and the audible is going to charity. And this case where the focus is right now on supporting the charity to build the school. So 100%, all the profits from “Fearvana” are going to help build a school. And using this run as a vehicle to promote and bring awareness to the project as well.
NL: Wonderful. So guys, I encourage you, please download this, you can go to Amazon, I think is the best place.
AN: Yup, it’s on Amazon.
NL: To be able to do that. And the proceeds of the sales of that will go towards creating this program. And for Mind Movies, what we’d like to do is for anyone that makes a donation of atleast $10, and believe me, anything helps, anything helps. But if it’s atleast $10, then you will have a choice of either getting our, let me tell you what they are, the Abundant Success Meditation or the Free Flow Energy, these are our two most popular meditations. So all you need to do is make your donation, email us at [email protected], and then we’ll be able to, and tell us which one you prefer and then we’ll be able to instantly send you that meditation to download and start using straight away. And if you click on either the link underneath this video or the banner to the side, it’ll take you directly to the gofundme page where you’ll actually be able to see more about Jeremiah, where you’ll be able to see more about the program and everything that we’re looking to do in that amazing country when we go there in October. So really looking forward to sharing that experience with you Akshay.
AN: Yeah, likewise.
NL: Yeah, thank you for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure chatting to you.
AN: Thank you for having me.
NL: It’s wonderful. So guys, I encourage you, if you’re watching this show, please help us get the word out. You can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons on this page. So don’t forget to go straight to the gofundme page, you can either click the banner or the link underneath. And after all that’s over, you can click the link below that to download the free ebook version of my bestselling book “Never In Your Wildest Dreams”. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously, and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.