Aging is one of the most passionate pursuits of the beauty industry and consumers at-large. Call it well-aging, anti-ageing, pro-aging—no matter which way one spells it, who doesn’t want to feel and look their best for as long as possible? Whether it’s preventing wrinkles or simply wanting to maintain cognitive function over the years, the battle against our own mortality is an inherent part of the human condition. The global anti-aging market is expected to generate $93.1 billion in sales by 2027, proving consumers are still hungry for solutions.
Transhumanism may be trying to chip away (Neuralink pun intended) at our seemingly inevitable physical and mental decline, but for now, the most hailed and effective tools aimed at the anti-aging process have either fallen into the realm of the practical (diet, exercise, sunscreen) or surgical (Botox, filler, facelifts). But what if there was another, much deeper-running solution?
Personal coach and author Csaba Lucas, who has previously shared his holistic approach to wellness in the workplace with BeautyMatter, is proposing a different route to feeling like our most vibrant selves. With the Recharge Your Life: Active Anti-Aging program, Lucas is offering a four-week course incorporating the mind, body, and spirit to boost personal wellness.
BeautyMatter sat down with the entrepreneur to discuss his unique take on aging informed by time spent with Indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes, why inner personal wisdom trumps guru idolization, and the upcoming evolution of the wellness culture as we know it.
What inspired the Active Anti-Aging course?
The funny thing I realized when I started working with people is, it doesn't matter where you're from, there are predictable problems you will need to go heads on with. The solutions are relatively simple to describe, not easy to do, but it's got to come from the individual.
I wanted to develop a program where people could address this. There are certain things that are seemingly simple yet, I really believe that wisdom always lies in simplicity. Anything that is overcomplicated is knowledge mumbo-jumbo.
If you want to work on your love life, you want to make sure that you're in a state of mind where you're the most receptive to the person who you would like to be attracted to. How can you do that? You want to put yourself in your best state. What does best state mean? That's exactly why I created this program.
If you say, I have my career but now I want to go deeper and really break through in 2023, what do you need to do? Most people think it might be work on your resume, etc. Well, not so much. You need to break some patterns that created your current life, because whatever is in your life right now—including your job, relationships, everything—is just the representation of the patterns that govern your inside being. So first, you need to actually go inward and loosen up some of those patterns that created those suboptimal habits which created the life around you.
If you want to change your career or dig deeper, first you need to set the platform for that. The platform is you. Starting consciously, you can only connect to your physical being. Oftentimes the physicality is overlooked today in this very basic way. Physicality has been hijacked by the fitness industry. That's why when people think about taking better care of their physicality, they're like, “Okay, I’ve got to go into fitness, focus on starting to exercise, and eat healthier.” But there's some first steps one needs to take before one can get there and do it effectively. Otherwise, you can be a fit, unhealthy person. If you look at social media, it's filled with fit unhealthy people, because anything that people do can very easily turn into an addiction.
Indeed, most of our society is encouraging us to be addicted to a certain way of being—certain things to shop, certain things to do. In my humble opinion, you have to relook at your life and see, "How can I disengage from the addictions that created the aspect of my life which I would like to change?"
The program is all about that: how to step back and reset so you can have the most fertile soil to work with in your life. I'm an advisor for a couple of clinics and hospitals, and it’s always fascinating to me when people tell me that this patient is a young person having a really hard time, on drugs because of severe ADHD, etc. Then after doing a preliminary assessment, I find out that kid goes to sleep at three, four in the morning because they're on the phone. Have they addressed that? I understand the incapability of focusing, but until you help them set back their sleep patterns and reestablish something that resembles a norm for human beings, especially for teenagers, how are they okay recommending a drug for an individual like that when the most basic things haven't been addressed?
With this program, I wanted to look at the most basic things. What happens is you start to disengage yourself from the normal aging process that we believe is normal in the Western world. Aging is a stigma, no one wants it. We are scared of it. Anti-aging is hijacked by Botox, facial plastic surgeons, all that stuff. I have a feeling that the origin of this fear of aging is because we're not meant to age.
