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William Winram talks diving with Great White Sharks

By April 23, 2020 September 2nd, 2020 2 Comments

“The mindfulness isn’t sitting in the room crosslegged, it can be in every aspect of your day” – William Winram

Mark’s new book about the seven commitments of leadership has just come out. It is called “Staring Down the Wolf: 7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams,” and is available now from Amazon and from Commander Divine writes about many of the great leaders he met in SpecOps to give examples of the commitments that one has to make to the 7 key principles of  Courage, Trust, Respect, Growth, Excellence, Resiliency and Alignment.

In the second part of this interview William Winram (@williamwinram) talks about his experience of the ocean and diving with Great Whites. William is a free-diving world record holder, an ocean explorer and conservationist, and the founder of the Watermen project, dedicated to helping to conserve the ocean.

  • Sharks are mostly just curious creatures, who might bite out of curiosity
  • Optimizing breathing is the most effective, simple thing that a person can do
  • Coping with fear depends more on your general ability to cope than experience of a particular situation

Listen to this episode to find out more about managing fear and developing self-control.

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Mark. So the Watermen project, you are helping to research sharks by tagging them and tracking them. What are you looking for? What’s the whole intent unit?

William. Well it started off just when my competitive career took off. I’d done an interview and was asked about background. I said I grew up spearfishing and exploring.

And I got invited to help scientists tag a difficult to approach species of shark. And it just kind of snowballed, because one of the researchers that I met in 2009, he only had two tags. So there’s an enormous lack of funding, and then scientists… I mean, I talked to scientists… they fill out reams and reams of paperwork to get a five thousand dollar grant. For research that’s gonna require fifty to a hundred thousand…

And so it’s kind of what my parents instilled in my brother and I. Being of service and I was excited that I could use my skills to help place the tags. Then we redesigned the tagging system, to make it more user friendly. And more friendly to the shark.

And then it was trying to raise funds to buy tags. Trying to then expand the educational opportunities. Bringing awareness to people. And initially, in the same year that we did the tagging, it was also sharing with people a different perspective on sharks.

They’re not mindless killing machines, so we were doing that through photos and through films to kind of express that. And now I mean, it’s been 12 years since we were doing that.

So the Waterman project supports research. So sometimes we just go on site and place the tags for the scientists. Other times we buy the tags. We organize the expedition vessels. Usually we fund them either through donors, or a combination of donors and like eco-supporters that want to come on the expedition, so they pay for a spot on the boat. Which helps offset the cost of the boat.

And then photograph it, and film it to be able to communicate about it. Whether it’s in conferences or on social media or via documentary films.

Because, for example I did a conference in the Swiss Alps, can’t member how many years ago it was – and it was a Mountain Film Festival – and I got invited. And I was kind of like “okay, I don’t really know how I fit in there.”

But my business partner Michelle and I figured out a way that we could kind of fit it in. Funny enough and for me it Illustrated there’s something about the ocean. Doesn’t matter where you live, people are drawn to it.

They wound up having to film me live and beam me into another auditorium, because they had too many people present. It was really cool, but what I loved was there was a journalist who said “I’m gonna apologize in advance for my question. I’m not trying to be an asshole.”

And I’m like “okay, now you got my curiosity piqued here.”

He says “wow, your photos… the images… everything you’re saying, it’s amazing. It’s incredible.”

And then he’s hesitating. I said, “Please, just throw it out there. You’re not gonna offend me.”

And he says, “I just don’t get it. We’re in the Swiss Alps. This is a mountain Film Festival. And you’re talking about the ocean. What’s the connection?”

And I smiled and I looked at him and I said, “I love you. Thank you so much.”

Then I repeated the question so everybody heard it. And then I said “well, 50% of the oxygen in the air you’re breathing here comes from the ocean. 25% of the protein consumed on the planet comes from the ocean.” And I went through all of the aspects that connect us.

