In this episode, we have featured guest speaker Doctor Mitra Ray, who has thirty years of experience and helping people create massive change in their lives and trauma healing journeys. She has a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and a Ph.D....
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e306-trauma-in-your-brain-with-dr-mitra-ray-cptsd-and-trauma-healing-podcast/#show-notes
In this episode, we have featured guest speaker Doctor Mitra Ray, who has thirty years of experience and helping people create massive change in their lives and trauma healing journeys. She has a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from Stanford, and she's the co-founder and CEO of REST.
This conversation was so incredible, and I felt like, literally, just tapping the surface of this experience of what trauma does to the brain. We get deep into neuropsychology, neuroplasticity, and how your neurons fire in the amygdala of the hippocampus – parahippocampus.
I'm am so happy that I get a share with you it's times like this where I'm like, man, if people just pay attention or what they're about to learn, I'm telling you, if you just pay attention to what Doctor Ray is going to teach us today it will change your life, I promise you because it changed mine and many of the things that we talk about are some of the same experiences that I've been through.
As we go through, we're going to talk about the science, the research of trauma, and some key things that you can do to bring into your life to create change starting today. You could change your brain today, at this moment, and go from this process of being traumatized into being the hero of your own story.
This is a conversation where you need to grab a pen and a piece of paper. If you watch on YouTube, you'll see on taking notes as we're going because this is such an incredible conversation. Even in the depths of this journey that I've been in over a decade of this work and five years of being really, really, really deep into the science of trauma, I even learn more today. As you can tell, I'm fired up, and I'm very excited about this episode.
So, what are you waiting for?
Check it Out and Listen Now, Unbroken Nation!
Learn more about Dr. Mitra Ray at: http://rrest.com
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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest Doctor Mitra Ray who is the CEO and cofounder of RREST. Dr. Ray, how are you, my friend? What is happening in your world today?
Dr. Ray: I am good, the sun has come out, I don't know if it's as sunny as in Denver but it's been raining a lot in the Pacific Northwest, so, I'm doing good with the sun coming out.
Michael: Yeah. I love it, as it does in the Pacific Northwest. For those who don't know you tell us a little bit about your backstory story and how you got to where you are today?
Dr. Ray: Okay. Well, as an adult, when I started in university, I was really picturing myself as a researcher and I was thinking to it received my PhD in cell biology biochemistry in the neuroscience from Stanford medical school and I had a pretty strong career published in major scientific journals, received lots of awards, I was on a strong research career track for sure. But my own health kind of got in my way and even though I was walking the halls with Nobel laureate, I was not getting the answers I was looking for Michael in those hallways and I just talked to myself, you know, is this it because everyone was telling you're gonna have to live with these excruciating back spasms that I had and I'd lean over a microscope and make it worse and then I'd have to go see someone in physical therapy, something I couldn't afford ongoingly, I'd be on medications, I gave myself an ulcer by taking ibuprofen all too much daily, I bought it in bulk from Costco. And nobody was telling me how terrible that was and what was going on and a little voice inside me said this can't be it, I'm just in my early twenties, late twenties and I already have and ulcer that's not right, it can't be right. My father had also a heart attack and he actually died from his second heart attack and my mom ended up with dementia so, I was watching my parents suffer and then I started to see myself also suffer and I lost my father to his second heart attack just two months before I gave birth to my first child.
So, that was a huge loss for me and between what was happening with my parents health and what was happening with my own health, I made a courageous move when I was thirty years old to leave the halls of academia and research and start to do my own research and start to look for answers elsewhere and that's when I began to learn a lot more about nutrition, I just started regimen and this company had figured out how to put fruits and vegetables in a capsule form and I thought that was a good idea because I was a biochemist and maybe the average person thinks so you know maybe they didn't get the technology especially in the late nineties but I got it right away because I was using the same technology to the hydrate cells.
So, I just caught on to that and then I started getting results my back better just from these little capsules and then I started to research what else can fruits and vegetables do and here I was being funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society to study or look for cures for dreaded diseases such as Alzheimer’s cancer and I realized wow, and back then we didn't understand the power of a plant-based diet as well as we do today. But I started to educate people and that became my new career sort of educating people, writing books, doing seminars and telling you about people about this product.
