Jack Dorsey Meditation

Jack Dorsey’s 11 ‘wellness’ habits: From no food all weekend to ice baths

The ancient philosophy of Stoicism – which teaches to be satisfied with what you have and includes practices like self-denial — has become a trend among Silicon Valley elites. But perhaps no one is more devoted than 42-year-old billionaire Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square.

Dorsey tweets about his various Stoic endeavors, for which he is often derided: When he went on a 10-day meditation retreat in Myanmar for his birthday in 2018, he was blasted for being blind to the human rights atrocities occurring there. He’s also been criticized for promoting questionable eating habits, like intermittent fasting.

But Dorsey says he needs to be “performant” and “clear” to effectively run two companies. So to maximize his capacity, he constantly evolves his habits, he says on the Ben Greenfield Fitness: Diet, Fat Loss and Performance podcast. Here’s what Dorsey says he does.

1. Meditating twice a day

“The biggest impact” to his mental health is meditation, Dorsey tells Greenfield, adding that he has been practicing for 20 years.

Dorsey says he aims to meditate one hour in the morning and at night: “I’ve more or less kept up the practice of two hours … a day,” but “if you can just get 10 minutes, and sometimes that’s all I can find, that’s what I do.”

In addition to the Myanmar meditation retreat, Dorsey says he did another one near Dallas.

Meditation has been shown to have numerous benefits including decreasing stress, anxiety and depression and increasing focus and the ability to multitask.

2. Walking to work

For two years, rain or shine, Dorsey says he has walked the five miles from his home to his office in one hour and 15 minutes.

“I might look a little bit more like I’m jogging than I’m walking,” Dorsey says. “It’s refreshing … It’s just this one of those take-back moments where you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m alive!'”

About six months ago, Dorsey decided he needs “a little bit more space to think” so now he works from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

3. Doing 7-minute workouts

When Dorsey doesn’t walk to work, he does high-intensity intervals on an exercise bike and seven-minute workouts via the app Seven.

“I don’t have a personal trainer. I don’t go to a gym,” Dorsey tells Greenfield.

4. Saunas and ice baths

Three years ago, Dorsey started using saunas and ice baths in the evening. First he sits in his barrel sauna (set at 220 degrees) for 15 minutes, then hops into an ice bath (37 degrees) for three minutes. He repeats the process three times, finishing with one minute in the ice bath.

More recently, Dorsey bought a small Sauna Space tent that uses near-infrared bulbs, which Dorsey says help him sweat more than he would in a dry sauna, even at a much lower temperature.

“Sweat can release some toxins and some chemicals, but … [t]he organs responsible for detoxifying our system are the kidneys and the liver. Those two do such a good job that, really, sweat doesn’t need to do that,” Dee Anna Glaser, a dermatology professor at St. Louis University and the president of the International Hyperhidrosis Society, told The Atlantic.

5. Using a standing desk with a near-infrared bulb

Dorsey also has a single near-infrared bulb from SuanaSpace near the standing desk in his home office.

“When I do work, I just flip that on,” Dorsey says. Dorsey does not specifically say why he puts on the near-infrared bulb near his standing desk, but according to Sauna Space, near-infrared light promotes cellular regeneration and anti-aging, and prevents injuries and illnesses.

There is some research that near-infrared light may decrease some kinds of pain, according to Web MD. However, at least one study has shown that near infrared radiation could be bad for the skin.

6. Starting the day with an ice-cold bath

“Nothing has given me more mental confidence than being able to go straight from room temperature into the cold,” Dorsey says. “[E]specially in the morning, going into an ice-cold tub from just being warm in bed is — it just unlocks this thing in my mind and I feel like if I can will myself to do that thing that seems so small but hurts so much, I can do nearly anything.”

Submerging yourself in ice-y cold water redirects blood flow, which can help with things like inflammation and swelling, sports scientist Ned Brophy-Williams told Fast Company. But suddenly immersing yourself in water that is too cold can put a strain on the heart, which could be dangerous for people with heart issues, according to CNN.

7. Taking supplements

“The only supplements I take are daily multivitamin and vitamin C, a lot of vitamin C,” Dorsey says.

