Psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer was researching better treatment options for alcohol and cocaine addiction patients and found, through clinical studies, that meditation could significantly help break these behaviors or "habit loops" and prevent relapses. Brewer, who is now the director of research at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine's Center for Mindfulness, founded a company called Claritas MindSciences, which uses neurofeedback techniques combined with mindfulness exercises for several conditions, from eating disorders to smoking addiction.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Before we start. If this is your first time listening to the ten percent happier podcast a welcome and be, if you like, the showed do me a favor, take a second and subscribe rate, the podcast, and if you really want to hug me up Tellson friends about how they too can find us now, here's the show, from ABC this ten percent, have your happier Podcast Dan Harris Doktor Jed brewer has had a huge impact on my meditation practice in the way, I think about meditation for many years he's an elite neuroscientist who looks into what the practice of meditation does to your brain he's, also a psychiatrist with an expertise in addiction. Interesting Lee he's never had classical addiction. So that's been a sort of interesting things to discuss with him and give him that probably get more experience in that area than he does, but he deftly knows how to treat it and
he has a new book, which is called the. craving mind. Just really good at how the recommended talks about how we get into these addictive loops, we even if its unlike so in my case it was. It was drugs. But I'm power when I realized reading a book is that I've gotta these addictive loops around things like food, technology and for a lot of people. love and romance and he really breaks down how we get entities addictive loops and how many, It should in my fullest can help so enjoy this conversation, because this is a really interesting. Do I always start with the same question, which is how you came to meditation your stories actually kind of interesting you laid on us assured. I was suffering. I heads been engaged to my college sweetie
We, we were starting empty pasty, programmes together, sailors in Saint Louis, and we broke up right after you knew signing leases fur apartment that were at the hall from each other pretty funny, and I can say that now it wasn't it the time you're really young, to engage radical yeah, they kind of Brainwash. I sit at Princeton too. You know Mary each other, so they'll get word donations with eyes tat. Well, in this case, the brainwashing didn't work, so you're freaking out your starting, this incredibly stressful, empty Phd Programme and your ex fiance was living a few doors down from you. Yes and I was having trouble sleeping for the first time, probably in my life and sir how this John Kabat in book landed in my lap. You know catastrophe living. I read a bit it and started listening to the Cosette tapes. Lui just jump junk Evans. For those who don't know him he's gotta grandpa.
of modern, Mindful Mun, modern, secular mindfulness. He doesn't like the word secular, but he's not here. So I take to punch me but basically he invented this thing called mindfulness based stress reduction, which is what has been studying the labs and really give it a lot of credence to mindfulness, and you kind- and I work for him because you work at the center for my phone has two messages, where he's too, at the President, a Meredith written that he's a Meredith. Yes, anyway. Ok, so you found his book I found his book and it was a nude. You know is a new phase of my life, restarting medical school and at the time I just decided This might be a good time to try. Something else knew, and so I started meditating my first day of medical school and how to go at first. I felt a pretty regularly Hudson s minds. We feel better just meditating, slash sleeping before you came, but not only did. You fell asleep. You also work had a bang in your head up against the wall in some ways. Yes, I do
and it wasn't just the first six months. I think for several years, if not more than several years I was using what I knew to try to make and what I knew is kind of this brute force method of let's take my whale its force. My way, let's put my way through whatever the problem is you're. Having a little background on you. They also talk about the book think is really interesting than I do no, until several years into knowing you but very, very compelling that you have grown up. and not a wealthy household method? You used the word poor in the book in in the end single mother her father had left the family and I had she had she remarkable person who would put herself through law school. If I recall, while you Edward Food stamps and you have any had. She instilled in you a very short of hard charging attitude
ass. My mom is amazing. She raised for kids by herself. In a one point we were on food stamps. I think when she law school. At that point, we were nine I'm in here she is providing for all of us even putting us through. We all wanted Jesuit high schools, because she felt that education was really important and end in Indianapolis. The Jesuit high school was was very good. So, yes, I learned the go for it attitude from my mom, yeah, I mean from that background, to Princeton to an empty Phd programme are one of the most prestigious institutions. I can understand how you will you would approach meditation wanting to win it so ridiculous that Europe is now, but yes, that's what it was. So I would sweat through tee shirts. In the middle of meditation retreats like just go in for trying to force my concentration yeah, did it didn't it looking back at that, it didn't work out so well.
except that I learned that that was the wrong way to do it. But you really stuck that why I like challenges. Are you that's one way to put a pot of positive spin on it and I just just keep when I get fixated on something I just keep going for it and it affected the course of your really affected the course of or medical career. It did. I had started meditating. Does away to be less angry to relax. While I was going for medical school and going to graduate school ends, with studying our studying the molecular basis of stress and how stress effect, the immune system so making you genetically modified maize, in studying immune system, development and function and just meditating united? I started meditating, you know is doing a daily and join d,
community that I would sit with once a week and then started going on weekend and then weeklong retreat suit suit graduate school it kind of built in built and build. But I was really seeing this is separate from medical school and separate from graduate school will. When I went back into my third year of medical school, they kind of split it up you to a couple of years, and then you do you're good Do it program long enough, so you can forget everything, medical school, and then you go. Back on the wards I had you know, I was thinking well I'll, just see what how this might help a little bit, and I was shocked by how helpful it was to pay attention, as I was in reviewing patients, as I was working with tee members and all of this so at by the time I graduated from my empty pasty programme. I had decided to go into psychiatry, which is the last profession. I thought I would do you know
portrayed, particularly well in the media and also had found that I wanted to stop doing animal work. I wanted to really work with people, because that's ultimately, where the rubber meets the road and impact you started looking at addictions right I did in I was drawn to while the underdogs I could relate being an underdog growing up ends. There was something about people with addictions. Not only did they get the beat down from society and from themselves, in particular the often very, very hard in themselves, but also they were speaking the same language as the language that I had learned it with the british psychology. As I was learning the theoretical background behind the practices
I was doing what do you mean by that, their speaking the same language craving clinging literally, they were talking about getting caught up in their cravings, and I said I know that language, so hot tat, freedom for people who are familiar with the Buddha psychology. How talk about that intersection of the most famous, I think the most famous tenants of Buddhism are the formidable truths, and so this first truth is that there is like an. satisfactory innocent in the second noble truth says that the unsatisfactory as comes from craving and then the third truth says: hey. If you pay attention and let go of the craving, that's gonna help a whole lot. So you know of these four noble truth. Basically, all four of them centre around craving as a central tenet that was fascinate, to me and then an end at what point did you they decide to focus
or research, because you not only a clinician you're doing this really cutting edge research on the impact of meditation on the brain? The first studies we did were to see if there was an impact on unpaid with addictions, because I wanted to find a behavioral signal before I spent time trying to understand nor biologically what was happening. so I learned how to become a clinical researcher. I did that even during my residency training at Yale. They had that fortunately had a programme where I could do some research during residency training, so basically trained up to become a clinical research or as compared to a mouse researcher, and did my first clinical study during my third year residency where we ve looked at my fulness training compared to gold standard treatment, which is cognitive, behavioral therapy for out.