So, I did that you know, still doing that and about three, four years ago well actually the journey probably started fifteen years back of a friend of mine who I met in graduate school who's also a neuroscientist. She had been playing with something called neuro emotional psychology and over the years became quite famous and people would fly like the wall street journal did an article on her because she started to treat people for initially started with hypnosis but then it went to this neuro emotional technique which then she kind of morph into something called rREST which is today's form of what you created, it's called it stands for Rapid Reprogram of Emotional Stress Technique and when I was her guinea pig and when I started to use it or she started to work with me, I had such amazing break throughs in my life that even though I kind was kinda winding down I thought in my life but I decided we needed to form a company and get the word out that we could really do something very definitive and precise to help people heal their individual specific traumas that they experience early in childhood. So, that's kind of like the short version of how I ended up here and I realized behind everything is emotional trauma. And trauma defined by an adult you think very, you know, extreme things like, a parent gets incarcerated or there's physical abuse but the important thing to understand about childhood trauma is it's in the eye of the child and a child can be traumatized by the most trivial of things because they don't have a logical brain, they don't understand the world and they could be left alone in the playground for a hot or they could be taken out of their bathtub a little too early and all these little things can become a traumatic experience for them and that traumatic experience kinda lives in their body and can be triggered at any time when you're not ready for it so to speak. So, I have really become an advocate that we all take a good look at our childhood if we wanna heal those patterns of behavior that aren't working for us no matter what they look like.
Michael: Yeah, a hundred percent. And that's an incredible backstory in journey to where you are today. And when you were talking about your illnesses in your early twenties my first thought was like well that sounds like stress to me, that sounds like this chaos of that environment and like maybe and I don't wanna put words in your mouth so excuse me if I do but it's like knowing the where I was in my twenties like not having coping mechanisms for being able to manage in facilitate that.
Dr. Ray: You're a one hundred percent right about that. Being a first-generation short brown Indian woman at Stanford Medical school with a lot of men that basically took a lot of advantage of me and my ideas and lot of stressful things happen wasn't so pretty, so, yeah, absolutely the stress didn't help and I did not have the coping mechanism, so it showed up as physical ailments for sure.
Michael: Yeah. I faced the same thing in my twenty is getting diagnosed with a couple of different things and just sitting there and thinking myself no, I don't like this, I'm not going to accept this prognosis and realizing that one of the especially important things that one must do in this journey is be advocate for their own health because of course doctors always have your best interest in mind I mean that's part of the freaking oath but like at the same token like, they're seeing eight thousand patients a week and you get eight minutes and ultimately I would say maybe don't spend so much time on WebMD but also you have to be willing to go onto this journey and try these different things.
One of the things that was really fascinating to me about what you do and going into RREST we're thinking about and I could be wrong here, so let's go into to this, the parallel possibly of other emotional behavioral changing the word those avenues like, EMDR. Let's talk us to the process of RREST and how that plays is a role in this journey of healing?
Dr. Ray: Yeah. Well, when you look at you brought up EMDR there's so many things that are out there today, emotional freedom technique which is tapping known as tapping EMDR cognitive behavioral therapy, all these things that are out there, they're all great. You know, the new psychology is neuro emotional psychology to really understand that these are patterns that live in our subconscious mind in our para hippocampus and our amygdala and they trigger the entire body, some amazing books have been rewritten like “the body keeps the score” and also Oprah latest book “what happened to you” really looking into childhood trauma amazing studies have been done like childhood. Let me do a little bit of history like, if this is how important trauma is to understand and this is a study that was done by and I'm sure you know it between the CDC and Kaiser Permanente looking at Adverse Childhood Experiences. Now they define Adverse Childhood Experiences from the perspective of an adult like, incarceration, divorce, abuse, serious things, children experience trauma at even much more trivial things but let's just talk about this study. The study showed that if you have more than you know six of these early childhood experiences then your life expectancy is reduced by twenty-fold compare that to like, smoking which is reduces your life expectancy by tenfold and smoking I know is probably the one that's known the most for reducing life expectancy but trauma is far out ways what smoking can do for you, so absolutely it's important. So, these newer methods like EMDR and things they start to look at how to manage the neuron connections that triggered those reactions and these are great starts. Where rest differs is that we have a way this all began somewhere, when did this began, when was the original event for each person that we can go back to like, let's say, today you found a job that you finally love, you found a career path that you finally love and everything was going well and then I don't know six months into it suddenly the rug got pulled out from underneath you and you decide to tell and you say to yourself this happens to me all the time, every time something happens because you're now talking about a belief system that you have and you start saying, you know, every time things start