I base this on my experience with tribes who live close to nature. Aging is quite different in this regard. They did an interesting study where they wanted to look at when human beings can have their best physical capability when it comes to running. That’s around age 25, 26. They wanted to test between age 19 and 26 how much physical improvement they have in their life, and how long it took for that physical capability to gradually, because of aging, drop back down to its 19-year-old capability. That's where the surprise came because it was the age of 60 to 63 for people who live close to nature as hunter-gatherers.
That means that you maintain an incredibly high level of physical fitness, and you do break down some by the age of 60 to 63, but you also become wiser, because human beings are these learning machineries. If you don't live in the Western world, your life is all about learning about everything you do, so even though your physical capabilities drop with age a little tiny bit, your wisdom grows so much that you become more effective.
I experienced this dancing with the shaman of the San Bushmen tribe, an older gentleman in his mid-60s. I’m a good dancer; I won three competitions in dancing when I was younger. I stayed with this tribe a few times in my life; once I stayed over a month and danced with this gentleman a lot of times. I couldn’t even come close to replicating the movements that he was doing during a dance. Now what was fascinating about it, was that the stuff he did was so seemingly simple, but I couldn't replicate it. I probably could have outdone him when it comes to maximum physical capability because he was much older than I was, but because of this extra skill that came from experience, he was a better dancer than I was.
When it comes to our lifestyle, human beings are not wired to age the way we know it. In our Western world, we do live longer, but the longer we live, those added years are a morbid type of life, where physically people are not able to enjoy themselves. Psychologically, we so deeply dug ourselves into a certain way of being that there is no flexibility. This is why people have this innate desire for anti-aging processes.
Unfortunately, the narrative that's put around it is: It’s good that you don't want to age and here is what we offer: let us change your face. I'm not judging, because the people who want to use those anti-aging processes, I feel like they may be more sensitive. They are the ones who feel it deeper that this aging is not right. But the narrative that they're fed is perhaps not the best for the quality of their lives.
Active anti-aging is all about going inward and doing what needs to be done so that youthfulness can come from within. Does that mean that you're going to have less wrinkles? In some regards, you will have less wrinkles. Are your wrinkles going to go away? No. Wrinkles are going to come and will be the tattoos of your life. When you have wrinkles between your eyebrows because you had too many responsibilities towards your family and had to think too hard about decisions, they will be there. But that's the memory of those responsibilities. The laugh lines with your loved ones and your friends, they will be there. They are the reminders that should show people that's a responsible person who also laughs a lot. There's nothing wrong with that narrative in my book and this is what I try to inspire people to see, that these tattoos are meaningful things that are important to you. It's a very big fashion now to put all these symbols that are important to you [on your skin], yet we do so much to get rid of the stuff that shows up naturally on our faces.
Active anti-aging will make you feel drastically different inside. Your physical, cognitive, and psychological capabilities, the sense of inspiration, and dreaming big like a child, thinking outside of the box—all of those things will come when you pay attention to getting yourself balanced in every way you can. This is what inspired the program. Almost everyone I deal with—whether a pro athlete, a successful businessman, or a person who is trying not to get divorced—all of these people have very different wants and dreams, yet they have to start at the same place.
The program is one month of creating the foundation, hand-holding for 30 days, because people do need a tribe, a supporting structure, for them to be able to break away from patterns that created their current state in life. But after a while, you’ve got to take ownership of it, keep up with those things, and make it authentic.
What are those tools of the inside-out approach?
Understanding the importance and know-how of proper rest, that's one aspect, anything to connect it with recovery. If you don't recover, you're using up your system more than you can rebuild and that's what leads to that typical aging. Understanding the biggest challenges when it comes to nutrition; most people think it's how many grams of protein you intake or being vegan; those things can show up later in one's process, but there are others that you need to take care of first.
The biggest challenge that medical science understands is that people have an inflamed system. When you eat something, there's an inflammation that naturally happens and then the inflammation drops out. Unfortunately, in our modern Western world, that inflammation never drops down to the proper level in between meals. The way we lead our lives to decrease that inflammation is step one, so looking at the foundation of nutrition is part of the program.