cocaine dependence on how to do it when it's the from the study went pretty well, we, it was ass, good, ass gold standard. Now this is a pilot study, so it has to be taken with the grain of salt, but as far as relapse to drug use, it was as gold standard and when we looked at physiological and psychological measures of stress when we stressed people out because that's a big thing that causes people a relapse, we found that they did better. They were less stressed out in their physiology, showed that as well you, let's break down, we get your treating people or Dickie cocaine and alcohol, and there were court. Unquote gold stand treatments out there that the best treatments available that that word commonly used with folks in these categories- and you came and said well, let's use mindfulness based approach either instead or on top of, and then you tested, which
when did better? Yes, we we randomized people to get gold standard or mindfulness train would in well. How do you use mindfulness to deal with could mean as a man who has got some mystery cocaine? What how do you live on us to deal with cocaine addiction? Well, can tell you now we do it, which is slightly different than how we first. These studies, but basically the the habitual reaction, is when there's a craving well cravings, typically, don't feel pleasant because that they say do something in your yeah lacking something jumping out of your skin right, so we want to run away from those we either in a camp them down into We can't do that anymore or we we indulge in them, so we give them what they want paired
exactly hear mine from this is about turning toward those craving, so we'd trained people too, instead of reinforce those old habits through succumbing, are trying to resist them to just turned toward them and get curious about the actually feel like in their bodies. So like surfing the earth. as it sometimes described? Yes, either? The urge get me again. I have a lot of urges so urge become over you, and instead of you're acting on it or trying to retain its not there. He just look at it like look at. How does it feel in the body will kind thoughts my having, and what you will see is that it may be painful, but it ends. it may be painful, but it ends and if we inject an attitude of
curiosity into that two cravings or unpleasant, but is what his curiosity feel like at Finley pleasant. So we can flip the violence of that from unpleasant to pleasant in the moment, if there's a strong level of curiosity there and that's also an important aspect of mindfulness, the second factor of awakening is: is investigation or curiosity? Yes, there are just two just it puts a context Roy. You said that factors of awakening of these seven factors of awakening that the Buddha talks about the Buddha was pretty oecd at a level lists one of them, was the seven factors of of awakening, meaning, basically just he's talking about meant the one we could talk about it more unjust, serve. Waking up to your actual life would be a medium or down earth way to put it in the sector. The second factor, the first one, is mindfulness right and the second one is investigation, wouldn't be just sort of, and it's a huge part of my voice, which is just taking an interest in what your act. experiences right now. So so I guess at will,
I'm putting myself in your shoes from back the day when yours confronted with a budget, patients are addicted to cocaine, and you said I am going. teach you how to meditate day say: did they drop a lotta expletive Zanu, or do they think you're crazy, the? So we? Yes, we try the approach it in a way that where they wouldn't like, we look for the door and run out immediately. We started actually with again one of the tenants of of Buddhism, which is formally D. It is dependent origination, but in modern days, described very aptly as positive and negative reinforcement, and we said you know what we're gonna first see if you can relate to two what we're- teaching or if we can relate to what your experience you talked about the Buddha now. Ok, you talked about,
positive and negative, reinforce what we basically said. Ok, do you guys have triggers ye as they ought not their heads? Ok, do you have cravings? Yes, the old mother had do you do something about those cravings? Yes, the another's their heads, and we say: ok, let's just start by paying attention to that loop and notice. What happens each time you indulging that craving. You reinforce a memory that says: oh, do this again, you know in, and this again goes back to the the early times is this. This is saying you know what the mind frequently thinks in ponders. Upon thus becomes the inclination of the mind is the Buddhist expert yeah, and that's basically saying yes, if you do opera conditioning you're going to ruin, Bores habits. So outrageous amplify your points just based on my reading of your excellent book, the craving the craving mine. What you noticed, which is really interesting, is in model.
technology based on the work of Bf Skinner. I believe there is this idea of operate, operant conditioning, which is a reward based learning, which is that there is a trigger, so it might be. I see it commercial for a cigarette and then there's the behaviour which is I smoke the cigarette and then there's the roared, which is the dopamine rush from smoking. The aforementioned cigarette, shall we, we all operate on? This kind of all all the time whether were aware of it or not to eat what you noticed was that this actually tracks almost Euro four Square, with the way the Buddha disk, The way we operate, he called it dependent origination, which is that there's this series. who is with his his discretion, was much more baroque. With my many more steps in some metaphysical stuff that we may or may not by involving rebirth. But basically describe this cause and effect chain that leads to us. Why
nothing doing getting a reward and undoing again makes me. I have explained that quickly, yes and I'll just add that the loop they called it some sorrow, which literally translated means endless wandering because we keep feeding it but were actually fixing the core root of the problem. Yet we Think of it like a hamster wheel? Yes, absolutely an end, so what you notice was that they put the Buddhist, lingo and and and philosophy in psychology you'd been studying as Conniston ideal for a while, you know me job with this with modern psychology, and you said I was given to try, let's see if we can
who is this on these addictive behaviors and and tell us what happened. Next was one of those moments when that realisation came together that it was like all dead hair stood up on my arms it. It was just amazing. This cannot be a coincidence. This cannot be a coincidence. These guys figured it out. You know they didn't have rats, they didn't have graduate students to torture. They didn't have computers like just by investigating their own experiences. They figured all of this out twenty five hundred years ago. You know Eric Candle, got the note, prize for this in two thousand wine and these guys in a scooped Eric debate. They figure this out. A way before Eric Andella Bf Skinner, even you know any of these early researchers now. I personally am- and I make no bones about this totally fascinated by what the Buddhists did and continue to do, but in your
Neil Year, and by this time you had graduated from your empty PDA Phd Programme, where you study it EL when you started talking about the Buddha, how did that go down the words that were often either said to me or behind, or career killer. Well little did, I know well not turned out to be a career kill yet, and to be honest nor did I know either I had a mentor names Bruce rounds of ill, who was really open minded, and he said I don't care what you do as long as it's good science and I was very drawn do. You know as a psychiatrist in it, and I really wanted to see how we can help our patients in the current treatments just were not at the standard. That I think any of us want to see them out so are really interested in in looking for things that were and I had found in my own life- that this has been very helpful for me with working with my cravings. So
No, I have no idea what I was getting into, but I just knew that even if it was gonna kill my career, I, rather do that and fail, then do something mainstream that I wasn't excite did did did Ok did Indianapolis play a role here. This is this. This determination bequeathed to you by your mom who was able to achieve so much with with so little were you you know that stick with you at a moment like that, where you're like I'm, I'm onto something here, care. If people disapprove, you known have doubts about a right now proven wrong. I think there is something to that. You know my college. My high school college countered tongue never get into Princeton, so that flood and so here they're doing the same thing. They're saying you know, you can't do that This isn't gonna work and images gets me. Exe did it not and to me it's an empirical question if it works or not and regard this will learn something along the way, so it was
is quite a risk. But I note that something that I am- and I guess I enjoy doing European in its adaptation redounded to the benefit of your patients, most partly so you started with this pilot studies with cocaine and alcoholism as compared to what you Travis the gold standard treatment at the time. But you you would, from there to other addictions. Can you tell us about that? Yes, the next step we did was with smoking cessation and there were two things I and to look at their one wise. Could smoking is often seen as one of the hardest addictions to quit. A lot of my patients will come in and they'll. Have you no doubt quit the hard drugs, but there are literally doc. You know like I just don't know what to do about the smoking. Often they ve started smoking way before they started using other drugs and they can reach
for set habit if they smoke one package, eight twenty times a day, so they'd come in having reinforced this twenty times a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year for twenty years. That's a lot of reinforcement. It's you! You can't really going on much of a cocaine bender right, your huge hit rock Bottom Railway Earl tried a united so we wanted to see it with this very ingrained habit. Could we actually help people kick that habit So the leading cause of morbidity prevented morbidity and mortality in the? U S, it's it's still a big health issue and we wanted. We wanted to look at. We could we strip out the components in the study we done without alcohol and dependence was a combination of mindfulness with a relapse prevention programme that Alan Marla had developed
very effective, and we wanted to see you know what, if we just teach mindfulness what if we just eat one thing and one thing only without in giving people more of the kitchen sink approach, will it still work? and it did happen and actually in this case was better than the gold standard right it was. We were just looking for it to be as good as and we found at the end of treatment was twice as good in our monthly. Wise is good five times better. It four months later I am very rear. Every left, river prevention- yes, people had relapsed smoking in the gold standard treatment more than in our programme and just say a listener to anybody who smoking jet has an excellent, app called craving to quit. That is very much worth checking which teaches you this stuff on your phone. So you can use the chairman of your distraction to