to look good the rug gets pulled out from underneath me, why does this keep happening? And people notice these patterns in their life and they go this always happens to me. Well, you could go to a therapist, you can do some temporary relief with tapping or EMDR and whatnot and generalize what might have happened maybe in childhood and then try to release that through moving your eyes and whatnot. What RREST does though is it pinpoint exactly with a we have a step by step method of being able to talk literally to your subconscious mind and play like this twenty one question game and figure out how old are you, who was with you, what happened and you've forgotten all about this memory, this is called an implicit memory because you don't remember the who, what and when but your body remembers the milieu of emotions that you experience, when we say stress it's really a milieu of negative emotions that you're experiencing and it's very particular and it's very nuanced and then that pattern get got stuck in your body. And so, whenever something smells the same, your feels the same your brain is just like a look a pattern recognition machine and it goes, these smells and feels like what happened to you when your mom took out of the bathtub when you weren't ready. Now that was a trivial experience really from an adult perspective you in the bathtub and your mom said, it's time to get out and you have dinner but you created this whole imaginary world in your bathtub, you are four years old, you were having a good time, life was good and you knew that if your mother took you out that would be end of this complex imaginary world you had created in your bathtub and then you have this emotional experience about that. You feel betrayed, you feel loss, you feel a threatened, you feel fear, you feel like that you're not in control of the situation, you feel all these complex things because we are first and foremost emotional beings what adults don't realize is that even a baby is emotionally highly complex, they may not be able to talk, they can't represent their thoughts but their emotions are as complex as they will ever be because they don't have a logical filter to filter out what is actually happening in their life. So, you're having this high emotional experience getting out of the bathtub and then next time something gets taken away from you before you're ready, you fire up that same emotion now that pattern gets stronger and over and over again every time something feels the same you fire up that old pattern and that pattern just gets stronger to the point where it's so automatic that when you lose the job in the present moment or that career path the story that I started with, right? You think it's all about today but it's not it's about when you got taken out of the bathtub. And what RREST does is goes back and identifies, that's what happened, that's all that happened and it's a non-threatening, non-invasive way to actually rewire, I call it noninvasive brain surgery because you can do fMRI scans and realize that now the same issue does not trigger your brain the same way and we cut out that original we heal, we emotionally soothe and heal that original experience, you do it yourself and it doesn't take a lot of work, it's just a step by step process, it's not like this huge work hard, emotionally draining kind of process by any means, it's simple and easy and when you do it at the end of it you're like, oh, it's gone. That emotional experience that I'm having and it's gone for good, it's gone for good because we've soothed. I think that there was a study in, I wanna say around twenty seventeen that was published showing that, once we open up one of these implicit memories, we have about fifteen to twenty minutes to reprogram it and that's the window we take advantage. We open it up in a session, we reprogram it and then it can never haunt you again and that's basically what happens during a session.
Michael: My first thought is like, there are so many places we can go in this right now. One being like, we're tapping into the matrix which I love so let's go into this. Early on in this show about three and a half almost four years ago one of the things I talked about was the ACE study and going into the depths of it because recognizing while I don't think it's the end all be all to this conversation, I think it's a great jump off point and the reason why is because understanding that research actually changed my life because I am in the small minority of people who have a score of ten. So, the entirety of this show which everyone who listens the show knows the truth started very selfishly because I was like, I need to find solutions, I'm looking at my life it's imploding, I've tried every modality the word I was looking for earlier on trying to go through this journey, I mean you name it and I have done it literally, all of it and I came to realize like, unless I got deep, deep, deep into understanding the research, understanding the brain, understanding neuroplasticity and psychology and reading and understanding books created by like Bessel van der Kolk and Pete Walker and Gabor Maté like, I was for sure gonna die within the next ten years that's where I thought I would end up that. And I've got a lot of comorbidity factors that I would say probably make that accurate. One of the things that I think about quite frequently is, I personally find that I have a memory like an elephant, I know a few people who do to me, I go, oh, that's the ultimate defensive mechanism for survival. And one of the things I found very interesting is that the higher people have landed on that ACE survey the better their memory is and so it's not so nuanced as it'd before many people and I have not studied this, I cannot prove it, this is just me going through this process of now coaching thousands of people. What I'm curious about and especially within rREST is understanding this brain a little bit better and going a little bit deeper into it, I'd love for you to break down these three states of the brain because I think that if we can get into understanding what it really means when we're talking about these neural emotional states, we can create some massive context for people in the way that I needed it four years ago and ten years ago and starting this journey.