Vitamin C helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases and boosts the immune system, among other benefits. And while eating too much Vitamin C “is unlikely to be harmful,” according to the Mayo Clinic, mega-quantities can result in digestive issues, headache and insomnia, to name a few.

8. Eating one meal per weekday

Dorsey only eats dinner. Sometime between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. he has a meal of fish, chicken, or steak with a salad, spinach, asparagus or Brussels sprouts. He has mixed berries or some dark chocolate for dessert and also sometimes drinks red wine.

The first two weeks of eating only one meal per day were hard for Dorsey, he says, but he’s noticed changes.

“During the day, I feel so much more focused. … You have this very focused point of mind in terms of this drive,” Dorsey says. And “[c]ertainly, the time back from breakfast and lunch allowed me to focus more on what my day is,” he says.

He also says he sleeps better: “I can go to bed and actually knock out in 10 minutes, if not sooner than that. It really changed how quickly I felt asleep and more so how deep I felt I was sleeping.”

While some studies show intermittent fasting may help people lose weight, more research is needed. When it comes to improving sleep, the research is mixed, and there is some evidence that fasting can improve mental acuity. Work by Johns Hopkins neuroscience professor Mark Matt-son has shown intermittent fasting can help “ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s while at the same time improving memory and mood,” according to the Johns Hopkins Health Review.

9. Fasting all weekend

“I’ll go from Friday ’til Sunday. I won’t have dinner on Friday. I won’t have dinner or any meal on Saturday. And the first time I’ll eat will be Sunday evening. I’ve done that three times now where I do [an] extended fast where I’m just drinking water,” Dorsey says.

“The first time I did it, like day three, I felt like I was hallucinating. It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centered around meals and how — the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer, how time really slowed down,” he tells Greenfield.

Experts caution there are risks with extreme fasts and fasting that lasts longer than 24 hours. Fasting is something that should be discussed with your doctor and closely monitored. [“I]f you do not feel well at any point, you must stop” fasting, writes diet and fasting expert Dr. Jason Fung. “You can be hungry, but you should not feel sick.”

10. Tracking his sleep

Dorsey has a wearable Oura ring, which measures sleep quality, recovery speed and daily activity, he tells Greenfield (who is an investor in the company).

“If I keep to a consistent schedule of sleep, I get higher scores on REM and I get much deeper sleep as well,” he tells Greenfield. REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, is important because it “stimulates regions of the brain that are used for learning,” according to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

11. Journaling

“I try to do that every single day, usually when I’m wrapping up the day,” Dorsey says. “It’s searchable. It’s accessible all the time. It’s in the cloud, so I can get to it even if I don’t have my phone. It’s secure.”

The revelation upset many because the Twitter CEO gushed about Myanmar and made no mention of the persecution of the Roaring people, the Muslim ethnic minority forced to flee to nearby Bangladesh in the hundreds of thousands. If meditation is meant to make practitioners more aware and compassionate, Dorsey’s practice appears to have failed on that front.

It fell short in other areas, too.

In a tweet thread, Dorsey talks about his experience in a monastery and the idea behind Vipassana meditation, which is to “know thyself,” cultivate detachment from desire, and thereby minimize suffering. ”During the 10 days: no devices, reading, writing, physical exercise, music, intoxicants, meat, talking, or even eye contact with others. It’s free: everything is given to mediators by charity,” Dorsey explains.

Yet, he did wear his Apple Watch and Oura Ring, a sleep tracker, measuring his physiological responses to this philosophical project.

The problem with this—apart from indicating Dorsey’s inability to truly detach from technology—is that it misses the point of the very practice he was engaged in. Spiritual practice can’t be measured, not in quantifiable terms, and the notion of “best meditations” is problematic. The Buddha covered this precise point millennia ago, stating:Just as when a carpenter or carpenter’s apprentice sees the marks of his fingers or thumb on the handle of his adze but does not know, ‘Today my adze handle wore down this much, or yesterday it wore down that much, or the day before yesterday it wore down this much,’ still he knows it is worn through when it is worn through. In the same way, when a monk dwells devoting himself to development, he does not know, ‘Today my effluents wore down this much, or yesterday they wore down that much, or the day before yesterday they wore down this much,’ still he knows they are worn through when they are worn through.