we're, come you're distraction and perhaps overcome this habit, which is killing you You want to say anything about the Epp. Will it's basically that treatment that we did in person? We cut it into bites eyes pieces so that people could learn it on a daily basis of five to ten minutes. Training. What we had also learned in our in person study was really interesting, that even though we were training people twice a week, they would go several days and forget. The practice is early in the training, and we said hello. We got to stop that. Let's give people that the tools at their fingertips so couple of things one is: we could give them those tools right at their fingertips when they were smoking, because, typically, when people go out to smoke, they'll have a cigarette in one hand and their cell phone in another but we might will use that for good as compared to distraction the other pieces. You know they can learn these skills in the context where they ve learned to smoke, which is really critical. They don't learn to smoke in
clinic, and so it somewhat of an artificial place where they're trying to learn a skill outside of where their normal context is here. We can give it to him right in their context. I and I think that giving the bites ice pieces in allowing people to go back and review practices that is really helpful. We can give them those in the moment. Exercise is right at their fingertips and we can also give them an online community where they can support each other, and even I can moderate that community and help support them along the way and we've actually just added and in app coaching component. That was actually inspired by your ten percent happier, app and and Derek and Ben. At ten percent of your help, us quite a bit in just helping us through how that works, but we can basically give people. You know a synchronous, the coaching so that you know they let us by their side this autumn, so I just wondered if you're, maybe people listening who are like ok, I smoke
There's no way. Meditations gonna help me with this, and I'm sure you hear this all the time. What do you say to those folks? Don't believe us right and it's not just about saying, ok meditate instead of smoke, we start by having them really pay attention Actually I love this one. The first to say: go smoke a ton, yet right now smoke as much as you want, but one the only thing that we add to that is pay attention when you smoke that's a really critical aspect. We have people coming back saying. I can't believe it I smoke for twenty years and I didn't help bad taste. I've been doing this, many times a day and I well. How did I miss that so there's this quality that you know our brain says. Give me my dopamine. I don't care what the consequences are and when we say well we'll give you double mean, but we're going to show you everything that you get as part of it in that mom
experiential e cigarettes. Don't actually taste that good and I had somebody just just ascribing to me how, when they inhaled that It felt like burning going into their mountain into their lungs, as does the patient in my group that I run at our clinic and using I keep it wow, you know, and so they just wake up to the fact that this is as good as they thought, which is actually critical and goes back to the bit his teachings. It's about exploring gratification to its end. When we explore gratification to its end, described it. Knowledge and vision arose and what that means is we never have this devil on our shoulders hang on unknown, but you miss something you miss something really know dude, I checked it all. Out- and there is nothing good here so with smoking- it that's,
it's a little more straightforward than like stress eating, or something like that where we do have to eat to survive. But that's the first step in getting the energy to go through the programme is is like having this wake up call. It says this really isn't that great, and then they say. Ok, I need to do something about the sewer conor rubbing their face in their own suffering that they hadn't noticed before so they're they're paying attention to it. Actually you mentioned eating the other thing when taking on witches, serve unhealthy eating over eating and and have you done some studies yet on that we just finished our first clinical trial with that ends that eating so one when people quit or are afraid of quitting smoking their worried about what gaining weight, because they'll substitute eating for smoking
So we had people report that they were actually changing. Their relationship to eating just reading are smoking scripts as we are developing that programme. So there was a big aha moment for us to say: oh wait a minute. Let's look into this more and that's when eight uncovered that this habit loop is actually probable, set up more for us to remember where food is then to lend to smoke Jody the trigger Behavior reward habit, loop that you referred to earlier right exactly the same. So instead of you know you get stressed, and you smoke a cigarette, you get stressed in you, eat cupcake, her Orioles, so the triggers the store ass, the behaviour is the eating and reward is the dopamine again, You you're at the evolutionary psychologist will say that the reason the reward the dove mean we get from eating. Ever is probably base back to Caveman times to help. Remember where we found the food dopamine helps lay down context abandoned memory, so you just know me who lobby
a brag on you a bit more. You also have another app which is called eat right now, which it which does for people with, eating difficulties of any variety, either right the severe or minor. For that So how does the same thing as you do for those with them? Smoking addiction in in the craving to quit up? In fact, we did some kind of Taster preview version on the ten percent happier app. If you go to the terrorists and have your app you'll see a little course with but using marvellous as a sort of chronic krypton. For over eating, but I want ass. You about that is on a personal note, is out I'm bugger on a personal note on about bunch of things here, but so I did the corset who I was posted a thing in and we
talked a lot about. The fact that I have I have notwithstanding the fact that I am scrawny eye over eat a lot, and so I'm like I have the worst of both worlds. Leggum caught a skinny, but I am belly. and for a lot of his around sugar and for almost certainly because I'm just not following the advice, but I mean I put a great deal of time and again into my met daily, meditation practice and yet struggle mightily with eating? grab that I should meet, and then I follow it through. I see what gets me, which is nothing yesterday morning I was on the set of good morning, America. We have launched candy, because we always do that. We have lacked junk at the end of the show and I ate like half a jar of disgusting sugar and I was so sick and so depressed the rest the day Those were my kid at nine, as I feeling awful looking old fat, I am and an end
I like I'm, not, can guarantee that. I won't do it again. So what am I doing wrong here so for the record I'm sitting across from year to year, not to recover Beth? I do us. Ok, maybe body diff. This morphinism and addiction issue will talk about that, knowing all fair here, but I think your pointing out as something really important, so it. This is, after your show that you did that so after you do something that takes a lot of energy. I mean I'm sure GM. Is it that's. That's that's work, Workin here yeah. This is what our brains, start to get depleted. So the prefrontal cortex, which is the youngest party. Her brain from an evolutionary standpoint, its graded doing
You know that restraint and all that stuff, while we ve got plenty of energy, but when we get tired so there's this acronym halt, hungry, angry lonely, tired, that's those are, and so stress, basically that's a big reason that that prefrontal cortex goes off line, so all of the any type of if you had used any type of cognitive controlling passed. So even as a part of the exploration, then all that goes out the window when you're stressed out other words. If I was relying on me just to explain to myself. Logically, through my prefrontal cortex, hey man, if you eat this you're going to feel like crap, don't do that that breaks, when you're tired it does it does so that I think of that is knowledge which is really important, but it it becomes, I as wisdom, the more times we see clearly what actually happened so your wisdom, develops from you remembering the rest of the day, so the net
time you go. Did you know after the show and there's a bunch of candy, you can just recall you mine, they literally means to remember, if you remember that time, you know when you are with your kid in after the show, and they didn't feel that great see how that affects you reaching into the candidly. Are you know what I mean? I've been beating myself up by this lot, because I've had the privilege of learning about this from you directly. reading all of the scripts that you wrote for eat right now, it's a great witch it when I say the scripts, which is basically if you get if you download it right now, you'll see Judd talking to you and I read ever Then he says, do on theirs. I've read all of that. I read your book. I sat with you innumerable times to talk about this stuff, and I practice meditation. who a day so I'm like pretty in tune with all of the negative consequences from binging sugar but I am profoundly addictive
mindset- and I were I'll do is like Sunday night, for example, this past Sunday night, I had a bunch of sugar, my wife, I was miserable all day Monday and I told myself, but I always tell myself, which is never again and then the king. He shows up on the sets every morning and I do it right so they're telling yours Never again, that's the cognitive control, peace. What it end! This is different for all of us though genetics play a role in all a lot of other things Clara. What you're describing is you ve got knowledge unit to the hilt. You, you know how this works cognitive early in your smart guy, and you get all of this. Now it's about being patience and paying attention every moment that you can win your indulging, because that will help dismantle that loop on an experience system level, and we know it's that is very individual. For some of us in I've had people who are like gap. I now,
every single time I eat a piece of pie. I eat what he calls an inch peanuts compared to a fifth of a pie, and I really pay attention and I enjoy it. So like that was something that somebody was able to nail in a couple of weeks, but I think especially you know if you got a genetic predisposition. This is something, that is just about every single opportunity that you have every time you indulge that's the moment where you can bout that as a teacher and say what can we learn from this and importantly Are you describing beating yourself up that? We think of that? As going in reverse till we, we beat ourselves up over something that we ve done in the past that doesn't help us move forward that actually reinforces similar types of.