Dr. Ray: Perfect, okay. So, this was a concept that was first put forth by Suè and she said, okay, she calls brain one point O, basically the Godzilla brain, I call it the lizard brain, other people have called it the lizard brain it's the survival brain, it's the one that people talk about the flight fight brain. And what happens doing fight or flight and with your brain as I said so these traumatic memories that I just talked about from the child's perspective these traumatic memories, get laid down in the para hippocampus because the hippocampus isn't quite developed during the first five years, so it takes a little while for us to build the hippocampus where autobiographical where we start to remember the who, what, the why, the where, those kinds of things but before then we're kind of in a hypnotic state and we don't remember all those things because the hippocampus is kind of. So, we kind of lay down these emotional purely emotional memories in the para hippocampus which lives right near the amygdala. And when your stressed what happens is your heart rate variability changes, what is your heart rate variability? Well, if I say your heart rate is seventy for some people, it's beat to beat it's seventy it's like the heart is keeping a beat, every beat is like you know at the right interval but if it's keeping a rhythm, it's a nice good high heart rate variability. Now if it can also be seventy because you average it out over a minute but it can be like all over the map like, not keeping a beat but mathematically can average out over a minute to be seventy still. So, it's not the heart rate but the heart rate variability that tells us how in sync our body is and it is the heart that rules the brain. So, ninety percent of the information goes from the heart to the brain, the other the way around the brain does not rule the heart; the heart rules the brain.
So, when our heart rate variability is high that means we are joyful, excited, loving, appreciative, those kinds of emotions. You can do meditations the heart math institute really put forth this idea of you know increasing your heart rate variability by regularly practicing appreciation, joy and appreciation for fifteen minutes a day in the morning or maybe in the evening, just regular little intervals and you can increase your heart rate variability. But when you're stressed what the first thing that changes uses your heart rate variability, it starts to go all over the map, your heart is no longer keeping a beat, that sends a messy signal to the brain which like, normally when your heart rate variability is high, you're sending a smooth pattern, you have access to your prefrontal cortex, you can think logically, you can also think creatively all these things are there but in brain one point O what happens is that you get stressed which triggers an old memory like, I described like the bathtub incident in the hippocampus and the information the longer goes through the brain but it goes straight back down the vagus nerve into the body and you have a physiological stress response, that's brain one point O it's a flight or fight response, does that make sense?
Michael: Why doesn’t skip going to the brain and directly into the body?
Dr. Ray: Because the heart is telling the brain were in danger.
Michael: Right. So, it's an autonomic response?
Dr. Ray: Exactly, it becomes an autonomic response in the body and you're in a heightened state and you think somebody threatening you or your life is threatened or something is at stake. So, you go into that survival lizard brain mode which is the amygdala takes over and the amygdala is the oldest part of the brain that's why it's called the lizard brain we share it with lizards you know, so, it's the old part of the brain, so we go into a survival mode. And we're trying to do big things in our adult life but we start to act like a three-year-old and we go into a flight or fight pattern, okay? This used to be written off as like, oh, it's just because that amygdala, you got turned on because you feel threatened well it's not as simple as that you actually triggered an exact memory of and as something that happened to you when you were a child and that's why you're having that response, okay?
Now brain two-point O is a little bit more evolved and a lot of high performers operate in bring two-point O that's when you figured out how to activate your dopamine circuits like, how to get a reward like, you know, everything from becoming addicted to your cell phone for the likes that gives you a dopamine response, to actually being productive in life and creating goals and accomplishing them gives you a dopamine response. So that is what way calls the teenage brain; brain two-point O that you find a carrot and you chase after it. And a lot of people do a lot of things to keep that brain two-point O going like, how can I create the next reward for myself? How can I get there? How can I say motivated? How etc., etc. So brain two point O was great when it's working however we tend to sometimes overs shoots our goals or say yes too much and we create an environment where we become overwhelmed trying to chase our own goals or something traumatic actually happens in life and boom you get thrown back into brain one point O.
