Do you want to learn how remodeling your brain helps create peace and joy in your life? Join your host Adam Markel as he interviews Dr. Dawson Church about the neuroscience of change, consciousness, and resilience. Dawson Church, Ph.D., is an award-winning science writer with three bestselling books to his credit. Different circumstances lead you to believe that your life will not get any better. The truth is you can be happy and calmer no matter what the odds are. Tune in to learn more about the importance of deep meditation and the proper techniques to help you produce measurable changes in your brain.
- 4:05 Introduction
- 8:23 People Change
- 17:45 Areas Of The Brain
- 19:21 Default Mode Network
- 26:20 Two Components
- 29:47 Deep Meditation
- 39:42 Tools For People To Maintain Peace
- 43:12 Practices
- 45:51 Tapping Technique
- 1:00:17 Wrapping Up
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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Performance Breakthroughs And Remodeling Your Brain For Happiness And Resilience With Dawson Church – Replay
Dr. Dawson Church is an award-winning science writer with three bestselling books to his credit. The Genie in Your Genes was the first book to demonstrate that emotions drive gene expression. Mind to Matter showed that the brain creates much of what we think of as objective reality. Bliss Brain demonstrates that peak mental states rapidly remodel the brain for happiness.
Dawson has conducted dozens of clinical trials and founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare to promote groundbreaking new treatments. Its largest program, the Veterans Stress Project, has offered free treatments to over 20,000 veterans with PTSD over the past decade. Dawson shares how to apply these health and performance breakthroughs through EFT Universe, one of the largest alternative medicine sites on the web.
Some of the things that we discussed in our show were how being open can change your life, an open heart equals an open mind, the scientific proof that we can change and continue to change throughout our lives, the power of the mind to create positive change, how meditation affects the brain and the world around us, and how traits and habits can create more resilience in your brain. Enjoy this replay of my conversation with Dawson Church.
My dad is a fiction writer to this day. I read somewhere that one of the hardest things for writers, in particular, and maybe any creative pursuit is to be in the seat. You can think about it, talk about it, and research it but to be in the seat, put your hands on the keys, do your thing, and do the writing is hard work. That’s also the rewarding work. To me, what that means at the moment is to be in the seat and do what’s in my heart and what I believe is in our collective best interest, which is to create and maybe even facilitate conversations about important things that are going on in our world.
Our world is much in flux and flow. It’s as dynamic as I’ve ever experienced in my years of trips around the sun. I feel incredibly blessed, grateful, appreciative, and even lucky in this moment for being alive, being on this planet, and having the family, the friends, and the people that I adore. I feel incredible gratitude at this moment for the guest that I have, who is somebody that I’ve come to appreciate of late. I haven’t known him very long.
We were a part of a wonderful group of people who are leaders in very diverse areas of business, authorship, speaking, and the human potential movement. Many different people come together a few times a year. That’s where I met this gentleman. I think the world of him. I also believe he has a special gift that he has already been sharing for many years with many people.
The fact that we get to create this conversation together and be blessed by his insight and perspective, I’m already feeling this lift from the knowledge that he will share things with us that may very well change our lives. That’s drastic or a big thing to say but he has that level of insight that is powerful. At this time, it’s also something that will help. His name is Dawson Church. He’s a PhD. He’s an award-winning author of bestselling books like The Genie in Your Genes, which was hailed by reviewers as a breakthrough in linking emotions and genetics.
His follow-up title, Mind to Matter, reviews the science of peak mental states. He has conducted dozens of clinical trials and founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare to promote groundbreaking new treatments. He shares how to apply the breakthroughs of energy psychology to health and personal performance through EFT Universe. The EFTUniverse.com website is one of the largest alternative medicine sites on the web. Dawson, it’s such a pleasure to have you with us. Welcome.
It’s great to be here in body, mind, and energy connection with you, Adam. Thank you.
I have fallen in love with you. I’m in love with humanity. I love people. I don’t like everybody. There are not that many people I like but I like you a lot. You are a good man. I mean that sincerely.
I’m a happy person. That, to me, is an amazing thing to say because when I was a kid or when I was 12, 15 or 19 years old, I was incredibly unhappy. I was depressed and anxious. I had PTSD from a whole bunch of miserable things that happened in my childhood. I have ten more years around the sun than you do. To reflect each morning, tune into the universe, breathe, meditate, and realize I’m fundamentally and genuinely happy is a miracle.
It’s a miracle that you know when you’ve known the opposite. I’m so grateful that we can rescue ourselves from our human misery. I rescued myself from mine. When we use these wonderful techniques you talk about, and the people at the Transformation Leadership Council teach, we truly can radically change our lives. It’s inspiring me every day.Resilience has moved from a state of resourcefulness to a trait. Click To Tweet
Change is possible at any age. It’s that whole adage about how the old dog can’t learn new tricks. I love to poke at that because my experience anyway is it’s not the case, even for my parents. I’m blessed that they are still alive. My mom and my dad are in their 80s. They don’t change on a dime. Their pivots aren’t as extreme but they are still changing and evolving. They are still open. Maybe that’s one of the great legacies that they leave to myself, my brother, and everybody that we ourselves might impact. It’s this idea of openness. With openness, an open mind, and an open heart, anything is possible, including changing our old crusty selves.