weather patterns. Why? Why does it yeah? Why? How I don't that's a great question? I am not sure I could explain it completely ignore a scientifically, but if you think of the you know, if think of this habit loop, there can be reinforcing aspects of beating ourselves up so, for example, if you think of what's with just do this together, so when you're afraid, if you were to break it down into a feeling of contraction versus its expansion, would you say that being afraid as contracting or expand contracting for sure? Ok, the dopamine rush that comes from anticipating using is a contracting are expanding.
Contracting here now, how about when you get excited about doing something like you know, you're about to interview, somebody that you really excited interview contracting are expanding, often that's expense, ok so yeah, let's unpack that a little bit more, is nervous. That's like allows new asking to see you today. That was an expansive like ominously, my man, job and retire was incredibly interesting. Stuff. I'm gonna do interview. You know some if it can be contentious certain you like that I get a little nervous right. Ok, soothing, nervousness aside, and we, Maybe we can impact this in a second because there you know, there's often this mistake in quality of where there's excitement. That's mistaken, Vinos, there's a teacher site open detail, you described in know said we them
and mistakes excitement for happiness either, as brilliant idea was on. My list of thanks to talk to us will will place to decide for now. Let's go back to being yourself up when you be yourself five: does it feel contracting or expand, attracted so I was thinking about myself. It's all the story of me, so there maybe an experiential quality to that contraction. That lines up with this whole habit loop and the self reference around that you know the one thing you said that I realise that I'm not doing notwithstanding all of the knowledge that I have a crew from hang out with you, and also some of the experience, wisdom that I think I've like me it lays down a ministerial level accrued from being able to see her. Oh yeah to have the self awareness that that one generate through meditation. The one thing I am not doing, unless I'm on a meditation retreat is real. be paying attention, as I indulge Joe venom mowing, all that sugar
I'm actually not paying attention and I think that might short circuit even though you ve told me a million times to do it right absolutely That's where we see a lot of our folks really see. The big insights is said again. I started keep going back to the british It seems that there is a year in a safe place, for this activity will do so. There is in one of the sea. Does he was giving advice to his son lula- and he said when you're about to do and action reflect on it before, but if you can reflect on it during, but if you can't reflect on it afterwards and basically, you can refer you're good at reflecting on this afterwards and you tend to be yourself up. Little bits of that part might be optional, but just reflecting sentencing? How can I learned from this afterwards helps us, learn something as we developed that wisdom, we can then start to plop it. Pop that awareness in as we're doing it and then that drives us to be able to reflect on it before we do it the wood, the story, I'm telling myself- is it
so serve deeply, addictive and my personality in justice might in my personal history that really probably the only answer around sugar is complete abstinence. That's an interesting story, but you, you seemed. You have argued again met multiple times to my face that actually, with proper application of Michael is one can enjoy half a cookie, yes, absolutely and I've had given we run this lie. group at the center for mindfulness on Monday nights, where we actually parents are eat right now, app within person support. And a lot of people come in, say you know, I just half dig, you know quit sugared called Turkey and they come in and they say you know you're not suggesting to do that. I'm saying no! It cause. That's! It only works until our prefrontal cortex goes of life
so it there's inherent fly or not. We want to find something that sustainable long term, and so we say you know don't worry about like it? So what worried about his like they're, like I'm just gonna to Dolton. Suddenly, I'm gonna renewed not can have any control, which is pretty much what they're doing already they just don't know it. So we say just just go and indulged, but pay attention is do and really see in that moment that you're indulging what it feels like and that's where they start they come back, and I like his I didn't go crazy and actually I stopped a little bit before the end of the previous times that oh it's up and without people come in repeatedly now saying you know, they're big successes, art I ate in I really enjoyed and I stopped on us. I stopped when I was five stopped when I was full. So your lesson, your message to me is: do the practice, you already know how to do. Yes, that's it! It's that simple! That's the beauty of these practices It simply about paying attention? It's not
We don't have to keep anything else in mind. We just have to pay attention so that paying attention at first fact of awakening. It makes a lot of sense if we're not paying attention. We're just gonna, be on our habit loops. Now that Peng attentions Chris, call the add the quality of the mind as we pay attention critical in this, where I'd messed up in my own practice. That curiosity is the key aspect that you read. Those two sticks together and it creates heat so that we have the energy to do more practice into to actually it investigate what our life is like an that's actually the factor of awakening, very courageous energy. So look, I'm glad you rather up because it brings us full circle back to the beginning of your meditation practice, because this the problem, for so many people, myself included, we get The meditation and it sucks. You know it's like we do were paying attention to. The breath and it's boring, there's a lot of judgment about how
boring it is and how bad we are added and we're just run up deserve, as you say, through brute force, bring our attention do the breath and then we get lost than we beat ourselves up about it. The EU actually, as you say, before discover that this is not the most fruitful way to go forward to what is into a ye ethic. You ve, given us a little bit of the answer to that. But what is the answer, and how do we apply it? so this only took me about ten years to figure out anything my teachers are probably like is starting to understand the driver to detail I, and after You know going for a number of light, long, silent, retreat square. I would swear treaty shirts and even in a given cry on the shoulder of your teacher yeah. That was my first week long retreat. I was crying on this.
