I used to feel like I was living in a nightmare.
I used to suffer with anxiety all the time.
Panic attacks, low self-esteem, feeling lost and like nobody would understand what I was going through became “normal” for me.
Worst of all...no matter what I did, no matter what I tried, nothing seemed to work and I felt like there’d never be a day, let alone an hour, where this dark cloud would stop following me.
It all really happened one morning during Oktoberfest.
At the time, I was on a round-the-world journey, specifically traveling with the intention of self-discovery, cultural immersion, massive learning and growth in every aspect of my life.
I woke up to my phone ringing and a text from my friend Tim.
He told me to meet him and the rest of our group at the Hofbrauhaus tent.
I walked over to the bathroom to brush my teeth, like most people do in the mornings, and that’s when everything turned upside down.
I looked at myself in the mirror, unable to recognize who I was.
A horrible feeling of terror sunk into my gut as I felt like something was very, very wrong.
I tried to recall the events that took place the day before, struggling to remember most of the night (typical of an Oktoberfest attendee).
I checked my pockets and realized my wallet was missing.
That sparked all sorts of fearful thoughts to run through my mind: Did I get beaten, assaulted, mugged, drugged, injected with something? I closely examined my body for any bruises or damage.
Technically, I was fine...but I didn’t feel fine.
My throat tightened like I was being choked.
I felt nerve twitches from my big right toe all the way up to my left eye spark every few minutes.
I felt an uncomfortable sensation of heat rise in a way I’ve never felt before in my stomach.
I felt like I wanted to puke, not the alcohol, but the tight lumpish feeling in my throat.
And what freaked me out the most was that I had no idea why this was happening.
I tried to go to a hospital to see what was wrong; one hospital was not helpful and could not provide a diagnosis, which freaked me out even more, and the other wanted to charge me 1000 Euros.
I went back to my place and that’s when it all hit me: I felt like I lost my sense of self. This made me feel out of place and unable to tell what’s real, and that really freaked me out.
Still, these symptoms were weird. I thought they would only last a day or two, and many of them did, but the haunting anxiety and the gripping feeling at my throat stayed with me for 15 of the darkest months of my life.
During the first three months, I was experiencing anxiety almost all the time.
I’d even feel anxiety chase me in my dreams.
I was experiencing panic attacks multiple times a day, feeling triggered and terrified by the smallest, ordinary, harmless things.
The pain only continued to stack and permeate throughout every area of my life.
Eventually, the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual pain spurred an intense fire in me to find a solution. This led me on to a quest of searching on Google for solutions to get rid of anxiety, checking in on forums, going to a psychologist, working with all sorts of body workers, learning about the chakras and meditation, learning from personal development leaders and attending seminars, working with professional nutritionists, getting all sorts of comprehensive blood tests, going on 10 day silent meditation retreats, experimenting with all sorts of superfoods, running various diagnostics to see what was wrong, hiring a peak performance coach and more.
Being on the other side of this dark period now, I can honestly say that everything I discovered served me value and that I’ve integrated many things into my life for optimal peak performance. However, everything mentioned above really only helped me go from extreme anxiety to mild/moderate anxiety. And then, in the most unlikely way, I discovered two mind-blowing solutions that helped me fully overcome anxiety: Network Spinal Analysis and Somato Respiratory Integration.
I first discovered these extraordinary healing modalities when I was at a Tony Robbins seminar called Date With Destiny. We had just finished a fun, interactive exercise based on spiral dynamics where Tony speaks about the different levels of consciousness. He spoke about the teal consciousness, which resembles an Awakened Soul, and that his friend Donny Epstein was one of the few people in the world who fully lived and owned this stage of consciousness. Donny was introduced as the developer for Network Spinal Analysis and Somato Respiratory Integration, the two modalities that the legendary Tony Robbins has had this to say about:
“Network Spinal Analysis and Somato Respiratory Integration are amongst the most powerful sources of transformation I have ever experienced or seen. They produce embodied and empowered strategies that are both sustainable and enjoyable for enhanced human resourcefulness and wellness. I am stronger, more inspired, creative, and healthy because of this work. It has personally and professionally helped me to maximize my ability to contribute to others.”
With Tony being one of my heroes and top role models, I immediately jotted down Donny’s website and made the decision to go to one of his trained Network Chiropractors as soon as possible. After the event, I was bedridden sick in my dark room experiencing the most severe bronchitis I’ve ever felt. Pain ached through my back and neck, and the emotions of anxiety that I thought I had mostly gotten rid of were taking over me. In a desperate attempt to find a solution, I scanned through my Date With Destiny notebook, coincidentally landing on the page where I took a note of Donny’s website. I looked for a local practitioner and fortunately found one who invited me to their workshop.
It was here that I saw and learned about the power of NSA and SRI. I learned how most people, especially me at the time, can be living in a defense posture throughout our lives. I learned how feeling overwhelmed and stressed could lead us to live in a defense posture, and how going about our lives stuck in a fight-flight mode will continue to create more stress and breakdown in the body. More importantly, I learned how rapidly things can change and heal by upgrading our nervous system. I learned that at the core level, this is what NSA and SRI helps us achieve: an optimized nervous system. When the nervous system is free of interference, we live in optimal states, we feel flexible in our bodies and minds, we move through emotions and experience a wider range of them, we feel confident and comfortable in our own skin, and we experience higher realms of consciousness and awareness.
