October 21, 2019

Mental & Emotional Health

#76 – Kyle Kingsbury: Finding meaning, depression, and psychedelics

"[Ayahuasca] shifted more things in me and how I perceived the world than anything else." — Kyle Kingsbury

Read Time 22 minutes

In this episode, Kyle Kingsbury, retired UFC fighter and director of human optimization at Onnit, discusses the purpose and meaning that football and MMA gave him but which also acted as a distraction from his inner demons. Kyle opens up about his use of PEDs (steroids, testosterone, HGH) in college and talks about some of the misconceptions around them. Next, Kyle talks about his battle with depression and a close call with suicide that lead to life-changing experiences with psilocybin and ayahuasca—which really became the turning point in his own journey towards being more emotionally healthy, finding inner peace, and being a better husband and father. 

Want more content like this? Check out our interviews with Kristin Neff on the power of self-compassion and Esther Perel on the effects of trauma.

*DISCLAIMER: The substances spoken about in this episode are illegal and by no means are we advocating for anyone to use them or experiment with them. There are physical, physiological, psychological, and legal risks around the use of these plants. This conversation is purely informational only.



We discuss:

  • Growing up in a volatile home [6:30];
  • Playing college football at ASU, and letting go of NFL aspirations [15:45];
  • Kyle’s experience taking anabolics (steroids/testosterone), misunderstood science, and fear mongering [23:15];
  • Kyle’s experience with taking HGH [35:30];
  • The Whizzinator [36:45];
  • Struggles with depression and drugs, and a lack of meaning after football [41:00];
  • Kyle’s close call with suicide, and a spiritual experience [47:15];
  • Finding refuge with mixed martial arts, and Kyle’s early success in cage fighting [52:30];
  • Lessons from Kyle’s first loss in fighting, and training for the UFC [59:45];
  • First experiences with psilocybin and ayahuasca, quieting the monkey mind, and finding inner peace [1:07:15];
  • Overt vs. covert depression, depression in men vs. women, and the transition from adaptive to maladaptive behaviors [1:16:00];
  • Peeling back the layers with ayahuasca: Kyle tells stories about the most transformative experiences with psychedelics [1:19:00];
  • Does Kyle feel like he has lost his “edge” as a result of his journey? [1:26:15];
  • Where would Kyle be had he not discovered the power of psychedelic medicines? [1:29:45];
  • Parenting: Stopping the cycle of trauma, reconnecting to our ancestral roots, and Kyle’s opinion on ayahuasca as a potential tool for kids [1:31:40];
  • Relationship with parents, blind spots, compassion, and forgiveness [1:37:15]; and
  • More.

Growing up in a volatile home [6:30]

  • Grew up outside of San Jose, CA in Cupertino and Sunnyvale
  • Fell in love with football at age 10
  • Played football and wrestled in high school
  • Kyle says he was a terrible student in high school
  • He never took it seriously
  • He like the attention of being a class clown
  • He would get into fights a lot in school
  • It wasn’t until college that he found any curriculum to be interesting or useful
  • His dad was a blue collar worker
  • This is probably what Kyle would have been if he hadn’t been athletic enough to play sports in college
  • At the same time, his dad really encouraged him to be “better” and go to college

A volatile home

  • Kyle’s parents did not have a good relationship
  • A ton of arguing
  • One of Kyle’s favorite books is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
    • Whatever [nonviolent communication] is, my childhood was not.
  • Parents divorced when Kyle was 16
  • His younger siblings did NOT want parents to divorce but Kyle knew it was for the best
  • He said his dad became a gentler, kinder dad after that



Playing college football at ASU, and letting go of NFL aspirations [15:45]

Before getting to ASU…

  • Kyle went to 2 different junior colleges (because he grades were so bad in HS)
  • He eventually transferred to Arizona State (ASU)

Football at ASU

  • He walked on to the football team at ASU
  • He played defensive line (both tackle and end)
  • Kyle said he didn’t have the physical size or gifted athleticism as many other guys
  • But credits his strength coaches (Joe Kenn and Mark Uyeyama) for pushing him far past his perceive limits

Partying at ASU

  • ASU is known as a party school
  • And it lives up to its name says Kyle
  • In fact…

{end of show notes preview…}

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Kyle Kingsbury

Kyle is the Director of Human Optimization at Onnit, a retired mixed martial artist and UFC fighter, and the host of the Kyle Kingsbury Podcast.

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.
  1. That was very touching, thank you Peter and your beautiful guest.

    This Aya stories resembled mine to the very details : relive childhood drama with the clarity and wisdom you could not dip into, with the gratitude of others point of view.

    But what do you think about “teacher” or “things” that show us these things? Not going any woo than needed but it is very clear that people experience recurring beings or narrative patterns. It can be explained as anything from spirits or aliens to neurological wisdom mechanisms which of course cannot be located with the current state of science. I’d like to hear Peter’s rational and weighted take on this.

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