What are my, who turn out to be my future teacher Jenny Morgan. I had actually gone to a retreat with Bonteen Gunnar Rotten, this really famous. Well, you know it monk and teacher who read this amazing book, mindful in plain English, so it's it's very straightforward. The way he describes it, I just couldn't. Do it or I didn't feel like I could do it, but I was I was doing the brute force methodology, and I was thinking that you know I can do brute force, so I'm just going to brute force through this, and it was only after about ten years that when I was trying to do more refined concentration practice that I learned that it's not about the brute force at all. So what is it about? Curiosity, I think for us, these key. Ok, I her why and you you ve been my teacher on this issue. Frankly, for many years, you're the one who really put this in my head but a lot of people are gonna say, as I have said why what
in the world, is there to get curious about with the breath. It is so boring. Yes, I think that's an excellent point and I think so there are several things that we can play with there in terms of what is you know, what in the world is it is? Can we find interesting about the breath the just getting curious about anything? So we can kind of ramp up our curiosity. We can then apply it to the breath. So I wouldn't necessarily say you know, jump right into thirty minutes of breath. Awareness meditation, I would say, let's practice, let's, let's hold that skill of curiosity and I'd gone through a of time.
instead of doing sitting meditation, I would do a couple of hours of walking meditation in a park near my house and just a really refine that curiosity practice to look at leaves on trees. Look at the bark, even the patterns in the sidewalk, just to see like how can I let that curiosity get drawn in you know like a three year old child. Three old seem: did they nail this? You know they you can look at a blade of grass for a half and be pretty concentrated on that. So there something to be learned. Their gave a two year old is really interested in seeing the contents of his own diapers very ago. Yet the the you go poop meditation. So I think that that's the place to start not necessarily like the breath is magic its out the curiosity of the magical quality that that our mind has that we can foster and as we can start to develop it, then we can apply it to things like the breath.
Now. The breath also has some very interesting aspects to it that we can dive into. Like you know, I will often suggest people ok, just notice when the beginning, you know you're in breadth, ends. Let it just do it's thing if you're doing right now, but how do I know in my in breathless can add that's interesting change. Every time time so, there's a there's a quality there that we can even tap into two. This ever changing nature of our body, doing its thing where we just get curious out o it ended this time there and that's what it felt like on the opera. When does that end? When is that pause between the breath, gonna restart, whether in brethren opera? Oh that's interesting, so I think we can get curious about anything if we just bring that even if we just bring that call
but he n and forgot may mean, maybe because I'm a scientist at something that's come a little more naturally to me than others bit unlike fascinate about all sorts of things. Anything that quality is something that we all have. We dont weaken foster. We can develop it, but really, I think, it's more about uncovering it and your curiosity itself feels good. So it's rewarding in itself. that's what I love about this. These practices are so amazing. They actually tap into this natural raw urban planning process. If so, instead of that contracted quality of excitement that comes from wood, what you being about to eat a cookie weaken the replaced that behaviour with curiosity.
so the curiosities, the behaviour instead of eating the cookie the reward instead of contraction like oh yeah, that was that was awesome. There's an expansion which is moving, but one that quality of expansion to me is is not indifferent from contracting fuels. Much improper Inuits did Cecile so much better, but the other peace there is it's an intrinsic motivator rather than extrinsic. We don't need to eat something to feel good. We just need to tap into something. That's already there on this issue curiosity, our mutual meditation teacher Joseph Cosiness said about the things that will help me. One and two of you, I'm just going to a long list of things. One is When giving interrupt me and amplify at any point, one is what I said to Joseph one time what is a boring than the breath you others so boring, and he said well, you might try minutes with your head underwater.
Physically meaning goaded. The breath is not interesting is not interesting. If you know what you when you really need it and actually this kind of interesting, if you just noticed your breathing anyway, you know, like the bar is running without you or as John Cabot's in has said like nature doesn't let us our thinking cells anywhere near the capacity to breathe, that's just happening without us because it is up to us. We would forget to breathe and die and so I shall just close your eyes and noticing that this whole system is running without you is interesting disk bearing on my list here. The other thing it Joseph pointed out is that to know that you are breathing frankly to know anything takes no effort whatsoever, Joe. We spend this desperately Taipei, guys like me and you become, and we think no win, it meditation. The worst thing you can do actually. If we make it super effort full, but I asked
if you notice that it is effort lists the mind, knows that the yet your breathing feels the raw data of the physical sensations of your in Breathin outbreak with no end, whatsoever agitated. The only it required is once you get distracted, which is natural. It requires a little effort to to return your attention, but even that is happening in a way. That's out of your control, like you, wake up and nobody's you, have you haven't woken up? It's like it's. A waking up has happened So that's he's kind of an interesting thing to look at and if I could just add yet even bringing it back so it can feel like some effort to bring it back to an object There's curiosity. Curiosity naturally takes our take us by the hand and says oh, go back yet or like how did that happened? How do I wake up and look? Where was I in and yeah? That's all absolutely curiosities huge during the other thing that you,
said you have a little mantra which I love. I use it all the time my own meditation practice, especially outside walking and this really goes to the effort listless of awareness, which is we let your senses, rip Your senses are working all the time whether your paper over them with your own compulsive thinking or not. You be walk outside and noticed, none of it because you're thinking about, Oh, how am I going satisfy this craving? I have, or what am I gonna say, next argument or what are one of the things that might to do as a you notice. None nothing of the data. chances are gathering, but in fact, if you just let hence his rip, it is absolutely effortless to just see here feel and whatever is happening, and not only is it effortless, but when we breaks through that paper machine that we ve covered over it with good. It's amazing- I maybe this is where Joie de Vive comes fry em. You know we just have to feel good again,
it's getting for those anybody who has actually done. This is going to sound a little pollyanna look, that's dead. It feels good to be alive, but it does feel good, we have a high and it is no other less cliche nothing. You can say about that that doesn't sound hopelessly cliche, but actually just try it. It feels better than here. Let me go to another piece of wisdom. You dropped me and I talk about Judd is in the last chapter of my book, even the epilogue or whatever it is where you you talk about. the Skinner in that be asking, How does that he's? The girl came up with operant conditioning reward based learning the modern psychologist, and it was he psychologist. He was okay, so he this article, the Skinner Box, where he put a rat and IRAN, I can't remember exactly how it works, but they flee. The rat learns to avoid the places in the box where you get an electric shock and go to the places where you don't if you can apply this to your own life. How does it feel when you're contracted
into a self centered craving. Or anger wherever? How does that actually feel if you break bring curiosity to that and then how, feel happier actually just kind of letting your senses then feeling the wind on your face noticing water. You're, seeing noticing. Whatever your tasting eve you, Otis that all day long every day, your, and then you will just naturally like a rat in a Skinner box. Try to avoid the stuff that doesn't filled it. Yes, and I would say you note Joseph talks about this in terms of not taking things personally. where it gets even more interesting, is that contraction literally separates us from the rest of the world to it like creates a Andrey whether work in it, you know, have it wall, you know we're putting up walls between ourselves and the rest of the world, so