There are two studies about the old dog and new tricks idea. One of the most revolutionary studies in neuroscience was done in the mid-1990s. It shattered a paradigm. It was a study of people who were in their 80s. We would always believe that the brain was pretty much fixed when you were 17 and 18 years old and had grown to fill out your skull. That’s pretty much the way your brain stays thereafter. In this study, they showed neurogenesis or the growth of new neural pathways. In 80-year-olds, learning new things was producing brain change at those ages.
That’s one study I cover in Mind to Matter. The other study I covered in my book, Mind to Matter, and mentioned briefly is a study of change. There was a study done in the 1970s. It was a longitudinal study that looked at people over the course of about fifteen years of their lives. They looked at people over that long stretch of time. It was a decade and a half. They found that people didn’t change. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. People do not change.
When I was going to school in the 1960s and 1970s, the prevailing paradigm was our personalities formed around the age of 17, 18, and 19. Some neuroscientists were saying that our set points are all fixed by the time we are between 9 and 11 years old. That’s pretty much the way we are. That study came along and confirmed that long-term study showing that there was no change in people’s personality over a decade and a half but then another study was done.
This looked at people who went to Harvard as undergraduates in the 1950s. This was a 50-year study. This is a study with a much longer duration. They found that over time not only did people change but they changed so much on average that if you looked at the personality profile of that person who was at Harvard in the 1950s and looked at them again 50 years later, you couldn’t even tell who was who. They changed. We can change. Our brains, habits, and beliefs can change. We have a remarkable ability to change our bodies, genes, and neurons using consciousness or our minds.
When we talk about the brain and being capable of changing, are we talking about it being able to regenerate in some ways to be resilient? I’ve heard the word plasticity. Maybe it’s flexibility. What are we talking about when we imagine it? I’m a visual guy. Maybe folks reading could use the visual as well. What’s the right way to create a visual image of the brain and its evolution to either a place where it’s stuck or where it can take in new information and create change?
I love the gym. I love working out three times a week. I lift weights. I love engaging my body. I had a little ache from challenging myself. As you do that, you increase muscle mass. Muscle mass goes up. That’s pretty well known but as you use neuropathways in your brain, they grow. The ones you don’t use atrophy and shrink. If you are passing signals through the parts of your brain that have to do with happiness, joy, contentment, peace, altruism, and optimism, and if you are engaging all those neural pathways, they grow in size. The ones you don’t use over time begin to shrink.
There’s the work of this Nobel Prize-winning doctor called Eric Kandel. I talk about him a lot in my book, The Genie in Your Genes. He showed that if you pass a signal through a neural bundle over and over again, you can double the number of connections in that bundle in one hour. It doesn’t take ten years to grow a different brain. You start to influence your brain activity with every thought you think.
In Mind to Matter, I dramatize this thought. I write evidence-based books. They are all about science, facts, and studies but I tell stories in Chapter 1 of Mind to Matter. I’ve told this story now probably over 100 times, and I still get astonished every time I say it because there was this TV reporter who wrote about mindfulness. His name is Graham Phillips. He had a show called Catalyst in Australia.
Graham Phillips wanted to learn about mindfulness. He was a bit of a skeptic about meditation but decided to go on an eight-week program. Before he did, he went into this state-of-the-art university lab at the university called Monash University, where I lectured. He had an extensive workup done on his physiology and his brain. They used a high-resolution MRI to measure each part of his brain.
Nowadays, MRIs are like the screen on your laptop. The resolution has gotten better over the last few decades. Your cell phone was all pixelated, but now, it’s clear. It’s the same thing with MRIs. With MRIs, we can trace the activity of a single neuron. He got his work up from this team of neuroscientists in the lab at Monash. He began to be mindful and practice meditation. After two weeks, he felt different. After eight weeks, he went back into Monash.
They ran all the same tests on him over the course of another day with TV cameras on. They found that his brain had changed. It was heavier and bigger. Parts of his brain had grown by 2%, 3% or 4% in those eight weeks but the part that grew the most was the part that coordinates emotional regulation all over the brain. It’s right in the center of the brain. It’s a little C-shaped piece of tissue called the dentate gyrus. In eight weeks, his dentate gyrus grew by 22.8% or almost a quarter bigger in two months of mindfulness.
That’s how quickly you can teach an old dog new tricks. You start to do new things, think positively, and be altruistic and optimistic. You send signals through neural pathways. Those pathways start to grow. The pathways are anger, stress, resentment, blame, guilt, and shame. Those will start to shrink. After eight weeks, you start to have a substantially different brain. You are not just feeling better, you are better in your neural anatomy. You’ve done it all by yourself with your consciousness.