After the lecture, I started to feel skeptical. Will I even notice anything? Then, two women went on the tables to show a demonstration. I saw their bodies move and their spines oscillate in ways that blew my mind. They expressed sounds and emotions to liberate the interference in their nervous system. This honestly just made me feel afraid. I thought, if that’s what’s coming out of them, what’s going to come out of me?
And then it was my turn. I laid down on the table and felt a few gentle contacts on my sacrum and my neck. I felt a heat sensation rush through my body as I took a breath, and then tension unwind and liberate into a warm rush of peace. When I got off the table, I felt like I had just woken up from the nightmare I’d been living in. I was energized and peaceful. I deeply felt that everything was going to be okay. This was enough to compel me to commit to receiving this care; I was convinced this would help me overcome anxiety.
At the time I was living in San Luis Obispo and commuting to Los Angeles twice a month (that’s an 8 hour round trip drive) just to receive NSA care. I was using SRI exercises for 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes at night. I kept experiencing more peace, ease and well-being; I could feel the blood flow through parts of my spine that before felt hardened like rock. The more I practiced SRI, the more I received NSA care, the more I began to see life beyond the dark cloud of anxiety. This intensified my appetite to keep doing whatever it took to transform.
As my awareness grew, I realized that all the anxiety I had been experiencing was really just an illusion…a short circuiting in my nervous system and a pattern of unconsciously experiencing life through the perspective of an emotional trauma. With NSA and SRI, I was able to discover where it was in my body that I felt so stuck. Through the care and exercises, I felt the energy liberate and move freely through my body. Sometimes this showed up as a breath of relief, sometimes this showed up as an emotional experience.
One day during my NSA session, I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time: empowered. I felt this powerful energy rush through my body like a rich river filling up a dry lake bed. When I got off and went about my day, everything looked and felt brighter around me. It was only a matter of time when I realized it was me that changed. That session took place only four months after starting care; it was the day I fully overcame anxiety, a victory that felt as sweet as the one Andy Dufresne had when he escaped Shawshank through the tunnel of crap and made it into the pouring, cleansing, rejuvenating rain.
As I continued with NSA care, I became aware of some other unexpected benefits: I felt the recurring knee tension that prevented me from playing collegiate soccer fully dissipate during one of the sessions, I grew almost two inches taller, I felt like I could express my emotions with greater ease, I felt more creativity flow in my thought patterns, I experienced more moments of “the now” like Eckhart Tolle says, and most importantly for me—I began to find a gift in my pain. I realized that had I not experienced this dark time, I wouldn’t have gained all these transformative tools and wisdom. Because of what I’ve learned through my journey, I feel confident in being able to contribute meaningful value for people that will transform their lives. Because of that whole journey, I have such a wide arsenal of tools and wisdom for life that continue to help me and others live optimally. Of these tools, SRI has been one of the best I’ve been able to show people, and it’s something that any of us can learn.
Now, I want to clear something up; NSA and SRI weren’t the magic pills for me. They’re certainly magical tools. It is truly phenomenal what we can experience and accomplish through care, however they are definitely not tools to “get rid of your pain”. I was humbled to learn that the more I tried to get rid of my pain by “throwing it in the back of my mind”, the more it showed up in my spine. This shocked me because the practitioners I’d been receiving care from always seemed to know the theme of what was going on in my life. I thought they were psychic, but the truth is that since the central nervous system is located along our spines, the information we have difficulty “digesting” - be it feelings, thoughts and parts of us that we neglect, avoid and alienate - shows up as interference and tension along our spine. Because of how they are trained, they’re able to realize which phase of distortion a person is, and as much as we humans will like to believe we’re complex...there are only five patterns of distortion with how the body holds tension.
The truth is pain is just a message, interference in the nervous system, and when we can listen and learn from this message, we can reorganize ourselves and our lives to a higher order. Donny speaks about the difference between Restorative and Reorganizational healing. There’s certainly value in both, but if you want greater life fulfillment and success, you’ll want to lean towards Reorganizational healing more often.
I didn’t overcome anxiety by getting rid of it. I overcame anxiety because I was able to fully experience the energy and information that I had persistently tried to avoid for over a year. Through NSA and SRI, I was able to gracefully liberate what was once interference in my nervous system and access it as fuel for my body and life, giving me the energy needed to transform the bound energy of my pain into fuel to change my life.
Aside from overcoming anxiety, I’ve felt a significant amount of pure gratitude and meaning for the whole journey. What was once my deepest “wound” became my biggest “gift”. The identity I felt I lost that one morning in Germany has expanded beyond just “me”. I see myself as a cell of the organ of humanity on the body called planet Earth. I feel the beautiful joy of interconnection with everyone and all of life, and this has called me to take more of the world into perspective when I make my decisions. Overall, the intention I had in the beginning for my round-the-world journey was fulfilled...just differently than I thought.
Whether you’re experiencing anxiety or not, getting an upgrade in your nervous system will definitely upgrade your life. I’ve grown to enjoy NSA and SRI as software updates for my body and life...just like I regularly update the apps on my iPhone. I’m always excited to see how I grow through each session, what I’ll learn, and how I can take that experience into making greater life choices. Tony Robbins has famously said, “It is in our moments of decision that our destiny is shaped.” With that in mind, wouldn’t you want to make the best decisions for your life on a regular basis? What if you discovered decisions that were beyond what you thought were the best? This is what I feel NSA and SRI has helped me do, and I encourage you to give it a shot if my story has touched you. I know that if I can at least help others wake up from a dark period of their lives, my experience has been worth it.