When it comes to the human brain and aging, there is chronological and biological aging. They tested a group of individuals who had the same biological and chronological age, which was 30, and put them on a daily meditation regimen for a year. That's the only thing they changed in their lifestyle. Although their chronological age was 31 by the time they finished the project, their cognitive capabilities and biological age went down to 23.
We underestimate the capability of the brain and regularly spending time with your attention turned inwards. Meditation became a fad and that's okay, because it does give people a sense of peace and it doesn't matter how you practice it. But most people believe that meditation is all about relaxation. It's not. It is cultivating your brain, knowing how to direct your brain's attention to particular things versus having those 65,000 thoughts which the average human being has every day scramble all over the place. Are they grouped in a way that you would like them to be? Your thoughts lead to actions and the actions lead to experiences.
When you have similar experiences for a prolonged period of time, you have a general state of being. If you fight all the time, your cortisol hormone level shoots up, then your system gets used to those elevated levels. If you have a state of being for a prolonged period of time, it starts to alter your personality, and when your personality is altered, you will have a different set of thoughts that occur out of nowhere. Now, there's the loop: thoughts, actions, experiences, state of being, personality and a tendency to a certain personality, a certain set of thoughts. Unless you work really, really hard at it, the most realistic entry place into that loop is at the level of thoughts. But the only way you can change your thoughts is if you're able to direct your mind's attention to a specific thing.
Another very important aspect of this is the nature connection. I truly believe that 40, 50 years from now, nature connection will be understood as a prerequisite for well-being. Without regularly exposing yourself to nature, there is no way to be a healthy human being.
There are some very black-and-white physiological and neurological resetting aspects of this program. I call these infant development activities: a certain set of movements that a human being has originally wired up their system with. When we're born, there are predictable stages of physical capabilities that we all go through until about the age of four. Under ideal circumstances, a four-year-old has all the capabilities that an adult human should have and they just keep refining those capabilities. But the problem is that in our social environments, all of those patterns we developed are not being practiced. In school, you can't jump, throw, fight, or climb, even though all of those patterns are screaming inside of you that I need to do this so I can have my best life insurance policy, which is an incredibly healthy, capable physical body.
When someone tries to take better care of themselves—say they want to get into a gym—they forget that since the age of four, there are a lot of basic patterns that we have not practiced at all. We crawl until the age of four, but how many eight-year-olds do you see doing the same? Not many. If you want to see a grown man crawl, go spend some time with some hunter-gatherers. In a natural environment, there are those exposures and needs for those patterns to be rekindled, which are all about creating a very stable, robust system. I wanted to give people the chance to rekindle those infant development movements in their lives.
There are a few different components to it. This is the reason why there are 30 tasks that the people who sign up for the program will need to complete. What happens if you miss one? There'll be little to no big deal. But if at one point, you miss too many, you feel like you are dropping the ball, just reach out to us and we will restart you on the program when that works for you. I wanted to create something that's good for pretty much anyone out there. I didn't want to create perfection in it, just the foundation.
Otherwise, if people are stressing out so much about doing the program perfectly, that might just lead to more aging.
That's the thing. But the good news is you do become more robust when you have more bandwidth. If you work on your recovery capability—basically the program is all about helping you to recover from life in the most effective way—you suddenly realize that things that used to irritate you don't touch you anymore, so you can actually keep your attention on where you want it.
I will never forget this really interesting experience. A client of mine told me that there was a big business deal that was going to go down and they didn't understand what was going on because the head of the other company seemed like he was dragging his feet. He asked me if I could be there at a meeting and see what the heck was going on. So, we did that and after the meeting, I told my client “Listen, I know this is weird, but next time you talk to him on the phone, can you just tell him about your lower back problem and how irritating that is for you and just see what happens?” I had a feeling this guy might have an issue there.
A week later, he calls me and says, “It was really funny. I did exactly what you said and two seconds later, he responded with ‘Oh my god, I’ve been dealing with that! I can't sit down in the chair for longer than a minute without this pain. I can't pay attention anything. It's so annoying.’ The guy exploded.” People underestimate that when you are not taking good care of your physicality, your attention will not be kept on what matters, and it will confuse you and everyone around you. There was nothing wrong with the deal. The guy was just in pain, uncomfortable, and he was obviously not going to tell others voluntarily. This is why it's important that you refocus on the basics, so your attention can go where you want it to go based on your best wisdom, as opposed to the patterns that created your current life.