In other words, there is no physical measure of “success” in meditative practice. And Dorsey is quite intent on characterizing his meditations as more or less successful, best and worst. He writes, “The 2nd day was my best. I was able to focus entirely on my breath, without thoughts, for over an hour. The most I could do before that was 5 minutes. Day 6 was my worst as I caught a nasty cold going around the center. Couldn’t sleep from then on but pushed through til the end.”

What this admission reveals is that 10 days of silent meditation in a monastery in Myanmar didn’t teach Dorsey too much about detachment from notions of gain or loss, which the Buddha considered to be among the primary causes of human suffering. It indicates that he never stopped thinking about time or trying to accomplish something specific from his practice. And that’s definitive proof of attachment.

Dorsey remained obsessed with quantification. “We also meditated in a cave in Mandalay one evening. In the first 10 minutes I got bit 117 times by mosquitoes,” he writes. “They left me alone when the light blew a fuse, which you can see in my heart rate lowering.” Even if the number of mosquito bites he notes is a joke—though who knows, maybe he counted?—he’s focusing on some of the pitfalls of practice.

Indeed, if Dorsey’s retreat had really “succeeded” he probably would not have tweeted about it at all. And we’d have nothing to criticize because he would have realized that he doesn’t need to publicize his activities in order to confirm his existence and gain the approval of others.

While Dorsey arguably may have wanted to share the benefits of meditation with the masses—just in case you haven’t heard about it yet—his thread undermined the very lessons he intended to learn and pass on to others.

“The highlight of my trip was serving monks and nuns food, and donating sandals and umbrellas,” he writes.

But true humility doesn’t advertise itself or call attention to the good deeds of the doer. Dorsey’s revelation seems mostly to serve himself,  to fortify the ego he ostensibly seeks to dissolve.

In his seminal 1973 essay, “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” about the pitfalls of meditative practice, Buddhist monk and meditation master Chogyam Trungpa warned, “Ego is able to convert everything to its own use, even spirituality. For example, if you have learned of a particularly beneficial meditation technique of spiritual practice, then ego’s attitude is, first to regard it as an object of fascination and, second to examine it.”

Dorsey’s tweets seem to illuminate these lessons. He’s fascinated by his spiritual project and analytical about its effects and success. Ultimately, he appears to be putting on a show (mostly for his own benefit) and not cutting through his materialism. Trungpa warned against this, writing. “When we have learned all the tricks and answers of the spiritual game, we automatically try to imitate spirituality, since real involvement would require the complete elimination of ego, and actually the last thing we want to do is to give up the ego completely.”

The whole tricky thing about the quest for enlightenment is realizing that questing, striving, is itself evidence of one’s ignorance. Perhaps on his next birthday, Dorsey will work on getting to know himself and we won’t hear about it at all.

Twitter co-founder and chief executive officer Jack Dorsey recently went on a birthday trip to Myanmar. As Dorsey recounted in a series of tweets to his 4.1 million followers, he studied Vipassana meditation. The practice’s “singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it,” Dorsey wrote, and it is “likely be good for those suffering chronic pain to help manage it.”

Myanmar has denied citizenship to Rohingya people, a minority in the country, for decades. In 2016, the systemic persecution of the Rohingya, the majority of whom are Muslim, escalated into wide-scale rapes and massacres. As more than 720,000 Rohingya people fled to neighboring Bangladesh, the United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights described the atrocities against them as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” UN-appointed investigators have called for top military officials in Myanmar to be prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Even though the crimes against Rohingya people have been well-documented in articles by major media outlets around the world (three of which are excerpted below), not once did Dorsey mention them in the more than a dozen tweets he wrote about his trip, all of which are also included in order.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has said that the meditative ritual of Vipassana that he undergoes is the toughest and the best thing he does for himself. Wrapping up his third 10-day stint at Dhamma Pat aka in South Africa, Dorsey thanked everyone involved in his exercise. “Finished my 3rd Vipassana 10 day at Dhamma Pat aka in South Africa. Continues to be the toughest and best thing I do for myself. Grateful for all those who enable me to make time for it. And thank you to Pat aka for being so incredible,” tweeted Dorsey.