I said “so, what drains into the streams and rivers up here, winds up in the ocean. We’re all connected. We can’t get away from the ocean.”

So it was this beautiful opportunity to connect people to the ocean, that don’t live anywhere near it.

Mark. Yeah that is cool. The other thing is, we have the ocean inside of us.

William. Yeah.

Mark. This is more of metaphysical concept, but we’re almost the… I don’t know if this is true – but we’re like the exact proportion of water and land as the earth is. Pretty much.

It’s fascinating, and when you go into the ocean – like you said – there’s a certain energy. It’s like going back to the womb. It’s incredibly calming and healing and grounding. And what an extraordinary way for human beings to heal, and to be more connected to the earth. Which makes them more connected to each other.

I think everyone should go into the ocean as much as possible. And it’s a shame that people can’t live around the ocean, even though close to 80 percent of the planet is bounded by an ocean.

Let’s talk about sharks again, because most people are just terrified of sharks. I don’t know of any Navy SEAL that’s ever been bitten or killed by a shark. So, I think there is something about the way the Navy seals mind, the way we are trained and our comfort in the water. We’re just peaceful in the water. And I think that has something to do with it.

But we used to joke with new trainees all the time and say “we’re going out for a long swim. And we heard this report there’s a great white kind of lurking around. But don’t worry about it. Don’t think about it.”

(laughing) Now all they can think about is a shark. And then we tell them the way to avoid or deal with a shark attack, if you see a shark is to stab your buddy and swim like hell.

William. (laughing) Yeah, just make sure you’re not the last one back to the boat.

Mark. Right you just have to be the faster swimmer than your buddies. Kind of like… that’s the same way to survive a bear attack. Just gotta outrun your buddies.

Anyways, it’s a joke. But why do – let me ask a couple questions – why do people get bit or eaten by sharks? I mean your experience is that these are beautiful, intelligent animals. And you can hang out with them. But most people wouldn’t be comfortable doing that, to say the least…

William. Yeah and so let’s I mean you get bitten by a dog, a domesticated animal… the thing with sharks and I mean I’ve been surfing since I was a kid – I am a Waterman so I’m in the water all the time…

My first encounter and I won’t go into it, because it’s a lengthy story… was with a four meter tiger shark. Alone. And it scared the crap out of me. I was petrified, because of everything that I had been fed, everything that I had read…

But the animal that I encountered in that first encounter – at no point did she aggress me. Zero aggression. When I sat on the beach after that encounter and like “what just happened?”

In reflection what I had just experienced was a very shy and curious creature. And that was actually – she was the reason that… I mean, that was back before the internet and I laugh now… I laugh. You wanna go shark diving back then, you’re looking at the coastline, you’re looking in books about what is the region that these sharks inhabit, and then you go… and you go and look.

Now you Google “shark dive” and you get 250 million pages on Google. A season and blah-blah-blah. Back then there was nothing.

But that basically triggered me to want to understand what’s the truth. And for me, with the internal martial arts, with all of these things… is what is the truth? What is the truth of our potential? What is the truth of the natural world?

So the next time I actively went looking. I was nervous, but that was it. But I didn’t find any sharks and it just progressed to… like for example, and those of you listening to this podcast you can ask yourself, what happens if I take a straight razor and slash both my forearms? And then squeeze my hands and drop that blood in the water? Will the shark react to it? Yes or no?

And I can tell you – I haven’t done that – but I have done something less drastic. They don’t care. Human blood does not trigger them.

Mark. Really?

William. Yeah.

Mark. That’s unusual, cause you would think…

William. No, no. We’re taught that it would, but it doesn’t. That’s not what triggers them. And it’s really interesting, because you think about this…

I mean, for example, when we go out to tag great white sharks our problem is we’re oftentimes working off a small boat. And the sharks don’t care about the small boat. They care about the big cage diving boats, because those are the ones that are gonna have food. So they’ll stick around those boats.