In terms of scientific studies, what’s exciting you most in terms of discovering how to age better?
What's cool about our Western world is that we really push the importance of and focus on conscious logic. We started down that path about 300 years ago with Newton, and that logical way of focusing created this amazing technology that we have today. Now when it comes to human well-being and technology, which is really modern medicine, the way I look at it is the following: Modern medicine belongs to the emergency procedures. If you get into a car accident, modern medicine will do a billion times better job than traditional medicine.
When it comes to preventative things though, it hasn't been doing that good of a job. I’m not basing this on anything other than the measurable happiness quotas that we have in the Western world, which has been nosediving for the last 30 years or so. When it comes to the well-being and health of our youth, general well-being, obesity, everything that is connected to it, it is definitely going downhill.
I want to encourage people to be as healthy, capable, and vital as they can, and disengage themselves from the addictions that society or their environment made them addicted to. I cherish when somebody wants to figure out their life so they can live the highest quality life physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
I want to speak about this idea of aging as wisdom and a privilege, versus in our Western world in which aging creates fear. Ultimately, we're all going to get older. But does that fear mindset potentially impact aging more than in a culture where it is valued and looked up to?
The only thing we know is that things change, nothing stays the same. You cannot maintain a status quo. How things change is what you can control. If change is a must, then once you experience the state of well-being, why not experience another state of it?
For example, if you're a happy and healthy 25-year-old, it doesn’t matter how great of a human being you are, there are limitations to being that age. You have a different opportunity to experience wellness in a certain way than at 50. We as 50-year-olds shouldn't try to impress and want the 25-year-old to look up to us. We’re supposed to represent wisdom to them so we can guide their attention towards the things that matter. We, who are representing an older generation, should not try to buy into where their attention is and try to be like them. Put the attention where it matters, which is your experiences.
Sometimes I wonder if the obsession with and idolization of youth is ultimately trying to escape the fact that we're all going to die.
I agree with you. Death is the ultimate change. You can condition yourself to prepare for that change in your life. The people who don't have a chance to learn to accept change as it shows up, some tribes say those people will have a very, very difficult time while they are dying. You might as well train yourself for it so you can have a good death because that means you're able to celebrate the life you lived and give yourself over to that change. But the only way you can earn a good death is if you're constantly embracing change as it shows up and make the best of it, as opposed to hanging on to an idea of what you used to or wanted to be.
How does the program tie into the evolution of your work and your learnings?
I was very much against generalizing well-being for the masses. I've been doing this for over 30 years and was encouraged so much by TV producers to get myself out there, and I felt like it was bullshit. But I was wrong because eventually some wise person came around and said “Csaba, your biggest strength is motivating others. You don't need to be the one who helps them through the stages of change; maybe your job towards the masses is to inspire them to want to do differently.”
That's when I realized I do have a responsibility to get out there. This program is one of the attempts to reach others and motivate them to be willing to dig in and change their lives. That's a part of this process of opening up to the masses versus just focusing on highly specialized processes for individuals, companies, and teams.
Especially when it comes to anti-aging, there's also been debates around whether we need to change the term to “pro-aging” or “well-aging,” but the way I look at it through this lens of what you've discussed with me so far, actually there's nothing wrong with saying anti-aging because the aging we're referring to is a negative decline of the body that maybe doesn't need to be there.
We did a little bit of research on how people react to the word “anti-aging," and one interesting comment that came back was it feels like a cheap sales technique. That is important to address. Everyone wants youthfulness, so you're advertising something that is feeding into those innate aspects of people. Of course, it can feel like that because it has been used in advertising to build on those weaknesses.
But you’ve got to meet people where they're at. If their mind is at anti-aging, what's wrong with that? Just start a conversation from there. That's why I decided to add “active” because you're not passively throwing yourself on the surgery table to make yourself younger. It's taking charge of your life and going against this Western type of aging.