Like your body, if you exercise your biceps, they will grow and be stronger. If you don’t exercise and use them, they atrophy and shrink. It’s the same thing with our brains. It’s a question of which areas of our brains we are exercising. Having spent some time with you previously, one of the things that struck me and I still think about, and was helpful to me, is this way of looking at the brain and what the brain does.
The brain is a very complicated thing. There are a lot of parts. I don’t expect anybody to be fascinated by researching and discovering things but remembering what all the parts of the brain do is not the goal here. There’s a part of us that is constantly worrying. We get into this groove. Let’s call it a record. In that record groove, we worry. That’s one thing that everybody pretty much can identify with. Anybody who’s not, I want you to email us. Let us know you are not a worrier.
There’s this other part that plans. I’m using my words, not yours. There’s this worrying part and this planning part. A part that you described is the default mode network, which I would love for you to share what that is. This other part is the positive task network. In my attempts to become a better meditator because I did a TED Talk where I admit openly and keep admitting evidently that I was a crummy meditator, I’m declaring I’m no longer a crummy meditator.
Part of the reason I’m no longer a crummy meditator is that I put some focus into it. I also spent some time with you at one of our TLC retreats. You gave me some additional distinctions. I’m hoping before we are done with the show that you might even lead a meditation for folks because, in the times that we are in, which we will talk about shortly, that would be helpful for people to have. There will be a caveat of the old lawyer in me.
You will not be able to operate heavy machinery. You have to get off the elliptical machine or the treadmill and pull the car off to the side of the road. Otherwise, there’s a liability here. Explain those two networks in particular. It feels to me that in both scenarios, we are not necessarily present. Where my meditation has taken me is to try to find this balance or more of the center point between this worrying mind of mine, this planning, doing, and acting mind of mine, and this place that almost feels like the head of a pin. It’s what peace feels like.Move resilience into something you literally own. That’s what you want to be because no one can take it away from you. Click To Tweet
It’s right in the middle of those two things. I talked about it in TLC at the meeting there. I’m writing a new book called Bliss Brain. In Bliss Brain, I talk about those two networks. If you look at an old image of the brain from the 1800s and the 1890s, when we were already getting into neuroscience and discovering what neurons look like and so on, you will see that it’s divided into areas.
We used to think in terms of the language area, the speech area, the vision area or the emotional regulation area but in neuroscience, we are much more thinking about not brain regions but brain networks because networks of different regions work together to accomplish certain things. When we are doing something, writing a poem, talking to our friends, composing an email or withdrawing money from the bank, anything we are doing and any task engage us. It engages what’s called the task-positive network.
When people are doing something, they are usually emotionally neutral or fairly happy because the brain is busy. What we now come to discover over the years in neuroscience is that when we don’t do anything, the task-positive network isn’t being used. All the capacity in the brain is not active. It goes dark. That part of the brain isn’t being used. All those regions aren’t being used, so a different part of the brain lights up called the default mode network.
The default mode network is active to the degree to which other brain regions are inactive. It uses any surplus capacity. Think of a computer and having a number of programs on there. If you aren’t using your browser at all and you are using your spreadsheet program, your spreadsheet program grabs all of your working memory. The default mode network is like that. It grabs all the available resources, glucose, and energy, and uses that.
The default mode network kicks on to the degree to which the task-positive network is turned off. The default mode network does those two things you were talking about. It plans for the future, worries about the future, and thinks back about the bad stuff from the past, “This bad thing happened to me in my childhood. I was betrayed by my colleague at work. Suzie took my research and passed it off as her own.” The default mode network is an endless parade of bad stuff from the past and bad stuff that might happen in the future.
That’s what our brains do by default. This sucks if you are a meditator because your eyes are initially at them. You try and meditate. The task-positive network goes quiet, and the default mode network pipes up and says, “I should be meditating now. Do you know how many emails there are unanswered in your In Tray? Someone might be mad and get it to you. That will be like that situation that happened years ago when you neglected somebody.”
That is what our brain is wired to do. That’s what we had to learn. Using that emotional regulation machinery that Graham Phillips grew and experienced meditators like Tibetan monks who have meditated for 10,000 or 20,000 lifetime hours, they can control the default mode network, shut down that part of the brain, and then have inner peace.
We are living outside of the 9/11 event. In my memory, at this point, that’s the last time that I recall feeling the world as on shaky ground as it feels at the moment. It’s the level of fear, uncertainty, and of people walking around a little dazed and confused. That’s what it feels like. The goal of this conversation for me is that we are able to provide people with new awareness about it, not so much trying to crystal ball what’s happening out there because we can’t control any of what’s happening out there but we do have some measure of control of what’s going on inside of us.
We have complete control of our consciousness. All this stuff is going on out there but you are not oriented out there. At the end of Mind to Matter, I talk about meditating in the morning, orienting to what, and connecting with a non-local mind where we are local minds. The old vision of our brains was that our brains were the source of consciousness. We now recognize that you can’t find consciousness in the brain.