So, what I see is people really oscillating in life between brain one point O and brain two point O. They're going after their dreams and goals something happens, they get thrown back into the brain one point O, then they regroup on vacation, go see therapist, go to a lot of yoga classes, they get back in the brain two-point O and then something happens they go back to brain one point O, two-point O, one point we just go back and forth back and forth. And there's just like, cycle but every time there's a cycle those stress patterns are getting stronger because there are neuron patterns and every time, they get fired we grow more the neurons get stronger basically and then the signal travels faster and faster each time.
Michael: Does that become exponential?
Dr. Ray: Somewhat like, it's the difference between like you know, the way I would hit a tennis ball versus tennis pro is that tennis pro is gonna to respond four hundred times faster than me because their neurons are so much faster, it's kinda like an electrical cable that is highly insulated makes the electrical signal travel all the faster, so they have very highly insulated neurons built for those neurons that fire up their hand swinging the racket, right? So, similarly our stress patterns can get stronger with time and repetition makes these circuits stronger and stronger and stronger, right?
Michael: So, would be fair to say that when what's call a triggering moment occurs you find yourself in this cycle the back and forth that would fair to say that becomes more intensive the more times that you fall into it but would it be also fair to say been it's more difficult to get out of it?
Dr. Ray: Yes. It's really hard you know that's why we have all the jokes about as you get older it's really hard to break your patterns you know and we know that young people it's easier to help them change their ways to speak because their patterns are just stronger, right?
So, we want to try to but there is this hack called rREST where we can break up these patterns like that you know and you don't have to work so hard at it, so that's why I love it so much. And so, brain three point O is the wise and integrated brain and what I am realizing not just me myself but the people that are working with neuro emotional psychology and certainly with our RREST clients we are seeing and for myself I've seen that as you start to break down these armor we've created in life through our childhood experiences, as we start to let go and release these survival patterns which you can think of is like we've put armor all over our body every time we you experience something we try to like you know protect us from ever experiencing that again. As we take those layers away a wiser and more integrated and far more intuitive, naturally, creative, person starts to emerge it's kinda like, you look at yourself in the mirror and you go who am I? You know, you kinda like, I didn't realize, I was as smart as I am or that's creative as I am and it's like, you can hear yourself again, you can find your clarity again because stress takes up so much energy, so much energy and when you're not wasting that energy being this background stress and it's not like, big red lights, it's more like static in the background and that static takes up a lot of energy because it's always in your brain, right? As that static starts to clear up, you receive a far more clear signal, you're much more clear about who you are, where you're trying to go, how you're feeling, you understand you and as you do RREST sessions you begin to have compassion for yourself and what happened to you early in childhood and you realize I'm not broken, I love the name of your podcast by the way Michael, I am not broken, I just had a childhood that's all that happened is I had a childhood with a bunch of experiences that the adults around me didn't know that I needed soothing.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely and I love this. And the deeper I get into this journey myself that this occurred to me like, for a lack of phrase that like a baseball bat to the face about eight months ago, I was going through this another certification process just learning direct trying to understand what childhood trauma and abuse like truly is and dawned on me and I'm gonna go somewhere with what you just said in in parallel to this. You know for me when I was four years old my mother cut off my right index finger, she a drug and alcoholic, I was homeless as a kid, I stole food to survive, I don't have a high school education, my three childhood best friends got murdered like, the list goes on and on. And what I realized Dr. Ray the actual truth about trauma and abuse is it's not and I wanna have a parlay in a conversation with you to say close I am on this. I don't believe it's those experiences that we carry, I think it's the theft of our identity and the thing that we have to go through is this place of doing what I'm hearing you say, get into the place of being able to live in this brain three-point O where we're actually living on our terms. Does that feel copacetic?