So, how do we attract them? So, if I put say yellowfin tuna blood in the water, for sure that’s something that a great white shark would love to eat. But that requires current for the scent to be able to travel to the shark.

Mark. So I was curious… so they can’t just smell something from far away?

William. No, no. It has to travel. It has to travel in that fluid medium.

So the first attraction for them is sound.

Mark. Hmm, okay.

William. So and think about it. We used to laugh. We had a guy on one of our expeditions that wanted to use a monofin to dive with sharks. And we’re like “no you don’t… don’t go there.”

He’s like “no, no, no.”

I go “dude. On your best day you’re like a physically handicapped dolphin or sea lion. You’re gonna get nailed.”

And he’s like “no, no, no, no. I’m really good in the water.”

And then I just turned to the other guys and I said “okay, well should we put GoPros up? And we’ll get the predation at least on camera, so we can make some money off it?”

And then the guy is like “dude! That’s not cool. What’re you guys gonna do bait it in, so it attacks me?”

I’m like “I don’t have to do that. The moment you get in with that monofin, you are gonna resemble an injured marine mammal or fish. And you’re gonna trigger them on an instinctual level, and they’re gonna nail you. And they’re gonna come so fast, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

And so our thing is… yeah, we’ll put bait in the water. But we’ll smack the surface of the water. We’ll thrash around. We’ll do things that are not rhythmic, that are irregular. And that tends to attract them.

So the problem you have for humans recreating in the ocean – we make irregular sound. We make noise – we make unnatural noise. And then to top it off, surfer sitting on a board, chatting with buddies, not paying attention. Legs dangling in the water. Then there’s that spastic paddle – which is making noise – to catch the wave. And then the paddle back.

So a shark that’s just cruising along may – and I’ve seen that, I know when I dive in areas where there’s a reasonably good chance there’s gonna be a shark. I wear a mask around my neck…. It’s not on my face…

And I remember, I was surfing in Hawaii and I wiped out. And on the second wave in the set I see a tiger shark. And I’m like “ah sweet. Get to do some shark diving.”

And I put on the mask around, cleared it and ducked under. And through the whitewash and stuff I managed to make eye contact. And it cruised out. And then so I swam out with my board in-tow, and then I just signaled the guys.

I said “guys, there’s a tiger shark here. Just stay cool. I’m gonna deal with her.”

And I could see right away, she was just curious, but she was sticking around. And so I just asked a buddy to take my board, and I swam at her and she moved away.

And then I just kept following her, I followed her out and then she was like “okay, I’m out of here.” And then I saw her swim off, and I knew she wasn’t gonna come back. And I hung out for a couple secs on the outside just to make sure, but she was pretty much gone.

So the thing is… I take great white sharks and put them in a different class – because tiger sharks, I’ve never, ever been aggressed by a tiger shark in 35 years. I’ve never seen them “go off,” but I have seen great whites – I’ve had them go off on me, because somebody else made a mistake.

They switch on and if you do something that engages… like one of the rules of the road is that you don’t ever sprint anywhere underwater when you’re dealing with great white sharks. You do that, you engage them.

Mark. Movement triggers them.

William. Yeah so, it’s… the biggest problem for humans is that they’re not aware that the shark is there. And the shark is just being curious and… look, we want to buy food, we go in a supermarket. The labels all there.

We don’t have labels on us. And if the shark is curious, and really thinks that we might be food. Or if it just to figure out… it bites… it tastes. It puts the thing in its mouth and this is why you get – over the years there’s been videos or photos of shark biting an inanimate object. And then “aw, they’re mindless, they’re this, they’re that.”

No. They don’t have hands.

Mark. Right. They’re exploring.

William. Yeah. They’re exploring. And they do it with their mouths. So the thing that we do is make sure that we don’t ever become part of their exploration in that sense of it.

Overcoming Fear


Mark. Have you ever been bitten or what’s the closest you’ve been?