The brain is a transceiver of consciousness from the universe, outside of ourselves, and vast information fields. It is a transceiver of this and a creator of our local reality. If you are attuned and attending to the local reality, if you are watching the news, worrying about this and that, checking the stock prices, seeing the stock market plummet, and worrying about the Coronavirus stories and all the other things to worry about in the world, there’s always bad stuff happening.
If you are at the level of local mind and if you are allowing that to flood your consciousness, then you get fear but if every morning you are closing your eyes, meditating, going deep, releasing your clutch or close-fisted and white-knuckled grip on reality, and merging, that’s what all the mystics talk about. It’s merging with the non-local mind. They said, “You do this infinite love, wisdom, and creativity out there,” and there is.
You download that all into your consciousness, not the news or the latest stock prices. You download all that into your brain and your mind. Suddenly you are inspired, enthusiastic, optimistic, and altruistic. You feel fantastic. It doesn’t mean you ignore what’s going on in the world around you but you internally are then chosen to attune yourself to that signal and not the chaos out there in the world.
I want to talk about one other thing too that’s relative to the brain, which is gray matter. I’m hearing that enlarging and growing our gray matter is an important thing for us. I want to tie it to this idea of resilience or how we can walk out the door when we are in our homes as we may spend a little more time inside or with that home base than we planned.
How is it that we are creating resilience for ourselves despite the fact that there might be things that would otherwise distract, deplete or drag us, quick kicking and screaming that we go willingly into that place of fear? It feels like people are able to go fairly easily, especially when others around them are panicking. When you see professionals talking about things on TV, they are also expressing great uncertainty about the future. Resilience is the thing I want us to focus on if we can.
My big experience of that comes from a project I started in 2007 called the Veterans Stress Project. We are trying to get energy therapies into the VA and getting nowhere with our approaches to the VA. I went to Washington and testified before a couple of different House of Congress committees. I had a lot of correspondence with people in the Veterans Affairs Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and other places. We were trying pretty hard to get these therapies into the VA. We couldn’t do it.
We started our private group called Veterans Stress Project, where we treat thousands of veterans a year. On average, it takes us 6 one-hour sessions for them to move from clinical PTSD in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance, and all these symptoms to be calm. We have done seven randomized controlled trials showing that people have a 65% drop on average in those symptoms after 6 one-hour sessions.
I’ve written two books on PTSD. These are people who get PTSD, who aren’t resilient and able to deal with whatever it is life throws at them. There were the people like these monks and meditators who were so resilient that even when they had horrible circumstances on the outside there, some of them got tortured or murdered, and their monasteries got destroyed, they were completely resilient.
There are two components of it, which I want to emphasize in terms of neuroscience. One of those is the state in which you feel resourceful, “When a bad thing happens to me, am I in a mental state that feels resourceful? Do I feel as though I have the resources, the inner strength, and the anchoring to deal with that thing?” What happens in these monks’ brains after 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 or 45,000 lifetime hours of meditation is resilience has moved from a state of resourcefulness to a trait.In meditation, people had structural changes in their brains where the default mode network was shut down. Click To Tweet
A trait is a personality quality. I’m not going into a state of temporary feeling that I have that resourcefulness or resilience. I have a trait. A trait is a personality characteristic. If someone is patient, for example, they embody it because they have enough neural wiring built. That’s what we are studying in neuroscience, which is fascinating. It’s people who turn temporary states of feeling better into permanent traits like resilience. These people are resilient. You can throw all kinds of things at them.
They are resilient because they have built enough neural wiring in those emotion regulation circuits and also the happiness surface of the brain to where it’s not dependent on the outside circumstances, not only the outside world. Anything can happen outside there but they have resilient brains. You move resilience into something you own. That’s the neurological personality characteristic of resilience. That’s what you want to be because no one can take it away from you.
We are agnostic to the circumstances but you define yourself as resilient. I’m wearing a black shirt that says, “I am resilient.” We are constantly defining ourselves and creating our identity by the words we habitually use anyway. I say that when I’m wearing the shirt or not. I look back at my life and think, “I have been resilient.” We all might have a different definition. I would love for you to share your definition of resilience as well.
As you practice these things, we talk about them as though the psychological characteristics as supposed they are. It’s being patient, optimistic, resilient, and compassionate. What they become over time is the wiring of your brain and those traits that you have. That is a powerful shift. We finished doing a study at Bond University. We had 25 people in this study with a randomized controlled trial.
We are using MRIs and a big multimillion-dollar piece of equipment to study their brains before and after. Normally, it takes 10,000 to 20,000 hours to become resilient and have the brain functioning that is able to shut down the default mode network and create inner peace. What we have found was this in this study, in eight weeks, not 10,000 hours or 40,000 hours, of deep meditation or a very particular meditation that brings you deep quickly and keeps you deep while you are in it.