In terms of traditional approaches to aging, where does that need restructuring? For example, while exercise is touted as beneficial, some say that too much high-impact exercise regularly can actually age the body.
Plant medicine is having a comeback when it comes to legality, pop culture, and so on. The first wave of it was when in traditional times we used it as part of our cultural rituals to enhance our lives. During the second wave in the ’60s, without much guidance, understanding, or connection to those old traditions, some people discovered the effect of those plant medicines and dabbled in it. It broke a lot of molds and created social discomfort in our Western world. In the third wave that's showing up right now, we can use this wisdom of understanding and use science that's available and connected to it. Maybe we can turn them towards really good things like helping PTSD, addictive disorders, and so on. There will be a fourth wave, where we develop and embed certain rituals in our culture as we age that will involve some plant medicine.
When it comes to exercising, the same kind of thing is going on. There was a physical capability that human beings used to have a long time ago when they lived in a tribal structure. There was a second wave of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jane Fonda, that kicked it into high gear. I still feel like we are at the later end of that because there were some people who took it to a way deeper level. Paul Chek or Charles Poliquin brought so much science to it that it became more user-friendly for a bigger population as opposed to just the people who wanted to have bigger muscles.
But I feel like there's a third wave that is showing up gradually. The second wave usually creates gods―these gurus that everyone is latching onto in our social media algorithms. If someone has wisdom in something, people lift them up and believe they have the answer for everything.
Then a problem is when you feel like there is a path, that means there is also a wrong path. In my opinion, that's off, because everyone is doing his or her absolute best in this given moment with what they have in their lives. There is no wrong path, as soon as there is the way, you're distorting the real understanding of what matters. That's going to be a third wave of understanding: what is taking place inside of you. It's a prerequisite for you to really express yourself in the world of fitness effectively.
This program is alluding to that. Forget about the fads, the science, go back to the basics that you can do on your own and everything is fine. Is having a piece of chocolate cake on my daughter's birthday making me an unhealthy person? No. It will if I judge it. Scientifically, when you judge what you eat as bad for your system, you will have a hard time digesting it. But if you enjoy it, it will help you digest it. Of course, if you do that every single day, it will distort you, most possibly, but maybe not, depending on what you do in the rest of your life.
The third wave is going to be about understanding that there are no gods. There are no people who have the answers. There are people who will be willing to engage with you and through a guided exploration together, you can discover a new way of being fit. That's what I try to be. After all, one of the Buddha's sayings is, if you see Buddha, kill him. It's something that confuses the heck out of most people, but I really believe when trying to put gods in your life instead of looking at yourself and trying to discover the wisdom in yourself, you're focusing on the wrong thing.
I hope there will be a fourth wave of fitness and wellness, at which point in our modern Western society, we will have rituals—that the government, society, and humanity help us to develop—built into our world; the different stages of our lives. Through this beautiful system of rituals, we will develop our physical well-being. It is going to provide that beautiful wellness for every human being.
Now we are quite far away from that fourth wave, but by changing our environment enough throughout our entire lives, there's a physicality built into our livelihood as Westerners. Other cultures have that, the seafarers in the South Pacific or Inuits up in northern Canada still have these physicalities built into their lives in a very ritualistic, traditional way. I think our juvenile culture still needs to discover that.
You can try to hack history. That’s what I'm trying to do and provide processes; be willing to discover this new way in each individual, family, company, and organization so we can try to push this evolution forward.
This Active Anti-Aging program is all about turning your attention to yourself. All the subjects that are in there, I have taught days’ worth of lectures about, but I didn't want to put all that stuff in there because what's the point? What matters is that I inspire you enough that you're interested in adjusting your sleep time, for you to be changing your life in the direction you want.
You mentioned disconnecting from those addictions that we have, which probably stand in the way of tapping into that inner intuition we have.