you if you stop building a wall and you let that, while come down in that expensive quality, you take that to infinity. Now you don't know where you are, because there is no you. This puts us in the territory of flow I say more about that. What is flow so Mihai, chicks and my high was this. A cot is a psychologist who described flow. I think back as far as early as the Seventys and in his book I think I'll flow or something like that describe this as a selfless effortless timeless immensely joyful state, their number of conditions that need to be met to be in flow. This isn't by the way, just isn't we're not talking about some buddhist esoteric. I know we're talking about. This is like being in the zone and sports. This is exactly this is synonymous with being in the zone. They just use flow unit, they're synonymous, and he even just meditation, is being one way to help people get into flow. If you look at those conditions, this is it
exactly which not only Buddhism but Pre meant pretty much all the spiritual spiritual take teachings that I know of so my wife said boot, a Bible scholar and cheat practices in the christening contemplative tradition. Same thing. when they called small self, so when the small self gets in the way that we can't, let God flow through us, that's the same thing as expanding to the point where you know we're out of the way and there's no cell, so the boot The Christians in I dont know many other traditions that well that Heavy Sophie Yachting available until you did that whirling dervishes lots of things help us not get caught up in ourselves, and that's that's what word that's what we're talking about here. That's flow! That's chicks, him! A psychology. Psychology of what these spiritual tradition,
so been teaching for thousands of years you, but I feel like this. Don't you get back to my own neuroses here, because whatever it's my podcast that I feel are united. I've put a lot of energy into. In time into meditating and I'm only seven years into it, and you said that it took you ten years to stop putting your head against the wall, so maybe have little ways to go. But I And I found it to be enormously useful way more for the record than ten percent but I dont know that I'm in a flow state that often I dont Zanna, don't think of flow is binary what you're describing with letting the senses rip. I think, in any moment we can either be contracting, are expanding and if we even just drop into that experience at once, we can calibrate what contracting verses expanding feels like and our experience. Then
you can start to drop into just noticing in any one moment? Oh, what I just did that that lead to contraction. What I just did that lead to expansion, and so I think of it more of a continuum of we can be constantly moving outward or we can be contracting more and more into a little neutrons star. Does it does it lead to something called enlightenment I dont know, but Sir feels good. Are you concerned with the issue of library trying to get enlightened? Do think. This is something that people should be thinking about I think, if we try to get enlightened, we can guarantee that we won't get. Yes, I'm gonna. Let that happen. its own thing and certainly am aiming toward. I mean, I think idea about enlightenment is is described in many different ways one- is about you ending suffering and if, if suffering is caused by this contracted,
taking things personalize any moment that I can see when I'm doing that and let go of that, I'm moving toward enlightenment, whatever you know, if we think of that conceptually, whenever that even me right, but experiential e in that moment, it's Already we ve already let go, and I think this is where it's really interesting to look at them like this and traditions in Nay, even the Tibetan Metricians, where they talk about were already enlightened and in it, Thus, if even talks about both and where we can work towards it, and we can all also wake up to moments where there no boundaries right showed that there are just to fill that out of it said Joseph our teacher comes from the old School of Buddhism, where there are actually like? Pretty d think landmarks that one hits along the way where you have these experiences of Nirvana. That culminated,
allegedly in full. Enlightenment were greed, hatred and delusion has been utterly of rooted. from the mind without remainder, however, there are many schools of Buddhism where they actually argue that your already enlightened all it is a matter of just clearing away the detritus in you in it's right here, right now Joseph actually has a kind of an ecumenical view, which is you can do you can think of both of these? it sounds to me. If I recall the your attitude is: don't get to him. Upon hitting landmark, sir, whatever just it's about how do you? How are you expand, expanding or contracting? right now right and if we're getting hung up on him- some landmark weaken notice, the likelihood of being contracted in that moment. that becomes the practice. Yes, yes, yes, yes, it's like it's a catch. Twenty two! You can't hit any landmarks if you're trying to Hitler. Martin
So let me ask you to add another interesting aspect of your research which we haven't talked about, which is where the aspect of research Franklin really made the most headlines, which is that you developed as a system of of noise oh feedback from editors to starting in a farmer. I machines brain scanners, the big metal tubes, Youtube you People in their including yourself and but you actually really really focused on other people, including a group of very, very experienced meditated and an you allowed them to see the brain activity and a key part of the brain while there were meditating visas. Tell us about about what the study entailed in what you are looking for sure and it wasn't just Wednesday This was about the probably five years of work that led up to it in his ongoing. Now when we found those behaviour. signals with our smoking cessation program. That embolden me to say: ok, let's look at what's going on in
One of my adviser said you know why don't you look at meditated brains to see what's happening, and I at the time was likewise, I'm sure somebody's done that and we looked into the literature, Their been some early work by Richie gave its lab that it looked a little bit at that, but with small samples, and so we said well, it's in a word. I was at yell at the time and there will be. We were a couple of hours from the insight meditation society, so we
we recruited a fair number of people from around the areas of retreat generation right. So you know we had some some access and also there is experienced folks in the northeast that we could bring in and the question. We asked a simple question: we said if we teach a novice meditate her three different types of meditation that morning and we teach and we have experienced editors- do those same meditations in the scanner. How different are their brains and the first thing we found was that their brains aren't actually that different, which was a big shocked me. We had carefully controlled, you know matched our sample so that we wouldn't there wouldn't be an educational differences or anything or.
differences because those can make it gives you a false reading in your scans, so not many differences. The other thing we found was it. There is nothing in the brain that showed an increased inactivation, which was something we were expecting to find activation of. What of any. So we looked across the entire brain and we said what part of the brain gets increased inactivity it during meditation. So does it go up Does that get activated during meditation and we found that there were no brain regions that increased activity. That tells you something that it's not about effort it. Yes, but at the time I was looking does I was everything myself, so this is kind of the me search quality. Two issues like well, I'm doing some things but they must be doing something, and I was doing something that probably wasn't a practice and so they were pointing out hey, you know, hears it interferes in here something to pay attention to more
When we then said well what differences are there? There were only about four brain regions that came out between these two groups that we're different, and we are particularly interested in commonalities amongst different practices, because if we found commonalities than we could find some corps, that could be useful, not just for one specific practice, but for a bunch of different practices, and this is where this brain network called to follow. Network came in. There was a particular brain region called the posterior, singular cortex, which, I mean hub? The default mode network which we witches Benji was playing with a default mode network is sure the default mode network was discovered by Mark Rakos Group at Washington University in St Louis. Actually, while I was in grad school, I didn't know the research that they were doing. and they were using a task that they called base arresting state where the the instruction was laced. Then don't do anything in particular and they wanted to task.