In that meditation, we looked at the brains of those people after eight weeks. They had structural changes in their brains where the default mode network was shut down like turning up a light switch and turning down a dimmer switch. Its activity was much reduced. That’s the part of the brain right in the middle of the frontal lobe. It’s part of the prefrontal cortex. That’s called the mid-prefrontal cortex. That part of their brain was quiet after only 8 weeks as the 10,000-hour meditator, except they have only done it for 25 minutes times 8, so a few hours.
Another part of their brain was highly lit up, which was a part of the brain called the insula. The insula has to do, among other things, with feelings of compassion for yourself, not being so hard on yourself, and being compassionate for the world, the universe, and everything else outside of yourself as well. Their insulas were brightly lit up. There’s high activity in the insula and low activity in the default mode network after only eight weeks.
That’s somebody who is neurologically resilient because their brain function has changed. They have shifted. You can see this because the way they handle problems is very different. When they have an upset or a crisis in their life, they don’t go ballistic and react strongly. I was teaching at an institution called 1440 Multiversity. I was teaching at a campus here in the Bay Area.
One evening after class, I wanted to go for a walk. I drove to a little park locally. I was behind a big SUV. It was making a right turn. Another SUV came around him and hit my car. There I was heading for the park. The sun was shining into the driver’s eyes. He couldn’t see anything. He drove right into me. It took a long time for the emergency services to arrive.
The other driver and I were chatting. He said, “I can’t believe this. You are completely calm. I’ve seen so many crazy people who explode and have all this anger, upset, and stuff. We have been talking now for an hour. I don’t get it. How can you be so calm?” You have a fender bender, a financial setback or a crisis in your work. You had this gift of resilience. You are smarter as well. When you are stressed, up to 70% of the blood drains out the thinking part of your brain. You can’t think clearly at all but when you are resilient, you can think and act.
In some of the studies I’m talking about in Bliss Brain, the researchers found that people who are in these elevated states of flow you get into when you are meditating have five times the productivity at work as when they aren’t in flow. Their productivity increases fivefold. There’s a lot of advanced research showing the same thing. You are far more able to handle the stresses of life. That’s the hallmark of a resilient person.
We had dinner at our home. Our older kids came over. We were discussing things going on in the world. My son is very well read. He’s my son-in-law. I didn’t bring him up but he’s a son to us. We love him. He’s analytical. He’s different than our kids and our oldest daughter, who he married. I adore him. He’s a worrier. He thinks a lot. He thinks deeply about things.
Part of the reason why we had this gathering and got everybody together was simply to create some normalcy or what my wife and I refer to as base camp to bring everybody back to a place where there’s normalcy. It was funny. I wasn’t wanting to be judgmental or critical in any way of how he’s responding to all of this. Other people are talking about these catastrophe plans or apocalyptic plans, “What do we do if this or that happens?”
I was a lawyer for eighteen years, so it’s not like, “I can’t what-if.” I can what-if think what’s the best and then come up with worst-case scenarios, too. Randi and I have been through a lot of things certainly in my career and whatnot. What I know from the many years we are married is that whenever things get chaotic in any number of contexts, I get quiet. I am a talker. You can probably tell.
I get quiet on the inside. My heart rate goes down. My blood pressure goes down. My breathing slows almost to the point where I could take a nap while this crap is hitting the fan around me. I find myself yawning at times in the middle of some great thing happening. I realized that what that has done for me is it allows me to be alert but not alert in the cortisol-producing fight or flight alertness but just that I’m awake and aware of what’s going on.
There’s no other activity that’s vying for the resources in my brain. I can be quiet, present, and on alert for where I might need to respond to something. I saw him take a deep breath on that. He’s so intelligent that for him, when something drops in, you can tell because he’s got his mind made up in some ways. He’s young, ardent, and all that. I could see him take a deep breath and take that in. When the masses or the herd can be going in one direction, he can feel that energy.
Independent thinking can get tuned down to almost nothing because you are swimming with the school or running with the herd. At those times, it’s so important for us to be independent in our thinking. When Randi and I started having kids, we were shocked frankly that they even let us take the kids home from the hospital with Chelsea in particular. I remember we walked outside with her and went, “Can you believe they are letting us take this baby home? They don’t know us. We don’t know a thing. We haven’t got a clue how to be parents.”
At that time, we said the one thing that we wanted our kids to grow up to be would be independent thinkers to have that independent mind. To maintain your independent center, that center is knowing, wise, and understanding when there’s truly a threat and when there’s a lot of noise. There are a lot of other people feeling under threat but there’s not any threat to you and maybe not even to the globe.The higher your level of immunoglobulins, the more resilient you are physiologically. Click To Tweet
On some level, your inner knowing or that peace inside will tell you that everything is all right even as the wind is blowing the way it can. In any event, that’s one of those important things. I felt so blessed that you would be on the show because if there’s a takeaway that I would like to at least explore with you on behalf of myself and everybody else, it’s that, in times like this, where the predictions are, things will get weirder and scarier on some level.