Dorsey is among millions of people who undertake this meditative technique. Interestingly, the center where he practices Vipassana was established by an Indian meditation teacher back in 1970s.

SN Goenka whose establishment Jack Dorsey visited was one of the most popular proponents of Vipassana. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2012 for establishing non-commercial Vipassana centers across the world.  The Indian guru was born in Myanmar in 1924 and raised by an affluent Hindu family. Goenka was a successful businessman who ran a family-led conglomerate. He was also appointed the head of the Rangoon Chamber of Commerce at the age of 30.

Around 1955, Goenka began experiencing intense migraine headaches. When conventional meditation did not help, he took a friend’s advice and sought the help of meditation. He met Vipassana teacher Saying U Ba Khan. Goenka practiced under this mentor for 14 years.

In 1969, Goenka renounced his business and moved to India to teach meditation. Goenka sought to bring the technique to laymen instead of monks and other practitioners. His first meditation center was established in 1976. In 1982, he began training teachers who could also establish their own centers.

By the time Goenka died on September 29, 2013 he had established a global network of meditation centers. The network included hundreds of meditation centers including in South Africa, Brazil, Belgium, Japan, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, UK, US and India.  

Csonka’s teachings were derived from Buddhist texts but were not religious. His meditation techniques were also very inclusive and did not concern itself with caste or creed.

His meditation style involved long periods of silence as well as sitting cross legged for hours at an end. The retreats were, hence, not only mentally challenging but physically daunting as well.

The Vipassana courses are taught over ten days – a period that is understood to be the minimum necessary period for new students to understand the technique and its benefits. The courses are run on a donation basis. No charges are levied for the courses or for food and accommodation. Expenses are met by donations from practitioners who have completed their courses. The teachers and assistants also offer their services on a volunteering basis.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is well known for his extreme health regimes. From an extreme form of intermittent fasting to saunas and early-morning ice baths, the co-founder of the micro blogging site seems to have tried a lot of things for health and wellness. Some of these trends, when attempted without a proper trainer, can have less than ideal results.

His latest experiment has been with vipassana. A regular meditator, Dorsey went for a 10-day vipassana retreat to Myanmar for his birthday this year on 19 November. While Dorsey is encouraging people to follow the method for internal peace, it is also being called yet another “tech bro” health trend – a health trend that is popular among men working in the US’ Silicon Valley.

Vipassana is a Buddhist form of meditation where the practitioner is asked to focus on their inner self and release every thought that comes their way – the ultimate goal is to completely empty the mind of any thought and just be an observer.

Not a quick fix

There is no doubt that mindfulness and meditation have health benefits. Studies say that vipassana can reduce physical symptoms, especially pain and psychological distress – anxiety, depression and stress. But vipassana is not really a practice you can do for a set period of time and hope for the benefits to last forever. 

In 2015, scientists at the School of Psychological Sciences, Australia, showed that any benefits of mindfulness start to decrease six months after you stop practising them.

You’ll have to set your mind to it and practice it regularly if you want to reap the benefits.

Difficult to follow

In the past, the extreme intermittent fasting, or “biohacking”, as Dorsey had named it, was called messy and hap hazardous by health experts who thought it may do more harm than good to the body and may even foreshadow eating disorders. Though vipassana may not be as bad when followed as per the schedule Dorsey followed, it can be difficult to practice in everyday life.

Experts say that there are a lot of factors that make a 10-day retreat like this successful, the major one being the environment of the retreat itself. It is natural to feel calmer and ease into meditation when you are put in a stress-free place. The participants in such regimes are kept away from the TV, newspapers, or any other potential distractions. 

All the practitioners are given simple food – mostly comprising fresh fruits and vegetables – on a specific schedule and are not allowed to physically exert themselves apart from walking in the area.

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