It was easy that people could learn quickly because its expensive to have people in their scanner and then could be universal, so there we can use this as a baseline task and then compare other cognitive tasks to it, because we always look at relative changes in brain activity from a baseline and they ve started seeing these brain regions get activated over and over and over there was this network that they couldn't explain and actually sat on their data for two years. I believe before he published it. In the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as his inaugural paper. So he was getting inaugurated into the national economy, which is like winning the golden Gold medal in the Olympics for scientists and you get one free paper. Basically, where you know it's peer reviewed, but you know they kind of Pat on the back. It's a good job. You will kind of peer review this Put this. He put it in and is now one of the most highly cited paper of mere imaging because has been so many times and what they found. and over the last fifteen years they ve now
we ve now that the field is now uncovered that this network is self reference. Also win worth thinking about passed off. it sure when we're craving. Basically any thing, when we even physiological thirst was issues which is interesting, weaken unpack that more later, but even when were ruminating about something that, when you're beating yourself up your likely activated. your default, my network and in particular the post here, you're singular cortex. So this is what this default. My network is in its they called it default. My because it seems to be what we default to and what we in, if you if you have ten minutes on the subway, be no are you? What are you defaulting? Probably thinking about something related to you, your checking, your phone, which, yes and yes, I think so. This is the background in terms of what the default my network is it. Our findings showed that both the Medio Prefrontal Cortex and the post, your your singular, were decreased in
in experience meditate her, so their brain regions got more quiet both while they were meditating and not meditate, where we we couldn't look at night meditating, because that was our baseline condition for activity, but we could look at connectivity how these brain regions were talking to each other, and this may be harder to explain on the radio in terms of how How old is connectivity? Differences were coming out, but basically these experienced meditated seem to have a different. default mode, even when they're not meditating compared to meditating, so in terms of connectivity, how the brain regions are talking to each other and basically there seems to be a self monitoring brain region that is looking out for the emergence of self it. I'm just kind of telling a story about this is maybe not be completely accurate, but this is the hypothesis
We have that it monitors for the emergence of self, for example, when we get contracted when the posters single it gets activated that, during that contraction and its you really want to do that, and then we can get our box yeah. Basically, You need to pay attention to be able to have that Skinner Box work. So with we looked more carefully and at that, when this is where we started doing real time, Neuro feedback. So we could do these a phenomenal logic studies where we can link subjective experience to people's brain, active, meaning, you'd, put people in a brain scanner and they would meditate It could see what was happening in in their default load network in real time. Yes, we basically answering the age old question: am I meditated
moving in that direction vocal moving in that direction, because, right week we have to be humble about what we actually know what the brain. Yes, yes, so what we could do is for the first time, this had been done much before, and I'm not sure if it had been done in cognitive neuroscience to actually bring these the subjective experience with brain activity. So often will of people do a task and they will measure their brain activity and then afterwards will do the same. But this and say: ok, they did this task and it was related to this brain region. So therefore, this must be happening and weaken. There's this big problem called reverse info, it's where we then look at a brain region and say: oh, that brain region was activated. Therefore they must have been doing. This will that's a big leap often, and so we can say, let's forget any cognitive leaps, let's just If this is true and that's what we were doing, these first studies with was to say: ok, look at a graph
We have people meditate, whether in the scanner, their meditating with their eyes open. and their meditating generally on their breath, and we show them this graph. That shows increased or decreased activity in the post using cortex and we say just check in with the graph time to time to see how? Well it correlate with your experience. So we could then link these two together and in these first Nowadays, we are finding a very high correlation between people getting caught up in their experience and the post years singular getting activated and when they were concentrated on their breath in the post, your seeing singular getting dia faded. So that was really reassuring to us that this brain region was actually linking to their subjective experience. But we found something fascinating, which was it wasn't just about concentration. It was about the quality of concentration. Somebody could be curious about, something that was happening in their experience and they didn't have to be focused on a specific object that curiosity
was also showing decreased activation and people are even reporting. You know just noticing, thoughts, by they were the one person? As you know, the less I tried to do anything the bluer it when the more the brain region went down, and so starting to understand what Yoda Tosh outright: try night do or do not. There is no try, so you're starting to see. This is where we started to get the hypothesis that it's about the contraction, not only inexperienced, but this can fraction was lining up with the post here your single its activity, and then it said, oh what we said well, how does this line up with the self reference this may be an experience yourself because contraction again like we talked about earlier contraction de markets, us relative to the the world. So then, all these pieces started coming together, more and more and more and it was- it fascinating time. We did this for about two years and
I remember even testing out loving kindness and when we are first testing the scanner out, which is a specific item, meditation right, so loving, kindness practice. You know I had a grant reviewer what say you know, there's this can't be related to self reference or brain regions, because there must be somebody doing something, and so I wanted to test that myself and we in I looked it with loving kindness practice that I was looking at my own brain activity and that thing took the nosedive it ain't. No, it got much more quiet at my posters single as my loving kindness practice kind of just leaned out, so at first was doing it for the people in our control room and then it just like took off you know, I'm I'm using this hand gesture of expansion, it felt really expanded and that's where my post, using that was getting quiet, and so here, even with loving kindness practice. You know there can be a row
you know I'm going to do loving, kindness, that's how I first started. I've been kind of myself as like I'm going to use this as a concentration problems at the same good vibes, all living beings, etcetera, right and when I learned its just about tapping into that expanding quality and the heart, then he just kind of took a life of its own ass. This is kindness, oh, this is achieved It will also. Let me let me again do that the self referential thing of telling my little story because of you, so you? U adapted this technology, this real time, Neuro Feedback, two to a less expensive and less cumbersome version, which involved, instead of being in a scam, error, which is like a thousand bucks an hour or something like that in e g rig so lucky you put these there is on the brain and you do it based on electrical activity in the brain and saw it. I tat I went up there. I think one time I went up there and tested in and it wasn't quite right.
I was telling me out: meditating Grech was, I felt really good. Then it went back up. and to have years ago- and I did a big long tested you guys in the conclusion- was that crystal clear I was activating the pc. I was ass. I was I was there, meditating correctly, I was crestfallen. It still messing with me this conclusion and is what to do, of me to get very, very, very interested in the effort lichness of aware Then there is really nothing to do. Where to go. It's all you have to do is let your senses ribbon, will notice whatever is happening right now, but that experience. In the scammer of both of us were kind of just like I was a little other. Where do I sign up? I was so bound, I mean, and what do you think was going wrong while the first thing I ll say is remember. You know if you are like, Forty years in your practice, you know you eve
been practising a little while others like months or years, five years. Yet so I so this is a man. Point is like great, were either word helping to play with this now as compared to twenty years down the road. That's the first thing I yet again, and the second thing I say as I have no idea what was going on, but let's get you back in now that you ve been playing with this curiosity and we could even have you do some curiosity practices in this. Get I'm getting all excited, let's try out and see what happens, especially as we refine the price Susan, we view and brought in some word measures that we can arrive at a more activity. I should say some feedback measures that we can even bring in with what we ve got scared. That was a pretty those are version. One point out the problem for me: is there you know, I'm one of these people who really hung up on and my meditating correctly. It's a very common core of. Why find it when we do corporate research fur for the ten percent happier Avonlea Tredick CAP.