Totally. Let's say you look at someone who's taking pretty good care of themselves. I can listen to my intuition, what to do in situations, and if there's a piece of cake, if I want to eat it, I can eat it, and after the fourth or fifth bite, I'm good because that is my system is telling me what's good and what's not. Now, if you have overgrown candida in your body and you put a little bit of sugar in there, your whole system is going to be screaming for more. You can only listen to your being when you're balanced. Until you reach homeostasis, you have to use your highest wisdom as opposed to the patterns that lay deep within. That's the challenge: when to pay attention to your highest wisdom versus what feels right, because they are out of sync. Once you do your job and take good care of yourself, they will sync and that's a nice way to be because your highest wisdom and what you feel like doing will align pretty closely.
It's funny how for the beauty industry, anti-aging is mostly on the outside level, and like you said, the inside is actually more important.
And maybe the beauty industry is heading that way. The conversation is there; it’s just the natural evolution of beauty. When you're looking deeper, beauty is a good thing on every level. The industry is going to change, but in what direction it is changing, trendsetters will decide.
The biggest issue with embracing a spirit-focused approach to aging, because it goes beyond the body, is that a good 80% of us have become so conditioned to “ideal aging.” Not to make it all about gender, but it's also been crueler towards women than men. A man is getting mature, a woman is past her prime. The idea of not thinking about aging as this thing that we have to butcher away to try and “stop the clock,” which nobody can, is quite a radical proposition when it shouldn't have to be. On the flip side, for people who step outside of that narrative, it can be hard to let go of all of those ideals and that messaging.
It is because most people don't have a blueprint for well-being. Most people, currently in the Western world have never been well for even one second in their lives. Let's say you got into it at the age of 14, when your brain is finally able to emit brainwaves so you can reflect on your own actions versus being a pattern-recycling machinery—when you are first able to wrap your mind around how to use your best wisdom and start to take charge of your life.
Our modern school system doesn't give you what a human being needs for proper development. That basically means that at the age of 14, after being in that system for seven or eight years, you are suboptimal when it comes to your physical and psychological capabilities, compared to what level of wisdom they would have living much closer to nature in a traditional human tribal setting.
In the modern Western world, is there a system that tells you this is your moment when you can examine your behavior patterns, break the ones which you are not happy with, and create new ones with the help of these rituals that align with the way you want to be? There's no conversation like that. So what happens? People just continue with the patterns that were dumped on them by society, the school system, their peers, what's cool according to social media. They download those patterns and run with it and the life that they create around them. They never had the chance to experience that blueprint of how it is to be a human being. Therefore, it's very hard to know how to shoot for something you never experienced.
But the cool thing is the human body is this unbelievable healing machinery. No one realizes that. It's unbelievable what the human body can do to heal itself. Once you understand that, you understand that there is a way to heal your life, but it does require you to find the right guides in your life who will, through a guided exploration, help you to discover a different level of wisdom, and at some point you can get to the place of that blueprint. Once you have it, even just for a few days, now you know what to shoot for.
That's the modern human journey: how to create the blueprint of well-being in this environment that is full of incredible miraculous things, yet it's very, very challenging. Information overload used to be considered amazing, now all it does is cross your mind and you don't know what to focus on. Now clarity is the power, not the information. I don't need to be a scientific genius, I just need to tell my client to go to sleep before 3am and you will feel better. That's good enough advice to make a huge step forward.
I have an interest in science, I really do, and I am interested in everything. It's very easy to get lost. This is why I use traditional tribes [as a template] because masters of traditional tribes and processes practice without the understanding of things that work really well. That was my break away from believing science had the answers and understanding. No, actually, science is in a catch-up mode to masters who already do this stuff, so I need to connect to those masters and understand the science so I can explain the mastery in a way that people can process in the Western world. We're conditioned with this very logical, scientific, technology way of examining life. That's the mastery of our culture, and also the downfall of our culture at the same time.
Wade Davis, an amazing ethnographer and scientist traveler said that a Tibetan monk will tell a modern-day scientist: “You say you landed on the moon. I don't believe it, but you did.” I tell you that finding enlightenment in life is possible. You don't believe it, but I did it. Different cultures have different wisdom. We need to better understand our job and our culture. If we don't then we won't be able to utilize its real power. In the Active Anti-Aging program, I try to help people create a foundation that can give them the chance to shoot for that blueprint of well-being so they can open their eyes and potentially break away more and more and more from those addictions that make us blind to the genius and real danger of our culture.
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