Things are likely to get weirder over the coming months. People are being able to maintain their independent thinking, especially their knowing. Not just their thinking but the knowing and the experiencing of truth inside of themselves that they everything is okay. They can still maintain their compassion, kindness, and peace despite anything else. It’s giving people a tool to be able to get to that place while it’s more prevalent that we react.
Somebody leans on their horn when you haven’t hit the gas at the green light. Instead of your reaction to them leaning on the horn being to stick your middle finger up at them or find yourself tense, they can go into the mode that you described where somebody hits you or an accident happened but you immediately assess, “Nobody died here. I’m okay. He’s okay. That’s what insurance is for. It’s a beautiful day. I get to meet a new person now,” and whatever else was going on for you. I want to put it right back into your lap and ask you to take the heavyweight. Help us to find a tool and maybe even lead us through something perhaps that would help people to maintain and create peace.
I have researched these tools and used them myself. I teach them to many people. They have a huge effect on our bodies. You can look at these all up on PubMed or go to EFT Universe and find them. One of the studies I did that was published in a journal called the Journal of Evidence-based Integrative Medicine took people to a retreat. They were there for a week. We measured their happiness, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and various psychological characteristics.
We also measured their physiological characteristics like resting heart rate, heart rate variability, cortisol, and immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are your main line of defense against viruses. Immunoglobulins are found in your eyes, nose, sinus passages, mouth or anywhere your body has an opening to the outside world, and a virus or a bacterium can attack you. You have immunoglobulins to neutralize those organisms. The higher your level of immunoglobulins, the more resilient you are physiologically.
We have found that over the course of that, people’s anxiety and depression dropped dramatically by over 30%. There are big drops in anxiety and depression. Happiness rose by over 30%. Their cortisol or the main stress hormone dropped by an average of 37% in one week, which is a massive drop. When your body isn’t using your internal biochemical resources to make stress hormones, stress enzymes, and all the other biochemistry of stress, or stress molecules, it frees up all that biological material to make stuff that helps you and your immune system.
Their cortisol went down by 37%. Their immunoglobulins shot up by 113% in one week of EFT tapping and Eco Meditation. That’s what these kinds of practices can do for you practically. They are making you far more resilient at a physiological level as well. Your body is much better equipped to stable those insults in the outside world. If you are stressed, angry or upset, your cortisol goes up.
It was fine for our ancestors to have this hair-trigger stress response. We needed to escape from the woolly mammoth charging down on us or the Neanderthal running at us with a spear. It was perfectly useful at that phase of evolution 18,000, 25,000, or 500,000 years ago. It was great to have a nervous system geared to respond to threats in the outside world. The Neanderthals are extinct, and so are the woolly mammoths. There are no more saber-toothed tigers.
My daughter lives in Austin but she’s staying with us. She announced one day that she had a pimple. She’s 6’2”. She’s gorgeous. She has a fantastic job and a husband. She has everything going for her, you can imagine, except that she is obsessed with this pimple. I looked at her closely and couldn’t even see the pimple. The pimple was all she could see when she looked at her face in the mirror. That’s what the brain does because that’s what kept us safe from the Neanderthals.
That’s profoundly unhelpful to us nowadays. We have to learn to rewire our brains. These practices are focused on sending those signals to those neural bundles and rewiring our brains quickly in 8, 10 or 12 weeks, not 10,000 hours. We have used these advanced scientific tools like EEGs and MRIs. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the 10,000, 30,000 or 40,000 meditators we have studied. We have now been able to hack into what they do and what their brains look like, reverse engineer it, and train people to attain those same brain states.
We had a seven-day retreat. On the first day, people were where they were. By the end of seven days, they were achieving these high emotional and spiritual states within 4 minutes, and some people within 50 seconds of being hooked up to the EEG. They were in this flow state. We can use these practices very deliberately and train these changes in our lives, awareness, and brains. They have these big effects on our bodies. We can feel peace and build that resilience quickly. I would love to do a brief meditation with everybody.
You did one for the CDC, didn’t you?
I did. I opened my eyes up to hearing the first bad news about the Coronavirus. I had this wonderful download from the non-local mind. It said, “Record this meditation.” I sat down and recorded it at that moment. I’m wanting to let people have some relief from the fear because there are viruses out there all the time trying to attack us. It’s the people with low resilience and weakened immune systems that are most under threat. You can raise your immune system by lowering your cortisol. How do we quickly do that? We can do it in 4 or 5 minutes. It doesn’t take long. You reap those benefits.
Let’s do it. One of those incredible things is you can look at how it is that we can reallocate our resources. When we are stressed out, those resources are being used to maintain that stress response versus if you are able to deal with things or alleviate the stress, then you have those resources available to build up things that will keep you healthy and resilient. Caveat, if you are on a machine of any kind, I would recommend that you take a moment, get off that machine, and sit down. You can pull your car off to the side of the road, find a wonderful place to park and give yourself this gift or this moment because this will be special. Thank you, Dawson.