William. Never been bitten. A couple times, I’ve had great white sharks test me. The worst thing is when they come out of the depths, and they’re head wagging – which means they’re accelerating. And the normal reaction – we had this with a bunch of the Eco supporters, they were in the cage when a shark did this, and it was the first time it ever happened to me. And I dealt with it, and we got out…

Mark. The thing was coming at you, or at the cage?

William. No, it was coming at me. Out of the depths.

Mark. So how do you deal with that? Like if you see this shark coming at you fast, and you’re just staring at it going, “holy shit.” Do you just stay calm? I mean, what do you do?

William. Yeah I went straight at it.

Mark. You did?

William. Well I was horizontal, and at the time it wasn’t… and this goes to mindfulness. There’s a mental space that I’m in which usually after expeditions like that, I’m tired. Because I’m pushing myself to do, to sustain a mental focus that I wouldn’t do in normal daily life.

And in that instance, I remember – I just knew… I had no idea the why – the why didn’t matter and I mean split second I was horizontal. And I’ve got it on film, I was filming… and so it was simple. I just changed my vertical position and started to accelerate towards her. And it had the desired effect which is like she hesitated. And I accelerated even more, because what I want is speed. Because that gives me maneuverability.

And this is a split second. My intellect is not involved. But I know in retrospect why I did it was because I’ve got to behave not like prey. And your gut instinct fear-based is go to the boat. But you have no chance to get to the boat.

So I went at her I just went straight down at her and at the last minute, I fire the shutter in my camera. Which at that time I wasn’t using a mirrorless, because a mirrorless doesn’t make a noise. I was making it DSLR, which made a noise. Which also caused her to hesitate slightly,

And then I just lobbed myself up above, so at that point if she opens the mouth, I just close it. I leverage her nose to push myself out of the way, and then I’ll smack her in the Gill plate. And they don’t come back. When you hit them in the gills – you don’t injure them, but they don’t come back. They’re like “we’re done, goodbye.”

Mark. Interesting. Reminding me of that story “Unbroken” about Louie Zamperini. Did you see that?

William. No.

Mark. Fascinating story. This guy’s an Olympic runner, he ends up getting drafted and goes into World War 2 and becomes a B24 co-pilot or something… and then he gets shot down and he spends like 60 days at sea. And they’re just about at the end of this thing and they see a Japanese zero and they’re flagging it down, because I think at least we’re found and won’t die at sea. Zero comes around and starts strafing them. This is he and other guy.

So they jump under the little rubber dinghy, and sure enough there’s some sharks down there. Who are hungry. And so if they go above, they’re gonna get shot by this Japanese zero, but underneath the boat they’re gonna get eaten by the shark.

And so Zamperini has the presence of mind to just wait into the shark is right up close him and then punches it in the nose. And he says it goes away. Sort of what you’re talking about but you’re getting him in the gill.

William. The problem with the nose is if you miss, you either go above it, or you go in the mouth. And it doesn’t have the same effect – the gill plate is life and death for them. I’ve never had a shark come back that I’ve hit in the gill plate. And it’s safer for you, because you’re not gonna risk putting your hand in the mouth.

Mark. Fascinating. Wow. Well, I’m not gonna go out and practice this skill. I might visualize it, how’s that?

William. (laughing) I took my brother who was f-18 fighter weapons certified, so I guess the Canadian equivalent of a Top Gun. Who kind of got a bit bored.

Mark. (laughing) Gotta love that. I’m bored of flying jets at Mach 4. I gotta find something else to do.

William. Exactly, so he applied to the Special Forces. And he made it. And so the latter half of his military career was that and he’s back and forth from the two disciplines.

But he came with me early this year to dive with tiger sharks. And it was really interesting seeing… because him and I share information. We talk about a lot of different stuff. And it’s about the mental… the mind, the mental preparation, the mental space that you put yourself in when dealing with different situations.