Dr. Ray: Absolutely. You're so on the many because it is a loss of identity because when you're born; you're born pure, loving, joyful and again for me listen, if from an adult perspective the things you just described, I felt that visceral in my body, I felt it hurt to listen to you talk about that but that's an adult response but as a child you had an emotional like, disconnect all the sudden from that joyful, you up here in this joyful state as a child and this happens and what you actually picked up on is your emotions or somebody else's emotions, the pain that you felt and the unfair and the lack of like, that is not a loving move on your mother's part you know, to cut off your finger like the disconnect from your true essence of who you are because who you see yourself are is how you see other people as a child, pure being and there pure being and suddenly they're not being a pure being, they're being something that's not like, I don't say logic because you don't really have logic but there's an this such a huge emotional disconnect from this joyful you're dropping down so much on the emotional vibration scale to this place of fear and despair and all those things you must have felt at that time that is the break in being, that is a loss of identity, it's literally a fall from that grace from where emotionally you're on this higher plane to this sort of unfamiliar to a baby. You have to understand fear and despair and just not lack of control, those are so unfamiliar, that is not how you came into this world, those are new feelings and that's the part, it's like, is that me how can I feel this way kind of thing, right? It's just unfamiliar new emotions that nobody explained why you were feeling that, you just knew you didn't like it.
Michael: How much of while you're in this journey of going through this process, evaluating, making meaning of these experiences. One of the things that I teach my clients early on is, you have to literally create yourself they're in my first book its subtitle creates you because there is this aspect of like as you understanding and overcoming trauma and abuse like, you're effectively and this was my experience like falling forward, just constantly in this place I known as we were speaking here and I thought to myself, can you and how do you stay in brain three-point O?
Dr. Ray: Yeah. I wish, I could just magically bring people into brain three-point O, I think you could. You know, the old ways is to go meditate somewhere for ten years, you know and pick yourself out of society but nobody's we just got that time and that's why there's such a huge interest in these other alternative therapies that are emerging and of course I'm going to say RREST is the most direct route to getting to brain three point O that is what we tell people is because you know by the time you've done, let's say, you know each RREST session is no more than fifty minutes sometimes they're even faster, each time you start to break up these fundamental patterns that have been running your life in a way that you don't approve of yourself and when that happens is that, I would say a person who's done like, twenty RREST sessions probably has broken up so much of the automatic behaviors that don't serve them, they have nowhere else to go but brain three point O, because their brain is clear, it's just like, this natural evolution that happens when you let go of the stress patterns.
Michael: Why do people revert behavioral patterns into things that for lack of their term destroy their lives while they consciously know this thing that I'm doing is fucking my life up?
Dr. Ray: Because as you said it's an autonomic response, they're not thinking anymore.
Michael: How do you prove that?
Dr. Ray: Well, meditation is a daily practice that can help you start to recognize kind of create a little distance from you and your thoughts if you will, if you can kind of slow down your thoughts or start to focus your thoughts maybe on one object. When you start to realize you are not your thoughts probably that's the first step, you know, like you are not your thoughts you're having your thoughts. And so, if you're having thoughts that aren't serving you that are kinda of what I call dead end thoughts starting to recognize that but it's hard to do that unless you recognize you have control in the first place and that's why you know so many people recommend meditation it's because that's like the first step towards controlling your thoughts from running away with you; running away from you, right? Like, you're actually just okay, I am just going for the next twenty minutes focus on doesn't matter, why it is this pen what am I doing? I'm focusing my thoughts; I start thinking about something else I bring my focus back to the pen just stare at the pen and breathe; breathe and look at the pen. So, what you're doing is you're gaining that brain muscle memory of focus and you start to realize aha, I can focus my thoughts, I have control over my thoughts because so many people run around and their thoughts are their reality, they don't think outside of their thoughts if you will like, they don't realize there could be other thoughts that may be just as useful or it may be more useful than what they're thinking. So, meditation is definitely something I would recommend for everyone that is even just starting the day I think in the morning is when you have the greatest control, meditation and then intention; the intention to literally be present and breath.
Breath connects you when so we can breathe unconsciously which is what most of people will do all day long or as soon as you bring your focus and your attention to your breath, you start to combine conscious and subconscious mind together and subconscious mind is also connected to the body; subconscious mind also controls the body, it's much more than just what's in your brain.