What people secret fears are on meditation, where the big ones is, I'm not doing it right and that's you one for me, even though I hang out meditation teachers all the time and and so I, but it still busy doubt is always arising, mean in a lot of keys back to. What might be brain, be showing in Jersey G regret? Now I've been like its disk. It dogs me, you want a monologue retreat, maybe even especially what, when I'm on along retreats Gazprom. It would be good to give you back in there and at those moments that doubt arises. Yeah. You can notice what it feels like always contracting area standing. So in those two again bout it, those is teaches, like our here's doubt, awesome as compared it. Why do my bright? What is my, I'm getting caught. They get is wondering what my brain looks like it's a fact is a form of clinging clinging to makes itself expense me and my brain. Yes, yes, yes No, I'm aware of that. I think actually, what I've noted when the doubt comes up is just
Notice it as doubt it takes the teeth right out of there. You go but but it just happens a lot because I've. I now have this it's you might have proved that pathway level group, which we spoke in a long time really without really letting me without me, letting you talk with enemies, great let them specifically about the book, although I should say that if you read the book- and you should- you will hear a lot of this stuff, but let's just direct ill, it's just attack it head on what what? What made you want to write this book and what it? What do you think he will do for the reader? There was, the book of rose out of, I think, I'm just gonna, say favourable conditions which all I'll unpack a couple of years before I wrote the book, some publishers had contacted me is it? You know we need a book on addiction and mindfulness and actually talk to John cupboards in another
but you ve written books. What insight dude caution, caution, working you it can consume your lives would be ready to write a book yanks. Every view can do in two weeks. Well in so that at that point I wasn't ready to write a book. And so I said no, no, no, not now and and said I was about two years before I wrote it. Last December I December two thousand two thousand and fifteen I was gonna, do some self retreat and meaning you were close yourself in your house- were to do a retreat from other right I'd found. That's going to a retreat centre was very helpful. I done a number of months meditation retreats at it at a self retreats enter, but I'd also, then started, learning that when I'm right in front of my phone in my computer and everything in my house, that's where the rubber meets the road, so there was ed quality of practice. For me,
That was really helpful to do that, and so I was going to do that a bit my wife had given me as a Christmas present. You know that I wish I could stay home and retreats. I go on retreat, rather than I'm going to you going to visit her family at Christmas. I love visiting her family and all, but there was this was something that I don't get to do that often now is to go on long self retreat. So I was setting gearing up to do that and then in another publisher, contacted me and then out, I basically gone back to you. Don't I ended up publishing with Yo University president. There is a wonderful editor, their Jennifer banks who has put in practice experiencing and is very interested in these types of things. and his published some wonderful books like Stephen Bachelors books, so it just seem like you, the condition
were right, and I can say it, it felt at that point like this book was ready to come out. We were you know, hitting this opiate epidemic with addictions are work had kind of solidified. We done a bunch in all this research that we talked about had kind of come more to fruition, where I was feeling more com. But ended you, we could repeat our experiments in all of this, and so is like well, let's see if I can add an element to retreat where it's not just sitting and walking but sitting walking, writing and though I wrote the introduction to the book before going on retreat to make sure I could write cause I'd. Never written a book in my editor gave me the thumbs up and I wrote most of or, if not, all, of which now chapter two before going on retreat and then my instruction to myself was only right if your inflow are as close units in the expanded phase and just let the right
happened in to see what comes out, and so I would you know I would sit and I would walk, and then you know when it was right. I would just write that when the conditions were favorable or when it just felt like okay, it's time to write, and so I just would open up my laptop and just to let you know just let it right and I had written out kind of chapter headings before that, but that was it and then you just left the chapters rip, and It came out in two weeks. I mean I I about actually finding it less surprising now, because I noticed when I go on retreat. It is the most fertile period of creativity because once the churning looping fizzing mine slows down all the ideas come up. Yes, I have actually come back from retreats and looked at my diary and real, that I had a lot of bad ideas, but but a lot of good he has got to show what
with further reader. What I mean I can I can describe. I think it's incredible useful, because you you break down the way, in which we are all addicted, and you know it is not just opium Voyager Cocaine or food its tech. Now you get it the things like technology addiction to distraction addiction to ourselves. You talk about your own addictions, love for as in mad as an example thinking you talk about you're, so really breaks down the ways in which were all addicted and then gives us the keys to the jail cell. It tries to move us in that direction. that was the aim was: how can we unpack How we all learn? You know this now, Roy based learning process and the whole continuum from the utility we're like learning how to tire shoes to the far end of it. Shit where we're doing some behaviour, despite adverse consequences, so that we
all see in our own lives how we might be addicted to desert this this and then like you're, talking about you're, not to show people that our lives are a mass, but that we can, actually bring simple awareness practices and especially this paying attention to contraction and expansion as a simple way to start on unwinding those loops. This would be a good time to pick up The issue that you tabled or shelved earlier, which is the difference in this, is a key thing in it in a human life to be aware of the difference between excitement and happiness, we mistake one for the other in this connection. It led to addiction. So can you unpack battle of it? Yes, and I now carry out that by sea
this is speculation. But this is you know this is my working hypothesis and is certainly a buddhist hypothesis for sure yes, absolutely building on on that in just kind of reiterating what a lot of folks have described earlier. So if we go back to that contraction, vs expansion There can be. You know it's it's more obvious with negative emotion, so anger fear rage, you know even pride can have a contracted call. You like look at me
and there are even studies showing that people describe theirs. It there's this hot spot in our chest that that these all share. When we look at positive emotions, it's less clear. So the most clear ones, as we ve talked about our joy curiosity, I end love, that's untainted, I'm gonna say so right as opposed to acquisitive romantic love right right. So if there's you know it if the, if that, if there's love, where were right in the throes of an early romantic relationship,
infatuation stage, that's like being on cocaine, you know where were were fidgety were restless were constantly thinking about when we're gonna see the person when we're gonna get their texture tweets or whatever. So there's this excited quality to experience that if that overlaps very much with what I see in my patience and so when we look at that, that excitement is actually you know, Duke Agenda kit causes suffering Duca. Being the ancient indian word for suffer riot Duke agenda, I thought you could genetic. So we often mistake were like. Oh I'm in the throes of a romantic relationship. This is awesome in our coworkers. Look at his leg, and you haven't gotten any work done for two weeks. How awesome is this really because we're not paying attention were hi, I'm that idea of the other and the excessive
difference between excitement is is finite. You know like ie, eight EU, you you burn out, or, as our teacher Joseph like how much ice cream can you really eat? Could you have sex for seven straight days? You know that you can all do things exciting joy, A sort of a wholesome feeling of happiness which is expansion expansive You really can't get enough of that stuff, and that is a key thing to look for your experience and actually can tell you a lot about compulsive, addictive behaviour right and that all goes back to the intrinsic reward of joy versus the extrinsic reward of. I must have acts to be happy Rachel joy in order to be joy has to be right here readily available. That's the only place that I've found it. Yes, as two it somebody handing you a check or something like that which, not to say that we shouldn't enjoy those extra ringed, extrinsic sources
sure but be aware that they can lead to addiction we're just not caught up in those external things. Like okay, great, you know I can pay my rent, so I can pay my mortgage. That's never a bad thing, but we're like. Oh now, awesome I'm going to go, buy a Tesla. You know different story you different story? If especially me loving wrong, necessarily gang Tesla, but if you become so addicted to acquiring more more money that every check you get it it doesn't give you any more. Dover mean that's Daniel Round the loop right then we're on the loop such it such a pleasure to sit here and interview. We have so many interesting things, Eve down and continue to do, work people find more information about you. Yes, there's the craving mind which is, as it were, or were recording this before but comes out, but would the posting when the book posted
when the book is available from Yale University Press, but you also have to you of it at least to TED talks and am aware of I do there's a TED talk. That's on the TED site itself called a simple way to break a bad habit. There was a TED Ex talk that I gave a couple of years before that, one, It's just on Youtube. I think it's called you're already awesome just get out of tat. I love them and then also the to act, You ve got in here. You re doing more eat right now and craving to quit right. So there were sites for them are craving to quit. Dodd common go eat right now, dot com as in go eat correctly in the present moment, right gotcha, anything else there we should see any other entry points to the dead were universe. I have a completely self referential website called
that's an brewer dot com that links to those, as well as my research gig at the center for mindfulness. So that's kind of a first pass that people can find links to all of these. Other things. Awesome great interview, great book, really appreciate it, and thanks for having me this, funds total pleasure. Ok, there's another edition of the ten percent happier podcast. If you liked it, please make sure to subscribe rate us, and if you want to suggest topics, we should cover a guess. bring in hit me up on Twitter at Dan be Harris. I also want to thank heartily the people who produce with Pakistan really do very much out of work, a nephron, Josh Cohansey Hand, Sarah AMOS Andrew Kelp, Steve Jones and ahead of ABC Use, Digital Dan silver attacking next Wednesday. There's not a person in America who hasn't been impact it in some way.
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