And it’s fascinating. I wouldn’t hesitate to take you diving with sharks. Even great white sharks. I think your training… you would be able to tell me “yeah, I’m up for it,” or “I’m not.” Which is different for a lot of people, because a lot of people are just… they’ll get so excited about… they just want to be able to say they did it.

Mark. Yeah, right. No, you’ve gotta be in the right mental and emotional state. Not just jump into it, so to speak.

I remember we used to swim around Ford Island in Hawaii when I was at seal delivery vehicle team one. And we would swim right over these little pods of tiger sharks. So they’d kind of cluster around together.

William. Cool.

Mark. It was really cool. And I never felt any sense of danger or risk. And we’re all… swimming – as you know – gets you into that nice kind of mindful state anyways. Especially in the ocean.

Nor did we attract their attention. They must have been used to seeing a lot of activity, because it’s in the Pearl Harbor area.

But I gotta admit though, I still have a little fear… back to the freediving. Like, I’m fascinated with going down there and the stillness – I think I’ve been down to like 120 feet a couple times in the seals.

And boy, tell you what, when you when you’re down that deep and you realize just how vast the ocean is… and you wonder like what’s underneath you? (laughing) I do get a little bit of twang, of like ooh, you know what I mean?

You never know, and I could imagine as you were talking earlier, seeing a shark come out of the depths would be utterly terrifying. And I think that would be interesting training to go down there and just to deal with that fear. Confront it and realize it’s just fear.

William. Yeah do it in a manner that’s controlled and where you feel confident that you have in place the kinds of things that can…

Mark. A lot of people like I’m doing a webinar this Thursday, which will have passed – as I mentioned at the beginning – by the time this is posted. But a lot of us going to be dealing with how to overcome fear. Cause everyone’s freaking out right now with this coronavirus and I’m sure everyone’s got their take on it…

But for me like its first to identify the things that you’re fearful around. And so obviously this idea of sharks still kind of gets me a little bit. And the only way to overcome that is to understand it. Like you have. To lean into it and to go toward it, instead of avoid it or go away from it.

And to recognize that the fear is usually self-induced. Once you get a little bit more information and knowledge, most of what we fear is actually just… it’s just false. That’s why I love that acronym false evidence or false expectation that appears real.

It’s like you’re saying about the Sharks. People have a false expectation, and that could actually lead to more danger than the truth. The truth is they’re not looking for human meat necessarily.

William. No and that’s also as evidenced by more often than not they bite and they leave.

Mark. They leave, yeah.

William. But fear is an interesting one, because I have… as a kid I wanted to be an actor, but realized early on my stage fright was gonna make that extremely challenging.

Mark. And a lot of people have that. They say that public speaking and performing in front of an audience – people fear that, just as much they fear death or sharks almost.

So have you gone into that one? To investigate that further?

William. Well I started doing public talks, and I remember in the early days literally I was paralyzed behind the podium. And I was like “I’m being overtaken by this. I need to give myself space.”

So I hit the start to the first slide, and I had gone into that narrow, focused, semi-panicked state and was in the process of using my breathing to bring myself back and at least get a handle on it.

Not realizing what I had started… and it’s a sequence where there’s a great white shark coming in from the distance and then a diver swimming down – which is me. And then it flashes to the shark getting bigger, the diver diving down. And of course I had put the Jaws soundtrack to it. With a very specific purpose.

And then I look out from behind the podium, and the way I did it – purely by accident – was so comedic that the whole audience burst out laughing. And I realized my mic was on. And I stuck my head out again, and then quickly whipped it back, and I said “yeah, so right now the thought of standing up in front of you guys scares the shit out of me, but what you’re seeing on film doesn’t scare me at all.”

And they all laughed and applauded. And then I broke past it and I got up and I went on with the point of airing that sequence. And then showing the same sequence again without the music designed to influence them negatively, to talk about how we’re manipulated.

And so I mean I love engaging people. I love speaking publicly. I still get nervous beforehand, and I don’t know that that will ever change. But it’s not crippling.