Begin by feeling the breath and flowing in and out naturally through your heart or your natural rhythm of breathing. You breathe 28,000 times a day. Feel that breath flowing in and out of your heart. Tap very lightly on this acupuncture meridian on the side of your hand, which is a potent point for releasing stress. As you tap there, imagine all the stress flowing out of your body like a fluid. Stress is leaving your body as you tap on this acupressure point.
Tap on a couple of more acupressure points as well. Tap on the side of your eye, feeling the breath flowing in and flowing out. Tap under the pupil of your eye, feeling your breath. Tap on your nose or your governing meridian. Tap under your lower lip or your central meridian. Tap on your kidney meridian, which is to the side of your breastbone, and imagine all the stress leaving your body. The last tapping point is to tap again on the side of your hand. Feel the breath flowing naturally in and out.
Stop tapping. Relax your hands. If your eyes are still open, close them. Imagine your breath flowing in and out through your heart. Slow your breathing down to 6 seconds per in-breath and 6 seconds per out-breath. Relax your tongue on the floor of your mouth and picture a big empty space between your eyes, breathing in through your heart for 6 seconds and breathing out through your heart for 6 seconds.
Your tongue is relaxed on the floor of your mouth, and there’s a big empty space between your eyes. You are breathing in and out through your heart and feeling the energy in your heart area. Send a beam of that heart energy to a person or a place that makes you feel wonderful. Envision that person or place enfolded in your heart’s energy beam. You are breathing 6 seconds in and 6 seconds out.There are seven neurochemicals that your brain creates in meditation. Click To Tweet
Your heart energy beam is going from your heart to this person or place that makes you feel wonderful. Expand your heart energy beam 360 degrees all around you to connect with every single atom in the universe. Feel the compassion energy from your heart touching every single atom in the universe. Your tongue is relaxed on the floor of your mouth. There’s a big empty space between your eyes. You are breathing in through your heart for 6 seconds and breathing out through your heart for 6 seconds. You are feeling your heart energy radiating out to touch every single atom in the universe with compassion.
Focus that heart energy beam again tightly on only that one person or place that makes you feel wonderful. Detach your heart energy from every other place and focus it all on that one person or place. As you wrap them in the energy of your heart, very gently disengage your heart energy and bring it back inside your body and heart. Send the beam of heart energy to any part of your body that’s in pain, that’s low energy, or that’s sick or struggling. Wrap that part of your body in your heart energy.
Your tongue is relaxed on the floor of your mouth. There’s a big empty space between your eyes. You are breathing in through your heart for 6 seconds and breathing out through your heart for 6 seconds. With the next three breaths, prepare to bring your attention back into the here and now or back into your environment. Feel the weight of your body on the surface on which you are sitting. Feel this volume of space inside your hands and feet. With the next breath, open your eyes and look around you.
With a gentle gaze, notice the biggest green item in your environment or the smallest round object in your work environment and give thanks for the privilege of being in a body and a mind and living a life full of love, compassion, wisdom, and resilience. As you feel your breath, give thanks for the privilege of being alive. Thank you. It’s powerful to use this wonderful facility of consciousness that we have to tune into those levels of consciousness and then make that the source from which we draw our reality.
This is one of the most remarkable tools. It is a tool. Speaking of resilience from the standpoint of science, there’s a way for us to create resilience. That resilience only helps us to do better in every area of our life, not just to survive the things that are disruptive but also to thrive in so many other ways. As we wrap up, I would love to know if there’s a ritual that you want to share about how you create resilience. You go to the gym. That’s one of your things. Is there something else you want to share about resilience in your personal practice?
In my book, Mind to Matter, I give you 30 evidence-based practices you can use that trigger gene expression for your positive gene expression and also build resilience. There are 30 different things there because there’s no one-size-fits-all. I believe that meditation is something that everybody should at least do for a few minutes every day, preferably for half an hour or 45 minutes every day. I also think that the tapping routine is powerful for releasing stress.
Those are the two fundamental ones but there are plenty of others like Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, and time in nature. What I do personally and what nurtures me is this. One is time in nature. The other is when I tune into that non-local mind, I find that I am as liable to get confused, discouraged, and baffled when I’m at this level of local mind. Sometimes I can’t figure things out there.
When I tune into the non-local mind, there’s wisdom. There are answers and huge information fields in the cosmos that we can download into our personal lives. For me, time in nature, exercise, and meditation every day are so valuable. In Bliss Brain, I go deep into the seven neurochemicals that your brain creates in meditation. They are the things like serotonin and dopamine.
The most pleasurable one is called anandamide because it is the same molecule that is active when people smoke marijuana. Anandamide docks with the same receptor sites in our brains that THC docks. It’s the main ingredient in marijuana. Serotonin docks with the same receptor sites as psilocybin or magic mushrooms docks with. A bunch of chemicals dock with the same sites that Ayahuasca docks with.