When you start to focus on your breath many things happen physiological, you can start to breathe deeper if you breathe into your diaphragm which is like below your lungs, if you start to breathe down into your diaphragm instead of up in here then again, you stimulate that vagus nerve, you start to calm down your heart rate variability and you start to send all the good signals to your brain. So, if you could stay that state of being conscious of your heart, your joy and appreciation, heart math they recommend those meditations where you're actually spending ten fifteen minutes, you could stare a pen or you could spend fifteen minutes like closing your eyes, focusing on your breath as soon as you start to focus on your breath, you're in this sort of self-hypnotic state where you're both aware and starting to connect with your subconscious mind, okay? And then what you can do then is start to focus on something that's easy to love and appreciate like just for a few minutes like, maybe I'll pet or scene in nature, something that you don't have to struggle with yourself, to bring up that emotion of joy and appreciation, right? And when you do that, you start to teach yourself, you start to build those circuits because those are circuits too of how to manage your heart rate variability. So, those are daily practices however all of us have these like, really strong patterns from childhood and that's where RREST comes in and I think meditation can get you there but it'll probably take ten years of your life of meditating to get there, lots of work or you could do some RREST sessions and accelerate the process.
Michael: Yeah. You know, it's interesting because I did a little bit of self-study research deep dive over the course of the last month. And what I decided to do was not meditate, I said, I'm not gonna meditate at all, I've been doing it for years, meditation, yoga, part of my daily weekly routine for over a decade now. And I said this month April, I'm not gonna do it, no meditation in April and I can tell you right now, as of like three days ago, I was meditating again, didn't make it because it felt chaotic, right?
I love that you use the word control, I want people like, sit in that word for a moment because people come from traumatic backgrounds. You know one of the things I absolutely fucking hate is when people are like, I thrive in chaos, I used to get guy, that is the workplace two thrive like that is the most triggered and hyper vigilant and chaotic cortisol induced place you could be and that's where I felt myself ebb back into and I was thinking about this, I was like, oh, wow, hold on, I don't normally ever do that thing that I just did there's something weird here. And I remembered being like, I'm not gonna meditate and I go, oh, there's truth in the power of this because I just done it for so long it became habitual and to move it like, I felt the ramifications and so, like, I'm a huge proponent of this.
You know, I feel like we're just starting to get into this conversation we can go so much longer but one thing I wanna touch base on before I asked you my last question is I wanna talk about that correlation between that brain health and the physical health. I just want to come full circle there, we kinda started there, we looked at your journey with that you being sick. There are people listening, I know right now who are like man, my body is just ugh, I don't feel like, I'm gonna make it till tomorrow, what advice do you have for them?
Dr. Ray: Yeah, that is chronic stress again that meditation that you do what that's doing is creating the right chemical million in your body and your brain to self-regulate all the cells and tissues and organs of the body. The cells and tissues and organs of your body are highly intelligent but they need the right signals, the right chemicals, the right biochemistry happening and that cannot happen when you're triggered and stressed because look, here's thing and this is how stress used to be explained, I went to Stanford where I'm at Doctor Robert M. Sapolsky who wrote the famous book “why zebras don't get ulcers.” Well, why don't they get ulcers? Well because if a zebra is being chased by a lion, he's in flight fight mode, his only choice probably is to flight because he's not gonna fight with it with the lion. So, the zebra is running for his life and then let's say he narrowly is escapes he's either gonna become lunch and it's over or he narrowly escapes, what does the zebra do right after he narrowly escapes? He shakes it off, he changes his physiological state, what is he doing he's shaking off all that nasty chemistry from the autonomic nervous system sending so much cortisol to his leg, so he can run like a man you know away from the lion but if in order to send all that cortisol into the body and get the legs to move and everything that has to happen you have to stop digestion, you have to stop normal regulation and maintenance of the body, your immune system has to shut off you're not gonna be fighting any viruses while you're running away from the lion so you literally shut everything off but that whole episode is not gonna last more than a few minutes either he's gonna be lunch or he's gonna get away and then he's gonna shake it off. We are being chased by the lion of mortgage payments and jobs and stressful and like guilt of not eating right and not exercising or over exercising or whatever people yelling at us kinda raise kids, that lion is chasing us all the time. And our immune system is off that whole time, our digestion is off the whole time, everything is off and you're also not running and you're also not shaking it off either, right? So, we've lost our mechanisms for control as you said, so we're experiencing chronic stress and we were never meant to live in a chronically stressed state, our physiology just cannot handle it; it can only do it for minutes at a time if we were truly being chased by lions that'd would be one thing but when the line is on your back all day long it's gonna affect your health because you can't self-regulate, you're not. You know in homeostasis you don't have a chance to get bring that balance back between your autonomic nervous system has two sides the sympathetic and the parasympathetic.