But it’s something that… I’ve had it since I was a little kid, and…

Mark. I think everyone has. It’s pretty normal. You just have to learn how to manage that experience that we call fear. And then to find a way to kind of lean into it when we have to perform, right?

And like as a Navy SEAL… people say “well, Navy seals are taught not to experience fear and I said that’s bullshit. Every time I parachute jumped – freefall jumped – I experience that. Because you’re basically hurling yourself out of an airplane going 400 miles an hour at 17 to 20,000 feet. At night. Into the ocean, most of the time. It’s terrifying.

But you would breathe into it. And you would experience that arising of that sensation. Attach a new story to it. And so for me that story was “I’m a highly trained operator and I’m gonna kick ass and take names on this OP. And I’m not gonna let this sensation debilitate me.”

So it became more of like an excitement or anticipation. Or mission-focus, you know what I mean?

William. Yeah. That’s so cool.

Mark. Yeah. So you learn how to manage it and redirect that energy and not get crippled – like you said – in the story of Jaws. That movie terrified everybody, just in that sound, that “dunh-nuh, dunh-nuh,” right? It immediately triggers people back into that state. It’s just a story. It’s just a story that you’re telling about this sensation. And so if you tell a different story when the sensation arises, then it channels it in a new way. And you can use it for good.

And so like this coronavirus, people are telling them the story that’s being fed by the media. And it’s debilitating them. Whereas if you put a new story – like my story with my tribe and my company is that this is an amazing opportunity for many different reasons. To strengthen yourself, to learn, to grow… to pivot, if you’re unfortunately get fired. Well, a great opportunity to pivot. Maybe what you were doing wasn’t the right thing, or you’d been thinking about doing something new, so now is the time to take action. Because who wants to sit on their butt and just collect unemployment for months.

So what’s the opportunity? Let’s lean into it and learn some skills. We got some time alone. Deepen our connection to our family. Get out into nature. Breathe some fresh air. Go in the ocean. Swim with the sharks. Whatever it is, it’s a great opportunity. So change the story.

William. Yeah exactly. I just want to say I have a proposal for you.

Mark. All right. Let’s do it.

William. I’m afraid of heights. You teach me how to jump out of a plane, and I’ll teach you how to free-dive and dive with sharks.

Mark. Oh man. Well I would have to find a certified instructor to do that, because I don’t think I’m qualified. They wouldn’t let me near a parachute with you. But I would do it with you.

That’d be fun. We’ll have to talk about that.

William. Okay.



Mark. We’ve been going for a while, but I do want to kind come back to Qigong. Because if you take them the martial arts out of Tai Chi or by Bagua, you’re left basically with Qigong.
And so when people ask me what is to you chi gong, I kind of try to explain it that way. You got the breath, and you got the imagery. And you’ve got some subtle movements.

And you could probably find some martial application for some of those moves, but generally they’re not. They’re more medical, they’re more spiritual… and they can be very powerful for people just to bring into your daily life. It doesn’t take months and months or years like Tai Chi to learn a simple form. You can do it like right here, right now.

So that brings my question. What it is one of the most powerful Qigong exercises that you have found benefit from? That you might be able to share – at least verbally share with our guests?

William. Hmm. Well the most powerful thing that I highly recommend for anyone to work on is their breathing. And just optimizing their breathing. As an example, the average person breeze 15 to 20 times per minute. Inhale exhale.

That’s 22 to 24 thousand times a day one of the biggest benefits – and this was the things that I took from Tai Chi and Bagua into my clinical practice – working with people with anywhere from minor to severe orthopedic crippling problems – was to address their breathing. And to look at how the breathing impacted their health and vitality.

And I was doing that, looking at my own… my breathing rate sitting, working at the desk is 3 or 4 per minute.

Mark. Right, yeah. Mine too. Been working on that for a long time… and what are the benefits in your opinion or from a medical perspective?

William. From a medical perspective – I was participating in a study in Germany and this is one of the times where I twigged on all of this stuff. From a scientific side of it.