There are all these ways we have in meditation of uprooting intense pleasure in our lives. You become addicted to doing it. You feel so incredibly good. You start to change as a person. Your life starts to change. It’s meditation and tapping. Try other things like Qigong, Tai Chi, and yoga. Do time in nature. If you live in the middle of Manhattan, take a walk in the park and spend a little time in the park. Do something to hook up with those great cycles. When you are confused, upset, and disturbed or when your energy gets disrupted by whatever it might be, breathe and tune into the non-local reality.
In the non-local mind, there’s so much love. When I opened my eyes after meditation in the morning, I am so overwhelmed with love that I cry tears of gratitude. I’m overwhelmed with all around there for me, humankind, and all of the cosmos. When you enter that state every day, that’s where you begin the day. Life can throw a lot at you. You are tuned into the cosmos. That’s where you are getting your signal from. Those changes everything.
This is a way to become more hardy. There are so many ways and things to try on. Not everything is going to fit you. Randi and I love yoga. Yoga is one of our favorite things. We have been doing your meditations and some of the Qigong work that we did with Chunyi. We have had him on the show as well. There are so many things but the thing that is nonnegotiable is that you find time and create time in your day.
We all do that on a regular basis to be able to bring ourselves to a place where we feel great. My grandmother used to say, “Leave the house on the right foot.” I still think about those words that she shared. What does it mean to leave the house on the right foot? To me, it’s how you begin the day, those first practices in the morning, those first thoughts of the morning, the first things that come out of your mouth in the morning, and what you do when you wake up.
Many people pick up their phones when they wake up. They look at the news, social media, the texts they received at 4:00 AM or the emails that need responding to. That’s their first step out of the bed. Maybe there’s another way to do it. Humbly say, “There are other ways.” I’ve turned my phone to grayscale. My phone is not by the bed. Randi does have hers there because we use Insight Timer for meditation at night before bed. She wants to make sure if the kids call in the middle of the night or if there is some emergency that we are in contact with.
There’s that for sure but there are so many things available to us in these times and all times where we can reallocate the resources of our brains to things that only build strength in us and resilience and create that heartier version of us that will not endure for endurance’s sake but endure for the work that we are here to do in the world and the lives of the people that we get to be a good influence on. You are a good influence on many lives. I appreciate you.
One of the things I love is the whole idea of emotional contagion. This idea was picked up by epidemiologists or people who study epidemics and infections and how they spread through populations. They looked at happiness and applied this epidemiological model to emotion. They found that if I’m happy, my neighbor is 34% more likely to be happy. His neighbor is 15% more likely to be happy. We are walking agents of emotional infection, love, compassion, and optimism.
It’s like the Bhutanese.
It’s an agent of optimism, joy, altruism, compassion, and all those things. You will find you have a good life.You have to learn to rewire your brain so you start to change and your life gets better. Click To Tweet
The first words that come out of my mouth every day are these four simple words. I did a whole TED Talk on these four simple words but they have been powerful for me for a long time and for a lot of other people too. Those four words are, “I love my life.” Dawson, do you love your life?
I love my life, my future life, and my past life. You get to the point where you are grateful for everything that has happened to you in the past. You are grateful for whatever will happen to you in the future, no matter what it is. You are at that point of perfect peace. It’s powerful to live your life that way.
Is the book Bliss Brain available for preorder?
It’s available for preorder now. It will be out. That follows on from Mind to Matter, which is all about manifestation and these advanced brain states you put yourself into.
I love the way you integrate both left and right hemispheres but the science and what is tangible and practical is part of the beingness of us, which I don’t know if we can put in a Petri dish and examine. It’s this beautiful blend of both those things with you that I love so much. Let us know your comments and perhaps questions for Dawson and me.
You can go to AdamMarkel.com/podcasts to leave a comment. Put your questions into an email to Team@AdamMarkel.com as well. We look forward to hearing from you all. I wish you the most peaceful day. Use this meditation. This is a gift. Dawson gave us something special here that you can come back to it again and create your practice. Dawson, thank you so much. Ciao for now.
- The Genie in Your Genes
- Mind to Matter
- Bliss Brain
- National Institute for Integrative Healthcare
- Veterans Stress Project
- EFT Universe
- Transformation Leadership Council
- Eco Meditation
- Chunyi Lin – Previous episode
- Insight Timer
- TED Talk – YouTube
About Dawson Church
Dawson Church, PhD, is an award-winning science writer with three best-selling books to his credit. The Genie in Your Genes (YourGeniusGene.com) was the first book to demonstrate that emotions drive gene expression. Mind to Matter, (MindToMatter.com) showed that the brain creates much of what we think of as “objective reality.” Bliss Brain (BlissBrain.com) demonstrates that peak mental states rapidly remodel the brain for happiness. Dawson has conducted dozens of clinical trials, and founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare (NIIH.org) to promote groundbreaking new treatments. Its largest program, the Veterans Stress Project, has offered free treatment to over 20,000 veterans with PTSD over the past decade. Dawson shares how to apply these health and performance breakthroughs through EFT Universe (EFTUniverse.com), one of the largest alternative medicine sites on the web.