Sympathetic is that kind of flight fight or go, go time; the sympathetic system actually gets you out of bed in the morning which is good, you need it to get going in the morning, you do a little bit of cortisol to get up in the morning and get going and that cortisol pulse in the morning is very necessary however you don't want that overs stimulation of cortisol you don't want that sympathetic system going strong while day long you also need the parasympathetic system to slow things down so you can rest and digest. So, if we're being chased by the line all the time your sympathetic system is up here, parasympathetic system is down here. Meditation especially this heart rate variability you know meditation I was talking about where you focus on something you enjoy and appreciate that brings you joy, appreciation can bring that balance back to your autonomic nervous system and when you have that again now your body can get into spaces it, you can digest your food, repair, you can have your immune system working again everything's back online.
Michael: Yeah. And that's why always remind the listeners amazing Unbroken Nation to think about parachute, you have to rescue yourself when you are in your sympathetic and make sure you pull that freaking wire to get into your parasympathetic nervous system back and arrest and digest back into a place of homeostasis probably the greatest thing that I've ever done in my life is recognized like, sometimes you gotta pull that rip cord. Doctor Ray, this conversation has been absolutely incredible before I ask you my last question can you tell everyone where they can find you?
Dr. Ray: Yes. Our website is rrest.com and in fact I have a gift for your listeners, there is a beautiful meditation where offering to people on their self-worth which might have been something that happened to you as a child that affected how your self-confidence, yourself self-worth, how you feel, think about yourself most of the time and it's a healing meditation and you can download it by going to rrest.com/selfworth. So, please download that beautiful meditation and if you do it every day again it's another thing you can do to focus your mind, bring yourself into hypnotic state that can help you bring your autonomic nervous system back into balance as well as start to heal the other way to start to affect the subconscious mind is through repetition. So, if you do that meditation daily for about thirty days, you will see that it has a great impact on how you see yourself when you look in the mirror, so that's just a gift that I wanted offer your listeners.
Michael: Beautiful and thank you for that. Of course, we'll put the link in the show notes for the Unbroken Nation. My last question for you my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Dr. Ray: I love who I am I can truly own, you know, when you can own the beauty of who you are then you start to see other people as beautiful beings too but it starts with like if you can be kind to yourself, if you can be generous with yourself, if you can appreciate that, if you were doing something that doesn't see feel right to you instead of feeling shame and guilt really look and understand at least that this is just a behavior that's being triggered by your childhood and it's fine and it's okay.
So, when you become unbroken then you realize you were never broken to begin with, you were born this beautiful pure being and when you start to experience yourself from this place then you can love and appreciate other humans in the same way and naturally have empathy and sympathy and also be okay with your emotions like, we're supposed to be emotional, we're supposed to have emotional responses. Our world doesn't have to have fall apart because somebody died and we have to go through grief, we're allowed to feel emotions without the emotions taking over our physiology that's what it means to me to be unbroken is to be our tagline line at RREST is emotions matter master yours, that's what it means to be unbroken, somebody who is in has emotional mastery.
Michael: Beautifully said my friend. Thank you so much for being here.
Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.
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CEO and Founder
Dr. Mitra Ray is a woman on a mission.
She is fiercely committed to being a trusted guide for those who love life, those who want to be healthy and happy, and those who want to live to dance at their grandchildren’s wedding.
If you are looking for a proven professional who can guide you to better health - with practical and doable solutions that are easy on the wallet in these changing and busy times - then you have come to the right place.
With over 30 years of experience, she has helped people achieve remarkable success in feeling better. Dr. Ray received her Bachelor of Science at Cornell University and her PhD from Stanford Medical School. She is the recipient of many NIH grants and the Young Investigator Award from the Federation of American Societies in Experimental Biology. Her research has been published in such prestigious journals as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Cell Biology. Audiences in 4 continents have enjoyed her award-winning books, audios and lectures on nutrition, stress reduction, brain function and longevity.
She is the CEO and CoFounder of rREST Inc, an emotional wellness startup company committed to bringing a disruptive technology in neuroemotional psychology to millions and help them reprogram childhood stress patterns. rREST has received a Google Social Impact Grant to help bring awareness of this technology to the public.