But, for example, my lung volume is more than 11 liters. Which normal for my height was about seven and a half to eight liters. So I managed to increase my lung volume by – the last time I was checked was three years ago – but since 2005 was when I started applying all of this stuff more fully, because it served me in the competitive sport.

But I’ve reduced my residual volume – so for those people that understand – residual volume is that volume of air that you cannot ever move. You can never exhale it and it’s a question of flexibility of the ribcage, and the diaphragm.

So typically – medically speaking – as you age, you stereotypically stiffen up – so that residual volume grows, so you have less and less of… or sorry more and more air that you can’t move.

Mark. Kind of toxic. Stale air just sitting there.

William. So my residual volume has been reduced, and my total lung volume has been increased. As well as my vital capacity. Vital capacity is the amount of air you can exhale, the total lung volume is the total volume of air in your lungs.

And in this testing, I was hooked up tubes… shit in my arms and sitting there and thing on my head. And they were testing… they were looking for signs of brain or organ damage, when doing a breath hold,

And I was going to have to do four-minute breath holds with my chin in a vise, staring at a screen, with headphones blaring music. Anyways, really not fun.

And I was sitting there, and they were still doing setup and all my stats were on the big screen. And I just started doing my normal breathing thing. And was watching the numbers change.

And then I heard stress in their voices – I don’t understand German… the lead scientist came around and he says “sorry, William. We have a problem just want to know, do you want us to take all of this stuff off and then when we solve the problem we’ll kit you back up again? Or how do you want…?

And I was like “well, it took an hour to get all this stuff on me. I don’t really want to go through that again. Depends. Like what’s the problem?”

And now of course, when you talk your co2 levels rise, because you’re not exchanging gases as efficiently as if you were just breathing. And so I had started talking, and my co2 levels were going up. And the head researcher then hears something from one of the other doctors behind him. I said “what’s the problem? What’s going on?”

And he looks at the other researcher, and he looks at the thing. And he says “are you doing something?”

And I said “I was just breathing.” I said “why?”

He said “well, we thought there was a problem with the co2 sensor.” So the short version of all of this is that my co2 levels – they had never, ever seen co2 levels that low. With anyone. Even people hyperventilating. And hyperventilation comes with some very nasty, negative side effects.

So I discovered via that and I also discovered the breathing rate in terms of gas exchange. I’m able to do dive profiles that my friends, that are technical divers they’re like “dude, you’re insane. You should be in a chamber.”

Mark. And do you think anybody can train that or…?

William. Absolutely.

Mark. Or are you like you’re your friend on the couch, but in a different way.

William. No I think breathing is the easiest… I mean, I teach breathing and I teach people… I do corporate stuff… it’s the easiest thing. It’s the one thing you do every day, all day. So one thing you can’t do without.

And it’s really, really not difficult to change your breathing patterns. It just takes regular practice. And I think you touched on something very key there, which is, it’s great to do the meditation retreat and really immerse yourself in something like that. And I really enjoy those kinds of experiences, but the real work is done every day.

Mark. That’s right.

William. And the mindfulness isn’t sitting in the room cross-legged or doing Bagua -it can be at every aspect of your day, when you’re showering, when you’re making food, when you’re working at your computer, you’re being present, you’re being in your body, you’re feeling your body… you’re not thinking about something else, you’re focused on what you’re doing.

So, it’s the same thing with… for example, I’ll be sitting in a plane and I’ll do exercises in my seat.

Mark. Yeah, I do that as well…

William. Yeah, so it’s just really integrating it into daily life, and I think that while I’ve been telling these stories, I’m trying to think of something simple for your listeners to do. Particularly taking the coronavirus which targets the respiratory system…

A simple thing to do seated at the desk is to first just take an inventory of your breathing. So breathe in and breathe out a few cycles and what moves? What expands? What contracts when you exhale?

And then lean forward, put your elbows on your knees and breathe in that position. And just do a few cycles and again just being present and what’s expanding when you breathe in? And what’s shrinking when you breathe out?

And when you’ve done say three cycles of that sit back upright, and go back to your normal breathing cycle. And is it the same or has it changed?

Mark. Mmm. Yeah, great awareness. So mindful, you’re not thinking about anything else, you’re just focusing on this one action and then noticing how your breath is affected by your physiology and change in posture. And then do that while you’re walking and take that out of the chair.

William. Yeah, exactly. And being present. When I was when I was working clinically the difference when you get somebody to be present and they’re aware of whatever the movement was before. And then they’re aware of how the movement’s changed – they will hold the change much more effectively than if they’re not present… if they’re there as a passive… “I’m here, you’re supposed to treat me.” And blah, blah, blah, blah.

Whereas the present, and you get them involved in the movement – especially with the before and after -there is an unconscious repatterning which then tends… they tend to hold the change more effectively. That was at least what I noticed over the years.

Mark. Fascinating. Well, we could talk forever, but we probably should wrap this up. Good shit.

Right. So, what’s next for you? Like are you gonna go tackle anymore World Records this year? Once we’re let out of lockdown that is…

William. Yeah, I was… well… funny enough when you’re talking about being positive about things and looking at opportunity – I’m taking this quarantine as an opportunity to work on a book that I’ve wanted to write for several years. So I’m excited about that.

And I had planned to attempt a world record this year. I don’t know if that’s still possible.

And there’s a film project… a documentary that we’ve been putting together which is… everything’s on hold at the moment, but we’re still doing the developmental, pre-production, work. So we’ll see.

It’s sharks, marine mammals, the ocean in general… it’s exciting. We’ve got a BAFTA winning producer and the gentleman that I worked with on great white shark 3d – just incredibly talented, creative human beings are on board as well. And some very talented young filmmakers.

So it’s an exciting project. I can’t say too much about it yet…

Mark. Well keep us posted when both the book and that come out. And we’ll help you get some awareness and promote it.

William. That’s super, thank you.

Mark. Yeah so your website is (laughing) It’s hard to say it fast.

And then also though the is the non-profit. What else would you…? Where else can people find out about what you’re up to?

William. Social media. Instagram and Facebook. What’s your Instagram handle?

William. Williamwinram.

Mark. Okay, terrific.

William. And I think I’m the only William Winram on there, so I’ve got that advantage.

Mark. (laughing) One of a kind. That’s awesome.

All right, William. Thanks so much for your time, this has been fascinating. Keep up the great work. I hope to meet you in person. Maybe go swim with some tiger sharks or a great white even. So we’ll have to connect on that.

William. Absolutely.

Mark. Get one of my friends to throw you out of an airplane.

William. Okay, well you’re absolutely welcome. If things turn around and I am gonna be training at depth this year, you’re welcome to come out and join me. And I’ll happily take you deeper than you’ve ever been. I guarantee it. Safely.

Mark. That would be amazing. Well, thanks again.

William. Thank you.

Mark. All right, folks. That was William Winram. Check him out at, or his non-profit the And stand by for more info about his book and his upcoming documentary. Amazing stuff.

And so stay focused and don’t succumb to the fear. Use this time as an opportunity to grow stronger, gain momentum to pivot to do what maybe you’ve been putting off. And to help others do the same. That’s what we’re doing and so this podcast is in service to that. And I appreciate your support. This is Mark Divine with Unbeatable Mind.


See you next time.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Elven Smith III says:

    Life Altering Program Especially Applicable Now God Bless You and Your Work

  • Peter B Corneliussen says:

    This is an awesome podcast! Thanks
    So much for giving your audience this contact with William Winram and his perspectives, experiences and inspiration!
    Commander Mark, ever since I discovered
    your books in 2014, which was just after
    A total physical collapse in October 2013,
    you have been my most important role
    model and source of life changing information! Peter C

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